April 06, 2011

We Leave, al Qaeda Returns: Time to Nuke Afghanistan?

News like this puts the last straw on my pessimist camel's back. I wanted to believe the Obama "surge" could work in Afghanistan, but the measly 30k additional troops added are clearly not enough. The last line of the WSJ article:

"We do not have an intelligence problem. We have a capacity problem. We generally know the places they are, how they are operating," said the senior U.S. military official, speaking of al Qaeda. The problem "is our ability to get there and do something."
And the idea that elite special forces teams could wander the world and kill al Qaeda operatives at will is a fanciful farce that the Left has concocted in order to placate their childish fantasies about how war should be fought.

How many troops would it take to win in Afghanistan? I'm guessing that even the 100k range which was bandied about prior to the surge announcement would have been far too low. Double that and I think you might make a nice down payment on victory.

You'll note how we tried to take the Korengal -- see the excellent film Restrepo for what that was like on the ground. And then the geniuses that be decided that the reason the Taliban were in the Korengal in the first place was because we were there, so if we just left then rainbows, unicorns, and ponies. It's like Howard Dean took over CENTCOM.

How'd that work out for you Harvard educated geniuses in the upper echelons of today's officer corps?

And the COIN strategy that worked so well in Iraq? I'm just not sure it ever had the prospects of working in Afghanistan. These are people that Abdullah Azzam, al Qaeda's most important early theorist, saw as savages. Obama's lack of commitment to the troop escalation simply reinforces this.

Further, the neighboring failed state of Pakistan means that no matter how hard we try the Salafi jihadis will always an escape route to the south.

If we are truly boned in the Afghanistan, then it seems to me that conventional wisdom predicts three likely outcomes:

A) Withdraw, the Taliban return, and with them their al Qaeda and various Salafi jihadi allies. We lose.

B) Stay the course for the next few years, train the Afghan military, leave, and then watch the inept and corrupt Karzai government preside over a failed state as it slowly falls into the hands of the Taliban. Al Qaeda returns, we lose.

C) Stay the course forever (20+ years). We win, but are now the imperial power al Qaeda claims we are. Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan are kept in check, but blossom everywhere else and the next 9/11 comes from Yemen, Indonesia, Nigeria, Somalia, or even from within the US. That's some victory.

But are there any winner scenarios? Only one that I see: nuke Afghanistan.

With all of them dead and the entire land of the Khorosan a nuclear wasteland, let's see al Qaeda try and operate in the Korengal. At this point al Qaeda become something more like the leather chapped antagonists of The Road Warrior than a threat to American peace and security. Sure they'll jack you for a liter of petrol, but let's see them try to get passed the radiation detectors at any large international airport.

Yes this means more al Qaeda recruitment around the globe as the Islamic world seethes and whines about American disregard for the lives of Muslims, but if we actually nuked a country for harboring al Qaeda do you really think that a single country in the world would cede territorial control to any group that might harbor salafi jihadist groups?

So, Pakistan, you say it's really hard to root out the Taliban in the so-called "tribal areas"? You know what's also hard? A nuclear winter.

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Yeah, I'm just venting. But damn, people, do we have any better options?

By Rusty Shackleford, Ph.D. at 03:21 PM | Comments |