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It is beyond my abilities to put into this narrative all of the ways in which I have distaste for the conservative punditocracy.  It does not however make what George Will opines in his column this morning wrong. He is in fact correct.  He knows it, and they will use it.

As a kid I watched the Soviet machine flail and flail and eventually give up expansion into Afghanistan.  As an adult, I have watched the Taliban rule the country in horror. Now, we watch as our troops fight and die each day in an ever longer shot to rebuild the country. I can only say enough is enough.

Forget capturing Bin Ladin, stabilizing the region, or whatever other excuses we use.  The war in Afghanistan does not appear to be winnable.  It is a tragedy in every way, and it sickens me greatly.  However, I must agree with the premise that it appears that we must get out. And soon.

The war in Afghanistan is not popular.  It is not going to end well.  Not one person I have spoken with over the past few months even believes the Taliban will stay away from power after the action is complete.  

From Will's Column

The U.S. strategy is "clear, hold and build." Clear? Taliban forces can evaporate and then return, confident that U.S. forces will forever be too few to hold gains. Hence nation-building would be impossible even if we knew how, and even if Afghanistan were not the second-worst place to try: The Brookings Institution ranks Somalia as the only nation with a weaker state.

With increased troop levels comes the promise of short term gain, but with the US in a massive economic crisis, and a four year election cycle, do we really have the stomach to invest the resources necessary to re-build the country.  I don't think so.

Will's statements should not come as a surprise.  He clearly (at times weakly) supported the Neo-Cons during the last eight years out of political expedience.  He, like most "traditional" conservatives shies away from US military involvement abroad and prefers a strong center, and defined nationalism. So, with an Obama presidency continuing or even expanding the Bush policies in Afghanistan, Will sees a clear opportunity to draw folks back in to the traditional republican tent.

History has a bizarre way of continually repeating itself. Barack Obama is an astute student of history, and should see that sadly he must shift course in Afghanistan now, before the conservatives make it their cause celebre.

Now, before we lament the first term of President Romney.

Originally posted to calmann on Tue Sep 01, 2009 at 07:49 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Where was Will when Bush started the war?... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RichM, Dartagnan, ShadowSD

    I say this could be referred to as a "justifed war," and I believe that President Obama will always have the best interests of the American people at heart while executing the war.

    "You cannot have a strong middle class without a strong labor movement." President Barack Obama

    by Jack Dublin on Tue Sep 01, 2009 at 07:51:10 AM PDT

  •  I don't see the calculation. (0+ / 0-)

    Will was never for the Iraq war, for instance.  At least as far as I can determine.

    Which say, Stand by thyself, come not near to me; for I am holier than thou. These are a smoke in my nose, a fire that burneth all the day.

    by bugscuffle on Tue Sep 01, 2009 at 07:53:09 AM PDT

  •   Ironic that George Will, of all people, should (0+ / 0-)

    attack from the Left. Exactly right, when did Republicans ever lack the ability to change their message on a dime for venal purposes?

    We have never been at war with Eastasia....

  •  Here a question - how about using his (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    words against him.

    It's not like George Will has been against the current strategy of "war @ all cost"

    Takin it to the streets....Doobie Brothers

    by totallynext on Tue Sep 01, 2009 at 07:54:47 AM PDT

  •  George Will is such a tool (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    with his knee-jerk global warming denying  It is hard to take him seriously, even if he is right.  My vote is ignore him, but plan an exit from Afghanistan anyway.  We can't 'rebuild' it, thereasn't anything there.  Any window of opportunity existed only right after the Taliban fell.  That window is closed.  All we can do is as we did in Iraq, help the government cut deals with the opposition, even put people on our payroll if it keeps them from running around with their AKs.

  •  George Will, or George Ball (0+ / 0-)

    I am thinking about a diary on this subject.  I hope to get it up today.

  •  this is just the GOP trying to undermine (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dartagnan, soms, p gorden lippy, Blue VA

    Obama among liberals.

