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Thread: Sanctuary or Ungoverned Spaces:identification, symptoms and responses

  1. #121
    Council Member Backwards Observer's Avatar
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    Default how do you hold a moonbeam in your hand

    Quote Originally Posted by slapout9 View Post
    Colonel Warden's been saying that for years.
    I liked the COL Warden article you posted recently that was advocating a moral approach to strategic paralysis. He seems like a beautiful dreamer (in a good way).

    My pedestrian observation is that systems targeting seems to be inhibited when the system doing the targeting and the system being targeted are operating in different conceptual realms.

    So-called Eastern "systems" may be said to float ephemerally within subtly-defined interpersonal relationships between human-type beings conducted in a usually opaque and indirect manner bordering on the incomprehensible. A direct approach is more often than not skipped around and using "Western" style indirectness to understand "Eastern" style indirectness seems to further add to the chaos and potential for misinterpretation.

    History suggests that the resulting frustration on both sides tends to end up with a system response that defaults to targeting the people themselves. Sort of a cross between Kipling and Phung Hoang.

    Possibly the same can be said of any systemic collision characterised by conceptual differences and a lack of symbolic sympathy.

  2. #122
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    Attrition doesn't have to be achieved by killing and capturing. In my neighborhood we've had a Communist insurgency running since the 60s. At its peak, in the later years of the Marcos dictatorship, they had roughly 25,000 armed fighters. Now they are down to under 5000. That attrition was brought about not by military action, but by the removal of the dictator and a gradual renewal of confidence in the political process: the rebels weren't killed, they just stopped rebelling.
    ......and? I agree with all that and its completely immaterial to my argument.

    You're case, as stated is that altering the policy (removal of the dictator) altered the rebels reason for violence. So what?
    I am only ever talking about conditions where you need to sustain and enforce the policy, and thus the condtions relevant to winning conflicts.

    If you want to change the policy to stop the war, then OK. War is about enforcing or resisting a policy. You only alter it when the enemy forces you to.
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    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    You don't need to defeat the hostile forces in war. It suffices to defeat their government.
    I agree. So would Clausewitz.
    If you want to defeat a political entity that is using violence, then you use superior violence in return.
    99% of leaderships give up, when there military wing can no longer prosecute active military operations. We have 5,000 years of proof.
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
    Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition

  4. #124
    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    If you want to change the policy to stop the war, then OK. War is about enforcing or resisting a policy. You only alter it when the enemy forces you to.
    Can't you alter a policy because you realize that it's ineffective, counterproductive, stupid, or all of the above? If we only evaluate and modify our policies if we're forced to, we're probably creating many of our own problems.

  5. #125
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    Can't you alter a policy because you realize that it's ineffective, counterproductive, stupid, or all of the above? If we only evaluate and modify our policies if we're forced to, we're probably creating many of our own problems.
    Sure as hell! Clausewitz said it.
    "If the Policy is right - that is successful - any intentional effect it has on the conduct of the war can only be to the good. If it has the opposite effect, then the policy itself is wrong."
    Paret, page 608
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
    Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition

  6. #126
    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    Clausewitz is a good reference on war. I will never challenge or argue that point.

    Where we get mixed messages is when we apply him to things that are not war. A football coach, for instance, could apply Clausewitz in a helpful way as a supporting resource, but not as the driving guide for how to produce a winning football team.

    Same holds true for much of what we engage in today.

    Going after AQ is not a "war" even though it is called a "War on Terrorism"; it is really much more a law enforcement action that has been granted (or merely taken) expanded authorities and been tasked to the military and the intelligence communities to take lead on. Giving a problem to the military does not make the problem into a war, nor does the military getting itself into combat situations in the pursuit of that problem make it a war. That aspect of the mission remains largely an expanded law enforcement problem, and as such, like the afore mentioned football coach, Clausewitz is helpful, but it does not drive what must be done and it would be dangerous to apply it as a driving resource.

    To a lesser extent, but also, IMO, true is that the intrastate violence between a government and its populace that defines Insurgency and COIN is not "war" either.

