Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Afghanistan is not Colombia

Neocons will happily watch others pay any price and bear any burden...

This article caught my eye…
Plan Afghanistan
Why the Colombia model -- even if it means drug war and armed rebellion -- is the best chance for U.S. success in Central Asia.

Strange though it may sound, success in Afghanistan would look a lot more like the success that has been achieved in Colombia over the last 10 years, rather than the success that we are hoping for in Iraq.  (FP – Plan Afghanistan)
The "Experts" are Wrong

Every now and then I stumble across “experts” discussing issues that I have unique insight into. This is one of them. I’ve deployed to Afghanistan and I’ve deployed to Colombia, so I know what I’m talking about here. To put it bluntly, Paul Wolfowitz and Michael O'Hanlon are full of shit and nobody in their right mind should listen to them.

Afghanistan is not Colombia, and what worked in Colombia will not work in Afghanistan, for a host of reasons.

The Colombian conflict, sparked by “El Bogotazo” back in 1948, eventually spawned the armed communist rebel organization known as FARC. Through all of the violence, Colombia has continued to be an intact country, and has a rich history of democratic republicanism going back to the early 1800’s.   Afghanistan has never been more than a loose confederation of heterogeneous peoples with little loyalty outside family and tribe.

Afghanistan’s many factions suffer from a paucity of shared institutions and values

Tribal rule and Sharia reign over this variegated patchwork of peoples. It is a Hobbesian nightmare of chaos and misery where life is nasty, brutish and short. In stark contrast, Colombia enjoys a tradition of western civilization, European jurisprudence and republican democracy that binds the country’s fairly homogenous population. The fact that Colombia has remained intact, and even thrived, as the FARC continues to melt deeper into the jungle, a whimpering shadow of its former self, makes these factors I mention self-evident.

Colombia has a serious government supported by patriotic citizens who are determined to defeat their common enemy

Indeed, with Colombia, we are aiding a central government fighting a rebel band that had lost the sympathy of the poor people they were supposedly fighting for. Even leftist sympathizers in other Latin American countries no longer give this ragtag band of kidnappers and drug dealers solidarity shout outs.

Unlike kleptocratic Afghanistan and its multifarious mistrustful factions, Colombia has enough honest politicians, judges, military and police willing to lay it on the line for the love of their nation, and the success they’ve enjoyed over the past 30 years in breaking the cartels and attriting FARC gives testament to that. Afghanistan is a sinkhole of corruption, with no one willing to give it up for a Greater Afghan Nation. Colombians do their own fighting; Afghan soldiers and policemen let us do their fighting for them, and shoot at us every chance they get.

Bogota is a peaceful city; Kabul is not… 

I could go on and on, but you must see my point by now. The Colombian people have a unity of purpose and a shared love of country and respect for her institutions that is non-existent in Afghanistan.  Colombians have tired of the violence; Afghans worship death and would happily let the blood orgy continue without end.

Add to this that our troops were able to partner with Colombian troops in a way that has been impossible to do with the Afghans. Colombian and American cultures are not really that far apart, especially when the Americans are Hispanic or understand Hispanic culture. At a remote outpost in rural Colombia, I saw a Colombian Army platoon and their Puerto Rican National Guard partners bid one another a tearful goodbye after having worked together for over four months on a radar project.

A “Plan Colombia” for Afghanistan will never work. It is naïve and foolish to think otherwise.  We should run, not walk, from this rancid and failed project known as Afghanistan.

Foreign Policy – Plan Afghanistan
AP – 13 Americans Killed in Taliban Bombing


Always On Watch said...

My cousin, a Marine who just returned from Afghanistan, announced to the family upon his return, "The situation in that sh*thole is hopeless."

Always On Watch said...

Ten years is too long, IMO.

Unknown said...

Our only true goal in Afghanistan is to rout whats left of the Al Qaeda and the Taliban, rebuild what we destroyed and go home. Now if we can just get Pakistan to commit to what they agreed to after 9-11, this thing would have been done long ago.
I agree here Silver on one aspect. Colombia model is not a smart idea, on their part.

Ducky's here said...

Afghanistan has not had a central government in recorded history and only the United States would be batshite crazy enough to think it could install one.

Out hubris at work once again.

Z said...

No, the two can't be compared, you're right, SF. and I enjoyed reading your thinking on this..thanks.
We tried to get them on their feet, not understanding it couldn't work; Russia had tried to swoop them up as another SSR and use them as they did the quickly some forget.

Finntann said...

That's our State Department... always fighting the last war.

Ducky's here said...

No z, nobody has forgotten.

We created the Taliban in order to save Afghanistan.

We've done the same thing in Somalia by weakening the Islamic Courts and now we are shipping in the advisers and drones to whack a few militants.

Pitch till you win.

Z said...

it's far better than pitching till you lose.

Ducky's here said...

According to the CIA factbook the income disparity in Colombia is the most extreme in South America.

I was surprised to learn they are the third largest oil exporter to the U.S.
Must explain why so many people lost their land to the oil companies but that's a tradition the Afghanis wouldn't understand.

Yeah, just keep FARC under control, kill some more unionists and all will be well.

And we have no shame.

Silverfiddle said...

So you're a fan of the FARC, Ducky?

Anonymous said...

It is not the Bogata I knew 5 years ago. A peaceful city?? I visited a family member who lived in a fortress with arm guards, and he was not a particularly wealthy guy. Glad to come back to the USA.

Anonymous said...

"This is a point that was made two-and-a-half years ago by Scott Wilson, a Washington Post reporter who had spent four years in Colombia as a correspondent and a year in Iraq. Writing in April 2009, Wilson said that Obama "may want to look south rather than east in charting a new course" for Afghanistan."

