This feels like a trial balloon to me, but is the Administration testing Karzhai, or Congress? Mark Mazzetti and Matthew Rosenberg, in the NYTimes:
Increasingly frustrated by his dealings with President Hamid Karzai, President Obama is giving serious consideration to speeding up the withdrawal of United States forces from Afghanistan and to a “zero option” that would leave no American troops there after next year, according to American and European officials.
Mr. Obama is committed to ending America’s military involvement in Afghanistan by the end of 2014, and Obama administration officials have been negotiating with Afghan officials about leaving a small “residual force” behind. But his relationship with Mr. Karzai has been slowly unraveling, and reached a new low after an effort last month by the United States to begin peace talks with the Taliban in Qatar.
Mr. Karzai promptly repudiated the talks and ended negotiations with the United States over the long-term security deal that is needed to keep American forces in Afghanistan after 2014…
Within the Obama administration, the way the United States extricates itself from Afghanistan has been a source of tension between civilian and military officials since Mr. Obama took office. American commanders in Afghanistan have generally pushed to keep as many American troops in the country as long as possible, creating friction with White House officials urging a speedier military withdrawal.
But with frustrations mounting over the glacial pace of initiating peace talks with the Taliban, and with American relations with the Karzai government continuing to deteriorate, it is unclear whether the Pentagon and American commanders in Afghanistan would vigorously resist if the White House pushed for a full-scale pullout months ahead of schedule.
As it stands, the number of American troops in Afghanistan — around 63,000 — is scheduled to go down to 34,000 by February 2014. The White House has said the vast majority of troops would be out of Afghanistan by the end of that year, although it now appears that the schedule could accelerate to bring the bulk of the troops — if not all of them — home by next summer, as the annual fighting season winds down…
Outside of the neocon one-percenters making a living off the Permanent Global War beat, and those hardcore RW fanatics who would guzzle Drano if President Obama spoke out against ingesting household chemicals, there doesn’t seem to a strong voter bloc in favor of keeping ‘a presence’ in Afghanistan. On the other hand, there is no stronger adherent to the sunk cost theory than the Pentagon, is there?
James E. Powell
No matter what the president does, John McCain and Lindsey Graham will call it surrender & weakness.
Leaving is losing.
@James E. Powell: Worse, Obama left two countries. Ah, the glory of the empire going into flames.
At least now we might have some money to do something else instead of fighting this stupid useless war. Karzai is probably going to end up being assassinated or something by some Taliban folks while his pants is around his ankles.
Trust me, Karzai has an escape route planned if things get too heavy. Along with a nice bank balance sitting in Switzerland just waiting for him. It’s how they roll unfortunately.
Villago Delenda Est
The military is infested with sunk-cost advocates who can’t imagine just stopping the bleeding and getting the fuck out.
The bureaucracy is so infected with a desire for “normalcy” that any sudden change, even one with long term benefits, frightens them no end.
This is why there are adults in charge who should, eventually, say “enough is enough”. There is not a single adult neocon. Not one.
From the link:
The fact of the matter is, from the “rational” perspective of an economist (the guy who assumes a can opener) sunk costs should be ignored, but real life differs.
The neocons are abject slaves to this, and the military bureaucratic mindset goes right along with it.
On the other hand, there is no stronger adherent to the
sunk cost theoryfear of tiny penis theory than the Pentagon, is there?
The ensemble machines have Chantal aimed at Florida. Hurricane season is here.
[‘Gettin’ warmed up early.’]
Good to know that the WordPress will protect the pentagon’s junk at any cost.
[‘I was just trying to make a comment, and the damned thing screamed ‘Grenade’ and hurled itself at my keyboard.’]
I think most normal Americans are sick and tired of seeing Americans get killed for a population that has proven themselves unworthy of the sacrifice. Plus, to put it bluntly-we accomplished our retribution for 9-11 a long time ago. We achieved our aims, but let our selves get sidetracked by the foolish idea that we could eliminate terror for good.
As a result of both wars the US has accelerated its own problems. I submit to you that most of our economic problems can be laid at the feet of the wars-and that the country is now badly over-extended.
The neo-cons will beat Obama over the head and whine and cry, but if Obama actually left no one in Afghanistan it would be the best thing he could do as President.
But he won’t.
@Skippy-san: There will be an embassy there, and the embassy will have marine guards. Just like the embassy in London has, just like the embassy n Paris has. Yet the ODS crowd will still howl worsethanbushsoldusoutunderthebus.
Every time I see a reference to Drano, I still recall the horrible, exceptionally brutal Hi-Fi murders committed in Utah by members of the Air Force.
