Month: June 2009

Sisyphus, Sean Naylor and C-SPAN

By Steven Pressfield | 4 Comments

First, many thanks to all correspondents and contributors for the tremendous and very thoughtful response  to the previous post, “A Tale of Two Captains.” More to come in a couple of days about Capt. Harrison’s work, including an update dispatch from him in Konar. But first, here’s a strikingly apt flashback to 2006—when Army Times journalist (and author of the excellent Not A Good Day To Die)  Sean Naylor and I did an interview together for C-SPAN’s “BookTV.” The topic was “The War in Afghanistan.”

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Part Two: The Tribesman in All of Us

By Steven Pressfield | 4 Comments

One of the acts that tribes frequently practice is ritual scarification. Tattoos, circumcision, mutilation of the flesh. The purpose is to draw a line between who’s a member of the tribe and who isn’t. This is Us … this is Not Us. Non-hereditary tribes–criminal organizations, elite military units, certain religious or social orders–often have initiations. The candidate undergoes an ordeal. Sometimes he’s obligated to break the law or commit some act that severs him permanently from the larger society. The initiation says, “The line has been crossed, there’s no going back.” Again the purpose is to define who is One…

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The Tribesman In All Of Us

By Steven Pressfield | 4 Comments

I was in Frankfurt a couple of summers ago and there was a young man at the hotel named Kaitet Olla Kishau. He was a Masai from Kenya. Kaitet is a big, tall, good-looking guy; he speaks English and German; he’s married to a European lady; he’s a writer and filmmaker. He also goes home to Masai Land two or three times a year, or whenever his father gets word to him that he’s needed. Kaitet dons the robes, tends the cattle, lives the full-on Masai life. He says he feels sorry for his European friends, who don’t have the…

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Lawrence of Arabia on Tribes

By Steven Pressfield | 1 Comment

I like very much Gen. McChrystal’s idea for a new Pakistan Afghanistan Coordination Cell (cited in Max Boot’s article yesterday in the Wall Street Journal). This entity would be an ongoing “corps of roughly 400 officers who will spend years working on Afghanistan,” even when they are not actually in-country.

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Summing Up: Our First Week and What We’ve Been Talking About

By Steven Pressfield | 1 Comment

This blog has been up now for a little more than a week. Many thanks to all who have contributed comments–and to all who will do so in the coming weeks. Now seems as good a time as any to pause for breath and ask, “What have we been trying to say here? What exactly is the thesis of these videos?”

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“How to Win”: Further Thoughts on Video #5

By Steven Pressfield | 3 Comments

Today marks the release of the final video in the “It’s the Tribes, Stupid” series.  Believe me, I’m aware of the presumption of titling any discourse, “How to Win in Afghanistan. ”  Even Alexander the Great would balk at treading that ground.  So, as I say in the video, the thoughts therein are offered not with presumption but, as Rod Serling used to say on the old Twilight Zone show, “submitted for your approval.” That said, I’d like to stick a toe into those waters by touching on a recent (last week) excellent white paper from the Center for a…

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Ronfeldt Redux

By Steven Pressfield | Comments Off on Ronfeldt Redux

I blew it on Wednesday, posting this extremely interesting article by David Ronfeldt of the Rand Corporation so late in the day that it was only “onscreen” for a few hours before being shuffled downpage into the archives.  So here’s a re-post that I’ll leave up in the featured position all weekend.  The piece ran originally as an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times on December 12, 2004.  It’s terrific. On Monday I want to share a brand-new (June ’09) White Paper from the Center For A New American Security titled, “Triage: The Next Twelve Months in Afghanistan and Pakistan.”…

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How We Got There: A Short Bibliography

By Steven Pressfield | 4 Comments

Below is a terrific mini-bibliography from guest blogger Jeremy Ward that takes us back to the genesis of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan. In 2001, in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, an extremely lean contingent of American forces–mostly CIA, SF and other special operators and intelligence specialists, backed up by U.S. air power–made their way into the country and hooked up with the indigenous forces that became known as the Northern Alliance.  Seems like a long time ago, doesn’t it?  The object was to destroy the Taliban as payback for their harboring Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda and permitting him to…

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From somebody REALLY smart

By Steven Pressfield | 2 Comments

The following is an op-ed piece by David Ronfeldt, a senior political scientist at the Rand Corporation.  I’m a big fan of his work and will be citing more of it here in the future. Mr. Ronfeldt has given permission to reprint this article in its entirety.  Thanks, David! 21st Century Tribes

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Sez Who? How This Thesis Came About

By Steven Pressfield | 1 Comment

Yesterday we talked about the idea that the real enemy in AfPak today is not militant Islam or jihadism or terrorism. It’s tribalism and the tribal mindset. Now: how did this thesis evolve? What’s the source? Upon what authority do I put this idea forward?

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