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Afghanistan, the war that will not go away
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joew



Joined: 18 Jul 1999
Posts: 152

PostPosted: Wed Dec 02, 2009 9:54 am    Post subject: Afghanistan, the war that will not go away Reply with quote

Like it or don't the 800 lb. gorilla in the room, the one that no one in this forum seems eager to discuss is the war in Afghanistan. Why??, first thing comes to mind is it is a very complicated issue diifficult to get your mind around and we all get out of our intellectual comfort zone when we try. The conundrum is basically now that we are there, there are no good choices, only difficult ones. There are no simple solutions, no amount of troop surge or economic aid in the SHORT TERM will provide a decent interval for us to get out in my opinion. Measurable change seems to come only when people have the strength of conviction to die for the cause. Karzais's country is like the fiefdom of Kabul, in a devils bargain with the warlords in the countryside who put him into power, it would seem inconcievable that the necessary elimination of corruption could take place to facilitate the level of commitment and sacrifice required to build institutions worth dying for. Simply put it's like learning to windsurf, I cant hand you the skillset and and strap it onto you like a lifevest, it has to be learned and developed by a deep passion that comes from inside of you.The adoption of General Petraeuse's counter insurgency str ategy in Hellmand and Kandahar will win hearts and minds in those former Taliban strong holds, but the training of indigenous police and army forces( 400,00) in such a short time period seems to be a nearly impossible task. Unlike Iraq, with oil income, and highly developed western style infrastucture, a middle class, and a sophisticated level of literacy and education for the middle east, Afghanistan is in the eigth century outside of the cities. We and our NATO allies are presiding over a pile of rubble,six flags over nothing. Suffice it to say this is not fertile ground for nation building. Fortunately nation building is no longer our stated goal, only cobbling together some kind of self sustaining mechanism to get us the hell out, that even may be an impossible task given all of the above and the situation in Pakistan. The parallels to the conflict in Vietnam, are many and uncanny, although dismissed by some they share deep similarites. Stanley Karnow, who wrote the definitive history of that war, when asked by General Mc Crystall, if there were lessons to be gleaned from the American experience in Vietnam that could be applied to Afghanistan said only," that we shouldn't have been there in the first place" Its my contentention that we could have prevailed there (in the south) as long as we were willing to endure planeloads of American body bags in perputuity. History shows we were not willing to do this, the lesson learned is that open ended commitments with no clear end in sight are politically unsustainable. We are there, that fact is indisputable , now how do we get out of the stinking briar patch???
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mac



Joined: 07 Mar 1999
Posts: 5253

PostPosted: Wed Dec 02, 2009 11:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

True much of that, and the worse for 8 years of neglect, and a history of fighting a proxy war with the USSR that trained freedom fighters (now known as terrorists or insurgents for doing the same thing--trying to expel the invaders.)

There is one huge difference between Afghanistan/Pakistan and Vietnam. In Vietnam, we blundered into an anticolonial war with the misaprehension that the fall of Vietnam would lead to similar regimes throughout Southeast Asia and a threat to American hegemony. We had no appreciation for the very real ethnic differences among the countries that made that impossible. Vietnam was a culture with enough in common to strain to be a country, and survive as one. It was a war of liberation.

Afghanistan is very different. By and large, Al Queda is gone, and suspected. While Saudi money still supports the insurgency, and the Wahabi sect that provides an ideology of violent jihad, the Taliban insurrection is almost entirely a tribal phenomenon. The Pashtun are transnational, spanning eastern Afghanistan and western Pakistan, and reacting largely to being out of power. I think Obama is right, they are a threat. The dilemma is that the presence of United States soldiers, and the history of our mischief in the area, is the single common ground that fuels the insurgency.

