How to Move Forward in Marjeh

by Joshua Foust on 3/7/2010 · 11 comments

“As the United States and its Western allies renewed their commitment to the Afghan war in recent months,” reports Alyssa Rubin, “they stressed that it cannot be won without good government.” So what?

But news reports that a newly chosen top leader for that city may have a criminal background underscore the difficulties of finding leaders who are both acceptable to Afghans and palatable to Western allies already concerned about the quality of the Afghans running the government.

C’mon, Rubin—does it raise troubling questions, too? Are you happy Zahir actually has two names so you don’t have to waste space explaining that many Afghans only have one? Buried within that cliché is a very real issue, one Rubin skates around but is actually central to the West’s plans for Afghanistan: is it more important for a leader to be acceptable to Afghans or palatable to the West?

As a case in point: in the U.S., there is a multi-million dollar media industry dedicated solely to complaining about technocratic government—whether Sarah Palin or her many supporters on cable news or talk radio, or other figures like Glenn Beck, there is a massive and growing backlash in this country against the educated ruling the uneducated. Yet that is precisely the goal of government in Afghanistan—rather than allowing something organic, and deeply flawed, to bubble up from the grassroots (such as they are), our plan is to install men like Haji Abdul Zahir, lauded as a technocrat from Germany due, apparently, to his deep background in running a laundromat or working in a hotel. Rubin continues:

News reports in the Western media say that Hajji Abdul Zahir, the newly appointed district chief of Marja, served jail time in Germany on charges of stabbing his stepson. Mr. Zahir, who has denied the reports to other media, could not be reached for comment on Saturday, nor could his main supporter, Gulab Mangal, the governor of Helmand Province. Both men were hosting Prime Minister Gordon Brown of Britain, who had come to visit British troops there…

A NATO spokesman in Kabul, speaking on behalf of Mark Sedwill, the senior NATO civilian official in Kabul, said that Mr. Sedwill had not and would not pressure the Afghan government to remove Mr. Zahir. “Ambassador Sedwill is absolutely clear: Governor Mangal has a responsibility to pick his own team and to monitor their performance in gaining the trust and support of the local population. Any decision he makes about his team is his decision, and we fully support it,” the spokesman said.

Think about the psychology behind these statements, and how these relevations explain the decision-making in Kabul. In 2005, when the British decided Sher Muhammed Akhundzada was too close to the opium industry (they found almost a metric ton of opium on his compound) and too close to the insurgency, they essentially forced Hamid Karzai to remove him from power, replacing him with Mumammad Daud (Daud later left Helmand, tellingly, for the Ministry of Counternarcotics). Gulab Mangal, the current governor, arrived to take his place in 2008. But ever since the Brits forced Akhundzada off the stage of provincial politics in Helmand, security there has become almost unspeakably bad, and for years Hamid Karzar has been trying, unsuccessfully, to reinstall him as governor. Despite Mangal’s laudits in the West for his technocratic tendencies, his tenure over Helmand has not been especially auspicious.

This isn’t to argue that Akhundzada is a good choice for the job. It is merely to highlight what happens when we in the West make short-sighted decisions on leadership without considering the broader political, social, and economic ramifications of what those decisions mean. You can see it at work with Haji Zahir—Mangal, the unpopular governor loves him (and NATO loves both), but Hamid Karzai is opposed to his appointment; As the Washington post reported yesterday, the locals in Marjeh have given him a rather tepid welcome.

Which brings us to Mark Sedwill’s spokesman: he admits we can’t find choir boys to run Afghanistan (the arrogance of assuming we have to install a leader and further distort local power relationships is probably best left for another post). He places responsibility for the selection on Mangal, instead of on NATO, which makes one wonder how Mangal plucked a scrappy part-employed hotel worker from suburban Germany to lead the most contentious area of Helmand. And he elides past the issue of Karzai’s deep opposition to the selection.

