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Thread: ISIS and Afghan Taliban

  1. #121
    Coffee farmer extraordinaire Member spmetla's Avatar
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    Default Re: ISIS and Afghan Taliban

    Bottom line: Is it very easy or very difficult to deter China on Taiwan, and if it's very difficult would adopting the most aggressive posture not ironically encourage China to be both more willing and more able to impose its will (this is known as "tragic drama")

    If it's very easy, just make the commitment, station a fleet or two, and call it a day - no discussion needed.
    I'd say it's difficult to deter China on Taiwan. As for making a commitment, that's part of the tragedy of the current situation with Taiwan and the flaw in the one-China policy. One-China policy was banked on the idea that opening up China would liberalize them and then allow for a peaceful rise and reunification, that was sorta working up until the early 2000s.
    China has now reversed their path of liberalization and gone back toward the path of repression, this has pushed Taiwan's youth from wanting reunification, especially in light of the crack downs in Hongkong, social credit scores, etc...
    With this, the US has now become coupled with China economically, it could break this relationship but that would be difficult and costly to the US and all the other major economies that have moved their industrial base and supply chains to China.

    The logic of an aggressive posture is that by being willing to risk war and the economic fallout in the near future, that risk is actually higher for China as they depend on sealanes for most of their trade, part of why they're investing in the new belt/road initative. A war would be economically costly to the whole world but would absolutely ruin China if it happened in present day.
    This is also tied with the fact that Xi Jinping has been the most powerful Chinese leader in 30 years and seems determined to be cemented in its memory on the same level as Mao Zedong. That type of meglamania can be unpredictable like we saw in the last four years of Trump. Granted Xi is actually smart man and calculating unlike Trump but that doesn't exclude him from wanting to accomplish the goal of reunification by force if needed.
    Just remember that the US position and that of its allies in the region is reactionary to China's new aggressive posture. They seek to change the status quo, forcibly if needed and are actively contending with the US at all levels short of conflict at the moment. Combine this with the ultra-nationalism and you get an opponent that won't negotiate on this issue leaving them with only one recourse if they want to force the issue.

    Deterring from what and in what capacity needs to be delineated. We already have a NATO commitment to mutual defense, which is the most important step.
    Mutual defense is only valuable if the members are capable and willing to defend each other. If some 'little green men' tried to overthrow Latvia's government in a Crimea type scenario are the NATO allies in the region capable of assisting? are they even willing? Trump question whether we should go to war to help Estonia was a huge hit to the idea of mutal defense.
    I personally think the major litmus test for NATO will be some crazy thing cooked up by Turkey over some Greek islands, Cyprus, Syria, or Armenia. Do we mutually defend one NATO ally against another. If one NATO ally starts a war that then draws in Russia in a limited way does that trigger article five? The Armenia-Azerbaijan war last year is fortunate in it's not expanding beyond those two countries.

    I don't see why the UK and France and Germany need to be militarizing for offensive operations into Eastern Europe. Today we know that Russia's strategic position in its near-abroad is weak, and not getting any stronger, as the (to some surprising) failure to check Ukrainian post-Russian ambitions demonstrated. Putin has a hard time trudging through his priorities for even Belarus. A massive armament campaign for NATO to achieve the capability to credibly strike against a hypothetical Russian occupation of Ukraine or Estonia would be socially corrosive and horrendously costly both before and during (any) deployment, in the latter case in terms of lives and materiel. It would also, naturally, incentivize further hostility from the Russian regime (if you think Europe can recommit to an arms race, Putin certainly can too - to hell with the domestic economy - in order to negate European augmentation).
    Who's talking about offensive operations? No sane person wants to start shit with Russia much less go on an offensive against them. It doesn't need to be a massive armament campaign, no one is advocating for a quarter million US troops back in Germany and its allies having dozens of armored divisions standing by.
    As for Putin being able to afford an arms race, I don't think he can. There's a reason why India has more modern T-90 tanks than Russia, Russia can't afford them. Russia is so cash strapped they still sell the Chinese jet-engines and air defense systems fully knowing that they will eventually be reverse engineered and that the Chinese will overtake Russia in most of its overseas arms sales.
    Russia is currently a threat that needs to be contained, it may not be a long term threat as who knows what it will be once Putin leaves. He certainly doesn't share the lime light, that tends to leave the successors to popular dictators vulnerable to infighting and domestic power plays.
    Europe needs to be capable to play the long game against Putin and deter more action on his part in the bordering states. The long-term should be to try and do what failed in the 90s and finally bring Russia home into Europe (not the EU or NATO). China is not a good partner for Russia and never has been, it's been a good source of cash at the expense of Russia losing it's military edge and secrets but China's ambitions in the far east and central asia will lead to their becoming enemies again at some point.

