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Posts Tagged ‘Afghanistan

Talk To the Taliban – Obama’s Divide and Rule Strategy

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time to talk to the taliban. (eye patches are optional)

time to talk to the taliban. (eye patches are optional)

Talking to moderate elements of the Taliban in order to undermine its unity is a great second prong of attack – to be combined with a more money-driven attack on Taliban control of Afghan opium. Obama was wise to caution that the complexities of Afghan tribal culture made the mapping of such talks much harder than even in Iraq. There are a number of interesting points embedded in the concept and Obama’s response.

Firstly, the Taliban rose to prominence precisely because they were able to bridge tribal divisions. Clearly they are suscepible to a divide and rule strategy, but we have to get a far better of idea of how to create it. Asking Americans on the ground to accurately understand and act on the landscape of highly complex tribal rivalries might be asking a little too much. And then there’s the question of the time it will take to build this system, and whether picking off local Taliban leaders piecemeal approach is the best way (after all, from then on they will have to be protected).  The best means may be to short-circuit that with standard procedure bribery. After all, the Sons of Iraq turned on the more extreme (Al Qaeda) elements of the Sunni insurgency because they were paid to do so. Read the rest of this entry »

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Written by coolrebel

March 7, 2009 at 3:29 pm

Whither Gitmo – What Are the Risks of Closing Guantanamo?

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gitmo - where america creates the terrorist role models of the future

Among the many black marks on the Bush Administration will be the following; they sure were talented at getting us into jams we couldn’t get out of. Iraq, and Afghanistan are top of the list, but just below them is Gitmo. Opened at a time when Bush and the neo-cons really did think that the War on Terror was going to be a real live war with stacks of POWs, the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay was to put it mildly a total and utter disaster. Bush is clearing Cedar brush back in Crawford, but like a bad dream, Gitmo is still there, yet another piece of heavy luggage that the new President’s got to haul around with him.

Obama is rightly dedicated to totally overhauling America’s image abroad, especially in the Muslim world. And a big blot on relations with Arab countries is Guantanamo. So it would seem to be a no brainer to shut the damn place as quickly as possible. The President wants the doors closed on that particular PR nightmare within a year. Nice idea. Very nice idea.

There’s only one slight problem. It’s not going to work. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by coolrebel

February 26, 2009 at 10:08 pm

The Rise of Neo-Liberalism

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it all starts right here

it all starts right here

The Neo-Cons are dead. Long live the Neo-Libs.

It’s not just conservatives who believe that the continued hegemony of the United States is critical to the wellbeing of human-kind.  But the Neo-Lib prescription veers from the Neo-Cons very substantially after that. We neo-libs do not feel that military power is the key to our continued dominance. Instead Neo-Liberalism calls for a Wilsonesque revival of America’s power through goodwill and largesse, backed by  a Rooseveltian (and I mean Teddy) “big stick”. For too long, under the Neo-Cons, we talked loudly and carried a stick that frankly got smaller and smaller the deeper we fell into the morass of Iraq and Afghanistan.

It may seem like an odd time to be talking about American hegemony.  Our nation is in an economic crisis unlike any it has experienced in decades. The threat to our continued power is probably at its highest point since the Second World War, which would seem a perfect time to reassert it. Fortunately, our adversaries around the globe aren’t in any better shape than we are, and in many respects have further to fall. Even more fortuitous is the presence of a new President who could be the beacon for Neo-Liberalism. While Obama may have shown some early weakness on the domestic policy front, particularly with his reluctance to detach himself from tried-and-failed centrism, but on the foreign stage, he has an opportunity to rebuild and reinvigorate US power.

So let us begin to forge a plan for the rebuilding of American power. Here’s how. Read the rest of this entry »

Nobody Fights in Afghanistan and Wins.

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do we look like we're joking?

do we look like we're joking?

From a superficial perspective, the idea of diverting US forces to Afghanistan as we draw down troops in Iraq seems like a good idea. But Afghanistan is a deeply inhospitable, corrupt, backward, and highly unstable failed state with an almost feudal social structure. It’s been resisting modernity and foreign control for millenia.

Before we do anything we need to make a strategic decision about our goals. It’s clear that the Taliban must go, but forget democracy, stability is just fine. It’s equally clear that increasing US ground forces by a few combat brigades will not do the job. The war would slog on for many years at great cost in lives and treasure. The Kush would be a graveyard for our grunts. There has to be another way. And there is.

There are two connected ways to beat the Taliban. We need both to win. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by coolrebel

January 27, 2009 at 2:14 pm

Pearl Harbor Day. A Nation At War Then and Now.

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US Forces Landing On Omaha Beach, D-Day, June 6 1944.

Today is the 67th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, which triggered America’s entrance into the Second World War. Less than four years later, America had been instrumental in defeating Nazi Germany and had almost singlehandedly defeated Imperial Japan.

US heavy industry was turned almost overnight into a highly coordinated Arms manufacturer, supplying the Allies with everything they needed to fight. At home, women went to work in factories, offices, and all over the home front, there was rationing of everything from tires to typewriters, from bicycles to beef, from fuel oil to coffee. There were blackouts all over America. And most importantly, there was the draft. Young men and women from all over America were drafted to fight and die on foreign shores. Over 400,000 lost their lives.

That is the definition of “A Nation at War”

The term is still used a great deal today to describe the two wars we are fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2003 and 2001 respectively. We’re frequently told we are a ‘nation at war’.

This nation’s armed forces are indeed involved in two serious conflicts, but the nation as a whole is not, and hasn’t been since Iraq and Afghanistan began. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by coolrebel

December 7, 2008 at 8:41 pm

Lost Opportunities at State

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Sounds like her ladyship, Hilary Clinton is going to get the nod at the State Department. There are two far better choices out there, one of whom didn’t get a look-in, the other who was sold short. Read the rest of this entry »

Redefining The War On Terror

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President Bush created the amorphous concept of the War On Terror partly as a semantic device for domestic consumption (them v us is a great seller in the heartland) and partly as a doctrinal approach to foreign affairs. But while neoconservatism is clearly discredited, there is one element of the broad sweep approach to Middle Eastern affairs that might be worth preserving – at least in military terms. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by coolrebel

November 7, 2008 at 3:38 pm