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  • What’s going on with the DNC and the Pakistanis ?

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 27th July 2017 (All posts by )

    The arrest of Imran Awan sets off a potential firestorm.

    Who is this guy ?

    For years, Imran Awan had access to the secret data and correspondence of many House committees, including foreign affairs. What did he do with it? As I said, that’s the worst case scenario (I guess).

    He refers to a possible link to the Pakistani ISI. The ISI has a very controversial history. Some of it concerns the Afghanistan Taliban.

    In documents leaked in April 2011 on the Wikileaks website, US authorities described the ISI as a “terrorist” organisation on a par with al-Qaeda and the Taliban.
    In the same month the US military’s top officer, Adm Mike Mullen, also accused the ISI of having links with the Taliban.
    He said it had a “long-standing relationship” with a militant group run by Afghan insurgent Jalaluddin Haqqani, which targets US troops in Afghanistan.

    What is the relationship between Awan and the Democrats in Congress ? Why did Debbie Wasserman Schultz keep paying his salary until he was arrested trying to flee the country ?

    Imran Awan was arrested at Dulles Airport on a bank fraud charge, and was found to have smashed hard drives in his possession.

    “It’s about everything that the Democrats and the media spent months… trying to prove [with] the Russia investigation,” he said.

    Steyn said Awan’s story involved a powerful political figure trying to interfere in a federal investigation.

    “We have actual criminal elements,” he said. “Everything they’ve been looking for is… staring them in the face with this mysterious guy.”

    Why did Schultz threaten the capitol police chief with “consequences” if her hard drive possessed by Awan was not returned to her ?

    DWS: It’s a simple yes or no answer. If a member loses equipment and it is found by your staff and identified as that member’s equipment and the member is not associated with any case, it is supposed to be returned. Yes or no.

    Chief Verderosa: It depends on the circumstances.

    DWS: I don’t understand how that is possible. Members’ equipment is members’ equipment. My understanding is the the Capitol Police is not able to confiscate members’ equipment when the member is not under investigation. It is their equipment and it is supposed to be returned.

    Chief Verderosa: I think there are extenuating circumstances in this case, and working through my counsel and the necessary personnel, if that in fact is the case, and with the permission of through the investigation, then we’ll return the equipment. But until that happens we can’t return the equipment.

    DWS: I think you’re violating the rules when you conduct your business that way and you should expect that there will be consequences.

    What “consequences?”

    Here are some thoughts about this:

    1. Why did Debbie Wasserman Schultz keep this man in her employ right up until he was arrested Tuesday night when he has been under suspicion for months. Does he have something on her or other people?

    2. Why did Nancy Pelosi lie when she said she never heard of Awan? Email revealed by Wikileaks says Awan had access to Pelosi’s iPad. (Wiklileaks has never been shown to be inaccurate.)

    3. What is on the smashed hard drives Awan is trying to retrieve from the FBI? (Oh, those Democrats and their hard drives.)

    4. Why is Awan suddenly being legally represented at the highest level by Clinton ultra-loyalist Chris Gowan — a fact-checker for Bill Clinton’s memoir of all things? (They are already using the same right-wing conspiracy baloney they used in the Lewinski case.) Does this make sense if Awan’s just a low-life fraudster? Why not let him dangle?

    5. Just what is the relationship, if any, between the Awan case and the unsolved Seth Rich murder? Is it entirely an accident that Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s brother Steven is accused of blocking the investigation? Denials from Debbie aren’t worth much anymore.

    6. Where did the Wikileaks come from anyway? Was it really Russia?

    And more questions.

    Key among the findings of the independent forensic investigations is the conclusion that the DNC data was copied onto a storage device at a speed that far exceeds an Internet capability for a remote hack. Of equal importance, the forensics show that the copying and doctoring were performed on the East coast of the U.S. Thus far, mainstream media have ignored the findings of these independent studies [see here and here].

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Afghanistan/Pakistan, Elections, Internet, National Security, Systems Analysis | 10 Comments »

    The ISIS Ramadan Massacre in Orlando

    Posted by Trent Telenko on 13th June 2016 (All posts by )

    It’s interesting watching the Main Stream and alternate media “world view bubbles” vie for the narrative following the ISIS Ramadan Massacre at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando. The Drudge Report, likely due to Drudge’s ties with the LGBT community in Florida, the UK Media, and blogs like THE LAST REFUGE (AKA The Conservative Treehouse), GATEWAYPUNDIT, AND DAILYPUNDIT drove American television media coverage in a way that effectively removed two days of official denial of Muslim terrorism in the previous San Bernadino ISIS attack time line. During this “vying for narrative” the Institutional Media and Official Government mask slipped and showed that this election is no longer about merely who will be President, but whether American political freedom will survive.

    These are the facts of the ISIS Ramadan Massacre in Orlando, as best I can gather.

    THE FACTS OF THE ISIS RAMADAN MASSACRE
    We know now from the 911 and a Bright House cable News 13 in Orlando call audio that some time before his 2:00 AM Sunday morning attack, OMAR MIR SEDDIQUE MATEEN announced he was pledging his allegiance to ISIS for the atrocity he was going to commit. Some time later (hours?!?) MATEEN began shooting his way past the police officer hired by Pulse Nightclub to guard the entrance to the club. This officer and two more who “rode to the sound of the gunfire” engaged MATEEN and were driven away by MATEEN’s superior weaponry, an AR-15 with “high capacity magazines” and apparently MATEEN’s superior marksmanship (more on this below).

    You cannot tell with media and police sources this early, but this implies that MATEEN’s magazines were something more than the US Army standard 20 and 30-round box clips. Aftermarket AR-15 large capacity clips and drums can be had with up to 100 rounds of 5.56mm ammunition. MATEEN’s ability to drive away three trained police officers, two of which arrived in a squad car that very likely had an AR-15 in the trunk, per mass shooter protocols, argues MATEEN ran the three police first responders out of ammunition.

