Whaddya Do?

Was stumbling around the house in a pissy mood because I discovered my house sitter used dish soap on my cast iron skillets and destroyed my seasoning, when I sat down to scan the headlines and got smacked in the face with a load of perspective:

Members of a medical team gunned down in Afghanistan brought some of the first toothbrushes and eyeglasses villagers had ever seen and spent no time talking about religion as they provided medical care, friends and aid organizations said Sunday.

Dr. Thomas Grams, 51, quit his dental practice in Durango, Colo., four years ago to work full-time giving impoverished children free dental care in Nepal and Afghanistan, said Katy Shaw of Global Dental Relief, a Denver-based group that sends teams of dentists around the globe. He was killed Thursday, Shaw said, along with five other Americans, two Afghans, one German and a Briton.

“The kids had never seen toothbrushes, and Tom brought thousands of them,” said Khris Nedam, head of the Kids 4 Afghan Kids in Livonia, Mich., which builds schools and wells in Afghanistan. “He trained them how to brush their teeth, and you should’ve seen the way they smiled after they learned to brush their teeth.”

The team was attacked after a two-week mission in the remote Parun valley of Nuristan province, about 160 miles (260 kilometers) north of Kabul. Their bullet-riddled bodies were found Friday, and were returned to Kabul Sunday aboard helicopters.

The families of the six Americans were formally notified of their deaths after U.S. officials confirmed their identities, said Caitlin Hayden, a spokeswoman for the embassy.

The Taliban has claimed credit for the attack, saying the workers were trying to convert Muslims to Christianity. The gunmen spared an Afghan driver who told police he recited verses from the Islamic holy book the Quran as he begged for his life.

This the kind of thing that just makes you want to bomb the Taliban back to the stone ages, which is a great thought until you realize they think the stone ages would be a mighty fine target destination.

Just get out of the region. Now.

90 replies
  1. 1
    bago says:

    As the toothbrush thing shows, they already HAVE been bombed back to the stone ages.

  2. 2
    jwb says:

    There are no longer any good options. The question is whether the least bad option is to stay or to go. And I’m glad I don’t have to make that call.

  3. 3
    Cacti says:

    Hmmm…

    Are they still the George Washingtons of Afghanistan, heroically defending their homeland while being “murdered” by Americans?

  4. 4
    henqiguai says:

    makes you want to bomb the Taliban back to the stone ages, which is a great thought until you realize they think theare already living in the stone ages with some 20th century weapons would be a mighty fine target destination

    There; cleared that one up for ya’.

  5. 5
    aimai says:

    This kind of issue was covered fairly thoroughly in Mortenson’s Three Cups of Tea. The local people are incredibly impoverished, vulnerable, ignorant, undereducated, desperate, and disconnected from the wider world. They need all the help they can get–and more–but they are surrounded by the biggest bunches of religious assholes, warlords, and drug runners you can imagine. Delivering health care and education, money, books, or toothbrushes to people in these regions is like trying to run a minefield to deliver food to a baby. The action is meritorious, but the risks are immense. The other issue is that the more people you help–really help–the weaker the power of the local warlords, druglords, and even just of the alte kockers. There are very good reasons that local leadership kill foreign aid workers. The more desperate the local people the more easily controlled.

    I’m sorry for the women and children of Afghanistan. Always have been. But we ought to get out, now and forbid aid workers from going in unless they have been invited in *by the Taliban* and given official protection. You can’t supply the people with help if the leadership perceives that help as undermining its power.

    aimai

  6. 6
    mai naem says:

    Well, the toothbrush thing is obviously some conspiracy to convert them to christianity because those Americans can then give them candy as an incentive to convert them to christians. Seriously, where the f#$k are the Saudis, Kuwaitis etc.? They seem to be happy to spend mone spreading wahabism to eastern europe and Turkey. Why not spend money on their brethren and get them into at least the 19th century.

  7. 7
    The Dangerman says:

    Just get out of the region. Now.

    This is the rough equivalent of stopping the building of the (not) mosque that is proposed at (not) Ground Zero; both would be reacting to thugs (admittedly, the Taliban are thugs with guns). Sadly, there is a job to do in Afghanistan; if Bush hadn’t diverted our attention to Iraq, that job might be closer to being done.

    I’m hoping (against all likely hope) that it will the Republicans, this election, that have the October surprise. specifically, that Osama gets sent to Hell care of a Hellfire. Unlikely, yes, I know, but I’d love to see the mouthbreathers reaction if that were to happen.

  8. 8
    Svensker says:

    @aimai:

    I’m just reading Mortensen’s 2nd book, Stones Into Schools, which was written after the war in Afghanistan started. It just breaks your heart.

    We gave the Taliban the weapons they needed to defeat the Sovs, which, of course, greatly increased their power in the country. Unintended consequenses, yet again. Perhaps we shouldn’t fucking meddle.

    This is why I’m a Quaker.

  9. 9
    Svensker says:

    @mai naem:

    Seriously, where the f#$k are the Saudis, Kuwaitis etc.? They seem to be happy to spend mone spreading wahabism to eastern europe and Turkey.

    They were spending money spreading wahabism to Pakistan and Afghanistan, too. Who do you think helped the Taliban?

  10. 10
    Dave C says:

    @Cacti:

    I would be extremely surprised if anybody around these parts ever called the taliban the “George Washingtons of Afghanistan.” Looks to me like you’re just being an asshat.

