Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
June 20, 2006

60 Miles

When I learned soldiering, a major lesson was to never hold a position from where there is no retreat possible. And, with Stalingrad in mind, never to depend on air supply alone.

This sounds like a quite possible catastrophy in the making:

U.S. soldiers descended on a mountain ridge Sunday, setting up fortified posts and mortar positions overlooking a key Taliban transport route.

Their arrival marked the first time in years that soldiers from the U.S.-led military force had ventured into Baghran Valley, in northern Helmand province.
The position will allow U.S. forces to block the movement of Taliban fighters and supplies, said one of the officers, Lt. Col. Chris Toner.
[The] new encampment is remote - more than 60 miles from the nearest ground forces - but Wilson saw that as an advantage.
"The enemy did not suspect we would come up here," he said. "They believe they have a safe haven area up here, because it has been untouched by coalition troops for years."
Taliban supply route is targeted by U.S. troops in Afghanistan, AP, June 19, 2006

The classic attempt to do the like was a serious failure:

[T]he French undertook to create an air-supplied base, at Dien Bien Phu, deep in the hills of Vietnam. Its purpose was to cut off Viet Minh supply lines into Laos. Instead, the Viet Minh, under General Vo Nguyen Giap, were able to surround and besiege the French, who were ignorant of the Viet Minh's possession of heavy artillery and their ability to move such weapons to the mountain crests overlooking the French encampment.
Battle of Dien Bien Phu, Wikipedia

The West has no strategy how to win in Afghanistan, nor a consensus on what could be won at all. This conflict will end like several others long attempts to occupy and pacify that country.

Lt. Col. Chris Toner's battalion is in deep shit. He may not know it yet, but or his successor will learn that lesson too. 60 miles through enemy territory is a long way to walk.

Posted by b on June 20, 2006 at 02:08 PM | Permalink


one thing that was not available to the French in Vietnam nor the US later on there is the orbiting B-52s. These bombers can simply fly in circles in Afghanistan for 8 hours or more and be anywhere in the country in a very short time. With GPS troops on the ground can give very precise coordinates of enemy positions and the bombers are deadly accurate.

better killing through technology b.

what might do them in would be an ambush on the camp itself...I suspect they are taking precautions against that.

Posted by: dan of steele | Jun 20, 2006 3:12:56 PM | 1

better killing through technology b.

An Analysis Of The French Defeat At Dien Bien Phu

The French intended to use superior firepower and technology to defeat the numerically superior Viet Minh.

Airlift's Role At Dien Bien Phu And Khe Sanh

U.S. airlift force faced many of the same problems as the French aircrews, but the U.S. had the air assets and technology to overcome their problems.

Didn´t help much in the overall war effort though.

It is not about bombing, it is about supplies:
Logistics quotes

"Amateurs talk about tactics, but professionals study logistics."

--Gen. Robert H. Barrow, USMC (Commandant of the Marine Corps) noted in 1980

B52s don´t drop food and ammunition.

Posted by: b | Jun 20, 2006 3:53:35 PM | 2

Nice post B.

I wonder when the airhead journalists in the beltway will actually get to work and realise that the post 911 response was the great-game checkmate move in which they lost and the AK47's and RPG's will win the ground war in ME.

DRPNK just upped the ante.

Posted by: Cloned Poster | Jun 20, 2006 5:40:55 PM | 3

of course the little irony here is that in afghanistan - the enemies of the empire have been armed by the empire

i have no symâthy at all for the taliban but i have even less for the warlords who really are just the salesmen of another man's liberation - certainly not that of their own people

& the erstwhile partner of the empire - pakistan - who has its own chickens to cook - will keep informing the taliban on the ground of any recent & useful intelligence

the empire deserves this ignimonious end but the people do not - not those of afghanistan nor those of iraq - nor even those of the empire itself even when they have become objectively 'good germans' in their complicity with the criminal deeds of that empire

