Afghanistan

I just don’t know what to think.






252 replies
  1. 1
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    Groundhog Day.

  2. 2

    If only most people would say that as opposed to regurgitate the opinion they heard on the news from whichever politician happened to be getting their media blowie at the time.

    I’ve spent three days arguing about Afghanistan with various friends and co-workers, and at the end of it all, the only thing I know with any certainty is that there is no good solution to the problems that country faces. It may forever be a hive of scum and villainy, or it may right itself and become a more responsible nation. Anyone who says they know is selling you a bridge in Cheyenne.

  3. 3
    Funkhauser says:

    Don’t think. Thinking is elitist. Read Fafblog.

  4. 4
    Morbo says:

    Lucky for you, NPR had Jon Kyl on this morning to tell you what you should think. You know, just like they had Russ Feingold the morning after George Bush addressed the nation. Anyway, Jon Kyl says we need to punch more hippies.

  5. 5
    Cat Lady says:

    All I know is that I’m glad I don’t have to be Obama for even one minute. On top of the ever increasing complexity of the problems he’s facing, the constant barrage of attacks from all sides, the shifting information, the ridiculous demands on his attention and time, he’s trying to be a good father and husband.

    Just typing that makes me want to hide.

  6. 6
    RememberNovember says:

    Afghanistan is going to be tough. How do you correct a 6 year case of negligence? Clearly the fault lays at the feet of the previous administration, and tho O came into office fully aware of the situation, is holding the ball at the moment. Just remember FDR was Pres during WW2, and Truman ended it. Notice nobodys chanting “cut and run” these days because the whipped dogs realized Iraq was a mistake economically. politically and strategically. Not that they’d admit it to themselves.

  7. 7
    Paulie Chestnuts says:

    Here’s what I think: get out of there.

    If in the future the Soviets want to re-invade by request of Afghani marxists who are seeing their women having acid thrown in their faces for going to college, THIS TIME WE DO NOT SUPPORT THE TALIBAN.

  8. 8
    Guster says:

    I just wish he’d made a convincing case: One big push to see if an intelligent administration can actually make things better in Afghanistan, then get the fuck out.

  9. 9
    Michael D. says:

    The only thing I know is that John McCain must be fucking exhasted from sprinting from camera to camera.

  10. 10
    Joseppe says:

    The smoke isn’t clear but it doesn’t sting my eyes as much. That said, I don’t have to go to Afghanistan…

  11. 11
    Napoleon says:

    @Morbo:

    I actually got out of the shower and dripped all over the floor to flip the radio off the second they said he was coming on. I figured he would say something that would make me want to try an slit my wrist using a rubber ducky.

  12. 12
    John PM says:

    That makes two of us. On the news this morning I saw President McCain saying that timelines were a bad idea, followed by a story about a dead American soldier (age 22) returning home for burial. There are now going to be even more dead soldiers returning over the next 18 months. I feel defeated.

  13. 13
    beltane says:

    I think the President did the best he thought he could considering the options he had, which all ranged somewhere between horrible and abysmal. If Bin-Laden, or his skeletal remains, are found and figuratively shoved in Dick Cheney’s face, I will immediately become more positive about the whole enterprise.

  14. 14
    donovong says:

    Ultimately, I am confident about only one thing. I am awfully glad that the guy making the decisions about this is Barack Obama, and NOT John McCain.

  15. 15
    Violet says:

    I don’t know what to think either. But I do believe we have a very smart President and it seems that he has taken plenty of time to think things through. I am certain he has access to info that we civilians do not and that has helped him shape his decision. I am going to give him the benefit of the doubt because I think he has to choose the least worst option. There is no good option. I only hope what he has chosen to do will lead to some good and we can get out of there.

  16. 16
    PaulW says:

    “We f-cked up the endgame.” – Charlie Wilson’s War.

    Afghanistan is too complex an issue to be left to headlines and flippant talking head commentary.

    Sending in more troops may help in one regard – enforcing stability and creating safe pockets – but it’s not the only thing we should be doing.

    We should be looking at improving diplomatic connections. We should be working behind the scenes to cull back the level of centralized corruption in government. There’s been talk about how a more decentralized regime – more power to local tribes, with recognition of the national government to handle foreign policy and trade, external defense, and internal peace between regions – could be more effective in preventing the Taliban any foothold in the country. We need to be doing more to cut off supplies of weapons to the Taliban: just who the hell is funding these jerks in the first place?

    I still blame Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld for this. We didn’t finish the job in 2002. All because those SOBs wanted war in Iraq. AND WE’RE STILL TRYING TO CLEAN UP THAT MESS AS WELL.

  17. 17
    dlw32 says:

    Mostly I think cluster-eff.

    I am so very sick of the cost of this being hidden. If it’s such a freaking imperative to be there then let’s start asking for sacrifices from more than just military families. At least let’s start selling war bonds, though raising the top tax rate would be better.

    And somewhere I heard that we’re only going to have about 4 brigades of troups left in the states when this is done, so clearly it’s time for the draft.

  18. 18
    Lisa K. says:

    I don’t either, John. My heart aches this morning.

  19. 19
    bemused says:

    Just as Obama started his speech, I got a Rasmussen phone poll. After a few strangely phrased questions on serious issues for americans, the poll abruptly changed to several questions on the WH party crashers & security, such as if the crashers should be fined/jailed. Then, just as suddenly, the poll switched back to other issues.

  20. 20
    geg6 says:

    I, too, don’t know what is right here. And, thus, why I am content to let this president figure it out as best he can. I am torn many ways on this issue.

    What I do know is that Afghanistan has always been a mess and Pakistan is almost as bad. Whenever I look at the history of the Af-Pak region, I think of Churchill’s description of the Soviet Union as:

    a puzzle inside a riddle wrapped in an enigma, and the key is Russian nationalism.

    Except substitute the words “and the key is Afghan tribalism.”

  21. 21
    Lisa K. says:

    Oh, yay, have edit function now!

    Too bad George Bush didn’t.

  22. 22
    Punchy says:

    Try this: The Soviet Union in the 80’s. They were successful, right? They had an overwhelming man-advantage, better weapons, and strong will to win. So clearly they MUST have won, right?

  23. 23
    Kennedy says:

    @Violet: I’m with Violet.

    Ultimately, the speech was disappointing for me because I would have liked nothing better than for him to announce that we’re withdrawing entirely. I really don’t see a need for us to be there, and I don’t believe for a second that the Afghans will stand up to defend their country and make everything smell like roses. Stability isn’t a word that really factors into a list of adjectives one might use to describe Afghanistan’s history.

    However, I do trust Obama when he says that it is still in our national interests to secure the country as best we can. Maybe that trust comes out of the fact that there are little other options available right now. But the fact of the matter is that he is not Bush, not McCain, and his word is a hell of a lot more credible to me than the alternatives.

    Basically, I’ll trust him on matters like these until gives me reason to do otherwise.

  24. 24

    I am actually happy Obama gave a date for leaving. I didn’t expect him to do that.

    Afghanistan is lost. It was lost years ago. It isn’t politically feasible to leave ASAP so Obama picked “18 months” from now. Anyone who expected Obama to say we are leaving next week is a crazy person. This was the best we could get under the circumstances.

  25. 25
    Guster says:

    @Blue Neponset: He didn’t. He gave a date to _start_ leaving. Conditionally.

    Which is kinda like saying I’ve lost 20 pounds because I plan to lose one pound next month, if everything goes alright.

  26. 26
    Cervantes says:

    @Cat Lady:

    True, but then, he did ask for the job.

  27. 27
    debit says:

    Granted, I haven’t watched any coverage beyond a little MSNBC last night after the speech, but I don’t think I’ve heard anyone bring up that Obama isn’t answerable to just America. It may very well be the best thing for America, short term, to cut our losses and get out, but I don’t think the rest of the world would appreciate us leaving our mess for them to deal with.

  28. 28
    ericvsthem says:

    A predominantly Christian nation invading and occupying a predominantly Muslim nation for 8 years was a very bad idea. Committing to +30k more troops and another 3 years will no doubt be seen as an escalation by the invaders, no matter the reasons or the intentions. OBL could not have hoped for a better recruiting tool.

  29. 29
    Xenos says:

    @Blue Neponset: You are probably right. But it does at least add up to a coherent strategy and approach to say that win, lose, or draw, we are out by a certain date, and that the locals and the regional powers have to make it work.

    The military will do what the military can do – win most if not all of the tactical engagements, conduct very local diplomacy over security issues, provide room for a process to take place. The rest is really Hillary’s job. If Afghanistan and the region holds together after we go, she deserves her Nobel peace prize.

  30. 30
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @debit:

    I don’t think the rest of the world would appreciate us leaving our mess for them to deal with.

    Then the rest of the world needs to send troops or minders or consultants or Democracy Corps trainers to America to ensure we have free and fair elections so another asshat like George Bush doesn’t get elected again. Stop us before we fail the world again.

  31. 31
    PeakVT says:

    I just don’t know what to think.

    Well, the decision has been made, and the DFHs have had almost as much influence on Obama as on Bush. (Biden may have improved the strategy a bit, but that remains to be seen.) If you’re opposed to this surge/escalation/yourtermhere, you can try to push Congress to either refuse to fund the increase directly, or attach a war tax to the funding bill, which would kill it indirectly. Neither is likely. What’s left is hoping that very few people get killed, and getting ready to apply pressure in 2011 when the issue comes back up. Who knows, things might actually go well in Afghanistan over the next year and a half.

    That’s my optimistic answer.

  32. 32
  33. 33
    debit says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead: Heh. Well, I do think that thew rest of the world fucked up when they let Bush bully and swagger his way into two wars when his reasons were “because shut up, that’s why”. Coalition of the willing, my ass.

  34. 34
    peach flavored shampoo says:

    A predominantly Christian nation invading and occupying a predominantly Muslim nation for 8 years was a very bad idea. Committing to +30k more troops and another 3 years will no doubt be seen as an escalation by the invaders, no matter the reasons or the intentions. OBL could not have hoped for a better recruiting tool.

    This. Show me evidence the Afghani people want this increase. Show me why they’ll accept 30K new foreigners with guns and trigger fingers on their soil.

  35. 35
    geg6 says:

    @Guster:

    It has to start somewhere. I simply don’t understand this mentality that we must pull out immediately. Anyone who says such a thing is living in as much of an imaginary world as the neocons and teabaggers. The quicker than the military wanted deployment and a target to start winding down are, to me, signals that he is serious about this being that one last chance and then we go as quickly as we can get our people out safely. Which means conditions, of which there are many on many fronts other than military. Diplomacy with and among Pakistan and India for one. And I saw a clear signal that our efforts within the country will not only be with the corrupt Karzai regime, but with tribal leaders. I am happy about this development as I never had any doubt that Afghanistan will never be a place with a successful central government. It’s just not that sort of place.

  36. 36
    nancydarling says:

    This is not just about the Taliban in Afghanistan. It is also about the Taliban in Pakistan and what a failed Pakistani state would mean for the geopolitics of the region. I believe we were giving Pakistan 10 billion a year in aid through most of the GWB administration—no strings attached. Were they using it to add to their nuclear arsenal and build up their forces on the border with Kashmir? The battle with India over the Kashmir has waxed and waned for 60 years. The whole situation over there is so incredibly complicated. I sleep better at night knowing our president doesn’t lead with his gut. I see President Obama as playing a three dimensional chess game. Those of us with half a brain are playing checkers and the Republicans are playing a poor game of Go Fish.

  37. 37
    Cervantes says:

    Does anyone have any thoughts on what might happen if Bin Laden were found and/or Al Qaeda destroyed?

    Does anyone actually believe that either of these events would mean the end of (other people’s) terrorism?

    (Serious questions.)

  38. 38
    Rick Taylor says:

    It’s the same old same old. We’re trying to set up a government in our image in a distant part of the world by sending troops. The rhetoric is the same, we’re going to strengthen the local government (that we put in place) until it becomes strong enough that we can leave; never mind that it’s corrupt, we’ll fix it. This will work out about as well as all of the previous attempts. It’s amazing after so many decades, we still haven’t learned a damn thing from Vietnam.

    It will be interesting to see how the right wing responds. If I were a Republican, I’d be humiliated. The Republican’s have been thumping their chests, setting themselves up as the party of national security, but Bush didn’t say a peep about Osama Bin Laden for years, except to comment it didn’t matter much if we caught him. Now here the Democratic President is talking about defeating Osama bin Laden in Al Qeda. That’s a task Bush left undone for over six years.

  39. 39
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @PeakVT:

    Well, the decision has been made, and the DFHs have had almost as much influence on Obama as on Bush.

    Exactly.

    Of course, the alternative for DFHs was President Hillary Clinton under whom the war in Iran would have made Afghanistan seem like still waters.

  40. 40
    Sam Hutcheson says:

    It seems to me that the overall strategy is “okay, you guys (McChrystal, Patreaus) want more troops, here’s more troops. You have 18 months to do something worthwhile with them.” I’m not sure that’s the best strategy, but it accounts for both the hazy nature of what we’re really looking to accomplish in Af-Pak and the hazy politics of having a military leadership that is enabled to question and harass their CiC by a near-seditionary opposition party.

    I don’t think it’s a good idea to let Afg collapse into chaos again, if for no reason other than it’s now even more closely tied to Pakistan, and we really don’t want Pak’s nukes going rogue. We really don’t want a “domino” effect where Afg craters and then Pak follows, and then they move all of their assets south such that Kasmir escalates and we get a hot nuke war between Pak and India. We really don’t want those nukes getting onto a black market.

    On the other hand, we really don’t want to be nation-building in the nationless wastes of central Asia.

    It’s a shit-burger. No doubt about that. Would be best if we could get up from the table and leave, but someone has to eat some portion of that shit-burger I’m afraid.

  41. 41
    superking says:

    I really, really don’t care about Afghanistan. There isn’t anything that Obama could have done that would have satisfied me, but I am nonetheless distinctly disappointed. And that is a completely ridiculous way to think. So, I’ve decided there is no reason for me to care. Nothing for me to do about it.

