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AdLib On October - 30 - 2009

800px-Afghanistan_17I mentioned in a comment earlier that I heard a sobering interview with Matthew Hoh on NPR that was very convincing about why we should leave Afghanistan. Matthew Hoh is the U.S. Diplomat who resigned in protest over our war in Afghanistan (did he think he was Joe Biden or what?).

He pointed out that he had been in different parts of the nation, his job was to meet with warlords and leaders and try to encourage them to join with the U.S. and oppose the Taliban. He said, very simply, they don’t want us there. Not to protect them, not to nation build, not at all. How do you nation build when the nation doesn’t want to cooperate? My response is, if they don’t want it and we’re doing it for ourselves, isn’t something terribly wrong? He also noted that we are pouring billions we don’t have (and are borrowing from China among others) and losing valuable American lives to “win” a war where “winning” has never been defined as to what that would be.

Peaceful occupation by the U.S. for the foreseeable future?

More fraudulent elections with corrupt leaders?

And coming on the heels of all of this is the news that Ahmed Wali Karzai, the brother of the Afghan president, has been receiving CIA money while receiving money from his heavy involvement in the poppy and opium trade in Afghanistan…the profits of which finance the Taliban and their battle against our troops.

I can’t remember the specific quote but Hoh basically said that those higher up in intelligence and the military in Afghanistan deal with these corrupt people because “everyone’s corrupt over there”. And we believe we can turn Afghanistan into the U.S.? Okay, maybe Texas or Oklahoma but that’s it.

Hoh was asked about Hillary Clinton’s comments that if the Taliban took over the country, Al Qaeda would be back in force swiftly. He respectfully disagreed and said that Al Qaeda has evolved away from what they were in 2001, they are now a virtual movement on the internet and around the world in many places (including Pakistan). He explained that they have learned from the past and would not concentrate themselves in one area like that again…which to me makes perfect sense. If they mindlessly did so, we should leave Afghanistan anyway, wait for them all to gather there (I can just see them waving up at the satellites spying on them in their RV convoy) and attack them all. But they won’t.

In contrast to Al Qaeda, Hoh said the U.S. is has not evolved and is still fighting the Al Qaeda of the 1990’s. Anyone who has taken their shoes off at an airport can testify to this (we’re trying to prevent the past from attacking us again!).

Truly, there is no attainable “victory in Afghanistan and we can’t afford the 500,000 troops it would probably take to knock down the Taliban. Meanwhile, Al Qaeda and the Taliban are trying to take over Pakistan…which has nuclear weapons!

Pres. Obama often said in the campaign that Bush took his eye off the ball in Afghanistan when he went to war in Iraq and he was right. The thing is, during that time Afghanistan had no eye on it, Al Qaeda relocated to a more southern climate in Pakistan. Now Pres. Obama turns to Afghanistan and we are fighting the Taliban…who certainly gave aid and comfort to Al Qaeda but were not the actual ones who attacked us on 9/11.

The ball is in Pakistan now and it’s radioactive. I sincerely think Pres. Obama’s eye should be on it there and elsewhere in the world where Al Qaeda is strong  instead of primarily on Afghanistan.

Categories: Featured, News & Politics

Written by AdLib

My motto is, "It is better to have blogged and lost hours of your day, than never to have blogged at all."

45 Responses so far.

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  1. LITU says:

    One can only hope that the western negotiators appreciate the business savvy of the warlords when they sit down to spell out for them how it’s gonna be. I think this fundamental factor will ultimately undermine any effort to modernize or westernize these independent people. After all, they have all the time in the world. Profits must be up from this year’s bumper crop. The infidels are losing support. The West will give them money and things in exchange for faux-promises and will leave. Then life will go on for the warlords and the millions who follow them.

    How else can it be? By and large, these people (Afghans) don’t want what the West has to offer. These leaders are businessmen, tried and true.

