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Dear Dems: Stop reading from Rove's playbook on Afghanistan

It's sad that this needs to be said, but Democrats need to stop reading from Karl Rove's playbook when talking about the Afghanistan war.

GOP Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah is one of only a dozen Republicans who voted against funding the Afghan war in the House yesterday. But his Democratic opponent, Karen Hyer, tells the Salt Lake Tribune that this is akin to deserting the troops:

She agrees the war should start winding down, but she said the Republican's vote against this funding was "irresponsible" and described it as "the grandstanding of an inexperienced freshman congressman."

Hyer believe the funding is necessary to continue and conclude ongoing missions.

"We should support our men in uniform who are currently in harm's way," she said.

Over 100 Democrats voted against funding the war yesterday. Are they not supporting our "men in uniform"?

The reason this matters is that it goes far beyond this one case. As the debate about Afghanistan heats up, and as the anti-war position gains steam, more and more pro-war Dems are going to find themselves tempted to indulge in this kind of rhetoric. Keep in mind that the DNC did just that earlier this month.

This is in part a by-product of the current political situation: A Democratic president has not taken ownership of a major foreign conflict the way Obama has with Afghanistan in a generation, since Lyndon Johnson's escalation in Vietnam. So Dems will find themselves uncertain about how to conduct this argument with each other. But Dems who favor continuing the war need to resist the temptation to read from Rove's script at all costs.

Opposing the war is not tantamount to failing to support the troops -- even when Democrats are the ones making this ugly charge. Those who are against the war argue that the troops are in an unwinnable situation -- no matter how brave and tough they are. Casting the anti-war position as anti-troop pollutes our discourse, makes any substantive discussion about the war's wisdom impossible, and validates the longtime Republican tactic of painting Dems as weak on national security.

Look: This is not some Beltway game, where Dems get to pat themselves on the back because they cleverly turned the tables and used Republicans' rhetoric against them. It was unacceptable when Republicans did it, and it's unacceptable for Dems to do it, too. Whenever it happens, it needs to be called out.

Look at me, ma, I can talk like Karl Rove, too! Pathetic.

By Greg Sargent  |  July 28, 2010; 10:20 AM ET
Categories:  Foreign policy and national security , House Dems , House GOPers  
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Next: Dem memo: No, we won't lose the House

Comments

Has anyone seen any analysis on who these 100 Dems are? It would be interesting to put their districts on a map, perhaps along with some info about the district.

"Dems who favor continuing the war need to resist the temptation to read from Rove's script at all costs."

I agree with that to an extent. My only critique is that the Dems NEED to govern from a position of strength. Maybe this rhetoric isn't the way, but there needs to be a way to promote the POLICY. For example, yesterday I posted a CNN interview with Fareed Zakaria in which he states point-blank:

"I think that what we have in place right now is a strategy that says Gen. [David] Petraeus [the top military commander in Afghanistan] is going to be given a year to try to stabilize the situation, and then a year from now we are going to begin a drawdown. I think that that's perfectly reasonable. I don't see any advantage to an immediate, precipitous drawdown that begins tomorrow."

http://www.cnn.com/2010/OPINION/07/27/zakaria.wikileaks.logs/index.html

The last line is important because it is true. Regardless of how you feel about the war in general, it makes NO sense -- in fact would be counter-productive -- to just up and leave.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | July 28, 2010 10:56 AM | Report abuse

Ethan, here's the roll call on the war funding vote:

http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2010/roll474.xml

I haven't dug into it much.

Posted by: suekzoo1 | July 28, 2010 11:00 AM | Report abuse

Thankfully, Hyer is in a deep red district, so this is her 15 minutes of fame. It's also likely she'd be an odious Blue Dog like Matheson, if elected.

Posted by: Calvin_Jones_and_the_13th_Apostle | July 28, 2010 11:16 AM | Report abuse

If dems start saying not supporting for the war effort = not supporting the troops is the road to hypocrisy and and the loss of the moral high ground on defense policy. It undermines the valid point that the defense dept needs a thorough review and a major reduction in appropriations. Talk about cutting of your nose to spite your face...

Posted by: srw3 | July 28, 2010 11:21 AM | Report abuse

Thanks Sue. I am shocked at how many liberals voted against the funding. Do they disagree with the strategy of letting Generals on the ground dictate a phased withdrawal?

Because that's exactly what we did under Obama in Iraq. And it has been so successful that we are ahead of schedule, I believe, in our drawdown, and as such we almost never hear about that war anymore. What would Liberals have us do instead? It really is mind-numbing to me. I'm as staunchly anti-war as anybody. But it just doesn't make any sense to me to leave in the middle of a strategy that is being executed just because you oppose the whole of the war since 2001.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | July 28, 2010 11:21 AM | Report abuse

I think what you're seeing here, more than anything else, are Democrats letting their emotions from the past get in the way.

Since, as you clearly state, the tactic during the Bush years was to tar and feather anyone who didn't support troop funding as anti-military and hating our troops -- some weak minded Democrats see these votes as a way to "get back" at Republicans.

On the flipside, one could argue that this is a way for Democrats to start trying to shed the label of anti-troops by using the same tactics that were used against them.

It's a tough call.

Posted by: Quick2822 | July 28, 2010 11:23 AM | Report abuse

@Greg:

Seconded.

I think the public will continue to sour on Afghanistan, and all I can say is: "It's about f'in time."

My hope is that the boost in troop pressure and the strategy at least give the US enough breathing room to allow for a withdrawl. If the administration sticks to the date for next year, and continously reduces the troop numbers (as he's done in Iraq), then he won't pay much of a political price.

But it's well beyond time for our soldiers to come home from both countries.

Posted by: TheBBQChickenMadness | July 28, 2010 11:28 AM | Report abuse

GOP Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah is one of only a dozen Republicans who voted against funding the Afghan war in the House yesterday. But his Democratic opponent, Karen Hyer, tells the Salt Lake Tribune that this is akin to deserting the troops:

She agrees the war should start winding down, but she said the Republican's vote against this funding was "irresponsible" and described it as "the grandstanding of an inexperienced freshman congressman."

Hyer believe the funding is necessary to continue and conclude ongoing missions.

"We should support our men in uniform who are currently in harm's way," she said.

Over 100 Democrats voted against funding the war yesterday. Are they not supporting our "men in uniform"?

......................

I agree with her statement, and I opposed the Surge that President Obama ordered.

He said, during the campaign, that he was going to step up the war efforts in Afghanistan, so the voters knew where he stood on that issue. He has set a 2011 deadline, to start drawing down the Troop levels there. I think it is wrong for Democrats to be voting to cut off funding for the forces already in the war theater, and espcially at the outset of their massive effort to oust the Taliban from Kandahar.

We will have to keep some presence in the region for the next half century at least, unless some of those Democrats who voted to cut off funding, have found some magic solution, for how we will be able to keep the Pakistan Nuclear Weapons know how, out of the hands of the extremists, once we have pulled out completely.


I urged that we not surge the Troop levels in Afghanistan, but instead set up a force of no more than 20,000 Troops in an enclave, such as we had in Iraqi Kurdistan. We could use that location as a demonstration project, and use it as a secure base to whack extremists, where ever they were to be found.

Once we had established one thriving well governed province, then we could move on to an adjacent one, and do the same thing. By then, we would be able to use some of the well trained Afghan Forces, that we had stood up, in the first safe haven, to help in the training of the forces, and government for the next region. One bite at a time America. Learn how to use long term incremental, as a part of your security arsenal.

Rotating 20,000 Troops is sustainable, and we need to get back to that, instead of burning out all of our fine young Troops with to many tours of duty.


Trying to convert all of 14th century Afghanistan, all at once, is impossible.

Reduce the force to 20,000 in one safe haven, and stay there for the long haul. At least for the next fifty years. Take the long view; something America better learn to do now, or it suffer the same fate as all those other arrogant powers who were convinced that they had all the instant global answers.

That said; it is wrong to vote to cut off the funding for the Troops, right as they are going on the offensive in Kandahar.

Posted by: Liam-still | July 28, 2010 11:33 AM | Report abuse

Seems to me that the problem is that the political climate requires that every policy position, every statement, every vote is pandering to the least, most base of the electorate. Now that the GOP has proven that truth, honesty, good faith and statesmanship have no place in our discourse, many Democrats seem to have decided that their electoral chances are better advanced by joining in the pander parade.

Posted by: cmccauley60 | July 28, 2010 11:34 AM | Report abuse

OT but Baloon Juice highlighted a story on David Koch, the financier of tea parties, CATO, Mercatus Center and other right wing anti-progressive groups in the country.

http://nymag.com/news/features/67285/

Posted by: mikefromArlington | July 28, 2010 11:37 AM | Report abuse

Another way to say it:

Let me see if I’ve got this straight:

Here we are in the smoldering ruins of an economy recently wrecked by Wall Street greed, in a country where for 30 years almost all income growth has been concentrated among the richest 1 percent of Americans (See graph to right). Rising populist anger, massive long-term unemployment and record home foreclosures serve as counterpoints to soaring corporate profits, while the Supreme Court rules that corporations are people and can spend limitless amounts of money trying to elect candidates willing to serve their interests.

Meanwhile, the Republican Party defends massive tax breaks for the wealthy while blocking aid to the unemployed, fights bitterly against regulations designed to prevent a repeat of the Wall Street meltdown, blocks legislation that would at least require corporate and special interests to identify themselves when they invest in elections and does all that while proclaiming itself to be the party of the little people.

Do I have that right? Or did somebody slip LSD into my coffee this morning? (Please, let it be the LSD. At least that will wear off eventually.)

http://blogs.ajc.com/jay-bookman-blog/2010/07/27/tumbling-down-into-the-rabbit-hole-of-modern-american-politics/

Posted by: cmccauley60 | July 28, 2010 11:37 AM | Report abuse

NYT article on the topic:

Senator Jack Reed, Democrat of Rhode Island, pointedly asked General Mattis whether he agreed that a July 2011 deadline for the start of American withdrawals from Afghanistan would mean shifting from the current troop-intensive counterinsurgency strategy to an “increasingly important emphasis” on counterterrorism. In other words, should not the United States use the date to begin moving toward a more limited strategy of hunting down insurgents without trying to rebuild Afghanistan? General Mattis quickly agreed.

“I think that is the approach, Senator,” he said.

General Mattis and two Republicans on the panel, Senator John McCain of Arizona and Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, used the occasion to denounce the leaks, which Mr. McCain said were “simply an extended footnote to a well-known reading of recent history.”

General Mattis agreed with Mr. McCain. “One of the newspaper headlines was that war is a tense and dangerous thing,” he said. “Well, if that is news, I don’t know who it’s news to that’s on this planet.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/28/world/28prexy.html

That pretty much sums it up for me.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | July 28, 2010 11:39 AM | Report abuse

@Ethan...You know I luv ya bro and I completely respect your opinion but we'll have to agree to disagree on the War.

