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Thread: The future with Karzai: a debate (merged thread with new title)

  1. #21
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Fair questions, Slap. Playing the

    debbil's advocate, let me flip 'em for disccussin' purposes.
    1-As long as we are fighting,dying and paying for the Government I think we have a legitimate interest in having some control of that Government.
    An alternative question is: Is our interest in control of the government of 'X' legitimate enough for us to be fighting, dying and paying for that government? *
    2-As for focusing on the people of A'stan correcting the corrupt leadership of the country is focusing on the people of A'stan, isn't it?
    If the people of A'stan do not look upon their methods of interchange and intercourse as 'corrupt,' do we have an obligation -- or even a right -- to decide for them that they are wrong?

    More importantly, how much time and effort are we prepared to expend in the almost certainly very difficult if not doomed attempt to turn around several centuries of practice?

    A practice that while technically illegal and frowned upon still exists and skews things in our own nation to an admittedly lesser but still pervasive extent? What does such an effort say to others about our being hypocritical and thus encourage them to ignore our preaching as we do indulge in the practice ourselves...



    * I realize we are there and my question thus is marginal on the merits and 'what if' doesn't do it. I ask it not so much for Afghanistan which is on a course that is set and we will not, cannot, significantly affect but for consideration prior to embarking on future operations.

  2. #22
    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    I like Ken's version.
    Robert C. Jones
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  3. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    GIROA can never be any anything but corrupt, with fixed elections under the current constitution. Bad systems lead to bad results.

    In the US we forget how blessed we are by our good systems.

    As to Mr. Karzai, that is a matter between him and the people of Afghanistan. The U.S. needs to get out of the mindset of thinking that if we don't like a particular leader of another nation that we have some right to change that leader.

    We need to make our focus the people of Afghanistan. The Afghan Army is never going to threaten the US; but if we take positions that are counter to the well being of the populace of Afghanistan the people certainly can.

    Mr. Karzai is doing the US a favor by creating separation and working to create legitimacy for his presidency that if not borne of the popular will of Afghanistan, at least is not perceived as borne of the popular will of the US.

    We need to step back and reassess where certain "lines" are. There are things that are within our "area of concern"; those that are within our "area of influence"; and those that are within our "area of control." We traveled down a slippery slope throughout the Cold war, and the subsequent War on Terrorism, to where we seem to think that every corner of the globe not within the sovereign borders of a nuclear state is within our area of control. I doubt that there are many others who agree with that assessment; and it is a position that is wearing thin with friends and foes alike.

    Once we realize that not everything that concerns us can or should be influenced by us, and certainly even less should be controlled by us, we will begin to find the security from terrorist attacks that we seek, and a reemergence of the influence with others that has waned of late.

    Perhaps Mr. Karzai will help us to figure that out.
    Mr. Karzai is no longer considered by the people of Afghanistan as their legitimate ruler. He is seen as our installed dictator.

    The Afghans I dealt with (Ghilzai Pashtoon primarily) had no problem with the US because the vast majority realized we are a temporary problem that will go away. They had huge problems with both Karzai and the government's construct.

    We have earned the right to have a huge say in Afghanistan because
    1. We broke it, we bought it.
    2. We installed Karzai (that is not only true, but believed by 90% of the Afghans out there)
    3. We are defending (but not, tragically, defunding) the current corrupt, disliked and illigitimate government.

    Mr Karzai is doing us no favors at all. When he parrots the worst lies of the Taliban (which he does regularly) he does nothing to distance himself, he just makes the US look like liars. When his regime falls, he will follow nasrallah's path quite quickly. And I will shed no tears.

    Where our opinions converge is that we tried to create government in a model of western european society and with no regard or understanding of Afghan society.
    So we have an omnipotent central government, controllling both the military and police(!) appointed governors and a toothless, but popularly elected parliment. The Afghans quickly understood how worthless voting is and that is reflected by the ridiculously low turn out in the last election, even in areas where security was established

    Karzai has done us, and the people of Afghanistan, no favors. Everyday he remains in power he hurts the interests of the United States and destabilizes the IGoA

    Afghan society is capable of decentralized governance and peace at a much lower cost to the US in both military and cash cost.

    The sooner we come to realize our mis-steps and rectify them, as opposed to doubling down, the sooner we can leave Afghanistan with our short and long term objectives met.
    Last edited by Sylvan; 04-09-2010 at 04:45 PM. Reason: Failure to proof read

  4. #24
    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    Sylvan,

    I think you should re-read what I wrote; and also consider if the ends-ways-means of what you propose match up.