    MATEEN then proceeded to kill 50 and wound 53 more people inside the crowded venue, and then, finally, to take hostages. It was unclear if the three police officers above engaged MATEEN inside PULSE or not. It is clear they were driven out of the Pulse, leaving those inside the venue to MATEEN’s mercy.

    And MATEEN had none.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Civil Liberties, Current Events, Internet, Islam, Law Enforcement, Leftism, Media, National Security, Obama, Politics, Rhetoric, RKBA, Terrorism, The Press, USA, War and Peace | 49 Comments »

    Obama as The Godfather.

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 7th October 2015 (All posts by )

    Richard Fernandez has an interesting take on Obama’s present foreign policy iteration. He sees himself as The Godfather negotiating among his capos and arranging the territories that each are allowed to possess.

    The White House is also exploring what could be a diplomatic blockbuster: possible new limits and controls on Pakistan’s nuclear weapons and delivery systems. Such an accord might eventually open a path toward a Pakistani version of the civil nuclear deal that was done with India in 2005….

    Pakistan prizes its nuclear program, so negotiations would be slow and difficult, and it’s not clear that Islamabad would be willing to accept the limitations that would be required. But the issue is being discussed quietly in the run-up to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s visit to Washington Oct. 22. Any progress would break a stalemate that has existed since the U.S. detected Pakistan’s nuclear program in the mid-1980s, and especially after Pakistan exploded its first weapon in 1998.

    This is behind our negotiations with the Taliban, which seems just as intent on upsetting Obama’s applecart as they ever were. No matter. Obama will keep negotiating. As Woody Allan once said of stockbrokers, “They invest your money and keep investing it until it is all gone.”

    David Ignatius seems to approve of this approach.

    The U.S. recognized more than four years ago that the best way out of the Afghanistan conflict would be a diplomatic settlement that involved the Taliban and its sometime sponsors in Pakistan. State Department officials have been conducting secret peace talks, on and off, since 2011. That effort hasn’t borne fruit yet, as the Taliban’s recent offensive in Kunduz shows.

    But the pace of negotiations has quickened this year, thanks to an unlikely U.S. diplomatic partnership with China. A senior administration official said Monday that “we’re hopeful that there will be a willingness on the part of the Taliban to resume negotiations,” despite the intense fighting in Kunduz and elsewhere. Beijing’s involvement is a “new dynamic” and shows an instance where “U.S. interests overlap with those of China.”

    Yes, China will pull our chestnuts out of this particular fire. We can trust the Chinese. After all, we trusted them with the OPM database management.

    It’s not just that the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) failed to certify nearly a quarter of its IT systems as secure.

    The real news is that outsourcing government IT tasks led to Chinese contract workers, and at least one person working in China, having root access to OPM systems.

    Having root access, of course, means having access to any data you want in the system – regardless of any security application that may protect the data against “unauthorized” users.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Afghanistan/Pakistan, Iran, Middle East, National Security, Russia | 13 Comments »

    Stanley McChrystal

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 13th June 2015 (All posts by )

    Hugh Hewitt interviewed General Stanley McCrystal on his radio show yesterday and the interview is pretty interesting. McCrystal has a memoir out called My Share of the Task and a new book on leadership called, Team of Teams.

    The discussion is pretty interesting. First of all, McCrystal was fired by Obama after a reporter printed a story about McCrystal’s officers disrespecting Obama.

    In a statement expressing praise for McChrystal yet certainty he had to go, Obama said he did not make the decision over any disagreement in policy or “out of any sense of personal insult.” Flanked by Vice President Joe Biden, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in the Rose Garden, he said: “War is bigger than any one man or woman, whether a private, a general, or a president.”

    Of course, it was Obama’s petulance and sense of outrage that anyone would think him less than competent.

    In the magazine article, McChrystal called the period last fall when the president was deciding whether to approve more troops “painful” and said the president appeared ready to hand him an “unsellable” position. McChrystal also said he was “betrayed” by Ambassador Karl Eikenberry, the man the White House chose to be his diplomatic partner in Afghanistan.
    He accused Eikenberry of raising doubts about Karzai only to give himself cover in case the U.S. effort failed. “Now, if we fail, they can say ‘I told you so,'” McChrystal told the magazine. And he was quoted mocking Vice President Joe Biden.

    McCrystal has emerged looking better and better and is obviously a great leader and general. Some of the interview’s insights into his leadership are worth repeating. I plan to read both books.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Afghanistan/Pakistan, Book Notes, Iran, Iraq, Management, Middle East, Military Affairs, Obama | 6 Comments »

    The Future of the Middle East

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 9th September 2014 (All posts by )

    The rise of ISIS seems to have caught the attention of hitherto oblivious segments of the US public. Cutting off the heads of western journalists seems to do that. What we are seeing is the total collapse of civilization in that part of the world.

    That is what civilizational decline looks like in real time. The roots of the crisis were visible four years ago before the so-called Arab Spring beguiled the foreign policy wonks. Hundreds of thousands of displaced Syrian farmers already were living in tent camps around Syrian cities before the Syrian civil war began in April 2011. Israeli analysts knew this. In March 2011 Paul Rivlin of Tel Aviv University released a study of the collapse of Syrian agriculture, widely cited in Arab media but unmentioned in the English language press (except my essay on the topic).

    The Syrian food crisis had a lot to do with the collapse of Syria.

    In response to the Tunisian and Egyptian uprisings, President Assad reduced taxes on oil and sugar, and cut import tariffs on basic foodstuffs. This action had unintended consequences. A blogger on the Syrian website sy-weather.com reports, “I spent fifteen days on formalities to reduce customs duties on some basic food items, but I have not seen a glimmer of hope on the horizon. This was supposed to reduce the prices of the targeted goods. On the contrary, a liter of oil that sold for 65 Syrian pounds [US$1.38] now sells for 85 pounds.” That’s an increase of 30% over the month. Other bloggers report that the prices of basic foodstuffs have risen by 25% to 30%.

    This has resulted in the presence of 14 million refugees with no hope of relief.

