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President Obama: Look for a New Massoud

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President Obama: Look for a New Massoud

by Cora Sol Goldstein

Download the Full Article: President Obama: Look for a New Massoud

It is often said that foreign powers are condemned to fail in Afghanistan. This is an over-simplification -- the ancient history of Afghanistan is the history of successive and successful foreign occupations that radically changed the country and its prevailing ideologies. It is true that in modern times imperial powers have systematically lost their Afghan adventures. In all cases, the invading armies tried to deploy a reduced number of troops and attempted to keep their casualties low. They relied on their technological superiority in their efforts to impose a central government that could be controlled from afar. The U.S. is losing Afghanistan because it is adhering blindly to this model.

It is imperative to free American policy from the straitjacket of misconceptions that shapes U.S. strategy in Afghanistan.

Download the Full Article: President Obama: Look for a New Massoud

Cora Sol Goldstein is an Associate Professor of Political Science at California State University, Long Beach. Goldstein received her Ph.D. from the Department of Political Science at the University of Chicago in 2002. Her book, Capturing the German Eye: American Visual Propaganda in Occupied Germany (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009) discusses the U.S. experience in postwar Germany. Her recent publications include  "2003 Iraq, 1945 Germany, and 1940 France: Success and Failure in Military Occupations," Military Review, July 2010 and "A Strategic Failure: American Information Control Policy in Occupied Iraq," Military Review, March-April 2008.

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Anonymous (not verified)

Mon, 08/30/2010 - 1:55pm

"Like it or not, you never have enough stuff or influence"

I guess my point is, we did have enough in Kosovo. And it's doing relatively (relative to Afghanistan) well these days.

The postmodern thing was sort of a joke, friendly in its own way. But I really have a hard time imagining what my "school of thought" is, such that we (me and who?) want to prolong the misery. What I am saying is, if you have complete and utter chaos on the highways, with drivers firing automatic weapons at each other, forcing millions to flee their homes and causing thousands of deaths per day, you need a huge number of state troopers to flood the roads and stabilize the situation, so that you can get the rate down to 115 deaths a day (42k a year) in a population of 260 million, many of which are accidental. Tiny quantities like that have a quality all their own, compared to wartime Iraq deaths.

"MAC" McCallister (not verified)

Sun, 08/29/2010 - 8:45pm

"Luckily, there isn't a moral equivalence between what happened in the neighborhoods of Baghdad under our watch and traffic patterns."

Of course there is a moral equivalence between the horrors of blood feud, revenge/vengence killings and attempts by select Shia parties/militia to conquer select Baghdad neighborhoods (which you incorrectly label ethnic cleansing... In this case, both Sunni and Shia are Arab) and in the 42,000 traffic fatalities a year on our nation's highways, especially since you imply that we could have done something about it.

You explain the following: "... a 20:1000 counterinsurgent: population ratio was observed. If we cannot man a counterinsurgency mission at that ratio, we will probably lose due to our not being able to achieve a monopoly of legitimate force (or protection capability?). And yes, I believe that if we put a ratio of 20 state troopers for every thousand cars on the highways, that 42k number would drop precipitously."

So, why do you not argue as vigourously for the 20 state troopers for every thousand cars on the highways to keep us safe as you do for the casualites of war? Selective morality or a purely post-modern approach to problem solving? The military labels these types of problems as "economy of force" challenges. Like it or not, you never have enough stuff or influence (unlimited wants and requirements and points of diminishing and marginal returns). But in a perfect abstract world of one's own imagination... none of these challenges interfere... nor should they be considered if they endanger an imaginative construct.

I am actually happy that you don't seek to totally protect me and others from ourselves ... since totalitarianism follows wherever the goal of a world without conflict or power is consistently pursued... I do not wish to imagine a U.S. highway inundated with state troopers, albeit for my own protection ... and all that truly entails.

