Afghanistan as Choice

2 Dec

Afghanistan has been at the center of larger geopolitical struggles essentially since before its creation as a distinct nation-state.  It has been essentially ungoverned and ungovernable since a coup in 1973 deposed King, and the political situation led to the Soviet invasion in 1979.  The United States gave aid and support to the mujaheddin fighting the Soviets, and al Qaeda arose directly out of that mujaheddin movement. When the Soviets left, they turned their ire to the United States; the great satan which supports Israel and its policies towards the Palestinians, and maintains bases in Saudi Arabia.

When the United States attacked the Taliban in 2001 in the wake of 9/11 for providing safe haven to al Qaeda, they were defeated within a matter of weeks, and al Qaeda’s leadership fled, mostly into Pakistan’s border areas. Qaeda leadership has, for the most part, been captured with some very high profile exceptions, and its operations have been decimated as compared with early 2001.

By all accounts, the defeat of the Taliban and cessation of Qaeda’s safe haven in Afghanistan represented a military victory, and the establishment of the Karzai government in 2004 represented a political victory.  Unfortunately, Karzai turned out to be too corrupt for his own good, and the Taliban returned and has helped to keep Afghanistan ungovernable, dangerous, and unstable over the past few years.

Brian writes that Obama’s middling way on Afghanistan is not leadership.  There is some validity to that argument, because foreign military decisions should not know domestic political considerations.  Obama has been too happy to find compromise where none was needed nor sought.  If it hasn’t become crystal clear to him yet that he could all but adopt every word and deed of Saint Ronald of Reagan, and his political opponents would continue to call him a socialist Kenyan sleeper agent usurper, then I don’t know what his problem is.  The efforts to find bipartisan support need to end.  Obama needs to be Obama, and he needs to start telling Republicans to get on board or get the hell out of his way.

He is right, however, that Afghanistan needs to get the message that our military support – and the blood of our servicepeople – is not limitless.  After all, let’s be clear, our quarrel is not with the Taliban, per se.  If we want to go after every oppressive, misogynist dictatorship or theocracy, then we’ll be quite busy indeed, forever.  Our fight is against al Qaeda, and any other entity that would do harm to the United States and its people, property, and interests at home and abroad.  Right now the only safe haven they arguably have is in Pakistan.  But we can’t invade Pakistan for a variety of reasons.

If we go into this with the understanding that we’re not going to turn Afghanistan into Switzerland, then we’ve turned a corner.  There’s no reason for American troops to spend another day in that medieval failed state.  I don’t blame Obama for doing what he thinks will help get us out without leaving a complete military disaster, but I think there’s no way for Afghanistan to not be a disaster.  Afghani peace, unity, and progress must come from the Afghani people, not from an occupying power. Politicians in Washington are loath to spend money to improve our own infrastructure.  How can we expect them to spend on Afghanistan’s?  And why should we?

America has spent far too much money and shed far too much blood in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past few years.  Iraq was a needless and pointless war of choice.  Its stated goal of halting Hussein’s WMD production turned out to be a hoax, and the removal of Saddam Hussein from power has done nothing to promote the neoconservative dream of stability and peace for the Middle East in general and Israel in particular.  The war in Afghanistan has morphed from a war of necessity into yet another war of choice, and the time has come to tackle with that fact.  There is no victory to be achieved there, beyond what we’ve already accomplished.

Our war of necessity is against al Qaeda and its progeny.  Let’s call it what it is, and redouble our efforts to destroy it.  Victory at this point?  Capture Osama bin Laden and parade him in shackles through the streets of New York.  Victory won’t be how many square feet of dust we control in Afghanistan or how many drones can rain hell over Waziri villages.  It won’t be which warlord is running which province.  It will be, at this point, largely symbolic.

And if the US manages to capture bin Laden under an Obama administration, I have no doubt that his detractors would find fundamental constitutional and Biblical fault with it.

53 Responses to “Afghanistan as Choice”

  1. Ward December 2, 2009 at 8:28 am #

    Shorter Obama: “I really don’t like this Commander in Chief job, but I’ll do it for a while if the photo ops are decent.”

