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October 2009

Honoring the Fallen or Staged Photo-Op?

Over at the Mudville Gazette, Greyhawk looks at the timing of the President's visit to Dover with regards to the timely decision he has to make on Afghanistan:

...How to turn the situation around? Some say more troops, some say change strategy, others say withdraw - but someone in the White House got the bright idea that now would be a good time for a photo op.

A small contingent of reporters and photographers accompanied Mr. Obama to Dover, where he arrived at 12:34 a.m. aboard Marine One. He returned to the South Lawn of the White House at 4:45 a.m.
The images and the sentiment of the president's five-hour trip to Delaware were intended by the White House to convey to the nation that Mr. Obama was not making his Afghanistan decision lightly or in haste.

It should have been a "good" day for the project; "This week alone, about two dozen soldiers have died in attacks and accidents."...

While I am glad that the President is spending time with the families of the Fallen and honoring their return, I have one question:

If the family of Sergeant Dale Griffin hadn't approved the media to photograph his remains returning to the United States (they were the only family that gave approval), would the President have still made the trip to Dover?

The Chicago Tribune - Obama Honors Fallen Troops

...The solemn visit was the first of its kind for Obama, and comes as he is withdrawing troops from Iraq but contemplating a troop increase in Afghanistan. Earlier this week, Obama spoke to sailors and aviators at Jacksonville Naval Air Station in Florida, where he promised that he would count the full cost of war before deciding to send more military into harm's way.

The administration this year lifted a longstanding ban on media coverage of the return of fallen service members. Obama was accompanied by a small pool of White House reporters who were on duty overnight.
Shortly afterward, a white-gloved military team of six led the president's group to a large plane on the tarmac, where they stood at attention in a single file line as the team transferred the casket of Sgt. Dale Griffin from the plane to a white mortuary van.

Reporters were allowed to watch that transfer, White House aides said, because the sergeant's family agreed to it...

I also wonder how many articles about President Bush honoring Fallen troops were authored?

[Warning:  Whatever you do, do not read the comments in the stories at the Trib or the NYT.]

Christopher Buckley- A faint echo of his father

William F. Buckley was a huge man, not in size, but in influence. He was a brilliant force of nature who devastated those foolish enough to stand in his path with intellect, wit and style. He formed the vanguard af the conservative movement and gave it substance and substantive goals.

His son Christopher.....not so much. I mean he is a very funny writer, very funny. But he is simply not a thinker of any distinction. He proves that ably in a piece today about why we should leave Afghanistan. He takes the letter from Mr. Hoh, former Marine who resigned from the State Department, and elevates his missive to the status of strategically brilliant & world-changing document. Well umm no. While heartfelt and emotional his arguments were not particularly compelling unless, as is the case with the lesser Buckley, you were already inclined to cut and run and simply looking for credible, intellectual cover.

Since you are reading this post on a computer, you’ll be able to read Mr. Hoh’s letter yourself. I won’t recapitulate it all here—it demands to be read in its entirety. But to limn some of his more salient points….

In essence, he says, the U.S. is little more than a “supporting actor” in a long running tragedy of Afghanistan’s now 35 year-old civil war.

Reading his letter, I thought of the famous exchange between the Confederate soldier and his Yankee captor.

Why do you hate us so, Johnny Reb?

Because this is our land, and you’re on it.

Now I am not a historian, but I seem to recall that in the conflict he references the invading occupiers won. Right? Not much of an argument point. The rest of his piece consists of ovewrwrought quotes where he places Mr. Hoh on a pedestal as the conscience of this great nation who will lead us back from the brink, you can almost see the hands wringing and the tears welling up. Buckley ought to stick to funning on the tobacco industry, or inside the beltway insider jokes. He is well ought of his league on this one.

On the legalities of killing terrorists

I taunted the UN Rapporteur yesterday for mouthing off and whinging about the fact that we are gleefully killing terrorists using drone strikes in Pakistan. I avoided the actual legality of such action basing my approval on the concept that if bad guys are trying to kill us or other innocents, then we have an inherent right to kill them first. Simple self defense. Well a smart lawyer guy who does know about these things agrees with me.

