Monday, November 30, 2009

Taliban Media Blitz

The daemoneoconically hot! Institue For the Study of War features kindred spirit Jeffrey Dressler's excellent tete' a tete' (PDF - natch!) about Taliban's media strategy to try and stall any hope for Afghanistan.

Money shots include:

"As the world awaits the highly anticipated announcement of the President’s Afghan War strategy, the Taliban is actively trying to influence the debate in Washington through a sophisticated information campaign. Emphasizing the intractability of the conflict, the Taliban seek to dissuade the White House from investing more blood and treasure in a war that they contend will be a bloody, drawn-out struggle. However, there is little truth in the Taliban’s media blitz. It is a strategic mistake for decision makers in Washington to buy-in to the Taliban’s propaganda efforts.

"The Taliban is aggressively attempting to rebrand their image and feed talking points to those in favor of de-escalation. Last month, the Taliban’s senior leadership released a statement claiming that, "they did not have any agenda to harm other countries including Europe, nor do we have such agenda today." This release coincided with a New York Times story claiming that the Obama administration has begun to define the Taliban as a group that "does not express ambitions of attacking the United States."

"Of course, nothing could be farther from the truth.

"Earlier this year, a spokesman for the Taliban’s media wing said, "After removing America from our homeland and defeating them, we would then have achieved half of the work to free our occupied Muslim countries because with the collapse America… NATO will collapse. And all the towers of tyranny will collapse in the region, including Israel and Zionism, which receives its military, economic and political power from America." When asked if Afghanistan will become a center to attack targets outside of Afghanistan, he replied, "… After liberating Afghanistan we will do what concerns us of principle Islamic missions."

"The Taliban clearly see the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan as an attack not only on their organization, but on Islam writ-large. They will not be satisfied with vanquishing America from their historical homeland, as they see their struggle as fundamental to Islamic missions across the globe. This is precisely the reason why Al Qaeda was allowed to train, plan, and launch attacks from Afghanistan. The Taliban are closely watching the debate unfolding in Washington and offering their insight on pending legislation.

"Recently, the Taliban’s day-to-day operational leader, Mullah Barader, released a statement directly addressed to President Obama, Carl Levin, and the Senate Armed Services Committee’s proposal to include “re-integration funding” in the Senate’s annual defense appropriations bill. As in Iraq, Senator Levin envisions doling out financial incentives for Taliban fighters who would be willing to switch sides. Barader urges the President that this strategy is bound to fail, as his fighters are not simply hired-hands, but deeply ideological and committed jihadists dedicated to the independence of the Afghan state and the widespread
establishment of Sharia law...

Pic "No one you can save that can't be saved"

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Narrative

Usually this cat is about as exciting as trekking to the hardware store with paw paw to fetch something called 'dryer hose.'

Yet even the lesser among us can score a direct hit every so often:

"The Narrative is the cocktail of half-truths, propaganda and outright lies about America that have taken hold in the Arab-Muslim world since 9/11. Propagated by jihadist Web sites, mosque preachers, Arab intellectuals, satellite news stations and books — and tacitly endorsed by some Arab regimes — this narrative posits that America has declared war on Islam, as part of a grand “American-Crusader-Zionist conspiracy” to keep Muslims down.

"Yes, after two decades in which U.S. foreign policy has been largely dedicated to rescuing Muslims or trying to help free them from tyranny — in Bosnia, Darfur, Kuwait, Somalia, Lebanon, Kurdistan, post-earthquake Pakistan, post-tsunami Indonesia, Iraq and Afghanistan — a narrative that says America is dedicated to keeping Muslims down is thriving.

"Although most of the Muslims being killed today are being killed by jihadist suicide bombers in Pakistan, Iraq, Afghanistan and Indonesia, you’d never know it from listening to their world. The dominant narrative there is that 9/11 was a kind of fraud: America’s unprovoked onslaught on Islam is the real story, and the Muslims are the real victims — of U.S. perfidy

"Have no doubt: we punched a fist into the Arab/Muslim world after 9/11, partly to send a message of deterrence, but primarily to destroy two tyrannical regimes — the Taliban and the Baathists — and to work with Afghans and Iraqis to build a different kind of politics. In the process, we did some stupid and bad things. But for every Abu Ghraib, our soldiers and diplomats perpetrated a million acts of kindness aimed at giving Arabs and Muslims a better chance to succeed with modernity and to elect their own leaders.

"This narrative suits Arab governments. It allows them to deflect onto America all of their people’s grievances over why their countries are falling behind. And it suits Al Qaeda, which doesn’t need much organization anymore — just push out

"The Narrative over the Web and satellite TV, let it heat up humiliated, frustrated or socially alienated Muslim males, and one or two will open fire on their own. See: Major Hasan.

"What to do? Many Arab Muslims know that what ails their societies is more than the West, and that The Narrative is just an escape from looking honestly at themselves. But none of their leaders dare or care to open that discussion."

Fman's response is not very convincing - fact is people have been asking about it for nearly a decade - and with a few exceptions - little seems to come of it.

Instead - perhaps Great Satan and the entire "League of Hot! Democrazies" should double down on the narrative and twist it straight into those "leaders that dare not to open it to discussion"

Controlled media, pitiful literacy rates and denying roughly half the population leaning or opportunities of any kind is a sure buzzkill for any endeavor

Those are not leaders. Those are control freaks.

Pic "The Narrative"

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Embracing The Inner CiC

Duke University's Grand Strategery cat and ex National Security Council staffer Dr PD Feaver has a great piece about the possibility that 44 may '...embrace his inner Commander in Chief".

Sweet! Sure hope so, after all 44 has convened no fewer than nine sessions of his war council in the White House situation room, where he has pressed his advisers to provide exhaustive details on the policy options:

"After a clumsily run review process, there are finally some hopeful signs in this regard. For starters, he has evidently opted for a high profile roll-out, a prime time Address to the Nation on a day (Tuesday) that will give him maximum attention, rather than throwing a press release over the transom on the margins of Black Friday, as he has done with other difficult presidential decisions.

"Moreover his team will follow up with long-delayed testimony from General McChrystal, the very person skeptical audiences will want to hear from to validate whether the new strategy has good prospects for success (General Petraeus should also testify and I expect he will).

"But -- and this is yet another good sign -- the Obama Team also seems to be indicating that they will demand that the other cabinet officials shoulder the load of explaining the war to the American people and to Congress. After nearly 8 months of relative absence, it is high time the administration took seriously its obligation to explain the war and mobilize public and political support for it.

"W was not a perfect communicator in chief when it came to explaining the war on terror. But one thing that I suspect every American, even or perhaps especially those who opposed him, understood: Bush believed that the wars he was leading were worth winning and he was willing to sacrifice the things that were his to sacrifice (things like political and public popularity) so that America could prevail in them. In other words: He embraced his unexpected role as commander in chief and ranked that above his other assignments."

Some signs that ditherus maximus is still with us:

The generals end up shouldering a disproportionate amount of the PR and congressional outreach load.

He ignores Republicans and complains about how all of these problems are the fault of you-know-who and "8 years of drift."

He and his team describe the Afghan effort as a burden to be ended.

He and his team avoid words like success, victory, and win, replacing them with "exit strategy," "ending," and "withdrawal." Success/victory/winning is defined as "U.S. troops leave."

He and his team describe American and allied troops as victims, and he describes Afghanistan as a place where people have been killing each other for years (or decades, or centuries) and so there really are no good guys or bad guys in this fight.

He thanks the troops but makes no promises that he will see the mission through to success. Instead, he simply promises them that a grateful nation will give them and their families a lavish array of veterans benefits once they come home.

He tells Americans that they can have security on the cheap, and, in fact, they will be safer and more secure if only they leave Afghanistan as soon as possible.

