December 5, 2009

"It was just sort of a recognition that, 'Duh, that's what in effect the commander understands he's been told to do.' Everybody said, 'He's right.'"

The "'whoa' moment" in the deliberations over the Afghanistan strategy:
In June, McChrystal noted, he had arrived in Afghanistan and set about fulfilling his assignment. His lean face, hovering on the screen at the end of the table, was replaced by a mission statement on a PowerPoint slide: "Defeat the Taliban. Secure the Population."

"Is that really what you think your mission is?" one of the participants asked.

In the first place, it was impossible -- the Taliban were part of the fabric of the Pashtun belt of southern Afghanistan, culturally if not ideologically supported by a major part of the population. "We don't need to do that," Gates said, according to one participant. "That's an open-ended, forever commitment."

But that was precisely his mission, McChrystal responded, enshrined in the Strategic Implementation Plan -- the execution orders for the March strategy, written by the NSC staff.

87 comments:

Florida said...

When did the Taliban attack the United States?

John Lynch said...

Iraq?

Florida said...

"Iraq?"

Yes, Ms. Minitel has her wars mixed up.

As does Barack Obama.

The Taliban have never attacked the United States and Barack Obama has no business trying to commit a genocide against a people just because they're inconvenient.

Genocide is a war crime and if it's the goal of Barack Obama to eliminate the Taliban then he's guilty of committing an atrocity.

Would we let the President of the United States "eliminate" other inconvenient religious sects, such as Mormons? Or Amish?

Or Jews?

vbspurs said...

From the WaPo article:

What was in front of Obama -- scenarios that took too long to get in and too long to get out -- was not what he wanted.

"I don't know how we can describe this as a surge," he said in a tone that others around the table registered as annoyance.


Ugh. The words of a politician, not a Commander-in-Chief. Someone who wants a quick, expedient victory, with minimum muss to present as one of his accomplishments for re-election.

How is it that a hated President like Bush can go for broke and risk everything for a victory in what was described as a "lost cause" but a man who was elected as a beacon of hope can't do the same for his war?

Cheers,
Victoria

AllenS said...

"Duh, ..." Duh? Duh? I'm getting some bad vibes.

John Lynch said...

Florida, I've seen the argument that the Taliban didn't attack us floating around.

Do people not remember the weeks after 9/11 when the Taliban refused to give up OBL and Al Qeada? Also, they're so integrated at this point that there isn't much difference. The reporting from Afghanistan shows that.

It's like the people who said the NLF/VC was independent of the North Vietnamese government. It's a distinction of words, not reality.

John Lynch said...

Gates and his "light footprint" is sounding distressingly like Rumsfeld.

vbspurs said...

Incidentally, fly-on-the-wall accounts of recent events at the highest levels are thrilling. I was hoping exactly for such an article about the endless meetings regarding the Afghanistan War and now we got one.

John Lynch said...

It's Woodward material.

What interests me is the culture clash between a very reality-oriented military commander and civilians who won't set concrete, empirical goals.

Being able to operationalize the abstract is very important. You have to be able to define your goal in a way that can be measured objectively.

vbspurs said...

Well said, John.

Florida said...

"Do people not remember the weeks after 9/11 when the Taliban refused to give up OBL and Al Qeada?"

John,

With all due respect (and I am nothing if not a believer that we should hunt down every al Queda we can) your logic is not internally consistent.

The Taliban didn't, as you say, "refuse to give up OBL." The government of Afghanistan did that, in recognition of the fact that our two countries have never signed an extradition treaty.

You're suggesting that it's OK for Barack Obama to eliminate a religious sect because their government did not have an extradition treaty with the United States.

By that logic we should invade France, which does not allow their citizens to be deported to face justice in the United States. By your logic the French people should be killed?

The Taliban did not attack us on 9/11. They did not help us, but they are not required to help us. Their government refused to extradite OBL, who is probably back home in Saudi Arabia now.

Saudi citizens, on the other hand, did actually attack the United States with funding from Saudi government officials. They attacked our Pentagon. And yet, we have thusfar been unwilling to invade Saudi Arabia to find and kill the al Queda who live there.

That is wrong.

EDH said...

But that was precisely his mission, McChrystal responded, enshrined in the Strategic Implementation Plan -- the execution orders for the March strategy, written by the NSC staff.

Oh Stanley, you don't take what we in the administration say literally, do you?

vbspurs said...

Dude, why are you arguing with a maybe-possibly-who-knows Moby troll?

Florida said...

"... why are you arguing with a maybe-possibly-who-knows Moby troll?"

VB, we are not arguing.

We are debating an important topic:

Should Barack Obama be allowed to direct our military to kill members of a religious sect (similar to Jews) that did not attack us on 9/11 ... merely because the government of Afghanistan did not have an extradition treaty with the United States, just like France?

That seems wrong. Almost Holocaust-like.

I say that if 9/11 is the reason to have a war, then Saudi Arabia is the primary enemy ... not a bunch of admittedly nutty Muslim people who live mostly in abject poverty in a mountainous desert with no ability to attack us.

I hate their religion and them. But they didn't attack us. Yes, they refused to help us, but lots of countries refuse to help us all the time. That's no cause for a Holocaust.

avwh said...

Heard the CNN foreign specialist on "Fresh Air" on NPR the other day.

Even he says the Taliban and al Qaeda are virtually indistinguishable in the Pakistan/Afghanistan region. Each aids the other; only significant difference is, the Taliban are terrorizing/fighting only in that region, while al Qaeda's targets are in the West, generally.

Wardwood said...

The Taliban kill Coalition soldiers and citizens, intent on destabilizing this whole security project thingy

Maybe more about Pakistan than Afghanistan

We need time

Dropping de bomb Nsufficient

AJ Lynch said...

So it sounds like very few of the mahoffs took the time to read McChrystal's report back in early spring?

