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29 July 2010

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William R. Cumming

I believe the Taliban in both Afghanistan and Pakistan are playing for time and in the meantime levering their activity to allow their allies to benefit from milking US even more--ISI for example, and others in Afghan government circules. Litte evidence todate that Afghans regardless of ethnic background view events so far as chance to improve their prospects! Could I be way off base? Probably. I seem to remember that General Giap was willing to allow the VC to take heavy blows while he worried and waited to deploy his mainforce units. Is someone doing the same with the Taliban?

Chairman miao

I don't think I agree on the issue of the Taliban's legitimacy. From here, it looks like the Taliban is the only "Good Government" (i.e., non-corrupt & locally grown) that Afghanistan has known in 30 years, and the only hope of such government in the future.

All of our strategy in Afghanistan seems predicated on denying this history.

And yes, every Afghan who collaborated with us on trying to modernize the land is going to be slaughtered. If we wanted Afghan modernization, we should have let the Soviets do it. But, anything is better than Communist rule, right? Fine. The Taliban, then, is better than Communist rule. A nation makes its choices...

Norbert M. Salamon

The money is running out for the war, so does the citizens' support. I am aware that the allies prefer to negotiate from posiion of power, but this seems unlikely in the near future, and there is no 5-10 year window left.

As NET OIL EXPORT is declinig due to depletion of fields married with higher use of the natural resource by the nations owning same [Saudi Arabia, Iran, Russia, Norway etc] the price and availability of energy sources will impact all national economies of the Allies, thus forcing them to give up on war, as there are national interests demanding more frugal use of the energy. The latest that the SHORTAGES will hit is 2013, in view of the rising demand [11%/annum by China] from the DEVELOPING WORLD married to NET EXPORT LOSS. Energy use peaked in 2004 in the USA, and since then delcined by 6%, This does not allow for GDP EXPANSION, as without ENERGY no goods are produced - excluding FINACIAL PRODUCTS, which got the world into a major recession.

b

Mr. Moore is right, but waht is his alternative? Does he have one?

Fred

"...group of mujaheddin has defeated a superpower. Such sentiment after the Soviet withdrawal of 1979 inspired the rise of al-Qa'ida and a network of affiliated terrorist organisations that continue to look for new recruits in a global jihad."

Excuse the hell out of me but the USSR invaded in 1979; they didn't leave for a decade. They left a functioning central government.

As to the Mujahidin, this would be the Mujahidin supported by the USA, Saudi Arabia and the Pakistani ISI? This in the same article stating the 'West' 'abandoned' Afghanistan? Does anyone think that instead of the USSR funding infrastructure projects it should have been done by the USA - and that the US taxpayer would have approved in 1989? Fat chance.

While the neocon ranks in Congress will be happy to fund this till the second coming the tax payers are long past tired of the blood and money spent. Too bad Karzai's a crook, the Taliban are ruthless and Obama apparently spineless. The US isn't staying much longer. If the Afghan's don’t like the Taliban they better fight for them to keep them from running the country.

somebody

yes, but who is an US ally? I guess the US inherited colonial policies to fuel the fight of the natives. they did make the mistake to get their soldiers in the way though.

6/29/10: Gen. Petraeus Said It Was Difficult to Determine If ISI’s Contacts With the Taliban and Other
Extremists Were to Support Those Groups or to Recruit Sources – “There Are No Questions About the
Longstanding Lenghts. Let’s Remember that We Funded the ISI to Build These Organizations When
They Were the Mujahideen and Helping to Expel the Soviets from Afghanistan. And so Certainly
Residual Links Would Not Be a Surprise. The Question Is What the Character of Those Links Is and
What the Activities Are Behind Them.” “Well, again, what we have to always figure out with Pakistan
center is, are they working with the Taliban to support the Taliban or to recruit sources in the Taliban?
And that's the difficulty, frankly, in trying to assess what the ISI is doing in some of their activities in the
Federally Administered Tribal Areas, in contacts with the Haqqani network, or the ‐‐ the Afghan Taliban.
There are no questions about the longstanding lengths. Let's remember that we funded the ISI to build
these organizations when they were the Mujahideen and helping to expel the Soviets from Afghanistan.
And so certainly residual links would not be a surprise. The question is what the character of those links
is and what the activities are behind them.” [Senate Armed Services Committee Hearing, 6/29/10]

"The network maintains old links with Inter-Services Intelligence and Osama bin Laden and Pakistan's army has been reluctant to move against them.[2] In 2006 Jalaluddin was called a 'Pakistani asset' by a senior official of Inter-Services Intelligence.[12] Pakistan regards the Haqqani's as important force in protecting its interests in Afghanistan the event of American withdrawal from there and therefore have been unwilling to move against them.[12] The New York Times reported in June 2010 that Pakistan's Army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and chief of ISI General Ahmad Shuja Pasha were in talks with Afghan president Hamid Karzai as they were convinced US could not succeed in Afghanistan.[13] They were trying to broker a power sharing deal between the Afghan government and the network after US forces withdraw from Afghanistan.[14] Reacting to this report both Obama and CIA director Leon Panetta responded with skepticism that such an effort could succeed.[15] The effort to mediate between Haqqani's and Afghan government was launched by Pakistan after intense pressure by US to take military action against the group in North Waziristan.[16] Hamid Karzai later denied meeting anyone from Haqqani network.[17] Subsequently Kayani also denied that took part in these talks" Wikipedia

Tyler

Colonel,

Thought you'd be interested to know Time is running a picture of a noseless (otherwise attractive) Afghani woman on its cover with the bold caption WHAT HAPPENS IF WE LEAVE AFGHANISTAN.

