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06 December 2009


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DE Teodoru

I very much respect this soldier-dad for the risks he voluntarily takes for his nation. But let us recall what Mao once said: a soldier's perspective is like that of a frog looking at the sky from the bottom of a well. A narrow point in time and space is here presented very superficially and I do not think offers a formula applicable everywhere. It wasn't SFs who defeated VC but urbanization of South Vietnam from 85% rural to 75% urban. The guerrilla "fish" were left high-and-dry by the peasant "sea" that went to the cities to, in the words of Hanoi Radio, become "petit bourgeois." Tet Offensive was a desperate attempt to destroy this development and didn't work. Form then on the war was totally NVA regulars, not VC. Well if we succeed in creating modern cities with solid economies, the youth will come for jobs and education; and, the remitanves they send home will make a case the Taliban could never retort. Gant's "secrecy" stuff was kind of cheap drama, sounding more like something McChrystal would have said for far more sinister reasons. Some of the reference at end of this paper are most interesting and, as with his ilk in Vietnam, I would love to spend a couple of days in marathon discussion, for "going native" is not something to ridicule but rather what is needed in order to prove America's good will rather than current image as rapacious empire; the Peace Corps was created to promote the altruistic character of Americans. It was meant, not so much to help people (Americans away from home for the first time can do little to change the desperate historic trajectory of the Third World) but to make Americans appreciate how complex and adaptive often are "strange" ways in which others live. Maj. Gant clearly bonded with locals and seems to have put the well being of his hosts as top priority, thus earning trust. God bless him. Ironically, there are many such commentaries, almost identical, by Soviet vets. Many originally fought with the same altruistic sense as this paper exhibited. But then what happens in one pixel does not make a picture, does it?

Medicine Man

The coat of arms for the US 1st Special Forces Regiment is a stiletto? Or is that a bayonet?

Patrick Lang


That is a Fairbairn commando knife. pl


C. Wright Mills:

"In crackpot realism, a high-flying moral rhetoric is joined with an opportunist crawling among a great scatter of unfocused fears and demands. .. The expectation of war solves many problems of the crackpot realists; ... instead of the unknown fear, the anxiety without end, some men of the higher circles prefer the simplification of known catastrophe....They know of no solutions to the paradoxes of the Middle East and Europe, the Far East and Africa except the landing of Marines. ... they prefer the bright, clear problems of war-as they used to be. For they still believe that 'winning' means something, although they never tell us what..."

I always preferred crackpot realist to neo-con.

But winning one tribe at a time means coming to grips with Islamic culture,and dealing with (gasp!) Muslims. It would take a special kind of American indeed to do that these days.

DE Teodoru

anonymous, I fear one of us didn't think too clearly. When US was struggling against the VCI it indiscriminately used air-drop ordnance and napalm (you should have seen it) on the Mekong Delta to the level of war crime to compensate for our inability to "protect" our troops. As a result, they took flight to the cities where they were housed in shanty-towns on the edges, making for a big security risk. So far it looks like Kabul, Kandahar, etc. But then a CIVILIAN fat old cigar chomper named "Blowtorch" Khomer (I loved him) forced the military to provide for integration of these peasants into the cities economy, becoming what Hanoi Radio called "petit bourgeois" (Trotsky's name for shopkeepers and a clue to Hanoi's frustration. But there was no VC infrastructure with which to get to them to terrorize them back to the countryside. And so, IN DESPERATION, Hanoi forced on the VC the Tet Offensive of 1968 that proved catastrophic for the Viet Reds. I could see the VC screwing up because, as Le Duc Tho (Top Hanoi Party head) admitted, there was no VC infrastructure in the cities. And so from then on the war was HARD HAT REGULARS from North Vietnam only in Soviet tanks guided by Soviet officers. In pitched battles between ARVN and PAVN, if you knew Vietnamese, you could distinguish the orders shouted within each of the two sides as if different languages (more than dialect). Then, from the cities back to the countryside, the South Vietnamese Phoenix-- NOT CIA, AS AMERICANS IN THEIR POMPOUS HUBRIS WOULD HAVE YOU BELIEVE-- rolled up what was left of the VC so much so that, as in I Corps, NVA units walked onto an airfield and just surrendered because they were totally lost and devoid of supplies for which the depended on VCI. In Afghanistan, Taliban has held out so long because, as VC did in early years of Vietnam, because American military are pompous and "I know it all types" and Taliban grew as people got sick of us and our broken promises. You can spin one tribe at a time any way you want but Iraq and Afghanistan are testimony to what happens when you send in soldiers intel blind, language deaf and culture dumb along with corporate crooks. Afghanistan problem was documented on video by the last PBS FRONTLINE journalist accompanying Marines, proving them not the most able Americans dealt with the locals through totally unable translators. Gant can say what he wants-- and I take his word for it ALL-- but over time and space, that's only a speck not a rule, like a lot of hopeless specks in Vietnam. So if we focus on cities and NATO RUNS THEM instead of Karzai, we can offer jobs and education and the young will come. Occasionally a shahid will get through, but mostly the young will move in and the remittances they send home will be an argument against the Taliban that the Taliban CANNOT argue against with all its Koran verses. Two Europeans who know Afghanistan well support my view on urbanization:
Gilles Derronsoro:
and Antonio Giustozzi:
Now BECAUSE THERE ARE NO REAL TALIBAN REGULARS like the NVA, just insurgents, once they lose youths to cities, the Taliban is finished and the countryside excretes their leaders like the immune system excretes bacteria. Had the CIA not interfered in 1981 this could have been how the Soviet war ended. One tribe at a time? I’m sorry, but to my mind that is an Lawrence pipedream that is fine at one point in time and space but will not be how we conquer Afghanistan because WE ARE KILLER INVADERS and Christian Crusaders and Pashtuns are not Arabs against Turks. We must focus on bringing our mom and dad soldiers home so they can raise well the next generation of real American heroes needed to save America from where Wall Street brought it. Ironically, binLaden always said his goal was to BANKRUPT the US and long after he died, it turns out that our banker did his job for him better than he could ever dream. Rather than killing people just so middle aged Americans can feel victorious, it is better to return our troops to defend the homeland. Once you use up all your Maj. Gant-types there are not any left as volunteers. I say that as a World Trade Center survivor. Remember that 9/11 was a REACTION to our Mideast policies and possible only because of the airlines’ criminal negligence, not an Arab initiative because binLaden needed at excuse to kill Americans. WE CANNOT MASTER THE WORLD WITH VOLUNTEER MOM AND DAD SOLDIERS ABUSED AS EXPEDITIONARY FORCES. This is America, not Britain or France circa 1900s.



Thank you, Major Gant....and you too, pl, for posting it.


Another view: My Cousin’s Enemy is My Friend: A Study of Pashtun “Tribes” at http://tinyurl.com/yhr5szs

Written w/Human Terrain Team input, this argues that concept of "tribes' in Afghanistan is quite different(much more fluid) than those in Iraq, so not easy to draw a parallel....

DE Teodoru

Tosk59, do you not see in this paper an assumption that once you clear a piece of land no weeds will grow on it and so you can focus on expanding its edges? Man went from tribes to states because of need for stability in his rear while he works on the edges. One tribe at a time means no guarantees as to whether you sill hold, let's say, tribe #5 while you're trying to bring in tribe #10. Here I agree with Mao, you need a complete revolution that sweeps away the past. Now he needed tree agrarian sum cultural revolution to sweep away old order at local and familial level. We might make a hive and draw the young bees with the honey we put in it rather than try to buy off all the hivs in the wild.

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