Saturday, December 12, 2009

Let The Taliban and the Warlords Have Afghanistan

They will get in eventually in 10, 15 or 20 years. Why not let them have it now?
The blogosphere is much like the world of print journalism. Sparks of brilliance occasionally flash some illuminating light on events only to be splashed away and left awash by repetitive spin and trivia. The validity of what was said ten days ago is obscured by today's trivia.

What I'd really like to do, fed up with President McChrystal's War Obama's War as I am, is to post one definitive critique about United States' Iraq-AfPak policy; to leave it on The Vigil's front page, allow comments, but not to post anything on top of it; and then to return and revisit it all in several months' or years' time. I am tempted to do that.

In selecting a piece which accurately encapsulates my thinking, I could certainly do worse than posting parts of Andrew Bacevich's piece in Commonweal. It's a lengthy piece so I will only re-read it to you in part:

He begins by reflecting on the legacy of the discredited prophet, Woodrow Wilson and his vision of the United States as a crusader state promising to eliminate tyranny, ensure the triumph of liberty, and achieve permanent peace. As often happens in history, a gang of murderous details, realities and complexities mugged the Wilsonian Conceit, producing unprecedented and unanticipated calamities down the road. Bacevich:

So it is today with Afghanistan, the conflict that George W. Bush began, then ignored, and finally bequeathed to his successor. Barack Obama has embraced that conflict as "the war we must win." Those who celebrated Bush's militancy back in the intoxicating days when he was promising to rid the world of evil see Obama's enthusiasm for pressing on in Afghanistan as a vindication of sorts. They are right to do so.

The misguided and mismanaged global war on terror reduced Bush's presidency to ruin. The candidate whose run for high office derived its energy from an implicit promise to repudiate all that Bush had wrought now seems intent on salvaging something useful from that failed enterprise-even if that means putting his own presidency at risk. When it comes to Afghanistan, Obama may be singing in a different key, but to anyone with an ear for music-especially for military marches-the melody remains intact.

Candidate Obama once derided the notion that the United States is called upon to determine the fate of Iraq. President Obama expresses a willingness to expend untold billions-not to mention who knows how many lives-in order to determine the fate of Afghanistan. Liberals may have interpreted Obama's campaign pledge to ramp up the U.S. military commitment to Afghanistan as calculated to insulate himself from the charge of being a national-security wimp. Events have exposed that interpretation as incorrect. It turns out-apparently-that the president genuinely views this remote, landlocked, primitive Central Asian country as a vital U.S. national-security interest.

What is it about Afghanistan, possessing next to nothing that the United States requires, that justifies such lavish attention? In Washington, this question goes not only unanswered but unasked. Among Democrats and Republicans alike, with few exceptions, Afghanistan's importance is simply assumed-much the way fifty years ago otherwise intelligent people simply assumed that the United States had a vital interest in ensuring the survival of South Vietnam. As then, so today, the assumption does not stand up to even casual scrutiny.

Tune in to the Sunday talk shows or consult the op-ed pages and you might conclude otherwise. Those who profess to be in the know insist that the fight in Afghanistan is essential to keeping America safe. The events of September 11, 2001, ostensibly occurred because we ignored Afghanistan. Preventing the recurrence of those events, therefore, requires that we fix the place.

Yet this widely accepted line of reasoning overlooks the primary reason why the 9/11 conspiracy succeeded: federal, state, and local agencies responsible for basic security fell down on the job, failing to install even minimally adequate security measures in the nation's airports. The national-security apparatus wasn't paying attention-indeed, it ignored or downplayed all sorts of warning signs, not least of all Osama bin Laden's declaration of war against the United States. Consumed with its ABC agenda-"anything but Clinton" was the Bush administration's watchword in those days-the people at the top didn't have their eye on the ball. So we let ourselves get sucker-punched. Averting a recurrence of that awful day does not require the semipermanent occupation and pacification of distant countries like Afghanistan. Rather, it requires that the United States erect and maintain robust defenses.

