"Restore(s) a little sanity into current political debate" - Kenneth Minogue, TLS "Projects a more expansive and optimistic future for Americans than (the analysis of) Huntington" - James R. Kurth, National Interest "One of (the) most important books I have read in recent years" - Lexington Green
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Was just sent a review copy of American Spartan courtesy of Callie at Oettinger & Associates which tells the story of Major Jim Gant, the special forces officer and AfPak hand who pushed hard for a controversial strategy in Afghanistan based on arming and training loyalist paramilitaries out of Afghan tribesmen ( or whatever localist network would suffice when tribal identity was weak or absent). I am looking forward to reading this book for a number of reasons. Read the rest of this entry »
It was a thing that I noticed over the course of my own military service that generally American youth changed more radically between the age of 18 and 25 than at any other time of their life save that span between infant and kindergartner. Or at least, that portion of it that chooses to join the military does. Such people enlist and trundle off to boot camp and their first duty assignment – they are kids; impetuous, ruled by impulse and mad urges to indulge in all kinds of attractive bad things … but somehow over the course of that rocky journey, the largest portion grow into mature, focused and relatively well-adjusted adults. Serious obligations and sometimes life-threatening experiences – such as serving at the very pointy end of the spear that is America’s military – have that effect.
Among the blessing that is about biggest in my inventory of them – aside from finishing out my final military tour in Texas, which I didn’t much like at the time, since it was third on my list of choices. Dammit, the personnel who dictated broadcaster assignments were supposed to turn themselves inside out, giving retiring broadcasting personnel their first choice of a final assignment location since they could then do things like buy a house and work up local connections to facilitate the post-retirement second career which the customary long stretches of overseas/remote duty tours usually didn’t allow an opportunity to do. It turned out for the best, although I certainly didn’t see it so at the time. The main thing is that not only am I now glad that I am retired and long past being recalled to active duty (like they couldn’t get enough military broadcaster talent that they have to recall a slightly overweight lady of certain age) but I am glad that Blondie is also long past recall. And that she didn’t sign up for Reserve duty, either. Read the rest of this entry »
It has occurred to me that we have many books and papers outlining how to win wars. Certainly the great classics of The Art of War, The History of the Peloponnesian War and On War are the foremost examples, but there are also other useful classics in the strategic canon, whole libraries of military histories, memoirs of great commanders and an infinite number of PDFs and powerpoint briefs from think tanks and consultants. Strangely, none of these have helped us much. Perhaps it is because before running this war so few of this generation’s “deciders” read them en route to their law degrees and MBAs
We should engage in some counterintuitive thinking: for our next war, instead of trying to win, let’s try to openly seek defeat. At a minimum, we will be no worse off with that policy than we are now and if we happen to fail, we will actually be moving closer to victory.
HOW TO LOSE A WAR
While one of these principles may not be sufficient cause for losing an armed conflict, following all of them is the surest road to defeat. Read the rest of this entry »
Since October 2011, mosques have been off-limits to FBI agents. No more surveillance or undercover string[sic] operations without high-level approval from a special oversight body at the Justice Department dubbed the Sensitive Operations Review Committee.
Who makes up this body, and how do they decide requests? Nobody knows; the names of the chairman, members and staff are kept secret.
We do know the panel was set up under pressure from Islamist groups who complained about FBI stings at mosques. Just months before the panel’s formation, the Council on American-Islamic Relations teamed up with the ACLU to sue the FBI for allegedly violating the civil rights of Muslims in Los Angeles by hiring an undercover agent to infiltrate and monitor mosques there.
That makes sense. After all, all terrorists thus far have been fundamentalist Christians.
the RAND Corporation reports that the third North Korean nuclear test appears to many experts to be fundamentally different from its previous two efforts. North Korea’s first tests used plutonium to trigger the nuclear explosion. This one, according to some atmospheric tests, likely used highly enriched uranium, exactly the form of nuclear weapon pursued by Iran.
The report is not that positive about the weapon type.
Key aspects of North Korea’s third nuclear weapon test, carried out on Tuesday, remain unknown. We do not know whether it was a test of a plutonium or highly enriched uranium weapon, though many experts suspect the latter.
The report is hardly definitive but it would not be a surprise if Iran has pushed through to a success in its program, unencumbered by any serious US opposition. Still, there is some serious concern.
