Five Facts About Afghanistan
- 10-18-2009, 01:50 AM
Five Facts About Afghanistan
Five Facts About Afghanistan by Ivan Eland -- Antiwar.com
The corridors of power in the nation’s capital are abuzz with the complexities of the situation in Afghanistan. If only we send 40,000 more troops, say the military brass, the U.S. could have some hope of turning the situation around and preventing Afghanistan from becoming a haven for terrorists yet again. Vice President Joe Biden has apparently suggested keeping the number of forces the same but shifting the U.S. mission more toward training the Afghan security forces and conducting Special Forces raids and drone attacks against al-Qaeda.
Instead, a few simple facts on the ground in Afghanistan point to a third alternative.
First, al-Qaeda already has a haven – Pakistan – and could have one in any country that has instability – for example, Yemen, Somalia, or Sudan. The U.S. does need to focus more on the untamed areas of northwest Pakistan and encourage the Pakistani government to go after militants there.
Second, the U.S.-led nation-building occupation in Afghanistan is fueling the Taliban resurgence. If you follow the timelines, increases in Western forces have brought about the Taliban renaissance. Opponents of a U.S. surge believe that 40,000 more American troops could make the Afghan people regard the U.S. superpower as a foreign occupier. Incredible news: they already do, and have for eight years.
Third, there is a misperception among U.S. policy elites that a troop surge increased stability in Iraq, whereas it was mainly paying off Sunni opponents to quit fighting American forces that brought what probably will be only a temporary respite from the violence. It ain’t over till it’s over.
Fourth, ultimately, in a republic, escalating an unpopular war is political suicide. If the public and Congress are balking at sending a measly 40,000 additional troops, they will not ever be willing to send the number of troops needed to win.
Fifth, historical cases abound where a great power, by not committing enough forces early, lost to a lesser foe or won only with great difficulty. The power needs to bring sufficient strength early on to dominate the war or give up and get out. For example, in the late 1700s, the British lost the American Revolution by having insufficient forces in a rather large territory. In the early 1800s, Napoleon lost against the British and Spanish guerrillas because he failed to commit the effort needed to win. During roughly the same period, the Ottoman Empire and their surrogate, Egyptian Muhammad Ali, finally marshaled enough troops to defeat the fierce Wahhabi guerrillas in Arabia. The British – in the Anglo-Sudan War in the late 1800s and the Boer War around the turn of the 20th century – didn’t initially send enough forces to win but then later sent more and won “ugly.”
In Vietnam, the United States gradually escalated to more than a half million troops, but this was not enough to beat a North Vietnamese/Viet Cong force of only 100,000.
The bad news is that Vietnam was a much smaller country in population and area than is Afghanistan. Even the Army’s new field manual on guerrilla warfare says that 20 to 25 occupation forces are needed per one thousand inhabitants. Frank Rich of the New York Times puts the Afghan population at 32 million. This would necessitate an occupation force of 640,000 to 800,000 to have a good chance of winning.
The U.S. will have 68,000 troops there, and the Europeans provide just over 30,000 mostly ineffectual forces; with an added 40,000, this amounts to only a paltry 140,000. The motto for counterinsurgency war should be either commit enough forces to win early or get out.
After eight long years of a lackadaisical effort, another 40,000 committed this late won’t even lift the Obama administration out of the halfhearted category.
The U.S. should cut its losses, withdraw from Afghanistan, and concentrate on pressuring al-Qaeda in Pakistan with a smaller military footprint – so as not to stir up more anti-U.S. Islamists than we are neutralizing.
- 10-18-2009, 02:12 AM
luther - appreciate the thought-provoking articles you post here mate.
. . I guess the question is, the US Military hierachy must know the facts as presented above . . . what is their real agenda?
10-18-2009, 03:00 AM
10-18-2009, 08:19 PM
Pakistan IS attacking in militantland this very minute.
By Scott Stewart
Pakistan has been a busy place over the past few weeks. The Pakistani armed forces have been conducting raids and airstrikes against the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and other foreign Islamist fighters in Bajaur Agency, a district inside Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), while wrapping up their preparations for a major military offensive into South Waziristan. The United States has conducted several successful missile attacks targeting militants hiding in areas along the Afghan-Pakistani border using unmanned aerial vehicles.