  2. KarateKid says:

    I’m going to be the contrarian here by saying there is nothing good that is going to come from our involvement in Afghanistan. We are sacrificing more lives for something that will not last, which is the Karzai government, if we leave.

    What was the lesson we learned in Vietnam? That Vietnamization did not work because they weren’t as committed as Ho Chi Minh and his supporters, and nothing we did mattered in the end, except for the 58,000 and their families, who came back in bodybags or were never found.

    We have to stop being the cops of the world, especially when there are so many problems here at home, with our own security issues, like the ports which allow for a deluge of drugs and other things to get through.

    The USSR suffered 15,000 casualties and 35,000 wounded (that’s what they admit to) and over 1 million Afghans perished in ten years, and shortly thereafter came the end of the Soviet Union.

    While I find it noble our concern for Afghan citizens, is it worth bankrupting our coffers and costing us thousands more in lives to help them? Where does it end. Who’s next, the oppressed people of ……?

    Sorry, ask any vet who has been through combat, and you won’t find too many that will support warfare. Unless you’ve been where we’ve been, you have NO idea what that is like.

  3. KevenSeven says:

    Tuckered. Good night.

  4. AdLib says:

    Okay, the Taliban are violent, hateful, extremist, chauvinist, ultra-religious fanatics. They are, as a group, an oppressive, threatening and dangerous organization.

    However, there are horrible, murderous people all around the world, even others who hate America. We certainly can’t afford nor have the troops and resources to “end evil” as Bush claimed he was doing (guess he felt since God made him President and he knew so well how to perpetrate evil, he could figure out how to stop it).

    My proposition is this, although we can agree that The Taliban are murderous and vicious and dangerous, what if in fact U.S. military force is not an approach that can defeat them?

    What if that basic proposition is true? That no amount of military force can destroy a loosely knit, far flung group scattered across mountains and rugged countrysides?

    What if we are trying to put out a light bulb by blowing harder on it? What if our current approach is thinking “If only we had 500,000 people trying to blow out the light bulb, it surely would go out!”

    I think history and our recent experience supports my proposition, military force just doesn’t work in Afghanistan to dominate the country.

    So, do we just stay there anyway so as not to lose face or to keep the hope alive that one day we’ll be able to put out a light bulb by blowing on it?

    As I mentioned in my response to AlphaBitch (who I think is incredible in her knowledge and insights about Afghanistan), I’d instead suggest we create a Green Zone in Afghanistan that was an entire city, a size that our forces could truly protect from the Taliban.

    Then allow citizens who don’t want to live under the Taliban, to move there. Build the schools and hospitals and social infrastructure for a fraction of what we’re spending now and will doubtless spend in the future.

    This could be the way to defeat the Taliban, from the inside. If such an area grew in population, had a police force and Afghan military developed, we could finally leave.

    If the Green Zone City was a success, it could expand and/or other Green Zone cities could pop up elsewhere in the country.

    And as the numbers and cities grew, the Taliban influence and thereat would be reduced.

    One of the main reasons young boys join the Taliban is poverty and no future. Start nullifying that and recruitment drops. Not to mention what it will mean to the society to have kids getting good educations and a thriving city to find work in.

    And if the U.S. is responsible for helping make that happen, we would be seen as benefactor, The Taliban would lose the ability to recruit based on the resentment and hatred of the U.S. and in fact, it would be the other way around, I think the Afghan people would feel very positively towards the U.S., as a partner.

    This is all pie in the sky, I know, but it’s an approach that at least makes sense to me.

    • KevenSeven says:

      I’ve heard stupider ideas.

      But one city would not do it. Your proposal sounds a lot like what Obama is said to be considering.

      One ugly fact is that any presence beyond a few thousand special ops would entail fighting and American casualties. And America is losing patience with this. On a purely cynical political slant, the Dems will suffer politically if we do withdraw. The Rethugs will shout it to the roof tops.

      I don’t want to run away from Afghanistan, but I have no good solution to the issue.

