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In defence of NATO in Afghanistan (Updated/summary rebuttal)

by The3rdColumn Tue Feb 19th, 2008 at 07:44:59 AM EST

NATO in Afghanistan has come under severe attack not only from a major ally, the US, but also from different quarters, political and otherwise.

At the outbreak of the US invasion and bombing of Afghanistan in 2001 to boot out the Taleban government in place (that the US once supported hugely), I couldn't see from where I sat, how the American bomb and awe tactics of the time could solve a highly complex problem that was Afghanistan through the use of extreme violent force after all, the Russians had already tried and failed miserably. But the harm was done.

We all know that America realised that they couldn't go it alone and asked NATO for help through the UK. The political and military situation on the ground further changed after the UN mandated NATO to get into the thick of things and which has forever altered the entire Afghan picture. (See UK House of Commons Research: Operation Enduring Freedom and the Conflict in Afghanistan). The rest is history as we know it today -- NATO is now expected to pick up the pieces.

There are many arguments for and against NATO intervention and continuing operations in Afghanistan but as I said earlier on in a comment in my previous diary, Afghanistan's killing fields, assuming that European nations involved in NATO operations in the country were asked to leave the Afghans to their fate today, would that be the judicious thing to do? In my view, it wouldn't be for a very, very simple reason, something I stated in the same follow on comment:

Realistically, if we leave Afghanistan because we believe that it is fundamentally a "failed state", there is no guarantee that we will not find ourselves with the kind of Darfour debacle [and more] in our hands once again. Pakistan had borne the brunt of the Russian wars there that produced more Talebans, more extremists, more violence, etc. In the long run, the only way out of that kind of total and utter fiasco is to try to bring progress to the ordinary people of Afghanistan, education, health services, infrastructure, etc.

I received the following "missive" on the issue from a friend working at NATO saying why he believes NATO should continue their job in Afghanistan. You be the judge.

Diary rescue by Migeru


This is the single biggest issue facing the world today. It may seem remoteand involve only a few million people, BUT it is the one country where the richare intervening to help a genuinely failed state and try to put them back on their feet.

There is a general acceptance from the whole world (including the UN) that this is right and should go forward. The richer nations are bearing the cost and this is also broadly accepted. The rich does not only mean NATO but certainly includes Japan and Australia who are among the 37 - 40 nations involved in ISAF.

Having accepted that there is a mandate to rebuild Afghanistan, we should look at who is observing.

  • Those countries sending soldiers and other supporters and aid workers are watching with great concern, especially at the cost in lives. There are calls from many voters for withdrawal and this can be understood at the personal level -- no one likes to see our boys dying far from home. Politicians feel under threat from voters who do not accept supporting this war that does not concern our country. It is here that we need statesmen who can communicate the relevance of our involvement and the absolute necessity to our countries. Our statesmen need to put across the higher higher humanitarian level discourse.
  • Better off countries who are not contributing are watching with a neutral stance. They accept the need, but do not want to bear the pain.
  • Poorer countries far from the conflict (e.g. some in S America) watch with interest. The issue has small direct consequence for them, but the result will tell them how they can expect the world to develop. Will the Western democracy with global free trade be the future or will it be something much darker?
  • Poorer countries close at hand and with religious connections are watching with cynicism. Success doesn't necesssarily mean they must to bow to the will of the developing world but failure will spell upheaval as they see that they too can defeat the West as well.

Looking at this it can be seen that the real strategic battle is between keeping the Western way of life going and descending into some form of anarchy over time. It will not happen in one generation, but over time the cost of providing the necessary security in our safe and rich Western style nations will become prohibitive. We risk becoming isolated pockets, effectively living behind barbed wire fences. This will work till the money runs out.

A far better way is to spread our way of life into the developing world although this also is not cheap and this is exactly what we are attempting in Afghanistan. It is this effect that is being observed and measured so closely. It is to stop this that the forces of terrorism are working so hard against us.

The upshot is that we have a choice: Spend money and send soldiers and supporters into the world to protect our way of life and accept losses in both lives and financial terms, OR live on the fat for a time and then spend more and more on security at home and accept more and more attacks and loss of life at home. In other words small pain and then gain today against large pain and loss in the future.

As a long term thinker I go for the former; many will go for the latter.

NOTE: Html re-format for clearer text layout.

THE FOLLOWING IS THIS DIARY'S SUMMARY REBUTTAL

In defence of NATO

Indeed, the mission of NATO has changed. If we consider the mission in 1949 when NATO was created then there is no further need for NATO and everyone is in agreement with this. The question we now need to ask ourselves is whether there is still a need for NATO today?

Many in ET have expressed in no uncertain terms that NATO is no longer needed, no longer useful, unecessary, and so on. Fine. Whatever their reason, the starting point is whether we accept the following premise or not: that the world is not a stable place and there are still major threats to security, not least terrorism. There are those who may very well believe that these threats do not exist but this doesn't alter the fact today that the need for defence has not gone away -- it has just mutated.

At that level of the debate, it is important to recognize that Europe as an entity is still not very well organised to effect its own defence in military terms despite progress in the ESDP; that Europe is still fragmented in military terms and invests little in defence matters. The fact is Europeans recognise the need to combine for defensive purposes. All this points to a need to develop greater cohesion within Europe in defence matters.

That said, European nations still find it difficult to trust each other in defence matters and wish to retain defence to a national level. Many nations also distrust the capability and willingness of Europe as an entity to provide a sufficient defence for European interests. This points to the need for European nations to look for external allies and most nations see this as the over-riding priority.

At that level, NATO is ideally placed to fill this role. This may very well seem simplistic to many and it begs the question of why should NATO operate outside the North Atlantic area. The answer to this is if the UN and other global organisations want to use military forces for security operations and peacekeeping then they need an organisation to do this. It happens that the world's richest nations have just such an organisation and are prepared to use it to support international peace and prepared to pick up the bill as they see it as being in their interest.

With regard to NATO in Afghanistan and as this diary remarked earlier, if Europeans truly think that their respective nations should not be involved in ISAF in Afghanistan, one thing that can be done is to demand that their respective governments withdraw their support for the United Nations' backing there and leave the Afghans to their fate. Is that the judicious thing to do?

In fine, to many, NATO may very well not be needed, but that there is an underlying need for a new military organisation to support the UN's international security measures and manage peacekeeping all round the world. Why re-invent the wheel and ask poorer nations to pay? Lets keep NATO.

Display:
Who is "we" in this case? I hate disembodied unexplained pronouns.

Afghanistan was lost when the US decided that a side-trip into Iraq would be much more fun. Afghanistan is not a failed state: it is a fucked up state, fucked up by the Cold War and it's ramifications, used as a pawn by the self-appointed Wolrd Powers in their little game of power politics.

And I have no patience at all for "long term thinker" posing: long term thinkers would have worked this out before fucking the place up in the beginning.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Feb 11th, 2008 at 12:24:22 PM EST
Colman,

For your peace of mind, by "we" I was referring to Europeans and by extension, to those contributing to, reading, etc. the European Tribune.

Agree that the Iraq beachead was a catastrophic pivot in that US world supremacist game.

Re "... by the self-appointed Wolrd Powers in their little game of power politics.

Unfortunately these are harsh and stark realities of today's world politics.