Threatened by these developments — especially the actions of the Pakistani military — the TTP and its allies have struck back. They have used larger, vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs) in attacks close to their bases in the Pakistani badlands to conduct mass-casualty attacks against soft targets in Peshawar and the Swat Valley. They have also used small arms and small suicide devices farther from their bases to attack targets in the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad, the respective seats of Pakistan’s military and civilian power.
Initially, we considered devoting this week’s Security and Intelligence Report to discussing the tactical details of the Oct. 10 attack against the Pakistani army headquarters. But after taking a closer look at that attack, and the bigger mosaic it occurred within, we decided to focus instead on something that has not received much attention in the media — namely, how the coming Pakistani offensive in South Waziristan is going to have a heavy impact on the militants currently living and training there. In fact, we can expect the Pakistani offensive to cause a large displacement of militants. Of course, many of the militants who are forced to flee from South Waziristan, the epicenter of Pakistan’s insurgency, will likely land in areas not too far away — like Balochistan — but at least some of the militants who will be flushed out of South Waziristan will land in places far from Pakistan’s FATA and North-West Frontier Province.
The Coming Offensive
The Pakistani military has been preparing for the coming offensive into South Waziristan for months. They have positioned two divisions with some 28,000 troops for the attack, and this force will be augmented by paramilitary forces and local tribal militias loyal to Islamabad. As seen by the Pakistani offensives in Swat and Bajaur earlier this year, the TTP and its foreign allies are no match for the Pakistani military when it turns its full resources to address the problem.
The Pakistanis previously attempted a halfhearted offensive in South Waziristan in March of 2004 that only lasted 12 days before they fell back and reached a “negotiated peace settlement” with the militant leaders in the area. A negotiated peace settlement is a diplomatic way of saying that the Pakistanis attempted to pay off Pakistani Taliban leaders like Nek Mohammed to hand over the foreign militants in South Waziristan and stop behaving badly. The large cash settlements given to the militants did little to ensure peace and instead allowed the Taliban leaders to buy more weapons, pay their troops and essentially solidify their control in their areas of operation. The Taliban resumed their militant activities shortly after receiving their payments (though the most prominent leader, Nek Mohammed, was killed in a U.S. missile strike in June 2004).
This time, the South Waziristan offensive will be far different than it was in 2004. Not only do the Pakistanis have more than four times as many army troops committed to it, but the Pakistani military has learned that if it uses its huge airpower advantage and massed artillery, it can quickly rout any serious TTP resistance. In Bajaur, the Pakistanis used airstrikes and artillery to literally level positions (and even some towns) where the Taliban had tried to dig in and make a stand. Additionally, in January 2008, the Pakistani army conducted a successful offensive in South Waziristan called “Operation Zal Zala” (Earthquake) that made excellent progress and resulted in the loss of only eight soldiers in four days of intense fighting. This offensive was stopped only because Baitullah Mehsud and his confederates sued for peace — a truce that they quickly violated.
The lessons of past military operations and broken truces in South Waziristan, when combined with the recent TTP strikes against targets like the army headquarters, have served to steel the will of the government (and particularly the military). Pakistani government sources tell STRATFOR that they have the intent and the ability to “close the case for good.” This means that there should be no negotiated settlement with the TTP this time.
Of course, we are not the only people who can anticipate this happening. The TTP and others like the al Qaeda core leadership know all too well what happened in Bajaur and Swat. They have also been watching the Pakistani military prepare for the South Waziristan offensive for months now. The TTP leadership realizes that if they attempt to stand and fight the Pakistani military toe-to-toe they will be cut to shreds. Because of this, we believe that the TTP will adopt a strategy similar to that used by the Taliban in the face of overwhelming U.S. airpower following the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, or that of the Iraqi military following the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Rather than fight in set-piece conventional battles to the bitter end and be destroyed, after some initial resistance the TTP’s fighters will seek to melt away into the population and then conduct insurgent and terrorist strikes against the Pakistani military, both in the tribal regions and in Pakistan’s core regions. This is also the approach the TTP leadership took to the Pakistani offensive in Swat and Bajaur. They made noises about standing and fighting in places like Mingora. In the end, however, they melted away in the face of the military’s offensive and most of the militants escaped.
