by Austin Bay
July 6, 2010
The Taliban's commanders know stability and wealth are their
enemies. Last week's suicide bomber attack on a U.S. Agency for International
Development (USAID) office in Kabul is another act of terrorist symbolism and a
calculated operation in the Taliban's "counter-counter-insurgency"
That attack, however, is also a sign of terrorist fear.
Stability and wealth secure peace -- which makes them the allies of the United
States and everyone else in the constructive world.
It is reminiscent of the Aug. 19, 2003, terror bombing of
U.N. headquarters in Baghdad. By destroying the U.N. building in Iraq, al-Qaida
and Saddam Hussein's ancient regime sought to force a withdrawal of U.N.
personnel. This would achieve two goals. Even if manned by a small staff, a
U.N. office served as a political symbol of international involvement in the
process of creating a post-Saddam Iraq. A U.N. withdrawal perceptually isolates
the U.S. and anti-Saddam, pro-democracy Iraqis.
The second goal was to make certain U.N.-associated
international aid and development teams -- some governmental, some private --
left, as well. A liberalizing, productive economy threatens terrorists and
tyrants. Al-Qaida depends on chaos, poverty and hopelessness to advance its
extremist ideology: See, nothing works, so accept our harsh theology and
political domination and at least you'll be right with God.
Saddam and his cohorts lived to steal, but his tyrannical
game was to keep Iraqis dependent on him. Saddam's regime damaged Iraq's
agricultural sector with a purpose: Shia Arab farmers growing their own food
represented a threat to his control. Better the people depend on a monthly food
ration provided by The Big Man. Don't cross him, or your family will starve.
Both al-Qaida's and Saddam's economic and political policies
contrast sharply with what USAID describes as its "twofold purpose of
furthering America's foreign policy interests in expanding democracy and free
markets while improving the lives of the citizens of the developing
USAID has roots in the post-World War II Marshal Plan, the
economic and political effort to bolster Western Europe and defend it from
domination by Stalinist Russia. The Truman administration knew guns were only
one weapon in that geopolitical conflict. Strengthening democratic governance
and fostering economic development were absolutely central to winning that
long, debilitating struggle we call the Cold War.
Military-security operations protected these time-consuming
processes. Rock and roll and blue jeans, protected by U.S. Army in Europe, won
the Cold War. That is icon lingo for saying U.S. cultural attractiveness and
economic productivity (rock and roll and blue jeans), complemented by a
sustained and powerful military effort, ultimately contained and defeated the
Soviet Union. This is multidimensional warfare.
Gen. David Petraeus, America's new Afghan commander, is
thoroughly schooled on multidimensional warfare and understands economic
development's essential role in winning the long, debilitating struggle dubbed
the Global War on Terror. OK, the Obama administration insists on calling it an
"overseas contingency operation," but 18 months deep into The Age of
Obama, all but the most benumbed Obamaites recognize the phrase as
In his contentious April 2008 testimony before Congress,
Petreaus briefly referred to a chart titled "Anaconda Strategy versus
al-Qaida in Iraq." The Anaconda Chart was a complex graphic that depicting
the U.S. strategy for winning Iraq's intricate, multidimensional war.
It identified six lines of attack on al-Qaida: 1) Kinetics
(which includes combat); 2) Politics (Iraqi political reconciliation was key);
3) Intelligence; 4) Detainee Ops (which includes counter-insurgency in
detention facilities); 5) Non-Kinetics (education, jobs programs); and 6)
Interagency. The "Interagency" line of operation included diplomacy
and media operations. "Squeezing" al-Qaida in all dimensions was the
big idea guiding Anaconda.
Afghanistan differs from Iraq. The U.S. has pursued a
comprehensive, multidimensional strategy in Afghanistan, but trust Petraeus
will vigorously pursue and energize Afghan Anaconda. Creating stability and
wealth, however, takes time. President Barack Obama will have to exercise a
skill he has yet to demonstrate: strategic patience.