America’s Afghanistan Quagmire: Nobody is Winning

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afghan pic.jpgNation editor Katrina vanden Heuvel published last week in the Washington Post a no nonsense assessment of America’s situation in Afghanistan.
Read the entire oped, but the zingers are that General Stanley McChrystal has acknowledged that there is a stalemate in Afghanistan now. This means that after an increase of nearly 16,000 troops of the Obama-pledged 30,000, the U.S. is not seeing a shift in its fortunes.
Marja is a mess, and Kandahar lurks out there as a potentially very messy unknown.
Vanden Heuvel writes:

There is a sense of Taliban momentum — even Gen. Stanley McChrystal recently declared, “Nobody is winning,” and military officials are now minimizing expectations for the upcoming Kandahar offensive. The highly touted operation in Marja that began three months ago has failed to dislodge the Taliban.
The continued occupation of a fiercely independent and tribal Afghanistan — as well as the death of tens of thousands of civilians — engenders anti-Americanism and fuels terrorist recruitment. Military operations have also pushed violent jihadists across the border and further destabilized a nuclear-armed Pakistan — a far greater threat to our national security than any tenuous al-Qaeda “safe haven” in Afghanistan.
Finally, focusing so many resources on Afghanistan — where al-Qaeda is now minimally present — diverts vital resources from other urgent security needs, including economic recovery at home. For the first time, the monthly cost of the war in Afghanistan exceeds what we spend in Iraq — $6.7 billion per month, compared with $5.5 billion in Iraq.
At the end of May, appropriations for both wars will reach over $1 trillion — mostly borrowed money that we’re not investing at home. Upcoming congressional hearings on veterans care will demonstrate the human costs. No wonder a majority of Americans — 52 percent — believe the war “is not worth its costs,” according to a recent Washington Post poll.

The real GDP of Afghanistan is just about $14 billion.
And at current levels, the United States is spending nearly half the entire GDP of the nation in just 30 days — that’s right, half Afghanistan’s entire GDP!
This simply makes no sense. This is a huge misallocation of resources even if one believed that Afghanistan did represent a vital national security problem for the US. If one wanted to change the economic vector of the country, preferential trade and access to European, American, and Japanese markets would be one way to change the country’s course — though there would be politically consequential disruptions to firms and labor in the US that should receive impact support.
The costs would be trivial compared to what the Pentagon is demanding for a job that it is not designed for and in which it is not succeeding.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

81 comments on “America’s Afghanistan Quagmire: Nobody is Winning

  1. Moe says:

    Vietnam. That is all.

    Reply

  2. Don Bacon says:

    The idea that war spending is an “investment” is fallacious.
    Think, for example, of Senator Diane Feinstein’s $16m mansion in San Francisco, which you can see here — http://tinyurl.com/ycaxzsy — bought with profits from her hubbies’ construction contracts in Afghanistan.

    Reply

  3. Sue Jones says:

    We have spent over $10,000 dollars per Afghani on the conflict
    there. I think that was a pretty big investment. That is
    probably enough. If we can’t make them like us with $10,000
    per person, it is time to stop.
    Of course we have spent $30,000 per Iraqi on the conflict
    there. They should really love us! If not, time to leave. Of
    course the conflict Bush started has killed around one out of
    every 30 Iraqis. Maybe half that. Still, the US was traumatized
    when we lost one out of 2000 New Yorkers in 9/11. How do
    you think Iraqi’s feel about losing 1 out of 30? Should we plan
    on staying until they become our friends? How long do you
    figure that will take… Vietnam is friendly to us now, so is 30
    years a good time?
    The cost of these conflicts will probably reach $3 trillion
    whether we like it or not. That is $9000 per American, which
    the govt borrowed and you pay interest on for the rest of your
    life. That seems like enough to me. Time to stop the bleeding.
    American’s die when they waste $9000 on a war which they
    needed to spend on their own needs.

    Reply

  4. Don Bacon says:

    And don’t forget 9/11, a godsend that lives on in the new NSS, almost nine years later.
    “The dark side of this globalized world came to the forefront for the American people on September
    11, 2001. The immediate threat demonstrated by the deadliest attacks ever launched upon American
    soil demanded strong and durable approaches to defend our homeland.
    “In the years since, we have launched a war against al-Qa

    Reply

  5. JohnH says:

    There is no draft, there was a Social Security surplus and gobs of money from China and Saudi Arabia. What warmonger could pass up such a golden opportunity?

    Reply

  6. Linda says:

    There probably is only one reason why we are still in Afghanistan (for longer than Vietnam), i.e., there is no draft. Worse than not being able to pay the financial cost, most Americans don’t want to be the ones at risk by actually fighting in it. That’s the sad bottom line IMO.

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  7. chumanist says:

    With the so called emerging US posture to strike inside the Pakistan based-Fata belt(a move beyond rationalistic pragmatism), a perception is being created in the international media that US intends to shift its Afghan war’s failure syndrome to Pakistan, thereby cosmetically/unrealistically trying to satisfy the American public that American administration now intends to annoy Pakistan in order to move forward to continue the US strategic war on terror doctrine.

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  8. PrahaPartizan says:

    Afghanistan’s annual GDP is $14 billion. It’s population is about 28 million. That means its per capita GDP is $500 per year. We could triple or quadruple the per capita GDP of the entire population and build infrastructure in the country for a tenth of what it’s costing us to lose the damned war. Why hasn’t McChrystal requested pallets of money to distribute throughout the country already. He and his other commanding officers did it with abandon in Iraq, with no accountability either. At least in this instance we might have a chance of changing the minds of the local population that we do want to see them have a better life.

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  9. Don Bacon says:

    It was almost 62 years ago, in 1948, that the democratic nations of the west worked hard to send essential supplies to civilians in a city– West Berlin– that had been blockaded by an authoritarian power. That worked. This didn’t.
    We know there will be no response from Washington, but we can certainly expect a response from Ankara.

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  10. JohnH says:

    I expect the US government to stand silently by as the Freedom Flotilla’s humanitarian operations get butchered.
    After all, the US did absolutely nothing, even covered up the Israeli attack on the USS Liberty, and attack that left 34 men slaughtered, at least 171 wounded, and an essentially unarmed spy ship dead in the (international) water.
    http://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2009/08/the-uss-liberty-incident-truly-a-national-disgrace-.html
    For Israel, this is merely another in a series of PR disasters that it expects to weather with its Uncle Sami covering its backside, no matter how despicable their behavior.

