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Total number of comments: 132 (since 2013-11-28 15:36:05)


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  • Turkey to deploy 60,000 soldiers in bases abroad, including in Qatar
    • Afghans are hoping and lobbying for a significant increase in the number of Turkish trainers and advisers for the ANSF. Hope Turkey sends them.

      Libya would also like additional Turkish trainers. So would Nigeria, Mali, Niger, Philippines.

      I hope Turkey sends them.

  • Why Israel doesn't run on Solar: Netanyahu’s son boasts of father’s gas deal at strip club
    • Israel is one of the world's leaders in solar and renewable technologies. Israel has to be since Israel has the world's largest ocean water desalinization plants, which are extremely energy intensive. Israel also has limited access to Natural Gas pipelines.

      "He has also been criticised for his activity on social media, after he posted a status deriding American left-wing groups as more dangerous that neo-Nazis, less than a week after the white supremacist terrorist attack in Charlottesville last summer, which left one person dead."

      He was playing to the Israeli electorate, and these comments were probably popular with the Israeli electorate.

      America has very few Nazis. For that matter very few Americans have a deep understanding of what Nazism even is. Those few that America has tend to be less educated and poor.

      What America has is various types of ethnonationalists, including some caucasion type ethnonationalists such as the KKK. These are very different from Nazis, albeit deeply anti Jewish in many cases. The person they have most targeted in recent years is the Jewish American Ben Shapiro.

      It is also important to recognize that many Jewish people all over the world feel deeply threatened by deeply anti Jewish currents that swim within the post modernist movement.

      Post Modernism greatly influences the global left, global liberals, global centrists and global conservatives. Much of the way Trump thinks is post modernist too (for example Trump doesn't understand that free trade and global free movement of labor benefits both parties, rather seeing trade in goods and labor as a way for one party to harm or oppress another).

  • From Afghanistan to Somalia, Special Ops Achieves Less with More
    • I don't agree with parts of this article, although it would take many pages to fully explain why.

      What I think works is FID, or increasing the capacity and competence of others. FID should be implemented mostly by conventional rather than SOF although SOF has a large and important role.

      The fascination with SOF is part of the reason for America's slow total factor productivity growth (slow product development and process innovation), and growing inequalities in capacity, competence, health, intelligence, and mental health (or a subconscious mind with few ongoing threads and traumas).

      America and the world as a whole focuses an elite that go to elite universities, work in elite environments (Silicon Valley, Wall Street, Consulting, Special Forces, elite sports, Hollywood, elite music) surrounded by fellow elites. These elites have the company of fellow elites, exercise, meditate, eat healthy food, and engage in other practices that sharply improve health, intelligence, mental health, capacity and competence. And they continue to break away from most of the world's people in capability and achievement, getting more and more out of touch with most people.

      Rather we need to focus more on increasing the capacity and competence of the majority of people and structurally poor people; and facilitating elites spending more time with the majority of people and structurally poor people.

      Within the military this means making the conventional military much more special forces like and trusting the conventional military (including junior enlisted) with high end functions.

      The entire military should be much smaller, with far higher pay and benefits. The entire military needs to be elite or special forces like. The military is not a jobs program for workers who have difficulty succeeding in civilian careers and civilian business.

  • Lebanon's Big Crisis, and What Saudi Arabia could Lose
    • Agree with Prof Cole on the close connection between Iraqi Da'wa and Hezbollah. Did Iraqi Da'wa also have close connections to Amal 1979-1982? I don't know.

      Iraqi Da'wa and other Iraqi Shia factions ( including the predecessor of what is now called Badr/ISCI/SCIRI); and the Peshmerga began an uprising in Iraq in 1979. And they welcomed Lebanese Shia help. Hezbollah appears to have been more willing to do this than Amal. Is this why Iraqi Da'wa supported Hezbollah? I am not completely sure.

      In any case, didn't Khomeini pay most of Hezbollah's bills 1979-1980s? And most of Iraqi Da'wa and other Iraqi Shia militas? And much of the Peshmerga budget?

      I know that Hezbollah claims they did a better job defending Lebanese Shia from other Lebanese and Israelis than Amal's militia. But wouldn't a fused combined Hezbollah/Amal militia have been far more effective still? I think the Lebanese Shia greatly lost from the split. I think the Lebanese people as a whole lost from the split. [Although some other Lebanese factions might have thought that a Shia fitna was to their advantage; they were wrong.]

      I would make the case that the Israelis would have left southern Lebanon in 1983 if not for the perceived Hezbollah threat. Israel achieved her strategic aims in 1982 by defeating the Syrian military; and by helping Lebanese Christians and Amal drive the PLO out of Lebanon.

      I am also deeply disappointed that Hezbollah alone has refused to disarm in Lebanon. Hezbollah equipment should be donated to the LAF and individual Hezbollah soldiers should join the LAF. Evan Aoun quietly favors this. Amal and other non Hezbollah Lebanese Shia favor this. Only Hezbollah does not. Hezbollah insists on a state within a state.

    • Saf, I blame Israeli mistakes in part for the falling out between Israel and Israel's former Lebanese Shia allies. We are agreed on this.

      You are also right that Israel is responsible for Israel's own actions and mistakes; including the consequences of Israel supporting Khomeini 1980-1982 and supporting Amal in Lebanon 1980-1982.

      Amal also bears some blame in the 1988 war between Amal and Hezbollah (although I think Hezbollah deserves more of the blame).

      I still believe that Amal and Hezbollah would have stayed as one fused joint organization if not for Khomeini . . . which has greatly hurt the Lebanese people.

      Saf, you have made many very intelligent comments on this blog in response to many articles and you no doubt know Lebanon a lot better than I do; so please correct me if I am wrong. My understanding is that most of Hezbollah's initial support 1979-1982 came because of deep wide spread sectarian bigotry by Lebanese against Shia Lebanese. The Shia in Lebanon understandably felt they needed powerful militias to protect Lebanese Shia. I think that this reason better explains Hezbollah's legitimacy (while not popular, Hezbollah has a certain degree of legitimacy and respect from fellow Lebanese) in Lebanon than Israel.

      "Most analysts, especially USA based ones, can not seem to understand that a computer with a quad-core, 64-bit, 1 GHz CPU, a decent GPU, 1 GB of memory and up to 32 GB of storage, running FREE Linux OS, costs LESS than US$ 50. Couple that with Open Street View’s very accurate FREE maps and a “hacked” GPS chip (the USA restrictions on altitude and speed have been removed) and a very nice guidance system can easily be built for less than US$ 100. The rest is just basic rocket science and chemistry that is well understood by now." Couldn't agree more.

    • "After the events of 1979, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards helped to establish a local resistance movement against the Israeli Occupation of Lebanese territory"

      Yes Khomeini established Hezbollah. The reason was that Amal was too nationalist and independent for Khomeini (Amal was more resistance to Khomeini's blasphemous claim of Vilayat-e Faqih . . . or to be the first perfect human since 874 AD, with full control over the temporal and spiritual affairs of all humans.) Khomeini wanted a pliable client force that he controlled in Lebanon to advance Khomeini's interests; whatever they happened to be. [Initially Khomeini did not order Hezbollah to attack Israel.] Khomeini simultaneously also supported Amal.

      From 1979 to 1982, Khomeini secretly allied with Israel. If not for Israeli intervention, Saddam Hussein would have defeated Iran 1980, 1981 and 1982.

      Israel initially intervened in Lebanon in 1982 in part to help Israel's Shiite Lebanese allies and Phalangist Christian allies against the PLO in Lebanon's ongoing civil war. Later Israel had a falling out with her Shiite Lebanese allies. Khomeini stabbed Israel in the back by ordering Hezbollah to attack Israel . . . at a time when Israel regarded Khomeini, Iran and Hezbollah to be secret Israeli allies.

      Israel was deeply hurt by Khomeini and Iran's betrayal and that sense of betrayal and hurt continues to dominate Israeli thought and policy to this day.

      Khomeini used Hezbollah to mass murder Lebanese Shia (including the nationalist patriotic Amal militia) in 1988 and for a series of other nefarious activities.

      If Khomeini or Khamenei ever really wanted to help Lebanon, they would have disarmed Hezbollah and flowed a large scale FID effort directly into to the LAF.

      "And Israeli ground troops would not fair very well either as Hezbollah is very battle-hardened with very good leadership with lots of depth (the death of a single leader would not stop the resistance)." Hezbollah has suffered heavy losses in Syria. Plus many Hezbollah forces remain deployed in Syria. Withdrawing them from Syria now would breath new life into ISIS and Al Qaeda. Hezbollah would not find fighting the IDF easy in another war. The IDF also has a very deep bench of officers and NCOs.

      A war between the IDF and Hezbollah would turn the rest of Lebanon against Hezbollah. I don't think Nasrallah wants that.

      For that matter, why would Israel want to invade Lebanon right now? What possible Israeli interest is advanced?

  • Trumpism Didn’t Just Lose—Progressives Won
    • I think extremely highly of Ravi Bhalla. He ran on a pro business platform that if implemented would greatly improve career and business outcomes in Hoboken. I am glad that progressives are supporting pro business, pro entrepreneurship policies.

      The attack against Ravi Bhalla is one of the most inappropriate adds I have seen in an American political campaign in the last two generations. Glad Ravi Bhalla won.

      I am not aware of any statement Ravi Bhalla made that was in any way supportive of terrorists or Islamists. Nor am I aware of any statement that is less than fully positive about minority muslims, liberal muslims, reform muslims.

      Ravi Bhalla should be treated as an individual; not a member of the "Sikh" group.

      This next comment has nothing to do with Ravi Bhalla; but is about the Sikh community. No community in the world has been more oppressed and targeted by Islamists than Sikhs. Nor is there any community that has done more to help minority muslims, liberal muslims and reform muslims than Sikhs.

  • Can we survive Trump's Rage-Based Iran Policy?
    • I don't think Trump's Iran policy is based on rage. Crown Prince MBS has done a number on the Trump family.

      Iranians have to try to ween Trump away from his man crush on MBS. I would start with complementing POTUS' truly extraordinary hair, abs, intelligence, hotness, humility, statesmanship and maturity. And then aggressively court Ivanka and Kushner.

      That is the best hope for improved US Iranian relations. Iran and the US share over 90% of the same values and long term interests. The US and Iran would benefit greatly from a grand bargain and US-Iranian alliance.

  • Treasury Sec. Mnuchin is just an Enforcer for the 0.1%
    • The demonization of the successful is a preliminary preparation for the demonization of Asia and Asians. China has a higher annual income than America and owns more wealth than America. In the near future China will have more billionaires than America. Within a decade and a half, India will have more billionaires than America. In the near future a majority of the world's billionaires will be Asian. Part of the backlash against Goldman Sachs is because so many of their partners are foreign, immigrant, children of immigrant, and historically oppressed ethnics. This is well known around the world.

      This has led to a jealous backlash among some westerners. Now there is a conspiracy to demonize Asians and blame them for the challenges of Westerners who live in structural poverty or are part of the lower middle class. The preparatory work for this conspiracy is to demonize all successful people and all rich people; and to blame them for the economic challenges of lower middle class and poor westerners. Once this anger is stoked, it will be carefully directed at successful Asians and Latin Americans. Asians and successful Latin Americans will be blamed for the economic challenges of poor and lower middle class westerners.

      This is a completely transparent strategy. And you had best believe Asians are well aware of it. Asians will not surrender to this guilt blackmail without putting up a major fight. Socialism and Communism economic ideas are mud in Asia and pretty much everywhere in the world outside of Europe and North America . . . for cause. [For some reason communism and socialism are still popular in Europe and North America.]

      To be very completely clear . . . successful people are in no way responsible for the economic challenges of poor and lower middle class people. Period. In fact it is the complete opposite. The more successful people earn, the more poor people and lower middle class people benefit. Globalization, free trade, free capital. free labor, free cross border product development collaboration, and capitalism also helps lower middle class and poor westerners.

  • Lebanon Hizbullah leader: Saudis dictated Hariri resignation
    • What does Samir Geagea [2nd most popular and influential Lebanese Christian leader after Michel Aoun] think about all this?

      The only reason I can think of for why Hariri doesn't want to return to Lebanon is if his life is threatened; because politically there is no edge to not returning.

      The question is who or what coalition is threatening him. What is said in public might not be the complete source of the threat.

      If indeed Khamenei has threatened Hariri (not completely sure this is the complete story), the question remains why now?

      My personal preference is that Turkey, Jordan, Egypt, the UAE, Iraq [to reassure Lebanese Shia], Russia, Europe, America, India, China all contribute trainers, advisors, combat enablers to the LAF. [Iran and KSA shouldn't be allowed to contribute] UNFIL can be converted into this force by a unanimous UNSC resolution. A strong LAF would remove any excuse for Hezbollah to retain her militia; and give LAF the leverage to force Hezbollah to disarm . . . becoming a political party only. Once that happens . . . and Lebanese Shia are truly free of intimidation . . . we will find out the relative popularity of Hezbollah versus Amal . . . and Lebanon can finally stabilize. Currently Hezbollah quietly threatens and intimidates many Lebanese.

  • Lebanon PM Hariri Resigns in fear for Life, Slamming Iran
    • Hariri is many things; but a Saudi stooge is not one of them. Hariri is a Lebanese nationalist who is trying to persuade foreign powers to back Lebanon as much as possible.

      "the Saudis and the Sunnis were counting on ISIS crossing"
      Please don't conflate ISIS with Sunnis, or even KSA with Sunnis.

      Hezbollah doesn't have cause for confidence. Hezbollah has uneasy relations with Turkey and Jordan. And quietly uneasy relations with Nabih Berri and Amal. Hezbollah's saving grace is benefiting from widespread anti twelver bigotry in Lebanon and the Arab world. If not for that, the Lebanese and their allies would form a coalition government with Amal against Hezbollah.

      The Saudi Army won't fly to Beirut. Rather the Saudis would flow more assistance to the LAF and encourage other countries to do likewise.

      To use Godfather terminology, Nasrallah is similar to Luca Brasi. Khomeini is Godfather Vito Corleone (now out of the picture). Khamenei is Sunny. Nasrallah is violent, a little bit crazy and not completely under Khamenei's leash. Lebanese Shia put up with Khamenei and Nasrallah out of fear of widespread (and real) anti twelver bigotry in Lebanon, the middle east and world.

      The moment the anti Shia bigotry drops, so will Nasrallah's fortune as the Lebanese Shia rally to the more sensible, reasonable, nationalist and less sectarian Nabih Berri.

      What Hariri has done has hurt Nasrallah inside Lebanon. Nasrallah needs Hariri more than visa versa.

      What has long worried me about Hariri is that I think he plays the sectarian card in code; which is very dangerous . . . while not personally being sectarian. Hariri has never shown a willingness to truly embrace Amal to serve all Lebanese, which is a mistake.

      The Saudi stooge in Lebanon is the very dangerous Ahmad Al-Assir, who thank God has been sentenced to death. I am no fan of Nasrallah, but Al-Assir is worse.

  • Dear Sean Hannity: Allahu Akbar is in the Catholic Catechism
    • getoffmedz, money and connections alone are not enough to graduate from elite American universities. Intelligence and hard work are also needed. Money and connections indirectly help with admission to elite universities, but not with graduation from them.

      Trump I think tries to talk and behave similar to what Trump thinks might be a typical Trump voter.

    • I don't think Sean Hannity is intelligent. I have seen him host anti islamist muslim guests who are more anti Al Qaeda and anti ISIS than Sean is. When the guest goes on a diatribe against islamists; Sean doesn't seem to understand what is going on. Rather he interrupts the guest and insults the guest. Sean Hannity often comes across as pro Islamist in the process.

      Maybe we should pray to God (Allah) that God increases Sean Hannity's intelligence. Maybe we should have compassion for Sean Hannity and how hard it must be for Sean Hannity to survive in life with low intelligence.

    • Very beautifully said Sufi Muslim. Couldn't agree more.

  • Dear John Kelly: Yes, Slavery was wrong in 1860s & Muslims helped Convince Americans to end It
    • Mark, to say that someone is better off than slaves in Africa is a very low bar and isn't any reflection of virtue.

      American black slaves were slaves in Africa before they were sold to Europeans , Arabs, North Americans, South Americans, Asians. No doubt African slaves didn't have a great life in most cases. No doubt many slave owners in Africa (whether African or muslim) treated their slaves badly.

      But none of this in any way justifies the mistreatment of American slaves after they arrived in America.

    • Mark this what General Lee believed is wrong. This needs to be taught.

      Even worse than that; slaves were not given education and self confidence. Rather there was an attempt to keep them weak, give them inferiority complexes, and persuade slaves to insult African Americans who loved learning and excellence.

      The slave holders created the backlash against geeks and nerds that to this day greatly harms America and greatly reduces living standards. Not just among African Americans anymore, but among all Americans.

    • I learned something from this post. I didn't know that General Lee had tried to keep inherited slaves that had been freed in the will of their former owner. Or that the courts ruled against Lee and freed the inherited slaves. Even by contemporary standards of Southern values and decency; this was wrong.

      I think that many Americans, including General Kelly (who I respect), would benefit from learning this history.

      I think that all soldiers should deeply love and respect their enemy; especially when they fight them and when they defeat them. Perhaps this is what General Kelly was trying to do with respect to General Lee. He should have done this while simultaneously supporting the idealism and righteousness of the Union cause to free the slaves.

      Honoring and respecting our enemy is not to justify the character, values or misdeeds of our enemy. Rather it is honoring the shared humanity and spirit we share. It is a reflection of us rather than a justification of our enemy. This is a good thing to do. Current enemies are often close future friends and allies. Examples include America's friendship with Canada and the UK after the war of 1812; and America's friendship with Japan and Germany after WWII. Or Gandhi's friendship and love for the UK in 1947. Or France and the UK's friendship with Germany after WWII.

    • Pamaneem, I think this is a very good comment. Sadly there is a difference between what Mohammed, may peace be upon him, wanted; and what imperfect muslims have done since Mohammed's passing. Suspect Mohammed would not be happy with what has been done in his name.

    • Deeb, you have a point on muslims keeping slavery. This remains a very sensitive topic for non muslims throughout Asia and Africa.

      However, Mohammed tried very hard to upgrade the status of woman. For example, I am not aware of any passage in the Koran that interprets modesty differently between men and woman. I am not aware of any passage in the Koran that requires the Hijab. (if I am wrong, please correct me and let me know the Koranic verse.) My understanding (which might be wrong) is that the reason Mohammed suggested modesty was to avoid the evil eye . . . other people becoming jealous. Not the current nonsense about temptation, temptress etc.

      Similarly woman have similar property rights and business rights to men independent of their husband's family.

      Even the bit about a woman's testimony being worth half that of a man was invented by Ali (with the support of Abu Bakr) to save a man and woman from being stoned to death for adultery . . . which they committed.

      Mohammed regarded adultery as equally Haram for men and woman.

      Obedience to fathers is identical between sons and daughters in Islam to my knowledge. A common feature of ancient cultures and religions.

      Obedience to husbands could be interpreted as loving and respecting husbands. Husbands are similarly required to love and respect their wives. Mohammed said that husbands should take the time to extensively consult their wives before making any important decisions, which didn't win him any popularity contents with his male "followers".

      I suspect that some of the Sunni Hadiths on woman may have been altered by self serving misogynists after the death of the prophet Mohammed, may peace be upon him. [Full disclosure . . . I love Sunni muslims! . . . I am not dissing the 6 Sunni Hadiths!]

      Deeb, as a supporter of woman, I don't think we should legitimize Islamist interpretations of Islam that demean woman. To do so would harm hundreds of millions of woman around the world. I would argue that the problem is with muslims rather than with Islam when it comes to woman.

    • pamaneen, I think Mohammed personally opposed slavery but couldn't say so out load directly for fear his "followers" would jump him. In slavery, feminism and many other matters, Mohammed went as far as he felt he could without being assassinated by his "followers".

      This said, it is true that there are passages in the Quron and six Sunni Hadiths that have been interpreted to allow slavery. And since 632 AD, many tens of millions (or more) of nonmuslims have been slaves of muslims. No one has forgotten this history. There is a difference between spiritual muslims who honor the spirit of Mohammed and muslims.

      With respect to Abu Mas'ud; there are many similar passages in religions and texts throughout the world. Many pro slavery advocates over more than ten thousand years have said that all slaves should be treated with the greatest love and respect. That isn't the same as saying slavery is illegal.