The question is whether the weapon North Korea tested this month was its own, Iran’s or a joint project. A senior U.S. official told The New York Times, “It’s very possible that the North Koreans are testing for two countries.” It would be foolish for Iran to test a nuclear weapon on its own soil. Nuclear weapons cannot be detonated in secret; they leave unique seismic markers that can be traced back to their source. An in-country test would simply confirm the existence of a program that for years Iran has denied.
If that were not enough:
Ralph Peters has some serious concerns about where the Obama administration is going.
Looking along to our right we saw a brave sight, the bravest possible — a body of cavalry charging. It was none other than the renowned Cavalry of the Guides, which by a wonderful effort had crossed the seemingly impassable nullah, and was now falling with dauntless fury on ten times their numbers of the enemy. They whirled past us, and we, cheering like mad, dashed after them.
Someone for reasons unknown last week leaked the classified Department of Justice “White Paper” on targeting with drone attacks the numerically tiny number of US citizens overseas who have joined al Qaida or affiliated groups. The leak set off an outburst of public debate, much of it ill-informed by people who did not bother to read the white paper and some of it intentionally misleading by those who had and, frankly, know better.
Generally, I’m a harsh critic of the Holder DOJ, but their white paper, though not without some minor flaws of reasoning and one point of policy, is – unlike some of the critics – solidly in compliance with the laws of war, broader questions of international law and the major SCOTUS decisions on war powers. It was a political error to classify this document in the first place rather than properly share it with the relevant Congressional committees conducting oversight
Here it is and I encourage you to read it for yourself:
Much of this white paper debate has been over a legitimate policy dispute (“Is it a good idea if we use drones to kill AQ terrorists, including American ones?”) intentionally being mischaracterized by opponents of the policy (or the war) as a legal or constitutional question. It is not. The law is fairly settled as is the question if the conflict with AQ rises to a state of armed conflict, which SCOTUS dealt with as recently as Hamdi and for which there are ample precedents from previous wars and prior SCOTUS decisions to build upon. At best, framed as a legal dispute, the opponents of the drone policy would have a very long uphill climb with the Supreme Court. So why do it? Read the rest of this entry »
At this time it so happened that the most notorious highwayman and
outlaw in the whole of Yusafzai was one Dilāwur Khan, a Khuttuk of
good family belonging to the village of Jehangira, on the Kabul River
near its junction with the Indus. Brought up to the priesthood, his
wild and impetuous nature and love of adventure could not brook a life
of sedentary ease, and therefore, like many a spirited young blood,
both before and since, he “took to the road.” In his case the step was
taken, if not actually with the sanction and blessing of his Church,
at any rate with its unofficial consent. In those days the Sikhs held
by force the country of the Faithful, and Hindus fattened on its
trade. It was no great sin therefore, indeed, an active merit, that
the sons of the Prophet, sword in hand, should spoil the Egyptian, by
night or by day, as provided for by Allah.
To recount all the adventures of Dilāwur would fill a book, and
require a Munchausen to write it; but there was about them all a touch
of humour, and sometimes of almost boyish fun, accompanied often by
the rough courtesies of the gentlemen of the road, which reminds one
of Dick Turpin and other famous exponents of the profession on the
highways of England.
We now have a re-elected president Obama who no longer has to face another election. He has “more flexibility”" as he assured Russian president Medvedev. His cabinet appointments so far give us a good view of what the next four years, at least, will bring. David Ingatius gives us the leftist view of the future in a Washington Post story.
Thinking about Eisenhower’s presidency helps clarify the challenges and dilemmas of Barack Obama’s second term. Like Ike, Obama wants to pull the nation back from the overextension of global wars of the previous decade. Like Ike, he wants to trim defense spending and reduce the national debt.
I would hardly call Obama an example of Eisenhower-like determination in national defense. Ignatius seems to believe that Israel is an ally best abandoned.
Michael Yon recently published a remarkable and courageous letter by US Army Colonel Harry Tunnell to the Secretary of the Army regarding deficiencies in our military operations in Afghanistan. Colonel Tunnell is now retired, but the letter was sent while he was on active duty in 2010. Yon calls it “stunning” and I wholeheartedly agree. It is a “must read“.
