November 23, 2009

Afghanistan: The Future Is Feudal!

For most of the decade, I've been pointing out that feudalism would work better in Afghanistan than nation-building. Europeans came up with feudalism to defend themselves from the Vikings after the breakup of Charlemagne's empire. It's cheap, it doesn't require much organizational capital, it doesn't need a national language, and it doesn't require a Charlemagne. Feudalism doesn't work particularly well, but, for minimal security needs, it does work.

Now, they're finally thinking feudally in Washington. Fred Kaplan says in Slate:
... special-operations forces have begun to help anti-Taliban militias in southern and eastern Afghanistan, where the insurgents are concentrated. These militias have risen up spontaneously in certain tribal groups, but U.S. commanders hope that they can use the example of these revolts "to spur the growth of similar armed groups across the Taliban heartland." ...

... it has drawn high-level attention to a 45-page paper by Army Maj. Jim Gant, the former team leader of a special-ops detachment stationed in Konar province. The paper, called "One Tribe at a Time: A Strategy for Success in Afghanistan," recounts his experiences with organizing "tribal engagement teams" to help local fighters beat back the Taliban—and it spells out a plan to replicate these teams across the country. ...

The premise of his paper is that Afghanistan "has never had a strong central government and never will." Rather, its society and power structure are, and always will be, built around tribes—and any U.S. or NATO effort to defeat the Taliban must be built around tribes, as well. The United States' approach of the last seven years—focusing on Kabul and the buildup of Afghanistan's national army and police force—is wrongheaded and doomed. ...

A tribe-centered strategy may appeal to Obama in several ways. First, it keeps the Afghan people, not American occupiers, at the center of the operation. The U.S. soldiers live alongside the tribes, build trust, train them, supply them, gather intelligence from them, and fight with them. We are supporting players, not the lead.

But what happens when our friendly tribes stop fighting whoever it is we want them to fight, and start fighting our other friendly tribes?

That's where feudalism comes in.

Gant has no illusions about the difficulty of working with tribes. He spells out the risks of getting enmeshed in internecine feuds. Several times during the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan, our guerrilla allies called in U.S. air and artillery strikes on what they said were "Taliban targets" but in fact turned out to be gatherings of rival tribes.

An explicit and essential part of Gant's strategy is to draw the individual tribal teams into a network of tribes—first across the province, then the region, then the nation—tied in to the Kabul government through a web of mutual defenses and the supply of basic services. He's less clear on the mechanics of how this "bottom-up" approach to national unity takes hold, but he recognizes that without it the Taliban can gain advantage by playing the tribes off against one another.

Or, then again, maybe in Afghanistan the future is always futile.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

57 comments:

Middletown Girl said...

US should have divided Afghanistan into separate nations--like what happened to Yugoslavia--when we went in following 9/11. Central government hasn't been viable in Afghanistan precisely because of the ethnic diversity and distrust. Same is true of much of Africa where political divisions along tribal lines are deep and often fatal. If not fatal, it leads to a fatalism where everyone resigns himself to a permanent state of divisiveness.

US had a golden opportunity--as we had the moral upperhand--to at least create strong autonomous regions--if not exactly separate nations--out of Afghanistan after 9/11, but the euphoria of the quick invasion & driving out the Taliban and the 'goodness' of our cause led us to dream of building a modern democracy.
Now, it maybe too late to do anything.

teacher.paris said...

The US never had any non-imperialist justification for invading Afghanistan and Iraq. The sooner the empire collapses, the sooner the surviving soldiers could be used to protect our borders.

Simon said...

Bringing Afghanistan forward into the 11th century certainly sounds more plausible than what we've seen so far.

l said...

I guess there's no danger that the weapons we're giving these stone age tribesmen could be turned on us. Good thing our strategists are so smart.

(We need to just GTFO.)

On a lighter note ...

First 'Code Pink' switched from opposing "Bush's war" to supporting Obama's nation-building, now it's the 'Network of Spiritual Progressives'.

"Of course, we recognize that effective development needs security, and when we have massively intervened in a country as much as the U.S. has in Afghanistan, we can’t responsibly just walk away ..."

http://blog.sojo.net/2009/11/19/the-future-belongs-to-those-who-build-an-open-letter-on-afghanistan-to-president-obama/#disqus_thread

The torch is passed, from stupid cowboys to naive goody two shoes.

