The Shape of Obama’s Decision?

"Aides stress that the president's decision on specific troop levels and the other elements of a revamped approach is still at least two weeks away, and they say Obama has not tipped his hand in meetings that will continue at the White House on Friday.

But the thinking emerging from the strategy formulation portion of the debate offers a clue that Obama would be unlikely to favor a large military increase of the kind being advocated by the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal. McChrystal's troop request is said to include a range of options, from adding as few as 10,000 combat troops to — the general's strong preference — as many as 40,000.

Obama's developing strategy on the Taliban will "not tolerate their return to power," the senior official said in an interview with The Associated Press. But the U.S. would fight only to keep the Taliban from retaking control of Afghanistan's central government — something it is now far from being capable of — and from giving renewed sanctuary in Afghanistan to al-Qaida, the official said."  Yahoonews


This is beginning to sound reasonable.  I suppose it will be necessary to keep present force levels in Afghanistan for a while.  This is likely to be a political necessity since the congressional Republican Party evidently wants to score points by backing a general against civilian leadership.   Added to that is the evident fact that present dispositions have created a lot of very small outposts that are vulnerable to defeat in detail.  Forces must be on hand to reinforce them until these exposed positions are eliminated. 

Let's hope the president's decision resembles something like this story line.  pl


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40 Responses to The Shape of Obama’s Decision?

  1. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    Yes,it does sound more positive amd realistic.
    Let’s hope that a combination of the Vice President, Senator Kerry at the Foreign Relations Committee, and other reasonable members of Congress can help the President reach a sound decision in our national interest.
    The Neoconization of the Republican Party began in the Reagan Administration and now we can see the results: Neoconized McCain in the Semate and the hardline Zionist Cantor in the House. The Dems have Lieberman and others so it is a bi-partisan Neoconization.
    From today’s Senate Foreign Relations Committee Hearing, along the lines of what SST readers have heard from FB Ali, and what I heard from senior academic and military figures in India on my August trip:
    “Former U.S. intelligence officials expressed skepticism at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on U.S. Af-Pak policy today, POLITICO’s Meredith Shiner reports:
    Former CIA Islamabad station chief Robert Grenier expressed his fears Wednesday that American efforts in Afghanistan may be futile.
    In his opening statement before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Grenier said policymakers are overlooking a more central debate over purpose by focusing on questions of troop numbers.
    “The more fundamental question is, do we have an achievable objective and do we have an effective strategy to reach that objective. Right now, I believe the answer to both those questions is no.
    “I fear that we are trying to achieve the unachievable in Afghanistan.”
    Pressed later in his testimony — given on the eighth anniversary of combat in the region — Grenier said building up an Afghan army is a “virtually unsustainable” effort, which would cost multiples in Afghan GDP….”

  2. N. M. Salamon says:

    I understand the political necessity [re neo-cons, military industrial complex and its K street money etc] for the position advaced above.
    Unfortunately, such position is economic suicide in the long run! The Empiure Strikes BACK: BANKRUPCY OF USA – as happend to UK, France, Spain, Rome, Greece, the MAyan civilization etc – living beyond your means [be it ecological Mayan, Babylon – re water and salty soils; Rome – profiligate spending with falling income, UK bankrupted by imperial over reach, et al.
    Borrowing 3+ BILLION DAILY is not sustainable — here comes reality!
    So called security issues[Afganistan is not REALLY security issue] which have its end the destruction of homelad living standards is not a rational decision, not even by the wealthy and overpaid members of Congress and Administration!

  3. WILL says:

    “vulnerable to defeat in detail.”
    certainly a term of art.
    “1862 Stonewall Jackson’s Shenandoah Valley campaign, in which Jackson defeated three Union commands (a combined 60,000 men) with his own command (17,000 men), by fighting each of the enemy columns in turn while the Union commands were separated from each other by impassable terrain or significant distance.”

  4. VietnamVet says:

    As usual your analysis is right on. The thing is the Afghans will fight the foreign Christian invaders to the end of time. There is enough excess oil money sloshing around to keep the Anti-Coalition Militias armed. Religious fanaticism will keep the militias manned.
    Yet, all that really needs to be done, in order for the Western troops to withdraw from Afghanistan, is an agreement with the Taliban and the Warlords that the Arabs will never be welcomed back. With the end of the war next door, Pakistan will calm down.
    If the Long War continues it is due to four reasons:
    The need to have one’s puppet in charge,
    Cultural and religious hatred,
    War profiteers fund American politicians, and
    No President will admit that the USA is fighting a never ending unwinnable war and thus be labeled a Loser by the opposition.
    The economic collapse last year forced the eventual Iraq withdrawal. A cultural, climate and/or economic future shock awaits, then the USA will withdraw from Afghanistan.

  5. magurakurin says:

    I’m far from having the personal knowledge that many here have, but this is what I would like to see happen.
    In my view McChrystal may have made it harder for himself to get his 40k. Obama almost cannot go with that number even if he wants to at the risk of appearing weak and having bent himself to the General’s will. In light of this I think Obama should announce his decision, with a number of soldiers very close to the General’s desired amount, and then a week later have McChrystal removed for having spoken out of the chain of command. He can’t be the only pitcher left in the bullpen. I’m sure there is another commander equally capable of the job.