  11. 11
    JenJen says:

    Just read that story myself, and it leaves you dumbfounded. Angry. Shocked when you didn’t think that was so possible anymore.

    What a fucking waste. If it were actually possible to rid the world of the Taliban through Rumsfeldian stone-age bombings, I’d be all for it.

  12. 12
    silentbeep says:

    did you explain not to use dish soap on those skillets? not everyone knows that. (and yes I agree with you, we need to get the hell out of there. now.)

  13. 13
    General Stuck says:

    @jwb: This is pretty much where I’m at in all this, there are consequences either way. But I am pretty certain that no American president, nor congress for that matter is going to just pull up stakes completely and leave the region.

    I think what will happen is when we do withdraw from active combat operations in the manner we are now, the ethnic warlords and other non Pashtun will get serious again about fighting the Taliban for control of Afghanistan and we can help with material support. But we cannot try to control them to our will in any way, nor fight their war for them, or else they will do what they are currently doing, kicking back with the opium pipe and let someone else fight and die.

    As for the aid workers, it is very sad and unjust they were murdered, but that is life and death in a war zone, and while very brave, usually discretion is the better part of valor in a place like Afghanistan.

  14. 14
    General Stuck says:

    @The Dangerman:

    I tend to agree with you.

    And Getting OBL would be the only way politically any president could justify leaving the region entirely.

  15. 15
    Cacti says:

    @Dave C:

    You’re right. The George Washington part is an exaggeration. Here was the exact quote I was thinking of…

    Let’s see: the Taliban are conservative Muslims in their own country, Afghanistan. For some reason, our government thinks it’s OK to murder them. Afghans, in their own country. THEIR country, not ours.

    The dastardly US government is “murdering” those nice Taliban fellows. In their own country!

  16. 16
    Comrade Javamanphil says:

    Time to come home and fix the problems we can. Too bad the GOP would rather invest in jobs over there instead of in the US. What a depressing state of things.

  17. 17
    Miss Mouse says:

    The reasoning that the Taliban used (that the workers were trying to convert Muslims to Christianity) seems an awful lot like the “scary Muzlims are trying to create Sharia law in the US!” crowd. At least our Talibangicals aren’t actively shooting people (not yet anyway).

    As an agnostic growing up in the midwest, I definitely had a lot of very passionate Christians let me know exactly where I was going to spend eternity for my sins. I even had Bibles thrown at me once (not sure the logic there… If I was hit in the head would I suddenly see the light?). I try my best to be open minded about religion, and I don’t have a problem if people are personally religious, but it’s examples like this that lead me to believe it’s important to keep religion out of government. I worry that the path we seem to be going down will lead us to the Christian version of the Taliban. (I can imagine Sarah Palin statues in every town with her as the Virgin Mary, cradling Trig in her arms)

  18. 18
    Cacti says:

    @Miss Mouse:

    At least our Talibangicals aren’t actively shooting people (not yet anyway)

    Well, about that

  19. 19
    Anoniminous says:

    Afghanistan is a diseased, war ravaged, poverty stricken, uneducated Third World pest hole for all kinds of reasons, a few of which are Own Goals, most are not.

    If the US had followed up immediately after the invasion by sending police, social workers, doctors, economic development specialists, nurses, teachers, and other people who could have Done Stuff to Help we might have positively affected the country.

    Instead we sent the Army and Air Force who are trained and equipped to blow shit up.

    It hasn’t worked.

    So, now what?

    I don’t know.

    Do know the first step to getting out of a hole is to stop digging. Either by getting the heck out or sending in those police, social workers, & etc we didn’t send 9 years ago.

  20. 20
    Anoniminous says:

    doo-dee-doo, doo, doo, doo-dee-doo

    (awaiting Moderation)

  21. 21
    susan says:

    Maybe this will make you feel better:

    If you’ve had a cast iron skillet in your family, you may have been told to never use soap on your skillet. That was once wise advice at a time in history when lye soaps would strip the seasoning from the skillet. However, today, most dish soaps are mild enough to use when needed. Sometimes all that is required is very hot water. If necessary, clean it up with soapy water, rinse and dry it thoroughly to remove excess surface oil. This is important, because when excess oil remains in the skillet, it becomes rancid.

    Cast iron skillet cleaning is best done while your skillet is still hot. While the “no soap” rule handed down for generations is no longer applicable, it is also worthy to mention that you should not clean your skillet more than is necessary. For example, if you fry up a couple of eggs, wiping the pan with a paper towel may be all that is required to clean your skillet. However, if you have bits of stuck-on food that require scrubbing, clean the skillet by running it under very hot tap water. If necessary use a fiber-brush to scrub, but don’t use steel wool or other abrasives, and while you can use dish soap it is important to avoid harsh soaps. If your skillet requires a little extra scrubbing, once it is dried, spray it with a vegetable spray and wipe it with a paper towel.

  22. 22
    Bob Loblaw says:

    @The Dangerman:

    This is the rough equivalent of stopping the building of the (not) mosque that is proposed at (not) Ground Zero; both would be reacting to thugs (admittedly, the Taliban are thugs with guns). Sadly, there is a job to do in Afghanistan; if Bush hadn’t diverted our attention to Iraq, that job might be closer to being done.

    I’m hoping (against all likely hope) that it will the Republicans, this election, that have the October surprise. specifically, that Osama gets sent to Hell care of a Hellfire.

