Monday, August 31, 2009

Hot And Cold Mama

"You -- Change your mind -- Like a girl changes clothes..."

So sings one of Great Satan's pop treasures in the dancefloor essential "Hot and Cold"

The complexities, chaos and confusion of a bipolar frienemy are quite de luxe.

Rodina Mat' Zovyot or Mama Russia has always been a lot like hanging with a bipolar GF -- seems it's like everything is really really great or everything really really sucks.

Sir Winnie penned a line or two himself about Collectivist Russia back in the day:

“I cannot forecast to you the action of Russia. It is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma: but perhaps there is a key. That key is Russian national interests.”

This is significant. As the daemoneoconic Dr Robert Kagan points out in "Return of History" -- the worlds largest (nearly a dozen time zones!) autocrazy lives in a tough hood.

Nuke powered cats in China, Land of the Pure and NoKo not to mention a history of nigh constant invasion have resulted in a crunk and disorderly member of what could be called the "Axis of Egos"

"Indeed, modern Russia's quest for respect is so intense that it's ensured that it's warped the world view of citizens and policymakers alike, casting everything in 19th-century terms, with winners and losers and enemies in different uniforms. Whether it's planting a flag on the bottom of the sea to claim the North Pole or squeezing the Americans out of a base in Kyrgyzstan, Moscow still sees diplomacy as a zero-sum game where every international engagement—even supposedly friendly ones like the Eurovision Song Contest—becomes a litmus test for Russian pride and power.

"This helps explain Russia's friendships with anti-American regimes in Venezuela, Syria, and Iran. Today's Russia is willing to pal up with anyone, it seems, as long as it bolsters Moscow's credentials as a leader of a "multipolar world."

No battleground is more emotionally charged for contemporary Russians than the lands of their lost empire. In April 2005, on the eve of massive celebrations of the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II, Putin told Parliament that the fall of the Soviet Union was "the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century" and "a genuine tragedy for the Russian people." Millions of Russians found themselves citizens of different countries, Putin lamented, and the "disease" of separatism spread to Russia itself as Chechnya made a bid to break away. For Mikhail Margelov, chairman of the committee for foreign affairs in the Federation Council, the loss of the empire was as traumatic as a divorce.

"We are still in the process of separating from our former husbands and wives," he says. "The rows Russia is having with its neighbors are like scenes from a divorce—everyone is throwing dishes and breaking furniture." Think about this analogy and it's no surprise that Russians reserve a special resentment for America and Europe, the rich, new sugar daddies for whom their old partners left.

" More-subtle moves have included a proposal to create a regional development bank largely funded by Moscow and a customs union that would include Russia, Kazakhstan, and Belarus. And Medvedev's proposal earlier this year to revive the near-moribund Collective Security Treaty Organization—a group of five post-Soviet states—by adding a military rapid reaction force, fit in with this goal as well.

So far, few of Medvedev's attempts to bring former Soviet satellites closer to Moscow have come to fruition. But Moscow is likely to view any setbacks not as evidence of the flaws in its aggressive foreign policy but rather the results of outsiders' determined plotting to undermine Russia's influence in its near abroad.

Indeed, given the deep-seated resentment that many Russians still harbor over Washington's supposed role in destroying their great country, it is hardly surprising that most see U.S. attempts to spread democracy in the former Soviet Union as a cynical front for Yankee imperialism.

Thus there was widespread support for Putin's crackdown on foreign-funded NGOs in the wake of the Orange Revolution in Kiev. Seen from the West, the restrictive new laws were a Kremlin-backed assault on free speech, but seen from Moscow, the clampdown on rights groups was a defensive act to rid Russia of foreign-funded fifth columns.

Most Russians now seem to believe that America is intent on pressing on with its attack, and they are determined not only to reverse the pro-Western tide of colored revolutions but to try to unseat and undermine pro-Western leaders in their backyard as best they can. "Unless we stop them, America will continue to crawl further with its bases toward Russia's borders," says United Russia Duma Deputy Sergei Markov, who is currently organizing a Kremlin-funded "Anti-Nato 2009" summer camp in Crimea, a majority-Russian part of Ukraine, designed to train young Russians to resist a NATO invasion.

Take all these factors into account and Russia's foreign policy starts to make a little more sense. Its top priority is keeping meddling foreigners from taking over any more of Russia's backyard. Even Kremlin policies directed far from Russia's borders can be tied back to this primal urge. Thus Russia has made itself a rallying point for anti-U.S. crackpots in Venezuela, Cuba, Syria, and Sudan not because it seriously thinks it can restore its status as a world player but because it hopes to forge a grand bargain with Washington over the former Soviet space.

Taken separately, none of these alliances make much sense—but they do if they allow Moscow to strike a deal with the Americans to act as a go-between with its pariah friends like Syria, for instance.

Consider how Russia recently used its friendship with Iran to Moscow's advantage. Back in 2007 Russia signed a deal to sell a powerful missile-defense system to Iran, but then, this summer, it allowed Israel to talk it out of actually delivering the system in exchange for Israel's promise to cut off help to Georgia's military.

Consider how Russia recently used its friendship with Iran to Moscow's advantage. Back in 2007 Russia signed a deal to sell a powerful missile-defense system to Iran, but then, this summer, it allowed Israel to talk it out of actually delivering the system in exchange for Israel's promise to cut off help to Georgia's military. It was exactly the kind of deal the Kremlin loves—a local victory over a sworn enemy gained by playing the global power game.

High-placed Russians deny such thinking; Sergei Karaganov, the chairman of the Presidium of the Council for Foreign and Defense Policy of Russia, a state-funded advisory group, swears that "Russia will never spoil its relations with Iran." But he concedes that the Kremlin might be persuaded "to change its mind if America agrees to serious compromises and stops enlarging NATO to the east, stops the Cold War in Europe, and accepts a Russian sphere of influence."

That idea of a "sphere of influence"—or what Medvedev, a little more tactfully, calls a "zone of special interests"—is really a budget version of the old empire. The Kremlin seems to have bought its own rhetoric and to have convinced itself that Russia remains a great power—and deserves to be treated as such. "The world's problems cannot be solved without consulting Russia," says Gorbachev. But like it or not, he's wrong. Russia still has nukes and enormous energy reserves.

Yet it has little ability to project military power beyond its borders, and the Kremlin's saber rattling has pushed even erstwhile allies like Belarus and Ukraine into the arms of the West. In economic terms, Russia's GDP has recently grown close to Italy's in terms of size, thanks to high energy prices.. But shorn of natural resources, the rest of its economy remains mired in inefficiency and corruption.

