Saturday, June 12, 2010

"The Courage to Leave" (Afghanistan) There is no good news coming out of the depressing and endless war in Afghanistan. There once was merit to our incursion there, but that was long ago. Now we’re just going through the tragic motions, flailing at this and that, with no real strategy or decent end in sight. (by Bob Herbert, New York Times)


  1. I had heard that the Canadians were leaving soon and if that happens the Brits probably won't be far behind them. Ive often said if we don't rethink our strategy on this so called "war on terror" we are going to shoot our way into the poorhouse.

  2. I'm afraid you're right Mike. With crooked allies like the Afghan government under Karzai and its army that's useless, who needs enemies?

  3. Cameron went to visit the troops in Afghanistan and they have been promised more money while they are there and improved back-up. He also promised to pull them out as soon as possible. There is the wish to see the Afghanistan's set up in a way they can manage things themselves without the Taliban. I think as soon as we leave they will revert back to the Taliban's wishes for fear of their lives. We can't stay there forever, they have to find their own way. There was a clip of our soldiers giving out gifts to the people, such as books, paper, pens and clothing. I didn't see one smiling face amongst the Afghanistan's, they simply don't want us there, or indeed need us!

    As for our troops, they bravely feel they are really doing some good, but at what cost? The coffins are coming home and families are devastated by the loss of their loved ones. The Russians tried to beat the Afghanistan's and failed, what makes us think things will be any different. Our boys fight the roadside bomb and that is harder than fighting the people. Look how many have died because of this unseen enemy...

    There's a big hole in the MODs budget and many cuts have been made at the cost of our soldiers. If we can't afford to give these boys what they need to protect themselves, what are we doing fighting this war? Bring the lads home, sooner rather than later!

  4. I really feel the countries fighting out there should get together and make sure they pull out as one. Ok, maybe we will lose face, but not so many lives. I fear the trouble is, the powers that be won't be able to cope with loss of face, loss of life is so much easier for our leaders to handle...

  5. I agree Cassandra. I'm sure the US/UK combat soldiers are almost uniformly brave and well-trained. But this war has been going on for years and we are still fighting province by province, city by city and the bottom line seems is, the Karzai government is corrupt and people fear the Afghan police and army as much as the Taliban, outside Kabul at least. The Bob Herbert column and other NATO-nation journalists on the ground in Afghanistan have said, we're neither winning not losing the war and the only thing that comes out of it is the roadside bombers get better at killing our bravest men and women. "Sooner" than later for sure.

  6. Yes, its all too abstract for many of those in power. They fly into the war zone for an afternoon, shake a few soldiers and Marines' hands, and fly out saying "well done, lads."

  7. He's right - but probably for the wrong reasons.

    As a nation, we've never looked in the mirror, seen the results of our foreign-policy and its outcome - complete with the destruction of the World Trade Center.

    It's time to change course; radically - starting with telling the Fascists in charge in Jerusalem, "'God' is not your real-estate agent."

  8. Speaking as one who opposed our entry into the second Iraq war and the Afghan war but who supports our troops whole heartedly I pose the question, what will have been achieved if we pull out before the jobs done?

    History has shown that many invaders have come and ultimately gone from Afghanistan, including Britain twice, and none of them have imposed their will on that country. Those who are there now have invested blood and treasure in large quantity and still the job is not done.

    Should we leave or should we stay? I surely don't have an intelligent answer to that, there are of course pro's and con's to both. What is certain in my mind is that if the politicians decide, for what ever reason, to stay the course then we are honour bound to give as much treasure as it costs to make sure all the troops have the very best equipment and support it is possible to have for as long as it takes to finish the job. That I suspect is a commitment that will be just too big to give and the likely outcome is that we will withdraw and allow the Taliban to fill the vacuum.

    If the brave choice is made then I feel that it must be coupled with a massive political effort to win the hearts and minds of the Afghans to resist the Taliban and stand on their own when their country is stabilised. Off course that's a long shot in it's self but if that is what we want then , well you can work it out......

  9. There does seem to be a problem with Americans in general as far as connecting-the-dots. What happens in American foreign policy in one era is conveniently forgotten (or not brought up to the public) by the next one.
    You don't have to be sold on a conspiracy here to see that Osama bin Laden and his forces were anti-Western loose cannons who got lots of help from the CIA fighting our former Russian enemies in the Near East .

    Trouble is, they wouldn't just go away in the 1990's after the Americans set up a military presence in Saudi Arabia after the first Gulf War. They regarded this as tantamount to an invasion of the homeland of Islam. We became like the Soviet invaders up north in Afghanistan in the 80's, and their mind-set has no concerns with any political differences between the two powers. The idea that people of other lands see Americans as altruistic is a dangerous myopia left over from the Cold War--it baits a trap.