"Regardless of how you feel about the war in general, it makes NO sense -- in fact would be counter-productive -- to just up and leave."

Actually imagine next month's casualties. And I don't mean to be melodramatic here but it's time to get REAL...imagine the mothers', fathers, wives, brothers, sisters, sons, and daughters who won't face the agony of losing a loved one! If wee left tomorrow and that casualty DID NOT OCCUR I don't suppose those people would have felt pulling out was counter productive.

Now for the 1,000th time...nobody can tell this Vietnam Vet what is so productive about our occupation of two foreign countries? If we're honest Afghanistan has been nothing but a minor tactical inconvenience for Al Qaeda. As Capt. Hoh so correctly pointed out they can just move to Somalia..or to..or to...

We didn't invade Sicily to fight the criminal conspiracy of the Mafia. Invading all these other nations has produced nothing on the war on terror...
great police work HAS FOILED several plots. It is a police, intelligence problem not a military one. When Al Qaeda sails over the horizon on the Gulf of Mexico then I'll ask for the 101st Airborne.

Oh BTW there were at least a couple of "productive" results from our invasion of Iraq. Coincidentally enough our VP Cheney and our Secy of Defense Rumsfeld became wealthy beyond all imagination...thanks to the war...or should I say fortuitously because of the war..or perhaps COINCIDENTALLY because of the war.

Posted by: rukidding7 | July 28, 2010 11:45 AM | Report abuse

Ethan, I will confess to having mixed and conflicted feelings. I don't think the answer is to withhold funding of troops in the field, hence I disagree with voting no. We can get them out of there in 24 hours. It's going to take some time.

OTOH, the mission has been nebulous, and the July 2011 withdrawal date has been squishy lately, so I can understand a "no" vote in context of renewing the debate about what we intend to accomplish, and really, what is even possible. There is a lot of legitimate argument to be made that we are wasting our time and resources in Afghanistan. It seems quite hopeless a lot of the time. But then I ran across this chart that I linked to last night (via Andrew Sullivan), and found it at least a little interesting:

http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/.a/6a00d83451c45669e20133f297c602970b-popup

Posted by: suekzoo1 | July 28, 2010 11:45 AM | Report abuse

Ethan One last thought. No I'm afraid I do not trust the Generals. They are well intentioned patriots who have a glaring conflict of interest. IT IS THERE JOB TO FIGHT WARS. If there is no war they have no job. Am I implying that they deliberately set out to create work for themselves...NO! I'm simply suggesting that in the history of this great country the Generals have been very consistent in their evaluations...GIVE US MORE TROOPS AND MATERIAL. That is always how a general sees it.

The Generals in Vietnam said pretty much the same stuff as McChrystal and Petraues.
It's simply DEJA VU.

Posted by: rukidding7 | July 28, 2010 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Another OT.

"Like a mantra, officials from both the Bush and Obama administrations have trumpeted how the government’s sweeping interventions to prop up the economy since 2008 helped avert a second Depression....

The paper, by Alan S. Blinder, a Princeton professor and former vice chairman of the Fed, and Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, represents a first stab at comprehensively estimating the effects of the economic policy responses of the last few years."

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/28/business/economy/28bailout.html?_r=2

Posted by: mikefromArlington | July 28, 2010 11:50 AM | Report abuse

Greg,

Agree in principle that Dems should not copy the Rove playbook here. But:

1. You cite a hastily issued DNC press release - a mistake, to be sure, but so far as I know has not been repeated - and the statement of one Dem candidate (in a deep red district), to warn all 'Democrats' not to follow Rove. Seems to me that is an overreach. Democrats writ large are not following Rove. Major difference with a Republican effort during the Iraq war where same talking points were used relentlessly by all GOP Members and candidates.

2. Let's face it, Jason Chaffetz IS an irresponsible and grandstanding MOC. Remember his embarrassing floor exchange with a retiring Dem MOC (Bart Gordon?) who he implied was supporting the financial reform bill out of brazen self interest, and then meekly backed down when the Dem MOC challenged him on the floor? That doesn't make it right to slime Chaffetz' vote on Afghan funding, but again, some perspective please.

Posted by: BillB10 | July 28, 2010 11:51 AM | Report abuse

Here's a number I'm glad we didn't see.

"If the fiscal stimulus alone had been enacted, and not the financial measures, they concluded, real G.D.P. would have fallen 5 percent last year, with 12 million jobs lost. But if only the financial measures had been enacted, and not the stimulus, real G.D.P. would have fallen nearly 4 percent, with 10 million jobs lost. "

Posted by: mikefromArlington | July 28, 2010 11:53 AM | Report abuse

"Thanks Sue. I am shocked at how many liberals voted against the funding. Do they disagree with the strategy of letting Generals on the ground dictate a phased withdrawal?"

Nine years later? People have lost patience. People do not believe that the "Generals on the ground" are interested in "dictating" a "phased withdrawal". Military leaders know that their interest lies solely in winning fights. They never have the incentive to withdraw from battle.

The US has a system of government where the civilian leadership is supposed to pick which fights are fought, and the generals are tasked with winning the fight. Right now, it's not clear exactly what the goals are in Afghanistan.

In Afghanistan, as in Iraq, there is a lot of rhetoric about "fighting terrorism", but that doesn't seem like exactly what's going on. And as for the story about how we are withdrawing from Iraq, there is a lot of suspicion that the way the policy is being defined, we will only see regular army troops replaced by high-cost mercenaries. (Mercenaries who are, FWIW, not subject to military justice and who tend to exacerbate the problems in the areas they work.)
Our discussions about the war are conducted on such a facile level that it certainly is useful for people to vote against continued, endless funding. The war in Afghanistan is now the longest war in US history. The US participation in WWII took less than 4 years. We're well past twice that in Afghanistan.
The ongoing war has taken on a grotesque nature. It costs a ton of money, but the US doesn't commit a lot of troops because no political leader wants to make the case that the war is so important that we need a draft. So we're stuck in a place where there's a heavy political cost against a serious escalation, but also a cost against walking away from the war. So we are left with a war with unstated, ill-defined goals.
Small wonder we're not accomplishing very much.

Posted by: rick_desper | July 28, 2010 11:54 AM | Report abuse

One last bit out of that article.

""In a new paper, the economists argue that without the Wall Street bailout, the bank stress tests, the emergency lending and asset purchases by the Federal Reserve, and the Obama administration’s fiscal stimulus program, the nation’s gross domestic product would be about 6.5 percent lower this year.

In addition, there would be about 8.5 million fewer jobs, on top of the more than 8 million already lost; and the economy would be experiencing deflation, instead of low inflation. "

Another 8.5 million on top of the 8 million lost. Ouch.

Posted by: mikefromArlington | July 28, 2010 12:01 PM | Report abuse

Great analysis rick_desper!

Posted by: rukidding7 | July 28, 2010 12:02 PM | Report abuse

I thought it was interesting that about the same number of Democrats seem to have voted against the bill before and after the senate stripped out the $20 billion in unrelated spending that the House had larded it up with. I'd be curious to learn if it was the same people in both cases.

Posted by: CalD | July 28, 2010 12:02 PM | Report abuse

BLUE STATERS SPREAD THE WORD. LET US HELP GET JUSTICE FOR OUR FELLOW AMERICANS, IN THE RED GULF COAST STATES.

ProPublica. Journalism In The Public Interest;

Needs to hear from people who have filed claims with BP, in order to compile a record of those complaints have been handled.

Contact ProPublica at:

http://www.propublica.org/article/have-you-filed-a-claim-with-bp

" Readers, we need your help. It’s time to examine the massive claims operation set up by BP for damages from the Gulf oil spill.

The gushing pipe has been capped. More than 100,000 claims have been filed. So far, BP has paid less than a third of the claims it has received, and spent a little over $200 million, about 1 percent of the $20 billion that it set aside in an escrow account to pay damages. In less than two weeks, an independent claims administrator appointed by President Barack Obama -- Kenneth Feinberg -- will take over the claims process from BP.

We could take BP at its word that it will pay all “legitimate” claims, and trust the administration’s assurances that the people of the Gulf will be made whole. We think it’s better to shine some sunlight on the process.

That’s where you come in.

If you’ve filed a claim with BP, please share details of your experience with ProPublica’s reporters using this form [1]. (This post is also available in Spanish [2] and Vietnamese [3].) A reporter may follow up with you by phone, and we’ll make it easy for you to share documents and records with our newsroom.

If you haven’t filed a claim, you can help ProPublica find claimants by doing your own outreach – tweet this, post it to Facebook, send it out to a local listserv …

BP’s data show that it has returned more than half of submitted claims because they “lack enough information for BP to make a payment.” In most of those cases, it has told people that they have to provide more documentation to prove that their claim is legitimate.

News reports have also spotlighted problems like translation difficulties between BP adjusters and Vietnamese fishermen working off the Louisiana coast. Some claims offices are hard to find. Bartenders, deckhands and other workers who earn their salaries in hard cash can’t easily document their earnings. As we have reported, repeated changes made to procedures for filing county claims have frustrated county officials.

These problems are real, but not easily put into perspective. When are people being told they need to send more documents? Just how serious -- or trivial -- are the procedural changes? Who has been paid, and who hasn’t?

Getting a handle on an operation this big and complex requires talking to more than a handful of people. We want to cast a wide net to try to figure out which parts of the claims system are working and which ones aren’t, so we can add some accountability to the process.

If you’ve filed a claim with BP, share details with ProPublica’s reporters using this form [1]."

Posted by: Liam-still | July 28, 2010 12:08 PM | Report abuse

I hear ya RUK and Sue.

We started the withdrawal in roughly Feb 2009. So that is 17 months from Feb 2009 to the target date (for a bootprint of 50k troops) of Sept 2010.

I believe Obama's plan gives the military and state department one year to: implement a troop surge, re-focus the policy from COIN to counter-terrorism, and implement civilian surge to establish as much stability as possible in country. At that point, we start the phased withdrawal.

That makes sense to me. Regardless of the end-date, perhaps we can agree that we need to change from COIN to C-T asap, before we withdrawal a single soldier. And that will take some time no matter what.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | July 28, 2010 12:13 PM | Report abuse

Dems circulate new memo arguing why they won't lose the House:

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/plum-line/2010/07/dem_memo_no_we_wont_lose_the_h.html

Posted by: Greg Sargent | July 28, 2010 12:18 PM | Report abuse

@ls:That said; it is wrong to vote to cut off the funding for the Troops, right as they are going on the offensive in Kandahar.

Hey Liam, agree on pt 1, totally disagree on point 2. I think that Obama has left the reality based community if he thinks that he can create any kind of democracy in a country with a 90% illiteracy rate, no infrstructure to speak of, 14th century religious and cultural practices, and a totally porous border on every side.