The key question, as Russian power continues to shrink, is whether Moscow will ever be able to come to terms with the loss of its empire and acknowledge the right of its former colonies to make independent strategic choices. So far there have been few signs of an attempt to move beyond imperial thinking, with school curriculums and national holidays all continuing to emphasize the country's lost greatness. "Russia has been an empire for most of its history; we don't know how to act as a national state," says Margelov.

But rather than pining for the past, Russia would do well to look to Great Britain, another fallen empire, for lessons in how to stay relevant in a post-imperial world.

Britain ran into disaster in 1956 when it tried to assert itself militarily in its old imperial space by making a grab for the Suez Canal. Since then, London has contented itself with slowly building new constructive relationships with its neighbors, former colonies, and big powers like the U.S. The result might not be as grand or as satisfying as macho strutting and military adventures, but it has helped keep Britain at the center of world politics long after the sun set on its empire.

If Russia would realize that its best hope for influence is to engage rather than confront the rest of the world, it could start truly rebuilding its influence—and putting to rest the misunderstandings and suspicions that shaped the lives of Cold War generation.

Russia's leaders - "the scared men in the Kremlin," deeply insecure behind their aggressive bluster and suspicious of any internal political threat to their power. Russia is hostile to the West, because it is a "wounded giant" traumatized by catastrophic historical upheavals and far weaker than it likes to pretend. The nation "may blunder into war as it strives to build up a protective belt of satellite states outside its vulnerable borders."

Pic - Rodina Mat Zovyat

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Syrian Sideshow

President Barack Obama came to power with a not-so-secret plan to reshape the Middle East. His team envisioned a fundamental realignment in the region, with an eye towards resolving a host of longstanding conflicts that made it a global focal point of political instability. A key element of that plan centered on one country: Syria. By reconstituting Washington's relationship with Damascus, the reasoning went, Obama would manage to radiate improvements outward to a host of regional disputes.

Seven months into the Obama administration, Washington's efforts to pry Syria from its tight alliance with Iran and persuade it to start working for regional solutions is well underway. American officials have become regular visitors to Damascus, with the administration still hoping that the strategy will pay dividends. The results so far, however, are far from a resounding success. The much-anticipated harvest of peace remains a mirage.

A reminder of just how difficult it will prove to transform the region came after the disputed re-election of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. As the violence in Iran raged and condemnation of Tehran's tactics poured in from Western capitals, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad declared, "What happened in Iran is a big lesson to the foreigners. I believe the Iranian people's re-election [of Ahmadinejad] is another emphasis of the fact that Iran and Syria must continue the regional policy as in the past."

This call for maintaining relations between Tehran and Damascus underscored the difficulty of Obama's regional plan. After all, dividing the two allies lay at the core of that vision.

As one report in the first few days of the administration explained, "Mr. Obama has made clear that he believes the key to improving the political situation in the Middle East is to peel Syria away from its longstanding alliance with Iran."

The idea, in fact, went beyond peeling the allies apart. The strategy of the Obama team stemmed from a recognition of Syria's role in several inter-related conflicts. Imagine the possibilities: If the U.S. could persuade Syria to cooperate, Iran would lose its best friend in the world and hence its outlet for involvement in other disputes. Tehran would stand weakened as it faced off with the international community over its nuclear program.

With Syria working alongside the West, Hezbollah would lose strength in Lebanon, as would Hamas in the Palestinian territories; Iraq would face less infiltration from destructive elements; and Israel and Syria could eventually make peace, helping to break the tight knot of regional instability.

Obama made a similar point during a visit to Jerusalem while still a presidential candidate, saying, "There are some genuine signals that Syria is willing to drive out terrorists in their midst, shut down the arms flow into Lebanon, or to otherwise engage in more responsible behavior. I think it could be a shift in the region that would be extremely advantageous."

With this in mind, the administration began re-establishing links with Syria that had been severed almost completely by the Bush administration after the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, which Hariri's supporters blamed on Syria.

An early sign of change came within Obama's first days in office, when Washington started easing economic sanctions. The U.S. approved the sale of parts for Syrian Boeing 747s, which had been grounded after the Bush administration worried that the planes helped transport military equipment from Iran and North Korea. In another conciliatory move, the Treasury approved a cash payment to a Syrian cancer charity headed by Asma al-Assad, wife of the Syrian president.

By late February, the State Department hosted the Syrian ambassador and later, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton shook hands with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moualem during a meeting at the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheik. The ice had been officially broken. With that, the traveling show started.

The first major visit to Syria by U.S. administration officials came on March 5, with the arrival of Jeffrey Feltman of the State Department and Daniel Shapiro of the National Security Council. Since then, the stream of visitors has included, among others, a couple of stops by U.S. Middle East envoy George Mitchell, as well as visitors from the U.S. military concerned with the porous borders between Syria and Iraq.

The activity has been feverish but, despite a few bright spots, the results remain elusive.

There are signs that Syria wants to become a global player again. An important move came with its decision to open its first-ever embassy in Lebanon, a country it had previously claimed is part of Syria. Still, Damascus has made no move to lessen its ties to Iran, diminish its support for Hamas or Hezbollah, restart peace talks with Israel or take a strong stand for Iraqi security.

After the Iranian election, few countries rushed to recognize, let alone congratulate, Ahmadinejad. Assad was the paramount exception. The Syrian president traveled to Tehran, in a visit lauded by Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamanei as a sign of Washington's weakness. "America's blade has become blunter in the region," Khamenei said. "The unity between Iran and Syria is the embodiment of resistance in the region."

Meanwhile, relations between Iraq and Syria have hit a nadir after the massive bombing in Baghdad that killed more than 100 people earlier this month. The two countries have recalled their ambassadors. Iraq accuses Syria of giving sanctuary to terrorists and demands that Syria expel "terrorist organizations that use Syria as a headquarters and launch pad to plan terrorist operations against the Iraqi people."

On the Israel front, there are few if any signs of progress. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, speaking during a visit to London, said, "Syria's actions do not indicate that it wants peace. It has taken no steps to curb the terror organizations." Indirect talks between the two countries through Turkish intermediaries stopped after the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza broke out last December.

The vision of Syria as a pivot point for regional reconciliation has not died, but the reality of just how difficult it will prove to achieve substantial change is dawning on the administration. President Obama displayed his frustration with typical understatement last month when he said, "There are aspects of Syrian behavior that trouble us, and we think that there is a way that Syria can be much more constructive on a whole host of these issues."

