Update II: Taleban Storm Nato Outpost

Foreign Policy,Terrorism,The Military,War


One of the most ruthless generals of the French Wars of Religion was Blaise de Monluc. Unlike our military’s modern-day cheerleaders, he had no illusions about the saintliness of his warriors and their commanders. “Acknowledging the atrocities of soldiers, he declared that princes carried a heavier load of sin, for ‘there is no evil in war of which they are not the cause.'” (TLS, September 25, 2009)

Yet dare to even entertain the idea that the American military is not always a force for good, and that the princely Stanley McChrystal, commander of the 100,000-strong US and Nato force in Afghanistan, is not omniscient and should never be made omnipotent with respect to the Afghanistan war—and you are unpatriotic.

Left and Right: this is the prevailing wisdom.

By now you’ve heard that, by Times’ telling, “300 insurgents swarmed out of a village and mosque and attacked a pair of isolated American outposts in a remote mountainous area of eastern Afghanistan with machineguns, rockets and grenades.

They first stormed the Afghan police post at the foot of the hill in the province of Nuristan, a Taleban and al-Qaeda stronghold on the lawless Pakistan border. They then swept up to the Nato post. The battle lasted all day. American and Afghan soldiers finally repelled them, with the help of US helicopters and warplanes — but at heavy cost.”

What does the fact that “Eight American soldiers and two Afghan policemen were killed,” and that the Taleban “captured 35 policemen whose fate would be decided by the movement’s provincial council” tell you?

Americans are fighting to the death for a futile fantasy; while the Pashtun police men wink and nod at their Taleban brethren, not quite able to decide whether the latter are friends or foes.

To wit: One battalion “lost two soldiers, with three wounded, late on Friday when an Afghan policeman opened fire on his American colleagues during a joint operation to clear the Taleban from villages around the Nerkh valley.

US and Afghan investigators are trying to determine whether the policeman was a covert member of the Taleban or made a mistake. Either way, the attack fuelled the distrust that many Nato soldiers feel towards the Afghan security forces they are training as part of the coalition’s eventual exit strategy.

‘You don’t trust anybody, especially after an incident like this,’ said Specialist Raquime Mercer, 20, whose close friend died in the attack.”

Save your breath; Most Afghans have more affinity for the Taliban than for the democracy wielding Wilsonians.

Update I (Oct. 5): The Neocons-cum-Republicans, who have no principles other than to line up behind their man and against Obama, are cheering Gen McChrystal’s London sojourn to lobby for more troops. What’s next on the army commander’s media blitz? An appearance alongside McKenzie Philips on Larry King? Is there any aspect of American life that is not conducted in public or on camera?

It’s got to be obvious that the general knows nothing about the chain of command. He lacks discipline or a code of conduct. McChrystal’s a lobbyist in fatigues, guarding his fiefdom.

More importantly, Gen. David Petraeus conducted himself similarly. Although he didn’t lobby abroad for his cause, he assumed a decidedly political role. However, at the time, Republicans and their boy, Bush, were on board with Petraeus’ push for more war.

Update II: Diana West excerpts extensively from “From New Deal to New Frontier in Afghanistan: Modernization in a Buffer State.” This is worth a read, as are most of Diana’s posts.

With respect to the Helmand-Valley project in Afghanistan, Diana has mined Prof. Cullather for the Money quote:

Nation-building did not fail in Afghanistan for want of money, time, or imagination. In the Helmand Valley, the engines and dreams of modernization had run their full course, spooling out across the desert until they hit limits of physics, culture, and history.

More good material via Myron, written by Jim Sauer, “a retired Marine Corps Sergeant Major and combat veteran with over thirty years of service. Since retiring he has worked in support of U.S. Government efforts in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Israel”:

The hard fact is that the “hearts and minds” of the Afghan “people” are not for sale! The descendants of “The Great Khan” and their tribal cousins have no interest in being Westernized in any way. And, the human sewers that serve as their political leadership can only be rented. Americans are interlopers in a land where interlopers generally have their heads lopped off.

13 thoughts on “Update II: Taleban Storm Nato Outpost

  1. M. B. Moon

    Those wily Afghanis. I’d bet they are in no hurry to win. After all, when are they likely to have another empire to humiliate?

  2. Van Wijk

    Most Afghans have more affinity for the Taliban than for the democracy wielding Wilsonians.

    They’re all Moslems. An outsider could be supremely benevolent but he’s still a kafir to be despised. Pull all troops out of all Moslem countries and limit Moslem immigration into our country and the problem almost solves itself.

    When Americans think of a General, what usually springs to mind is George Patton, Hannibal, or Alexander. But the modern “General” is really little more than a politician in fatigues. McChrystal is certainly of this ilk. His current “see no Islam” policy will have the (American) bodies piling up in no time.