Re: And I have no patience at all for "long term thinker" posing: long term thinkers would have worked this out before fucking the place up in the beginning.

Three things just to set the record straight:

1) You're having 'no patience' is irrelevant to the piece... But for the sake of argument, I don't see any "posing" there at all -- the author was referring to a given problem that is Afghanistan today and not before NATO came into the picture.

2) Also, by inference, you say that the author "fucked the place up" but I don't see where or how the author fucked up Afghanistan -- as far as this space is concerned the author was merely trying to advance his own thoughts on where his choices lay.

The upshot is that we have a choice: Spend money and send soldiers and supporters into the world to protect our way of life and accept losses in both lives and financial terms, OR live on the fat for a time and then spend more and more on security at home and accept more and more attacks and loss of life at home. In other words small pain and then gain today against large pain and loss in the future.
So, what's wrong wth his qualifying the above as his long term thinking?

3) I understand that you are frustrated... but perhaps YOU have a better proposition, so out with it! Well and good to criticise someone who wants to join the debate and who advances a personal opinion about very complex problems but I don't see how gratuitous comments can contribute to the debate.

by The3rdColumn on Mon Feb 11th, 2008 at 02:53:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]

live on the fat for a time and then spend more and more on security at home and accept more and more attacks and loss of life at home.

The premise of more attacks at home ("fighting them there so that we don't have to fight them here") is the fundamental flaw of all these reasonings, like it is of the "War on Terra". There will not be "more and more attacks at home".

I'll repeat again my position on this:

  • we are supporting corrupt authoritarian regimes in the region;
  • the population is unhappy with the regime and associates it, dictature and corruption with the West which supports it;
  • coincidentally, religious organsations provide local social support, collective solace and a tolerated outlet for popular expression. Political Islam becomes a legitimate political force, the only voice of opposition, and becomes associated with democracy and progress against the corrupt regime - and the West.

I'd add that we support these regimes because we think they give us better deal on oil, but it's no longer even true (Iran is more open to foreign investment than Saudi Arabia...).

Let's stop propping up corrupt regimes in these countries and the Islamic threat will disappear in a generation.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Feb 11th, 2008 at 03:00:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Re: we are supporting corrupt authoritarian regimes in the region...

(We? as in my definition of "We "?) I agree that the West shouldn't help prop up/support corrupt regimes.

by The3rdColumn on Mon Feb 11th, 2008 at 03:17:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Like the one it has installed in Afghanistan for instance?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Feb 11th, 2008 at 03:23:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The entire framing of this article is insane, if we take the definition of insanity to be doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

I do have a better proposition: apologise for the string of cock-ups "we" in "the West" have perpetrated in assorted countries, decide on a set of principles for foreign policy and stick to them rather than lying through our teeth about "nation building"  (so long as the nations are happy to be vassals ) and "democracy" (so long as the democracy arrives at an answer "we" approve of). Pursue win-win solutions and take into account the legitimate interests of other counties and drop the macho bullshit that currently passes for diplomacy. Talk to anyone who wants to talk to us to see what we can do for each other rather than trying to insist they give us want we want before we even negotiate.

The author is writing as a representative and a member of NATO and "the West": it is in that capacity that I'm attacking him, as you should well know.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Feb 11th, 2008 at 03:22:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Excellent propositions Colman! Personally have nothing against trying them but their execution will depend on people and given today's current crop of politicians and leaders, not to speak of an incredibly divided international community, who will or can do/execute them?

Re: "The author is writing as a representative and a member of NATO and "the West": it is in that capacity that I'm attacking him, as you should well know. "

OK, my fault; can't identify the author except that he joined NATO long after ISAF was deployed to Afghanistan. I honestly believe that he must be given credit for what he said about doing something in nation building; he's one of the military people I know who does not believe in a military solution being the only solution.

by The3rdColumn on Mon Feb 11th, 2008 at 03:38:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The author isn't the problem: the institution and its interactions with other institutions is. I doubt it's possible for NATO to do the job because it will never have the right priorities.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Feb 11th, 2008 at 03:41:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
We are concentrating on NATO and their perceived 'inefficiency' but we must not forget that there are genuinely good thinking NGOs in Afghanistan, groups of civilian men and women from the four corners of the world who are trying very hard to bring progress in a ravaged nation.
by The3rdColumn on Mon Feb 11th, 2008 at 07:13:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Okay, off the top of my head:

NATION- BUILDING 101: what to do if you have fucked up?

1)    Announce that you're withdrawing after there are free and fair (representative) elections. Secure them while preparing to leave.

2)    Make sure the elected government is set up and ready to work. Use diplomacy to guarantee that neighboring states respect it (ideally: get their support).

3)    Negotiate a cooperation treaty with the new government, along the lines of debt relief, fair trade, military/ police training, logistical, development and humanitarian aid. Respect the deals made with the neighbors. Make conditions for any help given: democratic principles, a transparent budget, rule of law, separation of church and state. Set benchmarks for success.

4)    Set up a permanent body of diplomats, human rights watchers, governance advisers and aid workers, both WesternTM and local, to watch over the agreed rules and discuss arising problems.

5)    Get the soldiers out (maybe except for a small response force in the capital for a limited amount of time).

6)    Phase out remaining advisers and military personnel (depending on the benchmarks).

NOTE: Remember to adapt this strategy to the country in question. All major ethnic groups or "other powers" should be represented in the government, except for those totally opposed to the set conditions.

SIDE NOTE: Let me add that trade and development policies should always be tied in with foreign policy. The future representing and negotiating team for the EU should include both presidents (Commission and Council), both trade and development commissioners and be led by the HRCSFP.

"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 Mon Feb 11th, 2008 at 11:09:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, and define "the West" for the purposes of this discussion. Who's in, who's not?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Feb 11th, 2008 at 12:43:41 PM EST
Colman,

For purposes of this discussion, the West will be defined basically as Western Europe, the North American continent and by influence, will include Australia and New Zealand. What's your definition?

by The3rdColumn on Mon Feb 11th, 2008 at 02:56:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
as used in the media nowadays, includes only English-speaking millionaires. The rest of what you call the West is made to believe that it is part of it, but is quite treated as it if were.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Feb 11th, 2008 at 03:02:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Up to citizens to do something about it, don't you think?
by The3rdColumn on Mon Feb 11th, 2008 at 03:11:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Will the Western democracy with global free trade be the future or will it be something much darker?

Gotta love that "much", suggesting that "Western democracy with global free trade" is already something pretty dark...

But seriously, how is the current campaign in Afghanistan doing anything that can be remotely conducive of democracy, even before we distorted the meaning of that word beyond recognition?

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Feb 11th, 2008 at 02:46:25 PM EST

failure will spell upheaval as they see that they too can defeat the West as well.

The domino theory again? Sigh...

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Feb 11th, 2008 at 02:48:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It could happen...
by The3rdColumn on Mon Feb 11th, 2008 at 02:59:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
it's good to have this viewpoint expressed. Having said that, it's an ahistorical viewpoint. Most invasions have failed quickly or eventually, just as all imperial systems and adventures have collapsed at some point.

The few occupations that 'take hold' involve colonization and genocide. Do you propose to send waves of emigrants to establish a 'Western' outpost in Afghanistan? I don't see much of a movement for that development.

