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Thread: Quitting Afghanistan?

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    Council Member AmericanPride's Avatar
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    Default Quitting Afghanistan?

    What do you think is the reason behind the recent surge (yes, I said surge...) in media reporting about Congressmen, academics, and the general public favoring the termination of the Afghan war? Is it because the Iraq War is no longer head-line news? Has there been, and continues to be, a strong public opposition to the Afghan War? Is it a reaction to Obama's new approach and the release of Gen. McChrystal's report? Something else?
    When I am weaker than you, I ask you for freedom because that is according to your principles; when I am stronger than you, I take away your freedom because that is according to my principles. - Louis Veuillot

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    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    The Brits had their 200th KIA and may have infected the U.S. with negative reporting - there's no language barrier, after all.

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    Council Member Abu Suleyman's Avatar
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    I don't know that there has been anymore opposition recently than usual, but some of the people who have been supportive in the past have switched their positions. It seems to have a "Cronkite effect", because for some reason the media like to report on exceptions rather than report on the common things. So when Cronkite added his gravitas to the idea that Vietnam was a lost cause, the media jumped on it. Likewise, in modern times, the media loved the idea that when Rep. Murtha turned against Iraq it signalled that "even former supporters now view the war as lost."

    Now, the issue seems to be that most Democrats never supported it very much, and Republicans aren't in control any more. That changes the dynamics for Republicans because they may not trust the opposite party to do things right, and they are no longer personally responsible if it fails. The big news is that George Will, normally a hawk, called for withdrawal today. I don't know whether Will is still an opinion setter amongst conservatives, but it certainly is an interesting take on the story. Unfortunately, the hook, and not the value of the information is what drives the news cycle today.
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    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default It's the "silly season"

    Each year the Uk media go into July-August as the "silly season", when press priorities suddenly change and stories that never get attention usually get some. Undoubtedly the parliamentary holiday, ten weeks this year, contributes; so does the holiday for editorial teams.

    Is this phenomena seen in the USA?

    Here the regular, sometimes daily reporting of deaths in Afghanistan has had an impact; whatever the historical comparison made to worse days. What is far from clear is whether the UK government and other political parties will recognise public opinion has changed - from opposition to voting intentions.

    I am not convinced UK losses have much impact in the USA, let alone on American public opinion.

    I leave aside the impact in the UK of Afghan casualties on opinions within the 'establishment'.

    davidbfpo

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default No, we partake year round.

    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    Each year the Uk media go into July-August as the "silly season", when press priorities suddenly change and stories that never get attention usually get some. Undoubtedly the parliamentary holiday, ten weeks this year, contributes; so does the holiday for editorial teams.

    Is this phenomena seen in the USA?
    Really. Year round. Beyond silly...
    I am not convinced UK losses have much impact in the USA, let alone on American public opinion.
    Probably not much in totality but they certainly resonate with many. I've had several people comment or ask questions on not only the casualties but the general effort in Helmand over the last couple of months.

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    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    IMO the economy is starting to become the main US priority as opposed to building somebody else's Nation. Then there is Mexico right next door which is the most serious security threat we face and seem to be ignoring. We need and will need more money to rebuild our own Nation and defense spending is a target of opportunity.

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    Default Americans do not understand grand strategy

    The elites by and large seem to share the American public's belief that there is a magic bullet or at least an obvious answer for any problem. They just do not seem to be able to come to grips with the idea that some problems can only be addressed by looking for the least damaging of a set of disagreeable options, or that there may not even be a viable solution (e.g. peace in the Middle East).

    I also see a disturbing inability to "connect the dots." Outside of a small minority, does anyone understand that the United States became and remains the most powerful nation in the world through past and present pursuit of deliberate policies and exercise of power and influence? Have any of the withdrawal advocates examined the possible second and third order consequences of a U.S. withdrawal or even retrenchment in Afghanistan? I have not seen any efforts to lay out a strategically literate and intellectually credible cost and benefit analysis for withdrawal from Afghanistan.

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Thank you...