Maybe, maybe not. Many embassies have outsourced, ‘privatized’ guard protection contracts rather than Marines, currently including the embassy in Kabul,.
James E. Powell
At least now we might have some money to do something else instead of fighting this stupid useless war.
The Brits tried remaking Afghanistan. The Russians tried too. What made anybody think the US was going to succeed? We need to GTFO and come home. You can’t do much about a culture where they stone girls who are raped but then blamed for the rapes. The way the Kabul Zoo animals were treated during the war. It’s just a fucked up culture and one say when communication and world media reaches them they’ll change.
Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again)
Well…Modern, modern-thinking Afghans tried remaking the country, too, when they deposed the king and made a republic in the 1970’s. That didn’t work out very well, either. It seems that a feudal system might be the only thing that holds together so many different nationalities/ethnic groups.
Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN)
@Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again): With, of course, the proviso that a feudal system doesn’t actually hold the country together. Most of the time, the idea that there is a unitary country within the borders marked “Afghanistan” on maps is a complete fiction.
I’ve always thought the Afghanis were a handsome people and I understand the wish to bring them into the world community. Alas, they don’t seem to want to be a part of “us.”
So be it. Bring the kids home and we’ll find plenty to do right here.
“Unworthy of the sacrifice”? Before you denounce Afghans as bloodthirsty ingrates, remember that they never sought to be invaded by American troops. Clearing out the Taliban was the American national security objective behind the invasion.
Actually I agree with you that American troops in Afghanistan aren’t doing either country any real good. And that every one of them should leave unless needed to guard the US embassy in Kabul.
@Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN):
Nice phrase. I think I’ll use it and apply it to Right Wingers who live in one of those southern states that receive more in federal benefits than they give in taxes, yet howl at the thought of anyone else getting any help from the government.
The Afghans deserve better than Karzai, but good luck to them if they’re thinking it will just pop up out of nowhere. The problem is the same with Iraq, and the underlying problem is the same: there are too many groups that don’t see their country outside of their local group. Iraq is easier, actually. The Kurds in the north are left to themselves under the illusion that they’re part of the country. The Sunni and Shiite areas to the south have been forcefully mixed under the old regime, so there will be much more unsorting than the stuff that happened before the Surge got us to pretend we fixed that country enough to leave. Afghanistan is similar, but their version of Kurds are the majority. The Pashtun tribes, which is the Taliban’s “base” so to speak, are the majority. And their territory goes deep into Pakistan. Wonder why both Afghanistan and Pakistan have issues with fundamentalist Sunnis? Here is why: they are everywhere. That’s the reality that has the US talking to the Taliban. It’s the de-facto government that needs to be dealt with in order to end all this. The rest of Afghanistan is different tribes with different ways of living. Kabul is the capital and not entirely relevant to the discussion. And that’s about the thumbnail sketch of why that place is an ungovernable mess. Karzai pretends he has a country but can’t rule it because he’s not an autocrat but a figurehead. The Taliban has made itself part of the Pashtun tribe that probably claims it liberated Afghanistan from foreign invasion twice (or more.) And they’re probably willing to say they’ll never let another foreign group operate from their country again. And mean it, as long as we leave. We’re probably negotiating some way for Karzai to keep his ass alive. Karzai has to pretend he doesn’t need us or he loses face at home. And I’m not willing to see it as the good cop/bad cop stuff that’s always part of diplomacy involving the US and the Middle East. Same reason we aren’t calling Egypt a coup: it’s bad for us to complain about something we like, just as it may have killed the coup if we were quoted as being in support of it. Diplomacy is the are to saying what we like, even if we have to use other mouths. Karzai knows his role: making it easier for Obama to leave his ass behind but keep the foreign aid coming.
If I may quote Mr. Carlin:
“Pull out? I don’t know, doesn’t sound manly to me Bill.”
Diplomacy is the art of saying what we like, even if we have to use other mouths.
@Amir Khalid: But the point is, they were invaded-and in the process given a once in a life time opportunity to shed their tired old ways and move into the 21st century. They have had over 10 years to move forward. They choose not to. We did our bit for these people-its time let them sink or swim on their own.
Plus in the end-from a purely narrowminded American viewpoint, the commitment is keeping America from addressing the truly relevant issues that keep the US from moving ahead.
There was a lot of bitching and whining about the SF plane crash and how dumb some of the passengers were. I said then that accounts of heroic action would emerge.
@Skippy-san: “These people” Jesus, it’s too early to be such a douche.
