The Accidental Bombings Will Continue Until Morale Improves

I honestly have no idea what we are doing in Afghanistan any more other than pissing people off, losing troops to a lost cause, wasting billions, and creating more terrorists. We’re not bringing freedom to anyone, we’re not making ourselves any safer, and I have yet to see any long term plan articulated (mind you- we’re ten years in and still wondering what we are doing. Whack-a-mole is not a plan). Hell, we aren’t even honest enough with ourselves to demand that the Pentagon give us a possible plan for withdrawal, and I guarantee no one can tell me what we are trying to accomplish without the response turning into “blah blah Taliban blah blah they hit us first blah blah Pakistan nukes.” No one knows what the fuck we are doing, no one knows what a “win” in Afghanistan looks like, and sure as shit no one can gauge whether we are “winning.”

There’s this odd institutional paralysis where we have convinced ourselves that leaving will be worse than the disastrous status quo, but no one can really explain why, yet anyone who suggests we unass the area of operations and go home is castigated as wanting to “lose” or hating America. We’re just sort of there, meandering around, clueless and breaking shit and pissing people off, like a 60 year old burnout on acid at the Dead show campground three days after the concert. Ask them what they are doing and it will resemble our plan in Afghanistan with less bloodshed and fewer visions of rainbows. The smell will be about the same.

GTFO.






89 replies
  1. 1

    The Afghanistan war is Keynesian economics through the Military-Industrial Complex.

    What jobs would those Americans be doing if the United States wasn’t occupying Afghanistan?

    Rejecting claims at health insurance companies?

    Working at a casino built to allow some state government more gambling revenue?

  2. 2
    300baud says:

    For those looking for some background and current status, The Economist recently did a long article on the war in Afghanistan and prospects for the future.

  3. 3
    Ghanima Atreides says:

    At a memorial day barbeque yesterday i was listening to a soldier that just finished his second tour and he says he is out, done, finito. He says also the drawdown has already started.
    He said….and I quote…

    I saw things that no one should ever see, but it didn’t mess me up.

    One of his friends saw some shit that messed him up into permanent disability.
    Every soldier that comes back now has to go through PTSD therapy.
    EVERY soldier.
    I asked if we could leave now that we got OBL, and he said unfortunately OBL wasn’t the head of the Taliban, and wasn’t even in the Taliban chain of command. He said his unit fought the Pakistani Tarik-e-Taliban (party of Taliban) all the time, because they were constantly trying to flow weapons to the “insurgents” through the valley where his unit was stationed.
    The Tarik-e-Taliban is the taliban party in the Pakistani government.
    They have seats in parliament.
    How messed up is that?

  4. 4
    c u n d gulag says:

    When you don’t know what your goal is, stumbling around, killing people, and blowing shit up, seems like a plan.

    WTF! Why can’t we just declare victory and leave?

  5. 5
    stuckinred says:

    You think there are problems with PTSD now, wait till these troops find out what chumps they really were. The bitterness will be blinding.

  6. 6
    cleek says:

    There’s this odd institutional paralysis where we have convinced ourselves that leaving will be worse than the disastrous status quo, but no one can really explain why

    the why is easy: leaving will result in the creation of thousands of attack ads.

    nobody wants to be known as the person who pulled out before the country was soaked in hot, thick, American Freedom sauce.

  7. 7
    Mike Goetz says:

    That Economist article and others like it is what people should read to understand the situation over there. Not this autopilot GTFO stuff.

  8. 8
    bkny says:

    someone’s making billions — and would hate to see that flow of $$$$$$$$$$$ stopped.

    exit afghanistan … and it’s on to iran, babeeee. i highly recommend checking out pat lang’s blog for an honest take on developments.

  9. 9
    stuckinred says:

    Cleek is right on time. The right will turn this shit on the dems so fast it will make your head spin.

  10. 10
    tequila says:

    Ghanima,

    I think you are really over-exaggerating the PTSD issue.

    I did my spin in Iraq in 2008 in the USMC Reserves as an infatryman. I didn’t come home and beat my girlfriend or kill my dog. I hold down a job in finance and will go to Afghanistan next year. It’s not something I’m particularly enthused about, but someone’s got to, and I’d rather be a grunt than anything else.

    The TTP does not have seats in the Pakistani parliament. Wikipedia has a decent article about them:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T.....n_Pakistan

  11. 11
    hildebrand says:

    It is time to get out, as it seems the Karzai government is actually the greatest impediment to getting anything accomplished, and he doesn’t seem to be going anywhere any time soon. A couple of questions – What is the actual worst case scenario once we get out? What is the best case scenario? This part of the world simply isn’t my expertise, and I would love to hear some thoughts on this that weren’t laundered through (gah, I hate saying this, it sounds so right-wing whack-a-loon) the traditional media.

  12. 12
    Jazz Superluminar says:

    @cleek

    the person who pulled out before the country was soaked in hot, thick, American Freedom sauce.

    Some say that abstinance works better.

  13. 13
    stuckinred says:

    @tequila: Ever hear of “late onset PTSD”? The older my dad got the worse it was. He was in the Pacific for 4 years came home, became a teacher and a coach and put it all away.I am in no way challenging what you are saying for you but I’ve been home for 40 years and I have seen good friends that were just fine melt down. Take care of yourself.

  14. 14
    comrade scott's agenda of rage says:

    Methinks the answer(s) were found right here at BJ:

    http://www.balloon-juice.com/2.....orial-day/

  15. 15
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @bkny:

    someone’s making billions—and would hate to see that flow of $$$$$$$$$$$ stopped.

    DING DING DING DING DING!

    We have a winner!

    The blood of American soldiers and Afghan civilians is not precious enough to offset the sweet lucre of an endless war.

  16. 16
    Mike Goetz says:

    Thank you, tequila. I like hearing from people like you on these issues, cutting against the grain of a lot of rote assumptions.

  17. 17
    srv says:

    Pakistani newspaper the other day had an article about how billions of US aid (dollars and material) are given to the Pakistani army without any accounting by the civilian government. The Finance Minister is quoted from a cable as begging a US official to be ‘in the loop.’

