I want a better deal on the hatred we are buying. The subway service in my town (Boston) is about to increase fares,again, and cut back service in a semi-yearly ritual of crapping on the poorest in Gov. Duval Patrick's state, in a week when the US will toss another $2 billion at military operations in Afghanistan which seems only to keep generating more hatred for Americans.
At $2 billion every week, I say that's too much. I'm sure there are better deals on hatred. And thanks to a fearlessly outspoken line officer, Lt. Col. Daniel Davis, we now know what we don't know about Afghanistan.
In his bombshell report which is to Afghanistan what the Pentagon Papers were to Vietnam, "Dereliction of Duty II: Senior Military Leaders’ Loss of Integrity Wounds Afghan War Effort," Davis all but calls his top commanders skilled, habitual, wouldn't-know-truth-if-it-hit-them-in-the-head bald-faced liars about the situation in Afghanistan. His opening thesis, which has received much of the attention surrounding the report, is actually among the mildest to be found in the report, saying merely that:
"Senior ranking US military leaders have so distorted the truth when communicating with the US Congress and American people in regards to conditions on the ground in Afghanistan that the truth has become unrecognizable. This deception has damaged America’s credibility among both our allies and enemies, severely limiting our ability to reach a political solution to the war in Afghanistan. It has likely cost American taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars Congress might not otherwise have appropriated had it known the truth, and our senior leaders’ behavior has almost certainly extended the duration of this war. The single greatest penalty our Nation has suffered, however, has been that we have lost the blood, limbs and lives of tens of thousands of American Service Members with little to no gain to our country as a consequence of this deception."
Lest one miss what Lt. Col. Davis is driving at, he sums it simply by saying:
"We seem significantly challenged to tell the truth in almost any situation."
Of the spin-master Petraeus during his tenure as commander of US forces in Afghanistan, Davis points out:
...in numerous speeches during his 12 months in command of ISAF troops, General Petraeus often stated...that since the arrival of US surge forces, ISAF has taken away Taliban strong holds, killed or captured hundreds of his senior and mid-level leaders; thousands of foot-soldiers have been removed from the battle field (killed or captured); ISAF has interdicted enemy lines of communication; discovered untold numbers of weapons and ammo caches, and beaten the enemy on battlefields throughout the country
By any logic, then, since the number of ISAF troops never dropped throughout 2010 and ISAF leaders often reported the Afghan people were coming more and more to our side, then the number of enemy attacks, by any rational calculation, ought to have dropped throughout the second half of 2010, and to have done so precipitously by the summer of 2011, some 18 month after the surge began. But that is not what happened. In fact, as we'll see in the following sections despite the fact we had 94,000 to 100,000 American military personnel on the ground in Afghanistan from May 2010 through December 2011, the violence continued to rise at almost the same rate it had risen since 2005 all the way through the summer of 2011...(emphasis mine)
Davis brings to bear as evidence the words of officers in charge of safeguarding and refining what can only be called a culture of deception among the top military command, in which the American public is seen as just another opponent against whom to conduct psychological operations. Davis quotes an article by Colonel Richard B. Leap ("Strategic Communication: An Imperative for the Global War on Terrorism Environment"), in which Leap says:
"the US Government must clarify the roles, responsibilities, authorities and relationships between Public Affairs, Public Diplomacy and Information Operations to not only influence foreign target audiences, but to safeguard US national will."
It seems not to have occurred to the Colonel that the drop in American public support...might have had something to do with the actual deteriorating battlefield conditions and not a "failure" on the part of PA to accurately "frame" the matter....what's to say the implication isn't that we can "frame" only the positive information while suppressing the negative - or to manufacture positive information if none exists.
Colonel Leap concludes his article by recommending several actions designed to strengthen "Military Information Operations," such as specifically addressing "all prior legislation beginning with the Smith-Mundt Act that is limiting the effectiveness of Information organizations in the GWOT environment."
In case you aren't familiar with the Smith-Mundt Act, it established the US law that was amended in 1985 to specifically prohibit US organizations from using information "to influence public opinion in the United States."...Colonel Leap is implying we ought to change the law to enable Public Affairs officers to influence American public opinion when they deem it necessary to "protect a key friendly center of gravity, to wit US national will."
Davis gives invaluable insight into the convenient flexibility of the very terminology used to describe progress:
in the waning days of World War II, Germany launched its last gasp, final attempt to return to the offensive: Operation "Wacht am Rhein" - or the Battle of the Bulge, as we came to know it. The allies went on the defensive and employed a number of counter-attacks to break the German offensive momentum....
That was a measurable mission, and once accomplished, it would be an indisputable fact: either we stopped their westward attack or we didn't. In the Afghan COIN environment there is no such clarity. American Commanders can claim we have "halted their momentum" and who's to say otherwise? Omar Bradley couldn't have claimed he "halted the German offensive momentum" if there were still German tanks plowing deeper into the Ardennes. But in the case of a guerilla war there few identifiable actions that have unambiguous tactical meaning.
Now not only are the tragic events which occur as a part of the occupation endangering the mission in Afghanistan, ostensibly to produce a stable ally in the region which will foreclose the return of the Taliban. They are, according to the FBI, endangering Americans in the "homeland" as it warns of the possibility of domestic attacks spurred by the foreign atrocities.
"Federal authorities have issued a warning there could be "acts of violence" in the homeland sparked by the recent massacre of 16 civilians in Afghanistan allegedly by an American soldier."
Excuse me. Hold up. For this we are paying $2 billion every week? My subway is about to put another 30,000 cars a year onto the roads because people will abandon the commuter rails as a result of fare increases and start taking their cars to work again. Gov. Patrick, can you give Obama a call please and explain this to him?
The MBTA's (Boston's local public transit authority) budget shortfall is $159 million. That's - let's see - less than 10 percent of what we spend on generating hatred in Afghanistan in one week. In other words, kick one single day of that military spending to Boston, and the local economy keeps booming along because the most productive and skilled are moving here instead of looking to move out, because they are not about to spend three hours behind the wheel each day, or pay exorbitant train fares for crappy service.
The answer: Combat troops out of Afghanistan now, to be replaced by reparations in the form of funding for the honest and competent Afghan National Solidarity Program, which will hire men so they won't have to work for the Taliban. This insurgency is fueled by econiomics, not political ideology. The Talibanpays $10 a day in a place where unemployment is 50% and higher outside of Kabul.
It has been determined that the US Department of Defense is likely the biggest funder of the insurgency, through payments made to insurgent groups to allow military supply convoys to travel unhindered. Therefore this war is a farce which could be ended tomorrow.
Reparations for 30 years of being a pawn of the US in what Zbigniew Brzezinski calls "the Great Game" is the best bulwark against the return of the Taliban, which is still roundly despised in Afghanistan. What is taking place now is what is endangering national security. Right here.
The author is co-founder of Jobs for Afghans.