Thoughts on Afghanistan – 17 September, 2013 (Republished 26 Feb 2014)


There is not a lot in the news these days about the NATO/US commitment to Afghanistan.  There is an approaching self-imposed BHO deadline for a decision on post 2014 US commitment in that distant "nation."  That date is the 16th of October.  The R2P ladies and gents and the neocons with their senate allies will press for a continuing project.  There are a number of problems that stand in the way of a 20,000 soldier presence after 2014.  That is the number talked about by the "American Grandeur" crowd as being what they desire.

-  So far as I know, the Afghans have not agreed to grant NATO forces legal personal immunity from Afghan law.  An inability to gain that would be an absolute game stopper as it was in Iraq.  the Afghans appear to be eager to assert the right to try American soldiers and subject them to various medieval punishments.  BHO knows that an attempt to make our people serve there in the absence of immunity would cause something akin to a rebellion in the US and its armed forces.

-  The Afghans want an absolute US guarantee of their "sovereign dignity" and borders against all comers.  That would include Palistan of course.  This concession would probably require the US to intervene in surrounding countries in defense of Afghan "sovereign dignity."

-  The Afghans want a multi-year guarantee of American funding.  It would seem that they have become accustomed to Uncle Sam's teat.

-  The problem of green on blue attacks has not gone away.  It is merely reduced by the expedient of reducing the exposure of NATO personnel to the Afghans.  I have advised quite a few foreign armies and would say that such a situation of hostility is not indicative of long term alliance or friendship

-  The American people are now hostile to the idea of such continuing foreign entanglements.  This showed clearly in the polling concerning possible military actionin Syria.  The BHO administration is now trying to represent the US/Russia deal as the product of brilliant diplomacy.  A lie.  Congress feared retribution from the American electorate if they gave Obama what he wanted.  As a result the votes were not there for approval and Obama decided to accept Russian mediation.  IMO the votes won't be achievable in Congress for any sort of long term commitment in Afghanistan.

The game is nearly done.  It will be a long time before there are more efforts to affect cultural transformation at the point of a gun.  pl


I thought it appropriate to re-publish this today,  It will, of course, be impossible to put the genie of the Zero Option back in the bottle now that it has been leaked to the world – probably by the WH

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20 Responses to Thoughts on Afghanistan – 17 September, 2013 (Republished 26 Feb 2014)

  1. Stanley henning says:

    Yes – if countries like Afghanistan cannot and will not work to solve their own problems then so be it. We have internal problems too and we had better start seriously focusing on them.

  2. Paul Escobar says:

    To all,
    Re: “…it will be a *long time* before there are more efforts to affect cultural transformation at the point of a gun.” – Mr. Lang
    I suspect it will be somewhere between four & five decades. That is how long it will take for our current batch of blissful babes to assume & abuse their political powers.
    They will not have been flabbergasted by the savage reaction of the type of man pictured above. They will not have learned the deceptive ways of those R2P & neo-con hustlers. Their schools will not have taught them a damned thing about this ensuing decade.
    All they will have is their ego & ignorance. Off they will march to meet the progeny of the man pictured above. Okay, maybe they will teleport there or something…
    Mr. Lang, please preserve a backup of this forum. Its wisdom will be invaluable to we geezers of the future.
    Paul Escobar

  3. My guess is the Western hemisphere will be next up for USA employing military force but could be wrong.
    The 12th Century and its pleasures will remain the central dream of those in leadership of Afghanistan. A men’s club if ever there was one.

  4. CK says:

    The Afghanis have five choices to play off against each other on the issue of “sovereign dignity…” China ( which will be the number one economic power in less that 20 years but not the number one military power), Russia ( with whom they have had a long and nuanced relationship ), India ( with whom they share an antagonism towards ), Pakistan ( with whom they share a religion and a recent history of death and destruction from ), the USA ( who is a long ways away as the South Vietnamese learned ). Looking at recent history, when the USA really militarily leaves a place ( South Vietnam, Iraq, Lebanon ) the interest in returning is 0.
    If the citizens of the USA get really lucky, their will be no status of forces agreement, the USA and allies will debark, and Afghanistan will go back to being a happy place for Afghanis and whomever replaces the nomadic hippies of the 60’s and 70’s.

  5. walter says:

    Col. Lang,
    Could you pls explain why “cultural transformation” is/was part of military effort in Afghanistan and Iraq versus other wars like Vietnam, WWII, Korea.

  6. turcopolier says:

    IMO we have often sought to change societies that we defeated and occupied, but this was after the end of hostilities. These two post 9/11 wars are quite different in that we went to war for the purpose of changing those societies because it was inherent in the neocon view of their role that that they should re-structure history and this especially in the ME. Iraq was their priority target because the Israelis then viewed the Sunni Arab dominated state of Iraq as their greatest strategic threat. Afghanistan was neglected by the neocons to some extent because the neocons did not think it central to their program. The rise of the deluded coinistas brought the focus back to Afghanistan when Iraq faded as a issue. Obama’s susceptibility to flattery from the generals was a major factor. pl

  7. Charles I says:

    I’d think in part because that appeals to the R2P and liberal cadres in way pure militarism or geopolitics does not. Otherwise pesky questions about unvarnished national interest might be heard above the wailing. Of which I have been a part.

  8. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I think that you are perhaps a bit optimistic.
    Per Col. Lang’s comments below:
    ” Iraq was their (neocons) priority target because the Israelis then viewed the Sunni Arab dominated state of Iraq as their greatest strategic threat.”
    That honor now rests with Iran.
    Which means that neocons will not rest until there is a US war against Iran.
    In my opinion, neocons have not been disowned, discredited and denounced in the United States and by the United States – the project of destroying Iran on behalf of Israel and Saudi Arabia by the United States is very much alive – I am afraid.
    Next time the Commons meets, they may be able to get that war through as well.

