“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Saturday, November 28, 2009

So Afghanistan needs an army: Let's subcontract the Taliban.

Outsourcing baby. We are the outsourcing champions of the world. Let's get it on, so to speak. Outsource the war and be home for the next Hajj, for Christ's sake if not our own.

Flip the Taliban. We have thousand of unemployed real estate flippers in Florida and Nevada alone. Whats' the difference really, between a condominium and mohammadinium? It's all semantics and politics. Flip the Taliban.

Well the math is compelling. Let's go big and hire 500,000 of them. The average wage in Afghanistan is $400 a year, so going big time we pay them a princely $1000 per year. We should be able to outfit one soldier for $2000. Therefore for probably no more than twelve seconds interest on our national debt, $1.5 Billion, we have a battle hardened army, proven winners all, 500,000 believers.

Seems to me when we had about 1200 special oops riding around on mules we outsourced the entire country. We got a little carried away at Tora Bora and probably got stiffed by going light on supervision but these things happen.


Afghans Offer Jobs to Taliban Rank and File if They Defect
New York Times

JALALABAD, Afghanistan — The American-backed campaign to persuade legions of Taliban gunmen to stop fighting got under way here recently, in an ornate palace filled with Afghan tribal leaders and one very large former warlord leading the way.

Majid/Getty Images
Guns laid down by former Taliban fighters lined a wall at a reconciliation meeting. Many were promised paid work.

“O.K., I want you guys to go out there and persuade the Taliban to sit down and talk,” Gul Agha Shirzai, the governor of Jalalabad, told a group of 25 tribal leaders from four eastern provinces. In a previous incarnation, Mr. Shirzai was the American-picked governor of Kandahar Province after the Taliban fell in 2001.

“Do whatever you have to do,” the rotund Mr. Shirzai told the assembled elders. “I’ll back you up.”

After about two hours of talking, Mr. Shirzai and the tribal elders rose, left for their respective provinces and promised to start turning the enemy.

The meeting is part of a battlefield push to lure local fighters and commanders away from the Taliban by offering them jobs in development projects that Afghan tribal leaders help select, paid by the American military and the Afghan government.

By enlisting the tribal leaders to help choose the development projects, the Americans also hope to help strengthen both the Afghan government and the Pashtun tribal networks.

These efforts are focusing on rank-and-file Taliban; while there are some efforts under way to negotiate with the leaders of the main insurgent groups, neither American nor Afghan officials have much faith that those talks will succeed soon.

Afghanistan has a long history of fighters switching sides — sometimes more than once. Still, efforts so far to persuade large numbers of Taliban fighters to give up have been less than a complete success. To date, about 9,000 insurgents have turned in their weapons and agreed to abide by the Afghan Constitution, said Muhammad Akram Khapalwak, the chief administrator for the Peace and Reconciliation Commission in Kabul.

But in an impoverished country ruined by 30 years of war, tribal leaders said that many more insurgents would happily put down their guns if there was something more worthwhile to do.

“Most of the Taliban in my area are young men who need jobs,” said Hajji Fazul Rahim, a leader of the Abdulrahimzai tribe, which spans three eastern provinces. “We just need to make them busy. If we give them work, we can weaken the Taliban.”

In the Jalalabad program, tribal elders would reach out to Taliban commanders to press them to change sides. The commanders and their fighters then would be offered jobs created by local development programs.

The Pashtuns, who form the core of the Taliban, make up a largely tribal society, with families connected to one another by kinship and led by groups of elders. Over the years, the Pashtun tribes have been substantially weakened, with elders singled out by three groups: Taliban fighters, the rebels who fought the former Soviet Union and the soldiers of the former Soviet Union itself. The decimation of the tribes has left Afghan society largely atomized.

Afghan and American officials hope that the plan to make peace with groups of Taliban fighters will complement an American-led effort to set up anti-Taliban militias in many parts of the country: the Pashtun tribes will help fight the Taliban, and they will make deals with the Taliban. And, by so doing, Afghan tribal society can be reinvigorated.

