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Thread: Reconciliation and COIN in Afghanistan

  1. #41
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    Just a citizen's opinion but if I were a senior TB commander, I would have no need to talk with anyone - the only state of flux I would be in is tactical adaptation whereas the Afghan government and NATO remains in tactical and ideological flux, so time is on my side, I have transgenerational assurance that my sons will continue the fight - what sustains me is the terrain and the opium, both are impervious to Western dominance. If you burn the opium, the farmer will fight with me, if you buy the opium, I will rob the farmer. The only thing I fear is development of infrastructure and irrigation that will give villagers viable alternatives worthy of defending against me.

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    Council Member wm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by goesh View Post
    Just a citizen's opinion but if I were a senior TB commander, I would have no need to talk with anyone - the only state of flux I would be in is tactical adaptation whereas the Afghan government and NATO remains in tactical and ideological flux, so time is on my side, I have transgenerational assurance that my sons will continue the fight - what sustains me is the terrain and the opium, both are impervious to Western dominance. If you burn the opium, the farmer will fight with me, if you buy the opium, I will rob the farmer. The only thing I fear is development of infrastructure and irrigation that will give villagers viable alternatives worthy of defending against me.
    Goesh,
    Are you channeling for Yul Brenner or for the village elder in "The Magnificent Seven"?
    Vir prudens non contra ventum mingit
    The greatest educational dogma is also its greatest fallacy: the belief that what must be learned can necessarily be taught. — Sydney J. Harris

  3. #43
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    No WM, but I've been trying to send a psychic message to General P and channel Ghengis Khan. When the Shining Path under Guzman in Peru was really doing its thing and its soliders were making too much headway in the small villages, a crew went down there and convinced a village that wanted to be left alone to 'protect' themselves my making their own amulets and tailsmans and putting them on high poles around the perimeter of the village. Guzman was essentially regarded as a powerful shaman by most country folk. I'm getting this vision of dog skulls stuck on black poles, lots of them, up on the mountain passes and trails used by the taliban where they cross over and I'm seeing crude pictures of black dogs painted on the rocks too near the skull poles. there is something about peasants and the extreme rigidity of fundamental beliefs that always allows one crease, one opening for manipulation. When the vision is real clear, I'll 'send it off' to General P.

  4. #44
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    The Other Side - Dimensions of the Afghan Insurgency: Causes, Actors and Approaches to ‘Talks’
    .....this paper advocates developing multilayered contacts (‘talks’) with different elements of the insurgency in order to differentiate between the motivations, aims and demands of its different components. A build-up of better mutual understanding and possibly some trust with reconcilable elements might be an early side-effect. But a ‘talks’ approach must be embedded in a broader ‘reconciliation’ strategy. A first step would be to differentiate between short term ‘talks’ and long-term reconciliation.

    The kind of ‘reconciliation’ pursued up to date has failed because of wrong assumptions. Individual or groups of insurgents were urged to join the existing government. This ignores the fact that the character of the regime itself is one reason for many insurgents to take up arms. It cannot therefore be considered neutral and an arbiter itself. Reconciliation also cannot be approached in an ahistorical way, i.e. with some of those who either had been involved in past crimes (and contributed to the emergence of the Taleban as a ‘purification’ movement) or have later caused the alienation of many of those who have joined the insurgency setting the terms of reconciliation. The same goes for NATO and ISAF and even the UN mission in Afghanistan.

    This requires a new, broader strategy on reconciliation and a political consensus about such a strategy, both internally amongst Afghan, amongst – at least – major international actors and, finally, between Afghan and external actors.......

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    Default Dorronsorro, Semple, Nathan, Exum

    (Moderators note copied here from Strategic Intelligence thread, as appropriate).

    Went to a Center for American Progress conference today.

    Gilles Dorronsoro, Micheal Semple and Joanne Nathan (corrected), all non-US experts who have been in Afghanistan since before 2001.

    Each had a presentation on their field. Most of you have heard some of this: Dorronsorro (secure the cities first, etc..), and Semple's work with the Taliban are pretty well known.

