I think I would be right in saying thatit is very rare for one side or the other to win decisively in aconventional war let alone in a guerrilla vs conventional forcessituation. In guerrilla wars it is usual for the local population tobe at least neutral if not hostile to the incoming forces. TheBritish found this to be the case in the Boer War over a century agoand it required huge numbers of troops and the removal of many of thelocal population to concentration camps to eventually secure victory. Nearly all wars end in some form of negotiation, even surprisinglyin situations of unconditional surrender. And yet governmentspersist in launching conventional forces against countries theyregard as enemies. Is it perhaps that politicians with no militaryexperience rely too heavily on generals for advice? In the face of ahandful of guerrillas it would be unnatural of military commanders toadmit that they are powerless. Men bred to fight are not likely tothink first of possible defeat.
It is therefore tempting to suggestthat one cuts out the war bit and goes straight to negotiations. That is of course simplistic but what it does suggest is thatconventional methods of dealing with an enemy by military might arenot enough. Guerrilla or asynchronous warfare perhaps requiresasynchronous tactics.
For example, Afghanistan being a largecountry would appear to be impossible to patrol with such intensityas to deny the Taliban any access to the people who I suspect at bestafter so many generations of conflict will not take sides. So do theTaliban have vulnerabilities? One would appear to be their relianceon using Pakistan for training camps. Should we not therefore makeevery effort to seal the border rather than waiting for them to todisperse across Afghanistan itself? We are told that the Talibanderive their income from the opium trade. If the West were todirectly compete to purchase the poppies driving up the price paid tofarmers, this would eventually deprive the Taliban of their income. What the West does with the poppies is immaterial. Guerrillas relyon mobility. There are now very high tech means of surveillancewhich could in effect make any movement visible. Study of the normalcommunication networks of local people must surely make it possibleto readily identify unusual movement by even small numbers of peoplewho are then more than likely to be guerrillas. Judiciously placedno go areas would keep the locals out and have the effect ofhighlighting guerrilla incursions. Adoption of these types ofstrategy would require re-allocation of resources rather thanadditional expenditure and might even be less expensive in the longrun than the present stalemate.
I further wonder how Israel after somany years of conflict with the Palestinian militias can be soconfident of success with this particular present operation and whythey think it will turn out so differently from all the previousIsraeli operations.