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Jun 20, 2006 6:57:27 PM | 4

there is no question for me that this empire just like the nazi empire will find it stalingrad , or the french empire found its dieb bien phu, amongst the arab & persian people

in the three years,since the beginning of this criminal & immoral war, a rag assed organisation of the resistance has fought decisvely against the armed might of the empire & its cohorts

it has been aided at every step by the immorality of the occupation - whether it was the sacking of cultural treasures, the murder of intellectuals, the inability to provide the most basic services, massacre upon massacre until the 'lidice of our times', fallujah was torn asunder & apart by what can only be described as a blitzkrieg, the unbearable & comlpletely inhumane & illegal torture of prisoners, the destruction of cities & people whether that is tal afar, basra, haditha & today ramadi amongst others

these two young men who were found dead today, yes we have tears for them but their deaths did not fall from the sky - they are completely consistent with the terror that is being organised & acted upon by american forces & their cohorts in deeds & words

& what are thes two deaths compared the tidal waves of deaths of the iraqui people - whose families, if they exist are paid a little something by the empire for their loss & are then forgotten if they were even remembered

u s imperialism acts as it does & it is surprised when the different forms of resistance include a different form of terror than that that falls from the skies or comes out of a bradley tank . the 'terror' that the resistance uses has historical precedents since war was borne between men

i have sd it often it is the pornographic way in which the mass media participates in this war that causes the greatest disgust, when towns & villages & their inhabitants are completely anhilated - these paragons of truth say nothing - but when they want they turn american deaths into some form of serial comedy that is deeply, deeply pornographic - these whores from washington who wash their paltry words with the roll of dollars possess not one ounce of decency, not an ounce of understanding

but that too has precedents, there were those from the elites in germany who cackled & crowed until it was too late & the last deop of profit could be made, there were french who had delusions of empire as it was falling down to kingdom come all around them

& these whores in washington who rule from the roll of dollars whether they are senators, or journalists or judges will also come falling down - perhaps in a different way but in a way consistent with their lack of humanity & dignity

as b has sd - they seem to possess no real understanding of tactics & they are too cheap & too bent on making a profit to ably comprehend logistics

we are witnesses to the darkest tragedy of the modern era

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Jun 20, 2006 7:53:00 PM | 5

I mentioned this in another thread, but the Seattle Times review also carries a nicely detailed summary.
Set your tivo's, freevo's; bittorrent etc...

The damning 90-minute exposé (10 p.m.? check your local listings 4 PBS) stops short of laying those bodies at Vice President Dick Cheney's feet. But it does finger Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld — through more than 40 interviews with CIA veterans, journalists, politicians and others — as the ones who ignored, suppressed and manipulated intelligence after the 9/11 attacks to lead us into war with a country that had nothing to do with our attackers.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Jun 20, 2006 8:00:25 PM | 6

victory cannot come too much karma.

wounded knee + my lai + iraq + ? = meltdown.

Posted by: | Jun 20, 2006 8:05:58 PM | 7

The Iraq and Afghanistan Wars are pointless. If the USA is fighting a war of occupation, the war is lost. The only way to win is by genocide. But in a connected world filled with abundance of weapons, the USA can never kill enough Muslims to cower the population or do it without a billion Muslims being aware and ultimately suffering retaliation.

Sri Lanka, Palestine and Cyprus are mankind’s fate in an over populated world with fewer and fewer resources. Never ending ethnic conflicts with miles and miles and miles of Walls.

Posted by: Jim S | Jun 20, 2006 11:38:56 PM | 8

jim s

not crazy about your vivified malthus, but your rare comments here have been correct.

do you think we'll do "genocide"?

Posted by: slothrop | Jun 20, 2006 11:47:04 PM | 9

suskin says bombing al jazeerah was a deliberate act, has sources

Posted by: annie | Jun 21, 2006 12:05:32 AM | 10


I never thought the USA would do genocide. I always presented it as an alternative so horrid that withdrawal became a sensible choice even with the possibility of a another Middle East failed state. But, after reading reviews of Ron Suskind’s 1% Solution genocide is possible. Scared leaders with no connection to reality will do what they want. The USA is not yet at the nerve gas stage and has only had sporadic line up and shoot incidents. But, Air Sorties increase day by day. All is needed is the go ahead for a systematic Stealth Bombing Campaign. Muslim cities will cease to exist if the escalation is not stopped.

The Hubris and Fear are so great that the White House cannot see that their actions will insure the retaliation that they are so scared of.