Post-modern eh? Don't think so... I am as modern as you can get. I do challenge your objective truth and abstract renderings of functioning societies/communities and explicitly accuse your school of thought of prolonging the misery and displacement during wartime instead of allowing all parties to a conflict to renegotiate the social contract on their own good, bad and ugly terms...


porjosh (not verified)

Fri, 08/27/2010 - 7:11pm

As a citizen of Afghanistan I do agree with Cole that NATO is wasting its time and resources in fighting in the south. The solution is in the dissolution of Afghanistan. How you do it?
NATO withdraws from the south and concentrates in the north with limited military footprint costing a fraction of what it is spending now. The re-energized-and-motivated northern army and police will ensure security for the northwest and Kabul region, which hold two-third of the population who are largely friendly to the West. The new force will enjoy massive public support and respect - with no shortage of volunteers and no need for old power brokers. Leave the south to the Taliban and their Pakistani mentors. There is not much in common between Pashtoons and non-Pashtoons, but there are a lot between them the Pakistanis. Stability cannot come to this strategically-important part of the world unless partition happens.

Grant (not verified)

Thu, 08/26/2010 - 12:49pm

I'm afraid I'm going to have to put this bluntly (and perhaps rudely). This is preposterous. Even ignoring the generalizations, the lack of understanding about Pakistan, the complete failure to even think about Kazakhstan or Russia, the failure to realize that Pakistan really isn't that great a power in Central Asia there is one line in particular that makes me wonder how anyone with a Ph.D in Political Science could write this. That line would be '"The use of nuclear weapons is not yet justified"'.

Ms. Goldstein, under what conditions could you possibly justify ever using nuclear weapons on Afghanistan? What possible scenario would ever justify to anyone the use of nuclear weapons on a nation that doesn't even have any capacity to threaten the existence of the United States? Even if we were to ignore the political and radioactive fallout from using nuclear weapons, what would be so dangerous that we would be forced to use nuclear weapons instead of far safer conventional weapons? The only possible explanation I can come up with is that you were speaking in jest, but if so that is most definitely out of place in a serious work.

Ken White (not verified)

Fri, 08/13/2010 - 12:49pm

Quote of the week!!!<blockquote>"The views expressed are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government. And that's just sad."</blockquote>


Fri, 08/13/2010 - 10:19am

<blockquote><em>"If we cannot man a counterinsurgency mission at that ratio, we will probably lose due to our not being able to achieve a monopoly of legitimate force. And yes, I believe that if we put a ratio of 20 state troopers for every thousand cars on the highways, that 42k number would drop precipitously."</em></blockquote>
Afghanistan might not be a graveyard of empires, but I think it may become a graveyard of ratios. The 20 to 1 ratio was arrived at by analyzing conflicts that were vastly different in terms of the motivations of the belligerents, the objectives of the counterinsurgents, and about umpteen gazillion (+/- a zillion) other variables. All things being equal, that ratio probably has some use. But all things are not equal. Not even close.

Perhaps the most salient variable is our understanding of what the hell is going on in Afghanistan. If anyone sees any evidence that ISAF, DoD, or any of the individual services have learned anything as an organization that would enable to us to properly utilize "enough" troops on the ground, dollars in the budget, and NMC equipment, then please highlight it. Thus far, I see no evidence that we have any better understanding or any better plan with regard to Afghanistan than we had 2, 4, 6, or 8 years ago. If the plan sucks and you don't know what the hell you're doing, throwing more stuff at the problem isn't going to fix it.

What started out as a political argument to criticize Bush ("he neglected Afghanistan to fight his evil war in Iraq!") has somehow now become an accepted argument among intelligent people. First we had the COIN straightjacket - COIN was the only tool available and we had to figure out a way to make it work. Now we have the resources straightjacket - more resources and more stuff (troops, time, money, equipment, relaxing constraints) - and resources are now the only answer to making this goat rodeo work.

