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21 September 2012


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I attended a briefing on Capitol Hill this morning where one participant said that 300,000 people were killed in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. I can't vouch for the number, but I think the main point made in Col. Lang's insightful commentary is that we have created a deep hatred among a vast majority of Muslims, through our decade of war, our drone assassinations, our references to Arab women and children killed in these attacks as "collateral damage," etc.

I must add that, from what I am hearing, even the British longterm efforts in Jordan may be unraveling. It appears that King Abdullah II is facing several difference Islamist revolts against his rule, including from tribal groupings that were once the backbone of his regime, who are now joining the neo-Salafi camp.

I guess you're saying that it was a pipedream to think that Kabul would be transformed in Beverley Hills through American and NATO boots on the ground. Is the lesson of this deadly folly sinking in anywhere that you see?


I thought the last couple of paragraphs of the article were most telling as it seemed to foretell a partition and civil war.

"...If the foreign forces do not support and leave the Afghan Army in the present condition, things will get worse,” said Amarkhail. He expressed the fear that the result could be that different elements within the ANA will “turn their guns on each other”.
Dawoud Ahmadi, spokesman for Helmand Province Governor Mohammad Gulab Mangal, also expressed the fear that the ANA in the province will not be able to operate effectively against the Taliban if ISAF halts joint operations with the ANA at lower unit levels.
The spokesman told IPS, “We have problems in Helmand province, especially in the North. If NATO doesn’t help in conducting operations at lower level, the Afghan security forces will face problems, because they are not yet ready to launch operations on their own in that part of the province.”


If the Afghan government were to fight the Taliban on there own, they would likely have to operate in a way completely dissimilar to how the US has been fighting the Taliban.

This stems from the fact that the Afghans have to live the place where they are fighting. That precludes many of the techniques the US uses, and requires significant modification of the others. From overall strategy, such that it is, to the level of tactics on the ground.

I wonder what the US is teaching? Little from the American army's experience is likely worthwhile. Who is teaching it? US soldiers and contractors: people from organisations and countries viewed by their pupils, I imagine (using my dubious empathic skills), with suspicion, contempt, hatred: not much respect and admiration, to say the least.


The irony is that it wasn't the Taliban who undermined this collapse in trust. According to NATO's accounting, only 1 in 10 of the green-on-blue attacks has been as a result of Taliban infiltrators: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/23/world/asia/afghanistan-blames-spies-for-insider-attacks-on-western-troops.html?ref=asia.

FB Ali

Col Lang,

Your analysis and predictions are faultless.

The US misadventures in Iraq and Afghanistan (and the earlier Soviet fiasco in the latter) have not only created hostility among Muslims but also provided fertile ground for the rise of fundamentalism and jihadis.

They have created future problems for the West, but they have also ruined any hope of the Muslim world pulling itself up out of the depths into which it fell in the last two or three centuries. For many Muslims, that is the real tragedy!

All that is left now to drive in the final nail is for the US (or Israel) to attack Iran.


"Does he realize what he was saying?" The same question could be asked about countless press conferences by civikian and military leaders over the past 11 years. I am reminded of that opening scene in a Sherlock Holmes tale where Watson, from his wingbacked chair, breaks the silence with " I'm inclined to think....." Holmes with uncharacteristic curtness interjects: "By all means do."

History is likely to register the umatched mindlessness of how we have addressed "terrorism +" since 9/11. More than a matter of disagreeing with premises, purposes and methods - one is struck by the incoherence and illogicality in all aspects at all times. Many more have contributed to this irresponsible behavior by the stilling of their own critical faculties.

One question: has there been any other military engagement in our history (or that of any other country) where senios military officers were expected and did freely comment on every facet of what was going on in the battle theater - including political, cultural, psychological elements? And to do so on a daily basis? How have career officers so readily adapt themselves to this role?


We could move the AAF to Las Vegas and let them fly all the drones. Give the ANA some M1A's and have the Syrians train them. Or just hire Xe.

I remember telling war fans that Afghanistan would take $500B, 250K troops and twenty years. How ignorant I was.