    Nathan, an Australian, asked: What's this COIN thing about? I read the manual and it said Clear-Hold-Build, but all you ever do is Clear, Clear, Clear. No administrative purpose or capability. Why are you clearing unless you have civilian capacity to Hold and Build? Where has this strategy ever been applied?

    Even Andrew Exum didn't take a stab at answering that.

    The big question that all were asked to comment on: What do you think of these people who see one small part of the country, then try to exprapolte what they saw there to a bigger picture about the country? (Obviously, the Hoh question).

    They were pretty devastating in explaining just a snippet of what they know about the whole country, and why that kind of speculation is not useful.

    Like Exum said, DC is usually full of generalists, and it was a rare opportunity to have three leading specialists in one place.

    Certainly worth hearing every word yourself to build or assess strategy.

    http://www.americanprogress.org/even...streaming.html

    Steve
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 11-07-2009 at 09:43 PM. Reason: Copied here and note added.

  6. #46
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    I think that what is glossed over in the overall reconciliation debate is that GIRoA must be worth reconciling with. Given that the farcicial elections came part way through a relatively successful year in the south for the Taleban, it's pretty difficult to imagine any commanders whose lives are not in frequent danger giving it so much as a second thought.

    Take a random Taleban leader esconced in Quetta. What precisely is his motivation? He never travels into Afghanistan so his life is not under threat that way. So long as he doesn't upset the Pakistanis, or other Talebs with ISI connections, he won't be arested in Quetta either. In addition, there is barely any chance for the drone strikes in Waziristan to be replicated in Quetta. He's as safe as safe can be. Correctly, we speak of the requirement for both carrot and stick in the context of reconciliation, but for a great many key individuals, nor we nor GIRoA can even locate a suitable tree, never mind find a stick.

    This is an instance where the reality on the ground is about, at a conservative estimate, 7 or 8 years behind the public debate in London and Washington. OK, if the tide is shown to be turning in GIRoA's favour some individuals may flip, but let's be blunt, GIRoA is in a chronic state and the Quetta led Taleban, for the time being, is doing just fine, thank you.

  7. #47
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    "Reconciliation" is a two-way street; and certainly should not be seen as the insurgent member of the populace simply dropping his cause and apologizing to the government member of the populace. That solves nothing except possibly keeping a questionable actor in office, and keeping what are likely many legitimate concerns of the larger populace unaddressed.

    So reconciliation must be between the populace and the government, and the insurgent really need not be invited. Far better that those legitimate leaders within the populace step forward to sit with governmental leaders at the table to work out true reforms that address legitimate needs and put in place legitimate vehicles for the populace to address such concerns in the future short of rising up in insurgency.

    The insurgent will have performed his function, providing the forcing function that got the government to evolve. This does not grant him some fiat of entitlement to a leadership role in either the negotiations or any future government...but it should not automatically preclude him either.

    Family squabbles can get ugly, but when they are over you still have to live with each other and get on with life.
    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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    RFE/RL, 26 Nov 09: Ex-Taliban Ambassador Says Work Needed To Bring Taliban To Talks
    Although the United Nations never formally recognized the Taliban regime in Afghanistan as the country's legitimate government, Abdul Hakim Mujahid served as a Taliban representative and point of contact for the UN. He also served as the Taliban's ambassador to Pakistan -- which was one of just several countries to recognize the Taliban government. Years ago, Mujahid reconciled with the government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai. In an interview with RFE/RL's Radio Free Afghanistan correspondent Ahmadullah Takal, Mujahid discusses the possibility of reconciling today's Taliban insurgents through a traditional Afghan Loya Jirga -- a grand assembly of elders.....

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    From Jedburgh's post:

    "Mujahid discusses the possibility of reconciling today's Taliban insurgents through a traditional Afghan Loya Jirga -- a grand assembly of elders..... "

    Until we hear something on that front, the top will continue to spin.

    How do you implement peace, and post-conflict stabilization/reconstruction until the majority parties reach an agreement?

