With our 18 month time table now in play, President Obama has laid out the framework of our mission in Afghanistan. We send 30,000 more troops, secure the Afghani population from terrorism within their borders inflicted by the Taliban, and train the Afghani army and police forces so that they can assume responsibility for their own security. Sounds good. Sounds achievable. Right? No way in hell is this going to happen, and I would be more than happy to elaborate on why I think this administration has absolutely no chance in achieving these pie in the sky goals. We have been trying to do this since the inception of hostilities in 2001. According to my math, that is eight years and counting. Eight years. You would think by now that some serious training would have transpired, and that a stable standing Afghan army would now be in place. In addition to the standing Afghan army, we have been training (and training, and training, and training…..) an Afghan civilian police force to assume some of the civil security now under tenuous control by the U.S. Army for eight years now. Eight years. Well, we all have to consider what kind of raw materials we all have to work with as it pertains to available personnel within this endeavor. Most Americans think that the citizens of the world are all made up of the same DNA (which is true, but irrelevant) and accordingly, other than some minor differences in politics, that we all behave the same; we all have similar hopes, desires, fears, and dreams for a just and righteous society. Right? Wrong. Profoundly and demonstrably wrong. The template that most Americans and nearly all the U.S. politicians have in place is horribly wrong. We assume that the Afghan population has the same desire, the same potential and the same tenacity to take control of their national security as that of the typical American. This is where a disconnect the size of the Grand Canyon throws the monkey wrench into our strategy: the Afghani population are not by any standard in the civilized world what we would call ‘civilized.’ And that is the key here. This country, if you can even call it a country, is one of the most primitive societies on earth. Illiteracy is well above 90% of the population. More than 9 out of 10 Afghanis can neither read nor write. This society consists solely of local brutal and savage tribes with no contact to what the rest of us would call civilization at all. Karl Rove in his interview with Fox News last week said that illiteracy is an issue with regards to our goals in Afghanistan. This is the understatement of the century. Saying illiteracy is an issue with regards to our goals in Afghanistan is akin to saying that having a 5 foot 9 inch center on your NBA team is an issue in winning the NBA Championship. It is like saying that having a 167 pound average on your NFL team’s offensive line is an issue to achieving a Super Bowl win. It is similar to saying that having an IQ of 77 is an issue to securing a Rhodes scholarship. This issue of illiteracy is not only huge, it is an impediment, a virtual road block to our ultimate goal of training Afghanis to defend themselves from overthrow by the Taliban. In order to maintain an effective fighting force or civilian police, it's imperative that the soldiers and policemen have the ability to reason, to make split second decisions regarding whether to use deadly force or not, and to make these decisions on the side of justice consistently. An uneducated, uncivilized goat herder with no formal education has no business being placed in any position of power over others, such as are civilized soldiers and police personnel. The U. S. Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines require anyone entering military service in an enlisted capacity to have at least a high school education, or have completed a G.E.D (General Equivalency Diploma). Ditto for nearly all U.S. civilian police force entry requirements. Additionally, these branches of our armed forces also require an officer to have completed a college degree prior to receiving the commission. Our armed forces have by far the highest standards of any significant military force on the planet. You cannot possibly get into the U.S. armed forces if you can’t read, since all of the training you are expected to complete to master your specific job entails a significant amount of reasoning, logic and comprehension. And yet we as a nation seem to expect that we can train these savages to achieve our civilized standards of behavior in a matter of a year or two. Good luck with that. The average Afghani picking up a rifle and trying to keep in step in a platoon formation is much like the old TV show ‘Gomer Pyle, USMC.’ Gomer couldn’t do anything right, but had the typical heart of gold that Hollywood script writers always gives these fish out of water characters. And it took every bit of energy on Gomer’s marine platoon sergeant, SFC Vincent Carter, to keep Gomer in line. Imagine an entire army of Gomers. And of course who could forget deputy sheriff Barney Fife of the 60's sitcom 'The Andy Griffith Show.' Stumbling, bumbling Barney (with his standard issue heart of gold) was issued only a single bullet, and for good reason: give him an entire cylinder of ammo in his service revolver and the idiot became a bona fide menace. Now consider trying to train an entire standing army and police force of Gomer Pyles and Barney Fifes. And once you have that image in your mind, then imagine hitting all of those Gomers and Barneys in their heads with a brick 20 or 30 times, until dementia and brain damage was well established. Then you would have a better feel as to what kind of standing Afghan army and Afghan police force you will have at the ready. It will take much more than 18 months to train these ignorant and brutally savage goat and yak herders. It will require them all to attain high school diplomas. And how long will that take? Well, it took me 12 years, if you don’t count Kindergarten. But before you start with that process, you have to build schools. And before that construction starts, you have to have the will of the population to initiate this process. Good luck with that. And Obama is confident that 18 months will do it. The reality is that the Afghanis will never, ever be up to the task of their own security as a nation. The only force on earth strong enough to get rid of the Taliban in Afghanistan is the United States military. And we have yet to unleash our awful and terrible deadly forces within our awesome arsenal to do that. We, contrary to any and all common sense regarding this situation, continue with this pie in the sky hope that we can make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. Good luck with that.
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