Counterinsurgency Is Not Just Talibans

by Joshua Foust on 3/18/2010 · 28 comments

Bing West—with an apparently unlimited travel budget?—has a report up about Operation Moshtarak, asking if we can learn any lessons from it. While the obvious answer is, “yes,” there are some things to consider.

First, nowhere in the first four pages does West mention even tangentially the needs or concerns of the local population. Since the paper he is writing is subtitled, “Applying Counterinsurgency to Local Conditions,” and he talks a lot about the Taliban in the area, one would wonder why he never asked why the Taliban was so especially concentrated in Marjeh (it was at least partially our fault). Secondly, while West is explicit in his focus on warfighters, we learn nothing of the environment in which they operate, save a few Taliban here and there and a whole lot of IEDs. I do believe people also live in this area, but much like the first point we really don’t hear much beyond BG Nicholson “reaching out to hundreds of elders and mullahs” or something. How did he reach out? What did he say? If the outreach was so good why have Taliban already filtered back in to behead collaborators? Is that also a “best practice?” West addresses none of these questions.

There’s also a worrying bit here about opium:

The next stage will be the poppy harvest in late April and early May. Marines and DEA are intermingled with police making it tough to export drugs via the main roads. Odds are the Taliban have taken a large hit in finances, because they won’t be able to organize the purchase and export of wet opium, let alone refine it inside Marja. Instead, many small-time dealers will resort to smuggling small amounts over the back roads, fracturing Taliban control and reducing the profit margin.

I’m guessing by “wet opium” he means opium paste? Anyway this is a big part of the point above about not knowing the population and focusing only on the enemy—which is not really doctrinaire American counterinsurgency. In Marjeh, opium IS the local economy. You cannot make it “tough to export drugs” without making it tough for regular people to earn a living, at least not now at this point in the season. And the drug smugglers are widely reported to have a stockpile of several thousand tons of opium paste—years’-worth of the global demand—saved up for just such an eventuality. As the Taliban learned in 2001, seizing drugs and clamping down on exports only drives prices into the sky, making opium that much more profitable. The DEA is, in other words, and contra what West reports (from whom, I wonder?), actively enhancing the profit margins on the opium paste already stored up for export.

Then there’s this:

A grunt doing seven months can do with less and push harder than when he has to do twelve months. The argument that he makes less meaningful relations with Afghans is shallow. Most grunts don’t form relationships because they don’t live in the villages, and there is no evidence that twelve months yields better intelligence results. There is ample evidence that twelve months does yield fewer patrols per day.

A reporter recently made this same argument to me, but it is actually part of the problem with population-centricity in Afghanistan. West is quick to draw a paragraph analogy to Anbar, but in Anbar (and in Baghdad) Marines actually were living in the villages, in community security outposts, amongst the Iraqis. They refuse to do that in Afghanistan—despite having terrible logistical support, the Marines sent out into the bush do not live off of or participate in the local economy. Everything they eat, drink, and wear is, essentially, imported from Dubai. So while a seven-month rotation might allow them to endure more punishing combat operations, there still isn’t enough evidence that the improved security they can create actually translates into more permanent COIN-type gains at the local level (and there is already plenty of evidence to support that they are merely as effective as the Army in this regard).

But at the end, West’s conclusions either agree with established Army practices (i.e. train local forces locally, and go after the enemy), or outright snipes at the Army (i.e. the bit about tour length, which is stated rather than argued). Which tells us… just about nothing, save the insight his piece lends into how the Marines are choosing to view their efforts in Central Helmand.

Oh well. I can’t wait for his book to come out.