Fixing Afghanistan is not only unnecessary, it's also likely to prove impossible. Not for nothing has the place acquired the nickname Graveyard of Empires. Of course, Americans, insistent that the dominion over which they preside does not meet the definition of empire, evince little interest in how Brits, Russians, or other foreigners have fared in attempting to impose their will on the Afghans. As General David McKiernan put it,

There's always an inclination to relate what we're doing with previous nations .... I think that's a very unhealthy comparison.
McKiernan was expressing a view common among the ranks of the political and military elite: We're Americans. We're different. Therefore, the experience of others does not apply.

..... Six-plus years after it began, Operation Iraqi Freedom has consumed something like a trillion dollars-with the meter still running-and has taken the lives of more than forty-three hundred American soldiers. Meanwhile, in Baghdad and other major Iraqi cities, car bombs continue to detonate at regular intervals, killing and maiming dozens. Anyone inclined to put Iraq in the nation's rearview mirror is simply deluded. Not long ago General Raymond Odierno, Petraeus's successor and the fifth U.S. commander in Baghdad, expressed the view that the insurgency in Iraq is likely to drag on for an-other five, ten, or fifteen years. Events may well show that Odierno is an optimist.

..... to describe Iraq as a success, and as a model for application elsewhere, is nothing short of obscene. The great unacknowledged lesson of Iraq is the one that the writer Norman Mailer identified decades ago: "Fighting a war to fix something works about as good as going to a whorehouse to get rid of a clap."

For those who, despite all this, still hanker to have a go at nation building, why start with Afghanistan? Why not first fix, say, Mexico? In terms of its importance to the United States, our southern neighbor-a major supplier of oil and drugs among other commodities deemed vital to the American way of life-outranks Afghanistan by several orders of magnitude.

If one believes that moral considerations rather than self-interest should inform foreign policy, Mexico still qualifies for priority attention. Consider the theft of California. Or consider more recently how the American appetite for illicit drugs and our liberal gun laws have corroded Mexican institutions and produced an epidemic of violence afflicting ordinary Mexicans. We owe these people, big-time.

Yet any politician calling for the commitment of sixty thousand U.S. troops to Mexico to secure those interests or acquit those moral obligations would be laughed out of Washington-and rightly so. Any pundit proposing that the United States assume responsibility for eliminating the corruption that is endemic in Mexican politics while establishing in Mexico City effective mechanisms of governance would have his license to pontificate revoked. Anyone suggesting that the United States possesses the wisdom and the wherewithal to solve the problem of Mexican drug trafficking, to endow Mexico with competent security forces, and to reform the Mexican school system (while protecting the rights of Mexican women) would be dismissed as a lunatic. Meanwhile, those who promote such programs for Afghanistan, ignoring questions of cost and ignoring as well the corruption and ineffectiveness that pervade our own institutions, are treated like sages.

The contrast between Washington's preoccupation with Afghanistan and its relative indifference to Mexico testifies to the distortion of U.S. national security priorities induced by George W. Bush in his post-9/11 prophetic mode-distortions now being endorsed by Bush's successor. It also testifies to a vast failure of imagination to which our governing classes have succumbed.

This failure of imagination makes it literally impossible for those who possess either authority or influence in Washington to consider the possibility (a) that the solution to America's problems is to be found not out there-where "there" in this case is Central Asia-but here at home; (b) that the people out there, rather than requiring our ministrations, may well be capable of managing their own affairs relying on their own methods; and (c) that to disregard (a) and (b) is to open the door to great mischief and in all likelihood to perpetrate no small amount of evil....

..... So the answer to the question of the hour-What should the United States do about Afghanistan?-comes down to this: A sense of realism and a sense of proportion should oblige us to take a minimalist approach. As with Uruguay or Fiji or Estonia or other countries where U.S. interests are limited, the United States should undertake to secure those interests at the lowest cost possible.

..... It would be much better to let local authorities do the heavy lifting. Provided appropriate incentives, the tribal chiefs who actually run Afghanistan are best positioned to prevent terrorist networks from establishing a large-scale presence. As a backup, intensive surveillance complemented with precision punitive strikes (assuming we can manage to kill the right people) will suffice to disrupt Al Qaeda's plans. Certainly, that approach offers a cheaper and more efficient alter-native to establishing a large-scale and long-term U.S. ground presence-which, as the U.S. campaigns in both Iraq and Afghanistan have demonstrated, has the unintended effect of handing jihadists a recruiting tool that they are quick to exploit.

