« Sacred to the memory of... | Main | Krauthammer, Hasan and the "Duck Rule" »

12 November 2009


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


I hate this phrase, but have to resort to it here: is the bottom line that we find ourselves fighting primarly against the Pashtun? Or at least the great bulk of them, excluding Karzi's Pashtun supporters. And that the Taliban and AQ forces are simply allied with the Pashtun? Cause I have to tell you, I think we are. And as such, I think our efforts are as doomed as the efforts of US Federal Govt to 'rehabilitate, and 're orientate' 'the South' during Reconstruction.

To coin an old speech, 'come home America, come home'. There is much work to be done here. And much trouble brewing in the US, though you might not know it from the MSM. Let unemployment keep going up, and Goldman Sachs personal getting Swine Flu vaccine before women and children get it. People are getting angry. Slowly, but steadily. I don't think this is factored into the National Security Debate. I think they take the American people for granted, no matter how angry the people may get. That could be a mistake.

William R. Cumming

My personal take on AF-PAK is ethnic violence and perhaps civil war! But could be wrong and probably am. US withdrawal except to AF-PAK border areas would clarify the situation.

Question PL? How is the Pakistani military doing in its op in Tribal Areas that jumped off so publically about a month ago?


Thank you. Now that made sense.

US FP does not like grey. Traditionally they seem happier with the Good Guys/Bad Guys system. This is much easier to sell to the public and we can all get behind our military as long as we know who the enemy is. If you start explaining we are fighting one group of people who have a bit of a point to help some other people who also have a bit of a point the US executive might not get the domestic mandate it wants to go global walk-about. Now Iraqis, Afghanis, Iranians, Pakistanis and others may not necessarily view that as a bad thing.


Mr. Silverman,

It would be interesting to hear your take on JP 3-24, which was released a few weeks ago. Here's the first paragraph on insurgency:

Insurgency is the organized use of subversion and violence by a group or movement that seeks to overthrow or force change of a governing authority. Insurgency can also refer to the group itself. An insurgent is a member of that group. When compared to their adversaries, insurgents generally have strong will but limited means. Although some insurgents have no interest in working within any political system, it is this relative disparity of means that normally drives groups to use insurgency to alleviate core grievances. Additionally, this relative disparity of means also drives the insurgents to use subversion, guerrilla warfare, and terrorism, in the face of capable counterinsurgent forces. Insurgency requires few resources to initiate, yet it ties up significant resources to counter as the insurgents seek to exhaust the government in an effort to be effective in the long term. Insurgency allows a group time to potentially gain public support, expand, and secure external moral and material support; it seeks to erode the opposition’s will, influence, and power. In its early phases, insurgency may only be loosely organized with competing interests amongst its subgroups. For example, subgroups may differ on their views of foreign support to the host nation (HN). Additionally, some subgroups may focus more on fighting other groups in the region than they focus on the overall insurgent efforts. Typical insurgencies only become a military concern when normal political process and law enforcement methods are insufficient. Insurgencies are complex, dynamic, and adaptive; they can rapidly shift, split, combine, or reorganize.
N. M. Salamon

the bottom line is that the USA is not wealthy enough, nor does she has sufficient troops to take on 42 million Pashun, and minority other tribes, all of whom want to be left alone. Each time the USA bombs, her soldiers invade women's houses they are asking for more blood feud, which means they are manufacturing their own enemies!
As was revealed the USA contractors are supplying funds to the insurgent to assure that shipments are not attacked!
Finally one should recall that most Afgans are Sunni, and thus Saudis will suppport the insurgency They have the money Uncle Sam lacks].

Sane solution for the USA take your losses and run, to wit quit making wars on Moslems, they do not want you and they have the money and patience to outwait you.

I am aware that the broken political process [Congress, Military industrial complecx and neocon/AIPAC cohort] will not allow the USA to act rationally in her own best interest.


Farmer Don

Ambassador Karl Eikenberry says don't send more troops.

Maybe I'm I wrong, but aren't ambassadors usually very quiet? Their job is to smooth things over, promote the interests of their home country with out making waves. Communication is hush-hush, they are the public frount for a lot of intelligence activity. Their concerns are directed to the government in secret and kept secret.

This is very public. Does this mean that he is the point person for a changing policy in Afghanistan, or does it mean that Cabinet secrecy and solidarity is breaking down in the Obama administration?


Adem Silverman writes:

"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,..."


