Yesterday Iraq, today Afghanistan, tomorrow Somalia, then Yemen?

"ONE OF THE rhetorical questions frequently tossed out in the debate over Afghanistan concerns the brewing trouble in Somalia and Yemen, both of which are known to host al-Qaeda cadres and training camps. If it's necessary to pacify Afghanistan to protect U.S. security, goes the taunt, must we also intervene in Somalia and Yemen?

The presumed answer is: "Of course not — and therefore why bother with Afghanistan?" The more sensible response is: If something is not done soon about these lawless places, one or the other may well become the next Afghanistan — a place where U.S. military intervention was compelled by a devastating attack on the homeland. "  Washpost lead editorial
Can there be any doubt that what the Post has in mind are COIN campaigns in these and all other "necessary" places?
"COIN = political reform + economic development + counterguerilla operations."  (Bernard Fall's definition)
The prophets of COINism must be upset today with their fellow travelers at the Post.  This kind of thought must be concealed from the American electorate if they are to be manipulated into acceptance of the unending series of revolutionary wars that are the emerging destiny of the United States.
The COIN prophets+the COIN generals+the neocon revolutionaries+the neocon driven corporate media; this coalition of the obsessed and the self-obsessed is driving America towards commitment to a future filled with COINist zeal for revolutionary change across the world, starting with the Islamic world.
The inevitable end of that development will be national bankruptcy and political unrest that will make the 60s and 70s look trivial by comparison.
We should thank the editorial page of the Post for revealing what this all about.  pl


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47 Responses to Yesterday Iraq, today Afghanistan, tomorrow Somalia, then Yemen?

  1. CK says:

    A committment of troops to Yemen, and Somalia along with a continuance of troops in Iraq will pretty well surround the oil fields of Saudi Arabia.

  2. JJackson says:

    Shouldn’t that read
    Yesterday Iraq,Somalia, Afghanistan today Iraq, Afghanistan,Pakistan tomorrow every one we pissed off yesterday and today plus all those we will piss off extricating ourselves from the above.
    “Afghanistan — a place where U.S. military intervention was compelled by a devastating attack on the homeland.” Was it and if it was should it have extended to regime change or stopped at bombing AQ?
    Would the US, & the world more generally, be a safer place if the US had not gone on Jihad post 9/11? Would AQ be a relatively small terrorist organisation generally vilified and condemned rather than an umbrella organisation for any local group that was both Muslim and had a grievance? Are we the problem rather than the solution?

  3. Again preemptive war has been moved forward to a prominent place in the first and last Obama Administration. He knows he is in the record book so perhaps war is not such a worry for him. What is not realized is that right now, today, the US is vastly overextended unless you wish to take on fully the military/industrial/acacademic empirists and choose your battles more capaby. With 1.57 worshippers of Islam world wide, other perceived threats, this century now looks like a real barn burner for the US with cafe society EU dropped out even for the balkans, Japan about to drop the US for military alliance (already shorting the dollar in conjunction with Korea, Taiwan, China, and others. Still highly dependent on foreign oil it is very clear that whether or not the US opponets are thinking strategically they could not be playing their hand more skillfully if they tried. The Treasury needs beefing up to conduct financial warfare. DHS or whomever needs beefing up for cyber security and critical infrastructure protection. DOD is not reformed and will not be under GATES and OBAMA two who may well try to throw a rope over waste, fraud and abuse in DOD programs, functions, and activities, [and now generally acknowledged that DCAA did many things except audit the DOD contractors many of which knowing that squeezed their civil agency contracts some huge under DCAA auspices)so that now it is really time for Obama and others to level with the people of the US and tell them how dysfunctional the government and its policy formulation system and process is because voter signon will start turnoff tomorrow in various elections. Hey he was dealt a tough hand but Obama has to now know how inadequately he and his staff is prepared for the big leagues. Too bad because they looked like they might grow but evidence increasingly in that the same hubris, ego, greed that has dominated Washington for so long now pervades the policy process which is largely dominated by foreign powers and interests. Tomorrows elections are the first tell tale on the mast head for this group think group.

  4. JohnH says:

    Maybe your headline should read, “Yesterday Iraq, today Afghanistan, tomorrow Somalia, Yemen and America.”
    As you say, “the inevitable end…will be national bankruptcy and political unrest that will make the 60s and 70s look trivial by comparison.” There are increasing legions of unemployed Americans waiting to be recruited…

  5. rfjk says:

    After over a hundred years of social, economic, cultural and political distortions inflicted upon America since the conquest of Hawaii, can “national bankruptcy and political unrest” be avoided if the US were to stand down, withdraw to its borders and mind its own business?
    Ive a strong hunch that such a development would rip the guts out of America from sea to shining sea and border to border. And those demanding such today would be the same persons whining about the consequences tomorrow.
    Its too late Col. We have long passed the “stop sign” warning of the “point of no return.”

  6. “national bankruptcy and political unrest that will make the 60s and 70s look trivial by comparison”
    Yes, as the situation internally here at home disintegrates violence will undoubtedly increase.
    We have an unsecured and violent southern border and a massive nationwide complex of organized criminal groups/gangs from Mexico and Central America. These are hardened types.
    Mexico appears to be melting down lately and is ungoverned in some large areas with the narco-criminal gangs in defacto control.
    In the revolutionary era in Mexico around 1911 some one to two million Mexicans fled north across the border so mass movement across this unsecured border is not something new.
    The US foreign policy establishment is at present delusional and disfunctional and apparently can think only in terms of neoimperial projects and adventures as the Post piece indicates.
    As we live in a multipolar world these days, our rivals-enemies-competitors will continue to adjust their policies in light of the diminishing power and influence of the US.
    After the collapse of the Soviet empire at the beginning of the 1990s, the US should have opted for a prudent policy of retrenchment and caution as a new multipolar world emerged. We did not. The US foreign policy establishment sought a neoimperial role whether in a Republican-Neocon “unipolar” mode or a Democrat “Liberal Imperialism” mode.
    Obama “changed” nothing in this regard. We are in the “Liberal Imperial” mode as expressed by the Post piece. At some point in the future, Americans may begin to realize just how deeply they have been betrayed by both political parties… and then perhaps the pitchforks and torches will come out.

  7. Balint Somkuti says:

    COIN is not devil incarnated. Maybe some noecons are but that is another issue. OTOH COIN + neocons are a deadly mix cuz’ sooner or later some ‘genius’ with God speaking personally to him, will try to convert muslims in the guise of population centric ops. Now that will be a catastrophy.
    As long as we keep lying to ourselves, to the world and to our own population the gap between reality and real actions gets bigger and bigger until we fall in it and break our very necks out (the thing happening to hungarian postcommunists).
    Until we give up on achieving something of a draw in A’stan we have time. After that we would have to fight for it.

  8. If we are going to do COIN anywhere, it ought to be Mexico.
    If we were serious about defense, we would be spending less time talking about Yemen and Somalia and more time about energy independence and creating an infrastructure less easily disrupted.
    But that would mean a devolution from Washington and New York to myriad localities. Which explains why the Washington Post prefers COIN in Yemen and Somalia.

  9. Perhaps I’m splitting hairs, but, in these cases, are there opportunities for early Foreign Internal Defense doctrine to build the Host Nation capabilities before a major insurgency develops? I fully recognize that FID may not be able to make political and economic reforms, and there is a danger of being dragged in. I’ve heard mixed things about how well JTF-Horn of Africa is working with locals.
    Now, if any of these nations had a potential Magsaysay, that’s where all the effort should go. Is there one? Could we find him (or her) if so?
    (Can’t help but share something silly in that context: the two great moments of Corazon Aquino’s life. #1, the humbling experience of triumph and the responsibility for her nation. #2, discovering she had the same shoe size as Imelda Marcos).

  10. John Howley says:

    You are right to highlight this shocking editorial.
    I continue to look to structural issues. Kiracofe notes erosion in the quality of decision making.
    I wonder whether we still have a coherent governing class, in the sense of a group of people who share assumptions, trust and vision.
    (This problem is separate from whether those assumptions are the right ones or not.)
    We drive a bipartisan model. If the driver and passenger cannot take turns politely and instead fight over wheel and the map, then we should not be surprised by erratic driving as the wheel is jerked from right to left and the transmission thrown into reverse at high speeds.
    Other drivers will give us a wide berth. Soon, we will be alone in the ditch, still squabbling.

