Feb 3, 2008


Highly secret local knowledge that only forty million Pathans know about. Burn before reading.

The 40 million Pathans (Pashtuns) are the world’s largest tribal group, divided into roughly equal parts by a 1,400 mile long border drawn by a 19th century British colonial official that has never been of any interest to any one except mapmakers, certainly not to half the Pathans living in Pakistan or the other half living in Afghanistan on either side of the border. Historical and literary scholars may remember the bitter proverb quoted by Rudyard Kipling’s Kim: “Trust a Brahmin before a snake, a snake before a harlot, a harlot before a Pathan,” the modern version of which might run: “It is the classic Afghan way to smile and pocket bribe money, and tell foreigners what they want to hear, only to attack them in the night.” Pathans seem sure the Americans, like the British, the Russians, and the Greeks before them, will go home eventually.

(2006)"Doubts were expressed about an attack on the world’s poorest country by the world’s richest country, but all doubts were swept away by patriotic fervor. Even the French announced “We’re all Americans now.”

So how goes the war? Arnaud de Borchgrave reports as follows:

“Three years ago the Taliban operated in squad sized units. Last year they operated in company sized units (100 or more men). This year the Taliban are operating in battalion-sized units (400-plus men). So reported retired Gen. Barry R. McCaffrey, professor of international affairs at West Point, after his second trip to Afghanistan to assess the balance of forces.

“The former Clinton administration drug czar and commander of the 24th Infantry Division in the Gulf war, Gen. McCaffrey concluded that in the last three years, Taliban has reconstituted the obscurantist movement that took Afghanistan back to the Middle Ages in the 1990s. "They are brutalizing the population," said the general's written report, "and they are now conducting a summer-fall campaign to knock NATO out of the war, capture the provincial capital of Kandahar, isolate the Americans, stop the developing Afghan educational system, stop the liberation of women, and penetrate the new police force and Afghan National Army (ANA).

“Taliban now have "excellent weapons" and "new field equipment" -- prized by the equipment-poor ANA -- and "new IED [improvised explosive devices] technology and commercial communications," Gen. McCaffrey said. "They appear to have received excellent tactical, camouflage and marksmanship training," and "they are very aggressive and smart in their tactics."

"The Afghan Army is miserably underresourced," the report concluded. "This is now a major morale factor for their soldiers. They have shoddy small arms -- described by Defense Minister [Abdul Rahim] Wardak as much worse than he had as a Mujahideen fighting the Soviets 20 years ago.

"Afghan field commanders told me they try to seize weapons from the Taliban who they believe are much better armed. ... [They] have little ammo... no mortars, few machine guns, no MK19 grenade guns, and no artillery... no helicopter or fixed transport or attack aviation now or planned ... no body armor... no Kevlar helmets... no light armored wheeled vehicles.

“The Afghan National Police is even worse off than the army: "They are in a disastrous condition, badly equipped, corrupt, incompetent, poorly led and trained, riddled by drug use and lacking any semblance of ... infrastructure."

Would history be of any help? Those who can read it have an alternative to repeating it:

“Britain …. fought 3 Afghan wars (the last in 1919 using more or less the same technology as today - aircraft, bombs, poison gas, and so on) to little effect. [Blair] might then have avoided committing Her Majesty's Forces to a 4th (illegal) Afghan War on the side of the Americans - and ironically, the British contingent is deployed in the Helmand area where the 1st Afghan War got off to a bad start (only a Dr Brydon from the 13th Foot (Somerset Light Infantry) surviving the massacre).”… 10/21/2006

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