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Read the newest Zenpundit post; one of his best!

7 August 2009

On COIN and an Anti-COIN Counterrevolution? — An email discussion (or interview) with Dr. Bernard Finel of The American Security Project ( that link is the blog, here is the main site for the org).

COIN, Afghanistan, strategy, tactics, our pool of geopol experts — Finel touches on all these things and more.  Also with excellent links to more information.

Update — a brief analysis of Zenpundit’s view of why we fight

Zenpundit says:

It may be time to leave Iraq; Afghanistan, by contrast, presents unsolved problems with al Qaida’s continuing as a functional organization in Paktia and in Waziristan-Baluchistan across the border in Pakistan. While circumstances do not require our turning Afghanistan into the Switzerland of the Hindu Kush, al Qaida is not business that we should leave unfinished.

Emailed comment:

Much of 9/11 was planned or trained for in Hamburg, Las Vegas and Florida. Are we going to leave them unfinished, too?

My reply:

Al Qaeda has moved beyond the urban legend zone, to a solid place in the America’s nightmares.  Asking about the “war on terror” is like asking why GI Joe must fight COBRA, UNCLE fight THRUSH, or James Bond fight SPECTRE.  It’s a consensual hallucination.

Questioning it brings one directly to Plato’s dialog about the cave.  You cannot convince people that they’re looking at shadows.  It must fill some deep need in the American psyche.

Here are attempts to grapple seriously with the reasons for fighting in Afghanistan.  It is, unfortunately, a waste of time — as our reasons are rooted in our fears, and hence beyond rebuttal.

For a discussion of Zenpundit’s “unfinished business” al Qaeda see An expert explains why we must fight in Afghanistan, 11 June 2009.

Other posts:

  1. Why are we are fighting in Afghanistan?, 9 April 2008 — A debate with Joshua Foust.
  2. Stratfor: “The Strategic Debate Over Afghanistan”, 13 May 2009
  3. Real experts review a presentation about the War (look here, if you’re looking for well-written analysis!), 21 June 2009
  4. The Big Lie at work in Afghanistan – an open discussion, 23 June 2009
  5. “War without end”, a great article by George Wilson, 27 June 2009
  6. “Strategic Calculus and the Afghan War” by George Friedman of Stratfor, 17 July 2009
  7. Powerful insights about our war in Afghanistan, part 1, 18 July 2009
  8. We are warned about Afghanistan, but choose not to listen (part 2), 19 July 2009
  9. Powerful insights about our war in Afghanistan, part 3, 20 July 2009

To see all posts about our new wars:

Afterword

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Please share your comments by posting below.  Per the FM site’s Comment Policy, please make them brief (250 word max), civil and relevant to this post.  Or email me at fabmaximus at hotmail dot com (note the spam-protected spelling).

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. mclaren permalink
    8 August 2009 1:35 am

    THRUSH stands for “Technology Hierarchy for the Removal of Undesirables and the Subjugation of Humanity.” They rebranded themselves in the 70s. Their new name is “the Pentagon.”

  2. Robert Petersen permalink
    8 August 2009 2:20 am

    Back in WW2 Europe experienced – for at short time – the so-called phoney war between the German assault on Poland and the German invasion of France in May 1940.

    The war on terror is one big phoney war, but it is important to understand why we have come to this point to regard a poor landlocked country like Afghanistan as vital to Western security: I blame the one-percent doctrine. The one-percent doctrine was formulated by VP Dick Cheney in the aftermath of 911 and according to Ron Suskind he said:

    “If there’s a 1% chance that Pakistani scientists are helping al-Qaeda build or develop a nuclear weapon, we have to treat it as a certainty in terms of our response. It’s not about our analysis … It’s about our response.”

    The fallacy of this kind of thinking is that if you follow this reasoning to its logical conclusion then everything can be turned into a dangerous threat and you might end up ignoring the real threat. Like waging a senseless war in Central Asia that ends up eating up your economic strength and pushing the United States toward bankruptcy.

    Sometimes I really wish that a real military threat like the Chinese PLA would emerge and present a real challenge. It might install some realism into our mode of thinking. As it is right now we live in a dream world were a bunch of guys with Korans and AK47 can make us all act crazy.

  3. Major Scarlet permalink
    8 August 2009 6:47 pm

    like the “war on some drugs” the “war on some terror” is an open ended conflict probably designed to eventually strangle our own republic with ever more rules and regulations sapping our liberties. this “new normal” is an ever creeping tyranny. the pay masters and terrorist supporting regimes of the middle east have been untouched in this “war”. Saudi Arabia, Syria, Yemen, and Iran have yet to pay a price for their crimes. You can’t fight a “war on terror” and ignore the cancer that these countries spread. stopping AQ in pakistan will not cure our problem. the Saudis will simply funnel money to some other extremist group.

    call me when someone gets serious about fighting terror.
    .
    .
    Fabus Maximus replies: You raise an important question. Has anyone seen current research about the extent of Saudi support for al Qaeda? After the Saudi’s crushed their early stage insurgency, did the experience sour them on al Qaeda?