I am more with with your suggestion earlier in your post suggesting to start small in a province where we are not reviled as infidel invaders and build out slowly, showing incremental successes over years, not months and slowly expanding the rule of law, 20th if not 21 century infrastructure and economic activity, some semblance of representative government, etc. This model gets expanded when the population in the next province requests that this kind of governance be introduced in their province. Going into Kandahar, where we are regarded as imperialist storm troopers and killing hundreds or thousands of civilians to try and eliminate the taliban (who are after all mostly Pastuns like the rest of the province) has no real possibility of success. Each innocent killed creates 2 more taliban fighters. It is shocking that the military leaders would agree to sacrifice our troops in this fatally flawed strategy. It is disappointing that Obama is promoting this strategy. I know he needs to up his national security cred to guard against the inevitable republican disinformation campaign about dems being soft on defense and willing to cut and run, etc., but another embarrassing failure to "pacify" Kandahar won't do it.

@ rick_desper--you are so right. With no shared sacrifice, the vast majority of the American people are not experiencing the horror of war, and are much more willing to "fight on" because their kids are in college and not in Kandahar.

Posted by: srw3 | July 28, 2010 12:24 PM | Report abuse

Oh and RUK, I'm with you that my heart goes out to the troops and their families.

We never should have occupied Afghanistan or Iraq in the first place. And, re: Afghanistan, it is clear that it was under-funded and under-resourced for the critical lost 'middle years' of 2004-2006 and perhaps straight through to Obama's initial surge upon taking office and then 2nd surge more recently.

How these two wars have been handled by the Republicans is a total disgrace to America, to our military, our troops, their families, and the American people.

And that is why I think that the Dems have an opportunity here to make that clear to the public. That is also why I agree with Greg that these Rovian statements are not helpful. While this is my opinion, I also agree with Fareed Zakaria's statement that I posted above in which he declares immediate withdrawal would not be advantageous. There must be a middle position that can be argued from strength. I believe that COIN -> C-T then phased withdrawal is the best way to go, and Dems who agree need to get on that messaging asap before they lose that position of strength.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | July 28, 2010 12:25 PM | Report abuse

If we succeed in driving the Taliban out of Kandahar, which is their stronghold, then we should stay there for at least half a century. Forget about the rest of Afhganistan. Stay in Kandahar, and take fifty years to convert it into a thriving well governed Province, with a well trained and effective military and police force. Keep twenty thousand troops stationed there, so that the Taliban can not return, so the Elders will feel secure enough to work with us.

Assign civilian and military personnel to stay there and work with the tribal leaders, for at least ten year stints at a time. What the hell is the point in having a tribal elder getting comfortable with some military contacts, who leave after just one year, and the whole relationship has to be started all over with the new guy, who will be gone after just another twelve months. Put yourself in the tribal elder's position; would you feel good about having to go through that every year? Of course not. It is a stupid practice, which makes me think that leaving the planning of such out reach programs, up to guys like McChrstyal is a big mistake.

Posted by: Liam-still | July 28, 2010 12:27 PM | Report abuse

Those of you who want to activate and target Democrats who support the war should remember our President and his national security team support it.

Posted by: slatt321 | July 28, 2010 12:42 PM | Report abuse

Again, liam, why not start in a province where we are not regarded as infidel foreign invaders out to kill their tribal brothers and sisters? where is the sense in that?
If there aren't any provinces like that, then we just need to have an orderly phased withdrawal
I agree that especially in this culture, more permanent placements would fit with the local culture. 1 year rotations means starting all over again. Of course, this only one of the many problems encountered when attempting to nation build in a country firmly rooted in the 14th century.

Posted by: srw3 | July 28, 2010 12:43 PM | Report abuse

Taking military pressure off gihadists in their home regions is not a good idea. Neither is a Vietnam-style escalation to prop up a corrupt regime.

The only answer left is for NATO to be the harasser of the Taliban element, not the occupier of Afghanistan

- Balkingpoints / www

Posted by: RField7 | July 28, 2010 12:58 PM | Report abuse

I supported Obama when he ran for President, and I still do. But his position on Afghanistan has always been my biggest reservation about him.

(1) If the goal is phased withdrawal, then start a phased withdrawal. Don't put more American military men and women into the country.

(2) If the goal is something other than phased withdrawal, please define what that goal is, and explain how we know it will be accomplished.

(3) As for members of Congress, they don't get to vote on tactical decisions or deployment of troops. They get to vote on funding. If a member of Congress is uncomfortable with utter absence of a definable goal for our mission in Afghanistan, his or her only real option is to vote against funding. If Congress has a whole refused to back the funding, it doesn't mean our troops would not receive support. It means the Administration would have to develop a plan (for withdrawal, or for a clear, defined mission) that the American people, through their elected representatives, would agree to fund.

A vote against the funding isn't a vote against the troops. It is a vote against the current "mission" (or absence of a mission) in Afghanistan. That is a completely responsible vote for a member of Congress.

Posted by: bearclaw1 | July 28, 2010 1:00 PM | Report abuse

@bearclaw

I'm with you about not liking Pres. (or candidate) Obama's plans for Afghanistan. Though I wouldn't say it gives me any "reservations"...I've accepted the fact that unless I run for office myself, I'm never going to agree 100% with any political candidate. That's simply part of democracy.

I don't like it, but it was acceptable when compared to someone who would have continued to ignore Afghanistan and not drawn down troops in Iraq.

Posted by: TheBBQChickenMadness | July 28, 2010 1:11 PM | Report abuse

"If the goal is something other than phased withdrawal, please define what that goal is, and explain how we know it will be accomplished."

The goal is defined as a shift FROM counter-insurgency (COIN) and nation-building TO counter-terrorism then phased withdrawal starting July 2011.

A serious question for anyone calling for immediate withdrawal:

Do you believe so strongly in an immediate withdrawal that you will sacrifice the opportunity to have a strong, developed counter-terrorism policy?

I, personally, think it would be a big mistake to take the pressure off AQ because the war is unpopular at home.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | July 28, 2010 1:16 PM | Report abuse

Again, liam, why not start in a province where we are not regarded as infidel foreign invaders out to kill their tribal brothers and sisters? where is the sense in that?
If there aren't any provinces like that, then we just need to have an orderly phased withdrawal
I agree that especially in this culture, more permanent placements would fit with the local culture. 1 year rotations means starting all over again. Of course, this only one of the many problems encountered when attempting to nation build in a country firmly rooted in the 14th century.

Posted by: srw3 |
..............


Because Kandahar is the Province where The Taliban rule from, and control the heroin production and trafficking. Take that away from them, and you are well on your way to making them mostly impotent.

You want to pick someplace in Afghanistan where we will be greeted with open arms. Such a place does not exist, so that is why I picked Kandahar as the place to set up a long term base of operations.

Never forget the Tribal nature of the Afghanistan. The Taliban in Kandahar are mostly Pashtuns, and once you deprive them of Kandahar, they will find it almost impossible to take over some other tribal region.

Like Willie Sutton said; when asked why he robbed banks: "Because that is where they keep the money", if we are going to pacify and develop a flourishing demonstration enclave in Afghanistan, Kandahar is the best location to set up shop.

It allows us to evict The Strongest Element of the Afghanistan based Taliban, and put our development plans into practice, where it will do the most good, and give us the best bang for our long term security buck.

Posted by: Liam-still | July 28, 2010 1:16 PM | Report abuse

Yes, but when Rove did it--and is doing it again state to state now--neither you nor any national reporter challenged the offensive technique. You and the MSM don't do it now on domestic policy and the same scary tactics used by Republicans...they are all playing out of Rove's playbook...every single Republican Congressional leader. So I think you are nit-picking here big time.

Posted by: walden1 | July 28, 2010 1:26 PM | Report abuse

Wow, what a sad reheat of the same tired rhetoric that was prevalent during the Left's anti-bush/anti-iraq tantrum.

Two questions:
(1) What's wrong with winning kids? Why do liberals have sooo much trouble with simply committing to win the war?

(2) How does it feel to be on the recieving end of anti war angst? some of you guys better be careful lest Medea Benjamin catch wind of what you're saying here.

during the Iraq war I argue for a long term presence for the our military in that country. The left would have none of it. Even though our track record with countries that we garrison is excellent, the liberals demanded that all American troops leave. That position made zero sense then and makes even less now.

I agree with the idea of occupying Kandahar. COIN is hard work and takes a long time having a long term presence is the only way to do this effectively.

further, why not by a map of the region and seek to understand a grander strategy here. The main source of Islamic inspired sorrow and woe is Iran. With a military presence in both Iraq and A stan we have a logistics edge that the Iranians cannot ignore. We should stay in both countries for a good long time.

Posted by: skipsailing28 | July 28, 2010 1:27 PM | Report abuse

Remember this, if something is fishy sounding that, "All smells lead to Rove!"

Posted by: AverageJane | July 28, 2010 1:29 PM | Report abuse

the only chance dems have is to convince americans that opposition to obama and his unpopular policies is driven by racism or so-called "fear of the other". unfortunately, this means charging 55 to 60% of americans with racism, since that is how unpopular essentially ALL of his policies, foreign and domsetic, are.

how good the dems are at convincing independents they are racist, rather than obama is (gasp) simply wrong on the issues, will determine the outcome and be the legacy of the 2010.

come on americans, dont let race card playing win the day! vote for a check on power in Washington!

Posted by: dummypants | July 28, 2010 1:33 PM | Report abuse

This is an important piece on Kandahar:

Poor security, lack of government challenge Kandahar operation

http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2010/07/27/98235/poor-security-lack-of-government.html

Read it all.

The most mission-critical aspect of COIN is "clear, hold, build."

You simply cannot "build" without support from the central government and provincial governments. Right now we have neither.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | July 28, 2010 1:39 PM | Report abuse

Liam-still, Kandahar was indeed the stronghold of the Taliban when the Taliban overtly governed Afghanistan. It's indeed one of the operational areas for the Taliban, under the Quetta Regional Military Shura of the overall Quetta Shura (QST). Command, however, appears to either be in Quetta or Karachi, both in Pakistan.

The Taliban is not monolithic; Pakistani Taliban are based in the FATA and only loosely associated with QST. Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin and the Haqqani Network certainly are major fighting elements of QST, but also have some autonomy.

Ethan2010, the Taliban do not equal Al-Qaeda. Unquestionably, the Taliban have some AQ guests, but many of the recent AQ operations appear to be coming out of the "affiliates" such as AQ in the Arabian Peninsula (Yemen) and AQ in the Islamic Maghreb (North Africa, probably Algeria). AQ in Iraq has been significantly degraded since Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was killed in 2006, and leadership of the Islamic State of Iraq captured in 2009.

By all means, have a counterterrorism strategy against AQ. It's best, however, to focus on where AQ and affiliates are, not where they have been.

Posted by: HCBerkowitz | July 28, 2010 1:48 PM | Report abuse

Ethan, that's just wrong. Of course we can clear, build and hold without the central government. This isn't western Europe, it is A stan. Basically that amounts to Karzai in Kabul and then every man for himself in the hinterlands.

