We Need an Explanation on Afghanistan


It is painfully clear that we are not “winning” in Afghanistan, and that we need a new strategy.
While President-elect Obama has carefully calibrated and qualified his “timetable” strategy for Iraq, he has unequivocally promised to send more troops and more resources to fight the “good war” in Afghanistan.
Today’s front-page story in the New York Times explains that General David D McKiernan, the top commander in Afghanistan, is planning to deploy the “vast majority” of the 4,000 new troops arriving in January to protect Kabul, rather than to fight the insurgency in the tribal areas. This sounds like a tactical stopgap measure to protect President Karzai’s extraordinarily weak government, rather than a strategic shift.
The Obama administration needs to be clear with the American people about what our strategic goals in Afghanistan are, what tactics his administration intends to employ to achieve those goals, and how this conflict fits into our broader national security portfolio.
He needs to explain why sending more troops and more money to Afghanistan – while we are hemorrhaging jobs at home and face a multiplicity of challenges abroad – is an appropriate use of our scarce resources.
We can’t afford any more open-ended, open-wallet, “trust me” wars.
–Ben Katcher


16 comments on “We Need an Explanation on Afghanistan

  1. arthurdecco says:

    I can’t give it up, POA. It’s gotta be genetic – this stubborn refusal of mine to accept never-ending nonsense disguised as fact rolled out by the right wing’s cacophonous noise machine and their passionate, albeit dim-witted, channelers and/or apologists like kotzabasis.
    A few years ago I read the following passage at The Poor Man Institute’s blog @ http://thepoorman.net/ I pull it up occasionally to remind myself why it’s important to never give up our attempts to correct the always-changing record being cobbled together from the lies and absurdities the right wing tirelessly make up while we’re otherwise occupied dulling the sharpest edges of the disasters they’ve created in the process of lining their own pockets. It bears repeating here:
    “(The right) has mastered an error condition in the political process, an infinite loop of abstraction that drains all meaning from political speech. They don’t have to focus on meaning, really, at all, they just turn up the burbling nonsense until we all descend past the noise machine event horizon into infinitely unproductive debate, never to re-emerge. This is how we progressives (rationalists?) keep ending up on the sucker side of the media war with the right: we’re still using the old paradigm of meaning and they’re busily deploying the equivalent of malware and DOS attacks.”


  2. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Give it up, Arthur. Good ‘ol Kotz lives in the world of horseshit and poppycock. If its spun in Bushworld, Kotz is wearin’ it.


  3. arthurdecco says:

    Note: It was the Taliban that successfully eradicated the poppy crop from Afghanistan, kotzabasis.
    It has been under the “protection” of the USA and their equally guilty co-conspirators in NATO that opium poppy production has exploded in Afghanistan.
    …and that’s only one of the facts you appear to be ignorant of or are deliberately unable to acknowledge in your always-delusional rants in defense of the indefensible.


  4. ... says:

    kotzabasis – you are dreaming the bush dream… it isn’t working out and it isn’t real..


  5. kotzabasis says:

    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’s this coupling that engenders the determination of a people to protect this vital natural wealth of a country from being appropriated by their enemies. In Afghanistan opium is the primary natural resource of the country. Ninety-three percent of opiates on the world market originate in Afghanistan at a value of $4 billion. It’s well known that the drug industry has major linkages with local administration as well as high levels of the national government. Also, the Taliban controls substantial parts of its production with which it funds its war against the Karzai government and its American, Australian and European allies.
    It’s imperative therefore that the Afghanistan government turns off the faucet of opium and dry up the thirst of the Taliban to continue the war. More importantly, to use opium as a strategic weapon that will deal the Taliban a coup d’eclat from which it will never recover. To accomplish the complete defeat of the Taliban the Karzai government should as soon as it’s possible nationalize the production of opium and promptly make the tribal chiefs of Afghanistan equity holders of the national consortium of opium production. As the tribal chiefs have been for aeons the shepherds of their people the profits that will be allocated to them will spread among their tribes. Hence every Afghan will have a vested interest to protect this economic benefit from being stolen by the Taliban bandits or any foreigners. Further it will enhance the status of the tribal chiefs among their people and solidify their political and social power which has been for years their goal.
    Hence with this stratagem the central government in Kabul will mobilize all Afghans through their tribal elders in a war against the Taliban and al-Qaeda that will lead to the total defeat of the latter. And it will build the foundations of a federal democratic structure in Afghanistan without impinging on the historically proud status of the tribal leaders’ independence that has been for hundreds of years the apple of discord and has fomented internecine warfare between the tribes. It’s for the Americans and their allies to persuade the Karzai government to nationalize the production of opium and turn it into the utmost political and military weapon that will decisively decimate the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Afghanistan.
    Hic Rhodus hic Salta


  6. Carroll says:

    I ditto Don Bacon.
    Afghanistan is a hole in the universe where other nations go to disappear. OBL is long gone. The Taliban is a security threat to the US? Putting more troops in Afaghan is the way to monitor Pakistan? Huh?
    We could bomb Afaghan to rubble (which we are already doing)and when it seeped back to life it would come back exactly as it is now. It has no water, it has one mineral it mines, the average life span of an Afaghan is 44 years.
    Beyond stupid…just another way to create more terrorist, brew more chaos.
    I have a overwhelming urge to slap s*** out of anyone who talks about US security these days.
    I suggest instead of troops Obama take the 30 billion he promised Israel and give it to some NGO’s and entrepreneurs instead and send them to Afaghan to see if they can make anything out of that country that resembles a going concern for something other than poppy crops. Maybe they could partner with the Outward Bound for survival program trips and we could send congress there.


