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Thread: Leave or Stay

  1. #1
    Council Member Levi's Avatar
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    Default Leave or Stay

    Gentlemen (and Ladies? Where are you?)

    After reading the various threads here (at least skimming) there is a lot of information, and opinion. Many links. I have come to believe (my opinion) that some members would ( my opinion, no offense) be very careful what they say assuming others, maybe peers or even superiors, may read what is put out here. So while I can find tons of specific thoughts on failures and successes, I am having a hard time gleaning "the bottom line" of peoples opinion on whether to leave, and if so, when. I know personally one person who is involved on the US side, and while I know he does not influence policy, he is certainly more influential than the average service member. I know what he thinks. Last year I had the chance to speak to some Pakistani ex-pats, in France. I know what they thought.

    So what do you think? Leave, or stay? If we leave, when? Be specific if you can, please. I would also like (although I saw this covered in another thread) a plain language explanation of what you believe will be the result of our leaving, or if you think we should stay, why and what happens down the road? I know there are more than 5 members here, I am hoping for a broad range of responses from different country's and ethnic backgrounds. I am seeing my friend soon, and would like to be able to compare notes on where folks stand on the issue. I won't be mad if there is no response here.

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    I've been a frequent commentator on Afghanistan. I'm affraid I'm a rather boring white, middle class lad from South Wales. In terms of should we leave? The plan has always been to eventually leave. When should be leave? Now the problem with both of these question is, as I see it, we have to ask the bigger question of what we are leaving. The 2014 deadline for the end of combat operations is predicated on ANSF being able to take over day to day security and COIN operations. Now hypothetically (yes we've debated the state of ANSF at length in other threads) supposing that come later 2014 this the case, then we can justify the withdrawal of combat forces in bulk (I'm a cynical bastard and we all know that troops will go either way). Now what ISAF will look like after that is another thing entirely. We can expect some form of armed military presence outside of OMLTs and PRTs, mostly likely at the invitation (" ") of the GIRoA in a CT role. We won't be leaving Afghanistan for a long while yet. I don't think we should either, to cut and run would leave a country that could easily slide into further conflict, drastically destablising the entire region. I'm no warmonger, there needs to be drastic changes to the strategy in Afghanistan, but that's off topic.

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    Council Member Levi's Avatar
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    So... leave when the Afghanistan Military and police can take over. Or the cynical view, they can't, and we pull out anyway (and if that is the case, why not start loading c130's this very instant??) I am beginning to worry that we (the US) won't leave until we literally can't afford to be there. And when did Al Jazeera get bought by CNN? Seems like the same message, lately. Anyway.

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    Well combat missions WILL end in three years time regardless of where the ANSF or GIRoA is. The big question is, what will be left behind in terms of the international presence. Will the focus shift, as I suspect, towards to the Afghan-Pakistan border which is already receiving great attention. Much of the rhetotic emerging from the U.S, both military and government, is that Pakistan is very much in bed with the Haqqanis. something which has been known for sometime, admitting you have a problem is the first step no? So what I expect to happen is while security will be handed over to ANA and ANP in Helmand and other areas we'll still see some presence in the eastern border areas where the populations have not been restive and resistant to control by central government. Now, what form this will take is rather hard to say. It seems that Afghan Special Forces aren't doing too badly for themselves having received huge funding and training by the best Special Forces out there. So I think it would be safe assume that we're likely to the Afghans taking the lead with the international community still contributing largely to logistics and intelligence. I'm repeating a lot of what a skimmed over in my last post. What can't be forgotten is that political pressure at home for Obama as he enters election year is probably at the forefront of his thinking. A huge part of his campaign will be based around sticking to this deadline, it's all in the wording. In terms of cost, it has been great both in blood and treasure, there is little certainty at the moment that the ends have justified the means. That is say, as it stand the blood and treasure has been squandered. All of this seems a little forlorn as we are still three fighting seasons from the deadline, who knows what could happen between now and then.

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    An interesting thought has been put forward for discussion.

    It is too complex for a clear cut answer given the imponderables.

    Should or should not the ISAF quit and if so, when?

    It all depends on if the West can stay the course. There are many facets to it and it is not military alone.

    Given that the US' influence as a world power is waning, there are others who are waiting in the wings to fill the void and who have the clout and have been developing the same in an unobtrusive manner and also making peaceful inroads in the region.

    Will the US totally abdicate her role that she held so far of being capable of dictating terms to the world and instead become insular?

    Most importantly, will Americans take kindly to becoming a second rate power?

    In so far as the players of the region who are around and have a stake in Afghanistan, there is the live possibility of a competitive rush to fill the void if the US and ISAF leave.

    It will open up interesting and worrisome situations.

    Interestingly, it might not be in pursuit of carving a sphere of influence alone, it maybe spurred with the aim to keep fundamentalism from spilling into their area since the void may throw up a similar situation as when USSR quit.

    Yet, I believe there is a move afoot to have an international 'peace keeping' organisation to fill the void.

    TDB's post also gives an interesting view.
    Last edited by Ray; 10-14-2011 at 04:15 PM.

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    I considered this idea of an international peace keeping force, but could not for the life of me think who would lead it. The two obvious organisations are the UN and the EU. Now, the UN, if memory serves me right then two of the biggest (if not THE biggest) contributors of peace keepers are India and Pakistan. These two countries can be ruled out of any force outright for what are obvious reasons. Now we can say that many of the countries who are involved in Afghanistan at the moment, many of whom have the largest military budgets in the world will not want to be involved in large numbers. So we have to consider who within the UN would contribute, African nations maybe but the AU is involved in a costly conflict in Somalia (though largely bankrolled by the US).

