Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Ambassador Burns on South Asia Strategy a la Camden

Nicholas Burns, The 'Ambassador' to Afghanistan was keynote speaker at the heralded Camden conference this past week and his subject was, of course, Afghanistan. Camden conference is essentially a place for the intellectual elite to pontificate on the complexities of the world fabric, utter unspeakable truths and wisdom and, of course, create a better environment for us lesser beings. As is true with most of these cyclonic verbal events, there is far less substance than salesmanship. Most of what is shared is a greater sense of the majesty of the speaker, his vision and that of whom he represents. Anything bordering on substantive content is not garnered from personal experience as much as from think-tank type clusters. In short; a lot of hot air intended to massage the faithful and curious uninformed. What follows are high lights from this year's event with my comments in red:

CAMDEN (ANDREW bENORE 02/22/21010)— Ambassador Nicholas Burns opened the Camden Conference Feb. 19 at the Camden Opera House with a series of questions designed to frame the three-day discussion of "Afghanistan, Pakistan, India -- Crossroads of Conflict." On Sunday morning, he drew the conference to a close with several themes that developed from talks by diplomats, artists, journalists, scholars and politicians.

His opening questions were:

Will the surge work? Will European allies and NATO produce troop commitments to match the United States? Can Afghanistan establish an effective government? Will Pakistan continue to weaken in the face of aggression? Is the worst case scenario possible -- will insurgents take control of Pakistan and its nuclear arsenal? Will India and Pakistan reconcile? Will Pakistan "adopt a more responsible policy toward Afghanistan?" Finally, he asked, "Will we feel better by Sunday [when the conference ends]?"

On Sunday morning, he answered some of those questions. Like the diplomats and others who spoke at the Camden Conference, his well-organized thoughts were grouped into five themes, which eventually turned into seven themes.

He started by saying that there are vital national interests in South Asia and the Greater Middle East. Burns said the strategic focus of the United States has shifted from Europe to South Asia and the Middle East. He talked about recent involvement with Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and other countries. There is no choice but to engage, Burns said. ( I agree with this)

"I can't get away from the fact that our [strategic focus has shifted]," Burns said. "That is not going to change for the rest of our lifetimes. Looking 50, 100 years into the future, our children's and grandchildren's lifetimes, this is not a distant hinterland. It is actually the core of the 21st century challenges for our country, from a strategic perspective."(Again; this last part is hard to argue with)

His second point was that the fate of Afghanistan "is not a cursory concern." He supported the Obama administration's current strategy of moving away from a military victory and instead trying to protect the people from the insurgency. The new strategy relies less on firepower and more on securing people where they are, and linking that up with economic aid and help with agriculture. (Nothing to agree with here)

"We've taken lots of towns but the lives of the people in those towns have not necessarily improved," Burns said. (And they won't until they decide they want something different - they don't!)

Marjah, the object of recent military action, where the United States is trying to secure the town and keep the Taliban from returning, is an example of the new strategy. (After we telegraphed our coming for weeks; gave the enemy time to leave and then were shackled by ROE if he dropped his weapon in transit to another firing position).

The third point was that there is no military victory possible in Afghanistan. (Here lies the mantra of the deceitful left. The truth is you have no hope of winning if you have already decided you can't - or won't) Many Camden Conference speakers said this.

"The commitment to try to win a conventional military victory would be so excessive in the number of American troops involved that it wouldn't be worth the effort," Burns said. "So I don't think we should, if we fail at 108,000 troops to achieve some victories over the Taliban, be in favor of going to 200,000 troops or 300,000 troops. Forty or 50 years ago we tried that in Vietnam and it didn't work out there."(The fact is we didn't 'try it'. We employed the same schizophrenic non-strategy then that we are now. We were so blinded by the success the Brits had in Malaya and the failure the French had in 1954 that we refused to analyze the reasons for either one. In the end we chose a course of action that history has rendered to the tell of western warfare.)

Burns said if the United States can counter the Taliban and slow its offensive and secure the population, then the U.S. policy could focus more on [diplomacy, reconciliation] (with the Taliban!?), aid, civilian efforts and education (nation building for those who don't want what we have). This can be called a transition to a political-diplomatic phase. Burns said civil wars across the world almost always end in reconciliation (Wait a minute; I thought they have been telling us this was an 'insurgency').

"They almost always end through political talks -- through the government and the insurgents (Revolutionaries???!?; see prior paragraph) compromising at some point on their basic objectives,"(Compromise; we die, they reign) Burns said. "I can't see the Afghan war ending any differently."(Because he is another of the wrong people in the wrong job. Maybe he should seek employment in the shoe-shine industry)

Burns' fourth point was to not give up on Pakistan. He acknowledged that the United States has a difficult relationship with Pakistan but "Pakistan matters."(Because there is very little difference between Pakistan and Afghanistan; look up Durand line in Wikipedia)

"It matters geographically when you look at the map," Burns said. "It matters because of the size of the country. It matters because of its very difficult but symbiotic relationship with India."

