President Trump: Afghanistan is your easiest task — GET OUT

In recent days, there have been a number of straws in the wind claiming that the Trump administration is pondering whether to reinforce America’s utter defeat in Afghanistan by sending more U.S. troops there. The media report, for example, that the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, General John Nicholson, has asked for more ground troops, almost certainly for use in the now out-of-control southern Afghan provinces of Kandahar and Helmand. This kind of media report is generally the prelude to an official announcement that more troops will be sent. If sent, the reason for more troops will be something akin to “the general in charge on the ground in Afghanistan knows best, and we must support him to finish the job after all the war has cost America in blood and treasure.”

This justification neatly ignores the fact that each U.S. commander in Afghanistan has asked for more troops and got them; that each has been followed by a successor who has asked for more troops and got them; and that all U.S. commanders there have been whipped, largely because of their personal arrogance and near-complete ignorance of Afghanistan, its people, and their history. The answer to this most recent request, 16 years into a war that should have been a 2-year punitive expedition, should be (a) no more troops, and (b) pack up all U.S. troops and equipment and come home.

Winning in Afghanistan takes only three steps. The first is an invasion that occupies the country. The second is the annihilation of any one who opposes the occupation, as well as all of those who remotely support that resistance. The third is to permanently occupy Afghanistan because the children of those you have killed will grow up and fight to kill you. In short, there is now way to win in Afghanistan unless you are ready to take on a bloody, dictatorial, and bankrupting permanent stay. The Afghans’ definition of freedom — which they ardently desire — is a simple one: Islam and no foreigners. Those two points also encapsulate Afghan war aims.

This is not one man’s opinion. It is irrefutable historical fact, which is easily available to anyone who can buy a few books from Amazon or borrow them from the library. Indeed, contemporary Afghanistan is the most important example of two facts that elude the U.S. governing elite: (a) human nature never changes and, because of that fact, (b) history always repeats itself. Had Afghanistan’s history been read by all the bright boys who command our military and run our government, we would not be in Afghanistan today and, apparently, ready to blithely worsen the long-ago-determined U.S. military defeat and national humiliation there.

I have appended below a talk I prepared and delivered in 2009. At that time, I had been giving talks, interviews, and briefings to the media, U.S. officials, and public groups which were based on the books mentioned above, and on my own experience of having worked at CIA on Afghanistan, in one way or another, from 1986 to late 2004. I had little luck convincing those to whom I spoke that the U.S. approach in Afghanistan was a loser from the start, and so I thought I would give a talk in which I would let others who had fought wars in Afghanistan speak for themselves. That is the paper that follows. It is a lengthy piece, but even a cursory review of it will give readers a sense that the only possible answer to the U.S. problem in Afghanistan is an immediate and complete evacuation.


Campaigning in Kandahar:  The experiences of occupying armies in the 1880s and 1980s

NATO is not, of course, the first uninvited foreign military force to occupy and then fight in Kandahar and the provinces adjacent to it.  Since Alexander the Great, Persians, Mongols, Moghuls, British, and Soviet armies have conducted campaigns and occupied the Kandahar region.  Thus, the area has a rich history of foreign interventions, and those interventions have, almost without exception, ended poorly for the interventionists.

Given this reality, I was surprised to read the following paragraph in a book review published in the July, 2009, issue of the Journal of Military History.  The book being reviewed dealt with British general Lord Robert’s march from Kabul to Kandahar in 1880, and the reviewer was a British officer attending the UK’s Joint Services Command and Staff College.  The paragraph that caught my eye reads as follows:

“The sleeve notes to this overview of General Frederick Roberts’ role during the 2nd Afghan War of 1878-1880 rather ill-advisedly state that readers might seek to draw parallels between the British Army in Afghanistan then and now.  To anyone familiar with events in late nineteenth century Afghanistan, that period … serves little purpose in any serious analysis of current operations and as such any crude comparisons are probably best left to one side.”

On reading this paragraph, my first thought was that the nearly always fatal “history has-nothing-to-teach-us virus” had jumped the Atlantic from Washington and infected the British Isles.  On reflection, though, I decided to use this talk to look at two previous campaigns in the Kandahar region – that of Great Britain in the 2nd Afghan War (1878-1880) and that of the Soviet Union from 1979 to 1989.  I will leave it up to the audience to decide if history can helpful in understanding the campaign NATO is now waging in southern Afghanistan, or if, as our colleague at Britain’s Joint Services Command and Staff College contends, history should be “best left to one side” when doing “serious analysis” of the southern Afghan theater.

The Second Afghan War, 1878-1980

Britain’s goals in starting the Afghan War were two-fold.  First, to exact retribution for the Afghan regime’s breaking of the Treaty of Gandamak.  The Afghan Amir broke the treaty by standing to one side and allowing the British diplomatic mission in Kabul – which had been sanctioned by the treaty – to be killed to a man. Its second goal was to create in Afghanistan a viable buffer state between British India and what London saw as the expansionist empire of the Czars.

London sent an army of 45,000 British and Indian troops into Afghanistan; the great bulk of the force going to the eastern provinces en route to capturing Kabul, while the remainder – a division of two infantry brigades, a cavalry brigade, and three artillery batteries that had been based around Bombay – was sent to occupy Kandahar and from there control the south.

There is an exceedingly useful library of memoirs, diaries, and contemporary histories written by various officers and men of the British occupation force in Kandahar, and what follows is a review of what those writers encountered on ten issues that would be of concern to any occupying military force.  I have posed these issues in the forms of questions.

–1.) How easy is it for a foreign occupation force to move around the region? 

From the Quetta region all the way to Qandahar, British generals found the countryside virtually without roads and had to use their engineers and pioneer battalions to build tracks for the army.  Our wagons can be run from Quetta to Chaman to Kandahar, a British officer wrote, “[but] it must not be supposed that the road is of the appearance or quality that the people at home would call a road, as all that has been aimed at is to make a track clear from stones or serious inequalities along which carts can go.”

And once in garrison in Kandahar city, the British found that movement and transportation became even more difficult.  “In this country,” a senior officer wrote, “from one end of it to another, there is no such thing as we would call a road.” And yet, the British found that their Afghan enemies seemed to have no problem moving.  “Only those who have fought against them,” a British officer wrote home, “can really understand how swift they are in their movements.”

The British also found that the mere fact of their presence made “the country between Quetta and Kandahar more or less disturbed, and the tribes along the route are not friendly,” and so no travel could be undertaken alone or unarmed.  Indeed, so hostile was the surrounding territory that British units “were very often fired upon … from fortified villages,” and so a force of “cavalry, artillery, and infantry” was regularly marched “through all the disaffected districts” to impress them with British power.  At times, one horse artillery gunner wrote, we were fired upon by “the native women … on the flat roofs of their houses.”  All told, an officer wrote, “Afghanistan is not a country for nervous travelers.”

Inside the city of Kandahar and other cities in the south, the British also found that they could not travel alone or unarmed.  “We cannot here wander about and go into the shops and ransack them for curiosities,” a senior British officer reported, “as the people have a nasty trick of watching until a person is busy looking at things in a shop, and then coming up quietly and stabbing one in the back.” “All officers,” he concluded, “carry loaded revolvers…. The soldiers have to carry their rifles and when they go into town they have to fix their bayonets … [and even for Sunday services] the men come with their rifles, and everyone is fully armed, ready for business at a moment’s notice … altogether we live in a regular state of siege.  ” 

–2.) What does the country have or make in the way of military and subsistence supplies?

The answer the British quickly found out was virtually nothing.  Clothing, horses, livestock for food, ammunition, fodder ordnance, grain, wagons, horses, wood for burning or building, and a host of other essentials had to be brought in from India or even further away.  Just before entering the Bolan Pass for transit to Afghanistan, one officer wrote, “there are enormous depots of commissariat stores, provision, and clothing both for native and English troops, all of which had to be transported great distances, especially the grain and clothing. As most of the former comes from Bombay, and nearly all of the latter from England…. Thousands of pounds of grain are used daily to feed the transport animals who are in the thousands … and as there is little or no [excess] cultivation in Afghanistan, some idea may be formed of the arrangements, the labor, and the expense which are required to keep this one matter of the forage supply in working order.”  These depots also required detachments from the main body’s combat units to guard the indispensable supplies.

Another officer, reflecting on his previous deployments in European wars, got to the heart of the matter. “Armies fighting in Europe,” he wrote, “can expect to draw a good portion of their supplies from the country in which they are operating, but the fact that virtually nothing required by European troops, and very few of the articles requited by native soldiers are to be got in Afghanistan, renders a war such as that we are now engaged in, a fearfully difficult and expensive matter.”