Perhaps the only thing that anybody has been consistently right about in Afghanistan is the insistence that the solution must be a political one, rather than a military one. Unfortunately, we say that a lot but we never act upon it. Afghanistan has a poorly conceived Constitution and government created in large part by the international community, a President whose skills are not well suited for the circumstances, an insurgency that flared up in large part due to political grievances with the President, and a Pakistani government that is unwilling/incapable of assisting us, despite billions in aid, for political reasons. Yet our solution is more troops, time, money, equipment, and relaxation of constraints. Where does the line form so that I can take my turn smashing my head against the wall?

<em>The views expressed are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government. And that's just sad.</em>

Mac, you want leverage? You cant handle leverage.;) Well maybe you can. Will offer the following leverage suggestions that have not been proven false and therefore must be true [argumentum ad ignorantiam ;) ] Please note that none are all that much different than what Congress is currently doing with Lebanon.

* General Petraeus and others employ persuasion...assumes that our own leaders can be persuaded and convince President Karzai it is in his own interest
* Persuasion of Parliament to split nation into two autonomous zones. Parliament has held up Karzai appointments, maybe they can send him a stronger message, especially since theoretically more than half of parliament would be non-Pashtun
* Persuasion of Pres. Zardari and promises of military/other aid if willing to give up part/all of FATA toward a larger Pashtunistan autonomous territory of Afghanistan
* Promise twice the money and directly in Karzai/Abdullah2 (or other) hands to spend as they see fit

* Continue focusing most aid money through US CERP/similar, cooperative provinces, NGO, and coalition control bypassing the central government
* Graft commissions focusing on Karzai friends/family...the non-kinetic equivalent of bombing Serb President's pals businesses causing them to persuade Milosevich to give up
* Reduced monetary/equipment support for ANA/ANP, projected at $8 billion annually currently...if Karzai thinks the Taliban could overthrow him, he might cave
* Quicker pull-out of Pashtun areas and into northern areas as allies leave. Easier to seek forgiveness than permission.

Because I'm part realist (as Joel says), when it comes down to a choice between:
1) leaving Afghanistan entirely if Pashtun-area COIN fails like allies have and will, or
2) moving primarily to the northern provinces leaving only a few major southern and eastern bases...the choice is pretty clear.

Otherwise, sans bases in Afghanistan, Pakistan and other nations could preclude overflight rights to conduct CAS/bombing, aerial supply, and UAS surveillance. Then we are back to cruise missile strikes which have not proven effective in the past.

Yes Ian, it was based on graphs shown on from Drew Conway (good article today about agriculture and central government official ineptitude), but Ive seen just as many similar maps and bar graphs from CSIS.

CSIS also published results of an ABC/BBC/ARD poll showing Afghan positive ratings of local security as of February 2009 at only 55% for all of Afghanistan with around 75% in Kunduz and Balkh and 14% in Helmand and 23% in Kandahar. Im sure the northern provinces are worse now with the northern supply route opened, but they are still far safer.

We don't make other mideast policy based on the Bedouin...why cite the Kuchi who also cause problems in Pashtun areas.

Mac correctly said "U.S. cannot be seen to exercise authority during the COIN fight or reform effort."

However influence can occur behind the scenes and it could be made to look like Karzai's idea. Just talking about alternatives like this creates leverage on President Karzai when influential folks like Robert Blackwill publish it in the newspaper and others express similar ideas and dissatisfaction with the status quo strategy.

Ian (not verified)

Thu, 08/12/2010 - 8:45pm

Joel, despite my disappointment at learning from you that ethnic cleansing is actually at the core of realist thinking (does political science really not think about living human bodies like mine turning into corpses and then dust?), you are a far better essayist than the author of the post. I think you are too generous to ascribe your ideas to her, however "deep within" her writing you might seek to find them.

The formula for a monopoly of legitimate violence is not some magic potion of liberal theory or realist theory or MACsist postmodernism. The model is not pre-Dayton Bosnia but rather post-Dayton Bosnia or Kosovo, where a <a href="… counterinsurgent:population ratio</a> was observed. If we cannot man a counterinsurgency mission at that ratio, we will probably lose due to our not being able to achieve a monopoly of legitimate force. And yes, I believe that if we put a ratio of 20 state troopers for every thousand cars on the highways, that 42k number would drop precipitously. Luckily, there isn't a moral equivalence between what happened in the neighborhoods of Baghdad under our watch and traffic patterns.

