Questions we should have asked before invading…

Questions we should have asked before invading Afghanistan




“If we’d thought a little bit of the tip of it,” Cole Porter laments in his lyrics to “Simply One among These Issues.”

It’s a warning properly utilized in each love and battle, as Rita Rudner illustrates in her standup: “At any time when I date a man, I believe, ‘Is that this the person I would like my kids to spend their weekends with?’”

Now suppose Afghanistan.

How will we all know if we’re ever “profitable”? What are our metrics?

Earlier than, quite than after, going to battle one of the best and brightest of our navy has “thought a little bit of the tip of it.” They have an inventory of questions, set forth under. Amongst them are, “What shall be our exit technique?” and “After we depart will the individuals and their nation be higher off or worse off?”

Among the many different questions are: What’s the issue, or problem? What’s our objective? Is it sufficiently vital, clearly outlined, and understood? Why will navy drive contribute to, quite than impede, its accomplishment? What simpler non-military alternate options are there?

What are the advantages and prices, positive aspects and losses, dangers and rewards? What’s going to it require in troops, materiel, lives, and treasure? How lengthy will it take? Are the American individuals and their Congress supportive? For a way lengthy?

May we be perceived as simply the newest invaders? Can we defend harmless civilians? Is the world ruled as a rustic, or as areas dominated by battle lords? Are we selecting sides in a civil battle? Are we sufficiently knowledgeable concerning the territory and folks the place we’ll be combating?

Do we all know their language, tradition, historical past, tribal, political, and social construction? Will we be the ones recognized by uniforms, unable to tell apart buddy from foe?

How will we all know if we’re ever “profitable”? What are our metrics?

As U.S. maritime administrator I had some accountability for sealift to Vietnam and our MARAD representatives there. Earlier than a visit to Saigon I used to be requested to report my evaluation after I returned.

What was my conclusion, after matching the questions above to my observations in Vietnam? “You may play basketball in a soccer area.”

Or, as the pc within the 1983 film “Struggle Video games” concludes, after evaluating its countdown to “International Thermonuclear Struggle” with an unwinnable sport of tic-tac-toe, there are occasions when “The one successful transfer is to not play.”

However, we now do not have the luxury of deciding whether or not to play the sport. That was determined by others 20 years in the past. Because the pottery show signal warns, “break it, you personal it.” We personal Afghanistan.

Paul Simon sang, “There have to be 50 methods to go away your lover.” There weren’t any good methods to go away from Afghanistan, simply the least-worst means. And we didn’t choose that one.

Now America agonizes, just like the hospitalized anti-vaxxer whose refusal to be vaccinated has him contaminated with COVID, respiration via a ventilator. He’s modified his thoughts. He begs to be vaccinated, solely to be advised, “We’re sorry, but it surely’s too late now.”

If solely “we’d thought a little bit of the tip of it” in 2001 – and 2021.




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