The question I asked on September 6 was Did We Just Lose?

Now right-wing pundit Tony Blankley essentially agrees with that headline and leads me to a question for which I have, unfortunately, a ready answer.

With little reporting, and almost without media or governmental comment, the United States has suffered a substantial defeat in the war against radical Islam. Three weeks ago, Pakistan signed the terms of the Waziristan Accord with the northern region of its country called North Waziristan. It was, effectively, the terms of surrender by Pakistan to the Taliban and al Qaeda, which dominate North Waziristan. Pakistan has negotiated a separate peace — the eternal danger to any wartime alliance.

With the exception of a superb article in the Weekly Standard by Daveed Gartenstein-Ross and the redoubtable Bill Roggio and a few blogs, such as Flopping Aces, The Fourth Rail and The Belmont Club (apologies to some other blogs I surely have missed) there has been little comment. This column is based largely on the reporting from those sources.

The event itself was reported by the major newspapers, but the abject nature of the surrender passed with almost no comment. But surrender it was.

Yeah, puzzling isn’t it, Tony?

Well, no, not really puzzling at all. We have two parties in this country, just two, and they set the terms of the debate. The GOP has no interest in publicizing the fact that the war in Afghanistan is effectively lost.

And the Democrats? Well, the Democrats are idiots.

The Republicans are hardly going to trumpet the fact that our entire strategy in Afghanistan was just flushed down the toilet by our good buddy, President-til-he’s-assassinated Pervez Musharraf. It’s really hard to overstate just how screwed we are in Afghanistan. The Waziristan accord means that the Taliban has a safe haven. A safe haven that we dare not openly attack for fear of toppling the aforementioned President-cause-he-says-he-is Musharraf.

Why is this fatal? Because it means the Taliban can choose when to fight and when to withdraw to safety. It means they can risk only what they can afford to lose. It means we’re fighting a defensive war. If they hold the initiative all they have to do is bleed us and wait us out, and since they own and we just rent in the neighborhood, guess who’s going to leave first?

Our only move in Afghanistan now is to hope we catch a break — maybe the Taliban lighten up, maybe they start enjoying all that opium money so much they want to start livin’ the good life (pimp my camel,) or maybe Musharraf is replaced by someone with the capacity to get traction in the tribal areas. Hoping we catch a break is not a winning strategy.

So, given the situation, why are Democrats so quiet? Because they are so utterly out of touch with all things military (except for casualty numbers) that they simply don’t know what any of this means. Only if conservatives like Mr. Blankley sit them down and explain it to them using flash cards, simple diagrams and a catchy jingle, are the Democrats going to figure it out.

Even then, even if Democrats manage to get their tiny little peacenik-ponytailed heads around the military situation, they will still be unable to capitalize on it. Why? Because they are pathologically incapable of insisting that we needed more force at the start of this war, and more determination, and more American boots on Afghani ground, and still need what Mr. Blankley calls for:

We must come to terms with reality — and soon. We are going to have to substantially increase the size of our army and Marines to face the growing threats to our national security.

From the start the effective strategy for attacking Mr. Bush’s handling of Afghanistan, Iraq and the entire Global War on Terror, has been to attack from the right. Forget lies or truth, right or wrong, I’m talking pure politics, pure power dynamics.

The Bush administration’s line is thinnest on the right. In the simple military terms that the Democrats never manage to grasp: Mr. Bush’s right flank is exposed, it’s hanging, it’s unanchored, there’s no artillery, there’s no reserve, oh my God a troop of determined Girl Scouts could turn Mr. Bush’s right flank and roll his army up.

So naturally the Democrats attack his left flank. They attack where he’s strongest. They choose the most difficult ground, concentrate their forces where Mr. Bush’s artillery has a clear, point-blank field of fire, and they run up the f***ing hill like a bunch of pansy Picketts, waving their No Blood For Oil signs and throwing Granola bars.

I’ve been yelling about this for what, three years now between this blog, my own blog and and my former blog?

How do Democrats not get that you hit the weak spot? How do they not get that? How f***ing stupid do you have to be not to get that if you attack where the opponent is weak you can turn his flank and roll him up like a Wal-Mart rug?

Mr. Bush’s policy in Afghanistan is a rusty 1967 Dodge Dart, losing parts and dragging its muffler and still, improbably, running down his political opponents.

(cross posted from Sideways Mencken.)

  • BrianOfAtlanta

    The Taliban don’t own in Afghanistan any more than we do. They’re Pakistani/Arab in both membership and doctrine. If the Taliban can retreat into Pakistan when the going gets tough it will make it harder to defeat them, but that’s all. Just weeks ago, when the Taliban stood and fought to defend ‘their’ Afghan territory, they died by the hundreds and lost the territory. They’ll be back, but if they stand and fight they’ll be killed once again.

