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The Trilogy of Despair as Bin Laden Dances in His Cave

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The Taliban is taking its toll on NATO forces, the ANA, and the ANP while our offensive into Kandahar has been delayed. The U.S. death toll in Afghanistan in July was a record, 66 killed. It exceeded the previous recordof 60 killed in the preceding month. General David Petraeus then predicted that the death toll will rise when the long-awaited offensiveagainst Kandahar begins ... sometime. The death toll of American soldiers will be enhanced by the new rules of engagement announced by General Petraeus recently. The new rules restrict the use of offensive firepower in engagements with the enemy to protect the lives of civilians. The extremely obvious problem ...to a corporal, but not necessarily a general ...is that the enemy hides within the civilian populace. Someone should tell that to the good general.However, this general does have a plan for ending this war. His strategy involves exhortinghis troopsto be more respectful and learn about the nuances of Afghan culture to better connect with locals. Among his recommendations: drinking more tea, living among the people, admitting mistakes when things go wrong and using information as a weapon. Honest, that is what he said.I have a better idea. Get our troops out of there. Do not expect them to adapt themselves to Afghan society, which is nearly the most primitive on Earth. Petraeus is asking the impossible of his troops. Welcome to the 21st Century version of warfare.

Andrew Bacevich, professor of history and international relations at Boston University, may be able to shed some light on the quandary of America's ineffectiveness on the world's stage. He begins by saying, "Armed conflict in the industrial age reached new heights of lethality and destructiveness. Once begun, wars devoured everything, inflicting staggering material, psychological, and moral damage. Pain vastly exceeded gain. In that regard, the war of 1914-1918 became emblematic: even the winners ended up losers. When fighting eventually stopped, the victors were left not to celebrate but to mourn.Faith in war's problem-solving capacity had begun to erode. As early as 1945, among several great powers -- thanks to war, now great in name only -- that faith disappeared altogether."

The United States, the sole major belligerent to emerge from the Second World War stronger, richer, and more confident bucked that trend. The U.S.professed their devotion to peace whilecivilian and military elites in America prepared obsessively for war. The U.S. spends moreon defense than the next ten nations ... combined. The U.S. has gone to war more often than any other nation on Earthsince WWII. America's Navy controls the oceans, all of them. Its Air Force enjoys air superiority over any region on Earth. We have nuclear arsenal that can turn any nation into a parking lot. Our ground forces have the best technology money can buy, and its fire superiority has no equal.

"So what," says Bacevich. He adds, "Events [have]made it increasingly evident that military dominance did not translate into concrete political advantage. Rather than enhancing the prospects for peace, coercion produced ever more complications." No matter how badly battered and beaten, the terrorists, insurgents, resistance fighters, or whatever you want to call themwere not intimidated, remained resilient, and kept coming back for more.

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Bacevich continues, "If any overarching conclusion emerges from the Afghan and Iraq Wars ..., it's this:victory is a chimera. Counting on today's enemy to yield in the face of superior force makes about as much sense as buying lottery tickets to pay the mortgage: you better be really lucky. By 2007, the American officer corps itself gave up on victory, although without giving up on war. First in Iraq, then in Afghanistan, priorities shifted. High-ranking generals shelved their expectations of winning ... They sought instead to not lose. In Washington as in U.S. military command posts, the avoidance of outright defeat emerged as the new gold standard of success. As a consequence, U.S. troops today sally forth from their base camps not to defeat the enemy, but to 'protect the people,' consistent with the latest doctrinal fashion (Counter-insurgency or COIN). Meanwhile, ... U.S. commanders cut deals with warlords and tribal chieftains in hopes of persuading guerrillas to lay down their arms."

So, in today's world absolute military dominance is impotent. We live in world where COIN ops is prevalent. COIN, by its very definition results in extended wars, witness Iraq and Afghanistan, and woe be if Iran is in the future. It takes a great deal of time to convince people we invaded that we are interested in "winning their hearts and minds."

Better yet, unless it becomes absolutely without equivocation, necessary to defend our proud country, how about we not wage war in the first place. Iraq andAfghanistan now, perhaps Iran in the future does not fit that standard. And, please let us forget the mentality of policing the world. Notwithstanding we can't afford it, democracy is never, ever achieved at the point of a gun.

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I am the author of two novels, "The Bode Testament" and "Impeachment." I am also a columnist who keeps a wary eye on other columnists and the failures of the MSM (mainstream media). I was born in Minnesota, and, to this day, I love the Vikings (more...)

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