It needs to bear in mind that the justification of going after Al Qaeda in an armed conflict that takes place on a global basis will not satisfy critics of targeted killing or of “global wars on terror.”  There is a legal attack both on the idea of targeted killing and on the idea that it can be justified by reference to a geographically unbounded war.  But if one limits the war to Afghanistan, then what about Pakistan — or Somalia, or any other place in the world in which AQ might take refuge, but in which one could not say, under those standards, that an armed conflict was underway?  And what happens when the enemy is no longer Al Qaeda, but something else down the road? 

The US long had a plain answer to those questions, in the form of a speech by then-DOS Legal Adviser Abraham Sofaer in 1989, later issued in the Military Law Review that same year.  It addresses in a comprehensive way that issues of addressing cross-border terrorism, including self-defense in international law, the lawfulness of going after terrorists in safe havens where the government was unable or unwilling to control its own territory, why targeted killing did not violate the US regulation against “assassination,” and other topics.  I have been told by several sources that the speech was cleared by DOS, DOD, DOJ, and the White House; it was intended as a major statement of policy. 

So far as I understand, the US government has never withdrawn that speech as policy.  On the other hand, the US government seems to have narrowed significantly the grounds on which it concludes that targeted killing is justified — the documents are not public, so we don’t know for sure — to limit it to “armed conflict” and “combatants” — without taking account, if that is true, of targeted killings justified and necessitated by self defense that do not take place within an armed conflict in the technical sense of the term under international humanitarian law treaties.  US domestic law, after all, authorizes the CIA “fifth function” use of covert force as an exercise of lawful self-defense, and yet outside of armed conflict as defined under international humanitarian law — and for good reasons. 

The current Predator campaign in Pakistan appears to be run by the CIA.  The adminstration, in my view, ought to take a far more vigorous approach to defending the full lawfulness of that campaign, as well as other operations that the US might undertake, whether via the CIA or military special ops or a combination, outside of the geography of an “armed conflict” in any but the Bush administration’s “global” view of the armed conflict with Al Qaeda.  An excellent place for the administration to start would be for the current DOS Legal Adviser, Harold Koh, to reaffirm in toto the Sofaer 1989 speech as continuing, good policy and the legal views of the United States.

The leaks on Obama's plan

What do I think? You know what I think, it's politically-driven shite. McChrystal for the city, Biden for the country? (please hear my sneering tone). What absolute BS. Biden and McChrystal should not be mentioned in the same sentence. As currently leaked it calls for 10 major population centers to be secured, while the countryside i.e. the vast majority of the country, is left to the Taliban. Although we will have our magic ninjas flinging throwing stars at them.The only saving grace would be if this was the first step in an ink blot strategy that would move into vital agricultural areas later on.

I am gonna hope this was a trial balloon to see what reaction would be, or a malicious leak to put pressure on the President, because it' s not a strategic plan to win. It is an exit strategy dressed up to appear like a plan. I will wait and hope this is not the final answer.

UN Rapporteur weighs in on drone strikes- I taunt him

And shockingly he decides they violate international law. I am sure there is a law somewhere that they do violate, and shockingly I don't give a rat's ass. I can't say for sure that we have signed any treaty or agreement that requires us to proffer up said ass of rat, but if we did we ought to renounce it. The scary thing is that our soon to be Nobel Laureate gives rat asses by the train load about what the crap weasels at the UN think. Let me give the UN Rapporteur my thoughts.

UNITED NATIONS — US drone strikes against suspected terrorists in Afghanistan and Pakistan could be breaking international laws against summary executions, the UN's top investigator of such crimes said.
"The problem with the United States is that it is making an increased use of drones/Predators (which are) particularly prominently used now in relation to Pakistan and Afghanistan," UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Executions Philip Alston told a press conference.
"My concern is that drones/Predators are being operated in a framework which may well violate international humanitarian law and international human rights law," he said

Dear Eurocrat weasel,

If there are international humanitarian or human rights laws that you think impact our right to kill terrorist ass clowns anywhere we find them on Earth, then I suggest you print out a copy, roll it up real tight and poke yourself in the eye with it. We do not recognize your right to castrate us, and even though it makes you cry yourself to sleep at night, we will continue to manufacture dead tangos as quickly as we are able. We will fly drones that rain down literal Hellfire and make them explode into their component molecules. We will drop big-ass laser-guided bombs that may even take them down to the sub-atomic level. We will shoot them with sniper rifles ventilating them with .50 cal holes. We will even occasionally scarf one up and render him to certain friends of ours who will be extremely cruel to him, and maybe even waterboard him since we no longer have the stones to do that ourselves.

