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Author Topic: Afpakia: Afghanistan-Pakistan  (Read 186351 times)
ya
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« Reply #1000 on: June 12, 2011, 08:53:41 PM »

Comments by sanman in the Economist...explaining the history of the region.

In 1839, the British Empire sought to expand the borders of its colony of British India, by launching a war of conquest against the neighboring Pashtuns. The Pashtuns, as a fiercely independent tribal warrior people, resisted ferociously, so that the British conquest of them was not successful. The British were only able to conquer part of the Pashtun territory, and even that remained in constant rebellion against them. Meanwhile, the remaining unconquered portion of Pashtun territory became the nucleus for the formation of Afghanistan. In 1893, the British imposed a ceasefire line on the Afghans called the Durand Line, which separated British-controlled territory from Afghan territory. The local people on the ground however never recognized this line, which merely existed on a map, and not on the ground.

In 1947, when the colony of British India achieved independence and was simultaneously partitioned into Pakistan and India, the Pakistanis wanted the conquered Pashtun territory to go to them, since the Pashtuns were Muslims. Given that the Pashtuns never recognized British authority over them to begin with, the Pakistanis had tenuous relations with the Pashtuns and were consumed by fears of Pashtun secession.

When Pakistan applied to join the UN in 1947, there was only one country which voted against it. No, it wasn't India - it was Pashtun-ruled Afghanistan which voted against Pakistan's admission, on the grounds that Pakistan was in illegal occupation of Pashtun lands stolen by the British. Their vote was cast on September 30, 1947 and is a fact.

In 1948, in the nearby state of Kashmir, its Hindu princely ruler and Muslim political leader joined hands in deciding to make Kashmir an independent country rather than joining either Pakistan or India. Pakistan's leadership were immediately terrified of this precedent, fearing that the Pashtuns would soon follow suit and also declare their own ethnically independent state. In order to pre-empt that and prevent it from happening, Pakistan's founder and leader Mohammad Ali Jinnah quickly decided to raise the cry of "Hindu treachery against the Muslims" and despatched hordes of armed Pashtun tribesmen to attack Kashmir. This was his way of distracting the Pashtuns from their own ethnic nationalism by diverting them into war against Kashmir "to save Islam". These are the same Pashtun tribesman whose descendants are today's Taliban. Fleeing the unprovoked invasion of their homeland, Kashmir's Hindu prince and Muslim political leader went to India, pledging to merge with it if India would help repel the invasion. India agreed, and sent its army to repel the Pashtun invasion. Pakistan then sent its army to clash with Indian forces, and the result was Indo-Pakistani conflict, which has lasted for decades.

Pakistan's fear of Pashtun nationalism and separatism, which it fears can break up Pakistan, is thus the root of the Indo-Pakistani conflict over Kashmir and also the root of Pak conflict with Afghanistan, not any alleged Indian takeover of Kabul. This is all due to the legacy of 1839, which happened long before Pakistan was even created.

When a communist revolution happened in Kabul in the late 70s, Pakistan's fear of potential spillover effects on Pashtun nationalism caused Pakistan to embark on fomenting a guerrilla war against Kabul that led to Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Aligned with with the USA, Pakistan then proceeded to arm the Pashtuns while indoctrinating them with Islamic fanaticism. The USA was not allowed any ground role, and was told it could only supply arms and funds to Pakistan, which would take care of the rest. Pakistan then simultaneously embarked on destabilization of India by fomenting insurgency there.

After the Soviets withdrew, Pakistan again feared that the well-armed Pashtuns would turn on it and pursue secession. So Pakistan then created the Taliban as a new umbrella movement for the fractious factional guerrilla groups under an ultra-fundamentalist ideology. Bin Laden's AlQaeda then became cosy with Taliban, and the result was 9-11.

When the 9-11 attacks occurred, the cornered Pakistanis then did a 180 and promised to help the US defeat the Taliban and bring the terrorists to justice. Meanwhile they were racking their brains hoping to come up with a way to undermine the War on Terror from within. Now that they have succeeded in doing that, and in bleeding US/NATO forces, they hope to jump horses by kicking the US out and aligning with China.

Because of Pakistan's attempts to illegitimately hang onto Pashtun land, it has brought itself into conflicts with so many countries - first against its neighbors and then against more distant larger powers. This is the reason why Pakistan is an irredentist state and can never be an ally against Islamic extremism, because Pakistan depends on this very Islamism as a national glue to hold itself together, and keep nationalistic ethnic groups like the Pashtuns from breaking Pakistan apart.

At the same time, Pakistanis don't dare own upto the Pashtun national question at any level, nor its effect on their national policies, because any attempt to do so would open up the legitimacy of their claim to Pashtun land.

Sovereignty is a 2-way street, entailing not just rights but obligations. Pakistan only wishes to assert rights owing to it from sovereignty, and wishes to completely duck the issue of any sovereign obligations to apprehend terrorists on what it claims as its own territory. This is because the fundamental reality is that the Pashtun territory is not really theirs, is not really under their control, and the Pashtuns don't really recognize Pakistani central authority over them.

Pakistan uses Islamic fundamentalism to submerge traditional Pashtun ethnic identity in a desperate attempt to suppress Pashtun ethnic nationalism, and to stave off the disintegration of Pakistan. The Pashtuns are a numerically large enough ethnic group possessing the strength of arms to be able to secede from Pakistan at any moment, should they decide upon it.

The answer is to let the separatists have their way and achieve their independent ethnic states, breaking up Pakistan. It's better to allow Pakistan to naturally break up into 3 or 4 benign ethnic states, than for it to keep promoting Islamic fundamentalist extremism in a doomed attempt to hold itself together. Pakistan is a failing state, and it's better to let it fail and fall apart. This will help to end all conflict in the region and the trans-national terrorist problem. An independent ethnic Pashtun state will be dominated by Pashtun ethnic identity instead of fundamentalist Islam, and thus AlQaeda will no longer be able to find sanctuary there. Conventional ethnic identity is far more natural and benign than trans-nationalist Islamism with its inherent collectivist political bent. Supporting the re-emergence of 4 natural ethnic states - Pashtunistan, Balochistan, Sindh and Punjab - would be far better than continuing to support a dangerous and dysfunctional failed state like Pakistan which continues to spew toxic Islamist extremist ideology in a doomed attempt to hold itself together.

Following the failure of the Vietnam War, many Americans later recognized that war was really a war of ethnic reunification by the Vietnamese people. It wasn't a case of one foreign country attempting to conquer another foreign country - indeed, the north and south Vietnamese were not strangers or aliens to one another - they were 2 halves of a common whole. The question was whether they would reunify under communist socialism or under free democracy, but because a blinkered American leadership refused to recognize the Vietnamese grassroots affinity for one another and their desire to reunify, it pretty much ensured that Vietnamese reunification would take place under communist socialism.

Likewise, the Pashtun people live on both sides of an artificial Durand Line (Afghan-Pak "border") which they themselves have never accepted or recognized. It's a question of whether they will politically reunify under close-minded theocratic Islamism or under a more secular and tolerant society. Because today's blinkered American leadership is again blindly defending another artificial line on a map, and refusing to recognize the oneness of the people living on both sides of that artificial line, America is again shutting itself out of the reunification process, guaranteeing that Pashtun reunification will occur under fanatical fundamentalist Islamism as prescribed by Pakistan (much as Hanoi's Soviet backers prescribed reunification under communist socialism.) It's only later on, much after America's defeat, that some Americans will realize too late that they should have seen that the Pashtuns on both sides of the artificial line were actually one people. Pakistan knows it all too well, because they've been living with the guilt and fear of it ever since Pakistan's creation - but that's why they're hell-bent on herding the Pashtuns down the path of Islamist fanaticism, using Islamist glue to keep the Pashtuns as a whole hugged to Pakistan's bosom.

If only the preachers at the Economist could shed their blinkers and really understand what's going on, then they might have a chance to shape events more effectively, and to their favor. Pakistan is rapidly building up its nuclear arsenal, as it moves to surpass Britain to become the world's 5th-largest nuclear state.The Pakistanis are racing to build up as much hard-power as possible to back up the soft-power they feel Islamist hate-ideology gives them.

The world needs to compel the Pakistanis to let the Pashtuns go, and allow them to have their own independent national existence, along with the Baluchis and Sindhis. Humoring Pakistan and allowing it to continue using Islamist hatred to rally the people towards unity to counter slow disintegration is not the way to achieve stability in the region, or security for the world.
« Last Edit: June 12, 2011, 09:12:04 PM by ya » Logged
ya
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« Reply #1001 on: June 12, 2011, 09:29:20 PM »

Note the last few lines as a solution to Pak...everyone seems to think break up of pak is a good thing.. grin

http://www.newsinsight.net/archivedebates/nat2.asp?recno=2148

Managing Afghanistan
Backing Northern Alliance II is the only viable option for India when US troops withdraw, says N.V.Subramanian.

27 May 2011: Through back channels, the US is telling India that it is leaving Afghanistan. After the discovery of Osama Bin Laden in Abbottabad, the United States no longer trusts Pakistan to "hand over" Afghanistan to it and its Taliban allies. America wants regional ownership of Afghanistan, meaning that India, Iran, Russia, the Central Asian republics, China and Pakistan must sit together to decide the best course for bringing peace and stability to the benighted country. The US has promised to remain involved. And it will not let its anti-Iran biases obstruct a regional peace solution for Afghanistan.
So what should India do?
Retired senior US CIA and military officials are keen to let India know that America is absolutely serious about withdrawing from Afghanistan. The withdrawal will by no means be sudden. But since president Barack Obama has decided to stand for re-election, the White House wants some troops' withdrawal. One estimate of that is sixty thousand troops and another thirty thousand. There is also the compulsion to cut defence spending, and so it is imperative to keep a manageable size of troops in Afghanistan.
Even if a majority of US troops are withdrawn, a small number will be kept in non-Pashtun territories in the west but more likely in the north, roughly in the region of the former Northern Alliance. The trust with Pakistan is broken. The US national security establishment has evidence that Pakistan's ISI facilitated the Pakistani Taliban attack on a CIA base in eastern Afghanistan in December 2009 that killed eight American agents. The US is also convinced of an ISI hand in 26/11. Indeed, Pakistan hoped the US government would prevent the presentation of documentary evidence of the ISI role in 26/11 in the Tahawwur Rao trial in Chicago.
And previous to the Abbottabad raid that killed Bin Laden, strains in Pak-US relations came on the Raymond Davis affair. Davis who was a contract CIA operative in Pakistan killed two threatening ISI gunmen. While blood money was paid to return him to the US, the Obama administration made two other pledges to Pakistan for Davis' release. One was that about four dozen CIA undercover officers deployed in FATA and elsewhere against the Al-Qaeda and Taliban would be removed. The second was that the US would hand over the drone campaign to the Pakistanis.
Once Raymond Davis was back in the US, America signaled that the two deals were off. The CIA agents would not be pulled out. And the US would continue to manage drone warfare. Drone attacks significantly increased after Davis' return. And CIA undercover agents scored a big hit in tracing Osama Bin Laden to a secure compound in Abbottabad. When the ISI chief, Lieutenant General Ahmed Shuja Pasha, came to the US to press for the honouring of the Davis deal, he got a tongue-lashing from the CIA director, Leon Panetta, and left the meeting in a huff.
The point the US wants to convey is that it no longer trusts Pakistan on Afghanistan. While it is leaving, it wants India, Russia, Iran, China and Pakistan to confabulate to return peace and stability to Afghanistan.
What should India do?
While the US position on Iran that it will not discourage its participation for an Afghan solution is welcome, trouble comes from China and Pakistan, and possibly, more from Pakistan than China. Following the Pakistan prime minister, Yousaf Reza Geelani's visit to China, it appears that China does not want to step into US shoes as a military aider of Pakistan. Nor it would seem is China keen to insert itself into Afghanistan in the present mess. Above all, it wants no damage in relations with the US.
But even assuming China and Pakistan come together on Afghanistan, they will not accept an India role in deciding that country's future. While Russia would have no obvious issues with Pakistan and China on Afghanistan, Iran would be deterred from their camp by the Shia-Sunni angle. But in the natural course, Russia and Iran would prefer India because of their past common Northern Alliance dealings. And if Pakistan ascertains it will have a major role in Afghanistan if a regional solution involving India fails, it will work towards its destruction.
What's the solution for Afghanistan in which India can play a role? There is no "solution" in sight and it is going to be messy. India's best bet is to remain engaged with Afghanistan's peaceful development till conditions worsen. Then, cutting its losses, India has to return to the pre-9/11 position of backing a previously created Northern Alliance II.
This is familiar territory for our readers. In time, Pakistan will face the blowback of encouraging terrorism in Afghanistan (and India), and it would sink the Pakistan state. The only worry is Pakistani nukes. Opinion is already building worldwide for denuclearizing Pakistan. Once Pakistan disintegrates by itself, its state policy of terrorism will crumble, and consequently the region will gradually stabilize, including Afghanistan.
N.V.Subramanian is Editor, www.NewsInsight.net, and writes internationally on strategic affairs. He has authored two novels, University of Love (Writers Workshop, Calcutta) and Courtesan of Storms (Har-Anand, Delhi). Email: envysub@gmail.com.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #1002 on: June 14, 2011, 11:17:29 PM »

Breaking News Alert
The New York Times
Tuesday, June 14, 2011 -- 10:32 PM EDT
-----

Pakistan Arrests C.I.A. Informants Who Aided Bin Laden Raid

Pakistan’s top military spy agency has arrested some of the Pakistani informants who fed information to the Central Intelligence Agency in the months leading up to the raid that led to the death of Osama bin Laden, according to American officials.

Pakistan’s detention of five C.I.A. informants, including a Pakistani Army major who officials said copied the license plates of cars visiting Bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, in the weeks before the raid, is the latest evidence of the fractured relationship between the United States and Pakistan. It comes at a time when the Obama administration is seeking Pakistan’s support in brokering an endgame in the war in neighboring Afghanistan.

The fate of the C.I.A. informants arrested in Pakistan is unclear, but American officials said that the C.I.A. director, Leon E. Panetta, raised the issue when he travelled to Islamabad last week to meet with Pakistani military and intelligence officers. 


Read More:
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/15/world/asia/15policy.html?emc=na
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #1003 on: June 15, 2011, 09:37:08 PM »

Breaking News Alert
The New York Times
Wednesday, June 15, 2011 -- 10:15 PM EDT
-----

Pakistan’s Chief Of Army Is Fighting to Keep His Job in Wake of Bin Laden Raid

Pakistan’s army chief, the most powerful man in the country, is fighting to save his position in the face of seething anger from top generals and junior officers since the American raid that killed Osama bin Laden, according to Pakistani officials and people who have met the chief in recent weeks.

Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, who has led the army since 2007, faces such intense discontent over what is seen as his cozy relationship with the United States that a colonels’ coup, while unlikely, was not out of the question, said a well-informed Pakistani who has seen the general in recent weeks, as well as an American military official involved with Pakistan for many years.

The Pakistani Army is essentially run by consensus among 11 top commanders, known as the Corps Commanders, and almost all of them, if not all, were demanding that General Kayani get much tougher with the Americans, even edging toward a break, Pakistanis who follow the army closely said.