In the immediate wake of 9/11, all the talk-much of it emanating from neoconservative quarters-was about achieving a "decisive victory" over terror. The reality is that we can't eliminate every last armed militant harboring a grudge against the West. Nor do we need to. As long as we maintain adequate defenses, Al Qaeda operatives, hunkered down in their caves, pose no more than a modest threat. As for the Taliban, unless they manage to establish enclaves in places like New Jersey or Miami, the danger they pose to the United States falls several notches below the threat posed by Cuba, which is no threat at all.

As for the putatively existential challenge posed by Islamic radicalism, that project will prove ultimately to be a self-defeating one. What violent Islamists have on offer-a rejection of modernity that aims to restore the caliphate and unify the ummah [community]-doesn't sell. In this regard, Iran-its nuclear aspirations the subject of much hand-wringing-offers considerable cause for hope. Much like the Castro revolution that once elicited so much angst in Washington, the Islamic revolution launched in 1979 has failed resoundingly. Observers once feared that the revolution inspired and led by the Ayatollah Khomeini would sweep across the Persian Gulf. In fact, it has accomplished precious little. Within Iran itself, the Islamic republic no longer represents the hopes and aspirations of the Iranian people, as the tens of thousands of protesters who recently filled the streets of Tehran and other Iranian cities made evident. Here we see foretold the fate awaiting the revolutionary cause that Osama bin Laden purports to promote.

In short, time is on our side, not on the side of those who proclaim their intention of turning back the clock to the fifteenth century. The ethos of consumption and individual autonomy, privileging the here and now over the eternal, will conquer the Muslim world as surely as it is conquering East Asia and as surely as it has already conquered what was once known as Christendom. It's the wreckage left in the wake of that conquest that demands our attention. If the United States today has a saving mission, it is to save itself. Speaking in the midst of another unnecessary war back in 1967, Martin Luther King got it exactly right: "Come home, America." The prophet of that era urged his countrymen to take on "the triple evils of racism, economic exploitation, and militarism."
There you have it. What would that other esteemed recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize have said? Other than that Afghanistan is much more simple than you might imagine? In my opinion, Professor Bacevich has covered more bases than 70%, say, of Washington's political class.


  1. Bacevich is a smart man,a Vietnam vet who sadly lost his son in Iraq.

    If Bacevich really believes Obama thinks this war is vital to US interests then the president is not the intelligent individual most of us hope he is.It would mean essentially he is uninformed and wholly trusting and dependent on his military and security advisers.

    One can make two cases for staying there,pipelines to circumvent Iran and Russia and an AQ threat.

    The pipeline dream is just that-a dream-too much $ for something which is not only divisive but will ultimately fail.

    The AQ threat is a handful of remaining Arab Afghans who would be hunted down and killed as soon as we left.The Pashto's understand the reason for the US presence is their toleration of the AQ types-they won't make that mistake again.

    Vigil is correct.We're eventually gonna leave with our tail between our legs, why not do it now and save lives?

    While we're at it why not give up,too, on the lie that we invaded cause of something the Afghans did? 9/11 was planned in Hamburg and Barcelona,training in San Diego and Miami. The two training camps in Afghanistan had been defunct since the US stopped funding them.
    It's not their fault we invaded. We invaded because we had a cretin instead of statesman as our president. He yielded,no he gloried in the blood lust for revenge.We could have simply provided proof of Bin Ladins guilt to the Taliban who had offered to hand him over to a neutral country.

    The Taliban are fundamentalist assholes,but they're being fundamentalist assholes in their own country which we made a ruin 20 years ago when we overthrew the Taraki regime to allow warlords to run the country.

    They aren't the bad guys here. We are.

  2. VIG; You could sub title this The Time Capsule Post.
    Afghanistan is not ours to give, or give back. We are the occupiers of that country. Yes the Taliban wish to make it an Islamic Emirate. Let them and the regional partners work it out. The West is now propagandizing it as a new justified war on terror. They are combining the Taliban with the Al Quaida faction. This is pure disinformation. They are two separate, completely different entities.

