Are the Taliban winning?

I guess I would say that the Taliban are in the lead, but that overall the Muslim Afghan people are — as always — winning against foreign Christian-Pagan occupiers. As long as we are in Afghanistan to nation-build and “protect Afghans,” we are losing. As long as we are senseless enough to deem all those who fight us as “takfiris” — the most extreme of religious Muslims — we are losing. As long as we are led by generals who prefer “shielding Afghans” at the cost of dead soldiers and Marines, we are losing. As long as we continue to permit the Indians to keep increasing their presence in Afghanistan, we are losing. As long as we are encouraging Asif Ali Zadari and the Pakistani Army to worsen the civil war in their country, we are losing. As long as we continue trying to build a strong central government in Kabul, we are losing. As long as we are supporting the corrupt and incompetent Hamid Karzai and his family, we are losing. As long as we are to afraid to deal harshly with the Saudis and other Gulf states that are funneling aid to the Taliban, we are losing. As long as the resupply lines for our soldiers and Marines run through enemy territory in the Pakistani tribal zone and the Russian Federation, we are losing. As long as we believe that any number of elections in Afghanistan will ever make a difference, we are losing. As long as we believe we have as much time as we need to get our act together in Afghanistan, we are losing.

What if Osama calls Obama’s bluff?

As is the custom of American interventionists, President Obama spoke in Cairo as if our Islamist enemies have no vote in how their conflict with the United States will henceforth proceed. The adolescent geniuses who wrote Obama’s speech apparently spent no time at all perusing what Osama bin Laden and other Islamists have said or written over the past 13 years, and especially since 2001. At repeated points in that corpus of material, for example, bin Laden has offered a truce to the United States and its allies on terms eerily similar to those Obama described in Cairo as the intentions of his administration.

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Obama’s Afghan-ignorant policy guide

With much ballyhooing, Bruce Riedel led a team that conducted the Obama administration’s “review” of Afghan policy. As is known, the team’s deliberations produced a wonder of either naiveté or stupidity, or perhaps both: 21,000 more U.S. troops to control a country the size of Texas, and a logistical system running vital U.S.-NATO resupply lines through hostile territory in Pakistan and — with Russia’s gleeful support for keeping America bleeding in Afghanistan — the Commonwealth of Independent States. The question must be asked how a man as intelligent as Riedel came up with a plan that amounts to massively reinforcing failure.

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Osama, Obama, and torture

In surprisingly good English, the captive quietly answers: “Yes, all thanks to God, I do know when the mujahideen will, with God’s permission, detonate a nuclear weapon in the United States, and I also know how many and in which cities.” Startled, the CIA interrogators quickly demand more detail. Smiling his trademark shy smile, the captive says nothing. Reporting the interrogation’s results to the White House, the CIA director can only shrug when the president asks: “What can we do to make Osama bin Laden talk?”

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The Accidental Guerrilla and the deliberate interventionist

The Australian soldier and anthropologist Dr. David Kilcullen’s new book — The Accidental Guerrilla, Fighting Small Wars in the Midst of a Big One (Oxford, 2009) — is receiving a good deal of attention as the manual with which the Obama administration will forge a successful conclusion to the U.S.-NATO campaign in Afghanistan. The title, The Accidental Guerrilla, refers to those locals living in an insurgent environment who pick up weapons and fight counterinsurgent forces because of tribal mores, because they like to fight, because the West has invaded, or because they are intimidated by what Kilcullen claims to be the limited number of dedicated insurgents or jihadists, in the case of Iraq, Afghanistan, or other Muslim locales. This being the case, Kilcullen argues, the U.S.-NATO goal in Afghanistan should be to split the “accidental guerrillas” away from the jihadists. Echoes of Kilcullen’s thesis can already be heard in public statements by Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair, Afghanistan guru Bruce Reidel, and others who have claimed that up to 75 percent of the Afghan insurgents can be peeled away from the Taliban and its allies and brought over to Karzai’s regime.

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Professor Dershowitz encounters a worrying future

On 25 March 2009, I participated in a “Doha Debate” held at Georgetown University under the auspices of the Qatar-Based Doha Foundation. The Oxford Union-style question before the house was: “This house believes that it is time for the U.S. administration to get tough with Israel.” The “no” team consisted of Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz and former Israeli foreign ministry adviser Dore Gold. On the “yes” team were myself and Avraham Burg, a former speaker of Israel’s Knesset. Each speaker made a 2-minute opening statement and then was question by the moderator, Tim Sebastian. Thereafter, the debaters fielded questions from the audience for about an hour, and then the audience voted. The “yes” team won 67-percent of the vote, the “no” team 33-percent.

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