The International terrorists are America’s enemies, not the local rebels…

Afghanistan "…the problem with the critics' argument is that, while the strategy they oppose has yet to be tried, the alternatives they suggest already have been — and they led to failure in both Afghanistan and Iraq. For years, U.S. commanders in both countries focused on killing insurgents and minimizing the numbers and exposure of U.S. troops rather than pacifying the country. The result was that violence in both countries steadily grew, until a counterinsurgency strategy was applied to Iraq in 2007."  Washpost editorial.


The interests of the reigning generals, the neocons and the Brothers of the Order of  Counterinsurgency at CNAS are coming together now.  The mechanisms for propagation of the faith in COIN as a vehicle for the program of the AEI crowd are widespread.  Among them are internal blockage of access to blogs like this one by the armed forces, exclusion from the main stream media of dissenting voices and the editorial page of the Washington Post. 

In its lead editorial today, the Washington Post distorts the history of what happened in Iraq.  It claims that the security situation in Iraq was improved by the adoption of "a counterinsurgency strategy."  This implies that "pacifying the country" did the trick in Iraq.  Where did that happen?  What was the mechanism?  20,000 more US troops and a lot of walls dividing up neighborhoods in Baghdad, was that what did the trick?  Was it a marked improvement in governance by the Baghdad government?


What did the trick was that the US adopted the strategy of  "renting" enough Sunni Arab insurgents to isolate the international Sunni terrorists associated with al-qa'ida These same "rented" former insurgents were then used to destroy the terrorists.  This effort was a supplement to the work that McChrystal's former counter-terrorist comando command was already doing.  This was a modern application of very old and traditional "divide and conquer" methods that have been in use since time immemorial in that part of the world.  It had nothing to do with application of the mystical magic of COIN style "pacification."

The Post's editorial is evidence of a continuing establishment inability to deal with the nasty realities of war in the backwoods and deserts of the Islamic World.  pl

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54 Responses to The International terrorists are America’s enemies, not the local rebels…

  1. Bill Wade, NH says:

    “The interests of the reigning generals, the neocons and the Brothers of the Order of Counterinsurgency at CNAS are coming together now. ”
    Well then, good luck to them now. I’ll just hope that few GIs get killed but I know that’s a ludicrous hope of mine.
    I wonder how our Afgahn allies will escape now down the road, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of boats and oceans around.

  2. I guess the labels for strategy and tactics are helpful!
    But not sure what the MSM knows, or understands, or cares about anything more than headline stories. In your opinion PL are any reporters past or present conveying the “real” story as to successes, failures, momentus etc. in either AF-PAK or Iraq? With the interest of the MSM in obtaining the biggest headline at lowest possible cost and without much regards to accuracy does the George Romney use of the word “Brainwashed?” after his Viet Nam briefings and ending his Presidential career have any resonance in current situation? Is OBAMA being “brainwashed”?

  3. J. says:

    And as you’ve pointed out before, the true costs of applying a successful COIN strategy would be very high in terms of people and funds. The WaPo editorial board helpfully leaves out that point, that the decision not to implement the strategy that “has yet to be tried” is that no one wants to own up to the costs. Cowards. Frauds.

  4. Binh says:

    The implication of your argument is to apply the “Iraq model” to Afghanistan one would have to rent the Taliban to destroy Al-Qaeda, no? I’d be curious as to whether that’s even on the cards. The Sunni resistance in Iraq got pretty angry when AQI started imposing their extreme views on everyone else in the neighborhood, but I haven’t really seen any evidence of AQ/Taliban discord even though they have divergent origins and goals.