      The fact is that there is not a decent road in the whole country. Some Afghani farmer grows grapes or tomatoes, loads them in the truck, by the time he gets to market he has juice to sell.

      They grow poppies because they get to market whole.

      Why don’t we buy all the poppies? Seeing as they are GOING to grow poppies.

      • AdLib says:

        Wait till my next idea, THEN you can say you’ve really heard stupider ideas before.

        I agree that we are all fatigued by the war but if such an approach as I described was attempted, Pres. Obama could explain that we are no longer pursuing a strategy of war but of rebuilding Afghanistan, I think attitudes would change.

        And we could bring many of our soldiers back home, we wouldn’t need an enormous amount of troops for protecting limited areas that could be well fortified and defensively prepared.

        I started this proposal as a shot in the dark but the more I discuss it, the more it’s growing on me.

    • KQuark says:

      The problem is one of proximity to hot spots as well. Somalia has militants but they are not as big a threat because of where they are located. I agree with all the arguments about positive efforts making less terrorist.

      But face it where did most of the terrorist come from on 911? Saudi Arabia and Egypt that have more schools and hospitals than Afghanistan. But it wasn’t until they could congregate in a country that was not contained where they became a real threat.

      I thinks it’s just as pollyanic a view that the terrorists will love or even accept us just by being nice to them as it is that we can fight them into submission.

      • AdLib says:

        Actually, you’re off the mark here.

        Where did the 9/11 terrorists train for their attack? In the United States! That’s where they got their training to fly planes into buildings.

        They weren’t on the monkey bars in Afghanistan. They didn’t train in Afghanistan to learn how to open box cutters.

        This is what people forget, the terrorists who attacked us did indeed come primarily from Saudi Arabia, a non-democratic oppressive regime…that is seen by the people as being protected and propped up by the U.S..

        The lesson American leaders forget is that if you are in bed with people who oppress their citizens, those citizens see you as oppressing them just as much if not behind it all.

        So my suggestion does address some of what caused 9/11. If Saudi’s saw us standing up to The Taliban oppressing their people AND we then turned to Saudi Arabia and got firm with them on reversing their oppression of their own people AND we stopped occupying nations in the region, we would be reducing the hostility against us in Saudi Arabia too.

        What Obama needs is out of the box thinking. McCrystal is trying to take us down the road to another Vietnam. We can’t win militarily against terrorism. We just can’t.

        We need a more holistic and realistic approach to terrorism.

        • KevenSeven says:

          The Saudi regime exists because of deranged religious fundamentalists.

          Three hundred years ago the Wahabi sect sprang up and the corrupt forebear of the Saudi “royal” family struck a bargain. Let me become king and I will make you the official state religion, with a monopoly.

          Saudi Arabia in many ways is one of the most primitive societies on Earth. Sure as hell is no place to be a woman.

          One cannot conduct a war against terrorism. Terrorism is a tactic, like hitting the enemy on the flank is a tactic.

          Deranged religious extremism is a movement. One can fight movements.

          Although I agree that the war on deranged religious extremists is first a law enforcement and intelligence issue, and a military issue well behind that, the fact is that the FBI is not going to arrest bin Laden. That would be special forces if we ever get the bastard in the bag.

          • AdLib says:

            I’m fine with that. Can we add in your amendment in committee and get a vote on this on Monday?

            Really would like to end the war in Afghanistan by next weekend if possible.

            • VegasBabe says:

              LMAO. I like your “take” on things and I concur, let’s rap this business up by next week-end, absolutely no later than that! As for nations being more “primitive” than ours, so was our nation at one time. Unless they ASK for our help, and that neednt include the loss of american lives, I say we stay the hell outta of it. The russians are supposedly a pretty tough group and they couldn’t do shit with those Afghanistans. It’s embarassing to witness our nation trying to when they haven’t even the committment from the american people for that. As we continue to deplete our resources, and lose this war to boot, someone, somewhere needs to get a head on their shoulders and say, ENOUGH!

