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Opinion page editor Rick Holmes and other writers blog about national politics and issues. Holmes & Co. is a Blog for Independent Minds, a place for a free-flowing discussion of policy, news and opinion. This blog is the online cousin of the Opinion ...
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Opinion page editor Rick Holmes and other writers blog about national politics and issues. Holmes & Co. is a Blog for Independent Minds, a place for a free-flowing discussion of policy, news and opinion. This blog is the online cousin of the Opinion section of the MetroWest Daily News in Framingham, Mass. As such, our focus starts there and spreads to include Massachusetts, the nation and the world. Since successful blogs create communities of readers and writers, we hope the \x34& Co.\x34 will also come to include you.
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By Rob Meltzer
Jan. 19, 2014 5:05 p.m.



A number of Kennedy aides, including RFK, reported that the primary lesson that JFK learned from the Bay of Pigs fiasco was that not every war is necessarily military in nature, and that the military rarely works as a method of effectuating friendly political consequences. Wars can overturn enemies, but they can rarely build successor states. Limited wars can effectuate political change, but it is necessary to operate surgically. It’s a point that forms the basis of Emile Simpson’s book War from the Ground Up; Twentieth Century Combat as Politics. Its a great book and it basically focuses on Afghanistan.

Simpson isn’t the only one to be asking about how the Afghan War evolved from a retaliatory strike on AQ to an eleven year fiasco, although to some of us it was obvious in 2001 that this was inevitable. As I said, in my early opposition to the Afghan War, our fight wasn’t with the Taliban–it was with AQ units stationed in Taliban territory, and our object was to root them out. Undermining the Taliban never struck me as a good idea, as the Taliban had achieved a certain degree of rare control over Afghanistan, and it made sense at the time to find a way to encourage the Taliban to chase out AQ rather than to create a failed state where AQ could flourish. Following the death of Ariel Sharon a few weeks ago, may referred to the Lebanon War as a fiasco, while utterly ignoring that Israel achieved its primary and essential war aim–driving the PLO out of Lebanon.

We know that the United States intelligence community fully understands the realities of Afghanistan. During the Afghan/Soviet War, our intelligence community exploited tribal and clan differences in Afghanistan, not to mention mere political differences, to undermine and bog down the Russians. No one could ever say that the United States walked into Afghanistan blind, even if the war was an act of folly.

But here’s what I can’t figure out–all sources continue to report that the Obama Regime still has failed to internalize basic lessons about Afghanistan, even after five years. Obama continuously argues with his advisers and ignores them, to the continuing peril of our troops and allies. Obama still believes that the goal is to beat the Taliban, or that the war is still about winning or losing. The war should have been about politics, not war, this hasn’t changed, but Obama has a closed-mind approach to all this that is starting to resemble insanity.

On another thread, Rick points out Obama’s reaction to his NSA review panel, in which Obama is acting as if cosmetic changes to policy are the kinds of bread and circuses that will make the peasants happy. In all aspects of policy, foreign and domestic, he seems both completely out of touch with both reality and the advisers who endeavor to explain reality to him. In short, not does he not learn, but he refuses to learn. Rick asks who in Congress will take the lead on privacy issues? I’m wondering when Congress and the Senate will act as the appropriate check on foreign policy initiatives that are not only erratic, but downright harmful to American interests.

 

 

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