  6. Arun says:

    Just want to point out that the Soviet-Afghan war and then the post-Soviet chaos in Afghanistan resulted in many millions of Afghans turned into refugees in Pakistan and Iran. In the immediate aftermath of the US invasion, many millions of refugees did return home. (Contrast with the refugees the US created in Iraq.)
    That, by the way, also reduced a burden on Pakistan.
    Therefore, initially at least, the US was doing the right things, from the Afghan point of view. Eventually it stopped doing so (we all know how that happened) and the situation is probably beyond retrieval now. But it was not inevitable that there would a ” Afghans will fight the foreign Christian invaders to the end of time” situation. We are now in that position because we dropped the ball.

  7. optimax says:

    Saw some of Sen. Webb’s interview on c-span today. He brought up the difference between a counter-insurgency, large force and costly; and counter-terrorism, small mobile force, an example being the recent hit on four terrorists in Somalia. He seemed to favor the later. Maybe he heard your debate, Col..

  8. alnval says:

    Col. Lang:
    Let’s hope the president’s decision resembles something like this story line. pl
    From your mouth to God’s ears.

  9. jr786 says:

    @Vietnam vet: Too much emhpasis on religion.
    Afghans are patriots, too. I’m sure many, if not most, are now seeing continued U.S. presence as occupation and colonialism, the same way their mujahid predecessors saw the peace loving Soviet Union, which also entered Af with promises of the blessings of Modernity.
    A patriot doesn’t need his religion to fight for his country. Forced changes to traditional Islamic culture will, however, be seen as legitmate grounds for religous based resistance. Either way, we should get out.
    Eight years on and senior officials still admit that there is not enough awareness of local customs or Islamic traditions. Eight years. That’s a disgrace.

  10. Mark Stuart says:

    “Obama’s developing strategy on the Taliban will “not tolerate their return to power”
    To the eyes of many this is seen as a sine qua none condition for the return home of our troops.
    What is the basis, if any, of such a condition? Considering what has been said before on this blog and elsewhere about the uncritical need for al-Qa’ida and others with the same intent, to have an actual physical sanctuary to plan and carry out attacks.
    Vietnam Vet:
    There is enough excess oil money sloshing around to keep the Anti-Coalition Militias armed.
    American Fighters and Enemy Fighters
    I cannot but wonder how critical for the enemy the oil moneys you are referring to?

  11. Farmer Don says:

    Too soon to break out the champagne, but it looks like this administration is trying to base it’s decisions on reality.
    The withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan is really much more complicated than their invasions. There is still a chance that extremely good policy might spare these countries the horrors that happened in the post war Vietnam region. And adroit policy might keep the USA from loosing all influence in Iraq and Afghanistan like it did in post war Vietnam or post shah Iran.
    As far as the cost of the war machine goes, turning the tap off too quickly would actually be more disruptive to the US economy as well as crippling politically for Obama.
    I’m encouraged by the winding down in Iraq, which seems to be happening, with surprisingly little uproar from Obama’s political enemies, the main stream media, or the general public.

  12. WELL! Whatever the merits of the arguments and the outcome, it appears that the NOBEL Committee sees speeches as a substitute for actions. Perhaps the NOBEL committee read the Pew research indicating that 1.57 Billion of those on earth are worshippers in some form of Islam. And by 2050 almost 1/3 of those living on Planet earth will be MUSLIMS. If demographics ultimately controls history then looking like a struggle for Christendom and the West. Perhaps Dr. Huntington’s clash of civilizations not far off except demographics controlling over culture and religion directly. Let’s see we are formulating a diplomatic and military strategy that employs largely Christian troops totally ignorant of language and culture and religion of a vast geographic space–i.e. AF-PAK and our policy will be driven by knowledge of the “Threat” from that location! Not likely to have any success from my understanding of the facts. But I guess the facts get in the way of hubris, ego, politics, and of course the past. So what are the “Opportunity Costs” as the economists would say of US investment in AF-PAK? I consider US investments in Iraq as sunk costs without much in the way of return on investment as will be shortly revealed (within next decade)! But hey I know little or nothing about economics. T. Boone Pickens though says on the record “Energy costs will Skyrocket” over next decade.