    You people are literally insane. What is enough to stop your vengeance lust? But yes, the Taliban are some alien pathology that just can’t be figured out. Unlike good ol’ us. As soon as we finally assassinate that One Guy, we can finally go home.

  23. 23
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    @aimai:

    I’m sorry for the women and children of AfghanistanMississippi and other states in the South. Always have been. But we ought to get out, now and forbid aid workers from going in unless they have been invited in by the Christian Taliban and given official protection. You can’t supply the people with help if the leadership perceives that help as undermining its power.

    Fixed.

  24. 24
    wilfred says:

    Shades of Edith Cavell. The local people first said it was robbers; only later did it become Taliban – this in Nuristan, pretty far north for Taliban.

    Pay attention to the propaganda machine, which is ginning up to keep us in Afghanistan indefinitely:

    While the identities of the deceased were still being confirmed, Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid told The Associated Press that they killed the foreigners because they were “spying for the Americans” and “preaching Christianity.” Frans, however, said IAM is registered as a nonprofit Christian organization but does not proselytize.

    Nuristan means the Land of Light – until not so long ago it was called Kaffiristan – guess what that means. That’s because it was one of the last regions converted to Islam. In fact, the Pakistani side was one of the stops on the hippie trail.There have always been Christian missionaries up there.

    I’m sure everybody knew that, of course.

    And before anyone says some stupid goddamned thing about supporting the Taliban it might help to apply a little critical thinking. Afghans don’t like Christian missionaries..

  25. 25
    Woodrow L. Goode, IV says:

    Reminds you of Marlon Brando’s speech about giving vaccinations to children– and the aftermath– in Apocalypse Now, doesn’t it?

    A smart enemy knows that bettering the lives of the masses weakens their control over the people. Ergo, they fight even “humanitarian aid.” Arguably they fight that stuff harder than the soldiers

    You can’t build a nation for people– they have to want to build it. When the villagers hunt the people who murdered those doctors down and kill them, I’ll be happy to come back. Until then, vaya con dios.

  26. 26
    kdaug says:

    @General Stuck: Neither would the Soviets, until Af-Pak bankrupted their country.

    Last time I heard, they’re having a hard time coming back to their former glory…

  27. 27
    The Dangerman says:

    @Bob Loblaw:

    As soon as we finally assassinate that One Guy, we can finally go home.

    Not my position at all; yes, I am for his “assassination”, but that won’t be enough for us to come home. Now, if I had my druthers, we’d capture the fucker alive and try him in a Court of Law. That seems impossible (not to mention the fact that the Reichwingers would go crazy, especially if he was tried in NYC, apparently)…

    …so, that only leaves being dispatching him to Hell as an option. Oh, well.

    You people are literally insane.

    I never claimed complete sanity (see nickname).

    What is enough to stop your vengeance lust?

    Vengeance, yes, lust, no; nothing remotely lustful about it. Indeed, instead of Vengeance, I’d prefer it be labeled Justice.

  28. 28
    harlana says:

    The unsung heroes of war.

  29. 29
    eco2geek says:

    @The Dangerman: I felt the same way about the Seige of Sarajevo. It was totally unacceptable that Serbian forces were allowed to starve and indiscriminately kill civilians for almost four years, while NATO and the West did nothing, whether or not we had any “national interest” in the region.

    OTOH, we’ve spent over $330 billion on the war in Afghanistan, had over 1,100 US troops killed there, and have been at war since October, 2001, with very little in terms of results to show for it. They say the definition of insanity is to keep on doing the same thing and expecting different results.

    (As for Osama bin Laden, I find it very difficult to believe that, with a $50 million price on his head, he’s still alive.)

  30. 30
    LiberalTarian says:

    You do realize, of course, they are us–I know people in my office who would be perfectly happy living in the stone age as long as they get to foist their Christian right philosophy on everyone else. No abortions! No contraception! No women outside the home! No girls at school! Stone gay people! A man is king inside his own home! AK47s for everyone and free bullets!

    I am not saying we need to stay in Afghanistan, per se. What I am saying is the bullshit whackjobs are here, too, and just like there, we can’t let them bully us into having their way. We didn’t roll over for Timothy McVeigh or Eric Rudolph, and we would never imagine doing such a thing.

    God bless those people for their sacrifice, and all the others who see beyond the crazy assholes and to the innocents who need help. Leaving Afghanistan as a military presence won’t change the fact those people need toothbrushes and eyeglasses.

  31. 31
    General Stuck says:

    @kdaug: The Soviets were already bankrupted, the bankruptcy that finally did them in were all the lies they told their citizens about what was really happening in Afgan., telling dead soldiers mothers their sons were dying due to farming accidents on agricultural projects when their bodies were riddled with bullets, and the like. It was the last straw from 70 years of lies and when Russian mothers took to the streets in large numbers to protest the slaughter, the Soviets had nothing and knew the game was up, along with the crushing economics of a corrupt bloated state run beaurocracy and the moral depravity of occupying too many countries against the will of those countries.

    We went to Afghanistan because somebody there sent people here to kill civilians in large numbers on purpose. Therein lies the difference with the Soviets. We have no other business there than keeping that from happening again, and catching or killing the perpetrators. And I think it has been painfully obvious for a while now, that running around the countryside playing whack a mole with the Taliban does not serve that single purpose. But pulling up and leaving completely doesn’t either. There are alternatives that are less costly and deadly to not only our troops, but the civilian Afghan population as well.

