By Steven Pressfield | Published: September 7, 2009
Three items will be coming up this week (and in the following weeks) in this space that I think will be extremely interesting and provocative. I can say that with confidence because none of them will be coming from me.
First, in the next day or two, we’ll post a response from Michael McClellan to George Will‘s recent “This Week” comments and Washington Post column. Mike is an extremely thoughtful and articulate young lawyer and Lincoln Fellow at the Claremont Institute. I don’t know what he’ll say but I’m really looking forward to seeing it.
Second, I’m very excited to use this space as a platform for a white paper titled “One Tribe At A Time — A Strategy for Success in Afghanistan” by Special Forces Major Jim Gant. If you’ve followed this blog, you’ve seen Maj. Gant’s name a number of times. He’s an ODA team leader, recipient of the Silver Star, with three combat tours in Iraq and two in Afghanistan–on his way back for a fourth tour in Iraq in about a month.
Major Gant is not a pundit or a think-tanker; he’s a warrior whose points of view derive from time on the ground, in the villages and under fire, and whose ideas come from real experience that has really worked. In a nutshell his thesis is that, if the U.S. hopes to succeed in Afghanistan, it must work with the tribes. There’s no other way. The good news is that he believes this can be done–in a light-footprint way, without massive additional troop deployments and without egregious casualty counts (though it will take specially-trained, motivated and supported Tribal Engagement Teams). In his paper, Major Gant lays out the specifics for how he believes this can be done. What makes his recommendations carry weight, in my view, is that he is speaking from real-world experience. The course he proposes, he and his team have lived out. It has worked. Whether you agree or not, this is going to be fascinating reading.
Third, I’m hoping to provide a forum for an Afghan tribal chief, just elected to the paramountcy of eleven tribes in his home valley. This gentleman (who I won’t name for the moment, out of respect for him, and also because this announcement may be a bit premature) is knowledgeable in a way that no Westerner can be and is extremely articulate and passionate in championing the tribal cause in Afghanistan. He has survived two attempts on his life–and that’s the least of his personal story.
Like Major Gant, the chief believes that the tribes are the only avenue by which Afghanistan can truly achieve stability, autonomy and evolve to a state from which the forces of global jihad can be neutralized or eliminated. He has very specific ideas and propositions and he too has lived them out in the real world.
I’m hoping to run a number of stories on these issues, primarily in the words of these individuals. One thing they have in common is a belief that it would be a mistake for the U.S. to disengage from Afghanistan at this time. What is needed, they say, is not so much more American involvement as smarter involvement.
I don’t know specifically what any of these gentlemen are going to say, but I’m sure it’s going to make for some really interesting debate.