The Strategic Truth About The War In Afghanistan by Lawrence Sellin

 

 

 

The Strategic Truth About The War In Afghanistan

By Lawrence Sellin, Retired Colonel, U.S. Army Reserve

 

The U.S. is actually fighting Pakistan in Afghanistan and, ultimately, the outcome will be determined by the Chinese.

The so-called U.S. “alliance” with Pakistan in the fight against radical Islam is a farce because, long ago, Pakistan decided to use radical Islam as one pillar of its security policy, the others being nuclear weapons and China as its chief geopolitical patron.

The Taliban are simply Pashtun cannon fodder that Pakistan uses to maintain Afghanistan as a client state. President Trump’s 4,000-man troop increase is matched by a greater number of potential Jihadis currently being brainwashed in Pakistani-sponsored Deobandi madrasas and awaiting deployment to Afghanistan.

Pakistan not only controls the battle tempo in Afghanistan, it controls the supply of our troops. In the past, when pressure was exerted by the U.S. on Pakistan for its support of the Taliban and other terrorist groups like the Haqqani network, those supplies were interrupted or convoys were attacked by Pakistani-sponsored terrorist groups operating inside of Pakistan.

That is, the strategic conditions in South Asia make the success of President Trump’s Afghanistan policy, which is, more or less, a continuation of the policy pursued over the last sixteen years, virtually impossible.

In any case, the President’s policy will unlikely affect the direction of events in South Asia, only delay them, while U.S. withdrawal would hasten the inevitable.

Islam, especially its radical manifestation, is the “glue” that holds Pakistan together, an otherwise artificial state composed of ethnic groups that never interacted in any significant way. Since the late 1970s Pakistan pursued a policy of “Islamization” with the proliferation of religious schools and religious political parties. Ethnic separatism was suppressed and Islamic fighters were found to be useful proxies for the Pakistani military and its intelligence service, the ISI, particularly against India and Afghanistan.

But Pakistan has lost control of its “Islamization” process. Ever more extreme and intolerant Salafist groups are increasing and expanding their influence, fueled by Arab Wahhabi money and transnational Jihadi ideologies like ISIS.

The trajectory is, not just a pre-9/11 Taliban-controlled Afghanistan, but a much larger radical Sunni entity that spans the Afghan-Pakistan border, completing the encirclement of Iran and creating a Sunni-Shia powder keg.

It is China, which has made a huge strategic investment in Pakistan, that has the most to lose from regional instability and which also has the greatest influence in Islamabad.

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which is part of China’s larger Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), aims to connect Asia through land-based and maritime economic zones. CPEC is an infrastructure project, the backbone of which is a transportation network connecting China to the Pakistani seaports of Gwadar and Karachi located on the Arabian Sea. China is expanding the port of Gwadar and its international airport, perhaps as preludes to the establishment of Chinese military bases near the entrance of the Persian Gulf.

In those respects, the traditionally secular Balochistan, Pakistan’s southwestern province bordering Afghanistan and Iran, has become a strategic center of gravity both because of the increase of radical Sunni groups there and its economic and military importance to China.

There is leverage — potential pain points — that U.S. strategists should consider exploiting.

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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.”

 

Creating A 12 To 24-Month Policy Bridge For A New Afghanistan Strategy by Lawrence J. Sellin

 

 

“Creating A 12 To 24-Month Policy Bridge For A New Afghanistan Strategy”

By Lawrence J. Sellin, Colonel, United States Army (ret.)

Up until now his advisors have offered President Trump two choices for failure in Afghanistan, one quick, withdrawal, and one slow, a continuation of the failed strategy of the last sixteen years.

By now it should be apparent to all knowledgeable people that U.S. objectives cannot be achieved in land-locked Afghanistan where Pakistan, whose Afghanistan objectives differ from ours, controls the supply of our troops and the battle tempo through its support of the Taliban and Haqqani network.

An alternative is to provide the President with a 12 to 24-month plan that bridges the gap between the present untenable strategy to a longer term solution.

That is, rather than tweak the current strategy, begin to address the core problem, a strategic environment that has made success of the current strategy impossible.

Within the next two years, the Trump Administration should formulate a strategy that exploits Pakistan’s pain points, one which carves out roles for the Department of Defense, Department of State and Congress.

While preventing a further deterioration in the security situation in Afghanistan, different permutations and degrees of the following actions should be pursued, both as short term leverage against Pakistan and, ideally, to create a regional strategic environment more conducive to U.S. interests.  That is, it is not the Taliban and the Haqqani network that need to be brought to the negotiating table, but Pakistan.