      Quran Chapter.90: Verses .10-13 asks people to express love in action and help everyone. Including by freeing slaves. It does not require freeing slaves according to the 4 Sunni schools of jurisprudence.

      I, like you, could present a theological case for why banning slavery is consistent with the Koran and Hadith. I am glad you are making this case, as many other muslim scholars have.

      However, in my opinion making the case against slavery, making the case for femnism etc. intersects with the muslim civil war that has been fought since 632 AD . . . the question of how to interpret muslim scripture. An extremely sensitive topic over which millions of Sufis, twelvers, sixers (Ishaelis), Fivers (Zaydis), Ahmedias, Kurds, liberal Sunnis, moderate Sunnis, secular Sunnis have been killed since 632 AD.

      I think open and frank discussions on Islamic scripture and their interpretation (that many muslim organizations engage in such as Quillium) is a great way to promote love, goodness and welfare in the world. One of the best outcomes of this reform movement so far has been banning slavery in almost the entire muslim world.

  • A mid-6th Century (Christian?) proto-Arabic Inscription from N. Arabia Mentioning Al-Ilah
    • Please don't apologize. I at least find history to be extremely fascinating.

      I don't understand why so many modern academics are so dismissive of ancient sources of information. Could this be because of bigotry and a lack of understanding/respect of ancient cultures/religions? Many atheists understand faith/religion and mystical experience, so this is not a critique of atheism or secularism. Rather a critique of modern academics since the time of the orientalist linguist Ferdinand de Saussure. Ferdinand de Saussure invented structuralism . . . which morphed into Post Modernism. This is an orientalist colonial imperialist technique of delegitimizing and deconstructing ancient religions and civilizations; and impugning the worst possible motivations on them.

      I think that this is a major reason that ancient history books and records are automatically disregarded or called "mythology".

      In contrast to orientalist Ferdinand de Saussure, the fathers of European reconnaissance enlightenment (such as Voltaire and Immanuel Kant) were extremely respectful and reverential of ancient religions, cultures, texts, records.

      To your point on inscriptions; only less than one in ten thousand ancient inscriptions remain. The absence of such inscriptions isn't proof that ancient historical records are false. What motivation would there be to doctor ancient records?

    • Thanks for sharing. I think it is well known that "Allah" is Arabic for "God" and was used by Jewish and Christian Arabs before the birth of Mohammed.

      Mohammed made it clear that he worshiped and communed with the God of Adam, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Ellijah, Elisha and Jesus.

      If someone believes the Musnad Imam Ahmad Hadith passage narrated by Abu Umamah al-Bahili related to a conversation between Abu Dharr and Mohammed; then Mohammed claimed 124 thousands prophets were born before him in religions all over the world. Implicitly, all of them prayed to the same God.

      Do any serious scholars dispute this?

  • What if Russia had Spec Ops on US Canadian Border? US Troops in E. Europe
    • If the US refuses the provide military and economic aid to Mexico, then Mexico has the option of requesting precisely that from Russia.

      This is why the US should try to fulfill a larger percentage of the Mexican ask in terms of FID (training Mexican Security Forces), equipment, maintenance, intelligence. And a larger percentage of the Mexican ask in terms of economic aid.

      For example, Mexico would love more US assistance in training, maintenance, refurbishment and equipment related to the 50 US manufactured T 6 Texan light attack fighters that Mexico has ordered.

      Prof Cole,

      The US should want Russia to play as large a role in Venezuela as possible, in my opinion. Venezuela is likely headed towards a massive collapse. When this happens and Venezuela requests a large IMF organized bailout; America needs other countries to step up as much as possible to pay for it. Sadly, China is stepping away from Venezuela to minimize their contribution to an international bailout of Venezuela. America should do all she can to reverse this and maximize the role of other great powers (including Russia) in Venezuela.

      The worst case scenario is that Venezuela delays requesting a major global bailout until after the Venezuelan security forces implode; which would then require a large global FID mission to reconstitute the Venezuelan security forces; and reestablish law and order inside Venezuela. Russia should play as large a role in this as possible from the perspective of US, Brazilian, Mexican, Chilean, Colombian, Peruvian, Costa Rican national interests. Otherwise these countries will be overrun by Venezuelan refugees; and be left with the entire international FID mission in Venezuela.

      Some old cold warriors may not understand why the US benefits from closer collaboration with Russia on international security and economics. But a lot of younger generation Americans, including younger generation Americans who serve in DoD, National Security Council, Treasury, Commerce, Transportion, Energy do get it. There is no shame in the US being the world's second highest income country and second richest country. America needs to act accordingly.

      By the same token, Russia shouldn't feel threatened that her neighbors seek close relationships with other countries. Rather Russia should complement those relationships by offering substantial FID and economic aid to her neighbors. Over time this would improve Russian relations with her neighbors and the international community more generally.

    • The Pentagon would jump with joy if Russia agreed to take a larger role in helping Haiti. Or joined an international force to stabilize Venezuela . . . should the state collapse there (which it might . . . Trump is scared to death that over a million illegal Venezuelan immigrants will swamp America). Trump is also afraid about the size of the IMF led international bailout required to stabilize Venezuela once the Venezuelan government asks for it; and would love other countries to contribute mightily towards it; including Russia and China.

      It is also insulting not to treat the former Soviet republics as anything other than fully sovereign fully legitimate states that can pursue a policy independent of Russia any way they choose.

      Joint training exercises and international training missions aren't a bad thing. Many countries around the world have troop deployed on US territories for joint training exercises, or to attend US military academies, or to teach at US military academies. The US shouldn't feel violated or occupied by this; as long as foreign countries do not manipulate American domestic politics.

  • Barzani gambled it all and Lost-- Kurdistan Pres. ending Career
    • Of course Mosul had large street protests regarding GoI policies, corruption, governance and freedom 2011-2014; albeit not as large as Tahrir Square. What I am looking for is evidence that there were large June 2014 demonstrations that were overtly pro ISIS. Many Moslawis today deny they were pro ISIS and deny Moslowi culpability in the ISIS oppression of Mosul.

    • Prof Cole, I would be curious to hear documentation about the Mosul street uprising in June, 2014. Many Moslawis now claim it didn't happen via e-mails and phone calls; perhaps to deny their own accountability and responsibility for the catastrophic ISIS rule of Mosul.

      Perhaps you could present this in a future post. I would love to send this to some Iraqis for feedback.

    • "One of the greatest military fiascoes in history." This is an explanation of why this happened, not a denial that this happened. The ISF didn't abandon their HQs or refuse the orders of their HQs. They were obeying their HQs (fake signals and orders issued by ISIS), or not disobeying their HQs, since instructions didn't come from them. ISIS targeted the HQs and senior staff officers in rapid succession; almost simultaneously. Plus ISIS successfully killed over a dozen generals almost simultaneously. The ISF didn't have a flat organizational structure which allowed initiative at lower levels of the chain of command in 2014 (showing such initiative could be a career ending move). This is a major weakness that many militaries and police forces around the world have relative to the US military.

      One of the main objectives of Foreign Internal Defense (FID or increasing the capacity of foreign security forces) and international advising is to encourage a flatter organizational structure that doesn't punish lower level initiative; and allows junior officers and NCOs to act first, ask later (within the general guidance previously given by the chain of command).

      It is probable that over 5,000 ISF died in June, 2014, if not a lot more (IMoD and IMoI haven't published statistics on this). The ISF, and their senior officers, did not voluntarily die.

      Another important point to remember is that the ISF didn't have operational Corps level HQs in 2014. They were not formed before international forces left. Had Corps level HQs been operational, they could have directly communicated with and assumed command of the brigade and battalions HQs in the North after the Ninevah Operational Command, 2nd Iraqi Army HQs, 3rd Iraqi Army HQs, 4th Iraqi Army HQs, Ninevah Provincial HQs, At Tamin Provincial HQs, Salahadin Provincial HQs were compromised. The ability of ISIS to hack ISF command and control electronic communication also reflected a major technological weakness within the ISF that international training would have rectified.

      I think that the Iraqi Army would have fought and died in large numbers if ordered to do so through the chain of command in June, 2014. They have done so 2004-2013, and since 2015.

      You are correct that many Mosul citizens turned against the ISF in 2014. However, there was no street uprising in June 2014 to my knowledge. Rather Moslawis quietly watched ISIS disrupt and drive out the ISF; without trying to help the ISF.

    • The allegation that the Iraqi Army ran away in total in Mosul has always been untrue. Many battalions fought. However, ISIS took over the HQs in the North, and hacked communications. They pretended to be the ISF chain of command and gave all sorts of "fake" irrational orders. They specifically ordered IA battalions on the offensive to cease offensive operations on pull back. The ISF was unprepared for an enemy more technically savvy than they were.

      Plus ISIS targeted the HQs rather than conventional combat maneuver battalions in a large number of simultaneous commando operations that would compare favorably to any major global special forces. The ISF with their pyramid style C2 (command and control) was unable to rapidly adapt, since underlings were reluctant to act without permission from their bosses. This was a massive problem since over a dozen ISF generals killed in rapid succession.

      Khamenei intentionally removed competent nationalist officers from the ISF 2011-2014 to ensure the ISF didn't threaten Iran. Maliki felt unable to stop Khamenei since Maliki felt that America no longer supported Iraq.

      Now, fortunately, many of the competent ISF officers have returned; except for Kurdish ones. If Kurdish officers could be persuaded to return to the formal ISF; the ISF would quickly become one of the most capable security forces in the middle east.

  • Iraqi PM Rebukes Tillerson on Popular Mobilization Militia
    • Why did Tillerson make this statement in Riyadh? The reaction is less to what he said than to the fact he made it in Riyadh.

  • Tillerson tells Iraqi Shiite Militias to "go home." Sad.
    • Saf, I don't think Trump is sectarian. I think he is uninformed, naive and manipulated by others.

      Iranians have made one massive inexcusable mistake. They have not praised someone's amazing hair, physique, intelligence, charisma and articulateness.

    • Farhang, there are a lot, lot more than 50 Iranian advisors in Iraq. The Iranians are not transparent about it.

      That is okay in my opinion as long as:
      1) all of them are declared foreign agents to GoI
      2) GoI is okay with them
      3) they are assigned as trainers, advisors, combat enablers to IMoD, IMoI rather than to PMUs (or they are assigned to PMUs that are in the process of formally transferring to IMoD, IMoI)

      The best way to avoid demonizing Iran to emphasize the shared values and interests between Iran and the rest; and to encourage successful collaboration between Iran and the rest.

      Since 2014 Iranian and American military officials have collaborated together very well in Iraq; in a way that has done honor and service to the great Iraqi, Iranian, American and world peoples. We need to expand this collaboration and partnership to as many other areas as practical.

      Another great place to emphasize would be to try to work out a national unity government in Yemen that serve the Yemeni, Iranian, GCC/Arab League, world peoples. And then provide international FID to the newly reconstituted Yemenese security forces that serve the national unity government. Heavy Iranian pressure on the Houthi dominated forces (note they are in coalition with some non Houthis too) is essential for this to happen. The Iraqi Government, which might be trusted by Houthis, can be helpful too.

      Working with the Iranians to solve global problems in ways that show results is the way to reduce demonization of Iran.

    • Jim Cataldo, it is the Iraqi Army, Iraqi Air Force (IqAF) and Golden Division that defeated ISIS in Iraq. Some PMUs closely integrated with the Iraqi Army, Golden Division and IqAF. In many ways they now function as extensions of them and will likely be formally integrated (much the way the national guard were formally integrated into the Iraqi Army in June 2004 by Allawi).

      Today all but the best PMUs (which will likely be added to the formal ISF) are not needed and need to be dismantled. Most of these, let us call them Khamenei PMUs, are now supporting Khamenei's fight in Syria. Khamenei likes it. Assad likes it. And Iraqis like it as a way to boot them out of Iraq and keep the pressure on ISIS.

      Remember that IMoD (Iraqi Ministry of Defense) has a great deal of institutional pride and nationalism and would rather not depend on external institutions, especially Persians. I think they would rather that the PMUs that they don't fully trust were fully dissolved, allowing their officers/NCOs/soldiers to apply to join the formal ISF.

    • Page: 1
    • If Iran wants to help Iraqi security, Iran can directly help IMoD and IMoI. Iranians assistance would be appreciated. Assisting sectarian Shia militias weakens Iraq rather than helps Iraq.

    • Not all PMUs are the same. Some are loyal to Khamenei (who through Vilayat-e Faqih claims to be the second perfect person since 874 AD with full jurisprudence over all the world's peoples' temporal and spiritual affairs) rather than the GoI. Other PMUs are loyal to GoI and operate as de facto adjuncts of IMoD and IMoI. Tillerson is obviously not talking about these; which IMoD and IMoI will likely eventually absorb into themselves. Tillerson is obviously talking about the PMUs that are not loyal to the Iraqi state. In saying what he is saying, Tillerson is channeling the views of the GoI, IMoD, IMoI and the Golden Division (who belong to the Counter Terrorism Bureau, who report to the national security advisor).

      What might be considered unfortunate is that Tillerson is making this announcement in Riyadh. Most Iraqis consider The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) to be a rival (albeit not their only rival); and believe (perhaps with some exaggeration) that Saudi Arabia has supported the Iraqi resistance and Al Qaeda against the GoI and ISF from since 2003. On the flip side, perhaps Tillerson secretly got something from Saudi Arabia in return for the PMU comment. If Tillerson received no quid pro quo; then this was a foolish statement.

      "An anonymous state department source told the wire services that the US wants to see the Shiite militias absorbed by the regular Iraqi army." This is also the view of IMoD and the view of most Iraqis (note that some at IMoI also want PMUs incorporated into IMoI). I am almost completely certain that the Najaf Marjeya would be happy to see the PMUs incorporated into IMoD and IMoI; albeit they dislike commenting on temporal affairs.

      " Last November, the Iraqi parliament voted to recognize the Popular Mobilization Units aka the Shiite militias as a sort of Iraqi national guard, with all the same privileges as the regular army." I would argue that this was the first step to incorporating the PMUs directly into the ISF.

      There is plenty to bash Tillerson about other than this. But I would note that in the private Tillerson, Mattis, McMaster and Mattis) are keeping things from being a lot, lot worse. Since these four appear to be working to salvage the Iranian nuclear deal; I hope they succeed.

      No matter how bad things seem now; they could easily be a lot, lot, lot worse.

  • Did George W. Bush commit War Crimes & should he get Awards?
    • The largest cause of anti Americanism among Afghans, including those who serve in the ANSF; is the widely believed conspiracy theory that America backs the Taliban, Al Qaeda, ISIS and their allies. The reason that the Taliban is capable is because they are backed by the Pakistani Army Deep State General Headquarters (GHQ). The US until 2017 opposed the creation of the strong ANSF to counter the Taliban. It is only this year that the US has for the first time dropped its objection to a strong ANSF; albeit US plans to strengthen the ANSF remain uncertain.

      The UN operations in Afghanistan since 2001 have been completely legal. To question the activities of UNAMA, ISAF (both unanimously created by the UNSC) is to question the legality of the UN as a whole. Erik Edstrom is welcome to oppose the UN, GIRoA and ANSF in Afghanistan; but there is no legal grounds to call the actions of the UN or the GIRoA or ANSF illegal in Afghanistan.

  • ISIL was ended not by Trump or Obama but by Muslims
    • Saf, your points are right of course. ISIS/AQ/Taliban and their allies have very conservatively killed over 200 K nonmuslims too.

      However the reason they kill nonmuslims is because of the Islamic civil war . . ,

    • I didn't know about Robert Mercer until you just mentioned him and I Googled him. What does Mercer believe?

    • Juan Cole, you are correct on Assad, but Assad is not Russia. I don't think Russia has done nearly enough against ISIL and mostly agree with you. At the same time, Russia has done a lot against ISIL. Russia has supported Kurdish and some Arab militia other than Assad who in turn have fought ISIL. Russia has also given help to IMoD and the KRG Peshmerga. Some Russian air strikes in Syria have been deeply appreciated by IMoD, KRG, Kurdish Syrian militias, and elements of the Free Syrian Army. [The Free Syrian Army has condemned other Russian Air Strikes.]

      My hope is that Russian policy evolves in a better direction over time (where Russia provides long term economic and FID assistance to secular plural muslim majority institutions such as IMoD, Libyan security forces, Afghan MoD/MoI/NDS, a national unity Yemeni government security force, Palestinian National Security Forces (NSF), Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), NA (Nigerian Army) etc.

      Russian assistance to Assad is suboptimal. However my hope is that Russia heavily pressures Assad to agree to a national unity Syrian government; which would include a commitment by Assad to refrain from future atrocities. Russia is not Assad. Assad is not Russia.

      The world cannot effectively deal with [Muslim extremism] without substantial Russian participation.

    • "The Americans trained three counter-terrorism brigades in the Iraqi army, who spearheaded the fight against ISIL and took extremely heavy casualties."

      Technically the Golden Division reports to the Counter Terrorism Center (CTC) and National Security Advisor, albeit they have administrative links to IMoD. Golden Division doesn't consider themselves to be Iraqi Army.

      Golden Divisions have more than 3 brigades now. They use to be the Iraqi Army Special Forces. They fought well in summer of 2014 during the ISIS offensive against Iraq, although they were too small to stop ISIS on their own.

    • I would add that muslims (the Iraqi Security Forces) defeated Al Qaeda (now ISIL) last time around in 2007 and 2008 too. Similarly a mixed muslim/non muslim Nigerian Army is defeating Islamic State in Nigeria. The muslim Afghans defeated that Taliban in 2001 and are fighting them hard now. Muslim Libyan security forces have mostly defeated ISIL and AQ.

      Its the same story all over the world. This is a war between decent Muslims and extremists all over the world. A global Muslim civil war; in which the 6 billion non-Muslims aren't the main focus. The primary focus and priority of extremists is and has always been within the house of Islam.

      It is incredibly sad that so many non-Muslims all over the world don't realize that decent Muslims are the best allies they have got; and provide little help to them.

  • In Absence of US Leadership, War Breaks out between Kurds and Baghdad
    • The Kurds reached out to Putin and Russia for help in 2014; when initially President Obama refused to help (Obama later changed his mind); and Putin responded to Kurdish requests for help. Since 2014 the Russians have had a robust FID program to help the Peshmerga. The Russians also assisted Kurdish militias fighting in Syria (in addition to the Syrian Army). The Russians offered to hit targets that the Kurds provided to Russia. I understand that the Russians have hit targets the Kurds requested.

      In addition to this Russia has provided considerable assistance to IMoD (Iraqi Ministry of Defense) since 2014. Something for which I greatly praise the Russians. My hope is that the Russians step up their assistance to IMoD over the medium and long term. Russia is arguably the most popular and respected country among Iraqis. Much the way India is the most popular and respected country among Afghans. Plus the Russians are secular and not islamist.

      Russia has been masterful, until now, at simultaneously allying with the Peshmerga, IMoD and Golden Division (CTS). Now Putin will have to navigate carefully.

      "China will back Baghdad to the hilt and disapproves of small ethnic separatist movements." Until now China didn't need to choose. China allied with both. Many of the problems Baghdad had with KRG related to KRG directly signing contracts and making deals with China; versus through Baghdad.

      I agree with you that if China is forced to choose (China will try not to), they will side with Baghdad . . . more money to be made that way. Chinese dominate the economy in Baghdad and the nine southern provinces. Lots of Chinese workers and business people are visible in Southern Iraq.

      It is really too bad that Trump doesn't have the vision to demand that China stop free loading on Iraq; but actually contribute something to Iraq. For example a robust FID program. I believe China would comply if the Iraqis insist hard enough. For reasons that defy my understanding there is opposition to this within several parts of the Washington Establishment.

      China is imperfect; but China is strongly anti Islamist, non sectarian; and shares economic interests with Iraq, America and the world. A larger Chinese role in Iraq would strengthen IMoD, IMoI and the formal civilian government at the expense of unprofessional militia who have unpredictable loyalty to Baghdad.

      If I were facilitating negotiations between Baghdad and the KRG . . . I would say:

      "you will both make a lot, lot, more money if you cooperate with each other. Money isn't everything. Money isn't the most important things. But it sure comes in handy sometimes."

    • Honestly I am not sure what policy is best for President Trump to pursue.