The most important exception to this general rule of scarcity and non-productivity, according to a journalist accompanying the British army, was “the imitative skill of native artificers … [who are] skillful enough to turn out in large numbers very fair rifled-small arms, which they copied from British models … and [millions of] admirable cartridges.”

–3.) Can lines of communication be secured?

Once across the Indian border into Afghanistan and settled in Kandahar, British officers found that it was a full-time and manpower-intensive operation to keep open the division’s line of communication to Chaman and Quetta.  Villages, hills, dry river beds, and fields of boulders, a cavalryman wrote, “offer extraordinary facilities for the enemy to resist our advance.” A leading journalist accompanying the army in Kandahar maintained that lines of communication could not be made reliably secure. “When a column marched out,” he wrote in a history of the campaign, “British power was dominant only within the area of its fire zone.  The stretch of road it vacated as it moved on ceased to be territory over which the British held dominion. … Our power now extends just as far as our rifles can shoot.”

–4.) Can reliable human intelligence be collected?

The British field force found that they could not rely to any significant degree on the Afghans they recruited to spy for them. “Our intelligence department has such bad tools to work with, that scarcely any information proves correct,” a British infantry officer explained, “for an Afghan is more adept at fabrication than any other Asiatic. We cannot trust them….”  The British could also seldom find an Afghan who would tell them anything about anti-British fighters who had just passed through their village. After a cavalry patrol had been fired on from a village outside Qandahar, one trooper wrote in his diary that, “all [the people in that and] surrounding villages absolutely denied any complicity in [or knowledge] of the affair.”  Overall the British found that they could not compete with their enemy’s intelligence collection. “There are so many channels by which information may leak out” of British-held Kandahar, a British cavalrymen wrote, “that the army’s operations were constantly endangered by information passed to the enemy by Afghans who were profiting from and well-treated by the occupying force.”

As result, the British garrison in Kandahar had to maintain a program of constant reconnaissance patrolling so as to have any idea of developments in the region.  They paid particular attention to the Arghandab Valley north of Kandahar, which emerged as a site that the Afghans used for meeting, planning, staging operations, and storing weaponry. This patrolling tied up and exhausted the garrison’s limited cavalry assets, and obviously provided no information about what hostile Afghan leaders were thinking and planning.  As an infantry officer recalled in his memoirs, all we had about the enemy’s intentions was “conjecture”; “defective information”; and “all sorts of rumors.”

–5.) Does the weather impact military operations?

The British found that the weather in the Kandahar region was debilitating and often impacted the start and duration of military operations.  A transport officer wrote that he and his men often had to retire to tents well before noon because the temperature often “stood at 120 degrees … a heat which is required to be felt to be understood, as the entire absence of air, except now and then a hot blast, as if out of a furnace, made it most oppressive.”

After patrolling around Kandahar, a cavalrymen wrote in his diary that “everything is gritty with clouds of dust that are flying about; the flies, which are in [the] millions, I should say, are gifted with a pertinacity which is quite marvelous, and insist on settling on your nose, or in your eyes or ears … the air is unpleasantly harsh, and our lips and skin are suffering accordingly.  [B]ut even the wind and dust are preferable to the suffocation of no wind at all.” Added to this normal condition, another cavalryman wrote, are frequent dust-storms that blow up unexpectedly and delay the start of operations or force them to be curtailed. The storms, he wrote, “are, of all things, the most horrid and the greatest trial to one’s temper. Imagine the delight of an immense cloud of dust a mile square, or more, driven by a red hot wind, and forcing its way into every hole and corner. While it is passing it is quite dark, even in mid day, … breathing and keeping one’s eyes open is almost impossible … and when it is gone, one’s hair and beard [have] turned into a whitey brown color, and stiff with dirt.”

The weather’s negative impact was multiplied by the fact that the British found the Kandahar region a “dry and thirsty” land of “bad and scanty water”; one officer, stationed at an outpost near the city whose name in Pashtu meant “bitter waters,” wrote in his diary that “most richly [did] the place earn its name, as more disgusting water I never tasted.” The British also found that large combined arms operations moving westward from Qandahar toward Herat were likewise handicapped because “very little water [was] to be found along the way [from Gereshk to Herat] once the Valley of the Helmand [river] is left.”  Thereafter, he wrote, the force would be moving “through dry uncultivated country, and there would not have been sufficient water at all halting places for the combined infantry and cavalry brigades.”

–6.) What are the true attitudes of local citizens toward the occupying force?

There was a stark division of opinion between British political and military officers on the ability of foreigners to discern the true attitudes of the local Afghans toward them.  The political operatives told their military colleagues that the locals welcomed a civilized form of governmental administration. Most soldiers did not buy the assertion. “The [British] civil authorities of course say that the [Afghan] people like our administration,” a senior infantry officer wrote in his diary, “but I confess I doubt it, as they are a very independent lot, and prefer, I think, injustice and oppression from their own people than justice and order after an English pattern.”

British soldiers also quickly learned not to mistake the cordial hospitality with which they were often greeted by Afghans for genuine friendship or tolerance for the foreign presence.  “Several of the other chiefs came in to make their salaam to me, and to promise all sorts of things for the future,” a brigade commander wrote in his diary. “An Afghan is, however, so natural a liar that no one thinks of believing them, and among themselves they are never weak enough to put any trust in the other, and in this they are quite wise, as a more treacherous lying set of beings do not, I suppose, exist on the face of the earth.” The British came to believe that any sign of weakness on their part – even if made for humanitarian reasons – would be treated with contempt by the Afghans.  “I would never take a retrograde step, except under the strongest compulsion,” wrote a senior officer who was later killed in battle, “as Afghans know nothing, and care less, about the laws of strategy, and see defeat in any but forward movements.”

–7.) Can local civilians be won over by mild treatment and money?

The British found that most civilians bent in the direction the wind was blowing, but were always looking for signs of weakness among the foreigners and were always ready to believe as “quite true” any negative rumors about British actions.  Most officers concluded that an attack on themselves or their soldiers should be punished immediate and severely, but they were often prevented from doing so by British political officers who worried about offending the locals, arguing that the risk soldiers’ saw was “imaginary,” and they too often “prevailed [with] a hundred good reasons … for doing nothing.” Very often a British failure to punish attackers pushed local civilians into the camp of anti-British Afghans, leading one officer to write that “we throw away our only chance” to deter the locals “by deferring till today what we should have done yesterday.” The British also quickly concluded that they would get no help from the Afghans who were willing to work with them.  From the governor on down, a brigade commander wrote, Afghans working with the British are “quite without power or influence, and quite unable to maintain their own authority for a day without our assistance.”

Once established in their cantonment at Kandahar city, the British general commanding and his political advisers again decided to appease the feelings of the civilian population at the expense of their force’s security.  A brigade commander argued strenuously that the civilian houses and commercial buildings bordering the cantonment had to be torn down to “make the citadel safer and [to be] more in accordance with the rules of war.”  This officer wrote in his diary that he had told the commanding general that, as it stood, the cantonment “is radically bad in a military point of view, and surrounded by houses on three sides.  Strictly speaking these houses should have been knocked down for at least 300 yards all round the wall of the citadel, but [the commanding general] appears to have set his face against any military precautions, insisting they were quite unnecessary ‘as the people are all friendly toward us.’”  The brigade commander, incidentally, was killed with dozens of his men shortly after writing this diary entry while leading a charge meant to clear houses 200 yards from the cantonment which were then full of those “friendly toward us” who were firing rifles and cannon into the cantonment.  The commander’s adjutant later wrote that the deaths resulted from the commanding general’s desire “to conciliate the [local] people … and because he wanted to save the expense of pulling the buildings down.”

British attempts to limit civilian casualties also seemed to win little loyalty.  A deputy garrison commander remembered that he established rules whereby soldiers were not allowed to carry loaded weapons or immediately fire at their attackers.  “In such cases,” he wrote, “[the men were] to use their bayonets first, and then if pressed the might open ammunition and use it.”  The officer found that there was no net gain in improving public attitudes toward the British as a result of risking soldiers’ lives to protect civilians.

The wealth British forces brought to Kandahar likewise bought no loyalty from the locals.  “The people here must be making fortunes, and certainly ought to like us,” recorded one officer exasperated by the stand-offish and uncooperative civilians, “as we pay anything they ask for everything, and the prices, although not very exorbitant, are at least double what they use to be.” The bottom line, a British war correspondent wrote in 1879, is that “they will pocket our rupees and thrive on us as long as we remain; and the instant we take our departure, their arms now hidden” will be used against us.

