Every politician in Washington DC, starting with Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, every endless war thinktank genius, every Pentagon, State Department and CIA official above GS-9, and especially every officer who achieved flag rank during the Obama,
Trump and Biden administrations, should be on their knees today, begging forgiveness from the families of Mike Spann, Pat Tillman, Charles Keating III, Seal Team 6, Seal Team 10 and the troops of Operation Redwing, posthumous Medal of Honor recipients John A. Chapman, Robert James Miller, Jared C. Monti, Michael P. Murphy, and the 2,312 other Americans who gave their lives in Afghanistan.
The catastrophic failure in Afghanistan was not due to a failure of American arms or a lack of skill and courage on the battlefield, it was solely due to a lack of military and political leadership at the highest levels of the American government – and its disastrous effects will reverberate into the dark age that is to come in Afghanistan and throughout the Muslim world.
While the United States deployed the most lethal military in history on the battlefields of Afghanistan its political and military leadership never grasped, or even tried to understand, who the enemy is and what it would take to defeat that enemy.
Nor did they ever conceptualize what victory looked like. Instead, they opted for a Colin Powell approach to combat that emphasized developing a strategy to get out, before even thinking about how to win.
It is clear to anyone with a modicum of knowledge about Islam and its doctrine of Sharia supremacy that the Taliban in Afghanistan and ISIS in Syria and Iraq, and its offshoots elsewhere around the world, do not desire any kind of “peace” except the peace of the Ummah – the peace of the worldwide reign of Islam.
That is what they have been fighting for, not the governance of some piece of Godforsaken territory in Afghanistan or the Near East, and certainly not to join a democratic government with Kafir (non-believers) and those they consider to be apostates.
So, why is it so hard for our leaders, especially our military leaders, to understand the war aims of our Muslim adversaries?
A major part of the reason is that Obama administration effectively purged from our military doctrine all teaching about the military goals of Islam, its doctrine of worldwide conquest and its teachings about how to accomplish that conquest.
The notion that we could broker a peace and some sort of democratic government with the Taliban involved was a folly born of desperation to save political face, not win the war Islam has declared on the West.
That “strategy” if one could call it that also demonstrates that our top echelon at the Pentagon, CIA headquarters and the State Department learned nothing from 20 years of war in Afghanistan.
Despite the trillions of dollars and thousands of lives poured into geography no one but the Afghans want, nothing the generals and best and brightest of the intelligence community proposed worked.
From the failed efforts to implement a new Counterinsurgency (COIN) doctrine in Afghanistan, to the false deadlines Obama established for withdrawal, to Trump’s negotiations, to Biden’s disastrous collapse, nothing American leaders did achieved the goal of a stable regime in Afghanistan that is inhospitable to terrorist organizations with transnational aspirations and capabilities.
And the reason for this failure had nothing to do with the bravery and selflessness of the American military personnel deployed to accomplish the goal – it had everything to do with the unwillingness of American political level leaders to recognize what enemy we are fighting and to deploy the correct resources to defeat it.
The war in Afghanistan wasn’t a regional or tribal conflict, it wasn’t a war on “terrorism,” it wasn’t a war on narco-warlords (even though 90% of the worlds illicit opium originates there); it is a war between the values of fundamentalist Islam and the values of the Western Enlightenment, and if you refuse to understand it and fight it on those terms the war in Afghanistan will never be over and certainly never be won.
If you understand that the teachings of Islam are fundamental motivators of the people who we were fighting in Afghanistan, then that informs your entire strategy.
That means instead of sending a few thousand troops to Afghanistan we needed to deploy all the means of our national power against the real enemy – the doctrines of Islam that motivate the Taliban.
That meant we should have deployed psyops to attack the enemy’s belief system. It meant we needed to offer an alternative belief system to replace the one that motivated the enemy. And it meant we needed to attack the centers and advocates of that belief system – the Islamist Mullahs and clan leaders.
The United States did none of that in Afghanistan, instead the American military and political leadership stuck to the “Islam is a religion of peace” narrative and substituted holding elections for growing a new generation of Afghan Muslim leaders who shared our values and were willing to fight for them.
While there is no doubt that, given unlimited operational freedom and resources, the United States military could and did defeat the Taliban on any battlefield of our choosing, that didn’t defeat the enemy of Sharia supremacy.
Our generals and politicians never fought the whole war in Afghanistan. While the grunts won the war on the kinetic battlefield, the real enemy – Sharia supremacy and militant Islamism – was never even attacked. Americans and the whole world saw the first results of that failure of leadership on their TVs over the weekend, but just because we slink out of Afghanistan doesn’t mean the war is over. With the help of their allies in Iran, China and Russia our Islamist enemies will take the lesson of America’s defeat in Afghanistan to other battlefields in the expectation that they can clear American influence and the spread of Western values from the entire Muslim world.
George Rasley is editor of Richard Viguerie's ConservativeHQ.com. A veteran of over 300 political campaigns, he served on the staff of Vice President Dan Quayle, as Director of Policy and Communication for Congressman Adam Putnam (FL-12) then Vice Chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee's Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs, and as spokesman for now-retired Rep. Mac Thornberry former Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.
War on Terror
Peace of the Ummah