Credit for this slightly anemic victory is generally given to Gen. David Petraeus, who developed the strategy that turned the war around in Anbar province, where locals had been particularly resistant to the dictates of democracy as enforced by invading military forces. The Sunni Arabs distrusted the Shiite-dominated military recruited by the American occupation and fought bitterly at Fallujah and other battles. Anbar was the testing ground for the roadside bombing tactics that took out U.S. forces daily. Obviously, something new in tactics was called for.
In America, the heart of capitalism is investment, wherein workers send their money out to work for them rather than labor in person. Money works full time and never dies — the ideal employee. Gen. Petraeus’ success in Anbar was the application of that principal to the battlefield. He simply bought off his enemies, and saved lives on both sides in so doing.
First he sent officers to respectfully offer village elders support and a cease-fire in return for their forming a militia and helping to drive al-Qaida and other jihadist elements out of their country. Named the “Sons of Iraq,” these American-armed militias were paid every fortnight in cash, and their homes were spared the searches and night raids that had marked U.S. tactics in the past. Making friends and influencing people with cash is still working, but we’re still paying as well.
Now, as our combat capability evaporates in the wake of the Pakistani floods, Petraeus has changed focus and is commencing a similar policy for the rural regions outside Kabul. Under an agreement earlier this summer, local authorities will be allowed to create their own militia and police forces, armed and paid by the NATO coalition (read: American taxes). This change to a diversified financial distribution model will allow Petraeus to station trainers/advisors in each locale, controlling the funds and development work as well as security. It also allows for redirecting big bucks away from the corrupt Hamid Karzai minions in Kabul and Kandahar.
The offer, as we hear it, is $10 a day for village enlistees with bonus dollars for families who cooperate in civil governing councils. In a nation whose average income is something around $1.50 a week, the benefits of cooperation are obvious to war-weary Afghanis after half a century of conflict.
As to America and our interests in a “free Afghanistan,” Pentagon analysts and bean counters will no doubt conclude that our mission is well served by spending bucks instead of blood — a policy that might just catch on in the face of one more loss in our recent military history.
“Travus T. Hipp” is a 40-year veteran radio commentator with six stations in California carrying his daily version of the news and opinions. “The Poor Hippy’s Paul Harvey,” Travus is a member of the Nevada Broadcasters Hall of Fame, but unemployable in the Silver State due to his eclectic political views.