Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A Muppet Christmas Carol

Very funny, and the film score written by the very talented Little Enos Burdette.

Brave Sir Julian's bail crash pad address to be revealed?

Leaks for thee but not for me, sayeth Brave Sir Julian:

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange tried to hide his bail address from the public in an astonishing move for the man responsible for leaking thousands of diplomatic secrets.
Assange's lawyers argued that the location - a 10-bedroom stately home - should not be disclosed on grounds of privacy during yesterday's hearing at City of Westminster Magistrates' Court.

But, we do know where this "stately home" is. Just ask Mikey the Hut.

Time for another Star Wars Analogy Test (SWAT) question. Can you fill in the blank?

Michael Moore offered to pony up 20k for Brave Sir Julian's bail. Thinking of the relative physique of these two gentlemen put me in mind of another similar friendly relationship from the original Star Wars trilogy:

Michael Moore is to Jaba the Hut as Julian Assange is to ______.

Fill in the blank folks, answer in a day or two...

Afghanistan Link-O-Rama

Ahead of the Thursday release of the President's progress report, stories are coming fast and furious:

NIE: Pakistan is not being helpful. And because they are either unwilling or unable to do something about the safe haven given insurgent recruiters and higher ups on their side of the border, we are not going to be able to stem the flow of fighters. In the interests of safeguarding their nukes, we are in essence rewarding bad behavior on the part of the Paks, because, as usual, we send them substantial financial assistance, both for the civilian side, and the military, and they ain't doin' squat in return but playing their double game. We tolerate this for fear of projected worse consequences of the Pak state's collapse

Yes, but, the primary source of fighters recruited by these cross-border recruiters are local area boys in the areas of Af. they are operating in. So, if we can successfully apply some COIN in those areas (something the military guys on the ground say we are managing to do rather well in areas) we can dry up that source. (Why fight for Haqqani when I can find gainful employment in less life-threatening pursuits?) Consequently, over the long haul the recruiters will not succeed, even if they continue to have safe haven in Pak. So sayeth Max the Boot .

Max the Boot also points out that the NIE has a flaw. The cut - off date for actual data from Afghanistan included in the report was Oct. 1, 2010, and has not taken into account significant military gains since then. Also, it was written by intel folks in Washington, and did not include reports or views of military boots on the ground.

And in this brief WaPo preview of the progress report, we find out that the admin is aware that the NIE is already outdated with regard to the effects of the 2009 surge, and spot on with regard to the Paks not really being our best buds. Additionally insurgents are not exactly competent in successfully carrying out their brave attacks on civilians and military targets, completely missing the mark, unable to kill or cause damages of any kind in a full 70% of their attempts. [Incompetence is a sign that the ranks are being decimated of experienced fighters, and they are being replaced with greenhorn relatively amateurish youngsters. Positive developments we saw in Iraq over the years from 2006/7, and have seen over the year more globally from AQ.] No shocker also, that the report cites high concern for the prospects of Karzai's government attaining the sort of legitimacy it needs to serve as the vital local capstone to COIN.

LA Times: Obama isn't thinking of a serious pull out until 2014, the CIA defends itself saying it does have boots on the ground (but does not contest the charge that the NIE is dated, in fact, the story is silent about their having said anything about that particular charge, interesting), CIA drone strikes are doing a good job of degrading the numbers of the enemy (in particular the Haqqani network), and the PAKs by funding the enemy, see themselves as hedging their bets, positioning themselves to have influence when we leave.

None of this is particularly surprising. How to deal with it all? The dangerously amateurish cowboy in me (who has a touch of the developmental psychologist as well) says, LOOK it is just bleeding obvious that we have been and are continuing to enable the Paks in their bad behavior when we, year upon year, send the vast amount of funding we send without really holding them accountable for actually cleaning up their ISI and border areas. So, we should eliminate or reduce the funding, tying it very closely to demanding metrics we actually enforce. If they don't perform, they don't get the allowance. Bam. Works for kids doesn't it? (Damn. Isn't that a bit, well simplistic, and condescending a tone to take? Heh, Ah'm a dangerous cowboy. I dun told ya that, now. Ya hear?)

If there is no change after we go a couple of rounds enforcing the metric, we should then take dangerous cowboy step #2: stop pussyfooting around with the Paks, stop worrying about their sovereignty if they continue to look the other way, considerably step up operations in Pak territory, aerial droneage, special operations, and conventional if needs be. Put up with the inevitable hand-waving. What can the Paks really do other than hand-wave? They need us to be in the neighborhood. If it looks like this might destabilize the regime, placing nukes at jeopardy, go in secure the nukes, move them out or destroy them, (all with the willing cooperation, or coerced cooperation, of our erstwhile Pak friends of course).

Reckless Cowboy solution, Afghani edition: Introduce some sort of similarly strict metric for Karzai and the national government vis the corruption. If not met, very publicly announce the fact IN Afghanistan, forcing a parliamentary vote of no confidence in the government, and the attendant vote for a new government. In the meantime, continue to recruit and percolate up, competent and less corrupt locals to take the place of the national level politicians. In the end, we cannot enable continued bad behavior here any more than we can in Pak. In fact the need here to stem that behavior is all the more dire. We cannot leave a broken house. Of course do all this while developing the economy of the country. Probably, we will need to stay in longer than the 2014 date, but can significantly reduce our active military presence, turning things over to the ANA and police forces, as is now trending, taking up a role somewhat similar to that we now have in Iraq.

Hey, I told you this was all reckless unrealistic Cowboy developmental psychology.