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View Full Version : ChiefsPlanet Andrew Sullivan: Gulliver in Afghanistan.


Direckshun
09-21-2009, 11:33 AM
Seriously, what the **** do we do now.

http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2009/09/gulliver-in-afghanistan.html

http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/.a/6a00d83451c45669e20120a5ddcabc970c-500wi

General McChrystal is to be congratulated, it seems to me, for the candor and seriousness of his report to the president on what has gone so wrong in Afghanistan and what can be done to set it right. McChrystal's role is to find a way to win: he's a soldier fighting a war. And yet this hardest of hard-nosed military men essentially concedes that this is a political problem at its heart. You cannot fight a counter-insurgency on behalf of a government that is as corrupt as Karzai's. And you cannot fight a counter-insurgency without vast numbers of troops to protect a population in an extremely remote and ungovernable region. And you cannot fight either without tackling the real source of the terror - in Pakistan.

So we are left with this dire set of alternatives. We either pack up and go home. Or we double-down for a couple of decades to try to stabilize Afghanistan and Pakistan, knowing that, even then, we cannot prevent any single Jihadist plot or attack coming from that region. The latest terror case reveals the threat:

What has troubled federal prosecutors and the F.B.I. is the belief that Mr. Zazi embodies what concerns them most: a Westernized militant, trained by Al Qaeda in Pakistan, whose experience and legal resident status in the United States give him the freedom to operate freely, yet attract little attention.

How would doubling down in Afghanistan affect this kind of activity?

From the Woodward leak:

While the insurgency is predominantly Afghan, McChrystal writes that it "is clearly supported from Pakistan. Senior leaders of the major Afghan insurgent groups are based in Pakistan, are linked with al Qaeda and other violent extremist groups, and are reportedly aided by some elements of Pakistan's ISI," which is its intelligence service. Al-Qaeda and other extremist movements "based in Pakistan channel foreign fighters, suicide bombers, and technical assistance into Afghanistan, and offer ideological motivation, training, and financial support."

Al Qaeda operates with impunity in Pakistan:

McChrystal identifies three main insurgent groups "in order of their threat to the mission" and provides significant details about their command structures and objectives. The first is the Quetta Shura Taliban (QST) headed by Mullah Omar, who fled Afghanistan after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and operates from the Pakistani city of Quetta. "At the operational level, the Quetta Shura conducts a formal campaign review each winter, after which Mullah Omar announces his guidance and intent for the coming year," according to the assessment.

How do you win a war when it is being led and conducted in a country you are not at war with?

It seems to me we are at another turning point in the road, and one of the few moments when American enmeshment in Afghanistan might be turned back. We have to weigh the chances of serious terror groups re-grouping and operating even more freely throughout Afghanistan and Pakistan against the risks of more money, more troops, more casualties and more blowback. And let's not fool ourselves: neither of these is a good option. That's the Bush legacy.

But if McChrystal is right, he is strategizing Afghanistan as a semi-permanent protectorate for the US. This is empire in the 21st century sense: occupying failed states indefinitely to prevent even more chaos spinning out of them. And it has the embedded logic of all empires: if it doesn't keep expanding, it will collapse. The logic of McChrystal is that the US should be occupying Pakistan as well. And Somalia. And anywhere al Qaeda make seek refuge.

In the end, Gulliver cannot move. And his pockets are empty. Whom does that deter?

patteeu
09-21-2009, 11:43 AM
How do you win a war when it is being led and conducted in a country you are not at war with?

It seems to me we are at another turning point in the road, and one of the few moments when American enmeshment in Afghanistan might be turned back. We have to weigh the chances of serious terror groups re-grouping and operating even more freely throughout Afghanistan and Pakistan against the risks of more money, more troops, more casualties and more blowback. And let's not fool ourselves: neither of these is a good option. That's the Bush legacy.