    Certainly in its most violent forms insurgency appears very warlike, but in certain stages a caterpillar looks a lot like a centipede, but that does not make it one. The differences that are critical lie in the reasons of causation for the conflict and the nature of the relationships between the parties, as well as the fact that both are drawing upon the support of the same populace in a competition for governance. It is far more an illegal, often violent, election than a war; but I think is best categorized as a Civil Emergency.

    This civil emergency approach is a helpful reminder to responders that civilian leadership still holds the reins, that the host nation is the lead, and that high violence is merely a mix of tactical choice and a phase to be worked through in route to less violent efforts aimed at reducing the friction in the troubled society. Calling such situations "Wars" and passing the problem to military leadership to resolve is a recipe for disaster.

    We came to this habit during the past few hundred years of Colonialism. Colonialism was marked by some external party that had established itself, or some local government that answered to them, in charge. These illegitimate governments were and are often challenged. In such a case, the insurgent is not really an insurgent, but is more a guerrilla fighter challenging some external state power. That is fairly a war.

    The question for Afghanistan is, do we want control, do want to wage guerrilla war to establish and sustain our control; or do we want to evolve from such colonial approaches and recognize that the best Afghanistan for the west is an Afghanistan governed of, by and for the people of Afghanistan. I argue that it is the latter, and in that case, it is not war. Clausewitz is interesting and helpful, but to apply him literally to such a problem is a recipe for disaster.

    U.S. COIN, even with the current Population Centric tactics that dominate it, is still a derivative of European and early US approaches to waging war to sustain control over the populaces of others through the defeat of their guerrilla forces. It is not about insurgency, and it is not in fact COIN at all. It is a colonial intervention manual, a guerrilla warfare manual, and needs to be labeled as such.

    We don't need a new COIN manual, we need a manual that is actually about COIN. The primary keeper of that manual should probably be the Justice Department, by the way, rather than Defense.
    Last edited by Bob's World; 01-04-2011 at 12:40 PM.
    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)

  7. #127
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    To a lesser extent, but also, IMO, true is that the intrastate violence between a government and its populace that defines Insurgency and COIN is not "war" either.
    War is merely violence for a political aim/the redistribution of political power. I cannot see how you can separate War from Armed Rebellion. Yes, I hold armed rebellions to have distinct characteristics, but I cannot see how it functionally differs from "war" or why a Government would not treat is as war. Armed rebellions have best been resolved by military force. What's wrong with that?

    I can also never see how a rebellion or an insurgency can and of being so, be legitimate. Legitimacy is subjective to the opinion of the person claiming to have it. It is not objective or definable.
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
    Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition

  8. #128
    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    War is merely violence for a political aim/the redistribution of political power. I cannot see how you can separate War from Armed Rebellion. Yes, I hold armed rebellions to have distinct characteristics, but I cannot see how it functionally differs from "war" or why a Government would not treat is as war. Armed rebellions have best been resolved by military force. What's wrong with that?

    I can also never see how a rebellion or an insurgency can and of being so, be legitimate. Legitimacy is subjective to the opinion of the person claiming to have it. It is not objective or definable.
    I have no problem with stating that "war is merely violence for a political aim/the redistribution of political power." What I am saying is that not all violence for that purpose is war. Just as love making involves placing Tab A into Slot B; not all such couplings are love making.

    (and no, I am not advising Wilf to "make love, not war"!!)

    John M. Collins publishes the following definition of war:

    "Declared or Undeclared combat of strategic significance that exposes one or more nations to defeat."

    Now, if he had said "exposes one or more governments to defeat", insurgency would fit. But a nation is far more than the government. If a nation must address its own government illegally or even violently it is a bad thing. A dangerous thing. But it does not expose that nation to "defeat" but rather to a change of governance. Many a nation has profited in the long run from such forced changes that the previous government was not willing to adopt of their own volition.

