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Afghan Protests Prove, It’s Time For Us To Leave

The fallout over the accidental burning of several copies of the Koran at an American base in Afghanistan shows no sign of letting up. Yesterday, two Americans were killed inside the Afghan Interior Ministry in what was apparently a Taliban attack by an Afghan solider who has since gone missing. Today, protests in the northern part of the country led to seven American injuries in a grenade attack:

Seven U.S. military trainers were wounded on Sunday when a grenade was thrown at their base in northern Afghanistan, police said, as anti-Western fury deepened over the burning of the Koran at a NATO base.

Despite an apology from U.S. President Barack Obama, riots raged across the country for a sixth day on Sunday against the desecration of the Muslim holy book at a NATO air base at Bagram. Some protesters hoisted the white Taliban flag.

The Afghan Interior Ministry identified one of its employees as a suspect in the fatal shooting of two U.S. officers in its headquarters a day earlier, an attack that prompted NATO to recall its staff from ministries.

One civilian was killed, 15 more were wounded and three policemen injured in riots near the NATO base in northern Kunduz province, where the blast that wounded the Americans took place, regional police chief Samihullah Qatra told reporters.

NATO confirmed there had been an explosion outside one of its bases in northern Afghanistan, but declined to comment on casualties.

The protests have killed 30 people and wounded 200, including two other U.S. troops who were shot dead by an Afghan soldier who joined rallies in the country’s east.

The Koran burnings could make it far harder for NATO forces to win the trust of the Afghan public as they try to stabilise the country ahead of the withdrawal of foreign combat troops at the end of 2014.

Even without the Koran burning incident, though, I have got to wonder why anyone would think that this “stabilization” mission would succeed to begin with. Dave Schuler puts it best in a post over at his own site:

We’ve done our best to make the Afghans prosperous. Clearly, they would much rather that we leave so they can go back to killing and abusing each other without whatever hindrance that we provide. The difference between us and the Taliban can be summarized succinctly: the Taliban cuts off young women’s ears and noses and leaves them for dead; we restore those noses and ears and try to heal their scars.

And in return all we get is hatred and attacks. Really, what’s the point anymore? Why are we bothering to try to civilize a nation that clearly is either incapable of being civilized or simply just doesn’t want to join the 21st Century? Surely we have to understand that if the Soviets were incapable of suppressing this type of fanaticism and even the mighty British Empire found itself in a quagmire in the Hindu Kush  that the odds that we’d be able to do any better is nothing other than sheer folly? How many times do we have to keep repeating the same mistake over and over again?

I’ve talked with several pro-war conservatives about this issue since the rioting started. All they seem to want to talk about is condemning the actions of the Afghans who are rioting and killing over the burning of a book.  On some level, they’re right. It is barbaric and idiotic to riot and murder people because a book was burned. And if you’re rioting because you believe the book was written by God himself, then you’re just the delusional adherent of an irrational religion. It’s just a book. If one gets burned there are millions, if not billions, of other copies in the world. Get over it.

But I’m willing to bet that the burning of the Koran is only part of the issue. We’ve seen protests like this in Afghanistan before. Usually they are stoked by some perceived insult to Islam, such as the idiotic plans of that Pastor in Florida who wanted to burn a Koran to mark the 10th Anniversary of the September 11th attacks, but it seems rather obvious to me that the resentments and the cultural conflicts are far deeper than that. Part of the dissatisfaction, no doubt, is due to the fact that we continue to back the corrupt regime of Hamid Karzai. Part of it is likely the humiliation of living in an occupied country. And a great deal of it is just the fact that they just don’t want us there. If there hadn’t been a Koran burning to spark these protests, it’s likely that  something else would have.

The protests are barbaric and the deaths are tragic, but from an American point of view that’s largely irrelevant. We’re at the point now where it’s not at all clear that the counter-insurgency strategy that President Obama embarked upon at the recommendation of his Generals three years ago is working at all, or that it is likely to lead to any measurable success within what the American people would consider a reasonable period of time. More importantly, though, it’s not even clear that our presence in Afghanistan serves our national interests anymore. At least at the beginning, when we were concentrating on rooting out and capturing members of the terrorist organization that had caused the deaths of 3,000 Americans, there was a plausible national security argument in favor of our presence and our mission. Now, it’s hard to see what the point is of staying any longer. Yes, perhaps there’s some desire to bring about justice for soldiers who are dying in what are essentially terrorist attacks rather than military engagement, but vengeance isn’t a rational military policy, it’s just pure emotion.