Read More:
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/16/world/asia/16pakistan.html?emc=na
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ya
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« Reply #1004 on: June 16, 2011, 08:17:37 PM »

Pakistan Arrests C.I.A. Informants Who Aided Bin Laden Raid

From Kiyani's point of view...these guys killed the golden goose...cost Kiyani and friends a couple of billion $$.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #1005 on: June 17, 2011, 11:43:52 AM »

From a friend unusually seasoned in the ways of the world:

I had dinner with a friend last night, who is in town taking pre-deployment training to Pakistan.  Either yesterday or the day before, the class had a guy from Pakistan speak to the class about culture over there.  My friend talked about two things the Pakistani gentleman (PG) spoke about that I thought pariculary interesting.

First, the concept that there must always be a winner and a loser, and it essentially must be then and there.  The example the PG gave was a car accident.  He said that in America two people can get in a cars accident, pull over, exchange info, and move on knowing the matter will get sorted out.  Not so in Pakistan.  There must be a guilty party who admits guilt/responsibility right then and there.  In other words, there must be a winner and a loser.

Secondly, the concept of an honor culture.  Not a real surpise to many of us, but perhaps the extreme to which it is critical is the point the speaker tried to make.  A Pakistani simply must maintain his honor, and never be seen to lose face, no matter the consequences.  If they lose their honor, they "can't go back home."  This results in actions that we would find hard to fathom why somebody would engage in because the consequences will be certain and severe.  But no matter.  If the alternative is losing honor/face, then the dire consequences route is the preferred option. It may not be logical, but that will not matter.  Again, the point the speaker was making was just how extremely critical honor is to Pakistanis.
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ya
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« Reply #1006 on: June 17, 2011, 09:06:20 PM »

I have been harping on the paki need for maintaining H&D (honor and dignity) for a while now. Unfortunately, H&D has been taking a beating as of late.. grin, what with the OBL raid, PNS Mehran attack etc..
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« Reply #1007 on: June 19, 2011, 06:28:22 PM »

For those of us who do not know him or may have forgotten, Michael Yon is an ex-SF soldier who became a reader supported journalist in Iraq.  During the worst of the war there due to the respect his SF background afforded him, he went on missions with our troops including into firefights.  He was by far and away the first forceful voice that the Surge was working when candidates Baraq and Shrillery "General Betrayus" Clinton were skittering for the exit. 

What he did in Iraq, he now does in Afpakia.  IMHO whatever this man writes should be taken quite seriously.  He has courage, integrity, and he puts himself in harm's way so he can report to us his search for Truth.

Afghanistan is making undeniable progress, but it could all unravel


 
Next >
19 June 2011
KABUL, AFGHANISTAN

It's time to make big decisions. These decisions will have a huge impact on the future of Afghanistan. The biggest question at hand: How many troops will we keep here and for how long?

The answer to that question must not be dreamed up in political strategy sessions or in focus groups. Buzzwords and abstractions won't do.

This is about real people — our soldiers, airmen, sailors and Marines, our allies — and the people of Afghanistan. It's their lives that hang in the balance, and our judgment must respect the challenge they face and the progress they have made.

Let's begin with a few facts. For the strategy we used, we never had enough troops in Afghanistan to defeat our enemies and stand up a civil society. It can be argued that today, we still do not have enough.

Despite this, the coalition and the Afghans appear to finally be turning the tide in our favor, and a great deal of this can be credited to President Obama for deciding to send more troops. Unfortunately, the President has stated that we will begin bringing troops home this year.

This puts him in a bind. To keep his word, the President may have to undermine the very success that he facilitated.

And especially since the killing of Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan, others can be expected to ratchet up the political pressure on Obama should he not begin the drawdown on schedule. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the Republican frontrunner for the 2012 election, said this last week: "It's time for us to bring our troops home as soon as we possibly can, consistent with the word that comes to our generals that we can hand the country over… we've learned some important lessons in our experience in Afghanistan. I want those troops to come home based upon not politics, not based upon economics, but instead based upon the conditions on the ground determined by the generals. But I also think we've learned that our troops shouldn't go off and try and fight a war of independence for another nation. Only the Afghanis can win Afghanistan's independence from the Taliban."

Gen. David Petraeus is the boss here in Afghanistan. He has been tasked with making a recommendation on troop withdrawal. He arrived in Washington last week, where he is recommending a timetable for the drawdown of the 30,000 “surge” troops sent to the country in 2009.

Obama had promised that those troops would start coming home in July, but conditions on the ground always matter more.

On June 5, I asked Petraeus in his Kabul office for insight into his recommendation to the President. He told me he has not yet told anyone what his recommendation will be.

Many people are waiting. Not even his staff knows.

Petraeus, tapped to take over the CIA upon his retirement from this post, has accumulated a long string of unlikely successes in Iraq, and increasingly in Afghanistan. These efforts have been far more than mere war. Our people triumphed in the kinetic fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan years ago; the far greater difficulties have been the second wars fought in both countries during the long nation-building phases.

Any politician who says we are not nation building in Iraq or Afghanistan should be dismissed. Nation building is the course we chose, and nation building is what is occurring. Slowly.

In Iraq, a government was shattered and rebuilt. In Afghanistan, there was no government to shatter. Afghanistan was just an area where a lot of people lived, and today it's being built up from mud and sticks. For instance, there was not a single meter of paved road in Ghor Province.

A country is being built from scratch and nobody has more experience at the messy and difficult job of “shatter and create” than does Petraeus. He knows his business, his profession and his art, and he knows more about the current war than anyone alive. His recommendation will carry significant weight.

But while we do this critical work, our young warriors are still dying and being wounded in large numbers. People at home are asking if Afghanistan is worth the sacrifice. And then there is the economy, still struggling and endangering our country strategically. The war here is very expensive.

Is it worth it? This is a hard question. We made the judgment that this war was worth fighting when we put our warriors into the arena in the first place. We've already jumped and now we are deciding whether to land on our heads, our rears or our feet. We cannot unjump. Our people are fighting as you read this. When we ordered our military to go, we cloaked ourselves in great responsibility to support them and to achieve success.

Our troops have two responsibilities, which are tightly interwoven: Win the war and create Afghanistan. It is not the troops' place to consider the global economy. They are not to consider unfolding debacle in Libya, the long challenges in Iraq or the dark side of the moon.

And so when Petraeus makes his recommendation to the President, his recommendation should not include any consideration of the U.S. economy, the debt or jobs in America. He is the man in the arena. The man in the arena does not collect parking tickets, or work at the concession stand or concern himself with the electric bill for the stadium. He beats his opponent to the ground. Or, in this case, beats some opponents into the ground and builds a country simultaneously. His recommendation to the President should be pure, devoid of outside considerations.

We must be honest about what we can accomplish. This is a century-long process. A little Afghan girl is watching me write this opinion. She appears to be about 4 years old, and she keeps peeking around the door smiling at me while her mother is cleaning the house and her father takes care of the property. The girl follows me around the house. A storm is coming and a lightning bolt just zapped the electricity. I am unarmed but safe in Kabul, and if this little girl is lucky, and we do not abandon Afghanistan, she may one day end up in a university.

Petraeus told me that at its peak, violence in Iraq was four times higher than current violence is here. This seems about right. I can drive around Afghanistan in many places. I've been back in Kabul for almost two weeks and have not heard a single gunshot or explosion, though I did feel an earthquake.

This isn't Baghdad. During peak times in Iraq, you couldn't go 30 minutes in Baghdad without seeing or hearing something. The most dangerous city in Afghanistan is Kandahar, yet I have driven around Kandahar many times, including recently, without a shred of armor. I could never have survived this in Fallujah, Basra, Baghdad, Baquba or Mosul. I have driven this year, without troops, to places in Afghanistan where last year I would have almost certainly  been killed, such as Panjwai. You don't need thick intelligence reports to translate those realities.

Shouting at an oak tree will no not make it grow faster, and ignoring a sapling in this desert will leave it to die. An acorn was planted in 2001, and we mostly ignored it for more than half a decade while our people fought so hard in Iraq. Today, that acorn is a scrawny, 10-year-old oak tree that was so neglected until 2010 that it nearly died. Its skinny branches are still so weak that a sparrow dare not land, and while we focused on Iraq, the enemies here stayed busy nibbling away at anything green. Yet over the past year of extra care, there are clear signs of life and new growth.

Meanwhile, our enemies here are being monkey stomped. The rule of monkey stomping has never changed. Don't stop stomping until the enemy stops breathing. This enemy has earned respect for its courage, resilience and will-not-quit spirit, but there is only so much it can take.

At this rate, the Graveyard of Empires, the Undefeatables, will need a new advertising campaign. Our enemies here are turning out to be the Almost Undefeatables. The many good Afghans want to move forward. They want their kids, boys and girls, to see better days.

The bottom line is that there are unmistakable signs of progress in Afghanistan, and Gen. David Petraeus is about to make a very important recommendation.

His judgment should be trusted.

Major fighting will soon begin in Afghanistan.  I will be there providing coverage as I have done in the past.  Your support is crucial.  If you have enjoyed or benefited from my free dispatches, please consider supporting future work via: Paypal, or my Post Office Box, or other Methods of Support.

Osama bin Laden is dead, but the war rolls on.


Michael Yon
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« Reply #1008 on: June 19, 2011, 06:34:29 PM »

When the GWOT history is written, Yon will be recognized as it's Ernie Pyle.
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« Reply #1009 on: June 19, 2011, 10:06:53 PM »

From Associated Press
June 19, 2011 12:38 PM EDT
WASHINGTON (AP) — As President Barack Obama nears a decision on a troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, his retiring defense secretary says he doesn't believe the Taliban will engage in serious talks about ending their fight until they are under extreme military pressure.

Pentagon chief Robert Gates acknowledges that "there's been outreach" to the Taliban by the U.S. and others, but he describes the contacts as "very preliminary at this point."

Afghan President Hamid Karzai said Saturday that the U.S. and Afghan government have held talks with Taliban emissaries in an effort to end the nearly 10-year war. The Taliban, which ruled Afghanistan and sheltered al-Qaida before being driving from power in the U.S.-led invasion in late 2001, say publicly that there will be no negotiations until foreign troops leave the country.


"My own view is that real reconciliation talks are not likely to be able to make any substantive headway until at least this winter," said Gates, who retires as defense secretary at month's end.

"I think that the Taliban have to feel themselves under military pressure, and begin to believe that they can't win before they're willing to have a serious conversation," he told CNN's "State of the Union" in an interview taped Saturday after Karzai's announcement.

In the days ahead, Obama will decide how many of the 100,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan to withdraw in the initial round of reductions. Several members of Congress want significant cuts, citing the killing of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden and CIA Director Leon Panetta's assessment that fewer than 100 al-Qaida members remain in Afghanistan.

When Obama sent an additional 30,000 U.S. forces to Afghanistan at the end of 2009, he said some of those troops would start coming home in July 2011.

Obama has said the initial withdrawal will be "significant," but others in the administration, including Gates, have urged a more modest drawdown.


Gates said the troop reduction "must be politically credible here at home. So I think there's a lot of room for maneuvering there."

The U.S. goal is to give Afghans control of their own security by the end of 2014.

Many Taliban leaders remain unknown or underground since fleeing Kabul at the start of the war. Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar has not been seen publicly since 2001.

"I think the first question we have is who represents Mullah Omar," Gates said. "Who really represents the Taliban? We don't want to end up having a conversation at some point with somebody who is basically a free-lancer."

Gates said the U.S. long has said that "a political outcome is the way most of these wars end. The question is when and if they're ready to talk seriously about meeting the redlines that President Karzai, and that the coalition have laid down, including totally disavowing al-Qaida."
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ya
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« Reply #1010 on: June 22, 2011, 09:00:37 PM »


The Future of Afghanistan

Major AH Amin (Pakistan Army, Retired)

- The Pakistanis/ISI are not the masters of Afghanistan's destiny, although one may state that the Taliban in Afghanistan south of line Wardak-Shindand are Pakistan dependent as are near-Pakistani proxies.
- Kunnar, Laghman, Nuristan is a different game. It is Al Qaeda plus a combination of anti Pakistan Taliban groups with a heavy mixture of Swat. Dir, Bajaur, and Mohmand Talibans.
- The north is to a large extent pro Russian groups controlled with exception of pockets of Taliban in Baghlan and Kunduz. The Northern Alliance, Dostum and some other commanders will definitely look towards Russia, India and Iran rather than Pakistan.
- A new Northern Alliance is already being created with possible aerial fire support at Kulyab, Dehdadi, Kunduz and Herat Airfields. Russia will not allow the Taliban to have a clean run north of Hindu Kush; neither would Iran and India
In all probability the Taliban will have a clean run till line Kabul-Shindand but no further north.
- US has already abandoned large parts of Kunnar, Laghman, and Nuristan where the anti Pakistan Taliban are based.
- Note that 80 % of Taliban out of which 90 % are from Afghanistan regard Pakistan as a friend. There is no Pakistani regular army all along the 1500 Km stretch of Afghan border from Zhob to Taftan which is freely used for logistics by the 90 % of Taliban who are against USA and already pro Pakistan.
- The result will be an Afghanistan again divided in north and south regardless of Pakistan or USA liking it.
That Pakistan has been using Pashtuns as its pawns in its wars is now even very clear to the Pashtuns. The greatest beneficiary of money from Afghan wars has been the North Punjab.

- My fear is that Taliban backlash against Pakistan will be some kind of subconscious Pashtun backlash against Pakistan where Pashtuns will use religion to justify rebellion and even taking over Pakistan or some kind of secession. Here they would be aided by a simultaneous Baloch war of secession and a Punjab and Sindh paralyzed by inflation and unemployment.
- Pakistan is a suicide bombers factory. India may not be ideal but at least a young man can hope something in India but not in Pakistan which is a bastion of corruption, nepotism and red tapism. Inflation, poverty and despondency makes Pakistanis kill themselves or aspiring to kill some one, if not physically then spiritually and morally.
- A military coup in Pakistan can also not be ruled out. It has not succeeded before but it may  next time.
- A serious strategic imbalance of Pakistan is that all institutions have lost their coercive value. This includes the military, the ISI and everybody who once mattered.
- The majority in Pakistan may be moderate but the extremists are the best organized and most ready to die. So Pakistan may be the worst nightmare of this world in next five to ten years.
- The Pakistani military and intelligence and its security apparatus is just not capable of containing extremism. What can the omnipotent USA do about it if they cannot manage to make an Frontier Corps training centre worth 31 Million USD at Tank which was long planned, or bring 1000-MW electricity to Pakistan because of the closing down of the CASA 1000 project.
- An Indo Pak showdown with nuclear weapons may become a reality within next five years.
With water resources decreasing and population rising an Indo-Pak conflict is a matter of few years unless Pakistan breaks down from within, not into Balkanization, but into a constant civil war bordering near breakdown.
- The militarization of the Indo-Pak has to see a showdown unless one party breaks down without a war. Pakistan seems more likely and the last resort may be a nuclear exchange or a cold start war with India which further weakens Pakistan.
- The US would not be able to make a dent with India over Pakistan as Pakistan is a solid Chinese concubine although its US relationship is a more temporary and fluctuating Mutaah or Sigheh (Temporary Marriage).
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« Reply #1011 on: June 23, 2011, 09:20:53 AM »

By Nathan Hughes

U.S. President Barack Obama announced June 22 that the long process of drawing down forces in Afghanistan would begin on schedule in July. Though the  initial phase of the drawdown appears limited, minimizing the tactical and operational impact on the ground in the immediate future, the United States and its allies are now beginning the inevitable process of removing their forces from Afghanistan. This will entail the risk of greater Taliban battlefield successes.