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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 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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A. Washington March 18, 2010 at 4:12 pm

Mr. Foust – I periodically read this webpage to follow what is going on in Marjeh. I have observed a lot of criticism of the US government and its military about it is dealing with the difficult situation in Afghanistan. I have no problem with you expressing your opinions and observations – I believe in free speech, even when I disagree with what is being said. What I do take issue with is the fact that you don’t provide practical solutions, strategies or ideas to address the very problems you identify. It is easy to point out flaws, problems, inconsistencies, etc., especially for such a complex situation as Afghanistan and when you don’t have any responsibility for the outcom, but you avoid the hard part, which is to offer ideas, suggestions and approaches to deal with all the policies, approaches, strategies, etc. that you consider wrong, misdirected or inconsistent. If you want some real credibility, I suggest you ‘man up’ and propose realistic solutions, approaches and/or strategies to address the very issues you are so quick to point out. As the cliche goes, if you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem. Talk is cheap, especially when it is all criticism…. With respect to your column today, how would you propose the US government and military successfully deal with the local Afghan population whose economy relies on providing the raw materials to those who sell illegal drugs flow around the world? How would you keep the Taliban out of Helmand and establish an economy that supports the local population without being involved in illicit drugs? I look forward to your reply.

Joshua Foust March 18, 2010 at 4:14 pm

No offense, but this line of argument is not only unconvincing—a critic is under no obligation to provide an alternative in every single essay—but I HAVE addressed each issue you raise in previous posts. Do a tiny bit of homework (see that search box just up and to the right?) before casting aspersions like this.

reader March 19, 2010 at 7:56 am

Logical fallacy here, you assume there are solutions when perhaps there are none, or at least no good ones. That’s the problem with the US decisions/policies are made and then they call in experts to implement them. Rory Stewart had some pointed criticisms of this advice while driving a car over a cliff approach. To be honest, it gets tiresome, Foust isn’t required to provide solutions and would you have him keep his mouth shut and stay with the team for the big win?

Yossarian March 22, 2010 at 5:27 am

He has offered a lot of new ideas through the course of the last year or so, but, in any event, Mr. Washington, you are wrong about the need to offer alternative when criticizing something. If this were the case, no one could criticize anything.

Let’s use an unrelated example – government (namely, the U.S.) response to the global financial crisis. I am not an economist. But, I know for sure that if having 7 large, monolithic investment firms controlling a strikingly large portion of global financial transactions is bad, only having 4 is worse. I know that doling out hundreds of billions of dollars (literally over night) in cash with little to no oversight of said capital and orchestrating hostile takeovers of insolvent firms is at least irresponsible and possibly illegal. I could go on, but I won’t.

I am not a policy maker, and have no direct stake in solving these problems, but, by your logic, it’s useless for me to point these things out because I can’t formulate a new global financial system.

DE Teodoru March 18, 2010 at 5:09 pm

Mr. Washington, first of all, the issue as I see it– and I would appreciate your comment– is whether a totally incompetent surgeon has the right to insist that the victim of repeatedly botched operations who miraculously survived owes the surgeon the right to go back in because his professional reputation as a surgeon is at stake? In other words, do we still have a right to propose– meaning to IMPOSE– ANY solutions after screwing up so badly? Perhaps the Shanghai Accord could do a lot better in dealing with the Taliban as the Arab nations around Iraq did in preceding the Petraeus “surge” with a quelling of the insurgency. That would mean that we could “man-up” to the fact that our expeditionary force is top-heavy of AHs who learned nothing from the past, just keep repeating UTTERLY STUPID ERRORS at the expense of our courageous and invaluable mom&dad soldiers. I urge you to chew on the following heart breaking essay from SMALL WAR JOURNAL’s recent essay contest that got only “honorable mention” while a superficial essay on CORDS– that only intimated without fully appreciating that our “BETTER WAR” in Vietnam did not begin until the people of South Vietnam stood up to protect their villages from the invaders from the North– got top prize:

Here’s ex-combat vet in Afghanistan Andrew J Person’s essay that can only make you cry for our needless heroic casualties:

Madhu March 18, 2010 at 6:43 pm

Well, I like his books. Kind of a lot.

I haven’t read the West piece, but am planning to do so. In a way, this post is kind of a nice – if critical – introduction to said article.

@ A. Washington – I think one concrete proposal made (if I understand correctly from previous posts – I may be getting this wrong) is that we need to do a better job protecting and engaging with populations displaced by our own actions. I think that’s pretty concrete. I’m not sure what all of this will do LONG TERM, but short and mid-term, that’s sounds fairly concrete and reasonably doable.