    Getting NATO allies to at least get their readiness levels up so they could commit the few forces they have to a crisis if needed would be the most useful. No point in an air force if lack of spare parts means they can't be used when needed.

    Core European sealanes, borders, and airspace are secure from foreign powers as far as I know (not that there's a contender other than Russia here). If you mean that the EU needs more ships to shoot at Ivory Coast pirates or Mediterranean migrants, I don't see why. It might be more helpful to get a handle on what role Turkey is going to play in the region.
    As most of European/EU issues center around trade then Naval power is actually one of the best investments they can make. You may scoff at piracy but it is a problem that naval patrols have helped to mitigate. The core causes of piracy exist but short of nation building Somalia, Yemen and plenty of other countries the easier and more cost effective solution is sealane protection. Warships are expensive but if you're going to build ships then ideally they're capable of more than just deterring pirates, probably best to have the capability to lauch and support SOF too, or perhaps fly the flag where free navigation is threatened (South China Seas). Strategic lift capability and reach is extremely useful by air and sea and has uses for humanitarian aid as well moving troops ,there's a lot more to defense spending than tanks and troops though those are necessary too. Building NATO logistical and cyber-warfare capabilities that were independent of the US would be hugely useful and have uses beyond conventional warfare too.
    As you mention migrants though the EU seriously needs a lot more investment in FRONTEX. Belarus, Russia, Turkey, and Morocco all use migrants as a weapon, opening and closing the flow over the border as needed to punish the border nations of Europe and create European domestic infighting. It's like a modern day reverse Barbary-pirates scenario, give these concessions or we let thousands more over the border to become your problem. Just look at Lithuania bearing the brunt from Belarus in response to their raising diplomatic status of Taiwan's office.
    European sealanes and interests go a bit farther than just Europe's periphery though, the blockage of the Suez was hugely costly to European trade. The arctic is melting and Canada, Norway and Denmark/Greenland aren't exactly poised to stop Russian resource exploration when that eventually happens. Ice breakers and artic capable coast guard and aerial patrols will be a necessity as the Northwest passage becomes more common for Europe-East Asian trade (shorter and therefore cheaper for Northern/Western Europe).

    Do you mean cruise missiles? My knowledge of the relevant systems is limited, but I recall that a modern navy will have strong countermeasures against any such systems, as best demonstrated by the Coalition naval forces during the Gulf War. Wouldn't the best practicable option be quantity rather than superior technical sophistication? Dozens to hundreds of missiles against landing craft close to shore (with the caveat that the entire Chinese sealift would never all be exposed at a single moment) seems like the only option.
    It's a fair bit more complicated than that, the weapons and defenses have moved a long way from the Gulf War. If we're relying on line of sight weapons against landing craft then the invasion is already a success. In short though, Taiwan needs what you've mentioned before, good area-denial capability and we should help build it. Taiwan doesn't have much strategic depth so relying on defense to fend off the PLA in the face of drone swarms, ballistic missiles, electronic and cyber warfare can only do so much. Given the geographic, qualitative, and numerical advantage of China that's only a method to buy time. The deterrence is in the capability to come to the aid of Taiwan if needed, this deterrence must not be vulnerable to a Chinese first strike either (a modern day Pearl Harbor in another form) which is why the US has been moving Marines out of Okinawa and to Guam and hopefully now to Australia too. With the Philippines not being available the US has lost a lot of strategic depth too and is relying on only a few major bases to cover and project power into a very large area.

