That Foggy Mountain Breakdown–Afghanistan

There is a wealth of opinions on the breakdown of the talks between the US and the Taleban…..all said the common opinion is that Trump was right cancel these talks for it gives the US time to revamp its Afghan strategy…..

U.S. President Donald Trump announced on Saturday that he had called off talks with the Taliban at Camp David. The meeting had probably been arranged to finalise a deal for the start of a U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan.

The deal apparently had four main pillars: a Taliban guarantee not to allow foreign fighters to use Afghanistan to launch attacks outside the country; the withdrawal of U.S. and NATO forces; an intra-Afghan dialogue; and a permanent ceasefire.

The question marks over that plan are the credibility of any Taliban commitments, the exclusion of the Afghan government from the peace talks, and what happens next.

These problems are well known to any observer of Afghanistan and certainly to the U.S. lead negotiator, Zalmay Khalilzad. He may well have reached the best deal he could with the Taliban, but that doesn’t mean it was one worth taking. Fortunately, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Trump seem to have a perspective that’s different from the negotiating team’s.

https://www.realcleardefense.com/articles/2019/09/11/the_breakdown_of_ustaliban_talks_buys_time_to_reset_the_afghanistan_strategy_114737.html

Was Trump right to cancel these talks?

The new peace agreement thus far, painstakingly negotiated by U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad – a skilled former ambassador to Afghanistan, Iraq and the United Nations – was between the U.S. and the Taliban only. The Camp David meeting was supposed to be a turning point, wherein the Afghan government of President Ashraf Ghani and the Taliban could come together, echoing former President Bill Clinton’s bringing together of the Palestinian Liberation Organization and the government of Israel in 2000, also at Camp David. (That attempt, too, died stillborn.)

The deal on the table reportedly included a U.S. withdrawal of its 14,000 troops, including a down-payment of around 5,000 leaving within a few months after the accord was completed. The Taliban were to provide guarantees that there would be no return to creating “safe havens” for groups like al-Qaeda and the Islamic State (which is rising in prominence within Afghanistan). There was also a provision to free thousands of Taliban prisoners being held by the Afghan government. All of this was to be cemented with a prolonged cease-fire – and it was that portion of the agreement that the Taliban failed to honor, continuing their attacks and killing another U.S. service member last week.

https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2019-09-09/trump-was-right-to-cancel-the-taliban-talks

One of the media’s main sticking points is that there was NO Afghan government representation…..but once the US takes it on the lame the Taleban will once again become the government in power in Afghanistan.

Really the only thing to worry about is to take measures to assure the US that there will be no safe haven for terrorists like AQ and ISIS.

The governmental form matters not….for Afghanistan will be Afghanistan.

“Lego Ergo Scribo”

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9/11 Never Happened!

This is NOT some lame ass conspiracy…it is a ‘what if’……so it should be ‘what if 9/11 never happened”?

Today is the day when we take a few minutes to observe a silence for those people that perished in the attacks….

I do like to look at history and thinking of some sort of alternative…..9/11 is no different…..

How different would the world be today if there had been no 9/11? What if the attacks had been foiled or bungled? One obvious answer is that Americans would probably care a lot less than they do about the rest of the world.

Back on the eve of destruction, in early September 2001, only 13 percent of Americans believed that the U.S. should be “the single world leader.” And fewer than a third favored higher defense spending. Now those figures are naturally much higher. Right?

Wrong. According to the most recent surveys, just 12 percent of Americans today think the U.S. should be the sole superpower—almost exactly the same proportion as on the eve of the 9/11 attacks. The share of Americans who want to see higher spending on national security is actually down to 26 percent. Paradoxically, Americans today seem less interested in the wider world than they were before the Twin Towers were felled.

https://www.newsweek.com/what-if-911-had-never-happened-67373

What would the news have been if the attack had not happened?

Everyone remembers exactly where they were and what they did on 9/11.

But what do you remember about the day before — or the news the early-morning of?

Not much, we’re guessing.

Nothing that happened the day before 9/11 — and nothing that was set to make news before 8:47 a.m. on 9/11 — seemed remotely relevant in the aftermath.

If the attacks had never happened, here’s what you would have been talking about on 9/11.

https://www.businessinsider.com/september-11-2001-2011-9

Now that was interesting…….. the crap that would have made the morning news if the 9/11 attacks had been canceled or thwarted….

Learn Stuff!

“Lego Ergo Scribo”

Aftermath Of 9/11

Today we set about remembering the deadly attacks on 9/11…..

We always try to remember those that have perished in the dastardly attacks on 9/11 and we seldom think about those that have been ass deep in fighting since that day.