And some hot non mistakable signals about manning up and doing the CiC gig to the nth:

His follow-through on messaging is sustained and vigorous (and matched by a similar on-message effort by the senior White House staff and cabinet-level officials).

He reaches out to Republicans, thanking them for their commitment to the war effort and promising to work with them. (If he really wants to show self-confidence, he might even say some kind words about President Bush and his courage as a war-time leader, but it is perhaps unreasonable to expect such a transcendently classy gesture at this stage.)

He and his team describe the Afghan effort as a war to be won.

He and his team sketch a vision of "success" in terms of achievable objectives. Any discussion of an "exit strategy" is similarly framed in terms of mission success.

He and his team describe the American (and allied) troops who are fighting as heroes who are fighting to defend our freedoms against malevolent enemies that really do seek to do us harm.

He thanks our troops as well as our allies, including our Afghan allies, for the sacrifices they are making and he promises them that on his watch he will do everything necessary to see that those sacrifices will be redeemed by seeing the war through to a successful conclusion.

He levels with the American people about the costly road ahead, but explains why alternatives would be even costlier.

Pic - 'Embracing"

Friday, November 27, 2009

Attitude Check!

"We are engaged in a great global conflict, one that is no less serious because it is unconventional and asymmetrical.

"Outreach, engagement, and exercises in “conflict resolution” are useful when the U.S. has a dispute with Mexico or when the Netherlands disagrees with Luxembourg. But this approach makes no sense when dealing with self-proclaimed jihadis eager to use 21st-century weapons to achieve 7th-century goals.

"Iran’s ruling mullahs have been killing Americans for decades — for example, in Beirut, Iraq, and most recently in Afghanistan. They write “Death to America!” on their missiles. It would be both foolhardy and irresponsible to let such extremists acquire nuclear weapons in the hope that somehow, when their capabilities match their intentions, they will suddenly decide they would prefer our respect rather than our destruction.

"If we are to prevent our enemies from doing the kind of damage they intend, we must stay on offense. We need to keep our enemies nervous, under pressure, and on the run. We’ll need to go after the bad guys in their training camps, laboratories, and safe houses — wherever those may be. We’ll need to force them to continually look over their shoulders and worry that they may be killed or captured — and being captured should not mean they are rewarded with a global stage to spout their propaganda at American taxpayer expense.

"We need to choose: Do we intend to advance or retreat, hunt or be hunted — win or lose? There is no fortress we can construct, no balance of power and terror we can achieve, no gesture or concession that will make us inoffensive to our enemies. When the barbarians are at the gate, you need to do more than lock up — and we haven’t even done that yet.

"George Orwell articulated a fundamental rule of national security: “People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.” Most of the West is now led by people who believe that rule may have once applied but no longer. If that doesn’t keep you awake at night, nothing will."

Pic - "Asymmetrical Anarchy"

Thursday, November 26, 2009


To be alive and an American in America at this point in time is the ultimate life to live in civilization's crowning achievement - superior in any endeavor

Off all the millions of things to be thankful for - the things that come so easily to recite and the majority that doesn't. Me Maws, Paw paws, rowdy little boy cuz'ses that want to wrestle and beat the living daylights out of you, low deductable auto insurance - all the great stuff that makes life so sweet.

Perhaps the most awesome blessing anyone could have to be thankful for is America.

Everything else seems to fall into place.

Pic - 4am Mall Call 2005

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

New Moon

Hanging out within 8 inch SP Howitzer range of any of Great Satan's mega plex cinemas - the buzz about New Moon is nigh undeniable. Hottie nosferatu (cut like an M1 panzer) are on fire!

"New Moon and Twilight is the ultimate female teen romantic fantasy, about the awkward female outsider who finds a complex, deep, dark male outsider, the one all the other girls wish they had. In this case, standard teen romance becomes a kind of teen gnosticism, since here the brooding James Dean happens to have preternatural powers and is clued in to the secrets of the universe."

As best understood, traditional Victorian Era vampire gossip evolved into something known as sexyful suppression. Faint notions of egalitarianism began to reward the ancient pre positioned Greek concept of individualism and busted out of her cocoon as Free Choice.

In the new millenium, modern tall tail tales of vampires and choice undead could be interpreted as resisting the vampire's sexyfulness - remaining chaste in the face of hot, wet, sticky breaths of illicit allures, eternal youth and life.

Zooming out of such stunning social commentary and righteous realism re:Team Edward or Team Jacob, the temptation to compare Great Satan's diplomilitary bona fides with vampires is - huh - biting.

Consider - Capitalism manifests herself as a bloodsucker to some: draining all the phat booty resources - working an indigenous working class to death, sucking up tons of bling, power and prestige that maintain the parasitical parasite healthy, wealthy and wise.

Team Great Satan?

Like any hot! vampiress worth a lick, she teases the entire world with the forever tingling tingles of desire of free choice.

And like Jonathan Harker who tripped head first into Count Dracula's bed chamber, wall to wall and with super hot sexy succubi and realised too late that doom came with crimson lipstick and sharp sharp pointy teeth, today's despots face the same dilemma as the last millennium's despots.

America - Great Satan - embodies all their captives peoples hold dear - freedom, choice, fun and living life to the nth. Thus they are driven to try and control media, cut off the outside world as much as they can and try to hang on with computerized police states and true believers.

It is Great Satan's natural function, for she is the one truly revolutionary country in the world for more than 2 centuries. She does it automatically, and that is precisely why the tyrants hate her guts, and are driven to attack her. An enormous advantage, tyrants fear her, and their oppressed peoples want what she offers: freedom.

New Moon indeed.

Pic "Twighlight/New Moon"

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

COIN Collection

Interest in counterinsurgency comes and goes. During the 1950s and 1960s, soldiers, politicians, and scholars wrote voluminously on what was sometimes called “revolutionary war,” a supposedly new mode of conflict that enabled nationalist and communist movements (and some combinations of the two) to thwart or even defeat seemingly stronger European colonial powers.

The Vietnam War generated a rich literature on the topic, but attention waned with the U.S. withdrawal from Indochina and the American desire to avoid irregular warfare in the future. In recent years, however, hard experiences in Afghanistan and Iraq have rekindled interest in the subject and caused even some experts to reconsider old ways of waging “the war of the flea.”

1st off - a book on how not to do COIN - Max Hasting's horrific account of Waffen SS Panzer division 'Das Reich' and atrocities committed on rowdy poorly armed maquis - the French Reistence - and reprisals against unarmed women and children.

Now - the good stuff:

Guerrilla Strategies: An Historical Anthology From the Long March to Afghanistan. Edited by Gérard Chaliand. University of California Press, 1982.

Counterinsurgency in Modern Warfare. Edited by Daniel Marston and Carter Malkasian. Osprey Publishing, 2008.

"These two anthologies present a broad range of texts on the subject, from canonical treatments to less well-known offerings that are useful and relevant. Those who can read French would do well to consult the massively updated edition of Gérard Chaliand’s collection (Èditions Gallimard, 2008 -- somebody please translate it!), but even the 1982 English version is a superb assemblage of first-hand descriptions of guerrilla war by insurgent and counterinsurgent groups alike.

"Chaliand is a wise old war hound who began studying these matters in the field during the early 1960s, and he continues to do so today. Daniel Marston and Carter Makasian present what is essentially a companion volume, covering roughly the same period (the twentieth century) but relying on scholars more than participants or theoreticians.

"The editors contribute sober and thoughtful analyses of the Afghan and Iraq conflicts, but the strength of this volume is its summary of important insurgencies, including such classic cases as Northern Ireland and the Palestinian intifadas.

Counterinsurgency Warfare: Theory and Practice. By David Galula. Praeger Security International Academic Cloth, 2006.

