Saturday, July 4, 2009

What's wrong with the picture..?

From today's Washington Post:
"The Marines have also been vexed by a lack of Afghan security forces and a near-total absence of additional U.S. civilian reconstruction personnel. Nicholson had hoped that his brigade, which has about 11,000 Marines and sailors, would be able to conduct operations with a similar number of Afghan soldiers. But thus far, the Marines have been allotted only about 500 Afghan soldiers, which he deems "a critical vulnerability."

State has added only two officers in Helmand since the Marines arrived. State has promised to have a dozen more diplomats and reconstruction experts working with the Marines, but only by the end of the summer."
Emphasis mine.

WTF? The Karzai Kids Klub can't find more than a short battalion to fight their own damn war?Fuck 'em. If this is it, after seven years, I don't care what else is involved, they're toast. It's time to piss on the fire and call in the dogs. If the ANA is this ate up now they'll never be any less useless than a tampon in a typhoon.


  1. Yes, but there is a simple reason .. they hate us and want us to leave. The only reason anyone there would take up a position would be for money, access to weapons and intellegence against you.

    "Patrol heading out now going for ..." you get the picture.

    This is not Iraq, divided and probably naive. Where it was possible to create some local forces (though I suspect most were just there for the money, access to weapons and intellegence).

    This is a country that has been at war on and off for decades now, plus with a long memory of the British. Most of the people that fought the USSR are still alive, with all that knowledge and experience and who are capable of fighting again and leading the younger generation.

    Plus they are just very, very tough. Smart, courageous, determined and skilled. They got very close to shutting down supply lines totally from Pakistan.

    The response, basically to ethnically clear the whole area is going to have just a few unitended consequences. We have just mutiplied the resistances's recruitment by several hundred percent. Short term tactics vs poor strategy again. The Wehrmacht were brilliant at that as well.

    It is not called the 'graveyard of empires' for nothing.

    I've said this a few times at FM's site: BL is laughing at us as we do virtually everything he wants (and if only we would attack Iran for him then his ecstasy would be complete).

    He is so confident that AQ posts their strategy publically. Knowing full well that despite that we will still do everything to his playbook.

    Their stated aim is bankrupt the US. By drawing it into more and more conflicts in more and more areas.

    Nearly there now.

    As for Karzai .. "the mayor of Kabul"? Well parts of it .. sometimes.

  2. Wish everyone a happy 4th. Regular day here, the local American club is having our barbecue tomorrow, but I probably won't make it due to a project I'm working on and have to finish.

    As to Afghanistan, agree with your and Oldskeptic's comments. Would only add that the Soviets went in with the civilian advisers/public works projects back in 1979 and when they got tired of finding their engineers burned alive, switched quickly to the exclusively heavy-handed military approach. By 1985, they had realized that the only real solution was massive deportation or genocide, since "the Afghanis can not be expected to submit to us by force". After 1985 they remained for another four years although they knew that the war was lost. We seem to be doing it the other way around - first hard and then the softer approach - at least in our public pronouncements. The Soviets of course committed more resources and had more Afghans on their side than we seem to have, which you would think would be considered. A lot of the Northern Alliance are former Soviet proxies, so not much of a chance of reconciliation with the Pathans there . . .

    From a strategic theory perspective, the US goal seems to be to mark time and wait for the situation to improve, while selling a seemingly "new approach" to the suckers, I mean folks, back home, which looks to me about the same as what the Soviets did from 1985-89. Another example of Obama kicking the can down the road, which along with institutionalizing Bush's radical domestic legacy, seems to be the purpose of his regime.

  3. Does anybody have any real information on what happened to the Pakistan supply routes into Afghanistan?

    All I could find were occasional comments that a supply convoy had been attacked and then the US military announced that they were abandoning the Pakistan routes. Then on Frontline I saw a Taliban commander driving around in Pakistan in a captured undamaged armored HumV. WTF? Even if the Taliban had only one of these, how did they get it and why haven't one of our drones turned it into scrap metal?

    I get the distinct impression that the US military isn't giving us anything resembling the complete story here...

    My only hope is that Obama (or whomever wins the 2012 election) will seize some tiny victory, no matter how small, declare victory, and get us out of the country as fast as possible.

    P.S. - Glad to see you posting here OldSkeptic

  4. Some reports (and the best are from Asia Times, especially Syed Saleem Shahzad , the best on the ground reporter on all this) put it as high as 30%-40% not getting through.

    Though naturally that also includes those waiting for convoy protection, etc.

    Plus the costs have risen greatly.

    Given modern western war making requires huge amounts of fuel and ammo, plus the usual equipment, spares, food, etc. This is a tremendous reduction. Which explains the US's desperate desire to get alternative supply lines. Expains Lind's great point about the US losing an army in Iraq if the the southern Shiite's, with Iranian help, cut off their supply lines. Couple of days and no fuel and ammo.

