Morality of GWOT

Scarecrow

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The myth of the suicidal jihadist is greatly overblown. While some of the rank and file are willing to strap on a vest or something equally suicidal, most are not. Their senior leadership definitely isn't. We can knock down the footsoldiers all day long, but as long as the enemy retains the ability generate, train, equip, and provide sanctuary for them ad infinitum, the war is never going to end. Well, it won't end with anything that looks like a victory for us, at least.

Carpet bombing Afghanistan a la WWII isn't going to work as a tactic, but the underlying strategy is sound. The reason strategic bombing was useful against Germany and Japan was because it undermined the credibility of the ruling elite and diminished their country's strategic capacity. It attacked the enemy where they lived, where they worked, and where they generated the capability and intent to cause us harm.

That's what it's going to take in order to "win" in Afghanistan: getting after the strategic capabilities of our enemies (which isn't, by the way, just the Taliban) where they live. And that's not in Afghanistan, it's Pakistan.

The other thing to remember is that long-range attacks weren't successful on their own. I imagine if we would have had nukes early in the war, and maintained the will to use them, we could have nuked both Germany and Japan out of the war quickly. But we don't do that anymore. Plus, we're trying to prop up the governments of both Afghanistan and Pakistan, so nuking the crap out of people is a non-starter both tactically and strategically. Even if we were to institute some kind of large-scale bombing campaign, the moral opprobrium would probably be strategically counterproductive.

So, we need a modern solution to old-school strategic bombing. But what does that mean, and how do we do it? We can do drone strikes, SOF direct action, and strategic targeting all day long. But until and unless we get after their training sites, their leadership, their financing, and their state-level support, it will all be for naught. Our enemies have been at this game a lot longer than we have, and unlike us, they're committed to winning.

One last thought before this gets TL;DR: the war in Afghanistan is financed, equipped, trained, and directed through Pakistan. The Taliban's most effective arm, the Haqqani Network, is controlled by Pakistan's intelligence service. If we want to do something meaningful in Afghanistan, we have to do something meaningful about Pakistan.

I don't know what that looks like, and I'm glad I'm not the one who has to make those kinds of decisions.

#It'sComplicated
Assuming it didn’t go nuclear, how do you see a war playing out with Pakistan? Would it be similar to the 2003 Iraq invasion and the government and military collapsing in the first month or two, or is Pakistan be considered a near-peer enemy and the casualties be something we haven’t seen since the Korean War?
 

Jaknight

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Assuming it didn’t go nuclear, how do you see a war playing out with Pakistan? Would it be similar to the 2003 Iraq invasion and the government and military collapsing in the first month or two, or is Pakistan be considered a near-peer enemy and the casualties be something we haven’t seen since the Korean War?
Sorry not sure if it’s accurate but Doesn’t Pakistan keep it’s nukes in Vans or something like that? Wouldn’t they just give their Terrorists a nuke to cause havoc?
 

Diamondback 2/2

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The myth of the suicidal jihadist is greatly overblown. While some of the rank and file are willing to strap on a vest or something equally suicidal, most are not. Their senior leadership definitely isn't. We can knock down the footsoldiers all day long, but as long as the enemy retains the ability generate, train, equip, and provide sanctuary for them ad infinitum, the war is never going to end. Well, it won't end with anything that looks like a victory for us, at least.

Carpet bombing Afghanistan a la WWII isn't going to work as a tactic, but the underlying strategy is sound. The reason strategic bombing was useful against Germany and Japan was because it undermined the credibility of the ruling elite and diminished their country's strategic capacity. It attacked the enemy where they lived, where they worked, and where they generated the capability and intent to cause us harm.

That's what it's going to take in order to "win" in Afghanistan: getting after the strategic capabilities of our enemies (which isn't, by the way, just the Taliban) where they live. And that's not in Afghanistan, it's Pakistan.

The other thing to remember is that long-range attacks weren't successful on their own. I imagine if we would have had nukes early in the war, and maintained the will to use them, we could have nuked both Germany and Japan out of the war quickly. But we don't do that anymore. Plus, we're trying to prop up the governments of both Afghanistan and Pakistan, so nuking the crap out of people is a non-starter both tactically and strategically. Even if we were to institute some kind of large-scale bombing campaign, the moral opprobrium would probably be strategically counterproductive.

