Views on Afghanistan from Across the Atlantic

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Invalides.JPG
Author’s note: some of the links in this article are in French, apologies.
This is the view out my window in Paris of the Hotel des Invalides, where French President Nicholas Sarkozy gave a moving tribute to the 10 French soldiers killed in Afghanistan on August 18th. In it, he evoked the suffering of the families of the soldiers, before saying that France would suffer at home if they were to leave Afghanistan. The chairman of Sarkozy’s party, Patrick Devedjian, said that, “the security of our societies is at stake in Kabul.”
I’ve been in France since before the tragic ambush, and have been following news coverage of it since then. It has just started to die down, but is far from going away. What has been fascinating is that though a wide range of opinions has been put forward about the war and the presence of French soldiers there, and there has been much criticism of Sarkozy’s administration and the war effort, there have been surprisingly few calls for French soldiers to leave Afghanistan entirely.
While Prime Minister Francois Fillon agreed to have a vote on the future of France’s presence in Afghanistan, I have seen little evidence of much desire for this retreat in the press or from the major political parties, despite the conflict getting heavy discussion online and in the media.


The more conservative newspapers like Le Figaro have, on the whole, supported Sarkozy’s argument that France is in Afghanistan to defend freedom and eliminate the threat of terrorism. French standard-bearer Le Monde has chronicled the Socialist Party’s deep divisions over whether or not to fight for withdrawal. And as the New York Times pointed out last week, the editor of the left-leaning newspaper Libération called the war unwinnable, but said that retreat would be “the worst solution”.
The satirical daily Le Canard Enchaine (regrettably not available online), also known for hard-nosed reporting, called withdrawal an “excellent idea” last week. But that was only one line on a page of articles about Afghanistan.
Rather, the emphasis has been on figuring out what went wrong, and why. In particular, serious questions have been raised about what NATO and American policy is regarding the future of Afghanistan, and what specific plans American commanders have for winning the war.
While it may not seem like it, this questioning is a unique opportunity. Senator Obama has placed Afghanistan at the center of his foreign policy strategy. He has cited the lack of troops there to bolster his argument that troops should be withdrawn from Iraq, to support operations in Afghanistan. Senator McCain has argued for a “surge” in Afghanistan, explaining that the same strategy that has in part brought a reduction in violence in Iraq can be applied successfully in Afghanistan.
Both Senators have called for more troops in Afghanistan, and quibbled over the number. But the debate going on in France right now throws light on the fact that neither candidate has sufficiently explained how precisely they intend to turn the war around.
Just adding more troops may reduce violence in the short term. But it will not be enough to turn the tide against a resurgent Taliban that has a safe-haven in Pakistan, reaps huge profits from Afghanistan’s opium trade, and effectively controls large portions of the country, including much of the area around Kabul.
Despite harsh criticism of the Iraq war, France has been a steadfast supporter of the war in Afghanistan. There are 3,000 French troops in the country now, and there is talk here that the government is contemplating sending more, including special forces. But real leadership is required from both candidates to keep our allies in the war with us, and to turn Afghanistan around.
–Andrew Lebovich

Comments

33 comments on “Views on Afghanistan from Across the Atlantic

  1. Linda says:

    Another consultant to Unocal about the deal in the late 1990s was Hamid Karzai.
    I highly recommend the book “Crude Politicss: How Bush’s Oil Cronies Hijacked the War on Terrorism” by Paul Sperry.
    The descriptionition of the visit by welcomed 8 representatives of the Taliban in 12/97 to Unocal’s headquarters in Sugar Land, TX is worth the price of the book that covers a whole lot more. Unocal put them up at a five-star hotel in Houston, had a dinner for them at their VP’s mansion, helicoptered them to see oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico, and took them to the mall shopping at Target.
    Then they went up to visit the Omaha campus of the University of Nebraska where there is a Center for Afghanistan Studies funded initially by Unocal.
    And that wasn’t the only visit because there also is a Silk Road Caucus in Congress working with the State Department to arrange a five-week visit in 1999 of both Taliban and opposing Afghan groups that included a visit to Mount Rushmore.
    Obama may or may not have drunk the Kool-Aid, as he isn’t going to win by saying we will withdraw from everywhere. He gets my vote because he has better foreign policy advisors and had the sense not to go into Iraq, and will use diplomacy first. So if you think he’s the lesser of two evils and you don’t vote, you help elect McCain.

