28 July 2019

DOD Report on Afghanistan – June 2019

Every six months the Department of Defense provides to Congress a semiannual report entitled Enhancing Security and Stability in Afghanistan. The report covers the events from the previous six months – in this case, from December to May 2019. The report states that the principal goal of the United States South Asia Strategy is to “. . . conclude the war in Afghanistan on terms favorable to Afghanistan and the United States.”

Currently the United States is engaging in a “fight and talk” approach with the Taliban. Negotiations have been ongoing for over a year and the report claims progress has been made. Apparently U.S. military leaders believe that increased military pressure, international calls for peace, and U.S. engagements with a multitude of governments and agencies are ” . . . driving the Taliban to negotiations.”

The report’s update on the security situation indicates that the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF) maintain control of the large cities and all of the provincial capitals. The Taliban control a significant portion of the rural areas and some district centers…

From the information that I have provided in my initial comment below, one might suggest that we can have one -- but not both -- of the following two things; importantly both here at home, and indeed there in places such as Afghanistan also. This being: 

a. "Stability and security." (This often entails NOT MESSING WITH the ensconced political, economic, social and/or value "status quo"/the "culture" -- of the peoples both here at home -- and there overseas.) Or we can have:

b. "Better economic growth and helping American businesses." (This often REQUIRES THAT WE MESS WITH, UNDERMINE, OVERTHROW AND REPLACE certain aspects of the ensconced political, economic, social and value "status quo"/the "culture" -- of populations both here at home -- and there overseas.) (Such "cultural backwardness", in fact, and as Schumpeter describes in my initial comment below, being the very thing that can stand in the way of "normal economic intercourse"/"necessary progress/")

Herein, such things as "international competition," for example as described in the quoted immediately below, can make my item "b," above, "the only game in town:"


We agree with Bobbitt that a global transition from Nation States to Market States is now well underway. The chief thesis of this Article is that the Supreme Court has embarked on a program of reshaping constitutional doctrine so as to encourage and facilitate the emergence of a fully developed Market State in this polity, with a view to positioning the United States to be successful in meeting the competitive challenges of a new, post-Cold War international order. In taking this course, the Court has increasingly aligned itself with the prescriptive views of American business and political elites, for whom globalization is understood "not merely [as] a diagnostic tool but also [as] an action program." From this perspective, globalization "represents a great virtue: the transcendence of the traditional restrictions on worldwide economic activity.., inherent" in the era of Nation States. Proponents of this vision of a globalized economy characterize the United States as "a giant corporation locked in a fierce competitive struggle with other nations for economic survival," so that "the central task of the federal government" is "to increase the international competitiveness of the American economy."


https://scholarship.law.edu/scholar/48/ (See Page 643. But the entire article makes interesting reading.)

Bottom Line Thought -- Based on the Above:

Thus if (from the quoted item immediately above) "the central task of the federal government is to increase the international competitiveness of the American economy,"

Then, obviously,

a. Critical aspects of "our" -- and indeed "their" (the Afghans for example) "culture" will need to be sacrificed -- and likewise:

b. The peoples whose elevated status is provided for by such "culture."

And such (see my "a" and "b" immediately above), ARE NOT the things that "stability and security" are made of?

Perhaps the following quoted matters -- first from the development communities' analysis of the Trump NSS and then from Joseph Schumpeter's "Imperialism and Capitalism" -- perhaps these such matters can provide us with an understanding of why "progress" -- along security and/or other lines -- is so difficult to attain; this: 

a. In Afghanistan and elsewhere. And this,

b. Today much as it was in earlier times.

First, the following from the development communities analysis of the Trump NSS:


"U.S. development assistance must support America’s national interests,” the strategy document says. “The United States will promote a development model that partners with countries that want progress, consistent with their culture, based on free market principles, fair and reciprocal trade, private sector activity, and rule of law,” it reads. “We will emphasize reforms that unlock the economic potential of citizens, such as the promotion of formal property rights, entrepreneurial reforms, and infrastructure improvements — projects that help people earn their livelihood and have the added benefit of helping U.S. businesses.” ...

While many countries around the world have increased their focus on fragile states and made commitments to put certain percentages of their development dollars towards them, the strategy said that the U.S. will commit selectively.

“We will give priority to strengthening states where state weaknesses or failure would magnify threats to the American homeland,” the strategy says. The U.S. will prioritize programs where weak countries would create bigger threats to the U.S., such as Afghanistan.

From the above, one can see what may be wrong here, this being that:

a. America's national interests,

b. These are understood primarily from the perspective of (a) "economic growth" and (b) "helping U.S. businesses."

This being the case, then a contradiction presents itself here, this being that: 

a. "Countries that want progress;" these such countries, obviously, 

b. Cannot continue to do things which are "consistent with their culture" (for example, consistent with Afghan culture).

(Herein, for example, such things as "free market principles," "fair and reciprocal trade," "private sector activity," "the rule of law," "formal property rights," "entrepreneurial reforms," etc; these such things -- while being consistent of with OUR modern/secular western culture and way of life -- are often foreign, alien and profane in other cultures -- and/or are matters which, even in our own country and culture, can be placed in a somewhat more-marginal, and thus more-subordinate, position?) 

Thus, as Joseph Schumpeter noted in his 1919 "Imperialism and Capitalism:"

a. "Cultural backwardness" is, quite obviously, 

b. What stands in the way of such things as "economic growth" and the promotion of one's business interest. 

(And, thus, which requires "correction" -- for example by way of "colonialism" back then -- and by way of "nation-building" today?) 


"Where cultural backwardness of a region makes normal economic intercourse dependent on colonization, it does not matter, assuming free trade, which of the civilized nations undertakes the task of colonization. 

Bottom Line Thought -- Based on the Above: 

When "hyper-modernization" (so as to adequately provide for the "enhanced economic growth"/the "enhanced U.S. business potential" of globalization); when this such "hyper-modernization" came to dominate both our domestic and our foreign policy thinking and actions post-the Old Cold War,

Then, quite understandably, "hyper-resistance to unwanted political, economic, social and/or value change" (so as to adequately provide for and protect one's own culture and one's place in it) became the "order of the day:"

a. First in the Greater Middle East and 

b. Now even in the U.S./the West. (In this latter regard, think of the Brexit and the election of President Trump.)

This presents our President -- and those who think like him -- with an obvious dilemma; this being that:

a. If they truly want to enhance "economic growth"/if they want to "provide for U.S. businesses" 

b. Then they simply cannot do this -- either at home or abroad -- by being "consistent with our/their culture." 

(Herein, and in both cases, political, economic, social and/or value "change" is required; this, so as to overcome such "cultural backwardness" problems as are identified with, for example, racism, parochialism, sexism, tribalism, etc., etc., etc. -- all of which impede "economic growth," and the wants, needs and desires of -- today variously intertwined -- business interests?)

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