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AdLib On November - 24 - 2009

800px-Air-assault_mission_in_Paktika_province
President Obama is going to announce his plans for Afghanistan after Thanksgiving.

It may be ironic that by then we will be done giving thanks.

Word right now is that the military anticipates over 30,000 more soldiers being sent there. Pres. Obama will present his decision and reasoning to the country in a national address.

There are many considerations that have gone into this decision but two key questions many have are on the basic premise of the war and what signals that we have succeeded and can the end of the war.

First, let’s consider what the premise of the war is. Is it to defeat The Taliban there? Is it to destroy Al Qaeda there? Is it to help build the country’s infrastructure? Is it to help ensure an honest democratic government (when we get one, let me know)?

Pres. Obama will present us with what his premise is for our continuing the war. Doubtless, he will mention the need to confront those who attacked us on 9/11. The problem with that premise is that they are most likely in Pakistan. Another probable premise is to help free the people of Taliban control. The problems with that premise are numerous.

First, The Taliban in Afghanistan are not a united group, they are a collection of warlords, religious fanatics, local tribes, etc. The Taliban fighters are experienced in guerrilla force, using their knowledge of their native terrain against our military. Sound familiar to certain unwinnable war in the ’70’s?

Second, our goal then is to spend blood and treasure on freeing the people of Afghanistan from Taliban control…so they can instead be under the control of a corrupt dictatorship masquerading as a democracy? If we are fighting there to put the people under the thumb of the corrupt Karzai, are we really the good guys in this?

Third, we supposedly defeated the Taliban after 9/11. They regrouped and grew back to a formidable force. Why would we expect any different result after we “defeated” them again?

Let me propose a few premises and questions:

a. Fighting a war to permanently destroy The Taliban has proven futile in the past and may very well be proven futile again.

b. Al Qaeda has evolved, they no longer have training camps with monkey bars. They no longer are physically centralized anywhere (they have the internet and are loosely spread around the world), certainly not in Afghanistan. However, a big contingency of Al Qaeda are now in Pakistan.

c. Pakistan has nuclear weapons. Afghanistan has rocks. Which country would pose more of a threat if Al Qaeda took it over?

d. With our military stretched thin and our treasury at a breaking point, how can we afford to continue pouring billions a month into nebulous wars? Isn’t this drain on our government and military readiness a substantial threat?

e. If the end game is to beat back the Taliban so the illegitimate government can control the country, how is that really an end when our military would need to remain to hold back the Taliban from returning to control as has happened before?

f. While we focus most of our military and resources in Afghanistan fighting the Taliban, could we pay a price for not instead applying them to fight Al Qaeda in Pakistan?

There is one huge issue here as well, the humanitarian issue. Real human beings, especially women and children are suffering under Taliban. If the U.S. were to pull out, could we leave these people at the mercy of The Taliban? We don’t have to and we shouldn’t.

Now I don’t plan on running for President until 2016 so I won’t be in a position to implement my plan in the near future but I do have a doable proposal that has a real exit plan.

My proposal is to first accept reality. We can’t kill all the Taliban. We can’t control all of Afghanistan anymore than the Soviets or the many others throughout history who have tried. So we shouldn’t be fighting to gain control of the country.

However, we can create and protect safe zones, Green Zones, as we did in Iraq. But instead of creating them to protect a U.S. occupation, we could create them for The Afghan people. We could begin by creating one safe and protected community at a time, training Afghans to take over the duties of protection and policing and spend a fraction of what we’re spending now on the war on building a functional infrastructure in that town. Schools, running water, electricity (solar and wind energy would do quite well there). Money could be spent to relocate businesses and people (especially the vulnerable women and children) to this Green Zone and there would be the prospects of a decent life for its citizens.

Once one Green Zone city flourishes, another could be supported in another part of the country. The cycle could continue and if successful, could allow the Afghans themselves to eventually finance and manage the modernization and prospering of their own nation.

And as for the Taliban, as opportunity and jobs grow for young men, as more can make a decent living and enjoy their lives, fewer and fewer will be poor and desperate pawns to be prayed upon for recruitment by The Taliban.

