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03 September 2009


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Mark Stuart

Also, I'd suggest that 'baton d'or' sends this time someone with a 'baguette magique'!

That should do the trick...



"...not the local rebels."

Nor, presumably, local people trying to fill up a can of gasoline:

A NATO airstrike killed at least 80 people, many of them civilians, in a once-calm region of Afghanistan that has slipped under insurgent control, Afghan officials said.

Is there really no other g-damned way than to fire missiles at targets certain to be crowded with civilians?

Every man above 13yo related to the civilians killed just became an insurgent.

Sometimes I wonder if we have people who are working for the best interests of the country or who are just making matters worse. Unbelievable.


Dear Colonel,

Clifford makes a good point, absent a regional solution, the US is likely to face an interminable operation in Afghanistan with AlQ showing up more as in the whack a mole-fashion. Meanwhile, there would be continuously decreasing public support (Hard to see how in the end President Obama does not end up in a lose-lose political situation).

I thought the idea of a concert of the Mideast for Iraq made lots of sense. Why not for Afghanistan?

Patrick Lang

baton d'or

You speak of your "colleagues?" And who are they? pl

Patrick Lang


I have been oversimplifying the process of "renting" tribesmen. In fact there are usually a lot of factors and techniques involved, but money normally plays a role however well the transaction is disguised.

The Mujahideen of the anti-Soviet war were financed by us except for the Sayyaf group, but the war was their war against the Soviet occupier. To say that they were rented by us would not be accurate.

I will say it one more time. They were not the Taliban. pl

Patrick Lang


Not his relatives! Someone else's. pl

Patrick Lang


I would much prefer a general regional diplomatic settlement in he region but it does not seem possible. So...

I try to deal wit hreality. pl


Regarding renting locals, it works but is there any group in the south we can rent? Remember that we drove the Taliban out in 2001 with less than 10000 troops with the help of the Northern Alliance, a gang of warlords who were attracted by palates of $100 bills and had their own beefs with the Taliban. I learned from a question I posted here that once the Taliban were gone the NA went home for their own reasons presumably to resume fighting among themselves. So, is there a "Southern Alliance" out there waiting to be created and coopted like the NA or the Sons of Iraq? I haven't heard of one.

Renting the Sons (for $30M per month) definitely worked in Iraq. I read somewhere that as part of our pullback we turned control of the Sons of Iraq over to the Maliki government and they stopped paying them. I think this accounts for some of the recent increase in violence over there.

Second, an anecdote regarding holding enclaves containing important facilities. I have a friend who is a 747 freighter captain who flies all over the world. One of his regular stops is Bagram. He told me last spring that when he lands there they rush out as soon as the plane stops, bundle him into a flak jacket and hustle him into a bunker until the plane is ready for him to fly back out. The place is regularly rocketed and mortared and on his last flight there before we talked this spring there was a to do at the front gate where some bad guys breached the main entrance and got some ways inside before being run off or killed or whatever. He keeps saying it's too dangerous for what he's being paid but I think he must be paid pretty well since he keeps going back. It does sound like our hold on the neighborhood around Bagram needs some tightening.



Don't know if you saw this, Col., but it appears the full court press is on:



Mark Logan:

Thanks for the link. Fascinating reading, and with views that I didn't realize existed on the CNAS website.

It's gotta be a tough enough job trying to argue in favor of expanding the war in Afghanistan, but debating that point successfully against Colonel Bacevich, and on TV to boot, is a fool's errand. No wonder PBS has a hard time finding war supporters for their debates.

The CNAS and AEI arguments in favor of the war seem ultimately to come down to their worries about Pakistan's nuclear arsenal. These worries are couched in ambiguity, e.g., "regional stability", but the fundamental concern seems to be one of terrorists getting hold of nuclear weapons via destabilizing the Pakistani government. That was the only risk given (albeit implicitly) in the WaPo editorial, for example.

It would be instructive to start having some informed discussions on exactly what would happen if terrorists used a purloined nuclear weapon against a western target. It would do us citizens a lot of good to appreciate our response before such an event might occur, and said discussions would probably do a lot of good for leaders of nations contemplating hosting terrorist organizations such as Al Qaeda.

It would also get us thinking about how many nuclear weapons are potentially available to terrorists (or rogue nations, for that matter, including at least one "ally" of the US), and that information would help us gain a much better perspective on the worries about Central Asia. That step alone would serve to improve the readability of the editorial page of the Post.


