One of the defining moments of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Afghanistan strategy that I covered yesterday came when Sen. John Kerry
One of the defining moments of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Afghanistan strategy that I covered yesterday came when Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) asked why we needed to take a counterinsurgency approach to Afghanistan when a commando raid in Somalia, without the aid of a large troop mobilization, had killed a key al-Qaeda figure. The response, from Steve Biddle of the Council on Foreign Relations:
“Safe havens do not [offer al-Qaeda] real estate for construction of tent farms for training seminars,” he said, but instead they protect al-Qaeda from “human-intelligence penetration on the ground,” upon which such targeted counterterrorism strikes depend. With regard to the drone strikes in Pakistan against al-Qaeda — which the CIA claims has seriously eroded al-Qaeda’s freedom of movement in the tribal areas and which some counterinsurgents fear will ultimately alienate Pakistanis — “control of the government underneath the drones” was an additional prerequisite for success, Biddle said. Take away human intelligence and host-government complicity through an offshoring strategy, and counterterrorism would be a non-starter.
And yet the Somalia success occurred, in an impermissive environment. On a conference call this morning, Col. Daniel Roper, the director of the Army-Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Center at Ft. Leavenworth, addressed the issue, prompted by Greg Grant from DODBuzz. In Roper’s view, counterterrorism is a prophylactic measure, a treatment of the symptom after the patient has fallen ill, while counterinsurgency addresses root-cause economic, social, legal and political failures that contribute to insurgency. Counterinsurgency is about “addressing political dynamics at the local level, through existing or adapting governance structures,” Roper said. “If we focus on the symptoms we’ll never solve the causes.”
It was impossible to divorce Afghanistan from its regional context, Roper continued, citing “profoundly transnational dynamics.” To discuss extremism in Afghanistan without discussing “the dynamics in Pakistan” was folly, and you “can’t have a coherent talk about the dynamics with Pakistan without [discussing] India” and other regional players. At the same time, Roper praised “increasingly successful attacks of drones that are killing militants, not civilians.”
So all of that regional talk is well-taken. But the fact remains that the Somalia strike succeeded. I asked Roper if there was some specific condition in Somalia that allowed Special Forces to acquire sufficient intelligence to execute the strike that doesn’t exist in Afghanistan or Pakistan. Roper was justifiably hesitant to speak to the Somalia raid before all the facts were in. “Within the borders of Afghanistan,” he continued, “there are places where [insurgents] are inaccessible, for whatever reason, collectively, either getting the intelligence we need to have sufficient confidence to conduct an operation or we may not have the resource to take advantage” of that intelligence. Counterinsurgency and counterterrorism are “not either/or, and you have to have an appropriate combination of raid-type activity … to complement some long-term dynamics that [will] ultimately enable us to be successful.”
Rep. Patrick McHenry: Please, Conservatives, Fill Out Your Census Forms!
The conservative congressman from North Carolina, a constant critic of the census -- one of the people who sounded the alarm about politicization when the
Rep. Paulsen allies with medical device industry to relax FDA oversight
Source: Flickr; Republicanconference (www.flickr.com/photos/republicanconference) On the heels of the Minnesota Independent story last week about U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen’s cozy financial relationship with the medical device industry, the New York Times reported Tuesday that some health professionals are alarmed by Paulsen’s push to relax Food and Drug Administration (FDA) oversight
Rep. Parker Griffith (R-Ala.)
One of the most conservative Democrats in the House -- a freshman who said he couldn’t support Nancy Pelosi again -- is going to switch over to the GOP. Josh
Rep. Paulsen touts balanced budget constitutional amendment
In a post for the conservative blog True North , U.S. Rep
Rep. Paulsen, Karl Rove the latest to get ‘glittered’
Rep. Erik Paulsen and former Bush staffer Karl Rove were both showered with glitter at the Midwest Leadership Conference Friday
Rep. Paul Ryan to deliver SOTU response
Chairman of the House Budget Committee Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) will deliver the Republican response to the State of the Union Tuesday, according to Mike Allen
Rep. Perlmutter criticizes House measure that would eliminate 800K federal jobs
Congressman Ed Perlmutter today issued a scathing statement criticizing the House of Representatives for passing a spending bill that could put nearly a million federal employees out of work. The Colorado delegation voted strictly on party lines, with all four Republicans voting in favor of the bill and the three Democrats voting in opposition. Perlmutter’s statement: “My number one priority is to get people back to work because that’s the best thing we can do to pay our debt and move forward toward economic stability
Rep. Perlmutter to hold constituent meet-up in grocery store
Colorado Congressman Ed Perlmutter will hold a Government in the Grocery constituent meet-up this evening from 5-7 at the Safeway at 38th and Wadsworth in Wheat Ridge. The address is 3900 Wadsworth. The meeting, where Perlmutter typically sits at a folding table and talks to whomever shows up, is free and open to the public
Rep. Peace, ACLU seek investigation of soldier’s allegations of racial discrimination in Afghanistan
Both Rep. Steve Pearce (R-NM) and the American Civil Liberties Union agree: There needs to be an investigation into Spc.
School of Hock
A growing number of college grads are defaulting on their student loans as the economy worsens.