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Who Really Thinks We’ll Win in Afghanistan?

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Posted on Sep 30, 2010

By Eugene Robinson

Could somebody please remind me just what it is that we’re achieving in Afghanistan? Don’t all speak at once. No, I mean what good things we’re accomplishing. Anybody? Hello?

The more we learn about the war—both from the battlefield and from the White House—the more depressing it all becomes. The portrait that emerges is of a failing military campaign whose course is being determined by momentum, not by logic. Everyone seems to appreciate this fact, but no one is willing to stop the madness. So on we go.

For me, the most striking revelation from über-journalist Bob Woodward’s new book, “Obama’s Wars,” is the extent to which the officials who are planning and prosecuting this war recognize how unlikely it is to end well.

Begin with President Barack Obama. He campaigned on the position that the United States should end the war in Iraq so that more attention and resources could be focused on Afghanistan, which he subsequently has called a “war of necessity.” Once in office, he quickly approved an urgent Pentagon request for 21,000 additional troops. But before making any further commitments, he sensibly ordered a comprehensive review of the war’s goals, strategy and prospects. Fine so far.

But then, according to Woodward’s account, the president looked at the two major options that were being presented, decided they wouldn’t work, and proceeded to devise a strategy of his own. The generals wanted 40,000 additional troops to pursue an all-out counterinsurgency program based on winning the good will and allegiance of the Afghan people. Skeptics, led by Vice President Joe Biden, argued for a “hybrid” option—essentially, a counterterrorism strategy of destroying the Taliban—that would require just 20,000 added troops.

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By that point, you will note, the issue had become how sharply to escalate the war—not whether to escalate at all.

Obama was deeply concerned about the costs, both human and financial, of an open-ended military commitment. Dissatisfied with the way the Pentagon was trying to manipulate the discussion, the president took it on himself to author a six-page “terms sheet” that Woodward describes as a “lawyerly compromise.” He capped the increase at 30,000, replacing the word counterinsurgency with the new mantra of “target, train and transfer,” and decreed that the troops sent in this limited surge would begin to come home in July 2011. All this was supposed to eliminate any “wiggle room.”

But the Pentagon wiggles better than the dancers at what is euphemistically called a “gentlemen’s club.” Almost immediately, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and the brass began telling anyone who would listen that next July is just a date to begin a withdrawal—perhaps of relatively few troops, and only if “conditions” allowed. Woodward quotes Gen. David Petraeus, Obama’s commander in Afghanistan, as saying privately, “You have to recognize also that I don’t think you win this war. ... This is the kind of fight we’re in for the rest of our lives and probably our kids’ lives.”

Can anyone explain how that differs from the open-ended commitment that Obama claims to have rejected? I thought not.

This jumble of contradictions might make sense if we were accomplishing something. But the government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai is as erratic and corrupt as ever, the Taliban remains robust and has expanded its sphere of operations, and even the most optimistic supporters of the war see whatever progress we have made as limited and fragile. Hawks criticize the president for setting his deadline—telling the enemy, in effect, to just wait us out—but if you assume that U.S. troops will ever leave, the specific date is irrelevant. It’s the enemy’s homeland, not ours.

But this war is only tangentially about Afghanistan. The real problem is nuclear-armed Pakistan, our supposed ally, which has played a double game—accepting billions of dollars from the United States to fight terrorism, while at the same time giving clandestine advice and support to the Taliban and tolerating the presence of al-Qaida’s senior leadership. Pakistan’s civilian government is weak, its military establishment calls the shots, and its national security focus is on India, not Afghanistan or the threat of international terrorism.

“We need to make clear to people that the cancer is in Pakistan,” Obama said during his war strategy review, according to Woodward’s book. But if the purpose of this war is really to influence events in Pakistan, we’re not doing a very good job.

One last question: Isn’t it time for another strategy review?

Eugene Robinson’s e-mail address is eugenerobinson(at)washpost.com.
   
© 2010, Washington Post Writers Group


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Go Right Young Man's avatar

By Go Right Young Man, October 2, 2010 at 9:32 am Link to this comment

copernicist,

I will add only one thing. 

In my opinion there is either no such thing as “Cherry Picking” or, every human being on the planet carefully chooses the information which fits into their narrative or understanding of the world. - Of course this assumes the individual is consciously attempting to be honest.

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By felicity, October 2, 2010 at 8:59 am Link to this comment

Paul GA - “No country has ever benefited from a
protracted war” reminds me of what General George
Marshall told Truman, and anyone else who would listen,
towards the end of WWII, “A democracy cannot survive a
War lasting more than 4 years.”

When a General, whose business is war after all, makes
a statement like Marshall made, maybe we should listen?