Not Vietnam, but equally a quagmire that we fail to appreciate. Obama is not surprising anyone, and whether he is supporting troops as a believer in the strategy, or in fear of the right, I fear that it will play out much like Vietnam.
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windoggie



Joined: 22 Feb 2002
Posts: 2399

PostPosted: Wed Dec 02, 2009 11:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Those who say this is Obama's war are being disingenuous or ignorant. This is Obama's Mess. Its Bush's War. I think a little slack needs to be cut here.
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swchandler



Joined: 08 Nov 1993
Posts: 5830

PostPosted: Wed Dec 02, 2009 1:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm deeply troubled by Obama's decision to ramp up troop levels in Afghanistan, and I know I'm not alone in my feelings. So much is at stake, yet the odds of resolving the many problems there are very bleak at best, even if we chose to spend many many years there. The country in deep in a civil war, there's little faith in their government, and deep religious and cultural beliefs are at the heart of the conflict. Add to that that our involvement is interpreted by many Afghans to be the role of invaders and occupiers. To make things even worse, many of the difficult problems have been spreading into Pakistan for some time now. Not a pretty picture overall.

It will be interesting to see how the expansion of our involvement in both Afghanistan and Pakistan will be spun here in the US by political interests on both sides of the aisle and in the media. What disturbs me greatly is that the wars we have been fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan for the last 8 years aren't being paid for. How can we continue to spend money and not pay for what we're doing? I firmly believe that if income taxes had been raised to support a "pay as you go" policy, the American public would have soured on our war efforts long ago. Without a doubt, I'm sure those hawkish Republicans would have come totally unglued and completely changed their tune long ago. Just mention a tax increase, and see what happens.

As Obama highlighted in his speech last night, our efforts in Afghanistan in 2010 alone are anticipated to cost 30 billion dollars. Speaking for myself, I think that income taxes, across the board, need to be raised to cover the costs of the war. As difficult as this might seem to be with our current economy, it needs to be done. We need to start living in the real world. I wonder greatly whether the Obama Administration, Congress and the American people really understand that.
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keycocker



Joined: 10 Jul 2005
Posts: 3385

PostPosted: Wed Dec 02, 2009 3:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Excellent accurate analysis from all. The civil war has gone on for at least since Alexander the Great died. The system of gov. is typical 8th century, which by modern standards is based on bribery and murder.
Many in the world are critical of the US, but one common thread is that we have too often fought, paid and died to support corrupt heinous rulers for political expediency.Vietnam was an example, Shah of Iran, Karzai,our former support for Saddam years ago. Folks here in Latin America can add dozens of names like Bautista and the former rulers of Cuba.
When we finally stopped fighting against the leftists in Nicuaragua in support of a right wing monster, the people had a chance to hold an election and threw out the Commies. As long as were shooting on the wrong side they could never be free.
At least we have General Pireaus in charge who recently said we will never win in Afghanistan with bullets. The war will be won in the mosques and the village chiefs homes.
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geohaye



Joined: 03 Apr 2000
Posts: 1355

PostPosted: Wed Dec 02, 2009 4:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

swchandler wrote:
I'm deeply troubled by Obama's decision to ramp up troop levels in Afghanistan, and I know I'm not alone in my feelings. So much is at stake, yet the odds of resolving the many problems there are very bleak at best, even if we chose to spend many many years there. The country in deep in a civil war, there's little faith in their government, and deep religious and cultural beliefs are at the heart of the conflict. Add to that that our involvement is interpreted by many Afghans to be the role of invaders and occupiers. To make things even worse, many of the difficult problems have been spreading into Pakistan for some time now. Not a pretty picture overall.

It will be interesting to see how the expansion of our involvement in both Afghanistan and Pakistan will be spun here in the US by political interests on both sides of the aisle and in the media. What disturbs me greatly is that the wars we have been fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan for the last 8 years aren't being paid for. How can we continue to spend money and not pay for what we're doing? I firmly believe that if income taxes had been raised to support a "pay as you go" policy, the American public would have soured on our war efforts long ago. Without a doubt, I'm sure those hawkish Republicans would have come totally unglued and completely changed their tune long ago. Just mention a tax increase, and see what happens.

