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02 November 2009


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A committment of troops to Yemen, and Somalia along with a continuance of troops in Iraq will pretty well surround the oil fields of Saudi Arabia.


Shouldn't that read

Yesterday Iraq,Somalia, Afghanistan today Iraq, Afghanistan,Pakistan tomorrow every one we pissed off yesterday and today plus all those we will piss off extricating ourselves from the above.

"Afghanistan -- a place where U.S. military intervention was compelled by a devastating attack on the homeland." Was it and if it was should it have extended to regime change or stopped at bombing AQ?

Would the US, & the world more generally, be a safer place if the US had not gone on Jihad post 9/11? Would AQ be a relatively small terrorist organisation generally vilified and condemned rather than an umbrella organisation for any local group that was both Muslim and had a grievance? Are we the problem rather than the solution?

William R. Cumming

Again preemptive war has been moved forward to a prominent place in the first and last Obama Administration. He knows he is in the record book so perhaps war is not such a worry for him. What is not realized is that right now, today, the US is vastly overextended unless you wish to take on fully the military/industrial/acacademic empirists and choose your battles more capaby. With 1.57 worshippers of Islam world wide, other perceived threats, this century now looks like a real barn burner for the US with cafe society EU dropped out even for the balkans, Japan about to drop the US for military alliance (already shorting the dollar in conjunction with Korea, Taiwan, China, and others. Still highly dependent on foreign oil it is very clear that whether or not the US opponets are thinking strategically they could not be playing their hand more skillfully if they tried. The Treasury needs beefing up to conduct financial warfare. DHS or whomever needs beefing up for cyber security and critical infrastructure protection. DOD is not reformed and will not be under GATES and OBAMA two who may well try to throw a rope over waste, fraud and abuse in DOD programs, functions, and activities, [and now generally acknowledged that DCAA did many things except audit the DOD contractors many of which knowing that squeezed their civil agency contracts some huge under DCAA auspices)so that now it is really time for Obama and others to level with the people of the US and tell them how dysfunctional the government and its policy formulation system and process is because voter signon will start turnoff tomorrow in various elections. Hey he was dealt a tough hand but Obama has to now know how inadequately he and his staff is prepared for the big leagues. Too bad because they looked like they might grow but evidence increasingly in that the same hubris, ego, greed that has dominated Washington for so long now pervades the policy process which is largely dominated by foreign powers and interests. Tomorrows elections are the first tell tale on the mast head for this group think group.


Maybe your headline should read, "Yesterday Iraq, today Afghanistan, tomorrow Somalia, Yemen and America."

As you say, "the inevitable end...will be national bankruptcy and political unrest that will make the 60s and 70s look trivial by comparison." There are increasing legions of unemployed Americans waiting to be recruited...


After over a hundred years of social, economic, cultural and political distortions inflicted upon America since the conquest of Hawaii, can "national bankruptcy and political unrest" be avoided if the US were to stand down, withdraw to its borders and mind its own business?

Ive a strong hunch that such a development would rip the guts out of America from sea to shining sea and border to border. And those demanding such today would be the same persons whining about the consequences tomorrow.

Its too late Col. We have long passed the "stop sign" warning of the "point of no return."

Clifford Kiracofe

"national bankruptcy and political unrest that will make the 60s and 70s look trivial by comparison"

Yes, as the situation internally here at home disintegrates violence will undoubtedly increase.

We have an unsecured and violent southern border and a massive nationwide complex of organized criminal groups/gangs from Mexico and Central America. These are hardened types.

Mexico appears to be melting down lately and is ungoverned in some large areas with the narco-criminal gangs in defacto control.

In the revolutionary era in Mexico around 1911 some one to two million Mexicans fled north across the border so mass movement across this unsecured border is not something new.

The US foreign policy establishment is at present delusional and disfunctional and apparently can think only in terms of neoimperial projects and adventures as the Post piece indicates.

As we live in a multipolar world these days, our rivals-enemies-competitors will continue to adjust their policies in light of the diminishing power and influence of the US.

After the collapse of the Soviet empire at the beginning of the 1990s, the US should have opted for a prudent policy of retrenchment and caution as a new multipolar world emerged. We did not. The US foreign policy establishment sought a neoimperial role whether in a Republican-Neocon "unipolar" mode or a Democrat "Liberal Imperialism" mode.

