Political support provides the key for winning the war in Afghanistan. The media correctly identify President Hamid Karzai’s corrupt administration as an impediment, when that government’s actions should sharply contrast with pervasive Taliban criminality. However, many writers omit the extravagant fantasies the Obama administration preaches, as exampled by support for a medal awarded to troops for not firing their weapons (” ‘Tough fighting’ in Afghanistan, not for Petraeus confirmation,” Page 1, June 30).
Successful counterinsurgency warfare first provides security by destroying or expelling insurgent forces. Regardless of outcome, civilian deaths occur due to collateral damage or deliberate insurgent executions needed to retain control. Regardless of time or place, people suffering in lawless regions evaluate security and allegiance by the force that is most lethal in firefights and stays. Only by crossing the armed conflict boundary at the cruelest point in revolutionary war can the next phases of counterinsurgency warfare establish a viable national government.
Therefore, questions for the Obama administration should be as follows:
c Will crucial decisions, such as returning fire and calling for supporting arms, be made by warriors in contact with the enemy, or by staff officers in remote bunkers?
c Will troops obey Articles 28 and 29 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which say protected people within the enemy’s physical control cannot be used to render certain points and areas immune from military operations, or will you require Gen. David H. Petraeus to serve your political agenda?
c Will our troops be given permission to win, or will the survivors be ordered to leave in 18 months after being regarded with derision and contempt by the Afghans?