Afghan Enigma


By: Wayne Brown


With the debacle surrounding our change of command in Afghanistan, there has been much discussion in the past few days regarding our counter-insurgency efforts to win the hearts and minds of the local tribal people, strengthen the government structure, and get them operating effectively on their own.  In doing so, our hope is that the Afghans will then throw the terrorists out of their country and deprive them of a sanctuary.  Much like our efforts in Vietnam back in the 1960-70’s, the goal is a noble one but possibly not a realistic one to pursue.


The USA has been involved in military action in Afghanistan now longer than we were in Vietnam.  The main difference is that we have suffered a lot less in terms of casualties over that timeframe.  Still, much like Vietnam, we have not accomplished our goals and we seem to be either fighting corruptions or playing golf with a dead man in terms of the efforts we seem to be securing from the Afghan tribes in this process.  From that perspective, the outcome so far is not so different from Vietnam.  There seems to be a large abyss between our effort to “sell democracy” and the Afghan tribes’ ability to embrace the concept. Could it be that these people are far too involved with just the daily task of surviving to be overly concerned about creating a democratic process or regaining control of their country.  In fact, one could make the argument that even if they could establish an effective democratic government which was relatively free of corruption, how effective would they be in ridding themselves of their terrorist residence.  Maybe they are like us…having a bit of trouble locating them in the terrain of Afghanistan.


We certainly are investing a lot of time and financial assets in the process of attaining our goals in this country.  We made similar investments in Vietnam building long concrete runways for our aircraft, digging deep water harbors and ports for our ships, erecting operating bases complete with buildings to house our personnel.  We gave all the appearances in Vietnam that we had come to stay a while and we did.  In the end, we loaded up our people, gave away our equipment or tossed it into the ocean and came home.  After watching Lyndon Johnson cry regularly on television over all the blood he was shedding only to continue to drag out the operations or render them so ineffective that we had no possible hope of attaining our objectives.  We packed up and came home. America cheered and many of our own celebrated the fact that we had “lost the war.” In the end, all we had to measure our progress was a body count of 58,000 of our own dead. In the end, no one back home cared how many of their boys we killed, all that is forgotten in light of our own dead loved ones.


Now, don’t take me wrong here.  I am not espousing that we give up the war on terror, turn tail and run like some would have us do.  I am saying that maybe we need to reassess what we are doing, how we are doing it, and what we likely will accomplish if we stay this course.  Here’s an example for you.  Nixon was convinced that he could bomb North Vietnam into submission and he pursued that effort in order to try to bring enough suffering to elicit compromise on their part.  We dropped bombs, tons of bombs all over that God forsaken land leaving potholes and craters that will be there long after we have all departed this earth.  We bombed, then we bombed again and again.  We tried to bomb the valleys and hit the tops of the hills missing our mark.  A much better strategy could have been employed but in much the same fashion.  We simply could have substituted bowling balls for bombs.  The bombers would have been used to deliver the same tonnage of bowling balls to the same targets.  These balls would have no finger holes drilled in them and all would have been coated with a thick layer of axle grease.  The bowling balls, when dropped, would have still hit on the top of the hill but they would then roll down into the valley and blocked the road.  All the little commies would have been so busy trying to pick up these greasy balls and get them out of the road that they would not have been able to prosecute the war effort and would have given up in disgust and frustration.  But we were too stubborn to change, we persisted in dropping bombs and fell short of our objective.  We need to weigh Afghanistan against this backdrop of history.


Look back at history of all the wars and struggling which has transpired in Afghanistan over the centuries.  There have been no real winners.  It has been and probably always will be a wild and wooly land inhabited by tribal people who look at little other than their own daily existence and only as far as their eyes can see in any one direction.  They operate on their instincts to survive.  Any order or government control will be potentially established and controlled in the major metropolitan areas.  Terrorists operations will be far from these population bases and hidden away in the most rugged areas of the back country.  We can either bomb these areas to oblivion or we can go in on foot and try to rout them out one by one.  One of these options is unacceptable to our leadership and the other is a slow-meat grinding process that steadily adds to a body count of our own as the only real measure of progress. On that basis, it differs little from Vietnam.


The reality of the war on terror is that it is almost a “virtual war” in that it does not play itself out with any specific ties to real estate.  It is fluid and mobile and any attempts to counter it must be fluid and mobile as well.  It bears little resemblance to traditional warfare until the terrorist are physically trapped and must fight to survive. Success in trapping them relies greatly on obtaining accurate and timely intelligence that will allow a response before the targets relocate. The size of the enemy forces and their capability are not easily assessed.  In terms of physical appearance, the terrorist blend well with the people among whom they hide. Here again, these factors are quite similar to those of Vietnam in many ways.