"The onus is really on the United States government to reveal more about the ways in which it makes sure that arbitrary extrajudicial executions aren't in fact being carried out through the use of these weapons," he added.

Actually no, we are completely un-onused by the whole situation, you empty-headed, animal food trough wiper.

Alston said he presented a report on the matter to the UN General Assembly.
He urged the United States to be more forthright about how and when it uses drone aircraft, something about which the US Defense Department and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) usually keep silent.
"We need the United States to be more up front and say, 'OK, we're willing to discuss some aspects of this program,' otherwise you have the really problematic bottom line that the CIA is running a program that is killing significant numbers of people and there is absolutely no accountability in terms of the relevant international laws," Alston said.

Did you hear me jackass, I said no. We won't. Ain't gonna happen. We don't care about your stupid international laws in some big dusty old book in the back of the library that nobody reads any more. Do I smell elderberries?

Since August 2008, around 70 strikes by unmanned aircraft have killed close to 600 people in northwestern Pakistan.
"I would like to know the legal basis upon which the United States is operating, in other words... who is running the program, what accountability mechanisms are in place in relation to that," Alston said.

Some friends of mine run it, and I asked them, they don't want to talk to you. They said you were the son of a silly person and farted in your general direction.

"Secondly, what precautions the United States is taking to ensure that these weapons are used strictly for purposes consistent with international humanitarian law.

Absolutely no precautions at all because as I mentioned we don't care about you or your silly laws, UN pig dog.

"Third, what sort of review mechanism is there to evaluate when these weapons have been used? Those are the issues I'd like to see addressed," the UN official said.

We address that by taking the footage from the drones showing the missile strikes and then we review it to watch as the tangos assume room temperature while we do the dead tango dance and giggle like school girls.  Now go away Rapporteur or I shall taunt you a second time.

One tribe at a time

There is an amazing paper out by a Special Forces officer MAJ Jim Gant about how to win in Afghanistan which Grim references in the post below. It comes from his team's personal experiences and it is absolutely spot on. All of his ideas are well-grounded in reality and all of his strategic concepts reflect the best possible solutions to an incredibly difficult problem. I only wish there was a chance in hell they would be adopted. You can read his paper here and I highly recommend it.

Beyond the strategy itself, what has to happen for  a Tribal Engagement Strategy (TES) to work?

1.  A strategy of tribal engagement will require a complete paradigm shift at the highest levels of our military organization—and the ability to push these changes down to group/brigade and battalion commanders.  I believe Secretary Gates, Gen. Petraeus and Gen. McChrystal are flexible and forceful enough to embrace a strategy of this type.  My fear is that the farther down the “food-chain” it travels, the more it might be resisted by ground commanders. What specific tactical changes need to happen? 

•  Command and Control of the Tribal Engagement Teams (TET) would have to be streamlined dramatically.  “One radio call could get an answer.”

•  The CONOP approval process (used to get mis- sions approved from higher headquarters) has to be streamlined. Some missions might have to be con- ducted with no approval, due to the time-sensitive nature of the opportunity.  The TETs would need special “trust and approval.” 

•  The risk-averse nature of our current method of operating would have to change.  American soldiers would die.  Some of them alone, with no support.  Some may simply disappear.  Everyone has to understand that from the outset. 

•  TETs must be allowed to be on their own, grow beards, wear local garb, and interact with the tribes- they must be able to do so.  The teams will always fight alongside Tribal Security Forces (TSFs), and no missions will be conducted unilaterally.  There will always be an Afghan face on any mission.

I think many of the suggestions will be familiar and the overall concept is population-centric COIN done by small units deeply embedded with the locals. The reason I say it will never be adopted is that he proposes that we organize the COIN forces on what is essentially an A team model. The reasoning behind this is solid as a rock, but the mind set it would take is alien to the military as a whole and simply will not be done. It requires huge freedom of operation for small units that would consist of junior officers and enlisted personnel and while there are some who could handle that level of responsibility there are not enough to actually man these units.

