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Real experts review a presentation about the War (look here, if you’re looking for well-written analysis!)

21 June 2009

Since I’ve found few or no area experts in favor of our war in Afghanistan (just geopol or COIN gurus), I’ve widened the parameters of my search for insight. 

Here are a few comments from selected experts after viewing a presentation about the War.  They have been slightly edited and paraphrased, as you will see by clicking through to the original text.

“… so damn loud and stupid that it’s like being shouted at by idiots for two and a half hours.”
Matthew Turner, London

“Second time out for our military threatening world domination. … This boring, preposterous nonsense is stretched to an agonising 7 years and running”
Anthony Quinn, The Independent, 19 June 2009

“… al Qeada is back, and they’re looking to whup some American ass! If the that sentence leaves you cold and uncomprehending, then congratulations – you are not among the supports for this war, which suggests that you have more discrimination than the submissive citizens who turned the Iraq War into a worldwide mega-hit, costsing more than a trillion dollars.”
What a full metal racket, Chris Tookey, Daily Mail, 18 June 2009

“It goes without saying that if you liked the Iraq War, then you will like this one. … Most citizens won’t care what critics have to say and will probably find themselves enjoying the War. That is, if they can get over their sense of déjà vu whilst doing so. The Afghanistan War is more of a remake than it is a sequel. In fact if you walked into this auditorium halfway through the presentation you’d be forgiven for thinking that you were in fact watching one about the Iraq War again! If you don’t mind coughing up the price of a full-blown War twice {for little in the way of results}, then you won’t feel cheated by the Afghanistan War.”
James Ohley

“IN THE glory days of the US Military, generals lived by the credo: ‘Make it big. Do it right. And give it class.’ … They have always had a passion for big, noisy spectacles and the Afghanistan is a bravura display of their ability to mastermind global destruction. What it lacks is the human touch, decent planning, restraint and all the old-fashioned marshal virtues that appear to be the luxuries unlimited resources can’t buy. The war core supporters, excitable schoolboys, will have little time for such criticisms and will simply savour the sense of overkill served up for their delectation. The rest of us will be only too happy to ignore the War to them and go in search of projects suitable for the grown-ups.
Allen Hunter, Daily Express, 19 June 2009

Over images of a one-sided battle between men in a rocky landscape, a booming voice-over declares: “Earth – birthplace of the human race – a species capable of great compassion and great violence” … There is nothing – nothing – in this presentation that can be taken seriously – although that becomes something of a problem in itself, given DoD’s relentless exploitation of imagery from 9/11 and the Second Gulf War.
Anton Bitel

I found it at once loud and boring, like watching paint dry while getting hit over the head with a frying pan. And at two and a half hours, it really is very long. Because this War really is quite staggeringly uninteresting.
Peter Bradsaw, The Guardian, 19 Jne 2009


To read other articles about our wars, see these FM reference page (listed on the right side menu bar):

Posts about the War in Afghanistan:

  1. Scorecard #2: How well are we doing in Iraq? Afghanistan?, 31 October 2003
  2. Quote of the day: this is America’s geopolitical strategy in action, 26 February 2008 — George Friedman of Statfor on the Afghanistan War.
  3. Another perspective on Afghanistan, a reply to George Friedman, 27 February 2008
  4. How long will all American Presidents be War Presidents?, 21 March 2008
  5. Why are we are fighting in Afghanistan?, 9 April 2008 — A debate with Joshua Foust.
  6. We are withdrawing from Afghanistan, too (eventually), 21 April 2008
  7. Roads in Afghanistan, a new weapon to win 4GW’s?, 26 April 2008
  8. A powerful weapon, at the sight of which we should tremble and our enemies rejoice, 2 June 2008
  9. Brilliant, insightful articles about the Afghanistan War, 8 June 2008
  10. The good news about COIN in Afghanistan is really bad news, 20 August 2008
  11. Stratfor says that our war in Pakistan grows hotter; Palin seems OK with that, 12 September 2008
  12. Pakistan warns America about their borders, and their sovereignty, 14 September 2008
  13. Weekend reading about … foreign affairs, 19 October 2008
  14. “Strategic Divergence: The War Against the Taliban and the War Against Al Qaeda” by George Friedman, 31 January 2009
  15. America sends forth its privateers to pillage, bold corsairs stealing from you and I, 9 February 2009
  16. “The Great Afghan Bailout” by Tom Engelhardt, 14 April 2009
  17. Stratfor: “The Strategic Debate Over Afghanistan”, 13 May 2009
  18. A joust between two schools of American military theory, 19 May 2009
  19. Can we answer SecDef Gates’ question about NATO and the Af-Pak War?, 19 May 2009
  20. Troops without proper equipment in 2004, troops without proper equipment in 2009 – where’s the outrage?, 20 May 2009
  21. New bases in Afghanistan – more outposts of America’s Empire, 21 May 2009
  22. The simple, fool-proof plan for victory in Afghanistan , 1 June 2009
  23. Advice about our long war – “It’s the tribes, stupid”, 9 June 2009
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31 Comments leave one →
  1. Mikyo permalink
    21 June 2009 1:54 am

    How could you have missed this one? From the video “Zero Punctuation: Tom Clancy’s H.A.W.X.“, by Ben “Yahtzee” Croshaw, posted at the Escapist, 22 April 2009:

    “It’s difficult to root for America when the villains of the story live in a ditch and are armed with jagged rocks.”

    Fabius Maximus replies: Some of us remain behind in the age of print. For us the Kindle represents high-tech, not YouTube. But still I found this quite funny, a good way to burn a few minutes of life.


  2. senecal permalink
    21 June 2009 12:33 pm

    Are we (the writers above, FM, the majority on this site) really saying the US has no aim in Afghanistan other than rooting out a figment of its own imagination (Al Q), and preventing the Taliban from regaining power? Does nobody here believe that the US might have some tangible geo-political (non terrorism-related) goal in this region? Is the issue here lack of appropraite tactics, or lack of a reasonable goal?
    Fabius Maximus replies: Define “reasonable.” Imperial expansion, and playing the “great game” against Russia, China, and India? Business interests? Many consider these fine goals, but they do nothing for me.


  3. 21 June 2009 1:57 pm

    Fabius, Senecal
    A few posts back, in reply to my coments, FM noted how much he has referenced David Kilcullen on this site – and he has. But despite several uses of content from his ‘The Accidental Guerilla,’ to add to the recent string of posts on Afghanistan and desire for “expert” opinion, his views have received no consideration as best I can tell. I frankly stand confused. So you don’t have to go search here is the previous input (Senecal, the issues/goals can’t be separated, if I understand your question correctly.)

