Afghanistan 2010 – ‘Decent Interval (COIN Remix)’

We all get IMAX 3D seats to the 2010 remix of a flailing Superpower’s failing war. (No, not the in-camera expensive 3D shot on location but the sloppy, shoddy and cheap post production 3D ).

Per Fred Kaplan, COIN and all that? So 2009. “U.S. and NATO forces are [now] concentrating more on a different, possibly faster, explicitly more forceful means of pressuring the Taliban to the negotiating tables.” Stand-off kinetic fire on target has risen 300% in the last 12 months (NYT says 50%). The increased operational tempo presumably is intended to assist NATO’s effort to facilitate ‘reconciliation’ talks among Karzai and Taliban factions.

‘Grooming’ the battlespace for a fantasized secondary coercive political effect is, of course, more PowerPoint nonsense. Considering that the U.S. is actually more ignorant of its environment 9 years into this sordid affair than by comparison 1974 (9 years after Da Nang). Moreover, both the Mayor of Kabul, Karzai, and the Taliban loathe the U.S. and keenly aware of the clock running out.

Petraeus et al. have some advantages. Unlike the Southeast Asian Unpleasantness, the Nation never really went there. No draft. With 15 minute news cycles, ADD tweeting ‘thought leaders’, what is a ‘Decent Interval’ now? After all, who remembers the Gulf Oil Spill? That happened here. It’ll also assist with the inevitable “Stab in the Back’ narrative. (Btw, anyone else notice Time/Life hawking Nazi porn commercials on cable this October with almost Beckian urgency? Expect the forthcoming ‘Stab in the Back’ to be of that ilk, more an apolitical merchandizing opportunity than immediate post-1975. Everyone is in the click throughs and ‘Likes’ chase now).

On a related note, we’d like to say the reports of war crimes, sanctioned murder of unarmed Afghans and cover-up by the 5th Stryker Combat Brigade is a surprise. But can’t. As longtime readers will recall, we’ve long predicted this would happen as a systemic inevitability, when mission incoherence fosters creeping nihlism that subborns institutional ethos, discipline and self-image. The late Charlie Moskos might have had much to say on the sociological phenomenon/vulernability to militaries throughout history.

When the 5th Stryker Combat Brigade arrived in Afghanistan, its leader, Col. Harry D. Tunnell IV, openly sneered at the U.S. military’s counterinsurgency strategy. The old-school commander barred his officers from even mentioning the term and told shocked U.S. and NATO officials that he was uninterested in winning the trust of the Afghan people.

Instead, he said, his soldiers would simply hunt and kill as many Taliban fighters as possible, as dictated by the brigade’s motto, “Strike and Destroy.”

What resulted was a year of tough fighting in territory fiercely defended by the Taliban and a casualty rate so high that it triggered alarms at the Pentagon. By the time the 3,800-member brigade returned in July to Joint Base Lewis-McChord, near Tacoma, Wash., it had paid a steep price: 35 soldiers were killed in combat, six were dead from accidents and other causes, and 239 were wounded.

The brigade also carried home a dark legacy that threatens to overshadow its hard-won victories and sacrifices on the battlefield. In some of the gravest war-crime charges to arise from the Afghan conflict, five soldiers have been accused of killing unarmed Afghan men, apparently for sport, and desecrating their corpses. Seven other platoon members have been charged with other crimes, including smoking hashish – which some soldiers said happened almost daily – and gang-assaulting an informant.


  1. Dr Leo Strauss says

    All dumping on Brits for fake Taliban interlocutor. A shop keeper from Quetta adds that extra fine detail. (Natch, the ever vigilant XYZ/COM Americans *never bought it at all*). We still envision it as Chauncey Gardner though, strolling through NATO with Peter Sellers’ aplomb.


  2. Dr Leo Strauss says

    Perhaps we’re not representative. What struck reading the Salon snark list on pundits? We don’t pay attention to almost any of them anymore. Especially those in print.

    Even 4-5 years ago, a banal Friedman column would demand Pepsid antacid or at least a Makers Mark double, neat. Now, who cares? Haven’t read his column in years. Broder? Same. Cohen? Same. Most of them simply don’t exist anymore for the Stiftung. If some other site blogs about a particularly insipid sample, we might cross post it for yucks. Generally, we don’t care.

    Our gripe instead lies with those who’ve embedded themselves in various cable TV gigs. They’re more intrusive and annoying, the Finemans, etc. That whole Mika Den Mother thing.

    Do folks here have a different reaction?

  3. Comment says

    Have to agree with Salon that MoDo is just phoning it in now – half heartedly – Her last column had two paragraphs tacked on to the end that had nothing to do with the rest of the pieced – Also, just like Salon – we noticed she corrected her online frothings of her brother without noting the correction (after a commenter told her the error)

  4. Comment says

    re St Petraeus – just a short while ago Bill Bennett was musing on the significance of his Roman sounding name (actually Magna Graecia, but we have Dr. Bennett a pass) and how bing evocative of the Roman empire signifies a return to glory.

  5. Dr Leo Strauss says

    St. David Petraeus hastens to Fox News to blurt he suspected the Taliban ‘rep’ was a fake all along despite all the time and cash given to him . . . utterly shameless.

