August 22, 2017

Breitbart — now with Bannon — covers Trump's Afghanistan speech.

A screen shot of the front page right now:



Key word: "Flip-flop."

Seemingly ready-made joke that contains a pop-culture reference you might need to be over 40 to get: "…HIS MCMASTER’S VOICE."

Whether you get the reference or not, you might be interested to know that Wikipedia has a page for "His Master's Voice":
His Master's Voice, abbreviated HMV, is a famous trademark in the music and recording industry and was the unofficial name of a major British record label [parent of RCA]. The name was coined in the 1890s as the title of a painting of a dog....



[T]he dog, a terrier named Nipper, had originally belonged to Barraud's brother, Mark. When Mark Barraud died, Francis inherited Nipper, with a cylinder phonograph and recordings of Mark's voice. Francis noted the peculiar interest that the dog took in the recorded voice of his late master emanating from the horn, and conceived the idea of committing the scene to canvas....

In 1968, RCA introduced a modern logo and restricted the use of Nipper to the album covers of Red Seal Records. The Nipper trademark was reinstated to most RCA record labels in the Western Hemisphere beginning in late 1976 and was once again widely used in RCA advertising throughout the late 1970s and 1980s....
"His Master's Voice" is also the title of a sci-fi book by Stanisław Lem:
It is a densely philosophical first contact story about an effort by scientists to decode, translate and understand an extraterrestrial transmission.... [T]he scientists are able to use part of the data to synthesize a substance with unusual properties. Two variations are created: a glutinous liquid nicknamed "Frog Eggs" and a more solid version that looks like a slab of red meat called "Lord of the Flies" (named for its strange agitating effect on insects brought into proximity with it, rather than for the allegorical meaning of the name).... "Frog eggs" seems to enable a teleportation of an atomic blast at the speed of light to a remote location, which would make deterrence impossible....

By the time the project is ended, they are no more sure than they were in the beginning about whether the signal was a message from intelligent beings that humanity failed to decipher, or a poorly understood natural phenomenon.
But back to Breitbart. It's easier to understand than Lem's frog eggs. I'm not going to read all these articles. As a collection of headlines, they make a spicy first page, but I'm just going to use a sampling method by clicking on one. I choose "Flynn: An Old Casino King Doubles Down on a Bad Hand in Afghanistan." Flynn is a Daniel J. Flynn, not Michael Flynn, the general who used to have Trump's ear, and the headline distracted me into thinking Trump's old confidant had taken a swipe at him. No sooner do I succumb to the click than I get the feeling there's nothing here that isn't already understood from the headline, which now looks like a one-liner for a late-night talk-show host.

But Trump himself introduced the idea that he's playing a card game. From the text of the speech:
No one denies that we have inherited a challenging and troubling situation in Afghanistan and South Asia, but we do not have the luxury of going back in time and making different or better decisions. When I became President, I was given a bad and very complex hand, but I fully knew what I was getting into: big and intricate problems. But, one way or another, these problems will be solved -- I'm a problem solver -- and, in the end, we will win.
He didn't say "I was dealt a bad and very complex hand," nor did he say "we will play to win." He didn't stress the card-playing metaphor, and but — by using the word "hand" — Trump played into the hands of comedians and headline writers who easily connect his presidential rhetoric to his old work in the gambling business.

The term "double down" comes from blackjack: "to double the bet after one has seen the initial cards, with the requirement that one and only one additional card be drawn." That's the OED, which explains the extended use: "to engage in risky behaviour, esp. when one is already in a dangerous situation." I'm fascinated by one of the examples, from a 1991 set of essays by Joseph Epstein called "Line Out of a Walk."

Epstein's weird title is easily understood once you learn that the artist Paul Klee described how he draws by saying, "I take a line out for a walk." And if that interests you, remember I have a whole series of blog posts called "How to draw/paint like Paul Klee," including "Approximating biomorphs," which sounds frog-egg-related, and see how this blog post is taking a line out for a walk?

Anyway, Epstein's quote, illustrating how to use "double down," is "Let me double down..and see if I can't win some points for being a racist by asserting that, for some while now, black men have worn hats with more flair than anyone else in America."

And that's where this walk abruptly ends, because Amazon's "look inside" feature excludes the page with that quote and there's no Kindle edition. I'll just assume the venerable essayist is only joking about being a racist, back in 1991 when smart white people were comfortable with the notion that everyone is racist and exposing a detail of one's own particular racism felt like a mark of sophistication. 

274 comments:

1 – 200 of 274   Newer›   Newest»
rhhardin said...

Double down is an extra warm comforter.

rhhardin said...

If you have infinite capital the St. Petersburg game is won by doubling down.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St._Petersburg_paradox

Achilles said...

Meh.

Phil 314 said...

Maybe Breitbart and CNN can share some reporting.

Bob Ellison said...

Chris Cillizza at CNN already has the political story here covered, with extensive photographic evidence: Yes, Donald Trump really did look into the sky during the solar eclipse.

Achilles said...

It seems Althouse is branching out a bit and found some "click bait."

I look forward to the post on that term.

Others might call it the stuff you have to sift through to get decent information. The barbarians have swept the gate keepers off the gates of information. The gates were once closed to click bait. Now Rome burns. Or rents it's valuable downtown space out...

Hagar said...

The statement that will get attention in Islamabad was the "pivot to India."

And it will also be noted with concern in Beijing. India has a mutual support treaty with Viet Nam.

Can Of Cheese for Hunter said...

Now that Trump's eyes have seen the sun, the sun is a Nazi. We must blow it up.

sunsong said...

War doesn't work anymore...

rehajm said...

(Saturday morning cartoon commercial voice): Now with more Bannon!

Achilles said...

Blogger sunsong said...
"War doesn't work anymore..."

Wars led by lawyers and democrats certainly have a poor track record.

rehajm said...

In blackjack even modestly skilled players double down only when the odds are in their favor. The expression is misleading as it's really more about playing the percentages than engaging in risky behavior.

Wince said...

"to engage in risky behaviour, esp. when one is already in a dangerous situation."

It seems to me the now hackneyed term "double down" in the media has now taken on the meaning of restating a previously stated position that the media wants the consumer to believe is controversial. The "risk" to the speaker is engendered by the media spin provided by the use of the term "double down" without having to explain why exactly the statement or position is controversial.

In essence, "double down" has become a bootstrap argument that creates a pejorative for what used to be know as consistency and being steadfast.

The Godfather said...

I stopped reading Breitbart.com several years ago (after Andrew's death) because I found it an unreliable source of information--that is, it published what we now call "fake news". Bannon's return is not going to change my reading decisions.

Laslo Spatula said...

"A screen shot of the front page right now:..."

Trump speaks, and The Twittering Machine begins anew.

I am Laslo.

sinz52 said...

"In essence, "double down" has become a bootstrap argument that creates a pejorative for what used to be know as consistency and being steadfast."

NO.
Consistency and being steadfast do NOT include deliberately doubling the stakes.

Consistency and being steadfast include staying pat and calling the other side's blluff.

The closest analogue to doubling down is brinkmanship. And brinkmanship is highly risky.

mockturtle said...

Pay Pal alert: They have restored the account of Jihad Watch w/o explanation but it would seem that protests can work both ways. They had two days ago, on the advice of the SPLC banned JW as a hate group site, which it is not.

MadisonMan said...

Obama kicked the Afghanistan can down the road. I think the only thing to hope for is the emergence of leaders among the various tribes who have a view that's more than tribal.

We'll see. There's not much upside to this news.

Unknown said...

Trump: "When I became President, I was given a bad and very complex hand, but I fully knew what I was getting into: big and intricate problems."

If Clinton or Jeb or Sanders or Kasich or whoever became president instead of Trump: "When I became President, I was given a bad and very complex hand, but I fully knew what I was getting into: big and intricate problems."

Trump's "bad and complex hand" is at least 1000x more "bad and complex hand" than if someone else had become president.

Trump has a little hands problem.

Laslo Spatula said...

Trump on the Tightrope.

I am Laslo.

Annie C. said...

The top of this post is why I can't stand to read Breitbart. It hurts my eyes.

Ron said...

at some point they tried to intro a modern version of Nipper.....Chipper!

The iconic image of a mixed fox/bull terrier, Nipper, looking into a phonograph became an international symbol of quality and excellence for the Victor Talking Machine Company.[12] Nipper lives on through the brand names; he even appeared in ads on television with his "son", a puppy named Chipper who was added to the RCA family in 1991.[13] Real dogs continue to play the roles of Nipper and Chipper, but Chipper has to be replaced much more frequently, since his character is a puppy.


from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nipper#Legacy

Robert Cook said...

The only sane solution: pull all troops out of Afghanistan and all other Middle East countries where we are currently rampaging, and cease all military actions.

Caligula said...

"In blackjack even modestly skilled players double down only when the odds are in their favor. The expression is misleading as it's really more about playing the percentages than engaging in risky behavior."

Although doubling-down is obviously part of blackjack, I always thought it extended to the practice of doubling one's bet until one wins (also known as "Martingale" and sometimes as "gambler's ruin."

This is, of course, a very risky strategy indeed as it fails when one runs out of money with which to wager, or when the casino will no longer accept a larger bet. Mathematically, it balances a large probability of winning a small amount against a small probability of losing a huge amount.

sinz52 said...

With the departure of Bannon and the rise of McMaster,

Trump is slowly starting to accept the mainstream view of the Afghanistan War:

The United States must keep fighting until it loses.
And the US will lose in the end, of course.

No way to defeat Islamism on the battlefield.
Islam and its culture have to reform themselves.

sinz52 said...

Robert Cook: "The only sane solution: pull all troops out of Afghanistan and all other Middle East countries where we are currently rampaging, and cease all military actions."

And then what happens?

Do we suffer more or fewer terrorist attacks as a result?
And which would you prefer?

Oso Negro said...

No point to sending more troops unless we intend to kill a LOT more people AND burn poppy fields. And I am betting we have no such intention. 14 fucking years. It's a long time. How many of your family or friends have served there?

Can Of Cheese for Hunter said...

