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Danny Sjursen: Fighting the War You Know (Even If It Won't Work)
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In America’s Afghanistan, it’s all history — the future as well as the past, what’s going to happen, as well as what’s happened in these last nearly 16 years of war. You’ve heard it all before: there were the various “surges” (though once upon a time sold as paths to victory, not simply to break a “stalemate”); there were the insider, or “green-on-blue,” attacks in which Afghans trained, advised, and often armed by the U.S. turned their weapons on their mentors (two such incidents in the last month resulted in three dead American soldiers and more wounded); there were the Afghan ghost soldiers, ghost police, ghost students, and ghost teachers (all existing only on paper, the money for them ponied up by U.S. taxpayers but always in someone else’s pocket); and there was that never-ending national “reconstruction” program that long ago outspent the famed Marshall Plan, which helped put all of Western Europe back on its feet after World War II. It included projects for roads to nowhere, gas stations built in the middle of nowhere, and those Pentagon-produced, forest-patterned camouflage outfits for the Afghan army in a land only 2.1% forested. (The design was, it turns out, favored by the Afghan defense minister of the moment and his fashion statement cost U.S. taxpayers a mere $28 million more than it would have cost to produce other freely available, more appropriate designs.) And that, of course, is just to begin the distinctly bumpy drive down America’s Afghan highway to nowhere. Don’t even speak to me, for instance, about the $8.5 billion that the U.S. sunk into efforts to suppress the opium crop in a country where the drug trade now flourishes.

And considering those failed surges, those repeated insider attacks, those ghost soldiers and ghost roads and ghost drug programs in the longest conflict in American history, the one that most people in this country have turned into a ghost war (and that neither of the candidates for president in 2016 even bothered to discuss on the campaign trail), what do you suppose Donald Trump’s generals have in mind when it comes to the future?

For that, let me turn you over to a man who, in 2011, in one of those surge moments, fought in Afghanistan: TomDispatch regular Army Major Danny Sjursen, author of Ghost Riders of Baghdad: Soldiers, Civilians, and the Myth of the Surge. Let him remind you of how that war once looked from the ground up and of what lessons were carefully not drawn from such experiences. Let him consider the eagerness of the generals to whom our new president has ceded decision-making on U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan to… well, let’s not say “surge,” since that word now has such negative connotations, but send thousands more U.S. troops into that country in a… well, what about a “resurge” in already vain hopes of… well… an American resurgence in that country.

(Republished from TomDispatch by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Afghanistan, American Military 
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  1. Pat Boyle says:

    About ten years ago I was single. I joined a service called “Dinner for Six” which set up social settings for singles to meet – three men and three women. Usually the conversation in the restaurant was on some innocuous topic like – best movie star. But one evening the war in Afghanistan came up.

    I suggested that it was quite easy to pacify Afghanistan. The flatlands have always been peaceable. But the mountainous areas were refugees for all sorts of troublemakers. I suggested that we simply carpet bomb the mountain fastnesses with anthrax. That would deny all the high ground to everyone for decades. If the problem persisted you could renew the supply of anthrax spores periodically.

    Notice that there would be almost no deaths. If we announced what we were doing prior to the bombing, most sensible people would abandon the proscribed areas. I proposed bombing as an area denial strategy not a way to kill people.

    But the ladies at the table were appalled. I went home alone that night.

    • Replies: @Johann Ricke
  2. vx37 says:

    Can’t polish a turd. And now we’re busy importing millions of turds into this country. Really these are wars of Liberal Imperialism, where we fight to impose ideas about society that are grossly failing at home on third-world nations. The invade the world is really all about invite the world, it’s about defending insane multi-racialism and multiculturalism at home. In this case it’s about selling the Muslim invasion of the West to its victims by pretending the pernicious effects of turning over your territory to hostile foreigners can be mitigated by school programs, or burqa bans, or media slogans, or by civilizing them with a Maverick. Just as the Soviet Union needed a cordon sanitaire of communist countries around it to protect it from its own people, the System needs to quell Islamic fundamentalism world-wide to keep selling open borders.

    Any American, particularly any white man, who fights for this system, fights for his own destruction and the destruction of his nation and people, is out of his mind and deserves anything that happens to him.

  3. @Pat Boyle

    But the ladies at the table were appalled. I went home alone that night.

    Ever since roughly around the beginning of the 20th century, the limiting factor vis-a-vis a major industrial power attempting to defeat a less developed country has always been the industrial power’s humanity, relative to ancient norms. In antiquity, the wholesale physical extermination and/or sale into slavery of the rebellious population of the country invaded wasn’t considered verboten. It is today. The last time a European power did something like this, prior to the Nazis, was to the then-natives of modern-day Namibia.

  4. Private First Class Hansen Fitzpatrick killed in action in Afghanistan….

    Another pointless meaningless death….Hansen will never have children and grandchildren….never walk his daughter down the isle and give her away in marriage….

    Chickenhawk-Warhawk-War Criminal-Jocksniffing Draft Dodger Donald Trump gave the order to launch cruise missiles on the Syrian Civilian Population….4 dead innocent Syrian children…

    Donald boasted afterward on National TV:”Maria…after I gave the order to strike Syria with cruise missiles….I enjoyed a scrumptious piece of chocolate cake!!!

    We are dealing with a Jeffrey Dahlmer type psychopath…

    • Replies: @restless94110
  5. @War for Blair Mountain

    Um WOBM?

    Did you forget Bush? Obama?

    You must be a lunatic to use a soldier’s death to cap on Trump.

    What the fuck is wrong with you? Do you have that sickness called Trump Derangement Syndrome?

    Yeah you do.

    It ain’t el Presidente, bud. It is the American people, like you, who never said a fucking word for the past 16 years.

    Where were you then?

    Thought so.

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