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Hey Obama: Afghanistan is lost too - blame Bush, not Europeans

by Jerome a Paris Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 09:46:41 AM EST

My worst fears about Obama's foreign policy ideas are confirmed by his recent declarations on Afghanistan:


Obama Calls for Help from NATO Allies in Afghanistan

So far Obama hasn't said much about America's posture toward Europe, but the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination set a new tone on his campaign plane by telling reporters there had to be more give and take between Washington and its NATO allies.

"I've been very clear that we do need more support from them," he said, referring to NATO countries with troops in Afghanistan. "We also may need to lift some of the constraints that they have placed on their forces there."

Sounds like the usual "give and take": Europe gives and the US takes. How about actually thinking about the underlying policies, and put an end to the pointless - and now irredeemably lost - war in Afghanistan?


As a first note, don't take this as a Obama hit piece in the primary wars - Clinton is even worse on that topic, as the article makes clear:


These loud-and-clear statements follow a debate with his rival Hillary Clinton last Tuesday, when Clinton charged him with foot-dragging on Afghanistan as chairman of a Senate subcommittee on Europe. "He's held not one substantive hearing to do oversight, to figure out what we can do to actually have a stronger presence with NATO in Afghanistan," Clinton said at the debate.

Given that she's criticizing him for not being hawkish enough on Afghanistan, and given the current policies of the Bush administration, let it be clear that I am criticizing the most moderate of the candidates on the topic.

That said, and this is a criticism of political discourse in the US in general, the fact that the most dovish candidate still feels the need to brush up his credentials as a tough, military-wielding macho via the usual attacks on wimpy Europe should give you all pause.

So let's say it out loud:

The war in Afghanistan, or, more precisely, the occupation of Afghanistan, is lost.

Again.

The War in Afghanistan is lost

And it's the second war/occupation messed up by George W. Bush. The first president to lose two wars.

That should be the core message, and the lesson should be that warmongering, militarism and brute force do not work. Full stop.

The current fighting in Afghanistan (like that in Iraq) has only one purpose right now: push back into the future the moment of acknowledgement that America lost. Europeans are right to try not to participate in that charade, and not to sacrifice people (both theirs and Afghanis) to salvage a president's ego and the USA's belief in its own goodness.

President Bush went into reckless wars, lost them, and now America has to deal with that history (yes, just like the French have to deal with Algeria or collaboration during WWII). The way to deal with them is NOT to pretend that this past can be changed.

Because the result will be obvious: The next Democratic president will be blamed for defeat (when finally imposed by events), rather than Bush.

So the games around Afghanistan and NATO are just a pointless exercise in bullying the wimpy Europeans to delay the inevitable reckoning. And I have no doubt that the bullying will work to some extent, given that our leaders are either actual wimps, or actually desperate to serve as vassals to any US president. Sarkozy will sent more soldiers to Afghanistan this year, and we'll have a new Franco-American honeymoon on shared military tough-guy posturing, but the fact that such periods of officially good relations seem to happen only when France is blindly following the lead from Washington, and not when it criticizes insane policies, is quite noticeable...

Sarkozy can do that because there is no way for voters to stop him, given that he controls a compliant parliament for the next 4 years. The Germans are a different case: the authorisation to have the soldiers in Afghanistan must be renewed every year in parliament, and with elections looming, the deep impopularity of the pointless fighting killing and dying over there must be addressed head on, so the traditionally Atlanticist elites cannot do what they want.

The fact is - it's not just Bush that's impopular across the world (amongst populations - again, elites are a different crowd): it's a country willing to use military force so casually and so frequently all over the globe. A new president will be given the benefit of the doubt, but if s/he continues the same warmongering policies, the same causes will have the same effect, with another president.

And, frankly, I'm not sure even Obama sees that:


Still, Obama couched his challenge to Europe in a promise to do more listening. He addressed a sore point in trans-Atlantic relations by saying that an Obama presidency would pay attention to its European allies.
"It is also important for us to send a signal that we're going to be listening to them when it comes to policies that they find objectionable," he said, "Iraq being at the top of the list."

This shows a deep misunderstanding of what the "list" is. Iraq is not on that list. It was a catastrophic decision, but it's no longer a problem for anyone but America - and Iraqis. The US can remain bogged down over there for years, nobody else is really involved. The damage (to international law, to Western pretensions to talk about democracy and human rights, to Middle Eastern stability) is done and is pretty much irreversible now. We all live with it, whether US soldiers stay there or not.

No, real issues today are  climate change, runaway financial capitalism, Kosovo or Afghanistan. I have no idea what will happen on the first two, and am keeping an open mind on that, given that Obama's and Clinton's discourse on these topics have moved in the right direction. But on Afghanistan, Kosovo, and NATO's role therein, we're seeing more of the same: posturing, delusions of finding military solutions to political problems (and by "military", one should sadly understand "excessive bombing and shooting on sight"), and an overwhelming desire to see Europe fall in line behind jingoistic US policies.

Well, it's not going to work better than under Bush. The only difference is that, this time, the Democratic president will be blamed.

:: ::

Further recent reading on NATO, Afghanistan and Kosovo:

US vs Europe in 2009 by Jerome a Paris
Are Europeans Hiding in the Bush, or is Transatlantic Panacea to Come? by Kyle Atwell
An International Study Group for Afghanistan by Joerg in Berlin
Kosovo Independence and Press Freedom in Russia by Kyle Atwell
Europe's Kosovo mistakes by euamerican
Just another day in Belgrade by Magnifico
Modernising the British Army radically by The3rdColumn
Dr Kissinger Calls by afew
Our enemies have watches, but we have time by Helen
Kosovo declares independence by jandsm
The Afghanistan Problem by afew
Has America Betrayed the NATO Alliance? by Vigilante
In defence of NATO in Afghanistan by The3rdColumn
Afghanistan as Pretext for NATO Change: 2003 and Now by RadiumSoda
Condi Rice and Robert Gates contradict each other on Afghanistan by The3rdColumn
Afghanistan's killing fields by The3rdColumn

(I particularly recommend The Afghanistan Problem as a good summary)

Display:
http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2008/3/1/9349/38102/345/466468
Thanks for your support over there! (Might be needed)

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sat Mar 1st, 2008 at 09:06:29 AM EST
How do you define defeat in this war?

If anything than turning Afghanistan into a perfect little peaceful progressive democracy counts as defeat, then the war was lost before it began.

If the goal was kicking Taleban and al-Qaida ass, it seems to be going pretty well. The more of them we kill the happier I will be, and the better a place the world will be.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Sat Mar 1st, 2008 at 07:45:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If the goal was kicking Taleban and al-Qaida ass, it seems to be going pretty well.

No. It's not going pretty well even in this limited sense and it cannot go well until there is a stable, competent and somewhat legitimate government functioning everywhere in Afghanistan. Plus there is the issue of Pakistan northwest frontier that also requires a stable, competent and somewhat legitimate government functioning over there.

The more of them we kill the happier I will be, and the better a place the world will be.

May be satisfying at a primal level but perfectly useless and counterproductive if doing that spawns more of them and they keep coming back.

Anyway, there cannot be any type of success in the region until Saudi Arabia is dealt with one way or the other.

by Francois in Paris on Sat Mar 1st, 2008 at 08:32:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Getting stable competent and legitimate governments there is imposiible, especially if the wes tries to do it. Everything we touch lose any kind of legitimacy. Making sure al-Qaida can not use Afghanistan as a base is the best victory we can get.

Then maybe maybe an Afghan state, or several ones, will eventually reform. But the more we meddle with their domestic affairs, the smaller is the chance that will happen.

Keeping al-Qaida and the Taliban down is the best we can hope for.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 03:22:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Starvid:
But the more we meddle with their domestic affairs, the smaller is the chance that will happen.

Starvid:

Keeping al-Qaida and the Taliban down is the best we can hope for.

Aren't these two statements contradictory?

