Archive for the 'Islamic Facism' Category



“Will The U.S. Attack Iran?” Having The Wrong Conversation

BY Glen Tschirgi
4 years, 3 months ago

Last week, Lee Smith published an article in Tablet that gave three, main reasons why the United States is not going to attack Iran now nor will it attack Iran under a President Romney, notwithstanding all the talk to the contrary.

This article got quite a bit of play in the Statist Media because, it was argued, the article seemingly showed that Mitt Romney is carrying on a charade of getting tough on Iran and that any criticisms of President Obama’s current Iran policy are hollow or hypocritical.

Lee Smith advances three, main arguments for why no Republican president would openly attack Iran:  1) Domestic politics;  2) History of Iran-U.S. relations, and;  3) the disguised reliance upon nuclear deterrence.

The article makes perfect sense at a certain level.   On domestic politics, Smith is correct, but for the wrong reasons.   While Smith points to the desire to avoid destabilizing economic effects of any attack, the real bar to Republican action is entirely political.   The Democrats established a clear precedent with George W. Bush that any military action abroad, even if a broad authorization is obtained from Congress in advance, will be subjected to the worst partisan attacks and scurrilous accusations.   Democrats will mobilize every resource to demonize a Republican president who dares to use force against America’s enemies.   Use of force is an exclusive, Democrat prerogative.

On the history of dealings with Iran, Smith also scores points:

No American president has ever drawn red lines for Tehran and enforced them by showing that transgressions are swiftly and severely punished.

It’s true that it was a Democrat, Jimmy Carter, who sat by idly when Ayatollah Khomeini and the founders of the Islamic Republic stormed the U.S. embassy and held Americans hostage for 444 days. But GOP hero Ronald Reagan provided the Iranians with arms—after the Islamic Republic’s Lebanese asset, Hezbollah, killed 241 U.S. Marines in the 1983 bombing of their barracks at the Beirut airport. When the FBI said Tehran was responsible for the 1996 bombing of Khobar Towers, Bill Clinton failed to respond or even name Iran, lest it derail the “dialogue of civilizations” promised by the newly elected reform-minded president Muhammad Khatami. And the last Republican in the White House was no more proactive in countering Iran’s actual attacks on Americans: The more than 100,000 American servicemen and -women that Bush had dispatched to Iraq were targeted by the IRGC and their local allies, a fact that U.S. officials tended to obscure and did little to change when they did acknowledge it.

As to a hidden reliance on nuclear deterrence, Smith is also likely correct:

If you can kill Americans without any consequences and the Americans will in fact collaborate in covering up your malfeasance, you can certainly build a nuclear weapons facility without too much concern that the Americans are really keeping “all options on the table”; the White House is not and almost surely never will—no matter who’s calling the shots. Short of an American city suffering thousands of casualties in a nuclear attack that the Iranians boast of publicly, it is difficult to know what would compel a U.S. president to take military action against Iran.

Maybe U.S. policymakers just believe, in spite of what they say publicly, that Iran really isn’t that big a deal. Remember that even today, a number of American officials, civilian and military, cut their teeth on Cold War strategy, an era when the United States faced off against a real superpower. Washington and Moscow fought proxy wars against each other on four continents with the fear of an eventual nuclear exchange leading to mutually assured destruction looming in the background. Perhaps, if seen in this context, for American policymakers Iran just doesn’t rise to a genuine threat level.

The problem with Smith’s analysis (and many others who have been endlessly debating the pros and cons of attacking Iran to stop its nuclear weapons development) is that it fundamentally is the wrong conversation.

The focus of the debate should not be about stopping a totalitarian, Islamist regime devoted to martyrdom from getting nuclear weapons.   The focus should be on removing the Regime itself.  The Iranian people have lived long enough under the hand of an oppressive theocracy to know that the next government must be anything but that.  The Green Movement that began with the phony elections of 2009 explicitly called for a true, secular, democratic government.  The Regime immediately recognized the counter-revolutionary nature of the Greens and put it down with absolute brutality.  The Regime knows that the people of Iran want normalized relations with the U.S. and the West in general.  Any change in government is going to be a sharp repudiation of the current leadership and the mullahs.

Fortunately for the U.S. and the West, the Regime is clinging on to power on a cliff’s edge of explosive public unrest and simmering revolution.   All that is needed to effect the removal of the Regime is a little… more… time.

This plays directly into the debate over Israel’s decision whether to attack Iran.

The current debate suffers from the same mistake.   Critics endlessly point out that even if Israel could muster the nerve and assets to attack Iranian facilities any such attack would “only” delay the Iranian nuclear program, not end it.   If any attack could end Iran’s nuclear program that would certainly be preferable.   But that is, of course, highly unlikely.   Delaying the program, however, is the very point.   Delaying the program is more than a sufficient goal because it gives more time to change the leadership of Iran.

Obama has been doing everything in its power to subvert and forestall an attack by Israel against Iran’s nuclear facilities.   This is directly contrary to U.S. interests in bringing down the Iranian Regime.  An attack by Israel, even if incomplete, would undeniably set back the Iranian nuclear program by some years according to most estimates.   This additional time could be the crucial difference in allowing the U.S. to work, covertly, toward bringing down the Regime.

In the end, the U.S. must realize that it is not the possession of nuclear weapons in and of itself that should be feared.   It is the government that possesses such weapons.   Simply seeking to keep nuclear technology out of the hands of totalitarian regimes is, ultimately futile.  As North Korea demonstrated, with enough determination and sacrifice, even a poverty-stricken country can get nuclear weapons.  The goal must always be to eliminate any regime that evidences any intention to go nuclear.   It is a red line that cannot be crossed.

