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Afghanistan Lost

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Do I sound like Harry Reid? The Nevada Senator referred to the Iraq war as lost during the debate on President Bush's surge in Iraq. Unlike Harry Reid and his exercise in wishful thinking, I have no desire to see the U.S. fail in Afghanistan. I believe failure there would mean someday we would have to return and pacify that country all over again. Also, unlike Harry Reid I do not wish the Obama Administration to take the wrong course in this war. I have made my thoughts plain as to what I felt was the right way: an increased force size backed by a larger U.S. Army with no timetable so our enemies could not plan around our thrust. Also, unlike Harry Reid, I believe we have chosen to lose this war, not been defeated on the battlefield.

It's been a little over two weeks since current President Obama visited Afghanistan in drive-thru fashion. Following the usual Obama lecture and a few pictures, he was gone. Sadly the few photos and the brief discussion of this vital issue quickly disappeared in the next issue du jour and then the next. First, came a phony off-shore drilling proposal, followed by an appeasement arms control deal with Russia and finally, a Potemkin village dressed up as nuclear security summit. These were calculated gimmicks all. Transitory fluff aimed at obscuring a train wreck in progress.

Bill Clinton and Dick Morris pioneered the issue of the day mode of operation back in the nineties. The big difference is that the Clinton issues were minor and at worst, guilty of the usual left wing condescension and time wasting. School uniforms springs to mind. With Obama, the ante has been upped. Minor distractions no longer suffice. If the issues that distract America from a war she will lose, be large and complex, then so much the better. It does not matter in Obama's mind that America has stripped itself of missile defense or that foreign energy dependence is disguised or that banter about Chile replaces confronting Iran. All that matters is that a war that will be lost in two years time is given a quick push to the side. Then we're off to the next propaganda item.

Make no mistake this war is not being lost by the troops. Even now, U.S. troops and allies have made large strides in controlling former hot spots, but this is for naught. President Obama has declared that the United States will give up, turn tail and run and leave our Afghan allies twisting in the wind in two years. It's no wonder that Afghan President Hamid Karzai is talking about joining the Taliban. In two years, Kabul will be back under Taliban control. Obama will try to time the withdrawal near the 2012 election. This may work politically, but after the election, Mullah Omar and his pal Usama Bin Laden will be back in their old haunts. This will obviously be a large complex problem for Obama's second term (provided he lies well enough to get one) but he won't really care. He'll never face the voters again.

Am I too cynical?(perish the thought!) Take the example of sainted FDR and the Invasion of North Africa in 1942 during World War II. Lagging in the polls, FDR urged the generals to invade before the November Congressional elections. The generals informed the Democratic president that they weren't ready to invade. Lacking a positive event to spin, FDR and the Democrats watched as the Republicans made hefty gains in the Congressional elections. Trading lives for spin isn't new, but usually those who do have done so tend to have been Nazis or Communists, i.e. the political extremists.

Nowadays, Obama is often called a Communist/Marxist for his economic policies. By touting "social justice" and telling people what's "fair" he seeks to level society swiping from one class and giving to another, creating a group dependent on his stolen handouts. This fairly straightforward communist money grab has been widely commented on. Obama has reacted like a brazen hussy caught in a cat house by in effect saying "Who me a commie?" I'll let others fry the chief executives fish regarding the "share the wealth" con. My concern here is for the men and women who fight a war in Afghanistan that Obama has already thrown in the towel. Coincidentally or not, here too Obama is following a communist game plan. Remember who the last invader of Afghanistan was?

About Mr Dock Ellis

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Dock Ellis,

    I found this article far more interesting than Jon Sobel’s attempt to burnish up the miserable Obama foreign policy record. He sounded like he was off in DNC fantasy land somewhere, a sweet and happy place where Obama wears a top hap, twirls a cane and sings “The Candy Man”.

    At least you got a few things straight.

    There is much one can say to this article, but to begin with, one should commend you to the first Sherlock Holmes novel A Study in Scarlet, and refer you to the comments about the Jezail bullet that is the reason for Dr. John Watson to be retired from military life and lounge about that “cesspool of empire”, London.

    The Pastun, the báni yisraíl who inhabit Afhanistan and Pakistan have been kicking white men’s asses for millenia, starting with Alexander the Great.

    Also, I suggest you get the players straight in the tragedy that is the war in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    I had a lot more to say in a previous comment that my computer accidentally swallowed up, but I wanted to keep it short, sweet and simple – and not lose anything! Therefore, I also commend you to this blogsite, Pakistan’s Balkanisation, for a view of the region that is very different from what you are used to seeing.

  • cannonshop

    Good article Dock, you gotta remember something though-the Left has been hungering for another Vietnam scenario ever since the last one, and now they have the chance to make that fantasy come to life again.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    Cannon, don’t be ridiculous.

    Unless you can point us to a series of quotes from left-leaning figures, made at intervals over the last 35 years, which say anything of the kind, I call bullshit.

  • John Wilson

    This article sounds just like the ones we were reading in the rightist press 40 years ago about Vietnam and home politics.

