Afghanistan Clear as Mud

It has been over 24 hours since President Barack Obama made his speech announcing our strategy in Afghanistan going forward. Conservatives, as could be expected, used the speech as another opportunity to bash Obama. The speech was not perfect and the plan it described less so, but in the usual brain-dead fashion Conservatives seized upon the dumbest of talking points.

Karl Rove said the President took longer to give the generals 75% of what they asked for than it took Bush to defeat the Taliban back in 2001. Karl has clearly lost his mojo since we wouldn’t be talking about Afghanistan right now if Bush had defeated the Taliban in 2001.

Another criticism is that we have announced an exit date, giving our enemy the time period in which they can sit tight and wait to re-emerge. More foolishness. We are going to have an 18 month target to achieve our objectives and then depending on conditions on the ground, we will turn over responsibility to the Afghans.

When it comes to military exercises, I’m more or less a regular Joe. I have to distill all the complexities down to the basics. If the Conservatives had half a brain they would be making their complaints based on the basics.

Here are the basics:

1. We will teach the Afghan army and police how to kick Taliban ass.
2. We will nation build. Yes I know Obama calls it a “civilian strategy” but let’s be frank. If you are helping a government behave like a democracy in the image of America, you are nation building.
3. Stronger ties with Pakistan, vaguely stated.

My average Joe perspective on this is that the strategy is muddled at best. First, we cannot afford to go into every country where a corrupt central government is unable to protect its people from the local thugs. The Taliban may be a scourge but how are they a threat to the United States? They want to oppress fellow Afghans. Disturbing, shameful but really not our problem. Our problem is Al Qaeda which has all but disappeared from Afghanistan.

Second, nation building only works in a country that cries out for our brand of democracy. The notion that we will turn centuries of tribal tradition into a united people who respect a central government within 18 months is a wild stretch of the imagination. I have seen no reports of Afghan soldiers particularly wanting to be trained by us. In fact, the situation looks quite grim:

General Egon Ramms, a German commander in the NATO-led force in Afghanistan, warned last month that the current police force of around 68,000 is prone to corruption and training has been less than efficient.

Out of 94,000 Afghan soldiers trained so far, 10,000 have defected, he said, while estimating that 15 percent of the armed forces are drug addicts

via The Raw Story | Obama surge stands or falls with Afghan training.

Finally, the third leg in the stool is the wobbliest, the least well defined and yet to my mind the most important. Al Qaeda is in Pakistan. Pakistan has nukes. Pakistan seems more worried and paranoid about India than about the terrorist thugs within their own borders. The bold move and the most truly hawkish one would have been to issue an ultimatum to Zardari that either he cleans up the Al Qaeda mess in his country, including the capture of Osama Bin Laden, within a particular timeframe, or we will send troops into Pakistan and get the job done ourselves. Wonder what old Dick Cheney would have said about that?

As it stands now, we have to hope that the assumption that Afghanistan is a carbon copy of Iraq, just one surge away from stability is the correct one. It does not look like we will see the Afghan equivalent of the Sunni awakening to help us along. We have to hope that an illegally elected President with a drug kingpin for a brother will prove to be a reliable ally. We have to hope that Pakistan will act in good faith to combat the criminals in their own country.

To my average Joe mind, this seems like a lot of hope and not a lot of strategy.

Respectfully,
Rutherford

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21 thoughts on “Afghanistan Clear as Mud

  1. I’m beginning to wonder about this whole Afghanistan ordeal.

    Rutherford forgets that defeating the Taliban isn’t defined by killing everyone of them. I would comment that when Bush was President, for several years after the Taliban were kicked to the curb, it was not the norm to hear of body bags being flown home.

    Wonder if it occurred to Rutherford that perhaps the Taliban have made their comeback during Obama’s watch because they perceive this as the moment to make a comeback on account of a impotent American President, who doesn’t really believe what he says?

    Nonetheless, I tend to go against the grain of Conservatism concerning Afghanistan. Like Rutherford, I’m beginning to wonder why we are there. I still think Osama is dead even with what our military says, and at the very least, Osama so marginalized to be no factor. He is a coward at the very least – more likely, a corpse.