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  2. Don Bacon says:

    Of course it’s surreal. Spending all this money and all these lives supposedly because of a guy in a cave in Pakistan? And people eat it up.
    The decision to overthrow the Taliban, former US allies, was made prior to 9/11.
    According to the then Pakistani foreign minister, Niaz Naik, a senior US diplomat told him on 21 July 2001 that it had been decided to dispense with the Taliban “under a carpet of bombs.”
    And the reason the US is in Afghanistan has nothing to do with OBL or al Qaeda. The US does not want to defeat the Taliban and al-Qaeda, because then they will have no excuse to stay in Afghanistan and work towards the realization of their economic, political and strategic interests in the region.
    General Tommy Franks in 2001: “Osama Bin Laden is not our target. We’re here for regime change against the Taliban.”
    Obama and McCain have drunk the Kool-aid — the US and the North Atlantic Treaty Orgn. will stay in Afghanistan until we have, as Nixon once said, “peace with honor,” no matter how many wedding parties are destroyed. Hey, there’s a lot of money in it, and it takes peoples’ minds off of the real issues that affect them.

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  3. Carroll says:

    Posted by Linda Sep 03, 8:59PM – Link
    “There is a very good geopolitical reason that Afghanistan is interesting–the Trans-Afghan Pipeline for natural gas.”
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    There was a lot of talk about this just after the invasion. Pauline posted a library of info on it, maybe she has kept her files.
    I hardly know what to think about Afghanistan, everything we have done there is surreal. Remember the US actually PAID the Taliban to leave the country. Gawd almighty! How they thought the Taliban wouldn’t come right back or how they thought they could find OBL in that country’s terrain is beyond me.
    Yet we keep bombing and bombing..killing mostly civilians….to what purpose?.
    On the pipeline deal,the Taliban had visited some oil execs in Texas prior to the war to discuss some deal. ‘Supposedly they were told they could have a carpet of cash or a carpet of bombs.
    McCain, Obama, Biden…they are all insane to even think about staying in Afghan. The longer this election goes on, the more they all have to say, the less I have any reason to vote for any of them, and the less hope I have that the country has learned anything and is going to change direction.

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  4. L:inda says:

    Paul,
    Never said that it was the reason they invaded Afghanistan but is the main reason why it is of geopolitical importance to many countries. One of the reasons that the pipeline hasn’t been built though over these decades is the political instability of the country. It is of great interest to oil and gas companies.
    Indeed Khalilzad in the late 1990s was consulting for Unocal and talking with the Taliban about a deal. Didn’t anybody notice that Osama bin Laden was there and had troops and training camps there? And it did make some sense to go into Afghanistan to get rid of those.
    At the same time Khalilzad was signing PNAC letter urging that we invade Iraq in 1/98 along with co-signers Donald Rumsfeld, Richard Armitage, John Bolton, Richard Perle, and Paul Wolfowitz. That just might explain why we invaded Iraq.
    That doesn’t mean that I think killing innocent Iraqis and Afghans is good policy or makes us safer.
    Got to go hear Sarah tell us why we should elect her and John and keep fighting there until we win!

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  5. Paul Norheim says:

    I agree, Linda,
    that there are several geopolitical reasons to establish military
    bases in Afghanistan. But what comes first: the hunt for bin
    Laden in Afghanistan or the decision to control the gas
    pipeline?
    If you believe that the White House somehow was behind the
    9.11 attacks, obviously the pipeline came first, and 9.11 was
    designed to legitimate both the attack on Afghanistan and Iraq.
    I don`t think so. I still believe that 9.11. was an unexpected
    opportunity for Bush, Wolfowitz, Cheney, and the rest of the
    bandits to implement projects they had been dreaming about
    for years.
    And I doubt that Afghanistan was anywhere close to the top of
    their wish list of “preemptive attacks” before 9.11. But when
    they realized that they had to invade Afghanistan, they also saw
    the geopolitical and strategical opportunities and benefits.

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  6. Linda says:

    There is a very good geopolitical reason that Afghanistan is interesting–the Trans-Afghan Pipeline for natural gas. Google it and read the history. If the article you find doesn’t mention Zalmay Khalilzad, add his name to the Google search. Then it will be very clear.

