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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #700 on: June 29, 2010, 09:01:00 PM »

http://www.worldsecuritynetwork.com/showArticle3.cfm?article_id=18304
Down the Orwellian memory hole, eh?  How perfect.

Changing subjects, here's this piece which comes recommended by an Indian friend who has sent many good things my way over the years.  Note the congruity with what I suggested the other day-- though my suggestion (Pashtunistan) sought the fragmentation/dissolution of Pakistan, here the other side of the coin is that if our current strategy is really applied, Pakistan's current incarnation will not survive.

============================

http://www.worldsecuritynetwork.com/showArticle3.cfm?article_id=18304


All Kayani's Men
written by: Anatol Lieven, 02-Jun-10

 
VOLTAIRE REMARKED of Frederick the Great's Prussia that "where .some states have an army, the Prussian Army has a state!" The same can easily be said of Pakistan. The destruction of the army would mean the destruction of the country. Yet this is something that the Pakistani Taliban and their allies can never achieve. Only the United States is capable of such a feat; if Washington ever takes actions that persuade ordinary Pakistani soldiers that their only honorable course is to fight America, even against the orders of their generals and against dreadful odds, the armed forces would crumble.

There is an understanding in Washington that while short-term calculations demand some kind of success in Afghanistan, in the longer run, Pakistan, with its vastly greater size, huge army, nuclear weapons and large diaspora, is a much more important country, and a much greater threat should it in fact succumb to its inner demons. The collapse of Pakistan would so vastly increase the power of Islamist extremism as to constitute a strategic defeat in the "war on terror."

The Pakistani military is crucial to preventing such a disaster because it is the only state institution that works as it is officially meant to. This means, however, that it also repeatedly does something that it is not meant to-namely, overthrow what in Pakistan is called "democracy" and seize control of the government. The military has therefore been seen as extremely bad for Pakistan's progress, at least if that progress is to be defined in standard Western terms.

Yet, it has also always been true that without a strong military, Pakistan would probably have long since disintegrated. That is truer than ever today, as the country faces the powerful insurgency of the Pakistani Taliban and their allies. That threat makes the unity and discipline of the army of paramount importance to Pakistan and the world-all the more so because the deep dislike of U.S. strategy among the vast majority of Pakistanis has made even the limited alliance between the Pakistani military and the United States extremely unpopular in general society and among many soldiers. Those soldiers' superiors fully understand the importance of this alliance to Pakistan and the disastrous consequences for the country if it were to collapse.

The Pakistani army is a highly disciplined and professional institution, and the soldiers will continue to obey their generals' orders. Given their basic feelings, however, it would be unwise to push the infantrymen too far. One way of doing this would be to further extend the U.S. drone campaign by expanding it from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) to Baluchistan. Much more disastrous would be any resumption of U.S. ground raids into Pakistani territory, such as occurred briefly in the summer of 2008.

TO UNDERSTAND this somewhat-counterintuitive (at least to Western audiences) prescription, a close look inside the military is necessary. In essence, the armed forces' success as an institution and its power over the country come from its immunity to kinship interests and the corruption they bring with them; but the military has only been able to achieve this immunity by turning into a sort of giant kinship group itself, extracting patronage from the state and distributing it to its members.

During my journeys to Pakistan over the years, I have observed how the Pakistani military, even more than most armed forces, sees itself as a breed apart, and devotes great effort to inculcating new recruits with the feeling that they belong to a military family different from (and vastly superior to) civilian society. The mainly middle-class composition of the officer corps increases contempt for the "feudal" political class. The army sees itself as both morally superior to this group and far more modern, progressive and better educated.

Pakistani politics is dominated by wealth and inherited status, whereas the officer corps has become increasingly egalitarian and provides opportunities for social mobility that the Pakistani economy cannot. As such, a position in the officer corps is immensely prized by the sons of shopkeepers and big farmers across Punjab and the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP). This allows the military to pick the very best recruits and increases their sense of belonging to an elite. In the last years of British rule, circa 1947, and the first years of Pakistan, most officers were recruited from the landed gentry and upper-middle classes. These are still represented by figures like former-Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Jehangir Karamat, who, perhaps most tellingly, is the former president of the Pakistan Polo Association; but a much more typical figure is the current COAS, General Ashfaq Kayani, the son of an NCO. This social change partly reflects the withdrawal of the upper-middle classes to more comfortable professions, but also the immense increase in the quantity of officers required in the military as a result of its vast expansion since independence.

A number of officers and members of military families have told me something to the effect that "the officers' mess is the most democratic institution in Pakistan because its members are superior and junior during the day, but in the evening are comrades. That is something we have inherited from the British."

This may seem like a ludicrous statement, until one remembers that in Pakistan, saying that something is the most spiritually democratic institution isn't saying very much at all. Pakistani society is permeated by a culture of deference to superiors.

Islamabad's dynastically ruled "democratic" political parties exemplify this subservience in the face of inheritance and wealth; while in the army, as an officer told me:

You rise on merit-well, mostly-not by inheritance, and you salute the military rank and not the sardar [tribal chieftain and great landowner] or pir [hereditary religious figure] who has inherited his position from his father, or the businessman's money. These days, many of the generals are the sons of clerks and shopkeepers, or if they are from military families, they are the sons of havildars [NCOs]. It doesn't matter. The point is that they are generals.

Meanwhile, the political parties continue to be dominated by "feudal" landowners and wealthy urban bosses, many of them not just corrupt but barely educated. This increases the sense of superiority in the officer corps has toward the politicians-something I have heard from many officers (and which was very marked in General Pervez Musharraf's personal contempt for the late Benazir Bhutto and her husband, the current president).

This same disdain for the country's civilian political leadership is widely present in Pakistani society as a whole, and has become dominant at regular intervals, leading to mass popular support for military coups. Indeed, it is sadly true that whatever the feelings of the population later, when each military coup initially occurred, it was popular with most Pakistanis-including the media-and was subsequently legitimized by the judiciary.

It is possible that developments since 2001 have changed this pattern, above all because of the new importance of the independent judiciary and media, and the way that the military's role in both government and the unpopular war with the Pakistani Taliban has tarnished its image with many Pakistanis. However, it is not yet clear that such a sea change has definitively taken place. Whether or not it eventually does depends in large part on how Pakistani civilian governments perform in the future.

By the summer of 2009-only a year after the resignation of then-President Musharraf, who had seized power from the civilian government of Nawaz Sharif in 1999-many Pakistanis of my acquaintance, especially in the business classes, were once again calling for the military to step in and oust the civilian administration of President Asif Ali Zardari; not necessarily to take over themselves, but to purge the most corrupt politicians and create a government of national unity (or, at the very least, a caretaker administration of technocrats).

AS THE military has become more egalitarian, the less-secular have filled its ranks. This social change in the officer corps over the decades has caused many in the West to fear that the army is becoming "Islamized," leading to the danger that the institution as a whole might support Islamist revolution, particularly as the civilian government falters. More dangerously, there might be a mutiny by Islamist junior officers against the high command. These dangers do exist, but in my view, the absolutely key point is that only a direct attack on Pakistan by the United States could bring them to fruition.

Westerners must realize that commitment to the army, and to martial unity and discipline, is drilled into every officer and soldier from the first hour of their joining the military. Together with the material rewards of loyal service, it constitutes a very powerful obstacle to any thought of a coup from below, which would by definition split the army and very likely destroy it altogether. Every military coup in Pakistan has therefore been carried out by the chief of army staff, backed by a consensus of the corps commanders and the rest of the high command. Islamist conspiracies by junior officers against their superiors (of which there have been two over the past generation) have been penetrated and smashed by Military Intelligence.

It is obviously true that as the officer corps becomes lower-middle class, so its members become less Westernized and more religious-after all, the vast majority of Pakistan's population is conservative Muslim. However, it is made up of many different kinds of orthodox Muslim, and this is also true of the officer corps.

In the 1980s, then-President of Pakistan and Chief of Army Staff General Zia ul-Haq did undertake measures to make the army more Islamic, and subsequently, a good many officers who wanted a promotion adopted an Islamic facade. Zia also encouraged Islamic preaching within the army, notably by the Tablighi Jamaat, a nonviolent, nonpartisan but fundamentalist group dedicated to Islamic proselytizing and charity work. But, as the career of the notoriously secular General Musharraf indicates, this did not lead to known secular generals being blocked from promotion; and in the 1990s, especially under Musharraf, most of Zia's measures were rolled back. In recent years, preaching by the Tablighi has been strongly discouraged, not so much because of political fears (the Tablighi is determinedly apolitical) as because of instinctive opposition to any groups that might encourage factions among officers and loyalties to anything other than the army.

Of course, the Pakistani military has always gone into battle with the cry of Allahu Akbar (God is Great)-just as the imperial-era German army inscribed Gott mit Uns(God with Us) on its helmets and standards; but according to Colonel Abdul Qayyum, a retired, moderate-Islamist officer:

You shouldn't use bits of Islam to raise military discipline, morale and so on. I'm sorry to say that this is the way it has always been used in the Pakistani army. It is our equivalent of rum-the generals use it to get their men to launch suicidal attacks. But there is no such thing as a powerful jihadi group within the army. Of course, there are many devoutly Muslim officers and jawans [enlisted troops], but at heart the vast majority of the army are nationalists, and take whatever is useful from Islam to serve what they see as Pakistan's interests. The Pakistani army has been a nationalist army with an Islamic look.

On the whole, by far the most important aspect of a Pakistani officer's identity is that he (or sometimes she) is an officer. The Pakistani military is a profoundly shaping influence as far as its members are concerned. This can be seen, among other places, in the social origins and personal habits of its chiefs of staff and Pakistan's military rulers over the years. It would be hard to find a more different set of men than generals Ayub Khan, Yahya Khan, Zia ul-Haq, Pervez Musharraf, Mirza Aslam Beg, Jehangir Karamat and Ashfaq Kayani in terms of their social origins, personal characters and attitudes toward religion; some were rich others poor, some secular others religious and some conspiratorial others loyal. Yet all have been first and foremost military men.

This means in turn that their ideology is largely one of nationalism. The military is tied to Pakistan, not to the universal Muslim ummah of the radical Islamists' dreams; tied not only by sentiment and ideology but also by the reality of what supports the army. If it is true, as so many officers have told me, that "no army, no Pakistan," it is equally true that "no Pakistan, no army."
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #701 on: June 29, 2010, 09:01:54 PM »

AMERICAN OPERATIONS in South Asia, however, are threatening to upset this fragile balance between Islam and nationalism in the Pakistani military. The army's members can hardly avoid sharing the broader population's bitter hostility to U.S. policy. To judge by retired and serving officers, this includes the genuine conviction that either the Bush administration or Israel was responsible for 9/11. Inevitably therefore, there was deep opposition throughout the army after 2001 to American pressure to crack down on the Afghan Taliban and their Pakistani sympathizers. "We are being ordered to launch a Pakistani civil war for the sake of America," an officer told me in 2002. "Why on earth should we? Why should we commit suicide for you?"

Between 2004 and 2007, there were a number of instances of mass desertion and refusal to serve in units deployed to fight militants, though mostly in the Pashtun-recruited Frontier Corps rather than in the regular army. These failures were caused above all by the feeling that these forces were compelled to turn against their own. We must realize in these morally and psychologically testing circumstances, anything that helps maintain Pakistani military discipline cannot be altogether bad-given the immense scale of the stakes concerned, and the consequences if that discipline were to fail.

For in 2007-2008, the battle was beginning to cause serious problems of morale. The most dangerous single thing I heard during my visits to Pakistan in those years was that soldiers' families in villages in the NWFP and the Potwar region of the Punjab were finding it increasingly difficult to find high-status brides for their sons serving in the military because of the growing popular feeling that "the army is the slave of the Americans" and "the soldiers are killing fellow Muslims on America's orders."

By late 2009, the sheer number of soldiers killed by the Pakistani Taliban and their allies, and still more importantly, the increasingly murderous and indiscriminate Pakistani Taliban attacks on civilians, seem to have produced a change of mood in the areas of military recruitment. Nonetheless, if the Pakistani Taliban are increasingly unpopular, that does not make the United States any more well liked; and if Washington ever put Pakistani soldiers in a position where they felt that honor and patriotism required them to fight America, many would be willing to do so.

And we have seen this willingness before. In August and September 2008, U.S. forces entered Pakistan's tribal areas on two occasions in order to raid suspected Taliban and al-Qaeda bases. During the second incursion, Pakistani soldiers fired in the air to turn the Americans back. On September 19, 2008, General Kayani flew to meet U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen on the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, and, in the words of a senior Pakistani general, "gave him the toughest possible warning about what would happen if this were repeated."

Pakistani officers from captain to lieutenant general have told me that the entry of U.S. ground forces into Pakistan in pursuit of the Taliban and al-Qaeda is an incredibly dangerous scenario, as it would put both Pakistan-U.S. relations and the unity of the army at risk. As one retired general explained, drone attacks on Pakistani territory, though humiliating for the ordinary officers and soldiers, are not the critical issue. What would create a military overthrow takes more:

U.S. ground forces inside Pakistan are a different matter, because the soldiers can do something about them. They can fight. And if they don't fight, they will feel utterly humiliated, before their wives, mothers, children. It would be a matter of honor, which as you know is a tremendous thing in our society. These men have sworn an oath to defend Pakistani soil. So they would fight. And if the generals told them not to fight, many of them would mutiny, starting with the Frontier Corps.