Black Sea said...

Seven years is a long time to figure out that your strategy is "wrongheaded and doomed." Gee, it's a good thing that this isn't a war of national survival or anything.

Cossack in a Kilt said...

In democracy, it's your vote that counts; in feudalism, it's your count that votes.

rightsaidfred said...

I find it notable that the Taliban was seemingly defeated and now they are back stronger than ever. Maybe we should study them and figure out how to repel the various demographic and political invasions of this country.

Anonymous said...

"A tribe-centered strategy may appeal to Obama in several ways."

Ha! They must have read his first book.

Gen. Casey said...

It would be tragic if Afganistan's diversity suffered because of it's nearly entire history of bloody intertribal warfare.

Diversity is Afganistan's strength.

Anonymous said...

How would a president Lou Dobbs handle this? He is thinking about running for president. I hope he does.

Anonymous said...

Gee, another great sounding scheme by some up and coming thinker. Let's see, we'll manipulate the Afghans into doing our bidding for us. The premise seems to be that they are way too dumb to ever realize the foreigners are attempting to use them. Hardly an original concept, it's been tried before in other places.The hubris of it all staggers me. It'll make some careers for a few grand strategists, never mind the actual results.

William B Swift said...

Poul Anderson's post-apocalyptic novel "No Truce with Kings" suggested that feudalism is a beter fit with human nature in several ways than large organizations are.

Luke Lea said...

Hey, I've been recommending that approach since the beginning! But then I knew something about the place, having hitch-hiked across it almost 50 years ago. Even though I was only 20 at the time, it was obvious that there was no central government. My friend and I even spent a night in one of the "king's" many palaces near Kandahar. It was basically a Southern California-style ranch house with a big swimming pool in the backyard, the only "modern" building in the region. Curiously the place hadn't been visited in months of not years; the dust in the house was 1/16th inch deep and covered everything, floors, furniture, knick-knacks, beds, kitchen counters. The swimming pool in the back yard (we are talking 1960's Southern Cal) was empty and full of trash. The King's palace! according to the caretaker who let us in.

The "roads" were so bad that 15 mph was as fast as you could go, and those were the good stretches. The 2nd best hotel in Kabul (diplomats stayed in a Holiday Inn) was so disgusting -- a paper mache volcanoe in the middle of the room you were supposed to piss and shit in, plus bed-bugs between the leather straps on the beds (no mattresses, let alone sheets) that my friend and I crept down the steps in the middle of the night, stepped over the night clerk at the bottom of the stair well, and slept on the cobble stones in the street instead. Had to beat off the homosexuals who kept waking us up.

Anonymous said...

Last night I was reading General william Odom's book, "The Collapse of the Soviet Military." He discusses in great detail the role played by the Soviets' Afghanistan fiasco. Basically, the Politburo realized by 1985 that Afghanistan was a quagmire in which the Soviets would never succeed. Afghan society was tribal with little "class consciousness" and deeply resented foreign interference, especially by non-Muslims.

It seems we never learn - those who do not understand history are condemned to repeat it. The British and the Russians have invaded Afghanistan several times but have always failed. Required reading for future Afghanistan crusaders - The harry Flashman books and "The Man Who Would be King."

-Black Death

airtommy said...

Good points by Steve and Middletown Girl, but it would also help if we did not erase the 1970s from history. Unfortunately, since the successes of that decade were sponsored by the USSR and since the USA did so much to undo those successes, it appears we refuse to learn from them (let alone even acknowledge their existence).

Anonymous said...

Interesting connection between
"Middletown" (comment 1) and the title of the detailed social analysis of an American town by
the Lynns, published as MIDDLETOWN (and reviewed by Mencken as "Moronia" ). The underlying problem would seem possibly to be that very very very few Americans know much, or care much, about the rest of the world; thus, our policy making/implementation seems to have about as detailed and complete an information base as though it were founded on what can be picked up from barbers, bartenders, and taxi drivers who have listened to American tourists talk about Afghanistan.

Anonymous said...

The US and the rest intervened to stop Yugoslavia breaking up along natural ethnic lines.

