This War is not Over Quite Yet…


“This is not a war of Afghan independence from my point of view. This is the center of gravity against the war on terror, radical Islam. It is in our national security interest to make sure the Taliban never come back. If we fail in Afghanistan, they will kill every moderate who tried to help us, and no one in the future will, will step up. It will destabilize Pakistan beyond what exists today. It will be a colossal national security mistakeIf we accelerate withdrawal right now because we’re war weary, we’re going to lose this war.    ( Senator Lindsey Graham, responding to Mitt Romney’s statement concerning the war in Afghanistan {link} )

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Regaining Focus

Unbelievably, once again I find myself sitting in front of my old faithful Compaq Presario, that relic of antiquity that still houses Windows 98 software! And without which, at this point, I would be computer-less…so, no complaints here…! It seems my netbook got infected with a nasty little virus that prevented me from accessing any information through Bing. Supposedly for my ‘security’. Hah. Yeah, right…I will not be forced into using Google, which I suspect may’ve been the motivation here. Attempting a System Restore resulted in a black-out! So, while waiting for a recovery disc to arrive in the mail, I’ve managed to resurrect this baby, and am glad for it!
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Christmas is over now, and I’m starting to feel myself kicking back into gear. Feels good! I have found a renewed focus & commitment. Or maybe it found me…
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“…Jefferson followed the lodestar of freedom.”

(Robert Schmuhl, Introduction, Thomas Jefferson: America’s Philosopher-King)

Be still, my heart!

…something about that phrase…if one was not familiar with who Thomas Jefferson is, an image of someone with his head in the clouds, who is probably no earthly good! might be conjured up. But we know better…

Having recently passed through a sudden & deeply impacting family crisis, as well as having gone through a number of my own personal valleys of darkness, I am finding on the other side flawless clarity of vision. Count it all joy, right?! (James 1:2) (Which, btw, I constantly forget to do…) This morning, re-reading portions of the very books with which I began my glorious venture into the Revolutionary past, I knew certainty. There was no struggle to concentrate, or grasp an idea. I was THERE! More than ever, my heart & mind align with our Founders, and as I’ve always suspected, I am a kindred spirit with Thomas Jefferson. I worship Jesus, am forever in awe of George Washington, but I recognize myself in Jefferson.

I will be reiterating, here & there along the way, sentiments previously expressed in other posts. But they bear repeating.

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I have been horribly able, lately, to imagine being a dhimmi. For those of you who may not be familiar with this term, it is the label applied by Muslim teaching to those who do not believe in their Allah, nor practice Islam. ALL Christians, ALL Jewish believers, and probably most of you reading this, would fall into this category. It is not good, ever, to be living in a state of, or even to merely imagine living in a state of dhimmitude. It is everything that America is not. Living as a dhimmi, in a Muslim society, isn’t just a matter of having a label pinned on you. It is a matter of the loss of your freedom.

As I grow in my knowledge of the ideals of our Founders, I am also growing in a piercing awareness of the preciousness of our liberty. I am aware as well, of the hugeness of my own previous naivete in this matter. Reading ‘The Shack’ (Wm. Paul Young) a month or so ago, I came across the term ‘the wastefulness of grace’, I think it was…God lavishes us with such abundance, in so many ways – we simply aren’t even aware of the worth, the value – because we are so used to having this abundance. It’s a matter of course. We take it for granted. Daily. And I don’t point this out with the intention of provoking guilt. Not at all. But rather to suggest that a deadly result of the constant availability of our American life style fosters the belief that we could not lose it. Ever.

So some of us who need to recognize the signs, don’t.

