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Tilting at Windmills

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August 4, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

AFGHANISTAN....As we begin to withdraw troops from Iraq, should we increase our military presence in Afghanistan? Two writers, coming at the issue from very different perspectives, say no. First up is Rory Stewart, who runs an NGO in Kabul called the Turquoise Mountain, writing in Time:

Western troops can win any conventional battle against ill-armed extremists, but both history and the latest doctrine on counterinsurgency suggest that ultimate victory will require control of Afghanistan's borders, hundreds of thousands of troops and a much stronger and more legitimate Afghan state, which could take Afghans decades to build. The West does not have the resources to match our ambitions in counterinsurgency, and we never will.

....So what exactly should we do about Afghanistan now? First, the West should not increase troop numbers. In time, NATO allies, such as Germany and Holland, will probably want to draw down their numbers, and they should be allowed to do so....A troop increase is likely to inflame Afghan nationalism because Afghans are more anti-foreign than we acknowledge and the support for our presence in the insurgency areas is declining. The Taliban, which was a largely discredited and backward movement, gains support by portraying itself as fighting for Islam and Afghanistan against a foreign military occupation.

....Our efforts in nation-building, governance and counternarcotics should be smaller and more creative. This is not because these issues are unimportant; they are vital for Afghanistan's future. But only the Afghan government has the legitimacy, the knowledge and the power to build a nation. The West's supporting role is at best limited and uncertain....Our military strategy, meanwhile, should focus on counterterrorism — not counterinsurgency. Our presence has so far prevented al-Qaeda from establishing training camps in Afghanistan. We must continue to prevent it from doing so. But our troops should not try to hold territory or chase the Taliban around rural areas.

Next is Robert Kaplan, writing in the Atlantic, who examines Afghanistan as it relates to the historic rivalry between Pakistan and India:

The Karzai government has openly and brazenly strengthened its ties with India, and allowed Indian consulates in Jalalabad, Kandahar, Herat, and Mazar-e-Sharif. It has kept alive the possibility of inviting India to help train the new Afghan army, and to help in dam construction in the northeastern Afghan province of Kunar, abutting Pakistan. All this has driven the ISI wild with fear and anger.

....In the midst of all this, both Bush and Barack Obama talk simplistically about sending more American troops to Afghanistan. The India-Pakistan rivalry is just one of several political problems in the region that negate the benefit of more troops. As in the past in both Afghanistan and Iraq, we are in danger of conceiving of war in narrow military terms alone, and thus getting the politics wrong.

In the first place, we need vigorous shuttle diplomacy between Kabul, Islamabad, and New Delhi to address India's and Pakistan's fears about Afghanistan. Only by assuaging the ISI's fears, while allowing India its rightful place in Kabul, can we get more cooperation from Pakistan in our fight against Islamic extremism....The lesson: To get bin Laden, we need a coherent regional policy of development that draws all three countries into an organic embrace. A manhunt alone will fail. A policy of nation-building in Pakistan and Afghanistan will, counterintuitively, lead to a successful manhunt.

Both pieces are worth reading in full. Stewart and Kaplan — one the head of an NGO who's spent years on the ground in Afghanistan, the other a hawkish world traveler who has spent years reporting on the politics and culture of the Middle East and central Asia — have both come to similar conclusions: Afghanistan is not primarily a military problem. We can't and shouldn't abandon Afghanistan as we did in the early 90s, but our presence should be targeted, tightly constrained, and mostly economic and diplomatic. There's a place for counterinsurgency there, but not for tens of thousands more troops trying vainly to control hundreds of thousands of square miles of unfriendly territory. I won't pretend that my mind is entirely made up on this question, but for now, I'm inclined to agree.

Kevin Drum 1:01 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (46)

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rational pieces both, but without meaning to be unduly snarky I have to ask: when has rational analysis based on the domestic needs of countries like Afghanistan formed any part in setting foreign policy?

