Mission Creep

Here.

Is it just me, or is there a really solid lack of understanding what we are doing over there and why? I understand that people are willing to give the new President some time to formulate a policy, but I’m really at a loss to know what it is. Other than the appointment of McChrystal, adding some troops, and continuing aerial missions with less than optimal results, I really have no idea what the grand strategy is or if there is one. This may be my fault for not reading up enough, but at the same time, it is not like it has been front and center. The economy blowing up and other weighty issues like mustard choices and releasing terrorists onto the streets of Fon du Lac seem to dominate the news.

What exactly are we doing over there? And I’m not saying that seizing the things that makes the Taliban go is a bad thing, just that it is hard to figure out what our big plan is in the region. Drug seizures in a region renowned for opium production just seems kind of whack-a-mole.

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66 replies
  1. 1
    Pennypacker says:

    I agree that Obama hasn’t done a good job of communicating the overall objectives or the expected end game. He’s mentioned defeating Al Qaeda, but it’s not clear what that means — is eliminating Bin Laden enough? What the hell would a stable US-friendly government look like in that part of the world?

  2. 2
    MikeJ says:

    Opium seizures seem particularly silly when it would probably be more cost effective and less enemy producing to simply buy the opium and sell/give it to big pharma. Or fuck it, just burn it. Either way.

  3. 3
    Bill E Pilgrim says:

    If they were caught growing Dijon mustard the right would be screaming to have us carpet bombing by tomorrow.

  4. 4
    Yutsano says:

    If they were caught growing Dijon mustard the right would be screaming to have us carpet bombing by tomorrow.

    Or that evil plant arugula. I mean it does mean rocket in Italian.

  5. 5
    omen says:

    are the saudis still funding the taliban/al qaeda?

  6. 6
    JL says:

    Okay after a day of yard work and a half a bottle of wine, I have to disagree. Afghanistan was important to us when Russia was fighting there and we were not always supporting the best of folks. Thank you President Reagan. We walked away and allowed the taliban to promise peace but instead they took away human rights and allowed the terrorists to train there. Laura Bush spoke about woman’s rights in Afghanistan but I’m not sure that she knows that we walked away from that. We need to finish the job that we started and flush out the terrorists and the extremists. Now for the rest of the wine. Sometimes we deplore troops and it’s not about oil.

  7. 7
    JL says:

    @omen: duh… Before 9/11 a source told me that troops were training in case they needed to go into Iraq. (probably normal troop stuff, yeah right). After 9/11 the same person called and said now they can get Saddam and I pointed out that actually the folks that attacked us were from Saudi.

  8. 8
    srv says:

    If heroin was a bad thing, we should have left the Taliban in charge. They were burning poppy fields left and right before we arrived.

    The only strategy is what the generals are making up. You cannot defeat the Taliban, but you can make it stronger by destablizing Afghanistan and NW Pakistan. So that’s what we’re doing.

    Eight years later, there are zero assessments on AQ (not Taliban) by size of force. If you were to ask anyone in gov’t how many AQ folks are running around, they have no idea, and they haven’t asked anyone in the field. Neither does the media. I’d bet it’s less than a 1000.

    We’re spending 100’s of billions a year for a 1000 guys. This is simply a narcowar now, and we have already lost.

  9. 9
    IndieTarheel says:

    @Bill E Pilgrim:

    If they were caught growing Dijon mustard the right would be screaming to have us carpet bombing by tomorrow.

    I was laughing at this until, sadly, I realized that you’re probably right.

  10. 10
    Svensker says:

    @JL:

    We need to finish the job that we started and flush out the terrorists and the extremists.

    How will we know when we’ve done that? If I were Afghani, I’d be fighting the Americans, even if I had been against the Taliban to start with. Don’t tread on me, and all that. The Afghans invented the sentiment.

  11. 11
    Anne Laurie says:

    We need to finish the job that we started and flush out the terrorists and the extremists.