Colonel Tunnell is a controversial figure in the Army. A bluntly outspoken critic of COIN with strong views on military professionalism and tactical leadership, he served as a commander of combat troops in Afghanistan and in Iraq, where he was badly wounded. Overcoming his injury, Colonel Tunnel returned to command a Stryker brigade in Afghanistan and clash with his ISAF superiors over his use of older Army doctrine on counter-guerrilla operations instead of the pop-centric COIN of FM 3-24. Tunnell aggressively and repeatedly attacked the Taliban in his area of operations, pressing them, which resulted in frequent combat and casualties on both sides – something that was out-of-step with ISAF’s tactical guidance. Several enlisted soldiers in the Stryker brigade were convicted of the infamous “Kill Team” murders which led to Tunnell being investigated and cleared by the Army which found no causal responsibility from Tunnell’s advocacy of aggressive tactics but nonetheless reprimanded him for “poor command climate”.
If anyone wants to know what your tax dollars pay for, go and visit Walter Reed some time, or Bethesda National Medical Center, or take your family to Arlington Cemetery and see the fresh graves that have been dug. Those soldiers haven’t been put in the ground by Hamas and other people on the terrorist list. They’ve been put there by Al Qaeda, and the Taliban and Haqqani and the Pakistani government, and all those people who want to destroy the United States, the West, and our way of life.
Sun Tzu said tactics without strategy is the slow road to defeat. We need a strategy. And the first element in that strategy is, quite literally, sanity. Seeing facts and events and people as they actually are, not as we wish them to be, or pretend that they are. Then, based on reality, determine who our enemies are, then destroy them. We have wasted 11 years. We had a detour into Iraq, and we have pretended that Pakistan, our enemies’ patron and haven, is an ally.
Tell me how this ends. Tell me how we destroy our enemies. Tell me what will replace the current non-strategy, which is the slow road to defeat.
Our enemies are real, they are serious, they are playing the long game, and they mean to win.
I see nothing like that clarity on our side. I see no leadership on our side. I see no willingness to say hard things, such as that Pakistan is our enemy, that the Muslim Brotherhood which has taken over Egypt is our enemy, that Al Qaeda is alive and growing in power.
By every rational measure we should win this. But we may not.
And when I look at what’s happening in Libya, and there is this big song and dance about whether this is a terrorist attack, and you just want to scream, are you kidding me? The last time we were attacked like this, it was the USS Cole, which was a prelude to the 1998 embassy bombing, which was a prelude to 9/11. And you’re sending FBI to investigate? I hope to God that you are sending in your best clandestine warriors, who will go to exact revenge, and let the world know that the United States will not be attacked on its own soil, that its ambassadors will not be murdered, and the United States will not stand by and do nothing about it.
Chicagoboyz community member Death 6 has some thoughts:
Some of you might be wondering what is really going on in Afghanistan given
the official statements, news coverage (or lack of) and some recent
significant engagements. As someone who networks in the intell and military
affairs communities, I found this recent article an accurate and concise
summary of where things stand and a good guide to where it is likely to be
going from here. The following summary with link was extracted from an email I received:
“Afghanistan is the War that is covered in 1/2 inch articles in the back of
your newspaper. It is hardly covered on TV. The last of Obama’s surge troops
have been withdrawn, the remaining troops are no longer training the
Afghanis [sic], opium farming and sales are up… only the remaining troops
must remain for more than a year and a half. This short article tells a sad
[ cross-posted from Zenpundit -- Farrall and McCants, debate and discourse]
There’s a whole lot to be learned about jihad, counter-terrorism, scholarship, civil discourse, online discourse, and social media, and I mean each and every one of those, in a debate that took place recently, primarily between Leah Farrall and Will McCants.
Indeed, Leah still has a final comment to make — and when she makes it, that may be just the end of round one, if I may borrow a metaphor from a tweet I’ll quote later.
Briefly, the biographies of the two main agonists (they can’t both be protagonists, now, can they? I believe agonist is the right word):
Dr. Leah Farrall (left, above) is a Research Associate at the University of Sydney’s United States Studies Centre (USSC). She was formerly a senior Counter Terrorism Intelligence Analyst with the Australian Federal Police (AFP), and the AFP’s al Qaeda subject matter specialist. She was also senior Intelligence Analyst in the AFP’s Jakarta Regional Cooperation Team (JRCT) in Indonesia and at the AFP’s Forward Operating Post in response to the second Bali bombings. Leah has provided national & international counter terrorism training & curriculum development. She recently changed the name of her respected blog. Her work has been published in Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, The Atlantic, and elsewhere.
