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<nettime> ivogram x4: policy fallout, brit journo arrested, bosnia, afgh
Ivo Skoric on Tue, 2 Oct 2001 07:25:57 +0200 (CEST)


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<nettime> ivogram x4: policy fallout, brit journo arrested, bosnia, afghanistan


"Ivo Skoric" <ivo {AT} reporters.net>
     Fall-Out of 50 years of questionable policies
     Re: British journalist arrested by taliban
     Bosnians arrest terror suspects
     (Fwd) FW: A Perspective on Afghanistan

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From: "Ivo Skoric" <ivo {AT} reporters.net>
Date: Mon, 1 Oct 2001 15:58:26 -0400
Subject: Fall-Out of 50 years of questionable policies

Fall-Out of 50 years of questionable policies

Missing:
8000+ people (from 80+ nations) - even 50 from Bangladesh
9% of office space in New York city
40% of guests in Las Vegas

Fired:
100,000 people in airline industry world-wide

Our way of life:
In 1980, President Jimmy Carter announced that the U.S. would officially 
consider any threat to Middle Eastern oil shipments to be a direct attack 
on U.S. interests. By that time superpowers already sold $4B+ of 
weapons in the region, which suffered 55 armed conflicts since the end 
of the WW II and by the time of the Carter's announcement. In 1986, 
Robert Seeley wrote this in The Handbook of Non-violence: A Middle 
East in which ethnic, religious, and national rivalries are resolved with 
military force and bloodshed, in which the Great Powers arm the 
combatants, in which terrorism is common and innocent bystanders are 
regularly killed and maimed is not only a region of great danger for its 
own people but for the people of the world."
And what did the Great Powers do? They continued to arm the 
combatants.
Now the oil price is down, again. The high price of oil this summer 
already worried us. Now, OPEC even considered cutting production to 
push the price up in the wake of recent slump. But.... "The United States, 
which has troops stationed in oil-producing Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, 
made it clear that it would frown on a concerted effort to lift prices. So 
OPEC agreed to leave its production target at 23.2 m barrels a day." Good 
boy.

Tainted globalism:
"The institutions that in most people's eyes represent the global 
economy - the IMF, the World Bank and the World Trade Organization - 
are reviled far more widely than they are admired;"
...here is why...
"The IMF, especially, is criticised for sending its experts into developing 
countries and commanding governments to balance the budget in ways 
that assault the poor - by cutting spending on vital social services, 
ending subsidies or raising taxes on food and fuel, levying charges for 
use of water, and so down the list of shame." - While those measures 
may be necessary, they inevitably undermine the elected officials of the 
target country, cause social unrest and, in some cases, plunge the 
unfortunate country in civil war. The IMF, meanwhile, NEVER makes 
such requests on the 'donor' countries (although their wealth is, at least, 
in part based on their past colonial exploitation of the now developing 
countries...).
U.S. foreign direct investment mostly goes to the rich countries - actually 
only 1% of the total U.S. FDI goes to the poor countries. They get high 
interest loans instead. - Pretty much like people within the country get 
high-interest credit cards with annual fee.
"If you are going to go bust, make sure you are a big developing country 
(Indonesia?) rather than a small one (Yugoslavia?), with debts large 
enough to threaten catastrophic damage to America's financial system. 
That way you can be assured of prompt attention." - Again, while about 
two millions American declares bankruptcies, Donald Trump is always 
bailed out.
IMF often acts as a tool of political pressure for the Western world - 
which undermines its credibility as a purely economic institution. "In 
1998, for instance, Croatia was denied an IMF loan payment, even 
though its economic policy was deemed sound by the technocrats, 
because it had failed to hand over war criminals."