Posted by: billy on August 4, 2008 at 1:17 AM | PERMALINK

Kaplan is wrong to put any emphasis on accommodating ISI's interests. ISI is a terrorist organization, which has instigated a lot of activities that have led to considerable number of deaths and misery, and, therefor, should be treated as such.

Posted by: gregor on August 4, 2008 at 1:51 AM | PERMALINK

"Western troops can win any conventional battle against ill-armed extremists..."

Something like that expressed the Soviet Union's confidence, as it occupied Afghanistan.

It was the Soviet Union's last major military campaign.

Posted by: Pyre on August 4, 2008 at 2:07 AM | PERMALINK

Accommodating ISI is like accommodating Al Qaeda. ISI helped found the Taliban, supported Al Qaeda, and fought by the side of Taliban against the Northern Alliance. Not surprisingly, Bush and his cabal pay no attention to these little details and continue to pour Billions into Pakistan, a big part of which flows to enrich ISI's coffers.

ISI, of course, is unhappy. Their protege, the Taliban, was overthrown by the Northern Alliance, with help from the western coalition. And now we have to accommodate the ISI because they are throwing a hissy fit?

Posted by: rational on August 4, 2008 at 2:38 AM | PERMALINK

The question is moot. We're facing imminent economic collapse. The American Empire is about to fall.

Posted by: Wave bye-bye! on August 4, 2008 at 3:56 AM | PERMALINK

gregor and rational make good points.

Stewart says we have to be smaller and more creative as though being larger and more creative are mutually exclusive.

Kaplan's piece is sillier--let's get the Indians and Pakistanis to trust each other. While we're at it, let's get Sunnis and Shias to trust each other as well as Jews and Arabs. Once we finish that, we can work on the relationship between Republicans and good policies, and we can solve our economic problems by waving the wand of energy independence and high private-sector salaries for everybody.

Posted by: reino on August 4, 2008 at 6:09 AM | PERMALINK

Well, history is certainly on the side of both authors. Has anyone ever found a military solution in Afghanistan?

Posted by: DBake on August 4, 2008 at 6:48 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin, I am surprised that you have not referenced the most recent right-wing Rand Corporation report on terrorism, which basically says that a militaristic approach to combating terrorism hasn’t and won’t work and that we need to re-think our strategy.

Posted by: The Conservative Deflator on August 4, 2008 at 6:58 AM | PERMALINK

Another pertinent piece by Sarah Chayes, formerly of NPR.

http://bostonreview.net/BR32.2/chayes.php

Posted by: anonymous on August 4, 2008 at 7:01 AM | PERMALINK
Well, history is certainly on the side of both authors. Has anyone ever found a military solution in Afghanistan?

I'm sure DBake didn't mean it to be such low hanging fruit, but I'm pretty sure that Afghan tribespeople have consistently found military solutions, albeit not in the traditional nation-state military sense.

Posted by: kenga on August 4, 2008 at 7:49 AM | PERMALINK

I am all for being creative in Afghanistan. Just get Bin Laden. While we are at it we might want to crush the Opium trade, or at least give farmers an alternative.

Posted by: Ron Byers on August 4, 2008 at 8:17 AM | PERMALINK

It's striking that many--Sen. Obama included--while opposed to a surge in Iraq back in the day, are now for a surge in Afghanistan.

Posted by: Royal Savage on August 4, 2008 at 8:31 AM | PERMALINK

It's striking that many--Sen. Obama included--while opposed to a surge in Iraq back in the day, are now for a surge in Afghanistan.

Why? Are there no differences between the two countries and their situations that might dictate different approaches?

Should we try a 'surge' in Burma or Darfur or Zimbabwe because it had some success in Iraq?

Posted by: low-tech cyclist on August 4, 2008 at 8:49 AM | PERMALINK

"history and the latest doctrine on counterinsurgency suggest that ultimate victory will require control of Afghanistan's borders"

Big Problem: Afghanistan does not have controllable borders with the tribal areas of Pakistan. That border is a line in the sand drawn by the British that has never been under effective central government control.