Seemingly, globalising elites get a near sexual thrill* from the thought of Serbs living under Bosnian Muslim rule, or Albanian rule in Kosovo. If all the Serbs had ended up in an enlarged Serbia - where is the fun in that!?

The US should have intervened to make sure that ethnic breakup happened along common sense lines with a minimum level of disruption and bloodshed.

*See also Ireland; currently Catholics who want to be part of the Republic have to be under British rule - great! In the future Protestants who want to be British having to live under Irish rule - even better!! What must never, never be tolerated is any suggestion that perhaps all the Catholics could live in the Republic and Protestants in Britain. Very immoral.(Achieved via population transer and redrawing borders)

Lost Pilgrim said...

Why don't we bring back their monarchy and they'll advance to a medieval civilization.

Dutch Boy said...

Feudalism actually has its roots in the late Roman Empire when barbarian invasions and the impoverishment of the populace led them to seek protection from local warlords in return for service. Continuing assaults from Vikings, Magyars and Muslims preserved the system. With the Christianization of the Vikings and Magyars, the threat from those directions ceased (the Islamic military threat lasted until the late 17th century). The feudal system then crumbled and re-urbanization proceeded.

Anonymous said...

Afghanistan, like Pakistan, is not a nation-state, but a hodge-podge of several different ethnic groups. Both are artificial states. They are like Yugoslavia.

Edward said...

Government from Kabul will be futile. Now, if their was a fuedal structure leading to Kandahar... king of the Pashtuns - that might do it.

Pashtun Anti-defamation League said...

Sailer: "Afghanistan: The Future Is Feudal!"

Great! Let's go medieval on the GI's!

Edward said...

Sorry for the typo above.

Bonus quote -

"To treat kindly those who disturb the peace is being an enemy to those who love peace." Former Afghan King (1880 to 1901), Abdur Rahman (Barakzai Pashtun).

Anonymous said...

I don't think the Afghans are going to be adjusting to anything resembling a democracy any time soon:

http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=925_1259014393

Middletown Girl said...

If the Taliban had not welcomed Alqaeda, none of this would have happened. Maybe we can come to some kind of understanding with the Taliban and other folks in Afghanistan: be crazy as you want but don't play host to terrorists.
Will they bite?

Or, maybe they learned the lesson already.

Middletown Girl said...

Where did they find a guy like Karzai, an Afghani Mr. Magoo dressed up like Sukarno with an Elvis cape?

Middletown Girl said...

Though Sukarno of Indonesia ultimately played too many games and fell from power, he was actually a unifying and stabilizing force in that very diverse country for nearly 20 yrs. Many Indonesians admired--even revered--him as a great hero or even a god. Tragically, he drew too close to the communists and triggered a coup from the Muslim generals.

Perception is everything in politics, and most Indonesians saw Sukarno as a national hero, a liberator, as he had been instrumental in the struggle against Dutch imperialism. Problem with Karzai was he was installed by the US and is perceived as a puppet. He gets no respect from his own people or from the Muslim world.

Maybe Americans should have found someone more charismatic and less beholden--at least in the public perception--to the US. And, Americans should have chosen the modernizing strongman model over the democratic model. It's too late now.

Whiskey said...

No it is not Steve. This is directly out of the "Anbar Awakening" which IIRC you predicted would fail (it succeeded) by balancing both local tribal needs and a very loose but relatively effective government. It's the Iraq model, corrupt but not overly heavy, and providing a mechanism for tribes to settle differences short of fighting.

Obama (and Dems) called Afghanistan a war of necessity and now want "off-ramps" to exit as soon as possible, Obama took three months to respond to his commander who in August told him he had 12 months to win or lose the war.

[Afghanistan was well and conquered by Alexander and Ghenghis, but those guys did not fool around. Afghanis are not invincible.]

Our objective in Afghanistan is basically: (a) prevent AQ from winning a victory over us and causing a global "switch" over to them as we are perceived as weak, (b) preventing AQ from using territory to plan attacks on the US, and (c) influencing Pakistan and it's 100+ nukes, heavy infiltration of Jihadis in the military and intelligence.