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By Gerald Sutliff, October 2, 2010 at 8:52 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Smarter investments in Afghanistan and at home would do much to reduce “tensions” at home and there.

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By copernicist, October 2, 2010 at 7:41 am Link to this comment

Go-right –
Your point is taken; we are not adversaries, but fallible holders of views sometimes expressed with a vigour that to others can sound offensive and preachy; for myself, a foible I confess to, freely.

But Do Please Note: not everyone you disagree with was one of those whom you say were beating drums on Truthdig sites for “The Right War”, whether in Afghanistan or anywhere else:  for myself, 6,5,4,3 years ago, I was happily unacquainted with the dubious joys of cyber-babble. Others can speak for themselves.

SO—I agree with your indictment of “what’s wrong” in Afghan society, for the present ills of which we bear – or should— a certain guilty conscience. But cherry-picking facts and/or “opinion” when it suits is not a helpful form of argument. Let’s “cut to the chase”, but not in search of our tail.  The crux of the problem, re which we disagree,  is the absolutely extraordinary [and naturally self-serving] neo-White-Man’s-Burden-ism very slightly masking its coincidence with a gaseously-expanding militarist American-Megabase-based imperium –  while, some would say,  our Rome is burning behind us.

Oh. But I forgot: Our mission is ordained by A Divinity of Our Choice [or lucrative facsimile]:  WE MUST BRING TO OTHERS the Light of Our (Very Flexibly Convenient) Notions of A Fit & Proper Country to Live In…for us, or some of us, maybe, not Them. Or me.  For as GB Shaw pointed out, not entirely in jest;  “Do not do unto others as you would have them do unto you: They might have different tastes.”
Or…Physician, Heal Thyself.

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Go Right Young Man's avatar

By Go Right Young Man, October 2, 2010 at 7:02 am Link to this comment

ITW, - “The war in Afghanistan was lost at the end of 2002, when Bush siphoned off the resources needed to win it to start the SECOND war in Iraq.  It’s as simple as that.”

-

Apparently it’s not that simple in the larger world outside the United States and your meager understanding of the globe.

You are not paying attention, ITW.  You’re allowing hate and political bigotry to blind your mind.  Unfortunately it’s as simple as that.

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Go Right Young Man's avatar

By Go Right Young Man, October 2, 2010 at 6:52 am Link to this comment

ITW - “The GOAL, which GRYM conveniently forgets, was to REMOVE FROM POWER and destroy those who had attacked us (Al Qaeda) and those who had been their willing launching pad (the Taliban). THAT WAS THE GOAL!”

-

PRECISELY as I had written in this very thread.

Is it convenient for you to see only what you wish to see in what I write?  Does that make things easier for you, ITW?

Sorry to be so blunt, however, as long as I have read your views here on TruthDig, paying attention has not been your strong suit.  Try not making everything personal.

-

Here is something you should place your attention on. - In late January, Osama bin Laden released an audiotape praising the Nigerian who tried to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas Day 2009. “The message delivered to you through the plane of the heroic warrior Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was a confirmation of the previous messages sent by the heroes of [September] 11th.”

- Apparently the goal in Afghanistan is not yet complete.

-

I sincerely wish you all the luck in the world at tamping down your hatred toward people who see the world differently.

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By Inherit The Wind, October 2, 2010 at 6:32 am Link to this comment

Until the attack of 9/11, NOBODY in the United States who had any sanity would have considered going into Afghanistan despite the terrible tyranny the Taliban imposed on the people.

The GOAL, which GRYM conveniently forgets, was to REMOVE FROM POWER and destroy those who had attacked us (Al Qaeda) and those who had been their willing launching pad (the Taliban). THAT WAS THE GOAL!

But two things happened:
1) The misguided and illegal war with Iraq that drained needed resources from Afghanistan.
2) “Mission Creep”—that insidious term that indicates you’ve changed your course mid-stream.

There’s something called throwing good money after bad.

When Bush undermined and undercut the effort in Afghanistan at the end of 2002 to prepare for attacking Iraq, he violated a FUNDAMENTAL principle of warfare: Timing is everything.  At that moment, the war in Afghanistan was lost and everything since then has pretty much been a waste of time and lives.

Worse.

In medicine, when you have an infection the doctors ALWAYS INSIST you finish all your anti-biotics, even if you feel better first.  Otherwise, by stopping pre-maturely, the infection can return, this time resistant to the med.  NOW you have to use far more extreme and painful measures to cure it when had you done it RIGHT the first time, you’d be done.

And so it is in Afghanistan.  The Taliban has come back, heavily inoculated against American, Afghan and Pakistani forces. THEY took the time to learn their enemy’s weaknesses and exploit them.