“We’re trying to put pressure on the leaders, and at the same time peel away their young fighters,” said an American military official in Kabul involved in the reconciliation effort. “This is not about handing bags of money to an insurgent.”

The Afghan reconciliation plan is intended to duplicate the Awakening movement in Iraq, where Sunni tribal leaders, many of them insurgents, agreed to stop fighting and in many cases were paid to do so. The Awakening contributed to the remarkable decline in violence in Iraq.

In the autumn of 2001, during the opening phase of the American-led war in Afghanistan, dozens of warlords fighting for the Taliban agreed to defect to the American-backed rebels. As in Iraq, the defectors were often enticed by cash, sometimes handed out by American Army Special Forces officers.

At a ceremony earlier this month in Kabul, about 70 insurgents laid down their guns before the commissioners and agreed to accept the Afghan Constitution. Some of the men had fought for the Taliban, some for Hezb-i-Islami, another insurgent group. The fighters’ motives ranged from disillusion to exhaustion.

“How long should we fight the government? How many more years?” said Molawi Fazullah, a Taliban lieutenant who surrendered with nine others. “Our leaders misled us, and we destroyed our country.”

Like many fighters who gave up at the ceremony, he shrouded his face with a scarf and sunglasses, for fear of being identified by his erstwhile comrades.

The Americans say they have no plans to give cash to local Taliban commanders. They say they would rather give them jobs.

In a defense appropriations bill recently approved by Congress, lawmakers set aside $1.3 billion for a program known by its acronym, CERP, a discretionary fund for American officers. Ordinarily, CERP money is used for development projects, but the language in the bill says officers can use the money to support the “reintegration into Afghan society” of those who have given up fighting.

For all the efforts under way to entice Taliban fighters to change sides, there will always be the old-fashioned approach: deadly force. American commanders also want to squeeze them; such is the rationale behind Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal’s request for tens of thousands of additional American troops.

Indeed, sometimes force alone does the trick. On Oct. 9, American Special Forces soldiers killed Ghulam Yahia, an insurgent commander believed responsible for, among other things, sending several suicide bombers into the western city of Herat. Mr. Yahia had changed sides himself in the past: earlier in the decade, he was Herat’s mayor.

When the Americans killed Mr. Yahia, in a mountain village called Bedak, 120 of his fighters defected to the Afghan government. Others went into hiding. Abdul Wahab, a former lieutenant of Mr. Yahia’s who led the defectors, said that the Afghan government had so far done nothing to protect them or offer them jobs. But he said he was glad he had made the jump anyway.

“We are tired of war,” he said. “We don’t want it anymore.”

Sangar Rahimi and Taimoor Shah contributed reporting from Kabul, Afghanistan.


  1. seems to me we have a history of paying terrorists to be reformed via jobs...

    can anyone say yasser arafat?

  2. Someone, here, was using the "awakening" as the model a few months back. Who was that? Let me think. hmmm.

    They'll budget $34 Billion to send 34,000 troops to Afghanistan. A gallon of gas costs $400.00 by the time they pour it in a humvee in Pashtun Province.

    What are there? About 8 Billion Men over the age of 17? We could pay every one of them $15,000.00 yr and come out ahead.

  3. Uh, make that 8 "Million" men, and boys.

  4. Whoever controls the poppy, heroin and opium, controls the labor market. We're essentially broke, living on credit and it will be hard to outbid the drugs money. I said a while back that we would wind up making a political settlement with the Taliban. Given the back assward nature of Afghanistan, our best option might be to let a "new and improved" (and reformed) Taliban restore law and order.

    The situation is Orwellian.

  5. It's also hard to compete with an enemy not bound by the niceties of the Geneva convention, the US constitution or progressive western sensibilities.

    Our guys get prosecuted for punching an insurgent punk in the gut and splitting his lip. It's better to bring our guys home now than subject them to this PC insanity.