The New Old War:
Every day on television we watch the "protracted and meticulous military 
preparations" to attack global terrorism. The same  "protracted and 
meticulous military preparations" by the terrorist network to attack the 
U.S. went in silence and far away from TV cameras. But the presence of 
both is aimed to morally exhaust the adversary. The superpower enjoys 
the luxury to have its  "protracted and meticulous military preparations" 
widely televised. The mighty ships with immense firepower are slowly 
crawling towards the region - yet nothing can stop their advance, and 
people can just helplessly look into the sky when the missiles are going 
to strike them. The expectation of a strike that cannot be prevented 
drains the morality from the opponent, and Talibans are more 
compromising by the day - they even found Bin Laden in Afghanistan, 
after the third aircraft carrier reached the region. However, we should 
'make no mistakes' that Al Qaeda is not doing the same ("protracted and 
meticulous military preparations") to strike back. They showed quite 
pointedly that they are capable of patient preparations necessary for 
modern global terrorism. And the effect of the knowledge that they are 
indeed preparing, although the U.S. has no information about where and 
how, causes the same morality exhaustion to the U.S. people, as the USS 
Enterprise CNN-covered  reaching the Asian shore causes to the Afghan 
people. Because, the fear is rooted in the same expectation of a strike that 
cannot be prevented. As in the cold war - where the conflict was 
symmetric - the fear of mutual assured destruction hurt both societies 
involved in the conflict, finally exhausting and destroying one (USSR), 
but leaving deep scars in social, economic and political tissue in the US, 
as well - now in the conflict with Al Qaeda - which is asymmetric - the 
fear of horrifying destruction that cannot be prevented remains the same, 
and on both sides the same. So, now, are we going to have the new 
deterrence policy? Terrorist fall-out shelter drills? How would be a treaty 
worked out in the case of asymmetric warfare? What would be 
equivalents? Air-force base for a terrorist cell? And could the 'other 
side' be trusted if it doesn't allow transparency (hmmm, this was the 
favorite question of the U.S. 'hawks' in the Soviet question as well)?

The Land of Two Holy Places and a quarter of world's oil reserves:
It is kind of embarrassingly obvious that Osama's ranting against US 
bombing or Iraq and about Israel policies towards Palestinians is pure 
politics - aimed to get more Arab votes of support for his real goal. 
Which is the destruction of Saudi royal family (that stripped him of his 
citizenship and sent him in exile) and removal of the U.S. presence in that 
country. Preferably, of course, he, or some of his pawns, would be the 
ruler. The Islamic purity serves to attract followers. But his eyes are on 
the real price: the immense oil riches below the Saudi sand. So, he is not 
stupid at all. And this plot seems quite old-fashioned, after all. It is just 
that by attacking Saudis directly Al Qaeda would risk killing a lot of 
innocent Wahabbi Arabs, lose support in the Arab world, and get the 
royal family closer to their U.S. protectors. So, no 'revolution' can be 
done. Instead, Al Qaeda decided to strike the U.S. and kill a lot of 
innocent 'infidels', win tacit support in the Arab world, and get the royal 
family scared away from their U.S. protectors and closer to their own 
demise. He perhaps figured that once he'd become a 'caliph', then 
controlling all that oil reserves, he'd also become a real pain in the ass 
and make the world run according to his rules. Well, that's just one more 
reason to get rid off the need for the environmentally perilous internal 
combustion engine and the dependence on a non-renewable resource of 
fossil fuels. There is one thing about Osama's caliphate that can't stop 
coming up in my mind - there was a comic book in former Yugoslavia 
about a Grand Vizier whose only dream was to once become 'a Caliph in 
place of Caliph' - so he would go around and in each episode scheme to 
get rid of the good, old Caliph, but he would always somehow, comically, 
fail - his name was Iznogud (is-no-good).