After only seven months in office, the Obama team is just getting started in its efforts to reroute the course of regional history. What it has discovered is that forces that stood in place for decades before it came to office cannot be easily dislodged.

The push continues, but success is far from assured.

submitted by Frida Ghitis

Art - "Bashar Nam"

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Vital, Yet Silly

Cabbages are our friends

Friday, August 28, 2009

Caught With Their Britches Down

Way back -- before Surge -- while Fallujah was starting to get fully crunk -- Iran's boy Elroy - the Mullah fed and funded Mahdi Army led by a soon to be jumped up Ayatollah -- the (gross) ever girthy and overtly robust Mookie al Sadr -- made a determined, armed effort to Xform part of Iraq into something not unlike a time traveling caliphate.

Mookie's place d'arms was an ancient mosque in the ancient city of Najaf.

As Great Satan prepped to shape the battle, she cleared out the surrounding environs the Bloody Aachen way .

Then, Great Satan's rowdy uparmored killing machine cats feinted with a few panzers, and it started raining RPGs. As the panzers pulled back -- psyching Mahdi Army's undisciplined combatants - the bulk of al Sadr's troopies surged out ward in a celebratory charge.

Just in time for a pair of orbiting F 16 Fighting Falcons to precisely laser guide a 500LB bomb right onto their heads.

Great Satan had just taken the 'Army' right out of Mahdi Army (v1.0).

Essentially -- Mookie and his Revo Guard military advisors were caught with their britches down.

Not unlike the howl and cry that "The Devil They Know" elicited from the corrupt, amoral cult of stability and their semi fanboy high priest.

While Dr Wolfowitz - the daemoneoconic avatar - correctly pointed out that realpolitik and her America cuz of 'realism' should really realistically focus on changing the nature of states (many with pitiful literacy rates, no free media and an ungodly penchant for gneder apartheid, tormenting their own people, their neighbors and often tend to attack any democrazy in weapons range) instead of cutting deals with known oathbreakers and hoping for the best.

Realists like Great and Little Satan hating Dr Stephen M Walt (again - "Taming American Power"?! -- who in their right mind would want that?) responded with an incredibly short sighted, desperate defense that alas really offers no defense!

"On the whole, Wolfowitz's discussion of "realism" in the Sept./Oct. issue of FP is about as accurate as his 2002 estimates about the troop levels needed to occupy Iraq and the overall costs of the war."

While decorum prohibits redoing tons of Dr Walt's weak, boring and inappropriate handwringing and woe is me diatribe about how Great Satan is totally queering the mix and ruining the world by taking on creeps, illegit regimes that fiddle about with WMD, overtly and covertly oppose Great Satan whenever they can.

"What do realists believe? Realists see international politics as an inherently competitive realm where states compete for advantage and where security is sometimes precarious. So, realists emphasize that states should keep a keen eye on the balance of power, which makes them wary of squandering blood or treasure on needless military buildups, ideological crusades, or foolish foreign wars."

"Realists cherish America's commitment to democracy and individual liberty, but they know that ideals alone are no basis for conducting foreign policy."

" They also understand that endless overseas adventures will inevitably provoke a hostile backlash abroad and force us to compromise freedoms at home."





So, America unbound - causes enemies to freak out? Sweet!

Great Satan and all her democrazy fanboys and girls worldwide should be totally proud of that!

And the realists -- were caught with their britches down.

Pic - "Astronaut Panties"

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Feet To The Fire

Feet to the fire is an ancient Hillbilly phrase -- roughly Xlated as maintaining pressure as a control mechanism in pursuit of designs, goals and targets.

Perhaps best understood as in '...holding someones feet to the fire..."

Like Great Satan's bloodsworn enemies.

The refreshingly unrepentant (and nigh indestructable cardiac wise) VP Cheney was and remains a firm believer that in the new millennium the choice between "...changing they way we live..." or making enemies, enemy enablers, fanboys and actualizers change their way of life -- is a prett easy and fun decision to make.

Even in captivity?

Oui m'seur - especially in captivity!

"If it hadn't been for what we did -- with respect to the terrorist surveillance program, or enhanced interrogation techniques for high-value detainees, the Patriot Act, and so forth -- then we would have been attacked again. ...

"Those policies we put in place, in my opinion, were absolutely crucial to getting us through the last seven-plus years without a major-casualty attack on the U.S."

Concerns about Gitmo Dick and his call for releasing the full meal deal on memos generally were believed to have been concrete evidence that enhanced interrogation tech is a wonderful device -- to be deployed if the need -- or even opportunity -- arise.

Now the memos have been unleashed and the Vulcan VP released his own memo on Monday:

"The documents released Monday clearly demonstrate that the individuals subjected to Enhanced Interrogation Techniques provided the bulk of intelligence we gained about al Qaeda. This intelligence saved lives and prevented terrorist attacks. These detainees also, according to the documents, played a role in nearly every capture of al Qaeda members and associates since 2002. "

"The activities of the CIA in carrying out the policies of the Bush Administration were directly responsible for defeating all efforts by al Qaeda to launch further mass casualty attacks against the United States. The people involved deserve our gratitude. They do not deserve to be the targets of political investigations or prosecutions. "

"President Obama’s decision to allow the Justice Department to investigate and possibly prosecute CIA personnel, and his decision to remove authority for interrogation from the CIA to the White House, serves as a reminder, if any were needed, of why so many Americans have doubts about this Administration’s ability to be responsible for our nation’s security"

Peter Bergen (O! He got game bay bee!!) was kind enough to peruse thru and expertly share some of the totally hot! and delish details:

Abu Zubaydah, a Palestinian (oh the irony!) al Qaeda logistical cat -- enabler/actualizer -- still with tons of green years ahead of him -- fell into Great Satan's clutches (in the Land of the Pure -- where else?).

Shot up real good, in critical condition (and one hopes -- excruciating agony), the Abu experiance with feet held to the fire were just getting crunk up.

CIA flew in a hot doc from Johns Hopkins to make sure Abu didn't pass on to the perfumed gardens of paradise.

During FBI's tender treatment phase - Abu gave up tons of goodies about creeps in AQ like Khalid Sheik M'Hommed, Jose Padilla and shared some operational methodology.

After such intell was sweetly extracted and acted upon, CIA stepped in with a foreign torture expert and literally -- in a figuritive way -- held Abu's feet to the fire:

"...and Abu Zubaydah was stripped naked, deprived of sleep, subjected to loud noise and wide variations in temperature, and later waterboarded 83 times..."