    We should withdraw from Afghanistan, but don't think Will wouldn't be calling for nukes on Kabul if a Republican were in the White House.

  •  So we leave. The Taliban rules again. Terror (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    and torture and tyranny return. Women in burkas and stoned and hung and shot dead on soccer fields. And maybe, just maybe, some loosely connected terrorist organization is given some land and room to train and do those things that they do (which they can do in northern Pakistan and apartments in Hamburg and little nowhere villages in Indonesia).

    But it's that whole notion of not putting together something to leave the place better off -- to protect women and children and the innocent from the Taliban. Are you really okay with walking away from that?

    Would you have sent troops to Rwanda? We sure as hell should have. Right?

    •  Wrong (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sychotic1, DawnoftheRedSun

      It's not our job to rule the world, and those who think it is alarm me more, seem more dangerous, than anything any foreign element does within its own country.

      "99% of the battles and skirmishes that we fought in Afghanistan were won by our side." ~ Marshall Akhromeyev

      by ActivistGuy on Tue Sep 01, 2009 at 08:04:06 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Not our job to rule the world. Agreed. Morally (0+ / 0-)

        it is everyone's job to step in when reasonable. No one did anything in Rwananda and how many millions were raped, tortured, and murdered? Not our job.

        So you're okay with not doing anything to prevent the torture and murder of women in Afghanistan? Work to put together some multi-national force, something to prevent the Taliban from returning before we leave? Not our job? But as human being, our responsibility, no?

      •  Actually, it IS our job. (0+ / 0-)

        Isolationism made sense before airplanes were invented.

        But today, anyone can touch us, anyone can hurt us. We cannot just close our gates and let the world burn. We need to make the world a better, safer place. Sometimes we should use diplomacy, sometimes aid, sometimes economics, and sometimes guns.

        We just need to make sure we invade the right country this time.

        •  too late; the template was laid in VN (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Any country we invade will simply have its military don civvies hand out millions of guns to its population and the hierarchy will go underground.

          This is text book from Mao's Little Red Book but it works and confounds would be conquerors and occupiers. How do you defeat an asymmetrical force militarily?  

          •  Counterinsurgency Doctrine (0+ / 0-)

            That is the guts of counterinsurgency theory.  The new Counterinsurgency Manual really is a remarkable work.  The problem that I have is with the definition of "insurgency".  Who were the "insurgents" in Vietnam?  Was the "insurgency" the followers of Ho Chi Minh, the popular leader of a successful anti-colonial revolution, or was the "insurgency" the "government" of the made-up country of "South Vietnam", a puppet regime with very little popular support created by an invader that was perceived by the population as just another colonial occupier.  Counterinsurgency can be a good thing.  Colonialism is not.

            •  which is why the NATO forces in Bosnia (0+ / 0-)

              succeeded. The Germans are very effective at counterinsurgency. In Afghanistan our military leaders lost patience with NATO forces who refused to aggressively engage the enemy. He was frustrated that they were wasting their time digging wells and constructing schools and providing medical care.

              Until our military understands insurgencies, we will never be effective in counter insurgency  

    •  There's a problem with that (0+ / 0-)

      The problem is the fact that the Taliban is not just some attacking (or defending) force that will just lay down arms and surrender.  They are too wide spread to be able to properly take down.  Can we make an impact?  Sure.  But what's our exit strategy?  How do we pull our troops out? And when?  The problem is the fact that no matter when we pull out, the Taliban (or another entity) can easily return to power there.  So we either do the best we can to quell the terrorists long enough for Afghanistan to try to protect themselves, or we leave our troops there indefinitely.  Either way, there's no easy end to this.

      "Our group has the military precision of drunk toddlers in a dryer." - WoW Guildmate.

      by Mortus on Tue Sep 01, 2009 at 08:06:39 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  the Taliban already rules again (0+ / 0-)

      our presence isn't doing much of anything.

