• The Myth of the Anbar Awakening, Afghan Remix

    October 23, 2012

    Tags: , , ,
    Posted in: Afghanistan, Iraq, Military

    The New York Times reports on an isolated incident in Afghanistan where, fed up with the Taliban closing their schools and committing other acts of oppression, men in a village about 100 miles south of Kabul took up arms late last spring and chased out the insurgents with no help from the Afghan government or U.S. military.

    American officials nonetheless are quietly nurturing the trend, hoping it might become a game changer, or at least a new roadblock for the Taliban.

    Yeah, right. The Times then drops what Americans still cling to, the myth of Anbar:

    Some have compared the apparently spontaneous uprisings to the Iraq war’s Anbar Awakening of 2007, in which Sunni Arab tribes in the western province of Anbar turned on al-Qaida in their midst, joined forces with the Americans and dealt a blow that many credit with turning the tide of that conflict. The U.S. armed and paid the tribal fighters and sought to integrate them into Iraqi government forces.

    The myth of Anbar is one of the Iraq War’s nastier leftovers. Many Iraqis did push back against al Qaeda, but typically for personal gain and local control. The US carried out an awful lot of night raids against “al Qaeda” that instead eliminated local rivals of Sunnis more skilled at manipulating the desperate-for-success Americans. The limited initial successes were quickly subsumed by the need to pay “Sons of Iraq” essentially protection money to stay on our side (I watched their enthusiasm fade as the money dried up in my own year in Iraq). And of course al Qaeda still maintains an active franchise in Iraq even to this day, and Anbar is still a shithole.

    As in Iraq, the U.S., ever-so-desperate for something close enough to call a “victory” before we just get the hell out of Afghanistan, so wants to believe any anti-Taliban action is somehow even remotely related to a pro-Afghan government or maybe– maybe– a pro-U.S. stance. That was the meme in Anbar.

    It is not true. Just because local people do not want one group of outsiders (al Qaeda, Taliban, Mormons) messing with their lives, that does not imply acceptance of another group of outsiders (Shiite Iraqi government, Afghan kleptocrats or U.S. occupiers). The more somewhat authoritative sources like the Times keep this myth alive, the longer it will take for any chance of learning any lessons from these failed counter-insurgency farces.

    It’s time to really wake up America, and bring the troops home.

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  • Recent Comments

    • Rich Bauer said...


      Speaking of the nightmare that never ends:

      “At the CIA, Director David Petraeus sent a memo to agency employees noting Kiriakou’s conviction, saying “it marks an important victory for our agency, for our intelligence community, and for our country. Oaths do matter, and there are indeed consequences for those who believe they are above the laws that protect our fellow officers and enable American intelligence agencies to operate with the requisite degree of secrecy.”

      The good news: Dick Cheney may laugh himself to death reading this.

      The bad news: Who is going to protect US from you?

      10/23/12 7:00 PM | Comment Link

    • wemeantwell said...


      Indeed. Let’s bring Valerie Plame into the discussion about how important oaths are. Bastards.

      10/23/12 7:38 PM | Comment Link

    • jo6pac said...


      My thought also but we never look back at old crimes unless they are needed to protect the criminals.

      10/23/12 10:15 PM | Comment Link

    • Eric Hodgdon said...


      Because of the following, I remain optimistic.

      I bring these to everyone’s attention, because history is what struggles are about. It’s not economic. It’s not governmental. It’s not societal. If anything, it’s all of them combined. Those starting from a flawed foundation are those I’m struggling against also.

      People will do what they want, no matter where they come from, or are going, if they can. Switching the fountains of propaganda is the best that can be done, but it’s not good enough. Majorities and minorities alike are self-centered corruption. They both seek to harm the other, and instill their brand of repression.

      The two-party system America is an example of this method in action. People are conned into seeking control of the machine, with each group lusting for the day they can abuse the other side. Revenge and retribution reign here, torture lives on; it’s the modern way of a people lost, fragmented, and absent a moral compass.

      Without a clear sense of clear history, Americans will flounder and flop, wallowing in the mud of their own low tide.

      Reason and experience tell me I’m mistaken in seeking those who work for all people, because there are too few. But, my hope fails to die.

      However, the CIA’s treatment of John Kiriakou remains the crime of low moral standards. Too many Americans have the wrong attitude, the cheap and easy attitude of shirking responsibility, just like the temps in our federal government.

      When the temps cause trouble, we the People rely on the regular employees to hold the fort upright. I hope these regular government workers sound out each and every time the temps step out of line.

      10/24/12 7:47 AM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...


      It’s always our leaders who be-tray-US.

      10/24/12 12:29 PM | Comment Link

    • jhoover said...


      10/25/12 5:18 PM | Comment Link

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