Landmines issue:
Afghanistan holds the world record with 10+ million landmines laid. But... 
"most of the world's landmines are held by countries that have declined 
to sign the [landmine ban] treaty. China alone is sitting on 110 millions 
landmines, almost half the total stockpile. Russia and America, two other 
determined non-joiners, have stockpiles estimated at 65 millions and 11 
millions respectively."
http://balkansnet.org/mines.html

Chechens are getting fried:
"This is the first time America has been offered the use of bases in the 
former Soviet Union. In apparent thanks, the Bush administration on 
September 26th strongly backed Putin's challenge to the Chechens to cut 
their ties to terrorist groups within 72 hours...."

Welcoming the state of terror at home:
Aschcroftism in the US:
"Mr Aschcroft wants discretion to detain foreigners held to pose a threat 
to national security. The detention would be without trial and with only 
minimal judicial oversight. Opponents think this would, in practice, make 
detention indefinite."
Aschcroftism in the UK:
"David Blunkett, the home secretary, has said darkly that new anti-
terrorism laws may create tension with the Human Rights Act."

Cleansing the sins of the United States:
(Indonesia's vice-president Hamzah Haz loud hope)
banning music - while the earlier published list of 1200 'banned' songs 
proved to be a hoax, there are extensive reports on music and 
entertainment industry imposing restrictions on songs they play - it is 
mostly self-censorship, internal corporate guidelines, with no 
government influence, of course - but indeed it serves as a loud 
testimony of the damage that the WTC disaster did to the free speech.
banning films - "[Hollywood] had to delay the release of several movies 
with storylines that were too topical for comfort" - again, it is industry 
self-regulating, afraid of causing the backlash among the conservative 
'moral majority' - which already objects to the content of Hollywood 
movies - should they go forward releasing the movies like the Collateral 
Damage at this time - by creating this fear in the heart of the freedom's 
marketing department (Hollywood), Al Qaeda won a significant victory, 
and Hamzah Haz may be happy in his narrow, selfish, puritanic hopes.

Tony Leon of South Africa's Democratic Alliance on not cleansing the 
sins of South Africa and the other various aspects of the ostrich 
perspective:
"Every week we have the equivalent number of people dying from AIDS 
as died in the World Trade Center bombing. But our president denies the 
pervasiveness, the cause and the treatment of AIDS."

Terror pays (it indeed appears to be more winners than losers):
- sanctions against Pakistan and India (that were imposed because of 
their nuclear tests) are lifted
- $3 billion in bilateral loans to Pakistan are rescheduled, more relief on its 
$37B external debt is forthcoming and yet another, more concessionary, 
loan from IMF ($2.5B) is on their way
- Jordan is getting IMF loan, too
- even Sudan, which voting rights in IMF were suspended, because it 
was so far behind in its repayments, could be eligible for new loans 
within a few years (geee, what a generosity!!!)
- special trade preferences extended to Indonesia by the U.S.
- World Bank is "already thinking" of potential projects in Uzbekistan 
and other Central Asian countries (where is all this money suddenly 
coming from?)
- defense industry stocks are rising - but not only military hardware sales 
is up: the sale of handguns is up, too
- the oil price, that was high whole summer, is falling down sharply: it 
"even dipped briefly below $20"  
- manufacturers of American flags can't meet the demand - 50 million 
flags were sold in the aftermath of the disaster - 10% of them were 
manufactured in China, Taiwan and S. Korea
- gas masks, protective clothing and antibiotics fly off the shelves in 
New York city
- psycho-therapists are booked weeks in advance
- demand for bomb-sniffer dogs soared
- New York landlords are a happy bunch, too - with 9% of office space 
lost, the rents are going to be even higher (as if they were not already 
outrageous)

Other good news:
There was no traffic-jams in New York after the attacks and it was easy to 
find parking on Manhattan - with vehicles being banned crossing the 
bridges and tunnels into Manhattan.
Southwest Airlines announced special cheap fares this week.
The sound of success in Macedonia:
"...a single ethnic Albanian shot dead at a checkpoint. 'A resounding 
success,' said Lord Robertson."

