Back in the Spotlight: Terrorism

During the first year or two of Jesus, the Revolution & You, my newly developed interests in the founding and governing of America eventually led me into investigations of & research into terrorism. Once began, those ventures took on a sickening life of their own. I wanted to, but could not, stop. I failed to grasp how the American citizenry could not understand the enduring demand of vigilant counter-terrorism efforts, to be maintained at all times. It seemed a basic, grade school level premise that should be obvious but apparently wasn’t – if terrorism is not monitored and resisted, it will re-surface and spread. It doesn’t just go away nicely. And if one dares to learn some of its specifics…believe me, one does not easily forget them and one does understand the imperative of continued defense against such a force.

As time went by, and Americans increasingly wanted out of the Middle East, steps were taken in that direction; our national attention turned more & more to our disastrous economy.

Well, our economy has to be rescued. No doubt about that. Our debt situation is beyond horrendous – from what we are told – and desperately needs our attention. Probably no doubt about that, either. But I often had the quiet, niggling little thought that it was a mistake to allow such silence on matters of homeland security. What once occupied first place seemed to have completely disappeared from national awareness. That concerned me. A few times, it occurred to me to write a piece or two expressing this viewpoint…but perhaps I, too, needed a break from focusing on terror, on radical Islamist activity. So I let it slide. However, I have always believed that reducing our troops as much as we have, or intend to, is a mistake.

Suddenly, the spotlight has swung back onto this ’empty stage’. Some of the previous players are being pulled back onto it. I, for one, am grateful for this renewed focus.

Very recently, a guest on one of the political roundtables expressed the above sentiment concerning troop withdrawals in the Middle East. His words resounded. It was the first time in a while that I’d heard anyone say this. Since then, his opinions, or variations of them, are showing up every time I turn around, and coming from the likes of such heavy hitters as Hillary Clinton and veteran news anchor Ted Koppel. The tragedy of Benghazi, followed by the Algerian hostage crisis, has been a wake-up call.

.Bill Kristol, of The Weekly Standard, calls the President’s intention of getting out of Afghanistan “deeply irresponsible,and adds that we cannot “support counter-terrorism operations, you can’t even support Special Forces or drones with two or three or four thousand troops. They’ll be defending themselves.” He considers such a US military draw down “a very dangerous policy.” (link

Bill Kristol of ‘The Weekly Standard’

Additionally, Kristol points out that American retreat from war zones sends a possible message “around the world…that we are not interested…”  A disturbing result of such a perception was seen in the Algerian hostage crisis, in which the Algerian government launched its own rescue mission – involving the rescue of American citizens – without even contacting our government, without asking for help. This has not been the norm, up until now. It says something. I don’t like the vibe.

Hillary Clinton warns resoundingly of the consequences of American retreat from the Middle Eastern conflict, as well as others, specifying the dangers of extremism taking root and threatening our security. (link)  Senator Kelly Ayotte, a member of the Armed Services Committee, is concerned about this policy resulting in “a situation where the Taliban come back in power, where al Qaeda is again given a launching pad to commit attacks against our country.”  It is hard to believe that any thinking individual has not been concerned about that.

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The impression has previously been given that al Qaeda has been seriously weakened, almost vanquished. During his re-election campaign, President Obama used the word ‘decimated’ in referring to its leadership. I was a bit wary of his declaration. Was this so-called decimation really all that complete? To me, it felt like the President’s statement was missing something. Chris Wallace, host of FOX News Sunday, questioned Obama’s assertion by pointing out that more recently, as Defense Secretary, Leon Panetta stated “Al Qaeda is still there. They are still a threat.” Wallace continued his challenge: “Does the president now recognize that Al Qaeda is not decimated, but is, in fact, resurging in the countries that Leon Panetta talked about? And what is he prepared to do to take them out in Algeria and Libya and across the region?”