"This is a short, powerful monograph written by a French officer with long experience in China, Greece, and Algeria, among other places. Even though it has been reprinted, it is remarkably hard to find, in part because it is one of the first books soldiers look to buy -- for good reason -- when they go off to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan. The basics are all here, including a shrewdly balanced handling of the issue of hearts and minds: David Galula does not display the ruthlessness of other French counterinsurgents, but he is under no illusions about the ways in which all belligerents try to force the population at large to choose sides.

War Comes to Long An: Revolutionary Conflict in a Vietnamese Province. By Jeffrey Race. University of California Press, 1972.

"This is a careful, well-written book that bears out most of Galula’s conclusions. Jeffrey Race’s close study of insurgency in a single province of Vietnam has many virtues, but perhaps the most important is the in-depth treatment of why populations choose sides. It is a cliché, though true nevertheless, that in most revolutions only small minorities oppose or support a government, while the majority simply hopes to get by in chaotic and dangerous times. Race is particularly insightful on how conventional forces, seized with the desire to close with the enemy and destroy it, can fundamentally misunderstand the wars in which they are engaged and undermine the causes for which they are fighting.

"Baghdad at Sunrise: A Brigade Commander’s War in Iraq. By Peter R. Mansoor.
This is the best memoir by a tactical commander who has served in Iraq. A trained military historian who later served as executive officer to General David Petraeus, Peter Mansoor commanded the First Brigade of the First Armored Division in Iraq from 2003 to 2004. He witnessed the transition from conventional to irregular warfare and conducted a brilliant expulsion of Muqtada al-Sadr’s extremists from one of the holiest cities in the Shia world, Karbala.

"The Bear Trap: Afghanistan’s Untold Story. By Mohammed Yousaf and Mark Adkin. L. Cooper, 1992.

"Mohammed Yousaf is a former senior officer in the Pakistani intelligence services, and his book, written with Mark Adkin, gives an account of Pakistan’s support for -- and, in some ways, manipulation of -- the war against the Soviets in Afghanistan. It will set on edge the teeth of some of those in the CIA and elsewhere with whom Yousaf worked, but no matter: this valuable, if not always reliable, portrayal of how a less developed country can help run a lethal insurgency against a great power should occasion sober reflection.

"The Battle of Algiers. Directed by Gillo Pontecorvo. 1967.
and Bloody Sunday, Directed by Paul Greengrass. 2002.

"These two movies get to the heart of the counterinsurgency dilemma. Gillo Pontecorvo’s cinematic treatment of the 1957 contest between the Algerian National Liberation Front (FLN) and the French military for control of the capitol of Algeria is remarkable in many ways. Pontecorvo sides with the FLN, but the fictional French commanding officer, Colonel Mathieu, also receives sympathetic treatment.

"Although the film was entirely staged, it has a newsreel quality to it, reinforced by the fact that many of the actors had in fact taken part in the events described, and it is chillingly realistic in its depiction of the use of terror by both sides.

"Paul Greengrass’ account of the 1972 shooting of Catholic protestors by the British army in Derry uses similar techniques (and casting) to portray the dynamics of the conflict in Northern Ireland.

"It, too, has a point of view, but somehow manages to depict all the players empathetically. If The Battle of Algiers makes too strong a claim that violence on both sides can be controlled, purposive, and effective, Bloody Sunday is more convincing in suggesting that in such settings violence can escalate for all kinds of reasons, with devastating and unforeseen consequences.

Small Wars Journal.

"This Web site has become an extraordinary gathering place for today’s self-described “COIN community” -- a tight-knit group of military, think-tank, and academic types who study counterinsurgency issues with what might be considered obsessive interest. The articles are of uneven quality, but the resources here, including references and research links, are terrific.

If any worthy goodies were omitted - please add them in your commentary.

Pic - "Eating Soup with a knife"

Monday, November 23, 2009

French Foreign Legion

As soon as the French Foreign Legion moved in this summer, some of the men climbed on the roof of the base headquarters and painted the force’s Latin motto in big white letters.

“Legio Patria Nostra.” The legion is our homeland.

Home has been in many far-flung places for legionnaires during their storied 178-year history — North Africa, the Far East, Mexico, and now the foothills of the Hindu Kush mountains in Afghanistan as part of NATO’s U.S.-led International Security Force.

The legion’s Afghan contingent consists of 750 men of more than 80 nationalities. Some have joined up for high-adrenaline life, some are dodging the law, some have come from poor countries simply to earn a decent wage.

If anything bothers them about the Afghan mission, it’s NATO’s rules of engagement, which stress the need not just to fight the Taliban but to befriend the local population.

“We’re meant for fighting. There’s too much chatting around here,” said Chief Sgt. Alex, downing beers in the legionnaires’ clubhouse at Tora base, an open-air shed whose large flat-screen TV was showing hard-core porn videos to the music of “Viagra,” a Ukrainian techno band.

A 23-year veteran of 17 legion missions, mostly in the Balkans and in former French colonies in Africa, Alex said he was expecting his fifth citation for valor, for a nighttime combat mission with U.S. Special Forces.

Like his comrades, the British-born former pub manager went only by his first name, an alias. The legion gives all recruits a new name and strictly guards their anonymity.

“Legionnaires begin a new life when they join,” explained Capt. Michel. “Each and every one of them is allowed to keep his past a secret.”

It’s part of the legion’s mystique, along with a reputation for ferocity, in battle as well as in the training needed to mold men of many countries and languages into a single force.

Since settling into their base at Tora, in the Surobi district east of Kabul, the legionnaires, who make up almost a third of French troops in the NATO force, have not had many opportunities to fight.

They have pushed two-thirds of the way up the Uzbeen valley nearby, a former Taliban stronghold where their outposts still come under sporadic attack. But most of their mission has been to patrol relatively calm villages, meeting with the “Maleks,” or community leaders, while U.S. and British forces bear the brunt of the fighting in the more volatile Afghan south.

Historically, the legionnaires have viewed themselves as one big family of 7,500 men. Even the officers spend Christmas not at home but on base with their men, and retirees and invalids can live on the legion’s farm in southern France, where they grow and bottle rose wine.

At dinner recently, officers were served Cote du Rhone red wine, while alcohol had been banned at U.S. and British bases in the country.

To enlist in the all-male legion, a man simply has to sign up at a recruiting station on French soil. Officers say police often let illegal migrants go through if they are heading for the legion. One recruit recently bicycled from Mongolia to France, they said.

It’s a tradition that dates to the founding of the legion in 1831, after France was bled by the Napoleonic wars and needed foreign men to help conquer and colonize Algeria.

Five years’ service entitles a recruit to French citizenship. A handful are Afghans, but none are here. The rules bar legionnaires from fighting their native countrymen.

Murderers, rapists and child molesters are banned.

Officers say background checks are done when needed, and legionnaires who lie about their records may be kicked out. Their files are kept secret and they have the right not to talk to or be photographed by the media. One man in Tora is a Harvard and Princeton graduate. He declined to be interviewed, his officers said.

Another American, Private 1st Class Raoul, would not discuss why he spent three months in prison for a felony when he was 18. “I didn’t kill anyone, but I didn’t make anybody proud either,” he said.

A plumber from Virginia Beach, Va., he wanted to join the U.S. military but was turned down because of his record. “I grew tired of being told I was a criminal, so I flew to France,” Raoul said. “I had absolutely nothing keeping me back home.”

Another man, Cpl. Marcus, said he was 7 when he saw legionnaires in action in his home country, the Central African Republic, in the 1980s, and was so impressed “I promised myself I’d join them one day.” After both his parents were killed during the next wave of violence in 1990, Marcus fled and ended up in the legion’s 2nd infantry regiment, now stationed in Tora.

Most legionnaires don’t have a criminal record, officers say. Some joined because of the aura of adventure and romance cultivated over the decades by novels and movies such as Hollywood’s 1936 classic “Morocco,” in which Marlene Dietrich follows her legionnaire lover, played by Gary Cooper, in the North African desert.

Discipline is harsh, and a spell in a legion prison is something of a rite of passage.

