The utterly wrongheaded policy that has American troops in Afghanistan devoting the bulk of their time to hearts-and-minds initiatives and to behaving like social workers is...killing American troops. When America pretends to have no enemies, its enemies do not fall into line and behave accordingly. And yet Americans are not allowed to fight back.
Yet another Which-Side-Is-Obama-On Alert: "US casualties in Afghanistan provoke rage and frustration," by Jason Gutierrez in the Telegraph, February 1 (thanks to herr Oyal):
A hunger for revenge is palpable among US Marines as casualties grow on the frontline of the battle against the Taliban in southern Afghanistan. 'My men want revenge - that is only natural,' says First Lieutenant Aaron MacLean. On a base near Marjah, a Taliban stronghold in Helmand province, Marines are grieving the deaths of a sergeant and corporal killed by the remote-controlled bombs that have become the scourge of the long-running conflict.
Commanders try to keep the men's rage in check, aware that winning over an Afghan public wary of the foreign military presence and furious about civilian casualties is as important as battlefield success.
And yet the only reason that they think it is even possible to win over a wary Afghan public is because they are ignorant of the nature and power of the doctrines of Islam regarding unbelievers.
"It causes a lot of frustration. My men want revenge - that is only natural," says First Lieutenant Aaron MacLean, 2nd Platoon commander of the 1st Battalion, 6th Regiment Charlie company.
"But I keep telling them that the rules are the rules for a reason. If we simply go crazy and start shooting at everything, in the long run we will lose this war because we will lose the support of the population."
First Lieutenant MacLean has learned his lessons well, but I wonder if he ever stops and asks himself why, after all these years in Afghanistan and all these hearts-and-minds initiatives, Americans still don't have the support of the population.
He too is frustrated, accusing the Taliban of manipulating the rules of engagement by using women and children as shields and shooting from hidden positions before dropping their weapons and standing out in the open.
"They know we can't shoot them if they don't carry guns or without positive identification. They are fighting us at another level now," MacLean said. [...]
Of course, Lieutenant. They are jihadis. They don't care about civilian casualties, but they know you do, and they know how to play the propaganda game, and they know that the mainstream media will aid and abet them as they play that game.
There follows a long account of a Taliban attack, and then:
"We were attacked treacherously. We came under fire from everywhere, but the rules of engagement prevent me from doing my job," said Lance Corporal Mark Duzick, who was in the unit that was ambushed.
Outside a tent housing the Marines' unit responsible for firing mortars stands an improvised cross bearing the inscription: "Here lies the 81st, death by stand down."...
While most are caused by the Taliban, the insurgents exploit civilian casualties to spread distrust among the public for foreign and Afghan troops.
As the nature of the fight has changed, with the Taliban increasingly using suicide attacks and IEDs, there had been no traditional winter hiatus and General Zahir Azimi, a defence ministry spokesman, said that spring is likely to be ferocious....
There should be a full-scale investigation of this in Washington. But there won't be, because most pols on both sides of the aisle still assume that it would be terrible to stop trying to be buddies to the Afghans and to fight a traditional war. They think we can actually win, i.e., create a stable and secure Afghanistan, by not fighting. Their naivete is probably incurable.