How and when we go about doing that is the conversation we should be having.

The Ugly Future for Afghanistan: Civil War and Militias

BY Glen Tschirgi
4 years, 5 months ago

This lengthy and well-written piece by Dexter Filkins in The New Yorker is must reading.

Filkins attempts to give an overall assessment of Afghanistan’s future as American forces shrink and the country must increasingly rely upon the Afghan National Army for its security.   By all means, read the entire article, but the gist of Filkins’ assessment can be succinctly summarized as, “bleak.”

Filkins explores the question of whether Afghanistan is destined to return to a state of civil war as American combat troops leave.   While he makes no firm conclusions, the answer is an inescapable “yes.”   While American policymakers and military leaders boldly talk up the prospects for turning over security responsibilities to the ANA while hoping to garner a power-sharing deal with the Taliban, it is clear from the article that a debacle of enormous proportions is looming in 2014 (if not before) when American force levels are expected to drop to just fifteen thousand from an expected sixty-eight thousand after the September 2012 draw-down.

Some Western and Afghan experts say that fifteen thousand American troops would not be enough to secure Afghanistan, particularly when it comes to the use of airpower. The Afghan Air Force is far less advanced than the Soviet-trained force was at a similar moment. American officers told me that air strikes—bombs and rockets—are usually restricted to units in which Americans direct the fire. A force of fifteen thousand Americans would probably not be large enough to spread trainers and air controllers throughout the Afghan Army (and not throughout the police, who are at tiny checkpoints scattered around the country). “If they go below thirty thousand, it will be difficult for them to do any serious mentoring, and without the mentors they won’t call in airpower,” Giustozzi, the Italian researcher, said.

American officers have another concern. Currently, Afghan units are stationed where the Americans are, in hundreds of small bases, mostly in populated areas. Some American officers say that the Afghans will find it difficult to disperse themselves as fully, because of problems with supplies and communications. Once the coalition forces leave, those officers say, the Afghans are likely to consolidate their units on bigger and fewer bases. If that happens, the Afghans could end up ceding large tracts of territory to the Taliban—much as the Afghan Army did after 1989.

Filkins interviews several Afghans in and outside of the Afghan government who all candidly admit that each of the rival factions that fought each other prior to the 2001 American invasion are actively preparing for the resumption of civil war when U.S. forces leave.

Afghan and American officials believe that some precipitating event could prompt the country’s ethnic minorities to fall back into their enclaves in northern Afghanistan, taking large chunks of the Army and police forces with them. Another concern is that Jamiat officers within the Afghan Army could indeed try to mount a coup against Karzai or a successor. The most likely trigger for a coup, these officials say, would be a peace deal with the Taliban that would bring them into the government or even into the Army itself. Tajiks and other ethnic minorities would find this intolerable. Another scenario would most likely unfold after 2014: a series of dramatic military advances by the Taliban after the American pullout.

“A coup is one of the big possibilities—a coup or civil war,” a former American official who was based in Kabul and has since left the country told me. “It’s clear that the main factions assume that civil war is a possibility and they are hedging their bets. And, of course, once people assume that civil war is going to happen then that can sometimes be a self-fulfilling prophecy.”

One Afghan, Abdul Nasir, made this point quite clear:

These days, Nasir said, the nineties are very much on his mind. The announced departure of American and NATO combat troops has convinced him and his friends that the civil war, suspended but never settled, is on the verge of resuming. “Everyone is preparing,” he said. “It will be bloodier and longer than before, street to street. This time, everyone has more guns, more to lose. It will be the same groups, the same commanders.” Hezb-e-Wahdat and Jamiat-e-Islami and Hezb-e-Islami and Junbish—all now political parties—are rearming. The Afghan Army is unlikely to be able to restore order as it did in the time of Najibullah. “It’s a joke,” Nasir said. “I’ve worked with the Afghan Army. They get tired making TV commercials!”

A few weeks ago, Nasir returned to Deh Afghanan. The Taliban were back, practically ignored by U.S. forces in the area. “The Americans have a big base there, and they never go out,” he said. “And, only four kilometres from the front gate, the Taliban control everything. You can see them carrying their weapons.” On a drive to Jalrez, a town a little farther west, Nasir was stopped at ten Taliban checkpoints. “How can you expect me to be optimistic?” he said. “Everyone is getting ready for 2014.”

In the process of his interviews, however, Filkins did discover one, unsettling truth:  the most effective force against the Taliban so far have been local militias.

The most effective weapon against the Taliban were people like Mohammad Omar, the commander of a local militia. In late 2008, Omar was asked by agents with the National Directorate of Security (N.D.S.)—the Afghan intelligence agency––if he could raise a militia. It wasn’t hard to do. Omar’s brother Habibullah had been a lieutenant for Abdul Rasul Sayyaf, one of the leading commanders in the war against the Soviets, and a warlord who helped destroy Kabul during the civil war. The Taliban had killed Habibullah in 1999, and Omar jumped at the opportunity to take revenge. Using his brother’s old contacts, he raised an army of volunteers from around Khanabad and began attacking the Taliban. He set up forces in a string of villages on the southern bank of the Khanabad River. “We pushed all the Taliban out,” he told me.

The Taliban are gone from Khanabad now, but Omar and his fighters are not. Indeed, Omar’s militia appears to be the only effective government on the south side of the Khanabad River. “Without Omar, we could never defeat the Taliban,” a local police chief, Mohammad Sharif, said. “I’ve got two hundred men. Omar has four thousand.”