So, even though NATO is almost never shy in saying who they want in power and who they do not—many brigade combat teams even have dedicated JAGs whose sole purpose is to investigate and file official corruption charges or to lobby the Ministry of the Interior to remove or replace specific officials—they picked this guy, so no matter what they’re going to go with him. Makes sense?

Then there’s this:

“We have people in the government who committed huge crimes but they are holding big positions so what about them?” said Mullah Abdul Salam, the district chief of Musa Qala. Such allegations of crimes include drug trafficking and corruption…

Local elders said that Mr. Zahir, who returned to the country shortly after the American-led invasion in 2001, was a respected figure in his home district of Musa Qala. At one point, they said, he served as head of the tribal shura at a time when local elders were in negotiations with the Taliban.

Hrm. Musa Qala’s experience both with the Taliban and with Mullah Abdul Salam can only be called utter disaster. If Zahir was involved with the negotiations there—his name does not show up in any press accounts I could find in LexisNexis—then that should be a strike against him, not for him. It means he has a proven record of making things worse.

Meanwhile, Hamid Karzai visited Marjeh today. Curiously, only Al Jazeera English is reporting what happened after he gave his “we pledge to rebuild you” speech: complaints about mistreatment by Western forces.

But the elders also complained about looted shops, house searches, civilian casualties, arrests and instances of international forces using schools as military bases during the offensive.

The said they wanted clinics and schools, and were losing patience with the central government’s inability to provide services.

Huh. And here I thought Afghans were renowned for their patience.


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This post was written by...

– author of 1848 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Joshua Foust is a Fellow at the American Security Project and the author of Afghanistan Journal: Selections from Registan.net. His research focuses primarily on Central and South Asia. Joshua is a correspondent for The Atlantic and a columnist for PBS Need to Know. Joshua appears regularly on the BBC World News, Aljazeera, and international public radio. Joshua's writing has appeared in the Columbia Journalism Review, Foreign Policy’s AfPak Channel, the New York Times, Reuters, and the Christian Science Monitor. Follow him on twitter: @joshuafoust

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{ 11 comments }

DE Teodoru March 7, 2010 at 2:47 pm

Mr. Foust, I was very much appreciated the way you more and more question the Pentagon propaganda campaign for the home front that Petraeus seems to be ruing in Afghanistan rather that at home as part of his presidential election campaign against Hillary, assuming Obama is a one-termer. Sure, the victor in a war lost over and over again a la Russe would be a fine feather in his cap and quite a campaign slogan, but the real issue is– as in 2001– why try to rearrange the physiology of the whole patient rather than immunize him against the cancer?

Taliban is not a future for the country and its arterial input is foreign, not domestic. Yet it, like Hanoi, offers a REVOLUTION, not the status quo. Jihad is– admittedly rather hollow at materialist level– a rather big change notion. Duncanson described the VC as “all things to all men.” Is not the Taliban a lot like that?

So, the people for whom WE have the most to offer are EXACTLY the people that the Taliban bleeds pointlessly: THE YOUTH OF AFGHANISTAN. Therefore, can we not set us NATO-run cities where we educate and economically integrate them, leaving to the Taliban the countryside?

We can hold cities that WE run, not that Karzai runs. We’ll rent the space from him, providing him with some support and protection in exchange for him leaving us runs the NW cities on our own; he can wheel-and-deal with the Taliban all he wants. But we educate (under strict control) employ and materially enrich the youth that moves into *OUR* NATO cities.

From there will come the police and the military (emphasis on former) that will far less kinetically control the Taliban. Military force can be called in when needed but basically we train (2-3 years) police forces and pay them well, serving as the law&order folks that our NATO towns offer to the local regions that ask for them. Surely, you can’t run a Taliban nation on heroine profits in competition with thriving urban economies in NATO-made towns. Yes we run them until youths we watched grow up into administrators and police can take over. That will require far less troops density than the McChrystal vision of 40, 00 surges every so long until we exsanguinate.