    We’ve proven while on Bush’s watch that we will finish what we started in Iraq. We simply don’t seem to have the stomach to so brutalize the enemy (think Japan) into submission in Afghanistan/Pakistan that it may be time to bring the troops home.

  2. Take this to the bank:

    We will lose the war in Afghanistan. Just as in Iraq, every serviceman or woman who has died there has died for no reason. Russia and merrie old England learned this lesson a long time ago. You would think….Never mind.

    Suffice to say, on my best day I do not receive one tenth of the information that President Obama receives. I don’t read any of the Presidential Daily Briefings that are placed on his desk every morning. Obviously he is in possession of a wealth of intelligence that you and I are just not privy to. Maybe we should be giving him the benefit of the doubt – and I have been doing just that, I promise you. But from my vantage point it appears to me that this president has failed to learn the lessons that have been passed onto us down the decades by the administrations of Franklin Delano Rossevelt and Lyndon Baines Johnson – lessons involving bold action in times of economic crisis (more on that another day) and the utter folly of waging wars that cannot be won.

    Let this be etched in stone:

    Any country that would view its women as inferior beings not entitled to basic human rights is not worth one drop of ANYBODY’S blood.

    I want to believe in this president. He is the chief executive I worked harder to elect than any other in my lifetime. I realize that it is simply far too early in this administration to write a final assessment of his term of office. That being said, my confidence in the Obama White House is ebbing rapidly. Where in the hell is all of this change I could believe in? Is the Bush Mob still in charge? What gives?

    NOTE TO THE RIGHT WING:

    No, I am still exceedingly grateful that John McCain and Gidget von Braun did not win the election last year. Have another sip.

    http://www.tomdegan.blogspot.com

    Tom Degan
    Goshen NY

  3. We simply don’t seem to have the stomach to so brutalize the enemy (think Japan) into submission in Afghanistan/Pakistan that it may be time to bring the troops home.

    How do you define “we”? I live a stone’s throw from two separate military bases, and I’m within driving distance of several more. I know these people. They’re my neighbors, my fellow church members, clients, and parents at Cub Scouts. They are hard-working, dedicated, skilled, and to a man (and woman) they say the same thing: “Let the dog off the leash. Let us do what we are trained to do. And like Vietnam, if there is a failure to achieve victory, it doesn’t fall on the men and women who fought, it falls on the administration that cuffed the most effective fighting force in the world.”

  4. The bold move and the most truly hawkish one would have been to issue an ultimatum to Zardari that either he cleans up the Al Qaeda mess in his country, including the capture of Osama Bin Laden, within a particular timeframe, or we will send troops into Pakistan and get the job done ourselves.

    Agreed, but since the fifty-two percenters decided to elect a narcistic, effete paragon of American Exceptionalism loathing arrogance, the bold course was guaranteed to be nothing more than mirage, much like the jobs “saved or created” by spendulous.

    Wonder what old Dick Cheney would have said about that?

    Well, seeing as “old Dick Cheney” is not a diplomat by any stretch of the imagination, and is prone to speak bluntly, I think “old Dick Cheney” really wouldn’t have a problem with it.

  5. How do you define “we”

    We being us – the American public and the feckless Congressional cowards calling the shots. Didn’t mean to insinuate the finest military force in the world would not and could not do it.

    What is our strategy in Afghanistan? What is the goal? Unlike Iraq, I don’t see it possible to remove a corrupt regime because the entire country appears corrupt and there appears no central ruling party – not much different than say Somalia minus the nice coastline. I’ve never been to Afghanistan, but from what I can gather, there doesn’t even appear to be much of a civilization.

    I could tell you what our initial goal was Vietnam. I thought I understood what our initial goal was in Afghanistan besides killing Bin Laden, and that was to remove the acting party that made it possible to set up the terrorist base camps.

  6. I think we need to make sure we keep the corrupt regime in power.

    Yes, I said it.

    Who gives a damn if they’re corrupt.

    The central government is friendly to us and are not Jihadists. Who do you envision running the show? Ralph Nader or Shirley Temple?

    What one event in history was the biggest shot in the arm for radical Islam? What really got the stink beards pumped up?

    I argue it was the Soviets hightailing it out of Afghanistan.

    Sure, Osama was pissed about our troops being so close to Muhammed-land in ’90. But, hell, a Western shadow close to their holy desert was nothing new.