We learned a lot in Iraq and those lessons will bear fruit in A stan. In Iraq we adopted different approaches for different provinces. We certainly can do the same thing this time around.

Posted by: skipsailing28 | July 28, 2010 1:50 PM | Report abuse

Failing to use the Republicans' tactics against them will only result in kneecapping our own side. Sorry Greg, I know it's ugly, but welcome to American Politics circa 2010.

Posted by: blazertaco | July 28, 2010 1:51 PM | Report abuse

What did Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld win in Iraq! Not a damn thing. It is still more screwed up today, than it was before The Bush/Cheney Stupid Invasion.

Further more, Iran has been strengthened and emboldened by the massive stupidity of Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld in Iraq.

Their idiotic invasion of Iraq, followed up with no occupation plans in place, caused them to let Afghanistan fester, and allowed the Taliban to reconstitute, then return, stronger and better financed and equipped, than ever.

Remember when The Bush/Cheney fan club of Neo-Con Chicken Hawks, were all levitating, with excitement over the coming flowering of Democracy in Syria and Iran, because of the wonderful example that was being set in Iraq. Hah!!!

Has Richard Perle revealed yet, the location of the Square in Baghdad, that the people of Iraq have renamed George W. Bush Square, to honor him for having transformed their nation into a veritable Paradise?

Surely it must be crowded every day, with ordinary citizens of Iraq, thronging there to pay homage to Bush, Their Great Liberator.

I imagine that they have festooned the place with all those flowers and sweets that Dick Cheney did not manage to have Halliburton deliver in time, for to greet us, when we first invaded.

Posted by: Liam-still | July 28, 2010 1:59 PM | Report abuse

The Right Wing seems to always miss the difference between Iraq, a country that had nothing to do with the 911 attacks, and Afghanistan, where the 911 attacks were planned from and where the perpetrator of those attacks continues to hide to this day.

Most on the Left have always supported the war in Afghanistan to some degree, it was the misguided occupation of Iraq that we disliked. Rightfully so.

Anyone, Republican or Democrat, who is voting against Afghanistan funding, is inviting future attacks on America from that region. At some point a superpower is going to have to pacify that nation or we all risk an eternity of terrorism. And I'm no screaming Teabagger, that's just a fact.

Posted by: blazertaco | July 28, 2010 2:00 PM | Report abuse

Ethan You brought up two very good points and as someone from the anti war..get the hell out now side I'd like to respond.

Do you believe so strongly in an immediate withdrawal that you will sacrifice the opportunity to have a strong, developed counter-terrorism policy?

With all due respect Ethan..neither you nor Skip have a scintilla of evidence that there is an opportunity for a "strong, developed counter-terrorism policy" created by continued occupation of Afghanistan. There has been no single plot foiled by our military in Afghan or Iraq..there have been numerous plots since 9/11 ALL FOILED by quality law enforcement and intelligence...NOT MILITARY POWER.

I, personally, think it would be a big mistake to take the pressure off AQ because the war is unpopular at home.

There is NO pressure on Al Qaeda because of our presence in Afghanistan. The Taliban are not Al Qaeda. They may sympathize with Al Qaeda as do many others in the region...but they are NOT SYNONYMOUS with Al Q. Again as Matthew Hoh wrote so presciently in his resignation letter Al Q just moves when we invade. It's nothing more than a tactical inconvenience.

We have a plague of black flies on the U.P. of Michigan and most far northern climes in the months of June and July.
Generally we sit around with fly swatters to combat the evil insects and their painful bites. We could use sledge hammers but it probably wouldn't be as effective. Same thing in Afghanistan. We have pulled out the sledgehammers to fight a pesky bunch of irritating insects.

BTW our Defense Budget has reached disgraceful proportions and it has a direct bearing on our financial difficulties. We spend more THAN THE NEXT SEVEN COUNTRIES COMBINED on defense. What is that about? We are not smart enough to defend ourselves without spending more than the next seven countries combined?

The real battle is economic not military.
While we continue to have Billy the wuss Kristol's bluster and Sister Sarah's suggestion that we better be thinking about the need to attack Iran should it become necessary, the Chinese are kicking our butts with green energy investment and economic focus NOT MILITARY FOCUS!!!

It's the freaking 21st Century...not the 20th Century..when are we going to wake up and smell the coffee?

Posted by: rukidding7 | July 28, 2010 2:02 PM | Report abuse

@HCBerkowitz

I know all that, but we are discussing what can be done in Afghanistan, and where to concentrate our finite military and financial resources. Pakistan is an entirely different situation, since we are not allowed to send in Troops to the regions in Pakistan where the Taliban have their strongholds. However we could continue to pulverise them, provided we set up a safe haven demonstration province in Afghanistan. I think Kandahar is the best place to start that long term project, since it would allow us to greatly disrupt The Taliban and deprive them of most of their access to the heroin trade.

Posted by: Liam-still | July 28, 2010 2:09 PM | Report abuse

@liam:You want to pick someplace in Afghanistan where we will be greeted with open arms. Such a place does not exist, so that is why I picked Kandahar as the place to set up a long term base of operations.

I didn't mean to say open arms, I said not treated like infidel invaders (see above). If a place like that doesn't exist, then we need the orderly withdrawal.

Kandahar is the place where the US is the most hated. Couldn't we go for a place where we are simply disliked?

Using the US military to fight a local insurgency and nation build in a place where 99% of the population is 1)related to your adversary and 2) thinks you are out to destroy their culture and society and impose "western" values on them is just not going to work even if we stay for 50 years.

The only thing I agree with Bush about is that trying to nation build primarily with the US military is just not going to work, even if we try really hard not to kill thousands of innocent civilians (who don't want us there).

@ss28: (1) What's wrong with winning kids? Why do liberals have sooo much trouble with simply committing to win the war?

Nothing if there was any possibility of "winning". Liberals mostly (some on the far extreme of leftmoonbatistan, were opposed to the war) had no trouble supporting WWII when we were begged by Britain and France to come help them repel invaders. It was in fact the Lindburghs and others on the right that opposed entering WWII. I haven't seen any evidence of everyday Afghanis (as opposed to a few elites in Kabul) begging for US troops to come in and pacify their country. History shows precious few insurgencies that have been successfully rooted out and replaced with more representative governments when foreigners who don't understand the language, culture or traditions are the ones doing the rooting out. The stand up/ stand down fantasy is just like the Vietnamization strategy and will have the same outcome, failure. I am happy to see the list of successful interventions that follow this model, but I can't think of a single one now.

@ss28; I agree with the idea of occupying Kandahar. COIN is hard work and takes a long time having a long term presence is the only way to do this effectively.

Just wondering what you propose to do to pay for the trillions of dollars such an effort would entail? Oh, right deficit spend and then rail about the deficit and suggest balancing the budget on the backs of the working class and unemployed. It's the Bush magic (deficits don't count when waging war, but do when helping the unemployed) fairy in da house.

"The main source of Islamic inspired sorrow and woe is Iran. "

Actually most of the money for the radical Madrassas around the world comes from our friends the Saudis, where BTW most of the 911 terrorists were from. Very few muslim school and mosques are hotbeds of radicalism, but the Saudis often push radical Wahabism in the developing world. Just sayin'

Posted by: srw3 | July 28, 2010 2:09 PM | Report abuse

Greg, I'm just going to note that VP Biden, President Obama, and others in top leadership in the White House have called Afghanistan "a war of necessity" and a war we must win. Hyer is staking her claim on the belief that continuing the military effort in Afghanistan is the right, and necessary, approach.

What's more worth noting, above all, is that Republican support for Afghanistan is fracturing, and that military contractors and lobbyists are lining up behind the gravy train. They know that a Democrat is in the White House. They will support the Democrats IF they can see that supporting a Democrat in the White House is going to help their business.

Obama specifically doubled-down on the war effort in the region. He specifically said he was going to escalate the military presence there, knowing the score, the history, and the stakes in the region.

Biden was in Nashville just a couple weeks ago, touting the war in Afghanistan as a war of necessity and arguing that we need to raise revenue to pay for it.

This is the Democratic Party's tack. It's their strategy. With Kennedy and Byrd dead and few voices ready or willing to fill that void, I think you will probably see and hear more of this.

So that's that.

It's not Karl Rove's war anymore. But that doesn't mean that Obama or Democrats aren't going to support it.

Posted by: benintn | July 28, 2010 2:12 PM | Report abuse

We learned a lot in Iraq

Posted by: skipsailing28 | July 28, 2010 1:50 PM | Report abuse "

4k dead American troops and a devastated and unstable nation in the heart of the Middle East were a small price to pay.

Posted by: blazertaco | July 28, 2010 2:17 PM | Report abuse

Anyone, Republican or Democrat, who is voting against Afghanistan funding, is inviting future attacks on America from that region. At some point a superpower is going to have to pacify that nation or we all risk an eternity of terrorism. And I'm no screaming Teabagger, that's just a fact.

Posted by: blazertaco | July 28, 2010 2:00 PM |

We invaded Afghanistan because people affiliated with Al Qaeda attacked the U.S. on 9/11. As others on this thread have pointed out, Al Qaeda is stateless -- they have simply moved on to other countries. Our presence in Afghanistan does nothing -- zero, zip, nada -- to decrease the potential for a future Al Qaeda attack.

We are currently fighting various indigenous forces in Afghanistan loosely referred to as "Taliban." If you believe we can "defeat" indigenous insurgents, I urge you to read the book "April 1865." It describes the end of the Civil War, and the concern of Union generals that Confederate forces would not surrender, but would choose to fight as a diffuse insurgency across the South, particularly in the mountains. They understood, 145 years ago, that you could not "defeat" such an insurgency, fighting on its home ground.

And what do we get if we do manage to "defeat" the Taliban? Bragging rights? Ownership of weak and corrupt central government in a country most Americans couldn't locate with a map and a magnifying glass?

Al Qaeda attacked us. They'd like to do so again. Let's go after them by appropriate means where they are now, not where they were 9 years ago.

Posted by: bearclaw1 | July 28, 2010 2:25 PM | Report abuse

@blazertaco: At some point a superpower is going to have to pacify that nation or we all risk an eternity of terrorism.

Tell that to the Russians (who at least had control of adjacent territory to get troops and material in), the British, and so on back to the Mongols.

Shall we pacify them the way we pacified Vietnam? See my post to skippy on the very short list (approximately zero) of successful counterinsurgencies conducted by a bunch of foreigners from across the world who don't speak the language or understand the culture. Even rich foreigners with superior weapons, lots of money, etc. have a very difficult time prevailing.

And, what is your suggestion for paying the trillions of dollars it will cost to maintain a large army half way across the world? Are you ready to have a draft or personally volunteer to go and participate in the grand nation building experiment? I didn't think so...

@ss28: We learned a lot in Iraq and those lessons will bear fruit in A stan.

