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February 25, 2011

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Danube of Thought

This story just couldn't be sadder; Kerry's question about being the last man to die for this comes to mind.

And yet we continue to put absolutely extraordinary troops in the field, and the perform magnificently. I really, really do feel for those poor bastards.

jwest

The answer to Afghanistan lies in good old fashion, unapologetic imperialism.

Totally remove any Afghan leadership, establish Kandahar and Kabul as mini-kingdoms and build outposts to support the plundering of the natural resources to fund everything. Afghans who want to live inside the boarders of the kingdoms as subjects in a secular, western style, English speaking society are welcomed; all others are banished to the “outlands”. A date for Afghan independence would be established for 100 years after the takeover. Give them something to look forward to.

It’s time to take this sole-superpower thing out for a spin.

Melinda Romanoff

If the dopes would just open up a morphine market and buy it all for medical use, a lot of the problems would correct themselves.

Melinda Romanoff

I meant "opiates", sorry.

Captain Hate

O/T Sully gets pw3ned again in the LUN. Does The Atlantic have any credibility left to squander?

Rob Crawford

Why do we insist there be a single Afghan government? If the people have no loyalty to a central government, find out what they do have loyalty to and work within those bounds.

If that means a dozen tribal kingdoms where Afghanistan once stood, well, so be it.

Ignatz

Rubble makes no trouble, especially in Kabul.
You can't build a nation out of people who don't want and have never wanted to be a nation in the sense we use the word.

Rob Crawford

Rubble makes no trouble...

That's not my memory of the Flintstones.

Dave (in MA)

Wow, that's a lengthy pile of excerpts. I may have to add this Maguire fellow to the narcisolator.


anduril

It's think-outside-the-box time--that is, outside the box of Neocon ideology. What country is most closely tied to Afghanistan, historically, ethnically, and culturally? You guessed right--Iran! Anyone think that Iran has a major stake in a stable Afghan region? Right again! One more question: what country is the major source of instability and terrorism in the region? Bingo--Pakistan, a country that has consistently backed the Taliban, Iran's hated enemy (in 1998 Iran nearly went to war against the Taliban but was restrained by the UN an the US).

Back in September, David Ignatius presented at least some of the reasons why a US-Iranian partnership re Afghanistan makes sense: The U.S. should test Iran's resolve to stabilize Afghanistan. While Ignatius fails to discuss the historical and geo-political reasons that this type of partership would make sense for all concerned--while tactfully refraining from listing all our previous squandered opportunities--he does point out that 1) the Iranians have consistently put out feelers for cooperation with the US re Afghanistan and 2) such cooperation could have beneficial effects re Iran's nuclear program as well:

Advocates argue that stabilizing Afghanistan is a strategic priority and that the United States should seek help wherever it can. They also argue that rather than undermining talks on the nuclear issue, contacts on Afghanistan could be an important confidence-building measure.

Iran has a huge stake in stabilizing Afghanistan, as well as in controlling the Sunni radicalism that Pakistan breeds for export. An Iran engaged in Afghanistan is also an Iran less engaged elsewhere. An Iran engaged with the US in a cooperative venture is an Iran is an Iran that would be more inclined to consider reasonable US interests. And an Iran engaged with Afghanistan is an Iran with fewer resources to expend elsewhere.

Neocons will, of course, reject this idea out of hand, but maybe it's time for some reality--as opposed to blindly ideologically--based strategerizing. Pakistan is a loss as a strategic partner, but Iran could fill the bill.

One swine's suggestion.

MarkO

Handicapping our soldiers in this way is criminal.

Appalled

OK -- This is off topic, but the LUN is a fascinating look at what Chris Christie has been doing in NJ, which, of course should have resonance to folks in Wisconsin and (soon) Ohio.

Danube of Thought

Go back and read Gen. Chuck Krulak's September, 2009 letter to George Will. You can find it easily with Google. (I haven't yet found it in a place that lets me link or cut-and-paste.)

sbw

The way to win is to put out good ideas, explain why they make sense, then stand up for them at every turn. Whether now or later, the seeds planted will grow when the soil gets ripe. Individual interconnectedness helps fertilize the soil.

The problem at home is that Social Studies classes are bullsh*t mostly taught by teachers who never learned why some social ideas are worthwhile and others come back to bite you in the ass. As a result, foreign affairs regresses to might-makes-right cold war status in a post-national, post-cold-war world.

