Conservative Headquarters, by George Rassley, Aug. 24 2017:
What would Americans have thought if, back in 1941, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt or his Secretary of State Cordell Hull had said after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, “I think the president was clear, this entire effort is intended to put pressure on the Japanese to have the Japanese understand you will not win a battlefield victory. We may not win one, but neither will you. So, at some point, we have to come to the negotiating table and find a way bring this to an end.”
They would have been outraged, as Americans should be now at Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s comments that, “I think the president was clear, this entire effort is intended to put pressure on the Taliban to have the
Taliban understand you will not win a battlefield victory. We may not win one, but neither will you. So, at some point, we have to come to the negotiating table and find a way bring this to an end.”
Tillerson’s comments prove that he and the generals who are advising President Trump have no idea of the enemy we are fighting in Afghanistan, and elsewhere across the globe, and have completely – and shamefully – lost hold of the moral foundation necessary to justify sending Americans into harm’s way.
More importantly, they have surrendered in advance, demonstrating that they have learned nothing from Vietnam or the 16 years-long war in Afghanistan.
What General Vo Nguyen Giap, commander of the North Vietnamese Army, wrote in his memoirs and said in post-war interviews is worth remembering now:
We were not strong enough to drive out a half million American troops, but that wasn’t our aim. Our intention was to break the will of the American government to continue the war. Westmoreland was wrong to expect that his superior firepower would grind us down. If we had focused on the balance of forces, we would have been defeated in two hours. We were waging a people’s war … America’s sophisticated arms, electronic devices and all the rest were to no avail in the end. In war there are the two factors — human beings and weapons. Ultimately though, human beings are the decisive factor.
The people in the White House believed that Americans would definitely win and there is no chance of defeat. There is a saying which goes, “If you know the enemy and you know yourself, you would win every single battle.” However, the Americans fought the Vietnamese, but they did not know much about Vietnam or anything at all about the Vietnamese people. Vietnam is an old nation founded in a long history before the birth of Christ. … The Americans knew nothing about our nation and her people. American generals knew little about our war theories, tactics and patterns of operation. …
And in a 1996 interview with CNN Giap said that the North Vietnamese Army’s victory came in large part due to American leaders’ lack of understanding of Vietnam, their underestimation of the North Vietnamese will to win, and miscalculations about the effectiveness of guerilla warfare:
During the war everyone in the country would fight and they [would] do so following the Vietnamese war theory. We have a theory that is different from that of the Russians and that of the Americans. The Americans did not understand that. They did not know or understand our nation; they did not know our war strategies. They could not win. How could they win? As our president said, there was nothing more precious than independence and freedom. We had the spirit that we would govern our own nation; we would rather sacrifice than be slaves.
A similar calculus applies today in Afghanistan.
Our enemy in Afghanistan is not interested in negotiating a cease fire, joining a coalition government and being part of the “family of nations” that foolish diplomats and those ignorant of Islam’s tenets imagine exists.
They are only interested in living in a Sharia compliant culture and eventually creating the worldwide Ummah, or community of Islam, that Mohammad commanded.
The notion that we can broker a peace and some sort of coalition with the Taliban is a folly born of desperation for generals to save political face, not win the war Islam has declared on the West.
From the failed efforts to implement a new Counterinsurgency (COIN) doctrine in Afghanistan, to the false deadlines Obama established for withdrawal, nothing American leaders have done has achieved the goal of a stable regime in Afghanistan that is inhospitable to Muslim terrorist organizations with transnational aspirations and capabilities.
And the reason for this failure has nothing to do with the bravery and selflessness of the American military personnel deployed to accomplish the goal – it has everything to do with the unwillingness of American political level leaders to recognize what enemy we are fighting and to deploy the correct resources to defeat it.
The war in Afghanistan isn’t a regional or tribal conflict, it isn’t a war on “terrorism,” it isn’t a war on narco-warlords (even though 90% of the worlds illicit opium originates there); it is a war between the values of Islam and the values of the Western Enlightenment, and if you refuse to understand it and fight it on those terms the war in Afghanistan will never be over and certainly never be won.
What General McMaster and his new team of yes men at the NSC don’t seem to grasp is that the enemy in Afghanistan isn’t the Taliban insurgency; it is their underlying ideology of Islam and the allegiance of the majority of the Afghan people to a misogynistic 7th Century Sharia-based Muslim culture.
If you understand that the teachings of Islam are the fundamental motivators of the people who we are fighting in Afghanistan, then that should inform our entire strategy.
That means instead of sending a few thousand troops to Afghanistan we need to deploy all the means of our national power against the real enemy – the doctrines of Islam that motivate the Taliban.
It means we deploy psyops to attack the enemy’s belief system. It means we offer an alternative belief system to replace the one that is motivating the enemy. And it means we attack the centers and advocates of that belief system.
The United States is doing none of that in Afghanistan, because, as far as we can tell, McMaster and his new yes men believe that “Islam is a religion of peace” and not the real enemy.
While there is no doubt that, given unlimited operational freedom and resources, the United States military could defeat the Taliban, that wouldn’t defeat the enemy of Sharia supremacy.
Fanned by Iran, and other sources of Muslim culture, it would pop-up again unless Afghan society is completely remade through a multi-generational program of nation building that, under present circumstances, few, if any, Americans would be willing to support and even fewer Afghans would welcome.
President Trump’s initial lack of confidence in H.R. McMaster’s National Security Council work was well founded, because far from being a “new strategy” what McMaster, Secretary Mattis and Generals Nicholson and Votel are advocating is the same old strategy made new only by the new generation of brave Americans who will be sacrificed to their lack of vision and comprehension of exactly who and what the enemy is in Afghanistan.
This is something that Mike Flynn understood and sold the President on before he was ousted. And it is something that Rich Higgins understood, and worked diligently to make part of President Trump’s policy – and was canned by McMaster for so doing.
The strategy for Afghanistan H.R McMaster has sold to President Trump isn’t a strategy for victory, it is a strategy to save face for generals and politicians.
Until we fight the whole war in Afghanistan – not just the one on the kinetic battlefield – sending one more American to Afghanistan is an act every bit as immoral and unsupportable as sending thousands of brave Americans into the jungles of Vietnam, not to win the war, but so that American political leaders could declare victory and go home.
George Rasley is editor of Richard Viguerie’s ConservativeHQ.com. A veteran of over 300 political campaigns, he served on the staff of Vice President Dan Quayle, as Director of Policy and Communication for Congressman Adam Putnam (FL-12) then Vice Chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs, and as spokesman for Rep. Mac Thornberry now-Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.