For Britain’s Kandahar garrison, in the summer of 1880, no measure taken conciliated the populace, let alone won their affection, and so the senior officers looked for “an opportunity of administering a lesson to someone.” At day’s end, a senior officer wrote, the city’s “inhabitants had to be kept overawed” by soldiers authorized to preempt any threat they perceived. In addition, senior military officers overcame the objections of the commanding general’s political advisers and began “to disarm every Afghan approaching Kandahar,” and they also expelled 12,000 Pashtuns from inside the walls of Kandahar city. “The Pathans were our enemies, to a man, and their presence in the city our deadliest danger,” a brigade commander noted, “and it seemed to me quite useless to fortify our position or take measures against the enemy without, if we willfully permitted a base and treacherous foe to remain within our walls.”

–8.) Are our Afghan allies dependable?

When the British, in July, 1880, advanced westward from Kandahar toward the Helmand valley to confront advancing anti-British Afghans, the force included 2,500 British and Indian army soldiers and about 3,000 Afghan troops loyal to the Wali, or governor, of Kandahar.  Shortly after force stopped on the Kandahar side of the Helmand river, “the whole of the Wali’s army was mutinous” and joined the enemy, taking with them and using, a senior officer commented, “the battery of guns our government had been so idiotic to give them … and the first time it was used was to fire on us.”  The combined force of anti-British Afghans and Britain’s former Afghan allies attacked the British expedition and killed more than one thousand of the 2,500-man force.

–9.) How many people are armed?

Across the Kandahar region the British found a warrior-like people.  “[I]n this country,” one of the brigade commanders wrote his wife, “every man’s hand is against his neighbor’s, and everyone goes armed and prepared for treachery and violence. The people are a distinctly war like race, and fight bitterly amongst themselves.”  One officer recorded that during his time in Kandahar an armed man was the most “usual sight in this country,” and another quite simply concluded that Afghanistan was the world’s best example of “a nation in arms.”

–10.)  How much does Islam play a role in local attitudes toward foreigners?

The British expected to and did find that Islam was a pervasive presence in the Kandahar region. They found, however, that most of population was not open or aggressive in expressing their religious contempt for the foreigners’ presence in their country. “Unlike most Mahomedan cities,” an infantry officer wrote, “no domes or minarets of mosques were visible [in Kandahar], and I believe there was only one mosque of any importance, and it would hardly be noticed in any Mahomedan town in India.” There was, however, a certain number of fanatical Muslims called “Ghazis” who were readily willing to sacrifice their life in exchange for trying to kill a foreigner, and were quietly regarded as heroes by much of the population. “I am bound to say,” an officer wrote after taking a wounded Ghazi away from his men who were about to kill him, “[that] he was not a bit grateful but regularly spit at us and defied us.”  The officer noted that when the captive was later executed for the attack “he accepted his fate with the most perfect coolness and indifference.”

The British also discovered that their lack of reliable intelligence blinded them to the fact that religious leaders were perfectly capable of working patiently and clandestinely to spur a jihad against them.  The clerics, a historian of the Kandahar campaign has written, “went to and fro among the tribes proclaiming the sacred duty of jihad … against unbelieving invaders, stimulating the pious passions of the followers of the Prophet … [and] enjoining chiefs to merge their intestine strifes in the common universal effort to crush the foreign invaders of the Afghan soil.”

Overall, the British believed that while Kandahar’s Pashtuns may occasionally think it useful “to make nominal submission [to foreigners] with tongue in cheek” – especially at moments when they confront overwhelming military power — that they will break out into violence again “whenever an opportunity of temptation presents itself.”  The bottom line, a British general officer concluded, was that whether or not they were open and warlike in their defense of Islam, Pashtuns “have an intuitive aptitude for irregular fighting,” that they are both Muslims and nationalists, and that all are “very bitter against foreigners or infidels, and are our irreconcilable enemies.”


The Soviet-Afghan War, 1979-1989

Like the British invasion and occupation of Afghanistan, the Soviet invasion and occupation was intended as retribution and to improve the USSR’s strategic defensive position. Moscow intended to militarily remove an Afghan regime that had overthrown and murdered its protégé in Kabul, and to reestablish a reliable Afghan regime that would provide a buffer between the southern Soviet border and the growing Islamism of the Muslim world. The Soviet occupation of Afghanistan has so far produced nothing like the corpus of literature produced by the British military officers and men who served in Kandahar.  This may change over time, but for now a cursory review of a wide range of writing – including the Red Army’s after-action report, Western analyses, books and recollections by a few Soviet soldiers and the Afghan mujahedin, and journalism – suggest that the answers the British provided to the questions asked above are not unlike those that the Soviets would provide.  For the sake of brevity, I have combined several of the questions that were posed above as individual queries.

–1.) How easy is it to move around and can lines of communication be secured?

Compared to the British, it was much easier for the Soviets to conduct military operations in both Kandahar and the provinces to the west because they had no restrictions on the amount of force they could use to achieve their goals. When the Red Army moved, artillery, tanks, and air power were used to whatever extent was necessary to complete the mission. Still, what was said above by a British officer – that Britain’s control over any route in southern Afghanistan lasted only as long as its military physically controlled the area – is equally true regarding the Red Army, even though it had air power, reconnaissance aircraft, and overhead satellites at its disposal. The road from Kushka, inside the USSR, to Herat, eastward through, Shindand, Farah, Delaram, Lahkar Gah, and Gereshk, to Kandahar was never reliably secure even once in the decade-long Soviet occupation. The same is true for the stretch of road from Kandahar eastward to Moqur and then to Ghazni. As a result, the Red Army in southern Afghanistan often lived hand-to-mouth and at times faced shortages of food, fuel and lubricants, and ammunition. Indeed, it can be credibly argued that the whole story of the Soviet occupation of Kandahar and the Afghan south is one of trying to keep Soviet and Afghan forces supplied and functional; keeping those forces supplied was the USSR’s only success in the region. Even though the USSR abutted Afghanistan and therefore provided adjacent safe haven, and the Red Army devoted far more manpower to logistical operations than it had fighting on the ground in Afghanistan, reliable re-supply was never a sure thing.

In terms of movements by small groups or individuals, the Soviets were stymied.  Given their status as invaders, atheists, and indiscriminate killers of Afghan civilians, single Soviets or small groups of them were more often than not either killed or captured, and if the latter usually hacked to pieces. Unless involved in military operations, the only safety for Soviet military or civilian personnel was to be found in their well-fortified bases and airfields. A recently published study, based on the reminiscences of Soviet officers who served in Afghanistan, concluded that because of the area’s insecurity “most Soviet officers tried to avoid duty in Kandahar.”

An appropriate coda to this review of the Red Army’s inability to keep lines of communication open can be found in the story of the Red Army’s Kandahar-based 70th Motorized Rifle Brigade’s attempt to withdraw from Afghanistan in 1988.  With a full application of Soviet military power to ensure that the Red Army’s withdrawal would come off without further humiliation or disaster, the 70th Motorized Rifle Brigade’s withdrawal was twice halted by the mujahedin south of Heart and the brigade was forced to return to Kandahar.  Only on the third attempt – after five weeks of effort – did the brigade reach and cross the Soviet border.

–2.) What does the country have and make in the way of military and subsistence, supplies, and how many people are armed?

A century after the British occupation, the Soviets encountered a country that produced agricultural products at mainly subsistence levels and manufactured virtually nothing. The Red Army also encountered a mujahedin force that was well served by native artificers, but the role of those men was less important than in the 1880s because of the flood of arms and ammunition being delivered to the insurgents via Pakistan by the United States and Saudi Arabia. And if the British found Afghanistan to be a nation in arms in 1880, the Soviets found an even better armed populace in 1980.

–3.) Can reliable human intelligence be collected?

There is no indication that the Soviets ever succeeded where the British had failed in acquiring reliable and timely intelligence from local Afghan sources.  Indeed, the fact that the supply route from the USSR-to-Kandahar – which traverses fairly flat and open terrain — could never be kept reliably open despite the Soviets’ complete air superiority and their nearly complete preponderance in armor and artillery, strongly suggests that accurate human intelligence on the insurgents plans, intentions, and movements was largely lacking.

–4.) Does the weather impact military operations?

The weather probably impacted the Red Army more than the British, given Soviet dependence on overhead imagery, air power, and sophisticated tools of war that were hampered or rendered inoperable by extreme temperatures and an arid, sandy, and windy environment.

–5.) What are the true attitudes of the local citizens, and can local civilians be won over by mild treatment and money?