@James E. Powell:
Bingo!!! The war may have been off budget, “paid” for by emergency special funds but you KNOW the tax cuts will be there.
How gracious of America, to do so much for the Afghans.
@raven: Kippled? Naw. “Hustled” not a Victorian term.
It seems that the Afghanis don’t want to be like us. And that is the way it is.
James E. Powell
Maybe they don’t want to be pulled into the US/Euro version of the 21st Century.
Tissue Thin Pseudonym (JMN)
@raven: Speak for yourself. I’m into my third after-work beer.
@raven: Ok I will rephrase: ” We did our bit for the Afghans”.
Stop being so hyper sensitive. Sometimes a particle is just a particle.
@Linda Featheringill: True that.
In Chinese, the word for “accidental drone strike” is the same as the word for “opportunity”.
@James E. Powell: In an interconnected world, countries don’t get the option to “opt out”. And becaus they don’t-how they deal with rest of the world matters to the rest of us.
The Russians came and went; the Taliban endured.
The US came and went; the Taliban will endure.
Nothing changes in Afghanistan.
@Skippy-san: If a foreign army on one’s territory is not there at one’s express invitation, one can tend to see that army as an invader and tend to resist what that army is trying to do. I think Clausewitz said stuff about this.
George Orwell, about 60 years ago:
No country that has been “invaded” will ever see that as a “once in a lifetime opportunity.”
@cvstoner: I cant think of how Afghanistan will be one smidge diff in 2014 (after we scoot) then it was on 9/10/01. Other than the tens of thousands new graves, of course.
@Skippy-san: You mean move into the let’s stick some probes into the women 21st century of ‘murka ?
@Punchy: Painted schools.
@cvstoner: In the aftermath of 9-11, SOMEBODY was getting invaded. The national will demanded it. Afghanistan was the home of Al Quaeda and Bin Laden, so they lost the toss and elected to receive.
To American policy makers it made sense to leave some kind of working, stable govenment behind to keep them from setting up shop again. That actually makes a lot of sense.
However I submit to you, no one realized exactly how difficult that task would be. And the task was made 10 times harder when George Bush got a wild hair up his ass and decided it would be a good idea to invade Iraq. In doing that he metastised the problem world wide instead of keeping the problem relatively localized. And because the US shifted resources away from Afghanistan-the foundations of our current failure were laid. In the end we did not make ourselves any safer-nor did we make the Afghan society any better.
@Skippy-san: Much of what you say here is true, but please explain how an Afghan should see getting invaded as a once in a lifetime opportunity.
Actually, the Taliban was a creation of the US.
Supporting the authentic, heartfelt desires of a large, simply-lived religious demographic which simply wants government to reflect respect for genuine expressions of traditional religious faith in opposition to socialists and urban elites can never be bad….
@Omnes Omnibus: To explain the comment, you have to understand that I think making women wear burka’s, not allowing them to go to school, guys cutting off people’s heads , and in general most of the nonsense that goes with strict interpretations of Islam-I think is wrong.
The US was offering a helping hand away from that. I respect our military people and having been in the military myself, I know that in the aggregte, they want to do the right thing and help people.
All the Afghan citizenry had to do was take the assistance offered and leave the burkas behind on the trash heap. Without some external event-I don’t think it was going to happen.
That’s what I mean.
@Omnes Omnibus: Hell, Sun Tzu probably wrote a sentence or two.
@Skippy-san: Some did take advantage. Many did not. Those who did tend to be people who lived in the larger cities, like Kabul, which was quite the cosmopolitan city for decades up until the Russians invaded, then somewhat less so, and then not at all after the communist government fell. But people out in the hinterlands lived the way they had lived for centuries and nobody was going to change that.
We didn’t have the political will to do what that would have taken, and frankly you should have pride in that because that would have been the political will to commit to genocide.
You cannot force people to do something that you think is good for them for very long. Hell, even in the rare instance that you want for them actually IS good for them, and the even rarer instance that they recognize that fact, they will still fight you because nobody wants foreign ideas shoved down their throats.
We didn’t invade Afg with the hope of making the lives of their people better. That’s something we tried to do as a side show to finding and killing Al Queda and the Taliban that supported them. It’s something that we Americans told ourselves so that we could justify to ourselves the fact that we were killing quite a lot of these people.
Great line from the movie Full Metal Jacket, where a Marine is asked about fighting for “freedom,” just dripping with the sarcasm that this idea deserves:
“Personally, I think, uh… they don’t really want to be involved in this war. You know, I mean… they sort of took away our freedom and gave it to the, to the gookers, you know. But they don’t want it. They’d rather be alive than free, I guess. Poor dumb bastards.”
