War Pigheadedness

“Any forces that would impose their will on other nations will certainly face defeat.”

I just read President Carrot top’s speech from last night, and the usual suspects are, predictably, participating in the usual “presidential pivot” mutual masturbation society after party:

Ugh. To the speech. What the fuck does this mean:

But to prosecute this war, we will learn from history. As a result of our comprehensive review, American strategy in Afghanistan and South Asia will change dramatically in the following ways.

A core pillar of our new strategy is a shift from a time-based approach to one based on conditions. I’ve said it many times how counterproductive it is for the United States to announce in advance the dates we intend to begin or end military options.

We will not talk about numbers of troops or our plans for further military activities. Conditions on the ground, not arbitrary timetables, will guide our strategy from now on. America’s enemies must never know our plans or believe they can wait us out.

I will not say when we are going to attack, but attack we will.

Another fundamental pillar of our new strategy is the integration of all instruments of American power — diplomatic, economic, and military — toward a successful outcome. Someday, after an effective military effort, perhaps it will be possible to have a political settlement that includes elements of the Taliban in Afghanistan. But nobody knows if or when that will ever happen.

Did I miss Bush and Obama announcing our attacks from a podium or something? And learning from history? How in the fuck is sending in a paltry force of 4k troops and expecting anything different learning from history. A refresher- Bush’s “surge” in Iraq was about 20k troops, but it may have amounted to more in theater briefly because they also extended the tour for folks already there. Trump is sending 4k more.

And just what does 4k troops mean?

Basically, nothing. Whenever you hear of troop numbers, you need to understand that sending 4,000 more soldiers somewhere does not mean you are sending 4,000 more trigger pullers. The vast majority of these 4,000 soldiers will be logo toads dealing with supply and logistics and maintenance and signals and what not. This probably amounts to about 800 actual combat troops being sent there. That’s basically a batallion. They’ll be able to do what- build another firebase? And you can’t have all of them on patrol at once, because soldiers need sleep and rest, they need to pull security, etc.

Again, I have not been in the military for almost twenty years, so I am not an expert and my numbers may be wrong, but from where I sit, this isn’t a fucking plan. It’s a blood sacrifice.

If the most abrasive, arrogant, and imperious President we have ever known thinks all he can get is political support for 4k more troops, it’s game over, man. I heard McMaster pushed for 50k more troops and was rejected, and that wouldn’t have been enough.

This is bullshit. After sixteen years, the American people have moved on. We have lost the will to fight in Afghanistan, as we should have. It’s just a waste of blood and money. All we are doing now is feeding the war pig. Stop sending Americans off to slaughter for no reason. Bring home the troops now.

136 replies
  1. 1
    Don says:

    Hear, hear. Preach, it Cole.

  2. 2
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    Did I miss Bush and Obama announcing our attacks from a podium or something?

    since his reality is shaped by B movies, MGM westerns and Columbia “war pictures”, if not Warner Brothers cartoons, he thinks we can do a sneak attack on “the enemy”, who are fifteen ragtag primitives sitting around a campfire in the mountains or the desert, who won’t know we’re coming until they hear the cavalry bugles. Then we “take the oil”, or in this case the rare earth minerals. That’s how we win.

  3. 3
    westyny says:

    Righteous rant. I wish we didn’t have so many occasions for righteous rants.

  4. 4
    Geeno says:

    I liked the tweet that said Trump should pay Obama royalties for 2009 Afghanistan Surge speech. It really is just another commitment to permanent war.

  5. 5
    Mnemosyne says:

    I still remember the good ol’ days of 2016 when people on the left said they were okay with Trump winning thanks to their vote for Stein or withheld vote because he wouldn’t be sending our troops off to die like that warmongering warmongerer Hillary would.

    Nice job, morons. Funny how all of those people vanished back into the muck as soon as Trump was elected.

  6. 6
    JPL says:

    Earlier I saw a headline that alluded to the fact that McMaster showed Trump a picture of Afghan females in mini-skirts. The picture was taken in 1972, and it was proof that if they wore mini-skirts once, they can again. Who knew that mini-skirts meant winning.
    I’ll try to search for the article. It’s not the same source, but will do.
    http://nypost.com/2017/08/22/t.....ghanistan/

  7. 7
    Eric U. says:

    Barry Bams had over 100k troops in afghanistan for a while there. Now we have less than 10k. Adding 4k will do nothing. Atrios posted a chart of Afghanistan troop levels on twitter today.

  8. 8
    coin operated says:

    My reaction to any Republican military proposal: define “win”, asshole. I’m yet to see a set of metrics defining what winning in Afghanistan would look like.

  9. 9

    The Ratio is my new favorite Internet Law. I think you lose 30 IQ points for every number the antecedent (i.e., replies) is above 2.

    Meanwhile, the Chinchilla makes some sense, although being a South American rodent it doesn’t tackle the policy ramifications.

  10. 10
    A Ghost To Most says:

    “Never enter into a land war in Asia”

    Someone should make the Great Orange Shitstain watch “The Princess Bride”

  11. 11
    opiejeanne says:

    @JPL: I saw the photo, the girls were wearing short-ish skirts but not mini-skirts. I remember seeing it when it was part of an article about how modern and Westernized Afghanistan was; I think the young women were college students.
    I don’t understand the astonishment from some quarters that the photo of young women would sway his opinion. I mean, this is Trump we’re talking about.

    eta: I see you linked to the photo. I missed that somehow.

  12. 12
    Jerzy Russian says:

    That Philip Rucker person seems to be a dick. I wonder if his childhood nickname was “Mother”.