Some sort of quasi independence and economic incentives in return for policing the area against radical training camps might work. The US has the resources to outbid bin Laden.

Posted by: on August 4, 2008 at 8:55 AM | PERMALINK

"history and the latest doctrine on counterinsurgency suggest that ultimate victory will require control of Afghanistan's borders"

Big Problem: Afghanistan does not have controllable borders with the tribal areas of Pakistan. That border is a line in the sand drawn by the British that has never been under effective central government control.

Some sort of quasi independence and economic incentives in return for policing the area against radical training camps might work. The US has the resources to outbid bin Laden.

Posted by: bakho on August 4, 2008 at 8:55 AM | PERMALINK

Should have let Russia have Afghanistan back when.

Posted by: Jet on August 4, 2008 at 9:10 AM | PERMALINK

Well, history is certainly on the side of both authors. Has anyone ever found a military solution in Afghanistan?

I'm sure DBake didn't mean it to be such low hanging fruit, but I'm pretty sure that Afghan tribespeople have consistently found military solutions, albeit not in the traditional nation-state military sense.Well, history is certainly on the side of both authors. Has anyone ever found a military solution in Afghanistan?

It has been done before, many times. First, you kill a bunch of Afghan warriors to establish your credentials as a fellow bad ass. You pay off the rulers so you can collect some taxes or tribute, bribe the tribes to keep open trade and communications through the mountain passes, and otherwise you leave them the hell alone.

Worked for the Persians, Alexander the Great, and a dozen or so other empires. Not as useful for Western do-gooders, but anything we can do along these lines diplomatically will at least stabilize the situation.

Basically, the military wants to get enough elite troops in country to smack the Taliban around. We cut a deal that neutralizes Al Queda and the opium trade, declare a victory, and then get out fast and quiet.

Posted by: Berken on August 4, 2008 at 9:36 AM | PERMALINK

I disagree.

I think because we can do something more likely to be lasting in Afghanistan, we have more of an obligation to stay there. I think the reason people want to pull out is because we don't have as much of an oil (i.e., plutocratic) incentive to stay there. But from a practical stand point, it would still be an advanced military base in the region from which to launch strikes in Iraq if anything ever gets out of hand there.

What we should do is legalize cannabis in the U.S. but only if it is grown in Afghanistan. That will give us more liegitimacy which will in turn help our other efforts, because we will be giving the Afghans something that will really help them, instead of just snatching the food out of their mouths by denying them the poppy trade.

So, no poppies, but yes to marijuana.

Posted by: Swan on August 4, 2008 at 9:40 AM | PERMALINK

Just to be clear, my comment at 9:40 was addressed to Kevin and the authors he excerpts, not to any of the comments above.

Berken wrote:

We cut a deal that neutralizes Al Queda and the opium trade, declare a victory, and then get out fast and quiet.

I think that's fantasy-land. I don't think there is any one swift stroke that can accomplish this. Despite all your supposed know-how leading up to this statement, I think a "plan" like yours ultimately only accomplishes Americans stopping paying attention to Afghanistan once the media reports a so-called "victory."

Well, history is certainly on the side of both authors. Has anyone ever found a military solution in Afghanistan?

Well, this Berken guy claims it's been done, and in any event, I think these claims about how tough the Afghans and Afghanistan are are a little too rhetorical. Modern weapons, for instance the U.S.' air superiority, just make the situation a lot different than it has even been in the past. The Afghans may be about the same militarily as when they fought the Soviets, but our forces today are much superior to the Soviets' forces then, based on all sorts of metrics. And, we have the example of being able to look at what the Soviets did wrong.

