Not a bad solution.

"President Obama
’s advisers are focusing on a strategy for Afghanistan aimed at protecting about 10 top population centers, administration officials said Tuesday, describing an approach that would stop short of an all-out assault on the Taliban while still seeking to nurture long-term stability.

Mr. Obama has yet to make a decision and has other options available to him, but as officials described it, the debate is no longer over whether to send more troops, but how many more will be needed. The question of how much of the country should fall under the direct protection of American and NATO forces will be central to deciding how many troops will be sent.

At the moment, the administration is looking at protecting Kabul, Kandahar, Mazar-i-Sharif, Kunduz, Herat, Jalalabad and a few other village clusters, officials said. The first of any new troops sent to Afghanistan would be assigned to Kandahar, the Taliban’s spiritual capital, seen as a center of gravity in pushing back insurgent advances.

But military planners are also pressing for enough troops to safeguard major agricultural areas, like the hotly contested Helmand River valley, as well as regional highways essential to the economy — tasks that would require significantly more reinforcements beyond the 21,000 deployed by Mr. Obama this year."  NY Times


This strategy would avoid the trap of unrealistic goals designed to secure the whole country and population.  A strategy of that scope would logically have demanded a limitless number of soldiers in order to protect that population against attacks and threats that could easily be sized and paced by the Taliban confederation for the purpose of drawing more and more allied troops into the country.  The number of troops needed and the vast sea of money involved would "soon" exhaust the patience of the american people.

The strategy described in this article will satisfy both the passion of the counterinsurgent for people-protection and provide the bases needed for the continuation of a strategy aimed at disrupting Al-Qa'ida and other zealot forces that might become a danger to the US and NATO allies.

Realistically, this strategy should not require more than 35,000 foreign soldiers, but the politics of the decision process will probably demand more than that, at least for a while…

The famously effective but little honored methods that led to success in Iraq;  use of indigenous irregular groups, HUMINT penetration of hostile groups using the base cities as operating space, and use of these cities as springboards for targeted operations will produce the same results in Afghanistan.  It should be understood that such methods do not lead to permanent solutions, but they do lead to accomplishment of our goals.

Let us not forget that the same kind of enemies who attacked us here can be found around the world.  To deal with them we must find methods that do not demand limitless numbers of troops,  and seas of money.  pl

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60 Responses to Not a bad solution.

  1. geoff says:

    Hate to say it but the really cheap answer to:
    “… the same kind of enemies who attacked us here can be found around the world. To deal with them we must find methods that do not demand limitless numbers of troops, and seas of money.”
    is you go home and leave the rest of the world alone.

  2. Jackie says:

    Thank you for this comment. Afghanistan is really unnerving me this week because of all the US and NATO deaths.

  3. Patrick Lang says:

    Nonsese. The takfiri jihadis are real and unreconcilable enemies. we did not invent them. pl

  4. ked says:

    America… Counter-terrorism police force for the world.

  5. JohnH says:

    “such methods do not lead to permanent solutions, but they do lead to accomplishment of our goals.”
    Which are???

  6. Patrick Lang says:

    A marginal reduction in the level of threat of attack in the US. PL

  7. Patrick Lang says:

    Yup. Life is tough. pl

  8. Nicollo says:

    What “politics of the decision process” will lead this president to send more troops than necessary?

  9. Al Spafford says:

    Col, What has been your take on Matthew Hoh’s resignation letter?

  10. PS says:

    How will the focus on population center deal with the issue of supply lines for those forces and the population? If the Taliban are left to rule all the transportation corridors, can’t they turn Afghanistan into a collection of city-states or cut the flow of essential goods (food and fuel)?

  11. Fred says:

    “We are no longer thinking about just destroying the enemy in a conventional way,” the officer said. “We must remove the main pressure that civilians live under, which is the constant intimidation and corruption and direct threat from the insurgency.”
    It seems that they are finally grasping half of the problem, intimidation. Corruption in the Afghan government? That’s not going to be solved with more troops.
    Interesting to note that McChrystal has already recieved 21,000 new troops, which he asked for earlier. Obama’s met with the JCS 7 times this year. Sounds like McChrystal is being over-ruled. He should stop complaining.

  12. ExBrit says:

    This sounds like a pretty good plan, but doesn’t it leave unaddressed the heroin trade that is funding the Taliban?