At this point, not just Islamist radicals, but every malcontent in the country would join the mutineers, and the disintegration of Pakistan would become imminent.

THERE IS a further complication. Of course, the Pakistani military has played a part in encouraging Islamist insurgents. The army maintains links with military and jihadi groups focused on fighting India (its perennial obsession). Contrary to what many believe, the military's support of these actors has not been based on ideology. The bulk of the high command (including General Musharraf, who is by no conceivable stretch of the imagination an Islamist) has used these groups in a purely instrumental way against New Delhi with Pakistani Muslim nationalism as the driver. But this doesn't mean balancing these relationships with U.S. demands will be easy.

Since 2002, the military has acted to rein in these groups, while at the same time keeping some of them (notably Lashkar-e-Taiba, responsible for the 2008 terrorist attacks against Mumbai) on the shelf for possible future use against India should hostilities between the two countries resume. Undoubtedly, however, some lower-level officers of the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), responsible for "handling" these groups, have developed close affinities for them and have contributed to their recent operations. The ISI's long association with the militants, first in Afghanistan and then in Kashmir, had led some ISI officers to have a close personal identification with the forces that they were supposed to be controlling.

The high command, moreover, is genuinely concerned that if it attacks some of these groups, it will drive them into joining the Pakistani Taliban-as has already occurred with sections of the Jaish-e-Muhammad, suspected in the attempts to assassinate Musharraf in December 2003 (apparently with low-level help from within the armed forces).

This leads to a whole set of interlocking questions: How far does the Pakistani high command continue to back certain militant groups? How far does the command of the ISI follow a strategy independent from that of the military? And how far have individual ISI officers escaped from the control of their superiors and supported and planned terrorist actions on their own? And this leads to the even-more-vital question of how far the Pakistani military is penetrated by Islamist extremist elements, and whether there is any possibility of these groups carrying out a successful military coup from below.

Since this whole field is obviously kept very secret by the institutions concerned (including Military Intelligence, which monitors the political and ideological allegiances of officers), there are no definitive answers. What follows is informed guesswork based on numerous discussions with experts and off-the-record talks with Pakistani officers, including retired members of the ISI.

Concerning the ISI, the consensus of my informants is as follows: There is considerable resentment of the organization in the rest of the military due to its perceived arrogance and suspected corruption. However, when it comes to overall strategy, the ISI follows the line of the high command. It is, after all, always headed by a senior regular general, not a professional intelligence officer, and a majority of its officers are also seconded regulars. General Kayani was director of the ISI from 2004-2007 and ordered a limited crackdown on jihadi groups that the ISI had previously supported. As to the military's attitude toward the Afghan Taliban, the army and the ISI are as one, and the evidence is unequivocal: both groups continue to give them shelter, and there is deep unwillingness to take serious action against them on America's behalf, both because it is feared that this would increase the potential for a Pashtun insurgency in Pakistan and because they are seen as the only assets Pakistan possesses in Afghanistan. The conviction in the Pakistani security establishment is that the West will quit Kabul, leaving civil war behind, and that India will then throw its weight behind the non-Pashtun forces of the former Northern Alliance in order to encircle Pakistan strategically.

This attitude changes, however, when it comes to the Pakistani Taliban and their allies. The military as a whole and the ISI are now committed to the struggle against them, and by the end of 2009, the ISI had lost more than seventy of its officers in this fight-some ten times the number of CIA officers killed since 9/11, just as Pakistani military casualties fighting the Pakistani Taliban have greatly exceeded those of the United States in Afghanistan. Equally, however, in 2007-2008 there were a great many stories of ISI officers intervening to rescue individual Taliban commanders from arrest by the police or the army-too many, and too circumstantial, for these all to have been invented.

It seems clear, therefore, that whether because some ISI officers felt a personal commitment to these men, or because the institution as a whole still regarded them as potentially useful, actions were taking place that were against overall military policy-let alone that of the Pakistani government. As well, some of these Islamist insurgents had at least indirect links to al-Qaeda. This does not mean that the ISI knows where Osama bin Laden (if he is indeed still alive), Ayman al-Zawahri and other al-Qaeda leaders are hiding. But it does suggest that they could probably do a good deal more to find out.

However, for Islamist terrorists who wish to carry out attacks against India, ISI help is not necessary (though it has certainly occurred in the past). The discontent of sections of India's Muslim minority (increased by ghastly incidents like the massacres of Muslims in Gujarat in 2002, and encouraged by the Hindu nationalist state government) gives ample possibilities for recruitment; the sheer size of India, coupled with the incompetence of the Indian security forces, give ample targets of opportunity; and the desire to provoke an Indian attack on Pakistan gives ample motive. But whether or not the ISI is involved in future attacks, India will certainly blame Pakistan for them.

This creates the real possibility of a range of harsh Indian responses, stretching from economic pressure through blockade to outright war. Such a war would in the short term unite Pakistanis and greatly increase the morale of the army. The long-term consequences for Pakistan's economic development would, however, be quite disastrous. And if the United States were perceived to back India in such a war, anti-American feelings and extremist recruitment in Pakistan would soar to new heights. All of this gives the United States every reason to push the Pakistani military to suppress some extremist groups and keep others on a very tight rein. But Washington also needs to press New Delhi to seek reconciliation with Islamabad over Kashmir, and to refrain from actions which will create even more fear of India in the Pakistani military.

IN THE end, Washington must walk a very fine line if it wants to keep the military united and at least onboard enough in the fight against extremists. If it pushes the army too far by moving ground troops into Pakistan proper, the consequences will be devastating. The military-and therefore the state of Pakistan-will be no longer.

Anatol Lieven, a senior editor at The National Interest, is a professor in the War Studies Department of King's College London and a senior fellow of the New America Foundation in Washington, DC. He is author of America Right or Wrong: An Anatomy of American Nationalism (Oxford University Press, 2004). His next book,Pakistan: A Hard Country, is to be published in 2011.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #702 on: July 01, 2010, 07:51:15 AM »

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/10471517.stm
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #703 on: July 01, 2010, 10:22:21 PM »

http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2010/07/02/story_2-7-2010_pg7_9

Babar Formula’ on the cards to protect fake degree-holders

* Govt engaged in negotiations with allies, PML-Q to introduce bill in NA over issue
* PML-N, MQM not going to back the proposed bill

By Irfan Ghauri

ISLAMABAD: The government’s legal pundits led by Federal Law Minister Babar Awan have come up with a new national reconciliation bill to bail out fake degree-holders, informed sources told Daily Times on Thursday.

The government is currently engaged in taking into confidence its allied parties, as well as the PML-Q over the proposed bill. As pressure mounts on fake degree-holders with each passing day, the Federal Law Ministry has devised a formula — known amongst political circles as the Babar Formula — to save the parliamentarians from any further embarrassment.

“The political ground work is almost complete and the bill has also been drafted”, the sources said, adding that, “It would be presented in the upcoming session of the National Assembly”. Though no more valid now, possessing a bachelors’ degree was one of the prerequisites for contesting national and provincial assembly elections back in 2008.

According to estimates, more than 150 members of the assemblies contested elections on fake degrees and they might have to resign in a move that could have huge political implications for the current government. The bill, if approved by the National Assembly and the Senate, would have a retrospective effect.

The government has so far been successful in convincing at least three of its four allied parties to support the legislation. However, the MQM has still not committed itself to supporting the bill, saying it would be tantamount to favoring “culprits of the nation”.

But officials from both sides said that the MQM was considering abstaining form voting on the bill to give the government a chance of getting it approved from both the houses without any difficulty. According to insiders, President Asif Ali Zardari has assigned Labour Minister Khursheed Ali Shah and Interior Minister Rehman Malik the task of convincing the MQM and contacts have already been established.

The ANP, the JUI-F and group of parliamentarians from the tribal regions led by Munir Orakzai have assured the government that they would vote in favor of the bill. The government has managed to get the support of the PML-Q, in what appears to be an indication of the new political alignment in the country.

A PML-Q MNA from Bahawalpur division Riaz Pirzada said the bill had already been drafted and might be introduced to the National Assembly later this month. According to Pirzada, the government is negotiating with various parties and there are indications that a consensus can emerge over the issue ahead of the next meeting of the lower house.

Pirzada, however, added the legislation would be brought to the National Assembly as a private bill by himself and several other parliamentarians from various parties.

PML-Q Information Secretary Kamal Ali Agha, however, said the party is still to decide its “official reaction” to the issue and had not decided whether or not to support the bill. Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) Information Secretary Fauzia Wahab did not deny that the government was seeking support from other parties for protecting fake degree-holders.

A top leader of the JUI-F said that the party would support “anything in favor of the democracy”.

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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #704 on: July 02, 2010, 07:33:41 AM »

I have high regard for Stratfor in general and for its head, George Friedman.  That said, this article, which makes many excellent points, IMHO also makes some glib ones and fails to ask certain important questions-- what was to be done in the wake of 2001?  Was the third phase sustainable, or was it, as Michael Yon asserts, imploding?  Why is the Durand Line taken seriously/why do we/should we do nothing about the enemy's presence in Pakistan? etc.
===============

The 30-Year War in Afghanistan
Is it worthwhile getting American troops to fight in Afghanistan instead of arming the Taliban's allies? 


This article was first published on the Stratfor website. The author, George Friedman, is chairman and CEO of Stratfor, the world’s leading online publisher of geopolitical intelligence.


The Afghan War is the longest war in U.S. history. It began in 1980 and continues to rage. It began under Democrats but has been fought under both Republican and Democratic administrations, making it truly a bipartisan war. The conflict is an odd obsession of U.S. foreign policy, one that never goes away and never seems to end. As the resignation of Gen. Stanley McChrystal reminds us, the Afghan War is now in its fourth phase.

The Afghan War’s First Three Phases

The first phase of the Afghan War began with the Soviet invasion in December 1979, when the United States, along with Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, organized and sustained Afghan resistance to the Soviets. This resistance was built around mujahideen, fighters motivated by Islam. Washington’s purpose had little to do with Afghanistan and everything to do with U.S.-Soviet competition. The United States wanted to block the Soviets from using Afghanistan as a base for further expansion and wanted to bog the Soviets down in a debilitating guerrilla war. The United States did not so much fight the war as facilitate it. The strategy worked. The Soviets were blocked and bogged down. This phase lasted until 1989, when Soviet troops were withdrawn.

The second phase lasted from 1989 until 2001. The forces the United States and its allies had trained and armed now fought each other in complex coalitions for control of Afghanistan. Though the United States did not take part in this war directly, it did not lose all interest in Afghanistan. Rather, it was prepared to exert its influence through allies, particularly Pakistan. Most important, it was prepared to accept that the Islamic fighters it had organized against the Soviets would govern Afghanistan. There were many factions, but with Pakistani support, a coalition called the Taliban took power in 1996. The Taliban in turn provided sanctuary for a group of international jihadists called al Qaeda, and this led to increased tensions with the Taliban following jihadist attacks on U.S. facilities abroad by al Qaeda.

The third phase began on Sept. 11, 2001, when al Qaeda launched attacks on the mainland United States. Given al Qaeda’s presence in Afghanistan, the United States launched operations designed to destroy or disrupt al Qaeda and dislodge the Taliban. The United States commenced operations barely 30 days after Sept. 11, which was not enough time to mount an invasion using U.S. troops as the primary instrument. Rather, the United States made arrangements with factions that were opposed to the Taliban (and defeated in the Afghan civil war). This included organizations such as the Northern Alliance, which had remained close to the Russians; Shiite groups in the west that were close to the Iranians and India; and other groups or subgroups in other regions. These groups supported the United States out of hostility to the Taliban and/or due to substantial bribes paid by the United States.

The overwhelming majority of ground forces opposing the Taliban in 2001 were Afghan. The United States did, however, insert special operations forces teams to work with these groups and to identify targets for U.S. airpower, the primary American contribution to the war. The use of U.S. B-52s against Taliban forces massed around cities in the north caused the Taliban to abandon any thought of resisting the Northern Alliance and others, even though the Taliban had defeated them in the civil war.

Unable to hold fixed positions against airstrikes, the Taliban withdrew from the cities and dispersed. The Taliban were not defeated, however; they merely declined to fight on U.S. terms. Instead, they redefined the war, preserving their forces and regrouping. The Taliban understood that the cities were not the key to Afghanistan. Instead, the countryside would ultimately provide control of the cities. From the Taliban point of view, the battle would be waged in the countryside, while the cities increasingly would be isolated.

The United States simply did not have sufficient force to identify, engage and destroy the Taliban as a whole. The United States did succeed in damaging and dislodging al Qaeda, with the jihadist group’s command cell becoming isolated in northwestern Pakistan. But as with the Taliban, the United States did not defeat al Qaeda because the United States lacked significant forces on the ground. Even so, al Qaeda prime, the original command cell, was no longer in a position to mount 9/11-style attacks.

During the Bush administration, U.S. goals for Afghanistan were modest. First, the Americans intended to keep al Qaeda bottled up and to impose as much damage as possible on the group. Second, they intended to establish an Afghan government, regardless of how ineffective it might be, to serve as a symbolic core. Third, they planned very limited operations against the Taliban, which had regrouped and increasingly controlled the countryside. The Bush administration was basically in a holding operation in Afghanistan. It accepted that U.S. forces were neither going to be able to impose a political solution on Afghanistan nor create a coalition large enough control the country. U.S. strategy was extremely modest under Bush: to harass al Qaeda from bases in Afghanistan, maintain control of cities and logistics routes, and accept the limits of U.S. interests and power.

