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Thread: Afghanistan indicators

  1. #81
    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    Bob's World:

    Though you have not stated it as such, you seem to be inching toward the position that Taliban should be viewed as the proper representative of the Pashtun people and we should recognize them as such. Please correct me if I'm reading you wrong. I don't believe that Taliban & company can be viewed in such a way because they maintain their power at the barrel of a gun. They acquired power initially through violence and by professing to redress real grievances. They do pretty much the same thing now. But once they take an area by they maintain their power though violence and they inflict upon the Afghans things they don't want through violence. Their ability to wield this violence is critically underwritten by a foreign military entity. If they did not have the support of that entity, they would not have the power to impose their will upon others through violence. There are lots of dead Pashtun local leaders and dead Pashtuns who disagreed with Taliban and company's theology who might disagree with the view that Taliban & company speak for the Pashtuns. I can't agree that this violent minority can really speak for anyone but themselves.

    You have also stated in the past that good governance will prevent insurgency. I think that is (I am going to get into trouble for using this word) naive. Good governance is one way to preclude an insurgency. Another way that works just as well, maybe better, is having a well organized, properly run and sufficiently violent police state; preferably one backed up by some kind of ideology (that is from Revolutionary Civil War by Wilkinson...I think). North Korea is a rather poorly run country filled with unhappy people, but there is no insurgency. They have a vicious police state that stifles any hint of insurgency before it gets a chance to start. The Soviet Union, Red China and any number of states were able to have peace within their borders for the same reason.

    The Taliban & company are similar, very similar. When they take over an area they impose a police state, and they have a nice little ideology to back them up-God is on their side. Anybody living in a Taliban and company area had better toe the line or they will be killed in a most theatrical fashion.

    Your statement "The question that must be asked is "Does the Pashtun populace see the Taliban as legitimate." Indicators are that more and more the answer to that question is "Yes."" ignores the effect that violence and terror have on a peoples outlook.

    Your above quoted statement brings a further question to mind. Which part of Taliban & company are you referring to, MO's boys, Haqani's crew, one of the others or all of them?

    You have decried us attempting to influence what kind of gov is established in Afghanistan. You have not decried the Pak Army/ISI attempting to influence what kind of gov is established in Afghanistan. I believe you have defended their attempts. Those are inconsistent positions. I don't understand why the west attempting to keep Taliban & company out is wrong but the Pak Army/ISI trying to put them in is not.
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

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    Tufts, Nov 10: Winning Hearts and Minds? Examining the Relationship between Aid and Security in Afghanistan’s Balkh Province
    ...The Balkh Province case study is part of a larger five-province Afghanistan country study looking at the assumption that humanitarian and development assistance projects can help to bring or maintain security in strategically important environments, and can help “win hearts and minds,” thereby undermining support within the local populace for radical, insurgent, or terrorist groups. Afghanistan provided an opportunity to examine one of the most concerted recent efforts to use “hearts and minds” projects to achieve security objectives. It has been the testing ground for new approaches to using reconstruction assistance as a counterinsurgency tool. The assumption that aid projects improve security has lead to a sharp increase in overall development funding, an increased percentage of activities based on strategic security considerations, and a shift of development activities to the military. In this light, it is essential that policy makers understand whether and how aid projects can actually contribute to security....

  3. #83
    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sargent View Post
    Bottom line, just breaking a thing -- the proposed military strategy to which my comment was originally directed -- is a bad idea. Powell was wise to promulgate the Humpty Dumpty Doctrine, and it's only hubris that fuels the notion that the Incredible Hulk Doctrine can succeed.
    The Humpty Dumpty Doctrine assumes what has yet to be demonstrated: the capacity to fix. Very simply, we don't have it. We're good at the Incredible Hulk stuff: we have armed forces and they know how to break things. We have no organized entity trained and equipped to repair nations. What we've done is to deploy forces that are trained and equipped to break things and asked them to do what they are not trained and equipped to do. Not surprisingly, we haven't fixed much and we've exposed ourselves to a war of attrition, our single greatest vulnerability. This is not smart.

