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December 28, 2009

Comments

almost leads?

surely you jest. the proper description would be "always leads."

over, and over again, throughout history the process has been the same.

sun tzu didn't write about it on account of he felt it was obvious.

same, same, von clauswitz.

if you invade, even if you state that you are only "trying to help." you will most likely end up getting your ass kicked by the locals.

ask the romans who went into spain and africa. ask the greeks who followed alexander.

hell, ask anybody who has served our military in the last 50 years. even if you're invaded a place like germany that is led by psychotic sons of bitches. the locals will hate your ass, and fight like demons.

what sun tzu did write, which can be factored into things before an invasion is

men fight the hardest for an indefensible position.

if you're going to invade, never, ever expect "sweets and flowers."

they will keep those for their own fighters, you know, the guys who make IID's.

What if, then, more war in Afghanistan and Pakistan was not the answer to tamping down radicalization in Pakistan and stabilizing a country that wasn't in dire need of stabilizing before we expanded that conflict?

Right, because the old "stable" Pakistan under Musharraf, with its Army and intelligence agencies supporting both al-Qaeda and the Taliban, was a great situation for both Pakistan and the U.S. Nothing wrong with that situation at all.

What time period exactly are you talking about here when Pakistan was oh so stable?

Right, because the old "stable" Pakistan under Musharraf, with its Army and intelligence agencies supporting both al-Qaeda and the Taliban, was a great situation for both Pakistan and the U.S. Nothing wrong with that situation at all.

Are you really suggesting that the ISI isn't still supporting the Taliban? Someone should tell McChrystal and Petraeus.

Or that we could not have compelled change in Pakistan with respect to al-Qaeda absent the scope and duration of the current occupation?

Really?

Didn't Musharraf cooperate rather promptly, before the invasion anyway? Odd that.

And didn't we support Musharraf during most of that period anyway?

Either way, it shows a real lack of imagination to suggest that we couldn't have gotten cooperation out of Pakistan without maintaining an occupation for 8 years, going on more than a decade.

We got cooperation from other countries without invading their neighbors/conducting military strikes into their territory. Hell, we even got cooperation from Pakistan before we invaded, as I mentioned.

But, yeah, Pakistan was more stable before. That is really rather obvious. One might argue that destabilizing Pakistan was necessary, but it would be a real stretch to argue that Pakistan hasn't been destabilized.

Bill Jones
As with all government programs this one has deteriorated quickly over time. When the "terrorists R Them" brand was first launched in a major way on 9/11,(after a few test market tries), they at least did a superficially plausible job of producing a credible threat. Each new product roll-out has been increasingly laughable and this latest one proves that the CIA/FBI really need new material. The traditional approach to a problem like this would be to keep a low profile for a while- maybe a year or so, and the re-launch the brand with a spectacular new offering.
It will of course be tempting to do this before the election, for maximum impact it should of course be afterward.

And this is one more example of piss poor timing. They should have launched this effort prior to launching the drone. This way around, a few people are starting to raise the "why do the Yemeni's hate us?" question, and thus the hitherto successfully suppressed news of the drone slaughter gets a little bit of notice. The traditional way would have been to have the "Terrorist" first and then reluctantly have to bomb the f*ck out of some-one to stop it happening again.

i forgive our Lieberman. he only means to deliver our arm dealers from penury and subjugation.

for this he deserves Hosannas on high.

Are you really suggesting that the ISI isn't still supporting the Taliban? Someone should tell McChrystal and Petraeus.

Sorry, I meant OPENLY supporting the Taliban and AQ, as in providing frontline troops, training, recruits, funding, and weapons. Many of the troops behind the Taliban's biggest offensives during the civil (also some of its worst atrocities as well) were Pakistanis, often from SSP and LeT, and all had Pakistani ISI training officers coordinating artillery and airstrikes. You think this doesn't make a difference vice covert support or live-let-live?

Or that we could not have compelled change in Pakistan with respect to al-Qaeda absent the scope and duration of the current occupation?

Really?

Yes, really.

Didn't Musharraf cooperate rather promptly, before the invasion anyway? Odd that.

No.