Southern Poverty Law Center is a radial leftwing fascist outfit.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

If they allow the troops to actually "troop"....wage war, instead of being handcuffed by those ridiculous Rules of Engagement, where you don't actually hurt the enemy....perhaps we may be able to win.

Unleash the hounds!!!

Micromanaging the actions of the soldiers in the field in order to produce a politically correct, touchy feelie, no harm done type of war is the reason that we are not winning and the reason that the terrorists, rightly, consider the US a bunch of foolish, weeenie, wimps.

"In general, our troops retain the right to use lethal force in self-defense. COMISAF's [Editor's note: Commander, NATO International Security Assistance Force] tactical directive is mostly about putting our forces in the right frame of mind to exercise that right. So, for example, in the past if a group of insurgents fired on soldiers and then retreated into a compound or mosque, the "troops in contact" situation might not end until we waited them out or, if we'd taken reasonable but not foolproof steps to ensure civilians weren't present, dropped a bomb or artillery round on the building.

The tactical directive requires troops, to the best of their ability, to ask a few fundamental questions in that situation. Even if someone might be shooting in my general direction, am I still in danger? Will I make more enemies than I'll kill by destroying property or, if I've missed something, innocent civilians?

What are my other As unfortunate as they were, the incidents that have become emblems of perceived problems with the tactical directive were not situations in which the decisions discussed in the tactical directive ever came into play."


Are you effing kidding me!! War is war. The definition of war is to defeat, destroy, kill the bastards, not get killed yourself and WIN. Worrying about property damage. Seriously!!!

CStanley said...

"In essence, "double down" has become a bootstrap argument that creates a pejorative for what used to be know as consistency and being steadfast."

NO.
Consistency and being steadfast do NOT include deliberately doubling the stakes.

Consistency and being steadfast include staying pat and calling the other side's blluff.

The closest analogue to doubling down is brinkmanship. And brinkmanship is highly risky.


I think that was the point that the commenter was making- that the media now uses the term "doubling down" to refer to something that wasn't the original meaning of the term.

It's now used when the media thinks it pulled off a "gotcha" and then it gives the person a chance to revoke his former statement or repudiate the particular interpretation of it that is supposed to be problematic.

But if instead the person is consistent, then he's said to be "doubling down".

Mark said...

Yes Dust Bunny. Bomb religious sites with civilians inside. That will help the war effort and increase the populations desire to work with us.

The Russians showed how well that method worked in the 80s quite clearly.

I hope you are ok with dead service members coming home with their dicks cut off and shoved in their mouths like what the muj did in response to the Russians.

Wince said...

sinz52 said...
NO.
Consistency and being steadfast do NOT include deliberately doubling the stakes.


My point was the media have broadened the term out of its own meaning about "doubling stakes", with mere use of the term by the media serving as sufficient basis to prove why the original statement was in fact controversial.

wildswan said...

Misread screen shot as "scream shot". Then, doubled down on this misreading telling myself - "yes, every day the mainstream posts a "scream shot" of Trump doing something that will make Typical Reader" scream."

But, reading further, I realized I might not have been doubling down. But I'm not changing my formulation. Now I'm gambling that the "media meaning", right or wrong, is sufficiently widespread to make my meaning plain.

But, plain to who? Whom? Althouse Reader. Typical Reader. Who? Whom? Which. Twitch. The owl is flying - but in the dusk I cannot see where.

traditionalguy said...

Like most poker players, after dealt the hand of an ace of spades, an ace of clubs, an eight of spades and an eight of clubs, they cozy up to the dealer, and decide to get a New Deal. Voila: FDR.

chickelit said...

Anyway, Epstein's quote, illustrating how to use "double down," is "Let me double down..and see if I can't win some points for being a racist by asserting that, for some while now, black men have worn hats with more flair than anyone else in America

The ladies of Superfly agree.

Unknown said...

Breitbart headline Wednesday: "Trump reverses Afghanistan strategy during Phoenix speech."

"After Trump realized his Afghanistan speech was delivered by tele-prompter, he reversed course and delivered the speech he wanted to in Phoenix."

"The US will pull out of Afghanistan after the Mueller investigation is complete, Trump said to an adoring and cheering crowd."

"I have also intructed the DoJ to arrange full pardons for everyone in my circle of all crimes including me, Trump continued."

Michael K said...

Cookie wants to go back to September 10, 2001. That'll work.

I suspect this is an acquiescence to McMaster and Mattis for one last gambit, which probably includes Pakistan.

The real problem is Pakistan, one example of which is the strange development in the DNC-IT scandal.

What is the role of the Pakistan ISI in the Obama/DNC policies the past 8 years?

what’s the best evidence you could possibly have, the slam-dunk proof that their goal was to steal the money and never look back? That’s easy: One after the other, the wife and husband pulled up stakes and tried to high-tail it to Pakistan after they’d wired the funds there — the wife successfully fleeing, the husband nabbed as he was about to board his flight. Well, here’s a peculiar thing about the Justice Department’s indictment of Imran Awan and Hina Alvi, the alleged fraudster couple who doubled as IT wizzes for Debbie Wasserman Schultz and many other congressional Democrats: There’s not a word in it about flight to Pakistan.

What is going on ?

Dust Bunny Queen said...

I hope you are ok with dead service members coming home with their dicks cut off and shoved in their mouths like what the muj did in response to the Russians.

I'm not "OK" with any of it. It would be best if everyone lived in peace and minded their own business. It would be great to have flying unicorns propelled by rainbow farts too.

However, if you are going to go to war...or war comes to you, whether you like it or not..... then you need to be serious about winning it in a short period of time in order to have more of your own service members be able to come home with their limbs still attached.

Civilian casualties are a part of war. In fact, they are an integral part of war in that it forces them to take a side and shows YOU which side they are on. Then you know who the enemy IS. All of the enemy. Not just the soldiers who are fighting you with guns.

You don't participate in a half assed war. A pussified war. It is like being just a little pregnant. Either you go to war to WIN. Win quickly. Win decisively and then get out. Or you just roll over like a whipped puppy and whine for mercy and hope your new masters don't kick the shit out of you.

Robert Cook said...

"Robert Cook: 'The only sane solution: pull all troops out of Afghanistan and all other Middle East countries where we are currently rampaging, and cease all military actions.'

"And then what happens?"


We stop murdering people and spending our money on murder (and the enrichment of the parasitic service industries that make war possible). Apply it to the needs of the American people.

"Do we suffer more or fewer terrorist attacks as a result?"

I don't know. There's no indication that terrorist acts are being perpetrated against us by citizens of Afghanistan, particularly. There is indication that our military presence in the Middle East has been a significant (or primary) cause of the growth of Islamic extremism. I mean, if a foreign country were bombing our cities, and foreign troops were treating us as criminals in our own country, you can be sure there would be many Americans driven to fight back and form into extremist groups.

"And which would you prefer?"

I prefer fewer terrorist attacks...which is one reason I think the only sane solution is to remove ourselves completely, and post-haste, from the Middle East.

Bad Lieutenant said...

I hope you are ok with dead service members coming home with their dicks cut off and shoved in their mouths like what the muj did in response to the Russians.


Just for the record - that isn't the way of it now, and always? They're being nice? Our captives get Red Cross packages and scientific instruments per Geneva?

Robert Cook said...

"Cookie wants to go back to September 10, 2001. That'll work."

Going back to September 10, 2001 is impossible, of course. However, if we could go back to September 12, 2001 and all the days after that in which Bush's criminal administration took advantage of the attacks to mount the invasion of Iraq we had been covertly waging for years, (and invaded Afghanistan, for no reason that has been stated truthfully), and somehow stop those plans, we, the middle east, and the world would be far better off than it is presently.

Laslo Spatula said...

hashtag-AfghanistanFatigue.

I am Laslo.

The Drill SGT said...

There is no Afghanistan . Only a line on a map that cuts across tribes.

The Brits had it right. Their strategy was "Butcher and Bolt". If the tribes crossed into India seeking loot and women, the reprisal response was swift and overwhelming. But the Brits did not try and govern after 1842.

Read about the "Retreat from Kabul"

https://en.wikipedia.org/wi...

When we pull out of Kabul, it will make the fall of Saigon look like a holiday adventure.

J. Farmer said...

@sinz52:

Do we suffer more or fewer terrorist attacks as a result?

When has the Taliban ever committed a terrorist attack on the US mainland? Never. The Taliban controls nearly 40% of the country right now, and they have not shown any desire, willingness, or ability to launch terror attacks against the US. Their primary concern is controlling their country against what they view as occupiers and an illegitimate central government.

n.n said...

white people were comfortable with the notion that everyone is racist

Color diversity (i.e. judge people by the "color of their skin") denies individual dignity. Color diversity, and class diversity generally, have taken racism mainstream. The office of diversity provides oversight and administration of institutional racism, sexism, etc. in public and private enterprises under Democratic leadership, and, unfortunately, one too many Republicans follow after.

Michael K said...

Even before the Russians overthrew the last legitimate government in Kabul, the King was known as "The Mayor of Kabul."

The Drill Sergeant is right. There is no Afghanistan. Pakistan is hardly a country. The northwest territories have not been ruled by the government since Alexander.

I interviewed a guy two weeks ago who is rejoining his National Guard unit because it is being deployed to Afghanistan. He was on active duty on border surveillance for four years, all in Arizona. He got out but then learned about the deployment.

He wants to see Afghanistan. I told him he will get his ass shot off but he just wants to see it.

The Drill SGT said...

MadisonMan said...
Obama kicked the Afghanistan can down the road. I think the only thing to hope for is the emergence of leaders among the various tribes who have a view that's more than tribal.


Sorry, No. Obama screwed the pooch when he set the timetable for withdrawal. That signaled to both our friends and enemies that the Taliban had won and that standing with the Crusaders was a death sentence. The only two rational choices left were, join the Taliban, or steal enough graft from the Crusaders and get out before the end.

n.n said...

If we persist as we did (e.g. premature evacuation) in post-war Iraq, which metastisized to global wars, refugee crises, etc., then we should drop Afghanis like hot potatoes. Otherwise, we need to make a full commitment to the self-defense of those people, with rules that do not favor their enemy, and our and their full and partial abortions.

