A Couple More Friedman Units

I’m Henry the Eighth I am. Henry the Eighth I am, I am:

A Pentagon report presented a sobering new assessment Wednesday of the Taliban-led insurgency in Afghanistan, saying that its abilities are expanding and its operations are increasing in sophistication, despite recent major offensives by U.S. forces in the militants’ heartland.

The report, requested by Congress, portrays an insurgency with deep roots and broad reach, able to withstand repeated U.S. onslaughts and to reestablish its influence, while discrediting and undermining the country’s Western-backed government.

But the Pentagon said it remained optimistic that its counter-insurgency strategy, formed after an Obama administration review last year, and its effort to peel foot soldiers away from the Taliban will show success in months to come.

Second verse, same as the first. I’m Henry the Eighth I am. I’m Henry the Eighth I am, I am.

52 replies
  1. 1
    licensed to kill time says:

    __

    I’m Henry the Eighth I am. Henry the Eighth I am, I am:

    I am embarrassed to report that the very first “rock” concert I ever saw was Herman and the Hermits.

    We now return you to your regularly scheduled post.

  2. 2
    beltane says:

    We’re not going to rid Afghanistan of the Taliban. Ever. If we stay there indefinitely, we will be having this same conversation 50 years from now unless the death panels get us first.

  3. 3
    Alan says:

    OT: Local news is saying Crist will stay a Republican and run for the Senate as an independent Republican. I guess I’ll vote for Meeks.

    Update: Crist says he’s running without any party affiliation. I hope that’s the case.

  4. 4
    schrodinger's cat says:

    Afghanistan: the graveyard of empires, didn’t someone say that’s where empires go to die?
    First the British, then the Russians..

  5. 5
    MikeJ says:

    @Alan: If he loses the primary he can’t run as a Republican. The same as when Lieberman lost, he couldn’t call himself a Democrat, even though he tried to.

  6. 6
    Mike Kay says:

    3..2…1..

    gop/fixxed news/Village axis begin to trash the pentagon as peace loving hippies.

  7. 7
    Cat Lady says:

    If only France had pushed back against George more, then we wouldn’t have had to fuck up Afghanistan on our way to Iraq to get al-Quaeda.

    /Laura

  8. 8
    Midnight Marauder says:

    @Alan:

    Local news is saying Crist will stay a Republican and run for the Senate as an independent Republican. I guess I’ll vote for Meeks.
    __
    Update: Crist says he’s running without any party affiliation. I hope that’s the case.

    Yeah, there’s just no way that first scenario is possible. He’s either in the race as an Independent or he’s sharpening his veto pen daggers to bring the Florida GOP down with him in his last days as governor.

    Or both.

  9. 9
    Bnut says:

    Almost a decade in and this shit still happens. Leave that god forsaken place already. Let SF and predators have free range and pull out the masses. Christ.

  10. 10
    Zifnab says:

    Listen to me! Listen to me!
    The Taliban insurgency. It’s people! It’s made out of people! You gotta tell them! You gotta tell them!

    :-p

    Deep and sophisticated my ass. This is military speak for, “Gee golley, it’s hard to tell the insurgents from the civilians when we keep pissing off the civilians until they want to kill us. All we can do is kill them back.”

    If we’re performing half as well in Afghanistan as we are in “Mow’m down with the Helicopter” territory in Iraq, I can’t think of a single reason why our COIN operations won’t be a smashing success.

    In six more months.

    The sooner Obama pulls the plug on this mess, the better off we’ll all be.

  11. 11
    WereBear says:

    You know when you were a teenager and young adult, and you figured when you grew up, you’d understand a lot more about the way the world worked?

    And then you do grow up, and you find out it’s even more screwed up than you ever dreamed, and you have been going along thinking that the people in charge know what they are doing, and one day you realize; they don’t.

    It’s kinda like that.

  12. 12

    The report, requested by Congress, portrays an insurgency with deep roots and broad reach, able to withstand repeated U.S. onslaughts and to reestablish its influence,

    Duh. it is the Pashtuns tribal soil going back at least since Genghis Khan squatted and shat on the Khyber Pass. We had a time of it pacifying our own Taliban in their homeland of several hundred years, and it seems we might be back at it in the not so distant future.

    The only people who will settle what rooster will rule the roost in that ancient land, that is still in the 8th century, are the Afghans themselves. Same with Iraq. From now till the withdrawal date, we should do what we can, but then turn it back to the Northern Alliance and let them slug it out with the Taliban. Maybe give them weapons and diplomacy and such, but that is about all.