Lastly, unless Gulf States stop financing the Taliban, we make clear that we’re cutting them off leaving them to Iran’s tender mercy. That would be quite credible given how we lost Iraq to Shias. Stupidity can easily be turned into deliberate intent in the rather suspicious minds of Gulf States leaders.

America is trying to change a lot with COIN counter-terrorism but our blood flowing and our dollars disappearing in value are too obvious. Isn’t it time for counterREVOLUTION?

BruceR March 7, 2010 at 3:02 pm

John Paul Vann, is that you?

DE Teodoru March 7, 2010 at 7:04 pm

No but I was proud to hnow him well and share his frustrations along with all the Lansdale guys!

Munro Ferguson March 7, 2010 at 5:34 pm

Joshua, have you read this rather scorching analysis of the Marjeh offensive?

DE Teodoru March 8, 2010 at 1:31 pm

Shades of Vietnam in that troop density totally inadequate for topography resulting in all sorts on contradictory policies that put useless “showing presence” probes into danger which eliminates brave mom&dad soldiers while really spooking Afghans as to our ability to hit back. Russians were far better at bringing chopper-chopping fast to contact but were defeated by our heat-seeking missiles (Brezezinsky’s revenge for 1972 Vietnam where NVA got those missiles from Soviets). But in our cut-rate war in Afghanistan, McChrysatal keeps choosing between higher casualties for us or higher casualties for Afghans. That’s the hopeless horn of dilemma when you go kinetic and are spread too thin with nothing to use but mindless air terror or artillery:

http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2010/02/20/86824/probes-overlook-top-us-generals.html

I offer this as yet another way of avoiding Iraq tragedies of “show presence” by defending OUR NATO towns rather than probing pointlessly to kill Talibans. McChrystal can’t have it both ways: high body count (theirs) and low casualties (ours) without lots of “collateral damage.” We are just too intel blind, language deaf and culture dumb for that, so don’t let tall tales of SF cowboys make you think that we can do the mostest with the leastest.

A more passive police force that brings in promises to people THAT IT KEEPS, as opposed to discredited Human Terrain Teams that can’t manage to keep promises. In Vietnam you could always give cash as alternative to broken promises and face was satisfied. In Pashtuwali face is much bigger and harder to wash.

We can create a revolution that will be very contagious, making the Afghans immunized to Wahhabi fanatics paid by Saudis. There’s a guy whose name I forgot that wrote a book about his schools for boys AND girls in which he proves that MODERNIZATION is appreciated by young AND their parents in much of Muslim World. Able police and legal system where accused and victim feel they got a clear legal treatment does as much as religion in Muslim World. One smart cop is worth a platoon of SFs.

Follow Roseneau at RAND who brilliantly exploited the lessons of good police in COIN as opposed to small teeth- big tail bom, boom, boom SF units in rural as opposed to wild mountain border areas where SFs do a wonderful job “going native” and providing excellent order of battle intel
(must read)
http://www.rand.org/pubs/working_papers/2009/RAND_WR620.pdf
and
http://www.rand.org/pubs/occasional_papers/2007/RAND_OP172.pdf
and
http://www.rand.org/pubs/occasional_papers/2009/RAND_OP258.pdf

DE Teodoru March 7, 2010 at 7:00 pm

Mr. Fergeson, it’s a strange coincidence, but I just wrote today to Prof. Johnson and congratulated him for his similar analysis in MILITARY REVIEW while criticizing that he depends too much on retrospective American criticism of the Vietnam War. For example, their statement in FOREIGN POLICY Blog:

“In South Vietnam, an operational area smaller than RC South, the United States and its allies had over 2 million men under arms, including more than half a million Americans, the million-man Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN), 75,000 coalition troops, the Vietnamese Regional Forces and Popular Forces (known as “Ruff-Puffs”), the South Vietnamese police, the Civilian Irregular Defense Groups (CIDG) and other militias — and lost.”