But if McChrystal is right, he is strategizing Afghanistan as a semi-permanent protectorate for the US. This is empire in the 21st century sense: occupying failed states indefinitely to prevent even more chaos spinning out of them. And it has the embedded logic of all empires: if it doesn't keep expanding, it will collapse. The logic of McChrystal is that the US should be occupying Pakistan as well. And Somalia. And anywhere al Qaeda make seek refuge.

In the end, Gulliver cannot move. And his pockets are empty. Whom does that deter?

Don't try to blame this on Bush, Direckshun. This is Obama's war now. It's the good war, remember?

Elect me and I'll just send a few more troops over there and sort this out lickety split! - Obama, Campaign 2008 (paraphrased)

Taco John
09-21-2009, 11:46 AM
Thanks for Vietnam II, George W. Bush.

Taco John
09-21-2009, 11:47 AM
Or is it III by now?

BucEyedPea
09-21-2009, 11:59 AM
Vietnam IV if you count the Balkans. Next stop former soviet republics and Africa....afterall we're making over the world so there will never be another war because all these pre-emptive ones are putting them under one power.

patteeu
09-21-2009, 12:02 PM
We're about to find out whether Obama has more LBJ/McNamara/Nixon in him or more Bush/Rumsfeld/Cheney. Or maybe he'll just take a page from 1940-era Philippe Pétain.

ROYC75
09-21-2009, 12:47 PM
Bottom line is you can't win in Afghanistan unless you wipe out the whole country and 1/2 of Pakistan. The Soviet Union found out so since this isn't going to happen ( blowing up the country ) , basically, we are doomed while we are there.

Direckshun
09-21-2009, 01:04 PM
So I'm asking everybody here, what the fuck do we do now?

Pat? TJ? ROYC75? What do we do now?

Iowanian
09-21-2009, 01:04 PM
Don't worry, Obama is going to fulfill his campaign promise and go over to the Cave in which Bin Laden resides in Pakistan and pull him out by the whiskers.

Direckshun
09-21-2009, 01:08 PM
Don't try to blame this on Bush, Direckshun.

A large part of this is on Bush -- he passed off this underfunded, undermanned quagmire to his successor and diverted most of his resources to an unjustified war two houses over.

A large part of it is on Pakistan, for being so single-mindedly focused on India to appease their constituents, they're willing to live with Al Qaeda in the tribal regions.

A large part of it is on Afghanistan in general for being an ungovernable place to be.

Whatever move Obama makes next needs to be very, very aggressive. My first priority would be drastically cutting any funding to Pakistan in hopes that to earn it back, they will defend their west flank. I'd also be willing to send in more troops. But I know at least a couple in this thread would like to just see us leave.

Bill Parcells
09-21-2009, 01:09 PM
So I'm asking everybody here, what the **** do we do now?

Pat? TJ? ROYC75? What do we do now?

Obama said he was gonna go after Al Qaeda? what happened? I thought he said it would be easy? lol..it's all Bush's fault..great leadership! just point the finger! what a leader!

dirk digler
09-21-2009, 01:09 PM
So I'm asking everybody here, what the fuck do we do now?

Pat? TJ? ROYC75? What do we do now?

My position all along was I would tell Pakistan they have x number of days to get to work or we are going to come do it for them.

And yes I would add more troops as the General has suggested.

Direckshun
09-21-2009, 01:09 PM
Don't worry, Obama is going to fulfill his campaign promise and go over to the Cave in which Bin Laden resides in Pakistan and pull him out by the whiskers.

What do we do now, Iowanian?

Iowanian
09-21-2009, 01:09 PM
use bigger bombs.

Direckshun
09-21-2009, 01:10 PM
My position all along was I would tell Pakistan they have x number of days to get to work or we are going to come do it for them.

And yes I would add more troops as the General has suggested.

So you'd invade Pakistan.

Iowanian
09-21-2009, 01:11 PM
I'd bomb the shit out of the parts of Pakistan we KNOW are causing trouble.