Dr. William McCants, (right) is a research analyst at the Center for Strategic Studies at CNA, and adjunct faculty at Johns Hopkins University. He has served as Senior Adviser for Countering Violent Extremism at the U.S. Department of State, program manager of the Minerva Initiative at the Department of Defense, and fellow at West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center. He edited the Militant Ideology Atlas, co-authored Stealing Al Qa’ida’s Playbook, and translated Abu Bakr Naji‘s Management of Savagery. Will has designed curricula on jihadi-inspired terrorism for the FBI. He is the founder and co-editor of the noted blog, Jihadica. He too has been published in Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, The Atlantic and elsewhere.
Some private security firms around Chicago are looking to beef up their ranks with Iraq and Afghanistan war vets ahead of two world summits that are expected to bring multitudes of protesters to the city this spring.
The article states that the security firms are interested in hiring veterans because they are likely to show “better restraint” if the protests turn violent. Interesting.
And I really hope any protests don’t turn violent.
- Hebert E. Meyer memorandum, Nov. 30, 1983 (via National Review Online).
(We really should take up the President’s suggestion to begin planning for a post-Soviet world; the Soviet Union and its people won’t disappear from the planet, and we have not yet thought seriously about the sort of political and economic structure likely to emerge.)
If his sunny disposition and easy manner charmed the original “Iron Lady” during their first encounter in Mexico, his administration’s ingenious framework to strengthen bilateral relations laid the foundation on which today’s U.S.-India strategic partnership rests.
In a clear departure from the preceding administrations – including the sympathetic Kennedy, Johnson and Carter administrations and the nearly hostile Nixon White House – President Reagan decided to engage India on areas where there was agreement and mutual interest instead of trying to resolve outstanding issues that were intractable. [break]
The Reagan White House had to placate Islamabad – which was hell bent on gaining a military edge over India – without either weakening or hurting New Delhi, which was already furious at Washington’s move to arm Pakistan and cast a Nelson’s eye on its nuclear program.
The Reagan administration accomplished this impossible balancing act by rejecting the notion that U.S. relations in South Asia were a zero-sum game. So, while it appeased Pakistan’s Zia-ul Haq with aid and arms, it upped the ante on political and business relations with India. The president went about it by establishing personal relations with Indian leaders, including lavishly hosting Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and, later Rajiv Gandh, at the White House.
Unlike his predecessors, who regarded Indira Gandhi to be somewhat recalcitrant and obstinate and approached her warily, Reagan respected her forthrightness and strength.
A far thinking man, too. Unfortunately, post 9-11, someone within our National Security Complex thought replaying the Reagan Islamabad playbook might be a good idea. Unwise, given that the Pakistani-supported Taliban turned out to be a bit problematic for us in more ways than one (to put it mildly). I still don’t understand Rick “Musharraf” Santorum’s thinking or what I sometimes jokingly refer to as the “Musharraf corner” of National Review’s online Corner? You know, the pundits that turn up periodically to remind us how the secular Pakistani military is our best hope? Post-Abbottabad, I have to wonder about the ability of some analysts and pundits to put 2 and 2 together and come up with 4. The non-state actor/jihadi project is a long-standing and detailed design of the GHQ. You can’t just “hire” one General to go after a few assets and expect the whole thing to reform itself. That isn’t logical. And as far as the Al Q we supposedly did scoop up (to date)? I wonder just how much of that intelligence has been independently verified and just how much comes via our complicated CIA-ISI liaison relationship? Who knows?
Lest our progressive friends feel a bit “I told you so” about all of this: aid is fungible. Any money the US might spend on the civilian sector eventually gets into military hands one way or another so I wouldn’t feel too smug. Plus, the Taliban that the Obama administration is attempting to negotiate with have only to pretend to negotiate and then wait it out with Pakistani help (aided with our very own tax money).
Anyway, regarding the original topic of this post, President Reagan had the absolute correct instincts and I think he got it right in terms of the big picture. He can’t be blamed for the decisions that came after the Soviet Union collapsed, and besides, if Steve Coll’s book “Ghost Wars” is correct, the danger of the jihad project was downplayed by CIA higher-ups and others in his administration – and administrations that came after his. A President can’t do everything by himself, after all. How does the CIA keep getting away with being so wrong, time and time again? Or am I being unfair?
Ghost Wars II – if such a book is ever written – is going to be an interesting book….
