How Permanent Will Doing Good in Afghanistan Be?

How Permanent Will Doing Good in Afghanistan Be?

A Hunter Thompson-like Riff on Afghanistan from A Bar in The Mustafa Hotel http://bit.ly/139QBk

I enjoyed the acerbic critique referenced at the link above. A Google war, Doing as little harm as possible.

In Afghanistan, we do not  know the ends. Win a “war on terror”?  Win over the Islamic world? Make Afghanistan safe? Make US more secure?

The last question — national security — can only be answered yes if we assume the ceding of Afghanistan to its own people will result in the fall of Pakistan to the Taliban and the creation of a stage for nuclear blackmail. This is a stretch to say the least.

I think we have assumed that we will achieve something by winning over the Afghans. Fine, if you want to assume it makes a difference to Afghans who is protecting them. I this is a stretch too.

Mostly what ingratiates us with the Islamic world is vacating the premises.

We have a nebulous plan . My Hunter Thompson-like friend in the Afghan bar is salient. If the Taliban emigrate to Palau, we might win. But they ain’t going nowhere. Time and ridicule and Afghan distaste for them might work better than trying to kill them off one by one by one forever.


Only One Way To “Win” in Afghanistan

Count on the Obama Administration to make right choices and get things done even when our media are occupied with such idiotic non-stories as the travels of a governor — presently knocking everything else off the screen.

Like thinking about downgrading the CIA by making future terror interrogations a joint FBI-CIA operation.

Or this:


Go read it. In essence it says that Obama in Afgnanistan will operate on the truthful premise that if we are killing civilians there we lose. I wonder if that will be clear enough to stop the dribbling mouth of John McCain and his neo-neocon ranting.

UPDATE — I wrote this before the governor disclosed the affair. The only difference between politicians and the rest of us is that no one knows or cares about our affairs, our open marriages, or whatever else we have on our account.. That is another blog and a half. Suffice to say that O’Donnell and the rest of the MSNBC vultures did not know about the affair when they gave what looked like simple aberrant behavior wall to wall coverage. A shameful day up the street at 30 Rock or wherever they may be.


A Year To Do What We Failed To Do In 8

I do not know who bothers me more, Republicans who are being consciously or unconsciously hypocritical or Democrats who adapt the stratagem I now associate with Arianna Huffington and the New York Times — the frequent substitution of nit-picking for serious consideration.


Serious consideration might take into one’s purview the following points:

1. It took Bush II eight years to ruin the notion of a rational opposition to terror. Should it take less than two or three years to actually arrive at a true evolution of the globe beyond the woes of fundamentalism cum opportunism run rampant?

2. The change in generals in Afpak signals a willingness to engage only in physical strategies that have a high probability of dealing firmly with the most determined and dangerous elements of the terror apparatus ranged not only against us, but against the whole world. This should spare us more sights of the ambush of NATO troops along treacherous stretches of Afghan roads, not to mention aborted efforts to “get” Al Qaeda of the very few attempted before Bush 11 obeyed his trainers and walked into the maelstrom of Iraq.

3. When will we understand that Obama is all process and unfolding, not single-bandaid solutions? This myopia on the part of allegedly intelligent observers is creating a brake on things and making the parlous state of journalism more and more a fate devoutly to be welcomed. A new journalism of process will emerge.

4. Other elements of the strategy that is unfolding will likely be a radical internationalization of the conflict accompanied by massive education regarding its nature and importance and the mobilization of a much more competent international apparatus for dealing with it than we presently have.

Terror, genocide and the deleterious effects of inhumane migration and refugee survival efforts are all linked, are all issues on the table, are all likely targets of a concerted Obama effort. For anyone in Congress to be nit-picking about time lines is a predictable but sad indication of the narrowness of vision that penetrates even the precincts of the marginally better party.

The fact is that Obama might well be out of Afpak in a year or at least on a time line that is acceptable to the American people. But this post is not about that. It is about biindness in the deepest prophetic sense.


Obama’s War Indeed


One could simply grouse with reference to the Great Game — better know in journo-jargon than in reality — and say the whole Af-Pak situation is hopeless and have a reasonable chance of being right. Adding, of course, we should not be there. We should walk away.

Or one could add in the following condition or question and see how it affected your point of view:

If Afghanistan falls to the Taliban, placing Pakistan under threat of the same, would it become an uncontainable terrorist base, signaling serious and perhaps terminal danger to the United States?

If your answer is yes, you do not have the luxury of blowing the whole thing off.

I never thought I would give Barack Obama the nod on a policy that is sure to be dubbed neocon-ish, but this is my tentative nod. And I would like to be able to write in three months or so that Obama Was Smart (smarter than most of us who questioned it) To Stay The Course.


Normalizing The Killing of Children


Robert Fisk’s entire article is at the source.

I wonder if we are “normalising” war. It’s not just that Israel has yet again got away with the killing of hundreds of children in Gaza.

In Dostoevsky’s classic Brothers Karamazov, the death of one innocent child was enough to derail the sanity of the sensitive Ivan and to propel the saintly Ayosha into an affirmation of resurrection. Between these two alternatives, we have an entire unfolding blasphemy lnown as contemporary or modern war,  war involving no real rules and even less moral consciousness.  War as state-sanctioned mob rule. As lethal death-bonding. It is little wonder that we typically drive soldiers mad.

Today the war on children leads to not one but multiple deaths and it is ironical that we celebrate the wonder of young children like those of the new President while ilargely ignoring the continuing ravaging of children globally. Into the millions if you count neglect, abuse, hunger and disease as ancillary factors.

It is not enough to say we are for the Millennium Goals. We need to revise John Donne and say that any child’s death diminishes us.


Pakistan at War Monday Digest


Yesterday, the headlines screamed of yet more US drone attacks within Pakistan leaving 18 dead. Today, they bemoan 11 killed in Swat in contining fighting between military and militants. Meanwhile, following on earlier reports of extremists banning women from entering cloth markets in Swat, now we hear of restraunts in Quetta banning the entry of women after succumbing to the fear tactics of fanatics. The tragedy is that news of barbarism – men killed and hung in the public square because their shalwar was not hiked up to the right length – have become so common that one does not even register as unusual.


Parsing The History of War



In trying to parse the history of war, it is instructive to know initial assumptions. If one assumes that war is a cross-cultural universal, one concedes (to a substantial degree) that idiocy has few remedies.

I watched Alexander (the movie) on TV the other night and concluded that a lust for action pure and simple is among the most pervasive and, in itself, unexamined human traits. Since I favor peace and reason — being partial to Jesus and Falstaff — I can only assume that the spectrum of consciousness is in need of substantial repair.

FROM THE ABSTRACT (Hyperlink Added):

Findings thus far support the hypothesis that war and politics have had multiple independent origins (pleogenic theory), in at least three separate regions (trident model): Mesopotamia (Tigris-Euphrates Rivers basin, since ca. 3000 B.C.), China (Yellow River basin, since ca. 2500 B.C.), and Mesoamerica (Olmec-Mexican Gulf Coast, since ca. 900 B.C.). Two other possible, unconfirmed areas are Nubia and the Peruvian Andes.

If one wants to know how pervasive war has been, here is a starting effort.