  32. 32
    Martin says:

    Jeez, man. Coat the bottom of the pan in oil, shove it in a 300 degree oven for an hour and you’re good as new. Not hardly something worth getting pissy over.

  33. 33
    Derek says:

    I bet Dr. Grams was dentist to some of my students before he left Durango. If he he left his practice four years ago, that’s shortly after I arrived here, so I never met him myself.

  34. 34
    Lancelot Link says:

    Let me see, the Taliban is a conservative, highly religious political party officially out of power, going to extremes to prevent the official, more liberal, foreign-influenced government from actually helping the lives of the people. I’ve seen this political dynamic somewhere else…

    The Taliban really are the “Party of No”.

  35. 35
    matt says:

    And on the BBC side of things, the coverage has been on another victim, Brit Dr. Karen Woo, who blogged here.

    Sad story, not just for Americans.

  36. 36
    Cermet says:

    Why does the tragic death of a handful of Americans at the hands of these cowards cause more anger than when drunks slaughter over a thousand men, woman, teens, children and even babies who are also good and didn’t deserve their deaths or horrible injuries. In the one first case, a few adults who understand their risk are uselessly killed or in the later case, many, many times their number (and the odd’s of it being you aren’t too bad) and are not even aware of their danger at the hands of these stupid mindless drunks are then murdered by fellow amerikans that just don’t give a shi# about anyone but their own needs for fun. Makes little sense – how we allow these monsters on the raods or why one case gets us more angry than the other (the one that could be us!).

  37. 37
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Martin: Solutions do not help the poutrage.

  38. 38
    Capn America says:

    @wilfred:
    I’m pretty sure normal Afghans don’t care one way or another about missionaries, and care a lot more about getting food and aid, which often comes with missionaries (and Afghanis are happy to take the food and aid without the religion). The only people who care about Christian missionaries are Wahhabist missionaries, who only have bullets to give the Afghan people.

  39. 39
    Twisted_Colour says:

    http://www.radioaustralianews......tm?desktop

    Police in Afghanistan have reportedly detained one of the drivers of a convoy of foreign medical workers who were killed as they travelled through the north-eastern province of Badakhshan.

    They say the man is a suspect and may have assisted the armed men who ambushed the convoy of medical workers killing the American, German and British workers of the International Assistance Mission.

    Their two Afghan translators were also shot dead.

    The Taliban has claimed responsibilty for the attack.

    But police say robbery is a more likely motive because the victims had been stripped of their valuables.

  40. 40
    cmorenc says:

    It is hard to lift people out of impoverishment, oppression, and ignorance when there are so many powerful, ruthlessly sociopathic local people who see it as strongly in their own best interests to keep them that way, except perhaps in very narrow, modest ways that reinforce their own power and are seen as coming exclusively from themselves. They use not just fear, but resentment of outsiders and invocation of religion twisted to justify a status quo with themselves in control of things.

    Sound familiar somewhere other than just Afghanistan? Try the rural southern United States.

  41. 41
    The Dangerman says:

    @eco2geek:

    They say the definition of insanity is to keep on doing the same thing and expecting different results.

    That was my point in the first post; we’re not “doing the same thing”. Bush let Afghanistan go to Hell (perhaps, go deeper into Hell would be more correct) while he got his Oedipus on with Saddam; only recently have we been revising strategy (and increasing resources).

    …and have been at war since October, 2001, with very little in terms of results to show for it.

    It’s unfortunate that Dubya and Darth had to go and call this a war; in wars, you gain land, topple armies, and change governments. Iraq was a war (and a stupid waste, but that was Dubya/Darth for ya); Afghanistan is more a Police Action where we are fighting a bunch of thugs and criminals (that are armed to the fucking teeth, of course). Sadly, it’ll be like the War on Drugs (another waste, but the comparison is apt) in that the “War” on terror will never end. There will be another terrorist strike at some point in the future; the idea is to prevent the facilitation of it.

    As for Osama bin Laden, I find it very difficult to believe that, with a $50 million price on his head, he’s still alive.

    Yes, he could already be dead; an ironclad confirmation as the October Surprise would be sufficient.

  42. 42
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Cermet: Because, like it or not, we are tribal. Something bad happening to someone who is similar to us makes it easier to empathize.

    Also, these are people who chose to go to a dangerous place to help people. The people who live there did not chose to be there; they simply are there. It does not make their suffering less horrific, but it does not make them heroic.

  43. 43
    Ruckus says:

    Just get out of the region. Now.

    I’ve been saying this for a while and keep getting attacked as over simplifying the situation. That it is much more nuanced than just get out.
    It really isn’t.
    We won’t do this of course for a number of very crappy reasons, in no particular order.
    1. War is sometimes considered good for the economy. Looking around makes me think this one needs work.
    2. Pakistan has nuclear weapons. So does India, China, Israel, France, UK, Russia, probably N. Korea. Did I leave anyone out, or is there someone else’s neighbors we need to attack?
    3. To not dishonor our dead soldiers. OK let’s keep killing so the already dead don’t feel like they got fucked for no reason.
    4. Politics.

    And using the street concept of retribution, we were attacked and a few thousand innocent were killed. We’ve now killed or caused to be killed thousands of times that number of innocents. I think we’re probably even by now.