    • nicole473 says:

      Your approach makes the most sense of ANY that I have read.

      Because that war is unwinnable in a conventional sense, because we are not really doing much that is helpful to the Afghan people, and because it is unlikely that we can change the dynamic there even if we stay for a hundred years, your approach makes the most sense.

      Especially to those of us who feel some responsibility but recognize the reality.

      Thank you, AdLib, for articulating this so well.

      • AdLib says:

        Thanks Nicole!

        My point is that we should try to do only what we can accomplish and something that has a beginning and an end.

        I’m also sensitive to the issues AlphaBitch raises, after all we’ve done to encourage Afghans to be democratic and stand up to the Taliban, to just bail on them seems cruel.

        But at the same time, we can’t let the war drain our military and finances.

        Instead of trying to stop what we can’t stop, we could just focus on improving life as best we can and gradually, over many years, there could be many positive things that result.

  5. AlphaBitch says:

    As I stated before, the dozens of Afghans I have met (and I keep in touch with probably a dozen or more on a regular-several-times-a-week basis) all want the same thing: security, good governance and education. Going in to supply humanitarian aid without first securing areas is a wasted effort, in my opinion. We can build all the schools we want, and they can easily destroy them. And even if they leave the structure, the Taliban can use the facility to store weapons with which to attack and kill ISAF soldiers (google Sally Goodrich/Peter Goodrich Foundation) or threaten and intimidate teachers. Many have been killed for the simple crime of teaching in a girl’s school. Not to mention what they do to the young girls seeking an education.

    If you did not do so, PLEASE read George Crile’s book on Charlie Wilson’s War. Skip the movie; Charlie and Joanne saw that they were not painted in an unfavorable light. Joanne Herring loved Zia al-Haq, the Pakistani leader who funneled money into his own pockets first, and then to the mujahideen. 90% or so of the money the US gave went to Gulbuddin Hekmatyr, the warlord now living in Pakistan and who FIRST threw acid on mini-skirt wearing girls attending Kabul University in the 1970s. (NOTE: Also look at the book Bed of Red Flowers, to see for yourself how Afghanistan -- at least in Kabul -- was NOT always in the seventh century)

    I hate bullies. I have taught my children that a society will be judged by how it treats the least powerful and disadvantaged among its citizens. I still believe this.

    So giving it over to the warlords/Taliban to massacre the people as they did during their civil war (post Charlie Wilson’s war and pre-Taliban), and letting it thrive as a narco-state, just makes me sad.

    True, we cannot police the world. Nor should we. But I feel some responsiblity to the people there. It is my understanding that around 90% supported the US when we arrived in 2001; they watched as nothing happened (in terms of nation rebuilding like water/electricity/hospitals/schools), and warlords were given positions of power, and all our attention was focused on Iraq. That percentage of approval has fallen dramatically to slightly under 50% today. I don’t know how or even if we can improve our image. But I think we owe it to the people whose lives are on the line for trusting us to figure out some way to help. All I can do is my part here, which I intend to continue, and try to save those left behind.

    • AdLib says:

      Wow. Very enlightening and powerful.

      All your points are excellent. The crux here as you pointed out is that without controlling Afghanistan, building up the social infrastructure is a waste and would soon be destroyed by the Taliban.

      Yet I think most of us hate the idea of turning our backs on the people who would be helpless under the rule of The Taliban.

      But if it is in fact not possible to win the kind of control that would be necessary, maybe the focus should be on the humanitarian side and figuring out a way for people to escape that.

      Though I’m sure there are many political and ethical issues with doing something like this, what if the U.S. and its military, instead of trying to fight back the Taliban in the whole country, focused on a specific section of the country that we COULD protect and build a social infrastructure?