The approach to some big problems is sometimes micro-solutions. By taking on a big task we can’t accomplish, we help no one. By taking on the same goal with a series of smaller, achievable and finite missions, we are helping people along the way as we proceed to the overall goal of helping many more.

BTW, your campaign contributions to Adlib 2016 are not tax deductible.

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. Mogamboguru says:

    America will leave Afghanistan the same way Soviet Russia did in 1989 some day soon.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soviet_war_in_Afghanistan

    Like one rooftop-experience in Saigon hadn’t been enough to learn, what to do and what to leave…

  2. Mogamboguru says:

    The only fact that counts is, that the Afghans want the NATO-forces -- ALL NATO-forces -- OUT of Afghanistan ASAP.

    There is no “tweedledee, tweedledumm!”: The message is clear as glass: GET OUT ASAP!

  3. AlphaBitch says:

    a. The one thing that has not been considered, in my opinion, is that unlike in the past (Russia, British, etc), we now have technology. And by that, I don’t mean bombs. I mean computers, internet, cell phones. During the Taliban -- in 2000 -- one of my children remarked that they had a satellite dish and could watch the news, but that they had to put up and take down the dish in the dark, away from the Taliban’s watchful eyes. Now? There are internet cafes, and computer stores everywhere. There are cameras to document happenings -- both good and bad (remember: no images of ANY animal or human allowed under Tb.) AND there are cell phones. In Kandahar, thousands of Pashtuns rioted against the Taliban when they took down the cell phone towers, fearing the U.S. was using GPS to track the insurgents. So technology is, like most things in life, a double-edged sword. But my experience is that American teens are not willing to get off the computer or cell phone. Take that, multiply it by x10, and you have an Afghan. Good luck to the Taliban trying to fit that genie back into the bottle.

    b. Yes, al-Qaeda is now more heavily focused in Pakistan. But don’t think for a minute that they would not return to Afghanistan. It’s much closer and more accessible than is Somalia or Yemen. Also, there is a huge animosity between non-Pashtun (and even among some Pashtun) Afghans and Pakistanis. Pakistani ISI is the cause of much of Afghanistan’s grief, and Afghans know this. If they can learn that it truly is the Pakistani madrassa fueled Taliban who are the “occupiers/invaders”, and if they are given the weapons to combat them with their own army, game over. The Afghan Army is respected; the police are horribly corrupt and distrusted. Putting time and effort into training the local army is essential.

    c. Pakistan is obviously more of a threat. It always amazed me that they were our “friend/ally”, while in truth they are the ones destabilizing Afghanistan. Why? Well, Pakistan (once part of India, remember) is very poor. India is a thriving, stable democracy. India hates Pakistan. Were Afghanistan to become a stable country, with some measure of economic success, it would represent MORE of a threat to Pakistan. Thus it is in Pakistan’s interest to keep Afghanistan destabilized. Now, of course, they are facing blowback on thier own country with extremists that they themselves have trained, fostered, protected and armed.

    d. Yes. But turning your back on a country and leaving it (see what happened after Charlie Wilson’s War) is also going to be costly to us. A few more 9/11s and we are toast financially. Either way it will be costly.

    e. See answer to a.

    f. The border is porous. Plus, I’m not sure that Pakistan will “allow” us to fight there, and we cannot invade a sovereign country without provocation (or rather: should not) Once the Taliban and al-Qaeda were two separate entities. They are now more blurred than you would like to imagine. Even though one wants only regional control (Taliban), and one wants to defeat the West and destroy Israel (al-Qaeda), they now share many of the same goals, thanks to the boon in narco-trafficking allowed by the Karzai government. The Taliban will be just as nasty to women and children, just as harsh on men, but with the international intent to produce and distribute drugs. Check out Columbia, Mexico -- these things spill over, too, guys.

    Again, thanks for tackling this. It’s a complex, complicated issue and I tend to agree with all of you on one thing or another.

    If anyone would like, I will have one of my students (and a smart one, to boot) staying with me over the holidays. I’ll get him to write a piece, or co-author the piece, from his perspective. I will have to protect his identity with a nom-de-plume, but my name is really NOT AlphaBitch anyways (at least on most days).

    Cheers and happy eating!

    • AdLib says:

      First, thank you so much for your enlightened and informed voice on Afghanistan!