("Quotes" and data are from The Economist, September 29 issue, unless 
noted otherwise) 

Ivo Skoric

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From: "Ivo Skoric" <ivo {AT} reporters.net>
Date: Mon, 1 Oct 2001 19:35:43 -0400
Subject: Re: British journalist arrested by taliban

I thought how it should be easy for women reporters to get in - I 
mean if all women are completely covered, then it should be easy 
to get in and out of the country as a woman. But the Seekers of 
Knowledge learned the lesson with the BBC crew, so now they are 
probably peeking under the 'burquas' , thus breaking their own silly 
laws.
ivo

date sent:      	Mon, 1 Oct 2001 14:09:15 -0400
send reply to:  	International Justice Watch Discussion List
             	<JUSTWATCH-L {AT} LISTSERV.ACSU.BUFFALO.EDU>
from:           	Steve Albert <stevealbert {AT} VIDEOTRON.CA>
subject:        	British journalist arrested by taliban
to:             	JUSTWATCH-L {AT} LISTSERV.ACSU.BUFFALO.EDU

Reporters with Borders/RSF Reporters Sans Frontières

British journalist arrested by taliban

In a letter addressed to the Taliban Foreign Minister, Moulvi Wakil Ahmad
Motawakil, Reporters Without Borders (RSF-Reporters Sans Frontières)
protested against the arrest of journalist Yvonne Ridley of the British
Sunday Express newspaper. "The reporter was only exercising her right to
inform international public opinion about the situation inside Afghanistan",
said Robert Ménard, General Secretary of RSF. The organisation urged the
minister to ensure the release of the British journalist and her two guides.
"Arresting reporters who are only providing first hand accounts of the
situation of the Afghan people is not the best way to reassure international
critics," added M. Ménard.

According to information obtained by RSF, on 28 September 2001 the Taliban
militia arrested journalist Yvonne Ridley in Daur Buba district (near
Jalalabad, 15 kilometres from the Pakistani border). The journalist with two
"guides" of unknown nationality, was wearing a burqah, the Afghan attire and
veil imposed on women by the Taliban. According to the Afghan Islamic Press
agency that provided the information, the Taliban also seized a camera. The
authorities accused the journalist of having entered Afghanistan
"illegally". She allegedly had no passport with her. Yvonne Ridley is now
detained in Jalalabad.

The news editor of the tabloid Sunday Express, Jim Murray, contacted by RSF,
confirmed that Yvonne Ridley crossed the border on 26 September with two
guides, one of them a driver who claimed to know the area "very well". She
had not contacted the newspaper since arriving in Afghanistan, although she
had a mobile phone with her. Her newspaper described Yvonne Ridley, 41, as a
very experienced reporter who had covered several conflicts. She had been in
Pakistan for several days, with a colleague from the Daily Express, to cover
the situation in the country and at the border. Jim Murrray told RSF he had
no direct information about Yvonne Ridley's current situation.

Yvonne Ridley is the first foreign journalist to have been arrested by the
Taliban since the 11 September 2001. Hundreds of reporters are now in
Pakistan and some of them have been trying to enter Afghanistan. Last week,
a BBC crew, dressed as Afghan women, managed to get inside Afghanistan and
film in villages near the border.

In the report "The taliban and the media" published in September 2000, RSF
wrote: "In August 2000 the authorities introduced strict regulations to
cover the work of foreign reporters and special correspondents. On arrival
in Kabul, they are given a list of "21 points to be respected". The first is
to give a true account of "what is really happening in Afghanistan" and not
to "offend the people's feelings". Next comes a long litany of
recommendations which might amount to no more than bureaucratic harassment
in other countries but which testify to the Afghan authorities' distrust of
the foreign press and their determination to maintain strict control of
reporters on Afghan soil. A document published by the information and
culture department states that foreign journalists are not allowed to "go
into private houses", "interview an Afghan woman without the department's
permission" or "photograph or film people". Journalists are also supposed to
tell the department when they travel outside Kabul and to respect the
country's "no-go areas". (Š) No penalties for the infringement of these
regulations are specified in the documents issued by the authorities.

