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Excerpts from the JRL E-Mail Community :: Founded and Edited by David Johnson

Date: Wed, 19 Sep 2001
From: "Scott A. Sonders" <usa11@usa.net>
Subject: Re:5450 Gentes/Soviets in Afghanistan

Mr. Johnson,

Often, when I read something in your daily Russian collection that I take
issue with, I do so quietly, mostly because the source of the frustration is
innocuous. However, what Mr. Gentes (September 18th) views as the
non-parallelism betwixt the former Soviet Afghan invasion and the potential
American one might likely prove dangerous in its dissemination.

He begins by suggesting that the advanced technology of USA armaments
minimalizes the comparison between the Soviet debacle and what he believes
will be the success of our troops. Well, I remember Viet Nam (I was a young
Intelligence officer then) too clearly to believe in Mr. Gentes' naivete. The
ghosts of 55,000 dead American boys might attest to the given that the
tactical superiority of any weapon is fully negated by adverse terrain. Our
best jet fighters can not well navigate treacherous mountain valleys or fly
into cavernous mazes.

Further, his belief that America's vast wealth will somehow provide an
impenetrable shield for our young men and women in the Hindu Kush is also
misdirected. A lack of dollars (rubles) did not make Soviet armor more easily
pierced by Afghani guns. I'd suggest Mr. Gente not rush into the face of
enemy fire believing that a thirty year old rifle makes a smaller hole in his
chest than a brand new rifle.

Then, with all due respect to my academic colleague, he suggests that because
we're not "imperialists" (a tough enough premise to prove) the many victims
of the Taliban will flock to our aid. If Mr. Gente's suggestion was credible,
why didn't the 400,000 Palestinians that were summarily expelled by the
Kuwaiti government in Desert Storm flock to the aid of the Americans against
Sadam Hussain?

And finally, my colleague believes that somehow our current military will do
what almost no one has ever done: learn from "the lessons of history." Mr.
Gente assumes that our current military will not repeat the same mistakes of
the Soviet invasion. Well, pretty much any invasion of an area larger than
Texas to ferret out a mere few thousand Taliban fanatics is doomed from the
outset. Aside from my previous points, there is the obvious: the Taliban are
a hodgepodge of malcontent Egyptians, Saudis, Palestians, et al. In a jalaba,
they are invisible, they are chameleons amongst the indigenous Afghans. I'll
end by saying that if one wishes to believe that the "right philosophy" will
somehow promote a victor, then maybe our Special Ops would be better served
in rooting out the Muslim extremists operating in Syria, Libya, Iraq, Egypt
(et al!) where they are funded by the same millions that funded our own Vice

Enough said.
Scott A. Sonders, Ph.D.
Department of Media Studies
Concordia University of Estonia

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