  13. N. M. Salamon says:

    It is interesting to note the parallelism between the USSR and USa re Afganistan:
    firts we invade,
    second find resistance, third, plan to retreat to cities as a tactic to “protect the civilians.
    NOTABLE DIFFERENCE: USSR had “friends” the Communists, USA has “friend” CIA operative Karzai relations!!!
    fourth – USSR withdrws
    Q: when will USA follow USSR? as there is no military solution, and is altogether too exspensive

  14. Al Spafford says:

    Prof Juan Cole blogs today that ” …Washington is abuzz with the plans and counter-plans on Afghanistan…The Soviets more or less withdrew to the cities and it didn’t stop them from being forced to ultimately withdraw from the country…And they had loyal Communist Party cadres and large numbers of urban women on their side. I doubt there is any similar genuine support group for US and NATO presence in the country…What I still do not hear is what the objective of the war is, and how it will be accomplished in some reasonable time fram. If the objective is that Pashtun tribesmen shouldn’t feud with each other and with their gov’t, and should become secularized, then this really is a 40-year war…”
    Reading commentary from such as Pat Lang, Cole, Matthew Hoh brings me to the futile land of the cynic, with nowhere to rest my thoughts on this mess.

  15. Cieran says:

    To deal with them we must find methods that do not demand limitless numbers of troops, and seas of money.
    One method we should try is to play some defense in addition to our offense. A good place to start on this front would have been to require that whenever the Commander-in-Chief is presented with a daily briefing with a pithy title like “Bin Laden determined to strike in the U.S.”, that the CiC spend more time shaking the organizational tree at the FBI than cutting salt cedar trees while on vacation in Crawford, TX.
    Real national security would involve securing the borders, paying due attention to cargo transport, and giving due diligence to the Fourth Amendment, because informed searches tend to work a lot better than the un-informed approach we get from our current data-mining efforts (which all-too-often amount to trying to find a terrorist needle in a civilian haystack by adding more hay to the mix).
    Real national security at home also requires fixing little problems like “the health care system”, because that system bears much of the brunt of terrorist attacks (and especially if chem/bio or nuclear WMD is used). If health care is broken in normal times, just imagine how broken it can be in the aftermath of a large-scale chem/bio attack…
    We could play effective defense in this country if we would start paying attention to shared national goals instead of to political processes designed by individual special-interest groups. And it’s security at home that is the essential step towards cost-effective national security, because good homeland security protects against terrorists everywhere, not just those hanging out near the Durand Line.
    I gather that most of our politicians have never played football. Sometimes the best defense is exactly that: a really good defense.

  16. arbogast says:

    “A marginal reduction in the level of threat of attack in the US.”
    Isn’t that a job for police work rather than troops?
    And as long as you say “marginal” you can always, repeat always, say you have succeeded.

  17. Jose says:

    Don’t want to be accused of being a “blog troll”, but isn’t that the policy the Soviets tried and failed with?

  18. Fred says:

    “If the Taliban are left to rule all the transportation corridors, …”
    PS I would say the Karzai has to get the Afghan army to fight for thier own country.

  19. Farmer Don says:

    Geoff Says:
    Hate to say it but the really cheap answer to:
    “… the same kind of enemies who attacked us here can be found around the world. To deal with them we must find methods that do not demand limitless numbers of troops, and seas of money.”
    is you go home and leave the rest of the world alone”
    The Col’s response:
    “Nonsense. The takfiri jihadis are real and unreconcilable enemies. we did not invent them. pl”
    My Take;
    Geoff’s idea is no quick fix, but it is far from nonsense. Although these enemies are real and now unreconcilable. Staying in Afghanistan in this limited way will only heighten their hatred,resolve, recruiting ability and even strength.
    The North Vietnamese were also real and unreconcilable. Many years later they are now more than willing to compete with the USA with non violent methods. There are other large successful trading nations that have less “enemies”, i.e. Japan, Germany, China. Usually they keep their troops close to home, and send their business men to advance the national interest.
    Also politically it’s a hard sell. Both the right and the left will be very against it.