The three phases of American involvement in Afghanistan had a common point: All three were heavily dependent on non-U.S. forces to do the heavy lifting. In the first phase, the mujahideen performed this task. In the second phase, the United States relied on Pakistan to manage Afghanistan’s civil war. In the third phase, especially in the beginning, the United States depended on Afghan forces to fight the Taliban. Later, when greater numbers of American and allied forces arrived, the United States had limited objectives beyond preserving the Afghan government and engaging al Qaeda wherever it might be found (and in any event, by 2003, Iraq had taken priority over Afghanistan). In no case did the Americans use their main force to achieve their goals.

The Fourth Phase of the Afghan War

The fourth phase of the war began in 2009, when U.S. President Barack Obama decided to pursue a more aggressive strategy in Afghanistan. Though the Bush administration had toyed with this idea, it was Obama who implemented it fully. During the 2008 election campaign, Obama asserted that he would pay greater attention to Afghanistan. The Obama administration began with the premise that while the Iraq War was a mistake, the Afghan War had to be prosecuted. It reasoned that unlike Iraq, which had a tenuous connection to al Qaeda at best, Afghanistan was the group’s original base. He argued that Afghanistan therefore should be the focus of U.S. military operations. In doing so, he shifted a strategy that had been in place for 30 years by making U.S. forces the main combatants in the war.

Though Obama’s goals were not altogether clear, they might be stated as follows:

1.Deny al Qaeda a base in Afghanistan.
2.Create an exit strategy from Afghanistan similar to the one in Iraq by creating the conditions for negotiating with the Taliban; make denying al Qaeda a base a condition for the resulting ruling coalition.
3.Begin withdrawal by 2011.
To do this, there would be three steps:

1.Increase the number and aggressiveness of U.S. forces in Afghanistan.
2.Create Afghan security forces under the current government to take over from the Americans.
3.Increase pressure on the Taliban by driving a wedge between them and the population and creating intra-insurgent rifts via effective counterinsurgency tactics.
In analyzing this strategy, there is an obvious issue: While al Qaeda was based in Afghanistan in 2001, Afghanistan is no longer its primary base of operations. The group has shifted to Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and other countries. As al Qaeda is thus not dependent on any one country for its operational base, denying it bases in Afghanistan does not address the reality of its dispersion. Securing Afghanistan, in other words, is no longer the solution to al Qaeda.

Obviously, Obama’s planners fully understood this. Therefore, sanctuary denial for al Qaeda had to be, at best, a secondary strategic goal. The primary strategic goal was to create an exit strategy for the United States based on a negotiated settlement with the Taliban and a resulting coalition government. The al Qaeda issue depended on this settlement, but could never be guaranteed. In fact, neither the long-term survival of a coalition government nor the Taliban policing al Qaeda could be guaranteed.

The exit of U.S. forces represents a bid to reinstate the American strategy of the past 30 years, namely, having Afghan forces reassume the primary burden of fighting. The creation of an Afghan military is not the key to this strategy. Afghans fight for their clans and ethnic groups. The United States is trying to invent a national army where no nation exists, a task that assumes the primary loyalty of Afghans will shift from their clans to a national government, an unlikely proposition.

The Real U.S. Strategy

Rather than trying to strengthen the Karzai government, the real strategy is to return to the historical principles of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan: alliance with indigenous forces. These indigenous forces would pursue strategies in the American interest for their own reasons, or because they are paid, and would be strong enough to stand up to the Taliban in a coalition. As CIA Director Leon Panetta put it this weekend, however, this is proving harder to do than expected.

The American strategy is, therefore, to maintain a sufficient force to shape the political evolution on the ground, and to use that force to motivate and intimidate while also using economic incentives to draw together a coalition in the countryside. Operations like those in Helmand province — where even Washington acknowledges that progress has been elusive and slower than anticipated — clearly are designed to try to draw regional forces into regional coalitions that eventually can enter a coalition with the Taliban without immediately being overwhelmed. If this strategy proceeds, the Taliban in theory will be spurred to negotiate out of concern that this process eventually could leave it marginalized.

There is an anomaly in this strategy, however. Where the United States previously had devolved operational responsibility to allied groups, or simply hunkered down, this strategy tries to return to devolved responsibilities by first surging U.S. operations. The fourth phase actually increases U.S. operational responsibility in order to reduce it.

From the grand strategic point of view, the United States needs to withdraw from Afghanistan, a landlocked country where U.S. forces are dependent on tortuous supply lines. Whatever Afghanistan’s vast mineral riches, mining them in the midst of war is not going to happen. More important, the United States is overcommitted in the region and lacks a strategic reserve of ground forces. Afghanistan ultimately is not strategically essential, and this is why the United States has not historically used its own forces there.

Obama’s attempt to return to that track after first increasing U.S. forces to set the stage for the political settlement that will allow a U.S. withdrawal is hampered by the need to begin terminating the operation by 2011 (although there is no fixed termination date). It will be difficult to draw coalition partners into local structures when the foundation — U.S. protection — is withdrawing. Strengthening local forces by 2011 will be difficult. Moreover, the Taliban’s motivation to enter into talks is limited by the early withdrawal. At the same time, with no ground combat strategic reserve, the United States is vulnerable elsewhere in the world, and the longer the Afghan drawdown takes, the more vulnerable it becomes (hence the 2011 deadline in Obama’s war plan).

In sum, this is the quandary inherent in the strategy: It is necessary to withdraw as early as possible, but early withdrawal undermines both coalition building and negotiations. The recruitment and use of indigenous Afghan forces must move extremely rapidly to hit the deadline (though officially on track quantitatively, there are serious questions about qualitative measures) — hence, the aggressive operations that have been mounted over recent months. But the correlation of forces is such that the United States probably will not be able to impose an acceptable political reality in the time frame available. Thus, Afghan President Hamid Karzai is said to be opening channels directly to the Taliban, while the Pakistanis are increasing their presence. Where a vacuum is created, regardless of how much activity there is, someone will fill it.

Therefore, the problem is to define how important Afghanistan is to American global strategy, bearing in mind that the forces absorbed in Iraq and Afghanistan have left the United States vulnerable elsewhere in the world. The current strategy defines the Islamic world as the focus of all U.S. military attention. But the world has rarely been so considerate as to wait until the United States is finished with one war before starting another. Though unknowns remain unknowable, a principle of warfare is to never commit all of your reserves in a battle — one should always maintain a reserve for the unexpected. Strategically, it is imperative that the United States begin to free up forces and re-establish its ground reserves.

Given the time frame the Obama administration’s grand strategy imposes, and given the capabilities of the Taliban, it is difficult to see how it will all work out. But the ultimate question is about the American obsession with Afghanistan. For 30 years, the United States has been involved in a country that is virtually inaccessible for the United States. Washington has allied itself with radical Islamists, fought against radical Islamists or tried to negotiate with radical Islamists. What the United States has never tried to do is impose a political solution through the direct application of American force. This is a new and radically different phase of America’s Afghan obsession. The questions are whether it will work and whether it is even worth it.

























w
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« Reply #705 on: July 04, 2010, 08:11:50 AM »

Some quite remarkable photos of Afg before its modern troubles began.

http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2010/05/27/once_upon_a_time_in_afghanistan
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« Reply #706 on: July 04, 2010, 08:46:34 AM »

Amazing how islam can destroy a society from within.
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« Reply #707 on: July 06, 2010, 08:37:28 PM »

I am surprised to see that there have been no comments on Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele suggestion at a Connecticut fundraiser that Afghanistan is "a war of Obama's choosing".  Lots of Republicans on this site; what are your thoughts?
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« Reply #708 on: July 06, 2010, 08:46:06 PM »

Steele needs to go, though the statement could have meant that Afghanistan was Obama's good war that Obama allegedly wanted to win when Obama was running for the presidency.
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« Reply #709 on: July 06, 2010, 09:02:24 PM »

Steele is proving to be an ass on many levels, one of which is exhibited here, and should resign.

GM is right.  BO ran on Afpakia being the right war and that we had to get out of Iraq so we would have the bandwidth to focus on Afpakia.  Instead , , , well you already know the story.
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« Reply #710 on: July 11, 2010, 09:23:19 AM »


http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2010/07/10/gen-casey-america-may-be-in-iraq-and-afghanistan-for-another-decade/?fbid=khJA6CYykye
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« Reply #711 on: July 11, 2010, 12:35:35 PM »

My "arm chair" opinions tends to agree with Kristol, FWIW, but I don't agree with fighting in Afghanistan-"Pocky"stan with one arm tied behind our backs.  If we are going to fightn enemy than we should fight them not coddle them.

****Ann Coulter's recent column "Bill Kristol Must Resign" may have officially kicked off the next great schism within the conservative movement. At issue is the war in Afghanistan -- and, more specifically, whether Republicans should support President Obama's approach to a conflict that has now lasted for Americans far longer than World War II.

Mocking neoconservatives, Coulter wrote: "Bill Kristol [editor of The Weekly Standard] and Liz Cheney have demanded that [Michael] Steele resign as head of the RNC for saying Afghanistan is now Obama's war -- and a badly thought-out one at that. (Didn't liberals warn us that neoconservatives want permanent war?)"

Coulter failed at convincing Kristol to resign -- she never says from what. In fact, channeling Michael Steele, who vows to stay on as party chief, Kristol responded: "I ain't going anywhere." But she may have succeeded at advancing a major debate.

Until now, there has been somewhat of an unspoken rule, adhered to by most on the right, that conservative Republicans would vigorously oppose Obama's liberal domestic policies while supporting his efforts to win in Afghanistan. After all, Republicans had staunchly backed George W. Bush when he made the case for fighting al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. Changing course now would seem craven -- playing politics with national security. And so, in foreign policy, Obama was criticized from the right only when he appeared to be showing weakness, not when he displayed toughness.

But recent comments from Steele have sparked a debate that was probably long overdue. Notwithstanding the fact that Steele almost immediately backtracked, some conservatives began defending the substance of Steele's comments. "Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele was absolutely right," Coulter wrote. "Afghanistan is Obama's war and, judging by other recent Democratic ventures in military affairs, isn't likely to turn out well."

This is a serious point. As Politics Daily's own David Corn recently wrote:
The war in Afghanistan is President Obama's war and partly of the president's choosing. Sure, Obama inherited the conflict. Bush initiated the military action in Afghanistan after 9/11 -- and then veered into Iraq before the war in Afghanistan was resolved. Yet Obama, after much deliberation, decided to change the nature of the Afghanistan war. In December, following many weeks of review, he announced he would send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan, and he embraced the counterinsurgency plan proposed by Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who was then commanding U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan.
There was always skepticism on the left about Obama's decision to escalate the war -- perhaps even to waging war there in the first place. And if the commander in chief is losing any significant portion of the right when it comes to Afghanistan, his policies could be on perilous ground.

One of the ideas advanced by Coulter is that Bush wisely kept a relatively small footprint in Afghanistan, while choosing instead to invade Iraq -- terrain more hospitable for a traditional ground war. There is some revisionism at work here, and it must be said that prominent voices, like Liz Cheney's (not to mention Gen. David Petraeus'), were raised in support of the surge in Afghanistan. Still, it's fair to broach the question raised by Steele and Coulter: Would Bush be doing anything differently today in terms of Afghanistan?

Or is Coulter's position a less high-minded one? After a decade of defending Bush's actions, and getting beat up for it, are Republicans now saying it's time for a Democratic president to get the Bush treatment?

Coulter is not the first conservative to warn that Afghanistan could turn into a quagmire. George Will and Tony Blankley have raised that very point. But Coulter has made it in a way that directly -- and personally -- challenges conservative orthodoxy. And it's catching on. MSNBC's Joe Scarborough tweeted Coulter's column out to his followers, adding, "Thank you, Ann Coulter. She speaks out against the GOP now being for permanent war. She is right."

And if conservatives are asked to choose sides between, say, the elected leader of the Republican National Committee (Steele) and the titular head of the Democratic National Committee (Obama), how many will decide that Obama's Afghanistan policies are not worth the trouble? Maybe it was unavoidable, but it does seem as if Coulter's comments today hearken back to the 1990s -- when Bill Clinton was in the Oval Office -- and conservatives criticized his efforts in places like Bosnia and Kosovo as "nation building."

Clearly, things have changed since 2008, when candidates John McCain, Rudy Giuliani and even Mitt Romney represented the mainstream viewpoint, and when Congressman Ron Paul was essentially mocked for his isolationist tendencies and his desire for a "humble foreign policy." Today, Paul's positions are enjoying resurgence, and his son, Rand Paul, is poised to be elected to the U.S. Senate. How quickly things change.

Regardless, debating this policy is healthy, and conservatives are justified to have this discussion. There are conservative arguments to be made for -- or against -- continuing the war in Afghanistan, just as I believe a principled conservative case could have been made (and was, in some quarters) against the 2003 invasion of Iraq. This is a debate that conservatives, and all Americans, should keep having. War is not something to be entered into lightly; nor should support for it ever be contingent on whether the commander in chief has a D after his name, or an R.
Filed Under: Republicans, Afghanistan, Conservatives, Military, Analysis
Tagged: Afghanistan war, ann coulter, Bill Kristol, conservatives, liz cheney, Michael Steele, war
More articles from Matt Lewis »****
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« Reply #712 on: July 12, 2010, 09:59:23 AM »

Its POTH, so caveat lector

WARSAK, Pakistan — The recent graduation ceremony here for Pakistani troops trained by Americans to fight the Taliban and Al Qaeda was intended as show of fresh cooperation between the Pakistani and American militaries. But it said as much about its limitations.

