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Monday, May 15, 2017


For John, BLUFThis is costing us lives and hundreds of millions.  Is it worth it?  Nothing to see here; just move along.

The author of this article is Georgetown Law Professor Phillip Carter and it is published by Slate.

It is about Afghanistan.

And, it is about strategy.  As framed by Phil it is matching Ends, Ways and Means.

I think that the Ends, Ways and Means construct doesn't quite capture it.  I prefer "Matching Objectives, Threats and Opportunities in a Logistically constrained environment."

I do like the Leon Trotsky quote.

According to legend, Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky famously said that “you may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you.”

So it is with Afghanistan and the Trump administration, which is reportedly considering a recommitment to the 16-year-old war in Afghanistan, as well as the deployment of 3,500 more U.S. troops.  None of this squares with President Donald Trump’s campaign pledge of an “America First” foreign policy, nor with his healthy skepticism of how America’s long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were managed under Presidents Bush and Obama.  No matter.  The Afghanistan conflict grinds on, and although Trump may not be interested in the details of this war, the war is interested in Trump.

We, as a nation, need to think about Afghanistan, and we need to think about the willingness of certain Islamic groups to use force (e.g., Terrorism) to achieve their goals.

This means that we need to understand how Islam functions and Islam evolves.  Islam is not us, in the sense that Islam is a different socio-political milieu from our own Western World.  Not that Muslims can't be part of our milieu, but an Islamic tribal society does not fit easily into our way of doing business.

If anyone is interested in this, I recommend they read this short article at The Strategy Bridge by Dr Janet Breslin-Smith.

My favorite sentence is:
My argument comes down to this:  we cannot do for anyone what they cannot do for themselves.
To be fair, Janet has been thinking about this for a while and she sees problems in Middle Eastern Muslim Societies.  These are problems that we can not fix.  They must fix them themselves.

Regards  —  Cliff

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