The Logistical Challenge

Afghanistan, a landlocked country in the heart of Central Asia, is one of the most isolated places on Earth. This isolation has posed huge logistical challenges for the United States. Hundreds of shipping containers and fuel trucks must enter the country every day from Pakistan and from the north to sustain the nearly 150,000 U.S. and allied forces stationed in Afghanistan, about half the total number of Afghan security forces. Supplying a single gallon of gasoline in Afghanistan reportedly costs the U.S. military an average of $400, while sustaining a single U.S. soldier runs around $1 million a year (by contrast, sustaining an Afghan soldier costs about $12,000 a year).

These forces appear considerably lighter than those in Iraq because Afghanistan’s rough terrain often demands dismounted foot patrols. Heavy main battle tanks and self-propelled howitzers are thus few and far between, though not entirely absent. Afghanistan even required a new, lighter and more agile version of the hulking mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicle known as the M-ATV (for “all-terrain vehicle”).

Based solely on the activity on the ground in Afghanistan today, one would think the United States and its allies were preparing for a permanent presence, not the imminent beginning of a long-scheduled drawdown (a perception the United States and its allies have in some cases used to their advantage to reach political arrangements with locals). An 11,500-foot all-weather concrete and asphalt runway and an air traffic control tower were completed this February at Camp Leatherneck and Camp Bastion in Helmand province. Another more than 9,000-foot runway was finished at Shindand Air Field in Herat province last December.



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Meanwhile, a so-called iron mountain of spare parts needed to maintain vehicles and aircraft, construction and engineering equipment, generators, ammunition and other supplies — even innumerable pallets of bottled water — has slowly been built up to sustain day-to-day military operations. There are fewer troops in Afghanistan than the nearly 170,000 in Iraq at the peak of operations and considerably lighter tonnage in terms of armored vehicles. But short of a hasty and rapid withdrawal reminiscent of the chaotic American exit from Saigon in 1975 (which no one currently foresees in Afghanistan), the logistical challenge of withdrawing from Afghanistan — at whatever pace — is perhaps even more daunting than the drawdown in Iraq. The complexity of having nearly 50 allies with troops in country will complicate this process.

Moreover, coalition forces in Iraq had ready access to well-established bases and modern port facilities in nearby Kuwait and in Turkey, a long-standing NATO ally. Though U.S. and allied equipment comes ashore on a routine basis in the Pakistani port city of Karachi, the facilities there are nothing like what exists in Kuwait. Routes to bases in Afghanistan are anything but short and established, with locally contracted fuel tankers and other supplies not only traveling far greater distances but also regularly subject to harassing attacks. They are inherently vulnerable to aggressive interdiction by militants fighting on terrain far more favorable to them, and to politically motivated interruptions by Islamabad. The American logistical dependence on Pakistani acquiescence cannot be understated. Most supplies transit the isolated Khyber Pass in the restive Pakistani Federally Administered Tribal Areas west of Islamabad. As in Iraq, the United States does have an alternative to the north. But instead of Turkey it is the Northern Distribution Network (NDN), which runs through Central Asia and Russia (Moscow has agreed to continue to expand it) and entails a 3,200-mile rail route to the Baltic Sea and ports in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia.



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Given the extraordinary distances involved, the metrics for defining whether something is worth the expense of shipping back from Afghanistan are unforgiving. Some equipment will be deemed too heavily damaged or cheap and will be sanitized if necessary and discarded. Much construction and fortification has been done with engineering and construction equipment like Hesco barriers (which are filled with sand and dirt) that will not be reclaimed, and will continue to characterize the landscape in Afghanistan for decades to come, much as the Soviet influence was perceivable long after their 1989 withdrawal. Much equipment will be handed over to Afghan security forces, which already have begun to receive up-armored U.S. HMMWVs, aka “humvees.” Similarly, some 800,000 items valued at nearly $100 million have already been handed over to more than a dozen Iraqi military, security and government entities.

Other gear will have to be stripped of sensitive equipment (radios and other cryptographic gear, navigation equipment, jammers for improvised explosive devices, etc.), which is usually flown out of the country due to security concerns before being shipped overland. And while some Iraqi stocks were designated for redeployment to Afghanistan or prepared for long-term storage in pre-positioned equipment depots and aboard maritime pre-positioning ships at facilities in Kuwait, most vehicles and supplies slated to be moved out of Afghanistan increasingly will have to be shipped far afield. This could be from Karachi by ship or to Europe by rail even if they are never intended for return to the United States.


Security Transition

More important than the fate of armored trucks and equipment will be the process of rebalancing forces across the country. This will involve handing over outposts and facilities to Afghan security forces, who continue to struggle to reach full capability, and scaling back the extent of the U.S. and allied presence in the country. In Iraq, and likely in Afghanistan, the beginning of this process will be slow and measured. But its pace in the years ahead remains to be seen, and may accelerate considerably.



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The first areas slated for handover to Afghan control, the provinces of Panjshir, Bamiyan and Kabul — aside the restive Surobi district, though the rest of Kabul’s security effectively has been in Afghan hands for years — and the cities of Mazar-e-Sharif, Herat, Lashkar Gah and Mehtar Lam have been relatively quiet places for some time. Afghan security forces increasingly have taken over in these areas. As in Iraq, the first places to be turned over to indigenous security forces already were fairly secure. Handing over more restive areas later in the year will prove trickier.

This process of pulling back and handing over responsibility for security (in Iraq often termed having Iraqi security forces “in the lead” in specific areas) is a slow and deliberate one, not a sudden and jarring maneuver. Well before the formal announcement, Afghan forces began to transition to a more independent role, conducting more small-unit operations on their own. International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) troops slowly have transitioned from joint patrols and tactical overwatch to a more operational overwatch, but have remained nearby even after transitions formally have taken place.

Under the current training regime, Afghan units continue to require advice and assistance, particularly with matters like intelligence, planning, logistics and maintenance. The ISAF will be cautious in its reductions for fear of pulling back too quickly and seeing the situation deteriorate — unless, of course, Obama directs it to conduct a hastier pullback.

As in Afghanistan, in Iraq the process of drawing down and handing over responsibility in each area was done very cautiously. There was a critical distinction, however. A political accommodation with the Sunnis facilitated the apparent success of the Iraqi surge — something that has not been (and cannot be) replicated in Afghanistan. Even with that advantage, Iraq remains in an unsettled and contentious state. The lack of any political framework to facilitate a military pullback leaves the prospect of a viable transition in restive areas where the U.S. counterinsurgency-focused strategy has been focused tenuous at best — particularly if timetables are accelerated.

In June 2009, U.S. forces in Iraq occupied 357 bases. A year later, U.S. forces occupied only 92 bases, 58 of which were partnered with the Iraqis. The pace of the transition in Afghanistan remains to be seen, but handing over the majority of positions to Afghan forces will fundamentally alter the situational awareness, visibility and influence of ISAF forces.


Casualties and Force Protection

The security of the remaining outposts and ensuring the security of U.S. and allied forces and critical lines of supply (particularly key sections of the Ring Road) that sustain remaining forces will be key to crafting the withdrawal and pulling back to fewer, stronger and more secure positions. As that drawdown progresses — and particularly if a more substantive shift in strategy is implemented — the increased pace begins to bring new incentives into play. Of particular note will be both a military and political incentive to reduce casualties as the endgame draws closer.

The desire to accelerate the consolidation to more secure positions will clash with the need to pull back slowly and continue to provide Afghan forces with advice and assistance. The reorientation may expose potential vulnerabilities to Taliban attack in the process of transitioning to a new posture. Major reversals and defeats for Afghan security forces at the hands of the Taliban after they have been left to their own devices can be expected in at least some areas and will have wide repercussions, perhaps even shifting the psychology and perception of the war.

When ISAF units are paired closely with Afghan forces, those units have a stronger day-to-day tactical presence in the field, and other units are generally operating nearby. So while they are more vulnerable and exposed to threats like IEDs while out on patrol, they also — indeed, in part because of that exposure — have a more alert and robust posture. As the transition accelerates and particularly if Washington accelerates it, the posture and therefore the vulnerabilities of forces change.

Force protection remains a key consideration throughout. The United States gained considerable experience with that during the Iraq transition — though again, a political accommodation underlay much of that transition, which will not be the case in Afghanistan.

As the drawdown continues, ISAF will have to balance having advisers in the field alongside Afghan units for as long as possible against pulling more back to key strongholds and pulling them out of the country completely. In the former case, the close presence of advisers can improve the effectiveness of Afghan security forces and provide better situational awareness. But it also exposes smaller units to operations more distant from strongholds as the number of outposts and major positions begins to be reduced. And as the process of pulling back accelerates and particularly as allied forces increasingly hunker down on larger and more secure outposts, their already limited situational awareness will decline even further, which opens up its own vulnerabilities.

One of these will be the impact on not just situational awareness on the ground but intelligence collection and particularly exploitable relationships with local political factions. As the withdrawal becomes more and more undeniable and ISAF pulls back from key areas, the human relationships that underlie intelligence sharing will be affected and reduced. This is particularly the case in places where the Taliban are strongest, as villagers there return to a strategy of hedging their bets out of necessity and focus on the more enduring power structure, which in many areas will clearly be the Taliban.


The Taliban

Ultimately, the Taliban’s incentive vis-a-vis the United States and its allies — especially as their exit becomes increasingly undeniable — is to conserve and maximize their strength for a potential fight in the vacuum sure to ensue after the majority of foreign troops have left the country. At the same time, any “revolutionary” movement must be able to consolidate internal control and maintain discipline while continuing to make itself relevant to domestic constituencies. The Taliban also may seek to take advantage of the shifting tactical realities to demonstrate their strength and the extent of their reach across the country, not only by targeting newly independent and newly isolated Afghan units but by attempting to kill or even kidnap now-more isolated foreign troops.

Though this year the Taliban have demonstrated their ability to strike almost anywhere in the country, they so far have failed to demonstrate the ability to penetrate the perimeter of large, secured facilities with a sizable assault force or to bring crew-served weapons to bear in an effective supporting manner. Given the intensity and tempo of special operations forces raids on Taliban leadership and weapons caches, it is unclear whether the Taliban have managed to retain a significant cache of heavier arms and the capability to wield them.

The inherent danger of compromise and penetration of indigenous security forces also continues to loom large. The vulnerabilities of ISAF forces will grow and change while they begin to shift as mission and posture evolve — and those vulnerabilities will be particularly pronounced in places where the posture and presence remains residual and a legacy of a previous strategy instead of more fundamental rebalancing. The shift from a dispersed, counterinsurgency-focused orientation to a more limited and more secure presence will ultimately provide the space to reduce casualties, but it will necessarily entail more limited visibility and influence. And the transition will create space for potentially more significant Taliban successes on the battlefield.

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« Reply #1012 on: June 23, 2011, 04:43:33 PM »

U.S. President Barack Obama announced June 22 his plan to withdraw the “surge” troops deployed to Afghanistan in 2009. Five thousand will come out this summer, another 5,000 before the end of the year, and a total of 33,000 by next summer. While there has been some discussion about what exactly the military wanted and what his advisers wanted, this is not inconsistent with the timetable that was to be expected under the counterinsurgency-focused strategy that Gen. David Petraeus had been overseeing as commander of all forces in Afghanistan. While there’s been some rhetorical maneuvering, America’s allies are more than happy to be leaving sooner rather than later.

There has been no indication so far that there’s going to be a rapid shift in strategy or operations on the ground and with the limited initial reductions there are not necessarily going to be any major operational or tactical shifts. While President Barack Obama has been defining the war in Afghanistan since before his presidency in terms of al Qaeda, the 30,000 troops he sent to the country in 2009 joined nearly 70,000 U.S. troops already in place waging a protracted counterinsurgency not against al Qaeda but against the Taliban and the ongoing insurgency being waged by the Taliban remains as unsettled as it was two years ago. So while the United States is preparing the political ground for a drawdown and the idea of the war being won against al Qaeda, it still remains to be seen how the United States wants to pull back in the midst of insurgency that remains unsettled.

But while the war in Taliban remains unsettled, America’s allies are more than happy to be making withdrawal from the country. For the most part, these countries are primarily there at America’s allies and because of the importance of their alliance with the United States, not because of any deep-seated interest in what happens in Afghanistan specifically, especially as the al Qaeda phenomenon that is a transnational threat to more than just United States has really dispersed and devolved around the world. For the Europeans in particular there is a great deal of focus on the campaign in Libya, which isn’t going perfectly well which is also becoming more and more expensive, there is a focus on fiscal austerity and looming budget cuts including defense cuts, and so the expense of Afghanistan not just in terms of blood but treasure is on European minds in particular. But for allies in the region like Pakistan, the real question is what happens when United States is gone.

There will continue to be some sort of training, advising and probably special operations presence perhaps well beyond 2014, but the way the war has been fought for 10 years, particularly the last several years where there’s a large foreign force both attracting the attention of Taliban, absorbing the Taliban and continued the pressure upon them, that force goes away and however capable the Afghan forces are, they are not to be capable at the same degree in the same way. So there’s an enormous question for everywhere from Islamabad to Moscow about what sort of shape Afghanistan is left in as the U.S. and its allies pull back. The United States can go home, most of its allies can go home, but Pakistan cannot leave the Afghan border and so what happens there will be of essential importance for the countries that have to continue to live with whatever is left behind Afghanistan.

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« Reply #1013 on: June 23, 2011, 07:08:49 PM »

Here's another POV:

Alexander's Essay – June 23, 2011

Opting Out of Enduring Freedom
Political Expediency vs. National Security

"t is a common observation here that our cause is the cause of all mankind, and that we are fighting for their liberty in defending our own." --Benjamin Franklin
In opposition to the advice of military and intelligence advisers -- but with the support of popular polls -- Barack Hussein Obama is moving ahead with his plan to withdraw American forces from Afghanistan beginning this July. In other words, though the drawdown does not comport with the best interests of U.S. national security, it does conform to his 2012 political campaign agenda.

Obama rolled out his worn rhetoric about Iraq being the wrong war, which distracted our nation from the right war, Afghanistan, which would seem to contradict his drawdown plans. As you recall, President George W. Bush launched Operation Enduring Freedom against al-Qa'ida and their Taliban hosts in Afghanistan on 7 October 2001, in response to the 9/11 attack on our nation. Operation Iraqi Freedom was not launched until 20 March 2003, after Saddam Hussein refused, repeatedly, to comply with UN Resolution 1441, giving him "a final opportunity to comply with its disarmament obligations."

At the time, we had ongoing combat operations over Iraq enforcing the "no-fly zone," and arguably, "Desert Storm 2.0" was necessitated because we departed Iraq prematurely after the first Desert Storm in 1991.

Obama credited himself with having taken "decisive action" in late 2009 by ordering a troop surge of 30,000 to Afghanistan. History will note, however, that he dithered for several months before finally granting his military commanders a smaller surge force than the one they'd requested, and that he hamstrung our forces by announcing a date certain by which we'd begin to remove them.

Obama has committed to withdraw at least 33,000 of our 100,000 warfighters in the region by "next summer," just in time to mollify his anti-war base and re-energize them for the 2012 presidential election. That would be 30,000 more than his advisers requested, which might explain why he made no mention of General David Petraeus, Commander of the International Security Assistance Force and U.S. Forces Afghanistan.