    You know, FUBAR isn’t really appropriately strong enough for our policies over there. We need some stronger acronyms.

  18. 18
    Montysano says:

    There was this half-bright kid who used to work at our company, an $8.00/hour warm body. He now makes $90K tax free (plus per diem, board, and 2 round trip tickets home per year) working in food service for a gummint contractor in Afghanistan. He is not particularly interested in peace.

  19. 19
    Redshift says:

    I generally stay out of discussions of Afghanistan because I’m conflicted. I’d like to get out and not be spending money on wars, but my gut reaction to “why don’t we just leave” is “yeah, because that worked so well last time.” (Also, it bugs me that so many people on the liberal side who were terribly concerned about the status of women in Afghanistan were apparently about as sincere about it as Bush was.)

    To avoid the same outcome as last time, it seems like it would definitely be better to have less military presence and have all that money go instead to reconstruction and development, but:

    – we have a populace that can be convinced that we need to cut the budget and that 40% of the federal budget goes to foreign aid, and,

    – it’s a corrupt enough country that if we just send money and no people, there won’t be any reconstruction and development, and people won’t go unless they can be protected…

    And despite declarations that al-Qaeda are all over now, so that region is nowhere special, apparently a lot of the leadership that actually tries to plan attacks on the US is still there. Since it’s not exactly a great place to live or communicate from, it apparently offers advantages in not being found that mean it does matter.

    I’d be happier if I didn’t think these things were true. But it seems to me that there’s a lot of glibness on various sides of the question to make it very black-and-white, and it isn’t.

    I accept that most of the “plan” on the “carry on” side is crap. I would honestly like to hear from the “declare victory and go home” side, considering that the last time we did that in Afghanistan, we got an organization that carried out 9/11 and did horrible damage to our politics and civil liberties, what is your plan? Maybe we’re just making things worse, but assuming that things will be fine if we just go seems a lot like “hope is not a plan” to me.

  20. 20
    Fred says:

    Opinions like yours are not only naive. They are dangerous. Got nothing to do with warmongering btw.

  21. 21
    Hypnos says:

    If you think PTSD is bad for American soldiers who have done a couple of 6 months tours imagine how it must be for the Afghani people.

    They have been at war since 1979. They have nowhere to go “home” to. Their home is a ravaged shell of a country.

    The US is finding it very hard to handle a few thousands traumatised soldiers and it thinks it can handle an entire traumatised country?

  22. 22
    alwhite says:

    To quote the late, great, George Carlin:
    “Pull out? I donno, Bill, doesn’t sound manly to me!”

    To leave would be tantamount to admitting the uselessness of the occupation. It would invite embarrassing questions about Iraq. It could easily be seen that so many of the deaths were for no good reason. We can’t have that! We have to continue to pretend we have a reason & a goal so more kids can die for no good reason. More deaths is the only way we can show that all the deaths till now were not a waste.

    It will probably require a Republican President, since the Republican’s would pummel any Democrat that would try it.

  23. 23
    alwhite says:

    @Redshift:

    It sounds like you are suggesting we have to stay forever. Since we are not making it better by staying but it will get worse if we leave (you guess).

    Look how bad Viet Nam turned out when we left there . . . Oh, that’s right, they are now a trading partner and nominal allie. Not to minimize the death and destruction they managed to provide themselves after we left but it would have happened after we left if we had stayed there another 30 years. The only thing that would have changed had we left 10 years earlier would be that wall in DC would be much smaller.

  24. 24
    gene108 says:

    @cleek:

    the why is easy: leaving will result in the creation of thousands of attack ads.

    I disagree. Where are the attack adds for ceasing combat operations in Iraq?

    @Ghanima Atreides: As this post points out, there are people in Pakistan, who want the Taliban to be back in control of Afghanistan, so they can have a foreign base to launch attacks against India and therefore have some greater level of plausible deniability for future attacks against India.

    Why should this concern the U.S.? Because the Taliban wouldn’t mind letting groups, who want to attack the U.S. have a safe haven to plan complicated attacks.

    I don’t know why the Afghan military can’t do what we’re doing now or how much money it would take to get the Afghan military into a reasonable fighting force. I don’t think we’ll be able to get out of there entirely, but as long as we can draw down troops and limit our casualties, I think we should call it a success.

  25. 25
    tequila says:

    @stuckinred:

    Thanks for the thought. I know a lot of people are concerned about our troops and PTSD, and that’s great. Better that the problem is at least addressed for those who need it and not ignored as it was for previous generations.

    But do not make the mistake of looking at all American servicemen and servicewomen as victims. We are not that. We are volunteers in a time of war, and generally we know what we are getting into when we take the oath. Nothing prepares you psychologically for combat, but don’t just assume that because one has been in combat that one needs psychological care. It’s just not so – much less for the many thousands who go overseas and see as much combat as the local police in your hometown. The vast majority of troops who deploy are NOT in combat roles.

  26. 26
    gex says:

    @Redshift: Seems to me we are alienating the populace either way. Assuming we can’t/won’t stay there forever, the “we need to stay” folks should propose a plan that accomplishes something, not the folks who want to withdraw. How does further military action and bombings and drones help women in Afghanistan? Leaving because no good can be accomplished by bombing the shit out of things isn’t the same as not caring about the womens’ issues.

    There have been endless reasons put forth to continue our endless war machine. We can add women’s issues to the list, but it doesn’t mean the war is any more necessary or useful.

  27. 27

    Afghanistan is the TAPI Pipeline, a grand scheme of Big Oil for decades. The war is to subjugate the region so that natural gas can flow to the Indian Ocean where it will power factories in India that are taking away American jobs.

    “Mission creep” is just another lie. It was always about corporations controlling energy and using America’s wealth and bodies to pay for it.

  28. 28
    Paul in KY says:

    @tequila: You need to read the Rolling Stone article called ‘The Kill Team’. It seems Afganistan is a different animal than Iraq.

  29. 29
    Paul in KY says:

    @Redshift: What ‘last time’?

  30. 30
    MonkeyBoy says:

    It’s known as the sunk cost fallacy as part of an irrational escalation of commitment – i.e. “throwing good money after bad”.