  6. Speaking on back assward parts of the whirled:
    The mistaken belief that albino body parts have magical powers has driven thousands of Africa's albinos into hiding, fearful of losing their lives and limbs to unscrupulous dealers who can make up to $75,000 selling a complete dismembered set.

  7. Obama is (on purpose) creating a "teaching moment"

    He wants us to BE more like the REST of the world.

    Lose our "manifest destiny" and "American exceptionalism" become free of our arrogance.

    He wants afghanistan to hurt, so that we will resist projecting "force" in other nations.

    What Obama doesnt understand is that Americans generally ran (not walked) to GET INTO America to GET AWAY from the insanity called the rest of the world. Obama doesnt understand this since his mother and father ran (not walked) to get away FROM America.

    Changes in ROI have been made and these will kill our boys and girls...

    In the end, I think, more Americans will disagree with his vision of America and thru the ballet box slam the crap out of his appeasing, knock America down a few pegs POV...

  8. WiO: Obama is (on purpose) creating a "teaching moment"

    Sure, he wants to teach kids to honor our flag with the left hand of the damned, the same one that goat fuckers use to wipe their ass in the desert.

    Obama is turning into Bush II to the dismay of the left, he's going to ramp UP our involvement in Afghanistan, but he's doing it so half-assed it will only create more body bags and no results. Nine years in that crap hole and nothing to show for it. The nature of military power is that it demands to be used, no matter WHAT the ideology of the President is. Mitt Romney could actually split the left with an anti-war campaign in 2012.

  9. Manufacturing Overtime Hours are making a "significant" recovery.

    THIS LEG of the Recession is definitely over.

  10. Obama is turning into Bush II to the dismay of the left, he's going to ramp UP our involvement in Afghanistan...

    Yeah, well, we'll see what the half life of a half-ass is.

  11. He wants afghanistan to hurt, so that we will resist projecting "force" in other nations.

    - What Is

    What did President Bush want with regard to Iraq? That hurt like a motherfucker.

    Afghanistan is more of the same.

    In neither place have we killed or will we kill enough people.

    In neither place can we observe the simple fact that none of these guys (and gals and sons and daughter and aunts and uncles and cousins) is a lawful combatant.
    The lawful remedy for - and resulting message from which - is pretty damned effective.

    It wouldn't be so bad except the problem to be dealt with is so very large. Who wants to tell the American people just *how* large?
    I don't think anyone does. I really, really don't.

    President Obama will undoubtedly say that the task we face is daunting, that the threat to us in the event that we walk away is very real. (It's very real even in the event that we don't.)

    There won't be any words or pictures to make it vividly so, however, in the minds of his audience.

    He could say, "Every man, woman, and child that you don't kill, is one man, woman, or child that is left to kill you tomorrow or the next day or the next. That is the unfortunate reality. And they're onto us in this respect. The bad guys have got our number. We have fought this war, demanded this war be fought, as if it were optional. It's not."

    Someone said to me years ago, "Good Guy is our schtick." That it is. But I think we've probably reached the point of turning Good Guy into something perversely unrecognizable. For wholly mistaken political purposes.

  12. we've probably reached the point of turning Good Guy into something perversely unrecognizable. For wholly mistaken political purposes.

    That is reason enough to get our "good guys" beyond the reach of our bastards.

    Enough is enough.

  13. An interesting meme is developing that Iran is positioning itself for advances into Saudi Arabia and Israel. A proxy war is occurring in Northern Yemen on the border with Saudi Arabia where Hezbollah operatives have been among the KIA. A story today, says that 9 Saudi soldiers are missing and the King has vowed to defend it's country.

  14. You know they're going to be found not guilty, the SEALs. They were probably floored that in the Art. 32 hearing, the Navy found cause to go ahead with the Courts Martial rather than drop the whole thing. But they'll be exonerated.

    Those trials, in January, may be however paradoxically the best thing to happen to the Mothership, vis a vis the hair-raising, often impossible, and frequently less than thankless position of its men and women at the pointy end, in a long time. That is surely part of what the accused now have in mind.

  15. Like I said, whit, the problem to be dealt with is bigger, and worse, than anyone really wants to openly talk about. Leaving the "Why bother?" unanswered for a public that desperately requires an answer.

  16. Well Trish, i think we are in accordance. There is no sense in fighting any war where the stakes are less than that which require total war and total victory. It is sixty five years since that was the case.

    Bush blew it at Tora Bora and there is no fix to making the non-country Afghanistan, a country at the price we are willing to pay.

  17. The butt-ugly part of the planet already knows Obama is a chump. Most of the rest is hoping they hadn't noticed.

  18. EXHIBIT "A"

    Afghans Detail a Secret Prison Still Operating on a U.S. Base

    Top above the fold NY TIMES
    Published: November 28, 2009

    KABUL, Afghanistan — An American military detention camp in Afghanistan is still holding inmates for sometimes weeks at a time and without access to the International Committee of the Red Cross, according to human rights researchers and former detainees held at the site on the Bagram Air Base.

  19. Glen Beck said, the other day, on his TV show that he Would NOT recommend to his nephew to reenlist.

    I think there will be a LOT of that going around.

    The quality of our Armed Forces (especially, Army, and Marines) is, I fear, going to greatly Diminish in the coming years.

    A guy with a 3, or 4 year investment in the Army, or Marines would have to be a sucker to reenlist, today.

  20. One of the few good things about Afghanistan compared to Iraq (or to GITMO, come to think of it) is that we don't turn every asshole over to the host nation. And that detention facility isn't getting any smaller.

    POC, POC, POC.

  21. And, yes, I realize that that completely misses your point.

  22. Whit: A story today, says that 9 Saudi soldiers are missing and the King has vowed to defend it's country.

    Saudi Arabia spends $52.8 billion dollars on defense, purchasing the lastest toys from the US military-industrial complex. Iran spends $22.1 billion dollars buying also ran hardware from the former Soviet Union. So put my money on the Saudis.

  23. Nice little article on the Pathology Of Evil In Politics

    Didn't McChrystal actually ask for some 40k at the low end, and upwards to 100k or more?

    If the choice made is 32k it looks like the slow bleed. Then he'll add, we're not staying for long. Which will cause the folks to take our paychecks for awhile, wait around, and when we're out, revert to whatever.

  24. Re: Abu Dubai

    The thing to do now of course is let some good trusted investment gourp from Abu run our Ports of Entry.

  25. "Funny, the only thing that made me a fascist was deporting radical Jew"s...

    Wrong again

  26. All you noted, allen.

    Which is all there is.
    Which is nothing at all.

    Or make a case.

  27. The ignorance of the US public is legend, bob.

    More than that 61% supported invading Iraq and Afghanistan.
    Until after we did.

    61% of US think it' would be the end of the problem, if we bombed Iran.
    Not the beginning.

    As is often noted, the US public is ill informed.

  28. Like I said, whit, the problem to be dealt with is bigger, and worse, than anyone really wants to openly talk about.

    I wish you would talk about it.

  29. Trish, my daughter near about that book you mentioned "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo". But hadn't read it, yet.

    I swear Idaho can't get ahead and stay ahead early in the game this year

    Utah State 21 - Idaho 7, end of first quarter

  30. Right now we're losing about 12 yards per play....

    Dang, there it is, 28 - 7.

    Haven't made them punt once.

    Big breakdown in defense today.

    It's getting close to Casino time.

  31. I wish you would talk about it.

    Sat Nov 28, 05:49:00 PM EST

    I'm waiting for the light bulb to go on for Joint Chiefs. They're the ones who need to do the talking.

    Someone's gotta reach for that string.

  32. 31 - 21 at the half. (Know you're all interested in this.)

    There must be some 'excitment script' they are following this year. They get so far beyond, you're ready to walk out, then, the defense stiffens, the offense gets going, the situation becomes doable at halftime. Been that way all year. So, don't go away.

  33. I need do nothing; you will do it for me.

  34. My team, the Florida State Seminoles just got a drubbing by the Florida Gators but you've got to love Tim Tebow.

  35. Sharing with you a little halftime entertainment

    Bing Crosby Sings An Idaho Fight Song

  36. False accusations and lies are your forte, allen.

  37. :(

    Idaho had to kick. Utah has a guy named Turbin, or Tourbin or somethin', who they call Turbine Turbin.

    3rd and 7 from the 11...

    4th and 4

    fakaroo field goal, passed to the 1, first down, Turbine Turbin made the catch

    Robert 'Turbine' Turbin in,

    Utah State 38 Idaho 35

  38. Holy shit


    screen pass to Morrison for 75 yards "quiets the crowd", as they say

    9:05 left in game

  39. makes it 45 - 42

    989 yards in offense from the teams

    my earlier smiley face should be a frowny face but you knew that

  40. :(

    Idaho loses the ball on the 1, first and goal.....

    Damn that Bob 'Turbine' Turbin

    Utah 52 - 42 on the fumble

  41. Utah State 52 Idaho 49

    At 7 wins 5 loses we'll go to a bowl game, first time in years


    TMZ: Tiger Woods Injuries Caused by Wife, Not SUV...



  42. trish wrote:

    "Someone said to me years ago, "Good Guy is our schtick." That it is. But I think we've probably reached the point of turning Good Guy into something perversely unrecognizable. For wholly mistaken political purposes."

    One gets jaded when looking from the outside in. Just a "schtick"????

    Deuce notes the binary of total war and EVERYONE on thinks they are on the "good guy" side. So, where does the US really sit in this Afghani conflict, or the Iraqi conflict? Is it really on the "good" side or merely the "self-interested" side? You gonna risk YOUR life, or your KIDS life, on the goals set out?

  43. *hic-cup* another glass of wine please...

    Where the heck did I leave my white hat?

  44. Ash, I have no interest in being the good guy. I believe in minding our own business. Minding our own business means just that. it is neither isolationist nor ideological.

    It rates countries not by sentimentality but by interest in commerce, lawful conduct and respect for the United States. It is partial to neighbors and mutual interests and advantages.

    As to the military, I am only interested in everyone on the planet knowing that given sufficient provocation the US will use military engagement that will result in the US being the winning guy, time in and time out.

    That should be sufficient to keep an acceptable peace.

  45. On the one hand 'ya sure' on the other hand it opens the US up to the charge of craven self-interest. As rufus has argued, sure, invading and occupying Iraq is justified by the oil booty and thus worth US involvement. Is that all that is required for US sacrifice of blood and treasure?

  46. Ash, what do you think about all these stories coming out about the peer review business? I ask as you lectured on the subject some time ago?

  47. Deuce notes the binary of total war and EVERYONE on thinks they are on the "good guy" side.

    Well, actually, that's pretty much the way it's been down the ages.

    The koran is upfront about them being the good guys. And everyone, including Ash, being kinda washed out in the eyes of allah.

  48. Ban golf clubs!

    Where in the Constitution does it say that the wife has a right to get her hands on a golf club?

  49. I don't think anyone ever expected any oil "booty," Ash. It was those nightmares of an, ultimately, nuclear-armed Saddam Hussein rambling around in the middle of 40% of the World's oil that kept a lot of folks awake at night.

  50. If it was just the oil we wanted, we'd have taken over Saudi Arabia back during the oil embargo.

    Maybe we should have, too.

    Their women would be freer.

    (that's a good thing, regardless of the koran)

  51. And, as has been subsequently revealed, the "folks" had as much to worry about from "Global Warming" as they did from Saddam's nuclear capability.

    "Worry", by the ever famous "folks", should not be a cause of a war.

    The "folks" were way off base, with their concerns. There proved to be little cause for worry, Especially not a "worry" that proved dangerous enough to justified the trillion dollar expenditure we made, looking for a solution.