Posted by: Swan on August 4, 2008 at 9:46 AM | PERMALINK

I think they have an important point. However neither political party will risk getting ahead of public opinion on this one, at least until the election is over. The citizens are behind the learning curve here, and still demand a policy that sounds more forceful in Afghanistan. Until either enough people get it, or the issue becomes unimportant to the election, I think you will not see either campaign changing their position.

Posted by: bigTom on August 4, 2008 at 9:54 AM | PERMALINK

"history and the latest doctrine on counterinsurgency suggest that ultimate victory will require control of Afghanistan's borders"

The trouble with the maps on the wall of the Vice President's office is that they do not indicate that most of those borders are vertical.

"Western troops can win any conventional battle against ill-armed extremists..."

The sort of thinking that resulted in this:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Afghan_War

And I don't think there's a soldier in Afghanistan above the rank of Lance Corporal who hasn't this image in the back of his mind:
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/fb/Last-stand.jpg

A couple ago there was a story about Bush's summer reading list; it included two of the late George MacDonald Fraser's Flashman novels. Pity that neither was the first:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flashman_%28novel%29

Posted by: Steve Paradis on August 4, 2008 at 10:01 AM | PERMALINK

Some sort of quasi independence and economic incentives in return for policing the area against radical training camps might work. The US has the resources to outbid bin Laden.

Not anymore it doesn't. It is about to find itself unable to sustain military operations abroad, let alone the critical and MUCH more important and necessary social obligations at home.

Are you suggestioning that we borrow a bribe from China to pay off the tribal leaders in the amorphous tribal region between Pakistan and Afghanistan? We could, hat in hand, request that the Chinese place this one on our running tab...

Posted by: Praedor Atrebates on August 4, 2008 at 10:24 AM | PERMALINK

The original mistake was to frame the criminal actions of a small cabal - the 9/11 gang - as an act of war. What the 9/11 perpetrators did, could have been planned in the basement of a house in Detroit, and executed by any gang (like McVeigh et al) with a willingness to die for their cause. IT DID NOT NEED A COUNTRY FOR A BASE FROM WHICH TO PLAN & TRAIN.

The reason we have not had a reprise of 9/11 is that we undertook simple security precautions (like barricading cockpit doors), which should have been done decades ago. Prior to 9/11 we had a bizarre Pollyanna-ish sense of invulnerability. Even though the 1993 WTC, the Oklahoma, the embassy, & the USS Cole bombings should have alerted us.

This war framing mistake elevated the status of Osama, and committed the West to fight him and the Taliban on their turf. Couple that with the mindboggling incompetence of the Bushies, and their lusting for Iraq's oil and Saddam's head, and we now have a mess that has doomed the Afghanis to a hell for several more decades - regardless of what the West does.

Posted by: jimvj on August 4, 2008 at 10:27 AM | PERMALINK

rational on August 4, 2008 at 2:38 AM:

And now we have to accommodate the ISI because they are throwing a hissy fit?

No, we have to accomodate the ISI because they have access to nuclear materials.

Swan on August 4, 2008 at 9:40 AM:

I think because we can do something more likely to be lasting in Afghanistan, we have more of an obligation to stay there.

When brother-in-law arrived in Afghanistan, he thought he was going to do something important and lasting in training Afghan police and military units.

About halfway through, he realized how badly damaged things were over there...he still did his duty, even more than that, earning a bronze star...but he understood that Afghanistan is something that the US and coalition forces can't fix. What's happening in that region is something that we can only protect ourselves from.

I think the reason people want to pull out is because we don't have as much of an oil (i.e., plutocratic) incentive to stay there.

No. People want to pull out because they are realizing that we can't put Humpty Dumpty together again; we can only keep ourselves from being cut on the shards of his shell.

Posted by: grape_crush on August 4, 2008 at 10:43 AM | PERMALINK

Most analyses of this area are backward looking in terms of historical forces. The past is not a valid guide since the region's main goal is modernization. We have to keep up pressure on the area to help the non-atavistics bring it into the 21st century. In terms of values, we can't turn our backs on those who want freedom, not Talibanism.