  13. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    1. anent the “Durand Line” there is no agreed upon demarcated border between Afghanistan and Pakistan:
    “…Pakistan inherited the 1893 Durand Line Treaty after it’s partition from India in 1947, but so far there is no formal agreement between Islamabad and Kabul on its formal ratification.[1] Many in Afghanistan as well as some Pakistani politicians find the existence of the international boundary splitting ethnic Pashtun areas to be at least objectionable if not abhorrent.[5] Some argue that the 1893 treaty expired in 1993, after 100 years elapsed without ratification.[1] However, neither the relatively short Durand treaty document itself nor the much longer joint legal boundary demarcation agreements that followed in 1894-6 make any mention of a time limit. In 2005, spokespersons of US Department of State’s Office of the Geographer and Global Issues and British Foreign Commonwealth Office also pointed out that the treaty documents have no mention of expiration date.[6] It’s reported that the two countries had agreed to sign a formal agreement in 1977, which would have brought this contentious issue to an end.[1]…”
    2. “Pashtuns”:
    “Pashtun society consists of many tribes and clans which were rarely politically united,[14] until the rise of the Durrani Empire in 1747.[3] Pashtuns played a vital role during the Great Game as they were caught between the imperialist designs of the British and Russian empires. For over 250 years, they reigned as the dominant ethnic group in Afghanistan. More recently, the Pashtuns gained worldwide attention after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 and with the rise and fall of the Taliban, since they are the main ethnic contingent in the movement. Pashtuns are also an important community in Pakistan, where they are prominently represented in the military and are the second-largest ethnic group.[15]
    The Pashtuns are the world’s largest (patriarchal) segmentary lineage ethnic group.[16] The total population of the group is estimated to be around 42 million, but an accurate count remains elusive due to the lack of an official census in Afghanistan since 1979.[17] There are an estimated 60 major Pashtun tribes and more than 400 sub-clans.[18]”
    3. Taliban was created by Pakistan’s ISI together with Saudi Arabia and some funding also from the UAE. The Clinton Administration coyly gave a wink and a nod one can say without going any further into details. Surely Mrs. Clinton remembers this? She could check with her husband or Madeleine Albright and the others if needed. UNOCAL, Central Asia, Brzezinski’s geopolitics, the pipelines and all that???
    There are about 40 some million Pushtuns, and some say 5 percent are into the Taliban ideology/action mode. Who knows?
    “The Taliban’s extremely strict and “anti-modern” ideology has been described as an “innovative form of sharia combining Pashtun tribal codes,”[32] or Pashtunwali, with radical Deobandi interpretations of Islam favored by members of the Pakistani fundamentalist Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI) organization and its splinter groups. Also contributing to the admixture was the Wahhabism of their Saudi financial benefactors, and the jihadism and pan-Islamism of sometime comrade-in-arms Osama bin Laden.[33] Their ideology was a departure from the Islamism of the anti-Soviet mujahideen rulers they replaced who tended to be mystical Sufis, traditionalists, or radical Islamicists inspired by the Ikhwan.[34]”

  14. N. M. Salamon says:

    A very intersting and literate analysis of the Afgan war:

  15. curious says:

    Obama won Nobel peace prize. This is going to change a whole lot of strategy and geopolitical decision.
    Wow, this is going to be weird for sure. my trend map now is all over the place.

  16. Mark Stuart says:

    Clifford Kiracofe:
    The Taliban’s extremely strict and “anti-modern” ideology has been described as an “innovative” form of sharia combining Pashtun tribal codes […] with radical Deobandi interpretations of Islam […] contributing to the admixture was the Wahhabism of their Saudi financial benefactors…
    Some explanation seem to be missing from this wikipedia entry Sir? :
    The Saudis are supposed to have financed the “anti-Soviet mujahideen rulers”, then turned around and financed “the Taliban” although they are a departure from traditional Islamism? Although Deobandis are regarded by traditional Saudi Clerics as “innovators”, meaning out of the realm of Islam, they would have still been financed by Saudis? Why would they, why should they finance the new kid on the block on the Af-Pak political scene when they had been bankrolling the mujahideen for so long?
    (ref: Are Deobandis part of Ahlus Sunnah? Are they within the folds of Islam?, it’s a litle esoteric but the bottom line from this Saudi Cleric is clear: they are to be avoided.)
    Also, to link back to my previous comment, looking at this Map of Afghanistan and the Surrounding Countries wouldn’t the Taliban and al-Qa’ida benefit from the many safe passages and sanctuaries if best case scenario we root them out of Af-Pak?

  17. VietnamVet says:

    We cannot long talk about the Strategy for the War in Afghanistan without talking about America. The most striking comment in the Afghanistan debate in NYC in which you participated was the one saying the McChrystal troop increase report makes no mention of religion. Western Civilization is unusual in that cheap energy and education allowed a significant portion of its population to distance itself from religion. Only 30 percent of the USA could be classified as true believers; although this number will grow with the collapse of the economy and continued failures of government. In a third world tribal agrarian society, religion is as much a part of life as the sun rising in the morning. Any Strategy that does not address the culture and religion of Afghanistan is doomed to failure.
    Islamic religious fanatics would of no interest to the American Empire, any more than Whirling Dervishes were a problem for the British Empire, except for two critical 21st Century facts: Western governments have not gotten control of the excess oil money that is going to Islamic Charities and Pakistan’s nuclear weapons. Only energy independence and ending the war next door, addresses either problem. Continuing the Long War with a slight or no troop increase only exasperates the problem; Nobel Prize or not.

  18. par4 says:

    In other words they’re an Old Testament society armed with modern light arms,luckily they aren’t rolling in oil wealth. We need to get out the sooner the better.