Genocide - a case could be made that the U.S. promoted genocide in Viet Nam and in Iraq. But, without that colonization part, it's merely inhumane, self-defeating, and disgusting. (With colonization - well - history is written by the survivors.)

Ah - the white man's burden. What is the nearly unanimous desire of people throughout the world? To be left alone to make a reasonable living among their fellows. Only a small group of felonious vandals and predators want to make a mess in their neighbor's bailiwick - let alone halfway around the world. Unfortunately, these small groups are able to influence somewhat larger groups from time to time - to organize them into a mob which has a markedly different set of principles than most of the individuals involved. Be a friend of the world - resist this influence.

paul spencer

by paul spencer (spencerinthegorge AT yahoo DOT com) on Tue Feb 19th, 2008 at 12:15:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Re: But seriously, how is the current campaign in Afghanistan doing anything that can be remotely conducive of democracy,

I think you are looking at it through blurred lens -- try seeing it in another context, ie, helping Afghanistan in nation building or as the author says, the need to see it at a humanitarian level.

However, following your line of thought, it IS possible. How? It took Europe centuries and centuries of warring and tens and tens of millions of deaths before we could even begin to remotely say that Europe was demoratic. So, let me play the advocate: Given that, couldn't we say that the Afghanistan campaign is bound to be conducive to democracy?

by The3rdColumn on Mon Feb 11th, 2008 at 03:10:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Huh? What? Are you really saying this? Centuries of wars and tens of millions of deaths brought peace and democracy to Europe, thus let us quickly inflict war and deaths upon the non-democratic bits of the world, and surely great things shall follow?

To pose the two as causally linked in such a straightforward way seems questionable enough. To suggest that war and deaths are necessary and sufficient precursors of democracy seems more than a bit ridiculous. Yeah, that's the problem with dictatorships. Their countries have just not experienced enough wars and deaths to have become properly democratized. Yup, that's what's missing, alright!

by someone (s0me1smail(a)gmail(d)com) on Mon Feb 11th, 2008 at 03:19:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Not saying it's right or wrong. It's history's ironical twist! It's not as if it's an advocacy. Geez, read it again.
by The3rdColumn on Mon Feb 11th, 2008 at 03:22:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It took Europe centuries and centuries of warring and tens and tens of millions of deaths before we could even begin to remotely say that Europe was demoratic.

Was democracy the result of these wars and deaths?

Were they inflicted by outside forces?

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Feb 11th, 2008 at 04:02:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's a classic fallacy of bifurcation.

How about something much brighter?

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Feb 11th, 2008 at 07:57:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks for posting this.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Feb 11th, 2008 at 02:47:04 PM EST
Happy to do it.
by The3rdColumn on Mon Feb 11th, 2008 at 03:00:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Come to think of it, what on earth does "nation building" actually mean? Do they mean institution building? Do they mean that they're recreating the assorted 19th C projects of creating a national identity through largely fabricated myths and national symbols? Do they mean ethnic cleansing and fragmentation into geographic entities with homogenous national populations?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Feb 11th, 2008 at 03:30:14 PM EST
A far better way is to spread our way of life into the developing world although this also is not cheap and this is exactly what we are attempting in Afghanistan. It is this effect that is being observed and measured so closely. It is to stop this that the forces of terrorism are working so hard against us.

So "we" are trying to change their "way of life".

Funny - I thought that was what the terrorists were trying to do to us. But I think I get it now: "to beat them, we must become like them".

by det on Mon Feb 11th, 2008 at 03:34:17 PM EST
But we're fighting on the side of light, not darkness.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Feb 11th, 2008 at 03:37:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's unrealistic to believe that Europeans and Americans (ET people inclued) will ever agree on the right way in Afghanistan, so before we embark on a rhetorical 'discourse', perhaps we should begin by answering the following questions:

Will leaving Afghanistan be the judicious thing to do today? If yes, why? If no, why not?
by The3rdColumn on Mon Feb 11th, 2008 at 03:59:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In answering that, first decide if you believe this:

Moon of Alabama

For my part, it rings true. So I don't know if "we - the west" should get out wholesale, but I don't think it would hurt if the US took a genuinely back-seat role.

Incidentally, don't be so dismissive of the "rhetorical discourse". The language the author uses reveals his (or perhaps more correctly NATO's) mind-set. Full of stock politic sound-bites and dire predictions of armageddon. For myself, I am more worried about global warming and/or resource depletion. The islamo-fascist terrorists can get in line behind all the other crazies and drunk drivers that might kill me any day I step outside my front door. If he/they can't see beyond the blinkers I perceive in his text, then yes - better they pull-out now before they make things even worse.

by det on Mon Feb 11th, 2008 at 04:31:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Quoting Moonofalabama again (recommended reading for NATO types!), here are Bernhard's suggestions (which I agree with.)

Here are my recommendations on what to do in Afghanistan:

Stop fighting ghosts and creating new ones. The locals can fight or integrate the Taliban much better than anyone else.
Launch a $25 billion, 10 year program 'Green Afghanistan'. This money is to be a gift: Not 'debt relief', not 'development credit', not conditioned on 'buy only from originator', not for technical 'license fees'. This money has to be a gift.

Mayor program points of 'Green Afghanistan':

Electricity: Variants of modern energy mills in the 1, 10 and 100 kilowatt class optimized for low-tech production and little maintainance need. With modern stateless (no maintainance) technology hundreds of those community mills can be interconnected locally to form a self sustaining net. Sometimes there will be no wind, but better intermitted electricity than none at all. Add solar when local production of solar panels is feasible.

Build 100 factories to produce such energy mills locally. Use as little import parts/materials as possible. Needed imports, the machinery and transport costs will be payed by the aid program for maybe 5-10 years. Attach basic engineering schools to each factory. After growing experience and the supporting industries, these products can be major Afghan exports ten years from now.

Water: Use windmills/watertowers/solar for pumping. Build small(!) dam projects. Build standardized low tech, biological sewer treatment systems.

Wood: Afghanistan is seriously deforested. Build a countrywide reforestation program with hundreds of tree nurseries and schools for locals to learn to create and tend to the reforestated areas. Concentrate on fighting timber rather than opium smuggling.

Ahh, opium: Best solution, buy it for cheap at the local markets (80% of the export price is margin for the dealers). Use for regular medicine whatever is feasible and discard the rest. Do not enforce eradication. Don't fight smuggling. Offer alternatives. For the last point - do NOT import food but in serious emergencies. When food prices go up, farmers will turn away from growing poppies.

Other important points:

Only local labor and companies to be allowed below the level of engineering. Why are Chinese day laborers and U.S. companies building Afghan roads when unemployment is the Afghan number one problem?

Stop building those big roads between the major foreign troop garrisons. Local roads to local markets are much more important for the economy than super highways.

Let the local sheiks and tribal elder councils run the projects. They will skim off some of the money - so what. Recruit only locals for police/security forces - pay them well.

A note to imperialists:

There are much more profits to be made by skimming off a well grown economy, than a dirt poor one. Give some money to Afghanistan, let it grow for a while and you will reap in good profits. In between - shun your hedge fund managers and google long term profitability.

http://www.moonofalabama.org/2008/02/green-afghanist.html



Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.
by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Tue Feb 12th, 2008 at 05:14:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Only local labor and companies to be allowed below the level of engineering. Why are Chinese day laborers and U.S. companies building Afghan roads when unemployment is the Afghan number one problem?
Just to clarify, local Afghan labour is also used to build roads and bridges but you are right, not enough.

