February 29, 2020

"The United States signed a deal with the Taliban on Saturday that sets the stage to end America’s longest war..."

"... the nearly two-decade-old conflict in Afghanistan that began after the Sept. 11 attacks, killed tens of thousands of people, vexed three White House administrations and left mistrust and uncertainty on all sides.... The war in Afghanistan in some ways echoes the American experience in Vietnam. In both, a superpower bet heavily on brute strength and the lives of its young, then walked away with seemingly little to show. American efforts to instill a democratic system in the country, and to improve opportunities for women and minorities, are at risk if the Taliban, which banned girls from schools and women from public life, become dominant again. Corruption is still rampant, the country’s institutions are feeble, and the economy is heavily dependent on American and other international aid.... The withdrawal of American troops — about 13,000 are still in Afghanistan — is dependent on the Taliban’s fulfillment of major commitments that have been obstacles for years, including its severance of ties with international terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda.... The Trump administration has framed the deal as the long-awaited promise made to war-weary Americans, for whom the Afghan war has defined a generation of loss and trauma but has yielded no victory."

The NYT reports.

123 comments:

rhhardin said...

I doubt Americans are war-weary. They're just no longer paying any attention to it. It's one of the ongoing police actions dealing with idiot muslims, is all.

mockturtle said...

It doesn't really matter if the Taliban fulfills its side of the agreement. What matters is that Trump will get our troops out of that quagmire and a treaty is an honorable exit on our part.

Leland said...

I'm glad the withdrawal will be staged. A lot of people will be pushing for the Taliban to break the peace agreement before November. Both to keep America stuck in a losing war in Asia and to prevent Trump from getting credit for finally ending the war there.

Roger Sweeny said...

Interesting how the Times tries to say both that the United States should withdraw and that the withdrawal is a bad thing.

David Begley said...

Trump wins the peace!

Not tired of winning.

A young man I knew in grade school is there now. West Point and Creighton Prep alum. His parents must be thrilled.

Harsh Pencil said...

We gave the non-Taliban Afghanis two decades to get their shit together, which they were unable or unwilling to do. Enough.

Mark said...

The treaty will fail, but hopefully we exit anyway.

Anyone expecting rural illiterate fundamentalist peasants to blindly follow what a Pakistan-living cleric from a different clan or ethnicity says is foolish.

Afghanistan is not going to magically fall into line for anyone.

Francisco D said...

I fully expect Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi and Mitt Romney to say that this deal makes us less safe.

That's because it's the deal that Putin wants.

Narr said...

If this works I'm that much more likely to vote for Trump.

Narr
'Bout fooking time!

exhelodrvr1 said...

"The Trump administration has framed the deal"

Did the NYT use that phrasing when writing about Obama's Iran negotiations? I know ... stupid question.

tim maguire said...

Rhhardin is right. Far from being war weary, most Americans are barely aware we are in Afghanistan. The deal may not be much of a deal, but at this point, who cares? We achieved our aims in a few weeks and should have pulled out 15 years ago.

Angle-Dyne, Servant of Ugliness said...

"American efforts to instill a democratic system in the country, and to improve opportunities for women and minorities, are at risk if the Taliban, which banned girls from schools and women from public life, become dominant again."

That's an odd sentence: "Efforts" are at risk. Not results, not successes, not anything concrete. As if ongoing "efforts" were the point, not actually reaching the goal of all the efforts.

Odd, but oddly telling.

AllenS said...

Roger Sweeny nails it @ 2/29/20, 9:00 AM

Michael K said...

We should have left ten years ago but no president had the guts to do it.

Limited blogger said...

'Mission Accomplished!'

JAORE said...

In WWII, the war of my father, we'd have identified the villages and camps of the Taliban and carpet bombed them into dust.

From afar.

Oh the horror of the lost women and children (like Dresden or Hiroshima). Now compare the loss of that short, sharp effort with nearly two decades of battle. Want to bet that more non-combatants have been killed or wounded over that time. Both by our side and the Taliban.

We would have spared thousands of our fighting forces. We'd have saved trillions in dollars and the message to the world would have been clear.

These humane wars are.... not.

Lucien said...

Trump should have got us out in 2017. The generals he let talk him into staying there were dopes, babies and losers.

Here's a test for ongoing military operations everywhere: If the responsible commanders can't describe what winning looks like and don't have a feasible plan for achieving that win, then we shouldn't be there. Fuck "credibility", fuck "stabilizing the region", we shouldn't be there.

Some Seppo said...

We were in Afghanistan for more than 45 years?

Ken B said...