Our war in Afghanistan has now lasted longer than any war in American history, except perhaps Vietnam if you consider that war to have begun in the 1950s with the introduction of American military advisers rather than at the time of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution.  The al Qaeda that existed on September 10, 2001 no longer exists. Osama bin Laden is dead. And, most importantly, to the extent that there are real terrorist threats out there, they are now located in nations other than Afghanistan. What, exactly, are we gaining by staying even one second longer other than the chance to send another solider home in another flag-draped coffin? Not a damn thing as far as I’m concerned. If we really want to set things right for the American soldiers who died last week because of protests over a burnt book, we should get their comrades the heck out of there as soon as practically possible so that there aren’t yet more pointless deaths.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. anjin-san says:

    Time to leave and then some…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  2. Brummagem Joe says:

    Er….we are leaving Doug. Presumably you mean we should just pick up and leave immediately.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  3. @Brummagem Joe:

    Not really, there will be advisers left behind

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  4. Brummagem Joe says:

    Britain falls into step as US accelerates Afghanistan exit
    The Sunday Times

    Britain is drawing up plans to pull its forces out of Afghanistan much sooner than had been intended after high-level indications from Washington that American troops may leave early.

    Sources in London and Kabul suggested last week that President Barack Obama was considering accelerating the withdrawal from Afghanistan in the run-up to presidential elections in November next year.

    “The Americans need to pull out early for financial and electoral reasons,” said a source. “It’s all part and parcel with the decision to pull out of Iraq by the end of the year.”

    With British troops in Helmand now a small part of an American-dominated Nato force, Ministry of Defence planners have been forced to look at speeding up the withdrawal of UK troops. MoD officials insisted that any British withdrawal would be “conditions-based” and dependent on an agreement with the Afghan government.

    “The Americans are now looking to pull out much faster than previously planned,” said a senior British official. “We have no choice but to dovetail our planning with theirs.”

    At present Nato plans to withdraw the vast bulk of its troops by the end of 2014, leaving a small contingent of conventional troops and special forces. As part of the process, the Americans are due to withdraw 33,000 troops by September 2012.That would leave 68,000 US troops in Afghanistan. But a Nato official in Kabul said the chances of there being anywhere near that number by the end of 2013 were “slim to none”.

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  5. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Not really, there will be advisers left behind

    Back in binary mode Doug? No one is more anxious to get out of Afghanistan than me and the sooner the better. On the other hand I don’t want it to look like we’re in full retreat (even if we are). And I certainly don’t have too much objection to a small number of “advisors” being left in the country providing it’s modest. What would you rather see there….Russian advisors, Iranian advisors, Chinese advisors.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  6. Joe,

    If the Chinese or Iranians (say what you might about the Russians but I doubt they’re dumb enough to make the same mistake twice) are foolish enough to try to succeed where we, the Soviets, and the British have all failed over the past 150 years or so, I say let them have at it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  7. Gold Star for Robot Boy says:

    I’m all in favor of declaring victory – after all, we got OBL, which was the entire point of Af/Pak – and bugging out double-quick.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  8. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    If the Chinese or Iranians (say what you might about the Russians but I doubt they’re dumb enough to make the same mistake twice) are foolish enough to try to succeed where we, the Soviets, and the British have all failed over the past 150 years or so, I say let them have at it.

    Doug for a lawyer you’re singularly lacking in nuance. A small number of advisors does not involve us, the Russians, the Iranians, or the Chinese in occupying the country with a force of over 100,000 men. You’re comparing apples and oranges.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  9. @Brummagem Joe:

    Any investment on the part of the United States in the future of the Karzai Mafia running Kabul (but not much else in Afghanistan) is not in our national interests

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  10. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Gold Star for Robot Boy:

    and bugging out double-quick.

    I’m sure we could stage some roof top helicopter lifts. Even if you’ve been anti the entire venture for years as I have the manner of our leaving is important both in the region and domestically. If we want to preserve an iota of self respect out of this fiasco we cannot be seen to be scuttling out of there like frightened rabbits.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  11. We got 50,000 troops out of Iraq inside of six months in 2011.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  12. Gold Star for Robot Boy says:

    @Brummagem Joe: We bugged out of Iraq without much problem, if you’re worried about bad visuals.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  13. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Any investment on the part of the United States in the future of the Karzai Mafia running Kabul (but not much else in Afghanistan) is not in our national interests

    Yeah Doug…it would be a colossal investment after all…much better to be totally clueless about what’s going on there and hand the field over to our regional rivals.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  14. Gold Star for Robot Boy says:

    @Doug Mataconis: Thank you for the number of troops and timeline. That’s an impressive exit, getting out while avoiding major incidents.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  15. @Brummagem Joe:

    I’m not saying we shouldn’t have a CIA presence. After all, given how corrupt that hellhole is it shouldn’t be hard at all to bribe a few high-ranking officers.