Nearly 250 Pakistani paramilitary troops in khaki uniforms and green berets snapped to attention, with top students accepting a certificate from an American Army colonel after completing the specialized training for snipers and platoon and company leaders. But this new center, 20 miles from the Afghanistan border, was built to train as many as 2,000 soldiers at a time. The largest component of the American-financed instruction — a 10-week basic-training course — is months behind schedule, officials from both sides acknowledge, in part because Pakistani commanders say they cannot afford to send troops for new training as fighting intensifies in the border areas.

Pakistan also restricts the number of American trainers throughout the country to no more than about 120 Special Operations personnel, fearful of being identified too closely with the unpopular United States — even though the Americans reimburse Pakistan more than $1 billion a year for its military operations in the border areas. “We want to keep a low signature,” said a senior Pakistani officer.

The deep suspicion that underlies every American move here is a fact of life that American officers say they must work through as they try to reverse the effects of the many years when the United States had cut Pakistan off from military aid because of its nuclear weapons program.

That time of estrangement, which lasted through the 1990s, left the Pakistanis feeling scorned and abandoned by the United States, and its military distant and seeded with officers and soldiers sympathetic to conservative Islam — and even at times the very militants they are today charged with fighting.

Today the American-led war in Afghanistan and its continuing campaign of drone strikes in Pakistan’s tribal areas have made the United States suspect at all levels of the military, and among the Pakistani population, as anti-Americanism has hit new heights. This training program is among the first steps to repair that relationship. “This is the most complex operating environment I’ve ever dealt with,” said Col. Kurt Sonntag, a West Point graduate who handed out the graduation certificates here.

Such are the limits on the Americans that dozens of Pakistani enlisted “master trainers,” taught by the Americans, do the bulk of the hands-on instruction here. Since January 2009, about 1,000 scouts from Pakistan’s Frontier Corps have completed the training, which is designed to help turn the 58,000-member paramilitary force that patrols the tribal areas from a largely passive border force into skilled and motivated fighters.

The personnel training is just one piece of what is now a multipronged relationship. With combating Al Qaeda and the Taliban now the overriding priority, the United States provides Pakistan with a wide array of weapons, shares intelligence about the militants, and has given it more than $10 billion toward the cost of deploying nearly 150,000 troops in and around the border areas since 2001 — with the promise of much more to come.

On June 27, the United States delivered to Pakistan the first of three new F-16 jet fighters equipped with precision targeting instruments for day and night use. A half dozen United States Air Force pilots traveled here to train and qualify Pakistani aviators on night operations.

Washington is stressing that these upgraded fighters will be used by Pakistan against the militants in the tribal areas, but they also augment the F-16 fleet that the United States has financed over the years as part of the country’s arsenal that is directed against India.

By urging Pakistan to embrace counterinsurgency training, the United States is trying to steer the Pakistani Army toward spending more resources against what Washington believes is Pakistan’s main enemy, the Taliban and Al Qaeda, rather than devoting almost the entire military effort against India, American officials said. Central to this approach is an array of training that the Americans tailor to what Pakistani says it needs for the Frontier Corps, its conventional army and its Special Operations forces.

About a dozen American trainers are assigned to yearlong duty at this training center, a cluster of classrooms and dormitories and adjacent training ranges on a large campus, which the United States spent $23 million to build, plus another $30 million for training and equipment requested by the Pakistani military.

The most gifted Frontier Corps marksmen are selected for sniper training, a skill in need against the Taliban who have been using Russian-made Dragonov sniper rifles to deadly effect against the Pakistani Army.

Five two-man sniper teams, trained to use American-made M24 rifles as well as how to work with a spotter, measure wind speeds and camouflage their positions, received awards from Colonel Sonntag. But five two-man teams were dropped during the training because their math skills were not good enough, another American trainer said.

===================

Much of the training here is aimed at building the confidence of the Frontier Corps scouts, some of whom have relatives in the Taliban, and who speak the same language, Pashto, as many militants. Often the militants are better armed and more handsomely paid than the scouts.



Three basic skills were built into the course, one of the American trainers said: How to shoot straight, how to administer battlefield first aid, and how to provide covering fire for advancing troops.

Until a few years ago, the Frontier Corps was widely ridiculed as corrupt and incompetent. But under the leadership of Maj. Gen. Tariq Khan, salaries have quadrupled to about $200 a month, new equipment is flowing in, and the scouts are winning praise in combat. Still, General Khan acknowledged in an interview that the training here was still “settling down and maturing.”

The scouts face a battle-hardened enemy that has lived in the mountains around here for decades. “We’ve been here one-and-a-half years,” said Col. Ahsan Raza, the training center’s commandant. “They have been preparing for the last 20 years.”

The Pakistani Army also conducts training on its own without direct American aid. At the Pabbi Hills training center, halfway between Islamabad and Lahore, a visitor drives up a rutted dirt road, past clusters of troop tents pitched amid acacia trees, to a sprawling, 2,500-acre series of ranges and obstacle courses.

Every Pakistani Army unit assigned to the fight in the country’s tribal belt now receives at least four weeks of training in what the Pakistani Army calls “low-intensity conflict.”

Atop a 30-foot-high observation tower that doubles as a rappelling wall, Maj. Shaukat Hayat, second in command of the 55 Baloch Regiment, a 700-man infantry unit, oversees as his troops drill in how to clear a militant’s house. A billowing white smoke grenade offers advancing forces cover as they go room to room, exchanging gunfire with mock militants.

A Pakistani trainer stands on a walkway above the roofless rooms that allows him to observe and grade the troops’ performance. “When they’re done, they’ll go back and review what they did, and do it again,” said Major Hayat, 36.

The instructors are veterans of the campaigns in the tribal areas. Troops conduct live-fire drills on outdoor ranges with popup targets of militants. Similar drills at indoor ranges have paper targets with pictures of guerrillas and civilians, testing the troops’ split-second skills to judge friend or foe under fire.

But simulating the fight with the militants goes only so far, Pakistani officers say.

“It’s good textbook training, but the final training has to take place on the ground and must deal with the idea of a bullet coming at you,” said Lt. Gen. Asif Yasin Malik, who commands all Pakistani forces in the tribal areas. “After that first encounter, it’s done. They’re O.K.”
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« Reply #713 on: July 14, 2010, 10:41:49 AM »

U.S. May Label Pakistan Militants as Terrorists
By MARK LANDLER and THOM SHANKER
Published: July 13, 2010

 
WASHINGTON — The new American military commander in Afghanistan, Gen. David H. Petraeus, is pushing to have top leaders of a feared insurgent group designated as terrorists, a move that could complicate an eventual Afghan political settlement with the Taliban and aggravate political tensions in the region.


General Petraeus introduced the idea of blacklisting the group, known as the Haqqani network, late last week in discussions with President Obama’s senior advisers on Pakistan and Afghanistan, according to several administration officials, who said it was being seriously considered.

Such a move could risk antagonizing Pakistan, a critical partner in the war effort, but one that is closely tied to the Haqqani network. It could also frustrate the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, who is pressing to reconcile with all the insurgent groups as a way to end the nine-year-old war and consolidate his own grip on power.

The case of the Haqqani network, run by an old warlord family, underscores the thorny decisions that will have to be made over which Taliban-linked insurgents should win some sort of amnesty and play a role in the future of Afghanistan. Mr. Karzai has already petitioned the United Nations to lift sanctions against dozens of members of the Taliban, and has won conditional support from the Obama administration, so long as these people sever ties to Al Qaeda, forswear violence and accept the Afghan Constitution.

“If they are willing to accept the red lines and come in from the cold, there has to be a place for them,” Richard C. Holbrooke, the administration’s special representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan, said to reporters at a briefing on Tuesday.

From its base in the frontier area near the border of Pakistan and Afghanistan, the network of Sirajuddin Haqqani is suspected of running much of the insurgency around Kabul, the Afghan capital, and across eastern Afghanistan, carrying out car bombings and kidnappings, including spectacular attacks on American military installations. It is allied with Al Qaeda and with leaders of the Afghan Taliban branch under Mullah Muhammad Omar, now based near Quetta, Pakistan.

But the group’s real power may lie in its deep connections to Pakistan’s spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate, which analysts say sees the Haqqani network as a way to exercise its own leverage in Afghanistan. Pakistani leaders have recently offered to broker talks between Mr. Karzai and the network, officials said, arguing that it could be a viable future partner.

American officials remain extremely skeptical that the Haqqani network’s senior leaders could ever be reconciled with the Afghan government, although they say perhaps some midlevel commanders and foot soldiers could. Some officials in Washington and in the region expressed concerns that imposing sanctions on the entire network might drive away some fighters who might be persuaded to lay down their arms.

The idea of putting the Haqqani network on a blacklist was first made public on Tuesday by Senator Carl Levin, Democrat of Michigan, who has just returned from Pakistan and Afghanistan. Mr. Levin did not disclose any conversations he might have had with General Petraeus on the subject.

The Haqqani network is perhaps the most significant threat to stability in Afghanistan, said Mr. Levin, a powerful voice in Congress on military affairs as chairman of the Armed Services Committee. Mr. Levin also advocated increasing attacks against the organization by Pakistan and by the United States, using unmanned drone strikes.

“At the moment, the Haqqani network — and their fighters coming over the border from Pakistan into Afghanistan — is the greatest threat, at least external threat, to Afghanistan,” Mr. Levin said at a morning breakfast with correspondents.

“More needs to be done by Pakistan,” he added. “The Pakistanis have said they now realize, more than ever, that terrorism is a threat to them — not just the terrorists who attack them directly, but the terrorists who attack others from their territory.”

Placement on the State Department’s list would mainly impose legal limits on American citizens and companies, prohibiting trade with the Haqqani network or its leaders and requiring that banks freeze their assets in the United States.

But Mr. Levin noted that the law would also require the United States government to apply pressure on any nation harboring such a group, in this case Pakistan.

In Kabul, a spokesman for General Petraeus said he would not comment on any internal discussions. But in public General Petraeus has expressed alarm about the network and has talked about his desire to see the Pakistani military act more aggressively against the group’s stronghold in the North Waziristan region of Pakistan.

In testimony before Mr. Levin’s committee last month, General Petraeus said he viewed the network as a particular danger to the mission in Afghanistan.

He said he and other senior military officers had shared information with their counterparts in Pakistan that showed the Haqqani network “clearly commanded and controlled” recent attacks in Kabul and against the Bagram Air Base outside Kabul, which is controlled by the United States.

The focus on a political settlement is likely to intensify next week at a conference in Kabul, to be headed by Mr. Karzai and attended by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and other officials. Mr. Karzai recently signed a decree authorizing the reintegration of lower-level Taliban fighters, and Mr. Holbrooke said the meeting would kick off that program, which will be financed by $180 million from Japan, Britain and other countries, as well as $100 million in Pentagon funds.

But Mr. Karzai is eager to extend an olive branch to higher-level figures as well. His government wants to remove up to 50 of the 137 Taliban names on the United Nations Security Council’s blacklist. Mr. Holbrooke, the special envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan, said the administration supported efforts to cull the list, but would approve names only on a case-by-case basis. Certain figures, like Mullah Omar, the Taliban leader, remain out of bounds, he said.

For its part, the United States is trying to keep the emphasis on the low-level fighters, rather than the leadership. The planned American military campaign in Kandahar, officials said, could weaken the position of Taliban leaders, making them more amenable to a settlement.

Still, the United States backs “Afghan-led reconciliation,” Mr. Holbrooke said. And he said the administration was encouraged by recent meetings between Mr. Karzai and Pakistani leaders, which he said were slowly building trust between these often-suspicious neighbors.

“Nothing could be more important to the resolution of the war in Afghanistan,” he said, “than a common understanding between Afghanistan and Pakistan on what their strategic purpose is.”


David E. Sanger contributed reporting.
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« Reply #714 on: July 18, 2010, 04:55:21 PM »

Gurkha ordered back to UK after beheading dead Taliban fighter

By Christopher Leake
Last updated at 11:26 AM on 18th July 2010

A Gurkha soldier has been flown back to the UK after hacking the head off a dead Taliban commander with his ceremonial knife to prove the dead man’s identity.

The private, from 1st Battalion, Royal Gurkha Rifles, was involved in a fierce firefight with insurgents in the Babaji area of central Helmand Province when the incident took place earlier this month.

His unit had been told that they were seeking a ‘high value target,’ a Taliban commander, and that they must prove they had killed the right man.  The Gurkhas had intended to remove the Taliban leader’s body from the battlefield for identification purposes but they came under heavy fire as their tried to do so. Military sources said that in the heat of battle, the Gurkha took out his curved kukri knife and beheaded the dead insurgent.

He is understood to have removed the man’s head from the area, leaving the rest of his body on the battlefield.  This is considered a gross insult to the Muslims of Afghanistan, who bury the entire body of their dead even if parts have to be retrieved.  British soldiers often return missing body parts once a battle has ended so the dead can be buried in one piece.

A source said: ‘Removing the head in this way was totally inappropriate.’

Army sources said that the soldier, who is in his early 20s, initially told investigators that he unsheathed his kukri – the symbolic weapon of the Gurkhas – after running out of ammunition but later the Taliban fighter was mutilated so his identity could be verified through DNA tests.

The source said: ‘The soldier has been removed from duty and flown home. There is no sense of glory involved here, more a sense of shame. He should not have done what he did.’