  19. Fred says:

    Not of mention of Religion in the Counterinsurgency Field Manual; “Islamic” extremism being held as the greatest threat to US security (no mention of the extremism practiced by ‘Christian’ Timothy McVeigh)and over at Conservapedia they are re-writing the bible to remove the ‘liberal’ bias.
    So much for both Matthew 5:9 and most of what that ‘liberal’ from Nazareth had to say, too; as well as respect for religion. This is very troubling.

  20. curious says:

    This doesn’t look good. I thought it was in 5-10% range. but 30%? We are talking about serious public rejection and total lack of legitimacy.
    A former senior United Nations diplomat in Kabul has made a scathing attack on the UN’s handling of Afghanistan’s disputed elections, claiming that almost one in three of the votes cast for president Hamid Karzai were fraudulent.
    Peter Galbraith, the former deputy head of the UN mission in Afghanistan, singled out his former chief, Kai Eide, for criticism, saying he had deliberately played down the level of cheating in an election where, in one region, “10 times as many votes were recorded as voters actually cast”.

  21. fasteddiez says:

    Mark Stuart:
    Your American Fighters linked happy snap showed….Limey Fighters!

  22. Sidney O. Smith III says:

    Due to prior “comments”, I am obligated to step forward and say something that, quite actually, speaks in favor of Senator Webb.
    Imo, Senator Webb on October 6 was simply tremendous when on MSNBC, he said in no uncertain terms that Gen. McCrystal should have presented his views about the military options in Afghanistan within the chain of command. Maybe I am missing behind closed doors politikin’, but here it is. Decide for yourself.
    Senator Webb’s analysis was so trenchant, precise, and articulate, that I almost wanted to belt out a “yahoo”, pull out his book on the “Scot-Irish” and then even kick back and listen to some Tony Rice to get that bluegrass Virginia feel. (you tube would do, I suppose, starting with “Freeborn Man”).
    But, as I say, “almost”…
    …here’s hoping that the next time Senator Webb takes a stroll through Arlington National Cemetery, as he, apparently, is wont to do, that he will head over to the gravesite of Captain McGonagle (MOH) and pay his respects.
    Who knows…if he did so, maybe some ghost, barefoot and clad in ragged butternut, will head over from Jackson Circle to join Senator Webb and say, “Hey, mister, ain’t you a fancy Washington lawyer? What you gonna’ do about what happened to Captain McGonagle.”
    Of course, if that happened, then surely some ghost clad in blue would join in, saying, “Hey, Rebel, when it comes to standing up for the Captain, your senator from Virginia reminds me of McClellan in 62.”
    Then an educated officer ghost clad in gray may join in, saying, “McClellan? Yankee, the senator is acting more like Hamlet.”
    And with that, the blue and gray would get a good brotherly laugh after all those years. And if they are laughing, then isn’t all of Arlington National Cemetery doing the same?
    That said, Senator Webb truly was magnificent during his recent interview.
    And I do have a confession. I did go ahead and listen to the you tube video of Tony Rice playing “Freeborn Man” with Mark O’ Connor, Sam Bush, and company.
    My first thought was that I had forgotten that Tony Rice looks like Larry Bird’s brother, imo. Second thought was ‘tis a pity that so much of “Appalachia” has turned to meth instead of celebrating its astoundingly brilliant cultural achievement called bluegrass. Final thought presented as a plea: less meth (and less Hagee, imo) and more bluegrass, please.

  23. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    Mark Stuart, All
    For those interested in backround:
    On the Deobandis, I’d suggest Barbara Daly Metcalf, Islamic Revival in Brtitish India: Deoband, 1860-1900 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1982). The original Wahabbi missionary contact from Arabia to South Asia runs back into the 18th century and the movement developed rapidly in the 19th.
    On the background of Saudi assistance to the Taliban, Deobandis and etc. I’d suggest Ahmed Rashid, Taliban (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2001) who presents extensive analysis.
    Going back to the 1990s, many of the madrassas along the Pak-Afghan “border” which supplied the muj for the Afghan War had close relationships with the Deobandis and were financed by the Saudis. Also, for example, the Saudi Religious Police later were reported to have advised the Taliban and trained up some of their cadres. etc.
    Looking to the future, Graham Fuller’s book, The Future of Political Islam (New York: Palgrave, 2003) is useful.
    The various ideologies of political Islam are something of a melange. I had an interesting conversation recently with an Egyptian analyst who pointed out elements of Wahabbism underlying AQ ideology, for example.
    On the map thing, Taliban are Pashtuns with a particular perspective. There are about 40 some million Pashtuns in “Af-Pak” with the old British colonial Durand Line having an impact on them and us today. They move around within their traditional areas.
    As for AQ, some of the terrorists who hit us in 911 were living in Hamburg, Germany and the Euros routinely pick up Muslim terrorists resident in Europe…so these types are rather mobile. You don’t need to wear theatrical clothing, do the mangy beard and forehead patch thing, and live in a cave in the Hindu Kush. The Swiss just identified someone working at a nuclear research facility in their country as allegedly having links to an international Muslim terrorist organization.