These times are exasperating because sound ideas subject to individual verification are more accessible than ever but the habit to consider them seems not yet important to those who need it most -- like pencil-headed MSM pundits.

anduril

I'm appalled that anyone would go OT when this topic is so important.

boris

I'm appalled ...

No ... you're andruil. Appalled is a completely different commenter.

Ignatz

--An Iran engaged with the US in a cooperative venture is an Iran is an Iran that would be more inclined to consider reasonable US interests.--

Nonsense. That substitutes an even worse and more stupidly starry-eyed idealism and policy for our present awful ones. It is precisely a hopelessly naive notion like that which is why America is so bad and should almost never play the clever game of duplicitous or counter-intuitive alliances; we never pull it off and we always get took because the old world shamans and autocrats are always five steps ahead of us. Especially with this set of clowns in the WH.
We are good at forthrightly smashing our enemies and should restrict ourselves to that.

LouP

And all this is because in the 2008 campaign season, the Dems political fervor had reached a fever pitch of "NOT Bush!" I.e., Iraq was the "wrong war;" we took our "eye off the ball" (UBL -heard anything about his imminent demise or capture lately?), etc. - was the Democrats political rhetoric.

Captain Hate

UBL has been worm food for almost a decade.

Rick Ballard

Appalled,

Thanks for the link to the Bai piece. He didn't sugarcoat the core problem:

“I’ve tried to look at this objectively, and I just don’t know of any other option,” says Richard Keevey, who served as budget director for a Democratic governor, Jim Florio, and a Republican governor, Tom Kean. “You couldn’t tax your way out of this.”

The fact that "taxing your way out" of the Federal deficit would require a 100% increase in personal taxes makes the probability that we will sustain the effort (especially with very crappy ROE) in Afghanistan very low. There has never been much potential for a positive ROI in Afghanistan and I see no reason to believe that will change.

I just hope we spray the poppy fields with something that will last a few years before we leave.

Frau Nachwievor

The WaPo review at the end of TM's post shows that there have been some positive changes since West finished and published his book. IIRC West was not supportive of our being in Iraq(The Strongest Tribe). He documented the bravery of our fighting forces, mainly in Fallujah.

Danube of Thought

I thought, back in late 2003 and early 2004, that when the Taliban had been crushed and Al Qaeda no longer had a prayer of operating camps there, that it was mission accomplished. Had they ever sought to re-establish training camps they could have been taken out immediately, the same way the Taliban were.

Bush overstepped a bit, but he still had a chance to get out without the US appearing to suffer a humiliating defeat, which sure seems likely now.

And I agree that Obama got into this for all the wrong reasons, and a lot of good people are paying the price. And the paying is not over yet.

matt

The facilitators for the Taliban are the same people now openly against us in Pakistan, the ISI. Until we address this, under the current politico-military conditions, there is no chance of winning.

The unholy alliance of the Taliban, drug lords, ISI, and corrupt Afghan officials gives us an approximate 0% chance of success.

I keep on reading of cash for work projects that are the equivalent of digging holes and filling them up again. Yes, there are water projects, but the most likely outcome is a spike in poppy growth next season.

We always beat the Taliban when we face them, but they are "no see ums". The cost per kill has to be among the highest in modern warfare. 500# bombs, the very few times they are released by command authority, are highly inefficient.

And all the while the clock ticks towards July, when Dugout Barry wants to begin withdrawing troops.The Tollybons know this and are biding their time.

Best thing for us to do is let Pok-e-ston find their own way and withdraw every penny of support except rice and grain for the people.The Iranians are no friends in this battle.

anduril

a quick google, "iran help to u.s. in afghanistan," yields plenty of food for thought.

glasater

Holdover poppies from WWII in a wheat field in our county. As I mention in the photo tag--an old timer said they were raised for the medicinal value and protected by military.
River of poppies 4602

The poppies are very hard to eradicate and burning the fields sets the seed.

Danube of Thought

This is where this president absolutely must draw the line:

Pakistan today defied intense American pressure by putting on trial a CIA agent accused of killing two men in Lahore.

Raymond Davis, a former special forces officer, was due to appear in court in Lahore as thousands of Islamists turned out chanting slogans calling for him to receive the death penalty.

