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Afghanistan Is Like Nothing You've Ever Seen 1346

Posted by michael
from the daily-deliveries-of-coffins dept.
DaHuNt writes: "A well written article about Afghan experiences by the Soviets... Food for thought... 'When Igor Lisinenko entered what he was told was an Afghan rebel base in 1982, he wasn't sure what to expect. It was, after all, his first assignment...'" Very good article. Too bad we aren't learning from the British and Soviet mistakes.
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Afghanistan Is Like Nothing You've Ever Seen

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  • by wiredog (43288) on Saturday September 22, 2001 @07:59PM (#2335747) Journal
    that the only option is a massive Desert Storm type of invasion? What I hear military people talking about is using special ops people for small targeted operations. At most we would have a division, the 82nd probably, sieze a small easily secured area to use as, in effect, a large firebase. Or possibly use the Northern Alliance areas. Anyone who thinks we are going to try and conquer Afghanistan is an idiot.
    • by gengee (124713) <gengis@hawaii.rr.com> on Saturday September 22, 2001 @08:34PM (#2335899)
      The Guardian in London reported Friday, citing a cable from the US Embassy in London, that the US was trying to rally an international campaign to remove the Taliban. Having removed them, we would then sponsor a UN-run temporary government in the nation.

      Indeed, reports abound that within the administration there is a battle going on. The Cheney-Rumsfeld-Rice camp wants a full-scale, no holds bar invasion of Afghanistan -AND- Iraq. The Powell camp wants to take a one-bite-at-a-time approach to the whole thing.

      A report in TIME 2 weeks ago on featuring Powell spoke to the fact that Powell has been sidelined in the Bush administration. While everyone thought Powell would be Bush's point man on Defense and Foreign affairs, it has turned out that Powell does not have Bush's ear. On the contrary, Rumsfeld, Cheney, and Rice (Who by all accounts is treated like a daughter by Bush) are running Defense and Foreign Policy. Bush has stacked his cabinet with SCARY FUCKERS, hard-liners who are hell bent on national isolation and missile defense.

      The US now has three battlegroups in the region or on the way. Another deployment is expected to be signed by Rumsfeld later today or tomorrow. 35,000 reservists have been called up. More maybe called up later. Make no mistake about it, the US /IS/ going to, attempt at least, to remove the Taliban from power. Despite whether or not you or I believe it to be the prudent thing to do, it is the course of action that has been set in motion by the US government. Get ready for a long drawn out war:P
      • by szcx (81006)
        Cheyney wanting a full-scale invasion isn't entirely unexpected [suck.com];

        But that wasn't the only gift that Dick Cheney had for Norman Schwarzkopf. Having figured out that the general was being too cautious with his fourth combat command in three decades of soldiering, Cheney got his staff busy and began presenting Schwarzkopf with his own ideas about how to fight the Iraqis: What if we parachute the 82nd Airborne into the far western part of Iraq, hundreds of miles from Kuwait and totally cut off from any kind of support, and seize a couple of missile sites, then line up along the highway and drive for Baghdad? Schwarzkopf charitably describes the plan as being "as bad as it could possibly be... But despite our criticism, the western excursion wouldn't die: three times in that week alone Powell called with new variations from Cheney's staff. The most bizarre involved capturing a town in western Iraq and offering it to Saddam in exchange for Kuwait." (Throw in a Pete Rose rookie card?) None of this Walter Mitty posturing especially surprised Schwarzkopf, who points out that he'd already known Cheney as "one of the fiercest cold warriors in Congress."

        And so, of course, you already know what Dick Cheney -- fierce cold warrior, vigorous advocate of the earliest and bravest possible attack, a man not afraid to take bold action with the lives of other men -- did during the Vietnam war, when he was just the right age to open his personal pandour's box and go put some of that martial ferocity into direct practice: He took five years worth of deferments, four as a student and one as a soon-to-be-father, and avoided serving in the military altogether. Which is not to say that he wasn't fiercely in favor of the whole sick mess.

        Certainly the erstwhile fierce cold warrior feels a deep connection with the young men who went to Vietnam in his place. At the mostly sunny Republican nominating rally, last month, Cheney spoke movingly of his reaction to the somber sight of the graves at Arlington National Cemetery. Every time he choppered into Washington past the military burial ground, Cheney said, he looked upon "its gentle slopes and crosses row on row. I never once made that trip," he added, "without being reminded how enormously fortunate we all are to be Americans." See for yourself: The graves at Arlington National Cemetery are marked with blocky granite headstones - row on row of them.

      • by Reality Master 101 (179095) <.RealityMaster101. .at. .gmail.com.> on Saturday September 22, 2001 @09:52PM (#2336200) Homepage Journal

        A report in TIME 2 weeks ago on featuring Powell spoke to the fact that Powell has been sidelined in the Bush administration. While everyone thought Powell would be Bush's point man on Defense and Foreign affairs, it has turned out that Powell does not have Bush's ear.

        I think we need to pretty much forget everything before the terrorist attack. I think everyone has Bush's ear at this point, particularly Powell with his military experience.

        The best evidence that Bush is not going to do anything rash is the fact that he has shown good, perhaps even remarkable, restraint. He clearly wants to have all his ducks in a row before acting.

        Also remember the "Powell Doctrine": Go in with overwhelming force. On CNN the other day, he addressed this and said that he believes that, but also this war is going to take overwhelming force of all kinds, not just military.

      • My brother is a history teacher, and since he doesn't like computers much, I've had to learn some history so I can have intelligent conversations with him. US Military history quickly became my favorite topic. One thing I have learned in my studies has been this: with the exception of Viet Nam (a war fought by politicians, not the military) the US military has been characterized by one quality. They are almost completely unpredictable. When WWII broke out, the US military was the 16th largest in the world. Facist nations thought that an army of individuals could not possibly compete with their indoctrinated uber men. It was that individuality that gave the American GI the edge over the Japanese or German soldier. German soldiers, when spark plugs went out, abandoned the car. American soldiers welded bulldozer scoops onto tanks to attack hedgerows. Japanese soldiers died by the thousands in banzai charges. (To paraphrase Neal Stephenson, the only Japanese soldiers who figured out the Banzai charge didn't work were already dead.) American pilots changed tatics mid-war, from the dive bomb to the torpedo bomb. The Persian Gulf War was only another example. Pundits said the US would fight for years in a ground war in the desert. Instead, the coalition refused to engage the ground troops. They systematically cut the eyes and ears of the Iragi army, until they could attack the heart without risk. The most recent unpleasantness in Yugoslavia is another example. All I will point out on this one is Slobodon is in custody, and the US did not suffer a single casuality (that they tell us about). The point is, I don't think any one of us can predict what the US military will do. It has proven time and again to be inventive, resourceful, and above all, unpredicatable. Most of the slashdot readship probably falls within the top most 1% of the population in terms of intelligence. Do not forget that the people calling the shots on this one can probably cut that down to .25%. Moreover, they know their shit as well as you know yours. Now, anyone here want to step up and say that the slashdot readship, collectively, cannot solve ANY technology problem on the face of the earth? DO NOT underestimate these people. About the only thing I can say is that what we will see will likely be something that none of us expect.
      • Make no mistake about it, the US /IS/ going to, attempt at least, to remove the Taliban from power. Despite whether or not you or I believe it to be the prudent thing to do, it is the course of action that has been set in motion by the US government.