  24. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    Sidney Smith,
    Yes Tony Rice is a great flatpicker. Heard him once live at a small venue in Charlottesville, VA some years back.
    Mike Seeger (Pete’s half brother) lived here in Lexington and passed on in August. There was a memorial service for him recently. He did so much to develop interest in researching and playing traditional American music and instruments.
    Rest assured there is an active local music scene here in the Shenandoah Valley and environs. You might like Larry Keel,for example, a younger player who has established a solid reputation.
    Larry plays a “Rockbridge” guitar which as the name indicates are made right here in Rockbridge County with some additional work up in Charlottesville. I like mine a lot, an SJ cutaway with a Boggs pickup. Great guitars.
    Per the meth and all that, well this is owing much to the proliferation across the US of the Hispanic gangs out of California/Mexico (“CalMex”) and Central America (Guatemala, El Salvador). Talk to the police in Staunton or Roanoke or Lexington or wherever here in the Valley, for example. Review the Justice Department studies and reports…. IMO, the real threat is already here among us, like Pogo says, not in a cave in the Hindu Kush. The worst case scenario is AQ and friends linking to the gangs already operative in the US. And that imperial pimp McCh. wants 60,000 more troops….for the Hindu Kush quagmire.

  25. F B Ali says:

    This is weird! Surreal!
    The other day the White House put out the word that Obama and his national security team were seriously considering a shift in focus from Afghanistan and the Taliban to Pakistan and al-Qaeda. Since this was widely expected to lead to a confrontation with the military, it would appear to be really important (not least for Obama’s political future) that the new strategy prove successful. So, what happens next? The US sends a huge bull (in the shape of the Kerry-Lugar bill) charging into the Pakistani china shop!
    Equally weird, if not more so, is the total incomprehension in Washington as the sound of smashing crockery and the howls of anger and anguish arise from Pakistan. The universal reaction is: What’s wrong with them? Instead of getting down on bended knees and thanking us, what are they complaining about? It is painfully obvious that the US hasn’t a clue what the situation in Pakistan really is, and why there is this strong reaction. This is perhaps the most troubling aspect of the whole episode.
    It is too early to say how deep and long-lasting the damage to the relationship between the two countries will be. But damage there will certainly be, and this will adversely affect US interests and prospects in the region. This clumsy move has upset the delicate power balance in Pakistan, and it will have a serious, and possibly long-lasting, impact.
    Truly weird!

  26. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    Then there is the rumor of the Christine Fair, a RANDoid, for DAS at State. Many observers familiar with her writings and positions perceive her as heavily “pro-Pakistan.” So this would naturally raise some eyebrows in India. Indians I have spoken to regard her as “abrasive” and we already have that out there with Holbrooke.
    IMO, it would have been more appropriate to appoint a professional diplomat from within State for this sensitive position.
    “NEW DELHI: Christine Fair, political scientist and South Asia specialist at Rand Corporation, is likely to be the new pointperson on India at the
    South Asia bureau in the US state department.
    Sources said she is likely to be appointed deputy assistant secretary for South Asia soon, a prospect that is already raising eyebrows here, despite her evident familiarity with the region and the complex dynamics of the India-Pakistan relationship.
    A scholar on South Asia, Fair has written extensively on Pakistan. In fact, she has spent a lot more time on Pakistan than on India. But when she hasfocused on India, Fair has often barked up the wrong tree. For instance, after the Mumbai attacks, she was quoted in international media as saying, “There’s absolutely nothing Al Qaida-like about it. Did you see any suicide bombers? And there are no fingerprints of Lashkar. They don’t do hostage taking, and they don’t do grenades.” …

  27. LeaNder says:

    Wow, this is going to be weird for sure. my trend map now is all over the place.
    all over the place?
    If this means the move has created a slight disorder in your astute prognostications, I must admit it somehow confirms my impression, this is an interesting move. Usually I do not pay much attention on these matters, but I agree interesting choice. As I register American anger: What for, good speeches?

  28. zanzibar says:

    Nir Rosen embedded with the Taliban.