  13. 13
    Mark S. says:

    The report concludes that Afghan people support or are sympathetic to the insurgency in 92 of 121 districts identified by the U.S. military as key terrain for stabilizing the country. Popular support for Karzai’s government is strong in only 29 of those districts, it concludes.

    How awful is your government if people prefer the Taliban? Well geez, if we could make sure that Al Qaeda doesn’t set up shop again, I would be willing to cut a deal with the Taliban.

  14. 14
    scav says:

    well, I’m personally waiting for someone to suggest we march to Moscow in winter any day now.

  15. 15
    Alan says:

    OT:

    @MikeJ: @Midnight Marauder:

    Chalk it up to my local news station to insert all the ambiguity. I should know better by now.

  16. 16

    This man was really the only hope for Afghan. and OBL likely knew that and was why AQ assassinated him the day before 9-11/

  17. 17
    El Cid says:

    But… but… the SURGE proved that we could fix any mess, ’cause Iraq was awesome after that, and we heard a lot how we had this totally new COIN strategy which was so much better than all the other counter-insurgency wars before.

  18. 18
    Gus says:

    Gaaahhhh, that motherfucking Walmart gift card audio has gotten me into trouble at work for the last time. I can’t do BJ at work any more.

  19. 19
    mr. whipple says:

    And then you do grow up, and you find out it’s even more screwed up than you ever dreamed, and you have been going along thinking that the people in charge know what they are doing, and one day you realize; they don’t.

    Between the election and Obama being sworn in, I don’t know how many panel discussions I watched about Afghanistan. Reporters that have spent considerable time there, diplomats, FP experts, military. The scariest part was the fear in their eyes, and the general feeling that no one had an answer. Jeebus.

  20. 20
    mr. whipple says:

    @Gus:

    “Gaaahhhh, that motherfucking Walmart gift card audio has gotten me into trouble at work for the last time. I can’t do BJ at work any more. ”

    Makes you really want to click on that ad, huh? How freaking stupid are they?

  21. 21
    kdaug says:

    OT: Can you block ads with audio?

    Getting real tired of hearing “Congratulations, you’ve won a gift certificate from Wal-Mart” every time I swing by.

    Just started yesterday, but – damn – it’s annoying.

  22. 22
    rootless-e says:

    OT but funny Ben Stein theory in from December 2007
    (via delong)

    Dr. Hatzius’s paper is a prime example of my puzzlement. It shows extreme intelligence but basically misses the point: yes, there are possible macro dangers, but you have to go all the way around Robin Hood’s barn to get to them, and you have to use what I think are extremely far-fetched hypotheticals to get to a scary situation. (This is not to diminish the real risks in today’s economy, I’m just not as gloomy about them as Dr. Hatzius.)

    Why, then, is his document circulating? Perhaps as a token of Dr. Hatzius’s genuine intelligence, which is fine. But to me, his paper seemed like a selling document in the real Wall Street sense of selling — namely, selling short. (Dr. Hatzius notes that he has long been bearish on housing, since faraway 2006, but I respectfully note that that is a lot different from predicting a credit catastrophe. The spokesman for Goldman also noted the company’s bearishness on housing since 2006. He also noted that in the recent past, Goldman Sachs has moved to a considerably larger short posture and that the firm is net short.)

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12.....wanted=all

  23. 23
    scav says:

    @WereBear: Stopping believing ceasing to believe in Grown-ups should immediately follow stopping believing ceasing to believe in the Tooth Fairy, if it doesn’t actually precede it.

    ETA: I may stop wrestling with this sentence at some extreme point in the future.

  24. 24
    Alan says:

    @kdaug: I’ve been using ClicktoFlash for Safari on my Mac. I’ve never heard or seen the ad.

    There may also be a version for Firefox.

  25. 25
    Band Of Bozos says:

    @scav:

    BOB, BOB, BOB, BOB, BOB I ran

    I agree – maybe we could bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, Tehran while we’re at it. Also – too – 5 1/2 Planes Allan!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2R6JxQFSRiw

  26. 26
    Roger Moore says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    Afghanistan: the graveyard of empires, didn’t someone say that’s where empires go to die?

    They may have said that, but it doesn’t make it true. The British kept their Empire for quite a while after leaving Afghanistan, and the Russian/Soviet empire was in trouble well before they went in. Somebody- I think it was Yglesias- said that empires eventually leave Afghanistan not because they can’t handle it but because they figure out that it’s mostly irrelevant to their interests, and that sounds about right.