  5. VietnamVet says:

    Again well said. You left out a couple salient facts that the Washington Post never mentions:
    Bagdad was ethnic cleansed. As far as I know, this is not a viable tactic in Afghanistan since the Arabs were ejected into Pakistan years ago and I have not heard of mixed tribal neighborhoods in Kabul that are at each other throats. The Afghan bombings all appear to be aimed at the foreign Westerners and their puppet government.
    There is no reporting on the effect of contractors (mercenaries) on the conduct of the war and the accumulating cancers undermining the war and America’s future. Contractors outnumber coalition troops in Afghanistan. Mercenaries always introduce lawlessness and greed into to the conduct of war. Their one and only goal is to survive and rip everyone off. The more Debauchery the better. Thousands of men with thousand yard stares and lawless lifestyle are returning to the USA with no support or access to the VA.
    American politicians are addicted to the flow of political money from contractors to be re-elected and have the good life. Washington DC until forced by the voters will never consider that Afghanistan has lot of the characteristics of Bloody Kansas; a guerilla war being fought over religious and economic beliefs. Kansas didn’t settle down until after the Civil War and introduction of law and civilization. Until America gets over its addiction to war and agrees to assist in the the restoration of law and order; Pirates, Outlaws and Mercenaries will rule the world from the Horn of Africa to Pakistan.

  6. Mark Gaughan says:

    Even Nigerians who are upset with oil companies polluting their country are now considered part of this international terrorist organisation. We should change the name from GWOT to GWOB, Global War On Boogeymen. It would be more accurate than communists or terrorists.

  7. Abu Sinan says:

    Good points. What will happen in Iraq when the payouts to the Sunni insurgents and tribes ends? A Shi’ite dominated Iraq is what is in store for them.
    Once the money stops and the US leaves, what will the scene look like then? The strategy was a short sighted one in the best interests of the US. Long term the end result will most likely be very different.

  8. Indeed. It is about time for some sensible policy in the national interest (ours).
    The Bush Administration not only failed but riled the planet increasing the global terrorist threat. The Obama Administration has not “changed” anything apparently.
    One “enemy” is constituted by the complex of INTERNATIONAL terrorist organizations — to include AQ and all the rest arrayed against us and operating GLOBALLY. I do not doubt for a minute that there are numerous such operatives and supporters with beards trimmed neatly decked out in business suits with their gold Rolexes and all the rest going about their business in financial centers around the world…etc.
    The present obsession with COIN ops in the Hindu Kush/Afghanistan is a non-starter in the real world but lines a lot of pockets.
    AQ and others operate globally and are not limited to Afghanistan. We can neither “pacify” Afghanistan nor the planet in general.
    But we need to take down terrorist orgs and exterminate the mangy (but nonetheless able) enemy. This requires a policy of strengthening our intelligence and covert capabilities and building effective relations with those governments around the world who wish to cooperate out of their own national interests. One would work toward intelligence and police cooperation and covert ops primarily for this.
    The COIN fantasy, and Taliban hysteria, causes billions we need for real defense and counter-terror ops to be wasted down the rathole.
    It should be obvious to anyone even casually reading the newspapers or Internet that AQ and others are moving around some lately to Somalia, Sudan, Yemen, and other locations to include North Africa.
    Just how does our AFPAK policy and quagmire in the Hindu Kush address this?
    The White House has failed to present a coherent GLOBAL counter-terrorist strategy…just a lot of buzz and bs and delusion about Taliban and Afghanistan and COIN.
    The White House appears to have failed to present Congress with the required (repeat required) statement of its National Security Policy/Strategy. It was due after the first 5 or 6 months of the new admin, thus around June.
    Thus the American people through THEIR Congress remain uninformed as to the actual National Security Strategy/Policy of this Admininstration.
    The “establishment” and its delusions? Our policy? Inside the Beltway, PEOPLE ARE policy…so one tabulates just who the policymakers are name by name and examines their bios etc.
    1. Examine carefully what the Carr Center at Harvard is churning out about AFPAK. Does anyone believe the Harvard crowd does not have access and influence in the Obama Admin, himself a Harvard Law guy?
    2. Read what Stephen Biddle the resident AFPAK policy go-to guy at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York (the grand lodge of US foreign policy) is writing.
    and so on.

  9. WP says:

    Renting insurgents was a tactic Napoleon used in Egypt. It had temporary, but not lasting benefits. Juan Cole’s book, Napoleon’s Egypt, reads too much like the present for comfort. However, unlike the present powers that be in the US, Napoleon had the forsight to abscond during the night to avoid the inevitable and claimed success when he got home to France.