    There are, to date unconfirmend, reports that Russia will allow military supplies (it already allows non military ones). Though this a long and torturous route. Part of the pre-negotiations with the US-Russian summit I suspect.

    The best route .. pause for laughter here .. is from Iran. Who, with Chinese help, have built a brand new highway to the border.

    I sometimes cackle at the prospect of the UK and the US govelling to Iran in the future, the first for gas the other for transport routes (and possibly gas as well).

    What goes around .. well goes around.

    But Russia and China and Iran will be quite happy to help the US/EU stay in Afghanistan as long as possible ... it just weakens the US more militarily and economically. The more Pakistan is fragmented and damaged the better for Chinese interests as they can come in as the 'good guys' (though to fair to them they often are the good guys these days concentrating on economics).

    Soldiers, tanks, planes, choppers, etc wearing out at an amazing rate. At this rate another few years and the US military wont be able take on Bolivia.

    There is an old military chestnut "when your enemy screws up don't try to stop them, help them as much as you can".

    Nice to be here, some great posts and arguments (nice ones of course).

  5. Of course they're not supplying "officers"! [really, officers? I think tribal heads, or sons of tribals heads would be more appropriate]
    Why invest your own blood in what will be a casus belli for your enemies later when the Americans pack it up and leave?
    Better to invest a few throw aways into the fray, if the Americans win the day, hey, the investment of blood is your claim to fame and fortune. If the Americans book it out...Bah, you tell your other tribal contenders, you was strong-armed by the foreigner, and like a good resistance fighter, you only "feigned" cooperation.
    This is "our" fight, now, Gents, the Afghani's...pfft, they're waiting for us to go Soviet, and run because if they had a stake in this fight...oh yeah, they'd be all over it like stink!?
    Anyway, I say bug, let the Afghani's kill each other, wait for OBL and his circus of ass clowns to show back up, and then drop a HITs on their asses.
    We sterilize the world of the source of our pain, and we get to call this whole pwot off and have beers to celebrate the end of this whole affair [This "affair" being one of Bush's lingering legacies that I would like to see come to a screaming halt].

  6. To all,
    We focus on tactical hows and ignore the strategic why.WHY ARE WE THERE.?!
    Killing OBL is a meaningless construct as it will solve nothing-nobody is indispensable to any organization.

    We must disengage now and not in 2012. I predict Petraeus to be the Republican contender in the next Presidential race and this bodes poorly for the US pulling in it's horns. Let's be real here-if Obama didn't end the wars then nobody will until we reach a point of disintegration ala Soviet Union.

  7. I don't think they really are "ignoring the strategic".

    We remain in Afghanistan and Iraq because that allows the US to continue to be a player in a very geo-strategically important part of the world. It doesn't really matter to the "powers that be" that we have already lost both wars strategically, since they don't think in such terms in any case and don't really care about the military instrument that is being abused in both these wars. As long as we remain active at the tactical level we have the potential of radically shifting the entire strategic picture, not that such a shift would improve our situation - quite the contrary - but our political elite are playing a very high stakes game and are loath to walk away from it.

    National interest has nothing to do with it . . . which says much about the current situation in the USA. It all comes down to very basic political questions - as in Republic or EMPIRE (as some of us have been saying for some time) - but who is even willing to address them?

    It has nothing to do with "we the people" who were counted out of this equation some time ago, but rather with powerful national (and associated international) interests who see this dysfunctional policy to be their best bet . . .

  8. What exactly does it mean to be a "player in a very geo-strategically important part of the world"?

    Geo-strategic to us? How exactly? Energy? Are we not already paying the prices demanded? And does no the size of our demand generally set those prices (absent the insane financial speculators)? In the event of supply disruptions (from Afghanistan?) would we not also pay those prices?

    Yep. This seems to be entirely about EMPIRE and PREIMENANCE. Being the King of the Hill. Only two global players today (China & Russia) hold the power to attack the heartland directly in any semblance of annihilative fashion. All others are pikers by comparison.

    What we see today is the rational, interest-based choices of China and Russa to let us stew in our own pot, always complaining of the rising heat but never jumping from it. And they adding kindling while agreeing that the temp is rising.

    Will the frogs figure it out? Or will they boil? I'm yet undecided if the present Admin is even trying to understand this or are all in on the EMPIRE route. It seems clear, however, that The People disagree with the current path. But not enough (yet) for a myriad of good reasons to actually bend their government to their will. Just like a coke can being shaken, shaken and shaken.


  9. SP-

    I think it comes down to simply they play while we pay.

    "Interest"? As in national interest? No way, it's all about "interests" as to those tied with the goal of Empire.