  20. curious says:

    I am sorry, the previous afghan strategy gotta be the WORST war strategy ever. Current one is kinda weak and half baked too. Essentially pentagon strategy was like trying to catch a swiming fish with a fork. after almost exhausted, pentagon decided to add more guys with forks hoping that will finally catch the the fish.
    You gonna need a nt to catch that fish yo,… forget the fork. fork is for eating steak.
    The big problem. US troops situational awareness is as wide as a fork tips. It’s sharp but only in incredibly small area. Useless. The entire strategy doesn’t make sense. The army is preparing for siege of Moscow instead of hit and gone before they know what hit them. Dude, dial up the clock. It’s 2009 yo. You got cell phone towers in afghanistan.
    A. development strategy for safe propinces. (how to hook up with police, afghan army and central gov., clean up, strengthen provincial administration skill and down.) Lesson learn from one propinces probably can be applied quickly to others. This couldn’t possibly involving thousands of troops.
    B. Now the troubled areas.
    1. The Kandahar Express Pizza strategy. (Kandahar + Helmand)
    These are functioning cities with cellphone towers. That means one can recruit locals and give them all cell phones and tell them to hail a calling center if they see big problem.
    Divide the city into district and put a call dispatch & recruitment manager. Attach this call center onto a)The guy in charge of US troops in district b) intelligence officers c) local police and civilian gov.
    So after some training US troop awareness horizon is instantly the size of the city! (Hey dude, what’s going on in that neighborhood? you ever heard this and that guy? Know who I can talk to to find this guy? btw, know anybody from that town down south?) Seriously guys….
    Those are the key missing information. The call center can hire/put cellphones in hand of local stores, prominent families, key figures, …just about anybody imaginable. That’s the ground intelligence network.
    with those information, military planner doesn’t need to guard everything all the time. It has awareness horizon much bigger than any taliban groups.
    10-20 rapid moving platoons can control the entire propince and win all the battles before lunch. Kandahar area is open desert. It’s classic battle field.
    Lesson learn from Pakistan waziristan offensive should give plenty of big picture data point. Ask/hire pakistan officers. They speak the language and know the area.
    B. Kabul Business Service. (Kabul and surrounding provinces).
    This is pure social interaction and secret service op being hooked up onto hidden military campaign. There is almost unlimited human resource in kabul and surrounding. The afghanistan army & afghanistan secret police are also centered in kabul. The number of translators, NGO, people who knows how to the system work are more than enough.
    Use it or lose it.
    Create a network of observers, a call center, urgent translation office (mp3?), a good intelligence officers and case managers… Start moving. Eg.afghanistan is a war torned country. Take up widows with children. Give them shelter and take care the children. And the mother will do any light intelligence work you want. (recording devices, go inside social functions, market, mosques, gathering, etc.) They understand all city spots and the social dynamic of a city. They know the street. They can see and hear danger miles away …
    A guy with a truck/trucking company? give them little money, work and a cell phone. That’s pretty much the most update traffic condition and regional politics. Trading company? supply depot? political leaders? etc. Everybody needs something. Run post war south Korean security method.
    So that takes care of 2 out of 3 big problems. I seriously doubt Kandahar and Kabul will take another 8 year if done right. Afghanistan force should be able to take care the mundane/man power consuming task of patroling, guarding and maintaining order. (few sophisticated attacks are inevitable. But the system should be able to handle it.)
    C. Nuristan and that damned mountains.
    This is hard. This will take the brightest military mind to solve. Nobody ever tame that area. inteligence is minimal, social dynamic is not well understood, and the population are pissed off.
    Suppose there is magic trick that can make taliban fight outside town. Then the problem is reduced to military tactics. It’s logistic and tactic.
    Definitely need a UAV system that can magnify the capability of two 8-10 men platoons operating for 5 days, in radius of 200 miles from a safe base, against 200 taliban attack (that’s their maximum capability it seems). Probably UAV that can drop 100+ antipersonnel mortars, another with machine guns that can auto detect target, whatever the pilot can see from camera, or with help of laser pointer. So that’s a force that can be packed into a heavy lifter heli and be moved from point to point between safe base + quick emergency resupply.
    So if the entire nuristan area force can fight simultaneously in 400-500 fast moving different points using these small moving platoons+anti infantry air support, overall capable of facing 50K+ taliban force… Plus logistic, adminstration and guarding base…
    that would be more than capable “pointy fork tips” with rudimentary intelligence input.
    so, the nuristan strategy is basically, hyper active rapid operations in as many known target as possible. Fight all opportunities at once, all the time. combined with UAV bombing, taliban will not be able to gather and form a mass.
    after 1-2 years, somebody better figures out how to build “information net” in hostile nuristan area and instal the central government authority there. Then the operation would be down to a trickle based on reliable information.