In early May, besieged with the failure of his socialist economic policies, BHO received a short-lived bounce in the polls after announcing that he (read "U.S. Special Forces") killed Osama bin Laden, thanks to intelligence "extracted" from Jihadi insurgents captured in Iraq when George Bush was president.

As Obama's domestic policies continue to fail miserably, and his popular approval sinks to new lows, he hopes to get another pop-poll bounce with the announcement of the Afghan drawdown. He jibed, "America, it is time to focus on nation-building here at home," but just hours before, Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke downgraded the outlook for the U.S. economic recovery, the direct result of Obama's "nation building here at home."

All political shenanigans aside, the question we should ask is what action in Afghanistan is in the best long-term interest of our national security? Is our nation-building strategy in Iraq and Afghanistan the right strategy, or will targeted hunt and kill operations suffice.

For the record, the primary national security objective of both Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom were not, first and foremost, to eradicate dictators and establish democracy and free enterprise through extensive and expensive nation-building efforts. Our objective was to contain the nuclear threat posed by asymmetric elements in the region.

In plain words, our objective was (and should remain) to prevent the detonation by Jihadi terrorists of a nuclear device in one or more U.S. urban centers. If you think the cost of keeping the battle on their turf for the last 10 years has been expensive, try calculating the cost of recovery after a fissile weapon detonation in Boston or Baltimore, and the resulting economic consequence. Notably, the economic collapse of 2008 can be linked directly to the economic consequences of the 9/11 attack, (Marc:  This comment is seriously wide of the mark in my opinion) but those consequences were minor in comparison to the cost of a nuclear attack.

The nuclear deterrence objective depends on a coherent Long War strategy to combat Islamist adversaries in the region, and around the world, but Obama has now made clear his intent to short-circuit that objective for his political expedience.

Obama errantly believes that concessions will inspire our Jihadi foes in al-Qa'ida's broad and amorphous terrorist network to go home in peace. However, since he took office, casualties in Afghanistan have increased five-fold. If history repeats itself -- and it will -- Obama's foreign policy today will cost us dearly at some future date. Retreat from Afghanistan without a clear military victory will be seen by jihadists as a victory for al-Qa'ida and Islamo-Facists around the world. (Tellingly, he never once used the words "win" or "victory" last night when he announced his rationale for withdrawing our forces.)

Obama was a national security neophyte when he entered office, and he hasn't learned much since then. Rather than exhibit leadership, a personality characteristic that remains enigmatic to him, Obama is content to follow the polls.

Unquestionably, most Americans want to "bring the troops home." Of course we do. The 10-year campaign to contain Islamists in Afghanistan has cost our nation the lives of 1,522 of its Patriot warriors -- about half the number of Americans killed on 9/11 -- and more than 10,000 injured. But the consequences of a rapid drawdown will cost us far more lives in the future.

This is clear to military leaders stateside, and military commanders in Afghanistan.

Of Obama's foreign policy, departing SecDef Robert Gates said of his decision to resign, "I've spent my entire adult life with the United States as a superpower, and one that had no compunction about spending what it took to sustain that position. ... I can't imagine being part of a nation, part of a government ... that's being forced to dramatically scale back our engagement with the rest of the world." (Gates's successor, Leon Panetta, will be charged with dramatic military cuts as Obama continues to massively expand the size and role of the central government, creating a "debt bomb," perhaps more perilous to our national security than the Jihadi threat.)

According to my sources, Gen. Petraeus has warned Obama that his proposed drawdown is too much, too soon, and that the current level of U.S. military personnel is needed for at least another year to turn the tide. U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Gen. John Toolan, Regional Command Southwest, has expressed similar concerns, as has Lt. Gen. William Caldwell, commander of NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan.

However, it is the Army and Marine commanders on the frontlines in Afghanistan whose opinion we give greatest weight, because their perspective is unfettered by political agendas.

Having contacted five commanders at the O-5 to O-6 ranks on the ground in Afghanistan, I can present the following composite of the perspectives they shared with me: If we leave on Obama's political timeframe, not only will Afghanistan return to the breeding ground for terrorists as it was prior to 2003, but Islamists are likely to overtake Pakistan, a nuclear power on the precipice of chaos. In addition to redoubling their campaign against Israel and Western targets, they may also set their sights on India, another nuclear power, and the scene fades to dark after that. The rhetoric about timelines and drawdowns is counterproductive, because what our allied Afghans and Pakistanis hear is that America is abandoning them. That belief only serves to embolden the Taliban, al-Qa'ida and other Islamo-Fascists in the region, including those in Iran. Region-wide, Obama's policies portray us as uncommitted and untrustworthy, which further demoralizes the moderates we seek to empower. In short, this is a war against a formidable adversary that we must continue to prosecute if our ultimate objective -- keeping the battlefront on their turf rather than ours -- is to be maintained.

In summation, one Marine officer put it this way: "When I hear Obama say 'the American people want me to end this war and I am responding with an exit plan,' that's the antithesis of leadership. President Bush, against the popular will, surged forces here, and that was the right policy and required leadership."

The death of OBL gave BHO a temporary boost in the polls. Using that as a catalyst to draw down our forces in Afghanistan he might enjoy another temporary boost. But the bottom line that gets lost in this debate is the potential that Islamist terrorists will one day detonate a nuke on U.S. soil.

Graham Allison, Director of Harvard's Center for Science and International Affairs, and a leading analyst of U.S. national security and defense policy pertaining to nuclear weapons and terrorism, grimly notes in regard to a nuclear attack on the U.S., "I think that we should be very thankful that it hasn't happened already. ... We're living on borrowed time."

Unfortunately, while we currently control the clock, we're about to pass it back to the bad guys through Barack Obama's malfeasance.

Semper Vigilo, Fortis, Paratus et Fidelis!

Mark Alexander
Publisher, The Patriot Post
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« Reply #1014 on: June 24, 2011, 06:28:10 AM »

A different take from the previous post from Stratfor-- any comments contrasting the two?
================

Obama's Announcement and the Future of the Afghan War

U.S. President Barack Obama on Wednesday night made the most important political statement on the war in Afghanistan since the death of Osama bin Laden. In a planned statement, Obama spelled out his post-surge strategy, as the July 2011 deadline approaches that would mark the start of the drawdown of American and allied forces in Afghanistan. While Obama did not declare victory in his address, he laid the groundwork to do so.

Before he came to office, a key plank in Obama’s election platform was the idea that Iraq was the “wrong” war and Afghanistan, by contrast, the “right” war. That stance was founded on the idea that since al Qaeda attacked the United States in 2001, the war in Afghanistan is morally just and a military imperative. But even as the 2008 presidential campaign unfolded, the United States had already begun to shift its operational focus in Afghanistan toward a counterinsurgency-oriented campaign centered against the Taliban.

“It’s noteworthy that Obama’s speech lays the groundwork for American domestic political rhetoric to align with military reality..”
Even while justifying the 2009 surge by saying 30,000 additional troops were needed to fight al Qaeda, Obama was giving the military the resources to wage a protracted counterinsurgency against the Taliban. In 2001, al Qaeda and the Taliban were distinct, yet necessarily intertwined. After all, it was the Taliban regime in Afghanistan that had provided al Qaeda sanctuary, facilitating the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. But the Taliban declined combat in 2001, refusing to fight on American terms. Instead its fighters withdrew into the population — largely but not completely within Afghanistan — employing a standard guerrilla tactic. Meanwhile — and especially after Tora Bora — al Qaeda was increasingly driven into Pakistan and, more importantly, farther abroad.

Thus began the deepening divide between the two groups. For al Qaeda, a transnational jihadist phenomenon with global ambitions, the logic behind setting up franchises from Yemen and the Maghreb to East Asia was readily apparent. Its ideology was not reliant on location. As the United States focused its war effort on one locality, it made perfect sense for al Qaeda to devolve into a dispersed, decentralized organization. The group needed to avoid any place the United States decided to park more than 100,000 combat troops. Meanwhile, the Taliban, an Afghan phenomenon, doubled down on their home turf.

And so, while the United States never settled the war in Afghanistan, it found itself fighting an increasingly domestic entity near the heart of Central Asia — an entity that came to consider driving the United States out of the country its primary objective. For their part, the United States and its allies never wanted to occupy Afghanistan in the first place.

The war in Afghanistan has been a victory for the United States, but a qualified one. The war has helped prevent a subsequent attack of the magnitude of Sept. 11, 2001 — and there is no sign that the old al Qaeda core has the ability to launch another attack on that scale. But the war in Afghanistan has not proven an efficient or appropriately focused means of achieving this qualified victory. It has not kept al Qaeda franchise operations from waging an aggressive and innovative campaign to continue the struggle, nor can we say that what remains of al Qaeda in the Afghan-Pakistani region could not reconstitute itself, given sufficient space and time.

Meanwhile, even the most serious observers wonder why the United States is so heavily committed in Afghanistan. The example of the Korengal Valley, once considered an important focus of the war effort, is demonstrative. A vulnerable and isolated outpost at an old lumberyard was established and defended at no small cost in American blood and treasure. It was closed in 2010 as the United States reoriented toward a counterinsurgency-based strategy focused on population centers — and more importantly as it became clear that the strongest influence driving locals to the Taliban was the presence of American troops at that outpost.

The noteworthy aspect of Obama’s speech is that it lays the groundwork for American domestic political rhetoric to circle back into alignment with military reality. If military reality and military objectives are defined in terms of the Taliban insurgency, then Afghanistan is every bit as lost now as it was two years ago – if not more so. But if they are defined in terms of al Qaeda, then the United States has good cause to claim victory and reorient its posture in Afghanistan. The U.S. war against transnational extremism is far from over. But the trepidation that the rest of the world feels as Washington slowly regains the ability to focus its attention elsewhere is a testament to the magnitude of the window of opportunity that other global powers have enjoyed, thanks to the American focus on geographically restricted wars against an elusive, transnational phenomenon.



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« Reply #1015 on: June 25, 2011, 10:27:22 PM »

A different take from the previous post from Stratfor-- any comments contrasting the two?
================
Obama's Announcement and the Future of the Afghan War

If military reality and military objectives are defined in terms of the Taliban insurgency, then Afghanistan is every bit as lost now as it was two years ago – if not more so. But if they are defined in terms of al Qaeda, then the United States has good cause to claim victory and reorient its posture in Afghanistan.

If Baraq implements his withdrawl, I think US policy in Af-Pak will result in Talib controlled south Afghanistan, and Northern alliance controlled N.Afghanistan. If the US can force Pak army to take action on the Haqqani group, then the fun begins, as pak unravels. Pak will unravel, only question is the pace. A stable Pak is not in anyone's interest..the US govt is coming around to this view. A weaker Pak is a manageable pak.
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« Reply #1016 on: June 26, 2011, 07:00:06 AM »

In the last few days, atleast two commentators have started talking about the balkanization of Af-Pak region, specifically southern afghanistan/northern afghanistan.

Here's from the Broadsword blog on the 25th of June "Critical to the American vision for Afghanistan is the reconciliation process with the Taliban. A long-term US presence is anathema to the Taliban; a US drawdown, alongside the failure of reconciliation, could well result in the effective Balkanisation of Afghanistan, with the Taliban controlling southern Afghanistan and the remaining US forces militarily propping up Karzai’s (or a successor’s) government in northern Afghanistan. At least one prominent American thinker, former US Ambassador to India, Robert Blackwill, has foreseen the de facto division of Afghanistan, with US drone and Special Forces strikes being conducted from northern Afghanistan into the south and into Pakistan.

For Pakistan, the US drawdown is ominous since Washington’s reduced dependence on Pakistan will allow more effective arm-twisting of Islamabad. As senior US officials have briefed New Delhi, the dependence on Pakistan for logistical routes has already come down thanks to Russia’s cooperation in expanding the Northern Distribution Network (NDN). This involves landing US supplies in Baltic Sea ports and then transporting them to Afghanistan through Russia and the Central Asian countries over a 3,200-mile railway. Even though the NDN is four times as expensive as the comparatively straightforward route through Pakistan, it already accounts for half of America’s logistical requirements in Afghanistan. Any reduction in the American presence will further decrease Pakistan’s leverage."

Here's Major Amin, a Pak army commentator on June 22 "The result will be an Afghanistan again divided in north and south regardless of Pakistan or USA liking it.".

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« Reply #1017 on: June 26, 2011, 09:42:28 AM »

From Night watch..http://www.kforcegov.com/Services/IS/NightWatch/NightWatch_11000130.aspx

NightWatch has continued to track data in detail for all 400 districts of Afghanistan every other month and spot checked fighting reports in between. Preliminary analysis of the data for May 2011 was completed today. The table below shows the data from three tracking measures since last November.

See table:

What do these data  signify?

First the "media expert" thesis that the Taliban have a fighting season that ends in winter is a fantasy. During each of the past three winters Taliban and other anti-government fighters increased their level of activity, reducing their operations only briefing for weather, as in January 2009. Winter weather imposes no lasting impediment to anti-government operations in the core provinces of the insurgency.


The Taliban did begin an offensive in May 2011, as announced. The number of security incidents in May reached an all-time high despite a brief dip in activity in late May apparently because of rumors that Mullah Omar was missing or deceased.


The number of districts experiencing security incidents was at an all-time high, despite the increase in US forces. The mix of districts has changed, indicating the anti-government fighters moved, rather than confront overwhelming US force. This explains the multiple reports of successfully cleared districts that have returned to normality while the overall number of security incidents increased.


About 200 of the 400 Afghan districts have Pashtun majorities or significant Pashtun minority populations. Any monthly total number of districts experiencing security incidents that exceeds 200 means the Taliban have acquired support or tolerance from non-Pashtun populations.


The May 2011 number of districts experiencing security incidents represents two-thirds of all districts, and is the highest number since the Taliban resurgence began in 2006. Much of this increase  in reach is in districts north of Kabul.


The number of incidents is partly a function of increased US operations during the surge, but the Taliban are almost always present to shoot back. There also has been a noticeable spike in the use of improvised explosive devices, the most effective Taliban weapons.


The anti-government fighters waste lots of ammunition and explosives, but never seem to lack for supplies for long. Afghanistan makes no ammunition and no explosives. Almost all come from Pakistan or from leakage from US and Afghan supplies. The increase in security incidents always is matched by an increase in logistics for NATO and anti-government fighters.


The analysis continues, but the reports since November show no significant Afghan army involvement in combat operations. The May reports contained a single operation that clearly was Afghan army initiated. Afghan soldiers accompany NATO forces on operations, but seldom take casualties except from careless driving.


The Afghan police continue to sustain more casualties than any other armed entity. The UN Office on Drugs and Crime estimates Afghanistan has more than 30,700 villages. NightWatch security incident data indicates up to two-thirds harbor or tolerate anti-government fighters in them.


The data show the Afghan government cannot survive without NATO support, especially logistics and tactical air support. More on casualties, later.
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« Reply #1018 on: June 26, 2011, 09:50:49 AM »

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/MF25Df02.html
   
Obama puts the heat on Pakistan
By Karamatullah K Ghori

When the head of the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) directorate of the Pakistan military makes a clean breast, as he did on June 21, that a serving brigadier of the army at the General Headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi is in detention on charges of having links with an extremist religious organization, one has to believe that something very serious must be wrong in the military.

Another announcement from the ISPR, a day later, added four majors of the army to the brigadier's column. These four, however, are merely being questioned and not detained, at least not yet.

