Why We Are Bogged Down in Afghanistan

Last Friday, I spoke at the Eagle Council in St. Louis, where both the speaker roster and the audience were full of stalwart, indomitable patriots. One of the patriots there was Mark Schneider, President of Gen IV Nuclear Inc. in Chesapeake, Virginia, who served for twenty years iand was on the ground in Iraq and Kuwait.  He offered a disquieting insight into an important but overlooked reason why our lengthy military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan have borne so little fruit.

Schneider was in the United States military from 1998 to 2018, years during which the primary threat that our nation faced was the global jihad, which was, after all, the reason why we had our forces in Iraq and Kuwait, as well as Afghanistan, in the first place. We had a long and fascinating conversation, but the most important takeaway was this: I asked him, “In all that time, from 1998 to 2018, were you given one class, or even one lesson, or were recommended one book, anything at all, that discussed Islam’s doctrine of warfare against and the subjugation of unbelievers?

No. Not one.

Instead, all his training revolved around not offending Afghans’ cultural sensitivities. Schneider went for detention operations; his cultural training included subjects such as “What is Ramadan?” He and other American personnel were told not to eat or drink during the day, even though none of them were Muslim. They were allowed to eat and drink during the day when they were on military bases, but not off; American personnel were discouraged from consuming food while off military installations.

The other thing that Schneider and other American troops were taught was that if they were anything other than Muslim or Christian, they had to say they were Muslim or Christian, because, they were told, the Afghans “didn’t like other religions.” They were only allowed to say they were adherents of the religions of the God of Abraham, although of course they were not to mention Judaism.

They were also told not to wave at people with their left hand or ever touch anyone with that hand, as it was considered unclean. Also, men were warned not to speak directly to women.

That was about it. Nothing, nothing whatsoever, on why the enemy was fighting against us. Nothing about how the enemy viewed the world and what he was trying to achieve. The first rule of warfare is “Know your enemy,” and our troops have been and are woefully ill-equipped in that regard. They know how not to wave at the enemy, but they know nothing about his motives and goals.

That’s why we are negotiating with the Taliban now, as if we could come to some kind of viable agreement with them. This is a ridiculous idea, and amounts to rewarding Islamic terrorism. The Taliban was the most prolific and deadliest group during Ramadan this year, while those negotiations were going on. And yet the Afghan government recently released 490 Taliban (Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan) fighters and commanders from its prisons in June, as part of a goodwill gesture to persuade the bloodthirsty jihadis to come to stay at the negotiating table.

The desire to negotiate with the Taliban and the complete absence of any training in the enemy ideology both proceed from the same willful ignorance, an ignorance to which far too many people at the upper levels of our government are still committed. Mark Schneider’s story ought to be taken as a cautionary tale (although it will almost certainly not be). During World War II, our soldiers were all given instruction in the Nazi ideology, so that they knew the magnitude of the evil they were facing, and would understand the mindset of those they were facing on the battlefield. For the last twenty years, by contrast, our troops have been flying blind, going into highly dangerous situations without having a clue of what they were up against.

It’s inexcusable.

Pamela Geller is the President of the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI), publisher of The Geller Report and author of the bestselling book, FATWA: Hunted in America, as well as The Post-American Presidency: The Obama Administration’s War on America and Stop the Islamization of America: A Practical Guide to the Resistance. Follow her on Twitter or Facebook.

Last Friday, I spoke at the Eagle Council in St. Louis, where both the speaker roster and the audience were full of stalwart, indomitable patriots. One of the patriots there was Mark Schneider, President of Gen IV Nuclear Inc. in Chesapeake, Virginia, who served for twenty years iand was on the ground in Iraq and Kuwait.  He offered a disquieting insight into an important but overlooked reason why our lengthy military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan have borne so little fruit.

Schneider was in the United States military from 1998 to 2018, years during which the primary threat that our nation faced was the global jihad, which was, after all, the reason why we had our forces in Iraq and Kuwait, as well as Afghanistan, in the first place. We had a long and fascinating conversation, but the most important takeaway was this: I asked him, “In all that time, from 1998 to 2018, were you given one class, or even one lesson, or were recommended one book, anything at all, that discussed Islam’s doctrine of warfare against and the subjugation of unbelievers?

No. Not one.

Instead, all his training revolved around not offending Afghans’ cultural sensitivities. Schneider went for detention operations; his cultural training included subjects such as “What is Ramadan?” He and other American personnel were told not to eat or drink during the day, even though none of them were Muslim. They were allowed to eat and drink during the day when they were on military bases, but not off; American personnel were discouraged from consuming food while off military installations.

The other thing that Schneider and other American troops were taught was that if they were anything other than Muslim or Christian, they had to say they were Muslim or Christian, because, they were told, the Afghans “didn’t like other religions.” They were only allowed to say they were adherents of the religions of the God of Abraham, although of course they were not to mention Judaism.

They were also told not to wave at people with their left hand or ever touch anyone with that hand, as it was considered unclean. Also, men were warned not to speak directly to women.

That was about it. Nothing, nothing whatsoever, on why the enemy was fighting against us. Nothing about how the enemy viewed the world and what he was trying to achieve. The first rule of warfare is “Know your enemy,” and our troops have been and are woefully ill-equipped in that regard. They know how not to wave at the enemy, but they know nothing about his motives and goals.

That’s why we are negotiating with the Taliban now, as if we could come to some kind of viable agreement with them. This is a ridiculous idea, and amounts to rewarding Islamic terrorism. The Taliban was the most prolific and deadliest group during Ramadan this year, while those negotiations were going on. And yet the Afghan government recently released 490 Taliban (Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan) fighters and commanders from its prisons in June, as part of a goodwill gesture to persuade the bloodthirsty jihadis to come to stay at the negotiating table.

The desire to negotiate with the Taliban and the complete absence of any training in the enemy ideology both proceed from the same willful ignorance, an ignorance to which far too many people at the upper levels of our government are still committed. Mark Schneider’s story ought to be taken as a cautionary tale (although it will almost certainly not be). During World War II, our soldiers were all given instruction in the Nazi ideology, so that they knew the magnitude of the evil they were facing, and would understand the mindset of those they were facing on the battlefield. For the last twenty years, by contrast, our troops have been flying blind, going into highly dangerous situations without having a clue of what they were up against.

It’s inexcusable.

Pamela Geller is the President of the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI), publisher of The Geller Report and author of the bestselling book, FATWA: Hunted in America, as well as The Post-American Presidency: The Obama Administration’s War on America and Stop the Islamization of America: A Practical Guide to the Resistance. Follow her on Twitter or Facebook.