  21. Patrick Lang says:

    All wars and enemies are not the same. The North Vietnamese were fighting for a political cause. Al-Qa’ida and all the other religious zealots are fighting for salvation by adhering to a form of Islam that they believe in. pl

  22. Lysander says:

    I sure as hell ain’t no COIN expert but it seems to me, Afghans will be asking who will be there 10 years from now. If NATO troops withdraw from all those areas where the Taliban are strong and hole up in places that are ‘safe’ it’s a sure sign that one side is unwilling to do real fighting.
    Bribing the Taliban may seem like a plan, but it has two big draw backs.
    1) Will they be paying simply for a cessation of attacks or paying to have the fighters turn in their weapons, give biometric info, etc.? I can see some accepting the former. I suspect the latter will be a harder sell. Which brings us to two;
    2) If the populace begins to think that NATO can only operate by paying off the Taliban not to beat on them, what message does that send to Afghans about who intends to be there in the long run?
    I mean, if this insurgency problem could be solved by just paying out a few bucks, why has it taken 8 years to figure that out?

  23. Patrick Lang says:

    PS and Fred
    At present, supply trucks transit areas where protection has been bought. How will that be different? pl

  24. Patrick Lang says:

    Obama is not a “decider.” He is a “presider.” He seeks the emergence of consensus. pl

  25. Patrick Lang says:

    I wish him well. pl

  26. “Afghans will be asking who will be there 10 years from now.”
    I don’t think they care at all. I don’t believe they have a concern at all for who will be there a decade from now, nor do they care who has come before. Life is too hard to worry about geopolitics and what’s around the corner. The Afghans simply go on not caring one way or the other. The biggest enemy we face just might be fatalism.

  27. Patrick Lang says:

    IMO the Islamic zealots should not be thought of in the same way that one might think of a state based enemy like the North Vietnamese. In fighting an enemy like the NVA it was possible to argue that a “Napoleonic” victory of annhiliation of their forces might result in an end.
    The Islamic Sunni zealots are not a state. Their handful of adepts must simply be eliminated as an appealing force among the Muslims. All the talk about the “Caliphate’ is just a reflection of the zealots’ hortatory preachiness. They are an international religious movement based on a minority view of Sunni Islam. Afghanistan is but one of many places where they exist. Are we going to occupy them all. If so, prepare for the draft and gasoline rationing.
    The object in Afghanistan should be to disorder and impede our enemies, not to benefit the Afghans.
    Someone mentioned the struggle of Soviet 40th Army to pacify Afghanistan. That’s what it was — COIN. They only withdrew to the cities when they could make no headway in the countryside.
    The Soviets wanted to incorporate Afghanistan into the socialist World. they failed and by the time they withdrew from the countryside they were already beaten.
    I hope that we are not so foolish as to want to incorporate Afghanistan into anything. pl

  28. YT says:

    Re: “I hope that we are not so foolish as to want to incorporate Afghanistan into anything.”
    Col., sir:
    God have mercy on the U.S. of A! The 52nd State after israel. More endless entanglements!

  29. Let us not forget that the same kind of enemies who attacked us here can be found around the world. To deal with them we must find methods that do not demand limitless numbers of troops, and seas of money.
    At the risk of sounding cynical, I would like to know how this strategy would affect defense contractors.
    These “seas of money” tend to head in their direction. As for “limitless numbers of troops,” I see little value in replacing that with “limitless numbers of mercenaries.”

  30. Lysander says:

    Apologies Col,
    I should have made clear before that I am not an advocate of escalation but rather of total withdrawal and an adoption of a Ron Paul style non-interventionist foreign policy. If attacked, the U.S. should apply the greatest force to the smallest location. Otherwise, when in doubt stay out.
    The problem of Al Qaida may have come about from a previous zeal to hurt the Soviets. With the encouragement of the U.S., various Arab intelligence services along with Pakistan facilitated the transfer to Afghanistan of young Arab men who were Islamic zealots and had a desire for guerrilla war against the USSR.
    By now, I suspect almost all of them are dead or captured and the conditions that brought them there will not be recreated.
    That leaves us fighting only Afghans. While I have no doubt there are Islamic radicals who would gladly do harm, I suspect most Afghans are fighting the U.S. because it is there. Were it to leave, they are no more likely to pursue the U.S. than they pursued the USSR after its withdrawal.
    Just my two cents.