The Pakistan military is an exclusive club that doesn't let out much information about itself unless there's an overwhelming reason for it. And the current period in time is, no doubt, one such phase when a lot has happened that the denizens of this elitist club may never have wished to see.

The series of humiliations kicked off in early May with the embarrassment of Abbottabad and the macabre siege of the naval base Mehran, in Karachi, and shows little sign of abating.

As the sweltering heat in the plains of Pakistan is getting closer to making room for the annual monsoons - with the likelihood of another visitation of floods engulfing the country - dark clouds ominously dot the horizon for the army.

The open season that opposition politicians, led by two-time prime minister Nawaz Sharif, have declared on the military's bloated but unwelcome role in governance is enough to test its resilience. And now United States President Barack Obama, too, has waded in to make the challenge even more onerous for the generals at GHQ.

Obama's June 22 speech from the White House - in which he announced the commencement of his promised drawdown of US troops from Afghanistan in July this year and phased over the next three years - contains a list of veiled demands and warnings for Pakistan, particularly its military.

To Obama, the thinning of the American combat presence in Afghanistan doesn't mean any dilution of his firm resolve to keep up the pressure on al-Qaeda and its militant comrades. He complimented Pakistan's efforts that, together with the American punch, have led to more than half of al-Qaeda's top brass being eliminated. However, he left no room for doubt that as long as he was in command, there would be no sanctuary for terrorists, anywhere.

That's where Pakistan and the role of its military take on a pivotal position in Obama's estimation. He was quite categorical that there would be no "safe havens for al-Qaeda". That was a loud and clear message for Pakistan to ensure there are no hide-outs for al-Qaeda and its fellow-travellers in the "no man's land" of Pakistan's tribal belt straddling Afghanistan.

It's an old but persistent demand of the Americans for the Pakistan army to do in its North Waziristan tribal area what it did in South Waziristan. The Pakistan army - for a variety of reasons - has been stalling on that demand. But Obama sounded more insistent and resolute than ever before. Indeed, his confidence has climbed since US special forces killed al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden in his hideout not far from a military compound in Abbottabad. So he hardly minced his words in articulating that "we will insist" that Pakistan keeps its commitments.

It's easy for Obama to pile pressure on Pakistan, coupled with barely disguised warnings that if Pakistan didn't, then he would go about it on his own, which in simple words means another Abbottabad-like solo operation.

However, the relentless demands from Obama for the Pakistan army to do still more - with himself holding a gun to its head, is a catch-22 dilemma for the generals. The price Obama could exact from them and the country is enormous.

The latest survey by the Washington-based Pew research in Pakistan in the wake of Bin Laden's demise finds that 67% of Pakistanis questioned, a solid majority, don't think the "war on terror" is Pakistan's war. A fresh incursion by the army into North Waziristan to oblige the Americans could only trigger wider public uproar, which would be hard to stomach for an army leadership already forced onto the back foot.

The Pakistan army's operation in South Waziristan has already brought a massive spike in acts of terrorism that has taken a heavy toll of public life. Another Quixotic venture would inevitably add fuel to a burning fire and push the country to the brink of anarchy.

In a nutshell, Pakistan could slide into civil war, given an already super-charged tension in its political culture, where tolerance of any kind is at a heavy premium.

On top of that, Pakistan is wary of the talks that Washington has been carrying on for some time with the Afghan Taliban behind its back. Keeping Pakistan out of the loop has only one meaning for Islamabad: the Obama administration doesn't trust it enough to make it a party to the parleys, which could have far-reaching consequences for Pakistan, more than any other neighbor of Afghanistan.

Islamabad is also feeling increasingly leery of the traction that the so-called Blackwill formula - to divide Afghanistan along ethnic lines into a Pashtun south and a non-Pashtun north - is apparently receiving in top echelons of the Obama administration.

There's near-consensus in Pakistan's intellectual community, and policymakers, that the author of this prescription, Robert Blackwill, has absorbed a lot of Indian input into his brain wave. Blackwill was George W Bush's ambassador to India from 2001 to 2003.
grin
Pakistan's intellectual community also fears Obama's drawdown of forces, spread over three years, is calibrated to allow the Blackwill plan ample opportunity to take root in Afghanistan.

A divided Afghanistan would not only denude Pakistan of its strategic depth, vis-a-vis India, but may also become a cause for the Pashtuns on both sides of the Durand Line, the poorly marked border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, to unite. Such unity could only mean further dismemberment of Pakistan and open up a Pandora's box. Pakistan simply can't countenance such an outcome and will pull no punches to thwart it.

Karamatullah K Ghori is a former career ambassador of Pakistan whose diplomatic assignments took him to the United States, Argentina, Japan, China, The Philippines, Algeria, Kuwait, Iraq, Macedonia and Turkey.
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« Reply #1019 on: June 26, 2011, 11:51:57 AM »

YA:

As always, fascinating stuff.  Much to think about there! 

Although apparently a relatively minor point in the larger context, this caught my attention as something likely to go unnoticed:

"As senior US officials have briefed New Delhi, the dependence on Pakistan for logistical routes has already come down thanks to Russia’s cooperation in expanding the Northern Distribution Network (NDN). This involves landing US supplies in Baltic Sea ports and then transporting them to Afghanistan through Russia and the Central Asian countries over a 3,200-mile railway. Even though the NDN is four times as expensive as the comparatively straightforward route through Pakistan, it already accounts for half of America’s logistical requirements in Afghanistan. Any reduction in the American presence will further decrease Pakistan’s leverage."

A lot of implications there for the leverage Russia will have in its dealings with the US , , ,

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« Reply #1020 on: June 28, 2011, 03:00:52 AM »



What does it mean that the U.S. will now be withdrawing its forces from Afghanistan on an accelerated and defined timetable in order to focus, as President Obama said last week, on "nation building here at home"?

It emboldens the Taliban, which thanks to Mr. Obama's surge and David Petraeus's generalship had all but been ousted from its traditional strongholds in Kandahar and Helmand provinces. "My soul, and the soul of thousands of Taliban who have been blown up, are happy," Taliban field commander Jamal Khan told the Daily Beast of his reaction to Mr. Obama's speech. "I had more than 50 encounters with U.S. forces and their technology. But the biggest difference in ending this war was not technology but the more powerful Islamic ideology and religion."

It increases the risk to U.S. forces in Afghanistan, where the fatality count was finally starting to come down after peaking in 2010. Fewer troops means that U.S. commanders will have to make an invidious choice between clearing territory of enemies and holding and building it for friends. "Whether it is Nangarhar or Ghazni, Kandahar or Herat, the place where we decide to 'surge' with remaining forces will leave a window open—and the Taliban will crawl in," says a U.S. military official with experience in Afghanistan. "Any commander who has experienced a withdrawal under pressure knows that it is perhaps the most difficult operation you can conduct and certainly the most dangerous; it gives the attacker a feeling of superiority and demoralizes the withdrawing force."

It strengthens already potent anti-American forces in Pakistan and weakens the hand of moderates. Skeptics of the U.S. within Pakistan's government, particularly the army, will mark the U.S. withdrawal as further evidence that Washington is a congenitally unreliable ally. Opponents of the U.S. outside of the government will capitalize politically on the perception of American weakness. Drone strikes, which outgoing CIA director Leon Panetta has called "the only game in town in terms of confronting or trying to disrupt the al Qaeda leadership," will likely come to an end. Islamabad will also find new reasons to patch up its differences with erstwhile allies in the Taliban and other terrorist groups as a way of keeping its options open.

It strengthens the hand of Iran, which, as the Journal's Jay Solomon reported yesterday, "is moving to cement ties with the leaders of three key American allies—Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq—highlighting Tehran's efforts to take a greater role in the region as the U.S. military pulls out." As a demonstration of those ties, Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi paid a visit to Kabul last week to sign a bilateral security agreement. "We believe that expansion of joint defense and security cooperation with Iran is in favor of our interests," said his Afghan counterpart Abdulrahim Wardak.

It further weakens NATO, whose future is already in doubt given its inability to oust Moammar Gadhafi from Tripoli. In the last decade it became the fashion to say of the alliance that it was either "out of area"—meaning Europe—or "out of business." Leaving and losing Afghanistan spells the latter.

It gives Hamid Karzai opportunity and motive to reinvent himself as an anti-American leader. The Afghan president is already well on his way to forging a close political alliance with insurgent leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, who is believed to have given Osama bin Laden safe passage out of Afghanistan in 2001 and is wanted by the U.S. on a $25 million bounty. Mr. Karzai is said to be furious that the Obama administration made no effort to get a strategic forces agreement that would have left a residual U.S. force after 2014. "I think the reality of their complete withdrawal has struck home," Afghan Human Rights Commissioner Nader Nadery tells the Associated Press. "Now he sees they may go and they don't want a [military] presence here . . . and perhaps now he is thinking, 'Who will protect me?'"

It accelerates Afghanistan's barely suppressed, and invariably violent, centrifugal forces. There are already reports that the old Northern Alliance, which held out against the Taliban in the 1990s and took Kabul in 2001, may be reconstituting itself as a fighting force in anticipation of a hostile government in Kabul. This is a formula for civil, and perhaps regional, war; it is not clear what kind of "partnership" the U.S. could hope to build, as Mr. Obama promised to do, with whatever emerges from its ashes.

Finally, it signals that the United States, like Britain before it, is a waning power. In his speech last week, Mr. Obama waxed eloquent on the point that "what sets America apart is not solely our power—it is the principles upon which our union was founded." Very true. But a nation that abandons to the Taliban those it was once committed to protect shows that it lacks power and principle alike.

At the end of "Charlie Wilson's War," the film quotes the late congressman saying: "These things happened. They were glorious and they changed the world. . . . And then we f—ed up the endgame." To watch President Obama's Afghan policy unfold is to understand exactly what Wilson meant.

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« Reply #1021 on: June 29, 2011, 09:13:41 AM »

Uh oh: White House caught lying about Petraeus’s withdrawal recommendations?
Share280 posted at 9:16 pm on June 28, 2011 by Allahpundit
printer-friendly Terrific catch by Stephen Hayes from this afternoon’s Afghanistan testimony by Lt. Gen. John Allen. I can’t help but wonder: Why would the White House lie and claim that Obama’s withdrawal plan was within the range of options presented to him by Petraeus? I thought the next 18 months were going to be all about Obama going with his gut. Wingin’ it, if you will.
His gut told him that he needs to get reelected, and the easiest way to do that was to yank as many troops as possible out of the country no matter what it might mean for the war. That was the only “range of options” that mattered.
So he winged it.
In response to questioning from Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Allen testified that Obama’s decision on the pace and size of Afghanistan withdrawals was “a more aggressive option than that which was presented.”
Graham pressed him. “My question is: Was that a option?”
Allen: “It was not.”
Allen’s claim, which came under oath, contradicts the line the White House had been providing reporters over the past week—that Obama simply chose one option among several presented by General David Petraeus. In a conference call last Wednesday, June 22, a reporter asked senior Obama administration officials about those options. “Did General Petraeus specifically endorse this plan, or was it one of the options that General Petraeus gave to the president?”
The senior administration official twice claimed that the Obama decision was within the range of options the military presented to Obama.
Follow the link up top for a full transcript of what that senior administration official said last week. Are Hayes and I missing some nuance in the quotes? It’s one thing if the White House wants to squander the surge in the name of winning next year, but at least own it. Don’t use Petraeus as the fig leaf for a terrible, electorally motivated war “strategy.” Good lord.
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« Reply #1022 on: June 29, 2011, 08:31:38 PM »

Americans simply want to get out of Afghanistan.  It's hopeless.  Money and lives lost; for what?
It reminds me of Vietnam. We don't need another debacle. 

A Gallup poll this week showed 72% of Americans support Obama's withdrawal plan.
http://thehill.com/homenews/news/168937-poll-broad-majority-support-start-of-afghan-troop-withdrawal

An amazing number. Listen to the people.
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« Reply #1023 on: June 29, 2011, 08:35:49 PM »

Yeah, the dems cutting and running sure worked out well for our allies in Vietnam.
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« Reply #1024 on: June 29, 2011, 08:43:17 PM »

Yeah, but it sure would have worked out better for tens of thousands of American troops killed or injured.  Not to mention
the billions upon billions of dollars spent.  And the thousands of innocent Vietnamese killed.
Plus Viet Nam (our ally) was as corrupt as Afghanistan.  It's a losing proposition. Time to move on.  The French
figured that out, as did the Russians.  Why are we so slow?

And remember, Viet Nam is our ally now.  How about that?  If we "won" the war, what would we have won?
At the cost of more lives and money.
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« Reply #1025 on: June 29, 2011, 08:43:36 PM »

http://archive.frontpagemag.com/readArticle.aspx?ARTID=13274

How North Vietnam Won The War
By: Grunt.com
Grunt.com | Monday, April 26, 2004




What did the North Vietnamese leadership think of the American antiwar movement? What was the purpose of the Tet Offensive? How could the U.S. have been more successful in fighting the Vietnam War? Bui Tin, a former colonel in the North Vietnamese army, answers these questions in the following excerpts from an interview conducted by Stephen Young,  a Minnesota attorney and human-rights activist  [in The Wall Street Journal, 3 August 1995]. Bui Tin, who served on the general staff of North Vietnam's army, received the unconditional surrender of South Vietnam on April 30, 1975. He later became editor of the People's Daily, the official newspaper of Vietnam. He now lives in Paris, where he immigrated after becoming disillusioned with the fruits of Vietnamese communism.

Question: How did Hanoi intend to defeat the Americans?
 

Answer: By fighting a long war which would break their will to help South Vietnam. Ho Chi Minh said,
 



"We don't need to win military victories, we only need to hit them until they give up and get out."

 



Q: Was the American antiwar movement important to Hanoi's victory?
 



A:  It was essential to our strategy.  Support of the war from our rear was completely secure  while the American rear was vulnerable.  Every day our leadership would listen to world news over the radio at 9 a.m.  to follow the growth of the American antiwar movement.  Visits to Hanoi by people like Jane Fonda, and former Attorney General Ramsey Clark and ministers gave us confidence  that we should hold on  in the face of battlefield reverses. We were elated when Jane Fonda, wearing a red Vietnamese dress, said at a press conference that she was ashamed of American actions in the war and that she would struggle along with us.
 






Q: Did the Politburo pay attention to these visits?
 



A: Keenly.
 






Q: Why?
 



A: Those people represented the conscience of America. The conscience of America was part of its war-making capability, and we were turning that power in our favor. America lost because of its democracy; through dissent and protest it lost the ability to mobilize a will to win.
 






Q: How could the Americans have won the war?
 



A: Cut the Ho Chi Minh trail inside Laos. If Johnson had granted [Gen. William] Westmoreland's requests to enter Laos and block the Ho Chi Minh trail, Hanoi could not have won the war.
 






Q: Anything else?
 



A: Train South Vietnam's generals. The junior South Vietnamese officers were good, competent and courageous, but the commanding general officers were inept.
 






Q: Did Hanoi expect that the National Liberation Front would win power in South Vietnam?
 



A: No. Gen. [Vo Nguyen] Giap [commander of the North Vietnamese army] believed that guerrilla warfare was important but not sufficient for victory. Regular military divisions with artillery and armor would be needed. The Chinese believed in fighting only with guerrillas, but we had a different approach. The Chinese were reluctant to help us.  Soviet aid made the war possible. Le Duan [secretary general of the Vietnamese Communist Party] once told Mao Tse-tung that if you help us, we are sure to win; if you don't, we will still win, but we will have to sacrifice one or two million more soldiers to do so.
 






