OFF THE GRID

When Obama Finally Gets Serious About Afghanistan, He’ll…

Oct 1, 09 | 9:26 AM   byStephen Spain
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… Stop asking for advice from Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Jim Jones, David Petraeus, Robert Gates, and Richard Holbrooke, who cumulatively know less about Afghanistan than the average UN, embassy, or NGO staffer resident there. He’ll set the strategy and order them to implement it, something at which they are very adept.

… Replace the American ambassador to Afghanistan. He wouldn’t send a diplomat to lead soldiers into battle, and he shouldn’t have sent a general to conduct diplomacy.

… Stop pretending that we don’t occupy Afghanistan. We do. That’s what it’s called when you put 50,000 soldiers into someone else’s country and declare that the natives who oppose you are “insurgents.” He’ll accept our responsibility as occupiers to provide a reasonably safe environment and a realistic path toward self-determination.

… Use the fraudulent presidential election as an opportunity to insist on the creation of a power-sharing council to act as chief executive. The council will have representatives of all ethnic groups in proportion to their population.

… Order a takeover of all distribution of money to government employees. Soldiers, teachers, civil officials, doctors, etc. will all receive their salaries directly from our armed forces, at our district bases. We’ll see how popular the Taliban are when their attacks and IEDs disturb the flow of money to the local people.

… Stop fussing over the number of troops to commit. With an intelligent strategy, we can make good use of more and we can make do with fewer—as opposed to the current non-strategy where no amount is enough and any amount is too many.

… Buy off the Taliban’s foot soldiers, recognizing that the vast majority fight because they lack any other means of sustaining themselves or their families. Our military will hire them to fight on our side, with the mission of guarding the roads and assuring freedom of movement for people and goods throughout the country.

… Order our troops to stop looking for a fight and let the fight come to us. We won’t risk even one American life to “liberate” a deserted village but instead build up or set up bases in every provincial and district capital—and defend them.

Destroy the poppy economy, by ordering US forces to buy the poppies in the field and burn them, buy the opium and either destroy it or ship it to Turkey for use in commercial pharmaceuticals, and destroy all the heroin and processing labs, including those that belong to the president’s brother.

… Scare the shit out of Pakistan. He’ll have Holbrooke tell them that we’re sick of their intelligence services’ support for the Taliban and if they don’t purge the extremists in their own military, we’re going to withdraw from the area completely and encourage India, as the regional superpower, to take responsibility for Afghanistan. Holbrooke is scary enough to sell it, and the Pakistanis are paranoid enough to buy it.

Stephen Spain spent five years in Afghanistan and Pakistan in the 1990s, working for the United Nations and Save the Children in Herat, Islamabad, Jalabad, Kandahar and Quetta.
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