Ambivalence on Afghanistan

I know a lot of my fellow Dems are disappointed in President Barack Obama’s decision to send 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan. Not me. For unlike a lot of my fellow Dems, I’ve always held my expectations of Obama in check.

I can’t even remember what Obama promised on the campaign trail, but I never labored under the assumption that he could quickly withdraw us from Iraq and Afghanistan. Personally, I would have preferred to have been told that we were ready to start bringing our troops home, but that clearly is not the conclusion that the White House has come to, and so given no reason yet to question Obama’s motives or intellect, I suppose that’s a decision I’m willing to accept.

I remain convinced that the U.S. had an opportunity to do things right in Afghanistan, and leave that country more prosperous, peaceful and secure than it was before we justifiably invaded, but that opportunity was squandered when President Bush turned our attention to Iraq. I’m not convinced that eight years later, that opportunity still remains.

But I suppose we’ll find out.

Comments

  1. 3

    Spit in the ocean spews:

    The real death panels is the bi-partisan appeal of the Congress , sure we have problems at home , health care , unemployment , but what does that matter .
    We’re borrowing the money anyway . In Iraq the contractor to military census ratio is aproximately 1:1 , So once again , Obama is only telling half of the story . That would mean 60,000 person occupational Army . War without End .

  2. 4

    spews:

    We need to get out NOW.

    We ignored the experience of the French in Viet Nam and look what happened. The Russian are watching us repeating their mistake in Afghanistan and laughing their asses off.

    This is bad, bad, bad, bad, bad policy.

  3. 5

    Spit in the ocean spews:

    Iraq is costing 7.3 billion per month with 124,000 US troops , At the end of this escalation troop strength of US forces in Afghanistan will be aproximately 100,000 troops alone . Presently troop strength of all NATO forces is 104,000 troops . Money to burn . Remember Clinton promised we’d be out of Bosnia in a year .

  4. 6

    spews:

    As armchair quarterbacks with little information, it’s hard for us to know what can be done, to make things better, in Afghanistan.

    I originally had hopes that we’d do things like remove landmines, rebuild irrigation, help Afghanistan become self-sufficient, build schools and hospitals, etc. The whole “hearts and minds” initiative. The idea being they wouldn’t need to grow poppies if they had alternatives. Call me a romantic.

    That we’re now funding our enemies, in my mind, makes the entire argument moot.

    We need to get out now. Then figure out how to help the Afghans diplomatically.

  5. 7

    Michael spews:

    Obama’s doing better than W. and, I think, better then McCain would have done. Looking back at our possible choices for president in ’08 I don’t see anyone that, in hind sight, could be doing better than Obama. So, maybe we should let the man do his job?

    Sean Robinson of the Tacoma News Tribune has a good article in todays paper regarding how Pierce County judges handled Maurice Clemmons’ cases.

    It looks like we might need to update some of our laws around who can get bailed out of jail.

    http://www.thenewstribune.com/.....77126.html

  6. 8

    spews:

    Our failures in Afghanistan and Columbia are very similar.

    The USA’s failed strategy of the Global War on Drugs made both situations much worse.

    In both cases, we’re funding our enemies, so we’re essentially fighting ourselves. Great for war profiteers. Not so great for American interests.

    In both cases, the locals take the brunt of our incompetence. Farmers grow drug precursors (cocoa, poppies) because we’ve made it infeasible for them to grow their own food.

    In both cases, we’re propping up incompetent authoritarian military regimes.

    Thinking about our repeated foreign policy failures is depressing. Team Bush did exactly every wrong, at every step. Repairing the damage is a sticky wicket.

    If Team Obama merely keeps things from getting worse, that’s a major win in my book.

  7. 9

    spews:

    Michael @ 7

    I see everything through the lense of Naomi Klein’s Shock Doctrine thesis. Team McCain would have accelerated the mayhem embraced by Team Bush.

    When Team Bush did nothing (9/11, Hurricane Katrina, Israel vs Palestine), their cronies profitted.

    When Team Bush did anything at all, it was only to make things worse, again their cronies profitted.

    No one, including Team Obama, can dismantle the military-industrial complex overnight. It’ll take a generation of persistent effort to dislodge those parasites.