  9. walter says:

    Thank you. I am confused why Israel was frightened of Sunni Arabs in Iraq, but seem to favor them in Syria? or is Israel less concerned with Syria?

  10. FB Ali says:

    I doubt very much that the Afghans will give the US immunity from their laws. Any politician or government that does that will be branded a US puppet — a fatal stigma in a nation that is solidly anti-foreigner (and thus anti-US).
    That is why Karzai is punting the matter to his successor to deal with.

  11. Babak Makkinejad,
    If by the Commons you mean the House of Commons, I think you may be wrong.
    While I strongly suspect the covert Israel-Saudi Arabian alliance is still alive and well among very significant sections of the British elite, the kind of ‘peasants’ revolt’ which produced Cameron’s unexpected defeat in the Commons is not going to go away. Anger over two disastrous wars comes together with anger of the economic crisis, to make people much more resistant to propaganda than they once were.
    Whatever Cameron and Hague may want to do, unless the Iranian leadership does something spectacularly silly I think it would be very difficult for them to take this country into another war.
    Recent events have also made clear how deep war-weariness goes in the U.S. One difference is that Israel has not become widely disliked there, in the way it has become over here. But that may be changing.

  12. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I read that only as a temporary dealy, to be resumed at another opportune time – perhaps a few years from now.

  13. Tyler says:

    I believe because Saddam Hussein was a moderate Baathist Sunni, and an enemy of the Saudi Wahaabists.

  14. Paul Escobar says:

    Babak & David,
    In regards to our Canadian “House Of Commons”, something quite interesting & peculiar is occuring among our governing Tories.
    In opposition, they were the most fanatical champions of Canadian physical participation in these past interventions (Afghanistan, Iraq, etc.). They were true neo-con believers, with many cabinet members publicly & shamelessly declaring loyalty to the state of Israel (a relatively new phenomenon in Canadian politics).
    But over the last three years, the brain trust has carefully & quietly moved the party towards a reflexive policy of non-intervention.
    Of course, they indulged monstrous thought for so many years…that for internal cultural reasons, they cannot admit such a shift publicly. Rather it is what their actions have conveyed at every opportunity.
    In terms of the internal culture, IMO a program has been initiated to shift the Canadian Conservative party closer to an American Libertarian conception of foreign policy. At a recent convention of elite conservative thought-leaders & taste-makers…Ron Paul was chosen to deliver the sermon. When confronted by our hostile Liberal press with Paul’s “controversial” reputation…the governing cabinet publicly denied any endorsement. But the invitation & elevation of Paul was a clear message to the ranks.
    IMO, the source of this shift is our Prime Minister’s closest adviser & confidante. In his youth, this man was a Liberal activist in the American mould. Today, some muse that he is the most powerful man in Canada, by virtue of his deep personal connection to our nation’s leader.
    I will not bore you with my observations about our opposition Social Democrats. In a manner, I campaigned for their current leader…when he applied for leadership of the party in 2012. At that time, he had a conception of foreign policy that was quite troubling (reflexively pro-Israel, pro-Syria intervention, etc.). I worked *long & hard* to see the party & leader correct their outlook on the world. If their recent positions & postures can serve as evidence, the attempts of this mere mortal were not in vain.
    Paul Escobar

  15. optimax says:

    Saddam was paying the families of Palestinian suicide bombers 25,000. The Saudis benefit financially when Iragi or Iranian oil is taken off the market.

  16. turcopolier says:

    The formulation “Saddam was paying Palestinian families” is a product of imformation operations. What he was doing in the context of his culture was making grants to the families of people who had “martyered” themselves. pl

  17. Paul Escobar says:

    A small correction to my last post. In the second-last paragraph, I mistakenly typed “Liberal”. It should have read: “In his youth, this man was a *Libertarian* activist in the American mould”.

  18. Booby says:

    The Afgan in the picture: After 9/11 & shortly after SOCOM & others had assisted the Nothern Alliance into Kabul, I was on the Metro commuting to the Pentagon. Alert levels were still high & the population of DC was on edge. At one of the stops a tall man with full black beard & Afgan garb boarded the car. He carried a small duffle bag. Our eyes made contact & I saw a “steely-eyed killer”. I was uneasy enough that at the next stop I moved back a couple of cars. Later in the day as I was walking the halls of the Pentagon, I bumped into my “steely-eyed killer”, still in Afgan garb, as he came out of the SOLIC office. He looked just like your wild Afgan in the above picture.

  19. optimax says:

    Thanks for the clarification. Still, Israel wanted it stopped. It’s the peaceful Palestinian demonstrations that have changed the world’s sympathies in favor of the Palestinians, something the Zionists fear even more than the suicide bombings.

  20. Babak Makkinejad, Paul Escobar:
    While I would hesitate to make confident assertions, I do think that PE’s remarks bring out something that BM is underestimating. In the UK, the ‘sea change’ in the climate of opinion has yet to impact the Tory Party leadership, in the way that PE suggests is happening in Canada, but I think it will do.
    There may even be something of a revulsion developing against the manipulative cynicism which has characterised so much of British politics over the past decades.
    An encomium by the chief political commentator of the Daily Telegraph, Peter Oborne, to the Labour leader Ed Miliband, partly but not exclusively to do with his handling of the Syrian issue, is of interest here. Also of interest is Oborne’s praise of Sergei Lavrov.
    (See )

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