    I am getting frustrated with Obama always trying to split the difference. Someone needs to tell him that while we should be wary of excluding the middle, the middle is not excluded in all cases and finding middle ground is not the most assured way of finding the best policy.

    In any case, the Afghanistan was not affecting my life last week, last month, last year, or yesterday. It won’t affect my life tomorrow either.

  42. 42
    geg6 says:

    @Cervantes:

    Does anyone have any thoughts on what might happen if Bin Laden were found and/or Al Qaeda destroyed?
    Does anyone actually believe that either of these events would mean the end of (other people’s) terrorism?

    Personally, I would be thrilled to see OBL taken and al Qaeda destroyed. But anyone who thinks terrorism begins and ends with AQ is insane. Terrorism has always been with us. Always, always, always. That is why the whole “War on Terrorism” has always been bullshit.

  43. 43
    Dr. I. F. Stone says:

    Everybody’s most despised rightie supports Obama. From Sarah Palin, her concluding sentence: “As long as we’re in to win, and as long as troop level decisions are based on conditions on the ground and the advice of our military commanders, I support President Obama’s decision.”

  44. 44
    cmorenc says:

    @RememberNovember

    the whipped dogs realized Iraq was a mistake economically. politically and strategically. Not that they’d admit it to themselves.

    Um…the above statement makes two irreconcilably contradictary assertions:
    1) the whipped dogs realize Iraq was a mistake;
    2) the whipped dogs don’t admit to themselves Iraq was a mistake.

    What’s more accurate is:
    1) the whipped dogs admit Iraq was carried out in disasterously incompetent fashion, but while some admit it was a bad idea to start with, most think it was a good idea disastrously executed.
    2) (most importantly) REGARDLESS OF #1 ABOVE, the whipped dogs are going to insistently assert that WHATEVER Obama does or doesn’t do with respect to Iraq and Afghanistan, it’s a disasterous mistake (because Obama is a disasterous mistake the country made back in November 08). Never mind that the country might have made a disasterous mistake in 00 and 04 with electing George Bush; everything that’s wrong with the country is totally owned and caused by Obama now. They’ll conjure up and modify reasons why this is so as we go along, as needed to promote this essential story line that Obama is a socialist, Frenchie-internationalist pansy fail from the get-go, and they, whups the country can’t afford to be allowed to see anything he does as other than a disasterous failure in the making.

  45. 45
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @Dr. I. F. Stone:

    Everybody’s most despised rightie supports Obama. From Sarah Palin

    I have been vindicated.

  46. 46
    thrashbluegrass says:

    You want to win the hearts and minds of the next generation of Afghanis and assorted others in the Pakistan tribal belt?

    Airdrop a few million handcrank-powered portable television sets into the areas every few months, so that anyone who wants to can get their hands on one.

    Exposure to a culture outside their own can powerfully change a person.

  47. 47

    @Guster: That is still much more than I expected. Dubya or President McCain would not have said that.

    @Xenos: I actually think it is possible to achieve “victory” in Afghanistan. I just realized a while ago that our nation will never, ever pay the price needed to achieve this victory. [Think winter war of 1939, and the US is the Soviet Union] No reason to stay if you aren’t willing to do what is necessary to win. It seems to me that Obama realizes this and we are leaving as quickly as politically possible. IMO, that is good news.

    I don’t understand why Democrats are disappointed about this. Anyone who is should game out the next six months if Obama had said we are leaving immediately. It would paralyze his Presidency for the rest of this term. The healthcare bill might not happen, gitmo will never close, DOMA & DADT wont’ be overturned. No chance at all of a second stimulus. Etc. Etc.

    IMO, this is Obama at his finest. He is getting us where we want to go as quickly as politically possible.

  48. 48
    geg6 says:

    @Dr. I. F. Stone:

    Who cares what she thinks, says, tweets, or flashes across her tits on Facebook. She couldn’t find Af-Pak on a map, so she is irrelevant.

  49. 49
    Butch says:

    I don’t know if this is the right thread, but last night was the first time I’ve ever turned off an Obama speech. I felt at times like I was listening to George Bush; the same tired cliches, 9-11, and fearmongering, although at least Obama pronounces the hard words correctly and doesn’t smirk. I didn’t feel like even Obama believed what he was saying. Apparently without us the Afghan people would be left at the mercy of their most vile enemy, the Afghan people.

  50. 50
    LITBMueller says:

    The problem in knowing what to think that is that NOONE is mentioning the real reason why we are staying in both Iraq & Afghanistan right now: IRAN. By removing Hussein and the Taliban we created a massive power vacuum on either side of Iran (Iran hated the Taliban). Without our presence, Iran would have an incredible opportunity to create a big sphere of influence around them, and increase their oil supply.

    Throw on top of this the fact that the Israelis, especially, now with Netanyahu is PM, will probably not wait too much longer before starting a conflict with Iran over the nuclear issue. We will have more troops there for that eventual conflict.

    The real reason we are still there…and digging in…is Iran. The Taliban are not a national security threat. Al Qaeda is a shadow if its former self and already has safe haven in Pakistan, so they don’t need to give a shit about Afghanistan.

    Its all about Iran.

  51. 51
    Rey says:

    Don’t think. The military will follow orders, the commander in chief will keep abreast and the world will still turn. All these anti-war folks say bring the troops home, my question is home to what? No job and no health care insurance? Let the soldiers do their jobs, atleast they are working….

  52. 52
    blahblahblah says:

    The question is: What is the national interest? Why is the United States spending more than it will cost to implement health care yearly in these two wars alone? With Iraq, at least a bunch of oil there made sense. It might be venal, immoral, and unethical, but at least we all understand the desire exploit other nation’s resources and people by rule of gun.

    What the hell is in Afghanistan? Nothing. What the hell is in Pakistan? Nukes. But if nukes were the major concern, why the hell aren’t we planning an invasion of North Korea? One might think this administration expects to deal with NK like they are sane leaders acting in their own personal or national interests. Actually, Karzai is the “sane” state actor, grabbing everything he can from the U.S. until it’s time to high-tail it outta there with a big fat swiss bank account Mugabe style. And it is the Kim family who is a serious world threat. Al Qaeda is kids stuff compared to those assholes.

  53. 53
    pk says:

    I remember 8 yrs ago when every one was so gung ho about the war/s. Now most people are fed up and weary and would just like to go home.
    If there was any justice in this world every able bodied American would be hauled off Afganistan and forced to fix the fuck ups of their dear leaders.
    There is a price to be paid for voting for idiots and morons. Unless the American people are made to pay a personal and painful price for this country’s war mongering tendencies there will never be any end to wars.
    War in Vietnam, proxy wars in South America, first Gulf war, Iraq war, Afganistan war. War is the solution to every problem. And they are such fun wars too! Never any price to be paid by the general public. No enemy has ever bombed a single American city. No American child has ever been in any danger because of an enemy plane flying overhead. The media will never show the ugliness of war. So no lesson is ever learnt.
    I think the only thing that will stop America from fighting is when the choice is either between paying for food or paying fo war.

  54. 54
    TaosJohn says:

    I simply don’t understand this mentality that we must pull out immediately.

    You don’t, eh? Well, we have to pull out immediately because we shouldn’t even be there in the first place. How long would you dangle your balls in a bonfire?

    And the fellow just above who says Afghanistan won’t affect his life tomorrow is as wrong as wrong can be. The money already spent that would pay for health care… the Afghan war vet with PTSD now working as a cop who pulls him over for speeding and beats the shit out of him… the god-awful karma awaiting a nation of fools who allow their government to take innocent lives for the sake of a gas pipeline…

    I went through all this IN SPADES 40 years ago. There is no victory. We continue to reap the whirlwind. Politics as practiced is completely irrelevant.

  55. 55
    Ned Ludd says:

    @Blue Neponset: After the speech, three of Obama’s aides held a telephone briefing and dialed back expectations for the troop withdrawal.

    The pace of the military withdrawal remains unclear. The White House will take “conditions on the ground into account” as it moves “through that process of getting combat forces out,” the official said.

    “We haven’t indicated a specific rate of withdrawal or a number of withdrawal,” said the official.

    Also, the withdrawal is only “a goal“. But there will be a “robust set of benchmarks“, which at this point no one can describe.

  56. 56

    @nancydarling:

    This is not just about the Taliban in Afghanistan. It is also about the Taliban in Pakistan and what a failed Pakistani state would mean for the geopolitics of the region.

    This. As much as we are IN Afghanistan, it’s Pakistan that is the real trouble spot. Nuclear weapons, people. India.

    If you think that region is destabilized now, wait until the Taliban gets nuclear weapons and a base right next to India.

    We. Do. Not. Want. That.

  57. 57
    NYT says:

    I wasnt expecting Obama to announce withdrawal. But the rhetoric of the speech was pure Bushspeak – the ‘stakes’, the linking to terrorist threats in the US in a speech that were previously unreported, bringing in World War II to the current sordid adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan…

    Above all I’m disappointed that in spite of Obama’s BS about how important this is, there is no war tax, no draft, no nothing to bring home to Americans that war is not a game on TV. Grenada, Panama, Iraq I, Serbia , Afghanistan, Iraq II… its one after another with the pretexts getting flimsier each time.

  58. 58

    @blahblahblah:

    But if nukes were the major concern, why the hell aren’t we planning an invasion of North Korea?

    Ummm, because they don’t HAVE nukes yet.

  59. 59
    geg6 says:

    And can I just say that as a proud not afraid to say it Liberal, I am currently embarrassed by the lack of any sort of thoughtful argument, perspective, or knowledge being displayed by many of my ideological compatriots. Maybe I’m not as liberal as I thought.

    Gut checks self.

    Yup. Still pretty damn liberal. But not so blinded by it that I can’t see common sense and reality. Must be age.

  60. 60
    Seanly says:

    @Morbo:

    I was just pulling into my parking garage space at work when he was blathering on & wanted to crash through the railing I was so mad at his idiocy. Kyl was re-writing history by claiming many on the Left opposed the Afghanistan conflict.

    Obama is so screwed by the GOP and their fluffers the media. From CNN:

    President Obama’s timetable for winding down the Afghanistan war may be too short to achieve its goals and too long to hold public support, observers say.

    My own thought is that we should get out as soon as we can (same for f’ing Iraq too). If that means we surge, then so be it. I’m making sweeping generalizations, but holding grudges is a way of life in that part of the world. When they don’t have invaders to fight, the tribes turn on each other fighting feuds from centuries ago. They will wait us out whether it is 3 years or 100 years.

  61. 61
    blahblahblah says:

    arguingwithsignposts:

    Ummm, because they don’t HAVE nukes yet.

    Really?

    http://www.thebulletin.org/web.....-data-says

  62. 62
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    How long until we find out Michael Gerson wrote last night’s speech?

  63. 63
    David says:

    America is caught in the end game of empire. Just as Britain, Russia, and many others before it, we are colliding with the expense of maintaining an empire.

    Our pride won’t let us leave.

    Our pocketbook won’t let us stay.

    It’s just a matter of how long we decide to borrow from China, and over the next 50 years, how long before we accept the reality that we cannot be the policeman of the world. It also requires re-acquiring our the foreign policy we ceded to interests outside of the United States (i.e., Israel’s right wing extremists).

    We are playing out the hand passed to us as a consequence of the long-term historical trend of the US as superpower since the end of WWII. However, our policies are beggaring our country. Education (from K through graduate levels), health care, infrastructure, research and development, and many other investments to maintain our economy are *still* being underfunded in favor of high-tech killing machines. It is a matter of time before the whole house of cards crashes back onto the desk, because like the average American, America as a whole is living beyond her means, and spending on “wants” not “needs”.

  64. 64
    robertdsc says:

    wait until the Taliban gets nuclear weapons and a base right next to India.

    That will never happen.

  65. 65
    drillfork says:

    All I know is that killing some Muslims and torturing others in giant contractor-run prisons hasn’t really gotten us anywhere.

    A lot of you ooh and ah because this president talks so much better than the last one, but this shit seems awfully familiar to me…

  66. 66
    geg6 says:

    @robertdsc:

    Dood. Never say never.

  67. 67

    @blahblahblah:

    from your link:

    But one should be mindful of the technical challenges North Korea still faces in carrying out the threats implied by its deliberate pairing of its explosive test with test missile launches.

    Being able to blow up a test bomb is not the same as having nukes.

    I’m not saying it’s not something to be concerned about, but they are a bit away from where Pakistan is. And, FWIW, there are other regional players who have an interest in NK not having the nukes (think SK, Japan, even China).

  68. 68
    georgia pig says:

    This is beyond the point at which more thinking does much good. This is why you have a commander. He has done his due diligence and made his choice. If you supported Obama and he fails, you own up to fact you backed a failure. I see a lot on the liberal blogs expressing “disappointment” with Obama on this Afghanistan plan. That is nonsense, because the guy is pretty much doing what he said he’d do. He said he would make a commitment to Afghanistan, and he never suggested that he would pull out. You can disagree with the policy, but there is zero to be disappointed about in terms of Obama’s performance.

  69. 69
    debit says:

    @georgia pig: This. Thank you.

  70. 70
    Napoleon says:

    @bemused:

    Gee, I wonder if the timing of that would skew the poll in a negative direction since hard core Obama fans may not want to be interrupted by the speach.

  71. 71
    Brick Oven Bill says:

    Leave.

  72. 72
    Max says:

    Gates, Mullen and Clinton are doing a good job testifying.

    McCain is not happy, so, there’s win in that.

  73. 73
    Guster says:

    @geg6: That’s a non sequitur. The opposite of only giving a start date isn’t “we must pull out immediately.” The opposite of only giving a start date is giving an end date.

    And Blue N: It’s much better than McCain would’ve done. But that’s a low bar.

    On the other hand, apparently a majority of Afghans want us to stay.

  74. 74
    Brick Oven Bill says:

    That is because of the Jizya Guster.

