Journal: Debt, Defense, and the Diem Moment in AF

03 Economy, 04 Inter-State Conflict, 05 Civil War, 07 Other Atrocities, 08 Wild Cards, 09 Terrorism, 10 Security
Chuck Spinney Recommends....

Did the ancients understand debt better than the moderns?

Watch this — note particularly the comment wrt to writing off the toxic debt of Lehman Bros.  Chuck

Six minutes with the renegade ecnomist – Michael Hudson Special

Phi Beta Iota: More than six minutes–a special with decisive commentary on the government’s failure to save the economy, choosing instead to save the financial super-parasites that fund the campaigns of the political parasites.  Junk math, junk derivatives, junk politics….

Defense Budget & the Deficit: A Comparison of Reduction Scenarios

Several plans for cutting back the defense budget are floating around Versailles on the Potomac.  These have taken the form of unsolicited proposals made to the Simpson-Bowles deficit commission.  In this important CP report, Winslow Wheeler, a former staffer on the Senate Budget Committee cuts through the rhetoric surrounding these plans and places their budget scenarios in an apples versus apples comparison.  Chuck

Weekend Edition November 26 – 28, 2010
How the Various Plans Compare:

By WINSLOW T. WHEELER Counterpunch

Is Obama Approaching Afghanistan’s Diem Moment?

In some respects, the anguish exhibited by Ahmed Rashid in the attached report (Rashid is a supporter of the Afghan intervention) suggests that the situation in Afghanistan is beginning to look a little like Vietnam in 1963 before the assassination of Diem.  We are faced with an escalating rural guerrilla war, where the guerrillas have the initiative.  Our strategy to regain the initiative by winning the hearts and minds of a disaffected predominantly rural population focuses again on controlling urban areas.  In a xenophobic society that traditionally picks its leaders and evolves its patterns of governance from the bottom up, we have maneuvered ourselves into a position of outsiders trying to redesign that traditional society from the top down by imposing our choices for leaders and our visions for building “democratic” institutions.  Metrics of success in this kind of conflicted effort, naturally, devolve into a reflection of the lack of success in overcoming the insurmountable contradiction.

Inevitably, once again, we focus on our inputs rather that outputs — as can be seen in an increasing reliance on Taliban body counts, the number of Afghan troops we have trained, the size of the “surge,” etc.
Local security forces are corrupt and incompetent, and they are led by rapacious leaders and warlords more interested in feathering their own nests than in building a viable nation.  Violence is escalating almost everywhere, yet that violence is itself being being touted as a sign of progress.  In short, like Vietnam, the tunnel of Afghanistan is getting longer and darker.  Like Vietnam, the political urge to find a neat, clean solution to an intractable problem made worse by the arrogance of our ignorance is increasing.

It is against this backdrop that political pressures are building to dump the corrupt stooge we put into place and replace him with a more pliable corrupt stooge, if only to justify a the war’s continuation by providing a patina of progress to an increasingly war-weary Americans on the home front.

So, we face the same question we faced in Vietnam in the fall of 1963:  If we dump our stooge because he is becoming uncooperative, who do we put in his place?  The only comfortable options for our political leaders are once again the leaders (warlords) of the corrupt and rapacious groups we have promoted.  Rashid ends his essay by saying that the US and Karzai will not not part ways.  I am not so sure.  But whatever the case, the name of the game is to buy time in a guerrilla war where time is on the side of the guerrilla.  Like Sir Douglas Haig’s decision to pour in reinforcements and continue the battle of the Somme for four months after taking 60,000 casualties the first day, a strategy to buy time by promoting more of the same is a strategy to reinforce failure that will eventually sputter out ineffectually at very high cost.  Chuck

Ahmed Rashid, NYRblog, 22 November 2010