      Prof. Cole, what would you suggest that China, Russia, Europe, Iran, Japan, South Korea (South Korea has close ties to Kurdistan), Australia, Canada, UN do about it? [It is a fair bet that Turkey will support Iraq and the Sunni Arab majority states will quietly salivate at Iraq's discomfiture.]

      This is a major blow to China (Iraq's largest business, investment and trade partner) and Russia (one of Iraq's and Kurdistan's closest allies).

      It is unfair for the world to expect Americans to solve all the world's problems. America should keep her focus on fighting extreme militant Islamists, wherever in the world they are; and try to stay out of other conflicts. But make no mistake, this is bad, very bad.

      My hope was that Kurds could be persuade to join the IA and IqAF in large numbers. Keeping Kurdistan in Iraq liberalizes Iraq and reduces Islamism inside Iraq. That becomes harder now.

  • More civilian Airstrike Deaths under Trump than in 8 years of Obama
    • North Vietnamese were nationalist. South Vietnamese were also nationalist.

      NVA was almost completely dependent on the Chinese and Soviets; both of which bankrupted themselves by aiding North Vietnam. The later collapse of China and the USSR was partly because of the burden of supporting North Vietnam. The Chinese/Soviet FID effort actually tried to create very high end independent NVA capabilities. About 130,000 Chinese troops were based in North Vietnam for close to a decade. The Soviets had a large FID presence too. More Soviet troops were in North Vietnam than US troops were in South Vietnam in 1965, for example.

      The US opposed a strong independent ARVN and VNAF. I could write a 50 page heavily referenced article referring to the many ways the US did this. There are books written by military advisors to the ARVN which describe how the US opposed a strong ARVN/VNAF and declassified documents from DoD and the US government that say as much.

      The ARVN and VNAF leadership lobbied to launch an offensive over the DMV into North Vietnam (and create the equivalent of the Viet Cong in North Vietnam with disaffected North Vietnamese). The ARVN and VNAF also lobbied to attack the NVA in Laos and Cambodia. LBJ and Nixon were scared that the ARVN/VNAF would attack Chinese/Soviet troops in North Vietnam, precipitating WWIII.

      As a result the US deliberately prevented the VNAF and ARVN from acquiring high end armaments (fixed wing aircraft, ground attack missiles, high end artillery, high end tanks, SAM dismantling capability, signals) and capabilities until 1972.

      Another example would be how the inflation adjusted average salary of an ARVN soldier dropped 1965 to 1972 (when the US was in theory helping the ARVN); of course ARVN salaries collapsed after 1972.

      Yet another example is how the training and advising effort for the ARVN was massively under resourced. Most of the best officers and NCOs in theatre were used to command conventional US military units in South East Asia versus the advisory/training effort. LBJ refused to send quality US officers/NCOs based in Japan, South Korea (this I understand since 320,000 South Koreans fought in South Vietnam), Europe, Panama, Continental US. LBJ also refused to send the officers and NCOs from the US National Guard. Nixon also refused the MACV advisor "ask."

      MACV was left with a fraction of its senior US cadre "ask" to train and advise the ARVN. Plus there were several unwise operational and tactical policies (not developing long term relationships between individual US soldiers/US military units and specific ARVN counterparts).

      The US purposely did not train the VNAF and ARVN on high end maintenance and technical skills to keep them dependent on the US (so they didn't launch offensive operations opposed by the US). When US maintenance technicians and engineers were abruptly and unexpectedly removed, the results were predictable.

      The US was always focused on results over the next few months and as a result discouraged long term ARVN capacity development (which takes years to show results). However, the ROI from long term capacity development is much higher than from short term capacity development. As a result ARVN only received a fraction of the capacity their budget should have given them. Specifically the ARVN officers/NCOs were not developed through training seats. This is because training seats cost money and because it means removing many of the best ARVN officers/NCOs from the fight at any given time for training (which significantly disrupts short term military operations).

      I have many critiques of the South Koreans (who maintained about 50,000 troops in South Vietnam for 7 1/2 years) and Australians (largest Australian war in Australian history other than WWII; about 8 K troops for 7 years plus massive military/economic aid) too; but then this comment would get too long.

      With respect to nationalism, the ARVN had a lot of nationalism and esperit de corps. The ARVN did most of the fighting and the dying; usually with almost no American press coverage. ARVN throughout the war led security in South Vietnamese population centers with little US assistance. The ARVN also conducted a lot of the toughest fighting against the NVA in their AOs throughout the war with little American coverage or American appreciation (since Americans weren't fighting). From 1969, when Nixon ordered Abrams to lower US casualties; the war was almost entirely between conventional ARVN and conventional NVA units. Albeit the ARVN had American advisors and combat enablers.

    • "Large numbers of Vietnamese-Americans are actually from the Chinese-Viet middle and business classes." This is very true. There are many Chinese Vietnamese in America.

      All the Vietnamese Americans I have asked (Chinese Vietnamese included) were from South Vietnamese. But of course anecdotes are not the same as aggregate data. I guess that after the death of Lê Duẩn (that is the wikipedia spelling, the name sounds totally different) in 1986, some Vietnamese might have come from the Northern part too. The South Vietnamese won the Vietnam war in the long run and now dominate Vietnam economically and culturally. Many former South Vietnamese leaders were welcomed back to Vietnam and treated with great respect and love, including former PM Ky in 2004. Former PM Ky and many South Vietnamese have called on their compatriots to forgive Jane Fonda and other Americans who were disrespectful to South Vietnam and the ARVN in the 1960s and 1970s. Today Vietnam is more pro business, free market, pro globalization, pro Wall Street than South Vietnam ever was. Very pro American, pro South Korean, pro Australian, pro Thailand, pro Japanese too. Hard as it might be for Americans to believe, now some retired NVA take pride in the valor and achievements of the former ARVN; and some retired ARVN take pride in the valor and achievements of the former NVA.

      Maybe I have had the company of too many Vietnamese Americans to be fully objective about this topic. If you have any documentation about ARVN double agents, please e-mail it. The NVA and North Vietnam had many spies; but they likely represented a very small percentage of ARVN officers and NCOs. Most of these didn't like the North or NVA but liked getting bribed. Some pretended to be South Vietnamese patriots to join the ARVN and penetrate from the inside.

      The ARVN was institutionally a deeply anti communist organization based on all the books, articles and accounts I have read and heard. The largest cause of anti Americanism among South Vietnamese was the widely believed conspiracy theory that America was in bed with the communists. And yes, even senior officers and NCOs in the ARVN were suspicious about this.

      The South Vietnamese never understood Americans. Retired General Ky (wrote two books) and other South Vietnamese who wrote books have said as much. This led to a lot of misunderstandings, resentment and anger. To get a hint of this, read books and articles written by several former ARVN advisors, including the late General Norman Schwarzkopf, advisor to the Vietnamese Airborne Brigade (later Airborne Division) in 1965 and 1966. Schwarzkopf himself was resentful of conventional American military formations and State Department officials; channeling the perspective and resentment of the ARVN.

      The ARVN had 10 elite high quality divisions+elite VNAF+elite Republic of Vietnam Navy. The ARVN also had 17 shabby divisions. There is a world of difference between the perspective of advisors who served with the elite ARVN; and conventional American military units who were often deeply disrespectful to the ARVN. US State Department officials were much worse than the conventional US Army. And American civilians . . . the less said the better.

      It is okay for Americans not to want to help the South Vietnamese fight a war with North Vietnam, the USSR and China. But Americans can advocate for that position while being respectful of South Vietnamese, the South Vietnamese Government, ARVN and VNAF.

    • What does the Republic of Vietnam Air Force, VNAF, have to do with the AAF, IqAF, Jordanian Air Force, Egyptian Air Force, Libyan Air Force, UAE air force, Qatar Air Force, Turkish Air Force....


      Over 2 million Americans are proud patriotic Vietnamese Americans. The vast majority of whom had ancestors who supported South Vietnam. Please don't insult the VNAF in front of them, or in Westminster, Orange County, or in San Jose, CA. The VNAF were among the highest quality, most professional, most patriotic air forces the world has ever seen. Many of the heroes who served in the VNAF and their descendants are now American. I have read many books and articles by VNAF veterans.

      America made plenty of mistakes in South East Asia. Those mistakes are not the fault of the valiant heroic VNAF.

      There is no way the ARVN and VNAF would have ever been defeated if the US hadn't cut off aid. The ARVN and VNAF are not responsible for America's mistakes and America's inadequacies. Americans don't get to transfer America's blame to the ARVN and VNAF.

      Attacking the VNAF for buying American aircraft is extremely low. Air-forces all over the world buy foreign aircraft. Heck America buys a lot of foreign military equipment too. Why don't you attack America?

      "collected paychecks composed of US tax dollars." Many countries all over the world have accepted massive foreign aid over the last 6,000 years. There is "NOTHING" wrong with that. America didn't win America's freedom. France, Spain, the Netherlands, Marathas, Tipu Sultan all attacked England simultaneous to the US revolutionary war 1775-1783. Their blood and treasure won America's independence for America. Even in 1775, France provided 90% of gunpowder to American revolutionaries free of cost. The US military was created by foreigners, paid for by foreigners, advised, trained and led by foreigners. Foreigners wrote the US Army War Manual, the first version of the Uniform Code of Military Conduct and most of the early documents from the 1770s.

      The USSR would have been overrun by Germany in WWII without massive US foreign aid. Do you consider the USSR to be a "CIA concoction?"

      It is precisely this American mentalities that drives global anti Americanism and the "Ugly American" stereotype.

      South Vietnam was not a violation of the Geneva Accords. China decided to divide Indochina into 4 countries. Ask China why China did that at Geneva. The Soviets also wanted 4 countries. Vietnam, North Vietnam and South Vietnam never existed as independent countries before 1954. All were invented by China, and supported by the USSR. The Americans in Geneva were naive green boy-scouts who didn't understand what was going on.

      This said, South Vietnam became a real nation after 1954 with strong nationalism. Just as Cambodia, Laos and North Vietnam did. The US never controlled the ARVN or VNAF. They were always fiercely patriotic, independent, nationalist institutions; deeply respected by the South Vietnamese people. The ARVN and VNAF always did their own thing. Sadly some foreign combat units didn't coordinate well with or respect the ARVN and VNAF. This is mostly their fault...

      Other countries are not controlled by America. They have their own greatness, agency, power and objectives. Americans often greatly exaggerate American power and influence in the world. . .

    • Rather than refer to the Q2 report, here is the Q3 UNAMA report:

      link to

      "Civilian casualties attributed to Pro-Government Forces reduced by 19 per cent to 1,578 civilian casualties (560 deaths and 1,018 injured), over half of which occurred during ground fighting.
      . . .
      During the first nine months of 2017, the mission documented 466 civilian casualties (205 deaths and 261
      injured), a 52 per cent increase in civilian casualties from air strikes compared to the same period in 2016.
      . . . .
      "The mission attributed 38 per cent of all civilian casualties from air strikes to international military forces."

      In other words 62% of all civilian casualties caused by air strikes in Afghanistan were made by the Afghan Air Force (AAF). 38% were caused by all international air forces combined. The increase in civilian casualties caused by air strikes relate to all air strikes from all parties.

      The above report is also conflating air strikes by the Iraqi Air Force with air strikes by international air forces.

      Would it be imperialist for the US to pressure other sovereign countries to change their air strikes?

      However, with respect to Syria, there is great uncertainty about civilian casualties. This merits closer examination. While airstrikes in Iraq and Afghanistan tend to be CAS in support of local ground military forces, more of the strikes in Syria are non CAS; which risks higher casualties.

  • Baghdadified: The Militarization of US Cities and Police
    • super390, peace officers are your brothers and sisters. When they make mistakes, when they fall, we help them back up. We help them become better. We help them be successful because they are family.

      Often upper middle class people who are privileged to live in safe communities (almost never having to worry about being killed, raped, assaulted or robbed) demand that peace officers withdraw their protection from poor, vulnerable and unsafe communities. In many though not all cases this is intentional; and I condemn this unreservedly.

      African Americans males do have a different experience in society than Latino males, African American females and everyone else. African American males are killed, assaulted, robbed, raped at extraordinarily high rates.

      According to the 2015 Association of American Universities (AAU) Campus Survey on Sexual Assault, 5% of all college male students are sexually assaulted. Colleges are the safest places in America. This suggests that rapes of African American males in unsafe neighborhoods and prison could be catastrophically high, and perhaps serially under reported (because of embarrassment).

      I think part of this abuse does happen in part because of ideology. Police don't protect African American males nearly enough. Criminals is one of the major channels through which this ideology works. Historically in the south 1865 to the present . . . when "riots" happen (code for black males attacking black males and attacking black property), the police have pulled back and watched. Often these "riots" are fueled and encouraged by people who are not black. Do you really think that this is an accident?

      Do you really think low African American male voter turnout is an accident? This is encouraged by powerful external factors.

      Do you really think that black divorce rates rose from 10% a century ago by accident? Do you really think that black illegitimate birth rates rose from 10% a century ago to 76% now by accident? Do you really think that black single mother headed families rose from 10% a century ago to 76% now by accident? The attack on the black family; kicking the black father out of the house is led by powerful forces external to African American males. Do you really think these forces are well intended?

      1787 to 1861 the South went to great lengths to prevent African Americans (including the many who were free) from being educated.

      link to

      This process was far more pernicious and subtle than overt. Where do you think the demonization of nerds, geeks, uncle toms, coons; calling blacks who enjoy learning "white" comes from? It was an insidious clever conspiracy by non blacks to prevent African Americans from getting educated, affluent and successful.

      This colonization of the mind has been used by bigots to hurt African American males in many other ways to. Is it an accident that African american males start businesses at a fraction the rate of Latino Americans?

      Of course there is a powerful ideology to keep black Americans down. Super390, we need to fight this ideology together. We all share common values and interests. We all benefit from the success of others, including black males.

      Criminals target homeless people, poor people and unsafe neighborhoods (code for neighborhoods where peace officers have removed their protection) the most. Perhaps you volunteer at your local homeless shelter. If so, please ask homeless people you know what they fear most. I have, and the greatest threat they fear is crime and safety.

      High crime is a mechanism used by powerful forces to keep communities poor, disenfranchised, weak and disunited. High crime keeps businesses and jobs away. Pushes the cost of living up. Lowers the quality of life. Suppresses civil society. Prevents kids from studying and academically succeeding. And allows sadistic predators to prey on African Americans (assault, rape, robbery, murder) without a high risk of incarceration (since too many peace officers intentionally do not protect African Americans).

      Super390, could we be on the same side?

    • link to

      In 2015 according to the Washington Post, police killed the following:
      -990 total, of which 93 were unarmed
      -495 Caucasians, of which 32 were unarmed
      -258 Blacks, of which 38 were unarmed
      -172 Hispanics, of which 18 were unarmed
      -14 Asian Americans, of which 0 were unarmed

      super390, Why do you think Asian Americans (21 million or 6% of the population) are killed by the police, commit crimes and serve time in prison at a tiny fraction the rate of Caucasian Americans?

      It is possible but not statistically verifiable that a tiny number of Hispanic Americans associated with Mexican organized crime commit the large majority of crimes committed by Hispanic Americans and the large majority of Hispanics killed by the police. Even without accounting for this outlier skewing statistics, Hispanic Americans are killed by police at comparable per capita rates as Caucasian Americans. Adjusted for Mexican organized crime, I suspect that Hispanics are less likely to be killed by the police than Caucasian Americans.

      Statistically a case could be made that America as a whole doesn't have a large problem with police violence against Latino Americans, Asian Americans or Caucasian Americans. But things could get better. Including by training police in martial arts, conflict resolution, operating without fire arms. Police need to also accept greater risk and greater police casualties.

      There is a challenge with the 38 unarmed Black Americans killed by police per year. Which needs to be carefully studied for improvement. Keep in mind the following context:
      -Over 96% of all killings of black Americans are by non police officers.
      -Black Americans commit 51% of all Americans murders and 40% of all police killings.
      Again, the vast majority of this is probably by a tiny percentage of black repeat offenders. Police need better profiling to target the subset of African Americans committing crimes and sharply reduce profiling of African Americans which AI data mining suggests are less likely to commit crime based on measurable characteristics.

      You are right that policing needs significant improvement. I would argue that the main improvement needed is to better protect the Americans people. Far, far, far too many Americans are murdered, assaulted, raped and robbed every year . . . period. American police as a whole are also too casualty averse.

      Still, super390, shouldn't our response be to ally with the police and help them dramatically improve police performance?

    • One of the biggest travesty in America is the way police don't do nearly enough to protect the American people from criminals.

      African Americans are killed in huge numbers and the police don't protect them nearly enough. This is a dereliction of duty. 96% of all African Americans who were killed in 2015 were not killed by the police.

      Asian Americans cause around 1 1/2% of all murders; and 9% of all murders are committed against Asian Americans. More hate crimes per capita are committed against Jewish people than any other subgroup in America. While statistics on Jewish American murder rates are not compiled; if they were compiled it would not be surprising if their murder rates were more lopsided than Asian American murder rates. Hate crimes are also committed at much higher than average rates against LBGTQ Americans.

      The police have a responsibility to protect Americans far better than they do. Part of this reluctance probably has to do with the large numbers of police murdered in America. My response would be the sacrifice is sweetness. Shouldn't police be willing to sacrifice their lives in huge numbers to protect American civilians?

      The city of Baltimore is mentioned in this article. Baltimore is famous for crimes against Asian Americans and Latino Americans. All too often police in Baltimore do not protect.

      I think poor people and homeless people are hurt worst by the lack of police protection.

  • How "ghost soldiers" could frustrate Trump's plans for Afghanistan
    • South Vietnam and Afghanistan are very different. I have read over 20 books on Vietnam, many by Vietnamese; and seen the Ken Burns documentary. Do you consider Pakistan to be North Vietnam and Afghanistan to be South Vietnam? I don't think the analogy is very good. For one thing neither North Vietnam nor South Vietnam had ever been countries before. The way Indochina was partitioned into 4 countries (at the insistence of China) was arbitrary and bizarre. Do you consider all of North Vietnam, South Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos to have been some version of greater Afghanistan? Plus the North Vietnamese Army, good as they were, pales in comparison to the quality and capacity of the Pakistani Army. North Vietnam never had a large nuclear arsenal or a powerful global lobby.

      What do you mean by "we"? Do you mean the UN? Do you mean the global powers who support the Northern Alliance? Do you mean NATO?

      Afghanistan has been ruled by foreign powers or part of foreign alliance confederacies for most of the last 5 thousand years. Afghanistan only won her independence in 1747 when Eastern Iran partitioned and split. (At that time Afghanistan included Pakistan, Northern India, parts of Iran, former USSR). The British took India and Pakistan away from Afghanistan and shrank Afghanistan into a tiny rump state.

      As a poor country with powerful hostile neighbors, Afghanistan cannot defend herself without international aid. Afghanistan received massive international aid from the world before 1979. Afghanistan was the second largest recipient of US foreign aid before 1979; after only South Vietnam. Afghanistan also received massive aid from the USSR, Iran, India, China, Europe, Japan, everyone. Afghanistan had a larger army in the 1970s than she does today, paid for by international aid. When that aid stopped, Afghanistan convulsed into civil war that continues until this day. Pakistanis used Afghans to destroy Afghanistan; who Pakistanis regard as their historic enemy. 40 years of war is hard to end overnight.

      Do you believe that the 40 year war will continue forever and that therefore international foreign aid to Afghanistan should be cut off? [Although you know that many countries will remain deeply involved in Afghanistan no matter how much you lobby.]

      Or do you favor making Afghanistan a Pakistani protectorate to end the 40 year war, and then giving aid to develop Afghanistan? Afghanistan was ruled by Pakistan via proxy 1994-2001.

      If you favor the second, then remember that Afghans will fight the Pakistanis and Taliban forever. No matter what America does, powerful countries (such as Russia, Iran, India, Turkey, China, Japan, Europe, Australia, Canada) will still help the anti Taliban Afghans fight and survive.

      Would it be correct to say that what you are really calling for is a forever war where the US sides with Pakistan and the Taliban against the Afghans and Afghanistan's allies? I don't think you would like this outcome at all.