  31. Cloned Poster says:

    With all due respects Col Lang: I hope that we are not so foolish as to want to incorporate Afghanistan into anything.
    Liberal Democracy?

  32. Patrick Lang says:

    No. not that,either. pl

  33. To the extent US commits to AF-PAK theatre I would employ all US forces not in URBAN AREAS but on Af-Pak border.
    Why, this area of exchange of many things including military assets is the one that Pakistan cannot handle and will ultimately bring down that nation-state allowing radical jihadis to possess the ISLAMIC Bomb.

  34. Patrick Lang says:

    Go look at a topographic map. pl

  35. Patrick Lang says:

    No intelligence assets who are BAD PEOPLE? pl

  36. Bobby Murray says:

    Dear Col. Lang,
    I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted here but I’ve never stopped reading. And I apologize for straying off topic. Should Israel strike Iran, would that not jeopardize US personnel in Iraq? Thank you in advance.
    Kind Regards,
    Bobby aka taters

  37. Patrick Lang says:

    It is one of many dangers that they face in the event of further degenerations of relations in the area. pl

  38. isl says:

    I do think what is generally missing from the discussion is Afghanistan in the broader strategic sense.
    IMO Bush trapped the US in Afghanistan for other, largely unstated, geopolitical reasons/goals. I just dont see much US govt concern re: marginal safety when the US can find a trillion plus dollars for wars, but cant be bothered to have radiation detectors at all ports after 8 yrs.
    My suspicion it has to do with having airforce bases at China’s western border and to attempt to project power into the stan’s. The latrer worked when the price of oil was low. So I ask: Is it in the interest of any of the regional actors to see Afghanistan stabilized? My conclusion is that it is not in the interest of most actors. This makes the achieving of the real, underlying goals far more challenging.
    And overlying this is the political goal of re-election.

  39. Fred says:

    Col. I think that at some point soon the Afghan army will have to replace our own troops. I doubt that ‘bought’ security is going to be changed in the interim, especially given the consequences seen when that was done in Iraq.
    In your response to Lysander you again point out the make up of the zealots in AQ. It led me to re-read some of your prior posts on Islam on the Athenaeium. Perhaps a new post is in order for newer readers?

  40. Patrick Lang says:

    Fred et al
    I am a tad over committed. Perhaps you and others could point out some of those posts for new people? pl

  41. alnval says:

    Col. Lang:
    re Obama as “decider” vs. “presider”:
    Thank you. An important and much appreciated distinction. It or something similar would make a wonderful bumper sticker. It’s been rattling around in my head since I read it. We can only hope that this approach is truly a far cry from the Group Think of Kennedy and the Bay of Pigs.
    re Fred et al:
    This issue has been developing on SST for some time and if your judgment is correct it may finally have reached an end point. I can imagine that several journals might be interested not only in the content but how it was developed.

  42. jr786 says:

    A proud courtier went to Shibli and asked him to accept him as a student. Shibli said no, the man was not appropriate. The courtier insisted that he was, Shibli said he wasn’t. Back and forth, back and forth, until the exasperated courtier finally said that simply had be something, anything he possibly could to show his suitability. Shibli paused and said that was in fact something he could, but it was pointless to mention since the courtier would never do. Galavanized, the courtier swore he would and begged the master to tell him the task. And Shibli said:
    “Shave your head and beard. Remove all your clothes and go to the public square. There, buy a bag of walnuts and hang a sign around your neck saying ‘A walnut to any boy who punches me in the nose'”.
    The courtier stared blankly at Shibly:
    “B-But”, he said,”I could never do something like this.” And Shibli answered:
    “I know, that’s what I told you”.
    Collectively, neither our politicians nor our military are prepared to accept the presence of political Islam, nor even show any respect for Muslims as Muslims.
    Forever war it is.

  43. confusedponderer says:

    Someone mentioned the struggle of Soviet 40th Army to pacify Afghanistan. That’s what it was — COIN. They only withdrew to the cities when they could make no headway in the countryside.
    The Soviets wanted to incorporate Afghanistan into the socialist World.

    Interesting comment by a Russian Afghanistan veteran attending the funeral of a Canadian soldier fallen in Afghanistan. It is particularly interesting because of him telling about his subjective view of his mission.

