Operation Kandahar is go

by Dafydd on 3/18/2010 · 31 comments

According to Dawn Operation Omaid to clear Taliban from Kandahar has already begun.

Well sort of.

“US General Stanley McChrystal, said the offensive had begun with initial military and political efforts, including operations to secure key roads and districts.”


“We have been making preparation and plans concerning Operation Omaid,”said General Sher Mohammad Zazai, Afghan army commander in the country’s

“We’re still working on the plan,” he said, without giving further details.

Little contradictions like that to one side, this may mean the military has decided against the sort of invasion we saw in Marjah.

Alternatively, it could be that now Karzai has visited Marjah, it is all done and dusted.

I don’t like the sound of either of the above.

Having failed to properly clear and hold anywhere outside Kabul for eight years, do these guys think they can now do two at once? I don’t like the sound of that either.

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DE Teodoru March 18, 2010 at 6:19 pm

We’ve all been there: sweeps…sweeps…sweeps. But where’s the hold?

One can only wonder if there is a mechanism on hand by which troops are replaced by competent law enforcement. The answer, so far as I know, is no. So what next?

CTuttle March 18, 2010 at 6:30 pm

DAFYDD, I wrote about Kandahar awhile back…!

A money quote from McChrystal…

McChrystal told reporters troops would mass gradually in Kandahar over the next few months to reassert full control but he said he does not plan an abrupt assault like the one on Marjah.

“Militarily it will not look much like Marjah,” McChrystal said.

“There won’t be a ‘D-Day’ that is climactic. It will be a rising tide of security as it comes. Slightly ahead of that there needs to be a lot of preparatory work in terms of governance.”

DE Teodoru March 18, 2010 at 7:51 pm

And what do we do, Mr. Tuttle, when they go for picking at the lavish tail that feeds our teeth? That’s always been what makes our forces behave badly in that security of our tail means all bets off on “build.” Do we have the air tramsport that can make NATO forces secure enough to focus on developing ties with locals which guarantee that we’ll deliver on what we promise?

M Shannon March 18, 2010 at 10:34 pm

I was always taught “Hope is not a Plan” but apparently not at ISAF HQ.

DePetris March 19, 2010 at 3:25 am

It’s a sad and somewhat funny thing that the coalition is already preparing for a major military offensive in Kandahar before the job in Marjah is completed successfully. The Taliban may have been driven out, but remnants of the movement remain and continue to fight back through intimidation. A pro-government official was found a few days ago murdered and beheaded by suspected Taliban insurgents, while other members post letters throughout the city warning of Afghan collaboration with the United States.

Take these quotes for instance, found through an AP story:

-“My sense is that the Taliban will reinfiltrate in due course as the Afghan government fails to live up to the modest expectations NATO has of it,” says Mervyn Patterson, a former U.N. political affairs expert in Afghanistan.

-“I can’t take any money because I’m afraid for my life,” said Borjan, a rough-skinned farmer who owns a house that has been taken over by a Marine platoon until they can build their own outpost.

-“We have to prove there is security so that people take part in projects.” Keep in mind that this was said by Abdul Zahir, the western-appointed administrator for Marjah.

Perhaps the most scary quote of them all comes from an American marine commander in Helmand Province: “If this takes six to seven months, that gives a big enough window to the Taliban.”

And despite all of these setbacks and struggles with winning the “hearts and minds” of Afghans, we are going to embark on another military campaign this spring or summer. Seems like a smart move to solidify gains before you start the next move.

Dafydd March 19, 2010 at 5:24 am

I think they will rationalise this away saying ‘it isn’t a major offensive, more of a gradual build’. Which is how it is looking and how it was announced (see CTuttle above – although the link didn’t work for me).

Don’t think I buy this line.

DePetris March 19, 2010 at 2:14 pm

That’s a good point, because like you said, General Stanley McChrystal already hinted at this. But whether its a slow build or not, thousands upon thousands of U.S. and NATO troops will eventually be involved, diverting resources away from a campaign in Marjah that is still floundering.

DE Teodoru March 19, 2010 at 2:29 pm

I have almost identical quotes in Russian from an officer!!!!

reader March 19, 2010 at 1:10 pm

And meanwhile Afghan Parliament grants amnesty to war criminals. See, there’s omaid for everyone!

Toryalay Shirzay March 20, 2010 at 12:26 am

The entire military ops are flawed and the US/NATO will regret giving the Taliban plenty of time to flee before a military op.There is no other way to win this war than to eliminate all Taliban and stop Pakistan from interfering.A snake is a snake no matter what game you play.

anan March 20, 2010 at 6:51 pm

Shirzay, Why tell COMISAF McChrystal? Tell Karzai. He needs to approve each major ANSF operation. And since all major offensives are joint; Karzai decides the timing and general contours of each major ISAF/ANSF joint operation.

Early indications suggest that the operation netted perhaps 400 foreign fighters near Marja, including Chechens, LeT (the guys who wacked Mumbai), Arabs and Uzbeks . . . according to elders in Marja. Shirzay, the operation was at least partly effective.

You are right that the foreign Taliban need to be driven out, captured, or kill. But shouln’t local Taliban who transform themselves be allowed to rejoin their Afghan family? Don’t you believe in personal redemption?

Farhad, the reason your idea is impractical is that ISAF did not endorse a major increase in the capacity and funding of the ANSF until late November, 2009. There is a time lag between inputs into ANATC (pronounced ANA-tek or ANA Training Command); and actual ANA capacity.