That is not surpising for this gang. Obama hardly got involved in what was in the Spendulus plan even though it was the first big thing in his pres term and even though Pelosi spent 2-3 months to craft the piece of crap.

PS. My upset of the week,Pitt, is kicking butt!

wv = papsta [ old rock star]

Skyler said...

I think some people here are pretty clueless about what the Taliban are and their relationship to the Afghan government prior to 9/11 and their relationship to Al Qaeda.

The Taliban was the Afghan government. The Afghan government supported and allowed Al Qaeda to exist and have a sizeable influence on the Taliban and the Afghan government.

To say that the Taliban never attacked us is like saying the Japanese government didn't attack us in 1941, the Imperial Navy did. It's not a precise analogy, but close enough.

To think that we can't defeat the Taliban is absurd. Of course we can. In fact, we did, but they're growing back again after reconstituting in Pakistan where they were able to take control of about a third of that country solely because the Pakistani government failed to stop them.

Any human institution can be destroyed. The Taliban are simply a human institution that needs to be destroyed. They deserve to be destroyed. They threaten us. We must destroy them.

I plan to do my best to help to that end, and I will do so with great gusto.

Skyler said...

Florida,

My god, you're comparing the Taliban to victims of the holocaust? You have little shame.

The Taliban chop children's limbs off.

There's no reason to ascribe to them some protected religious status.

Penny said...

"Incidentally, fly-on-the-wall accounts of recent events at the highest levels are thrilling. I was hoping exactly for such an article about the endless meetings regarding the Afghanistan War and now we got one."

It may be thrilling to read, but I fail to understand how anything positive can come out of leaks from critical meetings such as these.

I have two reactions. One is that what is leaked was meant to be leaked for political reasons, or two, some people are playing fast and loose with our national security.

miller said...

The issue is this: the Taliban did not release OBL when (a) we requested and (b) they had him. We said they had to. We obliged their refusal by going to war against them.

I know this old history is hard to follow, but try to keep up.

And yeah, VB, I agree with you on the Mobyism.

paul a'barge said...

Florida said: [blockquote]The Taliban have never attacked the United States and Barack Obama has no business trying to commit a genocide against a people just because they're inconvenient.

Genocide is a war crime and if it's the goal of Barack Obama to eliminate the Taliban then he's guilty of committing an atrocity.
[/blockquote]

Big sigh.

Yet another troll / moron / pin ball careening through the blogosphere attempting to revise history.

Who will rid us of this mutt?

Ritmo Brasileiro said...

Should Barack Obama be allowed to direct our military to kill members of a religious sect (similar to Jews)

What a busted nut!

A Holocaust! Indeed! The Taliban were not the Afghan government! And harboring fugitives from the murder of 3,000 Americans is tantamount (as far as acts of war go) to refusing to extradite the single sodomite of an underage actress years afterward!

But at least he hates their "religion" (even though it's really moreso a sect) - despite likening it, perhaps - at least in his own mind - to some sort of Ruby Ridge scenario. Or perhaps this analogy helps him justify his stance.

I nominate "Florida" to author the GOP's next platform.

Ritmo Brasileiro said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ritmo Brasileiro said...

And Skyler's new avatar rocks! Much better than the old one.

Synova said...

I think that it's useful, in some respects, to distinguish between the Taliban and al Qeada as well as understanding, which I don't think we do at all, what the various tribal and people and language groups are in Afghanistan. (I've tried to find out what language they speak in Afghanistan and what personal naming conventions are as research for a detail in a book and found very little that was helpful.) Probably, actually, our soldiers who have been there know a great deal more than anyone else.

The Taliban seems to have come to power in a response to general lawlessness in the region, which might make a person sympathetic, except that their idea of keeping the population of women and children safe was to institute drastic religious crackdowns, confine women to small apartments (rather than large family compounds) day in and day out, ban education for women, ban women from seeing male doctors, and make music against the law.

The Taliban and al Qeada may be indistinguishable but is it common cause or that they are the same? In Iraq it was useful to separate various insurgent groups, Bathists from Suni Arabs from the Shia fighting us and the new government there... because their motivations were different.

And all diplomacy and all war is an effort to get the other side to change their minds.

Lawgiver said...

McChrystal had offered three options for new troop levels -- 20,000, 40,000 and 80,000 -- each with a timeframe for deployment and a level of risk. The 20,000 and the 80,000 were "throwaways," a defense participant said.

Interesting. Super genius generals and policy makers play little number games when discussing how may of our troops they will put in harms way.

David said...

Um...the Taliban is not a sect. It is a political movement, translating roughly to "the schoolboys." It was founded by young Mullahs who mostly spent the Russian war in Pakistan to fight the warlords and the central government.

Ultimately, they incorporated a bunch of warlords and took over the central government. They worked hand-in-hand with al-Qaeda and clearly had fore-warning of and participated in 9/11. The week before 9/11, al Qaeda assassinated the head of the Northern Alliance, the Taliban's primary domestic opponent at the time.

The Drill SGT said...

"Is that really what you think your mission is?" one of the participants asked.

translated: McChrystal, "WTF?, That's what you REMF's told me to do!

---------------------
They are clearly looking for a US political victory and a way to declare it and get the hell out.

changing the mission:

Defeat the Taliban --> Degrade the Taliban

is like

Jobs Created --> Jobs saved

the first definition of each is clear and meaningful, the second is subjective and unddefinable by any objective standards, which allows Obama to declare degradation and bail out at any time.

Cedarford said...

FRom the article, another huge "oh nuts! moment was this:

All of those in the room had read McChrystal's classified 66-page assessment of "serious and deteriorating" conditions in Afghanistan, which made clear that "we were starting from zero after eight years of war,"

8 years of Dubya and his Heroes of Afghanistan and all the speeches and state dinners for his Special Friend Ahmed Karzai..Laura Bush blathering about how we "freed women of their Burquas and children are flying kites again.."