Ted Koppel

Ted Koppel labels President Obama’s rhetoric in this area as being one of the biggest mistakes he has made.  Koppel considers the image of  al Qaeda as having been ‘dealt with’ a false one, and that we still have some very real problems here. I have not been up on Capitol Hill. I do not walk the halls of Congress, sit in Senate sessions, nor meet with the President or his staff. I certainly do not know what is really going on in the corridors and chambers of government. But though perhaps not at the forefront, counter-terrorism offensives could not have been at a standstill. Nonetheless, it seems to be time to give them more of a center stage position. Ted Koppel believes America is entering “one of the most dangerous periods this country has ever known.” (link)  The option of focusing our country’s attention & resources primarily on domestic issues – our economy, job growth, immigration, etc. – should not even exist.

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Leaving Iraq…OK, but What about AfPak?

Well, it looks we have arrived – it is August, 2010 and time for a serious winding down of our troops in the Middle East. President Obama emphatically confirms that his campaign promise will be kept. Though I understand a non-combat military presence will remain, on the whole, combat forces will be gone by the end of this month. Troops withdrawal from Afghanistan is scheduled for next summer.

Either way, at this point I guess discussion is moot. Nonetheless…

There are still those who believe that it is unwise to pull out. I tend to lean in that direction myself, especially as concerns Afghanistan, but the King of the universe is in charge of history, ultimately. And since General McChrystal’s sudden removal from the Afghanistan theater, I have to consider the possible divine implications of the timing of this change of command. I have to consider that McChrystal’s strategy had its effect, seeds were planted & roots went down. If this is true, there will be more fruit. (
article) It would seem that the General accomplished his mission. For its final outcome, he himself perhaps did not need to remain in Afghanistan. Maybe US/NATO troops don’t need to remain, either, but…

Until a month or two ago, Amrullah Saleh was the man in charge of Afghanistan’s intelligence operations, and the ‘main conduit for intelligence sharing between the CIA and the Afghans.’ In a ’60 Minutes’ interview this past December, Saleh informs us that “The same people who we were trying to kill those days, ( Sept.11, 2001 and its aftermath) the bulk of them are alive. The war has not ended.” Saleh believes that “the American public is underestimating the Islamic fundamentalist groups, and terrorism and extremism…” And it is his opinion that withdrawal of our military forces will result in a ‘massacre campaign’ of at least two million Afghan deaths. He calmly but emphatically declares that this war is his, that he is in it for his family, his country. Because Afghan & American interests converge, we fight together, but Amrullah Saleh owns this long and difficult battle. For him, it is not Obama’s war, nor an American occupation.

In comments made be ‘aceinhibitor123’ on the ’60 Minutes’ interview of Saleh, and also ex-CIA operative Harry Crumpton, we get what purports to be the viewpoint of someone of Afghan origin: “A wounderful segment of the 60 min, thank you for informing the world about these facts. I absolutly agree with both gentlemen from the US and being from afghanistan and living in the US for 30 yrs I am so proud to see an afghan with a perfect description of the alQaida and Taliban. I was raised in afghanistan and the world is truely under estimating the danger of fundmental islamic terrorist as was described by the afghan security chief. I feel the strategy formulated and described by the american gentlman is what exactly is needed to defeat these people from the dark ages and rescue the humanity from danger they are posing.” (source)
Read more

(of course there is no way to verify the authenticity of this comment, that I can see, but I’m taking it at face value..)

I know that polls & surveys are said to indicate that support for the war in Afghanistan has dwindled big-time. But not in every instance, as shown by these thoughts from a reader , dated Aug.2, 2010, on the CBS website article/video ‘Shadow Warrior’:

“We are where we are, and we can’t wish all that away. I realize a lot of people don’t want to think about all that or deal with the mess we have made, and walking away sounds fine to them, but I personally cannot stomach it.

The good news is we appear to be winning hearts and minds and gaining some trust:

In one key shift, the latest poll by ABC News, the BBC and ARD German TV finds that sharply more Afghans now see the Taliban as the main source of their country’s strife, while many fewer blame the United States or its allies. (National survey) [NOTE: in all fairness, I must mention that this survey does still indicate some Afghan unhappiness with US presence.]
Let’s give it a little more time and see if we can turn things around. No one hates war more than I do, or worries about our troops more, believe me. I have some skin in this game.”
(Read more)

For more critical reasons perhaps, ex-CIA operative Harry Crumpton expressess similar sentiment.
Harry masterminded the downfall of the Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan, during the immediate aftermath of 9/11. During the ’60 Minutes’ interview, he explained: “It’s easy to say, ‘Okay, let’s pack up. Let’s go home.’ But this is an enduring security concern for the United States, for our homeland…prior to 9/11, I made this same argument. I said, ‘If we do not address the issue in Afghanistan, we will suffer in the homeland. It will happen.’ And it did.”

