“There is nothing strategic about Trump’s Afghanistan policy” by Lawrence Sellin

 

 

There is nothing strategic about Trump’s Afghanistan policy

by Lawrence Sellin, PHD. September 18, 2017

While accepting billions of American dollars in military and economic aid, Pakistan has been slowly bleeding the U.S. to death in Afghanistan through its support of the Taliban, Haqqani Network and other terrorist groups.

It is Pakistan’s role to force the U.S. and NATO out of Afghanistan to pave the way for regional dominance of its closest ally, China.

China is, quite literally, colonizing Pakistan.

Through its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), China aims to connect Asia, the Middle East and Africa through land-based and maritime economic zones as part of China’s global ambition to overtake the U.S. as the world’s leading superpower.

One element of that effort is the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), an infrastructure and development project, the backbone of which is a transportation network connecting China to the Pakistani seaports of Gwadar and Karachi located on the Arabian Sea.

Although profitable for China, Pakistan has not fared as well under CPEC:

“After the Free Trade Agreement was signed, Pakistan’s trade deficit with China widened further as exports to China fell to $1.62 billion in 2016-17 from $2.69bn in 2013-14 and imports from China, in contrast showed an alarming increase of 123 per cent, growing from $4.73bn in 2012-13 to $10.53bn in 2016-17.”

Some Pakistani politicians have described CPEC as the Chinese version of the British East India company, which, at its height, had private army of about 260,000 and even the father of capitalism, Adam Smith, found its conquest, subjugation and plunder of the subcontinent distasteful.

According to a recent report, Chinese aspirations in Pakistan are not just about profits, but resemble the colonization of South Asia by the East India Company:

“The plan envisages a deep and broad-based penetration of most sectors of Pakistan’s economy as well as its society by Chinese enterprises and culture. Its scope has no precedent in Pakistan’s history in terms of how far it opens up the domestic economy to participation by foreign enterprises.”

“For instance, thousands of acres of agricultural land will be leased out to Chinese enterprises to set up ‘demonstration projects’ in areas ranging from seed varieties to irrigation technology. A full system of monitoring and surveillance will be built in cities from Peshawar to Karachi, with 24 hour video recordings on roads and busy marketplaces for law and order. A national fibreoptic backbone will be built for the country not only for internet traffic, but also terrestrial distribution of broadcast TV, which will cooperate with Chinese media in the ‘dissemination of Chinese culture’.”

In addition to the already 30,000 Chinese workers in Pakistan, CPEC calls for visa-free entry of Chinese into Pakistan and the establishment of “civil armed forces” to protect Chinese investments and “a coastal enjoyment industry that includes yacht wharfs, cruise homeports, nightlife, city parks, public squares, theaters, golf courses and spas, hot spring hotels and water sports” built for the Chinese under CPEC.

The expansion of the port of Gwadar and its international airport will include a concomitant increase in Chinese residents, estimated to reach 20,000, which may be a prelude to the establishment Chinese regional military facilities. A base in Gwadar at the mouth of the Persian Gulf would complement the Chinese base in Djibouti at entrance of the Red Sea, both strategic choke points.

So, while the U.S. is expending more blood and treasure in Afghanistan and Pakistan continues to regulate our progress there by controlling the battle tempo and the supply of our troops, China is successfully pursuing its geopolitical interests in South Asia, which will eventually include Afghanistan.

By choosing the wrong policy in Afghanistan, there is no end to what the U.S. can’t accomplish strategically.

Here’s a hint – you reach the Taliban through Pakistan and you reach Pakistan through China.

 

Lawrence Sellin, Ph.D. is a retired colonel with 29 years of service in the US Army Reserve and a veteran of Afghanistan and Iraq.

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Dereliction of Duty II: The Afghanistan Years by Kevin Hulbert

Dereliction of Duty II: The Afghanistan Years

 

 

 

Kevin Hulbert
Former CIA Chief of Station

There has been a lot of writing lately on Afghanistan as the new administration struggles with what do to there, just as the previous administration struggled mightily to define both the mission and the end game.  In the absence of any good ideas, or any solutions, the last administration tragically kicked the can down the road for eight years, pursuing the status quo of a policy pretty much everyone knows has failed.