    So far, he’s doing a nice job of depressing his base for 2010. Pundit’s guru Kos says that 81% of Republicans plan to vote next year, compared to 56% of Democrats.

    • Alan Bedenko December 2, 2009 at 8:59 am #

      Clearly Obama isn’t factoring in electoral turnout into his military decisions, because no one named Rove is on his staff. Also, I must have missed the Mission Accomplished banner last night, if we’re discussing photo ops.

      • Brian Castner December 2, 2009 at 9:28 am #

        I don’t know. The speculation on the teevee last night was that the June 2011 date was picked to head off a 2012 primary challenge from his Left. I think there was plenty of electoral considerations. Substitute Axelrod for Rove.

      • Alan Bedenko December 2, 2009 at 9:56 am #

        I wouldn’t be surprised if someone like Kucinich might primary Obama in 2012, but it’s unlikely. And Axelrod may be a political strategist, but he’s not an evil manipulator and agent provocateur.

      • Ward December 2, 2009 at 5:36 pm #

        Ouch — even The One’s lickspittle admirers at Der Spiegel have lost the lust.
        http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,664753,00.html

  2. Mike In WNY December 2, 2009 at 8:53 am #

    “Obama needs to be Obama.” I guess that is the partisan way to blame his failures on others.

    • Alan Bedenko December 2, 2009 at 9:01 am #

      Are you high or retarded? I blame it on Obama’s desire to please everybody. Seriously, go troll RT and leave your brain shit-pellets there. The open thread is for what I like to call “fucking nonsense”. K?

      • Mike In WNY December 2, 2009 at 11:09 am #

        Am I understanding correctly? The comment section is no longer the place to comment on the content of the post? I may be drinking some of Columbia’s finest, but I’m not smoking it.

      • Alan Bedenko December 2, 2009 at 11:19 am #

        It’s not that. It’s that you completely, fundamentally, and utterly missed the point I was making. I mean, you couldn’t have missed it more. Seriously.

    • Eric Saldanha December 2, 2009 at 9:31 am #

      As John Cole says:

      Why is Obama asking for 30,000 additional troops in Afghanistan to help secure the region? BECAUSE BUSH AND CHENEY DIDN’T

      Why is Obama having to finish what was started over eight years ago? BECAUSE BUSH AND CHENEY DIDN’T

      Why is Obama still chasing Osama bin Laden? BECAUSE BUSH AND CHENEY DIDN’T

      Why is Obama giving his commanders exactly what they wanted? BECAUSE BUSH AND CHENEY DIDN’T

      • Hank December 2, 2009 at 12:44 pm #

        Eric–no longer a Humanist, shows he’s got terminal Bush/Cheney Derangement Syndrome. Obama called Afghanistan a “WAR OF NECESSITY”. And he’s half stepping to please his centrists and fringe kooks in his party.

      • Alan Bedenko December 2, 2009 at 12:51 pm #

        Do you think Afghanistan is a war of necessity? Do you think Iraq was a war of necessity?

  3. Pete at BS December 2, 2009 at 12:23 pm #

    I am not sure if I pointed it out here before…If I repeat myself, I am sorry. John Beard tweeted it best. Afghanistan is a road game for us and the Afghannis NEVER lose at home.

  4. Ward December 2, 2009 at 12:27 pm #

    Imagine that Roosevelt, on June 7, 1944, had said that our boys were coming home on June 1, 1945. Would Germany have surrendered on May 8? Not in the face of that kind of shabby “leadership”.
    All the Taliban/al Quaeda have to do now is hold out past June 2011 and they’re home free. “Thanks be to Obama (may he live forever).”

    • Alan Bedenko December 2, 2009 at 12:49 pm #

      Ward, nice try.

      • Ward December 2, 2009 at 5:51 pm #

        Alan — Tell me that the Taliban have not just been treated to the distant trumpet sound of Retreat, 19 months in advance. Tell me that’s a good idea–except to mollify the Soros-Sheehan branch of Obama’s base.

        BTW — Alles Gute zum Geburtstag.

