I recently returned to the presidency of John F. Kennedy in search of how the United States became involved in the Vietnam War seeking to uncover parallels with the current situation in Afghanistan. There is a memorable story of President Kennedy summoning high ranking generals and admirals to discuss a growing crisis in Berlin created by Soviet leader Nikita Khruschev’s decision to construct the Berlin Wall. The military had prepared plans on how to respond to the situation. At one point, Kennedy examines a plan and notes it calls for attacking China’s nuclear sites. He points out China has yet to construct an atomic bomb, but is informed, “the attack is part of the plan.” After listening to the military, the president realizes their plans are foolish. He walks from the room with Robert Kennedy and mumbles, “these guys are crazy, keep them away from me.” His brother sighs and adds, “did you ever get the feeling you wanted to get off this planet?” If there is one thing certain about any military plan, is that it is based on outdated information and is a hypothesis filled with errors of fact or based on misinformation.
US military leaders for over two years have insisted we are gradually “winning in Afghanistan.” I doubt if they could clearly define the word, “winning.” In fact, it is doubtful if they have the slightest conception of what Afghanistan will be like a year or two years from now. We don’t know how to ‘win” in Afghanistan. Sorry, I apologize for not joining in general acclaim accorded General Petraeus whose “surge” won the battle in Iraq. Every day we have reports of bombings, deaths, and there is no sign that al-Qaeda will shortly depart Iraq, but everyone refers to the Petraeus “success” in his surge. He is hailed as a military genius for reducing violence in Iraq. A WWII general, he is not.
The bottom line is America’s military leaders lack a plan on how to “win” in Afghanistan, let alone to offer a portrait of this supposed success. For over two years, this blog has been urging the arming of villagers and clan leaders and getting the hell out of Afghanistan. Let the Taliban handle problems of running a country. Who knows, they might invite us to return.