""We have options ranging from complete and full cooperation to leaving the Non-Proliferation Treaty on our table," said Kazem Jalali, spokesman for the parliament's national security and foreign policy committee. "But we believe that if the West reforms its path, we can still choose the full-cooperation option."
The parliament has made similar calls in the past to reduce cooperation with the IAEA, to no avail. It has, however, regularly managed to block an update to the Non-Proliferation Treaty that would widen the atomic watchdog's inspection capabilities.
Mashallah Shamsolva'ezin, a journalist who is barred from working by the government and now advises at the Tehran-based Middle East Strategic Research Center, said both Iran and world powers, led by the United States, have little space to maneuver diplomatically. Iran, for its part, believes sanctions from the U.N. Security Council can be ignored.
"Iran's nuclear policy has always been about walking the tightrope at the edge of a cliff," he said. "But our leaders will never take actions that would jeopardize Iran's national security. For both parties, the only solution is negotiations." " Washpost
This is basically a "nose-thumbing" defiance of the West, especially of the United States.
The issue here is not whether Iran has a legal right to buil whatever size nuclear program that it desires, but rather whether or not such a program will be tolerated by those who can do something about it..
""Where we have gone, goodness follows," Conway said. "But the fact is that we are not as expansive as we would like to be, and those probable additional number of Marines are going to help us to get there." " Washpost
"General McChrystal has been alienated." (by President Obama) Dana Perrino on FNS
"Mr President, We do not want to defeat health care reform, we want to defeat you, and this seems like the best way to do it." Comedian playing the role of Senator Mitch McConnell on Saturday Night Live, 28 November 2009
General Conway is the Commandant of the US Marine Corps. Pacification, a better standard of living, greater security, I could understand all of those in this statement, but "goodness?" Does that mean that General Conway believes that the marines are on a "mission from God" in Afghanistan? There are a lot of people in the US now who can no longer separate faith and flag in their minds. Is he one of them?
Abraham Lincoln learned fairly quickly that he was in command, not the generals. He relieved some of them, transferred some of them when he judged that to be a good idea, allowed some to be court-martialed for failure. He famously sent Major General Joseph Hooker a letter at the time of Hooker's appointment to command of the Army of the Potomac. In the letter he wrote that his support of Hooker was conditioned on Hooker's future success and was for lack of a better alternative. "General McChrystal has been alienated?" My god, Perrino, why should Obama possibly care if any of these generals have been "alienated?" What he should want is that they should live in fear of relief from command for failure or insubordination. These are highly ambitious, overly political men who have been taught by fools to think they have a policy role. None of them are Grant. If Lincoln had not found Grant, there might well be two countries here today, not one.
"If the Afghan government were fully legitimate, there would be no insurgency. U.S. and international actions must aim to improve the Afghan government's ability to provide basic services such as security and dispute resolution nationwide, building the legitimacy of the government in Kabul sufficiently to dampen a large-scale insurgency. They must persuade and even compel Afghan leaders to stop activities that alienate the people and create fertile ground for insurgents. " The Kagans
What does the first sentence mean? Does it mean that if all the Afghans accepted the Karzai government, then the war would not be. Is that supposed to be profound? Let's see, on that basis, if all the Apache bands had accepted the territorial government of Arizona in the 1870s and 1880s, there would have been no fighting between whites and Indians... That is probably true.
The second sentence says that we must make the Karzai government a better government so that it will be "legitimate" in the sense of the first sentence. That implies a massive effort to produce those changes. CORDS, the COIN operation in Vietnam had 10,000 people involved in doing exactly what the Kagans suggest will be necessary. How many people do we have in Afghanistan today doing this sort of advisory work in all the aspects of Afghan governnance? How many will we recruit, train, pay, sustain, replace? In the CORDS effort the families of the advisers were moved to nearby third countries like the Phillippines or Thailand in order to be able to commit the advisers "in country" for several years. Are we going to do that?
The third sentence says that we must be prepared to use whatever means necessary to "compel" Afghan government to be what the Kagans believe would suffice to insure "legitimacy." What will we do if they fail to obey us?