    You say we should "realize our mis-steps and rectify them." I agree, we just differ as to what the mis-steps are and how to go about rectifying them.

    The fastest way to get Karzai to either be legitimate or replaced is to encourage his pursuit of legitimate processes, such as the Peace Jirga that his current actions are building up to.

    Your steps 1-3 essentially state that we have made Afghanistan our sovereign property/problem; so we can do what we want. I argure that we need to distance ourself from that position, and that if Karzai throws some hard words in our general direction in the process, to put some thickskin on and deal with it.

    We need to change the course of both our politics and our military strategy here, just doing one or the other isn't enough. Personally I think that Mr K's current play supports what GEN McChrystal is doing very well.
    Robert C. Jones
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    "The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)

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    Default Decentralized Government

    Sylvan:

    That's exactly right.

    From what I can figure out, Afghanistan has always had a very complex form of decentralized concensus based governance which is consistently contrary to the desires and interests of external parties.

    But none of those external parties has, to date, figured out how to centralize things, and those who have tried, even with internal Afghan "national" figures has not been successful.

    The remainder issue for us is what basic formats need to be in place in order to assure our realistic objectives, given the reality of a decentralized Afghanistan.

    I remain of the opinion that many Afghans do, in fact, want the international community to do many things for them. So, when and how can they build a concensus around trading between what the international community wants as a floor for doing what they want. That discussion, concensus needs to be addressed, with or without the Mayor's input---for them to decide.

    Hard to imagine that a well-focused and realistic military mission can not be accomplished in the next year provided we don't get lost in chasing the windmills in Afghanistan.

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    A Loya Jirga that keeps the current Constitution in place is doomed to failure.
    As long as Karzai is willing to fight to the last American, we get primary authority in that country. I have seen the ANA just sit in their FOBs all day while the ANP and ISAF do the brunt of the fighting. When the Afghans step up, they get more say.

    Non-concur on Karzai supporting McChrystal, unless to give support to McChrystal's excusal of ANA non-performance on the battlefield due to "A poverty of resources."

    While lip-service is given to fighting corruption, the money is still flowing into Karzai's coffers, AWK still is de-facto governor and chief drug runner in Kandahar, and the elections were so ridiculously rigged that our continued expression of Karzai being "the elected leader of Afghanistan" is a joke in Afghanistan and out.

    If in fact he calls a Loya Jirga (which he really has to) the results of that Jirga will be the deciding factor. I believe he will buy off the attendees and maintain the Status quo. While hiding behind the fig leaf of using Afghan traditions.

    We will see. I am not (obviously) optimistic.

  7. #27
    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    debbil's advocate, let me flip 'em for disccussin' purposes.An alternative question is: Is our interest in control of the government of 'X' legitimate enough for us to be fighting, dying and paying for that government? * If the people of A'stan do not look upon their methods of interchange and intercourse as 'corrupt,' do we have an obligation -- or even a right -- to decide for them that they are wrong?

    More importantly, how much time and effort are we prepared to expend in the almost certainly very difficult if not doomed attempt to turn around several centuries of practice?

    A practice that while technically illegal and frowned upon still exists and skews things in our own nation to an admittedly lesser but still pervasive extent? What does such an effort say to others about our being hypocritical and thus encourage them to ignore our preaching as we do indulge in the practice ourselves...



    * I realize we are there and my question thus is marginal on the merits and 'what if' doesn't do it. I ask it not so much for Afghanistan which is on a course that is set and we will not, cannot, significantly affect but for consideration prior to embarking on future operations.
    Hi Ken, all I can say is agree with you 100%. The correct Political Questions have never been asked and answered. I do think that Brzezinski's viewpoint has a lot of merit. Link to interview below.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VXy8mz_UVEU

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    Default Ajami's Take

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000...ctions_opinion

    Snip
    Some months ago, our envoy to Kabul, Ambassador Karl Eikenberry, saw into the heart of the matter in a memo to his superiors. Mr. Eikenberry was without illusions about President Karzai. He dismissed him as a leader who continues to shun
    responsibility for any sovereign burden, whether defense, governance or development. He and his circle don't want the U.S. to leave and are only too happy to see us invest further. They assume we covet their territory for a never-ending war on terror and for military bases to use against surrounding powers.
    The Eikenberry memorandum lays to rest once and for all the legend of Afghanistan as a "graveyard of empires." Rather than seeking an end to the foreign military presence, the Afghans and their leader seek to perpetuate it. It spares them the hard choice of building a nation-state, knitting together feuding ethnicities and provinces, and it brings them enormous foreign treasure.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 04-09-2010 at 07:05 PM. Reason: Add quote marks

  9. #29
    Council Member Firn's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=Sylvan;96502]
    ...
    "responsibility for any sovereign burden, whether defense, governance or development. He and his circle don't want the U.S. to leave and are only too happy to see us invest further. They assume we covet their territory for a never-ending war on terror and for military bases to use against surrounding powers."
    So in short he thinks that he and his circle think that the necessities of a perceived Realpolitik of the West and especially of the US gives him enough hand to bite in and to gain political capital out of it. I really wonder if he does see it like that and very much so if his biting is in our interest.


