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Bloggingheads 06-25-2011 05:58 PM

The Endgame in Afghanistan (Michael Cohen & Daniel Serwer)
 

Hume's Bastard 06-25-2011 09:20 PM

Re: Reconciling the Irreconcilable
 
Props to both Michael Cohen and DANIEL (thanks, Stapler Malone) Serwer for talking so passionately and knowledgeably about reconciliation and also bringing up the border, i.e., Durand Line, issue. From my seat here in Busan, I just continue to marvel and gnash my teeth continuously over conservative reluctance to allow negotiations of any kind over any issue with any rival when military resources are involved.

Speaking of creating the ultimate means of milking the taxpayer for one's employment!

rfrobison 06-26-2011 03:45 AM

Re: The Endgame in Afghanistan (Michael Cohen & Daniel Serwer)
 
This was the best DV I've heard in a very, very long time, despite Mr. Cohen's back-lighting. Note to the discussants: Don't have the sun streaming through the window and straight into your webcam, please!

Mr. Cohen's harping on "reining in the military," I find disturbing, to say the least. Is the president not the Commander-in-Chief? He's been nominally in charge of the Afghan war for over 2 1/2 years now. If the military needs to be reined in, whose fault is that?

I think there's only one thing driving U.S. policy in Afghanistan at the moment: the 2012 presidential election. It looks to me like we're in 1989 all over again: Leave the country to its fate and hope for the best.

I doubt it will work out well for us.

Florian 06-26-2011 05:07 AM

Re: The Endgame in Afghanistan (Michael Cohen & Daniel Serwer)
 
I gather that Daniel Sewer spent most of his life in the State Department. That explains no doubt why he fears "destablization" (o favorite word of US diplomats!) and why he expresses such extreme scepticism about a precipitous withdrawal from a country that has never been stable, and moreover that barely mattered to anyone, including the US, before 9/11..... It also explains why he hasn't the foggiest idea about what should be done now. So much for the wisdom of Foggy Bottom.

http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/370...1:49&out=42:39

rfrobison 06-26-2011 05:38 AM

Re: The Endgame in Afghanistan (Michael Cohen & Daniel Serwer)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Florian (Post 214212)
I gather that Daniel Sewer spent most of his life in the State Department. That explains no doubt why he fears "destablization" (o favorite word of US diplomats!) and why he expresses such extreme scepticism about a precipitous withdrawal from a country that has never been stable, and moreover that barely mattered to anyone, including the US, before 9/11..... It also explains why he hasn't the foggiest idea about what should be done now. So much for the wisdom of Foggy Bottom.

http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/370...1:49&out=42:39

So what would the Quai d'Orsay recommend, do you think?

Florian 06-26-2011 09:51 AM

Re: The Endgame in Afghanistan (Michael Cohen & Daniel Serwer)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by rfrobison (Post 214213)
So what would the Quai d'Orsay recommend, do you think?

I have no idea. I do know that Sarkozy announced that France would follow the US and withdraw its NATO troops. 63 men dead, and for what?

Few people in Europe ever thought that making Afghanistan stable, whatever that means, was crucial to European defense because few people ever thought that Bush's "war on terrorism" made any sense.

rfrobison 06-26-2011 10:34 AM

Re: The Endgame in Afghanistan (Michael Cohen & Daniel Serwer)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Florian (Post 214218)
I have no idea. I do know that Sarkozy announced that France would follow the US and withdraw its NATO troops. 63 men dead, and for what?

Few people in Europe ever thought that making Afghanistan stable, whatever that means, was crucial to European defense because few people ever thought that Bush's "war on terrorism" made any sense.

It could be worse: The U.S. count is something like 1,600 dead.

In hindsight it's easy to criticize, but the U.S. invoked Article 5 of the NATO Treaty and the members of that organization endorsed the military response. What else could they have done with the 3,000 dead and the wreckage of the World Trade Center still smoking?

Incidentally, I have no idea what should happen, either. I have only a deepening sense of foreboding.

badhatharry 06-26-2011 10:51 AM

Re: The Endgame in Afghanistan (Michael Cohen & Daniel Serwer)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Florian (Post 214212)
a country that has never been stable, and moreover that barely mattered to anyone, including the US, before 9/11

really?
Quote:

The Soviet war in Afghanistan was a nine-year conflict involving the Soviet Union, supporting the Marxist-Leninist government of the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan[15] against the indigenous Afghan Mujahideen and foreign "Arab–Afghan" volunteers. The mujahideen found military and financial support from a variety of sources including the United States, Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom, Pakistan, Egypt, China and other nations. The Afghan war became a proxy war in the broader context of the late Cold War.
I guess it depends on what barely mattered means.