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 03:38:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Not really. Keeping al-Qaida distracted is a bigger priority.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 03:51:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Distracted? now that's an interesting usage.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 04:07:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, Bush and his tame monkeys don't seem to want to annihilate them, so I guess this is the second best.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 05:42:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Can you explain, what you think would Bush do, if he wanted to annihilate them? Nuclear carpet bombing?

Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers
by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 06:36:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Focus all effort on Afghanistan instead of having everything bogged down in Iraq.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Mon Mar 3rd, 2008 at 09:26:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
All in all that's a rather pathetic war aim isn't it.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 07:19:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The more of them we kill the happier I will be, and the better a place the world will be.

Why? What did the Taleban ever do to you? (Please don't say '911', as they had nothing to do with it and even offered to hand over the suspects upon the production of evidence against them.)

The world is full of people who are just as vile as the Taleban, who are in fact even worse. I don't see you calling for their heads on a plate. And it really isn't up to you, is it. Plenty of people in Afghanistan actually prefer the Taleban to the available options.

The US has done much greater harm to peoples across the world than the Taleban has ever managed. Shall I admit to my desire to cheer every time a US soldier gets blown to pieces, and not meet a chorus of boos and revulsion here on ET?

But I suppose it's OK to exterminate the Taleban, they must be just raghead vermin or something, and the ultimate evil, by definition. Otherwise it just wouldn't make sense.

by wing26 on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 10:18:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Uh.. Nothing to do with 9/11? Te Taliban refused to hand over al-Qaida. They harbored them. They deserve everything they get. They are the enemy, and on top of that they are absolute assholes. I don't shed any tears when Prince Harry calls in airstrikes on them.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 03:21:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Seeing as under Bush's orders, more civilians were killed by the air force alone than civilians were killed in the US on 9/11 in the original campaign, should we  also demand the handing over of the Republican Party to face Justice? Under US law the Congress and senate are harboring them should we  find not shed any tears if a member of a foreign government was to support military strikes on the white house?

What makes my answer and yours different?

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 03:32:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Why only the Republican party, why not all voters for Bush in 2004. And it is not facing justice, but bombing them without individually bringing them to justice.

Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers
by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 03:47:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, that was sad, sure. But it was about revenge. Hopefully countries harboring terrorists got the message.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 03:51:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And what do you answer, when Osama says, 9/11 is revenge for the US occupation of Saudi Arabia?

Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers
by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 03:53:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Or the 1991 gulf war. Or the support for Mubarak in Egypt (one of the high ranking AlQuaida guys was an Egypt)

Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers
by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 03:55:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Geee...

Too bad the Americans are our friends and Osama is not. But I actually prefer it that way around.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 03:56:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't. I would prefer to be neutral.

Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers
by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 03:58:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
With neutral I don't necessarily mean a passive bystander as the Swiss model, but in the ideal case actively working that on both sides violance isn't accapted as a tool of politics and compromises with which at least the moderate can live are worked out to drain with time the support of fundamentalistic opinions away.

Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers
by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 04:07:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So if your friend nearly drunkenly gets into a fight one night, you should automatically join him, rather than get him out of there till he's sober and has thought it through?

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 04:02:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Starvid:
Well, that was sad, sure. But it was about revenge.

So you're arguing that it would similarly be legitimate for the Afghani populace to inflict casualties inside America, after all it's about revenge.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 03:54:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sure.

Or really, the queation does not make sense. This is international relations so the concept "legitimate" does not exist, except as a propaganda tool. Which is why having the UN on your side is a good thing.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 04:00:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I take it you've never read any documentation on the theory of "Just War", because that is all peppered with questions of Legitimacy of war in International relations. In fact it's only in International relations that legitimacy questions really make any sense at all.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 04:06:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm familiar with it and with "international law" in general. I've not found not a single ounce of realpolitik in it. Beyond the propaganda value.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 05:41:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Because realpolitik always works, and is the measure of everything!

(...)

Aside of being morally questionable, your thinking is also rather inaccurate. People have a sense of justice. If wars are fought without legitimacy that has consequences for how people react. Like, say, the infractions against their sense of justice might lead them to become insurgents and start blowing stuff up.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 06:02:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Much as I would have wanted to refrain from commenting on the NATO-Afghanistan issue because I feel that most diarists here are terribly hostile to NATO's intervention in Afghanistan, something which I have defended, I couldn't help but be compelled to comment after nanne mentionned "If wars are fought without legitimacy"

On the question of LEGITIMACY:

But what about the UN mandate? Doesn't a UN mandate count for anything? Doesn't it confer legitimacy, say on the intervention by member nations of NATO in Afghanistan? Let us not forget that it was the govt in Kabul that sought that intervention.

When the US invaded Afghanistan to get back at the Taleban, Al-Qaeda and at every possible old and young Afghan leader, to me quite frankly, their act was not justifiable -- it was not a reason for invasion. I personally was opposed to the outright destruction of Afghanistan being perpetuated cowboy-like by America without so much as a thought for the civilians, children who would get caught in the crossfire. If NATO, which unfortunately counts the United States as one of its major members, fails in Afghanistan (and it may fail), in my opinion it will largely be on account of the conduct of the Afghanistan war that was waged from the time the United States invaded Afghanistan armed with the wrong purpose and deploying the wrong tactics, i.e., purely punitive measures, bomb and awe, destruction and revenge, etc.

However, once the Afghan govt obtained a UN mandate for the UN to intervene and NATO was appointed to execute that mission on behalf of the United Nations, that to me was conferring legitimacy on the said NATO intervention in Afghanistan, America notwithstading.

If, on the other hand, we cannot and don't want to accept that the particular UN mandate was legitimate in itself, then of course, that gives a totally different legitimacy color to the NATO member nations' intervention in Afghanistan. Sadly, this is where I differ with my highly-esteemed fellow 'diarists' -- either we accept a UN mandate as legitimate or not but we cannot accuse NATO of intervening in Afghanistan illegally. In that, we either support the United Nations or not. The UN is, in my humble opinion, one of the avenues we can take towards clarifying, or at the very least, towards helping sort out a political and sometimes moral dilemma that most nations and peoples face when the lives of millions of human beings are at stake.

If we believe we that our govts shouldn't or cannot trust the UN or should only support it halfway when the said intl body decides to confer a mission on an agency or another institution, on another nation or nations, groups of peoples, then I suppose we should be prepared to face more debacles in the future. At the moment, it is realistically the only international body that we can rightly call upon in the most legitimate manner to help nations resolve some of the most difficult political and security conflicts they face.

I accept that there is a strong chance that NATO might fail in Afghanistan and there is a plethora of reasons, beginning with lack of meaningful public support because of costs, moral dilemma, political ideologies, personal beliefs, and more, etc., etc., etc. Unfortunately, the United States has been on the ground much ahead of EU-NATO member nations, doing what they've always known best (harsh punitive measures, bomb and awe, destruction and revenge) so, if we all truly believe EU member nations are incapable of providing the necessary balance to slow down America's ardour for war and counterbalance the United States' supremacist doctrine, if we all believe these EU nations in NATO are not up to the task of reversing the tide of horror in Afghanistan, then I must agree with all of you, these EU member nations should pull out of Afghanistan illico and perhaps, Europeans should demand that their govts disband or withdraw NATO altogether immediately afterwards. (I believe in following up what a man, or woman for that matter, strongly believes with determined actions.)

Meanwhile, I think it is fair to ask those who are deeply concerned for Afghanistan to call on, nay, demand of the United Nations via their governments to apply international pressure on the government of Pres Hamid Karzai in Kabul and to require the Afghan govt to do more than what they are doing today in order to help alleviate very worried and concerned Europeans of their moral (and financial) burden and so that the European NGOs and military personnel stationed in Afghanistan can come back home soon!

by The3rdColumn on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 09:17:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
have you actually read Starvid's comments?

For him it is OK, when NATO does not help Afghanis, but just kills the Taleban and he clearly justifies the invasion, not just the nation building part. Of course the NATO mission has other goals than those which Starvid stated.