    Assuming there was a good reason to spend so much money on Afghanistan, to leave before achieving “our goals” would make all that spending useless and lost. And since so much money was spent there must have been a good reason for doing so. Staying the course is more emotionally satisfying than admitting the course was mistaken in the first place.

  31. 31
    WaterGirl says:

    @alwhite: It’s like the boss who can’t/won’t fire the guy who sucks, because the boss is the one who hired the guy who sucks, and admitting the guy sucks would reflect badly on the boss who hired the guy who sucks. Stupid stupid stupid.

  32. 32
    stuckinred says:

    @tequila: You are preaching to the choir. I did a tour in Korea and a tour in Vietnam and as my old man said, “never fired a shot in anger”. The logistical tail has always wagged the dog. Call me crazy I just really care about the well-being of those at the tip of the spear. Guilt I guess.

  33. 33
    gene108 says:

    @gex:

    How does further military action and bombings and drones help women in Afghanistan?

    Since I’m also in the two-minds camp, I think the simple answer is that if the current government falls to a Taliban insurgency, the lot of women in Afghanistan will get worse.

    Not having the Taliban in power gives women an opportunity, they otherwise would not have.

    Are the Taliban a real threat to toppling the current government? I’m guessing they are. They seem well supplied and well funded.

    What we really need to get news on is if there are any Afghan Army units engaging, without U.S. support, Taliban forces and what the outcome of those encounters are.

    Basically, can the Afghan Army handle its own shit now or do they still need direct military assistance.

    If we pull out and the Afghan Army can’t handle its shit and the Karzai government gives way to a Taliban government, the lot of women in Afghanistan gets worse overnight.

    At some level the whole Afghan situation boils down to can the Afghan Army handle itself or not?

    Getting out and letting the chips fall where they may, I think, is not a good strategy for us.

    @alwhite:

    Look how bad Viet Nam turned out when we left there . . .

    Pol Pot, the Vietnamese war with Cambodia over border disputes and the subsequent war with China weren’t positives.

    Time heals wounds, but things only started normalizing after several more years of warfare.

  34. 34
    General Stuck says:

    Anyone seen Obama’s poll numbers on “terrorism and national security”. They are in the upper 60’s since he got OBL. And about the same number of voters want us the fuck out of Afghan. So let the wingers write their attack adds. It ain’t 2003 anymore and the public is sick of ground wars on the Asian continent.

    Things could turn to shit, and they likely will to the degree Afghanistan can. They will no doubt resume the civil war between the Taliban and the other half of Afghan that are ethnic tribesman of a different kind.

    Something like the Northern Alliance will once again form, and they can have at it, before we interrupted their centuries long pissing match. Though the NA should at least have as good a weapons as the Taliban this time.

    It is Iraq that is the worry when we pull out of there. And our destructive meddling in that regions volatile politics, could potentially, at least, ignite a regional conflagration where the ME oil spiget is most prominent, where there is all sorts of ethnic and sectarian strife.

    I’d say it’s no better than 50 50 that in a few more years, after leaving, we will be back at it there. For no other reason than to keep the gasoline flowing to American SUV;s.

    Oh, and fuck George Bush very much for that.

  35. 35
    ET says:

    WaPo article today basically about how we may start pulling back from Afghanistan because the costs are unsupportable considering the sate of US finances.

  36. 36
    Tim, Interrupted says:

    John Cole, I wholeheartedly endorse your entire post here, BUT I want to reiterate for the record that I and many millions of other Americans were saying all of this in 2001 and were told to STFU.

    I want my cookie and plaque!

  37. 37
    Tim, Interrupted says:

    @tequila:

    I did my spin in Iraq in 2008 in the USMC Reserves as an infatryman. I didn’t come home and beat my girlfriend or kill my dog. I hold down a job in finance and will go to Afghanistan next year. It’s not something I’m particularly enthused about, but someone’s got to, and I’d rather be a grunt than anything else.

    So would it be fair to say that because you can envision no other role for yourself in life than as a low level, no name cog in a massive war machine as it kills, maims and destroys its way thru wars for $$$ and lies, you are defacto a direct enabler and participant in countless deaths and untold destruction? And you’re OK with that?

    Is there ANY point at which you might draw a line and say the U.S. Military is full of shit and you won’t be a part of it anymore, and you know, get a regular job, stay home and try to engage life in a more constructive way?

    Oh, and you are hopelessly naive about PTSD, just as the military wants its automatons to be.

    Just a thought, but I am interested in your reply.

  38. 38
    Tim, Interrupted says:

    @General Stuck:

    I’d say it’s no better than 50 50 that in a few more years, after leaving, we will be back at it there. For no other reason than to keep the gasoline flowing to American SUV;s

    .

    Oh STuckles…dear, dear Stuckles:

    And in three years of rule, what has Obama done or attempted to do in the way of a FULL OUT, Manhattan Project style government/industry effort to get the U.S. off oil? What has he even SAID that leans even a little in that direction?

    And you know as well as I that the U.S. military is not leaving Iraq, just replacing GI’s with contractors.

    You like to blame Bush, but his buddy in the Oligarchy Barrack is efficiently continuing most of his policies that matter…also as you well know but deny.

  39. 39
    El Cid says:

    @Redshift: There’s not good evidence or clear argument that had the US somehow figured out a way of ‘staying involved’ after the end of the mujahedeen war against the Soviet/prior Afghan gov’t it would have made things better. It seems to be a widely held assumption.

    The people we funded and hired were not the sorts interested in long-term governance, the suppression of Islamic fundamentalism, the avoidance of personal interest in narcotics production and trafficking, or dividing the spoils of victory more evenly.

    Maybe, but for people to say so frequently ‘the problem was that the US didn’t stay to support them’ it’s surprisingly low on justification.

    The US could perhaps have done more of a job of reversing the Pakistani construction of fundamentalist training and funding with US and Saudi money along the border.

    It was Pakistan and the ISI which brought the Taliban. Maybe nothing could have been done.

    Particularly given the US’ strong support of South African apartheid (yes, really), Southern African state destruction, and the slaughter of civilians throughout Central America, it’s not exactly clear why people are so comfortable assuming that a closer US role would have been good for stability or the Afghan population.