    I believe England was one such state, and also suspect that one would be hard pressed to find an Englishman who takes the position that the English nation was "defeated" by Mr. Cromwell.
    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)

  9. #129
    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    Pretty much that one.
    I understood his recommendation as akin to a shotgun shock attack. He proposed to press five acupressure rings at once and after five steps the enemies' heart will explode.
    Close but it is more like making the brain explode or put it under through anesthesia. It would be much more precise and would or could involve a lot of non-lethal or less than lethal technologies. But because you are dealing with a complex system you can never know exactly what will cause the system to collapse so you need to strike across the rings at the same time or as close as possible to that. As we are finding out it does not have to be done by Air Power, Guerrillas do it very well.

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    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Backwards Observer View Post
    History suggests that the resulting frustration on both sides tends to end up with a system response that defaults to targeting the people themselves. Sort of a cross between Kipling and Phung Hoang.
    That is deep man but you get it. The moral question is supreme, are we going to protect Americans or are we going to protect a foreign population in a way that still leaves are population at risk? Its kinda like Chemo-therapy you may have to destroy some of the good cells in order to get all of the bad cells to insure that the greater system will survive.

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    Before this thread becomes yet another debate about the nature of warfare, let's get back to sanctuaries for a just a minute - Pakistan in particular.

    Here's the way I see things:

    1. Our strategy is based on the assumption that creating a viable state in Afghanistan will prevent AQ from returning to establish a safe-haven.

    2. The safe-haven in Pakistan, like a cancer that never quite gets killed off, makes the establishment of #1 extremely difficult. If you can't kill or coopt the cancer, it will continue to spread to Afghanistan at every opportunity.

    3. For ten years a host of plans and strategies have been floated about how to deal with the Pakistani safe-haven and so far they have all failed. What I've seen over the last couple of years are simply rehashed efforts marketed as new initiatives.

    4. In light of that history is it reasonable to expect the US to be able to deal with the safe-haven, by whatever method (Kinetic or "lets-make-a-deal"), within a relevant timeframe - ie. the next few years?

    5. If not, then where does that leave our strategy for creating a semi-stable state in Afghanistan?
    Supporting "time-limited, scope limited military actions" for 20 years.

  12. #132
    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    Well, to take this cancer line a bit further, allow me to offer a slightly different take.

    The sanctuary of Pakistan is not the cancer, it is some organ where the cancer cells are most resilient to treatments of chemo therapy, and an organ that cannot simply be cut out and discarded.

    The cancer is the Taliban, a cancer caused by the carcinogenic practices of the government of Afghanistan.

    Our approach is to radiate the hell out of cancer cells wherever we find them; put the body onto a path to healthy eating and exercise; but totally ignore the chain-smoking activities of the same. The futility of attacking the symptoms of the disease, while working desperately to build up the resistance of the body to the disease, while pointedly ignoring the primary causation of the disease should be obvious. Perhaps someday it will be, as it is in treating actual diseases today. As to political diseases, we are still in the dark ages in our understandings and treatments.
    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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    Default Make up your mind

    Bob,

    Eventually you will have to make up your mind, and also realize that your solution is not one size fits all. The Taliban didn't gain power originally strictly due to an ineffective Afghanistan government post Soviet era, but obviously the ineffective gov contributed to it. The Taliban gained power militarily (not politically) that was enabled by support from Pakistan, as you previously wrote was primarily based on Pakistan's strategic interests concerning India. You also said the Pakistan government wouldn't allow the Taliban to compromise with ISAF (only 3% have, that is a stunning success at reconciliation), because they have larger regional strategic interests, so in fact Entrophy is correct.

    Once again the conversation drifts back to the Taliban and further and further away from AQ.

  14. #134
    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post

    Once again the conversation drifts back to the Taliban and further and further away from AQ.
    Thats right. It's the Drain the Swamp theory. Except you know what happens when you drain the Swamp? THE DAMN ALLIGATORS GET OUT! and they eat people! If you kill the alligators(Bill Laden and the Acuna boys) or put them in the Zoo you don't have to drain the swamp(Talibans). And you know something else about Alligators you CAIN"T negotiate with them, they will not change or become nice because they have a good Swamp(government) they will always be Alligators and they will always eat people.... unless you eat them first,sell their hides and eat the meat or get all fuzzy and stuff and keep them in a Zoo.

