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How Deep do You Have to Dig a Hole Before You Can't Get out?

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I do not have an answer to that question. However, this much I do know; when President Obama made his fateful decision to escalate our involvement in Afghanistan, he should have remembered this age-old truism: when you know full well that you have dug yourself into a very deep hole, the one thing you must do is stop digging; unfortunately he is still at it.

But, then again, not to worry. Mr. Obama is armed with the knowledge that the U.S. has the most powerful military in the history of the world and that no nation would ever make the mistake of challenging it. He knows that we have the best trained military personnel, the mightiest army, air force and navy. On the surface, the U.S. military force has no peer, is invincible, and cannot be defeated right? Unfortunately, that is now an outdated concept that no longer is valid based upon recent encounters between the U.S. military and insurgents in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

It has become clear that, with the evolution of modern-day warfare, as we are now painfully experiencing, even the mightiest military force on this planet is not equipped to fight a war against an enemy that plays by entirely different rules; that is expert at guerrilla-type warfare, now commonly referred to as an insurgency, that has great motivation to strongly resist and use its own deadly weaponry, booby traps and improvised explosives (IED's), when it finds that its nation has been occupied by a foreign power.

Bush/Cheney used "shock and awe" to invade and occupy Afghanistan and then Iraq; given the forces that they had at their disposal, it was not that difficult. We may, therefore, conclude that it is relatively easy to initiate pre-emptive wars but once that fateful decision has been made, then what happens next? The U.S., unfortunately, is not very adept at developing exit strategies. For example, there was no exit strategy that had been formulated for a withdrawal from Vietnam, none whatsoever. The only reason that the U.S. military did make an exit from that country is that the Viet Cong and Ho Chi Minh made the decision for it, but only after more than 58,000 of our troops lost their lives.

The real reason that we have such a difficult time with exit strategies is that, once our military establishes a presence in an occupied nation, it intends to remain there. That is a proven fact in that the military still has many thousands of troops stationed in numerous countries, some of them our previous enemies and now our allies. Of the 195 countries in the world the U.S. has troops in 135 of them; approximately 90,000 in Europe, including 57,000 in Germany, 33,000 in Japan and 27,000 in South Korea that have been there for since the end of World War II and the Korean War. Our military has no motivation to plan any exit since our political leaders have no intention of calling for any withdrawal.

Some of the best military analysts have repeatedly said that, before we ever think about invading and occupying any nation, we should absolutely have a viable exit strategy. But that simply does not happen with our military and civilian leaders. I have another suggestion: we should never even begin to think about a pre-emptive attack and occupation unless there is a very clear justification; that there is no other recourse to guarantee our national security, and that there is a clear mission and objective. That has not been our strategy and that is why we keep digging ourselves into deep holes with no sense that we are in way over our heads.

Since the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan in 2001, the U.S. has been digging itself into a hole that gets wider and deeper each day. The recent proposed addition of troops will only escalate the digging process. The Taliban have been making great strides in recent months and now control a sizable portion of the country and, if anyone thinks that they plan to stop resisting the occupation sometime soon, they better forget it.

Whether our president or our military leaders want to admit it or not, a military solution is not going to work in this barren, mountainous country against an enemy of insurgents who are largely invisible until they strike from the shadows. It's time to seriously begin thinking about developing a plan for withdrawal because the possibility of achieving military victory is not to be had.

The first thing that Mr. Obama needs to do in formulating this plan is to make it known that, from now on, he is the Commander-in-Chief and that the military are strictly there for advice and counsel; the military has no authority to make any policy decision relative to either the further escalation of the war or the withdrawal. President John F. Kennedy made that quite clear when he put his military advisers in their proper place after they had brazenly tried to force him into decisions to escalate America's involvement in Vietnam. Too bad that after his tragic death, the military leadership reversed that situation and bullied Lyndon B. Johnson into sending hundreds of thousands more troops into that bloody quagmire..

The military, having dug itself into a deep hole in Afghanistan is now beginning the same process in Pakistan. On February 3, for the first time, three American troops were killed by an improvised explosive device in Pakistan. This is a very ominous, dangerous happening and signals that the war has now been extended into Pakistan, a nation with an arsenal of nuclear weapons; and we must be aware that Pakistan's age old enemy, India, also has nuclear weapons.

Do President Obama and his military advisers realize that they are taking America down one of the most dangerous periods in our nation's history? Do they clearly understand the magnitude of their actions and the horrific consequences that may follow? If Mr. Obama continues on his present course that now involves ever-increasing aggressive military actions in the midst of two adversaries which possess nuclear arsenals, he will be taking America into the middle of a potential regional inferno.

The minute hand on the Doomsday Clock at the University of Chicago, used to estimate how close the world is to global disaster, and which as of January 14, 2010 stood at six minutes to midnight, just moved ever closer to Midnight.

Michael Payne

 

Michael Payne is an independent progressive activist. His writings deal with social, economic, political and foreign policy issues; and especially with the great dangers involved with the proliferation of perpetual war, the associated defense (more...)
 

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58,000 dead Americans in Vietnam, who knows how ma... by John S. Hatch on Saturday, Feb 6, 2010 at 3:14:00 PM
I have asked myself that question many, many times... by michael payne on Saturday, Feb 6, 2010 at 3:29:02 PM
Perhaps this will help your memory regarding JFK ... by Larry Tierney on Saturday, Feb 6, 2010 at 4:54:15 PM
The Bay of Pigs fiasco was foisted on Kennedy by d... by John S. Hatch on Saturday, Feb 6, 2010 at 5:54:51 PM
John, you know your history and what you say about... by michael payne on Saturday, Feb 6, 2010 at 6:29:39 PM
You are correct, the Bay of Pigs was a terrible mi... by michael payne on Saturday, Feb 6, 2010 at 6:22:25 PM
Some advisors would be 50 or maybe a hundred, but ... by Larry Tierney on Saturday, Feb 6, 2010 at 7:10:58 PM