The only way to go after the warlords is to fund, train, equip and support a powerful ANSF; and then persuade Karzai to use it.

Farhad, there is reporting of a major German/Swedish/Hungarian/2nd Bde, 209th ANA Corps/ANP offensive in Kunduz/Baghlan. I’ll believe it when I see it. 2nd Bde, 209th ANA Corps isn’t yet ready for a major offensive [plenty of blame to go around for why; Hungarians are lead advisers for the bde]. 2nd Bde, 209th ANA Corps is being starved by ANATC and NTM-A; to flood Helmand and Kandahar with ANSF.

Reports from NTM-A suggest that 209th ANA Corps, including its second bde, are not getting 4th combat companies per combat battalion like 201st, 203rd, 205th, and probably 215th ANA Corps are. 2-209 and 1-209 ANA also aren’t getting their 6th battalion. [which would be their 4th combat bn.]

Currently 209th ANA Corps has 2 Bde HQs, 6 combat battalion HQs, and 18 combat companies. When 209th ANA gets 2 Bde HQs, 8 combat bn HQs, and 32 combat companies; then I’ll believe the press bruhaha about a Kunduz/Baghlan offensive.

I’m grateful that the Germans are increasing their troops from 4500 to 5400. But I’ll believe the Germans are serious when they create more OMLT and POMLT teams out of hide. Launching some major joint ISAF/ANSF offensives in the North wouldn’t hurt either.

The Norwegians seem to be doing a better job in the North West.

Farhad March 20, 2010 at 6:02 pm

Looks like there are three fronts for NATO and the Afghan Army:

1. Helmand

2. Kandahar

3. North East (Kunduz/Baghlan)

If they want to a full win and go home sooner, there should add the 4th front: Afghan Warlords.

DE Teodoru March 20, 2010 at 6:34 pm

Let the Shanghai Accord work it out with Karzai Gov if NATO not willing to create a REAL urban revolutionary economy in Afghanistan (but then our greedy Corps should not be allowed to profit from Afghan and US loss of blood). Alone Chinese, Russians, Pakistanis, Indians, Iranians, Mongolians, Tajiks, Uzbeks, Kyrgzyks, Kazaks…..would make a mess but in the combined dialectic they might do better than Showboat McChrystal….I pray for these Afghan people, who never got a break for a whole generation, and for our mom&dad soldiers, who should be home trying to raise a generation of Americans that can save America from ours!

By the way, supporting warlords is against our Constitution. Even the French refused to do that in Indochina and Gen. Chanson, who beat Vietminh in Mekong Delta by 1950, paid for refusing to turn Cochinchina to warlords with his life. We supported Diem as Republican alternative to royal-fronted warlordism: no matter how poor our tactics are, NO TURNING A PEOPLE OVER TO WARLORDS. We could cut them off and in exchange for economic and military support (supervised by accountable officials not corporate ex-military snakes) FORCE Karzai to EARN our funding by behaving as a leader, even though he cheated in the election!

But I would BE MOST GRATEFUL FOR COMMENTS FROM THIS HIGHLY RESPECTED LIST on the issue of Shanghai Accord role in replacing US to bring about a REGIONAL solution….After all, it’s nothing but BS to propose solutions when someone else has to live with the consequences.

Lastly, what about alQaeda attempt to takeover Pakistan on behalf of Saudis? Is Pakistan safe now to work out its own terms with India?

anan March 20, 2010 at 7:00 pm

DE Teodoru, ISAF has 46 nations plus many more nations making large bilateral contributions to Afghanistan. Mongolia is already making a large contribution to Afghanistan. They are lead for training the ANA on D30 artillery . . . which I think is one of the ANA’s largest priorities.

I think the Shanghai Accord, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and India should formally join ISAF (at least excluding Russia and Iran; since the Afghans want Russia out, and because Iran . . . might be too dynamite to bring in just yet.) Keep in mind that the Taliban hates the Shanghai Accord members viscerally (China is a special case.) The reason the non Chinese Shanghai Accord members and India and Iran and Russia have been kept out of the formal NTM-A and ISAF structure; is to avoid angering Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and the Taliban further.

Remember that several Shanghai Accord members and India are making large discreet contributions to the ANSF. They would be willing to do more if allowed. Gates has told them to avoid formal contributions earlier this year.

reader March 20, 2010 at 8:46 pm

Your ideas on the ISAF are correct, anan, but the problem is then the ISAF ends up being a US/NATO operation with some help from their little buddies like Poland, Mongolia and Romania. And the two biggest nations in this alliance of the willing and the desperate for Western attention/cash are both heavily in debt- US and UK. If the UK weren’t Anglo-Saxon and were a little tanner I suspect you’d be hearing the same hysteria over their cash problems as you do over Greece. And Iran does have a bit of a right to stick its nose into Afghanistan considering they share a border, and a drug problem. Anything otherwise would be hypocritical when you consider the hissy fits the US throws when Iran talks to Venezuela or Brazil. Oh wait, we do what we do for benign purposes; the Iranian Revolutionary Guard are a bunch of thugs, but so are many of our friends and allies, and so would be many our own leaders if given half the chance. But we will exclude the Shanghai club, except their cash, because this is all about the US establishing a presence in Central Asia. Dear God why? I mean really, why? Answer, because idiots like Dick Lugar or Sam Brownback who are so obsessed with foreign policy can’t do anything about their own home states. It’s actually easier to pretend to be doing something over there against terrorism than to tackle the giant economic disaster that will be the US. So we will throw money at Afghanistan, Northup and the Chinese reap the benefits, and we go further in debt for a boondoggle. But the joke is on the Chinese because that debt will never get paid back. This is why generals and most politicians (Republican or Democrat) should never, ever, ever be trusted to run an economy here or in Afghanistan, nor should any industry which can’t survive without government largess.

anan March 21, 2010 at 2:49 am

“ISAF ends up being a US/NATO operation with some help from their little buddies like Poland, Mongolia and Romania.” This is far from true. It is true that America’s contribution is enormous. It is also true that the UK is contributing maybe 10.5 K soldiers + a lot of aid + a lot of civilians.