Al Spafford

Would you please provide more information or refer to sites regarding the current situation in Jordan


Pat, not sure you have seen this document: http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB370/docs/Document%2011.pdf. An Army study, "A Crisis of Trust and Cultural Incompatibility." This may be the type of thinking that was influencing General Allen's statement. Not very fun reading, but we who know our soldiers can imagine there is truth to the analysis.


So, what are we predicting for Afghanistan in the near-term? At the risk of being unimaginative, I predict Pashtun areas dominated by Taliban/ISI and Kabul and the rest dominated by US/India/Russia/Iran (yes, strange bedfellows!) backed warlords. So, kind of like 2000 redux.



Maybe the "chums" at Versailles-on-the-Potomac thinks it's worth all that treasure & blood that them ragheads over there sent a female boxing team to the Olympics just recently, as if that's a clear sign of 'civilized progress'.



Yes except that IMO the US participation will be minimal fr political and financial reasons at home. pl

Babak Makkinejad

Muslim polities were in trouble back in 1500s already.

I actually think that Muslim polities are now the most educated and the healthiest that have ever existed.

Where I sit, I see plenty of reasons to be hopeful.

Babak Makkinejad

Neither US nor India will be involved.

Iran and Pakistan have an understanding it seems.

Pakistan area of influence will be Pashtun South and South East, Iran's will be North and North West (Tadjik/Hazara/Turkoman), with a buffer zone in between (perhaps including Kabul).

The Russians will be a distant player.

FB Ali

I wish I could share your optimism!


"ragheads"? Why the racist derogation?

Babak Makkinejad

Not at all; you only need to look at various Muslim countries and areas in 1912 and comapre it with the present time.

By every concievable criterion there has been much progress; literacy, life expectancy, public health, governance, the Rule of Law, agriculture, industry, science, the arts etc.

No doubt on that.

Michael Moore

Col. Lang,

What about India? Don't they have an interest in containing Pakistan?



B-b-b-but diversity!


Michael Moore

You don't read here much. I have always said that the main contest in Afghanistan is between India and Pakistan. That will continue to be the case. pl

Babak Makkinejad

I just do not see it at a pratical level. In 1990s, India had a strategic understanding with Iran - all of that is in ruins now.



The US is not India. pl


Plugged the title into Google and found the paper. The key findings reflects everything said here about cultural incompatibility. The report's recommendations seem completely inadequate to address the deep-seated negative views of each other by the ANSF and US soldiers. Basically the authors have punted by recommending further research to develop recommendations to counter the prevailing perceptions that are leading to "fratricide-murder."


India needs both A'stan and Iran; one for keeping Pakistan occupied/worried and the other for oil. Now, how much that will be affected by the inevitable pullout is not clear. With the recent military acquisitions from USA, India has gone a bit cold to Iran. But nothing like a change in elections that can swing it back.

BTW,here's an anecdotal evidence of good/bad ideas depending on the idealogy/your faith/Imperial plans. The Shia-Sunni divisiveness funding is working very well in India. Most of my muslim colleagues whom I on and off talk to, seem to have hardened their dislike of Shias. One of them went so far as to say they're not really muslims in the 'true' sense(emphasis his). Even a greeting of 'Khuda hafiz' gets me 'Allah hafiz'. I started testing this after reading


If the goal is to isolate Iran, well, it's working. Depending on who you are and what your plans are, it's going to be interesting.

Babak Makkinejad

There is zero chance of cooperation at strategic level between Iran and India - on Afghanistan or any thing else.

The fact remains that Pakistan has gone out of her way to accomodate Iran, I do not expect Iran to somehow assume an anti-Pakistan posture.

The URL that you have supplied is a testament to what ails large sectors of Muslim populations world-wide; fear pervades them to the extend that they wish to put their minds on auto-pilot. That is, they wish not to think.

The war against "Khuda Hafiz" reminds me of similar things - Indonesian Muslims who refuse to reply to "Al Salam Aleikum" (Peace be on You" uttered by non-Muslims; claiming that is reserved for Muslims only.

Or Jewish teachers who refuse to teach Hebrew to non-Jews; it is for the use of Jews alone - they claim.

In India, in case of communal violence between Muslims and Hindus, I read that the ration of Sunni Muslims involved to Shia Muslims is 10,000 to one.

You are riding a tiger in India....

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