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  7. Paul Norheim says:

    Poppy fields? Pipe lines? Geopolitical considerations?
    Why the hell are we all, Americans as well as Europeans and
    soldiers from other countries, fighting in Afghanistan?
    First of all, I think we have to ask: did the US administration
    REALLY want to invade Afghanistan? This may seem like an
    absurd or rhetorical question, but think about it for a moment:
    After 9.11, Rumsfeld immediately wrote his famous notes
    about Iraq. There were people in the White House, as well as
    people with strong connections to the Bush adm. (a lot of them
    also with strong ties to Israel) who for years had WANTED to
    invade Iraq – probably Iran, Syria, Sudan, Libya and/or other
    countries as well – using 9/11 as a pretext and a window of
    opportunities.
    It was their Pearl Harbor moment, and these were neocon wars
    of choice.
    But did they really want to invade Afghanistan? Was that another
    war of choice?
    They had watched the USSR fighting in Afghanistan in the
    80`s – after the trap Brzezinski set for them as an advisor for
    Carter: during the cold war they wanted the Sovjet Union to get
    “their Vietnam”, as ZB formulated it.
    I can`t imagine that Afghanistan was a tempting target,
    compared to Iraq, Iran etc. And Afghanistan was certainly not a
    defined neocon project: Military Invasion/Regime
    Change/Democratization/Liberalization. For America,
    Afghanistan was simply “a bottomless pit into which other
    countries disappear”, as Carroll said above. They knew that.
    However, we must remember that America in 2001 was not only
    in “shock mode”, but also in “hubris mode”. A decade after the
    air attacks against Baghdad during the first Gulf war, US Air
    Force and Marine could bomb anyone, conquer anyone. They
    were also eager to test out Rumsfeld`s high tech war.
    And since the White House had said that bin Laden was
    responsible for 9.11., and he was hiding in Afghanistan,
    protected by the Taliban, they had to convince the American
    people that they REALLY & SINCERELY wanted to catch Osama
    bin Laden in his cave.
    They had to attack Afghanistan.
    In this sense, the invasion of Afghanistan was their “war of
    necessity” – or, if you will: a show of goodwill and solidarity to
    the New York population, of politeness and duty to the
    American people.
    But what they REALLY (and impatiently) wanted to do, was to
    invade Iraq and other hostile regimes in the Middle East. For
    them, Afghanistan and Osama bin Laden was the distraction –
    not Iraq.
    Hubris ended, and seven years later, the American troops are
    still fighting, not only in Iraq, but also in Afghanistan,
    supported by their NATO allies and soldiers from other
    countries.
    For the Europeans, for the NATO member states, I would guess
    that sending soldiers from their respective countries, originally
    was a way to show their solidarity (helping to hunt Osama bin
    Laden and conquer Taliban). Seven years later, i think it`s
    basically regarded as a necessary sacrifice to Washington.
    A sacrifice of soldiers from their countries, as a gesture to the
    current rulers of the world; as a show of solidarity and respect,
    with no other real motives than to secure their own protection if
    they one day see themselves a situation where they can`t
    protect themselves.
    I am not an insider, nor an expert: this is just my 2 cents. And
    you`ll never hear them admit this. But I can`t imagine that any
    intelligent European Head of State or high ranking NATO official
    have a consistent, clear and meaningful view of the purpose of
    the “mission” in Afghanistan, or honestly believe in any kind of
    “success” in that country.
    For the NATO countries, this is certainly not “a war of choice”,
    but “a war of necessity” with no direct objective, and no defined
    goal, as far as I can see. George W. Bush happens to be the
    President of the USA. The European leaders have accepted this
    as a regrettable fact, and have made the necessary sacrifices.
    And what does Afghanistan represent for the current US
    administration? A necessary sacrifice (of American soldiers), to
    convince the American people that Bush is honest when he says
    that he really wants to catch Osama bin Laden. And since
    Washington have to convince the American people that their
    Commander in Chief is sincere about catching Osama bin
    Laden, they might as well establish a couple of military bases
    there in the meantime.
    Obviously, they have been more eager to deal with the second
    front in their War on Terrorism, Iraq.
    McCain and Obama are both promising to increase the
    “efforts” in Afghanistan, and Obama have urged the Europeans
    to sacrifice more soldiers. With more Europeans soldiers, and
    more American soldiers (10 000 as a start is suggested by
    Obama), the result will be a significant increase of civilian
    victims in Afghanistan.
    And if this is the price they have to pay, just because Obama or
    McCain REALLY want to show the American people that they are
    SERIOUS AND SINCERE when they promise to catch Osama bin
    Laden, then there is no other words to characterize them: they
    are mass murderers on a big scale.
    If their goal is bigger than showing that they are better cowboys
    than Bush, they should explain clearly why they want a surge in
    Afghanistan, and how they think their mission will be
    accomplished.