Of the teams I was on, I can only remember one time when we had all twelve slots filled. We were always short several positions because there simply were not enough qualified people to staff them. The Tribal Engagement Teams MAJ Gant envisions would not require all of the specialized skills needed on an A team, but they would need many of them. They would also need maturity and accountability at levels not usually found. Our military is a very rigid hierarchical system specifically because that engenders the type of discipline required to keep the troops operating in the way they have to. It's not that they are incapable of operating independently, but there are enough people in every unit who couldn't that any other system would be chaos.

An SF team is the exact opposite, it is nominally hierarchical i.e. you have a Junior Weapons and a Senior Weapons guy and the other specialties as well (Commo, Engineer, Medic), but it was never a guarantee that the Senior Weapons would be in charge of a range for instance. If the Junior guy had more expertise on a particular system, say mortars for instance, then he would run things. I have told the story before that the first team room I walked into had a sign over the Captain's desk that said "Shut up sir, we'll throw you a pen if we need you to sign something". That was to remind him that the combined wisdom and experience of his ten NCOs and Warrant Officer dwarfed his, and that while his title was Detachment Commander, the Team Sergeant ran the team. And this was a Captain who had already been a Company Commander and led 200+ men.

That level of individual freedom and meritocratic tasking is nearly opposite of how the rest of the military operates. There is no way to convince enough of the folks who run things that turning huge numbers of infantry and other troops into de facto special operators is either possible or a good idea. I think it could be done with a high enough level of buy in. You could take a couple of SF guys and team them with infantry and psy ops and civil affairs and other specialties and use them in the way MAJ Gant envisions, and there is a decent possibility it would work. The problem is that the idea of hundreds of semi-pro A teams running wild and unsupervised in the hinterlands of Afghanistan would keep every General at the Pentagon awake at night having Apocalypse Now flashbacks.

The one thing that could come of MAJ Gant's proposal, and it would be a good thing if it did, is for a tighter working relationship between Special Forces and the conventional units conducting COIN operations. Even to the extent of assigning team guys to staff positions with the conventional units. Now I know the heads of many of my brethren just exploded and I may be banned from the Green Beret club, but it would help the mission and sometimes you gotta take one for the team. Anyhow I commend MAJ Gant and the guys on his team for their service and their suggestions and we can hope that as many of them as possible make it into operational doctrine.

Beyond COIN v. CT or COIN + CT: An Emerging Third Position

How many troops do we need in Afghanistan?

Yesterday's publishing of State Department officer's letter of resignation brought us a practical expression of a theory:  essentially, that the unified insurgency would collapse if we weren't there for it to fight.  The theory holds that tribal ethic of "me against my brother, the two of us against our cousins, the four of us against our neighbors, all of us against the tribe across the ridge, all those tribes together against strangers..." is allowing the Pashtun-based Taliban to hold up a coalition that they couldn't manage without us present.  If we pulled back, or pulled out, these natural tensions would reassert themselves and the insurgency would be ripped apart from the inside.

There are several names associated with this theory that give it credibility.  The first is Dr. David Kilcullen, who needs no introduction to readers of BLACKFIVE.  His book The Accidental Guerrilla holds that there are two factions to the insurgencies we fight:  the hard-core ideologues who came to fight us, and the "accidental guerrillas" who got swept up into a fight that happened in their backyard.  Dr. Kilcullen gives advice not so much aimed at abandoning the fight, but on swaying those who have 'accidentally' fallen in with the enemy toward our side. 

Another, who should be as well known but is not, is MAJ Jim Gant, a Special Forces officer who has a new paper out on the subject of tribal engagement.  The paper is only 45 pages long, yet offers some fairly specific suggestions on how to reform current practices to support the strategy he proposes. [BlackFive edit. note:  Major Gant was a SYSK two and a half years ago for his courage and honor in Iraq, and there's a follow up piece here.]

In Iraq, tribal engagement is how the Awakening happened:  the tribal frictions began to pull some of the 'accidental' guerrillas away from AQI, and the Coalition was ready to do what it took to support their swing to our side of the conflict. 

How would that theory work in the absence of Coalition forces, which is what is being proposed in Afghanistan?  Presumably, one would wait for the tribal tensions to create open fissures between the hard core and the local tribals, and then make contact with those tribes and offer them support at a much-lower footprint:  perhaps with MAJ Gant's proposed SF advisors, or perhaps only with money and weapons.  In return for their support against terrorists, and tacit support for the government, they would be allowed to field forces and control their own territory (as the Sons of Iraq were so permitted).  This approach creates a whole new class of "warlords" in Afghanistan -- or reinforces existing ones -- but it could plausibly create a situation in which those warlords became clients of the Afghan government rather than foes of it. 