To make any of this feasible a great many friendly troops must be available to "protect the people" so that good governance can move their sentiments in the direction of granting "legitimacy" to the government.
There are a lot of village and towns in Afghanistan, even if one only considers Pushtun villages. The active army is stretched pretty thin. The suicide and attempted suicide rate is becoming a serious matter. People with families can not be pushed emotionally beyond a certain level of alienation from home and hearth. Perhaps it was not such a good idea to build the force around middle class married soldiers.
If President Obama is going to accept the opinions of the Kagans and their four star pupils, then McChrystal should be given all the troops he asks for in this trenche and the next ones as well. Some consideration of a revival of the draft should also be done and a start made on recruiting, etc. for a really large body of qualified advisers. pl
Last night Christopher Matthews abused his guest, Thomas Tobin, the Catholic Bishop of Providence, Rhode Island in a manner that calls into question Matthews' sanity as well as his claim to being (in his words) a "good Catholic." It has been well known for some time that Matthews is not a gentleman. His public behavior established that long ago.
Having invited Tobin to speak on his television program, Matthews screamed and raved at this clergyman for some minutes over Tobin's disapproval of the consistent advocacy by Representative Patrick Kennedy of public laws that do establish or would establish practises that the Catholic Church teaches are morally unacceptable.
Abortion, the death penalty, euthanasia, homosexual "marriage," these are the issues we are talking about.
"...it is becoming evident that Mr. Erdogan's commitment to democratic principles and Western values is far from complete. As Turkey's prospects of joining the European Union have dimmed, the government's foreign policy has taken a nasty turn: Shrill denunciations of Israel have been accompanied by increasing coziness with the criminal rulers of Iran, Syria and Sudan." Washpost editorial
It should be well established here now that I do not favor any US alliances with political Islamists. They always seek to disguise their ultimate goals which are:
1- Establish a sharia law state.
2- Retain power at all costs
For Islamists all else is mere tactical maneuver.
Having said that, it is nevertheless clear that today's lead Washington Post editorial is a clumsy expression of neocon and Likudnik displeasure with Turkey's rather minimal show of independence of Israeli influence.
"Shrill denunciations of Israel have been accompanied by increasing coziness with the criminal rulers of Iran, Syria and Sudan"
The first underlined phrase reveals the true nature of the Post editorial page's displeasure.
The inclusion of the present Syrian government in this list of "bad boys" is particularly revealing. Bashar Assad may be a lot of things, but "criminal" is a charge unproven. In fact, he has consistently tried to follow a course leading to peace with Israel. That attempt has been obstructed by both the US and Israeli governments. A description of Bashar Assad as a "criminal" is an unproven act of libel by what has become an editorial page devoted to foreign interests. pl
- Al-Qa'ida is regaining strength in Iraq with a new focus on the Maliki government. This article in today's Post makes it quite clear that this is happening because of the abandonment of the "Sons of Iraq" by the United States. In the Middle East people group themselves in temporary alliance against common enemies. Why is that so difficult to understand? If you abandon your allies, they will seek other allies.
- The excellent feature article on corruption in Afghanistan that appeared in "The Nation's" last issue got very little attention anywhere. I suppose that is because the implication of American complicity was not fully comprehended.
- David Ignatius writes in today's Post that a Green Beret major named Jim Gant has written a major piece on the need to use the non-Taliban tribes in Afghanistan to control the strength of the Taliban and their Al-Qa'ida friends OUTSIDE the perimeter of the Route 1 ring road. The article is entitled "One Tribe at a Time."
The shape of things to come is becoming more apparent.
1. COIN inside the perimeter, COIN focused on the cities and towns
2. International economic and political development and reform inside that perimeter.
3. Raiding against specific targets outside that perimeter.
4. Development of alliances with tribal entities outside the perimeter.
These are the emerging elements of a new strategy.
