Merchant of Death
Money, Guns, Planes, and the Man Who Makes War Possible

Blood from Stones

Visit Douglas Farah's
author page at

Press Releases

Some Straight Talk on Afghanistan and an Interesting Arrest in Texas
Two very pessimistic reports on the combat situation in Afghanistan point to the fundamental risk there of failure, a risk that is also very high in Somalia, where the same mistakes are being repeated by the United States, the local government and the international community.

The danger in Somalia is borne out by the Texas arrest of U.S. citizen who was trained in Somalia and acknowledges spending time with al Qaeda operatives there, according to an FBI affidavit. Along with numerous Europeans and other Africans, Daniel Maldanado went to Somalia to fight for a true Islamic republic, the affidavit says.

Two things are distressing about the bleak assessments, although they are welcome for their uncharacteristic candor. The first is that the lessons of Afghanistan appear to have not been assimilated at all in the policy community.

That is, the lessons of the first Afghanistan fiasco, when, following the Soviet retreat, little attention was paid to developments there.

The resulting Taliban triumph within a few years, and the rise of the radical _salafist_ theology that seeks to obliterate us, should have been as much of prod to learn lessons as there can be. Yet, despite the loss of blood and treasure there since 9-11, virtually nothing appears to have been learned. And that is indeed tragic.

The second is that, unable to assimilate those lessons in the most urgent of times, there is little learning that can be applied to situations like Somalia. In other words, we are, as we currently sit, as vulnerable or more than we were prior to 9-11 from those non-state actors operating in stateless areas, failed states and criminal states.

First, Army Lt. Gen. Karl W. Eikenberry warned of the entrenched Taliban network in Pakistan, with renewed command and control capabilities, under the protection of Pakistani security forces.

He also warned in stark terms that the Karzai government is faced with the strong possibility of an irreversible loss of legitimacy, one that will give the Taliban the opening it craves to return to power.

This came as the Canadian senate issued a gloomy report on the NATO mission in Afghanistan, warning that the mission will fail unless significantly more resources are dedicated to the struggle there.

It is clear in Afghanistan that the coalition forces won the military war and set the stage for the civilians to follow suit in the political and psychological wars that would inevitably follow. In Somalia, the Ethiopians, at great cost and some risk, removed the Union of Islamic Courts, setting the stage for similar follow-up.

In both cases the civilian governments have failed miserably. But our policy has reflected no anticipation of events that were not difficult to anticipate. The constant short-term tradeoffs in Afghanistan with the warlords, the unwillingness to confront Pakistan over the entrenched Islamist presence in the territories, the inability come up with mechanisms to induce the interim Somali government to form a truly broad-based, national government, have all undermined the chances for long-term success.

The problem is that these regions are a direct threat to us, and reversing these reversals will cost human lives, perhaps many of them. These will be primarily of the troops who will have to be dispatched again to stabilize the situation, and perhaps those of our citizens and allies here and abroad who will suffer from the attacks that will be launched from there.

They will be launched. But we will likely have learned little.

The Islamist Media Campaign Kicks Into High Gear
The More Things Change...
Maintained by Winter Tree Media, LLC