    When I wrote in 2011 that Islam was dying, this was precisely what I forecast. You can’t unscramble this egg. The international organizations, Bill Clinton, George Soros and other people of that ilk will draw up plans, propose funding, hold conferences and publish studies, to no avail. The raw despair of millions of people ripped out of the cocoon of traditional society, bereft of ties of kinship and custom, will feed the meatgrinder. Terrorist organizations that were hitherto less flamboyant (“moderate” is a misdesignation), e.g. the Muslim Brotherhood (and its Palestine branch Hamas), will compete with the caliphate for the loyalties of enraged young people. The delusion about Muslim democracy that afflicted utopians of both parties is now inoperative. War will end when the pool of prospective fighters has been exhausted.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Afghanistan/Pakistan, Current Events, History, Immigration, International Affairs, Iran, Iraq, Islam, Middle East, Politics, Terrorism | 19 Comments »

    Bergdahl, Father and Son.

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 5th June 2014 (All posts by )

    bergdahl

    The world got a little more bizarre this week. President Obama worked a trade that involved releasing five serious Taliban leaders in return for the freeing of an army deserter from Afghanistan. Bowe Bergdahl was a private who seems to have walked away from an outpost in Afghanistan and ended up with the Taliban. There are a number of stories surfacing from other members of his unit about his departure.

    The handling of the announcement has drawn considerable criticism from conservatives.

    The story of how the Bergdahls ended up at the White House is pure turnip-truck territory. According to Time:

    Their presence at the White House on Saturday was the apparent product of coincidence: the couple had visited the capitol for a Memorial Day event and then stayed in town for meetings in Congress. Had they been at home in Idaho when the deal was announced, they likely would not have flown to Washington to appear with Obama—and a key visual element of the drama, replayed endlessly on television, might not have occurred.

    Does anyone believe that ?

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Afghanistan/Pakistan, Iraq, Islam, Middle East, National Security, Obama | 38 Comments »

    Wag the Dog?

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 3rd June 2014 (All posts by )

    I know, it was a bitterly ironic movie, and the novel it was based upon was even more bitterly ironic (Trust me, I read the darned thing –eh – moderately funny, but I fear that the only thing that the move took away from it was the premise) but what we may have here *assuming Strother Martin voice* is called a failure to communicate. I mean the imbroglio with returning Bowe Bergdahl, the only recorded POW from the war in Afghanistan to the bosom of his family, after languishing in durance vile for five long years. Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Book Notes, Conservatism, Current Events, Islam, Military Affairs, Obama, Terrorism, The Press, USA, War and Peace | 19 Comments »

    Have we lost and is this why ?

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 30th May 2014 (All posts by )

    A new book by a retired army general explains that we lost the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Why ?

    I have had reservations about Iraq for years, at least since 2008.

    When President Bush convened a meeting of his National Security Council on May 22, 2003, his special envoy in Iraq made a statement that caught many of the participants by surprise. In a video presentation from Baghdad, L. Paul Bremer III informed the president and his aides that he was about to issue an order formally dissolving Iraq’s Army.

    I think that decision probably lost the post-invasion war. The other puzzle that was not explained until the recent book, Days of Fire explained it, was why Bremer was put in place of Jay Garner, who had done well with the Kurds.

    Garner began reconstruction efforts in March 2003 with plans aiming for Iraqis to hold elections within 90 days and for the U.S. to quickly pull troops out of the cities to a desert base. Talabani, a member of Jay Garner’s staff in Kuwait before the war, was consulted on several occasions to help the U.S. select a liberal Iraqi government; this would be the first liberal Government to exist in Iraq. In an interview with Time magazine, Garner stated that “as in any totalitarian regime, there were many people who needed to join the Baath Party in order to get ahead in their careers. We don’t have a problem with most of them. But we do have a problem with those who were part of the thug mechanism under Saddam. Once the U.S. identifies those in the second group, we will get rid of them.

    Had Garner continued with that policy, we might have been out of the cities in a few months instead of years, as was the case with Bremer.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Afghanistan/Pakistan, Book Notes, History, Iraq, Middle East, Military Affairs, Obama, Russia | 70 Comments »

    Afghanistan and Pakistan.

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 24th April 2014 (All posts by )

    I have been unhappy about our role in Afghanistan for several years. This goes back to at least 2009. Then there was this.

    Watching the last two weeks or so in the White House, gives me the sense that the decision is going to be the wrong one. There are three possible choices that Obama has; one is to take his hand-picked general’s advice and send 40,000 more troops. It will stress our military and the logistical challenges are serious. Afghanistan is land-locked and the neighbors are not friendly. Russia will try to create problems, as they already have in Kyrgyzstan. They do not want us to succeed yet they may fear total failure. In the meantime, they are making serious trouble.

    And then, this development.

    it’s an open secret the Taliban are headquartered across the border in the city of Quetta, Pakistan, where they operate openly under the aegis of Pakistani intelligence — and the financial sponsorship of the Saudis.

    Sending more troops to Afghanistan is a necessary, albeit unfortunate, rear-guard action against marauding Taliban fighters armed, trained, supplied and deployed from Quetta — and funded from Riyadh.

    NATO and U.S. military command know this. They’ve complained about it over and over in military action reports. So have Treasury officials regarding Saudi funding of the Taliban.

    “Saudi Arabia today remains the location where more money is going to terrorism — to Sunni terror groups and the Taliban — than any other place in the world,” testified Stuart Levey, Treasury undersecretary.

    This is Viet Nam all over again. The enemy has a sanctuary and our allies are siding secretly with our enemies.

    Well, today, there is another bit of information

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Afghanistan/Pakistan, Big Government, Conservatism, Current Events, Education, Immigration, Middle East, Statistics | 44 Comments »

    Who are they protecting us from ?

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 13th June 2013 (All posts by )

    The latest word on the NSA scandal, and it is a scandal, is that the FBI is not allowed to snoop on mosques.

    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.

