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Thread: An Open Letter to President Obama

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default An Open Letter to President Obama

    Hat tip to http://circlingthelionsden.blogspot.com/

    Curiously an item which I've not seen in the usual media places I visit. Even with the signatories, several of whose work has featured here, for examples Gilles Dorronsoro, Bernard Finel, Antonio Giustozzi and Ahmed Rashid.

    Link to the cached edition, as the website fails to load:http://webcache.googleusercontent.co...&ct=clnk&gl=uk or via:http://circlingthelionsden.blogspot....emics-and.html

    The arguments are well made IMHO and I've refrained from selecting choice passages. Read yourself.
    davidbfpo

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    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    The list of attached experts is quite formidable. However the clutching for the straw of Taliban negotiations as a way out strikes me as just as unrealistic and engaging in similar wistful thinking as those who argue for night-raiding our way out of the problem.

    If the authors of the letter are correct and the Taliban hold the military momentum, then there absolutely no incentive for them to negotiate at all.

    Even if the Taliban wished to negotiate, the authors do not show a clear delineation of how Pakistan could also be brought to the table - as they must be, given the spoiler's hand they hold over both the Taliban and the coalition.

    The authors also place a great deal of faith in the Taliban leadership's maturity and willingness to put aside their short-term interest in the interests of Afghanistan's future as a whole. I'll just say that if the Taliban leadership was willing and able to do so, that would indicate a level of political maturity and control far beyond that of any Afghan political actor in last 50 years. However I don't anticipate Mullah Omar becoming Nelson Mandela anytime soon, and putting our hopes behind him doing so is at least as foolish as anything else in this war.

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    not to be snarky, but the current campaign plan of 'clear-hold-build' isn't "clutching at straws?" Which seems more of a pipedream given 9 yrs of recent history and the realities of Afghan politics?

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    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    I'm sorry, but negotiation is no more realistic given just those constraints.

    What seems more the pipe-dream, you ask? Negotiation is much more the pipe-dream for the reasons I listed above.

    I find it far more plausible that the U.S. can build and fund an Afghan military and associated militias capable of holding several provinces against the Taliban than to believe that the Taliban will voluntarily negotiate a politically viable diplomatic solution to the war with Western nations, the Afghan government, and Pakistan.

    I note that those advocating negotiation have never yet been able to envision even the broad outlines of what such a settlement might look like. I posit that there is no such settlement to be had - the priorities of the factions within the Afghan government, the Western nations, the Taliban, and most of all Pakistan are incompatible. Too many of the current parties get more out of the current situation than they would if the war came to a negotiated end. The incentives for nearly all the major players (excepting the U.S.) are all for victory, or at the very least playing out the string.
    Last edited by tequila; 12-15-2010 at 03:17 AM.

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    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    Tequila:

    I would like to add two things to your arguments. At least I hope they will add.

    The first one is I think advocates of negotiations forget that the Taliban are totalitarians. That word has gone out of fashion but that is what they are. The history of the 20th century shows that totalitarians don't negotiate anything but the surrender of their targets. This is important.

    Second, if I were the Pak Army/ISI/Taliban & company, I would find it very advantageous to start negotiations. It would open up another front against the US. Lots of people would expect negotiations to produce results...fast. The only people who could give something to produce fast results would be us and some of our people would push very hard for us to do just that; and force various Afghan segments to give whether they wanted to or not. We would be opening this new front against us, ourselves.

    I have question for you and anybody else. Do you think Americans and American military culture has reached the point where we put the same blind, gullible faith in SpecOps to solve all problems that we have in technology to solve all problems? It is almost as if they are viewed as biological machines that will do it all. That is something that strikes me when I see us clinging to night raids even when many people who know the area say they don't work.
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

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    Quote Originally Posted by tequila View Post
    I find it far more plausible that the U.S. can build and fund an Afghan military and associated militias capable of holding several provinces against the Taliban than to believe that the Taliban will voluntarily negotiate a politically viable diplomatic solution to the war with Western nations, the Afghan government, and Pakistan.
    While I believe it would be possible to fund an army the question is ‘for whom would they hold the territory?’ Create a dominant military force and someone will arise to wield it and I see no reason to have any faith that they would use it in a way the funders would approve of. The funding would also need to be sustained indefinitely as the type of force being created is not one Afghanistan can afford or - even on the rosiest estimates – look likely to become able to afford for at least a generation or two.