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Ever since my blog-writing shifted from primarily Washington & Revolutionary War-related topics to more current events, world-related issues, such as the war in Afghanistan and terrorism, I’ve been strongly & inexplicably drawn to, well – terrorist issues. It seems black and horrendous, but nonetheless…piecing together increasing knowledge of facts & new information, working on this puzzle, I am getting a much clearer picture now. I had thought, along the way, that I was unhealthily obsessed. Yet no matter what issues of national/international importance arose, for me, fighting terrorism trumped all. I also had thought, why are so few even mentioning this reality these days? Why are American citizens so resistant to US troops involvement in these Middle East conflicts, when it is in fact this very involvement in these conflicts that will produce the results needed to keep America safe? And, in keeping America safe, we safeguard freedom as well. And not for our nation only, but for the world. How can people not realize this?
During this last Sunday’s airing of ’Meet the Press’, Peggy Noonan, columnist for the Wall Street Journal and Pulitzer Prize winning author & Presidential historian Doris Kearns-Goodwin underscored this very issue. Discussing the projected troops pull-out in Afghanistan with Bob Woodward and Tom Brokaw, host David Gregory raised the concern that ‘we are still fighting an existential threat in Afghanistan’. Ms. Goodwin pointed out that ‘6 out of 10 people don’t think this is a war worth fighting’. Yet, she says“…the threat of al-Qaeda still remains the strongest question.” And somehow, it seems that much of the American public has become oblivious to that fact. Probably because, according to Tom Brokaw, “less than one percent of the country is fighting the war. I mean, and 99 percent of the country nothing is asked of us.” Consequently, it is not discussed. Peggy Noonan expressed amazement that “It’s just accepted as a fact that one doesn’t comment on”, throughout our everyday activities.

We can’t be thinking about, dreading, or living in anxiety over the possibility of a terrorist attack at any moment, every moment! You just can’t live that way, and thank God, at this point, these aren’t our constant physical circumstances. This isn’t Pakistan, or the Gaza strip…it’s still America. But we can’t be forgetting that this possibility does exist. “…it’s an obligation of all of us as well as the political leadership of this country to make sure that it’s on the table, not just in forums like this, but on a, on a regular basis.” states Tom Brokaw.

And while this is not Pakistan or Afghanistan, Mr. Brokaw reminds us, as mentioned earlier, of the ‘existential threat’ nature of this battle. “…it goes beyond the borders of Afghanistan. We’re talking about Islamic rage.”

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I rejoiced to hear these words spoken, for in doing so, they highlighted, as well as confirmed, the priority that terrorism awareness needs to have in our country, but does not. The need for our economic recovery is a sorely pressing one, I know. But if our homeland security is not zealously and ceaselessly guarded, if the invasion of the ideology of radical Islam is not stopped – if the forces that threaten our freedoms are not relentlessly turned back & kept out – having a job will be the least of your worries.
May God continue to bless America, keep her safe, and guide her leaders, present & future, with His perfect wisdom.

Leaving Iraq…OK, but What about AfPak?

Well, it looks we have arrived – it is August, 2010 and time for a serious winding down of our troops in the Middle East. President Obama emphatically confirms that his campaign promise will be kept. Though I understand a non-combat military presence will remain, on the whole, combat forces will be gone by the end of this month. Troops withdrawal from Afghanistan is scheduled for next summer.

Either way, at this point I guess discussion is moot. Nonetheless…

There are still those who believe that it is unwise to pull out. I tend to lean in that direction myself, especially as concerns Afghanistan, but the King of the universe is in charge of history, ultimately. And since General McChrystal’s sudden removal from the Afghanistan theater, I have to consider the possible divine implications of the timing of this change of command. I have to consider that McChrystal’s strategy had its effect, seeds were planted & roots went down. If this is true, there will be more fruit. (
article) It would seem that the General accomplished his mission. For its final outcome, he himself perhaps did not need to remain in Afghanistan. Maybe US/NATO troops don’t need to remain, either, but…

Until a month or two ago, Amrullah Saleh was the man in charge of Afghanistan’s intelligence operations, and the ‘main conduit for intelligence sharing between the CIA and the Afghans.’ In a ’60 Minutes’ interview this past December, Saleh informs us that “The same people who we were trying to kill those days, ( Sept.11, 2001 and its aftermath) the bulk of them are alive. The war has not ended.” Saleh believes that “the American public is underestimating the Islamic fundamentalist groups, and terrorism and extremism…” And it is his opinion that withdrawal of our military forces will result in a ‘massacre campaign’ of at least two million Afghan deaths. He calmly but emphatically declares that this war is his, that he is in it for his family, his country. Because Afghan & American interests converge, we fight together, but Amrullah Saleh owns this long and difficult battle. For him, it is not Obama’s war, nor an American occupation.

