Fighting a proxy war in Afghanistan

By: Robert Lee - Contributing columnist

Don’t be under the illusion that we have seen the worst of terrorism, we have not. ISIS is degrading and coming apart on the battlefield since the rules of engagement have changed under Trump’s administration. We now have a president who truly wants to destroy these radical Islamic terrorists. Trump’s message to ISIS has been this: Do your worst, for I shall do mine. No doubt, ISIS is still a big problem but they are not the main problem in Afghanistan. Iran has been a thorn in America’s side for the last 38 years. We have fought them and their weapons in a proxy war, for all of those years.

I need to explain what proxy war is: that being a war in which a major power has instigated the war, but has not itself become involved in — just like with the Cold War between America and Russia. When it ended, it brought an end to many proxy wars through which the two sides struggled to exert their influence and power over one another. Even during those wars, arms of all types, small and large, were shipped in. This would have also included troops to train other factions that we would have been allied with. This would have also taken place with our opponents on the other side. At times, advisers on both sides would have become involved in the conflict, even though they would have not been considered combatants by those who had sent them in as advisers. An advisers role is said to be one-sided and that is to advise and nothing more. But that is not the truth. If those who you have been training are about to be overrun, adviser or not, you will pick up a weapon and defend yourself and others. That is a given response. Self-preservation means all. You will either fight or flee. Orders at that point would not matter.

Afghanistan has been flipped upside down. There have been reports that Russia and Iran are on the same page and are backing the Taliban fighters. Such a tangled web has been woven, with our troops in the middle. Russia fought against the Taliban for about 10 years between 1979 and 1989 before the old Soviet Union fell apart. For the Soviets, even as cruel as they were to the Afghan people, their troops were still decimated. This proxy war that we are now engaged in is with both Russia and Iran.

There are a few questions that I must ask before I can go further:If Putin put Trump into office as the Left thinks and tells everyone, then why are we fighting them (Russia) in Afghanistan? Why is Trump destroying their proxy, the Taliban? Are ISIS and Iran together or against one another? Think about this: My enemy’s enemy is my friend. ISIS has more in common with Iran than what there is in common between Iran and America.

Even before Russia stepped back into the picture in Afghanistan, our young men and women were being killed and maimed by Iran’s weapons. The evidence was found on the battlefield, this being weapons with Iranian markings on them. That brings out another question about the previous administration: Why did Obama give Iran back $150 billion with interest? A fool’s move at best. Now that money is being used to buy new weapons to kill our sons and daughters. Some of that money has also been sent to North Korea to fuel the dreams of the “little fat man” to destroy America. Our proxy wars seem endless. But at this time that is the nature of the beast.

Russia has re-inserted itself back into the thick of things. In June of 2017, there were reports that Russia was providing support to the Taliban in the form of weapons to fight the U.S. and Afghan troops and NATO. I have little to no doubt that the Russians have also sent in advisers. As we all know, history repeats itself and it is doing so at this moment. There has been a complete role reversal with the roles that the U.S. and Russia have played in Afghanistan in the past 30 years. During the ‘80s, the CIA sent in weapons to the Afghan rebels. They were fighting the Afghan communist government and Soviet troops who were backing the communist government. In the mind of Russia’s leadership by aiding the Taliban, now is the time for revenge and the opportunity to inflict casualties upon the U.S. For the Russians, this is true payback with what is taking place within this role reversal.

The Russian Communist Party has a very long memory. Many, still in power today within the Russian government, remember what it was like for their troops at the end of the war. The memory of when, with their tails between their legs, their troops retreated. This has never, and will never, sit well with the Russians.

Russia has long had interest in Afghanistan going back to the 18th century. During this time period, Russia had another adversary and that was Great Britain. Both wanted military and political control over Afghanistan. Wars have been fought for hundreds of years for control of this region that Russia sees as being strategic for the safety of its people. I hate to say it, but wars will continue to plague this region.

Syria is already in a proxy war between the U.S. and Russia. Now with the escalating presence of Russia in Afghanistan, the war-torn country could see another proxy war within its borders. That last sentence was foolish of me to have even written. The reason: were already at war with Russia and it does not matter what country the wars are taking place in, for it is American arms and Russian arms fighting each other.

Afghanistan, in the past two centuries, was called the “graveyard of empires.” The British and Russian governments both found this to be a bitter pill to swallow, but they did with the loss of thousands of their young men. The cost in money is hard to explain or understand. America has seen for itself in the past 16 years what others have experienced. It appears that the U.S. is stuck in the muck and mire of Afghanistan. Some have said that we are losing the war in Afghanistan. That’s a lie. The media does not wish for the truth to come out because it is not part of their agenda. I know it has been rough in the past years; no one said it was going to be easy. At this point, we do have leadership that is allowing our military to do its job. We can not just cut and run. If we do, then Afghanistan could revert back to what it was — that being a safe haven for terrorists to plot, plan, train and attack America again. It has been told to the world that the $50 billion that the U.S. is spending every year is not worth the benefits. Sure, Afghanistan is full of corruption and seems to be falling apart every day. But it’s not.

Proxy wars, unfortunately, will continue — nations against nations that wish to gain power at all costs. In some situations, proxy wars — if you feel the need to fight a war — are the least costly. To some nations, that is the way that they look at it. That is not the truth. Nations that allow wars of this manner to be fought on their ground are always the ones that are going to lose in the long run. Their people are displaced and, in time, will be sent into refugee status. The civilians are always going to be victimized by all of the participants involved. Most of the miseries of the world are because of war. When the wars are over, nobody remembers what they were fought for. Such is the mannerism of man.

Robert Lee is a concerned citizen and U.S. Marine veteran who owns and operates Rockingham Guns and Ammo. His column appears here each Saturday.

Robert Lee

Contributing columnist