        This is your interpretation of what the government has set in motion. Mine is different; I have seen few preparations for all out war. What I have seen is the rapid development of an effective and sustainable air bridge, able to ferry troops and planes overseas in a hurry. The moves of strike fighters to the Gulf area are insufficient to conduct large-scale offensive operations at this point; I suggest that they may be an attempt to relieve the carrier USS Carl Vinson [navy.mil] and her battlegroup, currently responsible for enforcing the no-fly zones over Iraq. This would allow the Navy to withdraw her to the relative safety of the Arabian Sea or simply to free up her air wing for other action. It is difficult to conceal large-scale troop movements, and if we are preparing to use force to remove the Taliban, it is not imminent (last I heard, the 82nd Airborne is still training and has not staged anywhere and no nation has yet granted permissions that would give the Army and Marine Corps a route to Kabul).

        Before we all assume that they're going to do it wrong, let's give them a chance to do it right. After all, it is those in the military who are going into harm's way, and the United States military remains the most capable force in the world.

        I have read the Guardian article [guardian.co.uk] that you sight, and I don't regard it as evidence of anything. It reports only that the US is "keen to hear allied views" on overthrowing the Taliban. And it doesn't even bother to quote the cable. I regard the Guardian's coverage of this event as leftist and in pursuit of a specific agenda, rather than a simple report of the news. My brother in London reports that the other British news sources are starting to turn against them for their slanted coverage. I at this point don't regard the Guardian's interpretation of anything as a sufficiently reliable source. And I haven't seen this story corroborated.


        -db

      • Bush has stacked his cabinet with SCARY FUCKERS, hard-liners who are hell bent on national isolation and missile defense.

        If they were really hell bent on national isolation, they wouldn't be "SCARY FUCKERS", would they? They certainly wouldn't talk about invading other countries! Isolationism is when a country keeps its nose out of other nations' affairs.

        How in the hell did "isolationist" come to mean "warmonger" in so many people's minds?

      • The Guardian in London reported Friday, citing a cable from the US Embassy in London, that the US was trying to rally an international campaign to remove the Taliban. Having removed them, we would then sponsor a UN-run temporary government in the nation.

        You know, I don't really think the Taliban are the problem, at least not directly. They are isolationist in the extreme, and have no foreign policy agenda worth speaking of. The problem is that they took al-Queda in as guests, and guest is a loaded word in Islam. Once someone is your guest, Islamic custom holds that you must be prepared to defend them with your own life, if necessary. I'm guessing that the Taliban never imagined that this would entail facing down massed NATO armies and fleets lurking nearby.

        The point is, the Taliban (which, incidentally means "students", not "death to the US" or anything quite as menacing) are caught between a rock and a hard place, and they don't oppose the West for the reason that most people think they do. Indeed, what they would like most of all is to simply by ignored by the rest of the planet.

        The question is, what is stronger, their desire to be left alone, or their desire to uphold their tradition? If is the former, then there is scope for a deal: give us al-Queda and the US will guarentee that you are left alone. If not, then things are going to get messy.
    • Anyone who thinks we are going to try and conquer Afghanistan is an idiot.

      Bush has been saying a lot about punishing the Taliban for harboring terrorism. If this goes on to become displacing/destroying the Taliban, then you really are talking about conquering the country at least in some sense. IMHO overthrowing the Taliban would require either sustained popular support from the Afghanis or massive ground troops. In neither case is success assurred nor could such an operation produce only a few casualties.

      If we intend to substantially reduce terrorism coming from Afghanistan then we need to have either a government in place that will actively root out terrorists, or the ability to freely send police forces to do it ourselves. Neither option seems likely without using military force to replace or utterly subjugate the Taliban government.

      Afghanistan is a horrible place to wage war for a lot of reasons, but US officials seem to have already gotten it into their heads, that this can't and shouldn't be your father's war. I hope that we can find a way to accomplish sensible objectives in a reasonable way, but only time will tell how well we actually do.

      Also, we should be a little careful when listening to people who didn't win in Afghanistan conclude that it is impossible to win in Afghanistan, perhaps there is something they never thought of. We need to be clever and controlled in how we act and learn from the mistakes of all those that have tried before. Perhaps the biggest mistake was trying to wage a war of conquest without being able to gather the support of the people. I hope we can find a way to get the populace to oppose the Taliban, cause hard as it might be, it also seems the surest way to really improve things in Afghanistan.
    • Anyone who thinks we are going to try and conquer Afghanistan is an idiot.

      On one hand, you're absolutely right. On the other hand:

      • Hiller: Can you name the general who is in charge of Pakistan?
      • Bush: Wait, wait, is this 50 questions?
      • Hiller: No, it's four questions of four leaders in four hot spots.
      • Bush: The new Pakistani general -- just been elected -- he's not been elected... the guy took over office...it appears he's going to bring stability to the country and I think that's good news for the subcontinent.
      • Hiller: And you can name him?
      • Bush: General, I can name the general...
      • Hiller: And it's...
      • Bush: General.

      (From an interview aired November 3, 1999.)

  • Beneath the veil is a special on CNN. It shows just what an oppresive regime the Taliban is. It airs at 11:00pm eastern tonight and I think 7:00 tomorrow.

    --Joey
  • by Seenhere (90736)
    Too bad we aren't learning from the British and Soviet mistakes.

    How do you know we (U.S.) haven't learned?

    After all, we haven't done anything terribly rash and stupid in Afghanistan in the last 10 days.

    Colin Powell was in Vietnam, and learned a thing or two, and remembers. Bush of course was not, but he seems (so far) to have the sense to listen to his betters.

    --S
    • Colin Powell was in Vietnam, and learned a thing or two, and remembers. Bush of course was not, but he seems (so far) to have the sense to listen to his betters.

      What most people seem to forget is that while Bush didn't see combat, he was trained in it. And he risked his life as a military fighter pilot. He has at least an understanding of military issues.

      And before folks drag out the pampered national guard nonsense, let me bring out a few points from my personal experience:
      1. My best friend was a national guard fighter pilot at the same time as Bush. He gave his life in a training accident and is just as dead as anyone who died in Vietnam.
      2. I was a reservist during the Vietnam war, and as a result I went to Vietnam. Not every college kid of the era was a peacenik.


      Finally, combat experience does not equate to wisdom. It certainly means one has some understanding of the horrors of war, on a personal scale. But it doesn't provide the insights needed to make strategic policy. Colin Powell is an impressive man, but he blew it in Iraq-I - his humanitarian impulse to stop the war when he saw the "slaughter" on the road has resulted in a continued, vicious oppression in Iraq, and support of terror and international stabilization by that regime. Powell should be heard, but so should those with different viewponts.
  • The implications of a war on Afghanistan are, as this article raises, quite scary. Even if, in a sustained bombing campaign or a land war victory, we "win", what next?