You could say that we have a Veterans Day to remember our vets but that is for ALL vets and the vets from the War on Terror have few that remember their sacrifices….with the exception of the families that have to pay for the damage these wars have done.

Those who went to war after Sept. 1, 2001, are different than the generations of veterans who went before them, and are “more likely to bear the scars of battle,” both physical and mental.

“Their collective experiences — from deployment to combat to the transition back to civilian life — are markedly different from those who served in previous eras,” according to a unique survey by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center, released Tuesday on the eve of the 18th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

“Roughly half of post-9/11 veterans (49%) have had combat experience, compared with 24% of veterans who served only before 9/11,” the survey found.

The survey of more than 1,200 veterans and, separately, more than 1,000 adult civilians examined the veterans’ own assessments of what they experienced in battle and the transition out of uniform, contrasting that with the civilians’ views of the returning service members.

https://www.military.com/daily-news/2019/09/10/post-9-11-vets-bear-more-mental-physical-battle-scars-prior-generations-pew-study.html

Sadly the American people will remember the attacks but little thought for those people that are fighting these endless wars.

The soldiers that fight these wars should have their say….

An important new consensus is forming against America’s endless wars, shaped by an important constituency: the military veterans who have sacrificed so much to fight them. A Pew Research poll of veterans released contained results that contradict the cherished talking points of the bipartisan Washington foreign policy blob that sees “leadership” and “engagement” as being synonymous with bombing and regime change.

Sixty-four percent of veterans said the war in Iraq was not worth fighting when the costs to America are weighed against the ostensible benefits to the region and our national security. Just 33 percent concluded that George W. Bush’s Baghdad democracy adventure was worthwhile in retrospect.

That’s not much different than the prevailing view among the American public, where 62 percent said the Iraq war wasn’t worth it versus 32 percent who still think it should have been fought. Perhaps more surprisingly, 58 percent of veterans believe the Afghanistan war—now America’s longest, despite two consecutive presidents of both parties advocating retrenchment—wasn’t worth fighting. That’s only a point behind the 59 percent of Americans as a whole who say the same.

Veterans Reach Their Tipping Point Against Our Post-9/11 Wars

If you are going to remember the attacks and the deaths on 9/11 then please take a few moments to think about those brave souls that have been fighting and dying for 18 years because of those attacks.

And we fight on….and on……

https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2019/sep/10/another-unhappy-september-11-anniversary/

They say (whoever they are) that 9/11 changed everything…..but is that accurate?

America’s news media have focused for days and more on the 10th anniversary of the terror attacks of September 11, 2001. The dominant, inevitable, yet misleading theme of the coverage: 9/11 “changed everything.”

“When Everything Changed,” the Washington Post declares on its front page today.

“The Day Everything Changed,” says the Star-Telegram of Fort Worth, Texas.

“A Decade of Change,” declares the Press of Atlantic City.

“Forever changed?” asks the lead headline in today’s Chattanooga Times Free Press.

That interrogative is inadvertently perceptive, suggesting as it does an important if largely ignored counter-narrative about 9/11:

It is striking how little, fundamentally, has changed in American life because of the attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people in lower Manhattan, at the Pentagon, and near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

A counter-narrative: 9/11 did not ‘change everything’

A few weeks ago Congress finally passed a bill that benefited the first responders…sadly just in time for some political advantage…..think not?

Then why did it take so long to do the right thing?

“Lego Ergo Scribo”

ISIS–The Return

Now appearing in a geopolitical theater near you.

These days with the craziness around the issues for the 2020 election we do not hear so much about that almost defeated foe, ISIS.

But guess what?

They may not be slinking away into oblivion after all….

The Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham (ISIS) is not defeated despite the loss of the territory it claimed as its so-called ‘Caliphate’ in Iraq and Syria. It is stronger today than its predecessor Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) was in 2011, when the U.S. withdrew from Iraq. AQI had around 700-1000 fighters then. ISIS had as many as 30,000 fighters in Iraq and Syria in August 2018 according to a Defense Intelligence Agency estimate. ISIS built from the small remnant left in 2011 an army large enough to recapture Fallujah, Mosul, and other cities in Iraq and dominate much of eastern Syria in only three years. It will recover much faster and to a much more dangerous level from the far larger force it still has today.

http://www.understandingwar.org/report/isiss-second-comeback-assessing-next-isis-insurgency

The Pentagon has issued a report that states that there is a major struggling dealing with a resurgent ISIS in the Middle East…..

Between April and June 2019, the Islamic State terror group “solidified its insurgent capabilities in Iraq and was resurging in Syria,” the Department of Defense Inspector General Quarterly Report says.

