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02 November 2009

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Fred

Do the ‘editors’ actually read what they write.
“What's needed is a complementary and concerted effort to bolster the Somali government and its army, so that it is able to turn back al-Shabab and extend its authority across the country.”
Only two paragraphs later: “The country has lacked a national government for 20 years,..."

If the neo-cons insist we provide Somalia a government we should insist it be led by Bush and Cheney, the neo-cons loved them and they are available.

"The indelible lesson of Sept. 11, 2001, is that they must be countered aggressively.”
No, the indelible less of the Sept. 11, 2001 is that neo-cons can not be trusted to defend the US. The indelible lessons from Iraq and Afghanistan are that they can’t be trusted with either the truth before starting an unnecessary war nor win the one that was.

William R. Cumming

Do I understand correctly the Obama has given a ringing endorsement to Karzai a la JFK's ringing endorsement of Diem?

Sidney O. Smith III

At least from my perspective, Petraeus’ COIN manual looks cutting edge -- if it were 1966 and USM officers in DaNang were reading it. Brings up the old adage about fighting present conflicts based upon tactics from the last great war.

COIN in this day and age comes across as a code word for US “occupation”, particularly of nations with a majority Muslim population.

Of course, neoconservatives relish the idea of a US “occupation” of the Middle East and Islamic world. Likud Zionism after all, depends upon an anachronistic model of Western imperialism.

If the goal is taking out Takfiri jihadists, then I do believe you can take one precept from Bernard Fall from St. w/o Joy and place it in a global setting: to win, the US military and the people must emerge on the same side of the fight. Such does not occur when the US militarily occupies other cultures while the USG sanctions ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. Won't happen. Ergo, COIN = occupation = clash of civilization.

And if the goal really and truly is taking out takfiri jihadists, then a troubling question arises: don't the Iranians want to take out such jihadists as well?

Bill Wade of NH -- you make some great points re: Ron Paul. I can’t go as far as some of the Lew Rockwell crowd but Paul and his views, in this day and age, may lay the best path to restoring a balance of power to a government insanely imbalanced and bloated too. He certainly deserves respect.

David Habakkuk

Cieran,

Your point about the need to identify the right problem is key.

It seems to me it is also important to distinguish between two kinds of problem, which in this context means two kinds of danger. Some kinds of danger are clearly susceptible of definitive elimination. Others are resistant to definitive elimination, so that the sensible focus is on trying to limit the extent of the danger.

Both actual experience with Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan, and the way that the retreat and collapse of Soviet power have been interpreted, condition Americans -- and perhaps in particular American political elites -- to believe that the dangers they face are indeed susceptible of definitive elimination.

In fact, however, the danger posed by 'lawless places' providing sanctuary for the takfiri jihadists is a classic case of one where one does not have good grounds to be confident that such elimination is possible. Effective policies to limit the extent of the danger -- such as have been extensively discussed on this blog -- have to be based upon an acceptance of that fact.

It is a basic axiom of strategy that it is better to have a less ambitious goal that you have realistic prospects of achieving, than a more ambitious that is likely to be unattainable.

It seems to me highly likely that President Obama is well aware of these facts. However, the problem he faces is that against the background of what so many in the United States are used to accepting, any realistic assessment of the nature of the problem leaves him open to accusations of cutting and running, etc etc. And these would rise in a monstrous crescendo, if there were to be another serious terrorist attack.

An irony about comments such as those in the Washington Post editorial, however, is that they seem to ignore what is actually a central strategic threat posed to the United States by the jihadists. Their own sectarianism and cruelty have, thankfully, militated powerfully against them, in their efforts to mobilise the grievances of the Islamic world against the West in their support.

Where they have however been remarkably successful is in Osama bin Laden's declared goal of inveigling the United States into economically disastrous wars. Seen from this perspective, much of the mainstream media -- and also of the top leadership of the U.S. Army -- would seem to be bin Laden's 'useful idiots'. And this, I think, is something that should be pointed out them.

Walter

Why were we attacked on 9/11? For meddling in the affairs of others. The US is the bully getting punched in the nose.

We used to be the good guys, now we are just the arrogant bully everyone wants to take a pot shot at.

ISL

Dear Colonel,

Personally, I think the US could benefit from the first 2 of COIN:

"COIN = political reform + economic development + counterguerilla operations."

and considering: "The inevitable end of that development will be national bankruptcy and political unrest that will make the 60s and 70s look trivial by comparison."

I add the rhetorical comment:

Suggests the third might come to home.

(To my knowledge, there has been no rescission of the executive order that a US citizen can be designated an enemy combatant and stripped of constitutional rights, even if the courts disagree.)