Every time Afghanistan has been invaded has been a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Problem is, the struggles have never been other than grabbing power and exploiting the rest of the country. Why would America’s stab at it turn out any differently?
@Soonergrunt: “we have to keep our head till this peace craze blows over”.
Davis X. Machina
That’s why we’ll never leave. I mean, we never left Iraq. And we’ll never leave Libya. Not so long as the oil is there, right?
I feel very bad about abandoning the girls of Afghanistan to the crew who will throw acid in their faces for crimes like attending school. But some things aren’t in our control.
At the end of the day, it is really no skin off my nose if the Taliban end Karzai like they did Najibullah and go back to the same policies that they were engaging in before we got there.
One way or another, the people of Afghanistan will choose their government. And they will deserve what they choose.
As long as whatever government takes charge doesn’t make trouble for us, nor allow any “guests” to do so, I don’t really give a damn what they do or don’t do to their own people.
The Taliban was a creation of the US? Link? We did support the muj against the Soviet Union, but my understanding is that it was mostly what later became known as the Northern Alliance. If we actually created the Taliban, I’d be interested to know that, but I’ve never seen anything suggesting that.
@Skippy-san: Jesus Christ. People don’t abandon centuries-old beliefs just because some foreigner invades their country; in fact the majority tends to cling to them even more.
We had a Civil War yesterday, in historical terms, and look at the Unredeemed Southerners.
@EconWatcher: In order to hide the exact amounts of money and the methods by which we were giving aid to the Taliban, we gave the money to Pakistan’s ISI, and essentially sub-contracted them to run the op. They used the money to support the groups and organizations that most closely matched their own goals. This is why a lot of the muj also spent time in the Kasmir. ISI, being overrun with Islamists at the time (and about the same now) tended to funnel money to radicals and people with whom they had some ethnic ties.
The Taliban were not the muj. They were an outgrowth of it after the war, but ISI spent a significant amount of time and money (ours and their own) to support them.
@Skippy-san: You can’t make a feudal, tribal society into a Western liberal democracy by force. As others have noted above, that was not our goal in Afghanistan. To the extent that it was attempted, it was ancillary to hunting al-Qaida and bashing the Taliban for sheltering al-Q.
The Taliban did not exist as an entity until after the Russians had exited, being formed in Pakistan by some segments of the mujahadeen, and eventually filling the power vacuum created by post-Russian warlord vs. warlord vs. warlord instability and violence, eventually exercising rule and control of most, but far from all, of Afghanistan.
Pakistan (more specifically, Pakistan’s ISI and to an extent financially, initially Saudi Arabia), not the U.S., bolstered and boosted the creation and existence of the Taliban. The U.S. had supported the mujahadeen, some of whom later went on to found the Taliban (others of whom fought against or resisted the control of the Taliban before and after that group assumed power), and the U.S. ostensibly maintained distanced agency (U.S. relations with India being a key, if unspoken, component of that distancing) with the Taliban when they came to power (as a supposed anti-Iranian bulwark, but never officially recognized them as a legitimate government); even those relations were greatly scaled back several years before 2001.
Given the leadership that actually invaded Afghanistan, I seriously doubt helping with those issues was on their mind at all. Helping hand away from ultra-rightwing religious fundamentalism? Seriously? Have you not looked at the US at all?
@NotMax: This cannot be true. Everything that happens in the world is the result of the US. All other countries and all non Americans do not act; they are merely acted upon. ;)
Tone in DC
That is a good line.
I hope Obama does get our troops (and most, if not all) out earlier than scheduled. This occupation was a cluster of epic proportions, IMHO. Almost as bad as Iraq.
let’s go. I have no problem with us leaving that hellhole
Another Halocene Human
@Skippy-san: We didn’t need “retribution” for 9/11. We did need to stop the people who were planning to do it again, but Bush was buddies with OBL’s family and made that as hard for law enforcement and the military as possible.
Getting “retribution” on the Afghan people is a cruel joke.
@James E. Powell:
But most Americans don’t care. As far as I can tell, even people who are fairly plugged in barely even notice that we’re even still in Afghanistan. It hardly makes the news, and any eyes that even follow international developments are mostly watching Egypt and maybe Syria.
Throw in an Iran and and Israel once in a while, and who has time for Bush’s ancient and complicated war way the fuck over where is that again?
I think Obama has the upper hand over McCrackers and Ms. Lindsey. If voters are paying attention at all, they want our boys and girls to stop dying for that ancient and forgotten war.