  4. anna nicholas permalink
    8 August 2009 7:28 pm

    Perhaps FM can do a post on Saudi Arabia ?
    Where we have :
    The centre of the Muslim world . If not the Chosen People like the Zionists , then the Chosen Land , ruled by the Chosen Princes .
    Wahabism , poorly compatable with the Persian thirst for knowledge , the musicians of the Pamirs , or the hardworking ladies of Africa .
    Money .
    Western networks and influence .
    A protective curtain of assumed friendship.( Do we know , for example , whether they have nuclear weapons ? )
    Old scores to settle over the partitions that followed WW1 ?

  5. 8 August 2009 10:32 pm

    Is there some question about where the money for weapons and technologies are coming from for AlQ? Do we really believe the canard about opium? Recall the Taliban banned and eradicated a good deal of it when they had power before 9/11. We could buy up the entire crop and distribute the money to anyone who will finger the Arabs who we need to KILL. One reason the CIA was and remains notoriously weak in the Middle East was the objection of the Saudis and their associates — think Exxon et al — to its presence in the region. We saw the results in Iraq, a total clusterfuck which remains to be explained and it continues in our hamhanded performance in South Asia.
    .
    .
    Fabius Maximus replies: We don’t know, and your speculation (aka guessing) is not the same thing as knowledge. To take one shard of it, the Taliban may have changed their thinking about opium — adapting their policies to their changed circumstances.

  6. Major Scarlet permalink
    9 August 2009 7:37 am

    we have proof that saudi officials and citizens are funding AQ, hamas, the taliban, and fata. i believe an open source report this year said that the support for AQ was around 100 million. it is a failure of diplomacy to allow this to happen.
    .
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    Fabius Maximus replies: I have seen no “proof”, and doubt that you have either. We do have statements from government officials.

    * “Information on U.S. Agencies’ Efforts to Address Islamic Extremism“, GAO, September 2005 — See pages 16-17 for a summary of the allegations. This report is 4 years old, yet it continues to be cited as though current.

    * “U.S.: Saudis Still Filling Al Qaeda’s Coffers“, ABC, 1 September 2007 — This has the famous statement by Stuart Levey (Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence since 2004) about Saudi funding for terrorism:

    “If I could somehow snap my fingers and cut off the funding from one country, it would be Saudi Arabia.”

    For a current summary see “Saudi Efforts to Combat Terrorist Financing“, Michael Jacobson, Washington Institute for Near East Policy, 21 July 2009.

    A seperate but related issue is Saudi funding for the Taliban. See Holbrooke’s recent statement in “U.S. Plans New Hunt for Sponsors of Taliban“, New York Times, 5 June 2009:

    “In the past there was a kind of a feeling that the money all came from drugs in Afghanistan,” Mr. Holbrooke said. “That is simply not true.” Identifying the sources of money for the Taliban has been one of the most elusive goals for the United States since Sept. 11, 2001, but the task is central to the American war effort in Afghanistan, and to fighting militancy in Pakistan. But American officials have had limited success. “We want to focus on where the money really comes from,” Mr. Holbrooke said.

    Richard C. Holbrooke is the special US envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan.

  7. anna nicholas permalink
    10 August 2009 12:06 am

    You could understand territorial ambitions / fears by Saudi , towards Iraq ; but that motive wouldnt hold towards Afgh /Pakistan . Where are you , Sherlock Holmes , when you’re needed ?
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    Fabius Maximus replies: Better yet, we need Mycroft Holmes, as described in The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans.

    The same great powers which I have turned to the detection of crime he has used for this particular business. The conclusions of every department are passed to him, and he is the central exchange, the clearinghouse, which makes out the balance. All other men are specialists, but his specialism is omniscience. We will suppose that a minister needs information as to a point which involves the Navy, India, Canada and the bimetallic question; he could get his separate advices from various departments upon each, but only Mycroft can focus them all, and say offhand how each factor would affect the other. They began by using him as a short-cut, a convenience; now he has made himself an essential. In that great brain of his everything is pigeon-holed and can be handed out in an instant. Again and again his word has decided the national policy.

  8. 10 August 2009 1:19 am

    I believe that I have passed the point of no return with regard to the “word” of our government officials. For example, could someone explain why we are not permitted to know what documents Clinton’s bagman, uh, National Security advisor, Sandy Berger, stole from the National Archives, sticking them in his pants!! and destroyed. To which he pleaded guilty!!!!!
    .
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    Fabius Maximus replies: Perhaps someone will ask him during his confirmation hearings in his next high public office. Meanwhile, you need not worry that he’s starving. From Wikipedia:

    After leaving the Clinton administration, Berger became chairman of Stonebridge International, an international advisory firm he co-founded in 2001 which focuses on aiding companies in their expansion into markets such as Brazil, China, India, and Russia. Berger is also Chairman of the DB Zwirn Global Advisory Board, an international investment fund and merchant capital provider founded in 2001 and with offices throughout North America, Europe and Asia. Berger is an Advisory Board member for the Partnership for a Secure America, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to recreating the bipartisan center in American national security and foreign policy. He also serves on the International Advisory Council of the Brookings Doha Center.

  9. anna nicholas permalink
    10 August 2009 10:00 pm

    Mycroft Holmes ? I suppose he would be the father of the Head of State , Fountain of Knowledge , and Blessed Supreme Leader of the UK –
    Peter , Lord Mandelson .
    Does the US have an unelected Supreme Leader yet ?

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