Do you think Musharraf would have cooperated significantly if we had not invaded? If Colin Powell hadn't essentially threatened to invade Pakistan itself if it didn't cooperate?

And didn't we support Musharraf during most of that period anyway?

Sadly, yes. For little cooperation in return. But from whom little is asked, little is received. The Bush Admin's focus on counterterrorism and AQ HVTs exclusively, and ignoring Afghanistan as so many on the far Left now want us to do, required Musharraf and the ISI to fork over a few AQ figures on occasion but do little to actually fight extremism in FATA and Pakistani society in general. Indeed, the Musharraf years saw an accelerating and empowered political Islam in Pakistan as Musharraf sought to use the JUI to blunt separatism in Baluchistan and the NWFP and Islamism in general to strike at the base of support for Sharif and Bhutto.

We got cooperation from other countries without invading their neighbors/conducting military strikes into their territory. Hell, we even got cooperation from Pakistan before we invaded, as I mentioned.

Not really, and few other countries are so involved with Afghanistan as Pakistan.

But, yeah, Pakistan was more stable before. That is really rather obvious. One might argue that destabilizing Pakistan was necessary, but it would be a real stretch to argue that Pakistan hasn't been destabilized.

You confuse stability with lack of violence in the central cities. Pakistan was remarkably unstable in the outlying areas. Baluchistan was significantly more violent in the Musharraf years than it is now --- thousands were killed. Hundreds to thousands were also being killed in FATA and the Swat Valley as the Pakistani Taliban was being created and entrenched itself through the slaughter of the old tribal hierarchy, often with the active connivance of the Musharraf regime. So no.

You think this doesn't make a difference vice covert support or live-let-live?

No, I never said that though. All I'm saying is that we could apply effective pressure to get those desired results vis-a-vis al-Qaeda without a quarter century, hundred thousand troop counterinsurgency effort.

Yes, really.

Well then, we disagree. I think that Powell's threat and the initial invasion would have been enough. In other words, I'm saying that we could get Pakistan to abandon al-Qaeda without a quarter century, hundred thousand troop counterinsurgency effort. I was not opposed to the initial invasion. Just a massive escalation/endless commitment now. Regardless, I'm opposed to the notion that our continued occupation is stabilizing Pakistan.

Do you think Musharraf would have cooperated significantly if we had not invaded? If Colin Powell hadn't essentially threatened to invade Pakistan itself if it didn't cooperate?

Powell made the threat prior to the invasion. September 12th according to Musharraf. Doesn't that call into question your assertion about the necessity of invasion? Regardless, I wasn't oppposed to that threat, or the invasion. Just opposed to the notion that our continued occupation is stabilizing Pakistan. Pointing out the efficacy of Powell's threat doesn't undermine my point. It supports it.

Not really, and few other countries are so involved with Afghanistan as Pakistan.

Yes, really. KSM for example. And countries such as Libya and Saudi Arabia shifted considerably in terms of cooperation.

Pakistan was remarkably unstable in the outlying areas. Baluchistan was significantly more violent in the Musharraf years than it is now --- thousands were killed. Hundreds to thousands were also being killed in FATA and the Swat Valley as the Pakistani Taliban was being created and entrenched itself through the slaughter of the old tribal hierarchy, often with the active connivance of the Musharraf regime.

This differs from my understanding of the period. Do you have links for that?

ICG report on Baluchistan's insurgency:

http://www.crisisgroup.org/home/index.cfm?id=5131&l=1

Not sure how you remain oblivious to the way the TTP overran FATA and Swat Valley, or the Pak Army's varied attempts to regain control followed by catastrophic appeasement. Either way you surely know that hundreds, possibly thousands, were killed during that time.

Yes, really. KSM for example. And countries such as Libya and Saudi Arabia shifted considerably in terms of cooperation.

So as long as a few HVTs get got, problem solved? As I said, he fed us some AQ guys while either ignoring or assisting in the growing Talibanization of the NWFP and FATA, and using political Islamism to suppress domestic opponents. This fed directly into the violence and instability we see now. This, not the plus up in Afghanistan or the drone strikes, is what is causing violence in Pakistan now.

As for SA and Libya, I'd argue that both regimes saw their own health threatened by Islamism and reacted accordingly, though with much more vigorous assistance from us than in the past.