Obama’s advisors told him he faced two broad choices:  1) stay the course, which would cost $50 billion a year and probably continue to go sideways, or 2) pull out of Afghanistan and see it almost immediately dissolve into a problematic festering petri dish of terrorists, like the disaster which is Iraq and Syria.  Unfortunately, many of President Trump’s current advisors are the same unimaginative military guys who have been suggesting the status quo for 16 years.

The bottom line is that there are no easy choices in Afghanistan.

There are no silver bullets but to keep kicking the can down the road, spending about $50 billion a year on the effort and accomplishing little to nothing, cannot be high on President Trump’s list of things he wants to do.  The President is desperately looking for some alternatives and his military-centric cabinet seems incapable of coming up with anything other than to keep doing the same thing and to maybe surge another 4,000 troops to Afghanistan. Really? 4,000 more troops are going to turn this around?  The “troop surge” is a common military strategy when things are going bad, but it’s not too creative.

Mikhail Gorbachev tried it when things were going bad for the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980s. It didn’t work well for him, either.  The Soviets withdrew completely on 15 February 1989.

The idea that the addition of 4,000 new troops in Afghanistan on top of the 8,500 already there is going to make a difference is absurd.  We had about 100,000 troops in the country previously and we couldn’t “win.”  The whole idea of the troop surge – more of the status quo – is nonsensical. This is as if you found yourself in charge of running a big black and white TV factory that was doing poorly because the market for black and white TVs had evaporated, but instead of making any changes to the product line, your management consultant’s advice was to double down on black and white TVs by starting to run a second shift of workers at the plant.

It’s like that old line, “We don’t know where we are and we don’t know where we are going, but we’re making really good time…”

In his book “Dereliction of Duty,” now current National Security Advisor LTG H.R. McMaster excoriated a whole generation of U.S. military leadership for not speaking truth to power and for not articulating their objections to the strategy then being used in Vietnam at the behest of Washington politicians.  McMaster faulted the military leadership for not having developed good alternatives for policy-makers to what the military leadership knew in their hearts was a failed strategy and one that could not win.  McMaster called it an abdication of the Generals’ professional and civic responsibilities.

What about Afghanistan today? Are we winning? What exactly is “victory” in Afghanistan?  Are we just going to be in Afghanistan forever spending $50 billion a year?  Are we going to be doing the “nation building” role forever, lest Afghanistan slip back into being a hot bed of terrorism?  Does anyone have any plan other than to keep doing what we have been doing for the last 16 years, spending untold billions in blood and treasure every year because no one can articulate anything else we might do instead?

The real tragedy is that these bad decisions on the war in Afghanistan have real and lasting consequences.  Thousands of young men and women are being sent into harm’s way in Afghanistan every year with an ill defined mission, in non-combat operations, just waiting to get shot at.  The vast majority of our soldiers in Afghanistan never even leave the U.S. base.

There has to be a better way.  There has recently been some talk about getting the big U.S. military footprint out of Afghanistan, saving tens of billions of dollars a year, and doing more work with private contractors in conjunction with Afghan forces.  Is it a perfect plan?  No, but you’re not going to find a “perfect” plan for Afghanistan because if there was one, we would already be doing it.  But, I have been surprised at how quick some pundits are to poke holes in the idea while offering zero ideas of their own about what we should do other than the same status quo of the last 16 years.  We had better start thinking more broadly about our options in Afghanistan and what the end game there might look like, otherwise some young smart colonel in the war college will be writing a sequel to McMaster’s book in a few short years titled, “Dereliction of Duty II:  The Afghanistan Years.”

 

PAUL VALLELY ON DONALD TRUMP AND THE EXPECTED US MIDDLE EAST POLICY

Retired US Army Major General Paul Vallely, Chairman of Stand Up America Foundation, talks about the evolution of US President Donald Trump from businessman to President and the new role of the United States as it disengages from its previous interventionist role in the Middle East.


 

 

According to Vallely, it will take time for the United States to develop a new comprehensive strategy, in which issues in East Asia and illegal immigration over the Mexican border will play a greater role than the Middle East. He also noted that differences between Russia and the United States regarding Iran are possible to resolve over time.