I'd suggest Pakistan be quiet about it, or we take the chains off of India.

dirk digler
09-21-2009, 01:13 PM
So you'd invade Pakistan.

Yep. It is not like we don't run Spec Ops over there already though.

I'd bomb the shit out of the parts of Pakistan we KNOW are causing trouble.


I'd suggest Pakistan be quiet about it, or we take the chains off of India.

Yep

ROYC75
09-21-2009, 01:14 PM
There is only 2 options, 1 go in, take over and take out the trash or pull out and suffer the consequences.

Taco John
09-21-2009, 01:15 PM
So I'm asking everybody here, what the **** do we do now?

Pat? TJ? ROYC75? What do we do now?


Issue letters of Marque for terrorists who we'd like bounty on, and quit wasting money trying to reform the world in our own image.

Direckshun
09-21-2009, 01:17 PM
Issue letters of Marque for terrorists who we'd like bounty on, and quit wasting money trying to reform the world in our own image.

You understand we currently offer $25 million already for Osama's head?

Taco John
09-21-2009, 01:18 PM
You understand we currently offer $25 million already for Osama's head?


And we spend about a hundred times more than that each week not having it.

Taco John
09-21-2009, 01:19 PM
Also, letters of Marque are markedly different than offering a bounty. Offering a bounty without congressional letters of Marque is pretty pointless.

Direckshun
09-21-2009, 01:24 PM
Also, letters of Marque are markedly different than offering a bounty. Offering a bounty without congressional letters of Marque is pretty pointless.

Hmm. What's the difference?

patteeu
09-21-2009, 01:54 PM
A large part of this is on Bush -- he passed off this underfunded, undermanned quagmire to his successor and diverted most of his resources to an unjustified war two houses over.

I disagree almost completely. The question wrt Bush is whether or not his approach was reasonable at the time. He isn't to blame for what Obama does now.

Is it Bush's fault that when he bent over backward to take a multilateral approach to Afghanistan, many if not most of our allies dropped their balls? - Maybe it is partly his fault to the extent that he may have been responding to the go-it-alone criticisms of his foreign policy, but the people who were making those criticisms have no room to point fingers.
Was Bush's decision to minimize the US footprint in Afghanistan in order to avoid antagonizing the Afghans with what might appear to be the second coming of the Soviet occupation the wrong one? Well, it didn't succeed, but it's not clear that a larger footprint would have succeeded either. His go-small approach succeeded beyond most people's wildest dreams in driving the Taliban out initially and giving the Afghan warlords of the Northern alliance and friendly Pashtuns the chance to take control of their country without Taliban domination. Should it have been obvious to Bush that they wouldn't take advantage of that opportunity?
Was the Bush/Allied effort to train up an Afghan army and an Afghan police force the wrong approach at the time? We again come back to some degree to failures of our allies on this one (as it was mostly allied responsibility to build these forces), but most of all we find that the Afghan people have failed.


A large part of it is on Pakistan, for being so single-mindedly focused on India to appease their constituents, they're willing to live with Al Qaeda in the tribal regions.

A large part of it is on Afghanistan in general for being an ungovernable place to be.

Whatever move Obama makes next needs to be very, very aggressive. My first priority would be drastically cutting any funding to Pakistan in hopes that to earn it back, they will defend their west flank. I'd also be willing to send in more troops. But I know at least a couple in this thread would like to just see us leave.

The only counter-insurgency strategy that makes any sense to me is the one that uses an Afghan army for the bulk of it's manpower. If this can't be accomplished, then we need to take a different approach. The alternative approach I'd take would be to forget about escalating our troops and just change our mission in the region from nation-building/counter-insurgency/population-protection to force-protection/intel-gathering/target-neutralization (including across the border into Pakistan). Support the Afghan warlords that are friendly to us and cut off those who are not. [This is pretty similar to BigRedChief's position, I think.] We'd need to make it clear who our enemies in the region are and go after those people aggressively without worrying too much about Afghan/Pakistan public opinion polls.