is not quite true and if he read the rich supply of Hanoi’s field documents and historical analysis available he would not say this. Since 1964 Hanoi sought to invade the South to destroy– “annihilate”– ARVN before he US could come in….it failed! Later we, I admit, massacred from the air peasants like flies. But those who survived moved to the cities, turning South Vietnam in a few years from 85% rural to 75% urban. No thanks to MACV but to “Blowtorch” Khomer personal devotion, CORDS and later Phoenix were major successes in reshaping the country as urbanized. Though Westy blocked Gen. Johnson’s PROVIN proposal, Nguyen Van Thieu imposed parts of it and so ‘RufPuffs” proved to be just that in the eyes of Hanoi’s generals. Supported by CAP and MAT teams they held back PAVN even in border regions where Hanoi’s rear bases were. 1967 was not an election between several Republic of Vietnam candidates but between those who resisted VC (Commies condemned to death anyone who voted) and Saigon (Gov threatened to invalidate ID card of anyone who didn’t vote) people voted with Saigon, risking retribution. This was first proof of ECONOMIC superiority of RVN over VCI! The people left the guerrilla “fish” high and dry moving their peasant “sea” to cities, becoming, PER RADIO HANOI, “petites bourgeois.” So again the economic superiority of Saigon showed itself. This caused the desperate Tet Offensive. Melvin Goodman wrote well on all this.

Karzai in 2010 produced only 1/10 of voter commitment that Saigon did in 1967 and beyond when the war became regulars against regulars and Viet Cong existed no more after Tet 1968. The economic benefits of Kabul are nowhere to be seen except in ostentatious villas and warlords’ bank holdings. Taliban has little for popular support as the massive Saudi and Gulf funding goes into arms and graft. There is no Taliban core like the People’s Revolutionary Party that imposed “Communist Internationalism” as cause celebre (nationalism was peddled by Hanoi only to South Viet civilians living in areas where American ostentatiousness and invasion expressed itself.

Johnson and Mason very well expressed the battle between elders and mullahs, except that after a decade of failed foreign footprint the elders are kind of discredited. I would point out that the difference in the massive earthquake between our aid and the superior one of alQaeda/Taliban was even noted by TERRORISM FOCUS of Jamestown Foundation. Point is that South Viets are more forward looking so more forgiving and grateful for compensation while Pashtuns are insane over revenge. Our mediocre military command is like an incompetent surgeon who thinks that he can close the patient every time he needs to study more anatomy then reopening him, insisting that his reputation as surgeon is at stake and therefore the patient can’t refuse re-opening until he finally gets it right. Our criminal incompetence is quickly turning into war crime if we don’t get out soon and let a local solution be worked out in Shanghai Accord of which all neighbors are members. I know a lot of our “terrorism experts will lose their jobs but tough luck, a decade of severe incompetence is enough.

