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 Post subject: A deadly delay
PostPosted: Thu Sep 24, 2009 7:01 pm 
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Gradually, the British media is absorbing the implications on the McChrystal assessment, and the political ramifications surrounding it, and we are beginning to see some in-depth reports. The Times for instance, is running a six-part series on Afghanistan, the latest dealing with the battle for "hearts and minds" on the home front, picking up on a theme it rehearsed in July.

View full article here

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 Post subject: Re: A deadly delay
PostPosted: Thu Sep 24, 2009 8:02 pm 
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What (only in my opinion) you're really saying is that the chicken and the egg both have to come first!
Well the chicken is a cock(up) & the egg is parson's at best.
This simple soul thinks that if we really have to stay, the Taliban must be conclusively defeated before any construction (hearts & minds) can be achieved...and that is definitely not on unless we prosecute a total war beloved of Dr.Goebbels...and that is definitely not on either because who in their right mind would countenance it, seeing that we no longer have the necessary ruthlessness.
We are absolute aliens to the Afghans...who have a long history of getting rid of such aberrations...no matter how long it takes. If the Taliban prove unpalatable to them they will get shot of them too.
Stop cracking on, chaps...do the right thing: Declare a moral victory & get out soonest...but leave the Ferris Wheel behind...I'm sure they'll find a use for it.
Oh!...and if you want their farmers to stop growing poppies, legalize the product.

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 Post subject: Re: A deadly delay
PostPosted: Thu Sep 24, 2009 8:04 pm 
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One thing the media needs to get to grips with if they want to influence the decision makers is the distinctions between Afghanistan, the Pashtuns, the Pashtun tribes (such as the Durrani and Ghilzai) the Taliban and Al Qaeda.

If you don't have a clue about how to think about those basic distinctions which are very real in the politics of that region you don't have a clue about the conflict. We have been imposing romantic Western views of the way politics works to that region which simply do not exist there.

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 Post subject: Re: A deadly delay
PostPosted: Thu Sep 24, 2009 8:29 pm 

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Quote:
..., "less characteristically", Barack Obama appear irresponsibly indecisive. ...


LESS CHARACTERISTICALLY?????? What has he been watching? Obama has waffled and hemmed and hawed through his entire time to date. Irrresponsibly indecisive is Obama to a tee! PDT_Armataz_01_19

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 Post subject: Re: A deadly delay
PostPosted: Thu Sep 24, 2009 8:57 pm 
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AlanC wrote:
Quote:
..., "less characteristically", Barack Obama appear irresponsibly indecisive. ...


LESS CHARACTERISTICALLY?????? What has he been watching? Obama has waffled and hemmed and hawed through his entire time to date. Irrresponsibly indecisive is Obama to a tee! PDT_Armataz_01_19


His words, not mine ... that's why I put it in inverted commas.

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 Post subject: Re: A deadly delay
PostPosted: Thu Sep 24, 2009 8:59 pm 
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therewaslight wrote:
One thing the media needs to get to grips with if they want to influence the decision makers is the distinctions between Afghanistan, the Pashtuns, the Pashtun tribes (such as the Durrani and Ghilzai) the Taliban and Al Qaeda.

If you don't have a clue about how to think about those basic distinctions which are very real in the politics of that region you don't have a clue about the conflict. We have been imposing romantic Western views of the way politics works to that region which simply do not exist there.


This is the way I see it ...

1. Having cleared out al Qaeda from Afghanistan, we now want to ensure that the country does not again become a haven for international terrorism.

2. Our method has been to establish a sympathetic and pliant government to replace the Taleban which had been hosting al Qaeda.

3. The Taleban have reacted by seeking to overthrow our preferred government, which is too weak and impoverished to resist the insurgency.

4. We have had to intervene to bolster our preferred government, seeking to develop it so that it has the reach that extends over the whole of Afghanistan, with sufficient authority and capability to compete with and destroy Taleban concentrations which challenge its authority.

