parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule
Nobody thinks in terms of human beings.
Governments don't. Why should we?
They talk about the people and the proletariat,
I talk about the suckers and the mugs--it's the same thing.
They have their five-year plans, so have I.
--Harry Lime, The Third Man (1949)
America is suffering an overarching crisis
of memory and knowledge
--The Age of American Unreason, Susan Jacoby
News reports say Afghanistan's cocaine cowboys are doing quite well thanks, cornering 93% of the world's opium poppy trade, while U.S. lapdog President Hamid Karzai claims a tenuous hold on 30% of the country ("Thriving Taliban drug trade is grim sign how far Afghanistan has slid since US went in.")
The latter statistic is a lie, however, as Karzai's government doesn't control a square inch of Afghanistan. NATO and U.S. forces secure that shit hole. If the West pulled out tomorrow Karzai and his flunkies would follow, living the life of luxury with the $100's of millions stolen from the U.S. taxpayers.
That is what happened in the Republic of Vietnam and will happen again in Afghanistan if our leaders ever decide to execute the logical course of action.
The Taliban poppy growers have 10-11% of Afghanistan, while local tribes not loyal to Karzai handle the rest, said National Intelligence Director Michael McConnell. "Afghanistan's Defense Ministry has rejected McConnell's discouraging assessment, insisting the government controls the vast majority of the country."
Ranger has just finished reading Edward Murphy's Dak To: America's Sky Soldiers, and sees the linkage between 1967 and 2008. Something is amiss in both accounts, and in both scenarios, the 173rd Airborne Brigade was a key player.
After reading testimonials like Dak To, one is left in awe and admiration of the courage, stamina and devotion to duty of the average Airborne soldier. Those soldiers of 1967 were as fine as any that ever carried a rifle for the U.S. Army. The paratroopers of 1944, 1967, 2007/8 are everything that a fighting man should be. The only difference is now their lives are expended for dubious [Dubya's (?)] objectives.
A soldier's life should never be endangered except for the most serious of reasons. Of the 3,200 men in the 173d Airborne Brigade deployed to Dak To,
"Twenty-seven percent of them became casualties during the battles. Losses among the individual rifle companies was even more severe. "The twelve rifle companies of the 173d that deployed to Dak To averaged 125 officers and men each at the start of the campaign. Since at least 90% of the brigade's casualties occurred in their ranks, the rifle companies suffered 51% losses losses in just one month!" (p. 325).
All-told, 376 Americans were KIA, or listed as missing and presumed dead, in the fighting around Dak To. Another 1,441 were wounded." General Westmoreland, returning to South Vietnam from a Washington tour of optimistic speechifying, was "shocked" at the "horrific casualties."
When he asked the Generals on the ground how these could have been avoided, he was told they couldn't without more artillery and air support. Since the support was not to be forthcoming, the simple answer was, the casualties could not be avoided.
40 years later, what has changed? The Phony War on Terror (PWOT©) boils down to a mission statement could be the same as that which prompted the Central Highlands battles. "Kill the enemy wherever you find them."
In the Republic of Vietnam battles the enemy was clearly identifiable as North Vietnamese Army soldiers. This nicety does not exist in Iraq and Afghanistan since the U.S. is actually fighting the citizenry of those countries. It is the ultimate irony and lie that we are there to democratize them, yet we will blow their shit away if they object to our presence.
The U.S. Army of Vietnam did the best possible job they could, as does the present-day military. But killing people is seldom the answer in insurgent situations. Killing NVA soldiers by the 1,000's did not achieve Westmoreland's objectives. Then as now the mission is misstated and not clearly defined.
While the slaughter of Hill 875 was going on, Westmoreland reported that the war in South Vietnam was in the "Third Phase":
"In this phase, according to Westmoreland, the U.S. would not only continue to destroy the enemy but would also increase efforts to build up the South Vietnamese forces. Then once the ARVN was capable of assuming more responsibility for the war, American troops, in Phase Four, could begin to return home."
Well, it's pretty to think so. Substitute "Petraeus" and "Iraq" and you get the idea. SSDD.
"The Taliban have built a huge and profitable drug operation in Afghanistan while provincial governors looked the other way, the latest grim sign of backsliding in a country the United States has spent six years and billions of dollars (euros) trying to salvage.
"A report Friday on drugs. . .comes hand-in-hand with the resurgence of Taliban militants despite U.S. anti-insurgent efforts. Also on the rise: terrorist violence such as roadside bombs, suicide bombings and attacks on police.
"The problems have worsened rather than diminished on the watch of the U.S.-backed government in Kabul and the relatively small number of American forces stationed in the nation while larger numbers are deployed in Iraq."More than 6,500 people, mostly insurgents, died in violence in 2007, according to an Associated Press count of figures provided by local and international officials. It was the bloodiest year since the U.S.-led toppling in 2001 of the government controlled by the Taliban, a religious militia."
"Mostly insurgents" allows a lot of wiggle-room; that could mean 51% were insurgents. It would be instructive to see actual civilian casualty figures, but that will never be reported. As in Vietnam, the body counts were a lie, and so too are present-day civilian casualty figures.
"That is despite the $140 billion (euro92.3 billion) Congress has appropriated for Afghanistan since the Sept. 11 attacks that were the original reason given for U.S. involvement. Al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden is still at large, thought to have fled through Afghanistan's tribal lands to a hideout across the Pakistan border."
So in 1967 U.S. paratroopers died for the real estate of SVN, to what end?
In 2/05, the entire unit of the brave 173d deployed to Afghanistan for a 14-month tour. For all the expense, effort and loss of lives, we have, in the name of democracy, the failed narco-state of Afghanistan to show for this lie.
Good airborne troopers continue to die propping up corrupt governments and perpetuating this lie.
Will we ever learn?