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Uncovering the Deep State and Mass Surveillance. Lt. Gen. Tom McInerney USAF (ret.) and Larry Klayman

Editor’s Note: Our great friend Dr. Dave Janda of Operation Freedom interviews Lt. Gen. Tom McInerney USAF (ret.) and an article by our great friend Larry Klayman, founder of Judicial Watch and our friends at Newsmax.

This is a “must listen to” interview:

 

Audio Interview

 



 

“Nunes Must Ask FBI’s Comey About Montgomery Mass Surveillance Case”


By Larry Klayman
Sunday, 19 Mar 2017 1:04 PM

The old expression about Washington, D.C., is that if you want a friend, get a dog! In the case of President Donald Trump, this is a lesson he has undoubtedly learned in his thus far short tenure as the commander in chief. Nowhere is this seen more than over the current controversy concerning the president’s claims that he was wiretapped, that is, illegally spied upon, by his predecessor’s administration, former President Barack Obama.

As I have written in this Newsmax blog and elsewhere particularly of late, my client, former NSA and CIA contractor Dennis Montgomery, holds the keys to disproving the false claims of those representatives and senators on the House and Senate intelligence committees, reportedly as well as FBI Director James Comey, that there is no evidence that the president and his men were wiretapped.

Montgomery left the NSA and CIA with 47 hard drives and over 600 million pages of information, much of which is classified, and sought to come forward legally as a whistleblower to appropriate government entities, including congressional intelligence committees, to expose that the spy agencies were engaged for years in systematic illegal surveillance on prominent Americans, including the chief justice of the Supreme Court, other justices, 156 judges, prominent businessmen such as Donald Trump, and even yours truly. Working side by side with Obama’s former Director of National Intelligence (DIA), James Clapper, and Obama’s former Director of the CIA, John Brennan, Montgomery witnessed “up close and personal” this “Orwellian Big Brother” intrusion on privacy, likely for potential coercion, blackmail or other nefarious purposes.

But when Montgomery came forward as a whistleblower to congressional intelligence committees and various other congressmen and senators, including Senator Charles Grassley, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, who, like Comey, once had a reputation for integrity, he was “blown off;” no one wanted to even hear what he had to say. The reason, I suspect, is that Montgomery’s allegations were either too hot to handle, or the congressional intelligence and judiciary committees already knew that this unconstitutional surveillance was being undertaken. Moreover, given the power of the NSA, CIA, and DNI, for congressional committee heads to take action to legitimately and seriously investigate and if necessary recommend prosecution of officials like Clapper and Brennan could, given the way Washington works, result in the spy agencies disclosing and leaking (as occurred recently with General Michael Flynn), the details of their mass surveillance, ruining the careers if not personal lives of any politician who would take them on.

After Montgomery was turned away as a whistleblower, he came to me at Freedom Watch. With the aid of the Honorable Royce C. Lamberth of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, who I had come to respect and trust over the years of my public interest advocacy, we brought Montgomery forward to FBI Director James Comey, through his General Counsel James Baker. Under grants of immunity, which I obtained through Assistant U.S. Attorney Deborah Curtis, Montgomery produced the hard drives and later was interviewed under oath in a secure room at the FBI Field Office in the District of Columbia. There he laid out how persons like then-businessman Donald Trump were illegally spied upon by Clapper, Brennan, and the spy agencies of the Obama administration. He even claimed that these spy agencies had manipulated voting in Florida during the 2008 presidential election, which illegal tampering resulted in helping Obama to win the White House.

This interview, conducted and videoed by Special FBI Agents Walter Giardina and William Barnett, occurred almost two years ago, and nothing that I know of has happened since. It would appear that the FBI’s investigation was buried by Comey, perhaps because the FBI itself collaborates with the spy agencies to conduct illegal surveillance. In landmark court cases which I filed after the revelations of Edward Snowden, the Honorable Richard Leon, a colleague of Judge Lamberth, had ruled that this type of surveillance constituted a gross violation of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution. (See www.freedomwatchusa.org for more information.)

A few months ago, given FBI’s seeming inaction in conducting a bona fide timely investigation of the treasure trove of information Montgomery had produced and testified to, I went to Chairman Bob Goodlatte of the House Judiciary Committee, as I had done earlier with Senator Grassley, since Montgomery had revealed that judges had been spied upon, and asked his staff to inquire of Director Comey the status of the investigation. I have heard nothing back from Goodlatte or his staff and they have not responded to recent calls and emails.