  • zingzing

    “the Left has been hungering for another Vietnam scenario ever since the last one”

    oh, god yeah. that first one was so fucking great. we really enjoyed it. you see how we flocked to it? how we said, “please, please go to war.” we waited until after the war started to start protesting of course. didn’t want to ruin the chances we had for a fresh war. always such a boon to our economy and young people. they can go kill and be killed. win-win! but not a peep before the war, of course. didn’t see anyone marching on malls or leading 6-hour long protests a few feet from the congress. none of that. wouldn’t want to scare you off from giving us our new vietnam.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Cannonshop,

    In Israel, I have met many Russians who now live here, and they discussed their experiences as soldiers in Afghanistan. And guess what they compared it to? Can you take a guess? It starts with a “v”. A hint – it ain’t Vladivostok.

    Actually, while Vietnam comes to mind, the issue here is that Americans (as usual) do not know or understand the history of the players in Afghanistan (or Pakistan) at all. I admit to a similar ignorance. From 2001 to 2006, I really didn’t give a rat’s ass. But in 2006 I met this Pathán fellow from India who started telling me about his distant relatives, the Afridi who guard the Khyber Pass – and who have done so for millennia.

    The Afridi are descendants of the Tribe of Ephraim who were exiled from the Land of Israel by the Assyrians 2,730 years ago. Other Pashtun tribes are also descended from the “Lost Tribes” of my people. So, you may have figured out that now I do give more than just a “rat’s ass” when an American helicopter kills 20 odd Pashtun celebrating a wedding or something, or when American drones go killing Pashtun in Pakistan. I suggest you go to the website I mentioned in comment #2 for a different, a Pashtun, point of view as to what is going on in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    I stopped paying attention to the rest of this article when I got to

    This fairly straightforward communist money grab … Obama has reacted like a brazen hussy caught in a cat house by in effect saying “Who me a commie?”

    No one who wrote that is likely to know very much about the US, the world, the current president, previous presidents, or anything else of consequence. More extremist know-nothing nonsense.

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    they discussed their experiences as soldiers in Afghanistan. And guess what they compared it to? Can you take a guess? It starts with a “v”

    Vodka shortages?

  • Baronius

    Dock, how is the Afghanistan pullout any different from Bush’s scheduled withdrawl of the surge forces?

  • zingzing

    “And guess what they compared it to? Can you take a guess? It starts with a “v”…”

    my god. perverse.

  • http://etierphotography.blogspot.com/ FCEtier

    Dock,
    Is there a reason you left out the part about Charlie Wilson?

  • Deano

    I think you need to be cautious in comparing the Russian experience in Afganistan to the current situation as there are considerable differences. The Russians were considerably more indiscrimate in both tactics and approaches. The US has far more flexibility and a much lower “footprint”.

    A similar level of caution is required in declaring either victory or defeat without defining what it is you want to gain from your strategy.

    Afghanistan is not stable and is unlikely to be stable anytime soon. The ability of any foreign power to impose a stable, cohesive and encompassing level of governance over the country is limited at best – partially due to geography, partially due to tribalism and ethnocentrism and partially due to political, religious and ethnic divergence.

    The primary goal of the west is to restore a central authority within the country that is not driven by ideological and religious extremism, and has the capacity and ability to prevent Al Quaeda and similar groups from establishing safe havens and staging areas within the country and using it to export terror. That’s really all you want to get or need, to expect more is to fall victim to an illusion.

    I don’t think anyone is expecting a mass outbreak of Jeffersonian democracy. A sembalance of some legitimate governance, probably corrupt, but with the ability to broker deals with the local tribal warlords, trade favours, build limited stability and encourage development. That may happen with Karzai (although that looks more and more unlikely) or it may happen with a hodge-podge collection of provincial governers and warlords and even some of the more moderate Taliban factions. Bear in mind Afghanistan has never had a strong, centralized authority – it has always been a balance between the control of the markets and trade routes, bribes to the tribes in the passes and a fragmented, wholely local political mien.

    A makeshift stability can only happen if the COIN strategy is effectively managed, Taliban access to funding through the drug trade is restricted and some level of security can be maintained. Building economic opportunity is an effective weapon that can help strip the Taliban of many potential recruits but it needs to go hand in hand with the other strategies and cannot fall back into the reflexive “bomb ‘em” approach that has hitherto typified much of the security strategy in the country.

    In any case, it is not a situation that is likely to be doable in anything less than five years – it will take that long to broker the deals, train the military and develop the infrastructure effectively.

    It is potentially winnable. If.

  • mrdockellis

    Wisest comment is obviously the last by Deano. If winning is the goal then it’s years. You say five. I’d say ten. Anyway you slice it, it’s a long tricky slog, building up brand new institutions and fighting simultaneously.

    OK now the run down,
    Ruvy,

    I’m glad you brought up Alexander the Great. Actually he’s only guy to conquer Afghanistan. Know how? He married the Kings daughter. Problem solved.

    Cannonshop,
    Not sure the left is searching for another Vietnam since it destroyed their big progressive hero LBJ. Another might do the same to Obama.

