Sunday, October 4, 2009
What defines victory in Afghanistan?
There is a LOT of honking going on these days throughout the media about the war in Afghanistan; General McChyrstal needs an additional 30,000 – 40,000 troops to win it while at the same time it's unwinnable. The Soviets couldn’t hold it, the British Empire couldn’t hold it, even Alexander the Great couldn’t hold it; it is the Graveyard of Empires. It’s not the same war it was eight years ago, what defines victory criteria? We need to cut our losses and get out (English translation: cut and run), etcetera, etcetera, ad infinatum ad nauseum.
I suggest that, in the war in Afghanistan; seizing, holding and stabilizing the country of Afghanistan itself does not have anything to do with victory criteria. This is because the war in Afghanistan is not about Afghanistan; Afghanistan simply happens to be a vast battlefield in a global conflict, that which until very recently was known as the Global War on Terror.
Afghanistan is a wild, rugged land, beautiful in it's own way, with a rich cultural heritage that goes back thousands of years.
View of the shell of the "Large Buddha" and surrounding caves in Bamyan. The Buddha statue in this cave as well as in another - both dating to the sixth century A.D. - were destroyed by the Taliban in 2001.
We are not in Afghanistan to liberate those people from the Taliban; that is merely a side-effect of our main effort. We are in Afghanistan to find and destroy the leadership command and control element of al Qaeda. Holding Afghanistan (which of course requires stabilizing it form the forces that seek to fracture that land) is a sub-set of our effort against al Qaeda.
This is the objective, and we must never lose sight of this simple goal: find and destroy the leadership command and control element of al Qaeda.
So the question is not, “should we stay in Afghanistan?” or even “is Afghanistan winnable?” The simple fact of the matter is we MUST stay in Afghanistan, and every where else our presence is required to stamp out and exterminate that which is known as al Qaeda. If this takes ten, twenty, thirty or even a hundred years then that is the requirement. That is our simple objective
The reason WHY we must do this is that we must never, ever let up the pressure on al Qaeda; because THEIR objective is to do whatever it takes to make 9/11 look like a Sunday School picnic.
Asked if al Qaeda had nuclear or chemical weapons (Time magazine, December 24, 1998), bin Laden stated that “acquiring weapons for the defense of Muslims is a religious duty. If I have indeed acquired these weapons, then I thank God for enabling me to do so.”
Osama bin Laden has a deep-rooted belief that Allah has commanded him to use WMDs to kill Christians and Jews. In the summer of 2002, Suleiman Abu Ghaith, a Kuwaiti born spokesman for al Qaeda, posted the following statement on the Internet: “Al Qaeda has the right to kill four million Americans, including one million children, displace double that figure, and injure and cripple hundreds of thousands.”
Nasir bin Hamd al-Fahd, a leading Saudi cleric, released his "Treatise on the Legal Status of Using Weapons of Mass Destruction Against the Infidels” in May of 2003. This became the basis for an al Qaeda fatwa sanctioning the use of nuclear weapons against the US and permitted the killing of up to ten million Americans.
It is the stated goal of Osama bin Laden and the al Qaeda hierarchy, to acquire nuclear and/or chemical weapons of mass destruction, to transport them to the United States, and to kill between 4 to 10 million American men, women and children.
The day after they accomplish such an atrocity, our efforts in Afghanistan, Iraq, the Horn of Africa, the Philippines, and everywhere else al Qaeda manifests itself to include Europe, Central and South America, and even North America, will look a LOT more necessary.