Saleh and Crumpton are both concerned about conditions on the other side of the border, in Pakistan, ‘the enemy’s safe haven, where they are the power’. And if he was in charge again today, Crumpton would “be inside Pakistan and have men on the ground in the tribal areas…building the exact kind of relationships that {he} built with the Afghans that helped defeat the Taliban…” post 9/11. I don’t need to emphasize – but I will – that this same strategy had been re-employed by General McChrystal, with some success…but to have the success, we have to BE THERE. Our troops must remain among the locals to train, support and empower unto victory.

Having previously been deeply involved with the Taliban, the Pakistani army & the Inter-Services Intelligence agency now combat the country’s jihadists. The National Republic paints a picture of a smug, militant regime having been ‘bitten’ by the very Islamists it supported. Once bed partners with insurgents and radicals, 9/11 forced a resented change upon militant Pakistan: “…the Americans arrived and made Islamabad choose another side.” TNR posits that this resentment lingers yet today, and many Pakistanis would love to backtrack through time, pre-September 11, 2001 – a push “made much more powerful by Americans who want to wash their hands of Afghanistan”, Americans who think that “Pakistan will be no worse off with an American withdrawal.” Ensuing civil war and alignment with the ‘new’ Afghan Taliban are strongly suspected outcomes of such a withdrawal. Along with ‘supercharged’ militants “who have argued all along that the Americans would leave defeated…” In no way do we, as Americans, want to contribute to Taliban re-growth or cohesion. Premature AfPak withdrawal could guarantee that very thing.


The Bad News is…..Getting Better?

So…picking up where I left off

In Mr. Kagan’s article, “Planning Victory in Afghanistan”, he first makes clear the necessity of not allowing the country to become a terrorist haven, and that this necessity is a major reason for our military presence there. Achieving this goal will require, Kagan writes, “building an Afghan state with a representative government.” Now, in my earlier exposure to this foreign scenario, I didn’t get the connection. Why not just drive out the bad guys, right? Just shows I wasn’t thinking it through. Thank God, our military planners, strategists, advisers & endless other involved persons do not make that error!

Following the thread of this idea of building a representative system of governance in Afghanistan expanded my vision. This country is not a stranger to political organization. In fact, the villages often have ‘representative bodies’, and/or elders, who manage local issues & tribal concerns. But there does not exist a strong tie to centralized government. In fact, even among themselves, many villages are ‘highly localized’, not connecting with other villages and possibly viewing Afghans from another area as outsiders. Multi-ethnicity and many years of internal warring added to the mix ensure a violent resistance to any form of government not representative of such diversities among the people. However, Kagan believes that “building local solutions that do not connect with the central government is the path toward renewed warlordism and instability.”

(Talk about cliques!)

We can compare such a situation to our early history, during the times prior to the framing of our Constitution, when the Articles of Confederation were in effect. America lacked a strong central government, and though she had individually developed states, those states were at risk for becoming individual monarchies, of sorts. What was supposed to be one united nation was actually thirteen of them! basically doing their own thing. Not exactly the best of plans! Washington predicted ‘the worst consequences’ for such a government, which was fast becoming impotent, & ridiculed by other nations as well. (Wayne Coffey, How We Choose A Congress) So, as in the case of those thirteen United States, Kagan sees Afghanistan’s hope as “develop{ing} local solutions that are connected to the central government but not necessarily completely controlled by it.” Has a familiar ring to it…

However, if the government to which the people & their states are connecting is corrupt, stability will be hard to come by.

Bottom line, “…we must work hard to develop local solutions to local problems, but always with the goal of integrating those solutions into a loose but real central support-and-control system.”
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Let’s talk about counterinsurgency.


Absent a counterinsurgency and nation-building strategy that leads the population to reject the terrorists, killing bad guys will not defeat well-organized and determined terrorist networks.”