Such a strategy will allow an eventual downsizing of the force in Afghanistan to a level that is much more sustainable for the US armed forces. Some short term increase may be necessary in order to stabilize the perimeter but that can be followed by reductions. Using the tribes in the way that Major Gant suggests is the optimal force multiplier for a reduced but politically and militarily sustainable policy n Afghanistan.
Why did we not do that before? As I have written endlessly, the social sciences driven paradigm of the inevitability and desirability of the Nation State in every clime and continent has been an insuperable obstacle to the empowerment of tribal forces. Why? Our military and diplomatic leaders have been indoctrinated with the political science view of the world and the future of mankind.
Whatever the outcome of President Obama’s deliberations, two things are certain. One, the war in Afghanistan will continue, in whatever altered shape or form. Two, it will still be the wrong war, against the wrong enemy, and in the wrong place. The danger that the United States and the West face in that region is not from a Taliban victory in Afghanistanbut from an Islamist takeover of Pakistan. And every day that the war in Afghanistan continues brings that takeover one day closer.
"The offensive, called "Operation Avalon," was led by the 3rd Marine Infantry Regiment, with elements of the 2nd Infantry Regiment of the Foreign Legion.
Intelligence officers estimated there were 60 to 80 armed insurgents directly on the column's path, said Capt. Vincent, who went only by his first name because of French Foreign Legion anonymity rules.
Insurgents could be seen firing on the column of vehicles and then sliding back into houses before attack helicopters could fire back. The reporter witnessed a man dressed like a farmer fire a rocket-propelled grenade at French troops, then drop his weapon and run into a field where he disappeared into a group of villagers.
The forces retaliated with sporadic artillery shelling and helicopter-borne missiles as the fighting intensified later in the afternoon. There were no casualties immediately reported." Yahoo News
""I cringe that he's a Muslim. . . . I think he's probably just a nut case," said Newsweek's Evan Thomas. Some were more adamant. Time's Joe Klein decried "odious attempts by Jewish extremists . . . to argue that the massacre perpetrated by Nidal Hasan was somehow a direct consequence of his Islamic beliefs." While none could match Klein's peculiar cherchez-le-juif motif, the popular story line was of an Army psychiatrist driven over the edge by terrible stories he had heard from soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.
They suffered. He listened. He snapped.
Really? What about the doctors and nurses, the counselors and physical therapists at Walter Reed Army Medical Center who every day hear and live with the pain and the suffering of returning soldiers? How many of them then picked up a gun and shot 51 innocents?
And what about civilian psychiatrists -- not the Upper West Side therapist treating Woody Allen neurotics, but the thousands of doctors working with hospitalized psychotics -- who every day hear not just tales but cries of the most excruciating anguish, of the most unimaginable torment? How many of those doctors commit mass murder? " Dr. Charles Krauthammer
Krauthammer is not a favorite of many of the readers here, but the man's intellect is impressive in a town full of dullards. (Washington)
Common sense supports his position. Both Occam's Razor and the "Duck Rule" as principles of analysis, when applied to the Hasan case point to the truth of Krauthammer's conclusion. Sherlock's Rule? Well, all alternative possibities have not yet been eliminated...
Nevertheless, there are cries of anguish from; the reverse hasbarim, the groupies besotted with the social sciences who insist that what you see is not what is important, and those who are terrified of being stricken, for a lack of PC orthodoxy, from the "A List" for dinner parties on the upper West Side or in Georgetown.
The list of categories protected by "the enlightened" grows ever longer. Muslims, natives of Papua New Guinea, Gay People, Native Americans, the developmentally "challenged," what's next, Canadians?