Quote:

In the mid-1980s, the Afghan resistance movement, assisted by the United States, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom, the People's Republic of China and others, contributed to Moscow's high military costs and strained international relations. The US viewed the conflict in Afghanistan as an integral Cold War struggle, and the CIA provided assistance to anti-Soviet forces through the Pakistani intelligence services, in a program called Operation Cyclone.

Florian 06-26-2011 11:27 AM

Re: The Endgame in Afghanistan (Michael Cohen & Daniel Serwer)
 
Yes, really, really, really. Read your quotes and you will understand why. Afghanistan was "a proxy war" of the Cold War, i.e. it was just another war in a string of wars between the US and the USSR fought mainly by others. If the Soviet Union hadn't invaded Afghanistan and if the United States hadn't supported the Muhajideen in order to undermine and weaken the Soviet Union, Afghanistan would not have mattered much to anyone, except of course to the Afghanis.

Stapler Malone 06-26-2011 11:47 AM

Re: Reconciling the Irreconcilable
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Hume's Bastard (Post 214191)
Props to both Michael Cohen and Adam Serwer ...

Wrong Serwer HB :)

chamblee54 06-26-2011 05:08 PM

Re: The Endgame in Afghanistan (Michael Cohen & Daniel Serwer)
 
Very few people have heard about the Durand Line. In our rush for revenge after 911, we have gotten mixed up in something we know very little about.
Whenever you see conflict in the world, there is a good chance that Great Britain had a part in creating it.
chamblee54

bkjazfan 06-26-2011 06:52 PM

Re: The Endgame in Afghanistan (Michael Cohen & Daniel Serwer)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by rfrobison (Post 214221)
It could be worse: The U.S. count is something like 1,600 dead.

In hindsight it's easy to criticize, but the U.S. invoked Article 5 of the NATO Treaty and the members of that organization endorsed the military response. What else could they have done with the 3,000 dead and the wreckage of the World Trade Center still smoking.

Incidentally, I have no idea what should happen, either. I have only a deepening sense of foreboding.

And 12,000 wounded - for what?

AemJeff 06-26-2011 07:46 PM

Re: The Endgame in Afghanistan (Michael Cohen & Daniel Serwer)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by bkjazfan (Post 214241)
And 12,000 wounded - for what?

Al Qaeda substantially weakened and its brand damaged - apparently far less able to take advantage of the Arab Spring chaos than it might otherwise have been, e.g.. A deeply flawed but better-than-the-Taliban quasi-democracy making decisions in Afghanistan. Dead Osama. I'm not sure how much more we could have asked for. I'm certain we couldn't have avoided taking action, and just as sure that, having done so, we had to follow through and provide direct military support for the Taliban's successors.

badhatharry 06-26-2011 08:08 PM

Re: The Endgame in Afghanistan (Michael Cohen & Daniel Serwer)
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Florian (Post 214225)
Yes, really, really, really. Read your quotes and you will understand why. Afghanistan was "a proxy war" of the Cold War, i.e. it was just another war in a string of wars between the US and the USSR fought mainly by others. If the Soviet Union hadn't invaded Afghanistan and if the United States hadn't supported the Muhajideen in order to undermine and weaken the Soviet Union, Afghanistan would not have mattered much to anyone, except of course to the Afghanis.

OK, this is a matter of semantics. Your sweeping statement that Afghanistan barely mattered until 9/11 wasn't at all accurate because it has been the site of strategic conflict for many decades.

Now the way it mattered could be discussed but it surely mattered.

rfrobison 06-27-2011 12:02 AM

Rolling the dice?
 
Interesting post from an "Economist" blogger about the risks of Obama's announced drawdown.

Not saying I agree, necessarily. All the choices look pretty unappetising to me.

sugarkang 06-27-2011 03:45 AM

Re: Rolling the dice?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by rfrobison (Post 214252)
Not saying I agree, necessarily. All the choices look pretty unappetising to me.

Did you see the first comment? This is the only way of "covering up defeat" it says. Why do people think that we've been defeated ever since Vietnam? If we wanted to, we could nuke everyone to oblivion and it'd be over tomorrow. It's not like we're "weak."

I wish Obama would just lay down a Godfather I, Marlon Brando ultimatum.
We won't be the first to breach the peace, but if anything happens to us, we will come back with nukes.

Florian 06-27-2011 04:20 AM

Re: Rolling the dice?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by sugarkang (Post 214265)
Did you see the first comment? This is the only way of "covering up defeat" it says. Why do people think that we've been defeated ever since Vietnam?.

Because there have not been many significant American military victories since Vietnam, unless you think that crushing the insignificant army of Iraq--twice---counts as a significant military victory. Or perhaps you are thinking of Grenada, Panama? Formidable enemies indeed.

It is rather early to declare victory in Afghanistan.