  44. 44
    bkny says:

    @eco2geek:

    there should never have been military invasions of iraq and afghanistan. as far as bin laden, the pursuit of him should have been a jacked up law enforcement effort and a trial. but, then, without those wars, there could never have been the greatest transfer of wealth, the rise of a government supported private army, the expansion of the national security state, and biggest bonus of all creating conditions that will lead to the dismantling of social security and the remaining social safety net.

  45. 45
    Fern says:

    One of the people killed worked for a north american aid agency of which my sister-in-law is ED. This is hitting them very hard.

  46. 46
    ksmiami says:

    Get out of that hell-hole and monitor all financial transactions from SAUDI ARABIA. My friend at the Christian Science Monitor was posted in Afghanistan for 5 weeks and despite years in the poorest of countries, she basically said Afghanistan is the most savage horrible place on earth.

    We will not accomplish anything there…

    And If Bill Kristol complains, drop him in some remote mountain village with a couple MREs and a gun and see how long he lasts.

  47. 47
    Ruckus says:

    @bkny:
    You read my mind.

  48. 48
    Keith G says:

    @Cermet: I don’t know where you live, but in my corner of the world the local news thrive on the details of “intoxication manslaughter” – yeah we even have a special name for it.

    We get photos of mangled sheet metal and cameras jammed into the faces of grieving survivors. If children are involved, we may even get the special treat of a “stand up” from the funeral.

    Other cameras will show us the now orange wearing perp shuffled up to a judge.

    And. On. It. Goes.

    So, what the fuck are you ranting about?

  49. 49
    Cat Lady says:

    @ksmiami:

    monitor all financial transactions from SAUDI ARABIA

    Saudi Arabia is wearing the invisible cloak made of petroleum. Does anyone other than me remember that 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi? Anyone? Bueller?

    What a fucking clusterfuck of epic proportions started by that traitorous fucktard Bush.

  50. 50
    And Another Thing... says:

    @Martin: Oh, NO, man… that’s just the start of a well seasoned cast iron pan. I’ve got one that’s almost as non-stick as an expensive non-stick pan. Except that well-seasoned cast iron pan will give your cornbread and brownies fabulous crust.

    And John is absolutely right about perspective and the abysmal world some people live in.

  51. 51
    ksmiami says:

    @Cat Lady:

    I am continually amazed at many American’s ability to be distracted by shiny metal objects.

    I’ll never forget pulling up to get gas after 9/11 and some jerk with an SUV had a bumper sticker that read “If you buy drugs, you are supporting terrorists”, as he pumped 30 gallons into his monster…

  52. 52
    joe from Lowell says:

    I don’t understand how you go from “The people we’re fighting are horrible monsters,” to “We should stop fighting them and leave,” unless you stop off in “But we’re the problem.”

    And we’re not.

  53. 53
    burnspbesq says:

    @Ruckus:

    Pakistan has nuclear weapons. So does India, China, Israel, France, UK, Russia, probably N. Korea.

    Of that list, only Pakistan has the potential for control of those nuclear weapons ending up in the hands of religious zealots who can’t be deterred. I have no doubt – none at all – that if that happens, India will launch a pre-emptive strike.

    That’s the difference.

  54. 54
    mai naem says:

    I don’t know how to do the block quote thing so I don’t know how this is going to come out but this is from one of Dr. Karen Woo’s blog entries. The whole thing’s pretty funny esp. the last part. Wonder if Hilary;s going to find out about this. Nice to see that Brits seem to be even more cynical than me.

    In deference to the Kabul Conference, the airport and roads surrounding are completely closed, so many important people arriving, amongst them Hilary Clinton, who, when I saw her on the TV, looked ever so much like a man in drag. PM had horrified me with stories that she was partial to a little reverse action, especially with young men, and I just couldn’t get those images out of my head when watching her despite the fact that what she was saying was reasonable and not totally outlandish. Most of the time I listen to politicians on the TV with an autistic head on, you know the kind of head where you can instantly tell when someone is lying through their teeth or is simply delivering a foil of bullshit, liberally peppered with terms designed to disguise that there is absolutely nothing inside the hot air that they are spouting. If you squint your eyes a little and just listen to the words, the child or the dog inside you, the bit that is innocent and can still tell the difference, will raise it’s ears and say, “That person is offering me what looks like food but when I go to eat it they will grab me by the paws and squeeze me til it hurts, best I don’t listen to them”. So I am torn but find myself switching on the TV to listen to various puffy people talking shit.

  55. 55
    eco2geek says:

    @The Dangerman: The Afghanistan war is only a “police action” in the sense that the US didn’t ask for anyone’s approval to go in.

    The stated goal of the war (other than to kill ObL) was to destroy Al Quaeda and oust the Taliban regime. So we’ve installed a government of sorts, but the Taliban seems to be as strong as it ever was, even though it doesn’t control Kabul.

    So what’s the winning plan? Send in more troops, keep fighting the Taliban, wage a hearts and minds campaign, and hope for the best?

    And why are we spending lives and money there while we’ve got the Son of the Great Depression to deal with here?

  56. 56
    joe from Lowell says:

    I keep seeing anti-war people seize on the fact that “there are less than 100 al Qaeda operatives in Afghanistan.”

    Yes, there are.

    How do you think that number became that low?

    Personally, I like that a whole lot better than the way things were in September 2001.

  57. 57
    Kevin Phillips Bong says:

    In related news, just came out of a showing of Restrepo, a point of view documentary about an Army outpost in the Korengal Valley. If you’re at all interested in the war, go see. It’s fantastic. I wish there was some way to get my fellow RPA pilots to go see it too, if only to reconnect to what’s going on at ground level, both good and bad.