I sometimes think we should bring back the draft and collect every service-age hawk or their children, and every service-age tea-bagger and send THEM to Afghanistan!  But then they’d come home not as play soldiers toting their guns, but as real trained ones—and that would be even scarier.

The war in Afghanistan was lost at the end of 2002, when Bush siphoned off the resources needed to win it to start the SECOND war in Iraq.  It’s as simple as that.

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Go Right Young Man's avatar

By Go Right Young Man, October 2, 2010 at 6:18 am Link to this comment

Three years ago, four years ago, five years ago and 6 years ago one would have been hard pressed to find a commenter on TruthDig not demanding the U.S. leave Iraq and fight the “proper war” the “good war”, the “moral war” in Afghanistan.  Well, Afghanistan is not a tool for American domestic politics.

-

Afghans vote for parliament amid threats, attacks

Associated Press, Updated: September 18, 2010 14:31 IST

Kabul:  Men in traditional tunics and women covered in sky-blue burqas trickled into polling centers to vote in Afghanistan’s parliamentary election Saturday, as scattered attacks and the closure of some voting sites by insurgents underscored the difficulty of trying to hold a vote in a country at war.

Rockets struck major cities throughout the country—the first one slamming into the capital before dawn, followed in the next few hours by a series of rockets in eastern Ghazni, Gardez and Jalalabad cities, as well as in Kandahar and Nimroz in the south and old Baghlan in the north. The Baghlan rocket killed two civilians, police spokesman Kamen Khan said.

The Taliban had warned ahead of the vote that those who cast ballots and those working the polls would be attacked.

In Nangarhar’s troubled Surkh Rud district, the Taliban blocked two voting centers from opening until late morning. A resident, Kasim, said Taliban were patrolling the area to prevent residents from going to the local center or going elsewhere to vote. Kasim, like many Afghans, only used one name.

As midday approached, however, area residents said NATO and Afghan forces arrived, prompting the Taliban to flee and allowing the voting centers to open.

Despite the violence and threats, millions of Afghans were determined to cast their ballots.

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RayLan's avatar

By RayLan, October 2, 2010 at 6:12 am Link to this comment

The warmongers define winning as maintaining a military presence especially if the cost is high - for weapons and military vehicles -
the deaths don’t matter - there will always be a ready supply of young dupes who drink the establishment Kool Aid
was is profitable - winning defined as conquering the enemy is secondary - in this case it is a Dr. Strangelove masturbation fantasy.

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Go Right Young Man's avatar

By Go Right Young Man, October 2, 2010 at 5:41 am Link to this comment

copernicist,

I am not your adversary.  No need to make me into your adversary.  I simply have a difference of opinion.

I will keep repeating myself here because I feel that passionately strong on how very wrong you are.

Three years ago, four years ago, five years ago and 6 years ago one would have been hard pressed to find a commenter on TruthDig not demanding the U.S. leave Iraq and fight the “proper war” the “good war”, the “moral war” in Afghanistan.  Well, Afghanistan is not a tool for American domestic politics.

-

There is no need to feel offended simply because I whole-hardheartedly disagree with your view of the world.

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By copernicist, October 2, 2010 at 5:31 am Link to this comment

go-right-young-man— Please spare us your hypocrite tears for “The Afghan People”,  whose lives and land you so happily destroy-in-order-to-“SAVE”-them, etc ad nauseam.
That many American voters are dupes and dopes is not a good reason to follow dumbly behind them, but if you’re claiming the need to abide by their latest “opinion”, as measured by answers given to the reasonably-stated question “Do you favour or oppose the war in Afghanistan?”, try looking at
http://www.pollingreport.com/afghan.htm 
wherein you might note a clear majority consistently NOT BUYING the crock of untreated manure you and your ilk are selling.  If you want to do “the Afghans” a favour, Keep your hands to yourself,  pull up your pants and GO-HOME-young-man. Try fixing your own house first. It’s falling to pieces, in case you haven’t noticed.

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Go Right Young Man's avatar

By Go Right Young Man, October 2, 2010 at 5:16 am Link to this comment

basho,

The world owes the Afghan people a dept almost beyond repaying. $300 billion is a pittance compared what the Afghans have paid in blood for you.

Prior to 2002 no female child could gain an education without risk of being severely beaten.  In many cases raped and murdered.  How much is their lives worth?

Prior to 2002 NO FEMALE in Afghanistan could hold a job.  If a woman had no husband, Brother, or Uncle she was forced to rely on begging for food for her children.  We’re talking Tens of thousands of woman and well over a hundred thousand children.

Raise my taxes and I’ll still not have done enough.