In Iraq, during 2006, “…U.S. Special Forces teams had complete freedom to act against al-Qaeda…”,with tremendous air and ground support, both US & Iraqi, killing “scores of key terrorist leaders”, including al-Qaeda’s head in Iraq, Abu Musab al Zarqawi. Yet, in a sense, it was to no avail, producing rather an increase in terrorist activity, violence and control. Not until a counterinsurgency approach was applied did we defeat al-Qaeda in Iraq.
The proof is in the pudding, people…
***
Kagan discusses the concept of ‘awakening’, which proved so effective in Iraq in 2007, and caused the Sunni-Arab rejection of al-Qaeda as well as their turning to coalition goals. He specifies that this change of heart was the result of ‘myriad local developments’ (meaning, not a pre-determined, regulated movement, I’m assuming?) and that each grouping of Iraqis remained independent. From there, he extrapolates that, concerning the Afghanistan populace, “…we must allow and encourage local movements to grow organically—in accordance with local conditions and traditions, but moderated by Afghan and coalition forces that understand the local area.” If memory serves, a major strategy change in General McChrystal’s plans is just such a move – partnering our troops with the Afghan soldiers in a way that they will be not just fighting with them, but living in their midst, walking their streets, getting ‘down with the people’. In other words, ‘understand{ing} the local area’ through exposure to the local dynamics. Mirroring McChrystal’s thinking, Kagan believes that such understanding can be gained “…only by living among the people…”

Working from the inside out…

***
(Unless otherwise indicated, all quotes are from the National Review Online article “Planning Victory in Afghanistan” by former West Point professor and Yale graduate Frederick W. Kagan.)

The Bad News is… (con’d.) – or, ‘Hard is not Hopeless’

I love it when a succinctly-put phrase, or a concise, hard-hitting sentence or two, breaks it all wide open and I’m struck by genius. I really love that. (And of course I mean the ‘genius’ of another…my IQ isn’t that high!)

In the process of re-reading, reviewing & organizing papers and notes, in order to begin this post, I read such a statement that I must’ve missed the first time around. Following the trend of thought & logic presented by former West Point professor and Yale graduate Frederick W. Kagan, concerning the necessary ingredients for victory in Afghanistan, I found this most enlightening (to me) conclusion: ” That does not mean the problem lies with our overall “footprint” in Afghanistan, but rather that we should rethink where (emphasis mine) to put our feet……Understanding this principle is vital, because if we misinterpret the nature of the “footprint” problem we might come to the erroneous conclusion that success requires fewer forces rather than more—or, as some senior leaders are increasingly suggesting, that our presence is the problem.” (Frederick W. Kagan, “Planning Victory in Afghanistan )

Alternative viewpoints can be invaluable. Alternative viewpoints conceived our American democracy. Such viewpoints engender conflict, struggle and ultimately require compromise in policy, as was with our Constitution. These are good things.

ooo

This will probably be my last post on Afghanistan (for awhile, at least). (I hope I’m not hearing cheers out there!) Anyway…in my recent readings & writings, I’ve noticed similarities and/or parallels of sorts, between the above-quoted Frederick Kagan’s viewpoints, and ensuing AfPak developments. My intent with this post is to point them out.

ooo

“Afghanistan is not now a sanctuary for al-Qaeda, but it would likely become one again if we abandoned it.”

” Allowing Afghanistan to fail would mean allowing these determined enemies of the United States to regain the freedom they had before 9/11.”

I continue to be completely unable to comprehend how so many Americans appear to not get this, as dwindling support for our military presence here would seem to suggest. With sharpened Taliban fighting skills leading to greater Taliban control (Bad News, Pt.1) of this critical area, it should be obvious that insurgency dominance is equivalent to a wide open door for al-Qaeda. “Birds of a feather…”, right? Though all indications evidence al-Qaeda & its key leaders to be primarily Pakistani-based, as well as the removed head of the Taliban government, from these havens contacts are maintained between the two organizations, and insurgent activity is supported in both southern & eastern Afghanistan. Give up Afghanistan, and you’re giving bin Laden free reign. Do that, and America will be looking at a disaster scenario far worse than 9/11.

