– Al-Qa'ida is regaining strength in Iraq with a new focus on the Maliki government. This article in today's Post makes it quite clear that this is happening because of the abandonment of the "Sons of Iraq" by the United States. In the Middle East people group themselves in temporary alliance against common enemies. Why is that so difficult to understand? If you abandon your allies, they will seek other allies.
– The excellent feature article on corruption in Afghanistan that appeared in "The Nation's" last issue got very little attention anywhere. I suppose that is because the implication of American complicity was not fully comprehended.
– David Ignatius writes in today's Post that a Green Beret major named Jim Gant has written a major piece on the need to use the non-Taliban tribes in Afghanistan to control the strength of the Taliban and their Al-Qa'ida friends OUTSIDE the perimeter of the Route 1 ring road. The article is entitled "One Tribe at a Time."
The shape of things to come is becoming more apparent.
1. COIN inside the perimeter, COIN focused on the cities and towns
2. International economic and political development and reform inside that perimeter.
3. Raiding against specific targets outside that perimeter.
4. Development of alliances with tribal entities outside the perimeter.
These are the emerging elements of a new strategy.
Such a strategy will allow an eventual downsizing of the force in Afghanistan to a level that is much more sustainable for the US armed forces. Some short term increase may be necessary in order to stabilize the perimeter but that can be followed by reductions. Using the tribes in the way that Major Gant suggests is the optimal force multiplier for a reduced but politically and militarily sustainable policy n Afghanistan.
Why did we not do that before? As I have written endlessly, the social sciences driven paradigm of the inevitability and desirability of the Nation State in every clime and continent has been an insuperable obstacle to the empowerment of tribal forces. Why? Our military and diplomatic leaders have been indoctrinated with the political science view of the world and the future of mankind.