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  16. Gold Star for Robot Boy says:

    @Brummagem Joe: Rivals for what, exactly? Is it a resource?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  17. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Gold Star for Robot Boy:

    We bugged out of Iraq without much problem, if you’re worried about bad visuals.

    Leaving aside the fact that Iraq isn’t Afghanistan, we bugged out of Iraq to a precisely agreed timetable that was agreed in I think 2007. There was no running for hills.

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  18. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Gold Star for Robot Boy:

    Rivals for what, exactly? Is it a resource?

    If it’s such a totally unimportant place you have to wonder why so many people have been so interested in it for so long.

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  19. Gold Star for Robot Boy says:

    It’s not running for the hills if you’ve fulfilled the mission – I know more than a decade has passed, but please remember the the entire point of going into Afghanistan was to get OBL. We got him; therefore, now we can come home.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  20. DRS says:

    I’m sorry – since when did we go all white-man-burden-y and decide it was our mission to “civilize” the Afghans? I don’t remember that one in all the rationales we heard back in the day.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  21. Gold Star for Robot Boy says:

    @Brummagem Joe: @Brummagem Joe: I’m keen to hear your geopolitical theory on why Afghanistan is so important.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  22. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Gold Star for Robot Boy:

    @Doug Mataconis: Thank you for the number of troops and timeline. That’s an impressive exit, getting out while avoiding major incidents.

    What timeline is that?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  23. grumpy realist says:

    I agree. We should have left long ago. I would also suggest not dumping any more $$ into the pit, but a certain amount to prop up Karzai at least for a few months wouldn’t be outrageous. I would however make an offer to any of the Afghanis working with us (translators, etc.) to immigrate to the U.S. (I’d love to make the same offer to all Afghani women.)

    You can’t make instantaneously into democracy something that doesn’t want it. If we had had the Afghan equivalent of an Ataturk, we probably could have had something pretty good develop. Instead, we got a corrupt politician [Karzai] who didn’t have the far-sightedness to see what he could have led his people towards. And so everyone loses. A pity.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  24. Gold Star for Robot Boy says:

    (Also, what happened to the edit function?)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  25. Gold Star for Robot Boy says:

    @Brummagem Joe: 50,000 inside of six months, like Doug wrote.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  26. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Gold Star for Robot Boy:

    It’s not running for the hills if you’ve fulfilled the mission – I know more than a decade has passed, but please remember the the entire point of going into Afghanistan was to get OBL.

    I note that you totally ignore my disproof of your claim that we bugged out of Iraq. And the entire point of going to Afghanistan wasn’t just to get Bin Laden. It was also to overthrow the Taliban and hopefully stabilise the place. Look I believe the entire thing has morphed into a disaster because stupidity and fecklessness of the Bush regime and wish we’d left years ago. However this is water over the dam. Now I want us to get out but not be seen to running for the hills which is exactly what it would look like if we started a precipitate exit now.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  27. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Gold Star for Robot Boy:

    50,000 inside of six months, like Doug wrote.

    If we make a dash for the exits because of these relatively minor incidents (and I accept entirely Doug’s characterisation of their much broader subtext) the entire world is going to get the messge even if you and Doug don’t.

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  28. Peter says:

    Why are we bothering to try to civilize a nation that clearly is either incapable of being civilized or simply just doesn’t want to join the 21st Century?

    21st Century? They’ve yet to join the 18th Century.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  29. Ron Beasley says:

    @Brummagem Joe: What message will they get? That we are finally wising and saner heads are prevailing. There are a lot of things we can no longer afford and hegemony is at the top of the list.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  30. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Ron Beasley:

    What message will they get?

