Afghanistan – a New Approach?

“And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees…” (Luke 3:9. KJV)

We continue in our seemingly endless battle against the Taliban in Afghanistan, a force that at present is reported to be gaining ground, a “growing…insurgency” in that area. (I am reminded, as I write, of the Biblical account of Jacob wrestling with the angel of the Lord, ’til the dawning of a new day, and how he would not let go until he got the blessing. Not to compare the Taliban with the angel of the Lord, rather to emphasize persistence unto victory. A new day dawning…)

Last month, the top U.S. commander in this particular theatre of war, General McKiernan, was replaced by General Stanley A. McChrystal, who has espoused a different approach to dealing with the insurgents. Rather than a primarily outward thrust, with the intention of locating, uprooting & capturing Taliban forces from their mountainous strongholds, U.S. and NATO troops would focus more on protecting the more populous locales from enemy invasion. McChrystal’s strategy is now becoming even more defined and specific, and will be requiring more troops, both U.S/NATO and Afghan.

As a person who almost can’t help but analyze, war–time strategy has begun to intrigue me. This particular strategy appears solid, to me. With a dose of genius. “…an intensified military effort to root out corruption among local government officials…” is a large part of its aim, and calls for “more unconventional methods” in its implementation. A strategy assessment team, comprised of expert advisers and national security specialists from Washington ‘think tanks’, considers corruption at local government levels to be as much a threat to Afghan peace and freedom as any top Taliban commander. Consequently, as stated above, US/NATO involvement in exposing and removing such elements is also to be a prominent aspect of General McChrystal’s plan. A writer on, a site dealing with the corruption issue in Iraq and the rest of the world as well, VJtraveler says, “I have reported several times about the lack of serious actions by the State Dept or other donors in fixing fraud and corruption problems before dumping lots of money into “developing or conflict” countries.” VJ cites diplomacy not being used “to ensure corruption cases are actually prosecuted, which is a major deterrent.”

Falling in line with McChrystal’s ‘inward rather than outward’ push, “commanders will be encouraged to increase contact with Afghans”, actually living inside the towns, and spending more time on foot patrols, as opposed to in heavily armored vehicles. Climbing out of their trucks and interacting with the locals puts our soldiers in more of a position to identify the tribal “power brokers” and connect with them, influencing policies and decisions. Strong emphasis is being placed on partnership, Afghan and U.S/NATO troops living, training and carrying out missions together, throughout every level of rank.

A less than enthusiastic response is expected from the Obama administration regarding the increased troops request.


I particularly like the idea of getting to the root of corruption in the local and/or otherwise Afghan government. In the Scripture cited above, I see the concept of ‘rooting out the truth’. The ‘axe’, I believe, represents the Word of God, the One who also identifies Himself as the Way, the Truth, & the Life. I’ve always understood that verse to be an illustration of the truth of God’s Word being applied to any school of thought, teaching, process, practice, etc – you name it! and exposing fallacy & falsehood, that which deceives, corrupts and eventually kills, should it get that far.
Having checked out a little bit of, it is becoming clear to me that the pursuit of corrupt government officials & practices is far more essential to peace than had ever occurred to me before. Knowing this now, it seems that it should have! Benjamin Franklin, in expressing his concern over America’s possible return to monarchy, declared that such an event could at least be long delayed. His solution? Not making “our posts of honor places of profit”, thereby sowing “seeds of contention, faction, and tumult.” (A.H. Smythe, ed., The Writings of Benjamin Franklin).
That old love-of-money problem is always rearing its ugly head, isn’t it? Many will do whatever it takes to satisfy their lust for it, at the reckless expense of every and anyone else’s well-being, welfare, safety and/or liberty. I applaud this new strategy being considered, and am excited about the possibilities inherent in its successful operation.

An afterthought – Regarding the partnering of our Troops with the Afghanistan soldiers, I was reminded of the Greek word ‘parakletos’, which is translated into the English word ‘Comforter’, in the New Testament, and refers to the Holy Ghost. Breaking this word down into its separate components, ‘para’ (Strong’s #3844, Greek) and ‘kletos’ (Strong’s #2822,Greek), rather than just the idea of comfort or consolation, the concept of being near, beside, and/or in one’s area is also presented. Or, in today’s lingo, “getting in one’s space”!

And I’m also reminded of the Saviour, who came to where we were and became what we were so that we could, by degrees and over time, become what He is, so that our ‘station in life’ (this one, and the next!) could be vastly improved.

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