In comments made be ‘aceinhibitor123’ on the ’60 Minutes’ interview of Saleh, and also ex-CIA operative Harry Crumpton, we get what purports to be the viewpoint of someone of Afghan origin: “A wounderful segment of the 60 min, thank you for informing the world about these facts. I absolutly agree with both gentlemen from the US and being from afghanistan and living in the US for 30 yrs I am so proud to see an afghan with a perfect description of the alQaida and Taliban. I was raised in afghanistan and the world is truely under estimating the danger of fundmental islamic terrorist as was described by the afghan security chief. I feel the strategy formulated and described by the american gentlman is what exactly is needed to defeat these people from the dark ages and rescue the humanity from danger they are posing.” (source)
Read more

(of course there is no way to verify the authenticity of this comment, that I can see, but I’m taking it at face value..)

I know that polls & surveys are said to indicate that support for the war in Afghanistan has dwindled big-time. But not in every instance, as shown by these thoughts from a reader , dated Aug.2, 2010, on the CBS website article/video ‘Shadow Warrior’:

“We are where we are, and we can’t wish all that away. I realize a lot of people don’t want to think about all that or deal with the mess we have made, and walking away sounds fine to them, but I personally cannot stomach it.

The good news is we appear to be winning hearts and minds and gaining some trust:

In one key shift, the latest poll by ABC News, the BBC and ARD German TV finds that sharply more Afghans now see the Taliban as the main source of their country’s strife, while many fewer blame the United States or its allies. (National survey) [NOTE: in all fairness, I must mention that this survey does still indicate some Afghan unhappiness with US presence.]
Let’s give it a little more time and see if we can turn things around. No one hates war more than I do, or worries about our troops more, believe me. I have some skin in this game.”
(Read more)

For more critical reasons perhaps, ex-CIA operative Harry Crumpton expressess similar sentiment.
Harry masterminded the downfall of the Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan, during the immediate aftermath of 9/11. During the ’60 Minutes’ interview, he explained: “It’s easy to say, ‘Okay, let’s pack up. Let’s go home.’ But this is an enduring security concern for the United States, for our homeland…prior to 9/11, I made this same argument. I said, ‘If we do not address the issue in Afghanistan, we will suffer in the homeland. It will happen.’ And it did.”

Saleh and Crumpton are both concerned about conditions on the other side of the border, in Pakistan, ‘the enemy’s safe haven, where they are the power’. And if he was in charge again today, Crumpton would “be inside Pakistan and have men on the ground in the tribal areas…building the exact kind of relationships that {he} built with the Afghans that helped defeat the Taliban…” post 9/11. I don’t need to emphasize – but I will – that this same strategy had been re-employed by General McChrystal, with some success…but to have the success, we have to BE THERE. Our troops must remain among the locals to train, support and empower unto victory.

Having previously been deeply involved with the Taliban, the Pakistani army & the Inter-Services Intelligence agency now combat the country’s jihadists. The National Republic paints a picture of a smug, militant regime having been ‘bitten’ by the very Islamists it supported. Once bed partners with insurgents and radicals, 9/11 forced a resented change upon militant Pakistan: “…the Americans arrived and made Islamabad choose another side.” TNR posits that this resentment lingers yet today, and many Pakistanis would love to backtrack through time, pre-September 11, 2001 – a push “made much more powerful by Americans who want to wash their hands of Afghanistan”, Americans who think that “Pakistan will be no worse off with an American withdrawal.” Ensuing civil war and alignment with the ‘new’ Afghan Taliban are strongly suspected outcomes of such a withdrawal. Along with ‘supercharged’ militants “who have argued all along that the Americans would leave defeated…” In no way do we, as Americans, want to contribute to Taliban re-growth or cohesion. Premature AfPak withdrawal could guarantee that very thing.