Posted by: Bob M on August 4, 2008 at 10:44 AM | PERMALINK

Swan: What we should do is legalize cannabis in the U.S. but only if it is grown in Afghanistan.
You tryin' to start a war with Northern CA?

Posted by: thersites on August 4, 2008 at 11:03 AM | PERMALINK

What? bin Laden, Omar and the Taliban get a pass? So quickly do we forget. I'd send it overwhelming forces - 100000+ - and swarm the Afghanistan/Pakistan border and spray the opium crops. The enemy includes parts of the ISI, Taliban, and warlords aligned with the Afghanistan government. All due respect, but I'm long past worrying about offending anyone. I,m sure our increased presence would be detrimental, but you need to get rid of the neer-do-wells if there is any hope foe success.

Posted by: William j. on August 4, 2008 at 11:08 AM | PERMALINK

The interest groups in Afghanistan can be divided into locals and foreigners. Our objective should be to turn the locals against the Taliban. (This is feasible because the Taliban is perceived generally by the Afghans as a foreign force.) One way that might be done is to pay off the tribal leaders. Another way is to provide the national government with aid that it can dole out to the tribes however it sees fit. But none of this will work if there is a Great Powers struggle going on in the country between Pakistan, India, and the US. As long as India is involved, the Pakistani Security Services are going to be backing the Taliban's efforts to overthrow the country. India needs to be asked to leave, quietly but quickly. And the US should pull out most of its troops. The most important thing is that we should stop dropping bombs on the country, most of which seem to be targetted (thru bad intelligence) at weddings. Our military presence has to become invisible.

In short: crank down the Great Power presence, ramp up targetted economic support and other cultural, soft power initiatives.

Posted by: lampwick on August 4, 2008 at 11:20 AM | PERMALINK

Let me add what I think is an extremely important point:

There will never be peace in Afghanistan as long as India is allying itself with the government. The most useful thing the US can do is ask India to leave and fulfill all the promises the latter has made to Karzai. If India stays, Afghanistan becomes Kashmir North.

Posted by: lampwick on August 4, 2008 at 11:29 AM | PERMALINK

The Taliban is percieved to be a foreign force?? I thought they were local - formed and accepted for a while as a lesser evil than dueling warlords.

Posted by: Butch on August 4, 2008 at 11:52 AM | PERMALINK

The best course of action would be massive doses of stimulants to combat Bush's Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

We were attacked by bin Laden, and there was never any good justification for doing anything but focusing like a laser on getting bin Laden. The Crusade was built on a false doctrine of political correctness and hubris in claiming title to the "world's only superpower."

The Pashtun/Taliban probably have as little interest in democracy (Anglo/American culture) being forced on them as Americans would have in having fundamentalist Islam forced on them. The notion that "they're just like us with the universal longing for fweedom" is PC, which is always divorced from reality. The "world's only superpower" hubris gave control bullies like Rumsfeld and Cheney morbid dreams of easy conquest.

Posted by: Luther on August 4, 2008 at 12:10 PM | PERMALINK

India and Pakistan may have reason to think they have a 'rightful place' in Afghanistan, but the US does not. Americans forget that the Taliban, mujihideen and the ISI were empowered by the CIA to fight the Soviets. The events since the end of the the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan are blowback from that policy. Some Americans think killing Afghanis and destroying their livelihood will pacify them, but unless we kill all of them, this strategy will not work.

Posted by: Brojo on August 4, 2008 at 12:18 PM | PERMALINK

The Taliban are Pashtun but their base of operations has tended to be on the Pakistani side of the border. The Taliban have only been popular with Afghan Pashtuns when they have taken on the role of avengers, cleaning out corrupt and incompetent governments; but i the wake of their victories, their puritanism kills the local economy and turns people off. So love for the Taliban in southern Afghanistan is not a given, which is what I should have said.