      Second, please let your guest know we would consider it an honor and enormously valuable to have him share his thoughts, perspective and experience on all of this.

      Some thoughts on your points:

      a.My issue here is that if pushed to the wall, the Taliban can adapt out of desperation. Information and organizing through technology is not a silver bullet, as we unfortunately learned when Bush marched us towards war in Iraq, it didn’t help us stop him. It is definitely a strength but when families are faced with a Taliban threatening their lives at their door, they are still as vulnerable.

      b.I’ve heard theories on this and one theory is that it would be suicidal for Al Qaeda to concentrate again in Afghanistan because they could be decimated with another U.S. attack by being centralized. What I’ve heard and what makes sense strategically is that in the future, they would operate in small cells that are spread out.

      And truly, if Al Qaeda is foolish enough to congregate again back in Afghanistan, then we should indeed take them out quickly, we know the country a lot better now.

      Very good to hear that the Afghan Army is respected, that is very positive.

      c. It’s sad to consider the religious prejudice that partitioned India into two states but the cause and ramifications of that is evident in Pakistan today.

      What is hard to understand is why a nation like Pakistan was and is allowed to have nuclear weapons when it is unthinkable for Iran or North Korea to have them. Pakistan is less stable and has more fervant ideologues than Iran.

      d. I don’t agree with this argument. There is no evidence that we are preventing 9/11s by being at war in Afghanistan. Actually, since we are agreed that Al Qaeda is in Pakistan, if they wanted to attack again, our continued fighting in Afghanistan would not affect them at all.

      There is a financial reality, we can’t afford to sustain these wars indefinitely. Our country is falling apart and if we collapse, we can’t afford to help anywhere.

      It’s a terrible choice but if it means the economic hobbling of America for generations, do we keep spending on these wars?

      e. Right.

      f. I’m with you about not being in Pakistan but I’m thinking that we should be in southern Afghanistan and coordinate with the Pakistan Army to attack along the border from both sides.

      Putting policy issues aside, I have enormous respect for who you are and what you’re doing and am grateful to have your insight and perspective here at The Planet.

      A happy Thanksgiving to you, your family and your remarkable guest!

      • AlphaBitch says:

        Thanks so much! Please, don’t overstate my role. I respect these children and their families for being brave enough to take part in this program. I respect the host families, who open doors and hearts to a kid from halfway around the world, from a country people often mistrust. They encounter lots of obstacles, but hurdle them and move on. THEY are the ones to be respected and listened to. I’m just their friend/mother/sister/daughter (to quote one of them, describing my role to her and her role to me).

        As to a) I’m not saying technology has a role per se in the conflict, nor even in organizing. BUT I AM saying that this new found freedom will not be given up easily; and if the Taliban tries to destroy internet cafes, close computer stores, take away cell phones -- the people themselves would “take care of the Taliban”. I DO believe that. Afghans are tough, stubborn, independent (for you dog lovers: read the description of Afghan hounds -- the personalities do match up quite a bit, even though dogs are considered haram).

        b. I think you are right, but the devastation to all those civilians would be a nightmare for us, not al-Qaeda, and AQ is counting on this. you can almost hear it now: “The US attacks you one day, pretends to be your friend for a while, then attacks you again. Who ya gonna trust? Only a Muslim brother.” Now that would be a horrific recruiting tool in my mind for Muslims around the world. Same if we were dumb enough to attack Iran.

        c. TOTALLY agree

        d. Some truth to what you say -- in that we cannot prevent future attacks solely by fighting in Afghanistan. Guess I didn’t argue that point well. But refer to point C above -- the “on again, off again” commitment to help (starting in the 1980s w/ Charlie Wilson the biggest asshole on any planet, IMHO) will come to play. We can build all the schools in the world, all the clinics. They will either be blown up if not surrendered by “allies” there, or they will be commandeered for other purposes if not destroyed, should the Taliban/AQ regain power structure. Afghanistan is the THIRD poorest country in the world (the opium farmers make little; the narco traffickers are rich and they are Taliban). Our hand caused much of this mess, dating back to the Soviets. You break it, you bought it applies here more than anywhere else I’ve ever encountered. Don’t entirely disagree with you -- I’m just trying to present the other side of the coin, as it were.

        f) I’m all for setting up a trench with soldiers stationed every 10 feet, and then shooting anyone who tries to cross the border, if nothing else can be done to secure it. Kidding, but only somewhat. The border is a nightmare.