The Bad News is… (con’d.) – or, ‘Hard is not Hopeless’

I love it when a succinctly-put phrase, or a concise, hard-hitting sentence or two, breaks it all wide open and I’m struck by genius. I really love that. (And of course I mean the ‘genius’ of another…my IQ isn’t that high!)

In the process of re-reading, reviewing & organizing papers and notes, in order to begin this post, I read such a statement that I must’ve missed the first time around. Following the trend of thought & logic presented by former West Point professor and Yale graduate Frederick W. Kagan, concerning the necessary ingredients for victory in Afghanistan, I found this most enlightening (to me) conclusion: ” That does not mean the problem lies with our overall “footprint” in Afghanistan, but rather that we should rethink where (emphasis mine) to put our feet……Understanding this principle is vital, because if we misinterpret the nature of the “footprint” problem we might come to the erroneous conclusion that success requires fewer forces rather than more—or, as some senior leaders are increasingly suggesting, that our presence is the problem.” (Frederick W. Kagan, “Planning Victory in Afghanistan )

Alternative viewpoints can be invaluable. Alternative viewpoints conceived our American democracy. Such viewpoints engender conflict, struggle and ultimately require compromise in policy, as was with our Constitution. These are good things.

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This will probably be my last post on Afghanistan (for awhile, at least). (I hope I’m not hearing cheers out there!) Anyway…in my recent readings & writings, I’ve noticed similarities and/or parallels of sorts, between the above-quoted Frederick Kagan’s viewpoints, and ensuing AfPak developments. My intent with this post is to point them out.

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“Afghanistan is not now a sanctuary for al-Qaeda, but it would likely become one again if we abandoned it.”

” Allowing Afghanistan to fail would mean allowing these determined enemies of the United States to regain the freedom they had before 9/11.”

I continue to be completely unable to comprehend how so many Americans appear to not get this, as dwindling support for our military presence here would seem to suggest. With sharpened Taliban fighting skills leading to greater Taliban control (Bad News, Pt.1) of this critical area, it should be obvious that insurgency dominance is equivalent to a wide open door for al-Qaeda. “Birds of a feather…”, right? Though all indications evidence al-Qaeda & its key leaders to be primarily Pakistani-based, as well as the removed head of the Taliban government, from these havens contacts are maintained between the two organizations, and insurgent activity is supported in both southern & eastern Afghanistan. Give up Afghanistan, and you’re giving bin Laden free reign. Do that, and America will be looking at a disaster scenario far worse than 9/11.

At the time Mr. Kagan wrote this article (2/09), I don’t recall just how committed the U.S. was to success in Afghanistan. Apparently not enough, though –The Pakistani leadership appears convinced that America will abandon its efforts in South Asia sooner rather than later…”, resulting in continued Pakistani support for the Afghan Taliban operating in their territory. Such support ensures a certain level of control over the insurgents, which is desirable for the Pakistanis, especially if they are unsure of American reliability in this endeavour. Until it is widely believed that the U.S. will remain in the fight until the insurgency is defeated, doubt about our commitment will continue to fuel the insurgency.” Locally, the Afghanistan populace, fearing Taliban retaliation, may hesitate to commit to us if they doubt our commitment to them. Kagan concludes that “we must make it clear that we will do what it takes to win” in order to gain the trust and cooperation of the people of both countries.

Based on previous patterns of American retreat/abandonment in Middle East crises/attacks, from 1983 through 1992, Kagan also theorizes that, by duking it out in Afghanistan, a ‘changed…global perception’ of American fortitude would vastly improve our own security, homeland and abroad.

(All quotes are from F.W. Kagan’s article “Planning Victory in Afghanistan”)

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I have a number of points yet to make here, and hope to publish another post or two in this vein of thought, before finishing up with AfPak subject matter. However, this may take awhile. For over a year I have been struggling in situations that have become, finally, intolerable, remaining in them for several reasons, one of which was to continue with ‘God, History and You’. I can no longer do this. GH&Y is not shutting down, but it is necessary to let it go a bit, for a season, while I attend to other matters. Posting will be sporadic, if that…! (although that’s nothing new, really, is it?!) I may be off the radar for a time. Hopefully, once issues are settled, I’ll have a renewed focus.