Contrary to popular perception, the area along the Afghan-Pakistani border is fairly heavily populated. The terrain is extremely rugged, but there are millions of Pakistanis living in the FATA, and many of them are extremely conservative and hostile toward the Pakistani government. This hostile human terrain poses perhaps a more significant obstacle to the Pakistani military’s operations to root out jihadists than the physical terrain. Accurate and current population numbers are hard to obtain, but the government of Pakistan estimated the population of South Waziristan to be nearly 500,000 in 1998, although it is believed to be much larger than that today. There are also an estimated 1.7 million Afghan refugees living on the Pakistani side of the border. This human terrain should enable many of the TTP’s Pashtun fighters to melt into the landscape and live to fight another day. Indeed, the militants are already heavily embedded in the population of South Waziristan, and the TTP and its rivals have controlled much of the area for several years now.
We have seen reports that up to 200,000 people have already fled areas of South Waziristan in anticipation of the coming military operation, and it is highly likely that some TTP fighters and foreign militants have used this flow of displaced people as camouflage to leave the region just as they did in Swat and Bajaur. Whether the coming offensive is as successful in destroying the TTP as our sources assure us it will be, the military action will undoubtedly force even more militants to leave South Waziristan.
In the wake of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, the many militant training camps run by al Qaeda and other organizations in Afghanistan were destroyed. Many of the foreign jihadists who were at these camps fled to Pakistan with the Taliban, though others fled to Iran, Iraq or elsewhere. This migration shifted the focus of jihadist training efforts to Pakistan, and South Waziristan in particular. Quite simply, there are thousands of foreign jihadists who have traveled to Pakistan to receive paramilitary training at these camps to fight in Afghanistan. A smaller number of the trainees have received advanced training in terrorist tradecraft, such as bombmaking, in the camps.
Due to the presence of these transplanted training installations, South Waziristan is “jihadist central,” with jihadists of all stripes based in the area. This confluence will complicate Islamabad’s attempts to distinguish between “good” and “bad” Taliban elements. Both the good Taliban aligned with Islamabad that carry out their operations in Afghanistan and the bad Taliban fighting against Islamabad are based in South Waziristan, and telling the difference between the two factions on the battlefield will be difficult — though undoubtedly elements of Pakistani intelligence will attempt to help their Taliban friends (like the Haqqani network and Mullah Omar’s network) avoid being caught up in the coming confrontation.
There are literally thousands of Arab, Uzbek, Uighur, Chechen, African and European militants currently located in the Pakistani badlands, and a good number of them are in South Waziristan. Many of these foreigners are either teaching at or enrolled in the jihadist training camps. These foreigners are going to find it far harder to hide from the Pakistani military by seeking refuge in Afghan refugee camps or small tribal villages than their Pashtun brethren.
Some of these foreigners will attempt to find shelter in North Waziristan, or perhaps in more heavily — and more heterogeneously — populated areas like Quetta (Mullah Omar’s refuge) or Peshawar. Others may try to duck into the Taliban-controlled areas of Afghanistan, but there is a good chance that many of these foreign militants will be forced to leave the Pakistan-Afghanistan area to return home or seek refuge elsewhere.
This exodus will have mixed results. On one hand it will serve to weaken the international jihadist movement by retarding its ability to train new jihadists until replacement camps can be established elsewhere, perhaps by expanding existing facilities in Yemen or Africa. On the other hand, it will force hundreds of people trained in terrorist tradecraft to find a new place to live — and operate. In some ways, this migration could mirror what happened after the number of foreign jihadist began to be dramatically reduced in Iraq — except then, many of the foreigners could be redirected to Pakistan for training and Afghanistan to fight. There is no comparable second theater now to attract these foreign fighters. This means that many of them may end up returning home to join insurgent movements in smaller theaters, such as Chechnya, Somalia, Algeria and Central Asia.
Those with the ability and means could travel to other countries where they can use their training to organize militant cells for terrorist attacks in much the same way the foreign fighters who fought in Afghanistan in the 1980s and left after the fall of the Soviet-backed government there went on to fight in places like Bosnia and Chechnya and formed the nucleus of al Qaeda and the current international jihadist movement.
The Next Generation
There is a big qualitative difference between the current crop of international fighters in South Waziristan and those who fought with the mujahideen in Afghanistan in the 1980s. During the earlier conflict, the foreigners were tolerated, but in general they were not seen by their Afghan counterparts as being particularly valiant or effective (though the Afghans did appreciate the cash and logistical help they provided). In many engagements the foreigners were kept out of harm’s way and saw very little intense combat, while in some cases the foreign fighters were essentially used as cannon fodder.