Update Aspects of Indira Gandhi’s tenure were, er, problematic (emergency rule, certain domestic policies) and I am not a fan of her governance. I am learning (being so poorly educated on these topics), however, that grand strategy and national statecraft are tough and you can’t afford to make an enemy out of every nation whose governance you don’t like. Note to self, really, as I think about optimal policies for Afghanistan and Pakistan. The Obama administration wishes to “pivot” to Asia. How should we think about this in terms of American Strategy and what does pivoting mean?
“….Boyd would comment in the 80s that the approach was having significant downside on American corporations as former WW2 officers climbed the corporate ladder, creating similar massive, rigid, top-down command&control infrastructures (along with little agility to adapt to changing conditions, US auto industry being one such poster child).”
Wheeler’s comment reminded me of the following post that I had meant to blog earlier:
One occasion in particular in the late 1970s brought this home to me. McNamara had come to one of our staff meetings in the Western Africa Region of the World Bank, where I was a young manager, and he had said he would be ready to answer any questions.
I felt fairly secure as an up-and-coming division chief and a risk-taking kind of guy. So I decided to ask McNamara the question that was on everyone’s lips in the corridors at the time, namely, whether he perceived any tension between his hard-driving policy of pushing out an ever-increasing volume of development loans and improving the quality of the projects that were being financed by the loans. In effect, was there a tension between quantity and quality?
When the time came for questions, I spoke first at the meeting and posed the question.
His reply to me was chilling.
He said that people who asked that kind of question didn’t understand our obligation to do both—we had to do more loans and we had to have higher quality—there was no tension. People who didn’t see that didn’t belong in the World Bank.
This too from a speech by Robert McNamara, “Security in the Contemporary World”:
The rub comes in this: We do not always grasp the meaning of the word “security” in this context. In a modernizing society, security means development.
Security is not military hardware, though it may include it. Security is not military force, though it may involve it. Security is not traditional military activity, though it may encompass it. Security is development. Without development, there can be no security. A developing nation that does not in fact develop simply cannot remain “secure.” It cannot remain secure for the intractable reason that its own citizenry cannot shed its human nature.
If security implies anything, it implies a minimal measure of order and stability. Without internal development of at least a minimal degree, order and stability are simply not possible. They are not possible because human nature cannot be frustrated beyond intrinsic limits. It reacts because it must. [break]
Development means economic, social, and political progress. It means a reasonable standard of living, and the word “reasonable” in this context requires continual redefinition. What is “reasonable” in an earlier stage of development will become “unreasonable” in a later stage.
As development progresses, security progresses. And when the people of a nation have organized their own human and natural resources to provide themselves with what they need and expect out of life and have learned to compromise peacefully among competing demands in the larger national interest then their resistance to disorder and violence will be enormously increased.
Think about this in terms of the “armed nation building” of the past decade or so and in terms of successive Clinton, Bush, and Obama administration policies. Really not that much difference if you look at it in terms of securing stability through development – armed or otherwise. Not a novel observation in any way, but bears in mind repeating as the 2012 Presidential campaign continues its “running in place” trajectory….
Update:“Running in place” and “trajectory” don’t really go together, do they? Oh well. You all know what I mean….
Previously, I read and reviewedBrynjar Lia’s Architect of Global Jihad, about Islamist terrorist and strategist Abu Musab al-Suri. A sometime collaborator with Osama bin Laden and the AQ inner circle, a trainer of terrorists in military tactics in Afghanistan and an advocate of jihadi IO, al-Suri was one of the few minds produced by the radical Islamist movement who thought and wrote about conflict with the West on a strategic level. Before falling into the hands of Pakistani security and eventually, Syria, where al-Suri was wanted by the Assad regime, al-Suri produced a massive 1600 page tome on conducting a terror insurgency, The Global Islamic Resistance Call, which al-Suri released on to the jihadi darknet.
Jim Lacey has produced an English digest version of al-Suri’s influential magnum opus comprising approximately 10% of the original Arabic version, by focusing on the tactical and strategic subjects and excising the rhetorical/ritualistic redundancies common to Islamist discourse and the interminable theological disputation. There are advantages and disadvantages to this approach.
