NEW ULM - A retired U.S. Army Colonel turned author with local roots warned of future Middle East insurgencies during a multimedia program on the war in Afghanistan Thursday at the New Ulm Public Library.
Peter Mansoor, who grew up in New Ulm and is now the Ohio State University Military History chairman, said there will be many insurgencies over the next century.
"Many people may not know it, but India, the world's largest democracy and a big ally of ours, faces a huge Maoist (communist ideology) insurgency in the eastern and southern part of the country," Mansoor said.
He questioned U.S. military drone strikes from Pakistani bases and called for a tougher military stance on that country.
"Pakistan is not our ally. They play a double game. We must play hard ball with them," Mansoor said. "They use our Afghan War supply routes to squeeze U.S. aid for allowing them to be used," he said.
He emphasized the importance of the U.S. not completely pulling out of Afghanistan.
"There will be severe global ramifications if the U.S. loses in Afghanistan," Mansoor said. "It's one campaign in a larger struggle against al-Qaida."
He stressed the importance the U.S. supporting Afghan security forces to keep them from falling apart and in an effort to secure peace there.
"Afghanistan is sitting on great mineral deposits, but you need peace to get at them," Mansoor said. "More troops are needed to make that happen. President Obama announced the withdrawal due to this being an election year, causing NATO forces to do the same. The number of troops matters. You can't win over there only with high-technology."
Mansoor said U.S. mistakes in Iraq and Afghanistan included a failure to appreciate cultural and political factors of other nations and to encourage learning other languages.
"We managed to repeat many of the mistakes we made in Vietnam because our political and military leaders forget nearly every lesson of that conflict," he added.
Mansoor said the winning side will gain the public's trust and confidence, deliver essential services and provide a basic quality of life, which takes energy, resources, and time.
"We need to understand that Afghanistan is a very tribal society, largely illiterate and its current main export is poppy seeds that become very valuable after they are refined into opium."
Mansoor signed his books, "GI Offensive in Europe" and "Baghdad at Sunrise." Later this year, his latest work, "Surge," will be released.
(Fritz Busch can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org).