Oh Snap! -- Say it ain't so!

And the result was nix, nada -- nothing gleaned from Abu -- compared at least to the fun friendly FBI way.

Same thing with KSM. Nothing really happened until Great Satan held his feet to the fire and even then the intell gleaned was kinda thin and not especially correct

"Of the terrorists, alleged and otherwise, cited by the CIA inspector general as being fingered by KSM during his coercive interrogations, only Ohio truck driver Iyman Faris was an actual al Qaeda foot soldier living in the United States who had serious intention to wreak havoc."

"However, he was not much of a competent terrorist: In 2002 he researched the feasibility of bringing down the Brooklyn Bridge by using a blowtorch, an enterprise akin to demolishing the Empire State Building with a firecracker."

Fair enough. Yet this may miss a crucial point.

Enhanced Interrogation Tech -- or torture is a very cool threat to wedge her way into the hearts and minds of committed Al Qaeda, supporters and fence sitters.

These wicked, wicked -- nasty things -- prove that in war time Great Satan is kinda crazy and unpredictable -- all bets are off if creeps or fanboys fall into Great Satan's sharp and painful clutches -- who knows for how long?!

A wonderful signal to the world!

If terrorists raise their hand against Great Satan - they could end up with their assets on the buck naked pyramid pile.

Or have their feet held to the fire.

Pic - "Titular head of GOP on Nat'l Security"

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

In Memory

In respectful appreciation and deepest sympathy. 1932 - 2009. Twilight of a dynasty.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Devil They Know

Tuff to jank with why realists remain so confident about their doctrine, given that changes in the nature of states have benefited Great Satan to the nth!



Every threat to internat’l order after Cold War involved a government that fell short of Western and economic standards.

Every security problem Great Satan felt called upon to address would be alleviated, if not solved altogether, if the regimes responsible for them could be remade to all American specs:

Tolerant, egalitarian societies with a penchant for periodic, transparent elections, a free, uncensored press, a nat’l treasury under public scrutiny, a military under civie control, an independent judiciary under elected gov oversight

Realpolitik critics of daemoneoconservatism amazingly (or perhaps on purpose) fail to include Dr Condoleezza Rice’s caveat - that such a smooth move in the new millennium …

“Is a generational commitment. But it is not a generational commitment in military terms; it is a commitment of our support to them, our political support and an understanding that democracy takes time.”

Regime Changes the fun, friendly way have repeatedly been in Great Satan's "National Interest" since way back.

Enemies, Frenemies and realists alike know it.

And Dr Paul D. Wolfowitz is high priest of Great Satan and all she stands for --

The Devil they know

Regime changes have been a blessing -- not only the peaceful collapse of Soviet Union and the end of apartheid in South Africa, but also with the many transitions from dictatorship to democracy that have deepened security in almost every region of the world -- Deutschland getting re hooked up, SoKo, Philippines, Warsaw Pact, Taiwan etc

Pushy reform

"After all, that's what Reagan did. He conducted serious negotiations with the Soviet Union that achieved real breakthroughs, while also characterizing the regime as an "evil empire," forcibly contesting its foreign policies and pushing hard for internal reforms.

"Ultimately, it was changes inside the Soviet empire, not arms-control talks, that ended the Cold War.

Moreover, there are so many other instances where a disregard for such issues has been totally bass ackwards to the national interest.

"Realists" in the purest def should be addressing the nature of nation states and not ignoring the reality that democratic reform is a powerful force to advance Great Satan's ideal environs:

"Pushing for changes in the nature of states gets complicated the more the United States has genuine common interests with them -- as Americans do, for example, with Egypt on Arab-Israeli peace or with China on managing the global economy.

"Issues of reform should be approached more quietly sometimes, but should not be abandoned. That would be disheartening to reformers who are often instrumental in bringing about the changes the United States seeks through engaging their governments.

"The collapse of the shah's regime in Iran led to something worse for Iranians and for U.S. interests. So in the Arab world, the United States must steer a course between two dangers: on the one hand, that extremists will exploit the opportunities of a more open society and, on the other, that U.S. support for Arab dictators will generate hostility toward America.

"For decades, successive U.S. administrations have preferred stability over democracy in the Arab world. We have seen the result: a superficial stability that has encouraged the growth of extremism, terrorism, and anti-Americanism. When all opposition is suppressed, the forces of change go underground -- and that is where radicalism thrives. Jailing a democratic reformer like Ayman Nour in Egypt is not a way to fight extremism.

"U.S. foreign policy does indeed have multiple goals that must be balanced, but promoting reform is often one of them.

"Brutal regimes will not behave better if the United States speaks nicely about them.

"In fact, the perception of U.S. weakness in supporting its friends is a great disadvantage when negotiating with regimes like those in North Korea and Iran that are quick to perceive vulnerability. These states will negotiate -- if they do -- when they see it in their interest, not because the United States soft-pedals its differences.

"U.S. foreign policy does indeed have multiple goals that must be balanced, but promoting reform is often one of them.

And that is the devil they know

Art -- "Great Satan stares down illegit regimes with democratic realism"

Monday, August 24, 2009

Decline and Fall Part I

Every since Great Satan first became a global superpower, it has been fashionable to speak of her decline.

But in today's world, Great Satan still got game! Her economic and diplo/politary strength, along with the attractiveness of all she stands for ideals, will ensure Her super powers for a long time to come.

"Every ten years, it is decline time in the United States. In the late 1950s, it was the Sputnik shock, followed by the "missile gap" trumpeted by John F. Kennedy in the 1960 presidential campaign. A decade later, Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger sounded the dirge over bipolarity, predicting a world of five, rather than two, global powers. At the end of the 1970s, Jimmy Carter's "malaise" speech invoked "a crisis of confidence" that struck "at the very heart and soul and spirit of our national will."

"A decade later, academics such as the Yale historian Paul Kennedy predicted the ruin of the United States, driven by overextension abroad and profligacy at home. The United States was at risk of "imperial overstretch," Kennedy wrote in 1987, arguing that "the sum total of the United States' global interests and obligations is nowadays far larger than the country's power to defend them all simultaneously." But three years later,

"Washington dispatched 600,000 soldiers to fight the first Iraq war -- without reinstating the draft or raising taxes. The only price of "overstretch" turned out to be the mild recession of 1991.

"Declinism took a break in the 1990s. The United States was enjoying a nice run after the suicide of the Soviet Union, and Japan, the economic powerhouse of the 1980s, was stuck in its "lost decade" of stagnation and so no longer stirred U.S. paranoia with its takeover of national treasures such as Pebble Beach and Rockefeller Center.