    I swear I can hear bitter, ghostly laughter just reading this. You do remember that Afghanistan has been known as “The Graveyard of Empires” since at least the days of Alexander the Great?

  12. 12
    Yutsano says:

    I was laughing at this until, sadly, I realized that you’re probably right.

    And I don’t know if that fact is laughable or disturbing. Both at the same time?

  13. 13
    JL says:

    @Svensker: Okay, it was a naive statement, but I do think that maybe we have the opportunity to rebuild parts of the country. IMO, we just can’t bomb and leave like Bush did.

  14. 14
    jon says:

    We didn’t just do “drug seizure,” yesterday we seized perhaps the entire Taliban heroin funding(which is used to pay warlords to attack coalition troops, which is the Taliban’s main avenue of attack on us) for the next couple years and 30 tons of bomb making material(detonators, ammonium nitrate, etc). 102 tons of raw heroin and opium seeds(figure 3-5 times that amount on the street), to give an idea of scale, the average US yearly consumption of heroin in 17 tons. I believe this is the first time US troops actively raided the main poppy growing regions after the harvest to catch it in tar form.

    This is some seriously good news to come out of Afghanistan, may hamstring the Taliban/AQ’s ability to wage their insurgency for the foreseeable future, yet this is presented as “mission creep.” Really?

  15. 15
    Yutsano says:

    Sometimes we deplore troops and it’s not about oil.

    I officially declare you as having overdone the vino.

  16. 16
    jl says:

    When we and our allies are willing to spend more money to rebuild the country than we do shooting people and bombing things, then I will start to have some hope for the effort.

    I’ve read articles on Juan Cole’s Informed Commment Global Affairs blog (http://icga.blogspot.com) that make me think that way. Search the blog for ‘Afghanistan’ and follow links in the articles to other writings on Afghanistan. I trust the sources there who have lived and worked in Afghanistan and know something about the country.

    One thing I did not realize is how shattered the whole country’s infrastructure is from continuous war from the 1980s onward. Irrigation systems, orchards, roads, warehouses, distribution systems all blowed up.

    Living in ruins means that many people have the choice of growing opium poppies or starving. And once the Taliban, or warlords get a strong enough hold on a region with money, then they can use muscle, and the choice for many of the rest of the population is grow opium poppies or die.

    Most of the successes in Afghanistan that I have read about come from giving the ordinary people the means to earn as much from honest agriculture as from opium poppies. So, for example, growing some specialty crops that grow especially well in Afghanistan like saffron and special flowers for perfume. And besides that, fruit orchards, and infrastructure for processing it (to get some processing value added, for example, from selling the dried fruit). All that used to be there.

    Right now we are not doing nearly enough to rebuild that stuff, even in secure areas. We send them some cheap ass seed grain and tell them to grow themselves some wheat and live in total poverty, and smile when the do that, or they are criminals. So, many people basically do not care whatever the hell happens as long as they can feed their families or not get shot.

    That is my opinion from reading the Informed Comment Global Affairs blog. People can read for themselves and see if they agree.

  17. 17
    PeakVT says:

    What exactly are we doing over there?

    Nominally we’re trying to build a secular democracy, and defeating the “insurgents” is posited as a necessary part of the process.

    Can it be done? Are we going about it in the right way? Does the existence of Afghanistan make sense with it’s current borders? Would it be better if we stopped meddling in the internal affairs of countries between the Bosporus and the Yellow Sea? The answers seem to be no, no, no, and yes.

    Bonus global geopolitical fun: North Korea just tested a nuke according to the BBC.

  18. 18
    JL says:

    @Anne Laurie: Yup.. I deserve to be mocked. Before 9/11 many papers wrote about the plight of females and the destruction of artifacts and everyone turned a blind eye. Shortly after 9/11 all the abuses came into focus, now not so much. It’s unfortunate that Afghanistan doesn’t have a large oil reserve like Saudi.