Davis, who says he acted in self-defence when he shot the men on a busy street last month, has been charged with double murder and faces possible execution.

The case has triggered a major diplomatic row between America a

I would hope that every last Paki has been informed that if they touch a hair on this guy's head they ought to fear for their very lives. But I am doubtful. Here's the whole thing.

matt

DoT

That was my blog the other day. We have been shadow boxing with the ISI for the past 10 years. When Bin Laden crossed into Pakistan they scarfed him right up, as they did with the entire Tollybon leadership.

ISI facilitators and senior personnel sit in on the meetings of the Qetta Shura and are directing people like the Haqqanis and even Hekmatyr.

Pakistani officers have been killed in action in Afghanistan, and it is covered up. The whole damn thing makes me sick.

anduril

We have been shadow boxing with the ISI for the past 10 years.

Luv that "we." Does that mean "Bushie," or does the buck stop elsewhere for him? And the rest of his admin?

Best Defense

donald

I totally agree with mr hate. Dead dead dead.

donald

And ms romanoff

narciso

This story is quite old, when Brezinski set up the first pipeline to the Mujahadeen, Akhtar arranged for the funding to go primarily to his favored groups, Raisul's Abu Sayyaf, Hekmatyar's HIG, Younis Khalis and Haquanni, over Massoud, Gilani and the like.
These were the folks Charlie Wilson was counseled to associate with. Now when the late Gust Avrokotos, tried to investigate
the matter, who stood in the way, but the likes of Vincent Cannistraro, fmr. Vice Consul Jiddah, 1975 (THat is the way that George Crile's biography, described it.

Sandy Daze

In today's world, the United States needs a constantly refreshed supply of troops with current combat experience. OODA loop TTP validation, new equipment validation, battle hardening, and perhaps most importantly, actual killing of the enemy, are all desirable and achievable goals.

In most of the world, such engagement against enemy cells should and must be done with limited or no public notice.

In Afg, I believe we should strip away all of the happy horse-feathers: the nation-building, the PRTs the NGOs the multi-national command relationships and the joint operations etcetera, and solely concentrate on protection of a few key locations (Kabul, Kandahar etc) and then employ tactical hunter-killer units to kill enemy combatants. Open up the ROE to give the H-K teams the maximum flexibility, strip out the multitudinous C2 layers, reduce the footprint.

As to Pak, we now see what happens when we backed away from Musharaf--he may have been a bastard, but he was our bastard. Well, Davis has his own issues and reading between the lines, I am not sure the USA should allow its foreign policy to be dictated again by a contractor from a company that proved itself so adept at creating foreign policy train wrecks (re Fallajua 1 & 2, Nisour Square, etc).

Best way out for Davis is to lower the rhetoric; pay a lot of blood money; repatriate him to the US; and then put him under WitSec such that he is never heard from again.

Problem with all of this is that NCA is content with the world going to hell. Strategies can be developed, sober players can solve seemingly intractable riddles, but with a feckless NCA, it is all a soup sandwich.

Take good care,
Sandy

Papa Whiskey

The description given above sounds just-- and I mean JUST -- like Vietnam. And we all know that story ended.

We are fighting Muslims over there to prevent Islamic terrorism over here. Wrong approach. To prevent Islamic terrorism over here, fight Muslims over here. Immediately cease all Muslim immigration. Close and raze all mosques. Intern all imams and other Muslim clerics for the duration. Detain and deport all other Muslims.

Danube of Thought

I would very much prefer to have a battalion of marine infantry standing off Tripoli than engaged in Afghanistan. Not an option now.

This administration is injuring this country in very painful ways.

matt

I agree with much of what Sandy says, but until we neutralize Pakistan as a haven for lunatics, the problem will continue.

Sadr is back and strong in Iraq again, and with the cluster%*$# the Mahgreb has become, we got a world of problems. We also have a government without a clue.

Barry had a Motown party last night to beat all, and simply cannot be bothered with outlining anything remotely coherent about anything except his refusal to support DOMA. Twist and shout, Barry....because our country is twisting in the wind.

Captain Hate

Per Tammy Bruce, the evac ferry has left Tripoli. Also per Teh Tam, she will support any Repub in 2012 against "that dumb bastard in the White House" except Huckabee; even a specific Palin endorsement for the Huckster would fall on deaf ears for our favorite gun totin' same sexing sweetheart.

