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  • US Strategy in Afghanistan (continuation of thread in BF2142 Forum)

    Continuation of a discussion which began with the 3rd from last post on this page. Knew it would get locked sooner or later, so I decided to continue the discussion here before that happened...

    Originally posted by sordavie
    I didn't say it was the only way. And I didn't say we should do it this way. But we have a very cosmopolitan view of war these days. But war is not a nice thing. War are brutal by its very nature. One wages a war by killing the enemy until they submit. That's what war is about - the butchering of people of a political community until they submit to the will of your political community. Don't think that merely targeting combatants alone because those combatants deserve to be killed somehow makes it better. Our soldiers are combatants too, they don't deserve to be killed anymore than noncombatants.

    The suggestion is not to wage a campaign of genocide. Waging a war with minimal restrictions is a different concept than genocide. When we wage a war with many restrictions, the enemy, if they don't agree to follow these limiting conventions can easily exploit them. For instance by not targeting any perceived noncombatants, the enemy can attempt to disguise themselves and hide noncombatants. In some cases, they can exploit these advantages to hold out indefinitely against a superior force. In such cases, the superior force needs to change it's doctrine of warfare or else give up.

    If we're not ready and willing to do that and it doesn't look like we're making much headway with our current doctrine, then we should probably give up. Because our resources could be better used doing other things.

    Except the goal is completely different here, and pummeling the entire country into submission isn't going to do anything but fuel the fire that the war is attempting (but horribly failing) to put out. They want to eliminate Al Qaeda, but destroying the whole country and then leaving will not only be totally immoral, but will also just make more people want to sign up for Anti-American terrorist time.

    P.S. Are you really saying you think that killing noncombatants would be acceptable in this case. I know you're the brainy, cold, calculated dude, but do you really have no moral stance on whether that's a right or wrong to do?
    Anger is a gift - Malcolm X


  • #2
    Re: US Strategy in Afghanistan (continuation of thread in BF2142 Forum)

    Imagine its the U.S. that's being bombed, and the vastly superior side that's doing it is making this same argument. It's not as easy to support the killing of noncombatants when this policy is killing your own friends and family. It's easy when the conflict isn't in your own backyard and you have the luxury of dismissively accepting that "war is brutal".

    We're not making "headway" in our current doctrine is because the enemy KNOWS we will have to leave (along with a variety of other factors). We simply can't stay there because we're going bankrupt, our forces are worn thin, and support for the war at home is low. Our best bet to reduce extremism and the protection of our country is removing our occupying military forces from their countries.

    Our republic is pursuing a policy of permanent war against "extremism", when its own actions are directly responsible for its perpetuation.
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    • #3
      Re: US Strategy in Afghanistan (continuation of thread in BF2142 Forum)

      That's a very crude and dated way of looking at war in this day in age. No offense, but it also marks someone that doesn't fully understand the complex situation of the Afghan war. To keep things short one only needs to look back at how Russia waged war in Afghanistan and where that got them. They were very aggressive in that they held zero regard for civilians and were very reckless. Look back and study all of the problems that created for them. Once you see that it's basically impossible to make an argument in that regard.

      Look at our key objectives in Afghanistan. We are not there to pummel Afghanistan into submission, rather we want to uplift that country and their populace. We do of course want to pummel the terrorist networks in that region, but it's vital that we differentiate the two. By making that statement you're essentially implying that our enemy is one in the same, Afghans + Taliban which just isn't true, they're two separate entities and need to be treated as such. If there were strong terrorist networks in the USA, what would we do? Would we go after them with reckless force and disregard the care of our civilians, or would we make it a priority to only go after our enemy combatants and minimize risk to all others?

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      • #4
        Re: US Strategy in Afghanistan (continuation of thread in BF2142 Forum)

        Originally posted by aeroripper View Post
        Imagine its the U.S. that's being bombed, and the vastly superior side that's doing it is making this same argument. It's not as easy to support the killing of noncombatants when this policy is killing your own friends and family. It's easy when the conflict isn't in your own backyard and you have the luxury of dismissively accepting that "war is brutal".
        What? Clearly I wouldn't support the killing of American Noncombatants if America was fighting a war against a superior force. But that's exactly why they would do such a thing - to make us submit. That's how they'd win. Do that enough and we'd eventually say, "okay if you stop doing that, we give in."