    …I identified with the Canadian soldiers at the funeral mourning the loss of their friend. Like them, I went to Afghanistan believing in “fighting terrorism” and “liberating Afghans.” During my first mission, we were protecting refugees escaping an area that was under attack by the mujahedeen. I was deeply affected by their misery, and by the poverty and suffering of the Afghan people in general. In my mind, our presence was “helping Afghans,” particularly with educating women and children. My combat unit participated in “humanitarian aid” – accompanying doctors and delivering food, fuel, clothing, school and other supplies to Afghan villages.
    … In 1988, my unit accidentally hit an Afghan wedding party. My friend, whose mortar shells had killed innocent people, was shocked when he learned of it….

    The US now use not mortars but drones, and the people blowing up wedding parties sit in a climatised room far away from the combat unit they support (iirc some of the missions are being controlled from inside the US) and don’t get that sort of immediate feedback. The result of such incidents is the same the Russians experienced.

  44. Patrick Lang says:

    I have fond people to be so resistant to the sectarian realities of the Islamic World that I have largely stopped talking abot them. pl

  45. R Whitman says:

    Col Lang
    Referring to your answer to Lysander, you have defined an intelligence and police problem, not a military one. All the more reason to get military thought processes out of any solution. We need HUMINT and action against Al-Quaida only.

  46. Patrick Lang says:

    Military SOF and HUMINT forces have to part of the “mix.” CIA and law enforcement would not make up enough of a “team.”
    We need to take hyper-ambitious generals and think-tank drones out of the picture. pl

  47. Andy says:

    The current situation is much different from what the Soviets faced. The insurgency in Afghanistan today in confined to the Pashtun areas and those places with significant Pashtun minorities (ie. Mazar i Sharif). Unlike the Soviets, were are not fighting any of the other ethnic groups. Geographically, these “safe” areas are significant and, if need be, we can keep the Pashtun-based insurgent groups from taking over these parts of the country for a long time.
    Supply routes will not be a huge problem. First, we have made deals with the Russians and the northern route is not under any kind of Taliban threat. The second major route goes through Pakistan, over the Kyber and through Jalalabad to Kabul. This will be one of the protected areas under this new plan. The final major route is in the south running from the border near Spin Boldak up to Kandahar. Kandahar is part of this new plan and I will assume that the road to Spin Boldak will be a protected area as well. The final piece is the ring road, specifically the southern half running from Herat through Kandahar and up to Kabul. The insurgency has not had much success at interdicting this route and I would expect coalition forces to continue to defend it.
    In short I agree with the Col. that this is a viable plan and one that is much more sustainable than a COIN/nation-building effort.

  48. VietnamVet says:

    Your plan and the President Obama’s decision process are merging. This is because it is the only way to keep the Bubble War going on forever. All the Bush and Clinton Administrations policies are joining together into the current continuous happy talk spending spree. Just like the Swine Flu vaccine shortage, reality will keep popping the DC Villagers’ optimistic Bubbles. The Afghans will oppose the Christian occupation until one date certain in the future when the last foreign troops withdraw back across the Friendship Bridge into Uzbekistan.
    Wars breed Fanatics and War Profiteers. The only way to keep them under control is with peace and police.

  49. PL: “A marginal reduction in the level of threat of attack in the US.”
    How many trillions of $ is that marginal reduction worth? No better way to spend that money than protecting the unprotectable?

  50. Patrick Lang says:

    I agree, but there is no immediate way out of Afghanistan and even Iraq will take a few more years to be complrtely gone, (trainers, etc).
    I have te try to give advice that is actually usable.
    If we are going to stay in Afghanistan for a while, then I think the compromise shaping up is about the best deal available. pl

  51. rfjk says:

    Considering that Obama’s Afghan policy is beginning to resemble what you have suggested it ought to be, either Obama keeps tabs on your blog or you have contributed in some capacity to the strategy review that’s taking precedence in Obama’s councils.

  52. Fred says:

    I’ll put together a post for you with my thoughts and some suggested readings in your prior posts. (I think I’ll have my work cut out for me, especially to stay on topic given the quality and volume there)

  53. Patrick Lang says:

    Thanks. I am hard pressed. pl

  54. somebody says:

    Pat, the US did not invent them but supported and used them and still play the enemy for them very convincingly. The enemy they need to keep their own people quiet who might not enjoy their rule. Same the US fundamentalists need them to keep their own people quiet who otherwise might demand money for themselves. How come these people were deemed the good guys during the cold war, and became the bad guys when the cold war enemy had disappeared?