On a different subject, sort of -- The fact that the Army wants to try Major Hasan MC by general court martial is intreresting in itself. The generals have been reluctant to do this for quite a few decades now. The generals are risk averse over many things. One of them is the danger of bad publicity in the MSM for "drum head justice," etc. The feeling must be that there would be more chance of this man escaping justice in a civilian court, "innocent by reason of insanity," etc. as Krauthammer says. The Army wants a piece of this guy even if they have to carry him up the steps. pl
Joint Publication 3-05 defines insurgency as an organized movement aimed at the overthrow of a constituted government through the use of subversion and armed conflict.This conceptualization is, as a matter of course, used in Field Manual 3-24, which lays out the US Army and US Marine Corps Counterinsurgency doctrine.In all of the discussion of whether President Obama is taking too much time versus too little time in his reassessment of Afghan strategy, of whether GEN McChrystal’s request for additional troops makes sense, whether it even makes sense to be pursuing a COIN strategy in Afghanistan, there seems to be very little discussion regarding the doctrinal definition of an insurgency, how that lines up with the actual nature of the political violence in Afghanistan, and the effect on the policy debate and planning.Successfully engaging in counterinsurgency is very difficult.For instance, US military personnel have been assisting with the Filipino efforts against the Moros off and on for 104 years!
An Indian friend sent this phtograph from a church in North India. It reminds me that there are veterans graves everywhere. It reminds of the monument I crossed a strret to look at in the dusty little Vietnamese town of Lai Khe in 1968. The town was at the center of the 1st US Infantry Division's headquarters camp. The monument was "Sacred to the memory of the officers and men of the 6th Moroccan Spahis 1947-1954." pl
Bid'a or at least the Sunni defnition of it, is in my opinion a direct result of the closing of the gates Ijtihad, something I think you have mentioned before. The inability to adapt or innovate is, in my opinion, the single greatest reason for the stagnation of Muslim society and the end of the advancement of science that the Muslim world was abale to achieve up until the 1400's. Or as you put it, constipated... Wahabism is bid'a taken to the absolute extreme. I defnitely favour the Shia doctrine of Bid'a where only that which is absolutely clear in the Koran cannot be "innovated"; But Then again, you are down to individual interpretations of what is "absolutely clear". I think the very etymology of the word, in that it comes from jihad and the struggle to wrestle the truths from Gods commands clearly makes it a worthwile cause. One of the odditites that I have never really had the time to track down is how Al-Ghazali, who is so linked with the closing of the gates, was also such a proponent of Sufism. Sufism is very much a different path towards the divine but it is one I admire. Anything esoteric and mystical in nature requires dedication and time to truly understand it makes it inaccessible to a majority. And we know how the majority usually handle that which they cannot understand.... But its methodology and practices could arguably be said to be closer to true tawhid than mainstream Islam, and the teachings of its various leaders over time seem to reflect a group more at ease with itself and its religion than the more confrontational groups around it.
"Despite his efforts to reach out to black, Hispanic, Asian and other minority groups in his campaign for governor, Robert F. McDonnell's decisive victory Tuesday was largely the result of his overwhelming support among white voters.
According to exit polling, 67 percent of white voters backed the Republican over Democrat R. Creigh Deeds. He got a larger share of the white vote than any Republican in Washington Post exit polls dating to 1994, with the exception of President George W. Bush in 2004.
One in four nonwhite voters statewide went for McDonnell, about average for Republicans in Virginia with the exception of last year's history-making election, when one in five nonwhite residents voted for Republican presidential nominee John McCain.
McDonnell won big in many of the increasingly diverse Washington suburbs. But his scant support from minorities, despite his efforts, suggests a challenge for the GOP as it tries to retain power in a state that is a destination for immigrants" Washpost
The author of this piece seems to assume that "immigrants" to Virginia will be or remain Democrats.
As I have argued previously, American "immigrants" to Virginia in the Washington area self-distribute on the two banks of the Potomac on the basis of a perceived conservative legal, cultural and business environment in Virginia as oppsed to a more Liberal set of attitudes in Maryland and the District of Columbia. That outcome was reflected in the voting of the recent gubernatorial election in Virginia.
The issue of the eventual political "destination" of non US origin immigrants to the Commonwealth of Virginia is a different issue. The supposition that immigrants from abroad somehow are inherently inclined to liberal politics is probably wrong. Latino immigrants are typically anchored firmly to family, church and community. Indian and East Asian immigrants are prominent in our communities as professional people and business owners. The values of these groups converge with the middle of the road moderate conservatism of Virginians generally.