Earlier I pointed to the frightening Pentagon attitude that they are entitled to limitless cost in blood and treasure per the Constitution until they get it right. After a decade of trying to grasp how incompetent rigid military got away with it in Vietnam I’m spending another decade trying to grasp how the Pentagon got away with it in Afghanistan. And then, in a most illuminating debate between Pillar (CIA) and Nagl (ArmyCOIN):
http://www.nationalinterest.org/PrinterFriendly.aspx?id=22916
I read the following brain blowing words by Nagl:
“We need a bigger army, and in a period of double-digit unemployment, building up our armed forces is the right choice. An increase of one hundred thousand troops in the army would provide sufficient strength to bring the force back to a more sustainable rotation schedule; the cost would be substantial, but could be paid for by a national-security tax on gasoline. American flags on petrol pumps, thanking the American people for their quarter-a-gallon contribution to the war against al-Qaeda, are a much more patriotic indication of support for the troops than lapel pins—and would also encourage conservation of a natural resource that will grow increasingly scarce in years to come.”
It’s as if he owes no accountability for his affirmations. To this Pillar responds:
“SO MUCH seems to flow, naturally and effortlessly, from pinning the label “war” on an endeavor. The term evokes images of a single and clearly identifiable enemy and of military force as the main instrument for defeating that enemy. John Nagl beats the “this is war” drum loudly and embellishes it with references to the “home base” of al-Qaeda and the need to fight close to the “enemy’s capital.”
“This is argument by labeling. It pretends that by affixing a word, certain realities follow. They do not. South Asia is not the “home base” of al-Qaeda, which consists largely of Arab interlopers. No terrorist group has a “capital.” Nor is there a single enemy. Al-Qaeda—the group led by Osama bin Laden and holed up in South Asia—has not been organizing most of the terrorism in recent years, even if some of the organizers have chosen to fly the al-Qaeda flag. Nagl sometimes seems to want to go beyond that one enemy, as in referring to the attack on the World Trade Center in 1993. That was perpetrated not by al-Qaeda but instead by other Islamists whose only safe haven was New Jersey.
“Nagl assumes rather than establishes that if the Taliban prevails in Afghanistan, then al-Qaeda will rebuild a presence there, and that such a presence would make the group a greater threat. He says nothing to support the first contention; and on the second, only that Afghanistan is a big country and al-Qaeda would have “more room,” without explaining exactly what it would do in that space that it cannot and does not already do in other ways and in other places.”
The Pentagon learns very little because it always hides its past in secrecy, thus learning little. One would think every square of toilet paper at the Pentagon is marked “TOP SECRET.” But it gets away with passing out its Kool-aid within and in Congress because the academics are not imposing on them the MEANINGFUL DIALOGUE they imposed on us in Vietnam teach-ins. The stuff that comes out from Petraeus’s peanut gallery of war “scholars” is mind blogging. That is why Johnson and many other academics and analysts at NDU, CIA, NSC, are so welcomed to my eyes and ears because those at the universities were cowered by neocon threats to have Congress vet their grants. You who fought this so-called war on terror as volunteer mom&dad soldiers are owed the same attention as got our generation’s Vietnam draftees. MEANINGFUL DIALOGUE is the best medicine for America’s current decline, n’est pas?

How about building NATO-run cities to attract youth, educate them and get them earning a living in REAL economy there? The remittances they send home will speak a lot louder than Koranic verses. There we can develop a real low kinetic national police that will eventually impose rule of law on Karzai and Taliban equally. I could be more detailed but would prefer doing it in collegial MEANINGFUL DIALOGUE for we all have same ends, whatever our disagreements, and none have the answer.

DePetris March 7, 2010 at 8:27 pm

The fact of the matter is that the United States has very few good choices in Afghanistan. The political system in Afghanistan is fragmented and diverse, sometimes divided along ethnic lines and other times chosen based on tribal considerations. Even if a district (such as Marjah) has a representative of the same ethnic or tribal background, feuding could quickly erupt if a rival powerhouse wants to challenge his authority. We see this all the time in the Taliban…if a top leader is killed (like Baitullah Mehsud was in last August), higher management dukes it out until a winner is agreed upon.

And now, you have the United States intervening in this entire affair, only adding a sense of westernization to a process that Afghans have been following for centuries. Hand-picking an official from Germany is certainly not the ideal way of establishing this new “government in a box” approach. If counterinsurgency is supposed to work, and if U.S./NATO forces want to win the hearts and minds of the population, you need a candidate that a typical Afghan villager will endorse.

U.S. involvement in corruption matters is something different entirely. Yes, we are meddling in the affairs of Afghan politics, but we are doing so after an official has time to do his job. And limiting corruption is a main component in gaining the support of the Afghan population.