  3. Myron Pauli

    OK – “we” are going to turn Afghanistan into Switzerland. Afghanistan is currently being run by sexist, Islamic-fundamentalist, corrupt, drug-dealing warlords. Suppose for the next 50 months, we kill 5000 Afghans each month and only lose 100 Americans (50:1 is a great kill ratio!) and we ignore the maimed and the PTSD’s. After 4 years, we will have killed 250,000 Afghans (maybe 200,000 bad ones and 50,000 good ones at 80% accuracy) and lose ONLY 5,000 Americans! Then Afghanistan will be run by sexist, Islamic-fundamentalist, corrupt, drug-dealing warlords! Wow!

    Good reading:




    and the best is from the Marine Corps blogger:


    It seems that letthemfight.blogspot.com/ is by Sergeant level (fighting) Marines who know all about the complete NONSENSE that is “training the friendly Afghans/Iraqis…” – as Van Wijk would say, these are warfighters and not politicians.

    I’m old enough to remember Vietnam – Nixon could have gotten out in 1969 and the commies would have killed 200,000 in the South but instead we stayed in – resulting in 3 million ADDITIONAL deaths (Vietnam AND Cambodia).

    Afgahnistan is now Obama’s baby – delivered by
    of Lyndon Baines Bush.

  4. robert

    “When Americans think of a General, what usually springs to mind is George Patton, Hannibal, or Alexander. But the modern “General” is really little more than a politician in fatigues.”

    Kagan wrote a book about this very fact entitled,’The Mask of Command’. He likened the ideal modern leader to a cool, calculating, computer, geek. (somebody very similar in demeanor and thinking to a neo-con mouthpiece) The Afghanis have other more ancient and demanding notions of leadership and so far thay have been more effective in leading resistance in their countries than the neo-cons have been in leading ours.

  5. EN

    It’s all about “Quom” (family, village, tribe, profession) in Afghanistan. There’s simply no way we fit into any Quom that matters. We’re complete outsiders in a country that only respects insiders. The Taliban is all about Pashtun tribalism. No matter what a Pashtun tells you in the end he’s going to fall in with his Quom. Get out and let the place rot.

  6. Steve Hogan

    I’m with Van Wijk: cease this absurd attempt to refashion the entire world in our image. It’s a fool’s errand, and we’ve (I’m using the royal “we” here) demonstrated many times over the last hundred years that we are bumbling idiots when we try it.

    Bring the troops home. Mind our own business. Get our own house in order. Lead by example. Not only would it make for a more peaceful existence, we might even avoid turning our country into a bankrupt banana republic.

  7. Robert Glisson

    Today: The president has no plans to leave Afghanistan. “http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20091005/ap_on_go_pr_wh/us_obama_afghanistan” so says Yahoo news. And the madness continues.

  8. Hugo Schmidt

    Van Wijk, the apposite phrase comes from John Derbyshire “Rubble doesn’t cause trouble”. Yaron Brook had a good discussion of this on PJTV a while back.

  9. M. B. Moon

    “Rubble doesn’t cause trouble” via Hugo

    “They (the Romans) make a desert, and they call it peace.” Publius Cornelius Tacitus

    Is the suggestion that we should become like the Romans?

  10. Myron Pauli

    Cullather’s report is so juicy:

    >>> ….Development, economists … assured the CIA in 1954, could create “an environment in which societies which directly or indirectly menace ours will not evolve.” … To replace the need for winter pastures, the United Nations brought in SWISS EXPERTS to teach nomads to use long handled scythes to cut forage for sheep from high plateaus…. it proved difficult to entice Ghilzai Pashtun to become ordinary farmers…. The burden of American loans for the project, and the absence of tangible returns was creating … a dangerous strain on the both the Afghan economy and the nation’s morale”… mosques and houses were crumbling into the growing bog. … A 1965 study revealed that crop yields per acre had actually dropped since the dams were built… For reasons of prestige alone the United States kept pouring money in, even though by 1965 it was clear the project was failing… farmers “met the bulldozers with rifles,”… Wheat yields were among the lowest in the world… farm incomes in the valley were below average for Afghanistan and declining….. The Taliban movement began here, and the valley provided one of its chief sources of revenue. The opium poppy grows well in dry climates and alkaline and saline soils…. The disastrous effects of dam-building were visible in 1949 and only became more obvious as the project grew…. <<<

  11. Van Wijk

    Mr. Moon,

    Tacitus was actually quoting a Caledonian chieftain called Calgacus in Agricola.


    And at least the Romans didn’t worship foreigners. Insofar as they put Rome first, we should strive to be more like them.

  12. Hugo Schmidt

    Is the suggestion that we should become like the Romans?

    I can think of considerably worse things..

    Or the US could get out of Afghanistan, Iraq and so on and hope, pray, rub rabbits feet – whatever’s your bag, really – that that display of weakness won’t get the bombs raining in by the gross.

    And some of those bombs will be nuclear.

  13. M. B. Moon

    But seriously Van,

    When one is driven to extreme measures to have his way, should one not question the wisdom of his way?

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