The Newshour asked me to critique the government's
Afghanistan policy and I declined. I no longer have enough trust in the MSM to be willing to do much with them. pl

Mark Stuart


Would you care Sir to elaborate on the difference you see about the Mujahideen and the Sunni Arabs? didn't we provide the Mujahideen with money, arms, training and intelligence to fight a common enemy?
The difference i see is that in the case of the Mujahideen they started their war themselves. We didn't have to convince them that the commies were bad for them too. In the case of the Sunni Arabs we had to talk them into seeing our enemy as theirs too, slipping a couple of bills here and there with the help of the Saudis ( and i have no problem slipping a few notes to achieve our goal. I'm not that an idealist or naive).

Clifford Kiracofe:

I do not doubt for a minute that there are numerous such operatives and supporters with beards trimmed neatly decked out in business suits

I respect and value too much your expertise Sir to believe that the intent of this statement is to create general fear of the "green peril". So if true, the question arises why someone with a comfortable social status venture on such a dangerous, treacherous path? Aren't "terrorists" supposed to be poor uneducated bastards?
Hardcore dogmatics? Religious zealots ready to play James Bond in the streets of NYC, Paris or London, waiting for their "appointed" time? Just like in the good old soviet days some terrorists are more emotionally than intellectually driven in there visceral hate for us and will never give heed to reason. But i wonder how critical is their role in that global terrorist outreach?


The security situation is a REGIONAL problem and needs a REGIONAL solution to include Russia, China, India, and Iran.

Aren't some of those countries more interested in the US entanglement and demise in the region rather than a solution? I think that the involvement of the Russian in the deal reached for our US Kyrgyzstan Airbase with Bishkek speaks for itself. What on the terrain or in the attitude of the Chinese, Russians or Iranians could lead me to believe that regional cooperation with those countries, diplomatic or else, would work? What interest would they have to cooperate?


Patrick Lang


The Afghan Mujahideen were already fighting the Soviet occupation when we began to support them largely through Pakistan's ISI.

In Iraq, we actively solicited, assisted and brought into being the nascent and potential animosity of many of the Sunni Arab insurgent groups against the takfiri jihadis, pl

Clifford Kiracofe

MS, "green peril" ???

As to terrorist profiles and orgs, there is a large academic and open source literature on contemporary terrorism you can consult.

Can the US work through diplomatic and other avenues toward regional cooperation on the issue? Yes, but it may well be beyond the now shaky Obama Administration's ability. It was beyond Bush's.

Perhaps the most realistic scenario is: 1) a COIN precipitated quagmire in the Hindu Kush for the US, and 2)rising global Islamic jihadi activity owing to the shaky and increasingly incoherent Obama Administration's inability to deliver a just solution to the Palestine Question. At the moment, this is what I see coming.

Clifford Kiracofe

Neocons, Zionists, etal. "weigh in." Go name by name and research the bios...carefully:

From Politico

"Prominent conservative foreign policy thinkers and activists who backed the Iraq war are circulating a letter to President Obama supporting his engagement in Afghanistan against criticism from left and right, and urging him to stay the course.....


Steve Biegun

Max Boot

Eliot A. Cohen

Ryan C. Crocker

Eric Edelman

Jamie M. Fly

Abe Greenwald

John Hannah

Frederick W. Kagan

Robert Kagan

William Kristol

Tod Lindberg

Clifford May

Joshua Muravchik

Keith Pavlischek

John Podhoretz

Randy Scheunemann

Gary Schmitt

Dan Senor

Marc Thiessen

Peter Wehner

Kenneth Weinstein"



Mr. Kiracofe,

A list with those names on it would make me run as fast as I could in the other direction. I see the Kagans are on it, they seem to have a peculiar bloodlust. If I got those names on a list of neighbors suggesting I spray my yard for weeds, I would probably inquire around to see where I could get crabgrass or dandelion seed.

This might help get us out of there faster. Thanks.


@Clifford Kiracofe,

That's one scary list of characters! If the past decade has taught us anything, when this crew says you should do something, my advice is do the opposite!!!!!


Gautam Das

Clifford Kiracofe,

In addition to the points from your discussions here (New Delhi) in December last, you might want to add Pakistan to that list of regional 'parties'. Pakistan has a definite interest, not necessarily mala fide or only anti-Indian in nature, to be part of any 'solution'. The NWFP is part of the old 'traditional 'Afghanistan' and is affected by anything serious that happens in Kabul. Pakistan needs to be factored into any suggested 'fix'.

Gautam Das
New Delhi, India

Mark Stuart

Clifford Kiracofe:

"Green Peril": analogy to the Yellow Peril of the nineteen century that swept various countries to refer to the idea that mass immigration of Asians threatened our societies and values. And the Green is for the color of Islam.

