TCS Daily

Help Wanted

By Alan W. Dowd - September 14, 2006 12:00 AM

Five years after it spawned 9/11, Afghanistan is no longer under the control of the medieval Taliban and its al Qaeda partners. That's the good news. The bad news is that five years after 9/11, it doesn't appear that Afghanistan is under anyone's control. A US-led NATO force is trying to change that, but its work is far from over. Indeed, to paraphrase Churchill, NATO's Afghanistan mission is closer to the end of the beginning than the beginning of the end.

It has been a bloody September for NATO and its sometimes-squeamish membership. At least 14 British troops died when their plane went down on September 2, and five Canadians were killed last week -- a week punctuated by a massive bombing in the heart of Kabul that killed two American troops and more than a dozen Afghanis. As The Washington Post reported, the attacks have "brought what was an almost exclusively rural insurgency to the Afghan capital." A British general told the Post that his troops are coming under a dozen attacks per day.

In short, NATO is learning that Afghanistan is not a peacekeeping mission in Europe. This is a counterinsurgency war in one of the most remote and hostile places on earth. By my count, the toll of Afghanistan's Bloody September already exceeds NATO's combat losses in the Balkans.

With NATO trying to assert itself beyond Kabul, the Taliban regrouping, and Pakistan taking an unacceptable and underserved break from the war, fresh bloodshed was inevitable in what might be called the forgotten front of the war on terror.

Given the risks, perhaps it should come as no surprise that NATO's commitment to, and durability in, Afghanistan remain to be seen. Last week, for instance, NATO commander Gen. James Jones said alliance members have only contributed 85 percent of the forces they pledged to stabilize Afghanistan's broken and battered landscape. He then conceded that NATO's Afghanistan force needs as many as 2,500 more soldiers, an additional squadron of attack helicopters and more heavy transport planes.

It is to be hoped that NATO members will rise to the challenge when their military chiefs meet this weekend in Warsaw. But we shouldn't hold our breath. The Germans, for instance, have sent signals that they are less than eager to wade into Afghanistan's hotspots.

The Canadians, who, to their credit, have been leading operations in Afghanistan's throbbing south, may have reached the end of their capabilities: Prior to Stephen Harper's election, Canada's defense budget was a paltry 1.1 percent of gross domestic product. As a consequence, the Canadian military is in a rebuilding mode. In fact, most of Canada's deployed troops have to be delivered by the US military. Worse, Canada has even had to turn to Russia and the United States for airlift assistance in responding to problems inside the country, such as flooding and ice storms.

The UK is doing its share in Afghanistan and Iraq.

As for NATO's other European members, Gen. Jones has every right to expect more. As Lt. Col. Stephen Coonen detailed in a recent essay in Parameters, NATO's European contingent fields some 2.3 million active-duty troops and another 3.04 million reserves. The US, by comparison, has 1.5 million troops on active duty -- and active is the operative word for the American military these days -- and less than a million reserves.

Of course, after years of miniscule investments in defense, NATO's continental contingent may not have much more than troops to offer. For the rest of what a 21st-century military alliance needs to dominate the battle space -- weaponry, heavy-lift capabilities, logistics, and command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (C4ISR) -- the United States is in a class by itself. As Lt. Gen. Michael Short, bluntly concluded after the air war above Kosovo, "We've got an A Team and a B Team now." Consider, as evidence, a study by The Economist, which revealed that only 10 percent of NATO's European combat aircraft were capable of precision bombing during the Kosovo War.

This didn't just happen by accident or by fate. The United States invests in defense and security. Europe, by and large, does not. The US spends about 4 percent of its GDP on the common defense, Europe less than 2 percent. Individual numbers are just as disappointing: France invests just 2.6 percent of GDP, Italy 1.8 percent, Germany 1.5 percent. Washington's 2003 increase in military spending, by way of example, was actually more than the total defense outlays of any European government.

During the Balkan wars that scarred Europe in the 1990s, it seemed that Europe's spirit was willing but the body was weak. Today, it's not even clear if the spirit is willing. Afghanistan will provide the answer.

