Stephen Biddle At Foreign Affairs: ‘Ending The War In Afghanistan’

Full piece here.

Biddle pushes for a negotiated settlement with the Taliban:

‘The international coalition fighting in Afghanistan has long planned on handing over responsibility for security there to local Afghan forces. But the original idea was that before doing so, a troop surge would clear the Taliban from strategically critical terrain and weaken the insurgency so much that the war would be close to a finish by the time the Afghans took over. That never happened. The surge made important progress, but the tight deadlines for a U.S. withdrawal and the Taliban’s resilience have left insurgents in control of enough territory to remain militarily viable well after 2014. Afghan government forces will thus inherit a more demanding job than expected.’

There’s much reluctance at home, from bitterly bipartisan politics and deficit spending battles to isolationism and war exhaustion, as to why we should still be in Afghanistan (and addressing the AfPak issue, really).  Much of the fighting there has been pretty nasty for our troops with the enemy either dug-in or easily melting away across the border into Pakistan.

The primary objective was clearly getting bin-Laden and breaking up his network.  We wanted to inflict a real cost on them.  To do that it was decided that the Taliban, with roots in the mujahideen against the Soviets in 1979, as factions of Islamically purist warlords, needed to be removed from power without making war with Afghans nor other Muslims necessarily.  The Taliban have been cleared away for awhile, and coalition forces have gotten rid of bin-Laden, and while I’ve heard the Al Qaeda network still has presence over the border in the FATA region of Pakistan, basic conditions on the ground haven’t changed that much:  The Taliban are pretty much expected to fill right back in, and groups sympathetic to bin-Laden enough to fight alongside, shelter and harbor him are still likely going be active throughout the region.

How do we prevent this region from remaining a haven for terrorist activity?

Feel free to highlight my ignorance.  Any thoughts and comments are welcome:

Canadian documentarian Louie Palu covered the Kandahar region of southwest Afghanistan, where much of the fiercest fighting has occurred, and where the British, Soviets and coalition forces have fought.

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And again here’s Zbigniew Brzezinski on a brief visit with the Taliban in 1979, in a rather ‘conspiratorial’ video.  You do what  you’ve gotta do, sometimes:

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Related On This SiteFrom March 27th, 2009 At WhiteHouse.Gov: Remarks By The President On A New Strategy For Afghanistan And PakistanStephen Biddle At Foreign Affairs: ‘Running Out Of Time For Afghan Governance Reform’

Repost-From Michael Yon: ‘The Battle For Kandahar’Dexter Filkins Book On Afghanistan And Iraq: “The Forever War”Monday Quotations-Henry KissingerTom Ricks Via Foreign Policy: ‘American General Dies In Afghanistan; An American Lt. Col. Goes Off The Reservation

From Esquire: ‘The Man Who Killed Osama bin Laden…Is Screwed’

Full piece here.

The title is a little dramatic, but the piece focuses on the details of that fateful night, and how to get retired SEALS and SpecOps into the civilian work force.

Perhaps they need more opportunities to remain “quiet professionals.”

‘In the last few months, the Shooter has put together some work that involves a kind of discreet consulting for select audiences. But it’s a per-event deal, and he’s not sure how secure or long-term it will be. And he wants to be much more involved in making the post — SEAL Team 6 transition for others less uncertain.’

Related On This Site: From Slate: ‘In Aleppo, Syria, Mohamed Atta Thought He Could Build The Ideal Islamic City’From The NY Times: Review Of Christopher Caldwell’s Book “Reflections on the Revolution in Europe: Immigration, Islam, and the West”

Are secular humanism and the kind of political freedoms we enjoy in the West incompatible with Islam?:  From YouTube: Roger Scruton On Religious Freedom, Islam & Atheism

Lawrence Wright At The New Yorker: ‘The Man Behind Bin Laden’

Lawrence Wright At The New Yorker: ‘The Man Behind Bin Laden’

Full piece here.

A very detailed and thorough piece on Bin Laden’s number two man, Ayman al-Zawahiri; his childhood in Cairo, the Islamist movement in Egypt…the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan…how he got where he was going:

“This great victory was possible only by the grace of God,” he says with quiet pride. “This was not just a human achievement—it was a holy act. These nineteen brave men who gave their lives for the cause of God will be well taken care of. God granted them the strength to do what they did. There’s no comparison between the power of these nineteen men and the power of America, and there’s no comparison between the destruction these nineteen men caused and the destruction America cause.’

Long but well done.  Very likely worth your time.

Related On This Site: Newsweek On Francis Fukuyama: ‘The Beginning Of History’Francis Fukuyama At The American Interest Online: ‘Political Order in Egypt’

From Slate: ‘In Aleppo, Syria, Mohamed Atta Thought He Could Build The Ideal Islamic City’From The NY Times: Review Of Christopher Caldwell’s Book “Reflections on the Revolution in Europe: Immigration, Islam, and the West”

Are secular humanism and the kind of political freedoms we enjoy in the West incompatible with Islam?:  From YouTube: Roger Scruton On Religious Freedom, Islam & Atheism

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Walter Russell Mead At The American Interest: ‘High Noon In Pakistan’

Full post here.

Mead has another good analysis:

‘As US-Pakistan tensions rise, the Pakistanis have looked to China as an alternative great power backer.  The Pakistani argument to China is that Pakistan offers an offset to India that makes it harder for India to challenge Chinese influence in southeast Asia and elsewhere.’

So what do we do with a barely functional Pakistani state which has nuclear weapons, a recent swell of Anti-American popular sentiment, a state that looks the other way/harbors/produces terrorism…plays both ends while receiving U.S. aid upon a feudal, tribal land-owning system…and that we still have reasons to support?:

‘The administration is going to have to look at a broad range of options that stretch from adding some new dimensions to US-India relations and engaging more directly with more neighbors about the future of Afghanistan to additional operations like the Abbottabad raid where intelligence suggests appropriately important targets can be found.  On the other hand, the administration needs to develop a crystal clear and specific vision for what we want from Pakistan and what we will do if and only if we can secure it.’

Likely worth your time.

Michael Totten did an interview with Hezbollah’s pr guy.

Related On This Site:  From March 27th, 2009 At WhiteHouse.Gov: Remarks By The President On A New Strategy For Afghanistan And PakistanRepost-From Michael Yon: ‘The Battle For Kandahar…Bending now to Obama’s vision?  His Security Report here.

The Hitchens factor, and a vigorous defense of free speech: From Beautiful Horizons: ‘Christopher Hitchens and Tariq Ramadan at the 92nd Street Y’Via YouTube: ‘Christopher Hitchens Vs. Ahmed Younis On CNN (2005)’From Michael Totten: ‘An Interview With Christopher Hitchens’

Walter Russell Mead At The American Interest: ‘Mubaraks, Mamelukes, Modernizers and Muslims’Walter Russell Mead’s New Book On Britain and America

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