"MAC" McCallister (not verified)

Thu, 08/12/2010 - 7:42pm

What is worse... a four year siege of Sarajevo with the international community passing resolution after resolution condemning the bad men, while refusing to arm the Bosniacs and choosing instead to send food so as to keep the city dwellers healthy enough to be killed by sniper and arty fire. Or is it worse for the Mongols to sack a city and be done with it... (this actually allowed the urban area to regenerate, something that was in the Great Khan's interest... after all, a dead place don't pay tribute or taxes).

How many non-combatants have died or been displaced needlessly in the last half-century because we have allowed the humanitarians to rip off the bandage a little at a time. Bad people are just good people we haven't converted yet. I said it before and I'll say it again. Rip the damn bandage off and be done with it.

Awful ethnic cleansing in Iraq? Really??? Are we saying that a "killing fields" scenario occurred in Iraq while the U.S. forces stood idly by and did nothing? Much killing was actually the result of "blood feud" and pay-back for 24 years of Saddam rule... But we'd know that if we actually tried to understand the mechanisms in place for managing violence in places other than the U.S.

Dumb question... could the approximately 42,000 traffic fatalities a year on our nation's highways and by-ways be considered a "killing field" and awful bloodletting?

Dr. Goldstein actually floats the idea that sometimes you might just have to pick a side and hold your nose. Unless of course you seek to become a social worker / marriage counselor to the world... Is that what we want to be: international social worker and marriage counselor? I guess it could be better than a world police-person.

There is actually no need to defend Dr. Goldstein's "kooky ideas". Rather, the time has come for those who advocate unrealistic and historically unwarranted approaches to dealing with bad men and that have resulted in more needless deaths and displacement of the innocents to defend their approach. Lets do the math and tally how many people have had to suffer and die because of this idealistic dribble.

The lesson is simple, the awful bloodletting and ethnic cleansing will continue until we no longer tolerate the behavior. Killing the bad men sends the appropriate message.

Apologize... I guess I wasn't done ranting... :-)



As awful as ethnic cleansing is, violence does end up establishing a modus vivendi based on power, which is the core of realist thinking.
Im sure Dr. Goldstein became familiar with that in her PhD work at Chicago, being exposed to the realist thinking of Dr. John Mearsheimer, who would be better able than I to tease out the realist subtexts here:

1. How important is Afghanistan to American security? This is a question that, as Dr. Metz pointed out in his recent op-ed, two successive administrations have answered this question inadequately if at all. What is the threat to American power and security posed specifically by chaos in AF, as opposed to Al Qaeda leaders planning from safe havens in the Pakistani hinterlands?

2. If AF is truly important enough to warrant the commitment of ground forces, we run into the legitimacy paradox: the greater our effort on behalf of the GIRoA, the less legitimate they appear relative to the Afghan insurgents. Even if were engaged in competition between a US-proxy Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and a Pakistani-proxy Taliban, we still lose out because we are "more foreign" than the Pakistanis and therefore (to most Afghans) a less legitimate meddler.

3. If the US intents to establish a viable AF state, it needs an AF client that can self-legitimate by defeating the PK-sponsored TB, without being as obviously dependent on the US as the GIRoA currently is. That would require covertly or clandestinely facilitating a domestic Afghan state-building process, which would legitimize a government through force of arms. This has been compared to the formation of the French nation-state under the Bourbon kings through the revolts and civil wars of the 17th century: as in the France of 1600, there are no functioning civil institutions (there are competing ethnic/tribal and religious institutions, which are not the same thing) and a very episodic tradition of strong central government, with an attempt at imposing order on a country that is neither ethnically nor linguistically homogenous and riven by sectarian division. Its an interesting but purely academic comparison.