The Bad News is… (Part 1)

“The point is that the Taliban, who have had a very clear aim and means from the very beginning, have been able slowly and steadily to get better at what they’re doing.” (Washington Post)

This remark was recently made by an unnamed European official, whose country’s armed forces are combating the Taliban alongside U.S. troops. Concurring with this statement, top U.S. commander in the AfPak arena General Stanley McChrystal evaluates the situation as ‘serious’. The Taliban are fighting smarter.

They have shifted their focus of attack to small bases and checkpoints, manned by Afghan forces, isolated and easy to infiltrate, thus obtaining intelligence. Gone are the more large-scale confrontations with American troops, from several years ago, which resulted in large numbers of insurgent fatalities. And the confrontations themselves are more sophisticated in method, observed to be similar in style to U.S. Army Rangers training, which equips soldiers for small scale engagements in ‘austere’ surroundings. They are considered by one U.S Army general to be developing into a more ‘disciplined force’.

Among their newly acquired skills – being able to estimate response times for U.S. fighter jets, helicopters, and artillery cannons. “They know exactly how long it takes before . . . they have to break contact and pull back,” one Pentagon official said. Sounds like split-second timing in a hair trigger situation… Using our own tactics against us, the Taliban is taking full advantage of the recent restraint (for the purpose of protecting Afghan civilians) ordered on the use of U.S. air power and also night-time attacks. They have increased their night-time operations, and apparently feel much safer gathering in more populated locales now, perhaps blending in like chameleons, knowing air strikes are much less likely to occur.

Not only has the Taliban fighting style evolved, their geographical areas of control have expanded as well, providing the insurgency with more training ground, and that ground being closer to the actual combat. It has been considered, as well, that the services of professional fighters from Central Asia & other Arab countries are being used.

Opinions differ, though, as to the reason(s) for Taliban ascendancy in the area. The deputy commander of Marines in the Helmand province believes that increased usage of roadside bombs plays more a part in insurgent victories than tactics of any other sort. Playing to their strengths… And the effects of corruption in public office, ethnic tensions, unemployment and the absence of state justice systems in rural regions are strong contributing factors to increased Taliban control, creating unrest & dissatisfaction to which the extremists can offer “solutions’. In neighboring Pakistan, “there is widespread hope that adopting a strict code of law based on the Koran will transform a society where corruption is rampant.” (link) The Islamic militants offer a ‘Robin Hood’ approach, according to Amnesty International, even gaining trust at first, and initially seem to be defending the weak & poor, but that defense soon becomes ‘quick…harsh justice’, and with the ‘defending’ comes increased Taliban dominance.

Possibly more potent to Taliban victory than any sharpened skill or evolved strategy, however, is the simple fact of morale. Said one senior official, “The number one indicator we have out there now is that they think they’re winning (italics mine). That creates an attitude, a positive outlook, and a willingness to sacrifice.”

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Sooo….as I was reading my source article, and writing the above, the following statements from my post “Afghanistan – a New Approach?” came to mind.

“…an intensified military effort to root out corruption among local government officials…” is a large part of its aim…

“…considers corruption at local government levels to be as much a threat to Afghan peace and freedom as any top Taliban commander.” (Seeing as how corruption in government has been cited as a prime factor in the Taliban gaining influence, the wisdom of the goal to uproot it is readily apparent.)
“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.” (Akin to fighting fire with fire, this tactic of partnering mirrors the Taliban working in tandem with ‘professional fighters’ from other countries)

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So we’re seeing, then, some better news here. Seems to me that McChrystal is right on the money in his strategic assessments & plans. I know he’s got my vote.

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In Part 2, a little more along these same lines. Then, I’m hopping the time capsule back to the days of our Founders to see what’s going on…lately I swear I’m hearing Jefferson quietly reminding me I’ve left him in the dust, I just got a rather antiquated-looking letter from a John Adams, & Ben Franklin actually somehow faxed me! I must get back to my true loves, the Founders! They are calling!