    Afghanistan will need a government to replace the Taliban... The Afghanis will doubtless harbor a deep hatred for Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and others who might aid us in such a war. This could easily lead to a much larger scope Middle East conflict.

    It's just amazing to me how little perspective the average American has in situations like this (even our leaders), and how short and selective our memories are.

    The Russians remind us that a war in Afghanistan is largely unwinnable by US standards. Our own history in Vietnam should clue us in as well. Will we never learn?
    • The northern alliance seems quite willing to assume what we regard as their right to lead Afghanistan, and I don't imagine that it could be worse than the Taliban.

      It's amazing to me how so many people around here don't regard this thing we have as worth defending.

      Your suggestion for dealing with bin Laden, et al?
      • The northern alliance seems quite willing to assume what we regard as their right to lead Afghanistan, and I don't imagine that it could be worse than the Taliban.

        From the 1999 US State Department human rights report:

        "Women and girls were subjected to rape, kidnaping, and forced marriage, particularly in areas outside of Taliban control."

        "Masood's forces and the Northern Alliance members committed numerous, serious abuses. Masood's forces continued sporadic rocket attacks against Kabul. Anti-Taliban forces bombarded civilians indiscriminately. Various factors infringed on citizens' privacy rights. Armed units of the Northern Alliance, local commanders, and rogue individuals were responsible for political killings, abductions, kidnapings for ransom, torture, rape, arbitrary detention, and looting."

        • http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/1999/index.cf m?docid=431

          Reading the whole thing I still can't imagine that they could be worse than the Taliban.

          There's also a report for the year 2000:

          http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2000/sa/ind ex .cfm?docid=721

        • Masood's forces and the Northern Alliance members committed numerous, serious abuses. Masood's forces continued sporadic rocket attacks against Kabul. Anti-Taliban forces bombarded civilians indiscriminately. Various factors infringed on citizens' privacy rights. Armed units of the Northern Alliance, local commanders, and rogue individuals were responsible for political killings, abductions, kidnapings for ransom, torture, rape, arbitrary detention, and looting.


          So did we, in Vietnam.
        • by wytcld (179112) on Saturday September 22, 2001 @11:42PM (#2336496) Homepage
          "Various factors infringed on citizens' privacy rights."

          You're putting credence in a report written by someone stupid enough to think it even makes sense to discuss whether "privacy rights" are "infringed" in the midst of a deadly serious war?

          Oh, and in a war you shouldn't conduct rocket attacks against the enemy capital? Or is the crime that you shouldn't do it "sporadically"?

          I'd guess you're looking at a report slanted to support the late-Clinton- early-Bush-administration policy of providing the Taliban with millions ($43,000,000 just several months ago, from Bush) in exchange for poppy eradication (which is part of why so many impoverished farm families have starved to death while the Taliban has rearmed). Some bureaucrat was giving that pathetic policy cover.

  • If yo uwant an unjaundiced and somewhat approachign abalnced view my advice is don't watch CNN or network news, or for that matyter listen to NPR. They all have prety severe slants oenw ay or the other.

    The only vaugely balanced POV I've seen so far is the BBC. Among other reports they did an excellent report on the hsitory of AlQeda and OSama Bin Laden called "Behind the terror."

    One thing they explianed was that the core of AlQaeda are merecenaries with no other modern job skill that **we** trained to fight a modern guerilla war ebcause we needed them to defeat the soviets., After the soviets were puished out of Afghanistan we lost interest.

    With out us paying them its only natural they found someone new to pay them to keep fighting.

    People angst all the tiem abotu left over cold war weapons-- the most DANGEROUS left over weapons are the human ones we made. We need to be VERY careful not to do the same thing all over again...
  • by Wyatt Earp (1029) on Saturday September 22, 2001 @08:11PM (#2335784)
    "Too bad we aren't learning from the British and Soviet mistakes."

    How do we know that the United States military isn't learning from British and Soviet mistakes?

    The British attempted to take Afghanistan over 100 years ago, and you can not compare an army before aviation, remote sensing and mechnization to a modern army.

    Same goes for the Soviets. The Soviets were an army of conscripts and as Afghanistan, Iraq and Vietnam show you, a conscript army isn't the same as a volunteer army. Also, the Soviets hadn't fought since WW2 or 1959-60 against the Chinese, albeit in Bridgade sized clashes. And like the Americans in Vietnam, an army that rusty will have problems.

    Micheal should look to the SAS's exploits in Iraq in '91 and the Desert Rats in '40-'41 for examples of what a small cadre of highly trained and motivated fighters can do againt increadable odds. Or even look at Blackhawk Down for an indication of what Rangers and Delta Force can accomplish in a poorly planned mission. I'm sure that all the lessons learned in Afghanistan in the 80s by Delta Force and CIA as well as those lessons learned in Iraq, Somalia, Bosnia and Sierra Leone by the Rangers, Delta, SAS, Force Recon and SEALs will be taken to heart.

    Back when Desert Storm was still Desert Storm, all you heard were bags o' wind talking about how the United States Military was a paper tiger and couldn't invade Iraq because Iran couldn't invade Iraq in 8 years of fighting. Then when it turned into Desert Storm, they told us how many thousands of men would die because the M-1 used too much gas and was too complicated to use or because it was designed for Europe. Same thing is going on now, people are declaring the United States and United Kingdom beaten before they've had a chance to fire a shot back in anger. It's FUD.

    All those soldiers are volunteers, give them a chance to prove themselves or be beaten.
    • Thanks for saving me the time of writing essentially the same thing. This is another in a string of stupid articles written by journalists who think they know something the CIA doesn't, written to analyze a different war than the one we'll be fighting.

      And some stuff in the article is obviously urban legend, such as, "The people sitting at the far end of such a cave would not even notice that you dropped a bomb that exploded at the entrance." Get serious. This is lame, and we'll see the same dumb stories all over network news the next few weeks.
    • Hear, hear. It's nice of Michael to give us such an insightful analysis of the mistakes we are currently making before a single shot has been fired.

    • The US Army in Vietnam was almost 75% volunteer. The US Army during WW2 had a much higher conscription ratio.

      But basically I agree with you that we have learned from the Soviets and British.
    • There's an interesting article [independent.co.uk] from the Independent, a British newspaper, on conditions in Afghanistan that no amount of military prowess will change. Basically, anyone we send over there has a good chance of stepping on a mine.

      It's interesting that you bring up Desert Storm as if it had nothing to do with the WTC tragedy. We may have the best soldiers, the best weapons, and the smartist scientists on our side. But how does continuing the foreign policy that made people hate Americans so much prevent this from happening in the future? I am shocked that people seem so ready to give up civil liberties yet are unwilling to consider a drastic change in foreign policy. The nations of the Middle East have seen through our "divide and conquer" policy agenda. It has to change. It's not about "good" vs. "evil", it's more like our interests vs. anyone else's.