  58. 58
    Bob Loblaw says:

    @joe from Lowell:

    You can’t fight an asymmetrical war against an enemy with nothing to lose. It’s been tried and failed. It is failing now and will continue to do so.

    It’s either total war or none at all.

  59. 59
    ksmiami says:

    @joe from Lowell:

    I am not saying we should not keep rooting them out, we should just not kid ourselves that we can build anything good there. There is no civil society, no infrastructure and everything we try and build will not last. It is a brutal, savage place and there is nothing we can do to change it.

  60. 60
    Michael says:

    @susan:

    This is important, because when excess oil remains in the skillet, it becomes rancid.

    Never had that happen, and soap never touches my skillet.

    Cast iron skillet cleaning is best done while your skillet is still hot. While the “no soap” rule handed down for generations is no longer applicable, it is also worthy to mention that you should not clean your skillet more than is necessary. For example, if you fry up a couple of eggs, wiping the pan with a paper towel may be all that is required to clean your skillet. However, if you have bits of stuck-on food that require scrubbing, clean the skillet by running it under very hot tap water. If necessary use a fiber-brush to scrub, but don’t use steel wool or other abrasives, and while you can use dish soap it is important to avoid harsh soaps. If your skillet requires a little extra scrubbing, once it is dried, spray it with a vegetable spray and wipe it with a paper towel.

    For the stubborn stuff, I boil water in it and reseason. The stuck on goodies float right up after about 10 minutes.

  61. 61
    The Dangerman says:

    @eco2geek:

    The Afghanistan war is only a “police action” in the sense that the US didn’t ask for anyone’s approval to go in.

    Perhaps “Police Action” isn’t right, either; my point was to compare the length of the Afghan “war” against other wars is problematic. We are in Afghanistan now after the principal conflict ended (which took only a couple of months, as I recall), kinda like us being in Germany since the end of WW2 or Korea since the end of that conflict. That comparison has problems, too, but it’s closer to the truth. Even after the drawdown starting next year, I suspect we will have a nonzero presence in Afghanistan for a while. Presumably not as long as Germany or Korea is all…

    So what’s the winning plan?

    No clue on a winning plan, but beating feet out of country sounds like a losing plan.

  62. 62
    Martin says:

    @And Another Thing…: Yeah, so do I. It’s about 40 years old now. I’ve got ones that are only a few years old. They’ve gotten washed with soap now and then – nothing that an extra seasoning pass can’t solve. Proportionate response.

    Jeez, guys. It’s cookware that the guys in covered wagons carried with them. It’s pretty hard to fuck up. Certainly not worth poutrage over, unless you’re a cookware snob, which Cole certainly doesn’t seem to be. Shit, take it as excuse to fry up some chicken. If *that* doesn’t solve it, and your poutrage, well, fuck, there’s no hope for ya.

  63. 63

    A clue to knowing that they aren’t telling you what the war is about is that they keep giving you different reasons for it. Having lived through the Vietnam Era (and having served in the Army during it), presume that there is oil in the neighborhood and oil companies with a relationship to the US military want a cut of it. Vietnam was just up the road from Indonesia. Check. US helped overthrow Sukarno and supported a pliant military regime there. Check. The Vietnam War was just a continuation of the colonial mentality of the French and Japanese before the Americans with the fear of dominos falling all the way to Jakarta.

    Unocal has been trying to put a pipeline through Afghanistan for decades to get to all that oil in all those ‘stans. (Before the Russian Revolution a young Herbert Hoover held the paper for those oil fields.) Unfortunately, Russia has a better in with those countries and has been running pipes to the West; and China is working on lines running to the east to feed its industries. Even Iran has been planning a parallel pipeline to compete with the Unocal project and supply oil to the south and to India.

    Long short, the trillions of dollars and thousands of lives lost over the last decade have been the cost oil companies have extracted from Americans in order to get a piece of the action in Central Asia.

    Dentistry in Afghanistan is of no concern to Exxon. Nor is humanity.

  64. 64
    Honus says:

    @Michael: you can wash your spiders (old timey name for iron skillets) in soap every day as long as you dry them on the stove. It’s the air drying that causes the rust.
    If they were well-seasoned, washing them in soap once won’t hurt them a bit. In fact, the whole no soap thing is bullshit. If you never use any soap and never scrub your skillets, you’re cooking in dirty skillets. In every kitchen I’ve ever worked skillets go directly from the stove to the dishwater to the rinse and back to the stove and they are beautifully seasoned; nothing ever sticks.

  65. 65
    Ruckus says:

    @joe from Lowell:
    I wonder how made up this number is? At one time I recall hearing that the number was less than 1000 before 2002 and after it had grown to 5000 to 6000. And now it’s back to a small number, 100. Where does that number come from? If our intel is so good that we have an accurate count, how come it’s so bad we can’t seem to find them? And how come every time we blow up another town or province and kill the number 3 man, who I assume is not all by himself, why does the number never change?
    As always a little looking does wonders. Check the right side column for strengths, casualties and losses.

    The answer is, this is not a war. Just like the war on drugs or the war on poverty, or the war on terror, we have renamed something wrongly to make it salable. Our country is run by Mad Men and I do mean that like the TV show. Everything is packaged, embellished, lied about, till no one knows the truth, or that there even is a truth.

  66. 66
    russell says:

    Ain’t nobody gonna get the Taliban out of Afghanistan but the Afghans.

