RANGER AGAINST WAR: Rube Goldberg's COIN <

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Rube Goldberg's COIN


Faith in a holy cause is to a considerable extent
a substitute for the lost faith in ourselves

--Eric Hoffer


[Clear guidance] and unity

is not only logical but indeed indispensable

in a successful military organization,

but in a democracy debate is the breath of life

--
President Eisenhower

"To the Taliban, winning is, in fact, not losing,"

he said.

"They feel that over time, they will ultimately outlast

the international community's attempt to

stabilize Afghanistan. It's really a game of will to them."

--Taliban Surprising U.S. Forces
__________________

The September/October Columbia Journalism Review's cover story -- "Too Close for Comfort?" -- questions the impartiality of reporter Tom Ricks' recent coverage of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, suggesting Ricks has become a cheerleader for wars he once roundly criticized. And Ricks is not the only former critic-turned-supporter.

Ricks is the author of 2006's
Fiasco, which savaged George Bush's war efforts as being ill-conceived and poorly executed with neither clearly stated plans nor goals. However, since 2007 Ricks has affiliated himself with the Washington D.C. think tank Center for a New American Security where he has an office, and he is now a champion of current U.S. counterinsurgency [COIN] efforts.

Ricks attributes what he is now lauding as the successes in Iraq and AFPAK to "dissidents" like General Petraeus, but a dissident never did wear 4 Stars on his uniform. A 4 Star is a playa.

Ranger wonders why he doesn't cash-in on COIN, cheerleading for phony wars and faulty COIN doctrine. The fetti must be good.


Tom Ricks is too good of a journalist not to know the basic flaws with COIN policy, some of which have been delineated by former COIN advocate Col. Gian P. Gentile, a man now on Rick's hit list. Some of the fallacies accepted as bedrock strengths are:


  • ♥'s and Minds: It is erroneous to believe that either Afghan or Iraqi hearts and minds will be won by a foreign, Christian-based Western Army of Occupation. If any hearts and minds are won, they probably belong to the pimps and whores who are selling. What is the proof of hearts and minds won?
  • Low Intensity Conflict [LIC] and Terrorism as existential threats to the welfare of the United States: While these are viewed as central to U.S. Defense Policy, there is no proof that we are, as the Review states, "[in] an age in which global terrorism and small-scale conflicts, rather than a cold-war enemy like the former Soviet Union, define the threats to the United States."
Defense policy should be based upon reality versus ambiguous, poorly understood and often overblown threats. Neither AFPAK nor Iraq will ever be key U.S. allies, nor do they contribute to the welfare of the U.S. -- they are money pits and albatrosses attached to our body politic. COIN sounds good, but how does the American taxpayer footing the bill benefit from LIC/CT in AFPAK and Iraq?

The security of the U.S. is a different creature than the security of these far-flung nations. Threats to Karzai and the Iraqi leaders are not threats to the U.S. These people are not allies -- they are U.S. inventions.

LIC and CT are not threats, though they are interpreted as such by a military and political class desperate to justify their existence and place at the public money trough. Terrorism is the threat.
  • General Petraeus and followers emphasize "protecting the local population, rather than going after the insurgents," but what do you do when the insurgents are the population?
COIN has U.S. soldiers fighting and dying for foreign governments when there is no logical imperative for their sacrifice. COIN is an emotional construct, like "hope".
  • In addition, no one explains how the insurgents in AFPAK and Iraq are a threat to the welfare of the U.S. An insurgent threat to these nations is not necessarily a threat to America. Insurgents are not always terrorists, and vice versa.
  • Why does the U.S. have a right or obligation to impose its will upon failed or failing states.

U.S forces are placed in a position of fighting for foreign governments
when there is no logical imperative for their sacrifice. We win neither hearts and minds nor allies, and only an idiot would believe these countries would come to the aid of the U.S. in a pinch. When our dollars die, so too will their love and devotion. Allies are not pimps, nor are pimps allies.

The weakness of COIN is that it is a top-down imposition, while the insurgents are building a bottom-up approach to opposing a foreign-controlled puppet regime. COIN cannot succeed in impoverished environments where concepts of democracy are not explainable to a tribal existence-level society.


Democracy demands an educated middle class, something which has fled Iraq and is in short supply in Afghanistan. Democracy cannot be intubated. Just because COIN makes for pretty words in a manual does not make it realistic or achievable.