  3. Return Afghanistan to the Taliban? That is beyond irresponsible and I can guarantee we are never going to do that and our allies would never let that happen. I could go on and on with the reasons why this would be a terrible idea but that would be an exercise in futility in this forum.


  4. Mad Mike tells us thyat supporting the troops means supporting MISSION IMPOSSIBLE? That is madness. Mike is mad (loco). Mad Mike is so well named.

  5. Leftists are shrugging off their delusion that they owe Obama blind support. After all, Leftists helped Obama get elected. Plus, didn't he tell us that he wasn't the One-We-Have-Been-Waiting-For? Didn't he tell us that we are The Ones?

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  7. Thanks Boris for your kind and thoughtful words. Yes. Venturing an opinion that is not in agreement with yours is truly "loco," learned scholar that you are. I am curious as to your credentials Boris? Have you ever been to war? Have you ever even been in the military? Just curious. Experience being the best teacher and all....

    Doc you make an excellent point. The president is not a wizard he is a man. He makes decisions based on the best information. He made the best decision.


  8. Oso my friend you are so wrong about al Qaeda and I mean that with all respect.

    The so called remaining "100" are the head of the snake, and I would be astonished, having served in military intelligence, if those numbers are even close to accurate. It is in the best interests of the Pentagon to lower the number so that Americans will think we have at least killed a few hundred since we've been there. I expect the number is closer to 1000 or more.

    The terrorist organization al Qaeda (the Base)is all over the world, e.g. the Philippines, Somalia, everywhere in the Middle East, all over Europe including GB, and in the United States. They take their orders, however, from the Pakistan crew (Afghanistan)crew, the leaders.

    The mission is vital [in part] because it is vital to our security that we cut the head off this snake. Not for nothing but I teach global terrorism among other things so I try to stay up to date, and that is tough in and of itself as the geopolitical landscape is forever changing. Anyway that is my final two cents.

    As always I am confident that we can agree to disagree without rancor.

    P.S. Vigil you should change your blog name to "Afghanistan."

  9. Here we go again with the " I served in military intelligence" nonsense. That is an oxymoron. And we all know where that so called " intelligence" got us during Nam. The Afghans themselves will eradicate what ever is left of A/Q if we left. Using the lame excuse of A/Q is just that lame.

  10. Mike,

    Of course we can agree to disagree,to me the give and take between friends is why we do this.
    Often I put IMO (I didn't in this thread)because all of my opinions are based on reading-good,vetted sources but still reading. I never served in the military and of course your sources may be better than mine.

    I think we all work within a framework of truth.

    Kind of like the old parable about the blind men and the elephant,one guy touches the tail and thinks the elephant is like a snake and another touches the tusk and thinks the elephant is hard as a rock?

    and the blind teabagger pokes the elephant in the ass and gets kicked,and blames it on the liberal media ?

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  12. You know ABSOLUTELY NOTHING about me, or my background.
    Yet, you wish others to believe your war drums because you claim to have been in [military intelligence].

  13. Let me put it this way RZ: one's writings can often reflect mental acuity or lack thereof. In your case the latter not the former is the operating paradigm.

    As to knowing anything about you....I CARE nothing about you. You mean nothing to me. A swatted fly has more worth to me. Anyone who denigrates and minimizes the military service of another is beneath my contempt, ergo you are beneath my contempt. You have a nice day now Chucky Cheese....

  14. I was going to say something to say in response to this great column by our bloghost. But reading through these comments I became very dismayed.

    I'm very impressed as to the extent to which MadMike trades on his status of being a military veteran and a professor/teacher/scholar. I contrast MadMike's self-promotion with the established record of Andrew Bacevich whose article is the subject of this post. Bacevich is the author of three widely read and well researched history books. He was also a veteran of the Vietnam war. He also has the perspective of some one who has lost a son in combat in Iraq. If his counsel is that the USA should leave - now - Afghanistan to the Afghans, I'm inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt.

    Mad Mike, on the other hand, seems like a legend in his own mind; sarcastically dismissive of those who disagree with him as "not worth his time". Mad Mike comes off as a very dubious authority.

  15. As those of you who read Reconstitution know, I was not a big fan of Obama's. Which is not to say that he's not 10,000% better than Chimpy is, but.... that isn't saying much.