Michael K said...

"they have not shown any desire, willingness, or ability to launch terror attacks against the US. "

Just that little matter of sheltering and protecting Osama.

Bush demanded they give him up and they refused. That was the immediate cause of the invasion.

“This government wants Perdicaris alive or Raisuli dead.”

The Drill SGT said...

Michael K,

Make sure he read Kipling before deploying. And the Retreat from Kabul

https://www.poetryloverspage.com/poets/kipling/young_british_soldier.html

Kevin said...

Trump's "bad and complex hand" is at least 1000x more "bad and complex hand" than if someone else had become president.

Were you in a coma during Obama's Administration?

After eight years of everything bad being "Bush's fault", "I was dealt a bad and complex hand, but I knew what I was getting into" is a refreshing change of accountability from our President.

Heywood Rice said...

You don't participate in a half assed war. A pussified war. It is like being just a little pregnant.

What's going on right now is not a war. It's an occupation.

Nonapod said...

I think it's interesting that a lot of people behave as though they know what the right answer to the whole Afghanistan question is.

What do we know? When we pulled out of Iraq, ISIS was born. So pulling out, disengaging, doesn't necessarily lead to an end to violence and bloodshed. It certainly doesn't seem to lessen terrorist attacks in the West.

What do we want? It's safe to say most people want an end or at least a great reduction of terror attacks in the West. But many people don't like having to spend blood and treasure in order to do that. You have this war that's been going on for 16 years or whatever, that has cost the lives of many American and allied soldiers, and has maimed many more (both physically and psychologically), and there doesn't ever seem to be a sense of progress, of things getting better or ending. It's not something that seems winnable in the traditional sense of war. But what's the alternative? What do you believe will happen if there's no longer a US military presence in Afghanistan? What's the most likely believable outcome?

If we stay, I think we have to admit that we're going to be there for a very, very long time. I think we have to accept that there will still be a lot of casualties. We have to admit that it's going to continue to cost a lot of money for a long time to come. We have to admit that this isn't about winning in the traditional military sense. We have to abandon these illusions. This is an expensive security occupation that's indefinite in time span.

Michael said...

Maybe Robert Cook is on to something. Pull our troops out of all foreign lands and put them to pulling down bad-think statues and searching for bad-think art and bad-think books first in the public spaces and then, of course, in private homes.

Mark said...

"Civilian casualties are a part of war. In fact, they are an integral part of war in that it forces them to take a side and shows YOU which side they are on"

It worked so well for Osama on 9/11, right? 9/11, by your reasoning, is just war as we should practice it.

Its hard to claim moral superiority when killing grandma and bombing hospitals and churches are necessary parts of your strategy.

Heywood Rice said...

Obama screwed the pooch when he set the timetable for withdrawal.

What's the correct exit strategy?

Kevin said...

Blogger sunsong said...
"War doesn't work anymore..."


War is for killing. When there are people to kill, it works just fine. Marines and JDAMs were built for a specific purpose and do their jobs very well.

When we want to kill some people, protect others, build schools, and import democracy, it ceases to be war and hasn't ever worked.

Trump just turned the war in Afghanistan back into a war. Then he turned it back over to the Generals and went on to something else.

Kevin said...

What's the correct exit strategy?

One that your enemies can't circle on their calendars.

Heywood Rice said...

One that your enemies can't circle on their calendars.

So you secretly sneak out at night and...

Achilles said...

Blogger J. Farmer said...
@sinz52:

Do we suffer more or fewer terrorist attacks as a result?

"When has the Taliban ever committed a terrorist attack on the US mainland? Never. The Taliban controls nearly 40% of the country right now, and they have not shown any desire, willingness, or ability to launch terror attacks against the US. Their primary concern is controlling their country against what they view as occupiers and an illegitimate central government."

You have no clue who or what the taliban is.

I am not completely unsympathetic to your position, but you should stop posting about what the taliban is and what they want. It just makes you look ridiculous and undermines your argument.

Can Of Cheese for Hunter said...

Nonapod @ 9:34 -

I think you hit on the reality.
Do we close our eyes as Islamic terror spreads like a cancer, ignoring the centers where the baseline disease is gathering strength?

Henry said...

Nipper is a famous landmark in Albany New York.. He's been there since 1958.

Sebastian said...

"I prefer fewer terrorist attacks...which is one reason I think the only sane solution is to remove ourselves completely, and post-haste, from the Middle East."

OK, so we remove ourselves from the ME. But then we also make sure we don't invite MEers over here, right? No US in ME and no ME in US: deal?

(Not meant as snark vs. Cook:) I'd be more likely to believe that the let's-just-get-out policy is meant to reduce terror threats when the left seriously advocates the exclusion of all potential jihadis. So far, the left seems to want more. Even the very minor temporary travel ban provoked lefty outrage--losing out on even one Yemeni college student would wreck higher ed, stopping even one Somali mother-in-law would devastate families.

After all, terror is just a nuisance, as JFK assured us.

J. Farmer said...

@Achilles:

You have no clue who or what the taliban is.

So please tell me what I have gotten wrong....

Robert Cook said...

"Maybe Robert Cook is on to something. Pull our troops out of all foreign lands and put them to pulling down bad-think statues and searching for bad-think art and bad-think books first in the public spaces and then, of course, in private homes."

No, I don't have any desire to pull down any statues or to ban any books. Quite to the contrary, in fact. On the other hand, until recently, it was illegal to employ military forces act as domestic police. However, the Obama administration changed that, so if we ever get too restive, the military will be used to apply the clampdown.

My preference would be for the military budget to be slashed--drastically--and for the money to be transferred back into use for domestic needs.

J. Farmer said...

@Sebastian:

No US in ME and no ME in US: deal?

Sounds great to me!

Heywood Rice said...

OK, so we remove ourselves from the ME. But then we also make sure we don't invite MEers over here, right? No US in ME and no ME in US: deal?

One thing that complicates things a bit is that the US has military bases in practically every country in the world.

Achilles said...

Robert Cook said...

"I prefer fewer terrorist attacks...which is one reason I think the only sane solution is to remove ourselves completely, and post-haste, from the Middle East."

Another person who is completely ignorant of what is going on.

Kevin said...

So you secretly sneak out at night and...

Even that would be preferred to "Fight us as if, we're leaving in 15 months. Show our lack of resolve to the people choosing whether to back us or you. Tell those in power we won't be here for long and they'd do well to start feeding you intel. Give up ground to conserve your forces knowing date certain when you can walk back in and claim it without firing a shot. Oh, and you'll be able to tell everyone you won because we left without conditions, and should we ever come back you can laugh at what the next guy says."

When sneaking out at night has that many more advantages, what does it say about the strength of General Obama's plan?

Inga...Allie Oop said...

Didn't Bannon say he was going to "help" Trump?

J. Farmer said...

@Achilles:

Another person who is completely ignorant of what is going on.

Here's a novel idea. Instead of just telling people that they are ignorant, why don't you explain to us "what is going on." We're all hears. I have read Ahmed Rashid's Taliban and Descent Into Chaos. What do you know about the Taliban that he doesn't?

Kevin said...

"I prefer fewer terrorist attacks...which is one reason I think the only sane solution is to remove ourselves completely, and post-haste, from the Middle East."

Robert, I'm sympathetic to your idea. It had appeal post-9/11. However, you left out one step. We would have to remove ourselves completely, and post-haste, from THE REST OF THE WORLD.

If we wanted to raise the drawbridge, stop trade, and isolate ourselves from everyone else, it would be a viable strategy. But given that the terrorists would now operate unopposed, that their mission is to create a Caliphate and kill or convert all the infidels, and we'd still leave America open to people, goods, and YouTube videos crossing our borders, I don't see it as a better long-term strategy.

The next attack would come. And it would come from a much stronger place.

Michael K said...

OK, so we remove ourselves from the ME. But then we also make sure we don't invite MEers over here, right? No US in ME and no ME in US: deal?

One thing that complicates things a bit is that the US has military bases in practically every country in the world.


They call this an "oxymoron" when you combine two contrasting ideas as though it was one. If we "removed ourselves from the ME" how would we have "military bases in practically every country in the world" ? Any ideas about how that is not internally contradictory ?

It's OK. It was probably a long night last night.

I have thought we needed to get out of Afghanistan for years,

And even said so.

hombre said...

The hand Trump was dealt by the ménage a trois of Obama/Clinton/Kerry is nothing compared to the hand they dealt Europe. Europe will never recover from the Muslim invasion caused by their policy errors in Syria and Libya and, ultimately, Iran.

OTOH, I cannot see the downside of a cautious strategic withdrawal from Afghanistan. Trump will not succeed where Alexander and Russia failed. The money would be better spent undoing the decimation of our armed forces by the Obots.

Kevin said...

And if that's your plan, Robert, then stop saying pull out of the ME, and argue for the US to hermetically seal itself from every other country.

J. Farmer said...

@Kevin:

If we wanted to raise the drawbridge, stop trade, and isolate ourselves from everyone else, it would be a viable strategy.

That is a complete straw man. Many countries trade with and have active diplomatic relations with other countries without having to extend those countries security guarantees and without having to station troops in those countries. We gave a war guarantee to Estonia. The opposite of that is not "rais[ing] the drawbridge;" the opposite of that is not to have a war guarantee with Estonia.

buwaya said...

There is only one solution to Islam.

It is conversion of their populace to another, more quietist religion. This was well understood by the Spanish throughout their colonial period. It was this process that the US interrupted in 1898.

In Mindanao/Sulu the Spanish policy was one of keeping the Muslims from attacking Christians, while planting missions (mainly Jesuit) on the fringes to attract converts, of which there were many due to the extreme dysfunctions of Moro society.

Part of this is detailed in Horacio de la Costa's masterly "Light Cavalry". A rare book in the US unfortunately.

The US government changed this policy entirely to one of alternate massacre and "civic" training of the Muslims, trying to make them a governable people without reforming their souls. It didn't work and never can work.