So as long as a few HVTs get got, problem solved?

Did I say problem solved? I don't think I did.

But using your terms, are you suggesting that our current strategy has solved the problem?

Not sure how you remain oblivious to the way the TTP overran FATA and Swat Valley, or the Pak Army's varied attempts to regain control followed by catastrophic appeasement.

Not unaware at all. My statement was that Pakistan was more stable prior to the invasion. You said not so. I asked for evidence.

Your link discusses a spike in violence during the period after the invasion so I'm not sure what to make of that in terms of proving that Pakistan was more stable prior to the invasion.

I was well aware of recent history, not the pre-invasion period.

Perhaps there was a miscommunication.

This fed directly into the violence and instability we see now. This, not the plus up in Afghanistan or the drone strikes, is what is causing violence in Pakistan now.

Well, it's both isn't it? I mean, the violence in Pakistani cities is not being led by Baloch groups as much as the TTP. And the TTP is conducting attacks in response to actions against it. So, I very much disagree.

From the comments Lieberman made with Duss is responding to:

Iraq was yesterday’s war. Afghanistan is today’s war. If we don’t act preemptively, Yemen will be tomorrow’s war.

First, by "act preemptively", I can only assume that Lieberman is calling for some kind of military action. So, rather than tomorrow's war, Yemen will be added to the list of today's wars.

In other words, we will not be avoiding war, we will simply be accelerating the time frame in which we engage in it.

Plus, aren't we already there?

Duss tries to cut Lieberman some slack, stating that what Lieberman is calling for isn't really war with a capital "W", but something more like what we're doing in Pakistan.

Isn't that what we're already doing in Yemen? High-tech whack-a-mole strikes against "targets of opportunity"?

What does Lieberman suggest we do in addition? Unleash the special ops guys? Full-on invasion and occupation?

We've been at this business for eight years now. By "this business", I mean military operations intended to disrupt, reduce, or eliminate the threat of terrorist violence against the US and its interests.

How has eight years of intense military activity, involving hundreds of thousands of US soldiers fighting in two theaters, untold numbers of special operations actions, hundreds of billions of dollars spent, for almost a decade, made the US and/or its interests safer or more secure?

The most effective anti-terror activities I can point to have been the actions of a planeful of civilians on Flight 93, on Richard Reid's flight, and in the situation we saw on Christmas.

Perhaps our money would be better spent on giving aikido lessons to folks who fly regularly.

Eight years, billions of dollars, hundreds of thousands deployed and thousands dead, and some guy from Nairobi can still walk on a plane and try to blow himself up. Increasing the level or tempo of military operations in Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Iran, or any other place you can think of will not change that one iota.

What kept that plane in the air on Christmas was Abdulmutallab's half-assedness and the actions of a bunch of regular folks with more plain ordinary courage than Lieberman could muster up with both hands and a flashlight.

We have no freaking idea what we're doing, in Yemen or anywhere else. We think we're going to throw a bunch of high-tech ordinance, a bunch of spec ops ninjas, or an occupying army, at the problem and make it better.

None of those things have made any of it better.

Lieberman is a grandstanding idiot.

Well, before Joe Lieberman invades Yemen, the U.S. Government needs to inventory the anti-American perpetrators of terrorist prayer INSIDE our country.

I suspect there are thousands of terrorist prayer safehouses throughout the U.S., many located in South Carolina, particularly in traitor Jim Demint's district, wherein home-grown terrorists in the republican party prayed for this latest attempted airliner bombing by al Qaeda and propitiated their thug God to carry out the destruction of the Obama Administration, the U.S. Government, and the 39% tax bracket.

While weather has long been the weapon of choice for these home-grown anti-American murderers, there is growing evidence of cooperation between domestic prayer and prayer emanating from caves deep within Pakistan.

The government's investigation needs to extend to right-wing internet sites, big name churches and even to the halls of Congess where the failure of government and the destruction of the U.S. economy and its economic infrastructure are actively sought and prayed for by the dangerous menace among us, a menace which has proved over the years that prayer is 87.52% effective, particularly when it comes to fundraising for the destruction of their American enemies

Did I say problem solved? I don't think I did.

