"And, no, I don't think we disagree terribly, even accounting for your straw man- I never said that suicide bombers are motivated by money, Brother. Please don't put words in my mouth. I said that most FIGHTERS are bought men."
OK, I'll give you that one, if it's really bugging you, although I don't think it's too much of a stretch to consider a suicide bomber a fighter.
"Is that their only motivation? No, I don't think so- but they wouldn't be fighting and dying if it weren't for the money. And most of our resistance is just fighters (including IED technicians)."
No disagreement here at all. Soldiers everywhere get a paycheck. Money clearly has to be part of the equation, but without motivation I'd bet most of them would prefer to stay on the farm. The Taliban may not be upfront about the odds of coming back to the farm as opposed to buying it, but I think you'd have to agree that the word on that score is out by now.
"I spent an entire year in Paktika province, which is one of the more active fighting areas in the middle of Pashtunistan, and we had exactly ONE suicide bombing while I was there, though I admit that it was a doozey, involving a dumptruck that lew up a construction site and anti-Taliban madrassa. Oh, and precisely zero green-on-blue bincidents. Contrast this with innumerable incidents of small-arms fire and IED detonations. Suicide bombings are dramatic and get press, but aren't COMPARATIVELY common. Likewise, green-on-blue gets a lot of press because it is dramatic and is effective against us because it is essentially impossible to predict, prevent, or mitigate, and sows discord between us and our Afghan allies, but is also comparatively rare. (Note I keep saying "comparatively"- compared to direct action like SAF and IED, where you find all of these paid guys.) I still think that, were it not for the money most of these desperately poor people would not be fighting in any organized way and would be willing to just live in peace and tend their herds. But when 45% of the country lives on less than $1/day...
No disagreement here either. By their very nature, suicide bombings are destined to be a less commonly used tactic. But they are often devastatingly effective when they are used, as much for psychological reasons as the actual damage they cause. Similarly with green on blue, but you have to admit that the psychological impact is enormous, not just tactically, but strategically as well in that these attacks severely impact our ability to train and operate with the Afghan army and police with potentially dire consequences as we continue to draw down our forces.
"Come to think of it, the bombing of that moderate madrassa is an indication that even in Pashtunistan "everybody" isn't for the Taliban. Commander Z is another- he's a Paktika local and HATES the Taliban- it would be accurate to say that he's on an anti-Taliban crusade. (I treated him once, after a failed assassination attempt against him.) He's been very effective, too- he fights almost as dirty as the Taliban. Mind you, I'm not trying to say that the Pashtuns have a warm-fuzzy for us. I'm just maintaining that the situation is absolutely not a clear-cut as you seem to think that it is."
I don't think I ever said anywhere in our conversation that EVERYBODY is against us.
Not everybody has to be against us to mount a serious resistance. It is clear they have enough support to maintain a steady supply of fighters, which indicates there is also a substantial number of others providing food, shelter, and intelligence. How many of them do this out of conviction, for money, or under duress is almost beside the point. In any case, I doubt we'll ever really know the answer to that one. Beyond that, in a population riven by blood feuds at the family, clan, and tribal level going back centures in many cases, there is unlike to be unanimity on anything at all, let alone matters of war and peace. I am well aware of this, and that is why I doubt I ever said every Pashtun is against us. If you can point out where I did, I will humbly eat a large portion of crow in public.
"Also, you sort of shoot yourself in the foot by both resisting my "ignorance" theory AND trying to limit the discussion to the Pashtuns, because those Pashtun hillbillies are precisely the demographic of ignorance to which I refer. I'm not saying that they are stupid, mind you, just ignorant. I'm talking "they don't know that the Earth orbits the Sun" kind of ignorance. Elsewhere regarding ignorance you've said something like "maybe the peasants"- but 80% of the Afghan population ARE peasants- farmers or pastoralists. That's one hell of a demographic, Brother. (In honesty probably a bit less than the 80% I describe would really qualify as a peasant, since they are involved in more than subsistence, but still- even half of that would be a boatload.) Afghan farmers don't have M.B.A.s they way American farmers do. And I'd say that the percentage is even higher among the Pashtun hillbillies."
Again, IIRC, my only disagreement with you regarding ignorance had to do with the hilarious "man eating badger" anecdote. I know from personal experience that Iraqis as a whole are just not that ignorant or gullible. I don't doubt for a minute that rural Pashtuns are a pretty benighted lot, as is often the case in other parts of the world. There is even a fair amount of rural ignorance here in the good old US of A; witness the whole intelligent design uproar, Obama's a Muslim, etc. He!!, just take a trip down thru southern Appalachia. As long as that does judgment does not also extend to their intelligence as well, we don't have anything to argue about here.
"And are green-on-blue attacks done by men from Pakistan? Well, yes, a fair number of them. The "tweens" thing was a different example. (As is, for that matter, using mentally deficient children as suicide bombers.) Locals don't really recognize the border with Pakistan, so many cross to attend the Madrassas, then come back to commit mayhem after their minds have been set right."
Sure, Pakistan has long been a rear area for the Taliban and other factions. Pashtuns have never recognized the border, the infamous Durand Line. As long as you are not saying that all of them have crossed the border and been indoctrinated in a madrassa, we have no argument.
"And if you think that there is any sort of rigorous screening process for the Afghan military and paramilitary establishment you're mistaken. Nonetheless the vast, vast majority of the 200,000 ANA soldiers were at least willing to bear arms against the Taliban, albeit unrelaibly."
I never said it was rigorous, merely effective enough to eliminate a fuzzy faced tweener from consideration. As for bearing arms, the paycheck definitely comes into
my mind here. As I understand it, the rate of desertion and drug use among the Afghan Army and Police is extremely high, so the unreliability does not surprise me in the slightest, not to mention their effectiveness when they do bother to show up.
This plus the impact of the green and blue attacks does not portend a rosy future for our excellent adventure in the Graveyard of Empires, IMO
"And, yes, the money ultimately comes from SA, Qatar, etc. but that's like saying that the Red Cross doesn't provide humanitarian aid, but rather the U.S. and other western countries do so THROUGH the Red Cross. Ultimately, that money gets disbursed by al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and other extremist organizations."
True enough. I just threw that in to highlight the irony of our alliances with those countries. I also forgot to mention another reenue stream for the Taliban which does not depend on foreign sources: heroin. Nasty business all around. The sooner we're out of there the better, IMO.
I hope all this doesn't aggravate the shivers. If it does, a doc friend of mine highly recommends 500 ml of your microbrew of choice, administered orally at 1/2 hour intervals until the symptoms subside. ;)