So last Thursday, I traveled to Capital Hill to personally meet with Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Ca.) of the House Intelligence Committee and, when his scheduler claimed that he was “unavailable,” forcefully pushed for a meeting with one of his committee lawyers, Allen R. Souza, and fully briefed him about Montgomery and the FBI’s apparent cover-up. I told this staff intel lawyer to inform Chairman Nunes of the facts behind this apparent cover-up before the committee holds its hearing on the alleged Trump wiretaps and questions Comey this Monday, March 20, in open session. My expressed purpose: to have Chairman Nunes of the  House Intelligence Committee ask Comey, under oath, why he and his FBI have seemingly not moved forward with the Montgomery investigation.

During my meeting with House Intelligence Committee counsel Allen R. Sousa I politely warned him that if Chairman Nunes, who himself had that same day undercut President Trump by also claiming that there is no evidence of surveillance by the Obama administration, I would go public with what would appear to be the House Intelligence Committee’s complicity in keeping the truth from the American people and allowing the FBI to continue its apparent cover-up of the Montgomery “investigation.”

And, that is where it stands today. The big question: will House Intelligence Committee Chairman Nunes do his job and hold FBI Director Comey’s feet to the fire about the Montgomery investigation?

Please watch the House Intelligence Committee hearing closely this Monday.

Larry Klayman, founder of Judicial Watch and Freedom Watch, is known for his strong public interest advocacy in furtherance of ethics in government and individual freedoms and liberties. To read more of his reports, Go Here Now.

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Paul Vallely, MG USA (ret) RBTH Interview: Trump won’t take a confrontational approach with Russia.

U.S. General: Trump won’t take confrontational approach with Russia

March 3, 2017 NIKOLAI SHEVCHENKO, RBTH

What would Trump’s reaction to Crimea have been, and what will the U.S. President discuss with Russia’s Vladimir Putin at their first, as yet unscheduled, meeting? In an exclusive interview with RBTH, retired U.S. Army Major General Paul Vallely and Michael Maloof, a former senior security policy analyst for the Secretary of Defense, share their views on these and other issues in U.S.-Russia relations.

Trump, Crimea and the meeting

RBTH: General, imagine that Crimea happened today. How would Trump have reacted?

Paul E. Vallely: I think he would have wanted to talk to Putin and say “Hey, what’s going on? What’s happened, there’s got to be a reason for this, would you let me know?” Obama could never do that. If you read Trump’s book, The Art of the Deal, you find out how he does it.

It’s difficult to guess what he would have done, but we know what his thinking is, and it’s very different from Obama’s. Now, if Russia takes some action somewhere, he is not going to overreact. And if it’s not in the interests of the U.S., if it’s not a threat to the U.S., he is going to think very hard about getting involved.

RBTH: What do you expect from the first meeting between Trump and Putin?

Paul E. Vallely: Putin is going to meet with Trump sooner rather than later. That’s very important. A long time has passed since Mikhail Gorbachev met Ronald Reagan and we are in a very different environment now that looks almost like a new Cold War. But this happens because the media and the Democratic Party blame Russia for everything, which is just ridiculous. There is absolutely no evidence that the Russians affected the U.S. elections by hacking or by any other means.

I think Trump and Putin will discuss issues related to energy, economics. They will talk about the situation in Syria, extremism and how to deal with it. Trump is likely to bring up North Korea as a subject of the discussion too. He will see to it if to bring Crimea and Ukraine as part of the discussion, but he will not be fixated on that. In general, I think Putin respects Trump. I know Trump respects Putin. I would say rather sooner than later we will be surprised about the way things happen.


 

Misunderstanding Russia

RBHT: There are many military representatives in Trump’s inner circle. Do they see Russia as a challenge, a threat, or a potential ally?

Paul E. Vallely: We have a couple of guys who do not understand the new Russia. We still have a contingent of old CIA types who regard Russia as a main threat. I have one person in mind. But I don’t want to name him only because of the transition period. If you quote me on that, he is going to say “Why did he say this about me, I’ve been here for only a week.”