      If you really want to please Afghans, you would end all aid to Pakistan and impose international sanctions on Pakistan. But I think that would hurt Afghanistan in the long run too. Deep Afghan emotions and animosity towards Pakistan clouds Afghan judgement regarding Afghan interests.

      You speak about "lost". I don't understand what you mean by "lost". A successful strong Afghanistan is a victory for the entire world. A weak Afghanistan is a disaster for the entire world, including you. You will always "lose" until Afghanistan is strong and successful. If Afghanistan falls, Pakistani based Jihadis who are now busy attacking Afghans will attack Iran, Russia, India, China, Stans, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, US, Latin America, Africa, Arab world, Indonesia. Is this really what you want? How many muslims do Jihadis have to kill before you realize that this is your war? 5 million? 15 million? Do you really believe that you can stay out of the Islamic civil war? Good luck with that.

      There is only one species, one world. We all share common values and similar long term interests. This is why we should collaborate together to advance our shared values and interests.

    • "Curt Kastens 2017.10.12 05:39
      Would it maybe easier if the Pashtuns and Tajiks simply agree to a divorce?"

      That would be a complete disaster. Over 35% of all Afghans are neither Pashtun nor Tajik. Plus Pashtun and Tajik live side by side in blended mixed communities.

      Moreover the Taliban won't allow a Pashtun state. Pakistan doesn't want a Pashtun state in Afghanistan; because such a state would ally with Pakistani Pashtuns against the Pakistani Army.

      The Taliban have ambitions in Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Pakistan and Kashmir India. The idea that they would ever stop fighting Kabul, Northern Afghanistan and Western Afghanistan is madness.

    • "My comment" . . . I don't speak all the languages.

      Here is the thing, many American (and Canadian, Australian, South Korean, Japanese, European, Turkish, New Zealand, Indian, Russian etc.) civilians, interpreters, military advisors and expatriot Afghans have served with GIRoA, Afghan NGOs or the ANSF and have quite a bit of cultural knowledge and many Afghan relationships.

      What I think these countries should do is call up their best advisors and trainers from retirement and send them to Afghanistan. Unlike in 2001, now the ANSF and GIRoA have many officers and NCOs with good english. The advisors need to ask the ANSF and GIRoA civilians what they need and determine how they can help the ANSF and GIRoA with what they need.

      Many retired foreigners enjoyed their time in Afghanistan and like Afghans and would return if asked by their countries. Not many would be needed. A modest number of foreigners over a long period of time are needed.

      What do the ANSF need?:
      1) Trainers to teach at officer/NCO academies
      2) Specialty trainers to teach at ANSF specialty schools (Tactical Air Controllers, artillery indirect fire, maintenance of many kinds, pilots, information technology software and database, hacking, accounting, intelligence/Surveillance/Recon, Command and Control HQs, signals etc.)
      3) embedded advisors at the brigade and battalion level (which haven't been in Afghanistan for over 3 years)
      4) temporary combat enablers to help the Afghans
      5) Long term predictable procurement to surge the organic capability of the ANSF

      International combat troops haven't been in Afghanistan for many years and are not needed. It isn't the job of foreigners to win the war; that is the job of Afghans. Internationals need to help the Afghans the way Pakistanis are helping the Taliban.

      The ANSF don't fight the American way and nor do they need to. The "American way" has not been nor should it be used in Afghanistan. Trust the Afghans.

      I think you greatly exaggerate and misunderstand the role of Resolute Force in Afghanistan.

      Can you explain why you don't think the Afghans can't win, provided foreigners actually seriously try to help them? I know the Pakistanis are powerful; but they are not all powerful.

      You benefit from greater Afghan capacity and Afghan victory. I think you don't understand why you benefit from Afghan success and therefore want to cut off international aid to Afghanistan. You don't understand that Afghans are fighting for the benefit of all humans.

    • My best estimate is that Pashtuns are about 36% of Afghanistan's population.

      About 9% of Afghanistan's population is neither Pashtun, Tajik, Hazara or Uzbek. For example Nuristanis (who only began converting from Hinduism in 1895; of course many Salafis still don't think they and many other types of Afghans muslims are "real" muslims). Many Afghans insist the percentage of "other" is even higher than 9%. This 9% is the most under represented group within the GIRoA civil service and ANA. Pashtuns are slightly over represented within the ANA.

      Many non Pasthtun Afghans insist to me that many of the Pashtun Afghans who claim to hate the Taliban and support the ANA are virtue signaling and not saying what they truly believe. I have also heard from many Afghans that the war in Afghanistan is really an ethnic sectarian war against non Pashtun Afghans. I don't agree with either opinion. However unless the GIRoA and ANSF can reduce terrorism, this paranoia might increase.

      A majority of Afghan Pashtuns are fiercely anti Taliban. They call the Taliban Punjabia (by which they mean the Taliban are allied with Punjabis). If anecdotal reports are to believed, a majority of Pakistani Pashtuns might also be anti Taliban for similar reasons.

      Heck, many of the local Afghan Taliban are also anti Punjabia Taliban (those parts of the Taliban closest to the Pakistani Army . . . such as the Haqqanis), and emphasize their independence from the Quetta Shura Taliban. The QST is believed by most Afghans to be heavily influenced or controlled by the Pakistani Army ISI Directorate. This is a major reason the ANA, NDS and Ghani have come to the conclusion that signing a peace treaty with the QST will not end the war but rather be more analogous to bringing HiG Hekmatyur into the political process.

      For the moment the ANSF have a security lockdown on Kandahar province. For whatever reason Kabul cares about Kandahar province and has kept two wheeled quick reaction force ANA brigades based in Kandahar. These two brigades are in the process of joining the ANA Special Forces. In practice, however, they seem to function more like a praetorian guard quick reaction force since the Taliban and Pakistan seem reluctant to engage them directly and Kabul isn't willing to use them in COIN operations far from Kandahar.

      Raziq and his boys run everything in Kandahar. Raziq went with his boys to counter the recent Taliban offensive in Uruzgan. The Taliban has not seriously contested Kandahar for years, preferring to focus on other theaters.

      The Taliban have conducted a near continuous corps level offensive in Helmand for years. This only ended a few months ago. In recent weeks the ANA and ANASF have been on the offensive and the Taliban are responding. I can't confirm this; but suspect that both the ANSF and Taliban are taking heavy casualties in Helmand in recent weeks.

      The MoD and MoI refuse to publish KIA or WIA in Helmand; but I have heard estimates that half of ANA KIA and a third or more ANP KIA have been in Helmand in recent years. If we assume that total ANSF KIA have been about 9,000/annum in recent years (official statistics under report ANSF KIA for multiple reasons) and WIA have been 1.6 times KIA, this tells you the extent of ANSF casualties in Helmand.

      Anecdotally the ANSF have lost many of their best officers and NCOs in Helmand . . . a huge loss to the Afghan nation. Which is a major reason 2015th Corps and Helmand ANP deteriorated. Kabul didn't send enough of their new quality officer and NCO graduates to replenish them (each part of Afghanistan and each ANA Corps fights for the best recent officer/NCO graduates from academies). President Obama pulled out 215th Corps level advisers and provincial ANP advisers from Helmand in 2014. They were only sent back recently.

      I have noticed that many anti Taliban Pashtuns who join the ANA live in Kabul, the North, the West, Nangarhar, Kunar, Nuristan (its debatable whether they are actually Pashtuns), Khost, Paktia, Paktika. A lot of Kandahari Pashtuns join the ANP. A common factor in areas that contribute Pashtun recruits to the ANA appears to be that the war is perceived as a war against Punjabis in Loya Paktia, Nangarhar, Kunar, Nuristan, Badakshan. In Nangarhar, Nuristan, Kunar . . . ISIS and international Jihadis are a bigger threat than Afghan Taliban. Loya Paktia is seen as a Pakistani Afghan proxy war. Not as many Pashtuns join the ANA from the South; places where local Taliban play a larger role.

      I would estimate that as of today the 215th ANA Corps (4 brigades) has about 15,000 or more soldiers in Helmand. MoD and Resolute Force are silent about the number of ANASF in Helmand as of right now.

      PS. The last official statistics regarding ANSF KIA were released to the Afghan parliament in 2014. In that year total official KIA were about 8500, which itself was an understatement of actual ANSF KIAs. Since then the MoI and MoD have refused to provide these statistics to parliament. SiGAR has published rough estimates since then that significantly understate actual ANSF KIAs.

    • Most Afghans do not consider the Taliban to be "indigenous". The Taliban are deeply unpopular with over 80% of the Afghan population and are widely seen as proxies of GHQ (General Headquarters) Deep State. Most Afghans don't even bother with these euphemisms anymore and just call the Taliban and their allies proxies of the Pakistani Army. Pakistan is enemy number 1 for the vast majority of Afghans. Without massive support from the Pakistani Army and Gulf, the Taliban would be driven out of most of Afghanistan.

      You use the word "vote". That is the problem. The Taliban refuse to allow elections because the Taliban believe they will lose badly at the federal level, which is true. This said, I also think the Afghan government should allow provincial elections, which they have not done to date. At the provincial level moderated reconciled Taliban have a chance in some provinces.

      Afghans find it funny that the world rarely mentions or cares that the Taliban fighters are paid much more than the ANA soldiers are paid. The world rarely asks where the money comes from, because the answers would be inconvenient.

      For the war to end in Afghanistan several things need to happen in the following order:
      1) the global civil war between muslims and islamists needs to ebb
      2) the Pakistani civil war needs to ebb
      3) the de facto war between Afghanistan and Pakistan needs to end
      4) Afghans need to fix Afghan internal politics

      Of course Afghans need to fix Afghan problems and Afghan National Army soldiers need to stop making anti Pakistani statements in public and on social media; but even if they do these things, the war would continue since most of the causes for the war are not internal to Afghanistan.

      The world praises the IDF for their fighting spirit and military effectiveness, and does not insult the IDF by mentioning the large amount of international aid Israel has received since 1948 (including a lot of aid from the USSR, East Germany and Yugoslavia in 1948). Afghanistan has never received anything like the 1973 airlift, without which Israel would have ceased to exist. Yet the world insults Afghans for accepting international aid. When the ANA shows fighting spirit the world insults Afghans by jeering them for losing tens of thousands of soldiers and policemen in combat (far more than the IDF has lost since 1948). The world also condemns the Afghan National Army for antagonizing Pakistan and the Taliban and "hurting" the peace process. The world acknowledged the large role played by foreign countries in attacking Israel but does not acknowledge the large numbers of foreign troops (including as command and control, advisors, combat enablers) attacking Afghans. The world condemns the Afghan Government for taking a nationalist hard line in negotiations with Pakistan and the Taliban.

      "My comment", if you want to you can lobby your country to not help Afghans. But remember that the Afghans have asked for your help and you are denying Afghanistan's request. An Afghan Loya Jirga unanimously requested international help. You don't get to blame the Afghans for why you don't want to help Afghans.

      "what do you think are the chances of this actually happening? Be honest!" It has a significant chance of happening. The US has come closer to supporting a strong ANSF in recent weeks than ever before. Plus the US no longer objects to India helping Afghanistan. There is a good chance that President Trump might allow or actually ask Russia and China to help the ANSF a lot more (a first since 2001). Most Afghans would also like Iranian help; but the US has yet to signal support for this.

      Resolute Force has indicated a major focus on the ANSF training commands, increasing the number of specialty training seats since Trump's speach. I hope India, China, Russia, Turkey, Europe, Japan, Australia etc. similarly commit to increasing the number of ANSF training seats.

      For the first time since 2001, China is becoming more even handed between Afghanistan and Pakistan and considering significant help for the ANSF.

      President Trump might yet persuade his friend President Putin to bet on the strong GIRoA/ANSF horse against the weaker ISIS/Taliban/AQ/Pakistan horse.

      Without a stronger ANSF, how can President Trump "win". We all know President Trump loves to "win." There is a a greater chance now for a stronger ANSF than anytime since 2001.

    • The primary reason for Ghost soldiers for many years was because the ANSF don't have decent death benefits for the families of soldiers. Plus the MoI and MoD have been trying to understate actual ANSF KIAs because they fear it will hurt morale and make them look bad to Parliament and the Afghan public. As a result, I heard from multiple people in Afghanistan that "ghost soldiers" was a mechanism to support the families of soldiers who had died in combat.

      Matt Baker is right that what is loosely called "corruption" isn't all bad. It is the way things have run for thousands of years (under Afghanistan, when Afghanistan was a British protectorate, under the Persian Empire, under the Moghul Empire (India), under the Mongol empire). Corruption is a way to help vulnerable people.

      To address the ghost soldier problem, MoI and MoD need to be honest about their KIAs. I don't think they are correct that reporting actual KIAs will hurt morale. Quite the opposite. I think the Afghan people will rally behind the ANSF if they believe the ANSF are being straight with them.

      Secondly MoI and MoD need generous death benefits for soldiers and policemen who martyr themselves for Afghanistan; paid for by the international community (since Afghans can't afford it.)

      Thirdly the international community need to commit to go long with Afghanistan, until victory is achieved. So that the GIRoA and ANSF can plan for long term predictable capacity building (which hasn't happened in Afghanistan since the 1980s). If GIRoA gets such a clear commitment of support, then I believe President Ghani will tackle MoI the way he has already tacked MoD (MoD is a lot less corrupt and a lot more professional than MoI). President Ghani will have to attack powerful patronage networks and pay a significant political price. But I think he would do this if he gets a strong international commitment.

      Finally the ANSF need 100 K training seats, over half focused on Officers and NCOs. Iraqi Security Forces needed that many in 2007 to win their war. So do the Afghans.

      In 2009, Gen McChrystal and Gen Petraeus proposed sharply increasing the number of training seats for the ANSF. However, in 2010 President Obama overruled them and sharply reduced the planned number of ANSF training seats to just over 30,000 training seats.

      ANSF training seats sharply increase ANSF capacity and quality over several years; but don't increase ANSF capacity and quality over the short term. This is one reason ANSF capacity building has been opposed by the international community since 2001. The other main reasons the international community has opposed a strong ANSF since 2001 are:
      1) It would cross Pakistani, Saudi and Taliban red lines, leading to military retaliation by them; and them pulling out of the peace process
      2) Fear the Afghans would launch cross border attacks into Pakistan over the objections of the international community

      I think that at long last the international community should commit to a strong ANSF over the long run, and 100 K ANSF training seats. At $25,000 per training seat, this would cost $2.5 billion a year for the ANA Training and Doctrine Command and the ANP Training Command. Over time this would alter the regional balance of power and lead to Pakistani and Taliban flexibility in the peace process. We should all acknowledge that this might take over a decade to succeed.

      With respect to the above comment: "we are is the position of propping up corrupt governments that have no local support." China, Indonesia, Turkey and India have "corrupt governments" too, but are broadly supported by their people. Their "corrupt governments" have been very successful at reducing poverty and rapid economic development.

      The Afghan National Army is far more popular, respected and legitimate among Afghans than the Taliban is. This has been the case in every Afghan public opinion polls since 2002.

      "We are in a country that does not really want us there and their own greed via corruption clearly shows this." The large majority of Afghans want the international community to support the ANSF. Their fear and conspiracy theory is that the international community opposes a strong ANSF (and perhaps secretly backs the Taliban). This is the primary cause of Afghan resentment against the international community (including as expressed by Karzai). A clear long term international commitment to a strong ANSF would significantly improve Afghan perceptions of the international community.

      Almost all the fighting and dying in this war is being done by Afghans to save their own country. Afghans don't want or expect foreign combat troops. They only want the world to help Afghans defend themselves. The world praised Israelis for this attitude. But somehow too many people around the world insult Afghans for having a similar attitude.

  • Are US troops in Afghanistan causing Talibanism?
    • War is war. The NVA was heavily dependent on China and the USSR; much the way the Taliban are almost entirely dependent on Pakistan and the Gulf. The war hinges in large part on decisions made in Riyadh and Rawalpindi.

      The Afghans for their part are dependent on aid they receive from Washington, Europe, Istanbul, Tokyo, New Delhi, Tehran and Moscow. Interestingly, Jordan and the UAE have provided substantial aid to the ANSF. Even Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, Egypt, Kuwait have provided aid to the Afghans; albeit more limited.

    • By puppet do you mean the Taliban and Al Qaeda? By puppetmaster do you mean the Pakistani Army and Gulf establishment?

      There are reasons why the Taliban don't control any of Afghanistan's 50 largest cities.

    • The Taliban don't control more territory now than a year ago. If the ANA didn't have will and esprit de corps, they wouldn't hold all the 50 largest cities in Afghanistan.

      It is true that the ANSF has lost about 9 thousand killed in action over the past year. However, the Taliban have suffered even more killed in action based on any reasonable estimate. The Taliban have been militarily devastated; and their international supporters aren't willing to give them unlimited support. Some ANA and NDS reports I have seen suggest the Taliban have only 30 K Afghan and 15 K foreign fighters on the point of the spear at any given time. They are spread thin over multiple fronts and parts of Afghanistan that they control or heavily contest. Their supply lines and combat enablers are over stretched. This is why even a modest surge in the ANSF is likely to change momentum in the battlefield. At the same time, as the Taliban lose territory, they will be able to concentrate their forces in fewer places and their logistical lines will become smaller and less strained. Their resistance will toughen the more territory they lose; just as the ANSF supply lines will stretch and the ANSF will thin out if they have to hold more territory. This is why a modest ANSF surge will not "win" the war; merely change the percentage of the country controlled by the ANSF at steady state.

      Afghans would note that the weakness of the ANSF is intentional on the part of the international community. President Obama over the objections of NATO, ISAF, Afghan government and Afghan people cancelled the ANSF build that McChrystal/Petraeus were in the process of implementing in 2010. The ANSF only has a fraction of the training seats that McChrystal had proposed in his 2009 suggestion for Afghan strategy. The ANSF are outperforming expectations given their very minimal Order of Battle and TO/E. President Obama withdrew advisors from all ANA battalions, brigade headquarters/brigade troops, and from the 215th and 203rd ANA Corps HQs/Corps Troops in 2014. The Afghans have been doing this almost entirely on their own since 2014; and intentionally pulled back from several less strategic parts of Afghanistan to focus on the parts of Afghanistan they thought their limited OOB and TO/E allowed them to defend.

      President Obama thought he had valid reasons for discontinuing the ANSF build in 2010. President Obama was deeply hurt when President Karzai accused him of supporting the Taliban and Al Qaeda. But that is all ancient history now. President Ghani and the entire Afghan government and Afghan parliament no longer publicly accuse America and America's President of backing the Taliban and Al Qaeda. President Karzai is no longer President. It should be possible to move beyond all the previous personal drama.

      Plus the Indians are likely to significantly increase civilian foreign aid to Afghanistan. Much more importantly, India is likely to significantly surge the ANSF. This changes everything; especially the long term projected balance of power by all the regional and local players.

      Just as critical is the change in China's policy. China is planning to fund, train and equip a mountain ANA brigade for Badakshan (publicly pledging $85 million for this purpose); albeit it is still unclear whether this brigade will have a Chinese advisory team. I think it should; but there is resistance to this idea from NATO. The Chinese are also considering other efforts to surge the ANSF.

      To say that Afghans are happy about this is an understatement. It won't be as easy for the Pakistani Army and Gulf establishment to support violent attacks against Chinese backed ANSF in Badakshan, without risking Chinese retaliation.

      The sea-change in Chinese attitudes is reflected in the September 4th BRICs declaration, which is as big a deal is the Trump policy announcement on Afghanistan :
      link to

      How can the combination of these events not change the strategic calculation at Rawalpindi and Riyadh?

      WIth respect to Kunduz, the ANSF appear to have had recent success in Kunduz. Part of the reason why is that It appears that the Germans (along with the US and other allies) have sent a brigade advisory team to the 209th ANA Corps brigade operating in Kunduz.

      I wouldn't overstate this, however. It is possible that people in Balkh and Badakshan don't understand Kunduz outside of Kunduz City (which the ANSF firmly hold) that well. Which limits the accuracy of the Dari media and blogosphere regarding rural parts of Kunduz. I look forward to seeing German media reports on rural Kunduz. If you find any good reporting on rural Kunduz, please send or post them.

      It is unclear to me whether the Ghani government or Afghan North in general prioritizes rural Kunduz. They clearly value Kunduz city and Kunduz district.

      Do you think that Rawalpindi will make the mistake of wasting their precious resources and supply lines on another major attack on Kunduz city in the short run? Or will they focus on lower hanging fruit? What will be the main and secondary Taliban strategic effort in the North?

