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Get Out of Afghanistan

Posted on Jun 30, 2011
U.S. Air Force / Senior Airman Nathanael Callon

By Richard Reeves

For years, since I moved there to cover Watergate, I have wanted to write a column about how Washington really works—a checklist of sorts. But I never got around to it.

The closest I ever got was quoting the late San Francisco humor writer Arthur Hoppe. Writing from 3,000 miles away, he said, if I remember correctly: Washington is 67 square miles, about as high as the Washington monument, and surrounded on all sides by reality.

Last week, Joe Scarborough, former Florida congressman, talking head on MSNBC, and now guest columnist for, did a nice job in laying down a couple of rules that would make my list. "Age-old truths," he called them. The three that impressed me were:

"The first of these truths is that Washington always wins. Always. The federal government always gets bigger."

"The second time-tested truth of Washington is that policymakers skew the rules to ensure Wall Street always wins. ... Wall Street stands stronger than ever, three years after bringing America to the brink of financial collapse."


Square, Site wide
"The third ugly truth is that the city’s political gears are always greased for war. The most recent Republican administration showed an unnerving propensity for war, and the current Democratic White House has expanded troop levels, increased the Pentagon budget and made larger the percentage of the U.S. economy being spent on weapons systems and hot wars."

Scarborough, a Republican, aims some of his arrows at the press: "Against this chaotic backdrop of military adventurism run amok, there is no countervailing force to balance a reckless, shrewd foreign policy. ... And most troubling is that the same press that bowed and scraped to Obama in 2008 is now doing his bidding in support of his wars."

Obama, in fairness, inherited two of his wars, and he can say the Libyan war is not an American war, but a North Atlantic Treaty Organization war. Unfortunately, he is beginning to learn that there really is no such thing as NATO. Only the United States—a victim of being called the world’s only superpower—has the equipment and reserves of material to defeat even a little country run by a madman, like Libya.

So war is breaking out all over. And the president, like his predecessor, seems to be determined to intervene in them because angry people in squares far away chant "Democracy! Democracy!" What they really mean is "Freedom!" And we would love to help them, but there is only so much we can do. These are internal affairs—they have nothing to do with Thomas Jefferson or, for now, with you.

The "Arab Spring" and attendant events are a great thing. But it will take these countries 10 to 20 years of civil warfare before they catch up with the rhetoric of the day. But if they are to have freedom, they have to win it with their own hearts and minds—and bodies.

We can’t give it to them. It is not ours to give.

Take Afghanistan. We should get out as fast as we can. Here is an age-old truth of mine:

It does not matter when we leave Afghanistan!

Ten years. Five years. A year. Tomorrow. The same thing, a civil war, will happen with or without us. This is Afghanistan. Read a history book.

Scarborough raises the specter of a new brand of "Republican isolationism." Well, good for them. We need them, someone, to balance the military-industrial-media complex and its war drive.

Why are we fighting these wars? What’s in it for us? A world of peace and prosperity would be wonderful, but we can’t make it happen. I repeat myself: It doesn’t matter when we leave Afghanistan. The same things will happen the day after, whether that date is this summer or four winters from now. Get out!


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Hulk2008's avatar

By Hulk2008, July 2, 2011 at 3:26 pm Link to this comment

We wll get out of Afghanistan and Iraq…... and Japan and Okinowa and Germany and Korea for that matter….. when we run out of generals and arms manufacturers.

We stay because there is SO much money to be made and because the generals LOVE war in all forms.  What a playground for the war mongers - they absolutely adore the opportuinty to try out “toys” and make cash hand over fist.  It’s no different than ‘Nam except for the numbers.

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PatrickHenry's avatar

By PatrickHenry, July 2, 2011 at 7:15 am Link to this comment

We should be grateful that the Russians, Chinese or others are not sending the Afghani freedom fighters advanced anti aircraft weapons like we did in the 80’s.

That would be a real game changer.

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By V.J.Miller, July 2, 2011 at 3:19 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Field Marshal Viscount Montgomery is supposed to have
said that the First Law of Warfare is “Don’t march on
Moscow”. He might also have said that the Second Law of
Warfare is “Don’t march into Afghanistan”.

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By tedmurphy41, July 2, 2011 at 2:35 am Link to this comment

Oh, they will all get out of Afghanistan eventually, the question is when.
How much has it cost America financially and, putting aside the human cost of the tragedies that have occurred there in Afghanistan, ask yourselves this: ‘was it ever worth it’?

