2010 November 23 Tuesday
Taliban Capacity Remains Undiminished

Holy warriors can always take a break in Iran or Pakistan.

“Efforts to reduce insurgent capacity, such as safe havens and logistic support originating in Pakistan and Iran, have not produced measurable results,” the Pentagon said in a report on the war effort released today and covering the six months that ended Sept. 30. “Pakistan’s domestic extremist threat and the 2010 floods reduce the potential for a more aggressive or effective Pakistani effort in the near term.”

No matter how many we kill they'll just send more down south thru the DMZ or the Ho Chi Minh Trail. Oh sorry, wrong war. So easy to get them confused.

The Vietnam War was probably more winnable for a couple of reasons. First off, I suspect the Vietnamese had a lower fertility rate. Loss of sons was more keenly felt. Afghanistan has one of the highest fertility rates in the world. Think of them as Malthusian Trappers. Second, religious ideologies stir stronger sustained support than secular ideologies, especially in countries with low literacy. Think of Afghanistan as a pre-Gutenberg culture.

Uruzgan is a poor province with a strong, conservative culture. The development challenges in Uruzgan are formidable. Education is particularly poor, especially for women, and access to health care is limited. The provincial literacy rate is five per cent, and while nearly 10 per cent of men are literate, the literacy rate for women is recorded at close to zero. Less than one per cent of the provincial population (0.6 per cent) has a health centre in their village and an average of only eight to nine per cent of households have access to safe drinking water.

We are not fighting an industrialized population. Their rate of consanguineous (cousin) marriage is probably about 40%-50%. That's a very tribal population with little loyalty to higher level polities. Thi prevents political development of a modern state.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2010 November 23 09:51 PM  MidEast Afghanistan

WJ said at November 23, 2010 10:37 PM:

"We are not fighting an industrialized population."

Indeed. At the end of the day, Westerners expect a war to end, and to get back to their way of life and go home to comfortable houses with running water, indoor plumbing, and electricity. We make long-term plans - 401(k)s, IRAs, college funds for their kids, and 30 year mortgages.

Wanna beat the Afghans? Give them prosperity first. Then take it away.

We're just wasting our time, our money, and, most of all, our sons. There are more logical ways to fight the terrorist threat against the US, and no, it doesn't involve abandoning Israel. It simply requires the West to adopt sane, rational immigration policies. Keep out new Muslim immigrants, including barring the current ones from importing spouses, and profile where appropriate. But the elite won't have any of it. Not establishment Democrats, not establishment Republicans.

A.Prole said at November 24, 2010 12:27 AM:

It's only a matter of time before the American political class forces through MASSIVE Afghani immigration.

Black Death said at November 24, 2010 7:34 AM:

Tribalism, Islam, low average IQ, low per capita GDP, high rate of cousin marriage, low literacy rate, lack of anything resembling a democratic tradition - all reasons why democracy cannot succeed in Afghanistan. The British and the Russians tried to take over the country and failed (three times for the Brits). They weren't trying to democratize it, just subdue it, and they failed. There is no chance whatever that the US can do better than they did.

Now Afghanistan is not Vietnam, and the Afghanistan war is not the Vietnam war, but they still seem somewhat similar to me. I can remember the futility of the Vietnam conflict, the lying politicians, the mounting casualties, the hopeless search for new strategic directions that would somehow save the corrupt, ineffective South Vietnamese regime. Afghanistan seems tame by comparison - the death toll is much lower, and, hey, they're all volunteers anyway, so whose fault is it if they get smashed - they knew what they were getting into, right? The Left seems tepid compared to its glory days during the Vietnam war - no campus demonstrations, no sit-ins, no nothing. Very strange, because LBJ was every bit as much of a card-carrying liberal as Obama, but the Left despised Johnson.

Anonymous said at December 6, 2010 11:27 PM:

There are 2 great motivators: The carrot and the stick. Why spend so much in expensive sticks, when carrots are cheaper?
The military is expensive, spending money on their development, making them dependent on the U.S., thus complying with it's influence, would much cheaper, efficient, and end up bettering the world, and making the U.S. look good worldwide.

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