Friday, January 18, 2008

The debate over Afghan strategy

When Secretary of Defense Robert Gates accused NATO forces in Afghanistan as being untrained and unready to conduct counterinsurgency warfare  it set off a spasm of transatlantic recrimination. British conservative lawmaker Patrick Mercer called Gates' comments "bloody outrageous". But Gate's remarks were a subsidiary part of a much larger accusation that he made before the House Armed Services Committee in December, 2007 which tellingly evoked not outrage but silence. "I am not ready to let NATO off the hook in Afghanistan at this point," Gates told the House Armed Services Committee. Ticking off a list of vital requirements -- about 3,500 more military trainers, 20 helicopters, and three infantry battalions -- Gates voiced "frustration" at "our allies not being able to step up to the plate." Gates was baldly accusing the NATO allies of reneging on their commitments. To make the criticism even more stinging, these statements coincided with an announcement the US was about to send 3,200 Marines to cover the 7,500 man shortfall in the NATO deployments. The answer to that criticism wasn't outrage but rationalization. The NATO troops, the European allies countered, were bearing the brunt of the fighting against the al-Qaeda/Taliban forces. Bill Roggio looked at the validity of the British claim.



The fracturing of NATO over the Afghanistan deployment becomes more apparent each day. The United States has pleaded for NATO allies to deploy an additional 7,500 combat troops to Afghanistan to blunt an expected Taliban spring offensive, but with no relief available, the Washington Post reports the planned deployment of 3,200 U.S. Marines is intended to "shame" the NATO allies. Meanwhile, NATO members Britain and Canada are complaining their forces suffer a disproportionate number of casualties. ...

While the southern provinces of Kandahar and Helmand have high levels of violence, a look at the statistics shows the British claim is incorrect. The Taliban/al Qaeda/HIG related violence (referred to as AGE, or Anti Government Elements, violence) Is highest in the eastern, southeastern, and southern regions of Afghanistan. The eastern and southern regions each suffer 25 percent of the Taliban violence. The southeastern region suffers 23 percent of the Taliban related violence. U.S. forces are deployed in both the east and southeast, as well as in the south.

However that may be -- and the problem of determining who is bearing the 'brunt of the fighting' is a like comparing apples and oranges -- the accusation NATO forces have been fighting light has been around for a long time. Michael Yon, who has long been worried about the situation in Afghanistan, anecdotally observed that European troop contributions were coming up short. The 'tentativeness' which NATO troops are accused of displaying and the high casualties they so grimly point to may actually be a consequence of their lack of firepower and small numbers.

Our European friends are still not providing their people with proper equipment, all while the Taliban is getting stronger from the billion-dollar narcotics backwash that floods enemy coffers. As in Iraq, troop numbers are also dangerously low in Afghanistan, where the handfuls of friendly forces additionally lack sufficient air power to stretch their security resources. NATO is tentatively confronting the proximate and growing threat by sending more troops into battle, but they are sending troops with insufficient force protection. During my trip, I visited several bases. Steve needed to meet some Danish engineers who were to fly into Tarin Kot the next day by helicopter. When Steve asked an Australian Special Forces officer how to identify which helicopter the Danish engineers would arrive in, the Australian officer grimly answered, “It will be the only helicopter flying alone.”

When you are the only helicopter flying alone it is unlikely that you will be looking for trouble. Danish caution is probably due less to timidity than to realism. Given the situation it's been suggested that NATO weakness has forced them to rely on bribery and appeasement in order to hold up their end in their assigned areas of operation. The situation at Musa Qala is often cited as an example of how when you can't shoot your way out, you buy your way out. Bill Roggio has been following the controversy:

In October 2006, the undersized British and Danish contingent stationed in Musa Qala handed security responsibilities over to local elders in exchange for making it a "neutral zone" where foreign forces and Taliban fighters were prohibited from operating. The decision to cut such a deal resulted from a summer-long offensive by the insurgents who bombarded the small British outpost on a near daily occurrence.

Except sometimes you get double-crossed. The Taliban reneged upon the deal and Musa Qala, instead of becoming a showcase for British counterinsurgency became an embarrassing symbol of its defeat. Musa Qala in fact became the only major town in Afghanistan openly controlled by the Taliban. Worse, it gave the Taliban control over the hub of the opium trade, allowing the rebels to grow even stronger. Inevitably the British came under pressure to retake Musa Qala. Times Online columnist Bronwen Maddox described how the Mullahs were rubbing it in. "the Taleban have extracted huge propaganda value from the failure by Nato and Afghan forces since then to chase them out. Britain has also suffered a blow to the central plank of its strategy: to hand over control of towns and provinces to Afghan forces. It needs to show that the strategy can hold good if it is to make almost any kind of progress across the country. ... The blooming health of the opium trade, more exuberant year after year, is more than an embarrassment; it is a measure of the failure of parts of the strategy, as well as a threat to it all." Eventually Musa Qala was retaken, but even that did not totally dispel the accusations that the British were still dealing their way out of trouble. The Guardian reported that the Battle of Musa Qala had been won with a distinct absence of fighting.

A statement from Nato's International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) said troops had been welcomed by residents after they "liberated" the centre of the town. "With the support of Isaf forces, hundreds of Afghan national army (ANA) troops moved into the centre this morning and met with little resistance," Isaf said. "Taliban commanders had earlier fled the area as their resistance crumbled. The action to retake the centre - after several months of Taliban control - was greeted enthusiastically by local residents, whose safety had been of paramount importance to the liberating forces."

The Telegraph reported that "A Taliban commander who defected hours before British and Afghan forces retook the Taliban stronghold of Musa Qala has been rewarded with the governorship of the town. Mullah Abdul Salaam switched sides after months of delicate secret negotiations with the Afghan government, as part of a programme of reconciliation backed by British commanders in Helmand." The implication was that the British had simply bought out the commander of the garrison, albeit with the consent of the "Afghan government". So bribery was still OK. But there were apparently lengths to which even the Karzai government would not go or was at least pressured not to countenance.  The Afghan authorities arrested two European diplomats for engaging in unauthorized negotiations with the Taliban. The Telegraph again: "Two European diplomats, a Briton and an Irish citizen, have been asked to leave Afghanistan after they traveled to the troubled southern province of Helmand. ... President Hamid Karzai's spokesman earlier said two foreigners — apparently the U.N. and European Union officials — had been arrested. ... Karzai's spokesman, Humayun Hamidzada, said the two were 'involved in some activities that were not their jobs.' What exactly those activities were was described by Bill Roggio.

In the midst of the Afghan government’s deal with Salaam and his Alizais, another British attempt at winning over the Taliban in Helmand was exposed. This deal involved "buying" a cease-fire agreement from regional Taliban commanders and reportedly occurred without the presence Afghan officials. British reports claimed the two European diplomats expelled for allegedly engaging in back-door talks with the Taliban were in fact meeting with Mullah Mansoor Dadullah, the Taliban’s southern zone commander, in an attempt to "bribe" him and his followers into surrendering. Michael Semple and Mervyn Patterson were arrested by Afghan authorities in Musa Qala in late December 2007 with $150,000 in cash and laptop computers with documents indicating previous payments of the same amount were handed over to Helmand-based Taliban commanders, now thought to be "Tier-one" Taliban commander Mansoor and his inner circle.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown argued that these negotiations were not a bug but a feature. He said that forces were "winning the battle against the insurgency" in Afghanistan and that Britain and its coalition partners were "isolating and eliminating the leadership of the Taleban, not negotiating with them". Time will tell whether Gordon Brown is right, but the backstory behind Secretary of Defense Robert Gate's spat with the NATO allies is now pretty clear.  Gates implied European NATO members have been trying to weasel out of their commitments, papering over their inadequacies by a combination of negotiation and bribery.  But the Europeans may have no choice but to deal because they will never have the resources to fight. The Economist notes that European NATO allies simply can't step up to the plate. Domestic political constraints prevent them from sending any more men than have already deployed -- and even that may be hard to sustain. "The resurgent Taliban is betting that the countries sending troops to the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) do not have the stamina for it. In some, the steady drip of depressing news of casualties among their own soldiers and Afghan civilians is wearing away whatever support the troop deployments ever had." This lukewarm attitude was captured perfectly by a recent op-ed in Canada's The Star. "American Defence Secretary Robert Gates may well be right when he says that Canadian and European troops in Afghanistan are not well equipped to fight a counter-insurgency campaign. But what has been lost in the controversy over his impolitic remarks is that we did not sign on to fight insurgents – there or anywhere else. ... Let America, freshly confident after its counterinsurgency successes in Iraq and Vietnam, finish its own war itself. Then Canadian troops can come back to Canada. And the North Atlantic Treaty Organization can refocus on the North Atlantic." Which would be good if NATO actually defended the North Atlantic. But the message is clear. "It's not our party. If you want it, pay for it."