    Handyguy,
    You can close your eyes to the truth, but sooner or later you’ll walk into a wall. Get ready for your ouch moment this November.

    Baronius,
    It’s pretty simple. We win then troops go home. Obama says in Afghanistan troops go home next year regardless. He could stretch it out, but other major powers are leaving next year or sooner. It looks to become a rush to the exit in the next one to two years.

    FCEtier,
    Democrat Charlie Wilson pushed the U.S. Government to step up supply to the jihadists. “an alcoholic former naval officer, who was sometimes accompanied by young models- including a former Miss World USA winner- when he flew on government paid junkets, some of them inside Afghanistan.” -pg160
    Ask and ye shall recieve

  • Jordan Richardson

    The biggest mistake here is in thinking that wars are actually “won.” The only “victory” is in not dying.

  • cannonshop

    Lemme clarify my last post a bit…

    The anti-war movement was the single biggest builder of the power of the American left, it motivated a massive body of people, and shifted the national culture to the left in this country-enough power, in fact that it made it legitimate to bail on treaty obligations and abandon an ally to invasion and conquest three years after U.S. ground involvement officially ended.

    The American Left has been desperate for that kind of ‘recharging’ ever since-the comparisons to Vietnam every time the U.S. took military action (with the exception of hte nineties and the former Yugoslavia), Dorgan calling for a reinstatement of the Draft, accusations that the Draft WOULD be reinstated, and even the rhetoric this time around are recycled from, or inspired by, the rhetoric surrounding the Southeast Asian conflict of the 1960′s. The natural outcome, of course, is that now that the Left has won, we will see a re-playing of the fall of Saigon shortly after the U.S. pulls out of Afghanistan, and a re-playing of Year Zero when we finish pulling out of Afghanistan.

  • cannonshop

    #15 Dunno about that, Jordan, I’d suggest you ask the H’mong refugees, or the three million or so Vietnamese that fled the fall of Saigon, or just visit the American War Crimes museum in Ho Chi Minh City. Seems to me there was a winner in that war…

  • Jordan Richardson

    Seems to me there was a winner in that war…

    Yeah, the people who didn’t die “won.”

    Wars aren’t competitions or sporting events. They are costly behaviours based on our desires to dominate others. It’s hard to see the victory in that, no matter what “side” you find yourself on. The only real “victory,” I maintain, is making it home.

  • Cannonshop

    No, you’re right, they’re not competitions or sporting events, they’re one group of people imposing their will, by force, on another, and that other resisting that imposition. War is the ultimate failure of diplomacy, and the ultimate outcome of Politics-as-usual.

    It’s also not going away any time soon, and like it or not, once blood is spilled, it’s something you can’t just say “This Sucks” and walk off in total safety, because War is a contest of WILLS- and displaying weakness invites it. It’s a bit like wandering out in the bad part of town, picking a fight, then running away-if you don’t win the fight, they’re going to chase you down and kill you, or hurt you, or do other things to you which you do NOT want to experience.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    I see finally, how the Americans lost in Vietnam. At first it was sheer ignorance of the politics of the place. But with time, Americans had plenty of data on how to distinguish one Asian from another, and to learn to respect the historical divisions in Indochina that motivated the different peoples living there the way they did.

    You’ve had 9 years to attempt to learn who is who in Afghanistan. The closest we get to this on your parts on this comment thread is this statement from Deano:

    “I don’t think anyone is expecting a mass outbreak of Jeffersonian democracy. A semblance of some legitimate governance, probably corrupt, but with the ability to broker deals with the local tribal warlords, trade favors, build limited stability and encourage development. That may happen with Karzai (although that looks more and more unlikely) or it may happen with a hodge-podge collection of provincial governors and warlords and even some of the more moderate Taliban factions. Bear in mind Afghanistan has never had a strong, centralized authority – it has always been a balance between the control of the markets and trade routes, bribes to the tribes in the passes and a fragmented, wholly local political mien.”

    America lost in Vietnam because they refused to look the politics in the area in the face from the point of view of those who had to live there. That’s a nice way of saying they never took their heads out of their own assholes. I see the same tendency on this comment thread. I linked you to two Pashtun people, one an Indian scholar, and the other a Pakistani born journalist. You appear to have looked a the work of neither man. You, like your predecessors in Vietnam, refuse to look at this from the point of view of those who have to live in the theatre of combat!

    You have learned absolutely nothing in the 35 years since the Vietcong kicked you out of Saigon. And your leaders are no better than you are. You will lose in Afghanistan, and you will be humiliated there; and you will deserve both the loss, and the humiliation.

  • Cannonshop

    Expanding on that a teensy bit…

    In 1989, Iraq invaded Kuwait, the U.S. then spent two years fighting Iraq. Because we didn’t finish the job, we ended up having to go back INTO Iraq more than a decade later, because the ‘sanctions’ weren’t working, they were, in fact, being actively sabotaged by our supposed ‘allies’ including the European Powers whose fuel-supplies we went into that fight to secure in the first place, and the U.N. oversight body which was using the ‘oil for food’ programme as a handy source of embezzle-able funds. The only people suffering under the Sanctions were the run-of-the-mill Iraqi civilians, and because we didn’t finish that fight the first time, we let several thousand bystanders (Kurds) get gassed in a fun little pocket-genocide. I sat there in a radar-control in Saudi, watching the damn aircraft fly in and drop the fucking nerve gas, dude.