Good criticism is always warranted. Good criticism plus reasonable suggestions for a way forward always gain you more respect. That’s just life. That’s just human nature.

reader March 19, 2010 at 8:05 am

“Good criticism is always warranted. Good criticism plus reasonable suggestions for a way forward always gain you more respect.”

Madhu, you seem like a reasonable sort but I’ve problems with your last statement. It is accepted wisdom and in its own way is reasonable and helpful. But this sort of mentality gives governments/societies the excuse to remain inert when it comes to policy. “Going forward” in most instances means staying on the same path following the same overall strategy but shifting tactics. It prevents radical, necessary changes to long-term strategy. The problem with false optimism, which is a deadly thing, is that the assumption is that there is a solution out there and if we just put our minds to it we will find it. Moreover, because optimism feeds off of false consciousness it reacts angrily to realistic appraisal of a situation. Perhaps the solution doesn’t involve “US”?

Madhu March 19, 2010 at 10:55 am

I don’t disagree with much of what you are saying, actually, reader. A better way to put it: an individual is more likely to be listened to by powers-that-be if that person offers some sort of solution, even if the real-life correct answer is, “we really should get out of the way.” Is that better? 🙂

DE Teodoru March 19, 2010 at 12:00 pm

Heh, Madhu, imagine your oncologist saying: I don’t know of any cure for your mets, but maybe if you drink Chlorox you’ll kill all those bad cells faster than the good ones….That’s idea of chemo and, you know it doesn’t work on solid tumors. Still, we do it because it’s better to make the patient suffer than to do nothing….Besides unless we attack we must pink-slip the generals as Fords did in 1975. I don’t get your logic when you have strategic responsibility…maybe it’s OK if you’re a platoon leader in a hopelss box, but not if you’re McChrystal.

Madhu March 19, 2010 at 12:13 pm

Again, I made my point poorly. I was talking about the psychology of why some people are more likely to be “listened to” by policy makers than others. That’s it.

reader March 19, 2010 at 4:18 pm

Actually Madhu, you’ve made your point wonderfully several times. Teodoru, the problem as I see it with McChrystal’s level of this “process” is that he is concerned with the Mission, and relatedly I think all post-Vietnam senior military leaders are concerned with the military’s image and morale. Note this doesn’t translate into consideration for what is good for the nation, the Mission takes precedent over all other considerations. Everybody in the US could be living in cardboard boxes in rags, but just so we “get er done.” This is what McChrystal has been trained for. This doesn’t mean he is blindly obedient to his superiors, note the borderline insubordination he showed to Obama, and was allowed to get by with, BTW. I’ve enough relatives and friends who are military to know that they might despise a president like Clinton or Obama or “libs” in D.C., but will give their lives for “the mission.” I know I stereotype here and many don’t fit this bill, but as a culture this is the military; indeed, most military around the world. This, in my opinion, is what makes the US military so dangerous. Once let loose on a mission, it’s hard to call them off. They are like a bloodhound on a scent, and don’t even look up to see the truck driving down the road at them. Oh yes, we do have analysts in the Pentagon and elsewhere whose job is to look for those trucks, but many of them are driven either by ideology (like Douglas Feith or cold warrior mentality), $, testosterone- which doesn’t always manifest itself as machismo, btw- or career considerations that they are just as much a cause for concern.

reader March 19, 2010 at 4:08 pm

Spot on.

CTuttle March 18, 2010 at 7:54 pm

*heh* As I just commented on Josh Mull’s new post at the Seminal…

When I trained with 10th SFG prior to GW I, their primary mission was to work directly with the ‘tribal’ elders/populace, within each team; A or B, you had a Monterrey trained linguist of that particular area, you also had a highly skilled medic, and they conducted real COIN ‘hearts and minds’ ops… Setting up medical clinics, living/eating with the natives, steadily earning their trust through humanitarian deeds, i.e. providing generators, water pumps, medicines, etc…!