This is a hard question to answer as the Soviets never seemed to care about “hearts and minds.” They consistently demonstrated a deeply racist attitude toward non-communist Afghans during their occupation. They had no qualms, for example, about trying to cow the population by the indiscriminate slaughter of men, women, and children; the intentional destruction of intricate irrigation systems build over centuries; or about the deliberate 1987 leveling of large sections of the cities of Heart and Kandahar to provide free-fire zones for Red Army gunners. Overall, the Red Army’s modus operandi toward civilians made the 1880s British occupation appear to have been conducted at the hands of a direct, and just as saintly, predecessor of Mother Theresa.

–6.) Are our Afghan allies dependable?

More than in any other region of Afghanistan, the Red Army attempted to shift the bulk of offensive operations and road-clearing in Kandahar and southern Afghanistan to local Afghan army and police units. These organizations had been ideologically indoctrinated and militarily trained by Soviet advisers since at least the early 1970s. They had also been thoroughly infiltrated by agents of the KGB and GRU in an effort to limit opportunities for desertion en masse. All of this did little good. A Red Army-trained and Kandahar-based Afghan army division, for example, mutinied just after the Soviet invasion in 1980, and it mutinied again in 1987 – along with new units that had been expensively armed and trained by the Soviets since 1980 – while conducting an offensive to clear mujahedin from the Arghandab Valley north of Kandahar.

–7.) How much does Islam play a role in local attitudes toward foreigners?

This answer to this question is that Islam played a huge role in response to the Soviet invasion for at least three reasons.  First, even before the 1979 Soviet invasion, Moscow’s surrogate communist regime in Kabul was trying to eradicate Islam and impose socialism by force in much of rural Afghanistan.  As a result, there was an incipient Islamic insurgency underway in the pre-invasion years.  Second, Kabul and the Red Army continued murderous efforts to install socialism after the Soviets arrival and – as noted above – indiscriminately killed 1.5 million Muslims and displaced 3 million more.  These actions drove Afghans ever closer to their faith for solace, hope, unity, and survival.  Third, the Afghan insurgency inspired Muslims around the world to support and applaud the Afghan resistance, making the Afghan jihad a Muslim cause celebre and also making Afghans much more aware than ever before of being part of a worldwide Islamic community.  Over all, the Soviets found themselves, as had the British, in a religious war.

Conclusion:  Are their commonalities in the British and Soviet experiences?

Although the two occupations are separated by a century and by far more in the development of technology, there are commonalities between the British and Soviet experiences of campaigning in Kandahar. At least eight come to mind:

–1.) The terrain, weather, water scarcity, and lack of local infrastructure that both militaries encountered made movement for military operations difficult, and at times extremely so. Because of the relatively flat and open nature of the terrain, British and Soviet preparations for military operations were readily visible to the enemy and therefore surprise could seldom be achieved.

–2.) Huge British and Soviet advantages in terms of modern military and communications technology made very little difference; in the end, insurgents armed with inferior arms and technology forced Great Britain and the USSR to withdraw.

–3.) The style and conduct of occupation seemed to matter very little. The rather light-hand and civilian-casualty-averse British occupation did not win the British occupiers many more friends than the very few the Soviets won with an utterly barbaric approach to occupation.

–4.) Neither the British nor the Soviets ever established a clandestine human reporting network that produced reliable and timely intelligence.  Intelligence collection for both depended largely on reconnaissance by their own forces, and therefore the British and Soviets very seldom acquired accurate information about the enemies’ plans and intentions.

–5.)  Both the Soviets and the British seemed to be defined by all Afghans as infidels and occupiers whose presence profaned the land of Muslim Afghanistan. The British seem to have had a better handle on this common Afghan perception than the Soviets, but neither seems to have fully understood that their physical presence in the country was the single most important factor that provided a glue of unity to the normally fractious Afghan tribes and clans. Both British and the Soviet Afghan veterans probably would concur with an assessment written by a British officer in 1880. We are seen, this infantry officer wrote, “ [as] an infidel army in occupation of the country, and under the outward cloak of sullen submission is hidden deep hatred of the intruders on account of their race and religion. In every village and hamlet men listen eagerly to the preaching of the mullahs, who stir up their passions with lying stories of the coming time when Islam and their women will be violated by the infidels. The appeal is made to the two objects most precious in the eyes of an Afghan or any other Muhammaden – his faith and his women.”

–6.) Britain and the USSR both found that those Afghans they considered allies were ultimately unreliable no matter how well paid and trained they were. The Soviets, in particular, invested great amounts of time, manpower, weapons, and money in training “popular Afghan tribal militias” only to find that once trained, many of the militiamen deserted to their brothers and cousins among the mujahedin, and then fought their trainers.

–7.) British and Soviet forces operating in Kandahar quickly learned that their Afghan enemies could not be intimidated by repeated and overwhelming applications of fire power. A British officer probably echoed Soviet sentiments as well when he wrote during the 1880 withdrawal from Kandahar that the Afghans “are a proud people and a savage soldiery and they are smarting under recent chastisements but they are far from considering themselves a conquered race. Heaven knows how many defeats would be necessary to extort any admission of inferiority” from the Afghans. Both also found that their Afghan enemies would not stand and fight to the death, but would flee and hide until they could create an opportunity to attack, or until British or Soviet forces created such an opportunity by making a mistake.

–8.) The British and Soviet occupiers never really came to grips with the absolutely un-Western sense of time and degree of patience that were exhibited by their Afghan enemies. Both militaries often mistakenly interpreted long periods of enemy quiescence as solid evidence of the enemies’ deteriorating capabilities and morale, and as proof of their own progress. The extraordinarily patient Afghans, wrote a British officer in 1880, “will take our rupees today, and be all subserviency or sullen independence … and will cut our throats and hack our bodies to pieces tomorrow as part of the beautiful program” they believe was ordained by Allah.

Having thus briefly reviewed the experiences of the two foreign occupying armies that preceded NATO in Afghanistan, I will leave it up to the audience to determine whether the history of those occupations provide any useful lessons for today’s occupiers, or whether the book reviewer mentioned at the start of this talk was correct in saying that “crude comparisons” to earlier foreign occupations of Afghanistan “are probably best left to one side.”

And no matter how you decide to answer that question, I will leave you to mull over three quotations. The first is from Lord Roberts, who wrote after he had temporarily awed Britain’s Afghan enemies and safely evacuated British forces from Afghanistan in 1880, that “we have nothing to fear from Afghanistan,” Roberts wrote,” and the best thing to do is to leave it as much as possible to itself.  It may not be flattering to our self-perception, but I feel sure I am right when I say that the less the Afghans see of us the less they will dislike us.”

The second quotation comes from a young British lieutenant named Charles Grey Robinson. After exiting Afghanistan with Roberts’ rearguard, Lt. Robertson wrote about his last look at the Kandahar plain. From that view, and his own experiences, Robertson told his diary that “the very best thing in Afghanistan is the road out of it.”

The final quotation, and one that quite clearly shows the continuity of experience over more than a century of history, comes for a Canadian officer who served in Kandahar.  Canada’s forces, this officer wrote, have been practicing a “finger in the dyke strategy,” as most of Kandahar’s population is opposed to NATO’s presence.  Operational conditions are extremely difficult, we have had “soldiers walk a few hundred yards and collapse in 130 degree temperatures before a shot is fired,” and resupply is difficult and at times interrupted.  In addition, “it is too chaotic on the ground, and there are too many people, so we cannot tell who is the enemy.” Moreover, “it is a mistake to count too much on technology because the Taleban doesn’t have any technology.”  Overall, we hold an area only when we are physically present, and the best we can do is “to keep the insurgency at bay.”

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Mr. President, tell the media that Putin is infinitely less murderous than U.S. democracy crusaders

In an interview with FOX’s Bill O’Reilly on 5 February 2017, President Trump botched an exemplary opportunity to strike a major blow in favor of a durable America First foreign policy. But more such chances are sure to appear, and the President ought to be ready next time out.

In their conversation, O’Reilly referred to Russian President Putin as a thug and a killer. President Trump hit a home run with a pitch-perfect response, telling O’Reilly, “There are a lot of killers. You think our country’s so innocent?” (1) With this question, the president hit the factual core, but then lost track of his non-interventionist music and wandered into needlessly worrying about the number of  foreign civilians that have been killed by U.S. forces in the conduct of the unnecessary, interventionist wars their commanders-in-chief start. Lots of civilians get killed in wars, and, though that is tough to stomach, it is tremendously more important to fight and win wars with the greatest possible speed, no matter what the toll on the civilians who are either supporting or, regrettably, living near the enemy requiring annihilation. Indeed, there are times when targeting civilian populations or facilities — like Mosul University, where IS built chemical weapons — could add speed to a war-winning campaign.