"The United States had moved into the longest economic expansion in history, which, apart from eight down months in 2001, continued until 2008. "Gloom is the dominant mood in Japan these days," one Asian commentator reported in 1997, whereas "American capitalism is resurgent, confident and brash."

"That year, the New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman wrote that "the defining feature of world affairs" was "globalization" and that if "you had to design a country best suited to compete in such a world, [it would be] today's America." He concluded on a triumphant note: "Globalization is us."

submitted by Dr Josef Joffe

Pic - "Decline and Fall Mythology"

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Spanky Ban Ki

Whoa! Vikinglander (Norway to be exact) Mona Juul, Norway's second-in-command at UN blistered Gen Sec Moon. Her not so confidential internal report for her country's foreign ministry, which is a major UN funder is significant.

In a memo, she castigates Ban for his lack of vision and leadership. She describes him as "spineless," a "passive observer" to the Myanmar situation, his work as "fruitless," and questions the damage that the semi avuncular "Nowhere Man" has accomplished.

And she didn't even mention Mr Moon's telethon for HAMAS using Syria's Terrorist Bank to launder the fundage.


" Burma is a shining example. There was no shortage of warnings that the Secretary-General should not go at this time. The Americans were among the most sceptical of him going, while the British believed he should. Special Envoy Gambari was also sceptical at the outset, but Ban insisted.

"Gambari noted that recent negative press had made Ban even more determined to visit Burma. After a seemingly fruitless visit by the Secretary-General, the UN's "good offices" will be made even more difficult.


"Another example of weak handling by the Secretary-General is the war in Sri Lanka. The Secretary-General was a powerless observer to thousands of civilians losing their lives and becoming displaced from their homes.

"The authorities in Colombo refused to see the Secretary-General while the war was ongoing, but he was heartily invited -- and accepted an invitation -- as soon as the war was "won." Even though the UN's humanitarian effort has been active and honest enough, the moral voice and authority of the Secretary-General has been missing.

"In other "crises areas" such as Darfur, Somalia, Pakistan, Zimbabwe and not least the Congo, the Secretary-General's appeals, often irresolute and lacking in dedication, seem to fall on deaf ears. Many would also claim that the handling of the investigative committee, following the war in Gaza, ended with an unstable and overly careful follow up.

"More surprising, and all the more disappointing, is that Ban Ki-moon has been almost absent on the issue of disarmament and non-proliferation. This was an issue he himself held forward as a principal area of focus before he took over his post.

Her conclusion kills!

"What all these examples have in common is that a spineless and charmless Secretary-General"

Art "Spanky my Ban-Ki"

Friday, August 21, 2009


Claymore is a large hand and a half - sometimes 2 handed - exploding sword used in perimeter defense.

Invented by rowdy Scottish clansman, claymore is more for smashing and cleaving rather than sticking, jabbing and stabbing.

Claymore is NOT subtle.

News that Great Britain's Scotland gave up a convicted creep - an agent of Libyan state sponsored terrorism - an agent who hands run red with the blood of hundreds of innocents - the infamous Lockerbie bomber .

al-Megrahi is a Libyan agent, a security officer of Libyan Airlines and former director of Libya's Centre for Strategic Studies in Tripoli, Libya .

Released because he's dying of terminal illness to a hero's welcome back in the hood certainly engenders a Whiskey Tango Foxtrot moment.

Libya may have surrendered juicy intell to Great Britain or Great Satan or both to get their boy Elroy back home to die with his family.

Compassion is not really the issue.

Compassion could have been shown by using a claymore on al- Megrahi.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Chicken Fingers

As Afghans prepped to vote in their in their election - courtesy of Great Satan, Great Britain and Australia -- and to be fair -- semi thanks to several noncombatty combat cats from NATO too -- much will be made of the number of voters, cries about a fake election and whispers that Taleban is invincible.

What ev.

Fact is -- boring, inappropriate handwringing -- especially from alledged super smart cats -- leaves out the most import observation of all:

Taliban realizes Great Satan will win it and that Taleban is losing it.

Creating a Taliban code of conduct is significant.

"Taliban published a book outlining a code of conduct for its members. The book – which contains 13 chapters and 67 articles – contains a list of do’s and don’ts, and imposes strict conditions when it comes to the killing of civilians."

In a hood where the lit rate is pretty weak the fact that the Taliban felt it necessary to publish such a book at all indicated that they fear Great Satan's marginalizing influence and ultimate victory.

Just as Surge proved racing to the next life is dumb in Iraq, Taliban fears the AFPAK Surge may make prepping for this life de riguer in the vast trackless wastes of rural Talibanistan

Taleban is scrambling to win some hearts and minds of their own (and maybe get to chop off a few purple girl fingers along the way to defeat).

Sine 44 has promised to send in 20K more troops and hundreds more civilian workers, provide significantly more development and reconstruction assistance to the Afghans, and to increase the size of the Afghan army and police forces.

This infusion of resources sends the message that Great Satan is committed for the long haul. It is these changes, not just the defeat of the Taliban, that will win.

“This is not a war of choice. This is a war of necessity.”

Art - "Bloody Hand!" by Groovy Decay

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Grrl Power

Rumbling over bone jarring ruts in a Humvee, cats from 617th Military Police Company were riding shotgun for a supply convoy when it started raining RPGs.

The squad moved to the side of the road, flanking the insurgents and cutting off their escape route. One team raced through the "kill zone" and into a flanking position, where they assaulted a trench line with grenades and M203 grenade-launcher rounds.

2 troops cleared two trenches chock full of insurgents

When the fight was over, 27 insurgents were dead -- literally shot to pieces or blown apart by grenades, six were wounded, and one was captured.

And it was a girl who led the attack.

Sgt Leigh Ann Hester earned the Silver Star that day -- the first time for a girl since World War II.

When Great Satan cooed up to the military co ed idea eons ago - policy demanded that girls could not serve in frontline combat arms like infantry, armor, Special Forces and most field artillery units.

Not anymore!

"Before 2001, America’s military women had rarely seen ground combat. Their jobs kept them mostly away from enemy lines, as military policy dictates.

"The Afghanistan and Iraq wars, often fought in marketplaces and alleyways, have changed that. In both countries, women have repeatedly proved their mettle in combat. The number of high-ranking women and women who command all-male units has climbed considerably along with their status in the military.

"Nonetheless, as soldiers in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, women have done nearly as much in battle as their male counterparts: patrolled streets with machine guns, served as gunners on vehicles, disposed of explosives, and driven trucks down bomb-ridden roads.