@PurpleGirl: Obama put the war ON the budget, so that when it ends, it comes OFF the budget as savings. Smart guy who plans WAY ahead.
The Taliban need to be brought into the political process. Without them this war will never end. Of course it should have happened a decade ago but we are where we are. The problem now is that with a timetable for withdrawal there is no incentive for the Taliban to come and talk. They can just sit and wait. Obama needs to display some leadership here and think about the long term.
Forum Transmitted Disease
@Skippy-san: Wow. That could have come straight from the head of the Bureau of Indian Affairs office.
Circa 1850 or so.
We offered those fucking Indians reservations and free blankets, and they told us to get bent. I just don’t understand them! Losers!
I don’t have much use for the white man’s burden, inscrutable oriental bullshit. It’s self serving and racist to the core.
About 99% of the societal and economic problems of Afghanistan stem from a forty year long war that was funded and abetted by foreign interests.
@Omnes Omnibus: “but please explain how an Afghan should see getting invaded as a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
Well, it is better than a twice in a lifetime opportunity.
@Omnes Omnibus: By those metrics alone we accomplished 99% of our objectives by 2005. Which means the remaining 9 years were a waste of lives and resources.
And no one says they have to be a liberal democracy. But there are improvements they can make-if they choose to. Other Islamic nations have done so with great success.
@Skippy-san: Oddly enough, people tend to not receive it well or be really appreciative when foreigners invade their country, disrupt their lives and give them the opportunity to quit their “wrong” traditional ways and do things the “right way”, just like us!
@gelfling545: This. Guerilla was a term created when Napoleon’s France invaded Spain in the early 1800’s. Spain was a mess run (badly) by the church, but they would have none of the progress that France was offering.
Jockey Full of Malbec
@Forum Transmitted Disease:
I more than once wondered if Bush thought he was fighting a 21st century version of the ‘Indian Wars”, on a global scale.
He sure used the rhetorical framing, often enough.
@cvstoner: @cvstoner: There was no such thing as the Taliban during the Russian war — and prior to that, the Afghans had never had anything like the Taliban. The Taliban came into existance in the post war vacum of the 90s, funded and mid-wifed by the ISI. The mantra you recited is just not accurate.
This. Christ on a pogo stick.
“Unworthy of the sacrifice” is what I used to read on Bill Whittle’s blog all the way back in 2003/2004, when the Iraqis – damn them! – failed to greet us as liberators and he and the entire right wing blogosphere started throwing tantrums about how it wasn’t fair and it just proved they were all savages.
Did any of these other Islamic nations achieve their progress thanks to the example provided by an American invasion? Afghanistan is a place deeply fucked up by centuries of tribal war. Afghans won’t make progress as a nation until they settle their fights and learn to live with each other. No one can do that for them.
America’s intervention has had no real effect on that, for either better or worse. They waited out the British and Russian invasions, and they went back to fighting their own fight; they’ll do the same with the Americans.
I question whether the 2001 invasion really achieved any of its goals re al-Qa’ida. Separating the Taliban from their ethnic support is a political aim not really achievable with a military presence, Once you go, they’ll creep right back in. And you let Osama get away from Afghanistan. before you got him in Pakistan,
Afghanistan is currently ungovernable, given that such a huge percentage of the country is ruled by insane heavily armed hillbillies drunk on religion and tribal feuds. Of course, you could say the same about South Carolina, Texas, and Tennessee.
@Cain: I have a suspicion there’s a long line of people who’d like to take Karzai out, not just the Taliban.
@Skippy-san: I think you’ve got a pair of rose-colored glasses on about the US action in Afghanistan. I’m surprised you can even see through them, honestly.
The Taliban didn’t exist until the 1990s. We supported the mujahidin, who were in practice a loose coalition of warlords from different parts of the country; because we were doing it through Pakistan and Saudi Arabia (don’t want direct U.S. involvement in killing Russians), most of that support was channeled by them to the most reactionary elements in the country, like Hekmatyar (who was still alive to give us shit when we invaded ten years later).
Massoud, who was the big man in the Northern Alliance, got most of his help from the French and British.
This. Kind of staggers me to read all this “oh yeah, we were totally helping them!” stuff on a blog that routinely (and rightly) denounces the waste and corruption that was involved in our occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan.
And I can more than understand why they wouldn’t want to be like America. Russia tried “being like America” in the 1990s, the whole shock therapy mess and all; it was such a fucking disaster that they ran right back into the arms of the KGB. Evidence that the Russians, too, are a bunch of ignorant bloodthirsty savages? Or evidence that Westernization/Americanization hasn’t been all that it’s cracked up to be lately?