    As to the ‘viable diplomatic solution’ I agree that seems unlikely at present as the occupying coalition’s domestic audience has been sold an unrealistic dream so a reality based outcome is not politically acceptable. I think abandonment of an alien top down, secular, democratic government in favour of a bottom up Islamic Sharia/Shura system has a chance if there is no overwhelming central military force and only a weak central government that is stripped of the ‘Vichy’ taint so it is acceptable to Pakistan, China, the resistance and regional/tribal leaders. This kind of arrangement might be acceptable to the Asian stakeholders but is probably a bridge too far for the occupation.
    Last edited by JJackson; 12-15-2010 at 01:22 PM.

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    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JJackson View Post
    As to the ‘viable diplomatic solution’ I agree that seems unlikely at present as the occupying coalition’s domestic audience has been sold an unrealistic dream so a reality based outcome is not politically acceptable. I think abandonment of an alien top down, secular, democratic government in favour of a bottom up Islamic Sharia/Shura system has a chance if there is no overwhelming central military force and only a weak central government that is stripped of the ‘Vichy’ taint so it is acceptable to Pakistan, China, the resistance and regional/tribal leaders. This kind of arrangement might be acceptable to the Asian stakeholders but is probably a bridge too far for the occupation.
    That sounds to me like the restoration of the Taliban to power. That may be palatable to "Pakistan, China, the resistance and regional/tribal leaders" but what about the rest of the world and the Tajiks, Uzbeks, Hazaras and the Pashtuns who want their daughters to graduate high school?
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

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    I am always amazed by those who argue against doing what is most likely to work simply because it is difficult.

    Doing the wrong thing, like the surge, is difficult as well and highly unlikely to produce any positive results, yet we plunge into that. Yet when a group of very savvy professionals suggest doing the right thing (with its clear difficulties) it is attacked.

    I would sign this letter in a second, with no regrets. The key is in the paragraph following the one recommending mediating a cease fire to sit down with the Quetta Shura. This is a no-trust environment, and the Northern Alliance does not want the camel's nose under the tent of governance, for fear it will barge on in and run them back into the roll of the oppressed. They prefer to keep us there guarding them. We must become neutral in our approach, stop protecting one side, and bring them together to form a shared approach to governance. A new constitution that breaks the Karzai monopoly must be crafted with all parties participating.

    My wife is a school teacher. When a teacher breaks up a fight between students, they don't jump in and help the student they like the best to kick the other kid's butt. They jump in the middle, taking some shots as the push the parties apart and then force them to sort it out. You can't make them like it, but you can make them do it. Same should apply to our intervention.
    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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    Carl, I do not think it needs to be a return to Taliban totalitarianism but I think it is unrealistic to believe they can be totally excluded, and still have a peaceful Afghanistan. The ethnic groups you listed would all be represented, as they have been historically, by those they choose to represent them at the various levels of Shura. Polling – such as it is in this environment – makes it clear there is no appetite for a return to the ultra orthodox Taliban interpretation of Koranic law but that does not mean a legal system routed in Sharia, not Magna Carta, would not gain wide acceptance. The Taliban imposed ruled by force, I think a solution requires that no group be able to dictate with out being able to enlist the support of others to form a coalition. My understanding of traditional Afghan governance is that consensus, after a fair bit of arguing and horse trading, is they way they expect things to be done.

    I do not know if there is a way to get to this point, from where we are now, and how to dismantle some of the corrupt structures we have been busy creating. I am however convinced that the poor long suffering civilians do not want, or trust, the solution we are imposing or a return of an all powerful Taliban. What they want is the fighting to stop and the troops to go away, and that means negotiating with and sharing some power with the resistance, including the Taliban.