We can certainly withdraw (which is Obama's goal without owning it), but like everything else it will cost: AQ gets a global "win" and Indonesia, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Algeria, make "deals" with AQ/Islamists/Jihadis and don't cooperate with a defeated US in stopping mass casualty attacks on the US. Afghanistan provides a 1990's untouchable refuge for planning (as it did in the run-up to 9/11). Most worrying, Pakistan does not fear US response or cooperate, several nukes get slid to Jihadis to buy internal social peace.

BOOM!

The downside of cheap Chinese laptops and sneakers is some illiterate tribesman can succeed in nuking Western cities because he figures he will become a big shot at home (with no real comeback). Globalism has its cost.

[I'll remind folks that withdrawing the legions from Britain did not preserve the Empire either, for the Romans. Retreat becomes a habit.]

Anonymous said...

Had to beat off the homosexuals who kept waking us up.

You might want to rephrase that....

On a more serious note, I once read an article online by an American who had traveled across Afghanistan in the 1970s. He reached the same conclusion as Middletown Girl and Luke. Afghanistan as we know it should be abolished. Carve it up into a Pashtun state and a Tajik state for starters.

-Vanilla Thunder

josh said...

The only reason we supposedly care about the Taliban is cuz they will host Al Qaeda...(and btw why do they leave out the 'u' after the Q? Is that some kind of shot at Westerners? Like,they say theres no 'I' in 'team,are these guys trying to say ,"Hey!Theres no YOU in Al Qaeda"?) How do we know the other tribes wont be friendly to terrorists?

josh said...

Re Luke Lea,sleeping in the streets of Kabul,we "had to beat off the homosexuals who kept waking us up." LOL! Be happy they settled for THAT!

jack strocchi said...

An explicit and essential part of Gant's strategy is to draw the individual tribal teams into a network of tribes—first across the province, then the region, then the nation—tied in to the Kabul government through a web of mutual defenses and the supply of basic services.

So after eight years of bloodshed and treasure spent the brass have finally hit upon the strategy suggested by Peachy and Danny in "the Man who would be King".

I dont know whether to laugh or cry.

Significantly this also gells with Mathew Hoh's characterization of Afghanistans political structure. Hoh is quoted in the WaPo described it as "valley-ism":

Korengal and other areas, he said, taught him "how localized the insurgency was. I didn't realize that a group in this valley here has no connection with an insurgent group two kilometers away." Hundreds, maybe thousands, of groups across Afghanistan, he decided, had few ideological ties to the Taliban but took its money to fight the foreign intruders and maintain their own local power bases.

"That's really what kind of shook me," he said. "I thought it was more nationalistic. But it's localism. I would call it valley-ism."


Of course Valley-ism is also another name for Charles Darwin's theory of how natural selection causes speciation.

So we have an agreement here between Rudyard Kipling, Mathew Hoh, Charles Darwin and Steve Sailer on the basis structure and function of Afghanistan.

Ideology is useless unless grounded in anthropology.

Middletown Girl said...

Main reasons why Afghanistan is a pain in the arse:

1. Rugged mountaineous terrain which makes combat and logistics difficult.

2. Terrain isolated Afghanis from rest of the world, so Afghanis, even more than Arabs and Persians, tend to be deeply tribal, distrustful, rough, crude, and barbaric. Muslims in what are now Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, etc have long had some connection to great centers of learning, commerce, and culture--Baghdad, Medinah, Damascus, etc. In contrast, Afghani Muslims were like 'jungle Muslims' isolated in their own world. They are Muslims of Darkness than Muslims of Light. They are cave Muslims or Teutonic Muslims of Wagnerian gloom and doom. The dogma of Islam entered into the cave of Afghanistan but not its liberating--relatively speaking--spirit. It's like Christian gloom and doom penetrated into parts of the Germanic Barbarian North but not its enlightening and liberating spirit. Germanic Barbarians used the cross to bash heads and practice Teutonic tribalism.