I see the case for withdrawal. It's been a long time and not much accomplished. I do not see a case for a deal with the taliban. Should the feds have made a deal with the KKK?
This is not “winning” and shame on anyone who calls leaving Afghan women to their fate a “victory”.

Beloved Commenter AReasonableMan said...

rhhardin said...
I doubt Americans are war-weary. They're just no longer paying any attention to it. It's one of the ongoing police actions dealing with idiot muslims, is all.


This callously ignores the effects that endless combat has had on the minds and bodies of the service men and women who have had the misfortune of being posted to this hell hole.

Robert Cook said...

"I doubt Americans are war-weary. They're just no longer paying any attention to it. It's one of the ongoing police actions dealing with idiot muslims, is all."

They're not...because most Americans are essentially unconscious of it. Most don't have anything to do with it, and the media pays scant attention to the death and destruction that we have wrought and continue to wreak. We don't feel the death and destruction because, other than our soldiers (and their families) who do suffer the immediate effects of our war(s), it does not touch us. It's something going on somewhere else...it's not real to us.

In the meantime, our military and its parasitic, ever-metastasizing budget is vacuuming funds away from more productive purposes domestically. Rich asshole politicians and their richer, assholier paymasters pontificate on the need to cut Social Security and Medicare and other funding for those in need because "we can't afford it." (In the meantime, many of these rich assholes are getting rich off war profiteering.) Credulous Americans resent their tax monies being spent on the needs of Americans, but seem not to give the slightest fuck about all their tax monies being squandered on wasteful, ruinous wars that we have no business conducting and that we will never win. CUT THE FUCKING MILITARY BUDGET. Withdraw all troops from abroad and shut down all US military bases in non-US territories.

For a start.

Jersey Fled said...

It's very clear that Trump does not believe in these endless foreign entanglements. That's good news now and in the future.

As to what happens to Afghanistan, who cares. At some point people need to be responsible for their own problems.

AllenS said...

Beloved Commenter AReasonableMan said...
This callously ignores the effects that endless combat has had on the minds and bodies of the service men and women who have had the misfortune of being posted to this hell hole.

Barack Hussein Obama spent all eight of his years as POTUS sending men and women to that hell hole.

Did you ever worry about it back then?

daskol said...

He probably did, as on this subject Cook is mostly sensible and consistent.

Lyle said...

Let Afghan women fend for themselves like they've always done. Woman power!

rcocean said...

Look for cries of "Sell out" from the MSM. Or "This will never work" - Because we can never leave our "noble allies" anywhere. No matter how long we've been there.

And we haven't heard from the Most important person: President Wannabee Vindman.

Greg Hlatky said...

CUT THE FUCKING MILITARY BUDGET

Why should we listen to the Left about the size of the military budget? They don't have the interest of the US at heart. They have always sympathized with, apologized for and celebrated America's enemies.

daskol said...

Once upon a time I believed in making the world safe for democracy, whiskey, sexy and all that. I was an idiot. But it's still sad to tragic to see countries like Iran and Afghanistan who have, thanks to Islam, degenerated from corrupt nations with a westernizing elite to corrupt nations with an Islamicizing elite.

AllenS said...

I now want POTUS Trump to sack every single General that told him not to withdraw the troops, asking for more time to win.

daskol said...

Given that our own elite can't seem to muster a defense of our culture and society, I guess it's not that surprising. But still sad.

rcocean said...

Most liberals have nothing but contempt for the military - and would never serve under any circumstances - so they are indifferent to how many "Grunts" die in Afghanistan or Syria or anywhere else. After all, nobody they know is dying. Myself, i think 19 years is enough. I doubt the only way we can fight ISIS is to keep 13,000 men in Afganistan forever.

clint said...

Worst warmonger ever.

"... war-weary Americans, for whom the Afghan war has defined a generation of loss and trauma..."

For the left, it's always Vietnam and it's always the Civil Rights Movement.

Lucien said... "Here's a test for ongoing military operations everywhere: If the responsible commanders can't describe what winning looks like and don't have a feasible plan for achieving that win, then we shouldn't be there."

Mostly right. One quibble -- it's the political leadership who should be telling the commanders "what winning looks like". That was something GHWB got right and GWB didn't. He was big on explaining the justification for the war, but not the end goal. Of course, that might have been partly because tipping the balance of power in the Middle East away from Iran and towards Saudi Arabia might not have seemed like a good reason to get American soldiers killed...

Beloved Commenter AReasonableMan said...

AllenS said...
Did you ever worry about it back then?


Yes.

Narr said...

