Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Planning for the Last War

They say that military strategy is a slow learner. They say that the battlefield is the only classroom where any educating happens and any real learning passes into the lessons of history. The other truism is that the more palatable the war effort, the sooner the next conflict will follow.

This is the lowest hanging rationale for accepting the inevitability of Surge the Sequel (as opposed to Gulf War II) which we only officially won after a fake news host declared it so on an overseas telecast last summer.

This winter season GI Joe will once again be sporting the road jerseys against the hometown Taliban, suiting up in their olive drab fatigues and black turbans. Perhaps it's the war on terror under the guise of the rule of law. Maybe it's Obama eating a campaign pledge to the tune of a Dick Morris re-election strategy. Whatever the rationale it is an enemy of the rational. I am immune to its allure. I can't pretend to understand all the thoughtful partisan elites who throw up their hands and say: "there's no good option!"

Even the term "option" suggests that this is a question best massaged by delicate hands and answered by a middle ground between retreat and aggression -- the greatly nuanced least-objectionable path where no leader is completely wrong, close-minded, or surprised by what happens next.

I don't believe propping wobbly, pro-Western extortionists in what our military planners call our AfPak foreign policy is what our military families are counting on when we claim our future dead. Their bodies and their passions are buying us indecisive time. What we can't conclude is that a lost battle is not ours to lose.

I do believe that American civilians like myself find it far too comfortable to hide behind the friendly lines of our brave soldiers and special effects weaponry. That's the national security that an occupation of Afghanistan provides. That comfort is not a recipe for victory but the last defense against the slippage of our powers of reason for unleashing such force.

And what's the point? Is it about proving those thirteen deaths at Fort Hood were not in vain? Is it really about remaking a basket case country whose only relevance to our stomach for war was the temporary harboring of the 9-11 crew? Or is it making certain that we can carry the fight of our choosing to whoever stands to gain by hosting the war preparations they legitimize? The answer is more fickle and sinister than the no-good option folks have factored in.

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