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  11. Don Bacon says:

    The live feed from the Turkish ship IHH Insani Yardim Vakfi is done. We saw IDF ships approaching the ship, armed IDF men on the ship, men in orange life jackets being herded and carried (injured?) down passageways on the ship, some guy in a white shirt with a microphone, and people storming a compound somewhere.
    It’s apparently over.

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  12. Don Bacon says:

    PressTV:
    Israeli forces have attacked the international aid convoy Freedom Flotilla en route to the besieged Gaza Strip, killing at least two people and leaving more than 50 injured.
    The attack came on Monday morning after Israel deployed warships and threatened to stop the flotilla from reaching Gaza.
    Israeli navy forces and helicopters have taken over the ships in the humanitarian aid convoy and are using force against those on board, a Press TV correspondent reported.

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  13. Don Bacon says:

    “Two dead, at least 30 wounded” as Israel opens fire at Gaza activists
    Israel opened fire at a Turkish aid ship sailing for the Gaza Strip, Turkish TVs reported early Monday.

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  14. Don Bacon says:

    According to Uri Avnery, Israel is currently controlled by anti-semites.
    “The Foreign Minister, for example. Who but a diabolic anti-Semite could have appointed Avigdor Lieberman, of all people, to this post? The job of a foreign minister is to make friends and convince world opinion that we are right. Lieberman is working hard and skillfully to get Israel hated by one and all.
    “Or the Minister of the Interior. He works from morning to night to shock human rights defenders and supply ammunition to the worst enemies of Israel. Recently, he prevented two babies from entering Israel because their father is gay. He prevents women from joining their husbands in Israel. He deports children of foreign workers, who are building the state.
    “Or the Chief of Staff. He persuaded the government to boycott the UN commission for the investigation of the

    Reply

  15. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Thank, you, Birnbaum. If the Orthodox Jews are representative of what you hold up as examples of semitic goodness, then yep, count me in, I’m a raging anti-semite.
    But then, I’m not too fond of ANY religious wackjob that spits on women or beats up on school children.
    I’m not real fond of jackasses such as yourself either, or these bigoted wretches like Wiggie or Nadine. So hey, if you folks are the shining examples of the modern Jew, don’t just count me in, you can count in anyone that has even a modicum of compassion and concern for human rights.
    If you have a problem with anti-semitism, perhaps you should stop justifying being a jackass by underscoring the fact that you’re a Jew.
    Either that, or just adopt Nadine and Marcus’s attitude, and openly nurture anti-semitism by wearing your bigotry and delusions of racial superiority like badges of honor. Either way, its no skin off my ass.

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  16. larry birnbaum says:

    “The Orthodox Jews, if allowed to…”: That’s quite a spew of anti-Semitic hate, even from this source.

    Reply

  17. PissedOffAmerican says:

    The Orthodox Jews, if allowed to, would have all the women in Israel abed, strapped and spread in stirrups, covered from the waist up, and muzzled. Screwing and giving birth. The vagina and the womb being their only redeeming features. Not good for much else. But thats a big never mind in Wiggie’s world.
    Did you notice Wiggie’s silence when this jenny bigot Nadine excused the IDF soldiers for gangbanging a fourteen year old child because the “sex was consensual”? Another ho-hum never mind in Wiggie’s twisted “concern” for women.
    Well, bringing up what these racist sacks of shit in Israel are doing to the health and welfare of the women in Gaza won’t have much effect on Wiggie’s perverted world view, obviously.
    One wonders why in God’s name Wiggie buys books, as she claims. Its obvious her ideologies and advocations are not based on facts, ethics, or morality, so why read anything that goes against her grain? The age old mental and moral paralysis of bigotry and hatred certainly cannot exist on knowledge or learning, as such inconveniences must by neccesity be cast aside in favor of prejudice.
    Some of us here, who have followed and conmmented here for years, can recall when Wiggie was misrepresenting herself, (lying), as a left leaning Jew. It has been hilarious seeing Nadine pull off Wiggie’s mask and incite her into revealing herself as just another RW zionist ghoul, motivated by bigotry and the worst kind of human ignorance; that of blind hypocricy and religious/racial piety, (the belief that God has provided the sanction for despicable acts of inhumanity).

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  18. Don Bacon says:

    According to NOW, three women are murdered every day in the US by an intimate partner. Also 232,960 women in the U.S. were raped or sexually assaulted in 2006. That’s more than 600 women every day.
    And the US should be spending billions killing people in far-off Afghanistan to promote women’s liberation? That’s weird. WigWagian, even.

    Reply

  19. JohnH says:

    I’d be in favor of dropping books, not bombs on Afghanistan.
    But Wigwag never condemns US bombing of women and children in funeral processions and wedding parties. Instead, Wigwag seems to think that brutal occupations, in which women and children suffer the most, are the way to go.
    And, Wigwag, how about having some of the people you are closest to–the ultra-Orthodox–read some of these books as well? Might it improve their deplorable treatment of women? And do you think it would convince them to stop stealing land from Palestinians families, which include women and children?

    Reply

  20. Don Bacon says:

    The meaning is, of course, that if only Ms vanden Heuval would read this book then she would ascribe to the WigWagian notion that all Muslim countries ought to be invaded and occupied, with the conversion of their citizens to good Christians and Jews. A crusade like no other!
    Or is does it simply apply to Afghanistan where the blame for Muslim fundamentalism rests uniquely and entirely with — Jimmy Carter and Zbignew Brzezinski!

    Reply

  21. WigWag says:

    It might do Ms vanden Heuval good if she could find time in her busy schedule to read this book,
    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/30/books/review/Kristof-t.html?pagewanted=2&ref=books
    I understand that it might be difficult; after all, all those TV appearences, appointments with her publicist and editorial board meetings don’t leave much time for hair dresser appointments or Trinity School PTA meetings, let alone time to read about how the other half of the world actually lives.
    Of course, the author of the book review, Nick Kristoff, is probably a friend of the vanden Heuval-Cohens; I wouldn’t be surprised if they were neighbors.
    Maybe vanden Heuval and Kristoff could just “do lunch” and he could save her alot of time by just telling her about Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s new book. Then she write her own book review for the “Nation” pretending that she’s read it.
    There’s little doubt that vanden Heuval won’t like the book much more than Kristoff did; despite their superficial pronouncements, in their heart of hearts, those Upper West Siders don’t really think much of Muslim women who grew up in huts with dirt floors in Somalia.
    After all, those girls didn’t go to Trinity or Princeton.