Raoul said his hardest challenge was learning French. A corporal teaching him to count to 10 thumped him on the chest each time he flunked a number. Eighteen months later, his French is fluent.

The third of the force whose mother tongue is French are nicknamed Gauls, after the ancient tribe. A lot of Slavic language is also heard, because another third of the men are from Eastern Europe and Russia.

One of the legionnaires is Rushan, a former lieutenant in the Russian army. Now he’s a corporal, but says he earns 1,200 euros a month ($1,780) — as much as a senior Russian commander.

Rushan was born in Kabul, where his father was a colonel in the Soviet army which occupied the country throughout the 1980s.

“Being in Afghanistan again is a bit strange,” he said. He speaks Dari, an Afghan language, and says he landed at an airport his father built.

Raoul, the legionnaire from Virginia, says he didn’t expect to end up in Afghanistan, and his family worries about him. “But my mom is proud of me now.”

Submitted by Alfred de Montesquiou

Pic - FFL 3rd Regiment

Sunday, November 22, 2009

AFPAK Facts Jack

"We exhibit to mankind the remarkable spectacle of a people attacked by unprovoked enemies, without any imputation or even suspicion of offense...

"In our own native land, in defense of the freedom that is our birthright, and which we ever enjoyed til the late violation of it: for the protection of our property, acquired solely by the honest industry of our forefathers and ourselves, against violence actually offered, we have taken up arms.

"We shall lay them down when hostilities shall cease on the part of the aggressors, and all danger of their being renewed shall be removed and not before

Thomas Jefferson 1775

Charge: The illegitimate election of Hamid Karzai means failure for any stepped up effort in Afghanistan.

Response: “Consider the analogous case of Iraq over the last three years,” write Richard Fontaine and John Nagl in the Los Angeles Times. “At the time [of the surge of forces to Iraq], Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki's Shiite-led government was widely viewed as weak and sectarian. An overwhelming number of Sunni Arabs -- who formed the center of gravity of the insurgency -- rejected its legitimacy and had boycotted the December 2005 elections that brought it to power.

The Maliki government had done little to allay these feelings; on the contrary, elements of its security forces participated in sectarian violence against Sunnis through 2006.” Yet Gen. David H. Petraeus' counterinsurgency strategy was able to protect populations, restore order, and make room for the political reconciliation that would not have otherwise been possible.

“Prospects for such an outcome in Afghanistan actually look better now than they did in Iraq in early 2007,” write Fontaine and Nagl, “unlike Iraq -- where success hinged on persuading a critical mass of the Sunni Arab community to accept the bitter reality of a Shiite-led government -- no deep existential issue drives Afghans (primarily Pashtuns) into the arms of the insurgents.”

In fact, all polls and other data indicate that “the national government in Afghanistan almost certainly retains greater legitimacy among the people than did the Iraqi government before things began to turn for the better there.” -- Los Angeles Times

Charge: Afghanistan is too “naturally” tribal and backward for a COIN strategy to work.

Response: In reality, Afghanistan “has been a state since the 18th century (longer than Germany and Italy) and has been governed by strong rulers such as Dost Mohammad, who ruled from 1826 to 1863,” writes Max Boot, in Commentary. “Afghanistan made considerable social, political, and economic progress during the equally long reign of Mohammad Zahir Shah from 1933 to 1973.

The country was actually relatively peaceful and prosperous before a Marxist coup in 1978, followed by a Soviet invasion the next year, triggered turmoil that still has not subsided. . . . Afghanistan has not always been as unstable and violent as it is today. . . it is hard to know why Afghanistan would be uniquely resistant to methods and tactics that have worked in countries as disparate as Malaya, El Salvador, and Iraq.” -- Commentary

Charge: Al Qaeda is our real enemy. COIN focuses unnecessarily on defeating the Taliban and other related groups.

Response: “Al Qaeda does not exist in a vacuum like the -SPECTRE of James Bond movies. It has always operated in close coordination with allies,” write Frederick and Kimberly Kagan in The Weekly Standard. “The anti-Soviet jihad of the 1980s was the crucible in which al Qaeda leaders first bonded with the partners who would shelter them in Afghanistan. Osama bin Laden met Jalaluddin Haqqani, whose network is now fighting U.S. forces in eastern Afghanistan, as both were raising support in Saudi Arabia for the mujahedeen in the 1980s.

They then fought the Soviets together. . . Bin Laden and al Qaeda could not have functioned as they did in the 1990s without the active support of Mullah Omar and Haqqani. The Taliban and Haqqani fighters protected bin Laden, fed him and his troops, facilitated the movement of al Qaeda leaders and fighters, and generated recruits.

They also provided a socio-religious human network that strengthened the personal resilience and organizational reach of bin Laden and his team. Islamist revolution has always been an activity of groups nested within communities, not an undertaking of isolated individuals. . . There is no reason whatever to believe that Mullah Omar or the Haqqanis--whose religious and political views remain closely aligned with al Qaeda's--would fail to offer renewed hospitality to their friend and ally of 20 years, bin Laden.

Al Qaeda’s allies “provide them with shelter and food, with warning of impending attacks, with the means to move rapidly. Their allies provide communications services--runners and the use of their own more modern systems to help al Qaeda's senior leaders avoid creating electronic footprints that our forces could use to track and target them.

Their allies provide means of moving money and other strategic resources around, as well as the means of imparting critical knowledge (like expertise in explosives) to cadres. Their allies provide media support, helping to get the al Qaeda message out and then serving as an echo chamber to magnify it via their own media resources.” -- Weekly Standard

Charge: We can defeat our enemy in Afghanistan with a more limited counterterrorism strategy, using drones and increased intelligence gathering.

Response: “If the United States should adopt a small-footprint counterterrorism strategy, Afghanistan would descend again into civil war,” Frederick Kagan testified before the House Armed Services Committee. “The Taliban group headed by Mullah Omar and operating in southern Afghanistan (including especially Helmand, Kandahar, and Oruzgan Provinces) is well positioned to take control of that area upon the withdrawal of American and allied combat forces. The remaining Afghan security forces would be unable to resist a Taliban offensive.

They would be defeated and would disintegrate. The fear of renewed Taliban assaults would mobilize the Tajiks, Uzbeks, and Hazaras in northern and central Afghanistan. The Taliban itself would certainly drive on Herat and Kabul, leading to war with northern militias.

This conflict would collapse the Afghan state, mobilize the Afghan population, and cause many Afghans to flee into Pakistan and Iran. Within Pakistan, the U.S. reversion to a counterterrorism strategy (from the counterinsurgency strategy for which Obama reaffirmed his support as recently as August) would disrupt the delicate balance that has made possible recent Pakistani progress against internal foes and al Qaeda.” -- House Armed Services Committee

In Commentary, Max Boot notes, “it is hard to point to any place where pure [counterterrorism] has defeated a determined terrorist or guerrilla group. This is the strategy that Israel has used against Hamas and Hezbollah. The result is that Hamas controls Gaza, and Hezbollah controls southern Lebanon.

It is the strategy that the U.S. has employed in Somalia since our forces pulled out in 1994. The result is that the country is utterly chaotic and lawless, and an Islamic fundamentalist group called the Shabab, which has close links to al-Qaeda, is gaining strength.

Most pertinently, it is also the strategy the U.S. has used for years in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The result is that the Taliban control the tribal areas of Pakistan and are extending their influence across large swathes of Afghanistan.” -- Commentary

Charge: Our army is already stretched too thin. A troops surge in Afghanistan is unsustainable.

Response: “This fear, heard often about Iraq in 2004-06, is no truer now than it was then,” writes Tom Cotton in the Weekly Standard. “At the 2007 peak, the United States had 200,000 troops deployed to Iraq (170,000) and Afghanistan (30,000). Currently, there are 110,000 troops in Iraq and 68,000 in Afghanistan, well below that peak. And 60,000 troops are expected to leave Iraq by next August as more troops flow into Afghanistan.