Posted by: Jim S | Jun 21, 2006 12:22:01 AM | 11

jim s,

Perhaps the Afganistan War could have been a success, but not as an occupation, of course. I believe the switcheroo into Iraq was the big blunder. That mistake united not only the Muslims, but most of the informed world populace. Ironically, Americans are perhaps the least informed, thanks to our dominate corporate media, but as long as American deaths stay low, the Iraqi occupation will continue with blind eyes to the disaster.

The PBS Frontline "Darkside" was excellent and should be shown to all school children in America. (Quit laughing everyone, I know that wouldn't happen even if schools were not out for summer vacation.)

As i read the news articles like this, or this, I know the darkside is still a powerful force to be reckoned with.

For the record, I also do not believe over-population is the cause of our problems.

Posted by: Rick Happ | Jun 21, 2006 12:48:46 AM | 12

RE: jim s #11, "Muslim cities will cease to exist if the escalation is not stopped. The Hubris and Fear are so great that the White House cannot see that their actions will insure the retaliation that they are so scared of. "

I find it hard to imagine any escalation where the U.S. would be bombing or destroying every Muslim city. I like to exaggerate as much as the next guy but heh, there is a limit somewhere.

Posted by: Rick Happ | Jun 21, 2006 1:01:42 AM | 13

Just out of curiosity was anybody else's broadcast of PBS's Frontline "Darkside" run Interrupted about 2/3rds in with a thirty second or so, Charlie Rose interviewing Larry King spot?

Just wondering, as it was at a interesting moment in the show. Of course my phone rang about the same time so I wasn't able to watch it all in one sitting.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Jun 21, 2006 1:24:25 AM | 14

Uncle $cam,

I watch PBS on UNC-TV and "Darkside" was not interupted here.

Posted by: Rick Happ | Jun 21, 2006 1:35:24 AM | 15

Rick Happ

According to CentCom in the month of May 2006 there were 2220 close-air-support sorties in Iraq and Afganistan.

For a year I watched Puff, A4s, Hueys periodically hit the mountains around my LZ. Not to mention 105mm artillery barrages. It must have worked because I am still here but it didn't kill off the insurgents. In 1972 Offensive the valley where I was stationed was overrun by the Communists once the American troops pulled out.

In the Air Force right now there is an evangelical Christian General who hearts Curtis LeMay in the "Fog of War" who is seeking approval from up above to turn the current ineffective ad hoc air sorties into a systematic insurgent stronghold elimination campaign.

Posted by: Jim S | Jun 21, 2006 12:01:03 PM | 16

Just read Sun Tzu's classic `Art of War.' All anyone needs to know about the chances of success in this war.

Posted by: D | Jun 21, 2006 12:01:15 PM | 17

@Jim s,

The USA is not yet at the nerve gas stage and has only had sporadic line up and shoot incidents.

Two words: Whiskey Pete


Posted by: gylangirl | Jun 21, 2006 7:43:52 PM | 18

Certain western business and political leaders might think the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are a great success because they have proven so financially profitable. From their perspective, what's a little foreign genocide if the domestic public never find out? The media handlers will take care of it, like they handled the hired help - er, supported the troops.

Posted by: gylangirl | Jun 21, 2006 7:55:21 PM | 19

This mission is nothing more than the classical "search & destroy" tactic employed by the 1st Air Cav in VN. Fly in, set up a LZ and firebase, conduct some recon hoping to find some enemy to justify the mission, try to kill more of them than you lose, and fly away to another ridgeline and repeat. The tactic doesn't do anything to reduce or eliminate an incipient insurgency. Applying this tactic merely demonstrates that our military leadership has run out of ideas and is falling back on an attrition strategy to defeat the Afghan insurgency, just as MACV did starting in 1965. That brillian idea really got us far, principally a heart-breaking memorial in polished black granite on The Mall in Washington. Insanity rears its ugly head here again.

Posted by: PrahaPartizan | Jun 21, 2006 11:34:47 PM | 20

RE" the polished back granite on The Mall. This administraton has probably already signed a lucrative no-bid contract with someone to construct the GWOT monument (does Halliburton do monuments?).

Posted by: Brian Boru | Jun 22, 2006 12:35:35 AM | 21

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