It sounds like a perfectly impractical and even risible notion – to remove the Pyramids of Giza from the view of the righteous by covering them with wax. Good heavens, what would happen on the first hot day of summer, assuming such a thing could even be accomplished? A vast puddle of melted wax, I am certain. Stick a wick the size of a Titan rocket made out of cotton string in the middle, empty in a couple of truckloads of essential perfume oils and you’d have a scented candle the size of Texas, the eighth wonder of the ancient world and something that could probably fumigate most of the Middle East. Read the rest of this entry »
Joe Ralston had the awkward assignment of making sure that he was with General Karamat during the launch of the Tomahawks. That way, if the low-flying missiles showed up on Pakistani radar screens, Joe would be able to assure Karamat that they were not the first wave of an Indian sneak attack. Toward the end of a dinner at the VIP lounge at Islamabad airport, Ralston checked his watch and told Karamat that about sixty Tomahawks had just passed through Pakistani airspace en route to their targets in Afghanistan. Shortly after, he thanked his host for dinner, shook hands, and departed.
Karamat felt humiliated and betrayed. The next day his anger grew more intense when it was learned that one of the cruise missiles had gone astray and come down in Pakistan. Those that found their mark killed a number of Pakistani intelligence officers and trainees at the Afghan camps. These casualties were further cause for outrage in Pakistan, but they also confirmed Indian charges that Pakistan was officially supporting terrorism and the U.S. administration’s need to keep the operation secret.
The attack missed bin Laden by hours. Suspicions lingered for years afterward that even though the Pakistanis did not know exactly when the attack was coming, they may have known enough to tip off bin Laden.
One might think that the obvious solution would have been to inform or coordinate with Pakistan up front and let them know the missiles would be ours. Under normal circumstances, that might have worked. In this case, Pakistan’s national intelligence agency, the ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence), was so connected with al-Qaeda, there was no doubt that such a forewarning would go right back to UBL and his minions, and in ten minutes those camps would be more deserted than an old Western ghost town, leaving our missiles to pound sand on empty tents and vacant training facilities.
At this point, what is there to say?
PS: I deleted a bunch of stuff I wrote after “what is there to say,” because it was silly. I meant to save it and post it in the comments instead so as not to be accused of “scrubbing” this post but I didn’t. I’m sure it’s cached somewhere. It’s not really anything terrible, anyway. Here is what I wish I had posted instead:
Lasch described the emergence of elites who “…control the international flow of money and information, preside over philanthropic foundations and institutions of higher learning, manage the instruments of cultural production and thus set the terms of public debate.” These elites would undermine American democracy in order to fulfill their insatiable desire for wealth and power and to perpetuate their social and political advantages. Middle-class values, Lasch warned, would be hollowed out by a value-neutral educational system preaching multiculturalism. Their replacement would be narcissistic values based on self-gratification and worshipful of fame and celebrity as the ultimate values in a world devoid of deeper meaning.
One point I haven’t mentioned before is that the British Raj propounded the ‘martial races’ concept, which had a big impact on the Indian subcontinent, and which Pakistan continued to accept after independence. Technically the concept was abandoned in the 1970s within the Pakistan military but until just a couple years ago Pakistani society held the military as the highest ideal — and (alongside cricket stars) the ideal for the male. The fiercest of military men as the model for manhood followed the British colonizer’s dictum, which was dryly summarized by Dr. Jeffrey Greenhut:
The Martial Race theory had an elegant symmetry. Indians who were intelligent and educated were defined as cowards, while those defined as brave were uneducated and backward.
The ‘high’ culture of the Bengalis in East Pakistan, which placed great emphasis on the arts and intellectual pursuits, was intolerable to West Pakistan’s military class — and this was partly the reason for the horrific atrocities they carried out against the Bengalis, both Hindu and Muslim.
The damning parallel between the groups that were loyal during the Mutiny and those who would be designated as “Martial Races” later seems hard to escape. Though I generally try and avoid paranoid speculation, the idea of “divide and rule” also seems to be relevant here: by keeping the various ethnic regiments of the Indian army divided along linguistic or ethnic lines, they prevented them from congealing along racial (as in, brown vs. white) ones.
For better or worse, groups once designated by the British as “martial races” still tend to carry that badge with pride. But it’s a dubious source of honor, and also an extremely dubious way of asserting one’s manhood & masculinity. (How much violence against women has been perpetrated in the service of the myth of Jat or Pathan/Pashtun martial masculinity?)
A quick glance at the composition of Indian Army Regiments shows that the Indian Army is still run on the “martial races” concept — in particular, the post-1857 interpretation. This designation was based on British perceptions of which communities were best able to bear arms and loyally serve the crown, and is related to their cultural stances on climate (hill-folk favored over the plains dwellers) as well as occupation (favoring sturdy independent peasants). Ultimately however, the British favored groups which stuck with them in the 1857 mutiny (Jats, Sikhs, Gurkhas) over those groups perceived to be disloyal (upper-castes, Bengalis, Tamils).
