“‘Nuff Said?” You Bet.

(Cross posted at @TAC)

I know it is a tired trope, but it’s helpful to look at the ultimate success of Counterinsurgency, or the vaunted COIN doctrine dominating the popular ethos of the American military establishment, as a three-legged stool.

As it is conceived, or at least projected for public consumption, in order for COIN to work in Afghanistan —

1) The central government must be legitimate in the eyes of the Afghan people and willing to work hand in glove with the U.S military to pursue the campaign to its proscribed ends.

2) Afghan security forces must be trained and equipped and trusted enough by the civilian population to eventually provide security and to “hold” in the long-term any territory coalition forces can wrest from the “enemy” in the current campaign.

3) The U.S military must have trust (and assistance) from the Afghan civilian population in order to gain leverage over the insurgency and to build legitimacy for the government in Kabul.

All three goals bear serious problematic signs of failure today and yet, there is no realistic talk from the Obama Administration, nor the senior military brass about the prospects of any of this having a snow ball’s chance in hell of ever seeing fruition. Karzai’s legitimacy, and particularly his standing with the Pashtun people (at least 46 percent of the population), is a joke. The reliability of the Afghan security forces is much worse than any administration flak or Washington COIN pusher will concede.

And the military’s success with winning over “the hearts and minds” of the Afghan people? We can’t necessarily blame the soldiers themselves. They were trained to kill — and in a post-9/11 world, their target practice was on dummies with funny headgear who spoke even funnier languages and lived in sand traps and goat-dotted mountains — not to make friends or strive to be the next Greg Mortenson. But it is in the soldiers’ and Marines’ own words that we can sense the truth of the matter — and of how flimsy this house of cards really is.

First, war scribe Robert Young Pelton wrote this engaging chronicle earlier this year of his time with one unit of the Human Terrain Project — the Army’s (clearly problematic) attempt to inject anthropologists/social scientists onto the battlefield to engage the people and to learn more about the regional tapestry for the benefit of the mission. What he found was earnest but overwhelmed personnel, and, more than a little disdain, a lot of confusion and a truck load of condescension and outright scorn for the whole “touchy-feely” approach from the chain of command he had encounters with. A good read, for which Pelton tells me he has been virtually “cut off” from the press office and the lead guy for the project  (it’s also worth it to read the reaction to Pelton’s piece, particularly from the Army and subsequent comments).

Secondly, this little nugget, posted yesterday by COIN hagiographer Tom Ricks. Again, it takes a non-commissioned officer, not a “senior officer who represents the Establishment Party they serve” as one commenter described, to show how this thing is headed to nowheresville. Why? This last paragraph says it all:

Doesn’t matter if you like the people or not. Don’t really care if you think their ideology is bullshit. Fact is if you want to win, the people have to believe that you are sincere and convincing them that it is in their best interest to support you vice your enemy is a key part.  Winning is what matters and the only way to do that is getting better at COIN and IO, regardless of how much we hate it.

Read it all here.

As Ricks so artfully blurts at the end, “nuff said?”

All You Can Cheat

From Big O’s speech:

[W]e have made progress on some important objectives. …  In Afghanistan, we and our allies prevented the Taliban from stopping a presidential election and — although it was marred by fraud — that election produced a government that is consistent with Afghanistan’s laws and constitution.

Hurrah! Stolen elections for everyone! Try and stop us, baddies!

Will Obama Out-BS Bush?

Obama’s speech from West Point tonight may drive the final wooden stake into liberals’ hope that their guy would create a Brave New Order in Washington and the world.

The fact that Obama is following in Bush’s footsteps – talking to an audience of captive individuals who would be ruined for life by a single catcall – is a sign of how archaic hope for change and reform has become.

If Obama honestly admitted that he is sending American boys to die to help assure the profits of drug kingpins like Karzai’s brother, I could at least respect the president’s candor.

But the odds of truth breaking out during Obama’s visit to West Point are slim and none – and “Slim just left town,” as Dan Rather says.

WHICH ‘safe haven,’ Mr. Obama?

If things run on schedule, Mr. Obama will announce tomorrow that he and his organization will be sending approximately 34,000 more U.S. troops to harass and sometimes kill men, women and children (as “collateral damage”) in Afghanistan.  And then he has to sell his unpopular decision. If previous statements are any guide, his main excuse will be “We have to deny al’Qaeda ‘safe haven’.” 

Question: “If you believe the official mythology,

1. “In what country did the 911 al’Qaeda pilots get ‘safe haven‘ to train

2. “In what country did the Madrid train bombers get ‘safe haven‘ to prepare?

3. “In what country did the London bombers get ‘safe haven‘?”

HINT: It’s NOT Afghanistan.

The answers to the three questions are:

 1. U.S.A.

 2. Spain

 3. England

How many troops will Mr. Obama send to THESE terrorist states to deny al’Qaeda ‘safe haven?’

By way of context, there are approximately 193 countries in the world, each of which can supply al’Qaeda with equivalent ‘safe haven.’

According to CIA and military intelligence sources, currently there aren’t 100 al’Qaeda operatives in all of Afghanistan.  So, Mr. Obama, what are your other excuses?
 

I Have the Answer

NPR (All Things Considered) is devoting an entire hour of programming today to the war in Afghanistan. The show was prefaced with a comment something like “We don’t have all the answers.” Well, I have the answer: Get out! Get out now before one more Afghan dies, before one more U.S. soldier dies, before one more dollar is spent. Get out now. Like Vietnam, we will eventually get out. The question is how many more Afghans will die before we do? How many more U.S. soldiers will die before we do? How many more billions of dollars will be wasted before we do? And how many more terrorists will we create before we leave? As Daniel Ellsberg recently said, sending more troops to Afghanistan will only increase the Taliban’s strength:

The more troops we put in Vietnam, the more Vietcong were recruited. And, the more troops we put in Afghanistan, the curve shows very clearly from 2005 on, the Taliban has come back having been, as you say, despised and reviled by most of the country. How can it be that they get the degree of support that they do now? One reason only: the number of troops, of US troops that they are fighting.

German DM Mentions the War… in Afghanistan

An outrageous thing has happened today in Germany: the Defense Minister has used the word “war” to describe the, uh, war in Afghanistan. As Justin Raimondo might say: Germans are shocked — shocked! You see, these people burdened by national collective memories of WWII thought they were sending peacekeepers to Afghanistan — sure, sure, armed to the teeth and swathed in armor, but still, I mean, the UN approves. And now this bad man tells them it’s a war over there.

But DM Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg is still within acceptable boundaries of discourse, as he technically said the fighting in Afghanistan was “war-like.” This keeps him in line with his predecessor Franz Josef Jung, fond of saying “this is not a war,” and that his soldiers are on a “mission for stability and the peaceful development of the nation.”

Aside from the general “revulsion for war” among Germans, there are practical concerns. Insurance carriers will not pay out for men killed in “war,” so in (I guess) an effort to save a few marks, the government classifies “war” as something that can only be carried out between sovereign states, and Afghan wedding parties apparently aren’t technically a country.

Guttenberg further clarified that the “war” label is used by his soldiers, those ignorants of the finer points of international law; to them “the Taliban is waging a war against the soldiers of the international community.”

Shame on the “Taliban” — code for anyone who dares to take up arms against foreign invaders in Afghanistan — for somehow teleporting their country under the feet of so many American and European troops and then having the gall to fight back when drone-bombed, and further, refusing to adopt a societal model that would give rise to a centralized European-style social democratic state! A backward civilization, indeed.