-

If the United States, Britain, Germany, Australia, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and many others do not keep both an active eye and hand in Pakistan others will.  Better it be lead by the United States.  $300 Billion?  HELL YES!  And more!  Several dozen nations owe this debt to the Afghan people.

The United States is not what’s wrong with the world.  No offense, but, I’ll not hear that.

-

Three years ago one would have been hard pressed to find a commenter on TruthDig not demanding the U.S. leave Iraq and fight the “proper war” in Afghanistan.  Well, Afghanistan is not a tool for American domestic politics. I beg you think about that.

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Paul_GA's avatar

By Paul_GA, October 2, 2010 at 4:22 am Link to this comment

The war-mongering Elites in Mordor-on-the-Potomac think they’ve found a way to fight their imperial wars without arousing the public ire against those wars—by fighting them with a relatively small force of professionals, recruited solely by volunteerism (and often kept up to strength by “stop-loss”), backed up by a force of “contractors” (mercenaries, not to mince words), who often are not even Americans, and who are paid hefty salaries without making them dependent on the country’s system of military and post-military hospitals (in other words, if you’re wounded or come down with PTSD, that’s tough).

I believe that, slowly but surely, as the economy worsens and the burden of war continues to crush the country in ways no one foresaw when this stupidity began, more and more people are turning against the fantasies of Empire and ultimately will demand an end to it all. Something’s got to give, sooner or later; this can’t go on. I hope and pray I get to see the Elites proven wrong, and that we’re not in a multi-generational war that will drain this country like a parasite or a vampire. I believe strongly in the teaching of the ancient Chinese strategist, Sun Tzu, that “NO country has ever benefitted from a protracted war.”

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By redspades, October 2, 2010 at 3:49 am Link to this comment

we need OUT

of Afghanistan AND Iraq now.

RIGHT NOW

RIGHT NOW

RIGHT NOW

RIGHT NOW

RIGHT NOW

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basho's avatar

By basho, October 1, 2010 at 11:45 pm Link to this comment

dear go-right-young-man

approx. 300billion $$ spent in afghanistan so far
http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0933935.html

seems like a big price to pay for the 15 points you have listed.

imagine what that 300billion could have been used for in the u.s. with its crumbling infrastructure and its own crumbling society (e.g. detroit 2meg population now 900k. unemployment 50%)

the only responsibility the u.s. has in this world is - to start minding its own business. but then it may be too late for that. the game has changed. it’s no longer ‘the u.s. über alles’. you are becoming more isolated everyday. you can number your allies on one finger. it’s not obama, or bush, or whatever. these people are puppets. the faces of the military-industrial-financial monster. the beloved teabag party is funded, in part, by the Kohl empire. the rest of the world knows this. the next war on terrorism is going to take place in your own backyard (see aljazeera reportage- america’s private armies, for example). wake up mate before they come for your computer. smile

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Arabian Sinbad's avatar

By Arabian Sinbad, October 1, 2010 at 10:38 pm Link to this comment

Who Really Thinks We’ll Win in Afghanistan?

The answer is obviously simple! Those who really think we’ll win in Afghanistan are the proverbial warmongers and merchants of death. If those evil criminals don’t think about the spoils of wars that come during it and after winning, the world would experience perpetual peace.

Those who don’t believe in the concept of a real Devil who keeps begetting the armies of evil warmongers and their cheerleaders, need only see their own misled fellow citizens who are willing to go half way around the world to be the fuel of wars, brainwashed by the false slogans of patriotism and national security.

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Go Right Young Man's avatar

By Go Right Young Man, October 1, 2010 at 8:59 pm Link to this comment

Two consecutive presidential campaigns — John Kerry’s and then Obama’s — argued vociferously that Afghanistan was the good war, the right war, the war of necessity, the central front in the War on Terror. 

Over 80% of the American public supported deploying the military inside Afghanistan to capture and battle Al Qaeda types and remove the Taliban government from power.

Eugene Robinson used Afghanistan as a club to bludgeon President Bush for “taking our eyes off the ball” by going into Iraq in stead of Afghanistan.  Afghanistan, he wrote, was where the bad men were.

Afghanistan was the battle which almost every TruthDig poster repeatedly insisted is “The Good War”  The “Correct War”.  The Proper and “Moral War”.  Not Iraq.

-

History repeats itself

Afghanistan fell into chaos after the Soviet Union left and the world turned it’s collective back on the nation and her people.  This brought on the rise of the Taliban and the association with Zawahiri and bin Laden.

Today each of the above are essentially demanding the same monumental mistakes be made.  Today not one comment here speaks of any obligation to the Afghan people.  What was once The Good War, the Correct War, the righteous and moral War is either too hard, or evidence of CIA drug trafficking, or oil pipelines , the military industrial complex, or American hegemony or, or, or , or….....

