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  • Archive for the 'Afghanistan 2050' Category

    Some Good Links on America 3.0 Themes

    Posted by Chicago Boyz Archive on 4th October 2013 (All posts by )

    Two reports from McKinsey are helpful in thinking about our 2040 scenario.

    I have only looked at the — 30 page — executive summaries.

    Disruptive technologies: Advances that will transform life, business, and the global economy

    Disruptive technologies: Advances that will transform life, business, and the global economy

    These McKinsey pieces were cited in a post on the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation site, which cited to our piece in The American, published by AEI. Thanks to Michael Hendrix for the post.

    There is a good piece from CATO on a theme in our book:

    The Income Tax: A Century Is Enough.

    We heartily agree.

    Also, I respond to a despairing blogger: building America 3.0 is up to us.

    And there’s this post from Arnold Kling that mentions our post.

    Last but not least, some discussion of America 3.0 from HBD*Chick.

    Posted in Afghanistan 2050 | 3 Comments »

    I can’t believe you said that, Secretary Clinton.

    Posted by onparkstreet on 3rd October 2011 (All posts by )

    Now, I also think it’s important to take a little historical review. If you go on YouTube, you can see Sirajuddin Haqqani with President Reagan at the White House, because during the war against the Soviets in Afghanistan, the United States Government, through the CIA, funded jihadis, funded groups like the Haqqanis to cross the border or to, within Afghanistan, be part of the fight to drive the Soviets out and bring down the Soviet Union.
    So when I meet for many hours, as I do, with Pakistani officials, they rightly say, “You’re the ones who told us to cooperate with these people. You’re the one who funded them. You’re the ones who equipped them. You’re the ones who used them to bring down the Soviet Union by driving them out of Afghanistan. And we are now both in a situation that is highly complex and difficult to extricate ourselves from.” That is how they see it.

    Remarks at the Kumpuris Distinguished Lecture Series: Audience Question and Answer Segment (Secretary Hillary Clinton)

    Uh huh. Well they “see it” wrong and you very well know that, Madam Secretary. Zia directed the monies and toward the end, we attempted to work around the Pakistanis. You know the history. And you’ve seen the intelligence. Didn’t your own State Department sign off on the certification for Kerry-Lugar-Berman after the bin Laden raid? What’s worse? Supporting an insurgency during the Cold War when officials couldn’t see into the future with a crystal ball, or signing off on an aid package after this?

    This New York Times report on the murder of a US soldier on May 14, 2007 by Pakistani troops in Teri Mangal is an absolute must read if you are interested in understanding the frustration and contempt for Pakistan that exists among those who have been warning of that nation’s duplicity and complicity in the murder of US, NATO, and Afghan troops.

    Long War Journal

    Let’s review some more, shall we?

    Interview with Zbigniew Brzezinski, Le Nouvel Observateur (France), Jan 15-21, 1998, p. 76:
    Q: The former director of the CIA, Robert Gates, stated in his memoirs [“From the Shadows”], that American intelligence services began to aid the Mujahadeen in Afghanistan 6 months before the Soviet intervention. In this period you were the national security adviser to President Carter. You therefore played a role in this affair. Is that correct?
    Brzezinski: Yes. According to the official version of history, CIA aid to the Mujahadeen began during 1980, that is to say, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan, 24 Dec 1979. But the reality, secretly guarded until now, is completely otherwise: Indeed, it was July 3, 1979 that President Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. And that very day, I wrote a note to the president in which I explained to him that in my opinion this aid was going to induce a Soviet military intervention.
    Q: Despite this risk, you were an advocate of this covert action. But perhaps you yourself desired this Soviet entry into war and looked to provoke it?
    Brzezinski: It isn’t quite that. We didn’t push the Russians to intervene, but we knowingly increased the probability that they would.

    excerpt via this Pundita blog post. Emphasis mine.

    In order to have a relationship with Pakistan during the Cold War – and subsequently the War on Terror – various American officials and institutions had to, er, well, invest themselves in particular narratives. Nice to see Secretary Clinton continuing the tradition:

    Back in January 2009, Secretary Clinton vowed to make development once again one of the pillars of America’s engagement as she said it would be an “equal partner” with diplomacy and defense. The so-called “3-Ds” would need AID to be “strengthened”, “adequately funded”, and ultimately given leadership after a decade of neglect and intentional weakening under the previous Secretary.

    Small Wars Journal

    I don’t know what to think anymore. (I originally had something harsher here and then deleted it. I remain flabbergasted at her comments. Particularly given the history of the Clinton Administration during the ’90s. Everyone got it wrong on this one. Darn near everyone. The Americans weren’t the only ones to get it wrong, either. The Pakistanis were the main supporters of the jihadists – and for their own purposes. It’s simply not true that the Generals and others were passive observers. Neither were any of the neighbors. Everyone’s always “played” in that neighborhood. The poor Afghans. The poor mothers and fathers of young people in Afghanistan just learning how far the foreign policy establishment in Washington is willing to go in order to preserve cherished ideological myths – and self-importance or institutional funding, a skeptic might say.)

    Posted in Afghanistan 2050, Afghanistan/Pakistan, Big Government, History, India, International Affairs, Military Affairs, National Security | 7 Comments »

    “Americans, who are you?”

    Posted by onparkstreet on 28th August 2011 (All posts by )

    I left the following comment at zenpundit :

    Kabir says,

    “I don’t touch ink or paper
    This hand never grasped a pen
    The greatness of four ages
    Kabir tells with his mouth alone”

    Tom Tom Club (Wordy Rappinghood) says,

    “Words in paper, words in books
    Words on TV, words for crooks
    Words of comfort, words of peace
    Words to make the fighting cease”

    And Asia Times writes,

    The channel broadcasts in Pashto language from 12 pm to 3 pm in the afternoon and 6 pm to 8 pm in the evening. The programs include jihadi taranay (jihadi motivational songs….

    And drones the size of bees, some day

    And mobiles crossing the Kush; they play

    Tribal songs for jihadi alms, a call-to-arms

    On 11/11 our cell phones say:

    And Americans can talk endlessly about the importance of democracy, but they never thought to explain to the chiefs why they came back to Afghanistan. They arrived with suitcases full of cash to buy help – but they never told the chiefs that they were there because the way al Qaeda attacked the US on 9/11 meant that many Americans couldn’t find so much as a fingernail of their massacred relatives to bury because the bodies were ground to dust.
    Not to be able to bury one’s dead or even a piece of one’s dead — knowing THAT would have meant a great deal to the chiefs and those in their tribes. But the Americans never explained, never even cried, never showed emotion. THEY NEVER ACTED HUMAN; they never interacted with the Afghans in ways that are the same for all — not only all humans but all mammalian creatures. In other words, they displayed not a whit of common sense.
    What do you talk about when you first sit down with a man whose life has been circumscribed by war and who knows nothing about you and your tribe? The answer is you tell me of your battles, I’ll tell you of mine and in this way we establish a commonality of experience.
    You transform the rug or patch of sand you’re sitting on into the terrain of the battle, and you use sticks and stones or teacups as place markers for the troops to show how the battle was fought. In this way, you demonstrate that the battle is truly in your heart, that it means enough to you that you can bring it alive for another.
    If you don’t show what’s in your heart, then you haven’t established a basis for developing a mutual understanding, so then there is no way to move off the dime. Only when you’ve demonstrated by your stories of war that your tribe also shed much blood for independence, can you move on to explaining stuff about government. You can explain that you were losing too many of your sons in battle so you devised a type of government that would help defend your freedoms and with less bloodshed. And so on.

