There is a saying about releasing the “dogs of war" meaning that when you go to war you pull out all the stops and defeat your enemy. Which brings us to Afghanistan. We deployed to that infamous battlefield still littered with Soviet tanks and our own small arms and explosives from nearly a quarter of a century ago to attack the ones who attacked us….it is now over a decade later, and it seems that no one actually knows what our objective is and what the most lethal military arsenal in the history of the world is doing in the Afghan wilderness.
Besides the unbelievable rules of engagements that we command our troops to use in this “war” which include limitations never before seen on a battlefield and which by the very use of such limitations make victory virtually impossible, there seems to be no clear tactical objective of what the goal is of this prolonged engagement.
It seems that our civilian government, which has taken a much more active role in military structure and tactical command than any previous time in our history, has tried to create if it can be said the “perfect war” meaning a war in which there are minimized civilian casualties and minimum collateral damage, but the truth is when you are in a self-described WAR there is no perfection only death, mayhem and destruction. And while today’s culture would never condone another Dresden, when in war you can’t win pretty. When you make rules on your troops while your enemy follows NO RULES you initiate your own destruction. We are fighting against fanatical terrorists and while one doesn’t approve of meeting them on their level, one should be aware that if you think they subscribe to the Geneva Convention you are greatly mistaken.
The crux of this issue is that we went to war in Afghanistan it was to hunt Al Qaeda and take the fight to the terrorists, now we are talking about a peace treaty with the Taliban and limiting our troops ability to make war. Civilian casualties on a war-torn battlefield are beyond regrettable but if every time a terrorist hides in a town he gets a free pass it doesn’t take long before the military arm of this great nation becomes what amounts to a highly trained, heavily armed bird watcher. You don’t have to be an isolationist to think if these are the rules of this contest then maybe the sacrifice of American blood and treasure in this theater of war should come to an end. As echoed in the Powell Doctrine, either let our brave troops have a clear mission, clear tactical support to carry out that mission and a clear exit strategy or bring them home. Through the supposed “lessons” of previous wars including Vietnam, one would think our government would glean the fact that while civilian oversight of the military is important in maintaining a democracy, most elected officials have no concept of how to conduct battle and should just look to our not too distant history when a second rate corporal turned dictator thought he could take over the world. Our men and women in uniform deserve our support and have fought too hard for us to now have them spilling blood on foreign soil with no clear mission objective and without the means to properly execute those objectives. If we are negotiating peace with an enemy, not from a position of strength but of our political confusion, then truly what type of peace do we hope to achieve. Do we leave Afghanistan back to the Taliban and assure that country of another generation of civil war or do we take the shackles off, bring “war” to this regime we had vowed to topple and then when that objective is reached honor our troops and those who have fallen and bring them home. The often used adage “Those who don’t learn from the mistakes of history are doomed to repeat them” is true but if one focuses so much on the mistakes that we can’t move forward and learn from our victories and what has made this nation great we are in danger just the same!