And to you comment, I think one can be in a way critical to the UN without blasting it. Maybe an intervention can be argued as legal, if it has UN support, but that doesn't mean, that we can't think it is wrong, and we don't have to support it, just because it is legal. I haven't seen too much people here demanding all the govs and MPs which have voted in their respective countries for the NATO mission to go to jail.

Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers

by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Mon Mar 3rd, 2008 at 10:02:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hi Martin, Thanks (for the "well said" even with the "but")...

Sorry, been busy in other threads and elsewhere -- haven't really checked this thread, part of the reason is it's become too long and tires my eyes scanning the posts.

Yes, I've just read some of his comments. I'd say his view on killing all the Taleban and never mind the rest was a bit extreme. To adopt that sort of strategy would be no more no less adopting the American way of doing things which was something I believe the majority here rejected outright -- me included and to think that my view on the matter may already be considered far too "rightish" for the sensitivities of most here (although I may be wrong.)

To set the record straight, it is my belief that every single decision, or at least the major ones to which the general public have direct access, made by any institution in the name of the citizens of a republic, a union or a federation of states, international or regional, national or local should be scrutinised and if warranted, criticised -- and this goes very much so for the UN. However, just to remind you, the tenor of my earlier post does pertain to the notion of not criticising the UN but rather to the legitimacy of the NATO intervention in Afghanistan.

by The3rdColumn on Tue Mar 4th, 2008 at 08:52:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ooops... does NOT pertain to the notion of not criticising the UN but to the legitimacy of the NATO intervention in Afghanistan.
by The3rdColumn on Tue Mar 4th, 2008 at 08:56:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Now revenge is justification for war?  War is justified to ´send a message´?  Your points in this thread are very violent and unjustified.

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.
by metavision on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 04:01:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Since when has it become okay to kill people simply because they behave like assholes or complicit in war crimes (for whatever reason). With this logic, you could almost say that 9/11 was okay, too. Don't you see that?

"If you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles." Sun Tzu
by Turambar (sersguenda at hotmail com) on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 03:33:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Uh... What do you think we should have been done with al-Qaida and the Taliban, if not kill them?

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 03:53:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Taleban? none of our business. It's the internal politics of a nation state, Where do we get the right to chose another countries government.

 Al Quaeda? We could always have shown the evidence we had to the Taleban, and allowed a trial in a neutral country. After all if we're sop convinced we're right it wouldn't have hurt.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 03:59:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Trial in a neutral country?

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 04:02:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
well I suppose that bush "wasn't too concerned about him"  so A trial would just be an expense.  Why not a trial?

or is it just that you think there's nowhere sufficiently neutral?

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 04:11:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't even know from what side I should attack this. I mean it's so...

Like law matters an ounce in international relations! Like anyone would trust the verdict! Like al-Qaida wouldn't fight to the death against anyone who tried to arrest them! Like you could turn over evidence without compromising vast amounts of intelligence! Like the Americans would put their indepence in the hands of some international organization, whithout any kind of that precious legitimacy!

Et cetera ad infinitum.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 05:40:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
when it mattered. So around 1900.

Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers
by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 06:32:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If a state wishes to act against an individual, or organisation of Individuals, then they have an Obligation to prove their alegations. Otherwise, if a state isn't willing  to prove its case, then It's Murder Plain and simple. Last time I checked Al-Quaida wasn't a country so appealing to International relations dosn't cut it as a reason. as for American Independence, how does this remove American Independence, and why should US law extend to other countries without them being willing to show a proper range of evidence to obtain extradition?

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 07:38:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Here. Here it is:

Like law matters an ounce in international relations!

The core of the matter. Might makes right.

On this basis, terrorism, genocide and anything the fuck else you like is legal.

Insanity consists of doing the same thing over and over and over and expecting different results.

Vicious idiots and arrogant fools.

t! Like al-Qaida wouldn't fight to the death against anyone who tried to arrest them!

So they die. At least "we" would have  tried to do it right. Instead "we" decided to play their game, legitimising their rules, legitimising them as a worthy opponent of the "West".

Like you could turn over evidence without compromising vast amounts of intelligence!

What's it for if you can't use it?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Mar 3rd, 2008 at 08:31:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Actually, yes. Or a sufficiently neutral US court, if such a thing still exists.

"If you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles." Sun Tzu
by Turambar (sersguenda at hotmail com) on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 04:17:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"What do you think we should have been done with al-Qaida and the Taliban, if not kill them?"

Step one might be to stop doing all the stuff that enables them to recruit new members. Like feeding the House of Saud jillions of dollars so they can run a reactionary government and harbor a huge population of unemployable young men. Like not arming and funding the Taliban in the first place as part of a previous crackpot plan to kick the Russians out of Afghanistan. Like not subsidizing western agriculture to the point where the third world farmers have to sell drugs to us to make any money. Like not invading a country because the ruler "tried to kill my daddy" despite the pleas of practically every other country.

With the current strategy, we're creating enemy soldiers faster than we can kill them.

by asdf on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 05:04:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
We should of course do all those things too.

But in top of that, after 9/11 some people needed killing.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 05:40:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe now that we've had this awesome healing experience of having killed quite a few people, we can start thinking about what exactly we are doing that is serving which interests of ours - in, you know, the good old-fashioned 'rational policy' frame.
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 05:53:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I would have prefered rational policy from the beginning, but Mr. Monkey made sure that wasn't going to happen. The world would have been a very different place if the President had been Clinton, Gore, Bush I or McCain.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 05:59:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]


Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers
by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 06:31:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Needed killing?

so whenever there was an IRA attack in the UK, it needed the RAF to drop a large bomb somewhere near the houses of supporters of NORAID?

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 07:31:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"But in top of that, after 9/11 some people needed killing."

This is a pretty interesting comment. First off, the whole revenge thing is not exactly, you know, whatever. Secondly, if you want to kill people in revenge, you could choose between the perps, or their families, or maybe the (Saudi) government that provided their inspiration. But the U.S. decided to go after Iraq, which had nothing to do with 9/11.

Thirdly, there is a question of appropriate levels of response. In 9/11 there were about 3000 American fatalities, some of them more awful than others, and all televised (repeatedly). In Iraq so far we have killed over 3000 American soldiers, and wounded about 10,000 (and "wounded" in modern language essentially means "killed" because the minor sort of flesh wounds that used to pump up the casualty figures are mostly avoided because of the widespread use of body armor, the current wounded have no arms, legs, or faces), and we don't count mental wounds or long-term health problems among the casualties. So the true American total casualty figures are certainly over 20,000 people. And then we have killed somewhere between 100,000 and 1,000,000 Iraqis, depending on whose numbers you want to use. So the current response ratio to 9/11 is around, say, using 600,000:3000, about 200:1.

Is that enough revenge killing yet?

by asdf on Mon Mar 3rd, 2008 at 08:24:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You know as well as I do it's not.

Migeru:

"The war is wrong"

"3,000 Americans died on 9/11"

At that time, the body count in Iraq was reported to be 30,000.

"10 times more people have already died in Iraq. Is that not enough for you?"

"Whatever it takes to make America safe"



We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Mar 3rd, 2008 at 08:29:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]


Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Mon Mar 3rd, 2008 at 08:52:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Realistically speaking? Since the Nuremberg trials. Don't get me wrong. I'm not advocating for the death penalty; just stating the obvious.
by The3rdColumn on Tue Mar 4th, 2008 at 01:15:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
'The Taleban' didn't refuse to hand over 'Al-Quaida'. It seems that you assume
  • Afghanistan under the Taleban was some kind of a normal state, in which some leaders have the full legitimicy from all supporters over the country in all their decisions
  • that requireing evidence for a charge is something obscene (you probably have on ET that the Taleban required evidence and a neutral international court)
  • that you and you alone decide how far back in the chain of causes people are held responisble (why not e.g. Jimmy Carter who has helped Osama to become so mighty holding responsible)
  • that a major war can be justified by a criminal action of a few, who have no legitimicy from the country (so what about the start of WW I)
  • that the war would have any positive effect with regard that they would change their hundreds of years old tradition of hospitality
  • that you can make a war that precise that only the Taleban, but not the non-Taleb population is hit


Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers
by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 03:42:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Are you trolling here or just being a vicious idiot? I can't work it out.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 11:03:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Are you serious?