    Iraq and Afghanistan were arguably broken before we ever went there. A reasonable goal might have been to neither break further nor to attempt to fix, but simply to demonstrate to the inmates that while we've no concern with their domestic issues, attacking us or our allies, or sheltering those who do, will provoke highly undesirable consequences. That we could have done. Letting the mission creep from there to the appalling construct of "nation-building" was a spectacularly costly mistake.

  4. #84
    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by carl View Post
    You have also stated in the past that good governance will prevent insurgency. I think that is (I am going to get into trouble for using this word) naive.
    I've no real complaint with the idea that good governance prevents insurgency and can resolve insurgency. It's true enough, it just doesn't get us anywhere, because we cannot govern these states, we cannot impose "good governance", and we cannot transform bad governments into good ones. There is no magic power-sharing formula or perfect Constitution that will persuade the various actors in Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan, DRC, or many other places to lay down their guns and be polite to each other.

    Good governance that is appropriate to its environment is not installed, and it does not appear. It evolves, and the evolutionary process often involves violence. We may at times be able to cushion the worst effects of that violence, and we may at times have to try to mitigate the impact of these processes on our interests, but we can't eliminate the process.

  5. #85
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default UN charts escalation of violence in Afghanistan

    Nearly slipped by. Sub-titled:
    United Nations security assessments show an escalating pattern of violence in Afghanistan in recent months, contradicting the largely upbeat conclusions of a White House review of progress published less than a fortnight ago.
    Link:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worl...ghanistan.html

    Alas no link to the actual UN report.

    It does end with this, from a RUSI commentary:
    The US-led coalition is not winning, or even beginning to win, in Afghanistan. For each of the last four years, military officials and politicians have said that they are starting to turn the corner in the conflict. In each of the last four years the insurgency has grown larger, more powerful and more deadly.
    This commentary is behind a pay-wall. Once again a UK-based think tank, with a history of close links to Whitehall, sounds a note of dissent (like IISS did a few months ago).
    davidbfpo

  6. #86
    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    Carl,

    Who has standing to legally advocate for the Pashtun people today? They are split between two nations, neither of which is inclined to offer them legal, Representative participation in government.

    This feeds directly to the causal factor I label as "Hope." A populace that perceives that it has access to legal, trusted, and certain means of influencing governance has "hope," and as such is far less likely to participate or look to the illegal forms of violent and non-violent politics that make up insurgency. A populace without such an outlet is much more likely to act out. There is no "hope" in Afghanistan for anyone not directly affiliated with the Northern Alliance or Mr. Karzai.

    So this brings us to the question of "who represents the Pashtun people?" Who indeed.

    Historically, prior to the Taliban and the current Karzai constitution, local, provincial and district Shuras were the basis of legitimate government, selected and serving locally; with patronage also being a local dynamic. From these local forums a Khan was selected who would then represent the Province (not sure off the top of my head exact selection process or level represented) to the Afghan government. These representatives were then recognized by the King as having official authority. Legitimacy from the people, Authority from the King. By all accounts, while not an incredibly effective government, it was widely regarded as "good governance", and there was stability.

    Not many are willing to outlaw themselves to represent the people so excluded from official governance. Often those who are willing to outlaw themselves have their own selfish interests or the interests of some foreign power at the heart of their motivations. If you bleed in the water, it is likely that predators will appear before help does. Same-same with a populace excluded from good governance.

    But my point is not that the Taliban are the representative of the Pashtun people (though be default, in many ways they are), but rather that they are the organization with influence, access, capability and capacity to evict AQ from the FATA. That is US mission in AFPAK. That is the U.S interest at stake in AFPAK. Historically we have worked with all manner of rogues to service our interests; many suggest that we work with rogues in dealing with the current official governments of both Afghanistan and Pakistan. If one must work with rogues, at least one can have the common sense to work with the rogues that can actually help one accomplish what they are attempting to do.

