Friday, December 31, 2004

Stabbed in the Back in Afghanistan 

Being mildly occupied with trying to get a new website up for my business, which involves cooking several dozen complicated historic recipes, which besides being cooked have to be photographed, Photoshopped, and FrontPaged, with circles and arrows on the back of each one explaining what it is all about, with a deadline of Monday, has put me a bit behind in blog posting.

If that sentence sounds complicated, convoluted, whiny, irrelevant and kinda stupid, it ain't a patch on this apparently overlooked Op-Ed which ran last Sunday, and has been up on their website for most of the week, at the usually-better-than-this LATimes:

Twenty-five years ago, on Christmas Eve, Soviet troops marched into Afghanistan with the aim of restoring order in a few months. Nine years later they withdrew amid continued violence. In their wake, civil war erupted and the Taliban rose to power, providing a haven to Al Qaeda.

Critics of the U.S. military effort in Iraq often cite the Soviet experience in Afghanistan as evidence that using foreign troops to put down an insurgency is bound to fail. But that "lesson" is misleading because it depends on a depiction of the Soviet-Afghan war that is downright inaccurate.

When Soviet forces invaded Afghanistan, they initially failed to protect their logistical and communications lines. But Soviet commanders quickly corrected these mistakes and brought in better troops, including helicopter pilots trained for mountain warfare. From mid-1980 on, the Afghan guerrillas never seized any major Soviet facilities or prevented major troop deployments and movements.

When Soviet generals shifted, in mid-1983, to a counterinsurgency strategy of scorched-earth tactics and the use of heavily armed special operations forces, their progress against the guerrillas accelerated. Over the next few years, the Soviets increased their control of Afghanistan, inflicting many casualties — guerrilla and civilian. Had it not been for the immense support — weapons, training, materials — provided to the Afghan guerrillas by the United States, Saudi Arabia, China and Pakistan, Soviet troops would have achieved outright victory.

Even with all the outside military assistance, Afghan guerrillas were often helpless when facing the Soviet military machine. Raids conducted by Soviet airborne and helicopter forces were especially effective....In a long study of Soviet military progress as of mid-1987, a leading Westren military expert concluded that Soviet forces were proving "devastatingly effective against the Afghan resistance," were "presently winning in Afghanistan" and were "very close to crushing the resistance."

The announcement in 1988 by then-Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev that forces would be withdrawn from Afghanistan within a year was a political and diplomatic decision, not a military one.
Anybody find this as odd as I do? What this guy is saying is that if what really happened just hadn't really happened, They Coulda Been A Contenda! They Coulda Been Somebody! And who betrayed this noble military (keep in mind this is the goddam Soviet Army we're suddenly rehabilitating here) effort?

You got it. Stabbed in the back they were, by the craven politicians. And diplomats. Liberals, you know!

And of course he ties this all in with Iraq. If the feeble Soviets coulda defeated guerillas in Afghanistan, who were getting all this wink-eye Western support 'n' arms 'n' stuff, well then of course OUR military, which is so much manlier and righteous and higher-tech and all, must be right on the verge of winnin' against the bad guys in Iraqistan--and if they don't, it can only be because they are stabbed in the back.

I haven't seen this piece commented on elsewhere, I suspect because this argument is so stupefying that everybody is acting like they do when Uncle Ernie gets drunk after dinner and pukes on the cat. The automatic response is for everyone to pretend they didn't see, move with as much haste as dignity allows to the other room, and let Aunt Eunice deal with him.

The author of this piece is one Mark Kramer, credited as "director of the Harvard Cold War studies program and a senior fellow at the university's Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian studies." I never heard of the guy and know nothing of his ideology. If his "credentials" were AEI or Cato we would know this was the start of a Mighty Wirlitzer chorus. If this is one of those, and it's starting from a guy at Harvard, that's scary.

This reminds me of nothing more than the start of the Lost Cause movement after the Civil War, which ties in with farmer's Klan story back here, but that's too long a story to tell at this time of night except to say that it's the same logic that motivates the Swift Boat Liars hatred for John Kerry (the real hatred I mean, not the bought-and-paid-for outrage part) so we best leave it for another time.

corrente SBL - New Location
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