"They have proved indispensable in their ability to interact with and search Iraqi and Afghan women for weapons, a job men cannot do for cultural reasons. The Marine Corps has created revolving units — “lionesses” — dedicated to just this task.

"No one envisioned that Afghanistan and Iraq would elevate the status of women in the armed forces.

"But the Iraq insurgency obliterated conventional battle lines. The fight was on every base and street corner, and as the conflict grew longer and more complicated, the all-volunteer military required more soldiers and a different approach to fighting.

"Commanders were forced to stretch gender boundaries, or in a few cases, erase them altogether

Lt. Col. Michael A. Baumann reveals in "Adjust Fire" that necessity really is the mommie of inventive tactical designs and operational methodology:

“We had to take everybody. Nobody could be spared to do something like support.”

The reality of war has far surpassed old school policies. Like Col Baumann says -

"Debate it all you want folks, but the military is going to do what the military needs to do. And they are needing to put women in combat.”

In AFPAKland, Marines are deploying grrl power

During a mission, girl Teuffel Hunden donned brightly colored head and neck scarves as a sign of cultural respect to the Afghan women.

“The scarves showed the Afghan women that we were women too, and we respect their culture,” Lt. Johanna Shaffer said. “They automatically felt more comfortable with us. They showed us their homes, and even though they didn’t have much, they were still very generous to us. They accepted us as sisters, and we’re glad that we were here to help them.”

Although Afghan women tend to be more reserved than Afghan men, they still have a large influence on their children, Shaffer said, so engaging with them is important.

“If the women know we are here to help them, they will likely pass that on to their children. If the children have a positive perspective of alliance forces, they will be less likely to join insurgent groups or participate in insurgent activities.”

Pic - "Sgt Theresa" by Gervasio Sanchez/Associated Press

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Indo China War of 2012

"China will launch an attack on India before 2012."

Indian Defense Review fires the first shot!

"India’s chaotic but successful democracy is an eyesore for the authoritarian regime in Beijing. Unlike India, China is handicapped as it lacks the soft power - an essential ingredient to spread influence."

"The stated withdrawal from Iraq by America now allows it to concentrate its military surplus on the single front to successfully execute the mission. This surplus, in combination with other democratic forces, enables America to look deep into resource rich Central Asia, besides containing China’s expansionist ambitions."

"The Chinese leadership wants to rally its population behind the communist rule. As it is, Beijing is already rattled, with its proxy Pakistan, now literally embroiled in a civil war, losing its sheen against India.

"Above all, it is worried over the growing alliance of India with the United States and the West, because the alliance has the potential to create a technologically superior counterpoise. "

"There is no overall cost benefit ratio in integrating Taiwan by force with the mainland, since under the new dispensation in Taipei, the island is ‘behaving’ itself. Also, the American presence around the region is too strong for comfort.

"There is also the factor of Japan to be reckoned.

"Though Beijing is increasing its naval presence in the South China Sea to coerce into submission those opposing its claim on the Sprately Islands, at this point of time in history it will be unwise for recession-hit China to move against the Western interests, including Japan.

"Therefore, the most attractive option is to attack a soft target like India and forcibly occupy its territory in the Northeast. "

Autocratic China responds that:

"The Western powers would not take kindly to a Chinese conflict with India, leaving China rightfully reluctant to use force in any case other than extreme provocation. US forces well deployed in Afghanistan and Pakistan could check any Chinese military action in South Asia.

"And then there is also the nuclear problem: there has never been a war between two nuclear equipped nations, and both sides would have to be extremely cautious in decision-making, giving more room for less violent solutions.

"Further, it is important to realize there is no reason for China to launch a war, against India in particular. Economic development, rather than military achievement, has long been the consensus of value among China’s core leaders and citizens.

"Despite occasional calls to “Reoccupy South Tibet (occupied Chinese territory),” China’s decision-making is always cautious. It is not possible to see a Chinese “incursion” into India, even into Tawang, an Indian-occupied Buddhist holy land over which China argues a resolute sovereignty.

"Last but not least, China’s strategy, even during the 1962 border war with India, has been mainly oriented towards the east, where Taiwan is its core interest, while the recent Xinjiang unrest highlights China’s growing anti-terrorist tasks in the northwest - both issues are more important than the southwest border.

"If China were to be involved in a war within the next three years, as unlikely as that seems, the adversary would hardly be India. The best option, the sole option, open for the Chinese government is to negotiate around the disputed territory.

More than one scenario though:

"An aggressive Indian policy toward China, a "New Forward Policy," may aggravate border disputes and push China to use force despite China’s appeal, as far as possible, for peaceful solutions.

"Consider the 1959-1962 conflict, the only recorded war between China and India in the long history of their civilizations.

"After some slight friction with China in 1959, the Indian army implemented aggressive action known as its Forward Policy.

"The Chinese Army made a limited but successful counterattack in 1962.

"India has started to deploy more troops in the border area, similar to its Forward Policy 50 years ago."

China's latest White Paper painted a difficult pic --

The nightmare for Chinese security planners, based on their reading of China’s predation by foreign powers during the age of imperialism, is of external sponsorship of “splittist” or dissident movements that undermine the cohesion of the Chinese state.

“Domestic security and international security are interwoven and
interactive -- the Motherland faces strategic maneuvers and containment from the outside while having to face disruption and sabotage by separatist and hostile forces from the inside.”

Pic - "Facing manuevers and containment" by CenturyChina

Sunday, August 16, 2009

We Are All Nazis Now

Rowdy protesters being dubbed "Un American", displaying 3rd Reich's hackenkruz , The White House's "fishy' informer site , concern about a master race lite euthanasia "Death Panel" that Senator Grassley mercifully killed off - one thing is certain.

In the current putsch about Health Care, Health Care Reform and Health Care Insurance Reform - apparently -- it really doesn't matter where anybody stands.

We are all Nazis now.

Pic "National Anti Socialist Partie"

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Spy Wars II

As Natan Sharansky pointed out in the essential "Case For Democracy," unfree regimes and (by dangerous extrapolation) non state and semi state intolerant militias and rocket rich 'Resistance Movements' (with an amazing ability to resist their own legit govs way more than any foreign hanky panky) need 2 things to hang on and hope for the best:

External Enemies - Like o, say - Great Satan - and her democrazy little sister - Little Satan.

And - Internal Enemies. Like girls, facebook, free choice, human rights - and spies -- real or imagined.