    Ms Flournoy often talks of how we must quit being so idealistic and must become more pragmatic. Well, here's a bit of pragmatism for us to consider: We currently side with two parties who cannot help us accomplish our mission to gang up on the one party who can. I suggest we stop doing that, sit down with the Taliban and figure out what it takes to deal with AQ, and then make it happen. I suspect our friendly rogues will not like it much, but that they will play ball. Particularly Pakistan. Afghanistan less so, as the populace that makes up the Northern Alliance dreads any opening of the door of a return to potential Pashtun rule for good reason. We will need to protect them, and the number one tool for providing such protections is a proper constitution that is in turn protected by a military that places its loyalty to that constitution first, and their commander in chief second at best.
    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. #87
    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    Bob's World:

    Very well stated. I see your point clearly. I don't know if it is practicable though. There are a lot of reasons for my opinion, all or most of which have been well stated in the past by others.

    There is something I want to run by you. In "The Sun In the Sky" the author made it clear that the Afghan insurgents disliked and distrust the Pakistanis. If we weren't there the Pakistanis would be no. 1 on their hate list. They need them though and are somewhat at their mercy since they have to use Pakistan as a sanctuary.

    Do you think we could somehow use that in our favor? For example-Mullah Baradar got picked up they say because he was threatening to break the leash, the implication being that nobody can stray to far from what the Pak Army/ISI wants and get away with it because they are in Pakistan. If, a huge if, we were to say to MO, come to this place in Afghanistan and you will be safe there, would useful talks be more possible because the Pak Army/ISI couldn't physically get at him and his people? Could something along that line work?
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

  8. #88
    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    My take when the Quetta Shura got rolled up a few months back was that it was a none to subtle reminder from the Government of Pakistan (I refuse to abdicate them from responsibility for the ISI and the military; just as I refuse to abdicate the Government of Lebanon for the actions of LH. To do so only creates and enforces further sanctuaries from the rule of law that states rely upon to sustain effective power and control) to the Taliban as to who they work for and that there is no quitting.

    By the U.S. reaching out to the Taliban we disempower the coercive hold that Karzai has on us (essentially that we need him and the Northern Alliance in power in Afghanistan in order to secure ourselves from AQ) and also free the Pashtuns from the coercive power of Pakistan (similar, that they need Pakistan sanctuary and support to wage their insurgency against what they perceive as illegitimate government in Afghanistan).

    We face an impossible mission in AFPAK only because we have defined the mission in impossible terms. By redefining the mission we can make this a much more viable operation and potentially make it more likely to produce the security we seek as well.

    This thread is about indicators. There are 14 indicators of Late-Stage Insurgent success and 14 indicators of effective COIN in the CIA "Guide to the Analysis of Insurgency" that was apparently produced sometime in the 1980s.

    http://www.fas.org/irp/cia/product/insurgency.pdf

    This is actually a pretty good outline on insurgency that I probably originally was made aware of here on the SWJ. I was reviewing it this week, and these 28 factors and indicators should cause thinking people to ask hard questions about our current course in Afghanistan. I will list them here, but be sure to look at them in regards to GIROA, not the Coalition. Afterall, this is an Afghan insurgency and an Afghan COIN. The Coalition intervention and support to that effort is a very different animal driven by very different interests and objectives. I think we tend to forget that.

    I mean, people discuss the "COIN Strategy in Afghanistan." I think about this everyday, and yet I don't have the faintest idea what the GIROA COIN strategy is. I would ponder this as I would sit in large command and staff meetings in RC-South as we prepared for and executed the Marjah (central Helmand) operation and prepared for the Kandahar operations, with heavy emphasis on Afghan partnering. After 5 months a single Afghan LNO was brought into the room. Never did we say "here is the Afghan strategy, now lets figure out how we best support them;" always it was "here is the ISAF strategy, now lets figure out how we get our Afghan partners to help us execute the plan we've put together to support it." There is a difference, and it is a telling one.

    So, from our friends at the CIA:

    14 Indicators of Insurgent Success:

    Progressive withdrawal of domestic support for the government:
    - Withdrawal of support by specific , critical segments of the population.
    - Growing popular perception of regime illegitimacy.
    - Popular perception of insurgents as leading nationalists.
    - Insurgent co-optation, incorporation, or elimination of other major opposition groups to government.