One of the hallmarks of COIN theory is that you shouldn't create local-national COIN forces that look like Western forces.  Rather, they should be organic to the local culture, so they will have credibility with the local culture instead of appearing to be a foreign imposition.  This approach suggests a modification of that basic hallmark:  you may need both.  At first, an organic tribal/militia force can actually win the fight on the ground.  The 'Westernized' security forces take longer to develop and purge of corruption, but are important to finalizing the peace and providing the central government with the ability to control the ground at the end of the day.

The Sons of Iraq are a good example of this, in just the way that the Iraqi Security Forces were not:  and it took the SOI to end the fight, so that the ISF could step in later and assume governance roles.  These roles may be in support of the tribes as much as they are in support of the central government:  the ISF becomes, as we have been, the negotiator between the central government they serve and the tribal leaders they work with every day.  In that way, they are the glue that holds the state together and allows for a final peace.

Another voice is Dr. Rory Stewart, who famously walked across Afghanistan in 2002.  He also holds that the US should back off substantially in Afghanistan in order to allow ethnic rivalries to work against the Taliban.  While they would capture some outlying areas, the Uzbek and Tajik rivalries should restrain them from overrunning the country.  A minimal Coalition presence in Kabul would keep the government from collapsing, and allow it to reach out to other Afghans with aid programs and economic support. 

Dr. Stewart isn't envisioning a high-level strategy of the type described above, but rather a sort of "muddling-through."  However, he sees the same basic tension at work:  the Taliban being constrained by rivalries that are suppressed because of our presence.

Dr. Tony Corn at SWJ proposed something similar recently, which he called "A Kilcullen-Biden plan."  His article is interesting because it looks at things from a higher level perspective as well:  can the US actually afford to fight this war?  He doesn't think we can.  Since the COIN model we are currently using requires substantial funding for a long time, if he is correct than a scaled-back model becomes inevitable. 

Can we make such a strategy work, and at a much lower cost in American lives and money?  It depends on whether the central theory is true.  The Taliban were able to overrun most of Afghanistan before, though what became the Northern Alliance did indeed stop them.  How far would we have to pull back, and for how long, before the tensions rising to the surface began to split the insurgency enough to reintroduce Tribal Engagement Teams, for example?

This approach would also mean consigning Afghan women and girls (and any remaining current allies!) in these remote areas to control by the Taliban.  That's a moral cost we'd have to decide that we were prepared to accept. 

Finally, it would create something akin to a safe-haven in those areas where the tribal/ethnic fissures were least.  Pakistan's decision to do this is what precipitated the strong, Taliban-based insurgency we are facing now.  We would be gambling that the new safe-haven would be contained by the fissures, so that the Taliban would have all it could do to deal with newly-opposed tribes and ethnic forces (who would have our support, of course, when they were prepared to accept it).

It's a strategy with some risk, then, and some known costs we'd have to elect to accept.  Nevertheless, it's not a foolish proposal:  some of our best and most experienced believe it can work, while saving American lives and fortunes.

Actively helping the war effort in Afghanistan- Spirit of America

I had the chance to meet Jim Hake of Spirit of America last Friday in DC. They have been doing tremendous work supporting our troops with items that help them accomplish their missions, largely in Iraq. Now they are making a civilian surge into Afghanistan and I think that is tremendous. There is an excellent feature piece on them and the work they have done with the USMC in Leatherneck that you may read here.

This Spirit of America is more than a great feeling; it is one of our country's most unique and innovative nonprofit organizations. For six years Spirit of America has supported the Marines' outreach efforts by providing supplies for them to give to local residents-items the Marines have identified as most needed and beneficial-everything from tools and textbooks, to sewing machines and irrigation equipment. These grassroots initiatives are an essential part of the counterinsurgency doctrine developed by Generals David H. Petraeus, U.S. Army and James N. Mattis, USMC.

Spirit of America (SoA) helps the Marines build better relations with locals. Better relations that support the success of their mission and make them safer. Or as Marine Staff Sergeant Shawn Delgado puts it: "It is easy to forget that the vast majority of the people are not hostile to us. Spirit of America allows us the tools to be able to approach them on a personal level and to connect with them outside of a hostile encounter." And, reducing hostility helps save Marines' lives.