  75. 75
    Randy P says:

    Well, I see the community here is just as focused as the rest of the media on discussing the pros and cons of the 30,000 number, as if that was the entire speech.

    It was not. Did nobody else hear the speech I heard? I heard an entire new approach to foreign policy being laid out. I heard our strategic interests clearly stated: Stability in Af-Pak and why that is important. I heard it clearly stated that the troops are only a small part of a national strategy aimed at these objectives. But a crucial part. The fire hose that needs to be aimed at the raging flames before anything useful can be done.

    I heard a national moral position being staked out, an ideal against which all other foreign and domestic policy decisions can be judged as to whether or not they meet it. I heard a firm commitment to put the US in the moral forefront of the world community. I heard a reaching out to Muslim nations, a reminder that they too were on our side after 9/11, before we decided we were on a Christianist Crusade against the Infidel.

    I also heard a commitment to the troops on the pointy end of the spear, that they are going to know why they are out there. That there will be a real reason for anywhere they are sent. Contrast that with “we just needed to pick up some small nation and throw it against the wall to show we could.” Just take five seconds and reflect. Do you really think the moral compass is unchanged from the last administration to this one? Really? REALLY?

    As for the 30,000, what I heard was that the generals had asked for an increase in 2010 in this general neighborhood to accomplish what they thought were the strategic goals, and that the discussion over the past months has been to clarify those goals.

    Every time the man gives a major policy speech, I want to weep with gratitude that the grownups are back in charge.

  76. 76
    Napoleon says:

    @arguingwithsignposts:

    Being able to blow up a test bomb is not the same as having nukes.

    Especially since the bomb they have is likely so large they would need to deliver it with a cargo plane (just look at pictures of the first US bombs). Building one is fairly easy, making it small not so much.

  77. 77
    TaosJohn says:

    Obama on Afghanistan: “Our cause is just, our resolve unwavering.” I’m sorry, but what utter, unspeakable lies and bullshit. What horror.

  78. 78
    Randy P says:

    @drillfork:

    All I know is that killing some Muslims and torturing others in giant contractor-run prisons hasn’t really gotten us anywhere.

    Correct. This is bad. It is not compatible with who we want to be.

    A lot of you ooh and ah because this president talks so much better than the last one, but this shit seems awfully familiar to me…

    If by “talks so much better” you mean saying “This is bad. It is not compatible with who we want to be.” then yes, he talks better.

    It’s really simple. Obama says this stuff is bad. Rasputin says this stuff is good. This stuff is bad. Therefore Obama is a better person.

  79. 79
    fortygeek says:

    @drillfork: Piss off. I’m going ‘oooh’ and ‘ahhh’ because the Prez has at least tried to show us some light at the end of the tunnel. At no time did the previous administration talk about getting us the hell out of either of these wars.

    Your concern troll is weak.

  80. 80
    Randy P says:

    @Randy P:
    Dang. That was meant to say Rasputin Cheney.

  81. 81

    @Guster: This is the world we live in my man. I wish we didn’t share our country with a bunch of dipshits but alas we do.

  82. 82
    soonergrunt says:

    @debit: The British and to a lesser extent the French did that over huge swaths of the world. Colonialism, you know. We’re the ones dealing with the mess they left. They seem to be doing just fine vis`a vis their reputations.
    Whatever mess we leave, the world will get over it.
    If they don’t, fuck ’em.

  83. 83
    soonergrunt says:

    @robertdsc: How will that never happen?

  84. 84
    Hunter Gathers says:

    I look forward to being lectured by President McCain this Sunday on Stretch’s House of Horrors, I mean Meet The Press.

  85. 85
    soonergrunt says:

    @Napoleon: The hundred or so bombs they have, you mean?
    They’ve already mastered the ship-borne attack delivery. Witness Mumbai.

  86. 86
    fortygeek says:

    @Randy P: This.

  87. 87
    aimai says:

    I’m with Randy P at 74, but I’m sick at heart, too. Because there’s simply no way to achieve anything good in Afghanistan. Even stabilizing Af-Pak would be better done by withdrawing entirely from Afghanistan and committing only shit we don’t care about–like money–to Pakistan. And it all should have been accompanied by a humongous fucking war tax on everyone earning 500, 000 and above. Not because those people bear the most responsibility for the war (s) but because those people have the most chance of stopping war if they are forced to pay for it. They can use the remaineder of their ill gotten gains and their personal bank bailouts to pay their lobbyists to lobby against the war.

    To me the the fact that Obama didn’t come to the American People tonight with a big ol’ pie chart showing just how much of the deficit/service of the debt is due to the unfunded wars, overlaid over the health care bill, is just the biggest criminal wrong of this administration so far. Or perhaps I should say the worst piece of political malpractice since the refusal to regulate and to tax in exchange for the bank bailout.

    He should have said “I’ll tell you waht “freedom isn’t free” means–it means we aren’t free to send young men and women to fight and die without thinking about how we are going to pay for their armor, and their health care, and their family’s security during and after their deployment. And so I’m announcing that with Nancy Pelosi and the forward thinking democrats of the house we will be submitting a bill to fully fund both wars and to pay off the debt from both wars efficiently and directly throught he levying ofa war tax. The tax will be set to expire as soon as the war debt is a paid down.”

    aimai

  88. 88
    soonergrunt says:

    @Randy P: I’m sure they all heard the same speech. What so many seem to be upset about is that it’s not the speech they wanted to hear and seem to think they deserved to hear.

  89. 89
    blahblahblah says:

    arguingwithsignposts:

    Being able to blow up a test bomb is not the same as having nukes.

    Actually, yes it is. If they detonated one or a few test nuclear weapons, then – by definition – they have nuclear weapons. You are essentially claiming that they have no delivery mechanism, their nuclear capacity is not weaponized, thus they “have no nuclear weapons”.

    But you don’t know that.

    And here’s what the BBC has to say about North Korea’s Taepodong-2 ICBM that’s in testing – it has a 10,000km range. Look at that pretty map showing potential targets all over the United States mainland.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/2564241.stm

    If you ask me, NK is not planning to attack the United States, they are implementing a real nuclear deterrent in order to take South Korea by force without U.S. intervention. Then perhaps China will take Taiwan. (and don’t be fooled about China not ever invading other nations – they consider Taiwan to long have been a part of China proper, and the CCP still hates the old Nationalists).

  90. 90

    @aimai:

    To me the the fact that Obama didn’t come to the American People tonight with a big ol’ pie chart showing just how much of the deficit/service of the debt is due to the unfunded wars, overlaid over the health care bill, is just the biggest criminal wrong of this administration so far.

    Good point.

  91. 91
    soonergrunt says:

    @georgia pig: THIS THIS THIS!

  92. 92
    Max says:

    @Randy P: Hear Hear!

    Listening to Cspan 3 this morning reinforces the “grown up’s” sentiment.

    Clinton, Gates and Mullen are expanding on the strategy and you can tell this is not W’s war.

  93. 93
    geg6 says:

    @Guster:

    Sorry, but having an end date is magical thinking. A start date to draw down is about the only date anyone can even begin to give and may, in itself, require adjustment due to conditions on the ground. Beginning of the end is about the best anyone could do, IMHO.

  94. 94

    @blahblahblah:

    But you don’t know that.

    Nor do you.

    If you ask me, NK is not planning to attack the United States, they are implementing a real nuclear deterrent in order to take South Korea by force without U.S. intervention.

    Not gonna happen, my friend. There would be such a shitstorm that it would be ugly. NK is not going to get nukes. China will step in. SK will step in. Japan will step in.

  95. 95
  96. 96
    valdivia says:

    I loathe ambinder but this piece is really a very good window on Obama’s thinking. Worth a read.

  97. 97
    JMY says:

    You know what I heard: July 2011. He gave his generals and the intelligence community 18 months to get the job done. Shut up with all this “Bushspeak” nonsense. I saw a President who clearly understood how much of a burden this is. I saw a President who knows people don’t agree with this decision, but yet chose this course of action. I saw a President who personally may not want to do this, but as Commander-in-Chief, knows that something must be done to bring this war to an end. He had a strategy. I didn’t expect him to give a detailed strategy otherwise he still be speaking, but some core principles of what he wants accomplished – something that was not done by the previous administration, who cut and run. People on the left act like there is one simple decision (to leave). There isn’t.

  98. 98
    donovong says:

    @Randy P: Bring it, brother. Can I get an “amen”!

  99. 99
    Violet says:

    Obama must be doing something right. Tom Friedman thinks he’s made the wrong decision.

    I can’t agree with President Obama’s decision to escalate in Afghanistan. I’d prefer a minimalist approach, working with tribal leaders the way we did to overthrow the Taliban regime in the first place. Given our need for nation-building at home right now, I am ready to live with a little less security and a little-less-perfect Afghanistan.

  100. 100
    Violet says:

    @Violet:
    Oh shoot. That quote was from Tom Friedman. Blockquote fail. No edit to fix. Dang it.

  101. 101
    Brick Oven Bill says:

    Unfortunately for our military, and us, they and we have a Commander in Chief who, for deep psychological reasons, apparently cannot acknowledge that there are no Benjamin Franklins in Afghanistan.

    This Commander in Chief thinks that, through his magical reading skills, he can biochemically transform the Afghan people and remove 20,000 years of nomadic-environment DNA –programming.

    Then, after his reading magic is done, these tribal people will abandon the religious foundations passed down to them by their forefathers, decide to let their women back-talk, and become a peaceful democracy.

    This Obama thinks he is one good reader.

  102. 102
    Violet says:

    @Randy P:
    Totally agree. It’s a big change in how things are done, which is far more important than just the number of troops. I’m so glad the grownups are in charge too. That’s why I personally am giving him the benefit of the doubt. He knows things we don’t know – security clearance and all. I think he made the best decision possible in impossibly awful circumstances.

  103. 103
    wilfred says:

    I wonder if USAID will now raise the number of temporary (5 years) Foreign Service appointments for Af. Currently they are 50, for two different categories. I applied even though my specialty is not on the needs list.

    That’s 50 people – it’s been that way for a year. You have to scrape through a lot to get at a kernel of truth. These new plans are purely military, and intended to milk this defense contractor cash cow for at least a bit longer.

    If they were sincere about all their previous blathering they would have needed a hell of a lot more than 50 people. See how many questions are asked about who they intend to send there, and how the selection process is made.

    Oh, and this from the speech:

    I see firsthand the terrible wages of war

    He should be hammered for that.

  104. 104
    Napoleon says:

    @soonergrunt:

    I think they were talking about North Korea, not Pack.

    @blahblahblah:

    Hey its a full blown neocon bed wetter.

    And here’s what the BBC has to say about North Korea’s Taepodong-2 ICBM that’s in testing – it has a 10,000km range. Look at that pretty map showing potential targets all over the United States mainland.

    So f—in’ what. We can destroy them in a second and they know that and I have no doubt that the deterrent will work with them. By the way, if the N. Koreans intended to invade S. Korea it would have happened when that world class f-up Bush and his band of flying monkeys, the Republican Party and the right wing press and pundits, over committed to Af. and Iraq and got all our “excess” troops bogged down in those two theaters. They could have rolled into the South and except for what we had there at the time there would not have been anything we could have done about it.

  105. 105
    blahblahblah says:

    @arguingwithsignposts

    NK is not going to get nukes. China will step in.

    They have already detonated the device you claim they don’t have. As proved by the seismological data. I’m sorry you don’t like that fact, but they’ve got nukes and you’ve got sand all over your hair.

  106. 106
    Shade Tail says:

    For what its worth, here’s what I think:

    We shouldn’t be there. We should just leave now. But Obama has had some serious success at foreign policy and counter-terrorism, and he clearly didn’t make this decision “from the gut” like the Bush losers always did. So I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt, for now.

    But he said withdraw will happen in 2011. He had damn well better stick to that, or manage it even sooner.

  107. 107
    geg6 says:

    @soonergrunt:

    This.

    I heard a speech unlike anything out of W’s mouth, with lots of changes from the Cheneyite strategy of the past. Some people can’t see the forest for the trees, are lost among nuances, can only focus on their own narrow issues, and have too little knowledge of history, politics, foreign policy, and military planning to listen to or understand what he said. I’m not thrilled, but I wouldn’t have been thrilled if he’d been rash and stupid enough to announce an immediate withdrawal starting tomorrow because I think that is vastly more stupid. And I offer as proof the fact that BOB espouses that as his preferred strategy on the matter. Case closed.

  108. 108
    Hunter Gathers says:

    @JMY:

    He gave his generals and the intelligence community 18 months to get the job done

    That was what stood out the most last night.

    “I’ll give you what you want sooner, but when 2011 rolls around, if things haven’t improved, it’s your ass on the line, General.”

  109. 109
    cleek says:

    I just don’t know what to think.

    i think Obama just guaranteed he’ll not get a second term.

    nobody wants this fucking war. not even the GOP – they’re just willing to assume a posture of maximal support as a way to beat up on Obama.

  110. 110

    @blahblahblah:

    They have already detonated the device you claim they don’t have. As proved by the seismological data. I’m sorry you don’t like that fact, but they’ve got nukes and you’ve got sand all over your hair.

    Having a bomb that explodes isn’t the same as a deliverable nuclear weapon. What part of that do you not understand. Do you NOT think China wouldn’t step in at that point?

  111. 111
    Jamey says:

    I think Barry lost me with this one. I will be actively supporting and campaigning for more progressive/further left candidates.

  112. 112
    Rick Taylor says:

    Well, I see the community here is just as focused as the rest of the media on discussing the pros and cons of the 30,000 number, as if that was the entire speech.

    It was not. Did nobody else hear the speech I heard? I heard an entire new approach to foreign policy being laid out.