When I visited Kabul a couple of years ago, one thing I observed and which to me stood out as a "problem" was multinational contingents operating in security and NGOs working with the Afghans were not using Afghan labour or local materials.

For instance, almost all basic stuffs, food, clothing, office paraphernalia, desks, chairs, etc. etc. that were being used were all imported when many of these things could be locally sourced which could generate business and employment for the ordinary Afghans. So much money running in tens of millions of dollars in one go was being spent by nations flying the basic stuffs needed by the more than 40 thousand foreign nationals working there when clearly, some of this money could be spent locally to help jumpstart local businesses.

Perhaps, things in that area have changed since but what I saw then was puzzling and to a certain extent, shocking.

by The3rdColumn on Fri Feb 22nd, 2008 at 10:30:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Will leaving Afghanistan be the judicious thing to do today? If yes, why? If no, why not?

It's difficult to answer questions posed in a vacuum of surrounding facts.

My answer is no. The reason is that we should open unconditional negotiations with the Taliban. It's going to be hard to negotiate with all troops out today. It's going to take several months to get them out, anyway.

Now, is it likely that the US will support such negotiations? Not now. Might be if there's a completely different team in charge in 2009.

Until then, serve out the remaining missions, but do not extend them.

After negotiations have lead to a deal between the Northern Alliance and the Taliban, NATO should withdraw. Perhaps there should be a UN-led peacekeeping force, though it is hard to see what it could do. In any way, it should not comprise too many NATO countries, and none of the ones currently fighting.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Feb 11th, 2008 at 08:22:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I guess peacekeepers would do what peacekeepers have always done. Observe and report, report to all parties and the outside world. Even if all sides want peace, distrust lingers and minor scuffles or even accidents can start a new war.

So neutral observers can fill an important role.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Tue Feb 19th, 2008 at 09:11:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Looking at this it can be seen that the real strategic battle is between keeping the Western way of life going and descending into some form of anarchy over time.

Your friend's thinking seems to beg the question throughout. He assumes both hostile exterior forces that  threaten to overwhelm "the Western way of life" (whatever that is), and entropy within, "descending into some form of anarchy", society going to the dogs. These are standard fundamentals of a conservative outlook. They would line up fairly well with Republican assumptions of the need for the War on Terror/civilisation clash coupled with the "right" side in the culture wars. Does that give me an inkling of what he means by "the Western way of life"?

But I can't for the life of me see how fighting the Pashtun tribes in the Afghan mountains (again) will further the cause your friend assumes is essential. Unless this helps:

A far better way is to spread our way of life into the developing world although this also is not cheap and this is exactly what we are attempting in Afghanistan.

This is now so close to nineteenth-century colonialism, to the "white man's burden", that I'm tempted to remind him that this is exactly what the Victorian British attempted in Afghanistan. They were rightly seen as invaders and never subdued the territory. Which is what is almost certain to happen again.

What expense of blood and treasure, how much increased world tension, are we willing to go to, on the basis of such an outdated, reactionary worldview?

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Feb 11th, 2008 at 03:58:56 PM EST
afew,

I knew my friend's position would be very very unpopular here at ET if not outright UNTENABLE (and I warned him) but I decided to publish it in this diary because I too believe that the only way forward is to GO forward.

The harm's been done and through NATO and Western NGOs in situ can only soldier on -- even if it means picking up the pieces of a thoroughly foul adventure that was started by the Americans.

Unless of course, others have other propositions?

I would like very much to have YOUR own take based on a your own question:

"What expense of blood and treasure, how much increased world tension, are we willing to go to, on the basis of such an outdated, reactionary worldview?"
by The3rdColumn on Mon Feb 11th, 2008 at 04:15:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's a rhetorical question that contains its own response: none whatever.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Feb 11th, 2008 at 04:25:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And your ultimate solution would be....???
by The3rdColumn on Mon Feb 11th, 2008 at 04:29:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Why ultimate, and solution to what?
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Feb 11th, 2008 at 04:32:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Please-please take note of/factor into the debate the essentially vicious-circle nature of US and Nato military operations in Afghanistan and across the Pakistani border, and their destabilising effect on the entire region:

Pashtun Suicide Terrorism---an Update International Terrorism Monitor--Paper No. 370 (by Indian counter-terrorism expert B. Raman)

Like the Khalistanis and other terrorist/insurgent organisations of India, the Pashtuns, who live on both sides of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, did not believe in suicide terrorism. (...) In fact, none of the ethnic groups of Afghanistan---the Pashtuns, the Uzbeks or the Tajiks--- practised suicide terrorism.

Even the advent of bin Laden and his Al Qaeda into Afghanistan in 1996 could not induce them to take to suicide terrorism. That was why for killing Masood on September 9, 2001, through an act of suicide terrorism, he had to depend on Arab volunteers. However, the position started changing after the US troops started their military operations against the Taliban and Al Qaeda on October 7, 2001. The Pashtuns and the Uzbeks also started practising suicide terrorism. (...)

The torrent of anti-US anger in the Pashtun tribal areas has now been joined by an equally strong torrent of anti-Pakistani Army and anti-Musharraf anger, with each aggravating the other. The Pakistani security forces have literally been reeling under the impact of this spreading prairie fire of Pashtun suicide terrorism. (...)

This Pashtun anger on both sides of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border can be contained and hopefully reduced only by a change in the present counter-terrorism methods of the American and Pakistani Armed Forces, which involve a disproportionate use of force, resulting in a large number of civilian casualties (...).

Remember this from back in September 2006?

Top soldier quits as blundering campaign turns into 'pointless' war (UK Times)

THE former aide-de-camp to the commander of the British taskforce in southern Afghanistan has described the campaign in Helmand province as "a textbook case of how to screw up a counter-insurgency".

"Having a big old fight is pointless and just making things worse," said Captain Leo Docherty, of the Scots Guards, who became so disillusioned that he quit the army last month.

"All those people whose homes have been destroyed and sons killed are going to turn against the British," he said. "It's a pretty clear equation -- if people are losing homes and poppy fields, they will go and fight. I certainly would.

"We've been grotesquely clumsy -- we've said we'll be different to the Americans who were bombing and strafing villages, then behaved exactly like them."
(...)

See also this analysis of what has gone wrong and proposal for an alternative solution from Afghanistan's pre-Taleban minister of foreign affairs (1992 to 1996), Najibullah Lafraie:

The Way Out of Afghanistan is to Get Out


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

by eternalcityblues (parvati_roma aaaat libero.it) on Sat Feb 23rd, 2008 at 01:57:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ooops - just noticed my last link no longer works.

So as the original seems no longer available, here's a quick summary I posted on StrategyTalk back in 2006 (heavily abridged cut-and-paste to give an idea of Najibullah Lafraie's main points):

The initial American idea in Afghanistan in the aftermath of 9/11 was not to do what the Soviet army had done -- not to commit a large force, but to work with allied Afghan militias, a small contingent of Special Forces and massive use of airpower.

