Michael's Dispatches Michael's Dispatches

Tactical Success, Strategic Defeat

24 Comments

02 March 2009

This Washington Post story rings true with my experience from October 2008.  I was in Afghanistan, and embeds with U.S. soldiers in that particular area were hard to come by, so I endeavored to hear the other side of the story, which was much easier to accomplish.  It’s amazing that it’s easier to interview potential enemies than to embed with U.S. forces.  Anyway, I went to the area near the village of Sper Kundy, just near Sarobi, where 10 French soldiers had recently died, and interviewed two men from the village.  Interestingly, I am told, that after I went there, a journalist tried to do the same thing and got kidnapped.  Apparently he was released without harm.  I was told that the journalist had used the same interpreter, though I have no verification of this.  In any case, the interpreter disappeared.

Read more: Tactical Success, Strategic Defeat

A 'Ticking Time Bomb' Goes Off

3 Comments

02 March 2009
 
A deadly wave of released prisoners is likely to intrude into our future.  I was in northern Iraq when this attack occurred, but was far away and only heard through sources that the attacker had been released from Guantanamo.  It's clear that some of these prisoners should be held for life, but which ones?
 
Please read.


Islamabad's capitulation

1 Comment

02 March 2009

Pakistani author Ahmed Rashid is a trusted source on AfPak.  His opinions have proven amazingly prescient.  His book "Taliban" was published six months before the 9/11 attacks, and provided a stark warning.  I interviewed Mr. Rashid in 2006 after I returned from Afghanistan.

Pakistan is slipping the noose around its own neck.  Giving up Swat to the Taliban would be like us giving up Georgia to the Ku Klux Klan.

Read more: Islamabad's capitulation

"The United States of America Does Not Torture"

132 Comments

24 February 2009

President Barack Obama has spoken.  His words beamed around the world.  I am in Asia preparing for a long year in Afghanistan and other contended places, but stopped to listen closely to President Obama's words.  Most of the things that President Obama talked about will take years, or many years, to implement.  But one thing can happen NOW.  No more torture.

Read more: "The United States of America Does Not Torture"

The Fallen

10 Comments

24 February 2009
 
We may have a lot of problems at home -- and we do -- but our brothers and sisters are out there for us tonight.  We lost eight just today.  Four soldiers were killed in Iraq, and four in Afghanistan.

Read more: The Fallen

Galactic Collisions

3 Comments 24 February 2009
 
Want to see a time when the press and the President really clashed with the media?  When was it?  World War I?  World War II?  Korea?  Vietnam?  Iraq I?  Iraq II?  (Definitely not Afghanistan, where the press practically handed out free candy and foot massages for over five years.) 

Read more: Galactic Collisions

New Bid to Eradicate al Qaeda

Write a comment

23 February 2009

Iraq continues to progress, but still some fighting.  Yet these days, al Qaeda in Iraq is like a piranha fish with no scales; it's still alive and flopping around on shore, but the dwindling piranha school cannot be happy.  The villagers have been helping to net them up and scale them.

Read more: New Bid to Eradicate al Qaeda

Interesting Afghan Statistics

4 Comments

15 February 2009
 
One must always be careful with statistics, and especially so when dealing with insurgencies.  The numbers tend to lag behind the true current situation.  For instance, in July of 2007, when John Burns and I both were telling millions of Americans that "the Surge" was working, our casualties actually were at nearly the highest during the entire war.  And so, using statistics, someone could have ripped us apart or accused us of carrying the water for the President.  But in fact, though attacks were very high, it was obvious that we were turning the tables in Iraq and the situation was dramatically improving.  Likewise, when I reported from Afghanistan during 2006, saying explicitly, in plain language, that we were losing, some people used statistics to discredit those reports.  In this type of warfare, the statistics can be extremely misleading.  Yet I do pay attention to the statistics.  The difficulty comes in applying proper context.
 
Please see this interesting report.


Lithuanian Forces and Piotr Stanczak

3 Comments

11 February 2009

This pamphlet came from our Lithuanian friends, who are proud of the hard work they are performing in Afghanistan.  They've earned such an excellent reputation with U.S. forces that I have asked to cover Lithuanian operations in Afghanistan this year.  I met with Lithuanian officials at their Embassy in Washington, and subsequent that meeting, Lithuanian officials have agreed in principle to the coverage.  Now we have only to work out the details and do it.  The Lithuanians are very proud about the good relations with the United States and they want Americans at home in the United States to know that Lithuanians are in the fight, too.

Read more: Lithuanian Forces and Piotr Stanczak

How Much is Afghanistan Really Worth to Us?

28 Comments

10 February 2009

While we prepare to shunt perhaps 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan (which still will not be enough), Russia continues to play the Asian chessboard.  The Russians are picking off pawn after pawn, and steadily eroding our foreign policy influence with them and other Central Asian countries.  The Russians know that we need a land route through their country to Afghanistan, especially as we begin the slow process of increasing our combat presence.  The Pakistan land route is one Achilles' heel to our Afghanistan effort, and Russia is working hard to make sure that Russia is the other Achilles' heel, which will strengthen the Russian position on matters such as missile defense.  Russia, at the present rate, will eventually exercise considerable control over the spigot to Afghanistan.  The Russians are successfully wrestling us into a policy arm-lock.  While Russia takes American money and gains influence over our Afghan efforts, we will continue to spend lives and tens of billions of dollars per year on Afghanistan in an attempt to civilize what amounts to Jurassic Park.

Read more: How Much is Afghanistan Really Worth to Us?

It’s Raining

27 Comments

Published: 06 February 2009

There had been a light, cold drizzle just before the Muslim taxi driver picked me up in Jerusalem.  It should be a 90-minute drive to Sderot, in southern Israel.  Along the wet highway, I asked the driver to stop at a small town so that I could buy a juice, and inside the Muslim store a television was turned to news in English, showing success of the most recent Iraqi elections.

Read more: It’s Raining

Reader support is crucial to this mission. Weekly or monthly recurring ‘subscription’ based support is the best, though all are greatly appreciated.  Recurring and one-time gifts are available through PayPal or Authorize.net.

supp

supp

subscribe

My BitCoin QR Code

This is for use with BitCoin apps:

189

You can now help support the next dispatch with bitcoins:

Donate Bitcoins