  19. 19
    Malovich says:

    Speaking as a Canadian who’ve been keeping an eye on what we’ve been doing there for the past six years, we’ve been simply trying to get a decent modern democracy going there. Women’s rights have gotten a major boost, decent infrastructure has allowed trade to happen, and the influx of luxury goods has given people something to enjoy other than subsistance living. Education is at its peak, even with the school bombings. People are beginning to stand up on their own.

    This isn’t easy to maintain, though. The Afghan police require training and discipline to resist the Taliban’s efforts at infiltration and sabotage. The government needs to appear available, which is hard in the far-flung provinces.

    You’ll notice I haven’t said anything about the opium fields. Mostly because in the areas where the troops have been operating, this has been a non-issue. The most densely populated areas have little to do with the drug trade; this is where your democracy is going to come from, not the drug farmers or the smugglers.

  20. 20
    Shawn in ShowMe says:

    What exactly are we doing over there? And I’m not saying that seizing the things that makes the Taliban go is a bad thing, just that it is hard to figure out what our big plan is in the region.

    http://news.xinhuanet.com/engl.....086818.htm

    The mission, the president said, is “to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al-Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and to prevent their return to either country in the future.”

    To root out al-Qaeda in both countries, Obama said he will deploy 4,000 more troops to train Afghan security forces later this spring.

    He urged the Congress to approve 1.5 billion U.S. dollars in new funding for Pakistan.

    “For the first time, this will fully resource our effort to train and support the Afghan army and police,” the president said. “Every American unit in Afghanistan will be partnered with an Afghan unit, and we will seek additional trainers from our NATO allies to ensure that every Afghan unit has a coalition partner.”

    —————————————————-

    And as far as the drug war, that’s not mission creep, that was revealed as part of the overall strategy back in February:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/worl.....ign-policy

    The new policy would place greater emphasis on “going beyond military capacity” to dealing with good governance, judicial reform, a focus on the police, and the “war on drugs”.

  21. 21
  22. 22
    Yutsano says:

    One other important point that I think should be noted is the type of Islam that is native to Afghanistan. It is not the fundamentalist Deobandi strain the Taliban were enforcing, but is instead the more spiritually derived Sufi sects. If we spent some time actually cultivating native Afghan Islam we might find them to be a much more agreeable people again. Though I’m afraid most of the Sufi institutions were most likely destroyed between the civil war, the Soviet invasion, and the Taliban takeover. It is a part of their history that I’m sure is being taught in the back villages and can be taught again if it were brought out of the shadows.

  23. 23
    Jon says:

    @Yutsano: Bingo. The Taliban only emerged because the Afghani people were sick of the chaos created after the Soviets pulled out(and we did precisely nothing to improve the political situation) and the ISI decided to help stabilize things with fundamentalists they thought they could control.

  24. 24
    omen says:

    @Yutsano:

    were the saudis exporting a more militant brand of islam as a hedge against iran?

  25. 25
    jl says:

    The problem I see is that
    1) establishing a new crop -especially establishing orchards,
    2) building agricultural processing and distribution systems,
    3) building good and reliable export marketing relationships,

    would take a a lot of money. One thing you will never ever see the United States do anymore, the last damn thing you will ever see the U.S. do with the current philosophy of its ruling class, is spend a lot of money on poor people in way that allows them to be self-sufficient. It is just not done.

    Until that changes, Afghanistan will never be completely solved.

    I may be a liberal, but I am realistic enough to understand that $$$$ solves a lot of problems that seemed intractable before, including problems that are exploited by goons and then disguised as religious or cultural or some such nonsense.

    I understand that Afghanistan has never been a unified states in the sense that France or the U.S. has been. But a loose federation of relatively peaceful people living under different cultural systems, is different from a hellhole where most of the people are totally alienated from the central government, and completely vulnerable to exploitation by anyone with guns and cash. The latter is Afghanistan now, and I think people should do some research before they say that it has always been as bad as it has been now.