But once the military option was adopted, there proved to be no way but to follow the Soviet path.

(...) If the situation remains as it is, NATO may be forced soon to commit even more troops to Afghanistan.

But a grave mistake is inherent in this approach. It overlooks the critical fact that the American and NATO forces are no longer part of a solution in Afghanistan, but part of the problem.

After the removal of the Taliban, American and ISAF troops were welcomed as liberators. But they have overstayed their welcome.

Now, after countless mistakes, they have turned a large part of the population against them. They are now seen as another "infidel" army trying to occupy their country.

If the international community wants to deny the Taliban and their allies an important recruiting tool, it must withdraw Western troops from Afghanistan as soon as possible.

This suggestion may seem irresponsible. Without the military support of the international community, the Karzai government would not be expected to survive more than a few months.

But that would not be the case if the withdrawal of the American and NATO troops took place as part of a well-planned, comprehensive solution of the Afghanistan problem.

The following elements could form the basis of such a plan:

- Formation of a Muslim international peacekeeping force under UN command.
(...)

- A stronger focus on training Afghan national army and police.
(...)

- A new intra-Afghan dialogue.
(...)

- A fresh focus on human development.
(...)

- Curtailing interference by neighbors.



"Ignoring moralities is always undesirable, but doing so systematically is really worrisome." Mohammed Khatami
by eternalcityblues (parvati_roma aaaat libero.it) on Sat Feb 23rd, 2008 at 04:15:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Very good analysis.

I agree that the downside of a NATO pullout will be the potential downfall of the Karzai government.

With regard to "- A stronger focus on training Afghan national army and police.(...)" I do believe that there is a strong focus in that area and there's been a great deal of things achieved.

To achieve what you propose, it is imperative for the UN and the intl community to put pressure on the Karzai govt to do more than what they're doing today, to exert more effort in policing their own ranks and perhaps and realistically, to be less sensitive when solutions are put on the table eg, when he asked for the recall of the British and Irish conduits to the Taleban who in fact had managed to get some Taleban on side, and when Karzai himself criticized the nomination of Lord Ashdown as "coordinator".

by The3rdColumn on Sat Feb 23rd, 2008 at 04:54:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Re Karzai - he's been travelling a very difficult road, I'd say the verdict is not yet out on whether he's an intelligent, farsighted man trying to do his best to keep Afghanistan together in very difficult circumstances or a corrupt, self-seeking "bad guy" aka "problem" - but in any case, who should judge that and on what criteria? And who would be the replacement, decided by whom - let 'em all fight it out till the toughest warlord of the lot prevails? Or let the Imperial Viceroys of the West hand-pick a replacement (Khalidzad)?  Would the result - in either case - be likely to be better/worse?? .. and above all, from "whose" standpoint?

Dunno, but I'm not yet prepared to condemn Karzai out of hand. After all, he wasn't simply a tame western-nutured puppet inserted by force of arms, he'd  got elected by the Loya Jirga and has withstood 3 recent attempts on his life without bloodthirsty retaliation-crackdowns asfaik?. Here's his bio, judge for yourself. Noting in particular that he's Pashtun, educated partly in Afghanistan partly in India and is able to communicate "in their own lingo" and on their own cultural terms with the major regional plays plus western/international ones, speaks Pashto, Persian, Urdu, Hindi, English and French - not all that common amongst Afghani leaders/tribal chieftains, I'd say? And he's somehow managed to maintain good relations with both India and Pakistan, both Iran and the US - quite a juggling act! Through the last few years, I've also noted how frequently and determinedly he's reprimanded the US/NATO about the high civilian deathtolls caused by their reliance on airstrikes.  So when I first read about his ejection of the two UK/EU officials aka UK spooks from Helmand, these were my immediate gut-reactions:

UK spies trying to negotiate a "separate peace" with the Taliban... without informing Karzai's govt.? Tch tch. (...)...as the Afghan war appears essentially unwinnable, the Afghan government only-naturally believes these men were MI6 spooks working for an inclusive peace-deal with the Taliban, only-logically with Karzai's head - or at very least his defenestration - as part of its price.

On that episode and its implications, did you see the very interesting thread on MoonOfAlabama entitled "Imperial Catfighting in Afghanistan"? My perceptions were slightly different from those in Bernhard's nonetheless-admirable opening post so I chipped in with my views towards the end of the thread (posts 19 and 22) under my alternative nik "parvati_ roma". Another good MoA contrib. worth reading on this aspect: "Afghanistan Update - Kill Karzai".
 

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

by eternalcityblues (parvati_roma aaaat libero.it) on Sat Feb 23rd, 2008 at 07:52:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
solution to the Afghanistan problem involving NATO and by extension, some members of EU...
by The3rdColumn on Mon Feb 11th, 2008 at 05:00:43 PM EST
If that's a response to my last comment, then I have to return to my question.

Please define "the Afghanistan problem".

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Feb 12th, 2008 at 03:59:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If you don't know the "Afhanistan problem" yet after everything that's been written about it and NATO's involvement in Afghanistan, I'm afraid no definition can help.
by The3rdColumn on Wed Feb 13th, 2008 at 10:59:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
that you know nothing about Afghanistan.  

What are its problems?  

The things you are hinting are problems only seem that way from the Pentagon.  

The Afghani view is different.  

Totally.  

The Fates are kind.

by Gaianne on Fri Feb 22nd, 2008 at 06:18:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I am not from the Pentagon and I don't care what the Pentagon says. I am a European and the problems that I'm "hinting" are from an ordinary European perspective. I've only been to Kabul once (a couple of years ago) and do realize that as a non-Afghani, my views may not be in sync with those of the Afghan population but if you are an Afghani and have a different view, then let's have it.
by The3rdColumn on Fri Feb 22nd, 2008 at 10:01:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's interesting to see that some people at NATO think of the world in such black and white terms. Almost like the Bush administration.

Can you ask your NATO contact how he/she thinks the current strategy in Afghanistan of fighting the Pashtun is ever going to be succesful?

Because I don't see it happening. I just see more money and lives being thrown at a war that is never going to be won.

When you put it against that, all this 'defence of the free world' talk then becomes just so much empty posturing.

The fact is, we don't know the implications of disengaging. We do know that what we're doing right now isn't working.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Feb 11th, 2008 at 08:06:16 PM EST
The Russians had much more troops than NATO today in Afghanistan. Why should we win? Iraq is smaller and there are much more troops and it doesn't work there.
The strategy is false and the Nothern Alliance was never less brutal than the Taleban.
The whole war was started without public discussion and is now going on for 6 years without an end be seeable. Why should people who have never done us any harm start to do that in the future? The Taleban and AlQaida were not the same, but were united by the attacks. Nobody will "follow us home" and if, these 30 M people could come as immigrants replacing aging societies. If there was such a danger from them, why was the war started after 9/11 and not after a long independent public debate?
Why believes Mike Scheurer, former had of operations for hunting O. BinLaden, that even AlQaida will not attack the west as defined above, if we just withdraw completely from the ME.
(http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A4889-2004Nov22?language=printer)
Why don't we talk with Pakistani democratic leaders, wh suggest, the NATO strategy is wrong (http://www.democracynow.org/2008/1/30/pakistani_opposition_leader_imran_khan_on)
Why do we accept, that the US is still making the decisions as indicated by the above comment(http://www.moonofalabama.org/2008/02/imperial-catfig.html#more)

Maybe we should stay, but only if there is immediately public discussion, in which not the rubbish about security is told, but really purely the humanitarian aspects are on the table. And if then a majority is for withdrawel the elite has to obey. We are loosing much more than some people in some terror attacks, if we allow the elite to kill in the name of our people, despite the people do not agree. It is not the losses in our people which are the problem, but that they kill in our name.

Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers

by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Mon Feb 11th, 2008 at 10:55:21 PM EST
You asked absolutely right questions.

nanne later also suggested reasonable way to get out of this mess - negotiations with some elements in tribal leadership, but it's difficult to say will it be too little too late.

by FarEasterner on Tue Feb 12th, 2008 at 04:45:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
regarding your update:

I don't accept the premise, that terrorism is a threat to be dealt with militarily. I don't want to bomb our Government. After 9/11 people were afraid to fly and therefore were driving more. Alone due to this extra driving ca. 1600 people died from traffic accidents. Steadily new rules are implemented, which usually do nothing than scaring people, e.g. the rule, that one can take only 100ml in a single bottle with you on plane. Terror is the latin word for fear. Terrorist are impotent people, who try to scare people irrationally. Instead of calming poeple down the Governments are hyping the threat, so they are the real terrorists.

The biggest real threat to the world today is the "Cheney doctrine" to treat a 1% risk as a 100% risk, which consequently carried out leads to the end of the world. The person who has invented this doctrine is not hiding in Afghanistan or Pakistan or even in Iraq, but in Washington. Can NATO protect me from this threat?
Despite that I'm for keeping the NATO, because there may come around major threats in the new future. But your original post pretty much focused on Afghanistan.

The reason European nations want to keep there own military is, because they want to be in control (and because they are stupid nationalists). NATO is a defense organisation and it is easy to accept the need for solidarity in case of defense. The strategic use of NATO undermines exactly that control for which nations are willing to waste so much money to not have a EU army.

if the UN and other global organisations want to use military forces for security operations and peacekeeping
Usually not "the UN", but the UN sec council is deciding. So I would say those who have the right to vote should bear the consequences. My country (Germany) has asked for a seat and did not get one, so why should we (and the more than 20 other NATO countries without a vote) be the servants to the masters who rule?

happens that the world's richest nations
I didn't know that Japan, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and UAE were in the NATO.

pick up the bill as they see it as being in their interest
As I said, that is the problem with the NATO: Not only "they", but quite a number of non-"they"s helping a potentially immoral mission. Why not making a "coalition of the willing" for each of such cases.

Europeans truly think that their respective nations should not be involved in ISAF in Afghanistan [...] leave the Afghans to their fate
What I want is a strategy change, which will not happen. The way you formulate it, it sounds as if Europeans do not care for Afghans. The reality is, that the US Gov is blackmailing Europeans, either to follow the flawed strategy or "leave the Afghans to their fate". Much more people die every year from hunger and easy-to-cure illnesses. If used non-military in terms of humanitarian success much more could be done without the expansive military than with it. Why are we responsible for Afghanistan, but not for hungry children if Africa, who are not in a strategically important country. Should they import some "terrorist", so they are recognised and they get help? Are we nowadays rewarding countries for habouring AlQaida? Is O. BinLaden the greatest hero of humanitarian aid of all times?

there is an underlying need for a new military organisation to support the UN's international security measures and manage peacekeeping all round the world
They can hire blackwater or whomever. Those who think it is a need will pay. I don't know one case in the past 10 years, where military had a terrific effect/effort ratio.

Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers

by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Tue Feb 12th, 2008 at 04:35:42 PM EST
Good attempt rebuttal but am not convinced.
by The3rdColumn on Wed Feb 13th, 2008 at 09:38:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm not sure of what you are not convinced, but I'd like to know if you don't think, that many of the arguments you bring up for the NATO as world police wouldn't apply even more for Iraq than for Afghanistan.
The blood shed in Iraq will be huge, when the foreign troops leave.
That is of course what I think and I accept a troop withdrawel of the US in Iraq only if this means a complete change in the mind set which ever allowed the start of the Iraq war, as was announced e.g. by Obama without a concrete way how to do that.

Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers
by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Wed Feb 13th, 2008 at 06:09:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No Martin, I don't think NATO should aid the Americans in Iraq -- that was an illegal war. The only thing to do is for the Americans to leave then let the Iraqi govt go to the UN for help. NATO cannot substitute as police force for something that is patently illegal.

Remember, NATO intervention in Afghanistan is UN backed -- the Afghan govt sought UN backing; it has become legitimate for NATO to step in whereas the war on the Iraqis was illegal -- world of difference. Iraq DID NOT ATTACK America. There's absolutely not an iota of evidence that 9/11 was planned and launched by Al Qaeda from Iraq. However, there was evidence that Al Qaeda was going to launch 9/11 from Afghanistan -- the Lion of Peshwar (Northern Alliance chief) prior to his assasination went to the Americans to inform them of the plan but Bush sidestepped that, well because I suppose he is an indomitble fool...

In my view, until the Americans leave, nothing good could be achieved in Iraq -- that war is producing more fundamentalists and more extremists every single day while Americans stay.

by The3rdColumn on Wed Feb 13th, 2008 at 06:27:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You mean the Lion of Panshir?

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Feb 13th, 2008 at 06:39:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yep, meant Ahmed Massoud, le lion du Panshir. (Not Abdul Haq, the lion of Peshawar :)
by The3rdColumn on Wed Feb 13th, 2008 at 07:20:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
<ahem> Just sayin'.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Feb 14th, 2008 at 01:49:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sorry, didn't see that comment. Must admit that I keep confusing the follow-on tags for those two Lions.
by The3rdColumn on Thu Feb 14th, 2008 at 06:22:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Afghanistan did not attack the US, either. They harboured some people which could have easily been eliminated without a war by drones. The war was long planed and from immense strategical interest. Regarding oil even more important than the Iraq war.
The final attacks were launched from the soil OF THE USA and only incredible incompetance (or intention(?)) by the US Gov allowed them to make so much damage. And of course now the US has killed at least 10 times as many Taleban, who had originally nothing really to do with the 9/11 attacks, than US citizens died on the 9/11 attacks. But that's probably the imperial count: Somebody in your country killed one of us, so we kill your village. Bush should read the Bible: Eye for an eye and tooth for an tooth. Not the ten tooth.
I guess this will backfire as well.

My opinion of the UN is very low. I don't know if anybody in Iraq or Afghanistan cares if some current and former "superpowers" have agreed if it is legal to kill them.
However, the "Governments" of these countries are not representative, not more than the commi gov of Afghanistan in the 80s, which took over Afghanistan against the will of the Soviet Union.
Here I have already described my view on the situation of the Christians (people I called hundreds of times brothers and sisters) in Iraq and similar will be true for the Iraqi Turkmen. Do you really believe the Iraqi Gov will ask for help to prevent the ongoing genocide on these people? What even about the Sunnis?
On what do you base your believe, that people will become less extremist and fundamentalist when the US leaves, former Yugoslavia doesn't seem to be a good example?