But using your terms, are you suggesting that our current strategy has solved the problem?

Certainly not, but it has nudged large parts of the Pakistani Army and security services towards an understanding that the TTP and its associated Sunni jihadist organizations are the enemy rather than useful foot soldiers, and that the Taliban must be crushed rather than negotiated with or accommodated. Obviously the lesson hasn’t been absorbed vis a vis the QST or the Haqqani network, but we’re moving in the right direction.

Not unaware at all. My statement was that Pakistan was more stable prior to the invasion. You said not so. I asked for evidence.

Apologies, I was responding more on whether the Musharraf regime’s policies and the policy prior to Obama’s surge was effective or not. Clearly we both agree that they were utter failures.

As to Pakistani stability prior to 9/11, let’s see: we have Pakistan as a dedicated ally and operational partner of the Taliban, supplying training, troops, officers, weaponry, and funding as well as political support. This made Pakistan a de facto ally of al-Qaeda as well, since the Taliban and AQ were declared partners. While Pakistan is in such outstanding company, we also have national hero AQ Khan selling nuclear weapons tech to the highest bidder. Pakistan is also engaged in such activity as instigating the Kargil War in 1999 in Kashmir and the December 13, 2001 attack on the Indian parliament which nearly precipitated a nuclear war on the subcontinent.

Sounds like a sustainable, stable country to me. Pity the Americans had to get involved.

we’re moving in the right direction

And after only eight years, no less! Just imagine how totally awesome a direction we'll be moving in after another 20 or 30 years and several trillions of dollars of this. It'll be the rightest direction ever.

As to Pakistani stability prior to 9/11, let’s see: we have Pakistan as a dedicated ally and operational partner of the Taliban, supplying training, troops, officers, weaponry, and funding as well as political support. This made Pakistan a de facto ally of al-Qaeda as well, since the Taliban and AQ were declared partners. While Pakistan is in such outstanding company, we also have national hero AQ Khan selling nuclear weapons tech to the highest bidder. Pakistan is also engaged in such activity as instigating the Kargil War in 1999 in Kashmir and the December 13, 2001 attack on the Indian parliament which nearly precipitated a nuclear war on the subcontinent.

Sounds like a sustainable, stable country to me. Pity the Americans had to get involved.

This is largely beside the point. I still don't see how a multi-decade military operation right next door, that serves to empower India in Afghanistan at the expense of Pakistan, while forcing Pakistan to engage in military operations against domestic groups, is a stabilizing factor.

Nor do I see how withdrawing most troops over a 2-3 year timeline would destabilize Pakistan.

This is largely beside the point. I still don't see how a multi-decade military operation right next door, that serves to empower India in Afghanistan at the expense of Pakistan, while forcing Pakistan to engage in military operations against domestic groups, is a stabilizing factor.

Well, you asked for evidence that Pakistan was unstable prior to the invasion of Afghanistan. I think it was the prime driver of instability and violence in south Asia, all before the invasion.

Domestic groups. Hmm, now there’s a weasel word for you. The Pakistani Taliban is just another “domestic group” now? Kind of like the Awami National Party, or the lawyers’ associations?

No, they’re Pashtun tribals who began as followers of al-Qaeda and associated jihadist groups in FATA. In response to U.S. and Pakistani attempts to infiltrate the FATA to attack al-Qaeda, they began to organize and be mentored by al-Qaeda types to fight back.

Now I don’t know if you think attacking AQ is a bad idea, even if it does spark resistance from their hosts, but I think that attacking AQ is a good idea.

In response to Pashtun tribal elders’ attempts to cooperate with the Pakistani state authorities in the FATA, the TTP began killing tribal elders as supposed spies for the West and taking over the FATA. But then maybe Pakistan should just allow the TTP to murder hundreds of people? After all, it’s just a harmless domestic group, doing what domestic groups do.

But then the TTP killed pretty much anyone who got in their way and expanded into the Swat Valley, and also killed Benazir Bhutto. But hey, they’re just another harmless domestic group, bothering no one.