    I used to go here as a kid, used to go to school with some of the owners kids. They used to have a big sign inside that said "Don't feed the Alligators...they think "you" are the food"

    http://www.gatorland.com/
    Last edited by slapout9; 01-04-2011 at 07:48 PM. Reason: stuff

  15. #135
    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    Bill,

    Not sure what your point here is, but I've never suggested that one size solution fits all, only that all insurgencies share a common causation. There are other forms of informal conflicts, such as what is going on now in Mexico with the drug cartels; or those for control of diamonds in Africa; that are not insurgencies. Similarly, as I pointed out earlier today, Colonial counter guerrilla operations are not COIN either; not if they are executed with the goal of sustaining some friendly, locally illegitimate government in power. FM3-24 is really a Colonial counter-guerrilla warfare manual.

    As to the Taliban, you are right, I have said and stand that I believe that Pakistan will resist efforts at reconciliation and sees it in their best interest to keep a string on the Taliban as their agent to maintain a degree of control over Afghanistan. I don't think anything anyone can do to change how they perceive that national interest. In fact, our efforts to bring India into Afghanistan must surely make them want to pursue that interest with even greater effort.

    But there are a wide range of powerful indicators that the Taliban is open to reconciliation. But as the Ahmed Rashid "The Way out of Afghanistan" piece points out so well, it is complicated (Via SWJ or directly with:http://www.nybooks.com/articles/arch...nistan/?page=1 ). Any solution must address the very real fears of the minority groups that make up the Northern Alliance to guarantee that they will not once again be subjugated to Pashtun rule. Pashtuns must have confidence that they will not be forced to be subjugated to Karzai's cronies, or to Tajiks, Hazaras, Uzbeks, etc. But I suspect the indicators are that if the right guarantees can be made, if the right constitution to codify clear roles, barriers, rights, roles, etc can be crafted; that they would gladly end their current deal with Pakistan to participate once again legally in their own country. Giving up AQ is what they have to bring to the table to entice the US to broker this deal. But we have to shed our commitment to the preservation of the Karzai regime. That is the anchor around our neck. We need to take better account of the national interests of Iran, Pakistan, and the other countries bordering on Afghanistan who all have their own national interests and populace ties that reach across those fuzzy borders.

    The fact is that Gen Petraeus is conducting a massive suppression operation currently. We are not executing "Population-Centric COIN," we are conducting "COIN symptom suppression." Combining massive development, night raids, and clear-hold-build operations in Afghanistan; coupled with drone strikes into Pakistan; so create a window of suppressed symptoms that allow us to declare success and withdraw on schedule. He may well succeed in that. But that will not accomplish the mission against AQ, and that will not resolve the insurgency in Afghanistan either. It will get us out, but it is a cop out.

    All I am saying is that the mission is AQ. The key to AQ is the Taliban; and the key to the Taliban is a comprehensive reconciliation program. That gets us out of AFPAK.

    Then we can get on to dealing with the much larger problem of the growing support for AQ across so much of the Middle East, the Stans and N. Africa. Defeating AQ in Pakistan is not enough, they will go elsewhere or others will step up to replace them. We have to address the policy issues feeding those conditions.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 01-04-2011 at 08:14 PM. Reason: Add link to Rashid's article
    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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    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
    Once again the conversation drifts back to the Taliban and further and further away from AQ.
    It's a strong, strong current of irrationality.


    I can remind people as often about a certain fact (that the Taliban only became our enemies when we attacked them for harbouring AQ in AFG and that this condition ended almost a decade ago as) I want. It never does the magic.


    We've got a big green hammer. The nail that scratched us was nowhere to find, so we hammered another nail. That one was sunk in the wood long ago, but we keep hammering and hammering - it's so useless and stupid.

  17. #137
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    Default Stand back

    I was slightly anxious when I started this thread, partly as for reasons lost to me SWC has of late refrained from a debate on AFPAK and so far - apart from a couple of posts all is well - we have stayed on the main subject.

    The main subject? Given the issues faced, what are the policies and strategy on achieving our poorly stated aims in Afghanistan, given that our non-state opponents have a sanctuary over the Durand Line in parts of Pakistan (whatever their quasi-independent status)?

