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An invasion now could be more costly than Vietnam
September 18, 2001 2:18 PM   Subscribe

An invasion now could be more costly than Vietnam Another article by the Independents Robert Fisk, this one showing how any infantry in Afghanistan would be a baaad idea - 10 million mines?? Thats more than 1 mine per Afghan, isn't it? The Russians got busy..
posted by Mossy (28 comments total)

 
With Bush saying that we are going to have to accept losses in order to "smoke them out of their holes", this could shape up to be a campaign which yields unprecedented casualties.
posted by sean17 at 2:40 PM on September 18, 2001


not really russians being busy per-se more like afgans being busy, theve had a civil war there since 1989 each of the three tribes laying down mines against the others, no one bothered to map mines when they layed them out so...
posted by jojomnky at 2:44 PM on September 18, 2001


Mossy, can you maybe slow down on the front page posts here? I don't think we need to link every single article that comes out about every aspect of this thing. I mean no disrespect but over-posting is making it difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff.
posted by Kafkaesque at 2:48 PM on September 18, 2001


Mossy:

Please go on posting what you see is unique out there. Information is power. More the information we have, the better we can understand. Ofcourse that would need more concentration and more work on our part.
posted by adnanbwp at 2:54 PM on September 18, 2001


Oh forget it.

I simply meant that the front page is becoming overcrowded with links to articles in the independent and other major news sources that most read anyway.

Do you only get your news from MetaFilter? I don't.

Again, nothing personal. Just my point of view here.

I know, I know...MetaTalk.
posted by Kafkaesque at 2:56 PM on September 18, 2001


No way is anyone stupid enough to get into ANOTHER land war in Afghanistan. The Afghans are quite possibly the finest guerillas in the world, and have less than a generation past beaten back the might of the Red Army.

Air strikes and special forces, Mossy.
posted by UncleFes at 3:05 PM on September 18, 2001


actually, kafka... (cough)
::reloads metafilter::
posted by kevspace at 3:27 PM on September 18, 2001


"Could". Interesting word. Whole lotta' speculation goin' on here based on nothing. The Soviets had a limited commitment to Afganistan, and a commitment to stay the distance. Is this what America will commit, along with her allies? Is occupation what we want, or destruction and extraction? Before any start asking "could", I think the differences between past and present better be considered. Are there a whole lotta' mines? 'Amazing what carpet bombing can do. ANOTHER land war in Afganistan, against the best guerrilas in the world, might turn out very differently than those previous. This isn't national pride talking. Its a warning to any who witnessed the utter destruction of Iraq's forces in Kuwait. With an international commitment (building as we speak) and the force of America's war chest, the casualties in Afganistan could be very high, but I'm not convinced they will be against the American "invaders". And finally, I know I am not the only one tired of the comparisons to Vietnam. Vietnam was a country that we limited our commitment to and the "enemy" had massive resources pouring into as well. In this war against terror, who will face the international community and help Afganistan now? Soviets? Bye, bye. China? Against their biggest product market? Not likely. Maybe Iraq "could" help the Taliban ... if they could only get some of their aircraft IN the air.
posted by Wulfgar! at 3:31 PM on September 18, 2001


Y'know, over the last week, I've lost count of how many hundreds of articles I've read (I'm an part-time article writer for a muslim mag..) - I thought this one was a good analysis of why land action will not occur, given the prevailing attitude that enlistment may occur, and thus would be a good discussion point - isn't that the main onus of the site, discussion? And do that many people read the UK Independent?

Didn't the US attack with a coupla hundred cruise missiles on bin Laden's bases after the embassy attacks? Mind you, they knew where those particular bases were as they probably set them up, but did they do any damage to bin Laden? How to tell one dude with a white scarf around his head from another? And as for special forces, those land mines really are everywhere - you'd need a VERY accurate idea of where bin Laden was before you landed them, unless you wanted to lose quite a few of your elite..