"What is even more important is that because the conceptualization from JP 3-05 does not really deal with this question of popular legitimacy, a counterinsurgency victory would be exceedingly difficult to achieve. "

The Coin FM talks a lot of legitimacy. The problem is that the COINistas at CNAS ignore that part of their manual and try a counterinsurgency which supports an illegitimate government. Alternatively they want to apply COIN to make a clearly illegitimate government legitimate. That will require brute force though.

FM 3-24:

"1-3. Political power is the central issue in insurgencies and counterinsurgencies; each side aims to get the
people to accept its governance or authority as legitimate."

"1-14. ... Victory is achieved when the populace consents to the government’s
legitimacy and stops actively and passively supporting the insurgency."

"1-113. The primary objective of any COIN operation is to foster development of effective governance by
a legitimate government"

Charles I

Jonst, any conspiracy theorist worthy of the appellation can tell you "much trouble brewing in the US, though you might not know it from the MSM. . . unemployment keep going up. . . People . . . getting angry." IS the National Security" Plan " . There is no real debate.

Q: How do we buffalo 'em enough to sustain perpetual war and perpetual elite profit while gutting the Constitution and paying out the treasury?

A: Get 'em mad at somebody, say "Sic'em!" and then go on about your business unmolested by public, let alone MSM scrutiny.

Is seems apparent to me that whoever is being fought in Afghanistan, inserting more troops is what they desire. Further, I think once you get them in there, they will be drawn to the border regions to meet their dusty fate while in no way contributing to our security or comfort.

These wars are like settlements. Eventually they reach a tipping point where they can't be so easily politically undone. If Israel keeps colonizing, eventually it will be defeated with no homeland to retreat to. If we keep fighting wars of choice, we may be drawn into Pashtunistan with very little apparent choice.


Yes, I accept that 104 years is a bit long. However, won't the Moros be on the ropes once we surge? And once they are properly schooled in governance, rule of law, macroeconomics, banking and bank regulation, primary, secondary, and tertiary education, appropriate incentives and oversight for infrastructure, foreign direct investment, tax policy, clean water, sanitation, and the benefits of a written constitution?

You gotta give it time. I'm sure that CNAS has a plan on the shelf for the Southern Philippines, Yemen, Sudan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, et al.


Excellent post. The fourth and fifth paragraphs are worth reading several times. Legitimacy is a crucial notion.

Afghanistan is a case of too little too late. Taking back control over the whole country is all but impossible now.

However it's not like the Taliban have won either. They hold the South and the East, but the North and the cities are mainly hostile to the taliban.

The allies right now can only seek a median solution. Maybe we shouldn't try to take back the South and the East, but hold our ground and transform as best as we can the North and the cities. And also train an Afghan military force hoping that it will be willing to fight for a government it has respect for.

Otherwise we'll just end up staying around until nobody will want to fight for this government which will fall like Saigon's after the US troops pulled out.

Patrick Lang


That's not what happened. Thr North Vietnamese were stymied and had no idea of what to do, not wanting to advance into the coastal plain until the US Congress made it clear that they would not be bombed.

John Kerry is completely wrong as he always was as a frivolous navy kid. pl


And to Jon Ste (also a W&M alum?):

As the Goldman Sachs executive is lowered into a lifeboat from the Titanic, isn't it understandable that he thrashes his gold-tipped walking stick to keep the women and children at bay? Otherwise, who would manage the flotilla? One must think ahead.

Cf: Andrew Sorkin's new book, in which the dry-heaving (yes I despise him) Paulson's last-minute, "emergency" plan had actually been circulated to Bernanke some six months earlier. Not that Congress was let in on that particular conversation. That would occur in due time, when Paulson (net worth $700 million) deemed it to be propitious, i.e., Goldman's stock about to tank. That would justify the "emergency." They uttered the words "financial Armageddon" and all in Congress scurried to be the first to sign the bailout.

Is the AfPak surge now a reality? (A call to rally round the poor, benighted Afghan citizen?) Certainly it must be based on deep practical knowledge of the conditions in Afghanistan and the likely scenarios to unfold there. The Unocal pipeline, for example--formerly planned to run through Helmand--was predicted to be a success, at least by the experts who conducted the feasibility study (Enron).

We simply are not in a position to question these things.

Perhaps we should just party with the Irish in steerage.