    I disagree that this was an “entirely new” approach to foreign policy. It’s new in the sense that we haven’t seen it for nearly a decade, and I’ll admit, after living through the lunatic Bush years, having the President actually lay out our goals in a way I can understand is undeniably refreshing. But really, laying out our foreign policy interests and how we’re defending them is what I think of as foreign policy realism. It was the doctrine we held through the Vietnam war, and that both parties including the Republican party adhered to, before they went crazy and had insane messianic visions of somehow democratizing the middle east by overthrowing the government of Iraq.

    So while I hope and believe a misguided policy carried out intelligently and responsibly will work out better (or at least less worse) than a misguided policy carried out incompetently, I don’t really expect a fundamentally different result in the end. I’d like to be proven wrong this time.

  113. 113
    geg6 says:

    I think Ackerman has an excellent analysis of the speech and the underlying thinking and strategy here:

    http://washingtonindependent.c.....fghanistan

  114. 114
    The Moar You Know says:

    Late to the party.

    Folks, here’s the deal. THERE IS NO GOVERNMENT IN AFGHANISTAN, AND THAT’S HOW THEY LIKE IT.

    We need to get out, and stay out, stop spending money we don’t have, lives we can’t afford to lose, and sticking our nose into other people’s business.

    A prediction: if Obama doesn’t have Bin Laden’s head on a platter by 2011, this decision will cost him and the Democrats the election cycle, period, end of story.

  115. 115
    Brick Oven Bill says:

    I will now translate Hunter Gathers:

    General, if you do not have twelve white unicorns delivered to Michelle so they can stand around her garden and entertain her by 2011, then it is your ass.

    These are your orders. The responsibility is yours General.

  116. 116
  117. 117
    Jamey says:

    BoB: I’m going to ask John to set up a Children’s Table for you to sit at during these chats.

  118. 118
    Jamey says:

    BoB: I’m going to ask John to set up a Children’s Table for you to sit at during these chats.

  119. 119
    Brick Oven Bill says:

    I’m going to set up a table for children who stutter.

  120. 120
    Kirk Spencer says:

    Setting aside for a moment whether increasing is good or not, I want to hammer the timeline issue. Specifically the complaints from the right that given a known deadline for leaving (depending on conditions on the ground), they can just sit back doing nothing till we’re gone. Just recruit, replenish, and plan.

    Bull.

    18 months – 24 to actually get significant forces out if we start at 18 – of nothing? So the local security (police and military) gets fully trained and prepared? The government gets to prove it can provide services, roads, hospitals and communications networks? It gets to work on dealing with the opium farms without AQ/Taliban money confusing the issue? Oh, and it gets to build security bases and communications and such without interference?

    And if it does, AQ/T expects to actually be able to be a THREAT?

    Ha.

    Rephrase if arguing with a right-winger. “Do you mean to say that if they do nothing, our guys will be worthless – can’t build, can’t train, can’t prepare? So you’re saying all government is worthless INCLUDING our military? OK, good to know.”

  121. 121
    bago says:

    I darkly wonder how much of this is appeasement to the “embedded” zealots, to prevent the possbility of a coup. Given that this is the most muscular of the second set of options, with the lower bound being complete withdrawl, by denying the rhetorical pressure of “cut-and-run”, but instead focusing the performance aspect back onto the military, you at least keep this country together. The power Cheney has in DC is absurd. Nobody questions the judgement of a man who got drunk and shot his friend in the face. He is “interviewed” and never questioned. He gets to shut down Union station and get awards from oil companies. Cheney owns so much of DC it’s scary.

  122. 122
    Rick Taylor says:

    It’s really is weird how things have evolved over the last few decades. Foreign policy realism, formerly associated with Republicans, is now almost the exclusive province of Democrats, as Republicans have taken on an insane version of American exceptionalism.

  123. 123
    gwangung says:

    Ah, yes. We’re proving the left is just as knowledgeable about the world and foreign policy as the wingnuts. The invicibility of ignorance is just as strong in these as in those.

  124. 124
    Sloegin says:

    President Obama is a very smart man.
    Robert McNamara was a very smart man.

    Wishful thinking, politics, and dice rolls. Don’t think the man is gonna roll a natural 20 anytime soon. One thing to look forward to, if he actually sticks to the 18 months and yanks everyone out after that, at least *something* will change.

    And the idea that our armed forces will ever ‘get’ OBL tho is ludicrous, this I knew from day one. Don’t believe it? Just go wiki “Pancho Villa”.

  125. 125
    Shawn in ShowMe says:

    i think Obama just guaranteed he’ll not get a second term.

    Yes, I can see how the man who averted Great Depression 2, ended two wars, closed Gitmo, and brought universal healthcare to the United States would be very unpopular.

  126. 126
    Rick Taylor says:

    Everybody’s most despised rightie supports Obama. From Sarah Palin, her concluding sentence: “As long as we’re in to win, and as long as troop level decisions are based on conditions on the ground and the advice of our military commanders, I support President Obama’s decision.”

    While she can’t resist getting in a dig for Obama taking time to think, when presumably he should have snapped to attention, saluted, and said “Yes sir!” when a general spoke, this is at least not as hypocritical as one might have expected. Presumably with her endorsement, it opens the gates for other conservatives to begrudgingly say something semi-nice about Obama.

  127. 127
    bago says:

    He was the man who was in charge of the staffing for the job of VP and picked himself. He has an executive resume a mile long and half of this town probably owes him their jobs. Don’t think he doesn’t have favors out there to call in.

  128. 128
    JMY says:

    Wait, so now Obama and Democrats are going to lose future elections because of this? When people who voted for him knew his position?

  129. 129
    bago says:

    @bago: And by that I meant Dick.

  130. 130
    Bill H says:

    It sounded to me like, instead of the middle ground, he went for both ends. He tried to flip a coin and get it to come up both heads and tails.

    That being said, there are things going on that were not in the speech. For instance an “Afghan Hands” program that commits military and civilian people, speaking the local languages, to 3-5 year stints of working with local Afghans in nation building. This is a program modelled on the “China Hand” program that preceeded and endured WW2 and was immensely useful. I know about this one because my nephew is in it; Corps of Engineers.

  131. 131
    Bill H says:

    And I am immensly proud of him. (No edit.)

  132. 132
    bago says:

    Where does Cheney live right now? It sure as fuck ain’t Wyoming.

  133. 133
    Mike in NC says:

    If Bin-Laden, or his skeletal remains, are found and literally figuratively shoved up in Dick Cheney’s ass face, I will immediately become more positive about the whole enterprise.

    Fixed

    Obama thinks he is one good reader.

    It’s all in the teleprompter, right BOB?

  134. 134
    bago says:

    @Bill H: You and me both.

  135. 135
    wilfred says:

    This review is now complete. And as Commander-in-Chief, I have determined that it is in our vital national interest to send an additional 30,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan. After 18 months, our troops will begin to come home.

    Begin to come home. Remember that. It could take years. Of course, nobody will ask what scenario could mean them staying forever, or even sending more.

    Victory is always right around the corner.

  136. 136
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    @Jamey:
    Q: Who to the left of Obama that would actually run against Big O in 2012 do you think would actually get elected in the general election?

    And, as a reply to your statement: I consider myself liberal, and yet I get this feeling I would have made the exact same decision as Obama.

    One other thing that isn’t being mentioned: Pulling troops out is hard, it it’s even harder when the territory is not very friendly. Would you want to be the last soldier left?

  137. 137
    maye says:

    @bago: McLean, VA 22101

  138. 138
    Hunter Gathers says:

    @Brick Oven Bill: I would remind you that is was The Great Petraeus and Good Soldier Stanley who requested the 12 white unicorns.
    They said they could win. Now prove it.

    It would be a shame if The Great Petraeus lost credibility in light of a failed strategy he personally created (COIN). Then he’d never lead your Magical Military Coup.

  139. 139
    gopher2b says:

    If we are truly going to pull troops out by 2011 then we should just pull out everyone now. This country has to commit to staying in a place like that for 50 years. This one, two, five year nonsense just ends in senseless deaths (of both innocent Afghanistan citizens and U.S. troops).

    That’s the conversation we need to have (and we never will).

  140. 140
    maye says:

    Who to the left of Obama that would actually run against Big O in 2012 do you think would actually get elected in the general election?

    and just like R Nader gave us GWB, whoever runs to the left of O in 2012 will give us Sarah Palin.

  141. 141
    bayville says:

    I don’t know what will happen Afghanistan, but it’s a safe bet Jonathan Schwarz is correct about what won’t happen in Oslo next week.

  142. 142
    geg6 says:

    @Hunter Gathers:

    It would be a shame if The Great Petraeus lost credibility in light of a failed strategy he personally created (COIN). Then he’d never lead your Magical Military Coup.

    Win.

  143. 143
    Corner Stone says:

    @Bill H:

    For instance an “Afghan Hands” program that commits military and civilian people, speaking the local languages, to 3-5 year stints of working with local Afghans in nation building.

    Who’s protecting the civilians? Would you suggest someone you know request joining this project?

  144. 144
    gopher2b says:

    @Kirk Spencer:

    It gets to work on dealing with the opium farms without AQ/Taliban money confusing the issue?

    Just imagine for a second how many problems would just go away if we legalized drugs.

    Ahh…..that was nice.

  145. 145
    Molly says:

    @Randy P: “It was not. Did nobody else hear the speech I heard? I heard an entire new approach to foreign policy being laid out.”

    Thank you.

  146. 146
    Corner Stone says:

    @Belafon (formerly anonevent):

    One other thing that isn’t being mentioned: Pulling troops out is hard, it it’s even harder when the territory is not very friendly. Would you want to be the last soldier left?

    Really? This is now a part of your argument?

  147. 147
    Corner Stone says:

    @wilfred:

    Victory is always right around the corner.

    And the next critical essential review of forces in-country is always 2 to 3 F.U.’s away.

  148. 148
    matoko_chan says:

    Oh Dr. Cole.
    No one gets 11-dimensional chess.
    Via Sully.

    I love the time line that Obama has proposed for withdrawing our troops from Afghanistan. Crafty. The neocons (McCain for one) are already saying that it gives comfort to the enemy, that they will just wait until we leave and then attack again. And the reason this is bad is what?
    I think the hope of the White House is that the Taliban will lay low. If the Taliban want to wait until we leave, perhaps there is time for the Afghans to train and begin to defend themselves. If the Taliban attacks, there are enough troops to counter their attacks and weaken them by attrition. A win/win for us.
    Obama is also telling the Afghans in the street that we are leaving, which hopefully will say to them that we are not their enemy, not their occupiers, and hopefully keep ordinary patriotic Afghans from joining the Taliban.
    Very cool.

    Yup, both opportunistic and exploitive. A true Machiavellian pragmatist.

    My personal preference would be for more American soljahs not to die. 800 have perished in the Graveyard of Empires so far.
    If I were CinC, I would also embed courageous videographers with the Afghan brigades…to bring the reality of the theater home to the American electorate. In future, the electorate needs to accept responsibility for real bloody destructive warfare on foreign soil. It is not a manichean fantasy of Team Christian vs Team Islam…..humans are suffering and dying.
    I liked this too.

    For what it’s worth, the Liberals I follow on Twitter are all howling about the speech. And, right now, Bill O’Reilly and Karl Rove are trashing the tone, the lack of detail, the focus on domestic policy, etc.
    In short, he pissed off everyone. And given the bag of garbage he was handed by the last Administration, that means he hit a home run.

    and this is very perceptive…

    I think his message was very clear – to the military. They wanted more – they got it – faster than they asked for. He has now placed the full burden of victory or defeat at the hands of McChrystal and Petraeus, for he has set a timeline within his term of deciding their fates regarding success or failure – something that is rarely done in presidential politics. Bravo!
    As for the perpetual war complex – he’s now given them their termination papers and boy do they not like it! Look at our conservative war hawks. Scowling. Look at the blowhard “former military commanders” on TV – boy they don’t like it! Deadlines! Oooh – scary – send wrong message. Even Cheney thinks it’s “weakness”.
    Legacy is at stake! Divert attention! And the media – Politico in particular – follows like the good microphone Zombies they are!
    Well, I get it. And the President gets it. He’s outta there, but he’s going for the Hail Mary. If the military doesn’t deliver, he’s got the political cover to say “game over”.

    What did O say when he was campaigning?
    He would listen to the generals.
    He would change focus to Afghanistan.
    Seems like that is what he is doing.

  149. 149
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @Randy P:

    What he said.

    After the speech last night I pulled my dog-eared copy of Ahmed Rashid’s book Descent into Chaos and skimmed it as a refresher. A couple of things struck me.

    1 – The Taliban is the symptom of a disease, not the disease itself. The disease is the Afghan warlords. Their rapacity and malfeasance was the original reason why the Taliban were able to take over in the 90s, and they are the reason why the Taliban have come back today. The reason for us finally putting a non-trivial force into Afghanistan is to fill the power vacumn which allows the warlords to take over and rape the population of Afghanistan. There are plenty of Afghans who since 2002 have been begging and pleading with us to stop supporting the warlords, and economy of force was the biggest reason why we didn’t listen to them. Maybe now we can listen to them. Our biggest problem is going to be making sure that the Karzai govt isn’t just the biggest, baddest warlord group of all. We don’t really control that – it is a roll of the dice.

    2 – The national interests of the US and the world as a whole are at risk because of the instability of the Pakistan govt, their regional problems, and the different factions within that country which advocate different approaches to dealing with those problems. If we pull out immediately and the Taliban sweep Afghanistan, our problem won’t so much be with the Taliban itself, as it will be with the hardline pro-jihad faction in the ISI and Army of Pakistan.

    Their strategy of backing the Taliban will be completely vindicated and they will triumph over their more liberal opponents within the govt & military of Pakistan. As policy debates within the Pakistan govt and miliary swing in their favor, we should expect more of the same – most certainly in Kashmir, and probably in Central Asia as well, as they are tempted to apply a proven strategy that works.

  150. 150
    Brick Oven Bill says:

    Petraeus cut a deal with Bush to get his fourth star. Petraeus is a sell-out. You cannot defeat the ideology of Islam unless you are willing to exterminate populations.