    Reply

  22. Don Bacon says:

    kotz,
    You are proposing the destruction of towns and villages in Pakistan (a US ally) because you don’t like their politics? Would you use conventional high explosives with shrapnel to rip apart the bodies of men, women and children, or would you prefer to atomize them with nukes? What kind of monster are you, conventional or nuclear?

    Reply

  23. kotzabasis says:

    Don Bacon
    Then I would suggest to you to stick to your talent

    Reply

  24. JohnH says:

    “OK, WigWag, maybe we could start by counting the people you do *not* hate.” Exactly! Wigwag’s posts are typically attacks on vast swaths of people she loathes (Muslims, Turks, etc) or individuals whose credibility she seeks to undermine (Obama, Flynt Leverett, Katrina vanden Heuvel, etc)
    We know that she stands for women’s rights, at least in societies she loathes. But what about women’s rights in Israel?
    “We need to recognize that the ultra-Orthodox obsession with removing women from public spaces is in fact an act of systemic violence that is often accompanied by pointed violence (cursing, spitting, pushing, beating up, throwing acid and stealing babies, to name a few incidences from the past 2

    Reply

  25. Don Bacon says:

    kotz,
    Actually I am musically talented, and so I invite you to read again my above post where I repeated your silly “block this strategically deadly exit-and-entry” comment. Meanwhile I’ll pick a few tunes on my mandolin. I hope you like it.

    Reply

  26. kotzabasis says:

    Don Bacon
    If you were musically talented you would have written an operetta of non sequiturs. If one were to destroy the sanctuaries in Pakistan where Taliban forces concentrate there would be no reason for the latter to cross the border. I never even implied the stupid notion that one could patrol a border 1,910 miles long.

    Reply

  27. Don Bacon says:

    RAWA is the oldest political/social organization of Afghan women struggling for peace, freedom, democracy and women’s rights in fundamentalism-blighted Afghanistan since 1977.
    from their site:
    *Emancipation of Afghan women not attainable as long as the occupation, Taliban and

    Reply

  28. JohnH says:

    Wigwag parrots the propaganda that “as long as we’re there, girls are going to school, libraries are open, women and men can be seen together in the streets, and women can work outside of their homes.”
    And all that “progress” probably exists only in a small sliver of Kabul where the military commissions its television footage. It certainly doesn’t exist in most of the country, and the lives of most have not improved since the arrival of the American occupation. Wars are always the most devastating to women and children. And a decade of constant warfare compounds that damage by orders of magnitude.
    The unstated part of the Powell Doctrine (America broke it, America owns it), is that America does not have a clue as to how to fix it. “All the king’s horses and all the king’s men can’t put humpty together again.” And ten more years of war show no promise of changing that.

    Reply

  29. Don Bacon says:

    WigWag: “We may not know how to solve Afghanistan’s problems, but as long as we’re there, girls are going to school, libraries are open, women and men can be seen together in the streets, and women can work outside of their homes.”
    That’s propaganda. I suppose they have purple fingers too. War is particularly hard on women and children.
    May 27, 2010, Amnesty International: Afghan people continued to suffer widespread human rights violations and violations of international humanitarian law more than seven years after the USA and its allies ousted the Taliban. Access to health care, education and humanitarian aid deteriorated, particularly in the south and south-east of the country, due to escalating armed conflict between Afghan and international forces and the Taliban and other armed groups. Conflict-related violations increased in northern and western Afghanistan, areas previously considered relatively safe.

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  30. WigWag says:

    “What makes you think a bunch of Americans thousands of miles away from home have the slightest idea about how to unscrew Afghanistan, and turn it into the land of enlightened female education? Since Americans seem to have this habit now of breaking countries when we get involved with them, might not the most advisable course just be to get out of these countries altogether and stop making them worse?” (Dan Kervick)
    We may not know how to solve Afghanistan’s problems, but as long as we’re there, girls are going to school, libraries are open, women and men can be seen together in the streets, and women can work outside of their homes.
    If that’s the best we can accomplish I think it

    Reply

  31. Don Bacon says:

    kotz,
    “No Half Measures: How to Win the War in Afghanistan. . .block this strategically deadly exit-and-entry of their enemy from and into the soil of Afghanistan”
    Recent news included a little speed bump, or what the Kiwis call a judder bar, on your prescribed road to victory in Afghanistan, that graveyard of empires.
    KUNAR, Afghanistan (Reuters) – Taliban insurgents overran a remote district in eastern Afghanistan after days of heavy fighting in the area, a provincial police official said on Saturday.
    The battle started earlier this week in the Barg-i-Matal district of mountainous Nuristan province, a remote area bordering Pakistan, when hundreds of Taliban fighters stormed the area administrative headquarters, said Qasim Payman, police chief of the province.
    “The police force in the area has tactically retreated from the district after days of fighting,” he told Reuters, adding there were no signs of reinforcements despite repeated requests. //
    The Durand Line, the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, is poorly marked and approximately 2640 kilometers (1610 miles) long. Let’s see, with a battalion per mile to secure the border, that’s — forget it.
    The US should accept a lesson from the Afghans and retreat — with no half measures.

    Reply

  32. Dan Kervick says:

    Whew! OK, WigWag, maybe we could start by counting the people you do *not* hate. Turks, Jimmy Carter, Muslims in general and upscale Upper West side society gals are out. We get it.
    Again what is your plan for winning Afghanistan? How about a plan that does not include hocking the future of my son, and maybe his son, and maybe his son’s son after that.
    I reject your monocausal view that the United States broke Afghanistan. But so what if it did? What if it can’t be fixed? At least not by us? I broke a weed whacker once, but sure as hell don’t know how to fix one.
    What makes you think a bunch of Americans thousands of miles away from home have the slightest idea about how to unscrew Afghanistan, and turn it into the land of enlightened female education? Since Americans seem to have this habit now of breaking countries when we get involved with them, might not the most advisable course just be to get out of these countries altogether and stop making them worse?

    Reply

  33. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “The following is a segment from a paper that I wrote on blablablablahhhh…….”
    I hope you left enough on the roll to clean yourself up.