Downsize our Marines and Ranger/Light Infantry footprint and concentrate on providing humanitarian assistance, utilize the drones to patrol the routes, stop the seek and destroy mentality that prevails…!

McChrystal is a product of the 75th Regiment and truly bastardized the JSOC’s OP mentality when he lead it…! That is a travesty…!

Bobby March 19, 2010 at 7:09 am


I agree with your argument that the classic ARSOF mission was precisely what we needed in a counterinsurgency (and in fact, the recognized need to do FID in Southeast Asia was one of the reasons that the Green Berets were formed in the first place) and that it has been bastardized, but I think the blame needs to go MUCH deeper than just to GEN McChrystal. It was well in place before McChrystal got to JSOC and, in my opinion, was driven by the “sexiness” of the Navy SEAL direct action and precision targeting (which was never a classic ARSOF mission). The attention heaped on the success of killing an HVT here or capturing an HVT there seemed to create a degree of “penis envy” that the ODAs– being at heart warriors– desperately wanted to take part in and share. In fact, today, even within the ARSOF community, it is rare to find an ODA team leader that wants to do FID– the vast majority of the ones I worked with in three different countries (7 of 9, to be precise) seemed to focus almost exclusively on “direct action / precision targeting” over FID missions… Despite the fact that FID provides the only real long-term institution-building that is essential to enduring security (precision targeting, while essential, nonetheless provides only transitory contributions). If we’re ever going to be successful doing COIN, we need our Green Berets to be Green Berets again, not Navy SEALs, not Delta. IMHO, of course.

DE Teodoru March 19, 2010 at 12:04 pm

Or you can go to Las Vagas with this “One Tribe at a Time” mentality, betting on your lucky number until you’re escaunguinated:

Again, it’s like painting, ya gotta step back and ask yourself: wjat the f— am I doing? For what in the end?

DE Teodoru March 18, 2010 at 8:29 pm

Very interesting comment, Mr. Tuttle; but I wonder if it’s not really a bit late to work THROUGH village elders. Like the old WWI saying goes: “How do you keep them from leaving the farm after they’ve seen Paris.” Youth is in context and elders of village do not have pull (my experience a generation ago but I think still valid) the parents might have and parents do not see their sons’ futures in listening to village elders. If we had NATO run and secured cities where we educated and employed youths in real jobs in a real economy, the remittances they send home would speak louder than Koran, n’est pas?
And the Taliban would seem to them like annoying country bumpkins to shoot if they get out of hand.

At any rate, too much blood has flown between US military and Pashtuns, especially as latter has been introduced to wide Muslim World as alternative. You know, a lot of them are not told by Arab visitors about mosques and religious festivals in Arab world but about modernity and wealth. We should try and engage these youths to see exactly what they’ve heard of. They may be as restive as other Central Asian youths and we never knew it

anan March 18, 2010 at 8:54 pm

DE Teodoru, you sometimes ask me to respond to your questions. What questions are these, if you don’t mind clarifying for me?

The Taliban have killed many Afghan Pashtuns; and many Afghan Pashtuns join the ANA and to a lesser degree the ANP to fight them.

Why do you think the ANA can’t defeat the Taliban?

The Marines haven’t been in Helmand for very long. The Marines can establish relationships with locals in ways that are more difficult for the Brits; since the Brits have a longer file with them.

CTuttle March 18, 2010 at 9:45 pm

I can’t argue against what you just said…! We truly botched it up from the get go…! Subsequently, we’re screwed…! But, we do need to pursue the employment of the local youth…

Ironically, at the same time that we need to resolve our, or rather, the dire US employment rates…!

DE Teodoru March 18, 2010 at 9:53 pm

Thank you for your response, anan. I wondered if you think that there are analogies with Iraq in terms of regional rather than US-internal Pashtun national solutions. What the US is “setting-up” in Afghnaistan seems extremely expensive. Are they preparing something like what Russians set up to fail when they left?