    • Afghanistan is not the same country that it was only a few years ago. Now 400 K Afghans graduate from high school and 100 K Afghans graduate from college every year. They are not fans of the Taliban or Pakistani Army; and provide Afghan capacity that was unimaginable a short time ago. Civilian Afghan governance, and Afghan MoD are far more professional and capable than they were a few years ago. This is despite the fact that the ANSF have far fewer training seats for officers and NCOs than McChrystal proposed in 2009.

      The Taliban is more unpopular now than they have ever been. The ANA remains by far the most popular and legitimate institution in Afghanistan, albeit less so than a few years ago:

      link to

      Many demands Afghans now make relate to insisting on pro business policies; insisting that the Afghan government negotiate tax and regulatory agreements with foreign governments and international institutions to enable large Afghan cities to become business hubs similar to Karachi. Over 40% of the Afghan population now live in urban areas. The Taliban don't control any of the 50 biggest cities in Afghanistan to my knowledge.

      The international community purposely kept the ANA and Afghan Air Force week for 15 years. Their reasons for doing so might have been:
      1) Crossing red lines for Pakistan and the Gulf, forcing them to surge their support for the Taliban, AQ and allied groups since they see Afghans as a threat
      2) Preventing the Afghans from launching cross border operations across the Durand line
      3) Ending the peace process by angering the Taliban and Pakistan
      4) Making the Afghans less willing to compromise in negotiations with the Taliban and Pakistan.

      For the first time, there are hints that the international community (maybe even China) may no longer oppose a strong ANA and Afghan Air Force. If true, this will be warmly welcomed by Afghans. By far the largest cause of anti international sentiment inside Afghanistan since 2001 is the widely believed conspiracy theory that the international community supports Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Taliban and Al Qaeda against Afghans. Any serious international support for a strong ANSF would help alleviate these conspiracy theories and anti foreign sentiment.

  • Chinese Americans came at Same Time as Bannon's Irish
    • The Chinese American community was one of the poorest communities in America in the 1800s and early 1900s; yet had one of the lowest crime rates (in terms of committing crimes) and imprisonment rates in America.

      This is still true today. While we don't have precise numbers of Chinese socioeconomic status, Asian Americans as a whole (and very likely Chinese Americans specifically) substantially outperform Caucasian Americans measured in:
      -much higher academic performance
      -higher per capita and median incomes
      -higher per capita and median wealth
      -lower divorce rates
      -lower single mother headed households and lower illegitimate birth rates
      -much lower per capita rates of engaging in crime or serving time in prison

      Unlike African Americans (93% of all crime against African Americans are by other African Americans), and caucasions (over 4/5ths of all crimes against caucasions are by other caucasions), the vast majority of crimes against Asian Americans are by non Asian Americans.

      If all Americans committed crimes and served prison time at the rate of Asian Americans, US murder rates and incarceration rates would fall by about 80%. Asian Americans are 6% of all Americans, yet commit only about 1% of all murders and 2% or less in other categories of crime.

      link to

      Can provide other links, but don't want to put too many into this comment, because then it will probably be blocked.

      There is no need to provide any statistics on the extent to which Chinese Americans outperform caucasion Americans in English, math, science, K-12, undergraduate school, graduate school.

      Chinese Americans rarely complain about the very significant crime, racism and bigotry directed against them; and are generally very patriotic.

  • UN: Rohingya Crisis 'Textbook Example' of Ethnic Cleansing
    • Marianna, Burma has bought some Israeli military equipment and services; but the vast majority are not Israeli.

      "I have noticed anti Muslim trolls blaming the victims in many comment sections, and blaming the religion for what the 80 percent Buddhist majority"

      Most Burmese are not "anti Muslim trolls". The Burmese are good people doing what they think is right. Buddhists are good people. Please think how a Burmese person would view your words. Are they written with deep love and respect for the great and good Burmese people?

      Please by all means offer your close and respected Burmese friends constructive feedback on how they can do better. To do this you need to understand the Burmese people and their perspective; and all aspects of the current challenges.

      Please read a very good article written by a wise and compassionate Razib Khan to better understand the nuance and complexity Burma confronts:
      link to

  • Do Muslim Americans need a Civil Rights Movement?
    • I think the challenge muslim Americans confront is similar to the challenge confronted by Jewish Americans, Arab Americans, Azerbaijani Americans, Armenian Americans, Asian Americans. Being successful minorities with higher academic, income, wealth, marriage, and other indicator of social performance outcomes than most Americans on an average and median basis. This leads to jealousy, backlash, bigotry, fear, anger and attacks.

      Sometimes organizing and increasing political representation increases the jealousy, backlash and attacks. Examples include the Jewish Germans in the 1930s. Their high degree of organization and political representation if anything increased the level of attack against German Jews. Similarly currently America is a hotbed of anti Jewish bigotry and attacks; despite organization and political representation. For example Jewish Americans are subject to more hate crimes than any other group of Americans on a per capita basis:

      link to

      I am not sure what the best response is. Perhaps look at how immigrants in LA responded to the anti immigrant riots in 1992. In 1992, 45% of all businesses attacked were owned by Korean Americans. Almost all the businesses attacked were owned by Asian Americans or Latino Americans. Most of the people killed were Asian Americans or Latino Americans (about 30% of the people killed were Latino Americans). It is important to note that many local African Americans tried hard to protect immigrant Americans and their businesses and saved hundreds of lives.

      The Asian American and Latino American community responded with loving kindness towards those that attacked them. Many African Americans who lived in LA quickly expressed their heartfelt sorrow for the riots and begged immigrants to stay in LA and conduct business in LA.

      Within a year LA elected a Republican Caucasian mayor who was openly pro immigrant and pro business. LA in 1993 was overwhelmingly Democrat. This is how far the people of LA went to reassure their immigrant brothers and sisters.

      Perhaps a good response by muslim Americans would be to respond with loving kindness. Donate billions of dollars and millions of hours towards helping poor Americans. Reaching out to fellow Americans and participating in American civil society much the way Korean Americans did after 1992.

      I don't know the best way to respond.

  • Trump flip-flops on Afghanistan, opts for Years-long Quagmire
    • Iran benefits from GIRoA and the ANSF defeating the Taliban. Iran will likely allow and encourage shipments of ANSF, Afghan civilian, and Indian lethal goods through Iran. Some other members of the coalition might be able to use the Iranian supply line as well. In fact, if asked, Iran might be willing to provide substantial material assistance to GIRoA and the ANSF against the Taliban.

      With respect to the US using the Iranian supply line; I see no indication that Pres Trump is open to using an Iranian supply line.

      Currently Resolute Force supplies itself through the Northern Supply Route. The Northern Supply Route was able to supply 150,000 ISAF + ANSF + civilian Afghan imports for some time back in the 2010 and 2011 time frame; when Pakistan cut all transit shipments.

      The Northern Supply Route can easily accommodate all Afghan and coalition needs for the foreseeable future.

  • Trump on Barcelona: Recalls US War on Spain, Brutal Occupation of Filipino Muslims
    • ISIS and AQ both believe that Spain belongs to the ummah and are trying to reconquer Spain and add Spain to the global caliphate.

      Osama Bin Laden repeatedly said this in public in the 1990s and early 2000s.

      I think part of the purpose of the attack was also to target Spanish "fake" "traitor" muslims; and to target immoral ammoral westernized culture (that Islamists believe were seducing and corrupting young muslims).

    • The Philippines held elections in 1907. After that the US and Philippines could not reach an agreement on independence. America wanted an excuse to leave the Philippines and cut off foreign aid to the Philippines.

      The Philippines wanted:

      1) The US to commit to the long term protection of the Philippines from other colonial powers, mostly the Japanese, and long term training and equipping of the Filipino armed forces. The US was reluctant, because this would cost US taxpayer money.

      2) Long term US aid guarantees, which the US wasn't eager to provide.

      3) The US to allow large scale Filipino immigration to the US; which the US pushed back on.

      This is why Filipino independence took so long. Plus Filipino governance institutions were weak in the early 1900s.

      The number of 400 K civilians who died in the Philippines comes from outbreaks of disease that Filipino health systems were unequipped to deal with; and were ultimately dealt with via American help. This was yet another reason Filipino nationalists didn't want to give Americans an excuse to leave the Philippines before the Philippines had greater capacity.

      What you are referring to as the Moro muslims were extreme militant islamists who were upset about the banning of slavery and fighting a war against nonmuslim Filipinos and "fake" muslim Filipinos in addition to Americans. Americans soldiers sent to fight the Moro muslims sometimes felt that the US didn't have a dog in the fight and that the Moro muslims didn't have any beef with the US.

      Puerto Rico voters have repeatedly rejected independence and US statehood; albeit support for Statehood is growing.

      Guam doesn't want independence. I believe that all US territories should get collectively get electoral votes in Presidential elections a la Washington DC. I think this would need an amendment to the US constitution.

  • Are Feminism and Islam Mutually Exclusive? Fighting Hislam
    • Susan Carland,

      Many muslims want to interpret Sharia, the Koran and Hadith's in modern and semi liberal or outright liberal ways. And a lot can be done in this direction. Many muslim Imams and scholars are part of this movement. A large percentage of the world's 1.5 billion muslims are sympathetic to modern Sharia interpretations.

      Unfortunately, many Islamists don't see it this way. They often threaten violence or use violence against muslims who have different (modern) interpretations of Sharia.

      I am not just referring to the more than million muslims killed by AQ, ISIS, Taliban and their allies. Many liberal muslims and minority muslims have been threatened and killed by more mainstream and less extreme Islamists.

      It requires enormous courage to be a muslim feminist in most muslim majority countries. Mentioning the threats they confront from extremists helps demonstrate how great muslim feminists are and how much everyone, muslim and nonmuslim, owe muslim feminists.

      Muslim feminists do more to weaken Islamists than almost anything else.

  • Mosul: "Some" US Responsibility for Civilian deaths; but Iraqi PM lashes out at Critics
    • Juan, we still don't know what happened, pending Iraqi and coalition investigations.

      We don't even know for sure if it was a US, other coalition, or IqAF (Iraqi Air Force) airstrike . . . or no airstrike.

      The coalition appears to have accepted responsibility for another air strike in recent days that killed civilians . . . but not for this one . . . to my knowledge.

      The Iraqi Prime Minister's comments were likely popular on the Iraqi street. The large majority of Iraqi voters appear to want more CAS for the ISF, even at the risk of civilian casualties.

      The PM cannot call for disarming and dissolving the PMF until:
      1) ISIS has been fully defeated in all of Iraq including Tal Afar
      2) The ISF has reserve forces capable of defeating ISIS inside Syria.
      3) The ISF has enough forces to fully assume all the internal security functions currently performed by the PMF
      4) The ISF has enough spare force to simultaneously militarily dismantle several PMF units (should they refuse the disarm order).

      The ISF isn't ready yet.

  • After Trump Massacres in Mosul, Campaign against ISIL Halted
    • "called for by the Iraqi Army. Trump’s war strategy seems to be so unsuccessful that the US Air Force is trying to pass the blame for it off onto the Iraqi Army!"

      The strategy in Mosul is an IMoD, IMoI, CTS strategy assisted by international partners. The air strikes appear to have been requested by IMoD.

      Is there any evidence that coalition air strike ROE are more lax than IqAF (Iraqi Air Force) ROEs?

      The ISF have suffered extraordinary casualties inside Mosul. Why don't they have a right to CAS?

  • What's Cuba *Really* Like?
    • Typo above:

      America's low life expectancy is because most Americans choose not to exercise nearly enough. America spends more on "HEALTH CARE" per person than any other country.

    • H. Patricia Hynes, Cuba has a very serious racism challenge, especially against people of African American descent.

      Your counter argument might be that every country in the world has a major challenge of racism against people of African descent. While there is something to this argument, that doesn't excuse the very real problems of racism inside Cuba. It is extremely difficult for Cubans of African descent earn a middle class income, let alone become part of Cuba's military leadership, political leadership, intellectual leadership, economic leadership.

      Your implicit endorsement of Cuba's lack of civil rights, freedom of speech, ability to select Cuba's leaders, oppression of LBGTQ is troubling. As is the way you gloss over the fact that a poor healthy young person in Cuba has far fewer economic opportunities than similar young healthy poor people in India, China, Chile, Peru, Indonesia, or just about any free market pro business country.

      Why is it acceptable to you that young Cuban people don't have the same economic opportunities as young people in Asian tigers or Latin American tigers (Chile, Peru, Colombia, Costa Rica)?

      "One hallmark of Cuba’s achievements is its free health care system, recognized as one of the best in the world" . . . this is an obscene lie. Cuba spends very little on health care per person. What you might argue is that Cuba has a very high rate of return on health care spending. However, Cuban health care is by no reasonable definition "good quality." Cuba doesn't have any hospitals comparable to modern hospitals in Mexico, Chile, India, Thailand, Indonesia, or other modern countries. [Acknowledging that Cuban hospitals are available to poor Cubans while most quality hospitals in developing countries are available only to paying customers.]

      "reflecting the fact that our country invests much less of our GDP in education than does Cuba". The US spending on education as a percentage of GDP and in real terms are among the highest in the world:
      link to

      While Cuba spends a higher percentage of GDP on education; spending as a percentage of GDP isn't as important as real spending. The reason Cuba can't afford quality education and quality health care is because Cuba is a poor country (relative to the rest of the world.)

      Cuba use to be a relatively rich developed country in 1959 by global standards. However real GDP growth in Cuba has been slower than the global average. Cuba has fallen behind.

      Cuba's abysmal economy is a global laughing stock. The Cuban people deserve better.

      Fidel Castro and Raul Castro have both strongly criticized past Cuban leftist economic policies and called for free market reforms. H. Patricia Hynes's dishonest defense of Cuba's disastrous former leftist economic policies seem designed to disrupt and undermine Cuba's current efforts to become more pro business.

      America's low life expectancy is because most Americans choose not to exercise nearly enough. America spends more on education per person than any other country.

      Cuba's high life expectancy has much more to do with healthy exercise (and possibly dietary choices) than with the health care system, which isn't all that good by global standards.

      “Our “free” national elections are determined by money – the biggest spenders win” The evidence does not support this allegation at the US national level. Recent elections have seen strong electoral results for Donald Trump, Kasich, John McCain (2008), Huckabee (2008). These are candidates that raised very little money for their campaigns. What is true is that publicity is very helpful to win elections . . . much more useful than money.

      “disproportionate number of African Americans unjustly incarcerated”. Is there evidence for “unjust” incarcerations? Isn’t it more useful to discuss how to encourage young people not to commit crimes in the first place? For example, how to improve education outcomes for African Americans. Prison reform to facilitate education and normal career prospects for inmates in prison. Including encouraging entrepreneurship, prisoners starting VC backed start-ups, prisoners working high end jobs, ups while serving their sentences in jail?

      “as a society, come to terms with structural racism, our segregated cities and segregated urban schools” Is this why you believe that Hispanic Americans and Asian Americans are far less likely to be in prison and far more likely to be in the middle class and upper middle class than African Americans? Do you think this is because Hispanic Americans and Asian Americans practice “structured racism” against African Americans?
      Do you believe that the reason Asian Americans, muslim Americans, Arab Americans are better educated, wealthier, have better career prospects, and less likely to be incarcerated than Caucasian Americans is because of “structured racism”?

  • Nearly 500 more US Troops sent to Iraq for Mosul Attack in advance of Election Day
    • Mike Munk, probably 500 American advisors will committed to Mosul. Less than 1000 international advisors from all countries.

      By contrast the Iraqi Army and Iraqi Police are likely to commit over 50,000 to reoccupy Mosul. Plus the Golden Division (former Counter Terrorism Forces, former Iraqi Special Operations Forces).

      Doubt the Iraqi Army and Iraqi Police will allow Popular Mobilization Committee Shia militias to operate inside Mosul.

  • With Ahmad Chalabi's Death, Passing of an Age of Lies
    • Chalabi hated the CIA. They did not get along.

      Chalabi had lots of friends. Including Iran's dictator Khamenei, Muqtada al Sadr and some Americans. But none of them had much influence on Chalabi. Chalabi no doubt regarded himself as a great Iraqi patriot who did much to serve Iraq, and without whom Iraq would have been much worse.

    • Ahmed Chalabi was well known to be a close friend of both the young Muqtada Al Sadr and Iran's supreme leader Khamenei before March, 2003.

      Chalabi from his point of view did an act of great patriotism by leading part of the Iraqi resistance against Saddam Hussein 1991-2003 (in a junior capacity from 1979-1990 too). He did this at great risk to himself, his family and friends. Chalabi also from his own point of view achieved the very difficult task of persuading Iran's dictator Ayatollah Sayyed Khamenei, the US, and several other countries to back the Iraqi resistance against Saddam Hussein. Chalabi persuaded the global intelligence community, including Khamenei, Jordan, Egypt, Europe, Israel and the US that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction and manipulated a naive US President Bush to overthrow Saddam Hussein and put the Iraqi resistance in power.

      Chalabi was able to influence the creation of the Iraqi Governing Council (albeit Bremer, Sérgio Vieira de Mello, the US State Department, CIA, UK were able to keep Chalabi's close ally Muqtada al Sadr off the IGC to weaken Chalabi), the nascent Iraqi government institutions, debaathification, the Iraqi Ministry of Interior, the Iraqi Ministry of Defense.

      Chalabi rescued Muqtada from certain defeat in Najaf in April, 2004, and again in August, 2004. Chalabi supported the April 2004 battles in Falluja, Ramadi and Husaybah; and failed to persuade the CPA and US Marines to continue the first Fallujah assault.

      Chalabi wielded considerable political influence after the Iraqi elections on Jan 30th and Dec 15th, 2005.

      Chalabi believed that Saddam Hussein was one of the most evil human beings ever born, and went to enormous lengths to remove Saddam. Chalabi later regarded Al Qaeda and the Iraqi resistance (circa 2003-2005) as evil, and did what he could to lead Iraqis and the Iraqi Security Forces to fight them.

      A mixed legacy. Many Iraqis, including probably Muqtada al Sadr, will cry for him.

  • The "Bridge" Project: Fighting the anti-Muslim Machine
    • I really like Professor Esposito's comments.

      It is important to remember that a large part but by no stretch of the imagination all of the anti-Americanism among the world's 1.5 billion muslims comes from the widely believed conspiracy theory that America backs ISIS, Al Qaeda, Taliban and other Takfiris to hurt muslims. This conspiracy theory is very dangerous because ISIS/AQ/Taliban have killed over a million muslims.

      Yet Americans do little to try to counter this narrative. Many Americans do not even understand that this conspiracy theory exists. This even includes many American soldiers who deploy in muslim majority countries. Many first tour American trainers and advisors respond with outrage and complete shock when Iraqi Army and Afghan Army officers ask them why America backs ISIS/AQ/Taliban. President Obama responded similarly and in fact immediately walked out of a meeting with Afghanistan's then President Karzai when President Karzai asked him why he supported Al Qaeda and the Taliban.

      The outrage is understandable, but the surprise is not understandable. There is a very basic lack of understanding of muslims and foreign cultures among Americans which feeds into anti-muslim bigotry.

      Often the dialogue between Americans sounds very offensive to muslims. For example when some Americans imply that there is little difference between muslims fighting ISIS/AQ/Taliban and ISIS/AQ/Taliban, and that it doesn't matter to America if ISIS/AQ/Taliban kills muslims.

  • An American Citizen Apologizes to the Iraqi People
    • Jeffrey Ruoff, any administration would likely have many officials from the 41st, 42nd, 43rd administrations because that is where the current foreign policy talent pool comes from. Obama had many officials from 41st, 42nd, 43rd administrations too. Bush had many officials from 41st and 42nd. I think that foreign policy advisors should not be partisan.

      Jeb would be a very different President from his brother with the caveat that it would be very difficult for Jeb to win the republican nomination.

      Jeb is married to a Mexican American. Jeb's Mexican American son is married to an Iraqi Canadian. I think Jeb is likely to be emotionally vested with Iraqis if elected.

    • Jeffrey Ruoff, thanks for your response. Iraq is as you know very complicated. One aspect of what happened 2003-2008 was a de-facto undeclared war between Iraqis, their Government of Iraq, and their Iraqi Security Forces, against about 15 other Arab countries.