    Steve

  10. #50
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    CSRC, 19 Jan 09: Negotiating with the Taliban: Towards a Solution for the Afghan Conflict
    This paper discusses the debate on reconciliation and negotiations with the Taliban, its future prospects and the role of the United Nations within it. It provides an outline of the current conflict as well as a discussion of the role of the UN and ISAF within it, from both a political and a legal perspective. We argue that the very fact the conflict in its various phases has been going on for so long offers opportunities for reconciliation. The bulk of the paper is inevitably dedicated to analysing the position of the different actors vis-à-vis negotiations. We deal with both pro-Afghan government and anti-government players, as well as with international actors. We review in detail past initiatives aimed towards reconciliation and explain why they did not succeed. In our conclusion we highlight some possible future steps to be taken.

  11. #51
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    Default Afghan reconciliation Negotiations with the Taliban will be tricky, but critical

    Hat tip to Zenpundit and from Col. Joseph Collins, in AFJ:
    (Last paragraph) Political reconciliation, first with individual fighters and then with the Taliban factions, will be difficult but not impossible. It represents a potential way to end the 32 years of war that have beset this land. It will require great Western political, military and economic efforts during the reconciliation period and close attention to U.S.-Afghan relations in the long-term future. The cooperation of regional partners, especially Pakistan, will be critical. This process is likely to take years, but it carries with it the promise of the first peace in Afghanistan in three decades. It will be risky, but it is a chance we should take.
    Link:http://www.armedforcesjournal.com/2010/03/4491210
    davidbfpo

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    Default HIG Presents Afghan Peace Plan

    Insurgent Faction Presents Afghan Peace Plan
    By CARLOTTA GALL
    New York Times
    Published: March 23, 2010

    KABUL, Afghanistan — Representatives of a major insurgent faction have presented a formal 15-point peace plan to the Afghan government, the first concrete proposal to end hostilities since President Hamid Karzai said he would make reconciliation a priority after his reelection last year.

    The delegation represents fighters loyal to Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, 60, one of the most brutal of Afghanistan’s former resistance fighters who leads a part of the insurgency against American, NATO and Afghan forces in the north and northeast of the country.

    His representatives met Monday with President Karzai and other Afghan officials in the first formal contact between a major insurgent group and the Afghan government after almost two years of backchannel communications, which diplomats say have been sanctioned by the United States.
    They mostly come at night. Mostly.


  13. #53
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Taliban fighters are 'conditioned' to die in battle...

    A former insurgent in Afghanistan has told how he survived daily battles with British troops and why he decided to join the peace process in what is believed to be the first ever interview given by a member of the Helmand Taliban.
    Link:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worl...insurgent.html

    Some interesting points made on reconciliation and other subjects, notably the presence of foreign fighters.
    davidbfpo

  14. #54
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    Default May have been missed

    Hat tip to Randy Borum for highlighting a seminar at the USMC University a month ago, which did get a mention:http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...hlight=emerald

    I think we missed some nuggets, although a few did read that post. Notably the comments by the UK retired Major General Lamb, who is with ISAF and advising / leading on approaches to the Taliban, so check Randy's website: http://globalcrim.blogspot.com/2010/...o-taliban.html

    Lamb said:
    The bulk of these fighters – young men who ISAF have previously and still occasionally categorize on a broad canvas of an enemy – the Afghans see as sad and upset brothers. Now, you might suggest they’re pretty upset. But that’s how they see them, many of them – sad and upset brothers. The term upset brother captures, rather nicely, the majority of those we need to convince that the cause for which they fight is a poor one by addressing their complaints head on. And understanding and situational awareness is not good enough.
    Transcripts are available on this link (Randy's link is broken): http://www.mcu.usmc.mil/Pages/EE%20Symposium.aspx
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 05-30-2010 at 08:22 PM. Reason: Add link
    davidbfpo

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    Just worth considering, is that TB senior leadership can continue, and have to answer to Pakistan; or reconcile and seek their own destiny within GIROA free from their current Pakistan strings.

    I suspect the recent roll-up of a large chunk of the Qetta Shura was a message from Pakistan to TB senior leadership that "there is no quitting alllowed..."