Q: Was the National Liberation Front an independent political movement of South Vietnamese?
 



A: No. It was set up by our Communist Party to implement a decision of the Third Party Congress of September 1960. We always said there was only one party, only one army in the war to liberate the South and unify the nation. At all times there was only one party commissar in command of the South.
 






Q: Why was the Ho Chi Minh trail so important?
 



A: It was the only way to bring sufficient military power to bear on the fighting in the South. Building and maintaining the trail was a huge effort, involving tens of thousands of soldiers, drivers, repair teams, medical stations, communication units.
 






Q: What of American bombing of the Ho Chi Minh trail?
 



A: Not very effective. Our operations were never compromised by attacks on the trail. At times, accurate B-52 strikes would cause real damage, but we put so much in at the top of the trail that enough men and weapons to prolong the war always came out the bottom. Bombing by smaller planes rarely hit significant targets.
 






Q: What of American bombing of North Vietnam?
 



A: If all the bombing had been concentrated at one time, it would have hurt our efforts. But the bombing was expanded in slow stages under Johnson and it didn't worry us. We had plenty of times to prepare alternative routes and facilities. We always had stockpiles of rice ready to feed the people for months if a harvest were damaged. The Soviets bought rice from Thailand for us.
 






Q: What was the purpose of the 1968 Tet Offensive?
 



A: To relieve the pressure Gen. Westmoreland was putting on us in late 1966 and 1967 and to weaken American resolve during a presidential election year.
 






Q: What about Gen. Westmoreland's strategy and tactics caused you concern?
 



A: Our senior commander in the South, Gen. Nguyen Chi Thanh, knew that we were losing base areas, control of the rural population and that his main forces were being pushed out to the borders of South Vietnam. He also worried that Westmoreland might receive permission to enter Laos and cut the Ho Chi Minh Trail.
 



In January 1967, after discussions with Le Duan, Thanh proposed the Tet Offensive. Thanh was the senior member of the Politburo in South Vietnam. He supervised the entire war effort. Thanh's struggle philosophy was that "America is wealthy but not resolute," and "squeeze tight to the American chest and attack." He was invited up to Hanoi for further discussions. He went on commercial flights with a false passport from Cambodia to Hong Kong and then to Hanoi. Only in July was his plan adopted by the leadership. Then Johnson had rejected Westmoreland's request for 200,000 more troops. We realized that America had made its maximum military commitment to the war. Vietnam was not sufficiently important for the United States to call up its reserves. We had stretched American power to a breaking point. When more frustration set in, all the Americans could do would be to withdraw; they had no more troops to send over.
 



Tet was designed to influence American public opinion. We would attack poorly defended parts of South Vietnam cities during a holiday and a truce when few South Vietnamese troops would be on duty. Before the main attack, we would entice American units to advance close to the borders, away from the cities. By attacking all South Vietnam's major cities, we would spread out our forces and neutralize the impact of American firepower. Attacking on a broad front, we would lose some battles but win others. We used local forces nearby each target to frustrate discovery of our plans. Small teams, like the one which attacked the U.S. Embassy in Saigon, would be sufficient. It was a guerrilla strategy of hit-and-run raids. [lloks like a re-writing of history with the benefit of hindsight]
 






Q: What about the results?
 



A: Our losses were staggering and a complete surprise;. Giap later told me that Tet had been a military defeat, though we had gained the planned political advantages when Johnson agreed to negotiate and did not run for re-election. The second and third waves in May and September were, in retrospect, mistakes. Our forces in the South were nearly wiped out by all the fighting in 1968. It took us until 1971 to re-establish our presence, but we had to use North Vietnamese troops as local guerrillas. If the American forces had not begun to withdraw under Nixon in 1969, they could have punished us severely. We suffered badly in 1969 and 1970 as it was.
 






Q: What of Nixon?
 



A: Well, when Nixon stepped down because of Watergate we knew we would win. Pham Van Dong [prime minister of North Vietnam] said of Gerald Ford, the new president, "he's the weakest president in U.S. history; the people didn't elect him; even if you gave him candy, he doesn't dare to intervene in Vietnam again." We tested Ford's resolve by attacking Phuoc Long in January 1975. When Ford kept American B-52's in their hangers, our leadership decided on a big offensive against South Vietnam.
 






Q: What else?
 



A: We had the impression that American commanders had their hands tied by political factors. Your generals could never deploy a maximum force for greatest military effect.
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« Reply #1026 on: June 29, 2011, 08:48:02 PM »

Yeah, but it sure would have worked out better for tens of thousands of American troops killed or injured.  Not to mention
the billions upon billions of dollars spent.  And the thousands of innocent Vietnamese killed.
Plus Viet Nam (our ally) was as corrupt as Afghanistan.  It's a losing proposition. Time to move on.  The French
figured that out, as did the Russians.  Why are we so slow?

And remember, Viet Nam is our ally now.  How about that?  If we "won" the war, what would we have won?
At the cost of more lives and money.

Hardly. The left was responsible for the asian holocaust they cheered on. Because of the dems, we left those who fought and bled beside us to be slaughtered along with their families while the "peace" movement celebrated. The current alliance of need from Vietnam doesn't bring those people back to life.
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« Reply #1027 on: June 29, 2011, 08:55:37 PM »

- FrontPage Magazine - http://frontpagemag.com -
 


Vietnam’s Legacy of Lies

Posted By Dennis Prager On February 15, 2011 @ 12:23 am In Afternoon Edition,Daily Mailer,FrontPage | 8 Comments



 
It was difficult to control my emotions — specifically, my anger — during my visit to Vietnam last week. The more I came to admire the Vietnamese people — their intelligence, love of life, dignity and hard work — the more rage I felt for the communists who brought them (and, of course, us Americans) so much suffering in the second half of the 20th century.
 
Unfortunately, communists still rule the country. Yet, Vietnam today has embraced the only way that exists to escape poverty, let alone to produce prosperity: capitalism and the free market. So what exactly did the 2 million Vietnamese who died in the Vietnam War die for? I would like to ask one of the communist bosses who run Vietnam that question. “Comrade, you have disowned everything your Communist party stood for: communal property, collectivized agriculture, central planning and militarism, among other things. Looking back, then, for what precisely did your beloved Ho Chi Minh and your party sacrifice millions of your fellow Vietnamese?”
 
There is no good answer. There are only a lie and a truth, and the truth is not good.
 
The lie is the response offered by the Vietnamese communists and which was repeated, like virtually all communist lies, by the world’s non-communist left. It was (and continues to be) taught in virtually every Western university and was and continues to be spread by virtually every news medium on the planet: The Vietnam communists, i.e., the North Vietnamese and the Viet Cong, were merely fighting for national independence against foreign control of their country.
 
First, they fought the French, then the Japanese and then the Americans. American baby boomers will remember being told over and over that Ho Chi Minh was Vietnam’s George Washington, that he loved the American Constitution, after which he modeled his own, and wanted nothing more than Vietnamese independence.
 
Here is the truth: Every communist dictator in the world has been a megalomaniacal, cult of personality, power hungry, bloodthirsty thug. Ho Chi Minh was no different. He murdered his opponents, tortured only God knows how many innocent Vietnamese, threatened millions into fighting for him — yes, for him and his blood soaked Vietnamese Communist Party, backed by the greatest murderer of all time, Mao Zedong. But the moral idiots in America chanted “Ho, ho, Ho Chi Minh” at antiwar rallies, and they depicted America as the real murderers of Vietnamese — “Hey, hey, LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?”
 
The Vietnamese communists were not fighting America for Vietnamese independence.


 




America was never interested in controlling the Vietnamese people, and there is a perfect parallel to prove this: the Korean War. Did America fight the Korean communists in order to control Korea? Or did 37,000 Americans die in Korea so that Koreans could be free? Who was (and remains) a freer human being — a Korean living under Korean communist rule in North Korea or a Korean living in that part of Korea where America defeated the Korean communists?
 
And who was a freer human being in Vietnam — those who lived in non-communist South Vietnam (with all its flaws) or those who lived under Ho, ho, Ho Chi Minh’s communists in North Vietnam?
 
America fights to liberate countries, not to rule over them. It was the Vietnamese Communist Party, not America, that was interested in controlling the Vietnamese people. But the lie was spread so widely and so effectively that most of the world — except American supporters of the war and the Vietnamese boat people and other Vietnamese who yearned for liberty — believed that America was fighting for tin, tungsten and the wholly fictitious “American empire” while the Vietnamese communists were fighting for Vietnamese freedom.
 
I went to the “Vietnam War Remnants Museum” — the Communist Party’s three-floor exhibit of anti-American photos. Nothing surprised me — not the absence of a single word critical of the communist North Vietnamese or of the Viet Cong; not a word about the widespread threats on the lives of anyone who did not fight for the communists; not a word about those who risked their lives to escape by boat, preferring to risk dying by drowning, being eaten by sharks or being tortured or gang-raped by pirates, rather than to live under the communists who “liberated” South Vietnam.
 
Equally unsurprising is that there is little difference between the history of the Vietnam War as told by the Communist Party of Vietnam and what just about any college student will be told in just about any college by just about any professor in America, Europe, Asia or Latin America.
 
I will end with the subject with which I began — the Vietnamese. It is impossible to visit Vietnam and not be impressed by the people. I hope I live to see the day when the people of Vietnam, freed from the communist lies that still permeate their daily lives, understand that every Vietnamese death in the war against America was a wasted life, one more of the 140 million human sacrifices on the altar of the most bloodthirsty false god in history: communism.
 
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Article printed from FrontPage Magazine: http://frontpagemag.com

URL to article: http://frontpagemag.com/2011/02/15/vietnams-legacy-of-lies/
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« Reply #1028 on: June 29, 2011, 09:11:48 PM »

No it doesn't bring them back to life.  As you have pointed out before, that is war.  But it saved thousands of American lives. 
And how many Vietnamese civilians did we kill?  Napalm hardly targets only the enemy.  Sure war is terrible.  But again, as you point out, that is war.

Not to mention the South Vietnam government was corrupt.

And frankly, Vietnam IS our ALLY now.  We do trade together.  How would it be different for us if we "won"? 
We never should have gotten involved. Just like Afghanistan. 
10's of thousands of american lives were lost and billions upon billions of dollars spent. For absolutely nothing. 

Again, in 10 years I predict we will ask the same question about Afghanistan.  I and most Americans say cut our loses.
Save American lives, save the money; we need it.
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« Reply #1029 on: June 29, 2011, 09:19:08 PM »

Vietnam is our ally because they hate the Chinese. So, should the lesson be that one should never trust the Americans, because they'll always abandon you and leave you and your families to die when the going gets tough?
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JDN
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« Reply #1030 on: June 29, 2011, 09:34:18 PM »

So you acknowledge Vietnam is already our ally.  So IF we had won the war, in the end, what does American gain?
Frankly, the answer is we are no better off.  We still have an peaceful ally - no more American lives lost
or threatened.  Vietnam is our "friend" now, just as they would be if we had won the war.

But this is the Afghanistan thread.  Yet I think it the same problem, the same worry that concerns most Americans.
American lives lost.  American dollars lost.  For what?
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G M
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« Reply #1031 on: June 29, 2011, 10:32:22 PM »

Yeah, Germany is our ally now, so we shouldn't have cared about that whole holocaust thing there, right?
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« Reply #1032 on: June 29, 2011, 11:17:50 PM »

No, there was a purpose to WWII; we fought with all we had and we fought to win.  It was important; nothing else mattered. 
And I am glad we did.  America in the end would have been threatened.

Our entering the war made a huge difference for the world AND for America's future.

But frankly as you phrase it, "that whole holocaust thing" truly terrible though it was, had very little if anything to do with us entering or fighting WWII.

And bad analogy; a victorious Germany under Hitler would be a very different Germany.  More important, it would be a threat to America.

In contrast, back to the topic, I doubt, regardless of who won/wins in Vietnam or Afghanistan if it will make much difference in the end for America. 
So why do it?  That's why an overwhelming percentage of America says get out of Afghanistan....
Save thousands of lives and billions of dollars.

Stop the needless wars and maybe we will balance the budget.  That's more important to me.

Generals since the beginning of time want more troops and more money.  I heard it in Korea, then Vietnam and I hear it now.
Somebody (the President) has to be practical and follow the will of the people and decide what's best for America.
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DougMacG
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« Reply #1033 on: June 30, 2011, 12:41:31 AM »

JDN to al Qaida (?): "Stop the needless wars and maybe we will balance the budget"... we need a leader "the President" [who will] follow... 

I think GM's point was that quite a bloodbath followed our exit in Vietnam.  A bit callous to say not our problem that perhaps 165,000 perished on our exit. Orange County Register 4/29/2001 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vietnam_War_casualties

We went to war against Hitler because they attacked us at Pearl Harbor...oops that isn't right.  I'm no WWII or Vietnam expert but Hitler's Germany was attacking and taking over countries.  Stalin, Kruchev and the Soviets were not peace loving people either, nor Mao.  The map of the 1960s was showing more and more red with the spread of communism.  Maybe we look back now and see Vietnam more as a civil war but I think JFK and LBJ saw it as another domino in a world falling to communism.  I think the point of the current wars was to give the current threat no safe harbor to launch from.
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« Reply #1034 on: June 30, 2011, 01:37:24 AM »

Lets see if we can continue the relevant points on the foreign affairs thread please.

Regarding Afpakia:

Baraq ran on a platform of Iraq being the wrong war and Afpakia being the right war.   Once elected he put his own man in, then ignored the war altogether until his own man said he hadn't heard from the President but once in six months and the military began a leak campaign that they needed more troops-- lots more.  Finally the Pravdas bestirred themselves a bit and thus provoked Baraq into months of Hamlet like dithering which yielded an even more incoherent policy than the one he inherited (and Bush's Afpakia strategy was pretty bad).  Solution:  Both surge and withdraw rolleyes rolleyes rolleyes leaving "an essential war of self-defense" in the hands of Karzai, the Afgan Army, and the Afghan police.  Of course, knowing we were leaving wouldn't affect anybody's behavior in the meantime , , ,  rolleyes   Despite what normal folks might consider an act of war by harboring OBL (and many, many other deeds of similar character) Pakistan is our ally , , , but we have kowtowed to Russia in numerous ways (e.g. abandoning eastern Europe) so we can depend on them as a supply line to Afghanistan and depend on them should we ever need to get into outer space.

Seen in this light, I can readily understand people saying "You've been dithering and fg up for 10 years and Baraq has already told everyone we are leaving-- just like we are leaving Iraq (begun by candidates Baraq and Hillary et al), and the middle east altogether.  We don't see a point in staying.  Whenever we leave it will be a clusterfcuk.  NO ONE is calling for going after Pak's nukes.  NO ONE is bringing to the table the level of understanding that our YA does.  Does anyone here see anyone whom they wish to follow in all this?

Then there are the points Stratfor makes about our overloaded bandwidth.  Of course Baraq will use the stampede for the exits as an exucse to get Panetta to further gut our capabilities in an increasingly likely to go sideways world.