        The comment made which touched my heart most by the young man coming for Christmas was this:

        “Americans think there has been no progress for their seven or eight years. Trust me -- I lived there then and I live there now. I see how much better it is, every day. The problem is Americans just want everything to be settled quickly. Just because everything happens fast in America doesn’t mean it will happen fast in Afghanistan. It IS changing, but it will take us a long, long time. We have 5000 years of history to overcome.”

        I don’t think he wants the US to be there for 5000 years, but I do think he makes a point on our instant gratification addiction in this country.

        We’ll see what he says for himself when he is here. Thanks again for all your kind words. Picking up the other boy child at 6:30 PM.

        Happy T-day to you and yours, too; and thanks again for the site and intelligent conversation.

      • KQuark says:

        I just don’t understand one thing. You like to quote history about the Soviet occupation, but you seem to ignore history about Al Qaeda setting up base in Afghanistan.

        So what if we “know” about Afghanistan if we just leave altogether? Clinton knew Al Qaeda was a threat there before. Al Qaeda with the help of the Taliban will move back into Afghanistan.

        I don’t think 911 style attacks will happen because of other reasons. But our interest and allies will still be under threat of Al Qaeda. It’s not like under Clinton Al Qaeda did not attack us with impunity. Right now their command is stuck and I think we should keep it that way.

        Ask Charlie Wilson why Pakistan is able to have nuclear weapons. The CIA decided they could have them if Pakistan helped us get the Soviets out of Afghanistan.

        • AdLib says:

          My point and the proposition by some with expertise on Al Qaeda is that they have evolved as an organization, having learned their lesson from their near collapse when we attacked them in Afghanistan.

          The lesson learned from both the 9/11 attack and our response was that it was a mistake to concentrate themselves in a defenseless state like Afghanistan.

          Consider how easy it would be to devastate Al Qaeda again if they gathered in Afghanistan again. They are spread out around the globe, connected by the Internet. 9/11 proved that they don’t need to be a gathered army to carry out their agenda.

          In the minds of some, the conventional thinking about Al Qaeda is in essence trying to fight the last “war”, just as all the asinine airport security measures are trying to prevent previous attacks or attempts from being exactly duplicated.

          The problem with such a situation is that instead of properly anticipating what an adversary is doing and will do and attacking them in the most effective way, valuable resources and time can be wasted trying to fight the past.

          I tend to agree with the arguments that Al Qaeda would not go back to being how they were in Afghanistan before 9/11 and our staying there for that reason would be misguided.

          That’s not to say there aren’t other achievable and closed ended missions we shouldn’t pursue in Afghanistan but one must accept the possibility that the assumption and prediction that if we eventually pull out of Afghanistan, Al Qaeda will become a greatly increased threat to us, could be incorrect.

          As for Pakistan, appreciate your explanation on how it was sanctioned to become a nuclear power. My point was that the so-called standards for what countries should or shouldn’t have nuclear weapons is bullshit since Pakistan is as much a danger as Iran as a nuclear power.

    • escribacat says:

      Alpha — Very illuminating. From our perspectives here, it’s easy to dismiss the whole issue with simple solutions. Get out! Stay in! Surge! Drones! All I know is that I do not have a clear enough understanding of the situation to say what should be done. I only hope that Obama does!

      I think it would be fantastic if one of your students wrote an essay. I would very much like to see that. Did anyone else follow that Iranian blogger who was writing from Baghdad during the US invasion? I forgot his name but his accounts were riveting. It makes a huge difference to get the real human take on things from someone who has actually lived it.

      • AlphaBitch says:

        Hey escribacat! Last post of the night.

        As you know, I don’t have the answers. If I did, I would shout them from the rooftops. But I try and listen to the people most affected by what we do.

        Maybe I can get my sweet girl (the one whose photo I shared with you) to write. Her perspective is pretty powerful. Others I have worked with HATE U.S. troops there, and with good reason. But no one has the answers.