    So to the EU, now the EU has no experience in mounting an operation of this scale. It's experience in Kosovo has been shambolic at best and down right criminal at worst. Also we have to bear in mind that France and the UK make up over 50% of the unions military. I doubt that either country will be willing to commit large numbers of men or money to it. Opinion on the war in Europe has soured.

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    Council Member Levi's Avatar
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    If we are fighting a war, then there should be dead enemy soldiers (insurgents, whatever) to be counted and compared to the total number of enemy believed to exist. Then at some point, you can say, all or most of the enemy is gone, and we (US) leave. Otherwise, we just stay FOREVER. I read a bunch of the "winning in afghanistan" threads, and searched "COIN" threads, and I just don't see the "WIN". Is staying forever winning? Will the ANF members all be from one tribe? I understand completely what you are saying Ray, and it makes sense. But building an infrastructure for the enemy to take over when we finally do leave doesn't seem like a great idea either. Who uses the roads Russia built? The Taliban and AQ stay off them when we aren't around? I don't think staying and pouring lives and money into a foreign country means "strength". If we were that strong, we could just walk out and who cares what anyone thinks. I am beginning to think that staying and caring is weak foreign policy. Tell me international politics is not like kids on a playground. You don't pick a fight with the kid that you know will punch you in the face and laugh all the way to the office.

    I say we leave for a while. See what happens.

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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Leave or stay?

    Levi,

    You asked:
    So what do you think? Leave, or stay? If we leave, when? Be specific if you can, please. I would also like (although I saw this covered in another thread) a plain language explanation of what you believe will be the result of our leaving, or if you think we should stay, why and what happens down the road?
    Simple. The UK should leave soon, preferably before 2014. The ANSF will not be able to 'step up' in time.

    GIRoA has to decide what parts of the country it can defend and plan to have less money from the USA. The historical Afghan way has been to compromise and fight little.
    davidbfpo

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    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ray View Post
    It all depends on if the West can stay the course. There are many facets to it and it is not military alone.
    What benefit does the US or the West get if they "stay the course"? Anything that would justify the cost? What is this "course" that we're supposed to stay, anyway? Does it go anywhere that benefits us?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ray View Post
    Will the US totally abdicate her role that she held so far of being capable of dictating terms to the world and instead become insular?

    Most importantly, will Americans take kindly to becoming a second rate power?
    How does not draining yourself in Afghanistan make you a second rate power? Historically, what great powers have ever fallen because they failed to impose themselves in remote and insignificant corners of the world? How many have fallen because they overextended themselves and bled themselves dry with the cost of pointless ventures?

    Did the US become a "second rate power" after Vietnam? Everybody makes mistakes. The smart recognize them and act to rectify them, rather than pretending they weren't mistakes and riding them to perdition. Mistakes do damage, but the resilient can recover.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ray View Post
    In so far as the players of the region who are around and have a stake in Afghanistan, there is the live possibility of a competitive rush to fill the void if the US and ISAF leave.
    A competitive rush into Afghanistan?? Why?? That's like a competitive rush to acquire herpes. If Afghanistan is so desirable, why is it that from the Soviet withdrawal to 9/11 nobody, anywhere, had the remotest interest in it?

    It's worth noting that the US presence in Afghanistan actually decreases US influence in the region. As long as the US requires access to Pakistani ports and transit routes to supply their Afghan operations, Pakistan has the US effectively checkmated: the US cannot effectively apply any leverage on Pakistan. The US need for air bases in the north has forced us into accommodation with one of the most unsavory regimes on the planet (Uzbekistan) and allowed the Russians and the Chinese to exert indirect leverage on us by potentially pressuring Kyrgyzstan to restrict US access. Those bases are as much liability as asset; they put us at the mercy of people with interests that can easily diverge from ours. As long as we need them, our influence is reduced.

    In hard, realistic, practical terms, what does the Afghan venture gain the US? What does it cost the US? If that calculation comes up negative - and it pretty clearly does - the answer is to go... though realistically it's less about staying or going than trying to devise a face-saving exit strategy and a way to gradually scale down.

    Sometimes when an enterprise was ill conceived from the start, you have to cut your losses and take an ego bruise or two, rather than cling, "stay a course" that's going nowhere useful, and take more damage down the line. It's not terminal. The US survived losing in Vietnam, it can survive cutting its losses in Afghanistan.
    “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary”

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    What benefit does the US or the West get if they "stay the course"? Anything that would justify the cost? What is this "course" that we're supposed to stay, anyway? Does it go anywhere that benefits us?
    'Stay the course' is the course that prompted the US to come to Afghanistan. If it were to 'teach a lesson' to OBL for 9/11, I presume that it has been taught long back at Tora Bora.

    If it were to destroy AQ, then you can kill the people, but you cannot kill an idea!

    And if it were to destroy the AQ, the answer to Afghanistan lies in the 'badlands' of Pakistan and drones alone cannot destroy!

    Therefore, whatever be the reason for staying on in Afghanistan, I presume the same continues to be there and so staying the course is natural. Unless, of course, it is taken that the task is over as it was over in Vietnam!