    How about we’re a bunch of soft, loudmouthed bullies and yellow bellies that run for the hills when the going gets tough. This believe it or not is a fairly widespread view of the US in much of the world. We don’t need to reinforce this perception. Let’s leave asap but do it in way that doesn’t leave the impression we’ve been driven out of there by the Taliban (even if we have).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  31. Tsar Nicholas II says:

    It’s like Teddy Roosevelt said: Speak softly and then run for cover like a coward as soon as the going gets tough and it’s not a popular topic at cocktail parties in New Caanan, Ct.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 4

  32. Ron Beasley says:

    @Brummagem Joe: It should be fairly obvious we are being driven out by the Afghan people and who can blame them? A few weeks or months after the initial action we became invaders and occupiers reminding them of the Russians.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  33. DRS says:

    The worst thing that ever happened to America was becoming a superpower. Most Americans think it confers some degree of all-powerful-ness on us, and that we don’t have to pay attention to limits. Hence the nonsense about American exceptionalism meaning we’re better than everyone else and have some kind of global mission. It went to our heads and gave us delusions of grandeur. Since 1945 every international problem is seen as having a military solution because that’s how we show off how powerful we are.

    What do you bet that for a fraction of what we’ve blown in Afganistan and Iraq we could have bribed the Pakistani ISI to hand over bin Laden within months of 9/11?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  34. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Tsar Nicholas II:

    and it’s not a popular topic at cocktail parties in New Caanan, Ct.

    Leave us New Caananites out of it. As far as I can tell getting the hell out of Afghanistan asap is a view shared by Republicans and Democrats and in fact it’s a fairly popular topic at cocktail parties.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  35. al-Ameda says:

    Declare victory and come home.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  36. Brummagem Joe says:

    @DRS:

    What do you bet that for a fraction of what we’ve blown in Afganistan and Iraq we could have bribed the Pakistani ISI to hand over bin Laden within months of 9/11?

    That’s called nuance, something that Bushco (and a few people here apparently) famously didn’t/don’t do.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  37. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Ron Beasley:

    It should be fairly obvious we are being driven out by the Afghan people and who can blame them? A few weeks or months after the initial action we became invaders and occupiers reminding them of the Russians.

    Ron this was apparent to me within less than a year of arriving there. But I’m not concerned about the Afghans now I’m concerned about US interests and our national sense of self worth…concepts that seem beyond the imagination of Doug.

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  38. Jenos Idanian says:

    Street gangs in the US openly kill for a “dis” (sign of disrespect). We think of them as savages.

    In Afghanistan, as in many Muslim cultures, “disses” are also causes for killings. Often indiscriminate killings. Not treating a book with sufficient reverence, drawing cartoons, saying unkind things about the Muslim faith, leaving the faith, women going around with their faces exposed… all have led to killings. And quite often, those killed have virtually nothing to do with the initial “offense.”

    I say leave, but leave in strength — blow the hell out of some highly significant Afghan targets. And make it clear we will come back if they cause more trouble. And if a few Pakistani targets get blown up in the process, all the better.

    It took Palin and Gingrich to note that for all the “apologies” Karzai and his ilk have demanded, they have never once apologized for any Americans killed by Afghan soldiers who suddenly turned on their “allies.” Screw them.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 4

  39. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    I say leave, but leave in strength — blow the hell out of some highly significant Afghan targets. And make it clear we will come back if they cause more trouble. And if a few Pakistani targets get blown up in the process, all the better.

    Yeeaehhhhhh….let’s kill a few thousand afghans and pakis ….that’ll show em what big he men we are….yeeeeeaaaaahhhh

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  40. DRS says:

    Jenos is a real tough guy, leading from 6,000 miles in the rear. He’d be the first one who’d soil his underwear if war actually ever came here.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  41. Jenos Idanian says:

    @Brummagem Joe: You must live in fear of me leaving this forum. Because if I did, you’d lose your favorite excuse to not talk about the topic at hand.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

  42. Gold Star for Robot Boy says:

    @Brummagem Joe:

    I note that you totally ignore my disproof of your claim that we bugged out of Iraq.

    My claim is that we left. Unless you know something the world doesn’t, for all intents (minus diplomats, spies and contractors) we’re outta there.

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  43. Jenos Idanian says:

    @DRS: Oh, wow, a “chickenhawk” argument. Is someone having flashbacks to 2002?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3

  44. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    You must live in fear of me leaving this forum. Because if I did, you’d lose your favorite excuse to not talk about the topic at hand.

    I’ve probably got more posts (16) up on this topic than any other commenter but then comprehension and math were never your strong suit were they?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  45. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Gold Star for Robot Boy:

    My claim is that we left.

    No your claim was we bugged out of there in disorder. We didn’t we left under the terms of 4 or 5 year old agreement. And for your info we still have thousands of embassy personnel and contractors in the country.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  46. Dazedandconfused says:

    @DRS:

    “I’m sorry – since when did we go all white-man-burden-y and decide it was our mission to “civilize” the Afghans? I don’t remember that one in all the rationales we heard back in the day.”