      • Eric Saldanha December 2, 2009 at 6:58 pm #

        Ward – The Taliban have enjoyed almost 8 years of “retreat” since the Bush-Cheney war cabal pulled our troops out of the hunt for OBL and put them in Iraq. Do you have an answer as to why we didn’t finish the job in Afghanistan or would you like to join every other Republican and pretend that last 8 years never happened?

      • Brian Castner December 2, 2009 at 7:38 pm #

        The number of troops in Afghanistan has grown continuously for the last eight years. Facts are stubborn things when you form your opinion first. http://www.cbsnews.com/blogs/2009/12/01/politics/politicalhotsheet/entry5855314.shtml

      • Eric Saldanha December 2, 2009 at 8:15 pm #

        Yes, Brian..facts are stubborn things, especially when they don’t support the rebuttal you’re making. “The number of troops in Afghanistan has grown continuously for the last eight years”?? According to the chart you linked to, the number of troops in Afghanistan stagnated around the 20,000 level from spring 2003 (gee, wonder what happened then) through the last 18 months of Bush’s 2nd term where he was shamed into deploying more troops and resources into Afghanistan. And look….the number of troops in Afghanistan doubled in Spring 2009…because Obama listened to his commanders and deployed them. Of course, the “steadily rising troop level” argument you’re making looks pretty ridiculous in light of the hundreds of thousands of troops the US sent to Iraq in each of those years.

        I wish Bush and Rumsfeld would have finished the job at Tora Bora, but then they wouldn’t have had their bogeyman to connect to Saddam Hussein and launch an illegal invasion of Iraq.

      • Brian Castner December 2, 2009 at 10:17 pm #

        1) The number of troops does go up every year. That it doesn’t go up as fast you’d like isn’t my problem. 2) What evidence can you provide that we would have provided more troops to Afghanistan if he hadn’t invaded Iraq. I know of none. We purposely kept the small footprint in Afghanistan because a) it didn’t work for the Soviets and b) we didn’t want to be seen as occupiers. Note that not only is Obama ignoring these arguments now, but also the second argument was used by liberals as proof of why we should leave Iraq. 3) Bush and Rumsfeld have nothing to do with Tora Bora. If you have read anything about Tora Bora, you know that Bin Laden escaped because we partnered with Pashtun tribes that let him escape out the back door to Pakistan. Because of that failure, we went in much heavier into Iraq, and decided to not trust local militias. That mistake cost us years of bloodshed until the Surge. Note that today our strategy in Afghanistan involves partnering with Pashtun tribes and not invading Pakistan itself. There is some quote about not remembering the past and the doom that follows. . .

    • Byron December 3, 2009 at 11:32 am #

      “Bush and Rumsfeld have [sic] nothing to do with Tora Bora.”

      As BP said to someone else, nice try. The SOC official history (try pages 94-102, esp. p. 99) begs to differ.

  5. Mike Walsh December 2, 2009 at 12:37 pm #

    “I don’t blame Obama for doing what he thinks will help get us out without leaving a complete military disaster, but I think there’s no way for Afghanistan to not be a disaster.”

    I do blame him. He hasn’t stood up to the corporatocracy at all. Combine this issue with the financial/banking situation and the ass kissing of the health insurance industry and a clear pattern emerges that essentially nothing has changed. The only thing different is the perception of a kinder/gentler administration.

    Some more food for thought: where does most of the world’s supply of heroin originate from?

  6. Hank December 2, 2009 at 12:43 pm #

    Obama should be asking for FORTY THOUSAND troops. Because that is what McCrystal —Barry’s hand picked General, asked for in MARCH. Barry spanks the monkey until last night, and decides to tell our nation—Shorter Odumbo

    “I’m going to give my hand picked General 75% of the troops he asked for, and he better use them quick, because I’m gonna start pulling them out in 18 months”. For the fuck-all that’s going to be worth, he might just as well declare defeat and start pulling them out today.

  7. mike hudson December 2, 2009 at 1:23 pm #

    the 18-month timetable he gave dovetails nicely with THE NEXT PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION!

    duh. we will endure the horror of war right up until he seeks a second term, campaigning on the proposition that he’s the only one who can get us out of that particular shithole.