    We have not ‘won’ in Iraq. As soon as we leave, either as prompted by a disintegration of the currency, or rational debate, the biggest baddest Muslim will take control.

    These are retarded wars.

    Obama is now Commander in Chief. These are his decisions. He is now in a grown-up job.

  151. 151
    Molly says:

    @Brick Oven Bill: “This Commander in Chief thinks that, through his magical reading skills, he can biochemically transform the Afghan people and remove 20,000 years of nomadic-environment DNA –programming.”

    No, BOB, that’s the previous administration. Keep up.

    I don’t agree with your pseudo-science, crack-induced genetic ramblings, but there is one truth here. Afghan society is still tribal at the core. Anyone with a brain, including Obama, doesn’t think we’re going to change the realities of that and somehow unite all of Afghanistan under the banner of freedom and democracy. That’s the neocon position anyone with 2 brain cells realizes is a pipe dream.

  152. 152
    Jen R says:

    @pk:

    I think the only thing that will stop America from fighting is when the choice is either between paying for food or paying fo war.

    I think you’re an optimist. Right now the choice is between paying for war and paying for health care, infrastructure, jobs, and education. War it is, baby! America, fuck yeah!

  153. 153
    AkaDad says:

    I’ll tell you what I think. If Liberals, like myself, were running the country over the last 60 years, we wouldn’t be in this mess.

  154. 154
    2th&nayle says:

    @LITBMueller: I think your comments are much closer to the realities of what Obama is facing than a simple ‘stay vs leave’ Afghanistan scenario. The complexities of this quagmire are multi-level chess personified, and it was designed to be so by Bushco. Getting out of Iraq or Afghanistan either one will be no easy trick, and getting out of both places will be damn near impossible without turning over the Middle East apple cart. Such is the folly of the two front war, and the neo-cons knew this from the get go. The incompetence of the occupation and the dismantling of the Iragi army was intended to do just what it did. It was a feature, not a bug. Not dealing with OBL when they had the chance and leaving Afghanistan half-assed finished to invade Iraq was not bad judgement. It was intended to prolong the conflict for as long as possible, with the ultimate goal of staying there indefinitely. And furthermore, I believe that the neo-cons never intended to make any particular effort to win the 2008 election, so as to leave this mess in the hands of the Democrats in order to make them take ownership. That’s why they ran McCain in the first place. He was hated by the Republican base and was considered expendable. If he lost, no biggie; if he managed to pull out the win, well that was just gravy. If he died in office, well then they had the quintessential sock puppet waiting in the wings.
    Think I’m delusional? Maybe. But I hardly see how anyone could read the PNAC and not think that they’ve gotten just want they wanted, and we’ll be damn lucky if this shit doesn’t turn nuclear before it’s over! Give the President a break; he’s gonna need it. For myself; I need a drink.

  155. 155
    Ron says:

    I (like many others) think Obama had to choose from several options, none of which were good, because the Bush admin botched Afghanistan so badly it makes Iraq look like a smoothly run war. I don’t envy him, and I wouldn’t want to have taken his job in the middle of 2 poorly run wars and an economy in the tank. I still have somewhat mixed feelings about sending more troops, but I was heartened by the idea of a timeline as opposed to some open-ended commitment that could go forever. In the end, I think he probably made the decision that he thought was for the best.

    I honestly do not understand the left’s outrage at this. He campaigned on doing exactly what he’s doing. Don’t like it? That’s fine, but this “How can he do this and piss on his base?” comments are just bizarre. He’s doing what a president is supposed to do. He considered the situation, considered his options, talked to his generals and to his national security team, and came to a decision. He should NOT be making this decision based on what anybody’s political views are.

  156. 156
    Autboy says:

    historical perspective: it was not a pretty day when we finally pulled out of Saigon…but we didn’t perish from weakness or shame then as the hawks of that day said we would… we cannot salvage Afghanistan (or Iraq) so all of this is just temporizing…takes major guts to take the long view…what would any of us have done in POTUS shoes? honestly

  157. 157
    Molly says:

    @ThatLeftTurnInABQ: “After the speech last night I pulled my dog-eared copy of Ahmed Rashid’s book Descent into Chaos and skimmed it as a refresher.”

    I pulled out Taliban. Both of these books are excellent reads for anyone who wants to dig deeper into the region.

  158. 158
    blahblahblah says:

    napolean

    Hey its a full blown neocon bed wetter.

    Go screw. And your so-called counterpoint is based on a counterfactual strawman.

    arguingwithsignposts:

    Having a bomb that explodes isn’t the same as a deliverable nuclear weapon. What part of that do you not understand. Do you NOT think China wouldn’t step in at that point?

    Please re-read this comment:

    http://www.balloon-juice.com/?.....nt-1464725

    Did I not say that I understood that part of your point? Yes I did. However, I disagree with your assessment. And the reason is that your assessment is based purely on speculation. You don’t think they can weaponized their current test nuclear arsenal. You don’t think their ICBM program is functional. But you don’t know.

    One thing I DO know is that seismological data. You can argue about North Korea’s intentions and capability all you like. But you cannot ignore that data. For it is verified.

    As for China: Wonderful place. Fascinating people. And boy are they pissed off at us right now. They didn’t like lending us a $trillion only to have us pay them back in devalued dollars. I think they’ll have some payback arranged.

  159. 159
    Corner Stone says:

    @Seanly:

    Kyl was re-writing history by claiming many on the Left opposed the Afghanistan conflict.

    Well, I’m on the Left and I opposed going into Afghanistan.
    Myself == Many but I know we existed.

  160. 160
    Corner Stone says:

    @arguingwithsignposts:

    If you think that region is destabilized now, wait until the Taliban gets nuclear weapons and a base right next to India.

    We. Do. Not. Want. That.

    The ninjas. Don’t let the ninjas get you.

  161. 161
    Corner Stone says:

    @Ned Ludd:

    Also, the withdrawal is only “a goal“. But there will be a “robust set of benchmarks“, which at this point no one can describe.

    Yeah but, as long as they are “robust” then that’s good enough for me!
    I mean hell, *everyone* knows what “robust” means, amirite?

  162. 162
    bago says:

    @maye: Which is why he’s closing down Union Station every other week for an energy executive circle jerk.

  163. 163
    Svensker says:

    @pk:

    Never any price to be paid by the general public. No enemy has ever bombed a single American city. No American child has ever been in any danger because of an enemy plane flying overhead. The media will never show the ugliness of war. So no lesson is ever learnt.
    I think the only thing that will stop America from fighting is when the choice is either between paying for food or paying fo war.

    The price was felt eventually for Vietnam, but we have forgotten that lesson. And 9/11 was payback for our meddling, but you’re not a Serious Person if you say that, so that lesson was kept from most people. Otherwise, yes, what you said.

  164. 164
    Wilf says:

    All I know is that whatever happens, it’ll be good news for conservatives.

  165. 165
    Brick Oven Bill says:

    Ron says:

    “I was heartened by the idea of a timeline as opposed to some open-ended commitment that could go forever.”

    Ron is pretty naïve. Ron needs to understand that this President swims in the sea of False Rhetoric, and thinks this is his gift. ‘Harry, I have a gift.’ Consider this empty statement that Ron wants to hear as a deadline:

    “But taken together, these additional American and international troops will allow us to accelerate handing over responsibility to Afghan forces, and allow us to begin the transfer of our forces out of Afghanistan in July of 2011.”

    To ‘allow us to begin the transfer’ means nothing. It is like ‘saving or creating jobs’. Aren’t we already supposed to be out of Iraq?

  166. 166
    Ed Drone says:

    @PaulW:

    We need to be doing more to cut off supplies of weapons to the Taliban: just who the hell is funding these jerks in the first place?

    1. The mafia. The poppy fields yield a cash crop that buys the weapons that support attacks by the Taliban on outsiders. By being the outsiders, we offer our soldiers to the gods of supply and demand for drugs. Not that leaving would change this system, but at least we wouldn’t be losing young men and women to pay for someone’s next high.

    2. Saudi & Yemeni & other oil kingdoms where Islam is the major religion. Even if most Muslims in those countries aren’t radical Islamists, enough are, and some of the most radical have access to scads of cash from the US that can be sent to co-radical-religionists to fight the influence of the West (that’s us) in Muslim countries. So our dependence on oil is funding the people who hate us. Remember, Osama bin Laden is Saudi upper-class by birth, and has many friends in the oligarchies of oil who are willing to drive us out of that part of the world.

    3. Other players with reason to upset US plans and aspirations. I wouldn’t be surprised that Iran and Russia and Kazakhstan and not a few others do “their bit” to keep us off balance. As the old Appalachian woman said as her husband fought the bear, “Go it, husband! Go it, bear!”

    So that’s where the funding comes from, it seems to me. In broad terms, anyway.

    As for the strategy we are pursuing, I don’t think Obama had that much choice. We haven’t heard accusations of “bugging out,” but if he had said, “We need to leave, ASAP!” you know those accusations and pundipronouncements and TV ads would be instantaneously evident. You know it.

    And if he had said we were staying indefinitely, you know the majority of Democrats would have had conniptions and coronaries, followed by sniping from both sides (that the right whingers will snipe is a given).

    Personally, I think he should have resisted adding the troops, and just announced the departure target, since I do not think it is a good idea to put our fate into the hands of those whose motives are not ours. If we stay and keep pouring money by the boot-full into the Afghani and Pakistani governments, there is little incentive for those folks to change their ways. If we offer bodies for the war machine and money to grease the palms, those who get the grease will not work hard to improve the situation.

    I had the same feeling when George Bush said, “We’ll stand down when they stand up,” since it was in the interests of too many in Iraq to avoid standing up.

    Ed

  167. 167
    matoko_chan says:

    We have not ‘won’ in Iraq. As soon as we leave, either as prompted by a disintegration of the currency, or rational debate, the biggest baddest Muslim will take control.

    This is the truest thing BoB has ever said….
    IPOF, dar ul Islam kicked America’s fat white christian ass in Iraq.
    Iraq is now another islamic state, with shariah law in their constitution, and is returning to steady state sectarian violence and persecution of minorities…….at a cost in blood and treasure of almost 5000 american soljahs and a trillion dollars of debt.
    The Iraqis declared a national holiday the day american troops left their cities.
    The “surge” is an epic fail– Iraqis still can’t hold elections.
    I think GW’s plan to turn Iraq into a tame little brown clone American is a wipe.

    It is like a reverse cold war– only instead of outspending the sovs in warfighting mecha, dar ul Islam has been bleeding the US white in futile attempts to terraform islamic cultures in an endless game of whack-a-mole.
    I dont think Obama is going to play that game.
    ;)

  168. 168

    @Randy P:

    Word. Please enter my subscription to your newsletter.

  169. 169
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @wilfred:

    Victory is always right around the corner.

    For the last 50 years..

    It is incredible to me that decade after decade, otherwise relatively intelligent people continue to fall for the it. There’s always a good reason for permawar. One more pointless military objective, one more false peace, one more liberal humanitarian mission, one more mushroom cloud avoided, one more domino effect averted, one more compelling “what if” that can only be solved by borrowing more money and giving it to the warmakers.

    We are all neocons now.

  170. 170
    Corner Stone says:

    @matoko_chan:

    Obama is also telling the Afghans in the street that we are leaving, which hopefully will say to them that we are not their enemy, not their occupiers, and hopefully keep ordinary patriotic Afghans from joining the Taliban.
    Very cool.

    As always, Sully is a buffoon and you continue to fail at logic if you agree with this statement you quoted.
    The “Afghans in the street” don’t need to be told anything, they see the truth with their own eyes, unlike some of us in the USA. They see the troops in their country, they see the war every day. And when they see more troops in their country do you think they will shrug their shoulders and say, “Meh. They needed more to leave. Makes sense to me.”
    As a rational adult, what would you believe?

  171. 171
    debbie says:

    I don’t see what other choice Obama had. This planet can’t take another half-finished war.

    There’s no way Al Queda can be left in place, considering their mission is to destroy us. Nor is there any way to co-exist with the Taliban. They’ve already spread into Pakistan, and now they’re bombing boys’ as well as girls’ schools. How does anyone live with that kind of thing going on? And who’s to say they won’t try to expand even further?

    McCain’s an utter hypocrite. Last week, he insisted the war could be won in 12 to 18 months if troops were sent. That’s basically what the timeline is for. He’s got no business complaining (though I know that never stops him).

    It’s absurd to say the enemy will just hide until we leave. They’re already doing that. If they’re going to be hiding, then let them do so while we’re training the Afghanis to fight them and providing assistance in education and development. That’s how you leave a country stronger than you found it.

    I didn’t hear all of the speech, but from what I’ve read, Obama didn’t come down hard enough on Karzai. He should have named him, and conditioned further financial and military support on him getting his government cleaned up.

    I also would have liked more direct language, like noting that there are people in America who for political expediency undermine the goal of success in Afghanistan. In fact, I think he should have said that they’re the ones who aren’t patriotic.

  172. 172
    Corner Stone says:

    @debbie:

    There’s no way Al Queda can be left in place, considering their mission is to destroy us.

    My mission is to marry Salma Hayek.
    I think both missions have about the same probability of success.
    The number of “100 AQ in Afghanistan” has been tossed around mightily the last three months or so. I have no way to prove or disprove that number, but if it is incorrect by even a factor of 3 – you’re going to argue occuppying Afghanistan is the answer to their presence there?

  173. 173
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    @Corner Stone: I’m not arguing that this is why you keep troops there. I’m arguing that this is one of the reasons you don’t just immediately begin pulling out troops. To ensure their safety, you have to at a minimum set up a system where the last troops are not getting shot at, preferably a stable region.

  174. 174
    matoko_chan says:

    Cornerstone, this is an 11-dimensional chess move.
    The Arab street is a superset of the Afghan street, and you had better believe they are all lissening.
    Right now, urban Afghanis want continued troop presence, and rural Afghanis want us to gtfo.
    O is fulfilling his campaign promises– listening to the generals and focusing on Afghanistan.
    But…..he is implementing those goals in a way that is making the neocon revanchists and christianist cretins scream like cats dipped in turpentine.
    Its genius.
    Notice already the word “victory” has morphed into “success” in teabagger demogogue vocabulary.