I don’t know, perhaps the Pakistanis who aren’t allies of jihadi terrorists should take on such groups, even if they are domestic. Perhaps the U.S. should help them do so, even in the face of opposition from said allies of such nice, peaceful domestic groups. Perhaps some Pakistanis even realize that such nice, peaceful domestic groups are actually harming Pakistan as a society.


Nor do I see how withdrawing most troops over a 2-3 year timeline would destabilize Pakistan.

Do you think simply giving those Pakistani military and security forces their head, especially those allied with the jihadis and wedded to the use of such jihadis as agents of national power, is a policy that leads to stability?

Those people would like nothing more than a U.S. withdrawal and a return of the Taliban to either power in Kabul or a secure Talibanized Pashtun belt in Afghanistan to parallel a similar safe haven in the FATA and Baluchistan. This would be a superb safe area for them to train radicalized militias to send into Kashmir, fight the Baluch tribes, and otherwise use to fight India. Not to mention send people like Najibullah Zazi to New York City.

Does this sound like a stable, long-term solution to you?

Posted this on another thread but meant to post it here:

Apparently, the word on the street is that the counter terrorism US military folks and the counter insurgency US military folks (not necessarily from the same branches of US military folks) can't get along in Afghanistan. To the point that people of not-insignificant rank are being deployed unexpectedly to handle the problem.

But hey, I'm sure once we get the intra-US military folk-fighting sorted out we can move on to the much more familiar and easy task of sorting out the various Afghan factions.

Feh.

Does this sound like a stable, long-term solution to you?

I would opt to pressure Pakistani military figures with respect to jihadist groups - like we're doing now. They will comply in some sense, and not in others. But our massive military presence is not the main factor determining their strategic calculus vis-a-vis India. They will do what they think they have to do, as they are doing now.

And if it doesn't lead to stability, then Pakistani leaders will have to confront their own choices, and take responsibility for their own decisions. At the present, we insulate them from such reckoning by providing an obvious and overwhelming scapegoat.

Not to mention send people like Najibullah Zazi to New York City.

Are you suggesting that Pakistan was behind this?

Also, it was instructive that the underpants bomber didn't segue through the Af-Pak region. Why, it's almost as if AQ can make do with havens in other locales. Considering the amount of space they need to operate (miniscule really), this will be a problem long after we withdraw from Afghanistan, and regardless of whether or not Af-Pak is entirely AQ free (which is fantastic thinking in my opinion).

Ugh: Did you see Rajiv Chandrasekaran's article? Kind of tracks with that divergence.

link

I would opt to pressure Pakistani military figures with respect to jihadist groups - like we're doing now. They will comply in some sense, and not in others. But our massive military presence is not the main factor determining their strategic calculus vis-a-vis India. They will do what they think they have to do, as they are doing now.

And if it doesn't lead to stability, then Pakistani leaders will have to confront their own choices, and take responsibility for their own decisions. At the present, we insulate them from such reckoning by providing an obvious and overwhelming scapegoat.

You don't think an enormous part of the pressure we apply is the presence of our troops in the fight across the border? That we remain involved in the region and are incentivized to pay attention to what they are doing because we are involved in a major way in Afghanistan? That the level of our dedication to an anti-Taliban government in Afghanistan does not play in the calculations of pro-Taliban generals and intelligence officers in Pakistan as to whether or not they should back the Taliban or not?

Well, you obviously don't, I suppose. I disagree.

If we left Afghanistan, I am 100% sure we will see a vast letup in pressure against the TTP, a renewed lack of cooperation against AQ and the Taliban, less intel for drone strikes, and a vast increase in open and blatant Pakistani support for the Afghan Taliban.

I think we would also see a return of pro-Taliban figures in the military to power. Appeasing the TTP would be back in fashion in a big way, with more sectarian violence and increased religious radicalization in the FATA, the NWFP, and south Punjab (home of the LeT/LeJ/Army of Muhammad) as a result.

And if you think that the result would force Pakistani generals to take responsibility or face a "reckoning" ... clearly you are unfamiliar with the Pakistani Army's modus operandi. It's much like the Republicans --- take charge, fuck the country up, abdicate to the politicians, then blame them for not immediately fixing the place up. Dodging responsibility for the enormous harm they've caused to the country is the Pakistani Army's SOP. See 1971.

