“It is fatal to enter any war without the will to win it.” –Douglas MacArthur.
America’s longest war is again under scrutiny in the wake of the recent flood of WikiLeaks Afghanistan documents. For me the news resurrected a question I have been asking myself for nearly nine years: why wasn’t the war in Afghanistan ended before it even began?
In the wake of 2,740 dead innocent Americans killed on 9/11, why didn’t the United States government deal with al-Qaida and Osama bin Laden with extreme prejudice? I am talking the N word. That is because I believe that Americans would be safer and the world would be a better place if the U.S. had launched a tactical nuclear strike against an organization whose goal is to kill Americans.
The argument against a nuclear strike ranges from breaking international law to harming the environment and killing innocents. But nine years of conventional war has done plenty to hurt the environment and kill combatants and civilians.
So instead the U.S. has become bogged down in its longest war ever; a war with no end; a war that has no recognizable enemy; a war that the nation can ill afford to wage.
The New Pentagon Papers
Daniel Ellsberg, a former U.S. Marine and military analyst, precipitated a rethinking of the Vietnam War in 1971 when he released the “Pentagon Papers.” The papers comprised the U.S. military’s account of what was going on in the Vietnam War.
Ellsberg understood there was a consensus within the Federal government that the U.S. had no realistic chance of victory in Vietnam; that political considerations prevented them from saying so publicly. Ellsberg argued that Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara and others continued to state in press interviews that victory was "just around the corner,” even though they knew it was not true.
President Nixon put Ellsberg at the top of his enemy’s list. Nixon’s Oval Office tape from 1971, with H.R. Haldeman talking, shows why the White House was out to get Ellsberg: “To the ordinary guy, all this is a bunch of gobbledygook. But out of the gobbledygook comes a very clear thing: You can’t trust the government; you can’t believe what they say; and you can’t rely on their judgment.”
Nearly 40 years later WikiLeaks released nearly 92,000 secret military documents about the fighting in Afghanistan. Its founder, Julian Assange, told The Guardian that, “The nearest analogue is the Pentagon Papers that exposed how the United States was prosecuting the war in Vietnam.”
According to The Washington Post, “The WikiLeaks Afghanistan War Logs will fuel political opposition in the U.S. to American troops continuing combat operations in Afghanistan.”
The commentary itself, provided below by the The New York Times, is chilling: “IN HEAVY CONTACT… We have mortars pinned down and fire coming from everywhere…. Multiple enemies running through… and fire coming from the mosque… The police station is shooting at us.”
As it turns out the Combat Outpost Keating barely hung on. Yet eight Americans were killed along with several Afghans. And several more wounded. All this from a mission that was to provide security and back-up the local government.*
Blame It On Bush
It’s not like we don’t already have plenty of reasons to be upset over the war in Afghanistan. But unlike Nixon, who wanted to repress the Pentagon Papers, the Obama administration takes the view that the WikiLeaks Afghanistan documents are old, dating back to when the war was being neglected by President Bush. The Obama White House points out the fact that the WikiLeaks documents end last year, just as President Barack Obama began his new strategy and pledged 30,000 additional troops.
If Vietnam demonstrated anything it is that more troops don’t ensure victory. Not against a battle-hardened enemy that can’t be easily recognized from the overall population.
As the chart above shows, in three years President Johnson almost tripled America’s troop levels in Vietnam. Despite ramping up the war the American military was sideswiped by the Tet Offensive in 1968 which lead CBS anchorman Walter Cronkite to say: “It is increasingly clear that the only rational way out will be to negotiate, not as victors but as an honorable people who lived up to the pledge to defend democracy.”
After Cronkite’s broadcast Johnson said, “If I’ve lost Cronkite, I’ve lost Middle America.” Not long afterward Johnson announced he would not seek re-election.
Don’t let LBJ’s decision get your hopes up. Obama is intent on staying for the long haul regardless of what happens in Afghanistan. That means the continuation of a war that kills our sons and daughters; a war that is costing our nation hundreds of billions of dollars. Just last week the Center for Defense Information, estimated the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will reach $1.08 trillion by the end of fiscal year 2010. But the real cost is much worse. As of the end of last month more than 1,200 American service men and women have died fighting in Afghanistan. More than 4,400 American service personnel have died in Iraq.
The WikiLeaks Afghanistan documents only confirm our worst fears—that despite a recent $7.5 billion aid package Pakistan is double-dealing and back-stabbing us. And regardless of how much Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gushes over Pakistan’s alliance, it doesn’t change the fact that the Taliban and al-Qaida have key support from Pakistan’s intelligence service and key players in the Pakistan government. This, and the fact Afghanistan has seen invading forces come and go including the Greeks, Turks, British and the Soviets, makes it impossible to imagine a scenario where America can now win this war.
Perhaps the only opportunity to win in Afghanistan was squandered nine years ago when the U.S. refused to marshal all of its strength to destroy al-Qaida.
Action To Take
More than four decades ago my father C.V. began writing Myers’ Finance & Energy because he believed that the war in Vietnam was unaffordable and that the debt acquired by the Federal government to win it would be extremely inflationary. He and his subscribers bet big on gold and silver beginning in 1967, right before the Tet Offensive. He was proven correct and his subscribers profited.
From 1970 to 1980 the price of silver rose from $1.60 per ounce to more than $50 per ounce and the price of gold increased from $34 per ounce to $850 per ounce.
The war in Afghanistan is every bit as unwinnable now as the Vietnam War was then. Look for even more war spending by the Federal government; the results of which will push precious metal prices higher. That is why I urge you to buy and own physical gold and silver.
Yours for real wealth and good health,
Myers’ Energy and Gold
*Footnote: If you want to learn more about the war in Afghanistan and what our troops are really up against, I urge you to read the 2010 bestseller, War, by Sebastian Junger, Harper Collins. Junger was embedded with a combat platoon in the perilous Korengal Valley in 2007 and 2008. Read a review of this book at Boston.com by clicking here.