As to terrorist profiles and orgs:

I had done some reading indeed before i wrote my comment Sir and i don't see anywhere mention of the type of terrorist you describe as being the core critical component of the jihadist/takfiri organizations, but rather a minority. And the key words here are core critical component. I would appreciate any specific literature i might have missed. The mere mention of stock brokers being possibly terrorists, simply creates hysteria among the general public. If i have to watch out for my stock broker, my gardner, my cab driver, or my barber too, this is hysteria.

Can the US work through diplomatic and other avenues toward regional cooperation on the issue? Yes :

Again, what do we have precisely to show that Moscow, Beijing or Tehran would be willing to cooperate? People cooperate because they have an interest to it. What would be theirs?

Also,the list you mention seems to be unfiortunately much longer:

The Best Congress AIPAC Can Buy by Philip Giraldi, September 03, 2009 (original article)

Fully 13% of the entire US House of Representatives, 56 members, traveled to Israel in the largest AIPAC-sponsored fact-finding visit by American politicians ever conducted.

Mark Stuart

Also i forgot Colonel:

I will say it one more time. They (Mujahideen) were not the Taliban.

I understand Sir.

And i also understand that some of those Mujahideen were what we call today in the MSM the Arab foreigners. So one question comes to mind: what happened to those Mujahideen after the Taliban took over? and what remains of them today?

The Arab foreigners worked hand in hand with the Taliban. At least according to open source news. But what about the other Mujahideen, the locals?


Clifford Kiracofe

Gautam Das,

Yes, Pakistan should indeed be on the list. Perhaps in a regional negotiation process, they might become more sensible as to their policies.

The Chinese might wish to rethink their regional strategy in light of their Uigher problem. They should work bi-laterally and also in a regional context to put pressure on the Pak military-political elite with respect to the jihadis.

The recent debate in India over a new round of nuclear weapons testing I should think is useful in sending some messages. If the 1998 tests were in fact inconclusive, it makes sense I should think for some additional tests to iron out the science and engineering so as to be more dissuasive with respect to "potential adversaries."


Where is the "Green Peril" you are talking about?

What were the professions and profiles of UBL and Zawahiri, for example? Keep reading...

I saw Giraldi's piece and it is a good one. Over the past several years at SST I have made the point that IMO the votes of about 75 percent or more of the House and Senate are controlled ("influenced") by the Israel Lobby on matters of interest to it. The Iraq War vote is a case in point as are the votes on bills sanctioning Syria, Iran, and etc. The AIPAC spy cases are also llustrative.

My new book "Dark Crusade: US Foreign Policy and Christian Zionism" (London: Tauris, 2009) gets into the Zionist Lobby issue in some detail with a good deal of historical context. The bibliography has an extensive listing of selected scholarly books and scholarly articles.


Dear Col. Lang,

Perhaps some criticism of the following by your readers might help me achieve more clarity in thought.

America's security interests in Afghanistan -

The peculiarity of the 9/11 plot was that the perpetrators had to maintain suicidal intent for a prolonged period away from their programmers. The selection of the perpetrators crucially depended on al Qaeda having a safe haven where candidates could be vetted.

"Garden variety" terrorism of leaving a bomb - Timothy McVeigh, or Madrid and London - do not require a safe haven for the terrorists.

Therefore, in trying to deny al Qaeda a safe haven in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, etc., the US is only securing itself against one form (devastating no doubt) of attack.

The costs and benefits of any strategy have to keep this in mind.

"Victory" means that effectively al Qaeda is not able to function freely in Afghanistan or Pakistan.

Victory then can simply mean that the US has viable proxies in Afghanistan that will act on its behalf to disrupt al Qaeda.

Babak Makkinejad


Ambassador M K Bhadrakumar in a series of articles at Asia Time (www.atimes.com) has described the various state and non-state actors in Afghanistan.

He has characterized US campaign in Afghanistan as a strategic campaign for Central Asia.

He makes sense to me.

Mark Logan


I think you're right about how uncomfortable it would be for the proponents. Also, if made up of the lot on Cliffs list, I don't suppose they believe their public support would make an Obama decision in their favor any more likely. It's really no wonder they are hard to find on the tube at this moment.

So they wrote a letter...

And what a letter! A paternal patting on the head complete with playing his own words back for him.
May it give the man a good chuckle. May it also make him pause. Would scare the heck out of me anyway...


In Iraq the Sunni insurgency is a side issue. The real problem are the Shiites. They were "pacified" by retreating or in other words they won.

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