    If you had told most people that the Reagan & Bush Sr. administrations would have been able to step in to stabilize and nation-build in Afghanistan from 1986 to 1990 or so, they’d probably expect a serious, serious argument in favor given the widely available evidence of those administrations’ enthusiastic skills for state destruction.

  40. 40
    El Cid says:

    @Tim, Interrupted: Such involvements aren’t about securing oil for the US; if the US were to become mostly or completely independent of non-Northern Hemisphere oil, it’s not like suddenly it would lose interest in controlling the supply, transport, and profiting from the world’s most profitable and most strategically necessary resource.

    I can’t imagine any political or foreign policy establishment here seeing that as an even possible option.

  41. 41
    El Cid says:

    I just read that Economist article. There isn’t much there. Few sources are used, mostly high up and US military leadership sources (i.e., Petraeus), and the evidence that stability is increasing and more likely is not clearly outlined.

    There are certainly things happening which if assumed to be as asserted in the article could be very helpful — i.e., frustration of the local Taliban with their self-interested (duh) funders and commanders in Pakistan, Mullah Omar rethinking given the death of bin Laden (choose your reason for the turn), and supposedly a fear of government police forces.

    There’s even another argument that the increase in violence is more proof that the Taliban and other anti-government (meaning, US/NATO-backed Karzai government) forces are about to weaken, because the attacks involving more than one person are less frequent.

    It certainly isn’t enough to think that a strong case has been made.

  42. 42
    EconWatcher says:

    @Tim, Interrupted:

    You are a jerk.

    tequila: Thank you for your service. I’m glad you came home from Iraq safely; take care of yourself during your deployment in Afghanistan.

    And sorry you have to listen to jerks like Tim, Interrupted.

  43. 43
    fasteddie9318 says:

    @gene108:

    Since I’m also in the two-minds camp, I think the simple answer is that if the current government falls to a Taliban insurgency, the lot of women in Afghanistan will get worse.

    Not having the Taliban in power gives women an opportunity, they otherwise would not have.

    It gives them lots of opportunities. One such opportunity is the opportunity to have American ordinance “accidentally”* dropped on their heads or their family members’ heads.

    I have a hard time with this too, and the protection of women in that society is a legitimate argument for staying, but the question is whether it’s enough of one make staying a net positive. The government we installed is no great friend to Afghan women, or to democracy, or to freedom, or to corruption-free public service. And the thing is, the threat of the Taliban retaking the country is ALWAYS GOING TO BE THERE. The question is how long are we going to stay and keep bombing more Taliban or Taliban-sympathizers into existence before we literally can’t afford to do it anymore.

    * Quotation marks because, really, it’s not an accident to the folks at Raytheon who get to make another one for ~$10,000; they’re happy whenever one gets used regardless of the outcome

  44. 44
    Paul in KY says:

    @fasteddie9318: Raytheon is the same as cigarette manufacturers. They can make a safer cigarette, one that stops burning when not inhaled, but they want that coffin nail burning, whether anyone is inhaling on it or not.

  45. 45
    Tim, Interrupted says:

    @EconWatcher:

    You are a jerk.

    And you are a knee jerk, Uncle Sam and War dumbass. Please explain to me how a ten year war can be destructive, purposeless, endlessly expensive, kill thousands and thousands of people, and be based on bullshit, and yet those who “serve” in said war in full knowledge of its bogusness are somehow noble.

    Thanks.

  46. 46
    eemom says:

    @EconWatcher:

    Seconded.

    @Tim, Interrupted:

    No, really. You ARE a jerk, and an insufferably smug one at that.

    It’s easy to see how you get into fights with strangers in grocery stores.

  47. 47
    Keith G says:

    @Tim, Interrupted: Our society depends on the military not making political judgements. If they get to decide on the nobility of the mission they next will get to decide on the nobility of the decision makers and then fun times will follow.

  48. 48
    Tonal Crow says:

    @Redshift: I don’t see that our military presence in Afghanistan is doing much to prevent a new terror attack, but it’s clearly inflaming anti-American sentiment and thereby creating some new terrorists. On Afghanistan as a “failed state” launching-pad for terror attacks, don’t forget that much of 9/11 was conceived, planned, and dry-run in such failed states as Germany and the good old U.S.A.

    The only good reason for the war that I see is to prevent the Taliban from once again becoming Afghanistan’s de facto government and resuming their “family values” campaigns. But we can’t support every possible humanitarian mission. Should we support this one? I don’t know. We have a lot on our plate, like, er heading off catastrophic climate change. Whaddaya think widespread drought will do for terrorism?

  49. 49
    Tim, Interrupted says:

    @eemom:

    No, really. You ARE a jerk, and an insufferably smug one at that. It’s easy to see how you get into fights with strangers in grocery stores.

    Hi Eemommy. So honored that you’re still stalking me.

    Please answer my question I addressed to your other warmonger friend, or have the decency to shut your foul hole:

    “Please explain to me how a ten year war can be destructive, purposeless, endlessly expensive, kill thousands and thousands of people, and be based on bullshit, and yet those who “serve” in said war in full knowledge of its bogusness are somehow noble.”

    Thanks. I look forward to your incoherent, frothing response.

    By the way, there was no “fight” at the nursery (not the grocery store, idiot), there was just another lumbering, spewing individual much like yourself, spraying foul language and spittle, google-eyed with unfocused rage that was present long before I came along.

    Now answer my question, trolletta, or slither onward.

  50. 50
    Tim, Interrupted says:

    @Keith G:

    If they get to decide on the nobility of the mission they next will get to decide on the nobility of the decision makers and then fun times will follow.

    So is there no place at which an individual military service person should draw a line and leave? Or request another assignment? Or request early retirement? Or not re-up? And quit saying “well, hell, I don’t care what they’re doing and I don’t care and I don’t make the decisions; I just need a job and like not being responsible for the outcomes of my actions and don’t really like being home with friends and family, so what the hell…I’m going back?”

  51. 51
    Shoemaker-Levy 9 says:

    @gex:

    How does further military action and bombings and drones help women in Afghanistan?