  11. Patrick Lang says:

    COIN only makes sense if you own the place or wantr to own the place. Otherwise the costs are too high. Better to just kill your real enemies. pl

  12. Patrick Lang says:

    We have been doing FID in these two places for decades. I participated in it in Yemen 30 years ago against much the same problem set. pl

  13. curious says:

    The question above is not serious question. It’s a bit like asking if one should put out a smoldering bonfire in the middle of approaching forest fire. Should we use a bucket or why should we put it out at all?
    Who cares? The entire forest is burning. That question should be asked before 200 campers invading a dry forest and leaving half burning bonfire in the past 3 weeks. The question right now is what to do with approaching forest fire.
    Open world map. mark places with (a. US intervention in the past 30 years. (insurgency training, organizing finance and network, regime change) (b. places where such intervention resulted in oppressive regime, massive population discontent and smoldering underground politics. (c. Is it Islamic with international connection or palestine connection) (d. is there a US base in 200 miles radius (e. Are they pro US totalitarian regime who has now resort to religious populism?
    As you can see, without even knowing what al qaeda is, one pretty much describes the general outline of al qaeda network on the map.
    Trying to catch an al qaeda operative that travels from Pakistan, down to south east asia, into middle east then hiding in india while talking to somebody in europe is after the fact.
    All those mess and semi stable areas has by now hook up together losely and serve as operation area. If one wants to deal with afghanistan, one has to deal seriously with Pakistan, Kashmir, and all countries that plays wink-wink nudge nudge US backed terrorism/totalitarian regime like philipine, Malaysia, indonesia, Thailand, Australia, Ethipia, Yemen, Saudi … etc.
    Basically, the loose connection terror network like al qaeda is a accumulation of insurgency, training, financial networking that has reached critical mass globally and self sustaining. Training jundullah now means Somalia group knows the latest training few months later and karachi will be the next target. Kurdish and chechens will blow up things in Iraq then more to eastern part of central asia, ultimately afghanistan then south east asia then back to middle east. This not to mention area like Egypt, Lebanon, Palestine, Kashmir, etc.
    All those operations in the past 30 years, specially US backed (direct or by proxy) have now created its own self sustaining global ecosystem. Finance, training base, manuals, weapon manufacturing and supply, information network, coordinated propaganda work, etc… etc.
    Obviously supporting insurgency is trivial. The question how to turn insurgency off 30 years down the road after it mutate and grows out of control in unstable area. The backlash.
    Good luck figuring out what Iraq instability will result 20 years down the road (Syria, Israel, Iran, Russia, Lebanon, Palestine, Egypt)
    Current trend of creating giant narco-religious-military state in afghanistan-Pakistan?
    It will make golden triangle (UK-US backed insurgency from WWII) and columbia (cocaine cartel/Latin america project gone wrong) like peaceful park comparatively.
    Al qaeda is the shadow of what is wrong with the world. It’s like cleaning mafia in sicily. Blowing up something in a vilage won’t do a thing. It’s the entire culture that generate and sustain the mafia.
    Same with Al qaeda. As af-pak experience already show. One cannot backed what Pakistan is doing with islamic politics/militancy and wonder why afghanistan can’t be fixed. One cannot play stupid with $6B opium trade backed by afghan rulers and wonder why there is unlimited fresh weapons, manpower and multiplying estremist religious school.
    Ultimately, one has to deal with Saudi religious/financial policy, Palestine/Israel, Iraq/Kurdish… US shortsighted intervention policy.
    The effect now is shorter and shorter and becoming more immediate. The backlash/blowback is not 20-30 years down the road anymore, but 5-6 years. Sometimes only months.
    Like I say, open world map and mark it. It’s total wtf moment. Unless the accelerating trend is reversed, this won’t end nicely.

  14. Patrick Lang says:

    To keep me happy, it will be necessary for you to come to grips with such things as the “rhetorical question,” a device of the English language. pl

  15. Bill Wade, NH says:

    Bagram Air Base is boomtown!,0,6643764.story
    Congressman Ron Paul gets better looking everyday.