If, as NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer has said, the alliance is committed to "creating a secure, stable and prosperous Afghanistan," then it's time for NATO's European members to step up and prove it.

Alan W. Dowd is a senior fellow at Sagamore Institute for Policy Research.



blame the French
The Bush admnistration has created two disasters in the middle east. The smaller one (population and death rate) is Afganistan. The larger is Iraq. Even if the French swoop in to rescue Afganistan (unlikely) the bigger mess will remain.

Neocon hawks today are like alcoholics in denial. The first step towards recovery is to recognize the cause of the problem -- incompetence (and worse) in the Bush administration. They invaded Afganistan with too few troops to secure the peace. But for Iraq, there would have been plenty of troops.

Why not 'mea culpa'?
Why not blame yourself for being a 'monday morning quaterback'? It's easy to fight a war from the comfort of your suburban home in your easy chair in front of your plasma TV. But fighting is not too easy for those who actually have to do it. Just ask Churchill, Patton, Sherman, Rommel, Napoleon, etc. BTW if they had really done what they need to secure the peace, liberals like you might then blame them for being, say 'disproportionate', cruel, insenstive to the rights of terroritsts, breaking the marquis of queensburies rules. Remember, since WW11 western forces are in the habit of fighting with one arm tied behind their backs. They not only don't want to have any casulties on their own side, but they don't even want casualites among the enemy side.

Nation building
It should be a primary assumption that you cannot transform a nation by finding it reduced to rubble, bombing it to further rubble, and expecting the survivors to then all become good Democrats and Republicans. You have to do some building up.

A way to begin would have been to put some money on the street. Afghanistan over the past 27 years has been devastated. Someone needs to clean it up. And what do we find? Standing around on every street corner and village is an army of unemployed people desperate to find some way to survive. At the prevailing wages, couldn't we have found some paltry sum to devote to putting them to gainful employment?

Instead, barring that brilliant strategy, we've seen them go back to the only thing happening-- opium production. And we've tried to stamp that out! We can't see that destroying opium without offering an alternative is just telling them to drop off a cliff? Now that the Taliban is coming back-- by default-- what did we expect was going to happen?

This is what happens when you have a military mentality trying to address a problem with a nonmilitary solution. What Afghanistan needs is small scale development.

The lowest costing solution is in this instance also the most effective solution. Pay people to do something worthwhile with their lives. I would first proceed by buying up this year's opium crop in its entirety and building some generators to burn it and convert it into electricity.

That way maybe we could get a job base started and teach them a dependency on wage earning, rather than just sitting idly by while they sign up for the mujahedeen and agin go off to bring down the government.

No Subject
Sweet Roy,

"..A way to begin would have been to put some money on the street"

Security first, economy second. Try standing on a street corner in the South Bronx handing out money. Or Baghdad, Moscow, Rome or Kabul.

Third world countries have enough resources in people; time, materials and skill to build relatively fair economies. What they don't have is secure property rights to their own bodies, land, or real property. Kings, socialists, taxmen, thugs, Mullahs all position by hook, crook or force between the working laborer, tradesmen, and merchant and trader.

These thugs by many names are like sand in a engine of progress.
Your suggestion of rich, white, soft cash carrying NGO do-gooders would, as they do, get eaten alive in seconds in much of the world, because that is the economy, man preying upon man like wolves upon lambs. Physical predation is the economy and it is done by men with RPGs, heavy machine guns that fire stapler size bullets for miles that will penetrate steel and reduce concrete blocks to dust. You might thus suggest that locals do the handing out, they will steal, take off, lose, or you will have to hire so many that no money will reach the poor. Naturally the thugs will present themselves to you or your organization as ‘security’, or else. They will be shrewd enough to, at great cost, allow the program to continue on for years, while they also, unknown to you steal from those that you have managed to get money too. In other words, they will play you for a sucker for years.
Some books for you. Paul Therox, Dark Star. After that a little more numerical, Hernando de Soto's The Other Path.

Your a fine one to be complaining about people in denial.

If Afghanistan is lost
you can blame the drug warriors, who thought it was more important to kill poppy plants, than to kill Talibani.

funny thing
to a liberal, the answer to every problem is spreading cash out to the people you want to love you.

drug dealers are venture capitalists filling a need
I thought you were in favor of that, Mark.