    But you are right more troops is not a good thing…..the Bush Doctrine could never succeed……hearts and minds can never be won when the hearts and minds of extended kinship groups and families are being splattered across the landscape.

  175. 175
    NobodySpecial says:

    Whatever you think of the decision, done bun, can’t be undone.

    So grab a mop. I’m yelling at Congress twice as hard.

  176. 176
    wilfred says:

    historical perspective: it was not a pretty day when we finally pulled out of Saigon…but we didn’t perish from weakness or shame then as the hawks of that day said we would

    Yeah, ok, but the whole region did descend into communist dominos. Forever.

  177. 177
    wilfred says:

    The complexities of this quagmire are multi-level chess personified, and it was designed to be so by Bushco.

    See Great, Alexander the: Gordian Knot.

  178. 178

    […] with John Cole on this one: “I just don’t know what to think.” Is it any wonder that so many people are so […]

  179. 179
    matoko_chan says:

    Obama is also telling the Afghans in the street that we are leaving, which hopefully will say to them that we are not their enemy, not their occupiers, and hopefully keep ordinary patriotic Afghans from joining the Taliban.
    Very cool.

    and that wasn’t Sully…..it was a reader.
    Sully intially was wringing his hands over the whole thing…
    Who do you think heard that speech?
    Was it translated to urdu and pashtun and broadcast in country?
    lol…how many Afghanis have tvs and radios?
    I think not the Afghan street, the Arab street was Obama’s target audience.
    al-Jazeerah was the target.
    ;)

  180. 180
    soonergrunt says:

    @geg6: I am also not overly thrilled with the President’s speech. It means I’ll be going back. I had hoped to retire when my current enlistment is up in 2012, but it looks like I might have to go before then. The addition of troops now usually means the rest of us have our deployment schedules bumped up.

  181. 181
    wilfred says:

    Was it translated to urdu and pashtun and broadcast in country?

    Certainly went out on VOA Dari, Pashto and Urdu

    http://www.voanews.com/pashto/

    All over BBC Arabic, al Jazeera and Press TV.

    That doesn’t mean anybody believes a word of it, of course.

  182. 182
    matoko_chan says:

    The complexities of this quagmire are multi-level chess personified, and it was designed to be so by Bushco.

    Pardon, but that is false.
    Bush believed he was prosecuting a Gog/Magog war in MENA, like he told Chirac. Rumsfeld and Cheney capped his briefing slides with bible quotes to manipulate.
    Bush was just another christianist cretin that believed he was bringing teh Good Word to some little brown people.
    Rumsfeld and Cheney were his rasputins.

  183. 183
    soonergrunt says:

    @matoko_chan:

    I think not the Afghan street, the Arab street was Obama’s target audience.
    al-Jazeerah was the target.

    This.

  184. 184
    matoko_chan says:

    Certainly went out on VOA Dari, Pashto and Urdu

    then the Street heard the message…..those citizens with access at least.
    ;)
    If you listen to any speech Obama makes that has a MENA audience, notice he never says the word “democracy”.
    GW made democracy into a dirty word in MENA.

  185. 185
    Corner Stone says:

    @matoko_chan:

    and that wasn’t Sully…..it was a reader.

    Thanks for the clarification. I didn’t click through and just assumed it was Sully Via Sully.

    However, this:

    Who do you think heard that speech?
    Was it translated to urdu and pashtun and broadcast in country?
    lol…how many Afghanis have tvs and radios?
    I think not the Afghan street, the Arab street was Obama’s target audience.
    al-Jazeerah was the target.
    ;)

    Is ridiculous.

  186. 186
    The Raven says:

    I think the Afghanis, and especially the women of Afghanistan, are so screwed, and not in a good way. That war was lost when Bush & Rumsfeld decided to fight a war in Iraq instead, abandoning the pursuit of Osama bin Laden (read the Senate report) and, though the Afghani need help, it doesn’t seem to be the kind of help US troops can provide.

    We corvids have had many good meals there. Croak!

  187. 187
    Corner Stone says:

    @Belafon (formerly anonevent):

    you have to at a minimum set up a system where the last troops are not getting shot at,

    As opposed to every day now, where they *are* getting shot at?

  188. 188
    matoko_chan says:

    Is ridiculous.

    why Cornerstone?
    Who do you think was O’s target audience?
    Or audiences?

  189. 189
    2th&nayle says:

    @matoko_chan: Oh yes, I agree wholeheartedly. But had I meant George W. Bush exclusively, that is what I would have said. I used the term Bushco as more of a catch-all brand for that whole gang of rightwing, shitweasel, chicken hawks that were responsible for starting that whole mess.

  190. 190
    woody says:

    I agree with those who say Obama never promised anything except to MORE enthusiastically prosecute the occupation/”liberation” of Afghanistan.

    I am not outraged by Obama; I am outraged at the folks who so conveniently forget/ignore their willingness to overlook this inconvenient truth when it suited them.

    I am not disappointed with Obama in the least because I never had the faintest hope that he would accomplish very much–if anything, really–to begin with. He’s a company man. He’s following orders. It was never gonna be any other kinda way.

    What, you thought someone who owes his present pre-eminence to the status quo would challenge it?

    hmm…

  191. 191
    benalbanach says:

    There will be no leaving of Afghanistan. There may be the “beginning” of withdrawl but the establishment of ‘permanent-bases’ suggests that the US wants to be there as long as there is oil in the region.

  192. 192
    matoko_chan says:

    2th&nayle…..I just don’t think it was designed as a quagmire….it wasn’t designed as anything…..it was the emergent result of greed, powerlust, post 9/11 panic, and reactionary Fear of the Other and christianist fantasies.

  193. 193
    Elie says:

    Ron upthread

    Agree with your assessment.

    Have no idea what will happen of course.

    For those who wanted to pull out, how much faster could we do it than 18 months anyway?

    Also, wouldnt a withdrawal perhaps require an initial “surge” to prepare the Afghans and others for our departure. Were you all thinking we would just do the burn the bridges and push the helicopters off the flight deck and evacuate people off the roofs of the embassy like we saw in the pictures of the fall of Saigon in Vietnam?

    The left is off in the woods somewhere sniffing themselves. The right is doing the same. The hysteria I frankly just do not understand. What kind of solution did anyone expect from this Gordian knot?

    Last night I think he framed this as best as could be framed, balancing the need to exit, but in an orderly, not chased out fashion – which is important. Would the left want us to just skeddaddle like we are scaredy cats, abandoing hardware and positions without planning or thought? Really? Did the right think that we would committ to an unending situation pouring unconstrained resources into a tribal mine field forever? Both are just plain nuts.

    I am “happy” with the approach, if such a term can be used for this. I also believe that most of the American people will support it as well.

  194. 194
    georgia pig says:

    @soonergrunt: That’s the worst part, isn’t it? I was struck by the looks on the faces of some of the cadets during the speech. So young. They didn’t appear to disagree or be outraged, but I sensed they knew this was bad news for at least some of them. I’ve been rereading Ambrose’s Wild Blue, it made me think of the passages in which McGovern recalls AAF briefings in which the target of the day is announced as Vienna, Ploesti or some other lower level of hell.

  195. 195
    LITBMueller says:

    @2th&nayle: Exactly. And from there, we have to consider “peak oil” and how control of natural resources (oil, natural gas….water!) will be the geo-politics of the not-so-distant future. Scary stuff!

  196. 196
    Corner Stone says:

    @matoko_chan: It’s ridiculous because it is the exact same “logic” George Friedman of StratFor claimed for the Bush Admin’s real reason to invade Iraq. They were sending “The Arab Street” a message – specifically Saudi Arabia – to clean up their house or they might force the USA to give them a little smackin’ too.
    Let’s imagine your supposition is correct. The Arab Street has heard the speech. It tells them what exactly that they do not hear from Admin officials on weekly calls?
    That we’re not christian occuppiers invading a foregin muslim land? Hmmm
    That we’ll insert more troops and work to build up the Afghani army and police so we can hand over control in the near to medium term?
    That we’re not giving them a blank check any longer?

    As for al-Jazeerah, you seem to think that after this speech they are going to stop showing the dozens of civilians killed by Predator strikes? That they are going to see the light about what exactly?
    If they have all been lissening, then what did they hear that they give a shit about?

  197. 197
    Corner Stone says:

    @Will: Shorter Oliver Willis:
    Afghanistan’s The Good War!

  198. 198
    Bill H says:

    @Corner Stone:
    Well, my nephew is in it.

    Yes, I would recommend it. If I were not 67 years old with Parkinson’s Disease, I would join it. Some people think that helping others is worth risking your own life. I risked my life in defense of my country in the North Atlantic in submarines during the Cold War, which in that venue was not all of that “cold” in terms of war but was colder than hell in temperature.

    To have a chance as an engineer to do engineering on a scale that will change the lives of an entire people… Wow. I actually envy him, and would risk my life to do that in a heartbeat.

  199. 199
    Corner Stone says:

    @geg6:

    I think Ackerman has an excellent analysis of the speech and the underlying thinking and strategy here:

    Spencer Ackerman?

    He initially supported the Iraq War, but became disillusioned and in 2004 started a blog on The New Republic website called Iraq’d which chronicled the dilemma of pro-war liberals.

  200. 200
    Corner Stone says:

    @Bill H:

    Well, my nephew is in it.

    Yes, I would recommend it. If I were not 67 years old with Parkinson’s Disease, I would join it. Some people think that helping others is worth risking your own life. I risked my life in defense of my country in the North Atlantic in submarines during the Cold War, which in that venue was not all of that “cold” in terms of war but was colder than hell in temperature.

    To have a chance as an engineer to do engineering on a scale that will change the lives of an entire people… Wow. I actually envy him, and would risk my life to do that in a heartbeat.

    Thanks for the response.
    I would only disagree to a certain point. I agree with you that helping others, especially on such a possible scale, is a powerful goal. Where I would disagree with you is in the realistic possibility that those efforts can come to fruition, and can in fact be realized. Instead of more cannon fodder for something I honestly believe will not have the appropriate foundations to succeed. Is it noble or worthy to risk it all? Is it worth it to jump over a cliff to try and catch a person who fell?

  201. 201
    Elie says:

    geg6

    Also agree with your post way upthread.

    Who can be thrilled? It is reality and this is the only rational approach to the choices —

  202. 202
    2th&nayle says:

    @matoko_chan: Well, I agree that all of those elements were in play. But considering the way the administration completely disregarded the counsel of virtually all military and intelligence advisors, foreign and domestic, as well as the known history of 19th and 20th century attempts to occupy either country, I just can’t see any other excuse for fucking up the way they did except that it was intentional. Hell, even with my meager knowledge of mid-eastern history, and from the lessons learned from trying to fight a guerilla war with conventional troops in Viet Nam, I knew this occupation was doomed. I just gotta believe they had to have some idea what a boondoggle it would turn into. But maybe I’m giving them too much credit. Either way, I think the butcher’s bill for this adventure is far from paid.

  203. 203
    Corner Stone says:

    David Sedney, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Central Asia, described it this way:

    “The ultimate goal is to have Afghanistan be sovereign country that can stay in charge of its own security.” The summer of 2011 isn’t a necessarily time where we can expect to be at this ultimate goal. In fact, we might not be particularly close to it. But at the least, hopefully … we’ll be at a point where. “based on the conditions today, based upon the inputs that we’re putting in over the coming months, we have a very good expectation … that the Afghans will be ready to start assuming this lead responsibility, and allow our troops to start coming home as the President said”.

    Wait a minute…what’s that I smell?? Ponies? It’s PONIES!!
    Yay!

    From a guest blogger at
    Attackerman

  204. 204
    Elie says:

    RandyP @ 116

    YES!!

  205. 205
    2th&nayle says:

    @wilfred: Good point! And we know how ole Alex solved that one. Not a pleasant thought.

  206. 206
    flukebucket says:

    GW made democracy into a dirty word in MENA.

    How about “whiskey” and “sexy”?

  207. 207
    SGEW says:

    Re, the Afghanistan speech; a single impression worthy of note:

    How can you speak for so long, with such nuance and with such breadth, without so much as referencing civilian casualties a single time (besides the events of September the 11th)? The figure in Afghanistan is currently in the thousands (at minimum), and is worth a mention, I would imagine.

    The American troops are not, in fact, paying the highest sacrifice. It’s a volunteer army, after all; local civilian populations whose weddings are bombed have no such agency (as it were).

  208. 208
    Bill H says:

    @Corner Stone:

    Where I would disagree with you is in the realistic possibility that those efforts can come to fruition, and can in fact be realized.

    Some can, some can’t. Doesn’t mean it isn’t worth trying, and certainly none will be realized if the attempt is not even made.

    The amount of good that is being done in places like Sudan and Congo is amazing, and people are losing their lives in the process. Those nations are not being changed in the process, no, but peoples’ lives are being changed for the better. The lives lost in the process are not in vain.

  209. 209
    Elie says:

    SGEW

    I respect your point and the importance of how the murder of civilians in the machine of war has made this situation even more horrible.

    That said, how would highlighting such horrible reality in his speech made his argument stronger? Where would he have inserted it?

    Instead, he made an appeal to our higher values to support justifying his exit strategy. How would it have been better to say, “we also need to get out because we are just murdering these poor people”.

    Seriously, I hear your larger and factually correct point, but I can in no way imagine how that would have worked in this speech.

  210. 210
    Comrade Luke says:

    Whatever you do, don’t question the decision, because…you know…he ran on this.

    /sarcasm

  211. 211
    Corner Stone says:

    @Bill H:

    The amount of good that is being done in places like Sudan and Congo is amazing, and people are losing their lives in the process.

    Apples and oranges.

  212. 212
    wilfred says:

    “If the United States wants to improve its image in the Islamic world,” he said, “it should stop killing Muslims.”