J. Farmer said...

@Achilles:

First you think they are significantly different and/or separable from the taliban.

Second you think they are anything other than the most disgusting people on the planet.


Who are "they?" And please quote anything I have written that backs up what you say I have said.

Heywood Rice said...

When sneaking out at night has that many more advantages, what does it say about the strength of General Obama's plan?

If sneaking out would make a difference maybe Bush Cheney and Rumsfeld could have done it a lot sooner but that raises the question, what was their plan?

Paddy O said...

I, for one, am glad at least someone in the media is finally willing to be critical of Trump. It really provides an alternative perspective that generates readership.

Achilles said...

Blogger J. Farmer said...
@Achilles:

You have no clue who or what the taliban is.

"So please tell me what I have gotten wrong...."

First you think they are significantly different and/or separable from Al Quaeda.

Second you think they are anything other than the most disgusting people on the planet. Take Nazi's and put them in a 3rd world shithole where nobody takes showers and they lock their women in the basement until they have had several children.

Edit/ Had to delete and repost.

buwaya said...

One day, after all else has been tried, and a great deal more trouble has passed, this ancient wisdom will finally penetrate.

Michael K said...

"Many countries trade with and have active diplomatic relations with other countries without having to extend those countries security guarantees "

The weakness of pure Libertarian philosophy is that it requires law.

That's why I am a small L libertarian.

Who is going to keep shipping lanes and air lanes open if we don't? China ?

The 19th century was the era of Pax Britannica. The 20th Pax Americana.

The 21st ?

Paddy O said...

buwaya,

"It didn't work and never can work."

Hear, hear.

Kevin said...

That is a complete straw man. Many countries trade with and have active diplomatic relations with other countries without having to extend those countries security guarantees and without having to station troops in those countries. We gave a war guarantee to Estonia. The opposite of that is not "rais[ing] the drawbridge;" the opposite of that is not to have a war guarantee with Estonia.

Until last year you would have said Germany, France, and the UK. Today you had to go to...Estonia.

And that is before we have to deal with an adversary with the technology to make a nuclear weapon.

You're making my argument for me.

Bob Boyd said...

If we decided to pull out of Afghanistan, would we announce it?

sunsong said...

War is for killing.

Killing,bombing, destroying, harming, maiming, don't work anymore....[if they ever did]

Michael K said...

There is only one solution to Islam.

It is conversion of their populace to another, more quietist religion.


Ann Coulter was savaged by the left for saying this years ago.

The left is busy creating a situation in which radical Islam is the only religion permitted and the jihadis are taking advantage.

On the American side of the Atlantic, Rukmini Callimachi has a long piece in the New York Times describing how a "lonely" American girl was gradually converted to Islam by an ISIS interlocutor on the Internet. "Alex, a 23-year-old Sunday school teacher and babysitter, was trembling with excitement the day she told her Twitter followers that she had converted to Islam."

J. Farmer said...

@Michael K:

Who is going to keep shipping lanes and air lanes open if we don't? China ?

We don't have to give war guarantees to nearly half the planet in order to keep shipping and air lanes open.

The 19th century was the era of Pax Britannica. The 20th Pax Americana.

You and I have very different points of view on the state of international relations in the 19th century. I think a Bismarckian balance of power arrangement was far more fundamental than Britain's efforts to to remain a global hegemony, which sewed the seeds of its destruction.

Achilles said...

buwaya said...

"In Mindanao/Sulu the Spanish policy was one of keeping the Muslims from attacking Christians, while planting missions (mainly Jesuit) on the fringes to attract converts, of which there were many due to the extreme dysfunctions of Moro society. "

This is an interesting idea. It could work but I am betting the Muslim nuclear powers would react and force confrontation. They are convicted.

I still think you will have to subdue some populations doing this.

Achilles said...

Blogger antiphone said...
You don't participate in a half assed war. A pussified war. It is like being just a little pregnant.

"What's going on right now is not a war. It's an occupation."

Both are 100% truth.

Kevin said...

The issue is not that we have a war guarantee with anyone. We can end that tomorrow if it suited our needs.

The issue is that Islamic terrorism is spreading from the Middle East through trade, travel, immigration, and the internet.

If you want to pull troops out of the ME, fine. Tell me how we'll then deal with a terror safe haven which continues to have access to the West through trade, travel, immigration, and the internet.

Or admit trade, travel, immigration, and the internet will also have to go.

sparrow said...

War is for killing.

Killing,bombing, destroying, harming, maiming, don't work anymore....[if they ever did]


War ended slavery and the Nazi regime in Germany: it has it's place.

Nonapod said...

It is conversion of their populace to another, more quietist religion.

I tend to agree, although I have no idea how one would even begin to attempt to do that. Countries full of practitioners of Islam are often harsh towards missionaries of other religions. And they're even harsher towards apostates.

Michael K said...

Blogger sunsong said...
War is for killing.

Killing,bombing, destroying, harming, maiming, don't work anymore....[if they ever did]


Of course they work and, if you are successful, you might learn it from the victim side.

The left is always proclaiming passive behavior but around the corner, the left has its warriors.

I wonder if you are old enough to remember the cult movie "Billy Jack?" The poor little innocent folks had Billy Jack to kick the shit out of the bad guys. That way they could be virtuous and pacifist.

Today, the left has ANTIFA and BLM to destroy their enemies while proclaiming virtue.




Achilles said...

sunsong said...

"Killing,bombing, destroying, harming, maiming, don't work anymore....[if they ever did]"

A sentient human being should be embarrassed posting something this blatantly foolish and wrong.

J. Farmer said...

@Achilles:

First you think they are significantly different and/or separable from Al Quaeda.

I don't think they are "significantly different," but I do think they are separable from Al Qaeda. Al Qaeda was a loose coalition, and today it's even more diffuse than that. It is little more than a brand. Even movements calling themselves "Al Qaeda in..." are simply renamed radical salafists who predated OBL. To take another example, Abu Sayyaf is not signficantly different from Al Qaeda but is separable from them, because they have different histories and goals.

Kevin said...

Killing,bombing, destroying, harming, maiming, don't work anymore....[if they ever did]

Please. For just one example, killing, bombing, destroying, harming, and maiming turned the Japanese from a colonial power, ruling much of their Asian neighbors with an iron fist, into a peaceful people firmly participating in the world economy.

The difference was we were prepared to kill Japanese until the only ones left were interested in peace. And if it left an uninhabited island at the end, we were good with that.

Bay Area Guy said...

Great thread here - lotta insightful comments.

After the 9/11 attack, I bought into the tactical objective (bomb the shit out of Afghanistan in response), but didn't think too hard about the strategic objective. 16 years later, I'm still not sure what our war objective is. Do we want to conquer Afghanistan? Do we want to kill the Taliban, and install a more pro-American government, preferably closer to a democracy? If we do that, will it survive when/if we leave?

To compare, our strategic objective in Japan 1945, was to destroy the country (Tokyo bombings + Nukes), which we did. But then we pivoted with McArthur to rebuild Japan into a lasting modern day democracy (which we did).

Here, I'm not too harsh on Trump, and wasn't too harsh on Obama either - because I'm not sure anyone has a clear idea what a reasonable objective is. It looks like low level conflict for decades, which, if it keeps Muslim terrorists on their heels, is not too bad, I guess.

Kevin said...

The left is always proclaiming passive behavior but around the corner, the left has its warriors.

In other news, hatred and violence are wrong... Now hand me another rock and urine bottle to throw at those cops!

J. Farmer said...

@Kevin:

The 9/11 hijackers arrived in the US on commercial flights legally and began carrying out a plan to attack us. How does bombing Helmand province protect us from this? There are dozens of countries with radical jihadis in them. Do we have to bomb them all? What, exactly, is the strategy you believe we should be pursuing?

Big Mike said...

I don't know whether Trump in 3 1/2 years can overcome the malevolent stewardship of 8 years of Obama, but I'm willing to give it a try. Trump is more intelligent (a very low bar to clear in the case of Obama) and he has better advisors who understand the limits of what can and, more importantly, what cannot be accomplished with military force. And it appears that he listens, a critical skill that nearly all Democrats lack.

J. Farmer said...

@Big Mike:

What would you lead you to declare the Afghanistan War a failure and not worth anymore American attention? Anything?

Achilles said...

Blogger Kevin said...
"The issue is not that we have a war guarantee with anyone. We can end that tomorrow if it suited our needs.

The issue is that Islamic terrorism is spreading from the Middle East through trade, travel, immigration, and the internet.

If you want to pull troops out of the ME, fine. Tell me how we'll then deal with a terror safe haven which continues to have access to the West through trade, travel, immigration, and the internet.

Or admit trade, travel, immigration, and the internet will also have to go."

I think what we need to look at is priorities.

A lot of people are trying to prioritize some moral responsibility into our foreign policy and the armed forces are not a good tool for that.

Disaster response has worked out pretty well.

Nation Building has not.

We know who is sponsoring and fomenting international terrorism. If you want to deal with that at the source go to the source.

The problem is a bunch of the people in the pentagon and state department decided to turn the battle against terrorism into an extended pork fest. Nation Building has more opportunities for graft than ending terrorism.

The Drill SGT said...

Kevin said...
The difference was we were prepared to kill Japanese until the only ones left were interested in peace. And if it left an uninhabited island at the end, we were good with that.


Reminds me of Halsey: "Before we're through with them, the Japanese language will be spoken only in hell."

Or Heinlein:

"My mother said violence never solves anything." "So?" Mr. Dubois looked at her bleakly. "I'm sure the city fathers of Carthage would be glad to know that."
Lt. Col. Jean V. Dubois

buwaya said...

You can't replace something with nothing.
And you can't offer something if your own society is collapsing because it has nothing.

Kevin said...

To compare, our strategic objective in Japan 1945, was to destroy the country (Tokyo bombings + Nukes), which we did. But then we pivoted with McArthur to rebuild Japan into a lasting modern day democracy (which we did).

The problem has always been Pakistan. As long as they were willing to let the Taliban move back and forth across the border - like the Vietcong in Cambodia and Laos - they enjoy the protection of a country with which we are not at war.