Posted by: lampwick on August 4, 2008 at 12:18 PM | PERMALINK

Increasing troop numbers in Afghanistan will increase the number of troops involved with opium.

Posted by: Brojo on August 4, 2008 at 12:31 PM | PERMALINK

The Taliban is percieved to be a foreign force?? I thought they were local - formed and accepted for a while as a lesser evil than dueling warlords.

Posted by: Butch on August 4, 2008

The Taliban leadership were/are Afghanis, but most of the Taliban rank and file grew up in refugee camps in Pakistan. They are almost exclusively Pashtun which is the largest ethnic group in the country but which still has only 40% of the population. And the Pashtun are by no means a homogenous group, as with most peoples they have a number of tribal and regional rivalries and cultural differences.

The Taliban was initially welcomed in much of the country because the in-fighting after the Russians left had escalated to a full-blown civil war before they showed up. But they quickly lost most of that goodwill by trying to enforce a version of Islam that was compatible with the practices of most of the country and by brutally suppressing several ethnic groups that tried to resist.

Unfortunately, I am not surprised that experts in the region say more troops would not help at this point. We lost our chance when we a) didn't decisively defeat the Taliban after they were driven out of Kabul, b) were unable to reliably protect anyone that cooperated with the Karzai government or coalition forces from retaliation by the Taliban throughout large areas of the country and c) didn't deliver on most of the reconstruction efforts Bush promised before the start of the war.

Now that we have been there for over 6 years, aren't showing any signs of leaving soon and haven't significantly improved conditions in most of southern Afghanistan, it isn't surprising that the Taliban is having more success as portraying themselves as a local group resisting foreign occupation.

Posted by: tanstaafl on August 4, 2008 at 12:45 PM | PERMALINK

lampwik: is that you Musharraf?

Posted by: gregor on August 4, 2008 at 1:27 PM | PERMALINK

No, but Lampwick's family includes a Pakistani branch, and he counts several Indians among his best friends, and he knows what they say about each other. Hostility between India and Pakistan is at least as bad as that between, say, Israel and Syria or Israel and Iran, and Indian involvement in Afghanistan is about as provocative as Israeli support for the government of Iraq would be.

Posted by: Musharraf on August 4, 2008 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

Surely there is a better way to enhance our security other than sending troops to hunt down bin Laden in Afghanistan/Pakistan. In 2008, what is the real security threat these folks pose to the US and our interests?

Posted by: jb on August 4, 2008 at 3:23 PM | PERMALINK

The Taliban leadership were/are Afghanis,...

Try: "The Taliban leadership pay very well in Afghanis, as well as in other currency."

Posted by: Pyre on August 4, 2008 at 4:10 PM | PERMALINK

"I'd send it overwhelming forces - 100000+ - and swarm the Afghanistan/Pakistan border"

Have the last five years taught you nothing? Not only is such an exercise a physical impossibility at this point, it would be a complete waste of resources and would just bog us down into yet another unsustainable quagmire.

Posted by: PaulB on August 4, 2008 at 4:41 PM | PERMALINK

There will never be peace in Afghanistan as long as India is allying itself with the government. The most useful thing the US can do is ask India to leave and fulfill all the promises the latter has made to Karzai. If India stays, Afghanistan becomes Kashmir North.

Sure, India will probably be happy to get out. But only if Pakistan is kicked out of Afghanistan and stops using the larger Mujaheedin nexus to foment trouble in India. Don't forget that what big parts of what are now Afghanistan and Pakistan were part of the larger "India" before the British carved it up into separate parts. There are cultural links, historical relationships, and geopolitical calculations (e.g. Afghanistan as a conduit for natural gas) and that makes Afghanistan a place of "national interest" for India as much as it is for Pakistan. And certainly lot more than it is of interest to the western powers.

Posted by: rational on August 4, 2008 at 4:51 PM | PERMALINK

PaulB wrote this in response to the suggestion that we put 100,000 troops on the Pakistan border.

