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War in Afghanistan: We're training poodles in a land of pit bulls

June 30, 2011 | 12:57 pm

Kabulhotel Mark Twain said it best: "It's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog."

So true. But I think it means the U.S. is going to need a new dog in Afghanistan.

Why? From The Times' story Thursday describing a Taliban assault on the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul:

Nazeer Amiri, an ex-cop out for a leisurely late dinner with friends at a hilltop hotel, could hardly believe his eyes.

Insurgents had burst into the lushly landscaped complex in Kabul, spraying bullets and setting off bombs. Amiri had already seen several bloodied diners crumple to the ground. Afghan police arrived, and he frantically shouted at them to shoot the assailants.

They ran away and left us there!" he recounted, still incredulous after the nearly all-night siege ended early Wednesday, leaving at least 19 attackers and victims dead. "I saw some of the security forces flee with their weapons. I was begging them to give me their guns, so I could shoot back."

Great. In a land full of pit bulls, we're training French poodles.

I mean, I know the tactics in Afghanistan have been described as "unconventional warfare." I just didn't know that meant that when the shooting starts, the strategy is to run away.

And it's not like the guests were a wedding party from Bakersfield at a Motel 6. As the story says:

Among the guests at the hotel on a warm June night were foreign and Afghan officials planning to attend a conference on the transfer of security responsibilities to Afghan forces.

But the assault provided a reminder of Afghan forces' continuing reliance on the firepower of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force. Elite New Zealand troops helped quell the attack, New Zealand defense officials said, and helicopter-borne snipers killed three insurgents who had taken refuge on the hotel roof.

First of all, I didn't even know New Zealand had elite troops. Why does New Zealand need special forces? Are they afraid Australia is going to invade and try to steal all their sheep?

And second, how come every time we fight one of these wars (see Vietnam), our local allies are seemingly the ones with more quit than fight?

You read the history books and you'd think every man in Afghanistan (and plenty of the women) are savage fighters.  So why is it that a handful of insurgents fight to the death, while our local troops run away and let the foreign cavalry ride to the rescue?

The answer:  The insurgents are fighting for a cause; the local forces are fighting for a paycheck.

This strategy of turning the fight over the local forces didn't work in Vietnam, and it won't work in Afghanistan. All it's going to do is get more Americans killed. 

Withdraw 33,000 U.S. troops by next summer

How about we withdraw all American troops by next summer, and wish the Afghans good luck?

RELATED:

Attackers in uniform add to anxiety in Afghanistan

California lawmakers criticize Obama's Afghanistan drawdown

Pakistan's defense minister tells U.S. to stop using drone base

Support our troops -- by employing them when they return home

--Paul Whitefield

Smoke and flames rise from the Intercontinental Hotel during a battle between NATO-led forces and Taliban insurgents. Credit: Reuters
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