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June 17, 2010

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Captain Hate

When I heard that Petraeus got woozy after questions from Levin and McCain, that's exactly how I expected the respective tones of the questions to be.

Regarding Vietnam, wasn't a large part of the problem that Congress kept defunding the war?

jimmyk

wasn't a large part of the problem that Congress kept defunding the war?

Yes, but we were getting out anyway. The North knew they just had to wait it out, that we had no will to win (sound familiar?). Where the defunding really killed was when they wouldn't fund the South Vietnamese after we left. Ford to his credit went ballistic, but there was nothing he could do, and South Vietnam fell in a matter of months.

Danube of Thought

My recollection is that what the congress defunded was South Vietnam's defense, after all US troops had been withdrawn.

Also, bear in mind that in Vietnam it was not unusual for us to have 100 or more KIA in a week.

gmax

OT

TARP raises its ugly head

More than 90 U.S. banks and thrifts missed making a May 17 payment to the U.S. government under its main bank bailout program, signaling a rising number of lenders are struggling to meet their obligations.
gmax

OT

And this for a kicker ( more like a kick in the head)

In some cases, small banks are renegotiating the repayment terms. Midwest Banc Holdings [MBHI 0.0198 -0.0002 (-1%) ], for example, agreed to swap $84.8 million in preferred shares issued under the TARP program in 2008 for $15.5 million in common shares. That would have meant an 80 percent loss for the government—and the U.S. taxpayer—on the initial investment. But the swap was contingent on the bank raising more private capital, which it failed to do. Regulators seized the bank in May.

So Geithner is quietly doing write offs of TARP equity if he can push it off into the future? Where do we get these guys?

gmax

OT again

Counterparty risk?

Bank of America told its traders not to enter into trades with BP past June 2011.

This is what ultimately drove Lehman Bros to fail.

Danube of Thought

According to this site, we averaged 770 KIA per month in 1967, and 1,200 per month in 1968.

My point is simply that the two wars are simply not comparable in terms of our losses. Winning this one also would seem to be much more important than that one. Not sure it's possible, though...

jimmyk

Not sure it's possible, though...

I suspect that if we put comparable resources into Afghanistan it would be quite possible, even certain. At some point IIRC we had 500,000 troops in Vietnam. I'm not saying we should do that, but if we were willing to do it in Vietnam (and then waste it by bailing out because Walter Cronkite got the vapors)....

Danube of Thought

We did indeed have 500,000 n VN for a sustained period. My reservations are not about how many men we're willing to send, but how long we are willing to have anyone there at all.

matt

This was an e mail from a friend over there from last night:


1. For whatever reason, many of the political leaders in the United States are of the ideological camp that states, "virtually anybody can be good; we just have to present the right circumstances and stimuli to encourage it." This is commonly known as humanism, and I have personally encountered it in my current position alongside social workers. They genuinely believe that any person can be good, or made whole, or cured, and ALL that needs to be done is find/construct/tailor a suitable program or service to accommodate their needs. Fundamentally, they are all very disinclined to write off some people as habitually problematic, beyond rehabilitation, and "too far gone" to warrant any effort. This distinguishes realists from humanists. Realists, while often quite nice people, also recognize that there are many people who simply don't want to be helped, refuse to see the dysfunction of their situations, and are unlikely to see them in the immediate future. Realists move on or give up - which to a point is completely appropriate.

2. While realists are often the community accused of being very dogmatic in their thinking, I would humbly submit that it is humanists who are. More specifically, when they encounter the large grey areas of international diplomacy, clandestine operations, and other operator-level activities, they either cannot fathom that somebody might be telling them a lie, or it doesn't occur to them that an "ally" may just be somebody who appreciates some political or financial assistance and will take it from WHOMEVER offers it.

Because of this blindness, ignorance, or whatever it may be, leaders at the State dept level refuse to consider that ISI is simply preserving their own best interests, and the best interests of their OWN country - regardless of international pressure. So whereas a realist assumes that everybody is lying, the humanist refuses to accept that what they're being told is anything but golden truth.

3. The current political climate, coupled with the "political climate" of the top military leaders is such that anybody who suggests a viewpoint unpopular to the leaders themselves has severely jeopardized (or even ended) his or her career. This fosters two things: first, an environment devoid of innovation, robust and healthy debate, and clever ideas/solutions. Second, it also means that an entire operation, initiative or battle plan may be the "baby" of a single person, and all those who disagree are crucified. Naturally, putting that much authority into the hands of one person is potentially disastrous. History has proven that. Had Hitler himself better listened his general staff, the war may have had a very different outcome. That is one example...

4. Given my initial statement that Islamic culture operates radically different from our own, it goes without saying that Pakistan is, at the most basic level, protecting their own interests (regardless of the merit of such an endeavor). In this particular case, they want to maintain the total instability of Afghanistan, and since on some level they rather enjoy killing non-Muslims, such a position, however private, is popular.