  29. Mark Stuart says:

    Clifford Kiracofe:
    1-“I had an interesting conversation recently with an Egyptian analyst who pointed out elements of Wahabbism underlying AQ ideology, for example.”
    Could you please elaborate a bit Sir? It would be interesting to the extent that Egyptians are traditional antagonists of the Saudi Kingdom. And although Wahhabism takes its geographical roots in Arabia, al-Qa’ida takes its in both Egypt and the Arabian Peninsula.
    2-“The original Wahabbi missionary contact from Arabia to South Asia runs back into the 18th century and the movement developed rapidly in the 19th.”
    Muhammad ibn Abd-al-Wahhab was born in Saudi Arabia 1703 and died in 1792. The Deobandi movement had not started till 1867 in India. Considering the communication systems of the time, I’m not sure one movement had great influence over the other. It is my understanding that Abd-al-Wahhab main concern was more within the Arabian Peninsula rather than global. Not to mention his strict aversion for religious innovations to which the Deobandis were inclined.
    Indeed, the Saudi Government could have still decided to finance movements linked to the Deobandis much later on. I would be then curious to hear something about the Saudi religious establishment’ stance on that financing since they were intimately involved in the fight of the Mujahideen and strictly opposed to such thoughts as the Deobandis’? Anything on that on your part?
    3-Regarding that “worst case scenario” so often mentioned in MSM, do you believe that this is plausible or mere media marketing ploy? The likes of Y2K or the nuclear bomb shipped off to Long Beach, CA? Drug cartels are interested in big bucks. And big bucks they already make with all their pawns installed in gvt., federal and local. What would be their interest in associating with terrorists considering the current sate of al-Qa’ida and their finances, and the tremendous risk they would then take? 9/11 and terrorists disrupted their business down in FL and CA. They have everything to gain to see that terrorists are off their routes.
    4-“40 some million Pashtuns in “Af-Pak” […] move around within their traditional areas.”
    But the same could have been said of the Chechens or the Uygurs Sir. And still we found many fighters from those countries when we arrived in Afghanistan. So, wouldn’t it be fair to assume that in case we succeed in routing them out of Af-Pak, they would skedaddle out of regions under our control using those multiple friendlier routes and build news sanctuaries across those borders? And what could our hand be then? Any suggestion?
    5-I beg to differ with you when you say Sir that “this is owing much to the proliferation across the US of the Hispanic gangs out of California/Mexico”
    IMO, this is just as for 9/11, owing to the many corrupt law enforcement people who feel too secure in their office to do their job, or have some interest in dealing with those gangs. Corruption in high ranking offices is more rampant than one might imagine. If we didn’t use, they wouldn’t sell. The Justice Department studies and reports will never give names of those ones working for them who consume and are perfect preys for those gangs. But they are there. Doing their nefarious job. And this is first hand experience, not mere speculation, slandering or backbiting .
    F B Ali:
    Do you have Sir, at least the beginning of a potential explanation for that “weird! Surreal!” rational? If so, would you care to share it with us even if mere conjecture?

  30. Mark Stuart says:

    Sidney O. Smith III:
    Country music is gut-wrenching for me away from home Sir! Tony Rice and Freeborn Man make me long for home. So does Church Street Blues.