    Firn

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    [QUOTE=Firn;96509]
    Quote Originally Posted by Sylvan View Post
    ...


    So in short he thinks that he and his circle think that the necessities of a perceived Realpolitik of the West and especially of the US gives him enough hand to bite in and to gain political capital out of it. I really wonder if he does see it like that and very much so if his biting is in our interest.


    Firn
    Karzai believes he is in an inpenatrable position. I believe he is correct in his assessment.
    He is, "our man" We failed to rein him in in the last election and now he is free to do as he sees fit. He believes we won't leave and Obama doesn't give off the vibe of strength that Bush did.
    thats why the "You leave or we do" ultimatim is our only viable course of action if we are serious about good governance in Afghanistan.

  11. #31
    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sylvan View Post
    The Eikenberry memorandum lays to rest once and for all the legend of Afghanistan as a "graveyard of empires." Rather than seeking an end to the foreign military presence, the Afghans and their leader seek to perpetuate it. It spares them the hard choice of building a nation-state, knitting together feuding ethnicities and provinces, and it brings them enormous foreign treasure.
    Yea, we are being played for suckers

  12. #32
    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve the Planner View Post
    Two weeks ago, Bing West gave a very clear and cogent report on the Marjah operation, ending with the routine warning that it all depends on the ability of the Afghans to step up for the later Hold, and Build phases...

    ...Bottom Line, in my read of it, was the recommendation that Karzai be bypassed, especially by US dollars, and that the mission be right-sized to a realistic one of clear, hold, turn over. Turn over to who? The Afghan military? Turn over what? Responsibility for policing and governance?

    What about the locals? Work with the ones that will work with us. Leave the ones that are puppets of Kabul.
    Wouldn't that set up a tripolar Afghanistan? The Taliban and their local officials, Karzai and his local officials, us and our local officials? Sounds a prescription for chaos and madness.

    It is interesting to note that Karzai and his cronies are finally being openly recognized as a large part of the problem... not that this is news to anyone who's been paying attention, but we're seeing a much more general acceptance of that particular elephant in the drawing room. It will be interesting to see if we pin the blame for dysfunction exclusively on Karzai and his crowd, or if we will accept that a large part of the problem is the system that bought Karzai to power, which was largely created by the intervening powers - which would put more of the responsibility on poor decisions on our side.

    I have a hard time seeing how an effort to circumvent Karzai while leaving him in office is going to accomplish much. We coukd of course go back to the 70s, back a coup, and try to get a compliant general installed, but this hasn't produced entirely positive results in the past.

    The idea of withdrawing, letting Karzai fall, and either dealing with whoever steps in (if it's not the Taliban) or going back in, removing the Taliban again, and starting over seems impossibly ass-backwards, but none of the alternatives sound much better. We do manage to work ourselves into some freakishly weird positions.

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve the Planner View Post
    He recognizes the risk of turning Afghanistan into a military dictatorship, but points to examples (Philipines, South Korea) where that worked out OK. Bottom line, though is that it is for Afghans (not the US) to make their governments work, and not for us to prop up bad ones.
    The invocation of the Philippine experience is of questionable relevance; the situations are hardly analogous and West's account is historically inaccurate. (A turf-driven digression, I admit.)

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    Dahayun:

    I was looking forward to your comments (especially about the Phillipines).

    Try to unscramble the muddle between Karzai and what increasingly is viewed by him as a block (Holbrooke/Galbraith/ISI/Taliban- ex Baradar), and it lloks like we could not be any more "in your face" to him than we are.

    Iran sure looks like a close-by refuge in case things turn the way of Kyrgystan. Better off there than hanging around off a lamppost.

    My guess is that the whole thing, like Iraq's election negotiations, is a game in progress, with no certain or predicatable outcomes.

    On the other hand, pressing against Karzai may initially trigger his worries, but, on the other hand, trigger the worries of those who rely on, or would like to get, US and International assistance. The point of many of his powerful supporters, and opponents alike, was to get access to the trough we keep filling. If the US had the moxy to credibly threaten that trough, internal politics would have to come into play like never before.