5. Pakistan doesn't act based on very tight, black and white moral decisions. Pakistan acts on who they want less powerful, more powerful, and who has more money. Obviously, they don't want to piss off the US too much, because they fear that the US will bomb them mercilessly. So, they demonstrate a halfhearted effort to appear helpful towards US interests, the US feeds them enormous sums of money, and all the humanists in the US State Dept are convinced that it's working. Truth is, Pakistanis still hate us, still would like to see us gone, and are only tolerating us either out of fear of being bombed to kingdom come, or because the only thing they enjoy more than killing Americans is American money.

6. A photojournalist recently explained to me that he saw things like this: if your neighbor has cockroaches, eventually they're going to infest your apartment. You can have regular and frequent visits from an exterminator, but you will continue to have cockroaches until your neighbor has completely rid his house of the pests as well. Afghanistan has cockroaches, and will continue to have them for as long as Pakistan continues to have the greatest source of the infestation (in this case, a great deal if international, financial, and "spiritual" backing). We're cutting off arms and not attacking the head. Just how much we're willing to do will determine how successful we will be.

7. Because the situation is extremely complex and humanists dearly want to believe that the problem, at its core, isn't an Islamic culture that encourages, sanctions, and celebrates killing all those not like them. Nor do humanists want to acknowledge how many of leaders' decisions are influenced by money. Free from immediate danger, an Afghan or Pakistani will choose the highest bidder - regardless of who it may be.

I sincerely believe that this problem boils down to the nearly childlike ignorance of our policy advisors and state department. Anybody who sincerely believes that you can come to a hostile community, have some health clinic events, pave a road and dig a well and suddenly they'll all love you is an idiot. And that's precisely the plan they're attempting. You can buy an ally, but it's temporary at best. And often times they'll smile, take your money, and knife you in the back anyway. Kindness, in Pashtun Islamic culture, is seen as a laughable weakness and INVITES exploitation. The United States, Matt, are the saps here.

We must also factor in political correctness. While some advisors probably genuinely believe that the Afghans are great people and just need to have a little "space" to pursue self-determination, I would hazard to guess that many more outright refuse to consider that the problem isn't that they're underserved, but that they're members of a very radical Islamic group who see killing in the name of Allah as the end-state.

While the Koran may very clearly document right and wrong, it also makes provision to break these rules for a host of reasons. The end result is that murder may be wrong, but killing for a Jihad is welcomed and celebrated. Jihads can be had for a variety of reasons. In the Pashtun Wali code, provision for one's family takes precedence over all things - even if it means killing somebody else.

My point: Nothing is black in Pashtun Islamic culture. Nor is anything white. Everything is grey, and depending on one's mood, how financially beneficial or convenient something is, it will be right, wrong, or just something you to do survive. It is a culture of moral flexibility, ambiguity, etc. Unfortunately, our top officials either don't know this, or refuse to publicly say it. And let us also consider that you cannot convince somebody that freedom is nicer than bondage. The operative portion of the term "self determination" is "self." In other words, the Afghans really don't want much better, and really neither do the Pakistanis. They see this as normal life. Switching sides isn't dishonorable, nor is working for both sides simultaneously. It's seen as clever and perhaps just plain necessary. They're probably laughing at how stupid the Americans are to give money to Pakistanis, but also laughing at the Taliban that they're gullible enough to be compelled to Jihad against a superior enemy - all in the name of Islam, money, personal profit, fun, boredom, Jihad, Allah, etc. Take your pick. the motives are diverse.

So, as it all pertains to the ROE and tactical directive, I would argue that the directive is humanistic to a fault. Example: a man who is caught laying an IED in a village can't be shot on sight. No, they detain him (with more rights than a criminal detained in the UNITED STATES), take him to the local elder or shura leaders, encourage those leaders to punish the man accordingly, and then walk away. As you might imagine, the man is told to not do it again (or just don't get caught next time), and sent away. This is if he's told anything at all. A local maybe too afraid of the Taliban to even say that. At any rate, the guy gets off scot-free, nothing is improved, no enemy is removed, etc. Rather than "legitimizing" the local govt, you have simply indicated their total weakness, incompetence, and moral flexibility. Thus, Matt, we will never win. The horses have been led to water repeatedly, but have never once indicated an interest in drinking. Self takes priority in all situations... Not nation, not region, not pride, etc. Maybe Islam, but that's subject to debate, too. In the end, I think Money is the most powerful motivator for much of anything (within the civilian population), and hatred within the Taliban ranks. With the ISI, it's all about convenience and "interests."

Why is our ROE humanistic? Why do we think that people who aren't starved for freedom are suddenly going to discover that deep sentiment of the heart by simply seeing us hand out candy, pave a few roads, and maybe fix a well or two? Are we really that naive about a culture that has existed as they are now for more than 1,000 years? God help us if we are... I'd like to see US policy reflect realism more than humanism. Not hatred, but common sense.

matt

Re: Vietnam

Congress welshed on every agreement we had with the Republic of Vietnam in 1974 and 1975. We turned our backs on our treaty obligations and previously committed materiel and assistance. It was one of the most disgraceful episodes in our history.

narciso

At one level, I understand the great power issues, strategic depth vis a vis India, on the other haven't they figured they are aiding
a movement that has no allegiance to the current government, because they consider them
to be in a state of 'dhaliya' I think is the
term

Frau Logisch

"I'd like to see US policy reflect realism more than humanism. Not hatred, but common sense."