The N.D.S. and American Special Forces have set up armed neighborhood groups like Omar’s across Afghanistan. Some groups, like the Afghanistan Local Police, have official supervision, but others, like Omar’s, are on their own. Omar insists that he and his men are not being paid by either the Americans or the Afghan government, but he appears to enjoy the support of both. His stack of business cards includes that of Brigadier General Edward Reeder, an American in charge of Special Forces in Afghanistan in 2009, when the Americans began counterattacking in Kunduz.

This is a strange twist in U.S. strategy.  While the State Department, the White House and U.S. commanders in Afghanistan all blather about the progress of the ANA and the expected success of the transition to Afghan security forces, the American Special Forces seem to be busy setting up militias all over Afghanistan, perhaps in the grim realization that these militias are the only native force capable of actually eradicating the Taliban.

This would be welcome news indeed, if it is true, because it finally faces the truth that Afghanistan today simply cannot function as a modern, centrally governed nation state.   This is not to say that it never has in the past (clearly it has) nor that it will never function as one in the future, but only that the combination of religious fanaticism, the interference of Pakistan (and Iran to some extent), the ethnic divisions and the drug trade militate in favor of local control.    And this seems to be the main trade-off where militias effectively keep out the Taliban but bring their own set of problems:

Kunduz Province is divided into fiefdoms, each controlled by one of the new militias. In Khanabad district alone, I counted nine armed groups. Omar’s is among the biggest; another is led by a rival, on the northern bank of the Khanabad River, named Mir Alam. Like Omar, Alam was a commander during the civil war. He was a member of Jamiat-e-Islami. Alam and his men, who declined to speak to me, are said to be paid by the Afghan government.

As in the nineties, the militias around Kunduz have begun fighting each other for territory. They also steal, tax, and rape. “I have to give ten per cent of my crops to Mir Alam’s men,” a villager named Mohammad Omar said. (He is unrelated to the militia commander.) “That is the only tax I pay. The government is not strong enough to collect taxes.” When I accompanied the warlord Omar to Jannat Bagh, one of the villages under his control, his fighters told me that Mir Alam’s men were just a few hundred yards away. “We fight them whenever they try to move into our village,” one of Omar’s men said.

U.S. policy in Afghanistan, then, must take a hard look  at our national interests.   The primary, national interest for the United States in Afghanistan is to ensure that international terrorists do not find safe havens from which to plot and launch attacks against U.S. interests.   If militias will ensure that their territory will not be used for Islamist terror activities, that is enough.   We may be able to exercise some leverage over warlords and militias by doling out more arms and money to those who refrain from humanitarian abuses, but it is not in our national interest to force-feed an entire nation on Western morality and values as we have done for the last 11 years.

In fact, some Afghans appear to be leaning in the direction of a decentralized approach:

One political change that might prevent civil war, some opposition leaders say, would be the imposition of a federal system in which power would devolve to the provinces. Such a move could essentially cede dominion to the Taliban in the south and the east but protect the rest of the country. In 2004, when the new Afghan constitution was ratified, under American supervision, the central government, in Kabul, was given extraordinary powers, including the right to appoint local officials. The hope then was that a strong central government would unite the country.

If a federal system were to be adopted, some Afghan leaders say, it might matter less to the Tajiks and other minorities if the Taliban were allowed to govern Pashtun provinces in the south and the east. (How it would matter to the Pashtuns, and particularly to Pashtun women, isn’t much discussed.) As it is, many of the most prominent leaders of Afghanistan’s minority groups appear to be preparing for civil war.

While I disagree that the U.S. needs to “cede dominion to the Taliban in the south and the east” (there is no reason to think that Pashtun militias could not be set up in these regions as in other areas), the fact remains that Afghanistan is headed for division one way or another.  Current U.S. policy is wishful thinking and a criminal waste of American lives and treasure.

As a parting thought, it is even possible that by empowering local militias and tribes in this fashion, the U.S. may be able to deal a severe if not fatal blow to the Islamists across the border in Pakistan.  It is axiomatic that insurgencies work in both directions.   If Pakistan can support, for example, the Haqqanis in infiltrating into Afghanistan, so, too, can the U.S. support Pashtun militias on the Afghan side of the border to infiltrate and take away territory from Islamists in the FATA.   This provides U.S. policymakers with a unique lever in the tense relations with Pakistan.   This approach also allows a dramatically smaller footprint for U.S. forces in Afghanistan, enough one would expect, to deprive Pakistan of its logistical choke-hold.

If there is a new Administration in 2013, a new approach in Afghanistan is at least possible.

Savage Religious Beliefs: The Abuse Of Women

BY Herschel Smith
4 years, 5 months ago

Fresh from a sermon today where the pastor said, “Don’t you ever strike a woman and call yourself a Christian” (a statement with which I heartily agree), we read this:

A shot rings out, but the burqa-clad woman sitting on the rocky ground does not respond.

The man pointing a rifle at her from a few feet away lets loose another round, but still there is no reaction.

He fires a third shot, and finally the woman slumps backwards.

But the man fires another shot.

And another. And another.

Nine shots in all.

Around him, dozens of men on a hillside cheer: “God is great!”

Officials in Afghanistan, where the amateur video was filmed, believe the woman was executed because two Taliban commanders had a dispute over her, according to the governor of the province where the killing took place.

Both apparently had some kind of relationship with the woman, said Parwan province governor Abdul Basir Salangi.

“In order to save face,” they accused her of adultery, Salangi said.

Then they “faked a court to decide about the fate of this woman and in one hour, they executed the woman,” he added.

Both Taliban commanders were subsequently killed by a third Taliban commander, Salangi said.