    Nope, the stink beards believed it was Divine Providence that gave them the strength to beat the Commies, not our anti aircraft missiles on Uncle Sam’s dime. They took it all as a sign that the return of a world Caliphate was near.

    Mark my words, we limp out of Afghanistan and you will see a tsunami of Islamic radicalism.

    We can beat these goat herding savages if

    1. The American population has the resolve to let the military do what they freely signed up to do.

    2. Obama puts his pocket pussy away and also lets the military do what they are supposed to do, kill people until they break. (The savages do respect power). Air support, mortar rouds etc. You don’t bring a knife to a a gun fight.

    3. We stop giving a shit about this ridiculous, neo-con utopia of making these tribesmen buy into Classical Liberalism. Rutherford is right. You can’t make chicken salad out of chicken shit. Nation building a peppered, land mine infested, feudalistic stink pit is pointless.

    They are Pashtun scum who seem to really dig serving as host to medieval jihaidsts. Kill them until you break them.

    Read about Pashtun culture and come back and tell me how these people have any role in the modern world outside a few of their Western educated being our puppets. These people need to get their ass kicked so bad they never get ambitious again. After that they can go back to their blood feuds and goats.

  7. If we are to remain in Afghanistan then, I simply say this. Let’s pull out all the stops, use every weapon at our disposal short of nukes, brutalize people, and if still necessary plan on using a few nukes to blow that mountain range to a mole hill.

    We can drill down a couple of hundred yards and minimize the fall out. 😉

    And I still will not know what our goal is. Unlike Iraq, I don’t think these “stink beards” are civilized enough to do anything but kill each other, beat women and mount goats.

  8. Gentlemen, as far as I’m concerned the Afghanistan of TODAY is very similar to the Vietnam of the 60’s. The reason I stress the word “today” is that our initial mission in Afghanistan in 2001 made sense, or at least marginal sense. The truth is that the 9/11 assassins learned how to use their weapons (planes) right here in the good old USA. So we had to say to ourselves, “ok but from what country did they get their initial indoctrination … what was their base?” The answer was Afghanistan. So rightfully we bomb the crap out of Afghanistan and we push al Qaeda out, and we significantly damage the power of the Taliban.

    Then we do this half-cocked thing with Iraq and Afghanistan goes to hell in a hand-basket. I won’t dwell on that. My real point here is that Afghanistan in 2001 posed a threat. I don’t see the imminent threat they pose now. North Vietnam did not pose a threat to the United States. It was our “mission” back then to stop the spread of Communism. A dumb-ass idea since a failed system will fail if given enough time and sure enough it failed. But we stuck our nose in the business of the Vietnamese and we paid dearly for it.

    As I said earlier, I feel terrible that little girls are getting acid thrown in their face by these Taliban animals. But I know a lot of folks in this country (including me) who could use full-time work. We need our economy to bounce back. We don’t need to pour money down a pre-historic stink hole on the grounds that it might become home to al Qaeda again some day. If we don’t want al Qaeda back in Afghanistan, let’s kill them in Pakistan.

    Speaking of nukes … on my more crazy-ass radical days I’m greatly in favor of dropping a nuke or two on hopeless backward countries with more than 33% thug population. That would probably include lots more countries than just Afghanistan. But since we’re on the subject, think about this for a minute. Japan attacked Pearl Harbor and we literally fried their asses. Talk about ending an argument. One could argue, the minute those towers came crashing down, and the minute we figured out that Afghanistan was central to it, we shoulda dropped the big one right on there and ended the whole damn debate. (Probably would have scared the crap out of Saddam too so we wouldn’t have felt the need to invade his country.)

    You know how Bush looked into Putin’s eyes and fell in love? Well I had the opposite reaction when I watched Karzai and Zardari on Meet the Press a few months ago. I looked in their eyes and saw two guys who hate America. I don’t trust either of them to be good faith partners.

  9. kill people until they break

    Here is the problem Rabbit. Metrics. How do we know we’ve broken them? It’s a backward society so we can’t judge it by how they treat each other and quite frankly our problem right now, with al Qaeda basically out of Afghanistan, is how they treat each other. We’re judging Afghanistan by how the Taliban treats Afghans.