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    Bob and JJackson:

    The big question is how can you make them do it? A negotiated solution whereby everybody has to agree to play nice together is a great goal but what if they refuse to do it? The teacher Bob mentioned has moral authority but ultimately she has recourse to superior physical force with which to impose her will upon the combatants. She calls the cops.

    If the antagonists in this case refuse to play nice, who are we going to call? Are we willing to impose the physical force needed to make them, especially the Taliban who get to hide in Pakistan?

    What concerns me about this is the point I raised before. By the nature of our society, the deck is stacked against us in "talks." Dayahun said in another thread that one or both sides will just use the talks to advance their real goal, acquisition of total power.

    The tragic thing about this is the wishes of the long suffering Afghan civilian don't matter much. The wishes of the people who are willing to organize, arm themselves, seek support and fight, for good cause or bad, are the ones that maatter.
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

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    Default BLUF is that it's not our call to pick who governs Afghanistan

    Quote Originally Posted by Carl View Post
    Bob and JJackson:

    The big question is how can you make them do it? A negotiated solution whereby everybody has to agree to play nice together is a great goal but what if they refuse to do it? The teacher Bob mentioned has moral authority but ultimately she has recourse to superior physical force with which to impose her will upon the combatants. She calls the cops.

    If the antagonists in this case refuse to play nice, who are we going to call? Are we willing to impose the physical force needed to make them, especially the Taliban who get to hide in Pakistan?

    What concerns me about this is the point I raised before. By the nature of our society, the deck is stacked against us in "talks." Dayahun said in another thread that one or both sides will just use the talks to advance their real goal, acquisition of total power.

    The tragic thing about this is the wishes of the long suffering Afghan civilian don't matter much. The wishes of the people who are willing to organize, arm themselves, seek support and fight, for good cause or bad, are the ones that matter.
    Or any other country. But we did, and we are now committed to keeping our illegitimate solution in power.

    We all know how we would feel if China inserted itself In US politics to keep some party in power to protect their national interest of preventing the default on our debt to them or adoption of expensive programs that made that default more likely. Yet somehow we cannot grasp that others look at our interventions in the same way. Hell, maybe China would indeed save us from our own foolishness, but even the best external program forced on some nation is worse than the worst internal program the adopt on their own.

    There is no easy or sure answer to this, but there are smart fundamental parameters that we routinely violate, usually to our chagrin.

    There are viable models out there that can guide our actions. A constitution in Lebanon that guarantees roles and percentages of seats by critical interest group. A US constitution that keeps any one branch of power from becoming to strong, and a bill of rights that protects the populace from the government, and ensures that the government stays in line for fear of an informed and armed populace.

    COIN doctrine is rooted in Colonial and Cold War control of others. It needs updated to recognize a greater neutrality on the part of those who deign to intervene in the governance of others. Similarly the U.S. is grown too used to controlling others with various tools of statecraft, and is therefore frustrated by the ineffectiveness of those tools on controlling non-state entities. Another area that needs updating.

    But the real bottom line is, what do we lose by attempting to reconcile the parties and forcing them to share governance within the constraints of a new constitution under the oversight of the coalition until they prove they can play nice? Isn't 10 years of spinning our wheels enough? At the end of the day the Taliban are not and never were an enemy of the U.S.; and it is the Pashtun people, not the governments of Afghanistan or Pakistan that grant sanctuary to AQ. We just need to refocus a bit.
    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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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    I am always amazed by those who argue against doing what is most likely to work simply because it is difficult.
    Difficult is what we are doing now.

    A successful negotiation is entering the realm of the impossible.

    The Taliban and Pakistan have no incentive to move towards a negotiated end to the fighting. Indeed, they have material incentives to sabotage such negotiations.

    The Taliban
    1) Have repeatedly denied negotiating with anyone. Have predicated the beginning of negotations on a Western withdrawal of forces. Would likely lose credibility with Gulf Arab funders if seen as publicly breaking with either of the prior two conditions.