“We went there to investigate and we are still looking for people who were involved in this brutal act,” he said.

It is not clear from the video when it was filmed.

The killing took place in the village of Qimchok, not far north of the capital Kabul.

Just as troubling is the fact that this occurred not far from the so-called capital of Afghanistan.  And was it ever really in doubt what would happen if we failed to kill the enemy before withdrawing from Afghanistan?

Lessons Learned in the War With Militant Islam, Part Two: Disproportionate Response

BY Glen Tschirgi
4 years, 10 months ago

This is the second installment of a little series I have started on TCJ which attempts to summarize some of the important lessons that America should have learned in its ongoing war with Militant Islam.

Part One of the series, “Naming the Enemy,” is here for those getting in late.

Lesson Two

Respond to asymmetrical attacks with overwhelming firepower and force, Proportional Response Doctrine Notwithstanding.

Hopefully we have learned that the American military is at its best when it is unleashed to do its worst.   When U.S. forces are allowed to employ the full range of firepower against the enemy, the results are not only devastating but a true blow on behalf of peace and freedom.

Recall the infamous Highway of Death leading out of Kuwait in 1991.  U.S. air assets created a literal hell on earth for the fleeing Iraqi military, blasting apart everything that tried to move along the highway out of Kuwait.  Because of the demonstration of air power and lethal force, the Iraqi resistance completely collapsed.   You can be sure that the memory of that torment was alive and real in the minds of Iraqi soldiers when the U.S. military came rolling into Iraq in 2003.   And many, many lives were spared as a result.   The Iraqis knew what the American military was capable of doing to them and wisely chose to disband rather than to undergo a similar baptism of fire.

This was the exact lesson drawn by General William T. Sherman in the American Civil War and by George S. Patton in World War II.  War is the worst experience of the fallen, human condition.   The horror of war, therefore, must be brought home to the enemy in sufficient measure so that any illusions about continuing the fight are forever banished.   General Sherman to this very day is hated by many in the South simply by virtue of his ruinous campaign of 1864-1865, the infamous, March to the Sea.   But Sherman’s devastation of large parts of Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina brought the war home to the Confederacy in a way nothing else could have and helped prevent a Confederate guerrilla war after Lee surrendered at Appomattox.

Patton, too, believed that the surest way of saving lives and ending war most quickly involved brutal, relentless, wholesale envelopment and destruction of the enemy armies en masse.   Patton was a fierce critic of Eisenhower’s plodding tactic of attrition which Patton considered cruel and contrary to the very nature of the American fighting man.   The strategy of head-on attack in the face of a fortified enemy caused thousands of needless deaths of American soldiers.   It has been suggested by historian Victor Davis Hanson that Patton could have saved the lives of millions of Holocaust victims if he had been supplied and allowed to push his attack across the Rhine in 1944.  Similarly, the U.S. bombing campaigns against Germany and Japan in World War II were brutal but considered necessary to disrupt industry and break German morale.

Somehow the U.S. attitude has evolved into a nonsensical “kinder and gentler” way of war.  Perhaps this is the result of the doctrine of “Proportional Response” that is embedded in the additional protocols to the Geneva Conventions in 1977 (protocols to which the U.S. is not a signatory).   This doctrine aims to limit both the resort to armed force and the type of actions undertaken once armed force has been initiated.   Proportional Response, however, took its modern form in the aftermath of total war in World War II.   The limitations attempt to spare civilian populations from the horrors of war, particularly where no, legitimate military advantage can be gained.

Unfortunately, warfare in the 21st Century has side-stepped the best intentions of the Geneva protocols.   And, I would argue, this is actually a deliberate development by asymmetric enemies such as Militant Islam that shrewdly recognize the weakness of States which feel bound to the protocols even where the Islamists do not.  So, for example, it has become routine practice for Al Qaeda to insinuate itself in the midst of civilian populations for the deliberate purpose of using the population as a shield against attacks by U.S. forces.   The Taliban practice this as well to devastating effect, forcing U.S. commanders to let enemy combatants go free or risk being brought up on charges like the Haditha Marines.

In Afghanistan we see the insidious effect of these ever more rigid and paralyzing rules of engagement, including restrictions on the use of artillery and close air support that result in higher U.S. casualties and more enemies who live to fight another day.   In Iraq, we failed to crush Al Sadr and his Iranian-sponsored militia on several occasions, leaving them intact to terrorize and intimidate legitimate political opposition groups.  Iraq to this very day is paying a heavy price for the survival of Sadr.

Such self-restraint, in the final tally, gains the U.S. nothing.   Such restraint has not garnered us any respect or appreciation from our Militant Islamic enemies nor even from the Middle Eastern population at large.  They view restraint as weakness.    The enemy has taken every advantage of this restraint with perhaps the best example being the Taliban who fire at U.S. forces and then promptly drop their weapons because they know the ROE’s prevent return fire on “unarmed civilians.”   The U.S. is thus held in contempt.   The result of such contempt can only be an incitement to the enemy to multiply plans for attacks against the U.S.

Surely a clear lesson in all of this is that the U.S. must employ overwhelming force in the face of asymmetric attacks.  The alternative of investing tens of thousands of ground forces to conduct anti-insurgent operations with one hand tied behind the back must never be repeated.

How’s That Democracy Thing Working For You? Egypt and the U.S. Face Reality

BY Glen Tschirgi
5 years, 4 months ago

This is not looking good.

According to this report in The Wall Street Journal, the secular, pro-democracy movement in Egypt received a beat-down by the Egyptian military and ordinary Egyptian citizens who are increasingly backing the Army and Islamist groups like The Muslim Brotherhood.