    So again, I ask how do we know we’ve killed enough people?

  10. Wonder if it occurred to Rutherford that perhaps the Taliban have made their comeback during Obama’s watch because they perceive this as the moment to make a comeback on account of a impotent American President, who doesn’t really believe what he says?

    Sorry Tex, not gonna let you get away with that one. Afghanistan was a festering sore before January 20, 2009. Bush took his eye off the ball pursuing his Iraq war. Rumsfeld can cry foul till his face turns blue, the common belief in the field was that Iraq was War #1 and Afghanistan ran a distant second. Worse than that, we had Osama and let him slip away.

    http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2009_11/021200.php

  11. Rutherford,

    And I’m not going to let you get away with lying. Afghanistan was almost a none issue on January 20th, 2009. The only cry from the left which continues to this day is Bin Laden hadn’t been captured. The debate in January was how far did we want to push into Pakistan. It has been under Obama’s watch that Afghanistan has slipped big time and you know it. October was the worst month for casualties in Afghanistan since the war begin, and that is not Bush’s fault – it is Obama that is now calling the shots and your time for excuses is up.

    But here is the biggest fib you keep spouting…

    Then we do this half-cocked thing with Iraq and Afghanistan goes to hell in a hand-basket.

    It was a full year and a half that we entered Iraq after we engaging Afghanistan. We entered Afghanistan in October of 2001 Rutherford. Iraq had little or no bearing on Afghanistan and more troops in 2003 in Afghanistan would have changed nothing. If mistakes were made in Afghanistan, and I assume they were since we initially let Osama and his band of lunatics escape due to our indecision, Iraq had little or nothing to do with that.

    I honestly think you and your band of Marxists are upset that we won in Iraq. It pisses you off that surge worked. I think you so hate George Bush, that now that Obama’s failures are starting to look much worse, it just kills you that the final surge in Iraq apparently stopped the war. This is why I truly believe your crowd could give a damn about America. You would rather see body bags at Dover than give Bush credit for anything.

    What is surprising is that you and I agree about the nukes right after 9/11 (and I was called crazy), and I agree with you about Karzai and Zardaril. I too saw those interviews and came away with the opinion of piss on the ungrateful bastards – let the wolves have them. Which is exactly why, though we come from totally different perspectives, I think we should leave Afghanistan with a promise to kill them all if there is another terrorist attack on American soil and they or the Taliban are involved. And a guaranteed promise we will be watching this time from up close.

    We have the technology to do so.

  12. No, I am still exceedingly grateful that John McCain and Gidget von Braun did not win the election last year. Have another sip.

    LOL Tom welcome to the blog. Could not agree with you more about John and Gidget. I also understand your concerns about the underwhelming performance of Obama from a left point of view. But I share your view that it is too early to declare him a failure. As I’ve said to the conservatives on this blog, I’m willing to give him another year. You can’t undo the Bush nightmare in one day.

    P.S. Your comment got caught in my SPAM queue for some reason. Sorry it took so long to approve it.

  13. I took a look at Tom’s blog. Typical WordPress leftist rank propaganda. I will give you this Rutherford. You are different from most of the left I find on WordPress. Here’s a beauty from Tom – however like you “R”, he has an incredible case of selective memory:

    John Boehner is as crooked as they come. Since the departure of Tom Delay he has become the corrupt politician’s corrupt politician. He is the new face of organized political sleaze. Someday we’ll all realize this.

    Oh really Tom? How about John Murtha airport or Charles Rangel the tax cheat who heads the Ways and Means committee that determines our tax code? How about the 15% of the “black” caucus now under investigation for corruption?

    And while you may have a point about John’s golf outings, any worse that $3,000 dollars for flowers in a quarter from personal Nancy P., or how about a charge of $30K for bottled water and pizza?

    No Tom, I think John has a lot of company for sleaze coming from that illustrious “progressive” party leading us to progressive bankruptcy…enjoy the next eleven months because you are getting ready to get a personal epiphany about how swell Americans think Obama.

