Saw an unforgettably stark photo of Taliban fighters in Afghanistan's Wardak province, the same province Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen visited this week: Eight robed, turbaned fighters, a sandy ridge, a cloudy sky. All that was missing was the incoming American drone strike to turn the men into dust.
Question: Should the United States call in that strike? How great a security threat to the United States do these eight barbarians pose? How many dollars, how much blood is it worth to our nation to pulverize them into that lunar-like landscape?
I recently read a military e-mail from Afghanistan that marveled over a similar scene: "As far as BDA (battle damage assessment) goes, check this one out. 2 GBU 36's (bomblets) dropped the other day on estimated 6 guys!!!! That is half a million dollars on 6 guys!!!!" The e-mailer guessed that all the sniper ammunition the jihadists have used in the whole war hasn't cost close to that.
The point is, the United States is getting a lot of bang for a lot of buck but not much else. Don't get me wrong: If killing small bands of Taliban is in the best interest of the United States, I'm for it. But I do not believe it is -- and certainly not as part of the grand strategy conceived first by the Bush administration and now expanded by the Obama administration to turn Afghanistan into a state capable of warding off what is daintily known as "extremism," but is, in fact, bona-fide jihad to advance Sharia (Islamic law). Anybody remember Sisyphus? Well, trying to transform Afghanistan into an anti-jihad, anti-Sharia player -- let alone functional nation -- is like trying to roll Sisyphus' rock up the hill.
This is not to suggest that there is no war or enemies to fight, which is what both the Left and the Paleo-Right will say; there most certainly are. But sinking all possible men, materiel and bureaucracy into Afghanistan, as the Obama people and most conservatives favor, to try to bring a corrupt Islamic culture into working modernity while simultaneously fighting Taliban and wading deep into treacherous Pakistani wars is no way to victory -- at least not to U.S. victory. On the contrary, it is the best way to bleed and further degrade U.S. military capabilities. Indeed, if I were a jihad chieftain, I couldn't imagine a better strategy than to entrap tens of thousands of America's very best young men in an open-ended war of mortal hide-and-seek in the North West Frontier.