    2) If the letter is correct in its assumptions, the Taliban are already winning militarily. Why negotiate now when its position will be much stronger later?

    3) Various Taliban warlords are making enormous sums off the Western presence now and will continue to do so only if they continue to exert a credible threat of violence to extort funds from contractors, NGOs, narcotics organizations, and ordinary Afghans.

    Pakistan
    1) Is making billions in its current position as regional spoiler from U.S. aid. Primary goal is keep this money spigot flowing, as this maintains the current tottering power structure. This will stop if the U.S. begins to take Afghanistan less seriously.

    2) Is watching its primary Afghan agent, the Taliban, taking power. Why stop this, when dominance is within view?

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    I try not to talk about Afghanistan much anymore because I'm burned out, cynical and unobjective at this point. However, the two alternatives provided here sound to me like being given a choice to contract either syphilis or gonorrhea - in other words neither is good even if one might be marginally "better" than the other.

    We should explore anything that is even remotely likely to result in a stable Afghanistan and/or provide the US with an opportunity to honorably disengage from Afghanistan, but let's not kid ourselves that our chances for success are very good with either of these two options.
    Supporting "time-limited, scope limited military actions" for 20 years.

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    Robert C. Jones:

    I have a few questions. You say "it's not our call to pick who governs Afghanistan." Does the same go for the Pak Army/ISI? Do they get to pick?

    I am not sure Lebanon's constitution is a viable model. They seem to have a lot of trouble over there.

    You also said.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    At the end of the day the Taliban are not and never were an enemy of the U.S.; and it is the Pashtun people, not the governments of Afghanistan or Pakistan that grant sanctuary to AQ.
    I disagree with that of course but let us say for arguments sake that it is true. Now AQ has attacked the US and killed thousands of our people. They keep trying to do it again and have made it clear that they will continue to try and kill our countrymen. They are our enemy. If, as you say, it is the Pashtun people who grant sanctuary to AQ, are not the Pashtun people then our enemy? I don't think that is true because they never got a vote on it.

    I think it is the Taliban and, though we are loath to admit it, and the Pak Army/ISI (or at least the mover and shaker part of it) who give sanctuary to AQ and are our enemies.
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

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    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    Carl,

    Consider New York City and organized crime. Now certainly there are crooked officials in government working with organized crime and protecting their operations for their own benefit, right?

    But answer this. Who grants sanctuary to this group, the populace or the government? Condoning operations are a far cry from granting sanctuary. Or looked at another way, who could deny them sanctuary the most effectively: The government, the populace as a whole, or a larger, stronger, criminal organization with stronger ties to the populace?

    The fact is that no amount of drone strikes, and no amount of Pak military raids into the FATA can ever "disrupt, dismantle and defeat al Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan" (our actual mission in AFPAK, according to the President, btw). But if the Taliban decided that AQ had to go, AQ and all of the various foreign fighters in the FATA would either be gone, captured or dead within 72 hours.

    So, if I were to simply focus on the mission my President has given me, I would tell him "sir, our best bet for success with AQ is to team up with the Taliban. They are the only organization with the capacity and ability to accomplish the mission you've given us in regards to AQ. We can do that with Karzai's support or without." To which the President should say "Ok, give Karzai full opportunity to play ball, but if persists with this crap he's been pulling for the past five years throw him under the bus if you have to."

    Its good to remember what the mission is; and its also good to understand the nature of the problem that one is dealing with. Too often it seems that we've lost sight of the mission, and there is very little understanding of the nature of the problem as well.

    Currently Karzai and the Northern Alliance are excluding vast segments of the Pashtun populace from full participation in society, and that is the Causation that fuels the insurgency and motivates the Taliban to keep AQ around.

    Now, actually I would caution the boss not to simply use the Taliban to do to the Northern Alliance what we used the Northern Alliance to do to the Taliban, as AQ would simply flip sides as well, and the drama could well continue from sanctuaries in the North rather than to the East. Which brings us back to reconciliation. We best accomplish the mission by being the mediator and forcing compromise and cooperation where necessary, and guiding the process to them working out a framework of governance that works for everybody.