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From: "Ivo Skoric" <ivo {AT} reporters.net>
Date: Mon, 1 Oct 2001 19:34:17 -0400
Subject: Bosnians arrest terror suspects


The men with the box-cutters seem to be persistent. Are they 
under some sort of hypnosis? But in Bosnia nowadays you don't 
even have to be at the airport to be arrested if you carry the box-
cutter.
ivo

------- Forwarded Message Follows -------

SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina (AP) - Several people suspected of links to
global terrorism were arrested over the past few days, including two who were
found with box cutters near Sarajevo's airport, Bosnian authorities said
Monday.

The arrests were made by Bosnian police and by SFOR, the NATO-led
peacekeeping force deployed in Bosnia following the 1992-95 war.

SFOR troops arrested four people on Sept. 25 and 26 in the Sarajevo suburb of
Ilidza, SFOR spokesman Capt. Daryl Morrell said Monday. He did not release
further details, but Bosnian television said Sunday night that two of the
four were foreign citizens and the others were Bosnians.

Bosnian television identified the two Bosnian suspects as Nihad Karcic and
Armin Harbaus and said they were employed by the Saudi humanitarian
organization Makath. According to the report, SFOR also seized documents,
computers and $60,000 in cash from the organization.

SFOR said in a statement later Monday that no illegal weapons or ammunition
were found.

Bosnian police made several separate arrests last week, Federation Interior
Minister Muhamed Besic said Monday.

Some of those arrested were later released, but others remained in detention
as suspects ``who could be involved in terrorism,'' Besic said. He refused to
elaborate.

A high-ranking Bosnian government official told The Associated Press on
condition of anonymity that two of the people arrested in the last few days
were foreign citizens from Islamic countries. They were apparently found
close to the Sarajevo airport with box cutters similar to the ones used by
the Sept. 11 hijackers in the United States.

``We are working together with SFOR and other international organizations and
the operation is ongoing,'' Besic said.

The Interior Ministry also asked five Pakistani citizens in Bosnia on tourist
visas to leave the country, Besic said. They left Sarajevo on Sunday.

Thousands of Islamic fighters arrived in Bosnia at the beginning of its war
to help Bosnian Muslims fight Serbs and Croats. Most of them left after the
war when NATO troops deployed, but a small number stayed behind and settled
here, obtaining Bosnian citizenship.

Those who remained are now under tighter monitoring by the Bosnian police.

Last week, the interior minister of the Muslim-Croat federation, Muhamed
Besic, said that ``trustworthy intelligence sources'' suggested about 70
associates of Osama bin Laden, the main suspect for the Sept. 11 attacks,
could flee Afghanistan for refuge in Bosnia.

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From: "Ivo Skoric" <ivo {AT} reporters.net>
Date: Mon, 1 Oct 2001 19:35:36 -0400
Subject: (Fwd) FW: A Perspective on Afghanistan

This is interesting. I can't vouch for him having been in Afghanistan 
or at West Point, but what he wrote does make sense, even based 
just on what is by now public knowledge about the region and 
people there. 

The author ostensibly worked for the UN's mine action program in 
Afghanistan.  That program was the largest civilian employer in the 
country with over 5,000 persons clearing mines and UXO. Another 
interesting statistics about Afghanistan.

ivo
------- Forwarded Message Follows -------

subject: A Perspective on Afghanistan

subj: Grunt Special *IMPORTANT * READ* 
date: 09/28/2001 10:46:47 AM US Mountain Standard Time 
from: SendMeHack 
bcc: CFSands 



         THIS IS AN IMPORTANT READ.  PLEASE GIVE IT MAX CIRCULATION.  TRY 
TO GET THIS DOCUMENT IN THE HANDS OF THE POLICY AND DECISION MAKERS. 