You make it sound like Iraq is some kind of success story for American intervention. It might look that way from your plantation in farrightwingnutistan, but here in the reality based community Iraq is just above abject failure, hovering around mostly a disaster. Success in Iraq currently looks like a Shiite dominated government with close ties to iran, seething ethnic tension between Sunnis and Shiites just below the surface, that was only temporarily lessened with millions in bribes to the "sons of Iraq" to keep them pretending that they didn't support the insurgency, a Kurdistan province with much of the country's oil wealth autonomous in all but name, kidnapping, routine Iraqi police and army torture of their opponents, ~1 million internally displaced refugees and 2x that in refugees outside the country, etc.

I can't wait for that kind of success in Afghanistan.

And again, where is the historical evidence that an invading army can successfully root out a locally based insurgency? How do you propose to pay for this kind of multi decade committment?

Posted by: srw3 | July 28, 2010 2:31 PM | Report abuse

@srw3

We can not abandon the region completely, like you are suggesting, because the Extremists will over run Pakistan, and get a hold of the nuclear technology. They would use it. That we know about them. They are not really religious. They are just using that excuse to gain support. Their leadership is just a collection of power mad, homicidal maniacs.

We have to maintain a long term base of operations there, regardless of if you and I like the idea or not. That is why I proposed doing what we were doing very successfully in Iraqi Kurdistan, until Boy Blunder was handed the keys to White House, by the Right Wing Activist Supreme Court.

We had Saddam contained in a cage, but that was not good enough for Boy Blunder. He had to enter the cage and jump on The Tiger's back. That was the easy part.

We are still trying to figure out how to dismount and get out of the cage, without getting mauled to death.

Posted by: Liam-still | July 28, 2010 2:35 PM | Report abuse

@liam:We can not abandon the region completely, like you are suggesting, because the Extremists will over run Pakistan, and get a hold of the nuclear technology.

What makes you think that we can somehow protect Pakistan from the pashtuns allied with the taliban that actually live in pakistan? The longer we stay, the less popular the central government in pakistan becomes with a large minority of the population. Every time a drone missle kills a bunch of civilians in a Pashtun area on either side of the afpak border, more radical taliban jihadis spring from the ashes. Can't you see that?

I would ask the same question of you that I asked of ss28: Show me the list of successful counterinsurgencies that were: -funded by foreign powers,
-conducted primarily by foreign troops who don't speak the language or understand the culture,
-conducted and directed by a country half a world away that uses deficit spending to fund trillions of dollars of military spending? Anyone?

Posted by: srw3 | July 28, 2010 2:54 PM | Report abuse

I notice that ss28 is in run away mode. Apparently he can't come up with the list of successful counterinsrugencies conducted by foreigners from half way around the world. I would contrast that with the list of failing or failed attempts: Vietnam, Algeria, Morocco... Feel free to chime in here....

Posted by: srw3 | July 28, 2010 2:57 PM | Report abuse

END the Socialist Republican foreign civil wars of adventure - NOW!

They only serve to give Red China and Red Russia cheap resources at the cost of American blood, toil, and tears!

JUST SAY NO!

Posted by: WillSeattle | July 28, 2010 2:59 PM | Report abuse

Ethan2010 said -
"The last line is important because it is true. Regardless of how you feel about the war in general, it makes NO sense -- in fact would be counter-productive -- to just up and leave."

---------------------------------

Leaving Viet Nam made no sense - communists took over, the domino effect was expected, refugees poured into the U.S. But I, for one, think it was best for the U.S to get out when it did, in any shape or form. And the withdrawal was precipitated by a budget vote in Congress.

Posted by: LifeBeforePrinciple | July 28, 2010 2:59 PM | Report abuse

yeah, this is the same old reheated mishmash of liberal fantasy and incorrect thinking.

I asked a simple question: what's wrong with winning? I love this answer:
"Nothing if there was any possibility of "winning".

Just delicious and a perfect example of the attitude of liberals. We can't win, they say, because we believe we can't win. As I recall, that's called a self fulfilling prophesy. Just too funny.

and of course we won in Iraq. Didn't you hear Joe Biden say so? did you miss that?

My definition of winning in Iraq was this: the war disappears from the media. It has because we won. No liberal wants to admit that. Look how you've ignored Biden. So of course the journolist inspired chain gang that is our "press" will ignore the story.

And yes, we did COIN quite well in Iraq. So well in fact that the author of the strategy was recently praised and promoted by none other than your boy Barrack. You're not disagreeing with him are you? I didn't think so!

the closed minded liberal position on this is hardly surprising. Since you boys and girls convinced yourself that Iraq was unwinnable, you MUST find a way to lie to your self about it now. Even if that means disagreeing with the president you worship and his mouthpiece Mr Bite me.

And again, no one has made a serious dent in my position: when America garrisons a region it gets better. Having a garrison presence in Iraq makes sense. The liberals can't tolerate that because they painted themselves into an intellectually dishonest corner during their temper tantrum.

Having a garrison presence in A stan makes sense too. But since liberals hate the military, that's got to be something you dishonestly oppose.

srw3, name calling does nothing to improve your very weak argument. You must have very little faith in your positions if you feel the need to resort to school yard stuff. If you sincerely believed what you say, the name calling would be unnecessary.

and of course the last resort of liberal scoundrels is "how ya gonna pay for it?". Permit a translation: We're so busy confiscating money from productive people and giving it to non productive people that we simply can't be bothered with that silly constitutional notion of providing for the common defense.

Posted by: skipsailing28 | July 28, 2010 3:04 PM | Report abuse

@liam:We are still trying to figure out how to dismount and get out of the cage, without getting mauled to death.

And what is your suggestion for getting out of the Afghani cage without getting mauled? Simply riding the tiger (current policy) isn't cutting it. Going more death-from-above on the Afghani population isn't going to work. I hate the backward looking, woman hating, taliban as much as the next post enlightenment human, but creating generations of enemies doesn't seem like a solution. And what is your funding stream for this 50 year occupation?

Posted by: srw3 | July 28, 2010 3:07 PM | Report abuse

Now if you are going to go all stupid on me, I am not going to continue to reply to you. I told you that I wanted to maintain a base of operations in Afghanistan, just like we had in Iraqi Kurdistan.

Stop with your strawman nonsense. You are smarter than that. Just go back and read all my comments on this thread, and all your questions will be answered. I said that I did not want to abandon the region, and leave it to the extremists, because of the nukes in Pakistan.

You are the one who keeps urging for a complete withdrawal, so answer your own question, since it does not apply to my stance, what so ever.

Posted by: Liam-still | July 28, 2010 3:15 PM | Report abuse

Voting for or against funds for war has little to do with supporting or not supporting troops, it is a statement of whether one believes the war is in the interest of the US. I personally believe that the US simply cannot afford to walk away from the region and let the Taliban return to power. That is the main concern and not what kind of country Afghanistan will be when the US eventually pulls out.
How to prevent that outcome should be the focus of any policy. If it can be done without heavy military commitment that would certainly be preferable but no one has come up yet with a realistic solution that does not involve the military.

Posted by: serban1 | July 28, 2010 3:15 PM | Report abuse

in reply to this:
==========
I notice that ss28 is in run away mode
==============

wishful thinking. I have a job. Sometimes the boss makes demands that override srw3's. Can you imagine?

Just too funny.

Oh and as I mentioned just moments ago I can name a very successful COIN effort. Iraq. gonna tell me that Barry boy is wrong on this? After all, he just praised and promoted the guy who got it done!

Posted by: skipsailing28 | July 28, 2010 3:18 PM | Report abuse

Liam-Still, thank you for the considered response. Indeed, narcotics traffic reduction is one factor not always considered with respect to Afghanistan, but it lends itself to other than COIN solutions.

I've got friends in combat there. As long as they are fighting, I want them to have what they need for protecting themselves, but I also want their sacrifices to accomplish something.

Lessons do need to be learned. What did Dien Bien Phu, Khe Sanh, and FB Keating have in common? What was different?

I'm agree that a key decision is where "to concentrate our finite military and financial resources." I am not, however, assuming "what can be done in Afghanistan." I'm not convinced that there would be major strategic returns from long-term effort in Afghanistan, which simply may not be a viable country. The Durand Line doesn't reflect political realities. Unfortunately, very little discussion of Pakistan looks at the utterly key relationship between India and Pakistan. As long as that's hot -- and remember those are two nuclear states facing off -- both are going to treat Afghanistan as a proxy.

How does being in Afghanistan prevent "Extremists [overrunning] Pakistan, and get a hold of the nuclear technology"? Is the NPT concept of requiring new members to divest themselves of nuclear weapons really to the benefit of the US or the world? Indeed, deal with counterproliferation -- but there are no nuclear weapons in Afghanistan.

Posted by: HCBerkowitz | July 28, 2010 3:20 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, but peacenik defeatist pro-terrorist scum need to be called out as the depraved filth that they are, regardless of party.

This president is a disaster in most respects, but he deserves and has a right to expect everyone's support in the war on terror.

Posted by: thebump | July 28, 2010 3:21 PM | Report abuse

Want to support the troops? Get them out of harms way, bring them home.

Posted by: jckdoors | July 28, 2010 3:26 PM | Report abuse

@LifeBeforePrinciple, I refuse to put Afghanistan in the Vietnam box.

@RUK

"""neither you nor Skip have a scintilla of evidence that there is an opportunity for a "strong, developed counter-terrorism policy" created by continued occupation of Afghanistan"""

True, which I why I am calling for a transition from COIN to counter-terrorism.

There are still terrorists in the FATA (tribal regions) and the only reason they are staying there is because of military pressure in Afghanistan by the U.S. and in Pakistan by Pakistani forces.

I agree that the main thrust of the counter-terror strategy should be, as you say, quality law enforcement and intelligence.

"""There is NO pressure on Al Qaeda because of our presence in Afghanistan."""

I disagree with that statement.

"""We have pulled out the sledgehammers to fight a pesky bunch of irritating insects."""

I'm with you there. That's why I subscribe to the current strategy of re-focusing on counter-terror and drawing down troops and ending the occupation. I just happen to be okay with the fact that this transition will have to take place over a period of time.

Either way, I think our positions are not that far off. As I said, I am just more willing, I suppose, to stick with the current strategy of transition followed by phased withdrawal. At the end of the day what matters most to me is the best possible outcome, not the quickest way out. I could easily be wrong and the best possible outcome IS taking the quickest way out. But we don't know that (imho), and so I stand by my opinion.

Posted by: Ethan2010 | July 28, 2010 3:28 PM | Report abuse

@ss28:My definition of winning in Iraq was this: the war disappears from the media.

Wow, just wow. It's hard to believe a sentient person can write that kind of stuff. I'm sure that is a great comfort to the next American soldier that is killed or maimed there. Oh by the way, parents of the slain soldier, because the media has moved on to linsey lohan's jail wardrobe, we won in Iraq. Words fail me.

"It has because we won."

Talk about circular logic. Winning means Iraq is out of the media. Less reporting on Iraq means we are winning. Tell me, when Afghanistan dropped off the media radar because of the much larger Iraq debacle, did that mean we were winning?