Bottom line:
It matters not who controls Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan -- the only thing that matters is that they not export terrorism, and COIN will not ensure that. The threat not CT, LIC or any other acronym -- the threat is terrorism.

The entire Phony War on Terror (
PWOT©) is based upon a hyperbolic global threat. The real threat is failed nations and power vacuums thus created, and U.S. policy in isolation cannot solve the problem via fancy manuals and COIN policy.

The problem must be confronted via multi-national United Nations action. COIN is simply an extension of U.S. exceptionalism and unilateralism, and as such is DOA.

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32 Comments:

Anonymous Andy said...

I don't get that sense from Rick's at all. He has been saying for at least a year now that the effects of the "surge" are only temporary and has written a series of posts called "Iraq the Unraveling" that discuss that. He doesn't think Iraq is, or is going to be, any great success. His dispute with Gentile is mostly about his portrayal of Gentile's unit in his books than anything else.

Friday, September 18, 2009 at 9:42:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

Andy,
Ricks was only the vehicle I hitched to in order to talk about COIN etc..
But if you look at Ricks and his association with Nagl et al it then seems awfully clear to me that he's tied his wagon to their star. Follow the money.
jim

Friday, September 18, 2009 at 11:09:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger FDChief said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

Friday, September 18, 2009 at 3:06:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger FDChief said...

Andy: I have to agree with Jim on this one: Ricks has rallied to the COINdinistas. The point isn't whether he thinks that Iraq is or isn't going to be a success or not - that bus has left the stop, isn't coming back, and the Shia are driving, now, anyway.

No, what he's doing is providing intellectual covering fire for the people who want us to ask the grand tactical question "How do we defeat an armed rebellion in Afghanistan" rather than the strategic/geopolitical question "Is it in our national interest to tie ourselves to one faction or another in a marginally-failed foreign "country", the political control of which may or may not be of any real value?"

Mark Bowden has followed a pretty similar path, from a guy who acted like a genuine journalist - i.e., asked the hard questions and talked about the Big Picture - in Mogadishu to where he is today, flogging his literary log to central Asian war porn.

It's these guys very status as "skeptics" that give them the power to change minds about the very things they no longer appear to be skeptical about.

Friday, September 18, 2009 at 3:08:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Andy said...

Ranger,

When is/was Rick's tied to Nagl? He was, of course, when writing his books on Iraq, but now?

Chief,

He called the surge a "tactical success and a strategic failure" when the Coindinistas were claiming the surge saved Iraq. I don't see that he ever bought into their narrative that COIN tactics turned into strategic success - quite the opposite. That doesn't sound like much of an endorsement to me.

I would like to see some evidence that Rick's has "rallied to the Coindinistas" WRT Afghanistan or even Iraq. He has not, so far as I know, endorsed the Coindinista/Obama strategy on Afghanistan, nor any strategy (please point me if I missed something). If your criticism is that he has not taken a position, particularly one you and I would favor, then that is probably a valid criticism, but it's also quite different from what you're saying.

Friday, September 18, 2009 at 4:39:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger FDChief said...

Andy: Ricks has pretty much been over the fence with the COIN sheep since this past winter, but, OK, here goes.

I googled "Tom Ricks Afghanistan" and the very first return I got was a link to this article "A Good Plan For Afghanistan" in Foreign Policy back in March: http://ricks.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2009/03/13/the_way_forward_in_afghanistan

In his snip of an article he cites this memo (http://www.sarahchayes.net/images/Afghanistan_policy_action_plan_0109.pdf) by Sarah Chayes that is pretty much right down the page what Jim is talking about; "good governance", mentoring, nation-building, the whole nine yards.

Here he is again, this time in September (http://ricks.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2009/09/04/the_big_problem_in_afghanistan) citing an article by David Wood about the SITREP in the 'Stan. I find it revealing that in the very first paragraph of the Wood piece he quotes there;s this: "What happened next illustrates why the U.S. war effort in Afghanistan is failing, why commanders here are asking for more manpower -- and why they are pleading for more time."