Square one...after 8 years of endless war and hundreds of billions pissed away and 9,000 casualties...

========================
Skyler - To say that the Taliban never attacked us is like saying the Japanese government didn't attack us in 1941, the Imperial Navy did. It's not a precise analogy, but close enough.

It's not precise at all. The Taliban was unaware of 9/11 and all too unaware of the ability of the US to project force. They thought offering sanctuary to fellow Islamoids was low-risk. It wasn't. But the relationship was not line of command control like from the Jap Gov't to Jap Navy to Jap carrier task force to combat pilots. It was more like Irish Americans in Boston and NYC offering lodging and drinks to IRA members, with no clue as to what the terrorists were up to in the UK...but whatever, they are Our Brothers.

==================
Skyler, again - To think that we can't defeat the Taliban is absurd. Of course we can. In fact, we did, but they're growing back again.
You are right if you are implying we "defeated" the Taliban much as Democrats wupped up on the hapless minions of Dubya and McCain in 2006 and 2008.
What happened was the Taliban then simply went back to their Pashtun villages and waited for Bush and Karzai to fuck things up, not deliver on promises. Then they resurged.
Can we invade and occupy every Pashtun village, close off the Paki border so they are isolated from another 21 million of their armed fellow Pashtun tribesmen?

Truely defeat them?

No way.

Best to bring them into power, as long as they agree to basic things. Like no more foreign fighters or they get bombed just like before...and agree to basic things like improving Afghan's infrastructure, tamping down on the NA and Karzai brother's opium trade.

David said...

A senior White House adviser who took extensive notes of the meeting recalled, "The big moment when the mission became a narrower one was when we realized we're not going to kill every last member of the Taliban."

What a bunch of strategic geniuses. Thank God Roosevelt succeeded in his plan to kill every last German and Japanese solder. Otherwise we would have lost World War II.

It must be occurring to McCrystal and other senior commanders that resignation is an option. Probably they don't out of loyalty to those they command (got that, Washington politicians?) and concern that the alternative would be worse.

Obama is surrounded by weasels, already spinning their role in the press. I congratulate the President for getting the decision at least half right given the nature of the people around him.

Finally, note the adviser who emphasized that we are now essentially back at square one. Ludicrous. And also a terrible disservice to all who have fought there. By the way, folks, everything you have done was useless.

Weasels.

edutcher said...

Lawgiver said...

McChrystal had offered three options for new troop levels -- 20,000, 40,000 and 80,000 -- each with a timeframe for deployment and a level of risk. The 20,000 and the 80,000 were "throwaways," a defense participant said.

Interesting. Super genius generals and policy makers play little number games when discussing how may of our troops they will put in harms way.


I note you're willing to take the supergenius WaPo's word on this. Considering they're still shilling for the Demos and, of course, The Zero, that's not a genius move.

Gates, of course, is a politician (his nickname, "The Survivor", is telling), but whether he said what he is reputed to have said about going after the Taliban is up for grabs. McChrystal has spent enough time on the ground that the "Defeat the Taliban. Secure the Population." sentiment sounds like a Ranger's view of the matter, but it doesn't quite jibe with the whole "throwaway" thing.

PS Flo, we've agreed in the past on some things, but you're sounding like William Ayers here (unless, of course, you're really Montagne or somebody like that)

David said...

AJ I agree. The weasels know no party, though I note that the Republicans have not nominated or elected John Kerry.

paul a'barge said...

[blockquote]"Defeat the Taliban. Secure the Population."

"Is that really what you think your mission is?" one of the participants asked.
[/blockquote]

Me: "Do you know what your mission is?"

General McChrystal: "Why don't you tell me what my mission is".

Me: "Kill the Taliban. Kill them all. Stack their bodies like cord wood outside the towns. Impale them on lances. Then burn them in piles."

General McChrystal: "Roger that!"

paul a'barge said...

Synova said: [blockquote]I've tried to find out what language they speak in Afghanistan and what personal naming conventions are as research for a detail in a book and found very little that was helpful. [/blockquote]

Help here. Google is your friend

Ralph L said...

Gates and his "light footprint" is sounding distressingly like Rumsfeld
I read that was more Abizaid than Rumsfeld. I also suspect Petraeus' change to COIN wouldn't have worked very well before the Sunnis tired of Al Queda in 2006.

Florida said...

Some facts need to enter this debate:

1) The Taliban is a religious sect (it is a branch of Sunni Islam). In the relgion of Islam, there is no division between "political" and "religious" as there is in the United States. Attempting to "eliminate" the Taliban is functionally no different than trying to "eliminating" the Jews, or the Mormons, or the Amish.

2) The Taliban have never attacked the United States. (This is not to suggest they aren't attacking US forces in their homeland. They are clearly defending their homeland.)

3) Afghanistan did not have an extradition treaty with the United States. Neither does France. Lots of countries choose for various legitimate reasons not to extradite people to the United States. It is against international law to extradite a person in the absence of a signed treaty (a practice is called "rendition."). Barack Obama supported this ban on rendition while running for the Presidency.

4) Khalid Sheik Muhommad, an Egyptian, planned the 9/11 attacks. Osama bin Laden, a Saudi Arabian, financed the operation with Saudi government assistance. No Afghans were amongst the hijackers or planners.

5) Virtually all of the hijackers were Saudi Arabian (except 1 Lebanese, 1 Egyptian, and 1 from the UAE). We have not invaded Saudi Arabia to search for al Queda members living there.

6) Congress has never declared war on "the Taliban" and has not authorized Barack Obama to attack "the Taliban."

7) The Taliban do not control Afghanistan. They were removed from power by NATO forces eight years ago.

What is now occurring in Afghanistan is an illegal war of aggression against a people that has never attacked the United States.

