With thanks to Diana West, the New York Times is reporting today that the United States Marines are currently “flummoxed” in their efforts to win the hearts and minds of the populace in Marja – even after pouring hundreds of thousands in American cash every week into the tribal leaders’ pockets. The problem is that the Taliban are beating and killing anyone they can identify who is accepting cash, employment or assistance from the Marines – and taking the money for themselves to purchase explosives and arms.
According to Major James Coffman the Taliban have actually resurged and re-taken control in many ways since the Marines began the Marja offensive in February. So, it’s not going too well, this hearts and minds business in Afghanistan.
MARJA, Afghanistan — Since their offensive here in February, the Marines have flooded Marja with hundreds of thousands of dollars a week. The tactic aims to win over wary residents by paying them compensation for property damage or putting to work men who would otherwise look to the Taliban for support.
The approach helped turn the tide of insurgency in Iraq. But in Marja, where the Taliban seem to know everything — and most of the time it is impossible to even tell who they are — they have already found ways to thwart the strategy in many places, including killing or beating some who take the Marines’ money, or pocketing it themselves…”
Yes, indeed. It’s amazing how persuasive beatings or killings can be to keep people silent and in their homes. Pain is a most effective tool for an enemy who does not live by the same code of military conduct as our troops do.
“…“Just a few weeks since the start of the operation here, the Taliban have “reseized control and the momentum in a lot of ways” in northern Marja, Maj. James Coffman, civil affairs leader for the Third Battalion, Sixth Marines, said in an interview in late March. “We have to change tactics to get the locals back on our side.”…”
Want to guess what the new tactics might be? More money? Drink more chai, eat more goat, open a nice casino? Your guess is as good as mine is.
“…One tribal elder from northern Marja, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of being killed, said in an interview on Saturday that the killing and intimidation continued to worsen. “Every day we are hearing that they kill people, and we are finding their dead bodies,” he said. “The Taliban are everywhere.”…”
Yes. And it is not possible to know with whom a United States Marine may be shaking hands on any given day – regular Afghani Muslim or Taliban Muslim. Either way, our Marines and Army are the invading Infidels, never to be trusted or taken as friends.
“…“We’ve got to re-evaluate our definition of the word ‘enemy,’ ” said Brig. Gen. Larry Nicholson, commander of the Marine expeditionary brigade in Helmand Province. “Most people here identify themselves as Taliban.”
“We have to readjust our thinking so we’re not trying to chase the Taliban out of Marja, we’re trying to chase the enemy out,” he said. “We have to deal with these people.”
Sorry, I got lost there. That doesn’t narrow the solution down very well. But, then, given these circumstances and the rules of engagement, I don’t have any answers for the Marines, either. In a stand-up fight, no army in the world can beat them. But this is not a stand-up fight. And the longer the war grinds on like this, with no end in sight, no clear objective, no way to tell which one is the Taliban, and no way to tell when we’ve won, the more it becomes apparent that we should be doing something entirely different to defend ourselves from the jihad.