What To Do In Afghanistan

There’s an extremely important interview with David Kilcullen in the New Yorker in which the anthropologist addresses some of the questions I’ve been asking here lately about Afghanistan. In the interview he observes that counter-insurgency efforts are failing in Afghanistan because the forces in Afghanistan are being out-fought by the the Taliban and the Kabul government is being out-governed by the Taliban:

(1) We have failed to secure the Afghan people. That is, we have failed to deliver them a well-founded feeling of security. Our failing lies as much in providing human security—economic and social wellbeing, law and order, trust in institutions and hope for the future—as in protection from the Taliban, narco-traffickers, and terrorists. In particular, we have spent too much effort chasing and attacking an elusive enemy who has nothing he needs to defend—and so can always run away to fight another day—and too little effort in securing the people where they sleep. (And doing this would not take nearly as many extra troops as some people think, but rather a different focus of operations).

(2) We have failed to deal with the Pakistani sanctuary that forms the political base and operational support system for the Taliban, and which creates a protective cocoon (abetted by the fecklessness or complicity of some elements in Pakistan) around senior al Qaeda and Taliban leaders.

(3) The Afghan government has not delivered legitimate, good governance to Afghans at the local level—with the emphasis on good governance. In some areas, we have left a vacuum that the Taliban has filled, in other areas some of the Afghan government’s own representatives have been seen as inefficient, corrupt, or exploitative.

(4) Neither we nor the Afghans are organized, staffed, or resourced to do these three things (secure the people, deal with the safe haven, and govern legitimately and well at the local level)—partly because of poor coalition management, partly because of the strategic distraction and resource scarcity caused by Iraq, and partly because, to date, we have given only episodic attention to the war.

To solve the first problem, securing the Afghan people, he suggests that beyond an increase in the number of troops a change in how they’re employed is required:

The first thing we have to do is to “triage” the environment: figure out the smallest number of Afghan population centers that accounts for the greatest percentage of the population. Once we understand that lay-down (e.g., in the South, it’s two towns that account for eighty per cent of the population, but the east is more rural, so it’s a different calculation there), then we tailor a security plan for each major cluster of population, and for the key communications—roads, essentially—that link them together. Then we will have an idea of the extra troops we need, if any. But we can start right away with the troops we have.

To deal with Pakistan he suggests:

(a) encouraging and supporting Pakistan to step up and effectively govern its entire territory including the FATA [Federally Administered Tribal Areas], and to resolve the current Baluch and Pashtun insurgency, while
(b) assisting wherever possible in the long-term process of state-building and governance, but
(c) reserving the right to strike, as a last resort, at al Qaeda-linked terrorist targets that threaten the international community, if (and only if) they are operating in areas that lie outside effective Pakistani sovereignty.

while expressing doubt about the prospects for Pakistan ever becoming an effective nation-state which echo those of Col. Pat Lang’s I quoted yesterday.

He also casts cold water on the notion of an Iraq-like surge strategy for Afghanistan. Note, too, that Dr. Kilcullen does not address his own points (3) and (4), specifically, whether the Kabul government as constituted is capable of delivering good governance or whether, even if coalition management had been flawless, there had been no strategic scarcity, and attention to the war in Afghanistan had been continuous, it would have been sufficient to achieve the mission’s strategic objectives.

By all means read the whole thing. There’s lots more.

The interview closes with Dr. Kilcullen’s assertion that although the situation in Afghanistan is dire, it’s still winnable. I continue to be skeptical that any victory worthy of the name in our original objectives in Afghanistan, which I interpret as unseating the Taliban and al Qaeda from their control there, apprehending or eliminating al Qaeda in the area, and creating a secure nation-state in Afghanistan capable of preventing the Taliban and al Qaeda from re-establishing themeselves in Afghanistan if we leave, can be achieved in a timeframe and at a cost that the American people will find acceptable.

FILED UNDER: General, ,
Dave Schuler
About Dave Schuler
Over the years Dave Schuler has worked as a martial arts instructor, a handyman, a musician, a cook, and a translator. He's owned his own company for the last thirty years and has a post-graduate degree in his field. He comes from a family of politicians, teachers, and vaudeville entertainers. All-in-all a pretty good preparation for blogging. He has contributed to OTB since November 2006 but mostly writes at his own blog, The Glittering Eye, which he started in March 2004.

Comments

  1. Bithead says:

    The question of costs… both people and money… is a variable, not a constant. The situation you describe will change at the first attack of Islamic fundies on American soil.

    Now, I’ll tell you this, James…Obama has been repeatedly warned of such attacks from people all over the world, as an article I linked this morning suggests.

    So two questions arise from this.

    1:Will the people who stood up after 9/11 and told us all about how Bush was warned about 9/11, (but who were also quite content with Clinton’s treating such attacks as not a war but a mere criminal matter) go after Obama with both barrels as they did with Bush, when such attacks occur?

    2: Will Obama take action to prevent such attacks and will, (Irony abounds) Obama be lambasted by his own base for doing so?

  2. Michael says:

    Kilcullen is wrong on one very important count. The Taliban and al Qaeda do have something that they need to defend, and that is the protection they are given by the local people. As we saw quite clearly in Iraq, once insurgents lose that resource they lose most of their operational ability.

  3. Michael says:

    1:Will the people who stood up after 9/11 and told us all about how Bush was warned about 9/11, (but who were also quite content with Clinton’s treating such attacks as not a war but a mere criminal matter) go after Obama with both barrels as they did with Bush, when such attacks occur?

    No, because those people were stupid partisans. However, I predict that an entirely different group of stupid partisans would fill that void.

    2: Will Obama take action to prevent such attacks and will, (Irony abounds) Obama be lambasted by his own base for doing so?

    I’m sure he will continue some of the current administration’s preventative measures, but will drop some controversial ones (wire taps, gitmo) that will make his base happy enough.

  4. davod says:

    “I’m sure he will continue some of the current administration’s preventative measures, but will drop some controversial ones (wire taps, gitmo) that will make his base happy enough.”

    I doubt he will change much.

    PS: I did not know Kilcullen was an anthropologist.

  5. Brett says:

    Kilcullen’s got a good point. If you can protect the major areas of population, and train them to protect themselves, then you’ve won a lot of the battle. A lot of the Taliban themselves might slowly defect either back to the civilian population or to Afghan forces if you can do the above (although you’ll still have to go hunting for the real extremists).

    I wonder if you could get in contact with Mullah Omar, and make a deal with him – he sells you the Al-Qaeda leadership, and in exchange you don’t bother him in Pakistan. Unlikely, but a possibility (assuming they haven’t already tried it).

  6. Our Paul says:

    I join other OTB readers, silent and verbal, in applauding Dave Schuller and James Joyner for raising the Afghanistan issue. The link to the New Yorker article interviewing David Kilcullen, as well as the primary piece “Knowing the Enemy”, referenced in the article, deserve a careful read by all interested parties.

    I have expressed my views previously in comments to a Joyner post, but failed to mention what is a key element, the tensions between India and Pakistan, both nuclear powers, both with interest in Afghanistan. To those with a bit of time on their hands a Google search linking the three countries will be of help.

    Perhaps a visual approach might help in understanding the problem we face. The Boston Globe has provided a stunning pictorial sequence of one of the fire bases Kilcullen dances around. The Wiki article it references deserves an eyeball or two… Time magazine has another pictorial sequence buried as a link in a recent rather superficial article exploring the Afghanistan and the India Pakistan conflict. All those funny headgear that the natives wear, why they identify the different tribes…

    In view of my previous comments on James Joyner’s post (referenced above), I took comfort in this question: ”Has there been too much emphasis on offensive operations, especially air strikes?” and in Kilcullen’s anserw:

    It’s both. There has been an emphasis on fighting the Taliban, which has led us into operations (both air and ground-based) that do a lot of damage but do not make people feel safer. Similarly, we have a lot of troops in rural areas—small outposts—positioned there because it’s easier to bring firepower to bear on the enemy out in these areas. Meanwhile, the population in major towns and villages is vulnerable because we are off elsewhere chasing the enemy main-force guerrillas, allowing terrorist and insurgent cells based in the populated areas to intimidate people where they live.

    I take no comfort in the continued use of the term “enemy”, the proper term is insurgent. Until we realize no matter how sterling our motives are, when fighting in somebody else’s country our troops will be perceived by many as the enemy.

    A round of applause to Dave Schuller for providing critical links to his thoughts…

  7. davod says:

    “I take no comfort in the continued use of the term “enemy”, the proper term is insurgent. Until we realize no matter how sterling our motives are, when fighting in somebody else’s country our troops will be perceived by many as the enemy.”

    The rat bags are our enemy just as they are the enemy of the Afghan government and the Afghan people. They can still be insurgents.

    The fact that some view us as the enemy is not unreasonable. We are the enemy of the rat bagss.

    Kilcullen is the expert at counter-insurgency. I agree with what he says about securing population centers. However, this does not mean we should not have surveillancee teams targetingg likely areas of enemy concentrations. Killing them away from habitation is still a worthwhile endeavor.

  8. anjin-san says:

    2: Will Obama take action to prevent such attacks and will, (Irony abounds) Obama be lambasted by his own base for doing so?

    Bit, you really need to quit smoking crack.

    One of the reasons Obama is supported by “his own base” is that he made it clear that going after Bin Laden is a priority. A lot of us still demand justice for the Americans murdered on 9-11. Sadly, this was not high on the to do list for the outgoing administration.

    It is also worth noting that when Clinton did go after Bin Laden with force of arms the Republicans in congress went bats__t.
    There is also the fact that he locked up the people responsible for the ’93 WTC attack.

    Clinton’s record on dealing with terrorists is not perfect, nor is it a train wreck.

    If Obama is caught asleep at the switch by an attack, as Bush was, I will certainly have something to say about it. So far, the Obama team has shown repeatedly that they have their act together. If you have any evidence to the contrary, by all means lets have a look.

  9. mannning says:

    I must take Kilcullen’s word on the suggested runaround our forces are executing out in the boonies, trying to nail a few insurgents. They are nailing some, it seems, as reported to us by AP.

    Is there possibly an aversion to basing large numbers of our troops permanently in the main cities…something like not appearing as conquerers to the majority of the population? Such an approach would leave day-to-day law enforcement mainly in the hands of Afghan troops and police by deliberate policy. Not having enough language-proficient troops of our own to provide security and the other legal needs in the cities is another factor.

    This would not be a winner, for sure. It would be business as usual for the police…All this except for a few sweeps now and then in the cities as a result of intel, which is not a hold operation at all–more of a show of force coming out of our enclaves and quickly back in, and then back to BAU with the local police. One can surmise that the police are significantly coerced and corrupted by the Taliban when no one is looking. So we should be looking all the time.

    Anyone know Pashto or Dari?

  10. Bithead says:

    One of the reasons Obama is supported by “his own base” is that he made it clear that going after Bin Laden is a priority. A lot of us still demand justice for the Americans murdered on 9-11. Sadly, this was not high on the to do list for the outgoing administration.

    At some point, you’re going to have to progress beyond telling lies like this to get around things you can’t argue, Anjin.

    Clinton’s record on dealing with terrorists is not perfect, nor is it a train wreck.

    You’re talking to someone who knows trains, Anjin. Wrecks are almost always slow motion. In this case, 9/11 wouldn’t have happened but for mismanagement of the situation under Clinton. Fault for 9/11 lies squarely with William Jefferson Clinton.

  11. Bithead says:

    No, because those people were stupid partisans.

    What you seem to be missing is, that’s Obama’s base.

    I’m sure he will continue some of the current administration’s preventative measures, but will drop some controversial ones (wire taps, gitmo) that will make his base happy enough.

    Which will, of course make our anti-terrorism efforts utterly futile. I’m amazed at the number of hoops peopel jump through to deny that obvious point.

  12. Grewgills says:

    Great post Dave. I don’t have anything of substance to add that has not already been said upthread, but could not resist commenting on downthread stupidity.

    Fault for 9/11 lies squarely with William Jefferson Clinton.

    I’m sure your internal logic remains entirely consistent and you place full blame for the ’93 attack on Bush 41.

    Which will, of course make our anti-terrorism efforts utterly futile.

    Do you really believe that?
    We went 8 years without an attack on American soil after the ’93 attack. We are now nearing that milestone for 9/11. I have seen no convincing evidence that the changes to our intelligence structure after 9/11 are responsible for that. Some weaknesses were exposed by that horrific event, but the changes imposed went far beyond the necessary and it seems many were simply for show (look we’re doing something. you can tell because of the inconvenience and loss of freedom.).

  13. Michael says:

    What you seem to be missing is, that’s Obama’s base.

    Right, 53% of the people of this country are stupid partisans.

    Which will, of course make our anti-terrorism efforts utterly futile. I’m amazed at the number of hoops peopel jump through to deny that obvious point.

    Most of out anti-terrorism efforts are already utterly futile, the appearance of safety they bring is just that. He’s just going to stop wasting money on things that do more harm to our liberty than support for our safety.

  14. Moonbat Boy says:

    One of the reasons Obama is supported by “his own base” is that he made it clear that going after Bin Laden is a priority.

    You must be the only person in the world who believes this utter and complete bs.

  15. anjin-san says:

    You must be the only person in the world who believes this utter and complete bs.

    Guess you slept through the election.

  16. anjin-san says:

    Fault for 9/11 lies squarely with William Jefferson Clinton.

    Right. Because when Bush was warned Bin Laden was determined to attack our country a month before 9-11, he did not receive a detailed copy of the attack plan personally signed by Bin Laden.

    “No actionable intelligence” remains the Bush apologist mantra. How hard would it have been for the commander in chief, upon getting this warning, to simply say, “These bastards have hit up overseas, and I am not giving them a shot at our country. I want this to be a top priority”.

    Guess, “Ok, you’ve covered you ass” was somehow a better example of leadership…

    BTW bitsy, if we follow your logic, Carter should get credit for the release of the Iran hostages.

  17. Michael says:

    How hard would it have been for the commander in chief, upon getting this warning, to simply say, “These bastards have hit up overseas, and I am not giving them a shot at our country. I want this to be a top priority”.

    Suppose things had gone that route, what would they have done? Even if they had taken it absolutely seriously, do you think they would have put our current security measures at airports in place, when they had no actionable intelligence that this was how they were going to strike? You’d have gone ape-shit if he had. I would too.

    Look, I think the Bush administration did a lot of things wrong during their time, but failure to stop the 9/11 attacks is not one of them. 9/11 would have happened exactly the way it did under a Gore administration.

  18. anjin-san says:

    Michael,

    You are almost certainly right, even if Bush had gotten off his ass after being warned, nothing short of getting lucky would have changed the outcome at that point.

    Still, it would have been nice if the President had said, after being warned, “Lets make sure we are doing everything we can do”.

    It is pretty clear that it took the Clinton folks a while to figure out the seriousness of the threat. But is is also clear that by the end of his second term they did get it, and tried to warn an unreceptive Bush team that this was a very serious issue.

    It is also clear that the intelligence community was actively alarmed by the summer of 2001. Did they fail to communicate this, or was their message simply ignored?

    Also worth noting that when Clinton did try go after Bin Laden, the GOP Congress went ballistic….

  19. Bithead says:

    I’m sure your internal logic remains entirely consistent and you place full blame for the ’93 attack on Bush 41.

    As a matter of fact, yes, it does, and had you actually been reading what I’ve posted on this site and other places, you’d have noticed that.

    To reiterate…IMHO, Bush 41 should have told the UN to get stuffed, and taken Iraq all the way down. AT the very least the AQ training sites wouldn’t have sprung up, with Saddam’s help, in Southern Iraq.

    BTW bitsy, if we follow your logic, Carter should get credit for the release of the Iran hostages.

    Well, no, Anjin… following the whole of the logic is either beyond your mental capacity, or outside of what yourt argument will support. Which will you have?

  20. Bithead says:

    Right, 53% of the people of this country are stupid partisans.

    More like 45%.
    There’s around 10% that etnds to move accoring to wind direction and phases of the moon…. and who gets promised what by whom.

  21. Michael says:

    Still, it would have been nice if the President had said, after being warned, “Lets make sure we are doing everything we can do”.

    The implication being that the President didn’t do everything he could to prevent it. So I would ask you, what more could the President have done given the information available?

    It is also clear that the intelligence community was actively alarmed by the summer of 2001. Did they fail to communicate this, or was their message simply ignored?

    The problem wasn’t that nobody thought an attack was going to happen, the problem that nobody knew when, where or how it was going to happen. If anything, the would have erected tighter security and blast barriers at ground level, completely useless in stopping a jet liner.

  22. Michael says:

    More like 45%.
    There’s around 10% that etnds to move accoring to wind direction and phases of the moon…. and who gets promised what by whom.

    What respect you have for the American people, Bithead. It’s a wonder anybody ever disagrees with you.

  23. anjin-san says:

    So I would ask you, what more could the President have done given the information available?

    For starters, he could have said something besides, “ok, you’ve covered your ass”. That is a pretty rough dismissal from the President. No wonder most of his administration went by with everyone afraid to tell him anything he did not want to hear.

    How about “What steps can we realistically take to minimize our exposure”?

  24. Michael says:

    For starters, he could have said something besides, “ok, you’ve covered your ass”. That is a pretty rough dismissal from the President.

    They came to the President with a non-specific threat, with no proposals on how to prevent it, or how to prepare for it, or even how to react to it. So again, anjin-san, what should he have done? What would you have done in that position?

    How about “What steps can we realistically take to minimize our exposure”?

    You’re assuming he didn’t already know the answer to that question.

  25. tom p says:

    Bitsy:

    To reiterate…IMHO, Bush 41 should have told the UN to get stuffed, and taken Iraq all the way down.

    Which only goes to show that Bush 41 was a hell of a lot smarter than his son.

    AT the very least the AQ training sites wouldn’t have sprung up, with Saddam’s help, in Southern Iraq.

    Where do get this stuff? The alleged fact of any coordination between Saddam and AQ has been thouroghly debunked by any and all… including every independent analysis of the facts. Just like the whole WMD farce.

    For starters, he could have said something besides, “ok, you’ve covered your ass”. That is a pretty rough dismissal from the President.

    They came to the President with a non-specific threat, with no proposals on how to prevent it, or how to prepare for it, or even how to react to it. So again, anjin-san, what should he have done? What would you have done in that position?

    Michael: While I agree with you that nothing GWB could have done at that point could have possibly stopped 9/11, I have to disagree with you strongly on your apparent position that he did all he could do. Somehow or other, “ok, you’ve covered your ass” portrays a rather cavalier attitude towards the defense of American lives. Don’t you agree?

    As to what could he do… How about, “I want you to focus on the threat of AlQuada. Put every available spare resource you can into the collection on intel and the analysis there of. Also, I want you to go back through everything you now have, and see if there is anything we might have missed.” It would not have changed 9/11, but at least we would have been a few more steps ahead of the game when it happened.

    At least, that is what I would have done… And I suspect, so would have you.

  26. anjin-san says:

    You’re assuming he didn’t already know the answer to that question.

    Given what we know about this President, is that a wild assumption?

    Perhaps he could have asked for proposals on how to prevent it, how to prepare for it, or how to react to it.

  27. Michael says:

    Somehow or other, “ok, you’ve covered your ass” portrays a rather cavalier attitude towards the defense of American lives. Don’t you agree?

    No, it portrays exasperation to me. They probably presented him every day with reports saying that an attack is likely, but they have no idea when, where or how. Bush was never warned about 9/11, he was warned that someday, somehow, somebody was going to attack something. That information is no better than if he had been told nothing. That sounds exactly like somebody covering their ass.

    As to what could he do… How about, “I want you to focus on the threat of AlQuada. Put every available spare resource you can into the collection on intel and the analysis there of. Also, I want you to go back through everything you now have, and see if there is anything we might have missed.” It would not have changed 9/11, but at least we would have been a few more steps ahead of the game when it happened.

    Of course, why didn’t Bill Clinton think of that? Because before 9/11 nobody saw Al Qaeda as an existential threat that would warrant such a commitment of resources away from known actors.

    At least, that is what I would have done… And I suspect, so would have you.

    I would not have, and I seriously doubt you would either. Hindsight is always 20/20, but there wasn’t anything on 9/10 that would give sufficient reason to do much of anything counter-terrorism related in the US.

  28. tom p says:

    Somehow or other, “ok, you’ve covered your ass” portrays a rather cavalier attitude towards the defense of American lives. Don’t you agree?

    No, it portrays exasperation to me.

    Michael, I respect you and your point of view… But I can not go along with that (and I honestly don’t think you do either). So we will have to “agree to disagree on that”.

    Bush was never warned about 9/11,

    Because he was warned about an imminent attack in 8/01… Admittedly, it was short on specifics, intel is an imperfect science (ART???) but he WAS warned…. and said, “OK, you’ve covered your asses.”

    Of course, why didn’t Bill Clinton think of that? Because before 9/11 nobody saw Al Qaeda as an existential threat that would warrant such a commitment of resources away from known actors.

    BC did think of that, and tried (or his NSA people did) to convey the urgency through out the transition process. I do not blame him… nor do I blame GWB for their inefectiveness (transitions are messy). but August of ’01 is definitely at the back end of the transition and GWB had his own team (hopefully) in place by then. They said, “an attack is imminent” and he blew them off.

    I would not have, and I seriously doubt you would either. Hindsight is always 20/20, but there wasn’t anything on 9/10 that would give sufficient reason to do much of anything counter-terrorism related in the US.

    Well then, thank god neither of us were POTUS at that time. (and I definitely would have done something other than said “OK, you’ve covered your asses…”)

    But Michael, you miss my point entirely: #1, I am not talking about 9/10/01… I am talking about Aug of ’01… when there was still a chance to get an intel leg up on AQ. No it would not have changed 9/11, but maybe we would have had Bin Laden with in a month? (doubtful at best, but MAYBE????)(we will never know)

    #2: What is the point of hindsight, if one can not look back at the things that were done wrong, so that we do not make the same mistakes again? To say that “that is just 20/20 hindsight” precludes us from learning from the lessons of the past.

    And there are more than a few lessons to be learned here (and I say this in the most non-partisan way I can).

  29. Michael says:

    Michael, I respect you and your point of view… But I can not go along with that (and I honestly don’t think you do either). So we will have to “agree to disagree on that”.

    Fair enough, neither of us were there, nor do we have any particular insight into what the President was thinking at the time.

    Because he was warned about an imminent attack in 8/01… Admittedly, it was short on specifics, intel is an imperfect science (ART???) but he WAS warned…. and said, “OK, you’ve covered your asses.”

    Look, if I told you every week that an earthquake was imminent somewhere in the US, and then one day there is an 7.0 in Vermont, that doesn’t mean you were warned, and it certainly doesn’t mean that you should have done something to protect Vermont.

    But Michael, you miss my point entirely: #1, I am not talking about 9/10/01… I am talking about Aug of ’01… when there was still a chance to get an intel leg up on AQ. No it would not have changed 9/11, but maybe we would have had Bin Laden with in a month? (doubtful at best, but MAYBE????)(we will never know)

    Intelligence like that takes years to even get off the ground. If Bush had ordered all available resources to focus on AQ in August, they’d still be in the process of re-structuring the departmental org charts on 9/11. If the intelligence community felt this was as imminent as that, why didn’t they do something about it in August? The President doesn’t sign off on their day to day operation.

    #2: What is the point of hindsight, if one can not look back at the things that were done wrong, so that we do not make the same mistakes again? To say that “that is just 20/20 hindsight” precludes us from learning from the lessons of the past.

    The problem is your apparent assumption that just because something went wrong, somebody must have done something wrong. Sometimes bad things happen even when everybody made the best decision they could. To prove that point, just look at the lack alternatives being suggested, for the amount of criticism there is about the decisions taken.

    And there are more than a few lessons to be learned here (and I say this in the most non-partisan way I can).

    For sure there are lessons to be learned, but none of them are about what President Bush did wrong between January and September 2001 in regards to Al Qaeda.

  30. tom p says:

    Intelligence like that takes years to even get off the ground. If Bush had ordered all available resources to focus on AQ in August, they’d still be in the process of re-structuring the departmental org charts on 9/11.

    Ok Michael, the middle ground: Intel like that was already off the ground. BC’s NSA was already working on AQ long before the election of 2000, so that by the transition they knew the threat was real. (how real? the INS’s I have read only go so far as “real”)(mind you, very redacted)

    If the intelligence community felt this was as imminent as that, why didn’t they do something about it in August? The President doesn’t sign off on their day to day operation.

    No he does not, but he does sign off on their prioities, and lacking that, they can do nothing more. They are an intel agency…. nothing more.

    #2: What is the point of hindsight, if one can not look back at the things that were done wrong, so that we do not make the same mistakes again? To say that “that is just 20/20 hindsight” precludes us from learning from the lessons of the past.

    The problem is your apparent assumption that just because something went wrong, somebody must have done something wrong. Sometimes bad things happen even when everybody made the best decision they could.

    And here is where you and I agree… and yet most vehemently disagree. First, you presume that I blame any “one side”, when in fact I blame neither side… I blame both sides…

    While I do not give GWB a pass, you presume that I give WJC a pass because I have leveled no criticism at him… but what specific criticism do you level at WJC’s admin that do not equally apply to the Bush Admin? Or to be more specific, what excuses do you give the Bush Admin, that do not equally apply to Clinton’s?

    To prove that point, just look at the lack alternatives being suggested, for the amount of criticism there is about the decisions taken.

    Last I checked, it is not the province of intel to provide alternatives, only to provide facts as best they can ascertain. Take note… intel does not deal in facts alone… they deal in facts, rumor, and innuendo… Again, it is an imperfect science (art?) at best.

    For sure there are lessons to be learned, but none of them are about what President Bush did wrong between January and September 2001 in regards to Al Qaeda.

    But here you are putting on blinders of the worst sort, when you say, “none of them are about what President Bush did wrong between January and September 2001 in regards to Al Qaeda”…

    I say again, it is not about Bush or Clinton, but about Bush AND Clinton… But Bush is the one who said, “OK, now you have covered your asses.”

    Don’t blame me if you now find yourself defending the indefensible.

  31. Michael says:

    Ok Michael, the middle ground: Intel like that was already off the ground. BC’s NSA was already working on AQ long before the election of 2000, so that by the transition they knew the threat was real. (how real? the INS’s I have read only go so far as “real”)(mind you, very redacted)

    All of which goes to support by theory that both Presidents were warned so many times about non-specific threats that it was impossible for them to take any action on any of them, and the only reason the intelligence community would have in conveying these useless warnings to the President was so that they could avoid accusations when something bad eventually did happen.

    And here is where you and I agree… and yet most vehemently disagree. First, you presume that I blame any “one side”, when in fact I blame neither side… I blame both sides…

    I don’t presume that you blamed one side, and I disagree with your blaming Clinton as much as I disagree with your blaming Bush.

    While I do not give GWB a pass, you presume that I give WJC a pass because I have leveled no criticism at him…

    Again, I presumed no such thing.

    but what specific criticism do you level at WJC’s admin that do not equally apply to the Bush Admin? Or to be more specific, what excuses do you give the Bush Admin, that do not equally apply to Clinton’s?

    I have no criticism of Clinton’s decisions on this matter, he and his successor made the best decisions possible given the limited nature of their information and resources.

    Last I checked, it is not the province of intel to provide alternatives, only to provide facts as best they can ascertain.

    I was referring more towards the arm-chair Presidents like you and anjin-san who say that one side of the other (or both) should have done something different, without offering what form that something could have taken.

    Don’t blame me if you now find yourself defending the indefensible.

    And who or what is it that you suppose I am defending?

  32. Bithead says:

    No, it portrays exasperation to me. They probably presented him every day with reports saying that an attack is likely, but they have no idea when, where or how. Bush was never warned about 9/11, he was warned that someday, somehow, somebody was going to attack something. That information is no better than if he had been told nothing. That sounds exactly like somebody covering their ass.

    Correct.
    But of course it’s all Bush’s fault.

    Where do get this stuff? The alleged fact of any coordination between Saddam and AQ has been thouroghly debunked by any and all… including every independent analysis of the facts. Just like the whole WMD farce.

    Not outside the HuffandPuff, and Kos, it hasn’t.

    How about “What steps can we realistically take to minimize our exposure”?

    Such as? You keep dodging specifics. Tell us exactly what youd’ have done differently, Anjin.

    What respect you have for the American people, Bithead

    Given what we’ve seen from the last several elections, my attitude is exactly on track with the reality fo the sitaution.

    And who or what is it that you suppose I am defending?

    I suppose the easiest answer is to be found by looking at whom it is he’s attacking.

  33. tom p says:

    Michael, fair enuf. I have to cook dinner now… and I rarely look past the front page.

    Bit: If you are going to reply to multiple people, it would help if you indentified them as such in your posts… otherwise it comes across as so much “gobbldygook” and you come across as an idiot.

  34. Michael says:

    Correct.
    But of course it’s all Bush’s fault.

    You’re not exactly any better with your “It’s all the Democrat’s fault” you know.

    Not outside the HuffandPuff, and Kos, it hasn’t.

    You’re kidding me, right?

    I suppose the easiest answer is to be found by looking at whom it is he’s attacking.

    Near as I can tell, he’s attacking everyone out of some bizarre sense of “fairness”.