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.

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


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


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!


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!

KQµårk 死神

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.


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?

KQµårk 死神

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.


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.

KQµårk 死神

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.


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?


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

KQµårk 死神

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

Never mind I just got it.


I just sent them both again to the other account.


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.


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.


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.


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.


LOL. All is forgiven!


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.

KQµårk 死神

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.


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.


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.

KQµårk 死神

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.


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.


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?

KQµårk 死神

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.


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, 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.


Perhaps you should run for President!


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?


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.