      If, after eight years of training and funding from the US, the Afghan government can't put together a military force to hold Kabul, what makes you think things will change in year nine or year ten?

    •  So we need to invade Pakistan and Hamburg? (0+ / 0-)

      You are not very clear on what you would do to control terrorist groups; it has already been shown that defeated militarily, they will reformulate as the Tamil Tigers are reportedly doing now

    •  I agree, but if that's the bottom line... (0+ / 0-)

      ...then our emphasis should be, frankly and firmly, on killing Taliban.  Not "nation-building" or community development, but the elimination of people who'd make a US-free Afghanistan insufferable.  If we're not willing to work on that basis, we should leave.

      Al que no le guste el caldo, le dan dos tazas.

      by Rich in PA on Tue Sep 01, 2009 at 08:24:10 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Secrets and Lies (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Because the Cheney Administration governed through secrets and lies, I'm not sure I know enough to formulate an opinion on this.  For example, I'm not really sure that I know what al Qaeda is.  Unlike some conspiracy theorists, I do believe that al Qaeda exists and that it was responsible for 9-11, but I'm not sure what it is today.  I don't know if it is currently in Afghanistan, or if there is a risk of it returning to Afghanistan if we withdraw our troops.  Nor am I sure that I know who it is we are fighting today, or what the "Taliban" (our nominal enemy) is today.  I know that there was such a thing as the Taliban that ruled Afghanistan before we invaded (or at least some parts of Afghanistan) and they were pretty awful - no dispute there.  But are they the same thing as the "insurgents" whom we are fighting today?  My sense is that the answer to that question may be, "possibly not."  My sense is that the people we may be fighting today are simply Pashtun tribes who oppose any occupiers, and who see the US as being in alliance with their historical enemies, such as the Tajiks who dominate the "Northern Alliance."  Do we really have any interest in taking sides in that fight?  I just want to make sure that Obama knows the answers - straight answers and not Cheney-derived bullshit propaganda - to these and many other questions before making a commitment that could be a disastrous mistake.

      •  Analyses have held that bin Laden (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Prince Nekhlyudov

        shot his wad with  9/11. Attacks after 9/11 were carried out by proxies, surrogates and franchisees of al Qaeda. All bin Laden has done is to issue proclamations since 9/11. To be sure he has spread his virus by proxy throughout the world but on 9/11, he lost his core of most educated, most dedicated, most intellectually adept followers. Such a simple yet complex operation carried out successfully takes years to put together and the participants have to be your very best.

        al Qaeda itself always seemed to be a small shop operation with maybe 100 actual adherents; losing his best on 9/11 may be the last big project from al Qaeda prime and all subsequent actions will be from franchisees    

        •  Modern-Day McCarthyism (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          antboy, entlord1

          Cheney, et al., tried to create the image of al Qaeda as being the leaders of some highly-organized worldwide conspiracy of radical Islamists, much like the McCarthyite vision of the global "communist conspiracy", consisting of a unified phalanx of radicals all around the world that presents an existential threat to the US and indeed Western Civilization.  Olivier Roy in his book Globalized Islam (good book, I recommend it) suggested that they are really more analogous to groups like the Baader-Meinhof Gang or other "Red Brigades" that sprang up in the '60s and '70s.  They are loosely affiliated by an extremist (and IMO crazy) ideology, but they don't constitute an existential threat or anything like an organized force that can readily be defeated militarily.  Unquestionably, they are dangerous and have to be fought by some means, and to the extent that there are governments like the former Taliban that are willing to harbor them there may be a valid role for military force in that fight, but I think we have to be very careful that we are fighting the reality, not the myth.

  •  Most assuredly (0+ / 0-)

    A sign of the end of days


    by Diamond Jim55 on Tue Sep 01, 2009 at 08:02:51 AM PDT

  •  no war can be popular after 8 years... (0+ / 0-)

    Republicans saddled Obama with this war with their "cut and run" rhetoric, and we can be sure they will run against him on it in the next election. Prepare to hear "Obama's Vietnam" over and over again. That's where our political culture is.