    The current approach may well be Acceptable to Afghanistan (but few others); but it is not Suitable to the task and really isn't Feasible either.

    Hell, today the administration actually announced as a metric of success that "There are things that are working, such as U.S.-led operations in the southern part of the country pushing insurgent groups out of key areas. Special forces raids have captured or killed hundreds of insurgent leaders in the past few months."

    Body counts and seized terrain?? Really?? I know we are desperate for positive signs, but surely everybody knows that success in such contests is not measure in bodies or real estate.

    http://www.npr.org/2010/12/16/132097...fghanistan-war

    But I'm open and on board with any good plan for accomplishing the mission we've been given.
    Last edited by Bob's World; 12-16-2010 at 11:34 PM.
    Robert C. Jones
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    (Understanding is more important than Knowledge)

    "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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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    But the real bottom line is, what do we lose by attempting to reconcile the parties and forcing them to share governance within the constraints of a new constitution under the oversight of the coalition until they prove they can play nice?
    Force them to share governance? How?

    This is a winner-take-all environment, and neither party will be willing to share. They may play at it if they see the game as something that will bring them one step closer to complete control, but they aren't going to sit down and "play nice" just because we want them to.

    I think your faith in Constitutions and structures is more than a bit unrealistic. Documents don't shape cultures, cultures shape documents that suit their needs and priorities. We could impose the US constitution on Afghanistan tomorrow and it wouldn't change a thing: the document would simply be ignored. That's what happens to documents that don't fit the culture they propose to shape. The culture is the culture. It may change, over generations and in unpredictable ways, but we can't change it.

    It was foolish of us to try to shape Afghan governance in the first place; it's no less foolish now.

    An example of where this sort of initiative can lead may be found in recent memory in the Philippines, where the US supported an astonishingly inept "peace agreement" that was doomed to failure from the start. The parties involved knew it wouldn't work, but went along for reasons of their own. Of course it was shot down, mercifully at an early stage, with generally poor effects on eventual prospects for peace and for US credibility.

    We can't make people "play nice" if they don't see "playing nice" as compatible with their interests and goals. It would be lovely if we could, but we can't, and we only step on our equipment when we try.

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    Now, we scratch the surface of the constitution.

    I remember a conference (w/Dorronsoro on the panel) where the discussion turned to how we intervened and put this amateur national "democracy" constitution/structure in place. We have been chasing this problem--full blown since at least 2007/8 when it became clear that it wasn't working.

    Unlike anthropologists, I spent a lot of time in Iraq studying the national and sub-national governance structures in Iraq since pre-Ottoman days. Studying the maps, structures and events over the last 100 years creates clear patterns of regional operational and control systems that, after a great deal of nail biting on my part, seems to be re-establishing itself in Iraq---despite our efforts, and those of the many expats, refugees and minorities we worked so hard to help create something different.

    Every day that sub-national news simmers out of Iraq, it fits the blocks I expected it would. Example: Mosul as a City/State with reach down below Ninewa, and strong connections through to Turkey. Tikrit, (and Salah ad Din, without its "first family," now returning back to a bit part, while Sammara either stands as a special city with it's own relationship to Baghdad.

    Had someone ever studied the sub-national structure ahead of time, it would have been obvious that one of our first constitutional objectives should have been to roll back the Saddam provincial restructuring initiatives in order to reconstruct the DNA of the long-standing city/region power structures that were always the building blocks of Iraq (even under Saddam, there were places he did not control or f---with, contrary to myth).

    I have not spent time in Afghanistan, but have learned enough from others to know that the DNA/building blocks of that arguable "country" (more like a minimalist confederation brought to open family feud during the 1970's-2010) are not a part of our forced and ineffective bag of tactical objectives.

    It is not just about Pakistan. The core problems are the basic structure, and finding structures that are sustainable, with or without Pashtun involvement. If the real solution lies in a Quetta/Kandahar/Baluchistan structure (as may ultimately be the case), then a temporary solution that does not provide a format for that possibility is as bad as all other half-assed solutions.