Now me, I'd have probably have found some other way to describe the problems of the ANP than by dragging in a "tall cavalry officer with sandy hair" (what the fuck is this, "She Wore A Yellow Ribbon"?) but to tie these things together - why the Afghan War is in the crapper, why the theatre commander is begging for more troops and more time - is a classic sort of false equivalency. There are a LOT of reasons why the Talibs are making headway in the 'Stan - some having to do with foreign troops, but a lot not. And there are reasons that the theatre commanders want more bodies, but not all of them will have any effect on whether the Afghan War "fails" or not.

Nope. I'll stand by my statement that Ricks is not doing his job anymore. He's not asking the right questions. He's become a player rather than a reporter, and that's one thing we DON'T need...

Saturday, September 19, 2009 at 8:09:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous Andy said...

Good comment Chief, thanks.

Saturday, September 19, 2009 at 8:43:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

Andy,
Please google Center for New American Security and the association matrixes reflected in this little cluster of PLAYERS.
They're riding the gravy train.
jim

Saturday, September 19, 2009 at 9:58:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Publius said...

I agree with Ranger and FDChief about Ricks. Really a shame, too, because he's a talented guy. Yes, he's calling it accurately WRT Iraq, but he's bought into the CNAS party line big time when it comes to Afghanistan. IMO, if you believe the U.S. should squander untold billions of $$, who knows how many lives and further unravel the already precarious state of our ground forces, then by all means listen to Tom Ricks.

Ricks forfeited any claim to journalistic integrity or respect when he joined up with the pack of dilletantes at CNAS. He's taken sides and, as noted, become a player. How can one trust anything he writes? It's all about the agenda, man.

Ranger, I've encouraged you to post on the Abu Muqawama web site on several occasions. I know your thoughts, but I wish you'd reconsider. I've been lurking around there for some time—in fact, maybe neglecting my own blog—lending support as I can to Gentile, who needs all the help he can get in that den of thieves. It's not that I think you'd change any minds at CNAS, but the fact is that blog attracts a lot of people, many of whom don't know much. Those people need to hear some experienced voices in opposition.

Same goes for FDChief, Andy, Minstrel Boy, etc. Those people need as much reality as we can give them.

BTW, Ranger, after your response to Andy, I actually took the time to read the bios of those CNAS people. Pretty thin, IMO. Unfortunately, they've got a real toehold in our government, which it makes it all the more important to give counterveiling opinions whenever possible.

It's no wonder our government is so fucked up. To think that national security policy people listen to CNAS.

Saturday, September 19, 2009 at 4:03:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Andy said...

Publius,

You do great work over at Exum's blog. I should post there more as well. Exum has definitely drunk the koolaid over the last year and his ignorance of Afghanistan continues to be pretty astounding (despite deploying there when he was active duty and then again as part of Gen. McCrystal's brain trust).

That's really a huge problem in the "Afghanistan" debate, IMO - there are very, very few who have any real depth of knowledge. A lot of "thinkers" who've turned their gaze from Iraq to Afghanistan have no real concept of the differences and, like Exum, they fall back on the doctrine which they believe worked in Iraq.

Quite sad. Personally, I pretty much endorse Col. Lang's approach. We shouldn't abandon Afghanistan (that didn't work out too well last time), but we can do more with a lot less IMO.

On CNAS, I had forgotten Nagl was the #1 over there now. Publius, I think the reason why the roster looks so thin is because most of them are replacements - the principles are now in the administration.

As for Ricks, OK, you guys changed my mind.

Saturday, September 19, 2009 at 10:20:00 PM GMT-5  
OpenID rudekitty said...

So let me get this straight. The security of the United States of America, a nation separated from Afghanistan and Iraq by two very wide oceans, is dependent upon propping up two dictators with American lives because... uhm... why? This makes as much sense as a singing fish on a plaque. Afghanistan, a land-locked nation, threatens the USA with what navy? A hairball has more logic to it!

Sunday, September 20, 2009 at 1:46:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

Andy,
You weren't addressing me but I'll answer anyway. Ref your cmt to Publius ref. Lang/abandoning AFGH.
-We can't abandon that which is not ours/never was and never will be. Get real .
-We had the same stuff thrown at us ref. RVN. If you notice those very same nasty commie fuckers are now important trade partners. Why did we even bother to fight them?
Extend this thought to AFGH/IRQ.
-When did we become the New World Police?
-There is so much bull shit put out by old soldiers that I fear drowning in it. I make sure that mine will flow into a septic tank.That flowing from young soldiers is even worse.
-If AFGH is a problem then let the world solve it-not Nato , not US.This is a legit function of the UN, but they are more reality based than US policy makers and they know a turd when they see one.

