Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Comments on Belmont Club
"Winning in Afghanistan"

michael hoskins, If you have followed my colloquy with Habu on the last thread the use of targeted and explicitly disproportionate force by B-52s makes sense to me. The operation should be called either "Linebacker III" or "Wrath of God." The goal is to create a space for the psychological changes to happen in the Pashtun so that we can shift to pacification and COIN operations.

If we can not do that then the only alternatives would be to either disperse and relocate them or to destroy them sufficiently to break them and remove their ability to threaten us or withdraw and in effect surrender. The problem with Pashtunistan is that since it already is the Back of Beyond there is no way to remove them, as Stalin did with problematic nations (Crimean Tatars, Balts or Jews) and replace them with more compliant clients who would want to live there. Given that limitation then our only options are to either succeed in subjugating Pashtunistan or we shall have to destroy it, or give up.

The option of withdrawing is advocated by voices on the right and the left. Upon consideration I do not find it feasible. There is simply no way that we can isolate the region and hope that it will not become again a base for strategic warfare against us. In their terms we live in Dar al-Harb and the war can not end.

That leaves us with only the two choices of acknowledging that we in a war, whether sought or unsought, with Pashtunistan and prosecuting it until we can secure the population and effectively convert them to a value system compatible with international norms or destroy them.

During "Bush's War" the Neocons were ridiculed for making simplistic analogies between Iraq and Germany or Japan. Having pronounced the conclusion in their accusation the war's opponents and the media felt absolved from any need to actually examine the issue. In fact of course the position of the war's advocates, such as Podhoretz, was essentially correct. In WW-II we first broke the nations we were at war with so thoroughly that we were able to occupy and transform them. We started by taking charge of the education systems. No argument of "respect for local culture" was allowed to stand in the way of American Social Workers and Educators from acting with missionary zeal to ensure that future generations of Germans and Japanese would be raised to be tolerant. The process was more attenuated in Japan, largely because of the interjection of the Korean War, but the transformation desired may have proven more effective there then in Germany.

Permit me to disagree. Atheism is not the answer. It is tempting I know to conflate the Islamists and the religious bigots of other faiths but there are differences.

First the objections to Christian and Jewish fundamentalists are often based on social snobbery. Granted, I am as prone as anyone to prefer attractive witty urban sophisticates to fat ignorant doctrinaire people who live in trailers. Nevertheless they are not, despite a few forays into educational policy that I think are basically defensive in nature, a threat to the beliefs and values of anyone outside of their communities. Even the proselytizing groups are not prone to using coercion to spread or maintain their doctrines. It is probably over 500 years since a mainline Christian group executed anyone for Apostasy and considerably longer for the Jews.

Second the essential nature of Islam as a faith is different than that of other religions. To me the extreme austerity and abstraction of Islam, combined with the arbitrary justifications for otherwise immoral conduct brought about by what to an observer is the effective apotheosis of the personality of Mohammed, create a contradiction that is unique and makes for a much more dangerous set of conditions than those produced in other faith groups. Only Islam is both aggressively outer directed in its willingness to expand by the use of violence as a core belief and so dominated by the need to seek out and, again as matter not just of practice but of organizing principle, destroy all evidence of nonconformity within the community. In fact the nature of Islam with its arbitrary and impersonal god is more like a form of formalized Atheism, a militant Ethical Culture coupled with a set of most unethical moral precepts as exemplified by the example of Mohammed, then it is, despite its pretensions, like any other major religion.

Annoy Mouse,
What would Holbrooke do?
1. Arrange his own payoff.
2. Arrange jobs for his friends.
3. Choose an official victim to compensate. Here that means some,
     not officially Taliban, Pashtun tribe.
4. Choose a defenseless victim to screw. Here that means somebody
     who trusted the Americans.

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