      So we can blither blather on about Navy SEALS, M-1 tanks, Delta Force, etc., but the fact is none of that shit will change the way other countries feel about us. Then again, that's not something I would expect a bunch of nerds with no friends to understand. So I guess you guys should get to work on Cave Sonar Linux or something.

    • Sure, we were soooo great during the Gulf War. That's probably why Saddam Hussein is still alive and governing Iraq.

      Besides, as the name indicates, Desert Storm took place in a desert. Flat land, few landscape features. Afghanistan is a country of freaking mountains. The natives know the landscape, and we don't. A little troop of snipers can hold a valley against a company. They can hide in caves you don't know of. They can take those mountain paths you don't know of.

      Before you go all "we're great and strong and we're gonna kick their ass", just ponder this: Switzerland was never invaded, and even the Taliban didn't make it into the most mountainous parts of Afghanistan.

      Sorry for being harsh, but it's really not the right time to brag about how great we are. It's not FUD. It's war. War is about not underestimating what we're undertaking. Not about bragging around.
  • by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Saturday September 22, 2001 @08:13PM (#2335794)
    Too bad we aren't learning from the British and Soviet mistakes.

    This is the sort of nonsense comment that really turns me off slashdot at times. As best as I can tell we have not repeated any of the Russian or British mistakes in Afganistan, nor is it likely that we are going to try to make Afganistan a colony or territory like the Russians and British tried.

    Sure, nobody said this is going to be an easy job. But it is quite clear that it is not going to be done solely through military means, nor would it even be possible to do solely through military means.

  • by Rimbo (139781)
    First, give their women a better lot in life.

    Gain territory. Then make the territory safe. Then give the people within that territory everything their hearts desire. Food. Clothing. Shelter. Jewelry. Television. McDonald's.

    Build them a beautiful mosque. Allow them to pray. Give them a world where they need not fear, where they are defended by the United States military.

    When the Taliban tries to assert itself, it will find itself against its own population, who will have found the security and freedom we Americans usually tend to take for granted, and will sacrifice all to defend.

    You'll have difficulty keeping the defectors to your side out -- just as the USA today has difficulty accepting everyone who wants to immigrate here.

    You win by conquering the way Rome did. You make the conquered territory more blessed than your opponents' territory.

    Those few who infiltrate will grow accustomed to the softness of the new lifestyle, and be unwilling to make the sacrifices necessary to fight their cause.

    You ask them what they want, and then give them more than they asked for.
    • I think this is a great idea.

      Now, there are those who will say "remember, they don't want matterial comforts the way Westerners do" or some such. But I think they are missing the point. True, they may not want Linux PDAs or whatever, but I'll bet good shoes would be appreciated.

      Those few who infiltrate will grow accustomed to the softness of the new lifestyle, and be unwilling to make the sacrifices necessary to fight their cause.

      There is some evidence of this already, in that it now appears that there may have been other hijackings planned that didn't happen because the hijackers backed out.

      Build them a beautiful mosque. Allow them to pray. Give them a world where they need not fear, where they are defended by the United States military.

      And most importantly, what we really have to offer isn't material comforts, it's freedom. This is the kind of thinking--using American strengths rather than letting the opposition choose the terms of engagement--that might really get us somewhere.

      -- MarkusQ

      • There is some evidence of this already, in that it now appears that there may have been other hijackings planned that didn't happen because the hijackers backed out.



        I wonder.. I had this thought that maby a nice little old lady started a conversation with one of the hijackers. The highjacker diden't want to talk much, but started anyways, so as not to appear suspicious. Maby the little old lady melted his heart a bit. Maby he saw a well behaved child in the row in front of him.

        I hope somthing like that happend.

    • They don't WANT McDonalds. Hell, I'm American and I don't always want McDonalds either- certainly not as a replacement for the cultures of the world.

      Give them food, clothing, shelter, and then give their countrymen in the USA _freedom_ and representation. If whole countries seek holy poverty rather than american 'affluenza' maybe we should be LISTENING rather than offering to change them until they are like us.

      Apart from that, great idea. You're half right and half-pig-headed here... screw McDonalds and the generosity of offering to be the one in charge with the guns and employers. Give them some support with NO strings attached and let 'em grow to be like themselves even if that isn't like us.

      You're talking empire building, quite literally. You're talking American Empire to control and run the world. That is exactly the damn problem! Slow down a bit and use that American generosity and basic naive decency to give these people some support WITHOUT boxing them into a corner. It wouldn't be THAT hard.

      Demanding that they work in McDonaldses with their wives in blue jeans and Western cosmetics while US military jets fly overhead is no generosity at all.

    • Give them what they need (mostly food, shelter, and work), and let them choose what they want from us. We absolutely can't be seen as imposing our culture on them, because this is exactly what the Taliban and Osama bin Laden have been accusing of ou doing all over the Middle East.

      If we enforce our lifestyle on them, it will only stir religious fervor amongst them. We must let them decide what they want and need. You'll still have people saying how their brothers have been corrupted by us, but those in the "secure" territory who know we aren't pushy will be less likely to hate us.

      Also remember that Taliban is not just a government, it is a theocracy and local clerics will support it. Do you remove someone's priest because he represents the government you oppose? How do you deal with the preachers who say our lifestyle is wrong? Religion is a powerful thing if handled badly.

      I absolutely agree that the best strategy is to get the people behind us, but we have to give them the lifestyle they want, not the lifestyle we would want. Start with basic neccesities and work with them to build infrastructure. Asserting basic human rights is also tricky. We can't stop people from believing that women are inferior. The best we could hope for is to make it illegal for people to act in ways that violate accepted human rights. For instance we can say women can travel without the burqua, but we should not try to make them do it.

      Treating people right, is all about helping people have oppurtunities to help themselves.
    • The reason we've had an unprecedented 55 years peace in europe since WW2 is not because of the bomb, not because of the cold war, not because we beat Hitler, certainly it had nothing to do with Ronald Regan .... it's because we followed up with the Marshall plan .... we made it so that the germans and japanese citizens had comfortable lives and have too much to lose by going to war again - we need to do the same all over the world - it's very simple: middle class people don't start wars - that's the real key to world peace
    • You win by conquering the way Rome did.

      So, will we see U.S. military commanders marrying into influential Afghani families?