  7. JohnH says:

    DonS–you forgot postmodern foreign policy, which, using the literary definition, exhibits “ironic self-reference and absurdity.” Having lost its functional utility, US foreign policy can best be described as massive destructive power in search of worthy enemies, who ultimately prove irreductible, like Asterix the Gaulois.


  8. Bartolo says:

    “No nation welcomes an occupying force”
    Similarly, no western nation belongs in a land war in Asia.


  9. DonS says:

    Afghanistan and Obama. Centrist, realist, neoliberal, neocon, post-industrial? Echoing others: exactly what is the strategy? Not that I’m holding my breath.


  10. DonS says:

    Geez Ben, don’t you know its impolite to ask real quetions of a president-elect whose significant appeal just now is the “trust me” thing?
    Actually, to me, it sounds like the US is trying to prevent an “exit stage left” repeat of the Soviet fiasco, and that its not going well.


  11. JohnH says:

    Katcher’s comment is akin to political heresy, kind of like pointing out that the emperor has no clothes. When was the last time that strategic goals were candidly and openly discussed within the beltway? Why would the foreign policy/national security mob bother to tell we the people about the reasons for occupying Afghanistan, when they still haven’t come clean on the reasons for eternally occupying Iraq?
    While I agree that this needs to be done, honest discussion will most likely reveal either a) the vacuousness behind current strategic thinking or b) the crass commercial motivations behind current policies that are generally devoid of any particular strategic logic.
    Calls for honesty and clarity in strategic thinking by Washington will most likely be met with the same response as good deeds, which never go unpunished.


  12. Don Bacon says:

    Washington is the principal base of international terrorism.
    from the DOD Dictionary:
    terrorism: The calculated use of unlawful violence or threat of unlawful violence to inculcate fear; intended to coerce or to intimidate governments or societies in the pursuit of goals that are generally political, religious, or ideological.


  13. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “The longer term strategic issues with respect to Afghanistan are difficult — the only thing we really need from that country is that it not be a base for international terrorism”
    Now there you go, giving short shrift to the value of heroin. Are you really proposing that we lose an important source of funding for the monsters under our employ??


  14. TonyForesta says:

    Forgive the double post, but for clarity, I meant to say: –
    (The political injustice of imposing socalled democracy upon any nation by force with the tip of a spear is futile, imperialitst, predatory, and tryanical.) – not too mention immoral.


  15. TonyForesta says:

    Obama made an good point today with Brokaw that (I don’t have the exact quote) no nation welcomes an occupying force. Defeating al Quaida and the sundry malignant mutations of jihadits islam (LET) for example will require both political and military or kinetic approaches. Imposing puppet governments and thrusting some perveted form of democracy down the throats of any foreign nation is TYRANNY and IMPERIALISM, – not liberation or democracy.
    Hopefully, the Obama team will focus on the diplomatic side to ecourage, not force something like democracy on other nations. The American shapeshifting form Democracy by the way is a suspect model currently, politically, economically, legally, and morally. In fact it could be successfully argued that the idea and definition of democracy must be revisited and redefined, – because the American model currently is a FAILURE on many fronts.
    On the kinetic side, the untamed regions borderinig Afghanitsan and Pakistan where our enemies operate, is probably the most rugged and inhospitable warspace on earth. Pouring thousand of troops in uniform and tons of hardware into this hellhole is suicidal. The US military is and has been for a long while conducting “holding operations” in Afghanistan. Clinging onto whatever frontier turf they can and defending the major cities and critical villages along supply lines. Special and covert ops, intelligence operations, and surgical air strikes present the best approaches for hunting, capturing, or perferrably killing threats in these area’s.
    By removing the political injustice of imposing socalled democracy upon any nation by force with the tip of a spear is futile, imperialitst, predatory, and tryanical.
    Focus on ruthlessly eliminating threats, (through intelligence, and covert and special ops, not huge land forces and thousands of soldiers roaming the country like legionares) – cease and desist erecting puppet governments and imposing socalled democracy on any other nation, – and allow that nation, and it’s polation the oxygen to reject the malignant perverted policies and practices of the taliban and the jihadist freaks and mass murderes and form their own governments and societies. American policies currently do not allow or afford Afghanistan’s or Pakistan’s governments or their respective citizenry any reasonable alternatives to rejecting foriegn occupiers, and supporting native warlords, – even if those warlords are mass murderers and criminals.
    America can never win the hearts and minds of any population as an occupying force.


  16. Zathras says:

    The longer term strategic issues with respect to Afghanistan are difficult — the only thing we really need from that country is that it not be a base for international terrorism, but it’s hard to see how little we can get away with doing there and achieve that objective.
    However, the immediate tactical situation couldn’t be clearer — we can’t talk about more troops in Afghanistan without talking about fewer American troops in Iraq. Being cautious and prudent and all the rest of it about not jeopardizing the interests of Iraqis by withdrawing American troops from that country means being reckless about Afghanistan and the US/NATO force there now. A 4,000 soldier reinforcement in Afghanistan is close to trivial; to make a major impact against the Taliban many times that number would be needed, and because of the commitment in Iraq they are not available.
    I’ve said here for some time that the commitment in Iraq needs to be liquidated in any event, and I don’t propose replacing it with an equally large and enduring commitment in Afghanistan. However, the urgent needs of the moment have to be met, and they can’t be as long as we have so many Americans sitting around to deter Iraqis from killing one another.


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