    I offer here, not my opinion, but those of David Kilcullen from The Accidental Guerrilla. Given his background and time in multiple small wars, insurgency AND 4GW environments, and particularly on site in Afghanistan, I think you should not dismiss lightly. 4GW, war amongst the people is not “just” something laid on our plate by the Bush administration. There are some dangerous aspects to this 21st century. We minimize and hyper focus inwardly (to exclusion of balance) at great potential peril, IMHO.

    “… the Taliban is neither a purely internal Afghan problem nor soley a crossborder insurgency threatening Afghanistan from Pakistan. Rather our enemy appears to be a confederated movement that blends insurgency with terrorism and information operations,and threatens both Afghanistan and Pakistan. Its ultimate achievement,if unchecked, may be the emergence of an Islamic emirate in “Greater Pashtunistan,” along with the destabilization or even collapse of both the Afghan and Pakistani states. Given the presence of core AQ leaders and nuclear weapons in Pakistan, this makes the Taliban an extremely serious strategic threat to the international community and to our entire strategic position – a judgement that tends to suggest that we should give far greater priority to this theater than we have done to date.” [pg 52-=53]

    Fabius Maximus replies: This site the most comprehensive collection of links to Kilcullen’s online works. He’s a brilliant guy, and has made major contributions to the theory and practice of COIN. However this is, in my opinion, total bs. He has a relevant academic degree, a PhD in politics (often called political anthropology). But he is not an area expert, with deep knowledge of these people’s history and culture. He presents nothing substantial to support this grandiose theory.

    The past century in western culture has been marked by a search for the enemy, the evil other against whom we can ally and fight. There are precedents in our history (most notably the Crusades), but this appears to have become a mania. The Jews, the Communists, now climate-deniers and Islamo-whatevers. All of these claims have structural similarities, most seriously the wide acceptance despire the lack of supporting evidence.


  4. Thomas Jackson permalink
    21 June 2009 8:18 pm

    I wonder what possible aims the US would have for Afghanistan. Is it something that only they possess? Some natural resource available at lesser cost no where else?

    From the comments it appears the same naysayers who told us the Iraq war was doomed can’t find a reason to be in Afghanistan. But these are the same people whose ancestors years ago wrote off the Czechs in 1939 as being “a little nation, far away, of little import, of which we know little.” I doubt they find much of anything worth fighting for, and certainly nothing worth fighting for that would involve them donning a uniform. The comments from such is worth….the word of a community organizer.
    Fabius Maximus replies: This is an odd comment.

    (1) “these are the same people whose ancestors years ago wrote off the Czechs in 1939″

    That was 80 years ago. I doubt they are the same people. Also the situations are radically different. Chezch was a nation with a substantial army and industrial plant, with substantial fortifications on Germany’s. It’s loss was a major gain for Hitler and defeat for the Allies. Most importantly, there is not now expansionist power at work like NAZI Germany; the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts are civil wars. I do not see what possible parallel you are drawing.

    (2) “it appears the same naysayers who told us the Iraq war was doomed can’t find a reason to be in Afghanistan.”

    Could you provide some evidence? For example, I never said that the “Iraq War was doomed”. Rather that there was little possibility of gains to America worth the extreme cost. At this point, with the ultimate result still uncertain, that still seems to be the case.

    (3) “The comments from such is worth….the word of a community organizer.”

    This is a weird thing to say. America tends to draw its Presidents from people with common backgrounds — or professional politicos. Lincoln the country lawyer. Wilson the schooteacher. Truman the haberdasher. Carter the peanut farmer. Reagan the actor. What is your point? Perhaps you prefer our leaders to be from the aristocracy?


  5. sfcmac permalink
    21 June 2009 8:27 pm

    Gawd Fabius. Still pissing about the success in Iraq and Afghanistan?

    A couple of sites you overlooked (no doubt, because they actually know what they’re talking about): Michael Yon and Bill Roggio are two former Soldiers-turned journalists embedded with Army units in Iraq and Afghanistan. Here are their websites: Michael Yon Online and the Long War Journal. The main stream media hasn’t exactly done back flips over our victory, and you certainly won’t see “Victory in Iraq” which is a done deal, blazened across the headlines of the New York Times.

    This is a sidesplitter: “The past century in western culture has been marked by a search for the enemy, the evil other against whom we can ally and fight.”

    Yeah we had to look REAL hard for the “other evil” after Pearl Harbor and 9/11. The evil kept getting closer in proximity until their attacks on our soil made it impossible to ignore. Nice to see your still quite the pompous, self absorbed ass, fabius.
    Fabius Maximus replies: Does any aspect of your comment make sense? As usual, the folks who rely on name-calling say the least interesting things.

    (1) The official word on Iraq is that it is too soon to draw conlcusions on the end results. I know of no government or private experts who have said that we won in Iraq or that Afghanistan is experiencing “success.” General Petraeus has consistently said the opposite (e.g., his briefing this week). Do you have any support for your statements?

    (2) Both Roggio and Yon have had their valuable reporting featured on this site many times. Neither, however are area experts qualified to give such analysis (this is the usual journalist – expert distinction).

    (3) “Yeah we had to look REAL hard for the “other evil” after Pearl Harbor and 9/11″

    This statement is nuts. Nobody disputes that we have had some serious enemies. That does not mean that we always face serious enemies. To believe that we do meets the clinical definition of paranoia.


  6. mike j permalink
    21 June 2009 8:34 pm

    Thomas Jackson-

    Would suggest you read A.J.P. Taylor’s “The Origins of the Second World War” before you start rolling out that “isolationism is bad” stuff. Boil history down to a soundbite, and you get it wrong.


  7. sfcmac permalink
    21 June 2009 9:13 pm

    @ Fabius:

    Does any aspect of your “thinking” allow room for reality? To accuse western culture of being preoccupied with a “search for the enemy, the evil other against whom we can ally and fight”, is just plain stupid and a blatant oversimplification. Don’t forget, we have also been isolationist, and that doesn’t have a history of working out so well, especially when evil comes calling. If you don’t think there are serious enemies, whether in the ME or within our own borders, then you’re in a coma.

    “Paranoid” is a word you like to fling around when someone points out that there are ‘serious enemies’ who want us dead. Now that Obama is in the White House, you can expect them to test the limits of our resolve and security.

    Michael Yon and Bill Roggio not “experts”? They are both journalists and experts on the Afghanistan and Iraq. They usually write their dispatches from the AO, and since you are looking for “area experts in favor of our war in Afghanistan” both have written extensively on COIN in both countries. As I’ve mentioned before, I was an Intelligence Analyst in Iraq (twice), and from what I’ve read on their sites,they provide some of the best analysis around.

    Name calling has its virtues, especially when when applied for the right reasons.
    Fabius Maximus replies: There is a difference between real threats and imaginary threats. Paranoia means the inability to make this distinction, which is a bad thing.