  31. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    Mark Stuart,
    I would point you and those interested to the books I suggested as basic background reading on the political Islam issues noted.
    Your point 5 to me is incoherent. But, I would point those interested to official Justice Department docs and other related US gov docs available to the public.
    For example,
    1. “National Gang Intelligence Center
    NGIC integrates the gang intelligence assets of all Department of Justice agencies and has established partnerships with other federal, state, and local agencies that possess gang-related information–serving as a centralized intelligence resource for gang information and analytical support. This enables gang investigators and analysts to identify links between gangs and gang investigations, to further identify gangs and gang members, to learn the full scope of their criminal activities and enterprises, to determine which gangs pose the greatest threat to the United States, to identify trends in gang activity and migration, and to guide the appropriate officials in coordinating their investigations and prosecutions to disrupt and dismantle gangs. The NGIC’s mission is to support law enforcement agencies through timely and accurate information sharing and strategic/tactical analysis of federal, state, and local law enforcement intelligence focusing on the growth, migration, criminal activity, and association of gangs that pose a significant threat to communities throughout the United States.” etc.
    2. “Criminal gangs in the USA have swelled to an estimated 1 million members responsible for up to 80% of crimes in communities across the nation, according to a gang threat assessment compiled by federal officials.
    The major findings in a report by the Justice Department’s National Gang Intelligence Center, which has not been publicly released, conclude gangs are the “primary retail-level distributors of most illicit drugs” and several are “capable” of competing with major U.S.-based Mexican drug-trafficking organizations.
    “A rising number of U.S.-based gangs are seemingly intent on developing working relationships” with U.S. and foreign drug-trafficking organizations and other criminal groups to “gain direct access to foreign sources of illicit drugs,” the report concludes.
    The gang population estimate is up 200,000 since 2005.
    Bruce Ferrell, chairman of the Midwest Gang Investigators Association, whose group monitors gang activity in 10 states, says the number of gang members may be even higher than the report’s estimate.
    “We’ve seen an expansion for the last 10 years,” says Ferrell, who has reviewed the report. “Each year, the numbers are moving forward.”
    ‘Growing threat’ on the move
    The report says about 900,000 gang members live “within local communities across the country,” and about 147,000 are in U.S. prisons or jails.
    “Most regions in the United States will experience increased gang membership … and increased gang-related criminal activity,” the report concludes, citing a recent rise in gangs on the campuses of suburban and rural schools.
    Among the report’s other findings:
    •Last year, 58% of state and local law enforcement agencies reported that criminal gangs were active in their jurisdictions, up from 45% in 2004.
    •More gangs use the Internet, including encrypted e-mail, to recruit and to communicate with associates throughout the U.S. and other countries.
    •Gangs, including outlaw motorcycle groups, “pose a growing threat” to law enforcement authorities along the U.S.-Canadian border. The U.S. groups are cooperating with Canadian gangs in various criminal enterprises, including drug smuggling.
    Assistant FBI Director Kenneth Kaiser, the bureau’s criminal division chief, says gangs have largely followed the migration paths of immigrant laborers.
    He says the groups are moving to avoid the scrutiny of larger metropolitan police agencies in places such as Los Angeles. “These groups were hit hard in L.A.” by law enforcement crackdowns, “but they are learning from it,” Kaiser says.
    MS-13 far-flung from L.A. incubator
    One group that continues to spread despite law enforcement efforts is the violent Salvadoran gang known as MS-13.
    Michael Sullivan, the departing director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, says the gang’s dependence on shocking violence to advance extortion, prostitution and other criminal enterprises has frustrated attempts to infiltrate and disrupt the insular group’s activities.
    “MS-13’s foothold in the U.S. is expanding,” Sullivan says.
    Kaiser says the street gang is in 42 states, up from 33 in 2005. “Enforcement efforts have been effective to a certain extent, but they (gang members) keep moving,” he says.
    MS-13 is the abbreviation for the gang also known as Mara Salvatrucha. The group gained national prominence in the 1980s in Los Angeles, where members were linked to incidents involving unusual brutality.
    Since then, it has formed cells or “cliques” across the U.S., says Aaron Escorza, chief of the FBI’s MS-13 National Gang Task Force.
    The task force was launched in 2004 amid concerns about the gang’s rapid spread. Gang members were targeted in broad investigations similar to those used to bust organized crime groups from Russia and Italy.
    Among law enforcement efforts:
    •Omaha: The last of 24 MS-13 members swept up on federal firearms charges and conspiracy to distribute methamphetamine were sentenced last year in the largest bust since the group emerged there in 2004.
    The gang’s strength dimmed as a result, but the nine-month probe did not eradicate the group, says Ferrell, who assisted in the investigation.
    •Nashville: During the last two years, 14 MS-13 members pleaded guilty on charges ranging from murder to obstruction of justice.
    Davidson County, Tenn., Sheriff Daron Hall, whose jurisdiction includes Nashville, says MS-13 started growing there about five years ago, corresponding with an influx of immigrant labor.
    Last April, county officials began checking the immigration status of all arrestees. “We know we have removed about 100 gang members, including MS-13,” to U.S. authorities for deportation, Hall says.
    •Maryland: Earlier this month, federal authorities said they had convicted 42 MS-13 members since 2005. More than half were charged in a “racketeering conspiracy” in which members participated in robberies and beatings and arranged the murders of other gang members, according to Justice Department documents.
    In one case, Maryland gang members allegedly discussed killing rivals with an MS-13 leader calling on a cellphone from a Salvadoran jail, the documents say.
    Escorza says a “revolving door” on the border has kept the gang’s numbers steady — about 10,000 in the U.S. — even as many illegal immigrant members are deported.
    The FBI, which has two agents in El Salvador to help identify and track members in Central America and the United States, plans to dispatch four more agents to Guatemala and Honduras, Escorza says.
    “They evolve and adapt,” he says. “They know what law enforcement is doing. Word

  32. Mark Stuart says:

    Clifford Kiracofe :
    With all due respect Sir, i did not ask for basic background reading on the political Islam issues noted. I asked specific questions:
    1- You said: an Egyptian analyst who pointed out elements of Wahabbism underlying AQ ideology…
    So I asked if you could please share with us some specific points he gave you.
    2- You asserted via your Wikipedia entry on the Taliban that Saudi money was critical in financing the Taliban and Deobandi movements.
    To which I asked: “How come Sir? Since the Saudi religious establishment was already financing the original Afghan Mujahideen and condemned Deobandis.”
    You responded by listing two books:
    -Taliban by Ahmed Rashid which doesn’t give any answer to that question and
    -Barbara D. Metcalf who seems to concur with me when she says :
    “I will also attempt to explain why it is implausible to believe that the Tablighis support terrorism or are in any way affiliated with other terrorist or ‘jihadi’ movements such as the Taliban or Al Qaeda.” (Murat Kurnaz,Department of Defense, pages 96-98)
    She also said: “I must emphasize this last point, that the Tablighis formally and actively believe that traveling to engage in missionary activity fully discharges any religious obligation to engage in Jihad.” (Murat Kurnaz ARB, Department of Defense, pages 103-105)
    There seems to be a total ideological opposition between Deobandis (Tablighis are Deobandis) and the Saudis. So again, allow me to reiterate my question: how is it possible to explain as you said that: the Taliban’s extremely strict and “anti-modern” ideology has been described as an “innovative” form of sharia combining Pashtun tribal codes […] with radical Deobandi interpretations of Islam […] contributing to the admixture was the Wahhabism of their Saudi financial benefactors…
    4- No response?
    3 and 5- are related to the drug business and the potential association of gangs and drug cartels with terrorists:
    You said:Per the meth and all that, well this is owing much to the proliferation across the US of the Hispanic gangs out of California/Mexico […] The worst case scenario is AQ and friends linking to the gangs already operative in the US.
    I read everything you posted about gang activity in the US Sir; their rise and drug related criminal activities. And i’m still asking:
    Do you believe that it is in the interest of such gangs and drug related criminal organizations to associate with terrorists? al-Qa’ida has no money left to pay them. So what would be in it for drug cartels and gangs to associate with terrorists?
    And second, what do you make of the assertion made publicly by high ranking Mexican officials that as long as there were corrupt American high ranking officials in our own administration that facilitate and benefit from the transfer of drugs and arms across our border, the situation would get worst at the border?
    I hope i was more concise and clear Sir, and that you will shine some light on those questions.