Deep within Dr. Goldsteins article, I think theres a powerful realist argument for this last position: any AF government that will satisfy Americas putative security needs will have to exert a monopoly on the legitimate use of force within its borders. So the real question becomes, how do you create this condition?

Dr. Goldstein floats the idea of parallel Pashtun and non-Pashtun states, created by consolidating military capabilities under a pair of cooperating Afghan warlords who pick ethnically-demarcated lanes to call their own. I think that policy is virtually impossible to implement. More likely, the US could find and covertly sponsor a Tajik, Uzbek, or Hazara warlord who would carve out a region in opposition to the mostly-Pashtun Taliban, leaving President Karzai to fight for dominance of the Pashtun tribal confederation against his Taliban adversaries. It's still unlikely, but not necessarily unthinkable.

I think the utility of Dr. Goldsteins piece is that it might provoke a more theoretically realist assessment of the nature of state-building. This would create an Afghan strategy option less reliant on establishing ex nihilo the institutional frameworks of which liberals are so enamored, and instead relying on the realist calculus of power and threat to lay the groundwork for future political institutions. Such a realist option would be more in line with the historical precedent of the Durrani kingdom, and would probably reflect the complex interplay between tribal, religious, and nationalist identities and norms that make Afghanistan so difficult for outsiders to understand.

Ian (not verified)

Thu, 08/12/2010 - 4:07pm

Cole said: "Look at the charts showing frequency of nationwide attacks"

You have to specify which charts--if you are looking at the charts based on US/NATO sigacts, like Drew Conway's recent series, we need to keep in mind that these are attacks only against coalition forces. If you think that exhausts all violent attacks throughout the country...

The fact remains that Afghanistan does not lend itself well to becoming two administrative units (like Biden's dream of three Iraqs, which happened de facto through awful ethnic cleansing).

Ken White (not verified)

Thu, 08/12/2010 - 3:11pm

Really been fascinating these past few years watching a bunch of Americans telling the world what the Afghans and the Pakistan must do. What they <i>should</i> do is sometimes addressed but far more often it is imperatively -- or imperiously -- stated...

Still, have to give it to MAC. Shorter MAC -- if you do not have the leverage of raw power and far more importantly, willingness to use it, or of being THE actual government in place, you really, really ought to strongly consider just staying home and trying to influence with other methods.

"MAC" McCallister (not verified)

Thu, 08/12/2010 - 1:14pm

Ian... nice rant... :-)

I see your rant and raise you one...

What I find offensive is not so much the rantings of those with good ideas, bad ideas, kooky ideas, or outlandish ones but the fact that none of us address the critical issue faced by an outside power seeking to state-build or impose win-win solutions on the locals.

What I find offensive and rather boring is that our hearts and minds discussions don't address the question for how to ensure that an ally does what American policymakers and intellectuals deem necessary to achieve the three oughts - the government ought to secure the population; it ought to provide competent, responsive and corruption free administration and to meet rising expectations with higher living standards. Our policymakers, intellectuals and contributors of this current SWJ thread avoid the subject of leverage or constraints on leverage like the plague.

We can belittle one another opinions or practice the fine art of begging the question, providing imperfect analogies, confusing condition and cause or cause and reciprocal relation or my favorite: reason on the basis of argumentum as ignorantiam but unless we address leverage all our rants are just a waste of breath.

The U.S. is not a colonial power. We do not control the Karzai administration nor do we manage their policies, let alone fine tune the Karzai administrative actions in accordance with all these fantastic technical blueprints that abound to build a better Afghan society.

Here is the paradox of our COIN and state-building approach... and efforts to talk it out so that we can all just get along. Successful COIN depends on local development and reform. But success precludes direct American involvement. In other words, for our form of COIN and reform to work the U.S. for both practical and diplomatic reasons cannot be seen to exercise authority during the COIN fight or reform effort.

