For well over two years now I and others, have been questioning the wisdom of conducting a Counter Insurgency effort in the center of an ideologically monolithic society. The problem with COIN is that it assumes a much flatter playing field than what we, as a non-Shariah compliant society, can expect when conducting military operations in countries where religious adherence to Islam is above 98%.
The truth is, if we had chosen to understand the religion and the dedication of it’s adherents in a way that is consistent with how they have identified themselves -over and over again, COIN would never have been on the table in the first place. Instead; we chose to ignore the obvious in deference to our westernized vision of “harmony among all peoples” and this, to our detriment.
This is also an indictment of the very “nation building” nonsense that has plagued this country at least since the end of World War II. Here’s a little wisdom for the folks inside DC:
1. No nation on earth is responsible for the political vision of another people.
2. No nation is responsible to eradicate the evil that another people have brought upon themselves.
3. No nation is responsible to “convince” another society to “play nice with others” unless that society is jeopardizing that nation.
We did not have any responsibility to cause Afghanistan to “transform” itself into any vision or version of a “democratic” society and it is the height and breadth of ignorance to think we could overcome what is for far too many, the core religious belief that all men are not created equal but instead either compliant and brothers, or apostate and worthy of death.
Many of us have tried to convince Congress to review the selection of COIN in this theater of operations and the Office of the Secretary of Defense’s willful ignorance of the historical and spiritual truths of Islam but largely, to no avail. The fruit of this systematic dereliction of the duty of the various offices of the Federal government to protect the populace of this country and it’s holdings with a clear understanding of this current enemy, ripens every day.
There is no more clear evidence of our failure to understand this enemy than in the most recent statement by Hamid Karzai this past weekend. From the story and Karzai’s own mouth:
“Against all the Pakistan establishment has done to Afghanistan, Afghanistan is still a brother,” he said. “Afghanistan will never forget, will never forget the welcome, the hospitality, the respect and the brotherhood shown by the Pakistan people to the Afghan people.”
His comments ignited a wave of angry calls to radio talk shows in Kabul on Sunday. Many Afghans, particularly in the north, consider Pakistan the source of much of its current troubles. One caller said, “When the president calls them brother and the nation calls them enemies, then there will be a conflict between the president and the nation.”
It is clear that many who live near the Pakistani border disagree with Karzai’s comments for practical reasons. However, the most substantive element of that comment is what needs to be understood; “Against all the Pakistan establishment has done to Afghanistan, Afghanistan is still a brother,” And that is what we have been trying to hammer home these last nearly three years.
While there is no doubt that there are Afghan’s who live a more secular life, the fact is the vast majority of Afghan’s, as all other Muslims, see the world through the prism of Islamic teachings and in the end, the brotherhood of Islam trumps fanciful and temporary arrangements with the Infidel community of the world.
Saying this is no different than saying all Christians see things through the prism of Biblical teachings. While it is true that many Christians do not live a life that is completely in lockstep with Biblical teachings, all Christians never-the-less, see the world as taught through Scripture. The difference is, there isn’t one single New Testament Scripture that commands, recommends, alludes to or tolerates the murder of another person – especially for non-compliance with Biblical teachings. There is also no teaching which abrogates earlier Biblical truths as there is in the Koran. If a “Christian” murders, he has done so without authority of Scripture and is in fact, in violation of it.
It is also unlikely that one “Christian” nation will project it’s military might in defense of another “Christian” nation based simply on religious compliance. Karzai’s “brother” comment, clearly says he sees things differently and in spite of all of the “help” we have given him in eradicating the “unwanted” Taliban and in spite of our unilateral restraint and associated increased cost in American lives, through COIN.
Karzai’s comments tell a story which exemplifies what is exactly the core of the argument against assuming a less robust role in a country of this type. Here; religion inevitably trumps all other alliances. Assuming you can exploit tribal differences indefinitely and in your favor, is to simply ignore historical and ideological proof to the contrary.
The whole point of this discussion has not been to simply cross swords over differing understandings of this religion but to remember that our “theories” about the religion hold dire ramifications for those ordered to perform under COIN and it’s damnable ROE. It is also to remind those who are making decisions about strategy and will not have to face the dangers of IED’s set by the local population or ignored by them, that someone will pay the ultimate price in this environment because of our less aggressive posture under COIN.
And in case the most salient point in this is missing on some; I will spell it out: This latest statement from Karzai, whether immature prattle or doctrinal exhortation, will surely make the environment in Afghanistan far more lethal for our Warriors. Let’s keep in mind that an ever growing percentage of our footprint there is now dedicated to training ANA and ANP and they, technically, answer to Kabul.
Whether the average Afghan soldier or policeman actually sees himself as a patriot or not isn’t going to be as great a factor as his shared distaste for the “pigs and swine” of the “Great Satan” he is forced to train with.
In a land where acts of treachery are commonplace and even seen as signs of reverence for your deity, this new exclamation of support for things “not American” is certainly going to make things even less stable than they have been for our Warriors.
If that is possible…