    War is to be avoided when possible or practical, but sometimes, you can’t avoid it, and when it starts, you’d best finish it and be the only man standing, or you’re going to have to do it all over again, only worse, and longer, and more horrible than before.

  • Cannonshop

    Dammit, I’m getting crazy here…

    “Limited War” is a lie. It’s a fantasy cooked up by guys who sit in comfortable offices far from the horror. Want to see the fruits of ‘limited war’? Korea’s been in a state of war since the 1950′s, a permanent state of war, with permanent armies staring at each other over the DMZ, waiting for the other shoe to drop and occasionally exchanging small-arms fire. Israel’s in a permanent state of emergency with areas in a permanent condition of being occupied territory with all the discomfort and suffering that implies, Kosovo will last about five minutes past the point that NATO pulls out, and Sudan has regularly scheduled genocides and Somalia is a haven for pirates and Khat-Dealers.

    It’s better to regret how you destroy an enemy, than to be destroyed by an enemy because you fear the regrets.

  • Jordan Richardson

    It’s a bit like wandering out in the bad part of town, picking a fight, then running away-if you don’t win the fight, they’re going to chase you down and kill you, or hurt you, or do other things to you which you do NOT want to experience.

    So don’t pick a fight?

    I refuse to believe that war is a foregone conclusion. Instead, like Chris Hedges, I think war is a force that gives us “meaning” and I think that’s why we wage them, that’s why we wander into the “bad part of town” and pick fights.

  • Cannonshop

    #23 Nope, war doesn’t give us ‘meaning’ Jordan. (and if it does give someone ‘meaning’ then they’re well-separated from it, watching it on CNN, and probably need to get a real life.)

    But, until we can overcome the reflex of a Mammalian apex-predator in the species, war, like Crime, is going to always be there.

    As for not picking a fight, I doubt you’d find many people on either side of the aisle would disagree with that idea.

    However, once a fight starts, you either finish it, or it finishes you. The goofy idea that you can somehow fight a ‘limited conflict’ fails in light of how those end up-when you’re lucky, you end up having to guard a border for the next sixty years to infinity (Korea), if you’re not, you either see your allies over-run (Vietnam) or you end up having to do it all over again, only worse (Iraq).

  • STM

    If people think this is another Vietnam, they are very, very wrong.

    There are lots of differences, not the least of which is that the US and her allies are fighting the war in a “smarter” fashion (if any war is smart) than was the case in Indochina.

    That doesn’t mean using more technology, either, although it helps. It’s about boots on ground – but the right kind of boots.

    They don’t do what the Soviets did in Afghanistan or what the US did in Vietnam … using massively superior firepower and conscript soldiers to tramp around in full view of their enemies hoping to squash any resistance like a bug, and leaving nothing but heartbreak for the non-combatants caught up in it, and then withdrawing.

    Most of the actions in Afghanistan are CoIN operations, designed to counter insurgents, isolate them and then build a platform on the ground that denies the Taliban its normal recourse of threatening, bullying and killing other Afghans. A modern version of “Hearts and Minds” that actually might have half a chance of working.

    Much of the fighting in Afghanistan is done by special forces units, which during Vietnam were looked down upon by crusty high-ranking US officers who’d learned about waging war American style in WWII … large set-piece battles using huge numbers of cannon-fodder troops and overwhelming firepower that offer a quick result. Also known as battles of annhilation.

    This isn’t possible or desireable in Afghanistan, where actions by smaller units are the key and the US has learned the special forces lesson well in the years between Vietnam and now – and the kind of special forces employed are top-shelf compared to, say, the tactics of the Green Berets in Vietnam (with no disrespect to the men of that era). Secretive and smaller scale SAS-type tactics are the only ones that work in this environment, but they also require the input of very highly trained professional regular troops to fill the vacuum afterwards.

    Counter-insurgeny takes time, which is the problem. Most Americans (and westerners in general) will look at Hollywood’s war blockbusters and see a victory in an hour and a half. That’s what we’ve conditioned ourselves to.

    It’s the same line of thinking people have when they see criminal investigations dragging on for months, sometimes years, while investigators compile briefs of evidence that are good enough to a) hold up in court and b) convince a jury beyond reasonable doubt of an accused’s guilt.

    Yet they watch shows like CSI or Law and Order and it all happens in one hour and they don’t really understand the reasons.

    The US has every right to stand up to this stuff and to protect itself. Pulling back now sends a clear signal: “We’re paper tigers … attack us in our country anytime you like.” If Iraq and Afghanistan have shown anything to the enemies of western democracy, it’s that it is very far from being a paper tiger.

    Look at the years between Vietnam and 9/11 for the evidence if you’re in doubt, and all the balls ups and stuff ups as the US dithered around in its foreign policy because of the antiwar hangover from the Vietnam era.

