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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 2/6/10

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

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Message Michael Payne

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 Unfortunately, that is now an outdated concept that no longer is valid based upon recent encounters between the U.S. military and insurgents in both Iraq and Afghanistan.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.

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