  10. JohnH says:

    It always amazed me that it never occurred to America’s fearless leaders to rent Iraq from the beginning. When the US invaded, Iraq’s GDP was $67 Billion. US supplemental appropriations for Iraq cost more than that by themselves. Why didn’t they just apply the money to renting the whole damn place? Everyone would have been better off.

  11. Patrick Lang says:

    1- I don’t care if my methods would not be in the best interest of the Afghans. We are not the world’s daddy.
    2- I find it odd that some of you seek permanent “fixes” for foreign policy problems. Nothing lasts forever. pl

  12. Ronald says:

    Is it possible to maintain the ability to strike Al Qaida if the Taliban clobbers the central Afghan government? If we do need to support the central government, how do we do that without mission-creeping our way into nation building?
    I am skeptical about the current focus on COIN, but I have a hard time understanding how to create a clear limit to our involvement.

  13. Patrick Lang says:

    Thst is why you have to hold an enclave that includes the national capital and our own most necessary facilities. pl

  14. Cieran says:

    My favorite part of this editorial is found in the last two paragraphs, where first the WaPo editors assert that the Taliban are so dangerous that they’ll soon overturn Pakistan’s government and steal those nukes to use against the U.S.
    Then only a couple sentences later, we learn that the Taliban are so weak that their base of support is non-existent (the word “tiny” is deployed to characterize that support).
    And upon those two wildly-contradictory estimates of enemy strength, the Post editorial staff concludes that we must waste blood and treasure for many years to come.
    Thus the well-worn epithet “dumb as a post” must be a form of ellipsis, in that once upon a time there was one more now-omitted word at the end of that phrase, i.e., “editor”.

  15. What is ground reality around Kabul and Bagram areas? That is physical: as in valleys, rivers, and mountains (big ones).
    Well, here is some imagery to give the flavor. This is not to mention what the rest of the country is like.
    From these basic images and enhancements we can visualize the “national capital” and “enclave” situations Col. Lang is pointing to.
    Serious realistic policy logically must take into account the physical geography of the country plus the ethnic-tribal nature of the country, the cultural context, the historical context and all that.
    When in India over Christmas and again during August I had the opportunity to speak with a number of senior retired military — generals, brigadiers, colonels and the like. In addition, I spoke to senior academics in a number of institutions. Naturally, the topic of “AfPak” came up.
    As I reported to SST in January, the consensus I heard is:
    1. that the US is making rather a botch of things.
    2. The security situation is a REGIONAL problem and needs a REGIONAL solution to include Russia, China, India, and Iran.
    3. Given the US involvement, one strategy would be for the US to aim to secure the immediate Kabul/Valley area as a strong point from which to operate. The US could promote economic projects in this area as a demonstration for the rest of the country. The US could make various arrangements with appropriate ethnic-tribal leaders outside this zone per AQ. This is about the extent of what the US could do realistically.
    4. Involving the Russians and the Chinese and others in security and economic projects could help.
    And so on.
    I was also told that if the US thinks Afghanistan is a problem per AQ, Washington should consider the consequences of Kashmir becoming an AQ redoubt….

  16. Patrick Lang says:

    Typepad has not yet posted your comment but I find it incomprehensible. pl

  17. Patrick Lang says:

    Perhaps someone can explain to me what you are talking about. Perhaps your objective is to make me seem incapable of comprehension.
    Your aggregated putative scenarios are unrelated to each other.
    Stray nukes? What? pl

  18. turcopolier says:

    Let’s see, what are the possibilities– 1 – You actually are such a dumb
    bell that you think that US forces in Kabul might be attacked with a phantom
    nuclear weapon, 2- you are an Israeli hasbara provocateur.