  16. Green Zone Cafe says:

    If we are going to do COIN anywhere, it ought to be Mexico.
    Why not the USA? Or as Howard puts it . . opportunities for early Foreign Internal Defense doctrine to build the Host Nation capabilities before a major insurgency develops?
    I’ve often been struck by the paradox of politicians who endorse any kind of welfare, social grant, stimulus program as long as it’s foreign and under the rubric of COIN. “Money as a weapon” as Gen. P says.
    Paul Brinkley’s Task Force Business Stability Operations doling out billions to bloated Iraqi State-owned enterprises – OK. Bridge loans to major American industrial corporations like GM – not OK. If you have an insurgency in Michigan, would things change?
    The dilemma is that both the cost of war and potential failure in Afghanistan and Iraq bode ill for the future internal stability of the USA.
    We are going to find out if God has any special Providence for us. Pray and hold on tight.

  17. Balint Somkuti says:

    as usually you are right. If only we can get rid of hypocrisy.

  18. N. M. Salamon says:

    Two interesting articles in Asia times online [nov 2 2009], one on Pakistan, one on Afganistan.

  19. WILL says:

    On James Knox Polk’s birthday, Nov. 2nd, it would be appropriate to be be talking about COIN in old Mexico.
    No. 11 declined to try to annex Mexico, though urged to do so. Thru the years there has been a great tendency to expand the United States North and South. First the founding fathers sent Montgomery and Arnold to conquer Canada. Later, Charles Sumner argued to the British that Canada should be turned over as reparations for British backing of the rebellion. But, Sumner fell out with President Grant b/c he opposed his proposed annexation of Hispanolia.
    Jefferson Davis’s Peace Plan was to join forces and invade Mexico.
    I like the idea of COIN in Mexico for several reasons. It makes more sense than the investment of blood & treasure in Irak and Afghanistan. I also like the Col’s idea of a North American Federation.

  20. VietnamVet says:

    Fed Official: “[T]he condition of the banking system is far from robust. Two years into a substantial economic downturn, loan quality is poor across many asset classes and, as noted earlier, continues to deteriorate as weakness in housing markets affects the performance of residential mortgages and construction loans.”
    The only portions of the economy still performing are government sponsored cartels; the military industrial complex, pharmaceuticals, and telecommunications. Boeing which has lost billions on the last two airliners due problems outsourcing production (both are yet to fly), is spending billions more to open a second 787 line in South Carolina for no purpose other than Union busting.
    It will be easier to get the bodies to send to Yemen and Somalia than to find the money to pay for ordnance to kill pirates and rag heads. The US Middle Class is being stripped clean. The only thing keeping the American economy spinning is money borrowed overseas. This will end one day and the USA will be a much poorer place.
    If they can scrape together the cash, Veterans will have more god forsaken places to visit to remember their youth and lost friends. Then, they will finally realize that their wars ended a long time ago.

  21. JohnH says:

    The Mexican army is perfectly capable of conducting COIN in Mexico. Carlos Montemayor described a huge operation in the 1970s in the state of Guerrero entitled “Guerra en el Paraiso” (War in Paradise).
    At the end of the successful campaign, the generals sat around toasting their success at the presidential compound, Chapultepec. One asked the just the type of question the colonel appreciates, a rhetorical question: “If the Mexican army suppresses uprisings that have widespread popular support, can it be considered the protector of the people?” No one attempted an answer.

  22. Clifford Kiracofe says:

    When I mentioned Mexico it was in the context of border security and our internal security situation. And also the disintegration of the Mexican state. Particular reference to organized criminal gangs in Mexico and Central America which have penetrated the United States in a major way….
    For background, Prof. Max Manwaring at the US Army War College Strategic Studies Center has been working on this for a while. See an earlier monograph 2005 full online text at:
    ” The primary thrust of this monograph is to explain the linkage of contemporary criminal street gangs (that is, the gang phenomenon or third generation gangs) to insurgency in terms of the instability it wreaks upon government and the concomitant challenge to state sovereignty. Although there are differences between gangs and insurgents regarding motives and modes of operations, this linkage infers that gang phenomena are mutated forms of urban insurgency….”
    And a recent monograph 2009 with full online text:
    “This monograph is intended to help political, military, policy, opinion, and academic leaders think strategically about explanations, consequences, and responses that might apply to the volatile and dangerous new dynamic that has inserted itself into the already crowded Mexican and hemispheric security arena, that is, the privatized Zeta military organization. In Mexico, this new dynamic involves the migration of traditional hard-power national security and sovereignty threats from traditional state and nonstate adversaries to hard and soft power threats from professional private nonstate military organizations. This dynamic also involves a more powerful and ambiguous mix of terrorism, crime, and conventional war tactics, operations, and strategies than experienced in the past. Moreover, this violence and its perpetrators tend to create and consolidate semi-autonomous enclaves (criminal free-states) that develop in to quasi-states—and what the Mexican government calls “Zones of Impunity.” All together, these dynamics not only challenge Mexican security, stability, and sovereignty, but, if left improperly understood and improperly countered, also challenge the security and stability of the United States and Mexico’s other neighbors.”
    For those not familiar with the deadly Zeta criminal gang, they were trained by the US and then turned on us…more blowback…
    Not being able to secure our own southern border and take appropriate steps for our own internal security, we instead run around the Hindu Kush led by the “Liberal Imperialist” Obama Administration playing global social engineer.
    This is not to mention the faux diplomacy and various lies associated with our Middle East “peace” diplomacy which amounts to a blank check for Bibi. Joining Israel to squelch to Goldstone Report at the UN sent a clear message to the region and to other major powers…perhaps a final message about the Obama Administration for many in the region.

  23. ked says:

    Dear WaPo; We have met the lawless places & he is us. (& thanks to Pogo)

  24. Cold War Zoomie says:

    Back to basics. Do those folks in the pic really look like a threat to our Constitution? I don’t think so.
    And that’s what our armed forces have taken an oath to defend.
    We already have spooks taking care of business in Somalia. Let them do what they are doing and don’t bring in conventional forces .

  25. Cieran says:

    As a professional problem-solver, I always make it a point to remember that successful problem solving requires two independent steps:
    (1) solving the problem right, and
    (2) solving the right problem.
    The first step is generally the easy part — you reach into your toolbox and pull out the right tool, e.g., COIN.
    The hard part of problem-solving is taking the time to think through the problem at hand, so that all your problem solving efforts are going towards the real problem, i.e., fixing what the problem is, not what you wish it would be.
    Advocates of COIN in Central Asia are busy trying to solve a problem they’ve decided is important, e.g., insuring long-term political stability in Afghanistan. But that’s not the real problem here: the problem we face is not one of nation-building on the other side of the world — it’s nation-protecting on this side of the globe.
    Hence their efforts are inherently misguided.

  26. Fred says:

    Do the ‘editors’ actually read what they write.
    “What’s needed is a complementary and concerted effort to bolster the Somali government and its army, so that it is able to turn back al-Shabab and extend its authority across the country.”
    Only two paragraphs later: “The country has lacked a national government for 20 years,…”
    If the neo-cons insist we provide Somalia a government we should insist it be led by Bush and Cheney, the neo-cons loved them and they are available.
    “The indelible lesson of Sept. 11, 2001, is that they must be countered aggressively.”
    No, the indelible less of the Sept. 11, 2001 is that neo-cons can not be trusted to defend the US. The indelible lessons from Iraq and Afghanistan are that they can’t be trusted with either the truth before starting an unnecessary war nor win the one that was.

  27. Do I understand correctly the Obama has given a ringing endorsement to Karzai a la JFK’s ringing endorsement of Diem?

  28. Sidney O. Smith III says:

    At least from my perspective, Petraeus’ COIN manual looks cutting edge — if it were 1966 and USM officers in DaNang were reading it. Brings up the old adage about fighting present conflicts based upon tactics from the last great war.
    COIN in this day and age comes across as a code word for US “occupation”, particularly of nations with a majority Muslim population.
    Of course, neoconservatives relish the idea of a US “occupation” of the Middle East and Islamic world. Likud Zionism after all, depends upon an anachronistic model of Western imperialism.
    If the goal is taking out Takfiri jihadists, then I do believe you can take one precept from Bernard Fall from St. w/o Joy and place it in a global setting: to win, the US military and the people must emerge on the same side of the fight. Such does not occur when the US militarily occupies other cultures while the USG sanctions ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. Won’t happen. Ergo, COIN = occupation = clash of civilization.
    And if the goal really and truly is taking out takfiri jihadists, then a troubling question arises: don’t the Iranians want to take out such jihadists as well?
    Bill Wade of NH — you make some great points re: Ron Paul. I can’t go as far as some of the Lew Rockwell crowd but Paul and his views, in this day and age, may lay the best path to restoring a balance of power to a government insanely imbalanced and bloated too. He certainly deserves respect.