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 03:16:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You're clearly having a neocon moment there.

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 06:03:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Absolutely serious. Being happy about the death of other humans is the act of  a vicious idiot as far as I'm concerned.

I won't mourn the Taliban, any more than I'll mourn the troops that die in this mindlessly stupid "war", but I'm not happy when they die. I'm not even convinced they were notably unpleasant in the general scheme of things.

The whole thing is a tragic fuck-up as far as I'm concerned, caused precisely by the sort of world view that can write "The more of them we kill the happier I will be, and the better a place the world will be".

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Mar 3rd, 2008 at 08:02:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Even Stratfor started a rearguard PR action by claiming that Afghanistan is not a war that could be won; it's simply a holding action to deny Al Qaeda a sanctuary in which to prepare for more action. Taliban never mattered. Looks like "sour grapes"-like argument to me.

Al Qaeda, Afghanistan and the Good War
The U.S. war in Afghanistan often is seen as a "good war" even by those who oppose the U.S. involvement in Iraq. The Afghan war is in trouble, however. Whether that matters depends upon the status of al Qaeda.
by Sargon on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 08:21:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Jerome,

Thanks a lot. Perfect illustration of how deep up their collective arse US political elites are, no matter which side of the spectrum they stand.

I kind of agree/disagree with the notion that the Afghanistan occupation is lost.

It will be if the US don't put real resources there and, for a start, stop behaving like complete morons (something they really need to do on many, many issues; they can't afford being morons any longer). But overwhelming force always win when there is a good cause to sustain it. The US neocon psychos are partially right when they try to practice revisionism for instance about the Vietnam War. The US would have won is they had gone all out. Where they demonstrate they are dangerous psychos is that they forget that there was no remotely good reason to fight in Vietnam in the first place. I think Afghanistan is different in this respect. There is a good reason to fight over there and if it's not done now, it will come back even worse.

Anyway, if Obama's approach to the issue is to dump on Europe, then, yes, it's lost. The US had their chance with Europe. NATO voted article 5 on September 12 2001 and confirmed the vote on October 4. The US walked away. Their decision. Their problem to deal with.

If Obama wants to revisit the issue, he will have three things to do: 1) apologize on all fours and forehead in the ground for the US shunning NATO and accept full responsibility for the mess, 2) restore the basic credibility of the US by holding the previous team accountable and show the allies that a Bush administration will never happen again and 3) commit serious resources to Afghanistan (not point talking if it's anything under 300,000 US combat troops) and to deal with the Saudis.

None of that is going to happen.

by Francois in Paris on Sat Mar 1st, 2008 at 08:57:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
None of it will happen, and yet Europe will go along anyway. Why? Because it's too easy to blame the US rather than hold the Euro Elite's feet to the fire?
by Upstate NY on Sat Mar 1st, 2008 at 09:10:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
None of that will happen, but no, I don't think Europe will go along.

Rather, Europe will watch from the sidelines, a fairly uninvolved and uninterested bystander.

Angela Merkel is already doing that with a lot of talent. Gordon has a lot of problems on his hands and Sarkozy will have to follow.

Looking at the polls, not just Sarkozy's but in comparison Fillon's, the population has already told him (with very good reasons) that it really doesn't like him to have ideas. The French voted for "Sarkozy the Doer, knees deep in the muck", not "Sarkozy the Grand Strategist". Big casting mistake. If Jerome and the polls are right about ground level opinions on the US, Sarkozy won't dare fart. The French don't wait for elections to give their opinions and make them heard.

by Francois in Paris on Sat Mar 1st, 2008 at 09:32:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What should Euro Elites do in your opinion?
I don't know too much about how the discussion looks in other countries, but actually the vast majority of Germans e.g. strongly disagrees with Francois with regard that it would be a good idea to send more forces to Afghanistan or that there ever was a really good reason to go there at the first place. So what people do is asking their elite to withdraw. The elites don't follow yet, but the troops who are going there are voluntary troops (they volunteer to go to Afganistan as far as I know), and they don't do much killing in general, so there is no urgent issue to get them away. If the elite starts to send troops into the south where they would kill more Afghanis, any party who would push for such a decision would massivly lose in the 2009 election, as there will be parties who are advocating withdrawel.

Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers
by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Sat Mar 1st, 2008 at 09:33:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Elites should step down because they already kowtow too much to Washington.

They too are bought and paid for by corporations, just as American politician are.

Having a supra-bureaucracy of leaders that rise up through party structures is not optimal democracy.

When I look at the EU project, many of its pro-corporatist laws seem pretty onerous. Laws which are designed to allow media monopolies, for instance, or let's say laws that support the dissemination of genetically modified foods. Euro defense industry dealings.

by Upstate NY on Sat Mar 1st, 2008 at 10:53:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"The Elites should step down..."

Nobody who would be better at doing their job really wants to do it as far as I see it.

"They too are bought and paid for by corporations, just as American politician are."

Some are, but in general they are not. I'm not at all sure that other people would be much less receptive to big capital offers. They are much more doing what the base wants than you seem to think.

"Having a supra-bureaucracy of leaders that rise up through party structures is not optimal democracy."

I don't know anything better.

"When I look at the EU project..."

Often people's fault. The EU parliament is much more direct responsible to the people and less easy influencable by corporations than the comisson and its bureaucracy. But many people don't want to give power to the parliament, because this would reduce national influence and would be clearly a step towards a superstate EU, which I have doubts that this is what a majority of people want. The EU project has some flaws, but it is a development in the right direction.


Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers

by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 08:38:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As easy a case can be made about the virtues of America democracy.

The problem is, both systems are corrupted by the powerful.

Europe is not an effective counterbalance for the US.

by Upstate NY on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 09:51:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"Europe is not an effective counterbalance for the US."

Absolutely true. But it wasn't designed with the premise to be one. And while some parts of the system should be redesigned (but I actually don't object to a EU superstate which many people do) to make the EU more independent of the US in the future, not everything should be rebuild under the premise to counterbalance the US. It is as well not build to reduce bad Chinese influence in Africa. The EU has no single strongman position who can speak for Europeans, like the US president can for the Americans. Such a position would clearly help to counterbalance, but it would be against the general European way of doing things.
The EU has made war between some of the longest enemies in history impossible, the EU helps countries devasted by the real existing communism to master their situation in a difficult world. The EU saves cultural divergence, and offers a framework for common tasks as environmental protection in an atmosphere where national thinking of 'My country first' still plays a big role (don't take ETers as the common man), with people with different historic experiences and interpretations of it, languages and economies.

I think if liberal Americans hope that the EU will help them in the sense as to influence the US to become more in accordance with their position, they will always be disappointed. Phlegmatic apathy is the best you should hope for, everything else is bonus.

Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers

by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 10:35:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Often people's fault. The EU parliament is much more direct responsible to the people and less easy influencable by corporations than the comisson and its bureaucracy. But many people don't want to give power to the parliament, because this would reduce national influence and would be clearly a step towards a superstate EU, which I have doubts that this is what a majority of people want.

I have read this many times as the stated reason why the EU parliament does not have greater power within the EU structure. However, I have not often met people who would object to such things as giving the parliament greater power over appointing the commission or giving it the right to propose legislation. The parliament tends to poll highest of the EU institutions when people are asked about their confidence in the institutions.

I am now leaning towards the conclusion that it is our national politicians who prefer the current system. It gives them ample cover to blame Brussels for unpopular policies while keeping power in their own hands.

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES in 2009!

by A swedish kind of death on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 02:49:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
but I wouldn't put it only on the national politicians power hungryness, although it is a factor.
Actually you can judge that probably better than me. In the parliament voting power is more appointed according to population size than in the comission, so in smaller countries it should be an bigger issue than in bigger ones.

Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers
by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 02:59:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
'The parliament tends to poll highest of the EU institutions when people are asked about their confidence in the institutions.'