This focus on asking the troops what would help them accomplish their missions is effective and they are now aiming at Afghanistan and what they can do to bring stuff into country that will help us connect with the local populace. It is worth taking some time to explore their site and see how they are helping.

State Dept. Official resigns over Afghanistan policy

I applaud anyone with the strength to act on his convictions and this guy seems to deserve that praise.

A former Marine Corps captain with combat experience in Iraq, Hoh had also served in uniform at the Pentagon, and as a civilian in Iraq and at the State Department. By July, he was the senior U.S. civilian in Zabul province, a Taliban hotbed.

But last month, in a move that has sent ripples all the way to the White House, Hoh, 36, became the first U.S. official known to resign in protest over the Afghan war, which he had come to believe simply fueled the insurgency.

"I have lost understanding of and confidence in the strategic purposes of the United States' presence in Afghanistan," he wrote Sept. 10 in a four-page letter to the department's head of personnel. "I have doubts and reservations about our current strategy and planned future strategy, but my resignation is based not upon how we are pursuing this war, but why and to what end."

I have heard most of his complaints and reservations and discussed most of them at length here. But let's look at some of his conclusions. His resignation letter is a scan so I cannot quote him directly, but I will be fair in characterizing his position.

He claims we have no strategic reason to be involved in what is essentially a 35 year old civil war. While his characterization of the conflict may be accurate I dispute his conclusion. We had a serious need to respond to al Qaeda's attack on us and they were safely ensconced in Afghanistan enjoying the hospitality of the Taliban hosts. That was not a situation we could tolerate. So we didn't and in a stunningly, well-orchestrated display of leveraged Special Ops combined with massive air power we and the Northern Alliance routed the Islamists and sent the survivors scurrying.

Now at that point a valid case could me made for packing our bags and calling it a day. But since we are not allowed to operate under the guidance of hindsight we must act on the basis of the decision that was made, to attempt to create a stable state that would not require another attack somewhere down the road. You can disagree with that, but you cannot erase it or fail to appreciate that it affects all that we do now.

We spent several years attempting to promote democracy and to a reasonable extent the election that made Hamid Karzai President was as fair and valid as many others worldwide. We also tried to build the institutions of national security and governance. We had some success and many failures, and this process continued for several years with little comparative violence throughout the country. Then a renewed Taliban infiltration from the tribal areas of Pakistan began due to their ability to recruit and refit there. This led to increasing violence staring in 2007 and since.

Since we had made the choice of attempting to spin up an new Afghanistan that would not be run by religious zealots who are increasingly integrated with al Qaeda, we have a larger stake in not losing to that alliance. Hoh says that if we claim Afghanistan is a strategic center in the fight against AQ, then we must designate Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia etc. as vital as well. That is a false choice and not reflective of the fact that AQ has chosen the Af/Pak region as their base. The new Taliban has broader goals than just imposing Sharia on their respective tribes, they have begun to embrace the Islamic Caliphate idea with their homes as the first bastions.

When we chose to fight for a free Afghanistan instead of simply using the "Rubble doesn't make trouble" tactic, we bit off a huge challenge. But having done that, we cannot afford defeat to this newly invigorated Islamist movement. They would become an inspiration to like-minded jihadists worldwide and would gain fundraising and recruiting bonanzas by driving the Crusaders out. Hoh claims that most who fight us do so because we are occupiers, and there is some truth to that. But it overlooks the fact that 90% of the populace in Afghanistan does not want to live under Taliban rule. He claims that our presence causes the people to turn against us. Again partially true in the kinetic state we were operating in, that is the point of switching to COIN. You shield the people from the depredations of the Talibs and make their lives better. Then their desire to live free of the Taliban and our presence are aligned.

He has huge issues w/ the corruption of the government and he is absolutely correct, it is near Chicago-esque. But the area has operated under various forms of corruption basically forever. What they need is to feel that it does them some good to tolerate it. If the security situation is improved for much of the populace, then we can bring about the rise of an Afghan civil structure that helps it's people.

None of these things are easy, but living with an encroaching Islamist movement bound on expansion through whatever means necessary sounds worse to me.