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Afghanistan: Sorta Like a Reservation....

...sorta not

This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, June 23, 2010.

Another fun day for the Obama administration. Four star General Stanley McCrystal and his staff apparently drank too much beer with a Rolling Stone reporter, resulting in a published and unquestioned summation of the General's thoughts about his peers and superiors. Most of the offensive quotes are by unnamed personnel, but because they felt free to complain it apparently was the reflective of the General's held opinion. As I compose this, the General has just left the Commander in Chief. We're uninformed as to his future, and there are good reasons for both firing and for keeping him on duty.

The War Against Al Quada in Afghanistan is now our longest. True, it has spent of large percentage of the time since 9-11 subservient to the Iraq portion of the war, but nine years is nine years. The problems fighting it in 2001 aren't vastly improved in 2010. For example, the stupidity in calling it the Afghanistan War. We're at war with Al Quada, which openly declared war against us in the 1990's, and their dubious protectors the Taliban. By calling it the Afghanistan War, a failure of language use, we constructed a template of falsehood that restricts accurate discussion. It's happened before.

In the 1800's we developed vague doctrine about how to fight our Indian wars, which are illustrative and recall our Middle East mission. It was considered best to hit hostile villages at dawn, drive away the ponies, and pursue. It was assumed Indians would flee, so attack from at least two sides. The problem was the word "village," which was used for 50 lodges up to more than 1000. What worked the Washita in 1868 was assumed to have potential against a much larger assemblage at the Little Bighorn in 1876.

But a small village keeps its mounts near and can react very quickly. A huge gathering has to keep its herd at distance for sanitation and grazing. Attacked, thousands of people trying to round up thousands of mounts a half mile away, and this atop the women trying to pack up and run, took time to even know what was going on. Large villages had to stand and fight whatever their preferences. Not understanding this, cavalry charging with a pistol hoping to engage in a chase found itself trying to reload in the middle of hostile hordes atop highly attractive means of locomotion, and this essentially happened on June 25, 1876, to the 7th Cavalry.

I claim that calling the War Against Al Quada as either the Iraq or Afghanistan War is misleading. It won't help by calling upcoming actions in Somalia a separate war. It's one war, against one enemy, in different theaters of operations. Once a war is titled with the name of a nation, it slowly becomes a war against that nation in the minds of the press, public, and military.

Despite all the lessons supposedly learned since the Korean Police Action, especially those acquired in Vietnam, yet again we have the American military projecting force and holding on to ground for no known point, losing men, and eventually having to give it up and later retake it. The American Left, which wants the US to leave Afghanistan partially to curb military arrogance and partially because it has seen no point to it, was on the political ascendant. Then, some geologic information about Afghanistan was recently released.

Seems Afghanistan is sitting on about a trillion dollars worth of material wealth. This changes reason for being there, or at least alters reasons for consideration of leaving. Of note are the large deposits of lithium, which are pretty rare, and important to the making of batteries, including car batteries for hybrids and all electric cars which decrease oil use. The deposits are right next to China, which positioned itself wisely to emerge into the international industrial age as high tech and green, both. It has a long ways to go, true, but its intent is clear and admirable and not compatible to our own. Does the United States, which found or confirmed the existence of this wealth, leave all that for other rival nations to profit to the detriment of our own industry, jobs, environment, and security?

The corrupt Afghan government likes McCrystal, well regarded within his command and outside it. What the criteria for Obama's decision will be isn't clear. Nobody is irreplaceable, but Afghanistan is no longer powerless in the negotiations and we are now fighting an augmented war there. The government we installed and nurtured is not entirely our friend, and holds much of value to our own security.

Sorta like certain Indian reservations here, designated as sovereign nations by lazy wording.