  26. 26

    We need to finish the job that we started and flush out the terrorists and the extremists.

    Oh brother.

    ( rolls eyes )

    Another fucking boondoggle.

    First, we need to get the T’s and E’s barcoded so we can screen them and flush them out.

    That should do the trick.

  27. 27
    Ninerdave says:

    What exactly are we doing over there?

    Same thing the Russians did in the 80s, same thing we did in Vietnam: Getting involved in a long term morass that will drain our treasury.

    The real “War on Terrah” as always been in Afghanistan/Pakistan and more so against the Taliban, but if past is prologue, we’re fucked. We’ll fight a conventional war against guerillas and lose.

    This actually concerns me more than the economy.

    Maybe Obama needs to aide and abet the “terrahists” a bit more and let the public know what is going on, but I don’t see that happening, nor do I see a coherent plan.

  28. 28
    jl says:

    And, I agree with commenters above that the very reactionary conservative violent and oppressive BS that is called ‘fundamentalist Islam’ is foreign to Afghanistan. That is why I think if the ordinary people were not vulnerable to domination by criminal warlords and the Taliban, they would not accept it.

    Afghanistan has a history of Sufism. The Sufi poet Rumi was born in Afghanistan. Most of the holy shrines are about Sufism. I think the modern fundamentalist version of Islam can get a foothold there because of the current poverty and helplessness of the population.

  29. 29
    Jackmormon says:

    Bonus global geopolitical fun: North Korea just tested a nuke according to the BBC.

    Holy shit. NYT has a very short Reuters piece screaming across its homepage (“South Korea says…”).

    Christ, this is JUST what we all need right now. Next up: California slides into the ocean, Quebec sucedes and declares war on Vermont, an asteroid is heading for, oh, Jerusalem…

  30. 30

    I believe that was my 101 tons of opium, thank you.

    I’ve been reading about pipelines across Afghanistan since the mid-1990s in obscure lefty journals like Covert Action Information Bulletin. There is a good article in the Asia Journal about the war in Afghanistan. It’s not about al Qaeda, it’s not about drugs, although there are uses for them. It’s about this.

  31. 31
    PeakVT says:

    North Korea confirms (though they are a bunch of lying sh*ts). USGS data.

  32. 32
    jl says:

    @Bob In Pacifica:

    thanks for the Asia Times article, which is a much more reliable source that a person can quote. The link reminds us very nicely now Bush I, Clinton and
    Bush II played a money-love footsie and pattycake with unsavory elements in Afghanistan, including the Taliban, because of stupid big money oil tricks.

    People forget, that Cheney/bush was in helplessly earnest teenage LUV with the Taliban, before the 9/11 attacks, when they were talking all about them sexy oil deals

  33. 33
    srv says:

    @jon:

    yesterday we seized perhaps the entire Taliban heroin funding

    Not likely when Afghanistan is producing 8200 tons last year.

    We are always winning the drug war.

  34. 34
    John Cole says:

    We are always winning the drug war the war against Eastasia.

    FIXT!

    I can not believe I was so damned gullible that 5 years ago I would be agreeing with Jon.

  35. 35
    Ninerdave says:

    @srv:

    Heroin/Opium is their most profitable crop. Do you blame them? Tearing down their poppy fields only enhanced the “America sucks” meme in my mind.

  36. 36
    JL says:

    My local news just told me that Newt has said that we are less safe under Obama. Gee could I live in Newt country.

  37. 37
    omen says:

    afghani is the name of their currency.

    that’s okay. even mccain has made this error. mr. foreign policy expert, my ass. not knowing the correct name for the people is the first tip off the speaker doesn’t know anything about afghanistan.

  38. 38
    srv says:

    Most likely, this drug bust was one drug lord turning in another, and we’re playing lackey. Maybe more leaning on Karzai’s brother after last weeks “assasination” attempt.