Apparently you can't read
But then we've known that for years.

If you will check with my posts, you will find that I have always been against the war on drugs. In fact I got into a spat with superheater on that very issue, just yesterday.

So why are you against druglords in Afghanistan?
Why do you say they're a problem, not a solution.

The economy always comes first
The South Bronx is the perfect example. In the late 70s no amount of security made this a safe area-- unemployment was officially around 40%, and unofficially much higher. Young men had nothing better to do than to destroy things. The problem was intractable, and the police were at the limit of their resources just to protect thenselves-- just as in today's Iraq.

So we went into a socialist Iraq, where the government was the employer for most people, and took down the government to the ground. Unemployment soared to 70%. And then we fired the army, of all the bright moves. How surprised we were when the consequence was a vigorous insurgency. Duhh.

What solved the South Bronx was prosperity-- an economic r4esurgence so strong it actually hit the streets and offered jobs to young men with few prospects. You don't see that there aren't many people willing to pursue the gang life when they have a job to go to and a family to raise?

The formula would work just fine in Iraq. If we had actually thought about nation building instead of nation wrecking, they wouldn't be so mad at us they were willing to blow themselves up in our faces. There aren't many men willing to do that when they have a job to go to and a family to raise.

You don't hand out cash for nothing. You hand out jobs. You say "Here's a shovel. There's a pile of bricks. Clean it up and see me at the end of the day." This approach works like a charm. I've used it to good effect in the inner city ghetto for years.

And I've found even murderers usually make good employees. Offer them something regular and they put down their guns every time. I've put young men to work in the middle of the crack wars, and the worst I find is that some will walk off the job.

Re your objections: Don't give your money to anyone expecting them to do this thing right. You have to be the foreman yourself. And I never needed security. My promise to be there the next day, and to pay as agreed when the job was done, was security enough.

Places like Afghanistan already have lots of property rights. The landowners own all the property. This has been the case for the past thousand years, and hasn't helped them progress. They need work.

I've read Hernan de Soto. And I understand Alan Garcia put the magic to work some years back (late 80s). As I recall it didn't work out too well.

(Wikipedia states that Garcia, having hired de Soto as his economic guru, put Peru into a tailspin that during his five years in office produced a cumulative inflation rate of 2,200,200%. Impressive. When he devalued the sol, the rate was one billion old soles to one new sol. Oh, and poverty increased.)

But he does have some good ideas. And he and Garcia are now at it again, having recently regained the helm in Peru. So let's see whether he does any better the second time around.

I'm quite aware of your rhetoric. Given your rhetoric, the question remains
Why are Afghan verture capitalist drug entrepreneurs a problem rather than the solution?

Big reason
That money is feeding the insurgents.

when you figure out the difference between a drug warrior, and a drug lord
maybe, just maybe, you will have the beginning of a clue.

Then tax them
and have it feed NATO. Which, by the way, today rejected sending reinforcements.

I never said they were the problem
I said the drug warriors were the problem.

i read your post
I cannot believe how low eric's reading comprehension level is. You flatly stated is was the those more interested in "killing poppy seeds than Taliban". How do you translate that into being against the drug growers and sellers?

I would say that one way to slow down the insurgency is to help the farmers grow more poppies and help them market it. But, alas, that could give the illusion that we are supporting the opium and heroin trade; we can't have that, looks bad on the "international War on Drugs" resume.

as you well know
I am not in favor of the war on drugs in this country.
The fact that the drug warriors may cost us the victory in Afghanistan makes my blood boil.

At a minimum, couldn't they just look the other way for a couple of years?
One problem at a time guys.

Forget NATO. It's time to accept that the Euroweenies are more trouble than they are worth.
1. Their governments of the Western armies insist on rules of engagement that are so restrictive they make them useless and insprire the contempt of local nationals. Some of the Eatern European armies may be a little too trigger happy (at least the Bulgarians are in my experience).
2. We let them deploy to safe places so we can pretend they are helping. What are the Germans doing in Kabul? I doubt it's actually helpful, yet they add to the logisitical strain.