Remember the "gutsy call" Obama made to go into Pakistan and get Bin Laden? That Bin Laden had been living there for quite some time, and the US President was nervous about going into the country to get the nation's number one enemy, tells you all you need to know about that dysfunctional relationship.

Trump put Pakistan on notice last night

Heywood Rice said...

There is only one solution to Islam.

It is conversion of their populace to another, more quietist religion.

Ann Coulter was savaged by the left for saying this years ago.


What she said was:

We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity.

As I recall even some small l libertarians had a problem with that

Inga...Allie Oop said...

"Even Trump himself admitted he had flip-flopped on his foreign policy, saying in the address that his original instinct was to pull out of the country, but that he had been convinced otherwise."

Mike Cernovich 🇺🇸 @Cernovich
Congratulations to President McMaster!
8:34 PM · Aug 21, 2017

Ann Coulter @AnnCoulter
It doesn't matter who you vote for. The military-industrial complex wins. Only difference: GOP presidents pronounce "Pakistan" correctly.
8:13 PM · Aug 21, 2017

http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2017/08/21/trumps-america-first-base-unhappy-with-flip-flop-afghanistan-speech/

The Alt Right isn't as happy today as they were when Trump said there were very good people among the White Supremacists in Charlottesville. What happened? Was Bannon that influential over Trump? Now he's gone, the Generals run Trump? Is Trump incapable of forming his own opinions?

Big Mike said...

It'd be nice if J. Farmer had more than one string on his violin. He cherry-picks facts and pays attention to opinion writers who support his viewpoint. Anything else is to be ignored.

Why thoughtful people like Kevin should take the time to respond is utterly beyond me.

n.n said...

War is for self-defense and to change an existing order.

Social justice adventures are to rationalize elective wars, elective regimes changes, opening abortion fields, and other elective procedures, including forcing CAIR (catastrophic anthropogenic immigration reform).

Elective abortion is to deny human rights to life deemed unworthy, inconvenient, or profitable (e.g. Planned Parenthood clinical cannibalism).

Color diversity denies individual dignity. Diversity is a sophisticated form of racism practiced by delusional men and women.

J. Farmer said...

@Kevin:

Trump put Pakistan on notice last night

Which means what exactly? What do we want Pakistan to do, and what are we willing to do if Pakistan does not do it?

J. Farmer said...

@Big Mike:

It'd be nice if J. Farmer had more than one string on his violin. He cherry-picks facts and pays attention to opinion writers who support his viewpoint. Anything else is to be ignored.

I make every effort to address points people bring up to me in opposition. As opposed to just declaring them wrong or not knowing what they are talking about. Perhaps you should try it.

In fact, let me repeat a question I have asked (including to you directly) that I have yet to receive a response to...

What American national interest is served by being the Kabul government's security force?

Michael K said...

There are dozens of countries with radical jihadis in them. Do we have to bomb them all?

I'm taking your comments as made in good faith.

No but I would say that those that support the radicals should be punished. The Saudis are a dilemma. The government is an ally but the mullahs are the enemy and now that Saudi is no longer a crucial source of oil, the calculus is changed.

The Kingdom is going to have to start dealing with the mullahs. We have to quietly stop them from funding radical mullahs in US mosques where they have largely evicted moderates. I remember reading an account of just such an ouster a few years ago.

They are also in the fight of their lives against Iran and that has to be included in the mix. It does us no good to punish the Saudis only to see them replaced by more radical Shias.

The lefties might as well blame Churchill and Jackie Fischer who converted the Royal Navy to oil but I doubt many of them know any history. None around here, anyway.

In my opinion, quiet assassination of jihadis is probably the best way to deal with them but carries an awful moral risk.

The Israelis have been doing that for years,

Achilles said...


Blogger J. Farmer said...
@Big Mike:

"What would you lead you to declare the Afghanistan War a failure and not worth anymore American attention? Anything?"

For me it would be allowing a single person calling themselves taliban to live.


"I don't think they are "significantly different," but I do think they are separable from Al Qaeda. Al Qaeda was a loose coalition, and today it's even more diffuse than that. It is little more than a brand. "

The taliban and ISIS and Al Quaeda are as different as the 1st armored division and the 82nd. Different names same organization and goals. Part of the problem is they are allowed to hide like this. None of these groups are separable. Too much legitimacy is granted to them.

They should be hunted down and eliminated and guilt must be collective. The only other options are surrender or living with terrorism.

Kevin said...

The 9/11 hijackers arrived in the US on commercial flights legally and began carrying out a plan to attack us. How does bombing Helmand province protect us from this? There are dozens of countries with radical jihadis in them. Do we have to bomb them all? What, exactly, is the strategy you believe we should be pursuing?

A strategy in which we leave the ME alone such that they can build up their own terror networks aimed at attacking us doesn't work. It did't work in 2001, as evidenced by the 9/11 attacks. And it didn't work in 2010, as evidenced by ISIS taking over half of Iraq and flooding Europe with Muslim refugees.

Again, I note we have 6000+ troops back in Iraq, a country we "pulled out" of Obama's first term. He couldn't even get through his second term before we had to start putting troops back into the country to contain the damage of our leaving.

Do we really need to try that a third time to see what might grow in that vacuum before we have to return once again? We can discuss how 16 years later we haven't created a peaceful ME full of people who love Americans. But we really shouldn't be under any misconception that leaving has been shown to make the situation anything but worse.

Nonapod said...

You can't replace something with nothing.
And you can't offer something if your own society is collapsing because it has nothing.


Yeah, it's a problem. I have no idea if there's actually a God gene, but it seems to me that some (most?) people are congenitally wired for faith. In absence of a religious faith, people often seek out a secular faith, like Environmentalism or Social Justice. A prevalence of these sorts of faiths can lead to trouble.

Jael said...

Springsteen on “War”

Can Of Cheese for Hunter said...

(Not that it is worth engaging with leftwing liars..)

Liar Unknon leftist said:

The Alt Right isn't as happy today as they were when Trump said there were very good people among the White Supremacists in Charlottesville.

Trump never said that. He said there were good people there, mixed in with the bad people.

Michael K said...

Blogger J. Farmer said...
@Kevin:

Trump put Pakistan on notice last night

Which means what exactly? What do we want Pakistan to do, and what are we willing to do if Pakistan does not do it?


I'm very interested in why the DNC IT case does not mention Pakistan.

Pakistan sits across the logistic lines to Afghanistan. We have to get out of Afghan to do anything serious to the Pakis.

I would like to know if ISI was involved in that IT caper. Why is the indictment silent on where those people were fleeing ?

Step one is making public if ISI was infiltrating the Democrats.

I think it might have been. Our Cuban policy was run by Castro for 20 years.

Maybe Pakistan has been running our Afghan policy for 8 years.

Anonymous said...

As I originally said when Bush invaded Afghanistan: I would rather we fight terrorists 5,000 miles away than in Brooklyn or Minneapolis. That appears to be what we are doing at the moment.

Achilles said...

"What American national interest is served by being the Kabul government's security force?"

None. They are mostly just a slightly different group of thugs who sometimes do not have the religious attachments that make the other thugs a problem.

They should be treated with cruel detachment. If they help us kill the taliban and maintain order they can live. The area should merely be a platform to keep Iran and whatever the Sunnis call themselves today from spreading and to destroy their warriors.

J. Farmer said...

@Kevin:

A strategy in which we leave the ME alone such that they can build up their own terror networks aimed at attacking us doesn't work. It did't work in 2001, as evidenced by the 9/11 attacks.

Except by 2001, we hadn't left the ME alone; we had been deeply involved there for nearly a century.

He couldn't even get through his second term before we had to start putting troops back into the country to contain the damage of our leaving.

I think this is a fundamental difference in how people look at the situation. The problems that plague Iraq are not solved by or caused by the presence or lack thereof of US troops. The problems Iraq face have to do with Iraq's history and population. It is not a coherent nation. Nearly a fifth of its population already lives in a de facto independent state. The Sunnis in the west of Iraq have not been significantly integrated into the national government, because they are a minority population. US troops cannot solve Iraq's deep political and socio-cultural problems.

But we really shouldn't be under any misconception that leaving has been shown to make the situation anything but worse.

Then that means being okay with Americans dying in Iraq and Afghanistan for years to come until some indeterminable period when those countries will be able to hold themselves together.

Robert Cook said...

"I don't know whether Trump in 3 1/2 years can overcome the malevolent stewardship of 8 years of Obama..."

I'm no admirer of Obama, but his stewardship was "malevolent" only in the sense that the power elite who run America have malovelent aims. Which is to day, Obama was simply loyally serving the agenda of the power elite, the deep state, the military/industrial complex...whatever one may call them.

"Trump is more intelligent (a very low bar to clear in the case of Obama)...."

Hahahaha!

That's hero worship talking!

buwaya said...

Atheism and libertarianism are dead ends.
Literally so, as we see, plainly evident, the result is a plague of infertility of every sort.

How do you sell your society as a model, if the result, for the mass, is personal failure? The lesson to the wise foreigner is to stick to exploiting this failing body, not to adopt its world view.

Michael K said...

It did't work in 2001, as evidenced by the 9/11 attacks.

We had a location and assets in place to take out Osama well before 9/11. We knew he had been involved in the African embassy bombings. Clinton chickened out. 3000 people died because of that decision.

Michael K said...

"we had been deeply involved there for nearly a century. "

This goes back to history and the British Navy, Many don't know that history, especially here.

I think you do but you are too wrapped up in Big L Libertarianism.

J. Farmer said...

@Achilles:

For me it would be allowing a single person calling themselves taliban to live.

Does this include the Pakistan Taliban, who are, in all likelihood, supported by the Indians?

The only other options are surrender or living with terrorism.

Of course we have to live with terrorism. We have to live with theft and murder, too. That's part of the human condition. We can take steps to protect ourselves and to mitigate the risks, but we cannot eliminate it.

J. Farmer said...

@Michael K:

I think you do but you are too wrapped up in Big L Libertarianism.

