Nov 18, 2009

Why Afghanistan is folly

"History shows that occupation by foreign armies with the intent of changing occupied societies does not work and ends up costing considerable blood and treasure. The notion that if only an army gets a few more troops, with different and better generals, then within a few years it can defeat a multi-faceted insurgency set in the middle of civil war, is not supported by an honest reading of history. Algeria, Vietnam and Iraq show this to be the case. Regrettably we don’t seem to be learning anything from history with regard to Afghanistan. We are making the same blunders.

When I was a combat battalion commander in West Baghdad in 2006, I asked an Iraqi Army general how long it would be before the civil war ended in Iraq. “Four hundred years,” was his answer. It took the United States almost a hundred years to end its most divisive political and social issue, slavery, and it required a cataclysmic civil war. Could an outside force have come into the United States in the 1850s and resolved its internal conflicts at the barrel of a gun? So why do we think we have ended Iraq’s civil war at the barrel of a gun over the past two years — or that we can do it in Afghanistan" — Colonel Gian P. Gentile

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