    Now there’s an idea. The numbers are interesting:

    http://walt.foreignpolicy.com/.....t_30_years

  213. 213
    debbie says:

    @Corner Stone:

    The number of “100 AQ in Afghanistan” has been tossed around mightily the last three months or so. I have no way to prove or disprove that number, but if it is incorrect by even a factor of 3 – you’re going to argue occuppying Afghanistan is the answer to their presence there?

    No, but getting rid of the AQ presence is definitely part of the solution. Certainly more so than just upping and leaving.

    Plus, I think Obama’s smart enough to change strategy if the plan proves ineffective. He won’t stubbornly cling to his “doctrine” the way Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld did for so long.

  214. 214
    pk says:

    The price was felt eventually for Vietnam, but we have forgotten that lesson. And 9/11 was payback for our meddling, but you’re not a Serious Person if you say that, so that lesson was kept from most people.

    9/11 was an act of terrorism and not a direct result of any particular war. It was partly a consequence of constant interference in the Middle East and blind support of israel. It would have been smarter to deal with 9/11 as a terrorist act, not as an act of war and use it to act out war mongering fantasies.
    My point is that the American people have never experienced war the way other people have. It’s very convenient to be geographically isolated and have a powerful army which you can periodically send off to fight and then glorify at home. If Americans were to experience war the way the Iraqis or Afganis do, then they would be screaming for peace.
    There was no lesson learnt from 9/11, other than that we are a great and glorious people who savages hate and envy for our freedoms.

  215. 215
    matoko_chan says:

    fiskin time…

    It’s ridiculous because it is the exact same “logic” George Friedman of StratFor claimed for the Bush Admin’s real reason to invade Iraq.

    False equivalence. Bush was trying to bully the Street into “behaving”. Obama is saying, hey, Bush effed up and we are going to gtfo….and if you Talis lay low for 2-3 years and let us build up an Afghan National Army, you can have the whole shooting match.

    As for al-Jazeerah, you seem to think that after this speech they are going to stop showing the dozens of civilians killed by Predator strikes?

    Nope. I think al-Jazeerha should show more. I think the ‘Merican electorate should get to see that footage too. Every night.
    We meddled, Cornerstone.
    We ripped up the fabric of society and culture in Iraq and Afghanistan and now we are bitching about the Reavers that are coming through the tears to attack us.
    Americans need to see what 5000 soldier lives and a trillion dollars bought in Iraq, and they need to OWN Bush’s little abortion in the Graveyard of Empires. They need to see our soljahs bleeding and dying on the small screen and civilians too. This isn’t a fantasy videogame war between two cultures just because it is fought on foreign soil. There are 4, 5 generations in Afghanistan that know nothing but war….the Russians were there for twenty years….
    Humans are suffering and dying.
    One of them could be your son.

  216. 216
    Jay in Oregon says:

    I just don’t know what to think.

    …this is good news for John McCain?

    (Seriously, 200+ comments and no one went there yet?)

  217. 217
    matoko_chan says:

    There was no lesson learnt from 9/11, other than that we are a great and glorious people who savages hate and envy for our freedoms.

    lol.
    Operation Ajax and the Tyrant Shah, those are just two of Big White Christian Bwana’s chickens that came home to roost.
    The British Raj, colonialism, imperialism, missionariism, the British post WWII partion of Arab states into perpetual internal sectarian warfare….
    lol, America was built on the backs of black slaves on land stolen from red men….great and glorious indeed.

    Teacher: Earth-That-Was could no longer sustain our numbers, we were so many. We found a new solar system, dozens of planets and hundreds of moons. Each one terraformed, a process taking decades, to support human life, to be new Earths. The Central Planets formed the Alliance. Ruled by an interplanetary parliament, the Alliance was a beacon of civilization. The savage outer planets were not so enlightened and refused Alliance control. The war was devastating, but the Alliance’s victory over the Independents ensured a safer universe. And now everyone can enjoy the comfort and enlightenment of our civilization.
    Young River: People don’t like to be meddled with. We tell them what to do, what to think, don’t run, don’t walk. We’re in their homes and in their heads and we haven’t the right. We’re meddlesome.

    America has turned MENA into a Reaver factory.
    And it won’t stop until we gtfo.

  218. 218
    Anne Laurie says:

    @beltane:

    If Bin-Laden, or his skeletal remains, are found and figuratively shoved in Dick Cheney’s face, I will immediately become more positive about the whole enterprise.

    Of course, that assumes that Bin-Laden’s skeletal remains aren’t stored in Cheney’s notorious man-sized safe already. Sure, Dubya would’ve paraded them around the country on a ‘victory tour’, but Darth Cheney would never waste such a valuable chip in his megacorporate masters’ Long Game. My opinion is that we’ll never know for certain what happened to Old Dirty Bin-Laden, so he can be used as a boogeymonster for the next twenty years at least.

    @soonergrunt:

    I am also not overly thrilled with the President’s speech. It means I’ll be going back. I had hoped to retire when my current enlistment is up in 2012, but it looks like I might have to go before then.

    This, I am genuinely sorry to hear. I’ll be praying for you and your fellows, which of course does you no good whatsoever IRL.

  219. 219
    Corner Stone says:

    From the speech:

    In the past, we too often defined our relationship with Pakistan narrowly. Those days are over. Moving forward, we are committed to a partnership with Pakistan that is built on a foundation of mutual interests, mutual respect, and mutual trust. We will strengthen Pakistan’s capacity to target those groups that threaten our countries, and have made it clear that we cannot tolerate a safe-haven for terrorists whose location is known, and whose intentions are clear. America is also providing substantial resources to support Pakistan’s democracy and development. We are the largest international supporter for those Pakistanis displaced by the fighting. And going forward, the Pakistani people must know: America will remain a strong supporter of Pakistan’s security and prosperity long after the guns have fallen silent, so that the great potential of its people can be unleashed.

    Anyone who can read that and still convince themselves our troops will begin leaving that area in 18 months…

  220. 220
    Corner Stone says:

    @matoko_chan: What in the absolute hell are you talking about?

    and if you Talis lay low for 2-3 years and let us build up an Afghan National Army, you can have the whole shooting match.

    And you somehow think they got this message, or that even more incredibly they will do just that?

    I think al-Jazeerha should show more. I think the ‘Merican electorate should get to see that footage too. Every night.

    Yep, because we’re seeing so damn much of it now. And if A-J amps up their production we’ll see approximately 100% more of their footage here, AKA none. WTF are you babbling about?

    When you inanely babble about the message being for the Arab Street, are you suggesting that they hear a conciliatory note in Obama’s speech, then work to positively effect a reduction in violence in Afghanistan and Pakistan so the US can gracefully exit at some near-term point?
    And A-J hears Obama’s speech and decides they can help the USA leave that area if they increase their coverage of civilians being killed? Because the peoples local to that region will be the only audience for that coverage, and they will certainly not feel like doing just nothing while the USA kills their people indiscriminately and then whall-ee-dah exits the dance floor in two years.

    Either you are a more masterful logician than Vizzini, or you and BoB drink from the same branch water.

  221. 221
    Elie says:

    Corner Stone

    Your concern is noted and he will have to be held accountable to do as he said in the other part of the speech. I am not sure that I read that he is making an a specific unending committment to keep our troops there from that though. Your skepticism is warranted however and I am open to looking at his actions with narrowed eyes.

  222. 222
    geg6 says:

    @Corner Stone:

    You know what Corner Stone? I know who the fuck Spencer Ackerman is. And I know his background. And what the fuck exactly does that have to do with his analysis of this speech about Afghanistan or his sources on this particular story?

    You’re being an ass here today and I, for one, am about tired of it. We get it. You hate this war and you seem to think you’re the only one. And if you just pound away at everyone here making ridiculous statements and insulting everyone’s intelligence, we’ll all come around to your way of thinking.

    At this point, I must ask you exactly what is your expertise in Af-Pak, military and diplomatic matters, and why is all that talent and expertise being wasted here on BJ? Because it so obvious that you are the only one in the world with the insight and talent to fix matters there. So please, expound on your solutions, providing footnotes and a copy of your CV to prove how seriously we should all take you.

    Fuck me.

  223. 223

    @JMY:

    Wait, so now Obama and Democrats are going to lose future elections because of this? When people who voted for him knew his position?

    After all these years watching the goddamn Rethuglicans blatantly rewrite history, having my own side doing it now makes me want to fucking shoot myself.

  224. 224
    Elie says:

    geg6

    Not so much a comment on Corner Stone, but generally about all of the anti-war folks: how soon could we have technically executed a withdrawal anyway? Unless we were just planning a wholesale dump of of materiel and supplies, wouldnt we have to plan and execute a withdrawal over some period of time? Wouldnt we have to maintain our safety while doing this while preparing the existing government structure best we could? Where is this big disappointed hand wringing coming from? Didnt they more or less get what they wanted — we are withdrawing and we have a timetable. What is the beef on the left? That he couldnt wiggle his nose and have it be done tomorrow?

  225. 225
    geg6 says:

    @Elie:

    What is the beef on the left? That he couldnt wiggle his nose and have it be done tomorrow?

    Yes. Exactly what they want is the Samantha Stevens school of presidenting. Buncha toddlers stamping their feet and screaming for their binkies because Santa, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy hasn’t brought them what they were never promised but thought they were getting. As far as I can see, no different from the tea baggers.

  226. 226
    Corner Stone says:

    For the Andrew Bacevich fans here:
    Interview after speech

  227. 227
    Corner Stone says:

    @geg6:

    And what the fuck exactly does that have to do with his analysis of this speech about Afghanistan or his sources on this particular story?

    Firstly, it was more straight reporting quoting several different sources and their viewpoints, not really an analysis by Spackerman. And anyone who was pro-Iraq War should always have any “analysis” harshly weighed. Spackerman isn’t the radical voice he now appears to be and IMO, that backstory makes all the difference when weighing his reporting/analysis.

    You’re being an ass here today and I, for one, am about tired of it. We get it. You hate this war and you seem to think you’re the only one. And if you just pound away at everyone here making ridiculous statements and insulting everyone’s intelligence, we’ll all come around to your way of thinking.

    I definitely don’t feel like I’m the only one here who hates the war. But we’re all pretty clear that you’re damn fine with it.

    At this point, I must ask you exactly what is your expertise in Af-Pak, military and diplomatic matters,

    I always find this gambit interesting. If I told you I was a tanker during the first Gulf War, had my tank hit a land mine, slide off a ledge and resulted in a broken back, would that make me more or less competent to speak to Afghanistan? Or war in general?
    Or maybe I’m a high level PM at a DefConCo, and a large part of my job is to solve complex problems, that may or may not involve combat arenas where people die?
    Or would I need to be Bacevich himself before we could reach that point?
    I may or may not be any of those things. But I’d bet against the Bacevich one.
    Point being, some here have fooled themselves into believing the framing that escalation was the “only” array of choices.
    Others somehow seem to accept the contradiction of surge-ing more troops in, in order to provide a very short timeframe to achieve unrealistic goals, only to have our troops retreat from an area that is “vital to the nation’s security”. Really? In 18 months we’re going to hit goalposts that will allow us to hand off “the nation’s security” to a third-party there?
    I’m sorry you’re tired of hearing me call bullshit here. Where should I draw the line when criticizing actions that are going to lead to more tens of thousands of people dead?
    Let me know, thanks.

  228. 228
    Elie says:

    One thing that hits me is the sense that both on the right and left and the MSM in general, grievance is the dominating raison d’etre for anything.

    Its almost as though some had decided in advance, no matter what was said, what their complaint and grievance was going to be..

    I have read comments like “we shouldnt even BE there”..Well ok, but we ARE there so where does reality come into this? We have to manage and already existing situation. We cannot go back and remake history.

    We also have to address risk — which by definition includes uncertainty.

    The President made a decision based on information and his judgement of our risk and the need to limit damage to many many interests…

    I am most disappointed in the left intellectually. I thought at least the left dealt in the world of reality for the most part. I am changing that expectation through my observation of what they are saying and doing..

  229. 229
    Little Macayla's Friend says:

    @soonergrunt:
    I hate to think anyone’s life depends on luck, but with all that’s already set in motion, the very best of luck to you and everyone else in the middle of this.
    I watch for your comments on these posts since you have more on the line than taxes, etc., and because of your experience over there, so wherever you are, I’m sure we all hope to keep hearing from you.

  230. 230
    Corner Stone says:

    And Nir Rosen:

    If we are talking about Al Qaeda and the whole reason for why we are in Afghanistan allegedly is this threat from Al Qaeda which has been severely exaggerated, then at least understand their motives. Their chief motives are the Indian occupation of Kashmir, the Israeli and American backed occupation of Palestine. These are the motives. If your goal is to weaken Al Qaeda, understand their motives, address their grievances. This is not some James Bond villain the wants to attack the U.S. for no reason.

    We actually managed to make the Taliban look good. We took the most detested regime in the world, the Taliban, removed them in a matter of weeks and here seven or eight years later they’re more popular than ever. They’re stronger than ever.

    AMY GOODMAN:Among who?

    NIR ROSEN: Among the people in Pakistan and many Afghans, at least many Pashtuns. When I’ve been in Afghanistan you often hear non-Pashtuns expressing hostility to Americans. I have heard many Tajiks say, “Amreeka Dushman Islam”, “America is the enemy of Islam.” Nobody really wants the Americans there.

    Nir Rosen

  231. 231
    SGEW says:

    @Elie:

    That said, how would highlighting [civilian casualties] in his speech made his argument stronger? Where would he have inserted it?

    When he mentioned the horrors and sacrifice of war, as a price to be regretted; or when he spoke directly to the Afghan people, as apologia. It was a jarring omission.

    [Better a late response than never, I suppose]

  232. 232
    Elie says:

    Ok Corner Stone. What would you have liked him to say, unequivocally. We are withdrawing tomorrow. Leave all the supplies, dump any strucutres, the planes will be there tomorrow to evacuate everything. No if ands or buts. The end?