    Pundita, “Americans, who are you?

    Contra Pundita, I bet this has been done sporadically between some who are working together as NATO attempts to build an Afghan Army – one able to protect its borders and serve as an irritant to transnational groups in the region. Many stories have yet to be told….

    Posted in Afghanistan 2050, Afghanistan/Pakistan, Americas, Anglosphere, Blogging, Human Behavior, International Affairs, Military Affairs, Morality and Philosphy, National Security, Poetry, USA | 6 Comments »

    On the ideas that follow us, one decade to the next….

    Posted by onparkstreet on 11th July 2011 (All posts by )

    Detente’s greatest achievement was the opening of consistent contact between the United States and the USSR in the early 1970s—a gradually intensifying engagement on many levels and in many areas that, as it grew over the years, would slowly but widely open the Soviet Union to information, contacts, and ideas from the West and would facilitate an ongoing East-West dialogue that would influence the thinking of many Soviet officials and citizens.

    From the Shadows: The Ultimate Insider’s Story of Five Presidents and How They Won the Cold War by Robert M. Gates. (I am currently reading this book).

    Indeed Washington’s on-again off-again attention to the region, driven by relatively short term developments like the Soviet-Russian invasion of Afghanistan and the war against terror, makes Iranian and Chinese overtures appealing to Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Myanmar.

    A Sino-Persian grab for the Indian Ocean? by Jamsheed K. Choksy (Small Wars Journal)

    Earlier this month the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Michael Mullen, twisted his mouth into the shape of a pretzel to explain why it was okay for the U.S. to support Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal but not okay to support North Korea’s arsenal and Iran’s nuclear ambitions. He also saw no problem with the United States as much declaring war on India when he sympathized with Pakistan’s need to use nuclear weapons against India in order to feel safe.
    Then Americans wonder why Pyongyang and Tehran laugh at Washington’s lectures on nuclear proliferation. The leaders of both regimes have been doing clandestine nuke business with Pakistan for decades. They know Pakistan is the biggest nuclear weapons proliferator on the planet — and so does Mullen, who is the highest ranking military officer in the USA and as such is the principal military advisor to the President of the United States, the National Security Council, and the Secretary of Defense.
    That’s not the half of the double standard America has practiced with regard to Pakistan. Barely a day goes by that the American news media doesn’t warn of the dangers of a nuclear-armed Iran because of the regime’s end-of-time religious views, which American news analyst John Batchelor has termed “hallucinatory.”
    It doesn’t get more hallucinatory than the views of Pakistani media mogul, Majeed Nizami, the owner of the Nawa-i-Waqt, The Nation, and Waqt TV channel. During a recent speech at a function given in his honor he declared that Pakistan’s missiles and nuclear bombs were superior to “India’s ghosts,” and that unleashing nuclear war against India was imperative. “Don’t worry if a couple of our cities are also destroyed in the process.”
    That would be the same Nation newspaper that cites the United States government as being behind every terrorist incident in the world, including the Times Square attack.
    If you think Nizami is an isolated nut case, you don’t know much about him, or Pakistan. He is the true face of the most powerful factions in Pakistan including its military leaders.
    But in the view of the U.S. government and news media it’s okay for Pakistan’s military to hold hallucinatory views whereas it’s not okay for Iran’s leaders because, well, because.
    It’s the same for anti-Semitic views that abound in Pakistan. In the same article that discussed Nizami’s view that nuclear Armageddon was the ticket to peace in South Asia, Pakistani journalist Shakil Chaudhary reported on a June 18 column in Nizami’s Nawa-i-Waqt paper in which Lt. Gen. Abdul Qayyum (ret), former chairman of Pakistan Steel Mills, approvingly quoted Adolph Hitler as saying: “I could have annihilated all the Jews in the world, but I left some of them so that you can know why I was killing them.”

    He ain’t heavy, he’s my genocidal, hallucinatory, two-faced ‘ally’ by blogger Pundita.

    Why do you suppose certain factions in DC appear so adamant on retaining Pakistan as a “strategic asset” post 9-11 and post Abbottabad? CBz blogger Joseph Fouche recently posted a nice piece about the tendency for some to see patterns and intrigues when mere muddle may well explain reality. Sadly, I am prone to this….

    So what exactly is our muddle? Is what I’ve posted above overstated and alarmist? State and USAID want to keep its various lucrative aid programs? The Pentagon/DOD want to keep its favorite “proxy” Army for future use against any kind of “sino-islamic” alliance – or Russia or Iran? Tons of money (supposedly….take all of this with a grain of salt) sloshing around DC from various foreign entities, such as the Saudis or the Pak Mil/ISI? Plain old strategic “incompetence” typical of a big, energetic and free-wheeling democracy?

    What other rationales might be keeping warring DC factions up at night? Placating the Saudis and keeping the oil flowing? Monitoring Pakistani nukes? (Okay, this one for sure). Preventing even more proliferation via Pakistani-Saudi transfers?

    The world is three dimensional and complicated with various currents pulling our policy makers in different directions. I’d be delighted to hear creative thinking on any of these topics by one of the Republican presidential candidates. Your thoughts? Opinions? Relevent anecdotes, articles, films, or books?

    Help a gal out, people.

    Posted in Afghanistan 2050, Afghanistan/Pakistan, China, Economics & Finance, History, International Affairs, Iran, Iraq, Middle East, Military Affairs, Russia, Terrorism | 7 Comments »

    “AfPak 2020: A Symposium”

    Posted by onparkstreet on 14th March 2011 (All posts by )

    We asked four experts what US policy in the AfPak theater would yield in the next ten years—and what, if anything, Washington might do differently. Military historian Victor Davis Hanson begins by offering a contemporary context for American efforts; New York Times Magazine writer James Traub envisions what a partition might look like; Ann Marlowe, returning from her latest trip to the region, suggests that demography will play a more important role than we might think; and Matthieu Aikins reports from Kandahar on the need to spend less, talk more, and shed the illusion of “victory.”

    World Affairs Journal

    I haven’t had a chance to do more than quickly skim the above article, so I’m not sure how to compare the entries to the ChicagoBoyz Afghanistan 2050 Roundtable. I do have one quick comment on Victor Davis Hanson’s interesting contribution to the World Affairs Journal Symposium: Afghanistan is not Iraq, and some critics of the current counterinsurgency doctrine (we provide development aid, the population turns on the Taliban) don’t want to leave full-stop – and never have. We want a plan more tailored to the Afghanistan environment. But the good Dr. Hanson has forgotten more about things military than I’ll ever know, so we shall see how our current efforts are faring in the spring, summer, and fall. Bing West did say in his talk at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs that the Obama Administration will declare victory this summer. “You can count on it.”