      The "Iraqi resistance" and initially Al Qaeda were backed by Iraq's neighbors with combat enablers, including funding, trainers, advisors, equipment, logistics, command and control.

      You are absolutely right that Saddam Hussein was and to a lesser degree continues to be very popular person in non Iraqi Arab countries. This is as true among leaders as it is among Arabs on the street. Part of why is because Saddam was the great Sunni Arab lion who kept the evil Persians, twelvers, Kurds, and Israelis at Bay. Protecting the entire Arab world from dangerous enemies.

      This led to a lot of Iraqi anger against Iraq's neighbors. Videos of Iraqi leaders and ordinary Iraqis yelling epithets and f bomb equivalent hate speech in Arabic at their neighbors was shown on Arab media, including Arab social media. In many cases non Iraqi Arabs were persecuted and physically abused or killed by Iraqi mobs inside Iraq. Foreign Arab embassies and foreign arab business interests were sacked by angry Iraqi mobs.

      Iraqis were wrong to do this, because it drove away non Iraqi Arab trade, investment and tourism; devastating the Iraqi economy. The Iraqis were unable to protect themselves when the neighbors retaliated by backing the Iraqi resistance and Al Qaeda.

      In 2004 and 2005, Al Qaeda systematically killed, eliminated, and incorporated almost all Sunni Arab Iraqi resistance. By 2006, Al Qaeda was by far the most significant Sunni Arab militia inside Iraq, and the largest military threat to Iraqis, the Government of Iraq, Iraqi political parties, the Iraqi Security Forces, the Iranian backed sectarian Shia militias, and MNF-I.

      Al Qaeda was able to pay their soldiers, NCOs and officers more than the Iraqi Army was able to pay. To ordinary Iraqis this was proof that America must be paying for and secretly backing Al Qaeda.

      One of the reasons why violence inside Iraq dropped by 95% in 2007 and 2008 was because Iraq reconciled with her neighbors, who were increasingly afraid of the Al Qaeda frankenstein monster they had initially backed.

      Regarding the issue of nostalgia inside Iraq, I think everything changed during the 2014 ISIS (Al Qaeda renamed) blitzkrieg that nearly overran all of Iraq, and potentially could have led the the deaths of hundreds of thousands or millions of Iraqis. Another big issue was that PM Maliki felt forced to implement Khamenei's sectarian agenda inside Iraq when from the Iraqi perspective President Obama abandoned Iraq and the Iraqi Security Forces. Khamenei replaced many nonsectarian patriotic effective officers inside the Iraqi Security Forces with incompetent sectarian Khamenei quislings, scaring many Iraqi Sunni Arabs and even non Sunni Arab Iraqis.

      No doubt many Sunni Arab Iraqis now being killed, abused, hurt and threatened by ISIS are nostalgic for Saddam, because whatever Saddam's other faults . . . he was better than ISIS. How many, we don't know. We can't poll inside ISIS controlled parts of Iraq.

      It appears to me that this Saddam nostalgia is a lot less important to Iraqis than:
      1) driving ISIS out of Iraq
      2) strengthening the Iraqi Security Forces, including by making them less sectarian, less corrupt, more multi-ethnic, more professional . . . and removing Khamenei's malign influence inside them.
      3) disbanding and disarming all Iranian backed sectarian Shia militias inside Iraq, giving the Iraqi Security Forces a complete monopoly on force inside Iraq

      Obviously (3) cannot happen unless (1) and (2) happen first, because Iraqis desperately need Iranian help to fight ISIS right now.

      "so awful have been the results of the US invasion of Iraq and the ensuing chaos". This is true from an Iraqi perspective. Many Iraqis think America deliberately backed the Iraqi resistance and Al Qaeda and helped them mass murder Iraqis and destroy Iraq.

    • Jeffrey Ruoff, the largest causes of anti-Americanism among Iraqis are:

      1) the perception since 2003, America has been trying to prevent the Iraqis from building a capable Iraqi Army and Iraqi Air Force that can defend Iraqis from Iraq's enemies

      2) the inaccurate conspiracy theory that America backs ISIS and Al Qaeda (and back in 2003-2005 the "Iraqi resistance") against the Iraqi people, the Government of Iraq, and the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF).

      3) the perception that America backed Saddam Hussein against the Iraqi people and the Iraqi resistance that was attempting to overthrow Saddam Hussein

      The anger Iraqis have about the 2003 invasion is a lower priority for most Iraqis than their top three perceived grievances against America.

      Obviously these top three grievances are unfair and inaccurate, and I am not trying to defend Iraqis for having them. But America needs to try harder to listen to and understand Iraqis in their own language and own voice; and directly respond to Iraqis.

      Most Iraqis don't understand and care much about Americans criticizing other Americans or America's internal divisions.

  • RT's Abby Martin Accuses Israel of War Crimes for Targetting Journalists
    • "Ideologues don’t bother writing in to complain about Vladimir Putin’s restrictions on journalists. That would just be a diversionary tactic, and besides, he hasn’t had jet planes bomb Moscow television buildings. Go back to kindergarten if you don’t know that two wrongs don’t make a right"

      Juan Cole, with respect non idealogues can fairly attack Russia TV and Abby Martin for being propogandists who implicitly support suppression of freedom of the press by President Putin. You can do this while also holding Israel to Israeli values and Israeli law.

      Who has a better record on journalistic freedom and rule of law? Israel or Russia? Is this really controversial?

      I don't know all the details of the attack on the Gazan media center. Why did the IDF do it? Was it hit as part of fire support for IDF ground forces? Was it hit because of a nearby Hamas fire base? It seems to have been unwise to hit the Gazan media center. Russia is a close Israeli ally with which Israel conducts a lot of joint military training, joint military R&D and bilateral weapons procurement. This is in addition to very extensive trade and investment between Israel and Russia. There are people in Russia TV who are favorably disposed towards Israel.


      Why does Abby Martin have so many supporters? If she is right on one issue that doesn't justify her ammoral and immoral stances on other important issues?

      Israel practices a form of Apartheid. So do many countries all over the world, including many Arab countries such as Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

      Intentionally killing journalists is a war crime. Do we have proof that this happened? How do we know that the specific IDF fire support assets that attacked the Gaza media centers knew that they were firing at journalists? The Fog of War is very deep.

      Shahid Shahid, could you elaborate on the attack in Kabul?

      The attack in Baghdad that you mentioned was tactical fire support aimed at Saddam's signals during a major conventional battle.

      Israel's record with respect to journalists is worse than the NATO record.

  • Syria: Crimes Against Humanity in Homs
    • Joe from Lowell,

      "i_like_ike52" makes a lot of sense. Iraq was in civil war 1980-2008. In 2003, there were over a hundred thousand soldiers in the Iraqi resistance fighting Saddam. [Peshmerga + ISCI/SCIRI/Badr + Dawa + Allawi + Communist Party of Iraq + Chalabi/Sadrists/INC] The Iraqi resistance has substantially more popularity and Iraqi legitimacy than Saddam. Saddam continued his atrocities against the Iraqi people in 2002 and 2003. Saddam felt he had to, or the Iraqi people would remove him.

      Saddam was far worse than Assad.

      Between 2004-2008 [the Iraqi civil and regional war ended in 2008], Iraqi was governed by a legitimate popular sovereign government. One that was unanimously endorsed as legitimate by the UN and international community. The 650,000 Iraqi Security Forces were substantially more popular and legitimate than the sectarian militias they were fighting. Yet many Americans and Europeans hated the Iraqi Government and the 650,000 Iraqi Security Forces fighting for that government.

      Joe from Lowell, you want to know why the hypocrisy? Because in Syria the world's more than 1 billion Sunnis are united behind the Free Syrian Army. More than united, but emotionally committed. By contrast, in Iraq 2003-2007; many non Iraqi Sunnis saw Iraqi Shiites and Iraqi Kurds as untermensch. Unfortunately, only 18% or so of Iraqis were Sunni Arabs, or "real Arabs." There are You tube videos of Saddam's brother chemical Ali talking about killing 20 million lesser or fake Iraqis for the sake of the 5 million Iraqis that were part of the true Iraqi nation. I think we all know what the Saddam family meant by that.

  • Turkey Warns against Sunni-Shiite Civil War in Mideast
    • "It’s worth noticing that up till thirty years or so nobody had heard of of fights between Sunnis and Shiites!"

      Oh my God! And the UFOs are mixed Martian Jupitorian blood, right?

      Juan Cole, relations between Turkey and Iran are at their worst point since at least the 1990s, maybe even the late 1980s [when Turkey helped Saddam against Khomeini].

      Naturally the business community is freaked out and demanding reduced tensions between Israel, Turkey, Syria, Iran, GCC, Egypt. Turkey is one of the most pro business countries on the planet, with low marginal tax rates, comparatively little regulation and powerful business lobbies.

  • Rebels offer Qaddafi Libyan Retirement
    • So many Europeans, Israelis, and even a few Americans have criticized President Erdogan. Yet when the chips are down the Turks generally deliver. Erdogan is supporting Libyan freedom and rallying global diplomatic and public support behind the Libyan freedom fighters. Erdogan has unapologetic supported the NATO mission in Libya. [Afghanistan might be a special case because of Turkey's long term friendship with the former Northern Alliance and many of the current leaders of the GIRoA and ANSF.]

      Plus Turkey's economic policies make America look downright big government socialist anti business. Look at how American politicians interfere with American technological innovation. So unlike the Turks.

      Turkish exceptionalism.

  • Syrians Protest in the Thousands, 24 Killed
    • It is good to see so many Arabs support freedom for the Syrian people and actually advocate international and Arab action to save them.

      It would have been good if they had shown similar concern between 2003 and 2008 when President Assad tried to kill as many Iraqi Security Forces as he could and helped many people who were trying to organize a genocide against the Iraqi people.

      President Assad sent many officers from his army [Brigadier Generals, Colonels, Lieutenant Colonels, Majors, Captains] to lead, organize and support the Iraqi resistance. Among the combat enablers President Assad sent were command and control, ISR [Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance], special forces, trainers, embedded combat advisers, logistics, equipment and money.

      Many Iraqi Army and Government of Iraq members spoke about this, but the international press ignored them. After all President Assad was only killing Iraqis and why would the world care about that?

      18 thousand Iraqi Security Forces died. President Assad has the blood of many of them on this hands. And the blood of 4 and a half thousand MNF-I. Even if many around the world cheered President Assad and his Iraqi proxies on and celebrated the deaths of Iraqis, Iraqis have not forgotten President Assad's crimes against the Iraqi people. [Even if Syria was only one of many countries that supported the "Iraqi resistance."]

      After President Assad's Iraqi proxies were defeated in 2007 and 2008, Assad flipped sides and pretended to be Iraqi's friend with his fake smiles. Not that anyone was surprised.

      Fortunately the Iraqi people and Government of Iraq are far better human beings than President Assad. They have not responded in kind. If Iraqis wanted, they could make Syria burn in civil war and terrorism. Iraqis taking the higher road speaks volumes about the character of the Iraqi people.

      Today in their hour of need, many Syrians are asking for international help. Today Syrians want Iraq to grant sanctuary to Syrian refugees and for Iraq to help protect the Syrian people inside Syria. Many Iraqis ask why should they help Syrians when the Syrians organized the celebrated the deaths of Iraqis 2003-2005.

      What is the answer of the Syrian people? What is the answer of the tens of millions around the world crying for the Syrian people now while not saying a word about President Assad's crimes against the Iraqi people?

  • US Reaching out to Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt
    • Turkish Justice and Development party is far more free market, socially liberal, secular [respectful of muslim minorities, other faiths, atheists, Jews], smaller government, pro business than the Muslim Brotherhood.

      They without apology support the Libyan intervention by NATO. They are talking about military action in Syria to help the Syrian people. They are talking about increasing their contribution in Afghanistan. The Turkish have no exit strategy in Afghanistan and will stay as long as the GIRoA and ANSF want their help against the Taliban.

      The American equivalent [not that there is one] might be Mitt Romney.

      The Justica and Development Party and Turkish exceptionalism have helped make liberal free market pro business policies hip and cool around the world.

      They were also one of the first major countries to bet on Government of Iraq and Iraqi Security Force victory in Iraq and offer the Iraqis serious help against the foreign backed "Iraqi resistance." Turkey has a remarkable amount of goodwill and influence among Iraqis at the moment, even in Kurdistan [especially compared to anytime over the past century.]

      Despite being very close to Israel the Justice and Development Party is extremely pro Palestinian. They have done more to benefit the Palestinian cause than almost any non Palestinian.

  • US Public Backs Obama, Wants out of Afghanistan
    • Joe from Lowell, Did you support militias that attacked the Government of Iraq and Iraqi Security Forces 2003-2008? If so, why?

    • Joe, you see Iraq through American ethnocentric goggles rather than Iraqi ones. You need to try to see Iraq through Iraqi terms and Iraqi history.

      Iraq fought a terrible civil war [which was to a large degree a regional and international war] between 1980 and 2008. Between one and two million Iraqis died in this terrible war. BTW, many Iraqis would correct the above statement and claim the civil war began in 1975 when the evil Saddam began a genocide of the Kurds. Saddam was scared he would lose the Iraqi civil war in 1980. He couldn't defeat the Iraqi resistance without taking out their sanctuaries, logistics, training, support and advisors in Iran. This is why he invaded Iran in 1980, hoping to weaken the Iraqi resistance. Two million died in the 1980-1988 Iran/Iraq war which coincided with an Iraqi civil war. After defeating Iran in 1988, Saddam siezed the Shat al Arab and convinced the Iranians to reduce their support for the Iraqi resistance; even though close to a hundred thousand Iraqi resistance fighters remained under arms.

      In 1991, when Pres Bush called for Iraqis to free themselves from one of the most evil and vicious creatures ever born in our species, the Iraqi people tried to do exactly that. Briefly they siezed 14 of 18 provinces. Possibly hundreds of thousands of Iraqis died in that freedom struggle. Have you seen videos of Najaf, Karbala, and other Iraqi cities during that period? Have you seen the way Saddam used heavy weapons to destroy mosques and population centers? Many Iraqis believe [not saying I agree] that the reason Saddam survived in 1991 was because Saudi Arabia, the Gulf, Jordan, Syria, America, Turkey and Europe helped him. Iraqis are similarly irate for what they believe to be American and other international support for Saddam against the Iraqi resistance 1991-2003.

      To this day this fuels immense anger at America, the UN, Arab League, Europe, Russia, India and the international community as a whole.

      Similarly it was widely believed by Iraqis that America was backing the Iraqi resistance, Baa3thists and Takfiris [including Al Qaeda] against the Iraqi people, legitimate government of Iraq, and legitimate Iraqi Security Forces between 2003 and 2007. [Again, not saying this is accurate.]

      This also caused great anti Americanism among Iraqis.

      You must have noticed how in 2003 the "new" Iraqi resistance overwhelmingly targetted Iraqis. Muqatada al Sadr and his followers were especially targetted by the Iraqi resistance [as mentioned by Zarkawi in a famous letter to Osama Bin Laden.]

      Muqtada screamed about this attempted genocide by the new Iraqi resistance continually. Muqtada demanded that international forces train, equip and fund the ISF so that they could defend the Iraqi people from the Iraqi resistance. Muqtada's pleas and the plees of the majority of Iraqis were ignored by the international community. The first serious extremely under resourced attempt to assist the ISF only began in June 2004. But the first resourced attempt to increase ISF capacity only began in 2006.

      Because of this terrible mistake, the ISF and GoI were not able to defeat their enemies until 2007. Many tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians died. Many of the 18 thousand Iraqi Security Forces who died didn't have to die. Iraqis remain upset about this.

      Do the views of 650 thousand ISF not matter at all to you? Do the views of the families of 650 thousand ISF not matter?

      "one doesn’t wage war to overthrow a government one considers legitimate." This has continually happened throughout history all over the world. People continually try to overthrow what they consider to be legitimate governments if they don't like them.

      "demonstrating that voting in the election is not a good indicator of finding the government legitimate, since one doesn’t wage war to overthrow a government one considers legitimate." You don't support free democracy or one person one vote majority rule? If democracy is good enough for Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Turkey, India, Bangladesh, South Korea, Albania, Bosnia, Azerbaijan and Japan, why can't Iraqis select their leaders too? Is it because Iraqis are "darkies"? Is it because Iraqis are "uncultured" or don't "smell nice"? The Arab league [or in your case America] should't be able to force leaders on the Iraqi people. Iraqis should choose their own leaders.

      Do you even know what Muqtada's largest gripe was? Muqtada believed that America was supporting the Iraqi resistance, Baa3thists, Al Qaeda, Takfiri against the Iraqi people. [Not saying that Sayyed Muqtada was right.] Why people fight you or why they are angry with you matters.

      Did you militias that attacked the Government of Iraq and Iraqi Security Forces 2003-2008? If so, why?

    • Joe from Lowell, you know almost nothing about Iraq.

      The Takfiri/Al Qaeda and Baa3thists tried to organize a genocide against the Iraqi people 2003-2007. The war was primarily against the Government of Iraq, the Iraqi Security Forces, Iraqi political parties, and the four fifths of Iraqis who were Shiite or Kurd. Many non Iraqi racists supported this attempted genocide.

      US defense secretary Rumsfeld opposed large scale US training, equipping, advising and funding to the ISF. As a result, it was only in 2006 that Bush over-ruled Rumsfeld and substantially increased MNF-I assistance to the ISF. Similarly, it was only in July 2006 that Iraq got a 4 year government that sharply increased Iraqi government spending on the Iraqi Security Forces.

      The Iraqi Security Forces with international help quickly won a major military victory, causing violence inside Iraq to fall 95% or more.

      It was only after the sharp improvement in the ISF and the ISF's military victory against Iraq's enemies that the Multinational Forces Iraq began to significantly draw down.

      The Iraqi government was perceived as legitimate by the large majority of Iraqis. It was non Iraqi anti Iraqi racists who didn't perceive the GoI and ISF as legitimate. That is until the Iraqi Security Forces won their military victory in 2007 and 2008. Then most of the non Iraqis who had earlier ridiculed and insulted the Government of Iraq suddenly flipped and pretended to be Iraq's friends.

      It is interesting how variations of this pattern continually happen in every part of the world.

      Don't know if "Joe from Lowell" is incredibly naive or purposely lying. It is widely known by Iraqis that the December 15th, 2005, election saw about 77% to 78% of all Iraqi voters participate. Iraqi Sunni Arabs overwhelmingly participated including most of the Sunni Arab militias that were fighting the Government of Iraq, Iraqi Security Forces and MNF-I. The election and political process in Iraq was perceived legitimate by the vast majority of Iraqis including Iraqis who fought against the Iraqi government.

      In fact the reason the Iraqi resistance fought against the GoI is because they thought the elections were legitimate and because they did poorly in the Iraqi elections.

      Tens of thousands of foreign fighters fought in Iraq on the behalf of many different Iraqi militias that fought on all sides of the Iraqi conflict.

      After the ISF defeated the "Iraqi resistance", they gradually disarmed the militias semi aligned with the Iraqi government. This is how the forign fighters were disarmed.

      Afghanistan is an international war. Unfortunately violence may well escalate and continue at a high level for decades to come.

      The ANSF and anti Taliban militias cannot defeat the Taliban in the South and East. The loose Taliban coalition cannot defeat the ANSF and GIRoA in most of Afghanistan either.

      The term "Taliban" is misleading, since it reflects a loose and broad coalition from many countries.

      Many of the Taliban now speak Arabic, Punjabi, Urdu or other non Afghan languages. Many of the Taliban have international ambitions. Many of the Taliban don't care about what happens outside of a few villages. The "Taliban" is in large part an extension of the Pakistani civil war.

      It is hard to see how Afghan can avoid large scale violence as long as the Pakistani civil war continues.

  • Enormous Truck Bomb Kills 6 US Troops in Afghanistan as Constitutional Crisis Looms
    • The ANA now has either 10 or 11 combat infantry battalions in Kandahar province, and they are inflicting a lot of pain on the QST. The QST is likely to continue to hit them. The ANA is the primary long term target of the QST.

      The ANSF have infiltrated the QST and the QST has infiltrated the ANSF. This is the nature of civil and regional war. It is my view the NDS may have infiltrated the QST better than the QST has infiltrated the ANA officer corps or NDS.