5. While doing this, since the government is too weak to do the job itself, we are impelled to fight the Taleban, to stop it deposing our preferred government.

6. Since that government can, in the long-term, only survive with the popular support of the people, we are impelled to carry out measures to strengthen it and attempt to increase its popular appeal, in an attempt to convince the Afghani people that our preferred government is one they want as well.

7. Those measures have had the effect of alienating the people and strengthening the Taleban, while our preferred government is, if anything, weaker than when it started.

8. As a result, we are impelled to provide even more troops and to intensify the fight against the Taleban.

9. Repeat 6-8 for as long as it takes for the peoples and governments of the troop supplying countries to lose patience and pull out.

10. The Teleban - possibly reinvented under a different name - take control of Afghanistan. Civil war breaks out and al Qaeda move back in.

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 Post subject: Re: A deadly delay
PostPosted: Thu Sep 24, 2009 9:22 pm 
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Civil war breaks out and al Qaeda move back in.

Yep...civil war no doubt allowing for the fact that someone somewhere in the country is always fighting someone else...it's a sort of fun status quo...'Westworld' in baggy pants with foreigners welcome if they want to play but kicked out if they try to impose rules.
But "al Queda move back in"? Why? They're relatively happy in northern Pakistan brollied by the SIS and can, in any case, set up shop in any Islam oriented country with either a weak or non-existent government.

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 Post subject: Re: A deadly delay
PostPosted: Thu Sep 24, 2009 9:48 pm 
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RAENORTH wrote:
This is the way I see it ...

1. Having cleared out al Qaeda from Afghanistan, we now want to ensure that the country does not again become a haven for international terrorism.


It certainly was about clearing out al Qaeda and that's what we did. But if we're worried about haven's for terrorism why aren't we across the border in Pakistan, in Indonesia, Algeria and Somalia? And surely since Afghanistan produced the Taliban we don't want to be making another Afghanistan.

Perhaps the problem is America doesn't plan to stay and so wants the quickest solution. When the British were fighting wars in that region and they drew up the Durrand line (Afghan-Pak border) they did so because that suited the security of British interests in India. Since the British planned to stay and rule as colonialists they were forced to think harder about the real relationships between the people there. In the end they chose to divide and rule the Pashtuns. In fact, the British managed to get Pashtuns to fight other Pashtuns, which is something the ISAF have so far failed to do because since the US isn't staying it just wants to get out as status quo ante as possible.

Quote:
2. Our method has been to establish a sympathetic and pliant government to replace the Taleban which had been hosting al Qaeda.


On a tribal level to rope in the Durrani Pashtun into a multi-ethnic state with the Uzbeks and Tajiks against the Ghilzai Pashtun and their followers, some of whom are Durrani.

The Ghilzai / Taliban, and other non-Ghilzai tribes, are hosting al Qaeda because it is pashtunwali custom to honor guests and give them protection. Something which the Durrani Pashtun might be doing for the Taliban in Helmand. Pashtunwali is not like baathism... that can be subject to a process of de-pashtunwalification. It's a bottom up societal, not an elitist top down culture.

Quote:
3. The Taleban have reacted by seeking to overthrow our preferred government, which is too weak and impoverished to resist the insurgency.


The Afghani government has no sense of unity because it is multi-ethnic, they all think along ethnic lines. They want a fair slice of the cake. It's never going to be strong and unified no matter what leader you have, unless it is completely dominated by one of the ethnic groups. That is how al Qaeda got a foothold in Afghanistan - after the Soviets withdraw they helped the Pashtun win the ethnic battle for control of the Afghan state.

Quote:
4. We have had to intervene to bolster our preferred government, seeking to develop it so that it has the reach that extends over the whole of Afghanistan, with sufficient authority and capability to compete with and destroy Taleban concentrations which challenge its authority.


If it was a strong, unified government we shouldn't have to intervene. That it's not shows that we're wrong from the very first principles.