         KNOWING YOUR ENEMY IS THE MOST IMPORTANT KEY TO WAR.  THIS LETTER
WAS WRITTEN BY A VERY BRIGHT AND AFGHANISTAN STREET-SMART WEST POINT GRAD
TO HIS CLASSMATES.  HE KNOWS THE TERRAIN, THE ENEMY, AND THE WEATHER IN
AFGHANISTAN FROM BEING THERE, NOT FROM BOOKS. 

         BURN HIS WORDS AND ADVICE INTO YOUR BRAINS. 

         WE'LL WIN -- IF WE ALL HANG IN THERE UNTIL IT'S OVER OVER THERE. 

         HACK 
     _____________________________________________________________ 

         CLASSMATES: 
  
Many of you are probably not aware that I was one of the last American
citizens to have spent a great deal of time in Afghanistan.  I was first
there in 1993, providing relief and assistance to refugees along the Tajik
border, and in this capacity have traveled all along the border region
between the two countries.   

In 1998 and 1999, I was the Deputy Program Manager for the UN's 
mine action program in Afghanistan.  This program is the largest 
civilian employer in the country with over 5,000 persons clearing 
mines and UXO.  In this later capacity, I was somewhat ironically 
engaged in a "Holy War," as decreed by the Taliban, against the 
evil of landmines; and by a special proclamation of Mullah Omar, 
all those who might have died in this effort were considered to be 
"martyrs" -- even an "infidel" like myself.     

The mine action program is the most respected relief effort in the country,
and because of this I had the opportunity to travel extensively without too
much interference or restriction.  I still have extensive contacts in the
area and among the Afghan community and read a great deal on the subject. 

I had wanted to write earlier and share some of my perspectives, but quite
frankly, I have been a bit too popular in DC this past week and have not
had time.  Dr. Tony Kern's comments were excellent and I would like to use
them as a basis for sharing some observations. 

First, he is absolutely correct.  This war is about will, resolve and
character.  I want to touch on that later, but first I want to share some
comments about our "enemy." 

Our enemy is not the people of Afghanistan.  The country is devastated
beyond what most of us can imagine.  The vast majority of the people live
day-to-day, hand-to-mouth in abject conditions of poverty, misery and
deprivation.  Less than 30% of the men are literate, the women even less.
The country is exhausted, and desperately wants something like peace. They
know very little of the world at large, and have no access to information
or knowledge that would counter what they are being told by the Taliban.
They have nothing left, nothing that is except for their pride. 

Who is our enemy?  Well, our enemy is a group of non-Afghans, often
referred to by the Afghans as "Arabs" and a fanatical group of religious
leaders and their military cohort, the Taliban.  The non-Afghan contingent
came from all over the Islamic world to fight in the war against the
Russians. Many came using a covert network created with assistance by our
own government. 

OBL (as Osama bin Laden was referred to by us in the country at the time)
restored this network to bring in more fighters, this time to support the
Taliban in their civil war against the former Mujehdeen.  Over time, this
military support along with financial support has allowed OBL and his
"Arabs" to co-opt significant government activities and leaders.  OBL is
the "inspector general" of Taliban armed forces; his bodyguards protect
senior Talib leaders and he has built a system of deep bunkers for the
Taliban, which were designed to withstand cruise missile strikes (uhm,
where did he learn to do that?).  His forces basically rule the southern
city of Kandahar. 

This high-profile presence of OBL and his "Arabs" has, in the last 2 years
or so, started to generate a great deal of resentment on the part of the
local Afghans.  At the same time, the legitimacy of the Taliban regime has
started to decrease as it has failed to end the war, as local humanitarian
conditions have worsened and as "cultural" restrictions have become even
harsher. 
  