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LocalHero's avatar

By LocalHero, October 1, 2010 at 7:46 pm Link to this comment

Opps! Rob-I-nson (typo)

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LocalHero's avatar

By LocalHero, October 1, 2010 at 7:45 pm Link to this comment

Well said basho!

The first comment on this page answered Robonson’s question.

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By copernicist, October 1, 2010 at 5:55 pm Link to this comment

felicity— good comments, as one has come to expect after your name

Some people learn as they get older: a state called being sadder but wiser. Thus supposedly, where there’s life there’s always Some hope…  that even recidivist dimwit delinquents will one day “grow up”, and stop Doing Dumb Things and/or Wrecking the Place. But the American Republic is no longer The New Kid on The Block, so the Neighbourhood is Getting Tired of cleaning up the broken glass left behind each time The Eagle Has Landed, and not on its feet.

Some years ago, while wandering on travels one then could do, my wife and I were semi-adopted in loco parentis by a couple of [comparative] youngsters exploring their world by bike. Being from a famously neutral European redoubt of boring normality we knew quite well, the couple seemed unlikely to harbour unexpected thoughts; but during a casual chat about prospects for continuing the [relatively] pacific state our newly-post-Cold War “civilized” world was then in, we were startled by a remark from one of our new young friends: “Oh, but of course,,,”, he said, “America needs an Enemy, and it won’t take long to find one”.
Not something heard very often, then; but we have learned – some of us—an unfortunate lot by now. And as we pile tragedy on tragedy and mound up the dead,  I reflect than at least my wife never lived to see us follow this well-trod path of Folly. After Folly. After Folly…

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By raykeith7, October 1, 2010 at 4:09 pm Link to this comment

America saw it’s ‘Greatest Days’ just prior to ‘Watergate-70’s’. Watergate forced Americans to begin questioning governments dealing’s & the initial steps to De-regulate banking policy’s began to develop & become law. Beginning with Regan, en-hanced w/Clinton, & Bush providing the completed formula to facilitate the collapse, already disparaged Americans lost more, patriot act resulted in loos of rights, work a little harder for less, & get a little more down-trodden w/o any genuine hope for ‘real change’ from the course this country is on.
Obama refusing solar cells on the peoples house when he ran on a platform of enacting stimulus for such ‘renewable energy’, is Watergate w/o the cover-up- just blatant ‘in front of our face lie’- were screwed folks.
If the affected country’s get wise that Wall Street was ‘in-part’ responsible for their country’s financial shortfall,(probably will/might), along w/the world currency collapse, they may come over here & do a forced yard sale-1 way or another.
We’ve pissed off most of the planet & alliances spin on a dime! America will have a global yard sale to appease those pissed & world creditors demanding payment. California & a few other states will go their own way(California is the worlds 8th largest economy, the hub of tech innovation, & an agriculture hub). Will Clinton & Bush receive just karma as Regan did.
Americas epitaph- a ‘once great nation’ spreading peace & democracy while maintaining a zero $ balance & internal strife & corruption w/in- forced to anti-up & auction their national treasures to compensate the world.
A division of states now ‘for the most part’- of no mention.
Wasn’t a bad run- 1776-2016 as far as democracy’s have lasted throughout history.

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By balkas, October 1, 2010 at 4:01 pm Link to this comment

It is for us to forever to guess or postulate [means demand this premise be taken
as true why US is in afgh’n and iraq and for the uncle to know.
And be assured that he knows [he: from thousands of people to 5mn] why he is in
afgh’n.
However, if one wld study history for its protreptic value, u can be ceratain that
US is there for the same reason it was in apache, kiowa, lakotahs, zuni lands.
Why people make such a mystory outta crystal clear history is beyond me.

No US did not go to afgh’n to kill or capture seven, seventy, seven k, or 7k
‘terrorists’.
U can’t kill them by tanks, artillery, missiles; that’s why nobody is doing that to
kill own people they don’ like.  tnx

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By Gerald Sutliff, October 1, 2010 at 2:35 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Well said, but I have a better question:  Does anyone think (believe, hope) that escalating our commitments in Afghanistan will lead to way out without getting our tail-feathers scorched?
Keep up the good work.

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By felicity, October 1, 2010 at 2:01 pm Link to this comment

raykeith7 - but you forgot Grenada - referred to by
military intelligence (an oxymoron) as “Operation
Urgent Fury.”  (Nobody could make this stuff up.)

We ‘won’ that war which most Americans refer to as the
“What the hell was that all about war.”  Strangelove
lives.