    Oh wait.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Afghanistan/Pakistan, Anti-Americanism, Islam, Middle East, Military Affairs, Politics, Religion, Terrorism | 75 Comments »

    Iran May Have the Bomb

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 5th March 2013 (All posts by )

    A report suggests that the most recent North Korea nuclear test, which used Uranium, not Plutonium as in their others, may have been the Iranian bomb.

    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.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Afghanistan/Pakistan, Elections, International Affairs, Iran, Islam, Korea, Middle East, Military Affairs, Politics | 22 Comments »

    Reflections on the debate

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 6th October 2012 (All posts by )

    The reverberations are still going on after the Wednesday debate. The theme coming from the Obama campaign is that Romney did not tell the truth about his policies. Most of the discussion on the non-campaign left is like Bill Mahers’ who said “It looks like he took my million and spent it all on weed.”

    One of the most peculiar reactions was at the U of Wisconsin the next day. Hundreds of UW students were filing into an Obama on-campus campaign rally and were asked by a Breitbart writer if it was unfair that Obama couldn’t use his Teleprompter in the debate. Amazingly, most of the students agreed. What would a Teleprompter do ? Would they stop the debate for a few minutes while Obama’s handlers thought of a good response?

    The polls will take a few more days to show the response but already something is going on. A poll of Illinois’ 10th Congressional district last August was ignored but another poll now suggests that Illinois might be in play in this election.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Economics & Finance, Iran, Israel, Middle East, Obama, Politics | 8 Comments »

    The Ruins of Athens

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 11th July 2012 (All posts by )

    Actually, no – not the ruins of Athens … that’s a Beethoven piece that popped into my head – the Turkish March, from The Ruins of Athens … I’d always wondered in a desultory way, what would happen to me, if I played that classic music piece without comment, when I was stationed at EBS-Hellenikon, back in the day. I was never reckless enough to do the experiment and find out, actually. The Greeks were hair-trigger temperamental about any mention of Greece, Turkey, or the EEC (the forerunner to the EU) on the perilous airways of the American Forces Radio station where I worked – mostly on the swing and mid-shifts in the early 1980s. As exasperating and sometimes as deadly as the political stuff got during those years – and it did get deadly, for the N-14 organization and elements of the PLO were more or less targeting Americans on a regular basis – I loved Greece unreservedly. Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Anglosphere, Civil Society, History, Islam, Middle East, Religion | 9 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.”

    Update:

    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 »

    Afghanistan Links: Endstate

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

    Brig. Gen. H.R. McMaster’s Task Force Shafafiyat (Dari for “transparency”) is building and will put in place an integrated plan to tackle corruption in the Afghan government, largely circumventing individual leaders. Lieut. Gen. Bill Caldwell’s Herculean effort to train the Afghan military aims to “thicken” Afghan forces and deny sanctuaries within Afghanistan, slowly changing the perception of the fight among Afghans from what is essentially a civil conflict to a war against invaders trained by the Pakistani secret service.

    Nathaniel Fick, CNAS Commentary

    The military is, believe it or not, winning in the Helmand, Kandahar, and other provinces where they have left the FOB’s and at (sic) embedded in with the population. In the big scheme of things running the Taliban out of their southern hunting grounds is not going to solve that many problems. But if we concentrate on the military while continuing to fund and lavish attention of (sic) the Major Crimes Task Force while never deviating from our anti corruption message we could end up finding an acceptable endstate. Doing that requires solid vision, leadership, and planning from on high and that is currently a bridge too far for our national command authority.

    babatim, Free Range International

    Here’s the video of Monday’s Defining Success in Afghanistan panel discussion at American Enterprise Institute. I watched it live and thought it very informative and thought provoking – whether you completely agree with a particular view on the war or not.

    Dave Dilegge, Small Wars Journal

    Pay particular attention to GEN. Keane at around the one hour mark. His explanation of the differences between Iraq and Afghanistan (urban versus rural insurgency) and how to think about safe havens and sanctuary in the context of Afghanistan is very interesting.

    This paper presents a scenario for resolution of the Afghan conflict in a manner that achieves U.S. objectives in Afghanistan. This scenario takes the current U.S. approach as the starting point and adds 1) a more detailed theory of the conflict that highlights the political effects that must be achieved; 2) emphasis on bottom-up measures that can produce momentum in the short term, and 3) a political diplomatic strategy embraced and pursued in concert by the Afghan government, the United States and key international partners. Finally, the paper identifies requirements for a smaller follow-on military force to pave the way for a long-term advisory and assistance effort.

    Linda Robinson, Small Wars Journal

    UPDATE: I was actually very surprised at how similar the insurgent situation in OEF is to OIF (3-5 years ago). Reading through reports and listening to discussions, it was like deja-vu. I read/heard the same discussions and arguments I remember hearing in OIF years ago. Many of the same TTPs are being implemented – SLOWLY – in OEF and they are working. But, just like years ago in OIF, there are people who don’t believe these concepts will work. They will, I guarantee you, but not without the senior leadership implementing them. – commenter Todd at this SWJ thread. His comments are incredibly educational. I encourage you to read the entire comment.

    Posted in Afghanistan/Pakistan, International Affairs, Military Affairs, Terrorism | Comments Off on Afghanistan Links: Endstate

    Afghanistan, Egypt and Obama

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 30th January 2011 (All posts by )

    I have previously posted my opinion that Afghanistan is not worth the cost. I stated my reasons why we should leave here and here and here. Nothing has changed there but a lot is happening elsewhere in the Middle East.

    Egypt’s escalating tensions amount to the first real foreign crisis for the Obama administration that it did not inherit. The crisis serves as a test of Obama’s revamped White House operation. Daley, a former Commerce secretary in the Clinton administration, is now running a staff that is briefing Obama regularly on Egypt.

    They have handled it badly. This is a very dangerous time for us. The Egyptian Army seems to be siding with the protesters. That may or may not last.