Looks like the drumbeat is taking a different tack to reinvigorate the liberals I reckon.

FB Ali

This is some strange gobbledygook cooked up by an armchair strategist.

Political space, and the requirement to fill it before the enemy does, is a long-held tenet of counter-insurgency. In Afghanistan, however, there has been an intellectual failure to include politics in a strategic framework...... It is the battle to shape how local communities see the political space -- in other words, who will come out on top ‒ that is critical.

Harping on “political space” as the key to a victory strategy ignores the many other factors that are really causing the problems that face the US and NATO in Afghanistan. He seems to think that all that is needed is for the US/NATO to convince Afghans that they are winning. How do you do that without actually succeeding on the ground?

b

@Tyler - the funny thing about that Time picture - the woman was mutilated while "western" troops were in Afghanistan.

The caption "What happens if we leave" is thereby nonsense.

If they could not prevent that, what is their use there?

different clue

Chairman miao,

If we are talking about a few tens of thousands of top level Afghans who worked with us based on believing we could keep up the effort doing the right things the right way until the country was Taliban-proof; we should let them move to our countries if they have no safe survival future in Afghanistan after we leave.

Then too, the Taliban never were popular or liked outside Pashtunistan. The same non-Pashtun ethnic groups who supported the Northern Alliance before could do so again; if they are given enough arms, supplies, etc. And if Russia and the Central Asiastans feel that part of Afghanistan should remain nonTaliban; they can very well resupply and resupport the Northern Alliance within its own area until the Taliban give up trying to conquer it.

I don't know what to say about Kabul. Do the urban Pashtuns who like living in Kabul really want the No Music/ No Movies/ No TV/ No Nothing No Way No How life which the Taliban would re-impose? If not, would they be in a position to prevent the re-imposition of Taliban Culture Rule if they had a lot of material (NOT personell) assistance at the outset? Is there even any way we could even know the truth about that?

John Moore

With respect to the way forward, a few suggestions:

1.) Stop using carrots to influence Pakistan, use sticks. As seen in the wake of 9/11 with the Armitage demarche the threat of a stick actually caused movement, but the distraction caused by Iraq and return to carrots in the US policy towards Pakistan saw Islamabad revert to old practices. Absent a move against the Afghan leadership inside Pakistan there will be only limited progress; removing Pakistan as sanctuary is critical. The Pakistani military loathe its US counterpart and the US government, and no amount of education or military assistance is going to change this perception.

2.) Given the loss of face by allowing Karzai to steal the presidential election, force his hand on coruption and name then target all levels of officials within government that are involved regardless of rank or position. At the same time help create space for potential future candidates to develop a foundation from which to run against Karzai in the future.

3.) Put pressure to realign the balance of power between the executive and legislature. A presidential system was never a fit for Afghanistan, but it is likely too late to revert away from this. However, the power of the presidency needs real checks and the legislature needs to be representative. Like against Islamabad, use sticks against Karzai - he has no real friends in the neighborhood.

4.) If fraud becomes evident in the upcoming parliamentary elections make a stand; do not assume that Karzai has power, as he would soon realize that making any regional power a bedfellow would, in the end, mean his loss of power (if not death).

5.) Stop throwing away aid money on projects in the south that end up either going to waste through corruption or destruction by insurgent forces. At the same avoid channelling funds through corrupt Kabul government offices and provide a mechanism for direct control over aid money distribution and project implementation. Use money where it can have benefit, and build in Kabul (as well as Mazar, Herat and J'bad) something that actually serves as an example of a somewhat better approach to development. With Kabul and its suburbs remaining cesspools Karzai has failed at being the "Mayor of Kabul" as well as at national leadership.

6.) As implied by another commentator, although in somewhat rude fashion, changing perceptions of political power is only done by achieving results on the ground. As such the military effort to kill Taliban (and the component groups either branded as Taliban or associated with it) leadership should continue apace, as well as the development of the Afghan police and army. At the same time the reality that nation-building, at least in the sense of a modern state, should be seen as foolish. The intent is to ensure that Afghanistan does not again become a sanctuary for AQ or successor groups. As such the experiment in village defense forces - assuming the remain supported - may be the right option, time will tell.

Regardless of points 2-6, if point 1 is not addressed effectively the rest will likely matter little. At present the UK is loath to go hard against the Pakistanis because they want ISI cooperation against Pakistani ilitants in the UK / targeting UK interests. London seems to have forgotten that it is the current Islamabad policy of hands off at home that in part gave rise to and supports militancy in the UK and elsewhere. The Taliban were routed in 2001 and melted away as its constituent parts saw a shift against them. When that shift was assessed as short term Pakistani sanctuaries allowed a resurgence and sustainment as it did in the 80s against the Soviets. This is the center of gravity that allows the insurgency to continue. One might look at a recent article by Chris Alexander on the WikiLeaks fiasco to be reminded again of this reality.

Lastly, I apologize for one error in my original article. I mistakenly stated "1979" as the year of the Soviet withdrawal. Of course that was the year of invasion, with withdrawal ending in 1989.

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