    We'll see. This is more complex and convaluted than any of us can imagine, and the main players probably don't lay awake at night worrying about what the US national interests are in all of this.

    I remain with the position that Mr. Karzai's Peace Jirga (and the likely follow-on events) are our last, best bet for an honorable exit strategy that reasonably supports the interests we see to be at stake.
    Robert C. Jones
    Intellectus Supra Scientia
    (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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    I personally suspect that the peace jirga has nothing to do with establishing legitimacy in the eyes of Afghans and everything to do with establishing legitimacy in the eyes of Americans. I expect Karzai to do everything in his power to pack the jirga with his supporters and exclude, co-opt, or coerce potential dissenters. I expect him to pull every trick in the wily Pathan repertoire to assure a rousing endorsement of his administration, which he will then run up a flagpole and wave in the general direction of Washington DC, hoping that it will call forth a new wave of goodies.

    I may be overly cynical, but that's what I expect.

  17. #57
    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    Default This could only be true is Americans understood the Jirga

    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    I personally suspect that the peace jirga has nothing to do with establishing legitimacy in the eyes of Afghans and everything to do with establishing legitimacy in the eyes of Americans. I expect Karzai to do everything in his power to pack the jirga with his supporters and exclude, co-opt, or coerce potential dissenters. I expect him to pull every trick in the wily Pathan repertoire to assure a rousing endorsement of his administration, which he will then run up a flagpole and wave in the general direction of Washington DC, hoping that it will call forth a new wave of goodies.

    I may be overly cynical, but that's what I expect.
    Americans see Elections as the key to legitimacy; this Jirga thing is confusing or off the radar all together for "Americans", and not well appreciated for its full potential by many of our senor leaders either, IMO.

    But you are right, Karzai may well blow it, he may stack the deck with his cronies, excluding oppositions voices. If he does, it should be a Regis Philbin moment for the US, as in asking "Is that your final answer?"

    If he says "yes" then he has released us from any moral obligation to stay.
    Robert C. Jones
    Intellectus Supra Scientia
    (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
    Americans see Elections as the key to legitimacy; this Jirga thing is confusing or off the radar all together for "Americans", and not well appreciated for its full potential by many of our senor leaders either, IMO.
    Yes, the American electorate sees elections as the measure of legitimacy, but they're not the target. The target is the level of American military and civilian officialdom, and the global commentariat, that is actually engaged with the issue, specifically those who are questioning his legitimacy. At this level there's enough awareness of the jirga system to give it some leverage: an endorsement from the jirga will allow him to respond to any American pressure by claiming that Afghans have confirmed his legitimacy using their own method. In any event he can't hold another election; the jirga is about the only device he has to regain the ground he's lost. It may or may not succeed, but his options are limited.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    But you are right, Karzai may well blow it, he may stack the deck with his cronies, excluding oppositions voices. If he does, it should be a Regis Philbin moment for the US, as in asking "Is that your final answer?"

    If he says "yes" then he has released us from any moral obligation to stay.
    We could argue that the open manipulation of the last election released us from any moral obligation to stay. Unfortunately we're not there out of moral obligation, we're there because we don't want the Taliban to return to power. If we fail to achieve that objective, we have to classify the whole effort as a defeat. I hope Karzai doesn't stuff it, because if he does we're in the scheisse whether we stay or go... but as I said, I'm not optimistic.

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    Reports are that this semi-jirga is crumbling to dust before it even starts. It was just for us anyway.

    If Abdullah and the other non-Pashtuns are not adeqautely and appropriatly represented, and the structure, focus and authority is more like a Karzai supporter brain storm session about "key questions" (TBA), then the whole thing is already beneath the level of justifying any credible outcomes. Just a side-show on the continuing path....

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    PS: It is against this backdrop (one meaningless show after another), that folks really need to get focused on the events in the Gulf of Mexico.

    Commentators from both sides of the political spectrum have raised the issue about needing the troops, resources, and focus on this home-grown problem, the scope and dimension of which is only beginning to unfold.

    The foreign wars are going to be more and more pivoted against this disaster.

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