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By raykeith7, October 1, 2010 at 1:48 pm Link to this comment

America lost the Korean War, Vietnam War, & a few others i haven’t mentioned.
Nobody w/a brain expects victory over AlQueda but there are no options!
NEXT STOP- SOMALIA- hooray hooray, on to victory
Americas epitaph- a once great nation in quest of correcting the worlds woes, crumbled from internal strife & corruption!

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By felicity, October 1, 2010 at 1:05 pm Link to this comment

copernicist - I’ve read and reread the Tuchman book
through the years. It’s influence in how I ‘see’
world events and their players has been profound. 
Everyone should read it - especially world, or would-
be, world leaders. 

Dennis - your comment reminds me of what George
Washington said about the Revolutionary War: “The
British will win the battles, but we’ll win the War.”
(Of course Washington was a farmer, not a general,
and I doubt any ‘real’ general could ever even
entertain the notion of losing a battle.)

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By raykeith7, October 1, 2010 at 11:21 am Link to this comment

Hay there Eugene Robinson- what do you mean ‘what are we doing in Afaganistan’?
Were pissing away american lives,needed recovery money, & spinning our efforts in a country that has been warring since time & events have been recorded.
Go america-yea team obama & all u warring poo bears.

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By Kris Knight, October 1, 2010 at 10:58 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“THE CANCER IS IN PAKISTAN”??????

Are you serious?  Look in the collective mirror, folks.  Greed, power, theft,
betrayal, cruelty to living beings on all levels, devolutionary water and food
practices, steering the population by their noses through massive media control,
disloyalty all around us, etc.,, etc.

Where again did you say the cancer is??????

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By Siloam48, October 1, 2010 at 10:39 am Link to this comment

Threat to the Republic, as mention by FRTothus is so true.

We have continual foreign wars, bankrupt govt., lies fm politicians that no longer represent the People, bureaucrats crossing the land harassing the People (arrest of anti-war protesters).  Hey, sound familiar? American Revolution.

Well, do read a book out where Americans in a small town finally stand up to federal tyranny.  I liked it cause it’s about each of us defending our towns/families against tyranny.  I recommend it.
http://www.booksbyoliver.com

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By Hammond Eggs, October 1, 2010 at 10:39 am Link to this comment

“Could somebody please remind me just what it is that we’re achieving in Afghanistan?”

Hey, fool, your guy - Obama - the guy you said not too long ago was on a “winning streak” - is bringing freedom and democracy to the Afghans, destroying terrorism and guaranteeing the national security of the United States.  Don’t you believe the words of your own stooge?  Why, only this past January Obama said in his state of the union address, “America’s greatest days lie ahead.”

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By Lee Folks, October 1, 2010 at 10:16 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The purpose of the Afghan War is simply to guard and keep an oil pipeline flowing which transports oil from the Caspian Sea to the Persian Gulf.
It is also to provide a massive cash flow to private military contractors, who own 75% of Congress.
To them, American military personnel are expendible, as long as the cash keeps flowing from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

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By Dennis, October 1, 2010 at 10:15 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I believe it was the Duke of Wellington in the late 1800s called it in Afghanistan…..(i paraphrase) the real war in Afghanistan starts when the shooting stops.  The US cannot ever succeed here for the same reasons the British, the Russians and all the others did. The Afghans will kill each other for any reason, no reason and just for the hell of it.  But when an outside force or country enters the game all bets are off..they unite against a common foe and proceed to bedevil, kill and otherwise manipulate and lose his plans.  The Great Game as the Brits called it still goes on and we are losing it.  We say we want to put in democracy in this area…look at the political facts of life….the last even remotely successful government they had was when Afghanistan had a king and they threw him out of the country.  Any body who rises to lead the country (and i use that term advisedly) has been and still is at heart a tribal or clan warlord merely out to better his clan or tribe and the devil take the hindmost.  This collection of tribeal warlords and banditti cannot even grasp the fundamental concept of what a demos s all about let alone practice a democracy.  The US will NEVER succeed here and are merely doubling down a losing bet.  The definition of a fool is someone who does the same actions over and over and expects different results each time he does the action.  So far the US is making itself out to be a pack of fools.  Why dont we just get out lock stock and barrel?  The Afghan regard us as nothing more than rich infidels who are a treasure trove of wealth to be looted for their enrichment and that is all

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By copernicist, October 1, 2010 at 9:59 am Link to this comment

Robinson writes: “For me, the most striking revelation from über-journalist Bob Woodward’s new book, “Obama’s Wars,” is the extent to which the officials who are planning and prosecuting this war recognize how unlikely it is to end well.”