Maybe that's because the European Parliament is the only EU institution which, to most people, is readily understandable and recognizable. It appears to resemble the workings of a national parliament, which it does to a substantial degree. The members are known to the people of the country they represent, at least somewhat, speak their language, share aspects of their national identity, are directly chosen in elections. You need to follow a year-long course to understand how the rest of the EU works. Hardly anyone understands it, even reasonably informed people. Now there's a president coming of one commission or another. It's so difficult to  comprehend that the 'president' will be different from a national president. You have a parliament, you have a president. So what else does anyone need?

P.S. Obama is a national politician. I can't see him substantially diverging from the US nationalistic-imperialistic approach. Oh, the Elites. The term makes these people, whoever they are, seem like a choir of singing angels. Why don't we finally get down to Marxist earth and just call them the Ruling Class, which they are?

by Quentin on Mon Mar 3rd, 2008 at 06:07:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I  have a distinct hunch that the use of 'elites' to designate an amorphous bunch of wealthy, powerful people, who I would call the ruling class, originated or, at least, first gained common usage in the United Kingdom.
by Quentin on Mon Mar 3rd, 2008 at 06:11:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, I agree.

The worth of fighting in Afghanistan is purely a personal opinion. And I totally disagree with the way it's done right now, by the way.

I think it would have been easy to get European opinions firmly on board right after 9/11, even Germany(?). But Bush really poisoned that well with his lies and his incompetence. It would take something incredibly spectacular from the US to turn that around now.

by Francois in Paris on Sat Mar 1st, 2008 at 11:04:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, you are right, I think directly after 9/11 it would have been possible to convince a majority of the European public.The media transported quite a part of the shock the Americans felt then and most people judge with their gut.
But therefore I doubt that this opinion could have been conserved until now, unless tremendous progress in the nation building could have given an ex post 'humanitarian justification' for it and
"3) commit serious resources to Afghanistan (not point talking if it's anything under 300,000 US combat troops)" will be interpreted as escalating the war.

Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers
by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 08:21:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The optimistic "yes we can" viewpoint might be for Europe to wait quietly until Obama is elected, then, when he calls up for military assistance, to explain to him a carefully thought out and widely agreed European approach to the Middle East. That might include things like a stronger effort to wean the west from ME oil, to stop arms sales, to apply pressure to Israel, Saudi Arabia, India, and Turkey to try to limit their disruptive behavior, and to generally try to make things better. (Better, that is, in the sense of allowing for local governments to come up with local solutions, instead of externally imposed solutions.)

Can Europe do this?

by asdf on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 01:39:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Likely mostly not. And 'The optimistic "yes we can" viewpoint' is for Americans, we have the pessimistic 'everything goes south' approach.

I'm not aware that there would be a widely agreed approach to the ME, other than talk only do nothing, which is tremendously better than the US approach of make it worse. But if a 'Yes, we can president' can be convinced to do just nothing?

On stronger efforts to reduce dependency of oil, I think any strong climate change policy will include that unintentionally. But that really is one of the points, where Europe really is trying to influence the US and the world.

Talk Obama into pressure Israel will as well not happen. I don't think Sarkozy will do it and I hope you understand that it is impossible for a German gov to ask for such a thing. To Turkey our elite tries to talk directly (neither very skilled, nor very successful; Erdogan has recently asked Turks living 3rd generation in Germany not to become Germans) and Saudi Arabia - well, if the fact that 9/11 included a number of Saudis and that doesn't do it, I don't know what Europeans shall matter. What has India done?

Anyhow, if the answer to Obama's request for troops is a non/no/nein, then I don't expect Obama to care much for any advice given to him.

Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers

by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 02:04:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
asdf:
a carefully thought out and widely agreed European approach
Come again?

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 06:11:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Why not? It's a cheap way of making the Americans happy, and good exercise for the armed forces.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 08:50:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Francois in Paris:
The US neocon psychos are partially right when they try to practice revisionism for instance about the Vietnam War. The US would have won is they had gone all out.

Only if by "won" you mean "depopulate Vietnam".

Von überall könnte das Volk, Urbrut alles Undemokratischen, Zelle des Terrors, über die gewählten Hüter von Wachstum und Wohlstand® kommen. - flatter

by generic on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 07:48:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Generic, stuff you quote mining up yours.
by Francois in Paris on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 11:07:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You clearly stated that the US could have won the Vietnam war if they had gone all out. I don't think I have taken that out of context.
How do you propose the US could have won the war other than by nuclear carpet bombing? After Diem was assassinated there was really no significant support for the US in South Vietnam left. Also when dealing with the North there was the very real danger of drawing the Chinese into a full scale conflict.

Von überall könnte das Volk, Urbrut alles Undemokratischen, Zelle des Terrors, über die gewählten Hüter von Wachstum und Wohlstand® kommen. - flatter
by generic on Mon Mar 3rd, 2008 at 09:25:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I've clearly stated that was no reason whatsoever to do it.

They and the soviets had a reason against Germany and the the US alone against Japan. They went all out and they won.

by Francois in Paris on Tue Mar 4th, 2008 at 01:20:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Francois in Paris:
I've clearly stated that was no reason whatsoever to do it.

I never implied that you had.
I simply disagree that the war could have been won, independently of any reason for or commitment to the war.
WW2 ended with the surrender of Germany and Japan. The Vietcong as an organization couldn't be made to surrender. To win Vietnam the Vietcong would have had to be destroyed, because there really was no other political faction that had any popular support whatsoever. The Vietcong couldn't be destroyed without an invasion of the North. Said invasion probably would have brought nuclear armed China into the war.

Von überall könnte das Volk, Urbrut alles Undemokratischen, Zelle des Terrors, über die gewählten Hüter von Wachstum und Wohlstand® kommen. - flatter
by generic on Tue Mar 4th, 2008 at 12:46:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Jerome,

By the way, the diary on Modernising the British Army radically does not speak of Afghanistan, Kosovo or NATO.

by The3rdColumn on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 07:20:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
 
Even if your right; why bring it up now. After Tuesday; Obama will be the Democratic candidate for President and running against a genuine hero.

I know that may have very little influence on you intellectual Europeans but it very well might impact on Obama's ability to be elected.

So lets save the criticism for when he is actually President as opposed to having him adopt a position you are confident is right even though you very well may be wrong just for the sake of 'intellectual geopolitical masturbation conversation'.

And perhaps when he is President; he either may very well adopt your position or you may very well adopt his but until then-campaigning against a war hero who declined to be sent home from North Vietnam because he wanted to stay with his fellow soldiers is tough enough without adopting positions you would like on Afghanistan and Europe's non involvement.

by An American in London on Sat Mar 1st, 2008 at 09:24:00 AM EST
After the elections is before the elections. If a campaign rival is good enough reason to talk the opposite of what has to be done, facing a hostile right-wing press after the war will do it, too.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat Mar 1st, 2008 at 11:31:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Could anything demonstrate any better how totally fucked up the US debate on foreign policy is than this line of argument?

The candidate must lie about what his policy would be in order to get elected?

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Sat Mar 1st, 2008 at 12:18:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's deeply fucked up, but, unfortunately, there's a lot of truth to it, in my opinion.  I don't think the country is ready to throw in the towel on Afghanistan, at least not until bin Laden is killed or captured.

Now, if that can be done (and it'd help if President Shit-for-Brains actually gave a damn about it), the story would change dramatically.  Suddenly, the next president could declare victory and take the easy exit.  Whether he/she would is another question.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Sat Mar 1st, 2008 at 07:51:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Didn't Bin Laden die from lack of dialysis facilities some time in the winter of 2001/2? I mean, how long can someone with kidney failure survive in a cave in Tora Bora?

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 06:17:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But the CIA still comes up with really good videos from him. So either he is alive or the CIA is makeing the videos of BinLaden to keep a face for the enemy.

Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers
by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 06:30:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That is absolutely right-we have to start debating the real issues rather than proxy issues.  Should we be there?  If not, should we pull back asap or steadily over some period.  Can we get help turning this over to some less divisive parties?  I don't know the best answers-I'd say yes, right now, and beg the UN to take over...but thats me.  But your point is exactly right, we cannot come to a good answer without talking about the issues without fear of the discourse.  There may not be a good answer anyway, but this skulking around the issue is shameful.

"I said, 'Wait a minute, Chester, You know I'm a peaceful man...'" Robbie Robertson
by NearlyNormal on Sat Mar 1st, 2008 at 08:42:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You have to admit, it worked for George Bush.

"I am a compassionate conservative. I believe the US should not be involved in using its military for international police work."

by Upstate NY on Sat Mar 1st, 2008 at 09:12:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Although I agree with you most of the time and certainly about the excessiveness all the time what would you propose as a real political solution without any military intervention, US  and/or Nato, when it comes to hot spots with millions of peoples' lives at risk like Darfur, Kosovo etc. ? How can you believe the same unreasonable people who would kill people on the basis of their religious or political differences could agree to a political solution without military intervention. Should Afghanistan go back to the days of Taliban rule where women are second class citizens and human rights are ignored? Should 'terrorist' groups be incubated by the Taliban? What is your poltical solution for the country?

We all know it is not the way the US has been acting but I am not sure poltical solutions can be accepted without the need sometimes for military intervention. Please clarify your thinking.

by An American in London on Sat Mar 1st, 2008 at 10:56:58 AM EST
And the situation of Afghani women is better now, how?
by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Mar 1st, 2008 at 11:00:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
' We all now the ay to fo forward is not the way the US has been acting' but what would you propose?
by An American in London on Sat Mar 1st, 2008 at 11:05:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't know. :-( But I know more bombing of Afghanistan will not improve their situation. War tends to cement macho structures even more.

It propably will take decades to undo the wounds of the Russian and now the US/NATO invasion. It will take education and helping to build a society and economy, where woman can become more independent. Besides the goal of the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan was not to improve the lot of women.

I was always against the war on terrorism and the invasion of Afghanistan. I never been able to see this as an solution. It is only the civilians that are suffering once more.

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Mar 1st, 2008 at 11:16:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
AAiL:
...but what would you propose?

You may want to read or re-read Afew's diary: The Afghanistan Problem, in Jerome's links.

You might object that none of us here at ET is proposing "The Solution For Afghanistan" you're looking for. It may be hard to accept, but in that particular occurrence, there's just no such thing. Orderly withdrawal is the best that can be hoped for.

by Bernard on Sat Mar 1st, 2008 at 02:37:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
rg linked to a serious project to hook up afghani opium producers to the world pharma market. how many civilians/soldiers would that save?

but no....out comes the paraquat, sop to keep the black market price up.

it 'works' on coca in colombia, right? <snark>


"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 02:44:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
oy, metavision! did you troll rate me on purpose?

why?

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 12:13:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Corrected.

It's the second one today that has slipped by me and the first was J., also corrected.

I'm sorry, I'll try to be more careful with my mouse.  

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.

by metavision on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 01:30:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You don't have someone's latest Tribext? Download it, and this should be a yesterday's worry... You can 4 with one click, and it warns prior to giving anything else than a 4.
by Nomad on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 04:30:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
they can go to school now, (dodging bombs, rapists, kidnappers, holyroller stoners, honour-killings from vengeful relatives). that is important, at least symbolically, right?

oh yeah and don't forget the kites, or are those just for boys?

taliban are bad news, no doubt, but who encouraged them by acting like global assholes?

fundies like war...it's what they do... inside their heads, most of all.

i was fortunate enough to travel in afghanistan in around '74, and was struck by so many good things about the country, it burns me up to see the suffering they endure through foreign meddling.

they have been traumatised more than almost any other nation on earth, and we, the supposedly enlightened west, can only come up with violence as solution to almost all problems.

war machines need wars...afghanistan is just one of the 'crappy little countries' michael ledeen mentions as needed to beat up every so often, just to piss on the territory and blow up expensive munitions.

i would imagine that if the alternative is a rabid western kill-force bent on instrumentalising your geography and monopolising your resources, then maybe even loons like the taliban start looking better, at least they speak the language.

lose-lose...till we get out the killers and replace them with genuine aid that has a transparent, entirely sustainable agenda.

obama will doubtless make that his first priority.

mcpain or shrillary, i don't go there...

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 03:00:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't think this diary is really about Afghanistan, maybe Jérôme's choice of titel is a little misleading. In my opinion the diary and the article in the Spiegel is about how Obama will deal/handle the Europeans.
by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Mar 1st, 2008 at 11:05:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Should Afghanistan go back to the days of Taliban rule where women are second class citizens and human rights are ignored?

Women are second-class citizens and human rights are ignored, as of current. Plus, there is widespread banditry, rape, and warlords from all factions depend on cultivating heroin.

You are speaking on the basis of an illusion, an illusion that what 50,000, 100,000 troops do there has any positive influence on people's lives.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sat Mar 1st, 2008 at 11:29:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
An American in London:
Should Afghanistan go back to the days of Taliban rule where women are second class citizens and human rights are ignored?
Hmm, they are already there as far as women's rights are concerned. The American invasion and occupation hasn't delivered on that front, either.

In fact, in Iraq things are not just as bad as they were, but much worse: under Saddam Iraq was secular and women had more rights, and the US occupation has empowered religious reactionnaries.

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Mar 1st, 2008 at 12:24:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Should Afghanistan go back to the days of Taliban rule where women are second class citizens and human rights are ignored?

Pashtun Suicide Terrorism---an Update International Terrorism Monitor--Paper No. 370
By B. Raman

(...) In its issue of August 3-9, 2007, the "Friday Times" of Lahore wrote as follows: "Recruits are formally registered with the Taliban as suicide bombers and given a receipt indicating their registration number. At any given point, there are thousands in line waiting to sacrifice their lives, an observer returning from South Waziristan told the weekly. If one of them is selected to be the next bomber, the news is a cause for celebration in his household. (...) ....Women, because of the Taliban's strict anti-wife-beating policy, are largely in favour of them..... This is part of the
strategy of winning over the mothers, who, according to the Taliban, have the greatest influence on the child as he grows up. Women are thus actively involved in the process of indoctrinating children in favour of the Taliban."

Seems Pashtun women in Afghanistan now mostly view the Taliban as comparatively more women-favouring than the other lot - so imagine just how womens'-rights-friendly the northern alliance warlords must be!

"Ignoring moralities is always undesirable, but doing so systematically is really worrisome." Mohammed Khatami

by eternalcityblues (parvati_roma aaaat libero.it) on Sat Mar 1st, 2008 at 03:25:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
An American in London:
Should 'terrorist' groups be incubated by the Taliban? What is your poltical solution for the country?

'Terrorist' groups are incubated by the Saudis - to the extent that the biggest bribery and corruption investigation in the UK in recent history was derailed at least in part by hints that more terrorism might happen if it continued.

Afghanistan has nothing to do with anything. It's a monkey trap - the place where empires go to die.

An American in London:

Please clarify your thinking.

The lack of clarity would not appear to be on Jerome's side here.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sat Mar 1st, 2008 at 12:27:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
My mind is still reeling on this one.

The threat from the Saudis was not a surprise. The Saudi royals are thugs. Still, the response from the UK was a big surprise to me. I wouldn't expect Her Majesty's Vanguards to unload on the peninsula but folding like that? Then, what's next?

by Francois in Paris on Sat Mar 1st, 2008 at 08:08:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I was puzzled by it, too.  But we've given the Saudis the upper hand with every post-9/11 misstep.  After the attacks, we should've rallied around the cause of getting off the oil, and we should've said to the Saudis, "You did this, you little bastards.  We're ditching the oil now, but, in the meantime, you'd better keep it flowing, or there isn't going to be much of a Saudi Arabia left when we're through."

That's one period on which I would've most certainly used the stick approach rather than the carrot.  But I guess that's easy to say for me, as someone who isn't buddy-buddy with these scumbags.