    How does not draining yourself in Afghanistan make you a second rate power? Historically, what great powers have ever fallen because they failed to impose themselves in remote and insignificant corners of the world? How many have fallen because they overextended themselves and bled themselves dry with the cost of pointless ventures?
    That is true, why drain yourself? Very valid.

    However, why come in the first place, to remote and insignificant corners, when it was pointless and why not leave while the going was good? Why get overextended and then find it pointless and feel sad for oneself?


    Did the US become a "second rate power" after Vietnam? Everybody makes mistakes. The smart recognize them and act to rectify them, rather than pretending they weren't mistakes and riding them to perdition. Mistakes do damage, but the resilient can recover.
    After Vietnam, the US indeed lost its sheen.

    Indeed, all makes mistakes, but one also learns from mistakes. But the impasse in Iraq and Afghanistan does indicate that nothing has been learnt.

    I wonder if anyone has been resilient so as to recover.

    Violence in Iraq continues, though it is reported to be at a lower level. And one is not too sure what will happen in Afghanistan. Smartness would have been to look before you leap!


    A competitive rush into Afghanistan?? Why?? That's like a competitive rush to acquire herpes. If Afghanistan is so desirable, why is it that from the Soviet withdrawal to 9/11 nobody, anywhere, had the remotest interest in it?
    If it were herpes then the USSR would not have caught it initially. The US would have also then no bother to assist the Mujahideens. And then jump in later to catch the disease.

    Therefore, odd that so many nations feel it necessary to acquire herpes!

    I would not know if it is BS (your favourite term), but the media did report that even before 9/11, many a nation was supporting the Northern Alliance! If the reports be true, which I take as true, rightly or wrongly, it does indicate that even before 9/11 there were nation attempting to do something.

    It's worth noting that the US presence in Afghanistan actually decreases US influence in the region. As long as the US requires access to Pakistani ports and transit routes to supply their Afghan operations, Pakistan has the US effectively checkmated: the US cannot effectively apply any leverage on Pakistan. The US need for air bases in the north has forced us into accommodation with one of the most unsavory regimes on the planet (Uzbekistan) and allowed the Russians and the Chinese to exert indirect leverage on us by potentially pressuring Kyrgyzstan to restrict US access. Those bases are as much liability as asset; they put us at the mercy of people with interests that can easily diverge from ours. As long as we need them, our influence is reduced.
    How does US presence decrease US influence in the region just because Pakistan controls the transit route?

    Who says the US has been checkmated by Pakistan? In fact, Pakistanis feel that Pakistan has become the 51st State of the US. The Pakistan Govt, their Army and the ISI have given vitriolic statements against the US and threatened reprisals every time they were in a corner with the Pakistani public opinion, but have meekly backed out from each of the hot air emanated!!

    And the US violated Pakistan's sovereignty and airspace at will have got their man OBL and yet, you feel that Pakistan has checkmated the US?

    The Pakistanis were furious at the audacity and ease the US kicked them in the teeth. The Pakistani Govt, the Army (the idol of the Pakistani people), the Air Force and the ISI was lambasted by the people and their fury knew no bounds.

    So, one wonders, what checkmate is on?

    Some checkmate, indeed!

    By staying in Afghanistan, it gives a reason to stay in the 'unsavoury' countries of the CAR, so as to allow the US to have a 'foothold' in the region, exert its influence (remember the pro democracy movements?) as also 'monitor' the countries' activities.

    One must not forget that these 'unsavoury' regimes got substantial aid including military when they broke away from the USSR. If I am not mistaken, it is believed that the Pentagon established many new military and assistance programs, and that such programs contained six times the funds that were earmarked for the promotion of rule of law, democratic governance, and respect for human rights.

    Pragmatically observed, these bases in CAR in 'unsavoury' areas allow the US a 'footprint' to 'influence' as also to monitor the countries' activities.

    By staying in Afghanistan, the US can checkmate Iranian interest (one of the countries in US' Axis of Evil) in Afghanistan, as also assist the Jundallah faction to promote unrest in Eastern Iran, which is said that they are doing, but then who knows? Thus, Iran is 'boxed in' from both sides!

    By staying in Afghanistan, the US then has a good reason to have 'contractors' operating (it was said that they will be 'thrown' out, but then they still are there) to keep the AQ busy so that they don't have time to rest, refit and reorganise to have another shy at the US, which they are itching to do since the US killed their 'beloved' leader, the top terrorist OBL.

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    In hard, realistic, practical terms, what does the Afghan venture gain the US? What does it cost the US? If that calculation comes up negative - and it pretty clearly does - the answer is to go... though realistically it's less about staying or going than trying to devise a face-saving exit strategy and a way to gradually scale down.

    Sometimes when an enterprise was ill conceived from the start, you have to cut your losses and take an ego bruise or two, rather than cling, "stay a course" that's going nowhere useful, and take more damage down the line. It's not terminal. The US survived losing in Vietnam, it can survive cutting its losses in Afghanistan.
    Let me say it as gently as I can.

    Face saving exit?

    The fanfare of spreading 'shock and awe', 'with us or against us', 'bombing people to the Stone Age' when embarking on war, forces the US to live up to its hyperbole. Anything short of that does not appear to the world as 'face saving', even to those who are supporters of the US like us.

    Therefore, no matter what be the style of exit, it cannot be 'face saving' unless it is on terms of a victor or an exit that gives an appearance of leaving on the US' terms! Right now, it does not indicate either.