Obama "changed" nothing in this regard. We are in the "Liberal Imperial" mode as expressed by the Post piece. At some point in the future, Americans may begin to realize just how deeply they have been betrayed by both political parties... and then perhaps the pitchforks and torches will come out.

Balint Somkuti


COIN is not devil incarnated. Maybe some noecons are but that is another issue. OTOH COIN + neocons are a deadly mix cuz' sooner or later some 'genius' with God speaking personally to him, will try to convert muslims in the guise of population centric ops. Now that will be a catastrophy.

As long as we keep lying to ourselves, to the world and to our own population the gap between reality and real actions gets bigger and bigger until we fall in it and break our very necks out (the thing happening to hungarian postcommunists).

Until we give up on achieving something of a draw in A'stan we have time. After that we would have to fight for it.

Duncan Kinder

If we are going to do COIN anywhere, it ought to be Mexico.

If we were serious about defense, we would be spending less time talking about Yemen and Somalia and more time about energy independence and creating an infrastructure less easily disrupted.

But that would mean a devolution from Washington and New York to myriad localities. Which explains why the Washington Post prefers COIN in Yemen and Somalia.

Howard C. Berkowitz

Perhaps I'm splitting hairs, but, in these cases, are there opportunities for early Foreign Internal Defense doctrine to build the Host Nation capabilities before a major insurgency develops? I fully recognize that FID may not be able to make political and economic reforms, and there is a danger of being dragged in. I've heard mixed things about how well JTF-Horn of Africa is working with locals.

Now, if any of these nations had a potential Magsaysay, that's where all the effort should go. Is there one? Could we find him (or her) if so?

(Can't help but share something silly in that context: the two great moments of Corazon Aquino's life. #1, the humbling experience of triumph and the responsibility for her nation. #2, discovering she had the same shoe size as Imelda Marcos).

John Howley

You are right to highlight this shocking editorial.

I continue to look to structural issues. Kiracofe notes erosion in the quality of decision making.

I wonder whether we still have a coherent governing class, in the sense of a group of people who share assumptions, trust and vision.

(This problem is separate from whether those assumptions are the right ones or not.)

We drive a bipartisan model. If the driver and passenger cannot take turns politely and instead fight over wheel and the map, then we should not be surprised by erratic driving as the wheel is jerked from right to left and the transmission thrown into reverse at high speeds.

Other drivers will give us a wide berth. Soon, we will be alone in the ditch, still squabbling.

Patrick Lang


COIN only makes sense if you own the place or wantr to own the place. Otherwise the costs are too high. Better to just kill your real enemies. pl

Patrick Lang


We have been doing FID in these two places for decades. I participated in it in Yemen 30 years ago against much the same problem set. pl


The question above is not serious question. It's a bit like asking if one should put out a smoldering bonfire in the middle of approaching forest fire. Should we use a bucket or why should we put it out at all?

Who cares? The entire forest is burning. That question should be asked before 200 campers invading a dry forest and leaving half burning bonfire in the past 3 weeks. The question right now is what to do with approaching forest fire.

Open world map. mark places with (a. US intervention in the past 30 years. (insurgency training, organizing finance and network, regime change) (b. places where such intervention resulted in oppressive regime, massive population discontent and smoldering underground politics. (c. Is it Islamic with international connection or palestine connection) (d. is there a US base in 200 miles radius (e. Are they pro US totalitarian regime who has now resort to religious populism?

As you can see, without even knowing what al qaeda is, one pretty much describes the general outline of al qaeda network on the map.

Trying to catch an al qaeda operative that travels from Pakistan, down to south east asia, into middle east then hiding in india while talking to somebody in europe is after the fact.

All those mess and semi stable areas has by now hook up together losely and serve as operation area. If one wants to deal with afghanistan, one has to deal seriously with Pakistan, Kashmir, and all countries that plays wink-wink nudge nudge US backed terrorism/totalitarian regime like philipine, Malaysia, indonesia, Thailand, Australia, Ethipia, Yemen, Saudi ... etc.

Basically, the loose connection terror network like al qaeda is a accumulation of insurgency, training, financial networking that has reached critical mass globally and self sustaining. Training jundullah now means Somalia group knows the latest training few months later and karachi will be the next target. Kurdish and chechens will blow up things in Iraq then more to eastern part of central asia, ultimately afghanistan then south east asia then back to middle east. This not to mention area like Egypt, Lebanon, Palestine, Kashmir, etc.