The Taliban cannot be divorced from the Pashtun group which comprises it. A war on the Taliban is a war on the Pashtun - that is, until, like the British did years ago, we get Pashtun fighting the Pashtun. Then we might reach an acceptable stalemate.
Quote:
5. While doing this, since the government is too weak to do the job itself, we are impelled to fight the Taleban, to stop it deposing our preferred government.

Why can the Taliban do that? Because it's not just an Islamist vehicle, it's a Pashtun vehicle.
Quote:
6. Since that government can, in the long-term, only survive with the popular support of the people, we are impelled to carry out measures to strengthen it and attempt to increase its popular appeal, in an attempt to convince the Afghani people that our preferred government is one they want as well.


Those people don't think of themselves as "Afghans". They think of themselves as their ethnicities. The "Afghan" is something they are not. It's a carpet, under which the real issues have been swept. Historically the term "Afghan" only ever applied to the Durrani Pashtun.
Quote:
7. Those measures have had the effect of alienating the people and strengthening the Taleban, while our preferred government is, if anything, weaker than when it started.


Look at history there's never been a strong multi-ethnic Afghan government. That's the norm. Take away the stabilisers, the show goes off the road.
Quote:
8. As a result, we are impelled to provide even more troops and to intensify the fight against the Taleban.


If you haven't a clue what's going on.
Quote:
9. Repeat 6-8 for as long as it takes for the peoples and governments of the troop supplying countries to lose patience and pull out

10. The Teleban - possibly reinvented under a different name - take control of Afghanistan. Civil war breaks out and al Qaeda move back in.


I don't think the Taliban will require a new name unless it ever becomes truly unpopular with the Pashtuns.

Remember Al Qaeda helped the Taliban win control of Afghanistan. In the 1990s the Taliban united the Pashtuns in the Pashtun areas but when al Qaeda arrived they took control of much more of the north and al Qaeda assassinated the Tajik mujahidin commander Ahmed Shah Massood before 9/11 eliminating a popular figurehead of opposition to the Taliban.

If the ISAF set up camp in the non-Pashtun regions and allow the non-Taliban Pashtun to control the Pashtun region, the non-Pashtun regions will be secure and the Pashtun will start fighting each other, like they did for the British Empire but haven't yet done for the ISAF (virtually zero Pashtun units in the ANA).

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 Post subject: Re: A deadly delay
PostPosted: Thu Sep 24, 2009 10:09 pm 
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From the Afghanistan entry of the Encyclopedia Britannica, edition 1929

Quote:
People - The term Afghan really applies to one section only of the people, but this is the dominant section known as the Durani. The Ghilzai (almost as powerful as the Durani) claim to be of Turkish origin; the Hazaras, the Chahar-Aimak, Tajiks, Uzbegs, Kafirs and others are more or less subject races. Popularly any inhabitant of Afghanistan is known as Afghan on the Indian frontier without distinction of origin or language; but the language division between the Parsiwan (or Persian-speaking Afghan) and the Pathan of the Indian frontier is a very distinct one. The predominance of the Afghan [ed. i.e. Durani] in Afghanistan dates from the mid-18th century, when Ahmed Shah carved out Afghanistan from the previous conquests of Nadir Shah and called it the Durani empire.
The Durani Afghans claim to be Ben-i-Israel, and insist on their descent from tribes carried away captive from Palestine to Media by Nebuchadrezzar. Yet they also claim to be Pukhtun (or Pathan) in common with all other Pushtu-speaking tribes, whom they do not admit to be Afghan. The bond of affinity between the various peoples who compose the Pathan community is simply the bond of common language. All of them recognize a common code or unwritten law called Pukhtunwali, which appears to be similar in general character to the old Hebraic law, though modified by Mohammedan ordinances, and strangely similar in some points to Rajput custom. Besides their division into clans and tribes, the whole Afghan people may be divided into dwellers in tents [ed. Nomads] and dwellers in houses [ed. Agrarian]; and this division is apparently not coincident with tribal divisions, for of several of the great clans at least a part is nomad and a part settled. Such is the case with the Durani and with the Ghilzai [ed. presumably the Nomad Durani are Taliban].