Why should we not think that in a generation the politics of new Virginians from abroad will not be much like that of the 67% of "white" people in Northern Virginia who voted for McDonnell?
Message for the Republican Party - Don't go chasing immigrant votes too hard. They will come to you. Remember who "brought you to the dance." pl
PS Alexandria and Arlington are special cases that I will discuss sometime.
I recommend to those interested that they take the time to watch the lecture I gave on Islam at St. Mary's University in March, 2007. It can be found on "The Athenaeum." It was posted on 17 March, 2007. Category - Religion. pl
"Maj. Hasan, raised a Muslim, had wanted to go into the military against his parent's wishes, but he was taunted by others after the terror attacks of Sept. 11, his cousin said.
A former Fort Hood colleague of the shooter said Hasan would frequently make "outlandish" comments.
"He said maybe Muslims should stand up and fight against the aggressor," retired Col. Terry Lee told Fox News. "At first we thought he meant help the armed forces, but apparently that wasn't the case. Other times he would make comments we shouldn't be in the war in the first place."
Hasan had been optimistic that President Obama would start pulling troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan, Lee said, but when that didn't happen as quickly as he hoped, Hasan became angry.
"He was sort of a loner and kept to himself," Lee told Fox News. "He didn't socialize a lot with officers off duty or on duty."" Fox News
It is sadly amusing how much people do not want this to be about the man's religion or his Palestinian ancestry.
His relatives understandably want other Americans to believe that he was traumatized by listening to soldiers' stories about the wars. They certainly don't want people to think that there was anything about the atmosphere in his father's house that caused this man to reject the land of his birth and the obligations of his oath.
The media flacks have now been conditioned into political correctness to such an extent that they can't bring themselves to suggest that his Islam or his sense of grievance about American wars in the Islamic World had anything to do with what he did.
Subject to revision as more becomes known. This is how it looks to me:
- Hasan was born in Arlington, VA and raised in Roanoke, VA 200 odd miles SW of Washington. He is a native born American and a Washington Redskins fan.
- He graduated from high school in Roanoke. Then he went to Virginia Tech.
- After graduation (1997) he was sent by the Army to the Defense Department's own medical school in Washington. He paid no fees and received an officer's pay and allowances. Following graduation as an MD and commissioning as a captain in the Medical Corps, he continued his education at Army expense and was an intern and then a resident in psychiatry at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. This process took 6 years.
- He then practised at Walter Reed specializing in treating PTSD victims and the like. Other Army doctors tried not to send him patients because they did not like his attitude. Inevitably, he received a poor effectiveness report. Ironically, the Army had invested so much in him that this probably would not have affected retention decisions about him.
- He avoided other officers socially and professionally to the extent he could manage. He avoided women colleagues. He would not be photographed with a woman. He asked his prayer community to find him a wife. They did not do so. He had no visible sexual relationships.
- He was transferred to Hood to do what the Army had trained him to do. Inevitably the Army decided that it was his "turn in the barrel" and sent him orders to deploy to one of combat areas to practise his medical specialty.
- He told people that he did not want to participate in wars against Muslims in a non-Muslim army. He tried to get out of the Army. Not surprisingly, the Army would not hear of that. Security camera video in a convenience store in Killeen, Texas outside the gate of the post shows him wandering around wearing strange garb apparently intended to set him apart in that town full of soldiers, present and past.
- He is reported to have uttered "Allahu Akbar" before he opened fire on what he seems to have seen as God's enemies.
Alienation. Alienation. Alienation. He was taunted by people over being a Muslim? Have we not all been taunted about some unfortunate thing?
"After losing Virginia's governorship for the first time in eight years, some Democrats are trying to console themselves that Virginia is at its core a "red" state. This ignores not only that they won back-to-back governorships but also that Democrats defeated a sitting senator in 2006, took control of the state Senate in 2007 and won an open Republican Senate seat and three House seats in 2008 while carrying Virginia's electoral college votes for the first time since 1964. " Ed Gillespie
" Some Democrats?" I suppose Ed Gillespie means people like me (see my previous post on the election) No. I am not a Democrat. I am one of those independent libertarian conservatives that Ed's party no longer attracts very much.