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  8. Linda says:

    POA,
    Aboslutely on target. If we pay Sunnis in Anbar to fight on our side, pay farmers here to grow or not grow crops, it’s cheaper to burn down all the poppy fields and just pay the Afghans to grow something else or do something else.
    Per above, I still believe that wars are fought against countries (not terror or drugs) and are declared by Congress. Actually they are fought against people, and far too often we are killing people whose countries are our allies–and we just call that “collateral damage.”

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  9. Bartolo says:

    What Carroll said. Who wants another land war in Asia? Who wants to read history books?

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  10. Don Bacon says:

    If Afghanistan had no value the US wouldn’t be there.
    Geopolitical value: Take five seconds to look at a map you’ll see that Afghanistan is in a key geographical position between China, Pakistan, Iran and the Stans, the latter being rich in energy deposits including in the Caspian basin. So while it may not be rich in energy, Afghanistan (like Georgia) is in a key position for energy transit.
    It also has rich copper deposits. China is now investing in a copper field with an estimated value of $88b. The US is helping — it just bought a huge turbine from China and with a major military exercise transported it to a dam where it will (under the supervision of Chinese engineers) be used to generate electricity, which the Chinese copper smelter will need. So Uncle Sucker, using US Army cannon fodder, is facilitating Chinese economic expansion in Afghanistan. (This new “China threat” will probably be used as an excuse for more war in the future, according to those deep- thinkers in the Pentagon.)

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  11. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Heroin.
    Don’t forget the role it plays, and its obscene ability to produce the huge profits that turn altruism into greed. Worth far more than oil, easier to extract from mother earth than oil is, and valuable, sought, and traded in all the world markets.
    Anyone that discusses Afghanistan without considering the heroin angle simply doesn’t understand, or recognize, a key factor.

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  12. LInda says:

    Carroll,
    Excellent points and information that far to few Americans know about Afghanistan.
    I used to volunteer at International Medical Corps (LA based NGO like Doctors Without Borders) that originally was formed to help Afghan refugees during war with USSR. It has had 30 plus years of war and chaos with no real improvement or end in sight.
    Yet both candidates and American public believes that we need to put more troops there to catch Osama bin Laden. There is a need to review our policy and plans as well as our alliances.
    Thanks to everyone above for a thoughtful, informative, and civil thread.

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  13. Carroll says:

    https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/af.html
    I just went back to the CIA site..here it is updated for 2008.
    Take a look at how poor this country is, how rugged. The land is poor, water is scarce..the life span of the average Afghan is 44 years.
    Every day we keep military operations going on there we make it worse for these people.
    We’ve already killed more civilian Afgahans than the Taiban ever dreamed of.
    Get out…for the Afgahans sake…leave it to the missionaries and the NGO’s…at least they don’t do any harm.
    It is insane to even think of putting more troops there or bombing this country any more. Absolutely insane.

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  14. Carroll says:

    Oh, Afghanistan..a bottomless pit into which other countries disappear.
    From the original reasons (we were told) we went into Afghanistan to today I see no conclusion to this war.
    When I looked at the country’s profile in the CIA factbook several years ago I could see no way we would control it enough to prevent terriers from taking up residence there.
    Second, what is the end game for Afghanistan itself?
    They have precious little in resources and not much of an economy. To the best of my memory they had one major mineral resource for mining and
    that was about it.
    So what do we do with a mostly tribal country of poppy fields to turn it into a thriving democracy free of terriers? It has to have something to thrive on while it is turning into a terrier, drug free democracy.
    I don’t think it is possible. There is no there there. If you had a century or two and trillions upon trillions upon trillions of dollars to invest
    into it maybe you could lay or create some economic base to bring the population along into something resembling a semi democracy.
    OBL is long gone from Afghanistan. Buying off the Taliban didn’t work, they just came right back.
    It is unwinnable…but of course that won’t stop our master of the universe meddlers from throwing more money and lives down the toilet.