I’m having trouble seeing clear differences. In the end Kabul won’t have an economy to support such expensive American processes. As soon as the Kennedy Bill passed, Saigon was cut off of gasoline and bullets. It was an American made massacre by Communists, just like end of Afghan War. There was no economy to support a real Kabul Gov.
We are fighting a counterREVOLUTIONARY war, not a counterINSURGENCY war….So where’s our alternative revolution?

I discussed all this with Giustozzi but there are too many unpredictable nexus points for anyone to predict whether what we’ll be doing until Summer 2011 will be worth anything.

As I said, my contact with Mideast has shown that war with foreigners needs to be fed in blood so when the foreign force lowers the anti and doesn’t tit for tat, people get sick of the war and Jihad becomes dispersing cloud. Can we reach such a point and avoid endless cycles of revenge in Afghnaistan?

DE Teodoru March 18, 2010 at 11:34 pm

Your words are so heartbreaking, Mr. Tutle, but that’s the problem, Americans suffer from dis-attention as if it ain’t their problem. Some of us were giving healthcare free to vets because the VA is not all it claimed to be. My outrage is over the “ain’t my kid going to war” disconnect syndrome of the American people. During Vietnam I was amazed at how many people made a career of the war without ever hearing a bullet fly. Now they’re back as geriatric neocons. Surviving 9/11 I was amazed at how no one pointed out the violation of air-security rules that led to four airliners taken-over in 10 min. each. Instead we attacked Afghanistan instead of quietly taking out all the bad guys. And we did it the usual way of the CIA: paying off the crooks that would make most of us vomit. Not even Soviets did that! It just goes on and on….. Yet we keep ACCEPTING mediocre command as we escalate ourselves into exsanguination—commanded by rejects from society types that took career refuge in the academies in the 70s.

As a kid in post-war Paris I spent a lot of time with old WWI vets and recent vets of WWII. It was unbelievable how the French command was so incompetent and deemed soldeirs human garbage. That’s how Bac-level educated officers in ARVN treated their troops. Are we different? In Vietnam 70%+ of contact was PAVN originated. Old Westy was using our troops as bait instead of blockading Haiphong Harbor through which came every bullet from Voldivostock. He beat PAVN totally, reaching cross-over point as admitted by Hanoi. But McNamara insisted it could never be reached so he became a Hanoi advocate. So we pulled out and cut ARVN off after they had managed to pull their sh–t together and fight. I don’t want our mom&dad soldiers to be a giant wall visited by their kids (since they are ~5 years older than Vietnam draftees). 50% of our combat soldiers are Reserved who volunteered because of promise that they would defend the homefront, not suffer “stop-loss.” Now Americans are still sent in intel blind, culture dumb and language on “surge.” And again they’re sent in with a deadline, Summer 2011, no matter what. It’s maddening déjà vu!

What’s worst of all is that Muslims are not like Viets. Let me give you an example. During rainy season peasants used beautiful highways US built as only dry place to squat and socialize. Fearing ambush, our trucks zipped down roads in evening at 60+mph. A lot of people got killed. But if you came to a peasant who lost his wife and 3 of his 5 kids as roadkill (or even from US action) with a $5000 compensation, he looked forward rather than backwars as Vietnamese always do, and thought of how much the compensation can do for the future of remaining two kids. They always talked about how nice and kind and considerate of their loss were Americans as opposed to NVA. Even today– 4 million dead Viets later—Americans are still welcome. But Muslims deem it religious duty to settle blood debt. So our troops that only kill to live are facing an enemy that lives to die killing us in revenge. It’s a motivationally unmatched war. That’s why NATO troops are falling apart with low morale. They are disciplined but not able to handle revenge as coin of the realm. Yet Bush called all this s–t a “Crusade” and the necons call it “World War IV” against Islam. Think of the “international proletariat” agitprop of VCI and compare it with Jihad of Muslims—latter is really defensive, not offensive, despite 9/11 (which itself was REACTIVE). Azzam was a Palestinian Mossad agent as were a lot of Taliban. alQaeda knew that and they are pumping 5 million Afghan refugees in Pakistan with this agitprop…plus God knows how many Pakistanis, with the “Crusades” propaganda. EVERY LITTLE THING YOU DO THERE IS SEEN AS A MESSAGE and no one accepts that you are intel blind, language deaf and culture dumb and just want to get home alive to your wife and kids. MCChrystal is Petraeus’s flunky. That’s how he replaced McKiernan. So, is this war a Presidential Campaign? You tell me, please.