This said, excluding America and England; the global contribution to Afghanistan will soon include over 40,000 soldiers + thousands of civilians + tens of billions of dollars in grants.

Japan alone in late 2009 announced that they were giving Afghanistan an additional $5 billion in grants over 5 years; beyond what they have already given Afghanistan. This is very substantial and is likely to strategically affect what happens in Afghanistan. Japan is also playing a significant role in training the Afghan National Police (ANP) and is sending a civilian surge to Afghanistan.

Remember that France–not the US, not the UK–is responsible for training the ANA’s officer corps. France is lead responsible for:
-OSC (Officer Candidate School) [similar to England’s Sandhurst]
-Afghanistan’s four year cadet officer school
-Afghanistan’s staff officer college

Turkey is playing an invaluable role in:
-helping France with ANA officer development.
-training ANP in Turkish run academies inside Afghanistan
-training one 600 man ANA battalion at a time in a Turkish run training camp in Afghanistan
-lead responsibility for advising Kabul’s provincial ANP
-lead responsibility for advising one division of the ANA
-seriously considering assuming lead responsibility for advising one addition ANA Corps [to my knowledge no final decision has yet been made; it is possible that Turkey already regards itself as being responsible for advising 2 ANA Corps equivalents . . . 111th ANA Division and the Kabul provincial ANP]
-lead responsibility for ISAF’s RC-Capital
-providing many thousands of scholarships for ANA and ANP to study in Turkey [which the Afghans are extremely eager to take advantage of]
-economic reconstruction

I have been told by ISAF officers that India’s role in Afghanistan’s economic development is invaluable. India is also playing a valuable low profile role in training the ANSF in very close collaboration with NTM-A and ANATC and offered to do far more to train the ANSF earlier in 2010.

Germany is increasing its contribution in Afghanistan from 4500 to 5400 troops and plans to sustain this elevated 5400 troop level for a long time. Germany is playing a large role in reconstruction. Germany is lead for advising the 209th ANA Corps and the 1st Bde of the 209th ANA Corps. The ANA Corps HQs and Corps troops are the best in the entire ANA after 203 ANA Corps troops. 1st Bde, 209th ANA Corps is one of the best quality brigades in the ANA. The Germans deserve substantial credit for achieving this. At the same time, I blame the Germans for not doing enough to help the Hungarians advise 2nd Bde, 209th ANA Corps. 2-209 ANA is a problem for the ANA.

Italy is playing an invaluable role in
– RC-West and RC-Center
– in advising 207th ANA Corps [not done a great job advising them so far . . . although there is plenty of blame to go around for 207th ANA Corps’ disappointing performance so far]
– training ANCOP [an elite national ANP QRF force with 25 planned combat bns]

Mongolia’s contribution is greater than you realize

Jordan is in the process of training 3,000 ANP for 9 months a each every year. This means that Jordan plans to train an average of 2,300 ANP at any given time. This is an enormous contribution. Jordan has also contributed a special forces section to Zabul . . . arguably Afghanistan’s most dangerous and difficult province where the Jordanians are operating alongside 1,000 US Army and 800 Romanian soldiers and the Romanian lead ISAF PRT for Zabul.

Indonesia recently pledged to help with ANP training; which is symbolically very valuable since Indonesia is the world’s largest and most important muslim majority country.

Canada, Holland, Australia, and many other countries have also contributed mightily.

I tire of mentioning all the other contributors to Afghanistan; but many other countries are also contributing significantly.

reader, please respect and appreciate the major contributions that many countries are making to Afghanistan.

anan March 21, 2010 at 4:17 am

“If the UK weren’t Anglo-Saxon and were a little tanner I suspect you’d be hearing the same hysteria over their cash problems as you do over Greece.”

Don’t agree. Look up Greece’s Debt to GDP ratio and look up the UK’s Debt to GDP ratio.

The countries with the best public sector fiscal positions and the best long term economic growth outlooks are in Asia. They are a lot “tanner” than Greece and England.

anan March 21, 2010 at 4:29 am

“Iran does have a bit of a right to stick its nose into Afghanistan considering they share a border, and a drug problem.” Agreed.

“Iranian Revolutionary Guard are a bunch of thugs” Some of the factions inside the IRGC Kuds force really are thugs who don’t give a damn about Iranian interests or Iranian values. This makes them different from almost every free democracy in the world. Most countries in the world are free democracies.

“so are many of our friends and allies, and so would be many our own leaders if given half the chance.” When you say that many American “friends and allies” are thugs; do you mean Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt, Jordan and Pakistan? Do you mean any countries or movements aside from them?

When you say that many American leaders would be thugs if given half the chance; specifically which American leaders are you referring to?