President Trump would have been on much firmer and more truthful ground if he had said that, since 1945, U.S. and European politicians, their yes-men generals, their reliable liars in the media, and the UN and other multinational organizations have killed far more civilians through their unstinting democracy crusading abroad, than has the U.S. military in its politically and international-law hamstrung, and so always losing, war-making.

To put it plainly, the post-World War II addiction of the bipartisan U.S. governing elite to spreading the abstraction of democracy by military force has killed far more people than those killed by their militaries in the one or two necessary wars they fought since V-J Day. Indeed, wars for forcibly imposing the West’s abstract ideas and secular (sordid?) values on foreigners probably have killed nearly as many civilians as have post-1945 natural disasters. As a top foreign-policy agenda item, history has irrefutably proven that the forced spread of democracy is pretty much the recipe for results akin to genocide.

Neither the president nor Mr. O’Reilly seemed clear on the point that the United States should never, ever fight a war for abstractions, like freedom, liberty, human rights, women’s rights, abortion rights, indigenous rights, or any other right that happens to be invented in the future by the human-rights mafia. How many more instances of failure and wasteful blood-letting do Americans need to see before recognizing that their governing elite and its elite buddies in Europe are simply murderers every time they either use their own militaries to try to impose democracy on foreigners, or when they support indigenous organizations that cynically spout the words democracy and freedom because they know that once the U.S. and European leaders hear those magic words, Western guns and money will flow in to help them start a war in which they want power, not freedom. Americans too often forget that the only universal principle is the desire for power, not for freedom.

If I can be so bold, even Mr. O’Reilly falls into the “killer” category in the foregoing sense. Years ago, I appeared with some regularity on the Factor — and was always well treated — and on one occasion I argued that the U.S. government ought not to be involved in Darfur and South Sudan because they were sinkholes of irrelevancy for the United States, and that each would swallow many billions of U.S. dollars and, in the end, would make no difference but a negative one by setting the stage for more war and further deepening the republic’s debt. I also added that only an adolescent-run national government — a more than apt description of the Bush and Obama administrations — would allow itself to be pushed into pro-democracy intervention in Darfur and South Sudan by a gaggle of terminally juvenile Hollywood “stars” who are, at best, moronic leftists — like George Clooney, Angelina Jolie, etc.– and, on average, just plainly addled people whose only skill is reading words other, smarter people write for them.

On that occasion, Mr. O’Reilly supported unnecessary and self-defeating U.S. political, financial, political, military interventionism — which included tearing off the oil-rich half of Muslim Sudan and giving it to gangster-led Christians — under the guise of a humanitarian operation. In other words, while he did not pull any triggers, he supported those who wanted U.S.-Western intervention so they could take power, and so played a bit role as what might be called a “killer-abettor” in the carnage that has gone on in both places in the name of forcibly imposing those always murderous abstractions, freedom, liberty, and human rights.

The usually amiable Mr. O’Reilly, like so many other Americans, becomes little more than one of Pavlov’s dogs on this issue — maybe Woodrow Wilson’s dogs would be more accurate — savage, snarling pups who jump to demand or support interventionist actions that kill Americans serving the republic overseas — mostly military personnel — and foreigners in the name of imposing glorious freedom, liberty, and democracy on them. There is not much funny in this kind of murderous and predictably war-causing behavior, save for the hilarity extant in the enduring, baseless, and rock-hard refusal of the U.S. governing elite to see that the foreigners on which it aims to impose secular democracy via the bayonet, generally, (a) do not want it and will fight it, and/or (b) are not competent enough to handle freedom without turning it into license, much like most Democrats.

So Mr. O’Reilly and the rest of the media, no matter on which political side they reside, ought to realize that there is murder, and then there is murder. Has Putin killed his opponents when they became a threat to his power or Russia’s interests, probably, but so what? It is none of America’s business unless he kills Americans. Naturally, Mr. O’Reilly and the rest of the media do not seem to have much trouble with Putin-like actions that originate from the Neocons’ buddies in Tel Aviv or our imagined “Muslim allies” in Cairo, Riyadh, North Africa, Yemen, Iraq, etc., etc., etc.

In sum, the greatest mass murderers over the past 20 years have not been Putin, Osama bin Laden, or Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, but, rather, they have been those U.S. and European politicians and their public- and private-sector advisers — supported by the media, the academy, and the churches — who have started or supported interventionist wars in the name of unobtainable abstractions. Recent instances of this lethal phenomena are legion. Among them:

–Mrs. Clinton’s State Department’s fomenting  of anti-government activities and violence in Russia, Iran, Syria, Egypt, and Ukraine.

–The Bush/Cheney wars for spreading democracy in Iraq and Afghanistan and, from there, across the Islamic world.

–The Bill Clinton-G.H.W. Bush no-intention-of-winning military intervention in Somalia, a war that is still ongoing.

–Obama’s re-interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq, and his fun for death-loving Democrats, but strategically feckless drone attacks.

–The Bill Clinton-EU-UN military intervention in the Balkans, which stopped the war there from burning out and so allowed all sides to patiently rearm and otherwise prepare for the war that will start when NATO leaves.

–The Obama-Clinton-EU-UN-McCain-Graham-led-or-caused wars that destroyed Ukraine, Syria, and Libya.

Now, if Putin killed a person or three once a day for the rest of his life, and his descendants took over that duty after his death, they would never total a number of killed “innocents” that is even remotely equal to the murders accumulated since 1945 by U.S. and EU democracy crusaders though interventionist wars and economic sanctions.  When next the opportunity arises for President Trump to address the issue raised by Mr. O’Reilly, he should calmly, clearly, and truthfully say that since Woodrow Wilson launched the deeply anti-war and non-interventionist United States into a century of unending war in 1917, the only murderers who have more notches on their belts for murdered innocents than the elite U.S. and European democracy-spreaders are Stalin, Mao, and American abortionists.











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On the travel ban, the Islam war, and more interventionism

The past two weeks have been full of examples that demonstrate how difficult it is to defend the United States from its enemies — as the saying goes — foreign and domestic. The Trump administration’s first step toward improved U.S. national security — the travel ban — was opposed by multicultural and therefore brain-dead political, religious, media, and academic elites in North America and Europe. As long as these paragons of idiocy are addicted to the genuinely stupid idea that you can make a political entity stronger by adding ingredients that erode its unity and pits its citizens against each other, domestic security will remain far over the horizon.

The last fortnight also has shown Americans — that is, those who voted for Trump — that 21 years after bin Laden declared war on the United States, U.S. policymakers, the media’s conglomeration of reading-from-the-same-lying-script experts, and the academy’s greedy authors of costly and universally failed de-radicalization programs continue to refuse to tell the truth. That obvious and irrefutable truth is that minor things like the travel ban, water-boarding, and rendition are matters of little or no interest to America’s Islamist foes, except as propaganda themes that incite America’s most dangerous enemies, namely, the elites of Europe and North America. The items that have caused such pain and fun occasions for demonstrating among the elites will never win the Islam war. They are, at most, useful complements to the use of overwhelming and indiscriminate conventional force against the Islamists. That, of course, is one of only two choices by which America can avoid bankruptcy and final defeat in the Islam war. The other, quicker, and smarter one is getting out of the Arab world, thereby letting Arabs, Persians, and Israelis sort out their destinies. That is, after all, the Wilsonian idea of “self-determination” that the Trans-Atlantic elites always sing the praises of and claim to be seeking to advance. For once, I agree with them.

Finally, and sadly, there have been a number of Trump administration announcements that show how deeply embedded in the national government are interventionist fanatics and disloyal Democratic apparatchiks hired by Obama and Hillary Clinton. Specific cases of this interventionism are noted below, but if President Trump is serious about implementing an America First foreign policy, there is no better first step than to fire the 900 war-wanting State Department employees who signed a document opposing the travel ban. You could get 900 better Americans  simply by offering posts to the experienced, worldly, and patriotic military officers that Obama pink-slipped out of their careers.

Travel ban

If you woke up this morning and heard pundits claiming that the temporary U.S. travel-ban placed on seven Muslim countries will give IS and other Islamists fodder for preaching violence against America, you might believe that you were in 1996 and that the media had learned nothing about the Islamists in the last 21 years. And if that thought occurred to you, good for you, as you would be correct.