    Terrorists and their supporters aren’t going anywhere soon, they don’t want to talk, and in this case, their stated aim is to take the entire world back to the dark ages. Olive branches should be the first resort, but only to those who want one. Standing around waving flowers at people who only want to kill you just means they will, and a bit sooner than they might have.

    I find it quite bizarre that many of those of an American liberal bent who cry out about this stuff and how terrible it all is would be the first to be jailed or have their heads lopped off if islamic fundamentalists ever did achieve that unlikely goal – and that they can’t see this paradox is madness.

    I bet those who died on 9/11 were in equal numbers liberals and conservatives.

    “Feminist? … gay? … privacy? … free health? … democracy? … civil rights? … free-markets? … right to bear arms … girls going to school? … women working or driving?”

    “Off with your head, you decadent infidel”.

    The trick with counter-insurgency is patience and commitment and has worked in the past. Yes, I would hate to see my own son over there (and he recently expressed a wish to join the Commandos, which would almost certainly have seen him there at some stage had he done so, and I managed to talk him out of it for now – but he’s also an adult and is free to make his own choice and I would have to wear it if he did).

    But if people are extremely well trained and well led by people whose motives go beyound the shoot ‘em up mentality and are not thrown piecemeal into unwinnable battles as cannon-fodder by people who should have their slippered feet up in front of the fire at home, then they punch above their weight and cut the risk to themselves while achieving more of their goals.

    Which is why the thing is being waged the way it is, for once. For once, this is quite different.

    We don’t get a lot of what it’s about because we’re not there, but even small things like making sure an afghan village has enough goats makes friends for life (no goat jokes thanks … for once, I’m serious).

    I can’t for the life of me find any reason to wage war except this: that there are people out there who are intent on destroying a way of life that has no peer – modern western democracy – and all those who believe in that life (man, woman or child).

    It’s why our fathers and grandfathers fought, and why we should not let up. Afghans who don’t want to be bullied are worth fighting for too, right?

    Because if you stop the vigilance and the willingness to punish bullies, sooner or later, someone is going to commit another atrocity.

    Their reasoning will be simple: “They have no will to fight us … let’s kill more of them”.

    Sad, but true. What we have is surely worth standing up for isn’t it? And yes, despite not being American and being of a left bent, I include the US in that for all those who think America isn’t really free or democratic.

    It is, and it is as much as it can be given the way it operates politically, which is a damn sight better than some of the alternatives that have been thrown up over the years.

    If I had the choice between living in the US or in a place the US had taken over, or under religious fundamentalists who’d like to send us back to the 7th century, I’d be choosing America every time.

    Patience … this is not simple work, despite how it seems sometimes coming at us out of our TV screens, and requires a meticulous approach.

    Freedom IS worth fighting for (not just theirs, ours too). Just without all the flag waving and yelling, maybe, so we can all put it really into perspective.

  • Cannonshop

    Damn, STM, I wish I could have explained it that well.

  • Jordan Richardson

    war doesn’t give us ‘meaning’ Jordan

    Again, can’t help but disagree. War does give, at the very least, some people meaning in their lives.

    Not to continue to rip off Hedges, but war gives us a lot. It gives us cultural understanding, allowing us to create an “us vs. them tableau” through which to view other parts of the world. It gives us enemies. It gives us foes.

    It gives us a cause, for example “to defend freedom.” As Hedges says, “war is a drug.” And further it becomes “endowed” with qualities like excitement and power. It corrupts and changes our memories of events and of conflicts. It changes everything, I think.

    It is, indeed, a force that allows nobility to be granted to some and evil to be granted to others. It makes heroes. It makes villains. Again from Hedges, it gives us “a cause.”

    Therefore, war gives us meaning.

  • Jordan Richardson

    Hell, war even gives us fucking video games and “adventure” films.

  • STM

    Jordan, some things are worth standing up for, surely? Try the olive branch first, though, every time.

  • STM

    Thanks Cannon … I didn’t like Bush, and I didn’t like the silly name he gave his war on terror even though I believe it is necessary, and I didn’t agree with what happened in Iraq, but no one will ever convince me that in this instance, it’s wrong. Unpalatable doesn’t always mean wrong.

  • Deano

    The question of right and wrong regarding the war in Afghanistan is not the one you need to raise.

    I don’t think anyone can justifiably argue that a Taliban-led Afghanistan is something that builds stability, regional peace and growth, unless you define a medieval theocratic dictatorship as being a desirable form of governance…

    What matters at this point is cost and political perception. The Taliban don’t need to win, they just need to outlast and sap the west’s willpower. STM is 100% correct – what will lose this war is attitude, will and a manifest attraction of short-term, pretend solutions. To pretend that you can stabilize, build up and leave in a very short period of time is a proven fallacy – what happened to the “six months” Cheney and Bush maintained would be the time spent in Iraq?

    Successful counter-insurgency is a slow motion battle, a Long War, as the milblogs aptly put it. it is a war waged across multiple fronts, not the least of which is hammering home the concept that you can get economic value, political power and security, growth and opportunity out of committing to a peaceful resolution rather than by taking up arms.