    Look at how hard it was to clean house after Nixon resigned. All those asshats (Cheney, Rumsfeld, Perle, etc) burrowed deep, slowly accumulated power, and publicly reemerged decades later. We can’t even shame felons like Gordon Liddy and Oliver North into hiding their faces, much less keep them off our public airwaves.

    The only lesson to learn is that the battle is never over.

  8. 10

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @3 You’re assuming Obama will continue the GOP practice of using taxpayer money to pay private mercenaries $150,000 a year to do the same job our $15,000-a-year soldiers do.

    I don’t think that assumption is correct. Obama is neither as stupid nor as corrupt as the Bush Republicans were.

  9. 11

    spews:

    The politics of all this is interesting.

    Clausewitz said war is politics by other means. It’s no different now than it was for Lincoln when many decisions he made was to keep radicals in his own party from getting the upper hand in how the Civil War was carried out.

    Obama would end the whole mess now if he could but he can’t. It would be a political disaster for him. We have an ugly right wing culture in the beltway and throughout this country that would make him pay for it.

    The new deployment keeps the right wing at bay while the deadline breaks with the ugly vision of endless war fantasized by the neo-cons.

    I hope Obama’s team has some other tricks up their sleeve to meet that deadline. There seems to be no good options in Afghanistan or Iraq – period. We got into both places in a hurry, stirred up a wicked hornet’s nest and we have little choice but to grin and bear the stings on the long way out, one bad day after the other.

  10. 12

    nolaguy spews:

    Ambivalence on a decision to escalate a war, but Susan Hutchison’s “faith” gets multiple scathing posts?

  11. 13

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @6 Some random observations:

    The Russians planted so many landmines in Afghanistan you can’t walk out the back door to take a shit without getting a leg blown off. There are more mines than people in that country.

    Afghanistan doesn’t grow anything except poppies and tribal warfare.

    Afghanistan doesn’t need to be made self-sufficient. They’re already self-sufficient. They’ve been self-sufficient for 10,000 years. It’s the foreigners who come in and try to teach them how to run their country who turn out to be not self-sufficient.

    The landmines, tribal wars, and lack of health care aren’t really problems because no Afghan expects to live past age 21 anyway. That’s why military service begins at age 10 in that country. Life has always been cheap there.

    Too bad Russia lost their war against the mujahideen. Everybody would be better off if Afghanistan was a Russian province. Except the Russians; and, of course, we want to screw them.

    Anyone who goes to Afghanistan with thoughts of doing “nation building” there is a damned fool.

  12. 14

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @11 “Clausewitz said war is politics by other means.”

    Clauswitz was wrong. War is what happens when politics fails.

  13. 15

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @11 I’m not as cynical as you. I can’t imagine someone of Obama’s character and moral standing using our troops in such a crass way. (Although I can readily visualize someone of Bush’s character and moral standing doing it.) This deployment is exactly what it appears to be: Obama understands we can’t give Afghanistan back to the Taliban and Al Qaeda. I think his hope that Afghans can keep them out is unduly optimistic, though. The result of that will be the same as the result of “Vietnamization.” It always is. If you want a job done right, you have to do it yourself.

  14. 16

    John spews:

    I can’t even remember what Obama promised on the campaign trail

    You can’t remember? It was the war of necessity that had been under-resourced. I don’t think he left any doubt regarding, if his words were to believed, what his intent was. Moreover, once he took office he began to follow through with the immediate addition of more troops, a strategic review, and a commander handpicked for his counter-insurgency expertise – a strategy that requires more troops. I think he’s making the most of a bad set of circumstances, personally. I’d hate to be in his shoes, since he’s the one who has to make the difficult decisions and take the heat.

    In any event, people should have known where he was heading – because he told us so.

  15. 17

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @12 Suzie Cute’s faith-based approach to things inspires me to start praying whenever I see her coming.

  16. 18

    Blue John spews:

    @16, Yes, as much as I dislike what he plans to do, it’s not a surprise, it’s what he said on the campaign trail.
    It’s like his lack of support for gay marriage. He said he was not for it on the campaign trail and he’s still not when in office.