    How does anyone react if it were a credible potential that Karzai was no longer a path to the trough, and directly threatens future access for those not yet feeding?

    BBC News goes everywhere, and the events in Kyrgystan, are all in the same neighborhood/sphere. All manner of things can occur when pressure builds.

    The question is: If we stand like patsies while being openly dissed by him, there is no reason for anybody to do anything different. Status Quo is not a viable solution for us either.

    In my mind, Galbraith and Holbrooke are abundantly signaling that a window is closing, and he isn't at it. To me. West's article was a "put" in the military game, as well as a further play to mobilize political support for US efforts.

    If all that doesn't trigger a response, then another hand will be dealt. I doubt that any hand would ever include full-US withdrawal, but if Holbrooke and ISI are together and can limit/control the Taliban to meet minimum US objectives, it would not be the first time that we have substantially turned on our heel.

    I just wonder whether all these folks are bluff (our side included), and the game will go on unchanged for a very long time. Something about having balls, or cutting the Gordian Knot that requires at least one party to actually do something significantly different. Haven't seen that yet.

    On the other hand, if you start seeing serious experts like Dr. Cordesman come back from the current grand tour with serious change recommendations, US domestic politics could rapidly shift one way or another.

    My three cents.

  14. #34
    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve the Planner View Post
    I was looking forward to your comments (especially about the Phillipines).
    One absolute guaranteed way to get a rise out of me is to claim that Reagan's withdrawal of support was responsible for the fall of Marcos. A bit Pavlovian, yes, but I guess most of us have a hot button, or two or ten.

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve the Planner View Post
    If all that doesn't trigger a response, then another hand will be dealt. I doubt that any hand would ever include full-US withdrawal, but if Holbrooke and ISI are together and can limit/control the Taliban to meet minimum US objectives, it would not be the first time that we have substantially turned on our heel.

    I just wonder whether all these folks are bluff (our side included), and the game will go on unchanged for a very long time. Something about having balls, or cutting the Gordian Knot that requires at least one party to actually do something significantly different. Haven't seen that yet.
    I really wonder what that other hand is going to be. We had a window, with the obviously fraudulent election, but we seem to have passed it up, and windows don't stay open forever. If we set up a system, we accept the results of an election, and then we turn around and pull it all down because we don't like what came out of what we did... have to cringe at that, looks a bit of a debacle on the PR side.

    Maybe someone's got a creative idea... I hope so, and I hope (without much confidence) that we can pull it off. I'm not betting on significant reform from Karzai with any amount of pressure; I just don't think he has the capacity.

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    Sorry, I'm confused. Let me see if I understand.

    The US put Karzai in place then ensured he got "elected?" - Roger so far?
    The US is in Afghanistan with the permission of Karzai? - Correct?

    .... so what is it about the strategy or the policy is it that has caused Karzai to threaten to join the Taliban?
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

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    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
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  16. #36
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default I don't know but my guesses would be that

    - he hates being put on the spot about cleaning up corruption which is as Afghan as Nan (which is to say it migrated there out of Persia --as have so many things, including the Naan, or Nun as it is now...). It's an impossible dream.

    - he hates being told, after only six years, to get his barely existent government moving to do things the US doesn't do well after 200+. Our impatience often comes across as hypocrisy. It always tends to bug other less driven cultures.

    - he senses that the US wants out, badly, thus once again leaving Afghans in the lurch. We say we won't do that; history says we will and our opponents (to include some so-called Allies) point out Viet Nam, Panama, Somalia, as well as other times and places where we -- logically -- put our interests first * except they couch it as "You can't trust the Americans."

    Enough to make anyone want to do or be something else...


    * I have no problem with putting our interest first; I do have a problem with being smarmy and saying we'll do something we have no intention (or capability, not the same thing but has the same effect) of doing because it seems to perhaps, maybe, be something that might be in our interest in the near term...

    Our electoral cycle poses numerous problems as well as even more benefits. The problem is not that cycle, it is the failure of planners to consider it.

    Hey, Bob, Jeremy -- you guys see that???

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    cross posting: I had convinced myself that the US actually wants to leave a reasonable stable non-taliban Afghanistan after they successfully suppress the taliiban, but I am increasingly fearful that not only will the US be UNABLE to do so, it does not even WANT to do so. I cannot make out what they DO want, but it sure doesnt look good. ISI is back on top in Pakistan and crowing about "strategic victory". Everyone in Afghanistan (including Karzai) is busy trying to look beyond a US defeat. This may reach the point of no return sooner rather than later. The fact is, I can even understand why that may make sense from an American point of view. America will probably do fine without playing world cop all over the place. Unfortunately, the mess that now exists in that region will get much worse before it gets better if America leaves. But, I was wrong about US intentions, I hope I am wrong about that too....maybe things will actually get better with less American interference. But then again, expecting China, India, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Russia to behave sensibly and stay on even keel and manage to pay/manage the Pak army without encouraging millenial jihadi dreams, that seems like a tall order.....