The report references significant changes in the region. In addition to the president’s sudden announcement of a drawdown of U.S. troops in Syria -– against the counsel of military advisers -– the report raises concerns that ISIS is gaining a renewed foothold in Iraq because U.S. personnel there were evacuated from diplomatic posts due to rising tensions with Iran. Experts told NBC News that as a result, that also has led to less surveillance of ISIS activity in Iraq.

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/military/u-s-backed-forces-struggling-quell-isis-insurgency-syria-iraq-n1040186

While the media and the public chases the shiny objects that the government throws out there…ISIS is returning to prominence in the Middle East as well as around the world in regions like Afghanistan, South Asia, etc.

ISIS and al-Qaeda are rebuilding and should not be taken lightly….that happen before and we know how that ended don’t we?

The problem as I see it is that we are using tactics from 50 years ago….we need an upgrade……

I am in my second year of teaching a U.S. CT policy course to adult students ages 50-90. I have learned a few lessons from trying to explain our CT policies since the 1970s. The biggest lesson is that while administrations change the headline for our policy each time the other political party takes the helm; from “combating global terrorism” (Nixon and Republicans) to using a “law enforcement model” (Carter and Democrats), they really don’t change the underlying policy. Each administration since Richard Nixon has actually looked at the previous polices and kept the concepts they think are most important. The strategy only gets richer and more detailed. So, the U.S. counterterrorism policy hasn’t been re-written every 4 years anew; instead its been steadily evolving and trying to adapt to our enemies use of terror. That’s oversimplifying it for sure, but I want to get us to the current solutions.

https://news.clearancejobs.com/2019/08/08/the-future-of-countering-terrorism-ideas-not-bullets/

After 18+ years we are still reacting to the so-called jihad…..

While the media talks mindlessly about Greenland an old danger, no an old evil, is returning…..but why is it returning?

A report from the Pentagon inspector general found that President Donald Trump’s decision to rapidly pull troops out of Syria and divert attention from diplomacy in Iraq has inadvertently aided the Islamic State’s regrouping in Syria and Iraq.

The Department of Defense’s quarterly report to Congress on the effectiveness of the US Operation Inherent Resolve mission said that “ISIS continued its transition from a territory-holding force to an insurgency in Syria, and it intensified its insurgency in Iraq” — even though Trump said ISIS was defeated and the caliphate quashed, The Wall Street Journal reported.

https://www.businessinsider.com/pentagon-blames-trump-for-return-of-isis-syria-and-iraq-2019-8

Now that is a pro-war excuse…..but at least it can explain the new rise…….

Be Smart!

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“Lego Ergo Scribo”

Terrorism And Its Fuel

With all the drama in DC (personally I think it is mofre reality TV than a descent drama) the whole topic of terrorism has taken a back seat to the players and their silly, silly rhetoric.

Since I write about foreign policy and national defense I am always reading stuff that most MSM tries to ignore.

We all know what terrorism is, right?

We know what the consequences are for not taking it seriously.

But truly what fuels these cells hatred?

Since September 11th 2001, the U.S. media and government have demonized Muslims and fetishized the US military so much that many Americans do not understand what a devastating impact our foreign policy has had on the Muslim world. It is the duty of every American to question their government’s action, we need to get this idea out of our head that patriotism means blind support for our military adventures in the Middle East.

Osama bin Laden has been painted as a maniac, a man so insane and blind with rage that he toppled the Twin Towers because Allah told him to hate Western culture. But the fact is bin Laden made his motivation for attacking us very clear: US intervention in the Middle East. If we don’t address the root cause of terrorism this cycle of violence will never end.

Bin Laden’s 1996 fatwa was entitled, “Declaration of Jihad Against the Americans Occupying the Land of the Two Holiest Sites (Expel the infidels from the Arab Peninsula).” The title makes bin Laden’s goal clear. After the Soviet Union was driven out of Afghanistan and collapsed at the end of the Cold War, bin Laden turned his eye on the United States. The US support for Israel long angered the rich Saudi, but it was US troops occupying the Arabian Peninsula that really stoked his rage.

It’s About Time We Recognize What Fuels Terrorism

Keep in mind that geopolitics has a 3rd law…..”For every action there is an equal and opposition reaction”….sounds familiar right?

Knee jerk reactions to world affairs leads to interventionism and war….neither of which does anything but make terrorists stronger.

“Lego Ergo Scribo”

Let’s Talk Terrorism (Again)

A subject that gets little attention these days is that of terrorism…..the media is too consumed with the 2020 elections and whatever silly utterances come from the mouth of our Dear Supreme Leader……

IST would like to keep a finger on the pulse of our potential threats…..most namely AQ and ISIS…..