DE Teodoru March 7, 2010 at 9:27 pm

Fact is that, a decade later, we are screaming “danger!danger! dranger!” and willingly feeding a corrupt corporate involvement in a “all you can eat” McChrystal’s Great Adventure while our brave mom&dad soldiers are bleeding to death while the Afghans discretely laugh at us. Vietnam vets know that when the Third Worlders laugh at us the only way we can win back our dignity is to suddenly pull-out so that they stop laughing, pissing in their pants instead;Obama will sooon pull out anyway, aware of the incompetence he has to pay for at $3 million per Taliban. Alas, unlike peviously, this COIN fiasco is coming when the USA is not in recovery mode but is also economically bleeding to death, victim of our Wall Street guerrillas. I leave you to make the prognosis, DePetris.

Munro Ferguson March 7, 2010 at 10:43 pm

Agreed with you impressively detailed discount of the comparison of Afghanistan to Vietnam. The only truly relevant theme the two share is “it doesn’t work,” and I think that’s a bit general to successfully analogize. Beyond the tactical and strategic differences you lay out, I’d add a much different geopolitical theater. Afghanistan isn’t a contentious proxy battle between two super powers.

Also I agree that the “goes without saying” position regarding
A. The certainty of a resurgent Taliban
B. The consequent reinstatement of an AQ safe haven
a bit myopic. From what I know there was hardly a consensus within the Taliban regarding Osama bin Laden prior to 9/11. Indeed, it seems as though some feared bin Laden’s rhetoric and actions might lead to, well, exactly what they led to. That the Taliban would, if they regained national control (national being used loosely) invite AQ to set up shop seems a bit unlikely. Though, if one viewed the sudden influx of ISI success in delivering top Taliban sorts as being more the Taliban unloading it’s suspected moderates and not so much an increased vigilance on the part of the Pakistani’s, one might disagree.

As far as the Pillar vs Nagl bit: I was quite disappointed with Nagl’s argument which seems steeped not in how we can resolve Afghanistan but in how Nagl can promote what appears to have become more of a commodity for him than a strategic doctrine. I’m not a military strategist but it would seem to me that; you sell commodities, you discuss and reform strategy.

Ysl shoes March 8, 2010 at 2:00 am

Shoes are so funny, styles go in and out of all the time. Mostly, not in any major way, but in the small details, a curve of a heel, the subtle shape of the toe, how much toe does it show… I had a pair of YSL stilettos for the longest time, but sold them because they didn’t show enough toe cleavage, and I thought they were too matronly. D’oh! And I sold a pair of second season Miu Miu loafers because square toes were out.

DE Teodoru March 8, 2010 at 2:26 am

Thank you for your response. I would never dare draw an analogy between any two guerrilla wars– especially as VCI controlled all NLF areas totally and Taliban is a mix of localisms, mafias, war lords and far off “centrals.” The Adenosine Tri Phosphate of VC was PAVN and its supply route, Ho Chi Minh Trail. Taliban’s is convoys that supply us, Afghans and other economy via HQs in Pakistan and every little bitty group can have its own Muslim “charity base.” A fortune is coming in on an aorta from Gulf States and that’s why Pakistanis lost control of Taliban. Chinese are still supplying guns as are Russians, Iranians and Indians because Shanghai Accord wants us pinned down in Afghanistan so we can’t take away from them rich stans neighbors. Drug traffic is run mostly by Karzai Gov but it is heavily taxed and tolled by Taliban. That’s why we don’t hit it as we didn’t hit Laos. Eventually some CIA operatives will become dealers selling to our troops as do many corporate guys.

All in all, the real issue, it seems to me, is that, like V’s, Afghan insurgency can only be beaten by low intensity police work a la Phoenix. It’s success was due to full backing of Thieu, obviously unavailable from criminal Karzai family. It was not assassination squads but skilled detectives like RD cadres that made Phong Huan a success by 1972. The trick is:
1) Low kinetics so as not to arouse severe revenge dedication at village level. Once locals see terrorists and insurgents treated by rule of law (it matters not if by us or Gov) and allow tribal elders to negotiate release on their recognizance, the standing of elders will rise over that of mullahs and youth can be spared punishment. As such, Hoi Chan-type Taliban returnees will forever be at threat of Taliban, which must follow Islamic law to kill them and can’t just shoot them, especially is more than ten in a village. That gives them time to form self-protection armed forces working with cops as auxiliaries.