  17. 20

    spews:

    von Clausewitz also came up with the doctrine of total war.

    Unless one is willing to entirely annihilate one’s enemy, resulting in unconditional surrender, there should be no action taken.

    Pretend a moment that any reasonable person supported attacking Iraq, for whatever reason. Even so, the rational response as to oppose Bush’s PLAN, or lack thereof, because Bush wasn’t prepared to fight to win.

    Bush’s PLAN for invading Iraq was worse than wrong.

    Now that we’re stuck in Iraq, there’s no right answer. Ultimately, we’ll just leave. Like the French did in Algiers. That’s how these things always play out.

  18. 21

    spews:

    15 – Roger I try to see things as they are. The USA is still the largest economic actor in the world with the federal government being a significant player in that. Whoever is in charge gets to steer that ship for the potential betterment of those who put him there.

    Every decision Obama makes is informed by that. He wants to keep playing for eight years. A one term Obama Presidency would be as catastrophic for the country as one term would have been for Lincoln.

    The Bush wars were political wars, ugly policies designed to cement Republican hegemony over this country. People rejected that in 2006 and 2006 but between the Republicans in the Senate and the weak-kneed bluedogs not to mention the beltway which is practically wired for the right wing – the long knives have been out for Obama from the start.

  19. 22

    spews:

    RR @ 13

    Anyone who goes to Afghanistan with thoughts of doing “nation building” there is a damned fool.

    I’m not a nation building kind of guy, I apologize for not being clear on that.

    Once we bagged Osama bin Laden, we should have promptly exited.

    I am, however, in favor of helping those who want our help. Peace Corps and the like. No strings attached.

    Removing land mines and other unexploded ordinance from Afghanistan, Cambodia, Laos, everywhere else would make me pretty darned proud to be an American.

  20. 23

    Less Isbetter spews:

    I’ve reached an unreasoning point with regard to Obama.

    I would prefer to trade his impeachment and imprisonment for war crimes for single payer.

    Then a chat with Biden about you’re next if you don’t pull all the troops out of Afghanistan, Iraq, South Korea, Japan, Germany, and the rest of the damn world.

    The military doesn’t even have a withdrawal plan for Germany or Japan. That war has been over for 64 damned years.

  21. 24

    tpn spews:

    It does not matter if or why you voted for Obama. It matters why the grassroots movement who got him elected are not calling bullshit on his latest chickenshit move. That talking heads from blogs, on over to air america are acting as apologists, is actual complicity in effect.

  22. 25

    spews:

    You always have reason to question Obama’s motives, simply because he is the president of the most powerful nation of the world.

    There is not ‘right’ to be done in Afghanistan. Nothing to accomplish except leave a fat ‘I’m sorry’ note for our gross interventionism.

    Waging war against Afghanistan at this point is akin to showing up at a girls house every night until she forgives you for creeping her the fuck out.

  23. 27

    spews:

    Less @ 23

    I’d like to argue with you, because I’m pretty sure we don’t agree on much, but I can’t figure out what you’re talking about.

    tpn @ 24

    I don’t think you’ve overgeneralized enough. Please, tell us progressives more about our faults. I’m sure you have much to teach us.

    platypus @ 25

    Awesome analogy.

  24. 28

    SJ on Troll Patrol spews:

    Where are the others?

    It seems to me that we are only one of several nations with an intense interests in both Afghanistan and in our getting out of there.

    Russia need peace there if it is to control its southern borders. China’s internal security depends on not offering el Qaeda a route of entry. Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Iran all want to keep el Qaeda from rebuilding.

    Yet ….

    this seems to be writ large as a US war with subscripts for NATO.

    I suspect and trust that Obama and Co. HAVE been making efforts to expand the alliance with an eye to a peaceful ending. Assuming that is true, I had hoped and still hope to see the structure of the war change from a US/NATO effort to an effort with strong support from other powers.

    Where are they? Where are our natural allies? Even in Europe, Germany and France are looking the other way while Americans die in THEIR defense. Japan is talking about downgrading even its token non combatant naval supply ships.

