T Nation

'This is What Winning Looks Like' Documentary


With only months left until the U.S. withdraws from Afghanistan, the war-torn country's security forces seem nowhere near ready to take over their own security â?? that's the devastating message of "This Is What Winning Looks Like," a new documentary British war correspondent Ben Anderson produced for VICE.



Very informative, thanks for posting.


"Winning" in Afganstan meant making the country a place where there is no easy, safe, base for OBL to train terrorists for the next attack on the US or the West. Large-scale terrorists training requires a state sponsor (or at least a state shelter).

This has been accomplished, for now. Constant interferance will be necessary, as the disease will pop up from time-to-time.

Trying to make it a civilized country was an impossible dream without taking out Iran and nuertering Pakistan, neither of which the American public had the stomach for.


"Winning" in Afganstan meant making the country a place where there is no easy, safe, base for OBL to train terrorists for the next attack on the US or the West. Large-scale terrorists training requires a state sponsor (or at least a state shelter).

This has been accomplished, for now"

WHEW...Thank goodness, because there is no where else on Planet Earth our enemies can train like they did
in Afghanistan.


You're right. We might as well just surrender and not try to contain the terrorists because it's hard. We should just convert to Islam and cut off our daughters' clits/vaginal lips as they demand. Also, everyone kill a Jew and a Catholic.

Of course there are other countries that might shelter terrorists, but the list is suprising finite: Iran, Yemen, various lawless areas in Africa.

Each area has challenges for countries that are potential targets as well as challenges for Al-Quada or like-minded groups.

And each area is the subject of intense military pressure/targeting.


I think you could add several other countries to that list that maybe do not wholesale endorse Al-Queda but there are large areas that are friendly with them. I think Pakistan and some of the other middle eastern countries would fall into that group.


I'm just curious. The U.S. gives Israel about $3 billion a year in aid, which doesn't ever have to be paid back. What exactly is it that we're getting in the form of a return on that investment? Other than propping up the lone legitimate democracy in the region, what tangible return is that $3 billion getting us? At what point does Israel take responsibility for its own security and safety? At what point does Israel become self-reliant?

I know that it is a large reason as to why the U.S. is the intended target of so much terrorist activity. What do you think would happen to the U.S. if we used that $3 billion a year to further fortify our ability to protect ourselves from terrorists here, rather than preemptively take the fight to them halfway around the world? What sort of impact on the "war on terror" would seeking to disengage from the sort of activity on Muslim lands that clearly inflames these terrorists have? Are we really seeking the best avenue to winning what is essentially an unwinnable war?

After all, how do you defeat "terrorism"? It's a war tactic. Trying to defeat it is like trying to defeat the idea of flanking maneuvers or the concept of air superiority.


Do you honestly think Israel isn't self-reliant? That aid money is to keep Israel buying products to put in the hands of their military, it's also the only nation to use as a proxy against practically any nation in its surrounding area. A lot of aid money really comes down to getting nations to play ball with America and side with our interests, it also maintains influence.

That depends on what you consider defeat, war isn't a sporting event. In sporting events a team can legitimately win or lose, armed conflict can last indefinitely. Also, nothing is going to stop terrorist organizations from attacking anyone. Especially not an Islamic terrorist organization. Blaming things on the West and Israel is just an easy way to gain support for their goals, they'd continue to attack regardless.




The American public doesn't have the stomach to win wars and our politicians don't have the guts to put the country ahead of their career. Winning a war to politicians in this era is some bullshit withdrawal and racking up support for your party with little victories.


If we give aid to Israel so that they can then turn around and buy military products from us with that cash, how does that represent any sort of tangible return on said investment? And how is that self-sufficiency? If I were producing a good and I gave you money so you could afford to buy that good from me, under the assumption that you could not otherwise buy it or produce it yourself, that's hardly a profit for me and it surely isn't an example of self-reliance on your part.

Also, it seems to me that only a fool would continue to do the same thing over and over without examining if it works or not. While I agree that simply distancing ourselves from Israel is not going to end terrorist activities targeted toward the U.S., we also don't give ourselves a chance to find out what sort of positive impact that sort of a distancing could have for us. I simply wonder if we would see a reduction in that sort of activity aimed at us, or if we would gain some sort of added diplomatic currency with the other 15 or so countries in the Middle East if we weren't in active collusion with their sworn enemy.