Pakistan is too critical to simply let go and wash our hands of. It's problems will not stay within its borders.

And no, I don't think Najibullah Zazi was sent by the Pak military. I do think that many in the Pakistani military and intel services wouldn't have minded if he had been successful. I think we need to back those groups in Pakistan that are against such people, not abandon them.

Also, it was instructive that the underpants bomber didn't segue through the Af-Pak region. Why, it's almost as if AQ can make do with havens in other locales. Considering the amount of space they need to operate (miniscule really), this will be a problem long after we withdraw from Afghanistan, and regardless of whether or not Af-Pak is entirely AQ free (which is fantastic thinking in my opinion).

Yes, the problem will not go away even if Afghanistan was peaceful and the FATA was cleansed of Taliban and AQ.

But the difference between the amateur hour antics of incompetent loners and giving these loners an enormous safe zone in FATA and southern Afghanistan in which to train, hone their bombmaking skills, rest, and network would be quite significant.

Not to mention the enormous propaganda victory that would result if the U.S. tucked tail and ran from a surging Taliban in Afghanistan. It would revitalize the AQ cause throughout the Muslim world.

You don't think an enormous part of the pressure we apply is the presence of our troops in the fight across the border?

I think we can apply pressure in other ways. We have a certain amount of leverage.

That we remain involved in the region and are incentivized to pay attention to what they are doing because we are involved in a major way in Afghanistan?

If remaining engaged in the region is vital, then we will do so regardless of a quarter century, 100,000 troop occupation. Which, by the way, will leave us exceedingly cash strapped considering all our other commitments.

That the level of our dedication to an anti-Taliban government in Afghanistan does not play in the calculations of pro-Taliban generals and intelligence officers in Pakistan as to whether or not they should back the Taliban or not?

I'm not sure. I mean, they're backing the Taliban now. They're providng them sanctuary in Quetta and possibly Karachi (where, rumor has it, they spirited Mullah Omar lest something happen to him). But we will leave someday regardless. Pakistan knows this.

But the difference between the amateur hour antics of incompetent loners and giving these loners an enormous safe zone in FATA and southern Afghanistan in which to train, hone their bombmaking skills, rest, and network would be quite significant.

You don't think they can hone bombmaking skills in Yemen? Heck, they could do that in Europe. Safe havens help, for sure, but they are just so easy to replicate. And I'm not for giving them a safe zone. I'm for continuing to strike al-Qaeda targets militarily.

Not to mention the enormous propaganda victory that would result if the U.S. tucked tail and ran from a surging Taliban in Afghanistan. It would revitalize the AQ cause throughout the Muslim world.

Well, we shouldn't turn tail and run then. There are, shall we say, more graceful and measured ways to withdraw. Regardless, we will leave someday.

If we left Afghanistan, I am 100% sure we will see a vast letup in pressure against the TTP, a renewed lack of cooperation against AQ and the Taliban, less intel for drone strikes, and a vast increase in open and blatant Pakistani support for the Afghan Taliban.

100%, eh? Wow. I'm actually not so certain. The TTP has turned into a Frankenstein's monster with an agenda that is incompatible with establishing a modus vivendi. They will have to choice but to keep the pressure on the TTP.

But I do agree that they will more blatantly support the Taliban. This is likely inevitable, however. We will leave someday regardless. The Pakistanis know this. They will not let India develop such a foothold in its strategic redoubt.

And if you think that the result would force Pakistani generals to take responsibility or face a "reckoning" ... clearly you are unfamiliar with the Pakistani Army's modus operandi. It's much like the Republicans --- take charge, fuck the country up, abdicate to the politicians, then blame them for not immediately fixing the place up. Dodging responsibility for the enormous harm they've caused to the country is the Pakistani Army's SOP. See 1971.

Look, if their actions destabilize Pakistan, they will have to adjust those actions or go under. Self-preservation is a potent force - moreso than just about any in the political/military realm.

Pakistan is too critical to simply let go and wash our hands of. It's problems will not stay within its borders.

Couldn't agree more. That's why I would never suggest such a thing.

I think we need to back those groups in Pakistan that are against such people, not abandon them.