  39. 39
    jl says:

    Goof ass drug war style eradication/crop seizures/buyouts/kill all the bad guys crap policies that never work were really a big part of the Cheney/Bush policies for Afghanistan. I hope that Mr. Original Thinker, Obama, will try something different, but signs are not hopeful.

    (I edited to add ‘crop seizures’, which stands for all sorts of punitive actons against plants and land. You can’t have a goof ass failure drug war without ‘crop seizures’, that’s for sure.

  40. 40
    Jon says:

    @srv: My bad. I retract that point. And this isn’t the “war of drugs.” This is the war on the Taliban/AQ. Destroying their funding is the best way to fight them. Whether its heroin, porn or creamery butter, thats how you beat an insurgency.

    @John Cole: For someone who complains a lot about our tactics, you don’t have a lot of ideas of how fix the problem(or support any ideas to fix the problem). What is your solution to the Afghani tangle? Just walk away and hope for the best? We tried that after the Soviets pulled out. Didn’t work and Afghanistan turned into a humanitarian nightmare that led to the the Taliban taking control. So, instead of making snide Orwell comments, insults or bitching and moaning about what we are doing, how about some ideas or publicizing who is expressing solutions to our Afghani problem? Or is that asking too much?

  41. 41
    The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge says:

    Has anybody reported the yield of the North Korean test? Was it a miserable, abject failure like the first one? The professional self-panickers kept trying to edge that one up to more like 800 tons, but I believe the initial report that it was more like 100. Either a fake (most likely) or a complete, embarrassing failure. (Not that 800 tons wouldn’t also be a complete, embarrassing failure.)

  42. 42
    srv says:

    @John Cole:

    It’s not always for the faint-at-heart, but you can always read about a lot of the craziness here:

    http://www.rawa.org/index.php

    Had an McClatchy interview a couple weeks ago where Karzai’s bro started threatening to kill the reporter.

  43. 43
    jl says:

    @srv:

    I remember back in the day when taking RAWA seriously was controversial because they were, you know…. “commies”. And that was bad, and meant nothing that they said could be trusted.

    Ah, yeah, good times back then.

    Thanks for the link, but very little of it is in English, though I will look for the story you mention.

    (oops, the right hand side bar didn’t open up first time I looked at the RAWA site. Plenty of English sections!)

  44. 44
    valdivia says:

    two words: Nukes and Taliban. I am pretty sure at this point this is what it is all about.

  45. 45
    omen says:

    via wsj:

    White House Czar Calls for End to ‘War on Drugs’
    WASHINGTON — The Obama administration’s new drug czar says he wants to banish the idea that the U.S. is fighting “a war on drugs,” a move that would underscore a shift favoring treatment over incarceration in trying to reduce illicit drug use.

  46. 46
    Yutsano says:

    two words: Nukes and Taliban. I am pretty sure at this point this is what it is all about.

    And unable to deal with the problem directly in Pakistan without that turning into a major Charlie Foxtrot. Afghanistan is now more or less a war by proxy.

  47. 47
    Yutsano says:

    WASHINGTON —The Obama administration’s new drug czar says he wants to banish the idea that the U.S. is fighting “a war on drugs,” a move that would underscore a shift favoring treatment over incarceration in trying to reduce illicit drug use.

    Fair warning: he IS from the Soviet Republic of Washington.

  48. 48
    Shawn in ShowMe says:

    @Jon

    I don’t see anyone objecting to Obama’s plan to recruit and train an Afghan police force. They just object to the continuation of deadly airstrikes. I understand why Obama has signed off on this–that’s the only area where they have any reliable intelligence and it’s going take many months before the Afghan force is trained–but the hostility over so many civilian deaths could doom the mission altogether.

  49. 49
    PeakVT says:

    @The Very Reverend Battleaxe of Knowledge: The initial seismic data indicates that the yield might be slightly higher than the 500-800 ton final estimate for the 2006 event. The scientists here will have to churn the data for a bit before they come up with a definitive number for this new test. The military runs a similar data analysis center that probably has an initial yield estimate on the President’s desk already. (Total geeks can view the waveforms from the 2006 test.)

