When in Rome

Afghanistan isn’t a real country, and never has been. It’s simply a place on the map where other nations aren’t, filled up with various nationalities, tribes, and sub-tribes.


Whoever was in charge in Kabul was usually considered the recognized government, but if his writ extended beyond the capital and his own tribal area, it was usually through a combination of bribes and threats. And, occassionally — as in the Soviet and American invastions — with outside assistance. As a rule, however, the local warlords ruled locally, no matter what Kabul said.

Now we learn that some of Afghanistan’s warlords are. . . American soldiers:

Using techniques developed and used with great success as far back as World War II, Special Forces A Teams are operating in remote Afghan valleys, and forming their own small armies by hiring local Afghans to help catch any Taliban or al Qaeda who might come through. U.S. troops have hired armed Afghans in the past, but from local warlords. This did not work too well. The warlord who supplied the troops had their own agendas. This included not getting any of their lads killed, and being open to bribery from the opposition. All of this is considered traditional in the Afghan scheme of things. A warlord becomes a warlord by having enough money to pay troops, some way to raise more money to keep paying them, and enough battlefield sense to keep down friendly casualties. Any warlord who misses too many payrolls, or gets too many of his guys killed, finds that no one wants to follow him anymore. A warlord without gunmen is no longer a warlord.

The Special Forces understand all this, and now they are, well, behaving like warlords. Special Forces troops have been establishing contacts throughout the southeastern Afghan border area over the last two years. So when a dozen Special Forces troops show up with guns and money, they are not treated as enemies.


Read the whole thing.


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