    (1) “just plain stupid and a blatant oversimplification.”

    These are comments. Simplification is necessary. One makes a general statement and provides examples. As for our “isolationist” history, it did not work during WWII — but did work well during the 19th century. Which means it is, like everything else in life not a magic bullet. Surprise

    (2) “Michael Yon and Bill Roggio not “experts”?”

    They have proved themselves skilled journalists. That does not make them experts. Do they even consider themselves experts? Do you consider every reporter of the New York Times an expert in the area they cover?

    To mention the minimum requirements IMO, do they read and write the local languages, and have deep knowledge of the area’s history? If so, there are no indications of this in their reports. BTW, Iraq and Afghanistan are very different areas. Anyone claiming to be an area expert in both should be greeted with some skepticism, pending evidence.


  8. Thomas Jackson permalink
    21 June 2009 9:18 pm

    Mike J:

    Do tell us how America’s isolationist policy had it continued would have benefitted the world. I suggest you have a rather limited grasp of national security and foreign affairs.


  9. sfcmac permalink
    21 June 2009 9:48 pm

    As for success in Afghanistan (Iraq is already won), two things: An indictaion is MSM coverage. It’s always in direct proportion to the success of American troops. In other words, if the New York Times isn’t publishing another insult-laden report on the fighting, you can bet your ass things are going pretty good. Secondly, Obama was given a winning hand in the WOT, and it’s his to fuck up.

    A summary: Now that Iraq is pretty stabilzed—outside of a few sporadic bombings by disgruntled terrorists who don’t like getting their asses kicked—there will be a surge in Afghanistan similar to the one we saw in Iraq. 17,000 troops are slated for deployment. The Taliban and Al Qadea have been chased out of the major towns and across the border into Pakistan, which presents another problem: Pakistan has harbored Al Qaeda and Taliban cells, allowed them to re-group and train within it’s borders, has terrorist representatives in its own government, and moles within its intelligence service. Expect to see more U.S. incursions with SpecOps and armed UAV strikes.

    Bill Roggio has a good piece on the Afghanistan strategy. More on Iraq/Afghanistan: History Made in Iraq, Afghanistan, posted by SF Max at his blog The Foxhole, 12 September 2009.

    As I’ve said repeatedly, the war with Islamofascism isn’t over by a long shot. Americans like short, neat little wars with quick results. If I were in charge (and I just know you love to see me say this) it would be REAL quick.
    Fabius Maximus replies: Another odd comment.

    (1) “Iraq is already won”

    What exactly did we win? The cost was high, so I hope it is valuable. Also, can you provide some expert statements — perhaps from the US government — to support this claim?

    (2) “there will be a surge in Afghanistan similar to the one we saw in Iraq.”

    General Petraeus disagrees with you. From a briefing on 17 June (via AFP):

    Petraeus, who oversaw the troop “surge” in Iraq credited with significantly reducing violence there, said it was neither desirable or possible to replicate such a strategy in Afghanistan. “You can’t in Afghanistan live among the people the way we were able to live among the people in Iraq … “They don’t want you, in this culture, the way people would welcome us in Iraq.”

    (3) “17,000 troops are slated for deployment”

    Are you kidding? Afghanistan is 252 thousand square miles in area, with a population of 33 million. For comparison, the New York City police has 42 thousand officers.

    (4) “the war with Islamofascism isn’t over by a long shot.”

    What war? In Iraq we were fighting mostly the Sunni Arab tribes, who have been in conflict with their Shiite Arab neighbors for centuries; we “won” by putting them on the payroll. In Afghanistan we are fighting a faction of the Pashtun Tribe.


  10. senecal permalink
    21 June 2009 10:40 pm

    On this thread we seem to have attracted commenters who think the Iraq and AFghanistan wars were necessary and important. I wonder if they would also have thought that “standing up to” Russia over Georgia was right too? What is it that makes these wars necessary and important? Standing up to Russia? Fighting terrorism? Opposing Islam? Expanding democracy? If these wars were necessary for any of those reasons, why is it so difficult to prevail in them? What did we achieve in Iraq that was worth the cost?

    Creating a fictional threat as a pretext for going to war (for other reasons that can’t be publically acknowledged) is as old as warfare itself. We should be smarter than to fall for the latest example, the threat of “global terror.”
    Fabius Maximus replies: Thanks for the alternative explanation. But if true, these people should be able to provide a factual basis for their statements.

    I believe we are receiving transmissions from the Gamma Quadrent about events in their part of the Galaxy. There are few similiarities between their statements and our world, as noted in my replies.


  11. mike j permalink
    22 June 2009 12:27 am

    Thomas Jackson’s comment #8: “Do tell us how America’s isolationist policy had it continued would have benefitted the world.”

    That’s not my argument, so I won’t defend it. Couple that misapprehension with your apparent belief that we, or someone, should have started a war with the Nazis prior to their invasion of Poland, suggests you aren’t great at understanding things yourself.

    You’re supporting the notion that it’s OK for America to go around stomping out bad guys, because, hey, at least there’ll be no more Hitlers. You’re reinforcing what FM’s saying about “…western culture [being] marked by a search for the enemy, the evil other against whom we can ally and fight.”

    What happened in Europe in the 30′s was, simply put, peculiar to the time, places, politics, history, ethnic factors, etc. Just read the book I mentioned. American isolationism after WWI was among the causes of WWII, but so was American involvement in WWI.

    We need to take greater care to understand the world, if we wish to benefit it.


  12. 22 June 2009 12:43 am

    Comment via an email

    We won in Iraq. How many more such victories can we stand? The words of the immortal Pyrrhus echo through the ages: “One more such victory will undo me!” (and the Red King had a legitimate claim to having won his battles.)

    From Wikipedia:

    Pyrrhus or Pyrrhos (319-272 BC) was a Greek general of the Hellenistic era. He was king of the Greek tribe of Molossians, of the royal Aeacid house, and later he became King of Epirus and Macedon. He was one of the strongest opponents of early Rome. Some of his battles, though successful, cost him heavy losses, from which the term Pyrrhic victory was coined. He is the the subject of one of Plutarch’s Parallel Lives.


  13. 22 June 2009 12:59 am

    Comment recieved from an email

    I don’t get it. How is a bad movie like Afghanistan? That’s kind of trivializing things just a bit, don’t you think?

    Fabius Maximus replies: No. Things have to be looked at from varying perspectives. I’ve found — and I suspect you have had similar experience — that people become locked into a specific way of seeing things. Getting people to even consider alternative perspectives ranges from difficult to impossible.

    Asking non-serious questions is one approach. “How is a bad movie like Afghanistan?”

    Political humor is another way of doing this. Mental dynamite. Logic and evidence are, by comparison, ineffective tools.