    Progressive withdrawal of international support for the government:
    - Withdrawal of foreign support by specific, critical allies.
    - Increasing international support for the insurgents.

    Progressive loss of government control over the population and territory:
    - Significant expansion of territory under insurgent control.
    - Escalation of guerrilla / terrorist violence.
    - Increasing inability of government to protect supporters / officials from attack.
    - National economy increasingly weakened by insurgent activity.

    Progressive loss of government coercive power:
    - Military plots or coups against the government.
    - Armed guerrilla forces multiplying in size.
    - Lack of sufficient government troops for counterinsurgency.
    - Government seriously negotiating sharing of power with rebels.


    And 14 Military and Nonmilitary factors of effective COIN (again, think GIROA first; then reconsider for the Coalition as a whole separately, but the GIORA assessment is the critical one):

    Military Factors
    Leadership. The degree of professionalism that characterizes a country’s military forces.
    Tactics and Strategy. The ability of counterinsurgent forces to employ the various unconventional strategies and tactics required for combating insurgents in the field – tactics that deemphasize the concentration of forces and firepower and emphasize constant patrolling by many small, lightly armed units supported by larger backup forces.
    Military Intelligence. The ability of the military intelligence apparatus to collect, analyze, and exploit quality intelligence of guerrilla personnel, modus operandi and locations, not just on insurgent order of battle.
    Troop behavior and discipline. The quality of the relationship between soldiers deployed in the field and the surrounding populations.
    Air and naval operations. The quality of air and naval support to the government’s counterinsurgency forces – for example, fire support, reconnaissance, supply transport, medevac.
    Civil-Military relations. The ability of civilian authorities to influence military operations, especially with regard to proper consideration for political objectives.
    Popular Militia. A government’s ability to establish and maintain a popular militia to assist regular forces in maintaining security.

    Nonmilitary Factors:
    Political operations. The ability of the police to maintain law and order and implement population – and resources – control programs.
    Civilian intelligence. The ability of the civilian and police intelligence organizations to collect, coordinate, evaluate, and exploit intelligence on the insurgents and their political /military activities.
    Psychological operations. The quality of a government’s psychological warfare effort, its information and media activities, and its ability to promote its cause domestically and internationally.
    Unified management of counterinsurgency. The government’s ability to establish an organizational infrastructure capable of coordinating a coherent counterinsurgency campaign.
    Political framework. The overall political form and appeal of the government and the validity of its claim that it is the legitimate expression of the people’s aspirations and of the country’s traditions and ethos.
    Improvement of rural conditions and administration. The ability of the government to implement the programs and reforms necessary to gain popular acquiescence in and support for the government’s efforts against the insurgents.
    Legal reform. The ability of the government to implement and administer special laws and regulations specifically designed to counter and suppress the insurgency.

    Even with a simple "Red-Amber-Green" assessment, there is a whole lot of Red on the chart.
    Last edited by Bob's World; 12-29-2010 at 10:48 AM.
    Robert C. Jones
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    "The modern COIN mindset is when one arrogantly goes to some foreign land and attempts to make those who live there a lesser version of one's self. The FID mindset is when one humbly goes to some foreign land and seeks first to understand, and then to help in some small way for those who live there to be the best version of their own self." Colonel Robert C. Jones, US Army Special Forces (Retired)

  9. #89
    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    Ms Flournoy often talks of how we must quit being so idealistic and must become more pragmatic. Well, here's a bit of pragmatism for us to consider: We currently side with two parties who cannot help us accomplish our mission to gang up on the one party who can. I suggest we stop doing that, sit down with the Taliban and figure out what it takes to deal with AQ, and then make it happen. I suspect our friendly rogues will not like it much, but that they will play ball. Particularly Pakistan.
    Do the Taliban want to sit down with us? Why should they be interested in our mission? They have a mission of their own: get back the power they lost. All they have to do to accomplish it is to outlast us, and if they follow our discussions at home they know they can do that.

    The Pakistani Army and ISI would not want us dealing with the Taliban. AQ will not want us dealing with the Taliban. The Deobandi religious core of the Taliban will not want us dealing with the Taliban. Maybe some politically-inclined pragmatists might feel otherwise, but will they have enough influence on the organization to bring about a deal? Or will an effort to make a deal just end up with anyone pragmatic enough to deal getting rolled up and buried?