Couldn't agree more. That's why I would never suggest such a thing.

It would revitalize the AQ cause throughout the Muslim world.

Whereas spending another couple of years (or decades) dropping bombs, kicking in doors, and making orphans in a Muslim country can only generate enormous goodwill throughout the Muslim world.

Round and round we go.

Not to mention the enormous propaganda victory that would result if the U.S. tucked tail and ran from a surging Taliban in Afghanistan. It would revitalize the AQ cause throughout the Muslim world.

As Uncle Kvetch points out, AQ's cause is plainly undermined by the US bloodily and ham-fistedly occupying and meddling in Muslim-majority nation. Because, ya know, it's all about us don'cha know?

Did you see Rajiv Chandrasekaran's article? Kind of tracks with that divergence.

No but now I have, thanks for the link. Interesting but mostly disturbing, I get a sense we're definitely fncked there.

I think we can apply pressure in other ways. We have a certain amount of leverage.

But not an enormous amount, sadly. We need to maximize what we do have, not reduce it.

If remaining engaged in the region is vital, then we will do so regardless of a quarter century, 100,000 troop occupation. Which, by the way, will leave us exceedingly cash strapped considering all our other commitments.

Just wondering where this quarter-century occupation comes from, beyond an attempt to make things seem worse than they are. You know and I know that we will not require 100k troops in Afghanistan for twenty-five years.

I'm not sure. I mean, they're backing the Taliban now. They're providng them sanctuary in Quetta and possibly Karachi (where, rumor has it, they spirited Mullah Omar lest something happen to him). But we will leave someday regardless. Pakistan knows this.

There’s a major difference between leaving with Afghanistan in the grip of the Taliban or with a Taliban who is insignificant and defeated. No wants to push money and support to a loser.

You don't think they can hone bombmaking skills in Yemen? Heck, they could do that in Europe. Safe havens help, for sure, but they are just so easy to replicate. And I'm not for giving them a safe zone. I'm for continuing to strike al-Qaeda targets militarily.

Actually, I think they would find it hard to test large bombs in Europe. As for Yemen, that’s why we need to assist the Yemenis, rather than just throw up our hands. And I really don’t think safe havens are that easy to replicate in the face of a hostile government. The problem with Yemen and Pakistan is that significant parts of the government don’t believe that AQ represent genuine threats.

Well, we shouldn't turn tail and run then. There are, shall we say, more graceful and measured ways to withdraw. Regardless, we will leave someday.

Better to leave with a defeated Taliban reduced to insignificant attacks than a revitalized one in control of large swaths of the country, no?.

100%, eh? Wow. I'm actually not so certain. The TTP has turned into a Frankenstein's monster with an agenda that is incompatible with establishing a modus vivendi. They will have to choice but to keep the pressure on the TTP.

Or they could just pull their troops back and sign a meaningless ceasefire accord, as they did throughout the last decade. It would be much cheaper and probably even somewhat popular if it meant a dropoff in suicide bombs in Islamabad and Rawalpindi.

Look, if their actions destabilize Pakistan, they will have to adjust those actions or go under. Self-preservation is a potent force - moreso than just about any in the political/military realm.

They know that we cannot let them “go under” --- thusly they have every incentive to continue on their reckless path, especially since it is politically and materially enriching for them to do so.

If you want to support elements in Pakistan that are against the jihadist/military complex, than perhaps you would not want to hand that complex its greatest victory since the defeat of the Soviet Union.

Just wondering where this quarter-century occupation comes from, beyond an attempt to make things seem worse than they are. You know and I know that we will not require 100k troops in Afghanistan for twenty-five years.

We have been there for 8 years already. The CNAS report suggested a 10-15 year timeline, though there were caveats for extending it. Military officials have been talking the same timeline.

Add it up, that's a quarter century.

But not an enormous amount, sadly. We need to maximize what we do have, not reduce it.

Not if you kill the patient.

There’s a major difference between leaving with Afghanistan in the grip of the Taliban or with a Taliban who is insignificant and defeated. No wants to push money and support to a loser.

Sure, if wishes were ponies, but good luck with the whole Taliban who is insignificant and defeated thing.