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  15. Don Bacon says:

    Regarding the French losses in Afghanistan, there have been stories that the deadly ambush was the result of (1) the defection of an interpreter just prior to the troop move and/or (2) a lack of training of the green French troops. Such is war.
    On the overall topic I think the over-riding question is: How did Sarkozy become the new US lap-dog (replacing Blair) not only in Afghanistan but in Georgia? Does the CIA have something on him? Has he been assured of a future remunerative sinecure? What do the French people think of this new-found obeisance to Washington? (I would guess not much.)
    The reason that US/NATO is in Afghanistan is of course because of its geographical position, which also appealed to the British and Russian invaders in prior years. Afghanistan, for the west, is the door to the rich energy deposits of the Stans, a sort of southern Georgia.
    http://www.lewrockwell.com/orig9/bacon6.html

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  16. Stephen K. Mack says:

    JohnH: Thank you for the link to commondreams
    the post was worth the time to read
    ponder!
    Andrew Lebovich: If I had known that you would
    actually respond to questions,
    I might have been less of a smart ass and more ready to ask some relevant questions. This is a most unusual web site.
    Best regards,
    Stephen Mack

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  17. Kathlewen says:

    John Robert Behrman …so well put…hat’s off to you.

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  18. Andrew Lebovich says:

    In response to JohnH-
    You ask a couple of good, very relevant questions. I agree completely that overreliance on airpower, based in part on poor intelligence and a lack of sufficient ground forces, plays a major role either in support for the Taliban or simply reduced support for NATO.
    As for the goal of eliminating terrorism, it’s complicated. Some French, especially those on the right, favor Sarkozy’s stated goal of eliminating terrorism. Others aren’t sure, which is why many, both in print and in other forms of media, are demanding more direct answers on strategy and purpose from NATO, but really from the United States.
    Though keep in mind that terrorism is very real to the French, seeing as they lived through bouts of it in the 1990’s, and having borne witness to the terrorist attacks in Spain and Britain.
    The subtext of France’s role in Afghanistan, I suspect, is also the issue of drugs; in the UN’s most recent drug report, they stated that 93 percent of the world’s opium comes from Afghanistan. Much of that flows through, or into, western Europe, and is a subject of major concern.
    Thank you for your questions!
    -Andrew Lebovich

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  19. Paul Norheim says:

    Don`t worry, Stephen,
    I can`t imagine that the majority of the male commentators at The
    Washington Note, including POA, would use your little error
    regarding Sarkozy as an opportunity to prove that they`re Real
    Men. I think T Barclay is an exception.

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  20. JohnH says:

    If NATO was interested in fighting terrorism, they could have intervened in Sri Lanka, home of the Tamil Tigers, who were one of the first groups to succesfully use suicide bombing.
    The US does not establish military bases around the world at random. In fact, they establish them with a clear priority for energy producing regions and energy transportation corridors. Afghanistan was apparently chosen to be an energy corridor for Turkmen gas. This project may now assume greater importance now that the Georgian energy corridor is not so secure any more.
    http://www.commondreams.org/view/2008/09/02-5
    After Georgia, “There will, of course, be more rounds to come, and it is impossible to predict how they will play out. Putin prevailed this time around because he focused on geopolitical objectives, while his opponents were blindly driven by fantasy and ideology; so long as this pattern persists, he or his successors are likely to come out on top. Only if American leaders assume a more realistic approach to Russia’s resurgent power or, alternatively, choose to collaborate with Moscow in the exploitation of Caspian energy, will the risk of further strategic setbacks in the region disappear.”

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  21. T Barclay says:

    Stephen,
    Who you callin’ polite! You just happened to run into an effete European being his congenitally polite self. You tangle here with the Real Americans you won’t be coming away too happy about your experience. POA will tear you a new one but good if you are in any way deluded. And he will size you up, find you out, chew you up and spit you out, make no mistake about it, although it seems like all the Liberals have skaddadled after the Tahoe Editors onslaught of Truth, Justice and the American Way, but they will one by one sheepishly reappear all freshly chastened, spanked bad by the victor of this latest round, the Tahoe Editor.
    And a word to the wise, DO NOT say anything disparaging against the Honourable Sarah Heath Palin the next VP of the US of A if you do not want to be thrashed within an inch of your life by TE.
    Good luck, pal.