CAIRO—Mobs of ordinary Egyptians joined with soldiers to drive pro-democracy protesters from their encampment in Tahrir Square here Monday, showing how far the uprising’s early heroes have fallen in the eyes of the public.

Six months after young, liberal activists helped lead the popular movement that ousted President Hosni Mubarak, the hard core of these protesters was forcibly dispersed by the troops. Some Egyptians lined the street to applaud the army. Others ganged up on the activists as they retreated from the square that has come to symbolize the Arab Spring.

Squeezed between an assertive military and the country’s resurgent Islamist movement, many Internet-savvy, pro-democracy activists are finding it increasingly hard to remain relevant in a post-revolutionary Egypt that is struggling to overcome an economic crisis and restore law and order.

As if this is not bad enough the Muslim Brotherhood used this occasion to demonstrate its muscles, gathering “hundreds of thousands” to Tahrir Square a few days before:

Monday’s turmoil in Tahrir followed a massive Friday demonstration on the same square by hundreds of thousands of Islamists, who called for transforming Egypt into an Islamic state—and railed against the liberal and secular youths who had helped motivate millions to rise up against Mr. Mubarak.

The Islamists’ numbers dwarfed those of the activists who have re-occupied Cairo’s central square since July 8, criticizing the slow pace of reforms, calling for police accountability and pressing for speedier trials of Mr. Mubarak and his associates. The Tahrir sit-in was organized by the April 6 Movement, one of the uprising’s main planners, other youth groups and relatives of protesters killed in the weeks before Mr. Mubarak’s ouster on Feb. 11.

The repercussions of an Islamist Egypt could hardly be worse.  Besides the obvious threat to Israel, there is every chance that Egypt could align itself closely with the increasingly Islamist Turkey and join what appears to be the makings of an Islamist Bloc including not just Turkey, but Syria, Lebanon, Iran and Gaza.

The timing could hardly be worse for U.S. interests.  Under the just-completed debt ceiling legislation, defense spending could be slashed with dire consequences for U.S. force-projection capabilities.  Compounding this is the ongoing refusal of the Obama Administration to take the choke-hold off of oil and gas leasing approvals, resulting in an increasing shortage of domestic production and ever-greater dependence on foreign oil.  Add to this the growing influence of China and Russia in the Middle East and the U.S. is facing the prospect of having very little influence in this critical part of the world at a time when we need it most.

Perhaps worst of all, the WSJ piece ends on a note that reverberates right here in the United States:

Unlike in previous skirmishes, the activists interviewed Monday didn’t allege to be the victims of thugs paid by the government.

“The people were beating us and helping the army,” said protester Mahmoud Abdallah, catching his breath in a side street off Tahrir as an army truck hauled away detainees. “The people don’t know what is good for them. They don’t have any awareness. They just want to make money.”

As he spoke, Tareq Shawky, a 42-year-old toilet equipment vendor, interrupted the conversation. He said he had heard about the army moving against the protesters, and drove to the square so he could help dismantle the encampment.

“The Egyptian citizen wants only two things—security and low prices,” Mr. Shawky shouted. “The millions of Egyptians will do anything that the army tells us to do.”

This is the bottom line, isn’t it?

When Government-provided security and subsidies become the paramount concern of citizens, then democracy no longer exists.  There are no, real limits on Government under this mindset.

Egypt seemed to be emerging from an authoritarian legacy with dreams of founding a new society where basic, human rights were protected and valued.   Sadly, it seems that most Egyptians care more for safety and free bread.

And here in the United States, in a little over 200 years, we have, generation by generation, bartered away our independence for Government promises of security and subsidies:  Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, unemployment insurance,Pell grants, Minimum Wage, Farm subsidies, Ethanol subsidies… the list is endless.   Even when faced with imminent, national bankruptcy, the thought of any change whatsoever to these entitlements is unthinkable for most Americans.   To merely revise bargaining rights of a public employee union results in riots and the occupation of government buildings.

In the recent “crisis” over the debt ceiling, several polls showed that a lopsided majority of Americans wanted government to reduce spending, but not at the expense of any of their favorite programs.  There is only one place where this attitude leads:  systemic failure leading to societal collapse leading, inevitably, to authoritarianism.

But, hey, why let a little thing like financial collapse ruin the party?

When It Comes to Pakistan, We Just Can’t Handle the Truth

BY Glen Tschirgi
5 years, 6 months ago

Here is yet another example of the now infamous double-game being played by Pakistan, our so-called ally in the war against Islamic fundamentalism:

Twice in the last few weeks, US intelligence officials have provided the Pakistanis with the coordinates of bomb factories in the rugged tribal region of Waziristan, on the Afghan border — only to see the info leak to the enemy, who evacuated the sites before the Pakistani military arrived.

***

Incoming Defense Secretary Leon Panetta arrived in Pakistan Friday to discuss “rebuilding” the Pakistan-US relationship, and reportedly confronted his hosts with the evidence that they’d tipped off the Taliban about the bomb sites.

This is just getting tiresome beyond words.

Is it even worth keeping score any longer?  Why does the U.S. continue to allow the Pakistanis to get away with this kind of thing?

There is only one reason I can find: we just can’t face the consequences of putting the screws to Pakistan.

The Obama Administration is afraid that even a hint or threat of even reduced aid will push the Pakistanis over the edge and into the arms of the Islamofascists.   Which is to say that Pakistan would openly embrace the terrorists rather than just discreetly.

As the Captain pointed out years ago, if the U.S. had any strategic sense, it would have developed alternative logistical routes to Afghanistan that did not depend upon Pakistan.   As it is, we are precariously reliant upon the Pakistanis keeping the land route open for the bulk of supplies coming into Afghanistan.