  13. 13
    boatboy_srq says:

    @JPL: Not enough Good Morning Vietnam, too much Ruthless People.

  14. 14
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    A refresher- Bush’s “surge” in Iraq was about 20k troops, but it may have amounted to more in theater briefly because they also extended the tour for folks already there. Trump is sending 4k more.

    I may have this wrong, but as I remember it a key part, maybe the key part, of the “surge” was a massive pay off to Sunni tribal and militia leaders in western Iraq to side with US and the gov’t in Baghdad. From what I’ve read, there’s little comparable in Afghanistan either in Kabul or as a stable power structure in the provinces that we can negotiate with. To John McCain, Lindsey Graham and their media allies, the Surge was a display of steely-eyed, barrel-chested military might; to Petraeus, it was just as much a pragmatic exercise of diplomacy, flexibility and “soft power”. Again, I don’t pretend to be an expert, but that’s my recollection.

  15. 15
    MaryL says:

    Tonight is a new President Trump: Acknowledging a flip-flop and talking about gravity of office, history & substance.

    Jeezus – are people STILL falling for this shit?

  16. 16
    boatboy_srq says:

    @Mnemosyne: Don’t be too hard on Lord Dampnut. He’s just assigning staff to a cleanup operation. It’s like the maid service in his hotels donchano. Not like any of those troops are real, you know, people.

    /s

  17. 17
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    Rucker is an utter waste of skin. Yet another reason why I’m constantly saying “Wipe them out. All of them.”

  18. 18
    Brachiator says:

    Another fundamental pillar of our new strategy is the integration of all instruments of American power — diplomatic, economic, and military — toward a successful outcome.

    *Sigh*. The foreign policy establishment seems to be a shambles. I’ve read that we don’t have ambassadors for either Afghanistan or South Korea, or heads of various State Department Asian desks. Other Trump cabinet officials don’t appear to have much to contribute to whatever it is that Trump thinks he is doing.

    Someday, after an effective military effort, perhaps it will be possible to have a political settlement that includes elements of the Taliban in Afghanistan. But nobody knows if or when that will ever happen.

    Wow. Lack of any clear policy or objective. This is even worse than the stupid objectives of the Bush/Cheney regime.

    The vast majority of these 4,000 soldiers will be logo toads dealing with supply and logistics and maintenance and signals and what not. This probably amounts to about 800 actual combat troops being sent there.

    Wouldn’t a good chunk of this be special forces and/or advisors?

    I suppose that Trump wants to give the impression that he is listening to the generals and taking the gloves off, which is a fantasy that particularly appeals to conservatives.

    But this sounds like nothing but a whole lot of stupid.

    And all the pundits who float the BS that Trump is finally finding focus because he is playing soldier should be ashamed of themselves.

  19. 19
    Yutsano says:

    The vast majority of these 4,000 soldiers will be logo toads dealing with supply and logistics and maintenance and signals and what not.

    Apparently you missed the scam part of this. In order to keep troop levels under an arbitrary cap, the logistics roles are being filled by private contractors. Up to and including Erik Price and crew. So yeah there’s also a shit ton of grift going into all this.

  20. 20
    JPL says:

    @opiejeanne: I hate so much winning.

  21. 21
    Thru the Looking Glass... says:

    We will not talk about numbers of troops or our plans for further military activities. Conditions on the ground, not arbitrary timetables, will guide our strategy from now on. America’s enemies must never know our plans or believe they can wait us out.

    Oh good lord… what b-movie did he crib this dialogue from?

    What do you call this… the Zorro Strategy?

    ‘Where will he strike next? Who knows? And who can stop him?’

    How long will it be before Trump starts appearing in public dressed like a Mexican wrestler?

    Or a Batman knock off?

  22. 22
    Mike R says:

    Agree completely. It seems that in 16 years we are about where we were when we started. Declare victory and bring them home. Afghanistan is ungovernable, we had our chance years ago and it didn’t work. It is possible that some of the military going this time were 2 years old when this adventure began, enough. Not denigrating the troops, they have performed marvelously, this has just become a boondoggle.

  23. 23
    gvg says:

    Adam addressed this a couple of days ago. He said these were precisely trainers. More teachers. Same as many already there, and that the Obama plan which he thought the Generals were going to sell to Trump was for them to train and not be actually on the front lines shooting. So he did not think it was a big escalation or anything to worry about more than we already are.
    I interpreted it to mean no one with any real knowledge was able to come up with a better idea than do more of the same and it was sort of reassuring to know it came from the precious competent administration. Also Trump doesn’t know anything (shocker) and probably implies the Generals know to not say it’s exactly like Obama planned.
    I was a kid for Vietnam but I think our leaders for that mess were lying and saying we were sending trainers when it was really troops on the line. In this case I think/hope it’s actually trainers.
    I think Adam said the other problem was where to get the 4000. that same problem I think/hope may prevent Trump from escalating for real because we don’t have the spare troops just lying around. I consider that to be a reason we should get out of the area an rest our troops for when we actually need them but not going to happen right now. If Trump proposes a draft over Afghanistan or any of the messes on the radar right now, well that would probably get him impeached finally. I don’t think Congress has the courage to face the voters over that. its just not important enough, which is why we shouldn’t be in anymore.
    Adam will clarify for himself when he looks in. this is just what I recall and understood. I think a few days ago and some of us were really upset at the rumors.

  24. 24
    Ryan says:

    No doubt, like his net worth, whether conditions are met on any given day will also depend on how Trump feels.

  25. 25
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    John, I have not been in the military for nearly 30 years, but I know what this is.

    Utter bullshit. A battalion, as you point out, is nothing in this context.

