"The Wrong War"is a book by Bing West about Afghanistan and the American war there. It is quite redundant but it does illuminate the futility of our war there, even if that is not what West intended to do. And there are some remarkably illuminating passages such as this one on the failure of both the civilians and military personnel in charge to define what we are doing there and how we are going to do it.
"Are we nation building? Yes (Mullen). No (Obama). Are we pursuing a strategy of counterinsurgency aimed at winning over the support of the Pashtun people? Yes (McCrystal). No (Biden). Are we withdrawing a large number of troops in mid-2011? Yes (Biden). No (Gates). Is Pakistan committed to helping or impeding? Secretary of State Clinton implied that it was both, while rhetorically asking, 'Are we to believe that no Pakistani official of any rank knows where Osama bin Laden is hiding?' Do we have a real plan for transitioning the war to the Afghans? No senior official has issued a statement for the record." [p. 191]
Note should be taken that Clinton was raising the question of Pakistani knowledge of bin Laden's whereabouts in 2009, which suggests that, as the Washington Post has reported, that we were aware of his location as early as 2009, if not earlier. Was Clinton trying to get the Pakistani's to act, to take out bin Laden? And if she was and they refused to act, what were the reasons for that decision by Pakistan? Incompetence is actually a comforting explanation in that it implies that Pakistan does not or did not have reasons for not taking bin Laden out. But as almost everyone knows, Pakistan has reasons, viz., India, for not wanting a strong and independent Afghanistan to exist. And just a glance at a map will reveal why Pakistan embraces such a policy as Pakistan is wedged between Afghanistan and India.
More from West: "By declaring an ambiguous mission, the president has positioned himself brilliantly as a politician. His Delphic statements left open his options. That same uncertainty harmed the military mission. The commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. James Conway, later said the 2011 pledge 'is probably giving the enemy sustenance.'" [p. 191] Probably? Now that is an understatement. Leave to a Marine to point out the obvious and that which is deadly to the grunts who are actually fighting this war.
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