JohnH

It's worse than what Cieran says. There is no agreement on what the problem is. And until recently there was little interest in discussing the problem. In fact, most of the debate has focused on implementing the right MILITARY solution.

I call this the "ready-fire-aim" syndrome. The only thing in question is the choice of weapon to fire.

Bizarro!

par4

Ending the prohibition on drugs would cut off the money to the criminal/revolutionary gangs/cadres. If that doesn't work we can always make them illegal again. Only a small % of the population gets hooked on the hard stuff anyway.

kao_hsien_chih

What worries me constantly is that some of these COIN types might love to try out their wares in the United States itself. If we do fall into bankruptcy and chaos as the result of their reckless ventures abroad, it might just give them their chance.

frank durkee

David H. has named one of the uninvited guests to the discussion. Given the cost of the "War On terror" domestically and in our foreign adventures OSB's cost benefit ratio has got to be astronomical. This is just the money. The effect on the republic has been greater.

John Waring

Why don't we defend the United States by defending the United Sates?

Putting an army in Afghanistan has nothing to do with defending the United States.

Balint Somkuti

Mr. Waring

It is called isolationism and is something the USA cannot afford in the foreseeable future.

Cieran

Balint:

It is called isolationism and is something the USA cannot afford in the foreseeable future.

Isolationism is the abstention from political and economic ties to other countries. What Mr. Waring is suggesting is (or seems to me, at least) that our military ties are not providing national defense, and should be reconsidered.

Having an ill-considered empire and being isolationist are not opposites. There's plenty of room in between those two extremes, and many countries find prosperity and peace in that middle ground.

As far as the word "afford", well we can't afford our empire in the first place.

SAC Brat

My lesson from the September 11 attacks was that the US would be safer with a fully funded FBI and INS that could keep track of who was entering the country and expired visa holders. However, a fully funded FBI and INS would also be able to investigate Congressional activities, counterintelligence cases and work on other illegal alien issues so there may have been interested parties in strangling these dogs before they could hunt by limiting their budgets.

I am encouraged that some others on this sight consider war profiteers to be a low form of human existence. Maybe the sunshine will spread.

Binh

And the Chinese are going to finance these actions because the cost of these military and financial commitments will grow much faster than the political will to end them.

Charles I

"And the Chinese are going to finance these actions because the cost of these military and financial commitments will grow much faster than the political will to end them."

Too true. Why fight your Main Enemy if you can loan it the money to bloody itself silly? While you extend natural resource investment and access in backwater or ideologically ignored treasure troves like Africa and Iran, just two of the places the Chinese are spending billions on things that don't explode, and then explode your treasury to boot.

William R. Cumming

PL! Question and you don't have to answer on the record or at all but would be of interest. In the World or parts of the World that are Islamic which specific nation-states are the ones that you have most experience of and which do you worry the most about in futuro? Is there some shifting in the historic contest and rivalry of Islam and Christianity now? Is there a chance for secularism to win out over religion anywhere in the Islamic World? No rush on any of these but am curious and would happily work through any reading list on the Islamic or Arabic World you would wish to share with the list or me? I admit almost total ignorance of the Islamic World prior to 9/11, and perhaps even now! In my time in the American military 1968-1971 I knew of no worshippers of Islam. I have also had no Islamic friends. Since there are 1.57 billion current worshippers of Islam in some form and estimates are that they could be 1/3 of the population of the world by 2050 curious as to your take on this potential development? As you know "a fool may ask more questions than a wise man may answer"! Not sure but believe this saying came out of the Islamic World. Perhaps someone reading this blog knows.

Patrick Lang

WRC

I don't "worry" about any of these countries. The whole Islamic Menace thing is just a crock.

Worry about Pakistan's nuclear force. Worry about China. Worry about the financial collapse of the West, brought on by our own foolishness. Forget about the "Fu Manchu" stuff.

If you want to read about the Islamicate civilization, get yourself a copy of "The Venture of Islam" by Marshall Hodgson. That wil keep you busy for a while. pl

Sidney O. Smith III

Although Israel’s relationship with Iran has certainly changed since the publication of Dr. Helms’ McNair 10 paper, she makes an astute observation that, imo, helps explain why neoconservatives have usurped COIN to promote the goals of Likud Zionism and, thereby, disregard completely the security interests of the US. Here is the quote:

“During the 1950’s…Israel’s leader, David Ben Gurion, elucidated the strategy that Israel’s natural allies were none other than minority groups. If turned against each other, these groups could stimulate instability in the Arab world, effectively dividing Israel’s enemies.” (page 21).