The perception of the foreigners began to change during the 1990s, and units of foreigners acquitted themselves well as they fought alongside Taliban units against the Northern Alliance. Also, following the U.S. invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, the foreign jihadists have proved themselves to be very effective at conducting terrorist attacks and operating in hostile territory.
In fact, over the past several years, we have witnessed a marked change in the ways the Afghan Taliban fight. They have abandoned some of their traditional armed assault tactics and have begun to employ al Qaeda-influenced roadside IED attacks and suicide bombings — attacks the Afghan fighters had previously considered “unmanly.” It is no mere coincidence that the number of suicide attacks and roadside IED attacks in Afghanistan increased dramatically after al Qaeda began to withdraw its forces from Iraq. There is also a direct correlation between the IED technology developed and used in Iraq and that now being employed by the Taliban in Afghanistan.
All this experience in designing and manufacturing IEDs in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan means that the jihadist bombmakers of today are more highly skilled than ever, and they have been sharing their experience with foreign students at training camps in places like South Waziristan. Furthermore, the U.S. presence in Iraq and Afghanistan has provided a great laboratory in which jihadists can perfect their terrorist tradecraft. A form of “tactical Darwinism” has occurred in Iraq and Afghanistan as coalition firepower has weeded out most of the inept jihadist operatives. Only the strong and cunning have survived, leaving a core of hardened, competent militants. These survivors have created new tactics and have learned to manufacture new types of highly effective IEDs — technology that has already shown up in places like Algeria and Somalia. They have been permitted to impart the knowledge they have gained to another generation of young aspiring militants through training camps in places like South Waziristan.
As these foreign militants scatter to the four winds, they will be taking their skills with them. Judging from past waves of jihadist fighters, they will probably be found participating in future plots in many different parts of the world. And also judging from past cases, they will likely not participate in these plots alone.
As we have discussed in the past, the obvious weakness of the many grassroots jihadist cells that have been uncovered is their lack of terrorist tradecraft. They have the intent to do harm but not the ability, and many times the grassroots cells end up finding a government informant as they seek help acquiring weapons or constructing IEDs. When these inept “Kramer terrorists” manage to get linked up with a trained terrorist operative, they can cause considerable damage.
The possibility of these militants conducting attacks or bringing much-needed capability to grassroots cells means that the South Waziristan migration, which has almost certainly already begun, will give counterterrorism officials from Boston to Beijing something to worry about for the foreseeable future.
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10-18-2009, 11:14 PM
The US will not pull out of Afghanistan at this point - the political bloody nose they would suffer would be far more damaging in the long term and would galvanise anti-US sentiment in the region and in the middle east - you would in all liklelyhood see a large resurgense of violence in Iraq as irregular enemy forces could *easily* travel from the border region with Pakistan, through Iran & into Iraq.
I do however agree with the sentiment that a troop surge of 40,000 is insufficeint to deliver the outcome the US desires in Afghanistan. First and foremost they need to work on disarming the Afghani populace, increasing the integrity of the Afghanistan/ Pakistan/ Iranian border, building an economy to decrease the local's reliance on the opium trade and improving infrastructure both around improving security and developing their (Shambolic) economy.
Only then will you notice an ongoing improvement at the pointy end of the spear on the ground.
10-18-2009, 11:33 PM
Disarm - this will not happen this century. It's too much a part of the culture.First and foremost they need to work on disarming the Afghani populace, increasing the integrity of the Afghanistan/ Pakistan/ Iranian border, building an economy to decrease the local's reliance on the opium trade and improving infrastructure both around improving security and developing their (Shambolic) economy.
Only then will you notice an ongoing improvement at the pointy end of the spear on the ground.
Borders - see geography. It won't happen, though it's slightly more likely than disarming the populace.
Economy - again, until there's some security and safety, no one from outside will ever want to step in there. It's tough to ween them off the opium money, when that's about all they have to offer the WEst, and the WEst is afraid to step in there for fear of being blown up.
