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  1. #1
    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    Default Pashtun / Pashtunwali / Pashtunistan (catch all)

    Excellent and informative article on Pashtun customary law by Tom Barfield. Found via Afghanistanica.

    ...
    Pashtuns, even wealthy ones, who moved to large cities were even farther removed from the values of the
    Pashtunwali because there they were enmeshed in state systems of government that restricted autonomy and cash economies that valued money more than honor. It is for this reason that examples of customary law as a living tradition are found mainly in the marginal areas of rural Afghanistan even though the ethos of the Pashtunwali is common to all rural Pashtuns ...


    The blog has some nice commentary as well:

    I would venture a guess that if it was possible to do a quantitative analysis of revenge in Afghanistan, a researcher would find that few Pashtuns actually attempt revenge and even fewer attain it. But damn it, that whole Pashtunwali thing makes for an interesting article. And never mind that it is a wee bit Orientalist and sensationalist; Whatsisname at that there newspaper wants to tell you that Pashtuns are an unthinking bunch of maniacs bent on revenge, guided only by their basest emotions and incapable of logic, reason, forgiveness or pragmatism. I’m not going to cite any articles because there are so many to choose from, and not just from second-rate rags like [insert name of any newspaper in the world], but in quality sources such as The Economist and The Christian Science Monitor.

    What those journalists are leaving out are the concepts of Nanawatay, Rogha, Nagha and Jirga. All these concepts are, in some form or another, tools for reconciliation, forgiveness, compensation, punishment or justice. And guess what? They are included in Pashtunwali along with Badal.

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    Default The Struggle for Pashtunistan

    CSIS, 17 Oct 07: The Struggle for “Pashtunistan”: The Afghan-Pakistan War
    - The security situation in Afghanistan is assessed by most analysts as having deteriorated at a constant rate through 2007. Statistics show that although the numbers of incidents are higher than comparable periods in 2006,they show the same seasonal pattern.

    - The nature of the incidents has however changed considerably since last year, with high numbers of armed clashes in the field giving way to a combination of armed clashes and asymmetric attacks countrywide.

    - The Afghan National Police (ANP) has become a primary target of insurgents and intimidation of all kinds has increased against the civilianpopulation, especially those perceived to be in support of the government, international military forces as well as the humanitarian and development community.

    - The more significant change in 2007 is the shift from large-scale armed clashes in the field to asymmetric or terror-style attacks. The former do still take place and as air support is often used, casualty figures are still high. On average however these clashes are fewer and smaller than in 2006.

    - Possible reasons include the high numbers of Taliban fighters killed during summer 2007 including many mid-level and senior commanders. Another reason must be the realization that these types of attacks are futile against a modern conventionally equipped military force supported by a wide range of air assets. The Afghan National Army (ANA) has also been improving throughout 2007
    Complete 28 slide brief in pdf at the link.

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    Council Member Shivan's Avatar
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    Default The Struggle for Pashtunistan

    Thank you for posting. The data are useful.

    I'm not sure what the CSIS purports to show besides providing quantifiable data on what we already know. If Cordesman is suggesting that Pashtunistan is a prime goal of the Taliban, he's wrong.

    Neither Afghanistan nor Pakistan will cede territory to form a Pashtun homeland. This is an old Pashtun dream, and revived in some quarters. To quote an Afghan specialist (whom I will not name here), the Afghan leaders, “like poker players at a card game, are more interested in dividing the pot than they are in dividing the table at which they sit." Hypothetically, if there was to be a Pashtunistan, it would not receive the funding Afghanistan receives, and would be beset by neighbors on many sides. Afghanistan is not the Balkans: the Balkans were various ethnicities hastily cobbled together; however, Afghans consider their multi-ethnic state the norm. While Pashtunistan is a sore point, Pashtun thought and aspirations are not homogenous, i.e., while there may be some support for Pashtunistan, it is not universal.

    There are multiple causes for the mosaic insurgencies in Afghanistan, and voluntary support for the Taliban varies from clan to clan, sub-clan to sub-clan, village to village, and is more complex than can be described herein. Which gets us into the "cultural intelligence" aspect, i.e., why do many Pashtuns support the Taliban? Why is their gravitational attraction increasing, while the attraction of the democracy project continues to decline?