  • I posted a MLP to Kuro5hin earlier this year with an excellent photo-report from Chechnya made by a Polish journalist. Here [kuro5hin.org] is the story. Unfortunately the main link no longer works but I posted a comment [kuro5hin.org] which has direct links to all images. The body of the story contains the picture titles.
  • Anyone seen a carrot? $40 billion in war chest funds could buy a lot of carrots. That is about $1,500 per Arab in Afganistan or about 6 times their GNP per capita. Twice the total value of everything in the country. Lots of carrots. A trust fund would instantly tripple their standard of living. Lots of tractors, roads and telephones or 80 million sheep. 3 sheep for every man woman and child in Afganistan. All we have are sticks. I guess we could start by killing all their sheep. They each have one now. We might have to give carrots to everyone who threatened terrorism against us though.. Yes, blasting them to glass is a much better solution than being held hostage to terrorist.. Something to think about.
  • On Afghanistan (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Brian Stretch (5304) on Saturday September 22, 2001 @08:31PM (#2335879)
    This email has been making the rounds, and happened to meander my way:

    Dear Colleagues,

    As we reflect upon the tragic events of this week and an appropriate
    "response," I thought you might like to see this letter from my college
    roommate, Tamim Ansary, who grew up in Afghanistan. I think he offers an
    interesting perspective on Bin Laden, the Taliban, and Afghanistan.

    Toivo Kallas
    Department of Biology & Microbiology

    Date: Thu, 13 Sep 2001 10:14:27 -0700

    Dear Friends,

    Yesterday I heard a lot of talk about "bombing Afghanistan back to the
    Stone Age." Ronn Owens, on KGO Talk Radio allowed that this would mean
    killing innocent people, people who had nothing to do with this atrocity,
    but "we're at war, we have to accept collateral damage," and he asked,
    "What else can we do? What is your suggestion?" Minutes later I heard a
    TV pundit discussing whether we "have the belly to do what must be done."

    And I thought about these issues especially hard because I am from
    Afghanistan, and even though I've lived here for 35 years I've never lost
    track of what's been going on over there. So I want to share a few
    thoughts with anyone who will listen.

    I speak as one who hates the Taliban and Osama Bin Laden. There is no
    doubt in my mind that these people were responsible for the atrocity in
    New York. I fervently wish to see those monsters punished.

    But the Taliban and Ben Laden are not Afghanistan. They're not even the
    government of Afghanistan. The Taliban are a cult of ignorant psychotics
    who captured Afghanistan in 1997 and have been holding the country in
    bondage ever since. Bin Laden is a political criminal with a master
    plan. When you think Taliban, think Nazis. When you think Bin Laden,
    think Hitler. And when you think "the people of Afghanistan" think "the
    Jews in the concentration camps." It's not only that the Afghan people
    had nothing to do with this atrocity. They were the first victims of the
    perpetrators. They would love for someone to eliminate the Taliban and
    clear out the rats nest of international thugs holed up in their country.
    I guarantee it.

    Some say, if that's the case, why don't the Afghans rise up and overthrow
    the Taliban themselves? The answer is, they're starved, exhausted,
    damaged, and incapacitated. A few years ago, the United Nations
    estimated that there are 500,000 disabled orphans in Afghanistan--a
    country with no economy, no food. Millions of Afghans are widows of the
    approximately two million men killed during the war with the
    Soviets. And the Taliban has been executing these women for being women
    and have buried some of their opponents alive in mass graves. The soil
    of Afghanistan is littered with land mines and almost all the farms have
    been destroyed . The Afghan people have tried to overthrow the Taliban.
    They haven't been able to.

    We come now to the question of bombing Afghanistan back to the Stone Age.
    Trouble with that scheme is, it's already been done. The Soviets took
    care of it . Make the Afghans suffer? They're already suffering. Level
    their houses? Done. Turn their schools into piles of rubble?
    Done. Eradicate their hospitals? Done. Destroy their
    infrastructure? There is no infrastructure. Cut them off from medicine
    and health care? Too late. Someone already did all that.

    New bombs would only land in the rubble of earlier bombs. Would they at
    least get the Taliban? Not likely. In today's Afghanistan, only the
    Taliban eat, only they have the means to move around. They'd slip away
    and hide. (They have already, I hear.) Maybe the bombs would get some of
    those disabled orphans, they don't move too fast, they don't even have
    wheelchairs. But flying over Kabul and dropping bombs wouldn't really be
    a strike against the criminals who did this horrific thing. Actually it
    would be making common cause with the Taliban--by raping once again the
    people they've been raping all this time

    So what else can be done, then? Let me now speak with true fear and
    trembling. The only way to get Bin Laden is to go in there with ground
    troops. I think that when people speak of "having the belly to do what
    needs to be done" many of them are thinking in terms of having the belly
    to kill as many as needed. They are thinking about overcoming moral
    qualms about killing innocent people. But it's the belly to die not kill
    that's actually on the table. Americans will die in a land war to get
    Bin Laden. And not just because some Americans would die fighting their
    way through Afghanistan to Bin Laden's hideout. It's much bigger than
    that, folks. To get any troops to Afghanistan, we'd have to go through
    Pakistan. Would they let us? Not likely. The conquest of Pakistan would
    have to be first. Will other Muslim nations just stand by? You see where
    I'm going. The invasion approach is a flirtation with global war between
    Islam and the West.

    And that is Bin Laden's program. That's exactly what he wants and why he
    did this thing. Read his speeches and statements. It's all right
    there. AT the moment, of course, "Islam" as such does not exist. There
    are Muslims and there are Muslim countries, but no such political entity
    as Islam. Bin Laden believes that if he can get a war started, he can
    constitute this entity and he'd be running it. He really believes Islam
    would beat the west. It might seem ridiculous, but he figures if he can
    polarize the world into Islam and the West, he's got a billion
    soldiers. If the West wreaks a holocaust in Muslim lands, that's a
    billion people with nothing left to lose, even better from Bin Laden's
    point of view. He's probably wrong about winning, in the end the west
    would probably overcome--whatever that would mean in such a war; but the
    war would last for years and millions would die, not just theirs but
    ours. Who has the belly for that? Bin Laden yes, but anyone else?

    I don't have a solution. But I do believe that suffering and poverty are
    the soil in which terrorism grows. Bin Laden and his cohorts want to bait
    us into creating more such soil, so they and their kind can flourish. We
    can't let him do that. That's my humble opinion.

    Tamim Ansary
    • This email has been making the rounds,

      This particular chain letter has the unusual virtue of being (probably) true. It is actually an article posted on Salon [salon.com].

      Why is it that chain letters never link back to their source URLs? Well, I guess most are blatant lies. But even the true ones invariably go out with stupid friend-of-a-friend [google.com] attributions.

      In any case, Afghanistan really is a bombed-out mess, and the majority of civilians would like nothing better than for the Taliban, and Al-Queda, and the ex-Mujahedin, to go away so they can have a real country again.
    • I see a lot of talk on the Web and T.V. about this. Afghans seem to think that they are under attack now, even though (from all news accounts) the U.S. is not yet attacking Afghanistan (as of this writing.)

      I am also disappointed that so many people seem to be assuming that a U.S. military response will be a brutish, heavy-handed attack on Afghanistan, the country.

      By all accounts, the State Department, Department of Defense, and President Bush appear to know the difference between the Taliban and Afghanistan. He even made that point clear in his speech on Thursday night. Just because some neanderthals on radio (for crying out loud! like the government every listens to those bozos) espouse "bombing Afghanistan into the stone age" doesn't mean that it's a given. There are still some level-headed thinkers in Government and Defense, albeit arguably.

