On Tribalism

Gifts of Honor: A Tale of Two Captains

By Steven Pressfield | 0 Comments

[Friends, with apologies, a stomach virus has laid the blog low.  Here’s a re-run of a post that has been a reader favorite. We’ll be back on Wednesday!]

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Mea Culpa: Coming Attractions coming a little late

By Steven Pressfield | 1 Comment

They say that every enterprise, from D-Day to a kitchen remodel, takes three times as long as you think and costs three times as much. I must apologize: our two new series have run afoul of this same syndrome. Here’s the latest:

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Knowing When to Stop, or Learning How to Win?

By Steven Pressfield | 8 Comments

A guest blog by Michael Brandon McClellan [Mike McClellan is a graduate of Yale and Georgetown Law and a Lincoln Fellow at the Claremont Institute. His articles on politics and foreign policy have appeared in the WSJ, the Weekly Standard and on TCS Daily.  It’s our pleasure to welcome him as a contributor.]

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Previews of Coming Attractions

By Steven Pressfield | 5 Comments

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.

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In Defense of Hamid Karzai

By Steven Pressfield | 4 Comments

Discussion of the problems created by tribalism in Afghanistan often provokes from our own compatriots such outraged responses as, “Hey, who are we Americans to talk? We have our share of tribes too!” There’s no arguing with that. Here at home we’ve got the Bible-thumping cracker tribe, the latte-sipping liberal tribe and dozens more, all of which have to be catered to by the political process. To me though, the most useful American parallel to Afghan tribalism goes back to 1491—before the first European sail appeared off these virgin shores. Tribal America

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Tribes, the Taliban and the Death of Baitullah Mahsud

By Steven Pressfield | 1 Comment

I was very interested last week to see what would happen, in terms of leadership succession among the Pakistani Taliban, after the reputed death of Baitullah Mahsud. According to scores of press reports as well as Pakistani and Taliban spokesmen, the immediate aftermath was a shootout involving two rival successors, Hakimullah Mahsud and Wali ur-Rehman, that resulted in the death of Hakimullah Mahsud. Within two days however, Hakimullah was phoning in, according to the Economic Times, declaring not only that he was still alive but that so was Baitullah–and that the world would be hearing from both very shortly. This…

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Lessons From Ramadi: A Guest Post from Captain Thomas Daly

By Steven Pressfield | 14 Comments
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Tribes in Afghanistan: A Guest Post from Michael Yon

By Steven Pressfield | 5 Comments

The following is a guest post from Michael Yon, which we’re really privileged to get and which I’m delighted to share. As I type this, Michael is reporting from Sangin, Helmand Province, Afghanistan. Check out Michael Yon Online Magazine to read his reports. Michael is a former Green Beret, who has reported from Iraq and Afghanistan since December 2004. No other reporter has spent as much time with combat troops in these two wars. It is also important to note that Michael is an independent combat journalist—unaffiliated with any other news organization—and among the best of this generation of reporters.

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The Bizarro World of COIN in a Tribal Setting

By Steven Pressfield | 10 Comments

Remember the Bizarro World, from Seinfeld and Superman comics? Everything is its opposite in the Bizarro World. Up is down, black is white, in is out. Students of Counterinsurgency (COIN) and Tribal Engagement tell us it’s the same in their field. Who would have thought, for example, that killing bad guys would be a no-no? Or that a good old-fashioned grease-the-palm payoff would prove as effective as “winning hearts and minds?”

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How Tribes Measure Their Own Strength

By Steven Pressfield | 8 Comments

  In the videos (and posts) on this site, we’ve talked about the characteristics of tribes and the tribal mindset. Among these are respect for elders, hostility to outsiders, the obligation of revenge, a code of honor rather than a system of laws, hospitality, capacity to endure hardship and the suppression of women. These qualities appear to be universal, or nearly so, across all continents during all periods of history. They seem to hold true for Native Americans, Africans and Amazonians, ancient Celts and Gauls, Scottish highlanders and the savage tribes that fought Alexander, Cyrus and Xenophon.

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