All those operations in the past 30 years, specially US backed (direct or by proxy) have now created its own self sustaining global ecosystem. Finance, training base, manuals, weapon manufacturing and supply, information network, coordinated propaganda work, etc... etc.

Obviously supporting insurgency is trivial. The question how to turn insurgency off 30 years down the road after it mutate and grows out of control in unstable area. The backlash.

Good luck figuring out what Iraq instability will result 20 years down the road (Syria, Israel, Iran, Russia, Lebanon, Palestine, Egypt)

Current trend of creating giant narco-religious-military state in afghanistan-Pakistan?

It will make golden triangle (UK-US backed insurgency from WWII) and columbia (cocaine cartel/Latin america project gone wrong) like peaceful park comparatively.

Al qaeda is the shadow of what is wrong with the world. It's like cleaning mafia in sicily. Blowing up something in a vilage won't do a thing. It's the entire culture that generate and sustain the mafia.

Same with Al qaeda. As af-pak experience already show. One cannot backed what Pakistan is doing with islamic politics/militancy and wonder why afghanistan can't be fixed. One cannot play stupid with $6B opium trade backed by afghan rulers and wonder why there is unlimited fresh weapons, manpower and multiplying estremist religious school.

Ultimately, one has to deal with Saudi religious/financial policy, Palestine/Israel, Iraq/Kurdish... US shortsighted intervention policy.

The effect now is shorter and shorter and becoming more immediate. The backlash/blowback is not 20-30 years down the road anymore, but 5-6 years. Sometimes only months.

Like I say, open world map and mark it. It's total wtf moment. Unless the accelerating trend is reversed, this won't end nicely.

Patrick Lang


To keep me happy, it will be necessary for you to come to grips with such things as the "rhetorical question," a device of the English language. pl

Bill Wade, NH

Bagram Air Base is boomtown!


Congressman Ron Paul gets better looking everyday.

Green Zone Cafe

If we are going to do COIN anywhere, it ought to be Mexico.

Why not the USA? Or as Howard puts it . . opportunities for early Foreign Internal Defense doctrine to build the Host Nation capabilities before a major insurgency develops?

I've often been struck by the paradox of politicians who endorse any kind of welfare, social grant, stimulus program as long as it's foreign and under the rubric of COIN. "Money as a weapon" as Gen. P says.

Paul Brinkley's Task Force Business Stability Operations doling out billions to bloated Iraqi State-owned enterprises - OK. Bridge loans to major American industrial corporations like GM - not OK. If you have an insurgency in Michigan, would things change?

The dilemma is that both the cost of war and potential failure in Afghanistan and Iraq bode ill for the future internal stability of the USA.

We are going to find out if God has any special Providence for us. Pray and hold on tight.

Balint Somkuti


as usually you are right. If only we can get rid of hypocrisy.

N. M. Salamon

Two interesting articles in Asia times online [nov 2 2009], one on Pakistan, one on Afganistan.


On James Knox Polk's birthday, Nov. 2nd, it would be appropriate to be be talking about COIN in old Mexico.

No. 11 declined to try to annex Mexico, though urged to do so. Thru the years there has been a great tendency to expand the United States North and South. First the founding fathers sent Montgomery and Arnold to conquer Canada. Later, Charles Sumner argued to the British that Canada should be turned over as reparations for British backing of the rebellion. But, Sumner fell out with President Grant b/c he opposed his proposed annexation of Hispanolia.

Jefferson Davis's Peace Plan was to join forces and invade Mexico.

I like the idea of COIN in Mexico for several reasons. It makes more sense than the investment of blood & treasure in Irak and Afghanistan. I also like the Col's idea of a North American Federation.



Fed Official: "[T]he condition of the banking system is far from robust. Two years into a substantial economic downturn, loan quality is poor across many asset classes and, as noted earlier, continues to deteriorate as weakness in housing markets affects the performance of residential mortgages and construction loans.”

The only portions of the economy still performing are government sponsored cartels; the military industrial complex, pharmaceuticals, and telecommunications. Boeing which has lost billions on the last two airliners due problems outsourcing production (both are yet to fly), is spending billions more to open a second 787 line in South Carolina for no purpose other than Union busting.