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  22. Linda says:

    Maybe it should start by just defining what GWOT really means, i.e. which dictionary definition we are using:
    1. a conflict carried on by force of arms, as between nations or between parties within a nation; warfare, as by land, sea, or air.
    2. a state or period of armed hostility or active military operations: The two nations were at war with each other.
    3. a contest carried on by force of arms, as in a series of battles or campaigns: the War of 1812.
    4. active hostility or contention; conflict; contest: a war of words.
    5. aggressive business conflict, as through severe price cutting in the same industry or any other means of undermining competitors: a fare war among airlines; a trade war between nations.
    6. a struggle: a war for men’s minds; a war against poverty.
    7. armed fighting, as a science, profession, activity, or art; methods or principles of waging armed conflict: War is the soldier’s business.
    8. Cards. a. a game for two or more persons, played with a 52-card pack evenly divided between the players, in which each player turns up one card at a time with the higher card taking the lower, and in which, when both turned up cards match, each player lays one card face down and turns up another, the player with the higher card of the second turn taking all the cards laid down.
    b. an occasion in this game when both turned up cards match.
    9. Archaic. a battle.
    I’m only sure that #8 can be eliminated, and that it’s only wishful thinking to want it to be archaic.

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  23. Paul Norheim says:

    Receipt for The 21. Century Imperial Project.
    1) Declare a Global War On Terror.
    2) Attack Muslim countries with “links to terrorists”, WMD
    and/or nuclear aspirations.
    3) Establish US military bases in those countries.
    4) Wait for new terrorist attacks, motivated by the presence of
    US bases on Holy Land.
    5) Use this to a) legitimate the continuation of GWOT and b) to
    attack another oil rich Muslim country.
    6) Use the ethnic clashes and unrest caused by breaking up a
    country as an excuse to establish new military bases.
    7) Highlight the humanitarian aspects, the injustice towards
    women, gays etc. to legitimate the military presence.
    8) Wait for new terrorist attacks etc…
    Not winning a war may in the larger strategic context be seen as
    a success, because it permits the establishment of new bases. I
    don`t think the neocons intended it this way, but they may
    indeed have stumbled over the receipt for a costly 21. century
    imperialism.

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  24. Paul Norheim says:

    Stephen, believe me: it can get pretty rough here as well…

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  25. JohnH says:

    A question for Lebovich: if NATO is in Afghanistan to “to defend freedom and eliminate the threat of terrorism,” how do you do that by bombing civilians? Doesn’t that create more terrorists?
    Do Europeans buy this stinking neocon heap of “freedom and democracy” BS, or are they sufficiently informed to realize that these are merely code words for locking up NATO’s vital strategic interests, whatever they are? Are there Europeans who are pressing to know what NATO’s strategic objectives really are and then trying to set a mission around clear, explicit, measurable objectives? Or is everyone truly comfortable with this feel-good “freedom and democracy” nonsense?
    If the US was truly interested in “freedom and democracy” they could start with place where they still exert influence, places like Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Angola, and stop trying to destabilize places like Venezuela, Ecuador, and Bolivia alone.
    Obama could do us all an enormous favor by asking the questions, “what are we trying to accomplish? and are we going about it the right way?”

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  26. Stephen K. Mack says:

    Paul Norheim,
    Thank you for the correction. I have to say that I don’t quite know how to respond to your politeness. I’m used to The Huffington Post and Truthdig where it is more rough and tumble.
    Best regards,
    Stephen Mack

    Reply

  27. Linda says:

    Whichever candidate wins in November, his term will start on November 5 and must have a somewhat different transition with key Cabinet members selected, etc.
    John Behrman, are you recommding trips abroad by President-Elect to talk with French and other NATO members as early as November-December of this year?

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  28. Paul Norheim says:

    And my error was to spell your name incorrectly, Stephen…
    Pardon.

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  29. Paul Norheim says:

    Steven K.Mack: not a big deal in this context, but before his
    presidency, Sarkozy was leader of the Union for a Popular
    Movement (UMP) centre-right party, not even “nominally” a
    socialist.