“we will exclude the Shanghai club, except their cash, because this is all about the US establishing a presence in Central Asia. ”

I think the reason Gates excludes the Shanghai club (excluding China, which I think Gates might like to bring into Afghanistan) is because Pakistan and Saudi Arabia want to keep the Shangai club (again excluding China) out of Afghanistan.

Why do you think the US wants a presence in Central Asia other than to defeat the global Takfiri movement? America’s economic interests are almost identical to China’s and India’s. The economic rise of China and India greatly benefits America. Similarly the rise of China greatly benefits India and visa versa. China and India also want America to be economically successful.

“to tackle the giant economic disaster that will be the US.” I think that America, India and China are very focused on how they can maximize global economic growth and on how they can increase the stability and productivity of the global financial system.

reader March 21, 2010 at 10:16 am


Nice talking points. Lots to go through here.

My statement about ISAF was hyperbole, you are right to point out the contributions of other nations. But these contributions are often given/done in the face of considerable domestic opposition. Unlike in the US, where one could argue that the Afghan war is a popularly accepted war of necessity, the other nations are ignoring their people to keep in the good graces of the US and NATO.

You are correct about Asian “tanned” economies doing quite well. So how does that relate in my point to Greece? The minute Asian economies do poorly or in as bad a fix as the US and the UK then we shall see if the rhetoric changes won’t we? Part of the anti-Chinese hysteria is because of the rise of China as a world power. The Anglo-Saxons are just going to have to deal with it, their century is coming to a close and its because they shot themselves in the foot. And, when compared to their European neighbors outside of the PIGS, Britain is doing poorly. Indeed, by any standard they are in trouble.

Sure lots of countries are involved, and like Germany, their involvement goes in the face of domestic sentiment back home. But hey they are “democracies” right? And yes the Peninsular Arabs by any standard are thugs. If you are white and Western they are nice as pie, but heaven. China’s rise, and the rise of many emerging markets has been detrimental to the US.

Most countries in the world are free democracies? Ok, whatever, the minute you start using propagandistic terms like freedom and democracy this conversation is over. Is Iraq a free democracy? Is South Africa? Is/was Turkey? Was Yeltsin’s Russia? Is Uganda, where they wanted to execute homosexuals? Let’s talk about human rights, health indexes, etc. No, democracy is just a cutsy term for oligarchy which is what most world governments are. Take a long, hard look at India and their fight against the “maoists” and what you’ll find is a the purposeful destruction of local forest peoples for natural resources.

Which American leaders are thugs if given half a chance, I could write quite a long list. But here is my definition of a thug and you can see who fits the mold. A thug is someone who believes that positive change can be accomplished using violence, a thug is someone who will save positive things or have coffee with monsters like Suharto, indeed, any monster just so you fight the scare that was Communism. Because, after all, Latin America is our side yard to do with as we please. A thug is an idiot who sings songs about bomb, bomb Iran. A thug is characterized by a manichean world view where the enemy dujour has always been the enemy, and our friend, no matter how sleazy, is our friend. A thug (and I’m a Southerner so I should know) is someone who has no problem using violence to insure social stability. A thug is someone who thinks that profit margin is more important than public health, so let’s lie, obfuscate and do whatever to insure profits for big pharma and ignore the dangers of GMO’s. A thug is someone who is nice and friendly with the likes of the Ugandans until they get caught in the light like a cockroach. Look up Uganda’s policy towards homosexuals? In short, a thug is a control freak, a person who claims to be a capitalist but has no problems with monopolies and corporatism enforced by violence. A thug is a person who uses their religious authority to promote violence as a cure for world social ills. Yes the Communists/Terrorists were/are thugs, but should our nation’s motto on the Supreme Court building or on our currency “hey, at least we’re better than those other guys?” And lest you are confused, I’m not a pacfist, nor am I a liberal or leftist as these terms are used in this country.

“Maximize global economic growth,” dear god man, are you on the board of Goldman Sachs? And if you think China is operating in our interests you are naieve. They are basically a mercantilist operation. But that is their business, and this anti-Chinese rhetoric one hears from US economic and political authorities is simply an excuse to avert attention from their own mismanagement and poor decisions. Blame it all on Chinese currency manipulation, yeah that’s the ticket. It ain’t like the dollar’s status has ever been manipulated.

anan March 21, 2010 at 11:49 am

reader, the Takfiri pose as large a threat to countries other than the UK and the US; as they do to the UK and US. I think this point should be emphasized. Takfiri pose the greatest threat to fellow muslims.

I don’t like the ethnic component of the term “Anglo-Saxons.” America is not some ethnic entity, but .an idea that crosses ethnicity.

Is Britain in trouble. Sure. Other countries have their own problems too.

“China’s rise, and the rise of many emerging markets has been detrimental to the US.” I couldn’t disagree more strongly. China’s economic rise is good for the US and the world. I would love to defend China from racists who argue otherwise.

“Most countries in the world are free democracies?” Yes. Freedom and democracy aren’t propagandistic terms.

“Is Iraq a free democracy?” Increasingly yes. Iraq’s increasing success is a massive strategic defeat for the global Takfiri movement. No need to believe me. Ask Iraqis.

“Is South Africa?” Less so than Iraq. But the direction is positive. Notice the strong institutions, price stability, and increasingly stable business environment. Elections still aren’t as competitive and hard fought as in Iraq. South Africa is also far more violent per capita than Iraq; but South Africa is improving.

Is/was Turkey? Yes. More so than Iraq or South Africa.

Was Yeltsin’s Russia? Less so than South Africa. Russia is “partly” free and slightly concerning.