I like Publius's work also but at AM he's talking to O3 mentalities and sensitivities. Do those AM critters even know about echelons above corps or even the spectrum of warfare. Where do these ass holes come from?

As for Ricks,my article was not a personal attack but rather simply a teaching point. All the major news sources have done exactly as Ricks and we let them slide. Most war commentary is op ed posing as reporting. They don't even bother putting this junk on the oped pages anymore. Opinion is not news and policy is not based on opinions, or it shouldn't be.

jim

Sunday, September 20, 2009 at 11:17:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

Chief,
I'd like to add to your thought. "How do we defeat an armed rebellion in Afghanistan"
What all the coiners miss is that the rebellion is not aimed at America but at a corrupt Quisling gov't. This is not our fight.
jim

Sunday, September 20, 2009 at 11:20:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Terrible said...

Hows that saying about an opinion being dependent on who's writing your paycheck go?

Sunday, September 20, 2009 at 11:28:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

Terrible,
In the INFY tactics are defined as the opinion of the senior man present.
jim

Sunday, September 20, 2009 at 11:35:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

Terrible,
Let me address the deeper issue.
We are taught logi/math/social studies and then study the arts and practices of war. We are taught to be factually aware and scientifically thoughtful and then we forget everything we learned because we get emotional. Opinions are emotional and none of the COIN opinions are reality based, but rather rehash of garbage thinking.
We say that Petraeus and Obama are smart but I increasingly doubt this assertion.
jim

Sunday, September 20, 2009 at 11:50:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous Andy said...

Jim,

You misunderstand what I mean about abandonment. What I mean is that we do not repeat what we did under Bush the elder and Clinton which pulled everything out, including our intel. Clinton did not even have an Afghanistan policy his first term, nor anyone at State even following events there. We pissed away everything of value we built up during the fight against the Soviets which came back to bit us in the ass later when we suddenly needed contacts, intel and people to help us do dirty work.

We don't, IMO, want to repeat that mistake. That doesn't mean we need to keep 70k troops there indefinitely. It's not an either-or question, IMO.

If AFGH is a problem then let the world solve it-not Nato , not US.This is a legit function of the UN, but they are more reality based than US policy makers and they know a turd when they see one.

Disagree with you 100% there. The UN is probably the worst example of leadership by committee. The UN can't even agree on anything of substance, and even if it did it has zero independent power or authority.

Monday, September 21, 2009 at 5:57:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger FDChief said...

Andy: I'd go WAY further than that. It's not a question of whether or not we "keep 70K troops there indefinitely"; it's a question of whether we should have 70K troopers there AT ALL.

The lesson we should have learned from Vietnam was that if you have the asses in the grass you will own the war. When we flooded the country with US maneuver units the ARVN lost both control of the war and any reason to try and regain it. Marvin became a joke to most of our guys and by the time we whipped the rug out from under his ass in 1975 he mostly was.

Now the Viets are some of the fightingest people...well, outside the central Asian massif. How do you take a bunch of tigers and turn them into pussies?

Well, you;

1. Make your army of foreigners the main force fighting against the other side in their civil war. Then you

2. Ensure that you train them to fight as much like you as possible without even trying to figure out whether this is the best way for THEM to fight. You ensure that

3. You support every aspect of their "government" blindly and with as much jack as possible, ensuring that its corruption, venality and poor leadership is as egregious as it can be, and then

4. You devastate the fuck out of its countryside from land and air, ensuring that the surviving locals hate both you and the "government" you support.

Then you grab a hat (because you're tired of the pointless fighting) and they fold.

Every single line trooper we put into Afghanistan is another nail in the Kabul government's coffin.

We've been there over seven years now. If the Afghan "Army" can't win now, 70,000 GIs and 70,000 years from now they still won't fucking win. This isn't the Battle of the freaking Bulge they're fighting; they have to outfight a gang of similarly-armed, similarly illiterate tribesmen. If they can't - or won't - do that, all the Marines in Parris Island can't change that.

