Comment On: Afghanistan: A Whole New Approach

Comment on: Afghanistan: A Whole New Approach

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There’s a nice Willie Nelson song that includes the lines — “walking is better than running away/ and crawling ain’t no good at all.”

The ignominious departure from Afghanistan of almost every colonial power has had a remarkable result. The Afghan people have survived. They never wanted the interlopers.

Throughout AfPak the chorus is succinct, Leave.

If one is to “do” development, one might wish to reexamine the philanthropic underpinnings of the current model. Who is served by our philanthropy? If one analyzes the results of our capitalist­/philanthr­opic endeavors, the conclusion might well be that we participate in a form of benign genocide.  Things are structured so that the ironic utterance of Jesus that the poor are always with us is ever the case.

However, back to Willie. We need to walk out of there. Not run away. Not fight on.

We have a crisis right here. Solving it will do more for the rest of the world than any effort we might make to “do” development in the provinces of Afghanistan. Our project is weaning ourselves from an economy of abundance to one of sustainability. No small part of our flirtation with continued colonial adventure may be our fear of facing such music.


Comment On: Why Joe Biden Should Resign

Biden will not resign. He is being loyal. This post will raise the issue. Fine. But his resigning would be the worst thing of all.

Read the Article at HuffingtonPost


Using Money To Make Peace — Toward A New Kind of Warfare

OK, laugh.

But we are pouring lives and billions down the drain all over the world and money could accomplish a whole lot more with less expense and fewer (or even no) lost lives.

I’m serious. Dig this.

In Pakistan they figure if they more than double certain sorts of aid (the kind that educates people not to be terrorists) it becomes economically viable for corrupt officials to gravitate to our side. Yes, I am talking bribery. Carrots. The point is, it is cheaper than making weapons and training soldiers to become targets. And I bet it accomplishes more.

I propose a contest.

Try using money for a month to do what you want to get done militarily. Compare the costs. I will bet you that a million spread here and there, say to build a needed bridge or purchase 100 donkeys or buy some seeds, will outperform a bunch of soldiers with guns every time. You get what you want on the cheap.

I am not saying disband the service. I am saying have a fair contest. If money (aka smart bribery, aka targeted help) works better than ammo and soldiers, then turn the soldiers into smart bribers. It’s that simple.

Money has worked forever to buy peace, i just has not penetrated the military mind or, for that matter, the political mind. If we can bail out a bunch of Wall Street good for nothings with billions, we can surely risk this experiment.

Face it, you will do the same thing I am proposing anyway. The only problem is you will combine it with military stuff and that will more than cancel out the positive effects. You will say you are doing the money thing, but you will be cutting off your nose to spite your face.

Get the hell out of AfPak militarily. Stop playing that this is a war. It is a slow suicide mission. Every military thing you do strengthens the will of a proud and stubborn people. How smart do you need to be to figure that out?


Go the cash route. Cash with strings. Cash with observers — soldiers who are learning to function in some other way than as killers and targets. I am not saying do not defend against the Taliban. Sure, set up a perimeter that is clearly not part of an offensive maneuver. Or begin to withdraw to the point that it will be obvious that you do not intend to fight.

President Obama is very wrong on one single point. (I never say such things. You read this and forget it.) He is wrong in saying that the only way we can stop Al Qaeda is by doing what we are doing, wasting millions of dollars and daily lives on a pipe dream. The way to stop Osama and Company is with a combination or ridicule and proportional retaliation for any actual attacks.

For example, if Osama, or whoever is in charge, launches a killing attack somewhere, do something bad enough in the area where the planning is going on so that they will think twice about their strategy. No one is going to fault a proportional response. A teargas in the caves sort of thing.

What we have now is not proportional. It is silly.

We need to unite geeks and soldiers and play this like a non-lethal war game. Money has a value. It can be used to achieve lots of things. We are pouring it down a bottomless drain if we think we can win AfPak without going through a major attitude adjustment.


How About Afpak Flu?

I will keep on using this miniscule platform to yell about the collapse of things in Pakistan and warn of incipient dangers in Afpak to make the following points:

We are risking turning Pakistan over to a rogue Taliban leadsrship that will have no hesitation in precipitating a nuclear incident of unpredictable and highly dangerous character.

We are proving by actual experience that it is fruitless to believe we can conduct anything like a ground war in Afghanistan.