    I was hoping I had the guy wrong, but his record scresmed "DLC corporatist." His record did not lie.

  16. Mike, with a new president in the White House, The Vigil changed it's name into something more positive and down-home. But Change I Could Believe In didn't materialize. In fact the ship of state seems trapped in the same wake left by Captain Busheney. We can thank God that the chairs on the top deck have different, more intelligent occupants. But the chairs on the bridge have the same people as before. Practically. Who do with 'thank' for that? So, I determined I couldn't go on with business as usual: My vigil had to resume; as long as unnecessary, useless, and stupid wars and occupations continue, unabated. As for the comments above which have dubbed the mission in Afghanistan as 'madness' (for reasons contained in Bacevich's column at the head of the thread), I have to agree: you are mad, Sir, to support such a mission in these times.

  17. A difference of opinion makes me "mad" my friend?

  18. Difference of opinion? Michael, IMHO, the problem stems from a separation of about 30 degrees of sanity.

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  20. Now I know how Right wing bloggers who show up at my place to present their opinions feel when they are attacked from all sides. I have learned a lesson from this experience and will from now on treat those who have views that differ from mine with the utmost of respect. Tough way to learn but it is better than nothing.


  21. Afghanistan has had tribal rule for centuries..and it's up to us to change it?

    FUCK THAT! How many countries/nations have tried and failed?

    Obviously, A very stimulating post Vigilante. ;)

  22. Oh and Oso speaks truth to power. Great comment and thoughts.

  23. It's one of the oldest afflictions known to man, Vig; politicians not being able to cut their losses.

  24. Before I was distracted, I was going to observe the other day on this thread that there are some nine degrees of separation between Vigilante and myself. And that concerns the difference between the Obama regime and the Bush regime: the two cannot be confused because of the difference in honesty. I see a huge improvement in honesty with Barack Obama, General McChrystal, Richard Holbrooke and others.

    To show you what I mean, I recall reading a month or so ago the text of the infamous McChrystal appearance before the IISS, a think tank in London. I say “infamous”, only because some of his remarks were leaked to the press.

    But during the Q and A following his prepared remarks, there was a McChrystal response which I found very revealing of the uphill difficulties facing our troops assigned to carry out Obama’s Mission.

    In response to a question, McChrystal, candidly spoke about the difficulties of winning hearts and minds in Afghanistan:

    Let me describe it: a few days ago, just before we left to travel here, a bus south of Kandahar struck an improvised explosive device (IED) killing 30 Afghan civilians. That is tragic.

    On the one hand, you might say that the Afghan people would recoil against the Taliban who left that IED. To a degree, they do, but we must also understand that they recoil against us because they might think that, if we were not there, neither would be the IED. Therefore, we indirectly caused the IED to be there. Second, we said that we would protect them, but we did not. Sometimes, then, the most horrific events caused by the insurgents continue to reinforce in the minds of the Afghan people a mindset that coalition forces are either ineffective, or at least that their presence in Afghanistan is not in their interest….

    I think that this comment is very revealing of the facts of life in Afghanistan. I don’t recall any of Bush’s people talking like that. Obama, himself, has been honest about his feelings about our troops in Afghanistan needing more definition to their mission, from even the days of his campaign. Mistaken, IMO, but honest; not at all comparable with the congenital deceitful Bush. A big improvement.

  25. I get it: the first rule in COIN is that the alien force gets blamed for everything before the indigenous force gets its due.

    I also approve the sense of your first paragraph. The difference in truth and transparency between Busheney and Obama is totally refreshing. However....

    Obama, IMO, turns out to be a true believer, just as Bush was.

    Bush was determined to war with Saddam, even before he was elected. He just invented reasons (lied) about the justification for invading & occupying it. Plus, of course, his watch was careless in planning.

    Obama was a true believer in that he believed that AfPak had to pay interminably for Osama Bin Laden's attack. He believed that before his election, and he never really wavered from that. But he never invented deceitful fictions to support it.

    I find myself in reluctant opposition now, not because Obama lied. But, because he is wrong about American national interests being tied up in who controls fucking Afghanistan. (Pakistan is different).