It's probably no accident that Turkish Muslims achieved the most in terms of secularization, liberalization, and democratization as Turkey is half-Europe, half-Near East. And, Muslims of the Arabia had often come in contact with Jews, Christians, and other folks. Sometimes in violence but sometimes in cultural exchange, business, diplomacy, and even prolonged alliances.
Afghanistan, in contrast, was physically isolated not just from the non-Muslim world but from the more advanced parts of the Muslim world.
Even theocratic Iranians find Afghanis barbaric, backward, reactionary, tribal, and crazy. Though there is a geographical nation called Afghanistan, parts of it extends culturally and tribally into areas of Iran(which is why Iranians are afraid of Afghani influence) and at least 1/4 of Pakistan. (Similarly, Mexico culturally and demographically intrudes into parts of the American Southwest. Lower California should really be called Mexifornia as some have done.)

Indeed, one could argue Pakistan is two or three or four nations. The most advanced part comprise Pakistanis who had been deeply influenced by long British rule in India(which had once included what is now Pakistan), a period during which both the Hindu and Muslim elites were profoundly influenced by British education and culture. Jinnah was both a Muslim nationalist and a Westernized intellectual. The ruling elite and many urban Pakistanis are part of the modern or modernizing world, but there are huge parts of Pakistan which are more like an extension of Afghanistan. The Pakistan metropole has never been able to control these areas. Taliban was welcome to the Pakistani elite prior to 9/11 because it was seen as having a unifying and stabilizing force in Afghanistan and over the tribal areas of Pakistan. The Pakistani military forged close ties with Taliban in the hope that tribal violence would be reduced under the iron-grip of Taliban rule. Also, Pakistan hoped that Taliban's extreme xenophobia would shut it off to international influence other than that of Pakistan. (China supported Khmer Rouge Cambodia and supports North Korea for the same reason. Horrible regimes but friends ONLY with China.)

3. Many nations have gone into Afghanistan to impose their own will and vision instead of figuring out what Afghanis want, what Afghanis are capable of, and what Afghanis are limited to achieving.

Edward said...

If the Taliban had not welcomed Alqaeda, none of this would have happened. Maybe we can come to some kind of understanding with the Taliban and other folks in Afghanistan: be crazy as you want but don't play host to terrorists.
Will they bite?


You are working on the assumption they are literate and are modern enough to participate in international diplomacy, which they probably are not.

Al Qaeda elbowed its way into Afghanistan by helping the Taliban (/Pashtuns) win the '90s Afghan civil war against the Tajik and Uzbek. The last act, just before 9/11, was the Massood assassination.

In return Al Qaeda were permitted to say as guests of the Pashtun.

As long as there is government in Kabul foreign influence will always bedevil the Pashtun. The Pashtun are not strong enough on their own to rule Afghanistan from Kabul

If we left now there would be civil war again between Pashtun and Tajik/Uzbeks.

Foreigners in a backwards place like Afghanistan are game changers who can swing power in favour of an ethnic group. This is what Al Qaeda did.

If we left with Afghanistan and its Kabul government in tact you're preserving conditions which lead to ethnic conflict which can be hijacked by foreigners, including terrorists.

As long as the foreigners are able to assist Pashtun in a fight against Pashtun enemies there will be foreigners there. So the problem with Afghanistan is Afghanistan the concept - one which dates back to the British Empire.

If we brought the government of the Pashtun to Kandahar (and put another Tajik government in the north), which the Pashtun would more readily accept, and put a Pashtun king on the throne there would not be the ethnic conflict for the foreigners to exploit.

Also recognise the foreigners who try to be game changers in Kabul include Pakistan government and India, both ploughing money and intelligence to their own favoured groups in Afghanistan: this a regional issue, no solution can be had which does not involve these players.

One idea I had was to merge Afghanistan and Pakistan into one federal state on the model of the 1971 constitution of the United Arab Emirates. You'd have a number of devolved governments (Sind, Punjab, Pashtunistan, Balochistan, Hazara state, Tajik etc...) within a fuedual structure.

Middletown Girl said...

Sometime ago, a NY Times writer said US should spend more money on education in Afghanistan. He has a point but the wrong proposal.

The future of Afghanistan will indeed depend on its children. What children learn in school is crucial. But, what liberals mean by education is Western liberal education. Nothing wrong with such, but a new nation or a new order must quickly and firmly establish itself. In order for this to happen, education must largely be a form of indoctrination. In order for simple minds to accept or adapt to the New Order, simple but powerful ideas must be presented to them and squeezed into their minds. Why are madrasas so influential? Because they teach calculus and offer debating clubs on contemporary issues? No, because they indoctrinate young minds with simple Islamic tenets.