At the time Mr. Kagan wrote this article (2/09), I don’t recall just how committed the U.S. was to success in Afghanistan. Apparently not enough, though –The Pakistani leadership appears convinced that America will abandon its efforts in South Asia sooner rather than later…”, resulting in continued Pakistani support for the Afghan Taliban operating in their territory. Such support ensures a certain level of control over the insurgents, which is desirable for the Pakistanis, especially if they are unsure of American reliability in this endeavour. Until it is widely believed that the U.S. will remain in the fight until the insurgency is defeated, doubt about our commitment will continue to fuel the insurgency.” Locally, the Afghanistan populace, fearing Taliban retaliation, may hesitate to commit to us if they doubt our commitment to them. Kagan concludes that “we must make it clear that we will do what it takes to win” in order to gain the trust and cooperation of the people of both countries.

Based on previous patterns of American retreat/abandonment in Middle East crises/attacks, from 1983 through 1992, Kagan also theorizes that, by duking it out in Afghanistan, a ‘changed…global perception’ of American fortitude would vastly improve our own security, homeland and abroad.

(All quotes are from F.W. Kagan’s article “Planning Victory in Afghanistan”)

ooo

I have a number of points yet to make here, and hope to publish another post or two in this vein of thought, before finishing up with AfPak subject matter. However, this may take awhile. For over a year I have been struggling in situations that have become, finally, intolerable, remaining in them for several reasons, one of which was to continue with ‘God, History and You’. I can no longer do this. GH&Y is not shutting down, but it is necessary to let it go a bit, for a season, while I attend to other matters. Posting will be sporadic, if that…! (although that’s nothing new, really, is it?!) I may be off the radar for a time. Hopefully, once issues are settled, I’ll have a renewed focus.

The Bad News is… (Part 1)

“The point is that the Taliban, who have had a very clear aim and means from the very beginning, have been able slowly and steadily to get better at what they’re doing.” (Washington Post)

This remark was recently made by an unnamed European official, whose country’s armed forces are combating the Taliban alongside U.S. troops. Concurring with this statement, top U.S. commander in the AfPak arena General Stanley McChrystal evaluates the situation as ‘serious’. The Taliban are fighting smarter.

They have shifted their focus of attack to small bases and checkpoints, manned by Afghan forces, isolated and easy to infiltrate, thus obtaining intelligence. Gone are the more large-scale confrontations with American troops, from several years ago, which resulted in large numbers of insurgent fatalities. And the confrontations themselves are more sophisticated in method, observed to be similar in style to U.S. Army Rangers training, which equips soldiers for small scale engagements in ‘austere’ surroundings. They are considered by one U.S Army general to be developing into a more ‘disciplined force’.

Among their newly acquired skills – being able to estimate response times for U.S. fighter jets, helicopters, and artillery cannons. “They know exactly how long it takes before . . . they have to break contact and pull back,” one Pentagon official said. Sounds like split-second timing in a hair trigger situation… Using our own tactics against us, the Taliban is taking full advantage of the recent restraint (for the purpose of protecting Afghan civilians) ordered on the use of U.S. air power and also night-time attacks. They have increased their night-time operations, and apparently feel much safer gathering in more populated locales now, perhaps blending in like chameleons, knowing air strikes are much less likely to occur.

Not only has the Taliban fighting style evolved, their geographical areas of control have expanded as well, providing the insurgency with more training ground, and that ground being closer to the actual combat. It has been considered, as well, that the services of professional fighters from Central Asia & other Arab countries are being used.

Opinions differ, though, as to the reason(s) for Taliban ascendancy in the area. The deputy commander of Marines in the Helmand province believes that increased usage of roadside bombs plays more a part in insurgent victories than tactics of any other sort. Playing to their strengths… And the effects of corruption in public office, ethnic tensions, unemployment and the absence of state justice systems in rural regions are strong contributing factors to increased Taliban control, creating unrest & dissatisfaction to which the extremists can offer “solutions’. In neighboring Pakistan, “there is widespread hope that adopting a strict code of law based on the Koran will transform a society where corruption is rampant.” (link) The Islamic militants offer a ‘Robin Hood’ approach, according to Amnesty International, even gaining trust at first, and initially seem to be defending the weak & poor, but that defense soon becomes ‘quick…harsh justice’, and with the ‘defending’ comes increased Taliban dominance.

