The tragedy of 911 started a chapter of history never to be fully appreciated by all Americans. The statement’s bold because it means some people will have suffered the effects of war in a far more personal manner than those glibly spouting theories as though their philosophical worldview is any less prismatic than our politics.
Foreign policy and political intervention/interference seem so clearly defined when viewed from the safety of your dinner table discussion or cocktail circuit travels in search of an audience. For many returning from combat theaters, the questions are answered from a foundation of personal experience rather than self-absorbed political pundits. The armed service member knows best whether the partisan games politicians play, are really working, or not.
Paul D. Wolfowitz, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Regional Programs, is a case in point. While he is no doubt one of the premier minds concerning Middle Eastern policy; he’s not to my knowledge been in prolonged combat where his tushy could be shot. I like the guy but he and his colleagues are no more than theoreticians moving the Stratego © pieces around without realizing the impact it has on the individual combat soldiers and Marines.
These people in Afghanistan walk in the Killing Haze daily. The Killing Haze is different from the world-view of the fog concealing combat in the mist. That fog of war is understood in the diplomatic pollution, the unhealthy vapor of insincere political posturing to gain the upper hand in the undesired pursuit of détente expected to be favorable to one side over the other.
The Killing Haze is a dangerous, deathlike atmosphere; a miasma born of murderous intent. It’s understood in the deathly, nauseating metallic taste of hemorrhaged blood nearby, the cloying odor of post-combat cordite wafting on the breeze and it’s heard in the cries of the injured and silence of the dead. The Killing Haze is where policy meets combat and the will of the almighty is the only surety a fighter can count on.
We originally went to Afghanistan to do two things: find, and then bring Osama bin Laden to justice. The political gamesters in Washington started what’s laughingly called: “Nation Building”. And Man (as he saw himself as God) did exhort his brethren to do what he perceived as good – whether the natives wanted it or not.
Afghanistan is known for its ability to kill nations by bleeding them combatively, logistically, morally, mentally and diplomatically. Britain occupied it. The Russians more recently were described as suffering “their Vietnam”, before tucking their tail between their legs and stumbling back to Moscow. Their Afghanistan effort bled the Russian treasury to the point it collapsed the Soviet Union.
Instead of rooting out bin Laden, destroying the Taliban and Al Qaeda became the goal. Western style democracy was placed before a people accustomed to feudal tribalism and a theocracy bent on world control in the name of Allah. We shifted from seeking justice from ONE man to attempting to force our value system on a people having no more desire to be like us than they do to have a pork chop for dinner. Nobody in the west has a clue as to why they don’t want to be as wonderful as we see ourselves as being.
The Afghani people have become so accustomed to fighting outside forces. They can get support for one warlord against another if they can just figure out what the supplier wants. Then they give it to the outsiders with no more sincerity than we display as we tell them their system is pre-Neolithic. They don’t even have a segment of their economy based on food production. They think they’re doing just fine and don’t need anybody to tell them how to govern themselves. Just send money.
Before this, or any administration, decides to interfere in the government of other societies, it needs to take stock of and quantify the desire of the people most affected by a policy of intervention where it’s not appreciated.
In Afghanistan, society-wide, we’ve never been appreciated for what we offer. It just isn’t their cup of tea.
Thanks for listening.