  19. Patrick Lang says:

    On reflection your suggestion that Kabul or Bagram would be more at risk than they are today is so unreasonable that I don’t see what your future participation would add to the discussion here.
    Send in your next person. pl

  20. Mark Logan says:

    There may have been deadline pressures….but
    it does reflect something of the mixed feelings among even the most ardent supporters. I think it’s telling.
    This thread got me to look up Andy Exum, as I hadn’t checked Abu Muqawama for a spell, and I found something interesting.
    “As I walked out of the studio last night, though, Gwen Ifill turned to me and said, “Look, I understand you’re not some fire-breathing hawk, but you’re about the only person we can find in Washington to defend this war at the moment.”
    Woah. The only person who will defend this war? If this blogger is the only person in the nation’s capital willing to defend the war, we have a big problem.”

  21. John Howley says:

    Where would all of these AfPak scenarios leave the NATO-as-expeditionary-force project?
    Under either (1) total withdrawal, (2) Col. Lang’s redoubt plan and (3) Will’s “offshore” strategy, it will appear that NATO has been wholly unsuccessful in its first major military operation beyond Europe.
    Surely this weighs on the minds of our betters?

  22. Babak Makkinejad says:

    What would it take to put an end to the Afghan Wars of the last 30 years?
    Does anyone have any ideas along political, diplomatic lines?

  23. anon says:

    Hi Col.,
    Check out this gem by Patrick Buchanon on Hitler
    Where are the true Conservative intellectuals these days?

  24. jr786 says:

    We’re nearly 8 years in and talking about sending in more troops, this after we were told at the start that it would take 3 years to train the Afghan army.
    Question: Why on earth would a Pashtun betray his kin for us? Money – not these people. Honor? How many so called insurgents are the products of reckless drone attacks or misguided JDMs? One of the most non-sensical ideas about the Catastrophe was that every mujahid was fighting jihad, instead of defending his country against an invader or exercising his right to revenge. Muslims are not obligated to accept blood money.
    Not every ‘insurgent’ is a talib.
    The hysteria over Iran’s elections, the breathless “Oh, the villains!” reporting that promoted the fraud meme, seems to have gone silent over the Afghan elections. With good reason probably, since historically the leader of Af has always been Pashtun.
    The Taliban are Pashtun, al- qa’ida isn’t. We need to talk to the Taliban. I’ve asked this question before: Is there still a Pushtunistan Square in Kabul? Maybe we should start thinking about that, too.

  25. Mark Stuart says:

    “We are not the world’s daddy.” I sure wish you were mine.
    “renting” enough Sunni Arab insurgents to isolate the international Sunni terrorists associated with al-qa’ida
    But are we good at renting foreign fighters? weren’t the Afghan Mujahideen rented?

  26. Mark Stuart says:

    Also, I’d suggest that ‘baton d’or’ sends this time someone with a ‘baguette magique’!
    That should do the trick…

  27. jr786 says:

    “…not the local rebels.”
    Nor, presumably, local people trying to fill up a can of gasoline:
    A NATO airstrike killed at least 80 people, many of them civilians, in a once-calm region of Afghanistan that has slipped under insurgent control, Afghan officials said.
    Is there really no other g-damned way than to fire missiles at targets certain to be crowded with civilians?
    Every man above 13yo related to the civilians killed just became an insurgent.
    Sometimes I wonder if we have people who are working for the best interests of the country or who are just making matters worse. Unbelievable.

  28. ISL says:

    Dear Colonel,
    Clifford makes a good point, absent a regional solution, the US is likely to face an interminable operation in Afghanistan with AlQ showing up more as in the whack a mole-fashion. Meanwhile, there would be continuously decreasing public support (Hard to see how in the end President Obama does not end up in a lose-lose political situation).
    I thought the idea of a concert of the Mideast for Iraq made lots of sense. Why not for Afghanistan?