Interestingly enough, al-Qaeda's analysis of the situation is almost identical to that of the Economist and the Star. Its spokesman Adam Gadahn said on January 6, 2008 that "in Afghanistan, bruised and battered NATO forces, at first willing partners in a coalition they assumed was victorious, are now unwilling to commit more than they already have and instead are preparing to pull out, despite America's urgent pleas for them to stay on to the bitter end to cover its own retreat and despite Gates master document and numerous cross-Atlantic salvage missions and visits to Kabul". The lack of domestic political support in Europe for the Afghan mission means the promised arrival of 3,200 US Marines to fill the void left by the 7,500 NATO troops that never came will not be received with shame but with relief and satisfaction.

Former Indian diplomat M K Bhadrakumar at the Asia Times makes the most interesting connection to the current dispute. He notes that "Gates' criticism draws heavily from a recent study authored by the US general who commanded the forces in Afghanistan from October 2003 until May 2005, Lieutenant General David W Barno, in the prestigious journal Military Review. ... Barno claimed the US counter-insurgency strategy during his period produced 'positive and dramatic' results" but that NATO ineptitude had thrown it all away. "According to Barno, the slide began in mid-2005 after he and Khalilzad were reassigned. Washington then decided to publicly announce that NATO was assuming responsibility for the war and that the US was making a token withdrawal of 2,500 troops."

Barno implied NATO messed up the top-notch command structure he created. The result is, "With the advent of NATO military leadership, there is today no single comprehensive strategy to guide the US, NATO, or international effort." Consequently, he says, the unity of purpose - both interagency and international - has suffered and unity of command is fragmented, and tactics have "seemingly reverted to earlier practices such as the aggressive use of airpower".

Barno makes some chilling conclusions. First, he says the "bag of capital" representing the tolerance of Afghan people for foreign forces is diminishing. Second, NATO narrowly focuses on the "20% military dimension" of the war, while ignoring the 80% comprising non-military components. Third, the "center of gravity" of the war is no longer the Afghan people but the "enemy". Fourth, President Hamid Karzai's government is ineffectual "under growing pressure from powerful interests within his administration". Fifth, corruption, crime, poverty and a burgeoning narcotics trade have eroded public confidence in Karzai. Finally, "NATO, the designated heir to an originally popular international effort, is threatened by the prospects of mounting disaffection among the Afghan people."

Barno's paper is probably the basis for Robert Gate's claim that that Britain and NATO do not understand counterinsurgency tactics. But Bhadrakumar disagrees with Barno's assertion that things were going well. In fact, he claims, the war was already being lost when NATO took over. "He whitewashes a controversial phase of the war. NATO inherited a dysfunctional war. By end-2006, it was no longer a winnable war. When the alliance's defense ministers gathered in the Dutch seaside resort of Noordwijk last November to commemorate the first anniversary of NATO in Afghanistan, the crisis atmosphere was palpable." Bhadrakumar assessment that the slide began at the end of 2006 was not yet apparent to Barry McCaffrey when he visited Afghanistan in mid-2006. At that time McCaffrey concluded that:

Afghanistan has in the short space of five years moved from a situation of mindless violence, cruelty, poverty, massive production of drugs, the absence of government, and isolation - to a nation with a struggling democratic government; an exploding economy; a rapidly growing, disciplined Army; a vibrant free press, and active diplomatic and economic ties with its neighbors and the world. The 30 million people have showed almost unbelievable gratitude for the actions of the international community and have welcomed a significant foreign presence with great hospitality and trust. Opium production has been dramatically slashed by 48% just in the past year. In less than three years, 4.4 million refugees have flooded back into the nation. 95% of the refugee camps in Pakistan have been closed. A Constitution has been adopted.

However that may be, Bhadrakumar believes that Britain grasps what has eluded US strategists: the key to winning in Afghanistan lies not in defeating the Taliban but in bringing them into the government. He makes much of the fact that despite Gate's public criticism, British politician Paddy Ashdown has been appointed the UN point man in Afghanistan.  Bhadrakumar's analysis is interesting because it provides a possible insight into British and possibly EU thinking on the whole Afghan question. In this view the problem began when the Taliban -- and hence the Pashtun, began to grind their molars in defeat. This plus the curse of Iraq meant that by mid-2005 Afghanistan was already being "lost", whatever McCaffrey or Barno thought. "The slide began by mid-2005 as the embittered Taliban began regrouping. As the year progressed, as Everts and many others pointed out, the Iraq war 'sucked the oxygen away from Afghanistan'. How could Gates possibly admit all that? He would rather NATO take the blame. But then, it is a sideshow in actuality."

Why Iraq should "suck away the oxygen" from Afghanistan is unclear because in the analysis that follows, Bhadrakumar makes it clear that the real action in South Asia will happen in diplomatic circles not upon the battlefield. The troops Iraq has 'sucked away' will certainly not be needed by Ashdown, who will fix things in the 'sideshow' through diplomacy led by the UN and centered in London.

The heart of the matter is Pashtun alienation. The Taliban represent Pashtun aspirations. As long as Pashtuns are denied their historical role in Kabul, Afghanistan cannot be stabilized and Pakistan will remain in turmoil. Musharraf said, "There should be a change of strategy right away. You [NATO] should make political overtures to win the Pashtuns over." ...   This may also be the raison d'etre of UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon's intriguing choice of a Briton as his new special representative. Conceivably, the inscrutable Ban has been told by Washington that Ashdown is just the right man to walk on an upcoming secretive bridge, which will intricately connect New York, Washington, London, Riyadh, Islamabad and Kabul.

The point is, Britain grasps the Pashtun problem. ... That is why Musharraf's four-day visit to London starting on January 25 assumes critical importance. British mediation in Pakistani politics may already be working. Former prime minister Nawaz Sharif has begun calibrating his stance. ... Britain is now called on to salvage the Afghan war. NATO at best will be a sleeping partner. The Hindu Kush is all set to be Lord Ashdown's theater. He represents the UN; the White House reposes confidence in him; he takes counseling and directions from London, which coordinates with Riyadh and Islamabad - and then, gingerly, he sets out, searching for the Taliban. Incidentally, among his many attributes, Lord Ashdown is a gifted polyglot who speaks fluent Mandarin Chinese and other languages. Maybe he already speaks Pashto.

Robert Gates' remarks ripped the lid off a simmering disagreement between NATO allies and the US over Afghan strategy. The differences are not simply over troop levels and counterinsurgency competencies but at the level of basic national interest. For some NATO countries there is nothing in Afghanistan worth fighting for at all for except the maintenance of good diplomatic relationships with America and the preservation of the Atlantic Alliance. But that will only go so far; and at any rate America can be counted on to carry the load alone because in contrast, the United States which directly suffered the September 11 attacks, sees a victory in the Afghan/Pakistani theater as a matter of vital interest. Therefore the US will carry on regardless. Even Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama periodically declare their commitment to winning in that theater. The US and the European NATO countries may differ even in their conception of victory. For the US, victory is defined as creating and maintaining friendly governments in both Kabul and Islamabad by defeating al-Qaeda and its allies. For the Europeans it may mean bringing the Taliban to power in exchange for giving up its support of al-Qaeda.

Which side of the debate is correct I leave the reader to decide. But so far as I can tell this is what the debate is about.

76 Comments:

Blogger PeterBoston said...

The European chattering class are wimps. Pansy ass, cowardly wimps.

Here is a Brits take on it.

From Singapore to Basra: British militarism as farce

1/18/2008 08:31:00 AM  
Blogger Neo Conservative said...

*
screw afghanistan... the liberal opposition in canada... suddenly wants to invade pakistan.

stephane dion's latest desperate tactic -- so even if you're a loony, pacifist leftbot -- if you're polling high twenties... take out your dick and wave it at voters.

it's not like steffi has a whole lot to lose.

*

1/18/2008 08:45:00 AM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

To send or not to send more European troops to Afghanistan is a matter for Europeans to decide. America doesn't own Europe, the Wahhabis do.

1/18/2008 09:08:00 AM  
Blogger eggplant said...

Afghanistan (and Iraq) are rapidly becoming irrelevant. The Islamic fascist enemy has moved the primary battlefield to Pakistan. It was smart of the enemy to do this. They have the upper hand in Pakistan and at present we can not deploy American or NATO troops there. Fortunately(?) it's likely the Indians will get involved if Pakistan goes completely off the rails.

1/18/2008 09:18:00 AM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

Afghanistan (and Iraq) are rapidly becoming irrelevant.

So is Europe irrelevant. From observation, I would also add England and probably Canada.