    Freedom bombing is the perfectly self-contained system for the perpetuation of the MIC.

    The more you freedom bomb the more you radicalize the population. The reason you are freedom bombing in the first place is to remove radicals from the population. Brilliant!

    The more you freedom bomb the more that vulnerable groups will seek protection. An example would be, say, women in a patriarchal society, who would be driven to seek protection for themselves and their children from the bombing by, say, the patriarchy. The reason you are freedom bombing in the first place is because women are under the thumb of a patriarchy. Brilliant!

    Needless to say, one could engage these problems in far less destructive ways, but do you see the brilliance of the freedom bombing plan? You simply perpetuate the problems that you are ostensibly trying to solve, and as an added bonus your government has to steal more of your money to buy more freedom bombs! GOP or Dem, Bush or Obama, it doesn’t matter, the system perpetuates itself and transfers your money to defense contractors regardless!

    Look how well freedom bombing worked in southeast Asia. Three third world nations were bombed to smithereens, millions killed, societies wrecked, and when highly radicalized forces emerged out of the smoldering rubble we Americans tut-tutted those awful radicals! “See, we should have freedom bombed a little bit more! Do we get to win this time?” Brilliant!

    But wait, there’s more! Did you happen to notice that Caligulan orgy of military worship our country had yesterday? The freedom bombing cycle will continue into the foreseeable future! And all we need is all of your a little bit more of your Medicare and Social Security to pay for it! Act now, operators are waiting!

  52. 52
    Keith G says:

    @Tim, Interrupted:
    I am sure that those things the you mentioned do occur. I am also sure that I am not qulaified to type on about the complex emotions that involve military service in times such as these.

    While they are in uniform and deployed though, I would hope the the concern is on being successful and safe and not on moral arguments or political judgements.

  53. 53
    Tim, Interrupted says:

    @Shoemaker-Levy 9:

    The more you freedom bomb the more you radicalize the population. The reason you are freedom bombing in the first place is to remove radicals from the population. Brilliant!

    Oh Shoemaker, you are a “jerk!” How dare you question the military, which is made up of you know, individual people?!

    But always keep in mind that none of those individual people doing the freedom bombing and killing are in any way responsible for the direct results of their actions! No, you must instead, always be careful to thank them for their noble and patriotic “service.”

  54. 54
    Keith G says:

    @Tim, Interrupted:

    But always keep in mind that none of those individual people doing the freedom bombing and killing are in any way responsible for the direct results of their actions!

    How responsible are they? What do you propose be done to hold them responsible?

  55. 55
    Tim, Interrupted says:

    @Keith G:

    How responsible are they? What do you propose be done to hold them responsible?

    They already ARE responsible (what do you want? a metaphysical percentage?), in a moral and practical sense. I’m talking about these military folks holding THEMSELVES responsible and responding by taking themselves out of the equation as part of the war machine.

    But you already knew that.

  56. 56
    Keith G says:

    @Tim, Interrupted: I am not trying to be snarky or even argumentative. For in a perfect world, I could agree with your general point about indiviual soldiers being the final arbitrars of the morality of their actions. That is not our world.

    If you are implying that PTSD is a way that soldiers are being held responsible, I do not recall data that shows that moral dissonance is a necessary or sufficient cause (in and of itself) of post tramatic shock.

  57. 57
    Barry says:

    @Redshift: “Also, it bugs me that so many people on the liberal side who were terribly concerned about the status of women in Afghanistan were apparently about as sincere about it as Bush was.”

    Liberals were complaining about it when Cheney and the other oil barons were negotiating with the Taliban.

  58. 58
    Tim, Interrupted says:

    @Keith G:

    If you are implying that PTSD is a way that soldiers are being held responsible, I do not recall data that shows that moral dissonance is a necessary or sufficient cause (in and of itself) of post tramatic shock

    I didn’t explicitly mean to imply that, but it’s a useful thought. Makes perfect sense that DOING and SEEING things done that one finds morally repugnant would be a great way to fuck up one’s mind and soul. And then on top of it, to find oneself being praised and held up as a hero, when one is full of horrific images and memories.

    And isn’t this all part of why the U.S. military loves to do its killing from unarmed drones operated by some technician thousands of miles away? The further one can be removed from the carnage one causes, the more chance one has at denial as a mental/emotional survival strategy.

    BTW, my dad was a 19 year old radio operator on a B-17 that was shot down over Germany. He was in a Nazi POW camp for 18 months and survived, barely. My aunts often told us kids how he was completely different upon return and never again the same. A formerly gregarious man was quiet, uncommunicative, the spark in his eye was gone and never came back. Of course, being of Tom Brokaw’s fictional Greatest Generation, my dad almost never spoke of any of this.

    I’d guess the ONLY soldiers who survive active duty without PTSD are somewhat psycho to begin with.

  59. 59
    James E. Powell says:

    @El Cid:

    There’s even another argument that the increase in violence is more proof that the Taliban and other anti-government (meaning, US/NATO-backed Karzai government) forces are about to weaken, because the attacks involving more than one person are less frequent.

    Last throes maybe?

  60. 60
    Keith G says:

    @Tim, Interrupted:

    I’d guess the ONLY soldiers who survive active duty without PTSD are somewhat psycho to begin with.

    Ah…clearly not, but your dad and so many others give lie to the “war is glorious” mythology.

  61. 61
    General Stuck says:

    @Tim, Interrupted:

    I don’t know who is the biggest freak on this blog, you or Uncle Clarence. But neither of you is worth the effort to respond to.

  62. 62
    Hey man... says:

    I agree that it’s past time to get the troops out of Afghanistan, but why the slap at old deadheads? They’re utterly harmless, while endless war kills and injures Americans and Afghanis, and financially and morally bankrupts our nation.

    It’s a really bad analogy. Stop punching the hippies, John, you aren’t a Republican any more. If peace and love were taken seriously, we would all be in a lot better shape.

  63. 63
    Ruckus says:

    @stuckinred:
    I’ve been home for 40 years and I have seen good friends that were just fine melt down. Take care of yourself.

