Edging Towards Chaos
Awhile ago I wrote on the inability of the MSM to accurately report our ill-fated war on terror. Specifically referenced was an article in which Pakistani military forces were claiming a tactical victory against Taliban insurgents in the Swat valley region of Pakistan. My premise was that no victory was truly won and that the more likely scenario was that the insurgents simply left the area ahead of the assault. That was in the end of May. It's now October and Yahoo! news has justified my conclusions when this happened, "Gunmen, bombs hit 5 sites in Pakistan, 39 die."
According to the article the attacks were "aimed at scuttling a planned offensive into the Taliban heartland near Afghanistan." Ironic then that they were supposed to have achieved a major victory over Taliban forces 5 months ago. Here they are now, pretty much choosing the time and place of THEIR offensives against the government of Pakistan. Another point to highlight is commentary by a senior government official when he said, "They were not here to live. They were here to die. Each time they were injured, they blew themselves up." If we look at these attacks through the lens of John Boyd's trinity of war, the moral, mental and physical aspects of war, we see a victory won on at least one of these levels and headway being made on a second.
It's difficult to know exactly what impact these attacks have had on the moral level without living in Pakistan. It is safe to say, however, that civilian casualties tend to result in a moral loss and plenty of civilian blood was shed in these attacks, including a car bomb attack that killed at least one six year old child and wounded numerous other women and children. As a counter-point to this would be a comment made by Kamran Bokhari, an analyst with Stratfor, a U.S.-based global intelligence firm when he said, "The militants are able to exploit certain things on the ground, like the anti-American sentiment, which is not just in society — it's also in the military." In addition to this "the nation's feared spy agencies have failed to stop the bloody attacks plaguing the country." Given that the ISI provided a great deal of assistance to the Taliban when they took over most of Afghanistan in 1996 I find it hard to believe that they're truly making any serious efforts to infiltrate or stop them.
On the mental level I feel the Taliban can claim a total victory. The boldness of the attacks coupled with their willingness to die always makes it difficult for state armed and funded forces to overcome this mental hurdle. Most do not want to die fighting a somewhat popular indigenous movement who is willing to risk any and everything.
On the physical level we see in-roads being made as the fighters are becoming better trained, able to scale the walls of a commando training center and place well aimed shots at security forces. Ultimately all the attackers were killed, so in the overall account of these attacks it was, at the very least, a tactical victory for the Pakistani security forces. However, the physical level is the least important of these three levels of war-making, so it's hardly a victory worth claiming.
Ultimately what this leads me to conclude, and this is a conclusion I've held for some time now, is that it is imperative we withdraw from Afghanistan sooner rather than later. Our mere presence provides all the moral justification the Taliban need to continue fighting, and the power of weakness provides them an avenue with which to inflict civilian casualties with no real moral loss. They do not have the resources of the United States or Pakistani militaries, and as a result suicide bombings and civilian casualties are tolerated. Our continued presence also carries with it the potential for a total destabilization, if not collapse, of the Pakistani government, and this is essentially a nightmare scenario for what we're trying to accomplish.