Short enough for billboards, matt. Many of us knew this at the beginning of this.

Danube of Thought

"It was one of the most disgraceful episodes in our history."

Without a shadow of a doubt. It was the modern Democratic party at its absolute worst, and it caused enormous human suffering and death.

Ignatz

--We're cutting off arms and not attacking the head.--

That's what we did in Viet Nam. That's why the war took so long and why we lost it; we left having amputated the arms of an octopus which was quite willing to sacrifice them and knew it could easily regenerate them as long as we left the North intact.
It's also why we're still defending South Korea 60 years later although in that case the head straddled the border with China and there was considerably more risk of a wider war erupting.

matt

Gerald Ford and the moderate Republicans were right there with the Dems on that as well, DoT. They were trying to avoid the Nixon radioactivity.

gmax

From the Telegraph

It's hard to believe that any politician could become more disliked in the UK than Gordon Brown, but Barack Obama is achieving that in spades. ...

I am sure PUK is of a firm mind that Gordy is still more disliked, even from his current elevated view...

jimmyk

Gerald Ford and the moderate Republicans were right there with the Dems

I don't think that's completely fair to Ford. He sought the aid for SV and Congress refused. It's true that Jacob Javitz (nominally an R) was among the most vocal of the traitors opposition.

DrJ

Barack Obama is achieving that in spades.

Racists!

Danube of Thought

August 14, 1997:

INTERVIEWER: Can we move on now to the Vietnam and what happened in 1975, if you could describe to what degree it was inevitable that South Vietnam would be taken over by the north, the fall of Saigon and whether the US could have done more to prevent that.

GERALD FORD: You have to go back to the Paris Accord of January of 1973, when the north Vietnamese and the United States made the following agreement. The North Vietnamese would remove all of their military from South Vietnam and they would release all US prisoners of war. And we the United States at the same time in order to get South Vietnamese cooperation agreed to provide military aid and economic assistance to the South Vietnamese. Unfortunately and very very regrettably, the north Vietnamese after signing the peace accord did not withdraw their military personnel from South Vietnam, and as a matter of fact added north Vietnamese military forces in South Vietnam and equally unfortunately the Congress of the United States refused to supply the kind of military assistance that was necessary to keep the south Vietnamese military forces strong, and the net result was it was inevitable under those circumstances that Saigon would fall. The North Vietnamese violated the Paris accords, and our Congress here in the United States refused to supply the necessary military assistance for the South Vietnamese. Under those circumstances the result was inevitable.

JM Hanes

I can hardly bear to think about the debacle that is unfolding in Afghanistan. I was actually encouraged when Obama decided to beef up our troops there, despite the deadline he allowed others in his administration to describe every which way without further clarification from the White House.

I now believe it was just more of the usual political theatrics, in which Pres. Obama plays the role of hardnosed C-i-C willing and able to fight the "good war" -- just long enough to put paid to his own sustained campaign rhetoric. As long as his drones take out monthly "high value" targets, he figures that his tough guy image can take care of itself, and that he's got generals or unprecedented circumstances, yada, yada, to blame for failure.

Clarice

I feel sorry for the troops there..Soylent's going soon and I've another young friend I adore due to be shipped out soon. Imagine putting up with all that under this CiC who obviously carries nothing for the men or the mission...

glasater

Zero didn't send the amount of troops requested and set a deadline.
The outcome can be expected.

Janet

I believe the military burned Bibles that had been sent over to Afghanistan. Written in Pashto and Dari. I mean we wouldn't want any other ideas, cultures, or beliefs getting into Afghanistan...that whole Islam thing is working so well for them.
IMO if no light is allowed into the darkness then we might as well get out. Nothing will permanently change without new ideas, cultures, and beliefs being allowed in.

matt

the troops reciprocate the feelings about Obama, by the way.

There is hope, but only if the "realist" position is established. The ISI must be spanked hard and the message that Pakistan will bear the consequences must follow. Otherwise, the Taliban will continue to be funded and allowed to launch operations from safe havens. Fix and there is a good chance our efforts in Afghanistan will succeed.

There are many Taliban commanders willing to sit down and talk, but the ISI has them by the throat. They see their own casualties and their own civilians being killed and maimed. Soldiers, especially after so many years of war, long for peace in whichever culture you care to discuss.

But according to the LSE report, the ISI continue to stir the pot with the most egregious and violent incidents. Assassinations, bridges blown up, destruction of schools, and attacks on civilians, especially children and especially, female students can mainly be traced back to the ISI according to the report's author. Their goal is utter havoc.

My suggestion was to begin targeting the ISI.

