I thought last night’s PBS Frontline documentary on Afghanistan was excellent, if depressing. If you didn’t see it you can watch it here. The scene where the US marine starts to lose his temper with the people he is trying to protect makes you wince. Talking through a translator who spoke neither the local dialect nor English all that well–”I’m asking you for the fifth time”–the marine’s posture is impatient throughout and increasingly exasperated. He eventually resorts to an outright threat. The villagers’ not unreasonable response: What do want us to do? You have tanks and planes. If you can’t beat the Taliban, how do you expect us to?
This is counter-insurgency? Impossible to say, of course, how representative an encounter it was, but the situation looked all too plausible. You could not help but think that what we are asking of our forces–with little training and no aptitude for this kind of work–is just impossible.
If that isn’t enough to make you gloomy, this WashPo piece today might do the trick.