Capturing My Thoughts: Influence Warfare and Afganistan – Have we lost?

Here was my comment at Zenpundit (spelling corrected):

This is a mess thought. I suspect the USGOV is now looking at how to declare a “mission complete” and just get out. I don’t think the political leadership class of the US has the will to see this through or to have done what need to be done to win this. They want no errors, no causalities no upset press folks. I suspect deep down, most of Obama’s National Security team does really want the US to have a victory (the US is the bad guy and needs to lose).

Re-reading the RS article…have the Taliban really convinced the Afghanis that the 9/11 attacks were really an attempt to counter an upcoming US invasion? If so…then the Afghanis will see the US as the invader and the Taliban/al-Qaeda types as the scrappy underdogs fighting back against the superpower like the ant-Soviet forces. That means the Afghani people want the US to lose (along of course with the anti-west leftist elements in the West). The US has lost the influence war once again. I don’t see how that loss can reversed. We had the moral high ground. We blew it. They beat us at it.

If the influence war has been lost, then the 4GW/COIN has been lost (there is no chance that US will bring over whelming firepower/3gw/hama-style-4GW to bear to achieve victory for the US political class doesn’t have the will for that for the most part

It is the Taliban/Al-Qada who are now just waiting for the US to realize it and leave. Victory is in their  grasp. They just need to strategically wait us out and keep up some pressure while avoiding any major destruction events.

This sucks for the US. This is a good day for the bad guys.

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3 Responses

  1. I don’t see much evidence that the majority of Afghans want to live under Taliban rule. So in that respect the Taliban have failed in the influence war. This leaves them with fear and terror as the only means to persuade. While effective, no one is flocking to the Taliban because they are inspired by their vision. People will of course blame the US for not doing enough or not doing the right things, but the responsibility ultimately rests with the Afghans themselves. If they don’t want to live under Taliban rule then they need to step up and build the institutions necessary to protect themselves from the Taliban. If they are not motivated enough to do this then there is little we can do for them. The US can only provide surrogate security for so long until we decide it’s time to move on. So the real influence war is apparently about persuading the Afghans to match Taliban commitment and organizational ability. But you really have to ask why they would need external motivation for this. It is certainly true that our political class is clueless about waging influence and idea campaigns as part of our foreign policy. I’m not really sure what to do about that nor am I sure that it is necessarily a disaster for us.

  2. “I don’t see much evidence that the majority of Afghans want to live under Taliban rule.”

    I think the question is do they prefer the Taliban to Karzi/US? If the Rolling Stone guy was correct (and nobody is talking about that part of the article), as much as the afghans don’t like the Taliban, many have been convinced the USA is the real bad guy, and the Taliban bravely fighting the US for the sake of the Afghans.

    “If they don’t want to live under Taliban rule then they need to step up and build the institutions necessary to protect themselves from the Taliban. If they are not motivated enough to do this then there is little we can do for them. ”

    This is key. Has it come to that? I don’t know. I guess I don’t care about nation-building for Afghanistan. I don’t want enemies of the USA to be able to use it a training/planning site. Maybe a small intel/special forces/long-range air power is the only presence we need.

    This is all complicated by Pakistan. This isn’t an Afghanistan problem,

    It is a Afghanistan-Pakistan problem that the US has. PakiGOV really isn’t an ally (except for show sometimes). And they nukes. Maybe that is the reason we need to stay long term in Afghanistan.

    Maybe a fighting presence in Afghanistan serves as a signal to Pakistan to not go too nuts.

  3. All the people who voted for Obama don’t really care what happens to the Afghans.

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