    On the issue of the US has 'survived' losing Vietnam, I would have preferred not to comment. However, since it has been raised, I will say it is a matter of conjecture. The very fact that you mention Vietnam, indicates that the US has still not 'survived' or reconciled to the 'loss' in Vietnam under circumstances not very pleasant.

    One has to understand that winning a war is not child's play. It took years to win WWII, which was also then felt would be over in a jiffy.

    What wins wars is National Morale inspite of reverses.

    Quotes from Churchill come to mind

    Let us learn our lessons. … Never believe any war will be smooth and easy or that anyone who embarks on that strange voyage can measure the tides and hurricanes he will encounter. The statesman who yields to war fever must realize that once the signal is given, he is no longer the master of policy but the slave of unforeseeable and uncontrollable events… incompetent or arrogant commanders, untrustworthy allies, hostile neutrals, malignant fortune, ugly surprise, awful miscalculations.
    Churchill had to

    describe a great military disaster, and warn of a possible Nazi German invasion attempt, without casting doubt on eventual victory

    prepare his domestic audience for France's falling out of the war without in any way releasing the French Republic to do so

    reiterate a policy and an aim unchanged - despite the intervening events -

    from his speech of 13th May, in which he had said:

    We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many long months of struggle and of suffering. You ask, what is our policy? I will say: It is to wage war, by sea, land, and air, with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us; to wage war against a monstrous tyranny never surpassed in the dark, lamentable catalogue of human crime. That is our policy. You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: It is victory, victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be
    Even though large tracts of Europe and many old and famous States have fallen or may fall into the grip of the Gestapo and all the odious apparatus of Nazi rule, we shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, and if, which I do not for a moment believe, this island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God's good time, the new world, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.
    People should not find excuses or be apologetic over minor reverses or momentary impasses by indicating the the US and the US Govt is a lot of dithering coves. I wonder if they are such ditherers, because then one wonders why the same ditherers were not taken to be so when the US stood united to embark on various wars to include Iraq and Afghanistan. Knights in Shining Armour out to save the world cannot suddenly become dithering dolt, can they?!

    The war is still not over!

    The options are many and many can be tweaked to serve the purpose.

    Notwithstanding the posts which attempts to show the US as being disoriented in its policies and endeavours, I don't think it is so. The US is quite focussed; more focussed than many, and they are aware of what they are doing and they have the wherewithal to ensure their will, even if the economy is not ideal.
    Last edited by Ray; 10-16-2011 at 07:39 AM.

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    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ray View Post
    Face saving exit?
    Applies purely to the domestic audience. Not likely to convince anyone who's paying attention, but most aren't, and most just want to get out of there.

    Let me get this straight... we're on a course where vast sums are being spent in a place where no critical or even significant US interests are at stake, and you think we should "stay the course" because if we don't people will think we're ditherers? I say ad infierno with that nonsense. If changing what doesn't work is dithering, then by all means let us dither. The course we're on was set by a government no longer in power, one with a track record of poor decisions and of overestimation US capacities and underestimating risks and the potential for adverse unintended consequences. Obviously that course has to be reassessed on a regular basis: only a fool follows a course blindly without regular reality checks. If the course is not taking us where it's meant to go, or if cost clearly exceeds benefit, the course has to change. If somebody thinks that's dithering, that's their problem, not ours.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ray View Post
    On the issue of the US has 'survived' losing Vietnam, I would have preferred not to comment. However, since it has been raised, I will say it is a matter of conjecture. The very fact that you mention Vietnam, indicates that the US has still not 'survived' or reconciled to the 'loss' in Vietnam under circumstances not very pleasant.

    One has to understand that winning a war is not child's play. It took years to win WWII, which was also then felt would be over in a jiffy.

    What wins wars is National Morale inspite of reverses.
    You make my point rather well.

    National morale is produced by the perceived necessity of the conflict at hand. WW2 was perceived to be an existential battle, therefore national morale was high and the will to persist despite reverses was there. Vietnam was perceived - accurately, as it turned out - to be a war where no critical US interest was at stake, and where cost vastly exceeded any potential gain, therefore morale and political will were low.

    Morale and political will are purely a function of the perceived necessity of the conflict. Nobody, anywhere, has demonstrated that any critical US interest is at stake in Afghanistan. No credible suggestion of strategic or economic value has been made: a few have been claimed, but they don't stand up to critical analysis. There's no existential threat and no significant gain at stake, therefore there is little political will to continue... and that makes perfect sense, given the costs involved. Remember, great powers are far more likely to fall because of overextension and wasting of wealth in pointless conflict than by failure to impose themselves in faraway places.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ray View Post
    People should not find excuses or be apologetic over minor reverses or momentary impasses by indicating the the US and the US Govt is a lot of dithering coves. I wonder if they are such ditherers, because then one wonders why the same ditherers were not taken to be so when the US stood united to embark on various wars to include Iraq and Afghanistan. Knights in Shining Armour out to save the world cannot suddenly become dithering dolt, can they?!
    Choosing a foolish course is dumb, but it happens. Staying on it after it's proven itself foolish is folly: the pursuit of policy known to be contrary to self-interest. You'd think no nation would ever pursue policy contrary to self interest, but it happens all the time. The driver is typically ego, and a refusal to change course because one is afraid to admit a mistake. In the short run admitting a mistake and correcting it may be a transient ego blow, but in the long run that does less damage than staying with the sinking ship.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ray View Post
    Notwithstanding the posts which attempts to show the US as being disoriented in its policies and endeavours, I don't think it is so. The US is quite focussed; more focussed than many, and they are aware of what they are doing and they have the wherewithal to ensure their will, even if the economy is not ideal.
    The orientation and focus change on a regular basis. That's both a strength and weakness: it diminishes continuity but it enhances the ability to adapt and to change courses that aren't working.