    Obviously Obama can not talk about a grand alliance until one exists, but I hope something of the sort is brewing. I think we need a revision of the Monroe Doctrine. Monroe’s commitment to non entanglement is at best a distant memory, thoroughly trashed by Bush’s Doctrine of cowboy diplomacy. Teddy Roosevelt may be more relevant as long as we understand that the most an American show of strength can do today is convince others that they ought not to poach on our own shores or vital interests elsewhere.

    The era of US a worl cop must come to an end.

  25. 29

    Mr. Cynical spews:

    SJ spews–

    Obviously Obama can not talk about a grand alliance until one exists, but I hope something of the sort is brewing

    You HOPE???
    Obam-Mao is a DREAMER and a SCHEMER.
    A deadly combination of fantasy and backroom dealing motivated by POWER. That’s it SJ.

    Obam-Mao’s speech was truly pathetic.
    Oh, he talked nice…but the substance was ridiculous.
    In one deep breath, Obam-Mao says this is one of the biggest threats to the world…but he is only giving the Generals 3/4 of what they want….and oh, yeah, out by July, 2011.

    If this is one of the biggest threats…why not fight to win, support the Generals who are trained & take politics out of it.
    And if the threat were so grandious,,,why would you put a withdrawal date??

    Then after all the mind-boggling drivel, King Klown reassures us that out RESOLVE IS UNWAVERING! Huh?? Sounds like his toe in the water is anything but resolve…and it is wavering like the Kommie Flag in a Hurricane.

    Obam-Mao is a douchebag.
    Time to face up to the fact.

    My you are a slow learner SJ.
    But you still have HOPE I see!!

  26. 30

    spews:

    Cynical @29, I’ve corrected your spelling (corrections in bold):

    SJ spews–

    Obviously Obama can not talk about a grand alliance until one exists, but I hope something of the sort is brewing

    You HOPE???
    Mr. Cynical is a DREAMER and a SCHEMER.
    A deadly combination of fantasy and backroom dealing motivated by POWER. That’s it SJ.

    Mr. Cynical‘s speech was truly pathetic.
    Oh, he talked nice…but the substance was ridiculous.
    In one deep breath, Mr. Cynical says this is one of the biggest threats to the world…but he is only giving the Generals 3/4 of what they want….and oh, yeah, out by July, 2011.

    If this is one of the biggest threats…why not fight to win, support the Generals who are trained & take politics out of it.
    And if the threat were so grandious,,,why would you put a withdrawal date??

    Then after all the mind-boggling drivel, King Klown (Mr. Cynical) reassures us that out RESOLVE IS UNWAVERING! Huh?? Sounds like his toe in the water is anything but resolve…and it is wavering like the Kommie Flag in a Hurricane.

    Mr. Cynical is a douchebag.
    Time to face up to the fact.

    My you are a slow learner SJ.
    But you still have HOPE I see!!

  27. 31

    Puddybud Remembers Progressives Forget spews:

    I can’t even remember what Obama promised on the campaign trail,

    Why is that Goldy? Moronic Mindless Memory Malady of a HA Leftist?

    Puddy gave this to you before. Butt remember the gold standard of HA Libtardo thought, rujax the dumb cinder block, claims Puddy doesn’t bring much to HA. Puddy knows rujax doesn’t like to see facts. It shreds his femtometer sized mind.

  28. 32

    ArtFart spews:

    @28 Russia ought to have some major skin in this game. Right now they’re struggling with the highest rate of herion addiction in the world, entirely thanks to the return of large-scale poppy cultivation right across one of their borders.

    On the other hand, they know full well that fighting in Afghanistan ain’t exactly a walk in the park.

  29. 33

    Puddybud Remembers Progressives Forget spews:

    N@30,

    Your post makes no sense. Cynical isn’t the president, Mmmm Mmmm Mmmm (Obam-Mao) is!

  30. 34

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @22 “Once we bagged Osama bin Laden, we should have promptly exited.”

    Not necessarily. It wouldn’t be wise to give that country back to the Taliban if al Qaeda could operate without bin Laden. Which almost surely is the case. Bin Laden probably hasn’t been more than a figurehead for the last several years. If he’s still alive.

  31. 35

    John spews:

    @28 this seems to be writ large as a US war with subscripts for NATO.

    And very unwilling ones at that in view of the risks we’re told Afghanistan presents. Currently we have approximately 68,000 troops in Afghanistan, with our NATO allies contributing another 36,000 or so depending on the source (media accounts range from 36,000 up to 46,000). The administration was hoping to get another 10,000 from our allies, but now that’s looking like fewer than 5,000, with many of these coming from central or eastern Europe: it’s virtually certain you’ll see few contributions from France or Germany and other large western European countries where the war is politically unpopular.

    So what will the numbers look like after everyone has added to the pot? Our contribution will be 98,000 troops, or 319 troops per million population, whereas our allies contribution will be 41,000 troops, or a little over 65 troops per million population. In other words, we will be contributing at a rate that is five times that of our NATO allies.

    People should be asking why this country contributes the lion share of blood and treasure against an enemy that supposedly threatens everyone.

  32. 36

    John spews:

    And a follow-up to @35:

    NATO: Allies will provide 5,000 more fresh troops

    “But European military officials acknowledged that the figure of 5,000 extra troops included many forces that are either already in Afghanistan or were previously scheduled to begin arriving in 2010. For instance, 1,500 European soldiers who were sent to Afghanistan for last summer’s national election campaign are now being counted on to remain indefinitely.”

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/.....id=topnews

  33. 37

    Puddybud Remembers Progressives Forget spews:

    When Team Bush did nothing (9/11, Hurricane Katrina, Israel vs Palestine), their cronies profitted.

    Wow how quickly the revisionist history is occurring Jason. Great Cheer-leading.

  34. 38

    Puddybud Remembers Progressives Forget spews:

    Watching news stories of the troops watching live from “the enemy camp, a strange venue” (Chris Matthews words) it’s Mmmm Mmmm Mmmm from West Point. They were watching Fox News in Afgthanistan. They know who which network supports the troops!

  35. 39

    Puddybud Remembers Progressives Forget spews:

    Golly Jason,

    Puddy remembers Jesse and Al complaining over the lack of response of FEMA and President Clinton to 1999 Hurricane Floyd in the Carolinas. Butt Puddy knows you possess Moronic Mindless Memory Malady of a HA Leftist!

  36. 41

    Puddybud Remembers Progressives Forget spews:

    headless the racist@40:

    Another fool with Moronic Mindless Memory Malady. The only “APE” here is you! Another using simian commentary. You, ylb arschloch, rujax, etc., (search chimps and monkees use on HA) the lowest lifeforms of HA Libtardos.

    This definition has been provided many times. Ask ylb arschloch for the definition fool! He has all the PuddyMissives headless.

  37. 42

    Steve spews:

    “Another using simian commentary.”

    So now someone saying that somebody is “aping” another is now “simian commentary”? WTF? You going all PC on us, Puddy?

  38. 43

    Puddybud Remembers Progressives Forget spews:

    Steve, Steve, Steve what is Puddy gonna do with you? Do you actually remember anything from headless’ commentary over the years?

    While you think it’s “To mimic slavishly but often with an absurd result” Puddy don’t accept anything like that from headless.

    Puddy’s use of Mmmm Mmmm Mmmm is well known Steve or are you going to say you don’t remember it either?

  39. 44

    spews:

    Mr. Cynical

    Still curious:

    In your libertarian utopia, who pays for the administration of elections and the courts?

    I defend my statements (with data and logic).

    Your turn.

  40. 45

    spews:

    Golly Puddy @ 39

    There you go again, using false equivalence and lies of omission.

    Hurricane Floyd killed 35 people. Team Clinton’s response was to improve FEMA.

    Hurricane Katrina killed nearly 2,000. Team Bush’s response was to send in Blackwater mercenaries to shoot survivors on sight.

    And you think the events comparable.

    While you’re busy “remembering”, you may want to take a little time out to learn how to use google. You’d discover that Jesse Jackson had some things to say about Katrina too.

    I’m sorry to say, but at this rate, I don’t think you’ll ever be able to claim my free beer offer.

    Such a shame.

  41. 46

    lebowski spews:

    LMFAO @ “shoot survivors on sight”….please tell me you dont actually believe that kind of crap

  42. 47

    Puddybud Remembers Progressives Forget spews:

    False Equivalence Jason? You can’t even get your facts right. Let Puddy help you!