Possibly more potent to Taliban victory than any sharpened skill or evolved strategy, however, is the simple fact of morale. Said one senior official, “The number one indicator we have out there now is that they think they’re winning (italics mine). That creates an attitude, a positive outlook, and a willingness to sacrifice.”

ooo

Sooo….as I was reading my source article, and writing the above, the following statements from my post “Afghanistan – a New Approach?” came to mind.

“…an intensified military effort to root out corruption among local government officials…” is a large part of its aim…

“…considers corruption at local government levels to be as much a threat to Afghan peace and freedom as any top Taliban commander.” (Seeing as how corruption in government has been cited as a prime factor in the Taliban gaining influence, the wisdom of the goal to uproot it is readily apparent.)
“Strong emphasis is being placed on partnership, Afghan and U.S/NATO troops living, training and carrying out missions together, throughout every level of rank.” (Akin to fighting fire with fire, this tactic of partnering mirrors the Taliban working in tandem with ‘professional fighters’ from other countries)

ooo

So we’re seeing, then, some better news here. Seems to me that McChrystal is right on the money in his strategic assessments & plans. I know he’s got my vote.

ooo

In Part 2, a little more along these same lines. Then, I’m hopping the time capsule back to the days of our Founders to see what’s going on…lately I swear I’m hearing Jefferson quietly reminding me I’ve left him in the dust, I just got a rather antiquated-looking letter from a John Adams, & Ben Franklin actually somehow faxed me! I must get back to my true loves, the Founders! They are calling!

Soldier in Transition

‘Support our Troops’…’Honor our Fallen Heroes’…’Thank a Veteran’…these phrases speak for themselves. Instinctively, in our hearts and in our guts, we feel pangs of pride, of sadness or anguish, of gratitude for sacrifices made in the cause of freedom. But unless we have been there, we really cannot know…

I have had the inestimable honor of working with an Afghan/Iraqi war vet these last few months. Words cannot adequately describe my response to being in this young man’s presence. I have felt that I have been visited from on High, that God has graced me with a word in the flesh, the very topic about which I ‘ve often written, alive, in my space. Often, I’ve felt stupid, not knowing what to say, or how to help.

I went against my better judgment, and asked this young soldier if I could interview him at some point, because I wanted to know, first-hand, how a soldier felt about this war. We all sit over here and expound on this & that, we bloggers, sounding off in posts, forums, etc., but how do they feel? What are a soldier’s thoughts on the kind of brutal experiences that most of us will never know?

The red flag that was gently waving in the back of my mind, warning me that it might be too soon for Ethan (not his real name) to re-live combat events by speaking of them, proved accurate. Ethan still had trouble sleeping, though he’d been home over a year. He is still trying to fully recover. I backed off, and promised not to mention my request again. And I haven’t. But in some of our conversations, I learned bits & pieces about this soldier’s life now, and then. I don’t feel that I should go into details, but what I want to convey is that, when one of our warriors comes home from the Middle East theatre of war, it isn’t that fairytale, balloons-and-parade-with-flag flying! and now everything is OK! that we might mistakenly think. These men and women are forever changed.

As a civilian, I was most certainly deluded. But watching and working with one of our nation’s heroes has opened my eyes. You don’t just ease back into society after fighting jihadists, or having your vehicle blown up by a roadside bomb. You carry it with you, and it can take a long time to regain at least some of your former mentality. On top of that, most people around you are clueless. Nobody gets it. The only reason I got any of ‘it’ is because God had been at work, expanding my awareness, so that every time I see Ethan, or speak with him, I’m so affected that I feel like a fish out of water. I am humbled, speechless, and, like I said, I feel stupid.

Ethan is returning to Afghanistan. Though he served three years already, he will return for at least six more, and may opt for a military career. A soldier is who he is, it seems to me, not what he’s done.

I will miss him.

Afghanistan – a New Approach?