    We have to accept that any deal made will be seen, by both Karzai and the Taliban, as a step toward full control. They might make a deal if they think it will provide them opportunity in the long run, but both will break the deal as soon as they have an opportunity to get what they want. I doubt very much that this is about representation. It's about power, and when the dust settles somebody's going to be in and somebody's going to be out. Whoever ends up out is going to have a bad time of it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    Afghanistan less so, as the populace that makes up the Northern Alliance dreads any opening of the door of a return to potential Pashtun rule for good reason. We will need to protect them, and the number one tool for providing such protections is a proper constitution that is in turn protected by a military that places its loyalty to that constitution first, and their commander in chief second at best.
    It is not in our power to create an army that places its loyalty to a Constitution first. We can train and equip soldiers, but we cannot transform their loyalties. It would be nice if we could, but we can't. It would be lovely if we could set up a nice system with representation for all, checks and balances, legal protection for minorities, and a chicken in every pot, but we can't. So how realistically do we propose to protect our erstwhile allies if the other guys take over? A Constitution won't do anything if the people in power choose not to follow it. We have to deal with what is and what we can realistically accomplish, and modern constitutional democracy is not in either category.

    The only real virtue I see in a forced compromise, if we can create one at all (highly debatable), is that it might give us a graceful exit point: "ok, you've made peace, we're outta here". Of course as soon as we were gone the compromise would end and the parties involved would proceed to chew each other up, but that would not be our problem, unless the Taliban won. Odds on that might not be so favorable, to us at least.

    By the U.S. reaching out to the Taliban we disempower the coercive hold that Karzai has on us (essentially that we need him and the Northern Alliance in power in Afghanistan in order to secure ourselves from AQ) and also free the Pashtuns from the coercive power of Pakistan (similar, that they need Pakistan sanctuary and support to wage their insurgency against what they perceive as illegitimate government in Afghanistan).
    The US reaching out to the Taliban will not in itself accomplish any of these goals. This only works if the Taliban reach back. If we reach out publicly and get rebuffed we accomplish nothing at all.

    I have nothing against sending quiet overtures where they seem appropriate, and pursuing any that seem to have potential. I don't see how making a grand overture to the Taliban is likely to get us anywhere. Why would they want to play along with us?

    You speak sometimes as if the only obstacle to a viable power-sharing deal is us, and if we only reach out all things will fall into place. Why would this be the case? Do you really think the guys on the other side of the fence are that amenable to making a lasting deal?

  10. #90
    Council Member jcustis's Avatar
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    Dayuhan, I see you as a "We've got all the watches, but they have all the time" sort of realist. Good points on all accounts. I agree with you that a goal of a constitution that is held up as some sort of glue that binds, is a terribly lofty one that we cannot reach.

    I think about this everyday, and yet I don't have the faintest idea what the GIROA COIN strategy is.
    Sir, I don't think we will ever get to a point where there is one, and if we do, it will be so tainted by our hand that it will be marked for death.

    I used to think that it still mattered that we should at least try to get things upright, but the costs simply do not justify it any longer. The best we can hope for is probably a decent interval.

  11. #91
    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    I too am a realist. It is idealistic to think that mere suppression of the Taliban through brute force, coupled with buckets of cash and development projects to temporarily bribe good behavior in the populace will work. History tells us it can achieve temporary effects at best.

    I see in the current ISAF strategy an effort to create just such a temporary suppression effect, just long enough to declare victory, and depart. Perhaps that is a bit of realism as well, and not idealistic wishing that makes them think it will produce perm. effects, and that any proclamations of that as our goal being calculated lies to appease the court of global opinion. But it won't help us resolve the AQ problem, and that is still the mission.