Oh, and let’s not forget all those helpful suitcases of cash we gave away that pretty much everyone agreed made everything worse. USA! USA!
Personally, I think that there was a small window where the US could potentially have helped Afghanistan but, as with all things in the Bush foreign policy, we fucked it up worse than doing nothing would have.
It’s sort of like the way we had a window post-9/11 where we could have reconciled with Iran after they made their first official diplomatic overture since 1980 and instead decided to spit in their faces. The opportunity existed, but we blew it up through our incompetence and arrogance.
Rob in CT
Generally speaking, if you want to help people, you don’t do it with guns & bombs. Just a thought.
If we had taken 1/10 of the $$ spent on the war and gave it to NGOs working there, it would have done more good (perhaps no good, but then again, likely no harm).
Granted, that wasn’t the original point. The original op was/should have been a punitive expedition (vs. Taliban for aiding/abetting OBL)/man-hunt. Punitive: accomplished. In 2002. Man-hunt: failure. In 2002. The appropriate time to start pulling out: 2002 or 2003. But noooo-oh. Gotta “drain the swamp.” And here we are a decade later with bupkiss to show for it but a whole bunch of dead people & extra debt.
Obama does bear significant responsibility here. There was a big review of Afghanistan policy in his 1st term. He had a golden opportunity to come in, review the whole thing and say “you know what, this is pointless” and leave. This was of course politically risky (less so now). But maybe some political risk is worthwhile when thousands of lives are at stake.
Frankly, America got its ass kicked. That is the reality, even though the NYT talks about “frustrations”. My recollection is that the NYT wrote about “US Officials” being “frustrated” by the corruption there, even though by their OWN reporting the CIA was throwing cash at the Afghans. That is the way the NYT rolls – American officials have the world’s best interests at heart, for the NYT.
Now, the rest of the world clearly sees it as an ass-kicking. Yet, in the US, some would seem to pretend that it was all about women’s safety. Let me tell you something – if the US had crushed Taliban, and Afghanistan had a government that STILL sucked at protecting women, would these guys be talking about it? No, they would claim victory.
You lost – quit trying to blame it on “frustration” and “primitive culture”. You lost.
@Amir Khalid: American Invasion? No-except one could argue that Al Queda getting its ass kicked made a couple of the other nations in the region sit up and take notice. But that will get no sympathy here. And as Soonergrunt correctly points out-we did send a lot of bad guys to meet up with their 72 virgins.
I’d also point to the example of Malaysia where the British made damn sure the Communists were not going to get a free pass before they pulled out.
I look at this from the only position that matters to me-what benefits American interests? I’ve tried to be nice about it-but I really don’t care if the Afghan people end up killing each other in perpetuity. If that’s what they want, fine. If the locals can’t take advantage of a chance to improve their lot; not our problem. Leave a calling card, and tell them that if they attack us again, the next time we hit harder.
But don’t kid yourself-there was a window of opportunity where we could have done something constructive, if the Afghan people had shown any willingness to help themselves. Invading Iraq closed that window once and forever-and its something that George Bush should never ever be forgiven for. And don’t kid yourself the opportunity cost on the United States out all these adventures is HUGE and we will all be paying the bill for decades to come. Like it or not-the war in Afghanistan and the war in Iraq, represent “east of Suez” moments for the United States. The Neocon herd does not recognize it yet-but our star is waning.
@Skippy-san: I am sorry, your comments come across as completely psychopathic. You are correct in focussing on “America’s interest”, but your prejudice only makes you think about short term interest. The Point of view you are writing is completely not in America’s interests at all. I suspect you cannot see that.
@Skippy-san: so “good” Malaysia results are due to the British and “bad” Afghanistan results are due to the Afghans.
Lay down that white man’s burden, skippy. It’s gotten too heavy to carry.
@Emma: The British gave them a good a solid foundation on which to build. It had its ups and downs over the next 40 years, but its definitely a better place now.
I’m with Niall Ferguson on this one. Rule Britannia! :-)
@Ramiah Ariya: Well if so, I have a lot of company among my fellow citizens.
@Skippy-san: I’m sure you are. You probably believe Kipling was writing history. And how you justify India would be beyond me.
ISTR that the number of trained native professionals the British left in their wake was pitifully small. If so, your claim is false.
Let’s correct that first paragraph, shall we?