    Some of what you fear makes little sense to me. Supposing the US moved out of Afghanistan and the Chinese moved in. How would that hurt the US? Chances are they'd find themselves exactly where we are... so what? Even if they succeeded in pacifying the place, set up a few mines, built a railway and pipeline to Gwadar... so what? What would be the threat to the US there? Even if one assumes that China is a threat to be confronted and contained - an assumption that has IMO very little merit - why choose ground for a confrontation that has so little at stake for the US and where the US operates at such a disadvantage?
    Last edited by Dayuhan; 10-17-2011 at 12:46 AM.
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    Ray:

    I think that it is important to remember that very many Americans disagreed with the US action as it actually occurred in Iraq (really over many different periods, missions and leaders), myself included with a long list of much more distinguished US military and diplomatic leaders (including Ambassador Crocker).

    The issue in 2007/2008 was not whether to occupy all of Iraq, put Bremer in charge, de-Baathify, force adoption of a quick and ineffective transitional constitution (which may have created as many minefields as it cleared), to attempt to become Iraq's public works and construction department, etc., etc., etc...

    The issue in 2007/2008 was how to effect a civilian transfer to a viable and willing Iraqi structure (even if it might take years for them to find their better paths).

    Afghanistan in 2011 is the same set of problems multiplied by many other factors, and I remain concerned that, to date, some have been so fixated on staying that they have lost the thread of the ultimate mission which must be to leave.

    I look at some of the levels of problems in a very different way: Assuming a direct link between Afghan instability and the ISI and close Chinese relations as are always reported, doesn't it make sense, for example, to have a Chinese built railroad through Afghanistan to Gwadar? If ISI controls instability, then they logically could create stability for important infrastructure that could, in many ways, establish betterments for Afghanistan?

    Much more effective to have a "friendly" third party do such things than a graft and insecurity riddled US or International aid effort. Trade to that port obviously will create ties to India. May even open trade links with Iran.

    If all of these things are "bad" for our mission (connecting Afghanistan WITH its neighbors) then there must be something wrong with our core strategy.

    Personally, I have my fingers crossed that the new Ambassador has, or will shortly, begin building our way out (regardless of the press flak he may put up in the process). He is the guy, after all, who was in the process of negotiations with Pakistan and Iran at the time of the "Evil Empire" speech that blew all that up.

    I just which that we would learn to achieve realistic successes under credible missions without first having to explore every other possibility first.

    I have a button, still on my Iraq memory wall, that says "Will Fight for Peace!"

    In these end state periods, a conclusion will not occur unless someone is actively fighting for it.

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    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    dayuhan:

    Right.

    Those advocating a robust COIN effort in 2009 behaved as if these events either didn’t happen or don’t matter. The reality is quite different; a decade’s worth of blunders and misrepresentations has exhausted the patience of the American people. For nearly a decade, American political elites insisted that our Afghan policy was succeeding. They did not ask the public to fight the war or pay for it, and did not tell the public of the deterioration in security on both sides of the Afghan-Pakistan border. The plausibility of these policies collapsed at approximately the same time as the global economy. In the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, unemployment is the public’s top policy concern. Even more importantly, public trust in the U.S. Government has all but evaporated. Devoting hundreds of billions of dollars into an open-ended conflict in Afghanistan would have been difficult even in 2001. By 2009, such a policy was politically impossible.
    The big issue: What happens after 2014, then work backwards to what we "should" be doing to prepare for that.

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    Steve,

    I am sure that there were those who were against the US embarking on war against Iraq.

    However, given the opinion that one gathers from a variety of sources including those who have lived in the US and those who are full-fledged and parochial Americans of other origins, the types of Sarah Palin (who could see Russia from her window) and Joe the Plumber are the national opinion index and the types of Obama are the intellectual dreamer, Sarah Palin, the dream girl and heart throb of US politics also endorses the same (Sarah Palin Thankfully Not On Same ‘Intellectual Stage’ As Obama ). I am sure the ‘real six pack, fast food guzzling real Americans’ would have drowned, what you may term as, any sane analysis.

    It does not mean that there are not great brains in the US. There are. Or else how come, without fail, they get the Nobel Prize? It is a sad commentary that a country that is a pacesetter in intellect gloats over being an illiterate as equal to the love for the Ma’s American Apple Pie!

    That apart, if we rewind, if indeed the US was against the Iraq War then there should have been indignation when the US ignored the UN. There wasn't. What could be the reason? I am sure there were good reasons, as was to invade Afghanistan. I wonder if invading either Iraq or Afghanistan were wrong decisions. At best, from a military stand point, it was as stupid as Hitler’s flouting the Principle of War in Op Barbarossa to deviate from the Selection and Maintenance of Aim.

    Then, if the Americans were against the Iraq war, it is surprising that Bush won in the second term elections with 30 states and 279 electoral votes.

    Nearly 120 million Americans voted, or about 60 per cent of those eligible, the highest number since 1968, according to the Associated Press.

    With GOP candidates picking off a string of Democratic open seats, Republicans expanded their Senate caucus from 51 to 55 members.

    In short, the majority of Americans were for Bush, even though the situation by then had deteriorated drastically.

    In fact, the world 'liberal' became a sort of a cuss word or an equivalent for being treacherous.

    Not to wear the US Flag as a lapel pin became unpatriotic.

    It is fine to blame Bremmer, but then was Bremmer a defacto Pasha and not accountable to the US Administration?

    It is easy to blame after the event or find plausible reasons for errors.

    At that time, Bremmer was the apple of the eye.

    Having bombed OBL out of Tora Bora and having installed a democratic govt of Karzai, the US should have pulled out. It didn't. What could be the reason?

    On the issue that the US has lost the thread as to why they went to Afghanistan was lost both to the Republican Presidency as also to the Democratic Presidency. It does indicate that those in Govt do not subscribe to that point of view that the thread has been lost. And elected Govts in a democracy represent the country and not splinter groups of opinion. Therefore, one wonders if the US has lost the thread.

    It is good that there are people who realise the mistake. But then, it does not show in the actions. The actions merely indicates a desperation to quit even if it means ‘losing face’ but couching it with all hyperbole and excuse that are being trotted out now.

    The China – Gwadar rail link is as on the map which follows the road


    It does not go through Afghanistan.

    ISI controls instability in so far as the Pashtuns are concerned. They do not have control over the Northern Alliance tribes. Therefore, to have a rail link through Afghanistan, currently, is not feasible.

    Trade with Iran is already open for all countries, except the US since US does not want to trade with Iran. In fact, if the US reconcile with Iran (which I think is not feasible) it has the second logistic route open i.e. Chahbahar (Iran) to CAR via Afghanistan. That is the easier option in physical terms.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    Applies purely to the domestic audience. Not likely to convince anyone who's paying attention, but most aren't, and most just want to get out of there.
    Utter tripe as some may call that.

    Domestic audience indeed! But then you maybe right when Joe the Plumber is America's hero index! Or Sarah Palin, who sees Russia through her window and knows a sausage about the world, is worthy to be thought to be a Presidential candidate!

    Yet, I beg to disagree with you since American pride does not signature, inspite of a distaste for intellectual prowess, such a defeatist mentality!

    It will be the day when the American domestic audience would be ecstatic to be known as a failure to every invasion they embarked on with all the fanfare and muscle flexing to portray as being the sole saviour of the world aka the Superman image they have been fed on from childhood and having to quit with their tails between the leg! No sir, Superman, Spiderman, Wonderwoman, Batman cannot go out of business!!

    I have my serious doubt that American rejoice as being the big talk heroes but total losers!

    Let me get this straight... we're on a course where vast sums are being spent in a place where no critical or even significant US interests are at stake, and you think we should "stay the course" because if we don't people will think we're ditherers? I say ad infierno with that nonsense. If changing what doesn't work is dithering, then by all means let us dither. The course we're on was set by a government no longer in power, one with a track record of poor decisions and of overestimation US capacities and underestimating risks and the potential for adverse unintended consequences. Obviously that course has to be reassessed on a regular basis: only a fool follows a course blindly without regular reality checks. If the course is not taking us where it's meant to go, or if cost clearly exceeds benefit, the course has to change. If somebody thinks that's dithering, that's their problem, not ours.
    Let me also get it straight also.

    You may opine that the Bush administration were a bunch of fools and more fools inherited the foolishness in the Obama administration, but then, given the course of events and opinions expressed in the US and elsewhere, I daresay they are fools and full of BS (to use your favourite phrase for all opinions but yours!) and you alone is the shining star - in fact, the sole Pole star of the universe!!

    If indeed the Bush administration were of fools, then by your contention, the Obama administration following Bush’s way is also foolish, then in short, you want us to believe that all are fools in the US. If that is so, what can one say?

    Fine, none is dithering. They are following the course and they are all fools! The US is full of fools and you say that, not me!

    I think the US knows its onions and beans and they are not all that foolish. A thousand pardons for disagreeing with you!

    You make my point rather well.
    Neat way to circumvent the embarrassing with hyperbole and weak arguments acting intellectual.

    National morale is produced by the perceived necessity of the conflict at hand. WW2 was perceived to be an existential battle, therefore national morale was high and the will to persist despite reverses was there. Vietnam was perceived - accurately, as it turned out - to be a war where no critical US interest was at stake, and where cost vastly exceeded any potential gain, therefore morale and political will were low.
    How many years did it take to realise, to quote you, 'to be a war where no critical US interest was at stake, and where cost vastly exceeded any potential gain, therefore morale and political will were low.' ? It is easy to appear intelligent and intellectual on hindsight! I am amazed at the manner you can use hindsight to justify issues! Live the times and then comment!

    Why attempt to fool people with such excuses that are trotted out in hindsight to cover up the American ego for an abject and unnecessary failure at the hands of some impoverished peasant Vietcong army?

    Morale and political will are purely a function of the perceived necessity of the conflict. Nobody, anywhere, has demonstrated that any critical US interest is at stake in Afghanistan. No credible suggestion of strategic or economic value has been made: a few have been claimed, but they don't stand up to critical analysis. There's no existential threat and no significant gain at stake, therefore there is little political will to continue... and that makes perfect sense, given the costs involved. Remember, great powers are far more likely to fall because of overextension and wasting of wealth in pointless conflict than by failure to impose themselves in faraway places.
    If Afghanistan was not critical to US interest then why go for it?

    If Afghanistan is not critical to US interest, why hang around and trot out hyperbolic meanderings of no consequence? Why not cut and run?