    Reply

  34. kotzabasis says:

    The following is a segment from a paper that I wrote on October, 2008, and published on my blog DARING THOUGHTS under the title: “No Half Measures: How to Win the War in Afghanistan.”
    Once the Taliban and al-Qaeda are deprived of their sanctuary in Pakistan and the Americans and their allies block this strategically deadly exit-and-entry of their enemy from and into the soil of Afghanistan that will ease the defeat of the Taliban and their sundry jihadists. And the beheading of the latter will be executed mainly by the Afghans themselves if the American strategists and their allies adopt the following strategy that is to be formulated below.
    To Clausewitz, the master in matters of war the following was axiomatic: That the success of a war depends on the unison of the natural resources of a nation with the existence of its people. It

    Reply

  35. Don Bacon says:

    Fifteen billion dollars (CBO figure) already spent on Afghan security forces for a failing effort.
    Washington Post, Sunday, May 30, 2010
    A U.S. military review in Afghanistan has concluded that the addition of more than 1,000 new U.S. military and NATO troops focused on training has helped stabilize what had been a failing effort to build Afghanistan’s security forces, but that persistent attrition problems could still hinder long-term success.
    “We are finally getting the resources, the people and money,” said Army Lt. Gen. William B. Caldwell IV, who heads the NATO training effort in Afghanistan and oversaw the review of his command’s past 180 days. “We are moving in the right direction.”
    For the first time in years, the Afghan forces are “currently on path” to meet the ambitious growth targets, the assessment states. It isn’t yet clear how well those forces will perform once they are in the field, which is the most important measure of success, Caldwell said.
    “We’re going to start seeing a more professional Afghan force in the field over the next eight to 12 months,” Caldwell said.//
    Two Friedman Units on top of eight years, more than double the length of WWII.

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  36. WigWag says:

    If you can’t figure out the real argument I’m making, Paul, your reading comprehension is in serious need of improvement.

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  37. Paul Norheim says:

    This is one of the most despicable features of the internet
    culture: some anonymous coward calling herself “WigWag” typing
    lengthy ad hominem attacks on public figures as a surrogate for
    real arguments.

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  38. JohnH says:

    IMHO Wigwag is animated by a deep paranoia about Muslims in general and “Islamofascists”. At least that’s what she regularly expresses here. Regarding the former, she needs to get out a bit more and meet a few Muslims, instead of condemning the lot by ignorant stereotyping.
    As to the “Islamofascists,” there were terrorists long before them (Irgun, Irish Republican Army, Afghan freedom fighters) and there will be terrorists long after them. Civilization has always survived terrorism albeit with the occasional, minor scar to show for the experience.
    What civilization cannot survive is the move to militant authoritarianism, because the leaders who espouse those values have massive destructive power and repugnant mechanisms of social control at their fingertips. Terrorists don’t.

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  39. WigWag says:

    Katrina vanden Heuvel perfectly epitomizes the intellectual and moral depths to which the American left has sunk. She’s a self described progressive and feminist but in fact, she’s neither a “progressive” nor a “feminist.” Living on Manhattan

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  40. ... says:

    paul, i agree with your overview on the 3 stooges here with wig as larry of course…not sure which one is curly and which moe though…

    Reply

  41. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Kotz’s belligerence seems
    to be motivated by a central concern of protecting “Civilization””
    Really??? I kinda thought it was due to being raised in the outback by kangaroo parents.
    I think you give him too much credit. I’m not positive, but I think the roo couple that spawned him might have been first cousins. One hopes he’ll look outside the herd if he has plans to reproduce. His genetic pool may be getting dangerously thin.

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  42. Paul Norheim says:

    It’s difficult to assess to which extent WigWag’s Zionist position
    is influenced by neocon ideology, and to which extent by the
    liberal interventionist camp. But her position is certainly far
    from the realist camp: “America destroyed Afghanistan; it’s
    America’s job to fix it. I don’t care if it costs trillions or if it
    takes a hundred years.”
    And although Kotz, Wig, and Nadine frequently salute each
    other as being the biggest geniuses of the comment section
    here, they all seem to see things from a slightly different angle.
    Nadine’s aggressive position seems to be mostly motivated by a
    will to defend Israel and Wall Street. Kotz’s belligerence seems
    to be motivated by a central concern of protecting “Civilization”
    (i.e – the Western system) per se by a total mobilization against
    the Muslim World.
    WigWag’s position seems to be a bit more complicated.
    Domestically, she seems to be more inclined to defend labor
    unions than Wall Street. As for US power, Western civilization
    and related stuff, she seems to be more relaxed than Kotz, and
    also much less paranoid than Nadine with regard to Israel. While
    Nadine’s and Kotz’s aggression is more of a paranoid and
    “protective” nature, WigWag seems more inclined to “transform”
    invaded territory,
    Both as an American and as a Zionist, WigWag seems much
    more in tune with the arrogant imperial sentiment of the
    neocons than the paranoid sentiment expressed by Kotz and
    Nadine. The WigWag mission seems to be much more pro-
    active, more about transforming the world with military means
    than protecting Americans, Western Civilization, or Israel with
    those means.
    To simplify a bit, for the sake of clarity: Kotz and Nadine want
    to attack to defend, while WigWag wants to attack to transform
    the world in accordance with the militant, modernist, secular
    fundamentalist version of Enlightenment that has developed in
    America, but perhaps especially in Europe during recent years.
    This cartoon-version of Enlightenment serves all of them well,
    though. And they all have very good reasons for being allergic
    against the realist position of people like Steve Clemons: If
    those in power had implemented the many belligerent
    geopolitical recommendations of WigWag, Kotzabasis, and
    Nadine, America would certainly be bankrupt and hated by
    everyone within months – involved in a dozen more wars and
    conflicts around the world, creating mayhem everywhere.

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  43. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Oh, its truly comical seeing Wiggie lament the situation in Afghanistan concerning women, while ignoring whats happened to women’s rights in Iraq thanks to the monkey Bush and his satanic handler, Dick Cheney.
    And never mind the lot of Palestinian women in Gaza, who are apparently unworthy of concern due to their ethnic, religious, and racial inferiority to members of the Master Race, of which the bigot Wig-wag is a card carrying member.

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  44. DonS says:

    “America destroyed Afghanistan; it’s America’s job to fix it. I don’t care if it costs trillions or if it takes a hundred years. Even if the United States can’t solve Afghanistan’s problems, American soldiers can serve as a constabulary force protecting Afghan women from the Taliban monsters, at least in the cities.” (wig wag)
    This reminds me of the slight ‘joke’ my coworker and I used to have when I worked in the federal transit agency in the early 70’s:
    Considering the uphill battle it was to convince anyone of the importance of transit, and the existing urban infrastructures, it would be cheaper to give everyone a subsidy to buy a VW bug.
    Wig wag is no doubt being her hyperbolic self.