As to Bibles, Janet, that would be a good way to inflame the radicals even further. Do we want to get out of there and leave a stable environment or set of another Crusades? We can argue these issues all day long from our computers, but the price is paid in blood when religious zeal is involved. Ask some of the poor Christians still living in Pakistan. They are already becoming martyrs for their faith.

boris

"inflame the radicals even further"

Okay.

bunkerbuster

Whoever wrote Matt's long post mistakes cynicism for realism. Realism recognizes both humanism and cynicism as windows on reality that can be variously useful in promoting understanding, depending on the situation. Realism isn't challenged by humanism, it is enhanced by it and applies the view as an essential PART of understanding the broadest patterns of human behavior.
Cynicism is challenged by humanism because its assertions are narrow or, even, exclusive. Realists understand that cynicism is self-limiting in that a true cynic can't trust himself to be honest and, therefore, in the absence of humanism, can only be naive.
Matt's friends comments about Islam reflect exactly that kind of superficial mobius-strip kind of logic. The assertion is that the problems of Afghanistan are the result of bad religion. Yet the solution is not the provision of better ideas, it's the application of military force. Perhaps that why Matt's friend's screed is so short on the details of how and where such military force could be applied. Thus also the obvious moral confusion embedded in the example of the "guy caught planting an IED." Matt's friend's idea is that the person should be shot on site. While this is rather obviously a default to Pashtunwali-style simpletonism, that's not the biggest reason it's silly. Realists, and even cynics, understand that jurisprudence protects the innocent more than the guilty. It's philosophical underpinning is that, unless you make effort to prove evil, you can never fight it effectively. So it is with the IED planter that Matt's friend would shoot on site, rather than turn over to the local authorities, such as they are. No trial, no evidence, no defense. Shot on site. The realist knows that means you shoot a guy who might have been digging for potatoes or taking a crap and covering it up with sand or doing any one of a literally infinite number of things other than planting an IED. Matt's friend is neither realist nor a cynic. He or she is a special variety of humanist. The insecure, irrational humanist who deliberately eschews a full view of human behavior in a favor of a narrow, exclusive code that addresses his or her emotional needs, rather than reality. The realist and the cynic would assume the worst in U.S. troops, of course, as well as the worst in Pashtun gangsters. Matt's friend doesn't even think about going there, and, instead, relies on the naked assertion that an especially naive brand of humanism is "realistic."

Danube of Thought

I feel sorry for them too. Once it dawns on you that the commander-in-chief is not determined to win the war, it becomes very demoralizing to risk your butt anymore. Ask anybody who was in Vietnam after April 1, 1968.

bunkerbuster

I meant to write: The cynic would assume the worst, period, for American troops as well as Pashtun gangsters. (Realists consider the full complexity and range of human motives and would, therefore, see good and bad in both sides, though of course not necessarily in equal measure.)

Janet

I am just mindful of this quote -
"In a more culturally confident age, the British in India were faced with the practice of "suttee" - the tradition of burning widows on the funeral pyres of their husbands. Gen. Sir Charles Napier was impeccably multicultural:
"You say that it is your custom to burn widows. Very well. We also have a custom: When men burn a woman alive, we tie a rope around their necks, and we hang them. Build your funeral pyre; beside it, my carpenters will build a gallows. You may follow your custom. And then we will follow ours."
Mark Steyn quoting Gen. Napier

Now I don't think it is the job of the military to be handing out Bibles. They should ruthlessly kill our enemies and open the door for freedom to enter. But if nothing "new" can enter....then we might as well get out & just kill with drone strikes. A new road or building changes nothing if some of the customs, lifestyles, and evil beliefs are not changed.

I know what I'm saying won't make a difference. The West no longer has any confidence in their own beliefs...we don't even know what they are any more. These days we'd probably encourage more "suttee" building if the Koran declared it a good thing.

narciso

You think about the madrassah is the start of the problem, they turn out the bulk of Taliban
fighters, ISI is largely responsible, along with General Intelligence affiliated outfits like IIRO

Rob Crawford

[The abandonment of South Vietnam] was the modern Democratic party at its absolute worst, and it caused enormous human suffering and death.

Absolute worst? I think they've been trying to top it ever since.

Neo

This sure beats those toys ...

Star Wars fans rejoice: someone has finally succeeded in creating a working lightsaber. And it can be yours for only US$197.97.
Hong Kong company Wicked Lasers has manufactured “the most dangerous laser ever created,” a lightsaber with a blue beam that can burn retinas and set skin on fire.
The Spyder III Pro Arctic features a 1 watt laser the company warns is the most powerful portable laser available. The beam is a thousand times more powerful than sunlight on skin and the manufacturer warns it could cause cancer.

Rob Crawford

These days we'd probably encourage more "suttee" building if the Koran declared it a good thing.

There'd be government-funded community pyres in San Francisco and Seattle. NOW would be declaring it's a woman's right to choose to burn herself to death. The press would publish tut-tut pieces about the "intolerance" of conservatives who object. Conors Friedersdorf, Frum, et. al. would tell us how important it is to ally ourselves with "traditional cultures" and not be so damned objectionable.

BobS

Muslim hatred for anything that has to do with the west cannot be excused away by university gas. The American left likes to make it about religion. Any element of the DNC likes to make hitting the bully back about George Bush, yet they question the intelligence of detractors to their argument. Maybe it's time to not only question their intelligence, but their moral brevirty as well.

qrstuv

It seems fairly clear to me that 1) Islam is toxic to civilization, and 2) Muslims will not stand up to reform this religion in any real number unless outside pressure is applied. (Witness 1400 years of conquest, pillaging, and sword-end conversions.)

Perhaps it is impossible for Muslims to redefine their religion in a manner compatible with civilization.