  33. F B Ali says:

    Mark Stuart
    If you wish to understand what I was talking about, I would suggest that you read up on the developments in Pakistan in the last few days. A good place to start is the website of the principal newspaper there, The News, at:
    It has a Back Issues button. I suggest you start reading from around October 3.

  34. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    “Mark Stuart”,
    To make things more simple for you, which I can see you need, I would point you again to the Rashid book on Taliban. He discusses the broad spectrum of issues. This book was quite popular with the general reader audience about a decade ago and is used in academic settings as well.
    If you live in the US, (you do live in the US???) you can order it from any local bookstore. Here is the notice from Yale University Press which you could print out and take to the bookstore.
    Now I must say, I do find your conspiracy theories about US officials at the Justice Department being responsible for the drug trade in the US a bit, well…You need to do some more reading on the matter of the threat from organized crime to the US homeland. You are a US citizen I take it?

  35. Mark Stuart says:

    F B Ali :
    Thank you Sir. It is always a pleasure to read you. Your articles and sources of info. are invaluable. Thanks again.
    Clifford Kiracofe:
    1-To make things more simple for you, which I can see you need
    I never pretended Sir to be a scholar as knowledgeable and reputable as you are. So thank you for taking the time to respond and for the book recommendation.
    2-If you live in the US, (you do live in the US???) […] You are a US citizen I take it?
    I fail again to see the bearing on our discussion.
    3-I do find your conspiracy theories about US officials at the Justice Department being responsible for the drug trade in the US a bit, well…
    I never said the DOJ were responsible for the drug trade Sir. But that some officials at Federal, State and local level, are indeed corrupt and that makes things harder to control at the border.
    Corruption within our own system is something publicly sated by Mexican Drug officials. You also said yourself: “They evolve [gangs] and adapt,” he says. “They know what law enforcement is doing..
    And it is something i’ve witnessed first hand. So it can hardly be in the realm of conspiracy theories. At least to me.
    Furthermore, you told us plenty about the increase in gang activity and their drug related crimes. But you have kept mum on the financial interest drug cartels and gangs would have to deal with terrorists (I’m assuming financial gains being their main drive).
    I don’t want to go through millions of DOJ investigative reports to find out. So if you could just summarize for us their take, or your take on this question, i would appreciate.

  36. eagle in the mountains says:

    In regard to the question of the relations between Taliban and AQ, it should be borne in mind that OBL married his son off to the daughter of Mullah Omar–they can’t be on very poor terms.
    Does anyone know the role the Sufis play in all of this?
    On the one hand, someone commented earlier that the Afghani Sufis were the first to resist the Soviet occupation (info?); in addition, the Deobandis (the Taliban are Deobandi) are said to practise Sufism (how?).
    On the other hand, the Pakistani Taliban recently blew up a Sufi shrine (surely Deobandi Sufi practice is different from traditional Sufi practice, but does anyone have any information?).
    Anyone have any information how all of this ties together?
    It seems to me that if Mullah Omar and OBL are related by marriage each must have a very good idea of what the other teaches and practises, and the one might even have borrowed from the other.

  37. Mark Stuart says:

    F B Ali:
    I read everything from Oct. 3rd.
    I wish they had come up in Congress with a similar bill for Israel!
    But again, they don’t have Mark A. Siegel nor Cassidy and Associates as lobbyists. Some people out there are awfully aggervatin! Others are living on bard time!

  38. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    “how all of this ties together?”
    Eagle IM,
    I would recommend Ahmed Rashid’s “Taliban” (New Haven: Yale Univesity Press, 2001) $14.95. This is a good background overview of many of the issues which have been brought up in this thread.
    Surfing/googling the net randomly and piecemeal is not going to be that productive for finding a serious integrated analysis. Those with access to the many powerful academic online services through university libraries, of course, can locate quantities of relevant scholarly analysis.

  39. Eagle In the Mountains says:

    To Clifford Kiracofe:
    Thanks for the reference to the book. I will try to get hold of it to read it.
    Does it handle the issue of Sufism? I’m particularly interested in the role of traditional Sufism in the conflict, starting with the Soviet period, and also in the role that Sufism plays in Deobandi and presumably therefore modern Taliban and perhaps even AQ.

  40. Mark Stuart says:

    Are we getting closer to India, while pushing Pakistan in the arms of the Chinese? any basis to that?

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