10-19-2009, 01:14 AM
Trick in relation to the borders is that there are only certain borders which are relevant, the most obvious being the Pakistani border. A combined approach between the Pakistani/ NATO forces could crush much of the resistance in this region, but from there the strategy will have to move to one of containment.
Trick with the opium crops is that the Taliban had all but stamped out Afghani heroin as part of aid packages which were delivered by the West. Now that we have this kid gloves approach to the problem Afghan heroin alone which is grown in 12 months can more than supply the global demand. Subsidising other agriculture is one way in which to off-set this - the entire agriculture segments in most Western economies only exist on subsidies as is FFS, it's ludicrious to assume that the Afghani agricultural sector will be any different - particularly when the cut and the thrust of it will be to meet local demand as opposed to being exported due to the lack of quality control & infrastructure to support this.
Fact of the matter is the amount of money we have in Afghanistan in troops more than likely exceeds their GDP as is - so obviously a little beauracratic reallocation of funds could make a whole lot of difference to the population. Don't forget that in the 80's pre-Desert Storm Iraq was an extremely modernised Islamic nation too. Hence why they're a little quicker on the uptake than the Afghanis are.
Truth is Kabul is never going to be New York, at this stage I think we'd settle for Detroit tho.
10-19-2009, 01:34 AM
10-19-2009, 01:37 AM
10-19-2009, 09:04 AM
War next door creates havoc in Pakistan
By ERIC MARGOLIS
Pakistan, increasingly destabilized by the U.S.-led war in neighbouring Afghanistan, is getting closer to blowing apart.
Bombings and shootings have rocked this nation of 167 million, including a brazen attack on army HQ in Rawalpindi and a massive bombing of Peshawar's exotic Khyber Bazaar.
Pakistan's army is readying a major offensive against rebellious Pashtun tribes in South Waziristan. Meanwhile, the feeble, deeply unpopular U.S.-installed government in Islamabad faces an increasingly rancorous confrontation with the military.
Like the proverbial bull in the china shop, the Obama administration and U.S. Congress chose this explosive time to try to impose yet another layer of American control over Pakistan as Nobel Peace Prize winner Obama appears about to send thousands more U.S. troops to Afghanistan.
Tragically, U.S. policy in the Muslim world continues to be driven by imperial arrogance, profound ignorance, and special interest groups.
The current Kerry-Lugar-Berman bill, advanced with President Barack Obama's blessing, is ham-handed dollar diplomacy at its worst. Pakistan, bankrupted by corruption and feudal landlords, is being offered $7.5 billion US over five years -- but with outrageous strings attached.
The U.S. wants to build a mammoth new embassy for 1,000 personnel in Islamabad, the second largest after its Baghdad fortress-embassy. New personnel are needed, claims Washington, to monitor the $7.5 billion in aid.
So U.S. mercenaries are being brought in to protect U.S. "interests." New U.S. bases will open. Most of this new aid will go right into the pockets of the pro-western ruling establishment, about 1% of the population.
Washington is also demanding veto power over promotions in Pakistan's armed forces and intelligence agency, ISI. This crude attempt to take control of Pakistan's proud, 617,000-man military has enraged the armed forces.
It's all part of Washington's "AfPak" strategy to clamp tighter control over restive Pakistan and make use of its armed forces and spies in Afghanistan. Seizing control of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal, the key to its national defence against much more powerful India, is the other key U.S. objective.
However, 90% of Pakistanis oppose the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan, and see Taliban and its allies as national resistance to western occupation.
Alarmingly, violent attacks on Pakistan's government are coming not only from once-autonomous Pashtun tribes (wrongly called "Taliban") in Northwest Frontier Province, but, increasingly, in the biggest province, Punjab. Recently, the U.S. Ambassador in Islamabad, in a fit of imperial hubris, actually called for air attacks on Pashtun leaders in Quetta, capital of Pakistan's restive Baluchistan province.
Washington does not even bother to ask the impotent Islamabad government's permission to launch air attacks inside Pakistan.
Along comes the Kerry-Lugar-Berman Big Bribe as most irate Pakistanis accuse President Asif Ali Zardari's government of being American hirelings. Zardari, widower of Benazir Bhutto, has been dogged for decades by charges of corruption. His senior aides in Pakistan and Washington are being denounced by what's left of Pakistan's media not yet under government control.