    I had thought Obama would be more reasonable and pragmatic. Knowing what I know now, I still would have voted for him enthusiastically. Because intelligence is always preferable to idiocy.

  26. Hey Vig,
    I guess it's the usual throw-down on your blog with everything but brass knuckles and the kitchen sink. I hope we don't keep devolving into uncivility, name-calling and the rest. The stakes being what they are, cannot be an excuse for substituting anger for blinding, deafening hatred. We've had 8 years of pointless shouting and demonizing which only allowed the elites in power to get away with very serious crimes against our Constitution and our fellow citizens as every body just "picked a side."

    I respectfully disagree with your third point Vig: neither men are "true believers."

    George W. Bush's idea of Foreign Policy and defense was
    1)letting everyone tell him what to do
    2)letting Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld use our military like a baseball bat.
    George W. Bush didn't believe anything because in a profound and fundamental way he either didn't really see what was going on, or was too stupid to assess the words being put in his mouth. You'd have to know something about a Foreign Policy to believe in it: George W. Bush knew and understood very little which was why Karl Rove made him President: -Not for who he was and his worldview as we've all been led to believe, -but for all the opportunities his presidency would create for others.
    George W. Bush's beliefs are irrelevant.

    Barack Obama had to run on some posture that would make him look like something other than a pussy (Because curiously, even after the colossal fuckup that was 9/11 Republicans -not only get a pass-, they get a pat on the back for defense) So he ran with very measured indications of his intentions in Afghanistan. Intentions that always amounted to "more focus" and "more resources" being dedicated to the conflict there. This posture allowed him to apease hawks within his own party (voters and politicians) and to make Independents and Republicans (those in the GOP who had woken up) feel comfortable with a Democrat who was a Black man. I think although Barack Obama is adding 30,000 soldiers, this does not necessarily mean a belief in the policy. As I've written on my Blog, I think it's ultimately a cynnical number. It's enough to quiet a substantial amount of the Republicans, and not a big enough number to make Democrats take to the streets in protest.
    -I know what 30,000 people looks like, -we all do.
    It's like dumping the contents of a baseball stadium into an ongoing war. I don't know that our President believes in the conflict, at the very least, his concerns with political expediency aside, President Obama has insisted on asking questions, getting answers and giving this conflict his formidable attention.

    What the President does next will speak volumes about our ability as a country to do what's sensible and constructive versus what balances precarious dangers in trade for imminent disasters.

    We are still no closer to the day when I get to laugh at Osama Bin Laden being perp-walked into court and his seeing Al Qaeda dismantled and exposed as the cowardly dimwits that they are. I disagree with any policy direction or initiative in Afghanistan that does not work toward that day when I am laughing at Osama Bin Laden and history finally puts lists him next to insects like Tim McVeigh.

  27. The above comment by SJ is one of the best I've seen anywhere this week. So I'm not ignoring it. I just want to respond to Messenger's comment above on McChrystal's 'confession'. Steve Coll observes in Think Tank that.

    .... international forces remain about twice as popular among Afghans as the Taliban, and are not (yet) seen by the great majority of Afghans as provocative.

    Fine. But then he goes on to recall,

    The Soviets failed in Afghanistan for many reasons, beginning with the brutality of their military campaigns and the implausibility of their political strategy. Nonetheless, by the end of the 1980s, they had constructed a durable ink spot strategy, albeit one based on a more defensive and internally ruthless political-military strategy from the one McChrystal is proposing. The Soviets were unable, however, to convert that partial territorial achievement into a broader and more durable strategic success. Partly they just ran out of time, as often happens in expeditionary wars. Their other problems included their inability to control the insurgents’ sanctuary in Pakistan; their inability to stop infiltration across the Pakistan-Afghan border; their inability to build Afghan political unity, even at the local level; their inability to develop a successful reconciliation strategy to divide the Islamist insurgents they faced; and their inability to create successful international diplomacy to reinforce a stable Afghanistan and region. Does that list of headaches sound familiar?

    I think so.

  28. @Soros' Proxy
    thanks for that link, I missed that piece by Coll somehow, a very good read.
    Interestingly whenever parallels are cited between past police actions that were in fact wars, like the Soviet war in Afghanistan, our own American war in Vietnam, many immediately (and rightly so) point out that there are many, many differences bewtween these conflicts (in scale/nature) versus the current challenges in Afghanistan.
    But we should all remind ourselves that simply because a situation is not categorically identical to another, doesn't mean that that both situations cannot both end just as badly for all involved.