And so the gathering clusterfcuk develops momentum , , ,
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ya
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« Reply #1035 on: July 01, 2011, 08:24:41 PM »

Even Colbert gets it..
http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/391148/june-30-2011/colbert-report--formidable-opponent---pakistan
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« Reply #1036 on: July 01, 2011, 09:12:00 PM »

Ya, In general I just want to say "thank you"!  You bring clarity and knowledge to a subject I know/knew nothing about.
I've learned a lot.  Thank you again.
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ya
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« Reply #1037 on: July 09, 2011, 05:14:04 PM »

JDN and others, thanks.

Here's some interesting stuff, about AQ Khan the nuclear proliferator, note in particular the link to NK letter.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/world/documents/north-korea-letter.html

If you are wondering, about the body, the story is here..http://www.fact.com.pk/archives/april/feng/spy.htm

and this too http://www.historycommons.org/context.jsp?item=aearly0698koreanwifeshot#aearly0698koreanwifeshot
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ya
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« Reply #1038 on: July 09, 2011, 05:46:41 PM »

If you are trying to understand the situation in Pak and having difficulty...and wondering why the US govt does not have a coherent policy..

Quotable from the web..
"The list of all who have declared Jihad in Pakistan against who all. Its not complete.
Muslims against Jews, Christians and Hindus.
Sunnis against Shias, Ahmedis and Sufis.
Shias against Sunnis.
Pashtoons against Mohajirs.
Mohajirs against Pashtoons.
`Commando` bodyguards against governors.
Taliban against Pakistan Army.
Pakistan Army against Taliban.
Pakistan Army against Balochi insurgents.
Pakistan army against terrorists.
Pakistan against USA, India and Israel.
Taliban against USA and India.
LeT/Al/Qaeda/JeM against the rest of the world.
Lashkar e Jhangvi against Shias........
....Pakistan is the first muslim country to have achieved such a comprehensive list of Jihaad declarations ."
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #1039 on: July 10, 2011, 01:44:13 PM »

That , , , was , , , awesome.
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G M
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« Reply #1040 on: July 10, 2011, 02:09:43 PM »

If you are trying to understand the situation in Pak and having difficulty...and wondering why the US govt does not have a coherent policy..

Quotable from the web..
"The list of all who have declared Jihad in Pakistan against who all. Its not complete.
Muslims against Jews, Christians and Hindus.
Sunnis against Shias, Ahmedis and Sufis.
Shias against Sunnis.
Pashtoons against Mohajirs.
Mohajirs against Pashtoons.
`Commando` bodyguards against governors.
Taliban against Pakistan Army.
Pakistan Army against Taliban.
Pakistan Army against Balochi insurgents.
Pakistan army against terrorists.
Pakistan against USA, India and Israel.
Taliban against USA and India.
LeT/Al/Qaeda/JeM against the rest of the world.
Lashkar e Jhangvi against Shias........
....Pakistan is the first muslim country to have achieved such a comprehensive list of Jihaad declarations ."

Wait, I though "jihad" meant some sort of internal spiritual struggle and had nothing to do with violence.  grin
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« Reply #1041 on: July 12, 2011, 05:09:38 AM »

July 12, 2011


DETAILS ON THE DEATH OF KARZAI'S BROTHER

Afghan President Hamid Karzai's younger brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai, was killed in
Kandahar on July 12 during a gathering in his house, Kandahar Governor Tooryali Wesa
confirmed. Initial reports remain sketchy but it is believed that the Afghan
leader's brother was killed by multiple gunshots to the head and chest with a AK-47
fired by Sardar Mohammad, a former bodyguard to Karzai's older brother Qayyoum.
Unconfirmed reports say that the assassin was immediately killed and Ahmad Wali's
body has been taken to Mirwais Civil Hospital. One of the two official spokesmen for
the Taliban, Qari Yousuf Ahmadi, told the German News Agency Deutsche Presse Agentur
that Ahmad Wali Karzai was killed by a Taliban sleeper agent.

This particular Karzai brother has escaped assassination attempts in the past. His
death comes as a major blow to President Karzai who depended on Ahmed Wali for
creating a social support base for the president in Kandahar province, the homeland
of the Taliban. Ahmed Wali's official position was head of the legislative council
in Kandahar, but he wielded a disproportionate amount of influence in the province
and the country at large, claiming close relations with a wide array of players
including the CIA, local Taliban elements and even drug lords. Despite his close
dealings with U.S. intelligence, American officials openly criticized Ahmed Wali in
2009, accusing him of corruption and being involved in the drug trade.

For President Karzai, the death of Ahmed Wali couldn't have come at a worse time.
The senior Karzai was already confronting the fact that U.S.-NATO forces have begun
working toward a withdrawal from the country and have engaged in talks with the
Taliban as well as neighboring Pakistan. The loss of his influential sibling further
weakens President Karzai's position in the south of Afghanistan and complicates
efforts to try and reach a negotiated settlement with the Taliban. 

Copyright 2011 STRATFOR.
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ya
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« Reply #1042 on: July 12, 2011, 07:23:35 PM »

This comes under the "`Commando` bodyguards against governors" category pf jihad.  evil

All over the region, the bodyguards are becoming suspect. The elites are sweating...there has been talk of hiring foreign body guards, since the locals cant be trusted. Soon the elites may start to leave the country (Pak)...once that happens the jihadis have won.
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G M
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« Reply #1043 on: July 13, 2011, 11:03:49 AM »

http://www.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/asiapcf/07/13/india.blasts/index.html?hpt=hp_t1

I'm sure Pakistan knows nothing about this, but would be willing to look into it for 500 billion or so.....
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ya
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« Reply #1044 on: July 13, 2011, 08:34:14 PM »

This (Mumbai bombing) was completely expected. So the game goes like this...
Uncle Sam is tightening the screws on the purelanders to do more with respect to AQ, as well as to mount an operation in N.Wazoostan. Pakis wont do it, because its against their national interests vis a vis India. So Uncle sam decided to withold funds (800 mill$), in response pakis threaten to withdraw troops from their  border with Afghanistan/FATA. Infact pakis have absolutely zero interest in doing uncle sam's bidding, because of the many jihadis who are members of the pak army. The problem is that the US does not want pakis to withdraw from the NWFP/FATA area, and if they withdraw, uncle sam will get even more pi$$ed off. So the only approach left for pak is to foment trouble in India via its proxies. They hope India will respond, or threaten to respond, which will allow pakis to withdraw from the afghan border to the border with India.

In the next few days, the US will call India to exercise restraint, and the indians will fume in impotent rage for a while....pakis will say india may attack and they need to protect the Indian border as opposed to the Afghan border, unless ofcourse US pays the 800 million$...so predictable.
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ya
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« Reply #1045 on: July 13, 2011, 08:49:32 PM »

http://www.investors.com/NewsAndAnalysis/Article.aspx?id=578077&p=1
Calling Pakistan's Bluff On Aid
 
Posted 07/12/2011 06:35 PM ET
War On Terror: Washington finally has done what it should have done years ago: deny aid to Islamabad unless it can show its cooperation is more than just a facade to milk the U.S. for more cash.

After Pakistan ordered U.S. military trainers out of the country — in retaliation for the clandestine raid on Osama bin Laden's compound — the administration held back $800 million in aid to the Pakistani military.

The cut amounts to only a third of promised aid this year. And it was measured. The lack of trainers means that planned U.S. equipment can't be put into service, reducing some of the needed aid.

The reaction from Islamabad was predictable. Its defense minister threatened to pull back troops from border areas where Islamist militants are active.

But Pakistan already has failed to deploy troops to the region as the U.S. has requested, which is another reason aid was withheld.

About $300 million from the trimmed aid was intended to reimburse Pakistan for the cost of deploying troops along the Afghan border.

Pakistan wasn't through huffing and bluffing. It said the financial snub would only push it into the arms of its "all-weather friend," China.

But it's already there. In fact, there is evidence U.S. aid has been fueling a dangerous nuclear pact between Pakistan and China.

At a cost of $2.4 billion, Islamabad is buying two 635-megawatt reactors from Beijing for its plutonium production complex at Chasma.

These are military reactors with the capability of adding 24 nuclear weapons a year to Pakistan's existing arsenal of some 90.

There's no explanation for how impoverished Pakistan is paying for these weapons-grade reactors except for the $20 billion in aid the U.S. has blank-checked Islamabad since 9/11. So it's fairly clear we are subsidizing the deal — against U.S. interests in the region, as well as the world.

Pakistan has led one of the most dangerous nuclear smuggling rings ever disclosed, stretching from North Korea to Iran and possibly to Saudi Arabia.

There is also evidence the Pakistani military is diverting U.S. aid to supply the Taliban with weapons and direct cash payments.

According to one report, Pakistani intelligence pays Taliban insurgents $2,000 for every IED bomb they plant, $2,000 for every Afghan army soldier they kill, $10,000 for every American soldier they kill, and $20,000 to the family of suicide bombers.

Still, a former Pakistani ambassador claims suspending aid will end up hurting Washington more than Islamabad.

"It will strengthen those elements in the armed forces that have always had grave misgivings of the relationship with the United States," Tariq Fatemi warned.

Sorry, that bluff is equally weak. Their armed forces are already seriously compromised.

A noted Pakistani journalist recently detailed a "sizable al-Qaida infiltration" within the Pakistani military.

"No one can separate Islam and Islamic sentiment from the armed forces of Pakistan," Syed Shahzad quoted a senior Pakistani military official saying in his investigative story for the Asia Times.

Days after he published his report in May, Shahzad's tortured body was discovered. Last week, U.S. Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the Pakistani government "sanctioned" the killing of the reporter.

More than 180 recently leaked intelligence files detail allegations that Pakistani intelligence has been aiding the insurgency in Afghanistan.

Support includes plots to train suicide bombers, smuggle surface-to-air missiles across the border, bomb the Indian Embassy in Kabul, and assassinate President Hamid Karzai and members of his administration.

U.S. officials say Pakistan provides direct support to two major groups carrying out attacks in Afghanistan: the Taliban based in Quetta, Pakistan, and the Haqqani group operating out of Pakistan's tribal region.

It's plain that Islamabad is playing both sides of the war on terror. Hold back the other two-thirds in aid.
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« Reply #1046 on: July 15, 2011, 11:15:27 AM »

The Afghanistan Withdrawal Creates A Complex Diplomatic Dynamic

Three blasts struck Mumbai, India’s financial hub, Wednesday, killing at least 21 people and injuring more than 100 others. The attacks took place on the same day Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha, head of Pakistan’s foreign intelligence service, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) directorate, was in Washington on an unannounced visit. These two developments come a day before the head of Afghanistan’s High Peace Council (which is supposed to lead talks with the Taliban), Burhanuddin Rabbani, is due to visit the Indian capital.

“With these state actors locked in a difficult dynamic, Islamist militant non-state actors allied with al Qaeda are trying to act as spoilers to U.S.-led regional efforts.”
These three seemingly disparate events are important in the frame of the U.S. strategy to withdraw NATO forces from Afghanistan. The withdrawal of Western forces from the southwest Asian nation requires the United States to maintain a difficult triangular balance between Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India. The United States and Pakistan must reconcile their differences on how to bring closure to the longest war in American history. The decades-old conflict between India and Pakistan also cannot be allowed to cloud the Western calculus for Afghanistan.

With these state actors locked in a difficult dynamic, Islamist militant non-state actors allied with al Qaeda are trying to act as spoilers to U.S.-led regional efforts. For al Qaeda and its South Asian allies, disrupting the American strategy is not only a means of countering their own existential issues but an opportunity to ensure that they can enhance their stature after Western forces pull out from Afghanistan. It is not clear whether Wednesday’s attacks were the work of al Qaeda-linked elements or local Indian Islamist militants. Nevertheless, the global jihadist network knows that the surest path toward their goals is reached by having Pakistan-based militants stage terrorist attacks in India, triggering an Indo-Pakistani conflict.

Washington, even as it tries to prevent such a scenario, must manage its unprecedented bilateral tensions with Pakistan. Washington and Islamabad should be jointly formulating an arrangement for post-NATO Afghanistan. However, this is not happening, at least not yet. The Obama administration is caught between the pragmatic need to work with Pakistan to achieve its goals in Afghanistan and idealistic ambitions of effecting a change in the Pakistani security establishment’s attitude toward Islamist militant proxies.

The ISI chief’s visit to Washington is an attempt by Pakistan to clear up misunderstandings and to try to get the Americans to appreciate the view from Islamabad. Pakistan does not want a Western exit from Afghanistan that exacerbates the jihadist insurgency within Pakistan’s borders.

While the Pakistanis work to sort out their problems with the Americans, India is concerned about its own regional security in post-NATO Afghanistan. Rabbani’s visit to the Indian capital is an important part of New Delhi’s efforts in this regard. Rabbani is the former Afghan president whose presidency was toppled when the Taliban captured Kabul in 1996 and he is the most senior leader of the country’s largest ethnic minority, the Tajiks. The Tajiks have long opposed Pakistan’s backing of Pashtun forces, the Talibs in particular. Although Rabbani recently paid an extensive visit to Pakistan in an effort to facilitate peace talks between Kabul and the Taliban, he remains closer to the Indians than to the Pakistanis.

For this reason, Rabbani’s trip to New Delhi will be of concern to Islamabad. The Pakistanis hope that what they perceive as a disproportionate amount of Indian influence in Afghanistan will sink to manageable levels after NATO forces leave. Conversely, India does not want to lose the leverage it has built over the past decade in Afghanistan.

Therefore, a three-way relationship exists that needs to find its natural balance. Such an equilibrium cannot just be conducive to a NATO withdrawal from Afghanistan; it must also prevent a regional conflagration after the U.S.-led Western troops have departed.
===========

Assassination May Create Leadership Void In Crucial Kandahar

Ahmed Wali Karzai, a Kandahar strongman and the half-brother of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, was shot and killed during a meeting July 12 by a security commander from Ahmed Wali’s hometown. Sadar Mohammad, the shooter, who was then killed by Karzai’s bodyguards, had long worked for the Karzai family. Both men were members of the Popolzai tribe, which belongs to the Pashtun, Afghanistan’s main ethnic group. Much speculation will center on the reasons for the shooting — whether it resulted, for instance, from a personal dispute, perhaps related to Ahmed Wali’s illicit activities, or from an infiltration by the Taliban (which the latter claims, as they do in many cases whether they are responsible or not). Ahmed Wali’s death is an important development, but it must be looked at in the appropriate context to be understood.

“President Hamid Karzai will seek a replacement able to maintain the existing networks and power structure, but Ahmed Wali’s charisma, clout and relationships make him tough to replace.”
Ahmed Wali was often accused of corruption, drug dealing and other illicit behavior, yet his brother gave him consistently unflinching support. This loyalty was not simply due to family connections but reflected the important role Ahmed Wali played in maintaining the presence and influence of his brother’s government in Kandahar province, the Taliban’s homeland. While he was not the actual governor, as chairman of the provincial council Ahmed Wali developed relationships with various power networks in the Pashtun region. He even interacted with the Taliban, both out of pragmatism and for personal gain.

Ahmed Wali spent years systematically developing networks to enhance his wealth and influence — and to some extent that of the Karzai regime. He had his hands in all business in the province — from the drug trade to facilitating the movement of resources from the United States. Many U.S. officials would like to think that weeding out corruption would help a viable government take root in Kandahar. However, that same convoluted system of personal networks is characteristic of Afghan politics and is essential to maintaining stability. Ahmed Wali’s success within this system ensured Hamid Karzai’s influence and presence on the Taliban’s core territory.

