Saturday, November 28, 2009


'An insider confirming outside critics dispels the myth that classified information redeems a failed policy'

These men speak with moral authority and have my attention.

Roger Morris and George Kenney:
Matthew Hoh Speaks Grim Truth To Power


My old Urdu teacher in the Army was a Pathan from Peshawar and had been a Sargent in the Pakistan Army. It was his position that to understand anything about his people you had to put it into a frame of reference.

He said everything in the Northwest Frontier Province could be understood in terms of "Zar, Zan, aur Zameen". That is Gold, Land, and Women.

Politics,religion,economics,social science, or what ever, these three things were always at the core of the motivations and decisions. He said always put these first in your analysis of this part of the world.

I don't see these in our foreign policy. The are central to the motivations and corruption of the governments there. They drive the Taliban Warlords. They drive the military of the region.

Zar, Zan, aur Zameen.

Want to win, then base a policy on these.

I got some terms of reference for all of our policies, foreign and domesticated...

Speaking of truth-to-power, one of your own has died. Kansas journalist originally, but also he worked as ranchhand in Oklahoma to make ends meet when he first started.
Land, gold and women! 'Twas always thus.

And thanks for that link, TStock.
Noam Chomsky has an epigram that can be summarized thus: It is no use speaking truth to power, because the powerful know the truth. In Hoh, we have an individual who is speaking truth to the people, something far better in a democratic society.

Sadly, as was predicted years ago, mission creep has occurred in Afghanistan. The entire reason for going in was get rid of al Qaeda. Ridding the country of their Taliban overlords was a bonus to be sure, but hardly part of the equation.

Extricating ourselves from this morass will be difficult, but not impossible. The first step as always is honesty. One hopes that Pres. Obama provides a little honesty as he announces our Afghanistan policy.
It seems Obama is going the Nixon route, "Afghanistanization" as it were. The increase in troops is a prelude to a drawdown based on Afghan willingness to step up and deal with the Taliban and corruption.

Of course, since I doubt they will do either, this is probably the kind of thing that will only keep our young men and women there in perpetuity. On the other hand, maybe Obama will just say, regardless of the reality, that Karzai is doing his bit and bring them home at some point. I'm not happy about this, but it is the policy with which we're stuck.
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