        I think you're not making a distinction between understanding what a military force needs to do in order to achieve a goal in a particular circumstance with giving my support to a particular military policy. The first is a piece of impersonal reasoning. The latter is a piece of personal reasoning. You're trying to give me a counterexample to the first kind by giving me an example of the second kind. But that won't count as a counterexample since they are not of the same kind.

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        • #5
          Re: US Strategy in Afghanistan (continuation of thread in BF2142 Forum)

          Originally posted by aeroripper View Post
          We're not making "headway" in our current doctrine is because the enemy KNOWS we will have to leave (along with a variety of other factors). We simply can't stay there because we're going bankrupt, our forces are worn thin, and support for the war at home is low. Our best bet to reduce extremism and the protection of our country is removing our occupying military forces from their countries.

          I disagree. All we need is time to build up the Afghan forces whereas they're capable of defeating the Taliban on their own. Our #1 goal is not to seek out and eliminate every Taliban fighter in the region, no matter what we would not be able to get each and every combatant. So if the Taliban decides to fight a war of attrition, fine, so long as the Afghan force is strong enough to defeat their resistance once we draw down.

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          • #6
            Re: US Strategy in Afghanistan (continuation of thread in BF2142 Forum)

            Originally posted by sordavie View Post
            What? Clearly I wouldn't support the killing of American Noncombatants if America was fighting a war against a superior force. But that's exactly why they would do such a thing - to make us submit. That's how they'd win. Do that enough and we'd eventually say, "okay if you stop doing that, we give in."

            Again, you're still not recognizing that the people of Afghanistan are not our enemy. Making them submit doesn’t accomplish anything for us.

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            • #7
              Re: US Strategy in Afghanistan (continuation of thread in BF2142 Forum)

              Originally posted by sordavie View Post
              I think you're not making a distinction between understanding what a military force needs to do in order to achieve a goal in a particular circumstance with giving my support to a particular military policy. The first is a piece of impersonal reasoning. The latter is a piece of personal reasoning. You're trying to give me a counterexample to the first kind by giving me an example of the second kind. But that won't count as a counterexample since they are not of the same kind.
              Would you mind making that distinction clearer, since I'm not getting what exactly you believe should be done to win this "war".
              Anger is a gift - Malcolm X

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              • #8
                Re: US Strategy in Afghanistan (continuation of thread in BF2142 Forum)

                Originally posted by SharinganTH1422 View Post
                Would you mind making that distinction clearer, since I'm not getting what exactly you believe should be done to win this "war".
                I didn't say anything about what should be done to win this war. I made no claims as to what we should do to win - though I did say somewhere that we should probably leave if we're not making any progress.

                I also said that a way to win this kind of war (not to be confused with a suggestion on what we should do) is to wage a less restricted war. Surely I can say that one way to have an excellent steak is to have it medium rare without saying that you should have your steak medium rare.

                One way to win is to make the entire country political community there submit - yes including the nonTaliban Afghanistans. A goal is to uplift the country and bring it into the modern age? Then make it a pseudo colony and let it be influenced by western culture. That's done wonders for many many countries, after the initial sufferings. If that's not a goal, then let them fight their own civil war.

                I don't know what we should do. I don't know enough about the specific circumstances - doubt anyone here does. And I don't know what kind of goals we ought to have. A general war on terror seems to have goals that are unattainable, and it seems to be much more costly than the benefits.

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                • #9
                  Re: US Strategy in Afghanistan (continuation of thread in BF2142 Forum)

                  What? Clearly I wouldn't support the killing of American Noncombatants if America was fighting a war against a superior force. But that's exactly why they would do such a thing - to make us submit. That's how they'd win. Do that enough and we'd eventually say, "okay if you stop doing that, we give in."
                  In the black and white sense of victory, it is possible to force submission and subjugate the population to whatever terms you wish to impose on them using a ruthless and bloody military campaign. I believe this is what the U.S. did in the Philippine–American War in the late nighteenth century. Although we relied on residual local forces to continue the battle after we left.