    Anyone who has been watching the war in Afghanistan for the past two years knows that ISAF, having focused on southern Afghanistan for the past 18 months, now aspires to shift its focus to Afghanistan’s east, where the war has been underresourced and where, in contrast to southern Afghanistan, the Taliban has been gaining momentum. Speak to any commanders on the ground, and they will tell you that if they have their way (and on account of its complexity), eastern Afghanistan will be the last place from which conventional western forces will withdraw in 2013 and 2014.

    Abu Muqawama

    Posted in Afghanistan 2050, Afghanistan/Pakistan, International Affairs, Military Affairs, National Security | 3 Comments »

    Wherein Lex takes issue with Seydlitz89

    Posted by Chicago Boyz Archive on 13th September 2010 (All posts by )

    Our Roundtable colleague Seydlitz89 has a post up which discusses the recent Glen Beck posts, and also my Afghanistan Roundtable wrap-up post.

    His post is here.

    I have several problems with his post. I tried to post a few responses as a comment, but it did not work for some reason. If you are interested in this sort of inter-blog argument, please read his post, and see my responses, below the fold.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Afghanistan 2050, Beck-O-Lanche, Military Affairs | 29 Comments »

    Afghanistan 2050 Roundtable Summing-Up

    Posted by Chicago Boyz Archive on 11th September 2010 (All posts by )

    [Other contributors who wish to post any follow-up or further thoughts are welcome to do so.]

    I. Moral Clarity

    I am posting this on September 11, 2010. We attacked the Taliban regime because they supported and granted havens to America’s enemies. That initial invasion was just.

    The Taliban are one of the most vicious and evil enemies America’s soldiers have ever faced. Killing them is just. Our soldiers are on the correct side of the moral equation in this struggle. The Taliban murdered hundreds of thousands of people in the decade they controlled Afghanistan. Destroying their rule was a just cause. Destroying them forever may be beyond our power. But it would be worth doing if it could be done at tolerable cost.

    No one else mentioned this moral dimension except me, in the post that began the Roundtable. And I only did so in an update, after an email exchange with our friend Nate, who is actually serving over there.

    Whatever the wisdom of our strategy, whatever the outcome of our effort, whatever the ultimate fate of Afghanistan, the enemy was mightily worth killing. Our warriors can have pride in their effort and their cause.

    If anyone digs back in 40 years and considers the moral issue, that will still be the correct conclusion.

    II. The Roundtable Posts

    I initiated this effort because I wanted to think-through the current effort in Afghanistan and I was spinning my wheels. I was seeing all kinds of immediately relevant granularity and not much big-picture thinking. For example, within days of announcing it Gen. McChrystal resigned, an event that dominated the headlines for a few days, but is unlikely to even be a footnote in four decades. For me, personally, the RT was a success. I enjoyed the posts, all of which were good, and some of which were excellent. I believe the whole is superior to the sum of its parts. The RT has given me a better idea of the big picture, and I see that others are thinking along similar lines. I hope the rest of our participants and readers also found it valuable or interesting.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Afghanistan 2050 | 8 Comments »

    Afghanistan 2050

    Posted by Charles Cameron on 29th August 2010 (All posts by )

    You Westerners have your watches, but we Taliban have time.
    I am delighted to contribute to the Afghanistan 2050 discussion here on Chicago Boyz, back in 2010.

    I was in fact briefly in Afghanistan myself in the early ’70s, almost 40 years ago, before the Russian invasion and long after the “Empire” Brits had left, on something of an informal global pilgrimage. I have fond memories of visiting the great standing Buddha of Bamiyan, climbing the stairs behind him and looking out across the valley from atop his head. I had been reading the poet Jalaluddin Rumi in AJ Arberry’s translations for several years, and was aware that Balkh was Rumi’s birthplace — so Afghanistan already had a niche of sacred affection in my heart. And from that visit, brief as it was, I recall particularly a tiny white mosque by a spring in the middle of miles of desert somewhere east of Herat, with its luscious yet tiny garden, I remember the worn faces of old men in Kandahar and Kabul – I have in short, fond memories of the place, and therefore a sense both that some things change there, and some things stay the same.

    According to Islamic belief, Muhammad is the Seal of the Prophets, the last in the series — and what is left to those of us who wish to foresee Afghanistan or the world in 2050 is therefore “the long view”, guesswork, scenario planning, futurism, perhaps even science fiction. I have worn the “futurist” hat myself in the past — and even the science fiction beret, very briefly and without much success. From my POV here in 2010 and without even the benefit of 2020 vision, I see Afghanistan 2050 obscured by what Nassim Nicholas Taleb might call a veil of black swans – unexpected events leading to future world-lines we cannot as yet even imagine. Forty years ago, I had never even heard of a computer game. A version of Microsoft Flight Simulator was found in a Taliban safe house eight or ten years ago… and there are now US Army training games, jihadist games, and games of peace…

    Let me clothe my speculations, then, in science fiction, openly presented as such, about “branching world-lines” and the ways in which possible futures branch out from the experienced present and often ill-remembered past… I’ll take Everett’s “Many-Worlds” theory as my framework, and throw in a very slight shift of the long pendulum – I see us backing away from the intensive cultivation of material goods and values which has characterized the last few centuries, and very gradually turning towards a more introspective, contemplative sense of the world and our place in it.

    Oh – and I will use the names of some of my own mentors in place of the future thinkers whose work I quote, in a quiet tip of the hat to some previous exponents of the ideas I propose…


    Historians — on the world-line this is written from, and consequently in those cognate worldlines in which you are reading me — tend to date the by now (2050) clear shift in priorities (if not in actualization) currently emerging along these world-lines to the 2020 joint publication in Nature and Physical Review G of Dogen’s confirmation of the Everett-Klee Transformation Hypothesis, which stated (in its minimal formulation) that free choice is the mechanism by which a human individual switches tracks in a given “present moment” from a “past” world-line to a particular “future” world-line, branching “in that moment” from the first.

    Gupta’s 2024 dissertation at the revived Nalanda University suggesting that “morality decisioning” (a horrible phrase, now thankfully forgotten) was the key to shifting from more suffering-dense, competitive and warlike to less suffering-dense, more collaborative and peaceable world-lines was quickly followed by the recognitions that meditative (Snyder, 2025) and liturgical (Hopkins, 2025) practices were among the most powerful methodologies, certainly complementing and perhaps even surpassing “good works” by considerable margins in widely repeated tests of “world-hopping” as the practice of side-stepping from one line to another came to be called.

    By 2030, “play” (Hesse, Huizinga) and “dream” (Bateson, Rheingold) were understood to be crucial to culture and peacemaking respectively, and the process of revaluing human “progress” in light of “moral branching world-line theory” (mBWT) was well under way. It was not, however, until 2037 that Niebuhr and Arendt’s proposal of a method for the cross-pollination of world-lines gave scientific legitimacy to the notion of a sacrificial (“bodhisattvic”) choice to cross over from low-suffering pasts into more suffering-dense futures — with a view to “seeding” those more suffering-dense world-lines with hints of “liberation or salvation via moral and contemplative change”.