    Hurricane Katrina killed nearly 2,000.

    And the Army Corps of Engineers was found responsible for the levees breaking. Butt don’t let facts explode a worthless argument.

    Team Bush’s response was to send in Blackwater mercenaries to shoot survivors on sight.

    And where did you get this? From kook-aid sites. The same sites that said people were dropping dead in shelters. The same shelters that Governor Kathleen Blanco would not allow the Red Cross or Salvation Army to deliver food and water. Jason this was all covered in years gone by with the 400+ buses Ray Mo Money Nagin never allowed to be used for evacuation.

    Revisionist history runs deep in this fool! Too bad you don’t pay for carbonated beverages every time you enter into revisionist history mode!

  43. 48

    spews:

    Golly Puddy @ 47

    You cite Linda Prussen-Razzano? Seriously? Michelle Malkin not crazy enough for you?

    Does your side have some secret search engine for finding the crazies?

    You doubt Blackwater was deployed to New Orleans and shot survivors? Try googling blackwater + hurricane + katrina. Dozens of sources for you to discredit.

    It’s almost as if you’re willfully ignorant.

    The more you talk, the further away that beer gets.

    Such a shame.

  44. 49

    spews:

    Followup…

    With Puddy under representing the death toll as a direct result of Hurricane Katrina, it piqued my curiousity.

    The wikipedia’s entry states 1,836 people died. Wikipedia is typically conservative, relying on confirmed sources, so I rounded up the number to 2,000.

    Buzzle’s Facts and Information also states a total of 1,836, with 1577 from Louisiana and 238 from Mississippi. Though Louisiana’s Dept of Health states 1,484 as of Aug 2, 2006.

    I guess it depends how you count and who has the most recent data.

    What troubles me is twofold.

    #1 – With minimal effort, anybody, including Puddy, could have found this information for themselves.

    #2 – Puddy labored to find a source that minimizes the horror. Solely in an attempt to discredit what Puddy considers a political rival.

    What kind of person would deny a horror like this? It’s akin to denying the Holocaust. To score cheap points.

    Arguing is one thing. This is something entirely different. To win at any cost, to lie with impunity, to treat the deaths of these victims as a cheap throwaway line…

    Well, honestly, it makes me sick.

    I’m done with Puddy.

    Further, I seriously question Goldy’s decision to continue to provide him (and others) a forum to spew their hate speech. It cheapens discourse. It distracts from serious issues. It’s unnecessary. It’s distasteful.

    We already know these haters are crazy. I don’t know what purpose is served by giving them a soapbox, at no cost to themselves.

  45. 50

    daniel spews:

    @45 Hurricane Katrina killed nearly 2,000. Team Bush’s response was to send in Blackwater mercenaries to shoot survivors on sight.

    Where in the world do you come up with this??????

  46. 51

    spews:

    The ignorant ignoramus known as MISTER PuddyBuddy (aka colsandersfavoritechicken) is really working overtime to prove himself the most ignorant of ignorant ignoramus’…good job buddy, it’s great to be the best at something!

  47. 52

    Mr. Cynical spews:

    51. Rujax! spews:

    The ignorant ignoramus known as MISTER PuddyBuddy (aka colsandersfavoritechicken) is really working overtime to prove himself the most ignorant of ignorant ignoramus’…good job buddy, it’s great to be the best at something!

    Hey Puddy, Rujax is doing the very best he can.
    Pathetically, this is it.
    He never ever posts anything of substance.
    Just attacks you and releases his racist buildup.
    I guess Rujax cannot stand a Black Man who rejects the WhiteGuys meaningless handouts and decides to make it big on his own. That’s really what Rujax is all about.
    How dare a Black Man reject Atheist Progressivism!!

  48. 54

    spews:

    Mr. Cynical

    Hey. Since you have time to stir the pot, I’m hoping you also have the time to finally defend one of your more outlandish statements.

    In your libertarian utopia, who pays for the administration of elections and the courts?

    You’re continued inability to respond strongly suggests you’re just making shit up as you go, damn the consequences.