Whatever happened to Afghanistan? You know--Obama's GOOD War?

It's remarkable to not see, hear, or read anything about the conflict in Afghanistan.  I mean from 2004-2009 all the media did was provide a steady drumbeat of casualties, death, dying and blundering on the war in Iraq.  Since January 20, 2009...not so much from Afghanistan.

This was the war, if course that the highly qualified  and deep foreign policy experienced Senator from Illinois declared the good war and the war the U.S. should have been fighting and had to win.

However, in his new book, Bing West, former grunt, DoD official, and author has some interesting insights in this longest of American wars.

First of all, I have read several of Mr. West's books and found them to be pretty good, if somewhat overly kind to his fellow Marines.  What I mean is, in his book The March Up, covering the initial Marine invasion of Iraq in 2003, he glossed over the relief of one of the Marine Regiment commanders by General "Mad Dog" Mattis by stating he was "reassigned" to a flying command post.  Well that's not what happened, but I think in the general afterglow of the fall of Baghdad he wanted to spare a fellow Marine.  Kind, but not really honest writing.

However, that doesn't take away from his next two books on Iraq, one covering the Fallujah campaign of 2004 and the other a general look at the war from 2004-2009, which I thought were both very good.

Now he turns his attention to Afghanistan by examining the tactical level action in the two most lethal places in the country...the eastern border of Pakistan, specifically Nuristan Province, and the cradle of the Pashtun dominated Taliban, Helmand Province. 

He narrative is well-written and shows the challenges that small, often isolated groups of American riflemen faced dealing with a highly corrupt government in Kabul, indifferent and lax Afghan police and soldiers, and overly hostile villagers.  Like many authors providing a critical look at America's decade in this sheep infested hell-hole, West pulls no punches in stating that attempting to nation-build in this country was an impossible task.  From reading his book, I think LTG Dan Bolger would agree. 

What's surprising and shocking is that often the Americans were tactically and operationally out-maneuvered by the Taliban, who not only understood how to cynically exploit the American aversion to casualties and collateral damage by hiding behind women and children, but had a good understanding of using terrain and patience to wear down American platoons and companies in isolated mountain valleys.  Because there were never enough troops to truly pacify an area, or the will to root out Taliban cells regardless of collateral damage, a strange "live and let live" mentality took hold where all the Taliban had to do was not lose...to win...because the Obama Administration from the get-go stated we were leaving Afghanistan no matter what...by 2014. 

NOW of course, we find out that  Obummer lied about that too...seriously is there anything honest this Administration can do?

In a Shift, Obama Extends U.S. Role in Afghan Combat

Mr. Obama’s order allows American forces to carry out missions against the Taliban and other militant groups threatening American troops or the Afghan government, a broader mission than the president described to the public earlier this year, according to several administration, military and congressional officials with knowledge of the decision. The new authorization also allows American jets, bombers and drones to support Afghan troops on combat missions.

SO, I wonder when CodePink/MoveOn.Org and the Democratic Underground will start marching on Washington chanting -"Obama lied, kids died!"  Yea, don't hold your breath...anti-war movements are only for Republican Presidents, not the coolest, most awesome college professor President EVAH.

But, I digress............West pulls no punches and shows the impossibility of EVER winning in Afghanistan as long as the Taliban could slip across the border into Pakistan and regroup.  One would think that the U.S. would have learned from Vietnam the folly of giving their enemies a safe haven, and we sure as hell should never have trusted those duplicitous bastards in Pakistan that hid Osama for 10 years...but both the Bush and Obama Administrations tried to work with those back-stabbing sons-of-bitches.... practically ensuring that Afghanistan will fall back into warlordism and chaos.

But the American soldier and Marine certainly comes shining through in this book.  Patiently trying to conduct the principles of COIN in an impossible situation, the troops did their best and certainly killed a lot of bad guys...but...in the end...they couldn't overcome centuries of poverty, ignorance, and an ingrained hatred of anyone and everyone who comes from outside their tribal boundaries.

One can almost hear the ghosts of Geronimo and Sitting Bull as the U.S. troops fight a tribal war against the home team...only this time one that is supported by another country.

West also shows the chaos and anarchy at the top as a steady parade of U.S. commanders each fight their own version of COIN, nation-building, whatever, while dealing with an increasingly useless ally in Hamid Karzai, who is so corrupt he probably makes the old Diem regime in South Vietnam look saintly.  The inability to set clear goals and a coherent strategy made the grunt's life harder and ultimately contributed to the loss of support....as people asked.."What the hell are we doing there?" without a good answer.

West's book is pretty good, a quick read, and a harsh analysis of why the war in Afghanistan is going to hell in a handbasket.  While the media yawns, Obama goes into his last two years of lame duckness, and the Taliban sharpen their knives and wait.

Wonder what 'bamy will do when the Taliban ally with ISIS and starting turning their envious eyes toward Pakistan and it nuclear weapons?  Hmmmmmmmmmmm....probably say "FORE!"

Good book, pick it up...West has written a sequel of sorts focusing on a Marine battalion in the so-called Afghan Surge...it's in the queue