Worse Incentives & Bad Knowledge In Bad Faith-What Worries Me Most

Dear Reader, I think I’m a reasonably normal person. My primary loyalties are to those I love most (and how politics might affect us). Should the terrorist threat become dangerous enough, no sitting President, nor anyone responsible for the security of American citizens at home, will allow organized terrorist organizations a staging area in Afpak. The lower probability, but higher consequences, of a terror attack here, will likely dictate some sort of action there (SpecOps, intel, cyber warfare, drones etc.). This can affect my family/loved ones directly (the attack and the laws and policy coming out of the threat, and the incentives for all of us dealing with the threat).

People on the right, and myself more often, place higher value on defeating external threats. We’re more likely to route decision-making through a few nodes against these external threats (or tens of thousands of nodes in the current, bloated, semi-woke monstrosity of a Pentagon and contractor complex). I hope it’s in as good faith as possible.

The common defense is the primary reason we have a government in the first place.

People on the Left, as I see things, generally will see the primary threat within the West (the oppressor), and/or rally their troops against the threats to health/education and the institutions in which they gather (COVID safetyism and authoritarian impulses through the health/education industrial complex, for example).

My next ring of loyalty is to those few I know who’ve served in Afpak who are friends and fellow citizens. They volunteered and heard the call. They saw, and sometimes did, some shit…to keep us safer here. This is a thankless task. I live in a country of laws and borders. It’s a place. This place is my home. It comes with freedoms and responsibilities.

My next ring of loyalty (concentric rings) are to those standing up for policy and who claim to speak in my name as politicians and lawmakers, and maybe those who stand up for Afghanistan (Afghanis) with the help of our troops. This loyalty is much more negotiable for me personally, and lately, much more negotiable than ever in my lifetime. I simply don’t really trust our politics to handle immigration reasonably at the moment.

This saddens me, because some honorable, decent people are getting chopped up as a result.

The fact which worries me most: Our political leadership is especially sclerotic, failing in many important ways, for many important reasons. The Afghanistan withdrawal disaster was a conscious decision, and a clusterfuck.

Politics, to some extent, corrupts military leadership. The longer ex-generals hang around the political sphere, the less honor and respect they tend to wield. The longer politicians hang around Washington (especially past their sell-by date), the less honor and respect they hopefully wield (there’s probably a point of ideal ripeness/rottenness). At this point, the rank and file has more reasons than ever to question our political and military leadership. And we’re not even at the bottom of woke yet, with many illiberal and righteous actors leveraging bad knowledge in bad faith (as I see things).

The more conflicts that pile up from the bottom of a military hierarchy, and the more reasons anyone on the bottom has to question, bypass, endure or challenge the hierarchy itself, the more brittle the hierarchy.

Dear Reader, this worries me most.

From Michael Totten-Russia Is Arming the Taliban

Full piece here.

So we shouldn’t even aim to be allies on that whole terrorism problem, not even over on the minimalist end of the realist spectrum (no friends, no foes, just interests)?

‘Now that communism has collapsed everywhere outside North Korea, Cuba and Laos, and now that radical Islamist terrorists menace much of the world—especially Muslim lands, but also the United States and Russia—an alliance at least against that particular threat between Moscow and Washington makes perfect sense. Americans who yearn for it and who are willing to let a certain amount of Vladimir Putin’s nefarious behavior slide to bring it about are entirely reasonable.

Putin, though, isn’t interested.’

Well, Putin does seem to be interested in consolidating the kleptocratic, post-Soviet State, which apparently involves putting out anti-Western propaganda through State-controlled media while making himself the indispensable heart of a grander national project. It seems to mean dividing and conquering Georgia and Ukraine, letting the Baltics know who’s in charge, gaining leverage over Europe with Gazprom and uniting the old Damascus-Tehran-Moscow alliance against American interests in the Levant (hey, we stopped being the bouncer in the club).

According to Totten, it now includes running some guns to the Taliban.

Just a few years ago, there was supposed to be something like a raft of World Nations banding together with enough ‘common will’ to carrot-and-stick Putin into international arrangements while resetting the post WWII arrangement.

Ah, well.

A reader passed along a video of Bill Browder, who made a billion, lost much of it, and got a look at Russian politics, money, and power up close.  The way he describes it:  Corruption all the way to the top.

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What goes around, comes around-An oldie but a goodie-George Kennan: ‘The Sources Of Soviet Conduct

60 Minutes had an interview with ‘Jack Barsky,‘ an East-German Soviet spy who ended up living in America.  To hell with it!

From The National Interest: ‘Inside The Mind Of George F. Kennan’,,,Eric Postner back in 2008: The Bear Is Back

More Or Less On The Bergdahl Trade-Some Links

Folks at Blackfive are keeping an eye on things, but it’s still early on:

‘As someone who worked the Sgt Bergdahl issue for 4 years, I have a long, sordid history with this issue. And I WAS going to come out on the topic this week- I had mentioned to several people that I wanted to post up about it. But I’ve been advised not to, by some people who understand the ‘why’.’

The issue has gotten quite political now, largely due to that strange Rose Garden press conference where we got to see some of how the sausage is made. Like Benghazi, the Bergdhal affair offers a lot to be concerned about, but it’s also partially become a proxy to argue larger political and policy directions, and dissatisfaction with this President’s commitments (closing Guantanamo, offering a timeline and negotiations for AfPak withdrawal etc., dealing with bad people for questionable gains).

Many gatherers around similar ideals are trying to protect the President and their commitments, while many opponents are on the attack.