Over a third of the recruits in the Indian Army are recruited from the Jats, Rajputs, Gujjars, and Dogras of Haryana, Punjab, and Himanchal Pradesh — though these states comprise just over 5% of the national population (given the caste identities, the Army is really drawn from an even smaller subset of that group). That is, roughly as many infantry as fielded by the entire US Army are recruited from a group of castes among a cluster of states totalling 50 million in population. Many of the rest are similarly drawn on a narrow regional/caste basis.
The Pakistan Army has always been psyched to believe that “one Pakistani is equal to ten Indians”.
This has been repeatedly debunked in all the wars fought between India and Pakistan.
While the outcome of wars is debatable, 1971 and 1965’s Battle of Assal Uttar (the physical graveyard of Patton tanks which were superior to anything India had) gave Pakistan no leeway to cover up their inadequacy at combat unlike the fact wherein Pakistan’s Operation Grand Slam is not discussed in history, military or otherwise or for that matter, any other debacle, not even the 1971 fiasco of their own making (except in general vague and defensive terms)!!
That apart, Musharraf has a chip on his shoulder. He is a Mohajir and hence non martial as per the British classification. And yet he was the COAS. In addition, he pipped Khatak (a blue blooded Pathan and a martial race man) to the post of COAS. He also had a personal grievance to settle. Gen. Zia chose Gen. Musharraf (then a Brigadier) in 1987 to command a newly-raised Special Services Group (SSG) base at Khapalu in the Siachen area. To please Gen. Zia, Gen. Musharraf with his SSG commandos launched an attack on an Indian post at Bilfond La in September, 1987, and was beaten back.
Despite serving under the same basic TACOS as the Indian Battalions conditions of service were generally better in the British battalions and their take home pay was greater due to various allowances they received. Although poorly paid by British standards they were extremely well paid by Nepali standards.
The various Gurkha welfare organisations launched a campaign, adopted by Joanna Lumley (UK media star) for parity in Gurkha TACOS with British soldiers and the right to abode in the UK. This campaign was successful and had the precise effect that the UK Army suspected it would have:
Increased social problems in the UK as Gurkha families settle in the UK
Lessening of the inflow of capital into Nepal as Gurkhas choose to bring families into the UK and retired Gurkhas move to the UK rather then take their pensions and settle in Nepal.
Bringing Gurkha soldiers TACOS in line with UK soldiers has caused manning and career management issues leading to redundancies.
At a time of a shrinking Army it is hard to justify maintaining Gurkha battalions when we are losing British battalions; Gurkhas are no longer the cheaper option.
I have served with Gurkhas, they are great, but like all soldiers have their strengths and their weaknesses. I can amplify on any of the points above, but my feeling is that the change to the Gurkha system has severely threatened their long term viability in the British Army.
I am largely an Anglophile, but I don’t romanticize the Raj. Or maybe I do. Who ever knows with me? One day I think one thing, the next day I think another. The oral history in my family regarding the time of the “britishers” is uncomfortable to recount. Half-whispered and half-remembered family mythology as oral history: “She never went into that town by herself, Madhu. No one knew why. She never wanted to be around them alone.” What does this mean? Is it true; is it exaggerated; was it a small incident or something too horrible to imagine? But no-one knows or dwells on it. It’s the past and the past is over. The general feeling is, “why think about it?”
And my message to you all this evening is that Britain’s relationship with Pakistan is here to stay. What happens in Pakistan matters to Britain, and we will stand by Pakistan as it addresses the challenges it faces and build a durable relationship that we know will stand the test of time.
We can be confident of doing so because ours is not a new relationship founded on a narrow set of interests.
We enjoy a tremendous latticework of connections of history and shared experiences, embodied in one million people with close ties to Pakistan living in Britain today and the thousands of our citizens who travel back and forth each year to work, study and support projects or for simple enjoyment.
The United States Defense Department has awarded a 42.3 million dollar contract to Lockheed Martin, one of the world’s largest defense contractors, to provide 10 upgrade kits for Pakistan’s F-16 A/B aircrafts.
According to the Daily Times, the contract has been awarded under the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) programme for Pakistan Air Force (PAF)’s Block 15 F-16 A/B Aircraft Enhanced Modernization Program.