    It may very well mean making room at the table for the Taliban to be represented, once you’ve ground them down into a position of weakness.

    The biggest enemy is time and political expediency.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Who the fuck is America to play this role?

    The entire War on Terror is a last ditch effort to re-establish our sense of identity.

    The War on Drugs is an effort to establish our identity as a moral society.

    The War on Crime is a desperate effort to establish our identity as a civilized, law-abiding society (while white-collar crime is an everyday occurrence).

    Jordan is spot on. We need those wars because they provide “us” with meaning. And we need them desperately because our significance is quickly fading.

    Australia or the UK are just adjuncts, little toy dogs doing America’s bidding (John La Carre’s description of Tony Blair vis-a-vis George Bush); but it’s America whose significance is fading, not Australia’s or UK’s.

    Sorry Dreadful and STM. No disrespect intended.

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    This article and thread is chock full of psychopathy.

  • Baronius

    Deano, you should post here more often.

    Jordan, have you ever read any “just war” theory?

  • STM

    “This article and thread is chock full of psychopathy.”

    I saw psychopathy on 9/11 when innocent people trapped in airliners were flown into skyscrapers full of innocent people … everyone just going about their daily business.

    I saw it in Bali when my friend’s only daughter, aged 15, was blown to smithereens along with 200 or so other people by lunatics who thought they’d like to teach decadent westerners a lesson or two. She was on a special trip for her birthday.

    Anyone who doubts what this is about should watch re-runs over and over until it finally sinks in.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    What has the Afghani venture got to do with any of that?

    The very idea of trying to hunt bin Laden down in the Afghan cave was sheer insanity -GW’s notion of being heroic.

    Nation-building? They don’t fucking want us over there; they’re happy enough with Taliban and view our presence as invasion, pure and simple.

    I admire your liberal instincts – gosh, I hate this meaningless word – when it comes to fairness and fair compensation to workers in your own neck of the woods. That is admirable and part of your belief in fair play. But I don’t buy anymore the idea of America spreading freedom and democracy all over the world, nor should you. Not for as long as our own hands are stained and tainted, as they surely are. We don’t even give a shit enough about our own people – let them die on the streets rather than becoming insured – and yes, we care about freedom and democracy for others?

    What world are you living in, Stan. This ain’t World War II whereby the entire world was threatened – only an extension of American foreign policy.

    And the only reason why these wars – in Iraq and Afghanistan – still get a free ride because they’ve eliminated the draft. So they got poor suckers from the Deep South or the inner city ghettoes enlisting in these stupid wars because that’s the only opportunity this country has got to offer to the uneducated and underprivileged: put your life on the line, boy, and if and when you make it out of there alive, you’ll get free education.

    Whoopsy fucking do!!!

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Consider it an honor, Deano, to be complimented by Baritone.

  • Cannonshop

    #32 Roger, who are we to play this role? we’re the only ones who, at the moment, Can, Roger. It’s the down-side of being ‘internationalist’-for every chance of offering your olive-branches, you’ve got to have the spear ready in case it is rejected.

    And you forget that both Iraq, and Afghanistan, got their repressive regimes in large part because of US. Saddam was a creation of CIA cold-war policy, Afghanistan fell into chaos because after we helped them repel the Soviets, we abandoned them. (Charlie Wilson was right.)

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    If there are “good” Taliban and “bad” Taliban, and the good Taliban form a government that replaces Karzai, will we have won?

    If we succeed in preventing Al Qaeda and other terrorists from reestablishing HQ and training bases in Afghanistan, and then they succeed in launching an attack from Pakistan, or in taking hold of Pakistan’s nukes — will we have won?

    If Obama had ordered all troops home by this spring, and Afghanistan had collapsed into chaotic civil war, would we have won?

    It’s hard to write a winning scenario in Afghanistan — which is one reason criticism of Obama’s policy was inevitable, yet meaningless.

  • Cannonshop

    #40 Handy, remember, “Taliban” means “Students” (roughly speaking) they aren’t and weren’t a native grown movement. In general terms, no Afghan Government is going to survive without Pashtun tribal support-the Pashtun being the largest ethnicity in Afghanistan and all…

    The bigger threat with Pakistan’s nukes, is their shaky relations with the other nuclear power in the area-somehow, I suspect there’s more than a few factions in India that would really be keen on a live-fire test of THEIR nukes, justified by Al Quaeda getting ahold of Paki nukes.

    The whole area’s a pretty scary mess, but it doesn’t mean sitting back, and letting a mess WE helped create fester and get worse. “Winning” in Afghanistan means Afghan self-government, free from external militant influences and no longer dependent on the Heroin trade and cash influx from state-sponsors of terrorist networks. Bonus points if we leave them in a condition where there’s an institutionalized, if not necessarily deep, respect for human lives, private property, and tolerance of others (Yeah, fantasy land, this is southwest Asia…) The ideal is at least as moderate as, say, Turkey or pre-civil-war Lebanon.