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 Post subject: Re: A deadly delay
PostPosted: Fri Sep 25, 2009 9:48 am 

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Quote:
10. The Teleban - possibly reinvented under a different name - take control of Afghanistan. Civil war breaks out and al Qaeda move back in.



I don't think the Taliban will require a new name unless it ever becomes truly unpopular with the Pashtuns.


Mixup. The Taliban is a catchall name for various opposition groups all with different agendas in Afghanistan.

The Teleban is the BBC.


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 Post subject: Re: A deadly delay
PostPosted: Fri Sep 25, 2009 4:51 pm 

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Richard, I know that the quote with which I drew issue was not from you. That's why I asked "What was HE watching" not "What were YOU watching". Probably should have used the proper name rather than the pronoun to avoid confusion.

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 Post subject: Re: A deadly delay
PostPosted: Fri Sep 25, 2009 4:58 pm 
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I wonder what Dr. North thinks about Tehrik-i-Taliban which was formed in late 2007 in Waziristan, which is inside Pakistan.

The way I look at it the Taliban in Afghanistan is lead by the Ghilzai Pashtun tribe of its founder Mullah Omar. The original Taliban has an alliance with clans of other tribes down the chain of heirarchy (such as nomadic Duranis).

Tehrik-i-Taliban was founded in Pakistan by Baitullah Mesud, a Waziri Pashtun. Like the Ghilzai, the Waziri are nomads who have an infamous reputation for quarreling.

If the Taliban were one coherent movement that responded to religious ideology there would be no need for Tehrik-i-Taliban. If, on the other hand, Taliban is a manifestation of tribal differences, then should we start picking up a few Pashtun tribes for our team, pronto?

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 Post subject: Re: A deadly delay
PostPosted: Fri Sep 25, 2009 11:44 pm 
Quote: Only then does he moves on to tell us that building the Afghan state - its education and health services, alternative livelihoods to drugs and a strong legal system - will give the people a better future than the one offered by the Taleban.

In effect we may have victory in Afghanistan if we provide livelihood, hospitals, social security, infrastructure, and all the rest, to all Afghans, forever and a day.

It is never acknowledged that Afghans have their own culture, based on Islam, which they would like to preserve. Only recently the supreme court in Afghanistan upheld sharia punishment for blasphemy, and Afghan President Karzai recently signed a Sharia based law that legalizes Shiite marital rape. This is what Afghans want, and we should respect their desire to have their own culture. Trying to bribe them, for that is what "hearts and minds" policy is, will fail. People are not just motivated by financial gain. Afghans will take our hard earned money, and carry on killing our soldiers.

So this is the kind of success that our policy requires that will prevent further terrorism in the West, even as Jihadis continue being arrested all over the West.


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 Post subject: Re: A deadly delay
PostPosted: Wed Sep 30, 2009 7:00 pm 
Surely the western supported government can never win because it's appeal is based on little more than personal greed; whereas the opposition appeals to ethnicity, religion, culture and honour and yes, fear. The government cannot compel obedience and does not inspire respect. The opposition does not mind people taking money from the government, but it will be around after the foreigners have left, and it can kill anyone who fails to obey it, - handing over fertilisor for bombs, digging holes, transporting and hiding people etc. Liberal Western public opinion will not allow Western forces to behave with the ruthlessness and callousness required to compel obedience, so however much noise the Americans and their allies make they are just a nuisance who kill a fairly small number of people, but can never achieve the utopian objectives set by their media and politicians, and who will get tired and go away in a few years.Those who enriched themselves under the current regime may of course be all the better placed to succeed in whatever regime succeeds it.


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