“Is Uganda, where they wanted to execute homosexuals? Let’s talk about human rights, health indexes, etc.” Yes. Visit it and see. One of my friends spent many months volunteering there as a doctor. If you would like more clarification, ask.

“No, democracy is just a cutsy term for oligarchy which is what most world governments are.” I don’t agree. Freedom is increasing in most countries around the world. Have you ever lived in a dictatorship.

“Take a long, hard look at India and their fight against the “maoists” and what you’ll find is a the purposeful destruction of local forest peoples for natural resources.” You don’t understand or know about India. If India isn’t a free democracy, than I don’t know what the words “freedom” and “democracy” mean.

“monsters like Suharto” Suharto’s wife and kids (especially Tommy) had many faults. However, Suharto presided over very rapid economic growth and poverty reduction 1974-1997.

Communism really was and is a monster; but not as large a threat as the Takfiri.

Your definition of thug is bit broad bro :LOL: Seems like maybe anyone you disagree with. 😉

“They are basically a mercantilist operation.” No, China mostly isn’t.

“this anti-Chinese rhetoric one hears from US economic and political authorities is simply” racism pure and simple that needs to be confronted head on. I love confronting the anti Chinese crowd.

reader March 21, 2010 at 2:05 pm

I won’t argue with you about the threat the Islamists pose to their fellow Muslims; they opt for using violence and operating outside the law.
Regarding Anglo-Saxon, I should have clarified. Anglo-Saxon is an ethnic term, but in its imperial context, like Anglo-American, it can refer to a state-based, or idea-based nationality if you will, that is inclusive. There is, has been, and will be an Anglo-American system characterized by community of interests who share an ideology, a common pop culture, and language, but whose members might have different backgrounds. Moreover, you can’t ignore the influence of Anglo-Protestantism, particularly Puritanism, on American national ideology and mythos, particularly in its interventionist mold. When Americans go to “war” against something: drugs, Islam, Communism, alcohol, poverty, they behave as and use the language of the Puritans; “city on a hill” and all that.
“Is Britain in trouble. Sure.” No elaboration needed.
China’s rise has been detrimental to the US because of US policies. If I didn’t make that clear, I apologize. You are right that there is a racist element to the anti-Chinese rhetoric, but when it comes to our leaders I don’t think this is the case. I think it is more a case of cultural/imperial bigotry. Our multi-cultural, multi-racial Anglo-American system still has a hard time dealing with rivals. You can be tolerant internally, but externally a bully: Tsarist era Russia, the Romans, and T’ang China taught us that. Morally then the question becomes are the benefits of empire to everyone worth more than the accompanying violence/drawbacks? When answering this question make sure to position yourself accordingly- keep in mind how you benefit. I’ll be honest, I benefit from the American system, surely do.
“ Freedom and democracy aren’t propagandistic terms.” They have been used as such.
Iraq, that’s a poser. The problem is which Iraqis and where.
“Is South Africa?” Regarding your Uganda comments, I’ve been to S. Africa and yes it’s a nice place if you are a member of the new elite backed by outsiders or if you are a rich foreigner, goes for a lot of open societies. But that’s just my impression. I think like all African nations, true self-determination is being undermined by do-gooders from abroad. Not talking about your friend, but about the Bill Gates and Bono crowd. If they really wanted to help, do away with protectionist tariffs and foreign subsidized goods that drive African farmers and merchants out of business.
Turkey- wow, that’s complicated. Turkey is way more complicated than all that: you’ve got the Kemalists, the Kurds, the Gray Wolves; I’ll say this, their political life has always been dynamic. Well, we supported the military, who were not pro-democratic unless democracy meant secularism. But then under Bush we supported their opponents who conceivably were, but are a bunch of Anatolian religious reactionary types. So can you have democracy when the God-addled yokels run the show? Ask the girls; I think something like this is underfoot in Iraq.
Russia was almost destroyed thanks to that drunk Yeltsin listening to a bunch of oligarchs and Larry Summers’ little protégé. Thanks to reckless American promises, propaganda, and oligarchic outright theft we managed to destroy open society in Russia and drive them back into Putin’s arms.
On your friend, please elaborate. The problem is that we’ve all had friends everywhere, or we’ve all been places. If your friend had some over-arching theories based on long-term thought, and research I’m interested to hear them, but not a traveler’s anecdotes. I was talking about Uganda’s use of the homosexuals as scapegoats which strikes me as a troubling example of using a scapegoat who breaks social mores, a classic authoritarian technique. Recall if that law had been passed, if you even knew someone in a homosexual relationship- adult consensual or not- and did not report it, you were guilty of a crime; sounds sort of “takfiri”.
I travelled in Kenya, and yes it is an open society, if you are a rich foreigner, but that’s just me, you see. I’ll rely on what Kenyans have to say. Africa will remain corrupt and undemocratic as long as locals use foreign aid to maintain a stranglehold on the economy and politics. True laissez faire would help a lot, also for Latin America. No more subsidies for US corn or sugar producers. No more protectionism and favorite nation b.s. In 10 years we’d help the health of the average American and thousands of farmers to our South.
My fiancé lived in a dictatorship, and her views on things are very interesting.
I don’t understand India, but Arundhati Roy does. Yes, she has an axe to grind, but so does everyone.
You defended Suharto, from a philosophical standpoint you took away the most recent, and common justification for the Iraq war- removing Saddam. Man, honestly. And on bomb, bomb Iran- that’s what McCain literally sang; defend it, please.
Takfiri is the enemy dujour. I’m old enough to remember when all the right-wing crazies in the US were convinced that Gog and Magog were going to come down out of the North against Israel (not that any of the cretins would understand how they would get there via the Caucasus). But I guess Dubya et al shifted Gog and Magog elsewhere, perhaps Iran. But maybe if Russia snubs us again the shift will be back to Russia.
My definition of a thug was purposely broad. If I had given a list of issues and said a thug takes such and such a position, then you could argue that it was someone who disagreed with me. According to my definition, people who might agree with me on certain issues could still count as thugs. Friendly advice, never read evolutionary psychology, it will kill your faith in human nature or progress. Most people are hardwired to be authoritarians- demanding submission or allto willing to submit to authority. It’s a survival mechanism. People who really understand how evolution works in some ways resemble the traditionalist pessimists regarding human nature.
“They are basically a mercantilist operation.” We can debate that.
Basically anan, I think our disagreement can’t be resolved. It’s a fundamental difference in approaching human society and reality. If the truth be known, I envy you your trust in your fellow citizens.

