#Hashtag Diplomacy-Two Tuesday Links

From CSIS: ‘Video-Afghanistan After The Drawdown: U.S. Civilian Engagement Post 2014‘ (approx 1 hr 30 min).

‘Jerry Hyman argues that the strategy should be based on three possible scenarios (optimistic, pessimistic, and muddling-through)…’

I still think announcing a withdrawal date makes a difficult situation more difficult, and gives people leverage to whom we really shouldn’t give leverage.


Click through for some ground-level coverage of what’s going on in Thailand.

I wonder how deftly the U.S. has ever handled nuanced and tense situations like these, where primary interests aren’t necessarily at stake, but good diplomacy is always welcome. Yon offers a bit of a rant against our current ambassador’s handling of the situation.

I don’t really want to get involved, but apparently, she did the moonwalk on live T.V. in the Philippines as a farewell during her ambassadorship there.  I’m just hoping for competence.

My guess is that it’s tougher to appear competent while defending the many contradictions of #hashtag diplomacy.

Yeah, Thailand, you’re just like Ukraine, so get those activists out in the streets.

Redlines and deadlines.  More speeches.


From the comments:

‘Does the Thai military depend on US made parts for its F16s, Bells, and UH-1s, not to mention almost all of their A2A, A2G, S2A missiles and radars? (The 12 Gripens in the 701st are not going to cut it on their own)

Or does the US need Thailand as a bulwark of regional stability (in addition to South Korea and Japan), a base for forward storage of material, potential air bases and as a source of human and signals intelligence? Does the Asian pivot mean we need them more? Or does the humble foreign policy mean we need them less?

If Thailand comes under the thumb of the Chinese who will lose more? The Thai military and its elites? Or the US? It would weaken us, but we would still have other regional options.’

Some Wednesday Links On Afghanistan

From Vice.com:  Some of the daily challenges our soldiers have faced in being asked to do so many things in Afghanistan.

From Walter Russell Mead: ‘Hastily Leaving Afghanistan Won’t Encourage Taliban To Make Concessions:’

‘And there are still lots of countries in the region that don’t want Afghanistan to fall under Taliban rule again: Iran, Russia, China, and India all think this would be a terrible outcome. We shouldn’t assume that Mullah Omar is going to get everything he wants’

Maybe only Pakistan might want Afghanistan to fall under Taliban rule again, but the fundamental poverty, decades of war, illiteracy, ethnic, linguistic and geographical barriers make any stable government in Afghanistan a long-shot at best.  Meanwhile, what we really don’t want are large groups of people trained only in war, in and out of Islamist ideology only emboldened and reverting the region back to what it was before we entered:  A haven for Islamist and terror planning.

This blog remains highly skeptical of the current administrations’ withdrawal plan and lack of strategic planning on Syria and Iran, but also remains aware of the deeper budgetary issues and divisions at home.

From Michael Yon: ‘Afghanistan: A Bigger Monster

‘If we execute a zero option, this is my basic worst-case prediction, which is not far from my most likely scenario prediction:’

Yon envisions a dark future with a direct withdrawal, suggesting it might even be get worse than what it was before we went in.

From Stephen Biddle:  ‘Ending The War In Afghanistan‘.

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.’

I still don’t think we’ve met our objective if we just pull-out, and this looks like trying to make the best of a pull-out.

Addition:  How do we meet our objective?

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 Michael Yon: ‘Rule Of Law’

Full post here.

Another Afghanistan update:

“Most Afghans hate warlords.  Most Afghans hate the Taliban.  When the warlords ruled Afghanistan it was lawless, and so many people welcomed the Taliban who beat back the warlords and installed crude justice.  Soon, the Taliban, staggered by their new power, became the new pariah”

Addition: The Afghan military isn’t looking so good.  U.S. public opinion against the war is high and anti-American AfPak sentiment high at the moment.

Another Addition:  The WSJ has a piece on Andrew Bacevich, which is not favorable.  It seems Bacevich has lost sight of what can and can’t get done in war, and perhaps in human nature.

Related On This Site: From CSIS: ‘Turmoil In The Middle-East’Lawrence Wright At The New Yorker: ‘The Man Behind Bin Laden’…perhaps Bacevich is turning inward upon religious belief, and doesn’t have a larger analysis to put the war within, despite his insight: From Commonweal: Andrew Bacevich “The War We Can’t Win: Afghanistan And The Limits Of American Power”

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Michael Yon At The NY Daily News: ‘Afghanistan Is Making Undeniable Progress, But It Could All Unravel’

Full piece here.

‘The bottom line is that there are unmistakable signs of progress in Afghanistan, and Gen. David Petraeus is about to make a very important recommendation.’

And the sitting President has to be re-electable, and appeal to his base, and a possible pool of voters, which can be one of the biggest determining factors in the decision.

Addition:  Obama says he is aiming for a surge pullout by the end of next summer.  Obama’s speech here.  I can’t really say I agree with Obama’s apparent vision of an American dream fiscally (last lines of the speech), in terms of government involvement, and in a lot of foreign policy, so it seems pretty transparently political to me.

Addition:  And as he mentions, there’s got to be a smarter way to fight terrorism.

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’Dexter Filkins Book On Afghanistan And Iraq: “The Forever War”Repost-’Dexter Filkins In The NY Times: The Long Road To Chaos In Pakistan’

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From Michael Yon: ‘General Petraeus Letter’

Letter here.

To the troops.

Also On This Site:  From The CSM: ‘General Petraeus Rethinking Rules Of Engagement’

Bending now to Obama’s vision?  His Security Report here.

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’From Commonweal: Andrew Bacevich “The War We Can’t Win: Afghanistan And The Limits Of American Power”

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From Michael Yon: ‘Whispers’

Full article here.

A sensible mission; one of whose primary goals is to protect the civilian population as much as possible.  It still remains to be seen whether or not the various tribes, the lack of infrastructure and education (the deepest rifts) can be overcome (without the Taliban moving right back in).  I have my doubts:

‘The Marjah offensive—billed as the biggest US/NATO/Afghan assault on the Taliban ever—had begun.  With it, the attention of nearly all the reporters covering Afghanistan is focused on Marjah.  Yet fighting continues across the country, in provinces with names unfamiliar to most people.’

Also: From Commonweal: Andrew Bacevich “The War We Can’t Win: Afghanistan And The Limits Of American Power”

And:  Philip Bobbitt Discusses His Book ‘Terror And Consent’ On Bloggingheads

From CSIS: ‘How the US Must Expand and Redefine International Cooperation in Fighting Terrorism’

Repost-From Foreign Policy: Fabrice Pothier’s ‘Time For An Afghan Surge’

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From Michael Yon’s Blog: ‘Bad Medicine’

Full article here.

A good article to get a sense of what’s going on in Afghanistan for our combat troops; how the war looks from someone embedded with NATO forces on the ground.

“Michael Yon is a former Green Beret, native of Winter Haven, Fl. who has been reporting from Iraq and Afghanistan since December 2004.  No other reporter has spent as much time with combat troops in these two wars.”

Also On This Site:  Dexter Filkins Book On Afghanistan And Iraq: “The Forever War”…Sarah Chayes On Afghanistan In The Boston Review: Days Of Lies And Roses

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