It's modern times, muzzies, sink or swim.

Narr
Cook's on the right track

Jupiter said...

Just don't bring any of our Muzzie "allies" back here.

rcocean said...

Miss Lindsey of course will be on TV giving his opinion. Because he always does. If its Saturday or Sunday its Lindsey Graham on TV. Thank God, McCain died (since he refused to retire). Imagine the horror of the last two years if Johnny McCain had been on TV every week popping off about everything from Mueller to Afghanistan!

JPS said...

Lucien,

"The generals [Trump] let talk him into staying there were dopes, babies and losers."

I don't think that's quite fair. The case for staying was that things may not be great now, but they can still get a hell of a lot worse - and they will, if we pull out. That yes, there's a lot wrong there, but -

Ah hell. I don't even believe in that case enough anymore to finish that sentence. Not even for the sake of argument.

I spent a year over there, back around what now seems to have been the mid-point of our effort. I knew why I was going, and I believed in it. If I had to go back - I don't see what purpose being there would serve other than to be there.

I met Afghans who genuinely wanted something better for their country, and put their lives on the line to stand with us. For their sake I feel sick reading the words, "The United States signed a deal with the Taliban." Just a pity there were too few of them to turn the tide.

narciso said...

the French pacified Algeria, in 17 years, but it was a different kind of Frenchmen, then, yes 18 years is long enough interval, now back 10 years ago, was when the counterinsurgency strategy was proposed, but it was curtailed before it had any appreciable results, then we had slo jo simultaneously insult Karzai and indiscriminately drone the country side, that would not be a helpful pursuit, McKinley was the ambassador for part of that period, the counselor who 'spoke truth to power, spare me, now at the tail end paramount has their own version of mash, whiskey something or other,

exhelodrvr1 said...

Our military's presence gave them a chance to move into the modern world. They declined - it's pointless being there until their culture changes.

Michael K said...

I met Afghans who genuinely wanted something better for their country, and put their lives on the line to stand with us. For their sake I feel sick reading the words, "The United States signed a deal with the Taliban." Just a pity there were too few of them to turn the tide.

Yes, even before the 1979 invasion, the King was called "The Mayor of Kabul."

Robert Cook said...

"Why should we listen to" sensible people "about the size of the military budget? They don't have the interest of the US at heart. They have always sympathized with, apologized for and celebrated America's enemies."

How is the size of our military budget (and the purposes to which it is being squandered) helping the interest of the US people, in even the slightest way? It has done us no good--zero--and is a cancer that is eating away at the body politic and is killing our nation.

America's most dangerous enemies, the only ones who will succeed in destroying us, are and have always been those in our government who betray the Constitution and the American people by promoting and carrying out endless wars in the name of "freedom" and "self-defense" when it is nearly always about aggrandizing power and accumulating riches.

mockturtle said...

Just don't bring any of our Muzzie "allies" back here.

Right, Jupiter! No matter how loudly they wail that leaving them 'unprotected' will end in mass murder.

JPS: My brother had the same sentiments regarding Vietnamese he fought with/for and returned twice to visit some of them. He came to believed we should never been there in the first place and digging in deeper wouldn't make success any more feasible.

mockturtle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michael K said...

In the meantime, our military and its parasitic, ever-metastasizing budget is vacuuming funds away from more productive purposes domestically.

Yes, like endless welfare and HUD. Cook you are Fidel in English.

rcocean said...


Here's the Obama record in Afghanistan. Between 2009-2013, 1,600 US servicemen died in Afghanistan.

On 17 February 2009, Barack Obama ordered 17,000 more US troops be sent to Afghanistan to bolster security in the country and thereby boosted the 36,000 US troops already there by 50%.

During the 2013 State of the Union Address, Obama said that the U.S. military will reduce the troop level in Afghanistan from 68,000 to 34,000 US troops by February 2014

n November 2014 U.S. President Obama expanded the original role of U.S. Armed Forces in Afghanistan for 2015. Originally they were supposed to advise, train and assist the Afghan Forces and to hunt the remnants of Al Qaeda. Under the president's order U.S. forces would carry out missions against the Taliban and other militant groups threatening American troops or the Afghan government while American jets, bombers and drones can support Afghan troops on combat missions

On 6 July 2016 U.S. President Obama said he would draw down troops to 8,400 by the end of his administration in December 2016

rcocean said...

'Member all the Hollyweirdos and leftists being outraged over the war in Afghanistan? 'member all those peace marches?

Yeah, neither do I. It all stopped in January 2009, when obama took office.

mockturtle said...