All I can say is that I'm glad we gave outside pressure a try.

matt


The people I know over there are some of the smartest and most cosmopolitan in the world. They speak the languages and in some cases live with the Afghan people. They have been there over and over in varying capacities as reporters, soldiers, aid workers, and diplomats.Some of them have been there on and off for the last 9 years. I think they have a pretty good idea of what they are talking about at this point.

On the other hand, there is a pollyanna element running national policy that resides primarily in the State Department and upper reaches of our executive and legislative branches. If they couldn't wrap their heads around the facts after 9/11 they sure aren't going to get them now. The president devotes more time to his golf game than he does to the wars we are fighting.

Pakistan, and by extension, wahabbism, deobandism and Pashtunwali, excludes alternative beliefs almost entirely. Ethics are strictly situational with the exception of a few core beliefs such as hostility to foreigners and foreign ideas of most kinds. Conspiracy theories abound, so even when presented with the truth, getting most people over to believe their own eyes is almost impossible.

There is a major debate going on at present on a plan forward. McChrystal's original plan has already morphed 2-3 times. Marjah is worse than it was, and Kandahar is looking more difficult by the day.

Troops are taking fire and casualties every single day now both because of higher operational tempos and higher enemy activity. Field troops are very upset with the current rules of engagement and believe that the ROE's are a root cause of the additional casualties.

In the meantime, the people who would sell us out just as they did the South Vietnamese are still there and with greater power than ever before. There is a reason John Kerry got a pardon from Jimmy Carter. I believe that it was his contacts with the North Vietnamese while still a reserve naval officer. Look who Obama has on point now.

Afghanistan/Pakistan is not some kumbaya bullshit environment where the natives all love us. It is corrupt beyond comprehension. There are so many vendettas and feuds and criminal activities wrapped in the words of the Koran it is almost impossible to diagram the relationships and you feel dirty doing so.

it's a war zone, not a court room, and if you catch the enemy in the act of trying to kill you, you kill him. Be thankful we're not the Russians who killed whole villages to teach lessons.Killing Taliban with kindness doesn't work. Killing enough of them does. Killing some senior ISI leaders works best.The Afghans respect the strongest tribe, and before all else, one has to have their respect.

squaredance

Actually the error is not mistaking cynicism for realism. Ole BB needs to look up that word, it does not mean what he thinks it does.

BB is so lost in his juvenile evasions of the the decent and adult that he cannot even think clearly.

No, the author of the note has that part right. it is on the other side of his dichotomy where he errs: It is not humanism, but solipsism. Clearly, "Humanism" has a concise and time honored usage and meaning, and usage here certainly does not fit that meaning. Perhaps he mean "humanitarian", but even this is not a correct description.

The real error is confusing what he calls "humanism" for anything other than than the moral vanity of bleeding heart liberals and its attendant and vainglorious high self-regard. Is it not even being pollyannish or woolly headed. It is wallowing in self-importance. This is the point, meaning and destination of it all. That and looking out for one's government funded "career". It is not "humanism" it is smug and venal moral pretentiousness. In a very real sense this so called "humanism" is deeply "cynical".

In fact, there is very little that one can do for another in private life, let alone through government institutions. Welfare programs, social services and etc. do much more harm to the broader culture than they ever do good for the particular individuals they claim to addres. They rarely solve the problems for even the the "best" cases, such as they are, never mind the worst one. If you think otherwise I suggest you head down to the inner city of any democrat controlled urban political machine in this nation. Go to a supermarket there and watch the food stamps and the welfare cards come out of the pockets of drug addicts wearing $70 sneakers. It is deeply hard to improve ones own moral failing let alone that of another. It is a complete myth that our welfare state aids anyone but politicians and their lackeys. That is its chief purpose.

As to applying this to war, again, it is the wrong formulation. It is a noxious categorical error.

War are to be fought and won. Our enemies are to be annihilated. In this case, the enemy is to be destroyed and the area cordoned off. I have been there. I have been all around there. They are not nations. they will never be nations, not nations as we think of nations in the Westphalian sense.

Have a gander at what is going on in the Rep of Kyrgyz. There are not "good guys" and "bad guys" over there, there are opposing criminal organizations. This is their common condition. This is how they will always be unless some superior power takes overarching command.

While I laud GWB's efforts in the WOT (remember that phrase?), he was wrong about this. We should destroy our enemies in the Islamic world pure and simple. Set Islam into gazing inward for another 400 year. National building in AG? Preposterous.

narciso

Well I'd suspect some old fashioned provocation is involved in the Kirghiz,
by the siloviki's. Karzai is not perfect,
as was Massoud, but what is the real alternative

bunkerbuster

Matt sounds confused: ``Be thankful we're not the Russians who killed whole villages to teach lessons.Killing Taliban with kindness doesn't work. Killing enough of them does.''

Worked beautifully for the Russians, didn't it? And how many Taliban do you think need to be killed? We can't even define who's Taliban and who isn't in Afghanistan, and you're obviously informed enough to know that, so I can only assume your ideas are formed in denial. If you really believed American values were superior to Pashtunwali and, indeed, to Soviet chauvinism, you'd address the fact that simply killing enough Taliban will achieve nothing other than the extra cost of more ordnance.

glasater

Long time writer and bureau chief for the NYT John Burns has always maintained the only thing the ME understands is power. It may be too simplistic to put it that way but there it is.

