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Total number of comments: 79 (since 2013-11-28 15:36:05)


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  • Are US troops in Afghanistan causing Talibanism?
    • 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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