No liberal wants to admit that. Look how you've ignored Biden. So of course the journolist inspired chain gang that is our "press" will ignore the story.

And yes, we did COIN quite well in Iraq.

In fantasy land it worked quite well. In the big universe we all share, we still have 10 of thousands of troops there. If that is winning...

So well in fact that the author of the strategy was recently praised and promoted by none other than your boy Barrack. You're not disagreeing with him are you? I didn't think so!

I am sure you are packing your bags to go and enjoy the massive success that Iraq has become...I hear it's nice there with 100+ degree temps and no reliable electricity, open sewers, kidnapping, roadside IEDs, hundreds of religious pilgrims killed every year...

I absolutely disagree with Obama on Afghanistan policy because it won't work. Again, cite any successful counterinsurgency that has been conducted by foreign forces who don't know the language or culture. And no Germany, Japan, and Korea are not examples of local counterinsurgency wins. Those were occupations after conventional wars, not counterinsurgencies.

"Even if that means disagreeing with the president you worship and his mouthpiece Mr Bite me."

See this is the difference between progressives and conservatives. progressives are willing to point out when their leaders are wrong.

"Having a garrison presence in Iraq makes sense. Why exactly does this make sense? Is it because without massive US money and military support, the coin strategy falls apart? How long and at what cost? Success means bringing our troops home and not trying to be the world's policemen.


"and of course the last resort of liberal scoundrels is "how ya gonna pay for it?".

Funny that's what repubs keep asking about any spending to ease the weight of the recession on the unemployed. I guess that makes them scoundrels.

And of course you have no answer. I am still waiting for a plan to pay the trillion+ dollars we have already spent that your boy georgie put on the national credit card. Of course you offer no answer.


"we simply can't be bothered with that silly constitutional notion of providing for the common defense."

You can't be bothered with answering the question, Where is the money to pay for a 50 year committment coming from?

Posted by: srw3 | July 28, 2010 3:35 PM | Report abuse

@ss28:we did COIN quite well in Iraq.

here in the reality based community Iraq is just above abject failure, hovering around mostly a disaster with a very few bright spots. Success in Iraq currently looks like:

- a Shiite dominated government with close ties to iran
-seething ethnic tension between Sunnis and Shiites just below the surface, that was only temporarily lessened with millions in bribes to the "sons of Iraq" to keep them pretending that they didn't support the insurgency
-a Kurdistan province with much of the country's oil wealth autonomous in all but name
-~1 million internally displaced refugees and 2x that in refugees outside the country, etc.
-Ethnic cleansing and segregated neighborhoods in Bagdad

After a trillion++ dollars put on the national credit card, 4000+ US soldiers killed 30K maimed, over 100k Iraqi civilians killed this is the best we can do. Doesn't sound like a success to me.


Which of these "successes" in Iraq are not what Iraq actually looks like from a reality-based standpoint, not from your telescope in farrightwingnutistan?

And hey, if you can't take a little ribbing (ie farrightwingnutistan) go back to red state where your views will be applauded not challenged.

Posted by: srw3 | July 28, 2010 3:45 PM | Report abuse

@ethan:There are still terrorists in the FATA (tribal regions)

isn't anywhere 20 miles outside of Kabul dominated by loyalties to warlords and/or tribal elders? If that doesn't make them tribal, what does?

Posted by: srw3 | July 28, 2010 3:53 PM | Report abuse

@HCBerkowitz

This will be my last comment on the subject, because I have errants to run.

I want to set up a base of operations that will not require a huge annual expenditure. It can be manned by around twenty thousand troops. In fact; it would make sense to draw down some from Okinawa and S. Korea, in order to concentrate them where the bigger threat is looming.

If we set it up the right way, like we did in Iraqi Kurdistan; we will be able strike extremist bases both in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and force them to hunker down, for the most part.

There are no perfect solutions, and the problem is that those who want to totally withdraw, are just as naive as those who want to wage an all out long term hot war . Neither option is practical, so we have to settle for the least worst option that we can afford to sustain, for "the long twilight struggle", against those phony Muslims, homicidal nihilists.

While we are hunkered down there, we better stay busy weaning ourselves from our dependence on foreign energy sources. Even George W. Bush admitted that America is "addicted to Oil". Cure that addiction, and we will have less reason to ride shotgun for the for the foreign pushers.

Posted by: Liam-still | July 28, 2010 3:54 PM | Report abuse

Yup. Winning means Iraq out of the media. Its out of the media isn't it? Of course it is! Joe bite me said it was one of the Obama admin's greatest achievements didn't he? Of course he did.

Once again, instead of mounting a cogent counter argument you engage in snide name calling. Tell me, do you really think that enhances your argument? Or is it just that you crave the admiration of the other name callers on the thread?

Of course we still have troops in Iraq. I hope we garrison Iraq for several generations. As I stated, when America garrisons a region, that region does well. You can't disprove that I don't recall that you've even spoken to it.

There is no reason why Iraq and ultimately A stan cannot benefit from our presence just as Western Europe, Japan and S. Korea have benefited from our presence. That's another point that the calcified left refuses to see. Prosperity brings peace. American garrisons bring prosperity. I guess that is just too lacking in nuance for some folks to grasp.I never said that Germany, Japan and S korea were COIN wins. I said that our garrisons there promoted prosperity and peace. Isn't that what you want? it is certainly what I want, prosperity and peace.

so you are saying that Petreus was unworthy of the accolades the President and congress heaped upon him. interesting. I stand by my position and we'll have to agree to disagree. Iraq was a huge victory for us and the COIN strategy we developed, implemented and improved upon worked well there. It will also work well in A stan.

Ultimately COIN is a contest between different narratives of the future. We have to prove that we can deliver the narrative we champion. It takes time and money. But I believe it is money well spent.

Back in the day when I was a liberal the left stood for silly concepts like peace, prosperity, liberation and the like. We earnestly sought improvement in lives of others. I've always wondered when the left lost its soul. Today's liberals are just fine with condemning millions to lives of grinding poverty and oppression because it suits their self centered world view. Shameful.

Let me tell you where the money will come from srw3. You ready? Its a single word and it was at the heart of the conflict over unemployment extensions:

PRIORITIES.
Perhaps I was being a bit too snide. but the simple fact is liberal spending priorities seek to ignore constitutionally mandated roles the federal government MUST play. You'd rather fund a dysfunctional welfare program than provide for America's physical safety. I get that. it is yet another reason why the left is so morally bankrupt.

Posted by: skipsailing28 | July 28, 2010 3:56 PM | Report abuse

"isn't anywhere 20 miles outside of Kabul dominated by loyalties to warlords and/or tribal elders? If that doesn't make them tribal, what does?"

Sorry, I should have clarified that I meant the FATA of Pakistan.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federally_Administered_Tribal_Areas

Posted by: Ethan2010 | July 28, 2010 4:08 PM | Report abuse

Iraq was a horrible mistake by Boy Blunder. It was not an existential threat to the USA, and by engaging in that stupid invasion and incompetent occupation, we let the real danger regenerate and return in Afghanistan.

Furthermore; the tactics that were developed and refined in Iraq, have now been passed on to the Taliban, and they are using them to great effect against our brave troops in Afghanistan.

Had Bush/Cheney not abandoned the war in Afghanistan to go invade Iraq, we would have finished off the Taliban. before they became the much more lethal and effective foe, that they have now become.

Stop trying to put lipstick on George W. Bush's Iraq Pig. He should never have tried to make it into his domesticated pig.

The place is a bigger pigsty now, than it was before Bush spent Trillions of borrowed dollars, to try and adopt it.

Posted by: Liam-still | July 28, 2010 4:09 PM | Report abuse

I am just getting sick of all this stupidity in our government, in our so-called think-tanks, in our actions in and out of the country! I don't care about Afghans,Iraqis,Pakistanis, Iranians, Saudis, Israelis, or Egyptians; I'm very sure they can and will live their lives quite well without our involvement in their lives! I am just sick of wasting money, time, energy, and treasure for our elite wannabe emperors to play world domination or give me all your money or I'm a bigger bully than anyone else or ... I don't believe a single military action since the end of world war two has benefited America or the world in any way; it is just time to stop wasting time, lives, and treasure building exotic weapons, fighting stupid useless wars, trying to control everyone everywhere in some ignorant stupid pedantic idea of what is good for everyone! Tell the Generals nobody cares how many damn medals you have, tell the politicians nobody cares how important they think they are, and tell the oligopolists nobody cares how many zeros they have in their bank accounts; we, the people, want our country back! Start by eliminating the Income Tax, all Payroll Taxes and institute a VAT to pay for everything! Declare all organizations, especially corporations, as having no rights except those explicitly granted by law and explicitly deny them any rights of being humans! And force the retirement of all existing Congress man and woman! Force term limits on the self-sacrificing people so dedicated to serving the people that they will spend millions of their own monies to get the privilege!!

Posted by: CHAOTICIAN101 | July 28, 2010 4:09 PM | Report abuse

Just to reply to Liam about Afghanistan as a base of operations -- consider the map, and also operational logistics. In summer at Afghan elevations, a C-130H can't get off the ground with some of the heavier Stryker vehicles, or even the lighter ones with ammunition and equipment. Afghanistan is landlocked; under hostile conditions, everything has to come in by air. Do we buy more C-17's?

What kind of force are you going to base there? There's no ideal place in the region, but is it more secure to operate out of Manas in Kyrgyzstan or perhaps in Uzbekistan, as we did while staging into Afghanistan in 2001?

While it's more stressful to refuel, is it more viable to put the B-1s and B-2s at Diego Garcia?

I need to see a convincing argument that under the best of plausible conditions, Afghanistan would be a good place to base anything. Forget politics, just consider force structure, aircraft ranges, etc.

Posted by: HCBerkowitz | July 28, 2010 4:20 PM | Report abuse

"Perhaps I was being a bit too snide. but the simple fact is liberal spending priorities seek to ignore constitutionally mandated roles the federal government MUST play."

Posted by: skipsailing28 | July 28, 2010 3:56 PM |

Skip,

Could you please point me to the Article and Section in the Constitution that says our federal government "MUST" fight a land war halfway around the world against indigenous insurgents who have never attacked the United States?

Posted by: bearclaw1 | July 28, 2010 4:29 PM | Report abuse

in reply to this:
================
Furthermore; the tactics that were developed and refined in Iraq, have now been passed on to the Taliban, and they are using them to great effect against our brave troops in Afghanistan.

=======================

this requires some response.

the tactics weren't "passed on". The Iranians were behind much of it in Iraq and they are behind much of it in A stan.

What was passed on was the way the American military responded to the insurgency. the marines have a motto: no better friend, no worse enemy. Ultimately that played out in Iraq just as it will play out in A stan.

We wanted Fallujah, and we took it by force. The folks in Ramadi saw that and we took that city with time and patience.

When McCrystal left, the RoE's were examined. I suspect that some fundamental changes in them were made. That should reduce some of the casualties.