And has anyone seen any resolution to this situation:
TERROR EXCLUSIVE: Alert Issued for 17 Afghan Military Members AWOL From U.S. Air Force Base?

Tammy Bruce was tweeting this not that long ago.

Janet

Great posts Matt...and I agree qrstuv

narciso

Massoud and co, did most of the fighting, Hekmatyar to use one example, seemed more interested in killing fellow Afghans than Soviets

Clarice

So Jindal has these oil sucking barges out there. He arranged them t protect the Louisiana coast and what do you think Oman did? His guys halted the boats to check for compliance with safety regs.
Obamacare will be fantastic!

glasater

Yes Clarice-and here it is:

BP Oil Spill: Against Gov. Jindal's Wishes, Crude-Sucking Barges Stopped by Coast Guard

Melinda Romanoff

matt-

Thank you for the more "nuanced" education for us naifs. I do take earplugs out while driving, unlike some others.

bunkerbuster

``the only thing the ME understands is power.''

Isn't the sum wingnut view here vehemently that the only thing that ever matters is power? This blog is case closing evidence that the only thing that matters to conservatives is military power...says it all that they then think that's a criticism of the enemy...

bunkerbuster

Squared opines: ``food stamps and the welfare cards come out of the pockets of drug addicts wearing $70 sneakers.''

And from there he gets to let's kill all the bad guys. This is the appeal of teabag conservatism: it gives you a one-size-fits all template for every problem in the world -- from welfare to terrorism. Details and nuance are a waste of time once you've got a template that always produces the same right answer...

Melinda Romanoff

Keep going, since you're being paid per post.

Try using one word per post.

Randomly, mind you, it'll make the same amount of sense.

fdcol63

We are where we are in this conflict with militant Islamists because they perceive us as weak - too impatient and unwilling to use our superior military strength to defend ourselves, as well as too risk averse and unwilling to suffer whatever casualties are necessary to do so.

They, on the other hand, still measure time in centuries and generations, and are quite willing to sacrifice as many of their own as are necessary to defeat us.

They understand us better than we understand ourselves, and have proven capable of using our own Western values and ideals against us to their advantage in this struggle.

These values and ideals include the following:

* Our priority on peaceful conflict resolution through diplomacy and dialogue.

* Our insistence on obeying the "rule of law".

* Concern for civilians and non-combatants, and our desire to minimize collateral damage.

* Our fetish for PC "tolerance", "diversity" and "multiculturalism", and our guilt over the Crusades and colonialism.

If we don't change and adapt our own tactics and strategies to counter theirs, we will lose this fight.

But what about the wimminfolk?

Shot like a rabbit, in a run.
===========

qrstuv

fdcol63, I recommend to you Hanson's _Culture and Carnage_.

matt

those who do not study history are doomed to repeat it.

Saddam Hussein lied and bluffed and murdered his way through the 1980's and 90's. He started a war that killed close to 600,000 soldiers that featured WW I tactics and the use of poison gas. The world stayed silent.

He then started another war of aggression and thought he could get away with it. He almost did.

The Iranians have been using harsh tactics since the days of the Shah. The Turks against the Kurds. The Taliban were the horror of Asia, and were overthrown by a few thousand equally half assed soldiers of the Northern Alliance with the help of some B-52's. The only military lesson of all of this is the cruelty, cowardice, and depravity of the Middle Eastern warrior.

if there were any understanding of some of the fundamental facts of the region by the Left, perhaps the paradigm might change. But it won't, because the cold hard facts don't coincide with the phony narrative they have been pushing for the past 40 years.

Bill in AZ sez it's time for Zero to resign

Great stuff matt. Thanks. I don't know how you convey any of this to anyone who is only a surface type. It's hard enough to plow through the disconnected, muddled drivel of the koran when you truly want to understand what makes these folks tick, much less try to get anyone else to pay any attention to it who just wants someone to reassuringly tell them it's a piece-ful religion.

JM Hanes

bunky:

Oh my, all those words just to confirm you've never been anywhere near a battlefield. Unlike a lot of other folks around here.

bunkerbuster

Matt asserts: ``He started a war that killed close to 600,000 soldiers that featured WW I tactics and the use of poison gas. The world stayed silent.''

Blatantly false. Kurdish leader Jalal Talabani and sympathetic groups from Amnesty International to Democratic congressmen were screaming bloody murder. Iran was demanding global action, accusing the Saddam regime of genocide. Lefties from Noam Chomsky to Alex Cockburn routinely cited Saddam as a prime example of U.S. support for brutal tyranny in the third world. While Kissinger quipped "it's too bad they both can't lose.''
The problem wasn't that the world was silent but that the Reagan administration was backing Saddam! And it kept backing him at the height of his atrocities, including the Halabja massacre. The U.S. government would still be backing Saddam had he not become a threat to the Saudi monarchy at just the moment George HW Bush was facing a recession and needed to prove he wasn't a "wimp."
Silence? The sad part isn't that Matt doesn't know this history because, I'd bet, he does. What's sad is that he so covets the perfection of his ideological template that he'd rather expose himself as ignorant of basic history than miss the chance to pretend that all wars are just like WWII and all swarthy dictators who oppose the U.S. are just like Hitler.
History fits no ideological templates. Sorry guys, reality is far, far more complicated. If the "kill'em all" approach worked, the entire world would already be Mongolian, or Roman or probably even some other tribe that, instead, in the real world, warred its way out of existence.

bunkerbuster

``Taliban were the horror of Asia..''