You quoted me, so I am assuming this is a reference to me. If so, it's wildly off the mark. I have some sympathy with libertarian ideology, but I think libertarianism is a non-starter as a governing ideology. Libertarians are radical free traders. I am not. Libertarians tend to be radical open border types. I am decidedly not. The most succinct way to describe my political ideology is an America First nationalist. The first person I ever cast a vote for was in 2000 when I was 18 for Pat Buchanan.

Achilles said...

"Then that means being okay with Americans dying in Iraq and Afghanistan for years to come until some indeterminable period when those countries will be able to hold themselves together."

We shouldn't be trying to hold countries together. They should be broken up into their original tribes and allowed to self govern.

Bob Boyd said...

Osama Bin Laden believed the USSR slowly bled to death in Afghanistan. Sometimes I think his primary goal with the attacks on 9/11 was to suck America into the same trap.
Of course the US is much stronger and healthier than the Soviet Union was, but we're still bleeding.
What is the best case scenario in Afghanistan?
What is the worst case scenario if we leave?

J. Farmer said...

@Achilles:

We shouldn't be trying to hold countries together. They should be broken up into their original tribes and allowed to self govern.

Okay, but that's the opposite of what we have been trying to do for the last two decades. First, how are they going to be "broken up" And second, how will they stay broken once they are. It seems there is very little appetite in either Iraq or Afghanistan for partition.

Kevin said...

We shouldn't be trying to hold countries together. They should be broken up into their original tribes and allowed to self govern.

And once we've shown how successful it works overseas, we might decide to give it a run at home.

rhhardin said...

The top of this post is why I can't stand to read Breitbart. It hurts my eyes.

You can cool down all the websites in Firefox by setting colors

tools/options/content/colors/
text:white
background:light grey
override:always

That makes some things not appear sometimes. To get them back, override:never

Mostly it works very pleasantly. I've used it for years to avoid blindness.

J. Farmer said...

@Kevin:

And once we've shown how successful it works overseas, we might decide to give it a run at home.

Ha. Funny that you mention that. I have long believed that the US should be broken up into self-governing regional blocs with a federated government that handles currency and collective defense, something akin closer to the federal government envisions in the Constitution as opposed to what we have now. Of course, I think the chance of anything like that happening is close to zero.

Jael said...

“ ... I was given a bad and very complex hand ...”

It’s only an invisible hand of public opinion about Trump on which Trump now bets on a war sufficiently far away, so that this distant and faraway war can be played as a game sufficiently “abstract,” where winning means no more than pretending to keep war at a safe and faraway distance, way over there, in that remote intangible (to the public) and exotic place, “Afghanistan,” while Trump’s gratuitous references to regional Pakistan and India only shows Trump’s preoccupation with proving to safe at home American gamers that Trump’s really a non-Bannonesque globalist after all (or is Trump merely regionalizing, but not globalizing? - and what’s the difference between regionalism and globalism in such far away, abstract, places?), and, the keyword wasn’t “flip-flop,” because that phrase is postured in the wrong classical rhetorical position (middle argument is weakest), but rather the key is the emotional valence of Trump’s newfound righteous empathy, sharing the “American People’s Frustration,” and on this emotional invisible hand of the yet unknown future of the “people’s frustration,” Trump’s voter-base bet is fully placed, since at his all-time here and now low in public opinion, there’s no game left to lose, so why not loose the dogs of war?

Achilles said...

"Does this include the Pakistan Taliban, who are, in all likelihood, supported by the Indians?"

Doesn't matter who supports them. They need to die.

"Of course we have to live with terrorism. We have to live with theft and murder, too. That's part of the human condition. We can take steps to protect ourselves and to mitigate the risks, but we cannot eliminate it."

I disagree. Another failure of your reasoning is you think they will stop with terrorism. The religion of Islam, the Hadith, the Koran, and sharia law are the problem.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

"Of course we have to live with terrorism. We have to live with theft and murder, too. That's part of the human condition. We can take steps to protect ourselves and to mitigate the risks, but we cannot eliminate it."

No. We do not have to "live" with these things.

You sound like a battered wife who thinks that if she just acts nicer, maybe this time her husband will stop beating her.

Robert Cook said...

Serendipitously, this appears on today's COUNTERPUNCH.

Kevin said...

I have long believed that the US should be broken up into self-governing regional blocs with a federated government that handles currency and collective defense, something akin closer to the federal government envisions in the Constitution as opposed to what we have now. Of course, I think the chance of anything like that happening is close to zero.

Not if we keep separating deeper into red states and blue states.

Michael K said...

The most succinct way to describe my political ideology is an America First nationalist. The first person I ever cast a vote for was in 2000 when I was 18 for Pat Buchanan.

I like Buchanan except his anti-Israel bias. Buckley kicked Joe Sobran off NR for anti-Semetic statements.

His new book on Nixon's White House is excellent.

You were sounding Libertarian there but some of those sentiments are consistent with Buchanan.

I would think you would be more enthusiastic about Trump if you are for closed borders and fair trade.

David Goldman has an excellent column today on China.

“We’re at economic war with China,” he added. “It’s in all their literature. They’re not shy about saying what they’re doing. One of us is going to be a hegemon in 25 or 30 years and it’s gonna be them if we go down this path. On Korea, they’re just tapping us along. It’s just a sideshow.”

The economic war is not a matter of dumping steel or aluminum, or even pirating American technology: China is establishing a dominant position in high-tech manufacturing, including a new US$50 billion plan to build a domestic semiconductor industry. The nub of what I presented at our West Wing meetings in late July is now available in the just-published Fall 2017 issue of the Journal of American Affairs. I wrote:

China and, to a lesser extent, other Asian competitors employ the full resources of state finances to fund capital-intensive manufacturing investment in the way that the West subsidizes basic infrastructure.


He is also quoting Bannon who is focused on China.

Robert Cook said...

And this.

Unknown said...

@Michael K says This goes back to history and the British Navy, Many don't know that history, especially here.

Condescending jerk. I know more about this stuff than you've displayed in your hundreds of emails. Ignorance is a virtue for Trumpuppets.

Michael K said...

"Condescending jerk. I know more about this stuff than you've displayed in your hundreds of emails."

Tell me about Jackie Fisher without going to Google, sweetie.

Unknown said...

When Obama put in 30,000 troops into Afghanistan, it was 25% less than General McChrystal recommended.

But, Trump's 4,000 will accomplish victory.

Of course, it will. (... that was sarcasm).

Roughcoat said...

What is our objective in Afghanistan? What is our strategy for achieving that objective?

Answer for me those two questions and I'll tell you what should be done. I'll probably be right, too.

There it is in a nutshell.

Words of wisdom from Clausewitz: "Everything is very simple in war, but the simplest thing is difficult."

As for the favorable view of the Bismarckian balance of power system: No. It was not a passive system. Stability was illusory. The political tectonics were always in motion, always shifting. The balance points were always moving, never in stasis. Stasis was required for the system to work. But it didn't work. What was bound to happen, did.

Michael K said...

Cookie is a "Winter Soldier" and JFK fan.

He said that such incidents were commonplace in Vietnam and that his own actions “make Calley look like a Boy Scout.”

Oh yes. Cookie is a Vietnam expert just as Field Marshall Inga is about Afghanistan.

Unknown said...

CNN headline: German police have seized around 5,000 ecstasy tablets shaped like the head of US President Donald Trump.

True.

Imagine the conversations at night clubs:

Boy: Have you given Donald head?
Girl: Ya!

Robert Cook said...

"Cookie is a 'Winter Soldier' and JFK fan."

I'm no JFK fan.

Henry said...

“ ... I was given a bad and very complex hand ...”

Someone else was dealt the hand. Trump was just minding his own business, wandering through the Casino, when some jamoke grabed his lapel. "Mr. Trump, you may not be ready for this, but you now own this Casino and you've got take over this guy's hand."

Henry said...

got *to* take over

Achilles said...

"Okay, but that's the opposite of what we have been trying to do for the last two decades. First, how are they going to be "broken up" And second, how will they stay broken once they are. It seems there is very little appetite in either Iraq or Afghanistan for partition."

What we have been doing for the last few decades makes more sense if you think there is a group of technocratic elites making the decisions through the neocon/democrat party. They drew the borders the way they wanted long ago. They have their reasons for those lines and they are opposed to stability. Almost as if they wanted to force intercession.

Breaking them up is easy. You just do it. They already live separately day to day.

Michael K said...

Cookie, you are parroting his slanders of US soldiers in those hearings.

J. Farmer said...

@Achilles:

Why can't we stop murder in this country? Why can't we stop theft? Or fraud? Why can't we stop financiers screwing their clients? Or employers screwing their employees? Or parents from abusing their children?

If your argument is that we cannot distinguish between any jihadis and that they all deserve death, that's going to require war against dozens of countries across at least three different continents.

Inga...Allie Oop said...

So, will Trump flip flop again tonight in Phoenix? What will he say to his peeps? Will they cheer his new Afghanistan policy?

J. Farmer said...

Achilles:

What we have been doing for the last few decades makes more sense if you think there is a group of technocratic elites making the decisions through the neocon/democrat party. They drew the borders the way they wanted long ago.

Wait...the neocon/democrat party drew the borders? Seems the British and French had something to do with that, along with the actions of Turkey.

Breaking them up is easy. You just do it. They already live separately day to day.

And how do you get the rest of the world to respect the legitimacy of those borders?

J. Farmer said...

@Michael K:

I would think you would be more enthusiastic about Trump if you are for closed borders and fair trade.

I am; I supported him from the very beginning of the primaries and voted for him for president. I do think we should rip those ridiculous managed trade agreements that are little more than a giveaway to corporatist interests, and I believe in significantly curtailing immigration. I also believe in a much less interventionist foreign policy, and while Trump made some statements that were heartening, I always considered that to be his biggest weakness and my biggest fear for his presidency.

William said...