Since Afghanistan is profoundly Muslim, it would have been foolish to offer education that's blatantly anti-Muslim--like what the Marxist regime tried to do during the Soviet occupation. No, the new order must find a creative means to forge Islam and modern nationalism together. And, this formula should have been taught in well-funded schools--essentially propaganda mental farms--all across the nation. The formula should be sufficiently pro-Islam so as to not alarm the Afghani populace. But, the children would also have been instilled with the patriotic idea of a new modern Afghani nation. They would have been imbued with the idea that modernization is a good thing--for both Afghani power and for Islam. Mussolini was an expert at this as when he came to an understanding with the Catholic Church. Franco too had a knack for fusing Catholicism with modernization.

But, what did the Soviets do? They tried to replace Islam with Marxism? What did Americans try to do? They tried to supercede--if not oppose--Islam with American consumerism and democratic idealism. I even recall a Nightline special taking pride in a new shopping mall in Kabul having escalators!!!

Stalin, in a way, understood this too. He realized that most people are dummies. He knew that communism had to be turned into a new FAITH, one linked with the glory of nationalism and motherland and even a bit of Christian sanctity.

Americans in Afghanistan haven't been anti-Islamic, but they haven't really been for anything concrete or inspirational--at least to the simple minds who make up most Afghanis.

Also, our Multiculturalist PC mindset makes us overly cautious and prevents us from creatively using Islam to serve and fuse with a new nationalism that might have taken root in Afghanistan.

Edward said...

Since Afghanistan is profoundly Muslim, it would have been foolish to offer education that's blatantly anti-Muslim--like what the Marxist regime tried to do during the Soviet occupation. No, the new order must find a creative means to forge Islam and modern nationalism together.

Ask a Pashtun what comes first, Islam or Pashtun-
wali, and he will invariably answer: “Pashtunwali.” - Gant

RandyB said...

This sounds like a good short-term idea. But there's a good column on Vdare today about why reducing terrorism will require the empowerment of Muslim women, and returning to tribal feudalism won't get there.

Edward said...

I've read the first 22 pages of the Grant pdf... It's a bit niave.

I quote
The one that concerned him [tribal leader] most was a bad situation within his own tribe. I will not get into the specifics of the different clans and sub-clans but there was a "highland" people and a "lowland" people/ Noorafzhal's tribe included people whose physical location is on both sides of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. The highland people had taken and were using some land that belonged to the lowland people. The Malik told me the land had been given to his tribe by the "King Of Afghanistan" many, many years ago and that he would show me the papers.

highland/lowland dynamic sounds awfully familiar, does it not?

What if the Taliban is an ethnic vehicle for the interests of the "highland" nomads? (Ghilzai Pashtun?).

Gant's solution was to arm the settled, civil "lowland" Pashtuns - he helped them get their land back from the highlanders.

This IMO isn't going to address one of the principle dynamics responsible for the conflict.

Steve Sailer said...

Oh, come now, rivalries between highlanders and lowlanders on the other side of the globe for the best goat pasturage? It shouldn't take American more than 200, 300 years tops to settle that.

Pissed Off Chinaman said...

"I'll remind folks that withdrawing the legions from Britain did not preserve the Empire either, for the Romans. Retreat becomes a habit."

The Romans never should have conqueored Britain in the first place. The payoff was never greater than the cost and it absorbed three legions that should have been on the Rhine and Danube.

Truth said...

"US should have divided Afghanistan into separate nations--"

Yup, and erected an invisible forcefield to keep the Taliban and Al-Queda out of the areas they were not supposed to be in.

Or, in order to prevent soldiers from getting killed they could have just erected fences between the different fifedoms and brought 40,000 U.S. Soldiers over to police them...oh wait, strike that.

Anonymous said...

Had to beat off the homosexuals who kept waking us up.

You might want to rephrase that Luke, then again, maybe not...

Mr. Anon said...

"Anonymous said...

Gee, another great sounding scheme by some up and coming thinker. Let's see, we'll manipulate the Afghans into doing our bidding for us. The premise seems to be that they are way too dumb to ever realize the foreigners are attempting to use them. Hardly an original concept, it's been tried before in other places.The hubris of it all staggers me. It'll make some careers for a few grand strategists, never mind the actual results."