  50. 50
    srv says:

    @Jon:

    This is the war on the Taliban

    No, this is a war on whomever we call Taliban on any given day. There’s no evidence in any given attack who are Taliban on who are not. No evidence is ever provided on tribe or ethnic associations. You might as well be at war with a method.

    AQ

    What is the size of AQ in Afghanistan?

    And you keep using that word, insurgency. I don’t think it means what you think it means.

  51. 51
    Fulcanelli says:

    @jl:

    But a loose federation of relatively peaceful people living under different cultural systems, is different from a hellhole where most of the people are totally alienated from the central government, and completely vulnerable to exploitation by anyone with guns and cash.

    The former is the USA after the Clinton administration and latter is the USA after eight years of George W. Bush and a Republican dominated Congress.

    Fixed.

    I’d bet that Obama would agree, FWIW…

  52. 52
    Dennis-SGMM says:

    @Jon:

    My bad. I retract that point. And this isn’t the “war of drugs.” This is the war on the Taliban/AQ. Destroying their funding is the best way to fight them. Whether its heroin, porn or creamery butter, thats how you beat an insurgency.

    I have some modest experience of fighting in another counter-insurgency war. We don’t know how to win them. America does not, at this time, possess the patience or the money to win a counter insurgency in Afghanistan. Providing security from the real assholes and giving the the people winning alternatives to drug dealing, warlordism, government corruption, and all of the other etceteras of Afghanistan is beyond us as a nation.
    As one of my fellows observed in that other war, “Fuck! This means we got to blow up nearly everybody.”

  53. 53
    srv says:

    insurgency

    I mean in his sense “beat an insurgency” via COIN.

  54. 54
    Yutsano says:

    My bad. I retract that point. And this isn’t the “war of drugs.” This is the war on the Taliban/AQ. Destroying their funding is the best way to fight them. Whether its heroin, porn or creamery butter, thats how you beat an insurgency

    Actually, no. The best way to defeat an insurgency is to make it run out of gas with the native populace. War is now old hat to the Afghan people. They have more or less been in a state of battle readiness for most of their lives or all of it if they are under the age of 30. I honestly do believe they could fight forever because, well, what are their other options? Get occupied and dominated for all of eternity? Yeah, that’ll go over well with a proud and religious people. Here’s the problem: we leave and the Taliban WILL take control again, but will be MUCH fiercer and bloodier because of the foreign intercession. Anyone suspected of even a minor amount of cooperation with a NATO force member, even selling them a pomegranate, will be summarily purged and executed. I think we’re damned if we do and damned if we don’t. The best case for Afghanistan is setting up a few institutions (legal, military, possibly even political) that have at least a plurality of respect then bugging the hell out. And the more input from the Afghans the better.

    EDIT: Or what Dennis said.

  55. 55
    jl says:

    I agree with the commenters who say that you have to empower the ordinary people to support themselves. That will give them the incentive and power to resist criminal warlords and violent and oppressive fundamentalist fanatics.

    30 years ago there was all this ‘stuff’ in the country that ordinary people had access to, and that they used to support themselves. This included opium poppies, but most people had better things to do that they could use for income. Like ‘fruit orchard’ ‘irrigation system’ ‘drying yard’ ‘packing house’ ‘saffron farm’ ‘distribution network not controlled by Taliban thugs or central government crooks’

    All that stuff got blowed up and now it is gone.

    With no ‘stuff’ the ordinary people are helpless and destitute.

    So, somehow, somebody has to pay the money to get all that stuff back into Afghanistan, and allow ordinary people to have access to it at reasonable prices.

    If you don’t have that stuff back, you can kill ‘the bad guys’ for fifteen years, and burn all the opium fields you want, and I do not think anything much would improve.