While I agree that Israel is at least partially self-reliant, I think the fact that we give them so much aid each year dispels the notion that they are completely self-reliant. Otherwise, why would they need the aid? If they don't need it, then why do we give it to them and why do they accept it? I wonder what would happen to Israel if we did not give them the money to buy military materiel from us. What would happen to Israel if they had to fund the protection of their country out of their own pockets instead of accepting what amounts to charity from us.


The ISI is the equivalent of the American CIA, UBL was in contact with them while he's living in Pakistan. That goes beyond friendly.


I really don't understand the concept of limited warfare. If we are going to put our boys at risk and expend trillions and trillions of dollars fighting these wars, why handicap ourselves the way we do? We should be dragging dead Taliban bodies through the streets as warnings to all ye who cross our paths, going after women and children and anyone else in our way, we should just blow everything up and wipe entire fucking villages off the map when we know that Taliban operate there. I think we should make Sherman's March look like an MLK Jr outing to the Reflecting Pool.

And if we can't stomach that sort of thing, then why even bother in the first place? It reminds me of that scene in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. There's no rules in a knife fight.

That being said, I don't see how a war against a particular tactic can EVER be won. Can we defeat the Taliban? Sure. Can we defeat al Qaeda? Sure. But can we stop every single person with the motivation to attack us from doing so? Not even close. I could drive down to SF right now with an RPG and a lawn chair, set up shop in the back of my truck and just pull over on Highway 101 next to SFO Airport and take out a 747 right now if I wanted to, all from the comfort of the bed of my truck. It's a mindset that we're talking about here. How do you stop a mindset from proliferating?


God I hope you stick around PWI. Agree or disagree I don't even care at this point. This is good stuff.


This is GOLD


I don't think pop up from time to time is correct. The video suggests after we leave, the Taliban will be able to come back and do what they want. The Afghan "police" and the ANA are not up to the task. It seems we have accomplished nothing.


Agreed. Plus, "pop up" doesn't quite cover it when considering that it means the explicit possibility that these animals could set things up to carry out more terrorist attacks like flying jets into buildings or bombing the local Starbucks.


I also don't understand what you mean by saying that Israel acts as a proxy against other nations in the area. How is it that they act as a proxy? There isn't a single Israeli soldier fighting in Iraq or Afghanistan. We can't let them fight there because they would be a complete detriment to all of our efforts at rebuilding those nations. The fact is that we cannot accomplish any of our goals in Iraq or Afghanistan with the help of Israelis. How does that help us out at all?


I agree with you somewhat. However, it doesn't matter what we think. Politicians make the rules, officers and enlisted guys have to follow them. Did you know that guys out in Iraq and Afghanistan could have been charged with murder for doing their job? If they shot an insurgent and people take their weapons and say the evil invaders killed their innocent neighbor/friend/family member that guy would literally have to go explain himself to the JAG guys. If he can't explain it he'd be getting tried for murder.

Things are always happening whether it's well known or not, I think it's just a reality of life. But this country has gone to shit over the years, wars are 95% political and 5% actually trying to accomplish something. Start it, take credit for success and then quietly close it out with crippling ROEs so you can declare a hollow victory. Wars basically just get dragged out until the next guy can get blamed for all the failures since he's in office.

In Iraq village elders would help out the insurgents, then our guys skull stomped the insurgents and the village elders would think it's about time they sided with a winner. It all comes down to the indigenous population and the politicians strategy has been to tell the indig population in Iraq and Afghanistan "fuck you, see you later". Even in the early days of the Afghanistan war when the battle was being fought in the mountains of Tora Bora the warlords getting paid by the CIA doubted Americas ability to defeat AQ and didn't offer much support to them, their only goal was to fight tribal war[shoot and loot]. Once America started decimating AQ in a place the Soviets didn't earn a single victory the Mujahideen actually joined the team and was willing to fight. People there respect strength, projecting power in the region and a willingness to improve the daily life of the average indigenous person will do a lot to stop that mindset from existing.


Because warfare is not a goal in and of itself.

It is, at least in a somewhat civilized society, a means to an end.

Some means make achieving certain ends impossible, which is why soldiers face poilitical constraints.

Admittedly, when politicians have no clear goals and are trying to appear to be all nice and shiny, it might suck to be a soldier.