He must have spent four years chasing skirts because he knows nothing of Columbia and Ducky knows even less.

Fighting and dying is the culture of Afghanistan. Let them have at it.

Silverfiddle said...


I was not trying to make Bogota into the garden of Eden. Your knowledge is more current than mine, so I don't doubt you for a minute. Walled houses are common throughout Latin American capitals, and Bogota is no different.

My point is that I can't remember the last time FARC did anything significant there.

Given the choice of living in Bogota or Kabul, I'd take Bogota in a heartbeat, but I'm with you that there is no place like the land of the round doorknob.

Ducky's here said...

No Silverfiddle, I am not a fan of FARC. But I am also not a fan of the constant back and forth that ignores the circumstances that give rise to groups like FARC.

Nothing has been done to resolve those matters so we just wait for the pop in some other part of the world.

Silverfiddle said...

Human nature is never "resolved," Ducky. I don't know, but I imagine the Colombian oligarchs look towards Venezuela and treat the help just a little better.

While I am no Chavez fan, I understand how he happened and why.

Ducky's here said...

Why? Are the poor better off in Colombia?

I call bullshit.

Chavez for all his many faults did get some of that oil money distributed.

I don't know if he's killing unionists at the same rate as the Colombian.

Human nature is not to allow yourself to be fucked over by the American military.

Silverfiddle said...

Chavez for all his many faults did get some of that oil money distributed.

Yeah, to marxist criminals in Nicaragua, Colombia and Ecuador, among other places.

My point was that the Venezuelan oligarchy brought this on themselves, nothing more.

And speaking of calling bullshit, you need to put down the New Yorker and actually travel to some of these places to see what's really going on.

Your ignorance of Latin America is painful, and made worse by your filling it with latte leftist pedantry spewed by "experts" with Latin American Studies degrees from Taco Bell U.

MathewK said...

One reason why Columbia is not Afghanistan - islam.

So long as those savages in Afghanistan remain loyal to islam, they'll never even be a Columbia.

If anyone is bothered enough to change that shithole that is Afghanistan, you first have to tear it all down, destroy the mosques and drive islam out, convert them all to Christianity and the rest will fall into place.

Jersey McJones said...

Silver, easy with the "ignorance" thing. I've known many Colombians, and when they tell you about their country, while it may sound different from Afghanistan, it sure doesn't sound like a success story for the majority of the Colombian people. And we've been propping up crooked regimes and powers over there for a long, long time - since the 19th century.

Things may be "better" or "worse" in Afghanistan or Colombia, but these are highly subjective observations.

Neither place is a success story in any objective measure of quality of life.


Anonymous said...

The pattern of PLANNED FAILURE is so painfully obvious I can't believe I am the only one to notice it.

Ever since the end of WWII we have repeatedly gotten ourselves into military expeditions that that have cost us much in American lives and financial sacrifice, yet we have annexed no territory, taken over no industries, subjugated no native populations and made them do our bidding. In short the USA has gained absolutely NOTHING for all this waste of men and materiel, so why have we steadfastly pursued this insane policy for the past sixty-odd years?

Who could possibly be gaining any advantage from it other than the manufacturers and purveyors of was materiel -- i.e. the infamous MIC?

If anyone has a less cynical, more plausible interpretation I'd like to hear about it?

Or is this another question that must be waved off as "mere conspiracy theory?"

~ FreeThinke

Andrew33 said...

What do Alexander the Great, Michael Gorbachev, and Ghengis Khan all have in common?
Their respective empires fell after involvement in Afganistan.
They call it the graveyard of empires for a reason.

Al Qaeda lured us into Afganistan in the hope that America will be added to the long list of countries that went broke trying to fix Afganistan. If you think that isn't a motivating factor for BHO's troop surge in Afganistan, think again!

Anonymous said...

Hey, Andrew,

Sorry to get personal on no acquaintance, but you have the best looking TV table I've ever seen, and that cat is a beauty. Terrific photograph -- attractive and artistic juxtaposition of elements.

You must be a helluva landscape architect.

Any problems with the wild beast in your house, or does it behave like a domestic cat?

~ FreeThinke

Silverfiddle said...

Jersey: Easy with the false equivalency and the constant paternal scolding.

I'll tell you the same thing I told Ducky, drop the bs talking points and go visit some of these places.

I did not say Colombia was perfect, I said it was a hell of a lot better than Afghanistan, and that is not highly subjective. I provided quantifiable criteria.

Subjective: Where would you rather live? Where would you rather your mother live?

Anonymous said...

All I can think is why would anyone WANT to conquer Afghanistan? What does it have that others might need? Why can't the West mind its own business and leave these places like Tragikistan and Trashkanistan alone?

There are far too many people on this earth anyway. It would be wise if we'd stop interfering in the internal affairs of other peoples' countries and just let the "less advanced" kill each other off.

There's no logical reason for putting the lives of our young men -- and the misguided modern women foolish enough to want to compete with them -- in danger of being killed or maimed.

~ FreeThinke

PS: Is there any evodence to support Ducky's assertion that "we created the Taliban?" - FT

Jersey McJones said...

Silver, I didn't mean to patronize you, I just thought you were being unnecessarily hard on Ducky. His point was that for the people of Colombia, life may be a little better than it was 10 or 20 years ago, but it is no piece of cake.

FT, "If anyone has a less cynical, more plausible interpretation I'd like to hear about it?" So would I.

I will say this, though, for whatever it's worth. Beyond the MIC, certain interests in America have been quite rewarded by our military adventures - Big Agro, weapons manufacturer exports, Big Box retailers, multinationals, etc. We are a military/economic/political empire, even if it is not so apparent on the surface.