And a pony for every man, woman and child in Afghanistan!

I dislike quoting other website’s posts in full, but this is too good and important to pass by.  It nicely captures the casually delusional nature of advocacy for the Af-Pak war.  Now that they’ve backed off (somewhat) from the “preventing another 9-11” nonsense, there is little left but gibberish.

From “Afghanistan Mission Creep Watch – The Future Version“, Michael Cohen, Democracy Arsenal, 27 March 2009:

Barack Obama on March 27th, 2009:

As President, my greatest responsibility is to protect the American people. We are not in Afghanistan to control that country or to dictate its future.

The newly released ISAF guidance for counterinsurgency in Afghanistan:

Essentially, we and the insurgents are presenting an argument for the future to the people of Afghanistan: they will decide which argument in most attractive, most convincing, and has the greatest chance of success. . . . We need to understand the people and see things through their eyes. It is their fears, frustrations and expectations that we must address.

Sigh. But this isn’t even my favorite part of this guide:

Earn the support of the people and the war is won, regardless of how many militants are killed or captured. We must undermine the insurgent argument while offering a more compelling alternative. Our argument must communicate – through word and deed – that we and GIRoA have the capability and commitment to protect and support the people. Together, we need to provide a convincing and sustainable sense of justice and well-being to a weary and skeptical populace. We must turn perceptions from fear and uncertainty to trust and confidence.

And I would like a pony for every man, woman and child in Afghanistan.

Surely it’s important to communicate that ISAF and GIRoA have the capability to protect and support them. But what if we don’t actually posses that capability — or commitment for that matter.

Honestly, I urge you to read this guide and it’s wonderful pie in the sky predictions about what a counter-insurgency can accomplish in Afghanistan. And then ask yourself: how are we going to achieve these goals if we

  1. don’t have enough American troops;
  2. lack the political will to remain in Afghanistan at current troops levels for 5-10 years. (I mean does anyone think we’re going to make a dent in Afghanistan’s problem in 12-18 months);
  3. have little support from the Afghan government, the Afghan military and the Afghan police.

How exactly are we going to “provide a convincing and sustainable sense of justice and well-being” to the people of Afghanistan without these resources?

Not to mention the fact, it’s very hard to see why this would be in our national interest. Hell, how about turning perceptions of fear and uncertainty to trust and confidence here in America! It might actually help pass health care.

Yesterday, I spoke about the growing gulf between our intentions and capabilities in Afghanistan. You want prima facie evidence – read this (guide and then this article from the Sunday New York Times about how the Marines in Helmand province don’t have the resources to carry out their mission: “Marines Fight Taliban With Little Aid From Afghans“.

And then maybe have a stiff drink.

A pony for everybody!

This is from “If Wishes Were Horses, Beggars Would Ride — A Pony!“, John & Belle Have a Blog, 6 March 2004 — The post is one of the best eviscerations of Libertarian theory I have seen.  And one of the greatest geopolicial webposts, ever!


President Obama’s political capital bleeds away day by day, as he appears unable to deliver on the Democratic Party’s key domestic policy goals — and unwilling to address the Party’s fading support for our wars.

We have a critical point when our voices can be heard.  Speak out about the war!  Do not let the doomsters and couch potatoes sap our strength with their pessimistic and fatalistic gloom.


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For more information about this topic

To see all posts about our new wars:

Some posts about the war in Afghanistan:

  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
  10. You can end our war in Afghanistan, 20 August 2009

10 thoughts on “And a pony for every man, woman and child in Afghanistan!”

  1. “First, an insurgency cannot be defeated by attrition; its supply of fighters, even its leadership, is effectively endless… The intricate familial, clan, and tribal connections of Afghanistan turns “attrition math” on its head. From a conventional standpoint, the killing of two insurgents in a group of ten leaves eight remaining… From the insurgent standpoint, those two killed were likely related to many others who will want vengeance.”

    Neglecting the fact that the guide is goes on and try to explain why we can still “win,” it seems to me it never really had to get past page 2. True enough these guides aren’t made to tell politicians how to keep support for military action high, but it does neglect the fact that our forces are still and probably will continue to remain subject to “attrition math.”

  2. The ISAF and GIRoA have got it wrong, theres no point trying to be strong in the south if your still weak in the center and shaky in the north. It would be much better to cement your hold on the the north and center before tackling the south. It is basic IMO, secure your flank and rear before advancing. If US/NATO can point to the concrete benefits of there occupation(or whatever they want to call it)in the center and north they have a chance of convincing the Pashtun uncommitted in the South when they make there move. But this will take time and money and troops, say two years to secure the north and center against Taliban infiltration and buttress the Governments rule, before a slow village by village campaign in the south, they less idologically committed of the Taliban should fall away in time. I would envision a 10 year campaign in all, and perhaps twice that long to create a self perpetuating government. Something along the lines of the American commitment to Japan.