Given how opaque the Saudi government is, it is unclear what is prompting the latest bout of uncertainty. Among the top reasons government and industry officials cite is Riyadh’s unhappiness the U.S. did not support a Palestinian bid for UN membership. Another is that the recent turmoil in Saudi Arabia — with Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz named new defense minister after his predecessor died — has simply created too much uncertainty for the arms package to move forward.
Boeing has a lot riding on the deal — especially since it would keep F-15 production alive past 2020 — and company officials recently indicated it was still on, without projecting timing. It is important for Boeing, financially, too, since it has already spent money to avoid a production gap.
India and Britain – the new special relationship? – RUSI
In this Vanity Fair adaptation of The Eleventh Day, by Anthony Summers and Robbyn Swan, the authors explore connections between the Saudi royal family, the September 11th attacks, and the Bush administration’s suppression of critical evidence.
For 10 years now, a major question about 9/11 has remained unresolved. It was, as 9/11-commission chairmen Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton recalled, “Had the hijackers received any support from foreign governments?” There was information that pointed to the answer, but the commissioners apparently deemed it too disquieting to share in full with the public.
Clinton Cites Pakistan Anti-Terror Help in Bid to Avert Aid Cut – Bloomberg
This is a response to Madhu, commenting on her post I can’t believe you said that, Secretary Clinton. I’d originally posted it below her own post, but I addressed it to Pundita, my HTML was FUBAR – and the two images I wanted to include wouldn’t load…
So here it is, as a stand-alone post. With apologies.
Really, this is just a matter of detail, but I don’t think Secretary Clinton was really meaning to say that Sirajuddin Haqqani met with President Reagan at the White House. Reagan’s meeting with the mujahideen leaders took place on February 2nd 1983, and even Sirajuddin’s celebrated father, Jalaluddin, was not present, despite recent press statements that he was.
A photograph widely published in the newspapers worldwide on Wednesday is that of Afghan mujahideen leader Maulvi Mohammad Yunis Khalis in the company of President Ronald Reagan at the White House in 1985, but it was wrongly mentioned that the elderly and turbaned man with the henna-dyed beard is Maulvi Jalaluddin Haqqani.
This is a famous and almost unforgettable photograph. President Reagan in his elegant suit appears awe-struck as he looks at Maulvi Yunis Khalis, who is making a speech in his mother tongue, Pashto.
A third, younger man in the photo is Zalmay Khalilzad, the Afghan-American who later made rapid advances in his career both as an academic and diplomat and also served as the US ambassador to Afghanistan and Iraq. He is taking notes as he acted as the translator in this and other official meetings of the Afghan mujahideen leaders during their visit to the US.
Haqqani then was much younger and had a thick black beard. More importantly, he had never been to the US. He certainly was a well-known mujahideen commander of the Hezb-e-Islami (Khalis) — a party led by Maulvi Yunis Khalis, and had a status equal to another famous commander Ahmad Shah Masood.
But Haqqani wasn’t in the same league as the Afghan mujahideen leaders who were invited to the White House in Washington and hosted by President Reagan. The only Afghan mujahideen leader who declined to visit the US was Gulbaddin Hekmatyar, who led his own faction of Hezb-e-Islami.
Maulvi Yunis Khalis, a warrior as well as a writer, was head of the Peshawar-based Afghan Mujahideen Alliance at the time and was, therefore, heading the delegation to the US. Others accompanying him on the visit were Prof Burhanuddin Rabbani, Prof Sebghatullah Mojadeddi, Pir Sayed Ahmad Gailani, Maulvi Mohammad Nabi Mohammadi and other lesser-ranked mujahideen leaders and commanders.
It was during this White House meeting that President Reagan referred to the Afghan mujahideen as freedom fighters. He remarked that the Afghan mujahideen leaders were equivalent of the great Americans who founded and liberated America. After this meeting, the US assistance to the Afghan mujahideen was increased to enable them to put up a better fight against the Soviet occupying forces in Afghanistan.
So (a) Clinton is getting her Haqqani’s mixed up — Sirajuddin was supposedly born in the 1970s — and (b) whether she was thinking of the 1985 picture of Khalis which has been erroneously stated to be of Haqqani:
or of this group portrait from 1983:
as far as I can determine, no Haqqani was present on either occasion.
As I say, it’s just a matter of detail…
But there’s still plenty of room for irony, questions of blowback, etc…