  26. 26
    different-church-lady says:

    Now that he’s fired all the conservative dirtbags and suits who greased his way into office, he’s trying on some new clothes woven by the generals. I doubt he’ll feel like they fit any better, but for the moment he’ll try being serious and sober because he wants the pounding in the press to stop and Kelly is telling him serious and sober will work. I give it two weeks at most.

  27. 27
    Yutsano says:

    @Ryan: His net worth is negative. He’s so far underwater on all his properties the Marianas trench looks like high ground to him.

  28. 28
    rikyrah says:

    The Importance of Confederate Monuments Is In What They Symbolize
    by Nancy LeTourneau
    August 22, 2017

    Symbols are very powerful in American culture. That is why all presidents are now required to wear an American flag lapel pin at all times—it has come to symbolize that they are patriotic (something that seems to only be questionable when it comes to Democrats these days).

    Perhaps the most heated way that symbols have been elevated is when there is blowback to the burning of American flags. I realize that this gets elemental, but it is important to recognize that the anger that kind of gesture incites doesn’t have anything to do with the actual cloth being burned. It has to do with how people feel about what the flag has come to symbolize.

    The waving of other flags in public recently also carries with it a lot of symbolic value. Without the need for words, they speak volumes for the person carrying them.

  29. 29
    Eric U. says:

    @gvg: trainers have to go out on missions to train under real conditions. See how this works?

  30. 30
    sharl says:

    Don’t worry; top men made this decision.
    Top. Men.

    One of the ways McMaster tried to persuade Trump to recommit to the effort was by convincing him that Afghanistan was not a hopeless place. He presented Trump with a black-and-white snapshot from 1972 of Afghan women in miniskirts walking through Kabul, to show him that Western norms had existed there before and could return.

  31. 31
    MattF says:

    Has Jared been to Afghanistan yet?

  32. 32
    boatboy_srq says:

    @Brachiator: All those “instruments of American power — diplomatic, economic, and military” would function a lot better if Lord Dampnut weren’t Hell-bent on tearing down the bureaus that make them function.

  33. 33
    d58826 says:

    Well if we want to learn from history maybe we should go back to Alexander the Great. He was smart enough not to hang around any longer than to say hi/bye

  34. 34
    different-church-lady says:

    @different-church-lady: Reply to self: actually, I forgot the Phoenix rally is tonight. Kelly won’t be able to do a thing about that. So skip two weeks, it won’t last 24 hours.

    It might be “The Two Sides of Jerry Lewis Trump” for a while.

  35. 35
    sukabi says:

    His “war policy” is simple. Extract as much wealth (mineral, oil, ECT.) as possible, kill as many as necessary to achieve goal. Leave.

  36. 36
    Hoodie says:

    Could be an attempt by Mattis and McMaster to get Trump to do his job and, as you would expect, he didn’t have the balls to pull out to back up all his armchair generalship. I seriously doubt they think this piddling number would do anything and they sure as hell know it didn’t warrant a special announcement. Otherwise, it was just a hastily constructed stunt to change the subject. Trump looked tired and unhappy he was making this speech, so he’ll likely decompensate big time in Phoenix.

  37. 37
    Mike in NC says:

    Yet tonight Trump will show up at a white power/campaign rally in Phoenix and boast about “winning” Afghanistan by sending in 4000 more soldiers, and the crowd will go nuts cheering him on. Then he’ll cap the night off by pardoning Joe Arapaio. He should go golfing on Thursday to celebrate another triumphant week of winning bigly.

  38. 38
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @different-church-lady: I wonder if he’ll hole up in his private room on AF1 to call Bannon and get revved up for the Deplorables. Or maybe all it will take is a ride from airport with Sheriff Joe

  39. 39

    @d58826: They still curse Alexander/Kandahar to this day.

  40. 40
    Yarrow says:

    I wonder how long the “pivot” will last once he gets to Arizona? And there’s also this:

    That Russian Guy Who Attended the Trump Tower Meeting Is Almost Definitely a Spy

    Today’s Times has a follow-up story on Akhmetshin, with three reporters sharing a byline. The story does not call Akhmetshin a Russian spy, because that is not a charge that a newspaper can prove, short of extraordinary evidence like an email from Akhmetshin saying, “By the way, I’m a Russian spy.” (And that email does not exist because — unlike, say, Donald Trump Jr. — Akhmetshin is not a complete idiot.) Instead, the headline cautiously calls Akhmetshin a “Lobbyist” who has a “Web of Russian Connections.”

    But this massively understates the story’s conclusions. Donald Trump has a web of Russian connections. Akhmetshin is (again, almost certainly) a Russian spy. The shadiness of Akhmetshin’s cover story comes through over and over in the report. Akhmetshin “told some journalists that he worked with a military counterintelligence unit, but said he never joined Russian intelligence services — unlike his father, sister and godfather,” the Times reports, skeptically. He founded a “think tank” with the ostensible purpose of promoting democratization, but which was, in reality, “essentially a vehicle to burnish the reputation of one client, Akezhan Kazhegeldin, an ex-K.G.B. officer and the former prime minister of Kazakhstan.”

    Tick tock, motherfuckers.

  41. 41
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @sharl: Have to hand it to McMaster–way to read the boss. With this lecherous oaf the best bet had to be “Let’s liberate those gams!”

  42. 42
    Brachiator says:

    @sukabi:

    His “war policy” is simple. Extract as much wealth (mineral, oil, ECT.) as possible, kill as many as necessary to achieve goal. Leave.

    Trump is an even bigger fool if he thinks he is going to be effortlessly extracting wealth from Afghanistan.

