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11 May 2010


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Balint Somkuti

With all respect Sir it is not wise to spill the baby with the water.

COIN does not work in A'stan not because it is a flawed concept, but because it has started 5 years late.

In 2001-2002 there was an opportunity which was passed. After 6-7 years negligence it would take a djinni or a magic wand to turn the odds in A'stan.


The senior military officer criticised McChrystal's announcement in February that he had "a government in a box, ready to roll in" for the Marja campaign.

Shouldn't he be fired for this statement alone, whose absurdity and presumption are mind boggling?

I conclude we have no strategy in Afghanistan, at least not one worthy of the name. "Government in a box"! Gawd!

Don Quijote

Let's declare victory and go home... It'll be cheaper in lives Afghan and American than this pointless occupation who outcome is already known... Another US Failure...

Patrick Lang


Yes, in a perfect world COIN is a great idea. Find a perfect world for us to use it in. pl


I don't know McChrystal, but i can't believe the "government in a box" nonsense was a product of pure stupidity. Local government has been an abject failure throughout the length of our little Afghan project and he knows that.

The problem is the habit (which has become reflex) among many senior officers of viewing public opinion in the US as a crucial "battlespace" that must be contested with deception and propaganda. They fundamentally believe that the US electorate is a herd of sheep who will believe it when they're told "all is well" despite the manifest disconnect from reality.

To put a bow around it: In my experience, many officers believe it is their patriotic duty to lie to the American people. We pay them good money to tell us these lies. And the best of the liars are handsomely rewarded with promotion, fawning praise on TV, and lucrative corporate directorships when they retire.


How can we in Virginia convince our two Senators that they need to back away from Afghanistan?


"McChrystal's staff has made no secret of their hope to convince the U.S. public that his strategy is making such progress in Helmand and Kandahar that it should be extended past mid-2011."

I won't bother wishing him luck with this, I would rather say 'good riddance' when the President fires him.


"Let's declare victory and go home."

My read of the short time duration Obama gave to this project was that he plans to do just that.

FB Ali


If it’s any consolation: the Taliban have been successfully employing COIN! They seep into an area, clear out the government authority from it, establish a rudimentary one of their own, and provide the inhabitants with security (from rapacious government functionaries) and a traditional system of law and order.

In a war-torn country, that’s what people want ‒ peace, security and a semblance of order ‒ so that they can survive and rebuild their lives. They will accept, even support, anyone who can provide this. This is the basic idea underlying COIN, and it is a sound one. It has been successfully implemented by small detachments of well-trained SF in small areas in Afghanistan. Where the doctrine goes off the rails is to predicate that this can be done by large forces of heavily armed foreign (and foreign-looking!) soldiers, who do not speak the language, have no clue about local structures and customs, and who bring with them a (tainted) ‘government in a box’.

Afghanistan is a particularly bad place in which to try out COIN. Suspicion and dislike of foreigners is bred into the bones of its people. They have never accepted foreign rulers, or foreign-imposed ones.


During the Bush/neocon reign, we were led to believe that there was a military solution to every problem. Turns out, there's not. At least, not without paying an enormous price.

But has Washington learned any lessons? Or is it full steam ahead to the next war--Iran?

Obviously, the agenda here is not to prosecute successful, strategically important missions.

It would be nice to know what the hell these people think we're doing in places like Afghanistan...


Did Karzai's drug lord brother tag along. Maybe he has some helpful insights as to what our next moves should be.
P.S.(Sorry for the snark Col. I couldn't help myself.)


So is the moment arriving when the decision to pull out the main force is made leaving the Snakeeaters et al to wrap up the initial reason we went there for in the beginning. If so then do not leave any rules behind for them.


I suspect that one of the matters Karzai is discussing in Washington is an "exit strategy' for himself and his family. Otherwise he had better start bargaining with the Taliban forthwith.


FB Ali: the Taliban have been successfully employing COIN!...

This is the smartest thing I've read all day.

2001-2002 there was an opportunity which was passed.

Yes. We'd destroyed Al Qaeda's training camps and left their survivors cowering in caves. We'd dissolved the Taliban government that sheltered them and installed a figurehead President of our choosing, having secured the support of some relatively compliant warlords. We were tolerated by the general population in many parts of the country and occasionally cheered. That was our chance to get out and declare victory. It would have been victory, a punitive expedition so abruptly effective as to give pause to any country that might consider harboring terrorists. For a brief, shining moment, America/NATO looked terrifyingly omnipotent.


Remember the post about the restriction of indirect fire, maybe if we had taken them out at that time Marjah wouldn't be the mess it is now.

Foolbama at least hasa scapegoat for the coming withdrwal from AfPak, but he must be held responsible for this mess not MCrystal.

F.B. Ali, how is Hillary's recent comments about Pakistan hiding Osama bin Laden being taken in Pakistan?

FB Ali


Referring to the 2001-2002 US success in Afghanistan you say: We'd...installed a figurehead President of our choosing...

That was the fatal mistake (resulting from the real agenda of using the country for US purposes). The Afghans wanted to resolve governance issues among themselves under their former king, but the US scuttled this. Things might be very different today if that had been allowed to happen.


The answer to your question can be found in Juan Cole's post on his blog today.


You don't mean Joe Biden, the regular guy who hangs around Home Depot?
Nah...can't be.


FB Ali,
I thought of you today when I read an article in the current Vanity Fair on the State Dinner. It mentioned that in September 1963 Kennedy had a state dinner for King Zahir of Afghanistan. That is the King you are talking about, isn't it?

Also, President Ayub Khan of Pakistan got a state dinner that year for sending 5,000 troops to Laos to fight a communist insurgency.

I've been around too long. History just repeats.

William R. Cumming

FB Ali has brilliantly described the success of COIN in Afghanistan. So someone was reading this blog!


As expected, the Pentagon has been told to cut costs. COIN is now regarded as "too expensive".


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