Monday, August 13, 2007

Long Years of Floundering and Ultimate Failure

Though they are words that could sum up just about every aspect of the George W. Bush (Mis)Administration®, in this case they illustrate the failure that is Afghanistan.

“Initial success, followed by long years of floundering and ultimate
I cannot take credit for those words, for they are words spoken by Il Douche'™ himself, ironically noting how his (mis)administration's efforts to rebuild Afghanistan would not emulate the failures of others.
“We’re not going to repeat that mistake,” he said. “We’re tough, we’re
determined, we’re relentless. We will stay until the mission is done.”
Or, at least until those resources would be diverted for the unnecessary war in Iraq.
In October 2002, Robert Grenier, a former director of the C.I.A.’s counterintelligence center, visited the new Kuwait City headquarters of Lt. Gen David McKiernan, who was already planning the Iraq invasion. Meeting in a sheet metal warehouse, Mr. Grenier asked General McKiernan what his intelligence needs would be in Iraq.

The answer was simple. “They wanted as much as they could get,” Mr. Grenier said.

Throughout late 2002 and early 2003, Mr. Grenier said in an interview, “the best experienced, most qualified people who we had been using in Afghanistan shifted over to Iraq,” including the agency’s most skilled counterterrorism specialists and Middle East and paramilitary operatives. That reduced the United States’ influence over powerful Afghan warlords who were refusing to turn over to the central government tens of millions of dollars they had collected as customs payments at border crossings.

While the C.I.A. replaced officers shifted to Iraq, Mr. Grenier said, it did so with younger agents, who lacked the knowledge and influence of the veterans. “I think we could have done a lot more on the Afghan side if we had more experienced folks,” he said.

A former senior official of the Pentagon’s Central Command, which was running both wars, said that as the Iraq planning sped up, the military’s covert Special Mission Units, like Delta Force and Navy Seals Team Six, shifted to Iraq from Afghanistan.

So did aerial surveillance “platforms” like the Predator, a remotely piloted drone armed with Hellfire missiles that had been effective at identifying targets in the sparsely populated mountains of Afghanistan. Predators were not shifted directly from Afghanistan to Iraq, according to the former official, but as new Predators were produced, they went to Iraq.

“We were economizing in Afghanistan,” said the former official, who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to comment publicly. “The marginal return for one more platform in Afghanistan is so much greater than for one more in Iraq.”

The (mis)administration's failure in Iraq is essentially the failure in Afghanistan, writ large, but in not having learned easy lessons it might have gained from engaging in the Afghani folly, it was doomed to repeat them in Iraq.

As of the fall of Kabul in 1992, Afghanistan was left without a central government, but left to the devices of various tribal factions, much as has happened in Iraq, after the dismantling of the Ba'thist government and the standing Iraqi army and the destruction of the nation's infrastructure. Once again, an excellent plan for invasion, yet none for occupation.
An “initial success, followed by long years of floundering and ultimate failure.”