                  I think you're not making a distinction between understanding what a military force needs to do in order to achieve a goal in a particular circumstance with giving my support to a particular military policy. The first is a piece of impersonal reasoning. The latter is a piece of personal reasoning. You're trying to give me a counterexample to the first kind by giving me an example of the second kind. But that won't count as a counterexample since they are not of the same kind.
                  As stated above, you could "win" by denying the enemy participants any refuge in the civilian population, by bombing them anyways even if they were hiding among them for protection. Although to me this seems to be a self defeating proposition, especially if you're trying to "win the hearts and minds" of those not engaged in hostilities against you. Not to mention, how we could still claim the moral high ground in the conflict, while slaughtering poor people that were already living in misery before we got there.

                  I disagree. All we need is time to build up the Afghan forces whereas they're capable of defeating the Taliban on their own. Our #1 goal is not to seek out and eliminate every Taliban fighter in the region, no matter what we would not be able to get each and every combatant. So if the Taliban decides to fight a war of attrition, fine, so long as the Afghan force is strong enough to defeat their resistance once we draw down.
                  The Taliban will never be defeated entirely, simply because we are viewed as an imperialistic, invading oppressor to which the people of Afghanistan need protection from. If we are able to install a puppet government friendly to U.S. interests, along with an Afghan army that is loyal enough to die for said central government, then maybe we'll have someone to take over after we're gone to continue the battle. The biggest catalyst for reconciliation in this country is the removal of our presence entirely.
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                  • #10
                    Re: US Strategy in Afghanistan (continuation of thread in BF2142 Forum)

                    Originally posted by TactiKill Jay View Post
                    That's a very crude and dated way of looking at war in this day in age. No offense, but it also marks someone that doesn't fully understand the complex situation of the Afghan war. To keep things short one only needs to look back at how Russia waged war in Afghanistan and where that got them. They were very aggressive in that they held zero regard for civilians and were very reckless. Look back and study all of the problems that created for them. Once you see that it's basically impossible to make an argument in that regard.

                    Look at our key objectives in Afghanistan. We are not there to pummel Afghanistan into submission, rather we want to uplift that country and their populace. We do of course want to pummel the terrorist networks in that region, but it's vital that we differentiate the two. By making that statement you're essentially implying that our enemy is one in the same, Afghans + Taliban which just isn't true, they're two separate entities and need to be treated as such. If there were strong terrorist networks in the USA, what would we do? Would we go after them with reckless force and disregard the care of our civilians, or would we make it a priority to only go after our enemy combatants and minimize risk to all others?
                    I'm not really sure what you think the difference between war in this day and age is compared to historical conceptions of war are. The idea of just war, or jus ad bellum and jus in bello, go back a long ways - at least to the first century BC. The ideas really haven't changed all that much, except by keeping up to date on technology. And there is also the realist school of thought on warfare and politics. I'm clearly of the realist school of though, but even most just war theorists allow that total wars may be justified - the world wars are generally accepted as some kind of evidence to that.

                    If there were a strong terrorist network in the US, we wouldn't be waging a war against them. We would be taking police action or something like that. That is not a good analogy. Though I suspect that if the terrorist network in the US were proportionately as powerful as the Taliban are in Afghanistan, we would have a civil war on our hands and most civil wars turn out to be total wars - probably because the fighting is in the backyard of all parties and the whole populace is involved.

                    The Taliban and the Afghans are not two completely separate political communities. There's a high degree of overlap since most of the Taliban are Afghans. That's not to say I don't understand the distinction between the Taliban and those Afghans who our current objectives are to help. All I was saying was that against a foe that uses the strategy of exploiting their enemy's own set restrictions of warfare, a strategy to win is to lose some of those restrictions.

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                    • #11
                      Re: US Strategy in Afghanistan (continuation of thread in BF2142 Forum)

                      Originally posted by sordavie View Post
                      I'm not really sure what you think the difference between war in this day and age is compared to historical conceptions of war are. The idea of just war, or jus ad bellum and jus in bello, go back a long ways - at least to the first century BC. The ideas really haven't changed all that much, except by keeping up to date on technology. And there is also the realist school of thought on warfare and politics. I'm clearly of the realist school of though, but even most just war theorists allow that total wars may be justified - the world wars are generally accepted as some kind of evidence to that.

                      If there were a strong terrorist network in the US, we wouldn't be waging a war against them. We would be taking police action or something like that. That is not a good analogy. Though I suspect that if the terrorist network in the US were proportionately as powerful as the Taliban are in Afghanistan, we would have a civil war on our hands and most civil wars turn out to be total wars - probably because the fighting is in the backyard of all parties and the whole populace is involved.