And now we've pissed away the opportunity.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 08:53:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The opportunity is still there, but yes, there was a singular moment right after 9-11 where this could have happened, and more importantly, the president actually had a chance to change Saudi policy (where under normal circumstances the president does not have that power). Sadly, well, we all know about the family connections.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 04:26:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
How can you believe the same unreasonable people who would kill people on the basis of their religious or political differences could agree to a political solution without military intervention.

That is the problem, is it not? How can we get the people who would kill others to agree to political solutions? Maybe we could prosecute them and jail them, or just stop rewarding them. Not electing them in the first place would be a starter.

Or wait, are you talking about murderous leaders in other countries?

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES in 2009!

by A swedish kind of death on Sat Mar 1st, 2008 at 06:15:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As TBG pointed out, the terrorism problem is much more in Saudi Arabia than Afghanistan.  (Where do you think the money/education comes from?)  The only people worth going after in Afghanistan are bin Laden and his immediate circle, and much of that is just symbolism rather than anything of truly practical importance.

But we don't talk about that, because the Saudis are our bffs.

But why talk about it?  Nothing will be accomplished on that front until we're free of their oil, and we're a little too concerned with bullshitting Ohioans about NAFTA than we are about ending the oil addiction and actually making ourselves safer.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Sat Mar 1st, 2008 at 07:58:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Afghanistan was "lost" long before Junya and his enablers decided to stage their first war of choice. No one has ever beaten the Afghanis on their home turf. No one, all the way back to Alexander the Great.
by Mnemosyne on Sat Mar 1st, 2008 at 12:56:41 PM EST
What about the mongols?

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES in 2009!
by A swedish kind of death on Sat Mar 1st, 2008 at 06:03:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
south asia largely held them off until the mughals several centuries later.
by wu ming on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 02:21:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
the indians held them off, the afghans got thrashed. my bad.
by wu ming on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 02:22:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Pffff.

The Soviets were beating the crap out of the Afghans until the US and Pakistan decided to give them rear bases, Stingers and assorted weaponry to neutralize the Soviet air advantage and provide shelters beyond the military reach of the Soviets.

And yes, the Mongols made mashed potatoes of Afghanistan. The Mongols  were so successful at devastating the place that, even today, many of this region's  pathologies are consequences of the 1219-1221 campaign.

The US is losing the war in Afghanistan because they're not fighting the war in the first place. They are too busy in Iraq.

by Francois in Paris on Sat Mar 1st, 2008 at 06:44:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, the Mongols also left behind inhabitants of Afghanistan (leading to the Hazara). After the Mongols, there was another nice monster conqueror, Timur/Tamerlane, too.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat Mar 1st, 2008 at 06:56:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
...and before, the Sassanids, and I think the White Huns got their turn, too.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat Mar 1st, 2008 at 07:00:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, the place has been visited by everybody and its brother. The Mongols come on top of the lot, though. They really  ... err, left a mark. Even if they didn't kill absolutely everybody, they truly turned what is modern Afghanistan into a desert.
by Francois in Paris on Sat Mar 1st, 2008 at 07:31:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The most fascinating are the campaigns of the early 1240's (and the great Khalka river campaign 20 years earlier). They came all the way to the suburbs of Vienna before they decided to go home as the Great Khan had been assasinated.

They had already crushed the greatest army in Europe, the Hungarian, and I have no doubt that they they would have crunched the only remaining strong army, the French, like insects.

Before they invaded Russia (from the east and in winter no less! (the Mongols always fought in winter if they could)) they hade made this immense plan of conquering all of Europe, from the Urals to the Atlantic. It was supposed to take 12 years IIRC.

Oh well. They were so great at war than many of their methods and theories weren't rediscovered until WW2 by the Germans and pre-purge Russians.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Sat Mar 1st, 2008 at 07:42:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sarkozy can do that because there is no way for voters to stop him, given that he controls a compliant parliament for the next 4 years.

This is a scary view of how helpless we are starting to feel in Europe to keep our governments under control/on the side of people and a sad reminder of how powerless US citizens have felt this decade.

We have to keep reminding national and EU politicians that we are watching, that they work for us, not for the elites.

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.

by metavision on Sat Mar 1st, 2008 at 01:08:36 PM EST
There, I disagree with Jerome. Having the presidency and the parliament only go so far in France. Mitterrand learned that lesson the hard way in 1984 with the Savary law on private schools.
by Francois in Paris on Sat Mar 1st, 2008 at 09:37:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I just don't want to get my hopes too high.
But seeing Sarkozy snubbed by rightwing candidates in the municipal elections this month was a rather pleasing sight.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 11:35:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yessss, Sarkozy is having a little teh he Bush moment. That's kind of rough, not even one year in his mandate. Poor guy :>
by Francois in Paris on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 08:44:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think the lesson was really learnt when hitting the Mur de l'Argent, as capital flight put the French economy into much disarray and forced the tournant de la rigueur_ .

The power of the capital owners can't be overstated.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 11:40:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Last night I wrote a diary for DailyKos on one of Obama's Foreign Policy advisors. Samantha Power wrote an article for TIME this week in which she heaped some blame on Europe.

This is my diary on Power:

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2008/2/29/202240/604/218/466595

Also, if you get that far, read some of the comments. A few responders linked to an interview that Power gave with DemocracyNow. It's very enlightening.

by Upstate NY on Sat Mar 1st, 2008 at 03:31:56 PM EST
Samantha Power is Irish (Dublin born) and moved to the US I'm not quite sure when.  She did an interview on Irish radio a few weeks ago and was very impressive.  If nothing else, she will understand European sensibilities a lot better than your average neo-con - although I suppose that's not saying much.  She has an outstanding humanitarian track record and I am amazed she was hired by a (now) mainstream Presidential candidate.

Having said all that, she is now playing politics, not doing foreign policy analysis.  The name of the game for the Dems is not to be blindsided by McCain on national security, Israel, terrorism and foreigner phobia in general, and that includes the Europeans.

The US polity seems to be going through one of those phases where it realises everything is going wrong, and somebody has to take the blame.   And seeing it cannot be the shining city on the hill, it has to be more or less everybody else who doesn't do precisely what America wants.  Ergo Democrats who point the finger of Blame at Bush are less than true patriots- and McCain id trying to have it both ways - distancing himself from Bush on some issues - but being an "unapologetic patriot" = US Imperialst, all at the same time.

McCain's only real attraction is that he is not Bush, was a true war hero/patriot, and harks back to a simpler time when you knew who your enemies were because they conveniently wore black hats or called themselves communists/socialists/or didn't implement US policies like any good vassal state is supposed to do.

From an electoral strategy point of view it's a no brainer that you don't take McCain on on those terms.  If you can neutralise (=show little difference) on those terms, you expose his age, his lack of executive experience, his lack of economic expertise, and that fact that he is after all a Republican, and as far as domestic policy is concerned, it's all their fault.

What all of this says about what Obama/Power would actual DO if/when elected is a moot point.  It may bear very little resemblance to the lines on which the campaign is now being fought - which is essentially about the past, and not the future.  At the moment has the advantage of having very little track record on any of this - all he has to do is talk about hope and change, and Americans fill in the blanks with their own fantasies of what should be done.  He is signaling a rupture from the past without engaging too much with the realities of the future because that will only scare the horses.

If he is half as clever as I think he is, he simply won't go there, (now) because its not a pretty picture, and nobody ever got elected preaching doom and gloom.  Perhaps Samantha Power will be shafted into some minor position if he is elected, but the very fact that she got the job with him on her prior humanitarian record is a good sign.  The question is whether she and Obama will be strong enough to withstand the military/industrial onslaught if they do get elected, because that battle will make the current electoral skirmish look like a garden tea party.

"It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 03:51:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I guess I'm not totally sold on the idea of European-born State Dept. honchos: Brzezinski, Kissinger, Waldheim.

But I do like Power.

Still, she has too much of the righteous interventionist about her to make me feel comfortable.

By the way, do you know who her buddy was on many of those car rides in the ex-Yugo countryside?