    That latter outcome is too high a risk for the CCP, as it would lose enormous quantities of domestic legitimacy, international standing, economic stability, military readiness, and so on, all for the sake of empty posturing; Taiwan would be further out of reach than ever. Since the CCP has demonstrated its rationality many times, assuming it retains that rationality we keep returning to the principle that any overt measure to reduce Taiwan's independence has to be projected to be rapid and decisive from the Chinese point of view.
    China's record for rationality has been slipping a lot as of late, they take much more risk for much less gain than the previous three generations have. When you keep telling your population that 'our time is now and the US must step back and allow us to take our rightful place' they eventually expect their leaders to act on it. A generation raised on propaganda eventually results in people ruling that believe that same propaganda.

    //////////////////HERE STARTS ISIS/TALIBAN GWOT TALK////////////////////////////

    The degradation of the state system in the Middle East has set up some social and humanitarian consequences that will reach throughout the century, which go without elaboration, and has in fact altered strategic relationships: see the drift of Turkey and Pakistan, the comparative loss of Influence of Saudi Arabia, Arab-Israeli rapprochement, the permanentish alienation of Iran from the West, Russian reentry to the region, indeed the continuing (I would say accelerated) spread and escalation of terrorism to full-blown internal conflict around the Islamic world...

    Back to the issue of deterrence, the War on Terror made China and Russia intrinsically much less friendly to the American order ("And when the band plays "Hail to the chief", Ooh, they point the cannon at you"). This is almost as profound as it gets in the contemporary period. Whaddaya want for to call it world change, the collapse of the EU and a return to armed territorial conflict between Continental states, the reemergence of a true Caliphate, the final disappearance of American primacy - uh?
    GWOT didn't degrade the state system in the middle east, it's always been teetering. The only stable governments in the region over the last 50 years has been Israel and Saudi Arabia, each with significant issues too.
    Turkey has been adrift for a long time, it's issues with Greece, Cyprus, Armenia, the Kurds have ensured that it would never be a real European nation. Erdogan's actions and spur toward dictatorship haven't been because of GWOT.
    Pakistan is in the same boat as Turkey, were they ever really a US ally? Only when it looked like India would go from non-allied to Soviet bloc and as a base to funnel weapons to the Mujahadeen in Afghanistan but that didn't happen and India opened up so no need for Pakistan and it's perpetually causing problems for every one of its neighbors.

    True on the effect of making China and Russia less friendly. I'd say that NATO actions against Serbia and the dangling of NATO membership to Ukraine and Georgia together with our cozying up with Azerbaijan are what really turned Russia against the US. GWOT just provided opportunity while the US was tied down in quagmires.
    Of course China would oppose US actions in Afghanistan and Iraq. Afghanistan is right next door and if the history of the US establishing permanent bases succeeded there then there'd be a threat to China's strategic depth. The Bush 'axis of evil' and policy of regime change in Iraq is what really pushed China into firm opposition.
    World changing events tend to affect the whole world. GWOT was significant for the middle east and parts of Africa. It's affects on most of Africa, Asia, the Americas, and most of Europe (apart from the troop contributing nations) weren't all that significant. The collapse of the Warsaw pact and then Soviet Union had an immediate far reaching effects. The Suez Crisis essentially ending France/UK great power status and leading to France's divorce from NATO and the expedited policies of France and the UK to decolonize changed the makeup of the world leading to huge social, economic, and political upheavals in all former colonies over the next 30 years. So yeah, your later examples are far closer to the mark though you took them to a another extreme degree.

    The deciding factor is that our decisions on the basic form of the Afghan government we would recognize - a unitary, centralized republic - restricted plausible forms for the Afghan milsec establishment to what we would recognize as a conventional, centralized, milsec establishment. But the point that the Taliban had no need for air support is a suggestive one; could different governmental and social forms for our endorsement have produced more resilient native anti-Taliban operations under a less complex and costly organization? And I don't mean fomenting a permanent war of all militias and ethnicities against all. But that requires creativity, cultural sensitivity and responsiveness to local conditions, and a willingness to supercede path dependence that the US - more fairly states in general - has shown little aptitude for.
    Well, yes, different government, military, and social forms could have worked. The idea that we could ever impose the needed ideal state even given the creativity and sensitivity we lack is just not gonna happen and never was. There's no such thing as a perfect government, all governance is a compromise of some sort. The GIROA experimient was apprantly too centralized, perhaps more power in the districts and provinces would have been more successful.
    I get what you're saying about about air support not being necessary but that's always been an issue in all counter-insurgencies. The insurgent can hide in the population, doesn't wear a uniform so is able to only strike when he's got the advantage and so on. Separation the insurgent from the populace is the way to win; we evidently failed to do that from some combination of fear or at the minimum neutrality toward the insurgent or support for the insurgent. The areas that support the Taliban support what the Taliban stand for, a modern representative liberal for the region nation state of any form was not going to get their short term support. Giving them a status like the northwest frontier tribal region (Pakistan) might have been a solution but that's too large an area of Afghanistan to break up, it'd be essentially balkanizing the country. The failure of GIROA to win over the population doesn't necessarily mean the population supports the Taliban either, they just don't care enough to oppose the Taliban or risk their life for GIROA.
    Air support is only useful if it's supporting troops on the ground, seeing as the ANA didn't even bother fighting the Taliban once we left it makes no difference if they had one plane or a million. If the ANA had fought the Taliban then air support would have given an edge in firepower and mobility as it has for the past seven years in which the ANA did most of the fighting and dying and NATO mostly just advised from the sidelines.

