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Reader ripostes: Limits in Afghanistan

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This post is part of the Afghanistan debate thread. To read other posts in this debate, click here.

COMMENTS

27 July 2009 10:25


This post is part of the Afghanistan debate thread. To read other posts in this debate, click here.

Two readers have written in to comment on Sam's post on knowing our limits in Afghanistan. The first is from Major Gen (Retd) Jim Molan who is the author of Running the War in Iraq. Sam is away for a few days and will, no doubt, respond on return.

Sam’s post on Afghanistan (widely quoting Rory Stewart’s almost very good article) annoyed me so much, I have now tried three times to draft an answer. It reminded me that there is a vast difference between the real world and our comfortable world of commentary and blogging.

I recently quoted Karl Weick, Professor of Organisational Behaviour and Psychology at Michigan University, who said: 'Your beliefs are cause maps that you impose on the world, after which you “see” what you have already imposed. People expect their social world to be put together the way their justifications say it is put together, they act as if it is put together that way, and they selectively perceive what they see as if it were put together the way the justifications say it is.' Sam and Rory reminded me that it not only the military that does this.

In making his point against Allan Behm’s post, Sam makes a very large number of assertions that he, or those he quotes, should in some way justify. But as I tried to answer the post, I ended up with either a list of questions that just sounded smug, or I started to repeat arguments that I have made time and again in the media or in presentations about both the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, and that have so far raised a storm of apathy in the Australian consciousness.

Retired British Brigadier Allan Mallinson has written a very good article in the Telegraph that was carried in the SMH. I wish that I could, but I could not put it better. And every bit applies to the Australian commitment to Uruzgan Province, except that our commitment has not yet been brought under the glare created by heavy casualties. If it is, the same questions will be asked of our government and our departmental and military leaders as are now being asked in the UK.

The second response is from Paul Winter

The article on Afghanistan is not an analysis but a defeatist rationalisation for appeasement. The problem in Afghanistan (and in Iraq) is the lack of will by NATO and the USA's belief that war can be fought on the cheap or with good deeds.

The wars against Islamofascists can and must be won, for our sakes and for the sake of the Muslim masses intimidated by savages who use religion to impose their medieval concepts of society to benefit from the corruption enjoyed by the present power holders.

Instead of withdrawing troops, more should be put into the field. Each province should be pacified one by one instead of the whole country. Villages should be given protection and radical religious elements suppressed or killed. When people see that they are safe and their oppressors are dead, they will stand up for themselves. If they are jihadis, then they must be put down. Very simply, as someone said: if you have them by their balls, their hearts and minds will follow.

The civilised world cannot afford to allow murderous, sexist savages determined to wage violent jihad against the 21st century to plot against us in peace and radicalise a whole generation to hate and fight us. And we need to realise that we are not in Vietnam; attacking the source of arms and funds of the barbarians will lead not to a world war, but to the liberating of several nations suffering under the most backward forms of Islam.

Photo by Flickr user Army.mil, used under a Creative Commons license.

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