By the way, that part about America waking up? Throwing the bums out? Sorry to report that a) you are exactly right, but that b) the Paulsons of the world took all opposition candidates out to dinner last week and picked up the tab (hookers, booze, blow, and a nice creme brulee). Chance of real reform running at 0%.

They have captured the Congress.

Viewed another way, and to quote chapter and verse: "The time has come for the United States to formulate and prosecute an integrated, comprehensive, and long-term geostrategy for all of Eurasia. This need arises out of the interaction between two fundamental realities: America is now the only global superpower, and Eurasia is the globe's central arena. Hence, what happens to the distribution of power on the Eurasian continent will be of decisive importance to America's global primacy and to America's historical legacy." (Brzezinski, The Grand Chessboard, 1997).

You can no more imagine Pres. Obama refusing to send troops (on the grounds of intolerable corruption by Karzai et al.) than you can imagine our assassinating radical clerics who incite others to violence. We're too civilized for that. And we pay the price for it, too.




Is it possible that a little community organizing is the right strategy?


Cheaper, too.



To younger generations, the arguments about Vietnam must be totally arcane. Yet, it keeps coming back to haunt us; i.e. Newsweek’s article The Surprising Lessons of Vietnam

There are two forces driving the current two occupations: the monies being handed over to war contractors and the fear of the President Obama of being labeled a Loser. LBJ, Jerry Ford and Jimmy Carter were all labeled Losers due to Vietnam and its aftermath.

In 1965 LBJ escalated the War because of one simple reason; the South Vietnamese were unable to defend American airbases in the South. More American troops were required to keep them from being overrun by the Viet Cong. Any American airbase in Afghanistan that is solely defended by Afghans will soon be overrun.

The Newsweek article argues that LBJ should have gone big in 1965 and invaded Laos. But that would have taken a million troops and mobilization, killing his domestic programs. LBJ and President Obama can’t go big. Americans are not willing to be mobilized to fight the big war for some god forsaken colonies on the other side of the world. The Presidents have to fight their colonial wars on the cheap.

The 1972 NVA offensive was blunted by American Airpower. But tactical airpower only works with bases in country and air combat controllers. US airbases in a insurgency will always need US troops guarding them. This is why Congress pulled the plug in 1974. The airbases continued the war and sooner or later would have been overrun. Our offspring would still be fighting in Vietnam if we had troops stationed there.

It is basic human nature of fight a foreign occupation

Patrick Lang


It was more the threat posed by large NVA formations, then entering SVN that caused Johnson to bring in similar large US formations. pl


I'm with you on the community organizer in regards to Afghanistan.
I read the NYTimes article this morning and thought, that sounds and works about right. Let's hope it happens more.


There appears to me to be one characteristic of the Taliban and related groups in Afghanistan and the tribal areas that is a vulnerability: They like money, and do not appear to be averse to receiving it from infidels in return for exhibiting certain behaviours, a fine tradition learned perhaps from the British.

I must therefore ask Col. Lang if perhaps we can buy a form of permanent peace in the region at a considerably cheaper rate then we are now paying?

Clifford Kiracofe

Meanwhile in Mexico:

"...Across the Rio Grande, in the burgeoning Texan city of McAllen, a businessman with family roots in the area for 150 years said that not only had the Zetas sealed off the bridges around Reynosa, but international bridges into the United States as well...."

Clifford Kiracofe

And while decadent, delusional, and incompetent US policy elite obsesses about the White Man's Burden thing -- Afghanistan, tactics and strategy; Pakistan -- the emerging multipolar international situation advances. The US wastes billions/trillions on fool's errands in the South Asia quagmire and our rivals-enemies-competitors roll along with knowing smiles.

As to the Euros, for example,

"THIS week’s expected nomination of a Belgian or Baltic politician as the first president of the European Union is fuelling excitement in Brussels at the emergence of a force to rival the United States and other world powers....America may still be the land of plenty, but as a result of the global financial crisis Europe usurped its place as the world’s wealthiest region earlier this year, according to a survey of assets. Not only that, but in defiance of predictions of its downfall Europe’s population is expected to reach half a billion next year and its GDP is just behind that of the United States and China combined...."

Everyone wants to be "just like us" now don't they. And we can teach them in the Hindu Kush, now can't we...?



I don't even want to be like us. That's hard to say but I don't see any hope without a reform party. The mafia takes over a company, sucks all resources and assets out of it and grows rich, leaving the company bankrupt. They've just gone nationwide.

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo

February 2021

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
  1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
Blog powered by Typepad