RBTH: Is it true that, among the military members of Trump’s team, Secretary of Defense James Mattis has the most influence with the President?

Paul E. Vallely: Yes, Mattis has an upper hand in pushing his agenda with the White House. Mattis certainly has more power than the other military within the Trump team to shape policy.

RBTH: Does James Mattis see Russia as a threat?

Michael Maloof: Yes, Mattis still regards Russia as a threat, but at the same time he says we can work with Moscow. But it’s important that it was Trump who has brought these people in, knowing what their positions are. And he made it very clear that he wants their opinions, but the ultimate decision remains with him.

Paul E. Vallely: And Trump is very positive about Russia. He does not have any preconceptions that Russia is a threat.

RBTH: Some saw former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn’s resignation as the closure of an opportunity for Moscow. Was Flynn indeed the Kremlin’s window into the Trump administration?

Is McMaster’s appointment as national security adviser bad news for Moscow?

Paul E. Vallely: Flynn indeed was a window into the Trump administration for Russia. And this was particularly important in light of the legacy Obama had left. Obama never knew how to develop a relationship with Russia. Flynn, on the other hand, has been very proactive in engaging Russia. But even though he had to resign, Trump will still reach out to Moscow.

Trump’s line in the sand

RBTH: Trump seems to be under significant pressure on issues related to Russia. Is it true he has been pressured by the Washington political establishment and the military to change his rhetoric on Russia?

Michael Maloof: To a point. Trump has been more forthcoming about expressing the desire to work with Russia than the old Cold Warriors had. And that’s a part of the changes that are happening in the U.S. now. The country is being mentality oriented into a new direction by the new president. And this is pretty hard when you have old CIA types who are still in their positions and the media, which has been very anti-Russian.  But if Trump makes a decision to cooperate with Russia, they will stand up and salute.

Paul E. Vallely: Definitely, they will stand up and salute. An important thing is that the soldiers are very happy to have Trump as president. And this is what is really important. From that stand point we get a new spirit within the armed forces now.

RBTH: If the military has Trump’s ear, does it mean Trump is going to pursue a more assertive policy towards Russia if he fails to find common ground with Putin?

Paul E. Vallely: No, I don’t think Trump is going to take that approach. Trump and Putin will get along well, and they will make a deal. Trump is not going to take a military confrontational approach to Russia at all.

RBTH: In Syria, what does the U.S. military think about a prospect of cooperating with the Russian military?

Michael Maloof: There is already some level of cooperation. They have video conferences. There was one episode when the U.S. bombed Syrian troops. A serviceman left his post on the U.S. side, and that created the problem. That episode helped establish new procedures to be followed from then on. They are trying to make it work, but that’s the level of cooperation for now.

There is substantial internal resistance within the military against cooperating with the Russians in Syria. There is reluctance on part of the military to share the intelligence, because of the perceived notion that Russia remains the primary threat.

But the whole Syrian thing might change this mindset. From our personal meeting with Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov, we have an impression that Russia is willing to achieve it too. And this is one of the messages we are bringing back to the U.S.

RBTH: Obama was criticized for drawing a line in the sand on Syria and then not acting upon it. Would Trump be more decisive to act in a similar situation?

Paul E. Vallely: I don’t think Trump will draw any lines to begin with. For Trump, if there’s a threat to the U.S., then we are going to go and take it out. If, in the meantime, we have to work with the Russians to eliminate that threat, then we will. That’s the attitude. Trump is not that kind of person who wants to draw lines. He wants to identify a problem and work with everyone he can to solve it.

Paul E. Vallely is a retired U.S. Army Major General, Chairman of Stand Up America, Scott Vallely Soldiers Memorial Fund and NEMO ARMS Inc. He is senior military analyst for Fox News.

Michael Maloof  is a contributing writer for national security affairs for WND and G2Bulletin, a former senior security policy analyst in the office of the secretary of defense, and the author of A Nation Forsaken.

Paul Vallely and Michael Maloof both came to Moscow for a series of events organized by the Valdai Discussion Club, including a private meeting with Russia’s deputy foreign minister Mikhail Bogdanov.

Nikolay Shevchenko is a foreign correspondent for Russia Beyond The Headlines and an editor at the Global Ethics Network.

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