Afghanistan War

Soon it will be summer in Afghanistan and so the per-usual Taliban offensive.

I have some friends that side (South African). Some of them took leave recently so they can rest before their return, before the coming “season”. Most of them work for contractors. The pay is damn good and you can’t really spend that side.

I have been told that no amount of investment will subdue the tribal areas. Certain tribes will fight Whoever enters Their valley.

Culture and terrain make this country not only ungovernable but unconquerable. Inter-tribal multifarious conflict makes for a situation so complex that victory in the common sense of the term seems near impossible.
 

gf0012-aust

Grumpy Old Man
Staff member
Verified Defense Pro
Soon it will be summer in Afghanistan and so the per-usual Taliban offensive.

I have some friends that side (South African). Some of them took leave recently so they can rest before their return, before the coming “season”. Most of them work for contractors. The pay is damn good and you can’t really spend that side.

I have been told that no amount of investment will subdue the tribal areas. Certain tribes will fight Whoever enters Their valley.

Culture and terrain make this country not only ungovernable but unconquerable. Inter-tribal multifarious conflict makes for a situation so complex that victory in the common sense of the term seems near impossible.
been discussed on here numerous times before.

the identity is towards family, then clan, then historical ties to region - they don't regard themselves as afghanis, there is no national identity per se except in govt

and they will fight anyone who comes into their tribal regions.. its very similar to pakistan and the nw frontier. more to the point they will befriend out of convenience to any power that can neutralise old enemies and then turn on their new found friends once their traditional enemies have been neutralised
 
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No trust. Yet the US and others have spent millions trying to secure it. Nuts. Cooperation? They seem helpful at first, are helpful at first, only until Sunday... Cold hard cash for securing a valley, and one month later they demand more. Even when we pay it, it only lasts as long as their greed fulfilment – which is an endless pit. Constant deliberations and negotiations, more money.. I believe the American technical term is called a Cluster F.
 

gf0012-aust

Grumpy Old Man
Staff member
Verified Defense Pro
No trust. Yet the US and others have spent millions trying to secure it. Nuts. Cooperation? They seem helpful at first, are helpful at first, only until Sunday... Cold hard cash for securing a valley, and one month later they demand more. Even when we pay it, it only lasts as long as their greed fulfilment – which is an endless pit. Constant deliberations and negotiations, more money.. I believe the American technical term is called a Cluster F.
more than a western or modern conceptual issue of "trust"

its a cultural disconnect. nation states will struggle to manage non state actors and where the NSActors have different drivers.

thinking that money can change cultural behaviour doesn't work
thinking that overwhelming traditional force can change cultural behaviour doesn't work
thinking that alliances can change cultural behaviour doesn't work
thinking that long term nation state relationships can change cultural behaviour doesn't work

you're talking about a country when the UN recognised entity is not even recognised by parts of its own population (tribe and clan driven)
 
If the US hit really hard in the tribal areas they would make the Pakistani Government feel rather insecure. Given India and China...
 

ngatimozart

Super Moderator
Staff member
Verified Defense Pro
If the US hit really hard in the tribal areas they would make the Pakistani Government feel rather insecure. Given India and China...
Wouldn't achieve anything except more hate and fighters for the anti govt forces. Nobody has successfully suppressed the tribes. Not Alexander the Great, not the British, not the Russians. The only modern difference between the Afghani tribal areas and the Pakistani NW tribal areas is somebody has drawn a line on a map, delineating to politically different entities. Like GF states it is a cultural issue and if you don't understand and accept the cultural side of the problem then you do not get the problem and never will. A lot of what is happening there, is traditional Eurocentric thinking and cultural attitudes orientalising the tribes; viewing, analysing and having "forcing" expectations upon them to act and react in traditional western societal group forms. That is alien to the tribes and it just alienates them further.
 
Like GF states it is a cultural issue and if you don't understand and accept the cultural side of the problem then you do not get the problem and never will.
David Kilcullen's book "Accidental Gorilla" provides an excellent analysis of this mentality and examples of it in action (together with some suggestions as to how to deal with it).