  55. Patrick Lang says:

    The US did not support or use Al-Qa’ida. pl

  56. ked says:

    with Halloween & All Saint’s Day upon us, a little dark humor (w/ underlying truth, unfortunately) may be in order…

  57. walrus says:

    With respect, none of these strategies get to the core of the problem…and it is this;
    Communications technology has allowed Western secular humanist values and Western ways of thought to penetrate deep into the Muslim populations of the world. This is new, and it is causing exactly the same excruciating pain to the established Muslim Church as the invention of the printing press did to Rome, and for exactly the same reason.
    For example, how difficult must it be for hard line Islamists to maintain the fiction that women are second class citizens when evidence that this is not the case is available on a USB key?
    The Takfiri heretics are harking back to an older simpler life. The key to destroying them is to confront their core beliefs, but we haven’t done that since it will cause “collateral damage” to fundamentalists of all other religions.

  58. WILL says:

    “we knocked down their towers & they still still don’t get it.
    “One of the 9.11 pilots in his last video testament made a dedication to the Ain Hilweh Palestinian refugee Camp in Lebanon.
    Four years later, UBL
    “The events that affected my soul in a direct way started in 1982 when America permitted the Israelis to invade Lebanon and the American Sixth Fleet helped them in that. This bombardment began and many were killed and injured and others were terrorized and displaced.
    “I couldn’t forget those moving scenes, blood and severed limbs, women and children sprawled everywhere. Houses destroyed along with their occupants and high rises demolished over their residents, rockets raining down on our home without mercy.
    “The situation was like a crocodile meeting a helpless child, powerless except for his screams. Does the crocodile understand a conversation that doesn’t include a weapon? And the whole world saw and heard but it didn’t respond.
    “In those difficult moments many hard-to-describe ideas bubbled in my soul, but in the end they produced an intense feeling of rejection of tyranny, and gave birth to a strong resolve to punish the oppressors.
    “And as I looked at those demolished towers in Lebanon, it entered my mind that we should punish the oppressor in kind and that we should destroy towers in America in order that they taste some of what we tasted and so that they be deterred from killing our women and children. ”
    I see a lot of cognitive dissonance in all the talk about takfiri salafists. And not a lot of owning up about the corrosive role of American Israeli Firsters in Israel. And American money and diplomatic cover for the Israeli occupation.
    Consider that at least a quarter of the gun-toting West Bank settlers came from America!

  59. Arun says:

    Document 20 on this page has
    Colonel Tsagolov’s Letter to USSR Minister of Defense Dmitry Yazov on the Situation in Afghanistan, August 13, 1987
    Criticism of the Soviet policy of national reconciliation in Afghanistan and analysis of general failures of the Soviet military mission there is presented in Colonel Tsagolov’s letter to USSR Defense Minister Dmitry Yazov of August 13, 1987. This letter represents the first open criticism of the Afghan war from within the military establishment. Colonel Tsagolov paid for his attempt to make his criticism public in his interview with Soviet influential progressive magazine “Ogonek” by his career—he was expelled from the Army in 1988.

  60. Arun says:

    How Karzai can survive with only American financial assistance:
    “In 1982, the CIA predicted that the presence of Afghan refugees in Pakistan would help “generate political unrest and retard economic development until the end of the century.”(19) While many Pakistanis demonstrated great hospitality and tolerance for the refugees, others despised their presence. Cables from Pakistan reveal violent clashes between Pakistani border tribes and Afghan refugees over scarce resources and political, religious and personal differences. Some disgruntled tribes even took weapons and money from the Afghan government to disrupt rebel supply lines into Afghanistan.
    In fact, the Afghan government’s infiltration of Pakistan and the rebel parties was extensive and proved key to its survival. The government’s ministry of state security, known as KHAD, sought to buy or rent the loyalty of Pashtun tribes who inhabited the Afghanistan-Pakistan border area (the tribes often inhabited both sides of the border). Weapons and money were doled out to tribal militia who in turn interdicted rebel supply operations based in Pakistan. Some tribal leaders responded to Kabul’s material aid with political support, attending government jirgahs (assemblies) and other PDPA-sponsored activities. President Zia tried to undercut the Pakistan-based tribes’ support for the Afghan government by, among other means, conducting selective anti-narcotics sweeps through their home areas. Kabul’s strategy, however, continued to be successful, and ultimately contributed to the rise of Najibullah, the KHAD’s director and the man responsible for this counterinsurgency campaign, to the leader of the DRA in 1986. ”

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