  67. 67
    Olivia says:

    Relax, your pans will be fine. I have used cast iron for 40 years and I always use dish soap to wash them. Sometimes I even soak them in soapy water. They are still lovely and the non-stick properties are perfect. I have actually(gasp!) put them in the dishwasher once or twice because I couldn’t stand the crud on the outside.(OK, they needed re-seasoning after that.)

  68. 68
    El Cid says:

    Maybe we should ask the Taliban to be nice enough to gather in one area so we could bomb them away instead of being in the midst of the civil war and weaving in and out of Afghan society.

    Or we could just bomb them all in the name of defeating ‘the Taliban.’

  69. 69
    AhabTRuler says:

    @El Cid:

    Or we could just bomb them all in the name of defeating ‘the Taliban.’

    Old tricks are the best tricks, eh?

  70. 70
    Yutsano says:

    @AhabTRuler: I believe the phrase you’re looking for here is “Kill them all. God will know his own.” Didn’t go too good for the Albigensians either.

  71. 71
    Miss Mouse says:

    @Cacti: Sadly, I stand corrected.

  72. 72
    SRW1 says:

    I share the view that what the Taliban did to the aid workers is despicable, because these people went to Afghanistan to provide help to the Afghan people. But I am wondering whether there is not a double standard at work.

    I’ll offer this as a hypothetical, though it wouldn’t surprise me at all if something of that sort actually would have happened:
    What if the civilian aid workers would have been Russians during the time of the Soviet occupation? Would our disgust have been as unequivocal or would we instead have said they simply shouldn’t have been there?

  73. 73
    Bob Loblaw says:

    SRW1, do you really want the answer to that question?

    Foreign aid workers go missing (or worse) in the Sahel from AQ affiliates all the time, and it’s never been considered an American national security threat.

  74. 74
    kdaug says:

    @burnspbesq: Yurp. And guess who’s going to be delivering to the Indians the targeting and telemetry?

    (If you answered “The entire rest of the world”, PING, you win a prize.)

  75. 75
    AhabTRuler says:

    @kdaug: That would likely be unwise:

    According to a US congressional report, Pakistan has addressed issues of survivability in a possible nuclear conflict through second strike capability. Pakistan has been dealing with efforts to develop new weapons and at the same time, have a strategy for surviving a nuclear war. Pakistan has built hard and deeply buried storage and launch facilities to retain a second strike capability in a nuclear war.
    __
    It was confirmed that Pakistan has built Soviet-style road-mobile missiles, state-of-the-art air defences around strategic sites, and other concealment measures. In 1998, Pakistan had ‘at least six secret locations’ and since then it is believed Pakistan may have many more such secret sites. In 2008, the United States admitted that it did not know where all of Pakistan’s nuclear sites are located. Pakistani defence officials have continued to rebuff and deflect American requests for more details about the location and security of the country’s nuclear sites.

  76. 76
    matoko_chan says:

    ok Cole. enough.

    saying the workers were trying to convert Muslims to Christianity.

    BECAUSE THAT IS WHAT WE HAVE BEEN FUCKING DOING THERE FOR NINE FUCKING YEARS! Those assclowns WERE missionaries, they were just too bleeding stupid to realize it.
    They were just frontline cannon fodder in judeo-xian america’s war on islam…. heh ….. martyrs for Big White Plastic Jesus.
    Hundreds of thousands of people have suffered, bled and DIED because the United States of Assclowns doesn’t get that when when muslims can vote they WILL FUCKING VOTE FOR SHARIAH.

    1. we have been engaged in an unjust, unwinnable, and immoral war in Afghanistan and we are still pouring blood and treasure down a bottomless pit..
    2. the reason we are there is that George Bush did not understand that when muslims are empowered to vote democratically, they will vote for Islamic government. The Bush Doctrine, which IS nation-building by “implanting western style democracy” was doomed to fail from the start because of the fact that muslims will vote for Islam, when they can vote. Probably Bush’s advisors realized this, but preferred to exploit a wartime economy and a wartime electorate for their own reasons.
    3. COIN is just the Bush Doctrine scaled down to village size, so it is doomed to fail also.
    4. COIN exploits some parts of SNT, but ignores other parts….it cancels itself out…or worse.
    5. Trying to westernize Islam, or “reform” Islam to make it more like judeochristianity, will never work. The muslims that cooperate will be regarded by the ummah as maftoons, a sort of uncle toms….or as kapos.
    6. The reason we elected an intellectually incurious, stubborn and highly religious president is that the past 50 years of memetic evolution in conservative leadership have selected for anti-intellectualism, anti-science and anti-higher education candidates, and forced a dogmatic religious conviction on the candidates. Sarah Palin and George Bush are exemplars of the end product of memetic selection in conservative leadership.
    7. Wikileaks gave us a critical mass of data that substantiates the premise that we are losing, and that the war in Afghanistan is unwinnable.
    We cannot win hearts and minds with conversion by the sword.
    The Wikileaks documents and videos represent a failure of our security protocols….but more than that…..they represent an abject failure of our mission.
    As an analyst Manning took an oath to protect classified data….but as a moral homo sapiens sapiens he became a leaker….he wasn’t paid by Assange…he gifted the data to the world.