    Crack this issue open for Afghanistan's sub-populations and neighbors, and the right answers will start to emerge. Ask the White House of Pentagon, and they will tell you their solutions for expedient inside the Beltway realities, but they are not likely, over the next two years, to survive US domestic realities, or to hold any real value on the ground.

    I suspect that the default Petreaus solution (arm everybody and let them shoot at each other) may provide us with an exit (which might be the right answer for US), and a pause for the parties, but, like Iraq, will have little enduring structural value.

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    Robert C. Jones:

    I don't think you can properly compare a criminal organization within a society with AQ as it exists within Talibania and Pakistan. The criminal has to hide his activities and his identity in order to survive and do his business. Or failing that he has to bribe the cops to pretend they don't see him.

    AQ on the other hand doesn't need to hide its' identity or activity. It certainly didn't do that in Afghanistan when the Taliban ran the show and it probably doesn't have to do that in Talibania now. It has to do it a little with the Pak Army/ISI if only because they have to throw the Americans a bone once in awhile. But in the larger sense they don't. Nobody will ever convince me the ISI doesn't know where OBL is. I don't think the analogy holds up.

    And as you say, if the Taliban decides AQ has to go, it will go, therefore; who is the agent that is protecting or providing sanctuary for AQ-the Taliban. (I will never ever try to diagram the preceding sentence.)

    I think you don't recognize the importance of ideology in all of this. MO and the Taliban didn't do their best to take over Afghanistan just so the Pashtun people could breathe free. They did it also so all the Afghan people couldn't fly kites, watch Bollywood videos, shave occasionally and the girl children couldn't go to school. These guys are fully committed to that ideology and AQ and OBL are fellow travelers. There is nothing we can offer them to make them give them up short of adopting their ideology as our own which would obviate the need to give anybody up. You would have to tell the President that would be the price of cooperation. It won't happen.

    That is also the reason AQ couldn't just go north. Who up there would put up with that ideology not to speak of all the heat it would bring down on them? What government that helped the north in the past might be inclined to help again if OBL and the boys are hanging around unmolested? Nobody.

    Which brings us to the Pak Army/ISI. They are inclined to help. And since they have a country's, Pakistan's, resources at their disposal, they can offer AQ a country to hide in and be supported by. There is no other country in the world available to them in the same way. None. And why does the Pak Army/ISI do this thing? Ideology is a very big part. They didn't channel the lion's share of the aid during the anti-Soviet effort to the Islamists for nothing. They haven't covered for AQ all these years for nothing. An important part of the Pak Army/ISI is, I think, as ideologically committed as AQ is.

    Speaking of the Pak Army/ISI, you didn't answer my question, do they get to pick who governs Afghanistan?

    I entirely agree with you about night raids et al. Numbers for the sake of numbers. It's stupid.

    I have a question that may belong somewhere else but I am interested in your opinion. We Americans are fascinated with technology, the "we can do it all from the air" attitude. We figure it will be simple and easy. Do you think special ops is assuming a similar place in American culture? I get that idea when I hear spec ops often mentioned in the same breath as airplanes and computers.
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

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    Carl:

    HL Mencken: For every complex problem, there is a simple solution that is entirely wrong.

    In Iraq, for a variety of reasons, the Boys from Ft. Campbell could have a big effect on the ground ("shaping" or whatever you want to call it), as they did in the opening acts in Afghanistan.

    In this recent chapter, counting scalps by night raids seems to have lost its traction. Wrong tool?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve the Planner View Post
    It is not just about Pakistan. The core problems are the basic structure, and finding structures that are sustainable, with or without Pashtun involvement.
    Mostly agree, but I expect that it's less about finding a viable structure than about allowing one to evolve. I doubt that there will be a "eureka" moment in which some genius discovers a viable governmental structure for Afghanistan. More likely it will emerge over time and through a process. I see no reason to expect that the process will be peaceful, that it will be in accordance with our perceived interests, or that anyone involved will "play nice".

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