Taco John
09-21-2009, 03:19 PM
Hmm. What's the difference?

Maybe I'll just say "it's complicated" and consider my work here done.

Taco John
09-21-2009, 03:21 PM
Here's the wiki entry on the letters of marque to those interested.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Letter_of_marque

Direckshun
09-21-2009, 03:22 PM
Maybe I'll just say "it's complicated" and consider my work here done.

Well that was predictable.

Here's the wiki entry on the letters of marque to those interested.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Letter_of_marque

Thanks.

modocsot
09-22-2009, 08:39 AM
Am I the only one with a problem with modern media's need to publicly release information of NATIONAL SECURITY? Woodward crossed the line, IMO. We have thousands of men and women over there putting their lives on the line for self-centered POS's like Woodward.

patteeu
09-22-2009, 08:53 AM
Am I the only one with a problem with modern media's need to publicly release information of NATIONAL SECURITY? Woodward crossed the line, IMO. We have thousands of men and women over there putting their lives on the line for self-centered POS's like Woodward.

You're not the only one. While it isn't acceptable, this one is mild compared to the things the NYTimes has exposed over the past 6 years or so.

KCWolfman
09-22-2009, 09:11 AM
No Exit Plan
Record Number of Troops Killed
Ignoring his own Leaders in the Country


Sound Familiar?

***SPRAYER
09-22-2009, 09:13 AM
Well, during the campaign, B.O. indicated he would have no problem going into Pakistan to get Al Qaeda and Taliban forces.

I guess he was lying about that, too.

dirk digler
09-22-2009, 09:19 AM
Well, during the campaign, B.O. indicated he would have no problem going into Pakistan to get Al Qaeda and Taliban forces.

I guess he was lying about that, too.

:spock: We have been in Pakistan. We had at least a half-dozen Predator strikes. I am pretty sure there is Spec-ops operating over there as well.

***SPRAYER
09-22-2009, 09:20 AM
:spock: We have been in Pakistan. We had at least a half-dozen Predator strikes. I am pretty sure there is Spec-ops operating over there as well.

Riiiiiiiiight thats why things are going so well.

patteeu
09-22-2009, 11:01 AM
Contrary to what Direckshun tried to suggest earlier in this thread, Afghanistan can no longer be laid at the feet of George W. Bush. This is entirely Obama's war. Last March (http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/Remarks-by-the-President-on-a-New-Strategy-for-Afghanistan-and-Pakistan/), our feckless leader announced that he had performed a "careful policy review" and come up with "a comprehensive, new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan". This is the strategy that is currently failing, not George W. Bush's old strategy. And then he challenged the terrorists to bring it on, albeit in his own words.

And to the terrorists who oppose us, my message is the same: We will defeat you.

We'll see about that. After observing his foreign policy for 9 months now, he doesn't inspire much confidence, that's for sure. In the eyes of the world, Obama = weakness.

KCWolfman
09-22-2009, 11:07 AM
Contrary to what Direckshun tried to suggest earlier in this thread, Afghanistan can no longer be laid at the feet of George W. Bush. This is entirely Obama's war. Last March (http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/Remarks-by-the-President-on-a-New-Strategy-for-Afghanistan-and-Pakistan/), our feckless leader announced that he had performed a "careful policy review" and come up with "a comprehensive, new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan". This is the strategy that is currently failing, not George W. Bush's old strategy. And then he challenged the terrorists to bring it on, albeit in his own words.



We'll see about that. After observing his foreign policy for 9 months now, he doesn't inspire much confidence, that's for sure. In the eyes of the world, Obama = weakness.

p - Good to see you as well.

And, yup, the POTUS has been giving concessions left and right and gained absolutely nothing in return for almost a year now.