Australia has a new Prime Minister and seems to have effectively tamped down their internal Muslims, so I'm wondering how much appetite they will have for adventuring in the future, too, although the Aussies have earned the right to slow to a jog trot and take it easy for a while.

In the meantime, is India still mad at Pakistan and is that a good thing for America?

1/18/2008 09:41:00 AM  
Blogger Doc99 said...

Were I the leader of Argentina, I would have my generals prepare plans to retake the Falklands.

1/18/2008 10:27:00 AM  
Blogger Huan said...

but as the battlefield shifts to Pakistan, actions and security in Afghanistan become even more paramount.

1/18/2008 10:52:00 AM  
Blogger edwardroyce said...

Hmmmmm.

Why is the USA in NATO?

1/18/2008 11:30:00 AM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

Why is the USA in NATO?

For the same reason we're in the UN.

1/18/2008 11:50:00 AM  
Blogger herb said...

Why is the USA in NATO?\

1) Somebody has to pay the bills

and

2) Somebody has to do the fighting.

1/18/2008 01:07:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

I think a reading of Yon's posts from the time would support Bhadrakumar over McCaffrey.
(haven't yet checked)
...not that it makes any difference to where we are now.

1/18/2008 01:38:00 PM  
Blogger Aristides said...

Thanks, yet again.

Wonderful summary.

1/18/2008 01:47:00 PM  
Blogger 1389 said...

How many people are aware that the Australian embassy in Afghanistan was recently bombed?

So much for the press keeping us informed.

1/18/2008 02:09:00 PM  
Blogger 1389 said...

O/T:

Belarus jails publisher for Mohammed cartoons

1/18/2008 02:13:00 PM  
Blogger Marcus Aurelius said...

Hmmmm,

I am skeptical about seriously splitting the Taliban from AQ. The only serious difference is ethnic but other than that they both have the same ideology and goals, which at the least are to unite the Islamic world then onto the whole world.

By many accounts the Pashtu are very open to bribery, but it seems to me what is described in the articles is closer to tribute than bribery.

1/18/2008 02:14:00 PM  
Blogger Utopia Parkway said...

In this article "Hope of the Nation" Reports the Taliban Falling Apart the 82nd airborne seems to think that things are going well.

Their description is in some ways similar to the way that the sunnis in Iraq changed sides against the AQ terrorists. Fight back against the head-choppers, stand up the local military (ANA), and alliance between coalition forces and locals.

Who's right? Are we winning or loosing in Afghanistan? Pakistan is obviously not going our way.

1/18/2008 02:20:00 PM  
Blogger John Lynch said...

The trouble is that Afghanistan is a secondary theatre. Iraq is far, far more important. We can completely lose Afghanistan and not be any worse off than we were before 9/11 (which wouldn't be good, but still isn't catastrophic.)

Losing Iraq is much, much worse. It's got oil, it's adjacent to Saudi Arabia with even more oil, it's next to Iran, and it has much better prospects if we succeed.

Afghanistan is actually pretty worthless to us except that it would be better if it didn't provide a base for our enemies.

Since Pakistan is doing that anyway, it seems to me that winning Afghanistan is turning into a psychological imperative rather than a militarily neccessary one. It would be nice for Afghanistan to be a stable and prosperous country, but if it's not it won't impact us much.

So, the deployment of most of our ground forces to Iraq instead of Afghanistan is rational. I worry that people may be losing perspective about what the war is all about and what our priorities should be.

I wonder about Democratic candidates who have a commitment to a war that is much harder and less neccesary rather than one that is going well and is much more important.

1/18/2008 02:26:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

The Duck said...
I'll bet it didn't do much for Gates' humor that he had to call upon the Marines whom he had formerly thrown out of Afghanistan and whose offer to assume responsibility for the entire US burden in Afghanistan very publicly in both cases, to bail the Euros out.

1/18/2008 02:42:00 PM  
Blogger Terry said...

It really is a bit rich to hear the US criticizing anyone of being unprepared for counter-insurgency warfare after the complete and total fiasco they made out of Iraq (which only now several years, tens or hundreds of thousands of lives and hundreds of billions of dollars are they starting to fix) and the fact that it was the American refusal to commit sufficient troops to Afghanistan in the first place that allowed the Taliban to regroup. Yes Canada and the rest of NATO need to do more but we certainly don't need Americans, the world experts on being unprepared, lecturing us on the topic.

1/18/2008 02:55:00 PM  
Blogger Wadeusaf said...

The hard line among the Pashtun (including Taliban and Al Qaeda) are still a minority of the population, in Pakistan it is also still the minority, by a big margin. The idea that this violent and abusive minority given food arms and money from all the world's Sorosick's, can control the rest of the population, is nothing short of terminal madness.

NATO knows better. Why it is acting just as shamefully as the OIL For Food shakedown participants. I hope the NATO troops stationed in Lebanon are more martially disposed than the various NATO members plans allow their brethren in Afghanistan to be. These are some tough and steady troops, why waste their potential due to lack of a spine.

1/18/2008 03:31:00 PM  
Blogger BetaCygni said...

My question is why hasn't the Afghan army ramped up like the Iraqi army?

They've had two more years to do it and they still have a very small force. They have plenty of people who like to fight in that country. Why aren't we training them to defend Afghanistan's borders against Tailban incursions, etc.

I was glad to hear from Gates that about 1/3 of the Marines going over are going to be trainers.

1/18/2008 04:03:00 PM  
Blogger Wretchard said...

I don't want to get into the "we're better than you at counterinsurgency game", but to make a couple of historical points. The first is that Vietnam was not a counterinsurgency. It had a dominant conventional component and was no more an insurgency that the Korean war.

The second is that experience does not always equal success. The British Empire fought a great many insurgencies because it was a colonial power. They were nearly all of them true insurgencies, not conventional challenges. Britain did not always win. For example, George Washington beat it at the height of its power. And arguably the Irish put on a good showing right next door. Does this mean the British know nothing about counterinsurgency or that the US knows more? I don't think it follows. But neither does it follow that Britain knows more. The question of which strategy to pursue is an empirical one and not one based on reputation.

1/18/2008 04:12:00 PM  
Blogger RattlerGator said...

Terry, what exactly would Canada and NATO's Europeans have without America? Unprepared, hell.

1/18/2008 04:28:00 PM  
Blogger RWE said...

ueAs I have said in these pages a number of times before, Afghanistan is a war that is both unwinnable and pointless – at least by the any measures that we would be willing to accept. The only thing that matters there is that the guy in charge in Kabul does not give us the finger when we tell him what we need to do. So the Pastun out in the hinderlands are upset over not getting a Piece of the Action? Big Effing Deal! They made their choice, lost big time, and can sit around the campfire singing “Please Mr., Please, Don’t Play B-52” until the cows they don’t have come home.

The Left’s alleged enthusiasm for war in Afghanistan is based on their limited grasp of the War on Terror, Clintonian foreign policy attitudes, and a healthy dose of CYA. This is greatly encouraged by the fact that Afghanistan really doesn’t matter, which under Clintonian foreign policy principles means it is of great interest to people who don’t matter either.

As for Pakistan, I have always felt that the idea of the nuts in the mountains taking over that country’s nuclear capability is about as likely as Ted Kazinsky becoming the Commander in Chief of Strategic Air Command. If anything, fooling around too aggressively in Afghanistan is more likely to lose Pakistan than the reverse.

And then there is NATO – it’s d e a d. The end of the Cold War gave it a bad case of the geriatrics. Bosnia/Kosovo proved it to be worthless, rift with serious fissures. Finally, Gen. Wesley Clark’s arrogant ineptness caused life support to be turned off. The big anniversary celebration in May of 1999 was in fact a wake.

Wretchard raises a good point. “Who really defends the North Atlantic?” That translates into Nuclear Deterrence – which NATO is a bit short on.

1/18/2008 06:04:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

Gator, you really just gotta smile to yourself and reach out to tossle their pointy little heads when they get all het up about America's proven superiority.

1/18/2008 06:18:00 PM  
Blogger Zenster said...

Nahncee: In the meantime, is India still mad at Pakistan and is that a good thing for America?

Imagine if Islamic terrorists had stormed into a combined session of America's Congress and Senate to gun down our politicians. You had best stop cheering now and realize that—had such a thing happened—a MME (Muslim Middle East) nation might have gotten glassed over for its trouble.

India had this same thing happen to it a bare few months after the 9-11 atrocity. The self-restraint it demonstrated in the face of such dire provocation from Pakistan was almost unimaginable. A nuclear exchange would not have been an altogether surprising outcome. Instead, India sucked it up and carried on in the assurance that Pakistan would melt down sooner than a snowball in Hell.

You had best bet that there is essentially unlimited and wholly justified Indian animosity towards Pakistan.