Other than having to find a new route to keep the campaign supplied, the other consequence of denying aid to Pakistan would be the loss of what little presence Pakistan still allows to CIA operatives who help to track down and target terrorists inside Pakistan.  Is this limited capability so vitally important that we are willing to fund a government that actively works against us as much as it does with us?  Given the increasing restrictions placed on operations within Pakistan, it is doubtful that the gains at this point are worth the losses.   Would a drone strike from a CIA base in Pakistan really have much of an effect on the Afghan Campaign?   If the death of Bin Laden made no impact, what would?

Then there is the benefit of clarity.   Having Pakistan as a declared enemy in the Afghan Campaign would certainly not be welcome, but at least the U.S. could take actions in the porous border areas that it cannot with an “ally” that acts like an enemy.   Clarity can be a wonderful thing.   Ambiguity in this regard has left us in strategic knots, knowing where the Taliban are getting re-supplied and trained but unable to effectively do anything about it.

Finally, the U.S. may have far more to gain by cutting Pakistan loose and allying closely with India.  As it is, the U.S. must temper its cooperation and policies with India due to Pakistani sensitivities.   If Pakistan is determined to act like a rogue state, then the U.S. is far better off developing closer ties to India, not only in regard to Afghanistan (where India could become a major player and partner) but also as a strategic counterweight to China and Russia.

It is high time for Pakistan to decide whether it belongs to civilization or to the barbarians.  By the same token, it is high time that the U.S. faced up to the hard truth:  Pakistan, for whatever reason, is not willing to remove the terror bases from their territory and must be treated accordingly.

Al Qaeda Online Lashes Out at Taliban

BY Herschel Smith
8 years, 9 months ago

A few days ago saw a strange dust-up between hardened Taliban fighters – the ones who drove the Soviet Union out of Afghanistan – and young Internet jihadists (although the Taliban would not have noticed or cared even if they did).

CAIRO, Egypt —  Al Qaeda supporters on the Web have unleashed an unprecedented flood of criticism of Afghanistan’s Taliban, once seen by extremists as the model of an Islamic state.

Now extremists accuse the Taliban of straying from the path of global jihad after its leader Mullah Omar issued a statement saying he seeks good relations with the world and even sympathizes with Shiite Iran.

In February, the Taliban announced it wanted to maintain good and “legitimate” relations with neighboring countries. Then, last week online militants were outraged when the movement expressed solidarity with Iran, condemning the latest round of sanctions imposed on Tehran by the U.N. Security Council over its nuclear enrichment.

The Shiite Islamic state of Iran is viewed as anathema by the Sunni militants of the Al Qaeda and other extremist movements.

“This is the worst statement I have ever read … the disaster of defending the (Iranian) regime is on par with the Crusaders in Afghanistan and Iraq,” wrote poster Miskeen, whose name translates literally as “the wretched” and who is labeled as one of the more influential writers on an Al Qaeda linked Web site …

“The Taliban seeks to be a respected political movement that can at the same time govern Afghanistan and be at limited peace with its neighbors,” said Rita Katz, the director of the Washington-based SITE Intelligence Group which monitors militant Web traffic.

But she cautioned that the “Taliban’s surprising call to support Iran in the face of new U.N. sanctions does not mean that the group is suddenly offering unequivocal support to Iran,” though it shows readiness to coexist with the neighbor.

Cairo-based expert on Islamic movements Diaa Rashwan linked the Taliban’s quest for international legitimacy to possible future negotiations with the Afghan government.

“Mullah Omar’s statement about good relations are in response to accusations from the West that the Taliban is radical and does not accept dialogue or negotiations with others,” he said.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai said in September he was ready to negotiate with the Taliban, including Mullah Omar himself, to put an end to the insurgency, while U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan William Wood said in December he would support reconciliation talks, with some conditions.

“The only problem about an eventual compromise with the Taliban is the fate of Al Qaeda, whether it will be expelled from Afghanistan or commit itself to the Afghan government,” Rashwan said.

The Afghan Taliban have always been nationalistic and focused primarily on Afghanistan.  We covered the recent somewhat amicable split between the Afghan Taliban and Baitullah Mehsud’s Pakistani Taliban, with Mehsud focused not only on the overthrow of Pakistan’s regime, but on global democracy as well.

“We will teach him [Musharraf] a lesson that will be recorded in the pages of history in letters of gold. The crimes of these murderers, who were acting at Bush’s command, are unforgivable. Soon, we will take vengeance upon them for destroying the mosques. The pure land of Pakistan does not tolerate traitors. They must flee to America and live there. Here, Musharraf will live to regret his injustice towards the students of the Red Mosque. Allah willing, Musharraf will suffer great pain, along with all his aides. The Muslims will never forgive Musharraf for the sin he committed.  We want to eradicate Britain and America, and to shatter the arrogance and tyranny of the infidels. We pray that Allah will enable us to destroy the White House, New York, and London.”

Pakistan is seeing and has seen since 2007 an influx of global jihadists into the NWFP and FATA areas of Pakistan, so there is no paucity of international fighters who will participate in a global war.  The so-called “nationalistic” tendencies of the Afghan Taliban are just that – political machinations intended to place them in the best possible position to regain power in the area.  They haven’t change their core values any more than al Qaeda has.

The picture of reactionary boy-jihadists and computer jocks presuming to chastise hard core Afghan Taliban would otherwise be humorous if not for the fact that these forums and chat rooms are recruiting grounds for future jihadists.  In case anyone doubts the ongoing threat of a transnational insurgency, this incident should remind us all just what General Abizaid intended when he coined the phrase “the long war.”