It is my assessment that most Afghans no longer support the Taliban.
Indeed the Taliban have recently had a very difficult time getting recruits
for their forces and have had to rely more and more on non-Afghans, either
from Pushtun tribes in Pakistan or from OBL.  OBL and the Taliban, absent
any US action, were probably on their way to sharing the same fate that all
other outsiders and outside doctrines have experienced in Afghanistan --
defeat and dismemberment. 
  
During the Afghan war with the Soviets, much attention was paid to the
martial prowess of the Afghans.  We were all at West Point at the time, and
most of us had high-minded idealistic thoughts about how we would all want
to go help the brave "freedom fighters" in their struggle against the
Soviets. 
  
Those concepts were naive to the extreme.  The Afghans, while never
conquered as a nation, are not invincible in battle.  A "good" Afghan
battle is one that makes a lot of noise and light.  Basic military skills
are rudimentary and clouded by cultural constraints that no matter what, a
warrior should never lose his honor.  Indeed, firing from the prone is
considered distasteful (but still done).  

Traditionally, the Afghan order of battle is very feudal in nature, with
fighters owing allegiance to a "commander," and this person owing
allegiance upwards and so on and so on.  Often such allegiance is secured
by payment.  And while the Taliban forces have changed this somewhat, many
of the units in the Taliban army are there because they are being paid to
be there.  All such groups have very strong loyalties along ethnic and
tribal lines.   

Again, the concept of having a place of "honor" and "respect" is of
paramount importance and blood feuds between families and tribes can last
for generations over a perceived or actual slight.  That is one reason why
there were 7 groups of Mujehdeen fighting the Russians.  It is a very
difficult task to form and keep united a large bunch of Afghans into a
military formation.  The "real" stories that have come out of the war
against the Soviets are very enlightening and a lot different from our
fantastic visions as cadets.   

When the first batch of Stingers came in and were given to one Mujehdeen
group, another group -- supposedly on the same side -- attacked the first
group and stole the Stingers, not so much because they wanted to use them,
but because having them was a matter of prestige. 

Many larger coordinated attacks that advisers tried to conduct failed when
all the various Afghan fighting groups would give up their assigned tasks
(such as blocking or overwatch) and instead would join the assault group in
order to seek glory.    

In comparison to Vietnam, the intensity of combat and the rate of
fatalities were lower for all involved. 

As you can tell from above, it is my assessment that these guys are not
THAT good in a purely military sense and the "Arabs" probably even less so
than the Afghans.  So why is it that they have never been conquered?  It
goes back to Dr. Kern's point about will.    

During their history, the only events that have managed to form any
semblance of unity among the Afghans, is the desire to fight foreign
invaders.  And in doing this, the Afghans have been fanatical.  The
Afghans' greatest military strength is the ability to endure hardships that
would, in all probability, kill most Americans and enervate the resolve of
all but the most elite military units.   

The physical difficulties of fighting in Afghanistan, the terrain, the
weather, and the harshness are all weapons that our enemies will use to
their advantage and use well.  (NOTE: For you military planner types and
armchair generals: around November 1st, most road movement is impossible,
in part because all the roads used by the Russians have been destroyed and
air movement will be problematic at best).  Also, those fighting us are not
afraid to fight.  OBL and others do not think the US has the will or the
stomach for a fight.  Indeed after the absolutely inane missile strikes of
1998, the overwhelming consensus was that we were cowards who would not
risk one life in face-to-face combat.   

Rather than demonstrating our might and acting as a deterrent, that action
and others of the not so recent past, have reinforced the perception that
the US does not have any "will" and that we are morally and spiritually
corrupt. 

Our challenge is to play to the weaknesses of our enemy, notably their
propensity for internal struggles, the distrust between the
extremists/Arabs and the majority of Afghans, their limited ability to
fight coordinated battles, and their lack of external support.  More
importantly through is that we have to take steps not to play to their
strengths, which would be to unite the entire population against us by
increasing their suffering or killing innocents, to get bogged down trying
to hold terrain, or to get into a battle of attrition chasing up and down
mountain valleys. 