anan March 21, 2010 at 3:10 pm

Reader, I want to be respectful of Josh since its his blog . . . and not go too off topic. In general I am heartened by the spread of freedom (economic and political) around the world. The economic rise of Asia is very positive, and it is correlated with increased political freedom too. China has more freedom of speech today than anytime before. This is a good thing.

“If the truth be known, I envy you your trust in your fellow citizens.” Easily rectifiable. Anne Franks said everyone has a little good in them, even the Nazis. There is wisdom in her words. See the good in others, even in bad people. There is always something to admire and love in everyone.

America is changing; becoming more diverse (in thoughts, attitudes), becoming better. Ditto for most other countries around the world.

“bomb, bomb Iran” I didn’t sing it :LOL:

“True laissez faire would help a lot, also for Latin America. No more subsidies for US corn or sugar producers. No more protectionism and favorite nation b.s. In 10 years we’d help the health of the average American and thousands of farmers to our South.” Amen bro.

To get back on topic; I think the greatest global security threat emanates from Takfiri extremists. Maybe you disagree.

I think the way to defeat the Takfiri is to facilitate the establishment of successful institutions in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Egypt. Only these countries are perceived as “authentically muslim enough” and “important enough” to start a global domino affect that would defeat the global takfiri extremists.

Afghanistan is too remote; not enough muslims identify with Afghans; therefore strong Afghan institutions will not start a global chain reaction. However Afghanistan matters because Pakistan matters and strong Afghan institutions will facilitate the establishment of successful Pakistani institutions.

This is why I think the international community should focus on improving Afghan institutions. This should be and is the primary focus of UNAMA and ISAF.

The outcome in Afghanistan will be determined by how good of a job Afghans do in building Afghan institutions (albeit with international help.)

I think the Afghans can establish successful institutions and that the world should help them do it.

Dafydd March 22, 2010 at 5:23 am


the UK has a very large public deficit (between 12 & 13 %) as a percentage of GDP. But sompared to Greece, Italy, Spain or Ireland you should note the following

1) The UK has low total debt as a percentage of GDP (lower then Germany)
2) The UK has a very effective debt management office, so UK debt is long dated. That means they do not have to roll over nearly as much as other countries this year, or next. This situation compares favourably to any OECD nation
3)The UK has its own curreny. limited devaluation has already happened. Some more is probably on the way.
4) The UK is only very marginally a net oil importer
5) The UK is able and willing to (financially, most certainly) abuse its own citizens and tax them to penury. Greece only manages to collect around 75% of taxes due.

If you think so far back as the 1970s, when the UK required an IMF bailout, you would realise that the most open economy in the world does not, and by definition cannot, get any favours in international capital markets.

DE Teodoru March 20, 2010 at 8:47 pm

Anan, one thing I don’t want to do is pull a McChrystal and pretend that I have a magic solution to turn stupid defeat into brilliant victory. But I don’t think the nations of SCA are contributing to ISAF as they would then be under strict command of the same nation that they formed SCA to stop from invading Central Asia. What CIA foolishly did with its “colorTV revolutions” speaks for itself.

India is an independent operator that often screws things up for all involved because, like Iran it is a solo player as is Pakistan. This is basis of Pakistani gripe; Indian encirclement. SCA has no forces but is on threshold of that, forced into it by SecState Powell’s successful encirclement of China in 2001. Yet SCA has increasingly contributed to an embryo of order to oppose American corporate imperialism supported by US forces.



If Taliban is the issue, it is not so great an issue that each will act alone but big enough that they’ll have to come to a regional resolution. Without a force in being like Russian run CSTO of which all Central Asian republics are nominally members, China-focused SCA will resort to negotiations and threats from local powers individually. But Taliban cannot afford to disregard them all together, nor can they operate individually in the name of SCA. The scenarios are very complex but in sum they make possible US withdrawal without collapse. Karzai has been preparing for that, negotiating with Russia for three years now. SCA can deal with the upper half of Afghanistan in ways in which Pashtuns can’t.


The real issue is to make, as Bacevich so well said, Afghanistan something it never was: a state in a regional cooperation. Motivated by ending US incursion into region, all members have an interest in our withdrawal so we can set terms that don’t pull us out precipitously nor leave us in indefinitely. Holbrook and Petraeus are two bulls in a china shop when it comes to this. NATO has made clear that its future ties with Russia are more important than NATO Article5!