  29. David Habakkuk says:


    Your point about the need to identify the right problem is key.

    It seems to me it is also important to distinguish between two kinds of problem, which in this context means two kinds of danger. Some kinds of danger are clearly susceptible of definitive elimination. Others are resistant to definitive elimination, so that the sensible focus is on trying to limit the extent of the danger.

    Both actual experience with Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan, and the way that the retreat and collapse of Soviet power have been interpreted, condition Americans — and perhaps in particular American political elites — to believe that the dangers they face are indeed susceptible of definitive elimination.

    In fact, however, the danger posed by ‘lawless places’ providing sanctuary for the takfiri jihadists is a classic case of one where one does not have good grounds to be confident that such elimination is possible. Effective policies to limit the extent of the danger — such as have been extensively discussed on this blog — have to be based upon an acceptance of that fact.

    It is a basic axiom of strategy that it is better to have a less ambitious goal that you have realistic prospects of achieving, than a more ambitious that is likely to be unattainable.

    It seems to me highly likely that President Obama is well aware of these facts. However, the problem he faces is that against the background of what so many in the United States are used to accepting, any realistic assessment of the nature of the problem leaves him open to accusations of cutting and running, etc etc. And these would rise in a monstrous crescendo, if there were to be another serious terrorist attack.

    An irony about comments such as those in the Washington Post editorial, however, is that they seem to ignore what is actually a central strategic threat posed to the United States by the jihadists. Their own sectarianism and cruelty have, thankfully, militated powerfully against them, in their efforts to mobilise the grievances of the Islamic world against the West in their support.

    Where they have however been remarkably successful is in Osama bin Laden’s declared goal of inveigling the United States into economically disastrous wars. Seen from this perspective, much of the mainstream media — and also of the top leadership of the U.S. Army — would seem to be bin Laden’s ‘useful idiots’. And this, I think, is something that should be pointed out them.

  30. Walter says:

    Why were we attacked on 9/11? For meddling in the affairs of others. The US is the bully getting punched in the nose.
    We used to be the good guys, now we are just the arrogant bully everyone wants to take a pot shot at.

  31. ISL says:

    Dear Colonel,
    Personally, I think the US could benefit from the first 2 of COIN:
    “COIN = political reform + economic development + counterguerilla operations.”
    and considering: “The inevitable end of that development will be national bankruptcy and political unrest that will make the 60s and 70s look trivial by comparison.”
    I add the rhetorical comment:
    Suggests the third might come to home.
    (To my knowledge, there has been no rescission of the executive order that a US citizen can be designated an enemy combatant and stripped of constitutional rights, even if the courts disagree.)

  32. JohnH says:

    It’s worse than what Cieran says. There is no agreement on what the problem is. And until recently there was little interest in discussing the problem. In fact, most of the debate has focused on implementing the right MILITARY solution.
    I call this the “ready-fire-aim” syndrome. The only thing in question is the choice of weapon to fire.

  33. par4 says:

    Ending the prohibition on drugs would cut off the money to the criminal/revolutionary gangs/cadres. If that doesn’t work we can always make them illegal again. Only a small % of the population gets hooked on the hard stuff anyway.

  34. kao_hsien_chih says:

    What worries me constantly is that some of these COIN types might love to try out their wares in the United States itself. If we do fall into bankruptcy and chaos as the result of their reckless ventures abroad, it might just give them their chance.

  35. frank durkee says:

    David H. has named one of the uninvited guests to the discussion. Given the cost of the “War On terror” domestically and in our foreign adventures OSB’s cost benefit ratio has got to be astronomical. This is just the money. The effect on the republic has been greater.

  36. John Waring says:

    Why don’t we defend the United States by defending the United Sates?
    Putting an army in Afghanistan has nothing to do with defending the United States.

