A book reviewed in The Sunday Times today suggests that the United States and its allies, including Britain, could have won the war in Afghanistan. This is a delusion, as history teaches us.
The ghost of General MacArthur still haunts us. He wanted to win another unwinnable war (in Korea) by blasting the Chinese into submission with nuclear weapons. The learning from that misadventure was swiftly forgotten and soon the GIs were off on another mission they couldn’t win in Vietnam. Even deadlier. But heigh ho let’s try again. A continuing mess in Iraq and the return of the Taliban to power in Afghanistan were to follow.
In seventy years have they learned nothing ? The problem was that whilst massive power and conventional weaponry worked in Europe in 1940-1945 for the allied forces that is the only theatre in which that worked. The war in the Far East was much more difficult and the island hopping (MacArthur again) was deadly and much more problematic. It took the obscenity of the Atomic bomb to win that one.
The wars of the second half of the twentieth century , and beyond, have not leant themselves to American strengths – bombing of civilians and tank and infantry battles. The enemy has had the good sense to stay flexible and flee to the jungle or the hills and regroup as necessary. You can’t defeat an enemy who won’t come out and fight.
The war in Afghanistan was never winnable and it’s hubristic to suggest it was. We should never have been there in the first place and never have stayed as long as we did. Where have all the soldiers gone – gone to graveyards every one…? 🌺 🌺