Quote:

If we wanted to, we could nuke everyone to oblivion and it'd be over tomorrow. It's not like we're "weak." .
That is the paradox of nuclear weapons. They create the illusion of strength. No one believes that the US, or any of the other nuclear powers, will ever use them, so no one takes them altogether seriously. They are an unreal threat. That was already the case at the height of the Cold War, except among a few rightwing American crackpots.

Quote:

I wish Obama would just lay down a Godfather I, Marlon Brando ultimatum. We won't be the first to breach the peace, but if anything happens to us, we will come back with nukes.
Surely you jest. Or are you crazy?

rfrobison 06-27-2011 10:13 AM

Re: Rolling the dice?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Florian (Post 214266)
Because there have not been many significant American military victories since Vietnam, unless you think that crushing the insignificant army of Iraq--twice---counts as a significant military victory. Or perhaps you are thinking of Grenada, Panama? Formidable enemies indeed.

It is rather early to declare victory in Afghanistan.



That is the paradox of nuclear weapons. They create the illusion of strength. No one believes that the US, or any of the other nuclear powers, will ever use them, so no one takes them altogether seriously. They are an unreal threat. That was already the case at the height of the Cold War, except among a few rightwing American crackpots.



Surely you jest. Or are you crazy?

Kang: On a purely emotional level, I sypathize, but I'm forced (?) to agree with my French-American friend. I'm afraid "victory" in Afghanistan is going to look like victory in the Imperial British fashion: Declare victory and go home.

While I wouldn't say Afghanistan represents a defeat for the U.S., it certainly rates no better than a stalemate...Which is as bad as losing if we return to the status quo ante: Afghanistan as a failed state where any two-bit Islamist nut can plan his next attack against the U.S.

As for threatening to push the button, that only works if the people on the receiving end have a state whose people they feel at least somewhat responsible for. If President Sarkosy, for example, fell on his head and said, "You know, I'm tired of those Americans. I'm gonna (what's French for "gonna," Florian?) frappe those Yanks with my Force de Frappe!" (France's nukes), the U.S. would hit back 100 times harder and could maybe declare itself the victor -- minus a few big American cities, assuming France has missiles that could reach across the Atlantic--sub-launched, maybe?

But al Qaeda and the Taliban have no state to defend and no citizens to protect; they would probably enjoy having Afghanistan nuked --martyrdom and all that. But the majority of Afghans surely didn't ask for the jihadis to take over their country. Such nuclear retaliation would fail to meet the test of a Just War. Presumably we do not want to operate on quite that level of depravity.

badhatharry 06-27-2011 10:53 AM

Re: Rolling the dice?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by sugarkang (Post 214265)
I wish Obama would just lay down a Godfather I, Marlon Brando ultimatum.
We won't be the first to breach the peace, but if anything happens to us, we will come back with nukes.

Unlike Florian, I don't think this is at all crazy, and in fact was practiced pretty successfully with the Soviet Union.

badhatharry 06-27-2011 10:58 AM

Re: Rolling the dice?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by rfrobison (Post 214275)
As for threatening to push the button, that only works if the people on the receiving end have a state whose people they feel at least somewhat responsible for. If President Sarkosy, for example, fell on his head and said, "You know, I'm tired of those Americans. I'm gonna (what's French for "gonna," Florian?) frappe those Yanks with my Force de Frappe!" (France's nukes), the U.S. would hit back 100 times harder and could maybe declare itself the victor -- minus a few big American cities, assuming France has missiles that could reach across the Atlantic--sub-launched, maybe?

I think the idea is retaliation, not pre emption. That's the only way it works.

sugarkang 06-27-2011 11:32 AM

Re: Rolling the dice?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by rfrobison (Post 214275)
While I wouldn't say Afghanistan represents a defeat for the U.S., it certainly rates no better than a stalemate...

i agree, but let me rephrase. Some people, that aren't you and I, are caught up with the idea of winning and losing and what it says about the state of our nation's power. I'm just saying that we haven't "lost" a war because we lacked power. I'm pretty sure you'd agree with this.

Quote:

As for threatening to push the button, that only works if the people on the receiving end have a state whose people they feel at least somewhat responsible for.

...

But al Qaeda and the Taliban have no state to defend and no citizens to protect; they would probably enjoy having Afghanistan nuked --martyrdom and all that. But the majority of Afghans surely didn't ask for the jihadis to take over their country. Such nuclear retaliation would fail to meet the test of a Just War. Presumably we do not want to operate on quite that level of depravity.
I was being facetious due to frustration. However, in game theory terms, the innocents have no incentive to take care of themselves. The cost burden needs to shift from us to them. One way to do it would be to have a credible threat of nuclear attack. I'm absolutely not saying we should do this. That doesn't mean it wouldn't work. We just wouldn't do it because even bigger problems would follow afterward.

rfrobison 06-27-2011 12:09 PM

Re: Rolling the dice?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by badhatharry (Post 214284)
Unlike Florian, I don't think this is at all crazy, and in fact was practiced pretty successfully with the Soviet Union.