Ah well, the military of America are bound to have some brains, and with articles such as the above hanging around, they'll doubtless do something ingenious..
posted by Mossy at 3:40 PM on September 18, 2001


So busy with work, I often look to Metafilter for interesting call-outs of news. Maybe bad to do, but I have come to trust the communities rational. My 2ยข.
posted by ericrolph at 3:42 PM on September 18, 2001


Going into Afghanistan expecting a repeat of the Gulf War could open us up to astonishing losses. The Iraqi army was in the desert with no place to hide. The terrain in Afghanistan is extremely rugged and mountainous. Russian veterans of their war in Afghanistan say "Modern weapons, rockets, laser-guided missiles—they're useless against these mountains." And carpet bombing isn't going to do much to a country that's suffered 20+ years of continuous warfare.
posted by kirkaracha at 3:57 PM on September 18, 2001


Wulfgar!: you can't compare the destruction of Iraqi forces in Kuwait to a possible military action in Afghanistan to get Bin Laden. First: Kuwait is a small place, mostly desert, difficult to hide. (When you dig holes to hide in, they are easily spotted from the air, and Bush can smoke you out ;-) ) Afghanistan is quite a big country, most of the roads are destroyed, and there are lots of holes in the numerous mountains that are impossible to spot from the air. Second: finding and arresting one man in Afghanistan is a little more difficult than destroying and chasing away an army-division that's clearly visible from the air. The Americans really need the Taliban to cooperate. Or force them to cooperate, but how? Will carpet bombings convince them? I wonder.

When Bin Laden doesn't surrender and when the Taliban don't kick him out of Afghanistan, I can think of only one way to get him: occupy strategic cities (Jalalabad, Herat, Mazar-i-Sharif, Kandahar) and send out special forces from there to track mr. Bin Laden down. (While overthrowing the Taliban regime and installing a moderate puppet regime?) I'm pessimistic. Does anybody have a another idea?
posted by igor.boog at 4:06 PM on September 18, 2001


All right then.

I'll go back to pithy pop culture references.
posted by Kafkaesque at 4:10 PM on September 18, 2001


"Korolkov says he saw critically wounded Afghan fighters still clutching their weapons and firing until their last breath. Many of them, he says, used drugs before launching operations. "

OK.. now I get why the US is losing the DRUG WAR.

he he he
posted by adnanbwp at 4:10 PM on September 18, 2001


unless we're going to carpet bomb them with swarms of anti-land mine robots... Maybe that's why Congress doubled the money Bush asked for.
posted by badstone at 4:22 PM on September 18, 2001


I'll go back to pithy pop culture references.

I got your pithy pop culture references right here:

Getting involved in a land war in Asia...what's next, going in against a Sicilian when death is on the line?
posted by kirkaracha at 4:25 PM on September 18, 2001


Actually, I don't get that one, kirkaracha. What's it from?
posted by Kafkaesque at 4:36 PM on September 18, 2001


The Princess Bride
posted by kirkaracha at 4:47 PM on September 18, 2001


Ohhhh.

Been a long time!
posted by Kafkaesque at 4:50 PM on September 18, 2001


What the Russians did in Afghanistan and what we did in Vietnam is distinctly different IMHO to what is going on here.

1) The World, for the most part, is with us. That means a lot in terms of intelligence, equipment and troops. More on this below.

2) We are going after a very limited portion of the population (which is around 24 million, btw). We are not interested in controlling any land. We will most likely use intelligence to find them and special forces to get them

3) Theoretically, most Afghanistinians are not radical extremists. If we do this right, they should feel comfortable that we are not interested in their capturing their land, spilling their blood or destroying their religion. Any middle eastern allies we have in this operation will be instrumental in opening the gates.

That said, if we do the wrong thing, we can expect a mix of what the Russians experienced in Afghanistan (ardent nationalist freedom fighters) and what we experienced in Vietnam (strong and hidden VC opposition/ambushes etc) We can also expect long lines at the extremist enlistment booths.

So, with that said, if they take any miltary action at all, let's hope and pary that they do it the right way...
posted by fooljay at 5:52 PM on September 18, 2001


Wulfgar!: you can't compare the destruction of Iraqi forces in Kuwait to a possible military action in Afghanistan to get Bin Laden.