But to our advantage NONE wants Taliban to hold power because it is a retrospective DEstabilizer rather than able to run the country. Meanwhile, Gulf Arabs are desperate to keep the killing of Westerners going, washing their sins in our blood. The more we do for Central Asia’s youth, the less the psycho Arab oil money bags can do there like a vampiric playground. But we can’t let our oil companies try to hog the region’s assets as they ate doing in the Caspian area. In sum, a balanced resolution of big problems is needed to keep little problems small enough to make them resolvable. Central Asia should not be a poin d’apuis where Arabs pressure America to stop Israel’s insane expansionism. Without Likudnik psychosis there would be no Jihad for there would be no money. This period of global poverty makes oil a lot cheaper so now is the time for US/NATO to concentrate on Green Energy instead of blood for oil. Afghanistan is a periphery that nevertheless is costing us $billions a month so generals can have four stars and a route to presidential power. Our mom&dad soldiers do not deserve to have their patriotism wasted on presidential campaigns. I’ll stop here because the ore I write, the angrier I get and the angrier I get the less reasonable I sound– I’ll soon get to sound like Holbrook, pompous AND silly!

anan March 21, 2010 at 4:43 am

DE Teodoru, please try to summarize your arguments more succinctly; perhaps in a chain of snippets where each snippet has a point.

My view is that it is strongly in the interests of Afghanistan to have powerful successful institutions (ANSF and civilian.) This interest is shared by all the contributors to ISAF, Iran, India, former USSR countries, UNAMA, the Pakistani people, the Arab people; basically the entire international community.

In fact establishing powerful successful Afghan institutions is the primary objective of the international community in Afghanistan; and I believe that this goal is achievable provided the international community supplies sufficient support.

“SCA has increasingly contributed to an embryo of order to oppose American corporate imperialism supported by US forces.” I have no idea what this means.

Why do you think that a capable ANSF will be very difficult to establish? Why do you think that successful civilian Afghan institutions will be very difficult to establish? I don’t understand your pessimism.

Establishing powerful successful Afghan institutions would be a major strategic defeat for the global Takfiri movement. I think that dismantling the global Takfiri movement is the most important security challenge the world confronts today.

reader March 21, 2010 at 10:40 am


A stable Afghanistan is in the interests of its neighbors, undoubtedly. But I am not sure if it is in the interests of Arab states. It provides a safety valve for radical elements to go fight the West, even as Iraq provided during the 2000’s.

Please don’t use terms like Takfiri unless you are a qadi or a mullah, or are willing to look at the religious arguments underpinning the Islamists goals. Takfiri, Talibans, along with freedom, and democracy have become little catch-phrases. A Takfiri is someone we don’t like or who doesn’t like us or the people we hang out with. I’m not a Muslim, but I understand enough of Islamic history to understand that issues like Takfiri is a complex issue. Any religion is 1/4 sacred texts, 2/4 local traditions and 1/4 self-serving b.s. What do you think would be the reaction of many Evangelical Americans if a Hindu showed up and told them that they weren’t following the dictates of the Bible regarding war, the Golden Rule (torture), usury and divorce and remarriage. They’d ignore him, and rightly so. It isn’t his place to tell them what to believe as he is an outsider. Those Salafists and Takfiris are acting in an Islamic manner if they say so. I know this sounds post-Modern, but Muslims have been slaughtering and enslaving each other for centuries based on religious differences, the most famous being the Sunni-Shiite divide, but there are other examples. In fact, calling other Muslims non-Muslims as a way of justifying war is a pretty old trick.

“I think that dismantling the global Takfiri movement is the most important security challenge the world confronts today.”

I think that Monsanto poses a bigger threat to my family than Al Qaida, but we will disagree.

I’d be interested to hear your take on the Afghan Parliament granting amnesty to former warlords.

reader March 21, 2010 at 11:58 am

“Why do you think that a capable ANSF will be very difficult to establish? Why do you think that successful civilian Afghan institutions will be very difficult to establish? I don’t understand your pessimism.”

Social and cultural inertia; Afghanistan, Sweden it ain’t. Karzai is right, it will be dependent on foreign aid for decades. At present, when given the chance, Afghan government has displayed venality and an inability to call anyone to account. In other words, rule of law is null and void. The Afghan economy is an artificial entity, the only genuinely successful part of the economy outside of foreign largess is opium. So unless their neighbors are willing to engage in free-marketism and open borders where will Afghan exports go? Speaking about Afghan exports, Afghanistan faces a severe ecological crisis- its been losing farmland, glacial water-sources and forest at an alarming rate. Even in a developed nation like the US, or a nation with large amounts of arable land, this is a cause of grave concern. If you think fighting the Taliban was/is expensive we ain’t seen nothing yet. Combine this with Afghan population growth and you’ve got a demographic ticking time bomb. Historically, Afghanistan was like Ireland or West Virginia, it was one of those places that people left, not moved to. The South Asian lowlands in India and Pakistan for thousands of years served as a safety valve. They and the Gulf states still do to a certain extent. But will we see increasing limitations on population flow? I don’t know. If so, expect trouble. Here is a point where Iran’s help is sorely needed. I guess my point is civil society/public sphere in Afghanistan has always been weak/non-existant and right now we aren’t changing the society so much as re-establishing previous decades where there were islands of semi-modernity. But the problem is now you’ve got the rural people far better armed and funded by both Islamists and US. Add 30 years of brutalization and it’s dynamite.

