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The Afghan Correction

The Afghan Correction

Interventionistas never seem to learn these seven truths about war and ‘nation building.’

The chaotic rout of the U.S. in Afghanistan has got the chattering classes all agape and gawking.

One of the poorest countries in the world with virtually no GDP has defeated one of the richest.

OMG

A low-energy spender humbled a high-flying petro consumer.

WTF

Bearded men with time outwaited technocrats with ticking watches.

OMG!!

Another “weak actor” with AK 47s bested “a strong actor” with drones and AI.

WTF???

And on it goes.

But America’s disastrous intervention and ignoble retreat illustrates some uncomfortable if not random truths that are left out of the chatter.

They include the perils of intervention, cycles of imperial collapse, economic theft, energy limits, the power of demographics and ecological degradation.

Here are seven truths we have been taught, yet again, in Afghanistan.

1. Interventionistas by definition do harm.

The straight-talking philosopher and risk expert Nassim Nicholas Taleb lays out the disastrous hubris of interventionista thinking in his excellent book Skin in the Game. Interventionistas, he says, not only lack practical sense, but they never learn from history. They also fail at pure reasoning and cannot imagine complex interactions let alone consequences. (Author Wendell Berry called such unaccountable people “itinerant professional vandals.”) These vandals tend to symbolize the adage that experience is making the same mistake over and over again but with greater confidence.

American interventionistas, just like their Russian and Chinese counterparts, pretend that they can replace regimes, build nations, rewire economies and terrorize civilians with bombs and all without unforeseen consequences.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Planet of War: Still Trapped in a Greater Middle Eastern Quagmire, the U.S. Military Prepares for Global Combat

Planet of WarStill Trapped in a Greater Middle Eastern Quagmire, the U.S. Military Prepares for Global Combat

American militarism has gone off the rails — and this middling career officer should have seen it coming. Earlier in this century, the U.S. military not surprisingly focused on counterinsurgency as it faced various indecisive and seemingly unending wars across the Greater Middle East and parts of Africa. Back in 2008, when I was still a captain newly returned from Iraq and studying at Fort Knox, Kentucky, our training scenarios generally focused on urban combat and what were called security and stabilization missions. We’d plan to assault some notional city center, destroy the enemy fighters there, and then transition to pacification and “humanitarian” operations.

Of course, no one then asked about the dubious efficacy of “regime change” and “nation building,” the two activities in which our country had been so regularly engaged. That would have been frowned upon. Still, however bloody and wasteful those wars were, they now look like relics from a remarkably simpler time. The U.S. Army knew its mission then (even if it couldn’t accomplish it) and could predict what each of us young officers was about to take another crack at: counterinsurgency in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Fast forward eight years — during which this author fruitlessly toiled away in Afghanistan and taught at West Point — and the U.S. military ground presence has significantly decreased in the Greater Middle East, even if its wars there remain “infinite.” The U.S. was still bombing, raiding, and “advising” away in several of those old haunts as I entered the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. Nonetheless, when I first became involved in the primary staff officer training course for mid-level careerists there in 2016, it soon became apparent to me that something was indeed changing.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Final Collapse of Bush’s Nation-Building: Kunduz falls to Taliban

The Final Collapse of Bush’s Nation-Building: Kunduz falls to Taliban

On Monday, the Taliban swept into the provincial capital of Kunduz, taking it in half a day from a large and well-equipped Afghan National Army force. Tuesday’s riposte had only mixed success, with the ANA saying it had taken back the (no-empty) prison. An attempt to take back the airport failed, and when the Taliban captured an ANA tank, the US Air Force had to intervene to take it out lest it be used to drive an ANA rout.

Those who want the US to go into Syria in a big way should just consider what the Kunduz events mean. Fourteen years after the US went into Afghanistan, it still has not been able to stand up a successful army to which it could hope to turn the country over. How many orphans do the hawks want to adopt?

During the Athens summer Olympics of 2004, the Bush administration ran advertisements boasting that it had liberated 50 million people. It meant 25 million each in Iraq and Afghanistan. Most people in the world, according to opinion polls, thought Bush had occupied 50 million people.

The administration described what it was doing as “nation-building.” There was some infrastructural spending. Many schools were apparently painted. Some restoration of electricity grids were undertaken, though both countries remain chronically short of electricity and local engineers and electricians could not keep up the American equipment. There was no big push to train administrators, found factories and hospitals, etc. of the sort that even a 19th state such as Meiji Japan undertook. A lot of contractors made billions and took it back to Fairfax county, Virginia.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

 

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