The Real Strategic Calculus
Stratfor’s latest “geopolitical intelligence update” runs over 2,200 words. Nothing new here, really, just more of the same long-winded treatises to which we’ve grown accustomed. Among the many points Dr. Friedman makes:
This is not a question of the American will to fight; it is a question of the American interest in fighting.
With all due respect to the Austin-based firm, that misses the point. The key is that neither the American or British governments is willing to make a continuous effort to explain to the Anglosphere public why an ongoing war of attrition in Afghanistan is in our interests. This leaves the field to media and activist groups who reflexively oppose every war and exertion of Western power in the former colonial areas. Any casualty level above zero for both Western troops and Afghans will be portrayed in the worst possible light. Any expenditure of funds will be weighed and measured against “unmet domestic needs.”
As the governments of both Gordon Brown and Barack Obama are far more interested in domestic affairs, and as each is faced with an abysmal domestic economy, each will refuse to do the day-in, day-out slog required to fight this war.
And another point from Stratfor:
The insurgents’ main advantage is intelligence. Native to the area, insurgents have networks of informants letting them know not only where enemy troops are, but also providing information about counterinsurgent operations during the operations’ planning phases.
Our friends at Strategypage.com disagree:
Several hundred Taliban suspects are captured (in combat) or arrested each month, and that leads to a continual flow of intelligence on enemy organization and operations. This fuels an ongoing campaign against the Taliban leadership…The U.S. strategy is now to use an intelligence advantage to go after drug gang assets and Taliban leaders. In other words, follow the money.
A final point from Stratfor:
If the United States were to draw the conclusion that al Qaeda was no longer functional, and that follow-on organizations may be as likely to organize attacks from Somalia or Pakistan as they would be from Afghanistan, then the significance of Afghanistan declines.
Need we mention the propaganda front? Each time we cut and run provides “proof” that we lack the will to fight. Sophistry that we could have fought had it mattered–if only this or that–really doesn’t count. What matters is that every Saigon or Beirut or Mogadishu is a banner for the perpetual enemies of the West to wave.
This means we shold be very careful where we intervene because getting out is harder than getting in.