September 15, 2008

Is Afghanistan a place to economize?

The U.S. has been fighting in Afghanistan for seven years now. We achieved excellent returns in the first few months, but since then we've mostly just been sucked into that useless place's endless knuckleheadedness.

Has the U.S. government ever explained to the vast Pashtun tribe on what terms honor would be satisfied and we would leave? (E.g., Deliver Osama alive or prove that he is dead? Rename their movement something other than "Taliban?" Understand that if they ever tolerate anti-American terrorists again, we'll be back, and really mad this time?) I suspect we could reach a meeting of the minds with the Pashtuns more easily if we phrased all our demands in terms of "honor demands that ..."

If Barack Obama wins, he should appoint McCain to be Ambassor to the Barbarian Tribes (which was Sir Richard Burton's de facto title within the British Foreign Office). McCain is exactly the kind of man the Pashtuns would feel sympatico with.

Still, the idea of negotiating a final peace agreement with the Pashtuns is probably unlikely. I'm not sure that the concept of "war" and "peace" as mutually exclusive periods of time is one that they subscribe to. To them, fighting is kind of like the professional golf season is to Americans -- something that, whether formally or informally, goes from early January to late December with a one week break for Christmas. Just as somebody somewhere is always playing golf for money, somebody somewhere in Pashtunland is always fighting somebody else.

But the Establishment view seems to be swinging in the direction of Obama's suggestion that we instead amp up the war in Afghanistan and widen the war into Pakistan, a country of 170,00,000. After Musharraf's fall, Bush has publicly allowed crossing the border into Pakistan. Perhaps some commandos can grab Osama (assuming he is still alive) and we can be done with it.

But even if that happened our "allies" in Afghanistan would probably insist we stay. We always seem to end up at the service of our supposed puppets in country. The anti-Pashtun/Taliban folks in Afghanistan have been telling us for years, "Let's you and them fight."

By the way, speaking of Pakistan, Obama was close friends with three Pakistanis he hung out with at posh Occidental liberal arts college in LA. (That's when he changed his name from Barry to Barack.) That's why he went to Pakistan in 1981, which is just about the only foreign trip he ever took unconnected with his parents. And he later roomed in NYC for years with another Pakistani that he knew through his Oxy friends.

UPDATE: In Pakistan in 1981, Obama stayed at the estate of the man who was recently caretaker Prime Minister after his boss, Gen. Musharraf, quit. Although Obama recently boasted of how much foreign policy expertise he gained from this trip, he didn't mention it in Dreams from My Father since it didn't have much to do with his story of race and inheritance.

Obama's youthful connection to Pakistani bigshots is not particularly remarkable. Imagine an American student at Amherst in the 19th Century who makes friends with the tiny number of Italian students there, and goes to visit Italy with his classmate. His friends would almost certainly belong to a politically influential network of Italian families. Of course, if the American later ran for President, it would be interesting to know which network of Italian families he had connections to.

Still, Obama sure has a lot of odd Muslim connections -- like Tony Rezko being in bed with the Black Muslims in Chicago. I don't see any evidence that Obama ever had a spiritual interest in Islam. As he admitted in connection with his Muslim grandfather, the youthful Obama saw both Islam and the Nation of Islam as being anti-white and anti-miscegenation (his grandfather had denounced his parents' marriage), so Obama vaguely approved of both religions, without, as far as I can tell, caring much about their theology.

Obama's Pakistani friends no doubt came from wealthy, influential families within Pakistan. Does anybody know what their political connections are within Pakistan, since they've probably helped shape Obama's view of that complicated and obscure part of the world?


Anonymous said...

>>>>"Let's you and them fight."

Whatever happened to the Northern Alliance? Wasn't that an Indian supported network that made the initial push that unseated the Taliban? Did they all get a sinecure and go home?

Anonymous said...

The Soviet Union was mired for ten years, from 1979 to 1989, in a grim battle of attrition in Afghanistan which they eventually gave up as helpless. It resulted in many Soviet deaths, lowered morale among troops in particular and the Soviet people in general, and probably hastened the collapse of the USSR. When we invaded the place a little less than seven years ago, and declared victory after a few months, it almost made me proud to be an American. Now... we're looking more and more like the Soviets.

Anonymous said...

We could have saved ourselves a lot of trouble, if only our defence / foreign policy / intelligence elite had read a few of the "Flashman" books. There's more wisdom in there about dealing with the benighted savages of the world than has ever been taught at the Kennedy School.

Anonymous said...

If you were willing to do 3 and a half seconds of googling (that's G-O-O-G-L-E), you"d find all the info you want. Chandoo and "sadik" have been written up in the New York Times and the AP (one lives in Armonk, NY, the other in Seattle). Google Obama, Larkana, and Soomro.

Obama's other friend at Occidental was Indian (Vinai Thummalapally), from Andhra. He is now in Colorado.

On another note, the Daily Waqt reported that Obama's mother worked as an agricultural consultant in Gujranwala in the 80s. Again, Pakistaniat did a big long post about all that.

I have an idea -- why don't you rip off all the work everyone else has done, pretend you were the first to write about it, then whine incessently about how you don't get any credit when any other media outlet even vaguely references the same topic.

Ali said...

Here's the Pakistaniat round-up on Obama's Pakistan connections.

Anonymous said...

I find it discouraging that the human genome/culture has given rise to rude people like 'Steve Sailer is an Idiot said...'

Maybe I'm too thin skinned for the internet.

Anonymous said...

Steve -- Please add the Daily Waqt to your reading. ASAP.

Anonymous said...

Update? Not quite. It's like saying Kennebunkport is the estate of George W. Bush. A 31 year old is not a paterfamilias. Especially not in Pakistan. Especially not when the father is such a political big shot.