"Have the last five years taught you nothing? Not only is such an exercise a physical impossibility at this point, it would be a complete waste of resources and would just bog us down into yet another unsustainable quagmire."
_________________

I agree with PaulB.

No roads, no airfields, high altitude, damned near vertical mountain reaches, no clean water, no power, no nothing, except hostile tribesmen.

Try to pack 100,000 conventional troops into such a situation and we'll have trouble sustaining them, let alone employing them effectively. They'll wind up being walled up in a series of Fort Zinderneufs, with necessarily small, isolated patrols having very limited mobility, save helicopters (which we'll also have trouble supporting). We probably won't even be allowed to use land mines to defend our mountain forts. Fixed wing airpower will be available but limited, due to the few number of large airfields in the country. Following this formula and we might be there a hundred years. And the border will still leak like a sieve.

This won't be anything like as easy a job as in Iraq. Building up the national government in those low land regions we can secure is the way to go. Pour in the aid to win over people in the secure areas and strike the Taliban when they concentrate. Otherwise, let the Afghani national government take over winning as much of the country as they judge themselves capable. Build and support the Afghan army and let them take on the Kush incrementally, if they dare. Help them build an Air Force. Get out as soon as we can - in four or five years.

Posted by: trashhauler on August 4, 2008 at 7:30 PM | PERMALINK

rational @ 4:51 wrote: "...Don't forget that what (are) big parts of what are now Afghanistan and Pakistan were part of the larger "India" before the British carved it up into separate parts...".
Firstly, Britain never controlled Afghanistan. There were two Afghan Wars, one during the 1840's and another in the 1880's. The British lost an entire army during the first war; the second war resulted in a "pro-British" Afghan ruler, but the British really had no control over what happened in Afghanistan; the war was mainly to prevent Russia from becoming predominant in Afghanistan and thus threatening India.
The separate countries of Pakistan and India are a result of Jinnah's (considered the founder of Pakistan) fears that Moslems would be submerged in a united "India", which was what the British actually proposed when "Home Rule" was first proposed for the subcontinent during WWI.

Posted by: Doug on August 4, 2008 at 7:36 PM | PERMALINK

June 27, 2008 at 13:58:50

THE ULTIMATE BUSH BLUFF / ELECT McCAIN OR WE BOMB IRAN

by Allen L Roland

www.opednews.com
Facing a growing domestic economic disaster and a failed Iraq war and occupation, a defiant George W Bush will issue his final face saving bluff to his ignorant base ~ elect McCain or we will bomb Iran. Bush see's himself as a patriot and is not about to let the growing Obama wave dismantle his Middle East neocon castle in the sand : Allen L Roland

The handwriting is on the wall ~ the fall Presidential campaign will be between the people's desire for a real change of direction in Washington and the Bush/McCain establishment's desire to maintain the status quo by utilizing the politics of FEAR. Bush see's himself as a patriot and is not about to let the growing Obama wave dismantle his Middle East neocon castle in the sand.


The ultimate fear, as previewed by right wing neocon hack Bill Kristol, will be the implied threat to attack Iran if it appears that Obama will decisively win in November ~ which is becoming more and more likely.

The likely scenario, which I feel will happen, perhaps before November, will be an air strike by Israel against Iran which will be followed by a massive American strike against Iran ~ after Iran retaliates against Israel.

Bush's justification will be protecting Israel and the spineless Democrats will loudly bluster and fold as the Cheney/Bush war machine continues to roll on ~ playing the fear card until it is called.