    It’s a long story. Has to do with our leaders getting the impression that COIN works everywhere. “Google Lt. Colonel Davis” for a crude, but not-all-that-far-off-the-mark look at how that came to be. He just published a report. Not an altogether terrible place to start…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  47. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Dazedandconfused:

    Has to do with our leaders getting the impression that COIN works everywhere.

    It may well work. We just haven’t committed the resources required to make it work because no one in America is willing to commit a force of around 675,000 men that would be requred to give the strategy any chance of success according to the army/usmc manual. I’m not suggesting we do it but the reality is we haven’t actually tried.

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  48. Gold Star for Robot Boy says:

    @Brummagem Joe:

    No your claim was we bugged out of there in disorder.

    That’s exactly what I didn’t say:

    We bugged out of Iraq without much problem, if you’re worried about bad visuals.

    Joe, WTF? You’re… not yourself.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  49. DRS says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    Oh, wow, a “chickenhawk” argument. Is someone having flashbacks to 2002?

    That’s the best you’ve got? Although I note you don’t deny it. Aren’t you going to throw some imaginary I-was-there-in-Gulf-War-I reminiscences into the mix to show off your man-cred?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  50. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Gold Star for Robot Boy:

    We bugged out of Iraq without much problem, if you’re worried about bad visuals.

    Your clear implication was that we left before our long planned departure in response to my suggestion we shouldn’t leave Afghanistan precipitally because of the impression it would create. Nor are apparently are you familiar with all the reasons we invaded Aghanistan viz.

    I

    know more than a decade has passed, but please remember the the entire point of going into Afghanistan was to get OBL.

    In fact getting OBL was just one of our reasons. Nor apparently do you realise that we have thousands of contractors and embassy personnel still in Iraq.

    Joe, WTF? You’re… not yourself.

    I’m entirely myself, I just don’t like simplistic rationalisations about what is a very complex situation and faulty data wherever they come from.

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  51. Ron Beasley says:

    @Brummagem Joe: If US interests and our national sense of self worth depends on Afghanistan then we are really f**ked . I’m not suggesting a “bug out” because that’s no logistically possible but we should start pulling out as fast as possible. If the PR folks can make look like a victory all the better but if not I don’t care.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  52. Gold Star for Robot Boy says:

    @Brummagem Joe:

    Nor apparently do you realise that we have thousands of contractors and embassy personnel still in Iraq.

    Joe! I referenced them earlier!

    …for all intents (minus diplomats, spies and contractors) we’re outta there.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  53. Ron Beasley says:

    @Brummagem Joe:

    Nor apparently do you realise that we have thousands of contractors and embassy personnel still in Iraq.

    And if Israel attacks Iran they become targets We accomplished two things in Iraq – we got rid of Saddam and turned Iran’s arch enemy into Iran’s best friend. Pull them all out before all hell breaks lose.

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  54. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Ron Beasley:

    If US interests and our national sense of self worth depends on Afghanistan then we are really f**ked . I’m not suggesting a “bug out” because that’s no logistically possible but we should start pulling out as fast as possible. If the PR folks can make look like a victory all the better but if not I don’t care.

    I may be completely stupid but I don’t think the spectacle of the US dashing for the exits in Afghanistan would do much for either for our national prestige or sense of self esteem.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  55. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Gold Star for Robot Boy:

    Joe! I referenced them earlier!

    …for all intents (minus diplomats, spies and contractors) we’re outta there.

    Well thousands of contractors and embassy personnel isn’t exactly in your words outta there…. is it? And bugged out (as at least one other person here recognises) doesn’t exactly imply an unhurried departure which in fact is exactly how we exited Iraq to a long pre planned schedule. What you and Doug are suggesting is a dash for exits in response to these disturbances. This would look and be totally irresponsible and cowardly.

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  56. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Ron Beasley:

    We accomplished two things in Iraq – we got rid of Saddam and turned Iran’s arch enemy into Iran’s best friend.

    I agree with this but now you’re introducing other factors into the conversation….now apparently a rapid exit of all US personnel from Afghanistan and Iraq is required. Where next. Egypt?

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  57. Ben Wolf says:

    The Afghans have every reason to want us out. The suggestion that the U.S. “heals” where the Taliban “hurts” is the height of hypocrisy and hubris when in the words of a certain U.S. general we’ve “shot an amazing number of people that, to my knowledge ended up not being a threat.”