DE Teodoru March 21, 2010 at 1:02 pm

Reader, I may quibble withg you here and ther, but just as I would say about so many on this list and its originor especially, it is an honor to read your thoughts!

I hope you guys are all young enough to turn this nation’s ship of state to more tranquil waters so that you can have time to educate our grandkinds in sci/math so they can make it great again. We’ve had enough of “entrepreneurs”– too many ripping off in Gov too!

anan March 21, 2010 at 4:05 pm

“Social and cultural inertia” True. Don’t India and Iran confront the same problem?

“Karzai is right, it will be dependent on foreign aid for decades.” GIRoA annual revenue = $600 million/year. GIRoA annual steady state expenditure = $15,000 million/year. Slight problem. Working through ideas on this as we speak.

“unless their neighbors are willing to engage in free-marketism and open borders where will Afghan exports go?” They will go to China, India, Iran, Pakistan, former USSR, international community. I think all of Afghanistan’s friends should eliminate all barriers that restrict Afghan trade and investment.

“Afghanistan faces a severe ecological crisis- its been losing farmland, glacial water-sources and forest at an alarming rate.” True. Working through thoughts about this.

“If you think fighting the Taliban was/is expensive we ain’t seen nothing yet.” I think that the ANSF needs $10 billion a year in long term funding to defeat the Takfiri extremists, assuming Pakistan is fixed. If Pakistan gets fixed, then the ANSF still needs maybe $6 billion/year to sustain the current force structure.

“Combine this with Afghan population growth and you’ve got a demographic ticking time bomb.” I wouldn’t worry about it. Afghanistan isn’t densely populated.

“I guess my point is civil society/public sphere in Afghanistan has always been weak/non-existant and right now we aren’t changing the society so much as re-establishing previous decades where there were islands of semi-modernity.” Afghanistan was a lot like India and Iran were in 1973. If India and Iran can establish successful institutions, so can Afghans.

Afghanistan had 900,000 boys in school in 2001 versus 4.5 million boys and 2.5 million girls in school today. Afghanistan had 1,000 to 2,000 freshman in college in 2001 versus 45,000 freshman in college today. Success in Afghanistan is achievable if all of us [ISAF, former USSR, China, India, Japan, Korea, Indonesia] unite together.

DE Teodoru March 21, 2010 at 11:22 am

OK, Anan, thank you for opportunity:
(1) How will a national army such as McChrystal has in mind be funded?
(2) To my mind, a literate and sophisticated police, let us say as able as Turkey’s at least in terms of investigative service, is needed. The more ANP gets trained abroad in police work, the better it will impose modern techniques in the field at home.
(3) A regional integration of Afghanistan may well make it more viable as an integrated Iraq does for it in its region.
(4) Rural tribal adaptation is a cultural adaptation of long term to real situation they face. But an urban adaptation is a one generation, one-way thing, as proved in Africa, with young as most adaptable. What is being done to make urban environment as economically viable and as modernist as possible (that means very able police control of crime)?
(5) Ultimately, much of the sci-math education needed must be provided at early elementary level, not, as in US, at college level (4 yrs. desperately trying to make up for 12 lost years). What is being done to make sure that all kids get an equal math/sci start that can be later applied to higher education in other fields?

These five are my main concern despite the backwardness of culture which cannot be changed unless whole life change alternative– that ISAF revolution supposedly offers– to create an Afghanistan that the Taliban would be irrelevant to. SF Cowboys, airpower and US bases with cold beer are irrelevant. National Afghan army used against Afghans is only an ethnic toxin. A police that is modernized to operate independent of ethnic ties (even with family of cops living abroad for a few years) ultimately is the low kinetics tool that grinds the gangsters– religious and poppy– to bits. Of course, we assume a judicial and prison system that is true to law, not power.

Start with that please. I anxiously await your comments.
Thank you,

DE Teodoru March 22, 2010 at 1:30 am

The BIG FAILURE is that soldiers may be that once again Pentagon is inventing an enemy army when it is a matter of banditry. In the same way, we saw Mao’s rabble as a revolutionary army when the KMT had it right: they were just Red “bandits.” They let the KMT fight the Japanese and then, supplied with Soviet Arms, gradually became an army advised by soviet officers, just like the Vietcong. Are we to allow our Gulf states “allies” to buy themselves yet another army of people angry at our dumb kinetics designed to keep generals employed or are we going to focus on a revolutionary police that we meticulously train so it not be a failure as in Iraq and so far in Afghanistan? For a decade we chased Vietcong bandits as if a real guerrilla army and forced peasants into the NLF’s arms with our kill anything that moves in injun country policies of indirect fire. Finally, TOO LATE, we learned to listen to Thompson and some of us drive the length of South Vietnam over and over again, even by public bus, by day and night, through the early 70s. Is there no lesson in that which any of you deem appropriate for Afghanistan? Must we bomb, bomb, bomb….a la McCain?

Just because ANA can’t handle it does not mean Taliban is a real army we must face in full force. Ultimately, as the plagiarized but nevertheless true enough, Army COIN manual points out, it is police that settle COIN warfare not the boom, boom, boom boys like McChrystal who only seek big body counts (theirs) and low casualties (ours). The Pakistani reaction to our drone warfare’s civilians to bad guys ratios bespeaks the effect of kicking the hornets nest a la McChrystal. But look at where stands Afghan National Police, the only real peace&justice solution:


Any comment on how we can create a literate, disciplined police that serves no warlords or ethnic gangsters?

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