    Afghanistan 2050

    On those world-lines which derive from this “low-suffering / high liberation” end of the spectrum, therefore, a contemplative “immediacy in the moment” has given rise to a lowering of the sense of linguistic distinctions and analytic dominance over “what is” – and therefore such distinctions as the drawing of lines on maps have less sway than was previously the case – the Durand Line dividing “Afghanistan” from “Pakistan” being a case in point. It is now understood by most parties on these timelines that such administrative distinctions have an honorable and colorful place in the way the world works, but in no way trump the generosity of spirit that kin feels for kin. Thus we have Pashtun and Baloch spheres that cross Afghan and Pakistan borders (with similar cross weavings at other borders from Iran to Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and even China).

    The popular religion of the area still has strands of Deoband and even the influence of Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab, but affection for the Sufi poets and philosophers — for Ansari of Herat, Rumi of Balkh, and Rahman Baba — has grown or re-grown, along with increased interest in other religious and meditative traditions, the scholarly and tolerant Islam of al-Andalus and the Buddhism which was once native to Afghanistan not least among them.

    Politics and sport are much the same as ever – and deeply intertwined. Buzkashi is still the national game and model for politics, horsemanship the mark of inherent nobility, and soccer the subtle international sport at which young boys in Afghanistan and the world over learn contest, collaboration, and respect for the skilled opponent.

    There are, of course, other, darker world-lines, and daring souls who travel them, teaching peace in its many guises – as good business, good Islam, good Christianity, even good mental health. It is not easy for our historians to access them, for martyrdom of one kind or another, voluntarily chosen or egregiously inflicted, decimates those who would travel the realms of inflamed hatred. And there are even world-lines in which the world has already ended, not infrequently in some conflagration triggered by fervent believers that the end of time was overdue – self-fulfilling prophecy as maladaptive strategy. These world-lines cannot even be reached by historians – only inferred.

    We, however, remain. Our futures are ours to make — and history, the arts and the sciences between them have shown us that a turning towards the good, the generous, the noble, the beautiful, and the true is possible.

    And still our present branches into possible futures. And still with hearts and minds, we choose.


    Charles Cameron is former Principal Researcher with the Center for Millennial Studies at Boston University and Senior Analyst at The Arlington Institute. He was educated at Christ Church, Oxford, under AE Harvey, and specializes in forensic theology with a particular interest in millennial, eschatological and apocalyptic religious sects of all stripes. He has also published poetry, professed anthropology and literature, and designed a family of games for lateral and creative thinkers. He presently guest-blogs almost regularly on Zenpundit. You can contact him as “hipbone” with the ISP “”.

    Posted in Afghanistan 2050 | 2 Comments »

    Afghanistan 2050: Tribes vs. Networks, cont. & cont.

    Posted by David Ronfeldt on 27th August 2010 (All posts by )

    Here is another speculative scenario for the Afghanistan 2050 roundtable. It reflects themes in my August 13 post and is not inconsistent with my August 22 post:

    The Black-Flag Wars of the 20s and 30s were so fraught with religious strife and devastation that by the 40s many people in the region were ready for new ways to look at the world. That’s one reason why the New Theory of Prophecy (NTP) and the movement that formed around it, the New Word Network (NWN), suddenly spread faster there than anywhere before.


    NTP rested on a reaction in the Teens that too many people from too many religions, mostly in the Middle East, were claiming to act in God’s name, as His chosen people. NTP reaffirmed that Abraham, Jesus, and Mohammad were God’s prophets. What it rethought was why they all appeared in the Middle East, when God could have placed them anywhere in the world.


    NTP hypothesized that if God had sent a prophet elsewhere, his Word might not have spread into the Middle East in due time, because its peoples were so extraordinarily tribal. Yet, this area was a crucial crossroads of world civilizations. Wiser, then, to put a prophet there, and have the Word spread out to the rest of the world. But with the first prophet, only his own tribe got the Word; it didn’t spread beyond them. With the second, the Word spread far outside, but not much more within the Middle East. With the third, the Word spread across the Middle East and farther around the world. But then, once again, too many people turned to claim they’d been chosen by this version of the Word and its prophet; they reverted to being extremely tribal, in ways that disparaged not only other peoples but even the first two prophets.


    Against this background, NTP counseled all believers against taking God’s name in vain and claiming to be His singularly chosen people, while NWN developed a noöpolitik* strategy to ameliorate the tribalization of religion. To its credit, NWN helped undermine the appeal of Al Qaeda’s narrative in North America and Europe, and motivate the accords between Israel and Palestine in the Teens. But for the next two decades, conditions in South Asia fell prey to the millenarian Black Flag Momentum (BFM) and its belief that a new prophet was imminent.


    BFM’s leaders disdained NWN and twisted the NTP to claim it meant a new prophet was bound to arise, this time for them. They’ve been wrong, and done wrong, for a quarter century — like past millenarian movements that provoked apocalyptic violence and always ended up losing. Now, conditions are finally too disastrous for even BFM and its allies to rationalize. NWN is fast gaining adherents in the region, helping people recover and reorganize. Rumors are still circulating about an imminent new prophet, but lately of one quite unlike what BFM and others had predicted — and that too is calming the region.


    [Excerpt from Dawgo Skatts, “Chronicles of the New Word Network,” draft (last revised 02/30/50). Accepted for inclusion in NoöSpherica Quarterly (probably the Spring 2050 special issue on trends in religion). Still being edited for sensitivity.]

    * For clarification of this information-strategy concept, see here.

    Posted in Afghanistan 2050 | 3 Comments »

    Afghanistan 2050: A Chronic Low-Grade Sameness. Or, Each Life, A Story.

    Posted by onparkstreet on 25th August 2010 (All posts by )

    (Alternate title: When Borders Need To Heal….)

    When we got to the Southern Afghanistan-Balochistan camps the first thing we noticed was the quiet. Even more strange than the lines of donated tents, the numbers of people, and the bizarre floating appearance of the inflatable camp hospitals dotting the landscape, was the relative silence. This surprised us.

    Inside the largest camp hospital we found the recovered bodies of the missing Afghan-Americans. A make-shift morgue had been arranged with each body properly tagged in a kind of digital tattoo ink that kept a running score of the date of death, body temperature and presumed cause of death. The previous group of traveling NGO physicians (our hospital ship was semi-stationed for the duration at Balochistan Port) had left a good set up. Above each body “hovered” a bodily representation – a CT/MRI compiled projection – so that the morgue had the appearance of something spectral and otherworldly, the souls of the dead afraid to leave, anxious to ensure the truth.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Afghanistan 2050 | 7 Comments »

    Afghanistan 2050: Tribes vs. Networks, cont.