  37. Balint Somkuti says:

    Mr. Waring
    It is called isolationism and is something the USA cannot afford in the foreseeable future.

  38. Cieran says:

    It is called isolationism and is something the USA cannot afford in the foreseeable future.
    Isolationism is the abstention from political and economic ties to other countries. What Mr. Waring is suggesting is (or seems to me, at least) that our military ties are not providing national defense, and should be reconsidered.
    Having an ill-considered empire and being isolationist are not opposites. There’s plenty of room in between those two extremes, and many countries find prosperity and peace in that middle ground.
    As far as the word “afford”, well we can’t afford our empire in the first place.

  39. SAC Brat says:

    My lesson from the September 11 attacks was that the US would be safer with a fully funded FBI and INS that could keep track of who was entering the country and expired visa holders. However, a fully funded FBI and INS would also be able to investigate Congressional activities, counterintelligence cases and work on other illegal alien issues so there may have been interested parties in strangling these dogs before they could hunt by limiting their budgets.
    I am encouraged that some others on this sight consider war profiteers to be a low form of human existence. Maybe the sunshine will spread.

  40. Binh says:

    And the Chinese are going to finance these actions because the cost of these military and financial commitments will grow much faster than the political will to end them.

  41. Charles I says:

    “And the Chinese are going to finance these actions because the cost of these military and financial commitments will grow much faster than the political will to end them.”
    Too true. Why fight your Main Enemy if you can loan it the money to bloody itself silly? While you extend natural resource investment and access in backwater or ideologically ignored treasure troves like Africa and Iran, just two of the places the Chinese are spending billions on things that don’t explode, and then explode your treasury to boot.

  42. PL! Question and you don’t have to answer on the record or at all but would be of interest. In the World or parts of the World that are Islamic which specific nation-states are the ones that you have most experience of and which do you worry the most about in futuro? Is there some shifting in the historic contest and rivalry of Islam and Christianity now? Is there a chance for secularism to win out over religion anywhere in the Islamic World? No rush on any of these but am curious and would happily work through any reading list on the Islamic or Arabic World you would wish to share with the list or me? I admit almost total ignorance of the Islamic World prior to 9/11, and perhaps even now! In my time in the American military 1968-1971 I knew of no worshippers of Islam. I have also had no Islamic friends. Since there are 1.57 billion current worshippers of Islam in some form and estimates are that they could be 1/3 of the population of the world by 2050 curious as to your take on this potential development? As you know “a fool may ask more questions than a wise man may answer”! Not sure but believe this saying came out of the Islamic World. Perhaps someone reading this blog knows.

  43. Patrick Lang says:

    I don’t “worry” about any of these countries. The whole Islamic Menace thing is just a crock.
    Worry about Pakistan’s nuclear force. Worry about China. Worry about the financial collapse of the West, brought on by our own foolishness. Forget about the “Fu Manchu” stuff.
    If you want to read about the Islamicate civilization, get yourself a copy of “The Venture of Islam” by Marshall Hodgson. That wil keep you busy for a while. pl

