Sunday, September 26, 2010

in this week's edition of the Low Expectations Journal

OK, so let's remind ourselves of the rising chatter about a negotiated settlement in Afghanistan from a couple of months ago. We know that there was some evidence of Hezb-i Islami cooperating with ISAF. The first group targeted as part of the diplomatic effort were the Haqqani network.

Since then, we've learned about the build-up of US reconnaissance in Afghanistan. As a result, the drones strike more and more often. Here's Sean Naylor on what seems to be a broader offensive against the Haqqanis. Note that this also refers to even more reconnaissance and intelligence assets being deployed, transferred from Iraq. (Looking at this, a subplot of getting out of Iraq seems to have been getting better at data analysis in the field.)

Noah Schachtman's piece does connect this with the negotiating track, but not in the way I think they are related. This reminds me of two things - one of them is the IRA concept of the Tactical Use of Armed Struggle, from the 1990s. The basic idea was that the main effort was the negotiations, and the violence was intended to support their negotiating position. The other one is, yet again, the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, during which the Russians often carried out operations that were intended to put pressure on particular warlords to get on side.

Armchair Generalist has interesting quotes from the IISS's recent report on Afghanistan:
A tripartite dialogue between Afghanistan, India and Pakistan is desirable; not least to diminish risks that enduring conflict could escalate to civil-war proportions. Central Asian states, Russia and Iran will have competing concerns in Afghanistan that will have to be reconciled, but a less ambitious coalition military posture in Afghanistan should be used to make this possible.

This is close enough to my line to make no difference, although I do suspect that the key factor in this will be good old low expectations.

Meanwhile, Joshua Foust would like everyone to know that Turkey has no possible advice to offer on fighting separatist guerrillas or transitioning from a military dictatorship towards democracy without achieving a 626% electoral turnout, and Indonesia knows nothing whatsoever about a complex, sometimes violent polity with radically different levels of development and a tradition of guerrilla activity.

I add this merely to remind myself that the Pajamas Media brand retains significant value as a counterindicator.

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