Duffel Blog, a satire blog run by military veterans, published a devastating critique of National Security Adviser Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster’s reported support for putting more troops in Afghanistan, amid an intense White House debate over future U.S. involvement there.
The post, while serious in tone, was dripping with irony. It contrasted McMaster’s current support for escalating the war in Afghanistan with his famous study of the Vietnam War, “Dereliction of Duty,” in which he criticized policymakers for escalating an “unwinnable war.”
The post is even more notable since the blog’s contributors consist of veterans and active military members who write under pseudonyms.
In a post titled, “‘Dereliction of Duty’ author urges escalation of unwinnable, never-ending war,” the author “Dirk Diggler” writes:
THE WHITE HOUSE — The man who once wrote a book highly critical of policymakers who escalated an unwinnable war in Vietnam is urging escalation in an unwinnable war in Afghanistan, sources confirmed today.
Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, whose PhD thesis castigated the Joint Chiefs of Staff for their “dereliction of duty” during the Vietnam War, has laid out a plan to send thousands of additional troops to fight in Afghanistan.
McMaster, who rose through the ranks as an unconventional military thinker, dismissed comparisons to the Vietnam War, in which the US military tried to prop up the failing Diem regime amidst an insurgency sponsored by North Vietnam, and the war in Afghanistan, in which the US government is supporting the faltering government in Kabul against a Pakistan-sponsored insurgency.
McMaster and allies on the National Security Council reportedly support sending 3,000 to 5,000 more U.S. troops in Afghanistan and hitting the Taliban harder in order to drive them to the negotiating table.
Others in the White House want to scale back the U.S. role in Afghanistan’s war with the Taliban, with enough U.S. troops to advise Afghan forces and fight terrorists.
The Duffel Blog post underscored the futility with which some veterans and members of the military view escalation in the Afghanistan War, which is now in its 16th year. There were 100,000 U.S. troops there during the height of the war. Currently, there are 8,400. From the Blog:
“We are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel,” said McMaster, President Trump’s national security adviser, citing nearly a decade’s worth of futile efforts to shift the burden of fighting onto the Afghan National Security Forces, much as US forces tried to promote the “Vietnamization” of the war in the late 1960s.
The post also notes the cost of the Afghanistan war in money and lives:
McMaster’s predecessor during the Vietnam War, Henry Kissinger, wrote in his diary that there was “no cheap and easy way to defeat guerilla movements,” and that “we know nothing about nation-building.” McMaster assured reporters this was not the case in the 16-year war in Afghanistan, which has cost nearly one trillion dollars and claimed over 3,500 coalition lives.
The post dryly notes that Afghanistan has been commonly referred to as the “graveyard of Empires:”
McMaster’s PhD thesis, later published as a book, carefully examined the nature of the war in Vietnam, a nation surrounded by hostile neighbors that had never been successfully conquered, before considering sending more troops to Afghanistan, commonly referred to as the “graveyard of Empires.”
The post was enthusiastically shared on Twitter by military veterans.
Duffelblog is too on point sometimes. https://t.co/mAKRedU48F
— Derek J. Connor (@DerekJConnor) May 31, 2017
The post also touched on criticism McMaster has faced for joining the Trump administration:
McMaster had considered retiring from the Army prior to assuming the position as National Security Advisor. He decided to stay on and accept the offer, however, saying, “You either retire an unorthodox thinker who speaks truth to power or you stay in the Army long enough to become a general.”
Many in the foreign policy establishment who are critical of the president had expressed hope McMaster would be the “adult in the room,” and many have slammed him for defending the administration on several occasions.