    The GIROA was a flawed beast but it had far more of the elements you advocate for than the Taliban government did in the past and looks to have in the future. The Taliban are primarily Sunni zealots and Pashto tribesman, they don't have a history have much cultural sensitivity towards the Hazarras (they're Shia too), Tajiks, Iranians, or Uzbeks.

    There's currently a moment of opportunity for the Taliban to be the government that you advocate but I'm positive that they will not do that. They are a hardline extremist organization. Twenty years of fighting and a 'god given victory' will not temper that too much. The formal world organizations will likely keep the bank accounts closed as the Taliban won't make the concessions to human rights needed to allow 'the west' to morally deal with them as an equal nation. The Taliban will then just like you allude to go the path of pariah state like Iran. Those organizations could just open up and deal with the Taliban but then they'd be possibly bankrolling Taliban oppression too. Is legitimizing and funding their oppressors helping Afghans? Is it to be another permanent UN aid mission?

    You've said enough that we should try and act on behalf of what's best for the Afghan people. I still think in the long run that would have been supporting the flawed state that was GIROA. Hindsight being what it is we clearly needed to somehow fight corruption as our primary effort. What will Taliban governance bring Afghanistan though? Half of the Afghan people (the women) have just lost most of their access to human rights. All Afghans have just lost access to a modern legal system, corrupt and slow yes, but at least not resulting in public stoning to death. Yes, there's no fighting as the war is done, only time will tell if the peace ends up more repressive and deadly than the war (now that the Taliban can focus on ruling rather than just killing other Afghans) or if the Afghans prefer today's Taliban security or yesterday's liberties.
    Last edited by spmetla; 09-19-2021 at 09:19.

    "Am I not destroying my enemies when I make friends of them?"
    -Abraham Lincoln

  2. #122
    Coffee farmer extraordinaire Member spmetla's Avatar
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    Default Re: ISIS and Afghan Taliban

    Afghanistan: Executions will return, says senior Taliban official
    The Taliban's notorious former head of religious police has said extreme punishments such as executions and amputations will resume in Afghanistan.

    Mullah Nooruddin Turabi, now in charge of prisons, told AP News amputations were "necessary for security".

    He said these punishments may not be meted out in public, as they were under previous Taliban rule in the 1990s.

    But he dismissed outrage over their past public executions: "No-one will tell us what our laws should be."

    Since taking power in Afghanistan on 15 August the Taliban have been promising a milder form of rule than in their previous tenure.

    But there have already been several reports of human rights abuses carried out across the country.
    On Thursday, Human Rights Watch warned that the Taliban in Herat were "searching out high-profile women, denying women freedom of movement outside their homes [and] imposing compulsory dress codes".

    And in August, Amnesty International said that Taliban fighters were behind the massacre of nine members of the persecuted Hazara minority.

    Amnesty's Secretary-General Agnès Callamard said at the time that the "cold-blooded brutality" of the killings was "a reminder of the Taliban's past record, and a horrifying indicator of what Taliban rule may bring".
    Days before the Taliban took control of Kabul, a Taliban judge in Balkh, Haji Badruddin, told the BBC's Secunder Kermani that he supported the group's harsh and literal interpretation of Islamic religious law.

    "In our Sharia it's clear, for those who have sex and are unmarried, whether it's a girl or a boy, the punishment is 100 lashes in public," Badruddin said. "But for anyone who's married, they have to be stoned to death... For those who steal: if it's proved, then his hand should be cut off."

    These hardline views are in tune with some ultra-conservative Afghans.

    However, the group are now balancing this desire to appeal to their conservative base with a need to form connections with the international community - and since coming into power, the Taliban have tried to present a more restrained image of themselves.
    Turabi, notorious for his harsh punishments for people caught listening to non-religious music or trimming their beards in the 1990s, told AP that although harsh forms of punishment would continue, the group would now allow televisions, mobile phones, photos and videos.

    Turabi - who is on a UN sanctions list for his past actions - said the Taliban's cabinet ministers were now discussing whether or not punishments should be public, and that they would "develop a policy".

    Back in the 1990s, executions were held in public in Kabul's sports stadium, or on the vast grounds of the Eid Gah mosque.

    At the time Turabi was justice minister and head of the Ministry of Propagation of Virtue and Prevention of Vice - the Taliban's religious police.

    "Everyone criticised us for the punishments in the stadium, but we have never said anything about their laws and punishments," he said in the latest interview.

    Earlier this week, the Taliban also requested to speak at the UN General Assembly, which is being held in New York City.

    German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said that while it was important to communicate with the Taliban, "the UN General Assembly is not the appropriate venue for that".

    The US, which sits on the credentialing committee, also said it would not make a decision before the end of the summit next week.
    Not surprised though still sad to see and predictable with the Taliban in charge. Made even worse that your 'trial' is essentially a religious hearing.

    To protect Afghan girls, UN panel urges conditions on aid
    DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Aid to Afghanistan should be made conditional to ensure the protection of women’s rights and access to education under the rule of the Taliban government, a panel of high-level speakers said at the United Nations on Friday.

    Since taking control of the country last month when the U.S.-backed government collapsed, the Taliban have allowed younger girls and boys back to school. But in grades six to 12, they have allowed only boys back to school along with their male teachers.

    The United Nations says 4.2 million children are not enrolled in school in Afghanistan, and 60% of them girls.

    The Taliban have also said female university students will face restrictions, such as a compulsory dress code, and will not be allowed in the same classrooms as their male counterparts. Additionally, the subjects being taught will be reviewed, the new government said.

    U.N. Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed said that “by and large, we’re very concerned” about measures restricting girls’ access to education since the Taliban took control of the country following the U.S. withdrawal and collapse of the Afghan government in August.

    “I think the international community here, first and foremost, has to draw on the expertise, on the leadership of Afghan women... to stop the reversal, to remain in school,” she said in the U.N. panel that focused on ways to support girls’ education in Afghanistan. The virtual discussion took place on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly, where the Taliban have requested to speak as representatives of Afghanistan.

    Mohammed said aid to Afghanistan can “absolutely” be made conditional on education for girls and women. She said the United Nations and the international community can help ensure Afghanistan’s economy does not collapse and that educators and health care workers continue to be paid.
    I'm glad they're setting conditions though given the recent Taliban statements they seem to have little to no inclination to moderate their behavior. Essentially an attitude of 'help us we need the aid but don't criticize our internal matters.'

    "Am I not destroying my enemies when I make friends of them?"
    -Abraham Lincoln

  3. #123

    Default Re: ISIS and Afghan Taliban

    Since taking control of the country last month when the U.S.-backed government collapsed, the Taliban have allowed younger girls and boys back to school. But in grades six to 12, they have allowed only boys back to school along with their male teachers.
    The Taliban have also said female university students will face restrictions, such as a compulsory dress code, and will not be allowed in the same classrooms as their male counterparts. Additionally, the subjects being taught will be reviewed, the new government said.
    There's some work required to make these statements consistent with one another. At face value, women will be barred from secondary education but permitted in tertiary education, which implies that women will de facto be barred from tertiary education as the supply of currently-enrolled or eligible secondary-educated girls dwindles. Obviously there's little meaning to nominally permitting women to attend college if all the women in traditional college age at some time are barely literate or numerate.

    So if the quoted statements are valid, either the Taliban are phasing out women in university, or they're actually phasing in girls in high school (after a pause).

    Unless I'm missing something, such as geographic variation in policy or conflicts or differences in authority in the sources of each of the statements.
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