Good points on Pak, Sandy.

narciso

That last line, Matt reminds did we elect Ferris Bueller or Cameron as President, since
their characters are both from Chicago

clarice

There are few good choices left, but the tag team Obama-Rice-Clinton is definitely not one of them.

narciso

I tend to agree Captain, one imagines Huck would be the kind who would reenact the Fox
shooting the hunter, he's that clueless.

Extraneus

Sen. Fitzgerald says his caucus' resolve even stronger after Assembly vote

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald today said he's not going to let Democrats debate the budget repair bill "ad nauseum" when they return from self-imposed exile.

Senate Republicans engrossed the bill today, rendering it unamendable as Dems continue to boycott a vote. For now, Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, says his caucus' attention has turned to the state budget while exploring ways to persuade Dems to come home.

After Sen. Dale Schultz declined to offer an amendment on the floor, Fitzgerald said he still has 18 solid Republican votes ready to support the repair bill. There are 19 in the GOP caucus.

"We're even stronger now since the Assembly vote last night," Fitzgerald said after the Senate's floor session today. "There's no negotiating on this bill at all."

Ignatz

--Close and raze all mosques. Intern all imams and other Muslim clerics for the duration. Detain and deport all other Muslims.--

So you're comfortable suspending the constitution and declaring martial law, WITH BARACK OBAMA AS FEARLESS LEADER? Talk about Whiskey Tango Foxtrotting the future.
(Not that anyone in charge is acceptable under those circumstances.)

narciso

Just for argument's sake, Ignatz what about Chechnya, rubble bouncing hasn't stopped train stations and airports blowing up

Captain Hate

narc, there seems to be something about former governors of Arkansas that they can't stay away from the limelight unless they have a special prosecutor on their trail.

Sandy Daze

dear Matt,

Not sure I'd go as far as saying "Sadr is back and strong in Iraq again" quite yet. He is not/NOT his father. Most Iraqis view him as not much more than a thug. He has tried to develop some street cred by going to Iran studying the quoran, a decision that cuts both ways.

So many wild cards. If popular uprising in Tehran--if the Iranian Nedas succeed--Iran's interest in agitating in Iraq will be significantly lessened.

At the end of the day, Iranians are Persian and most Iraqis are Arab. The antagonism between Persians (who know/KNOW they are the smartest kids on the block) and Arabs is long standing. Given the re-emerging secular disposition of many Iraqis, the shi-ite bonds that many point to as indicative of future closer coordination if not Persian dominance over Arab Iraqis, is not as strong as it may seem on the face.

eh.

Time will tell.

Take good care,
Sandy

Ignatz

--Just for argument's sake, Ignatz what about Chechnya, rubble bouncing hasn't stopped train stations and airports blowing up--

Two differences jump out, narc;
1. Chechnya is attached to the USSR, oops, excuse me Russia, and;
2. Putin is not rubbleizing as I would advocate. He is essentially doing what Russian czars always do; nation building by destroying the existing nation and erecting a little Russia with the leftovers, which the locals tend to find a little presumptuous.
The proper way is to allow the locals to blow up as many of their own as they wish, but as soon as they touch us they are destroyed and then left to clean up the mess on their own.
There is no perfect strategy of course, but instilling the utter certainty of being totally destroyed in those who would harm us seems a lot closer to one than trying to make everyone love us, like us or be like us.

matt

Remember, Sandy, he had huge influence on the Mahdi Army and that sectarian violence is on the rise again.He was chased out during the Surge, and I believe, is tight with the Basij.

Whether he comes back as a new improved Sadr or goes back to his incitement if sectarian violence is the $64 question.

Sandy Daze

25 February 2011

dear Matt,

We're not in disagreement.. I'm certainly not a supporter. You nailed it with the $64 question. The relative smallness of the protests earlier today (updated information now sez the largest may have been +/- 3K, maybe a dozen lost their lives, actual number probably several multiples of that, rock throwing in various places, reports the Basrah governor may have resigned, etc) is a small shadow of his "Million Man March."

al Maliki is no Geo Washington so. . .

take good care, Matt,
Sandy

Ellie Light

If you don't fight to win, then the alternative can only be defeat.

Let the Afghans do the nation building. We should focus on destroying our enemies and destroying their bases and resources where ever they are located.

Melinda Romanoff

Ellie-

You're just as naive as ever.

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