    This times a million.

    All that crap in one’s head doesn’t go away. It’s all in there. For some it stays buried. For some it never gets buried. And for the rest every once in a while it gets uncovered. Sometimes a little bit at a time and it can be worked on if help is available or it just gets reburied. Other times once the first crack shows up it just gets wider and wider till all that’s exposed is raw and it overpowers everything else.
    But it is always there. Always. Waiting.

  64. 64
    Church Lady says:

    We’ll leave there sometime after we leave Iraq, i.e., never.

    Hell, we’re still in Libya, participating in the operation that was supposed to be a matter of, what, weeks? How much money is that extravaganza costing us?

  65. 65
    Ruckus says:

    @Keith G:
    If you are implying that PTSD is a way that soldiers are being held responsible, I do not recall data that shows that moral dissonance is a necessary or sufficient cause (in and of itself) of post tramatic shock.

    And even if it is, since when does the military test for moral dissonance? Or would allow people in that might exhibit it with enough varsity that it is an overriding trait.

  66. 66
    tequila says:

    Tim – I would respond, but since you already seem to regard me and my buddies as psychopaths, I don’t think that you or I would get much out of it. I’ll just note that I actually do have a civilian job – us reservists need them just as much as regular civilians.

    I’ll put this out there – yes, we kill too many Afghan civilians. We killed too many in Iraq as well. But the latest UN report noted that we killed far fewer than the Taliban does as a matter of course, and we killed many, many fewer Iraqis than Iraqi insurgents and militias did. We bear an enormous share of the blame for the civil war, but when we went out on patrol, most of the Iraqis in my AO were much happier to see my Marines alone rather than when we went on joint patrols with the Iraqi police – they knew we weren’t going to kidnap their men out of their houses and drill them full of holes in the night, and they couldn’t be so sure of that with the IPs. That doesn’t mean they wanted us to stay forever – they much preferred to have a DECENT Iraqi police force present than us. But until we could ensure that, we were better than being left to the nonexistent mercy of the militias and criminal gangs.

    That’s the way I feel about our war in Afghanistan now. We’re not perfect by a long shot, but I don’t feel that leaving a Somalia in place is exactly the best option for us or the Afghan people.

  67. 67
    EconWatcher says:

    @tequila:

    Well said, sir.

  68. 68
    gene108 says:

    @fasteddie9318:

    The government we installed is no great friend to Afghan women, or to democracy, or to freedom, or to corruption-free public service.

    I disagree. The current government is not an active enemy of women. They may not be Sweden, in terms of gender equality, but they aren’t looking to actively keep women from getting educations.

    The Afghan government may not have the resources to be more proactive, but they are not being actively destructive to women rights.

    As far as democracy and corruption goes, I think those things are a bit relative. Russia has its own issues with what we’d call a free and open democracy right now. Compared to the Soviet Union, the government is probably more representative and responsive.

    I think most governments have higher levels of corruption than the U.S. There’s some corruption at higher levels of government, but very little at local levels (i.e. you don’t need to bribe someone at the DMV to get a driver’s license). The government employees aren’t always the drivers of corruption, though they are active participants. You want to a driver’s license, but don’t want to wait three weeks to take a road test, after getting a learner’s permit? Slip the clerk $50 and have him give you license on the spot. You get your license and can carry on whatever benefit it confers to you, without losing the three weeks, which more than off-sets the $50 bribe.

    By our modern day standards the USA of circa 1789 was not a free and open democratic society.

    And the thing is, the threat of the Taliban retaking the country is ALWAYS GOING TO BE THERE.

    I disagree. The Karzai government reconciling with Taliban is the only real path to peace.

    ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — American officials have met with a senior aide to the fugitive Taliban leader, Mullah Muhammad Omar, at least three times in recent months in the first direct exploratory peace talks, officials in the region said.
    Enlarge This Image
    Banaras Khan/Agence France-Presse

    Tayeb Agha, left, an aide to the Taliban leader, has met with Americans in exploratory peace talks.
    At War

    Notes from Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and other areas of conflict in the post-9/11 era. Go to the Blog »
    Enlarge This Image
    Farooq Naeem/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

    Pakistan sent its most senior bureaucrat in the Pakistani Foreign Ministry, Salman Bashir, to the latest round of trilateral talks in Kabul on Tuesday. The meetings have been facilitated by Germany and Qatar, but American officials have been present each time, meeting with Tayeb Agha, who is a close personal assistant to Mullah Omar, the officials said. The C.I.A. and the State Department have been involved in the meetings, one official said

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05.....liban.html

  69. 69
    Cerberus says:

    @Redshift:

    I would have to disagree to the assertion of liberals not caring about Afghanistan women’s rights because they don’t support endless war.

    In fact, global feminists are demonstrating just how much they care about women’s rights by not supporting endless war.

    Here’s the why. Connecting “women’s rights” to occupation by a foreign aggressor basically makes women’s rights suspicious. Outside of permanent war and colonialism, there would be no way to prevent women being made into the scapegoats and targets for “being too close to the occupying powers” and even then colonies almost always eventually rebel and I just can’t see Afghanistan going the Canada route if we try it.

    Secondly, war is proven terrible for women’s rights. When war is occurring women’s rights go through the crapper because a stable society is necessary to support women’s rights, women make good targets and victims for demonstrating a type of toxic masculinity (not to be confused with regular masculinity), and of course, the fact that the destruction of villages and families often hits hardest for those groups who have the least to lose (a woman refuge has more danger, fewer options).

    This second point is why Iraq’s women’s rights and Afghanistan’s women’s rights went through the shitter once we invaded. Women in both those countries lost a lot of rights that they were gaining through peaceful protests, hard work by the feminists of the countries in question, and the attention called by global feminists for decades.

    And that brings up thirdly, what is working for feminists have nothing to do with our occupation. There’s a lot of good work trying to build education edifices for women, women’s refuge camps, and to fight back against rapes by Taliban and Coalition forces. They have absolutely no connection to our Occupation Forces, but is the work of brave local women who not only have to worry about backlash from their fellow countrymen taking advantage of the chaos but also the misplaced firings of our idiotic campaign to “help them”.