  29. Nice comment SJ, (agreeing with Soros), but prepare yourself for an eventual discovery, long after the fact, that OBL [has] died a peaceful, natural death.

  30. @Vig,
    wouldn't that be great to know just the same?
    I think so.
    I'd like a period put on that son of bitch regardless.
    Whether his kidneys fail him in a cave and he dies pissing and shitting himself, or one of his own stabs him the back.
    Bin Laden's not a devious genius, he's not the opposite of the West, or a matryr or even a revolutionary:
    He's a billionaire fundamentalist who had lackeys do something that is sadly very easy:
    -he murdered citizens walking around in an open society.

    It doesn't take any matermind to kill unsuspecting people on their way to work.
    But right now Bin Laden's like Santa Claus: in all places at all times, behind all things, and this laughably impossible omnipresence can't continue to be used to justify every crazy action the Right wants to take.

    Mythologizing this prick has been very costly.

  31. Thanks Mad Mike, just saw that item on MMA on the 700 page hissy fit they just pitched on the floor.

  32. Well said my friend. One word can speak volumes.

  33. I agree 100% with SJ about neither man (Bush or Obama) being a "true believer". The way that I would characterize it is that both men were hijacked; Bush by 1) his naivate and 2) the neocons/chicken-hawks surrounding him, Obama by his own cynical campaign promises. Of course, being that Mr. Obama has already renegged on so many of his other promises, it is kind of maddening that this is the one promise he's decided to keep.

  34. I'm with Vig and Oso on this one.

    First of all, "al Qaeda" is no longer a centralized organization-these days it's more like a franchise, with new outlets picking up the name, but not really commanded by "the office" anymore. We eill not accomplish anything by spending a whole lot of time on al Qaeda in Afghanistan.

    The real danger in the region is the Taliban, and they are a Pakistani organization. Afghanistan sort of fell into the hands of a branch of the Taliban, but Afghanistan was always viewed as a kind of outlying province of the Pashtunistan caliphate envisioned by the Taliban.

    We will not prevail unless we have the resources, and the stomach, to deal with the Taliban in their home territory. We do not, and every kid killed in Afghanistan right now has exactly as much value to "the cause" as every Soviet kid that was killed there. It's time to cut bait.

  35. Will Obama never promised to get out of Afghanistan. He promised to do just what he did. Listen to the people who know and make a decision based on that information.

  36. That was my point, Mike. This is the one promise that he HASN'T broken.

  37. Yes, Will. He didn't budge on this promise. In other words, He's a true believer in beating Afghanistan up until it says 'uncle'.

  38. We'll see when that is, Vig. Even the Khan found then difficult to deal with, if I remember my history correctly.

  39. Just how old ARE you, Jolly Roger? Your knowledge of history seems to be from experience man!

  40. Previously, I was thinking J. Roger was just seasoned. Now, Oso, I think he may have given up TMI....

  41. Family photo album probably has shots of J. Roger sitting around the campfire with Stonewall Grant, lunching in Paris with Marie Antoinette, touring the Holy Land with Saladin-and even going to high school with Dick Clark!

  42. My comment, late in the conversation is simple... I agree with Vigil. Mad Mike said one word can speak volumes and I know that's right...


  43. BTW, Everyone! Remember way back when? When Hypnotoad Lieberman was on the ropes, about to lose his Senate seat? Who was it who came from outside Conneticut to campaign for him and save his fucking bacon?

    Yes! You got it! It was Senator Barry H. Obama.

  44. Oh no shit Vig? I didn't realize that.

    My how time friggin flies eh?

    If only that sumbitch had lost and Lamont had won..if only. tsk..tsk.

  45. He COULD be a true believer, Vig. He could also just be a cynical politician. Oh, and just for the record, I did vote for Lamont. He's a neophyte. But he also has a much more "surgical" perspective when it comes to foreign policy/the military.

  46. Vig, I remember all too well who came out and saved Liebermad's a**. Grrrrr.