The travel ban may have provoked America’s most dangerous enemies — Schumer, Obama, Pelosi, Hillary Clinton, Hollywood buffoons, milennials, the EU mandarins, etc. — but no matter what those foes claim publicly, the Islamists will be delighted with travel ban. Among both Wahabbis and Salafists — the bulk of our Islamist foes — there is an intense doctrinal bias that opposes Muslims moving to and living in non-Muslim countries. The job of Muslims, for the militants, is to remain in Muslim territory, defend that territory, and raise families that breed manpower for the faith’s future defense.

As always, it is best to ignore the experts on America’s war with Islam and simply read-up on what the militants believe. No doubt Islamic State and al-Qaeda leaders will publicly say the travel ban is one more manifestation of the West’s war on Islam, and they may well stage an attack and claim that it was in respsonse to the ban. Privately, however they will see the ban  as an asset for their cause, and probably hope the national government would ban all immigration of Muslims. Most especially, ignore the idea that we may be attacked specifically because of the ban. This is another false Pelosian mantra, not unlike the transparently false Obama claim that we were attacked because of water-boarding and Guantanamo Bay. These issues are the smallest possible fish in the sea of issues that motivate Islamists, and hold little space in their minds when compared to the U.S.-led destruction of Libya, the re-interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan, and, those old reliables, support and protection for Israel and the Arab tyrannies.

There is also a bigger point to be made here. Muslim immigrants to the United States will not magically lose their historic inclination toward an austere religion, jihad, and accepting authoritarian rule — whether by church or state — simply by putting foot on American soil. Such an expectation can only be held by those intoxicated with the malign ideas of multiculturalism and diversity. This is not hatred bigotry or racism, it is simply common sense. And Muslims, of course, are not alone in this characterization. Hispanics, Indians, Russians, Pakistanis, Africans and others from around the world who grew up and experienced adulthood in political and economic systems that only work because of bribery, economic corruption, and citizens’ fear of strong-armed leaders will never lose those inclinations simply because they trod the soil of Wyoming. Reversing the situation makes the same point in a different way.  An American, for example, would be just as likely to be unable to adapt to living permanently in Russia or almost any Latin American, African, or East European country where little gets done without corruption, each citizen is treated as a peasant, and all have a healthy and fearful respect for the authoritarian crook-leader of the day.

The lesson to be drawn from all of this is pretty much that the American way of life, at this stage in our history, cannot be loved, respected, and abided by unless one is born and raised to adulthood under it. To think otherwise is a symptom of madness or, in the case of the Democrats, an unending effort to bring into America enough human beings who can be bribed by government programs, are afraid to oppose the government that supports them, and who therefore will vote reliably for their Democratic overseers forever.

If it is in his power, President Trump ought to temporarily ban all immigration for two years, and devise a statistical basis for drastically reducing the number of any type of visa for the citizens of the countries whose citizens have the highest documented rate of overstaying or otherwise abusing the U.S. visa system. There is nothing remotely discriminatory in either action, and together they would give U.S. law-enforcement agencies at all levels of government the chance to identify, jail, and/or deport visa-overstayers, illegal aliens, criminals, terrorists, and other such vermin. Thereafter, perhaps, a fair-minded and commonsense America First immigration policy could be established and obeyed under either party’s governance. I doubt it, but you never know.

Syria-Iraq and the Islam war

This is a no-brainer, but it still is beyond the grasp of Democrats, the media, far too many Republicans, and — there are rhetorical indications — President Trump and his advisers. All seem to have been seduced by wishful thinking into believing that if the multitude of nations that are bombing and killing IS fighters and untold numbers of Sunni Muslims succeed in taking — in addition to Aleppo — Mosul, Raqqa, and other cities, the Islamic State’s back will be broken and the war will be won.

Well, no. Even if  IS loses every city it now holds — and it might — it will simply shift to Plan B and return to what it does best, namely, insurgency, and after that shift it will be stronger over the long-term. We tend to forget, I think, that between 1776 and 1781 British politicians and generals thought they could defeat General Washington’s army by taking the main American cities and harbors. (NB: Readers may recall that the Soviet and American military invasions of Afghanistan quickly captured all major Afghan cities, but Moscow and Washington still lost their Afghan wars.)

The British were highly successful in this regard. The British army held but evacuated Boston, captured New York and held it for the rest of the war, captured America’s capital city of Philadelphia, and in their spare time captured and held Savannah and Charleston. But who won? The Americans. They won because, after trying to defend but losing New York City to General Howe, Washington and his best generals realized that they could never be defeated by simply losing cities to the British. Such losses were disheartening but they were not fatal. The American leaders kept their army in the field, trained during the winter, used France-provided monetary, ordnance, naval, and manpower effectively (NB: Just as IS is doing with aid from the Sunni tyrannies today), and maintained armed fronts in multiple geographic areas to prevent British power being focused squarely on one.

IS has lost and will continue to lose cities. It will, however, maintain and probably expand the size of its military force because the US-led opposition, formerly composed of the nations of Christendom and Arab tyrannies,  has been joined by apostate Iranian and Lebanese Shia forces and the Russian military, still remembered and hated across the Sunni world as the butchers of Sunni Afghans.

It hard to believe that either IS chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, his religious and military lieutenants, or any other senior Islamist leader could have expected that Allah would be so pleased with their worldwide jihad that He would send an ensemble of  Islam’s most lethal military and religious enemies to attack the jihad in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Afghanistan, and Libya. In so doing, Allah gave the Islamists not only  proof of his approval of their actions, but a solid-gold recruiting tool, one with an unrivaled potential for expanding Islamist manpower so long as the current array of Islam’s enemies remain in the field. Looking at the Almighty’s gift from the Islamists’ perspective, an exclamation by them of “Allahu Akhbar!” seems to be a perfectly appropriate reaction.

It is more than likely that the war against IS will become more savage and and geographically widespread after IS has lost some or all of its cities. The post-cities war, moreover, cannot be fought only with air power and not-meant-to-win-wars organizations like the Special Forces and CIA. The post-cities wars  — if the U.S. and its genuinely odious associates really intend to win — will require the use of very large numbers of ground troops who are sure to be engaged in close-quarters combat. This reality will insure far higher numbers of U.S. and Western casualties in overseas combat, and an increasing number inside the United States and the European nations as the millions of unwanted, unneeded, and unvetted young Arab male immigrants begin to pick up the pace of the military attacks they entered America and Europe to wage.

In short, there’s nothing going on in Iraq and Syria, at least from the American perspective, except that the national government is busily digging an ever deeper and more lethal hole in which to pour young American men and women in uniform, military personnel who will pay a price in the lives and limbs far beyond what their deceased predecessors have already paid for the accomplishment of nothing expect an ever broadening, unnecessary, and interventionist war.

Any way out of the mess? Only one sure one, get all U.S. forces out of Syria and Iraq and let the Sunni-vs-Shia sectarian war begin and consume the region.

More interventionism

This past week has heard some disheartening nonsense from the Trump administration in the form of foreign-policy pronouncements. After a great start with the travel ban, the week went down hill.

–Romania: The U.S. State Department publicly expressed “U.S. concern” about Romanian government actions that “threaten the rule of law” in that country. Now, there are not a dozen non-elite Americans who give a a damn about Romania, let alone the rule-of-law there. Why not leave the Romanians alone to solve their own problem in their own way. Nothing they are doing remotely concerns genuine U.S. interests, and the State Department’s elitist know-it-alls might take a second to look around and see that U.S. officials are in no position to lecture foreigners about the rule of law when obvious criminals like the three Clintons, Obama, Sharpton, Emanuel, de Blasio, and millennial rioters have not even been indicted

–Israel: It has been a mantra in this space for years that each and every nation has an absolute right to defend itself as it sees fit. This week, the White House chose to condemn Israel for announcing plans to build 3,000 more settlements. Because the Israel government believes settlements are a key part of its national security requirements, the United States really ought to ignore the event, and not intervene in another nation’s attempt to defend itself. It also is time for the U.S. governing elite to get a grip and accept the commonsense conclusion that the idea of a two-state solution is long and truly dead. What happens in the Israel-Palestine-Arab world confrontation is irrelevant to U.S. national security and surely not worth having a position on if that means — which it surely does — involving the United States in a war-breeding irrelevancy. President Trump out to be able to understand  this easily as he just saw an absolutely essential ingredient in U.S. national security — the travel ban — overturned by interventionism at the hands of foreign governments, foreign media, foreign demonstrations, violent, quarter-baked American millennials, sleep-around actresses, and ideological, elite-appointed judges.