    Can the current crew in the WH hatch a plan to channel some real reconstruction money to ordinary people in Afghanistan? Before the election I thought maybe, but now my doubts grow. It costs too much, and does not focus enough on shooting and blowing stuff up.

    We may not be able to afford it even if we do it right. But, I think the biggest block is ideological and cynical obstructionist GOP and ‘centrist’ assclown Democrats. Take for example just one item ‘irrigation system’. Dude, those are expensive. Think the U.S. will spring for those all over Afghanistan. No way. Afghanistan is ****ed until US and Europe decide to spring some real dough on something besides military, and I doubt they can even contemplate that.

  56. 56
    Bill H says:

    What are we doing there? Well, you can turn to “Jim Hoagland’s excellent column,”

    War in Afghanistan is at its core a matter of collateral damage. Without large organized military units confronting each other along fixed fronts, battle is haphazard and free-floating, a sometime thing that wounds or destroys whatever turns up in its path.

    We are, then, wandering around aimlessly, shooting at and blowing up whatever we happen to come across.

  57. 57
    M. Bouffant says:

    Josh Marshall on safe havens in Pakistan/Afghanistan.

    Face it, it’s going to take two to three generations of serious interference in Afghanistan to get a stable, not too corrupt, secular & so on democracy there.

    America hasn’t the patience, or the ability to plan much beyond next quarter’s profits, to pull off anything like that. It’d be nice if some of the people in charge would face up to our limitations & stop pretending we’re going to do some good by invading these poor countries.

  58. 58
    jl says:

    I don’t like sounding like a Dirty Fucking Hippy, but I think the DHF s are correct that the Dick Cheney ‘walk on the dark side’ approach, which was quite a hit for awhile, does not work, and needs to be abandoned.

    I went to conference on Afghanistan several years ago, and heard some of the old ‘freedom fighters’ talk about throwing the Soviets out and the following civil war. These guys said straight out that only violent lunatics could get real, bigtime dollar, continuous, support from the U.S. government.

    The U.S. told the moderate, and other more normal people who asked for aid, that basically, they must all be wussy pinko girly men because they were not lunatics, and therefore no one would give them much of anything. But these guys said that whenever the sadsack morons in Washington saw a violent lunatic nutcase the U.S. clowns would get a hard on and say ‘Dude, that is a trustworthy nutcase who will kick Soviet ass bigtime. Give him anything he wants and throw in some more ordinance and crates of dough on top.’

    And the non-lunatics said to the Washington lunatics “Ah, dude, this is gonna big a freaking mess ’cause you are giving these violent lunatics all this guns and money’.

    These guys, there were five or six of them who told their stories, fought for their country for years and years, and then had to flee because the violent lunatics who got the guns and money from the U.S., were coming to kill them.

    After I heard that talk, I decided to trust people who have spend significant time on the ground in Afghanistan. I think the Cheney and violent realist schools of thought are totally wrong. I am convinced the blowback from how the U.S. has handled that part of the world has been immense and it has gotta stop. I think changing our strategy to using the minimum military force necessary, and when we do, to do it in a way that reduces civilian deaths to a minimum.

    This emphasis on killing X number of high level ‘bad guys’ is stupid. If the business model of these ‘bad guys’ is viable, then it makes no difference how many we kill. And if it is not, then no one will give a shit since not enough people will pay attention to them.

  59. 59
    devopsych says:

    Yeah, what is Goofy? He can’t be a dog, he wears a hat and drives a car. They have to have a war, otherwise they might not get paid.

  60. 60
    windy says:

    On the drones in Pakistan

    …while the drones may seem a technological marvel and strategic asset to those waging the campaign on the American side, they don’t impress the local tribesmen. On the contrary, they feed a perception that the U.S. is a cowardly enemy, too frightened to shed blood in battle. “The militants say that if the Americans want to come and fight, they should fight them face to face,” says Mahmood Shah, a retired brigadier who was once the top Pakistani official in FATA. Shah, a Pashtun himself, says the families of the drones’ victims are required under the tribal code to seek revenge, which makes them ideal recruits for militant leaders like Baitullah Mehsud, the Pashtun commander of the Pakistani Taliban. Mehsud, says Shah, “likes to boast that each drone attack brings him three or four suicide bombers.”

    and

    The drones seem to be uniting militant groups against the U.S. and the Zardari government.