These are real questions. Questions to which we need answers but answers are unobtainable because at Pentagon every square of toilet paper is marked TOP SECRET so only “leaks” can give us answers. Alas, no one gives a s–t anymore about Afghan and Iraq warsa and so there’s no big “scoop” for the media in “leaks” and stolen toilet paper squares that expose the s—t that generals are up to…. and so it all goes on and on depending on guys like you who patriotically served there to demand that your service not be in vain.

Prof. (Col-ret) Bacevich on Lehrer Newshour was showing the absurdity of what Exum was claiming to be the goal of our war. Exum couldn’t come up with anything but the Petraeus Peanut Gallery propaganda line they all give. So finally in desperation he took that stupid line I used to hear from Saigon-bound young CIA wiseass: I KNOW THINGS YOU DON’T KNOW; THAT’S WHY I’M RIGHT AND YOU WRONG (all their secret toilet paper squares are second hand!). Too bad Gen. Flynn came out with his report on our scandalously decontextualized intel, showing Exum DOES NOT KNOW more than Bacevich because the issue is one of analysis, not priviledged knowledge.

Me, I want to end my life writing about Vietnam and understanding molecular medicine. But I can’t sleep knowing that we are making orphans and widows on the homefront as part of a presidential campaign for 2012. I may be wrong but try as I may to see the COIN issue from another angle I can’t and so I’m forced to speak up for mom&dad soldiers whose place I cannot take. I think a bunch of us old guys staying a few years can in the long run do a lot more than a bunch of young guys in and out in ten months followed by another tour in another area. But Obama is cutting this misadventure off in Summer 2012 no matter what, as Nixon did in 1972. And as with Vietnamization, we’re gonna cut the Afghnas short as the Soviets did.

I said all this because the tactical data we may argue about IS NOT the issue, it’s our stuperous strategy! We’re now dipping into LA Latino gangs for Marines because their chiefs are giving them to us, wanting them to volunteer “for the training,” per LA Times. We’ve run out of heroes and patriots—as we always do when we waste them– because the vets see how little we care when they’re back. In the long run, like Hanoi leaders, Omar et al look at all this as do their Muslim and Pakistani advisers. They read a lot of translations of Chinese and Vietnamese manuals and even had some advisers. Until we can retort this impression, we are not credible. Shanghai Accord is looking at us as the invading Empire; instead of working with us they work against us. And yet, our logistic lines depend TOTALLY on them.

I’m not advocating cut and run. But surely there’s an alternative we as a nation can come to through MEANINGFUL DIALOGUE by which we can do better than: “I know “stuff” you don’t know so though your logic is better than mine I’m right and you’re wrong,” that’s UN-AMERICAN!

Dafydd March 19, 2010 at 5:40 am

Erm, this is a small point, and maybe I am missing something, but, if US/NATO takes all the main roads and forces the opium on to donkeys, won’t the Taliban be able to tax the export anyway?

DE Teodoru March 19, 2010 at 11:55 am

Exactly! Karzia Bros. Inc. do the drugs business and Taliban Security Service Inc (a la Maffia with booze) tolls the roads. But as Gen. Barno said, it is not really the Taliban’s bread&butter as they– UP TO NOW– been swimming in Gulf cash. It is amazing how, like Medieval Christians– oil Arabs buy themselves indulgences with cash to Lihadand can go on devil-ing it up. But at the end is not Taliban for cash but fighting for Allah and even suicide dying for Allah– and by the way, there’s a lot of cash to make your miserable life most memorable to the big family you leave behind. Little wonder that poppy is not touched by our flame throwers and napalm. It is the only economy Karzai has to pay for the 200 gizzilion ANAers McChrystal wants to create. When will Americans think in terms of their own cash to scale? Or will they never learn that the Pentagon is not the Green Monster that swallowed the mint!