  1. Foreign aid to Pakistan – reduce it to a trickle. Even Pakistan’s former ambassador to the United States says that a tougher approach needs to be adopted toward his country: “The Bush administration gave Pakistan $12.4 billion in aid, and the Obama administration forked over $21 billion. These incentives did not make Pakistan more amenable to cutting off support for the Afghan Taliban.”
  2. Major Non-NATO Ally (MNNA) status – cancel all or part of it. As a MNNA country, approved by President George W. Bush in 2004, Pakistan became “eligible for priority delivery of defense material, an expedited arms sale process, and a U.S. loan guarantee program, which backs up loans issued by private banks to finance arms exports. It can also stockpile U.S. military hardware, participate in defense research and development programs, and be sold more sophisticated weaponry.”
  1. Declaration of Pakistan as a state sponsor of terrorism – advance the House bill through Congress. On September 20, 2016, Congressman Ted Poe (TX-02), the Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Terrorism, along with Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (CA-48), introduced H.R.6069, the Pakistan State Sponsor of Terrorism Designation Act. According to Chairman Poe: “Not only is Pakistan an untrustworthy ally, Islamabad has also aided and abetted enemies of the United States for years.  From harboring Osama bin Laden to its cozy relationship with the Haqqani network, there is more than enough evidence to determine whose side Pakistan is on in the War on Terror.”
  2. Durand Line – Pakistan depends on it – question its legitimacy. The Durand Line is the arbitrary 1896 border drawn between Afghanistan and Pakistan by British Diplomat Sir Mortimer Durand. Pashtun lands have been artificially divided and Pakistan is using its Pashtun population as Taliban cannon fodder.
  3. China-Pakistan Economic Corridor – undermine it. Pakistan has significant economic incentive to exclude western countries from maintaining any influence in Afghanistan. It is called the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which is part of China’s larger Belt and Road Initiative that aims to connect Asia through land-based and maritime economic zones. CPEC is an infrastructure project, the backbone of which is a transportation network connecting China to the Pakistani seaports of Gwadar and Karachi located on the Arabian Sea. Gwadar is a potential Chinese naval base at the mouth of the Persian Gulf, which will complement another Chinese naval base in Djibouti at the mouth of the Red Sea creating two critical strategic choke points.
  4. Ethnic separatism – encourage it – Pakistan is the Yugoslavia of South Asia. Probably the greatest of all potential Pakistani pain points is ethnic separatism. Pakistan was founded on the religion of Islam and is composed primarily of five ethnic groups that never coexisted, the Bengalis, Punjabis, Pashtuns, Sindhis and Baloch. Pakistan’s Islamic nationalism program was specifically designed to suppress ethnic separatism, an effort that eventually led to the proliferation of Islamic terrorist groups within its borders and their use as instruments of Pakistan’s foreign policy. Exploitation of ethnic separatism within Pakistan, such as in Balochistan, remains an option. That is, fight an insurgency with an insurgency.

A longer term solution for Afghanistan was described previously in the Daily Caller, one based on counterterrorism rather than counterinsurgency, providing a cost-effective, flexible and “conditions-based” strategy advocated by retired U.S. Army Major General Paul Vallely in a Diana West article.

“Such a strategy, Vallely explained, relies on ‘the maximum use of unconventional forces,’ such as Navy SEALS and other special forces, who can be deployed as needed from what are known in military parlance as ‘lily pads’ — outposts or jumping-off points in friendly countries (Israel, Northern Kurdistan, India, Philippines, Italy, Djibouti … ) and from U.S. aircraft carrier strike groups. Such strike groups generally include eight to 10 vessels ‘with more fire power,’ the general noted, ‘than most nations.’ These lily pads become ‘bases we can launch from any time we want to,’ eliminating the need for massive land bases such as Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, by now a small city of 20,000 American personnel who continuously need to be supplied and secured at enormous expense.”

In terms of Afghanistan strategy, it is time to build a bridge to somewhere.

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From 2009:

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Smoking Out Obama and Clinton’s Partner Iran and 9 11

 

 

 

 

 

 

Iran to finally pay for role in September 11 attacks

JURY RULES MANHATTAN-BASED CHARITY IS FRONT FOR IRANIAN REGIME; FEDS SEIZE ITS NYC BUILDING.

by Jordan Schachtel

 

The Islamic-theocracy ruling Iran will finally pay for its role in helping facilitate the Sept. 11 and other acts of terrorism against the United States.