Washington seems unaware of the fury its crude, counter-productive policies have whipped up in Pakistan. The Obama administration keeps listening to Washington-based neoconservatives, military hawks, and "experts" who tell it just what it wants to hear, not the facts. Ottawa does the same.
As a result, Pakistan's military, the nation's premier institution, is being pushed to the point of revolt. Against the backdrop of bombings and shootings come rumours the heads of Pakistan's armed forces and intelligence may be replaced.
Pakistanis are calling for the removal of the Zardari regime's strongman, Interior Minister Rehman Malik. Many clamour for the head of Pakistan's ambassador in Washington, my old friend Hussain Haqqani, who is seen as too close to the Americans. One suspects the wily Haqqani is also angling to get the U.S. to help him become Pakistan's next leader.
The possibility of a military coup against the discredited Zardari regime grows. But Pakistan is dependent on U.S. money, and fears India. Can its generals afford to break with patron Washington?
10-19-2009, 09:06 AM
Pakistan keeps popping up!
Iran Vows ‘Crushing Action’ After Commanders Killed in Suicide Bombing
Attack on Revolutionary Guard Leaders 'Planned in Pakistan'
Iranian officials vowed a “crushing response” today after a suicide blast in Sistan-Balochistan killed at least 49 people, including several high ranking members of the nation’s elite Revolutionary Guard forces.
Iran’s state media reported the Baloch separatist group Jundallah had claimed credit for the attack, and officials in the military accused the US and Britain of involvement, threatening to take revenge against those responsible. http://www.thenational.ae/apps/pbcs....710189874/1133
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called on the Pakistani government to help with the apprehension of those responsible, and also accused elements of the Pakistani government with complicity in the strike. Jundallah is active on both sides of the Iran-Pakistan border, but the Pakistani government denies that the leadership is on its side of the region.
Though it is well established that the US has been supporting Jundallah since at least 2005 http://blogs.abcnews.com/theblotter/...ws_exclus.html , the State Department condemned the attack as an “act of terrorism,” and insisted they had nothing to do with the attack.
10-19-2009, 09:51 AM
For once, I agree with something that Luther posts. Afghanistan is a quagmire. It's like we can't leave, but we can't stay. It was the initial front in the war on terror after 9/11, so to pull out now would make we were accpeting defeat by the Taliban and all the bloodshed over the past 8 years was for nothing. In reality, it's looking more and more like this is our new Vietnam.
10-19-2009, 11:57 AM
10-19-2009, 09:31 PM
10-22-2009, 11:54 PM
10-26-2009, 01:53 AM
Terror attacks near nuke facilities??? :huh:At least 7 people were killed, 13 injured when a suicide bomber on a bicycle blew himself up Friday, Oct. 23, outside the big Kamra aeronautical complex 60 km west of Islamabad. DEBKAfile's military sources report this is where Pakistan houses most of its nuclear bombs and air-air and air-ground missiles. In Mohmand, 15 wedding guests were killed when their minibus hit an explosive device and in Peshawar a car bomb injured 15 people at the Sawan hotel.
Taliban fighters began to battle their way towards Pakistan's nuclear arsenal on Saturday, Oct. 10, by attacking the roads connecting the capital and high command with the nuclear ordnance centers in northern Pakistan near the town of Kohat, at Wah and in Kamra in order to cut them off.
Terrorist pressure to reach Pakistan's nuclear arsenal at these sites was first reported by DEBKA-Net-Weekly on May 15.
Friday morning, the Pakistani military spokesman said the suicide bomber was stopped at a checkpoint where he blew himself up before he could enter the Kamra complex. This was the closest a terrorist had come to the cluster of bases where Pakistan maintains the bulk of its nuclear bombs and air-air and air-ground missiles for delivery by its air force.
This month, surging Taliban attacks have left more than 180 dead, the level mounting sharply as the Pakistani army continued its offensive against Taliban and al Qaeda strongholds in South Waziristan. Thursday, a Pakistani army brigadier and his driver were killed in a shooting attack in Islamabad. He was the second high officer to die this week in what appears to be a targeted assault on Pakistani commanders in retaliation for the South Waziristan drive. Tuesday, twin blasts killed seven people at Islamabad University.
DEBKAfile's military sources report that three Pakistani columns are advancing very slowly in the mountainous tribal region amid sporadic clashes. Most of the insurgents have pulled back to the 15,000-ft peaks.