    Bugs or features?

  61. 61
    someguy says:

    What exactly are we doing over there?

    Losing the war quietly for a couple more years, until we can quietly declare victory and back out in shameful defeat, while the rest of the world notices and cheers what we don’t see, the death of our own prestige, power and moral integrity on a foreign battlefield in a war that didn’t need to be fought.

    It’s the seventh war that Bush chose to fight and lose – right behind the ones on brown peepul in Iraq, drugs, kids, Old Europeans, steroids in pro sports, and librulls.

    And yes, the more you fight AQ, the more AQ fighters it creates. Now that we’ve tried everything else, perhaps we should try leaving them alone.

  62. 62
    Svensker says:

    Now that we’ve tried everything else, perhaps we should try leaving them alone.

    Yes. Can we get a billboard?

  63. 63
    The Other Steve says:

    Hey! My brother lives in Fond du Lac! Don’t you dare going releasing terrorists there!

    BTW, my wife doesn’t understand why we call people Czars. She said Czar isn’t a good thing, why would anyone want one?

  64. 64
    bartkid says:

    >What exactly are we doing over there?
    Keeping the stock price up for whatever military contractors are located in the districts of whoever is on the Armed Services Committees.

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    Steve S. says:

    I really have no idea what the grand strategy is or if there is one.

    The grand strategy is Empire, and has been for over a hundred years. The differences between the mullahs in the Obama wing and those in the Bush wing are of emphasis and risk aversion. Cheney doesn’t care about the larger consequences of his policies so long as the game of Risk in his head plays out to his satisfaction. Obama, on the other hand, represents a broad and bipartisan consensus that is much more pragmatic in its concerns. The upshot is that the Empire has to be doing something, somewhere in the world at all times, and the mullah class is in 100% agreement about this.

  66. 66
    Mike D. says:

    Fondy!

    As to the question, I just don’t get this sudden questioning of the importance or necessity of efforts at AfPak stability. For years everyone was going around saying we ignored it in favor of Iraq. Before that, nearly(!) everyone was on board with the initial invasion and occupation, which had as its stated objective a democratic Afghanistan that did nor harbor terrorists. If you were against that then, then by all means go to town being against that now. But if you were for that goal then, then why do you not want that now. It seems to me that we don’t have that now in part because we had a half-insane half-evil strategist/tactician-in-chief for the eight years we were trying do get it. Now we have one who wants to focus on that goal, but we suddenly aren’t sure. Why is that? Just because it’s taken a long time and it’s hard, and the forces opposing that have a protected rear with whom we are ostensibly at peace? Well, it was that hard in 2002 as well, but the fact was glossed over and denied by the people in charge.

    Even in Iraq in 2006, responsible people were not arguing that we needed to get out of Iraq because we had changed our mind about the mission, but instead because we had functionally lost, and were no longer providing a benefit to the Iraqi population, nor to our own security. I don’t think anyone thinks it is that hopeless in Afghanistan today. And look what happened in Iraq.

    I don’t think the problem in Afghanistan is what where we want to get to looks like. The problem is how to get from here to there. Well, that’s always the problem, not just in war but in any challenging, complex undertaking. If you want to argue that the end-state above isn’t important enough for Americans to sacrifice for, then do so (and I don’t even care if you weren’t arguing that way in 2001). But if you’re just not sure how we can do it or if you want to make the sacrifice (but acknowledge the importance of the goal), then given that this is something that we are in fact presently fully engaged in, not a proposal that is up for hypothetical discussion, I kind of want to say, man the f**k up, USA! Our soldiers and marines are!

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