    So, why hang around and bleed yourself?

    Are you suggesting that the Bush and the Obama Administrations are a bunch of incompetent hallucinatory dolts? If so say it straight. Why use the power of the English language to be dexterous to be neither here nor there?

    Choosing a foolish course is dumb, but it happens. Staying on it after it's proven itself foolish is folly: the pursuit of policy known to be contrary to self-interest. You'd think no nation would ever pursue policy contrary to self interest, but it happens all the time. The driver is typically ego, and a refusal to change course because one is afraid to admit a mistake. In the short run admitting a mistake and correcting it may be a transient ego blow, but in the long run that does less damage than staying with the sinking ship.
    Of course, choosing foolish course is dumb and it happens. However, to make it a national signature, does make the US appear foolish….no, not to the international audience alone, but to the domestic audience too; unless the domestic audience gloats in being born loser time after time and it is ingrained to acceptance in their genes!

    The orientation and focus change on a regular basis. That's both a strength and weakness: it diminishes continuity but it enhances the ability to adapt and to change courses that aren't working.
    Of course changes are inherent to the changed situation. That is natural. But if it means a change to the basic aim, then there is something seriously wrong.

    Some of what you fear makes little sense to me. Supposing the US moved out of Afghanistan and the Chinese moved in. How would that hurt the US? Chances are they'd find themselves exactly where we are... so what? Even if they succeeded in pacifying the place, set up a few mines, built a railway and pipeline to Gwadar... so what? What would be the threat to the US there? Even if one assumes that China is a threat to be confronted and contained - an assumption that has IMO very little merit - why choose ground for a confrontation that has so little at stake for the US and where the US operates at such a disadvantage?
    Nothing will happen no matter who moves into Afghanistan.

    All that will happen is that US will look silly, stupid and a loser nation that does not put their money where there is mouth is.

    I can’t speak for the domestic audience of the US, but the US will be a laughing stock as it was after Vietnam and now having lost both Iraq and Afghanistan, it will be stamped to be an inconsequential bully who has no will to see their purpose through.

    To the domestic audience, it may appear as a hosanna, but to the international audience, it will only be an indicator that the US is inconsequential and their opinion and ranting should be totally ignored. All gas and no go!

    Strong words that I did not want to use, but the arrogance of your post to not look beyond your nose, forces me to tell you how others perceive, even though you claim to have lived beyond your shores for years and know how others perceive!
    Last edited by Ray; 10-17-2011 at 07:54 AM. Reason: Fix quote

  18. #18
    Council Member Dayuhan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ray View Post
    the types of Sarah Palin (who could see Russia from her window)
    From Wasilla to the nearest point in Russia is over 1000km. Must have one hell of a pair of eyes.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ray View Post
    That apart, if we rewind, if indeed the US was against the Iraq War then there should have been indignation when the US ignored the UN. There wasn't. What could be the reason?
    There was indignation and resistance, but it was dfrowned out in the post 9/11 fervor. There was a brief post 9/11 period in which the US populace would have bought into practically any military action aimed at Muslims who could be even vaguely and remotely connected to terrorism, anti-US sentiment, or just generally not being nice... an astonishing number of Americans actually believed that Saddam was somehow connected to 9/11.

    That sort of obsession is powerful, but it does wear off, and when it does people start asking questions... especially as casualties run up, expenses soar, and the domestic economy tanks. The first question asked is typically "what exactly are we in this for", and if no good answer is posed, popular opinion turns very quickly. So far, dobody has been able to give the American public a clear and acceptable reason why it is so necessary to keep Karzai in power. Certainly there's no significant strategic or economic motive, and "deny AQ" only goes so far, especially with AQ well established elsewhere and OBL gone.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ray View Post
    I am sure there were good reasons, as was to invade Afghanistan.
    There was a good reason to invade. The question is whether there was a good reason to stay. Nobody seems able to provide one.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ray View Post
    Having bombed OBL out of Tora Bora and having installed a democratic govt of Karzai, the US should have pulled out. It didn't. What could be the reason?
    Mission creep. Gradually and without effective assessment, the mission morphed into "keep Karzai in power". It's never been clear how that is supposed to benefit the US, and Americans are increasingly unconvinced that it's doing them any good.

    Americans are perfectly willing to fight when they perceive a threat to them. They are to a lesser extent willing to fight to gain something, though they are understandably reluctant to use public resources to fight for gains that would accrue mainly to oil or mining companies. In the absence of any convincing threat or prospect of gain, they are - quite sensibly - reluctant to get or stay involved.

    If there's some compelling strategic or economic reason to be in Afghanistan, why is it being kept a secret?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ray View Post
    Trade with Iran is already open for all countries, except the US since US does not want to trade with Iran. In fact, if the US reconcile with Iran (which I think is not feasible) it has the second logistic route open i.e. Chahbahar (Iran) to CAR via Afghanistan. That is the easier option in physical terms.
    Trade, yes... but to hang an expeditionary force out in Afghanistan with Iran as the sole available route for support would be a very risky act, for anyone. The Iranians have their own interests, and there would be a quid pro quo, or more than one. Is Afghanistan important enough for anyone to put themselves in that position?
    “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary”

    H.L. Mencken

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dayuhan View Post
    From Wasilla to the nearest point in Russia is over 1000km. Must have one hell of a pair of eyes.