So, we need a modern solution to old-school strategic bombing. But what does that mean, and how do we do it? We can do drone strikes, SOF direct action, and strategic targeting all day long. But until and unless we get after their training sites, their leadership, their financing, and their state-level support, it will all be for naught. Our enemies have been at this game a lot longer than we have, and unlike us, they're committed to winning.

One last thought before this gets TL;DR: the war in Afghanistan is financed, equipped, trained, and directed through Pakistan. The Taliban's most effective arm, the Haqqani Network, is controlled by Pakistan's intelligence service. If we want to do something meaningful in Afghanistan, we have to do something meaningful about Pakistan.

I don't know what that looks like, and I'm glad I'm not the one who has to make those kinds of decisions.

#It'sComplicated
Just my personal opinion, its gonna take education and exposure to the world to change the generations to come. Killing off the leadership is great, but from my perspective it hasn't worked. The biggest issue I saw in Iraq was the people we rolled up and didn't kill, had really no idea why they were doing what they were doing. Many of them couldn't read or write, and were blindly following their clerics. We would get stories of how we had special air conditioners under our uniforms so that we can fight during the day, to we were all on drugs to make us better fighters, etc.

The ignorance of the people is pretty astonishing.

I think you we would need to kill off a lot of people, and do an extensive education program with the young to ever defeat the "ideology" and that's not gonna happen.
 
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GOTWA

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Your post.
I know it's often said that it's difficult to fight an ideology and I partly agree with that. You can't necessarily treat this war like a WW2 and bomb our problems away, but the mindset to do so must exist. A very simplistic idea requiring a complex approach, take away what it means to be a martyr.
 

Box

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If the ROE says you cannot proselytize - how can you ever expect to reset the local ideology?

The US has not been committed to "winning" an armed conflict since the mushroom cloud from Fat-Man dissipated.
Morality?

Which defining parameters of morality are we using for this discussion?
 

lindy

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I’m confident that some will view this comment as veiled white supremacy so anyone that does isn’t reading but rather incorrectly drawing a nonexistent conclusion.

Are there parallels to our involvement in Afghanistan and counter insurgency in Rhodesia? (I’m not talking about minority rule.)

After Mugabe’s death, I started reading about the history of Zimbabwe. Initially, it seems the insurgents (ZAPU & ZANU) were supported by Marxists regimes like Soviets, Chinese, and North Korean who provided arms and training at camps in neighboring countries. Rhodesian government forces, made up of BOTH colonialists and locals fought against numerical superior insurgents but held them off for...years...by winning on the battlefield (e.g. killing more insurgents than government forces killed). It seems that when government forces executed strikes on insurgent camps deep in Zambia and Mozambique, the UN cried foul and international political pressure increased for self determination. “Elections” were held in 1980 and Zimbabwe started its path towards destruction.

I submit that Russia, Iran, and Pakistan are doing the same in AF as the commies did in Rhodesia. The Taliban are able to convince and coerce the local population to support but, like Rhodesians, some Afghans do not want Taliban rule but cannot exist without external support too.

Ultimately, the local population was immune to human suffering and death in the 70s so by the 80s, an entire generation was not equipped with the moral values of their elders. Killing in the region exploded.
 

BlackSmokeRisinG

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^Pretty good analogy, and it goes without saying that Rhodesia was doing better overall back then that it is now or will be anytime soon. Though they had a racist government in place in am African country, the economy and standard of living dived after they became Zimbabwe.
 

lindy

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Though they had a racist government in place in am African country, the economy and standard of living dived after they became Zimbabwe.
I’m not yet up to speed on their government policies but I’m certain they weren’t separate like South Africa. I think minority rule was a hold over from colonial British rule but the Marxist intervention definitely pushed the idea that Mugabe was fighting for indigenous rule.

In AF, seems that the internal struggle is over West vs Pakistan, which if funded by the West.

http://pdfproc.lib.msu.edu/?file=/DMC/African Journals/pdfs/Journal of the University of Zimbabwe/vol3n1/juz003001005.pdf
 
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