    The Taliban see themselves as a government in exile. If we wanted to take out the Karzai government we'd be drinking tea with the Taliban right now plotting just how we would make that happen. But because we don't want to take out the Karzai government, but merely force an incorporation of Taliban and Northern Alliance influences in one government such plotting is "idealistic"? No, it is cold, hard realism. Use the tool that works. Make hard compromises. Work with people you would not hang out with. Get the job done, and move on. Do the Taliban want the entire thing? Perhaps, perhaps not. We'll know better when we talk to them. They do indeed have the time, and if they can get their foot in the door at the low cost of admission of simply helping the US with AQ (who they really don't like that much to begin with), I suspect yes, they will evict that bad house guest and bide their time as to achieving their ultimate ends. We'll be long gone, dealing with other problems elsewhere by then.

    "Realism" is not avoiding difficult workable solutions in favor of solutions that cannot work. To think we can build an Afghan nation that is stable to solve this problem, or defeat the Pashtun populace's quest for participation in governance and opportunity on their own, or that the Northern Alliance will allow such participation legally of their own volition is the Idealism in play here.
    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)

  12. #92
    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    I see in the current ISAF strategy an effort to create just such a temporary suppression effect, just long enough to declare victory, and depart. Perhaps that is a bit of realism as well, and not idealistic wishing that makes them think it will produce perm. effects, and that any proclamations of that as our goal being calculated lies to appease the court of global opinion. But it won't help us resolve the AQ problem, and that is still the mission.
    I agree, this strategy won't work. I just don't think what you propose will work either. In fact, I suspect strongly that a sequence of bad decisions and unrealistic policies has painted us into a corner where there may be nothing that will work, at which point we face an exercise in damage limitation.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    But because we don't want to take out the Karzai government, but merely force an incorporation of Taliban and Northern Alliance influences in one government such plotting is "idealistic"? No, it is cold, hard realism. Use the tool that works. Make hard compromises. Work with people you would not hang out with. Get the job done, and move on. Do the Taliban want the entire thing? Perhaps, perhaps not. We'll know better when we talk to them.
    If they talk to us.

    Of course we'd be willing to compromise. Putting the Taliban and the Karzai crowd into one government, having the Taliban ditch AQ and walking away is a perfect "solution" for us, why wouldn't we compromise? The question is whether they would be willing to compromise, and that seems to be a point that you assume, for reasons yet unexplained. Why would these two parties get together, share power, and play nicely together just because we want them to? It's not just about us, and this isn't going to happen just because we want it to happen.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    They do indeed have the time, and if they can get their foot in the door at the low cost of admission of simply helping the US with AQ (who they really don't like that much to begin with), I suspect yes, they will evict that bad house guest and bide their time as to achieving their ultimate ends.
    What basis is there for that suspicion? Have the Taliban shown any evidence of willingness to make such arrangements? What influences would move them in that direction (we all know what influences would move them in the opposite direction). The Taliban could have turned over OBL long ago and deprived us of much of our rationale for being there. They aren't doing that.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    "Realism" is not avoiding difficult workable solutions in favor of solutions that cannot work. To think we can build an Afghan nation that is stable to solve this problem, or defeat the Pashtun populace's quest for participation in governance and opportunity on their own, or that the Northern Alliance will allow such participation legally of their own volition is the Idealism in play here .
    Why do you assume a "Pashtun quest for participation in governance"? When did "participation" ever come into the picture, except in American minds? When the Taliban held sway they didn't allow anyone else to participate, and of course they wouldn't expect anyone else to allow them to participate. They know there's going to be a winner and a loser, and they intend to be the winner. The solution you propose is indeed "workable", for us. That's not enough. It has to be workable for the other parties involved... is it?

    I think the solution you propose is a quite lovely one and it would be wonderful if we could implement it... I just don't see any reason to think the other parties that would have to cooperate have any interest in playing along. As I said above, I'd have nothing against quiet contact with Taliban leaders and exploring any avenues that come up (I suspect this has already happened) but the chances of it going anywhere have to be pretty slim. Coming out with a public proposal is something we have to avoid; it it's shot down (and it almost certainly would be) it leaves us in a worse position with everybody concerned.

  13. #93
    Council Member jcustis's Avatar
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    Coming out with a public proposal is something we have to avoid; it it's shot down (and it almost certainly would be) it leaves us in a worse position with everybody concerned.
    As is currently obvious from the wikileaks issue, the key diplomatic construct at play is knowing when to keep the collective mouth shut about these sort of things. Excellent point.