    Reply

  45. ... says:

    don bacon – coincidentally carter also mentioned that israel is an apartheid state… nothing he ever did will be worthy of zionists approval, as they will be too busy dredging up whatever dirt they can find to continually throw it his way…if you dig far enough back it can get you to the 80’s when the usa sided with the taliban, instead of russia.. oh well, no matter what one does sometimes, it just can measure up to the zionists approval..

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  46. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Well. Its now official. “Top Kill” has not worked. Gee, its sure a good thing that BP had “plans” in place to deal with the “spill”, eh? Same exact “plans” they had for the spill in 1979 that didn’t work, in 200 ft of water. Gee, who coulda predicted they wouldn’t work in a mile of depth?
    But have no fear, Obama is on the job between fundraisers and meetings with sports teams. He will go back to the gulf as soon as the BP choreographers can rehearse a fresh cast of clean-up workers.
    Meanwhile, we have the following statement from the BP management currently supervising operations on board the rig Atlantis……
    “Tick tock, tick, tock…..”

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  47. Mr.Murder says:

    The 1,000th casualty in Afghanistan for the Armed Forces was on their second tour of duty.(AP)

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  48. Don Bacon says:

    Silly me, I nearly believed WigWag when she said that Muslims were an international problem, but now we’re told that “Anyone who thinks it

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  49. Don Bacon says:

    Well golly gee, it’s quoting Colin Powell time at the old TWN watering hole.
    “What is the greatest threat facing us now? People will say it

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  50. DonS says:

    It would be more credible, Wig Wag, if you acceded to the sense of the article, rather than either attacking the author or making a lame case for the unconscionable waste of US tax dollars. Not that women’s rights aren’t important in Afghanistan, or anywhere, but to hang your hat on that rationale (as Dan points out) is mighty weak tea.
    The Afghan war is obscene; why try to defend it? Nadine has lost all credibility to comment on anything on this board because of her totally transparent agenda to subjugate all argument to some subset of the neocon/likud right. You, on the other hand, make quite valid arguments frequently, if a bit condescendingly phrased. So why lower yourself to Nadine’s level of knee jerk reflexivity, if Steve posts it, and a bunch of commenters agree, well Wig wag finds a contrarian hook.
    The big picture of Afghanistan, to me, looks obscene, in once again conning the American public into a “with us or with the terrorists”, corner, no matter now fabricated and backward the inference is. Not even a close call. Pure CYA politics and corporate pocket lining.

    Reply

  51. DonS says:

    It would be more credible, Wig Wag, if you acceded to the sense of the article, rather than either attacking the author or making a lame case for the unconscionable waste of US tax dollars. Not that women’s rights aren’t important in Afghanistan, or anywhere, but to hang your hat on that rationale (as Dan points out) is mighty weak tea.
    The Afghan war is obscene; why try to defend it? Nadine has lost all credibility to comment on anything on this board because of her totally transparent agenda to subjugate all argument to some subset of the neocon/likud right. You, on the other hand, make quite valid arguments frequently, if a bit condescendingly phrased. So why lower yourself to Nadine’s level of knee jerk reflexivity, if Steve posts it, and a bunch of commenters agree, well Wig wag finds a contrarian hook.
    The big picture of Afghanistan, to me, looks obscene, in once again conning the American public into a “with us or with the terrorists”, corner, no matter now fabricated and backward the inference is. Not even a close call. Pure CYA politics and corporate pocket lining.

    Reply

  52. WigWag says:

    “Your response is a complete non-sequitor WigWag. It’s like saying, “I’ll take vanden Heuvel’s call to cancel the Mars mission seriously when she volunteers to go live in its lifeless, sterile environment.” The fact that conditions in some other part of the world are not as we would like them is not in itself an argument for conducting a hugely expensive military mission there of indefinite duration.” (Dan Kervick)
    Sorry, Dan, when it comes to Afghanistan, to paraphrase Colin Powell, we broke it; now we own it.
    It’s not that conditions “in some other part of the world are not as we would like them” it’s that the problems in Afghanistan, especially the problems of Afghan women, were caused by the United States. Jimmy Carter and Zbignew Brzezinski gave birth to the Taliban by supporting the Afghan Mujahideen. The entire time the Soviets were in Afghanistan and for decades before, women participated fully in Afghan life, at least in the cities. Afghans could read what they liked; listen to Western music, go to museums, attend University and borrow books from the library. Men and woman could stroll together in public if that’s what they chose to do.
    Women could work outside the home; they could hold government jobs; they could travel unaccompanied by male relatives and girls could go to school and learn to read.
    We know what will happen if the Taliban returns to power because we’ve already seen what happened when the Taliban was in power the first time. The fact that vandan Heuval considers herself a progressive or a feminist is a joke. Progressive people don’t acquiesce to banning young girls from school and feminists don’t shrug their shoulders at the prospect of women being locked in the cages of their home; vandan Heuval is prepared to do both. Of course that makes her perfectly emblematic of todays dumbed down version of progressives. As I said on a previous post some weeks back, vandan Heuval is little more than a brunette version of Ann Coulter.
    America destroyed Afghanistan; it’s America’s job to fix it. I don’t care if it costs trillions or if it takes a hundred years. Even if the United States can’t solve Afghanistan’s problems, American soldiers can serve as a constabulary force protecting Afghan women from the Taliban monsters, at least in the cities.
    Anyone who thinks it

    Reply

  53. JohnH says:

    Larry Birnbaum seems to think the point is to create enemies. Many inside the foreign policy/security mob seem to share that world view. For them it’s called job security and a guaranteed revenue stream.
    For many “religious” nationals inside the Israeli security establishment, it seems to be nothing more than great sport to go out and kill 1000 Gentile women and children every few years.
    Other than the need to create enemies, what is the point of Iraq, Afghanistan, and confrontation with Iran? Iraq’s WMDs? Afghanistan’s 100 Al Qaeda? Iran’s non-existent nuke program?
    I’ve been asking that question here for years and years, but Washington never seems capable of providing a plausible answer than that can withstand cursory scrutiny.

    Reply

  54. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Oh Don. Silly. Don’t you know that the good Mr. Birnbaum would never advocate military action in anything other than a “defensive” posture? Defensively and militarily eradicating peaceful protesters, elderly farmers, and rock throwing children cannot possibly be expected to warrant or invite retaliation. Nor can drone aircraft attacks on heathen civilian populations.
    Besides, don’t these backwards heathens know any better than to challenge their racial superiors?