    Ho, their flower power is no match for my glower power!

    by gooners on Tue Sep 01, 2009 at 08:08:23 AM PDT

  •  We will win in Afghanistan (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    What people seem to forget is that the Taliban used to attack NATO.

    Now the Taliban is killing Afghans, blowing up polling places, attacking the people.

    This is tragic, but it means that we will win.  We used to be imperialist invaders, now we are protectors.  We have put our enemies on the wrong side of history and, for one of the few times since 1941, America has the moral high ground.

    We mustn't surrender that ground. This century, like the last, will be a fight between Democracies and Dictators, we need to show clearly which side we're on.

  •  Check out Will on Viet Nam War (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Until George gets VN right, he cannot comment on any subsequent war. Heck George can't even get Korea right so why should we listen to him now except for the broken clock theory? Better to listen to those who got VN and Korea right so that we have a better chance of understanding what it going on in Afghanistan. The problem with George is that even if a broken clock is right twice a day, it does not know when it is right nor does it know why

    for George and the explanation why he remained celibate through the 60s and 70s and is taking his revenge now

  •  Afghanistan always beats its invaders (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sychotic1, NonnyO, Don Enrique

    On the heights of the Kabul Gorge, they still find ancient belt buckles and corroded sword hilts. You can no longer read the insignia of the British regiments of the old East India Company but their bones – those of all 16,000 of them – still lie somewhere amid the dark earth and scree of the most forbidding mountains in Afghanistan. Like the British who came later, like the Russians who were to arrive more than a century afterwards, General William Elphinstone's campaign was surrounded with rhetoric and high principles and ended in disaster. George Bush Junior and Nato, please note.

    Indeed, if there is one country – calling it a nation would be a misnomer – that the West should avoid militarily, it is the tribal land in which Osama Bin Laden maintains his obscure sanctuary. Just over two decades ago, I found out what it was like to be on an invasion army in that breathlessly beautiful, wild, proud plateau. Arrested by the Russian Parachute Regiment near the Salang Tunnel, I was sent with a Soviet convoy back to Kabul. We were ambushed, and out of the snowdrifts came the Afghans, carrying knives. An air strike and the arrival of Soviet Tadjik troops saved us. But the mighty Red Army had been humbled before men who could not write their own names and whose politics were so remote that a mujahid fighter would later insist to me that London was occupied by Russian troops.


    Back in 1839 we British were also worried about the Russians. General Elphinstone lead an East India Company army of 16,500 – along with 38,000 followers – into Afghanistan,


    The last British guardsmen were cut down on the heights, surrounded by thousands of Afghans, firing to the last round, the company commander dying with the Union flag wrapped around his waist. Days later, the last survivor of the massacres, galloping his exhausted horse Jalalabad was attacked by two Afghan cavalry. Hacking them away from him, he broke his sword, Hollywood-style, on one of the men. But with his horse dying beneath him, he reached the British fort. It was to date the greatest defeat of British arms in history.

    The lesson of history: Afghanistan always beats its invaders

    By Robert Fisk

    Friday, 14 September 2001

  •  We should have left (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    as soon as al Quaeda training camps were taken out.  That should have been the extent of our involvement.

    We cannot "win" this war, and President Obama was foolish to get sucked into it as a "just war".

    Like someone said above.. I hate to think what will happen to the social advances of women when we leave.   But, be it tomorrow or two years from now, the Taliban will take over and force their 7th century morals back on the country.

    We had over 50 Americans die there in August.  Enough!  We have given all we should.

    "Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others." - G. Marx

    by Skeptical Bastard on Tue Sep 01, 2009 at 08:29:32 AM PDT

  •  Yep. Obama needs to thread a needle here. (0+ / 0-)

    If Republicans start to rally behind Will's new position, Obama will have a fleeting chance to get us out of Afghanistan without being stuck with the "cut and run" label.  He needs to do it quickly and deftly once the Republicans stake out their ground, and must be seen as continuing his established foreign policy (i.e., being consistent with his reasons for drawing down in Iraq) rather than caving to Republican pressure.

