Back in April 2009, I wrote a column, based around an interview with Army Maj. Gen. Paul Vallely (Ret.), called "Let Afghanistan Go." Almost two years later to the day, here, once more with feeling, is this week's column:
Two more American soldiers were killed this week by a "lone" Afghan "ally." These latest murders took place inside a compound in the northern Afghan province of Faryab where the soldiers were providing security for a meeting between U.S. trainers and Afghan border police.
I can't find more details, not even the soldiers' names, but let's use our imagination. Two presumably young soldiers arrived safely with their team at the Afghan border police compound near the Afghan border with Turkmenistan. They probably thought the first hard part of the day was over, that they were behind a secure perimeter and could have a smoke or a chew or a stick of gum and wait until they had to mount up and face the booby-traps and sniper harassment that would follow them home. It was at this point that their killer, an Afghan police officer, moved in on them. Maybe he was even assigned to "partner" with them. He greeted them, offered something to eat, might even have told them a joke, who knows? While they were eating, smoking, laughing, somehow off guard, he shot them dead.
Did he shout "Allahu Akbar," or keep it under his breath, or wait until he had gotten clean away for a big loud, "Allah be praised, I got me two infidels"?
This "incident" brings the total of U.S. troops murdered by our Afghan allies since December by my unofficial and possibly incomplete count to 17. If I add two Italian troops killed in January by an Afghan soldier firing an M-16 at close range while the Italians were cleaning their guns, and three German troops killed in February by an Afghan soldier firing a submachine gun at close range while the Germans were working on a vehicle, the total is 22 NATO soldiers killed by Afghan security forces in four months. That means every month, five Westerners have been sacrificed specifically for being "infidels" ordered by their dhimmi leaders to curry favor (win "hearts and minds") in the umma through an unprecedented campaign of payola and public works. This is an outrage, a national scandal. Every elected representative of these fallen soldiers and their bereaved families is AWOL, and isn't that a crime?
Apparently not. To our unflustered leaders, the sacrifices are lamentable but acceptable – just part of the human price of the privilege of spending $350 million a day to be in Afghanistan in the first place. The main problem is our leaders treat these "incidents" as unfortunate byproducts of a chosen nation-building strategy that must be pursued forever; not manifestations of a disastrous counter-insurgency (COIN) strategy that must be junked ASAP. Which reminds of what an ex-Green Beret friend with multiple stints in Afghanistan recently told me was his "winning strategy." He wrote: "Oh, by 'winning' I mean leaving Afghanistan as soon as possible, burning in place or blowing up all our materiel we can't carry with us quickly."
But about these COIN-killed Western troops: They attract little attention besides local coverage. If you look around online, you can find videos of the flag-draped processionals, the young people dressed for mourning in a high-school gym. This is not an adequate memorial to these irresponsibly lost lives.
If Congress were worth the bother, it would demand change on behalf of these and all of our fallen young Americans from a military in denial, a government in thrall to a policy with more in common with the utterly failed ideas of the Great Society than with national-security strategy. I am talking about COIN theory, which holds that if you sink enough money, enough public works projects, enough nation-building, then somehow, some way, these alien cultures bridged by Islamic law and custom will adopt essentially un-Islamic law and custom and – presto – become an ally in the war on terror.
Sounds funny now, but isn't that what was supposed to happen? The truth is, no one in power, military and civilian, knows what their point and purpose is anymore. This perpetual madness must stop.