    Reply

  55. Don Bacon says:

    larry birnbaum: “The second is the standard leftist and in my view pseudo-liberal line that military action is pointless because it creates more enemies than it subdues, which the Nation probably pronounces reflexively about every single application of US military force, and is stated here without any argument.”
    Some people seem to have a hard time understanding that when some of your relatives are killed by an invading military force, and some are kidnapped and imprisoned and tortured, and others are forced to live out in the desert, many of them women with children, and others are wantonly killed at highway checkpoints and by drone-fired Hellfire explosive missiles — these people seem to have a hard time understanding that people so affected actually get upset enough to do something about it. They actually want to employ violence against the military force and against the country that sent them! Imagine that!
    I guess these people that are so traumatically affected should just forgive and forget, according to some. That such forgiving and forgetting would be considered irrational by most sane people doesn’t seem relative.
    And to cap it off, any reference to this sort of normal behavior, this rational retributive behavior, is then referred to by non-thinkers like larry birnbaum as a “standard leftist and in my view pseudo-liberal line”!
    I guess people like larry birnbaum would simply hide under the bed if an invading military force wreaked havoc on their families. Pity their families.

    Reply

  56. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Why Isn’t BP Under Criminal Investigation?
    by Jason Leopold
    Why hasn’t the government launched a criminal investigation into BP?
    That’s the question several former Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) officials have been asking in the aftermath of the catastrophic explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig last month that killed 11 employees and ruptured a newly drilled well 5,000 feet below the surface and has spewed tens of millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf if Mexico, which now stands as the largest spill in US history.
    Like previous BP-related disasters in Alaska and Texas, evidence has emerged that appears to show BP knowingly cut corners on maintenance and safety on Deepwater Horizon’s operations, which, according to blogger bmaz, who writes about legal issues at Emptywheel, could amount to criminal violations of the Clean Water Act. Additionally, because people were killed, BP and company officials could also face prosecution for negligent and reckless homicide.
    Scott West, the former special agent-in-charge at the EPA’s Criminal Investigation Division, who spent more than a year probing allegations that BP committed crimes in connection with a massive oil spill on Alaska’s North Slope in 2006, said the company’s prior felony and misdemeanor convictions should have immediately “raised red flags” and resulted in a federal criminal investigation.
    “If the company behind this disaster was Texaco or Chevron I would have likely waited a couple of days before I started to talking to people,” West said. “And the reason for that is those corporations do not enjoy the current criminal history that BP does.”
    West, who Truthout profiled in an investigative report last week about the Bush administration’s apparent scuttling of West’s criminal probe into BP in 2007, was harshly critical of the way the disaster has been handled by the government. He said in an interview that BP and the oil conglomerate’s executives are “known as liars” and the fact that the government has treated “and continues” to treat the company with kid gloves is “outrageous.”
    “BP is a convicted serial environmental criminal,” West said. “So, where are the criminal investigators? The well head is a crime scene and yet the potential criminals are in charge of that crime scene. Have we learned nothing from this company’s past behavior?”
    Continues…..
    http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=19415

    Reply

  57. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “How many Afghan schoolgirls have you adopted so that you can educate them?”
    Now theres a scary thought. Imagine, a whole army of little girls thinking the key to winning an argument is by making insinuations about your opponent’s penis size.

    Reply

  58. Dan Kervick says:

    “It’s easy to run your mouth about Afghanistan when you live on the Upper West Side within walking distance to Lincoln Center.”
    Yeah. Or in Florida.
    Your response is a complete non-sequitor WigWag. It’s like saying, “I’ll take vanden Heuvel’s call to cancel the Mars mission seriously when she volunteers to go live in its lifeless, sterile environment.” The fact that conditions in some other part of the world are not as we would like them is not in itself an argument for conducting a hugely expensive military mission there of indefinite duration.
    Some parts of the world still have cannibals. Should we invade those places as well?
    The fact is that I don’t believe that either you or Nadine have every offered any concrete operational suggestions about how precisely the United States is to succeed in the radical project you continue to support for the military subjugation and social transformation of the remote and inhospitable country of Afghanistan. Where are your ideas? Let’s see them. Because, otherwise, it looks to me like you are just blowing indignation out of your ass without any clue as to whether your goals are even achievable, or how they could be achieved.
    How many trips have you made to Afghanistan? How many Afghan schoolgirls have you adopted so that you can educate them?
    Sorry to get personal. But I think it is telling that you and Larry immediately jumped into ad hominem argument, switching the subject to Katrina vanden Heuvel and the Nation, and away from the argument vanden Heuvel was making.
    The fact is, whether vanden Heuvel’s argument is cogent or not has nothing to do with whether it is put forward by Katrina vanden Heuvel, Cruella Deville of Tokyo Rose.

    Reply

  59. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Obama’s appointment of an Attorney General that is little more than a yes-man to the President, (ala Bush/Gonzales), should have told us all we need to know about this piece of shit. “Change” was just a buzzword to his campaign platform, which consisted of an endless litany of insincere promises and pure unmittigated horseshit.
    With former EPA officials screaming for a criminal investigation of key BP management, citing prior BP indictments and convictions, this pathetic AG Holder seems to be content to hide under whatever rock he can find while this calamity unfolds. After all, the sack of shit is obviously willing to ignore the KNOWN crimes committed by Bush lackeys and compatriots, so why should we expect him to pursue crimes committed by MMS agents or BP management???
    Its fairly obvious that this fucking spineless maggot Obama has no intention of holding BP, Hayward, MMS, or Transocean accountable to anything other than their bottom line, so it seems quite assinine to assume he will manage any other issues or affairs competently or with any integrity. To any reasonably sentient human, the danger we face by narcissists such as he, waging war on fellow humans, with a finger inches away from the nuclear trigger, should be quite obvious. This asshole Obama holds unlimited power, while demonstrating daily that his strength of character is terribly inadequate to his position. The United States can ill afford this procession of megalomanics, elitists, and incompetents marching through the White House in embarrassing succession. I doubt we will survive such a parade of buffoons for much longer.