A reassessment of all local alliances is necessary in gauging the state of affairs in Kandahar province after Ahmed Wali’s killing. President Karzai will seek to appoint a successor able to maintain the existing networks and power structure, but Ahmed Wali’s charisma, clout and relationships make him tough to replace. Conversely, his death gives the Taliban an opportunity to compete for some of these networks — not to mention lucrative narcotics routes — and to fracture or divide others. Local warlords and businessmen will be deciding where to place their allegiance in order to maximize their positions, security and personal gain. This process can be particularly fluid in a country like Afghanistan, and the timing is especially delicate as the United States and its allies are beginning to draw down their forces in the region.

As the United States prepares to begin its withdrawal, the important question is how much authority the Karzai regime can maintain against Taliban forces in the Taliban’s ethnic, tribal and historical geographic core. Kandahar is a key indicator. With or without Ahmed Wali, Kandahar is where we can first expect the Taliban to gain influence when foreign troops leave. Without Ahmed Wali as a bulwark against their influence — and if a capable successor is not found — the Karzai regime’s ability to maintain control after a U.S. exit just got harder. Meanwhile, if the Taliban or other groups try and take Ahmed Wali’s networks, renewed instability and fighting in the south could make the U.S. drawdown more difficult.

If the Taliban can capitalize on this moment and fracture the Karzai power structure substantially, it would bring about an important shift at a time when the United States is attempting to reshape perceptions and redefine the war. As Washington attempts to initiate and then accelerate the drawdown, U.S. leadership is trying to negotiate with the Taliban through intermediaries. The loss of Ahmed Wali eliminates one such conduit and potentially increases U.S. dependence on Pakistani networks.

A STRATFOR source illustrated the tenuous situation created by the loss of Ahmed Wali. The source said that some locals working with the International Security Assistance Force, upon hearing of Ahmed Wali’s death, rushed to withdraw their money from Kabul Bank, a business over which he wielded substantial influence. The question now becomes whether the United States and the Karzai regime can maintain stability if the structure they have so painstakingly built begins to come apart. Ahmed Wali was no doubt important, but it is unclear how much the development and perpetuation of his networks depended on his personality. It remains to be seen whether the command, management and maintenance of the networks he built can be transitioned without significant maneuvering and fracturing . For the Karzai regime, the challenge is to fill the leadership void in the midst of the U.S. withdrawal. For the United States, it must handle negotiations with Pakistan to manage its withdrawal from Afghanistan.



« Last Edit: July 15, 2011, 11:32:44 AM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
ya
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« Reply #1047 on: July 15, 2011, 09:37:59 PM »

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/India-exercising-admirable-restraint-after-Mumbai-attacks-NYT/articleshow/9232341.cms

As predicted a  few posts back, "In the next few days, the US will call India to exercise restraint, and the indians will fume in impotent rage for a while....pakis will say india may attack and they need to protect the Indian border as opposed to the Afghan border, unless ofcourse US pays the 800 million$...so predictable."  
« Last Edit: July 15, 2011, 09:41:31 PM by ya » Logged
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« Reply #1048 on: July 15, 2011, 09:51:54 PM »

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304911104576445862242908294.html#printMode


Why My Father Hated India
Aatish Taseer, the son of an assassinated Pakistani leader, explains the history and hysteria behind a deadly relationship
By AATISH TASEER

Ten days before he was assassinated in January, my father, Salman Taseer, sent out a tweet about an Indian rocket that had come down over the Bay of Bengal: "Why does India make fools of themselves messing in space technology? Stick 2 bollywood my advice."

My father was the governor of Punjab, Pakistan's largest province, and his tweet, with its taunt at India's misfortune, would have delighted his many thousands of followers. It fed straight into Pakistan's unhealthy obsession with India, the country from which it was carved in 1947.


Though my father's attitude went down well in Pakistan, it had caused considerable tension between us. I am half-Indian, raised in Delhi by my Indian mother: India is a country that I consider my own. When my father was killed by one of his own bodyguards for defending a Christian woman accused of blasphemy, we had not spoken for three years.

To understand the Pakistani obsession with India, to get a sense of its special edge—its hysteria—it is necessary to understand the rejection of India, its culture and past, that lies at the heart of the idea of Pakistan. This is not merely an academic question. Pakistan's animus toward India is the cause of both its unwillingness to fight Islamic extremism and its active complicity in undermining the aims of its ostensible ally, the United States.

The idea of Pakistan was first seriously formulated by neither a cleric nor a politician but by a poet. In 1930, Muhammad Iqbal, addressing the All-India Muslim league, made the case for a state in which India's Muslims would realize their "political and ethical essence." Though he was always vague about what the new state would be, he was quite clear about what it would not be: the old pluralistic society of India, with its composite culture.

Iqbal's vision took concrete shape in August 1947. Despite the partition of British India, it had seemed at first that there would be no transfer of populations. But violence erupted, and it quickly became clear that in the new homeland for India's Muslims, there would be no place for its non-Muslim communities. Pakistan and India came into being at the cost of a million lives and the largest migration in history.

This shared experience of carnage and loss is the foundation of the modern relationship between the two countries. In human terms, it meant that each of my parents, my father in Pakistan and my mother in India, grew up around symmetrically violent stories of uprooting and homelessness.


Rex USA
Salman Taseer, governor of Pakistan's Punjab province, in May 2009. He was assassinated in January 2011.

But in Pakistan, the partition had another, deeper meaning. It raised big questions, in cultural and civilizational terms, about what its separation from India would mean.

In the absence of a true national identity, Pakistan defined itself by its opposition to India. It turned its back on all that had been common between Muslims and non-Muslims in the era before partition. Everything came under suspicion, from dress to customs to festivals, marriage rituals and literature. The new country set itself the task of erasing its association with the subcontinent, an association that many came to view as a contamination.

Had this assertion of national identity meant the casting out of something alien or foreign in favor of an organic or homegrown identity, it might have had an empowering effect. What made it self-wounding, even nihilistic, was that Pakistan, by asserting a new Arabized Islamic identity, rejected its own local and regional culture. In trying to turn its back on its shared past with India, Pakistan turned its back on itself.

But there was one problem: India was just across the border, and it was still its composite, pluralistic self, a place where nearly as many Muslims lived as in Pakistan. It was a daily reminder of the past that Pakistan had tried to erase.

Pakistan's existential confusion made itself apparent in the political turmoil of the decades after partition. The state failed to perform a single legal transfer of power; coups were commonplace. And yet, in 1980, my father would still have felt that the partition had not been a mistake, for one critical reason: India, for all its democracy and pluralism, was an economic disaster.

Pakistan had better roads, better cars; Pakistani businesses were thriving; its citizens could take foreign currency abroad. Compared with starving, socialist India, they were on much surer ground. So what if India had democracy? It had brought nothing but drought and famine.

But in the early 1990s, a reversal began to occur in the fortunes of the two countries. The advantage that Pakistan had seemed to enjoy in the years after independence evaporated, as it became clear that the quest to rid itself of its Indian identity had come at a price: the emergence of a new and dangerous brand of Islam.

As India rose, thanks to economic liberalization, Pakistan withered. The country that had begun as a poet's utopia was reduced to ruin and insolvency.

The primary agent of this decline has been the Pakistani army. The beneficiary of vast amounts of American assistance and money—$11 billion since 9/11—the military has diverted a significant amount of these resources to arming itself against India. In Afghanistan, it has sought neither security nor stability but rather a backyard, which—once the Americans leave—might provide Pakistan with "strategic depth" against India.

In order to realize these objectives, the Pakistani army has led the U.S. in a dance, in which it had to be seen to be fighting the war on terror, but never so much as to actually win it, for its extension meant the continuing flow of American money. All this time the army kept alive a double game, in which some terror was fought and some—such as Laskhar-e-Tayyba's 2008 attack on Mumbai—actively supported.

The army's duplicity was exposed decisively this May, with the killing of Osama bin Laden in the garrison town of Abbottabad. It was only the last and most incriminating charge against an institution whose activities over the years have included the creation of the Taliban, the financing of international terrorism and the running of a lucrative trade in nuclear secrets.

This army, whose might has always been justified by the imaginary threat from India, has been more harmful to Pakistan than to anybody else. It has consumed annually a quarter of the country's wealth, undermined one civilian government after another and enriched itself through a range of economic interests, from bakeries and shopping malls to huge property holdings.

The reversal in the fortunes of the two countries—India's sudden prosperity and cultural power, seen next to the calamity of Muhammad Iqbal's unrealized utopia—is what explains the bitterness of my father's tweet just days before he died. It captures the rage of being forced to reject a culture of which you feel effortlessly a part—a culture that Pakistanis, via Bollywood, experience daily in their homes.

This rage is what makes it impossible to reduce Pakistan's obsession with India to matters of security or a land dispute in Kashmir. It can heal only when the wounds of 1947 are healed. And it should provoke no triumphalism in India, for behind the bluster and the bravado, there is arid pain and sadness.
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ya
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« Reply #1049 on: July 16, 2011, 09:40:31 AM »

Yes there will be consequences to a US withdrawl, but unless the US is willing to tackle Pak and focus on Pak....its not worthwhile to stay in Afghanistan, IMHO.  The paki contribution to US body bags needs to be stopped, or we should come back. The other important development that is only briefly alluded to are the voices suggesting division of Afghanistan. The handling of the Pashtoon "problem", ie the artificial demarcation by the Durrand line, is key to controlling Pak. Its not Kashmir which many westerners and Pak keeps alluding to. Even the Kashmiris in Pak occupied Kashmir dont want to merge with Pak, leave alone those from India. I anticipate, in the coming year(s), this issue will gain more interest and comment in the media. Pakistan is scared $hit, as to what will happen if the pashtoons unite on both side of the Durrand line.

http://www.dailypioneer.com/350926/Made-in-US-disaster.html


Made in US disaster
July 05, 2011   11:18:33 PM

Ashok K Mehta

As the Americans flounder for an exit from the Afghan mess, India must be prepared for a precipitate and irresponsible US withdrawal.

The multiple suicide attack last week against Hotel Intercontinental perched on a hillock on the western edge of Kabul when Provincial Governors were meeting to chart out Afghanisation’s security reflects holes in capability of the Afghan National Security Forces. Not a single battalion of the Army can operate independently.

I stayed at the Intercontinental last year for a conference and wondered how the Taliban might storm the hotel. Of the three security checks along the road two were lightly held with armed guards. The third with X-ray machines was virtually in the hotel. But the rest of the area seemed uncovered, especially the slopes to the hill top. That’s where they came from and not along the road. The Taliban are both great improvisers and innovators, routinely springing new tricks and not afraid to die.

This setback will not derail the phased withdrawal beginning this month of the 33,000 US surge troops who will be out in 15 months. The remaining 70,000 troops are to deinduct by 2014. The politically choreographed drawdown is premised on preservation of gains of the surge. America’s Nato partners, except the UK, have earlier exit schedules which are to be finalised at the Chicago Nato summit next year.

US President Barack Obama’s 13-minute speech outlining the withdrawal marks the end of phase one of the war, a shift from counter-insurgency to counter-terrorism and from combat to combat support of the ANSF. The new US counter-terrorism strategy document released last week lays emphasis on raids and drone strikes.

The illusion of success has been buoyed by the dramatic elimination of Osama bin Laden and the annihilation of the Al Qaeda leadership, whereas opposition to foreign forces is from Al Qaeda’s affiliates, the Taliban. They too, have been degraded, some 2000 killed (700 middle-level commanders) and 4,000 captured, but nearly 80 per cent were civilians. Mr Obama characterised these ephemeral gains as “tide of war receding and drawdown from a position of strength”.

The core of Mr Obama’s assessment was embedded in two stark admissions: “We will not try to make Afghanistan a perfect place” and “nation-building has to be done at home facing rising debt and hard economic times”. The war cost of $12 billion annually and 30 to 40 body bags (in June there were 44) with nearly twice that number wounded monthly is politically unsustainable.

So how does Mr Obama hope to reduce American footprint, withdraw responsibly and leave behind a minimally stable Afghanistan? The key to transition — two small provinces and five urban centres, including Kabul, are to be handed over starting this month — is a capable and motivated ANSF. By October 2011, the Army will be 170,000-strong, to reach 240,000 by next year, optimally equipped with Nato class of weapons. Currently 70,000, the police force will increase to 130,000 but is terribly under-resourced. Too many countries are involved in their training and confusion obtains on whether it is to be CIS or policing. Interestingly, Pakistan’s hopes of a weak and sterile ANSF may turn out to be real.

A political settlement entailing power-sharing with the Taliban requires reintegration and reconciliation. Reintegration has proved more successful than reconciliation with nearly 2,000 rank and file Taliban reportedly brought overground. Response to reconciliation has been tardy despite claims of conversations with Mullah Omar’s aides, including some Taliban imposters. Here, too, many countries are involved: Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the US, the UK and Germany which is coordinating the talks.

Mullah Omar has posted in mosques in southern Afghanistan warnings of death to anyone who talks to the Government. And why will Pakistan, which wants to be part of the solution and not the problem, be left out of reconciliation, as it has been so far? In February 2010, Quetta Shura’s number two, Mullah Biradar, was arrested in Karachi by the ISI and Gen Ahmad Shuja Pasha has ensured Mullah Omar’s relocation after the Osama bin Laden plucking. Both former US Defence Secretary Robert Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have said the Taliban will not engage in serious and fruitful talks. The Afghans feel that for serious reconciliation the surge has to continue — otherwise even if an agreement is reached its implementation is unlikely.

Against this background the recently established Pakistan-Afghanistan Joint Commission on Reconciliation and Joint Task Force on Infiltration are as good as the India-Pakistan Joint Anti-Terror Mechanism: Good only for the joint statement. Similarly, at the counter-terrorism summit in Tehran last week, the Presidents of Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan resolved to collectively fight militancy and oppose foreign interference — both aspirational goals.

The third element of the US exit strategy is turning the focus of operations from Afghanistan to Pakistan, reversing AfPak to PakAf, to neutralise Taliban sanctuaries inside Pakistan. In 2001, Pakistan was the base for the American war in Afghanistan; now it could be the opposite.

Cajoling and coercing Pakistan to act against its strategic assets will be the trickiest bit. Already the reverse is happening. Pakistan has asked the US to withdraw its trainers, close down drone bases, recall CIA operatives and the whole works. General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani is very angry the Army’s nose has been rubbed on the ground after the Osama bin Laden episode. He’s under extreme pressure from the conclave of Corps Commanders, political opposition and the public to punish the Americans.

As Pakistan is unlikely to cooperate easily, the frequency of drone attacks from Afghanistan will increase, prompting Islamabad to take up the legality of cross-border aerial attacks with Kabul and, who knows, the UN too. With US-Pakistan relations plummeting, training and capability of the ANSF under a cloud and good governance and a political settlement out of sight, Mr Obama’s exit strategy is as unworkable as Mr Henry Kissinger’s latest prescription in The International Herald Tribune: A ceasefire, withdrawal, coalition Government and an enforcing mechanism.

Already voices in the US suggest accelerated transition and division of Afghanistan if necessary. While the Americans are barking up the wrong tree, India must be prepared for a precipitate and irresponsible US withdrawal. Afghans want India to punch up to its weight without being inhibited by American and Pakistani sensitivities to a more proactive role. India must engage the Taliban and offer to equip and train the ANSF. But Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said last week in Washington, DC that India will not get involved in a security role. A rethink is required as was done on reintegration and reconciliation.
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