    Posted by David Ronfeldt on 22nd August 2010 (All posts by )

    Here’s an epilogue/postscript to my initial (August 13) post for this roundtable:

    The dozen BOIDS — small ultra-quiet stealthy long-range aerial DIY drones designed to swarm against an adversary’s OODA loops — idled in range of the target, undetected, waiting for a signal that the first stone was being cast.  Ten of the drones were piloted remotely by individuals who had paid large sums to train and participate in what they were about to do: stone the stoners.  The other two were for tactical topsight and command (TTC, the new C4ISR) and were operated by a unit of HubrisNemesis, the secretive ethicalist netfirm whose lineage included Sea Shepherd.*  This unit and a few of the attack pilots were aboard a ship in the Indian Ocean; most of the pilots were in other locations, even at home in North America, Europe, and South Asia.  While each had his/her own motivation for joining in, they all shared disgust and despair at how, once again, a great religion was being subjected to a vain tribalism.  Public stoning rarely occured anymore, and international efforts had been made for months to halt this instance.  But dark local forces had prevailed, and the stoning was supposed to proceed a few minutes from now in the sun-baked arena — with no outside media or foreign observers present.  HubrisNemesis and the BOIDistas hoped that Operation StoneCold would save the condemned trio’s life.  But even if that proved a false hope, at least their operation would generate video for global viewing of the ugly event’s proponents being routed as the BOIDS “stoned” them from above for the next hour or so.  But unlike the people at the event, the BOIDistas would not launch real stones aimed to maim and kill; no, their weaponry was mainly metaphorical, even nonviolent, but still powerful enough to frighten and disperse a crowd — e.g., plastic meshes filled with choice liquids, gases, and powders.  And if the surprise attack could be sustained long enough, nearby police and military would show up and cancel the event.  And then the ripple effects would start to unfold. . . .

    * See here for a fine post about Sea Shepherd and its implications.

    Posted in Afghanistan 2050 | 3 Comments »

    Back to the Future: Afghanistan in 2050

    Posted by Karaka Pend on 19th August 2010 (All posts by )

    A nurse instructs a group of young mothers on post-natal care.

    Two women flip through records in the local shop, asking questions of the gentleman who works there.

    Young girls laugh in the sunshine as their Girl Scout leader teaches them a song.

    This is Afghanistan in 2050; it looks remarkably like Afghanistan in 1950. Men and women walk the streets without fear of death by stoning; women choose to shop with uncovered heads; education is widespread and equally available for all Afghans.


    The differences between Afghanistan pre-Taliban and Afghanistan post-Taliban are challenging to conceive. From 1996 until the invasion of the United States in 2001, the world as Afghanistan knew it changed dramatically, and undeniably for the worse. The lot of women under the Taliban’s harsh regime was devastating. But perhaps the greatest hope for Afghanistan in 2050 is to look into its past.


    From the ’50’s to the ’70’s, Afghanistan was a largely stable country under the rule of Mohammed Zahir Shah. The King steered his country slowly into modernization, opening it to the West and allowing his subjects greater political freedom. The culture of the time also liberalized, providing social freedoms for both men and women. Notably, women were allowed into the work force, chose whether to cover or uncover their hair and bodies, and had more substantial agency over their own lives.


    This, then, is the challenge Afghanistan should undertake: undo the last sixty years of repression and throw as much weight as possible behind the cause of Afghan women. As Afghanistan pushes, and is pushed, towards control of its own destiny over the next four decades, perhaps the best hope for the country’s future lies with its female citizens.

    Social freedoms. By endeavoring to return to the mid-twentieth century’s quality of life, Afghanistan sees a greater level of equality between men and women. Women’s lives are not consolidated in the private sphere but are expanded outward into the public sphere. Women take part in public works and enterprises, seek employment and enrichment outside the realm of the family culture, and express their own agency through their fashion, creative efforts, and social choices. Girls have the same access to education as boys, and a majority of young Afghans can expect a secondary education.

    Economic reforms. The use of microloans and other economic projects directs capital to Afghan women, encouraging them to engage in private enterprise that dovetails with the social freedoms allowing women more access to the public sphere. Independent economic vitality pushes against political restrictions, building up the political voice and goals of Afghan women in their national and local governments. Political action affects government economic policy, loosening restrictions on female entrepreneurship and providing mechanisms for further investment in local business, including female-run entities. More local business helps to bolster Afghan’s struggling economy, pushing back against revenue from poppy farming and black market timber sales. Afghanistan invests in itself, spurred by its investment in women.

    Religious tolerance. Afghanistan is, and will always be, an Islamic state. But as the combination of social and economic reforms changes the relationship of citizens to state, so too does it change the relationship of state to religion. Not unlike Syria or Jordan, Afghanistan gradually reduces the state-based restrictions on its population, particularly its female citizens, moving religious doctrine from the governmental realm to the private realm. Previously imposed restraints on public and private behaviour are eased and individuals gain more self-selection when it comes to how they choose to express their religion.

    What I describe here is not a panacea; these changes, should they come, are gradual and slow-moving in nature. Alleviating the quality of life of women in Afghanistan will not solve the country’s many ills in every sector of its society. But these changes are most assuredly a necessity, to answer in part for twenty years of repression, poverty, and hardship.

    From the vantage point of 2010, these changes seem very far away. But rather than view these three aspects of Afghan society–social, economic, religious–as unknown progressive leaps forward, I argue instead that Afghanistan should look into its past for frameworks with which to build upon. At one time, Afghanistan grasped each of these aspect of society, and were headed down a path of greater individual freedoms and reforms for its citizens. To meet its future in 2050, Afghanistan and its people must reclaim its 1950 past. Perhaps in four decades we will again see women walking uncovered past women in niqab and know it to be the result of individual choice and freedom.



    Karaka Pend is a philosopher by training and a FP junkie by passion. She blogs at Permissible Arms and has an abiding love for the Misfits. Images respectfully pulled from Foreign Policy and the NYT Lens Blog. Many thanks to Chicago Boyz for allowing me to contribute.

    Posted in Afghanistan 2050 | 7 Comments »

    Afghanistan 2050: Walking and Chewing Gum at the Same Time

    Posted by Joseph Fouche on 18th August 2010 (All posts by )

    In fiscal 2010, the U.S. government will spend between $880 billion and $1.03 trillion dollars on defense (depending upon how you finagle the numbers). This is, in a much ballyhooed percentage, around half of the world’s known defense spending. It is also between 6% and 7% of the $14,597.7 trillion U.S. GDP (as of the second quarter of 2010).

    The United States of America has a population ~301,237,703 (give or take a few million). The U.S. Department of Defense directly employs ~700,000 civilians, ~1,418,542 active duty military personnel, ~1,458,500 reserve duty personnel, and who knows how many contractors. The U.S. has ~72,715,332 men and ~71,638,785 women of military age (between the ages of 18-49). Of these, an estimated ~59,413,358 men and ~59,187,183 women are actually fit for military service. An estimated ~2,186,440 men and ~2,079,688 women reach the usual minimum military age of 18 every year. The Selective Service has information on ~15 million men between 18 and 25 years of age, the first cohort that would eligible for conscription if a draft was reinstated.