    • Alan Bedenko December 2, 2009 at 2:32 pm #

      in what way, pray, will Mr. Hudson be “enduring the horror of war”?

  8. Mike Walsh December 2, 2009 at 2:02 pm #

    @Hudson:

    Sounds kind of Nixonian….

  9. mike hudson December 2, 2009 at 2:46 pm #

    by we, i meant americans, of course. personally, i have two nephews and a few friends from the airbase, along with my dentist, who have either been there or are going there.

    that all being beside the point, of course.

    the real question is what kind of a soulless monster would send brave american men and women off to slaughter in order to improve his chances in an upcoming election? george w. bush did it, and was rightly condemned by right thinking people everywhere. now that obama’s done the same thing, pundit applauds.

    blind partisanship and adherence to dogma are so fucking unattractive.

    • Alan Bedenko December 2, 2009 at 2:49 pm #

      Where, exactly did I “applaud”?

      The only way you could come to that conclusion is if (a) you’re illiterate; (b) you’re profoundly retarded; or (c) you didn’t bother to read the post in the first place. Which is it, Mike?

  10. mike hudson December 2, 2009 at 2:48 pm #

    should i have said “parses, rationalizes and applauds”?

    • Alan Bedenko December 2, 2009 at 2:51 pm #

      Oh, I see. You’re just being a dishonest fuckface. My mistake.

  11. Byron December 2, 2009 at 3:18 pm #

    “What kind of a soulless monster would send brave american men and women off to slaughter in order to improve his chances in an upcoming election?”

    He hopes to improve his chances at reelection by taking an action that significantly more people (especially Dems) oppose than support?

    Thanks for the brilliant analysis.

  12. mike hudson December 2, 2009 at 4:00 pm #

    dishonest like how, asshole? if the rule here is that writers cannot say “we” when referring to the american people, you ought to post that right up front because this would be the only publication, online or in print, that would have such a ridiculous policy.

    as for you, byron, the analysis was that — in 18 months — obama will tell you that he’s the only one who can get us out of afghanistan, the war he just significantly expanded, because the repugs have traditionally been wont to abandon causes for which american blood has been spilled. and you will vote for him. and alan will endorse him here. and a thousand or two more american gi’s will have died for nothing.

    • Alan Bedenko December 2, 2009 at 4:14 pm #

      I know the internet hurts your brain, Mike, so if you’ll look and see that comments are threaded now, you’ll notice that you’re dishonest when you write that I “applaud” the President’s decision to send more troops to Afghanistan when that’s clearly not what I did. I didn’t say you’re dishonest about using “we”. As I also said earlier,

      The only way you could come to that conclusion is if (a) you’re illiterate; (b) you’re profoundly retarded; or (c) you didn’t bother to read the post in the first place. Which is it, Mike?

      I’m leaning towards retardation. At least that way, it’s not your fault.

  13. mike hudson December 2, 2009 at 4:25 pm #

    perhaps, alan, a writing course or two might help you express yourself in such a way that the parsing, rationalization and applause might be better concealed. and anything other than a condemnation of last night’s bullshit speech is applause, dickless.

    • Alan Bedenko December 2, 2009 at 4:33 pm #

      Yeah, the world is black and white like that fucko.

  14. mike hudson December 2, 2009 at 4:41 pm #

    you talk just like my first wife. it’s uncanny.

    • Byron December 2, 2009 at 4:49 pm #

      You talk just like this homeless guy who wanders around downtown Buffalo wearing two hats and cursing. Totally uncanny.

    • Eric Saldanha December 2, 2009 at 5:19 pm #

      Dear Lord, that poor woman. We should devote a thread to the hell you must have put her through

  15. mike hudson December 2, 2009 at 5:49 pm #

    twitty rejoinder, alan. actually, i did her a disservice. she would never be a suck up or shill for anybody.

    and eric, i wrote a whole book about the hell i put her through.

    • Alan Bedenko December 2, 2009 at 6:05 pm #

      twitty rejoinder, alan. actually, i did her a disservice. she would never be a suck up or shill for anybody.

      I have no fucking clue what this might even remotely be referring to.