    Reply

  60. Don Bacon says:

    POA’s mention of “Shock Doctrine” and “Disaster Capitalism” in relation to the Gulf is also apropos to the current US policy of all war, all the time.
    The “shock” of continued instability and uncertainty, whether it be the quagmire (literally) in the Gulf or the quagmire in Afghanistan, is necessary to the profit-seeking corporations who depend upon government for profits in preference to actually having to compete for profits in the marketplace. The revolving-door movement of people from government to corporations completes the picture.
    So quagmires are welcome to the politicians, government employees and their corporate friends. Ongoing instability and uncertainty, that’s the ticket, which is why we still have I/P, why the US recently spurned a North Korean offer to end the Korean War, why Iran has been made an enemy, why the US occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan (a “necessary” war) will endure forever and why George W. Bush told a former Argentina president that “the best way to revitalize the economy is war.”(as reported by Think Progress)
    “War is a racket . . .the only one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.” — MajGen Smedley Butler, USMC

    Reply

  61. ... says:

    thanks poa… bp is in charge of avoiding.. that is what they are doing….
    “It’s like BP broke it, so now they own the entire Gulf Coast.” great quote by klein with serious reverberations…

    Reply

  62. PissedOffAmerican says:

    http://www.naomiklein.org/articles/2010/05/bp-and-us-government-command-center-guarded-company-afghan-embassy-hazing-scandal
    BP and US Government ‘Command Center’ Guarded by Company From Afghan Embassy Hazing Scandal
    By Jeremy Scahill – May 28th, 2010
    I just got off the phone with my friends Naomi Klein, author of “The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism,” and her husband Avi Lewis, host of al Jazeera English’s popular program Fault Lines. They are traveling around the devastated US Gulf reporting on the horrific disaster caused by BP’s massive oil spill. They described to me a run in that they just had with the private security company Wackenhut, which apparently has been hired to do the perimeter security for the “Deepwater Horizon Unified Command.” The “Unified Command” is run jointly by BP and several US government agencies including the US Coast Guard, the Department of Defense, the Department of State and the Department of Homeland Security.
    Wackenhut, of course, is the notorious private security company that operates in the US and around the globe. It recently became part of the huge British mercenary network G4S. Most recently, Wackenhut gained global infamy for the conduct of guards from its subsidiary Armor Group after it was revealed by whistleblowers that the company created a “Lord of the Flies environment” at the embassy “in which guards and supervisors are ‘peeing on people, eating potato chips out of [buttock] cracks, vodka shots out of [buttock] cracks… [drunken] brawls, threats and intimidation from those leaders participating in this activity.” According to the Project on Government Oversight, “Multiple guards say this deviant hazing has created a climate of fear and coercion, with those who declined to participate often ridiculed, humiliated, demoted, or even fired. The result is an environment that is dangerous and volatile. Some guards have reported barricading themselves in their rooms for fear that those carrying out the hazing will harm them physically.”
    In other words, Wackenhut is the perfect choice to “guard” the joint BP-US government-US military operation in the Gulf.
    Lewis told me that for two weeks his crew has attempted to interview officials from the Unified Command’s Joint Information Center. “We had been shut down or dodged for 2 weeks of official requests,” he said. Finally, Lewis and Klein, who is on assignment for The Guardian, decided to go to the information center in person “to try to nail something down.”
    When they pulled up to the front gate, they were greeted by a private security guard working for Wackenhut, the massive security company. “We said we were media and he said, ‘No no no. You’re going to have to turn around and go back,” recalls Lewis. Klein added, “The Wackenhut guard said we couldn’t come in without permission, but wouldn’t tell us who we needed permission from. When we didn’t leave, he radioed for back up and a Wackenhut truck arrived to escort us off the grounds.” Here’s a photo of the Wackenhut guard stopping them:
    Klein, who spent extensive time in New Orleans during and after Hurricane Katrina documenting the widespread disaster profiteering and privatization that endures to this day said the fact that Wackenhut is guarding a joint operation of the US government and BP is not surprising given what is happening in the Gulf right now. “The whole Gulf Coast is a corporate oil state,” she told me. “It’s like BP broke it, so now they own the entire Gulf Coast.” She added: “We might accept the premise that BP is best positionioned to know how to fix the blow up at 5,000 feet, but that also seems to mean they think they should control media access and the entire clean up of a massive national emergency. BP is in charge of everything. We were on the water in open seas the day before the Wackenhut incident and a boat pulls up next to us and asked if we worked for BP and we said, “No,” and they said, ‘You can’t be here.'” It is completely sci-fi. It’s a corporate state.”

    Reply

  63. ... says:

    paul, i think that is the plan… how to turn the planet into a war zone everywhere except on your own soil…

    Reply

  64. Paul Norheim says:

    Far worse than anything else is the fact that the war in
    Afghanistan destabilizes Pakistan.

    Reply

  65. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “larry birnbaum,Perhaps you could provide some evidence on how The Nation has “historically been clueless?””
    Well, the Nation is a well known left leaning entity, so no explanation from Larry is required.
    Doncha know that all opinions, articles, and essays need to be judged from a purely partisan or ideological vantage point, and the source always indicates credibility or the lack of such??? Heck, as Larry undoubtedly knows, one need not even read the news, but instead the proper course is to simply determine the source, and draw one’s accessment off that determiniation.
    Of course, the occassional credible essay or article may slip through the cracks this way, unjustly maligned. But thats OK, because having accurate or credible information is actually detrimental to the process of successfully molding the public’s perceptions.
    So worry not, Don. Larry is just being the good little soldier in taking you for a complete idiot. Its how he percieves anyone and everyone that doesn’t swallow his particular line of shit. If the facts don’t serve you, attack the source.
    I wonder? Do you think we can draw any conclusions by observing that Wiggie, Nadine, and Birnbaum seem to spend far more time attacking sources than they do debating facts????? Hmmmmm.

    Reply

  66. The Other Quadmire says:

    “Israel says it will not take part in a conference aimed at achieving a nuclear-arms free Middle East, proposed at a UN meeting in New York.”
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/world/middle_east/10191339.stm

    Reply

  67. JohnH says:

    If anyone is clueless, it’s the Likud/neocon crowd.
    Sixty years of Israeli arrogance and intransigence have yielded what? Hamas and Hezbollah, a heavily armed resistance group sitting on Israel’s northern border that can make Israel pay a very, very heavy price if Israel should choose to conduct another pogrom in Lebanon.
    As for the neocon crowd? Two quagmires that are bankrupting the US and putting it in hock to China, Saudi Arabia, etc.
    Brilliant, simply brilliant.

    Reply

  68. ... says:

    ditto rc’s comment at top of the page…

    Reply

  69. Don Bacon says:

    larry birnbaum,
    Perhaps you could provide some evidence on how The Nation has “historically been clueless?” Or is that a failed judgment similar to “I’m not convinced that our campaign in Afghanistan is going well,” when General Stanley McChrystal has acknowledged that there is a stalemate in Afghanistan now.

