There Is No Plan

Nobody Reads This Blog

Posts Tagged ‘Pakistan

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

with 2 comments

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 »

Advertisements

Written by coolrebel

March 7, 2009 at 3:29 pm

Whither Gitmo – What Are the Risks of Closing Guantanamo?

leave a comment »

060509_juris_gitmoprisonere

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

with 3 comments

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.

leave a comment »

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

Gordon Brown Is Back!

leave a comment »

gordonbrown_narrowweb__300x4250

scotland the brave

It was British Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson who coined the term “A week is a long time in politics”, and while Gordon Brown’s astonishing turnaround as British Prime Minister has taken a little longer than that, it has been truly remarkable.

When the British public turn on their leaders, they do it with a viciousness that’s positively medieval. A year ago, Gordon Brown was political poison. In the great tradition of British politics, his Labour Party was openly plotting his demise in the tea rooms and bars of Westminster. His demise was expected in a matter of weeks, and his stoic Scottish demanour combined with an almost uncanny lack of political savvy conspired to hasten it.

But then something happened. Gordon found his mojo. Starting with an unexpectedly stirring keynote speech at the Labour Party Conference in September, Brown began to take on his critics in the best way a leader can, by being exactly that – a leader. The speech was a dignified mea culpa of his mistakes and failings, combined with a cogent vision for the future, and it stopped the bleeding.

The speech was followed by another masterstroke. Amid the flailing response by Hank Paulson, the Bush Administration and Congress to the galloping credit crisis and precipitous market collapse, it was Gordon Brown’s plan to buy stakes in the UK banks that, overnight, calmed the waters. First, the Euro-zone and then, unwillingly, the US, followed the Brown plan, and the immediate panic dissipated, virtually overnight. Brown’s status as British political whipping boy was replaced by a standard grudging acceptance by the grudging Brits that he did, well, okay. Read the rest of this entry »

The Mumbai Massacre – An Opportunity For Clarity

leave a comment »

800px-taj_mahal_palace_hotel_at_night

peace will once again come to the taj

“Rogue Elements” is a big word du jour right now. The idea that within an organization there’s often a fifth column conjures up all sorts of conspiracy theories about CIA spooks with their own twisted agendas. Usually, this stuff is confined to fiction or the far reachs of the blogosphere. But what happens when the lunatics truly have taken over the asylum?

The strong suspicion that Lashkar-e-Taiba, a group of jihadists once nurtured by the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence Agency, ISI, is behind the horrific massacre in Mumbai a few days ago has turned the simmering distrust between India and Pakistan into a potential supernova. Read the rest of this entry »

Redefining The War On Terror

leave a comment »

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