    Quote Originally Posted by Pol-Mil FSO View Post
    The elites by and large seem to share the American public's belief that there is a magic bullet or at least an obvious answer for any problem...I have not seen any efforts to lay out a strategically literate and intellectually credible cost and benefit analysis for withdrawal from Afghanistan.
    Two superb and very important points.

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    Former Member George L. Singleton's Avatar
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    Default Seasonal slanted news/worst kind of yellow journalism

    David:

    Your analysis, my two cents, is dead on right and correct.

    Once our Congress is back in session so called public opinion will shift heavily, again.

    The terrorists in Pakistan are being destroyed from within tribes rising up to kill of the Taliban and al Qaida.

    We need the same thing inside Afghanistan.

    I would rather have war lords on our side than allow the Taliban and al Qaida to win outright.

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    I would guess that amongst scholars, elites, etc in the US the recent upsurge in people who think we should leave is most likely attributable to some of the more negative (some very negative) appraisals of conflict. I haven't thought it was a good strategic decision for a while, but it is certainly becoming a more popular position now.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pol-Mil FSO View Post
    The elites by and large seem to share the American public's belief that there is a magic bullet or at least an obvious answer for any problem. They just do not seem to be able to come to grips with the idea that some problems can only be addressed by looking for the least damaging of a set of disagreeable options, or that there may not even be a viable solution (e.g. peace in the Middle East).

    I also see a disturbing inability to "connect the dots." Outside of a small minority, does anyone understand that the United States became and remains the most powerful nation in the world through past and present pursuit of deliberate policies and exercise of power and influence? Have any of the withdrawal advocates examined the possible second and third order consequences of a U.S. withdrawal or even retrenchment in Afghanistan? I have not seen any efforts to lay out a strategically literate and intellectually credible cost and benefit analysis for withdrawal from Afghanistan.
    You are right about there not being any substantive writing about what would happen if we did, or how we should go about it. I think most advocates of the position, or people that are at least skeptical about the strategic logic of the occupation, assume that any fallout from a withdrawal would be mild compared to what seems likely to happen: it will cost more and more, drag on and on, and in the end when we finally do withdraw the government will be less than stable, and viewed as less than legitimate. That is not a presumption I want to make, but alas I lack the time (and professional standing) to publish an authoritative analysis of this problem (that anybody would publish). Nonetheless I think it was a war of choice from day 1, but we are there now and I will agree that there needs to be an (all options on the table) appraisal of what we should do.

    I think the Clash accurately describes my view. "If I go there will be trouble and if I stay it will be double." Combat rock baby...

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    Council Member 120mm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by George L. Singleton View Post
    I would rather have war lords on our side than allow the Taliban and al Qaida to win outright.
    This may not be an "either... or" type situation...

    Having the warlords "on our side" (HA!) may have just set the stage for the Taliban and Al Queda to win outright.

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    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pol-Mil FSO View Post
    The elites by and large seem to share the American public's belief that there is a magic bullet or at least an obvious answer for any problem. They just do not seem to be able to come to grips with the idea that some problems can only be addressed by looking for the least damaging of a set of disagreeable options, or that there may not even be a viable solution (e.g. peace in the Middle East).

    I also see a disturbing inability to "connect the dots." Outside of a small minority, does anyone understand that the United States became and remains the most powerful nation in the world through past and present pursuit of deliberate policies and exercise of power and influence? Have any of the withdrawal advocates examined the possible second and third order consequences of a U.S. withdrawal or even retrenchment in Afghanistan? I have not seen any efforts to lay out a strategically literate and intellectually credible cost and benefit analysis for withdrawal from Afghanistan.
    Of course this is how it works. We've discussed some of the reasons that the US isn't able to really "do" grand strategy before, and I'm convinced that the American fascination with technology and science leads to the "silver bullet" strategy with "one solution to rule them all." I would also contend that this blindness isn't an exclusive American trait by any means.
    "On the plains and mountains of the American West, the United States Army had once learned everything there was to learn about hit-and-run tactics and guerrilla warfare."
    T.R. Fehrenbach This Kind of War

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