    Obama's a gifted politician - here's his chance to show he can outmaneuver the Republicans, do the right thing policy-wise, and help the Democrats' chances in 2010.  If he can do all three, he'll have earned the plaudits he's been given by many for his political savvy.

    •  No this is a trap, republicans know a war time (0+ / 0-)

      President is hard to unseat, Obama should and will get out of Afghanistan right after he is reelected.

      Republican brand of HOPE: "I HOPE HE FAILS"... Country First Anyone?

      by DFutureIsNow on Tue Sep 01, 2009 at 09:02:50 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Obama's not a "wartime president" (0+ / 0-)

        ... in any politically meaningful sense.  Politically speaking, America has forgotten completely about the war, with the exception of our soldiers and their families and loved ones.  Obama's not getting a wartime boost in 2012 by staying in Afghanistan, and even if he were, he shouldn't keep us there unless it's good policy.

  •  There's a BIG difference between 1979 and now (0+ / 0-)

    That would be that the US isn't trying to CONQUER Afghanistan. The USSR wanted total political control over the region and that meant installing a military government and defeating any and all opposition.

    The US strategy is different. If Afghanistan had something that Bush had wanted he would've stuck with it. The US objective in Afghanistan is to establish an autonomous, sovereign state that can take care of itself and stop officially sponsoring asymmetrical terrorist groups.

    Is this possible? Maybe, and that's a big maybe. Is this likely given the strategy? Maybe. But the USSR example does not provide an obvious counterexample.

    •  Not Sure (0+ / 0-)

      I think this oversimplifies both the Soviet occupation and the US occupation.  Interesting, I heard a woman member of the Afghan parliament on the radio the other day, who said that she was denounced by Islamic fundamentalists as a "communist" because of her support for women's rights, since women's rights had been a big part of the program of the pro-Soviet regime.

  •  George Will can kiss my ass... His epiphany (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Came after 8 years of mismanagement of the War the American people wanted us to fight, meanwhile he was DEFENDING the war for OIL in IRAQ !!!


    Republican brand of HOPE: "I HOPE HE FAILS"... Country First Anyone?

    by DFutureIsNow on Tue Sep 01, 2009 at 09:01:53 AM PDT

  •  This reminds me (0+ / 0-)

    of what a friend of mine used to say about Nixon:  that whenever he did the right thing, it was for all the wrong reasons.  Sure, Will is right this time, but he's right in the same way that a stopped clock is right twice a day (assuming it isn't a digital LED).

    -5.13,-5.64; EVERYTHING is an approximation! -Hans A. Bethe

    by gizmo59 on Tue Sep 01, 2009 at 09:08:56 AM PDT

  •  George Will doesn't believe in anything. (0+ / 0-)

     Oh, wait, there is one thing: Political Expedience. That's it.

     If McLame won, he'd be screaming from the rooftops about the need for a 'surge'.

     No sense of shame whatsoever.

    a threat to justice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere

    by quinn on Tue Sep 01, 2009 at 09:29:52 AM PDT

  •  I am quite torn on the subject of (0+ / 0-)

    Afghanistan.  I think this war was utterly fubared by the prior administration.  I believe we had a window of opportunity and through negligence and stupidity, we missed it.  I think that in order to win Afghanistan we will have to be there for the next decade.

    The only way to win is to give people something worth fighting for.  If the people of Afghanistan have a dog in the game (water, power, jobs, rights) with our help they will overcome the warlords and the taliban, but unless the populace is on our side 99 percent, it is just a suck hole for dollars and American lives.

    Repubs - the people in power are not secretly plotting against you. They don't need to. They already beat you in public. (Bill Maher)

    by Sychotic1 on Tue Sep 01, 2009 at 10:08:30 AM PDT

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