Sources for my “crazy” and “wild” and “insane” claims: “Reports Link Karzai’s Brother to Afghanistan Heroin Trade,” New York Times, 4 October 2008.
“Brother of Afghan Leader Said to Be Paid by C.I.A.” New York Times, 27 October, 2009.
Clearly the CIA is no longer interested in running drugs from Afghanistan and has decided to run drugs out of Mexico instead.
“CIA Torture Jet Wrecks with 4 Tons of Cocaine,” Daily Kos, 12 December 2007.
This strongly suggests that Mexico will be the next endless unwinnable war America gets involved in. As we all know, America is now the land of Forever War — as soon as we end one war, we must begin another. Mexico looks perfect: unwinnable, intractable, right on our doorstep so no big fuel bills for shipping troops and equipment haflway across the world, and it can be sold as “vital to American security” at the same time that our involvement in Mexico’s internal drug wars destabilizes the entire country and disintegrates it, sending a flood of illegal refugees across the border. Ideal for American businesses in the U.S. Southwest. A real win-win all around.
You’re ignorantly conflating different issues.
As other posters have pointed out, of course one should care. The point here, though, is that just because one cares doesn’t mean that one thinks a separate state can effectively intervene and “nation build.” Furthermore, just because one cares doesn’t mean a separate state is morally obligated to try to help. I’m not saying the last is a good thing; it sadly follows from the essence of states, plus the fact they’re geographically based. That doesn’t mean we should be emotionally indifferent to the plight of others in other lands, though.
Don’t feed the troll. Skippy is obviously having fun at your expense. Ignore him.
Something I remember from economics classes: tremendous changes to economies/society/etc., made slowly, can happen with much less disruption and social dislocation, and even be welcomed and evolutionary. Or the inverse as applied to the current topic: decades of war that has destroyed civil society and hardened tribal and ethnic identities is unlikely soil for the flowering of liberal democracy.
Look here at how the Afghans were “saved”.
Fix’d. Sorry, but the primary responsibility for fucking things up in Afghanistan lies with the US. We’ve been in charge for 11 years, and we have approximately jack squat to show for it.
You are surely not suggesting that we Malaysians had little agency in deciding the outcome of that particular fight. We got our independence in 1957; our military was still fighting Communist insurgents in the jungle until the early 1970s, because that’s how long it took to finally defeat the last remnants.
And we did have civilisation around here, you know, before the British came along in the late 18th century; for that matter, we had it before the Portuguese conquest of the Melaka sultanate in the 16th.
@Amir Khalid: Thanks Amir, I was hoping you’d speak up on this!
If you include people like Senator Di-Fi and the rest of the corporate Dems who feed on the same corpses.
@James E. Powell:
1) Obama will “speed-up” withdrawal of the troops; by
2) Replacing them with a corporate privatized mercenary army; at
3) Three times the cost to the American tax-payer; and
4) Lindsey Goober Graham and John the Mad Bomber McCain will _still_ point their fingers defining Barry as a “cut ‘n runner” who’s “soft on terruhjism”; besides
5) There will still be drones, mass civilian death, hatred, vengeance and blowback.
@liberal: See there is a point I simply cannot follow you. The conservatives do have a point-namely that Afghanistan had given sanctuary to the forces that attacked us. They were going to get invaded and the Taliban government that gave Bin Laden sanctuary had to be removed-and destroyed. This objectives were achieved in 2001 and 2002-but its also true that Rumsfeld did not follow the advice of his military commanders. In Afghanistan as in Iraq-he wanted to do it on the cheap. Afghanistan supposedly “proved” he was right. In reality we got very lucky in several ways. The “lesson learned” by Rumsfeld cost us dearly in Iraq. In that light, many of us owe General Shinseki an apology.
But the key issues was that once we were in, we were in. We broke it so now we owned it. And therefore we had a responsibility to ensure that whatever regime we left behind was functional and committed to keeping security. If we could help the country improve its quality of life, well that’s a plus because in general better off societies have less incentive to do stupid things. But that’s where the burden of blame has to fall on the Afghan people.
Now in my own opinion, Islam is an albatross around their necks. Its an apostate religion that stands in the way of progress-but even within those constraints there are places that do advance forward.
And in the early part of the decade we were making progress. Then we invaded Iraq, outsourced the war to NATO and the rest is history.
If that makes me not a liberal-its a burden I can bear. I’m not a liberal, but I do believe that the wars are wrecking the position of the US in the world.
And we have a winner for smartest comment of the thread.
