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The War of Conflicting Objectives: Afghanistan

Updated on October 13, 2012

To a lesser extent, it happened in Vietnam, you know, that other war America lost from 1965-75. The situation is similar in Afghanistan, which is war of conflicting objectives that sometimes make no sense. I can only imagine what the soldiers there privately think.

The problem is no better displayed than in Camp Bastion area near Boldak (you know, the Taliban recently attacked the base and destroyed millions in aircraft in a daring night attack). This area is loaded with farmers and taliban mingled together to farm and harvest the poppy crop from which opium is made and is Afghanistan's main export to the West's drug cartels.

When the US troops chase the Taliban through the fields of poppy, they are careful not to destroy the poppy crops, in fact, the local farmers thank the Americans for doing this because when the Afghan police arrive, they try to eradicate the poppy fields. Huh? Well, when President Obama ordered the surge in the summer, the US troops did destroy many of the poppy fields along the rivers, but all this did was cause poppy cultivation in the desert and thousands of farmers tend to them using tractors and wells for irrigation.

US Marines take pains not to damage the poppy crops that funnel money to their enemy, the Taliban. The Marine commander is on record saying that, "Americans are not here to tell people they cannot grow poppies". Huh? The commander further explained that they want to win the hearts and minds and cooperation of the locals and to do this, they are not allowed to destroy the poppy crops, Afghan police are, yet, they seldom venture out in the middle of nowhere where the American bases are.

The trouble with this BS is that the farmers play both sides when it benefits them and unless caught redhanded, US troops can do nothing. This happened in Vietnam also.


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      6 years ago

      I agree, soldiers don't make good ambassadors. I also think you're right that a lot of them will hate us no matter how our soldiers behave. I think the main problem with the conflict in Afghanistan is the lack of a clearly defined attainable objective. That is the first thing that must be defined in war planning.

      Americans do not like long wars and it is wrong to subject our military to them unnecessarily. The Gulf War, although there were problems, really illustrates much of how a war should be fought. There were clear objectives: prevent Iraqi troops from invading Saudi Arabia, get Iraqi troops out of Kuwait, and limit the ability of Saddam Hussein to threaten his neighbors. This was accomplished quickly with the use of overwhelming force. There were over a half million troops deployed during Desert Storm. That's how America should fight wars. Hit them hard, accomplish the objectives, and get the Hell out.

    • perrya profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      Very good points points, Jim, I agree. However, it is this kind of war- winning the hearts and minds of a local population is always a minefield and despite the studies, seldom works well. SO, marine do not destroy the poppy fields in hopes to get local support, yet , locals farm the fields for the Taliban who then sell it for weapons to kill Americans. If destroy the fields, they hate us, well, they hate us any way for the most part-we are foreigners. So, the locals play both sides and you can never win when that happens unless you destroy the farmers and fields and local Taliban. You can win for a short time, but never in the long term while you are there and never after you are gone.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I don't think the Marines destroying poppy fields would be beneficial. All it would do is make more Afghans hostile to U.S. forces.

      The question here should be what our national objective is. What are we trying to accomplish? Accomplishing national objectives is what decides whether you wou win or lose a military conflict, not casualties or territory.

      I don't think a happy, stable Afghanistan is possible. Nation-building doesn't seem to be working there. Anything we build for them that isn't blown up prior to us leaving, will be blown up shortly afterwards.

      The conflict in Afghanistan really should have lasted six months. The objective should have been to devastate Al Queda in Afghanistan and bome the hell out any Taliban resistance while over there. The U.S. could have killed Bin Laden and other senior Al Queda leadership at Tora Bora, but instead placed to much trust in the Afghans who let him slip by.


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