    The fact is America was attacked on9/11, and the other NATO nations responded with us to drive out al-Queda forces from Kabul and other regions. But 100,000 troops or whatever we send there isn't going to change Afghanistan. Not now, and perhaps not for years. Why are we doing this--so as not to appear weak? I agree with Herbert's conclusion. What is all this for? --it certainly had a purpose to most Americans, but I don't see that anymore and we're certainly not interested in anteing up anymore increase in forces, and to what end?

    I saw this movie when I was a kid watching Bob Hope entertaining the troops in South Vietnam. The jokes are kind of lame and it doesn't end well.

  10. Exercise in logic:

    1. The premise for the war was the attack on the U.S. on 9/11.

    2. The attack on the U.S. on 9/11 was in response (by the terrorists' admission and statement) to our support of the Israeli regime and the subjugation of the Palestinians, as well as our presence in Saudi Arabia and other parts of the middle east.


    3. Either the 'job' we've undertaken is fundamentally wrong (immoral), or

    4. Even if, by some stretch, we can consider the 'job' a moral one, the job cannot be completed (victory conditions obtained) until all of the terrorists and their supporters are dead.

    5. As #4 is impossible, the 'job' is either impossible or immoral.

    Thus endeth the lesson.....

  11. You boiled it down, Astra.

    No matter if the basis for the 9/11 attack was American troops on Saudi soil near Mecca, or if Osama supported the Palestinians--which he didn't speak much about publically until after 9/11 as I've read--your conclusion is, of course, the same and I agree.

  12. The thing is,Jim, I would love to see Afghanistan Taliban-free. Who wants clerical fascists running around blowing up schools and throwing acid in little girls faces because they want to learn to read? And, if we can't muster the national will to get out, then we have to forrtify the forces we have there--the young people in uniform who were kids for the most part when 9/11 happened and were just coming up when th London tube stations were attacked. But bravery of those in uniform in and of itself is not a policy.

    The status quo isn't getting us anywhere--this is what I hear and read from the "embedded" reporters, who certainly have no quarrel with the soldiers and Marines of any NATO country. We seem stuck halfway between one policy (hearts and minds) and the other (withdrawl). Thing is, Afghanistan isn't coming together under Karzai and there are too many crooks and shake-down types and drug dealers on his side. And, at the level of sacrifice now, we can't change that short of starting a colony or protectorate of NATO there, a non-starter in both our countries. That's why I think its time we get out of there.

  13. I agree with all the comments in response to my earlier musings.

    There is still the question lurking in the background which is, 'what was it all for?' Every time the politico's pull the plug on a half finished military campaign they lose something intangible but very important with that generation of military personel. After all the deaths and maimed troops (including those who have psyche issues later) the issue must be was it worth it and who must be accountable for the decision. Anyone with only a passing interest in history could have foretold what quagmire was about to open up for us there.

    I'm all for pulling the troops out now, I'm just not sure the price is right.

  14. There's no question the military personnel who fought the war will wonder why they were sent there, Jim, if they don't see the mission as complete. bUt at some point it was always in the plan to hand this off to the Afghan National Army. If they can't handle it, how much can be done by the limited numbers of NATO forces and for how long?

  15. Doug, while most of the officer-corps want to be there, and a good chunk of the rank-and-file do, too, there's a minority who don't.

    The son of a friend of mine just got back - when I asked him to describe his experience in a few words, he said, "Imagine going to Hell. Then, imagine being told to wear 120 pounds of gear and hike up and down mountains. Then, imagine being asked to do the worst possible things there are. That's what it was like."

    He was a Lieutenant in the army. As soon as he could, he resigned his commission and started selling insurance.

  16. It has been said that it's important for the British to remain in Afghanistan as it's essential our allies don't feel abandoned. However, even with the surge of 30,000 thousand troops Obama has pledged, it won't bring the war to a successful conclusion. His planned withdrawal by mid 2011, after training 200,000 new Afghan soldiers and policeman, has many flaws. For a start, where is he going to get them from, the desertion rate is said to be tremendous. They have so many Tajiks represented, there's already talk of sectarian hatred in the force of 46,000 Afghan men.

    The Taliban are feared and as soon as we move out, as I said before, they will move in again.

    We can't bring back those who have lost their lives, but we can make sure we don't lose anymore young men.

    I'm not saying withdrawing troops from the area won't be difficult and embarrassing, but no matter how long we stay there, the end situation is going to be the same.

  17. History proved this many years ago Doug and I literally feel that with all the time spent in that we keep repeating the thought of an exit strategy and any person can write on this till the end of time. We don't need to be there in my opinion for much longer. We are within an area whereby there is surveillance and all that was there before. I think this is one area that we need to (repeated) bring them back and over see the situation. It's just my own opinion.