reader March 19, 2010 at 5:02 pm

“It is amazing how, like Medieval Christians– oil Arabs buy themselves indulgences with cash to Lihadand”

In regards to the decadent collectivity that is the house of Saud, and the Emiratis I think this observation is a fair one. They take the $ from the blue-eyed devils on the one hand, and spend it on baubles and natashas, treat their Pakistani laborers like dirt, hate on the Sudanese, but give cash for jihad and it’s alright in their sick little equation. But this is only made possible because the West allows it. We make deals with some of the worst, human-rights abusing scum in the Middle-East when it suits us, offer a few criticisms, and then cast them aside when domestic political concerns demand it.

DE Teodoru March 19, 2010 at 6:24 pm

Thank you, reader. And more, reader, as three generals who served in THEIR wars fought by US retired onto Saudi payroll. VP Biden spoke of how the Israelis are endangering our troops– rightly so– but will NEVER speak of how we are lost in Afghanistan with no peripheral vision to see what alQaeda is doing to “OUR” regime in Pakistan. At the same time, alQaeda is doing true wonders in the Central Asian Republics because anti-Americanism is rather rich since our “crusade” WORLD WAR IV AGAINST ISLAM was declared by neocons, knowing well that whatever Bush or Obama say, the Christian Slaves of the Jewish World Machine will forever be the mysterious entity that its propagandists all over the Muslim World will be pointing to. Everyone has been so short sighted since 9/11. I’ve been reading a lot of very good analysis by our intel people (the ones who watch and watch and watch and watch without shooting up the place). We had alQaeda and their Arab backers pretty well marked up. The Israelis are trying to make up for that by playing their Arabs is a subject bad for career to mention. But they were there too, together, our “friends” creating our enemies, dragging us into their wars with each other, as they see them, claiming these to be global wars. Who notes Saudi investments in Pakistan’s Muslim “opposition” and in the alQaeda focus on it? From there a move bypassing Pashtuns and moving east to Uygurs and then north to the oil Stans playing the Muslim card while we focus on Neanderthalian Taliban. This very nice and suggestive piece by a brilliant young analyst with a bright future ahead of him as a REAL American may well cause us to think: “What the hell are we doing in Afghanistan?”

With 64% of young Pakistani thinking Sharia, per Dawn, shouldn’t we stop dicing and slicing the Muslim World and let the region settle its own affairs without getting played by the Indians as we are by the Saudis and Israelis?

The Shanghai Accord is a Hegelian dream of dialectics. Their differences are the basis of their unity!!!! A lot of garbage has been written about SCA by, naturally, oil industry favorite sons serving in the NSC and NSA (as McConnell always used to say: unfettered access to someone else’s oil cheap is our security priority No#1), but when you think of the REGIONAL dynamics– SRATEGICALLY, NOT TACTICALLY, given our OPERATIONAL vulnerabilities– wouldn’t it be best to just get out and let Karzai activate his deal with Russia and China, balancing between Iran, India and Pakistan? The Iraqi insurgency was a response to our shock&awe followed by our armored march-in from Kuwait and that insirgency was fed by lots of money from, you guessed it, Kuwait. Now that we’re getting out, oil prices are not going crazy; Saudis are not going crazy; Kuwaities are not going crazy; Iranians are not going crazy…. only Israelis are but their state is a 62y/o fetal state sustained by an engorged American $ placenta. They’ll act up and swear to destroy “that schwartza Obama,” but in the end they will solve their problems regionally, just as does Iraq, serving as a nuclear umbrella for the Sunni Arabs, protecting them from Iranian a-bombs, while the Shias decide if they are more Shia or more Arab. It’s all working out IN THEIR WAY no matter what we do! Until we threw in our mom&dad soldiers and tried fancy “entrepreneurial” (French for taker in between that produces nothing, just takes a cut) deals in the oil&gas Stans, disguised as “crusade” against terror, everybody was working out deals because oil can’t be stored, it’s got to be sold!