    This is going to be a long ass war, This is’ent a bunch of Iraqi Sunnis, maybe 10% of the population, the Pashtuns are up on 50%, the land is a lot poorer and harsher, the people are used to fighting. The Americans are going to find it a lot harder to split the insurgency. They wont be able to scare the Pashtuns with the shia majority the way they were in Iraq, the Pashtuns are the majority, and there not scared by anyone.
    The Pashtuns have there safe havens (for now) in Pakistan, they are hardened, numerous and well funded and organised(in a way the Iraqi insurgency never was).

    To break them will take a long slow campaign, its doable, but doable in a ten year time frame, not a US election cycle.

  3. “I would envision a 10 year campaign in all, and perhaps twice that long to create a self perpetuating government.”

    How long have we been there, eight years now? So we should be about done. If not, you expect the military to suddenly wise up in a year or so, then “start” the ten year job? We are supposed to support that?

  4. How long have we been there, eight years now? So we should be about done. If not, you expect the military to suddenly wise up in a year or so, then “start” the ten year job? We are supposed to support that?

    I’m saying from now 10 to 20, (sounds like a sentence for armed robbery)

    On the other hand the US/NATO could get lucky and the Taliban could collapse under the weight of its own bad decisions, might end up killing enough civs that they make the NATO forces look good.
    The collapse of the Sunni insurgency came quicker than anyone hoped, to a certain extent that was dependent on Iraqi political realities, but still it was a remarkable victory that many people including me thought was going to be impossible. I was wrong, the US military were proved right.
    They may do it again in Afghanistan, it will be harder certainly, and will need more money time and men, but its far from hopeless.

    Is it a good idea? well probably not.
    But I just think it would be weird America not fighting someone, its been going on for so long that I’m sure the US would go piling into some other sh*t poke country just to give themselves some thing to do if they ever got out of Afghanistan, the list is long, Venezuela, China, Korea, Equator, Russia, Pakistan(oh wait a sec) Yeamen, Iran, France, Syria, Somalia ect. So in the final analysis its probably a good thing for the above mentioned, keeps the playground bully off there back!

  5. So, we need to keep fighting there, because we might go somewhere else instead.

    I need stronger reasions than that, to justify the coffins rolling off the planes, and the waste of our armed forces strength for nothing.

  6. Your title reminds me of another kind of animal.

    Nasrudin asks a rich man for a donation. The prospective donor asks what the money will be used for.
    Nasrudin replies, “I want to buy…an elephant.”
    The prospective donor: “An elephant needs to be fed each day, and this costs a lot of money too.”
    Nasrudin: “I asked for money, not advice!”

    Others who are not requesting advice right now are the National Military Establishment and its bosses, the M ilitary I ndustrial Fi nancial C orporate media complex. Bringing yet another domestic animal into the discussion, metaphorically speaking, the MICFiC is a conspiracy to milk, shear, and slaughter the sheeple (except that the “slaughter” is not metaphorical.)

    May the Creative Forces of the Universe have mercy on our souls, if any.

  7. yeah, i’m not sure i buy the idea that if we left afghanistan we’d just be drawn into a fight somewhere else. perhaps this speaks to FM’s question about when our next not war president will come about, but i bet we’ll take a bit of a pause, such as we saw between Vietnam and Iraq 1. That being said, this list is a little disheartening for actually ending military action.

  8. So, we need to keep fighting there, because we might go somewhere else instead. I was being fasicious, but I think there is a kernal of truth in there somewhere. The war is winnable, in time, the military will eventually get the mix right. But they have a finite amount of time to do it in, if it looks like they are winning they will be given that time. They got until the end of Obamas first term at least, things will be examined after that.

    I do feel they made a mistake going after Klandathu stright off the bat, they should have concentrated on the out laying bug colloneys first.
    FM note: the last is a reference to “Starship Troopers” by Robert Heinlein. One of the greatest science fiction novels, ever. And joey is right, they should never have attacked the bug’s capital planet so early in the war.

  9. Well, on the bright side, someone finally explained what the war in Afghanistan has to do with the War on Terror: We’re fighting the Afghan people’s fears!

    As an aside, if that’s the best argument you’ve found against libertarianism I think the libertarians can sleep soundly. :)

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