Cookie tends to overlook the fact that one of the few responsibilities of the federal government is defense. But I certainly agree with him regarding the burgeoning expenditures, opaque 'intelligence' budgets and pork-laden defense contracts are cause for concern. There is a lot of corruption in the Pentagon.

Francisco D said...

Here's a test for ongoing military operations everywhere: If the responsible commanders can't describe what winning looks like and don't have a feasible plan for achieving that win, then we shouldn't be there.

I agree but the problem is that our commanders are often able to convince politicians that we can win.

It is just like Democrats trying to convince us that (for example) increasing the budgets for homelessness and education will "win" those wars.

Nichevo said...

Happy now, J. Farmer? Wait wait don't tell me - no.

GatorNavy said...

Bluntly speaking, this a good deal. We should have nuked that place from orbit and then nuked the glass. And in preliminary defense of that comment; any future respondent to my comment hold the NEC #8404?

robother said...

"Quagmire" is just another word for swamp. Endless quagmires is what the Military-Industrial Complex of the DC Swamp has been producing since the end of WWII. Korea (which is still a war/police action under temporary truce), Vietnam, Iraq, Serbia, Afghanistan, Libya.... We defeat the Soviet threat (thanks in part, ironically to their involvement in an Afghan quagmire), but the mission to spread democracy to the entire world endures.

Lots of Swamp careers, in and out of government. No wonder they hate Trump.

Ambrose said...

Trump is going to turn Democrats into warmongers now - just watch.

The Drill SGT said...

mockturtle said...
It doesn't really matter if the Taliban fulfills its side of the agreement. What matters is that Trump will get our troops out of that quagmire and a treaty is an honorable exit on our part.


I don't know what the terms are, but with the precedent of how we (the Dem Congress of 1975) didn't honor our commitments to South Vietnam, we'll see if we keep our honor this time.

The Drill SGT said...

First off, Afghanistan isn't really a country. There is no national language. It's just a circle on a map. A collection of tribes. The only way to deal with the place is the policy the Imperial Brits called "Butcher and Bolt". We didn't learn from them.

Ken B said...

“ Trump is going to turn Democrats into warmongers now - just watch.”

The fun part will be watching Farmer morph into Bill Kristol.

JPS said...

Francisco D,

"the problem is that our commanders are often able to convince politicians that we can win."

First they convinced themselves. It's like the problem Richard Feynman identified in science:

"[Y]ou must not fool yourself—and you are the easiest person to fool....After you’ve not fooled yourself, it’s easy not to fool other scientists. You just have to be honest in a conventional way after that."

Robert Cook said...

This guy is obviously a lefty hater of America:

"In time of actual war, great discretionary powers are constantly given to the Executive Magistrate. Constant apprehension of War, has the same tendency to render the head too large for the body. A standing military force, with an overgrown Executive will not long be safe companions to liberty. The means of defence agst. foreign danger, have been always the instruments of tyranny at home. Among the Romans it was a standing maxim to excite a war, whenever a revolt was apprehended. Throughout all Europe, the armies kept up under the pretext of defending, have enslaved the people."

James Madison, Speech before Constitutional Convention (6/29/1787).

"Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few. In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive is extended; its influence in dealing out offices, honors, and emoluments is multiplied; and all the means of seducing the minds, are added to those of subduing the force, of the people. The same malignant aspect in republicanism may be traced in the inequality of fortunes, and the opportunities of fraud, growing out of a state of war, and in the degeneracy of manners and of morals engendered by both. No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare."

—James Madison, Political Observations, Apr. 20, 1795 in: Letters and Other Writings of James Madison, vol. 4, p. 491 (1865)

Andrew said...

Trump should personally welcome each of the soldiers back at whatever air base they return to. He should throw them and their families a five-star meal. He should also invite every Dem candidate for president. Then see who shows up.

stevew said...

On balance, a good thing, a very good thing. Yet I have no doubt there will soon be those saying Trump is an idiot and this is very bad deal for... someone.

William said...

An entire generation of Afghan women learned how to read and write because of our involvement. Maybe something good will come from our involvement there. I'd be just as glad to get out though...."The deadest thing alive enough to have strength to die". So ends our affair in Afghanistan. The Afghans can take credit for having the most enduring failed state in history. It takes real commitment to keep people living in poverty, ignorance and fear for so long, but if you want to beat your wife and fuck little boys, the sacrifice is worth it.

