The AP reports:
A trend of Afghan treachery that has taken the lives of six American troops over the past week is poisoning a key ingredient in the international coalition’s formula for winding down the decade-long war: trust. Not just “a” key ingredient. “Trust,” according to former Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen, is the “coin of the realm” in Afghanistan. “Lose the people’s trust,” he wrote in early 2009, “and we lose the war.” That was non-sense then and it is non-sense now. It is little wonder, then, that the COIN war the US has led all these year in pursuit of Afghan trust has failed so miserably.
Why? From the archive, February 19, 2009:
The buzzword on Afghanistan is “trust.”
Having routed the Taliban, liberated millions, midwived a (Sharia-supreme) constitution, assisted in elections, propped up a government and routed the Taliban some more, all the United States needs now to win victory in Afghanistan is to win the “trust” of the Afghan people.
So wrote Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, in a column appearing in the Washington Post just days before President Obama ordered 17,000 new troops to Afghanistan, nearly doubling the American presence there.
The president’s top military adviser explained the policy this way: “We have learned, after seven years of war, that trust is the coin of the realm — that building it takes time, losing it take mere seconds, and maintaining it may be our most important and most difficult objective.”
Sorry, admiral, but if that is what we have “learned” in a war that has claimed more than 600 American lives, wounded and maimed thousands more, and cost billions of pre-bailout dollars, we are practically done for.
Why? The short answer is that in making a primary objective out of winning the “trust” of the Afghan people, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs has, by definition, abandoned all rational war policy. Indeed, he has placed the marker for American success not on the ability of U.S. forces to execute their missions, but on the emotional reaction of the average, illiterate, infidel-hostile, modernity-challenged Afghan to those missions.
“Lose the (Afghan) people’s trust,” Mullen writes, “and we lose the war.” I wish I could say I’ve never heard such fatuous counsel, but the entire so-called war on terror, from start to non-finish, reverberates with this same sort of line. It tends to turn profound Islamic differences from the West into profound Western failings toward Islam. Rather than walk our nation up to the cultural chasm between Islam and the West and show us what it looks like, our leaders have, in effect, made that chasm into their own personal responsibility, something to fill in, paper over and, above all, never, ever mention.
Thus, Mullen blames the Afghan failure to hail the United States as the conquering hero on a purely American failure to maintain Afghan “trust” — an unfair rap, frankly, on dedicated troops stretched thin by far too many years of deployment. ….
What has changed three years later?
The murders of our men, long victims of this delusional COIN pursuit of trust, are finally being noticed. Today’s AP report continues:
In the nerve-rattling setting of a conflict in which the enemy wears no uniform, it takes trust to work side by side with Afghans [in Allied uniform!] whose loyalties are hard to decipher and who sometimes turn out to be Taliban sympathizers.
It is difficult to gauge what it will take to rebuild a bond of trust after repeated instances of Afghan soldiers and civilians — or civilians posing as soldiers — turning their guns on American and other allied troops. At some point, it calls into question the viability of a military strategy that requires close teamwork with Afghan troops, although the Obama administration is adamant that it will stay the course in Afghanistan.
What the reporter is describing here is a crisis of faith as the false gods of “universalism,” “moderate Islam,” democracy-building, nation-building, COIN, etc. break on harsh reality, splintering into unholy rubbish.
More U.S. troops have been killed in Afghanistan since Feb. 1 by their supposed Afghan allies — six — than in combat with the Taliban — just two — according to an Associated Press review of casualty data through Friday. Combat deaths typically are lower in the off-peak winter fighting season.
“There is something fundamentally wrong here,” says Peter Mansoor, a retired Army colonel who was Gen. David Petraeus’ executive officer in Baghdad in 2007-08.
Gee, I wonder what that could be?
He said Iraqi troops sometimes betrayed their U.S. partners but not nearly to the extent seen recently in Afghanistan.
Administration officials insist there will be no backing away from working hand in hand with Afghan forces.
“If we can’t train the Afghan national army appropriately, we’re never going to be able to leave and we’re never going to win,” Jacobson said.
It’s not just American troops who are getting killed by their supposed Afghan partners. Four French troops were gunned down by a rogue Afghan soldier on Jan. 20. Paris responded by immediately speeding up its planned withdrawal of combat troops. An Albanian soldier was killed in an attack by Afghan police on Feb. 20.
There has been no heightened clamor on Capitol Hill to withdraw from Afghanistan, but Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., has renewed his call for the White House to assemble a panel of outside experts to review U.S. strategy.
“Congress and the Obama administration need to wake up and realize that things are not going well in Afghanistan, and it has nothing to do with the capabilities of our troops,” Wolf said on the House floor Thursday. It has to do with “Afghan security forces gunning down their American advisers,” he said.
And that has to do with … what? Any wild guesses? How about the rank incompatibility of Islam and the Free World? Totalitarian collectivism vs. the Western ideal of individual liberty? Jihad vs. freedom of religion?
Diana West writes a weekly column that appears in about 120 newspapers, including the Washington Examiner on Sundays. Her work has appeared in many publications including The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Times, The New Criterion, The Public interest, The Weekly Standard, In Character, and The Washington Post Magazine, and her fiction has appeared in the Atlantic Monthly. She has made numerous television appearances as a CNN contributor to “Lou Dobbs Tonight” and “Lou Dobbs This Week.” She is now at work on her second book for St Martin’s Press, The Hollow Center.