    It is the sad fact that you can’t protect through aggressive war.

    Sure, you can fling open your borders to those seeking refuge and asylum, you can call attention to atrocities, maybe even enact economic or social punishment, isolating rogue actors from the global community.

    But guns on the doorsteps have proven negative effects when it comes to women’s rights and women’s rights groups recognizing that doesn’t mean they don’t care.

    Rather, the inverse, that they care enough to want tactics with proven results rather than the misplaced bravado of “doing something” even if that action is horribly counter-productive.

    But yeah, the best thing for Afghanistan women would be to remove all forces tomorrow and extend a blanket asylum offer to all refuges, but well, we all know about 5,000 reasons why we would never do that.

    It’s like we learned all the wrong reasons from sending boats full of desperate Jews back to Germany.

  70. 70
    Tim, Interrupted says:

    @General Stuck:

    I don’t know who is the biggest freak on this blog, you or Uncle Clarence. But neither of you is worth the effort to respond to.

    Coming from you, that is high praise, Schtuck! Especially considering that Rosie the JRT is among my competition.

    I very much look forward to your not responding to me in the future.

    Thank you!

  71. 71
    General Stuck says:

    @Tim, Interrupted:

    I very much look forward to your not responding to me in the future.

    Only if your morale improves.

  72. 72
    Brachiator says:

    There’s this odd institutional paralysis where we have convinced ourselves that leaving will be worse than the disastrous status quo, but no one can really explain why, yet anyone who suggests we unass the area of operations and go home is castigated as wanting to “lose” or hating America.

    I don’t know what the views of Obama’s new team at the Joint Chiefs are. I don’t if any of them would be willing to say to Obama that the Afghan mission is pointless. And no matter what rhetoric is tossed around here, what these policy advisors have to say will determine what happens in the future in the region.

    And I don’t know if Obama would be willing to simply say that his initial reasons for staying in Afghanistan turned out to be incorrect and it is time to go. Certainly, so far, few Republicans seem to be willing to entertain the notion that we should leave Afghanistan.

    And yet, it is morally repugnant to talk blithely about leaving Afghanistan to a possibly resurgent Taliban. There may not be any easy or good solution here, and leaving could be as bad as staying longer.

  73. 73
    Ghanima Atreides says:

    @tequila: the soldier i was talking to said
    every single soldier returning from A-stan theater has to have PSTD counselling.
    his words.
    I thought the Tarik-e-Taliban had seats through the grouped Islamist party like Jamaat-e-Islmali, but i havent researched lately. I could be wrong, but the issue is that the Taliban are a legit poltical party in Pakistan.
    Its crazipants that they are actively fighting American troops like the soldier I was talking to..

  74. 74
    Ghanima Atreides says:

    @Brachiator: the Taliban will be part of whatever government we leave.
    They were never desurgent.
    There are more every year, and the US is spending 100 million per day to make more Taliban and commit atrocities.

  75. 75

    John Cole admitted:

    “I honestly have no idea what we are doing in Afghanistan…”

    The goal is to keep Obama looking strong and to prop up American illusions so that Obama will be re-elected and remembered as a great American leader.

    Yes we can.

  76. 76
    Cerberus says:

    @Brachiator:

    Sadly though that is not our choice to make.

    We will get a resurgent Taliban.

    Period.

    The day we leave or as a popular uprising if we continue to stay and play the role of colonizing oppressor.

    Fuck, we’ve had a “resurgent Taliban” since about a week since we’ve first invaded. Our “glorious Coalition” controls the capital and not much else. Any do-gooder organization to make things suck less is going to be tainted by their association to us, what little civil rights there were have gotten worse by virtue of our occupation and tribal warfare is the name of the game in most regions.

    So, if that’s our reason or we’re “just so damned obsessed about women’s rights” then, fuck us with a chainsaw it’s time to rip off that bandaid before it really starts to backlash against us (we missed the last round of colonization bingo, but it really didn’t work out well for the colonizing powers in the long run).

    I understand no one wants to be standing when the inevitable happens and Taliban sweeps into power like it never left, but well, it never left and just like Vietnam, this war is just delaying the inevitable and making more and more citizens look forward to that day coming.

    Also, PS, I would remind everyone that the initial bullshit reason we attacked Afghanistan was that we were targeting Al-Queda, not the Taliban. The Taliban, at the time, before we gave them all the credence, good will, and power they could ever have hoped for, were a bunch of petty theocratic fuckwits who weren’t all that much of a threat to anyone not unlucky enough to share a country with them.

    So, yeah, if we’re interested in infinite war, we can say, nope, our mission is Taliban. And then it will be the warlords, and probably any other faction that will form and eventually, if we’re not already, we’ll be the hated oppressor and we will simply be removed, humiliated in a fashion that ends empires, rather than the simple sting of having to leave a bad idea with a “loss”.

  77. 77
    Brachiator says:

    @Cerberus:

    I understand no one wants to be standing when the inevitable happens and Taliban sweeps into power like it never left, but well, it never left and just like Vietnam, this war is just delaying the inevitable and making more and more citizens look forward to that day coming.

    Uh, no. The Taliban are a religious Khmer Rouge.

    The world watched this vile, backwards group take over and enforce an authoritarian nightmare. There is no reason to suppose that the sequel will be any better than the first go round.

    If we pull out, I can only hope that some other nation will do what ultimately was done to the Khmer Rouge. And I note that back then, gutless liberals moaned and groaned and whined and wrung their hands and largely did nothing while Cambodia consumed itself. Conservatives were worse. They simply looked the other way and pretended it had nothing to do with them.

    @Ghanima Atreides:

    the Taliban will be part of whatever government we leave.

    It’s too bad that you are blind to the excesses of the Taliban.

  78. 78
    Tonal Crow says:

    @Brachiator:

    And yet, it is morally repugnant to talk blithely about leaving Afghanistan to a possibly resurgent Taliban. There may not be any easy or good solution here, and leaving could be as bad as staying longer.

