Download Assessment_Redacted_092109 (McChrystal's Assesment)
Per Af-Pak stuff, from a policy point of view we might ask just how the President is supposed to judge the McCh. plan. In what strategic context? From what national security interests? etc.
1. It is interesting that General Powell had face time with the President. It would be more interesting to know the advice Powell may have given in recent days.
2. It is interesting that the President himself is now talking about Al-Qaeda as the core of the original mission in Afghanistan. McCh. recently said AQ not much of a problem there and now presents his opinion about escallation against the Taliban.
3. It is interesting that the President is now talking about the lack of a clear strategy. McCh. has NOT presented a clear strategy but merely the glitzy opinion of a COIN-obsessed general.
4. Before a final decision on McCh.'s COIN-obsessed opinion, I would advise the President to order fresh National Intelligence Estimates immediately on Afghanistan and Pakistan with respect to Af-Pak matters, and on Israel with respect to Israel generally and Iran situation. I would also ask the intelligence community for an assessment of the current threat environment and how various Af-Pak options such as McCh.'s COIN extravaganza would impact on short, medium, and long term US national security. I would also task the intelligence community to assess the economic consequences of an escallation as called for by McCh. on the US economy. We had a couple of decades of stagflation after Johnson's Vietnam escallation I seem to recall.I would at the same time ask the Secretary of State for an assessment with respect to the present US diplomatic situation and our broad national interests. And an assessment of the Russian, Chinese, and Indian positions with respect to Af-Pak. And Europe? And Japan? Just what is the international diplomatic context at this time?
5. I note the following in an article in the LA Times today: "For eight years, the CIA's main priorities in Afghanistan were to hunt for Al Qaeda, manage relationships with warlords — doling out inducements that included cash and, in some cases, Viagra — and rebuild the Afghan spy service. The difficulty of that task was underscored this month by the assassination of the service's No. 2 official. But the agency's role is likely to shift under McChrystal, who has placed a greater emphasis on protecting civilians and rooting out government graft."
Could one posit the slippery McChrystal/COIN bunch in the future attempting to push blame for an inevitable failure of the McCh. plan, if implemented, on "intelligence failures"? Clifford Kiracofe
While all good questions to ask the Intelligence Community about AFPAK, I would consider also asking for an assessment of the viability of the governments of Afghanistan and Pakistan. If we are to commit ourselves to this area, we should want to know if we will be allied with govts both sympathetic to our efforts, but also seen as legitimate by their populations. It would be embarrassing to continue in this region, only to see the people side with the taliban, for any number of reasons, rather than cutting our losses early and not pursue what history may brand a fools errand.
Maybe “two Friedman Units until stalemate?”
What is a win worth? It could be done, but it would be ugly.
What can reinforcements (even if 100,000 strong) do in a country of
1. 32 million inhabintants
2. quazillion mountains
3. deep and longstanding hatred for foreigners
4. no history of a functioning state
5. in the crossfire of medium powers (Pak, Iran Russia, INdia)
Take your pick.
Intelligence Failure: That’s a highly important part of the bigger puzzle. While the shift from Al-Qaeda to the Taliban highlights the paradox that The War Against Terrorism produces what it pretends to fight.
We have elections coming up in Germany and just-in-time some new member of “this obscure terrorist base” has warned German citizen to not vote for parties that will continue the war in Afghanistan. They seem enormously well informed about the German context. A new name and face, a man from Morocco, if I remember correctly, is presented as the group’s head to the German TV audience.
A copycat? A disinformation campaign? I’d like to see a poll about the average citizen’s reaction.
Since the only party against a continuation of the war is The Left, the neocons can say: I told you so. The left is in bed with the terrorists. I am confused. Am I slowly starting to understand why some called the neocon endeavor ingenious, while it looked like a series of blunders and manipulations only, a Machiavellian peak? Or should I finally convert to antisemitism as a sign for bigger trouble to come sooner or later, so better a revolutionary push–WWIII/IV– to make things worse first so they can get better after? Demand the sacrifice of others at the altar of a better for the rest?
Is there no way out of here,said the joker to the thief. [Jimmy Hendrix]
The services declare paradoxically heightened security and no real threat. A little later on the news we are presented the Iranian presidential madmen and huge crowds carrying signs: Dead to the Israelis. The green resistance dwindles we are told.
It was really hard to witness the war fever combined with the courtier’s celebration of Bush as the saintly king of the good by the hawkish pro-Israel forces. But if the 911 hijackers partly wanted the world to turn its view on Israel, look closer and harder, they surely succeeded.