One notes that the Mongols didn't have any overwhelming problems in their conquest of Mesopotamia, Persia, and Afghanistan. You can argue that we no longer use the tactics of Genghis Khan in our warmaking, but that's not true. Against Germany and Japan, we used tactics far more brutish than any used by the Mongols......We does not use Genghis Khan tactics against peripheral enemies in minor conflicts, but that could change. Do you think it possible that some Muslim extremists could raise enough money to buy a nuclear device from North Korea? Does this scenario sound far fetched to you? I don't think it's any less far fetched than the destruction of the WTC towers......There's a kind of paradox here. The Muslims can keep the war going indefinitely so long as they don't score a major victory against the US. But when they do, it's Katie bar the door and we'll go all Genghis Khan and Curtis Lemay on their asses.

Robert Cook said...

"Cookie, you are parroting his slanders of US soldiers in those hearings."

JFK? When did he slander US soldiers?

The quotes you refer to are from Viet Nam veterans. They are not my quotes, or John Kerry's, whom I presume you meant to refer to. There's really no dispute that American forces committed atrocities in Viet Nam, and that My Lai was not an isolated event.

We had no business being in Viet Nam, just as we have no business being in Afghanistan, Iraq, and the rest of the ME states we have attacked.

buwaya said...

"Wait...the neocon/democrat party drew the borders? Seems the British and French had something to do with that, along with the actions of Turkey."

No, it goes much deeper than that. A large part of the problem in the ME and elsewhere is that you never did have a unified ethnic body anywhere. It was always a mixture of enclaves of peoples. In Iraq across broad areas villages of Sunni and Shiite and Kurd and Christian and Turkmen and etc. tended to be interspersed, and the towns had their quarters of this people or that. And in modern times as people moved into cities from the countryside it became even more mixed.

Much of the historic process in the ME and North Africa is indeed the simplification of populations. The Jews, once important, have been driven away everywhere, and now the Christians are being removed.

Michael K said...

"There's really no dispute that American forces committed atrocities in Viet Nam,"

There is a lot of dispute that it was common.

My Lai has been analyzed to death. It was a poorly organized and poorly led unit. The massacre was stopped by an Army helicopter pilot.

Dopes like you think the "napalm girl" was a victim of US atrocities when she was a victim of SV army attacks on her village.

Robert Cook said...

"The massacre was stopped by an Army helicopter pilot."

Yes, he was a hero, who was condemned and ostracized by many in the military and government.

Michael K said...

The Ottomans were absolutely incompetent rulers and everywhere they conquered became tribal even if they had not been before.

In "Black Lamb and Grey Falcon" Rebecca West points out that Serbia had no functional government and clans formed around families for security.

A familiar illustration, likely to be repeated elsewhere in the ME was the end of "Lawrence of Arabia" where the Arabs conquer Damascus and then don't know how to operate the power plants.

The Saudis are sitting on a powder keg of uneducated elite citizens who are unemployable and the money is running out.

J. Farmer said...

@Buwaya:

No, it goes much deeper than that.

I agree wholeheartedly. Read the comment I was replying to.

My position on this is rather straightforward. One, I think the threat to the US of Islamic jihadism is vastly overstated and overblown. We have more than enough resources to protect ourselves from this problem, and the actions taken since 9/11 have largely been counterproductive, self-defeating, and unnecessary. We could easily reduce the Pentagon by half and experience no appreciable change in our security situation.

J. Farmer said...

@Michael K:

I like Buchanan except his anti-Israel bias.

I don't want the thread to detour into an Israel discussion, but I don't think Buchanan as an anti-Israel bias. If there is a bias, it's among the pro side, who make outlandish claims like there should be "no daylight" between US and Israeli foreign policy. I believe we should have diplomatic relations with Israel and we should trade with them, like we do with almost every country on the planet, but I don't believe we should have a special relationship with them.

buwaya said...

"One notes that the Mongols didn't have any overwhelming problems in their conquest of Mesopotamia, Persia, and Afghanistan."

The Mongols could not keep their empire together for very long, about four decades (or less really) at its maximum extent before it broke up, and the various parts themselves broke up, and the colonizers were integrated into the natives very quickly. Empires are usually easier to accumulate than to retain.

They are BEST retained, even as successor states, if the conquerors make themselves into the "native" ruling class (as the Mongols and Manchus did), in cases where they don't simply replace the old population with settlers. Only a few European powers actually did this, Spain and Portugal in the Americas are the greatest example. The British and French failed to create a master-caste in their non-white colonies.

If the US had given land grants, as in the old Spanish encomiendas, in Iraq and Afghanistan say, as rewards for its conquering soldiers, things would be quite different. I don't know if this would have worked and the fundamental lack of self confidence in the West makes this old-fashioned (but historically very effective) process unlikely.

Michael K said...

Cookie, what party ran Congress during Vietnam ?

What party was the President at the time ?

Congressman Mendel Rivers, Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, even accused him of being a traitor to his country and unsuccessfully attempted to have him court-martialed.

Notice that Mendel Rivers was not a member of the Army ?

Lyndon Johnson was the most corrupt and incompetent person ever elected President. He has been a disaster to this country. We almost got another named Hillary.

buwaya said...

" I think the threat to the US of Islamic jihadism is vastly overstated and overblown."

The threat is to the west by Islam, plain and simple. The US is the least directly affected, unless it very foolishly lets in great numbers of Muslims.

The secondary threat is the destabilization, and perhaps moreso the degeneracy of Europe from the same cause.

Michael K said...

"I don't believe we should have a special relationship with them."

That's part of what I referred to. Also he was very critical of what he considered "The pro-Israel amen corner"in Congress.

The Israelis are valuable allies second only to the British.

I will grant you that they have stirred up Arabs who were never really friends or allies anyway. I doubt, if Israel had never existed, the Arabs would be worth "the bones of a single Pomeranian grenadier" to us.

They are small but a great source of innovation and technology. For just one example, the idiots who run California could adopt Israeli technology in desalination and avoid the "droughts," actually created by the failure to build infrastructure.


Robert Cook said...

"Cookie, what party ran Congress during Vietnam ?

"What party was the President at the time?"


The Democrats. So? This is not a case of Democrats: Good, Republicans: Bad. Both parties serve the interests of the power elite who run for their own purposes. Differences between the parties are superficial. Look at all the Democrats who supported Bush's insupportable and fraudulent case for attacking Iraq. They're all complicit in war crimes.

Michael K said...

Your weak excuse avoids my point. The POLITICIANS were the ones angry that the pilot had shot holes in their argument that the ear was going well.

Vietnam might have been won or stabilized by the program that was going on before Johnson. The Army had rejected the Special Forces concept from Greece, where it did work.

Would it have worked in South Vietnam ? It was not tried.

I have been listening to Caro's biography of Johnson and it is apparent he was the worst possible person to be in the presidency at the time.

Michael K said...

"Spain and Portugal in the Americas are the greatest example."

I don't think it was very successful but then neither Spain nor Portugal was well governed.

Philip II squandered the greatest fortune in human history and left Spain poor for the next 200 years.

buwaya said...

Racism is an interesting concept. And it does matter in this case. It was a major European weakness in the latter days of the colonial empires, for reasons entirely different than the complaints of the non-white colonized and their descendants.

The reluctance to breed with the natives, to put it bluntly, and especially so in the upper classes of the colonizers. It was a major barrier in creating a mestizo society, and the penetration (calling Laslo for the inevitable reasons) of the native societies, to embed the foreign culture into the native one.

Joking aside, Europe had its chance and blew it because the Europeans (other than the Spanish and Portuguese) kept themselves aloof from the natives.

buwaya said...

"I don't think it was very successful but then neither Spain nor Portugal was well governed."

I am considering them successes simply because the conquerors culture, whatever its defects, persisted and became "native".

J. Farmer said...

@Michael K:

That's part of what I referred to. Also he was very critical of what he considered "The pro-Israel amen corner"in Congress.

Well, I would not call that an anti-Israel bias anymore than saying we should not have a special relationship with Germany reveals an anti-German bias. I don't think we should have a special relationship with anyone, though the so called Five Eyes is probably about as close as I would get, given those countries shared linguistic and cultural heritages. As for the "pro-Israel amen corner," I think that is undeniably true. There are many people who want the US to treat Israel special not because of any strategic value, but because they believe supernatural events occurred there at some time in the past. I don't think that should be a guiding principle in US foreign relations.

The Israelis are valuable allies second only to the British.

Oh, I disagree completely. If anything, the US-Israeli relationship is extremely beneficial for Israel and most likely a net liability for the United States. I would say our relationship with Japan, for example, was fare more valuable and important than our relationship with Israel. We have no mutual defense arrangement with Israel, and Israel as far as I know has never provided its forces to US-led coalitions in the past.

They are small but a great source of innovation and technology.

I don't deny that at all, but that still doesn't require (let alone remotely justify) such a lopsided relationship.

Roughcoat said...

J. Farmer:

Islam is a threat to the West. An existential threat. The threat is not vastly overrated. You are misinterpreting terrorist operations as the thing itself. Such operations are tactical expressions of the threat. Terrorist operations wax and wane in frequency and destructiveness. The threat continues to grow. It is not overrated. On the contrary it is misperceived and misunderstood hence underrated.

Robert Cook said...

"Vietnam might have been won or stabilized by the program that was going on before Johnson. The Army had rejected the Special Forces concept from Greece, where it did work."

As with Afghanistan, what did winning entail? Why were we even there? We had no legitimate purpose and our very presence there was a crime from the start.

J. Farmer said...

@buwaya:

The threat is to the west by Islam, plain and simple. The US is the least directly affected, unless it very foolishly lets in great numbers of Muslims.

If you say there is a demographic threat, I agree completely. I think Merkel's throwing open the flood gates for young middle eastern men was one of the stupidest, most fateful decisions for Europe since the German's foolish war guarantee to Austro-Hungary in their ultimatum to Serbia.

Hence, I have repeatedly said that the best way to protect ourselves from Islamic terror is to tighten our border and get control of our immigration/visa system. A 10-year moratorium on all immigration into the country (with a few minor exceptions) would be a great start. Consider the case of the Japanese. They are rich, have a high standard of living, relatively free, and are just as much infidels as other non-Muslims, even more so considering that they are not people of the book. And yet, do they face a threat from radical salafists? No. National homogeneity is a fantastic thing. Diversity sews division and the dividing of people into sectarian enclaves.

