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June 23, 2011

Afghanistan, the Barking Dog

You might notice the Vice cover is from January of this year. Even so, the photo is one of the most telling I’ve seen on the Afghan war. It’s just one of those pictures  – especially today, on the heels of Obama’s speech – that puts the whole thing into perspective.

They named it the “Barking Dog Cover” in a sweep of understatement. It oozes futility and inequity from every pixel. All the elements are there: fear, tension, the unknown, the uselessness of pointing a gun at a dog to make it stop even though we fear there’s something behind that dog, behind that wall waiting to kill.  Still, it’s just a dog. Pretty amazing. A big problem with Afghanistan is that we have never known what was behind the wall. But we’ve killed the dog.

(photo: Ayman Oghanna)

  • Gasho

    It would be easy to kill the dog, though it would alert the neighbors and put you in a bad position. Once you’re engaged with this dog, though, you can’t walk away easily. Just because the soldier is a class above the dog in terms of being a better predator, that doesn’t mean the battle advances your goals.  It’s sticky and ugly and all you get at the end is a dead dog and lots of angry locals.

    Likewise, it’s easy for us to bomb Afghanistan, but it’s a no-win situation.  What is the goal? This seems like a war with no possibility of victory.  

    We’re not even fighting Afghanistan – we’re fighting a social war IN Afghanistan.. so there is no possibility of declaring victory EVER because there is nobody who’s authorized to surrender, no capital to take, no flag to capture.  Let’s say we negotiate with the Taliban.. so what?  Some Taliban leaders become rich, claim victory and stop fighting for now – but the hard liners change their name to Taliban-Al-Whateverthef#k and keep going.  You can’t win a war where you have to defeat every last person who holds an ideology.

    Unless this soldier has a pouch full of Scooby Snacks for Cujo here, this is going to end badly.

    • karen h

      I wonder if Scooby Snacks are listed in the funding bills.

      Great take on what/who we’re fighting. Makes me look at Vietnam analogies differently. At least the Viet Cong had a country.

  • http://profiles.google.com/ac.missias AC Missias

    Good pic, pithy analysis, especially “A big problem with Afghanistan is that we have never known what was behind the wall. But we’ve killed the dog.” sigh.

    Feels unbelievably futile, our involvement there, and also unlikely to end in any sort of satisfying way, even if we can avoid a rush for the final helicopters…

    (p.s.) is there any way to get formatted text in comments? couldn’t seem to get a decent quote via html or other common mark-up approaches…

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  • Gasho

    Since karen h references “Scooby Snacks” right under this removed post… and my post is missing and mentioned Scooby Snacks, I assume my post was deleted.

    Michael – can you review this??  I’m very disappointed.  I don’t think I said anything too crazy.  I’m a regular commenter and I really enjoy the Bag and the community.. I’m not a troll, wingnut, lunatic, or even a very extreme poster.. I’m a liberal commenter.  Who’s doing the reveiw/removal on the site, anyway???

  • http://www.bagnewsnotes.com Michael Shaw

    Gasho: I’m not sure what happened there. I’ll dive into the guts of Disqus and try and retrieve. So sorry. (I loved the comment, btw.)

  • http://www.bagnewsnotes.com Michael Shaw

    Gasho: Seems your comment was lined up in the comment system in a bevy of spam and got zapped by mistake. Apologies. Should be leading off thread now.

  • http://www.bagnewsnotes.com Michael Shaw

    Gasho: Seems your comment was lined up in the comment system in a bevy of spam and got zapped by mistake. Apologies. Should be leading off thread now.

  • Gasho

    Gracias, M. 

    Long Live BNN!

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