        Maybe if we just send them all computers and cell phones and keep them up to date on the world? For 30 years, they were denied connections with the “outside world”. Try Amish times a thousand. But every single one I’ve met loves, loves, loves having the ability to correspond with and learn from others. can’t say they are all like this, but all the ones I know are.

        Good night, escribacat. Love the avatar! I feel bad -- went on HP to note that I thought Joe Lieberman was Eeyore, then immediately thought of your cute li’l ass! Forgive me. Joe is Eeyore’s dung.

    • nellie says:

      AB, your posts are so informative and have given some depth to my limited understanding of this situation. I wish your posts could be part of the news reports on our involvement in Afghanistan. There is so much that most Americans — most politicians — don’t understand.

      Hearing from one of your students would be wonderful.

      • AlphaBitch says:

        Thanks, Nellie! I’ve shared stuff with Escribacat, and even a photo of one of my girls (on her private email -- not allowed to post on web site, even though each of those little devils have a FB page w/ photos).

        I’ll try and get this girl to write; her story will tug your heart. But she is here now, in college, and doing great. She will never give up on her country, and for that and many other reasons, I am proud.

        I’m falling asleep, so till tomorrow.

    • KQuark says:

      AB, I agree with you on every major point. You have opened my eyes to some things I had not even known about or considered like what was happening in Kandahar.

      There are no easy solutions in Afghanistan but to me at least any alternative where the Taliban and Al Qaeda are left to take over Afghanistan is unacceptable.

      • AlphaBitch says:

        On behalf of several of my girls, and their families, thank you.

        Did you look for that Beth Nielsen Chapman song? I found it on Amazon, and you can hear a bit.

        I love the fact that you love music. You’re also the bluegrass fan, right?

        • KQuark says:

          I forgot to look it up but I saved the link from music night. Bluegrass is my favorite kind of American folk music for sure.

          • AlphaBitch says:

            Guess what I got in the mail today? Jerry Christmas, from Mr. Douglas himself (and I’m assuming you know of him)

            I would really love you to hear all of Beth’s version of that song. You only get a snippet of it on Amazon, but better than nothing. It makes me all weepy.

            I’m friends w/ several bluegrass “kings”. They are amazingly wonderful people. We’ve been friends -- some of us -- for almost 25 years! I’ve gone to MerleFest and Telluride, Strawberry in Yosemite -- lots of great festivals.

            So one more thing in common.

            You are a good person, KQuark (although I have to admit -physics scares me and typing Quark is a little spooky, too!) I’m sorry to hear of your struggles and wish I could do something to help. Know that you are special to me, even if I do not “know” you -- your honesty and kindness speak volumes about who you are.

            It’s late. I’m pooped. and I go get an Afghan boy in Austin tomorrow to drag out to a ranch in the hill country for Thanksgiving. (Kind of a show and tell; for year, the folks have heard of my work with these kids, now they can meet one for themselves!) And I am thankful I have the chance to do it all.

            Good night, my friend. Sleep tight.

            • KQuark says:

              That sounds so cool. I have listened to him for sure. I’m not in any particular music scene. We use to go to concerts and other venues to hear banks allot more but my health has stopped all that. I pretty much listen to what I’m in the mood to listen to on satellite or mixes I make.

              You really do such great work. Giving people like you just amaze me because most folks are so tied up in their own lives.

            • Kalima says:

              I just sent them both again to the other account.

            • KQuark says:

              Crap I’ll check my other mail if you send it.

              Never mind I just got it.

            • Kalima says:

              KQ, I sent you an email at 9:25 this morning it came back not so long ago, usual problem. Could you please check your other account?

              Cheers.

              Actually make that 2 emails, the first one just came back for the second time, you might get the second one before Christmas.

  4. KevenSeven says:

    Not to rain on the parade too hard, but the Green Zones would be target one for suicide bombers. The distinction between the Green Zone in Iraq and the ones you suggest here, is that the Iraq Green Zone was primarily a hub of Westerners, doing military/diplomatic work.

    These Afghani Zones you propose would be home to any number of civilians. The whole trick of being an insurgent is to look like the civilians.

    And it sure sounds like a ghetto to me.