    • Juan,

      please read the article you quoted on ANP attrition:
      link to

      According to the article you quoted, total ANP attrition has averaged 1.5% per month over the last year. This matches numbers I have seen from NTM-A. This is an annualized attrition rate of 16.6%. {1-[1-1.5%]^12}

      The Afghan ministry of interior target is 16.8% attrition. MoI is almost exactly at their target.

      16.6% = wounded + killed + AWOL + [1 - percentage reenlistment rate]*[1/(3 year enlisted term)]

      This is a remarkably low attrition rate given the high ANP casualty rate.

      The Afghan MoI plans to have 23,000 training seats at any given time at end state. That is train 23,000 ANP at any given time through MG Patang's Afghan National Police Training Command. [up from 1 or 2 thousand when Obama was elected.]

      If we assume that the average length of ANP training is 6 months [averaged between officers who are trained much longer and AUP enlisted privates who are trained much less], then the current Afghan MoI training cycle trains 46,000 ANP per year, or 23,000 * [12 months/6 months.]

      46,000 ANP trained per year multiplied by 1 divided by 16.6%. Or 46,000 * 1/16.6% = 276,000 ANP end state.

      In other words if the ANP retains the current attrition rate, then the ANP will eventually stabilize at a strenght of 276,000. The ANP has 121,0000 right now, up from about 85 thousand a year ago.

      In other words the current ANP attrition rate means that the ANP will continue to grow at a very rapid rate.

      One of the largest problems in discussions about Afghanistan is that people don't carefully analyze what they say and why they say it. The ANP article is on balance positive about the ANP.

      Keep in mind that the real issue regarding ANP isn't aggregate attrition, but attrition for specific parts of the ANP. For example the AUP has a 1.1%/month attrition rate, while the ANCOP has an average attrition rate of about 2.2%/month.

  • On Reading the Qur'an: Hazleton
    • Nice clip. Not that it is new material. But she presents it very well with a good emotive resonance.

  • Maliki Announces Gain in Parliament as Baghdad mourns Church Massacre
    • "There is no other country in the middle east that can’t provide security to it’s citizens like it is in Iraq." Why are you saying this? Sectarianism? Racism? Per capita violence in Iraq is below the level of Venezuela, Colombia, South Africa and some Mexican provinces. Per capita violence in Iraq today is lower than per capita violence in Brazil was from the 1990s to the mid 2000s.

      You conveniently ignore how Iraq's neighbors sent tens of thousands of foreign fighters and billions of dollars to kill Iraqis. The large majority of the thousands of suicide bombers are not Iraqi. But you know that.

      Iraq could similarly cause chaos in many other countries. The fact that Iraqis do not do this reflects their character. Maybe it also reflects on the character of Iraq's "friendly" "brotherly" neighbors.

      "The american forces withdrew this year saying that the Iraqi forces are capable of providing security." They are.

      " Well, ACTIONS speak louder than words no matter what a general or anyone else for that matter says." Yes, they do. How many other Arab countries have won a war recently?

      "Hundreds killed and injured every day." An intentional lie. Violence in September and October 2010 was about 95% below violence in September and October 2006. Hundreds are not dying daily. However the Takfiri seem to be organizing a major terrorist attack once a month.

      "The war is getting as bad as 2006, so I cant congratulate the Iraqi or the american forces or agree with what you and the generals say."
      Are you jealous of the Iraqi Security Forces?

      "The only people that think the Iraqi forces are just fine are the ones that are not suffering at this time like the Kurds. The pictures of the blood of hundreds of Iraqis spilled every day are worth thousands of WORDS." Is "Leila" your real name? Somehow, I think you would speak with less bravado if you were face to face with actual ISF.

      Don't know who you are or what your real motivation is. There is a vibe about how you write. Many sectarian non Iraqi Sunni Arabs write the way you do. As do many former Saddamists who have had to flee Iraq.

      Iraq doesn't belong to them anymore. Iraq now belongs to Iraqis.

    • Leila, the Iraqi Special Operations Forces were declared by Gen Jones in the summer of 2007 and Gen Petraeus on 9.11.2007 to be as good or better than any other special forces in any middle east country. They are really that good.

      Many Americans still serve as embedded advisors and trainers for the ISF. Americans also provide combat enablers to many ISF units.

      The correct role for US-Forces Iraq is to help the ISF and GoI as the GoI requests them.

  • 28 More US Fuel Trucks Set Ablaze in Pakistan, 6 Killed, as Convoy Boycott Continues
    • watchdog, "Your simplified worldview and your faliure to understand the potence of a guerilla movment like the Taliban clouds your judgement." I would suggest you get Afghan perspectives about the Taliban and ANA. Ask them which do they support.

      Even ask Afghan villagers from Helmand this question. The answer might surprise you.

      Afghans are sophisticated people and capable of holding several ideas simultaneously. :-) Yes, even pro Taliban sourthern Pashtun Afghans think the ISI and Saudis back the Taliban. And even they are a little uneasy about it.

      It is widely believed by Afghans that ISAF secretly backs the Taliban against the GIRoA and ANSF. This believes drives a lot of resentment against ISAF on the part of the GIRoA, ANSF, and Afghan public. Keep in mind that Afghans who dislike ISAF generally dislike the Taliban as well and blame ISAF for backing the Taliban.

      "Fact of the matter is that most ANSF suffer from high degrees of desertion," Have the latest attrition numbers for the ANSF. They are comparable to western levels. If you would like this data, please e-mail Juan Cole and ask him to connect us.

      Thinking of summarizing attrition numbers of the ANSF in an article.

      One broad data point for now. ANP attrition rate = 16%. That includes wounded/killed + those who choose not to reenlist + AWOL.

      This is a remarkably low number considering the intensity of the fight the ANP is in. The ANP lost about two thousand dead in 2009.

      "lack of capacity," Would need a series of articles to summarize this. ANSF vary substantially in quality by unit. Good units include:
      ANA Special Forces
      9 ANA Commando combat battalions
      203rd ANA Corps with 3 Bde HQs and 11 combat infantry battalions [each planned to have 4 combat infantry companies] in Loya Paktia and Ghazni
      3-111 Heavy Mech Bde [Greek/French mentored] in Kapisha.
      3-215 Brigade in Helmand
      1-209 Brigade in the North
      21 ANCOP combat battalions [elite national police]
      Khost AUP = Afghan Uniformed Police
      Kabul AUP
      "lack of motivation other than the next paycheck" :LOL: Varies greatly by unit. Would you say this about the ANA commando combat battalions that have a 1% AWOL rate?

      "lack of training, lack of even litteracy." This part is true. The international community refused to train and provide literacy to the ANSF in a meaningful way before December, 2009.

      Do you track the ANSF? What is the source for your pessimism?

    • Ted, what acronyms do you want clarified? You can google them.
      ANA = Afghan National Army
      GIRoA = Government Islamic Republic of Afghanistan
      ANSF = Afghan National Security Forces
      QST = Quetta Shura Taliban
      MoI = Ministry of Interior
      ISI = Inter Service Intelligence
      209th ANA Corps is responsible for the Northern 9 provinces
      LeT = Lashkar e Toyba

      Lashkar al Zil = Iyas Kashmiri's people. Including his famous Brigade 313 that fought with such distinction in Kashmir in the 1990s. Also including Brigade 095 [Osama Bin Laden's original at one time mostly Arab brigade from the 1990s . . . i.e. the original Al Qaeda], and other formation. It is Iyas Kashmiri's Lashkar al Zil and Brigade 095 that are suppose to have routed an entire experienced 1-201 ANA Corps combat infantry battalion in Laghman recently. Which is extremely difficult to do.
      IMU = Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, IJU = Islamic Jihad Union of Uzbekistan.
      TTP = Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan
      TNSM = Tehreek-e-Nafaz-e-Shariat-e-Mohammadi

      It is extremely easy to google all of this. No intent to flaunt. No intent to offend you.

    • Rahman Hyder, looks like ISI propaganda has colonized your mind.

      Remember Mullah Omar's role in Chechnya? Remember that Russia nearly invaded Afghanistan in 1999 and 2001, before 9/11? Since 9/11 violence in Chechnya, and against Russia has dropped sharply. Why?

      Musharraf just publicly acknowledged his support for AQ and Taliban linked groups in Kashmir. After 9/11 violence in Kashmir fell 90%. Why?

      Why has extremist Taliban and AQ linked violence against Shiites and Iranians dropped after 9/11?

      Taliban is a motley collection of 50 groups. Some care only about their own specific subregion [not even caring about large Afghan cities.] Others care about global jihad. Have you ever read Siraj Haqqani's actual statements? Do you really believe that his ambitions do not extend to Sweden, Canada, New Delhi, Chechnya, Quom and Southern Thailand? :LOL:

      The 140 thousand patriotic Afghans in the ANA are not foreign invaders. 42% of them are Pashtun. Why are the Taliban trying to kill them? Why are the Taliban trying to kill 119 K ANP?

      Musharraf just explained that Pakistan needed to back Siraj, Haqqani and Mullah Omar if ISAF abondons the GIRoA and ANSF; as he seems to be implying they might.

      link to

      Do you think Afghans like having a bunch of internationally backed Hicks [yup Taliban and company] ruling them?

    • Nicely said Sara.

    • "The Central Asian republics may also be reluctant to be drawn into the conflict by becoming transit points for US military goods, as “The News” says. The Taliban have already increased their attacks in Qunduz in the north in part to block Afghan trade with Tajikistan and to intercept the military goods already coming in via that route. Tajikistan suffered a civil war in the 1990s and would not be eager to return to violence by picking a fight with the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban."

      This is a fundamental misreading. Tajikistan clearly backed the Northern alliance against Mullah Omar, Al Qaeda, and their allies in the early 2000s. On September 12th, 2001, if I am not mistaken Tajikistan joined China, India, Russia and Iran in pledging its support to the Northern Alliance against the Taliban.

      If Mullah Omar, Haqqani, TTP, TNSM, LeT, Lashkar al Zil, IMU/IJU, et all ever manage to take Kunduz [extremely unlikely], they will almost certainly try to take out Tajikistan. Tajikistan knows this as does the entire region. All the 5 Stans and Russia strongly favor a GIRoA/ANSF victory over the Taliban.

      This said, they are glad to free ride off ISAF and the international community's efforts to support the GIRoA and ANSF. However, if they seriously thought the ANSF and GIRoA were in danger of losing, they would likely try to help them more directly.

      Tajikistan probably is optimistic that the ANSF/GIRoA will be able to hold its own against the Taliban as of right now, especially in those parts of Afghanistan that Tajikistan cares about. No doubt this will come as a shock to some westerners.

      Juan, there is a perception among some in Pakistan that "their" Taliban will soon defeat the ANSF and GIRoA along with their ISAF allies. Many in the west have picked up this ISI narrative/propaganda. However, the perception in Afghanistan, Russia, Iran and India is different. The ANSF [especially the ANA, ANCOP, and NDS] remain optimistic that they will win this war in most of Afghanistan [they appear willing to temporarily cede portions of the south and smaller pockets of the east to the Taliban while they fight for the rest of the country in the short run.] I don't think the ANSF commanding generals and enlisted soldiers/policeman understand the degree to which the ISI narrative that the Taliban is defeating the ANSF has started to permeate western media.

      For now the Stans and Russia appear confident that Northern Afghanistan will hold. The Taliban in the North [which isn't Mullah Omar centric QST and is heavily foreign] has yet to prove its ability to take on 209th ANA Corps at a company level [company being about 100-250 troops.] 209th ANA Corps will have 11 combat infantry battalions within 3 months to hold the line in the top 9 provinces. Plus at long last Afghan MoI is actually authorizing the 9 northern provinces to hire police officers [versus reassigning Northern Police to the South.]

      The total ANSF combat power in the North is trippling. Even with a large surge in international Taliban fighters, it is hard to see how the Taliban doesn't suffer some serious losses in the North.

      Supply Route:

      Think the Stans and Russia are working the supply route for ISAF/GIRoA pretty hard. They would rather the supply route went through the North than through Pakistan. Don't need to remind you Juan about the extent of paranoia that Russia and the 5 stans have regarding Pakistan and their belief that parts of the Pakistani security establishments back the Taliban.

  • Iraqi Soldier Kills 2 Americans, Wounds 9
    • Brian, here is a link to only one joint exercise in Alaska. There are many other exercises. Some of them larger than this one:
      link to

      There are many countries interested in conducting division sized joint exercises with the US. Some countries want to practice corps level joint exercises with the US. Because of Iraq and Afghanistan the US hasn't been able to comply with these requests nearly as much as we would like to. Expect to see more large joint training exercises on US soil and on the soil of other countries as Afghanistan winds down.

      "year, year, you have your say about bad apples," What are bad apples?

      "and I remember you spinning “foreign advisors” tale before." It is no tale. Ask any friends you might have in the Iraqi Army about them. This is actual Iraqi history. You are asking the fully sovereign legitimate government to be the first government in Iraqi history not to invite tens of thousands of international combat advisors. [Saddam wanted the tens of thousands of international advisors to stay in 1990, but they left to protest Saddam's invasion of Kuwait.]

      Why would any Iraqi government want to do what you are asking them to do? Please try to put yourself in the shoes of an Iraqi and look at it from their perspective. Iraqis want a powerful military because Iraq has powerful enemies. Iraqis want international advisors to train and strenghten their military.

      "Afghan Army”soldiers that their USA “advisers” sometimes bombing them are any sort of apples you call them." What do you mean? Why do you put Afghan Army in quotation marks. Do you have some beef with them?

      Every military has friendly fire accidents and accidentally kills their own soldiers. This happens frequently in peace time during military practice exercizes. It happens in Afghanistan too. Do you really think that ANA would intentionally kill ISAF or ISAF would intentionally kill ANA or ISAF would intentionally kill ISAF? What is your basis for this belief? The ANA and the fifty country ISAF coalition are allies in a war against an international movement that wants to kill as many ANA as possible. They also want to kill Shiites, Ahmedis, Jews, Sufis, Europeans, Buddhists, Persians, Indians, Russians and Americans. Deal with the world as it is.

    • Umm, Glen and Janine, the Iraqi Army think that they won the war. They underestimate the US role in helping them win their war against the enemies of Iraq.

      I think they might be surprised to know that you don't think they won the war. Insufficient pride and being insufficiently pumped up isn't one of the IA's problems. ;-)

    • Iraq had tens of thousands of foreign advisors 1919-1990. 1968-1990 Iraq had tens of thousands of Indian, Soviet and French advisors. Pakistani ones too.

      There are frequent large training exercizes on US soil that involve many foreign troops. Similarly many foreign military soldiers attend US military courses. US military commands inside the US tend to have foreign military representatives at them. After 9/11 NATO aircraft flew flights to protect US airspace, freeing up US aircraft for operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

      Is the US occupied? Is Canada occupied by US troops? Are Britain, Italy, Turkey, Germany, Bulgaria, Japan, South Korea under US occupation?

      Lidia, why do you think Americans think Americans are superior to Iraqis rather than Iraqis thinking that they are superior to Americans? Iraqi civilization was ancient and advanced 6000 years ago.

    • This appears to have been a sport dispute. These things can get violent anywhere in the world. Many have died over soccer games. ;-)

      Violent attacks by IA against fellow IA or foreign forces have always been rare. They remain rare. This said, every country on earth has a fifth column of citizens who are strongly committed to destroying their own country. Iraq is no different. There will always be a few bad apples in the ISF who try to murder their fellow ISF, fellow Iraqis, and foreigners.

  • Cole on PBS 'Need to Know'
    • The Iraqi Security Force is going to need large numbers of private contractors indefinitely. It is built in their order of battle TO/E.

      Doesn't the sovereign Government of Iraq (GoI) have the right to hire security contractors?

      To my understanding all security contractors hired by the US Department of State and all other international foreign ministries are regulated by GoI. This doesn't apply to contractors hired by US Forces Iraq. However, the large majority of contractor mess ups applied to non US Forces Iraq contractors. US Department of State contractors were particularly notorious.

  • Iraqis differ in Reactions to US Combat Troops' Departure
    • eCAHNomics,

      Don't even know where to start with that. Iraq has been ruled by foreign powers since the Mongols invaded in the 1200s. The British Indian Army [with mostly Indian/Pakistani/Bangladeshi NCOs and officers] started building up the Iraqi Army in the 1920s from scratch. Large numbers of British advisors remained in Iraq until 1968. In 1959, India sent large numbers of advisors to Iraq. India use to keep 15 thousand troops in Iraq at a time for decades to build up the Iraqi Security Forces and provide combat enablers. Many Russian, French and Pakistani troops were in Iraq for the same purpose.

      Remember the large role Pakistani advisors to the Iraqi Army and Iraqi Air Force played in the 1967 and 1973 wars between Iraq and Israel?

      In 1990, many tens of thousands of international advisors and combat enablers left Iraq to punish Saddam for invading Kuwait. The Iraqi Army fell apart within days in 1991 without international advisors and combat enablers to toughen their ranks. The Iraqi resistance nearly overran 14 out of 18 Iraqi provinces in the great Iraqi civil war of 1991.

      Iraq's army largely hated Saddam, regarding him as evil and illegitimate, and were disloyal to their chain of command. This is another reason for the poor performance of the Iraqi Army 1991-2003.

      Many Iraqis have said [some to me directly] that the new Iraqi Army is better quality than the old Iraqi army [especially the 1991-2003 unmentored Iraqi Army.] They are correct to say so.

      eCAHNomics, please keep in mind that the new Iraqi Army is better quality than the Saddam Iraqi Army when you bash the new Iraqi Army. Of course you are right that the new Iraqi Army has to get a lot better. But you can't expect Iraq to change a millenia of history overnight.

  • Last US Combat Units withdraw from Iraq
    • Colm O' Toole, Iraq has bad to mixed relations with every country in the greater middle east except for 2. Turkey and to a lesser degree Egypt.

      KSA/Iraqi relations are particularly rocky.

    • The answer is more complex that this. For some time most "US bases" were Iraqi Security Force bases with US bases co-located on them. This is how bases should be. Combined ISF/US bases. All US forces embedded inside ISF.

      The old FOBs from 2003 were awful.

    • Nicely said Juan. I and other oil observors felt that Chinese companies would win a plurality of contracts back in 2002 and 2003. That has turned out to be correct.

    • Why don't Iraqis have a right to an air force?

    • Andrew, Saddam wasn't a run of the mill cruel dictator. He was one of the most evil homo sapiens ever born. He committed genocide against his own people.

    • mat noir, do you consider the Iraqi Army an army of occupation? Do you think it is continuing to "rule these totally demoralized subhuman teenagers"?

      If the Iraqi Security Forces shouldn't provide them security, then who should?

    • Juan, I think a lot of the people who state this type of stuff regard the Iraqi government and Iraqi Army as illegitimate and forces of oppression/occupation over the Iraqi people.

      The Iraqi Army is likely to keep tens of thousands of contractors for decades to come. What other choice does it have?

    • a_berns,

      Every country on earth except for 3 [Pakistan, KSA, UAE] regarded the Taliban as illegitimate. The world and UN recognized the Northern Alliance as the sole legitimate Afghan Government.

      You must be aware of the large number of terrorist attacks against Shiites, Iranians, Russians, Indians, Pakistanis, Uzbekistanis, Tajikistanis, Afghans that the Taliban supported. Realms and realms of evidence on all of this was provided to Mullah Omar and his backers [Pakistan, KSA, UAE] for many years. No response.

      9/11 was the last straw.

      a_berns, did you support the 1988 genocide of Gilgit Kashmiri Shiites by Osama Bin Laden? How about the 1997/98 massacre of Shiites by Osama Bin Laden and Mullah Omar in Mazar e Sharif?

  • Kurdish General Again Insubordinate, Angles for US to Remain in Iraq
    • "Where was he when hundred of thousands of Iraqi children, women and men were being killed, tortured and ethnically cleansed ?Where was he when millions of Iraqi were forced out of their own homes and their own country and scattered as refugees all over the Arab countries? living on less than 3 dollars a day in best case scenario. The beautiful Iraqi women cant even find jobs cleaning the houses of other Arab country house holds to provide for their own malnourished children."
      Gen Zebari was building the Iraqi Training and Doctrine Command [ITDC] and using it to train, equip and deploy the Iraq Army, Iraqi Navy, and Iraqi Air Force. This is extremely hard stuff. Gen Zebari's operational commander who operationalized the surge campaign of 2007 was LTG Ghaidan [Deputy Chief of the Iraqi Joint Staff for Operations and commanding general of the Iraqi Ground Forces Command.] LTG Ghaidan [who reported to Zebari] commanded all operational Iraqi Army in the fight. Zebari was the equivalent of MNF-I commanding Gen Petraeus, while Ghaidan was the equivalent of MNC-I commanding LTG Odierno.