    In my "armchair" I shall quickly leave the region and return home. In Western Europe in particular public support for the Afghan campaign is minimal, reflected in the slow draining away of national military contingents. The impact of the body count in Western Europe is IMHO the largest factor, in the USA it is two-fold - the body count (heaviest to date for the USA) and the financial cost.

    Crossing the Durand Line is not an option. Entropy's posts have made that clear, politics, strategy and logistics combined. The military - the American in reality - will have to adjust their strategy and as Jon Custis has illustrated with his post on the deep raid, within Afghanistan, there maybe options to hurt our opponents.

    Others far more expert, as in the original post, speculate that any ground incursion across the Durand Line, will lead to a violent reaction within the Pakistani military (leaving aside the local response). IMHO I would expect that such actions in Western Europe would be widely seen as illegitimate and few governments could remain actively committed in Afghanistan.

    I shall now dig into my "armchair" and watch how SWC responds.
    davidbfpo

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    Default The "Home Front" impact: latent and actual

    Mike Few has touched upon this subject, in a SWJ link on 'Solitude and Leadership':http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/201...nd-leadership/

    Thanks to a RCP mailing, from a similar article 'How Little the U.S. Knows of War' in the WaPo by Richard Cohen, I only cite the last paragraph:
    The Great Afghanistan Reassessment has come and gone and, outside of certain circles, no one much paid attention. In this respect, the United States has become like Rome or the British Empire, able to fight nonessential wars with a professional military in places like Iraq. Ultimately, this will drain us financially and, in a sense, spiritually as well. "War is too important to be left to the generals," the wise saying goes. Too horrible, too.
    Link:http://www.realclearpolitics.com/art...ar_108425.html
    davidbfpo

  19. #139
    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    This civil emergency approach is a helpful reminder to responders that civilian leadership still holds the reins, that the host nation is the lead, and that high violence is merely a mix of tactical choice and a phase to be worked through in route to less violent efforts aimed at reducing the friction in the troubled society. Calling such situations "Wars" and passing the problem to military leadership to resolve is a recipe for disaster.
    This is certainly true in a "conventional COIN" situation, where we intervene to assist an existing government threatened by insurgents. It is not necessarily true in a regime change situation, especially in the early stages, where there is no civilian leadership. We may put some civilians on the chair and call them "leadership", but until and unless they actually lead, that's a hollow label, and we remain in the lead, holding the reins. We may try to deceive ourselves into believing that the latter phases of regime change are just COIN as we knew it before, but it's a bit of a charade and nobody else is going to be fooled.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    The question for Afghanistan is, do we want control, do want to wage guerrilla war to establish and sustain our control; or do we want to evolve from such colonial approaches and recognize that the best Afghanistan for the west is an Afghanistan governed of, by and for the people of Afghanistan. I argue that it is the latter, and in that case, it is not war.
    I certainly agree that it is the latter, but before we get "an Afghanistan governed of, by and for the people of Afghanistan" there's likely to be a whole lot of Afghans killed by other Afghans: the people of Afghanistan don't necessarily agree on how and by whom they want to be governed and there's no reason to expect such agreement to come easily or peacefully. If we want to go this route we also have to accept that Afghanistan or a substantial portion thereof may be controlled by people who will willingly shelter our enemies. If we want to go that route we have to wonder why we went there in the first place, since before we went there was already government of and by Afghans. Maybe not for all the Afghans, but that goes with the territory.

    If we take a "pure" approach to these things, then yes, we should look purely for an outcome that suits the people of the place. If we're involved, though, that means we have some sort of interest in the outcome: if we didn't we wouldn't be there in the first place, and if we're going to end up setting that interest aside we shouldn't have gone there in the first place.

  20. #140
    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Entropy View Post
    2. The safe-haven in Pakistan, like a cancer that never quite gets killed off, makes the establishment of #1 extremely difficult. If you can't kill or coopt the cancer, it will continue to spread to Afghanistan at every opportunity.
    You could put up an Alligator fence as in mine the border between A'stan and Pak'stan.

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