As long as the Taliban have a safe haven in Pakistan, there will be some fighting. The Bush administration needs to address that situation and do something about poppy growing (ignore it, buy the crop, persecute the hell out of growers...).
The US should replce the NATO element with 2 US brigades. We should withdraw from Korea. That frees up one or two more brigades to rotate right there. Next year we should have fewer troops in Iraq next year also.

Various jackasses in Congress like to say the Iraq campaign keeps us from getting Bin Laden in Afghanistan. He's not in Afghanistan. He's in Pakistan. Who wants to invade that country?

some of the money feeds the insurgents
a lot of it goes to the same people it has gone to for the last 1000 years. The farmers and local tribal leaders.

you're right; you did
But now, the huge spike in drug production is said to be a problem. Do we ignore it?

so the increase in production is no problem?
and we should encourage it?

So: what's U.S. policy?
Help us out here. We accept the lords but kill the warriors? Encourage the trade? Turn a blind eye?

Sure. Lucky we have so many troops of our own troops to fill the gap
Pull them from Korea?? OK, lucky there's no threat in Korea, right...

>Next year we should have fewer troops in Iraq next year also.

And we believe this why??

>Various jackasses in Congress like to say the Iraq campaign keeps us from getting Bin Laden in Afghanistan. He's not in Afghanistan. He's in Pakistan. Who wants to invade that country?

No. What many sources have said was that Special forces had Bin Laden cornered in Afghanistan when they were withdrawn to go to Iraq and replaced with Afghan forces. Who let Saddam escapte.

>He's not in Afghanistan. He's in Pakistan. Who wants to invade that country?

Pakistan's our ally, but has granted him de-facto amnesty, and won't disturb him. What should we do??

I wonder
"Pakistan's our ally, but has granted him de-facto amnesty, and won't disturb him. What should we do??"

He is in a part of Pakistan that the Pakistanis don't even control.

The Canadians have to do more. If we do more, then we shame countries that don't.

I wonder if the US sould do itself a favour and just donate the Equipment that Canada needs right now so we can take the pressure off?

That idea has my vote
We'll even pay for the transport and provide supply and support.

Maybe help is coming ...
(no pun intended).
Rumour mill churning over the MacKay-Rice relationship
Article Tools
Published: Thursday, September 14, 2006

OTTAWA - Politics, as the old adage goes, is like show business for ugly people.

So when two of the only high-ranking politicians in Canada and the U.S. to have looks, charisma and star-power start getting friendly in public, it doesn't take long for rumours to start flying on both sides of the border.

Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice met in Nova Scotia this week to mark the fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and discuss trade issues.

Sure he is...
>He is in a part of Pakistan that the Pakistanis don't even control.

And a part of Pakistan that the Pakistanis won't let outside troops into, or accept aid from outside troops to bring it under government control. Lucky they're our ally...

If the Canadians can get him, more power to 'em.

Lucky they're our ally...
We are cursed with such good luck.

Canadian troops still scouring Pashmul for Taliban fighters
Renata D'Aliesio, CanWest News Service
Published: Thursday, September 14, 2006

PASHMUL, Afghanistan - The school is nothing more than rubble now.

Ten days ago, it was the launching pad for an assault that killed four Canadian soldiers. A month before that, three Canadians died in a 12-hour battle for the school after the Taliban formed a horseshoe around the white building and started firing in all directions.

Today, it's one of several buildings in the Pashmul area being controlled by NATO troops as they continue to navigate through a web of booby traps, mines and other explosives around Pashmul, roughly 20 kilometres southwest of Kandahar city.

About the only thing soldiers didn't encounter Wednesday were Taliban fighters. And while NATO announced the offensive, which began nearly two weeks ago, is drawing to a close, troops on the ground weren't ready to call it over.

Too many hiding spots for the insurgents remain.

''That's the biggest rat's nest I've ever been in,'' platoon commander Jeffrey Bell said to his troops from Bravo Company's five platoon of the 1st Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment from Petawawa, Ont.



Man, you really don't know when to stop digging, do you.

