The truth of the matter is that things could hardly be worse. For one thing, corruption is so rampant that U.S. forces have practically given up on enforcement. This is due structurally to the fact that the regular Afghan economy is dwarfed by U.S. military transfer payments and Opium. Things are so bad that the central bank has failed because of corrupt real estate speculation in Dubai (among other places and Dubai is not in such great shape itself having recently been bailed out by the UAE).
Of course the Karzai family is heavily implicated in all of this and we’ve just had a Parliamentary election that was if anything even more fraudulent than last year’s disputed Presidential one. There are credible reports of double and triple voting (seems that Iraqi ink isn’t quite so indelible after all) and thousands of forged ballots were intercepted being smuggled in from Pakistan.
Speaking of Pakistan it’s now clear that a substantial fraction of their Military/Intelligence establishment, perhaps even a majority of it, support the Taliban and are providing them with Safe Havens and logistics support; and that the Pakistani civilian government is either unwilling or unable to prevent this.
Despite the Troop surge our military situation has not improved. We’re unable to exert control over the countryside except in limited areas for short periods of time and to prevent co-ordinated attacks against our bases by Company and Platoon size units, even the big ones near Kabul.
But only amateurs talk about tactics, Generals talk about logistics. It is technically impossible to support any more Troops in Afghanistan than we currently have in the field. Anything that can’t be airlifted in, which includes almost all the Bullets, Beans, and Gasoline, has to go through about half a dozen choke points that are mostly Taliban controlled. The only way we are able to get through at all is by bribing the Taliban with “security” contracts.
Now this may seem counter intuitive to you. Why should they allow us to supply our Troops the means to kill them?
Because we’re doing a lousy job at it and they hardly notice the pain.
Not only that, but once inside Afghanistan supplies are distributed over a road system that is naturally impassible during certain seasons and easily sabotaged. All you have to do is block a culvert and wait for the snow melt to wash out the road, you don’t even have to use explosives. And there are hundreds of thousands of vulnerable points, too many to constantly guard or even check on a regular basis.
Comparisons with Vietnam are inappropriate. Afghanistan is much, much worse.
Now despite our lack of progress, any prospect of progress, indeed even a definition of progress, and 9 years of futility, The Man Called Petraeus, our new Westmoreland, is making statements like this–
This is the kind of fight we’re in for the rest of our lives and probably our kids’ lives.
“I can see light at the end of the tunnel.”- General William Westmoreland
“I can’t lose the whole Democratic Party.”- President Barack Obama