But entirely predictable, a phenomenon described a quarter-century ago of course, by Barbara Tuchman, whose definitive diagnosis of Folly-philia should be read & re-read by anyone from the Prez on down who has anything to do with ONCE AGAIN, “the pursuit by governments of policies contrary to their own interests”... especially a policy “perceived as counter-productive in its own time”...AND invariably by those most closely involved in executing their own “wooden-headed” policies.  Of course it doesn’t help IF up above and around them there exist job-protectors and promotion-pursuers and Order-givers just plain stubbornly stupid  
“No experience of the failure of his policy could shake his belief in its essential excellence”.  [said about Philip II of Spain,  as quoted by Tuchman].
The present supposedly Order-giver-in-Chief is NOT stupid; but is he -ow willing to be - IN CHIEF???

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By Paul_GA, October 1, 2010 at 9:46 am Link to this comment

@ FRTothus—

A defeat is not always a defeat in which the defeated side signs a surrender document. The USA was defeated because it was unable to impose its will upon North Vietnam; it left the war, exhausted and demoralized, and then watched from the sidelines as the North conquered (or “liberated”—take your pick) the South. True, the USA won virtually every pitched battle it ever fought in the ‘Nam, but that fact is irrelevant when one looks at a map of reunited Vietnam and sees what they call Saigon now.

@ Anarcissie—

Heaven alone knows what will follow the end of the American Empire, but I feel we’ll see a multi-polar world in which no one country could be called “world’s only superpower”, at least for a while. Having seen the American Empire wear itself out through imperial overstretch, I doubt any country will be willing to repeat such a history ... for some time to come, at any rate. But knowing human nature, some country or other will eventually succumb to the siren call of empire, regardless of the negative lessons of the past.

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By Samson, October 1, 2010 at 9:46 am Link to this comment

Who really thinks we can win in Afghanistan?

- Obama
- Reid
- Pelosi

- Most of the rest of the Democratic Congress that just voted to send billions more of our money over there.

- All the Democrats in Congress who supported Obama’s Bush-style surge in Afghanistan.

- All the defense contractors who pump money into the Democrats to get them to do the opposite from what a majority of Americans want ... which is to end these wars and to bring our troops and our money home.

If you don’t think we can win in Afghanistan, then DO NOT VOTE DEMOCRAT in NOV.  Send a message. End this madness.  DO NOT VOTE DEMOCRAT.

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By FRTothus, October 1, 2010 at 9:00 am Link to this comment

A standing army is a threat to the Republic.  A standing army that does corporate bidding is a threat to the world.

Considering that the US “defeat” in Vietnam (an outrageous lie in itself - in that the Vietnamese civilians did the majority of the suffering and death, and it was those in the South, our alleged allies, at that) brought riches to corporate America and medals and promotions to the empire’s foreign legions, and it is not difficult to see why the military and corporate “hammers” will ever see the defenseless world as prospective “nails”.

And while there will always be a hard-core group who will ignore inconvenient facts and will maintain until their dying day that the US lumbers around the world trying to do good, the US empire does not engage in war for the sake of human or civil rights, feminist causes, the promotion of democratic rule, or music and the arts.

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By Leefeller, October 1, 2010 at 8:35 am Link to this comment

Since Obama has not kept most of his other promissory ideas, why not drop Afghanistan like the others? Maybe it is the same reason for most of what is going on,...... let them eat cake!

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By Anarcissie, October 1, 2010 at 8:23 am Link to this comment

So maybe poor Afghanistan is the end of the road?  Whose going to take over running the world?  The Chinese don’t seem to want the job.

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By Rubaggio, October 1, 2010 at 7:18 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

What are our other options right now?  What do you think will happen if we abandon Afghanistan right now?  I think the Obama strategy of clear, hold, and transfer coupled with a solid development strategy is our best shot.  I have no idea if this will work, buts its the best chance we have.  And don’t forget the development strategy, which is really just starting to show results.  Although modest, they can’t be overlooked.  Any gains in a COIN environment are worth something.

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By Dennis, October 1, 2010 at 6:53 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I believe it was the Duke of Wellington in the late 18th century who said (i paraphrase here) The real war in Afghanistan starts when the shooting stops.  We are now embarked on the real war even tho the shooting is not over.  And so THE GREAT GAME goes on…....

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By Peter Everts, October 1, 2010 at 5:45 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Having participated in the debacle in Vietnam in 1968, I find the US involvement in Afghanistan/Iraq no less criminal.  This adventurism must stop and the US must begin closing its foreign military bases now.  This is a waste and an affront to the rest of the world.