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  30. John Robert BEHRMAN says:

    The two problems I see with this are …
    First, it seems presumptuous for a Democratic candidate to discuss details of how US or allied military forces should be operating abroad (micro-management) but not, curiously, for a rather unsuccessful Navy pilot to do so, and (b) the Obama campaign has shown no talent for dealing with military issues through surrogates like Jim WEBB or Wes CLARK.
    This is a problem with a party of lawyers and legislators with few principals of any sort — note the spelling — just advocates, mediators, and policy peddlers.
    Second, micro-managing military operations is not a good idea at all today, for one thing, it grossly inflates the global status and reputation of Osama bin Ladin, for instance. OBL should not “outrank” any one of two or three US Ambassadors, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Iran (if we had one). Indeed, these regional viceroy commanders, like CENTCOM, should not outrank commanders. GWB “promoted” Saddam HUSSEIN way above where he should have been, and Obama should not let OBL share in the global prestige of the US President.
    So, Obama, as President, needs to push-down responsibility for Fourth-Generation Warfare to, at most, two-stars. It is, after all, a kind of warfare where LT’s and SGT’s are “strategic”.
    Finally, coalition-building is going to involve low-profile superstructure and robust military and civilian infrastructure which our obsolete, bloated, rank-inflated, capital-intensive, overly specialized or uselessly general-purpose Cold War military, civilian, and diplomatic bureaucracies lack. We have precious little region-specific military, intelligence, or diplomatic resources but a real disdain for foreign allies who do.
    I am not sure these matters can be addressed in a campaign. I am pretty sure Obama should not take the bait from McCain and play fighter-pilot or cowboy. But, he will get “ate up” if he dawdles once elected and tries to manage our military in coalition with the GOP instead of in comity with our historic and just practical allies.

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  31. Stephen K.Mack says:

    Is the Western Imperial Project really dead? Or has it been rehabilitated by the Bush Restoration, using its war on civil liberties at home, and a phony War on Terror abroad; for the consumption of our allies, like France, under the nominally Socialist Mr. Sarkozy.
    The reinvigorated front for “The War on Terror” (as yet satisfactorily defined) will be the Afghanistan Policy as agreed to by both McCain and Obama, with our trusted “allies” in tow. What will this shift of emphasis have to offer? Perhaps we might review the Iraq record to date, in order to get our political bearings: Over one million dead Iraq citizens, four million displaced persons, over four thousand dead American soldiers, and the enmity of a large segment of the Muslim world. How can this enviable record be bettered? The answer is to “wind down” our present “commitment” to Iraq and “ratchet up” our flagging efforts in Afghanistan.

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  32. John Robert BEHRMAN says:

    The two problems I see with this are …
    First, it seems presumptuous for a Democratic candidate to discuss details of how US or allied military forces should be operating abroad (micro-management) but not, curiously, for a rather unsuccessful Navy pilot to do so, and (b) the Obama campaign has shown no talent for dealing with military issues through surrogates like Jim WEBB or Wes CLARK.
    This is a problem with a party of lawyers and legislators with few principals of any sort — note the spelling — just advocates, mediators, and policy peddlers.
    Second, micro-managing military operations is not a good idea at all today, for one thing, it grossly inflates the global status and reputation of Osama bin Ladin, for instance. OBL should not “outrank” any one of two or three US Ambassadors, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Iran (if we had one). Indeed, these regional viceroy commanders, like CENTCOM, should not outrank commanders. GWB “promoted” Saddam HUSSEIN way above where he should have been, and Obama should not let OBL share in the global prestige of the US President.
    So, Obama, as President, needs to push-down responsibility for Fourth-Generation Warfare to, at most, two-stars. It is, after all, a kind of warfare where LT’s and SGT’s are “strategic”.
    Finally, coalition-building is going to involve low-profile superstructure and robust military and civilian infrastructure which our obsolete, bloated, rank-inflated, capital-intensive, overly specialized or uselessly general-purpose Cold War military, civilian, and diplomatic bureaucracies lack. We have precious little region-specific military, intelligence, or diplomatic resources but a real disdain for foreign allies who do.
    I am not sure these matters can be addressed in a campaign. I am pretty sure Obama should not take the bait from McCain and play fighter-pilot or cowboy. But, he will get “ate up” if he dawdles once elected and tries to manage our military in coalition with the GOP instead of in comity with our historic and just practical allies.

    Reply

  33. Paul Norheim says:

    “And as the New York Times pointed out last week, the editor of
    the left-leaning newspaper Liberation called the war unwinnable,
    but said that retreat would be “the worst solution”.
    Not bad: starting two unwinnable wars where retreat would be
    “the worst solution” – the perfect excuse for establishing new
    permanent military bases. During the next four years, you may
    end up with exactly the same Catch 22 in Iran, with a little help
    from Israel.

    Reply

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