NIGHTWATCH Extracts: Self-Delusions About AF-PK

08 Wild Cards, Officers Call

Afghanistan: A Coalition officer told the US press today that “There is no practical way to secure the Afghanistan-Pakistan border and the U.S. military will fight insurgents outside Afghan villages where they are vulnerable.” The officer remarked that securing the border would take an inordinate amount of resources and would require more cooperation from tribes inside Pakistan.

NIGHTWATCH Comment: NightWatch Readers should understand that the fight in Afghanistan primarily is waged by Afghan Pashtun fighters who live in Afghanistan and hate foreigners, especially from Christian nations. The data show that Pakistan is important as the channel for logistic support to the Afghan fighters. Pakistan is not a recruitment base for anti-government fighters in Afghanistan and not a winter refuge.

The Afghan Pashtuns fight where they live. They get ammunition and supplies from Pakistan. They do not spend the winter in Pakistan, which well informed Readers and old hands recognize as complete nonsense.

The purpose of controlling the Pakistan border is to stop the flow of supplies from Pakistan, or Iran in the four western provinces. Even in open sources, it is clear that truck convoys carrying explosive fertilizer, ammunition and other supplies enter Afghanistan via its main border crossing points with impunity.

Press statements from the Coalition command in December have perpetuated a story line that security conditions in Afghanistan would improve if Pakistan would cooperate in sealing the border. In fact, the data show that control of the two major border crossing points so as to halt the flood of fertilizer and garage door openers would do a lot to undermine Taliban capabilities. The supplies come from Pakistan and some from Iran, not the manpower.

Another narrative is that Coalition forces are driving the anti-government forces out of the main cities into sparsely populated areas where they can be killed and are protecting the major population centers. Open source data for November and December show that Kandahar, Ghazni and Jalalabad cities have experienced the highest number of Taliban attacks ever. Herat City is under Iranian protection so it seldom has many attacks.

Kabul also experiences few attacks, but the conventional wisdom is that President Karzai buys protection for Kabul. Thus, the open source data do not show that any major population centers are being protected.

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Phi Beta Iota: The newly-resurfaced work of Robert Garigue, one of the true pioneers in cyber-space matters, points out that truth and trust are two of the primary attributes that cyber-security is supposed to guarantee.  When we deceive ourselves and fail to be truthful in our reporting, our observations cannot be trusted.  This is a self-inflicted wound.