  18. #38
    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    Default Perhaps if you looked at it from a different perspective?

    Quote Originally Posted by omarali50 View Post
    cross posting: I had convinced myself that the US actually wants to leave a reasonable stable non-taliban Afghanistan after they successfully suppress the taliiban, but I am increasingly fearful that not only will the US be UNABLE to do so, it does not even WANT to do so. I cannot make out what they DO want, but it sure doesnt look good. ISI is back on top in Pakistan and crowing about "strategic victory". Everyone in Afghanistan (including Karzai) is busy trying to look beyond a US defeat. This may reach the point of no return sooner rather than later. The fact is, I can even understand why that may make sense from an American point of view. America will probably do fine without playing world cop all over the place. Unfortunately, the mess that now exists in that region will get much worse before it gets better if America leaves. But, I was wrong about US intentions, I hope I am wrong about that too....maybe things will actually get better with less American interference. But then again, expecting China, India, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Russia to behave sensibly and stay on even keel and manage to pay/manage the Pak army without encouraging millenial jihadi dreams, that seems like a tall order.....
    I see a Taliban senior leadership breaking ties with their Pakistani masters, so much so that Pakistan is lashing out and rounding up large numbers to remind them that they have no intention of letting them quit this partnership for controlling Afghanistan.

    I see an Afghan President finally recognizing that he can never defeat an insurgency in his own country until he is willing to create the perception that it actually is his own country and that he is actually the one in charge of it; and not some cabal of foreigners.

    I see Afghans relying less of foreign constructs provided for them by that same foreign cabal and reaching out to the informal and formal leaders across Afghanistan in a series of Jirgas to discuss the concerns and desires of the people in a style viewed as legitimate here.

    I see great discomfort, and also great understanding within the cabal of what is going on. Personally I agree with those who see promise in this, and find myself in good company, small though it may be. Those who are most uncomfortable are those who are least able to step back from their own paradigms.

    Is Mr. Karzai crossing lines of polite politics? Certainly, but this is no time for polite politics, this is a time for action, and he understands that. One way or another the foreigners who lifted him to power are going to leave sooner than later, and he must decide what kind of solution he wants to have left behind: A Coalition Solution; a Pakistani Solution; or an Afghan Solution. I for one, will not find fault in the man for seeking the Afghan Solution.



    I also think it is important to understand that military action only shapes conditions in insurgency, but that success and failure lay at the Governmental level. Populaction Centric approaches are a wise way to approach a populace that is all going to have to work together to be a part of the stable state that emerges from conflict; but it is Government Centric approaches (i.e., a recognition that one must address the true fundamental failings of government that give rise to such conflicts, which I believe are in the neighborhood of Legitimacy; Respect; Justice and trusted processess for the populace to address the same).


    So I see things moving in the right direction; and I hope Mr. Karzai succeeds in his efforts; because no amount of foreign military or humanitarian action can solve a problem of this nature if he does not. I also recognize that if Mr. Karzai succeeds it may lead to him ultimately being replaced by some character not approved of by many supporting his government now; I think he recognizes that as well. But then, the only result that can be truly legitimate is one that is not also preordained or controlled.
    Last edited by Bob's World; 04-11-2010 at 02:24 AM.
    Robert C. Jones
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    "The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)

  19. #39
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    Default "Proof" for the Karzai narrative?

    This BBC report 'Italians held over Afghanistan 'assassination plot' alleging Italian NGO staff involvement in a plot to kill the Helmand governor is not good news and rather fits in with the Karzai narrative:
    Three Italian medical workers are among nine men arrested in Afghanistan in connection with an alleged plot to kill a provincial governor, officials say. The detentions came after suicide bomb vests and weapons were discovered at a hospital run by a Milan-based charity in Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand.
    Link:http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/mid...st/8613801.stm
    davidbfpo

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    Default Peter Galbraith On Farid Zakari Today

    Peter Galbraith was interviewed on Farid Zakari this morning. It is not on You tube yet so I can't post it, but it was a most interesting interview. It will replay again later in the day on MSNBC watch it if you get a chance. Ooops!!! it is CNN not MSNBC!!!!
    Last edited by slapout9; 04-11-2010 at 05:48 PM. Reason: fix stuff

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