  • John Wilson

    This article and supporting comments are just the usual rightists whining in an attempt to shift the blame:

    “…the right way: an increased force size backed by a larger U.S. Army with no timetable so our enemies could not plan around our thrust. Also, unlike Harry Reid, I believe we have chosen to lose this war, not been defeated on the battlefield.

    It’s been 9 years, for crying out loud! Can’t you Big Bold Warriors win a war against a bunch of peasants in 9 damn years!

    You were all strutting around and pushing others around to get IN to this war, and now you want to blame it all on the press and the home folk.

    Stop being such cowards and accept responsibility for your own poor judgement, bad instincts, and the incessant bullying of anyone who is against war.

  • Baronius

    John, I don’t think any of us were attempting to shift blame. As for people being pro- or anti-war, we’re discussing that on Dave’s recent thread. Anyway, I don’t see how a “pro-war” person could bully anyone into a war. As we’ve seen during the recent health care push, a congressman can always vote Nay if he opposes something.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    We don’t offer anyone the olive branch, Cannon, not unless it’s on our terms. The point, however, is – our reputation is stained to be enforcing law and order abroad – especially when the locals don’t want us there. And to say that Saddam was our own creation doesn’t bolster your argument, only detracts from it. We keep on playing the kingpin yes, because we still can. But the reason why we’re so intent on doing, as I argued in the earlier post, because ours is a faded glory, an Empire that’s shortly to dissolve. Hence the frantic efforts to preserve whatever still remains of our identity before we fade away.

    And no, I don’t trust America’s motives, not during the Cold War and not today.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Wake up, you dimwits! This is bullshit!

    “Winning” in Afghanistan means Afghan self-government, free from external militant influences and no longer dependent on the Heroin trade and cash influx from state-sponsors of terrorist networks.

    And so is this!

    ….remember, “Taliban” means “Students” (roughly speaking) they aren’t and weren’t a native grown movement. In general terms, no Afghan Government is going to survive without Pashtun tribal support-the Pashtun being the largest ethnicity in Afghanistan and all….

    First of all, the largest ethnic group in the area, the Pashtun, inhabit an area far larger than Afghanistan. If you fools haven’t noticed (and I know you haven’t), Pakistan is falling apart. A big part of Pakistan is inhabited by Pashtun. The other thing you fools have not noticed is that not all Pashtun are Taliban.

    Of course the Taliban are not native to the Pashtun. They are another poisoned creation of the United States, using Pakistan as a condom state to instill Wahhabi values in kids so they would fight the Soviets for them. Of course, now that the Soviets are gone, the Wahhabi have been free to turn on America.

    Combine the Wahhabi fanaticism with the Pashtun warrior reputation (another thing you stupid Americans don’t know about, and don’t care about) and there is no way you can win any kind of war in Afghanistan-Pakhtunkhwah.

    The old structures are collapsing over there, and new ones are shaping themselves in the ashes of the old. And the truth of the matter is that you Americans, with your heads firmly up your asses, haven’t got a clue.

    As the Taliban collapses, the Pashtun will re-assert themselves. They are as sick of the Taliban, the Pakistanis, and the Americans in equal doses. All any of these bastards do is bring war. As Pakistan collapses, the Taliban will gobble up the Punjab and Sind. And the Punjabi and Sindi, who have been screwing over the Pashtun in Pakistan for decades, will start to feel what it is like in an Islamic Republic.

    But who am I, a mere Child of Israel who keeps in touch with the Children of Israel in Central Asia, to tell you geniuses anything?

  • Glenn Contrarian

    I just now got through reading Dock Ellis’ article, and two huge mistakes really call into question everything else in the article.

    Take the example of sainted FDR and the Invasion of North Africa in 1942 during World War II. Lagging in the polls, FDR urged the generals to invade before the November Congressional elections.

    Mr. Ellis seems to believe that FDR only ordered the invasion of North Africa because he was ‘lagging in the polls’. I’d really, really like to see him back this up, because according to everything I’ve ever read (and told by my VERY Republican grandparents), FDR was a hugely popular president, particularly after Pearl Harbor.

    But I don’t think Mr. Ellis will even try to prove his claim. Most conservatives show a real distaste for actually having to back up what they claim.

    Coincidentally or not, here too Obama is following a communist game plan. Remember who the last invader of Afghanistan was?

    So…has Mr. Ellis forgotten who sent the troops into Afghanistan in the first place? Or is this simply an error in syntax? Could be either one, but Mr. Ellis thinks he knows more history than he really does.

    It’s said that the older one gets, the more one comes to understand just how much there is that one doesn’t know. Any historian worth his salt would heartily agree with that statement (and I’m only a rank amateur when it comes to history). But I do know this: as bad as Afghanistan is, it’s in FAR better shape than it was when Obama took his oath of office (both times).

    NO president would stay much longer than Obama did, because it would the height of irresponsibility for a Commander-in-Chief to place himself in harm’s way (as is obvious to anyone who’s studied what happened to the national psyche after Lincoln and Kennedy were killed)…not to mention the huge public-relations coup (with the attendant new flood in funding) for al-Qaeda if they had been able to kill the American president (whose joy at killing the president would only have been exceeded by that of the American Rabid Right). And THEN, once al-Qaeda used that funding to conduct MORE terrorist attacks on American soil, the Republicans would say, “See? We were right all along!”

