The following excerpt is from the essay PARALLELS WITH THE PAST — How the Soviets Lost in Afghanistan, How the Americans are Losing by Larry Goodson, Professor of Middle East Studies at the U.S. Army War College, Carlisle, PA, and Thomas H Johnson, Research Professor in the Department of National Security, Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, CA, provided by the Foreign Policy Research Institute on its website at in April 2011.  It is a condensed version of an article that will appear in the Fall 2011 issue of Orbis, FPRI’s quarterly journal of world affairs.

Much of the failure of the reconciliation (as well as negotiation) policies are because the Taliban insurgency is best defined as an insurgency wrapped in the narrative of jihad.  History would suggest that secular insurgents negotiate, jihadists do not.  Rather, the Taliban that matter most within the movement are jihadists with perceived intense religious obligations (for instance, Mullah Omar, the Amir ul-Momineen, or Leader of the Faithful).  “Peeling” such individuals away from the Taliban is virtually impossible because they believe they are following the mandates of a higher calling.  Indeed, history suggests that no jihad  has ever ended with a negotiated settlement or via reconciliation.  Additionally, negotiation is not a tactic of the strong in Afghanistan, so when a government struggling with a resilient insurgency announces reconciliation and negotiation efforts as a centerpiece of its strategy, most Afghans figure the government is losing.  Why would the Taliban, emboldened in the belief that they are on the verge of victory (after all, the United States announced that it would begin to withdraw in July 2011), want to negotiate or reconcile?  Nevertheless, the notion of political settlements and diplomatic negotiations is difficult for Washington to dismiss even when political and cultural realities make them unrealistic because such strategies are so ingrained in the American diplomatic psyche.

 The predicament presented in that Afghan Jihad paragraph cannot be resolved without engaging in Warfare in the Sixth Domain: IDEOSPACE — that is, engaging in IDEOWAR — as set forth on website MELOS at

Without prosecuting IDEOWAR — by means of NGOs with no discernible ties to the U.S. government — the United States and its coalition are inexorably doomed to defeat in Afghanistan.


%d bloggers like this: