September 25, 2006

"We must recommit to victory in Afghanistan."

Concludes John Kerry in a WSJ op-ed. Great. Commitment to victory. Does he have anything to say about victory in Iraq?
...the disastrous diversion in Iraq has allowed these radicals the chance to rise again....

Somehow, we ended up with seven times more troops in Iraq--which even the administration now admits had nothing to do with 9/11--than in Afghanistan, where the killers still roam free....

[T]his administration has appropriated nearly four times more in reconstruction funds for Iraq than Afghanistan...

Last year we gave Pakistan only $300 million in economic support, about what we spend in a day in Iraq....
Is commitment to victory in Afghanistan more believable if it comes with commitment to victory in Iraq or if it's presented as an alternative to victory in Iraq?

47 comments:

Gerry said...

Reconstruction-- in Afghanistan's case, wouldn't it be more accurately called "construction?"

It amazes me that Kerry thinks he is still a viable Presidential candidate.

George said...

Zzzzzzzz....

I know that this is ancient history, but I'm still trying to understand the mind and soul of a man who:

a) Wins three Purple Hearts;
b) Does a 180 and then
c) Testifies publicly,
d) Looking like a bum,
e) Before a Congressional hearing that
f) His comrades in arms were the scum of the
earth
g) And does this while the war is still underway
h) Surely knowing that his words and deeds would undermine the war effort, namely the morale of those he served with and POWs.

And then he gets nominated by his party to serve as President during wartime!

Wha-?

MadisonMan said...

Ann, I think an interesting experiment would have been to post the op-ed with no author and have people guess who did it. I'm not sure I can disagree with a lot that he writes, but when you imagine the words coming out of his mouth, well that doesn't help the message.

Fritz said...

Kerry Writes: "Roadside bomb attacks have more than doubled this year, and suicide attacks have more than tripled."

Yes, AQ recognizes that such tactics work to get liberals bitching.

Recently a crazed lunatic opened fire on civilians in Montreal. Does this mean Canada needs more American troops?

DaveG said...

George -

Just stepping in until downtownlad hits his morning stride:

"Yeah, but Bush was a draft dodger that used family influence to get into the TANG, and he's a liar that got us into an unwinnable war."

Somehow that seems to make Kerry shine by comparison for some folks, but I'll be danged if I can see how.

monkeyboy said...

The focus on Afghanistan seems to me to be reflective of the "law enforcement" idea. We need to focus soley on Afghanistan to get they guys who did 911. After that, then what?

Its not about punishment, its about remaking the area of the world and removing supportive regimes to keep it from happening again, Both Afghanistan and Iraq are important to this effort.

Fenrisulven said...

Big yawn. And MadisonMan is correct, Kerry's* presence discredits the message. But love his spin:

disastrous diversion in Iraq

The Left seems to think that adjectives take the place of supporting evidence. Argument by Assertion.

Iraq--which even the administration now admits had nothing to do with 9/11

Very dishonest, as the administration never said Iraq was involved in the 9-11 attacks.


* who served in VietNam, btw

Dave Schuler said...

It's interesting that both Bill Clinton and John Kerry apparently either favor invading Pakistan or believe, against all evidence, that some sort of victory can be achieved in Afghanistan without invading Pakistan. I'd certainly like to hear their ideas on that. Contrariwise, I think that so long as we don't cross the border with Pakistan the best we'll do there is prevent the Taliban from taking the country over again. An uneasy stasis.

In his much-publicized interview with Chris Wallace, Mr. Clinton noted that there are seven times more troops in Iraq than Afghanistan. True. Iraq is strategically significant; Afghanistan isn't as long as it's not being used for training camps for terrorists.

The Drill SGT said...

George,

You missed one:

During wartime, while still a naval officer, he traveled to a foreign country and secretly met with the enemy.

e.g. not his "trip with the CIA to Cambodia", but rather his meeting with the VC and NVA in Paris.

MadisonMan said...
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MadisonMan said...

fenrisulven, I'd say from the perspective of a successful (well, more successful) end to Afghanistan, the Iraq diversion has been disastrous. I don't know if that was Kerry's meaning.

Of course, that assumes more boots and resources in Afghanistan might have helped -- I don't know if we'll ever know the answer to that.

Freder Frederson said...

Very dishonest, as the administration never said Iraq was involved in the 9-11 attacks.

Well, somehow, someway, a significant portion of the American people got the distinct impression that Iraq was and that Saddam and Al Qaeda were in bed together. The Vice President continually touted the Mahommed Atta in Prague fiction.

Now that the Senate Report has come out and definitively puts to rest that the theory there were any operational relationship between Al Qaeda and Saddam, the V.P. apparently can't find the time in his busy schedule to read it. I'm sure he'll get around to it sometime in 2009.

Freder Frederson said...

disastrous diversion in Iraq

And would adjectives would you use to describe George's most excellent adventure in Iraq. Sure we deposed Saddam. But the NIE says the end result has been increased terrorism. By "fighting them over there instead of over here" more Americans have died than died in the attacks of 9/11 (not to mention the tens of thousands of Iraqis and Afghanis who have apparently died for our war on terror and the over 20,000 non-fatal casulties which are never mentioned).

We have 140,000 troops tied down in Iraq and another 20,000 odd in Afghanistan. Add to that the support troops in neighboring countries and we are talking well over 200,000 permanently deployed. Because Bush has refused to treat this war as seriously as he talks about it and build up the military to the troop strength necessary to actually fight and win one of either of the two wars we are almost guaranteed to lose both. And if he is seriously considering bombing Iran, that is sheer madness.

Sloanasaurus said...

I don't think victory in Afghanistan will ever be possible in the short term. The population is so imporvershed that they will never be able to take on a fanatical movement without Western military aid. Further, the lack of a port and reliable allies bordering the country makes sustaining a large force in Afghanistan very risky if not impossible. Instead we should seek to contain the Taliban and concentrate our efforts in Iraq. Transforming Iraq will transform the region. Transforming Afghanistan will do nothing. Iraq has a sophisticated population and would be able to sustain itself eventually on its own.

Brian O'Connell said...

By "fighting them over there instead of over here" more Americans have died than died in the attacks of 9/11....

Right, and that's significant because of the law that said that the American response to 9/11 had to have fewer casualties than 9/11 itself.

It's a good thing that the US lost fewer people in the rest of WWII than we did at Pearl Harbor or this argument would be useless.

Fenrisulven said...

And if he is seriously considering bombing Iran, that is sheer madness.

So whats your plan? Does the Left think Iran should be allowed to possess nukes? If not, how will you stop him? UN sanctions? Another 12 years of negotiations?

Seriously, for all your partisan harping and nitpicking, its time for you to step up to the plate: what is your plan?

J. Peden said...

I thought NATO was now running Afghanistan, Militarily, at least. What about the U.N.? On well....

But at least Kerry can still surrender in Iraq, and in the overall wot. Hey, "Can't we all just surrender?" H/T Rodney King.

"Bring me my peanut butter sandwich, Jeeves." I crawls on my stomach like a snake when I'm out to get me a deer, with my trusty shotgun. I know I bin duped now in two wars, but I ken still crawl good. Vote for me, plebians.

Freder Frederson said...

Seriously, for all your partisan harping and nitpicking, its time for you to step up to the plate: what is your plan?


Well, it would be nice if the Bush administration had left us with anything to work with. There is no military option. The potential downside; galvanizing the Iranian people around the present government, increased Shiite opposition and direct Iranian interference in Iraq and shutting the Straits of Hormuz to oil shipments, far outweigh the potential benefits and are much more likely. If he was serious about solving problems militarily, then he would have built up the military in both troop numbers and the kind of equipment that is need to fight the kind of war we are fighting. He would have gotten the "kind of military he needs, not the kind of military he has". But that would have required asking real sacrifices from the American people including asking people to actually enlist and fight and forgoing tax cuts. Instead he has pretended he can have all his wars and tax cuts and all the American people have to do is go shopping.

Serious economic sanctions are also out since Bush didn't bother to address our dependence on foreign oil when he had the whole nation behind him in 2001 and had the golden opportunity to launch an ambitious Appollo like program to end our dependence on fossil fuels in 10 or even twenty years. That would be bearing real fruit right now. (And don't hand me bullshit about Democrats blocking drilling in ANWR, we will never drill our way out of foreign oil dependence).

He has shown no interest in the diplomatic process (other than to use it as a justification for military action) that that is apparently off the table.

So don't ask me how to fix something that has been broken by five years of incompetent and criminal leadership and sanctified by a lazy, greedy, complacent public who claims to want to fight the war on terror but when asked to sacrifice personally are unwilling to lift a finger or forgo one tax cut.

Freder Frederson said...

Right, and that's significant because of the law that said that the American response to 9/11 had to have fewer casualties than 9/11 itself.

It's significant because if another 3000 people had died in terrorist attacks in the U.S. attacks since 9/11 without one dying overseas (not to mention the 20,000 American wounded, all the dead foreigners dying in our stead and the $400 billion or so), I don't think anyone would be defending Bush as fighting a successful war on terror. So why is his war on terror such a rousing success just because Americans are being killed overseas (and certainly being wounded at a much greater rate than they were on 9/11) rather than here?

The whole "fighting over there so we don't have to fight them here" meme is just nonsensical, its like claiming only losses in home games count (but wins in away games do count).

Richard Dolan said...

There's a predictably partisan quality to this thread, and that's a pretty good barometer for one of the biggest sources of weakness in addressing the threat of global terrorism. However unacceptable Kerry may have been as a Presidential candidate (I found him unacceptable but 49% of the electorate didn't), it's essential to get past the sense of an unbridgeable partisan divide on these issues if the US is ever to be successful.

Put aside Kerry's comments on Iraq, and just focus for a moment on his contention that the war in Afganistan is going badly because of a lack of military resources. He says that the US should devote the resources need to prevail (where are those allies he was once so fond of?). He may well have a point. Many conservatives have been making the same point, about both Afganistan and Iraq, for a while. Not being a military strategist, I don't know whether they're right. But whenever a prominent Democrat wants to commit more resources to the real fight, rather than tossing pork at gov't employees' unions of "first responders" all over the country for domestic political purposes, perhaps it's time to respond with something other than a snarl.

Yes, I realize that Kerry is, well, Kerry, and that his real agenda may well be all PR, spin and the upcoming elections. But the political reality in the US is that, in terms of fighting a real war on Islamofascism, we cannot afford to write off the Democrats. To do so is to telegraph the message that it's just a matter of time before the US pulls out of this fight, since it is only a matter of time before the country elects a Dem to the presidency.

This proposal, even discounting its source, needs to be taken seriously. And in the process, perhaps even Kerry will come to see that (a) the source of many problems in Afganistan is the proximity of Iran and Pakistan, and thus the problem is wider and more intractable than Kerry suggests; and (b) the reasons Kerry gives for his assertion that it is essential that the good guys prevail in Afganistan are the same reasons why it is essential for the good guys to prevail in Iraq.

Mortimer Brezny said...

So don't ask me how to fix something that has been broken by five years of incompetent and criminal leadership and sanctified by a lazy, greedy, complacent public who claims to want to fight the war on terror but when asked to sacrifice personally are unwilling to lift a finger or forgo one tax cut.

Translation: I have no plan. I have no idea what would constitute a good plan. If my opponent came up with the best plan possible, I would not recognize it as the best plan possible. Furthermore, even if I privately recognized it was the best plan possible, I would publicly deny it. Then I would claim my enemies are exploiting the poor and call for tax raises that would tank the economy. No, I have never taken an economics course, but I have skimmed the Cliff Notes to Das Kapital. Go Pelosi!

MadisonMan said...

Translation: I have no plan.

This does seem to be every politician's mantra at the moment. For the right, the plan is to follow Bush. But where is he leading? He asks for absolutely no sacrifice on the part of any American -- save the soldiers who die and their families left behind, and that makes me wonder if this is a war he's in to win, or just in to make political hay and perpetuate Republican power. If it's the latter, the Democrats are unfortunately enabling him.

Why not tax gasoline? Or establish a draft so sufficent troops can be sent? If this is the battle of the generation politicos tell us it is, such actions are certainly justified. How come nothing like this is suggested?

Seven Machos said...

A serious question to people who support the content of Kerry's op-ed and/or Kerry: what does success in Afghanistan look like to you?

I really believe that a lot of liberals believe that Afghanistan and its people and its culture and its geography are basically like western Kansas.

Seven Machos said...

Madison Man -- The plan is to try to set up U.S.-friendly governments in the city-states of Afghanistan and to have a big enough military presence there to quell re-risings of the Taliban. The plan is to set up bases in Iraq and hopefully, eventually, a stable government will function there, or three or four stable governments will function there. The plan also is to box Iran in with these twin forces, and to keep Syria in check.

You cannot defeat the jihadists without killing hundreds of thousands of people and destroying billions in property, and changing the entire nature of the U.S. economy.

monkeyboy said...

I don't think that the military really wants draftees. It would take about a year to form up the new unis, and you would still have to spread around the seasoned officers and NCOs.

The democrats never went far with "we wan't to raise your taxes to give the money to other people we think deserve it more." I don't think "we want to raise your taxes to make you suffer" is any better.

monkeyboy said...

addendum:

I think that at this point the issue may not be more troops, but making sure that the troops are the right kind.

UAV operators, Green Berets and Civil Affairs take a longer time to train and you really have to want to be there. Draftees won't make it through the traiing because they make it really easy to quit.

As for taking troops from Iraq to move to Afghanistan, what use will heavy armored units be in the Hundu Kush?

Freder Frederson said...

Then I would claim my enemies are exploiting the poor and call for tax raises that would tank the economy. No, I have never taken an economics course, but I have skimmed the Cliff Notes to Das Kapital. Go Pelosi!

I know enough about economics to figure out that under the current tax structure, the Federal Budget will never come back into balance, even under the most optomistic economic projections. Pretending otherwise is the realm of the President.

I also know enough about economics that this nation has never gone to war without raising taxes to pay for it, let alone lowering taxes in the middle of a war. There is zero economic data to support the proposition that forgoing the tax cuts of the last five years would have damaged the economy. They have caused, along with profligate spending, the deficit to explode.

As for Das Kapital, I tried to read it in College (I hung out with a lot of honest to god Marxists--I bet you have never even met a real one) and could not make heads nor tails of it. I am convinced that nobody really understands what the hell Marx was talking about in it. Apparently Engels didn't even understand it and tried to make it more readable after Marx's death but only succeeded in making it even more dense.

Seven Machos said...

How to be a leftist:

1. Enter any political fray on any problem.

2. Suggest that raising taxes will solve the problem.

3. Repeat.

Freder Frederson said...

2. Suggest that raising taxes will solve the problem.

Where did I say raise taxes? Simply not cutting them would have helped a lot. Although, I do think an increased gas tax is the best way to encourage oil conservation (rather than CAFE standards).

Brian O'Connell said...

For the right, the plan is to follow Bush. But where is he leading? He asks for absolutely no sacrifice on the part of any American --

What about the loss of civil rights the left is always going on about? Isn't that a sacrifice that the govt has asked people to make?

paulfrommpls said...

freder -

"Well, somehow, someway, a significant portion of the American people got the distinct impression that Iraq was (involved in th e9-11 attacks)...."

That's a canard.

Don't cite all the polls. I know about all the polls.

One feeble attempt via logic: One figure bandied about says that 70% of American believe it, or did in 2004 or whenever the poll was taken.

Think what that would mean, very roughly: 100% of Republicans and 40% of Democrats believe it.

Based, by the way, on the subtle insinuations liberals always claim to have seen in scattered administration statements, insinuations and obscure talk-show pronouncements that somehow overwhelmed the very many explicit statements saying he was not involved.

To such an extent, that 100% of Republicans and 40% of otherwise-Bush-hating Democrats accept it.

I'll never convince you of this. Just keep in mind, I definitely have looked at it a lot more carefully than you.

OddD said...

"Where did I say raise taxes? Simply not cutting them would have helped a lot."

That's certainly debatable.

MadisonMan said...

Brian, if you think throwing our rights at the terrorists will win this battle, you are sadly delusional. And your flippancy represents everything that is wrong with the present debate. "The Left" thinks they can win by opposing the war. "The Right" thinks they can win by opposing "The Left" with wisecracks and mocking.

I'm curious what you would suggest. If it's stay the course, please identify what's working. I guess I'll ask fenrisulven the same thing.

Henry said...
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Henry said...

Simply not cutting them would have helped a lot.

Helped what? Be specific.

Freder, I do completely agree with you about making gasoline more expensive; the problem is that nobody important in politics agrees. All summer long the Democratic message has been "George Bush is screwing us with high gas prices." Could just one of them say, "High gas prices are great! They discourage consumption and make alternate energy sources more competitive." Where's Al Gore when you need him?

Funny, whenever I drive north into Massachusetts, the gas gets cheaper. Damn those Massachusetts oil barons.

I'm with Richard Dolan on this one. Kerry wants to put more resources into Afghanistan? Good. Let's call and raise.

RogerA said...

I do think that Richard Dolan raises some good questions that go beyond the level of "who screwed up." Speaking as a retired soldier who did spend some time in Viet Nam, it would do us all good to recall that more resources arent necessarily the answer in any war other, than perhaps, a war of attrition. It is the mix of resources that matters: Heavy divisions arent much good in Afghanistan; as one commenter noted, it will take a lot more special operations forces coupled with a lot more human intelligence agents who are of middle eastern origin to start making real progress--and even then counter-insurgency is a long tough slog with no certain outcomes.

I think the Bush administration has done several significant things from an overall policy level: (1) Made explicit the importance of bringing democracy to the middle east (something not amenable to a military approach, IMO, but can be reinforced with appropriate military action in some cases); (2) repudiating our past policy of appeasing regional dictators to maintain old cold war imperatives. Yes, this requires a rather heavy dose of real politick (relations with Pakistan, for example), but all in all repudiating the old policy was a good step forward. (3) the notion of preemptive war. The dimplomatic debacle with respect to Iran and North Korea suggests that the UN is worse than a toothless tiger. Similarly multilateral approaches (not involving the UN) seem equally unproductive; they only permit shrewd people like Ahmadinejad and the Kim to play off western powers against each other--The impotence of the UN makes the Bush notion of pre-emptive war all the more meaningful and strategically necessary.

The final element to help tie these things together would be a domestic consensus on where the balance is between fighting terrorism and maintaining civil liberties--and that doesnt seem to be anywhere near resolution.

Bruce Hayden said...

Kerry does make some legitimate points, though, as usual, he seems to be criticizing more than really making concrete proposals.

The problem is primarily that thanks to Clinton's Peace Dividend, we really don't have enough troops any more to do what needs to be done, and too many of those we do have are of the wrong type. We need fewer heavy armor and artillary troops and more light infantry, special forces, intelligence, police, etc.

But this isn't the fault of the present Administration. Rather, SecDef Rumsfeld is doing an amazing job of reforming the military to fight the global WoT, from its previous mission of fighting the Soviets in Europe, while still fighting in Afganistan and Iraq.

So, yes, if we had not invaded Iraq, we would have more light troops with the approrpriate skills to deploy in Afganistan.

But that doesn't drain the swamps, but rather just fights the alligators. Iraq has been the center of this part of the world for millenia. And what happens there affects the rest of the Islamic world far, far, more than does what happens in remote Afganistan.

Kerry still doesn't want to admit that this is not a police action against a rogue state that supported terrorists who killed 3,000+ Americans. Rather, this is WWIV (or III, depending on your definition). And either Islamic terrorism and fundamentalism is defeated militarily and ideologically, or it will destroy our civilization, as it intends. And we can't do either one in Afganistan. We could win the battle there, but not the war.

Revenant said...

It amuses me that so many of the people who repeatedly insist that victory in Iraq is impossible insist that victory in Afghanistan is achievable.

Afghanistan is a much nastier, unstable, and Islamist-ridden nation than Iraq is.

The Drill SGT said...

I support what we're doing in Afghanistan, but at some level that country is not governable.

It's all about sheep and the folks that tend them, mean nasty people. With time on their hands to plink at rocks and plot how to steal sheep and women from the next tribe. Nobody has ever goerned Afghanistan really. It's just that before we had modern communications, nobody noticed or cared. The best we're going to be able to do is knock out large groups of Taliban, and protect the cities.

The Afghan government is going to have to win it's battle for hearts and minds.

We tossed the Taliban out with SOF troops riding with the northen alliance and calling in US firepower. That basicly is our approach now, 2 more heavy divisions, which we don't have, would just be more mouths to feed and would not be a good use of troops, better to rest them at home.

Freder Frederson said...

And either Islamic terrorism and fundamentalism is defeated militarily and ideologically, or it will destroy our civilization, as it intends. And we can't do either one in Afganistan.

This is an hilarious and incredibly ignorant statement that just goes to show how confused the right is about the problem and how well the Bush Administration has managed to muddy the waters. Until we went into Iraq, Islamic fundamentalism was not a problem there. Saddam was a freaking socialist bordering on outright Stalinist. He pandered to Islam when it suited his purposes. He was an enemy of islamic fundamentalism. That is why all those preliminary meetings with Al Qaeda resulted in absolutely nothing. They simply didn't trust or like each other.

The Bush Administration's failure to anticipate the Sectarian strife that would ensue once the iron hand of Saddam was released was one of the many incompetent and ideologically blind mistakes it made.

Freder Frederson said...

(2) repudiating our past policy of appeasing regional dictators to maintain old cold war imperatives. Yes, this requires a rather heavy dose of real politick (relations with Pakistan, for example), but all in all repudiating the old policy was a good step forward.

Just saying you are repudiating a policy doesn't make it so. Like so many things the Bush administration says, the rhetoric simply doesn't match the reality (some would say they are simply lying). What have they done to pressure Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan or any other of our traditional allies with oppressive governments in the middle east, or anywhere else in the world to liberalize? In the meantime they cozy up equally or even more repulsive governments like Uzbekistan and Kazakstan if they are willing to give us basing rights.

Heck we're even willing to render people to Syria if they will torture people for us.

downtownlad said...

And what exactly is "victory" in Iraq supposed to mean?

That is a real question, because this is a moving target.

Before we invaded, victory would have been defined as 1) removing Sadaam from power and 2) de-arming Iraq and ensuring that it does not have weapons of mass destruction and maybe as a stretch 3) setting up a democracy in Iraq by having free electins.

Last time I checked all 3 objectives were met. Yet, somehow we're still fighting for "victory" whatever the hell that's supposed to mean nowadays. Defeat the "evil-doers" I guess???? Sounds vague to me.

Revenant said...

Before we invaded, victory would have been defined as 1) removing Sadaam from power and 2) de-arming Iraq and ensuring that it does not have weapons of mass destruction and maybe as a stretch 3) setting up a democracy in Iraq by having free electins.

From Bush's March 17th, 2003 national address:

"Many Iraqis can hear me tonight in a translated radio broadcast, and I have a message for them. If we must begin a military campaign, it will be directed against the lawless men who rule your country and not against you. As our coalition takes away their power, we will deliver the food and medicine you need. We will tear down the apparatus of terror and we will help you to build a new Iraq that is prosperous and free.

So let's have none of this bullshit about how "maybe, as a stretch", we were planning to hold elections and get out of town. Helping Iraq build a stable, democratic government was one of our goals from the very beginning, and anyone who says otherwise is either a liar or simply too ignorant of the history of this conflict to have any business offering an opinion on it.

Yet, somehow we're still fighting for "victory" whatever the hell that's supposed to mean nowadays. Defeat the "evil-doers" I guess???? Sounds vague to me.

Yeah, it is often difficult to understand things you can't be bothered to actually pay attention to.

Fenrisulven said...

Until we went into Iraq, Islamic fundamentalism was not a problem there.

The same can be said about the Soviet Union - their tyranny kept their islamic states in check. I guess we should have left Saddam in power then...

Derve said...

Yeah, it is often difficult to understand things you can't be bothered to actually pay attention to.

Lol. I hate cliches, but...
Black kettle? Meet black pot.

Revenant said...

Lol. I hate cliches

Really? Because I don't think I've ever seen you write anything I haven't read at least a dozen times before.

Derve said...

"Because I don't think I've ever seen you write anything I haven't read at least a dozen times before."

Keep trying to read though.
Denial is a bit hard for some to overcome.