      It would cost a fraction of what we’re spending now to help relocate people there who wanted to go. Yes, it would be massive social engineering and asking people to leave where their families may have lived for many generations but it wouldn’t have to be mandatory. If people wanted to stay in Taliban controlled sections, they should be free to do so.

      Afghanistan is an artificial country anyhow. Why not recognize the reality of it really being a patchwork of different tribes and peoples?

      That’s all I can think of right now to help the people with a realistic approach.

      I don’t believe we can use our type of military force to solve this problem. And staying there because we’re afraid of what might happen if we leave is a quicksand trap which has helped and is still dragging our nation down.

      We can’t sustain this as it is and we can’t accept indefinite war for that reason.

      Just looking for a realistic and limited approach.

    • KQuark says:

      Excellent post I learned allot from it.

      I feel leaving Afghanistan the way it is, is worse than leaving Iraq because at one time Iraq did have a structured society. I know what we can do is limited but I just don’t want to leave female Afghans with the Taliban types again.

  6. Disuberence says:

    It’s interesting that so many people have fallen for the Taliban bogeyman. Only 10% of the insurgent fighters in Afghanistan are religiously motivated Taliban supporters.

    The rest are nationalists looking to kick the invaders out. Well, them and the various tribes. In a country made up of 400+ tribes, tribal warfare is a permanent part of life.

    Trying to force these tribes to fall in line with the idea of a central government is next to impossible.

    A fool’s errand.

    • KQuark says:

      That’s what America mistakenly thought after the Russian occupation. Why didn’t the Afghan nationalists take over that time?

      The militants will try to reestablish the Taliban government if we summarily withdrawal. The fact that these tribes exists means that the Taliban who is the only cohesive group will take over again.

      • Disuberence says:

        This isn’t after anything, though. This is based on current intelligence reports.

        90% of the insurgents simply wants us out.

        • KQuark says:

          I don’t disagree with that point at all. But those 90% will just go back to their warlord ways and what central government there is will be taken by the Taliban. That is the same thing that happened in 1990.

          • Kalima says:

            When something bad happens in this world, we shouldn’t turn our heads away like we did in Dafur, it becomes everyone’s business unless some of us genuinely don’t give a shit about the sufferings of other human beings.

        • Kalima says:

          Of course they do, then it will be back to business as usual terrorizing the ordinary Afghans, stopping girls from getting an education, killing people who they think are not religious enough and letting husbands brutally rape their wives, even killing them without fear of punishment if they don’t comply.

          But it’s not our business of course.

      • KevenSeven says:

        And the Tali appear to be willing to fight dirtier than anyone else.

    • Kalima says:

      Tell that to the thousands of women and girls who have suffered humiliation, beatings and death at the hands of the Taliban over the years.

  7. FlyingLotus says:

    Hi to all,

    I’ve had little time for blogging this last month or so.

    I caught a snippet of the Hoh interview.Thanks, AdLib for filling in the blanks.

    I can’t pretend to have the answers to Afghanistan, I’m simply not that smart.It reminds me of those episodes on Animal Planet where they go into the home of a hoarder.A stinking mess that has been festering for years.However, there is a clear cut plan as to how to deal with that mess.Afghanistan is far more complicated.

    I am truly angered when I think of all the piles of shite Bu$h Inc. left behind.To think what president Obama could have accomplished had he inherited the surplus that the Bu$h cabal squandered.

    I don’t envy the weighty burdens and decisions Obama has to shoulder.I was encouraged to see him not be pushed into any decisions regarding that region.He’s not a trigger happy cowboy and for that I am grateful and yes, dare I say, hopeful.

    I know, I know, call me Pollyanna.

    • AdLib says:

      Hey FlyingLotus! Long time no see! And your long lost sister says hello.

      It is very upsetting to think about how Bush burdened Obama’s presidency with so many terrible things but teo things to keep in mind.