Close though. But the nutbars are moving a little faster than you on this. See the National Review. We're at the stage of the Stev-o-cyle where it's time to start complaining how you aren't getting credit.

Anonymous said...

Regarding Afghanistan, it's impossible to consider Afghanistan without Pakistan.

The "Establishment" by which you refer to Obama's foreign policy people, mostly Clinton retreads, are not serious. They merely give lip service to fighting in Afghanistan since they also can read a map, and know if they say what they really want to do, which is unilateral surrender to Islamic terrorism, they'd be soundly defeated.

Pretty much all bullets, bombs, water, food, fuel, medical supplies, and everything else troops in Afghanistan need goes through Pakistan. Which is falling apart. Bush is allowing cross-border raids precisely because Pakistan is falling apart:

The Taliban and AQ are attacking CHINESE military engineers building roads and bridges in Pakistan. This is SHOCKING since CHINA is Pakistan's ally against India, has been for decades, and has produced a series of threats by China to Pakistan's military to "fix this or else."

NATIONALISM is being trumped by Islam.

Second, there is the overriding concern of Pakistan's 100+ nukes. Bill Clinton decided in 1997-98 to accept the CIA's prediction that Pakistan was 15 years away from nukes, and do nothing. We are reaping the rewards of that decision. Nukes are scattered around Pakistan to prevent an Indian first strike, their security is questionable.

Pakistan's military and intelligence services are divided, along ethnic, tribal, and regional lines. Whole swaths along the Afghan frontier have been ceded to the Taliban under various agreements. The current Prime Minister is loathe to challenge the Islamists and the opposition, led by Nawaz Sharif, is an Islamist himself.

There is no possibility of a "deal" because there is no central authority. I find it shocking in man such as Steve who has written about tribal relations that he fails to understand the central fact about tribes: THERE IS NO CENTRAL AUTHORITY. Everyone from the Romans onward recognized this fact. Even agreements with tribal leaders can be broken at will by those wishing to supplant them. It's not like dealing with centralized nation-states such as Russia, or Japan, or China.

Here is the central fact: geography and Pakistan's 100+ nukes means we can only play for time to delay any defeat in Afghanistan, unlike Iraq where geography and the seacoast, excellent ports in Kuwait and Basra meant we could supply our forces with everything they needed (one central fact why we WON in Iraq).

Inevitably, a nuke or three will fall into the hands of AQ and the Taliban, which will use them on several of our cities. IF nothing else to draw money, men, and power to themselves as preeminent jihadists (like the Plains Souix counting coup -- same social dynamic).

THEN we will have to respond on a strategic level, dealing with uncertainty if it was Pakistan's nukes (perhaps and probably taken without central authority's knowledge) or perhaps Iran (which has taken enough uranium for the gun-type bomb out of Bushehr).

Welcome to our Science Fiction world: where even disorganized tribes can kill New York City. For reasons all to do with themselves, not us.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Steve, you must stop claiming credit for other peoples' work. All that stuff you wrote about Jeremiah Wright, starting about a year ago -- didn't the NYTimes precede you on that? And the insights you got from actually reading all of Obama's two books, especially when you said that Obama made Columbia University in 1983 sound like Mississippi in 1932 -- didn't you steal that phrase from Keith Olbermann of MSNBC? And that stuff about Obama's father being a bigamist and a drunk -- didn't Chris Matthews say that first?

Please, please stop plagiarizing, or we'll lose respect for you.

Anonymous said...

Yes, the life story of Barack Obama by now should be as familiar to everyone as the first couple books of the New Testament.

More evidence that the left thinks Obama is Jesus. (He's not.)

Anonymous said...

If Barack Obama wins, he should appoint McCain to be Ambassor to the Barbarian Tribes (which was Sir Richard Burton's de facto title within the British Foreign Office).

But Burton actually liked being an ambassador to barbarians. McCain wants to be Pres.

Obama's Pakistani friend who lives in Seattle is in telemarketing at Seattle's 5th Ave. Theater, which is largely funded by old money (and not the general public).

I have to admit I never really took to Pakistanis. Almost got into a fistfight with some of them in Hong Kong after they tried to hustle me. They'd run in gangs, and there was always some heavy-lidded fat guy behind the young ones.

Anonymous said...

testing 99,
You need to look at a map. We could supply our people in A-stan the same way the Russians did, through the Central Asian nations, Russia's backyard. To bad we pissed of Putin and Co. we could really use some of those facilities. But getting convoys attacked with vital equipment and supplies blown up or delayed keeps our people on their toes!
I mean, it isn't like Russia is going anywhere, we can always fight them after we take care of the muslims. And I'm cool with that, but one war at a time, if you don't mind. Though God forbid we try and develop a working relationship with them, but it probably wouldn't work anyway so why try? Much better to threaten them, aid their enemies and then do nothing and look like pussies, I suppose. But since antagonizing Russia is more important than making sure we supply our people so that we can, you know, keep them fed and fighting, I guess it is out of the question.
And what's all this concern about getting a mushroom cloud over an American city or two? Just regular, everday people gonna die. Big fucking deal.

Anonymous said...

halfbreed said...
"Now... we're looking more and more like the Soviets."

I remember the smirks on the faces of those old Soviet generals who had "been there, done that". Back then the media told us that the Soviets had done it the wrong way, and of course the US is “God’s own country”, so it has that divine touch and its crusade was morally justified whereas the Soviets were just ideologically evil. Anyway, how can the defeaters of those evil Nazi's make a mistake?

Turns out the Soviets were right. Obviously they knew something which the Brits had known before but somehow the Anglo-Americans had forgotten.