    It’s a sad fact of modern political life that the best thing that could happen for the Republicans is a major terrorist attack with lots of American dead. If Bush had allowed a terrorist attack in 2008, McCain would be in office.

    Worst of all is Mr. Ellis’ complete lack of comprehension of the crap sandwich Obama was handed by the Bush administration – not only the burgeoning Great Recession, but also a pattern of utter neglect and failure in Afghanistan in the Bush administration’s rush to justify their illegal invasion of Iraq (at a cost of 5000 American servicemembers and nearly a trillion dollars so far).

    How bad was it when Bush was at the helm? The single greatest obstacle to stability in Afghanistan is a professional police force, and let’s look at the oh-so-patriotic efforts by Bush: “…a 2006 attempt to induct 11,000 villagers into a new organization dubbed the Afghan National Auxiliary Police — with only 10 days of training from DynCorp and international military mentors — was a complete and abysmal failure. One-third of the trainees in certain southern provinces, given a gun and a uniform, were never seen again. Two years later, in September 2008, the project was terminated.”

    It didn’t help that many of the expatriate law enforcement trainers hired by DynCorp were from small-town America with NO combat experience and even less comprehension of how to deal with people from outside American WASP cultures. And the fact that only about 5% of the police recruits were actually literate made things much worse.

    Mr. Ellis, I don’t expect you to pay the least attention to any of this, because your article evinces a near-total unwillingness to challenge your own beliefs. That, sir, is why you are so strongly conservative.

  • STM

    Roger: “What has the Afghani venture got to do with any of that?”

    Plenty, that’s where they were hiding out and where they are shielded and thus able to organise their filthy work. Plenty of them still are, especially along the Pakistan border.

    And what planet are you living on mate? Most Afghans hate the Taliban. They don’t want them there either.

    You can’t argue about this issue from a position of ignorance Roger.

  • STM

    Also Rog, I lived in Baghdad as a boy. I can tell you the vast majority of Iraqis welcomed the US invasion of Iraq as a liberation, because Saddam Hussein’s alternative was unbearable for them. He turned Iraq into a middle-eastern version of a Stalinist state and introduced the kind of totalitarian regime that even worried other Ba’athists in the region.

    I lived there as a kid and lived through a coup attempt. This is nothing new for Iraq, but it was new for them to have people “liberating” them who weren’t going to make things worse in terms of the kinds of freedoms they would have.

    The Baathists in Iraq could be particularly nasty. A driver who sometimes worked for my father was kidnapped from his house in the middle of the night, bashed senseless with knuckle dusters and then left to die in an alleyway not far from where we lived. Saddam was among the gangs of Baathist thugs who used to prowl the city at night in cars doing the dirty work of the party. Our friend’s crime: the best we can deduce is that he didn’t support their aims, as they’d come to power in coalition with a pro-western regime in the 1960s that soon worked out how bad they were and got rid of them. For that, they took his life, and left a young family without a husband and father.

    As for 2003, it was what happened after the invasion that got America offside in Iraq with the locals, not the invasion itself. Abu Ghraib was about the time it really started to go pear-shaped, although it was shaping up as a mess from day one of the start of “the peace” … for lots of reasons that would take too much space to detail here.

    But don’t get the idea that Iraqis and Afghanis (generally) have any desire to go back to what they had before.

  • STM

    They are also smart enough to realise that if the US-led military coalition pulls out, they are doomed to suffer the same kind of madness. One of the things they always tell people is that they don’t want the western troops to leave, even if they sometimes feel like they’re being occupied rather than freed. But they DO live in fear of the alternative.

  • STM

    Glenn’s right about that rubbish about the invasion of North Africa.

    It was launched because the British had Rommel on the run and had his armies retreating in fourth gear westwards in complete disarray after the Battle of El Alamein.

    The invasion wasn’t solely American, either, so it was a combined decision that was aimed at capitalising on the Eighth Army’s defeat of the Afrika Korps and the Italians and couldn’t have been made by FDR alone by turning to the generals. At that stage of the war, the US weren’t making any of the decisions except in terms of logistics as they were depending on the British experience of fighting the Germans and hoping to learn from it without having to be “experience learners” like their cousins across the ditch.

    It aimed to push at the Nazis from both directions with the hope of encircling them (which it did … it was a worse defeat than Stalingrad in terms of German and Italian priosners and the destruction of a Nazi army) and had as part of its aim the diversion of German resources from the Eastern front.

    Is there any more rubbish anyone would like to throw in so that we can dissect it rationally and truthfully accoprding to all the accepted views of historians in the US and elsewhere?

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    “You can’t argue about this issue from a position of ignorance Roger.”

    That’s a conversation stopper, Stan, and you know it – the kind of things that would get us tangle up in a bar.

    If the Afghanis were part of the US effort, they would be fighting the Taliban themselves, just as they did against the Russkies – with or without the American aid (which they surely did).

    So I suggest you re-examine your own views rather than be losing your cool.