    While Afghanistan may not be sectarian like Iraq, Cordesman fails to acknowledge the importance of its ethnic diversity, with about 55 identifiable ethnicities. It is also more linguistically diverse, with several dialects and languages falling into the broad category of Indo-European (e.g. Persian) and Turkic (e.g., Turko-Mongolian). I disagree with his claim that Afghanistan is religiously more "homogenous" (p.5): Sunni religious orthopraxy varies sharply, and there is no established orthodoxy in the land, and never has, despite the best efforts of Amir 'Abd al-Rahman (1880-1901). Finally, the Shi'ites come in several stripes: from Twelver Shi'a (as in Iran) to Sevener Shi'a (Ismā‘īlī) to Nizāri Ismā‘īlī (commonly, the "Assassins").

    There is thus bound to be some friction, and why Afghanistan should devolve power to regions, be it by de jure or de facto means. A strong central state is not one which most Afghans favor, being accustomed to greater regional, local/tribal autonomy.

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    Canadian Army Journal, Fall 07: The Way of the Pashtun: Pashtunwali
    .....Knowledge of the cultural norms and practices of Afghans is rudimentary at best. Few in Canada, and quite likely Europe and North America, have any real understanding of Afghanistan and its people. Tribal codes and practices seem as distant in time as the American frontier or the “wild west,” and more appropriate to an era dominated by imperial practices and the building of empires, certainly not the 21st Century. Many cannot conceive of a people who do not subscribe to the concept of rights and obligations we in Canada take for granted, and whose lives differ so dramatically from the scope of the privileges that we are afforded in the West. Certainly, few can understand why the Pashtuns of Afghanistan believe what they do, or why it is important to them.

    The purpose of this piece is to describe the code commonly referred to as Pashtunwali, paying specific attention to its tenets and guiding principles, as well as its applicability and usage. Additionally, I will examine its relationship with the Islamic concept of shari’a, as well as the role played by women in its day-to-day use. Lastly, I will close with some observations on the code and possible implications it could have for the conduct of ongoing NATO operations within Afghanistan. The topic warrants study and discussion, largely because of the significant interactions which are happening between westerners currently in Afghanistan as part of the “International Security Assistance Force” (ISAF) and “Operation ENDURING FREEDOM” (OEF), but also because if there is any real hope of ever rebuilding Afghanistan and making it a viable nation on the world stage, it is imperative that an understanding of its cultural norms and practices exists beyond that articulated in the popular press.....

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    Council Member zenpundit's Avatar
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    Default Very interesting

    Though it reads like a book report at times, it was one of the most informative reports on the details of Pustunwali that I've seen. Women appear to be able to influence male behavior under the Pushtunwali by subtlely positioning themselves in such a way that refusal of their request would be regarded as shameful for a man of authority and cause a loss of standing or honor.

    I wonder how the Pustunwali compares with the Adat of the Chechens - anyone out there know?

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Other slants

    In December 2006 The Economist published an article on the Pashtun code of honour, it is a good account, but is not available freely on their website. It is on this link: http://www.scribd.com/doc/1302/The-E...htunwali-tribeAlas link no longer works (Jan 2010).

    This link appears to suddenly end and hard copy of original article is at work, so will check out later today.

    Or try this article, from July 2007, written by an Afghan now resident in Australia: http://www.atlanticfreepress.com/content/view/1952/81/

    davidbfpo
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 01-10-2010 at 09:40 PM.

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    Council Member TROUFION's Avatar
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    Default Consider PUSHTUNISTAN

    In a review of both historical actions, the dubious validity of the Durand line and the recent battles in and around the Pashtun stronholds in both Afghanistan and Pakistan it appears the insurgent goals have changed slightly. This is more of a question to those who are interested in this region, are we seeing a merging of the Pakistan and Afghan Taliban in the pursuit of a new status quo: the formation of an independent Pushtunistan? A Pushtun ethnically centric tribal region carved from both Pakistan and Afghanistan. This would then be a launch pad region for future conquest. THoughts?

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    Council Member Ron Humphrey's Avatar
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    Question I don't Know?

    Quote Originally Posted by TROUFION View Post
    In a review of both historical actions, the dubious validity of the Durand line and the recent battles in and around the Pashtun stronholds in both Afghanistan and Pakistan it appears the insurgent goals have changed slightly. This is more of a question to those who are interested in this region, are we seeing a merging of the Pakistan and Afghan Taliban in the pursuit of a new status quo: the formation of an independent Pushtunistan? A Pushtun ethnically centric tribal region carved from both Pakistan and Afghanistan. This would then be a launch pad region for future conquest. THoughts?
    Wouldn't something like that almost place them at a larger disadvantage considering that not only would it help to further define the "safe Haven" but make them even more likely to be under attack by both Afghan/NATO forces but Pakistani forces on a much larger scale.