Thus, overall deployed troop levels in 2010 will remain the same or fall. The Army has also grown to accommodate repeated deployments. It expanded over the last two years from 512,000 to 547,000 soldiers and now plans to add another 22,000 troops by 2012. Further, it just exceeded its annual recruitment and retention goals, hardly the stuff of a broken Army.”

Charge: The American public believes we have no need to stay in Afghanistan after eight years of fighting.

Response: “Barack Obama has yet to talk about America or its ideals as being worth the fight. It's no wonder public support for our commitment in Afghanistan is lower today than at any point during the Bush administration,” writes Foreign Policy Initiative Policy Advisor Abe Greenwald at the American Spectator. “The disconnect between rhetoric and mission is stark.

Since taking office, President Obama has continuously spoken of the United States as a country that ‘all too often…starts by dictating,’ a place that ‘has shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive’ toward allies, where ‘our government made decisions based on fear rather than foresight, [and] all too often our government trimmed facts and evidence to fit ideological predispositions.’

America, in Mr. Obama's words, ‘is still working through some of our own darker periods in our history.’ What kind of dupe would rally behind that place? To make matters worse, while the situation deteriorated in Afghanistan and loose speculation abounded the president went silent on matters of war. . . If the president wants to boost morale on Afghanistan, he is going to have to drink from the well of American exceptionalism.” -- American Spectator

Charge: Dealing with the problems in Pakistan is more important than finishing the fight in Afghanistan.

Response: “The debate over whether to commit the resources necessary to succeed in Afghanistan must recognize the extreme danger that a withdrawal or failure in Afghanistan would pose to the stability of Pakistan,” writes Frederick Kagan in the Wall Street Journal. the fight against the Taliban must be pursued on both sides of the border.

Pakistan's successes have been assisted by the deployment of American conventional forces along the Afghanistan border opposite the areas in which Pakistani forces were operating, particularly in Konar and Khowst Provinces. Those forces have not so much interdicted the border crossings (almost impossible in such terrain) as they have created conditions unfavorable to the free movement of insurgents.

They have conducted effective counterinsurgency operations in areas that might otherwise provide sanctuary to insurgents fleeing Pakistani operations (Nangarhar and Paktia provinces especially, in addition to Konar and Khowst). Without those operations, Pakistan's insurgents would likely have found new safe havens in those provinces, rendering the painful progress made by Pakistan's military irrelevant.

Pakistan's stability cannot be secured solely within its borders any more than can Afghanistan's.” -- Wall Street Journal

Charge: Afghans view coalition forces as “occupiers” and want us to leave.

Response: “In fact repeated polls have shown that majority of Afghans want the U.S. and NATO there,” writes Brian Glyn Williams in Foreign Policy. “As they watch Indian soap operas on televisions the Taliban once smashed, send their girls to school, and drive on newly paved roads, millions of Afghans are experiencing the direct benefits of the U.S. presence in their country. This is the work we could have been doing in 1991 and, for all its obvious flaws, it is a tentative sign of progress in the long journey to rebuild civil society in this long suffering land.

In other words, compassionate, global-minded Democrats who supported President Bill Clinton's humanitarian interventions in places like Kosovo, Bosnia, Haiti and Somalia owe it to the Afghan people to be patient and do the same for Afghanistan.” -- Foreign Policy

Charge: Afghanistan is the “graveyard of empires.”

Response: “This refrain belongs, as they say now in the military, in the graveyard of analogies,” writes Tom Cotton in the Weekly Standard. “The Soviets, in particular, teach us how not to win in Afghanistan. A heavily mechanized force, the Red Army was ill-suited for Afghanistan's treacherous terrain, and it was dependent on long, vulnerable supply lines.

It also discouraged innovative junior leadership, which is critical against an insurgency. To compensate, the Soviets employed vicious, massively destructive tactics that inflamed the Afghan people and still scar the country with depopulated valleys and adult amputees maimed as children by toy-shaped mines.

Our present way of war couldn't be more different. We deploy light and wheeled infantry to Afghanistan, making our tactics more flexible, our supply lines shorter, and our soldiers more engaged with the locals. We also radically decentralize decision-making authority to our junior soldiers and leaders, who increasingly can draw on years of combat experience.

In short, America has a counter-insurgency strategy, whereas the Soviet Union had a genocide strategy. Afghans I spoke with always recognized the difference, reviled the Russians, and respected our troops.” -- Weekly Standard

Max Boot makes a similar point in Commentary, “The two most commonly cited examples in support of this proposition are the British in the 19th century and the Russians in the 1980s. This selective history conveniently omits the military success enjoyed by earlier conquerors, from Alexander the Great in the 4th century b.c.e. to Babur (founder of the Mughal Empire) in the 16th century. In any case, neither the British nor the Russians ever employed proper counterinsurgency tactics.

The British briefly occupied Kabul on two occasions (1839 and 1879) and then pulled out, turning Afghanistan into a buffer zone between the Russian Empire and their own. In the 1980s, the Russians employed scorched-earth tactics, killing large numbers of civilians and turning much of the country against them. Neither empire had popular support on its side, as foreign forces do today.”

Charge: We can manage Afghanistan by focusing on the training of Afghans.

Response: “The Afghan Army is reasonably effective. It is too small, with roughly 90,000 total soldiers,” writes Michael O’Hanlon in the Wall Street Journal. “But by most accounts, the Afghan Army is fighting well, and cooperating well with NATO forces. Gen. McChrystal's new approach to training Afghan troops will greatly strengthen and deepen this cooperation.”

Here is the key point as it relates to a troop build-up. “Not only will NATO finally field enough personnel to embed with each Afghan unit in mentoring teams, but its combat units will partner with Afghans at every level on every major operation – living, planning, operating, and fighting with each other in one-to-one formal partnerships.” In order for that partnering to be fully implemented, a large troop surge is required. -- Wall Street Journal

Charge: There is no rush to get all of the requested resources to Afghanistan.

Response: “We face both a short and long-term fight,” wrote Gen. Stanley McChrystal in his comprehensive assessment of the war. The long-term fight will require patience and commitment, but I believe the short-term fight will be decisive. Failure to gain the initiative and reverse insurgent momentum in the near term (next 12 months) – while Afghan security capacity matures –risks an outcome where defeating the insurgency is no longer possible.”

Many Americans are understandably resistant to the amplification of war after eight years of combat in Afghanistan and other taxing military deployments. But distaste for combat cannot supersede obligations of national security. Those who seek to sidestep those obligations must be challenged head-on, so that the illogical bases for their claims can be exposed and America can get about the business of winning a war and bringing our soldiers home in victory.

Foreign Policy Initiatives

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Journey From The Land Of No

Journalist Roya Hakakian's beautifully written memoir of growing up in pre- and post-revolutionary Iran.

"Journey from the land of No" makes a striking contrast to another journalist's Iranian memoir, Azadeh Moaveni's "Lipstick Jihad," a contemporary portrait of Tehran from the viewpoint of a Californian-Iranian, looking for identity. While Moaveni battled her mother over Madonna's music, Hakakian rioted against a fanatical headmistress who found sin in a strand of female hair.

Hakakian describes a rather idyllic childhood in a quiet house in Tehran's "Alley of the Distinguished." She is the only daughter of a Jewish schoolmaster and scholar, beloved baby sister to three brothers. Her closest friend, Z, is a Muslim neighbor girl and her first inkling of the stirrings abroad were the political speeches Z's older sister and her devout Great-Uncle listened to in secret.

Though one by one her three older brothers are sent out of the country, Hakakian finds herself caught up in the heady togetherness of revolution. "Within weeks, Tehran seemed to have matured by years. Even drunkards stopped ranting about their personal misery. Neighbors did not fight. Cars honked constantly, but not in gridlock, only to announce the advance of the uprising, or the fall of another barracks."