  44. Sidney O. Smith III says:

    Although Israel’s relationship with Iran has certainly changed since the publication of Dr. Helms’ McNair 10 paper, she makes an astute observation that, imo, helps explain why neoconservatives have usurped COIN to promote the goals of Likud Zionism and, thereby, disregard completely the security interests of the US. Here is the quote:
    “During the 1950’s…Israel’s leader, David Ben Gurion, elucidated the strategy that Israel’s natural allies were none other than minority groups. If turned against each other, these groups could stimulate instability in the Arab world, effectively dividing Israel’s enemies.” (page 21).
    David Ben Gurion was not part of the political tradition that gave rise to Likud Zionism but the point is this: historically, Israel’s security strategy was to surround Israel with instability and chaos. And as decades passed, the buffer zone has grown larger, simply because technological advances provide a greater (missile and rocket) threat to Israel. So throughout the history of Israel, “stimulating instability” has remained a consistent strategy and constitute the operative words.
    Since the end of the Cold War, neoconservatives have succeeded, for the most part, in making sure the USM now occupies roughly the same area that, in times past, would have been the focus of Israeli operations to “stimulate instability”. Furthermore, they have succeeded in further extending this instability zone outward from Israel, as it now has grown to include much of the Islamic world.
    Neoconservatives articulated this desire in the Clean Break Paper, although they masked their intent with the idea of promoting democracy (via the bayonet). And now, the neoconservatives, with “progressive” neolibs in tow, have latched onto COIN to achieve the same goal.
    So surrounding Israel with US COIN operations creates a global buffer zone for Israel, almost like concentric circles, with Israel — actually the Temple Mount and Dimona –as the innermost circle.
    US sponsored COIN operations therefore serve Israel’s security needs first and foremost Looked at differently, are the neoconservatives promoting COIN in any nations that are not considered Israel’s enemies? Alternatively, are the neocons promoting US COIN operations in nations that pose no security threat to the US?
    And if Likud Zionists initiate military actions, as they are wont to do, that, in turn, enflame those throughout the Arab and Islam world -then the blowback is directed against the US military occupying Islamic lands. Consquently, the USM finds itself in the position of ostensibly carrying out COIN operations but, in reality, carrying the burden of ensuring the actions of Likud Zionists do not affect Israel.
    More than that, by “stimulating instability”, Israel draws the US into greater and greater conflict with the Islamic world. And, if a clash of civilizations ensues — a goal of the Podhoretz school — the US is now shielding Israel in the Middle East.
    In other words, since the USM is occupying the lands of Israel’s enemies, it is in position where, to survive, the US must annihilate the Islamic world. Exhibit A: the Cheney-Wurmser option from 07, vacated by the 07 NIE, albeit for how long is anyone’s guess. If Israel ignores the findings of the NIE and launches a limited attack against Iran, then the Iranian response will be directed against the USM carrying out COIN operations. The third step is a massive attack by the USM against Iran.
    So Neoconservatives have usurped COIN to force the USM to protect Israel while Likud Zionists continue to seek their goals — the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians and the creation of a greater Israel, including ultimately exclusive possession and control of the Temple Mount.
    When seen from this light, the purpose of this corrupted COIN strategy is not to take out Takfiri jihadists — a strategy that would serve US national security interests. No. If anything COIN will increase the number of Takfiri jihadists and thus acts against US national security interests. In fact, implementig COIN throughout the Islamic world increases the risk of terrorists acts against the people of the US.
    So, at least from what I can tell from my civilian position, COIN — perhaps neo-COIN — has been disconnected from its historical US origin, particularly the idea that COIN would help liberate the oppressed. The Latin phrase De Oppresso Liber and COIN were once closely intertwined, no?
    Or looked at differently. When was the last time a Likud Zionist — Christian or Jewish — ever agreed with something written in Latin? COIN is serving a vastly different function today than that reflected in the Latin phrase De Oppresso Liber. COIN is now serving the very antithesis of E Pluribus Unum — the goals of Likud Zionism and Jabotinsky’s Iron Wall.

  45. Binh says:

    Good piece on why winning in Afghanistan won’t matter and why escalation there is a fool’s errand:

  46. econobiker says:

    Looks like Yemen might have jumped ahead of Somalia due to the recent attempted plane downing by a Nigerian.

  47. S.NAJFI says:

    H E Aqa Khan failed in Afghanistan, & Iraq Politics bedly.He may be succeed in Africa, Pakistan, & Central Aisa.The Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yeman, & other same counteri’s are a” BIG GRAVE YARD ” for American Army, NATO, UK, ISRAELI’S, & other agents. The” DOLLER” Game is FINNSHED with Bush dirty game, the Economic World Cersis is also gift from Bush to American, The Obama is doing nothings, the tape of Osama is also going to its end.MI5, MI6, CIA, FBI, MOSSAD, JEWS, ISREALI GOVT,WORLD ZIONIST,RAW, AL-QAEDA, TALIBAN, ( Anarchist) PENTAGONE, BLACK HOUSE, ( White House ), BLACK WATER,BLACK MONEY, ( WORLD ZIONIST) BLACK MAN ( Obama ), BLACK MIND ( Osama ) are Totally failed, in GREAT AFGHANISTAN, PAKISTAN, YEMEN, HAITI & IRAQ.They must stop the war. GOD blees us. THANKS.

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