How to lose a war

Given how obsessed we’ve become with the unfolding debacle in Iraq, it’s not all that surprising, I suppose, that many of us have a tendency to forget about that other war.  You know, the “good war” in Afghanistan which, unlike Iraq, has been supported by most Democrats from the beginning.

It would have been nice, of course, if Bush & Co. had handled the invasion more adeptly.  It they hadn’t, for example, allowed Osama bin Laden to escape from Tora Bora.  Still, all in all, given the Taliban’s unquestioned partnership with the bad guys who brought down the Twin Towers, most Democrats were willing not only to sign onto a limited war in Afghanistan at the very beginning, but have continued to cling to that position in the years that have followed.

Looking back, of course, the basic fallacy to this approach was the implicit assumption that Bush would prosecute the ongoing war with some modicum of competence.  Unfortunately, instead, shortly after the Taliban were routed  in the first days of the war, he lost interest in Afghanistan, and turned his wandering eye toward Iraq. 

Yesterday’s newspapers brought plenty of new evidence — as if more were needed — of just how much this neglect of Afghanistan has set the stage for disaster.

First, there was this:

35 Killed in Kabul Suicide Bomb Attack

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The deadliest insurgent attack since the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 destroyed a bus full of police instructors at Kabul’s busiest transportation hub on Sunday, killing 35 people and wounding 52, officials said.

Then there was this:

7 Afghan Children Killed in Airstrike

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — U.S.-led coalition jets bombed a compound suspected of housing al-Qaida militants in eastern Afghanistan, killing seven children and several militants, a coalition statement said Monday.

Bush tried to run “post”-war Afghanistan on the cheap, redirecting badly needed resources to Iraq.  The two tragic news stories quoted above both arise directly out of this blunder.  By failing to invest the resources needed to finish the job in Afghanistan, Bush allowed the Taliban and al-Qaeda to regroup to fight another day.  Yesterday’s bombing was one of those other days.

Likewise, lack of adequate troops has caused the military to overuse bombing, a notoriously imprecise way of killing bad guys.  This, in turn, has been driving up civilian casualties, most tragically among children.  And all issues of human compassion aside, the public outrage generated in Afghanistan by this ongoing slaughter of innocents is very rapidly causing us to lose the war in Afghanistan (to be added to the war in Iraq that we have already effectively lost).

Hell of a track record, huh?  Come to think of it, I may have a new vocation for out of work neoconservatives: they should travel the country teaching a course titled, “How to Lose a War.”

3 Responses to “How to lose a war”

  1. Larry the Red Says:

    “Likewise, lack of adequate troops has caused the military to overuse bombing, a notoriously imprecise way of killing bad guys.”

    I doubt that’s true. Force protection seems to be the number one priority, always, and minimizing civilian casualties is a distant second. Not only is this morally problematic, but terribly counterproductive, at several levels. It shows we value our own people a hell of a lot more than we do theirs, it alienates potential allies and supporters, etc. It’s just easier, and safer to our people, to drop bombs and say we’re sorry for the carnage they wreak.

  2. Again Says:

    but terribly counterproductive

    yes, especially, when the ones who start the war are the ones who don’t care about/for the attacked people - the perfect recipe for Vietnams, Moscows or Stalingrads…

  3. Again Says:


    Hail to Mr. Bush!! Iraq ranks #2 on failed state index (Afghanistan: #8)

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