  43. 43
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Hoodie: You can tell he’s aching to break out the “whatever happened to the element of surprise?” line again.

  44. 44
    Amir Khalid says:

    Let’s send more troops to Afghanistan, President Trump says, and never mind that sending more troops there for 15 years has never improved things. Let’s kill more people in Afghanistan, he says, and not take so much care to make sure they really are terrorists. I have a secret plan for success in Afghanistan, says he who has never been a soldier or planned any military activity, and can’t even define “success in Afghanistan”.

    This guy is not even a good bullshit artist..

  45. 45
    MattF says:

    @d58826: I remember, back in the days of the Soviet Menace, I heard someone going on at length about how the Reds were preparing to invade Afghanistan from the sea, and how this would be a geopolitical disaster.

    I’m suspicious of anyone who does geopolitical strategy by pointing to a map… (think of Churchill and Gallipoli)… but in this case– one might note that Afghanistan doesn’t have a seacoast and that there are no population centers in the southern areas.

  46. 46
    Adam L Silverman says:

    Oh look Nagl is on MSNBC. And he just badly mangled the history of our efforts in Vietnam to justify 15 or so more years of operations in Afghanistan. There’s a reason this guy is the headmaster of a private boarding school in Philadelphia and no longer at CNAS or any other think tank or at a defense contractor or anywhere else where he could actually effect policy. That reason is that he’s delusional.

  47. 47

    Again, I have not been in the military for almost twenty years, so I am not an expert and my numbers may be wrong

    They are close enough to reality.

  48. 48
    clay says:

    When a stupid person comes up with an idea they think is clever, nothing will ever dissuade them from it. Trump’s clever idea was that “announcing any information about troop movement is the same thing as telling the enemy our plans.”

    The stuff about not telling is the part of the speech that I’m sure Trump himself insisted on.

  49. 49

    My reaction to any Republican military proposal: define “win”, asshole. I’m yet to see a set of metrics defining what winning in Afghanistan would look like.

    @coin operated: Apparently for our so-called President – and worse, his BFF McMaster, it’s Afghani women in miniskirts.

    This is not a realistic goal.

  50. 50
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Amir Khalid: What he thinks about every war before him is that it was fought “politically correct,” i.e., in a weak way, instead of being fought to win, i.e., while committing more atrocities. This is how he can be a war critic and a warmonger at the same time: the not-him wars were fought like püssies, but his wars will be fought like men. Why so many people from Chris Matthews and Maureen Dowd on leftwards kept falling for him as some sort of cynical noninterventionist realist is mostly due to a longterm buildup of Hillary-hating derp residue.

  51. 51
    sherparick says:

    @MaryL: This is what drives me crazy. The Group Think of the Village for the last 25 years is that nothing shows one as a “serious,” successful President, then sending American troops and Air Power to some a Middle Eastern, Muslim, country. I guess it is better than handing Erik Prince $15 billion a year indefinitely to run the country as a war lord, which appears to been the alternative considered.

    As long as the Americans are involved, the Taliban can paint themselves as the defenders of Islam and Afghan independence. See the Afghan-British wars. http://www.iranicaonline.org/a.....n-wars#pt2
    and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Third_Anglo-Afghan_War So this is just a recipe for stalemate. The key to our security problem is not Afghanistan, but Pakistan, which supports the Taliban and harbors Islamist terrorists as part due to ideology and in part due to using them to attack India and keep us present in the area. As long as Pakistan has this agenda, the Afghan war is interminable.

  52. 52
    rikyrah says:

    Again, I have not been in the military for almost twenty years, so I am not an expert and my numbers may be wrong, but from where I sit, this isn’t a fucking plan. It’s a blood sacrifice.

    If the most abrasive, arrogant, and imperious President we have ever known thinks all he can get is political support for 4k more troops, it’s game over, man.

    utterly on point. without hesitation, Cole.

  53. 53
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @clay: Definitely — he’s VERY proud of that remark.

  54. 54
    d58826 says:

    It became a tired and bitter cliche in Vietnam but the phrase ‘winning hearts and minds’ says it all. The other cliche was ‘why do their Vietnamese fight better than ours’./ In this type of conflict if ‘our’ people are not willing to fight to defend themselves and their families and are not willing to hide the other side then you can’t win. As long as the fish have Mao’s warm sea to swim in it’s a losing battle. One would think that Der Fuhrer’s brilliant generals, esp. McMaster, would have figured this out by now.

    And as far as the terrorist threat, as long as native born Frenchmen/Spaniards, etc are willing to drive cars into crowds, you can turn Afgan. into a radioactive crater and terrorism will not stop.

  55. 55
    d58826 says:

    @The Moar You Know: At least in WWII it was ‘on to Berlin’ and ‘on to Tokyo’

  56. 56
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @JPL: I have several USAID, or rather AID as it was known at the time, brochures, pamphlets, etc from Afghanistan in the 50s and 60s touting the development work. The pictures showed scenes of contemporary life, largely in Kabul interspersed with scenes of development project throughout the country. What you didn’t see was pictures of anyone in the rural areas. The text of the documents is strikingly similar to how we talk about Afghanistan today even though the images are very, very different from then to now.

    In mid to late 20th century Afghanistan there was always a well educated, urban population. These folks were far more western than the vast majority of their countrymen. And they are always a very small minority. Imagine if the US population was distributed the following way: 60% of the highly educated, modern, contemporary Americans all lived in New York, which was also the US capitol, and the remaining 40% of these types of Americans lived in two other medium sized cities. The rest, and vast majority, of the US population lived in rural areas everywhere else, most of which had no electricity or running water and each of these rural settlements were so isolated by geography that even folks from the same ethnic groups spoke such different dialects of English that they couldn’t communicate with each other. That’s basically what Afghanistan is like.