  27. 27
    licensed to kill time says:

    @kdaug: AdBlockPlus and NoScript for Firefox will take care of that for you. I’ve heard you can hit the escape key to dump the ad, though I’ve never seen or heard it because of the above mentioned addons.

  28. 28
    Mike in NC says:

    It’s like that classic saying about insanity: doing the same thing over and over, but expecting different results.

  29. 29

    I probly shouldn’t do this and get accused of interrupting commerce, but here is an Adblocker for libtard tree huggers and the like. It replaces banner ads with environment eco-ads, but leaves other good ads like LauraW’s and those like that. It also blocks the voice ads and I use Firefox.

    And it has had a beneficial effect of keeping me on a nice progressive buzz and may be causing a craving for Tofu burgers. With urges to join FDL and post Haiku poems. Earth Mother approved. also , too.

  30. 30
    fourlegsgood says:

    Call me a quitter, but I’m ready to build a wall around Afghanistan and leave them to their own medieval devices.

  31. 31

    @schrodinger’s cat: I just googled afghanistan graveyard of empires. Interesting. You might enjoy it.

  32. 32
    scav says:

    @fourlegsgood: Hmmm, you just reminded me that Afghanistan and Arizona both start with the letter A.

  33. 33
    Americanadian says:

    @Roger Moore

    It was my impression that the Soviets only left Afghanistan when their domestic politics and economics made it impossible to sustain their occupation.

    The British did, however, eventually wise up and voluntarily stopped throwing lives and money into the bottomless caverns of Afghanistan.

  34. 34
    tim says:

    Why doesn’t anyone talk about another very real possibility: that, especially on a cost to benefits/results scale, THE U.S. MILITARY JUST REALLY SUCKS?

    I mean, other than creating pointless Powerpoint presentations and sucking up retirement pay for the rest of their lives, at what are the military services really efficient?

  35. 35
    R-Jud says:

    I don’t mean to be shallow, but I think the main reason we need to leave Afghanistan is because our soldiers there are now staging remakes of Lady Gaga videos.

  36. 36
    Gwangung says:

    I mean, other than creating pointless Powerpoint presentations and sucking up retirement pay for the rest of their lives, at what are the military services really efficient?

    Killing people in mass quantities. Which is not the mission here.

  37. 37
    Brachiator says:

    @General Egali Tarian Stuck:

    it is the Pashtuns tribal soil going back at least since Genghis Khan squatted and shat on the Khyber Pass

    The existence of Pakistan complicates the matter since that nation overlaps with Pashtun tribal soil. And the Pashtuns are not the only group involved. Ancient history is not the only issue that the world has to contend with.

    The only people who will settle what rooster will rule the roost in that ancient land, that is still in the 8th century, are the Afghans themselves. Same with Iraq. From now till the withdrawal date, we should do what we can, but then turn it back to the Northern Alliance and let them slug it out with the Taliban. Maybe give them weapons and diplomacy and such, but that is about all.

    Providing weapons and diplomacy will still keep us involved, and still invite Al Qaeda mischief.

    I just don’t see any easy answer here.

    @Mark S.

    Well geez, if we could make sure that Al Qaeda doesn’t set up shop again, I would be willing to cut a deal with the Taliban.

    I’m not sure that it would be possible to cut a deal with the Taleban, any more than it was possible to cut a deal with the Khmer Rouge.

  38. 38

    @Americanadian:

    The KGB did not know what to do with Russian Mothers when they got tired of being lied to and took to the streets to protest about so many of their sons coming home from Afghanistan in body bags. I think that had more to do with being the last straw that broke the Soviet Union than anything Reagan did.

  39. 39

    When we first went into Afghanistan I had an idea of what and how to do it – which is exactly what we did not do. Now, all these years later, I have no clue. I can sympathize with the idea that doing nothing and just leaving isn’t good but I am unconvinced that there is anything useful to do there. The economic mess was bad enough as an inheritance, Afghanistan really really sucks and I’m glad it isn’t me responsible for figuring it out now.

  40. 40

    I just don’t see any easy answer here.

    Didn’t intend to suggest there was an easy answer. It is a clusterfuck. But it seems clear to me chasing the Taliban around and back and forth across the Pak border is not an answer. Nor is propping up a mega corrupt regime of Karzai’s/

    We will need to stay involved there for our own interests of staying after OBL and his henchmen. And working with the Pakis as they request. There is no easy answer in accomplishing that, as you say.