And the fear card is beginning to be called, as it has by the alternative free press on the internet, including myself, for many years. Here is Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson giving Fox News a piece of his mind on the subject of GW Bush's upcoming visit to the city ~ and do remember that Fox news is Dick Cheney's favorite news outlet. ( Five minute video )http://www.youtube.com/v/Wp_W3SmjvvA&rel=0&hl=en

The only effective constitutional method to call this war card, besides the nation's leaders speaking out, is the Impeachment card, which John Conyers still holds close to his vest and might yet play ~ particularly since new polling data shows one-fifth of conservatives supporting Obama. See Obama's strange appeal to high priests of US conservatism who are increasingly becoming fed up with the Cheney/Bush neocon conservative ideology.

Allen L Roland http://blogs.salon.com/0002255/2008/06/27.html


Kristol: Bush Might Bomb Iran If He 'Thinks Senator Obama's Going to Win'

CLG News

http://thinkprogress.org/2008/06/22/kristol-bush-iran/
22 Jun 2008 On Fox News Sunday this morning, Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol said that President Bush is more likely to attack Iran if he believes Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) is going to be elected.

However, "if the president thought John McCain was going to be the next president, he would think it more appropriate to let the next president make that decision than do it on his way out," Kristol said, reinforcing the fact that McCain is offering a third Bush term on Iran... Host Chris Wallace then asked if Kristol was suggesting that Bush might "launch a military strike" before or after the election: WALLACE: So, you’re suggesting that he might in fact, if Obama's going to win the election, either before or after the election, launch a military strike? KRISTOL: I don’t know. I mean, I think he would worry about it... Kristol also suggested that Obama’s election would tempt Saudi Arabia and Egypt to think, "maybe we can use nuclear weapons."



Posted by: thought I should share on August 4, 2008 at 8:37 PM | PERMALINK

It looks like Kaplan is over-compensating for being so wrong about Iraq. Better relations between Afghanistan, Pakistan and India would be great, but let's stop basing foreign policy on wishful thinking (which, coincidently, is the lesson to be learned from Iraq).

We need to work with Pakistan's new government to make sure they are strong enough to weed out the terrorists from ISI on their time. Beyond that, there is very little we can do about the ISI.

Killing bin Laden would make him look less favored by god, as he does right now to nuts who are inclined to believe that sort of thing. How Kaplan could seriously argue against a massive manhunt is beyond me. Yes, we need to work with locals and buy them off when we can, but that should go without saying.

Posted by: Owen on August 5, 2008 at 12:06 AM | PERMALINK

Berken wrote . . . We cut a deal that neutralizes Al Queda and the opium trade, declare a victory, and then get out fast and quiet.

Swan wrote . . . I think that's fantasy-land. I don't think there is any one swift stroke that can accomplish this.

I didn't say it would be swift or even easy: just that it is the only policy proven to work over the centuries.

That region has been a poverty-stricken, worthless rockpile since before the dawn of recorded history. The locals no doubt love their homeland like everyone else loves their homeland, but outsiders with any sense only go there because of Afghanistan sits on the strategic trade routes between Persia, Central Asia, and India.

It isn't impossible to take over the few fertile valleys in Afghanistan and seize control of the trading centers, but you can bankrupt yourself trying to impose any kind of order on the rest of the country. Most outside powers who have successfully made Afghanistan part of their domains did as I described.

You are right in thinking the Afghans are overrated as soldiers. For most of the history of the British Raj, British and Indian troops routinely defeated several times their number of tribal warriors. If they were lucky, Kipling would even write a story or a poem about them.

The problem is, killing a few Afghan bandits or zealots doesn't accomplish anything except to make the other Afghans mad at you. You can empty your treasury trying to keep an army up in those mountains and it doesn't have any lasting effect. You have to find a political solution based on mutual respect and let the Afghans go back to what they were doing.

Conventional forces cost us a fortune, ruin the country, and breed new guerillas. Well trained and well handled special forces can kill a lot of Taliban without a lot of collateral damage and will also discredit the Taliban in the eyes of the tribemen. While they do this, they provide cover for economic aid and a political solution. I expect that this is what the Marines had in mind when they asked for limited reinforcements.

Posted by: Berken on August 5, 2008 at 12:48 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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