    COIN cannot work, because it is impossible to stand up western style government on islamic cultural substrate.
    It can’t be done.
    Everyone can admit the Bush Doctrine was fail, well…. COIN IS the Bush Doctrine…but scaled down to villages instead of whole countries…like Iraq.
    Wikileaks is the harbinger of doom for the neocon warpimps that want to keep us scammed into bleeding and dying for nothing so we don’t have to admit that we elected a man so profoundly unfit to lead that he nearly destroyed our country and so they can hold onto power.
    But Manning is just the edge of the wave…it won’t stop.
    The war is unjust, unwinnable, and immoral, and we are losing badly….and this will all come out to the american public from behind the doors……because of the internet and information osmosis… and because the analysts can see that the war is unwinnable and immoral…. people with clearances are becoming radicalized because the military and the government ARE lying to the public.
    But by all means let the COINdinista fucktards go back to their RL tabletop wargaming and thinktanks and dissertations and conferences for as long as they can milk fundage out of the CNAS initiative.
    Wake up America.
    This shit is being done in YOUR FUCKING NAME!

    Previously, the government relied on Barelvis to counter extremist thought and this led to Baraelvis being killed.

    Those are real bleeding suffering dying humans we are playing with, not die-cast warhammer figures painted lovingly with an eyelash brush..

    Can we please go home NAOW?
    Before more humans die?

  77. 77
    matoko_chan says:

    and yes i fucking hate you all.
    and im very drunk.

  78. 78
    Bob Loblaw says:

    @matoko_chan:

    Is it possible for you and mclaren to find your own, presumably special needs, blog for yourselves?

  79. 79
    AhabTRuler says:

    @matoko_chan: That is quite possibly the only thing that you have ever written that I have liked, wallah!

  80. 80
    kdaug says:

    @AhabTRuler: If I understand, gameplan is India goes first (their intelligence is better) and then if we see secondary trails we hit from nuke subs.

    The Paks have been in on this from the beginning, too. The ISI aren’t as influential as they think they are – and it’s not just the “west” whose going to have a problem with the Talib getting the bomb. The big players will NOT LET THIS HAPPEN.

    You think the stink over Iran is an issue? You ain’t seen nothing if the Talibs actually take control of a nuke site.

  81. 81
    Bruce (formerly Steve S.) says:

    This the kind of thing that just makes you want to bomb the Taliban back to the stone ages

    True, but when you read about My Lai or Wounded Knee or Dresden or Hiroshima or Fallujah it makes you want to bomb America back to the stone ages. Right?

  82. 82
    AhabTRuler says:

    @Bruce (formerly Steve S.): No, silly, that’s different.

  83. 83
    matoko_chan says:

    @Bob Loblaw: what’s bugging you Bobby?
    the fact that that those simpletons let their stupid bigselves be sacrificed in the name of Baby Jeebus or that muslims will vote for shariah and prefer death to being converted to xianity and western culture?
    or that we spent 1.5 trillion dollars in treasure and 6000 american soljah lives in blood and have nothing to show for it but the undying enmity of 1.7 billion muslims and a couple hundred thou dead brown people?

  84. 84
    Bob Loblaw says:

    Actually, it’s because you are apparently incapable of typing and conversing like anything resembling a human being.

    This blog should ban you as a spambot.

  85. 85
    matoko_chan says:

    @Bob Loblaw: tais tois imbecile. fermez la gouye.
    i communicate just fine in three languages.
    im speaking the truth and you know it.

  86. 86
    Bella Q says:

    @Bob Loblaw:

    This blog should ban you as a spambot.

    But why? S/he responds to disagreements by labeling those who disagree “retards,” while self-identifying as an intellectual snob, and spouting racist themes (poorly) veiled in pseudo-science. But always passionately insisting (without citation) that, when permitted to vote. Muslims will vote for Shariah (presumably as opposed to a secular government). And that’s when sober. What’s not to adore?

  87. 87
    matoko_chan says:

    @Bella Q: hey twilight, ima fucking IQist, not a racist.
    go suck necks or somethin.
    :)

  88. 88
    DPirate says:

    Which is it? Is bringing cocacola and tshirts to indigenous Peruvians good or bad? Is bombing people back to the stone age good or bad?

    Missionaries get killed by the people they try to help. Even atheist missionaries. What gets me is that we won’t leave them be even when we have them all working in Nike factories. And that is what actions like this are meant to say. That the perpetrators reject everything that the invader is doing. So tell me, did these guys show them how to clean their teeth with locally available materials? Or did they give them factory made plastic toothbrushes and chemical detergent pastes? Do they expect them to buy replacements? Yes, they do! Maybe they can get the money spying on their countrymen for us or something…

    Aside: it’s funny how serendipity goes on and on. There is a line in a song called 51st State (of America) that goes: “We know how to clean our teeth and how to strip down a gun”. lol

    @The Dangerman:

    (Leaving Afghanistan) is the rough equivalent of stopping the building of the (not) mosque that is proposed at (not) Ground Zero; both would be reacting to thugs (admittedly, the Taliban are thugs with guns).

    No. This analogy is so crazy I don’t know what to say. Do you really think we ought to stay just to spite the people who live there? I wonder if I could find similar arguments in old copies of Pravda.

    @joe from Lowell: I do not believe that “these people are barbarians”, but I do believe that yes, we are the problem.

  89. 89
    Corner Stone says:

    I was playing Lego Star Wars for Wii with my son during this thread.
    Clearly that makes me the only winner here.

  90. 90
    Ruckus says:

    @Corner Stone:
    Yes, yes it does.

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