We have no leverage to impose anything... For leverage to be meaningful, we must be ready to exercise it. Instead, the more critical the situation, the less leverage we are able to muster against the Karzai administration. The more critical the situation, the more powerful our "client" becomes and the more tempted he will be to exploit our assistance and resources rather than to mobilize his own resources or to engage in reform.

Hidden between the lines of Dr. Goldstein's paper are discussions on leverage... No need to agree with Dr. Goldstein's ideas but you have to admit that it is a breath of fresh air from the stale "why can't we all just get along" argument that will keep us in Afghanistan until kingdom come.

Thanks for the rant.


Nuristan is unique. Give it to Pashtunistan and let them worry about it. The rest are primarily due to new supply lines from the north.

But read an article yesterday where new 10th ID troops in Kunduz were escorting ANP and were pleasantly surprised by their fighting attitude and well as that of the people when their vehicle got stuck and they were isolated for hours.

A while back, read a series of articles in Foreign Policy where a reporter revisited the same northern area she had lived previously. She talked to a Hazara elder who spoke of hatred toward a Pashtun village 10 miles away, recalling the Taliban days. The German/US Kunduz attack against the fuel tankers last year caused much less of a problem because the adjacent areas didn't like the Pashtuns anyway.

Best of all, its largely a fresh slate where avoidance of bad past kinetic habits could be avoided and "build" would be easier. When you hold a Shura it will be easier to identify the faces that don't belong...if they allow them there at all.

Look at the charts showing frequency of nationwide attacks, The middle is mostly quiet and only areas near the ring road in the north are the worst. Base there and Bagram, Kandahar and Jalabad...maybe Khost...and you CAN "commute" to the war in support of the ANA. Due to the COIN in the north.

Ian (not verified)

Thu, 08/12/2010 - 8:18am

That was me that left that last rant.

Anonymous (not verified)

Thu, 08/12/2010 - 8:16am

Cole, you said: "For starters the central Hindu Kush are dominated almost exclusively by Hazaras and Aimaqs and seems very quiet."

Not a great example. The central-central Hazarajat is fine, but what happens when you have non-Hazara nomads that don't respect your lovely-in-theory "two autonomous states"?

Maybe <a href="… like this</a> (which by the way happens every year).

If decision-makers think that this conflict breaks down into a nice geographically binary conflict and Pashtuns are the problem, please do me a favor and google Kunduz, Baghlan, Balkh, Badghis, Kapisa, or Nuristan, and then please come back and report on how Afghanistan is a nice, simple place that just needs partitioning and everything will be fine.

IMHO, believe there is more likelihood of civil war if Karzai continues to favor Pashtuns, protects graft, and rules my-way-or-the-highway. Forget the anti-Pakistan stuff. But have you noticed, radicals have been winning H&Ms during this Pakistani flooding and Zardari has been criticized for leaving the country.

Radicals could become a greater force that Pakistan might want to get rid of ala a separate Pashtunistan in at least part of its areas...allowing it to mass more military along India, Baluch areas, and Kashmir instead.

Our presence in Pashtun areas also is probably part of the problem and leads to IED seeding that kills civilians as well as Americans/Allies located there. But we could still observe and bomb insurgents in a largely autonomous Pashtun area (supporting the ANA there) and insert special ops and assaulting infantry.

It is more clear cut than many allude to in terms of where Pashtuns dominate and where others reside. For starters the central Hindu Kush are dominated almost exclusively by Hazaras and Aimaqs and seems very quiet.

Karzai/Abdullah2 could organize property swaps between Pashtun and non-Pashtun families. Surely, nobody will try to claim there was not natural segregation occurring in Baghdad as the insurgency got worse and that separation of Shia, Sunni, and Kurd by both barrier and living area is what has led to more peace?

You don't need two countries but you could have two autonomous states and separate coalition funding/military support to each. Not sure how you would handle the parliament but this dual-state-one-nation concept is something they could create...much like the FATA used to be (still is?) largely autonomous.

