Green on Blue, Afghan Tribalism and Would Cyberdyne do better? (w/edits)

One of my favorite websites is StrategyPage it has a text only format news wire covering technical, tactical, strategic, operational, social, political aspects of the military.  An ongoing thread has been the Blue on Green attacks (Afghan  police or army members, killing US, NATO and other Afghans) .  One of the basic issues Strat Page point to is that Afghan society is by modern standards pathologically dangerous.  Most Afghans are probably clinically PTSD by our standards, and they few restraints on killing.  Murder rates are vastly higher than in the west, the main reason we never hear about it is that there is no one to keep the statistics.

This should not come as a surprise, it has a lot to do with their culture and their state of development, particularly the latter.  We used to be a lot more like them, except at the time it was bows and swords, not AK47s.   The murder rate in the west has been decreasing  precipitously for centuries. In feudal and pre-modern times, when the village, clan and tribe were the underpinnings of society, life was harsh anyway,  honor was all a man or family had, and the weapons were knives, clubs and fists (which are often more about hurting than killing and death was a random though not infrequent occurrence)  the killing/murder rate was many times what it is today.  The violence in clan and tribal (familial not trust based) cultures is higher than in the nuclear family/trust based cultures.  In fact I would argue that most of the US murder rate happen in sub cultures that never developed from or devolved back to clan / tribal structures.  Murder in the sense of the gentile English tea garden variety is rare and probably getting ever rarer.

This article What the Western media doesn’t say about green on blue attacks in Afghanistan : goes much further and broadens the aperture:

Recalibrating our perspective
The enemy that we’re fighting in Afghanistan is tribal. Their notion of the nation-state is almost abstract and, outside of the major cities of Kabul and Kandahar, essentially irrelevant to the people of the provinces where the tribe has been the principal social unit since before recorded time. The CIA estimates the literacy rate in Afghanistan at a shockingly low 28.1% of the general population.[ii] The tribe doesn’t recognise international borders when its members have familial ties on both sides that go back for millennia. Nation states may come and go but the tribe remains and nowhere is this more apparent than southwest Asia as a region and Afghanistan in particular. Alexander learned this the hard way after three bloody incursions 329 years BCE. So did Genghis Khan in the 13thcentury, Tamerlane in the 14th, and Babur in the 16thcenturies CE


Tribal alignments are socio-politically complex arrangements that are driven by principles of defence and survival. Tribe and democracy are incompatible constructs, a reality the modern Western militaries would do well to accept and build policy around. Tribal leadership and honour is everything; people do as their chiefs direct. They fight with total commitment the enemy they are told to fight, stop fighting when they are told to stop, vote for whom they are told to vote, plant wheat or opium as directed, and demonstrate a degree of social cohesion that is simply unknown to Western cultures. War and conflict are incredibly personal things to tribal culture and the tribal affiliations transcend any external relationships. This may logically explain how 500 Taliban and Haqqani insurgents escaped from the Kandahar prison in early 2011 without a single ANSF casualty; clearly the ANSF didn’t want to challenge the insurgents or were told not to by their superiors.

In this environment fighting a war in the traditional sense is almost pointless unless you have a clear eyed view of the situation and a long term plan to eradicate the problem not by violence alone but by uprooting the social structure. Of course there are many who would see this as abhorrent on its face…though the lives of those affected would be improved it would not be self determination.  It would also require decades and decades of money, toil and blood.  In our 140 character society with its plethora of supposedly quick changes we lack the ability to see that doing a hard thing like this requires incremental change over time, a million little wins not a handful of big ones.  This is the curse of our Big Bang mentality, and the failure of Westerners to understand that people from low development cultures are not  ‘us; waiting to be released from some shell of dung.   It takes decades of work to infuse the ‘memes’ that would underpin an Afghan society with the arrow of development going up rather than spinning down.

I’m not advocating this, I don’t think that humans have the ability to carry through the ‘plan.’  No society could wage peace-war for decade after decade maintaining the high moral and intellectual honesty as well as financial and material outflows that it would require while suffering the casualties and the continuing hatred of the the rest of the world.  See the fate of the British Empire..

We are going to pull out of Afghanistan in the main, given the surrounding hostility we cannot maintain a large force in country without the risk of something bad happening.  In a few years Afghanistan will be a near worthless wilderness patrolled by deadly drones ready to kill anyone who is seen to present a threat.  

And…maybe Cyberdine is the solution. The Terminator…the flying Terminator, the Predator.  With these reapers taking down any would be king Afghanistan might become a new frontier of wild east libertarian-ism. At first a place where the tribes can live if peace, or war, as they feel fit.  But under the unblinking eye will they slowly be brought to heel by the chains of modern life, solar lighting, cell phone commerce, TV, Googlepads, etc.

Maybe this is the plan behind the plan in the Disposition Matrix…..

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