ISIS has been defeated according to the words of Trump…..sadly that is BS….ISIS doing what AQ did after Afghanistan in 2001….re-group and re-direct energies…..

The Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham (ISIS) is not defeated despite the loss of the territory it claimed as its so-called ‘Caliphate’ in Iraq and Syria. It is stronger today than its predecessor Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) was in 2011, when the U.S. withdrew from Iraq. AQI had around 700-1000 fighters then.  ISIS had as many as 30,000 fighters in Iraq and Syria in August 2018 according to a Defense Intelligence Agency estimate. ISIS built from the small remnant left in 2011 an army large enough to recapture Fallujah, Mosul, and other cities in Iraq and dominate much of eastern Syria in only three years.  It will recover much faster and to a much more dangerous level from the far larger force it still has today.

[Download the full report here.]

http://www.understandingwar.org/report/isiss-second-comeback-assessing-next-isis-insurgency

ISIS has eyes on South Asia……

the Islamic State (IS) formally announced the creation of wilayah (provinces) in Pakistan and India. The announcement was made by the Islamic State’s media front, the Amaq News Agency.

The two provinces have been carved out of the erstwhile Islamic State of Khorasan Province (ISKP), which encompassed the Af-Pak border region. ISKP, which was founded in January 2015, months after IS had announced its so called caliphate in the Iraq and Levant, spearheaded all activity in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and was the source of IS-affiliated militant activity in India as well.

The two IS provinces in India and Pakistan were announced in the immediate aftermath of the group claiming responsibility for gun attacks on security forces in Shopian district of Indian-administered Kashmir. During the same week, IS claimed a similar gun attack in Mastung district of Pakistan’s Balochistan province.

https://thediplomat.com/2019/06/islamic-state-comes-for-south-asia/

Keep in mind that old saying…”You can kill the messanger but not the message”…..

“Lego Ergo Scribo”

Learn Stuff!

 

Where The Hell Is “Sahel”?

I am a student of history and of conflict…….I try to let my readers know what is happening around the world because eventually the US may be fighting yet another war.

I have a friend that studies the region in Africa known as the “Sahel”…..but most of my readers will be asking WTF?

Let me help out….

Image result for sahel

I have written about this region on occasion but not in-depth…..most of mine has been about the deaths of American SOF troops or the terror that is Boko Haram….but there is so much more to this region that some small posts of mine.

I introduced my reader to the “Sahel” when I reported on the deaths of American soldiers in Mali and Niger.

There is so much going on in this region with the US and France using soldiers to try and control the developing situations.

thousands of miles away, in the deserts and scrublands of West Africa’s Sahel – a semi-arid belt of land on the southern edge of the Sahara – another jihadist insurgency has been spreading like wildfire, with far less international attention.

The civilian toll in numbers

  • Civilian fatalities rose 7,000 percent in Burkina Faso, 500 percent in Niger, and 300 percent in Mali compared to the previous year
  • 440,000 people displaced by conflict, a five-fold increase over the previous year
  • 1.8 million people face food insecurity
  • 5.1 million people require humanitarian assistance
  • 157 men, women, and children killed in March in one attack in Mali

In recent months, a surge in violence in Mali, Burkina Faso, and Niger – three Sahelian countries with shared borders and common problems – has left more than 440,000 people displaced and 5,000 dead, as militants – some with links to al-Qaeda and IS – extend their grip across the region.

https://www.thenewhumanitarian.org/in-depth/sahel-flames-Burkina-Faso-Mali-Niger-militancy-conflict

The UN has isolated several problems other than the rise in terrorist activity……food, environmental, fragile economies as well as political instability……

https://www.un.org/africarenewal/magazine/december-2013/sahel-one-region-many-crises

Let’s be honest the Sahel is quickly becoming a hot bed for terrorist activity……

Violent extremist organizations in the Central Sahel (the Fezzan in Libya’s south, Niger and the Lake Chad Basin) are exploiting environmental change, economic grievances, and longstanding social cleavages to recruit and expand. United States Africa Command is explicitly tasked with countering significant terrorist threats but fluctuating resources and underuse of diplomatic and economic tools risks allowing extremists to consolidate their gains and establish safe havens.

https://www.realcleardefense.com/articles/2019/07/08/assessment_of_rising_extremism_in_the_central_sahel_114562.html

I admit that this region does not get the copy it deserves here on IST……a situation I shall try to rectify.

This is a region that the US has entered into with our military and that may not be the best way to handle events in these countries.

“Lego Ergo Scribo”