  16. mike hudson December 2, 2009 at 6:44 pm #

    i am referring to the fact that your shameless and loathsome shilling for obama in the afghan matter made the comparison with my dear departed first wife inapt. she had some balls. the twitty rejoinder remark refers to the fact that you are a twit. if anyone’s interested in a proper response to obama’s soulless speech last night, they should read michael moore, who also has balls.

    by attempting to change the debate, making it about me rather than obama’s murderous war policy might work with minds as small as your own, alan, but tell that to the parents, wives and children of the soldiers killed in afghanistan this year. one year of obama equals more than two years of bush in terms of casualties there.

    http://www.icasualties.org/

    • Alan Bedenko December 2, 2009 at 6:46 pm #

      I didn’t write so much as a single letter about your wife, past or present, you fucking brain stem.

    • Eric Saldanha December 2, 2009 at 6:55 pm #

      Mike – I realize it’s after 5 pm and you likely already in an alcholic haze, but Alan didn’t say a word about your late wife….I did. And all I expressed was sympathy for what that poor woman had to deal with. Like we’re seeing here….a cranky, bitter old booze-soaked troll who feels the need to boast in public what an asshole he was to his wife.

  17. mike December 2, 2009 at 7:19 pm #

    don’t you understand no matter what the president would of said last night, retards like hudson and hank would bitch. And hudson your dentist is full of shit, was he drafted?

  18. mike hudson December 2, 2009 at 8:24 pm #

    i was not referring to your idiocy, eric, but to the fact that i said swears swears like my first wife, who is dear and departed but hardly dead. nice try by both of you though to change the topic from obama’s decision to sacrifice even more american lives in afghanistan in order to improve his chances in the 2012 election.

    and my dentist is a captain in the army reserve who has deployed to both iraq and afghanistan, thus doing more for this country than a thousand cowardly weasels like “mike.”

  19. mike hudson December 2, 2009 at 8:25 pm #

    that should have been “alan swears, obviously.

    • Alan Bedenko December 2, 2009 at 8:38 pm #

      *hic*

  20. Mike Walsh December 2, 2009 at 9:39 pm #

    Back to Alan’s original post…..I don’t see him applauding Obama’s decision….Instead, he raised a lot of questions and made a legitimate point about the pursuit of Al-Qaeda as the only justification for military action….

  21. Eric P. December 2, 2009 at 10:39 pm #

    It seems pretty obvious to me that the war machine isn’t slowing down. Obama and the fuckheads in Congress will continue to approve massive spending on Iraq and Afghanistan – and really, to what end? Who benefits from endless war? Obama is a disappointment to me. Endless war is the best way fuck Iraq and fuck Afghanistan – and fuck ourselves. Look at Pentagon budget forecasts for 2010. It is fucked and so are we. Congress has already approved over 100 Billion for the Pentagon to piss away in Iraq and AFghanistan for next year, and that was based on an additional 21,000 troops, not 30,000 plus. Fuck.

  22. mike December 3, 2009 at 9:50 am #

    hudson, I known your dentist since he was a snot nosed kid, he got the “FREE RIDE” in college and Med school on the tax payers dime, so now he wines like a bitch because its time to pay it back, oh boo hoo. Maybe he should of just took out the loans like I had too.

  23. mike hudson December 7, 2009 at 8:38 pm #

    hey alan…fuck you. obama’s approval rating is now at a new low, 47 percent. this compares to the 49 percent reagan had and the 53 percent clinton had in the december of their first year in office, since, like obama, they were elected in the midst of economic downturns. obama sucks, even the great louise slaughter was critical of his ridiculous war policy.

    so now we understand your pov: bush + war = FAIL, obama + war = GIVE WAR A CHANCE!

    um, “mike,” two or three posts ago you said my dentist never went to any war, now you’re saying he did but fuck him? he’s not crying about anything. he likes the military. and he would kick your pansy ass if you weren’t so cowardly as to hide out under an assumed name.

    • Alan Bedenko December 7, 2009 at 8:41 pm #

      That’s your comeback? To change the subject?

      You’re a fucking infant.

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