“And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees…” (Luke 3:9. KJV)

We continue in our seemingly endless battle against the Taliban in Afghanistan, a force that at present is reported to be gaining ground, a “growing…insurgency” in that area. (I am reminded, as I write, of the Biblical account of Jacob wrestling with the angel of the Lord, ’til the dawning of a new day, and how he would not let go until he got the blessing. Not to compare the Taliban with the angel of the Lord, rather to emphasize persistence unto victory. A new day dawning…)

Last month, the top U.S. commander in this particular theatre of war, General McKiernan, was replaced by General Stanley A. McChrystal, who has espoused a different approach to dealing with the insurgents. Rather than a primarily outward thrust, with the intention of locating, uprooting & capturing Taliban forces from their mountainous strongholds, U.S. and NATO troops would focus more on protecting the more populous locales from enemy invasion. McChrystal’s strategy is now becoming even more defined and specific, and will be requiring more troops, both U.S/NATO and Afghan.

As a person who almost can’t help but analyze, war–time strategy has begun to intrigue me. This particular strategy appears solid, to me. With a dose of genius. “…an intensified military effort to root out corruption among local government officials…” is a large part of its aim, and calls for “more unconventional methods” in its implementation. A strategy assessment team, comprised of expert advisers and national security specialists from Washington ‘think tanks’, considers corruption at local government levels to be as much a threat to Afghan peace and freedom as any top Taliban commander. Consequently, as stated above, US/NATO involvement in exposing and removing such elements is also to be a prominent aspect of General McChrystal’s plan. A writer on FiscalRangers.com, a site dealing with the corruption issue in Iraq and the rest of the world as well, VJtraveler says, “I have reported several times about the lack of serious actions by the State Dept or other donors in fixing fraud and corruption problems before dumping lots of money into “developing or conflict” countries.” VJ cites diplomacy not being used “to ensure corruption cases are actually prosecuted, which is a major deterrent.”

Falling in line with McChrystal’s ‘inward rather than outward’ push, “commanders will be encouraged to increase contact with Afghans”, actually living inside the towns, and spending more time on foot patrols, as opposed to in heavily armored vehicles. Climbing out of their trucks and interacting with the locals puts our soldiers in more of a position to identify the tribal “power brokers” and connect with them, influencing policies and decisions. Strong emphasis is being placed on partnership, Afghan and U.S/NATO troops living, training and carrying out missions together, throughout every level of rank.

A less than enthusiastic response is expected from the Obama administration regarding the increased troops request.

ooo

I particularly like the idea of getting to the root of corruption in the local and/or otherwise Afghan government. In the Scripture cited above, I see the concept of ‘rooting out the truth’. The ‘axe’, I believe, represents the Word of God, the One who also identifies Himself as the Way, the Truth, & the Life. I’ve always understood that verse to be an illustration of the truth of God’s Word being applied to any school of thought, teaching, process, practice, etc – you name it! and exposing fallacy & falsehood, that which deceives, corrupts and eventually kills, should it get that far.
Having checked out a little bit of FiscalRangers.com, it is becoming clear to me that the pursuit of corrupt government officials & practices is far more essential to peace than had ever occurred to me before. Knowing this now, it seems that it should have! Benjamin Franklin, in expressing his concern over America’s possible return to monarchy, declared that such an event could at least be long delayed. His solution? Not making “our posts of honor places of profit”, thereby sowing “seeds of contention, faction, and tumult.” (A.H. Smythe, ed., The Writings of Benjamin Franklin).
That old love-of-money problem is always rearing its ugly head, isn’t it? Many will do whatever it takes to satisfy their lust for it, at the reckless expense of every and anyone else’s well-being, welfare, safety and/or liberty. I applaud this new strategy being considered, and am excited about the possibilities inherent in its successful operation.
ooo

An afterthought – Regarding the partnering of our Troops with the Afghanistan soldiers, I was reminded of the Greek word ‘parakletos’, which is translated into the English word ‘Comforter’, in the New Testament, and refers to the Holy Ghost. Breaking this word down into its separate components, ‘para’ (Strong’s #3844, Greek) and ‘kletos’ (Strong’s #2822,Greek), rather than just the idea of comfort or consolation, the concept of being near, beside, and/or in one’s area is also presented. Or, in today’s lingo, “getting in one’s space”!

And I’m also reminded of the Saviour, who came to where we were and became what we were so that we could, by degrees and over time, become what He is, so that our ‘station in life’ (this one, and the next!) could be vastly improved.