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10-26-2009, 04:07 AM
Point 1 on the 40,000: these are not just combat troops. This is GEN Petraeus' plan that he used In Iraq, something that turned the tide there. There will be combat advisers throughout this force, something that I have a little experience with given that I am one doing the mission as I write this in Iraq. The mission of the 40,000 is to surge in with more security for the first few months, while that happens guys like me get the local police, border agencies, and militaries up to speed. After 8-9 months there is a slow transition that begins and the local populace begins taking over and owning ground while the US forces join them on these patrols, but they are led by the locals. Once the US Commanders feel the new military or police have enough experience then US forces start going on less and less patrols.
This approach does a few things. It gives the country way more stability with the extra combat forces. Locals feel this immediately and recruiting goes through the roof. The training that we provide them during the 6 months is second to none. The confidence of the local forces goes through the roof, especially on the first few joint patrols. It also gives the locals national pride in their own forces once they begin to see their success.
Bottom line, no one need compare this to Vietnam. The Russians had their Vietnam here, we had ours in Asia. This is a new war with new problems. If the politicians would finally get out of the way and allow this surge, like we did in Iraq (which one the war for us here in case you missed it) then the security in Afghanistan would be secured and it would force the Jihadist into the hills of either Iran or Pakistan.
And Luther... try getting your news from a website other than antiwar.com because one could argue they have a slight agenda. Trust me, I hate war. I have been on 4 of these damn deployments and am ready for a break to see the family. Help us with the peace process by not posting hatefilled one sided pieces. Support the offense so we never have to go back on defense!
10-26-2009, 05:25 AM
It is a film that is available for free online
Short review: http://bravenewfilms.org/press/?p=614
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Robert Greenwald described his latest film, Rethink Afghanistan, as a way to ask “fundamental core questions:”
“The argument we make in the film is that there are a lot of unanswered questions about the war: How many troops? What’s the cost in lives and treasure?” says Greenwald. “In the film, we try to ask these fundamental core questions. It’s not just 10,000 troops there, or 12,000 there, it’s why troops at all?” He added, “Those are the questions we need to ask, and those are the questions you need to ask in a democracy.”
While the Journal got it right, the New York Times reviewer apparently wants no truck with either such questions – or with a film that reminds us that:
Military engagements, it seems, are messy and claim innocent lives.
In fact, she was upset that the film did not allow time for an opposing view – yet, as Greenwald shows us throughout Rethink Afghanistan, the messiness and loss of innocent lives is precisely at the core of this (or any) war and is the central reason we need to look more closely and ask our own questions about our government’s decision to continue into a 9th year in Afghanistan.
But the film also does much more.
Rethink Afghanistan combines footage from Greenwald’s own trip to Afghanistan earlier this year with interviews with key experts like Robert Grenier, former CIA station chief in Islamabad, Pakistan, former CIA operative Robert Baer, Graham Fuller, the former CIA station chief in Kabul, Anand Gopal, the Afghanistan correspondent of The Wall Street Journal and Steve Coll, author of the Pulitzer winning book on Al Qaeda, Ghost Wars.
Such expertise provides us with important insights, insights lacking in the spotty coverage of this war in the standard media which rarely strays beyond the usual footage of American soldiers to ask the question why they are there and if it is the “right war” after all.
Yet Rethink Afghanistan is not simply a platform for various experts, it is so much more because the film introduces us to Afghan voices. So often our policy debates completely leave out the views, the worries and the concerns of those most impacted by our actions. Rethink Afghanistan includes them throughout – and these voices are so important for us to hear.
From the refugee who tells us:
If the Talib comes and fires a bullet, Americans will come and they kill the whole village.
To the Afghan women activists who describe our alliance with the misogynist Northern Alliance and our support for Karzai’s misogynist cabinet, to the voice of Fatana Gailani, founder of the Afghanistan Women Council who starkly reminds us that:
The United States government has not sent one delegation to go and talk with the Afghan people, what the Afghan people want and especially what the Afghan women want.”
These are voices we have not heard in the debate over our war and occupation, voices which should be at the center of any discussion of what we will do next. Rethink Afghanistan finally allows us to listen and learn.