      If McCain had won, the Bush disasters would still be there but we would have sunk into a horrible depression because McCain and the Repubs’ only answer to the economy was tax cuts and no stimulus. And we’d be ready to go to war with Iran…well…not really ready but they’d be rattling the sabres and pissing off the world even more.

      And secondly, if Bush hadn’t destroyed the nation as he did every company he ran, I really don’t know that a black man named Barack Obama would have been elected president.

      Of course I wish Iraq and the derivative crisis never happened but if they hadn’t, I don’t think enough Americans would have been willing to make such a big step.

      • FeloniousMonk says:

        I sometimes think that perhaps six more months of a Bush administration would have been a good thing in that by then everything would have been so bad and many who have yet to perceive suffering would have and then more would be behind the dynamic changes which we really need. Unfortunately, many never felt the level of loss that would bring that and so speak as if everyone is still weathering all this in an acceptable manner. But I also realize that those on the bottom who bear the brunt of all economic drops would bear even more, and they did not need it.

      • FlyingLotus says:

        True enough.It just seems a shame, we as a country have to take a hundred steps back before we take one step forward.

        Huh, wait where did Pollyanna go?

        Say hello to my long lost sis.When things calm down we should have a get together.It’s been coo coo for coco puffs.

        Cheers!

  8. HITO says:

    There are unlimited dimensions to the Afghan conflict. All must be considered.

    “One can only pray

  9. KevenSeven says:

    Is Afghanistan really a country? Can it be governed?

    I agree with Quark, that the Tali is a threat. Recognizing a thing being a threat is not the same as advocating a massive military action.

    I think only half a million could not even remotely get the job done. We had that many in the Nam and the Vietnames kicked our ass up one side and down another.

    But I am uncomfortable with an idea of just running away. I want the potential to hit the deranged religious extremists to remain. But how are we to do that? I would not care if we respect their “sovereignty”, as long as we did not have a large foot print there.

    If we could be based in another Stan, we could get a strike force in and out quickly. But we could not sustain a large force, and we need to realize that no matter where we maintain troops, they will attract attack.

    I would like very much to see the Israelis come to the table with the Palis, and I could care less about the Palis shooting rockets at the Israelis. We Americans lynched Tories during the revolution. The Israeli state was produced in no small part by the Jews conducting the first modern campaign of terror against the Brits (letter bombs in Britain). Nobody gets to pretend to stink-free chit. The two state solution needs to move forward, in order to give the deranged religious extremists one less propaganda point to whip up hatred against us.

    So many more thoughts. This is ugly beyond consideration. Ugly complex.

  10. Kalima says:

    Afghanistan has become unmanageable due to years of neglect and underfunding by the Bush gang. Catching up would be almost impossible now as all of the necessary force was diverted to the illegal invasion of Iraq and their dreams of “grab it” oil fields.

    Yes we should be pulling out but when there is some semblance of a decent, lawful government there. I think that there should be much more attention given to rebuilding the infrastructure, when people have what they need for their daily lives, there is less chance of them wanting to fight.

    As with Iraq, we barged in on a gut reaction after the horrors of 9/11, although Iraq had nothing to do with it, and everyone forgot to study the people, their culture and of course the depth of their religious beliefs.

    Yes we should think about pulling out but at the back of my mind, I don’t believe in totally devastating a country and leaving it without some sort of stability, it seems like hit and run to me.

    The crazy Taliban still have enough power to pose a threat, especially to the people of Afghanistan.

  11. KQuark says:

    There probably are no good answers with Afghanistan and that’s the problem. I think it’s a region that has to be contained because no matter what we do the region will be a place where real threats exist. Anything we do there should be limited by understanding that no matter what we do the results will be limited as well. The real problem like you said is that we have no good partners over their in the Afghan government or people. Anything we do has to have a well defined exit strategy associated with it.

    I would not let the Taliban of the hook like that. The more than just enabled Al Qaeda. They constructed a country that was Al Qaeda’s world view. To me they are our enemies as well because they are the realized vision of Al Qaeda.


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