The incident, which is being investigated by senior commanders, is hugely embarrassing to the British Army, which is trying to build bridges with local Afghan communities who have spent decades under *Taliban rule.

It comes just days after a rogue Afghan soldier murdered three British troops from the same Gurkha regiment.

If the Gurkha being investigated by the Army is found guilty of beheading the dead enemy soldier, he will have contravened the Geneva Conventions which dictate the rules of war. Soldiers are banned from demeaning their enemies.  The Gurkha now faces disciplinary action and a possible court martial. If found guilty, he could be jailed.  He is now confined to barracks at the Shorncliffe garrison, near Folkestone, Kent.

The incident happened as the Gurkha troop was advancing towards a hostile area before engaging the enemy in battle.

Colonel Richard Kemp, a former commander of British forces in Afghanistan, said: ‘In this case, it appears that the *soldier was not acting maliciously, but his actions were clearly ill-judged.  The Gurkhas are a very fine regiment with a proud tradition of service in the British forces and have fought very bravely in Afghanistan.  I have no doubt that this behaviour would be as strongly condemned by the other members of that regiment, as it would by all soldiers in the British forces.’

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: ‘We are aware of an incident and have informed the Afghan authorities. An investigation is underway and it would not be appropriate to comment further until this is concluded.’

The Ministry also revealed yesterday that four British servicemen had been killed in Afghanistan in 24 hours.  An airman from the RAF Regiment died in a road accident near Camp Bastion in Helmand and a marine from 40 Commando Royal Marines was killed in an explosion in Sangin on Friday.  A Royal Dragoon Guard died in a blast in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand Province yesterday. The fourth serviceman also died in an explosion.  The British death toll in the Afghan campaign since 2001 is now 322.

Afghan troops trained by the British Army recently led a major operation into a Taliban stronghold.  It was one of the first operations organised by the Afghan National Army.

Regiment’s proud symbol of valour

The iconic kukri knife used by the Gurkhas can be a weapon or a tool. It is the traditional utility knife of the Nepalese people, but is mainly known as a symbolic weapon for Gurkha regiments all over the world.  The kukri signifies courage and valour on the battlefield and is sometimes worn by bridegrooms during their wedding ceremony. The kukri’s heavy blade enables the user to inflict deep wounds and to cut muscle and bone with one stroke.  It can also be used in stealth operations to slash an enemy’s throat, killing him instantly and silently.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/arti...n-fighter.html
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« Reply #715 on: July 21, 2010, 08:26:54 AM »

The Real Heart of the International Conference in Kabul

On Tuesday, Afghan President Hamid Karzai and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon co-chair a nearly unprecedented international conference in Kabul attended by 40 foreign ministers, including U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Some 60 international dignitaries have arrived in the Afghan capital, where Karzai will attempt to show evidence of progress, address international concerns about rampant corruption and competent governance, and convince international donors that more aid should be channeled through and overseen directly by his government. (As it is, huge swaths of aid monies deliberately bypass his government due to concerns about corruption.) But at the end of the day, the conference is not about financial aid.

Financial aid matters because as rudimentary as it is, the Afghan government — particularly its security forces — cannot be fiscally supported and sustained by the war-ravaged and undeveloped Afghan economy. But donor countries are also unlikely to be surprised by Karzai’s claims of progress or comforted by his promises. For the most part, those countries made their decisions about giving before they arrived in Kabul. In any event, monetary donations are easier to make than troop contributions to the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force. Most countries are more focused on reducing the latter, while the former allows them to appear to invest something in the Afghan mission.

“It is Afghanistan’s neighbors that will be the ones to watch most closely.”
This is not lost on Kabul, or the wider region. With the surge nearing full strength, the next year will be an incredibly important one for Washington and Kabul. But Karzai, his domestic competitors and his neighbors are looking beyond the surge to a world in which the foreign troop presence inexorably declines. Not only is it clear to everyone in and around Afghanistan that the withdrawal of foreign forces is nearing, but it is clear that the American strategy for that withdrawal is failing to achieve its objectives within the timetable the Americans have set for themselves.

The real heart of this conference is not how compelling Karzai’s message is to the West. It is about the maneuverings of Islamabad, New Delhi and Tehran, as well as Ankara, which is attempting to establish itself as a power broker in the conflict. Kabul must balance these powers — as well as the United States — in order to shape the post-NATO environment.

That environment has already begun to take shape, with a rapprochement between the Americans and the Pakistanis, as well as an emerging Afghan-Pakistani understanding — one that Turkey has played no small part in. All this comes at the expense of India, which until recently quietly established contacts and built its influence. But New Delhi now appears to be re-evaluating its strategy, while still seeking to ensure its own interests, namely that some sort of lid remains on Islamist extremism in Afghanistan. Iran is in the midst of all this. Though its foremost interests — and its greatest influence — are on its western flank in Iraq, Tehran also looks to ensure its interests in Afghanistan, and to use its influence there as leverage for a larger settlement with the Americans. Indeed, Iran’s foreign minister told Karzai on Monday that a regional approach was needed in Afghanistan.

Nothing will be solved Tuesday. Afghanistan’s challenges are difficult to overstate on the best of days, and are complicated by the confluence of a resurgent Taliban and a foreign power nearing the limit of its finite commitment to the country while attempting to re-establish balances of power to Afghanistan’s west and southeast. But as the Americans focus on withdrawing troops and re-establishing regional balances of power, it is Afghanistan’s neighbors — not fickle Western donors — who will be the ones to watch most closely.
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« Reply #716 on: July 21, 2010, 08:31:28 AM »

By JULIAN E. BARNES
WASHINGTON—U.S. Special Operations Forces have begun venturing out with Pakistani forces on aid projects, deepening the American role in the effort to defeat Islamist militants in Pakistani territory that has been off limits to U.S. ground troops.

The expansion of U.S. cooperation is significant given Pakistan's deep aversion to allowing foreign military forces on its territory. The Special Operations teams join the aid missions only when commanders determine there is relatively little security risk, a senior U.S. military official said, in an effort to avoid direct engagement that would call attention to U.S. participation.

The U.S. troops are allowed to defend themselves and return fire if attacked. But the official emphasized the joint missions aren't supposed to be combat operations, and the Americans often participate in civilian garb.

Pakistan has told the U.S. that troops need to keep a low profile. "Going out in the open, that has negative optics, that is something we have to work out," said a Pakistani official. "This whole exercise could be counterproductive if people see U.S. boots on the ground."

Because of Pakistan's sensitivities, the U.S. role has developed slowly. In June 2008, top U.S. military officials announced 30 American troops would begin a military training program in Pakistan, but it took four months for Pakistan to allow the program to begin.

The first U.S. Special Operations Forces were restricted to military classrooms and training bases. Pakistan has gradually allowed more trainers into the country and allowed the mission's scope to expand. Today, the U.S. has about 120 trainers in the country, and the program is set to expand again with new joint missions to oversee small-scale development projects aimed at winning over tribal leaders, according to officials familiar with the plan.

Such aid projects are a pillar of the U.S. counterinsurgency strategy, which the U.S. hopes to pass on to the Pakistanis through the training missions.

U.S. military officials say if U.S. forces are able to help projects such as repairing infrastructure, distributing seeds and providing generators or solar panels, they can build trust with the Pakistani military, and encourage them to accept more training in the field.

"You have to bring something to the dance," said the senior military official. "And the way to do it is to have cash ready to do everything from force protection to other things that will protect the population."

Congressional leaders last month approved $10 million in funding for the aid missions, which will focus reconstruction projects in poor tribal areas that are off-limits to foreign civilian aid workers.

The Pakistani government has warned the Pentagon that a more visible U.S. military presence could undermine the mission of pacifying the border region, which has provided a haven for militants staging attacks in Pakistan as well as Afghanistan.

The U.S. has already aroused local animosity with drone strikes targeting militants in the tribal areas, though the missile strikes have the tacit support of the Pakistani government and often aid the Pakistani army's campaign against the militants.

Providing money to U.S. troops to spend in communities they are trying to protect has been a tactic used for years to fight insurgencies in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The move to accompany Pakistani forces in the field is even more significant, and repeats a pattern seen in the Philippines during the Bush administration, when Army Green Berets took a gradually more expansive role in Manila's fight against the terrorist group Abu Sayyaf in the southern islands of Mindanao.

There, the Green Berets started in a limited training role, and their initial deployment unleashed a political backlash against the Philippine president. But as the Philippine military began to improve their counterinsurgency skills, Special Operations Forces accompanied them on major offensives throughout the southern part of the archipelago.

In Pakistan, the U.S. military helps train both the regular military and the Frontier Corps, a force drawn from residents of the tribal regions but led by Pakistani Army officers.

The senior military official said the U.S. Special Operations Forces have developed a closer relationship with the Frontier Corps, and go out into the field more frequently with those units. "The Frontier Corps are more accepting partners," said the official.

For years the Frontier Corps was underfunded and struggled to provide basic equipment for its soldiers. A U.S. effort to help equip the force has made them more accepting of outside help.

Traveling with the Frontier Corps is dangerous. In February, three Army soldiers were killed in Pakistan's Northwest Frontier Province when a roadside bomb detonated near their convoy. The soldiers, assigned to train the Frontier Corps, were traveling out of uniform to the opening of a school that had been renovated with U.S. money.

The regular ular Pakistani military also operates in the tribal areas of Pakistan, but they are less willing to go on missions with U.S. forces off the base, in part because they believe appearing to accept U.S. help will make them look weak, the senior U.S. military official said. The Pakistani official said the military simply doesn't need foreign help.

During the past two years, Pakistan has stepped up military operations against the militant groups that operate in the tribal areas. Although Washington has praised the Pakistani offensives, Pentagon officials have said Pakistan's military needs help winning support among tribal elders. If successful, the joint missions and projects may help the Pakistani military retain control of areas in South Waziristan, the Swat valley and other border regions they have cleared of militants.

In Pakistan, the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad will retain final approval for all projects, according to Defense officials. But congressional staffers briefed on the program said the intent is to have Pakistani military forces hand out any of the goods bought with the funding or pay any local workers hired.

"The goal is never to have a U.S. footprint on any of these efforts," said a congressional staffer.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #717 on: July 21, 2010, 03:17:33 PM »

third post of the day:

http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5hvWEqwq3CrRvaQCmt21MfoYhjZJQD9H39D9G0
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« Reply #718 on: July 21, 2010, 04:58:18 PM »

I'm sure that gets a collective yawn from the liberal bedwetters wanting to hang the Gurkha.
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« Reply #719 on: July 22, 2010, 04:40:08 AM »

Afghanistan

Aside from the sporadic impact of a few artillery rockets in Kabul late July 19 and July 20, the one-day International Conference on Afghanistan, attended by more than 40 foreign ministers, appears to have gone smoothly — perhaps too smoothly. While commitments have been renewed and assurances have been given, there do not appear to have been any groundbreaking or unexpected shifts. Nevertheless, there are several developments worth noting:

The conference focused less on talk of the U.S. 2011 deadline to begin a drawdown and more on emphasizing that Afghanistan would take control of the domestic security situation, with Afghan security forces leading operations in all parts of the country by 2014. NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the shift to Afghan control would happen slowly, based on “conditions, not calendars.”
Of the $14 billion in aid that flows into Afghanistan annually, the government in Kabul reportedly manages only about 20 percent. Afghan President Hamid Karzai has argued against the practice, in part applied by donors to ensure more control over how the money is spent and to sidestep concerns over corruption in the Afghan government. At the conference, Karzai obtained a pledge that Kabul will be allowed to manage some 50 percent of aid money within two years.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton emphasized for the first time that while Washington was still moving toward putting the Haqqani network on its terrorist list, that the U.S. would not necessarily rule out Afghan efforts to reconcile with it — something Washington has long opposed.




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Ultimately, the real movement and significance of the conference is regional. The American shift on the Haqqanis and the signing of a transit agreement between Afghanistan and Pakistan that Islamabad had long blocked are both signs that Washington and Islamabad have made significant progress in coordinating their Afghan policies. U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Richard C. Holbrooke acknowledged as much to reporters in Islamabad on July 18 when he spoke of a “dramatic acceleration” in cooperation between the two countries. There are even reports that the United States is now revising its strategy to embrace the idea of negotiating with senior members of the Taliban through third parties.

So as the American strategy shifts toward more regional accommodation and reliance on regional allies, and as foreign forces move closer to drawing down, the regional dynamics will become increasingly defining for Afghanistan. Indeed, Washington especially seems to be realizing that a real exit strategy cannot take place without regional understandings — particularly from Pakistan.


Community Police Initiative

In another shift, Afghan President Hamid Karzai on July 14 conceded to pressure from the commander of U.S. Forces-Afghanistan and the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) Gen. David Petraeus and U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry to the recruitment of as many as 10,000 personnel for service in a more comprehensive, nationwide community police initiative. Karzai did achieve concessions like the inclusion of the new personnel under the aegis of the Interior Ministry.

While this compromise will allow for the creation of a force that may be able to confront the Taliban in new ways, it also exacerbates the long-term risks of such an initiative. The community police will be linked to a system that has been ineffective at both supplying its own local police forces and managing issues of corruption and infiltration by the Taliban. The concessions also fail to address the issue that the underlying and inherent loyalty of these new community police is to their locality rather than the government in Kabul. This was one of Karzai’s main complaints about this initiative, although the new personnel are ostensibly not to be trained in “offensive” tactics.