    Notwithstanding, you may have lived in the Orient and I cannot speak for the Orient, but in India, we look at the US as a storehouse of opportunity, but more importantly a huge store house of intellect and wisdom. Therefore, even if we may not be pro US as Dulles may have wanted us to be, we still think that US is a lodestar for democratic ideals, justice and a bank where we can hone our education and intelligence.

    Maybe that may not be true, but then that is how we perceive the US.

    Therefore, more than you, we hate that the US loses out to anyone and it has nothing to do with the China phobia.



    There was indignation and resistance, but it was dfrowned out in the post 9/11 fervor. There was a brief post 9/11 period in which the US populace would have bought into practically any military action aimed at Muslims who could be even vaguely and remotely connected to terrorism, anti-US sentiment, or just generally not being nice... an astonishing number of Americans actually believed that Saddam was somehow connected to 9/11.

    That sort of obsession is powerful, but it does wear off, and when it does people start asking questions... especially as casualties run up, expenses soar, and the domestic economy tanks. The first question asked is typically "what exactly are we in this for", and if no good answer is posed, popular opinion turns very quickly. So far, dobody has been able to give the American public a clear and acceptable reason why it is so necessary to keep Karzai in power. Certainly there's no significant strategic or economic motive, and "deny AQ" only goes so far, especially with AQ well established elsewhere and OBL gone.

    9/11 not only affected the US, but it affected the world. Indignation was there everywhere; maybe with the exception of the Muslim world or even the Muslims of India.

    That there was no indignation when Afghanistan was attacked, proved the point that the international community realised that the US reaction was not only natural, but totally justified.

    Iraq was a different issue. The American may have believed that Saddam was connected with terrorism, which should not have been the case if they were not Joe the Plumber types and were a little more educated and realised that Rumsfeld would not be shaking hands with Saddam or supporting him against Iran, but the world realised it was but a hoax being perpetuated as it was proved later.

    In fact, Bush's fraud over WMD ruined the little credibility that the US had and that is the beginning of the US losing its credibility sheen that it had held so far, inspite of all the Machiavellian sleight of hand perpetuated elsewhere as in Bosnia and elsewhere.

    It is a misconception that the world is anti US. No, they are not. It is only when the US thinks that others are fools and the others are blind and so the US can do what they want to do, that people get het up! Who likes to be treated as fools and dolts or the village idiot?

    One must realise those days when the non western world were naked natives running in the bush is over. We also understand the realities of the world and are not totally illiterate.

    If there was no reason for the US to be in Afghanistan, then why should Obama state that the US policy is …to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and to prevent its capacity to threaten America and our allies in the future?

    To the rest of the world, Obama appears more sane than that evangelist Bush!!

    Maybe you could explain so that we realise where we missed something.



    There was a good reason to invade. The question is whether there was a good reason to stay. Nobody seems able to provide one.
    But if one made a mistake as the only superpower of the world (as the US like to claim and impress) and stayed and not cut and run, why blame the world?

    Cut and run. Become the butt of all jokes and incompetence and example of arrogance leading to abject failure and never to be trusted again for what the US says.



    Mission creep. Gradually and without effective assessment, the mission morphed into "keep Karzai in power". It's never been clear how that is supposed to benefit the US, and Americans are increasingly unconvinced that it's doing them any good.
    So, the US embarks on whim and fancies and totally rudderless in the final aim?

    I don't think so.



    Americans are perfectly willing to fight when they perceive a threat to them. They are to a lesser extent willing to fight to gain something, though they are understandably reluctant to use public resources to fight for gains that would accrue mainly to oil or mining companies. In the absence of any convincing threat or prospect of gain, they are - quite sensibly - reluctant to get or stay involved.

    So Americans are the bully of the block till they meet their match, even if they are smaller chaps but who are more agile and dexterous?

    And that they work only because of greed and not on moral philosophy except as a cover or smokescreen for their greed, like bringing Freedom and Democracy as the missionaries brought civilisation to harvest pagan souls,who required no harvesting?!

    And the US follows in true copybook manner what Bishop Desmond Tutu said - “When the missionaries came to Africa they had the Bible and we had the land. They said, 'Let us pray.' We closed our eyes. When we opened them we had the Bible and they had the land.”

    and then messes even this!

    :rofl:



    If there's some compelling strategic or economic reason to be in Afghanistan, why is it being kept a secret?
    Search me.

    I said what the world thinks, but you called it BS.

    You tell us!



    Trade, yes... but to hang an expeditionary force out in Afghanistan with Iran as the sole available route for support would be a very risky act, for anyone. The Iranians have their own interests, and there would be a quid pro quo, or more than one. Is Afghanistan important enough for anyone to put themselves in that position?
    It is as good as the British nursery rhyme

    Half a pound of tuppenny rice,
    Half a pound of treacle.
    That’s the way the money goes,
    Pop! goes the weasel.


    Notwithstanding, I believe the US knows what they are doing even if many feel that they are just blathering and foaming at the bit!
    Last edited by Ray; 10-17-2011 at 08:49 AM.

  20. #20
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    Default ok so

    Davidfpo is for England (is it ok to call it that, or is it always Britain?) leaving on schedule, and he thinks bad things will happen when they do.

    Ray, I was just curious about peoples thoughts on leaving. But that's a lot venom in your posts, and maybe THAT is why it is difficult to have a discussion about leaving, or why I don't see it come up much. I am hoping to see some others opinions on the issue. Thank you though.

    Dayuhan also wants the US to leave, I think.

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