  57. 57
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @coin operated: It isn’t just win in terms of battlefield victory. The really hard questions are how does achieving battlefield victory set the conditions for securing/winning the peace? And what is the strategy for doing that?

  58. 58
    rikyrah says:

    We are not ‘nation building’, says Dolt45.

    Good, because Afghanistan isn’t a nation. It’s a land mass with tribes on it.

  59. 59
    clay says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    Definitely — he’s VERY proud of that remark.

    I didn’t watch the speech, but I saw clips on Maddow and LOD, and that seemed to be the only part of the speech that he wasn’t blankly reading off the teleprompter.

  60. 60
    opiejeanne says:

    @Brachiator: Use of the word “pillar” is striking. Like the Pillars of Islam.

  61. 61

    Good, because Afghanistan isn’t a nation. It’s a land mass with tribes on it.

    @rikyrah: Say that over and over again, because that’s the truth of the matter. I doubt if half the commenters here will get it, much less the public at large, but don’t stop saying it. I have not. You can’t win a war in a country that does not exist save on paper.

  62. 62
    lgerard says:

    Logo Toads

    No idea what it means, but I like it!

    My new go-to insult

  63. 63
    WaterGirl says:

    @sharl: Soon we’ll be seeing “We’ve come a long way, baby” ads again for cigarettes. Who cares about equal pay or things like respect in the workplace? If mini-skirts were that important, Oprah would have been handing them out. You get a mini-skirt, and you get a mini-skirt.

  64. 64
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @The Moar You Know: I doubt if half the commenters here will get it,

    um… okay

    @lgerard: I think it’s one of those in-jokes from the military that you would be ill-advised to use if you’re not in the military. (“Logistics and operations”?)

  65. 65
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Adam L Silverman: So what you’re telling us is that their rural people resent the urbanites and their materialistic ways and so they’ve thrown in with an armed, radical religious movement? I can’t imagine what that would be like.

  66. 66
    Seth Owen says:

    @Adam L Silverman: I think a lot of other places, as well. I once dated a lady from Zambia who remarked that a Zambian from Lusaka had more in common with an urban American than they did with people living in rural villages.

    Indeed, the rural-urban divide is a global phenomenon.

  67. 67

    When the President with zero grasp of history says he wants India to do more, what the fuck does he want? Indian ground troops? More money?

  68. 68
    zhena gogolia says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist:

    They can send Shirley Temple up the mountain to negotiate with Cesar Romero. (John Ford, Wee Willie Winkie)

  69. 69
    syphonblue says:

    Tonight is a new President Trump: Acknowledging a flip-flop and talking about gravity of office, history & substance.

    It has been

    ONE FUCKING WEEK

    since he defended Nazis.

    ONE WEEK.

  70. 70
    Rosalita says:

    He didn’t write that. Probably doesn’t understand half of it. I’m surprised he can read. Considering his previous position on this I cannot see why they are making this token effort. We need to GTFO.

  71. 71
    d58826 says:

    @schrodingers_cat: Nuke Pakistan for us?????

  72. 72
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @The Moar You Know: Well, there you go.

    See “Iraq”.

  73. 73

    @The Moar You Know: That was Churchill’s opinion of India too. The world is still paying a price for western “civilization”.

  74. 74
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @FlipYrWhig: For a preview, see the siege of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

  75. 75

    @d58826: You do know that India has more Muslims than Pakistan, right? Sending troops to Afghanistan would be a disaster for India.

  76. 76

    @clay: Yes because troops and their supply chains are invisible. Idiot.

    ETA: The speech maker not you, just in case that was unclear.

  77. 77
    Brachiator says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    It isn’t just win in terms of battlefield victory. The really hard questions are how does achieving battlefield victory set the conditions for securing/winning the peace? And what is the strategy for doing that?

    And what does winning the peace mean? A politically stable Afghanistan? A unified Afghanistan (which is not necessarily the same thing as a “stable” Afghanistan)? A peaceful Afghanistan dominated by the Taliban might still be a danger to the US.

  78. 78
    tobie says:

    @sukabi:

    His “war policy” is simple. Extract as much wealth (mineral, oil, ECT.) as possible.

    I assume the only “condition” for leaving is if we have managed to loot the country. It’s kind of shocking that in a speech where Trump insisted that facts on the ground, not timetables, would determine how long we stay, he didn’t once enumerate what those necessary facts would be. This was what the speech was supposed to be about. We have no exit strategy and not one pundit saw fit to mention that. Growl.

  79. 79
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @lgerard: Logistics troops. The ones who make it possible for the grunts to fight (and win) wars.

  80. 80
    Stan says:

    Excellent post and fuck them, bring everybody home.

  81. 81
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @rikyrah: There are no tribes in Afghanistan. Afghanistan is not socio-culturally oriented tribally in terms of its kinship dynamics.

  82. 82
    raven says:

    @lgerard: Shoot, move and communicate.

  83. 83
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @MaryL: Media talking-head people. It seems to have zero public effect, though, and it never lasts long.

  84. 84
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @FlipYrWhig: No, I’m not. In a lot of places in Afghanistan the rural folk are so geographically isolated that they do not know what Kabul is. This has been a recurring problem in trying to build a national government. Because when you have to explain national government to people who don’t know anything beyond village and valley you’re not going to make much progress.

  85. 85
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @schrodingers_cat: Mangos. We have a strategic mango gap!

  86. 86
    Stan says:

    @gvg: I

    was a kid for Vietnam but I think our leaders for that mess were lying and saying we were sending trainers when it was really troops on the line.