    On the other thread now my fellow blog buddies are talking about Robert MacNamara and Vietnam. I was a kid during Vietnam, so I don't have a dog in that fight, but I would say that as misguided as the whole policy was it was seen by the US political leadership as in America's interest to fight in South-east Asia . . . . falling dominos and all that. Without the backdrop of the Cold War neither Korea nor Vietnam, not to mention a series of lesser involvements, would have happened.

    The difference today is that neither Iraq nor Afghanistan were ever in our national interest to invade in the first place, let alone setup client states and open-ended occupations.

    Both wars are however in the interests of powerful political investors for whom the trappings of Empire pay well, both actually and potentially. Geo-strategically we do retain the semblance of a power to be reconded with in the ME/Central Asia by remaining. If we were to withdrawal we would have to face two lost wars, massive squandered moral and material resources, an economy in a shambles, and being essentially ignored since we can't invest all that much in those places since we're broke.

    So the regime kicks the can down the road, keeps the printing presses running and makes sure the ones that count get the bail outs they want. The alternative - dealing with the truth of our situation - brings up questions noone in or near power wishes to deal with.

  10. What is the strategic aim?

    A bunch of confused nonsense. Oil and gas pipelines, fear of a Eurasian network of pipes, this or that country 'falling into the sphere of influence of Russia or China'. As if they wont have some influence with their direct neighbours.

    All total piffle.

    The best way to deal with this is to be rich.

    They'll sell to anyone who has the money. But wasting huge gobs of cash on these adventures (and other nonsense) merely means less money available to buy and influence. Plus of course someone has to make all this equipment ... big, massive market there .. oh sorry the US has got out of manufacturing, except for manufacturing ponzi financial rubbish.

    I've said this before, the US is, has always been and always will be rubbish at the military thing (its best sucesses were under foreign leadership).

    This is actually a compliment, who cares how good you are at blowing the c**p out of people and things. It's better to be rich.

    The US's real strength's were being a political and societal example, plus a consumer, heavy and high tech manufacturing centre along with being the best hustlers and dealers in the world.

    The US 'took over' the UK's Empire by ... encouraging de-colonisation and self determination along with making and selling things and investing in the future.

    Nowadays the parallels with the end of the UK's empire are so blindingly obvious it is not funny. Bullets vs (now non-existant) money. At the end in the UK (just prior to WW2), there were all sorts of geo-strategic 'plans', meanwhile the county was broke and rickets was endemic in the population.

    Welcome to irrelevance neo-cons. If people put a fraction of the effort currently poured into these 'strategic' games, into rebuilding new manufacturing then a lot of the worldwide economic issues would go away.

  11. "Piffle"?

    Well, yes, but that doesn't make it unimportant. If the strategic purpose is actually unwinable, even with the proper (rather than improper) use of the military instrument, that said policy is by definition irrational and the plans to carry it through dysfunctional, but that does not mean of course that they won't follow exactly that policy down the rabbit hole . . .

    The powers that be, so identified due to the policies they implement and continue, think that the US is simply "too big to fail". Where have we heard that before? Gives all those who have been arguing the primacy of economics in war a bit of ammunition, but it is political power which really counts.

    I think we essentially are arguing the same thing. Which is why we are both so dissatisfied with what US policy has become. In a word, "betrayal".

  12. I just love the word 'piffle', it just so perfectly derides certain mindsets.

    However it is probably is too mild for the neo-con mindset, 'insane' would be more appropriate.

    Remember what they argued:

    The US was to achieve primacy, dominance, over any competitor and any would-be competitor in all areas. It would not allow any challengers ever to arise.

    Normally people with grandeous ideas like the get locked up in the same ward as someone who thinks they are Jesus and treated with strong drugs for a while.

    Result: 3 direct wars. 2 indirect wars. A couple of near wars. An economy at the brink and a military at the brink. Millions displaced and/or killed.

    Strategic brinkmanship taken to extremes (I mean, handing the power of life and death of the World to a nutjob in Georgia if, as the US wanted, they had joined NATO?). We're just lucky Russia is more cautious than the old USSR or our atoms would all be bouncing around the stratosphere now (boy it was close in 1983).

    Clinically certifiable. The trouble is the 'fellow travellers' that jumped on the bandwagon .... and are still there .. and they are obviously not taking their drugs.

  13. I like "piffle" too, and "blather", as in "NeoCon blather".

    What comes across to me is the sophomoric amateurism of the whole movement, essentially a group of guys who spent a lot of time sitting around in a closed group environment contemplating how clever they were.

    Strategy reduced to wish lists supported by large explosions. Since they assume America cannot be defeated militarily - "we can only defeat ourselves" - strong emphasis on domestic information ops, essentially information has become militarized. The only center of gravity is US public opinion . . . which is why we are constantly told to "read the good news" and ignore the news coming from those "who hate America".

    A plan to rule the world formulated by a bunch of pencil-necked fascistic wannabes structured to appeal to a nation of atomized 250 lb guppies.