    The left-wing Israeli newspaper Haaretz says that Egyptian army officers in Cairo’s central square have tossed aside their helmets and joined the crowd. “The Army and the people are one,” they chanted. MSNBC’s photoblog shows protesters jubilantly perched on M1A1 tanks. The real significance of these defections is that the army officers would not have done so had they not sensed which way the winds were blowing — in the Egyptian officer corps.

    And even as Mubarak tottered, the Saudi king threw his unequivocal backing behind the aging dictator — not hedging like Obama — but the Iranians continued to back the Egyptian protesters. The Saudi exchange tumbled 6.44% on news of unrest from Cairo. Meanwhile, the Voice of America reports that Israel is “extremely concerned” that events in Egypt could mean the end of the peace treaty between the two countries. If Mubarak isn’t finished already, a lot of regional actors are calculating like he might be.

    But Washington will not be hurried. The San Francisco Chronicle reports that President Obama will review his Middle Eastern policy after the unrest in Egypt subsides. The future, in whose spaces the administration believed its glories to lie, plans to review its past failures in the same expansive place. Yet time and oil wait for no one. Crude oil prices surged as the markets took the rapid developments in. U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu observed that any disruption to Middle East oil supplies “could actually bring real harm.”

    Of course, Mr Chu should not worry as we have wind and solar to take up the slack. Actually, we get our oil from Canada and Mexico but the price of oil shifts with the world’s supply.

    The present Obama commitment to Afghanistan is ironic since he promised to bring troops home but he has declared that Iraq was NOT necessary and Afghanistan is. This is slightly crazy. The Iraq invasion was an example of US power being applied in a critical location; right in the middle of the Middle East. Afghanistan is a remote tribal society reachable only through unreliable Pakistan. It has minimal effect on world events. We went there to punish the Taliban for harboring the people who attacked our country. Thousands of them have been killed. We have little of interest there now. We should have left last year.

    With a Shi’ite dominated government in Iraq, Hezbollah in Lebanon, and a Muslim Brotherhood that may keep Egypt in neutral or tacitly accept Teheran’s leadership, how could things possibly get worse?

    They can if Saudi Arabia starts to go. And what response can the U.S. offer? With U.S. combat power in landlocked Afghanistan and with the last U.S. combat forces having left Iraq in August 2010, the U.S. will have little on the ground but the State Department. “By October 2011, the US State Department will assume responsibility for training the Iraqi police and this task will largely be carried out by private contractors.” The bulk of American hard power will be locked up in secondary Southwest Asian theater, dependent on Pakistan to even reach the sea with their heavy equipment.

    This is not where we want to be. The problem is that Obama and Hillary and the rest of this administration have no concept of strategy.

    The Obama administration made fundamental strategic mistakes, whose consequences are now unfolding. As I wrote in the Ten Ships, a post which referenced the Japanese Carrier fleet which made up the strategic center of gravity of the enemy during the Pacific War, the center of gravity in the present crisis was always the Middle East. President Obama, by going after the criminals who “attacked America on 9/11” from their staging base was doing the equivalent of bombing the nameless patch of ocean 200 miles North of Oahu from which Nagumo launched his raid. But he was not going after the enemy center of gravity itself.

    For all of its defects the campaign in Iraq was at least in the right place: at the locus of oil, ideology and brutal regimes that are the Middle East. Ideally the campaign in Iraq would have a sent a wave of democratization through the area, undermined the attraction of radical Islam, provided a base from which to physically control oil if necessary. That the campaign failed to attain many of its objectives should not obscure the fact that its objectives were valid. It made far more strategic sense than fighting tribesmen in Afghanistan. Ideology, rogue regimes, energy are the three entities which have replaced the “ten ships” of 70 years ago. The means through which these three entities should be engaged ought to be the subject of reasoned debate, whether by military, economic or technological means. But the vital nature of these objectives ought not to be. Neutralize the intellectual appeal of radical Islam, topple the rogue regimes, and ease Western dependence on oil and you win the war. Yet their centrality, and even their existence is what the politicians constantly deny.

    Events are unfolding, but they have not yet run their course; things are still continuing to cascade. If the unrest spreads to the point where the Suez and regional oil fall into anti-Western hands, the consequences would be incalculable. The scale of the left’s folly: their insistence on drilling moratoriums, opposition to nuclear power, support of negotiations with dictators at all costs, calls for unilateral disarmament, addiction to debt and their barely disguised virulent anti-Semitism should be too manifest to deny.

    Leftism is making common cause with Islamic terrorism. Why ? I don’t really know. Some of it may be the caricature of Jews making money and being good at business. Some may simply be the extension of animosity to Israel extending to all Jews. The people behind Obama are not free of these sentiments. His Justice Department is filled with lawyers who defended terrorists at Guantanamo. Holder seems uninterested in voting rights cases if a black is the offender. He was even unwilling to say that Islamic terrorism was behind 9/11.

    Because it will hit them where it hurts, in the lifestyle they somehow thought came from some permanent Western prosperity that was beyond the power of their fecklessness to destroy. It will be interesting to see if anyone can fill up their cars with carbon credits when the oil tankers stop coming or when black gold is marked at $500 a barrel. It is even possible that within a relatively short time the only government left friendly to Washington in the Middle East may be Iraq. There is some irony in that, but it is unlikely to be appreciated.

    I would add a bit to this from one of my favorite essays on the topic. It compares Gorbachev to Obama.

    Nor are the two men, themselves, remotely comparable in their backgrounds, or political outlook. Gorbachev, for instance, had come up from tractor driver, not through elite schools including Harvard Law; he lacked the narcissism that constantly seeks self-reflection through microphones and cameras, or the sense that everything is about him.

    On the other hand, some interesting comparisons could be made between the thuggish party machine of Chicago, which raised Obama as its golden boy; and the thuggish party machine of Moscow, which presented Gorbachev as its most attractive face.

    Both men have been praised for their wonderful temperaments, and their ability to remain unperturbed by approaching catastrophe. But again, the substance is different, for Gorbachev’s temperament was that of a survivor of many previous catastrophes.