Yes indeedy, the United Snakes of Amnesia has learned nothing and forgotten nothing about “Afghanistan, the graveyard of empires,” the nation that has crushed into dust every army sent against it for two thousand years, including the invincible legions of Alexander the Great and the world-conquering British Imperial Army in 1842 who catastrophic retreat from Kabul left exactly one (1) British soldier alive.
Failure, incompetence and gross folly are now the watchwords of America’s military, where inept fools like David Petraeus fail upward, rising meteorically in prestige and authority each time they fumble and stumble and bungle and bumble their way to defeat and ignominy.
See the classic article “Petraeus’ Lies and Failure Mount — Toward Ever-Greater Career Success” if you want to see how America’s armed forces work nowadays. (Or, to put it more accurately, how they don’t work.)
The conservatives are ignorant fools. The forces that attacked us on 9/11 planned their attack in Germany and carried out the training for the attack in Florida.
Afghanistan had nothing to do whatsoever with the planning or training for the 9/11 attack. But of course you’re too ignorant and too pig-headed to realize that, just as you’re too incompetent and too clueless to realize that Afghanistan is a black hole into which every imperial army sent against it for more than two thousand years has disappeared without a trace.
And thus a perfect spokesmodel for America’s massively dysfunctional military-security-intelligent community, whose motto seems to be “Why fail small when you can screw up the entire planet?” and whose emblem should be a gun shooting Uncle Sam in the foot.
I don’t dispute that in many ways Afghanistan was and still is a broken nation, but it has never been America’s to fix. You seem to overestimate America’s capacity to remake another country, given its status as an unwelcome conqueror and the consequent shortfall of local goodwill.
I rather wonder what you mean by this.
You’re actually quoting that ignorant fool Tom Friedman now? And on Iraq, but using Friedman’s idiotic comment to apply to Afghanistan?
Seriously, there’s stupid, and then there’s total decerebration.
Afghanistan has been broken for 2000 years. It’s not a country, it’s a collection of warlords running their little fiefdoms in mountainous terrain so rugged that the sun doesn’t even reach the bottoms of some of those Afghan valleys for six months of the year.
The so-called “president” of Afghanistan is nothing but the mayor of Kabul, and his word means nothing when you go twenty miles outside that city. Afghanistan is a crazy-quilt collection of Mad-Max-style princelings and bandit potentates who live off the global heroin trade. It’s a hellhole, one of the poorest places in the world, with an “economy” that would dry up and blow away if it weren’t for the only cash crop in the entire nation, the heroin poppy.
And calling Afghanistan a “nation” is a bad joke. It’s a place where there’s no law at all outside of a handful of warlords’ palaces. You can go into marketplaces in Afghanistan and buy automatic rifles hand-made by gunsmiths who have never heard of such weird formalities as “serial numbers” and “gun registration laws,” let alone drug laws or for that matter, pretty much any kind of law at all. Afghanistan is a place where people buy and sell women and handcrafted automatic weapons for bricks of raw heroin the same way people buy Red Baron frozen pizza and beer at the supermarket here in the states.
The notion that the failed state of bandits and warlords that’s been a lawless haven for assassins and thieves for more than two thousand years was somehow “broken” by America, and can somehow be “fixed” by the glorious genius of the Greatest Nation © the World Has Ever Known ™ ® is a delusion that would be laughable if it weren’t so sadistically cruel to the slaughtered Afghan peasants and the mutilated and dead U.S. troops who have to pay the price for your grotesque folly.
Pretty much. Afghanistan is about what you’d expect for a country that went through a decade of brutal communist occupation followed by a half decade of equally brutal mafia wars followed by a half decade of superlatively brutal theocracy followed by a decade of another foreign occupation.
As for their questionable human rights record? Within living memory, not mine but certainly my parents, Spain, Portugal and most of Latin America were fascist/theocratic hybrids with no successful experiments in democracy in their past. Within living memory, the Ku Klux Klan operated in large swaths of America with the same impunity that the Taliban now have in the border areas. If Afghanistan or the Muslim world are taking two or three generations more than our oh-so-civilized Western world to catch up to our current standards, I’m not going to write them off for it.
@Botsplainer: Not accurate. The Taliban arose in the 90s in response to the corruption of the warlords and power vacuum left with government’s collapse. The funding and training for the Taliban came from Pakistan and the ISI. The US did not create the Taliban.
@NotMax: @Brendon: I stand corrected with regards to the Taliban. I modify my original statement as follows:
The Russians came and went; the tribalism endured.
The US came and went; the tribalism will endure.
Nothing changes in Afghanistan.
The war is done. America lost (again). Time to slink away (again).