Burns said the United States can't ignore that Pakistan sees India as a strategic threat. (The fact that they have exported terrorists to India and killed 200 in Mombay is of little consequence…)In that equation is the possession by Pakistan, and India, of nuclear weapons.

"They have nearly gone to war with each other -- two nuclear armed countries -- twice since 1999," Burns said. "That would be catastrophic -- for them, for the people of the region, and for us. So I think that the United States needs to be engaged in the Kashmir problem, behind the scenes. And I know we need to be engaged in the conflux of Pakistan-India differences that are so important; we need to be the balancer in that relationship if we can."

Burns' fifth point was that the United States needs to build a global partnership with India. With changes in power around the globe, India needs a seat at the international table, Burns said.

"Strategically, in South Asia, the region we've been studying this weekend, India is the keystone country," Burns said. "It's a successful country. It's the second largest Muslim country in the world, and yet the Indians have found a way to weave together a multiracial, multiethnic and multireligion society. (Translation; The Indians don't take any crap) They struggle with it, as we have, but they are moving forward in a positive direction. They want to have this relationship with us."

India will also play a role in dealing with China, he said. Burns said it is important that China's rise -- economically and militarily -- be peaceful.

"India is critical with this big question with China," Burns said. "It's critical for America's engagement in the most important part of the world, the Greater Middle East. India will go a long way in helping to write the history of South Asia -- positively or negatively."

The final point was whether conference participants would feel better on Sunday. Burns was optimistic.(All lefties are optimists; The vast majority of Conservatives are realists. See Patrick Henry's speech 03/23/1775)

"I think in Afghanistan the Taliban cannot overthrow the government, (Technically it would not be an overthrow/coupe; just a slight nudge toward complete Theocracy…Wait, that was what we found in 2001!!!) and the Taliban cannot defeat us," (They don't have to. All they have to do is wait for us to undo ourselves) Burn said, adding that this is necessary to begin the political-diplomatic phase.

In Pakistan, Burns said, he believes the region can move forward.

He also said global leadership by President Barack Obama is a bright spot. (Praise the messiah!)

"I think we've got the smartest, most patient, most skillful, and maybe the most farsighted president in President Obama we've had in a long time," (I have goose bumps just thinking of him) Burns said. "Do we feel better on Sunday at noon? I feel that our president is leading us in the right direction."

Burns' final, final point was that citizens need to show support for the region.(In the form of a scorched-earth strategy)

"It's not just up to [Obama]; it's up to us," Burns said. "If we think that the answer to trouble overseas is isolation, and we've often thought that in our history and we've pulled back, or if we think it's unilateralism -- we're so big and wonderful and strong we can go it alone -- we tried that in 2002 and 2003 and we failed. (We failed because we decided to try to convince the world to try something other than wringing their hands) We have to lead and we have to be engaged."(Send in Americorps)

Burns said he believes in the power of the United States, and people need to back up the president.(I will leave this one alone)

"I do believe in the goodness of this country," Burns said. "I believe in the effectiveness of our government, of our soldiers and diplomats to do the right thing and to be effective. (I believe in the effectiveness of our Warriors) I feel better Sunday."

Bottom line; this guy is a bone-head. Essentially he is on a goodwill tour for Obama and company; espousing the quality and virtue of the man as the reason why all of his decisions will account for a better, more moral and secure America. I don’t know where these people come from but Joseph Stalin would have sold his family to have a few of these guys planted in the US under his tenure. The fact is we are losing the war and not because we don’t possess the ability, the morale, the troops, the training or the materiel. We are losing this fight because we have already chosen (politically) not to win it. When you try to couple nation building in one country with the legitimate safety and security concerns of another, one is certainly not going to be met (‘No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other…’ Math 6:24).

Again; the Afghan people have created their own plight. The Taliban are a domestic problem and the people are not willing to destroy or at least confront them on their own because they are unwilling to assume the risks associated with fighting the tyranny Obama and Company assumes they are under. This is nothing less than a Global Welfare program (defined as someone willing to take something for nothing in return) with no teeth. We provide all of the help and force while unreasonably endangering our men to defend those who will not defend themselves – and I don’t want to hear all the crap about the ANA and the wonderful job they are doing. We are ALL aware of just how miserably they have performed while attached to our Warriors. There have been the few; but just the few who have apparently depicted elements of the heart necessary to win. In the Corps we always talk about the 10%. The 10% who can’t get it together. A historical argument can be made that it is the less than 3% who ever put themselves in harm’s way for the good of others. In Afghanistan it is probably closer to .03%.

Add to this the fact that we have a psychologically damaged President with a decidedly anti-American agenda (sending troops to perform a mission for some other nation, with their hands tied, and with very little discernable value for the nation they represent; us) and what you have is a recipe for unduly high casualties and an eventual pull-out a la Vietnam. The warm and fuzzy lefties in this country have never had the spine to do what needs to be done and they are about to repeat history yet again having killed a good percentage of the best of this generation in the process. And all this guy can do is expound on the virtue of his messiah as the reason why this is all right.

Any Questions?


John Bernard