I agree. The hubris that America now displays in world affairs is shockingly arrogant and vulgar. How would these military policy officials like it if some foreign nabob casually discoursed on how to arrange OUR society so as to implement THEIR policy goals.

As to breaking up Afghanistan into small tribal areas - I don't think we have to do anything on that score other than just leave. They break up fine on their own.

headache said...

Middletown Girl sed
US should have divided Afghanistan into separate nations--like what happened to Yugoslavia--when we went in following 9/11.


Shoulda. This would have been the solution for South Africa as well. But the US has an aversion against this federal approach. Apparently the multicultural ideology prevalent at Foggy Bottom or the intelligence agencies. Or worried about more attendees at the UN. Dunno, but the US has been one of the major blockers of separatism in the years since WWII.

nostril said...

Whiskey sed:
No it is not Steve. This is directly out of the "Anbar Awakening" which IIRC you predicted would fail (it succeeded) by balancing both local tribal needs and a very loose but relatively effective government. It's the Iraq model, corrupt but not overly heavy, and providing a mechanism for tribes to settle differences short of fighting.


one little detail Whiskey left out was the presence of 150 000 US troops to keep this dingy and fragile construct going. And of course their cost at USD 1 Billion a day. Of course we need all this to keep the leggy Iraqi babes with nukes in their handbags out of NYC! (apparently they're welcome without the nukes).

headache said...

Why is it that Whisky's post on this topic is such a bore?

David said...

Steve said

> Oh, come now, rivalries between highlanders and lowlanders on the other side of the globe for the best goat pasturage? It shouldn't take American more than 200, 300 years tops to settle that. <

Once again, you entirely fail to understand the nuclear threat posed by goats.

Simon said...

Whiskey:
"Afghanistan was well and conquered by Alexander and Ghenghis, but those guys did not fool around. Afghanis are not invincible."

Will Obama take a Pashtun princess as his second wife?

Simon said...

Mr Anon:
"How would these military policy officials like it if some foreign nabob casually discoursed on how to arrange OUR society so as to implement THEIR policy goals..."

Likud do that, right?

Middletown Girl said...

Maybe the US military should supply every Afghani with a laptop and facebook acct. Afghanis from every corner will become friends. Even disagreements will be in the form of discussions. And, they won't have any time for terrorism or insurgency if they're networking all day and night.

Ronduck said...

Whiskey, I like the analogy with Roman Britain.

ben tillman said...

For most of the decade, I've been pointing out that feudalism would work better in Afghanistan than nation-building. Europeans came up with feudalism to defend themselves from the Vikings after the breakup of Charlemagne's empire.

Feudalism arose in the eighth century as a result of the introduction of the stirrup to Europe. See Medieval Technology and Social Change by Lynn White:

"Few inventions have been so simple as the stirrup, but few have had so catalytic an influence on history. The requirements of the new mode of warfare which it made possible found expression in a new form of western European society dominated by an aristocracy of warriors endowed with land so that they might fight in a new and highly specialized way."

ben tillman said...

US should have divided Afghanistan into separate nations--like what happened to Yugoslavia--when we went in following 9/11.

"We" didn't go in.

Anonymous said...

No, Whiskey, the moderate Islamic states do not want to make a deal with AQ because they know AQ would be coming after them next.

Mr. Anon said...

"headache said...

Why is it that Whisky's post on this topic is such a bore?"

Because Whiskey is a bore. An awful, monotonous, fat-headed bore.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said

"I don't think the Afghans are going to be adjusting to anything resembling a democracy any time soon:

http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=925_1259014393"

On the other hand, maybe we will go the way of Afghanistan

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NuQ4fFevaIM

Even though the officer was fired, he was promptly rehired by another department.

http://floridacops.net/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=43107

Another issue is the behavior of police officers working off duty as security guards, but I'll leave that to someone else to cover.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps there was no ignorance about what Steve points to but merely the keen desire not merely
to stop the terrorists but more
basically to usher into existance an Afghan state / society / to complement the needs of global
corporations in trade, finance,
low-wage manufacturing. Priorities?