It's none of our business in the first place.

since I've never been in favor of the war on drugs, why would I care if there is a spike in drug pro

I'd rather have them half in and half out
than declaring four square for the other side.
Especially considering the fact that they got nukes.

Good. You're consistent.
But others see it as a barrier to building a unified country

with friends like these, who needs enemies?
But what about the President's message after 9/11:

"...We make no distinction between those who commit acts of terror and those who support and harbor terrorists. We are working to disrupt the flow of resources from states to terrorists while simultaneously end state sponsorship of terrorism."

another good idea that didn't quite work out??

So what's your solution?
The Taliban is coming back, the NATO troops in fact aren't concentrating on opium, but opium is coming back too. Does this indicate things are working well?

You say: "What many sources have said was that Special forces had Bin Laden cornered in Afghanistan when they were withdrawn to go to Iraq and replaced with Afghan forces." You got it all wrong. At the battle of Tora Bora, high in the mountains, US conventional (not Special) forces and Afghan troops fought a big battle and killed many Talibani. OBL might have been there - if so he escaped. About this Sen. Kerry (aka Lurch)famously made the ludicrous assertion that if he were President he would have won the battle in the mountains of central Asia more decisively from his office in Washington. Napoleon had nothing on that boy.

Then you said; "Who let Saddam escapte". Were you under the impression Saddam is on the loose? He is on trial and will swing from a rope.

I disagree
The Canadian commanders of NATO at the time of the drug harvest met with the growers, and the growers pleaded with them to let the current harvest pass.

The Taliban are not coming back they are just putting up fierce resistance to being exterminated.

Suicide bombers in Kabul are signs of their weakness.

well maybe some do
but right now it is the Taliban that are in fact the barrier to building a unified country.
Another problem is Pakistan.
Pakistan it not a unified country.

The drug war is crazy. A cessation of hostilities on that front would go along way to mending the rift between democrats and republicans.

the problem is they are pissing of the locals by concentrating on opium

Musharaff isn't a terrorist, but he is threatened by terrorists
It's a good idea, but we shouldn't destroy a friend just because he isn't pure enough for your tastes.

He's sheltering Bin Laden, he has a-bombs, but we cut him a pass...
Remind me why we had to invade Iraq on an emergency basis...

Be another Lincoln
First, for what it's worth, I thought from the beginning that we needed more resources in Afganistan. Roy Bean puts the case well: you don't just shoot 'em up & ride out of town. Colin Powell put it well too: "you brake it, you own it."

Bush should act more like Lincoln, who fired generals who were not producing results. If the Taliban are surging in Afganistan and Iraq is descending into civil war, for Heaven's sake, have some accountability back home.

The economy always comes first
The SBronx was a island, an aberration in a lawful, wealthy society. Police, courts, records, prisons all exist. So, on a macro scale it isn't a good example at all.

Wilson, Rudolf Guliani and the NYPD all must have been figments. The Police were no where at their limits, they were, political and functional, poorly led and organized. New York as an entire city was eroding into un civil, crime ridden pit with declining wealthy and middle class. The city revitalized with the voters voting for succession of non lefty, non liberal, more or less old time democrats masquerading as Republicans. You had security, NYPD.

Iraq was not and has never been a socialist economy. It was a single commodity extraction enterprise led by an organized crime syndicate. Function trumps form. A thing is what it does. Iraq was not Sweden.

I don’t believe you or what you state about murders as a labor force. Males with criminal records make lousy employees. Unless you are running a tax sucking make work project that needs bodies to justify a few more years of employment for the social staff.

There are no civil courts, land offices, title papers, neutral agents in Afganistan. Rights are at the barrel of a gun.

Actually, poor people need less work, more income. Everything in third world is labor intensive and usually unprofitable and, literally, un capitalistic.

I don’t believe de Soto would offer anything but free market rates for a nation’s currency. Rates you post, which I don’t believe, are of flat out printing press, a la socialist Weimer Republic. If you have read any de Soto, you would know this.