Do your friends ever send you maps Matt? You should take a look. Afghanistan: not in Asia. But, hey, you're ideologically correct to a T, and that's all that matters at JOM...

fdcol63

So, liberals like Chomsky, Cockburn, the Dems, and bunkerbuster claim that we helped to create the monster that Saddam became. (Never mind the fact that we supported Saddam over Iran because Iran had already proved itself an arch-enemy of the US.)

If that's the case, then we had a moral obligation to rid the world of Saddam when he BECAME that monster.

Bush and the US did that - despite overwhelming opposition from these same critics on the Left. To be honest, tt was gratifying seeing Saddam's head pop off when they hanged him.

No wonder we can't beat them, the Taliban haven't even been on the same continent with us.

Your being wrong on Halabja pales into comparison with being wrong on Afghanistan and Asia.
=======================

narciso

I know, that;s why they had MIGS, Roland missiles, and other typically American weapons in their arsenal (sarc)

Your beliefs are murderous, my fine sad feathered friend; history proves it.  Now, read up.

Some day, bb, you are going to understand that what you perceive as history is a pale simulacrum of it, framed by the need for fantasy ideology.
==========

Janet

Amnesty International to Democratic congressmen were screaming

That is sorta the point isn't it? All the left ever does is scream. Hold meetings, issue papers, and scream....while people are slaughtered and our nation is later attacked.
Our military is finally allowed to take action, and the left begins it's dance...hold meetings, issue papers, and scream.

narciso

True, Janet, then just two years after Halabja, they opposed action against him in Kuwait, even cried 'crocodile tears' over the Special Republican Guards that made it all possible, who were blown away, on the "Highway of Death"

fdcol63

The only criticism I have of the "Highway of Death" incident is that we didn't kill ALL of them.

qrstuv

Janet, I'll repost a comment I copied from Tim Blair a couple of years ago:

"For half a century the Left has been ragging and raging at the Right, especially the United States, for realpolitik aimed at stability. “Propping up dictators!” they cried. “Supporting death squads that oppress the people and generate misery!” And they sponsored Wars of National Liberation against the people they didn’t like.

And then one day George Bush said (paraphrasing), “Well, there’s something to be said for that view, and besides, it doesn’t even work, doesn’t provide any real stability. So from now on we’ll be deposing the dictators and trying to introduce Government based on liberal principles.”

Upon the instant came a mighty squealing and a choking cloud of blue-gray smoke, as the Left destroyed a year’s production from Michelin in a simultaneous, unbelievably coordinated bootlegger’ turn. “No, no, no! Stability and realpolitik are the only possibly ethical goals and methods! Well-run dictatorships are infinitely preferable to messy contradictory democracies.”

It wasn’t hard for them, of course. All those years of overnight doctrine switches when Moscow Central wanted something new were invaluable practice. But you should never be bashful about reminding the present-day Left that when we Rightists took their part, they took ours with the enthusiasm of converts.

Regards,
Ric "

narciso

Just like they saw the Shah as this ogre, I'd say he was as incompetent as Nicholas 11, but
didn't have anywhere near the contempt for
Khomeini, the Stalin of the picture

Incoherent loons, out of their cottonpickin' minds, and with deadly beliefs.

Not to mention, qrstuv, the inherent racism in the left's belief that other cultures aren't suitable for democracy.
==========================

matt

you idiot, you forgot the Iran-Iraq war.

matt

And one more thing, Asia begins at the Bosporus.

macphisto

"Afghanistan: not in Asia." that's an all-time discreditor of equivalent quality to the infamous "Kyoto dialect."

fdcol63

What's next? "France: not in Europe"? Hahahahaha!

narciso

I think we found Otto from a "Fish called Wanda"

If we bomb them, they'll progress to the stone age.

Hey, as far as I can tell, Afghanistan is 'out of this world'.
===========================

Ignatz

--Do your friends ever send you maps Matt? You should take a look. Afghanistan: not in Asia.--

Holy Toledo.
Now accepting nominees for the most ignorant statement of the year, however all others would seem to be contending for second place at this point.
I wonder if Strawdummy could tell us what part of "was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor" makes it a joke.

The whirlwind in his head.

Furthermore, I don't think Afghanistan is in Kansas anymore.
==========================

Janet

LUN is the Dems big concern...Are we using renewable energy on our bases is Afghanistan.

Progressive dhimmitude.  Allah Akbar!