His assertions about past Democratic victories in Virginia ring hollow to me. As I wrote previously Gillespie's party nominated unattractive candidates for governor several times. That is how they lost those elections. Jim Webb did defeat the egregious George (Macaca) Allen to win a senate seat, but even in that uneven contest Webb, a genuine war hero and former Republican only won by a few thousand votes. Mark Warner, a quintessential Virginia gentleman easily triumphed over former governor Jim Gilmore for the US senate seat left open when John Warner retired. What a surprise! Gilmore is the man who hand picked Mark Earley to be the Republican nominee for governor in the election in which Mark Warner became governor. Gilmore tried a number of jobs after leaving the governor's mansion in Richmond. None of them worked out very well and Mark Warner finished him off in the senatorial election. RIP.
It has been continuously asserted by Republican "strategists" that demographic change in Northern Virginia has changed the balance in Virginia politics forever and that as a result the real contest in Virginia politics is for this new and exciting factor (that is, the Yankee Northern Virginia vote)
Strangely enough, the graphic posted above and provided by the Washington Post indicates that the vote in Northern Virginia this year was exactly the same in political distribution as was the vote in 1997, twelve years ago.
Why is that? That is an easy question to answer. Self selection takes place in the way new residents distribute themselves in the Washington metropoitan area. This happens when people move into the area and later as well when they decide where it is that they are more comfortable.
We "commonwealths" are not everyone's choice of neighbors. pl
"Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, 70, said Obama has approached him several times through oral and written messages. It was the second time that Khamenei, who wields ultimate political and religious authority in Iran, has referred to the president's outreach.
The White House has not confirmed sending letters to the Iranian supreme leader but has acknowledged a willingness to talk to Tehran and said it has sought to communicate with Iranian leaders in a variety of ways.
In his harshest comments yet on the Obama administration, Khamenei said in a speech Tuesday that the United States has ill intentions toward Iran and is not to be trusted.
"The new U.S. president has said nice things," he said. "He has given us many spoken and written messages and said: 'Let's turn the page and create a new situation. Let's cooperate with each other in resolving world problems.' "
Khamenei said he had responded in March to Obama's overtures, referring to a speech in which he said he would wait for changes in U.S. policy toward Iran before reassessing ties.
Since then, Khamenei said, "what we have witnessed is completely the opposite of what they have been saying and claiming. On the face of things, they say, 'Let's negotiate.' But alongside this, they threaten us and say that if these negotiations do not achieve a desirable result, they will do this and that." " Washpost
The red places (most) are still firmly red and the blue places (few) are still blue. The Democratic Party enclave on the Potomac remains a beachhead but only that. Other than there, Deeds won among his neighbors in Bath and Allegheny Counties (a matter of courtesy), among black voters in traditional Democratic constituencies and in the little university community "islands" scattered across the state.
The Commonwealth remains reliably conservative in the bone deep attachment of the people to their own values, traditions and way of doing things. Moderation, moderation, moderation; that is the touchstone in Virginia politics.
The crazed preachers do not win statewide races here and neither do their proteges. The only serious threat to McDonnell's ascendancy was his bizarre association with Pat Robertson's university, but, on balance, he, and his family looked so familiar that people just overlooked that.
The Republican problem in Virginia in the past has been party apparatus driven candidate choices. That collection of the defeated and discredited have reflected the national party's dream of becoming a majority through "outreach" and the delusions of the country club crowd that runs the state's party apparatus rather than the clear preferences of those who vote in all those red, red counties. I have not forgotten the chilly reception that Earley received at the Republican convention in '01 in Richmond when he was nominated to run for governor against Mark Warner. He spoke with fervor of his beliefs. He spoke in half a dozen languages as he accepted the nomination. Lao, Spanish, Cambodian, etc. The crowd of delegates from all those red, red counties got quieter and quieter as he dug the "hole" deeper and deeper. I left the convention convinced that he would lose and he did.