We are proving by the slavish attention to swine flu by US media that we have no capacity in the US to conduct anything approaching a rational approach to events in the world.


To be fair, the New York Times did lead with an editorial today regarding last week’s near takeover 60 miles from Islamabad. SOURCE

We are counting down in Pakistan and no one is really listening.


Pakistan News, Anyone?

NOTE: I’ll be Tweeting Pakistan news through the day. See the sidebar or go to my Twitter Profile.

If there was trouble in Pakistan, you would not know it to peruse US media today. At least so far, it is preocccupied with a Craigslist killer and a singing competition in the British Isles.

Here are a few annotated links to try to compensate:

Additional Troops Deployed by US Along Afghan Pak Border KABUL: “Terror safe havens in Pakistan pose threat to the entire region, top commander of the coalition forces in Afghanistan said.

“General David McKiernan, the top commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, addressing a press conference here said the additional US troops in Afghanistan will be deployed along the border with Pakistan.” SOURCE

Situation dangerous in Pakistan: Holbrooke: “US special envoy for Pakistan and Afghanistan Richard Holbrooke warned on Sunday that no other place in the world today faced a more dangerous situation than Pakistan.” SOURCE

ISI Links With Baitullah Mehsud: “Several operations were launched by Pakistani security forces in the last couple of years to kill or capture Mehsud, who is also suspected to have hand in the assassination of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, the news magazine noted. But each time he vanished without incident.” SOURCE


Coming: New US Drone Attacks in Afpak?

While I append a question mark to my title, I have the same sense after hearing Fareed Zakaria’s GPS on CNN this evening that I had when, years back, I read the initial New York Times article paving the way for the invasion of Iraq.

It now seems that more persistent drone attacks to root out terrorist enclaves in the mountainous border territories between Afganistan and Pakistan will occur. With widespread acquiescence in Pakistan to the launch of such attacks.

So difficult is the situation in Pakistan, and so clearly is the country in danger of being reduced to anarchy and possible takeover by the terror axis, that the attitude seems to be — If the the US can get rid of the bad guys with minimal civilian casualties, let them do it.

I can see this unfolding, sooner than later, with every footstep the Taliban takes in the direction of extending its Swat Valley victory to populous Punjab. Destabilize Punjab — the country’s gone.

Would this draconian strategy, possibly confined to areas where persons were encouraged to evacuate in advance, and utilizing something as primitive but effective as tear gas, be seen as a viable way to proceed?

I can say only this: It is not unthinkable that a measured and targeted response could be promulgated and seen as preferable to doing nothing.

This does not address the current assault of the Taliban in Pakistan, but it might create attention on the main thing that President Bush ignored during his eight years of woeful mismanagement. Rooting out Al Qaeda.

The stakes are such that this solution must be seen in the context of doing nothing or not enough. These would include the possible domination of Pakistan by terrorists with access to nuclear weapons and the means of delivering them along with the likely imposition of the same conditions that the Taliban sought successfully to impose during its time of power in Afghanistan and which it now imposes in Swat Valley.

I guess the way to phrase this question is to ask whether we would, in retrospect, approve such an attack against Hitler the minute he moved on France.

Then too, there is the ultimate reality, which applies both to the on the ground terrorists and to those around the world who foment terror on the seas. Economic justice and the elimination of desperate poverty and scant opportunity is not a total cure, but it is vastly more important than punitive attacks, however necessary they may be. We cannot justify one without doing the other.


NATO Verdicts Are Not All In

The MSM is anxious to poke a hole in Obama’s armor and it would appear that the stingy initial response to his request for more NATO assistance in dealing with Afpak is a juicy target. But though headlines say Barack Obama fails to win NATO troops he wants for Afghanistan, the actual message is several paragraphs down:

Germany, Italy, Poland, Canada and Denmark said that they were considering their positions. After a meeting with Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, Mr Obama tried to apply further moral pressure. “I am sure that Germany, as one of the most important leaders in Europe, will be stepping up to the plate and helping us to get the job done.”

What will happen is that the US will shoulder the major responsibility to a point and prove out whether there can be any hope at all of achieving ongoing progress in Afpak. The others will either go down as slackards or they will step up to the plate.

The situation is very different now than it was when Mr. Bush was casting around for allies. And NATO leaders know it.