Like the rocket rich rejectionist control freaks in Hiz'B'Allah. Led by the creepy Body Part Collector General, HBA -- the most proficient killers and serial tormentors of Americans in history til 911 time -- recently stymied in Lebanon's electile dysfunction with yet another attempt to gain legitimacy while seducing a segue fusing a real nation state with an operational terrorist group.

So -- HBA is doing the deal about spies. Spies here -- spies there -- all working for Little Satan of course.

"Lebanese OTV network, owned by politician Michel Aoun, reported that the army had broken into a structure in Jabal al-Baruch in April and found equipment suspected of serving Israeli intelligence.

"The report said the army had intervened after receiving intelligence regarding an “illegal internet company” operating within its borders.

"The alleged discovery is the most recent victory claimed by Hezbollah in its current battle against what it claims are Israeli espionage rings operating in Lebanon.

"The organization also boasts the arrest of dozens of alleged spies, one of whom was recently sentenced to life in prison by a Lebanese military court.

Oh Snap! Illegal Internet Activities?

While it's true Little Satan recently used some kind of cyber chicanery to strike Syria's not so secret tender portions -- and the nigh instant severing of Internet landlines in Syria even outlawing Face Book made a good case -- most likely this is a fake believe incident designed to bolster slagging support for HBA at home.

Like General Sec's own facebook account.

Using Har Dov (Shee Bah Farms in Arabic) -- an after the show ho taken as righteous real estate booty back in the day -- as a very unconvincing raison d'etre for HBA's continued 'resistance,' collection of weaponry stocks and continued defiance of UN Reso#1701 (PDF).

8 square miles of contested turf (22 kilometers squared - 'bout the size of 4 Super Walmarts with attendent periphery retail spots) anywhere else on earth could be negotiated without militias -- though in a hood where 'honor' is often found betwixt a girl's legs - all bets are off.

Art - "Nasrallah is the cedar in our Lebanese flag, the master of us all" by Disturbingly Yellow

Friday, August 14, 2009

The Long Haul

At a recent tete' a tete' (of the Long Island type) several field grade combat cats mentioned the need for speed and swift contemplation and implementation of girding Great Satan's loins for the Long Haul.

The Overseas Contingency (code for WAR) against radical non state actors, creepy super villians and their abetting nation states aside, Great Satan will be facing an increasingly assertive China and an emerging “nuclear arc of instability” (Gap Shrinking -- nicht war? ) stretching from the Persian Gulf to the Sea of Japan.

Not to mention Land of the Pure's 60plus warheads.

44's administration needs a clear understanding of these challenges, and how they differ from the “traditional” threats to security that drove previous defense reviews. A healthy dose of realpolitik rejectus wouldn't hurt either.

Sounds a lot like the ultimate Vulcan's desire to reshape Great Satan's military into a leaner, meaner force -- able to act out simultaneously on multiple fronts and hyper power anywhere -- anytime.

While the idea of getting Fully Crunk has been out there, Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments has an interesting, exhaustive PDF report out that discusses the Long Haul:

The Challenges to Great Satan

Translates the principal challenges to US security into a representative set of contingencies in order to determine what resources will be required, and how they should be apportioned among forces and capabilities.

Military Power and Concepts of Operation

Provides the connective tissue between the threats to US security and the capabilities and force elements needed to address the new challenges confronting the nation.

The Defense Budget

Overviews the budget environment and explores a range of options to make the Services’ plans more affordable.

The Defense Industrial Base

Addresses defense industry’s role as a strategic asset, and how it can best serve in that role.


Examines recruitment and retention of quality people in sufficient numbers at an acceptable cost.

Training, Operational Art, and Strategic Competence

Assesses the need for an overhaul of training and education of America’s service personnel and the importance of strategic thinking in senior leaders.

Restructuring the Alliance Portfolio

Considers the nature and type of alliances the United States needs in order to meet existing and emerging security challenges.

Ground Forces

Explores how the US Army and Marine Corps might best be organized, structured, modernized, and postured to meet existing and emerging challenges to US security.

Special Forces

Addresses the expansion and growing role of US Special Forces.

Maritime Forces

Addresses how US maritime forces might best be organized, structured, modernized, and postured to meet existing and emerging challenges to US Security.

Air and Space Forces

Explores how Air and Space Forces might best be organized, structured, modernized, and postured to meet existing and emerging challenges to US Security.

Strategic Forces

Examines the circumstances under which nuclear strategy and force posture decisions must be made today.

Modernization Strategies

Explores potential modernization strategies that can best support the US defense posture in an era of great geopolitical uncertainty and rapid technological change.

Organizing for National Security

Assesses how the United States Government can best organize itself to ensure effective strategic planning and execution of strategy.

A Grand Strategy for the United States

Synthesizes the findings and insights of the study series.

The Grand Strategy portion makes a very lefthanded compliment to the idea that perhaps, Free World shouldn't tolerate the existence of WMD crunk up caliphates, illegit, unelected, unfree, unfun (and many nigh unhinged) Regimes that have a penchant for tormenting their own people and their neighbors, fiddle about with WMD and tend to attack any democrazy in weapons range.

Instead, they should be annihilated.

Yes, it's true that "...someone much worse..." than say Sudan's War Criminal Field Marshal President For Life, Syria's Dr General President For Life or Dear Leader's dear son or another jumped up Ayatollah could indeed rise up and seize the reins of power.

Yet -- it's equally true that "...someone much worse..." would have much to contemplate about the R2P clause, modern state craft and the risk of nuclear chicanery with non state actors as they survey the still smoking craters of their predecessors.

Pic - "Great Satan: In It to Win It"

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Weapon Of Choice

It's an article of faith among musical cats worldwide - when it comes to plank spanking nothing delivers like a block of marine grade mahogany capped off with a premium AAA rated Maple top.

Lovingly crafted into a sexyful body shape - nigh voluptuous - armed with dual 'humbucking' pick ups (kinda like microphones for the strings) world famous American made Gibson Les Paul is the weapon of choice.

Her creator - the famous Les Paul passed on today - yet his influential design lives on.

Les Paul invented doubletracking - a recording concept in constant use today and as the inventor of 'sweep picking" (True! That's him doing all the incredible fret work on the ancient 'Beverly Hillbillies" ), his gitfittling style inspired rockers from way back.

Zeppelin's Jimmy Page brought the design back to life in the 1970's along with KISS cat Ace Frehley. The 80's saw instant metal gods like Randy Rhoads of Ozzy fame deploy Les Paul, GNR's Slash and metal man Zakk Wylde all have devised their own Les Paul guitars.