Anyways, there are 40 or more failure states which you are welcome to prove your notions for the sure victory of the liberals burden.

firing generals
In one way it's OK for military that is under civilian command to fire generals, but like everything else in the world it has good and maybe bad points; like you might fire the wrong guys. For example Hitler fired Rommel, and the US fired the American hero gen. MacArthor. If he had stayed in control there would have been no red china, no vietnam war, no north korea problem. Also, what about this angle re war? I've just read that recently in afghanistan a US drone spotted about 100 terrorists at a funeral of one of their fallen comrades. These 100 guys could have been taken out then and there, but it wasn't prez Bush who vetoed it, and it wasn't even the local general who vetoed; you know who? yes some crappy lawyer in the JAG dept or whatever they call that. See what I mean about fighting with one arm tied behind your back? Now of those 100 let free to go to battle again, how many of western soldiers will those guys kill? Too bad.

Observation always trumps theory
I doubt anything I say will enlighten you, but here goes.

The South Bronx works just fine as an example. Whenever the job base collapses you get social dysfunction, manifested in lawlessness and aberrant behaviors. In the SB that point was achieved when the jobless rate went above 35%. The principle involved is very simple: what do you propose these people do with their lives when they can no longer earn a legitimate living?

Second point: all Baath parties are socialist in their approach-- the state carries the burden of providing full employment. Iraq has a population of 28 million. are you telling me there was no employment other than in the oil industry? And the other 27 million people were all just sitting on their hands?

Let's take the concrete industry, for example. Iraq is one of those places where most buildings are made of concrete. So they made quite a lot of it, down at the state owned concrete factory. Enough to employ about 40,000 people-- plus the truck drivers, the contractors, the finishers...

When we shut down the government (April-June, 2003) we shut down the concrete business, throwing all those people out of work. (We did the same with all the other state-owned industries.)

Naturally this did not address our own need for large quantities of concrete. So Halliburton purchased shiploads of the most expensive concrete on earth and had the bulk product shipped, at public expense, halfway around the earth. Halliburton was working on a cost-plus contract, and made more money by choosing the most expensive material available. They then imported Filipinos to work the concrete, shutting the Iraqis out of the work they were creating.

Troops involved in interdiction of insurgents say a significant number among them have been the unemployed and desperate. In fact the constant suicide bombers are recruited largely from this category. To be jobless in wartime Iraq, a place with no social insurance, means that you have no means of survival.

This is also the reason behind the sky-high crime rates in a formerly orderly society.

We broke the place purposely. The insurgency is largely the result of our policy of purposeful disemployment (with help from the Baath and from foreign adventurers).

But your approach to understanding my comments is remarkable. Here I am telling you, for instance, from a career's worth of experience that I have employed murderers and find them to be good employees. And you tell me that since the theories you have in your head can't cope with this message from reality, my reality must be mistaken!

Instead you offer me gems like "Actually, poor people need less work, more income." Apparently if they would just give up seeking paid employment they could better concentrate on their investment portfolio.

Likewise the very thoroughly described meltdown in Garcia's Peru is accessible through your search engine. You could look it up, but that would shatter your assumptions. The fact is that when de Soto's theories were first tried out in the real world, the number of Peruvians in poverty increased, the sol went insane and the economy collapsed.

One spinoff was that the value of real estate in the poor neighborhoods doubled, as that was a value he was solving the economic puzzle for. So I suppose the victims of his theories could always eat their houses. They surely couldn't sell them, as the money was valueless.

Common sense dictates that when people's jobs get taken from them, society collapses. In your world, populated by liberal and conservative stick figures, what do people do when masses of them who used to be employed suddenly no longer have any means of gaining a living?

And just how is he sheltering Bin Laden?
You have already conceeded that he has no control over the areas in which Bin Laden is hiding.

Pakistan had nukes long before Bush came to office.

Rational people realize that you have to treat countries who are trying to get nukes differently from people who already have them.

This isn't complicated: he's refused to gain control
>You have already conceeded that he has no control over the areas in which Bin Laden is hiding.

That's his choice. He has an army. we've also offered him military help to bring it under control. He says no.

How is this not sheltering Bin Laden.

as for the nukes - Yes, he's had 'em for a while. Is this supposed to be a good thing?

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