Nope. The solution here IMO is what every smart imperialist has always done in the 'Stan; you huck a couple of thousand highly motivated but expendable mercenaries to "train" and lead your Afghan Ever-Victorious Army at Kabul, you ensure that the Paimirs are crawling with your spies, case officers, confidential agents, bribe-passers and provocateurs, and then you blue the place with cash to buy the enemy of your enemy.

The thing will be a chaotic, tribal shithole, same as it has been for 1,000 years. The notion that 70,000 - or 700,000 - foreign soldiers can do more than rule the ground they stand on for as long as they stand on it is an arrogant fiction. We could, if we wanted to commit 700,000 troops, rule the place. To what end? If we want to rule a chaotic, tribal, drug-riddled, Late Iron Age shithole there's always Detroit.

My issue with the entire COIN is that it assumes a "government" of a "nation" that countering the insurgents can stabilize. That's not Afghanistan and never has been. It's like those recipes for bear tartare that start "Once you've caught your bear..."

Monday, September 21, 2009 at 11:35:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger FDChief said...

And pat, like the devil in pantomime, comes Ann Jones (http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175116):

"Their American trainers spoke of "upper body strength deficiency" and prescribed pushups because their trainees buckle under the backpacks filled with 50 pounds of equipment and ammo they are expected to carry. All this material must seem absurd to men whose fathers and brothers, wearing only the old cotton shirts and baggy pants of everyday life and carrying battered Russian Kalashnikov rifles, defeated the Red Army two decades ago. American trainers marvel that, freed from heavy equipment and uniforms, Afghan soldiers can run through the mountains all day -- as the Taliban guerrillas in fact do with great effect -- but the U.S. military is determined to train them for another style of war."

Jones has a hell of an axe to grind, and I think she's too pessimistic about the possibility of coming up with some sort of Afghan Khyber Rifles - the Brits did a pretty decent job - but her sense of the futility of trying to turn coyotes into police dogs is pretty accurate.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009 at 12:18:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...

FDChief,

A tour de force of a reply. To choose only part:

"If we want to rule a chaotic, tribal, drug-riddled, Late Iron Age shithole there's always Detroit."

Amen.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009 at 10:28:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

Chief,
As always your comments are better than the art. to which you reply.
Thanks, i always need the supporting fires.
jim

Tuesday, September 22, 2009 at 10:56:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

Andy,
The reason that we didn't have an AFGH policy is b/c we didn't need one. Who gives a plugged nickle for this shithole?
We are not in AFGH for the Afgh's but rather to destroy AQ. The 2 are different and distinct events and concepts.
If we don't believe in the UN then let's get out of it! I have more faith in the UN than I do in US policy; which means my faith in America is very near zero.
I however respect your viewpoint which is what this is all about. Thanks for writing.
jim

Tuesday, September 22, 2009 at 11:04:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous JuniorAG said...

"The problem must be confronted via multi-national United Nations action."

You really believe in that multi-national bureaucracy?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009 at 1:32:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

Junior AG,
I'll believe in anything to include the tooth fairy to avoid a war.
If we don't believe in multi lateralism and the use of the UN then we should exit stage left.
I do know that i don't believe in US war policies.
jim

Tuesday, September 22, 2009 at 1:38:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Andy said...

Chief,

I don't think we have a lot of disagreement over fundamentals. As I said before, I pretty much endorse Col. Lang's COA.

Jim,

You have to have some kind of policy to justify expending any amount of resources no matter what the country, even if those resources are limited. The reason we need an Afghan policy and the reason we needed one back in the early 1990's is to maintain the ability to influence events or take whatever diplomatic, intelligence, covert or other action might be necessary. If we hadn't thrown the baby out with the bathwater in the early 1990's there might not have been a 9/11 and a PWOT to begin with. Our efforts at taking out AQ were materially impacted by ignoring Afghanistan for over 4 years and our extensive diplomatic efforts with the Taliban went nowhere. An ounce of prevention and all that.

As usual, thanks for a thoughtful and respectful discussion. We may not always agree, but you've always got something valuable to say.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009 at 10:04:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gotta throw in the same old same old from my Granddaddy:
"Son, when you're on the wrong train, every station you come to is the wrong station."

The old man/poet Robert Bly said it thusly, years ago: "We go to war as if anointing ourselves."