    The percentage of U.S. military personnel classifiable as combat personnel was about 25% of all forces engaged in Iraq in 2005. Very very very crudely applying the same percentage to the above manpower numbers, this means that the U.S. has about ~354,635 active and ~364,625 reserve combat personnel for a grand total of ~719,260 combat personnel. If we figure that only ~12.15 million (81%) of the 15 million men in the Selective Service database are fit for military service and that 100% were drafted (!), that would add another ~3.03 million combat personnel (25%). If we further strain credulity and expand that to the full ~59,413,358 males fit for military service and conscripted 100% of them (!!!), it would produce an additional ~14,853,339 combat personnel. There would be about ~546,610 replacements available yearly assuming 100% of young men eligible for military service were drafted, about a ~3% possible replacement rate annually.

    Given even a conservative reading of such information and ignoring such small obstacles as resource constraints, political reality, or public opinion, why is it that so many defense commentators suggest that the United States military, especially the U.S. Army, can’t walk and chew gum at the same time?

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Afghanistan 2050 | 2 Comments »

    Afghanistan 2050: Other Voices on AfPak

    Posted by Zenpundit on 18th August 2010 (All posts by )

    In addition to the futurist Afghanistan 2050 Roundtable going on here at Chicago Boyz, I’d like to point out some bloggers and academics dealing with the region’s present:

    Chris AlbonUS Military And Pakistan Flood Relief

    Since July, monsoon rains have caused heavy flooding in many areas of Pakistan. The United Nations estimates more than 20 million people are affected. In response the disaster, the United States has launched a civilian and military relief effort in the country. As part of that effort, US military fixed and rotary wing aircraft are ferrying people and supplies to and from the flood zone. Below are thirteen photos from that military response.

    Please consider donating to the NGO flood relief effort here or elsewhere

    Spencer Ackerman – Petraeus: Here’s My Afghan Redeployment Strategy

    …. Some units pulled out of stable districts might find themselves heading for more volatile ones. “You maybe take one company and send it somewhere else. Maybe send it home,” Petraeus explains. “We want to reinvest some of the transition.” It won’t necessarily be the case that a unit that “thins out” from a district heads directly home. “Some will, certainly,” Petraeus qualifies. “And this is all premature.”In keeping with Petraeus’ admitted addiction to PowerPoint, the general passes on a briefing slide, titled “Transition,” to explain his thinking. The assessment for drawing down will be built around “Districts, Provinces, Functions [and] Institutions,” looking for what can be handed to Afghans with minimal disruptions in security. In our interview, he elaborates that “institutions” means U.S. functions like training the Afghan security forces – jobs that don’t have to remain American duties indefinitely. According to the slide, it’s a process that will draw on what security gains the U.S. command in charge of training Afghan security forces believes the Afghans can maintain; and the Afghan government itself.

    Pundita – On the matter of indicting Oxfam and International Red Cross for war crimes, and a grim warning for U.S. military, Former PM Nawaz Sharif says Pakistan doesn’t need Western flood aid, and other tales of flood aid to Pakistan and Taliban blitzkrieg in North Afghanistan. NATO blindsided. I do not want to hear they didn’t get help from Pakistan military

    ….Same basic message to United Nations, IMF, World Bank, and the rest of the so-called international community. Stop helping Pakistan’s regime rape their country’s poor. Every time they get away with stealing from you, you’re just reinforcing the idea that they do nothing wrong — else why do you keep giving to them? Just stop it, you goddamn fools. Just stop.The Taliban said they would donate USD 20 million to flood relief effort if the regime wouldn’t take money from Western governments. Hold to them their offer. Then shake the country’s rich until they collectively cough up a billion USD for flood relief. That’s how it’s done. That’s how civilized humans act when extorted by fiends.

    Walter Russell Mead –The Roots of Pakistan’s Rage and Pakistan’s Crisis: It’s More Than The Militants

    Things were tough enough during my stay. On my way in from the airport in Karachi, traffic was unusually light. Roving gangs of armed thugs were roaming through the city, pillaging gas stations. The police force was laughably overwhelmed; the only gas stations that stayed open had battalions of private security. Meanwhile, up to 100 people died there in violence between the organized gangs of criminals known in that unhappy city as political parties, schools and businesses are closed in fear, and tens of thousands of families already living at the margins of existence are losing their daily wages until peace returns. One night during my visit a vicious goon threw a hand grenade into a group of worshipers performing their evening prayers in a Karachi mosque; nothing in this city is sacred anymore.

    In Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, formerly known as the Northwest Frontier Province, and currently on the front line of the COFKATGWOT (the currently nameless Conflict Formerly Known As The Global War On Terror) assassins killed the son of a prominent official and Safwat Ghayyur, the Commandant of the Frontier Constabulary. Three million people became homeless in the early stages of the flood; since then monsoon rains continue to inundate the highlands, and successive flood crests is move inexorably down river, spreading devastation through the Punjab and overspreading the country’s most valuable and productive agricultural land across both Punjab and Sindh.

    Hat tip to Eddie!

    Posted in Afghanistan 2050, International Affairs, War and Peace | Comments Off on Afghanistan 2050: Other Voices on AfPak

    2050: Newly Published History of the American Army’s Disaster in 2016

    Posted by gian p gentile on 17th August 2010 (All posts by )

    “Irregular warfare is more intellectual than a bayonet charge”
    TE Lawrence

    In 2050 historians analyzing the reasons for the disastrous defeat of the United States Army at the hands of the Turkish and Iranian militaries in 2016 over the fate of Kurdistan seem to have reached a consensus that it was due to nearly 15 years of deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan that had so depleted the Army’s material, moral, and organizational capacities that it simply lost the ability to fight against a sophisticated enemy.

    In 2011 senior American Army Generals were able to show enough relative progress on the ground in Afghanistan that they persuaded lawmakers and the American President that the United States needed to maintain a significant ground presence for at least five more years in Afghanistan. Meanwhile the situation in Iraq began to deteriorate significantly to the point where the Shia government after a string of high-casualty producing bombings declared war on AlQueda in Iraq and its Sunni insurgent allies. As the civil war in Iraq thawed and reached the levels of 2007 again certain neo-conservative pundits combined with a bevy of senior American Army officers and counterinsurgency experts made a concerted argument to reinsert five American combat brigades to quell the violence. It didn’t work, they couldn’t stop it, and the civil war had to run its course. Sadly these brigades over the next two years took combined casualties of upwards to 70 a month. By the end of 2015 the Iraqi Shia Government had finally crushed, albeit brutally, their sunni resistance. It was at that point when the US presence in Iraq ended. The reinjection of combat brigades into Iraq combined with the ongoing operations in Afghanistan meant that over the course of three years close to two thirds of the American Army’s combat brigades were deployed, meaning that they spent a year deployed with only 6 months back at home station. Afghanistan, by 2015 and the American Army’s departure was really no different than it was in 2011 when senior Army Generals made their pitch to congress; the corrupt Afghan government controlled parts of the country like Kabul and other areas while the Taliban controlled much of the rest. In 2015 Afghanistan resembled the Balkans, a rough but still stable peace followed until the present day.