The New York Times reports a jury decided that the U.S. government has the right to take over a New York City building majority-owned by the Alavi Foundation — a supposed charity that is deeply connected to the Iranian regime. The foundation owns 60 percent of the building, while the Assa Corporation, an Iranian state-run bank, owns 40 percent.

In what prosecutors called the “largest terrorism-related civil forfeiture in United States history,” the federal takedown and seizure could bring as much as $1 billion to the families of victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia, and the 1983 bombings of a U.S. Marine Corps barracks in Lebanon.

In 2011, a federal judge in Manhattan ruled that Iran was heavily connected to the 9/11 attacks. Moreover, the 9/11 Commission found “strong evidence” that Iran harbored and aided senior members of al-Qaida prior to 9/11, brokering a key alliance with the Sunni group. Confidants of Osama bin Laden frequently traveled through Iran, where they reportedly participated in al-Qaida training, the deceased terror mastermind’s memos reveal.

The Khobar Towers bombing — which resulted in the deaths of 19 American servicemen, and wounded 372 more — was “planned, funded, and sponsored by senior leadership in the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” a federal judge determined.

The Beirut Marine barracks bombings — which killed 241 Americans — were planned and executed by the government in Tehran, its Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), and its Hezbollah proxy.

“The owners of 650 Fifth Avenue gave the Iranian government a critical foothold in the very heart of Manhattan through which Iran successfully circumvented U.S. economic sanctions,” said acting U.S. attorney Joon H. Kim, following the verdict on Thursday.

Judge Katherine B. Forrest of the Federal District Court in Manhattan wrote an additional memo declaring she was “firmly convinced” that Alavi Foundation was a front for the Iranian regime. Forrest said the foundation “takes directives from Iranian government officials, and its day-to-day operators have been appointed by Iranian officials to ensure conformity with the interests of the government of Iran.”

Instead of transferring funds to its mothership in Tehran, the Alavi-building verdict will enable American families to receive some reparation for their traumatic losses and experiences.

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“Convicted Iran front group loaded Clinton Foundation with cash”

 

 

Busted Iran front group loaded Clinton Foundation with cash

THE ALAVI FOUNDATION REGULARLY SENT FIVE-FIGURE DONATIONS TO THE CLINTON FOUNDATION.

Posted July 03, 2017 10:42 AM by Jordan Schachtel

An Iranian foundation recently convicted as a front organization for the theocratic regime in Tehran donated five-figure sums to the infamous Clinton Foundation.

Last week, a New York grand jury ruled that the government can seize a building majority-owned by the Alavi Foundation, agreeing with prosecutors that it is a front group for the mullahs in Tehran. The foundation used the Manhattan skyscraper to garner hundreds of millions in revenue so it could supply cash for its “charitable” endeavors inside the United States.

The Alavi Foundation rarely donated to non-Islamic or non-academic institutions. Alavi spent most of its funds on building Shiite institutions — such as mosques and cultural centers — and installing Iran-friendly professors at prominent American universities.

So its regular donations to the Clinton Foundation — now estimated at around $100,000 — particularly stood out. From 1985 to 2014, the Alavi Foundation — which last year listed its assets at over $100 million — donated to only 13 non-Islamic organizations.

In addition to its direct donations to the Clinton Foundation, the Alavi Foundation has also sent money to organizations associated with the non-profit. Alavi has given funds to the Clinton Foundation through its supposed humanitarian programs (the “Child Foundation”) in Louisiana and Haiti.

Prominent legislators have labeled the Clinton Foundation as something resembling a money-laundering and influence-peddling operation. Its critics argue that the foundation was primarily utilized to curry favor with the power Clinton family. They point to instances like the foundation’s disaster-relief fundraising efforts in Haiti, which ended up enriching the Clinton Foundation and not doing anything substantive to relieve the suffering of the people on the ground.

When first confronted with the possibility that the Alavi Foundation was an Iranian front group, the Clinton Foundation refused to return its donations.

At the time, in 2015, New York U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “For two decades, the Alavi Foundation’s affairs have been directed by various Iranian officials, including Iranian ambassadors at the United Nations, in violation of a series of U.S. laws.”

It remains unclear if the conviction of the Alavi Foundation will change whether the Clinton Foundation will dispose of the terror-linked funds they have regularly received from the Iranian front group. If the Clinton Foundation continues to take funds from Alavi, the Clintons will be enabling a country determined — by bipartisan consensus — in U.S. government circles as the world’s foremost state sponsor of terrorism.

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