  14. electrophoresis permalink
    22 June 2009 4:20 am

    FM: “I believe we are receiving transmissions from the Gamma Quadrant about events in their part of the Galaxy. There are few similarities between their statements and our world…


    The Transformers cartoon series debuted in 1984 to promote a specific line of Mattel childrens’ toys, so the recent Transformers movies might not provide the best way to ridicule those crybabies in our midst who currently tremble under their beds in fear of mythical Islamofascist Dr. No types. There is no such thing as “Islamofascism,” it’s a made-up boogey man like “liberal fascism” and Iraqi WMDs designed to frighten gullible dupes into supporting America’s insupportable military adventurism…which itself is merely an excuse to expand the U.S. military’s insupportable 1.4-trillion-dollar-per-year budget. This, incidentally, is why America currently runs around the world invading third world countries and killing their citizens: in order to provide an excuse to justify our insane levels of military spending. Without foreign adventurism, America’s out-of-control military budget would be revealed as utterly useless, and the Pentagon gravy train would grind to a halt, putting many careers at risk and many military contractors out of work.

    A better target for satire might be the very short-lived 2005 TV show The E-Ring. Like the equally short-lived 2003 TV show Threat Matrix, this piece of military propaganda (by pop blockbuster producer Jerry Bruckhheimer) tried to show the current out-of-control global U.S. military adventurism as an heroic mission worth of admiration. Unfortunately, TV critics fell out of their chairs laughing:

    “E-Ring” incorporates the rah-rah quality of last year’s movie “Team America,” but here it tries to be serious, not satirical. (..)

    The plots of the first two episodes are pure first-world fantasia. Patronizing Pentagon types get to rule the globe by remote control. (..) Really, the aims of the show couldn’t be simpler: give the macho dudes their weapons and get outta their way. Anyone who resists or doubts is made to look fussy or daft or feminized.

    The details proved even more hilarious. In the first episode, the Pentagon’s Special Operations Division sends a U.S. nuclear sub with a SEAL team to extract a Chinese spy allegedly carrying data on a new Chinese “stealth sub.” Since all subs today are stealth subs, this is a plot so idiotic that words don’t exist in the english language to properly describe its idiocy.

    Incidentally, anyone who doubts that Chinese (and all other) subs are already “stealthy” and cannot be detected by the U.S., SOSUS notwithstanding, just glance at the recent news item about the Chinese sub that accidentally collided with a U.S. destroyer’s tower sub-search sonar array. There is no need for any such ting as a Chinese “stealth” sub, since we can’t detect Chinese subs right now, today. The plot is idiotic.

    In the second episode, U.S. Special Forces enter Turkmenistan and kidnap an Islamic nuclear scientists allegedly working on building nuclear bombs for Al Qaeda. As we learnt from Iraq, such WMD fantasies are complete nonsense.

    In the third episode U.S. Special Forces illegally enter Iran (!) and in the very first scene of the TV episode, they use sniper rifles to murder a pair of 15-year-old boys and an older man who is teaching them how to use suicide bomb vests.

    In this idiotic and self-satirical TV show, all the intel is always accurate, U.S. Special Forces always kidnap the right guy, the assassinations are always carefully targeted and get exactly the right people, and Americans violate the borders of other sovereign nations with assassination squads with impunity.

    In the real world, our intel is always garbage, U.S. special forces always kidnap the wrong guy like the innocent cab driver Dilawar or that Canadian citizen Maher Arar who was mistakenly kidnapped and tortured for no reason, and Americans are too incompetent and too stupid to assassinate the right people so they wind up murdering innocent wedding party after innocent wedding party.

    While TV shows like Threat Matrix and The E-Ring are absurd to the point of self-satire, their subtext proves sinister and deeply alarming. These patriotic propaganda shows portray the American military crossing the borders of other nations with impunity, kidnapping and murdering children and women and old men in other countries every week, torturing and slaughtering people in the third world in their own beds on a daily basis, and we’re supposed to cheer this lunacy with a standing ovation.

    The overall effect of delusional American TV and movie propaganda like Threat Matrix and The E-Ring and The 300 proves eerily similar to watching Leni Riefenstahl’s Triumph Of the Will. Even more alarming? The fact that the new general in charge of the Afghan war is the former head of the Pentagon’s Special Operations Divion — essentially a gang of international murderers who parachute into foreign countries and kill old men and children without any oversight and without any accountability on the mere suspicion that they have done, or might do, something bad. We’ve seen how well that worked out.

    In actual fact, all the U.S. military actions depicted in TV shows like Threat Matrix and The E-Ring are war crimes which violate the War Powers Act as well as the Geneva Conventions and the U.N. International Declaration of Human Rights as well as all the laws of war of treaties to which the U.S. is a signatory. The reason these U.S. military “covert actions” are top secret is not for reasons of national security, but to cover up the fact that U.S. military SEAL teams and Special Forces usually murder innocent people (the wrong people) with their assassination squads.


  15. 22 June 2009 7:39 am

    There is no point to our involvement in Afghanistan or Iraq. Sound and fury aside, it doesn’t matter who runs those places. And the borders are absurd, ignoring nationality and geography. Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and other states too, should be broken up, partitioned. I suggest democracy is only sustainable as a rule in those regions that are ethnically homogeneous, whereas multi-ethnic states default to authoritarianism or imperial type rule. I’d pull out of both places in 90 days. Alternatively, I would work with India to smash and partition AF/PK to do for their nationalities what was already done for the Bangladeshis.

    Just wondering but did anyone know that Tadzhiks, Kyrgyz, Uzbeks, Uighurs and some others are Turks who speak a common language? Though the foreign imposed alphabets vary. Can anyone who is not broadly educated as a geographer even begin to approach reasonable conclusions about these matters? Please let the hysterical paranoia go, this is one of the very best times to be alive, our country is prosperous and geographical protected. Lets stop all the whining there is no perfection!


  16. urthshu permalink
    22 June 2009 12:52 pm

    So all the politico talk about Iraq being the wrong war and Afghanistan being the right one was mere cant designed to drive a wedge into foreign policy so we could fold on both? I’m shocked.
    Fabius Maximus replies: I do not understand what you are saying. Obama is continuing Bush’s build-up in Afghanistan — as he promised during the campaign. FOrces are being redeployed from Iraq because we have no extra ground troops. What is this “fold on both” stuff?


  17. 22 June 2009 1:10 pm

    Urthshu you missed the point entirely. Is this a routine?


  18. urthshu permalink
    22 June 2009 1:22 pm

    This statement:

    “The past century in western culture has been marked by a search for the enemy, the evil other against whom we can ally and fight. There are precedents in our history (most notably the Crusades), but this appears to have become a mania. The Jews, the Communists, now climate-deniers and Islamo-whatevers. All of these claims have structural similarities, most seriously the wide acceptance despire the lack of supporting evidence.”

    is one I find unsupportable. First, its too broad and simple if one is reasoning from a particular war [GWoT] fought by the US and allies to one fought amidst those same peoples [WWII, as implied by 'the Jews']. Even as reasoned from broad to particular it doesn’t work.