  14. Charles Rangel the tax cheat who heads the Ways and Means committee that determines our tax code?

    Tex, you’ll be interested to know that your wet dream Ann Coulter thinks Rangel is much ado about nothing and calls the Dem’s racist (LOL) for going after him. You can find it in the HuffPo artilcle I linked to (that you may have pointed me to) where Ann calls Maxine Waters a beneficiary of affirmative action. 😉

  15. Following the One’s appearance on 60 Minutes last night, I think there is something that is being lost on this. Obama doesn’t see a contradiction, or at least confusion, in his announcement of additional 30,000 troops followed immediately by a timeline for withdrawal- July 2011.

    Most of us on the right have pointed out that this is a bad idea for a couple of reasons. For one, we’ve given the enemy an objective and a timeline. Secondly, it will undermine the Afghan government’s relations with the US. But most importantly, it isn’t really possible.

    The Iraq surge was announced in January 2007, but wasn’t at strength until June. It took six months to move 20,000 troops into a country with functional highways, a sea port and multiple airfields capable of handling C-17 aircraft.

    Afghanistan doesn’t have highways, it has a highway. It is land locked and doesn’t have nearly the aviation infrastructure that Iraq has. So, how are they going to move half again as many troops as were surged in Iraq with only a fraction of the necessary infrastructure?

    More importantly, where are they going to stay? What are they going to eat? I was in Iraq during the surge, I saw the logistical burdens that came with it, and we had multiple Forward Operating Bases that were capable of housing the units. These FOBs don’t exist in Afghanistan, or at least the infrastructure inherent in the Iraqi FOBs is not there, so are we truly deploying these units to operate in the field on field rations? In the Afghan mountains during the winter?

    Moving troops is one thing, but moving the gear is something else all together. Maintaining that force structure is labor and resource intensive. Afghanistan doesn’t have the logistical lines of communication necessary to meet the timeline being dictated by the administration. I would like to think that Obama was told this, so I’m left pondering why the 2011 comment, and what led him to make it. Only one thing really comes to mind, his need to please the anti-war left and so he arbitrarily announced this without fully realizing the implications.

    The administration is starting to walk back on this, to include his comments on 60 minutes stating the conditions on the ground will dictate his decisions. However, I believe that the Afghan surge will be aborted before it can be fully strengthened and implemented, which then begs the question, why bother?

    Because, taking 3 months to make a military decision on what he has called the ‘right war’ is just too long and it was hurting him in the polls- not the right way to make a decision that will impact the lives of soldiers in harms way.

  16. I missed this beauty last week:

    Tex, you’ll be interested to know that your wet dream Ann Coulter thinks Rangel is much ado about nothing and calls the Dem’s racist (LOL) for going after him.

    I hope you do recognize satire Rutherford…

  17. I have to chuckle at Gorilla’s last comment. Sounds to me G like you’ve made a very cogent argument for us to

    get the hell out of there.

    But even you have to concede had Obama taken 3 days to make his decision rather than 3 months, none of your facts would have changed and our “strategy” would be just as ridiculous.

    As I watched Obama defend the timeline last night, I saw someone doing the best he can to exert some control over a bad-faith-partner (i.e. Karzai). Do “conditions on the ground” make the July ’11 date absurd? Absolutely. He’s pulling at straws trying to make an unwinnable war winnable.

    And note something else Obama said and I paraphrase here: “There are factions in Afghanistan who would like nothing better than to be a permanent protectorate of the United States.” What say you about that G? As I’ve suggested in prior threads why don’t we stop the charade, kick out Karzai, declare Afghanistan a territory of the United States and install our own Governor?

  18. Sorry Tex, Coulter’s remarks were not meant to be satirical. This was not some rhetorical flourish she made in one of her articles. She said it in an interview and she was dead serious.

  19. Ten to One, she’d block rather than debate- she can’t do that here. Secondly, I don’t think there was an effort to gripe, hell, it was a passing comment that was followed by passing comments.

    Obama’s strategy isn’t “our” strategy. If he would have never mentioned July 2011, there’d be no issue. Once again, he has dug his own hole.

  20. G, I mistakenly placed my Sensico comment here …. I’ve moved it to the correct thread. But you have zero evidence that Sensico blocks or bans anyone. If I’m wrong, please correct me.

    If Obama hadn’t mentioned July 2011 he’d have a major revolt of more than half the Senate on his hands (practical political consideration) and an open ended commitment to Karzai. There is no good option here.

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