  41. 41
    sparky says:

    “no easy answer”?
    who knew BJ was Friedman’s home away from home?

    sure there is. the US could just, you know, leave. but then it would of course have to find another front to start killing different brown people.
    gosh it’s so hard when your empire is built on killing people!

    on the other hand it is probably too early to leave as the US has yet to fully destabilize Pakistan.

  42. 42
    Mark S. says:

    @Brachiator:

    I’m not sure that it would be possible to cut a deal with the Taleban, any more than it was possible to cut a deal with the Khmer Rouge.

    Maybe, but Karzai’s sent out overtures before. He’s even threatened to join the Taliban. He might not be the most stable ally we’ve ever had.

  43. 43
    Roger Moore says:

    @Americanadian:

    It was my impression that the Soviets only left Afghanistan when their domestic politics and economics made it impossible to sustain their occupation.

    Sure, but that’s more or less the point. They weren’t driven out of Afghanistan because they couldn’t hold the place. They left because 40 years of Cold War spending had turned their economy into a basket case. They were having trouble maintaining forces in really important places like Poland and East Germany, so there was no way they could afford to continue occupying a backwater like Afghanistan. The graveyard of the Soviet Empire was in Eastern Europe.

  44. 44
    Delia says:

    But the Pentagon said it remained optimistic that its counter-insurgency strategy, formed after an Obama administration review last year, and its effort to peel foot soldiers away from the Taliban will show success in months to come.

    There’s light at the end of that tunnel. You just have to keep on digging.

    /Robert McNamara

  45. 45
    danimal says:

    I think it would be wise for Obama to develop a quick pullout plan from Afghanistan and implement it the nano-second that OBL is captured or dead. As long as OBL is alive, we’re staying in. After OBL’s gone, 98% of Americans will want us out ASAP.

  46. 46
    jg says:

    @tim:
    Tim –

    i’m gonna guess you’ve not had the luck of working for or alongside the troops. I’m a 23-year AF civilian employee and can say all military members are the best working and most highly-trained professionals. Their salary, benefits, and retirement are a pittance for what they sacrifice. Private sector scoops them up at every chance and academia pursues because they have the student-makeup that teachers/professors crave.

    From the enlisted to the officers, leadership is instilled at every level. Sure, exceptions can be cited, but as long as the mission is clear the goals are always exceeded.

    I’m trying to not be a cheerleader, but the US military “soldiering” skills and capabilities have no match. Problems arise when missions are soft/ill-defined and capital-hill interferes/pushes budgets over mission success.

    j

  47. 47
    Paris says:

    I have been conflicted. The Taliban are a product of our Cold War policies. We should be responsible for minimizing their influence. Unfortunately, we are viewed as worse than they are so we can’t make any progress with the Afghan nationals. We should probably just leave and pay reparations directly to the villages.

    It really should not have been that hard to support and encourage the civil society that existed in Afghanistan prior to 1979 and give that country a chance – I blame Bush mostly because timing is everything. The kleptocracy that is in charge won’t survive and there is going to be a lot of violence before this is done.

  48. 48
    Cain says:

    The solution to the Taliban problem is to have open borders, that mean we allow mexicans, jewish settlers, and the turkish in and let them start building homes and starting homes!

    That’s right buddy, we colonize! Bring in any yahoo wants to start a new life. Start small, you only have to defend a small piece of land;they’ll be forced to come to you. Then keep growing ever expanding like a cancer, behind the wall, skyscrapers starts getting built. It’ll scare the shit out of em because eventualthey know there is nothing they can do to stop it. Eventually, we’ll have to setup like reservations and stuff for them to live on. It’ll be great!

    cain

    edited for readability and other stuff.

  49. 49
    PeakVT says:

    Here’s the bottom line in Afghanistan:

    1) It (the nation-state) doesn’t exist.
    2) We can’t afford to create it.

  50. 50
    Corner Stone says:

    @Roger Moore:

    They weren’t driven out of Afghanistan because they couldn’t hold the place.

    Hold what? What did they hold? What do we “hold” now?

  51. 51
    Corner Stone says:

    I’m telling you Cole, after your piece about the Risen whistleblower and now this, I only have one thing to say:

    And John Cole, buddy, you can always vote for Hilary/Edwards/Nader in 2012.

  52. 52
    chrome agnomen says:

    @licensed to kill time:

    what? embarrassed? i loved a lot of their stuff back in the day. (too far back to say precisely)

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