South Vietnam was far more chaotic and victimized by our stupid firepower. Yet a way out greased with cash turned a lot of VC into RufPuffs who appreciated money but really went after VC in order to stay alive. I was with RufPuffs pushing back PAVN in mountainous areas with no US firepower available so don’t make fun of locals as if Americans are supermen. That’s too German-like!

Village men will eventually always defend local boys, especially if forgiven and given a new chance plus cash and armed to defend themselves. I saw this succeed among some Pashtun villages under Soviets; but eventually these villages couldn’t match CIA $$ to Pakistani hit squads so Soviets, wrongly feeling betrayed, went after the very locals they had turned. I assume that we’re not all like McChrystal and Soviet generals and can learn to play chess instead of good old gottcha checkers.
2) We must create cities that we control because Jihad is like Communist war, a religious REVOLUTION, not merely an insurgency. So we must offer a counterREVOLUTION. We can attract young boys and girls to NATO run and secured cities where they get academic and technical education while well paid to work in a REAL economy. Like urbanization of South Vietnam this attraction made all peasant youth untrustable to crude cadres from Hanoi, as crude as our SF cowboys now. The more Pakistani Taliban come to keep villages in check, the more youths will run away to our cities, sending home money. It’s OK if Taliban takes it away from village relatives for Taliban is getting so much money from our Saudi and Kuwaiti “friends” that money sent home will not change Taliban capacity to hit us. Instead it will create resentment in villages where Taliban controls. Gradually elders will come to us with intel. That’ll be a lot better than McChrystal’s tactic of setting up isolate bases that he won’t defend with ordnance because of tactical confusion. Either Kabul will lose villages or our JDAMS will kill lots of people needlessly to save our cowboy SFs.
3) No army can save Afghanistan, only a low kinetics police swarm of well educated tech-savvy cops created in our NATO cities by Western detectives with looooots of patience. Our soldiers are intel blind, language deaf and culture dumb assisted by Afghans who speak local dialects but can’t understand English. Often our troops threaten Afghans in frustration and their tone is an insult that must be avenged to save Pashtunwali dignity. This will not be the case with Afghan cops (highly paid because you only need a small kinetic army to protect Karzai Gov). It’s time to match our gratitude to our troops with recognition of their limitations (especially our SFs who are selected more for brawn than brains). They are forced to become armed and overwhelmed bullies. That’s the record since VN, sorry. If we could have sent in battalions of women soldiers pacification would have been much faster and better. Women don’t shoot first and then try to hide their fear-based actions.
3) Finally, we must let Karzai negotiate his survival with Shanghai Accord so NATO can trim down its forces to only protecting its towns. And we must begin punishing Saudis and Gulf States for helping our enemies and Israelis for creating enemies for us. We are a dying country and must save America for our kids and the kids of our brave mom&dad soldiers.

Biggest lesson from Vietnam is that Americans overcome their fear with brutality and are very inflexible (like German troops in WWII). We can’t waste our heroes because McChrystal needs a job and Petraeus wants to be President. Unlike Viets, Afghans, like Arabs, never forgive casualties nor insults until after we suffer 2x as much as their hurt pride. No American volunteer deserves to be a sacrifice for the trigger-happy cowboy that preceded him or her in country. A few months locally doesn’t make you a COIN expert; Nagl is embarrassing proof of that. A good COIN guy is the kind of 19th Century unarmed American that went West to sell pots and pans to Indians: guts, genius and salesmanship. Shooters die and get buddies killed. McChrystal is possibly a walking graveyard and his baloney can’t cover that up. Check his Iraq record! I don’t hate McChrystal, I only love the mom&dad soldiers under him more than his career. I want them home to protect America against Muslim revenge for its Bush-it “World War IV” on Islam under an idiot president and a psycho VP!

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