The Big Gundown

stick em up

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     “Nobody can defeat the Taliban militarily,” says Karzai, shaking his head.  “As long as Afghanistan exists, the Taliban will exist.  They are the sons of Afghanistan and they will always have their place.  But the Taliban are not one entity.  They are like ~ what is the name of that Greek monster with all those heads?  If you cut off one, another will take its place.”

     “A hydra.”

     “A hydra.  But the Taliban can’t unify my country.  They cannot repeat their earlier success.”

     “Success?” asks H.  “Do you call their kind of government a success?”

     “My friend,” he says.  “For a scorpion, even hot sand is a relief.  We have to start where we are.  The Taliban have their place in that.  You cannot deny them their achievements.  People who have not seen the conditions in the country cannot understand their popularity.  But by bringing foreign fighters onto the Afghan earth they have done a thing which Afghans cannot forgive.  People can see where they are taking our country.   That is why we need friends, real friends, who can help to defeat them politically.”

     “Does that include America?” I ask.

     “Of course,” he says.  “Why shouldn’t it?  I don’t dislike America.  But America is like the Taliban.  It doesn’t have one head.  Listen, my friends.  I have talked to American diplomats here and in Islamabad.  I have talked to the State Department in Washington.  I have talked to the CIA and the military.  Every one of them has a different idea about Afghanistan, but only America is powerful enough to help us.”  He sweeps his hand again over his head.  “Their great weakness is to see the world in black and white.  It’s always good guys and bad guys with them.”  He chuckles.  “In meetings they always ask, ‘Is he a good guy or a bad guy?’  They want it to be black and white.  But nothing is black and white in Afghanistan.  There are a thousand shades between black and white…”

from

The Network

a novel by Jason Elliot

copyright 2010

pages 254-255

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Quotes from The Outpost

Enduring Freedom

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…They suspected that however loudly the 1-91 Cav officers may have tooted their own bugle about their counterinsurgency accomplishments, their fifteen months’ worth of effort wasn’t about to undo decades’, if not centuries’, worth of habits and traditions of self-preservation.  (p.392)

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af10_16832683

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…The United States had gotten itself in the middle of a variety of blood, land, and tribal feuds, Brown believed, and the government of Afghanistan itself had very little, if any, interest in making serious efforts in that region.  The insurgency was actually gaining strength, especially in the remote rural areas of eastern Afghanistan.  (p.408)

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us-drone-strikes-kill-18-in-north-waziristan-1372853795-4131

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…On May 21, 2012, President Obama and the NATO allies announced that in the summer of 2013, Afghan government forces ~ ready or not ~ would take the lead on providing security throughout the country, and that U.S. combat forces would see their mission end come midnight, December 31, 2014.  (p.608)

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Jake Tapper

The Outpost

2012

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Col. Johnson At The Outpost (II)

JungleGirlPower

Col. Sheena Johnson, U.S. Army

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Col. Johnson reads to you from

THE OUTPOST

a tome told true by Jake Tapper:

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     It was true that violence was down in his area of operations, but that wasn’t because his men had gone soft.  As Kolenda saw it, none of what he was doing had anything to do with being warmhearted.  In his opinion, counterinsurgency was a pretty damned cold-blooded strategy, all about being out there with specific goals ~ establishing stability and defeating the insurgency ~ and intelligently using the full range of available leverage, from cash, clean water, and education for local children to bullets, when appropriate, to get the desired results.  There was an element of manipulation involved.  Sure, he wanted the Afghans to have better lives ~ how could anyone not, after seeing that kind of impoverishment.  But there was also something transactional about American promises of clean water, construction jobs, and a brighter future for Afghan kids.  This wasn’t charity; the bottom line was, these offers were made to save American lives and help destroy anyone who hoped to hurt ISAF troops.  Kolenda could never understand why some folks viewed the carrots as being somehow inferior to the sticks…

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651433-sheena1b

Col. Sheena Johnson, U.S. Army

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Soundtrack:

http://songza.com/listen/long-gone-brother-cloydlovesthe

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Art by Mike Huddleston

Mike Huddleston
Mike Huddleston

Photo of Tanya Roberts

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