What was it the VietVet Forrest Gump said?:
"Stupid is as stupid does."

Dude had been living overseas for 7 years recently returned to the USSA:
"Man, what happened while I was gone? It appears the whole country has been sprinkled with dumb-dust."

Another set of fools trying to hustle the East.
"What we have here, Luke, is a failure to communicate."

As the old cartoon used to put it, parodying Steve Canyon, if you old heads remember:

"Steve, what don't you and your boys just get the fuck out of Vietnam/Salvador/Nicaragua/Granada/
Somalia/Haiti/Iraq/Afghanistan/Colombia/the United States, __________, ___________?"

Sadly, but true, as the Bard Robert Zimmerman once remarked (can't really call it "singing",
can we?): "Man got a knife/gotta cut somebody."

"How are we going to get out of Vietnam, Senator?"
It's easy, marine. Just leave all your shit on the ground and get on the plane."

Same-same but-different, que no?

There it is ,

Deryle

Wednesday, September 23, 2009 at 9:12:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

Deryl,
It'd be real nice IF the train were on the track and had a conductor. I'm envious, my Grandfather never spoke English.
jim

Wednesday, September 23, 2009 at 11:45:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...

Deryle,

Granddad said it in a nutshell.

Re. your friend's observation on the dumminess of the U.S.: Some one's got to take over the controls. I'm afraid economically we may be facing a true crash withing the next few years, then it will be all of our foreign mortgagers who will apply the brakes in terns of draconian repayment plans.

We have behaved like children in need of some adult supervision.

Our comeuppance is long overdue.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009 at 11:53:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

Andy,
The problem of Terrorism is one of interpretation.
I view the problems in AFGH/PAK et al beginning in 1946 or maybe 1922. But let's go short-my lifetime and experience.The problem is not AFGH, it's only a symptom.
The real deal started in 79 when Carter allowed the Iranians to take long term hostages- this set the stage. The 83 Beirut thing was frosting on the cake. Now throw in AFGH and the myth that they defeated the Soviets when actually US support to include Stingers did the dirty deed.
The Taliban never had a external goal to export Terror- that baby was a AQ offspring. All the Talib did was provide safe haven and at that they seemed very lukewarm on AQ goals. All they wanted was their own little hog wallow.
I'm sorry but after all the years I still cannot see anything of significance in AFGH. It's a meaningless shit hole-pure and simple. If a great nations welfare hinges on shit holes then we are always gonna stay covered in shit, and if not we'll always smell that way.
In reality they need us more than we need them, we can survive with limited oil production but they can't feed their people.
That's how i'd play it.
jim

Wednesday, September 23, 2009 at 12:07:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Andy said...

Jim,

Actually, Gorbachev had decided to withdrawal from Afghanistan before US Stingers arrived in the fall of 1986, though I agree that US (and Saudi) money and arms played a critical role in bringing about that decision.

On the Taliban I agree they have local goals and not worldwide goals (unlike AQ). I've also pointed out before that we engaged the Taliban in a significant diplomatic effort to get them to end their support for AQ - something they did not or could not do. The real reasons they rebuffed our offers of assistance, legitimacy and recognition are not clear, but rebuff them they did. They said they had control of AQ and that it would be impossible for them to conduct any attacks. Obviously that turned out to be either mistaken or a lie.

I don't care much about the Taliban one way or another, but I do care if the decide to continue a policy of enabling AQ to carry out its vision of global jihad against the US. Whether they intend to do so or not remains to be seen.

Thursday, September 24, 2009 at 11:23:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

Andy,
I've read directly conflicting reports on the Talib/AQ linkages in AFGH. concerning the willingness to turn them over to the US. One should factor in the Pak/ISI when addressing this issue.

What do we actually know about the World wide AQ threat? Show me the beef. All we get is fearful statements full of hyperbole.
jim

Thursday, September 24, 2009 at 11:36:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

Andy,
In the Reagan years the official policy was that all terrorism was directed by the KGB. I didn't accept that appraisal then and now i won't believe that AQ is ubiquitous.
Oh yeah, all of SEAsia will fall if we lose in VN.
IMHO we live national lies and transform them into erroneous policy.
jim

Thursday, September 24, 2009 at 11:43:00 AM GMT-5  

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