The lesson that the Republican Party in Virginia should learn from all this is that "you have to go home with the one(s) who brought you to the dance." pl
"ONE OF THE rhetorical questions frequently tossed out in the debate over Afghanistan concerns the brewing trouble in Somalia and Yemen, both of which are known to host al-Qaeda cadres and training camps. If it's necessary to pacify Afghanistan to protect U.S. security, goes the taunt, must we also intervene in Somalia and Yemen?
The presumed answer is: "Of course not -- and therefore why bother with Afghanistan?" The more sensible response is: If something is not done soon about these lawless places, one or the other may well become the next Afghanistan -- a place where U.S. military intervention was compelled by a devastating attack on the homeland. " Washpost lead editorial
Can there be any doubt that what the Post has in mind are COIN campaigns in these and all other "necessary" places?
"COIN = political reform + economic development + counterguerilla operations." (Bernard Fall's definition)
The prophets of COINism must be upset today with their fellow travelers at the Post. This kind of thought must be concealed from the American electorate if they are to be manipulated into acceptance of the unending series of revolutionary wars that are the emerging destiny of the United States.
The COIN prophets+the COIN generals+the neocon revolutionaries+the neocon driven corporate media; this coalition of the obsessed and the self-obsessed is driving America towards commitment to a future filled with COINist zeal for revolutionary change across the world, starting with the Islamic world.
The inevitable end of that development will be national bankruptcy and political unrest that will make the 60s and 70s look trivial by comparison.
We should thank the editorial page of the Post for revealing what this all about. pl
"... let's examine the hard side, which is the terrain of Special Operations forces. They have two distinct faces. One is the "black" SOF that attacks high-value Taliban targets. These are stealthy and superkinetic operations, using the latest technology to hunt enemy fighters and then capture or kill them. The mission, basically, is to make it very dangerous to be a Taliban operative -- and thereby shift the balance of intimidation in this war. The SOF warriors are also targeting the networks that produce the roadside bombs killing coalition troops.
There's a softer side of SOF, too, in the so-called "A-teams" (short for "Operational Detachment Alpha"), which are fighting what they call "unconventional war." They are sent into towns and villages to work with the Afghan army and police -- and, under a new program, to assist tribal leaders whose power and authority have been sapped by the Taliban. These are creative operations, employing some of America's best soldiers. They reflect a growing understanding of what counterinsurgency experts call the "human terrain map."
"It's like all the instruments in an orchestra," says a U.S. military commander of the different parts of the battle plan. "You have to know how to play them together."
As Obama has deliberated Afghanistan strategy, the debate has tended to polarize between "CI" and "CT" advocates. But this is a false argument. What the United States actually has in Afghanistan is a mixture. Obama must now decide whether to provide the resources -- and take the risks -- to test whether this combined strategy can succeed." Ignatius
David Ignatius is an interestng man. I sat on a panel discussion with him and some other people long ago when I still worked for the government. He said at the beginning that it was unfair that I be there since I had access to classified information and therefore knew the truth. I thought that was an odd attitude for a journalist. He seems to have overcome that handicap and to be well and thoroughly briefed wherever he goes.
In this editorial he passes on to us the results of his latest "ration" of information in Afghanistan. He lays out some of the elements of the over all COIN effort that is being created. Some of it is SOF in both aspects. It is striking that Ignatius is just now learning what "unconventional warfare" means in the Special Forces context.
Ignatius poses the question that his briefers want asked. That question is whether or not Obama will give them the forces and other resources they want to execute this strategy that they and their civilian advisers have devised and which they are pressing on the Commander in Chief.
They have missed the real issue in the present dispute.
That issue is not if Obama can be manipulated into doing what they want. The real issue is whether or not the American electorate can be persuaded to support the effort that they want for very long.
I would say that they can not be so persuaded, and therefore a more modest effort should be designed.
The advocates of the "go big or go home" strategy probably think that their information operations will deal with that problem.