  • And for how many years do we play that game?

    They put a hundred chips on the table, we kill all 100, they kill 3 of ours (or 3 NATO soldiers.) Rinse and repeat. So we do that for what, ten years? Fine. But how does that game get Al Qaeda out of the tribal lands? How does that game accomplish our strategic objective, which, let us remember, was to deny Al Qaeda a home base.

    We didn’t set out to prove we could maintain bases in Afghanistan, the idea was to take out the Taliban and deny Al Qaeda a safe haven.

  • You’d think the Dems would look to their own history here. Adlai Stevenson catered to the “smarter than thouâ€Â? crowd and got massacred. JFK came along, invented a missile gap and won (barely). That wasn’t the only reason he won but it sure helped. The only times the Dems have won from the left occurred when the economy was in the crapper, which isn’t the case right now. Someone needs to take JFK’s 1960 campaign, update it and repackage it. I think They’d win in a landslide.

  • Jammer

    How completely appropriate to today’s way of discussing issues, that the base, abject surrender of the war on terror by the curent administration draws an article here attacking the Democrats. I am suprised it did not attack Hillary too, although, I would submit that if anyone can recreate the mix of politics which was JFK, it is she. No wonder Bush’s numbers are headed up as we as a country are headed down. How about if we blame the party in power for their screwups and wait for the dems to put out candidates for 2008 and make up our minds then?

  • Kevin:

    I think that’s a very smart historical point to make. That summarizes it perfectly: we need a JFK who can credibly get to the right on this and other security issues.

  • Jammer:

    I am blaming the president and his people. I’m asking why the Dems are too dense to manage to do the same with any effectiveness.

    It’s two years til the next presidential election. You really think Dems can just stand around carping without offering suggestions or at least cogent criticisms til then?

  • eusto

    I tried to add a comment over at sideways but I couldn’t. It may be me though, I’ve had this problem before. I don’t think you should shy away from pundit/political strategist work. It’s good to recognize your limitations, but, come on, from what I understand Karl Rove barely graduated high school. (Now, I know you have a sketchy educational past yourself I think — but you get my drift.) You make more sense than most professional pundits, so I don’t see anything wrong with spreading your views more widely — and making money at it. You may not know what you’re talking about, but as long as you know more what you’re talking about than your competitors — you’ve improved the situation.

    Only problem with going right for the dems is it might cost them their base. Also credibility is important; John Kerry blasted Bush for not having had enough troops but he still didn’t carry the day. If the Democrats were united and credible on this issue it would certainly help them out.

    Funny thing though is that from what I’ve heard, Karl’s strategy is always to go for the opponent’s strength. But I guess you too are going for the opponent’s strength — namely Bush’s national security cred — but attacking its weak point. If the Dems could take out that credibility, the Repubs are done for.

  • Eusto:

    Thanks for the kind words.

    In military terms you can go either way. You can concentrate against the enemy’s strength, or you can maneuver to penetrate at a weak point and either split or roll up the other guy’s line. If you’re going strength-against-strength you need an advantage in numbers or some other telling advantage. A relatively weaker force is probably (not always) better off massing against the enemy’s weak point.

    I guess I’d argue that an incumbent is almost always the stronger force so you need to find a way to hit him where he ain’t.

  • sleipner

    I can only explain the media’s total favoritism towards the right with the phrase, “The liberal media is only as liberal as the conservative corporations who own it”.

    On the Daily Show the other night, Jon Stewart showed the latest Newsweek issue, which in all 3 versions outside the US had the cover story “Losing Afghanistan”. In the US, it had an article about some photographer…who is lesbian, but they even backed away from saying that. Disgusting.

    Also, if and when the Democrats do say anything, the media pretty much ignores them, and they get a tiny little splash in the pond that no one notices. The chimperor opens up his mouth and they all jump all over themselves to shovel another truckload of bullshit all over the American people.

  • Kathy

    Peter Beinart just wrote a book attacking Bush on the right (at least on the National Security right). I have yet to figure out why Democrats aren’t clutching it as tightly as Hugo Chavez clutched Noam Chomkey’s book.

  • Smiley

    Ironically, the Afghanis don’t want the Taliban, it’s their mullahs who need the Taliban to hold onto power in the face of an increasing secular reality. Kind of like the Catholic Church needs the Pope to hide their pedarasty, and the Neo-Zi’s needs President Bush to hide their … egregious pedarasty.