The War in Afghanistan is a Libertarian Nightmare

War in Afghanistan

The War in Afghanistan is coming to an end, or is it? This war is a realized nightmare from a Libertarian perspective. We never should have started the War in Afghanistan. We should not still be prosecuting it. President Trump has announced an agreement to withdraw U.S. troops and I applaud the sentiment but the execution is going to lead to horrific consequences for many, particular those opposed to the draconic Taliban rule of Sharia Law.

This nightmare has it roots with President Reagan and the fact he essentially created the Taliban because they fought against Russian occupation. It wends its insidious horrors through the presidencies of all who followed escalating with President Bush’s invasion. U.S. soldiers have been giving life and limb in that country for nearly twenty years and now we are planning a full retreat.

Make no mistake about this so-called agreement with the Taliban to end the war in Afghanistan. The Trump administration claims details of the treaty must be kept secret from the people of the United States in order to save the lives of U.S. soldiers. This is a lie on its face. You must remember, the people who signed it are the enemy. They know all its contents and we the people of the United States do not. Taliban leadership is fully aware of every crossed t and dotted i in the document.

The agreement asks the Taliban not to support terrorist organizations but how on earth are you going to check for that? What, those rascals blew up a convoy of girls going to school? Well, we didn’t support that, it was rogue elements. So sorry. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

Meanwhile, with the agreement supposedly in place, they are attacking Afghani government sites at an increased pace. They’ve temporarily ramped down attacks on U.S. soldiers because they correctly surmise, we just don’t give a poop about Afghani citizens or their government, only about us. Harsh truths.

We are running away and leaving the country in a far more terrible position than we found it. The Taliban are going to take over, women and those who believe in freedom are going to suffer and die. Terrorist and anti-U.S. elements will flock the nation and gain support in their attacks against us.

Is continuing the war in Afghanistan any better? Will losing more lives, alienating people through endless drone attacks that kill more civilians than terrorist, that radicalize far more people than they kill, will that make the situation better? No, no it won’t.

President Trump is correct, it’s time to leave. I wish he’d stop pretending this isn’t a full retreat. I wish he’d stop lying about enforcing the unenforceable. I wish we’d just get out and admit we lost. There will be hell to pay, as the saying goes. It’s a mess and the only solution is as WOPR so eloquently suggested, “Strange game, the only winning move is not to play.”

Tom Liberman

MOAB and the Right Tool for the Job

moab** ADDENDUM **

Since I wrote this article, sources in Afghanistan are claiming that three caves were destroyed and 94 militants killed. I’m rather skeptical of this total seeing as no one has yet to clear the area and United States sources are silent. That being said, it that is true, then what follows is apparently incorrect.

** END ADDENDUM **

The GBU-43/B is the wrong weapon to attack caves and people supporting its use are coming up with contrived arguments to prove the value of the strike. I think it’s important to use the right tool for the job and optimistic hope that a shovel can pound a nail still doesn’t mean the shovel was used properly. Do we really want our military running on hope and using the wrong tools?

I’ve been in a number of discussions on various social media outlets about the effectiveness of the GBU-43/B against protected fighters in Afghanistan. The issue has largely been the GBU-43/B is designed as an Air Blast weapon to clear soft targets from the surface and to explode mines over a large area. Its very name indicates as much, Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB).

The United States military has a number of other weapon systems called Massive Ordnance Penetrators (MOP) which are designed to penetrate caves and bunkers to destroy their targets.

The problem here is the caves are not a single target but a massive complex and the MOP can only strike a small portion of them. Meanwhile, the MOAB does affect a much larger area but only on the surface, not caves.

What I’d like people to think about is the design purpose of the GBU-43/B, the way it was used in Afghanistan and, most importantly, why and how they are defending the strike.

It’s my opinion that people are defending the strike because they support aggressive action against enemies of the United States holed up in the caves of Afghanistan. I don’t begrudge them this attitude. What I’m suggesting is that we should pound a nail with a hammer, not a shovel. I’m also saying it’s counterproductive to support people pounding nails with shovels. Tell them they are doing it wrong. Give them a hammer.