As Obama highlighted in his speech last night, our efforts in Afghanistan in 2010 alone are anticipated to cost 30 billion dollars. Speaking for myself, I think that income taxes, across the board, need to be raised to cover the costs of the war. As difficult as this might seem to be with our current economy, it needs to be done. We need to start living in the real world. I wonder greatly whether the Obama Administration, Congress and the American people really understand that.


Spot-on. I'll second this analysis. It is clear that our greatest national security threat is not Afghan -- it is our own war machine & the deep financial hole it just keeps digging for us.


Last edited by geohaye on Wed Dec 02, 2009 4:42 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Mulekick84



Joined: 18 Mar 2006
Posts: 345

PostPosted: Wed Dec 02, 2009 4:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I thought I was the only one scratching my head over the new troop deployment.

What is it we are trying to win when we have no clearly defined goal, other than search for Al Queda and the Tallyban. Our troops deserve a clear mission they can not only be proud of, but one that is clearly vital to America.

I saw a special on the road clearing crews. They drive this $3 Million rig down the same 10 mile road every two to three days to clear road side bombs. They drive until it blows up, haul it back to base and rebuild it, then repeat. If they see terrorists, they cannot shoot unless engaged.

Ridding that country of terrorists is the equivalent of ridding the U.S. restaurant business of cockroaches. Its not going to happen and the people will never support the U.S. Puppet Karzai.

As for paying for the abysmal mess, how's that Visa slogan go??

Obama's backpeddling on this one is concerning.
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boggsman1



Joined: 24 Jun 2002
Posts: 3571
Location: at a computer

PostPosted: Wed Dec 02, 2009 5:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

swchandler wrote:
I'm deeply troubled by Obama's decision to ramp up troop levels in Afghanistan, and I know I'm not alone in my feelings. So much is at stake, yet the odds of resolving the many problems there are very bleak at best, even if we chose to spend many many years there. The country in deep in a civil war, there's little faith in their government, and deep religious and cultural beliefs are at the heart of the conflict. Add to that that our involvement is interpreted by many Afghans to be the role of invaders and occupiers. To make things even worse, many of the difficult problems have been spreading into Pakistan for some time now. Not a pretty picture overall.

It will be interesting to see how the expansion of our involvement in both Afghanistan and Pakistan will be spun here in the US by political interests on both sides of the aisle and in the media. What disturbs me greatly is that the wars we have been fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan for the last 8 years aren't being paid for. How can we continue to spend money and not pay for what we're doing? I firmly believe that if income taxes had been raised to support a "pay as you go" policy, the American public would have soured on our war efforts long ago. Without a doubt, I'm sure those hawkish Republicans would have come totally unglued and completely changed their tune long ago. Just mention a tax increase, and see what happens.

As Obama highlighted in his speech last night, our efforts in Afghanistan in 2010 alone are anticipated to cost 30 billion dollars. Speaking for myself, I think that income taxes, across the board, need to be raised to cover the costs of the war. As difficult as this might seem to be with our current economy, it needs to be done. We need to start living in the real world. I wonder greatly whether the Obama Administration, Congress and the American people really understand that.

Its a s#$% show, no doubt. But you are not alone. Gallup has support for additional troops at 35%, something tells me that alot of the negative polling is Obama Derangement Syndrome, and mostly angry lefty's like me. Whats funny to me is the Rethugs , who got exactly what they want, more war, are still negative on the troop decision, SOLELY on the basis that Obama ordered it.
Boggsman
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snazzy4



Joined: 02 Dec 2009
Posts: 1

PostPosted: Wed Dec 02, 2009 8:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So when Bush announces a war its "Bush's war. When Obama announces a war it's "Bush's War." Something doesn't seem right in this picture.
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DanWeiss



Joined: 24 Jun 2008
Posts: 1953
Location: Connecticut, USA

PostPosted: Wed Dec 02, 2009 8:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

snazzy4 wrote:
So when Bush announces a war its "Bush's war. When Obama announces a war it's "Bush's War." Something doesn't seem right in this picture.


When did Obama announce the start of a new war? I and about one billion others must have missed that one. Something doesn't seem right in your post.
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