Articles, Opinions & Views: Richard Clarke’s Good War in Afghanistan


 
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Shivaji
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In A Foxhole
“When you're left wounded on

Afganistan's plains and

the women come out to cut up what remains,

Just roll to your rifle

and blow out your brains,

And go to your God like a soldier”

“We are not retreating. We are advancing in another direction.”

“It is fatal to enter any war without the will to win it.”

“Old soldiers never die; they just fade away.

“The soldier, above all other people, prays for peace,

for he must suffer and be the deepest wounds and scars of war.”

“May God have mercy upon my enemies, because I won't .”
“The object of war is not to die for your country but to make the other bastard die for his.

“Nobody ever defended anything successfully, there is only attack and attack and attack some more.

“Fixed fortifications are a monument to the stupidity of man."
“It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died.
Rather we should thank God that such men lived.

The Soldier stood and faced God


Which must always come to pass

Photobucket
He hoped his shoes were shining

Just as bright as his brass

"Step forward you Soldier,

How shall I deal with you?


Have you always turned the other cheek?


To My Church have you been true?"


"No, Lord, I guess I ain't


Because those of us who carry guns


Can't always be a saint."

I've had to work on Sundays

And at times my talk was tough,

And sometimes I've been violent,

Because the world is awfully rough.

But, I never took a penny

That wasn't mine to keep.

Though I worked a lot of overtime

When the bills got just too steep,

The Soldier squared his shoulders and said

And I never passed a cry for help

Though at times I shook with fear,

And sometimes, God forgive me,

I've wept unmanly tears.

I know I don't deserve a place

Among the people here.

They never wanted me around


Except to calm their fears.


If you've a place for me here,


Lord, It needn't be so grand,


I never expected or had too much,


But if you don't, I'll understand."

There was silence all around the throne

Where the saints had often trod

As the Soldier waited quietly,

For the judgment of his God.

"Step forward now, you Soldier,

You've borne your burden well.

Walk peacefully on Heaven's streets,

You've done your time in Hell."

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Richard Clarke’s Good War in Afghanistan
Sunday, October 10, 2021

Richard Clarke

Jihad Watch : Experts “who examined the Afghan security issue closely have no doubt that the United States could have brought true stability to Afghanistan with a larger force, could have made the return of the Taliban and the terrorists virtually impossible.” So assured high-ranking National Security Council veteran Richard Clarke in his controversial 2004 book, Against All Enemies: Inside America’s War on Terror, with a certainty that seems absurd after 20 years of America’s Afghanistan debacle.

Clarke criticized limited American deployments after 9/11 to Afghanistan, where the country’s Taliban rulers had allowed Al Qaeda terrorists to establish bases from which to wage global jihad. Therefore, after the Taliban quickly fell to an American-led coalition, the “new Afghan government of President Hamid Kharzi was given little authority outside the capital city of Kabul,” Clarke wrote. He bewailed a supposedly lost

opportunity to end the factional fighting and impose an integrated national government. Yet after initial efforts to unite the country, American interest waned and the warlords returned to their old ways. Afghanistan was a nation raped by war and factional fighting for twenty years. It needed everything rebuilt, but in contrast to funds sought for Iraq, U.S. economic and development aid to Afghanistan was inadequate and slowly delivered.

James Dobbins, a “career diplomat and expert on military and security issues,” highlighted for Clarke the limited American resources in Afghanistan. Dobbins had “worked on rebuilding Somalia, Haiti, Kosovo, and Bosnia. In 2001, he began similar work on Afghanistan,” Clarke explained. He recalled from Dobbins’ comparisons that “in the first two years of the Bosnia and Kosovo rebuilding efforts, funds available totaled $1,390 and $814 per capita” in contrast to merely $52 in Afghanistan.

Clarke also critiqued American support for Afghan security forces:

The goal the Pentagon approved was only a 4,800-man Afghan national army by 2004. Some regional warlords count their strength at ten thousand men under arms. The initial units of the new force were trained by the U.S. but we soon stopped support and supervision. Many of the new recruits departed the force, taking their equipment with them.

Meanwhile the Taliban presented real jihadist threats in Afghanistan, Clarke noted, in contrast to claims that the Taliban remained fundamentally distinct from Al Qaeda. The Taliban showed “effectively little difference between their leadership and that of al Qaeda,” he wrote:

Taliban leaders, including Mullah Omar, completely agreed with bin Laden and al Qaeda’s goals. There were stories of intermarriage between the bin Laden and Omar families. There were also economic, military, and political ties that were inviolable.

Yet the fragility of the Taliban’s Afghan opponents concerned Clarke, who had advocated before 9/11 American military aid to the Northern Alliance based in Afghanistan’s Panjshir Valley and led by Ahmad Shah Masoud:

I had tried to argue that the U.S. work harder to fight against the Taliban in its civil war in Afghanistan. The Northern Alliance still held sway over a third of the country but provinces switched sides as a result of combat or cash, and much of the combatants and all of the cash came from bin Laden to help the Taliban. It was only a matter of time before the Alliance crumbled.

Clarke also worried that Masoud, whom Al Qaeda assassinated two days before 9/11 in a suicide bombing, was no liberal saint, whatever his hatred of the Taliban. “Massoud was a good guy now, but later the Congress, or the media, or some other White House staff would focus on the fact that he sold opium, abused human rights, and had killed civilians,” Clarke wrote.

Over $2.3 trillion spent, and 2,400 American war dead, in Afghanistan since 9/11, Americans have learned only too well about the weaknesses of Afghan leadership. As he himself indicated, rival warlords and ethnic groups in a culture dominated by sharia supremacism make any attempt to install a stable, pro-Western government in Afghanistan a fool’s errand. Any Western development aid here will usually only buy temporary support from mercenary, corrupt Afghan leaders.

Only more limited strategies to contain Taliban threats in Afghanistan ever made any sense, such as Clarke’s realpolitik willingness to support the Northern Alliance. Yet he surprisingly departed in Afghanistan from his criticism of President George W. Bush’s overly ambitious nation-building project in Iraq. A strident opponent of the Iraq war, Clarke rejected that “calls from Washington for democratization in the Arab world help if such calls originate from a leader who is trying to impose democracy on an Arab country at the point of an American bayonet.” How his Afghanistan policy recommendations involved any fewer American bayonets than in Iraq remained unexplained.

By contrast, Clarke did provide an insightful account of the various strategic quandaries that challenged American policymakers in confronting Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein over decades, as a future article will examine. Although Clarke expressed longstanding desires to remove Hussein, Clarke favored more limited leadership alterations in Iraq rather than Bush’s grand regime change. As Clarke’s own writings on Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have indicated, political progress in Muslim-majority countries must proceed cautiously to have any chance of success.

posted by Major D Swami (Retired) @ 10:37 AM  
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