      "If Zabari is a hero, why cant he prevent the mass oil smuggling from the kurdish provinces to Iran?" Zebari executes what the PM and IMoD minister order him to execute. Your question should be directed at PM Maliki.

      I am guessing that you are an Arab. Maybe a non Iraqi Arab. If so, you are right that some Iraqi Kurds have mistreated Iraqi Sunni Arabs. It goes both ways though.

      Kudos to you for your compassion towards Iraqi Sunni Arab victims. Please remember the 15 thousand brave sons of Iraq who died fighting in the Iraqi Security Forces 2003-2008. Many of them were Sunni Arab Iraqis.

    • Lidia, the Iraqi Army was heavily British mentored until the Baa3th coup of 1968. The Iraqi President Abd al-Karim Qasim [1958-1963] kept large numbers of British advisors in Iraq. He, however, diversified advisors by bringing many Indian military advisors. Between 1959 and 1990, the Iraqi Army was heavily mentored by Indian advisors. The British advisors didn't leave Iraq until 1968, after which Iraq became heavily dependent on large numbers of Indian, French and Soviet advisors.
      Iraq also brought in many Pakistani embedded advisors. Have you heard of the Pakistani Bangladeshi pilot hero, saif ul Islam? He got his two kills against Israel flying for the Iraqi Air Force Hunter Squadron in 1967.

      I have no idea what you mean by the term "puppet." Who was Saddam Hussein a "puppet" of? Satan?

    • "That is why every time you hear of a bomb in Baghdad, which will of course be attributed to al-Qa’ida, you should ask yourself whether it was not in fact the Kurds."
      Please apologize immediately for this slanderous, racist and sectarian remark.

      Kurdish Iraqis in the Iraqi Army have served Iraq, the Iraqi Army and the chain of command loyally.

    • 1) General Babakr Zebari has 4 stars
      2) General Babakr Zebari has been the commanding general of the Iraqi Armed Forces since 2003. To repeat he has been the top officer in the Iraqi Armed Forces since 2003
      3) General Babakr Zebari has been the chairman of the Iraqi Joint Staff and chairman of the Iraqi Army Staff since 2003
      4) General Babakr Zebari built the new Iraqi Army from scratch in 2003 and won a major war. Violence in Iraq fell about 95% from late 2006 under his Counter Insurgency Strategy and Battle Plan. It was the strategy of the Iraqi Joint Staff that General Babakr Zebari chairs that won the war. MNF-I served as a support to his strategy.
      5) General Babakr Zebari is a popular national hero among Iraqis across the political spectrum.

      To imply that General Babakr Zebari is sectarian or not a nationalist is to insult the Iraqi Army and its institutional culture.

      What General Babakr Zebari's comments really are about is the Iraqi Air Force. In 2008, most of Iraq's Air Force procurement was canceled or delayed because of the huge budget deficit and low oil prices. General Babakr Zebari was not pleased about it. He correctly feels that the Iraqi Air Force will not be sufficiently capable to meet Iraq's security requirements until 2020. General Babakr Zebari is trying to persuade the Obama Administration to help Iraq build up its air force. General Babakr Zebari is also trying to persuade the Iraqi Parliament to accelerate IMoD [Iraqi Ministry of Defense] procurement.

      Perhaps you consider strong armed public relations to push the parliament to approve ISF weapons procurement to be insubordinate. Perhaps. But if the Iraqi Parliament continues to delay ISF procurement, then the continued reliance of the ISF on international enablers is the fault of the Iraqi Parliament.

      General Babakr Zebari doesn't want a large US presence. Maybe 20 thousand to serve as trainers and combat enablers after 2011. Which would be an unusually small number of advisors by Iraqi historic standards.

      Keep in mind that India use to keep 15 thousand troops in Iraq as advisors in the 1970s and 1980s. Which means over a hundred thousand Indian troops rotated through Iraq. Similarly there were very large numbers of French, Soviet and other combat advisors in Iraq in the 1970s and 1980s.

      In 1973, the Iraqi Air Force was flown by Pakistani pilots during the war against Israel [where the Iraqi and Saudi Air Forces flew in support of Egypt and Syria.] There were many other Pakistani combat embedded advisors in Iraq at that time as well.

      When these combat advisors were withdrawn in late 1990, the Iraqi Armed Forces fell apart. Leading to the disastrous dissolution of early 1991, and 14 provinces temporarily being captured by the Iraqi resistance [Hakim, Badr, al Dawa, Chalabi, Barzani, Talabani, Allawi, Pachachi et all.] If the Iraqi resistance had kept its act together then, they would have defeated Saddam in 1991. Instead they didn't finally triumph until the mid 2000s. Of course, they rule Iraq now.

  • 6 Million Pakistanis need Immediate Aid as 1/3 of Country is Submerged
    • Juan, perhaps you might mention how the Afghan Air Force has played a significant role in Pakistani disaster relief from the beginning.

      At least 4 Mi17s are flying missions inside Pakistan. They are un-mentored by ISAF.

  • US Military Mission in Iraq ends not with a Bang but a Whimper
    • Juan, very respectfully, McCain's plan to draw down to 4 US advise and assist brigades was very similar to Petraeus' and Obama's plan. [peak was 24 US brigades + coalition brigades from UK, South Korea, Georgia, Ukraine, Italy and others.] Their timeline for getting to 4 brigades were very similar.

      The only difference might be what to do once they get to 4th Brigade. The current understanding is that the US draws down to about 10,000 troops who will focus on training the IqAF [Iraqi Air Force], ground based air defense, medivac, and other key combat enablers. These 10,000 would be given diplomatic visas. This is similar to what the US does with many other countries.

      Chances are however, that Iraq requests a larger training mission. Probably 20,000 troops. [To increase ISF capacity.] This request can only come after the formation of the government.

      The biggest question Obama confronts is whether to help Iraq develop a large and capable army and air force. The Iraqi Army and Iraqi Police will apply major pressure on the GoI to request this. Israel, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria, Iran, Gulf States might resist this because they fear what the Iraqi Army will do to them in the future.

      Turkey and maybe Egypt [I hope] see Iraq and the Iraqi Army as an ally, and are likely to encourage a larger US effort to train the ISF.

      The primary question for America is how capable an ISF do we want to help the Iraqis develop. The number and types of troops are secondary affects of that decision.

  • Taliban influence Spreading in Afghanistan
    • Chris, the terminology is pro GIRoA forces [combined ANP + ISAF + ANA]. The largest cause of pro GIRoA civilian casualties is traffic accidents. Why did McChrystal make improved ANSF/ISAF such a huge issue in June, 2009? Because poor driving was causing so much anger among Afghan civilians.

      A substantial percentage of civilian casualties are caused by organized crime, ordinary crime, or by unknown causes.

      While the vast majority of civilian casualties are caused by the Taliban, some Taliban try to avoid civilian casualties. Specific Taliban groups cause disproportionate civilian casualties. There are more than 50 major Taliban groups. They are not all the same.

    • Don't understand your meaning.

      Kunduz is unusual because of the many foreign fighters, including IJU/IMU [Uzbekistan Taliban], Chechens, Pakistanis, who fight along HiG/Hekmatyur. Many of these foreign fighters are lead by very capable officers. After all, they nearly defeated the Russian army in Chechnya in the 1990s, which is no joke [Zawahiri and many Afghan/Uzbek/Pakistani Taliban fought in Chechnya in addition to Chechens.] Many of the Kunduz Taliban have also served tours of duty fighting in Uzbekistan, Kashmir, and Pakistan [against the Pakistani Army.]

      The Kunduz Taliban are better equipped and better trained than the ANP they fight against, which is why ANA is needed in the province [or MoI needs to start providing heavy weapons to the Kunduz ANP.] The advantage the ANP and ANA have is popular support. If the ANP and ANA can demonstrate sufficient technical competence, they should win. Until now, they weren't allowed to win, because ANA and ANP were diverted elsewhere in Afghanistan. That changes by the end of this year.

      Roger, wrote that "ANSF" can win in Kunduz. ISAF in my view shouldn't be diverted from elsewhere in the country. ISAF in Kunduz should serve as embedded advisors and fight through the ANSF, which is the current plan I believe.

      On Taliban popular support:
      59% of non Pashtun Afghans oppose the Taliban
      41% of Pashtun Afghans are mixed. Maybe one quarter strongly support the Taliban.

      The Taliban are not that numerous, which is why pessimism about the prospects of the ANSF is puzzling.

    • 209th ANA Corps [which is responsible for the 8 Northern Afghan provinces and is supported by ISAF RC-North] just got a 3rd ANA brigade. It will have 11 combat battalions by the end of 2010.

      Kunduz has finally gotten authorization for more ANP inside their province [until now Kunduz Pasthun ANP were frequently redeployed to the South to populate the Southern ANP with motivated competent Pashtuns.]

      Kunduz should have enough troops by the end of 2010.

      Kunduz is unusual in that most of the Pashtun strongly oppose the Taliban. Even Pashtuns in Kunduz demand more ISAF air strikes to assist their ANSF against the Taliban. [ISAF has been reluctant to comply so far.]

      If the ANSF can defeat the Taliban anywhere it is in Kunduz.

  • Repubs Plot Israel-Iran Apocalypse and the Collapse of the US Economy
    • Usama, what Iranian military arsenal are you referring too? None of the great global arms suppliers have supplied Iran cutting edge military tech. Their air force has mostly fallen apart. Even the UAE alone could probably quickly destroy the Iranian air force, Iranian navy and Iranian air defense.

      If Iran attacked the neighbors, China, India, Japan, South Korea, EU, North America, South America and Africa would be irate at them for trying to cause a global depression. Plus, it wouldn't work.

      Keep in mind that Khamanei doesn't trust the Iranian military and has kept it weak. Khamanei has traditionally relied on the IRGC Kuds force.

    • The Iranian military lacks the capacity to attack the oil infrastructure of the Arab countries or shut the port of Hormuz.

      What if the Arab states collectively attacked Iran's nuclear program? Could Iran retaliate? On paper, the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Gulf militaries have far more fire power than Iran does. They would also likely get the support of Iraq, Jordan and Egypt. The Najaf Marjeya, Allawi and Maliki are not too fond of Khamanei and didn't congratulate Ahmeninijad on his election victory last year.

      Juan, I doubt that Iran has much capacity to retaliate inside Iraq. The Iraqis would see it as a declaration of war, and the IA and IP would respond accordingly. Why would Iran risk that?

  • Civilian Casualties are Causing the War in the First Place: Rethinking Afghanistan, Pt. 4
    • The latest UN report on civilian casualties finds that the Taliban causes a larger higher ratio of Taliban to GIRoA casualties than the report you cite.

      What is interesting about the latest reports on civilian casualties is that 16% of them are caused by ANSF/ISAF driving accidents. 6% by air strikes. This is one reason for the huge recent emphasis by ANATC, MoI and NTM-A on improving ANSF driver training. Similarly, ISAF is pushing for better driving among its forces.

      After an airstrike, now ANSF and ISAF will remain at the scene for some time, explaining what happened and why. ANSF commanding generals, ISAF commanding generals, and GIRoA leaders will visit the families of the bereaved and ask forgiveness. Under Pushtunwalla it is hard for the families to turn down these requests for forgiveness.

      By contrast, after traffic accidents, ANP often run away. There are many negative examples with respect to ISAF as well. Commanding ANSF and ISAF generals do not always visit the bereaved families and ask for forgiveness. This causes a lot of anger and resentment. Much more so than air strikes, probably. If you noticed, McChrystal emphasized improved driving and post accident remediation more than he emphasized air strikes in his directives to ISAF troops. [Which is also an indirect plea to the ANSF to do the same.]

      How you deal with casualties after they happen is in many ways more important in terms of the immediate local response than the number of civilian casualties.

      If you exclude the terrorist attacks conducted by Sirrajuddin Haqqani and his proxy allies TTP, TNSM and LeT, the Taliban and GIRoA/ISAF might kill a similar number of civilians. By some estimates, as much as 75% of all Afghan civilian casualties are caused by them. Although Siraj advocates insists that Mullah Omar centric QST is behind more casualties, especially due to I.E.Ds.

      I think civilian casualties might have a smaller immediate affect on kinetic operations than you think. However, it probably does affect local population interactions with ANP, ANA, ISAF, and Taliban militias. It might affect the number of anonymous cell phone tips that each party receives. Over time, this is important, especially longer run. However, short term kinetics is another matter.

      The Taliban and ANA and ANP capacity for short term kinetics is driven by their funding, their training cycle capacity, their NCOs and officers, their embedded combat advisors [foreign Taliban in the case of the Taliban, ISAF in the case of ANSF] and their logistics. If any of the parties get more money, they can hire more locals to fight alongside them.

      Why do you think a Pashtun joins the ANA, ANP, or Taliban? To collect a pay check, or because the other side has killed civilians? How could you tell?

      Many Taliban militias pay their soldiers, NCOs and officers better than the ANSF does. And their flow of money, logistics [artillery, RPGs, explosives, annumnition, food and water], leaders and embedded combat advisors [foreign Taliban] seems to be surging. On the flip side, the same is true of the ANA and ANP, with surging recruitment [with albeit severely shortened training cycles], funding, logistics [many new combat service support battalions, plus access to ISAF logistics], ISAF advisors, and ISAF combat enablers.

      The GIRoA allied forces, Taliban allied forces, and Pakistani Army all remain deeply dependent of funding, logistics and leadership.

      To change the topic, Juan, why do you think ANSF Pashtun recruitment in Eastern, Northern and Western Afghanistan is so strong, while ANSF Pashtun recruitment in the South is so much weaker? Some might argue that this is because of the large role played by foreign Taliban in the east and north, as well as Taliban terrorist attacks [which tend to happen in Kabul, the North and East], as well as the Mullah Omar centric's relative popularity in the South.

      What is your opinion?

    • Juan, since June 1st, about 89% of all known civilian casualties were caused by the Taliban. Do you think this is causing a surge in Pashtun recruits for the ANA and ANP?

      Usually in the Winter, the ANA cannot fit all recruits into its training slots, resulting in a waiting list. During harvest season, however, the number of ANA recruits fall below training slots. This year for the first time in a couple years, even in harvest season, ANA recruiting has exceeded training slots. This is one reason the ANA has risen from about 95 thousand in 11-2009 to 134 thousand in 7-2010.

      Personally, I think the correlation between civilian casualties and recruitment in the ANA, ANP, Taliban and Pakistani Army is uncertain. It seems like neither the ANA, ANP, Taliban nor Pakistani Army have any trouble finding Pashtuns eager to join them and fight. The ANA, Taliban and Pakistani Army all have fighting cultures.

      The main impediment for all parties seems to be funding and training slots. All sides are flushed with funding this year. All sides, except for maybe the Pakistani Army, pay their Pashtun recruits a decent wage. Until the Taliban funding can be limited, there seems to be no shortage of Afghan and Pakistani Pashtuns eager to join them and get paid. Similarly, the ANA seems to be able to recruit an unlimited number of Pashtuns provided the ANA has the money to pay them.

      Does anyone have any ideas on how to limit Taliban funding?

  • The $1 Trillion Cost of War: Rethinking Afghanistan, Pt. 3
    • ANATC [ANA Training Command] only planned to train 1,950 NCOs per year back in November, 2009. Now the plan is to train 15,450 NCOs a year, an 8 fold increase.

      Since the training and funding for the ANSF mostly began 8 months ago, why are you so pessimistic about the ANSF's ability to win this war, provided the international community doesn't refuse to fund it?

      The ANA has already expanded from 95 thousand to 134 thousand in the last 8 months. Among other units, it has already created 94 new combat companies [in addition to two new ANA commando combat battalions], one Corps HQs, 5 brigade HQs, 3 combat service support battalions.

      This has already shifted the regional balance of power, and resulted in a surge in ANA kinetic operations against the Taliban.

    • The effort to train and resource the ANSF began for most intensive purposes in November, 2009.

      It is far cheaper to resource the ANSF than to use ISAF direct action.

  • Rethinking Rethinking Afghanistan, Pt. 1
    • Perhaps you should mention that the ANA is 3% southern Pasthun and 39% non southern Pasthun. There are many anti Taliban Pashtun in the East and the North.

      It might be worth noting that the ANA and especially the ANP were severely under resourced and under funded until November, 2009.

      One factoid. In 2009, the ANP only trained one thousand police at a time. Iraq, even though geographically and population wise smaller than Afghanistan, trains 40 thousand police at a time.

      The current plan is to increase the number of ANP being trained at any given time to 24 thousand by March, 2012. This is the real "surge" or "escalation."

      Robert Greenwald apparently opposes this because he is suspicious and skeptical about the the ANA and ANP.

  • Petraeus Memo Widens scope of US Military Covert Operations in ME
  • Taliban Attack Qandahar Airfield; Parliament goes on Strike
    • Would like to thank Canadians and other allies who sacrificed in Kandahar province. Would also like to remember the many Afghan mothers who will never see their brave sons again. Brave sons who died in the ANA and ANP. Kandahar province has seen horrific losses by the Afghan National Security forces.

      The many ANSF units operating in Kandahar province have advisors from many different countries. Thanks to them too.

      I fear that to resource the Kandahar operation, ANA and ANP will be depleted from the rest of Afghanistan . . . harming security in the rest of the country.

    • Isn't Kandahar Air Base a joint ANA (ANAAC) ISAF base? The Afghan National Army Air Corps Kandahar Air Wing is based Kandahar Air Base .

      Is Baghram and ISAF base or a joint ANA/ISAF base?

      Matt Connolly what does "American base" mean? As you know there are 51 countries in Afghanistan other than Afghanistan and the US. Soon there will be over 50,000 non US non Afghan troops in Afghanistan. As a result, most everything in Afghanistan is joint ANSF/multinational.

      The attack on KAF was a squad sized nonevent. Why is it getting coverage? Didn't they just fire 6 rounds at KAF before fleeing? To my knowledge, no one was wounded on the ISAF and ANSF side.

      "we are too powerful" meaning what?

      "and our bases are basically impregnable" what is that suppose to mean?

      You do realize that Iraq was primarily a war between the ISF and Iraq's enemies; and that Afghanistan is primarily a war between the ANSF and Afgahnistan's enemies, I hope. The only way the enemy wins is by defeating the ISF and ANSF. The ISF won in Iraq. Defeating the ANSF will be very challenging for AQ linked networks and the Taliban.

      "creating an ever greater military" what does this mean?
      "and doing the impossible" on what parallel universe is increasing the capacity of the ANSF "impossible"? I think you would concede that the ISF has won in Iraq.

      "I find it interesting that we follow the lead of the 19th Century British model in our dealing with Iraq and Afghanistan." A meaningless jumble of words that are so generic to mean nothing.

      If we look at recorded human history to the present FID centric advisory/training missions have been common. You could think of the Trojan war as Greek special forces advising and training common Greek soldiers.
      1971-1988, the Iraqi Army was advised and trained by tens of thousands of Indian, Soviet and French soldiers. The US revolutionaries 1775-1783 were part of a French financed FID centric training/advisory mission.

      China 1942-1945 against Japan was a US financed FID centric training/advisory mission.

      The 2006 Hezbollah Israel war was an Iranian financed FID centric training/advisory war against Israel.

    • citizen, Iraq was a sovereign country that wasn't ruled by a legitimate legal sovereign government 1968-2003. Saddam was one of the most evil homo sapiens ever born in the history of our species. Saddam didn't have the right to mass murder a bunch of Iraqis to declare himself and his uncle the Iraqi Government in 1968. Nor was he a real Iraqi. To be an Iraqi you need to be human being first.

      With respect to drones, I believe you were talking about Pakistan. Drones aren't used that much for air strikes inside Afghanistan. You are aware, of course, that the Pakistani Government has co-sovereignty on all drone strikes inside Pakistan. You apparently disagree with the Pakistani government on drone strikes.

      If you were Pakistan's leader, what would you do?

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