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By Paul_GA, October 1, 2010 at 5:42 am Link to this comment

I note that Gates has claimed that this country will “not ever leave Afghanistan”:
http://news.antiwar.com/2010/09/30/gates-us-military-not-ever-leaving-afghanistan/

So that leads me to think that the Empire’s remaining in Afghanistan is mainly false, foolish pride—maybe Afghanistan was the graveyard of previous empires, so they say in Mordor-on-the-Potomac, but we’re the United States of America, and the colors of red, white and blue don’t run!

Also, though no one in Mordor will ever admit it, Vietnam was a genuine defeat, and they can’t stand the idea of presiding over a second defeat. To paraphrase Churchill, the patron saint of the Neocons, such a defeat would be “final and fatal” for the Empire.

So unless a miracle occurs, que sera, sera.

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By surfnow, October 1, 2010 at 5:19 am Link to this comment

Who Really Believes We Will Win In Afghanistan?
The brainwashed masses who get their news from the Korporate MSM. The same braindead who believe we ” won” something in Iraq. The same brainwashed who still believe Iraq had something to do with the attacks on 9-11.

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By tedmurphy41, October 1, 2010 at 4:51 am Link to this comment

You’ve moved parts of Afghanistan to places it never was before; OK, only by a few metres but you cannot expect miracles, especially with the antiquated weaponry that is being used, by America and her allies, at present.
You could always ask the Afghan people, at first hand, for their views, that is if you think their views are in any way important.

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By madisolation, October 1, 2010 at 4:47 am Link to this comment

“We need to make clear to people that the cancer is in Pakistan,” Obama said…
“No, wait! It’s in Yemen! No! Look over there! Somalia!”
Obama and the Generals must sure love those drone snuff films.

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By Gloria Picchetti, October 1, 2010 at 4:40 am Link to this comment

No one can make Afganistan a country that we consider civilized. Let us take care of ourselves for a change. We have two unprotected borders & two unprotected coasts. There are fires, floods, & out of repair infrastructure here. I am tired of paying for someone else’s there. We need jobs not more loss of lives & loss of money.

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By Go Right Young Man, October 1, 2010 at 4:28 am Link to this comment

“Could somebody please remind me just what it is that we’re achieving in Afghanistan? Don’t all speak at once. No, I mean what good things we’re accomplishing. Anybody? Hello?”

1. Females can now attend school without being severely beaten.
2. More females now work in Afghan government than any time in world history.
3. Children can play in the open without being stoned.
4. Music is no longer a crime.
5. Woman can now work and feed their families.
6. Woman can now own their business’.
7. All children can now learn math and science.  Not only the Quran.
8. Afghans have not yet been abandoned after fighting and dying for most of the Western world.
9. Dr. Zawahiri and Usama bin Laden have been kept in caves and unable to operate in the open.
10. Pressure is kept on the Taliban
11. pressure is kept on Pakistan
12. Pressure is kept on Iran
13. Al Qaeda is prevented a sense of “winning” and “vanquishing” its stated enemies.
14. As much as some dislike it the Afghan government was chosen by Afghans.
15. The United States keeps its word and lives up to its responsibility to the Afghan people.

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By Ashwin, October 1, 2010 at 2:47 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

reviewing strategy is not gonna make a difference. The
agenda’s are clear and its the people who are being
made fools of.

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By RayLan, October 1, 2010 at 2:32 am Link to this comment

We’re winning hearts and minds - doncha know- isn’t it obvious by our progress in steming the tide of insurgency and Taliban influence? Seriously though, geopolitically, Afghanistan is built for radical theocratic dictatorship- it is a primtive culture - barely out of the Middle Ages - and we have no hope of winning minds, let alone hearts - anyways we just can’t afford it.

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By bogi666, October 1, 2010 at 2:15 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Whom benefits, that’s easy. Graft, corruption and I’m referring to the American beneficiaries. $400 for a gallon of gas and this doesn’t even include the money for protection necessary to get it into AfPak, some of which goes to the Taliban. It a military contractors heaven, foreign banks, subcontractors all make an audit trail impossible. The Afghan’s must kick back some of their graft and corruption to American officials.

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By basho, October 1, 2010 at 12:41 am Link to this comment

“Could somebody please remind me just what it is that we’re achieving in Afghanistan? Don’t all speak at once. No, I mean what good things we’re accomplishing. Anybody? Hello?”

1. securing the poppy fields for the CIA
2. keeping the pentagon in business
3. keeping the military industrial complex alive and well
4. creating baby-killers
5. securing the mineral wealth for big biz
6. helping the pharma biz
7. making money for the banks
8. the ‘patriot acts’
9. bloating the fed govt.
10. fighting for christianity
11. preserving the american way of life.

all excellent reasons i would say.

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