From a linked-to piece by Brad Thor:

‘It is important to note that the Haqqanis are not the same thing as the Afghan Taliban. The two are different groups…The Haqqanis are a heavily criminal enterprise sowing and feeding off of the chaos in the Afghanistan/Pakistan region. Envision Al Qaeda crossed with the Sopranos and you begin to get the picture of what these thugs are like.’

Dexter Filkins at the New Yorker takes a look at the Haqqani-ISI (Pakistani Intelligence) connection. I recall that even as Pervez Musharraf signed on the partnership in the War on Terror, he was playing us on both ends, partly because of the political realities of Pakistan.  You can’t ask a leader to be too far ahead of his people.

Bergdahl was probably hustled over into Pakistan through the Haqqanis:

Given the close connections that the I.S.I. maintains with the network, it seems inconceivable that the organization wasn’t well aware of Bergdahl’s condition, status, and whereabouts. Did the I.S.I. try, over the years, to free him? We don’t know. Could Pakistani intelligence officials have done more to help him? Did they do nothing? Likewise, we don’t know. Were they involved, and perhaps even instrumental in, gaining his final release? We don’t know. But, given the amount of American money that flows into Pakistan, we’re entitled to ask.’

Lots of questions in the air…

Lara Logan On Afghanistan Via Youtube: ‘2012 BGA Annual Luncheon Keynote Speech’

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There are real enemies, and real dangers, facing the U.S.  The current administration has a big stake in claiming that Al Qaida and the Taliban are on the wane in Afghanistan, and that the timeline for withdrawal in 2014 is sound, even though ending the war in Afghanistan is not necessarily our objective (preventing another terrorist attack on our soil and protecting our way of life is our objective). This administration also claims that through its liberal internationalist doctrine, Libya has been a success and that the Benghazi attack wasn’t the result of an Al Qaida affiliate (it was the result of an Al Qaida affliliate). It’s conducting a lengthy FBI investigation while claiming that the persecutors will be brought to justice.

Logan, reporting from Afghanistan on the ground for many years, has been observing how that threat is very real.

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I put this up before:

Here’s a quote from Anne-Marie Slaughter, on liberal internationalism:

The central liberal internationalist premise is the value of a rules-based international order that restrains powerful states and thereby reassures their enemies and allies alike and allows weaker states to have sufficient voice in the system that they will not choose to exit’

What if you can’t even appease extreme and radical groups of violent Muslims as they murder your troops, diplomats and citizens, let alone get them on-board some sort of ‘rules-based international order’?

What if there is such a chasm between Western and Muslim civilizations that even less violent Muslims on the street have no clue as to the concepts we’re defending, and why, and have little to no incentive to expel the extremists from their own societies?

What if you go so far down this path that you are, or least appear to be, willing to bend on a key issue and core freedom for our country as well as our national security?

Addition: A State Department Background Briefing On Libya; a conference call transcript of some of what happened during the attack.

Related On This Site: From Eli Lake At The Daily Beast: ‘Exclusive: Libya Cable Detailed Threats’

I don’t believe that we can appease Islamic extremists, which is the whole premise of this administration’s approach…blunt American power and incentivize Muslim societies to drive the extreme elements out through international cooperation: Via Youtube-Uncommon Knowledge With Fouad Ajami And Charles Hill

Eli Lake At The Daily Beast: ‘U.S. Officials Knew Libya Attacks Were Work of Al Qaeda Affiliates’ From The BBC Via Michael Totten: ‘Libya: Islamist Militia Bases Stormed In Benghazi’

Via Reuters: ‘U.S. Ambassador To Libya Killed In Benghazi Attack’

Walter Russell Mead At The American Interest Online: ‘Obama’s War’From The WSJ: “Allies Rally To Stop Gadhafi”From March 27th, 2009 At WhiteHouse.Gov: Remarks By The President On A New Strategy For Afghanistan And PakistanFrom The New Yorker: ‘How Qaddafi Lost Libya’

Just how far Left is this administration anyways? Is Bernhard Henri-Levy actually influencing U.S. policy decisions..? From New York Magazine: ‘European Superhero Quashes Libyan Dictator’Bernhard Henri-Levy At The Daily Beast: ‘A Moral Tipping Point’Charlie Rose Episode On Libya Featuring Bernhard Henri-Levy, Les Gelb And Others

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From Foreign Affairs: ‘Obama’s Bagram Problem’

Full piece here.

‘Control over Taliban prisoners held in Bagram would provide Karzai with the power to give or withhold access to insurgent figures who might be pivotal to the negotiation process, allowing Karzai to play spoiler if he so wishes. And, if Karzai controlled Bagram, the Taliban would have an incentive to reach out more directly and publicly to the Afghan government, a step the Taliban has so far publicly shunned.’

I’ve heard that Karzai hasn’t always been a strong leader…

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 Kissinger

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From The CSM: ‘Pakistan Volleyball Game Attack: Will Local Opposition To Taliban Hold Firm?’

Full post here.

“More than 600 civilians have now lost their lives to such attacks since the Pakistan Army began a military offensive in the Taliban stronghold of South Waziristan in October.”

We need Pakistan to ramp up these efforts to prevent safe haven for the Taliban if Obama’s troop increase is going to work.  What do the Taliban represent to many Pakistanis and to the tribes of the region?

Freedom Fighters against occupation?  Over-zealous enforcers of a rigid vision of Islam?  Corrupt Warlords? Providers of Security?  Keepers Of The Faith?  Mountain Rubes?

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

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