From the perspective of our own safety and survival, we cannot afford to abandon the war on terror.  We cannot show these people any inkling that we will waiver in our efforts or tire in our pursuit of them.  If we should elect that mindset, we are sitting ducks just waiting the chaos to ensue on our home grounds.  Our country will quickly become an environment of fear and potential death. All aspects of our society will become unstable and the failure of our society will be basically guaranteed.  On that basis, Afghanistan is a bitter pill we must swallow on our way to dominating this evil that lives among us. Afghanistan may well be the enigma in the war on terror.



© Copyright WBrown2010. All Rights Reserved.

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Comments 16 comments

breakfastpop profile image

breakfastpop 6 years ago

I hate to say it aloud, but I don't see a victory in Afghanistan. We have been there way too long with no tangible results. If our goal is to stop Al-Queda from gaining a stronghold there, perhaps there is a better way.

Wayne Brown profile image

Wayne Brown 6 years ago from Texas Author

@Bpop....Poppy, to quote Bugs Bunny....Eh, you mean nuke, Doc? WB

Tom Whitworth profile image

Tom Whitworth 6 years ago from Moundsville, WV


Thank you for your insightful hub.

I think we need to tell the entire world if anyone harbors terrorists that attack us we'll nuke them to oblivion no more sacrifice of our best and brightest for people who don't deserves it!!!!!!!!!!!!

magnoliazz profile image

magnoliazz 6 years ago from Wisconsin

Once again Wayne, you have written an interesting and insightful hub.

Even Alexander the Great knew better than to get involved in this area. You just cannot win!

I say all that money we are using on the military would be better spent building houses for those people over there, since most live in mud huts. If we gave them a warm comfortable home, maybe we could win them over that way.

Bin Laden should be ashamed of himself too, he has a lot of money, but he does not spend it on the poor. I guess all his money goes to the terrorists.

These people have a totally different mindset than we do. I think they enjoy fighting, that is all they know, and they are brainwashed from birth. If there was peace I think they would start getting bored with life.

Its a very sad situation, the only real way of changing things for good is to get to those children and shower them with kindness. Get to them before their culture does, IF indeed that is possible.

Wayne Brown profile image

Wayne Brown 6 years ago from Texas Author

@magnoliazz...I have always said that fanaticism in any form scares me to death, evil or not. These people are fanatic religious zealots. Rationale thought is not within their ability and that makes them very, very dangerous. They are animals, animals willing to kill any and everything they hate. We have no choice but to fight. It is all they understand...death. WB

davidisaiah profile image

davidisaiah 6 years ago from Klamath Falls, Oregon

While we try to reinvent what is and what is not conventional war strategy against an insurgent enemy, while we try to build a nation in the image of our own, and while we try and import cultural belief systems in keeping with our own, we seem to ignore the lessons of history.

We do not seem to fully comprehend the difference between the collective nature of tribal societies and the motives of revenge and honor. We seem to want the people to think as Americans think about values and what matters most in life.

We have so much to learn and yet our tea cups are so full we cannot sit and drink the first cup of tea let alone the third.

Wayne Brown profile image

Wayne Brown 6 years ago from Texas Author

@Tom Whitworth...Yes, Tom, the old adage of walk softly and carry a big stick is still very relevant. Had we shown that face over the past years, we might not have to endure this struggle to suppress this fanatical attack on our world. WB

Wayne Brown profile image

Wayne Brown 6 years ago from Texas Author

@davidisaiah...Yes, David you make some strong points. It is futile to think that we can change the rest of the world to be like us. Being like us in this day and time may not be that fashionable. We speak of honorable things but there always seems to be something of material value just behind the curtain that is causing us to expend our blood to gain. The terrorists of the world cannot be allowed a sanctuary to develop and spawn. From that perspective, the efforts in Afghanistan makes sense. For any other reasons short of genocide, I question the bloodshed. Thanks for your visit and your comments. WB

maven101 profile image

maven101 6 years ago from Northern Arizona

Wayne...You have written a most lucid commentary on the war in Afghanistan...( The bowling ball analogy notwithstanding :>...)

Looking back, I remember the most startling line in Obama’s speech at West Point in December was his invocation of an eighteen-month timeline for the maximum deployment of American troops. After that, he said, they would begin to come home. The president announced an escalation and a de-escalation in the same speech. You have the resources now, he seemed to say, but your time is short.

In the days that followed, his aides qualified the president’s pledge--it’s “not a cliff, it’s a ramp.” And so it probably would be. But the fact remains that with those crucial sentences, Obama bared his intentions, and even his soul. He does not want to be in Afghanistan. His heart is not in it. To be sure, he is proceeding with the escalation, and his heart may yet change, but it is difficult to imagine that the Taliban--and the Pakistanis--have not concluded that the Americans will soon be gone. And the poor Afghan is caught between a threatening Taliban and a corrupt government unable to provide security for those living outside the big cities...