I'm not. If you reread what I posted, you'll find it is only to illustrate this point: what happened to the Soviets in Afghanistan and America in Vietnam is only nominally applicable in this scenario. And all those who predict Armageddon for the American invasion of Afghanistan are foolishly jumping the intelligence gun. We aren't interested in occupation or land-grabbing. If I interpret American interests correctly, it is to go in, slaughter some select group of assholes, and get the hell out. I'm also saying, that we have (at current point) overwhelming world acquiescence for that very project. If Brits die by landmine, or Germans, or Russians, so any of you think that their resolve will break and they will flee this broken land? Not hardly. Unlike their guerilla war against the Soviets, Afghanistan stands alone. Our armed forces aren't stupid or suicidal, and we've learned from the mistakes of the past. Any who bemoan our terrible losses are just wailing about that of which hasn't happened, and it "could" be just terror fantasy on their part.
posted by Wulfgar! at 6:29 PM on September 18, 2001


3) Theoretically, most Afghanistinians are not radical extremists. If we do this right, they should feel comfortable that we are not interested in their capturing their land, spilling their blood or destroying their religion

Unfortunately, the Afghani people are very likely to think that we are interested in taking away their religion and their way of life. Very many muslims in the region, and in the world, will see a US attack on Afghanistan as a cruisade of Western governments against Islam.

The Taliban may not have any allies among the governments of the world. The governments of many muslim countries are too worried about fundamentalist muslim uprisings within their own borders to make friends with the Taliban. But many people in the region will see any war as a confilct of East vs West, and the Taliban will find many supporters among the population.

George Bush has warned that the war gainst terrorism may take a long time. He's right. We need to be patient and flexible. This war can be won, but not with cruise missiles.
posted by Loudmax at 8:54 PM on September 18, 2001


Fuel-air bombs cleanse large areas of landmines quickly and easily. Plus you get the bonus of killing everyone within several miles, including any fundamentalist terrorists that happen to be hiding out in caves. Not many weapons work well against guys in caves.
posted by aaron at 12:23 AM on September 19, 2001


Sounds good aaron, but FAE also have the tendency to incinerate any civilians (read: the people we don`t want to kill lest we destroy all of the international support we`ve built up) that happen to be in the area.

On the other hand, if there are no civilians in the way....
posted by chiheisen at 1:31 AM on September 19, 2001


chiheisen: I hope you don't mean that THE reason not to kill civilians is the danger of losing international support?
posted by igor.boog at 6:08 AM on September 19, 2001


Unfortunately, the Afghani people are very likely to think that we are interested in taking away their religion and their way of life.

How many Afghanis have relatives and friends over here? How many Afghanis have relatives and friends in neighboring countries such as Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Uzbekistan? I think you're falling propaganda that some have set for you: that the Afghani people are extremists.

As I said before, if we do this right, and by right I mean with the full support and good will of the great majority of neighboring Islamic countries (including, I'm sure, many Afghani ex-patriates, the Afghani people will understand (I hope) exactly who the problem is here.

Very many muslims in the region, and in the world, will see a US attack on Afghanistan as a cruisade of Western governments against Islam.

That's all a battle of propaganda isn't it? If we do this right, we can neutralize the extremists propaganda. I think that sending in a huge invasion-style U.S. army would be in the camp of "not doing this right".

But many people in the region will see any war as a confilct of East vs West, and the Taliban will find many supporters among the population.

And many may not, if we do this right. If we don't, I agree with you. We're fucked for the long haul.

George Bush has warned that the war gainst terrorism may take a long time. He's right. We need to be patient and flexible. This war can be won, but not with cruise missiles.

Thank you for agreeing with me...
posted by fooljay at 10:43 AM on September 19, 2001


I'm agreeing with the very good points you raised, fooljay. My point is that "if we do this right" is a very tall order. I'd like to see the bastards taken to justice, too. However, I don't want to see more activity that's going to inflame more anti-US sentiment, and ultimately lead to more atrocities like the one commited last week.
posted by Loudmax at 7:02 PM on September 19, 2001


I think we're arguing the same point. All of my statements should have been prefaced with the phrase "If there will be miltary action"...
posted by fooljay at 8:24 PM on September 19, 2001


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