J. Farmer said...

As I commented on this post back in September: "This topic was pretty well covered in last night's cafe post, so I'll just reiterate that negotiations are a face-saving tactic based ultimately in the "credibility" argument that far too often leads the US wedded to foreign policy disasters for far too long. The Taliban does not recognize the Afghan government and will not respect human rights. Pushing for these things is a colossal waste of time. We don't need a negotiation. We need a helicopter, a wave, and a 'lots of luck!'"

I welcome any withdraw of troops, but the immediate drawdown from 13,000 to 8,600 merely puts them at the level they were at when Trump took office. Further drawdowns are conditional on the Taliban meeting certain metrics, such as reaching some kind of negotiated settlement with the Afghan government. Even as of now, the Taliban does not recognize the Afghan government or the current constitution. Plus, it is difficult to see how the Afghan government can begin negotiations with the Taliban considering that the Afghan government is still trying to resolve a serious dispute within itself. The post-election dispute between Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah continues, with being claiming victory and Abdullah pledging to establish a parallel government.

Robert Cook said...

"Cookie tends to overlook the fact that one of the few responsibilities of the federal government is defense."

Another is, per the preamble of the Constitution to "promote the general Welfare..." (capitalization in the original). What falls under this general rubric? It is left undefined, and hence, it is left up to each generation to determine. As per James Madison above, I believe that maintaining an appallingly expensive military budget and apparatus, and continually "exiting war(s)" is not contributory to the general welfare, but is decidedly detrimental to it, even fatal.

J. Farmer said...

@Ken B:

The fun part will be watching Farmer morph into Bill Kristol.

And why would I do that? Unlike a lot of people, my foreign policy views don't change depending on the letter after the name of the person in the oval office.

gspencer said...

The lesson is never learned. Despite 1400 years of experience.

Trust a Muslim to be a Muslim. And all that that means. Your survival depends upon knowing and acting on that 1400-year old fact of life.

mockturtle said...

Trump is going to turn Democrats into warmongers now - just watch.

Look at the wars over the past century and see who was Commander in Chief at the time. Wilson, FDR, Truman, Kennedy, LBJ. Was the Democratic Party ever about peace?

[Please note that I do not consider our entry into WWII a mistake]

Big Mike said...

In the early days, when a dozen Special Forces troops worked with Northern Alliance warlord Abdul Dostum to capture the city of Mazār-e Sharīf in a matter of weeks, it must have seemed very easy to the Pentagon and besides, there were medals to be won for regular army officers if conventional troops took over the fighting.

Didn't work.

Get in, set limited objectives, achieve them, and get out. And wherever possible align your objectives with the objectives of local forces who can do the bulk of the fighting while the US supplies logistical support and air support. No more running US troops through countries hoping -- hoping!!! -- that someone will try to kill them.

Iman said...

“The NYT reports”

The NYT writes of the corona virus being “Trump’s virus”

Fuck the NYT.

narciso said...




the problem is as with the soviet surrender, the Taliban will press their advantage, maybe in neighboring countries

AllenS said...

We have to stop thinking that we "are nation building" when we enter a foreign country. Our military is for breaking things and killing people. That language is going to be too blunt to understand for some of the people here.

Iman said...

That's an odd sentence: "Efforts" are at risk. Not results, not successes, not anything concrete. As if ongoing "efforts" were the point, not actually reaching the goal of all the efforts.

Lefties will always place more value on intentions than results. It’s how they roll.

narciso said...

well the war shattered afghan society, the Taliban, somewhat akin to the Chinese communists pressed the advantage and took over, their ambitions might be more like the ghazavid empire, which that Anderson park novel, reminded me, they will press their advantage through hijra, invasion by immigration,

Hagar said...

America's "longest war" is still the one with the Chiricahua Apache 1846-86, and officially not over until the U.S. Army released the last POWs in 1913).

I do not think the Taliban can sign any binding treaties, being mainly tribesmen fighting about who is to control the poppy fields and the opium trade.

narciso said...

category error

mockturtle said...

We have to stop thinking that we "are nation building" when we enter a foreign country. Our military is for breaking things and killing people. That language is going to be too blunt to understand for some of the people here.

AllenS is right. As Kitchener said, "“War is a stern game and he who would play it successfully should not be over-troubled with the bowels of compassion.”

If we're not in it to win it, we shouldn't be in it at all. A war not worth risking life and limb for isn't worth fighting. Ideally, war should be avoided when at all possible but fought to annihilation when not.

Greg Hlatky said...

But I certainly agree with him regarding the burgeoning expenditures, opaque 'intelligence' budgets and pork-laden defense contracts are cause for concern.

I agree as well. But by the Cook Criterion the only acceptable level of military spending is zero.

AllenS said...