  29. Patrick Lang says:

    baton d’or
    You speak of your “colleagues?” And who are they? pl

  30. Patrick Lang says:

    I have been oversimplifying the process of “renting” tribesmen. In fact there are usually a lot of factors and techniques involved, but money normally plays a role however well the transaction is disguised.
    The Mujahideen of the anti-Soviet war were financed by us except for the Sayyaf group, but the war was their war against the Soviet occupier. To say that they were rented by us would not be accurate.
    I will say it one more time. They were not the Taliban. pl

  31. Patrick Lang says:

    Not his relatives! Someone else’s. pl

  32. Patrick Lang says:

    I would much prefer a general regional diplomatic settlement in he region but it does not seem possible. So…
    I try to deal wit hreality. pl

  33. JTCornpone says:

    Regarding renting locals, it works but is there any group in the south we can rent? Remember that we drove the Taliban out in 2001 with less than 10000 troops with the help of the Northern Alliance, a gang of warlords who were attracted by palates of $100 bills and had their own beefs with the Taliban. I learned from a question I posted here that once the Taliban were gone the NA went home for their own reasons presumably to resume fighting among themselves. So, is there a “Southern Alliance” out there waiting to be created and coopted like the NA or the Sons of Iraq? I haven’t heard of one.
    Renting the Sons (for $30M per month) definitely worked in Iraq. I read somewhere that as part of our pullback we turned control of the Sons of Iraq over to the Maliki government and they stopped paying them. I think this accounts for some of the recent increase in violence over there.
    Second, an anecdote regarding holding enclaves containing important facilities. I have a friend who is a 747 freighter captain who flies all over the world. One of his regular stops is Bagram. He told me last spring that when he lands there they rush out as soon as the plane stops, bundle him into a flak jacket and hustle him into a bunker until the plane is ready for him to fly back out. The place is regularly rocketed and mortared and on his last flight there before we talked this spring there was a to do at the front gate where some bad guys breached the main entrance and got some ways inside before being run off or killed or whatever. He keeps saying it’s too dangerous for what he’s being paid but I think he must be paid pretty well since he keeps going back. It does sound like our hold on the neighborhood around Bagram needs some tightening.

  34. jr786 says:

    Don’t know if you saw this, Col., but it appears the full court press is on:

  35. Cieran says:

    Mark Logan:
    Thanks for the link. Fascinating reading, and with views that I didn’t realize existed on the CNAS website.
    It’s gotta be a tough enough job trying to argue in favor of expanding the war in Afghanistan, but debating that point successfully against Colonel Bacevich, and on TV to boot, is a fool’s errand. No wonder PBS has a hard time finding war supporters for their debates.
    The CNAS and AEI arguments in favor of the war seem ultimately to come down to their worries about Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal. These worries are couched in ambiguity, e.g., “regional stability”, but the fundamental concern seems to be one of terrorists getting hold of nuclear weapons via destabilizing the Pakistani government. That was the only risk given (albeit implicitly) in the WaPo editorial, for example.
    It would be instructive to start having some informed discussions on exactly what would happen if terrorists used a purloined nuclear weapon against a western target. It would do us citizens a lot of good to appreciate our response before such an event might occur, and said discussions would probably do a lot of good for leaders of nations contemplating hosting terrorist organizations such as Al Qaeda.
    It would also get us thinking about how many nuclear weapons are potentially available to terrorists (or rogue nations, for that matter, including at least one “ally” of the US), and that information would help us gain a much better perspective on the worries about Central Asia. That step alone would serve to improve the readability of the editorial page of the Post.

  36. turcopolier says:

    The Newshour asked me to critique the government’s
    Afghanistan policy and I declined. I no longer have enough trust in the MSM to be willing to do much with them. pl