  14. #94
    Council Member Bob's World's Avatar
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    I never said we had to set up the deal publicly.

    The Taliban have made indications in the past that they are willing to remove the sanctuary they provide AQ in exchange for being able to compete legally for a role in governance.

    As this articles indicates, all is not roses in their relationship with Pakistan. I strongly suspect that the roll up of the Quetta Shura was due to the Taliban making overtones at reconciliation as well.:

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/40849142...new_york_times

    We need to take such accusations more seriously than we have to date. We condone and encourage governments to help us with our interests, and this is often the types of measures they employ. Serving their own interests in fact, but gaining a pass from the US by claiming that it is supporting our concerns on terrorism. The Saudis are just as bad, and just as enabled by the US as the Pakistanis. I suspect that in Egypt and Yemen one can find similar governmental bad behavior being similarly enabled and ignored by the US. I think that it is in such relationships that the roots of terrorism take hold. Ideology is just the fertilizer applied to help it grow, and organizations like AQ the trellis that lends the structure to control and focus that growth.
    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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    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    Bob's World:

    In your view is it the Afghan Taliban or the Pakistani Taliban covering for AQ? If it is the Pakistani Taliban they might not care to do business in any event. Personally I think the ISI is covering for them too.
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

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    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob's World View Post
    I never said we had to set up the deal publicly.

    The Taliban have made indications in the past that they are willing to remove the sanctuary they provide AQ in exchange for being able to compete legally for a role in governance.

    As this articles indicates, all is not roses in their relationship with Pakistan. I strongly suspect that the roll up of the Quetta Shura was due to the Taliban making overtones at reconciliation as well.:

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/40849142...new_york_times

    We need to take such accusations more seriously than we have to date. We condone and encourage governments to help us with our interests, and this is often the types of measures they employ. Serving their own interests in fact, but gaining a pass from the US by claiming that it is supporting our concerns on terrorism. The Saudis are just as bad, and just as enabled by the US as the Pakistanis. I suspect that in Egypt and Yemen one can find similar governmental bad behavior being similarly enabled and ignored by the US. I think that it is in such relationships that the roots of terrorism take hold. Ideology is just the fertilizer applied to help it grow, and organizations like AQ the trellis that lends the structure to control and focus that growth.
    We don't enable the Saudis to do anything they couldn't do without us. There is no dependency there, not even a shadow of dependence really, and we can't assume influence we haven't got.

    Of course the Pakistanis are not known for expecting human rights. Neither are the Taliban, or the Karzai crowd for that matter. We aren't going to change any of them. We do enable the Pakistanis to some extent, but that works in two directions: our forces in Afghanistan are too large to supply by air via Kyrgyzstan and/or Uzbekistan (supply lines with their own share of complications) there are real limits to the degree to which we can push the Pakistanis. There aren't a whole lot of options on the logistic front: even in the very hypothetical event of an arrangement with Iran, that would bring its own barrage of quid pro quo complications and vulnerabilities and would be at least as fraught as the deal with Pakistan. As long as we have a large scale presence in Afghanistan, our ability to press Pakistan is constrained.

    We cannot assume influence that we do not have. We cannot force the Pakistanis (or the Saudis) to conform to our human rights standards. We cannot force the Taliban to negotiate with the GIRoA, or vice versa. All of these parties are going to follow their own interests and their own agendas regardless of what we want, and the best we can do is inspire a (generally pretty superficial and lethargic) facade of compliance with our wishes.

    The relationship between the Taliban and the Pakistani government/military/ISI is of course complicated and of course has its own tensions. Whether or not we're in a position to effectively exploit those tensions is another question altogether. Building plans on the assumption of influence (or control) that we do not actually have is possibly not the best place to start.

    We put ourselves in this position by assuming a capacity that we did not actually have: it really didn't take an abacus to figure that "installing" a functioning, stable government in a place like Afghanistan was a bit of a pipe dream. I don't see how we're going to get out of the situation by making the same mistake over again.

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