John Lynch: it seems to me that winning Afghanistan is turning into a psychological imperative rather than a militarily neccessary one

Give that man a Kewpie doll! If we had been serious about defeating Islam, we'd never have permitted shari'a law to be enacted once again in Afghanistan. That this was allowed to happen represents—at the very best—a halfhearted commitment in the fight against political Islam.

So, the deployment of most of our ground forces to Iraq instead of Afghanistan is rational.

Well, yes. Afghanistan doesn't have any oil. Like it or not, this war is about oil and those who say otherwise are being naive at best. Our nation and the world's global economy runs on oil and pretending it doesn't is worse than stupid.

The most that can be said for any continued campaign in Afghanistan is quelling their heroin production. I find that quest to be near equal in stupidity to the people who would sample such a poison in the first place. If anything, save untold millions, buy up the entire crop at 10X prices each year then donate the product to AIDS and cancer hospices. Organized crime would go broke after one or two absent harvests. Clearly, our politicians have no such intention of winning the War on Drugs.

1/18/2008 07:33:00 PM  
Blogger Andrew said...

Perhaps Bhadrakumar meant the Political oxygen rather than military oxygen?

1/18/2008 08:58:00 PM  
Blogger whiskey_199 said...

Aren't we effectively capped in Afghanistan on the number of troops? Given the rickety state of Pakistan's government and the requirement to well, actually supply them?

1/18/2008 09:27:00 PM  
Blogger John Lynch said...

Since Vietnam was brought up, isn't Afghanistan much closer to that war than Iraq is? It's a war somewhere we don't really care about and wouldn't miss if we lost. I feel we should rethink the whole thing. Our presence there does not seem to be connected to the mission we originally embaraked upon.

Back when we had 10,000 airborne and special ops folks hunting Al Qeada it was going well. Now 50,000 NATO troops trying to build a nation seem to be accomplishing little. Perhaps we should change the objective to something we're willing to accomplish. Attacking the Taliban is a lot different than defending a government and population. By committing to that, we took on a much larger burden.

The obvious comparison is with the Russian experience. We're going down the same road, trying to prop up a government against a tribal revolt based in Pakistan. Why? Unlike the Soviets, we can win. But it might take a ridiculous number of troops. Afghanistan is larger than Iraq, and far more difficult to move around in. What are we doing there? What's the point? We need to answer that rather than taking it for granted.

1/18/2008 09:43:00 PM  
Blogger Wadeusaf said...

By Wretchard "The question of which strategy to pursue is an empirical one and not one based on reputation."

The indications are that the NATO leadership has provided little in the way of a unified strategy, much less tactical direction, while the individual countries cannot figure out how to undertake any role in concert with any other nation. A Chinese fire drill by any definition.

Attempts at bribery while not unusual nor uncalled for are throwing good money after bad when these attempts are uncoordinated and badly timed. Leaving elements of the Afghani government out of the process can be seen as both underhanded and heavy handed. No need to wait for the viceroy, the NATO command has already determined its role.

The trouble with this plan like the "efforts" at reconstruction is they entirely ignore the Afghani's.
The process leads to agreements made not between the Afghani government and the Taliban, but between NATO and the Taliban. The only ones able to enforce the peace are the Brits, because the Afghanis not only have not been trained but really disagree with the terms of the peace as well as the partners of the arrangement. So when the Brits or NATO leave, the whole thing falls apart faster than you can say Gamal Abdel Nasser.

IMO, there really is basic stuff, Coin 101 level, that is being trumpeted. The noise before defeat is an apt statement.

1/18/2008 09:48:00 PM  
Blogger Fred said...

Afghanistan matters in two ways. First, to allow it to fall back into the Taliban's hands would be a tremendous moral victory for dar al Islam. So, we'd best keep our boot on their necks, preferably to snap their necks. Of course, Pakistan does matter, but in order to wrest it from the Taliban's hands we would pretty much have to invade the country, because the Pakistani military is already compromised. But, having a strong force holding in Afghanistan poses a truculent Pakistan a lot of problems.

The second reason why Afghanistan matters is that we are on Iran's borders in two places (Iraq being the other). In the long run, the Islamic Republic of Iran is the Beast we have a day of destiny with, no matter how much the policy wonkers wish to deny it.

Increasingly, the other NATO members do not see this as their fight. They have populations that want no part of the fight, since they prefer to hunker down in their imaginary bunkers of multi-culti, nonsensical appeasement of dar-al-Islam. Being actively involved in a military operation with the United States of America just makes their Muzzie populations more restive and less likely to vote for any politician who is on record for supporting this fight.

My wife has a cousin, an Army captain with the engineers and logistical support, training Afghan Army counterparts in the Eastern mountains in how to set up forward bases and how to set up defense in depth of those bases. His prior tour was in Iraq. There are plenty of jihadis lurking where he operates, but they largely try to avoid any stand up fight with our guys. They know if they try it, they'll get their **ses handed to them.

I think the U.K. has almost zero political support for wars against the Arabs and Muslims. This lack of support from the British people for their military commitments obviously has to translate into policy. That's the bottom line. I don't necessarily think that the British military is incompetent. But it does seem to be not properly supported in a variety of ways and has to do with less and less of everything. Clearly, Britain matters less in this war. And if their ratification of the E.U. treaty goes through, the U.K. no longer has an independent foreign policy or military.

1/18/2008 09:55:00 PM  
Blogger Fred said...

I read an article a few weeks ago on another blog site (in my frustration I can't find the article)which stated that the U.K. was pursuing its own policy of negotiation with the Taliban in the sector where the British forces are. To me, that's a clear signal of two things, neither of which are positive.

First, the enemy is succeeding in waiting us out and finding cracks in our alliances. This is a strategy which Islamic forces have employed since the earliest days of the Ummah's military expansions. Divide and conquer. Gaius Julius Caesar would have been flattered by the expert use Islamic forces have made of it.

Second, it signals policy shift, coming from 10 Downing Street and from Parliament. It means another ally is pulling away from us. That's not a good thing for us, since it sends a signal to the rest of the world that fewer want to stand with us in a necessary fight.

1/18/2008 10:01:00 PM  
Blogger Mətušélaḥ said...

Fred,

The Europeans have nowhere to go. Best to just cut them loose, so that they thoroughly internalize this.

1/18/2008 10:47:00 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...

Just want to second Aristedes here. Thanks for this keen analysis Wretchard.

1/19/2008 02:28:00 AM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

I read an article a few weeks ago on another blog site (in my frustration I can't find the article)which stated that the U.K. was pursuing its own policy of negotiation with the Taliban in the sector where the British forces are.

Fred, I've read tht several places, too. I think if you Google on Karzai throwing two Westerners out of the country, it'll take you to the meat of what's going on. I'm remembering one was a Brit and the other a UN/NATO wonk.

Karzai was not amused that England is negotiating to sell off his country behind his back.

1/19/2008 08:46:00 AM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

Bhadrakumar believes that Britain grasps what has eluded US strategists: the key to winning in Afghanistan lies not in defeating the Taliban but in bringing them into the government.

True, but not the Taliban - but bringing the Pashtuns under a political party that offers the average Pashtun peasant hope for a better future.

When the US went in, we repeated the same mistake as we did in the Soviet-Afghan War. Spent billions on our High-Tech Special Ops Heroes and "Dedicated DEA agents" at war with farmers raising poppies - lots of money and weapons for strongmen - next to nothing on economic and infrastructure develooment for the average Joe.

The SEAL Team clusterfuck where 17 of our guys died and 60 million was spent in wrecked equipent, slain servicemember death benefits, rescue mission costs....stands in contrast to the US unwillingness to pay peasants to grow something else, for village-made textiles...People trying to go in and get US assistance for starting up non-opiate sources of income have quit in frustration. Meanwhile, the US has spent billions on "security", "security for DEA", bribes to Afghan warlords to protect diplomats and say nice things about us.

And funding our fixation on the window dressing of "Democracy" and little girls in Burquas trudging off to US-financed schools where they supposedly learn how great the West is between Koran lessons.

So farmers see US DEA agents covered by armed thugs of the local bribed warlord come in and trash the poppy crop at gunpoint, slap some farmers around, then helo off to the next farm where similar ill-will is generated. Then the Taiban come by and say they can protect the peasants cash crop, which they sell for 3500 times what they pay the farmer for it - but still a far better deal than go with different crops with no US support for markets that the Americans have no interest in establishing for Afghan food, handicrafts, minerals, manufacturing.
So it is natural that peasants would support the Taliban to protect their livelihoods. You or I would if we were in their boots.