Iranian Hegemony in Iraq

BY Herschel Smith
8 years, 9 months ago

General Petraeus warned us.  In testimony before Congress in September of 2007, he said “You cannot win in Iraq solely in Iraq.”  He also said that “It is increasingly apparent to both coalition and Iraqi leaders that Iran, through the use of the Quds force, seeks to turn the Iraqi special groups into a Hezbollah-like force to serve its interests and fight a proxy war against the Iraqi state and coalition forces in Iraq.”

Fast forward to the recent trip by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Iraq.  Alireza Jafarzadeh gives us some sense of what this was like for Iraq

Behind the orchestrated pomp and pageantry during the visit to Baghdad last weekend by the Iranian ayatollahs’ president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, it was hard to miss the revulsion of Iraqis of all stripes. Adjectives like “historic” could not disguise the frustrating reality for Ahmadinejad and the ayatollahs: outside of Iraqi political spheres dominated by Tehran surrogates, they are seen as enemies of a secure, non-sectarian and democratic Iraq.

The greeting parties, in the Baghdad airport and later in various government buildings, were who’s who of Tehran’s proxies in Iraq’s government. They “listened to Ahmadinejad,” according to McClatchy News Service, “without need of translation into Arabic, clearly comfortable hearing his Farsi.” Not surprising; for more than two decades, they were employed by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, the Qods Force, and the Ministry of Intelligence. Learning Farsi was a job requirement.

Outside of the very limited segment of Baghdad where Ahmadinejad visited, there was outrage. A young Baghdad resident told the New York Times, “I think Ahmadinejad is the most criminal and bloody person in the world. This visit degrades Iraq’s dignity.” Up north in Kirkuk, where Arab tribes and political parties rallied against Ahmadinejad’s visit, a tribal leader told the Times, “How can we tolerate this? Today we live under the regime of the clerics. The Iranian revolution has been exported to Iraq.” An Iraqi businessman added, “His visit is intended to reassure his followers here,” but is “provoking and enraging” the rest of Iraq … “Your mortars preceded your visit,” one placard read. Another read, “We condemn visit of terrorist and butcher Ahmadinejad to Iraq,” according to the Associated Press.

But those mortars fell strangely silent during the visit.  Azzaman is reporting what most main stream media is not, when they observe that:

Sunday was perhaps Iraqi capital’s quietest day since the country plunged into violence shortly after the U.S. invasion in 2003.

No car bomb explosions, shelling or kidnapping were reported and analysts attributed the calm to the landmark visit by Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Daily bombings, explosions and kidnapping have become part of life in Baghdad.

But the calm that descended on the restive capital on Sunday and Monday night was unprecedented, analysts said.

Many attributed the quiet to government’s decision to cordon off large parts of Baghdad and ban traffic in many districts and over several bridges.

But an Iraqi intelligence source said groups fighting U.S. troops and those responsible for the ongoing violence had put a temporary halt to their activities.

This shows, he said, how influential Iran has become in Iraq and the role it plays in assisting and arming these groups.

It didn’t take long for the bombs to begin again in Iraq after Ahmadinejad’s visit.  “Two bombs went off within minutes of each other in a crowded shopping district in the capital Thursday, killing at least 53 people and wounding 130—a reminder that deadly attacks are a daily threat even though violence is down.”

It isn’t difficult to catalogue actions to begin to hold the radical Ayatollahs and their henchmen accountable.  Here at The Captain’s Journal we have advocated the formulation and funding of an insurgency within Iran to assist in toppling the regime.  Some bolder recommendations from various corners (Newt Gingrich) have involved targeting oil.  For the more faint of heart there is simply political pressure and funding of opposition within Iran.

But even this last option is too much for the State Department.  As we pointed out three months ago, “In an overlooked and almost silent murder, the State Department recently worked directly against both the objectives of the executive branch of the government and the security interests of the United States by killing a program that would have aided democracy in Iran.”

The former director of President Bush’s flagship democracy program for the Middle East is saying that the State Department has “effectively killed” a program to disburse millions of dollars to Iran’s liberal opposition.In an interview yesterday, Scott Carpenter said a recent decision to move the $75 million annual aid program for Iranian democrats to the State Department’s Office of Iranian Affairs would effectively neuter an initiative the president had intended to spur democracy inside the Islamic Republic.”In my view, this pretty much kills the Iran democracy program,” Mr. Carpenter said of the decision by the State Department to subsume the program. “There is not the expertise, there is not the energy for it. The Iran office is worried about the bilateral policy. I think they are not committed to this anymore.”Mr. Carpenter, who headed the Middle East Partnership Initiative and was a Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs until he left the Bush administration this summer, predicted the $20 million devoted to supporting the activities inside the Islamic Republic would be relegated to what he called “safe initiatives” such as student exchange programs, and not the more daring projects he and his deputy, David Denehy, funded, such as training for Web site operators to evade Internet censorship, political polling, and training on increasing recruitment for civil society groups.

Within a month or two of General Petraeus reminding us that we cannot win in Iraq if we engage Iraq alone, the State Department killed the sole remaining democracy project for Iran.  This intransigence within professional government employees and recalcitrance of even the administration to deal with Iran would be merely a strategic blunder if so many sons of America had not shed blood on Iraqi soil.  Because of blood, this stubborness has become sin – a failure in righteousness and morality and decency.  The blood of American warriors awaits vindication.