I am second to nobody in believing that anyone who attacks the United States should be hunted down and brought to justice.

However, the Taliban have never attacked us and the war that Barack Obama is leading has not been authorized by our Congress.

Alex said...

When will Obama be indicted for war crimes in the International Criminal Court? *crickets*

Alex said...

Obama is committing a war crime(unprovoked aggression) and should be impeached immediately by the Congress. I'm writing all 435 members of the House today about this, and tomorrow all 100 Senators.

Florida said...

Paul a Barge wrote: "Kill the Taliban. Kill them all. Stack their bodies like cord wood outside the towns. Impale them on lances. Then burn them in piles."

Let's replace one word there and see how it sounds.

"Kill the Jews. Kill them all. Stack their bodies like cord wood outside the towns. Impale them on lances. Then burn them in piles."

Now, where have I heard that before?

Cedarford said...

Pretty obvious. The mask has slipped from "Florida" in this thread - if anyone had any doubts, before.

A Moby, for sure.

Donna B. said...

Florida:
"In the relgion of Islam, there is no division between "political" and "religious".

This is a problem, is it not? How can we fight and denounce the political aims without fighting and denouncing the religious ones when they are the same?

Florida said...

Cedarford has come out as a skinhead Nazi in this thread, for sure, in case anyone was wondering.

Florida said...

"How can we fight and denounce the political aims without fighting and denouncing the religious ones when they are the same?

Here's how we do it:

Step 1) Barack Obama must get permission from Congress to conduct a war on the Taliban.

That has not occurred.

The Taliban did not attack us on 9/11. They have not invaded America. Barack Obama has not gotten Congressional authorization to conduct a war against the Taliban.

Until he does, it's an illegal war of aggression. A war crime.

If our goal is the elimination of a religious sect (the Taliban) then I'm not for it any more than I'd be for eliminating Jews or Mormons just because I disagree with how they conduct their politicial/reglious lives in their own country.

Find al Queda. Attack al Queda. Kill al Queda. I'm all for that. Use nukes to get them, I don't care.

They're in Saudi Arabia. Go get 'em.

Jeff said...

Yeah Lawgiver, this article and that throwaway line is just smoke and chaff. Hopefully, no one in the military thinks that way. This is some weasel DOD politician repeating the Obama admin spin that they had out there beforehand. Stupid marketing peoplespeak.

Bob said...

Florida, the Taliban were the rulers of Afghanistan during the period in which Al Qeada estaiblished and operated training camps within Afghanistan. After 9/11 we demanded AQ members and that AQ camps be shut down. They refused. In otherwords they harbored and aided a terrorist organization. For which they were forcibly removed from power by US forces and under a UN mandate.

Obama is continuing a war already sanctioned by Congress. Now if he wants to show some real balls then have him go to Congress and formally declare war.

PatCA said...

Those skeezy bastards!

So the problem now is, according to some well placed leaks, that McChrystal "misunderstood" their strategy and took it "literally."

Ironclad said...

To answer the question posed earlier - "How can we fight and denounce the political aims without fighting and denouncing the religious ones when they are the same?" - the simple answer is to drop the PC talk and start de-legitimizing certain sects of Islam. I am speaking here of the Deobandi sect that is the basis for the Taliban ideology. The problem with that is, of course, that in doing that - you are at the same time putting a finger in the eye of Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf states that are your "allies".

The biggest problem (to me at least) is that no one will address the reason these people fight - much less do anything to combat it because they are terrified as being seen as anti-Islam. Obama calls the Taliban "a cancer" but there he does nothing to suggest that the belief system has been perverted to the point that these people kill other Muslims because they view them as "heretics" for not following the Taliban beliefs. (of course if the answer is that the belief system does support their view - then you have the problem that you can NEVER win the ideology battle).

Where in the new "surge" is anything that strikes the enemy at his belief? Or tries to separate the Pastuns from the Deobandi school that many of them have embraced? Until the root of the problem is addressed - and openly discussed - all you can do is keep killing until no one is left (ie - Ghengis Khan solution: kill everyone over the age of 2. Which is really not the place you want to go).

Florida said...

"Obama is continuing a war already sanctioned by Congress."

No, he is not.

Congress never "sanctioned" a war against the Taliban (which, in his own words, General McCrystal is now fighting). Obama is no longer fighting al Queda. He has ordered McCyrstal to attack and kill, in his own words, the Taliban, a religious/political sect of Sunni Islam that has never attacked America and did not plan or execute the 9/11 attacks.

There are two Congressional authorizations for the use of military force that were sought by George W. Bush.

One authorized a war against the nation of Iraq. You can read that here:

http://www.c-span.org/resources/pdf/hjres114.pdf

The second authorized military action against the al Queda terrorists who perpetrated the 9/11 attacks, and anyone aiding them.

You can read that authorization here:

http://news.findlaw.com/wp/docs/terrorism/sjres23.es.html

Neither of these laws authorize Barack Obama to conduct a war to exterminate the Taliban.

Al Queda attacked us on 9/11 (not the Taliban).

The Afghan government was overthrown eight years ago by NATO forces and a new President elected (Hamid Karzei). The Taliban since that time have not controlled the government of Afghanistan.

In 2001, after the government was overthrown, al Queda left Afghanistan. Some members of it are hiding in Pakistan, where they receive assistance from the Pakistani government. (Obama, notably, has not ordered McCrystal to attack the nation of Pakistan even though that nation is directly aiding al Queda.)

Most al Queda have returned home to the safety of Saudi Arabia, from where it was funded by elements within the Saudi Arabian royal family, according to the official 9/11 Commission final report. The Taliban did not fund 9/11. Saudi Arabians did.

Barack Obama is waging an illegal undeclared war against a religious sect that never attacked us and are not terrorists.

He is committing a war crime.

Skyler said...

sunshine, you don't know anything about al Qaeda or the Taliban.

Al Qaeda is certainly still in that region, bin Laden is in pakistan and sending people into Afghanistan to fight us. Al Qaeda is using the Taliban to disrupt the new Afghan government. The Taliban are anxious to regain power and the freedom to chop the limbs off of children again.

Your own cite clearly shows that we can fight anyone aiding al Qaeda and the Taliban are in that category.

Why do you defend child mutilators?

Youngblood said...

Florida,

Do some research into the 55th Arab Brigade of Taliban-era Afghanistan's Army. (Protip: It was an official Taliban military unit that was made up of Al-Qaeda terrorists. It was led by Osama bin Laden.)

For quite some time, and up until the Taliban were displaced as the ruling regime, Al-Qaeda was the de facto intelligence agency of Afghanistan, spying and performing assassinations and attacks for the country's Taliban rulers.

What you're arguing here is, to put it bluntly, complete and total dumbfuckery.

Rialby said...

Florida - I will pay for the flight to Afghanistan so that you can go around and check everyone's Al Qaeda membership cards. Just let us know which of the men with Kalashnikovs strapped to their backs are AQ and which ones are Taliban. We'll wait.

Michael McNeil said...

So many errors and misrepresentations in so few words.

The Taliban is a religious sect (it is a branch of Sunni Islam).

Saying it again and again and again doesn't make it so. The Taliban is an organization, not a religion, nor even a sect of a religion. Its members would vehemently deny being distinct from Islam.

It is against international law to extradite a person in the absence of a signed treaty (a practice is called “rendition.”).

No it's not. “Human rights groups charge that extraordinary rendition is a violation of Article 3 of the United Nations Convention Against Torture (UNCAT), because suspects are taken to countries where torture during interrogation remains common, thus circumventing the protections the captives would enjoy in the United States or other nations who abide by the terms of UNCAT.” just because “human rights groups charge” something doesn't make it so, but even if it were, the U.S. is a signatory to the UNCAT, therefore it doesn't violate “international law” to render suspects to the United States.

We have not invaded Saudi Arabia to search for al Queda members living there.

Saudi Arabia does not harbor Al Qaeda, but rather searches out and vigorously attacks that organization itself. Had the Taliban done likewise, there never would have been an Afghanistan war.

Congress has never declared war on “the Taliban” and has not authorized Barack Obama to attack “the Taliban.”

Wrong. An Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) is the exact constitutional equivalent of a “declaration of war,” so titled, as the present Vice President of the United States (as well as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and author of the AUMF passed soon after 9/11) Joe Biden unequivocally stated in a speech given on October 22, 2001.

As the AUMF passed by Congress in the wake of 9/11 reads: “[T]he President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.”

The Taliban is just such an organization, hence war has been declared against the Taliban.

What is now occurring in Afghanistan is an illegal war of aggression against a people that has never attacked the United States.

What stupidity. The Taliban is not a “people,” and the U.S. is not attacking the people of Afghanistan, but rather defending them against a fanatical organization that intends to re-enslave them to its ideology.

Penny said...

Florida, do we need yet another president charged as a "war criminal", if only in on-line rhetoric?

Exactly what does that accusation have to do with the security and safety of this country or the world?

Jeremy said...

While someone is making that case that Taliban is the equivalent to the Jews, I think he's missing the more obvious and apt comparison - to the Nazis. It's really an ideology, not a religion

It might be based on religion, but so was Nazism (a mish mash of Nordic Paganism and Occultism, mostly, with some bits from Christianity)

Frankly, any ideology that favors throwing acid on young girls for going to school or dressing in something other than a burka deserves to be wiped out.

Penny said...

"Frankly, any ideology that favors throwing acid on young girls for going to school or dressing in something other than a burka deserves to be wiped out."

Or surely put in an American prison. Right?

Ralph L said...

Ideology goes to prison?
What a weird thread. Florida drops its foul wingnut moby mask, and Jeremy makes perfect sense.

Palladian said...

It's a different Jeremy. To the new Jeremy, I suggest you add something to your moniker to distinguish yourself from the resident Jeremy. He's not the sort of chap with whom you'd wish to be confused...

Zach said...

On Oct. 9, after awaking to the news that he had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, Obama listened to McChrystal's presentation. The "mission" slide included the same words: "Defeat the Taliban." But a red box had been added beside it saying that the mission was being redefined, Jones said. Another participant recalled that the word "degrade" had been proposed to replace "defeat."

Already briefed on the previous day's discussion, the president "looked at it and said: 'To be fair, this is what we told the commander to do. Now, the question is, have we directed him to do more than what is realistic? Should there be a sharpening . . . a refinement?' " one participant recalled.

Said a senior White House adviser who took extensive notes of the meeting: "The big moment when the mission became a narrower one was when we realized we're not going to kill every last member of the Taliban."


For an article that was obviously supported by the administration, this is a pretty awful paragraph. "Defeat the Taliban" was the sticking point? Honestly?

Obama "didn't just want a number picked out," said the official, who attended all the meetings. "He wanted the strategy to drive the number."

This is not really what Obama's doing. He's choosing the strategy in order to choose the number. The only thing he's actually pushing for in the entire article is speed. He wants the troops there faster. He wants to pull them out faster.

My take on the article is that our big strategy right now is pulling out in 2011. Obama will push a few resources into the fight in the meantime, but the timetable is driving the strategy.

vbspurs said...

Saying it again and again and again doesn't make it so. The Taliban is an organization, not a religion, nor even a sect of a religion. Its members would vehemently deny being distinct from Islam.

Please. It's like saying the IRA are a religious breakaway sect of Roman Catholicism.

The futility of arguing with a Moby is for all to see.

vbspurs said...

It's a different Jeremy.

Ohhh. Thank God Palladian checked out the profiles before, to realise the diff.

Skyler said...

Zach wins for best analysis.

Florida said...

@Michael McNeil

"The Taliban is an organization, not a religion ..."

The Catholic Church is also an organization. Operating out of Vatican City in Rome. It is universally regarded as a religion, despite being an organization.

Whenever a group of people gather to worship their god, they are an organization. Saying the Taliban is an "organization" does not preclude them from being a religious order.

You know nothing about Islam, it is painfully obvious. The Taliban is a strict sect of Sunni Islam which practices strict Sharia (a convergence of religion and politics).

They are no different, fundamentally, than Jews, who organized their state (Israel) under Jewish principles. You (and I) disagree with how they practice their religion, but they are not a terrorist organization. Calling them one over and over and over won't change that fact.

The Taliban did not attack us on 9/11. The government of Afghanistan offered to extradite bin Laden to the United States if the US would provide some evidence that bin Laden was responsible for the 9/11 attacks.

At any rate, that government was overthrown by US and coalition forces in 2001 and has had no power over Afghanistan since then.

Members of the Saudi Royal family which rules the nation of Saudi Arabia paid for the attacks of 9/11. They are the enemy. They funded the attacks.

We should be fighting them, not a bunch of religious zealots stuck in a mountainous desert without the capability to attack us.

Historians will look back on us and compare us with the Nazi regime thanks to Barack Obama.

The Nazi Regime attempted to rid the world of Jews in precisely the same way that the Obama Regime is attempting to rid the world of Taliban.

Florida said...

Reuters:

The United States has no intelligence to suggest that al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden is being hidden by the Taliban, and has not had any good intelligence on his whereabouts in “years,” Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Saturday.

"We don't know for a fact where Osama bin Laden is. If we did, we'd go and get him," Gates said in excerpts released by ABC.

Asked when was the last time the United States had any good intelligence on his whereabouts, Gates said, "I think it's been years."

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/34297210/ns/world_news-south_and_central_asia/

So, Obama's own Defense Secretary is admitting he has no intelligence to suggest that the Taliban are assisting bin Laden and has had no good intelligence in years on this issue.

Barack Obama is not fighting al Queda. He is attempting to exterminate the Taliban - "a Sunni Islamist religious" group.

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

Skyler said...

I'm ignoring whatever Florida wrote . . .

I want to add that in military circles, words in a mission statement are very doctrinal. "Destroy" has a precise meaning, as does "degrade." When a mission is handed down to a subordinate unit, each word is pored over for its exact meaning to understand the interpretation on the commander's authority to act or the extent he is constrained to act.

Destroy is defined as this in the doctrinal publication (MCRP 5-2A Operational Terms and Graphics):

destroy — 1. A tactical task to physically render an enemy force combat-ineffective unless it is reconstituted. 2. To render a target so damaged that it cannot function as intended nor be restored to a usable condition without being entirely rebuilt. (See also defeat.) See FMs 1-111, 5-100, 6-20, 71-100, 100-5, and 100-15. C-9

Nowhere does it say that "destroy" means to kill every last Taliban. "Degrade" isn't even listed as a term, which considering the number of terms so precisely defined would indicate to me that they wanted a new word that isn't already defined for some purpose. I guess this way they can now claim "degrade" to mean whatever they wish it to mean.

I'm not sure why "destroy" as defined here is so objectionable.

Skyler said...

Oh, and I didn't edit my last post well. When I first mentioned "degrade" as having a definition, I was assuming that it did. In my final paragraph I had already looked it up and learned that it wasn't defined. Sorry for that careless error.

Florida said...

@Michael McNeil, who erroneously claimed: "The Taliban is an organization, not a religion ..."

Your use of the term "organization" is misplaced. I'm using the term "organization" in the strict legal sense of the word as it relates to US foreign policy.

The United States Department of State keeps a list of
"Foreign Terrorist Organizations." So, we don't have to debate whether the Taliban is an "organization" or not. The State Department keeps a list of all Foreign Terrorists Organizations for the purposes of our foreign policy.

You can read the list here:

http://www.state.gov/s/ct/rls/other/des/123085.htm

The Taliban is not on the list. The Taliban do not meet the requirements for membership as a Foreign Terrorist Organization by US law.

The Taliban have never been accused by anyone of any terrorist activity in the United States or against American civilians abroad. If I am mistaken, please link me to contradictory information.

Florida said...

@Skyler

You seem to be very knowledgeable about military operations, so I hope you can answer a question for me.

The Taliban have no ability to manufacture arms or ammunition (unless I am mistaken).

But judging from what I'm reading about their capabilities, they seem to have a steady source of both weapons and ammo.

From whom are they purchasing their arms and ammunition? And what is the source of their funding?

traditionalguy said...

Reading this thread the next day, it is interesting to watch Florida make very good debating points rather than his old calls to violent acts by conservatives. IMO Florida is a nuanced super liberal. The debate points he made on the Afghan debacle are very well done. It may very well be "illegal" under international compacts, that we created, for our country to treat the resident Pashtoun tribes in the badlands, that have always been theirs, the same way the US Army treated the Barbary Pirates in the early 1800s and the Apache bands in the sonoran desert in the late 1800s. Can we treat them as bandits in their own country to be hunted, captured and their attitudes towards infidel invaders and towards tribal women as requiring reeducation? On top of that, there is no reason for us to do so, except to prove that we have the will to do it and thereby to scare (terrorise back) the Saudis and Syrians and persuade them to cease and desist their long war against The Great Satan. By Obama already tacitly and secretly telling the Saudis and Syrians that he does not resist them anymore, the country of Afghanistan has already lost its only value to us as an example. The Iraq combat to the death under Bush was the real example in spades anyway. We know that the Obama plans have always been to escalate in Afghan mountains while we pull out of Iraq, which is the exact worst strategy combination possible and designed only to waste our military for no cause. It is in essence a slick preplanned militery failure that nevertheless will resonate as a warlike act among knee jerk conservatives.Therefore I believe that Florida, like Obama, is again showing off a Judo expert's mastery in using his opponent's own reaction momentum to throw him.

Florida said...

@traditionalguy

Let me make one thing perfectly clear:

The Saudi Arabian royal family are our true enemy. We should invade Saudi Arabia, kill every single last one of them, take every last drop of their oil and gold, and nuke Mecca and Medina to keep people away from there.

The Taliban are offensive and brutal people. But they are not terrorists. I'm sorry but being assholes is not justification for war.

Members of the Saudi Royal family, on the other hand, funded t5he attacks of 9/11 and continue to this day to offer succor to al Queda.

Memo to Robert Gates: I know where Osama bin Laden is. He's in Riyadh. There, you now have actionable intelligence.

Invade.

Go get him.

Florida said...

@Skyler

I agree with your analysis. "... it is either Iran or China, maybe Russia."

Are these not the real terrorists, then? Should we not invade Russia? China? Iran? Why fight proxy battles against ants and give away strategies?

"They pay for [ammo] from poppies and the heroin market. This is common knowlege."

How can there be a poppy plantation anywhere in Afghanistan when we control the skies?

If we are going to fight, we need to do two things first:

1) Eliminate the enemy's ability to pay for weapons and ammunition.

2) Bomb their suppliers.

Skyler said...

Florida,

I agree that Russia, China and especially Saudi Arabia are worthwhile to attack, but that will not happen in the foreseeable future.

Just because there is more than one guilty party doesn't mean we can't pick and choose whom to go after first.

As for eliminating poppy fields, you're off you're rocker. We can't even eliminate drug farms in our own country, how will we find and destroy them all in a wild place like Afghanistan?

Florida said...

@traditionalguy

"It is in essence a slick preplanned military failure ..."

Bingo.

Barack Obama does not want to fight terrorists. He'd rather bow to them and suck their cocks.

So, he has placed our military into a mountainous region that has seen the defeat of every single army every deployed into it throughout all of history.

Why?

I believe it is because Barack Obama wants to see dead US soldiers in coffins coming back to Andrews Air Force Base so he can hold photo ops showing their flag-draped caskets. And laugh.

Fuck him.

We shouldn't be fighting Taliban poppy farmers who have no strategic ability to attack us and who never have. Burn their fucking fields right before the harvest, after they've spent all year raising their precious poppy's. Once they figure out it ain't profitable anymore, they'll stop growing them and start growing corn.

People in this thread who accuse the government of Afghanistan with supporting terrorists merely because al Queda set up camps in the mountains have no grasp of history or understanding of the region.

Afghanistan is huge. There are very few people who live there (relatively speaking). There are vast areas where the government proper exerts no control. It's not like the United States where the authorities are in control of 100% of the available space. There are thousands of square miles of Afghanistan where nobody is in control. It is trivial to set up a hundreds of small terrorist training camps and the Afghan government not even be aware of it.

We should definitely keep a presence in Afghanistan probably only because it is strategically useful to real terrorists. I think we can do that effectively.

We should not, as a strategic matter, be attempting to eliminate a religious sect that are not terrorists and who haven't attacked the US.

Real terrorists live in Saudi Arabia. They use our own fucking oil money to supply the weapons and ammunition used to kill our soldiers.

Barack Obama has responded to that threat by placing our miltary into the worst possible place - at the base of a mountain range - where they will be easy to kill.

His stated goal of eliminating a religious sect makes Barack Obama a war criminal.

Arrest him. Try him. Convict him. Punish him.

Florida said...

@Skyler

"... how will we find and destroy them all [poppy fields] in a wild place like Afghanistan?"

We don't need to find and destroy them all ... but we do need to destroy a lot of them.

We have satellites capable of telling us which fields are filled with poppy.

We have crop dusters.

We have chemicals to spray on poppy.

It is really trivial.

Unmanned drone crop dusters featuring a 30mm Avenger defensive system could do the job very effectively.

Once Afghan farmers realize that the corn crop was left alone, but the poppy crop is just going to get chemicals sprayed on them, they'll stop wasting their time growing poppy and grow corn instead.

Jason said...

Florida,

Really. Don't make me smack you.

Michael McNeil said...

Florida admits that the Taliban is a “Sunni Islamist religious” group — but that doesn't make them a “religion” or even a separate sect of a religion. There's very little to distinguish the Taliban from other Sunni religious groups, such as the Saudi Wahhabis, nor indeed from Al Qaeda (which is also a Sunni Islamist religious group).

He asks where the Taliban is getting its support. The answer of course, at least in the main, is from other Islamist Muslims. It is they who are providing at least much of the funding as well as thousands of fighters who have been flocking to Afghanistan since their defeat in Iraq, much as they did in the latter country during the days when it was (in the words of Al Qaeda) the “central front” in their jihad against the West.

One thing for sure: Islamists from across the Sunni Muslim world would never provide that support if they dreamed that the Taliban really were a separate “religion” or even just “sect” of Islam.

Even if it were true (and it's not), but if the Taliban were a separate distinct religion, that doesn't mean it's somehow unconstitutional and illegal for the U.S. to wage war against them — any more than it would be unconstitutional for America to fight a war against the Catholic Church (or, say, Israel) were it to have supported and hosted a sub-group which similarly attacked and immolated alive 3,000 helpless office workers whilst burning out the heart of America's largest city.

Waging war with the intent of defeating one's demonstrated foes is a very far cry from a perpetrating a “holocaust” — and the comment one member of the Obama Administration made that defeating the Taliban is somehow equivalent to an attempt to “exterminate” every last Taliban soldier is simply absurd.

Florida said...

"There's very little to distinguish the Taliban from other Sunni religious groups, such as the Saudi Wahhabis, nor indeed from Al Qaeda.

Bullshit.

What distinguishes the Taliban and al Queda is that al Queda is a Saudi Arabian-based terrorist organization that had the capability of attacking US civilians in America and that they did so on 9/11.

The Taliban have never perpetrated a terrorist attack on American civilians anywhere on the globe, much less in New York City and thus, are not categorized by the US Department of State as being a Foreign Terrorist Organization.

Michael McNeil said...

The Taliban have never perpetrated a terrorist attack on American civilians anywhere on the globe, much less in New York City and thus, are not categorized by the US Department of State as being a Foreign Terrorist Organization.

Irrelevant. The Taliban hosted and supported Al Qaeda who did the actual attack on New York and Washington, never have disowned them, and are still allied with them. It doesn't matter if the Taliban are a group listed with the State Dept. as a “terrorist organization,” as by the 2001 AUMF the United States is legally at war with them.

Florida said...

"The Taliban hosted and supported Al Qaeda... "

I'm glad that you have now admitted that the Taliban are not terrorists.

The former government of Afghanistan may well have supported al Queda (and even that is debateable).

Nevertheless, we toppled that government 8 years ago and installed a new government headed by Hamid Karzai. The Taliban now control no parts of the Afghanistan government, have never been terrorists, have demonstrated no desire to become terrorists and have never attacked US civilians. They are not on the State Department's list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations.

Thus, they are not included in the Authorization for the Use of Miltary Force passed by the Congress.

President Barack Obama is thus a war criminal and is conducting an illegal, unauthorized war of aggression for which he should be prosecuted.

Nichevo said...

Did Robert Cook hack Florida's account? I am amazed at this sudden outburst from him. People had been calling him a moby for a while now but I didn't see it...very subtle.

However, FL, while anything bad that happens to Obama is okay by me, so is ending all life in Afghanistan, or for that matter NWFP/Baluchistan/all of Pakistan, Iran, China and Russia, as necessary for our security. War crimes, whatever, please don't bore me with details.

So it would be hypocritical for me to condemn Obama for killing foreigners. And we all know there is nothing worse that hypocrisy! You are allowed to kill foreigners, that's why one wants to belong to a powerful nation-state or be on good terms with one.

Meanwhile, what part of "If you harbor a terrorist you're a terrorist" didn't you understand and like in 2001?

The only reason to think seriously about bugging out of AF now is that it is a bad place to fight a war and one wonders what actual good one can do there - make smaller rocks? - for all the effort we are putting into it.

It might be best to do a drone/SOCOM limited CT effort there, but the opinions that I have that are valuable, i.e. from serving military personnel, are to the contrary, so I tend to defer to them.

What would be really great would be egging the actual neighbors into a nice war-to-the-death over there, and holding their coats, watching them fight. Sadly we are nowhere near even gaming that.

Nichevo said...

Also, the fact that the Taliban are a defeated, hunted remnant of their 9/10 selves does not mean that you let up on them. If such as Moseby and Quantrill and Forrest had kept on in a guerilla war after Appomattox, would that mean the Union wouldn't be allowed to hunt 'em down, or that it would be genocide to do so? Nonsense, as the current parlance goeth, on stilts.

Ann Althouse said...

Sorry I wrote Iraq. Corrected.

Florida said...

"If you harbor a terrorist you're a terrorist."

I couldn't agree more. That's why we should invade Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

There is no evidence that the Taliban are:

a) terrorists
b) ever were terrorists, or
c) are harboring terrorists

The government of Afghanistan could be argued to have been "harboring terrorists" and I was OK with replacing that government. Had to be done.

We did that. Eight years ago. We are the government of Afghanistan and have been since 2001.

The Taliban are not harboring terrorists. They are killing American soldiers, but that doesn't make you a terrorist. And that's why the State Department does not classify the Taliban as a Foreign Terrorist Organization.

Real terrorists - combatants who target civilians - are being harbored by the governments of Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

I would argue we should invade both those countries and kill anyone who tries to stop us - because the governments of those two countries are actually harboring real 9/11 terrorists.

Alex said...

Florida - it is true that the Taliban terrorizes Afghanis.

Andrea said...

Are we sure that this is the same Florida that used to comment here? Because I could swear Florida used to have a Blogger profile that you could look at, but now like many other trolls (for example, garage mahal) that infest this place, he's placed his profile behind a "not publicly available" wall. Not that all the trolls do that -- but some of the most useless ones do.

Anyway, Florida's gone to my "kill file" of commenters on Althouse to scroll past.

miller said...

Andrea - yeah, me too. I didn't particularly like the old Florida, whom I suspected of being a Moby. The new Florida is insane in other ways.

killfile

along with MUL/BSR/RB/ETC. The only two posters on Althouse I simply scroll past and delete.

Michael McNeil said...

That's why we should invade Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

There is no evidence that the Taliban are:

a) terrorists
b) ever were terrorists, or
c) are harboring terrorists


Of course the Taliban are harboring terrorists. They're still allied with Al Qaeda, Al Qaeda is hiding out in the same borderland areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan that they occupy, and Al Qaeda fighters are fighting by their side.

But Florida isn't suggesting just invading Saudi Arabia (while charging Obama with being a “war criminal” for prosecuting the war in Afghanistan under extremely restricted rules of engagement, so restricted that yesterday's “Day by Day” cartoon lampoons them), rather F. argued earlier in this thread that “We should invade Saudi Arabia, kill every single last one of them, take every last drop of their oil and gold, and nuke Mecca and Medina to keep people away from there.”

Not only would that itself be an enormous war crime, but it would instantly convince all Muslims everywhere that the U.S. is indeed waging war on Islam itself rather than a single fanatical group. Thus, F. is indeed a troll — or a fool. I vote for both.