Yes, the US did take it's eyes off Afghanistan starting in 2003. Otherwise people would be screaming about the failure to improve Pashtun life and education level, failure to do all that infrastructure stuff we promised to do, failure to develop substitute crops and goods working with the Afghans. The opiate reduction program now consists of DEA and warlord goons selectively busting and punishing growers with no rhyme or reason to their raids.
NATO wants no part of the DEA or protecting them. And poppies grow right up to the edges of US/NATO bases and within sight of DEA encampments and nothing is done because the local leader is "an ally, hands off!".

Meanwhile, the Taliban and AQ get about 1 billion from the opiate crop that they can use to whack US and NATO troops.

Without Iraq diverting Dubya and Congresses time and attention, we might have come up with a rational scheme for long-term transition of Afghanistan into a stable, slowly prospering country. Instead of a narco-state of poor people ill-educated and a perfect terrorist haven still if we move our expensive military out.

***We might have paid full price for all the heroin countrywide - scanning each acre to get it all bought up - to keep the 10 bucks the Taliban pays for a kilo of gum generating 35,000 in profit from their sale. And told the farmers and villagers that we were doing a 7-10 year transition so they could grow and sell alternate crops and handicrafts making them far more money than they get now - while we built the roads, airports, and export rail spur lines so their pistachios, apricots, wheat, almonds, pomogranets, home-made textiles and herbal soaps, superb metal-smithing and other village crafts goods could be exported to China, India, Europe, the USA.

We didn't do that. We pissed 5 years away being pennywise but pound foolish. Iraq war economics on a smaller scale...

"sorry Ahmed, that 2 million dollar bridge you wanted so 800 Taliban sympathizers could instead ford the river and use the high meadows and valleys for lifestock and be prosperous is still in review by Washington mucky-mucks after 4 years. But we can offer you one thousand dollars if you help strip parts off the two 8-million dollar helos your villagers shot down and 10,000 if you help locate the 3 missing dead Marine's burial site."***

1/19/2008 09:05:00 AM  
Blogger Tony said...

I echo the thanks for this excellent explication, Prof Wretchard.

The cash path to alliance in Afghanistan is not unusual. Gary Schroen, the CIA guy who led the first team into Afghanistan a few weeks after 9/11, complains often in his book "First In" about what a pain in the ass it is to carry huge boxes full of $3M in US greenbacks with his team. But money makes the world go round, especially in lawless realms.

I think most Americans do see Afghanistan as the source of the 9/11 attacks, like Japan was to Pearl Harbor. But in this case, there is no "there" there. Al Qaeda is no more Afghani than they are Japanese. Obviously, in the larger war of which 9/11 was a major instance, Afghanistan is now definitely a sideshow. Americans can't admit that easily.

As for the political zealots who scream that Iraq is the sideshow now, one wonders why they didn't think that during the 90's, while Osama declared and engaged war upon us with impunity in Afghanistan while we constantly bombed Iraq. For that matter, what injury and threat did Serbia deliver upon us? And irony upon ironies, shouldn't we be talking to our enemies in Afghanistan, like the Dem candidates urge us to do with all the others?

Arguing with liberals is like playing football against girls - just don't do it.

1/19/2008 11:02:00 AM  
Blogger Tony said...

You can read about The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10 in

“Lone Survivor” by Marcus Luttrell.


The author was awarded the Navy Cross, and his team leader the Medal of Honor for their roles in this "clusterfuck" mentioned above. Unbelievable.

1/19/2008 11:10:00 AM  
Blogger desert rat said...

The personal bravery of the SEAL Team members says nothing to the poor strategy they have been employeed to pursue.

The tactical failures of that strategic policy show through.

The lack suitable aircraft, those deployeed operating at the edge of capabilities, when the Ospreys could be utilized.

If that piece of equipment really performs as advertised.
Or risked.

Poppies are a bloomin', the enemy funded by them.

In Iraq the US has trained, armed or is supporting 420,000 indig troops and militias.
In Afghanistan, the number of indig allies is 70,000. Afghanistan being larger geographicly and in population.
It is/was were the Headquarters element of aQ resides.
Especially true if the border with Pakistan is not well respected and the US were to have a comprehensive battle plan against aQ n southwest Asia.
Doc Z is not in Iraq,

1/19/2008 12:16:00 PM  
Blogger danielthree said...

As a Canadian, I am mad at what I've read from Bill Roggio's account. It states that the USA does not have trouble in its quiet sectors because of "superior US military skills." This shameful nonsense makes it plain that the USA thinks its own allies are not as brave, not as tough as soldiers, just not as "hard" as the self-congratulating USA. Our Canadian soldiers, in WWI, WWII, and Korea have proven beyond all doubt that we are as tough as anyone. At this rate, the USA should have zero Allies in the World in a short time. Fine, get lost, do it all yourselves. The world doesn't want or need such assholes as yourselves.

1/19/2008 12:56:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

WW1, WW2 and Korea was then. This is now. Canada couldn't even get its aid to the tsunami victims without American help -- which makes onlookers wonder just exactly how good Canada really is as an ally when the bullets start flying.

You bring virtually nothing to the party overseas, and on this side of the ocean all you're capable of offering up is your lame Human Rights Commission, beloved of zealot Muslims, which believes that freedom of speech is an Americna value.

1/19/2008 02:19:00 PM  
Blogger Zenster said...

Ceaderford: We might have paid full price for all the heroin countrywide - scanning each acre to get it all bought up - to keep the 10 bucks the Taliban pays for a kilo of gum generating 35,000 in profit from their sale. And told the farmers and villagers that we were doing a 7-10 year transition so they could grow and sell alternate crops and handicrafts making them far more money than they get now - while we built the roads, airports, and export rail spur lines so their pistachios, apricots, wheat, almonds, pomogranets, home-made textiles and herbal soaps, superb metal-smithing and other village crafts goods could be exported to China, India, Europe, the USA.

I'm glad to see that someone's paying attention. For all the untold billions we spend financing this fruitless War on Drugs, a single billion of that money could buy up the entire Afghan opium crop. Pay double what the Taliban offers. Price them out of the market. Hell, burn the crap if you don't want to donate it for medical purposes. Just get the stuff off of the market.

Two or three crops later, the Taliban and Mafia are on the ropes. Only a few billion dollars have been spent and two huge enemies are crushed. Once the Taliban has dried up, then the transition to other crops can begin but first kill the competition. It worked for the Japanese with American-invented VCRs and modems, why can't it work for us? Are so many of our politicians beholden to Mafia interests where they cannot approve of such legislation?

1/19/2008 02:55:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

Hey Rat,

Let's compare the strategy we are pursuing over the last 6 years in Afghanistan to the previous 6 years in the same theaters.

Funny enough, I was doing the short list in my head earlier:
93 - 1st WTC bombing
- Mogadishu
95 - Bojinka 11-airliner bombing Al Q attack broken in the PI
96 - Osama' first open declaration of war
98 - Tanzania / Kenya Embassy bombings
- Operation Desert Fox - more Cruise missiles than the whole Gulf War in 4 days v WMD's in Iraq
99 - USS Cole

Compared to that, how bad has the strategy over the last 7 years been? If it's bad, what are you comparing it to? I'd like to compare it to the island-hopping campaign in the Pacific, but obviously that ain't happnin.

1/19/2008 03:03:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Comparing it to success.
Doc Z and Osama dead, w/their heads on a pike.

WWII, any of the four land war theaters. Southern Europe, Africa, Central Europe or the Pacific.

The entire timeline of Korea, where an estimated 900,000 Chinese were casualties.

Nicaragua in the 1980s
El Salvador in the 1980s
where the communists were routed, democracy installed.

Afghanistan is turning out just a notch above the Bay of Pigs.

Mr Murdock is not a screaming leftist, his Times of London reports:

March 9, 2007

Afghan anti-corruption chief was drug seller
Under the elusive code name �Mr E�, he was a drug trafficker, eventually landing in a US jail for almost four years after an undercover sting in a Las Vegas hotel caught him exchanging nearly two pounds of heroin for $65,000 in cash.

Two decades later and Mr E, whose real name is Izzatullah Wasifi, has made a somewhat dramatic career move. He is now the government of Afghanistan�s anti-corruption chief, tasked with rooting out the endemic corruption in Afghanistan, a significant part of which is fuelled by the country�s position as the world�s largest producer of opium poppy, the raw ingredient of heroin.


Which is not a good thing, by any means. But then, it got even worse.

November 24, 2007

Corruption, bribes and trafficking: a cancer that is engulfing Afghanistan

�The British public would be up in arms if they knew that the district appointments in the south for which British soldiers are dying are there just to protect drug routes,� said one analyst. Western and Afghan officials are also alarmed at how narco-kleptocracy has extended its grip around President Karzai, a figure regarded by some as increasingly isolated by a cadre of corrupt officials.