    Second, it is itself paranoid. Climate-deniers as a search for an enemy? Really, are you expecting blood to flow over that?

    Third, a ‘mania’? This strikes me as especially thin-skinned, brooking no counterpoint and fearful that others’ may come to conclusions disagreeable and vote accordingly. Perhaps there’s a little of the totalitarian in it. Wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest.

    BTW, none of this is name-calling, nor even angry. Its just how you’ve often appeared.
    Fabius Maximus replies: You seem to have misinterpted the sentence.

    (1) “reasoning from a particular war [GWoT] fought by the US and allies to one fought amidst those same peoples [WWII, as implied by ‘the Jews’”

    I cite 3 examples prior to the two current one. By “the Jews”, this means the 2 millenia of anti-semitism (to cite just one of many examples, read about Martin Luther).

    (2) “Climate-deniers as a search for an enemy? Really, are you expecting blood to flow over that?”

    I said this was a search for an enemy. Cultural conflicts seldom involve “blood flowing”, but often have serious results. I suggest you read some articles about “climate deniers”; in many you can feel the hate flow.

    (3) “especially thin-skinned, brooking no counterpoint and fearful that others’ may come to conclusions disagreeable and vote accordingly”

    It’s a debate about science, and this emotionalism only makes its resolution more difficult. This behavior is, however, a common pattern in western culture — as I have shown in these very brief comments.


  19. urthshu permalink
    22 June 2009 1:28 pm

    Comment #17 – Nah, I got it. Just find it boring, to be honest. Most are looking at interests in the sense of resources, etc. and ignoring strategic gains, which may be geographic or political. I don’t think events haver played out enough to know either way.

    “Sound and fury aside, it doesn’t matter who runs those places.”
    1] It matters to them. 2] It matters if those nations or groups therein then attack us, as has happened. Its a smaller world than previous – cliche though that appears.
    Fabius Maximus replies: Can you state the possible “strategic gains.” In the post “An expert explains why we must fight in Afghanistan” we were unable to find any.

    “those nations or groups therein then attack us, as has happened”

    No, it has not happened. This is the “big lie” fueling both wars. In Iraq we fought mostly the Sunni Arabs. In Afghanistan we’re fighting an element of the the Pashtoun tribe. Neither attacked us. The camps in Afghanistan, when the Tailiban ruled, played no significant role in 9-11 (see the “Expert debate” post, where this is discussed at length). None of the actors in 9-11 were from Iraq or Afghanistan, nor were the people who directed them.

    “Nah, I got it. Just find it boring, to be honest.”

    It appears you do not “get it”. Perhaps you find this boring because you are misinformed. Understanding that your troops are fighting, suffering injuries and death, with no serious national interests at stake, give make issue more shiny in your eyes.


  20. 22 June 2009 4:05 pm

    urthshu – perhaps u r reading this with an intensity of a book instead of a brief missive? I am looking at the problem from the American side. I don’t care about the form of governance ‘they’ have. ‘they’ haven’t attacked us. SEVEN years ago a terroist attack did occur on US soil, but it shouldn’t have had the power to mentally dernage us, yet it did. We are fine, it doesnt matter realistically what kind of govt they have, if we give up trying to run a foreign country far from us we will be stronger and richer for it. I am pretty sure you didnt get that, because your argument seemed to fall into the sterile binary type we have seen these last years.


  21. 23 June 2009 3:27 am

    FM: “Can you state the possible “strategic gains.” In the post “An expert explains why we must fight in Afghanistan” we were unable to find any.

    We were unable to find any??? Hmmm?? I offered for your condideration the comments of someone with considerable experience, but you judged his credentials not worthy. So, exactly what are your credentials to judge Kilcullen’s unworthy of at least discussion? Oh, yeah, we’re not allowd to know that, we must take you at your word.

    Urthshu in comment #19: “those nations or groups therein then attack us, as has happened”

    FM reply: No, it has not happened. This is the “big lie” fueling both wars. In Iraq we fought mostly the Sunni Arabs. In Afghanistan we’re fighting an element of the the Pashtoun tribe. Neither attacked us. The camps in Afghanistan, when the Tailiban ruled, played no significant role in 9-11 (see the “Expert debate” post, where this is discussed at length). None of the actors in 9-11 were from Iraq or Afghanistan, nor were the people who directed them.

    Ever think about the words you’re using like “invade,victory defeat, strategic gains?” ever consider the complex relationships of the players? Your whole line of reasoning dismisses 4GW, “war amongst the people,” dismisses the fact that no matter our mistakes there are still the other actors on the stage. Do they have no role? You’re using the words of WWII, not those of whatever this stuff is we’re involved in in this century. Those words don’t fit either side of the debate. We haven’t figured out what kind of war we’re in. And we haven’t developed appropriate terms.

    I followed you to this site soley on your 4GW writing. Your Eagle’s Claw, series gave hope, but I fear you miss the opportunity to provide real insight into the confrontation-conflict dynamic that has so far characterized this century, because you’ve become so caught up in WAR in AFGHANISTAN.

    I frankly don’t care what you think about Afghanistan, other than as a vehicle to understand the larger evolution of violence.

    You and others jump into the middle and determine it’s all wrong, never giving any considerastion to the initial conditions, most that would require going back in history to the end of WWI to change.

    As example, your words/meaning sometime back were we “overreacted” after 9/11. “Overreacted” is a qualitative term requiring something to comparte it too. There was nothing, certainly not Pear Harbor. This country “acted” Sept 12 based on an unprecedented event, with such complexities, and with so many branches and sequels that I submit no president you pick would have received much better results. Of course we f’d up, there was no other possibility.

    The initial conditions for Sept 11th go back a long way. Some had it partially figured but there was no real baseline to attach to. 3000 died. (It could have been twice that if the VP for Security at Morgan Stanley, a former Army Ranger hadn’t dug deep after the first WTC bombing, realized the world was entering a new game and instituted and practiced evacuation. When told by NY Port Authority tpo stay put after the first strike, he said F it and moved his folks out.) We weren’t prepared for a new idea, There was no invasion by a country but we were at the receiving end of an expeditionary strike, nonetheless..

    Same for initial conditions for Sept 12. Every response model was Cold War or WWII, so no wonder we proceeded on the Afghan/WMD/Iraq line of action. Bad starts happen in all wars.Fact.

    What transpires for Iraq and Afghanistan in the future is abiove our pay grade, BUT wise folks can examine this century’s conflict- confrontation dynamic and influence what the next set of initial conditions might be. IMHO, Fabius, you started that way, but you need some major course correction.