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THX 1133 is not in the movie...'s avatar

By THX 1133 is not in the movie..., July 1, 2011 at 10:54 pm Link to this comment

Arouete, July 1 at 1:47 pm
Without ignorance we could never maintain a government
of the 1% by the 1% and for the 1%.
Nice turn of phrase, so-to-speak…

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By Arouete, July 1, 2011 at 1:47 pm Link to this comment

“Read a history book…” Wonderful! I commend to everyone’s attention Christopher Hitchens on “Why Americans are not taught history.”

Short answer: so dunderheads like Sarah Palin and Ms. Bachmann may flourish and prosper off of ignorance. And, oh yes, there are a couple other reasons:

See “Untangling Barack Obama’s audacious mumbo jumbo” at

and see

“New York Marriage Equality Law Violates Federal Constitution” by Francoise Arouete at

and see

“Mr. President: Just say ‘No!’ to Gay Jim Crow” by Francoise Arouete at

Without ignorance the tyrannous majority might hear the words of the late Justice Robert H. Jackson who wrote,


Without ignorance we could never maintain a government of the 1% by the 1% and for the 1%.

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IcanDealwithHippiesbutThisGuy?'s avatar

By IcanDealwithHippiesbutThisGuy?, July 1, 2011 at 1:43 pm Link to this comment

THX 1133 is right, heck everyone is making some good
points. It’s increasingly difficult to even find
information on this “war”, and what does come up seems
like a whitewash 99.9% of the time. All I seemingly
find is commentary and statistics.
An open ended war breeds apathy towards massive
expenditures while most of the country doesn’t even
support this “cause”. The stated reason of
invasion/occupation has been “neutralized”, but now
we’ve set the stage.
I have hope for America - but we need to figure out
what exactly we’ve all been thrown into. And screw the
corporate sock puppets - they’ll get it in time.

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By TDoff, July 1, 2011 at 11:22 am Link to this comment

Remember when Colin What’s-His-Name told The Dummy, ‘If you break it, you own it’? He was talking about Iraq, but it should apply to Afghanistan, also.

So since it’s ours, I suggest we name it more descriptively. How ‘bout ‘Quaghanistan’?

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By SoTexGuy, July 1, 2011 at 10:00 am Link to this comment

Take Afghanistan.. Please! Ba Da Bump.. smile

Scarborough normally infuriates me.. not simply his vapid views and angry tirades.. also the pale milk-toast look of the guy! Has he ever actually experienced direct sunlight? .. same goes for his body politic! Despite all that.. the excerpts Reeves references resonate with my own politics.. Good for Joe! Though I suppose he’s simply still doing what he thinks will win the most attention..

About our Afghanistan occupation (do the world a small favor.. this isn’t a war.. refer to it as what it is.. an OCCUPATION) .. Did we all see how the one action by the ‘bad guys’ there attacking an upscale Hotel, drew so many strong and impassioned recriminations?! OH! the humanity!

The Taliban can’t be trusted! this is a sneak attack, dismissing our overtures on peace! Oh! My! Lions and Tigers and Bears..

Meanwhile at robo-death central and beyond.. did we, the USA, ‘stand down’? Absolutely frakking not, dudes! Dozens acknowledged killed in safe, remote controlled attacks.. and who knows how many more perforated, burned up, blasted in mundane ‘on the ground’ activity.

We are a bloodthirsty war society.


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DavidByron's avatar

By DavidByron, July 1, 2011 at 9:16 am Link to this comment

This statement is a lie.  Why do the readers of Truthdig accept being lied to so much?

“Obama, in fairness, inherited two of his wars, and he can say the Libyan war is not an American war, but a North Atlantic Treaty Organization war”

That’s not said “in fairness” at all.  It’s a propaganda statement intended to dismiss Obama’s status as a war criminal waging many wars at once.  In stead of “in fairness” I suggest saying “in my capacity as a right wing hack indentured to the powers that be I must now lie for them”.

How about this?  Quit lying.

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By TDoff, July 1, 2011 at 9:00 am Link to this comment

I believe most would agree that Afghanistan is a lost cause. And that the propensity of our ‘leaders’/corporate stooges is to continue to flail away at lost causes indefinitely.

So the tea leaves would seem to indicate that if the US and the earth were to continue to exist in 3011, the ruling body would still be pondering ‘When should we attempt to escape from Afghanistan?’.

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THX 1133 is not in the movie...'s avatar

By THX 1133 is not in the movie..., July 1, 2011 at 3:24 am Link to this comment

I have no idea regarding the future of Afghanistan
except this: We-will-never-leave-period!
Too much/many mineral resources/pipeline routes to
strategic areas of our interest in South Asia and Asia
in general.
Anyone who thinks we’ll just walk away from that is
fooling themselves…

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