Actually, I think they would find it hard to test large bombs in Europe. As for Yemen, that’s why we need to assist the Yemenis, rather than just throw up our hands

Good thing no one's suggesting throwing up our hands then.

Actually, I think they would find it hard to test large bombs in Europe.

And yet, that didn't matter much in Madrid or London.

Better to leave with a defeated Taliban reduced to insignificant attacks than a revitalized one in control of large swaths of the country, no?

Depends on the costs, and the attainability of the goal. In a vacuum, you are correct. When you factor in costs, benefits and probabiliy of success, less so.

or with a Taliban who is insignificant and defeated

If you can lay out a strategy for either defeating the Taliban or making them insignificant through military action, I'm sure we'd all love to hear it.

The Taliban have a meaningful presence in Afghanistan because, to some non-trivial portion of the population, they're a reasonable alternative to the central government.

That's the lever they used to establish themselves after the Soviets left. That's what they bring to the table now.

We will never, ever, ever eliminate them as a presence in Afghanistan through a military effort without bring more resources to bear than we are ever, ever, ever likely to provide.

100K troops for five, ten, or fifty years will not do it. The country is too big and too far away, the terrain is too difficult, it's landlocked and mountainous and it's too difficult to maintain a supply chain. The Taliban have too many natural allies and supporters, they can come and go across international borders too easily.

Iraq looks like a layup in comparison, and we all know how well that went and continues to go.

Any plan that relies on eliminating the Taliban through military defeat is folly. Idiotic, sand-pounding folly.

Stack up a couple trillion dollars worth of 100 dollar bills and set them on fire, pick a couple thousand troops at random and shoot them dead, and then bring everybody home, and you'll achieve the same result you would through a military option, only you'll get it done faster and with fewer dead Afghans.

There ain't gonna be a "victory" there in the military sense. And the Taliban are going to be some part of whatever political scenario emerges when the dust settles, whenever it settles.

We have been there for 8 years already. The CNAS report suggested a 10-15 year timeline, though there were caveats for extending it. Military officials have been talking the same timeline.

Add it up, that's a quarter century.

Over the past 8 years, at what point did we have 100k+ troops there?

Not if you kill the patient.

How is our war in Afghanistan going to kill Pakistan, exactly?

Sure, if wishes were ponies, but good luck with the whole Taliban who is insignificant and defeated thing.

I remember people saying the exact same thing about the Iraqi Sunni insurgency, especially in Anbar province. Not to draw a direct comparison, but in neither case are we facing some sort of unstoppable, deeply entrenched force.

And yet, that didn't matter much in Madrid or London.

What did matter in both Madrid and London was that the cell leaders/bombmakers were trained in al-Qaeda camps in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Over the past 8 years, at what point did we have 100k+ troops there?

True enough. A bit of a shortcut on my part.

How is our war in Afghanistan going to kill Pakistan, exactly?

The potential destabilization has been the subject of a back and forth we've been having for months now. I'm not going to rehash now.

What did matter in both Madrid and London was that the cell leaders/bombmakers were trained in al-Qaeda camps in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Actually, this is disputed with respect to Madrid.

I remember people saying the exact same thing about the Iraqi Sunni insurgency, especially in Anbar province

Yes, and people said the same thing about Vietnam.

I remember people saying the exact same thing about the Iraqi Sunni insurgency, especially in Anbar province

It's interesting you bring this up, since you're advocating militarily decimating the Taliban with the aim of denying them a role in the governing of Afghanistan. Hmm...

I remember people saying the exact same thing about the Iraqi Sunni insurgency

And were the Sunni insurgents in Anbar defeated by force of arms?

And are they now insignificant as a political entity in Iraq?

I'm not sure what point you're trying to make with your analogy.

It's true neither was "unstoppable", but that's basically because nobody is. It's just a question of the level of force you're able to bring to bear given the real practical, political, and moral constraints.

We could have eliminated Bin Laden and the entire senior leadership of Al Qaeda with a single nuke at Tora Bora. But, for obvious reasons, we didn't do that.

As far as "entrenched", I'm not sure how much more entrenched you can get than "we've lived here since before your nation even existed".

So I don't see your point.

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