    Yet they do have one major thing in common, and that is the belief that, regardless of what the ruler does, the polity he rules must necessarily continue. This is perhaps the most essential, if seldom acknowledged, insight of the post-modern “liberal” mind: that if you take the pillars away, the roof will continue to hover in the air.

    In another passage:

    There is a corollary of this largely unspoken assumption: that no matter what you do to one part of a machine, the rest of the machine will continue to function normally.

    A variant of this is the frequently expressed denial of the law of unintended consequences: the belief that, if the effect you intend is good, the actual effect must be similarly happy.

    Very small children, the mad, and certain extinct primitive tribes, have shared in this belief system, but only the fully college-educated liberal has the vocabulary to make it sound plausible.

    With an incredible rapidity, America’s status as the world’s pre-eminent superpower is now passing away. This is a function both of the nearly systematic abandonment of U.S. interests and allies overseas, with metastasizing debt and bureaucracy on the home front.

    The turmoil in Egypt is a test that, I fear, Obama and his Secretary of State, will not pass.

    Posted in Afghanistan/Pakistan, Anti-Americanism, Economics & Finance, Energy & Power Generation, History, International Affairs, Iran, Iraq, Islam, Leftism, Middle East, National Security, Obama, Politics, Terrorism | 1 Comment »

    The Super Sweet Strategery of Strategic Depth

    Posted by onparkstreet on 5th January 2011 (All posts by )

    Pakistan’s beliefs in the value of seeking strategic depth in Afghanistan were influenced by two factors. The support it received from the U.S. in waging an armed response against the Soviet occupation triggered the belief. The success of that endeavour with no apparent costs to itself, gave Islamabad the illusion of being able to play a major role in the geo-politics of Central Asia. This more than anything else led to the belief that Afghanistan provided the strategic leverage Pakistan had long been seeking. The energy-rich Muslim states of Central Asia beckoned both Pakistan and the energy-seeking multi-nationals. Iran’s standing up to western pressures was proving an obstacle to long-term plans for energy extraction from the region. Afghanistan offered both shorter energy routing and political control through Pakistan.

    V. R. Raghavan (The Hindu, 2001)

    Pakistan’s intelligence agency, the ISI, “wants a reliable proxy that has territorial control of the P2K area,” Mr. Dressler adds. This desire is the result of Pakistan’s historic conflict with India. “If India comes across the border, Pakistan can fall back into Afghanistan and drive them out. It’s about strategic depth vis-à-vis India. As long as that continues to be a driving concern, Pakistan’s support for the Haqqani network will continue.”

    The Christian Science Monitor (via Small Wars Journal)

    A highly plausible future scenario indeed (regarding the second quoted item). In the event that the Indians decide on a massive ground invasion into Pakistan and march sturdily through the landscape of jihadi-networks and scattering Pakistani troops – with nary a nuke in sight and the US sitting idly by – it sounds like a winner of a strategy. The supply lines to the Indians will, of course, be Bollywood unicorns pooping ammunition and some sort of MREs.

    On the other hand, serious people seem to take Pakistani strategic depth worries seriously. The Indians are forever being told that they must take Pakistani fears of regional encroachment into account so that the United States (ISAF) may have a negotiated settlement in Afghanistan that is stable. Although….

    My basic point, lost in the midst of all of those excerpts, is that despite having “full” strategic depth in Afghanistan during the time period of the Kargil War, a conflict occurred between the two.

    – from a comment I made in this thread at Small Wars Journal (regarding the theory that strategic depth in Afghanistan may prevent conflict between India and Pakistan).

    I think a strategy that brings about the very thing you claim to be worried about (the Indians in Afghanistan with ISAF supporting a reasonably India-friendly government) seems like a loser to me. Want to see the math?

    1. Pakistan supports the Taliban in Afghanistan for purposes of “strategic depth.”
    2. The Taliban invites in Al Q.
    3. 9-11 happens and Americans and others are murdered.
    4. Americans invade Afghanistan.
    5. India follows with the rest of the development crowd….

    See? A loser of a strategy in terms of the vaunted s.d.

    What say you ChicagoBoyz commenters? Have I got it totally wrong? Am I a total paranoid? A partial paranoid? Leave a comment below if you must….

    PS: I always enjoy reading Max Boot at Contentions but, er….?

    The United States can influence the choice only at the margins, but we must do what we can to signal to the army leadership that we will stand behind them if they decide to do more to take on the radicals. In this connection, it is highly useful that President Obama has agreed to NATO’s timeline not to transition security responsibility in Afghanistan until 2014. That should put to rest some immediate concerns about America’s fickleness as an ally and reassure the Pakistani army that we will stand with the forces of moderation in Pakistan should they do more to battle the growing religious extremism that threatens the very survival of the state.

    Respectfully, the Army is not a force of moderation. They are following a long-cherished regional strategic plan that has nothing to do with our alleged “fickleness.” Given China’s monetary support of the regime, I wager the Pakistani Army/ISI will continue to think they can play various networks to their advantage. 2014 or no. Sorry to be so cynical. I hope I am wrong.

    Posted in Afghanistan/Pakistan, India, International Affairs, Military Affairs, National Security, Politics, Quotations, Terrorism, War and Peace | 12 Comments »

    Responses

    Posted by onparkstreet on 4th December 2010 (All posts by )

    Cromagnum, in response to my post on Chesterton, has posted a useful and informative comment here. It reads, in part (an excerpt from Eugenics and Other Evils follows):

    The Socialist system, in a more special sense than any other, is founded not on optimism but on original sin. It proposes that the State, as the conscience of the community, should possess all primary forms of property; and that obviously on the ground that men cannot be trusted to own or barter or combine or compete without injury to themselves. Just as a State might own all the guns lest people should shoot each other, so this State would own all the gold and land lest they should cheat or rackrent or exploit each other. It seems extraordinarily simple and even obvious; and so it is. It is too obvious to be true. But while it is obvious, it seems almost incredible that anybody ever thought it optimistic.