Essentially it comes down to (with some simplification)
-- If you're in my area you're my enemy
-- If you help my neighbouring clan economically develop faster than mine, then you are both my enemy; and of course
-- An eye for an eye, a body for a body

But it's important to recognize this is divorced from any religious underpinning. the fact they are fighting you doesn't mean they are fundamentalists and treating them as such just expands the problem.
 
more than a western or modern conceptual issue of "trust"

its a cultural disconnect. nation states will struggle to manage non state actors and where the NSActors have different drivers.

thinking that money can change cultural behaviour doesn't work
thinking that overwhelming traditional force can change cultural behaviour doesn't work
thinking that alliances can change cultural behaviour doesn't work
thinking that long term nation state relationships can change cultural behaviour doesn't work

you're talking about a country when the UN recognised entity is not even recognised by parts of its own population (tribe and clan driven)
I agree that the Western conceptual frame of reference does not apply. Not that it seems to stop us from butting our heads.

It is even beyond tribal. Much conflict is inter-tribal rivalry.

Unlike ISIS which seeks a version of the old Caliphate(s), the Taliban just want Afghanistan (and parts of Pakistan). I know that you gentlemen know this, but this seems to be lost in general discourse among the middle classes of the West.

Life expectancy is 60 years, just bellow Iran. I find it difficult to understand. It might be due to “urban bias”.

I believe something like 70% of the world’s heroin is produced in Afghanistan. I heard that the much published eradication programs (which include trying to help/convince farmers to grow grains) have come to a halt in many areas since it has proven to be exceedingly counterproductive – a sure way to lose “friends”. Per hectare no other crop can even come close in terms of return. Within the mix that is Afghanistan this crop is a significant variable in terms of funding and in large areas it underpins the dynamics of the society and its economics.

The state is weak and corrupt and would disintegrate without the backing of the West.

What a mess
 

gf0012-aust

Grumpy Old Man
Staff member
Verified Defense Pro
I hope to get my hands on a copy. Thank you
no shortage of videos on him when he's called in to give input

Kilkullen has also helped rewrite US manuals on COIN

Was not treated well by the ADF - was a victim of tall poppy syndrome
 
no shortage of videos on him when he's called in to give input

Kilkullen has also helped rewrite US manuals on COIN

Was not treated well by the ADF - was a victim of tall poppy syndrome
That is really sad to hear. I wasn't aware of that. I wish our guys could be more perceptive sometimes.

I have read several of his books on the issues facing the world with so called radicals. They make a lot of sense and explain a lot.
 

gf0012-aust

Grumpy Old Man
Staff member
Verified Defense Pro
I have read several of his books on the issues facing the world with so called radicals. They make a lot of sense and explain a lot.
which is why the americans were happy to take him when he resigned after ADF wouldn't release him

highly regarded by petraeus and strong reachback
 

cdxbow

Well-Known Member
According to the WHO, male/female life expectancy in Afghanistan is 59.3/61.9 - & Iran is 74.5/76.6.
US isn't that much better than Iran, especially for males 76.9/81.6
Afghanistan is a basket case, Iran is not. I would like to second Boatteachers recommendation of David Kilcullen's book "Accidental Gorilla". It's not just a dry academic read.
 
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swerve

Super Moderator
For most countries at or above the world average income (& some a bit lower), life expectancy is starting to cluster in a fairly narrow range. When populations are adequately fed, vaccinated, have clean water, access to health & hygiene information & the other basics, they get close to the leaders. Iran (like China, Turkey, Albania, Algeria, Mexico, Thailand, etc.) falls into this category.

The dirt-poor & those which are stuffed for other reasons, such as AIDS (e.g. South Africa), are left behind.
 
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John Fedup

The Bunker Group
Agree, and the main reason first world nations are slightly above this cluster is drug access and better access to doctors. The huge amounts of dollars spent on health care in the West (especially North America) don't really seem to make an equivalent improvement, likely a result of our piss poor lifestyle.:D
 
The only countries not to have been colonized in Africa are Ethiopia and Liberia, lovely places.

South Africa had the highest life expectancy in Africa, along with many other measures.The Africans in South Africa were by far the most advanced on the continent in 1964 and by 75 were the only stable African middle class in Africa. These are just facts.

What many people do not know is that the old Nationalist government of South Africa gave the tribes the most fertile land in SA to create their own nation states, with the aim of full recognition and Independence. About 30% of tax revenue went into building infrastructure for them like the best hospital in Africa, Baragwana. The South African doctor who made the first hart transplant, Dr. Barnard 64, was a resident.

I have some friends in Afghanistan, mostly security for US contractors. Sux not to see family, but the pay is not so bad. 6 on and 2 off. Dollars. Damn, wish I was was free.
 
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