It remains to be seen whether the compromise and implementation will have the hoped-for short-term tactical impact. The real question is whether those possible short-term gains will justify longer-term issues that are sure to arise with the establishment of such armed groups. For Washington, they may. For Kabul, the answer is far less certain.


Afghan Security Forces Violence

Two American civilian trainers and one Afghan soldier were reportedly killed July 20 near Mazar-e-Sharif by another Afghan soldier serving alongside them as a trainer. The event comes less than a week after the killing of three British soldiers by an Afghan soldier at a base in Helmand province. The week before that, on July 7, five Afghan soldiers were killed by friendly fire from a NATO helicopter.

Although there are inherent problems with indigenous forces being penetrated and compromised, as well as issues of mutual interference with a dispersed and indigenous force, this series of developments begins to stand out. This is not the first time Afghan soldiers or police have been killed in airstrikes, but the killings of foreign troops by uniformed Afghans only further complicates deep-seated issues of trust. While in neither case can such danger ever be completely eliminated, these developments come at a time when ISAF and indigenous forces must work more closely together. An increase in distrust could seriously impact operational practices and effectiveness.


Mullah Omar’s Guidance

NATO announced July 18 it had obtained a June communique from top Afghan Taliban commander Mullah Mohammed Omar allegedly issuing new orders to his Afghan commanders. In the guidance, Omar modifies the previous year’s guidance to avoid civilian casualties, calling on his commanders to capture or kill Afghan civilians working for foreign forces or the Afghan government — a small and specific subset of the population. It is not yet clear whether this claim is genuine. However, the June 9 public hanging of a seven-year-old boy and an alleged suicide bombing at a wedding the same day that killed some 40 people — both attributed to the Taliban, though the group claims the wedding attack was an ISAF strike — demonstrate that either the guidance has changed or some commanders are violating it.





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Omar’s alleged shift in guidance may seem to run counter to his earlier focus on not antagonizing the population — a sentiment readily understandable to foreign forces waging a counterinsurgency. But it may indicate that the Taliban has made far more progress in winning over a key portion of the population and can therefore act more aggressively against locals on the opposite end of the political spectrum — and from their perspective this would be a very selective and surgical targeting of a small subset of people. So the shift may reflect confidence in the strength of that local support; indeed, at least from the Taliban’s constituency, more aggressive and ruthless tactics may not only be acceptable but desired.

This is, after all, a struggle that is now in an extremely decisive phase. ISAF forces are already having some difficulties securing the population in key focus areas in Afghanistan’s southwest. Already Taliban night letters and other forms of intimidation have made the local population extremely hesitant to cooperate not only out of fear for their lives in the immediate future but also once foreign forces depart. So despite the ongoing struggle to convince Afghan civilians that the other side is responsible for the vast majority of civilian deaths (a struggle the Taliban is not necessarily losing because it is better at getting its message out in a compelling way), an aggressive campaign by the Taliban against local civilians could erode the ISAF’s position and local support more than it costs the Taliban local supporters.
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« Reply #720 on: July 27, 2010, 01:35:01 AM »

We've long believed the U.S. government classifies too many documents as secret, and now we know for sure. How else to explain why Sunday's release of some 92,000 previously confidential documents reveals so little that we didn't already know about the war in Afghanistan? This document dump will only matter if it becomes an excuse for more of America's political class to turn against a war they once supported.

One news item we could find in the orchestrated rollout on WikiLeaks.org and three newspapers is that the Taliban have heat-seeking anti-aircraft missiles, perhaps even Stingers of the sort we gave the Afghan rebels to fight the Soviets in the 1980s. But even if they do have Stingers, the U.S. continues to dominate the skies and few U.S. aircraft have been shot down.

Another, more important, disclosure is how closely Iran has been working with the Taliban, as well as with al Qaeda and other Sunni extremists. This makes logical sense, given Iran's support for terrorists in Iraq and its general desire to chase America from the region. But the evidence should discredit those who think Tehran can be made peaceable by diplomatic entreaties.

Among the many nonscoops in the documents, we learn that war is hell, especially for infantry, and that sometimes troops make mistakes; that drone aircraft sometimes crash; that a forward U.S. base near the Pakistan border was ill-positioned to defend against Taliban attacks and had to be abandoned; and that many Afghan officials are corrupt and that Afghan troops flee often under fire. Any newspaper reader knew as much.

Far from being the Pentagon Papers redux, the larger truth is how closely the ground-eye view in these documents reinforces what U.S. officials were long saying: that the war wasn't going well, the Taliban were making gains, and a new and invigorated strategy was needed to combat them. Both the Bush and Obama Administrations made the same diagnosis in recent years, neither one kept it secret, and this year Mr. Obama followed through with an increase in troops levels and a renewed counterinsurgency.

The most politically explosive documents concern the conflicting loyalties of Pakistan's Directorate of Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI. Nearly 200 reports allege that the Pakistani military intelligence arm is in cahoots with the Taliban, despite claiming to side with America. This is undoubtedly true but also no surprise.

The ISI helped the U.S. arm and organize the mujahideen against the Soviets, and it kept doing so to fill the Afghan power vacuum after America abandoned the region in the early 1990s. The reports released this week allege—often citing a single source or uncertain information—that the ISI helped train Afghan suicide bombers, plotted to poison beer slated for GIs, and schemed to assassinate President Hamid Karzai. It isn't clear how many of these plots were ever attempted, but there's no doubt that many Pakistanis doubt U.S. staying power, fear Indian influence in Afghanistan, and want to use the Taliban to shape events on their Western border.

Then again, we also know that Pakistan has shifted its behavior in a more pro-American direction in the last 14 months as the Taliban began to threaten Pakistan's own stability. Responding to a surge of terrorism against Pakistani targets, the Pakistani army has pushed Islamist insurgents from the Swat Valley and even South Waziristan. It has taken heavy casualties in the process. Islamabad now actively aids U.S. drone strikes against Taliban and al Qaeda leaders in the mountains along its Afghan border.

Pakistan can and should do more to pursue the terrorist enclaves along the border, as well as in Quetta and Karachi. The question is what's the best way to persuade their leaders to act. U.S.-Pakistan cooperation has been one of the Obama Administration's foreign policy successes, and it would be a tragedy if the leak of selective documents, often out of context, would now poison that cooperation.

Pakistan's military elites already see evidence of weak American will in President Obama's declared desire to start a U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan next summer. While parts of the ISI are fighting on the wrong side, the U.S. needs to stay engaged with Islamabad both to bring more stability to Afghanistan and especially to destroy terrorist sanctuaries that remain a threat to the U.S. mainland.

That is why it is so disconcerting, if also predictable, to see the usual political suspects seize on the media hullabaloo to claim the Afghan effort is hopeless. The political left, which can't forget Vietnam, is comparing the WikiLeakers to Daniel Ellsberg and even the Tet offensive. Senate Foreign Relations Chairman John Kerry, who pays close attention to the region and has led the fight for more U.S. aid to Pakistan, nonetheless declared that, "However illegally these documents came to light, they raise serious questions about the reality of America's policy toward Pakistan and Afghanistan."

As informed as he is, Mr. Kerry can't possibly have learned all that much from these documents. His statement is more worrisome as a signal of political panic, a desire to placate his party's growing opposition to President Obama's war effort. Yet this is precisely the time when cooler political heads should be putting the documents into context, explaining the importance of U.S. ties to Pakistan, and above all giving Generals David Petraeus and James Mattis the time they need to succeed in that crucial theater. We can't afford another liberal antiwar stampede.
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« Reply #721 on: July 27, 2010, 03:54:15 AM »

Lack Of Commitment???!!!!

They question our will when we have been trying to help them get on their feet for 10 years huh?  I guess that some sort of demonstration of will mat become necessary?  Something properly barbaric, like they treat each other.  "This is the last chance for the Taliban and AlQueda remnants to join the modern world, from now on it is scorched earth mongol style." type demonstration of will?   They have had 10 years to get their country stable, and prosperous.  We have been helping to the tune of tens of billions of dollars, military coaching, etc.   Their own troops run instead of fight..............

If they aren't willing to step up and start swinging for themselves after ten years of  help, then why expect us to?   ( A ten year old kid is pretty capable, he can dress, feed himself, keep track of allowance, self defend when a bully shows up......)

Mark the whole area as tribal, much like most of Africa, and walk away.......OH yeah!  there are nukes involved.  (*&&*%^&**& Europeon countries simply could not resist selling these folks the reactors to make the big bang in order to make a big profit.........

What a mess.
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« Reply #722 on: July 27, 2010, 08:58:40 AM »

Lack Of Commitment???!!!!

They have had 10 years to get their country stable, and prosperous.  We have been helping to the tune of tens of billions of dollars, military coaching, etc.   Their own troops run instead of fight..............

If they aren't willing to step up and start swinging for themselves after ten years of  help, then why expect us to?   ( A ten year old kid is pretty capable, he can dress, feed himself, keep track of allowance, self defend when a bully shows up......)

Mark the whole area as tribal, much like most of Africa, and walk away.......

What a mess.

I've gotta love your straightforward summary.

I think you are right; maybe it is time to "walk away".  Americans are dying, we spend tens of billions of dollars, and for what?
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« Reply #723 on: July 27, 2010, 10:52:40 AM »

I am open to additional thoughts changing my mind, but at the moment I cannot see a good end here outside of outside the box thoughts such as those I recently posted.  As best as I can tell Obama's psuedo-surge has ensured this.
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WikiLeaks and the Afghan War
July 27, 2010




By George Friedman

On Sunday, The New York Times and two other newspapers published summaries and excerpts of tens of thousands of documents leaked to a website known as WikiLeaks. The documents comprise a vast array of material concerning the war in Afghanistan. They range from tactical reports from small unit operations to broader strategic analyses of politico-military relations between the United States and Pakistan. It appears to be an extraordinary collection.

Related special topic page
The War in Afghanistan
Tactical intelligence on firefights is intermingled with reports on confrontations between senior U.S. and Pakistani officials in which lists of Pakistani operatives in Afghanistan are handed over to the Pakistanis. Reports on the use of surface-to-air missiles by militants in Afghanistan are intermingled with reports on the activities of former Pakistani intelligence chief Lt. Gen. Hamid Gul, who reportedly continues to liaise with the Afghan Taliban in an informal capacity.

The WikiLeaks
At first glance, it is difficult to imagine a single database in which such a diverse range of intelligence was stored, or the existence of a single individual cleared to see such diverse intelligence stored across multiple databases and able to collect, collate and transmit the intelligence without detection. Intriguingly, all of what has been released so far has been not-so-sensitive material rated secret or below. The Times reports that Gul’s name appears all over the documents, yet very few documents have been released in the current batch, and it is very hard to imagine intelligence on Gul and his organization, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) directorate, being classified as only secret. So, this was either low-grade material hyped by the media, or there is material reviewed by the selected newspapers but not yet made public. Still, what was released and what the Times discussed is consistent with what most thought was happening in Afghanistan.

The obvious comparison is to the Pentagon Papers, commissioned by the Defense Department to gather lessons from the Vietnam War and leaked by Daniel Ellsberg to the Times during the Nixon administration. Many people worked on the Pentagon Papers, each of whom was focused on part of it and few of whom would have had access to all of it.

Ellsberg did not give the Times the supporting documentation; he gave it the finished product. By contrast, in the WikiLeaks case, someone managed to access a lot of information that would seem to have been contained in many different places. If this was an unauthorized leak, then it had to have involved a massive failure in security. Certainly, the culprit should be known by now and his arrest should have been announced. And certainly, the gathering of such diverse material in one place accessible to one or even a few people who could move it without detection is odd.

Like the Pentagon Papers, the WikiLeaks (as I will call them) elicited a great deal of feigned surprise, not real surprise. Apart from the charge that the Johnson administration contrived the Gulf of Tonkin incident, much of what the Pentagon Papers contained was generally known. Most striking about the Pentagon Papers was not how much surprising material they contained, but how little. Certainly, they contradicted the official line on the war, but there were few, including supporters of the war, who were buying the official line anyway.

In the case of the WikiLeaks, what is revealed also is not far from what most people believed, although they provide enormous detail. Nor is it that far from what government and military officials are saying about the war. No one is saying the war is going well, though some say that given time it might go better.

The view of the Taliban as a capable fighting force is, of course, widespread. If they weren’t a capable fighting force, then the United States would not be having so much trouble defeating them. The WikiLeaks seem to contain two strategically significant claims, however. The first is that the Taliban is a more sophisticated fighting force than has been generally believed. An example is the claim that Taliban fighters have used man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS) against U.S. aircraft. This claim matters in a number of ways. First, it indicates that the Taliban are using technologies similar to those used against the Soviets. Second, it raises the question of where the Taliban are getting them — they certainly don’t manufacture MANPADS themselves.

If they have obtained advanced technologies, this would have significance on the battlefield. For example, if reasonably modern MANPADS were to be deployed in numbers, the use of American airpower would either need to be further constrained or higher attrition rates accepted. Thus far, only first- and second-generation MANPADS without Infrared Counter-Countermeasures (which are more dangerous) appear to have been encountered, and not with decisive or prohibitive effectiveness. But in any event, this doesn’t change the fundamental character of the war.

Supply Lines and Sanctuaries
What it does raise is the question of supply lines and sanctuaries. The most important charge contained in the leaks is about Pakistan. The WikiLeaks contain documents that charge that the Pakistanis are providing both supplies and sanctuary to Taliban fighters while objecting to American forces entering Pakistan to clean out the sanctuaries and are unwilling or unable to carry out that operation by themselves (as they have continued to do in North Waziristan).