David Ben Gurion was not part of the political tradition that gave rise to Likud Zionism but the point is this: historically, Israel’s security strategy was to surround Israel with instability and chaos. And as decades passed, the buffer zone has grown larger, simply because technological advances provide a greater (missile and rocket) threat to Israel. So throughout the history of Israel, “stimulating instability” has remained a consistent strategy and constitute the operative words.

Since the end of the Cold War, neoconservatives have succeeded, for the most part, in making sure the USM now occupies roughly the same area that, in times past, would have been the focus of Israeli operations to “stimulate instability”. Furthermore, they have succeeded in further extending this instability zone outward from Israel, as it now has grown to include much of the Islamic world.

Neoconservatives articulated this desire in the Clean Break Paper, although they masked their intent with the idea of promoting democracy (via the bayonet). And now, the neoconservatives, with “progressive” neolibs in tow, have latched onto COIN to achieve the same goal.

So surrounding Israel with US COIN operations creates a global buffer zone for Israel, almost like concentric circles, with Israel -- actually the Temple Mount and Dimona --as the innermost circle.

US sponsored COIN operations therefore serve Israel’s security needs first and foremost Looked at differently, are the neoconservatives promoting COIN in any nations that are not considered Israel’s enemies? Alternatively, are the neocons promoting US COIN operations in nations that pose no security threat to the US?

And if Likud Zionists initiate military actions, as they are wont to do, that, in turn, enflame those throughout the Arab and Islam world -then the blowback is directed against the US military occupying Islamic lands. Consquently, the USM finds itself in the position of ostensibly carrying out COIN operations but, in reality, carrying the burden of ensuring the actions of Likud Zionists do not affect Israel.

More than that, by “stimulating instability”, Israel draws the US into greater and greater conflict with the Islamic world. And, if a clash of civilizations ensues -- a goal of the Podhoretz school -- the US is now shielding Israel in the Middle East.

In other words, since the USM is occupying the lands of Israel’s enemies, it is in position where, to survive, the US must annihilate the Islamic world. Exhibit A: the Cheney-Wurmser option from 07, vacated by the 07 NIE, albeit for how long is anyone’s guess. If Israel ignores the findings of the NIE and launches a limited attack against Iran, then the Iranian response will be directed against the USM carrying out COIN operations. The third step is a massive attack by the USM against Iran.

So Neoconservatives have usurped COIN to force the USM to protect Israel while Likud Zionists continue to seek their goals -- the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians and the creation of a greater Israel, including ultimately exclusive possession and control of the Temple Mount.

When seen from this light, the purpose of this corrupted COIN strategy is not to take out Takfiri jihadists -- a strategy that would serve US national security interests. No. If anything COIN will increase the number of Takfiri jihadists and thus acts against US national security interests. In fact, implementig COIN throughout the Islamic world increases the risk of terrorists acts against the people of the US.

So, at least from what I can tell from my civilian position, COIN -- perhaps neo-COIN -- has been disconnected from its historical US origin, particularly the idea that COIN would help liberate the oppressed. The Latin phrase De Oppresso Liber and COIN were once closely intertwined, no?

Or looked at differently. When was the last time a Likud Zionist -- Christian or Jewish -- ever agreed with something written in Latin? COIN is serving a vastly different function today than that reflected in the Latin phrase De Oppresso Liber. COIN is now serving the very antithesis of E Pluribus Unum -- the goals of Likud Zionism and Jabotinsky’s Iron Wall.

Binh

Good piece on why winning in Afghanistan won't matter and why escalation there is a fool's errand:

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/node/68820

econobiker

Looks like Yemen might have jumped ahead of Somalia due to the recent attempted plane downing by a Nigerian.

S.NAJFI

H E Aqa Khan failed in Afghanistan, & Iraq Politics bedly.He may be succeed in Africa, Pakistan, & Central Aisa.The Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yeman, & other same counteri's are a" BIG GRAVE YARD " for American Army, NATO, UK, ISRAELI'S, & other agents. The" DOLLER" Game is FINNSHED with Bush dirty game, the Economic World Cersis is also gift from Bush to American, The Obama is doing nothings, the tape of Osama is also going to its end.MI5, MI6, CIA, FBI, MOSSAD, JEWS, ISREALI GOVT,WORLD ZIONIST,RAW, AL-QAEDA, TALIBAN, ( Anarchist) PENTAGONE, BLACK HOUSE, ( White House ), BLACK WATER,BLACK MONEY, ( WORLD ZIONIST) BLACK MAN ( Obama ), BLACK MIND ( Osama ) are Totally failed, in GREAT AFGHANISTAN, PAKISTAN, YEMEN, HAITI & IRAQ.They must stop the war. GOD blees us. THANKS.

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