    Totally ignored by the self-absorbed crowd whining about how put upon poor innocent america is are the hundreds (that we know about) of children incinerated by drones which can’t seem to tell a soccer ball from a rifle, the vaporized wedding parties, the dead pregnant women our special forces teams dug bullets out of so as to hide their crimes, the defiled enemy corpses, the self-organized murder squads of U.S. soldiers gunning down civilians for fun and the complete and total disrepect shown for Afghan cultural heritage. They’ve been telling us for years to get the f***k out and we’ve ignored them and in response they’ve gradually escalated their resistance to our invasion and occupation. Then we force a government on them which everyone knows cheated its way into power and foster mass political corruption while jabbering on about the importance of democracy and transparency and freedom; the very things we’ve worked to ensure Afghanistan never has.

    The entire history of the United States has been one of arrogant aggression.

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  58. CB says:

    when did OTB become one giant pissing contest?

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  59. Hoyticus says:

    We cannot fix Afghanistan, we can barely make it better. At this point in time social science and military theory don’t have the tools to defeat an insurgency let alone radically transform a society that we know so little about and understand even less. Our expedition in Afghanistan has been folly just like Iraq and Vietnam. We don’t have the ways or means either materially or intellectually to win these kinds of conflicts. We should offer know how to Afghans when they ask for it, but we shouldn’t occupy their lands for a decade.

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  60. Dazedandconfused says:

    @Brummagem Joe:

    “It may well work.”

    Take decades. “The juice ain’t worth the squeeze.”

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  61. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Dazedandconfused:

    “It may well work.”

    Take decades. “The juice ain’t worth the squeeze.”

    Er…I thought that was what I said.The American public aren’t going to support a force of 675,000 men in Afghanistan (coin ratio 1/50) for if not decades certainly a decade. Hence it’s never actually been tried so we don’t know whether it would have worked or not. As far as I’m concerned there’s no debate about whether the entire Afghanistan adventure has turned into fiasco…that was apparent 8 years ago. We’re already pulling out and this being speeded up as that London Sunday Times extract indicated. This debate is about whether this accelerated but still measured exit should be converted into a dash for the doors as Doug proposes.

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  62. We should have left a long time ago.

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  63. WR says:

    @Tsar Nicholas II: New Canaan? Is that still around?

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  64. anjin-san says:

    sense of self esteem.

    My sense of self esteem is not tied up in holding on to a losing hand in Afghanistan. Bin Laden is dead and Al-Qaeda is decimated. Time to leave. I don’t want a single person, our troops or Afgan, to die for optics of dubious value.

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  65. Brummagem Joe says:

    @anjin-san:

    My sense of self esteem is not tied up in holding on to a losing hand in Afghanistan.

    An inglorious scuttle out of Afghanistan might not injure your self esteem but it would that of many quite apart from making us an international joke.

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  66. rodney dill says:

    @CB: ….quite some time ago.

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  67. anjin-san says:

    making us an international joke.

    Please.

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  68. anjin-san says:

    making us an international joke.

    Let me expand on that. We risk being made into a joke if we bone-headedly refuse to face reality. The people in Afghanistan have been wearing down foreign occupations pretty much forever. They have worn down ours. If we stay and bleed when there is nothing more to accomplish, people will think we are fools, and they will be right.

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  69. Brummagem Joe says:

    @anjin-san:

    Let me expand on that. We risk being made into a joke if we bone-headedly refuse to face reality.

    Yes you need to because it wasn’t exactly the most insightful comment I’ve ever read. You seem to be missing something in all this. Reality has been faced…..we’re leaving or haven’t read any of the background on this? It a question not of whether we leave but of the timing and manner of our leaving.

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  70. anjin-san says:

    It a question not of whether we leave but of the timing and manner of our leaving.

    Six months after we are gone, no one will care either way. If we longer in at attempt to get the optics right, the situation could just as easily deteriorate, making a somewhat clean exit more problematic. Too many have died, and too much national treasure has been wasted. Time to cut our losses and go home.

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  71. Brummagem Joe says:

    @anjin-san:

    Six months after we are gone, no one will care either way.

    So how come most people of my generation clearly remember our shambolic exits from Vietnam, Lebanon and Somalia?

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  72. Dazedandconfused says:

    @Brummagem Joe:

    “Er…I thought that was what I said.”

    Nation-building and COIN have some fuzzy boundaries, but it’s more than distinction without a difference. I was answering a question about how we came to undertake “the white man’s burden”. Somebody thought COIN could do that in Afghanistan.