The ANA could remain intact while trying to send more Pashtun officers to Pashtun areas and Tajik/Aimak/Uzbek officers to the north. Building secure "green zones" for Pashtun officers/enlisted and their families would possibly help to get more representation. ANP would be hired separately in the north and south.

Just my personal opinion.

SWJ Groundskeeper

Wed, 08/11/2010 - 3:59pm

Ian, thanks for the tip. Some informed analysis of this <a href="… at Registan</a>, as we appreciate and have come to expect from Josh.

Hello Mac, nicely said.

Dr. Goldstein arrives at VERY different conclusions than the bulk of our audience, but her argument is not without its own analysis and logic. At a minimum, please use to reevaluate your own analysis and presumptions in that light, rather than just putting a bumper sticker on her whole idea.

Ian (not verified)

Wed, 08/11/2010 - 10:36am

I think what is most offensive to those who have commented is the desire of the author for the US to transform, intentionally, the insurgency into a civil war that engulfs both Afghanistan and Pakistan (possibly, though not necessarily, leading to a nuclear conflict). Unless I'm reading the concluding paragraph incorrectly, but doesn't she say we should partner with anti-Pakistan militias (like which ones, TTP? LeT?)

Also, I think that we all need to consider the repercussions of a partition scheme (which is an idea that less-kooky people have put forward before). There is not a neat geographical border dividing northern non-Pashtuns and southern Pashtuns. These people are scattered all over the place thanks to decades of Afghan state policies of resettlement. We cannot undraw that map unless we are willing to accept India-partition-like murder on a mass scale (which the US and international communities would not accept). Or, to take a more recent ethnic-cleansing example, the mass-murder, mass transfer of ethnic communities, and enormous emigration of refugees that took place in Iraq in the pre-Surge period.

I assume that the author of this essay has considered all this, and finds it all acceptable.

Josh has a pretty detailed response at his blog,, which is not simply a drive-by dismissal of what, prima facie, looks like a pretty kooky essay.

"MAC" McCallister (not verified)

Wed, 08/11/2010 - 9:21am

MAJ K, please take the time and maturely pick this essay apart and share your findings with the great unwashed masses and less than enlightened individuals like myself. Argumentum ad hominem or argumentum ad populum aside... I am very interested in reading your assessment...

ColTJ... it is obvious to to me that you are not interested in a wide range of opinions... especially those that according to you cross the kooky line. Since it appears that we might be out of good ideas, maybe the time has finally come for the kooky ones... what say you? Please explain why Dr. Goldstein's article should not be published in the SWJ? The comment "because it is kooky" is a bit thin on justification. I am not so sure that there is nothing in Dr. Goldstein's article worth considering...

ArminPP... thanks for your insightful post... I very much agree with your assessment... not that it matters very much in the grand scheme of things.

Josh.. how the hell are you... long time no hear :-)


arminPP (not verified)

Wed, 08/11/2010 - 7:37am

It is not appropriate to compare the democratization of AFG with the German situation in 1945. Germany has had more than a century of democratic experiences with a society exposed to democratic institutions and parties. 12 years of Nazi regime did not extinct this experience. AFG has never ever had a strong democratic central government. The major mistake is the idea of the West to establish it and to exspect that it works.
To the local farmer it is more important that he and his family live in safety, have a chance for prosperity in a fairly stable situation. Wether this is achieved by democray, a kingdom or an other type of rule he does not care about.

ColTJ (not verified)

Wed, 08/11/2010 - 2:26am

Why was this article published here? I am all for hearing a wide range of views but she clearly crossed the cooky line.


Wed, 08/11/2010 - 1:22am

aw, c'mon! What's wrong with a little argumentum ad hominem?! Especially when its funny? Censors are so touchy these days. Sheesh.
ok - give me some time to fully and maturely pick this essay apart, piece by contradictory piece. Its Ramazan so I've got a light workload today anyway.

SK (not verified)

Tue, 08/10/2010 - 8:01pm

She says in the context of Afghanistan: "The use of nuclear weapons is not yet justified". Really? I can't take her seriously anymore.