It will be easier to get the bodies to send to Yemen and Somalia than to find the money to pay for ordnance to kill pirates and rag heads. The US Middle Class is being stripped clean. The only thing keeping the American economy spinning is money borrowed overseas. This will end one day and the USA will be a much poorer place.

If they can scrape together the cash, Veterans will have more god forsaken places to visit to remember their youth and lost friends. Then, they will finally realize that their wars ended a long time ago.


The Mexican army is perfectly capable of conducting COIN in Mexico. Carlos Montemayor described a huge operation in the 1970s in the state of Guerrero entitled "Guerra en el Paraiso" (War in Paradise).

At the end of the successful campaign, the generals sat around toasting their success at the presidential compound, Chapultepec. One asked the just the type of question the colonel appreciates, a rhetorical question: "If the Mexican army suppresses uprisings that have widespread popular support, can it be considered the protector of the people?" No one attempted an answer.

Clifford Kiracofe

When I mentioned Mexico it was in the context of border security and our internal security situation. And also the disintegration of the Mexican state. Particular reference to organized criminal gangs in Mexico and Central America which have penetrated the United States in a major way....

For background, Prof. Max Manwaring at the US Army War College Strategic Studies Center has been working on this for a while. See an earlier monograph 2005 full online text at:

" The primary thrust of this monograph is to explain the linkage of contemporary criminal street gangs (that is, the gang phenomenon or third generation gangs) to insurgency in terms of the instability it wreaks upon government and the concomitant challenge to state sovereignty. Although there are differences between gangs and insurgents regarding motives and modes of operations, this linkage infers that gang phenomena are mutated forms of urban insurgency...."

And a recent monograph 2009 with full online text:
"This monograph is intended to help political, military, policy, opinion, and academic leaders think strategically about explanations, consequences, and responses that might apply to the volatile and dangerous new dynamic that has inserted itself into the already crowded Mexican and hemispheric security arena, that is, the privatized Zeta military organization. In Mexico, this new dynamic involves the migration of traditional hard-power national security and sovereignty threats from traditional state and nonstate adversaries to hard and soft power threats from professional private nonstate military organizations. This dynamic also involves a more powerful and ambiguous mix of terrorism, crime, and conventional war tactics, operations, and strategies than experienced in the past. Moreover, this violence and its perpetrators tend to create and consolidate semi-autonomous enclaves (criminal free-states) that develop in to quasi-states—and what the Mexican government calls “Zones of Impunity.” All together, these dynamics not only challenge Mexican security, stability, and sovereignty, but, if left improperly understood and improperly countered, also challenge the security and stability of the United States and Mexico’s other neighbors."

For those not familiar with the deadly Zeta criminal gang, they were trained by the US and then turned on us...more blowback...

Not being able to secure our own southern border and take appropriate steps for our own internal security, we instead run around the Hindu Kush led by the "Liberal Imperialist" Obama Administration playing global social engineer.

This is not to mention the faux diplomacy and various lies associated with our Middle East "peace" diplomacy which amounts to a blank check for Bibi. Joining Israel to squelch to Goldstone Report at the UN sent a clear message to the region and to other major powers...perhaps a final message about the Obama Administration for many in the region.


Dear WaPo; We have met the lawless places & he is us. (& thanks to Pogo)

Cold War Zoomie

Back to basics. Do those folks in the pic really look like a threat to our Constitution? I don't think so.

And that's what our armed forces have taken an oath to defend.

We already have spooks taking care of business in Somalia. Let them do what they are doing and don't bring in conventional forces .


As a professional problem-solver, I always make it a point to remember that successful problem solving requires two independent steps:

(1) solving the problem right, and
(2) solving the right problem.

The first step is generally the easy part -- you reach into your toolbox and pull out the right tool, e.g., COIN.

The hard part of problem-solving is taking the time to think through the problem at hand, so that all your problem solving efforts are going towards the real problem, i.e., fixing what the problem is, not what you wish it would be.

Advocates of COIN in Central Asia are busy trying to solve a problem they've decided is important, e.g., insuring long-term political stability in Afghanistan. But that's not the real problem here: the problem we face is not one of nation-building on the other side of the world -- it's nation-protecting on this side of the globe.

Hence their efforts are inherently misguided.

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