    Did I use more words than “electro whatever?
    Fabius Maximus replies: You misunderstand my comment about Kilcullen. I am not contrasting my opinion to his. What evidence do you have that he is an area expert with respect to Afghanistan? Does he even claim to be one? Building a case for war requires, IMO, analysis justifying it by some experts — in the absense of explicit obvious evidence.

    It’s not my job to provide expert opinion that there is no relationship between those actors and 9-11, or between this war and our strategic goals. Nor is it my job to prove there are no dragons or elves. It is those advocating war who must make the case.

    “I frankly don’t care what you think about Afghanistan”

    It’s not what I think. The statement above is the official position of the relevant US government agencies and most (perhaps almost all) private experts. If you have evidence that there is such a relationship, let’s see it.

    As for the rest, I see nothing remotely like a description of “strategic gains” in your comment. You assert complexity, which is (of course) true, than assume it supports our wars — but draw no connection between the two. What exactly is the strategic gain? What is the relationship of the actors in Afghanistan to 9-11? How will our activities realize those gains?


  22. electrophoresis permalink
    23 June 2009 5:18 am

    FM: “This is the “big lie” fueling both wars. In Iraq we fought mostly the Sunni Arabs. In Afghanistan we’re fighting an element of the the Pashtoun tribe. Neither attacked us. The camps in Afghanistan, when the Tailiban ruled, played no significant role in 9-11….”

    Good points, although more recently in Iraq the U.S. military has dealt with the Sunnis mainly by bribing them, rather than by fighting ‘em. But Beakley’s {FM’s} essential argument remains insightful.

    Beakley : “So, exactly what are your credentials to judge Kilcullen’s unworthy of at least discussion? Oh, yeah, we’re not allowd to know that, we must take you at your word.”

    No, that’s a logical fallacy. We don’t need to ask anyone’s qualifications for asking what someone else’s qualifications are. Think about it: I don’t need to be able to run the mile in under 4 minutes to observe whether an Olympic runner runs it in under 4 minutes. This is common sense. Likewise, I don’t have to have 10,000 hours of flight time to ask whether a pilot has the requisite flight time that qualifies him to fly an airplane. That’s just obvious. Beakley has here fallen into a gross failure of reasoning.

    In the same way, FM does not need exotic qualifications to ask whether Kilcullen speaks the local language and has a history of close interaction with the people in Afghanistan or Iraq. In particular, FM needs no qualifications to point out that anyone who presumes to speak authoritatively about both Iraq and Afghanistan is asking us to believe in an outlandish amount of area expertise. (Someone could conceivably be an expert on Afghanistan or on Iraq, but not likely on both, as the two countries have entirely different cultures and speak entirely different languages and have entirely different histories.) And, incidentally, FM specifically pointed out the criteria by which we should judge an area expert. Re-read his comments. They seem valid and sensible.

    Beakley really goes off the rails when he claims: “…[As to the claim that] we “overreacted” after 9/11. “Overreacted” is a qualitative term requiring something to compare it too. There was nothing, certainly not Pear Harbor. This country “acted” Sept 12 based on an unprecedented event…”

    Beakley’s claim contradicts observed reality. Judge for yourself:
    * Fatalities at Pearl Harbor, 1941: 2403
    * Fatalities on the RMS Titanic, 1912: 1517
    * Fatalities from German U-boat sinking of the Lusitania, 1915: 1195 (or 1198, the exact number is disputed).
    * Total fatalities in American airline crashes in 2008 (U.S. airspace): 502
    * Total U.S. motorcycle fatalities, 2005: 4315
    * Fatalities from KLM 747-200 and Pan Am 747-100 collision, Tenerife, Canary Islands, 1977: 578
    * Fatalities from slips and falls in bathrooms annually in America: More than 15,000
    * Annual traffic fatalities in America, 2008: More than 43,000.

    As the statistics show, 9/11 was not “unprecedented.” In fact, 9/11 fatalities fall in the midrange of annual deaths in America, far fewer than the number of annual deaths from lung cancer or traffic accidents or slips and falls in the bathroom (roughly 1/10 to 1/3 the number in fact), and about 5 to 6 times the number of annual airline crash deaths. For perspective, almost exactly the same number of children die each year (3012) from gun violence as died once on 9/11. Yet the child handgun deaths go on year after year — no one calls for a “war on handgun violence,” no senator propose bills calling for the kidnapping and torture of people who sell illegal handguns, no congressmen propose abandoning the right of habeas corpus for people suspected of selling handguns to minors. Why not? Exactly the same number of deaths are involved in both cases.

    As we can see, Beakley’s claim that 9/11 was “unprecedented” is absurd. The number of Pearl Harbor fatalities was quite comparable (2403) to the number of 9/11 fatalities (3400). The deaths in the Lusitania (1198) were quite comparable to the 9/11 fatalities. The 9/11 fatalities almost exactly equal the number of deaths of children per annum from handgun violence (3012 in 2008). More significantly, the number of annual U.S. cancer deaths or automobile fatalities or bathroom deaths far surpass the number of 9/11 fatalities, by between a factor of 5 to 100, yet Americans did not become hysterical and revoke basic civil rights like habeas corpus or the right to trial by jury in order to reduce automotive deaths or bathroom slips and falls.

    An objective observer concludes that Beakley’s claims about 9/11 represent classic hysteria and pure mindless panic. Beakley’s response involves a level of dementia comparable to …

    * the gibberings of Orson Scott Card in his infamous 2006 essay claiming that if Democrats won the 2006 midterm election, Western civilization would collapse. (Western civilization seems to have survived the 2006 mid-term election. Card appears reluctant to comment on that anomaly.)

    * Other notable examples of 9/11 hysteria include Mark Humprhreys’ weird claim that “9/11 showed that Islamism, long a festering problem, may be a serious threat to the free societies of the world.” (Exactly how flying two jets into two skyscrapers threatens the existence of the free societies of the world, Humphreys seems unable to explain.)

    * Or the even weirder claim that “There is a new civilization emerging in the Third World that thinks that the white, northern hemisphere has always oppressed it and must therefore fall at its feet now…. If the northern civilization wants to protect itself, it must be united: America, the European Union, and Russia. If they are not together, they will be defeated one by one.” (So unless America wins in both Iraq and Afghanistan, not only will America collapse and disintegrate, but also all of Europe plus Russia. How this will occur, no one has yet explained. Presumably as soon as the last American soldier leaves Iraq, all 330 million Americans and 800 million Europeans will fall to their knees, embrace Allah, reject democracy and declare their spontaneous allegiance to an Islamic Grand Caliph as their new ruler.)