    No, frankly they were pretty up-front about them being trainers at first. That was actually the main mission of Army Special Forces back in those days. The shift to combat forces was very well publicized at the time.

    They lied a LOT about almost EVERYTHING, but not that.

  87. 87
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Brachiator: Exactly. And I don’t have any better answer than anyone else. I’m not even sure, as I wrote in a post several months ago, that I’m even articulating the question correctly yet.

  88. 88
    rikyrah says:

    @Yarrow:

    Tick tock, motherfuckers.

    LOL

  89. 89
    raven says:

    @Stan: Ah, strategic hamlets were such a swell idea.

  90. 90
    Thru the Looking Glass... says:

    @sukabi:

    His “war policy” is simple. Extract as much wealth (mineral, oil, ECT.) as possible, kill as many as necessary to achieve goal. Leave.

    You forgot one KEY component of his policy…

    And blame someone else when this doesn’t work…

  91. 91
    Tenar Arha says:

    @Adam L Silverman: None of the expert advice on how Afghanistan was the “graveyard of empires” was enough to get President Bush to withdraw once we failed to capture/kill Bin Laden after 9/11, or prevent him from taking his eye off the ball by invading Iraq. At this point, I simply don’t believe we have the capability or the desire as a country to win a battlefield victory and then secure/win the peace. I can’t even believe we’ll be able to honorably withdraw. I mean I would dearly like to hope we would help the people who aided us in Afghanistan to escape what will happen when we do eventually withdraw, but even that possibility is currently being trashed by the anti-immigrant-in-chief. As I’ve grown older, the more the Marshall Plan looks like an aberration. It was probably the exception that proved a rule of our never adequately supporting a post-war reconstruction.

    ETA My first world event memories are of Nixon announcing the results of the Paris Peace Talks. Guess I’ve reverted to my ingrained cynical mean.

  92. 92
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @tobie: The problem is that the US military doctrinally refuted and got rid of effects based operations as way to actually conduct military operations over a decade ago. After a great deal of analysis it was determined that trying to measure effects in order to determine success was a rabbit hole that created tunnel vision and prevented a more holistic understanding of what is happening in the theater of operations and how to measure effectiveness.

  93. 93
    Brachiator says:

    @opiejeanne:

    Use of the word “pillar” is striking. Like the Pillars of Islam.

    Probably just a coincidence. Whoever wrote this speech could have had TE Lawrence’s “Seven Pillars of Wisdom” in mind, or Proverbs 9:1 or some other use.

  94. 94
    Timurid says:

    @lgerard:

    Support troops. From “logistics.” People not in the combat arms (infantry, armor, artillery, aviation, etc.).

    And also; anyone remember that Charlottesville thing? I think it was a Civil War battle or something?

  95. 95
    Betty Cracker says:

    The only winners in Afghanistan are kleptocrats, war lords and multinational contractor corporations. That’s been true since 2001, and it will be true on the day some future president finally gets the U.S. the fuck outta there.

  96. 96
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Tenar Arha: Yep.

  97. 97
    d58826 says:

    @schrodingers_cat: Yes I do. And the Taliban/Pashtuns occupy both sides of the Afgan/Pakistan border. There is no way Pakistan is going to throw the Taliban under the bus.

  98. 98
    d58826 says:

    @Brachiator: Well at least they avoided the word ‘crusade’. And failed to sprinkle the magic pixy dust of ‘radical Islamic terrorism’ in the speech

  99. 99
    Stan says:

    Seems to me there are two ways to win a guerilla war (and many, many ways of losing).

    There’s the “Roman” way, which basically consists of massacring everyone, literally everyone, and destroying all infrastructure so the area cannot even be repopulated. The nazis tried a ‘lightweight’ version of this. Obviously not ruthlessly enough since they were never successful in crushing all armed resistance. But they kept it down to a level they could mostly live with.

    The other choice is the “Classic US” way (bear with me here…) which consisted of picking the strongest or most pliant bad guy, supporting him and calling that the ‘government’. Then give that bad guy anything he needs to wipe out the opposition. Don’t pay attention to how he does it. We did this for decades in latin America.

    In recent decades we’ve tried ‘hearts and minds’, which is one of the many losing strategies.

    Modern techniques of public relations makes the Roman method untenable for us now, so I guarantee we will eventually get to the old classic US method one of these days. When we do, we’ll all hear about how wonderful the new leader is.

    Everything that happens until then is, indeed, blood sacrifice of our best young people.

  100. 100
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @d58826: christ, we should be grateful Bannon is gone, cause “crusade” is just the kind of thing eh would’ve loved to slip into a speech like this.

    If they are still in touch, which is trump’s pattern, we may see a “many people don’t realize, that the crusades…” in the next couple of weeks

  101. 101
    Stan says:

    @raven: raven says:
    August 22, 2017 at 12:16 pm
    @Stan: Ah, strategic hamlets were such a swell idea.

    LOL. Sadly most of what I see today is simply a retread of Vietnam strategy, and most of that was a retread of the Malaysian war. And a lot of that was lifted from the Boer War. We ain’t progressing.

  102. 102
    Another Scott says:

    @opiejeanne: There’s a fairly famous photo of the bin Laden family in front of a pink Lincoln in Sweden in 1971.

    It doesn’t mean anything about right now.

    (sigh)

    Great rant, JC.

    The timing of the speech is curious, but the lack of substance isn’t. Donnie doesn’t do substance.

    Until Afghanistan manages to find a way to regularly pay its police and soldiers, turnover is going to be a huge problem. More training isn’t going to fix that. More US patrols isn’t going to fix that. More MOABs aren’t going to fix that.

