January 20, 2016

Bombs can't fix this quagmire - By Scott Taylor

Posted: 01/18/2016

In November, Paris was rocked by multiple brazen terrorist assaults that stunned the French capital and left 131 dead. The assailants were homegrown Islamic extremists with links to the Islamic State. France's response was to step up its bombing campaign against IS targets in Iraq and Syria.

In Canada, the warmongering pundits took to their soapboxes to argue that, in light of the attack against Paris, Canada must continue to bomb IS targets in Iraq and Syria.

Then came last Thursday's attack in Jakarta, Indonesia. Five Muslim extremists -- reportedly IS volunteers who had returned to Indonesia after training in Syria -- attacked innocent bystanders. Mercifully, only two civilians, one of them a Canadian, were killed, and another 17 were injured in the attack, which left all five terrorists dead.

Once again, Canadian warmongers took to thumping their tubs and demanded that, in view of this latest assault, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau must reverse his election campaign promise to bring home our CF-18s and end the bombing missions against IS in Iraq and Syria.

For the past 15 months, Canada has been part of the allied air force bombing the bejesus out of IS in Iraq and Syria. Led by the U.S., and in conjunction with 50-plus other nations, this air armada, complete with sophisticated drones and satellite imagery, is the most sophisticated and lethal airborne arsenal ever assembled.

Yet, in all that time and after all of those thousands of sorties dropping guided munitions, IS still controls roughly the same territory it seized during its blitzkrieg offensive in the spring of 2014.

Bombing more and more is obviously not the answer.

However, the Canadian Colonel Blimps are not alone in their demand for dropping more explosives out of warplanes. Last week, retired U.S. general David Petraeus co-authored an op-ed in the Washington Post arguing that, in order to save Afghanistan from the Taliban, the U.S. needs to step up its bombing campaign in that war-ravaged nation.

The logic put forth by Petraeus, the man credited with America's "victory" in Iraq, is that in 2010 the U.S. launched over 2,500 combat air sorties against the Taliban, and the insurgents were relatively contained.

In 2015, the U.S. only flew 1,000 missions against Taliban targets, and now they are poised to topple the Afghan government. Forgotten or lost in that equation is the fact that in 2010 there were over 150,000 U.S. and NATO troops on the ground directly battling the Taliban.

In 2013, NATO began its pullout and handed the combat mission over to the demoralized Afghan National Army. At present, there are fewer than 20,000 international troops left on the ground in Afghanistan, and those are mostly deployed to protect a few major airbases.

Bombing the Taliban more will not compensate for the fact the Afghan security forces have no will to fight and die in order to prop up the corrupt regime in Kabul.

Prior to NATO's withdrawal, the West staged one last attempt at democracy in Afghanistan. The presidential elections were so flawed no clear-cut winner could be determined. In the end, a resolution was made to make it a joint leadership: Ashraf Ghani is president, and his archrival Abdullah Abdullah was awarded the position of chief executive officer. The vice-president's job went to my old friend, Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostum, the notorious Uzbek warlord.

As the Taliban seeks to drive this Kabul cabal from power, its biggest impediment is not the Afghan National Army, but rather the newly emerged threat of IS in Afghanistan.

Since 2011, the U.S. defence department has contracted Russia to supply the Kabul regime's security forces with helicopters and heavy weaponry. However, in the current global conflict's creation of strange bedfellows, none could be a stranger pairing than Russia recently entering into negotiations with the Taliban.

The reason for this mutual co-operation is Russia is wary of the rise of IS in Afghanistan, and, ironically, it seems the Taliban is the only group capable of preventing that.

Meanwhile, Petraeus wants to bomb the Taliban more, and the Canadian warmongers want to keep bombing Iraq and Syria, based on our past success in Afghanistan. What success?

Scott Taylor, a former soldier, is the editor of Esprit de Corps magazine.

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