She explores the child's perceptions: the jangly scariness of her parents' tense arguments and distressed uncertainty contrast unfavorably with the liberation let loose in the streets. But almost immediately anti-Semitic slogans appear on walls. The Hakakians sell their home and move into an apartment. Islamic dress is imposed and then the Jewish headmistress vanishes one day, and her Muslim replacement asks Hakakian why Jewish men customarily deflower their daughters.

Still, politics remains a youthful focal point and the young intellectuals exercise their idealism in dissent. Another moment of startling clarity comes when the group is caught with incriminating papers, and dismissed as irrelevant as soon as they are discovered to be Jewish.

As idealism fades and repression casts a dark gloom over daily life, Hakakian discovers that her old friend Z has grown grave and distant, Z's older sister, the fervent revolutionary, jailed and tortured, her mother's spirit broken.

Hakakian's story is a layered, nuanced remembrance of one girl's awakening to adulthood, a Jewish view of Iran's upheaval, and a chronicle of a country's nightmarish descent from liberation into a maelstrom of repression and fear.

submitted by Samantha

Pic "Living in the Land of No"

Friday, November 20, 2009

Chiorny Oriol

Does Commonwealth have a new panzer in the super secret panzer R&D shops?

"According to the Russian media, an early prototype of the Black Eagle was shown at an arms exposition in Siberia, in June 1999. It appeared to be based on a lengthened T-80U hull, and to have very thick front armor and new-generation Kaktus explosive reactive armor.

"However, recent reports in open sources suggest that the Black Eagle program has been halted due to the acceptance of the T-90, built by the Uralvagonzavod plant, into the Russian military in the mid-1990s.

Nyet so fast Tovarisch!

Russia has reportedly opted for Uralvagonzavod as the developer and manufacturer of a new-generation MBT, which will most likely have a designation as T-95.

Sergei Mayev, head of the Federal Service for Defense Contracts (Rosoboronzakaz) told a news conference in July 2008 that the Russian Armed Forces would start receiving new-generation panzers superior to the T-90 main battle tank after 2010.

The new tank will feature better firepower, maneuverability, electronics and armor protection than the T-90 MBT.

Its speed will increase from 30-50 kph to 50-65 kph (19-31 mph to 31-40 mph).

According to some sources, the new tank may be equipped with a 152-mm smoothbore gun capable of firing guided missiles with a range of 6,000-7,000 meters.

In comparison, the T-90 MBT has a 125-mm 2A46M smoothbore gun, which can fire AT-11 Sniper anti-tank guided missiles with a range of 4,000 meters.

pic "Black Eagle"

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Palestinian Dependence Day!

Here's a quiz - ever heard of a cat named Saleem Fayad? No? It's cool - you will! As Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority Fayad recently coughed up the idea of declaring Palestinian statehood.

1st glance - it seems cool. At long last rowdy Strip Palestinians can take a break from building home grown rocket artillery, cranking out tunnels like doughnuts, and maybe even enjoying the 'new reality' that President Mazen/Abbas mentioned like West Bank has.

Dissolving UNRWA alone would awesome - all that wasted time, effort and money could be put to work elsewhere -- like the op to shed ancient, non productive (unless considering the death industry) endeavors, antique gripes about turf and beat their K'Ssams into laptops.

With the highest literacy rate in the entire Middle East (sans Little Satan!), Strip Palestinians could actually construct a Vegas style Riviera on the Med and West Bank could xform into a happy place - chock full of cutting edge industrial zones and colleges.

Hold up though - the flaw in the ointment is such a manuever would render all previous Oslos, Helsinkis, Sharm al Sheiks, Annapolis' Roadmaps and Quartets null and void.

Oathbreaking they calls it!

Great Satan and Europa both dissed the idea -- as Little Satan's BiBi mentioned ”there is no substitute for negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority and any unilateral path will only unravel the framework of agreements between us and will only bring unilateral steps from Israel’s side.”

The bit about waiting for a negotiated settlement sounds fake believe. In fact - two of the planets most successful nation states sweetly achieved internat'lly recognized independence without the benefit of a negotiated agreement between conflicted parties, like Great and Little Satan - prob the most obvious - obviously.

If Palestinian nat'l aspirations were so magically legit and a 2 state solution the only answer, why wouldn’t the all the cats involved in the long years of on again off again 'peace process' proponents recognize the fact?

And in such a scenario, what unilateral retaliation could Little Satan reasonably get away with?

Rather, the real mix queering with Palestinian independence — — is that there is no viable Palestinian regime that can claim to run a sovereign country. Right now, the Palestinian territories are divy'd up, seperate fiefdoms ruled by 2 different Palestinian regimes.

And both may be illegit anyway - HAMAS won't hold elections in January - lucky for them! And Pres Abbas has stayed on way past his time without being re elected.

Stripstine is led by a death cult worshipping internat'lly recoged terror organization supported by Iran and Syria -- dedicated to war against Little Satan.

West Bank, is led by a revolutionary-style regime that is deeply corrupt and still sucks up to intolerant, murderous fan boys terrorist groups like the Fatah-Tanzim, HAMAS, and Islamic Jihad.

Efforts to negotiate a unification between the two sides have consistently sucked, maybe the only thing stopping Palestine from erupting into all out civil war betwixt HAMAS and Fatah is the tiny tiny taint of turf that divides them -- Little Satan herself.

The real issue is not so much Little Satan building apartments, roads, schools, shopping malls and karoke bars in disputed, occupied or illegal turf as it is with 2 diametrically opposed factions in Palestine.

That this is the real trouble seems to be hinted at by none other than the Palestinian prime minister, Saleem Fayad. According to Fayad, a declaration of independence is really just a “formality” — or at least, it will be, once the institutions of statehood are established.

It is not too hard to glean from Fayad’s statement, however, the hidden assumption that such institutions are not yet in place and may not be for the foreseeable future.

So it may be cool to consider if the Palestinians really were to hook up with a means of establishing a homeland: to build systems of government aimed at improving the Palestinians’ lives rather than tossing them away like grenades in an endless conflict; to build an economy that emphasizes good business rather than corruption; to craft an educational system and public culture that fosters a positive, life-affirming vision of Palestinian identity and coexistence with Little Satan rather than one created about “resistance” to “occupation.”

If that were to happen, wouldn’t Little Satan and world leaders have a really tough time denying Palestinian statehood? OTOH, would they even want to? Should they?

As it stands today - granting Palestine statehood could very well result in "3rd Infitadah" - another war. Consider - Palestinians and their rowdy rejectionist foreign enablers may indeed estab alliances, bases and military aid with a sovereign Palestine that starts another crises that could end up with Little Satan's Merkava panzers parked amidst smoking craters, a wrecked landscape as barren and desolate as the surface of the moon, in downtown Ramallah, Gaza City and Khan Younis.

And Little Satan may not be too interested in handing it off to anyone, as a new word debuts in the peace process.


Art - "Palestine will still be tiny and weak and Little Satan will still be tiny and mighty"

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Land Of Pure Nightmare?

A government unable to control large parts of its territory, a military in disarray, loss of control over nuclear assets, radical Islamists intent on acquiring weapons of mass destruction — that's the stuff nightmares are made of, at least for the West. Pakistan's current turmoil is causing jitters around the world precisely because this scenario might just come to pass as the Talibanization of the country drags it to the brink of collapse.

Pakistan has been reeling under a relentless wave of terror strikes, targeted primarily against security forces, police and government officials. But what is causing consternation in the global corridors of power are recent attempts by the extremists to target Pakistan's nuclear installations.

Recently a suicide bomber blew himself up at a checkpoint outside the maximum security Pakistan Aeronautical Complex reportedly linked to Pakistan's nuclear weapons program at Kamra near Islamabad, renewing concerns about the safety and security of its nuclear arsenal. This was the second attack on the base since 2007 when a similar attempt was made.