If you saw your enemy spending considerable effort in making attacks that were useless would you be frightened by the inarguably massive power of the attack or emboldened by the sheer stupidity of the misused weapon?

Most of the arguments I’m getting from supporters is the concussion of the blast might destroy tunnels below ground. This is true. It’s unlikely, but possible the force of the air on the surface might collapse a small section of the tunnels directly below the blast. The vast majority of the force goes sideways and destroys targets on the surface, as is the design parameter of the ordnance.

Basically, people are arguing the shovel is a good pounder of nails when it clearly is not. This because they want to support the strike. Again, I get you support the attack. I’m just suggesting that we use the right tool for the job.

If you have to contrive an argument to support your point, well, your point might not be so valid. Something to consider.

Tom Liberman

Syria – A Libertarian’s Dilemma

Syria ChaosThe situation in Syria has been going on for some time now and I’ve avoided writing about it because I’m extremely ambivalent about events.

I’m of one mind that using force against the Syrian government is just another example of U.S. meddling that will eventually backfire. On the other hand it is difficult to know of the horrors inflicted by weapons of mass destruction and just plain old weapons of destruction and not want to intervene. The human suffering is horrific.

As far as the use of chemical weapons of mass destruction the U.S. record is spotty enough that I don’t feel they alone are a justification to intervene. From 1980 to 1988 the Reagan administration allowed and possibly helped Saddam Hussein and Iraq to use such weapons frequently in the war with Iran. Nothing was done because Iraq was our ally at that time.

As far as the murdering of men women and children, we have an extremely spotty record there as well. The Rwanda genocide that occurred under the Clinton Administration, the War in Darfur which took place largely during the George W. Bush administration, and other such events happened without us feeling the need to intervene militarily. On the other hand the Clinton Administration did back Operation Deliberate Force during the wars following the breakup of Yugoslavia.

I guess once we get past much of the political rhetoric and posturing the question becomes: Is it the obligation of the U.S. and other free countries to help people oppressed and murdered by brutal regimes?

I say yes.

But, I’m not done writing yet so bear with me.

I think the U.S. should stand as a beacon of light against those that perpetuate such horrors. I think we made a huge mistake allowing Iraq to use chemical weapons on Iran. That we should have done more in Rwanda, Darfur, the Congo, and other places where such activity happens. I think we should eschew political niceties and help those being oppressed even if they disagree with our politics.

The question then evolves into what I mean by “help”.

Here’s what I mean. Help them help themselves. We’re already aiding the rebels in Syrian and that’s enough. If they can’t win without our direct military support then I must turn a blind eye to their suffering.

It’s hard to say that. It’s difficult to turn that blind eye when you see pictures of brutality. If I thought using direct military force would help, perhaps I’d be of a different mind. Unfortunately our best intentions end up hurting us more often than they help us.

Direct military aid in the form of airstrikes is certainly damaging to the Syrian regime but even the mere threat of such action disperses forces in a way that helps the rebels. Perhaps even more than the strikes themselves. Even if we sent in our brave citizens to fight on the ground would we achieve a satisfactory result? Are we happy with the current state of Iraq and Afghanistan?

The only real success I see in our many adventurers over the last few years was in the former Yugoslavia where our military action was limited and backed by a free people fighting hard for their own nation. That might yet happen in Syria, and Egypt as well, but the more we intervene, the deeper our involvement, the less chance I think it has of occurring.

We’re best offering limited help and letting the people of a country obtain their own hard-fought freedom. Once they do so we should welcome them into the world of nations with open arms, regardless of their political or religious beliefs.

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Teaser – Afghanistan Massacre

WarI’m going to take on a pretty serious topic tomorrow. Last week an American soldier rampaged through a village in Afghanistan and killed many civilians including women and children in their sleep. What I want to talk about is the releasing of the soldier’s name to the general public and importance of doing or not doing so.

Whether or not to release the name has gotten some pretty passionate arguments from both sides of the issue and I think the behavior of the army and the government during the aftermath of this horrific event is going to speak greatly about the United States of America and for what we stand.

Stay tuned.

Tom Liberman
Sword and Sorcery fantasy with a Libertarian Twist