      Yes, we do need to encourage our government to target their response as skillfully as possible. But approaching that argument from the presumption that the U.S. military will just simply attack Afghanistan, including it's oppressed people, will not accomplish anything.
  • For another excellent, and far more detailed summary, an Iranian filmmaker has written about his experiences [iranian.com] in Afghanistan. The site does not always seem to be up, and if you have problems, there is a mirror of the article [kokonino.com] available as well.

    I think the US goverment is getting ample warning about the problems of fighting in Afghanistan, we'll have to see what they make of them. Clearly, the poverty and horrible living conditions there suggest that sending food rather than bombs might be far more effective with regard to the general populace. Catching the terrorist is likely be better done by spies and intelligence than simply sending in the Marines.

  • Not that war should *ever* be commonplace, everyday, or mundane... but if this article is correct, if we are facing warriors that live in homes with very little to lose...

    It seems that the counter to terrorism then is hope. While it seems... stupid... to those screaming for blood and violence, helping the country rebuild and strengthen itself may work to our advantage on several fronts. 'Occupy' the territory and help them build infrastructure (in the name of troop facilities and such, perhaps?)

    Such as power facilities, communications channels, transport infrastructure, buildings, etc. Pour money into the country in such a way that the people are no longer hopeless and no longer believe the have nothing to lose?

    Educate the people. Not indoctrinate them, but give them the tools necessary to change their own lot, rather than forcing change upon them. Reading, science, math, communication. More hope.

    It sounds a whole lot better than fighting with guns and tanks, doesn't? Fighting terrorism with hope and life.
    • I don't want to put a damper on your idealism, but if you "Pour money into the country in such a way that the people are no longer hopeless and no longer believe the have nothing to lose?" do you really thing the money will be used for 'transport' and 'communications' without removing the present dictatorship? I admire your thoughts but I can't se it happening. Sorry.

      Phillip.
  • by Hanno (11981)
    ...is the constant chime of the news media that "the US is preparing their military strike against terrorism" (translated quote from German radio news, just minutes ago).

    The US is acting like a big, very angered 900 pound gorilla, screaming out "whoever did that, come out and show yourself so that I can beat you up!" Yet, nobody showed up so far. And the investigation has shown quite a few false leads so far, including publishing a list with suspected kamikaze terrorists who are still alive and just happen to have had their passports stolen...

    Of course, something must be done. But who is the enemy [comics.com], really? Bush promised that he would give proof in his (hollywood-taylored *) speech, he didn't. I still don't know who the US and their allies are going to fight [comics.com] and how troops in Afghanistan will help fighting terrorism.

    Everybody agrees that "terrorism" is a bad thing and that we should fight it. But isn't it just a catchphrase to drum up the support for this military campaign? (Oh, sorry, it's "America's new war", of course, as trademarked and repeated again and again by CNN.)

    So far, a military campaign against the state of Afghanistan is still on a shaky ground. "Bomb these bastards to oblivion," says the general public, but I can't help that I feel bad about it.
  • Note the mention of groups of guerrilla soldiers, including Osama Binladen, being funded by the CIA. I know that the CIA was later prohibited from hiring terrorists, and I have to wonder whether section 815 of the Combating Terrorism Act of 2001 [216.110.42.179] isn't exploiting the emotional response after a terrorist attack to weaken or completely remove restrictions on funding the type of people who hijacked these planes; to supposedly combat a terrorist leader who was apparently trained and strengthened by the same funding. The only discrepancy I see is that 815 allows this practice for 'intelligence' purposes, but forgive me for thinking it could easily be abused as a loophole to fund terrorists for any purpose. If it were, you can bet it'd be 25 years later before an FOIA request had the CIA's activities declassified.
  • Too bad we aren't learning from the British and Soviet mistakes.

    Yes, a whole sale invasion of Afghani soil with the purpose of controlling the countryside either without [1] air support or precision guided munitions or [2] while fighting an army backed with money and training from another super-power would be stupid. But unless I've been in a coma for a couple of weeks and its not really the 22nd of September, no one has suggested that yet.

    Not like I've ever been known to just go off, but one of these days I'm seriously going to have an aneurysm or hemmorage or something if people don't stop assuming that there are only two sides to any story. Our options are not "invade Afghanastan" or "stay at home and be safe". Its not that easy. Not doing anything doesn't make you safe, and doing something doesn't mean sending thousands of people to needless deaths. The issue is a little bit more complex, especially since no military action and millions of dollars in humanitarian aid to most of the Middle East up to September 11 sure did a lot of good at stopping terroism.

    As long as there are *governments* that sponsor terrorism, monetarily, with training, or with physical protection, you will not be safe.

    I trust the leaders of my country. I trust our military. And if my country calls me to service, you can bet your ass I'll be at the recruiting station in 15 minutes. I'm not willing to sacrifice my freedom so that you can be self-righteous about how much you love peace or how you are so smart since you passed a few history classes and managed to watch CNN. I will sacrifice my life so that we call live free from fear in the liberty our grandparents died for.

  • The U.S. doesn't want to invade and occupy Afghanistan... the British and Soviets did. The U.S. wants to go in, get their man (or men), and "deal" with them... whether be by trial or shot to the back of the head. This is the fundamental difference.

    Our technology is also greater than it was 20 years ago (when the Soviets tried). We have stealth, night vision, heat vision, etc... such things change the balance of odds. This is why we were able to take out Iraq so fast. Technology allowed us to be a few steps better, given that their troops were just as equipped, trained and skilled as our troops (which probably isn't the case)... and I'm sure isn't the case here.

    On a similar note, the Taliban has about 50,000 men. Currently, the U.S. military consists of 3.5 million men and 3.5 million reservists. Obviously, we outnumber their forces significantly... I don't think we'd have a problem wiping them out if we wanted. I think if they even took out like 250,000 of our troops we'd just turn it into a parking lot and wipe our hands of it. ;)
    • Our technology is also greater than it was 20 years ago (when the Soviets tried). We have stealth, night vision, heat vision, etc... such things change the balance of odds. This is why we were able to take out Iraq so fast
      Bzzzt. Iraq is NOT out.
  • This is NOT going to be a traditional war, like Desert Storm, nor is it going to be a police action, like what the USA went through in Vietnam (or the Soviets in Afganistan)

    The Israeli Mosaad have been killing the al Qaeda people for quite some time, using covert activities like car bombs, etc.--but they have limited resources to track them down, and the planning must be meticulous, and the target really is rather ephemeral.

    It's important to remember who we are, and what we are up against.Our goal must be supporting and protecting the innocent, while (literally) killing the guilty.

    That means the Saudi, Iraq, Iran, Afganistan radical islamic strongholds will, over time, have to be identified and...sterilized...with the help of moderate elements in those nations.