Other attacks on Pakistan's nuclear weapons facilities include an attack on the nuclear missile storage facility in Sargodha in November 2007 and an attack in August 2008 on the armament complex at the Wah cantonment, one of Pakistan's main nuclear weapons assembly sites.

U.S. President Barack Obama has made it clear that he remains gravely concerned about Pakistan, though he continues to project confidence that Pakistan's nuclear weapons will not fall to the militants. Even Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari sometime back raised the specter of Pakistani nuclear weapons falling into the hands of the Taliban, albeit adding the caveat that nukes are safe as of now.

Though Pakistan's government is always quick to dismiss media reports that its nuclear weapons are in danger of falling into the wrong hands and stresses that Pakistan provides the highest level of institutionalized protection for its strategic assets, the credibility of such claims remains open to question.

Instituted in 2000, Pakistan's nuclear command and control arrangements are centered on the National Command Authority, which comprises the Employment Control Committee, the Development Control Committee and the Strategic Plans Division.

In addition, a small group of military officials apparently have access to the country's nuclear assets. These command and control arrangements continue to be beset with some fundamental vulnerabilities that underline the reluctance of the Pakistani military to cede control over the nation's nuclear assets to civilian leaders.

It is instructive to note that of all the major nuclear states in world, Pakistan is the only country where the nuclear button is in the hands of the military. That's not at all comforting when former civilian leaders, including the late Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif, made clear at the height of various crises that the Pakistani military keeps civilian authorities out of the decision-making loop on the crucial issue of nuclear weapons.

Moreover, senior civilian and military officials responsible for these weapons have a problematic track record in maintaining close control over them.

A.Q. Khan was head of the Pakistani nuclear program (and a veritable national hero), yet was instrumental in making Pakistan the center of the biggest nuclear proliferation network by leaking technology to states far and wide including Iran, North Korea and Libya. Pakistani nuclear scientists have even traveled to Afghanistan at the behest of Osama bin Laden.

While it is true that Pakistani military has been a very professional and perhaps is the only the cohesive force in the country today, it is not clear if it would be able to continue to exert its control over the nation's nuclear assets if the militants continue to gain ground in the absence of institutionalized safeguards.

It is believed that Pakistan relies on separating the fissile core from the weapon to ensure that a usable weapon doesn't fall easily into wrong hands. But it would take little time for the command and control network to collapse if Pakistan slid toward greater anarchy. Sympathizers of radical Islamists within Pakistani military and intelligence agencies could then help terrorist groups acquire the wherewithal of a nuclear weapon.

Throughout the Cold War years, it was viewed as politically prudent in the West and especially in the United States to ignore Pakistan's drive toward nuclear acquisition as Pakistan was seen as an important ally of the West in countering the Soviet Union in Afghanistan and elsewhere. Nuclear proliferation has never been a first-order priority for the U.S. when it comes to Pakistan.

Various U.S. governments have continued to go easy on the Pakistani military even while it claimed that it had no knowledge of the A.Q. Khan network. Now the chickens are coming home to roost as the Pakistani military seems unable and unwilling to take on the Islamist forces gathering momentum within the Pakistani territory on the one hand while, on the other, the nation's nuclear weapons seem within reach of extremist forces.

The international community needs to be aware of the potentially catastrophic implications of the collapse of governing authority in Pakistan. Irrespective of India's other problems with Pakistan, Indian decision-makers have had little doubt so far in trusting that their Pakistani counterparts would make rational decisions insofar as the use of nuclear weapons was concerned. That assumption might soon need to be revisited if current trends in Pakistan continue.

Art - "Nuclear Goddess"

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

When Attorneys Ruled The World

Can't help but notice - attorneys have taken over the world!

Well, maybe on the League of Hot! Democrazies - seems the unfree world is attorney free.

Consider recent events:

Ft Hood massacre. Essentially the raison d'etre that Major Disaster never got booted out of the service on his booty, is that any mention of his violent, head chopping mohammedistic prejudices would unleash an airborne attorney brigade on hapless evil doer pointer outers.

Anyone pointing out how uncool the guy was would just be asking to be sued into bankruptcy for the rest of their days. They would have been ruined in any endeavor.

KSM's trial in NYC is another.

The 'mess' that 44 'inherited' about Gitmo, renditions, foreign torment experts, enhanced interrogation tech and casus belli was actually created by a lawyer liebstandarte - often queering the mix for years on Military Tribunals during 43's trip - now they are at Justice Dept - really pushing the envelope that foreign cats caught on foreign battlefields or rousted out of hidden lairs in the dead of night should be given the same rights as American citizens.

Drones Gone wild! A foreign aid program that skips arrest, indictments and a chance for bail or attorney client privileges is fixing to get scrutinized - by attorneys.

The domestic front is yet another example. Some kinda legalistic treat called 'tort' that perhaps could be reformed would solve tons of stuff about Nat'l Health Care. Yet no attorney will tolerate such legal unbinding of their livelihoods.

Attorney's are like Frat boys - always looking to protect and perpetuate the species.

Maybe Dick The Butcher's dangerous ditty from from King Henry VI, Part II, (Act IV), Scene 2 bears some scrutiny?

"1st thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers."

Pic - "Dick the Butcher's Vision"

Monday, November 16, 2009

2nd Hand Buzz

Not off topic - there is a magical event perhaps best known as a 2nd hand buzz. Essentially, if certain elements in an AO ignite a blunt device (often aromatically blueberry'd) the pungent pungency can spread in enclosed places and annihilate or afflict everyone in the impact area.

Not unlike 44's Shang Hai Surprize. Hitting up a Student 'town hall', 44 fielded some quizes by China's future - her co eds.

And at moments - it was like enjoyable suffering of the afore mentioned 2nd Hand Buzz.

Aside from sincere blocks of sincere insincerity - like dodging the Taiwan quiz - to be fair -- it was a set up - 44 amazingly channeled some awesome avatars of the new millennium.

"That is why America will always speak out for these core principles around the world. We do not seek to impose any system of government on any other nation, but we also don't believe that the principles that we stand for are unique to our nation.

"These freedoms of expression and worship -- of access to information and political participation -- we believe are universal rights. They should be available to all people, including ethnic and religious minorities -- whether they are in the United States, China, or any nation. "

"Indeed, it is that respect for universal rights that guides America's openness to other countries; our respect for different cultures; our commitment to international law; and our faith in the future.


Sound familiar? It dang well should - this a cliff note from Uncle Tony's open sexyful proclamation nom d'guerr'd "Universal Values of the Human Spirit"

"We are fighting for the inalienable right of humankind--black or white; Christian or not; left, right or merely indifferent--to be free--free to raise a family in love and hope, free to earn a living and be rewarded by your own efforts, free not to bend your knee to any man in fear, free to be you, so long as being you does not impair the freedom of others."

"There is a myth that though we love freedom, others don't; that our attachment to freedom is a product of our culture; that freedom, democracy, human rights, the rule of law are American values or Western values;

"Ours are not Western values. They are the universal values of the human spirit, and anywhere--anywhere, anytime ordinary people are given the chance to choose, the choice is the same: freedom, not tyranny; democracy, not dictatorship; the rule of law, not the rule of the secret police."

Perhaps 44's 2nd hand buzz (from a wicked Anglodaemoneoconic herald - no less!) will shape and impact Red China's next generation.

Art "2nd Hand Buzz"

"What If We Win?"

There is a amusing story about a state that failed to achieve its development plans. This state was unable to fulfill its promises to the people, in terms of offering them prosperity, unique education, fascinating cities, and other shiny slogans. As a result, the leadership of this state held an extremely urgent meeting to discuss the repercussions of the situation.