�The people around him tell him of a cuckoo land,� said Shukria Barakzai, a Pashtun MP who is both a friend and critic of Karzai. �He circles within a small mafia ring who are supporting the destruction of the system. At the beginning there were only 10 to 15 of them but since then they have spread like a cancer in Afghanistan.�

The Ministry of Interior, key to establishing security in the country, remains the worst offender. Disaffected police officers have named, to The Times, General Azzam, recently appointed Chief of Operations after his stint as Chief of Staff, and his deputy General Reshad as the prime recipients of bribes.


The drug trade not only funding the enemy, it funds the allies.

Enough to make a fellow think that Russell & Company were running the Afghanistan Operations.

1/19/2008 03:28:00 PM  
Blogger buck smith said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

1/19/2008 03:35:00 PM  
Blogger RWE said...

After I wrote my post and just before I read John Lynch’s I got to thinking that the reality of Afghanistan is rather like the Leftist fantasy of Vietnam.

It is a war miles away from anywhere and at best only peripherally connected to the larger conflict. The terrain is terribly difficult, and setting up “fire bases” to compensate for this factor is an invitation to be the object of target practice. It is bordered by a hostile country that prevents us from effective interdiction as well as “no man’s lands” who look the other way when used by the enemy and probably have no other choice but to do so. The people who like us there really like us – but most are either indifferent to our efforts or are actively hostile. The administration in the capital city is disconnected from the reality in the countryside. Our allies only agree to limited participation. In the popular imagination the war amounts to one man of powerful leadership and three funny names, “Ho Chi Minh ” or “Osama Bin Laden.”

Maybe the Left is trying to make up for Vietnam by pushing Afghanistan as The Good War. Or maybe they are so blinded by that experience that they think all wars look alike.

1/19/2008 03:37:00 PM  
Blogger buck smith said...

Legalizing the drug traffic makes Afghanistan an easy win. I am amused by some posters who want to abandon Afghanistan after six years, yet still want to fight a war on drugs that has dragged on for forty years and has never once succeeded in keeping contraband out of the hands of motivated buyers. The only way to win the war on drugs is the way the ChiComs did with the opium problem they inherited, i.e. summarily execute anyone found with it. I am not willing to do that, myself.

1/19/2008 03:37:00 PM  
Blogger Bill said...

Thank you Tony for bitch slapping Cedarford. while his unabashed cynicism is hard to read, slamming special ops heroes is beyond the pale.

1/19/2008 04:08:00 PM  
Blogger danielthree said...

NahnCee said...in response to a Canadian:

"WW1, WW2 and Korea was then. This is now. Canada couldn't even get its aid to the tsunami victims without American help -- which makes onlookers wonder just exactly how good Canada really is as an ally when the bullets start flying."

Again US implications that our soldiers are not as "tough" as US ones. Tell me where this has been proven. The anti-Canadian nature of the postings makes me want to cut all ties, NATO, NORAD, the works, with the USA. No more Allies for you. You can go it all alone from now on, no one in the World will support you, treating long-term (now, hopefully ex-) Allies as cowards, What horrible, nasty types you Yanks are.

1/19/2008 11:52:00 PM  
Blogger 3Case said...

"The Europeans have nowhere to go. Best to just cut them loose, so that they thoroughly internalize this."

I've long thought we should advise them of our terms for their rescue this next time before we cut them loose to the predations of Sharia.

As to the whining Canadian contingent hereupon, Korea was over 50 years ago. That's not quite 2 generations. All this crap about going to leave America alone is fantasy and a rather stupid response to the notation of the fecklessness of NATO. It is even more galling that this carping comes from the home of the Millennium Bomb.

1/20/2008 07:00:00 AM  
Blogger jordan said...

Daniel, no one is saying Canada and Britain can't fight. Vidclips abound on youtube of them slugging it out ferociously in Afghanistan. Gates was speaking about how the Euros are choosing to employ their forces there, i.e. "We'll fight here, but not there. We'll do this mission, but not that mission."

You can't operate an alliance that way, and you can't fight a war that way. That begs the question, is there even a NATO alliance anymore? If an attack on one isn't considered an attack on all, what good is it?

If the prospect of global terror emanating from Afghanistan to all parts of the world isn't enough to produce "unity of purpose" for NATO members, nothing will.

NATO depends on the same shared interests that led America to sacrifice 400,000 of it's finest so Europe could be free. Clearly, that degree of commonality no longer exists.

It just might be a good time for all to "go their own way." Canada/Britain et al don't wish to contribute to an anti-global terror fight, and the U.S. has no desire to be any part of appeasing or submitting to terrorism.

Europe is changing, and most predict a muslim majority in a few decades. America shouldered Europe's needs vs. a vs. Serbia, taking care of a point of instability in Europe's backyard. In the future, the U.S. has no compelling interest to do so.

Most of these conflicts are occuring on Europe's eastern and southern flanks and landmass, not America's. As instability eats away at Europe's fringes, it's own immigrant populations become emboldened and empowered.

Indeed, some would argue America's best interest would be served by saying, "We'll let you have Europe, just don't cross the ocean." Of course, that's an exaggeration, but it makes the point. There are many avenues America could take to keep itself free of terrorism.

Either there's an alliance, or there isn't, and this shows that there isn't. Had we foreseen such "payback" no American would have so earnestly committed 400,000 of it's finest to die while freeing Europe in the '40's.

1/20/2008 08:04:00 AM  
Blogger ForNow said...

I don't see where anybody is implying that Canadian soldiers aren't personally, individually tough enough. Somebody is all too obviously setting up a strawman by claiming otherwise. Instead I see where people are saying that the Canadian government has not provided sufficient equipment and appropriate training. The decay of European and Canadian militaries is now an old story. Years ago it was already being said that the failure of France and other countries to update their warfighting methods, with technological integration, was making it impossible for the US to fight alongside of them as allies in a coherent way. France was spending comparably with Britain, but only Britain was updating its methods.

1/20/2008 08:07:00 AM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

Indeed, some would argue America's best interest would be served by saying, "We'll let you have Europe, just don't cross the ocean."

And then give Canada to the Israeli's and we're good to go.

I'm wondering just how long either NATO or the UN would last without American dollars to finance them, and American military to prop them up. A year?

Certainly Canada, England nor France is wealthy enough to step into the breech, and I don't see either CHina or Russa caring about the UN enough to save it. Saudi and the oil ticks *could* finance the UN, but even Hugo Chavez would quit attending a Wahhabi-run UN. I wonder if a weasel like Kofi Annan would even want to play if the Arabs were running the institution.

Daniel increasingly strikes me as being one of those 12-year-old posters who is brimming with patriotim, and lacking in either history or common sense.

1/20/2008 08:27:00 AM  
Blogger Kevin said...

Nahncee,

Certainly Canada, England nor France is wealthy enough to step into the breech, and I don't see either China or Russa caring about the UN enough to save it. Saudi and the oil ticks *could* finance the UN, but even Hugo Chavez would quit attending a Wahhabi-run UN.

Not to mention that the Saudis (and other Islamists) might be a little short of cash since they have been pumping huge wads of cash into the backsides of American financial giants such as Citigroup and Merrill Lynch. While the Gates-of-Vienna-types are obsessing over poor Muslims in the European banlieues; no one seems to be noticing that Islam Inc. is making the American boardroom a virtual no-go zone for actual Americans. If militant Islam, fronted by Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, has to bail out Citigroup one more time, we might as well just admit the truth and start calling them Jihadigroup instead because that’s what they are becoming.

So with Global Jihad buying up US financials, the dollar taking a dump, oil gaining enough value to make Canada’s oil sands profitable, and Europe continuing on a slow but steady rise to overtake the US in GDP per capita (despite the fact Europeans work far fewer hours than their America counterparts); I think the days of promiscuous displays of conspicuous arrogance towards America’s financial situation are coming to an end.

1/20/2008 10:51:00 AM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

Tony & Bill - To say US troops made some bad calls and precipitated a clusterfuck does not diminish their bravery. Luttrell admitted that his allowing, along with ultrabrave MOH winner Murphy, Afghan tribesman to expose their position - was the dumbest, least thought-out thing he had done and led to their Team being wiped out and the death of 14 other ultra-expensive high tech special ops "supersoldiers" along with a completely destroyed special helo, another damaged helo, many tens of millions spent in carrier and base search and rescue ops.

And all so a middle-level Talibani leader, a former goatherder, now rich on Jihad war funds from poppies growing unmolested at the edge of the SEAL teams base because they are under Democratic Afghanistan Government protection - could be "taken out"???

The whole point of the SEAL exercise was to try and find a military solution deep behind enemy lines, exposed to annihilation, all to take out a guy getting rich off poppies and passing on some of the take to terrorists..