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  73. anjin-san says:

    @ Brummagem Joe

    Please tell me what we are going to do that will make this less of a mess in six months or a year. Specific steps please. What is our fallback strategy if things simply continue to get worse despite our efforts? Stay yet another few years and hope for the best? What assurances can you give to those who are going to die in the meantime that their sacrifice will be meaningful?

    Oh, and tell me what we might have done in Vietnam, etc. to make leaving less painful, as opposed to simply delaying the pain.

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  74. Carson says:

    @anjin-san: Get the troops out and “release the Kraken!”

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  75. Brummagem Joe says:

    @anjin-san:

    Please tell me what we are going to do that will make this less of a mess in six months or a year.

    I don’t think it is going to be less of a mess I just don’t think our country should be seen as running for the hills like a pack of cowardly rabbits. Obviously this causes you no concern because perceptions about the US are purely a matter of optics.

    Oh, and tell me what we might have done in Vietnam, etc. to make leaving less painful, as opposed to simply delaying the pain.

    This is a totally inane question that ignores context. We shouldn’t have made the huge committment in Vietnam but guess what…we did. There then arose the question of how we should have exited and we chose one that was shambolic. I suspect you weren’t around at the time or you wouldn’t making such glib assertions. The fact is we’re in Afghanistan, it’s a mess, you may have a taste for national humiliations but it’s not widely shared I can assure you.

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  76. Lomax says:

    @Brummagem Joe: Vietnam was winnable. At one time, the US was close to winning. Politicians messed this one up.

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  77. Brummagem Joe says:

    @Lomax:

    Vietnam was winnable. At one time, the US was close to winning.

    Total balls.

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  78. G.A. says:

    when did OTB become one giant pissing contest?

    the question should be when did OTB become one giant lib coven…

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  79. An Interested Party says:

    At one time, the US was close to winning.

    When exactly was that?

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  80. anjin-san says:

    I suspect you weren’t around at the time or you wouldn’t making such glib assertions.

    I grew up a few miles from an AFB while the war was on. I spent time in the home of families who had fathers in combat, and saw a bit of the fear they lived with on a daily basis. I saw the body bags on the news ever night. I have a buddy who had to blow his best friends brains out because his unit was being overrun, and had to bug out. His buddy had a wound that was probably mortal, but it was going to take a while for him to die. They did not have the means to evac him, and he did not want to be captured.

    Want to have a serious conversation about Nam? Where do you want to start – the Ming conquest of Vietnam? Dien Bien Phu? What do you think is the seminal work on the American war in Vietnam? I lean towards Francis Fitzgerald’s “Fire in the Lake.” “A Rumor of War” is also very good, as is “Born on the Forth of July.” Ron Kovic used to be one of my neighbors.

    Has something changed in your life recently? You’ve turned into kind of a dick.

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  81. Brummagem Joe says:

    @anjin-san:

    Has something changed in your life recently? You’ve turned into kind of a dick.

    Obviously anyone who questions your simplistic assertions about a rush for the exits in Afghanistan (or radical conservatives) has to be the subject of ad homs and an outburst of ranting that would do credit to superdestroyer. Unless you’d noticed I’ve acknowledged Vietnam was an unwinnable disaster, and I aught to know, so why do we have to have a conversation about Vietnam other than to provided you with another opportunity for an outburst of emotionalism.

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  82. Brummagem Joe says:

    @An Interested Party:

    At one time, the US was close to winning.

    When exactly was that?

    There was never any time. The South Vietnamese army was as much use as the Afghan army. 100% of the rural population would have voted for Ho so the VC and units of PANV could swim like fish in water while we played whac a mole (not unlike Afghanistan) and if the whacking ever became too intense they just retreated into safe havens in NV. The only way to have stopped this was an invasion of the North which would have required a vast force and invited Chinese intervention which was the last thing we wanted after Korea so we dropped lots of bombs which killed a lot of Vietnamese but didn’t have much effect on the capacity of VC. Conquered provinces are not, as Gibbon pointed out, a source of strength.

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  83. anjin-san says:

    @ Brummagem Joe

    You are working under the assumption that you have presented a compelling argument for staying in Afghanistan. Do you think simply crying “national humiliation” is a sophisticated argument? Please. If you are going to talk about how the arguments of others are simplistic, you should put more effort into your own work first.

