By Editor-in-chief
updated 12/12/2006 9:39:34 AM ET 2006-12-12T14:39:34

A 52-year-old Battle Staff Trainer to the Afghan National Army sat down at his computer and wrote, “Why does America seem to be ill-suited to conduct a protracted, messy and dirty little war?”

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With that, the Richland, Texas, native who goes by the name “Fabius Maximus” inspired a lengthy and detailed discussion on about fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq. The writer, who says he served 24 years on active duty in the U.S. military before retiring, is critical of U.S. military leadership. “I feel that the administration, specifically (Defense Secretary Donald) Rumsfeld is to blame for not allowing our commanders to address the post-conflict stability plan… I blame senior officers for not having the moral courage to say what is right until after they retire because they were more concerned about career advancement than national security.”

Fabius Maximus, who does not provide his real name or any evidence of his work in Afghanistan, has drawn praise and deference from his online community. “No need to apologize to us, Fabius,” wrote “denno” after Fabius Maximus cut short one exchange because it was time to go to “Indian territory for a few days.”

As for his original question, Fabius Maximus and other writers discussed several reasons why they believe the United States is ill-equipped to fighting an insurgency. “(It) is because Americans are honest and straight-forward people. They are ill-suited to fighting wars against an enemy who uses civilian populations as human shields and who recruit children to be human bombs,” wrote “civilservant.”

“… Any occupying army that had no invitation is fighting an uphill battle against nationalism,” wrote “AJH,” who offered nine other complicating factors for the U.S., including technology and modern communications that aid insurgencies.

For days, these electronic pen pals have discussed their shared concerns and potential solutions to U.S. problems on faraway battlefields, interrupted occasionally when Fabius says he needs to leave his computer for an assignment in the Afghan countryside. “Everyone, please be patient with me,” he writes.

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