The general consensus of diplomats is that the Talibab is coming back because the US has relied almost solely on hugely expensive military ops - as their main focus was elsewhere (Iraq) - doing nothing to rebuild Afghanistan or restore a viable economy, while applying War On Drugs failed tactics that have been a singular failure elsewhere, to the Afghan peasant's only cash crop.

The bottom line is that all the heroics of high tech special ops supersoldiers have done nothing over the last 5 years but "hold the fort" in a narcoterror state while maintaining the Potemkin facade of a Kabul "democracy" where little girls are now also allowed to go and study the Koran at school.

Diplomats say if the US soldiers leave, Afghanistan reverts to the warlords & the Taliban the next day.

NATO's main dissatisfaction is in the stupid paramilitary War on Drugs, which they see as driving the citizenry to support Islamists and druglords so they can eke out a living. They have little interest seeing their own countrymen die so a failed strategy can continue. Or watching as Bush continues a "whatever our heroes in the military want, they get", but NATO and those seeking to nurture Afghanistan's economy, infrastructure, and schools are on their own.....

Of poppy crops only destroyed when insufficient bribes are given to Karzai's mafia or the Islamists are universally supported as the protectors...

NGOs and Afghans trying to turn the country around complain bitterly about a US effort that has welshed on most of their promises, locks any aid request in years of bureaucratic processes, and shows remarkable uninterest in anything that causes the anarchy and backwardness that drives people to Islamism - but total interest in "terrorist threats" in Afghanistan. In other words, a US that says don't bother us about no cash crops, no markets for Afghan goods, no schools are police - but wants to know when such people get fed up so "American heroes" can then deal with them....

*****************

Danielthree - Ignore the dumb taunts. They come from jingoistic Jewish chickenhawks and US military worshippers never in the military themselves or rear ech if they were - that believe that no other nation's men are as worthy and as special as Americans induced - sometimes by huge cash bonuses - to become volunteers.

IT IS true that Canada let it's military run down and have coasted behind the shield of America's Navy, Coast Guard, and Airforce. (It is pathetic that US Navy and Coast Guard have to rescue stricken mariners off Canada, Canada tries buying a bargain basement sub that almost sinks on the way back to Canada, and its supposed last 3 tanks have broken treads and are carted around on logging trucks to shoot and trigger avalanches in the Rockies.)

That said, given their equipment issues, Canadian soldiers are 1st rate and have at times kicked the crap out of US Marine, Army detachments they have competed against in war games, arctic survival, mountain mock battles, and sniper and shooting competitions...Historically, the only time America was methodically crushed and outclassed in battle before our 1st foray in N Africa was by British Canada regular forces in the War of 1812.

1/20/2008 11:53:00 AM  
Blogger Tony said...

Cedarford,

Your argument goes off the rails at rebuild Afghanistan or restore a viable economy.... We can't restore what wasn't there. Or hasn't been, since Genghis Khan went through 800 years ago.

In even the most restrained response to Al Qaeda, the law enforcement approach to 9/11 response, going after the leaders of Al Qaeda and Taliban is supposed to be the point of the exercise. Eliminating enemy leadership that supports Al Qaeda - that would be the eventual goal of delicately turning Afghanistan into a New Jersey with mountains and deserts, right?

In any case, using dead heroes, the majority of whom rushed to the sound of the guns when they heard the 4-man team was in trouble, including top commanders under no compulsion than their own to run onto that chopper ... using the towering example of these men to castigate government policy is difficult to stomach.

1/20/2008 12:44:00 PM  
Blogger Gary Rosen said...

"...where little girls are now also allowed to go and study the Koran at school."

This must please C-fudd no end. After all, he idolizes Islamofascist savages like Hezbollah and hasn't been shy about expressing his unqualified admiration for them. Yes, the same outfit that brags about having its enemies "body parts" - arms, legs and torsos. It says more about C-fudd's hypocrisy, degeneracy and moral bankruptcy than I ever could.

1/20/2008 01:23:00 PM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

In any case, using dead heroes, the majority of whom rushed to the sound of the guns when they heard the 4-man team was in trouble, including top commanders under no compulsion than their own to run onto that chopper ... using the towering example of these men to castigate government policy is difficult to stomach.

Yeah, Tony, using the dead men from a stupid mission of "taking out" a poppy drug lord and terrorist backer as a reason why government policy was wrong is "out of bounds". Sure. Just as questioning the policies of others in power that sent brave young men to be mowed down at Derdun, the Somme, Gallipoli, and thrown away against Soviet artillery at Stalingrad, or Russian Heroes fighting Afghans was "difficult to stomach" - given how much the generals worshipped the brave young men falling in the thousands for no purpose..

The price for bad policy is dead bodies, at times. Saying the policy cannot be questioned because of how noble the dead bodies once were, is stupid. It only gives bad politicians and generals cover when they hide behind bravery of others to excuse their clusterfucks.

1. A billion dollars in opium revenue is going to Taliban and AQ. Sending "high-tech special ops" supersoldiers on deep penetration missions to get one of 500 brokering the opiate sales, when their discovery is a 50-50 proposition is stupid. It is just playing terrorist whack-a-mole.

2. Nailing one when 3 others are in line to replace Taliban or AQ leadership is the same dumb strategy Israel employed against Hezbollah.

3. A military solution involving Tony's beloved hero-soldiers is impossible if the only present solution 40 million Afghan peasants see is growing poppies and selling them to Karzai's people or the Taliban. NO one is talking about turning the people into New Jerseyites. Just people that see a future other than radical Islam, drug trade, weapons. and war.
For 6 years, the US failed to do what Bush promised we would do after our 2001 triumph to prevent Afhanistan from once again being a haven of radicals.
*********************
Rosen -
I don't idolize Hez. Just respect them. They have more heart and courage than the Zionists they drove out of Lebanon.
And they are Israel's problem, not ours. They haven't bothered us in a long while. We have no defensive pact with Israel, just the AIPAC Lobby that pretends we do and Israel is our "Specialist, bestest friend".

1/20/2008 02:52:00 PM  
Blogger Gary Rosen said...

"Just respect them."

Just "respect" individuals who brag about the body parts they have captured. Like I said, it says more about you than I ever could.

"They have more heart and courage than the Zionists"

Yeah, it takes a whole lot of "heart and courage" to undertake military operations from civilian areas because you know it's going to cause problems for your enemy who has more respect for human life than you do. We all know what you are, C-fudd, and you keep proving it every time you post.

1/20/2008 04:50:00 PM  
Blogger Bill said...

"More heart and courage than the Zionists...... C'mon man, you didn't really say that. Lots of heart and courage firing rockets into civilian enclaves, strapping brainwashed savages with explosive belts and sending them into schools and pizzerias. That is a nauseating statement. They're no threat to us except the shaped charge makers on the Iran-Iraq border. Did the mob in Mogidishu have more heart and courage than Randy Shugart whose mutilated body they dragged through the streets? You're a piece of work, homeboy.

1/20/2008 09:12:00 PM  
Blogger Gary Rosen said...

"C'mon man, you didn't really say that."

Of course C-fudd said that. It defines what he is.

1/20/2008 09:44:00 PM  
Blogger Zenster said...

3case: I've long thought we should advise them of our terms for their rescue this next time before we cut them loose to the predations of Sharia.

Part of the price had damn well better be Europe's permanent abandoning of socialism in any form whatsoever. Democratically elected representation, separation of church and state with distinct judicial, executive and legislative arms or they can go arse up for their Muslim overlords.

Cedarford: 2. Nailing one when 3 others are in line to replace Taliban or AQ leadership is the same dumb strategy Israel employed against Hezbollah.

You are wrong about this in so many ways it's difficult to count them all. Targeted assassinations work splendidly against terrorist leadership. In fact, it represents one of the most cost effecient methods of defeating terrorism. Consider what Wretchard wrote about Israel's elimination of Hamas' top brass:

The Israeli strike against the terrorist top tier exploits the weakness inherent in terrorist organizations which are unstable alliances based on a delicate balance of internal intimidation. None of them, the Palestinian Authority included, are either transparent or accountable. They are exceptionally vulnerable to changes in their leadership. They can stand the loss of any number of teenage fighters or youthful suicide bombers without much damage but are rocked -- as Yassin's death illustrates -- by death at the top.

Israel’s removal of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin and Abdel Aziz Al-Rantissi in swift succession left the entire Palestinian terror infrastructure in total disarray. Each bullet that Fatah and Hamas exchange cannot be fired at an Israeli citizen. Every penny that these two terrorist organizations spend thwarting each other’s aims cannot finance another qassam rocket to fire at Israel.