... and nothing can hamper our Armed Forces more than these stupid ROEs (Rules of Engagement) on what we are allowed to do in a war zone, and what will put you in prison by officers who are in the rear area, or running the show from the States. Fuck 'em.

purplepenquin said...

Excellent news! I hope it sticks & everything works out well. Got a couple buddies over there that need to come home.

J. Farmer said...

@mockturtle:

If we're not in it to win it, we shouldn't be in it at all. A war not worth risking life and limb for isn't worth fighting. Ideally, war should be avoided when at all possible but fought to annihilation when not.

The problem with this line of reasoning is that the United States did not invade Afghanistan in order to nation-build. In fact, nation-building is not even a very coherent term in this context. What the US has been involved in is really state-building. Things like infrastructure and training security personnel. The problem is that once you topple a government, you either (a) attempt to put something in its place, or (b) leave it to anarchy. The problem with (a) is what we've been witnessing for the last two decades. The problem with (b) is that it negates your very reason for starting the war in the first place (i.e. preventing Afghanistan from being a staging ground for terrorists), since as recent history has shown, failed states are breeding grounds for terrorists and guerilla fighters. See recent examples in Iraq, Libya, and Syria.

Unknown said...

Thank you President Trump. Get. Us. OUT!

Unknown said...

"If we're not in it to win it, we shouldn't be in it at all. A war not worth risking life and limb for isn't worth fighting. Ideally, war should be avoided when at all possible but fought to annihilation when not."

Abso dang lutely.

AllenS said...

Nation building after Bush changes his mind


pacwest said...

They can only hope for a last helicopter leaving Saigon moment.

There will be a photo of something similar before the election and the MSM will be running around with creamed panties. Who says you can't predict the future.

mockturtle said...

Only Farmer would argue with my assertion @11:40. Soldier on, Farmer. ;-)

J. Farmer said...

Only Farmer would argue with my assertion @11:40. Soldier on, Farmer. ;-)

Not arguing, per se. Just adding some caveats to yours and Allen's points. "Nation-building" was not the cause of the Afghanistan War, it was a consequence. My argument against the Afghanistan War from the beginning was what do you do once the Taliban have been dislodged from power. That is why we should avoid impulsively toppling regimes as a part of our statecraft.

daskol said...

We went in there to overthrow the Taliban. That does imply nation-building, since they had taken over much of the country. Maybe the answer is unbuilding these nations, whose borders are leftovers of the European empires like Sykes Picot "countries." The answer can't be, Farmer, that there is no difference among relations with various nations and we'll just do business with any and all alike because interventions are messy. Even in a non-interventionist stance there are cases where intervention will become necessary.

daskol said...

Splitting up Iraq, splitting up Afghanistan, in both cases empowering groups who already had de facto control over parts of the country, was floated. The showstopper seemed to be that neighbors with members of the to-be-empowered tribes were very worried about what, say, a Kurdish homeland would do to their domestic Kurdish populations in Turkey, or how Pakistan felt about empowering tribes in the Northern Alliance.

Michael K said...

In the early days, when a dozen Special Forces troops worked with Northern Alliance warlord Abdul Dostum to capture the city of Mazār-e Sharīf in a matter of weeks, it must have seemed very easy to the Pentagon and besides, there were medals to be won for regular army officers if conventional troops took over the fighting.

Read "Jawbreaker," about the first months of the invasion. A lot got done but then "The Big Army" arrived and told the SF guys to "shave and get into uniform"

Vietnam II followed.

daskol said...

The assassination of Massoud also fucked up the nation unbuilding.

daskol said...

That happened right before 9/11, just a couple of days.

Big Mike said...

If we're not in it to win it, we shouldn't be in it at all.

In it to win it? Where did we even decide what victory would look like? How would we have known that we had won? How does a country’s military formulate a strategy to win a war without some mental image of what it is supposed to be working towards?

J. Farmer said...

@Big Mike:

In it to win it? Where did we even decide what victory would look like? How would we have known that we had won? How does a country’s military formulate a strategy to win a war without some mental image of what it is supposed to be working towards?

Exactly right. For most of the conflict, what the US military has primarily been doing is providing security and capacity to the Afghan national government, which is riddled with corruption, inter- and intra-tribal conflict, and a serious lack of legitimacy.

Rusty said...

"In the meantime, our military and its parasitic, ever-metastasizing budget is vacuuming funds away from more productive purposes domestically."
Like letting the taxpayer keep more of the money that is theirs anyway.
"Another is, per the preamble of the Constitution to "promote the general Welfare..." (capitalization in the original). What falls under this general rubric? It is left undefined, and hence, it is left up to each generation to determine."
Jesus. Read some history. You notice it says, "promote", not "provide". That's your clue. Things like canals, roads, waterway improvements, The CDC. Things that benefit every citizen

Known Unknown said...

ALL HAIL TRUMP.

Doing what no other Preezy can do.

Robert Cook said...

"'What falls under this general rubric? It is left undefined, and hence, it is left up to each generation to determine.'

"Jesus. Read some history. You notice it says, 'promote,' not 'provide.' That's your clue. Things like canals, roads, waterway improvements, The CDC. Things that benefit every citizen."


Yes, I know all that. Nothing you've said contradicts (or is not already implied in) my statement. The question is: what "benefits every citizen" such that government should involve itself in "promoting" it? What is excluded? What exactly is the difference between "promote" and "provide?" Is there ever a time when "provide" may be the most effective or appropriate way to "promote?"

My point is that nothing is innately excluded, whereas some assert that virtually the government's only rightful responsibility is to defend the nation. Each generation has to decide how our government should act to promote the general welfare. (Other free, self-governing nations have come to other conclusions as to how their governments should meet their obligations to their people.) As we have rarely ever had to marshal our military to defend us, (as opposed to other purposes), why is so much of our public treasure ransomed to the military? There are many other things that would "benefit every citizen" that could be paid for by money presently committed to our War Department. (I call it that--its original name--because it is more honest, and, as I said, because our military has rarely acted for defensive purposes.)

(Pursuant to this last point, and as a response to a few other comments: by what legal or other right do we decide we will topple other governments to "free their people" or to "promote democracy?" When we initiate military action for any non-defense reason, we are acting criminally.)

mockturtle said...

(Pursuant to this last point, and as a response to a few other comments: by what legal or other right do we decide we will topple other governments to "free their people" or to "promote democracy?" When we initiate military action for any non-defense reason, we are acting criminally.)

You are right about that, Cookie! If there were any reason whatsoever behind our military policies we'd have bombed the shit out of Saudi Arabia instead of invading Iraq. And the first Gulf War was all about doing the Saudis' bidding. They're a rich country. Can't they fight their own battles? [rhetorical question].

mockturtle said...

Big Mike and Farmer: Agree. If we can't [or shouldn't] win it, we shouldn't be in it. And most of these 'wars' shouldn't even be fought. Victory has no military definition these days nor are there definitive goals. Other than fattening the coffers of defense contractors, what has been accomplished?

narciso said...

and it would have been considered declaring war on islam, and you'd bomb mosques that would have worked well, the distinction between the muttawa and the Taliban is probably degree not kind,

mockturtle said...

We should be at war with Islam, at least a cold war. They are our sworn enemies and yet we give them a pass.

narciso said...

'you may not be interested in war' now the heating up of this war, began around 1979, the grand mosque siege and the soviet invasion, the antagonist in 'true believer' arises from the former instance, an attempt to suppress a proto bin laden, the former national guardsmen, juhayman utaibi, the result of that victory was that king fadh conceded control of much of social policy to the ikwan, among which was syed's brother who taught bin laden,

Narr said...

Trofimov's account of the Grand Mosque battle was interesting. The big shock was that Utaibi was a Sunni, not a Shia as everyone assumed and some still believe.

There's a lot of doubt as to the extent of the French SF involvement too--way overreported I think.

Anyway, imagine a terrorist attack at St Peter's by . . . Christians.

Narr
I'm surprised the followers of the Prophet (PBUH) haven't tried yet

narciso said...

Wahhabis ramsacked mecca in 1801, then najaf and karbala some years later, that's why mohammed ali, the real one, sent an expedition to bottle them up in the nejd that lasted about 25 years,

were they're not invasions of rome in the 16th century, it's not exactly the same,

Howard said...

I hope it works out. As long as there is no footage of people overflowing helicopters on the embassy roof, this will be seen by the majority as a win.

Howard said...

Declaring war cold or otherwise against an entire religion as a punishment for the 1% responsible for terrorism is madness. It's exactly what the terrorists are hoping for because their numbers would go grow exponentially if we did that.

Narr said...

O ya, Rome was sacked by Europeans, and the Pope specifically targeted--at a time when the Papacy was a major secular player.

99% of the miseries that beset Muslims are of their own making, and that will always be the case until they fix themselves.

Narr
Not holding my breath

mockturtle said...

Declaring war cold or otherwise against an entire religion as a punishment for the 1% responsible for terrorism is madness.