    How much prep for withdrawal would you “allow”? How much specificity would be required? Do you know all of the interests that need to be addressed? I sure don’t. I guess you give no benefit of the doubt to Obama for anything and therefore, since there is no trust, there can be no certainty without everything being laid out in black and white.

    Do you think Bacevich may not be promoting his own shtick? Do you think he would get much attention if he just agreed or is it better for him (and many critics on the left) to provide ongoing critique and grievance? Gives em a lot more to say and there is always a need to be plugged — this is wrong, that is wrong and this is how I would do it, fix it, think about it, etc. Agreement is relatively boring to those who rely on keeping their names out in front.

    I am definitely not saying that the opposition is not in some ways principled. Just that it is excessive and overblown given the course that has been outlined. If you turn off people on your side with excessive picking nits, who is going to listen to you when your grievance is stronger and more justified?

  233. 233
    General Winfield Stuck says:

    @Corner Stone:

    If we are talking about Al Qaeda and the whole reason for why we are in Afghanistan allegedly is this threat from Al Qaeda which has been severely exaggerated, then at least understand their motives. Their chief motives are the Indian occupation of Kashmir, the Israeli and American backed occupation of Palestine. These are the motives. If your goal is to weaken Al Qaeda, understand their motives, address their grievances. This is not some James Bond villain the wants to attack the U.S. for no reason.

    Utter fucking bullshit. OBL and AQ are Islamic Hegemonists and these reasons he states for blowing shit up are bullshit excuses. If they were solved to his satisfaction tomorrow, he would just come up with new ones.

    And That is separate as to whether there is merit to these specific complaints.

  234. 234
    geg6 says:

    @Corner Stone:

    Firstly, it was more straight reporting quoting several different sources and their viewpoints, not really an analysis by Spackerman. And anyone who was pro-Iraq War should always have any “analysis” harshly weighed. Spackerman isn’t the radical voice he now appears to be and IMO, that backstory makes all the difference when weighing his reporting/analysis.

    Bullshit and bullshit. He did straight reporting and then he analyzed the speech and went to his sources for further information. And I do not see how his Iraq views at the start of that particular invasion are in any way relevant this situation. They aren’t and it’s bullshit of the highest order to imply that they are.

    But we’re all pretty clear that you’re damn fine with it.

    This is straight out lie or, at the least, a complete distortion of anything I have posted about it. But it makes it easier to bag on me, so have at it.

    I always find this gambit interesting. If I told you I was a tanker during the first Gulf War, had my tank hit a land mine, slide off a ledge and resulted in a broken back, would that make me more or less competent to speak to Afghanistan? Or war in general? Or maybe I’m a high level PM at a DefConCo, and a large part of my job is to solve complex problems, that may or may not involve combat arenas where people die? Or would I need to be Bacevich himself before we could reach that point?…Where should I draw the line when criticizing actions that are going to lead to more tens of thousands of people dead?

    This may be the most ridiculous argument you’ve presented here yet. I am objecting to your holier than thou pronouncements here, as if you have some sort of information that all of us peons and sub-humans who don’t necessarily agree with every point you make don’t have and never will. You act as if you are the only qualified to pronounce about this and all of the rest of us are just too stupid or blood thirsty or something to be as virtuous as you. Since you have made a point of trying to make everyone else’s considered opinion sound like something from Freeperville, it seems to me you need to prove your bona fides. Are you a scholar in the area? A diplomat? An intelligence officer? A general? No? Then your opinion is no more valid than mine or anyone else’s here. We are all just as smart and informed as you are and deserve a respect for that you demand for yourself but don’t want to give to anyone else. That’s asshole behavior and you need to be called on it. We don’t have to agree on everything, but you have been pretty aggressive with us here today and that is not something I consider acceptable. Maybe you need to take a step away from the keyboard because your emotions are getting the best of you.

  235. 235
    General Winfield Stuck says:

    @geg6:

    He will get back to you. He’s likely consulting The Great Bottle Worm for guidance.

  236. 236
    Elie says:

    geg6

    Yes to this for many many times here on BJ for me lately

    “Since you have made a point of trying to make everyone else’s considered opinion sound like something from Freeperville, it seems to me you need to prove your bona fides. Are you a scholar in the area? A diplomat? An intelligence officer? A general? No? Then your opinion is no more valid than mine or anyone else’s here. We are all just as smart and informed as you are and deserve a respect for that you demand for yourself but don’t want to give to anyone else.

  237. 237
    Leelee for Obama says:

    @Elie: i don’t want to steal this thread and I am not here to argue about this subject. I just want you to know that Andy Bacevich has earned the right to say what he thinks. He served many years and sacrificed a son to Iraq, a war he was against form the beginning. I don’t think this is schtick. Agree with him or no, this is what the man believes.

    That being said, Afghanistan is a mess we all made, and while I’d like to get them all home, I’m not knowledgeable enough to say this plan is wrong.

    to soonergrunt: I will keep you in my thoughts, as I know deploying again must be a miserable prospect. I will hope that you keep safe.

  238. 238
    Elie says:

    Ok Leelee

    No argument from me and apologies if any offense to a respected historian.

    Just trying to make perhaps a good point the wrong way: that motivations for views are sometimes self serving rather than principled stands.

  239. 239
    Leelee for Obama says:

    @Elie: You’re right about motivations serving self-interest more often than not. We’ve watched it for years, and I’m sure it’s an endemic disease. I watched the Senate and House hearings today and the Repubs made me as angry as they ever have. Assholes. Then, I watched the NATO Sec. Gen. for about 45 minutes, and I felt a lot better about everything. If you can, see if c-span is gonna run him again. He’s on-board, and the Danes ain’t us, KWIM? It also blew me away that he and most of the reporters spoke English so well, and most of us have trouble making ourselves understood to each other.

    Also. Adm. Mullen, who is no favorite of mine, slapped Mike Pence (I think-or maybe Flake) right into next week. He was asked if he knew of any occasions when reinforcements were requested for Afghanistan and the Bush Crime family refused(as per Obama’s statement last night, and Rumsfeld’s retort that it was a bald misstatement.) Read him off a few incidents and made my afternoon.

  240. 240
    Corner Stone says:

    @General Winfield Stuck:

    Utter fucking bullshit. OBL and AQ are Islamic Hegemonists and these reasons he states for blowing shit up are bullshit excuses. If they were solved to his satisfaction tomorrow, he would just come up with new ones.

    Well, using geg6’s current criteria, what gives you the audacity to pronounce this so matter of factly?
    Rosen has been embedded at least three times in Afghanistan over the last two years. He has a career of independent journalism. Based on the need to be an expert to have an opinion, what have you to offer contra-Nir Rosen?

  241. 241
    Corner Stone says:

    @geg6:

    And I do not see how his Iraq views at the start of that particular invasion are in any way relevant this situation. They aren’t and it’s bullshit of the highest order to imply that they are.

    Wait a second…Hoooollllddd up.
    The Iraq War is the, THE, pinnacle decision of the last almost 40 years. It may be the most important decision made in the rest of our lifetime, on a national scale.
    Where someone stood on the decision, not in hindsight but in realtime, is the clearest marker we could possibly ever have upon which to judge or analyze their views on national level politics, statecraft, and a host of other items.
    Anyone who was ever *for* the war, supported the war, cheered on the war – should always, for the rest of their lives, be held to a very critical standard of weighing any opinion they may pronounce on that scale moving forward.
    It’s the sharpest of sword blades, and the most black\white sorting hat we have in modern times.

  242. 242
    Elie says:

    Corner Stone:

    “Anyone who was ever for the war, supported the war, cheered on the war – should always, for the rest of their lives, be held to a very critical standard of weighing any opinion they may pronounce on that scale moving forward.”

    So this is the source of your suspicion? That because at one time, Obama supported the Afghan war, any plan he proposes for withdrawal, even with a timeline, cannot be trusted because he once supported it? I guess he can’t become convinced and change his mind and move to implement that change? Having once supported it, well, there is just not going back from that. His policy about this, no matter what, will therefore always be wrong.

  243. 243
    Corner Stone says:

    @geg6:

    You act as if you are the only qualified to pronounce about this and all of the rest of us are just too stupid or blood thirsty or something to be as virtuous as you. Since you have made a point of trying to make everyone else’s considered opinion sound like something from Freeperville

    Never claimed virtue as my mantle.
    None of the goals listed are achievable. The Afghan police force is corrupt, cruel and oppressive. The Afghan “army” does not want this fight. Karzai will never hold legitimate office, not with his people and not with anyone anywhere else that can read a newspaper. Pakistan will allow us to Predator bomb their civilians but if we put boots on the ground there it would send an unstable situation into sheer chaos. We can’t pay for this engagement and the world will not be contributing in any significant amounts. In 18 months none of these things will have changed. That isn’t me having some secret knowledge or insight, that is reality.
    Tell me where any of these things is incorrect.

  244. 244
    Corner Stone says:

    @Elie: You didn’t read what I said. I said the Iraq War.
    And I said their analysis should be held to the most critical review. I didn’t say “never”, and I didn’t say “carte blanche”. I said they should be held to the light for their judgement regarding the Iraq War, and people should know this when evaluating their opinion and/or analysis.

  245. 245
    Corner Stone says:

    @Elie:

    What would you have liked him to say, unequivocally. We are withdrawing tomorrow. Leave all the supplies, dump any strucutres, the planes will be there tomorrow to evacuate everything. No if ands or buts. The end?

    As usual, this is a specious argument I see a lot of people here attempting to use. You act like it was a light switch:
    On – more troops!
    Off – Everybody get the fug out now!

    There should have been a range of possible decisions but it’s very clear that the range was limited to escalation, with the only decision to be made being “How many?”.

  246. 246
    General Winfield Stuck says:

    @Corner Stone:

    From one of many sources, here is Prof. Juan Cole’s statement a few years ago on what OBL and AQ seek. Nothing less than a Pan Arab/Muslim world superstate. Revenge for real or perceived injustices from the US and the West in general are secondary motivators.

    They attacked us mainly because they think we are in the way of establishing said Islamic Superstate they seek.

  247. 247
    Corner Stone says:

    @General Winfield Stuck: I enjoy Prof Cole’s opinion off and on, and here he does state Palestine as a significant cause of anger.

    Secondarily, the attack was conceived as revenge on the United States and American Jews for supporting Israel and the severe oppression of the Palestinians. Bin Laden wanted to move the timing of the operation up to spring of 2001 so as to “punish” the Israelis for their actions against the Palestinians in the second Intifadah. Khalid Shaikh Muhammad was mainly driven in planning the attack by his rage at Israel over the Palestinian issue.

    Clearly a source of anger in AQ, and not really “bullshit”.

    But my point was that I have also used expert’s opinions to inform my POV, among other items. But because my analysis does not agree with others’ opinions here I have to prove bona fides at a higher level than others.
    Matoko routinely states his analysis as facts, but I have yet to ask him what position in the Obama WH he’s currently filling.
    In any event, if Bacevich’s opinion and analysis is not accepted then I certainly hold out no doubt about mine.

  248. 248
    General Winfield Stuck says:

    @Corner Stone:

    From Rosen

    Their chief motives are the Indian occupation of Kashmir, the Israeli and American backed occupation of Palestine. These are the motives. If your goal is to weaken Al Qaeda, understand their motives, address their grievances.This is not some James Bond villain the wants to attack the U.S. for no reason.

    False, and bullshit. Your troubles with others in this thread is not my concern,

  249. 249
    Corner Stone says:

    @General Winfield Stuck: WTF are you talking about you lame ass clown?
    Are you too fucking stupid to even bother to read the cite you put down here from Prof Cole?
    Are you that fucking stupid?
    Again, because it is obvious that you are in fact that fucking stupid.
    From Juan Cole himself – the guy you used to refute the idea that Kashmir and Palestine were not REALLY sources of anger for AQ:

    Secondarily, the attack was conceived as revenge on the United States and American Jews for supporting Israel and the severe oppression of the Palestinians. Bin Laden wanted to move the timing of the operation up to spring of 2001 so as to “punish” the Israelis for their actions against the Palestinians in the second Intifadah. Khalid Shaikh Muhammad was mainly driven in planning the attack by his rage at Israel over the Palestinian issue.

    You simple bitch. God damn lame motherfucker.

  250. 250
    General Winfield Stuck says:

    @Corner Stone:

    Dumbass as always. You pick out one paragraph of a lengthy article that says AQ is upset about Israel and as I stated this is true. BUT THE POINT OF HIS ARTICLE WAS THAT THE CHIEF MOTIVATOR FOR AQ AND OBL IS TO ESTABLISH A PAN ARAB ISLAMIC STATE AND THAT HE HAD TO DRIVE US OUT OF MUSLIM LANDS BEFORE DOING THAT.

    What you and Rosen are saying is that OBL is at war with us because of these individual issues and that is their “chief” goal to exact some kind of revenge for those things. IT IS NOT.

    And further, wankers like you and your ilk are also suggesting that ObL would leave us alone if we corrected all those things. BULLSHIT BULLSHIT BULLSHIT. And further, this kind of nonsense gives credence to the wingnut charge that fuckwits like you think we deserved 9-11 and getting murdered by these animals. You are so goddanmed whacked out it is embarrassing,. And you aren’t the only one. The nuts on our side are plenty and you can rot in your whiny stupidity all you want. but will not drag the rest of us into your shitpit of America hate. Fuck you once every day and always, you worthless sot.

  251. 251
    General Winfield Stuck says:

    @Corner Stone:

    And i am done with you. You can wank on me all you fucking want and I will not respond in any way. Others can take on your nasty shit if they choose. NOT ME. Have at it peabrain.

  252. 252
    General Winfield Stuck says:

    @geg6:

    And thank you geg6, you are one of the few here with the courage to take on shitheel leftists like corner stone.

    I can handle the wingnuts, but not wingnuts on my side.
    I am done with it, really. Blood pressure can’t take it and all. Take care.

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