    I really do not see any solution that the American people would back up. The American people are willing to send the Afghanis a few dozen rolls of toilet paper and that is about it. We really are not going to hang with this.

    This is so like the abortion debate. Dog help the Rethugs if abortion is ever banned nation wide. And they know it. The last thing the Rethugs want is to win the abortion fight. They need their base inflamed. (Which can be a very painful condition, perhaps some ointment would help?)

    The Thugs know full well that Afghanistan is a black hole. They are just panting at the opportunity to declare Obama a failure in Afghanistan.

    Why that man wanted the job is beyond me.

    • AdLib says:

      Hey Kev!

      Disagree with you on this, Israel is a nation-sized Green Zone and represents the same kind of target you describe Green Zones in Afghanistan would be for terrorists.

      It would take the same kind of tight security and vigilence but it is proven to be doable.

      As for being a ghetto, I would argue just the opposite as evidenced by the Green Zone in Iraq which is where the most jobs are concentrated for citizens and the standard of living is highest.

      Hell, I would go for a Green Zone in L.A. right about now!

  5. KQuark says:

    To answer some of your questions and premises first.

    a. I agree there is no killing all the Taliban, but the Taliban and Al Qaeda can be contained. They are fighting a REAL international force not a nominal coalition like Iraq. A superpower, the US and a regional superpower, Pakistan were on the tribal group’s side during the Soviet occupation. Now both countries are fighting against them.

    b. Sure that’s the situation now because NATO is pushing Al Qaeda to the mountains from the Afghanistan side and Pakistan is pushing Al Qaeda from their side. Al Qaeda flows like water and will flow towards any place that is a power vacuum. So they will evolve again help the Taliban take over Afghanistan and set up base AGAIN if we have no containment strategy.

    c. The stability of the nuclear arsenal is directly related to the stability of the Pakistan government. Since Pakistan has become more aggressive and taken on the Taliban they have become MORE stable. This actually is a fact the generals may be using to justify more troops. All the terrorists needed were a place to plan and some boxcutters.

    d. This is a huge problem and I agree.

    e. Just like after every war we start “peacekeepers” always stay for a period of time. We still have friggin’ troops in Kosovo. That’s why you only fight the necessary wars.

    f. We’re already doing the drone attacks and I have no idea if they are effective. Are you suggesting we send resources in the form of troops?

    I definitely agree with the points you make about the humanitarian side of the issue. Frankly I’m disappointed many progressive folks refuse to recognize what an Afghanistan run by the Taliban will mean for the woman and children of the country.

    While I disagree with some of your premises I love your solution of containment. That’s the only realistic strategy we can take.

    To me more troops are not ever the biggest issue. I want to hear a a strategic plan that shows how we are going to contain this threat and leads to a draw down of the troops to a residual level.

    • AdLib says:

      By rebuttal to your well presented points:

      a. I don’t know if history would agree with the long term ability of containing fighters in Afghanistan (see: Soviet Union).

      Also, even if they could, such a containment would need to be maintained meaning we would be in Afghanistan year after year, billions and billions and American lives being spent with no end in sight.

      b.Agree with all you say here except regarding containment strategy, see my answer above.

      c. Indeed, though with the Taliban taking over lots of towns even near the capitol and a huge sympathetic population, things could change very quickly in Pakistan. We do need to strengthen our presence there since the billions we gave them to fight the Taliban, they stole and used towards defending themselves from India.

      d.Agreed.

      e. Yep, we really can’t afford to operate that way anymore with the way our place in the world economy has changed. We simply can’t afford to keep financing occupying forces after wars.

      f. I think our troops should coordinate with the Pakistan Army from the Afghanistan side of the border, to truly go after the people who attacked our country and are trying to take over Pakistan. Catch them in a squeeze from both sides.

      Appreciate your focus too on the humanitarian issues of our simply packing up and leaving. I do think my proposal, maybe in a substantially different form, is viable and addresses many of these issues…along with providing an actual exit strategy.

      • KQuark says:

        a. I don’t want to sound flip but what superpower is helping the Taliban now like back then? 2 million Afghans and tens of thousands of Soviets died in that war because both sides were well organized and funded. Sure there are elements of the Soviet occupation that apply but the magnitude is completely different.

        f. We have not coordinated that directly with the Pakistanis but you have to admit that since Obama has been in office they have done much more on their side of the border to secure their country.