This is significant.

Music - like free speech - is inherent in all people. Freedom - freedom of thought, action and the ability to craft and create to the hearts desire is readily available in the possesion of Les Paul's design.

There is a reason why certain creepy regimes fear American emo, pop, rock, funk, blues, crunk, hip hop and sacred music.

When it comes to 'soft power' - the Les Paul is a weapon of choice.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Eastern Resolve II

Way back in the last millennium, when Europa raged red with fire and blood -- Deutschland's cutting edge panzer gruppes struck fast, hard and deep into mommie Russia coming within field glasses range of the Kremlin itself.

Advent of a literally killer winter, Soviet Siberian divisions and the overstretched Wehrmacht combined to stymie the Deutsch advance and hurl invaders away from Mockba, saving the Stalinesque regime.

After the front lines stabilized and panic stricken panzerwaffe recovered their nerves (and the sacking of several Field Marshals) German commanders began re reading their Caulaincourt - the definitive account of Napoleon's rowdy rush into Russia and the horrific slow freezing retreat from Moscow.

Fast forward into the new millennium and the current overseas contingencies in AFPAKland may explain why certain cats are re reading their Stoker - "6 Reasons Why Insurgencies Lose" and Cahil's counter piece "6 Reasons Why Counterinsurgencies Lose" (PDF only).

The recent "Operation Strike of the Sword" has stalled - because of "Taliban's Winning Strategy."

"...The failure in Helmand (yes, the offensive has already failed) means it is impossible to control the countryside. Even 50,000 reinforcements will not change that. More troops in Kandahar are useless.

"Taliban have made quick progress in the northeast (Baghlan, Kunduz, Takhar) and northwest (Badghis, Herat, Ghor). To stop them in these provinces should be the absolute priority. The last German operation in Kunduz did not do that.

"The Taliban, which have been dominant in the countryside (in the Pashtun belt), are now attacking the cities (Gardez, Khost, Pul-i Alam). So this must be the other priority: to secure the cities.

"But it is impossible to do more than partially secure the cities in the Pashtun belt. Maybe it is not too late to stop the Taliban (or slow them) in the north, but I don't think it is a priority for the U.S. military now, and more troops next year (since 2002, it is always "more troops next year") will not change positively the situation...."

While insurgencies are often praised and perversely admired for their magical abilities to adapt, evolve and continue the mission - such nigh bromance misses a crucial point:

When it comes to combat flexibility on any tactical, strategic and theatre wide scale -- Great Satan wrote the book on it.

Operation "Eastern Resolve II" kicks off with leathernecked Teuffel Hunden choppering in unannounced into a Taliban stronghold - literally taking them on in the living room.

Fighting lasted more than eight hours, as Harrier jets streaked overhead.

"Eastern Resolve 2," is designed to break the monthslong stalemate in this southern valley where the Taliban are solidly entrenched. By occupying Dahaneh, the Marines hope to isolate insurgents in woods and mountains, away from civilian centers.

"The goal is to cut off the Taliban from a major rear base, and reclaim the area's market district. It is hoped this would have a ripple effect through nearby villages, making civilians more willing to cooperate with NATO forces. The Taliban levy taxes and maintain checkpoints in Dahaneh, which serves as a main trading route through northern Helmand, which produces 60 percent of the world's opium."

Despite concerns about Surging rural turf -- instead of Iraq's cities -- there are some significant points to remember:

"Sure, it may be that the Taliban aren't losing, which for any insurgent group is part of a strategy to win so as to wait out the domestic political clocks in the U.S. and other NATO countries.

"But it's worth recalling that the Taliban are a rather small force of up to perhaps 20,000 fighters that hasn't been able to hold on to towns in the more than seven years they have been fighting, let alone take cities.

"There will never be a Taliban Tet Offensive or anything remotely close to it. The Taliban are not winning, nor are they enjoying the upper hand.

"The movement of religious warriors will try to show the black flag of jihad around the August 20th election.

"It will not be much of an impressive effort.

Art - "Eastern Resolve II" by ThunderBob

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

"We Can Win"

As James Mann pointed out in his essential piece "Rise of the Vulcans," Great Satan has developed a super savvy cadre of cats whose careers revolve around Pentagon - either they served in the military, worked for the DoD or studied and taught them - sometimes - all of the above.

As one of the 2nd generation of Vulcans (v2.0) Dr Kimberly Kagan is pres and creator of Institute for the Study of War and the author of The Surge: A Military History. She has traveled twice to Afghanistan this year to review military operations, the second time as part of Gen. Stanley McChrystal's formal strategic assessment team.

Swapping out commanders in AFPAKland and General Mc's eagerly awaited assesment of the sitch in theatre has sparked concern that AFPAK is going going gone - that Taliban has gained the upper hand in Afghanistan.

Dr Kimberly has a great piece on the challenges, past errors and future designs for actually winning in AFPAK @ FoPo Online.

Her climax answers the quiz "Can We Win?"-

"Some answer simply and sharply in the negative: They claim that Afghanistan has never been centrally ruled (which is wrong) and that it has been the "graveyard of empires" (which is true in only a specific handful of cases).

"Failure is not at all inevitable. The war in Afghanistan has suffered almost from the start from a lack of resources, especially the time and attention of senior policymakers. The United States prioritized the war in Iraq from 2007 until 2009, for strategically sound reasons.

"Some of this parsimony also comes from flawed theories of counterinsurgency: U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, for example, misreads the Soviet experience in Afghanistan, which has consistently led him to argue incorrectly against expanding the size of the force there, claiming that it increases the risks of failure.

"We can win in Afghanistan, but only if we restructure the campaign and resource it properly. Adding more resources to the military effort as it has been conducted over the past few years, without fundamentally changing its conception, design, and execution, would achieve little.

"This was also the case in Iraq before the surge, and the change in strategy and campaign plan that followed was as important to success as the additional resources.

"This explains why McChrystal might adopt a different campaign design -- perhaps requiring additional military resources -- when he submits his formal assessment to the U.S. secretary of defense and NATO secretary-general sometime after the Afghan elections.

"The fact that we have not been doing the right things for the past few years in Afghanistan is actually good news at this moment. A sound, properly resourced counterinsurgency has not failed in Afghanistan; it has never even been tried. So there is good reason to think that such a new strategy can succeed now.

"But we have to hurry, for as is often the case in these kinds of war, if you aren't winning, you're losing.

Art -"Kimberly Kills" by Ridiculous Nicholaus