    Then in early 2016 the war started between the United States and Turkey and Iran over the fate of Kurdistan. Both Turkey and Iran had become fed up with the constant attacks and concomitant separatist movements of their Kurdish populations and decided to ally together and act once and for all to crush Kurdish desires for independence. The Iraqi government requested American assistance and only a short while after pulling its remaining brigades out of Iraq sent in Brigades from the 101st and 82nd Airborne, 1st Cavalry and 4th Infantry Divisions; many of these Brigades had just returned from deployments to either Iraq or Afghanistan. The outcome was not pretty. American commanders, so long accustomed to training and operational deployments that involved stability and counterinsurgency operations were unable to perform the most basic tasks of combined arms synchronization. The Army’s soldiers too lacked essential individual skills of fire and movement; artillery battalions were unable to mass fires, and even though the Navy and Air Force had substantial amounts of airpower in the region the Army on the ground was unable to coordinate it against an enemy who stood and fought. Operational level logistics quickly collapsed due to the fact that a majority of it had been conducted in Iraq and Afghanistan by contractors, and those contractors refused to deploy again to Iraq to fight the Turks and Iranians. The Army under the zeitgeist of counterinsurgency had bought into Lawrence’s quip and had come to place priority for its senior commanders to be able to build trusting relationships with local populations instead of how to conduct combined arms maneuver.

    The American Army was beaten and bloodied badly. It lost nearly as many soldiers in this short three month war against the Turks and Iranians than it did in almost 15 years of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. It took it another twenty years to recover from this disaster but by 2050 China and Russia had established dominance in Asia, Europe, and Africa to the detriment of vital American interests.

    Such is the fate, historians concluded in 2050, of Armies that become seduced by the promise of nation building at the barrel of a gun. There are such things as savage small wars of peace, but there are also savage wars of war, and the latter tends to be much bloodier if armies are unprepared.

    Posted in Afghanistan 2050 | 23 Comments »


    Posted by historyguy99 on 17th August 2010 (All posts by )


    August 15, 2050 marked the 35th Anniversary of the fall of Kandahar when the fundamentalist Taliban reclaimed the city and began imposing Sharia Law across the southern half of what had been pre-2015 Afghanistan. The fall of Kandahar marked the end of a fourteen year effort by the United States and a coalition made up of NATO countries to prevent the return of the Taliban regime after the September 11, 2001 attack in New York. The war, by far the longest in U.S. history had claimed 3,149 American wars dead, and had cost over $900 billion in an attempt to keep the frayed and fractured country together while it tried to stop incursions by the Taliban, supported by militants and the Pakistani Intelligence Service with monetary support from wealthy oil rich Middle East families bent on spreading their brand of religion.
    The separation, led to a buffer zone extending southwesterly from the Hindu Kush to the Iranian border. Pakistan saw their western tribal region begin to seethe in an attempt to break-away to join in a greater Pashtunistan. After fighting a short war to save face, Pakistan eventually saw this as a positive move, as Pashtunistan became a buffer state on its western border and a source for allies in the event of war with India.

    Read the rest of this entry »

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    Afghanistan 2050: “A Muslim Yugoslavia”

    Posted by Zenpundit on 17th August 2010 (All posts by )


    “We snatched anarchy from the jaws of defeat”
    – Henry Kissinger

    Historians tracing the origins of the short but terrible Indo-Punjabistani nuclear exchange of 2024 over the issue of Kashmiri independence generally look to the rapid disintegration of Pakistan into secession, civil war and democide a decade earlier during the conclusion of the “American war” in Afghanistan.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Afghanistan 2050, Military Affairs, War and Peace | 3 Comments »

    Afghanistan 2050: A Political Watershed

    Posted by seydlitz89 on 15th August 2010 (All posts by )

    . . . Thus ends our discussion of the military aspects of the Afghan campaign. The political roots of the campaign and how they developed – everyone obviously has their own individual story as to how their own family was affected by the momentous events this war helped to set in motion – are not so easily discernible today. President Bush’s decision to invade the country and overthrow the Taliban government in 2001 seemed a logical response to the events of 11 September, but was in reality predetermined by decades of ideological and political confusion which only came to its inevitable end with the withdrawal of Successor States forces in 2018. In effect American policy makers fancied themselves metaphysicians capable of driving human historical events/the development of political cultures through the use of military power. While the tendency among Bush Studies academics is to argue that Bush represents a unique model followed by his three successors, this puts too much influence on the man and not the times, nor the history which made those times what they were. It is difficult to imagine today, but in the waning years of the US Empire three great tendencies came together and imploded pretty much simultaneously. The first was the notion that the US, alone among the political communities of the world, possessed a special mission from God to influence and change the world; we can refer to this as the “shining city on the hill” delusion. The second was the “liberal”/Enlightenment view of the US as a new start, the perfect humanist society which would reform the corruption of the past; refer to this as the Founding Fathers’ assumption. Read the rest of this entry »

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    Afghanistan 2050: A distributed solution to the distributed problem

    Posted by selil on 15th August 2010 (All posts by )

    Afghanistan history over the last 50 years is a study in the contexts of land locked populations struggling between radical theocracy and criminal ambition. Over the last 50 years we have seen a remarkable set of changes in the political influence and the social impacts of a world changing from petro economy to lithium and thorium as primary energy trade goods. Introducing these topics the following essay describes in detail the radical changes in the world economy and the effects on Afghanistan leading to today in the year 2050. Read the rest of this entry »

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    Afghanistan 2050 — Two Successful Campaigns in a Wider War

    Posted by Trent Telenko on 14th August 2010 (All posts by )

    What was determinative in America’s victorious 2001 and 2008 – 2013 Afghanistan military campaigns was the will of the American people to keep the Afghanistan from becoming a terrorist base again. Unlike Vietnam, but like the Second World War, this war was started by a surprise attack on the American people at home. Thus the America people’s definition of “victory” was security at home, whatever games America’s ruling elite of the time were doing to either make the goal more or less than that definition.

    This American determination was aided by two things. The will of the Afghans not to be ruled by foreign Islamist backed drug warlords and the terrain of Southern Afghanistan.

    The much missed at the time fact was that America’s military was not “colonizing” Afghanistan for the West. It was _re-establishing_ the old cultural order of Afghan tribal elders against the drug trade and the students of the foreign Saudi-Wahabi Islamist schools in Pakistan and the wider Muslim world.

    American Special Forces Soldier on Horseback

    American Special Forces Hunting Taliban on Horseback

    The Pashtun Drug Warlords, the Taliban and Al-Qaeda were the “power challengers” with guns and cash who were atomizing local Afghan tribal culture and cutting that culture off from both welcome modern medicine and wireless telecommunications, not the Americans.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Afghanistan 2050, Afghanistan/Pakistan, Americas, History, International Affairs, Islam, Middle East, Military Affairs, Uncategorized | 6 Comments »

    Afghanistan 2050: Kaleidoscope of History

    Posted by Shane on 14th August 2010 (All posts by )

    Chotor asty, in the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful. This letter is from Akram Khan, a slave of Allah. Peace be upon him who follows the right path. As we approach the 131st celebration of Afghan Independence Day, in this year 1472 AH, we must pause to celebrate the resilience of the Pashtunwali.