        I think you proposed containment of key population centers is necessary. But I also think you have to chase the Taliban for a while at least until the US builds up these encampments and eventually need to be able to fend them. The only problem is Medieval Europe comes to mind with the green zone strategy but maybe that’s how you deal with securing tribes.

  6. escribacat says:

    Excellent breakdown of the situation, Adlib. Your idea about the Green Zones actually sounds like a viable plan — the only viable plan I’ve heard. I am anxious to hear Obama’s reasons for sending more troops, which just sounds crazy to me. I certainly hope he has a plan similar to yours or one just as compelling. I am also looking forward to hearing about the exit strategy.

    You are absolutely right when you say we cannot destroy the Tabliban and that women are sitting ducks when those guys are running the show. It also seems to me that our presence in Afghanistan is what sent the Taliban moving into Pakistan.

    And I love your line: Pakistan has nuclear weapons. Afghanistan has rocks.

    • AdLib says:

      Thanks escribacat!

      It’s like Wack a Mole, pound them in Afghanistan, they pop up in Pakistan. If they’re driven out of Pakistan, they’ll pop up elsewhere, maybe Indonesia.

      This is a conceptual problem for the linear thinkers, you can’t succeed with linear thinking. You have to think outside of the box.

      You can’t use force to stop a group that is not an army but a coalition of loosely affiliated hateful people around the world. They need to be stopped by cutting off their supplies of hopeless desperate recruits and tacit acceptance by others who resent the U.S..

      The gun will never solve this problem.

  7. Kalima says:

    Can you imagine that, a President who actually wanted time to think about what is the best for American soldiers, American interests, foreign policy and last but not least, the Afghan people?

    The people of Afghanistan want a secure government, that is number one, they want peace after decades of turmoil and lawlessness, they want education for their children, they want to work and live their lives without conflict, it is their right.

    The threat of the Taliban is real and if Georgie hadn’t neglected the war there, the Taliban might not have had the strength to regroup and take back the parts of the country they have gained. I see the problem as Pakistan and their government’s initial reluctance to disperse Al Qaeda and Taliban in their northern provinces, they were allowed too much freedom before they took root there. When you think of all the wasted aid money pumped in by the Bush gang for his imaginary “War on Terror” there, I think a lot of crooked politicians and military high ranking generals, must have been laughing all the way to the bank, just like Bush’s low tax rich cronies were in the U.S.

    • AdLib says:

      Agreed on all counts!

      When an accounting of all the evils that came from the Bush Admin is made, what must be in the first tier (which is very crowded)is Bush’s handing Afghanistan over to the Taliban and Al Qaeda…and not getting Bin Laden when he was cornered in Tora Bora.

      There can’t be a president to compare with how destructive Bush was to America and the world.

    • KQuark says:

      It’s amazing how people forget. For 7 years we had no strategy and minimal effort in Afghanistan. To me time zero in Afghanistan started when President Obama took office.

      • nellie says:

        It’s also amazing to me how forgiving people have been of the Bush failures. And instead heap all responsibility on Mr. Obama’s shoulders.

        • KQuark says:

          I think with one exception. If President Obama sends more troops to Afghanistan I think he properly owns the Afghan War now, since Bush just put off the problem. But I say that thinking a successful containment strategy is still possible.

        • Kalima says:

          The Bush gang’s policy about everything they did was “Hit and Run” nothing was planned past Plan A, remember in Iraq they expected flowers and candies.
          How could someone so stupid have been allowed to run a country for another 4 years, I don’t get the last 4 years at all, were people sleep walking?

  8. javaz says:

    Excellent article, AdLib, and quite thoughtful.

    I do like Bito’s ideas on taxing the wealthier among us, and even though I understand the reasoning for a draft, I just do not think it is feasible.
    The Democrats would lose every election for heaven knows how many years if they were to re-instate a draft.
    And then dog only knows how many wars the Republicans would start besides continuing in Afghanistan.

    The biggest fear that I have by continuing our presence in Afghanistan is the cost in American lives and money that we simply do not have.