I have been asked how I would fight the war.  This is a big question and
well beyond my pay grade or expertise.  And while I do not want to second
guess current plans or start an academic debate, I would share the
following from what I know about Afghanistan and the Afghans.   

First, I would give the Northern Alliance a big wad of cash so that they
can buy off a chunk of the Taliban army before winter.  Second, also with
this cash, I would pay some guys to kill some of the Taliban leadership,
making it look like an inside job to spread distrust and build on existing
discord.  Third I would support the Northern alliance with military assets,
but not take it over or adopt so high a profile as to undermine its
legitimacy in the eyes of most Afghans. 

Fourth would be to give massive amounts of humanitarian aid and assistance
to the Afghans in Pakistan in order to demonstrate our goodwill and to give
these guys a reason to live rather than the choice between dying of
starvation or dying fighting the "infidel."  Fifth, start a series of
public works projects in areas of the country not under Taliban control
(these are much more than the press reports) again to demonstrate goodwill
and that improvements come with peace.  Sixth, I would consider very
carefully putting any female service members into Afghanistan proper --
sorry to the females of our class but within that culture a man who allows
a women to fight for him has zero respect, and we will need respect to gain
the cooperation of Afghan allies.  No Afghan will work with a man who
fights with women.   

I would hold off from doing anything too dramatic in the new term, keeping
a low level of covert action and pressure up over the winter, allowing this
pressure to force open the fissions around the Taliban that were already
developing -- expect that they will quickly turn on themselves and on OBL.   

We can pick up the pieces next summer, or the summer after.    

When we do "pick up" the pieces, I would make sure that we do so on the
ground, "man to man." 

While I would never want to advocate American causalities, it is essential
that we communicate to OBL and all others watching that we can and will
"engage and destroy the enemy in close combat."  As mentioned above, we
should not try to gain or hold terrain, but Infantry operations against the
enemy are essential.  There can be no excuses after the defeat or lingering
doubts in the minds of our enemies regarding American resolve and nothing,
nothing will communicate this except for ground combat.   

And once this is all over, unlike in 1989, the US must provide continued
long-term economic assistance to rebuild the country. 

While I have written too much already, I think it is also important to
share a few things on the subject of brutality.  Our opponents will not
abide by the Geneva conventions.  There will be no prisoners unless there
is a chance that they can be ransomed or made part of a local prisoner
exchange. 
  
During the war with the Soviets, videotapes were made of communist
prisoners having their throats slit.  Indeed, there did exist a "trade" in
prisoners so that souvenir videos could be made by outsiders to take home
with them. 
   
This practice has spread to the Philippines, Bosnia and Chechnya where
similar videos are being made today and can be found on the web for those
so inclined.  We can expect our soldiers to be treated the same way.
Sometime during this war I expect that we will see videos of US prisoners
having their heads cut off.   

Our enemies will do this not only to demonstrate their "strength" to their
followers, but also to cause us to overreact, to seek wholesale revenge
against civilian populations, and to turn this into the world-wide
religious war that they desperately want. 
  
This will be a test of our will and of our character. (For further
collaboration of this type of activity please read Kipling). 
  
This will not be a pretty war; it will be a war of wills, of resolve and
somewhat conversely of compassion and of a character.  Towards our enemies,
we must show a level of ruthlessness that has not been part of our military
character for a long time.  But to those who are not our enemies we must
show a level of compassion probably unheard of during war.  We should do
this not for humanitarian reasons, even though there are many, but for
shrewd military logic. 
  
For anyone who is still reading this way too long note, thanks for your
patience.  I will try to answer any questions that may arise in a more
concise manner. 

  Thanks,  Richard Kidd 




Owen Beith
Freelance Translator ES/FR/PT->EN
London E2 9JG
+44 (0)20 8981 9879 

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