    Bad guys do tend to band together when they need to but still not quite sure they could pull off what your suggesting even if they'd like to
    Any man can destroy that which is around him, The rare man is he who can find beauty even in the darkest hours

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    Council Member Hacksaw's Avatar
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    Default I think I agree with Ron

    You would really have to divide this up among several players and sub-divide that by long and short term objectives...

    Tribal folks - might long term enjoy having a Pashtun-stan, but only as a tribal federation

    Taliban folks - might settle for a Pashtun-stan, but only as lesser outcome. Why settle for a sliver of area when you used to rule a country. Besides their style is a little too directive for tastes of mountain tribals. So Taliban and Tribal folks outlooks not really the same.

    AQ folks - They don't need a constituted state, ungoverned areas are far more conducive to what they need now. A Pashtun-stan would have no big-daddy if they hosted terrorist training camps.

    In light of all that, I don't see this great confluence of interests - long term.

    Of course I'm dated in my understanding of the tribes and their affiliation/interests. As we could see in Iraq, those can change quickly.
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    Council Member bourbon's Avatar
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    Default

    Insurgent goals or our goals?

    The foreign reaction to Ralph Peters' "Blood Borders" was very interesting. Some believe that it's concepts are driving our strategy. More discomforting is they trace the contemporary strain of this to the ideas of a center-right Israeli strategist named Oded Yinon. I've heard many Pakistani's think that we want to break up their country, and cite alleged support given to Baloch groups. A Pushtunistan would erode Pakistan's reason for being.

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    Council Member Hacksaw's Avatar
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    Default Not sure who you are responding to...

    Bourbon,
    If it is me, then I wasn't nearly clear enough... I suppose either way I don't see any single group wanting a seperate nation of Pashtun-stan. My impression is that the huddled masses of Pashtun's on either side of the border are pretty ambivalent. In the FATA, they are already considered an autonomous zone, on the AFG side they are not nearly as postured to do what the Kurds did in the Northern Zone. Insurgents don't benefit from a Pahstun-stan - because the ambiguity of the current situation far better suits their needs. Neither the Pak nor Afg gov'ts want to jetison the areas.

    So.... All around I don't see any group that when pressed would support the idea of Pashtun-stan.

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    Default The Pashtun factor (catch all)

    Ran across this over at Ghosts of Alexander and it seems like it is something the COIN center in Kabul or any deployer would want to read. Maybe we can get a PDF copy here.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 01-13-2019 at 05:47 PM. Reason: update

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    Registered User Yadernye's Avatar
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    Arrow Assessment of Pashtun insurgency

    I am curious to hear other opinions about the analysis of the Af/Pak insurgency published by Thomas H. Johnson and M. Chris Mason in the Nov/Dec edition of Military Review:

    The point they made that leaped out at me was this:

    Insurrections are hardly new phenomena in Afghanistan.10 Previous Afghan leaders have had varying degrees of success in subduing rural religious insurrection. The degree of that success depended on how much of the population viewed the regime as legitimate and how much it stayed out of the daily lives of the people. And Afghan history demonstrates conclusively that legitimacy of governance comes exclusively from two immutable sources: dynastic (monarchies and tribal patriarchies) and religious, or sometimes both.11 These equate to the traditional and religious sources cited by noted sociologist Max Weber.12

    Unfortunately, the Karzai government owes its only claim to legitimacy to Weber’s third source, the legal one (e.g., western-style elections and the rule of law). This has no historical precedent as a basis for legitimizing Afghan rule at all, however, and the notion that the West can apply it to Afghan society like a coat of paint is simply wishful thinking. In essence, the Karzai government is illegitimate because it is elected.13

    ...This problem of illegitimacy is especially acute at the village level of rural Pashtun society, where dynastic and religious authority has been unquestioned for over a thousand years.14 The widespread perception among Afghans that the Karzai government is illegitimate—because it lacks any traditional or religious legitimacy—predates Karzai’s August disgrace by five years.
    This explains a lot, in my opinion, and does not bode well. What I would like to know is how accurate his analysis is. Anthropology and sociology are not my specialties. Johnson is Director of the Program for Culture & Conflict Studies at the Naval Postgraduate School and did not pull this assessment out of thin air. There is a page on NPS linking to a long line of his publications that show the evolution of his analysis of the Pashtun insurgency, which is the most sophisticated that I have yet seen. I specifically recommend "No Sign until the Burst of Fire: Understanding the Pakistan - Afghanistan Frontier" and "The Taliban Insurgency and an Analysis of Shabnamah (Night Letters)."

    Cheers,

    Yadernye

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Military Review article has been touched upon

    Yadernye,

    The Military Review article appeared a few days ago on the current thread on the Afghan campaign: http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...t=7128&page=27 With comments at Posts 530-540.

    It was a short discussion, have a peek. If there is a lot you want to contribute you can go to that thread; if the discussion "takes off" a new thread can be created to keep the focus on the article's view of the Pashtun insurgency. Updated: earlier posts on other thread copied here.

    Welcome aboard.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 11-14-2009 at 10:09 PM. Reason: Updated
    davidbfpo

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    Council Member MikeF's Avatar
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    Default

    Yaderyne,

    Welcome Aboard, and thanks for the link. I enjoyed the article. Here's my take based off my current thoughts on small wars.

    1. Similarities of differing insurgencies. The description provided by the authors was the strongest point of the article. The simple answer that they did not highlight was that both groups were conducting a version of Mao's Protracted War. IMO, it's THE playbook for a people's rebellion, social movement, or gang warfare. In each case, you take Mao broadly and apply it for METT-TC (Mission, Enemy, Time, Troops, Terrain, Civilians) in a given situation.

    2. The Sine Qua Non of Counterinsurgency: Legitimacy. I disagree with this assertion, and IMO, it is something that we get fundamentally wrong when trying to understand small wars. Instead, the sine qua non of small wars is control. Legitimacy is merely a subset. For instance, does a farmer out in the boondocks care if Karzai is legitimate? No. He cares about his farm and his family. In terms of control, he wants to know who to go to IOT get fair settlements when he has disagreements with his neighbor.

    Mike

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    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    Default Mike, another perspective on "legitimacy" and "control"

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeF View Post
    Yaderyne,

    Welcome Aboard, and thanks for the link. I enjoyed the article. Here's my take based off my current thoughts on small wars.

    1. Similarities of differing insurgencies. The description provided by the authors was the strongest point of the article. The simple answer that they did not highlight was that both groups were conducting a version of Mao's Protracted War. IMO, it's THE playbook for a people's rebellion, social movement, or gang warfare. In each case, you take Mao broadly and apply it for METT-TC (Mission, Enemy, Time, Troops, Terrain, Civilians) in a given situation.

    2. The Sine Qua Non of Counterinsurgency: Legitimacy. I disagree with this assertion, and IMO, it is something that we get fundamentally wrong when trying to understand small wars. Instead, the sine qua non of small wars is control. Legitimacy is merely a subset. For instance, does a farmer out in the boondocks care if Karzai is legitimate? No. He cares about his farm and his family. In terms of control, he wants to know who to go to IOT get fair settlements when he has disagreements with his neighbor.

    Mike
    I think it is probably more useful to consider any and all governments as "legitimate." I realize that flies in the face of traditional logic, but traditional logic also creates tremendous obstacles to effectively dealing with governments who's legitimacy WE disapprove of; and also causes us to overlook problems with the nature of the legitimacy of a government that WE do approve of. Bottom line on legitimacy is that what is important is that the populace served by any particular government recognizes its source of legitimacy.

    The U.S. gets into a lot of trouble in meddling efforts to manipulate who gets into, gets removed from, or sustain in government over the populaces of others. We value OUR approval of such governments over how well the populaces of those same states approve. This is what, in my opinion, causes a manipulating outside state to become the target of a nationalist insurgency movement when the people act out to attempt to get a government whose legitimacy they recognize.

    So, we ask the wrong question. We ask: "Is this government legitimate by our standards." What we should ask is "Does the relevant populace recognize the legitimacy of this government."

    Next, "Control." The majority position that comes up over and over is that a measure of effective governance is its ability to control the populace. This is a slippery slope. Most people don't want to be "controlled," so much as they want the government to control the things that enable them to pursue their lives in relative peace and security. A fine nuance, but the government needs to exert reasonable (as defined by the populace) control over the environment the populace lives within, not over the populace themselves.
    Last edited by Bob's World; 11-14-2009 at 06:20 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)

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    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Default Is McChrystal Going To Loose.

    He will according to this Article from the new Military Review! he dose not have the right Strategy to win according to this article.

    http://usacac.army.mil/CAC2/Military...231_art004.pdf

    Is there any merit to this article?