  37. Mark Stuart says:

    Would you care Sir to elaborate on the difference you see about the Mujahideen and the Sunni Arabs? didn’t we provide the Mujahideen with money, arms, training and intelligence to fight a common enemy?
    The difference i see is that in the case of the Mujahideen they started their war themselves. We didn’t have to convince them that the commies were bad for them too. In the case of the Sunni Arabs we had to talk them into seeing our enemy as theirs too, slipping a couple of bills here and there with the help of the Saudis ( and i have no problem slipping a few notes to achieve our goal. I’m not that an idealist or naive).
    Clifford Kiracofe:
    I do not doubt for a minute that there are numerous such operatives and supporters with beards trimmed neatly decked out in business suits
    I respect and value too much your expertise Sir to believe that the intent of this statement is to create general fear of the “green peril”. So if true, the question arises why someone with a comfortable social status venture on such a dangerous, treacherous path? Aren’t “terrorists” supposed to be poor uneducated bastards?
    Hardcore dogmatics? Religious zealots ready to play James Bond in the streets of NYC, Paris or London, waiting for their “appointed” time? Just like in the good old soviet days some terrorists are more emotionally than intellectually driven in there visceral hate for us and will never give heed to reason. But i wonder how critical is their role in that global terrorist outreach?
    The security situation is a REGIONAL problem and needs a REGIONAL solution to include Russia, China, India, and Iran.
    Aren’t some of those countries more interested in the US entanglement and demise in the region rather than a solution? I think that the involvement of the Russian in the deal reached for our US Kyrgyzstan Airbase with Bishkek speaks for itself. What on the terrain or in the attitude of the Chinese, Russians or Iranians could lead me to believe that regional cooperation with those countries, diplomatic or else, would work? What interest would they have to cooperate?

  38. Patrick Lang says:

    The Afghan Mujahideen were already fighting the Soviet occupation when we began to support them largely through Pakistan’s ISI.
    In Iraq, we actively solicited, assisted and brought into being the nascent and potential animosity of many of the Sunni Arab insurgent groups against the takfiri jihadis, pl

  39. MS, “green peril” ???
    As to terrorist profiles and orgs, there is a large academic and open source literature on contemporary terrorism you can consult.
    Can the US work through diplomatic and other avenues toward regional cooperation on the issue? Yes, but it may well be beyond the now shaky Obama Administration’s ability. It was beyond Bush’s.
    Perhaps the most realistic scenario is: 1) a COIN precipitated quagmire in the Hindu Kush for the US, and 2)rising global Islamic jihadi activity owing to the shaky and increasingly incoherent Obama Administration’s inability to deliver a just solution to the Palestine Question. At the moment, this is what I see coming.

  40. Neocons, Zionists, etal. “weigh in.” Go name by name and research the bios…carefully:
    From Politico
    “Prominent conservative foreign policy thinkers and activists who backed the Iraq war are circulating a letter to President Obama supporting his engagement in Afghanistan against criticism from left and right, and urging him to stay the course…..
    Steve Biegun
    Max Boot
    Eliot A. Cohen
    Ryan C. Crocker
    Eric Edelman
    Jamie M. Fly
    Abe Greenwald
    John Hannah
    Frederick W. Kagan
    Robert Kagan
    William Kristol
    Tod Lindberg
    Clifford May
    Joshua Muravchik
    Keith Pavlischek
    John Podhoretz
    Randy Scheunemann
    Gary Schmitt
    Dan Senor
    Marc Thiessen
    Peter Wehner
    Kenneth Weinstein”

  41. Jackie says:

    Mr. Kiracofe,
    A list with those names on it would make me run as fast as I could in the other direction. I see the Kagans are on it, they seem to have a peculiar bloodlust. If I got those names on a list of neighbors suggesting I spray my yard for weeds, I would probably inquire around to see where I could get crabgrass or dandelion seed.
    This might help get us out of there faster. Thanks.

  42. @Clifford Kiracofe,
    That’s one scary list of characters! If the past decade has taught us anything, when this crew says you should do something, my advice is do the opposite!!!!!