–Iran: Iran is a threat to the United States for reasons that are all attributable to the U.S. government. (a) Its immigration policy has allowed Iran to massively infiltrate the republic with its intelligence service, the IRGC, and members of Lebanese Hizballah, this to the point where they control parts of major urban centers in Michigan, New York, California, and Texas. (b) Its effete military behavior has failed to make the only point to Iranians that they will understand, which is “hit was with a pebble and we will drop an anvil on one of the things you value most.” (NB: The other side of this coin is, of course, leave us alone and we will leave you alone.) (c)  Its interventionist addiction blocks the view that Iran is a regional power that must be handled by the region. If Israel and the Sunni Arab tyrants do not have the gumption to keep Iran at bay, too bad for them. If the Israelis and Sunnis are cowards, they deserve to find themselves forced to learn to speak Persian.

–Ukraine: Okay, make sense of this. The U.S.-NATO-backed Ukrainian government launches attacks on Russian-backed Ukrainian rebels and the U.S. UN ambassador reads the riot act to the Russians. This is another issue that is irrelevant to the United States, except for Senators Graham and McCain, and the Russia-hating Neocons, and the Israel-Firsters. Ukraine — like Iran — is a regional problem caused by the EU’s democracy-mongering intervention that brought down Ukraine’s pro-Russia government. The EU caused the Ukraine problem for the region, and so it is up to the region to solve the issue amicably or go to war with Russia over it. Ukraine is of absolutely no concern to U.S. citizens, poses no threat to U.S. security, and therefore ought not be be an impediment to U.S.-Russian relations. The EU intentionally started this regional mess, so let its sorry lot of so-called leaders find a way out of it, or let them fight with war with Russia, which is the most logical outcome of their mindless intervention in Ukraine. But first, president. Trump, get us the hell out of NATO or we will end up fighting the Russians on behalf of the arrogant, demilitarized, and all-talk EU countries.




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On sanctuary, Mr. President, speed fueled by Jacksonian fury is vital

“Tell them from me that they can talk and write resolutions and print threats to their heart’s content. But if one drop of blood be shed there in defiance of the laws of the United States, I will hang the first man of them I can get my hands on to the first tree I can find.” Andrew Jackson, 1832 (1)

“I tell you, Hayne, when Jackson begins to talk about hanging, they can begin to look out for ropes!’ Senator T.H. Benton to Senator Robert Hayne, 1832 (2)

Mr. President, I know that you know, as does every sane American, that the maintenance of sanctuary cities, counties, schools, or states is a direct and lethal threat to the nation’s security, the lives of ordinary citizens and their children, and a drain on the republic’s economy. You have said this repeatedly, and have announced that you and your administration will fix the problem. That is no more than those who voted for you expect.

But you should immediately discard the idea of cutting off federal funds to the sanctuary cities. This tack must be the brainchild of advisers who are closet-Democrats or Republicans who have been in Washington far too long. It is a plan that  will lead to nothing but a lengthy delay in resolving what is a quickly fixable problem. Worse, it will give the Democrats and their adoring media pets a “cause” around which to rally. They will use it as a soapbox from which to assert that your administration is starving the sanctuary cities of money for poor adults and their hungry kids, for schools, for transportation, for health clinics, etc., etc. The Democrats also will use their endless cascade of Soros-money to hire sick, addled, fanatic, and addicted people — in other words the party’s rank-and-file — to parade their pathetic, Trump-mandated distress before the media, and have them claim that their maladies are the result of your administration’s halting of federal funding.

Why not spend a few hours, Mr. President, refreshing your knowledge of the the Nullification Crisis of 1832, and, in doing so, take a lesson from Andrew Jackson on how to handle Democrats who defy the supreme law of the land?  The match of secession and civil war, after all, was lit in 1832, when South Carolina’s Democratic government announced that it would no longer enforce the provisions of the republic’s tariff system it deemed detrimental to the state’s economic interests. The political grandees in Charleston cited John C. Calhoun’s doctrine of nullification as their legal justification.

President Jackson, of course, saw straight away that although the South Carolinians described their action as nullification, it was actually a long first-step toward the state’s secession from the Union — and, if not checked, likely the start of the Union’s dissolution. Jackson, though a Democrat himself, had no intention of presiding over secession and made it publicly and privately clear that his government was not going to allow one state to initiate an unconstitutional process that might well sink the republic by either splintering the Union into several small nations or a civil war.

Publicly, Jackson’s administration issued a proclamation on 10 December 1832 telling South Carolina — and the nation as a whole — that nullification was illegal and that the national government would not tolerate it. That lengthy document said, in part,

The Constitution of the United States, then, forms a government, not a league, and whether it be formed by compact between the States, or in any other manner, its character is the same. It is a government in which all the people are represented, which operates directly on the people individually, not upon the States; they retained all the power they did not grant. But each State having expressly parted with so many powers as to constitute jointly with the other States a single nation, cannot from that period possess any right to secede, because such secession does not break a league, but destroys the unity of a nation, and any injury to that unity is not only a breach which would result from the contravention of a compact, but it is an offense against the whole Union. To say that any State may at pleasure secede from the Union, is to say that the United States are not a nation because it would be a solecism to contend that any part of a nation might dissolve its connection with the other parts, to their injury or ruin, without committing any offense. Secession, like any other revolutionary act, may be morally justified by the extremity of oppression; but to call it a constitutional right, is confounding the meaning of terms, and can only be done through gross error, or to deceive those who are willing to assert a right, but would pause before they made a revolution, or incur the penalties consequent upon a failure. (3)

Privately, as noted above, Jackson was emphatically clear with a number of southern Democratic congressman and senators that he would not hesitate to use military force to destroy those who: (a) sought to break the Union by nullification-cum-secession, or (b) who attacked Union loyalists living in their midst. As token of his lethal resolution on these points, Jackson sent eight U.S. naval ships and 5,000 muskets to Charleston. He also again warned in private talks he knew would be relayed to the nullifiers, that if fighting became necessary, he would “hang every leader … of that infatuated people, sir, by martial law, irrespective of his name, or political or social position.” (4)

What you are facing today, Mr. President, is quite simply the 21st century and nationwide version of the southern nullifiers and secessionists. Now, few have more disdain — indeed, more hatred — than I for the national government’s unconstitutional usurpation of power since FDR’s lordly ascension to the presidency. But there are a number of things which are vital to the republic’s survival and can only be done by the national government. Among them are foreign policy, the initiation and conduct of war, international and domestic trade policy, and immigration. For Democratic politicians to try to block or prevent the national government’s conduct of these policies is unconstitutional and — as in Andrew Jackson’s time — demands a national-government response that takes whatever form is necessary to break the backs of the nullifiers/secessionists. The Democratic mayors of the sanctuary cities — as well as the lesser, pro-sanctuary rats found in county governments, many churches, schools, and the media — are the progeny of the South Carolina Democrats and, like those men, are out to destroy the Union. They will do so, Mr. President, if you supinely yield to their unconstitutional and anti-democratic actions.

Mr. President, the mayors of the sanctuary cities are the proper first targets for you administration to begin enforcing the law, and it can be done soundly and quickly. Once confirmed, your attorney general should send a letter to each of the mayors that politely but firmly demands that they end their lawlessness and execute their legal responsibility to assist the national government in rounding up illegal aliens. The letter should tell each mayor that one of the attorney general’s lieutenants will arrive in his office in ten days to coordinate alien-apprehension operations with them. If one or all of the mayors send replies in the negative, your DoJ official should arrive with a team of federal law-enforcement officers and ask the mayors if they intend to meet their legal responsibility. If their answer is no, each should be arrested for obstructing the execution of the law. This process then should be repeated with each of the mayor’s nexts-in-command until one is found who will help enforce the supreme law of the land. Each arrest is likely to promote more cooperative feelings further down the command chain.

Mr. President, use the law against the lawless and you will quickly rid the country of those who are here criminally, and you will bring to trial those who revel in their lawlessness, seek to disrupt the Union, and, by all appearances, prefer civil war to the rule of law. You also will show Americans that the Democratic Party never changes, that it is no different than it was in 1861, when it championed secession and civil war after the presidential candidate it favored failed to win the White House.

After President Jackson enforced the law and defeated the nullifiers, he arranged ameliorative actions vis-a-vis the tariff to restore the South Carolinians confidence in the Union. But like all Democrats, then and now, they believed only in destruction and death if they could not get their way. In an 1833 letter, Jackson reflected on his experience with the nullifiers. “I have had a laborious task here,” Old Hickory wrote,

“but nullification is dead, and its actors and courtiers will only be remembered by the people to be execrated for their wicked designs to sever and destroy the only good government on the globe, and that prosperity and happiness we enjoy over every other portion of the world. Haman’s gallows ought to be the fate of all such ambitious men, who would involve the country in civil war, and all the evils in its train, that they might reign and ride on its whirlwinds, and direct the storm.” (5)

Jackson also said, at the close of his presidency, that one of his major regrets was that he had failed to hang John C. Calhoun — the father of nullification and secession — “higher than haman.” (6) Given that our civil war still came at the hands of Calhoun-inspired South Carolinians, Jackson’s regret was certainly valid.