    Pundita has written a tour de force response to my post on Senator Richard Lugar: “Wikileaks plus first disbursements from 2009 US aid bill for Pakistan already under scrutiny for graft. Senator Richard Lugar please take note.”

    In a wide ranging post, she makes note of three key issues:

    1. Congressional oversight: If you’re having a hard time wrapping your mind around the concept that vital information would be withheld from key congressional defense/intelligence committees — which can’t make informed recommendations without such data — while thousands of low-level civilian government and military employees had access to the data, you should listen to the interview; it’s enough to make your blood boil if you’re an American.

    2. Allegations of corruption in the distribution of aid monies: Two months after his remarks came the news that even the first small disbursements were already in trouble due to charges of corruption. Because aid monies disbursed to the Pakistani government become the sovereign property of the government and thus immune to oversight the 2009 aid bill aimed to get around the problem by disbursing the money to NGOs. The workaround simply opened another avenue for graft:

    3. The sometimes head-scratching priorities and decision-making of American officials: Yet the revelation doesn’t fully explain why the U.S. military and executive and congressional branches have consistently made bad calls on Pakistan because this has been going on for more than a half century — ever since the U.S. first became involved with Pakistan. Yet these bad calls weren’t seen as such until NATO floundered in Afghanistan. That finally put a crimp in the style of Washington’s anti-Russia crowd but over decades the crowd and its counterpart in Europe looked the other way while Pakistan ran riot because they saw the country as a weapon first against the Soviet Union then against Russia.

    No matter who wins the presidential election in 2012, I wager that many of the structural problems that have plagued our foreign policy in recent years will remain. One of the most appealing aspects of the Tea Party movement is its “pay attention!” ethos. Complain about elites all you want, they can’t cause so many problems if we citizens are performing our own oversight functions.

    Update: Thanks for the link, Professor Reynolds!

    There are some very good comments in the comments section. I will try and respond more fully at a later date.

    Posted in Afghanistan/Pakistan, Arts & Letters, Bioethics, Book Notes, Christianity, Civil Society, Conservatism, Elections, International Affairs, Military Affairs, Morality and Philosphy, Philosophy, Society | 10 Comments »

    A bin Laden October surprise ?

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 29th October 2010 (All posts by )

    The 2004 Madrid train bombings occurred the week of a national election and cost Prime Minister Aznar his job. This was widely seen as punishment for Spain’s participation in Iraq and the new Socialist government quickly turned tail and fled.

    Last week, a UPS cargo flight crashed in Dubai because of a fire in the cargo hold, thought to be caused by lithium batteries. Now, we see several more instances of UPS planes with potential bombs hidden in altered ink cartridges.

    Is this bin Laden telling us that he can still do damage from his palatial home in Pakistan ? I think this is just the beginning of this story.

    Posted in Elections, Iraq, Middle East, National Security, Politics, Terrorism | 2 Comments »

    How you move stuff around is an interesting topic, isn’t it?

    Posted by onparkstreet on 3rd October 2010 (All posts by )

    China has shown interest in the construction of two railway lines—-one in Pakistan via the Gilgit-Baltistan region and the other in Afghanistan. While the railway line through Gilgit-Baltistan, ultimately extending up to Gwadar on the Mekran coast, will meet the external trade requirements of Chinese-controlled Xinjiang and other regions of Western China, the proposed line in Afghanistan will meet the requirements of a copper mine which China is developing in the Aynak area in Afghanistan.

    – Raman’s Strategic Analysis

    8. However, because of the alternate routes through the CARs being developed by them and their ability for air-lift from Bahrain, they are able to manage despite the increasing attacks on the convoys in Pakistani territory. When the US and other NATO forces start thinning down their presence in Afghanistan, the Afghan National Army (ANA) would not enjoy these benefits. The Pakistan Army and the Taliban acting in tandem would be able to choke the ANA by interfering with its logistic supplies. Even if the US plays a diminishing role in ground operations after July 2011, it cannot reduce its logistics role in support of the ANA. Otherwise, the ANA could collapse.

    – Raman’s Strategic Analysis

    Although the Chahbahar port has been an Indian project for some time, the Iranian side has been notoriously lax in keeping to its end of the bargain.

    The port is strategically important — serving as the entry point for India’s outreach into Afghanistan and Central Asia, bypassing Pakistan. For this purpose, India also spent a lot of money and human lives to build the Zaranj-Delaram road in Afghanistan’s Nimroz province, which was intended to link up with the Chahbahar port. But establishing those linkages turned out to be more difficult than India imagined. The political situation in Iran over the past year has scarcely helped.

    Times of India

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Afghanistan/Pakistan, China, Economics & Finance, India, Iran | 11 Comments »

    Afghanistan links

    Posted by onparkstreet on 22nd September 2010 (All posts by )

    In the past ten months there has been measured progress in the Afghan National Security Force (ANSF); in quality as well as quantity. Since last November, NATO Training Mission Afghanistan has supported the Afghan Ministries of Interior and Defense to recruit, train and assign over 100,000 soldiers and police, an incredible feat. To achieve this, the training capacity was increased, moving from under 10,000 seats for police training alone to almost 15,000.

    William Caldwell (Small Wars Journal)

    The NGO community in Afghanistan has grown into an industry where a large part of aid budgets is spent on security, and money gets frittered away on pointless projects. Afghans are becoming increasingly skeptical about the foreign organizations that are supposed to be rebuilding their country.

    Der Spiegel (via RealClearWorld)

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Afghanistan/Pakistan, International Affairs, Military Affairs | 10 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 »

    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.

    100527_5-Afghanistan-69-v1

    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.

    100527_19-Afghanistan-148

    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.

    100527_9-Afghanistan-73

    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.

    1977

    *

    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 »

    The best war correspondent since Ernie Pyle ?