    Reply

  70. Don Bacon says:

    Afghanistan is roughly the size of Texas but much more mountainous, and with six million more people. It is on the opposite side of the earth from the USA, centrally located in South Asia. It borders on China, Pakistan, Iran and three of the -Stans.
    There are currently 94,000 US troops in Afghanistan. Assuming that 1/3 of those are combat troops, and 1/3 of those are active at any one time, then at any given moment there are about ten thousand troops on duty actually doing something. This is roughly equal to the total number of police officers in Dallas, Houston and San Antonio.
    According to the latest Brookings Afghanistan Index, there are 223,847 Total Afghan Security Forces including 119,388 in the Afghan Army. The army annual recruitment rate is 34,000 re-enlistment rate is 57% for soldiers and 63% for NCOs, plus the AWOL rate is 9%. You do the math — the Afghan Army is a joke, which is why their exploits aren’t in the news. This is probably due in part to the widespread corruption in Afghanistan and its government.
    The total cost of the war in Afghanistan is now $300 billion according to the CBO, with the total cost of Afghan security forces $15.647 billion.
    Attacks by dissident forces has steadily increased, with violent events in the vicinity of Kandahar (for example) increasing from 957 in 2006 to 2,968 in 2009. US military fatalities have increased yearly, with 312 in 2009 and 140 already this year.
    The recent US offensive in Marjah was a failure. The plan was to overwhelm the Taliban stronghhold with coalition forces

    Reply

  71. The Pessimist says:

    The headline is wrong. There are winners in Afghanistan:
    the military/industrial/congressional complex is one,
    Kharzi and his cronies are another. Howard Zinn was
    spot-on 15 years ago.

    Reply

  72. DonS says:

    “This simply makes no sense. This is a huge misallocation of resources even if one believed that Afghanistan did represent a vital national security problem for the US” (Steve)
    That’s right. It’s a huge friggin rip off and mess. First it was ‘al Quaeda’ we were after. Now they’re not there so somehow it’s morphed into a war against the Taliban which is supposedly some midievel type of gang that, of course, the US must fight, for some reason or other.
    Of course the Taliban is a cross border gang so we stir up a bunch of hornets in Pakistan and are then surprised when Pakistani radicals suddenly want to retaliate against the US. And of course we must prepare to respond to any [US generated] hostility by planning potential heavy retaliation in Pakistan, since our hornet-stirring drones, operated by real Murcan heroes (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/30/world/asia/30drone.html?hp) aren’t nasty enough:
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/05/28/AR2010052804854.html?hpid=topnews
    Yeah, America, a land you can be proud of; fat, dumb, and nasty. And if you disagree with that we’re gonna throw the whole weight of Patriot Act at you, maybe indefinite detention.
    Where is you’re head Mr. Obama?

    Reply

  73. larry birnbaum says:

    Don Bacon, to be honest I don’t know of a source whose reporting I’d trust on Afghanistan. I do know that The Nation has historically been clueless, to put it charitably, about America’s international challenges.
    As to the 8 years of failure, compared to what. Some problems can’t be solved, they can only be managed and with patience and luck ameliorated. Terrorism and militant Islamic jihadism probably fall into that category. I don’t expect “victory,” I expect to prevent or curtail further terrorist attacks on the US and our allies.
    And to be specific about the excerpt above, of the 4 paragraphs that Clemons quotes, only the first is both factual and relevant. The second is the standard leftist and in my view pseudo-liberal line that military action is pointless because it creates more enemies than it subdues, which the Nation probably pronounces reflexively about every single application of US military force, and is stated here without any argument. The last two paragraphs concern the huge cost and how it takes away from our ability to solve problems at home. True, and a genuine problem, but not actually relevant to an assessment of how things are going in Afghanistan. Maybe to a larger discussion of what our goals should be, which is certainly a discussion worth having. But it doesn’t qualify as a “no nonsense assessment” of our situation in Afghanistan.

    Reply

  74. WigWag says:

    I’ll take what Katrina vanden Heuvel says about withdrawing from Afghanistan seriously when she and her daughter volunteer to move to Kandahar and live as the third wife to some uneducated but devout Taliban functionary.
    After a couple of years of being veiled head to toe, being treated as chattel, having her daughter unable to attend school (she’s college-aged), and being prohibited to leave her home unaccompanied by a man, we can see if Katrina changes her mind.
    It’s easy to run your mouth about Afghanistan when you live on the Upper West Side within walking distance to Lincoln Center.

    Reply

  75. JohnH says:

    As if it isn’t bad enough that the US is entirely clueless as it spends extravagantly in Afghanistan and Iraq, Stephen Walt notes that the US is equally clueless towards Iran: “to succeed, a foreign-policy initiative needs to have a clear and achievable objective. The strategy also needs to be internally consistent, so that certain policy steps don’t undermine others…Unfortunately, the Obama administration’s approach to Iran is neither feasible nor consistent.”
    http://walt.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2010/05/26/sleepwalking_with_iran
    What’s clear is that US foreign policy has been hijacked by a virulent parasite that only knows how to squander resources.

    Reply

  76. Don Bacon says:

    larry birnbaum,
    Perhaps you’s like to share with us some particulars on what journals you do trust on Afghanistan? It might interest some readers. Not me, however. Anyone who, after eight years of military failure, can only say “I’m not convinced that our campaign in Afghanistan is going well” seriously lacks judgment, I would say.

    Reply

  77. JohnH says:

    The US wastes what is the equivalent of 150% of Iran’s entire military budget in a single month in Iraq and Afghanistan. Yet we have nothing to show for either adventure but massive debt and very, very fat defense contractors.
    Like the Great Yogi said, “if you don’t know where you’re going, you might not get there.” Sad that the US has been clueless from the start, at least officially, at the expensive of future generations.
    Afghans and Iraqis, on the other hand, know exactly why they’re fighting. And Americans wonder why they’re losing?

    Reply

  78. larry birnbaum says:

    “Imagine, if you will, someone who read only the Reader’s Digest between 1950 and 1970, and someone in the same period who read only The Nation … Which reader would have been better informed about the realities of Communism? The answer, I think, should give us pause.” — Susan Sontag, 1982
    I’m not convinced that our campaign in Afghanistan is going well, or that we even have the right strategy. But I seriously doubt that we can count on the editor of The Nation to offer us a “no nonsense assessment” any more now than we could in the period Sontag is talking about.

    Reply

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