As we pull out of Iraq only Gen. Odierno is pulling out his hair in frustration. Everybody else is working it out– ever so slowly– to A REGIONAL SOLUTION– a switch from paying shahids to kill us to killing alQaeda for them. Can’t the same happen in Central Asia?

I don’t want to tell Pakistanis what to do, nor Afghans, nor Iranians and Indians. But Afghanistan is a composite– like Iraq—won’t thuggish American high school grads won’t get on top of and control. We are STILL intel blind, language deaf and culture dumb on both fronts. The Chinese takeover of Afghan copper mines and Iraqi oil should be a wake-up call.

And please, let’s not bring up 9/11. IT WAS OUR FAULT because we invited it. Amin Tarzi wrote very nicely on how the African Embassies, USS Cole and even 9/11 were attempts by alQaeda to polarize the Taliban so they don’t accept the laying of pipelines across their territories en route to Pakistani ports. Let the Chinese deal with that while we focus on going “green.” Our technology for too long, as warned by Eisenhower, was too focused on magic war toys. As a people we are far better manufacturers and innovators than fighters. Proof of that is how we have been manipulated by the Arabs and Israelis into the greatest catastrophe since Pearl Harbor. Can we now learn the lesson and think America First and leave the AFGHAN REGION settle the Afghanistan issue as the IRAQ REGION is settling the Iraq issue, despite all of Israel’s Chicken Little cries that the sky is falling?

Please, gentlemen let’s go beyond operational acronyms and a few tactical personal and geographic names we all know to lay out some sort of geo-strategic debate about what we pass on to our grandchildren, the ultimate victims of all the star-whoring going on at the Pentagon.

reader March 19, 2010 at 6:45 pm

The thing to remember about all of this is that US foreign policy begins and ends domestically, sort of like US Aid monies, with lots of skimming in between. I don’t think US foreign policy is driven by the Jews, that’s far too simple, but the role of Jewish groups in American politics is finally being talked about. Instead of Jewish groups, I’d argue that US policy vis-a-vis Israel is driven by Christian Dispensationalism, a cult which evolved independently of any Jewish influence. Furthermore, the US exploits Israel as much as Israeli hard-liners like Netanyahu exploit the US. Israel is a useful ploy, one of many in big brother’s toolbox, to distract the public from increasing economic disparities caused by government imposed monopolies, and corporatist fascism disguising itself as Capitalism; I always say the Republican party makes Adam Smith cry. In both Israel and the US only a relatively small, self-interested, egotistical, and ultimately short-sighted group profits. These don’t just include DC or the M.I.C., parasitic “clergymen” like John Hagee or Pat Robertson would have a much harder time translating fear of swarthy Muslims into political and ultimately economic dividends if the Likudniks went away. Oh well, everybody already knows all this, it’s trite to say it.

reader March 19, 2010 at 6:49 pm

Solution to Israeli problem that will never happen- a secular one state stressing Levantine identity and ancestry shared by Jews, Christians, and Muslims. Large affirmative action plans for Palestinian kids to get them involved in this new state, and encourage secular Israelis to have more kids to counteract the Orthodox and no more right of return. And regarding the settlements, in a single-state that’s not an issue. I don’t think Zionism is a racist political philosophy per se, and people who call it so are historically short-sighted, but it isn’t tennable in the long-term; time is on the Palestinians’ side, demographically speaking.

DE Teodoru March 19, 2010 at 8:12 pm

Jews are as American as apple pie. But a lot of shysters in Israel think they can get them to incriminate themselves. In truth, like Euro Jews they are more bound by Jewish moral code than Zionism to frustration of Likud. Of course, there are always a few neocons who think they’ll flash their “mensch-hood” calling for WWIV but how Rove got them kicked out of Bush post-2004 shows that they are useful and then dumped. Our enemy is not conspiracies but idiocy–> scapegoating–> blowback. Still, no people have shown so much potential when given a chance. I knew French in Indochina and Americans in vietnam– no comparison….our assholes were better than their brains!

DE Teodoru March 19, 2010 at 3:23 pm

Here’s a very god economic definition of militarily produced self-exsanguination that I was alluding to:

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