Protracted Warfare

Why protract a war? [...] The enemy is strong and we are weak, and the danger of subjugation is there. But [...] the enemy's advantage can be reduced and his shortcomings aggravated by our efforts. On the other hand, our advantages can be enhanced and our shortcomings remedied by our efforts. Hence, we can win final victory and avert subjugation, while the enemy will ultimately be defeated.
Mao-Tse-tung, "On Protracted War"

The essence of protracted warfare doctrine is not to prolong a war out of respect for some mythical oriental principle, but rather to prolong it in order to avoid defeat.

We can conclude, then, that generally, the stronger side in a war seeks to shorten the duration of the conflict, while the weaker side generally tries to lengthen it in order to increase opportunities for a favorable outcome. [...] The stronger side is more apt to seek a clear beginning and ending to a war as well. The stronger side, not necessarily always the aggressor, usually wants to limit the expenditure of means (including time) in the accomplishment of its ends. [...] as a result, we must be careful when we make assumptions about duration in war.
Robert R. Leonhard, "Fighting by Minutes"

Combine this with what I wrote about repertoires and you have a full explanation of why the stupid conflict in Afghanistan is in its eleventh year already.

The best way out of such a conflict with such a protracting opponent is modesty in demands and a negotiated end to the conflict.

The second best way is to simply go home - if you can.

The third best way is to fool the enemy about the relative strength, provoke him into entering the last  stage of conflict and dare a general offensive. This is applicable to Afghanistan as well, but apparently way too much strategy for our dumb alliance.

S Ortmann


  1. There is no achievable U.S. goal in the Afghan war, is there? What would that be? A colony? A protectorate? They don't build skull pyramids like the Mongols did, which would be the only way to end that war. It's like Napolean at the gates of Moscow - nobody brings him the keys and declares surrender.

    Thing is, now Afghanistan is more important than it ever was, because of China. The U.S. can't afford to leave any more.

    Btw, a little far-off war, just big enough to provide for the industry, to let the generals explore new toys, to send off the unruly young men and harden their character is good for a nation! ;-)

  2. How about the original objective?
    Demand the TB give up support to AQ and prove it by handing out AQ members.

    The original job would be done if that was achieved, for there's no indication of TB themselves being a threat to "us" outside of AFG and neighbouring countries (none of them being part of "us").

    1. The differentiation between TB and AQ is artificial in first place. It's the MB behind, or in general the petro-money fed big I. They declared several centuries ago what their goals are. They are a treat - unless you love to be a slave. BTW. It makes sometime sense to protract a conflict, just to give your opponent the chance to die.

    2. @rosomak: I am perfectly sure you did not mean "treat". :-)

      I personally don't rate them higher as a threat than a moron I met on a road recently. That guy was a real threat.

  3. Reminds me of the U.S. Revolutionary War. George Washington wanted to preserve his forces and the British wanted to get it over with.

  4. To me there are 2 wars in Afghanistan. The first one was to get rid of Bin Laden and his group. That was done, they either were captured, killed or escaped. So al-Qaeda was basically broken up there. We all know why we missed Bin Laden.

    This is the second war of Afghanistan just like there were two Iraq wars. This one is for reasons unknown to us all. Those reason were drawn up in some room somewhere in some country.

    Done so by the ultra powerful so they could project their controlling powers for the future. They needed something, was it the rare earth minerals in the western part of the country? Who knows?

    So when someone talks about the war in Afghanistan I ask which one are you talking about?