    From Yadernye:
    I am curious to hear other opinions about the analysis of the Af/Pak insurgency published by Thomas H. Johnson and M. Chris Mason in the Nov/Dec edition of Military Review.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 01-13-2019 at 05:48 PM. Reason: Moderator at work

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    Slap:

    Johnson and Mason are not far off where my lines are crossing, but coming around it from the civilian side.

    So many folks in Iraq were preaching "Democracy" out of a very naive school book version. In Maryland alone, there are 23 counties and the city of Baltimore, and hundreds of individual "towns" and community associations with varying authority. Interwoven into that are hundreds of independent and interagency bodies with special authority, from local school boards to regional transit authorities. It is indeed a complex and locally engaged web of legitimate governing relationships that actually make the tribal, valley-by-valley thing look simplistic.

    Sure, OK, there is a supposedly strong national government, but aside from some often-contested "must do's" (the Consititution), most actions from the top down are driven by carrots and sticks of payola and buy-offs. Else the idea fails to stick.

    In Iraq, for a lot of immutable reasons, the power and rational of national ministries was inherent in the system---the DNA that operated in the background no matter what the US tried to do for reconstruction under a new "provincial" governance model.

    By contrast, Afghanistan is two inherently conflicting fields of public---urban vs. rural, and the rural is tribal/district/sub-district.

    Military and foreign service, on one year assignments, are not going to be able to grasp and engage these rural areas' leaders and formal and informal structures. Instead, any PRT cadre assigned to these areas (more like CORDS than PRTs) need to be something different than, for example, the PRTs deployed in Iraq.

    I never understood the mishmash of Subject Matter Experts assigned down to PRTs in Iraq. Instead, the handful of Senior SMEs, in my opinion, should have been circuit riders to better support less top-heavy, younger, and more aggressively deployed PRTs (more like on an EPRT model as far as flexibility and local reach).

    It would be far easier for me, for example, as a Senior Planning SME, to mini-train and coordinate programs and resources down to an engaged DRT System than to waste mine and their time and resources doing so for a few small villages.

    What I took away from Johnson and Mason, as an organizational matter, is that a cadre of minimally cross-trained, but highly supported, DRTs, probably military for some time to come, would provide the best penetration/connections to the Pashtun (and other) rural villages---all as the necessary backstop to prevent Taliban encirclement of those urbanites.

    Somewhere in the middle, you try to bridge gaps, whether by diplomacy or other means.

    Is that about right?

    Steve

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    Default Johnson and Mason article

    I'll leave aside the accuracy of their recollections of Vietnam. They point out the near-FUBAR state of the political effort in Astan. Their DRT concept seems a level too high. If Vietnam is any lesson, it is that security and political action must be solid at the village level. There are roughly 40,000 villages in Astan. That is the magnitude of the political action problem. No solution within our capabilities has been presented by anyone I've read.

  20. #20
    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    Default Actually I take a different lesson from 'Nam

    Quote Originally Posted by jmm99 View Post
    I'll leave aside the accuracy of their recollections of Vietnam. They point out the near-FUBAR state of the political effort in Astan. Their DRT concept seems a level too high. If Vietnam is any lesson, it is that security and political action must be solid at the village level. There are roughly 40,000 villages in Astan. That is the magnitude of the political action problem. No solution within our capabilities has been presented by anyone I've read.
    The lesson I take is that when a couple of outside actors waging a much larger competition use the populace of some smaller state to wage their contest in a form of pawn warfare don't be so blinded by your own ends that you are oblivious to those of the populace involved.

    We propped up a series of three different ass-hats in Nam because we didn't want the Soviets to go "+1" in the global pawn warfare game that defined much of the Cold War; while the Soviets backed the side seeking freedom from the widely hated scourge of Western Colonialism.

    Today there are a large number of populaces across the Middle East also seeking to get out from under the remnants of Western Colonialism and the governments imposed by the West during the Cold War to assure "friendly" relations and the flow of oil...

    Once again, I believe we have picked the wrong side, and that is a hard hand to play. This is why I strongly recommned that we co-opt the majority of the AQ message and ussurp them as the champions of the populaces of the Middle East in their quest for better governance. Such a move would sweep AQ's feet out from under them and bring the U.S. into line with our national principles.

    But one'll never see this with their nose pressed against Afghanistan; or with their brain obsessed with rhetoric of the ideology AQ employs. Afghanistan is just one of many states in play, and ideologies are like socks, you need them, but you can change them too. Step back and the picture gets clearer.
    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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