Friday, April 30, 2010

This just about sums up the Korengal redeployment

I'm going to reproduce in full a letter that appears in today's Wall Street Journal, just because I think it's about the best analysis of U.S. actions in the Korengal and the decision to leave that I've read anywhere. (No link as I'm not sure it's online; I saw it at the Early Bird.) This guy -- Tim Connors of Highland Falls, NY -- nails it in 150 words.

I was a member of the first U.S. patrol to enter the Korengal Valley in 2002, so I read Bing West's explanation for our retreat from there with some interest ("The Meaning of the Korengal Retreat," op-ed, April 23). Mr. West concludes that our efforts were thwarted by "Islamic extremism and tribal xenophobia."

The Korengalis I knew were not predisposed to join an extremist fight against Western outsiders. Nor were they naturally inclined to be our friends. Our aggressive tactics, focused exclusively on rooting out Taliban and al Qaeda fighters, drove them into the enemy's camp. A patient approach of relationship-building, relatively minor infrastructure improvements and a firm commitment not to interfere with the wood trade on which the Korengalis rely for their livelihood might have won a steadfast ally. In the long run, the Taliban and al Qaeda, outsiders themselves, have nothing to offer Korengalis but extremism and xenophobia. Perhaps after ending our permanent presence there, we will be better positioned to win that argument.

Now some wag might say that the last sentence probably applies to the entirety of Afghanistan, but that's not me. I'm more inclined to a different sort of observation, like isn't it surreal to imagine that we can protect people in American skyscrapers from being killed by planes or underpants bombs through the prosecution of a counter-guerilla campaign amongst a tiny population of lumber traders who speak an obscure language in an isolated valley on the opposite side of the planet?, but I suppose I digress.

11 comments:

  1. I think this is the guy. Interesting.

    http://law.nd.edu/features/alumni-spotlights/alumni-spotlight-timothy-connors-mba97-jd00/

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  2. Here's a published article by MAJ Connors on counterterrorism and policing.

    HARD WON LESSONS:THE NEW PARADIGM—MERGING LAW
    ENFORCEMENT AND COUNTERTERRORISM STRATEGIES
    http://www.manhattan-institute.org/pdf/scr_04.pdf

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  3. He seems to be taking the approach of LAPD's John P. Sullivan and SWJ's Slapout.

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  4. I'm always flummoxed by ersatz "experts" who begin what appears to be a sane explication of inept US operations in the Korengal y beginning the history of the area's warfighting by our advent upon the plain.

    Had Tim Connors approached the discussion with even a tittle or jot of competence, he would've discussed the culture of the valley, its history, perhaps even the role the guerrillas within it took during the Mujahideen operations against the Soviets in a previous generation.

    What possibly could be motivating these peoples to behave as they do? If Bing didn't exactly explain that well, neither did Connors.

    SNLII

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  5. I wholeheartedly agree with your closing statement.

    However, I think that there is a purpose to the NATO occupation of Afghanistan and Pakistan. The purpose is not yet clear, but I think that it is there.

    Something along the lines of stabilization and avoidance of situations such as those which led, albeit circuitously, to the events you describe and the bombings in Madrid and London.

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  6. I'm always flummoxed by ersatz "experts" who begin what appears to be a sane explication of inept US operations in the Korengal y beginning the history of the area's warfighting by our advent upon the plain.

    Had Tim Connors approached the discussion with even a tittle or jot of competence, he would've discussed the culture of the valley, its history, perhaps even the role the guerrillas within it took during the Mujahideen operations against the Soviets in a previous generation.

    What possibly could be motivating these peoples to behave as they do? If Bing didn't exactly explain that well, neither did Connors.


    This is incredibly silly. Bing West wrote an op-ed. Tim Connors wrote a LETTER TO THE EDITOR. You think it was supposed to be a "sane explication" that "discussed the culture of the valley, its history, perhaps even the role the guerrillas within it took during the Mujahideen operations against the Soviets in a previous generation"? Geez, commission the guy to write a book.

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  7. Yes, I do.

    Sorry, but that's called "competence." If the medium defeats the exercise of competence, then the medium should be abandoned.

    This is so obvious that we must blather the opposite on a blog post, lest the terrorists win.

    SNLII

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  8. Sorry, but that's called "competence." If the medium defeats the exercise of competence, then the medium should be abandoned.

    No, it's not. If you're on the putting green, "competence" doesn't require you to hit the ball 300 yards. That's competence in driving, not competence in putting. Golf isn't just one or the other.

    Connors competently summarized his view on how American presence in the valley contributed to the insurgency while addressing the subject of the original piece and responding to its claims. That's what a letter to the editor is meant to do: respond.

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  9. No, he did not. He was historically wrong, myopic in his vision and distorted in his prose.

    Arriving to put with a chainsaw and drive with a giraffe would be apt metaphors for the unfortunate exercise.

    SNLII

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