    As you state, our economy and infrastructure are in shambles.
    States are broke and making drastic cuts in services -- fire fighters, police, education, roads, etc.
    States are already increasing taxes, while some are still cutting taxes on the corporations.

    Unemployment is at record highs, as is the poverty level.
    The middle class is shrinking while the top 3% have never seen such windfalls, yet they pay less in taxes than the middle class and working poor.

    I wish that I knew the solution, but I fear for our country for the first time in a very long time, if ever.

    We cannot sustain the debt for war, while allowing Americans to suffer from the effects of poverty, lower wages and higher health care costs, higher taxes and costs for higher education.

    You must be aware of the cost of college and the protests happening at Berkeley and UCLA.
    Soon, it will be only the rich that can afford college educations.

    I believe in country first, and it’s time to help Americans for the better of our country.

    I realize the terrorist threat, but there has to be a better way to secure safety than to keep spending billions, if not trillions, while Americans are suffering, going hungry and dying at home.

    The Taliban is already winning because this endless war is destroying US.

    • AdLib says:

      Basically, I agree with you.

      The cost of UC tuition rocketed up 35% overnight, pricing out many students from being able to afford an education.

      We simply can’t afford to continue paying billions for endless wars while our nation declines.

      At the same time, we’ve blown up lots of Afghanistan and Bush virtually rolled out the red carpet for The Taliban to return to power when he drained the military from there to fight his bullshit war in Iraq.

      So, we do have some responsibility for the damage their and for Bush installing Karzai as dictator. That’s why I think we should do something towards helping them have some kind of stability, even if it’s just a start.

  9. nellie says:

    AdLib, this sounds like a very workable plan.

    I joked with a friend after 911 that we should build a town square at the border with Pakistan where people could gather, market, live, feel safe. And then build another on the border with Turkmenistan, or any bordering country that would let us build a temporary base just inside the border. And keep building these areas until the entire border was enclosed, and then slowly work our way into the interior.

    Of course, it was just a pipe dream, but foreign aid is the approach I thought we should have taken. We spent a lot of money and lives just to let Osama Bin Laden escape at Tora Bora.

    I hear a lot of speculation from progressives about the Trans Afghanistan Pipeline for natural gas being the real reason we are staying in the area. I can only hope this is not true. We went to Iraq for Haliburton’s profit — not even for oil. I hope we have less cynical reasons for staying in Afghanistan.

    • AdLib says:

      Great minds think alike. Want to run with me in 2016?

      I do think the solution can’t be a focus on military but on stability.

      And creating a working, thriving community would be a great antidote to the vicious cycle of poverty and violence.

      • nellie says:

        Stability and infrastructure. I mean, people don’t have plumbing.

        That could be our platform. Stability and infrastructure — works well for the U.S., too!

  10. Jenuwin says:

    Perhaps you should run for President!

  11. BigDogMom says:

    AdLib, I love your ideas, too bad we have to wait 2016 for you to run!

    The idea of the Green Zones to me is a doable one, and a common sense solution, has anyone heard if this was on the table or not?

    • AdLib says:

      I haven’t heard of anything like that being discussed. Obama is in a squeeze, if he doesn’t send in troops he will be slandered as losing the war by Republicans.

      So, reason is walled off politically. Sad state of affairs.

      • Questinia says:

        Republicans are school marms without the sex appeal.

        When your reason is ruled by what Republicans might say, you might as well just adopt their ideology.

        Has anything they’ve ever said come true? They are all about branding, theatrics, deceit, anger, anxiety, paranoia and control.

        We could have a cracker jack health care system instead of this. I’m becoming cynical. Someone save me! This was not supposed to have happened.

  12. bitohistory says:

    My thought to the vast RW audience in the U.S. : put up or shut up.
    We, in order to advance or continue the Afghan war we will re-instate the draft and apply a 5% surtax on every one making more than $250,000.

    • AdLib says:

      You’re right on the money…literally.

      Proof that the Republicans are frauds on controlling spending. They only want spending controlled on issues they don’t support.

      Wars however, we can afford to give tax cuts in addition to billions a month in war spending.

      Make Republicans have to pay for war and we’d have peace.


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