Mookie’s Mischief

BY Herschel Smith
8 years, 9 months ago

It has been speculated that Moqtada al Sadr would not renew his cease fire with U.S. troops (and opposing Shi’a elements).  It is well known that I have strongly advocated the assassination of Mookie, and I have cried buckets of tears over my schemes for his demise.  Because of this interest (obsession?), an individual (unnamed shooter from an undisclosed location – a buddy of mine) sends me this shot … um, picture, with Mookie in his sights as I write.  As he sent it we were both repeating deep and meaningful chants and congratulating each other on this lifetime achievement.

mookie_targeted1.jpg

Unfortunately for my well laid plans, Mookie appears to be smarter than to start up the fight again with U.S. troops, so I must wait still longer.

Obama’s Folly: Plan for Disaster

BY Herschel Smith
9 years, 4 months ago

Barack Hussein Obama flexed American muscle a couple of days ago concerning Pakistan.

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama said Wednesday that he would possibly send troops into Pakistan to hunt down terrorists, an attempt to show strength when his chief rival has described his foreign policy skills as naive.

The Illinois senator warned Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf that he must do more to shut down terrorist operations in his country and evict foreign fighters under an Obama presidency, or Pakistan will risk a U.S. troop invasion and losing hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. military aid.

“Let me make this clear,” Obama said in a speech prepared for delivery at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. “There are terrorists holed up in those mountains who murdered 3,000 Americans. They are plotting to strike again. It was a terrible mistake to fail to act when we had a chance to take out an al-Qaida leadership meeting in 2005. If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf won’t act, we will.”

Only a single word is necessary at this point: disaster.  The incomparable Ralph Peters puts some flesh on the skeleton called disaster.

Here’s why he’s nuts:

* Pakistan is a nuclear power on the brink of internal collapse. Do we really want to drive it over the edge and see loose nukes in the hands of a radicalized military faction – or terrorists?

* The mountain ranges where the terrorists are holed up are vast. The terrain is some of the toughest in the world. An invasion would suck in hundreds of thousands of troops. And a long occupation would be required.

* Even those tribesmen who don’t support the Taliban or al Qaeda are proud and xenophobic to extremes – they’d rally against us. And all of the senator’s bloggers couldn’t stop them.

* The Pakistani military would fight us. Right now, they’re cooperating, at least to some degree – but they’d fight any invader.

* President Pervez Musharraf’s government would fall – probably overthrown by Islamic nationalists in the military and security services. Welcome to your Islamofascist nuclear power, senator.

* We’d also have to occupy a big corridor through Baluchistan, Pakistan’s vast southwest, since we’d lose our current overflight rights and hush-hush transit privileges on the ground.

An army at war needs a lot of fuel, ammunition, food, water, Band-Aids, replacements, etc. (not the sort of things armchair strategists bother about). Afghanistan is landlocked and surrounded by unfriendly states. Pakistan has been helping us keep our troops supplied. And you couldn’t sustain Operation Obama by air. The senator hasn’t even looked at a map.

* Along with giving away the game in Iraq, an invasion of Pakistan would create a terrorist-recruiting double whammy: The Middle East would mobilize against us – and what could we expect after we invaded a friendly Islamic state?

* Our troops are tired and their gear’s worn out. (Obama wouldn’t know, and he doesn’t care.) They’re fighting on in Iraq because they see progress and they have a sense of duty. But does the senator, who clearly doesn’t know any soldiers and Marines, expect them to surrender Iraq – then plunge into Pakistan without a collapse in morale?

* Even setting aside the nuke issue, what would President Obama do when Pakistan, an Islamic nation of 170 million, broke into bits? Would we also occupy Karachi, Lahore and other megacities, after they turned into urban jungles where the terrorist became the king of beasts?

Go after al Qaeda? You bet. Anywhere, anytime. But we’ve got to do it in a way that makes military sense. A general staff recruited from MoveOn.org isn’t going to enhance our security.

The world would be a safer place if we could reverse time to ensure that Abdul Qadeer Khan didn’t exist, but this isn’t possible.  With a nuclear Pakistan, a nuclear India, a radical Islamist part of the population in Pakistan, and a moderately secular and pro-West Musharraf in a tenuous perch as President, this region of the world is a flash point.  It must be handled with soft velvet gloves on an iron fist.  It presents perhaps the most complicated knot of problems any American President will ever face.

While I am no fan of Dick Armitage, the world was safer when, upon nuclear sabre rattling and threats of war over Kashmir several years ago between Pakistan and India (among other disagreements), he took assignment from the President and let both countries know just exactly how the chest butting was going to end.  And then it ended without so much as a whimper or whisper.

Agreements to cooperate and send special forces and Marines (along with Pakistani forces) on targeted raids of al Qaeda and Taliban fighters, directed and precise air power, robust kinetic and nonkinetic operations in Afghanistan, intelligence gathering, financial pressure, largesse, and intense and close friendship between administrations — these are the things of victory in this region.  Land invasion is not.  Neither is chest butting.

In further news, we learn that Obama has no plan for the exercise of nuclear power, or he does, or perhaps he doesn’t.  U.S. presidential hopeful Barack Obama said Thursday he would not use nuclear weapons “in any circumstance” to fight terrorism in Afghanistan and Pakistan, drawing criticism from Hillary Rodham Clinton and other Democratic rivals.  “I think it would be a profound mistake for us to use nuclear weapons in any circumstance,” Obama said, with a pause, “involving civilians.” Then he quickly added, “Let me scratch that. There’s been no discussion of nuclear weapons. That’s not on the table.”

So he would send U.S. troops into a land where they are likely to take one hundred thousand casualties and inflict a million, and he has no plan if Pakistan invokes the nukes?

One word: disaster.


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