    It's hard to beleive we might need the help of Saddam Hussein's secret police, perhaps while he looks the other way, this time around, but think about it:

    If the moderate muslims don't ante up, now that they have said that those responsible for the tragedy are not true muslims, then next time it might be gas, bio or nukes on our soil, or the soil of israel.

    I think we have policies in place...that state a nuclear attack on israel or the USA will result in nuclear retaliation against the most likely agressor, period. It would be a shame to see tens or hundreds of thousands of moderate muslims get nuked because of a few hundred radicals. They say we would never do it, don't bet on that, ever.

    Bush is right on this one...the Arab world needs to decide whether they want these radicals around in the future, and they better decide to give them up...covertly or overtly..because this needs to be taken care of now.

    The leaders in the muslim world are politicians like elsewhere. There are moderates and radicals in their governments. Let's hope the thousands dead died for nothing, that the moderates help us clean house, and when it's over the more hateful elements of islam end up a historical footnote.

    We need the moderates to help us, or we're doomed.

  • From the referenced story, Afghanistan Is Like Nothing You've Ever Seen, Soviet Vets Say [latimes.com]:

    First, there are no real "bases" for terrorists, they say. Fighters live in ordinary villages. Air or artillery strikes against them will invariably kill civilians.

    Moreover, there are few targets other than villages, the veterans warn. There are few bridges, no factories. Most of the country's infrastructure has been destroyed in decades of civil war.

    "Even in Iraq you had something to bomb," Lisinenko said. "But there are no targets in Afghanistan. There's nothing there to bomb."


    I'm very happy that Slashdot is covering this. If the U.S. government starts a huge war, it will affect our computer jobs. Not only that, if I did not read Slashdot, I would never have seen the article.


    The U.S. has bombed 14 countries in 30 years, killing a roughly estimated 3,000,000 people: What Should be the Response to Violence? [hevanet.com]
  • The Soviets and the British were fighting wars of occupation and control. The Soviets wanted a stable satellite state. The British wanted to expand their empire and control the land routes from India (already controlled) back to Europe.

    We don't want control. We are not looking to occupy. We don't give a shit if the Afghans harass the Indians, Pakistanis, Iranians, Tajiks, Russians, etc. We are going in to kill some people and destroy some military equipment & training camps.

    No, Afghanistand does not have major infrastructure -- no television, radio or internet; no major roads; no centralized anything.

    They DO have airports (a couple), tanks and planes that are used to fight the "Northern Alliance". They encourage locals to grow and export poppy products (heroin & opium) to the point that Afghanistan is the #1 supplier of those drugs worldwide. Only 10% of their land is arable, and 90% of that is used for poppy production. This results in the vast majority of the gov't income.

    Destroy what military we can find, and let the freshly supplied Northern Alliance fight on the ground. (It IS their land, after all.) Destroy a few crops of poppies; freeze all their remaining assets and seal the borders as much as possible and their income will dry up. Can't afford bullets, guns or bombs.

    Funnel aid (actual food & medicine, not money) through the Northern Alliance.

    Yes, people are going to die. Yes, civilians are going to die. They entire damn country was starving before (over 2 million refugees in Pakistan and 1 million in Iran before all this started -- that's 15% of Afghanistan's reported population). Maybe once the Taliban is gone something can be done. It sure as hell wasn't when they were in power.
    • They encourage locals to grow and export poppy products (heroin & opium) to the point that Afghanistan is the #1 supplier of those drugs worldwide. Only 10% of their land is arable, and 90% of that is used for poppy production. This results in the vast majority of the gov't income.

      Your information is dated. The Taliban have eliminated opium production [mapinc.org].

      The four-year drought might deserve a share of blame for the current famine.

  • Afghanistan is nothing compared to what we had to deal with in WW-II. It is a small festering boil on the ass of the world. It has a primitive culture with the people oppressed by a vicious minority - many of whom are foreigners (arabs).

    When a nation has been hit with a massive attack such as we took, the rules change dramatically. A massive attack reques an equally powerful reaction. Retaliation, in a situation like this, is not vengeance and is not done for satisfaction, although it may provide that. It is deterrence. It is to make it too painful for our enemies to use these tactics again. A nation must unsheath "a terrible, swift sword" after this kind of attack, or forever lose the trust and respect of its citizens and its enemies.

    It was no accident that The Battle Hymn of the Republic was plaid at the first memorial service. That song is symbolic of America wreaking vengeance in the name of freedom. And we shall do so again.

    Given the modern world of asymmetric warfare, it doesn't mean we go out and bomb their civilians the way we did in WW-II. We have moved beyond that, thank goodness. But it does mean we take a lot of action. We kill or capture a lot of people. We destroy a number of hostile governments, or we allow them to castrate themselves if they wish to survive.

    Few are alive today who previously experienced a situation of this magnitude, and thus few have come within an order of magnitude of appreciating the situation. For example, compare Afghanistan to our first major military action of WW-II (our = US): Guadalcanal. Read up on that horrible fight, and realize it was just one relatively small part of just the US part of that war. And there, we were fighting a much better armed, much larger and at least equally suicidal enemy. And we lost thousands - on that one little island. And we kept going and did it again and again. (I say we, but really my parents generation).

    And our allies did the same sort of thing. Churchill had to sacrifice the civilians of Coventry to protect one cryptographic secret.
    The citizens of London suffered through the blitz, which killed tens of thousands of civilians.

    Today we are used to thinking of war as little police actions like Kosovo, or constrained theatre operations like the Gulf War I, or at worst cold war proxy fights like Korea, Vietnam or (for the USSR) Afghanistan-I. Today, there is no cold war which allies nuclear powers with our enemies. Today, we have been struck as badly as with weapons of mass destruction, and will probably avoid using nuclear weapons only because we don't need to But if they were needed to win this war, I have no doubt they would be used, and should be. This is some serious stuff.

    What has been done to us (and all free nations of the world), unprovoked, gives us a motive far different than what we had in Vietnam or Korea or Iraq. It is more like what the British had in World War II: war leading to unconditional surrender or destruction of organized enemies of ours who were responsible for this or who have provided sanction either to those who did this or those who could have done it.

    This means that if, for example, Syria doesn't allow us to take out, by air AND ground, the terrorist bases they support, the current Syrian government will be replaced - at whatever the cost! This is just one example. War is hell, and we have just experienced a taste of it. Now we must give it to those despots and psychopaths who have been preying on innocent civilians for too long.

    Another thing war means: if the press discovers a military or intelligence secret, they keep it a damned secret. If they don't, at the least the citizens should be outraged enough to make the reporter and organization very sorry.

    It also means that acts of domestic terrorist such as those carried out by Earth First! or McVeigh be treated as acts of sabotage in war, with appropriate penalties.

    Give up a few freedoms? We don't have a choice. We just had them taken from us by a bunch of vicious thugs supported by evil despots who oppress their own populace, spread hate against us and what we stand for, and support those whose goal is to take innocent human life. We just lost the freedom to travel freely. We just lost the freedom to feel secure in our country. We just lost the first battle of World War III.