Robert and the Brave New Films team are not just providing a new forum for these voices, they are also creating a new model of filmmaking with Rethink Afghanistan. By producing the film in stages and releasing it online, they have made their work immediately available to us all in time to inform the debate not merely document it after the fact – and they have used the film as the centerpiece of a campaign to raise the questions and concerns we all must face about Afghanistan.
They also invited viewers along the way to contribute to help the people profiled in the film, raising $15,000 in aid which has already made its way to families living in the refugee camps the film profiles.
And now they are asking us all to participate in the education of our communities. Rethink Afghanistan does such a good job of raising the critical issues and encouraging discussions that it really must be shared and viewed with friends and neighbors. You can order a copy here to do your part to help shape this essential debate.
10-26-2009, 07:14 AM
Please remember its not all about America in this war. The UK is involved too with heavy loss of life along with other EU countries. Each has a part to play in this war, its so easy to forget these soldiers when the focus is purely on America.
10-26-2009, 01:22 PM
Where to begin with this film. Brother let me tell you from first hand experience that there were and are mistakes being made. We are human and subject to them throughout our entire lives. That being said, let me make a few points.
1. The reason we went to Afghanistan is pretty straight forward and, unlike Iraq, all can agree upon it... 911. Do you remember watching those towers come down??? We were attacked by a regime and a people who wanted nothing more than to wipe us Christian Imperialists off the face of the earth. Al Qaida was behind the attacks, they were holled up in Afghanistan. The Taliban not only supported them but funded them as well. If we as Americans have forgotten this, the rest of this is pointless. No nation on this earth would turn their back on an unprovoked attack.
2. Troop numbers - If you read my post above you will see the argument there. Bottom line is that we let the war in AF slip because of the war in Iraq. Mistake??? absolutely!! For the last year the Coalition Commanders have tried fixing that problem. The troop strength increase that GEN P used in Iraq was a miracle and it is still working well. Believe it or not there are more deaths in Chicago or Detroit than in ALL of Iraq on a daily basis, and that INCLUDES the suicide attacks that took place yesterday.
3. Women rights issues in AF - are you kidding bro??!! If they want the Taliban back with their full body dresses that hide even their faces they are welcome to them. Pulling one quote like that is far from portraying reality. Of course I have the advantage of actually talking to these people myself as opposed to reading about them. Truth - the women there have more rights and representation now than even PRE - Taliban. AF customs and laws prohibit any interactions with the women of that country, but rest assured... they LOVE not having to wear those stupid dresses. They LOVE being able to send their daughters to school (something THEY were not allowed to do). They love being able to own and operate their own businesses. And by saying the US sends no envoys or reps..., come on. That is ALL we do. Even here in Iraq we meeting ourselves to DEATH. The only reason that US forces might not have been there at this particular meeting was because there are certain cases when the AF government REQUEST US forces not be there. Other than that, we are ALWAYS at those stupid things.
4. You find me another war anywhere throughout the history of time where there have been less civilian casualties than these two wars happening now... come on guy! We can shoot a rocket from thousands of miles a way or from a plane going the speed of sound and still hit to within inches of the intended target!
Bottom line - The reasons for even going to war there are not disputable. Their people ATTACKED US and their government funded and protected them. Brother I don't need to watch a video on this stuff. I have lived it on and off multiple times now over the course of the last 8 years. If you want peace there, support the troops and the commanders, yell at the politicians, and have patients..., WHY??? Because it's a great day to be an American!!!
10-26-2009, 01:30 PM
10-27-2009, 01:25 PM
Aussies are there too, as well as a bunch of others. Hell, there's even been a few british expats like me in the Aus Army over there.
I can't wait for the day where luther actually has an opinion of his own rather than just cut and pasting a bunch of anti-US crap. If you hate America dude, as I've said to you across multiple threads, take the time to strap on a pair and say it, "I hate America" Don't hate America but don't like the policies? That's fine too, just say I disagree with <whatever>, this is <why> and <this> is what I think we should do differently.
Stop hiding behind other people's words and then going, "Hey I'm an ex-pat American I'm not anti-US" because buddy, it's bull**** and nobody is buying it.
10-27-2009, 02:12 PM
Luther... what else can we say man?
10-27-2009, 02:16 PM
Someone say Georgians? They're like Russians with a sense of humor. I served in israel with a bunch of em, and damn, they are crazy, and crazy strong.
10-28-2009, 01:37 AM
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