So, Howard, it's just a 'religion' and not a dangerous ideology whose goal is to dominate the world by force if necessary? Whose holy book tells them to kill infidels wherever they find them?

J. Farmer said...

@mockturtle:

So, Howard, it's just a 'religion' and not a dangerous ideology whose goal is to dominate the world by force if necessary? Whose holy book tells them to kill infidels wherever they find them?

No, that is the Frank Gafney/Pamella Keller alarmist view. For one, Islam is not a monolithic force. There is much more conflict within Islam than between Islam and the non-Islamic world. No, Islamic societies will never look like European societies. And we should stop trying to make that happen. One of the reasons we have trouble with the Islamic world is that we insist on being a factor in their lives.

mockturtle said...

Do you deny, Farmer, that Muslims believe in Islamic world domination?

J. Farmer said...

Do you deny, Farmer, that Muslims believe in Islamic world domination?

Some Muslims. Some do not. Those that do and actually attempt to make it happen are pitifully weak. Islamic civilizations have been in decline for centuries. They are in no position to seriously challenge major power structures.

Achilles said...

Howard said...

Declaring war cold or otherwise against an entire religion as a punishment for the 1% responsible for terrorism is madness. It's exactly what the terrorists are hoping for because their numbers would go grow exponentially if we did that.

It is easily a majority of Muslim males.

Been there. Seen that.

Any society based on Islam is going to be morally rotten.

Achilles said...

J. Farmer said...

Some Muslims. Some do not. Those that do and actually attempt to make it happen are pitifully weak. Islamic civilizations have been in decline for centuries. They are in no position to seriously challenge major power structures.

But they can force us to make choices between freedom and strip searches on planes.

Achilles said...

We should have just wiped the Taliban out.

We had 1 meter grids on their leadership and we kept catching their shit kickers over and over and over again then just releasing them 2 weeks later with full bellies.

DC clearly wanted an ever lasting war.

I think we should ship everyone in DC to Afghanistan.

narciso said...

Arent you always chattering about demography, if they are african or latino, run for the hills but if their north africa or middle eastern, 'it will be fine'

mockturtle said...

Well played, narciso!

J. Farmer said...

Arent you always chattering about demography, if they are african or latino, run for the hills but if their north africa or middle eastern, 'it will be fine'

You must’ve missed the many, many times I’ve talked about the trouble immigration from MENA into Europe has caused. I am for a complete moratorium on immigration into the US.

daskol said...

Imagining that borders can contain their people and that's the answer to troublesome peoples, and the only answer, is about as spergy and unrealistic as you reasonably accuse Reason types of being.

daskol said...

I think Achilles nailed it: some wars are winnable, but not when your leadership wants not to win but to keep the flow of money going, whether it's to military purposes or in the form of aid. And that's the disgusting part of military spending, that which we're manipulated into spending by a corrupt leadership who use endless wars to preserve the flows of money. Otherwise it's a very sensible thing to spend on the most potent and fearsome military in the world, especially the naval and air capabilities that no nation should touch let alone surpass.

J. Farmer said...

But they can force us to make choices between freedom and strip searches on planes

If it were up to me, there’d be no TSA, and we’d roll back most of the post-9/11 security regulations. It’s security theatre meant to make people feel safer, not be safer. And one of the reasons people acquiesce to it is because they believe the Islamic terror hype. The 9/11 hijackers were able to exploit people’s ignorance regarding suicide missions. Now it is at the forefront of people’s minds. Subsequent attempts by people to cause mischief on planes (eg show bomber, underwear bomber) were immediately foiled by passengers who pounced.

J. Farmer said...

@daskol:

Imagining that borders can contain their people and that's the answer to troublesome peoples, and the only answer, is about as spergy and unrealistic as you reasonably accuse Reason types of being.

Not giving the 9/11 hijackers visas to come here is unrealistic?

daskol said...

It's a damned good idea, but yes, it is unrealistic: 9th Circuit and other federal districts have a say in the matter, and our benighted leadership will call you racist a lot for suggesting any restrictions on travel let alone immigration from our allies.

daskol said...

And the visas and flight training, the educational exchange aspect, just made it easier.

J. Farmer said...

Supreme Court rules that Trump's travel ban is constitutional

Doesn’t seem that unrealistic to me.

daskol said...

President Trump is unrealistic in itself. Don't let the fact that it happened confuse you.

J. Farmer said...

President Trump is unrealistic in itself. Don't let the fact that it happened confuse you.

I’m afraid I’m not seeing your argument. You said a travel ban is unrealistic and yet we have a travel ban.