Now, think about this excerpt from Norvell B. de Atkine’s “ Why Arabs Lose Wars”:

In every society information is a means of making a living or wielding power, but Arabs husband information and hold it especially tightly. U.S. trainers have often been surprised over the years by the fact that information provided to key personnel does not get much further than them. Having learned to perform some complicated procedure, an Arab technician knows that he is invaluable so long as he is the only one in a unit to have that knowledge; once he dispenses it to others he no longer is the only font of knowledge and his power dissipates. This explains the commonplace hoarding of manuals, books, training pamphlets, and other training or logistics literature. On one occasion, an American mobile training team working with armor in Egypt at long last received the operators' manuals that had laboriously been translated into Arabic. The American trainers took the newly-minted manuals straight to the tank park and distributed them to the tank crews. Right behind them, the company commander, a graduate of the armor school at Fort Knox and specialized courses at the Aberdeen Proving Grounds ordnance school, collected the manuals from the crews. Questioned why he did this, the commander said that there was no point in giving them to the drivers because enlisted men could not read. In point of fact, he did not want enlisted men to have an independent source of knowledge. Being the only person who can explain the fire control instrumentation or boresight artillery weapons brings prestige and attention. In military terms this means that very little cross-training is accomplished and that, for instance in a tank crew, the gunners, loaders, and drivers might be proficient in their jobs but are not prepared to fill in for a casualty. Not understanding one another's jobs also inhibits a smoothly functioning crew. At a higher level it means there is no depth in technical proficiency.

High context Muslim societies reward individuals who make themselves indispensable. The elaborate networks of clan ties, lengthy personal relationships and extremely-difficult-to-build trust relationships are all exceptionally vulnerable to attrition. Look at how—since the death of abu Musab Zarqawi—each succeeding “senior commander” for al Qaeda in Iraq has been of steadily decreasing age. Younger operatives cannot possibly possess the resources, connections, depth of experience or level of trust that older and more seasoned commanders fielded. It would also represent major progress if jihadi leadership no longer felt comfortable making personal appearances before large assemblies or maintaining a conspicuous public presence of any sort. Again, in high context cultures this diminishes personal power in the very strongest sense. You are breathtakingly wrong about how effective top-down decimation of leadership is against terrorist organizations.

I don't idolize Hez. Just respect them.

Why anyone would have an iota of respect for terrorist scum of the earth goes beyond me. I'm quite glad to see that others have already scurried back in to hand you your head for that bit of total rubbish. There is nothing admirable about the supreme cowardice of terrorists and their routine atrocities.

They have more heart and courage than the Zionists they drove out of Lebanon.

Are you even aware that Hezbollah were taken almost to the breaking point by Israel before the international community stepped in one more damned time to prevent them from being finished off? Even Nasrallah himself admitted that kidnapping the Israeli soldiers was a huge mistake:

Nasrallah told a Lebanese TV audience last night that had he had known that the operation to take two Israeli soldiers would end as it did, then he not have taken that course of action. "If there was a one percent possibility," he said. "We would not have done that. We would not have done any capturing."

By admitting to a miscalculation that has cost Lebanon billions of dollars and many hundred civilian lives, Nasrallah is perhaps giving some indication of how dearly the blunder has cost Hezbollah in personnel, power, and prestige in the country. It seems now as though the author of The Divine Victory won the hearts and minds of Arabs across the region--except for in Lebanon, where the "Underground Mullah" actually lives.


Hezbollah had better hope it does not experience any more supposed “victories” against Israel. Their extensive underground bunker network was almost completely demolished and the use of civilian apartment complexes as rocket launching sites caused so many collateral fatalities that Hezbollah’s political star has fallen dramatically in Lebanese politics. As with the vast majority of Arab victories, it is only so in the media while actual facts on the ground reflect an entirely different story.

And they are Israel's problem, not ours.

This, too, is incorrect. So long as Iran is allowed to use proxies in their terrorist war against the West, this will remain a huge problem for many more people than just the Israelis. As the epitome of political Islam, Iran’s destruction remains a top priority for the West. Only recent instability in Pakistan has been able to divert attention from Iran’s nuclear aspirations. Suffice to say that a nuclear armed Iran would go down in history as one of the most significant military blunders of this new century.

1/20/2008 10:39:00 PM  
Blogger danielthree said...

Danielthree - "Ignore the dumb taunts. They come from jingoistic Jewish chickenhawks and US military worshippers never in the military themselves or rear ech if they were - that believe that no other nation's men are as worthy and as special as Americans induced - sometimes by huge cash bonuses - to become volunteers."

Thank you. I am sure all Americans do not share the obvious Canadian-hatred shown in many posts on here. Meanwhile, an honest Canadian must admit the scummy Canadian Gov't. has indeed not supplied our soldiers with the right equipment. They must get along with what they have, which isn't enough. And, nahncee, Fuck Off.....

1/21/2008 06:01:00 AM  
Blogger danielthree said...

Blogger PeterBoston said...

"The European chattering class are wimps. Pansy ass, cowardly wimps."

The Euro. "chattering classes" aren't the Euros. doing the fighting in the Afghan., you incredibly dumb fuck. It's the ordinary Euro. working class that joins up to Euro. armies..not the intellectuals.

1/21/2008 06:03:00 AM  
Blogger davod said...

"The Euro. "chattering classes" aren't the Euros. doing the fighting in the Afghan., you incredibly dumb fuck. It's the ordinary Euro. working class that joins up to Euro. armies..not the intellectuals"

Sorry mate but your's is a pretty simple statement. It is the intellectuals who give the soldiers their rules of engagement. It is the ROE which cause the problems.

I recall one country who's ROE include stop shooting if the enemy starts retreating. Another where they do not take any offensive action.

1/21/2008 06:55:00 AM  
Blogger F451-2.0 said...

Nancy,

Boy,when it comes to disaster relief, we at least can find Louisiana on a map.

http://en.wikepedia.org/wiki/Canadian_response_to_Hurricane_Katrina

1/21/2008 07:37:00 AM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

The only one demonstrating hatred here is you, danielthree, towards America and the Jews. Commenters here are merely demonstrating Canadian pity.

And you hate us for that.



And, nahncee, Fuck Off..... My work here is done. He's descended into sputtering obscenties. AS a Canuck you're obviously familiar with that lovely old Nordic "F" word. Are you also familiar with that equally old Germanic word "anti-semitism"?

1/21/2008 07:38:00 AM  
Blogger F451-2.0 said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

1/21/2008 07:43:00 AM  
Blogger MaYHeM said...

Terry you couldn't be further out in space, could you?

Please do name a single International state that boasts a more prepared military than the USA?

Here's a hint, NONE!

1/21/2008 07:47:00 AM  
Blogger F451-2.0 said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

1/21/2008 08:11:00 AM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

F4 - looks like you can also find the "enter" key -- multiple times. You're so eager in your anti-Americanism to post a witty shot that you just couldn't control yourself, right?

If the worst you can find to say about America is a jab about Katrina, you might want to Google "tired of Katrina", or better yet, read this piece which sums up how all those "victims" have been treating their fellow Americans and our government:

Cutting Through the Katrina Krapola


"You've got a mouth full of gimme, a hand full of much obliged." -- Bessie Smith, Gulf Coast Blues

"I don't know about you but I have had it with the legions of hustlers, grifters, drunks, junkies, pathics and drooling layabouts that keep waddling and teetering up to the public trough from that swamp of puke called New Orleans. The latest of an endless line of calls upon the kindness of strangers by these public-purse pimps is this little bit of chicanery: Katrina victim sues U.S. for $3 quadrillion."

http://americandigest.org/mt-archives/bad_americans/cutting_through.php

Like I said - you Canadians are just pathetic.

1/21/2008 08:12:00 AM  
Blogger F451-2.0 said...

Nancy

As to repetition, an endless series of "I like oranges can you swim Oh have I mentioned those rat bastard Candians?" serves no valuable purpose other than your own your own.

Many I suspect would wish you had that tended to.

I'm sure long and tedious is by now no impediment to the determined so for those others of you following along:

http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20060908/condoleeza_rice_canada_20060908?h

aaaand

http:www.popmatters.com/books/reviews/d/day-the-world-came-to-town.shtml

Best wishes for a speedy recovery.

1/21/2008 09:20:00 AM  
Blogger Zenster said...

Yes, well, this thread's certainly taken the odd turn from debate over Afghan strategy, now hasn't it?

1/21/2008 03:35:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

Cedarford,

Have you ever set foot in
Afghanistan?

1/21/2008 05:06:00 PM  
Blogger davod said...

"Cedarford,

Have you ever set foot in
Afghanistan?"

I do not know. But I bet he has stayed at a Holiday Inn.

1/22/2008 08:25:00 AM  
Blogger F451-2.0 said...

In regard to the mangled link provided previously

For the curious

For the record

Google:CTV Rice Nova Scotia 911

Select: CTV.ca Rice to visit Nova
Scotia on 911 anniversary

1/23/2008 02:07:00 PM  

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