Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Ralph Peters: Disneyworld on the Kabul River

Ex-US military intelligence officer Ralph Peters, comes out punching with his latest assessment of the Afghanistan/Pakistan situation. If you want nuance, read White House press releases. If you want the straight goods, go to to this (article)
After taking apart al Qaeda's base network and punishing the Taliban, we should have left the smoking ruins. This should have been a classic punitive expedition: We're not obliged to rehabilitate foreign murderers.

As for those who exclaim that "We would have had to go back!" - well, so what? Had we needed to hammer Afghanistan again in 2007 or 2008, that still would've been cheaper in blood (ours and the Afghans') and treasure than trying to build a "rule of law" state where no real state ever existed.

Staying left us with criminally vulnerable logistics - ever the bane of campaigns in the region. The Brits and the Soviets both learned the hard way that superior fighting skills don't suffice in Afghanistan: You need dependable, redundant supply lines.


They also want the new US administration to multiply foreign-aid bribes. (There isn't enough cash left in the country for Pakistan's elite to steal.)

Our response? We're paying up. Plus, dumber than dirt, we're turning to the Russians for an alternate supply line - after they bullied the Kyrgyz government into ending our access to a vital airbase north of the Afghan border.

But the central problem is the blind-alley mission. We kidded ourselves that we could conjure up a functioning rule-of-law state in the obstinately lawless territory known as Afghanistan, whose various ethnic groups hate each other unto death.

Instead of setting a realistic goal - mortally punishing our enemies - we decided to create a model democracy in a territory that hasn't reached the sophistication of medieval Europe.

Wow! Say what you want, but this is the free press in action. This is some of the best writing out there. I'm going to have to look into buying his book.

Tonight on CBC, President Obama was interviewed by Pete Mansbridge. On the Afghan mission, Obama talked about the need for using "diplomacy" and "development" as opposed to the merely, "military solutions." He should read Ralph Peters.


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