When I talk of sound-bite thinking, I'm not talking about the length of your comments. I'm talking about their simplicity and lack of nuance. You say for example "the key to winning this war on terrorism..." Terrorism is not an enemy, it is a tactic.
The world is too small for any more lawless places, Micky. These places give rise to pirates and drug lords when they don't give rise to terrorism outright. Putting my statement in quotes, then adding ellipses as if I hadn't put forward a long statement about how terrorism needs an un-country for a base... you won't mind if I insert my own ellipses.
Terrorism is not a tactic. It's a strategy. I never said victory was assured. Not all conflicts are about victory or defeat. I said it would take decades of attenuation before a genuine Afghanistan could arise. There are no quick fixes. It's a question of who stays and who leaves and we are staying.
If you can't even name the enemy after a decade of fighting, that is good sign of lack of clear thought. Here is another example when you say that given enough time and enough drones, victory is assured. This is very typical faith in a quick technical fix to a complicated social problem, ignoring that those targetting the drones have no idea who they are aiming at. The GPS is worthless unless you have someone on the ground who knows what he's talking about. There are some things you just can't finesse. The recently fired general in charge of NATO in Afghanistan said that for every non-combattant killed, ten new combattants are created. Your strategy is ultimately self defeating - a weapon that creates more enemies that it kills, an enemy who lives off the bribes NATO pays it to ensure that the GIs get their frozen pizzas. This is the sort of nuance absent from your sound-bite analysis. That's why it's worthless. Good enough for your CNN talking heads, but, I'm going to let you parrot it to me without some strong words on my part.
The name is al-Qaeda. Their pictures are in the post office, the ones not already stamped a red X. Ten didn't arise to replace the one. Al Qaeda has imploded, its remaining leadership would very much like a seat at the Conference Table and used to have one, when Pakistan was still amenable to conversation with them. At any rate, those ten are mostly gone and their replacements have not arisen. The Taliban may have huddled in Pakistan now that we've expelled them their Islamist Paradise in Afghanistan. Pakistan has been given a rude awakening: we no longer respect their borders.
Again, the Taliban wouldn't sit in those conference chairs and the ordinary Pakistani won't vote for an Islamist, these are proven facts. Egypt and KSA which gave rise to the 9/11 crew are now consumed with their own inner turmoil and revolutions, to the dismay of the effete Islamist rich boys who crewed those four aircraft. Even the Libyan Islamists have come home to fight for their own country. Who said ten would arise? If that general was fired, that is an excellent start: no such masses have arisen, indeed the fiery Libyan Islamists who went off to shoot at us in Iraq now praise us.
The Islamists have watched us carefully over the past decade and have a decidedly different opinion of us than when we were still the Great Satan. Nothing like shooting at each other to eventually form up mutual respect on both sides of the shooting. They've concluded we're not interested in establishing some Empire of the Heathens and we who like secular democracies are much-bemused by our government's role in the creation of two new Islamic Republics. This led to a great deal of head scratching and puzzled interlocution by all involved, for until a large pile of brass shell casings had built up, neither side saw each other as anything but caricatures. Our soldiers aren't political or overtly religious: this works both to our help and hindrance. Help, because we'll help rebuild a mosque for anyone. Hindrance, because we couldn't tell the friendlies from the fighters. As long as people aren't shooting at us, we don't shoot back. Once the Americans began to work out the latter, the Sunni fighters were amazed to see the Americans, especially the Marines, turn on a dime and conduct joint patrols with them. We die just like anyone else when we're shot or blown up but our medics will save the lives of men who had been shooting at them minutes before. That, Micky, made a difference. Our medics treated anyone.
Mao says guerrilla war is a matter of pitting ten against one in an ambush, even if your enemy's army is ten times larger. Mao said the guerrilla must behave himself around the local people, never steal, never abuse his guest status, even make his bed after sleeping. We are winning that battle simply because we're not robbing the local people as the Taliban do. Your noble Taliban are robbers and thieves and drug lords. Nobody negotiates with such as these, not without some mutual respect. If we did negotiate with them, it would be as you said with Hekhmatyar.
It may well be I do not know what I am talking about, though I was in Kabul in October of 2002 and in the refugee camps in Pakistan during the 1980s. The situation is not as complex as you might think. In the system of weights and counterweights which comprise Afghanistan and the Hindu Kush, it is a matter of the Pashtun versus everyone else. They should have gotten their own country out of the Partition but they did not. Much of the organic Pashtun leadership has been murdered by the Taliban drug lords: there was at one point a serious debate over the Islamic correctness of making heroin, considered haram by the rest of the Islamic world. That debate has been clarified by the deaths of all who opposed the poppies.
As for GIs, frozen pizzas and the like, I would prefer nobody go to Afghanistan who cannot speak passable Dari or Pashto, for people who can't speak the lanugage tend to create sycophants and bribe-takers and isolate the troops from the local people. It is an unsustainable model and ought to be abolished.