  18. Yes, Cassandra, the ethnic schisms and deserrtions are more reasons to get a plan for leaving going fast. I'm heard it said that Afghan troops come and go at their whim.

    American Conservatives seem to forget that Ronald Reagan left Beirut, Lebanon, early in 1984 after 250 Marines were lost to a truck bombing in October of 1983.

    Sometimes a good ally makes the case that the operation has become intolerable. Almost all Americans appreciate British and Canadian troops, et al, on our side but with a new government in London the Obama Administration hounchos might need to be reminded they were elected to end this war by 2011.

    How many young men must we lose for this regime that no one here would want to live under for a minute?

  19. I think at some point this Kabul government has to stand or fall. We can postpone the inevitable for years but this is the country we have and it isn't going to turn into Switzerland with minarets anytime soon. Well said Jack.

  20. Whilst I disagree that there is anything 'valiant' about destroying wedding parties, whole villages, clinics and schools with unmanned CIA drones, or unleashing high tech weapons of mass destruction against an already impoverished peasant population, I don't think the Pentagon war planners ever wanted to 'win' this illegal war and occupation.

    The genocide in Afghanistan is a 'cash cow' for the arms industry and the illegal drugs trade, it has the benefit of threatening Iran, Russia and China militarily, whilst holding out the hope that Afghanistan's mineral deposits will finance the next 'mineral bubble' for the Wall Street mafia to pig out on... and of course a route for the much vaunted Caspian oil pipeline.

    How can the US government and its backers ever give all that up?

    The prize is too glittering for the Pentagon 'magpies' and the public silence in America has simply been engineered by the servile media.

    History will judge the US/NATO invasion of Afghanistan in the same light as the German invasion of Poland in 1939 and I judge the leaders of the US and its allies to be no different to leaders of Germany were back then.

    So who is going to grieve over a thousand dead stormtroopers and many thousands of other casualties, this is business and the military industrial complex is the the only show in town. These soldiers weren't killed by the Taliban they were killed by the hypocrisy and indifference that the article alludes to.

    Thanks for posting this Doug, its good to know that at least someone in the mainstream US media has noticed that is not the sort of war NATO is expected to win, it is a perpetual money spinner and the physical manifestation of the psychotic delusions that run America and the global gangster network it sponsors.

  21. The horrors of push-button warfare that were see is another quantum leap of inhumanity, AA, a new Dark Age such as was fostered by the years men spent in trenches in 1914-18 and the jungle and remote volcanic islands of next phase of World War, then on to Vietnam and dozens of other so-called "brush-fire" wars of the post-colonial era.

    There is a sense as Bob Herbert pointed out that those non-relatives of the armed forces in place have intellectually abandoned soldiers to a strategy that has gone away and we simply cannot find leaders to back these men and women out, either for the economic goals you mention or simply because it would impinge on their own greater sense of value from being a "wartime" President or Prime Minister. Perhaps both, now that I think about it--a tandem of bloated egos and commercial interests.

  22. Pause back there don't know me or where and where my knowledge comes from. Rather than ponder in here. The last thing that I wish to see is death. Yet tell me where aside from Afghanistan that this is not going on. As it is. Speak within your own agenda but here is a question - what do you suggest then. Keep it simple.

  23. Get out, go home. I hope that is simple enough.

  24. I agree Doug.... and a complete absence of moral backbone. These leaders are the "employees" of the military-industrial complex, they don't really lead anything.
    They are led by the nose by the bankers and CEOs of the multinational crime syndicate that engineer these wars in the first place
    The corruption is I think absolute and all encompassing there is no possibility of salvation under prevailing conditions so far as I can see Doug.

    The US government, and the leaders of its NATO allies are just the political wing of Murder Incorporated, organised crime has abolished politics and replaced it with a deadly soap opera which is in a profound way, an entirely meaningless charade and confidence trick.

  25. That sentence won't require a lot of parsing.

  26. And it doesn't help when Pentagon big-shots start talking up the potential mineral wealth of Afghanistan. What are they selling? What does reserves of coal have to do with topping terrorism?

    Thirty eight dead American soldiers this month. How many Afghan civilians I don't know. What are these soldiers and their NATO allies dying for after going on nine years? This is the longest war in our history--Obama says we will be out next year. I hope he keeps his promise.

    The Watergate Crisis of 70's America provided the one true path to finding out who benefits from a long-term, stubborn policy of powerful people in Washington: follow the money.

  27. I wonder if Guantanamo Bay will be closed by then too Doug?

  28. Good question. That was a big promise left unfulfilled so far.