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The Folly Of Peace Without Victory In Afghanistan

Secretary of Defense James Mattis yesterday told reporters travelling with him on an unannounced visit to Afghanistan that there was interest in a peace arrangement "that we've picked up from the Taliban side."

According to CNN, Gen. Mattis' visit is the first by a senior administration official since the Afghan government announced on February 28 it would be willing to recognize the Taliban as a legitimate political party as part of a Mattis Afghanistanpotential ceasefire agreement with the Islamist militant group.

It is clear to anyone with a modicum of knowledge about Islam and its doctrine of Sharia supremacy that the Taliban in Afghanistan and ISIS in Syria and Iraq, and its offshoots elsewhere around the world, do not desire any kind of “peace” except the peace of the Ummah – the peace of the worldwide reign of Islam.

That is what they are fighting for, not the governance of some piece of Godforsaken territory in Afghanistan or the Near East, and certainly not to join a coalition government with Kafir (non-believers) and those they consider to be apostates.

So, why is it so hard for our leaders, especially our military leaders, to understand the war aims of our Muslim adversaries?

Part of the reason may be that the Obama administration effectively purged from our military doctrine all teaching about the military goals of Islam, its doctrine of worldwide conquest and its teachings about how to accomplish that conquest.

Part of the reason may be that Americans are unfortunately prone to project their own ideas about the primacy of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as societal goals on to other peoples and cultures.

But part of it may also be that the generals just want to get us out of Afghanistan – to declare peace and go home.

Back in February 2017, Gen. John Nicholson, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, appeared before the Senate Armed Services Committee to ask for a “few thousand” more U.S. troops. A few weeks later, Gen. Joseph Votel, head of U.S. Central Command, echoed Nicholson’s request, telling senators that a new “strategy” for Afghanistan had to “involve additional forces.”

During his Senate testimony, Nicholson was asked by Senator John McCain, who strongly advocates more US troops in Afghanistan, whether the U.S. was winning or losing in Afghanistan. “I believe we are in a stalemate,” replied the general.

“We are not winning in Afghanistan,” Defense Secretary James Mattis later testified.

Fast forward to July 2017, when President Donald Trump’s senior Cabinet officials and top national security advisers met for a contentious meeting to finally agree on what H.R. McMaster claimed was a new strategy for the war in Afghanistan.

After months of wrangling, McMaster’s brilliant “new strategy” was to ask Trump for a modest troop increase, a four-year deadline and a more intense commitment to the seemingly endless struggle in Afghanistan, reported Susan B. Glasser, POLITICO’s chief international affairs columnist.

In a striking vote of no-confidence in McMaster, who had been trying and failing for months to sell the President on a new plan for Afghanistan, Trump refused to sign off on the plan the NSC Principals Committee approved, instead sending it back to his national security team demanding more work.

In what POLITICO’s Glasser says were pretty much Trump’s first public comments on Afghanistan during his six months in office, he told reporters before a White House lunch, “I want to find out why we’ve been there for 17 years.” Later, headed into a Pentagon meeting, he was similarly cagey. Asked about more troops for Afghanistan, he replied only, “We’ll see.”

But it gets worse; what would be the objective of this “modest troop increase” General McMaster advocated?

According to the New York Times, Washington Post and other establishment media outlets, the purpose of the surge or re-escalation represented by sending several thousand additional American troops to Afghanistan would be to try to break the military deadlock in the 17-year war there, thus pressuring the Taliban to negotiate with the Afghan government.

The notion that we can broker a peace and some sort of coalition with the Taliban is a folly born of desperation to save political face, not win the war Islam has declared on the West.

This advice also demonstrates that our top echelon at the Pentagon, CIA headquarters and the State Department have learned nothing from almost 18 years of war in Afghanistan.

Despite the trillions of dollars and thousands of lives poured into geography no one but the Afghans want, nothing the generals and best and brightest of the intelligence community have proposed has worked.

From the failed efforts to implement a new Counterinsurgency (COIN) doctrine in Afghanistan, to the false deadlines Obama established for withdrawal, nothing American leaders have done has achieved the goal of a stable regime in Afghanistan that is inhospitable to terrorist organizations with transnational aspirations and capabilities.

And the reason for this failure has nothing to do with the bravery and selflessness of the American military personnel deployed to accomplish the goal – it has everything to do with the unwillingness of American political level leaders to recognize what enemy we are fighting and to deploy the correct resources to defeat it.

The war in Afghanistan isn’t a regional or tribal conflict, it isn’t a war on “terrorism,” it isn’t a war on narco-warlords (even though 90% of the worlds illicit opium originates there); it is a war between the values of Islam and the values of the Western Enlightenment, and if you refuse to understand it and fight it on those terms the war in Afghanistan will never be over and certainly never be won.

What Secretary Mattis, General McMaster and his team of yes men at the NSC don’t seem to grasp is that the enemy in Afghanistan isn’t the Taliban insurgency; it is their underlying ideology of Islam and the allegiance of the majority of the Afghan people to a misogynistic 7th Century Sharia-based Muslim culture.

If you understand that the teachings of Islam are fundamental motivators of the people who we are fighting in Afghanistan, then that informs your entire strategy.

That means instead of sending a few thousand troops to Afghanistan we need to deploy all the means of our national power against the real enemy – the doctrines of Islam that motivate the Taliban.

It means we deploy psyops to attack the enemy’s belief system. It means we offer an alternative belief system to replace the one that is motivating the enemy. And it means we attack the centers and advocates of that belief system.

The United States is doing none of that in Afghanistan, because, as far as we can tell, Mattis, McMaster and his NSC yes men believe “Islam is a religion of peace” and not the real enemy.

While there is no doubt that, given unlimited operational freedom and resources, the United States military could defeat the Taliban, that wouldn’t defeat the enemy of Sharia supremacy.

Until we fight the whole war in Afghanistan – not just the one on the kinetic battlefield – we will not win the war, we will be sacrificing lives so that American political leaders can declare peace and go home.

George Rasley is editor of Richard Viguerie's A veteran of over 300 political campaigns, he served on the staff of Vice President Dan Quayle, as Director of Policy and Communication for Congressman Adam Putnam (FL-12) then Vice Chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee's Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs, and as spokesman for Rep. Mac Thornberry now-Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.

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