    Under the best of circumstances, it would be a nearly impossible task to stabilize Afghanistan now. With its neighbors fighting proxy wars, and using it to play “kill the infidels” with US and NATO personnel, it’s hopeless without a strong partner in Kabul and throughout the countryside.

    What’s the solution? I dunno. The best hope is probably a regional peace conference, but we don’t want to talk to the Iranians, and the India/Pakistan/China trio have their own issues, and Russia would like nothing better than for us to be tied up there for another 50 years, and …, so that seems hopeless too.

    Donnie “killing terrorists” isn’t going to do anything but invite more blowback.

    Until someone can do the following:

    1) Define our specific national interests in Afghanistan and show that the level of “investment” that we’re making will actually secure our national interests

    2) Define how our actions in #1 support our national interests as opposed to taking a stand-off approach (e.g. droning terrorist training camps and/or sending in SEAL teams when necessary) or sending Kabul a $20B check every year or …

    3) Define “winning” or “peace with honor” or whatever pablum is supposed to be the end game. How are we not handing the initiative to our adversaries there? “As long as we keep attacking the Occupiers, they’ll stay and weaken themselves…” When will we leave? If you propose that we don’t leave, see #1.

    then it’s all just words with no strategy.

    We’re not doomed if US troops aren’t on the ground fighting in Afghanistan, and we need to stop talking as if we are.

    Until they can do that, we’re just kicking the can down the road (and anyone who is interested in public service would be a fool to join the military).

    (sigh)

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  103. 103
    John says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    The rest, and vast majority, of the US population lived in rural areas everywhere else, most of which had no electricity or running water and each of these rural settlements were so isolated by geography that even folks from the same ethnic groups spoke such different dialects of English that they couldn’t communicate with each other.

    So, Appalachia?

  104. 104

    @Adam L Silverman: Sorry, no longer in season.

  105. 105
    Brachiator says:

    @Stan:

    The other choice is the “Classic US” way (bear with me here…) which consisted of picking the strongest or most pliant bad guy, supporting him and calling that the ‘government’. Then give that bad guy anything he needs to wipe out the opposition. Don’t pay attention to how he does it. We did this for decades in latin America.

    This did not necessarily win any wars in Latin America.

    And the US probably first dealt with guerilla forces in the Philippines.

    Hell, even relatively recently, the “installation” of a new government in the Dominican Republic in the 1960s involved having US troops on the ground. I had family members who were part of that invasion.

    You also omit the instances when the US has been suckered into military involvement when some foreign dope cried out “Communists” (also including the Dominican Republic).

  106. 106

    @d58826: Do you know that the Pathans never wanted to be a part of Pakistan?

  107. 107
    raven says:

    @Stan: regulation 303

  108. 108
    clay says:

    @schrodingers_cat:

    Yes because troops and their supply chains are invisible. Idiot.

    ETA: The speech maker not you, just in case that was unclear.

    Oh, I figured.

    When the President with zero grasp of history says he wants India to do more, what the fuck does he want? Indian ground troops? More money?

    Bollywood dance numbers? We could dazzle the Taliban into submission!

  109. 109
    d58826 says:

    @schrodingers_cat: Well the Brits put them there so they will have to like it:-)

  110. 110

    @clay: Actually, Hindi movies are pretty popular in Afghanistan.

  111. 111
    El Caganer says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist: Richard the Lionhearted made many great, fabulous contributions which are being recognized more every day.

  112. 112

    @d58826: Well the Pathans like their arrangement as much as the Kurds do. There was a referendum to decide the provinces after partition, geographical continuity overrode many other considerations. The subject of partition is still a bleeding wound for India and Pakistan.

  113. 113
    sukabi says:

    @Brachiator: to be fair, I always assume he’s a bigger fool than expected…and in that respect he doesn’t disappoint.

  114. 114

    @Mnemosyne:

    Funny how all of those people vanished back into the muck as soon as Trump was elected.

    I think it’s because the Kremlin didn’t see any point in continuing to pay them after the election.

  115. 115
    d58826 says:

    @schrodingers_cat: In short sounds like a place the US should want to be as far away from as possible. It is a circular firing squad and whatever the US does will have every one aiming at us.

  116. 116
    Mnemosyne says:

    I was hoping that commenter dance around in your bones would have some time to pop up here, because she actually traveled to Afghanistan in the late 1970s. (I don’t remember the actual year, but it was before the Soviet invasion.) IIRC she went to both the cities and traveled in more rural areas.

  117. 117
    Timurid says:

    @schrodingers_cat:

    That problem goes all the way back to the creation of the Sikh Empire* in the early 1800’s. Large parts of North India had been devastated by invasions and persistent raids from Afghanistan during and after the collapse of the Mughal Empire. As the Sikhs built their state they occupied the southern part of Afghanistan as a way to deal with that threat and maintain strategic depth. The British later inherited that territory when they conquered the Sikhs. It became the Northwest Frontier provinces of Pakistan after independence, but its Pashtun inhabitants mostly identified with their fellows inside (the modern borders of) Afghanistan, not other Pakistanis. One of the main goals of the original Taliban movement and the later insurgency in northern Pakistan is the re-unification of “Pashtunistan.” Many people who identify as “Taliban” on both sides of the border are motivated as much by Pashtun nationalism as they are by Islamic extremism. The modern version of Afghanistan is actually displaced from its “natural” historic borders, which consisted of the southern part of the modern state and the northern end of Pakistan… basically the areas inhabited by Pashtuns. (The northwest corner of modern Afghanistan is inhabited by Persian speakers and was traditionally part of greater Persia. The north central region is inhabited by Persian speakers and Turks. It was historically connected to Central Asia. The northeast corner is mostly wilderness.)

