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"It's the Tribes, Stupid"

    “I’m a Marine and I don’t want other Marines or soldiers going into harm’s way without the full mental and cultural arsenal to back them up. They should know this and I want to get it to them—and to President Obama, all the way down the line. Policy and military strategy should NOT be based on misconceptions about reality-on-the-ground.” - Steven Pressfield

Steven Pressfield is one of our favorite authors around here.  Gates of Fire is one of the few books to truly capture the warrior spirit and is one that I continue to send to junior NCOs and officers, not to mention friends and colleagues.  Killing Rommel is on my list of next five books to read (I get to about two per week).

Pressfield has a video blog and he has created a series about Afghanistan titled, "It's the Tribes, Stupid".

Episode 1 is comparing Afghanistan campaigns from a historian's perspective.  While Pressfield is an impressive author and historian, keep in mind that he was also a Marine.  He posts this note about his ideas on this series:

This five-part series is about war in Afghanistan, ancient and modern. Each video is five minutes long. I'm not doing this for money. I have no political axe to grind. I'm a Marine and I don't want young Marines and soldiers going into harm's way without the full mental arsenal of history and cultural context.

What's my thesis? That the enemy in Afghanistan today (and in Iraq and Pakistan) is not Islamism or jihadism. It's tribalism.

The tribal mind-set (warrior pride, hostility to all outsiders, perpetual warfare, the obligation of revenge, suppression of women, a code of honor rather than a system of laws, extreme conservatism, unity with the land, patience and capacity for hatred) permeates everything in Afghanistan and its neighboring Islamic republics. For war-making or peace-making, it cannot be ignored.

Think of these videos as a crash course in tribalism. Start with Episode 1. I invite discussion. Tell me I'm crazy, tell me I'm out to lunch. If you agree, tell me too.

-Steven Pressfield

I'm posting the video from Episode 1 here.  Go to his site to see the others in the series.

Pressfield asks for comments on his site (you can leave them at each part in the series).

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