Just as important, the documents charge that the ISI has continued to maintain liaison and support for the Taliban in spite of claims by the Pakistani government that pro-Taliban officers had been cleaned out of the ISI years ago. The document charges that Gul, the director-general of the ISI from 1987 to 1989, still operates in Pakistan, informally serving the ISI and helping give the ISI plausible deniability.

Though startling, the charge that Islamabad is protecting and sustaining forces fighting and killing Americans is not a new one. When the United States halted operations in Afghanistan after the defeat of the Soviets in 1989, U.S. policy was to turn over operations in Afghanistan to Pakistan. U.S. strategy was to use Islamist militants to fight the Soviets and to use Pakistani liaisons through the ISI to supply and coordinate with them. When the Soviets and Americans left Afghanistan, the ISI struggled to install a government composed of its allies until the Taliban took over Kabul in 1996. The ISI’s relationship with the Taliban — which in many ways are the heirs to the anti-Soviet mujahideen — is widely known. In my book, “America’s Secret War,” I discussed both this issue and the role of Gul. These documents claim that this relationship remains intact. Apart from Pakistani denials, U.S. officials and military officers frequently made this charge off the record, and on the record occasionally. The leaks on this score are interesting, but they will shock only those who didn’t pay attention or who want to be shocked.

Let’s step back and consider the conflict dispassionately. The United States forced the Taliban from power. It never defeated the Taliban nor did it make a serious effort to do so, as that would require massive resources the United States doesn’t have. Afghanistan is a secondary issue for the United States, especially since al Qaeda has established bases in a number of other countries, particularly Pakistan, making the occupation of Afghanistan irrelevant to fighting al Qaeda.

For Pakistan, however, Afghanistan is an area of fundamental strategic interest. The region’s main ethnic group, the Pashtun, stretch across the Afghan-Pakistani border. Moreover, were a hostile force present in Afghanistan, as one was during the Soviet occupation, Pakistan would face threats in the west as well as the challenge posed by India in the east. For Pakistan, an Afghanistan under Pakistani influence or at least a benign Afghanistan is a matter of overriding strategic importance.





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It is therefore irrational to expect the Pakistanis to halt collaboration with the force that they expect to be a major part of the government of Afghanistan when the United States leaves. The Pakistanis never expected the United States to maintain a presence in Afghanistan permanently. They understood that Afghanistan was a means toward an end, and not an end in itself. They understood this under George W. Bush. They understand it even more clearly under Barack Obama, who made withdrawal a policy goal.

Given that they don’t expect the Taliban to be defeated, and given that they are not interested in chaos in Afghanistan, it follows that they will maintain close relations with and support for the Taliban. Given that the United States is powerful and is Pakistan’s only lever against India, the Pakistanis will not make this their public policy, however. The United States has thus created a situation in which the only rational policy for Pakistan is two-tiered, consisting of overt opposition to the Taliban and covert support for the Taliban.

This is duplicitous only if you close your eyes to the Pakistani reality, which the Americans never did. There was ample evidence, as the WikiLeaks show, of covert ISI ties to the Taliban. The Americans knew they couldn’t break those ties. They settled for what support Pakistan could give them while constantly pressing them harder and harder until genuine fears in Washington emerged that Pakistan could destabilize altogether. Since a stable Pakistan is more important to the United States than a victory in Afghanistan — which it wasn’t going to get anyway — the United States released pressure and increased aid. If Pakistan collapsed, then India would be the sole regional power, not something the United States wants.

The WikiLeaks seem to show that like sausage-making, one should never look too closely at how wars are fought, particularly coalition warfare. Even the strongest alliances, such as that between the United States and the United Kingdom in World War II, are fraught with deceit and dissension. London was fighting to save its empire, an end Washington was hostile to; much intrigue ensued. The U.S.-Pakistani alliance is not nearly as trusting. The United States is fighting to deny al Qaeda a base in Afghanistan while Pakistan is fighting to secure its western frontier and its internal stability. These are very different ends that have very different levels of urgency.

The WikiLeaks portray a war in which the United States has a vastly insufficient force on the ground that is fighting a capable and dedicated enemy who isn’t going anywhere. The Taliban know that they win just by not being defeated, and they know that they won’t be defeated. The Americans are leaving, meaning the Taliban need only wait and prepare.

The Pakistanis also know that the Americans are leaving and that the Taliban or a coalition including the Taliban will be in charge of Afghanistan when the Americans leave. They will make certain that they maintain good relations with the Taliban. They will deny that they are doing this because they want no impediments to a good relationship with the United States before or after it leaves Afghanistan. They need a patron to secure their interests against India. Since the United States wants neither an India outside a balance of power nor China taking the role of Pakistan’s patron, it follows that the risk the United States will bear grudges is small. And given that, the Pakistanis can live with Washington knowing that one Pakistani hand is helping the Americans while another helps the Taliban. Power, interest and reality define the relations between nations, and different factions inside nations frequently have different agendas and work against each other.

The WikiLeaks, from what we have seen so far, detail power, interest and reality as we have known it. They do not reveal a new reality. Much will be made about the shocking truth that has been shown, which, as mentioned above, shocks only those who wish to be shocked. The Afghan war is about an insufficient American and allied force fighting a capable enemy on its home ground and a Pakistan positioning itself for the inevitable outcome. The WikiLeaks contain all the details.

We are left with the mystery of who compiled all of these documents and who had access to them with enough time and facilities to transmit them to the outside world in a blatant and sustained breach of protocol. The image we have is of an unidentified individual or small group working to get a “shocking truth” out to the public, only the truth is not shocking — it is what was known all along in excruciating detail. Who would want to detail a truth that is already known, with access to all this documentation and the ability to transmit it unimpeded? Whoever it proves to have been has just made the most powerful case yet for withdrawal from Afghanistan sooner rather than later.

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« Reply #724 on: August 03, 2010, 08:43:11 AM »

"Our man (formerly in) Iraq" flags this article for our attention:

Some cogent points made in a Wash Post article today in re Kandahar.  The whole article is worth reading:
 
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/08/02/AR2010080205235.html
 
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In Baghdad, the use of checkpoints, identification cards and walled-off communities helped to reduce violence because there were two feuding factions, riven by sect. Because the city had been carved into a collection of separate Sunni and Shiite neighborhoods, U.S. forces were able to place themselves along the borders. Both sides tolerated the tactics to a degree because they came to believe U.S. troops would protect them from their rivals.
 
The conflict in Kandahar is far murkier. There are no differences in religion or ethnicity: Nearly everyone here is a Sunni Pashtun. There are divisions among tribes and clans, but they are not a reliable indicator of support for the Taliban. And many residents regard U.S. forces as the cause of the growing instability, rather than the solution to it.
 
...
 
"Since they put the cement walls up, security is better, but nobody is coming to our shops," an elderly man named Rafiullah told Hodges as he visited his small stall filled with sundries next to a checkpoint on the western border.
 
...
 
Perhaps the most important reason population control worked to the extent it did in Baghdad was because each side believed the other posed an existential threat, and both turned to the United States for security. In many parts of southern and eastern Afghanistan, the population has yet to seek protection.
 
Many Kandaharis regard the Taliban as wayward brothers and cousins -- fellow Pashtuns with whom they can negotiate and one day reconcile. They also worry about siding with their government because they fear Taliban retribution, both now and when U.S. troop reductions begin next summer.
 
...
 
But the U.S. counterinsurgency strategy depends on persuading Pashtuns to get off the fence and cast their lot with their government. The U.S. military and civilian agencies are trying to help the government win over the public by delivering services to the population that the Taliban does not offer, including education, health care, agricultural assistance and justice based on the rule of law.
That requires capable civil servants willing to work in an unstable environment -- and that's where the strategy is hitting its most significant roadblock.
 
A recent effort by Karzai's local-governance directorate to fill 300 civil service jobs in Kandahar and the surrounding district turned up four qualified applicants, even after the agency dropped its application standards to remove a high school diploma, according to several U.S. officials.
 
The main impediment is security. Afghans don't want to work for their government or U.S. development contractors in such an unsafe environment.
 
...
 
In the Panjwai district to the west of Kandahar, U.S. officials say, the district governor and the police chief recently got into a fight. The chief hit the governor with a teakettle and the governor smashed a teacup on the chief's head, the confrontation culminating in a shootout between their guards.
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Rarick
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« Reply #725 on: August 04, 2010, 07:30:39 AM »

Yep, feral humans are a PITA.  They do not act from a sense of logic, are willing to TAKE by force whatever they want, and generally have no sense of respect for anyone- not even themselves.  I guess these guys need to be left alone to move up the ladder of evolution on their own as best they can.  When you get the stupidity that these government officials are acting out, there is not "material" to get stitches to take .......
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DougMacG
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« Reply #726 on: August 15, 2010, 07:13:42 PM »

3 page editorial basically favoring the war and stating that we have a long way to go.  My take on their take: There is currently a Presidential promise in place to end our commitment in less than one year.  If kept that means all we sacrificed so far and for the next year will be lost.  Gen. Petraeus seems to have the job of explaining to everyone sensible that we will stay longer.  The NY Times apparently has taken the assignment of explaining it to the liberal elites, the academics, the arts crowd and the kooks that make up the rest of the (Obama) ruling coalition. The President will follow later with some fireside chat and explain to us what we already knew from these surrogates.  As the NY Times puts it: "Americans need regular, straight talk from President Obama about what is happening in Afghanistan, for good and ill, and the plan going forward."  I'm sure it is coming - as soon as his pollsters and political advisers tell him it is time to do that. 

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/13/opinion/13fri1.html?_r=1&ref=opinion
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lonelydog
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« Reply #727 on: August 17, 2010, 02:11:48 PM »

I saw a piece that the Taliban executed a couple for eloping , , ,
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #728 on: August 22, 2010, 09:12:10 AM »

Newspaper wonders if we cause the floods , , ,

http://www.daily.pk/is-the-cia-playing-the-haarp-in-pakistan-19785/
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G M
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« Reply #729 on: August 22, 2010, 09:33:00 AM »

The muslim world is up to it's neck in crazy conspiracy theories.
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G M
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« Reply #730 on: August 24, 2010, 04:51:15 PM »

**Wow, it's almost like he's trying to lose this war....**


WASHINGTON — The Obama administration is focused on meeting its July 2011 deadline to begin withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan, but it has no political strategy to help stabilize the country, current and former U.S. officials and other experts are warning.

The failure to articulate what a post-American Afghanistan should look like and devise a political path for achieving it is a major obstacle to success for the U.S. military-led counter-insurgency campaign that's underway, these officials and experts said.



Read more: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2010/06/16/96019/experts-us-has-no-long-term-political.html#ixzz0rAPDYoRF


http://hotair.com/archives/2010/08/24/marine-corps-commandant-obamas-withdrawal-timetable-is-giving-sustenance-to-the-taliban/
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #731 on: September 04, 2010, 10:08:58 AM »

http://www.lasvegassun.com/news/2010/sep/04/insurgents-attack-2-bases-in-east-afghanistan/
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prentice crawford
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« Reply #732 on: September 06, 2010, 09:00:04 PM »

12 REASONS WHY A TALIBAN VICTORY IS INEVITABLE:

by Dr. Fadl

1. A successful jihad must be accompanied by a religious reform movement. The religious motivation of the Taliban (as opposed to tribal loyalties or the pursuit of wealth) meets this criterion.

2.The Taliban cause is just, as it seeks to repel foreign occupation. Dr. Fadl points to the examples of the American Revolution, French resistance to Vichy and Nazi rule and the anti-Japanese resistance movements in Asia during World War Two.

3. Cross-border tribal bonds with Pakistani Pashtun tribesmen are vital to the jihad's success; "Loyalty of the Pashtun in Pakistan to the Pashtun in Afghanistan is stronger than their loyalty to their government in Islamabad."

4. Jihad has popular support from the people of Afghanistan, who provide fighters with support, shelter and intelligence.

5. The nature of the terrain in Afghanistan and the inaccessibility of Taliban refugees make it eminently suitable for guerrilla warfare; "He who fights geography is a loser."

6. The backwardness of Afghanistan favors the success of jihad. The Russian experience proved that even a scorched-earth policy has little effect on people who are tolerant, patient and have little to lose in the first place. There is little in the way of cultural establishments to be destroyed -- Afghanistan's monuments are its mountains and "even atomic bombs do not affect them."

7. As the battlefield widens beyond the Taliban strongholds in the south, occupation forces must face increasing financial and personnel losses.

8. Both time and the capacity to endure losses are on the side of the Taliban, who "do not have a ceiling to their losses, especially with regards to lives..."

9. Suicide operations make up for the shortage of modern weapons.

10. After three decades of nearly continuous warfare, Taliban fighters and leaders have the necessary experience to prevail against the occupation.

11. History is also on the Taliban's side. Despite being world powers, both the British Empire and the Soviet Union failed to conquer Afghanistan.

12. Pakistan's support of the Taliban provides the necessary third-party refuge and supplies to any successful guerrilla struggle.

Dr. Fadl wrote the 1988 jihadi manual The Master in Making Preparation (for jihad), and a reexamination of al-Qaeda's global jihad called Rationalizing the Jihad Action in Egypt and the World. The latter he wrote after being sentenced to life imprisonment after 9/11 by an Egyptian court. He was a colleague of Ayman al-Zawahiri and his new book entitled Future of the War between America and the Taliban, is being released in excerpts by the pan-Arab daily al-Sharq al-Awsat.