    *The Sikh Empire is also indirectly responsible for the current troubles in Kashmir. The British rewarded a Hindu general in its army for deserting and siding with them by installing him as the king of Kashmir (which had been part of the empire). His descendant decided to join that Muslim-majority state with India instead of Pakistan after Independence. Hilarity ensued.

  118. 118
    Miss Bianca says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    Oh look Nagl is on MSNBC. And he just badly mangled the history of our efforts in Vietnam to justify 15 or so more years of operations in Afghanistan. There’s a reason this guy is the headmaster of a private boarding school in Philadelphia and no longer at CNAS or any other think tank or at a defense contractor or anywhere else where he could actually effect policy. That reason is that he’s delusional.

    In that case, I feel very , very sorry for the stuents under his “care”. “Oh, look, honey, a delusional ex-military nutjob is in charge here! That sounds like *just* the ‘in loco parentis’ situation for Johnny and Susie!”

  119. 119
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Miss Bianca: He’s both too tightly wound and too loosely tethered.

  120. 120
    Miss Bianca says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    Because when you have to explain national government to people who don’t know anything beyond village and valley you’re not going to make much progress.

    Hey, that sounds like where *I* live! no wonder we can’t have nice things!

  121. 121
    TenguPhule says:

    It’s a blood sacrifice.

    On the altar of Republican Chaos Gods.

  122. 122
    Grung_e_Gene says:

    BTW, the US Navy is quite possibly under attack while multiple military helicopters are crashing and Traitor Trump is too busy looking at the fiery rock in the sky and defending Neo-Nazis too care.

  123. 123
    TenguPhule says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist:

    I may have this wrong, but as I remember it a key part, maybe the key part, of the “surge” was a massive pay off to Sunni tribal and militia leaders in western Iraq to side with US and the gov’t in Baghdad.

    You are not wrong. The ‘Surge’ was simply a bribe to not attack our forces by throwing money at the Sunni Tribes. And it worked as long as the money lasted.

  124. 124
    Le Comte de Monte Cristo, fka Edmund Dantes says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    Garden variety O5, twenty and out.

    The world crawls with them.

  125. 125
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist: @TenguPhule: I wrote a long comment about this that got lost when the site did its late morning update. I’m not going to recreate now in the comments, but I will likely put something up about it later today or tomorrow. As I had a front row seat as I was the cultural advisor for a Surge brigade in Iraq in 2008.

    BLUF: this is essentially correct, but most of what is popularly known about the Surge is wrong based on the PR job that Petraeus and Nagle and several others promoted in the media.

  126. 126
    TenguPhule says:

    @d58826:

    The other cliche was ‘why do their Vietnamese fight better than ours’./ In this type of conflict if ‘our’ people are not willing to fight to defend themselves and their families and are not willing to hide the other side then you can’t win. As long as the fish have Mao’s warm sea to swim in it’s a losing battle. One would think that Der Fuhrer’s brilliant generals, esp. McMaster, would have figured this out by now.

    Its even worse then that.

    To compound all the other problems of theft, corruption, ghost troops, horrible casualties and attacks on their families, the fucking Afghan government CAN’T EVEN FUCKING PAY THEIR FRONT LINE TROOPS.

    That’s why the retention rate is shit there. And why its never gonna get better. The government we’re propping up can’t even behave like a fucking government.

  127. 127

    @Timurid: So according to you Sikhs should have remained non-violent and let the Mughals slaughter them? Also why stop at Kashmir, do you want Hyderabad and Junagadh to secede from India too?
    BTW Sikhs had to give up Lahore, but that was all fair and square, I guess.
    ETA: Only the tenth guru took up arms before that they were largely non-violent.

  128. 128
    TenguPhule says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    but most of what is popularly known about the Surge is wrong based on the PR job that Petraeus and Nagle and several others promoted in the media.

    I am increasingly inclined to Village’s solution to finally fix this problem.

  129. 129
    TenguPhule says:

    @schrodingers_cat:

    Sorry, no longer in season.

    Its always Mango season here (island in the middle of the ocean), just saying.

  130. 130

    @TenguPhule: Sounds like a place to be!

  131. 131
    Rosalita says:

    So, they are not giving any details about this – no dates…

    The Associated Press‏Verified account @AP 15m15 minutes ago
    BREAKING: Top US commander for the Middle East says first new forces will arrive in Afghanistan within days or weeks.

  132. 132
    Timurid says:

    @schrodingers_cat:

    It wasn’t their “fault.” It was unanticipated consequences manifesting themselves many decades later.
    Ranjit Singh was one of the good guys, certainly by the standards of his setting. His actions made perfect sense in that time and context.

  133. 133
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    (On MSNBC right now, Katie Tur rather condescendingly, and with that affectation of world-weary disappoinment so common in the Beltway, asking Congressman Ruben Gallego if calling trump a racist is “helpful”. As ever, being a racist isn’t divisive, pointing out racism is. There might just be some people in the MSNBC dressing rooms who might like to have this discussion on the air with Katie. And I’ve kinda liked Katie Tur.)

  134. 134

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist: Maggie H and Katy T, have always been T apologists.

  135. 135
    Vhh says:

    @Brachiator: Western petroleum engineers in places have to work protected by effective local military forces. Wonder how that works in Afghanistan where the locals hate all foreigners.

  136. 136

    […] According to someone whose opinion on fighting a war I highly respect, adding 4,000 troops to the forces already there won’t make a dime’s worth of difference. […]

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