    And even with all of this, I suspect that most Americans, no matter how much they whine about it, will lose far fewer freedoms than were lost in WW-II. Most Americans will not be drafted, but in WW-II, 30,000,000 of the men of the US were in the armed services. Think about that! That is the sort of sacrifice that had to be made then, and the sort of power we could generate today. Thank goodness most of us won't have to. And thank goodness there are still a few among our number who volunteer to put their lives at risk to keep this from happening again, and to punish those responsible.
  • Try here [cnn.com] and here [cnn.com] for more information of this sort. Both are good CNN articles about the difficulties of an Afghanistan war.

  • Ok, lets look this one over:

    The british failed because the british troops had no real reason to fight other than the glory of england. (let me tell ya, that does not get you very far against anybody who is fighting for their homeland).

    The russians failed because the US saw an excellent opportunity to accelerate the collapse of the soviet empire. After all, do you really think that the afghans found that many AK-47's on the battlefield? Didn't think so. The US gave the resistance lots of weapons. This is the same group that would become the taliban a few years later. We also gave them billion US dollars in aid to make sure that they had the supplies that they needed.

    Of course, the big error made by the US. After the war, we just got up and walked away. We created a vacuum, the taliban filled that vacuum. And now that you have a country of folks who only know how to do one thing well (other shoot a US made stinger missile), it is hard to get them to suddenly do something else (like rebuild a nation).

    Had the US poured a few of those billion into the country in the form of humanitarian aid, we would not have this problem today. Then again, we expected the local countries to do their part in assisting the afghans. (lesson #2, The Saudi's don't give a shit about the afghans)

    So, how do we get out of this mess?

    We can start by using special ops to get at a few of the more popular targets (bin laden, a few of the camps). However, the real victories will not be shown on CNN in an arcade like display: finding the money trail, arresting folks before they get a chance to carry out their plans, etc, etc. The last thing that we should do is launch a land war and try and occupy the country. Unless we want to throw a few million americans at the problem, we don't have a chance in hell of making it work.

    In the end, the US will have to take a long term view of the area, something that we have never done and try and get ourselves out of the area as soon as possible. After all, we judge a company based on their quarterly results, what makes you think that we will start to ask the question "but what happens in 10 years"

    Lets hope that the US gets a clue this time and takes care of the problem and not just the symptom. After all, I'm a capitalist pig who likes all of the things that a healthy economy can get me and that economy does not like having large buildings blown up.
  • by smack.addict (116174) on Saturday September 22, 2001 @09:50PM (#2336191)

    Too bad we aren't learning from the British and Soviet mistakes.

    What an ignorant comment! We have not sent in a single troop yet, and yet you feel you have a basis for making this claim?
    Guess what? We have Russian advisors assisting us in our military planning. Just because the English and Soviets failed does not mean the lesson is "Don't touch Afghanistan". It certainly is not "Don't touch Afghanistan even if they harbor terrorists who kill 5,000 of your citizens."
  • If you haven't yet listened to or read President Bush's speech to Congress [yahoo.com], I highly recommend doing so.

    I'm getting the distinct impression that Bush is planning on liberating Afghanistan. There are even reports that this is the case [guardian.co.uk]. Combine that with the ongoing British diplomacy with Iran [thetimes.co.uk], Iran's calling for an international fight against terrorism [yahoo.com], and unprecedented sympathy [yahoo.com] towards the terror attack victims. And note how we haven't dropped any bombs yet, 11 days after the WTC mass murder. It looks like we're going to do the job right this time.

    Peace with Iran, the liberation and rebuilding of Afghanistan... it's going to be tough to pull off, but if it can be done, wow...
  • A lot of what I've heard is along the lines of "you can take the cities, but you'll be forever deviled by hordes coming out of the high valleys".

    You also hear a lot of stuff like "there is no beach-head" and "this is a different kind of war".

    OK, so the proper response to a different kind of war is a different kind of fight. Instead of taking the cities and then trying to "mop up" the notoriously difficult mountains, why not do it in reverse?

    I've been thinking that we should check out these valleys and make sure that a small defensible area is clear. Then, you drop troops and supplies in that area to establish a "valley-head". You do this several places. The choices would be based on how much you can see, and what routes you can see. The mission of these forward bases is to shoot anything that carries a weapon, and to gradually explore and secure the area around the base, eventually establishing checkpoints, or "chokepoints" if you prefer. These guys eventually have to come out of their holes, and we can run surveillance on them day and night.

    Once this is accomplished, then, and only then you invade the cities. If they are in the cities it is not so bad because urban fighting is historicly our strength. Once a city is captured, it is secured by house-to-house search for any and all weapons and contraband.

    Once the country is controlled, it then becomes a matter of figuring out what government to install and/or how to partition the country. That is a more difficult problem. Expanding the former Soviet republics might not be such a bad idea since there are many ethnic Tadziks, Uzbeks, etc. already there. However, there would probably still have to be some kind of Afghanistan and we may not want to expand Pakistan or Iran.

    Imagine a "United States of Islam" or "Islamic Union". That could be much, much worse, especially if it took on the characteristics of a quasi-fascist megapower like China. Then again, it might also be tranquilized by the desire for trade. That is a tough call.

    The other worry is that if we stay there too long we could end up building infrastructure that might later be used by China to move troops into the oil fields of Iraq and Saudi Arabia. Remember, this is the old "silk road" we are talking about here. As China becomes more and more industrial we have to be wary of what they are going to do when they have the same thirst for oil that we have. So, regardless of what plan we execute we should be careful not to build a modern silk road.

    To a great extent this whole mess all started with the US fighting the Soviet Union by proxy. So much for the Cold War being over.

  • If we use military force against Afghanistan, we might end up using Pakistan as a base for some of our operations. This article [cornell.edu], altho a bit dated, has interesting information about Pakistan and the 'Jihad Schools' located there. It helps shed some light on how our troops might be thought of and treated if they were stationed in Pakistan. Sounds like it would be a pretty hostile environment
  • With modern technology and an open world the only way civilized societies can be safe is if the punishment for acts of terror goes far enough to make them unthinkable to the possible terrorists. That's not done by occassionally arresting someone and putting them on trial. Instead it's done by making clear that anyone in their neighborhood who doesn't help in eradicating them will go down with them; while neighbors who turn them in will be richly rewarded. Even if the terrorists themselves are irrational, most human beings everywhere care enough for their future to respond to a good combination of bribes and threats.

    Our government is neither ignorant nor divided. Never heard of good-cop-bad-cop? Watch this go down. Pakistan will make out very well indeed by selling out the Taliban - who were becoming dangerous to Pakistan too. And Pakistan has had military advisors in all the Taliban campaigns - they can completely betray them. Afghanistan didn't want to be part of the Soviet empire, so resisted that thoroughly. Most Afghans would be happy to have their country rebuilt on a UN/US model - these people are starving, their women being stoned to death for religious violations. And we're not trying to continue colonial administration like we did in Nam - they know they'll be free after we restore the country. Hell, even the Vietnamese like Americans now.

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