When Muslim fundamentalists think an effete West will be a pushover, they are thinking we are all Democrats.
=====================

bunkerbuster

Afghanistan straddles Central Asia and the Middle East. Always has and always well, never part of Asia.
To assert, as Matt did that: "The Taliban were the horror of Asia'' one has to believe not only that Afghanistan and Pakistan are Asian countries, but that the Taliban operate elsewhere, eastward, in what maps call Asia.
Assuming, of course, that facts are relevant...

narciso

They call that whole area, SouthWest Asia, moron

bunkerbuster

``the infamous "Kyoto dialect."
Wrong again, Macfisto. It was "daddy'' who claimed the existence of an "Osaka dialect," by way of defending his earlier claim that the Japanese word for toilet is "binjo" (It's benjo) and it's pronounced that way from Kagoshima to Hokkaido. I corrected daddy by pointing out that there is no such thing as an Osaka dialect. There are, of course, a handful of citywide pronunciations -- much as you'd find say, in Los Angeles, as distinct from, say, San Francisco. But there is no Osaka dialect, any more than there is a Los Angeles dialect or, say, a San Antonio dialect.
There is certainly a Kansai dialect, which is what I explained to daddy, that sent him running to amazon.com to produce a couple of books referring to the Osaka dialect. But you can find books on amazon referring to How to Eat More and Lose Weight, Voodoo Economics and Saddam Hussein's alliance with Al Qaeda. That doesn't mean they exist and the same goes for the Osaka dialect.
Kansai is the western Pacific Coast region of Japan including the cities of Osaka, Kyoto and Kobe. The Japanese spoken there differs enough from that most common in Tokyo that it warrants the distinction of dialect and people who live in Osaka say they speak Kansai-ben, while it is certainly possible that they could say some specific words could be deemed Osaka-ben, but "ben" is a shade closer to "accent'' than to "dialect.''

bunkerbuster

``They call that whole area, SouthWest Asia''
indeed. like I said: not Asia.

funny, though, that narciso feels like snarking the blurry distinction between Central Asia and Southwest Asia, but not about woeful and misleading imprecision and inaccuracy of claiming the taliban were "the terror of Asia''

Ignatz

--``They call that whole area, SouthWest Asia''
indeed. like I said: not Asia.--

No, you lying, chickenshit, obfuscator, you said "Afghanistan: not *in* Asia."
You have already proven your idiocy time and again. Do you really wish to prove your "intellectual dishonesty" (one of your favorite projections) by not simply admitting you made a bonehead mistake that a lot of second graders wouldn't make?

bunkerbuster

Ignatz: If I said, the U.S. is invading Asia, you'd curse like Dick Cheney, accuse me of ingesting hallucinogens and repeat the claim for years whenever my name came up. Were I to attempt to rationalize the statement by pointing out that the U.S. is invading Afghanistan, you'd laugh even louder. But when Matt says ``The Taliban were the terror of Asia,'' you ignore the boneheaded mistake and find yourself arguing against someone who points out that Afghanistan isn't in Asia. Whatever. We all contribute what we can. If that's your best shot in this debate, I wonder why you bother.
If a hedge fund prospectus said it was investing in Asia, and it turned out to be buying mineral rights in Afghanistan, I'm pretty sure the SEC would be having words with them. If you were to discuss the history of Asia, and center the analysis on the comings and goings of Afghan governments, you'd be booted from any academic post above kindergarten.
Pashto, Urdu and Dari share Iranian, Aryan and, ultimately, Indo-European roots, distinct from Asian languages. Religion, of course, is surely the most relevant aspect in discussing the Taliban and there we find the root is clearly in the Middle East, far from Asia.
Afghanistan straddles Central Asia and the Middle East. To equate it with Asia is woefully imprecise and a "bonehead mistake."

Tell me, bb, what continent is the Middle East in?

Here we have a marvelous illustration of bunkerbuster's, and parenthetically the left's, ability to mesmerize themselves with sophistry.
=================

BobDenver

Bunkerbuster thinks there are 57 continents.

Ignatz

--you ignore the boneheaded mistake and find yourself arguing against someone who points out that Afghanistan isn't in Asia--

Bunker, you ignorant slut. By "points out" are you still contending Afghansitan is not in Asia?
Just as an aside, The Taliban are largely a creation of Pakistan and are largely in control of it's NW provinces, so your false limitation of their presence to only Afghanistan is further proof of your titanic ignorance and matt's description of these brutal throwbacks as the terror of Asia is not without considerable merit.

--Pashto, Urdu and Dari share Iranian, Aryan and, ultimately, Indo-European roots, distinct from Asian languages. Religion, of course, is surely the most relevant aspect in discussing the Taliban and there we find the root is clearly in the Middle East, far from Asia.--

Pardon my French but God you are a fucking idiot. Except for Egypt, the Middle East IS PART OF ASIA, dipshit. Israel, Jordan, Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, etc are all in Asia as is Saudi Arabia home of the religion you apparently think is not Asiatic.
Read a book, would ya?

hit and run

--``They call that whole area, SouthWest Asia''
indeed. like I said: not Asia.--

That's why all the hullabalooooo about the Arizona law is so misplaced.

Arizona, SouthWest US...indeed...not US.

Oh yeah...

If a hedge fund prospectus said it was investing in the US, and it turned out to be buying mineral rights in Arizona, I'm pretty sure the SEC would be having words with them.

Take that wingnut teabaggerz!

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