Our guys are dying now because we are assaulting the heart of the beast. Just as we didn't flinch from Al Anbar, we're not fooling around in Kandahar. In fact the insurgents are not really putting up the kind of fight they bragged about. That cannot but help us in our COIN efforts.

I pray for the soldiers and their families everyday. Your prayers would help too.

Posted by: skipsailing28 | July 28, 2010 4:30 PM | Report abuse

I used to feel SS28 was a waste but now I see that he gives srw3 a place to begin his riffs. And srw3 you've got in some terrific riffs!

I love your recurring question..name any country that has successfully fought an insurgency with a foreign army that doesn't speak the native tongue that is financed by huge deficit spending to the point that infrastructure and social needs back home are being neglected?

Of course we can't srw3 but think about what you've described...the Roman Empire!!!
Occupation of foreign lands...eventually this was turned over to mercenaries of the Romas can you say Blackwater or whatever the hell they are calling themselves these days. Our country is now hiding war by not only avoiding a draft and shared suffering but soon the military will be out...replaced by mercenaries..hired guns.
Is this really what the U.S. wants to become...the next Roman Empire?

Posted by: rukidding7 | July 28, 2010 4:38 PM | Report abuse

He does like to "Skip" over the inconvenient truths.

The US did not win a damn thing in Iraq. The Sunnis decided the best chance they had to get back some power was to get the Americans to leave, so they proposed working with them, in order to get them to the point where they would feel they could turn over power to the Iraqi government. It worked like a charm.

The story in Iraq has yet to unfold. What will the Sunnis do, after the US has gone, for the most part. If they do not get their share of power and Oil wealth, they will return to the path of violence.

As of now; there is a stalemate in Iraq. The election solved nothing. Both sides are claiming that they won the election.

The place is still a powder keg. The Sunnis figured out that the path of least resistance was the best way to get rid of the Americans who were siding with the new Shiite Rulers.

They can not get rid of them, in the same way as they got rid of the Americans, so if they do not get their share of power and oil wealth; all hell will break loose.

I make the odds about 5 to 1 in favor of Iraq becoming a sectarian hell hole again, within the next 10 years.

So; once more; we did not win a damn thing in Iraq; and in fact made it worse than what we found it.

We also squandered up to 2 trillion dollars on that stupid war of choice, which we borrowed, and did not offset with revenues.

Republicans only want to do that, when it involves them torturing the long term unemployed, who's benefits have expired.

Posted by: Liam-still | July 28, 2010 4:57 PM | Report abuse

Pander, pander, pander, pander.....that's all we hear anymore. Its enough to make one puke.

On the day after his inauguration, Obama should have announced that since Boy Bush neglected to follow through on Afghanistan and there is no longer any chance of bringing the people of A-stan into the 17th century, much less the 20th, that we were immediately pulling out. In fact we should just pull out of the Middle East entirely and tell the people there to sort it out for themselves.

We are tired of endless war, foisted on us by the military industrial complex to justify their existence. Time for a million Americans to march down the mall and tell Congress and the White House that 9 years is long enough.

Posted by: Chagasman | July 28, 2010 5:06 PM | Report abuse

skipsailing28: First or Second Battle of Fallujah? Any thoughts about who ordered early termination of First Fallujah? Some material I've mostly written at http://en.citizendium.org/wiki/Iraq_War%2C_insurgency, especially beginning "Early 2004".

As far as tactics, indeed, the Taliban did not use suicide attack until well after Iraq. They didn't use that tactic against the Russians or against internal opponents.

The heart of the beast isn't in Kandahar. Depends on what you have in mind -- Quetta Shura, Haqqani Network, or Hezb-i-Islami Gulbuddin, but none are based there. Do you have some proposal to shut down infiltration across the Durand Line? Might be useful along the Rio Grande if so.

Posted by: HCBerkowitz | July 28, 2010 5:13 PM | Report abuse

@ss28: So in order for coin to work, we have to leave 10 of thousands of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan for generations?

Clearly Iraq wouldn't continue to be the amazing success story of dysfunctional government, open sewers, intermittent electricity, roadside bombs, and murdered religious pilgrims without 50K troops for the 50 years. Somehow, I don't remember hearing the Iraq invasion being characterized as a 50 year occupation.

Having to keep thousands of troops all over the world is not my definition of a successful counterinsurgency. Its not victory if our troops need to be stationed there for 50 years, its occupation. Aside from the glorious victory for counterinsurgency in Iraq, has coin worked anywhere else?

On a broader point, what gives the US the right to station troops all over the world? How would we feel if say China stationed 10s of thousands of troops in Cuba or Mexico?

On another point, Iraq was mostly a 20th century country, (at least until we devastated its infrastructure in GW1) with a high literacy rate, a few modern cities, some industry, a functioning if repressive and cruel state appratus, a relatively prosperous oil sector, roads, schools, etc. AFAICT, Afghanistan has none of this. Why would coin strategies developed in Iraq be applicable to a totally different culture and a country not far out of the 14th century?

"The Iranians were behind much of it in Iraq and they are behind much of it in A stan."

That's why strengthening Iran by taking out its main adversary in the region, Iraq, and turning it into a Shiite dominated state with close cultural and political ties to Iran, was such a smashingly good idea, right?

BTW: I am ready for conservatives to propose the cuts necessary to both pay down the trillions in debt generated by the Iraq and Afganistan occupations along with the funding stream to garrison 40K troops in those 2 countries for 50 years as you suggest. Anytime you want to put your money where your militaristic mouth is and propose the cutting or elimination of specific programs, (remember total non defense discretionary spending is < 600 billion which won't even cover what we have already spent on the Iraq debacle) not just your tired right wing talking points about cutting off unemployment benefits and supplemental assistance (not nearly enough to cover day to day operations in Iraq and Afghanistan where we will spend over a trillion dollars in FY 2010) to what you obviously consider the undeserving poor. Hey we could always go back to indentured servitude and debt peonage for them...

Posted by: srw3 | July 28, 2010 5:19 PM | Report abuse

In reply to this:
================
Could you please point me to the Article and Section in the Constitution that says our federal government "MUST" fight a land war halfway around the world against indigenous insurgents who have never attacked the United States?

====================

The preamble: provide for the common defense.

If you want to argue about the merits of what we did, fine. I'll be your huckleberry. I've argued this with liberals for years. Based on what I've seen here the left has no new insight into this conflict or any other for that matter.

My point remains: like all other entities we must decide what are spending priorities ought to be. When liberals ask where the money comes from I offer the same response: it is all in how we set our priorities. My experience with the left is that their priorities are transfer payment schemes and expensive regulatory regimes. They don't want to provide for the common defense because that drains money from their pet projects.

Posted by: skipsailing28 | July 28, 2010 5:25 PM | Report abuse

Skip,

The "Preamble" to the Constitution is not law -- it grants no powers, confers no rights, creates no obligations.

I am fine with having a discussion about spending based on national priorities. My objection is to putting particular spending into a category, such as "common defence" (correct spelling in the Preamble) that is somehow unassailable and beyond debate. In my view, it is perfectly acceptable for a member of Congress to vote against a spending request for Afghanistan and Iraq. Congress holds the purse strings, and it is the only practical way Congress can keep the Executive from bankrupting our country with unnecessary wars.

Posted by: bearclaw1 | July 28, 2010 5:40 PM | Report abuse

@ss28: Our guys are dying now because we are assaulting the heart of the beast. Just as we didn't flinch from Al Anbar, we're not fooling around in Kandahar. In fact the insurgents are not really putting up the kind of fight they bragged about. That cannot but help us in our COIN efforts.

You don't understand the firs thing about insurgency and guerrilla warfare do you? "Not putting up much of a fight?" Its called melting back into the population when the Yankees come around and winning a war of attrition since it costs them far less to stay in the shadows than it does for the US to conduct a war from half way around the world.

Why would the insurgents try to fight a better armed and equipped invasion force when they can set their bombs, deploy their snipers, and watch the US economy implode from spending a trillion dollars a year along with taking untold causalities from their unconventional war against the invaders?

We don't understand the culture or speak the language(s). At least in Iraq, we had some US Arabic speakers. How many Pashtun speakers are there in all of the armed forces <100? <50? If the US has to rely on Pashtuns to translate for them, US forces will be used like pawns to settle old scores without knowing that they are being played by the locals.

It would be great if someone with more military knowledge than me would help skippy out with some of the finer points of occupying a country with no idea what the locals are saying or doing when you are not around.

Posted by: srw3 | July 28, 2010 5:41 PM | Report abuse

There are only 100 Democrats in the House who oppose the war(s). Has the ghost of LBJ taken over the current president? Are we going to have another phony Gulf of Tonkin incident in the Strait of Hormuz or the Yellow Sea?

Are our generals going to betray us again? Oops, we lost a few more billion somewhere.

Posted by: alance | July 28, 2010 5:44 PM | Report abuse

Supporting the troops is a vote to get them out, a vote to keep them there is a vote to risk their lives needlessly, to risk theri PTSD, to risk their concussion injuries for an optional war to protect business interests. It will not root them out of their own homeland and it will not win hearts and minds and it will not prevent future 9/11's, getting out would be more helpful in that respect. And the afghanization will not be any better than vietnamization once we leave...at which point the lives sacrificed will have been a wasted no matter how heroic their intentions.

Posted by: Wildthing1 | July 28, 2010 5:51 PM | Report abuse

@ss28: it is all in how we set our priorities.

Fact: total non discretionary spending is less than 600 billion, which doesn't even cover the debt we have already racked up, not to mention this years 1 trillion for Iraq and Afghanistan (http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0933935.html). Social security and medicare have their own funding streams. Are you proposing to dip into those funds to fuel the war machine? Its not only about priorities. Its about not having the money to pay for these occupations, even it we spent all non defense discretionary spending half way across the globe to kill a bunch of people. Of course you we could raise taxes, but you conservatives think that is akin to eating babies....

Posted by: srw3 | July 28, 2010 6:05 PM | Report abuse

The illusion, and a very arrogant one at that, is to think that we can somehow walk away from Afghanistan. It's the same reason why comparisons with the Viet Nam war are bad and false. This is an enemy intent on attacking us anywhere it can, it's also one that has designs of empire on the globe. To portray the Taliban as only having regional aspirations that don't go along with Al-Quada's imperialist agenda is simply false, revisionist, and an inaccurate assessment of their associations. While there are some Taliban who are localized & only affiliate themselves with the Taliban as a resistance movement of convenience, the fact is that their leadership is deeply enmeshed with Al-Qaeda. US politicians make a frequent and serious error in mis-identifying them as separate organizations. They are not, and are separate in name only. This strategy of misdirection & misnaming is rooted in since closed ridiculous gaping loopholes in Pakistani law. Sadly this self-identifying confusion of organizational naming has worked remarkably well for them in dealing with their opponents, because people from other nations are not used to this BS 3 card monty naming game.