  43. Gautam Das says:

    Clifford Kiracofe,
    In addition to the points from your discussions here (New Delhi) in December last, you might want to add Pakistan to that list of regional ‘parties’. Pakistan has a definite interest, not necessarily mala fide or only anti-Indian in nature, to be part of any ‘solution’. The NWFP is part of the old ‘traditional ‘Afghanistan’ and is affected by anything serious that happens in Kabul. Pakistan needs to be factored into any suggested ‘fix’.
    Gautam Das
    New Delhi, India

  44. Mark Stuart says:

    Clifford Kiracofe:
    “Green Peril”: analogy to the Yellow Peril of the nineteen century that swept various countries to refer to the idea that mass immigration of Asians threatened our societies and values. And the Green is for the color of Islam.
    As to terrorist profiles and orgs:
    I had done some reading indeed before i wrote my comment Sir and i don’t see anywhere mention of the type of terrorist you describe as being the core critical component of the jihadist/takfiri organizations, but rather a minority. And the key words here are core critical component. I would appreciate any specific literature i might have missed. The mere mention of stock brokers being possibly terrorists, simply creates hysteria among the general public. If i have to watch out for my stock broker, my gardner, my cab driver, or my barber too, this is hysteria.
    Can the US work through diplomatic and other avenues toward regional cooperation on the issue? Yes :
    Again, what do we have precisely to show that Moscow, Beijing or Tehran would be willing to cooperate? People cooperate because they have an interest to it. What would be theirs?
    Also,the list you mention seems to be unfiortunately much longer:
    The Best Congress AIPAC Can Buy by Philip Giraldi, September 03, 2009 (original article)
    Fully 13% of the entire US House of Representatives, 56 members, traveled to Israel in the largest AIPAC-sponsored fact-finding visit by American politicians ever conducted.

  45. Mark Stuart says:

    Also i forgot Colonel:
    I will say it one more time. They (Mujahideen) were not the Taliban.
    I understand Sir.
    And i also understand that some of those Mujahideen were what we call today in the MSM the Arab foreigners. So one question comes to mind: what happened to those Mujahideen after the Taliban took over? and what remains of them today?
    The Arab foreigners worked hand in hand with the Taliban. At least according to open source news. But what about the other Mujahideen, the locals?

  46. Gautam Das,
    Yes, Pakistan should indeed be on the list. Perhaps in a regional negotiation process, they might become more sensible as to their policies.
    The Chinese might wish to rethink their regional strategy in light of their Uigher problem. They should work bi-laterally and also in a regional context to put pressure on the Pak military-political elite with respect to the jihadis.
    The recent debate in India over a new round of nuclear weapons testing I should think is useful in sending some messages. If the 1998 tests were in fact inconclusive, it makes sense I should think for some additional tests to iron out the science and engineering so as to be more dissuasive with respect to “potential adversaries.”
    Where is the “Green Peril” you are talking about?
    What were the professions and profiles of UBL and Zawahiri, for example? Keep reading…
    I saw Giraldi’s piece and it is a good one. Over the past several years at SST I have made the point that IMO the votes of about 75 percent or more of the House and Senate are controlled (“influenced”) by the Israel Lobby on matters of interest to it. The Iraq War vote is a case in point as are the votes on bills sanctioning Syria, Iran, and etc. The AIPAC spy cases are also llustrative.
    My new book “Dark Crusade: US Foreign Policy and Christian Zionism” (London: Tauris, 2009) gets into the Zionist Lobby issue in some detail with a good deal of historical context. The bibliography has an extensive listing of selected scholarly books and scholarly articles.

  47. Arun says:

    Dear Col. Lang,
    Perhaps some criticism of the following by your readers might help me achieve more clarity in thought.
    America’s security interests in Afghanistan –
    The peculiarity of the 9/11 plot was that the perpetrators had to maintain suicidal intent for a prolonged period away from their programmers. The selection of the perpetrators crucially depended on al Qaeda having a safe haven where candidates could be vetted.
    “Garden variety” terrorism of leaving a bomb – Timothy McVeigh, or Madrid and London – do not require a safe haven for the terrorists.
    Therefore, in trying to deny al Qaeda a safe haven in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, etc., the US is only securing itself against one form (devastating no doubt) of attack.
    The costs and benefits of any strategy have to keep this in mind.
    “Victory” means that effectively al Qaeda is not able to function freely in Afghanistan or Pakistan.
    Victory then can simply mean that the US has viable proxies in Afghanistan that will act on its behalf to disrupt al Qaeda.

