Operation GOTHIC SERPENT. Blackhawk Down. The Battle of Mogadishu. They’re all the same. An attempt to turn around a deteriorating state of affairs, to the extent that anyone could really tell that Third World pest hole was deteriorating, in Somalia during Operation PROVIDE COMFORT, the CNN generated military operation/humanitarian relief campaign we found ourself embroiled in during the latter days of the GHW Bush administration.
Most people are familiar with the broad outlines.
Rapacious militias preying on relief workers. Inept UN management. Too much mission, too few troops. The rather exotic notion that capturing one particular warlord would change the state of play. A downed helicopter. Incredible bravery. …and ignominious defeat.
Of everything that happened there only the defeat proved to be strategically significant. The thousands of casualties inflicted upon the Somali militias in that two day period vanished in the mind of the islamist and instead became a proof that the United States could be beaten by inflicting a handful of casualties. That defeat, according the the 9/11 Commission, led directly to al Qaeda deciding that the United States was weak and unwilling to defend its interests.
The media and the left continues to cheerlead wars in places like Darfur. Wars that can’t be defined, wars that face impossible odds, and wars that have no strategic benefit to the nation. We are now yoked to an administration that has made the partisan, rather than merely political, decision to continue spending young lives in Afghanistan even though there is no intention of supporting the Karzai or any other government to the point of stability. This same gaggle of poltroons seems to have also decided to fritter away a victory handed to them by the previous administration, that in Iraq, for no other reason than proving their anti-war rhetoric was, in fact, correct.
If you want to see what our exit from Afghanistan looks like, look no farther than Mogadishu in 1993. A feckless president is unwilling to pursue a military conflict because of the political costs. The military forces are left to take casualties and the blame for failing to win a war their political masters lack the stomach to fight. A sense of desperation makes a very high risk operation appear to be a silver bullet to save the day. Clausewitzian friction intrudes. And a 19 year old Ranger bleeds out in some flyblown craphole. There is popular outcry. The innocent are punished. The preceding administration blamed. Troops are withdrawn. The entire experience disappears down our memory hole but becomes another bit of self-delusional propaganda that will result in the next big attack.
The stage is being set even now. In Iraq. In Afghanistan. In Libya.
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