Blood & Treasure in Afghanistan


Watching American’s try to impose US war-fighting doctrine upon Afghan troops highlights a cultural ignorance syndrome.  “Camp Victory, Afghanistan” shows this in great detail.  The Afghan people have integrated the warrior culture for thousands of years and outclassed the dominant powers throughout history.  The armies of Alexander The Great, Britain, Russia and soon the United States, know what it is to depart the Afghan theater in defeat.  These supposedly great military powers all failed to understand asymmetric war.  Trying to induce these tribal and feudalistic people to set aside their entire culture, tradition and history in order to adopt a large bureaucratic military structure contradicts every aspect of what allowed them to overcome previous invaders.  They know what works and arguing against their success is futile.  


Money, uniforms and participating in conventional operations is not what motivates them to fight.  Their incentive structure is entirely different and foreign to Western minds.  Of course they understand combined arms, they know asynchronous operations, but have no need for heavy logistics, deliberate presence or head on attacks to achieve their objectives.  They have no need to justify the expansion of a debt-based, central bank’s fiat currency through prolonged military conquest.  Developing an army to defend the nation of Afghanistan simply furthers the illusion that Afghanistan is a nation-state or that nation-states exist from a plebiscite in that region of the world.  The people there are more attached to the history of their family, clan and tribe.  They have a deeper affinity for their history than any modern construction of contemporary political theory.  These people have a continuity in their societal structure that predates and is much stronger than what came out of the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648.  The uniform they are wearing or whoever is paying them in the present moment does not change this.


For the most part, people go along to get along.  The Afghans describe this as the goats that follow the herd.  Feudalism and warlords remain because they are known entities amongst “neighbors”.  When Americans describe a territory as lawless they fail to understand the local way of life.  They fail to distinguish between formal and informal methods of dispute resolution.  Taxes are paid to government to act as a protection agency that secures their person and property interests.  They pay taxes for security and dispute mediation.  This can be done to the formal government or the local warlord, the effect is essentially the same.  However, the people prefer dealing with a known entity, someone they can readily relate to more than a distant bureaucracy in a culturally different, and notoriously corrupt capitol.  Informal law enforcement and mediation prevails because relationships are more important than written legislation enforced by an inefficient bureaucracy.  


Every Afghan leader and military commander knows that supplicating foreigners brings financial rewards.  They are willing to make gestures to satisfy outsiders in return for money, prestige and authority.  Anything that plays toward an advantage.  They also know that they have to get as much as they can, while they can, because eventually the outsiders will leave.  They always do, and then the search begins for the next benefactor.  Over $33 Million spent in one year for Herat province alone was siphoned off by corruption, leaving no evidence of improvements to infrastructure or the local economy.  Foreign aid always engenders pilferage and turns out to be a waste of tax dollars.  It is the forced redistribution of financial resources from middle class people in the donor nation to the upper class people of the recipient nation.    A double injustice to the common people of both nations as economic structures are distorted by artificial intervention.  The question for the outsiders is, informed with the lessons of history and how incentives work, how much blood and treasure should the American people be forced to apply toward an inevitable conclusion?


About The Jade(d) Warrior

Decades of walking the path of the warrior in service to noble ideals leaves one, well...jaded.
This entry was posted in Economics, Geopolitics, Strategy and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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