No Exit at Kandahar

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I did not attend any parades or visit the graves of fallen soldiers this Memorial Day. Instead, I took advantage of the time to write a modest proposal to stop the growing number of our national war dead that we honor every year — and hopefully save some innocent civilian lives as well. I ask readers to contact their congressional and senate representatives to demand that our President, the Commander of Chief of the US armed forces, cancel the upcoming Kandahar offensive. Ideally, all our troops should be pulled out of the Middle East, as well as everywhere else, but this is an immediate potential disaster in the making that needs to be addressed now. One does not have to be a military expert to appreciate why this planned military operation is a lost cause from the get-go.

The insurgents know we are coming. The Kandahar operation has been broadcasted for months in advance by our own military and media. The insurgents have had ample time to set up IED traps, snipers, underground tunnels, recruit volunteers to fight to the death, and insure their top leaders get the heck outta’ Dodge. It’s a no-brainer for these militant Afghanis, who been fighting wars since Alexander the Great. The US and NATO forces will pay a high price in casualties for little gain against a forewarned and prepared enemy.

The recent battle for Marjah serves as a harbinger to what to expect in the upcoming Kandahar offensive. Marjah should have been a minor engagement. Instead, it turned into a three-month slugfest that General Stanley McChrystal referred to as a "bleeding ulcer." Marines in Marjah claimed the fighting was as intense as Fallujah. An excerpt at FrontpageMag.com details what the US/NATO troops went up against:

"…the Taliban having planted booby traps throughout the city as well as to their snipers. According to one report, the enemy is concentrating in a central bazaar and in a densely populated residential neighborhood, which they are defending fiercely. u2018The Taliban have booby-trapped everywhere. We can’t even come out of our homes,’ one Marjah resident told Reuters."

Marjah has a conservative population of 80,000 people, which the military and the media euphemistically labeled a town, to downplay the possibility of serious collateral damage occurring in such a highly populated area. In any case, NATO blandly admitted that civilian casualties in that battle would be "inevitable." In comparison, Kandahar is the second largest city in Afghanistan, home to half a million people, roughly equivalent to Atlanta. So it stands to reason that if a "little town" such as Marjah proved to be a tough battle, Kandahar can only be more so by several orders of magnitude. Which begs the question — where will US/NATO get enough boots on the ground to both flush out the insurgents in street-to-street fighting and secure a perimeter to prevent escaping defenders to live and fight again? And do so with minimum loss to civilians in a major metropolis?

Even should the Kandahar operation proves military successful, what would it accomplish in securing the peace in Afghanistan? A recent commissioned report written by Major General Michael Flynn, General McCrystal’s top intelligence officer, makes a startling admission: "Eight years into the war in Afghanistan, the U.S. intelligence community is only marginally relevant to the overall strategy," the report states. "Having focused the overwhelming majority of its collection efforts and analytical brainpower on insurgent groups, the vast intelligence apparatus is unable to answer fundamental questions about the environment in which U.S. and allied forces operate and the people they seek to persuade."

In short, the US and NATO don’t have a clue. Attempting to win over the hearts and minds of the Afghanis by attacking the Taliban in a congested city of half a million civilians is akin to killing the patient in order to cure the disease. This planned offensive has the potential of turning into an atrocity like Israel’s recent invasion of the Gaza strip, as well as a major recruitment tool for the Taliban. Along with the doubts expressed by many officials in Pentagon, do we really want to gamble the lives and limbs of our soldiers, as well as the Afghani civilians, for such a dubious operation?

So please contact your representatives, and demand they stop this potential military disaster. Yes, I know they rarely pay attention to us proles. But the upcoming November elections offer a rare opportunity to leverage the incumbents in office on this issue. More important, our message will demonstrate to them that we are smarter than the average sheep, and are able to connect the dots to what is really going on over there in Afghanistan. At the very least, our message will stand as a condemnation against them for not questioning the necessity of the Kandahar offensive, an offensive I predict that will fail to produce any tangible results, except for providing more soldiers’ graves to plant flags on for next year’s Memorial Day.

Ron Shirtz [send him mail] is a transplanted Californian teaching Graphic Communications in Northern (Not “Upstate”) New York. His hobbies include arranging deck chairs on sinking ships, tilting at windmills, and being fashionably late.

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