  6. DrLeoStrauss says

    An intense military campaign aimed at crippling the Taliban has so far failed to inflict more than fleeting setbacks on the insurgency or put meaningful pressure on its leaders to seek peace, according to U.S. military and intelligence officials citing the latest assessments of the war in Afghanistan.

    Escalated airstrikes and special operations raids have disrupted Taliban movements and damaged local cells. But officials said that insurgents have been adept at absorbing the blows and that they appear confident that they can outlast an American troop buildup set to subside beginning next July.

    Go team.

  7. Comment says

    The best part of that recent O’Donnell clip is when the Widener law audience starts to laugh at her and she really insincerely thinks they are laughing with her and at Coons.

  8. Comment says

    “I suppose it would be considered lacking in nuance to nuke the Sunni Triangle. But so goes the unanimous vote around my household – and I’m betting millions of others – in the aftermath of what forevermore will be remembered simply as “Fallujah.”

    -Kathleen Parker, April 3, 2004,

  9. Comment says

    “If we let our vision of the world go forth and we embrace it entirely, and we don’t try to piece together clever diplomacy but just wage a total war … our children will sing great songs about us years from now.”-Perle

  10. Comment says

    “It is hard to imagine how anyone could doubt that Iraq possesses weapons of mass destruction.”

    — Feb 6, 2003, Washington Post

  11. Comment says

    “I believe demolishing Hussein’s military power and liberating Iraq would be a cakewalk. Let me give simple, responsible reasons: (1) It was a cakewalk last time; (2) they’ve become much weaker; (3) we’ve become much stronger; and (4) now we’re playing for keeps.”

    –Ken Adelman, Feb 13, 2003 in the Washington Post

  12. Comment says

    “The failure of the Bush team to produce any weapons of mass destruction (W.M.D.’s) in Iraq is becoming a big, big story. But is it the real story we should be concerned with? No. It was the wrong issue before the war, and it’s the wrong issue now. Why? Because there were actually four reasons for this war: the real reason, the right reason, the moral reason and the stated reason.”
    –Thomas Friedman, June 4, 2003, New York Times

  13. Dr Leo Strauss says

    re Movement ‘Private security’ . . . Miller’s obviously up on Supreme Court precedent.

    WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Tuesday let stand a decision dismissing a lawsuit filed by two people who were ejected from a speech by President George W. Bush in 2005. They had arrived in a car bearing a bumper sticker that said “No More Blood for Oil,” and they claimed that their First Amendment rights were violated when they were marched out of the event.

    When Mr. Bush spoke about Social Security at a Denver museum, it was an official function open to the public. The two people who were ejected, Leslie Weise and Alex Young, said they had engaged in no protest or disruption and were excluded only because of the message on the bumper sticker.

    As is its practice, the court gave no reasons for turning down the appeal in the case.

  14. Comment says

    Media lib loser C. Todd ringing his hands over Conway’s obviously effective if demagogic attacks on Rand Paul. The reason he is a loser is because he and Dowd et al all think this is acceptable tactic when used against Dems.
    Conway would – imo – be better off using Ayn Rand as a cudgel –

  15. Comment says

    Actually Meghan is a great great granddaughter of a plantation owner – Interesting that no one challanges Pletka about putting US troops at risk re Iran over supposed Saudi security worries.

  16. Comment says

    Pletka is deeply worried about Saudi and Kuwaiti security concerns – she says – in the wake of Iranian nuke schemes –

  17. Comment says

    Christine O’D – for all her limitations – could be described as less privledged and more accomplished version of Meghan McCain – Essentially, a personality converted into politico.

    So Meghan McCain lashed out at O’D on ThisWeek – called O’D crazy and said all her friends thinks so.

    Great grandaughter of a slave owner – Meghan

  18. Comment says

    Danielle Pletka on Fareed GPS – she does not like to be challenged – Gets very agitated.

  19. DrLeoStrauss says

    re Ignatius, typical. Americans as a rule know even less about their own history as they do international. The easiest pap to peddle on various blogs are ‘serious’ people promoting contemporary hollow memes, claiming it’s all in the [insert ‘Jacksonian’ or ‘Hamiltonian’ tradition here].

    It’s a game without downside. They count on that no one in the wider readership knows enough or cares enough about American history to point out the gross inanity for the meme merchandizing. (There are a couple of individuals we have in mind specifically). So they are celebrated for their insight. Why else do so many middle and low brow commentators and – wait for it — ‘historians’ (some without even a doctorate) follow the Beschloss road to instant oatmeal books on American history? Even Newt caught on to this.

    Ignatius isn’t quite as uniformly reckless as some of the others above. Still, he’s reliably pedestrian when not fed institutional, self-serving chaff for his columns. He’s got the last laugh though, living a comfortable life-style, knowing he’s got an all access pass to Permanent Maypole Dance (while it lasts).

  20. Comment says

    David R. Ignatius on the Sunday Chris Matthews show – while looking down at the low info candidates , he compared them to the Know-Nothings in the 19th cent. The irony was lost on all – no one on the panel seemed to know that’s not what the Know-Nothings were about.

  21. Comment says

    Speaking of beckian – we notice the awful Charles Lane being a beckian apologist of sorts – Recall he was the guy who hired the plagerist.

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