J. Farmer said...

@Roughcoat:

Islam is a threat to the West. An existential threat.

What is the threat? If not through terrorism, how can Islam pose an "existential" threat to us? Last year, more Americans were killed in routine homicides than have all died in all acts of Islamic terrorism against the US in our history combined.

William said...

You can argue that we have been in Afghanistan for sixteen years and won nothing. That's true, but what have the Taliban won. I can appreciate the appeal of living in a country where you can freely beat women and fuck little boys, but life is a matter of trade offs and compromises. Is there any chance that some in the Taliban ranks will decide that there are better ways to live than constant, losing warfare?

StephenFearby said...

I'm afraid that Steve Bannon has gone more than a little bit squirrely and his cognitive problems are likely only to get a lot worse.

Bannon's gut is now way bigger than Trump's. Metabolic Syndrome. Layers of fat pumping out inflammatory cytokines.

A dermatologist explains what’s wrong with Steve Bannon’s haggard face

"They say Steve Bannon has the face of a man who looks like he eats cigarettes, or was just arrested for drunk-driving a houseboat. The White House Chief Strategist is not a pleasant sight by all accounts, but why?"

"...He's got the metabolic syndromes – central obesity, the male gut which increases estrogen causing bloat, holding water. That comes with a huge risk heart attack or cardiovascular event."

"...He looks 30, 40 pounds overweight. Men hold a lot of the weight in our necks, in the chin – he has puffy jowls. He looks very unhealthy."

https://thetab.com/us/2017/02/28/whats-wrong-steve-bannon-face-61724

Synapse. 2017 Jun 26.
Alzheimer's disease and metabolic syndrome: A link from oxidative stress and inflammation to neurodegeneration.

Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the most common cause of dementia and one of the most important causes of morbidity and mortality among the aging population. AD diagnosis is made post-mortem, and the two pathologic hallmarks, particularly evident in the end stages of the illness, are amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles. Currently, there is no curative treatment for AD. Additionally, there is a strong relation between oxidative stress, metabolic syndrome, and AD. The high levels of circulating lipids and glucose imbalances amplify lipid peroxidation that gradually diminishes the antioxidant systems, causing high levels of oxidative metabolism that affects cell structure, leading to neuronal damage.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28650104

All this is consistent with a hypothesis that Bannon is now wallowing in the early stages of dementia.

Bannon's track record is one of a very smart and successful guy. His recent catastrophic on-the-record interview with American Prospect Editor Robert Kuttner suggests he's going off the deep end.

J. Farmer said...

@William:

Part of the problem, I think, is that this is not really a "war" in most classical definitions of the word. We are not at a war with an organized, state force. Afghanistan is basically plagued by guerrilla warfare against the state by its own citizens. We are essentially trying to save Afghanistan from itself. But how will we know when the war is won?

Let's say that somehow the Taliban is "defeated" on the battlefield, and the central government has control over the entire territory of Afghanistan. Great, we won. We withdraw. Then five or ten years later, Taliban insurgency gets going again. Do we then have to return to the country and continue fighting a counterinsurgency campaign against these fighters? Is our commitment to the Kabul government in perpetuity or at some point do we say that Afghanistan's security is the sole responsibility of the Afghanistan government?

buwaya said...

"Why were we even there? We had no legitimate purpose and our very presence there was a crime from the start."

The US was there to preserve an outpost of the Capitalist block from the aggression of an instrument of the Communist block. Precisely the same reason that the US was in Korea or Germany.

The main objection to this sort of logic at the time was along the lines of George Kennan's argument - which was mainly that of Asia in general not being worth the trouble, being a sink of poverty.

Europe was the main theater, due to its economic power and potential, and the main strategic resource being fought over in the ideological war. This has been shown to be ultimately a short-sighted view.

buwaya said...

"Afghanistan is basically plagued by guerrilla warfare against the state by its own citizens."

Not really the state - this is mainly a war between ethnic groups in Afghanistan.

Michael K said...

I would say our relationship with Japan, for example, was fare more valuable and important than our relationship with Israel.

Do you remember the panic about Japan, similar to the concerns about china, that were illustrated by the book "Yen !" which I can no longer even find on Amazon. It was in the 80s and described the greatest threat to the US.

Japan has been a competitor since we helped them recover after WWII.

Maybe you don't recall the buying spree Japan went through here until their real estate market collapsed.

China is doing the same thing but has a bigger population base.

Japan has served as a base but Okinawa has been the real base since the 90s and after the Philippines threw us out of Subic Bay.

Michael K said...

Is our commitment to the Kabul government in perpetuity or at some point do we say that Afghanistan's security is the sole responsibility of the Afghanistan government?

I think we can do some good with public health and infrastructure but our real enemy is Pakistan and Islam.

I see no good reason to be there now. I think Trump is going along with McMaster and Tillerson to work on the Pakistan problem.

I still want to know what the story behind the Pakis IT people and Pakistan. Maybe the ISI has been running our policy.

They had the Democrats, who were the party in power the last 8 years, thoroughly infiltrated. Maybe this is treason.

Real treason, not the fake Trump accusations.

Kevin said...

Key word: "Flip-flop."

I appreciate the candor. When a politician campaign on one thing and does another, we should call them on it. It doesn't mean that changing was wrong, but they should be called on it nonetheless - regardless of party.

We should not disavow that it was a change. We should not call it a "nuanced" decision. We should not pretend the former was carried out when the latter is actually happening.

We should call a spade a spade and let the chips fall where they may.

Note that Trump didn't run away from it last night. He directly addressed it as a change and explained why he chose a different policy.

Roughcoat said...

If not through terrorism, how can Islam pose an "existential" threat to us?

You can answer that question. You're halfway there.

Here's a clue: routine homicides do not constitute an existential threat to America much less the West entire.

Another clue, repeating what I said: terrorism is a tactic.

Think strategically. Imagine you are Sun Tzu.

Achilles said...

"Wait...the neocon/democrat party drew the borders? Seems the British and French had something to do with that, along with the actions of Turkey."

Read what I wrote and try again. Super secret hint: "through" can apply to British and French too.

Roughcoat said...

WWSTD?

= What Would Sun Tzu Do?

buwaya said...

"What Would Sun Tzu Do?"

Based on typical Chinese practice, kill a great number of people.

Heywood Rice said...

Afghanistan is basically plagued by guerrilla warfare against the state by its own citizens.

"The state" in this case is a puppet regime held in place by a foreign military occupation. This serves many purposes simultaneously, some of which are discussed in the media and some which are not. Generally speaking, war is the health of the state.

Nonapod said...

When thinking about starting or continuing any conflict, you have to be able to assess the costs and benefits of it. The problem is, there's no way to be certain of what would've happened if you made a different decision. If we decide we're going to stay in Afghanistan in perpetuity, it's going to cost some amount of money and lives every year, but we can't know for certain what those amounts would be until we commit to that course.

Conversely if we leave Afghanistan, some amount of life and money may well be lost due to new and dangerous factions of Islamic extremists appearing. They could potentially commit devastating new terrorist attacks worldwide. But again, we won't know for certain until we make that choice and, as a result, those events come to pass or not.

It's always easier to look back and see when a bad choice was made and to go all Monday morning quarterback. But even then, we can't know for certain because there's no way to try both choices and see them play out different timelines. You can believe that some event is more probable than another if you make a certain choice, but you can never really know.

Roughcoat said...

after the Philippines threw us out of Subic Bay.

They didn't throw us out, we left after the PI tried to extort us in the aftermath of the Pinatubo eruption.

Roughcoat said...

Based on typical Chinese practice, kill a great number of people.

That is precisely the opposite of what Sun Tzu would do.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Note that Trump didn't run away from it last night. He directly addressed it as a change and explained why he chose a different policy.

When the facts change only a fool or ideologue doesn't reassess the situation and make adjustments. Change strategy. Change tactics.

Trump, being more fully informed than we are (we hope), has new facts, more information, and has made a decision to reflect those facts.

buwaya said...

"They didn't throw us out, we left after the PI tried to extort us in the aftermath of the Pinatubo eruption."

The Philippine government of the day got greedy (not an unusual state).
Popular opinion there overwhelmingly was to keep the bases.
If the US had wanted to keep the bases the US could easily have leveraged their goodwill, made a case through its local partisans. Its done this sort of thing often enough.

But the US did not, I think for fiscal/strategic reasons. This was when the US was all for a "peace dividend" from the end of the Cold War. Philippine bases were surplus to requirements, especially as they were out of action due to Pinatubo and would have to be expensively rebuilt.

buwaya said...

"That is precisely the opposite of what Sun Tzu would do."

Not according to my reading of Sun Tzu.
Bloodshed is contraindicated when it is contraindicated, not otherwise.

J. Farmer said...

@Roughcoat:

Here's a clue: routine homicides do not constitute an existential threat to America much less the West entire.

So let me repeat: you claim that Islam poses an existential threat to America. My question is very simple: how? And how does helping the Kabul government get control of Helmand province mitigate this existential threat?

@Achilles:

Read what I wrote and try again. Super secret hint: "through" can apply to British and French too.

Well, those borders were drawn after the conclusion of the First World War. So, first, I have no idea how the term "neocon" even applies there. Second, I read Macmillan's 1919 and Fromkin's Peace to End All Peace and both stress how ineffectual Wilson was at Versailles. So if you're going to claim that the "neocon/dem party...drew the borders" you're going to have to back that up beyond just being snarky against people for being unable to read your mind.

@Buwaya:

Not really the state - this is mainly a war between ethnic groups in Afghanistan.

The presence of US troops in Afghanistan is under the auspice of the U.S.–Afghanistan Strategic Partnership Agreement. So let's say it is between the Afghan forces that manage their end of the agreement and their internal opponents. Yes, there are splinters within the Taliban, including among the Haqqani network and the Dadullah Front and the Sacrifice Front, but ethnic fault lines are just one piece of the puzzle.

Heywood Rice said...

Trump, being more fully informed than we are (we hope), has new facts, more information, and has made a decision to reflect those facts.

He couldn't make a decision so he made some new facts instead.

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