    Blessings to Allah for this year’s bountiful poppy harvest – the richest Orūzgān has ever seen, rivaling Helmand’s harvest this year. With Chinese demand for opium ever increasing due to their new-found opulence, we are thankful that Allah has smiled upon our fields and our labors.

    While chaos and economic collapse continues to engulf the Indian subcontinent (moreso from the Chinese damming of the headwaters of the Indus, Brahmaputra and Ganges rivers in their insatiable thirst for energy than from any direct external conflict), our lives west of the Hindu Kush remain stoic and tranquil.

    It is ironic that the colonial powers of the west thought they could tame Afghanistan. The first memories of my youth were of my brave brothers and uncles taking arms against the Soviet tanks that sought to prop up the urban elites of Babrak Karmal and his fellow kleptocrats. And as a young man, I watched the ignorant Taliban Kandaharis try to impose their misguided interpretation of Shari’a on our peoples – only to be quickly ousted by the Americans and their corrupt puppet Hamid Karzai. And in my middle age I witnessed the ebb and flow of various outsiders – from Europeans to Pakistanis to Chinese – try to impose their centralized governances on us. At least until the development of sub-Saharan Africa gave them all a new sandbox to attempt to shape in their own image, leaving us to our own “archaic” ways….

    Where they all were wrong is their failure to grasp the most basic tenets of tribalism. The western politicians universally declare their fealty to “family values”, yet they have no true conception of what that means. Despite the hardships of Afghanistan, we are free from want and have a simple, secure lifestyle. Our open, egalitarian and classless society is inherently cooperative – something we see far too little of in so-called “progressive” societies around the globe that depend upon (and unduly reward) the individual above the collective.

    Though fatigued by decades of conflict, we welcome the recent tranquility afforded our peoples by the Great Powers’ distractions in Africa. Our celebration of Afghan independence is a celebration of our own modest freedoms – freedom to till the harsh rocky soil, freedom to support our clan with our own labors, freedom to remain apart from a world gone mad. And we humbly return to what we have always done: pray, eat, sleep and love.

    In the name of Allah the most Sincere, may peace be upon you and your family.

    [Cross-posted to Wizards of Oz]


    Posted in Afghanistan 2050 | 3 Comments »

    Afghanistan 2050: Futures That Will Not Be

    Posted by T. Greer on 14th August 2010 (All posts by )

    The great challenge with interpreting the future is that it hasn’t happened yet.

    Our existence is a funny thing, filled to the brim with labyrinthine contingencies and hidden variables, kingdoms lost for want of nails and hurricanes raging by way of butterfly beats. The landscape of history is defined by its brilliant complexity. Understandably, the study of this complexity is a fractious discipline, divided by multiple schools and hostage to many a divisive reading. A conservative lot, historians seldom make their case without first stressing uncertainty and contingency. Their restraint is the fruit of experience. They know too well that interpreting the past is a difficult endeavor.

    Those who claim to know the pattern of the future betray their unfamiliarity with the pattern of the past. Our understanding of the past remains sketchy and uncertain, subject to constant revision and review. If our vision of what has been is hidden by this haze, how much harder is it to see what will be! Our understanding of the world is imperfect; our understanding of the future is even more so. Futuristics is a blind man’s game, and I have little sympathy for those who ply the art without admitting that the intricate complexities of our Earth may throw even the steadiest trend off of its given course.

    How then are we to analyze and interpret the future? One could begin with colorful depictions of our world to be. However, my preference is to keep as much fiction out of this analysis as humanly possible. I suggest an easier alternative: instead of trying to sketch what will be, we should try to sketch that what will not.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Afghanistan 2050 | 4 Comments »

    Afghanistan: 40 years is a long time

    Posted by Chicago Boyz Archive on 13th August 2010 (All posts by )

    This poster is meant to be funny, but it is tragic.

    These pictures tell a thousand word tale of utter destruction.

    I hope the next 40 years go better than the last 40 for the people of Afghanistan.

    (Hat tip to Michael Antoniewicz II.)

    Posted in Afghanistan 2050 | 4 Comments »

    Afghanistan 2050: Tribes vs. Networks

    Posted by David Ronfeldt on 13th August 2010 (All posts by )

    Here’s my one-paragraph contribution to your roundtable speculations about the view from 2050, as requested.

    “Because of the way U.S. forces pulled back in the Teens and wars ensued in the 20s and 30s, debates continue as to whether we won or lost over there. Yet, what matters more for this quadriform theory of social evolution is the following: The persistent grip of the tribal form of organization — and thus local resistance to allowing the institutional (statist) and market forms to take hold properly — explains what unfolded in the region and why so little could be changed. At least we finally stemmed the jihadis efforts to spread their monoform religious tribalism elsewhere. But we’ve done less well at our deeper challenge here at home and abroad: adapting to the wrenching rise of the newest of the four forms — the information-age network form. Though we are decades into it, our leaders are still so prone to emphasizing established state and market factors — a legacy of our society’s triformist phases — that they still haven’t allowed the new form to express its key strength: letting a commons-based “social sector” emerge, so that we develop a truly quadriform society. Yes, it’s happening in fits and starts, and we got past the debasing of our polity by revanchist retro-tribal movements on our Right and Left. Yet, it’s disheartening that America’s efforts to use the network form in combination with the other three forms has led not so much to a revitalization of our democratic and entrepreneurial potentials, as to the consolidation of a hyper-surveilling cybercratic security state. This has kept our homeland guardedly open and safe since our pull-backs decades ago — a valid strategic trade-off, since neither Mahdista Momentum nor Xyber-Op LiberTAZ infiltrated to damage more in the 30s and 40s than Al Qaeda used to. But this twist in America’s evolution has knotted-up our ability to compete and cooperate with partners near and far. Indeed, China’s hybrid triform system is now in a stronger strategic position than any of the world’s few national efforts to create quadriform systems that function powerfully. Even so, time is on evolution’s side; it’s normal for the rise of a major new form of organization to take several generations to mature.”

    [Purportedly based on “Tribes, Institutions, Markets, and Networks: A Theory of Social Evolution — Past, Present, and Future” (rev. ed., 2050).]

    Many thanks for including me. My paragraph is too long, congested, and tendentious, and reflects present fears more than future hopes. But it contains a singular theoretical thread that may prove to have high tensile strength over the long run.

    For clarification, visit Visions from Two Theories and see past posts about TIMN.


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    Afghanistan 2050: Effects of the US Conflict

    Posted by Mathew Borton on 12th August 2010 (All posts by )

    American forces withdrew at the end of 2015, leaving only a token force for training oversight. A short bloody civil war ensued with a faction of the Islamic extremists affiliated with the original Taliban quickly retaking the government. They consolidated their power over the next five years, bringing isolated tribal groups under control with an extreme interpretation of sharì’a law. Afghans see this turn of events not as a return to a life of repression, or even a triumph for Islam, but as a victory over another in a series of invading states and the triumph of nationalists over subjugation to a foreign nation under the regime of a puppet government. The current government was officially recognized by the United Nations in 2035, however the United States has only limited diplomatic relations to this day.

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