The bottom line is that the war in Iraq, and the focus the Bush administration put on it, stalled the war effort in Afghanistan. We don't have any choice but to deal with that stall, and we don't have any choice about the war there either. It's not something we can walk away from, and politicians who think otherwise are deluding themselves. They're either woefully ignorant of the situation, or they're pandering to people who're ignorant of the situation. The bottom line is this is not a fight we can walk away from.

We need to change things, and not fight the fight on Afghan terms, which they are not going to like very much. That's too bad however, since they're treating the war like a gravy train, we have to change that. The change is going to involve blowing up our enemies a lot more before we can negotiate peace there. Those same people are the enemies of the majority of Afghan people, and not all of them are very aware of it. In any case, the gravy train of BS they've been riding needs to come to a rapid halt.

Posted by: Nymous | July 28, 2010 6:21 PM | Report abuse

the fallacy about the argument that we must support our troops in uniform regardless of whether or not the war they are involved in is justified is that it forces this nation to stay the course in wars which are both unnecessary and unwinnable. It forces us to pour more money and blood, into ratholes.

Sometimes wars are ill advised or unwinnable and "losing" some wars will have not one whit of an impact on our national security. Both Iraq and Afghanistan are those kind of war. And, for anyone, regardless of party,to call for a continuation of such a war for poltical gain is not irresponsible, it is immoral.

Posted by: bobfbell | July 28, 2010 6:22 PM | Report abuse

the fallacy about the argument that we must support our troops in uniform regardless of whether or not the war they are involved in is justified is that it forces this nation to stay the course in wars which are both unnecessary and unwinnable. It forces us to pour more money and blood, into ratholes.

Sometimes wars are ill advised or unwinnable and "losing" some wars will have not one whit of an impact on our national security. Both Iraq and Afghanistan are those kind of war. And, for anyone, regardless of party,to call for a continuation of such a war for poltical gain is not irresponsible, it is immoral.

Posted by: bobfbell | July 28, 2010 6:22 PM | Report abuse

Oh, why do our insurgent fighting allies always need years and months of training, millions in equipment, and logistic support forever; when the same people who are the insurgents are able to kick trained guys butts and ours as well with no training, $100 worth of weapons, no logistical support, and minimum pay?? By the way, in case you have not noticed; insurgents are opposing a legitimate government; which 1 we are not and our puppets are little better! We are the bad guys, illegally and immorally invading and trying to occupy their country for our purposes which we can assume are for the glory of the Generals, the bank accounts of the contractors and profiteers, and for the chicken hawk politicians trying to prove they are "real" men!

Posted by: CHAOTICIAN101 | July 28, 2010 6:43 PM | Report abuse

Ethan2010: You need a little history lesson. The "phased" withdrawal from Iraq is not being carried out as "dictated" by our "Generals on the ground," but under an agreement forced upon Bush by the Iraqis in Nov08. "Our generals" (as well as Bush) were adamantly opposed to it, and signed it only because the Iraqis refused to agree to anything else. Our generals and the Bush administration wanted to keep over 200 military facilities in Iraq...fortunately for all of us, the Iraqs flatly refused. Just do a simple Google search: "us-iraq withdrawal agreement."

You say the Iraqi drawdown is "so successful"...I agree, though I think it should be moving even faster. In any event, Iraq is proving just the opposite of what you expressed: if the Iraqis had listened to "our generals," we'd still be bogged down wasting more hundreds of billions of dollars for a pointless purpose...and continuing to cause severe wear and strain on our military and the loss of many lives. That certainly offers an analogy for Afghanistan: listening to "our generals," who have their own vested interests, is not automatically the best way to approach the situation.

There seems to be the automatic assumption that the following would happen: we leave Afghanistan, Talaban takes over, al-Qa'ida training camps are reestablished, another 11 Sept. event. All that is not a foregone conclusion by any means. Withdrawing our troops doesn't mean eliminating all support for the government in Kabul. But what are we really spending $100 billion (a year, or every six months, or whatever) to accomplish? Does anyone really know...except in a vague way?

Afghanistan has long since passed the point of being the sole refuge for fanatics. In fact, there are fanatics in every area of the world. There have been fanatics/radicals using acts of terror for at least 2,000 years, and there will be for another 2,000 years, assuming the human race lasts that long. No country/regime in history has ever stopped all acts of terror...not the Brits, Israelis, Russians, Chinese, even Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union...and we won't either; if people want to give up their lives in a terrorist act, no one is going to stop them all.

The sooner our "leaders" engage in an honest discussion of terrorism...what it is (just a "weapon" used by those who feel powerless against their enemies), and what it isn't...the sooner Americans will be able to draw more rational conclusions about situations like the one in Afghanistan.

Posted by: Rigged | July 28, 2010 6:48 PM | Report abuse

I agree wholeheartedly with the author: Karl Rove can go to Hell, along with anyone who emulates him.

Pakistan is utterly unreliable and no amount of rationalization can justify spending American dollars and lives in a place that has no relationship to vital American interests.

Afghanistan is utterly unreliable and no amount of rationalization can justify spending American dollars and lives in a place that has no relationship to vital American interests.

Iraq is utterly unreliable and no amount of rationalization can justify spending American dollars and lives in a place that has no relationship to vital American interests.

Iran is utterly unreliable, but represents a clear and present danger to vital American interests. I have no difficulty justifying the expenditure of American dollars to help Israel nullify Iran's nuclear capabilities.

Do you see a pattern here? If our foreign policies do not advance vital American interests, we need to change our policies.

I voted for President Obama in 2008, and I am pleased with his progress in advancing America's vital domestic interests. I am displeased with his lack of progress in advancing America's vital foreign policy interests.

President Bush was worse on both fronts, and the Tea Party wackos would be worse yet, but I am not pleased that President Obama, who promised what he could not deliver, has not cleaned up Bush's foreign policy mess. He, and our feckless Congress, need to get on the stick."

Posted by: bloommarko4 | July 28, 2010 6:54 PM | Report abuse

@Nymous : The arrogance and condescension in your post defies description.

"We need to change things, and not fight the fight on Afghan terms, which they are not going to like very much....The change is going to involve blowing up our enemies a lot more before we can negotiate peace there. "

I know that killing more innocent civilians in pursuit Taliban will really help us with the hearts and minds thing...

"Those same people are the enemies of the majority of Afghan people, and not all of them are very aware of it. In any case, the gravy train of BS they've been riding needs to come to a rapid halt."

Its funny how we know more about who the enemies of the Afghans are than the Afghans themselves, isn't it.

The gravy train of corruption will end when we stop pumping billions of dollars a month into a country with a GDP smaller than our annual spending there. That means we need to go home.

What gives us the right to kill a bunch of Afghani civilians, for whatever reason, anyway.

I think that the Mexican police should bomb a few gun stores in Texas because they proved that guns sold there fuel the violence in the drug war. I am sure Texans will go for that, even if a few innocents are killed.

Posted by: srw3 | July 28, 2010 6:56 PM | Report abuse

I think that the Mexican police should bomb a few gun stores in Texas because they proved that guns sold there fuel the violence in the drug war. I am sure Texans will go for that, even if a few innocents are killed.


Posted by: srw3 | July 28, 2010 6:56 PM |

Or perhaps the Mexican armed forces would like to cross the border to help Gov. Rick Perry in his valiant battle to free Texans from the oppression of the U.S. federal government . . . . I'm sure Texans would be happy to let an occupying foreign military force decide who the "enemy" is.

Posted by: bearclaw1 | July 28, 2010 7:37 PM | Report abuse

Nymous, got some sourcing for your argument that the Taliban and al-Qaeda have common goals? Certainly, they have some, but the bonding you suggest is not, to my knowledge, justified. In Afghanistan, the original Taliban go back to King Ahmad Shah Durrani (d. 1783) (http://en.citizendium.org/wiki/Taliban). The resurgent Taliban come from Deoband theology, but still are distinctly Pashtun, and, predominantly, Durrani Pashtuns, steeped in the pashtunwali ethos. Al Qaeda, however, is predominantly Saudi and Egyptian, of theology from Sayyid Qutb and Abdullah Azzam. (http://en.citizendium.org/wiki/Al_Qaeda ). The Taliban is more Salafist and more tribal than al-Qaeda. AQ played on the pashtunwali requirement to defend one's guest.

You may call this BS, but I'd like more evidence than that than anonymous posting. Khalid Shah Mohammed wasn't even affiliated with al-Qaeda when he first started planning terror with aircraft (Operation Bojinka), but he eventually swore bayat to bin Laden -- in Pakistan. Got some evidence of Taliban in Manila, where KSM started his plans, along with Ramzi Yousef, who almost blew themselves up?

Posted by: HCBerkowitz | July 28, 2010 7:51 PM | Report abuse

Nymous said
The illusion, and a very arrogant one at that, is to think that we can somehow walk away from Afghanistan. It's the same reason why comparisons with the Viet Nam war are bad and false. This is an enemy intent on attacking us anywhere it can, it's also one that has designs of empire on the globe.
-------------------------------------------

There are many comparisons with Viet Nam. For one, the U.S. saw communists as "an enemy intent on attacking us anywhere it can, it's also one that has designs of empire on the globe". Just as you see al-qaeda.

Posted by: LifeBeforePrinciple | July 28, 2010 8:39 PM | Report abuse

Greg,

The problem is that progressives continue to insist on believing against all the evidence that Dems are not war mongers. The reason some Dems sound like Rove is because they are as blood thirsty as he is. Instead of instructing them on ways to not sound blood thirsty, you should be exposing their blood thirst and working against their election.

Posted by: disputo | July 28, 2010 10:03 PM | Report abuse

I think it's important to understand that our involvement in Afghanistan is not a war. It is something else entirely. Unfortunately, the top generals in the Army just started to realize this last year. It's several years too late for us to be able to claim victory, whatever that is. I fully support sticking to a hard deadline to begin troop withdrawals. As far as funding, our troops should have the equipment they need until the withdrawal date arrives. When we're out, cut the military's budget.

I clearly remember being labeled as unpatriotic when I opposed the invasion of Iraq. I don't wish that treatment on anyone. I agree with Mr. Sargeant that this rhetoric is unacceptable.

Posted by: damascuspride04 | July 28, 2010 10:19 PM | Report abuse

There is no "war" in Afghanistan. The reason being that no war has been declared. Only Congress has that power (Article 1, Section 8, Clause 11, in case anyone is curious), and Congress has not exercised that power. Therefore, there is no war.

And since it is impossible to win a non-existent war, "victory" and other such empty chest-thumping is a poor excuse for us to remain.

So what other reason is there? None of the reasons given above by anybody, whether liberals or Reich Wingers, are the least bit sensible. Staying indefinitely because of poorly explained or badly thought-out theories about terrorism is stupidity.

Posted by: jiji1 | July 28, 2010 10:33 PM | Report abuse

What is this column? An out-in-the-open JournOlist?

Posted by: chatard | July 28, 2010 10:57 PM | Report abuse

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