While you cannot today, Mr. President, hang nullifiers like Emanuel, de Blasio, and their equally lawless mayoral associates as they deserve  — more’s the pity — you certainly can legitimately restore in their minds, and the minds of all Americans, the confidence that those who knowingly refuse to obey the law — or obstruct its execution — will be handled in accordance with the law they ignored and, if convicted, will be punished to the maximum extent it permits.

And perhaps with a bit of Jackson’s measured but patently biblical fury, Mr. President, you should tell Americans that you recognize that they have, and must always defend, their unquestionable right to rebellion. And then, Mr. President, you might say that the appropriate application of that right only comes into play when the national government — as it did under Obama and would have under Mrs. Clinton — acts to constrict their liberties, impoverish them through taxation, promote minority rule, attack their traditions, faith, flags, and history, involve them in multiple unconstitutional wars, and — most of all — when it undermines the republic’s only safe harbor, the maintenance of a viable Union and the public’s affection for it.





–2.), 10 December 1832





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Putin pitches in to clear the way for Trump’s America First foreign policy

On  13 January 2016, the Moscow Times reported the following:

“Russian army personnel are being briefed for deployment to Syria, according to military brochures obtained by Russia’s Novaya Gazeta newspaper.  … One brochure is emblazoned with the logo of the Red Army — a red, white, and blue star — and features a Russian-Arabic phrase book, a map of Syria and the Middle east, and an illustrated guide to military equipment and ranks within the Syrian army. … Military experts say the brochures are similar to those handed out to Soviet troops before and during the Afghan war, Novaya Gazeta reported.”

On 10 December 2016, the Kabul-based outlet TOL Onenews Online published the following statement by Russia’s ambassador to Afghanistan, Alexander Mantytskiy.

“… Daesh [the Islamic State] is trying to reach Central Asia, Russia, and China, and Russia has formed a relationship with the Taleban to secure [Russian] citizens’ lives. [Russia’s leaders claim] our interests are the same as the Taleban’s in fighting Daesh. It is clear that Taleban fight Daesh. We never said that we back up Taleban in fighting Daesh … [but] America has failed to tackle insurgents and Russia is ready to help Afghanistan.”

In a time of massive military and economic troubles for America that have been caused by a half-century of interventionist, war-causing U.S. foreign policy, along comes a beacon of end-of-tunnel light in the form of Russian President Putin. Readers of this space may recall that it was recommended to President Putin that he hit the Islamic State and the other anti-Asaad Islamist groups as hard and as indiscriminately as possible, convince the Islamist that the game was not worth the candle, and then immediately high-tail it back to the steppes.

But, like countless foolhardy U.S. leaders, Mr. Putin ignored that wise advice and now is well and truly stuck in Syria. Worse for Russia, Putin, his military, and their country are seen throughout the Sunni Muslim world as the champions of territorial expansionism by the hated apostate Shia and Alawites, as well as being the well-armed architects who are helping the apostates to build a belt of Shia-control — which will yield massive oppression of Sunnis — from the Western border of Afghanistan to the lovely beaches of the Lebanon’s Mediterranean Coast. Alas, Mr. Putin — at least for your country’s sake — you did not listen to commonsense, and have proven that you are no Uncle Joe Stalin when it comes to the kind of warfare that makes the enemy’s pips squeak.

But Mr. Putin’s now self-defeating excursion into Syria is a splendid opportunity for the incoming Trump administration to bid an unfond adieu to the catastrophic-for-America war that George W. Bush and his sidekicks unnecessarily stated, and which Barack Obama continued, in Afghanistan; restarted in Iraq; and quietly expanded through most of Arab and Black Africa. Behold that entire region, and you will not see a single life-and-death U.S. national security interest.

Indeed, what you will see are useless — now that America is energy independent — one-way, war-causing alliances with the Gulf Arab and African tyrants, and a supine, slavish, extortionate, and war-causing relationship with Israel. Mr. Putin, bless his little Bolshevik heart, has given the U.S. national government a chance to get out of a sucking quagmire into which far too much America wealth, blood, prestige, and opportunity costs have been wastefully poured. If Mr. Trump and his team recognize this astoundingly advantageous opportunity — and then move quickly homeward — they will miss out on having to deal with the approaching collapse of Egypt and Tunisia, the regrouping and expansion of the Islamic State in southern Libya and central Africa, the solidification of the above-noted, Shia-controlled belt of formerly Sunni territory, and that long-awaited and much to be desired regional Sunni-Shia war.

And like cable television commercials that offer “buy one, get two garden hoses”, Mr. Putin’s generosity toward the United States does not end in Syria-Iraq, it extends to Afghanistan. While Syria was, for Russia, an unnecessary war, in the next few years Mr. Putin will have to send the Russian army — not just its air force and Special Forces — to Afghanistan because the Islamists there are approaching the status of an existential threat to the Russian Federation (RF). Why? Because, first, the Islamists in Afghanistan have easy access to overwhelmingly Muslim Central Asia via the open borders of the region’s states that are contiguous to Afghanistan. In turn, the borders of the RF’s provinces/republics that are contiguous with Central Asian states are likewise largely unguarded, and ease the entry into Russia of Central Asian Muslims looking for work, as well as Islamists looking to proselytize, recruit, or attack. (NB: Those porous borders, needless to say, also give the mujahedin a path along which to send aid and veteran fighters to the Muslim Uighurs in western China. The Uighurs are resisting Beijing’s longstanding campaign to reduce them to a cultureless minority in their historic lands by inundating them with Han Chinese.)

Second, Mr. Putin’s policies in the Middle East have given the Islamists and the Sunni world generally the motivation to wage war more intensely against Russia. Putin’s brutal but, sadly, not-intended-to-win intervention in Syria has sharpened what has been a deep but dormant Sunni hatred for Russia, which is based on Moscow’s invasion and occupation of Muslim Afghanistan (1979-1992) and its now more than 20 year-old war against Islamist fighters in the North Caucasus. (NB: Since the 19th century, Russian leaders have had a debilitating blind spot when it comes to recognizing that the Russian/Soviet military is a very long shot to come out the winner in wars waged against Muslims in cold and mountainous countries.)

Third, Putin, even more clearly than Obama, has allied his country with Sunni Islam’s number one enemy, Shia Muslims and their various sub-sects. By the twin actions of killing Sunnis Muslims in Syria and conquering their historic cities — Aleppo, for example — and turning them over to Shia or Shia-like governance, Putin and his generals have provided extremely effective motivators for uniting Sunni Muslims worldwide against Russia. Putin’s interventionism has put at risk not only Russia’s overseas presence and interests, but also has made a highly negative impression on Russia’s own Muslim population — the media claim it may be as large as 20 million — an increasing part of which believes itself to be discriminated against by the Russian government, and persecuted by the Russian Orthodox Church.

Mr. Putin’s military intervention in Syria, the Russian intervention soon to come in Afghanistan, and the negative impact each will have on the RF’s increasingly restive Sunni Muslims are a godsend for those Americans sick of unnecessary, costly, and always-lost wars, and who oppose the interventionist U.S. foreign policies that have invariably produced them.

Mr. Trump, the man you have never met– Mr. Putin — has created a not-to-be-missed chance for your administration to unload two hopelessly lost and unnecessary wars, and allow other nations — all America’s enemies — to bear the human, economic, and domestic insecurity costs of a regional struggle that will resemble a war of all against all. Such a war will do nothing but kill the republic’s enemies; strengthen U.S. national security; afford a respite for our military and intelligence services to be rebuilt and cleansed of “there is no military solution” generals and lying and Democrat-butt-licking senior CIA leaders; and to build the border wall that should have been the national government’s first, post-9/11 national-security priority.

So, get on with it, Mr. Trump. Withdraw the U.S. military from Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan, and let Americans watch Russia writhe in the pain that is always produced by unnecessary foreign military intervention. And as that writhing worsens, use your twitter sermons to remind the citizenry that U.S. withdrawal has allowed the republic’s enemies to fight and kill each other, as well as to begin to re-school them on the republic-preserving nature of General Washington’s recipe for a foreign policy grounded in promoting trade, non-intervention, and neutrality.

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