The Absurdity of Afghanistan:

The Wasteful Potential Brilliance of Gen. David Petraeus

And the Reality of Ignoring Sun Tzu’s Art of War

“The intelligent warlord understands that entrance into conflict is senseless without an attitude of complete and total victory.”

Congratulations to Gen. David Petraeus on his recent appointment to head up our efforts in Afghanistan. That it is essentially a mission impossible should not be taken lightly by anyone, especially the forces that will be required to maintain this new position and the obscene waste of money that will accompany another hideously bad decision by the powers that be in Washington. It is a totally naïve and foolish declaration of insouciance again being perpetrated on the American people in the name of what has become a universal joke: democracy as defined by the United States. To quote Marlon Brando in On the Waterfront, “It’s a one- way ticket to Palookaville.”

“If plans do not include the destruction of the enemy, the warlord’s troops will sense this and develop a lack of morale. To maintain the support of the civilian population, the people must see actual gains becoming evident or they too will deny their support. The government will topple from within.”

Understanding the above statement in its entirety is essential prior to military action being taken, preemptive or not. It is essential that leadership keep a stern vigil on the desired intent of an action when contemplating the overthrow or takeover in any aspect, militarily or commercially of an objective. If that is not done, and the specifics of the objective are not clearly spelled out to the military, lackadaisical forays into enemy territory can only result in meaningless wastes of time and energy, certainly human resources regardless of appearance. Aside from a desire to get back home, the troops will do what is necessary to prevent their own demise and not what the leadership suggests is their reason for being in conflict in the first place. Gen. Petraeus did an enormous job in Iraq, but much to America’s chagrin, things are right back where they started because of the non-commitment to our own ideal rather than a corporate mentality that has no idea about maintaining victory other than a bottom line.

“Circumstances must be manipulated and employed as deception/no-deception. Never tell the enemy what you are planning and when you are going to put your plan into action. ”

So-called allies will only think about their participation in efforts to maintain their status quo, essentially only concerned with getting their annual cash handout from the United States while assuaging our leadership with their undying promise of eternal friendship; all this while our own people are suffering the torments of a lousy economy and disembowelment of the American way of life. This all leads to the increasing apathy and distrust of the government as more and more confusion ensues.

We are heavily involved in the current conflict without astute thinking or reasoning behind it, except for the potential of financial gain and unnecessary control of an alien culture that we sincerely do not know anything about. Remember Vietnam! Consider the initial errors of Desert Storm when completion of the goal was abrogated. The problem is not in our alleged lack of sincerity in helping the world to overcome it’s shortcomings, but rather in the childish notion that it is a requirement for everyone in the world to act and to behave like we do. We would all be better off had we constructed Wal-Marts and Halal-style McDonald’s rather than military bases while continuing to pump in reruns of the Three Stooges and The Honeymooners.

“Neighboring states will also see that he has no heart for the matter and take pleasure in setting traps that they normally would not attempt. They will look to humiliate him and see him falter. He cannot permit these conditions to arise.”

If leadership would have analyzed Afghanistan with more perception, they would have seen the absurdity of trying to quell a situation that does not need to be quelled. Besides, what is the actual objective? There is not one that is in fact spelled out. Sun Tzu would be the first to suggest that armed conflict is only required when negotiations have failed. But what negotiations were pursued? And, if in fact any were, then what was the premise? It is not enough to insist on intervention when nothing is to be gained except braggadocio. Russia found this out the hard way. Perhaps there is a super-secret national security reason for being in Afghanistan. If so, then it is only logical that full force be used to end the conflict most expeditiously. War is an extension of political diatribe that fails, but it should be used to gain an objective that will empower the efforts for viable profit aside from commercial advantage.

What our leadership does not understand, or perhaps they do but do not want to commit to entirely, is that in order for real goals to be attained, it is necessary to completely waste the enemy. This should be done without concern for world opinion while at the same time doing what is necessary to protect the indigenous, and in that manner, win their hearts and minds: a major component of fourth generation warfare philosophy. On the other hand, corporate takeovers tend to indicate more contemplation and forethought prior to their actions. Many people may get screwed, but very few lives are lost in monetary mergers. Are we that naïve to think that India and Pakistan will be kept out of this intervention ploy? Afghanistan has more encouragement from either side and our concept of nation building is destined to fail. Curiously, Iraq has now become a benefit to Iran because they see us as incapable of thinking other than financially. Others fight for an ideal, not a checkbook balance. There is a significant difference between losing a deal and having your head cut off.

As long as there is a need for whatever reason to conduct armed conflict, it is requisite that anyone contemplating overt activity become intuitively familiar with the profound wisdom of Sun Tzu’s Art of War. By doing so, one is assured to realize the absurdity of war and at the same time be inordinately prepared for victory.

Stephen F. Kaufman is the celebrated author of Sun Tzu’s Art of War and Musashi’s Book of Five Rings, among many others, selling in the hundreds of thousands worldwide. His work has been translated into multiple languages and he has earned the rank and title of Hanshi, 10th Dan, the highest position attainable in the martial arts world.

Stephen F. Kaufman can be found at: