Pat Lang on the dangerous, continued rise of ‘COIN’-mania

Lang makes some important points here about the distortion of what should be a rational, nationwide discussion about the US military’s massive and troubled engagement in Afghanistan.
He writes,

    The interests of the reigning generals, the neocons and the Brothers of the Order of Counterinsurgency at CNAS are coming together now. The mechanisms for propagation of the faith in COIN as a vehicle for the program of the AEI crowd are widespread. Among them are internal blockage of access to blogs like this one by the armed forces, exclusion from the main stream media of dissenting voices and the editorial page of the Washington Post.

CNAS— the Center for New American Security– is a relatively young but currently very influential think-tank that’s been a hot incubator for “liberal” hawkishness. Michele Flournoy, one of its founders and its first president, is now Under-Secretary of Defense for Policy and may well replace Bob Gates as Secretary.
All the “mechanisms for propagation of the faith in COIN” that Lang mentions are important. But let’s hope that wise heads and the continuing military and financial realities of the situation in Afghanistan can speedily turn the debate in Washington in the direction it needs to go.
Oh yes, and some serious, pro-withdrawal popular pressure is really necessary, too.

8 thoughts on “Pat Lang on the dangerous, continued rise of ‘COIN’-mania

  1. John Francis Lee


    U.S. audacity of hope falters

    The U.S. has decided to be ‘flexible’ regarding its once touted call for a total Israeli freeze on the expansion of its occupied territories’ settlements, all illegal under international law.
    A senior official spoke to reporters on condition of anonymity on August 27. “It was more important that the scope of a settlement freeze was acceptable to the Israelis and the Palestinians than to the United States,” Reuters reported, citing the senior official. This means that peace negotiations can resume while Israeli bulldozers are carving up Palestinian land, demolishing homes and cutting down trees.
    It also means that the Israeli rejection of the only U.S. demand, which has thus far defined President Barack Obama’s relations to the Middle East conflict, has prevailed over the supposed American persistence.
    In other words, the U.S. has officially succumbed to Israeli and pro-Israeli pressures, in Tel Aviv and Washington.
    “…acceptable to the Israelis and the Palestinian Contras…”
    Ah but you who philosophize disgrace and criticize all fears, bury the rag deep in your face, for now’s the time for your tears.
    Obama’s sold out the Palestinians.. and all of us Americans who will continue to suffer the blowback to the criminal, misadventures of our government of Israeli stooges.

  2. Shirin

    the U.S. has officially succumbed to Israeli and pro-Israeli pressures, in Tel Aviv and Washington.
    And that is a surprise because…?

  3. Salah

    Counterinsurgency ? We keep hearing a fancy word reflect & linked to fears, hate all sorts of bad.
    Hearing this word means terrorist on the step door should eliminate in lawfully or unlawfully ways. The fact is In Iraq before, in Afghanistan this world use widely to justify mass murder, tortured and inhuman treating people in both countries.
    Unprecedented before US media filled their front pages/ screen with horrors of blood and pieces of bodies in western media before just to support and give more strong believes in “Counterinsurgency” missions. Nevertheless, In Iraq in Afghanistan the “Counterinsurgency” simply is resistance not more not less. What it comes to be common believe in western and other part of the world Taliban is an enemy of west and its values. Taliban is a tribe/ethnic “Pashtun movement” in society that invaded by foreigners they do not like to rule by invaders and their history telling their story loud…
    Thomas Ruttig (Pdf)publish paper about Taliban he makes the point that the insurgency is growing because
    (1) the national and local governments are corrupt and are excluding these groups;
    (2) resentment is growing from Western “occupation” and civilian casualties. Al Qaeda-style ideology has very little to do with it.
    He went future to tell us what Taliban and other resistance to the invaders represented:

    Organisationally, the insurgency consists of seven armed structures of different provenance. The core of the insurgency is the Taleban movement, with its ‘Kandahari’ mainstream and associated, semi-autonomous networks, those based on the Haqqani and Mansur families and the Tora Bora front in eastern Afghanistan based on remnants ofHezb-eEslami (Khales).
    Those four segmented components form the Islamic Movement of the Taleban. Every single one of those elements is based on layers of different kinds of relationships, tribal, politicalideological and ‘non-kinship’

    .
    What should do here the occupying forces should talk unconditionally to the locals and they should respect their rights of fighting the invader. As any resistance like RLA in Britten or other resisting movement.
    Thomas Ruttig has a diploma in Afghanistics from Humboldt University, Berlin (Germany). He speaks Pashto and
    Dari and has spent almost 10 years in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

  4. bevin

    The current situation is one with very real, but largely unrecognised, dangers for the United States.
    If it fails to reach an agreement acceptable to Palestinians this will not mean the end of Palestine, simply the end of the US pretence to be in a position to be an honest broker in this and other matters.
    The Palestinian cause will actually benefit by the final unanimous (leaving aside Canada and The Solomons) acceptance internationally that the US is, as she appears to be, Israel’s partner in the conquest of Palestine.
    Once that is established to everyone’s satisfaction it will be clear that the US is actually the primary obstacle to a peaceful and just agreement. And that to facilitate peace it will, first, be necessary to deal with the United States.
    From the US point of view losing the international presumption that it is fair, reasonable and, relatively, honest would constitute a major blow to the foreign policies which it has pursued since the time of Wilson.
    It is already clear that Obama is actually setting out to facilitate Israeli annexations and to rustle up quislings who can be coerced or bribed onto signing on to a ‘state’ in name only.
    If this is what happens it will signal not only the end of the US, as a non-military force, in the middle east but the beginning of the end for all Arab governments unprepared to express their hostility to it.
    The United States has attached itself to a Zionist project which has very little chance of succeeding; an affair which would,in the normal course of events, long since have softened itself into a means of making acomodations with its neighbours and the Palestinians.
    That is has not done so has been largely because of US support; support given without much thought of its consequences.
    One of these days the United States is going to wake up, rub its eyes and discover that the idea that it easily dominates a continent comfortably isolated by two great oceans is outdated.
    Instead its vital interests and prestige lie in a tiny sliver of land between the Mediterranean and the desert, very vulnerable, very provocative and deeply unpopular among its neighbours.
    The world is losing its patience with Washington’s unending and unavailing efforts. It sees that they either signify insincerity or impotence. Neither being attractive qualities in an internatioinal bully.
    As to the Palestinians-what have they left to lose?

  5. Titus

    The obsessed crowd is hijacking this thread Helena, this one was about Afghanistan and insurgency. Please enforce the rules lady.
    Speaking of Afghanistan and Taliban I see a disastrous attack on a couple of stolen tankers with more than 90 dead.
    How does Obama get away with this war and with killing civilians where Bush was skewered over a moslem mosquito harmed by the boots of a Marine, and had demonstrations when each US casualty was returned from Iraq? Out of Afghanistan now! They want to behead each other? Fine with me, I don’t want to have anything to do with them, and given that I do not consume drugs, I do not really need anything from that hopeless place.
    Even Pakistan, I cannot think of single valuable thing in my life that comes from there, not a grain of rice, not a line of software, not a book or poem, not a universal idea, nada, niente. My dollars go there, and they send back their hatred, oh and nuke proliferation. Let’s pretend they don’t exist, and with some audacity even hope that.
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/8237287.stm
    At least 90 people have been killed after a Nato air strike blew up two fuel tankers hijacked by the Taliban in northern Afghanistan, officials say.
    The spokesman said a number of “insurgents” were killed.
    One of the drivers of the tankers told the BBC that two of his colleagues had been beheaded when the Taliban carried out the hijacking.

  6. Alex_no

    This London Times op-ed, Whisper it, we are on our way out of the war, by Conservative columnist Matthew Parris, although addressed to the British political situation, has much to say about the way things are likely to go, even for the US. The British Conservatives have been very gung-ho about the war, much more so than the present government.

  7. Alex_no

    It might be interesting to contrast the different attitudes towards the Afghan war in Britain and the US, in order to identify the real strength of support for the war in the US. I am not going to do this myself, as I don’t know the US well enough.
    When Pat Lang talks about
    The interests of the reigning generals, the neocons and the Brothers of the Order of Counterinsurgency at CNAS,
    I am not that impressed.
    The CNAS is closely related to the military, indeed is almost an arm of it. COIN is a military solution to a political problem, beloved as a new way of “winning”. Nevertheless, in spite of the new philosophy, the US is not going to stop the airstrikes which kill large numbers of civilians quite frequently, the latest being the two fuel tankers. This has become a highly sensitive issue in Afghanistan, as we all know.
    In Iraq, the position of the generals has become distinctly separated from that of the White House. The generals presume that the US is going to stay, because they haven’t lost any battles. The White House has repeatedly committed the US to withdrawing. I couldn’t say who is going to win that fight, but it is not necessarily the generals.
    The generals are a powerful force in the US, no question. Is the military powerful enough to dictate US foreign policy to a White House not particularly oriented that way? An open question.

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