    Or staying longer could be worse than leaving. While the Taliban are brutal thugs, and probably will resume their “family values” campaigns when we leave, we have more urgent uses for the hundreds of billions of dollars we’re pumping into the Afghan war. Like heading off catastrophic climate change. The time to prevent 3+ degrees C rise — and the attendant widespread drought and mass starvation — is now. If we let that stuff happen, the Taliban will look like a pleasant stroll in the park. Ever read this paper?

  79. 79
    Cerberus says:

    @Brachiator:

    What part of civil rights have gotten worse under our watch than under the oppressive, tyranical reign of the Taliban is escaping you?

    Yeah, they are bastard covered bastards with bastard filling, but our presence is actively making that already bastard-filled life worse for the innocent citizens of Afghanistan.

    Worse than the fucking Taliban.

    And we’re a known foreign enemy and occupier whose been acting like a drunk serial killer for the last 10 years.

    Fuck, the Taliban could literally be reanimated Nazis and they’d still get popular support.

    The only thing our presence is doing is delaying any meaningful popular anti-Taliban support and giving a bunch of murdering psychopaths good fucking press they don’t deserve.

    I won’t even say “there are some problems you don’t solve with bombs”, because it isn’t even that. It’s “there are some problems you don’t solve with colonization”.

  80. 80
    Peggy says:

    Tim interrupted- during the Vietnam War several of my friends went to jail because they objected to the war machine, both as soldiers and as non-soldiers. On a more trivial level, I was expelled from college.
    You are demanding that soldiers disobey the oath they have taken, possibly put themselves and their friends in mortal danger, and be subjected to the vagaries of military “justice”, all from the comfort of your chair. Gutless is much too kind a descriptor of your opinions.

  81. 81
    Ghanima Atreides says:

    @Brachiator:

    It’s too bad that you are blind to the excesses of the Taliban

    dude.
    it doesnt matter what americans think. What do you not understand about that?
    Like the virginity tests the Egyptian mil gave to protestors that is poutraged all over the news right now.
    We abdicated moral authority in Egypt when we propped a dictator there for 30 years.
    We abdicated moral authority in Afghanistan when the first drones slaughtered innocent civilians.

  82. 82
    Ghanima Atreides says:

    @Cerberus: what the US tried to do, spreading missionary democracy, is IMPOSSIBLE in majority muslim states.
    Islam is EGT (evolutionary theory of games) immune to proselytization.

  83. 83
    Ghanima Atreides says:

    @Martin Gifford: no. Obama is trying to extract our troops from the unwinnable immoral unjustifiable meatgrinder that fucking WEC retard Bush put them in.
    The mini-surge is the same as the “surge”, cover to strat the drawdown.
    Obama takes his CinC duties pretty seriously.
    Though no fault of their own, our troops have landed in Bush’s meatgrinder.

  84. 84
    General Stuck says:

    @Peggy:

    Gutless is much too kind a descriptor of your opinions.

    I don’t know, “gutless” pretty much gets the job done for me, describing our Tim the troll.

    I couldn’t improve on it.

  85. 85
    El Cid says:

    @Brachiator: There was zero the US or the world could do about the Khmer Rouge.

    The US pretty much cleared the way for the Khmer Rouge by bombing and then carpet bombing Cambodia’s agricultural regions, and as the CIA at the time warned, created the ideal time for the Khmer Rouge to move from being a powerful but nowhere near close-to-dominance force to being the leading force among the starving, bombed-to-shit peasantry.

    What removed the Khmer Rouge was a Vietnamese invasion, to which the US was angrily opposed.

    I don’t want to hear any fucking bullshit about ‘liberals’ and the Khmer Rouge, as though fucking ‘liberals’ carpet bombed them into power, then had zero potential to do a god-damned thing to either stop the starvation launched by carpet-bombing the farming regions, or who didn’t oppose the Vietnamese invasion, and who didn’t begin defending the Khmer Rouge as the US did when the KR was out of power.

    This bullshit myth that ‘liberals’ or ‘the left’ had the slightest, fucking tiniest thing to do with the Khmer Rouge needs to be buried alongside all the honorable myths of those US leaders who claimed they were blowing Indochina to shit in order to save them from Communism.

    Yeah. “Liberals” as a problem with the Khmer Rouge. Right. We obviously failed to carpet bomb Cambodia enough. If only we could have turned the inter-crater spaces into craters, those nasty types wouldn’t have taken over, and Noam Chomsky wouldn’t be to blame for the Khmer Rouge taking power among a bunch of starving peasants.

  86. 86
    Tim, Interrupted says:

    @Peggy:

    You are demanding that soldiers disobey the oath they have taken, possibly put themselves and their friends in mortal danger, and be subjected to the vagaries of military “justice”, all from the comfort of your chair. Gutless is much too kind a descriptor of your opinions.

    The part where I “demanded” anything at all is only in your tiny little mind. All of the actions you list are possible, OR they could simply NOT sign up, or not RE sign-up, and get the hell out as soon as legally possible. That would be OK too, you fool.

    My chair IS quite comfortable this evening. Mostly because I have not accepted employment with an organization that requires me to help kill other people and then act as if the results have nothing to do with me. Yes, as a matter of fact, the reality that I did not do those things does help me sleep more easily than otherwise.

    Does your definition of “guts” require one to make commitments to participate in endless wars of mass destruction, and then whine about being in the situation I put myself in?

    You would have been a most excellent member of many past, well known, and extinct Fascist governments. A real lockstepper, you are.

  87. 87

    @Carl Nyberg: Thank you for saving me the trouble….and in the first comment no less. Kudos.

    Enjoy.

  88. 88

    @cleek:

    The Afghan’s are probably confused about the Freedom sauce. Maybe if we did some of those retro ‘you’re soaking in it’ ads, we could get a clear message out to our confused Afghan customers.

    “Mild? Less than mild, makes loads of freedom that lasts”

    http://youtu.be/dzmTtusvjR4

    Enjoy.

  89. 89
    bob h says:

    One assumes there is some fear of a civil war that will break out there when the Taliban try to seize power.

    Also, in Pakistan we have their nuclear weapons and jihadis in close proximity, and evident infiltration of the armed forces by Al Qaeda. Presumably our being in Afghanistan is partly due to this.

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