The president asked for his ministers' opinion and advice in addressing this crisis. The defense minister responded by saying: "Let us declare war against the West and attack them. The West will retaliate, and, of course, destroy us. Accordingly, they will feel very guilty and announce a reform plan to fix the situation."

"This plan will be similar to the Marshall Plan implemented in Germany after its defeat in World War II. As a result, giant projects will be launched and major banks will set up operations. The country will prosper and the people will feel satisfied and happy, thus making us heroes and saviors in the people's eyes."

After a few moments of silence, the minister of agriculture gave a deep sigh and said: "But what if we win the war and defeat the West?"

Submitted by Hussein Shobokshi

Pic - "Future Palestine?"

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Drones Gone Wild! III

Three weeks ago today, Taliban leaders were meeting in a safe house in the Pakistani village of Chohetra, close to the Afghan border.

The village is the home of Maulvi Faqir Mohammad, alias Commander Faqir, the deputy leader of the Pakistani Taliban.

They should have been fairly safe from attack. But Great Satan had another of those drones gone wild! sweetly loitering about the AO, circling the village, a tiny, tiny dot in the sky.

Halfway through the meeting, two Hellfire missiles destroyed the Taliban hideout, killing 24 people and wounding 12 more. Faqir was said to have left the house a few minutes earlier. But there was little doubt that a number of Taliban leaders were killed, some from Afghanistan.

The Predator attacks are controversial, but they are getting increasingly close to the senior leadership of both the Taliban and al Qa’eda. Commander Faqir can have no doubt by now that he is in the sights of the US drones.

The Predator MQ9, with its deadly armoury of two Hellfire anti-tank missiles, is known as the Reaper, for good reason. The use of the Reaper is an extension of a well-tried US special operations technique known to its proponents as “taking down the mountain”, used to hunt such figures as Pablo Escobar, the Colombian drugs baron, and the former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

It combines the collection of extensive intelligence with an operation to hunt the target’s associates, removing them one by one, forcing the main target on the run and out into the open, where he can be targeted. It has already been used against one senior al Qa’eda leader, Abu Musab al Zarqawi, the leader of al Qa’eda in Iraq, killed by the US in June 2006.

The process is designed to “decapitate” al Qa’eda and its allies. It is known that it is having a devastating effect on the insurgents from the testimony of David Rohde, a New York Times journalist who was taken prisoner by the Taliban, and was with them during an attack.

Rohde escaped in June and, last month, described how the Predator strikes “created a paranoia among the Taliban. They believed that local informants guided the missiles. Innocent civilians were rounded up, accused of working as American spies and then executed”.

There are problems with these attacks. The first concerns the number of civilian deaths. The most authoritative assessment of the attacks, by the New America Foundation, estimates that about one third of more than 1,000 people killed were civilians, fuelling anti-western feeling inside Pakistan.

The second is the dubious legality of the attacks under international law. To justify killing an enemy in a military operation, it is necessary to be under threat from that enemy. Critics say the US airman operating the Predator remotely from an operations room in the Nevada desert is scarcely under threat from the Taliban or al Qa’eda.

What cannot be disputed is that the attacks have been effective. If a third of those killed are civilians then around 700 were militants. But it is not the deaths of the ordinary militants that are important. Even before the most recent attacks, the past few months had seen Hellfire missiles fired from the Predators kill a number of figures close to al Qa’eda leader, Osama bin Laden. They included the leaders of the two Uzbek groups allied to al Qa’eda.

Given the Pakistani army’s current operations against the Taliban in north-western Pakistan, the last few months have also seen successful attacks on Ilyas Kashmiri, al Qa’eda’s chief of paramilitary operations in the region, and Baitullah Mehsud, the leader of the Pakistani Taliban.

Baitullah’s death, in August, may have been a turning point in the way in which the Predator campaign is perceived in Pakistan. It was greeted ecstatically by the Pakistani press, in stark contrast to the reaction to previous attacks in which civilians died.

Combined with the Pakistani offensive, the attacks have led some al Qa’eda followers to desert the Pakistani-based leadership, dispersing to Sudan, Somalia and Yemen.

“There are indications that some al Qa’eda terrorists are starting to see the tribal areas of Pakistan as a tough place to be in,” one US counter-terrorism official said recently. ”

Western intelligence agencies believe that the al Qa’eda leadership’s power is on the wane, with the exodus of members from Pakistan growing and only the most obvious sign of the problems it faces.

When al Qa’eda first came to prominence in September 2001, with its devastating attacks on the United States, it was seen as having a potency no other Islamist militant group had enjoyed.

Already allied to the Taliban and to Egyptian Islamic Jihad, through bin Laden’s closest ally, the group’s chief theorist, Ayman al Zawahiri, al Qa’eda found a queue of Islamist insurgency and militant groups wanting to declare themselves part of bin Laden’s organisation.

But being part of a franchise is only attractive if it is a successful operation, and while there were a series of successful attacks on the West in the five years following the September 11 attacks – most notably the Bali bombing in October 2002, the Madrid bombings in March 2004, and the London bombings in July 2005 – the successful attacks have begun to dry up.

While there is a very strong argument that the Iraq invasion let bin Laden off the hook, the fact that he has yet to be captured or killed, is of only symbolic importance. He appears increasingly impotent, even offering the US a “long-term truce” in January 2006.

The most recent attacks have been two bombings by al Qa’eda in the Islamic Maghreb, which killed 33 people in Algiers in April 2007 and a bomb attack on the Danish embassy in Islamabad in June last year, which killed six Pakistanis.

The main feature of both attacks was that the only people killed were Muslims, raising serious questions about the capability of an organisation that claims to be fighting an “Islamic jihad”, a factor that has led former allies of bin Laden, not just to drop their affiliation with al Qa’eda, but to criticise.

In May 2007, Sayyid Imam al Sharif, better known as Dr Fadl, a former member of the al Qa’eda leadership, attacked its tactics of mass slaughter, arguing that this inevitably led to the deaths of innocents, and was therefore un-Islamic.

He was particularly critical of the way in which Muslims lived freely within western societies, then attacked the very people who had given them shelter. Fadl’s attack was dismissed by his fellow Egyptian, and former fellow student, al Zawahiri, as having been written while Fadl was in prison in Egypt.

But last week saw a fresh attack, this time not from just one man, but from a complete militant movement previously aligned to al Qa’eda. The Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), issued a new religious document denouncing the tactics used by al Qa’eda as illegal under Islamic law. The 417-page “Corrective Studies” was a result of more than two years of consultation with respected religious Muslim scholars and its conclusions are similar to those articulated by Fadl.

“Jihad has ethics and morals because it is for God,” the LIFG’s new code states. “That means it is forbidden to kill women, children, elderly people, priests, messengers, traders and the like. Betrayal is prohibited and it is vital to keep promises and treat prisoners of war in a good way. Standing by those ethics is what distinguishes Muslims’ jihad from the wars of other nations.”

Nomad Benotman, a former LIFG leader, told the television network CNN that, before the September 11 attacks, he had tried to persuade bin Laden not to attack the US because any gains would be outweighed by the inevitable retribution. He said he told al Zawahiri that al Qa’eda’s tactics were “crazy”.

What effect Benotman or Fadl and their arguments will have is unclear, but they seem bound to eat into the number of recruits al Qa’eda can call upon.

With his lieutenants being systematically removed by the Predator attacks, the Pakistani army closing in around them, a growing exodus of his supporters from the tribal areas to east Africa or Yemen, and denunciation of his tactics by an increasing number of former allies, bin Laden and al Qa’eda are in trouble.

The movement is not dead yet. It may still lash out, like a wounded animal hemmed in by its pursuers, but it is almost certainly now in its dying throes.

Submitted by Michael Smith defence correspondent of the Sunday Times and author of Killer Elite: The Inside Story of America’s Most Secret Special Operations Team

Pic "Drones Gone Wild! III"