  48. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Ambassador M K Bhadrakumar in a series of articles at Asia Time ( has described the various state and non-state actors in Afghanistan.
    He has characterized US campaign in Afghanistan as a strategic campaign for Central Asia.
    He makes sense to me.

  49. Mark Logan says:

    I think you’re right about how uncomfortable it would be for the proponents. Also, if made up of the lot on Cliffs list, I don’t suppose they believe their public support would make an Obama decision in their favor any more likely. It’s really no wonder they are hard to find on the tube at this moment.
    So they wrote a letter…
    And what a letter! A paternal patting on the head complete with playing his own words back for him.
    May it give the man a good chuckle. May it also make him pause. Would scare the heck out of me anyway…

  50. charly says:

    In Iraq the Sunni insurgency is a side issue. The real problem are the Shiites. They were “pacified” by retreating or in other words they won.

  51. Babak, All,
    Ambassador Bhadrakumar is an experienced diplomat and I have heard similar views in Asia. Some argue that the US is actually causing instability so that it can project power in Asia for a new “Great Game” scenario in which it plays a reprise role of the 19th century British Empire.
    I do not doubt there are some circles in the US establishment who are thinking just this. Read Brzezinski’s book “The Grand Chessboard” for example.
    On the other hand, many academics and obserers believe that since the demise of the Soviet Union and bipolar world we are heading into a multipolar international situation. In this situation, the US will have to adjust its national strategy and unilateral neoimperialism is not appropriate and will not work.
    Reviewing the CIA’s Global 2025 project, one can note the shift towards a multipolar world in which the US is less dominant. We can also note new threats such as that posed by international organized crime.
    If we take the NIC’s 2025 study as a reasonable projection, it seems to me the present Afghan escallation and the delusions in the military-industrial complex about “full spectrum dominance” bode very ill for this republic.
    In fact, one can argue that our present foreign policy is fatally disconnected from the world as it is today and the apparent trends for the future.
    Thus, while the ambassador and other critics may very well be correct about the imperialist circles in the US, and I believe they are, there are nonetheless other views in the mix. Will these be heard and acted on? The imperial faction seems to have the upper hand at the moment…

  52. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Clifford Kiracofe:
    The logic of the interaction among Great Powers has been one of a Zero-Sum Game for the past 2000 years.
    Witness the inconclusive struggle for the control the Caucasus and Levant between the Roman (and later Eastern Roman) Empire and the Parthians and later the Sassanids that lasted 500 years.
    If I were a US Strategic thinker, I might be seduced by the idea of leveraging the albeit transitory weakened state of another great power to claim as much strategic space as possible before the possible future restoration of that power.
    That just would be business as usual.
    I personally do not think it feasible for the United States to gain any sort of stable strategic foothold in Central Asia.
    The reason I think so is that Central Asia is too far to be re-supplied by US alone and there is no viable state that can act as a basis for US power projection. Afghanistan can never play such a role and the other Central Asian states are either too fragile or else too beholden to either China or Russia.
    In a multi-polar world there would be more local wars and more autonomous disruptions. It is no panacea.
    What is needed is the creation of peace interest locally and globally, in my opinion.

  53. YT says:

    Babak Makkinejad: “What is needed is the creation of peace interest locally and globally, in my opinion.”
    The past 4 millenia or so has seen near permanent conflict across all lands with human populations.
    Old habits die hard & war for some is a popular sport, anthropologically speaking. For other more byzantine folk, a useful instrument to distract their populace from problems at home & a means to promote the arms trade.
    Add religion into the equation & there would definitely be an increase of autonomus disruptions, a.k.a “All Hell Breaks Loose”.
    Business as usual.

  54. packrat1145 says:

    Mr. Lang, I just thought you should be aware that a poster using the name “mcgowanjm” on has plagiarized some of your words from the above article. I called him out on it and he not only shows no remorse whatsoever, he has now admitted that he uses other’s intellectual property daily without any attribution, saying as long as he does not “profit” from it, it’s not plagiarism there is nothing wrong with what he’s doing.
    You can find more details here:

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