 From a brief put out by the Jamstown Foundation, I consider them a valuable resource: www.jamestown.org/programs/gta/aboutusgta/

                              P.C.

« Last Edit: September 06, 2010, 09:23:47 PM by prentice crawford » Logged

prentice crawford
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« Reply #733 on: September 06, 2010, 10:42:43 PM »

Woof,
 I would like to discard Dr. Fadl's 12 points as being overly optimistic but in reading this, I have to concede that there is something to what he said. www.msnbc.msn.com/id/39027654/ns/world_news-south_and_central_asia

                      P.C.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #734 on: September 07, 2010, 01:48:47 AM »

Well certainly we have no chance with the currently enunciated strategy.

I too have made the point about Pashtunistan in my offering of some outside the box strategy.  Although I admit to the vanity of thinking my ideas rather clever, no one else in enunciating anything that I respect and so amongst the currently offered choices my vote is for "none of the above."

We need to remember that people cheered the overthrow of the Taliban and appreciate that maybe they do terrorize those who know we are leaving.


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Rarick
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« Reply #735 on: September 07, 2010, 03:28:52 AM »

I liked your solution too, but I suspect that there is no real material there for traction.......too many vested interests willing to pursue their own agenda over what could be a solution.

In my darker moments I get the simple old school "tribal Warfare Paradigm" wipe out as many people as possible in the threatening tribe, and hell with opinion/politics.

As it is I suspect we will be back in the area every 20-30 years cutting weeds, unless China begins to take over the job.
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G M
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« Reply #736 on: September 07, 2010, 12:12:12 PM »

Ideally we can get China directed towards the 'Stans rather than the Pacific as it finds an outlet for it's excess male population.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #737 on: September 07, 2010, 02:52:09 PM »

Why would they be motivated to do that?
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G M
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« Reply #738 on: September 07, 2010, 03:53:45 PM »

Well, the Chinese have been killing/keeping their boot on muslim populations within their borders for a long time. A long border with various 'Stans makes a Chinese city even more vulnerable to ugly things like a loose nuke. It's much easier to use land based transportation rather than sealift to project military power. Translate "Monroe Doctrine" into Mandarin, as I'm sure Beijing feels that way about it's immediate surroundings. A shrinking America will leave a vacuum of power that will require filling by someone and China needs natural resources from that part of the world.

Just a few off the top of my head....
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Rarick
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« Reply #739 on: September 08, 2010, 04:47:31 AM »

The "trillion of dollars in minerals" recently outed on the internet, and in Popular Mechanics are an incentive as well.  India and China would have an interest in that........
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #740 on: September 08, 2010, 06:30:27 AM »

Take a look at the topography of the narrow strip of China through which they would have to build a road sufficient to support that level of economic endeavor.  Then add in the dangers of operating in Afganistan.  The expense in money and the military effort IMHO are quite unappealing, even for the Chinese.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #741 on: September 09, 2010, 06:31:31 AM »

Expectations and Reality in Afghanistan

Afghan officials told Reuters on Tuesday that President Hamid Karzai’s regime had frozen the assets of leading shareholders and borrowers at the country’s top bank. These include Kabul Bank’s former chairman, Sher Khan Farnood, and chief executive officer, Khalilullah Frozi — each of whom owns a 28 percent stake in the bank. Both reportedly resigned their positions last week, which apparently triggered the run on the financial institution because of fears that the bank was collapsing in the wake of illegal withdrawals by some of its owners. Karzai’s brother, Mahmood, is the third-largest shareholder, with a 7 percent stake, and First Vice President Mohammad Qasim Fahim’s brother, Mohammad Haseen, also has interests in Kabul Bank.

That Afghanistan’s largest private bank is in trouble is not as significant as the Western media coverage of the issue. The Western press is depicting it as a major crisis, with some saying it is a larger problem than the rapidly intensifying Taliban insurgency. This view does not take into account that modern financial institutions in a country like Afghanistan cannot be treated as they are in other countries and the West.

“There is an assumption that Afghanistan’s problems can be solved by imposing a Western-style political economy on the country, which is why there is a tendency to gauge progress or the lack thereof in Western terms.”
Most Afghans who live beyond the few urban enclaves in the country do not rely on these institutions in their day-to-day business. In other words, Afghanistan’s financial world has nowhere near as far to fall as the West’s, so even its utter collapse — not just a crisis of confidence in one bank — would not have the same geopolitical magnitude. Thus, the effects of the collapse are not as important as we are led to believe, especially when compared to Afghanistan’s more fundamental problems of insecurity.

This is not to suggest that Western efforts in Afghanistan do not depend on aid and development. But after nearly nine years and tens of billions of dollars of Western aid, Afghanistan has not shown progress in terms of becoming a functional economy and the primordial goal of security has become increasing elusive. More importantly, given the plethora of reports on corruption and graft in the country incessantly produced in the Western public domain, it is only to be expected that Afghanistan’s political elite will skim more than a little off the top of the coffers. In a country defined by the lack of rule of law where tribal, ethnic, and regional warlords reign supreme, graft is only natural. It is not necessary to control corruption to achieve good governance. Indeed, in most countries, control over corruption is the outcome of the maturing of a political system that evolves from a consensus among its stakeholders.

In any case, that the potential collapse of Kabul Bank has created so much anxiety in the West points to a deeper problem — one directly related to the failures of Western strategy for the country. There is an assumption that Afghanistan’s problems can be solved by imposing a Western-style political economy on the country, which is why there is a tendency to gauge progress or the lack thereof in Western terms. Such views are based on an utter disregard for the simple reality that Afghanistan, which has not existed as a nation — let alone a state — for more than three decades, does not operate by the same rules as do most other countries. This much should be obvious from the fact that the U.S.-led West will not be turning Afghanistan into anything resembling a modern Western-style state anytime soon — and definitely not within the narrow window the Obama administration has given itself.

And herein lies the strategic problem. The United States wants to exit the country militarily as soon as possible, which means it does not have the luxury of time to bring Afghanistan into the 21st century. This would explain the story in the Washington Post from over the weekend that — contrary to the political rhetoric condemning corruption and promising to address it — reported that the U.S. military leadership in country is in the process of assuming a more pragmatic attitude toward corruption. The United States appears to be coming to terms with the reality that graft is a way of life in Afghanistan and needs to be tolerated to the degree that allows Washington to work with local leaders (who are unlikely to be clean) in attempting to undermine the momentum of the Taliban insurgency.

At this stage it is not clear that such a strategy would produce the desired results. But Washington has no other choice. Because what is very clear is that Afghanistan does not even compare to Iraq where, despite the massive challenges that remain, the United States was able to get the various factions to at least agree to a political system.
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Rarick
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« Reply #742 on: September 09, 2010, 09:29:12 AM »

Basically, for example, the Bank of Denver collapsing in 1910 would not affect many people outside of Denver..........  Most third world countries are living at exactly that level.  Outside the cities there is very little- no electricity, sewer, garbage collection.  Think instead of a house lit by kerosene lamps, supplied water by a well, an outhouse out back, and a trash/burn/compost pile.
Their banks are likely to be equally isolated and compartmented.

You have to think of each Valley as a separate tribe/ country and win each over. While keeping the "advanced wild west" conditions in mind (Wyatt Earp did not pack a satellite phone and solar charger....)
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G M
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« Reply #743 on: September 09, 2010, 07:25:41 PM »

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/China/KH27Ad02.html

Chinese troops offer an Afghan solution
By Francesco Sisci
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G M
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« Reply #744 on: September 09, 2010, 07:42:00 PM »

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/sep/04/troops-kashmir-alarm-india-pakistan

The claim that more than 7,000 Chinese troops have been handed "de facto control" of Gilgit-Baltistan, a northern part of Kashmir, by Islamabad, has set alarm bells ringing in Delhi. India – which, like its nuclear-armed rival Pakistan, claims the entire state – has long been worried that the People's Liberation Army was working on roads and railway projects in the Karakoram mountains.

What is true is that China plans a massive highway linking western China to the port it is building at Gwadar, Pakistan, on the shore of the Arabian Sea. The benefits are obvious: the journey time from factory gate in, say, China's wild west, to container ships bound for the Gulf will be cut from weeks to a few days. Eventually it may even become a key energy supply route.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #745 on: September 10, 2010, 12:47:18 AM »

I did not see this coming.  Very interesting GM.
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Rarick
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« Reply #746 on: September 10, 2010, 04:52:47 AM »

Only a matter of time.  Afpakia is really just a smaller bit of a bigger picture?

China has a vastly improved economy, it would follow that it would have the surplus to start thinking of making "investments" with in the form of extending influence, and acquireing resource providers.  That could mean state backed Mining/Mineral companies helping develop a country like Aramco.  (ChiMetals/ Afpakia Metals?)  Extending the influence by putting troops in disputed areas is also a good method.  China is also building an aircraft carrier, It is probably going to be spending a lot of time where?  I would guess Indian Ocean and China Sea. 
China is going thru an awakening much like America during the 40-50's.  Think it thru a bit............. China is also going to be the first country coming to its own after being influenced by Europeon Imperialism in the pre WW1 era too.  What considerations does that bring to the table?

The China Sea and Indian oceans could become China's "Great Lakes", India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Indonesia, Singapore......... are all highly linked to that basin.

I just hope we can extract ourselves from the "anchors" in that area, and are strong enough to help the Aussies when the time comes?
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prentice crawford
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« Reply #747 on: September 12, 2010, 10:31:03 PM »

Woof,
 If that evil Bush and Cheney don't get things lined out over there.... oh I forgot Bush and Cheney don't have anything to do with this anymore. Well, what's fair is fair; Oh that evil Obama.
  
www.msnbc.msn.com/id/39133494/ns/world_news-south_and_central_asia

                               P.C.
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prentice crawford
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« Reply #748 on: September 14, 2010, 06:43:47 PM »

Woof,
 Record levels of US airstrikes hit Afghan militants.

www.news.yahoo.com/s/ap/as_pakistan

                         P.C.
« Last Edit: September 14, 2010, 06:46:00 PM by prentice crawford » Logged

G M
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« Reply #749 on: September 25, 2010, 05:47:27 PM »

**Wow, it's almost like he's trying to lose this war....**


WASHINGTON — The Obama administration is focused on meeting its July 2011 deadline to begin withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan, but it has no political strategy to help stabilize the country, current and former U.S. officials and other experts are warning.

The failure to articulate what a post-American Afghanistan should look like and devise a political path for achieving it is a major obstacle to success for the U.S. military-led counter-insurgency campaign that's underway, these officials and experts said.



Read more: http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2010/06/16/96019/experts-us-has-no-long-term-political.html#ixzz0rAPDYoRF


http://townhall.com/columnists/MichaelGerson/2010/09/24/the_reluctant_warrior/page/full/

What comes across is a president deeply skeptical about the Afghan War, suspicious of the advice of military leaders and obsessed with finding exits and setting withdrawal deadlines. To a press or political aide in the administration, this must seem like the public relations sweet spot: Since Americans are conflicted about the Afghan War, won't they be reassured to know that the commander in chief is conflicted as well?

But a president has a number of audiences, including American troops, the allies who fight at our side, and enemies who constantly take the measure of our resolve. None are likely to be impressed by America's reluctant warrior.

The craziness of the process is not irrelevant. Future historians will study the Afghan policy review as a warning, not as a model. Obama's ambivalence has created a national security team in which arguments fester instead of ripen. The process revealed and widened divisions between civilian and military leaders, within the Joint Chiefs of Staff, between the National Security Council and the Department of Defense, and between American and Afghan officials. How can America's ambassador to Afghanistan, Karl Eikenberry, possibly continue in his job, having accused President Hamid Karzai of being on and off his depression meds?

Obama eventually imposed the broad outlines of an outcome. But the assent he demanded did not create agreement or consensus. There is no evidence that past arguments -- particularly concerning the hardness of the July 2011 withdrawal deadline -- have ended.

The process was not only chaotic but highly politicized, with national security adviser James Jones criticizing the role of the "campaign set," which he also dubbed the "Politburo" and the "mafia." Obama himself tied the outcome of the policy review to political considerations. "I can't lose the whole Democratic Party," he reportedly told Sen. Lindsey Graham.

Cynics may regard this as typical. Actually, it is remarkable. It is the most basic duty of a commander in chief to pursue the national interest above any other interest. The introduction of partisan considerations into strategic decisions merits a special contempt.

The largest problem is the president's own ambivalence. "This needs to be a plan about how we're going to hand it off and get out of Afghanistan," Obama is quoted as saying. During his campaign for president, Afghanistan was the good war, the war of necessity, the war that had been ignored but must be won. As president, Obama's overriding goal is retreat. "Everything we're doing has to be focused on how we're going to get to the point where we can reduce our footprint," Woodward quotes Obama. There can be no "wiggle room."

This attitude led to the president's decisive intervention -- a six-page memo designed to impose time and resource limitations on a reluctant military. Generals, of course, are not always right, as President George W. Bush discovered in the early years of the Iraq War. But are we supposed to be reassured that a president, of no proven military judgment, driven at least partially by political calculations, imposed a split-the-difference approach, only loosely related to actual need or analysis? A temporary increase of 30,000 troops coupled with a withdrawal deadline, it now seems, was an arbitrary compromise, not a fully developed military strategy. The armed forces were told to salute and make do. No wonder an Obama adviser complained to Woodward that the strategic review did not "add up" to the president's eventual policy.
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