Wednesday Highlights

Good, err, evening.

  1. Woops.
  2. Homeopathic government tricks.
  3. Faith rising.
  4. Marriage and martyrdom.
  5. Progress and machine.
  6. So, what was the tactical/strategic reason given
  7. Just slightly cute. And … from the same site, scary ice-cream, which I link in part because as my kids grew up, we always called the ice cream truck the “child catcher” from Chitty-Bang fame.
  8. Well, I had to link this from the title, being that I’m an Orthodox Christian who was led to that path by a Catholic (Chesterton in my case).
  9. Structure, cycle, or just a needs a little push.
  10. Nations top schools.
  11. Voting.

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  1. Steve Hayes says:

    Well, I had to link this from the title, being that I’m an Orthodox Christian who was led to that path by a Catholic (Chesterton in my case).

    Well I’m a fan of Chesterton too, and he played a part, though mainly through a book he wrote while still an Anglican.

  2. Boonton says:

    6.So, what was the tactical/strategic reason given?

    What’s the strategic reason for not pulling out? Bin Laden’s dead. The fact that he was living quite comfortable in Pakistan, not Afghanistan demonstrates that controlling every desolate mountain in Afghanistan is the ticket to denying Al Qaeda a base of operations.

    Fred Kaplan on makes some telling observations:

    There haven’t been many al-Qaida fighters, or Taliban militants with the ability or inclination to launch attacks beyond Afghan borders, for eight or nine years.

    One reason why so few of these most militant terrorists have crossed the Pakistani border into Afghanistan is, of course, the presence of 100,000 U.S. troops. The question is whether these terrorists will remain bottled up after one-third of the American ground troops go home. The Afghan army has grown larger and stronger in the last couple of years, but will its troops be able to step in with the same, or at least sufficient, effectiveness? That’s one of the gambles in this decision.

    Indeed its a gamble but where do you want terrorists to hang, in nuclear armed Pakistan or sheep powered Afghanistan?

    The problem is a COIN in the long run IMO:

    In the deliberations over Afghan war strategy that occupied the administration for much of the last few months of 2009, Biden was opposed by the majority of top military officers, as well as by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who pushed for a counterinsurgency strategy, often abbreviated as COIN. One premise of COIN is that insurgency wars are contests for the loyalty of the population, so the aim is not simply to chase after bad guys (a game in which the bad guys can maintain the initiative) but to protect and control the population. To do this, a counterinsurgency force needs boots on the ground—lots of them—not just to sweep away the Taliban and other insurgents but to keep the areas secure, so the host nation’s government can then come in and provide basic services, thus winning favor and drying up support for the insurgents.

    This might be a sensible strategy if we were talking about, say, Japan or West Germany in the Cold War. We are not. We are talking about Afghanistan. COIN over the long run appears to be potentially counter-productive:

    However, the case can be made—and the CT-Plus advocates have made it—that more time will in fact buy us little. Karzai’s government has not made the reforms he needs to make. If this sort of war is a contest for popular legitimacy between the government and the insurgents, Karzai’s government hasn’t gained much ground. The U.S. military has made much effort and sacrifice to give him security and thus the space that he needs to take political risks and make progress in building legitimacy; but he hasn’t taken advantage of that space.

    So it’s a valid question, and one that falls on the COIN advocates to answer: How much more money should we spend, how many more lives should we sacrifice, to support a regime that isn’t bothering to build the loyalty of its own people—a regime whose ultimate interests appear to be much different from ours?

    In other words, the more time we spend in Afghanistan the less the Afghanistan gov’t has to worry about actually securing the support and loyality of its people. It becomes a type of welfare family, never seeking real employment because the US gov’t will always pay the rent at the end of each month.

    That may be an acceptable price to pay for a country of great strategic importance but Afghanistan simply isn’t. In terms of attacking the US, there’s nothing special about Afghanistan to Al Qaeda. Attacks can be coordinated from web users in places like Yeman, Pakistan, and even Europe. Unlike Europe or Japan in the Cold War, Afghanistan has little strategic importance. Landlocked with little infrastructure it’s not an effective base of operations should trouble break out elsewhere in the region. Getting there is risky and convoluted (operations have to be supplied by either permission to use Russian airspace or by Pakistan allowing convoys to run thru their uncontrolled northern regions).

    The question Mark poses above approaches the issue from the wrong perspective. It assumes US troops and operations are free and costless. If that was the case then up the troops to half a million and leave them there for 40 years. But what exactly are we trying to do here and why? Make Afghanistan the 51st state?