Love to get the answer (an answer)to one fundamental question: when one refers to ‘The Taliban’, are they also referring (intentionally or not) to a broad swath of the Pashtun people?
For instance….if one declares ‘war’ Hezbollah, by implication, one has declared war against a sizable (majority?)part of the Shiite people in Lebanon.
So it seems to me that the fundamental question to ask is to say what does it mean to declare war against the Taliban? Because if means what I think it means, essentially, taking on most of the Pashtun people, we are wasting our blood, money, prestige, and time.
“Is there no way out of here,said the joker to the thief. [Jimmy Hendrix]”
That would be Bob Dylan. And spell “escalation” with one “l”.
“There must be some kind of way out of here,”
Said the joker to the thief,
“There’s too much confusion, I can’t get no relief.
Businessmen, they drink my wine, plowmen dig my earth,
None of them along the line know what any of it is worth.”
“No reason to get excited,” the thief, he kindly spoke,
“There are many here among us who feel that life is but a joke.
But you and I, we’ve been through that, and this is not our fate,
So let us not talk falsely now, the hour is getting late.”
All along the watchtower, princes kept the view
While all the women came and went, barefoot servants, too.
Outside in the distance a wildcat did growl,
Two riders were approaching, the wind began to howl.”
I met Hendrix many years (40) ago and visited a recording studio in NYC Eddie Kramer used for his distinctive and inspired sound engineering. Eddie was kind enough to invite me to sit next to him at his 64 track board during a studio recording session, though not with Hendrix. During a break, Eddie relaxed playing a Chopin piece on a piano.
I strongly recommend this piece to you and your readers:
It should be required reading for Hillary and her “team.”
Both McChrystal and Secretary Clinton, among many others, said recently that the ultimate objective of the US/NATO troops is to prevent Taliban from taking over Afghanistan. The corollary to the statement is that if Taliban takes over, then al-Qaeda, to the detriment of all our regional friends, will again build its nest in Afghanistan.
What I would like to point out is that the Taliban were not an indigenous Afghan product. They were created by zillions of madrassas set up inside Pakistan, wholly funded by the Saudis, Kuwaitis and some other Gulf countries, and trained by the Pakistani Imams. Once a handful of these Afghans were indoctrinated with the Wahaabi version of Islam, they were sent to mostly to the southern Afghanistan to spread the newly-learned Wahaabi doctrine among the people. The militant arm of the Taliban was created by the Pakistani ISI, Lt. Gen. Hamid Gul being the leader of this gang, and, in reality, Pakistani army personnel, who wearing the Afghan garb fought for these Talibs against the Northern Alliance anti-Wahaabi opposition. It is on record that the Bush administration had allowed Pakistani military to bring back thousands of Pakistani soldiers from northern Afghanistan by air after the successful US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. It is also widely acknowledged that the Taliban regime in Afghanistan was highly unpopular and the reason that a small number of US Special Forces succeeded in getting rid of that regime within a few weeks is because of the wide-ranging support the US and the Northern Alliance warriors received from the Afghan people. Pushtuns were included in this support group in large numbers.
In other words, Taliban needs to be “created” through madrassa training and indoctrination. On the ground, Saudis and Pakistanis — both close “allies” of the United States– have done this before and the United States looked aside while this was done. Now, if truly, the United States is deeply concerned about the rise of the Taliban, it can, and must, prevail upon Saudi Arabia, Britain and Pakistan to help such development. Britain’s role is not so indirect either. Many British Muslims, under the control of MI6, came over to Pakistan to train the Tlibs militarily. Britian has a warehouse full of these indoctrinated Muslims who are also funded by the Saudis.
Finally, Taliban is not an indigenous Afghan product. It does not grow naturally like weed. Therefore, solution lies in preventing our “allies” to supplant them in Afghanistan, not by waging an elaborate and unfocused war against everyone in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
“likely to shift under McChrystal, who has placed a greater emphasis on protecting civilians and rooting out government graft.”
O Lord. What better way to lock onesself down in an area than attempt to “root out graft”? When you put 1000-year old gears in modern machinery, “graft” is the only thing that lubricates them!
Thanks d m nolan, I wanted to link Jimi’s version and forgot. Actually Bob loved it.
I once traveled to Boulder in the hope I could sneak into a lecture by Dylan’s late friend Alan Ginsburg at the Naropa Institute, but it was shut down and the lady in the Naropa Institute bookshop told me: Sorry we sell Ginsburg only in summer. …
But thanks for your spelling advice. I hope it didn’t trouble you too much ;), yes I am a bit careless sometimes.