The Semantics of Victory

NATO holds ceremony closing Afghan mission

From the post:

NATO has held a ceremony in Kabul formally ending its war in Afghanistan, officials said, after 13 years of conflict and gradual troop withdrawals that have left the country in the grip of worsening conflicts with armed groups.

The event was carried out on Sunday in secret due to the threat of Taliban strikes in the Afghan capital, which has been hit by repeated suicide bombings and gun attacks over recent years.

Compare that description to the AP story that appeared in the New York Times under: U.S. and NATO Formally End War in Afghanistan:

The war in Afghanistan, fought for 13 bloody years and still raging, came to a formal end Sunday with a quiet flag-lowering ceremony in Kabul that marked the transition of the fighting from U.S.-led combat troops to the country’s own security forces.

In front of a small, hand-picked audience at the headquarters of the NATO mission, the green-and-white flag of the International Security Assistance Force was ceremonially rolled up and sheathed, and the flag of the new international mission called Resolute Support was hoisted.

I assume from the dates and locations described these two accounts are describing the same event. Yes?

Does “…hand-picked audience…” translate to “…carried out … in secret due to the threat of Taliban strikes…?”

Bias isn’t unique to the United States, press or other sources but it is easier for me to spot. Examples from other sources are welcome.

The inevitable loss in Afghanistan is another example of failing to understand the semantics and culture of an opponent. (See my comments about Vietnam in Rare Find: Honest General Speaks Publicly About IS (ISIL, ISIS))

Let me summarize that lesson this way: An opponent cannot be “defeated” until you understand what “defeat” means to that opponent. And, you are capable of inflicting your opponent’s definition of “defeat” upon them.

It’s a two part requirement: 1) Opponent’s understanding of “defeat,” and 2) Inflicting opponent’s understanding of defeat. Fail on either requirement and your opponent has not been defeated.

Semantics are as important in war as in peace, if not more so.

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