If the Iraq war was illegal and will in the end probably have cost more than 2 maybe more million lives, how credible is an alliance including the country which started this war anyhow to bring justice to others?

I can accept to stay in Afghanistan and go out of Iraq, but then I want to see justice for the killed in Iraq. A vast majority of US citizens supported the war in Iraq. The congress knew all important things which Bush knew, who never said Iraq had 9/11 involvement. So lifelong prison for all important members of the US Gov and all senators/representatives which ever voted to enable or finance the war (so about all but Ron Paul) would be the minimum.

Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers

by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Wed Feb 13th, 2008 at 07:20:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Btw, reminder: Bush's air strikes at Afghanistan were not the first; Clinton had already ordered strikes at Afghanistan during his term targetting terrorist training bases.

Re 9/11: Intel reports alleged that the 9/11 were hatched from Afghanistan/Pakistan; the beef of Bush was really the super 'Talibanisation' of Afghanistan whom he believed to had been harbouring Al Qaeda terrorists, etc.

Re: "but then I want to see justice for the killed in Iraq." I think we all do.

(OK gotta hit the sack -- just realised it's almost 2AM here, will get back to this tomorrow. Meanwhile, thanks for the input! Good night folks;)

by The3rdColumn on Wed Feb 13th, 2008 at 07:37:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Clinton isn't much better than Bush. The civilian sanctions against Iraq killed about 400 000 people, mostly children. When France wanted to abolish the sanctions, the Clinton administration vetoed. Most US presidents have blood on their hands. Please read

this link
. I promise it is worth it. They discuss advisers to the US presidential candidates and what they did before.

And well, Afghanistan harboured planners of 9/11. I never denied that. But that doesn't justify ten thousend of killings.

Re: "but then I want to see justice for the killed in Iraq." I think we all do.
Sure? Maybe you and maybe a majority of the people at eurotrib, but surely not the Americans, who voted for senators in the current primaries.

Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers

by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Wed Feb 13th, 2008 at 07:59:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Clinton's air strikes in Sudan and Afghanistan response to the African Embassy Bombings were clearly in violation of international law. By my reckoning that's when the Clinton presidency started going down the wrong path, culminating in the Serbia bombing campaign.

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Feb 19th, 2008 at 04:38:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I want to add.
McCain at least cares for the Iraqis, while most leftish politicians have no plausible arguments why leaving Iraq will help the Iraqis. With superior force it would feasible to stablilize Iraq.
Leaving Iraq now would give the neocons in the US the possebility to create a "Dolchstoßlegende", as they have already tried with Vietnam - and in case of Iraq they would have more chances to be successful.
The longer I think about it, the less I see a chance that Obama could change the mind set leading to the Iraq invasion, with his "city upon a hill" rethoric he is exactly undermining any focus on the question, what other nations think, which is the best test for the legitimicy of a war.

Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers
by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Wed Feb 13th, 2008 at 07:43:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Martin:
Leaving Iraq now would give the neocons in the US the possebility to create a "Dolchstoßlegende", as they have already tried with Vietnam - and in case of Iraq they would have more chances to be successful.

Seeing as the Surge does not consist of a large enough force to be truely successful. I've thought that this was its main purpose.

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

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Feb 13th, 2008 at 08:02:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Studies suggest that the forces would have to be increased to about 400 000 soldiers. I know that this is nearly impossible.
But even the ongoing surge has reduced the violance.

The success of a creation of a legend could even work without that there would have been a real alternative, but would allow the neocons to go into another war in some years elsewhere.

Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers

by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Wed Feb 13th, 2008 at 08:07:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So, following the analogy with the Dolchstosslegende, what the world needs is for the US to unconditionally surrender somewhere?

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Feb 19th, 2008 at 04:36:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe, so all hope is lost that the current wars are the last with US involvement for a long time, unless it becomes economically unbearable to make such wars.

Very sad.

Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers

by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Tue Feb 19th, 2008 at 08:46:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe I should explain the word "Dolchstoßlegende".

Despite Germany had to accept conditionless surrender, in WW I there was never a fight on German soil. Basically after the US entered the war directly, Germany had no chance any more and all military historicans agree on that.
But the groups who first surrendered were poitically very left. The Weimarer Republic was essentially founded by the SPD, the major German left wing party. As there was no war in Germany, the monarchists could keep the myth of the "Dolchstoßlegende" alive, that Germany could have won WW I, if the left groups would not have betrayed the country. This was a major burden for the new democracy and the SPD, which later lost a lot of voters to the Nazis who were allowed to reverse most of the burdens, which the SPD Gov accepted in the Versailler treaty.

Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers

by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Wed Feb 13th, 2008 at 08:19:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I see.

f I understand the 'doctrine' "Dolchsto▀legende" correctly, I believe that it will be used indeed by Bush and his neo-con supporters. There have been high-profile indications from Patraeus demand for more troops in Iraq to Gates' recent attacks on US NATO and EU allies.

by The3rdColumn on Thu Feb 14th, 2008 at 08:32:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In English the legend Martin refers to is called the "Stab in the Back" legend.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Thu Feb 14th, 2008 at 09:11:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ah, thanks.

Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers
by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Thu Feb 14th, 2008 at 09:25:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Dolchstosslegende was a major factor in the allies' decision to demand unconditional surrender from the axis powers at the end of WWII.

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Feb 19th, 2008 at 04:35:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hold your horses... As Peter Brookes The Times says in his latest political cartoon commentary,

by The3rdColumn on Wed Feb 13th, 2008 at 05:11:04 AM EST
Maybe you retry to start a debate after the US election in November ;-)
A president Obama might help to debate things with US involvement less angrily.

Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers
by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Wed Feb 13th, 2008 at 08:35:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
at our precinct caucuses in Washington on Feb. 9. This will go to the County Convention on April 19 and will probably be forwarded, largely unrevised, to the subsequent Congressional District meeting. As to what it will look like after that, I can't predict, but some form of Iraq withdrawal resolution will emerge from the state convention in June.

This resolution - slightly revised - will also be submitted at some of the Austin, TX caucuses coming up in two weeks.

Point being, we're working on it. More importantly, this actually looks similar to - but more specific in timing and detail than - Obama's policy outline for the Iraq occupation.