I'm sensing a Vietnam-like insouciance and lack of total commitment to pursue this war with determination...Obama has said that " Victory is not necessarily the goal in Afghanistan " in one of his stump speeches in 2008. If not victory, then why are we there..? Asymmetric warfare is only won when there is total and unrelenting commitment by both the engaged military and the US Government...Larry

Wayne Brown profile image

Wayne Brown 6 years ago from Texas Author

@maven101...Larry, I always appreciate your comments and insight on these subjects. You should be writing these pieces and I should be reading them! I could not leave out the analogy of the bowling balls. Although it was a bit ridiculus, it does help to point out that sometimes there are other alternatives that can be effective. Afghanistan has been referred to as a "war of necessity" by some of the Washington types in he administration. I had to laugh out loud when I heard that reference. I can not imagine war when it is not a "necessity". What fool would have it any other way? At the same, I agree with the concept that we have little choice if we hope to be effective against terrorist without fighting them on our own soil. The one thing we can deny them is sanctuary or at least try. Personally, I would perfer to nuke that pile of rocks and be done with it. Maybe we will get lucky and this bounty hunter will find Osama and bring him in for the reward. But in the famous words of Obama, "no war is one man". WB

magnoliazz profile image

magnoliazz 6 years ago from Wisconsin

Yes, Wayne you are right about the fanatic part. God save us all from religion, maybe the founding fathers knew exactly what they were doing when they seperated church and state? To me, religion is the most dangerous element on this planet, and I think it is the invention of Satan himself. I know that may sound odd to some people, but not if you think about it.

This summer I am reading a book, "The Journeyer by Gary Jennings", a work of fiction, but it talks a lot about the customs in the Middle East and the world of Muslims. As far as I know the book is based on fact, and it is unblievable, the way these people think.

First and foremost they think women are EVIL, so evil in fact that they only have sex with a woman to beget a male heir, and you can guess the rest.

I heard about certain sexual practises of that part of the world from a friend who lived over there, but I thought they were exaggerating. Now I wonder if they may not have been telling the truth.

These people want to be so godly, but they are anything but that. Here we go with religion again, but I am glad that the USA is a Christain nation. We have no idea how grateful we should be that we are a Christain nation, especially the women. Heck, I welcome the pagans and Wiccans any day over the Muslim faith!

And, I am sure you know this, but the Muslims plan to take over the USA. Once they get into power, if you refuse to convert to Islam, you will have your head removed from the rest of you. Animals? Hardly! Animals are a lot more decent than these deviants.

In America, you are FREE to worship as you please, however that is not something the Muslims believe. If you do not believe as they do, you are going to die.

Although the illegal aliens are a pest, I would prefer them over the Muslims any day!

I think I need to write a hub about this. Most Americans are so naive when it comes to the ways of the world, we need to wake up!

Wayne Brown profile image

Wayne Brown 6 years ago from Texas Author

magnoliazz...fanaticism drives people to do absolutely ungodly things. I think it is the one thing that could be the drivng motivation behind exploding a nuclear weapon inside this country. They would relish watching the tyrants of America take their last breath so that they could return the world to the dark ages and beyond. WB

ladyjane1 profile image

ladyjane1 6 years ago from Texas

Hey Wayne very nice commentary here about afghanistan, I don't think that it will ever be over no matter how much this country prays. Doesn't seem to be working anyway. Nice job. Cheers.

Wayne Brown profile image

Wayne Brown 6 years ago from Texas Author

Thank you LJ...we must fight terror and rob it of its sanctuary. If it means bombing the mountains of Afghanistan into powder sugar, so be it. Routing these people out of the ground will shed way too much blood before we realize the failure of it. The locals need to be warned to pack up and get out, then we need to bomb out the infestation and have our army waiting at the foot of the mountains to clean them up. War has little room for conscience. We have to be reasonable but the loss of innocent lives in times of war is a fact. WB

crusador profile image

crusador 6 years ago

I appreciate you for this honest write up. Everybody should think twice before investing public money on such ventures.

Wayne Brown profile image

Wayne Brown 6 years ago from Texas Author

@crusador...thank you for stopping by and thank you for your comments. I am by no means saying that we do not need to continue our efforts to deprive the terrorist sect of a sanctuary. But, in the process, we have to do what works not just keep bashing our heads on the same rock. Terrorims is a global threat and should be a global issue. If it were not for the "flaws" of mankind, it would be handled in that way. WB

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