Journal: Afghanistan Myths & Triumph Foresaken

08 Wild Cards, Strategy

Full Story Online
Full Story Online

November 9, 2009

Afghan Mythologies by Victor Davis Hanson

As President Obama decides whether to send more troops to Afsghanistan, we should remember that most of the conventional pessimism about Afghanistan is only half-truth.

Remember the mantra that the region is the “graveyard of empires,” where Alexander the Great, the British in the 19th century, and the Soviets only three decades ago inevitably met their doom?

In fact, Alexander conquered most of Bactria and its environs (which included present-day Afghanistan). After his death, the area that is now Afghanistan became part of the Seleucid Empire.

Centuries later, outnumbered British-led troops and civilians were initially ambushed, and suffered many casualties, in the first Afghan war. But the British were not defeated in their subsequent two Afghan wars between 1878 and 1919.

The Soviets did give up in 1989 their nine-year effort to create out of Afghanistan a communist buffer state — but only because the Arab world, the United States, Pakistan and China combined to provide the Afghan mujahideen resistance with billions of dollars in aid, not to mention state-of-the-art anti-aircraft and anti-tank weapons.

While Afghans have been traditionally fierce resistance fighters and made occupations difficult, they have rarely for long defeated invaders — and never without outside assistance.

Other mythologies about Afghanistan abound.

Phi Beta Iota: There is a great deal of good sense in the above contribution, and the full story online is as always with anything we post, recommended.    We also recommend the revisionist history, Triumph Forsaken: The Vietnam War, 1954-1965 (v. 1) as well as the Journal entry, Journal: Marcus Aurelius Flags “The Class Too Dumb to Quit”

.  Where all this breaks down at the strategic level is with the USA’s penchant for three strikes and out.

Strike One: No moral reason for action–loss of strategic legitimacy among Nations, and loss of tactical legitimacy among the various ethnic entities.

Strike Two: No Whole of Government planning, programmning, and budgeting for holistic operations that meet the basic needs of the population for clean water, sewage and health, electricity, communications.

Strike Three: Failure to see, hear, report, and integrate the truth at any cost from the tactical level on up.  Until the truth is on the table, it is not possible to devise an effective campaign plan that is sustainable and affordable.