    Compare Beakley’s and Card’s and Humphreys’ wild panic with a sane response to 9/11, David Foster Wallace’s essay “Just Asking,” from November 2007.

    It seems clear that 9/11 produced literal dementia in a small but significant fraction of the American population. These people became unhinged. Their mental state and behavior literally fits the definition of psychosis:

    People experiencing psychosis may report hallucinations or delusional beliefs, and may exhibit personality changes and disorganized thinking. This may be accompanied by unusual or bizarre behavior, as well as difficulty with social interaction and impairment in carrying out the activities of daily living.

    Is this not an apt description of people excessively disturbed by 9/11, people like Orson Scott Card who bizarrely regard 9/11 as “an existential threat to the existence of the United States,” people like Ed Beakley who weird describe 9/11 as “unprecedented”?

    Compare with another sane response to 9/11 by Prof. Chip Gagnon, The U.S. in the world after 9/11 or Susan Faludi’s The Terror Dream.


  23. Robert Petersen permalink
    23 June 2009 9:19 am

    The invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 was justified as a response to 911. As such I can’t critize the decision to go in and take Al Qaeda out and punish the Taleban. What went wrong was the deeply flawed decision to remake the invasion to a nation-building project in order to make Afghanistan to a shiny democracy. Since that didn’t work out (and never will) the war has also escalated to be about fighting the Taleban in Afghanistan, fighting the Taleban in Pakistan, fighting opium etc. There is no clear strategic goal anymore. If there ever was.

    Oh, by the way: We do so few people talk about getting OBL these days? 911 was the reason for the invasion in the first place.

    I would also like to point out the vulnerability of the supply lines. The increasing level of fighting also means the need for more fuel, more weapons and other kinds of supplies, but how to get it into Afghanistan with an unstable and hostile situation in Pakistan and a hostile Russia kicking the Americans out of Central Asia? I suppose we could supply the Americans and NATO with a supply line through Iran, but that is hardly feasible. So what to do?
    Fabius Maximus replies: On a personal level I have no problem with the initial invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, or the resulting regime changes (as I have discussed at length on this site). The first was a salutary warning to other nations — don’t even think of allying with those who might strike at America. The second was, like Panama, a nice reminder that tin-pot dictators should keep a low profile (they’re only dictator for life). If we had made our point and pulled out, that would have had OK results and been considered a perk of hegemony.

    But both morphed into occupations, attempting to install puppets, establish long-term bases, and gain colonial-type commercial advantages. In Iraq we have so far gained only 1 of these 3 (the bases). These efforts are more expensive than we can afford (in both money and diversion of both military and political resources) — and the likely gains are too small vs. the costs.


  24. 23 June 2009 1:18 pm

    Fabius, you and elecro… completely missed or avoided the point(s) of my post.

    First, FM, I don’t ask you to agree with Kilcullen. I suggested that his points and his book are very worthy of consideration, no matter what your views. You define “expert” so narrowly that no one qualifies – certainly no one in a 4GW sense. Your “academic” probably precudes with few exceptions havibg serious “boots on the ground” complimentary experience. You reject his thoughts without discussion because you judge his credentials un-expert. Then use your own opinion as if it were fact simply because you get no other expertst???

    Second, you seem to me to be example of John Boyd’s distruction and creation continually focusing inward rather than looking further for re-orientation. WE are in Afghanistan, whhat next? You conclude we shouldn’t be there, so is it “beam me up Scotty?”

    Third: This “It’s not my job to provide expert opinion that there is no relationship between those actors and 9-11, or between this war and our strategic goals. Nor is it my job to prove there are no dragons or elves. It is those advocating war who must make the case.” may be true, but it avoids the whole point of discussion when someone has real credentials to make a statement. You opened the door counselor, that means all issues relevant should be on the table. Avoiding Kilcullen IMO is a shell game. Disagree but discuss.

    Fourth, Electro’s argument with my use of “unprecedented” in regard to 9-11 actually makes my point. Body count is not the correct metric for judging/comparison of any of the events listed. Indeed as per diaster SME Lee Clarke in “Worst Cases- Terror and Catastrophe in the Popular Imagination,” it is not even the most important metric in evaluating worst case diasters. I would judge his total comment a disregard of everything about non-state actors and warfare, or “war amongst the people” as environment of choice for future combatants as a concern for all of us.

    Fifth, that last seems to suggest that the real issue of a 4GW/Hybrid War/Irregular War/Non-Trinitarian war/Confrontation-Conflict Cycle might be worthwhile – The real point of the post, neither of you addressed, no?
    Fabius Maximus replies: Ed, the following is the core of your comments — or at least the only spefic you raise. IMO this is astonishingly weak. Let’s replay the tape.

    (1) Kilcullen is an expert on Afghanistan.

    I don’t believe Kilcullen agrees with you. I see nothing in his book implying that Kilcullen considers himself an expert in Afghanistan. In the “Fieldwork background” section he explains that the basis of his conclusions primarily results from the experience leading two “field assessment teams” in Afghanistan (2006 and 2008). This makes his opinions of interest, but not of such weight to be a justification for war.

    (2) “You define “expert” so narrowly that no one qualifies – certainly no one in a 4GW sense”

    I defined expert as follows: they read and write the local languages of Afghanistan, and have deep knowledge of the area’s history. Do you really believe that the west has nobody who qualifies?

    Also, Kilcullen appears to define expert much as I do. Note the few people he describes as area experts, such as Emma Sky (Iraq), and Barnett Rubin (NYU prof). More generally, the few people he mentions as experts in any context tend to have heavy academic backgrounds (e.g., Colin Kahl, an expert on the Iraq war”)

    (3) Kilcullen supports the war in Afghanistan (you imply this)

    Do you have any support for this assertion? He appears to support a large training and support mission (doesn’t everybody?). Perhaps some careful special ops work, esp of the type the Special Forces excel at (ditto). But his views about the larger war — he sees Iran and Afghan as one war, sometimes as one theater — are more difficult to discern.

    (4) We should go do war because Killcullen says so

    If your case is so strong you should be able to give a few other cites. Even if you are correct, he’s one man — not God.


  25. 23 June 2009 3:35 pm

    Fabius, again you purposefully disregard, avoid or twist what I wrote. I will reduce to two points:

    1) Kilcullen has valid credentials and his thoughts are worthy of consideration, no matter your view. You have labled his opinion “BS” (previous post) and his credentials not up to acceptable standard as you define. “Expert” is your term not mine. I wouldn’t care except you keep arguing as to how no expert has stepped up, and therefore your conclusions, ipso facto are validated. Uh, FM, just because out of your millions of readers no one has replied doen’t mean you are by default correct.

