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25 February 2012


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William R. Cumming

The USA continues to view its foreign policy and foreign relations through through a domestic prism and its various interest groups. That is a recipe for further disaster and in its striving for national security as opposed to international security reflects badly on the American people and its leaders whether political, economic, military, or religious! There is not even an unwavering support of HUMAN RIGHTS in USA foreign policy IMO!
Bravo General Ali for another helpful to me and perceptive posting!

Iran crisis

That is a great piece. I will definitely print out and read the entire thing on Monday. It really is the most sensible set of ideas I've heard. I thought I had read an article in the NY Times that made it sound like the US was seriously looking at this approach, but maybe I'm wrong.


excellent read, thank you for the perspective.

Charles I

How long would a guarantee for Kabul really be tenable I wonder? For either side(s).


I second FB Ali's commendation of Bacevich's writing. He is unusual in combining strong conviction with absolute intellectual honesty. No unspoken assumptions, no cut corners. I recommend his last book, 'Washington Rules," whose theme is the uncritical catechism about America's exceptional place in the world that rules the thinking of the country's foreign policy establishment.

FB Ali

As far as the Taliban are concerned, I think they will refrain from moving overtly against Kabul so long as they believed the US promise/threat was credible. That does not mean that they will not try to undermine whatever regime is in power there by suborning the Pashtun elements in it or supporting it.

If Kabul falls to the Taliban due to an internal coup the US would be in a bind about intervening.

Babak Makkinejad

FB Ali:

The United States has very many intelligent Civil Servants.

But they are "servants" to their political leaders.

There lies the problem.

In regards to the suggestion:

"...US will continue to guarantee military support against any future Taliban move to attack Kabul or invade the North..." (Afghanistan) it will not happen no matter how sensible it is on paper.

The implementation of that suggestion would mean, in effect, that the United States will be on the same side as the Russian Federation and the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The fundamental problematic, in my opinion, is the always-assumed-but-never-stated belief in the existence of a unitary state in Afghanistan.

Afghanistan was unified in the person of the Monarch. Once the monarch was removed - by Davoud Khan - any upstart could aspire to be the ruler of Afghanistan.

[UK is also a unitary state in the person of Monarch. If monarchy is abolished in UK, the legal basis for that state disappears and new basis must be found - if possible - to keep Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and England parts of the same country.]

In 2002, the restoration of the Monarchy was the most sensible way forward. Now, perhaps, it is too late.

In that case, a de facto partition of Afghanistan between North and South - with a mountain running in between them - is the most likely outcome - in my opinion.

One could look at Somalia - with a functioning state in Somaliland and a Wild West in East and South.

Likewise for Afghanistan; a functioning state in the North with a Wild West in the East for Pakistan's leaders to pursue their brain-damaged "strategic depth" ideas.

The United States is in the process of transferring six maritime patrol aircraft to Pakistan as part of her military aide to Pakistan.

I therefore find the statement "...tension between the Pakistani military and the United States now poses a threat to US security that dwarfs either the Taliban..." not credible.

Since her inception, Pakistan has relied on China and US for aide and succor. I doubt that would change.

One things I would like you to please clarify, if you could, is your concern expressed thus: "...A train wreck that will not just be confined to Afghanistan, but will envelop the region, and especially Pakistan...."

What is that train wreck, in your opinion?

FB Ali

The train wreck that Dr Lieven is referring to is, in my opinion, a civil war in Afghanistan that will draw in the neighbouring countries and other powers with a stake in the region.

The confidence with which you declare the opinions of experts such as Dr Lieven as "not credible" is indeed admirable. However, in respect of his statement about the tensions between the US and the Pakistani military (a subject about which I know something), I would prefer his views to yours. I would strongly recommend that you read the basis for his statement in his article before dismissing it so cavalierly.

Charles I

This is my concern my friend. I do not think there is much percieved credibility left. How much actual capability, aside from special forces and ops could be re-applied as it were, after the drawdown, the homecoming, and the good riddances.

And then there's Pakistani security "needs" as opposed to many, many parties' many aspirations in that theatre.

FB Ali

The one threat that the US can make extremely credibly (anywhere in the world) is that they will bomb the hell out of someone. That threat will be (and remain) very credible to the Taliban, I think.

As for Pakistani security needs, Lieven says that they would prefer the Taliban not to take over the whole of Afghanistan. I would agree with him.

Babak Makkinejad

Thank you for your reply.

If the tension is so serious as you (and Dr. Lieven) believe, why does the United States give Pakistan free weapons?

As for the civil war in Afghanistan; that has been the case since the fall of the late Davoud Khan - it is not new and the neighbour's have lived with it.

I do not find it a cause for concern as I do not see Pakistan and Iran being at logger-heads over Afghanistan - India being effectively out of that country.

And no matter how bad things get inside Pakistan, they will never ever be as bad as what obtained in 1948.

Babak Makkinejad

Yes, so Pakistan will have the South and Southeast while the Russians, the Iranians, and the Central Asians will have the North.


FB Ali, thank you for the thread.

1. Do you think that Afghanistan will then partition into ethnic zones and effectively become two or more countries?

2. Also how do we get our equipment out? The Pak route is closed or closeable and the other routes are 4xs more expensive.

3. It seems we would need to maintain an air base in the area.



"Also how do we get our equipment out" What equipment? There are no tanks that I know of. The artillery can leave on trains if they get busy and the aircraft can be flown out.. pl

FB Ali

A de facto partition is certainly on the cards. Afghanistan has never been a unitary state (in fact, not in name) till the Taliban took it all over. If there is a political settlement it will have to be based, as Dr Lieven has said, on a revision of the utterly wrong-headed constitution engineered by the US. This revision should lead to restitution of the old system in which the regions were more or less autonomous.

There does appear to be a lot of heavy equipment (including light armoured vehicles) to get out. By then the Pakistan route should be open again.

The Taliban will never agree to an airbase in Afghanistan. However, the US does not need one there in order to exert airpower inside the country.



Thanks again for your perspective and the links. The situation in Af-Pak is no doubt very complicated with so many competing interests amid a complex cultural milieu. I can't see how we get a benign outcome.

I too used to be bewildered as I observed and analyzed the financial landscape over the past decades. Now I am just cynical!

Through my limited lens I see growing political instability around the world reinforced by escalating financial instability. In the US, we Americans are unwilling to apply common sense and take a more active role in our governance. Instead, through our apathy we have become susceptible to increased propaganda from the range of interests with the capacity to dominate our political system. We are completely indifferent to the looming train wreck. Even my neighbors who have an innate common sense don't get the severity and believe we will muddle through some how. We are so easily distracted by the Red vs Blue, good vs evil, black and white rhetoric that we can't see straight anymore. Both political parties have brought us here. And we continue to elect the same clowns and expect something different!

I now feel that there cannot be any change until we hit bottom. The next decade will not be pretty in my opinion. I suppose the Kondratieff Winter must unfold as it has in the past. History be damned.

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