An Out-of-Iraq Plan

1)  All U.S. troops redeploy to the 5 main bases in Iraq, as quickly as possible, but no later than 60 days;
  1a) all native Iraqis who request asylum are moved to temporary camps within these bases (finish this step within the 60-day limit);
  1b) all troops not necessary to support those 5 bases begin departure sequence from al Asad air base (finish this step within the 60-day limit);
2) All U.S. "contractors" redeploy to temporary camp in Saudi Arabia within 90 days, in order to organize departure from the region;
  2a) all non-U.S. citizens in "contractors" role are given commercial airplane tickets to their home country;
  2b) all U.S. citizens in these roles are ferried back to the U.S. via chartered flights, paid for by "contractor" companies;
3) All non-essential and low-security-listed material is left in place for local Iraqis to expropriate;
  3a) all weaponry and ammunition are collected within 60 days, to be warehoused in one remote, secure corner of al Asad air base for transport to U.S. -   or for destruction (deadline 150 days, but aligned with troop withdrawal);
  3b) all mine-detection devices, tools, construction equipment and material, and medical equipment are left for local Iraqis to expropriate;                       4) Organize council including Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iraqi Sunni, and Iraqi Shi'a to discuss/negotiate political arrangement for southern provinces;                                                                                                                                                                                                               5) Organize council including Turkey, Turkomen, Iran, and Iraqi Kurds to discuss/negotiate political arrangement for northern provinces;                       6) Ask U.N. to hold advisory conference on Iraq situation to obtain viewpoints of all interested parties without direct political role in region;
7) When treaties or constitutions or arrangements acceptable - as demonstrated by U.N.-monitored elections - to the 3 main ethnic/sectarian divisions in Iraq are formalized, begin the full withdrawal of all U.S. military personnel back to the U.S., to finish within agreed date-certain (not later than Sept. 1, 2009).
  7a) native Iraqis who request asylum are processed for immigration to the     U.S. on an expedited basis;
  7b) all stored weapons and ammunition are transported to the U.S.;
  7c) the U.S. bases are turned over to the authorities for the region in which they are located;
  7d) the U.S. budgets for grants/reparations to the Iraq entity or entities that emerge from the agreements.


paul spencer

by paul spencer (spencerinthegorge AT yahoo DOT com) on Tue Feb 19th, 2008 at 11:51:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It looked OK in 'Preview'.

paul spencer
by paul spencer (spencerinthegorge AT yahoo DOT com) on Tue Feb 19th, 2008 at 12:28:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I like 1)--the acid test: you stop shooting and. . . (you honestly stop shooting--no sneaky shooting). . . do things get worse or better?

Have you talked to any people in the military about this?  Two months to move back to the big bases; it sounds feasible.

1 a) I don't have a good feeling about this--as a vote winner (I 100% support the resolution as written--the only caveat that the timescales have been checked against logistics): you might have millions requesting asylum.  "Get out now, with a passport and support services at the other end."  Are U.S. communities (esp. non-city communities) ready for millions. . . I mean, it is a perfect gesture--not just words but genuine aid.

2) is great.  (from the beginning of the democracy now transcript someone (or maybe Martin!  or afew!) linked to.

Democracy Now! | Vote for Change? Atrocity-Linked U.S. Officials Advising Democratic, GOP Presidential Frontrunners

Presidential candidates are scrambling to win last-minute support in Iowa ahead of tonight's caucus. Thousands of reporters have also descended on Iowa this week, covering everything from Mike Huckabee's haircut to John Edwards's rally with singer John Mellencamp.

But little attention has been paid to perhaps one of the most important aspects of the candidates: their advisers, the men and women who likely form the backbone of the candidate's future cabinet if elected president. Many of the names will be familiar.

(Someone!  What a wonderful program you wrote!)

So who are these advisers?

One of Mitt Romney's top advisers is Cofer Black, the former CIA official who now serves as vice chair of Blackwater Worldwide.

Bingo!  It summed up completely and exactly how he came across to me--strangely it gave me hope: he is really dim and venal--an ad for a jockstrap called "jock!"--

3) Leave it all behind--excellent!  All the non-harmful stuff, and if they trash it, they trash it.  Leave it behind--see if they can find any uses for mine detectors--all the defensive equipment, and blow up all the offensive material, kaboom!

Can the army police itself in this way?  I like this resolution a lot (!)

4) 5) 6) I like--sit down the relevant people and look for calming solutions considerate most particularly of people's need for peace---lower the stress!

7 - How to get that peace turned into with-real-implications-for-political-powerblocs treaties--or: what evil mess of treaties might they create saying always, "But it can't be perfect, we only have until Sept. 1 2009."

7a) absolutely!  But if there is a genuine "welcome to America, here's what you need to get started" package--Iraq has been blown to pieces. . .

I hear a voice saying, "There's a lot of hurt in America, and you want to do 'good will'?  You think our communities are ready for that, what with poverty washing around everyone's ankles, while the rich get out?"  I'm hearing voices!

The U.S. trying to solve everyone else's problems--except Iraq is a very expensive problem--and a war crime, it seems (based on fabricated evidence)--I kernov nussink, paul!

(Cough cough!  Well, I hope you're smiling--or groaning!  Noooooo!)

7 b) -- No kaboom.  We need the weapons stockpiled!

7 c) Okay.

7 d) I suppose 7. . . maybe offer moneycash with no strings, but only for specified projects, starting with health infastructure, sanitation infastructure, electrical infastructure, sort out the oil--maybe keep it in the ground!  Save it, it'll be very very useful in years to come; here's some money to build up the civil infastructure, and we'll make sure the oil plants  get the latest technology--solar panels!  I mean, what if some Bush crony manages to swing it (Berlusconi keeps getting elected), so the new president is a stooge, but he has a piece of paper signed by the U.S. promising lots and lots of no-strings money.  And I'd add a rider: it is essential but not sufficient that funds are given.  It is also essential that Iraqis do the work, while being offered all the technical assistance  needed to undertake requested-by-the-Iraqis projects (e.g.: How does a solar-panel factory work?  Lots of engineering bursaries to go help out--but never oversee except when explicitly requested--ah, the corruption!)

Ach, paul, it's a fantastic resolution!  Tell us how it gets on.  Tell me!




Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Tue Feb 19th, 2008 at 08:00:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What's wrong with "the West" pulling out of Afghanistan and allowing the various factions there to work things out themselves? There would probably be quite a bit of fighting (using western arms that we have conveniently provided), and then a government based on a strong personality. Sort of like a whole bunch of other countries...
by asdf on Tue Feb 19th, 2008 at 08:40:32 AM EST
Spot on. 'The West' has no bona fides in Afghanistan anyway. We screwed these people up, and we are there to keep doing it, not to help them. The leopard doesn't change its spots. We ought to get out completely, just on the principle of 'First, do no harm'.

We aren't there to help.

by wing26 on Tue Feb 19th, 2008 at 10:31:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"BUT it is the one country where the richare intervening to help a genuinely failed state and try to put them back on their feet."

The idea that the U.S. and its European subordinates intervened in Afghanistan for humanitarian reasons is simply nonsense. On the contrary, in fact: the invasion was undertaken with the expectation that it would lead to mass famine, with human rights organisations warning of a humanitarian catastrophe if the attack went ahead.

There was, incidentally, an indigenous resistance movement to the increasingly frail Taliban: it explicitly opposed the NATO attack.

"At that level of the debate, it is important to recognize that Europe as an entity is still not very well organised to effect its own defence in military terms despite progress in the ESDP; that Europe is still fragmented in military terms and invests little in defence matters. The fact is Europeans recognise the need to combine for defensive purposes. All this points to a need to develop greater cohesion within Europe in defence matters."

Although as we have seen in Afghanistan, NATO isn't really about "defence" at all.

"It happens that the world's richest nations have just such an organisation and are prepared to use it to support international peace and prepared to pick up the bill as they see it as being in their interest."

Surely you jest. The U.S.-dominated NATO is prepared to "support international peace"? Even the briefest look through its member states' records (Iraq? Lebanon? Palestine? The Kurds in Turkey? etc.) is enough to demonstrate otherwise. We should be clear about this: NATO is essentially a military alliance designed to serve U.S. interests.


The Heathlander

by heathlander on Tue Feb 19th, 2008 at 09:41:16 AM EST


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