    2)Your are inside your own OODA Loop – closed to any point of view other than your own. My point has never been about connecting 9/11 to Afghanistan in the sense you describe, or “going to war because Kilcullen says so.” My major point is on discussion of non-state actor generated conflict-confrontation cycle as a major issue in this century and your avoidance after, IMO a good start. In multiple comments I have urged you to continue, and not once did your replies address. If you’ve changed your mind on 4GW, so be it, you’re not required to comment to me, but frankly your attidude has suprised me, confused me, and indeed leaves me wondering, why bother.
    Fabius Maximus replies: I never said that Kilcullens thoughts were not worth of consideration. Merely that they are grossly inadequate as a justification for a war. Who do you find this difficult to understand?

    (2) “My point has never been about connecting 9/11 to Afghanistan in the sense you describe, or “going to war because Kilcullen says so.” My major point is on discussion of non-state actor generated conflict-confrontation cycle as a major issue in this century…”

    First, on what basis do you believe that I disagree? I have written many dozens of long articles about this very subject. Second, several thousand words into the debate you annouce that you were discussing something different than everybody else! This is both impolite and confusing, to be charitable. We are discussing the rationale for the Afghanistan War, which is the subject of this post.

    (3) “Expert” is your term not mine.”

    It’s Kilcullen’s term as well, used frequently in his writings. I gave specific examples.

    (4) “again you purposefully disregard, avoid or twist what I wrote”

    That seems unlikely, since I usually reply to direct quotes from comments. Also, please provide an example of me “twisting what you wrote”.


  26. 23 June 2009 4:32 pm

    Simple reply FM, Your 4 points on Comment #24 isolate and frame context to your point, not the ones I was making. That’s what I call “twisting.”
    Fabius Maximus replies: In comments your words make your points. My responses make my points. That’s how comments work.

    You are not Moses, and I am not doing an exegesis on your words to bring out their deeper meaning.


  27. 24 June 2009 11:42 am

    Make your points, but don’t put words in people’s mouths. My comment on the other post – not silly in the least – really read your “in red” – whole thing is “when did you stop beating your mother” set up – is direct reflection of weariness with your twisting words. As example, Did I say “go to war because Kilcullen says so?” NO!

    You have posted multiple words of a man who believes everything post 9/11 should have been a police problem, yet in this case you refuse to “air” Kilcullen’s words for discussion as grossly inadequate.

    As to changing subjects – You have orchestrated this as if we were getting ready to vote on whether or not to invade Afghanistan. WE ARE THERE ALREADY – most of what you have been writing and supporting by reference back to your own contrivance has just become tedious, and simply manipulated to make impossible counter points. No game here, I quit trying.
    Fabius Maximus replies: None of this makes sense to me, nor reflects the facts of the discussion. Nor do I see any attempt in Ed’s comments to deal with my replies.

    You grossly misstate the content of this post. I asked for expert analysis of the war. There was nothing remotely in the form of “when did you stop beating.” Perhaps you could provide quotes, so we can see what you mean. As for your comment, I explained why it was silly. Yes, people other than Mr. Webster can cite a definition from a dictionary.

    “You have orchestrated this as if we were getting ready to vote on whether or not to invade Afghanistan. WE ARE THERE ALREADY”

    New rule, everybody! Ed says that once we send troops all discussion of the war must stop. Even after 8 years. He does not set a time limit, but perhaps after 18 years we can ask a few questions about this glorious project.

    “you refuse to ‘air’ Kilcullen’s words for discussion as grossly inadequate.”

    This too is silly. I have not stopped anyone from posting Kilcullen’s words (note your comment here). But I neither have an obligation neither to post them nor agree with his text.

    “Did I say ‘go to war because Kilcullen says so?’ NO!”

    I asked for expert evidence supporting the war. In reply you gave an excerpt from Kilcullens’ book (see above), and cited him as an expert and it repeatedly as evidence — the only evidence you cite — here, here, here.

    “has just become tedious”

    This part of Ed’s reply is not silly. Many of us who have loved ones over there consider this discussion of great importance, and do not care if he finds it “tedious”. I have more to say about this, but it violates the Comment Policy of the FM site. I’ll leave it to your imaginations.

    Correction: Ed says in comment #28 that he was refering to my “HANDLING OF MY COMMENTS, NOT WITH VALID DISCUSSION OF THE WAR.” IMO if that’s what he says, that’s what he meant. I misinterpreted his comment, for which I apologize.


  28. 25 June 2009 8:20 pm


    Fabius Maximus replies: IMO if that’s what Ed says, that’s what he meant. I misinterpreted his comment, for which I apologize. I have also posted a correction to my reply in comment #27.


    Yes, that’s a perk that goes with spending several thousand hours a year running this site. It’s true for you on the Project White Horse website.


  29. 26 June 2009 3:34 am

    Appology accepted and thanks.
    Fabius Maximus replies: No thanks necessary. On this site I work to maintain a small space for civil discussion on the Internet.


  30. OldSkeptic permalink
    29 June 2009 9:11 am

    Ed, I think I dealt with Kilcullen in a previous post (somewhere FM). He is a real expert in COIN (listen to his podcasts on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation .. our ABC). But COIN is a tactic and no tactic can save a failed strategy. May buy you some time but that is all.

    The classic is the Wehrmacht, frquently brilliant tactics but the overall strategy was flawed and they lost anyway.

    This is the US’s position in Iraq and Afghanistan (and Pakistan of course). It does not matter how good the tactics are (or more often not are), the fundemental strategy to invade sovereign countries and take them over basically forever is not sustainable, militarily or economically (unless they use WMD to kill tens or hundreds of millions). That old colonial model died forever when first Lee Enfield’s and later AK-47′s became cheap and available.

    Iraq is simply not going to be the US’s India, a destroyed and looted nation to prop up a failed empirial economy for decades (centuries in the case of the UK). As for Afghanisatan .. it is not called the ‘graveyard of empires’ for nothing.


  31. Tom P permalink
    29 June 2009 1:36 pm

    Oldskeptic – This is what I have been saying since 2002! Combat troops on rotation make for poor garrison soldiers. We don’t even have the branch of service necesary for long term garrisons: Colonial Troops, NKVD type, Para-miltary constabulary type troops of which we have none. The crazy idea that anyone ever welcomes foreign troops solving domestic issues.

    Your points about the German Wehmracht are well taken. They are the model of how to lose a war while winning battles. In the late 1970′s and early 80′s there was a movement within the US Army called unofficially the “mobility mafia” who took theories of rapid movement allegedly from the German Wehrmacht. So, the victors learn from the defeated? Wehrmacht penis envy? I don’t know, but we have many misinformed people in charge. Not uniformed, misinformed.

    In the final analysis, no nation can subdue another over time unless the target nation acquiesces, and that’s not happening here. It’s as though we are building a home in the river, in the end the river wins. And they present no true threat to us.


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