    There is a Marine recruiting station next door to the dry cleaner I use, so I see a lot of young Marines. I am willing to look those guys in the eye and tell them they might have to die for our national security. I am not willing to tell them they might have to die for national pride.

    We screwed the pooch in Afghanistan long ago, when Bush decided to engage in nation building and chase windmiills in Iraq. Since you obviously don’t have a clue on how we can assure ourselves of a more orderly exit at some nebulous future date, I am sticking with my belief that it is time to go. Snarks on blogs will not solve the problem.

    Am I emotional about ‘Nam? Sure. I saw how it affected the families of the guys who fought it, and I saw how it affected the men who fought it and came home. You seem to think the fact that the experience affected me deeply is some sort of weakness. Like I said, you sound like kind of a dick recently.

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  84. Brummagem Joe says:

    @anjin-san:

    Since you obviously don’t have a clue on how we can assure ourselves of a more orderly exit at some nebulous future date,

    We’re engaged in an orderly exit at present and there’s nothing nebulous about the timing.

    You seem to think the fact that the experience affected me deeply is some sort of weakness.

    I’ll let the maturity of this statement speak for itself.

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  85. anjin-san says:

    I’ll let the maturity of this statement speak for itself.

    Works for me. I am busy doing bong hits with superdestroyer anyway.

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  86. Dazedandconfused says:

    Here’s an article that explains a rational for why we are not going elbows and assholes for the door just yet. It’s more about not assuming what happened after the Soviets left must necessarily happen again. Thought provoking.

    http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2012/feb/09/afghanistan-best-way-peace/

    To that I would add “logistics”. There is no “Kuwait” next door. Taliban triumphalism might very well prompt them to do something nasty with the tail of our dragon as it leaves. The most difficult move to pull off successfully is an orderly retreat.

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  87. anjin-san says:

    Dazedandconfused

    I’m not advocating ordering the troops to head the the nearest air base and evac tomorrow. What I am saying is that we have accomplished all we are going to and at this point the negatives of being there far outweigh the positives. It’s time to go. The details of how that exit works should be left to the experts in the military, with the understanding that prudent delays are acceptable, but foot dragging is not.

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  88. Brummagem Joe says:

    @anjin-san:

    It’s time to go. The details of how that exit works should be left to the experts in the military, with the understanding that prudent delays are acceptable,

    Er….thisi is what is happening!!

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  89. Dazedandconfused says:

    @anjin-san:

    I didn’t think you were. I’m just adding this for anyone who is wondering what the heck we are still trying to do there. It’s a damn good question.

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  90. anjin-san says:

    @ Brummagem Joe

    Doug did not advocate rushing for the exit like a frightened rabbit. This is what he said:

    we should get their comrades the heck out of there as soon as practically possible so that there aren’t yet more pointless deaths.

    I think he has this right. We can spend a lot of time arguing about the nuances, but I don’t see the point. You’ve assumed I am arguing for pell-mell retreat, but that is not the case.

    I have friends with kids and grandkids over there and I don’t want to loose any of them. I don’t want any more orphans or heartbroken parents in Afghanistan by our hand.

    I am not losing sleep about possible paper tiger perceptions. Every US President going back 30+ years has show the willingness to use force when needed (and sometimes when not). Everyone knows we have the means and resolve to do serious ass kicking.

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  91. Brummagem Joe says:

    @anjin-san:

    we should get their comrades the heck out of there as soon as practically possible so that there aren’t yet more pointless deaths.

    The implication is a few months….if not what is your timeline?

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  92. GreatDebater says:

    I’m sorry Doug but you have got to be one of the most ignorant men I have come across, “On some level, they’re right. It is barbaric and idiotic to riot and murder people because a book was burned. And if you’re rioting because you believe the book was written by God himself, then you’re just the delusional adherent of an irrational religion. It’s just a book. If one gets burned there are millions, if not billions, of other copies in the world. Get over it.”

    That paragraph alone can speak for itself. Its inhumane, for any person from any race or religion to discriminate against ones religious belief in such a disgusting manner. I do not recall what your self belief is however I do perceive that if it was your holy book and it was being burned you would not avert it and disregard it as something that happens everyday whereas you will defend your religion in any way possible. On the other hand, I do agree with your part saying that the US troops need to get the f*ck out of Afghanistan, hence where you stated that during the protests 2 US men were hurt or killed… we don’t want any of our men getting hurt now do we. Which is contemptible because these men are suppose to be fighting for our country, if they were afraid of getting hurt or killed why are they there? I presume you call those kind of people cowards.. But I will not get into that topic.

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