Roger Cohen of the New York Times.

by Upstate NY on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 09:47:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You mean Albright?

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 11:35:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
LOL, yes, I meant Albright. Can't believe I wrote Waldheim.
by Upstate NY on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 01:02:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Freud never sleeps?

"If you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles." Sun Tzu
by Turambar (sersguenda at hotmail com) on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 03:43:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
 
"We also may need to lift some of the constraints that they have placed on their forces there."

er, hello...can you say 'megalomania'?

memo, we don't vote for (or against) you, and you have no remit to raise or lower our 'constraints' here, there or anywhere.

we have shed blood for bush/blair's war on terror, we have shed blood from the responses of bush/blair's war on terra and inhumane, insane foreign policy in general, demanding from us that we prop up your overstretched war machine is unacceptable.

we try to get along with our arab neighbours, this century anyway!

"It is also important for us to send a signal that we're going to be listening to them

 please don't insult us with the kind of doublespeak that is swallowed do readily and uncritically in your home country.

either listen or continue not to, this 'signal' business is b.s. we recognise only too well. we aren't into your symbolic version, don't want it, don't need it.

my sectret hope is that obama is the savour of the nation, but has to wait till he's elected, and inherits the keys to the diktat toolbox bush has been crafting along with the justice dept. so he spouts whatever psychobabble the electorate wants to hear, gets in, and turns into OBAMALAMAMAN, scourge of corruption and lion of liberalism...(no, not that kind...)

you know, like tony blair, lol.  

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sat Mar 1st, 2008 at 04:08:33 PM EST
It seems to me that the underlying problem is about terminology. The U.S. frames the situations in Iraq and Afghanistan as "wars", but they aren't really, they're attempts to use a conventional military system to try to bring western-style democracy to a population that doesn't think that way.

The comparison that comes to my mind is the American invasion of Italy, chasing the German army out. My (probably crude TV-influenced American) version of that is that the Italians had had it up to here with the Germans, they welcomes the Americans, you could tell the Germans from the Americans, and the Americans blew up a lot of stuff but gradually chased the Germans out. Then, they left, and Italy returned--after a lot of trouble--to its regularly scheduled government.

The problem in Iraq and Afghanistan is that we're not chasing out an invader, we're taking sides in a bunch of internal disputes none of which have much to do with western democracy. For example, first we kick out Saddam (Sunni) and set up a new government (Shia), then we help the Kurds, which makes the Shias mad, and then give money and guns to the Sunnis to keep them temporarily quiet, and find that in the meantime the Kurds have started fighting with the Turks--our "best" ally in the region--and the Turks have responded with a little mini-invasion of their own, exposing the weakness of our Shia puppet government which is now probably going to collapse. Remind me which side of this are we on again???

It's hopeless. We should take the defense budget and spend it on conservation credits and just cut off the Middle East entirely. It will be quite surprising if Obama takes this approach, though. I expect that he will surround himself with mostly the same advisors that Clinton would, and the overall results will be about the same. Basically, the U.S. is addicted to M.E. oil, period.

by asdf on Sat Mar 1st, 2008 at 10:03:00 PM EST
And yes, it all goes back to our inability and/or unwillingness to wean off of oil.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 07:45:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This article is notionally about Prince Harry, but it says all we need to know about the current campaign in Afghanistan:


'Harry's War': The ugly truth

If dropping bombs on Afghans and fighting from a base in Helmand is as close as Harry will ever get to normal life, then it's a sad indictment of his existence back home. But the real point here is that life for Afghans in Garmsir has been very far from normal since we Brits arrived.

In September 2006, British forces attacked and occupied what was until that point a thriving agricultural town. This means that the local farmers, who are poor cash-croppers exploited by opium barons, grow a great deal of poppy. But the British arrival, as in other towns across Helmand, brought nothing but military might - no means of development, no improvement in local living standards and no alternative to the poppy.

The most basic tenets of counter-insurgency were abandoned in the Army's haste to see action. Violence ensued as poppy farmers and opium traffickers teamed up with the Taliban to oppose the foreign occupiers. As the first British bombs fell, killing Afghan civilians, the battle for hearts and minds was lost.

The fighting rages still and opium production has soared to new heights. Overwhelming firepower (the kind that Harry co-ordinates) cannot resolve the fact that the British campaign in Helmand is illogical; we are trying to fight our way to winning hearts and minds and losing the trust of the population in doing so. Scores of civilians have been killed by British ordnance in Helmand. In 2007, at least 6,000 people died in the conflict across Afghanistan, of which approximately 1,400 were civilians. At least 500 of these deaths were directly attributable to Nato forces, mostly in air strikes; 89 British troops have been killed and 329 injured.

As General Sir Richard Dannatt has pointed out, we are there for the good of the Afghans, but at the moment we are having the reverse effect. The Taliban are resurgent. Funded by millions of dollars of opium money, they are responding to greater British troop numbers by increased use of suicide bombing tactics.

The US's top intelligence official, Mike McConnell, stated last week in Washington that security in Afghanistan is "deteriorating" as President Karzai controls only about 30 per cent of the country and the Taliban 10 per cent, with the remainder under tribal control. Put simply, this is a disastrous military adventure and not a just war.



In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 07:44:42 AM EST
I agree that Afghan war is much harder to "win" even than the one in Iraq, as Taliban was and is based on Pashtuns, the ethnic majority.

The only way to put an end will be probably to forget Karzai and negotiate with Taliban. Then the West will be forced to restore the status quo ante, provided Taliban renounce al qaeda. Obama will not do this. In fact, Obama may decide to protect the "US interests" in Iraq too.

(I am curious if those Obama enthusiasts would join the army to help their leader.)

I will become a patissier, God willing.

by tuasfait on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 08:09:43 AM EST
Let's hope that, as some commenters say, once in power, Obama will adopt more sensible policies. Here is an excerpt of a speech he gave in Rhode Island:

Obama Shows Off Drawing Power -- Courant.com

"I don't want to just end the war. I want to end the mind set that got us in the war," Obama said. "I want to end the politics of fear, the fever of fear that uses 9/11 as a way to scare up votes instead of a way to bring the country together to go after a common enemy."


"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 08:57:13 AM EST
As pointed out by Afox in today's salon, these statements are sufficiently vague and ambiguous to leave open plenty of avenues, some not really different from the current US policy.

I want to end the politics of fear
Of course, who can disagree?
...bring the country together to go after a common enemy.
Again, sorry if I come along like a party pooper, but this statement is totally consistent with military escalation in Afghanistan, and other places as already advocated by Big O...
by Bernard on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 09:28:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"...bring the country together to go after a common enemy."

Again, sorry if I come along like a party pooper, but this statement is totally consistent with military escalation in Afghanistan, and other places as already advocated by Big O...

No, if we figure out that the common enemy is us, then we're all set!

by asdf on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 05:11:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This is American foreign policy in essence, don't you noticed how Democratic hopefuls agreed that US have sovereign right to strike inside Pakistan whether "sovereign" Islamabad regime wishes it or not.

Actually Americans already executed some strikes inside Pakistan with mixed results and collateral damage that Pakistan itself quickly slipped into state of anarchy.

What we have to think of it? First of all Americans put it plainly - who pays the bill is the one who orders music, right? Protestations of Musharraf are of course for domestic use only as they accepted all terms and conditions of Bush's help (and divert it into anti-Indian military build-up).

The same logic applies in case of Afghanistan as Americans (and most European governments) still foolishly believe they have victory on their hands but feel more and more economic (and human) constrains.

I feel pity for Karzai who after 6 years of war still needs massive NATO presence in his country, thus he cuts short his own political future. He of course inherited the country in absolute poverty but he had no ethnic or religious strives which plagued Iraq. Unfortunately for him Americans and Western allies did not provide what was needed most in first 2-3 years as their attention was turned to Iraq. Now it's probably case of Too Little Too Late and unlikely to turn the tide whatever passionate appeals to allies American politicians make.

by FarEasterner on Sun Mar 2nd, 2008 at 10:42:56 AM EST


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