Your thinking on Afghanistan is dulled also by a lack of a connection between means and ends, often confusing the two like when you said something like "Americans will always be garrisoned at Kabul airport" as though this was the ultimate purpose of the conflict.
No, Micky. We will remain in Kabul for the foreseeable future, as has every ruler of Afghanistan before us. Kabul is its own problem domain: he who controls Kabul controls the crossroads and we will stay for our own geopolitical reasons. Every ruler who tried to govern all Afghanistan ended up in trouble, as did Babur. We will do our deals with various and sundry in the countryside, as we’re doing deals with the Hazara and Shinwari. We’re giving their elders money, directly, cutting out the Karzai (ergo Pashtun) middlemen.
Reading between the lines, your end point seems to be a law-abiding democracy in Afghanistan, and you believe this can be achieved, not through talking or conferences, but by these drone attacks. "And we're never going to stop. We don't have to stop." And, indeed, if you can bomb your way to democracy, why stop? But bombing a country into democracy has never done before, so why believe it now? Because of advances in technology - GPS etc? It's your case, you make it. Nothing you've said till now is convincing. Until you get a clear idea what the goals are in Afghanistan, don't be so quick to accept highly touted technical fixes to poorly understood problems.You are substituting sound-bites for sound thought.
Stop drawing conclusions. First cometh the rule of law then cometh democracy. The Drone War beats down the Taliban, who have proven they cannot rule. We have seen what they did whilst they did occupied Kabul: the people fled away to Pakistan to the aforementioned refugee camps. They fight amongst themselves. Your noble Taliban is a racist hegemony, a point you’d do well to concede. I am not interested in technical fixes, quite the opposite. The Drone War seizes the high ground and deprives the Taliban of their un-country. Once it was possible to disappear into those mountains and thumb one’s nose at the world, as did Osama bin Laden and the mujahidin of years gone by. The Taliban is convinced if you are not, else Mullah Omar would not be making his current crop of less-belligerent statements.
The GPS war isn't a matter of someone on the ground who knows how to use it. The GPS war is fought by drone operators who spot the enemy on the ground. They loiter and watch. That endless expanse of wilderness can be reduced to grid coordinates. The drones coordinate with ground troops. They integrate with intelligence at MacDill AFB. They watch for weeks. We have the luxury of waiting for enough actionable intelligence before doing anything. Complex social problems my ass. We don't act until someone starts shooting. This is not to create a democracy. It is, as I have said, (and you have not addressed) to take away their Sherwood Forest. Democracy won't arise in Afghanistan for at least fifty years. We know and accept that fact. In the mean time, we intend to take the war to the Taliban, which doesn't want free and fair elections.
I have a perverse way of looking at things, and I try to avoid sound-bites. This probably rubs you and other hide bound thinkers the wrong way.
No, Micky, your perversity doesn’t rub me the wrong way. You see, and I keep repeating myself in so saying, I have heard all this before, decades ago. It’s you who’s slinging the Sound Bites, the same tiresome anti-American shibboleths Saddam Hussein and OBL used to repeat for their ignorant audiences. Now pay attention here: every Chinese child is learning American English. Russian kids, too. They may not like our government much and we don’t like it much either, but those people genuinely like us. This antique anti-American crap you keep slinging is wasted effort. Nobody’s buying it. Give it up.
We've been through this before, when discussing the place of the arts in the USSR. While you were wallowing in cliches of brutish censors doing their best to stamp out creativity, I was appreciating the special hell of a system which employed censors with tastes and sensibilites equal to or even surpassing those who were censored.
Praising the virtues of the USSR and its artists, even the Russians don’t bother with that anymore. They’re learning to be Russians again, for better or worse, and generally speaking that’s a good thing, considering the terrible decades spent under the dead fist of Stalinism. Am I to understand the censors of the USSR had superior sensibilities to the artists they censored? Which artists? Which censors?
You accused me of being a supporter of Stalinism. When I took the trouble to set you straight that Koreans don't eat grass, no matter what some ignorant guy on tv said, you accused me of denying the famine in the north.
I’ve heard people are reduced to eating grass in DPRK. Do you have any special insight into the famine in DPRK the “ignorant guy on TV” (that would be the European Commission) might have said? Been up there recently? As for Stalinism, I eagerly await your list of artists and censors.
People get emotionally attached to their sound-bites. So I understand why you get so belicose when they are questioned. I just ask that you spare a little more time for thought. Instead of firing off another lengthy, rambling comment on Sherwood forest, or Libya, or capitalism or whatever passes through your mind, think instead about what I said of a self-defeating strategy and having an end clear in your mind. Save us both time and effort.
No, I’m not particularly attached to my sound bites. I care about refugees. They’re the only thing left for me to care about, Micky. I give my money to feed them. They are the sovereign hallmark of injustice in the world: as fares the refugee, so fares the world. While you go on denying the DPRK is starving and eats grass, I must take you at your word and believe you’re attempting to shuck and jive and defend the indefensible. This is a place where people do ramble on about what passes through their minds: feel free to do the same.