                      The Taliban and the Afghans are not two completely separate political communities. There's a high degree of overlap since most of the Taliban are Afghans. That's not to say I don't understand the distinction between the Taliban and those Afghans who our current objectives are to help. All I was saying was that against a foe that uses the strategy of exploiting their enemy's own set restrictions of warfare, a strategy to win is to lose some of those restrictions.
                      Sure, it's a good analogy because ultimately that's what we want, the Afghans policing their own country should we be able to build them to that level. Using the strategy that you're suggesting would only hinder our efforts in that regard. If you're acknowledging that they're two separate entities then surely our strategy should respect that. I believe then that the key point you’re missing is our #1 goal in Afghanistan which again is to build their forces to defeat this enemy. That’s our goal. Your approach suggests that our main goal is to topple these networks on our own, which isn’t the case and having no regard for civilians would set us back from what our main goal truly is.

                      While war itself in pure form may not have changed over the years, but the people have. I’d like to think that we’re a more civilized society than we were 200 years ago, or even 50 years ago. Innocent people dying are far less acceptable today than it was in the past. So our war efforts need to reflect this change in society. Whether you agree or disagree the fact remains that there’s still a domestic politics side to war and the mass killings of civilians is going to create huge political problems at home and even abroad as well. So obviously that’s something that need be addressed. Besides it flat out being wrong it’s not in our best interest politically to do such. Senators would cut support for the war, our allies would cut support, and our image would drastically change for the worse.

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                      • #12
                        Re: US Strategy in Afghanistan (continuation of thread in BF2142 Forum)

                        Originally posted by aeroripper View Post
                        The Taliban will never be defeated entirely, simply because we are viewed as an imperialistic, invading oppressor to which the people of Afghanistan need protection from. If we are able to install a puppet government friendly to U.S. interests, along with an Afghan army that is loyal enough to die for said central government, then maybe we'll have someone to take over after we're gone to continue the battle. The biggest catalyst for reconciliation in this country is the removal of our presence entirely.

                        We will in due time. If we left now that government would be overthrown and left in a worse position than they were in before we got there. It would also have a negative impact on Pakistan as well. There's a reason why part of winning the hearts and minds was us convincing them that we would not leave before the job was done. The implications of us leaving now are too severe for both sides.

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                        • #13
                          Re: US Strategy in Afghanistan (continuation of thread in BF2142 Forum)

                          Originally posted by sordavie View Post
                          A general war on terror seems to have goals that are unattainable
                          Finally somebody gets it. Yay.
                          Anger is a gift - Malcolm X

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                          • #14
                            Re: US Strategy in Afghanistan (continuation of thread in BF2142 Forum)

                            If we completely withdrew our forces from Afghanistan in 6 months' time, what would be the effect? Effect on our economy, effect on the Taliban, effect on Afghanistan, effect on neighboring Pakistan, effect on Al Qaeda.

                            If someone has some intelligent, informed answers it'd spark this conversation into something besides the usual "the Taliban aren't our enemies, they're freedom fighters, we're mean to them, so they're mean back to us!" sympathy crap.

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                            • #15
                              Re: US Strategy in Afghanistan (continuation of thread in BF2142 Forum)

                              Originally posted by Gill View Post
                              If someone has some intelligent, informed answers it'd spark this conversation into something besides the usual "the Taliban aren't our enemies, they're freedom fighters, we're mean to them, so they're mean back to us!" sympathy crap.
                              I'm sorry, are you suggesting that the Taliban's efforts against Western societies aren't a response to US intervention in their home territory? Who is saying they aren't enemies currently due to their terrorist activities?

                              Even if we pulled out, our presence in other middle eastern countries is enough to keep them hostile to the US and they have enough support to increase their power locally, although our continued presence gives them supporters too. In my opinion we should pull out, simply because we appear to be doing more harm than good, and sometimes continuing down the wrong path just makes it worse in the long run although the near future might suck pretty horribly. In all cases, western societies aren't going to fix the region's problems without them doing something about it first. Pull out, let the UN decide whether to intervene further and the anti-US sentiment should be substantially reduced.
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