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 22nd June 2010 (All posts by )

    When I was about 10 years old, my parents had a copy of Ernie Pyle’s book about his life in World War II. I read it and was impressed, inexperienced as I was. Ernie Pyle was killed by a sniper at Okinawa. There were great war correspondents in Korea. I remember Marguerite Higgins, who was probably the model for the woman war correspondent in WEB Griffin’s books about that war. The later reporters in Vietnam, from what I know, spent most of their time in Saigon. Higgins was walking next to Robert Capa, the greatest war photographer, when he stepped on the land mine that killed him. She didn’t hang around bars.

    The only real war correspondent I know of now is Michael Yon. I read his book, Moment of Truth in Iraq and wrote a review. The only other book that compares with it is Bing West’s The Strongest Tribe but this is because West can add a lot of background from his long history going back to Vietnam. Yon had his troubles, mostly with officious PA officers in Iraq, but has had strong support from the soldiers.

    With Iraq winding down, he went next to Afghanistan. Most of his reporting has been on his blog or, more recently, on his facebook page. He has had a lot of trouble with the generals in Afghanistan. Some of us who have doubts about the progress and the chances for success, tend to take his side. He was suddenly expelled from his embed with a US unit several weeks ago. Many of us believed this was due to his harsh criticism of the Canadian general who commanded the sector where a critical bridge that had been left unprotected, was blown up by the Taliban.

    Please stay with me. This matters.

    And so it goes like this:

    Major General Nick Carter (UK) commands RC-South.

    Brigadier General Daniel Menard (Canada) commands Task Force Kandahar.

    Under BG Menard’s command are three U.S. Battalions and just over 2,800 Canadian forces. (U.S. battalions: 1-12 Infantry Reg.; 2-508th Parachute Infantry Regiment; 97th Military Police Battalion). American combat forces comprise a substantial portion of Menard’s force structure, leaving his command and Canadian civilian leadership open to fair scrutiny, just as American leadership is open to Canadian inquiry. Moreover, while Canada increasingly shies from combat, American units under Canadian command will spill blood under Canadian military leadership that answers to Ottawa.

    Kandahar Province is apportioned into battle spaces. As mentioned, TF-Stryker has responsibilities that include Spin Boldak and FOM on Highway 4 that crosses the Tarnak River Bridge. TF-Stryker, however, is not responsible for the bridge itself.

    The British Royal Air Force (RAF) is responsible for something called the GDA. The GDA is the Ground Defense Area, and is responsible for security immediately around KAF. By all accounts, the RAF is doing a fine job. The GDA includes the area around the Tarnak River Bridge.

    TF-K is responsible for Kandahar, but the specific area of the bridge belongs to the RAF. However, the bridge itself is guarded not by RAF but by ANP (Afghan National Police) mentored by the American 97th MPs. The 97th is under Canadian command through TF-K. And so, at the time of the attack, TF-K was responsible for the physical security on the bridge itself, while GDA had responsibility for the land around the bridge.

    Which Coalition partner has final responsibility for this strategic bridge? Is it the RAF who “own” the ground, or TF-K who mentor the ANP guarding the bridge? If an officer were to say this vital bridge is solely the responsibility of the ANP, his judgment would be deemed unsound.

    This kind of frankness got him expelled. He was accused of releasing names of KIA before families had been notified. He was accused of disclosing security information that violated OPSEC. None of this was true.

    The general who got him expelled ? He was court martialed and convicted. Not for the bridge incident but for other offenses.

    The other general Yon has been very critical of is McChrystal.

    he writes, “McChrystal is bent over the coffin of the Afghan war with a hammer in his hand and a mouth full of nails”? When asked for his thoughts on the general state of the war, he says one must be intuitive rather than deductive. “Innumerable wild cards are always flying and so the best that one can do is study hard and watch and listen and give it time to mix.” If a reliance on feelings alone is hardly the metric from which one should draft a war plan, consider the recent words of General McChrystal. The purpose of the Marjah operation was to create an “irreversible feeling of momentum,” but, “You don’t feel it here but I’ll tell you, it’s a bleeding ulcer outside.”

    Yon believes the war can still be won, but that a change of command is in order. At this level of warfare, he says, “McChrystal is like a man who has strapped on ice skates for the first time. He might be a great athlete, but he’s learning to skate during the Olympics.” Yon adds that publicly denouncing the commanding general of a war is not an easy thing for him to do, especially considering it means crossing swords with General Petraeus and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, two men he greatly admires. Indeed, if anyone can turn this war around, Yon believes it is General Petraeus. He concedes such a return to the battlefield is unlikely, and suggests another general whose name fewer people have heard. “General James Mattis from the Marines. I get a good feeling about Mattis but I don’t know. General Petraeus is a known entity and he is solid gold.”

    Now, we have the new developments with McChrystal. If you want to know what is happening, read Michael Yon.

    Posted in Afghanistan/Pakistan, Iraq, Military Affairs | 5 Comments »

    “Under a dusty hospital tent where doctors yell over the roar of jet engines, Dr. John York studied an electronic image of a blood vessel in the neck of a soldier wounded by an improvised bomb. It looked like a balloon ready to pop.”

    Posted by onparkstreet on 4th April 2010 (All posts by )

    “Under a dusty hospital tent where doctors yell over the roar of jet engines, Dr. John York studied an electronic image of a blood vessel in the neck of a soldier wounded by an improvised bomb. It looked like a balloon ready to pop. Too delicate to operate on directly. Dr. York would have to try a procedure that had rarely been attempted so close to a battlefield.” – Alan Cullison, Wall Street Journal

    First-rate article in the WSJ. (via Abu Muqawama Twitter feed)

    I attended a conference a couple of weeks ago, where I had the chance to hear a few military surgeons discuss their experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan. Amazing work being done.

    Posted in Afghanistan/Pakistan, Iraq | Comments Off on “Under a dusty hospital tent where doctors yell over the roar of jet engines, Dr. John York studied an electronic image of a blood vessel in the neck of a soldier wounded by an improvised bomb. It looked like a balloon ready to pop.”