I disagree. Non-state actors possessed of an apocalyptic ideology that elevates martyrdom to the highest moral good cannot be deterred in this way. Afghanistan is too weak a state to see off the threat the al Qaeda/Taliban by itself. Hence our dilemma.

Who would you drop the bomb on, exactly? Nuking terrorists, even assuming you could find them, would be akin to swatting flies with a sledgehammer: Even if you smash one fly (unlikely), you're going to do more damage to the house than is warranted. And there are plenty more where that one came from.

Egad, I'm starting to sound like Wonderment. It's just an analogy...

Florian 06-27-2011 12:09 PM

Re: Rolling the dice?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by badhatharry (Post 214284)
Unlike Florian, I don't think this is at all crazy, and in fact was practiced pretty successfully with the Soviet Union.

If you are referring to the arms race and the doctrine of nuclear deterrence, you are correct. But that only worked because both sides agreed to maintain something like "parity." A war that would end in mutually assured destruction (MAD) is almost by definition a war that will never occur---at least as long as leaders are sane and there are no accidents.

Only once during the Cold War did the US actually threaten the USSR with the use of nuclear weapons---during the Cuban Missile Crisis. And even then it was all bluff and bluster on both sides. In secret negotiations with Krushchev, Kennedy agreed to remove American nuclear missiles from Turkey and Europe in exchange for the removal of Soviet weapons from Cuba. As part of the deal, the US pledged never to invade Cuba (from Wikipedia):

Quote:

The Soviets publicly balked at the U.S. demands (to dismantle their missiles), but in secret back-channel communications initiated a proposal to resolve the crisis. The confrontation ended on October 28, 1962, when President John F. Kennedy and United Nations Secretary-General U Thant reached a public and secret agreement with Khrushchev. Publicly, the Soviets would dismantle their offensive weapons in Cuba and return them to the Soviet Union, subject to United Nations verification, in exchange for a U.S. public declaration and agreement never to invade Cuba. Secretly, the U.S. agreed that it would dismantle all U.S.-built Thor and Jupiter IRBMs deployed in Europe and Turkey.

badhatharry 06-27-2011 12:20 PM

Re: Rolling the dice?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by rfrobison (Post 214304)
I disagree. Non-state actors possessed of an apocalyptic ideology that elevates martyrdom to the highest moral good cannot be deterred in this way. Afghanistan is too weak a state to see off the threat the al Qaeda/Taliban by itself. Hence our dilemma.

Who would you drop the bomb on, exactly? Nuking terrorists, even assuming you could find them, would be akin to swatting flies with a sledgehammer: Even if you smash one fly (unlikely), you're going to do more damage to the house than is warranted. And there are plenty more where that one came from.

Egad, I'm starting to sound like Wonderment. It's just an analogy...

I said this before but I'll say it again. It's the threat that makes the thing work, not the bomb dropping. I would say that we missed a golden opportunity when we took out Bin Laden's lair. We should have said nothing. And let the threat of our intelligence operations and what forces like our Navy seals can accomplish stand as a reminder of what it's like when you mess with us.

We talk too much.

sugarkang 06-27-2011 12:55 PM

Re: Rolling the dice?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by badhatharry (Post 214308)
I said this before but I'll say it again. It's the threat that makes the thing work, not the bomb dropping.

Yep. Playing chicken and throwing your steering wheel out as McArdle pointed out. "What do you mean you threw out your steering wheel too? Fuck!"

rfrobison 06-27-2011 03:52 PM

Re: Rolling the dice?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by badhatharry (Post 214308)
I said this before but I'll say it again. It's the threat that makes the thing work, not the bomb dropping. I would say that we missed a golden opportunity when we took out Bin Laden's lair. We should have said nothing. And let the threat of our intelligence operations and what forces like our Navy seals can accomplish stand as a reminder of what it's like when you mess with us.

We talk too much.

Yes, but for the threat to be credible, you have to have a demonstrated willingness to carry out the threat. Unless you consider Hiroshima and Nagasaki sufficient to make that threat credible, you're not going to persuade anyone.

And the threat of drone strikes or commando raids or whatever is quite different than threatening to nuke somebody, as Kang was talking about earlier (which he later said was facetious).

In any event, I'm not arguing that we do nothing in the face of terrorism from jihadis. Indeed, I think if Obama is smart and does not let himself be driven by electoral politics (fat chance!), he'll find a way to keep significant forces in Afghanistan and/or Pakistan indefinitely. Just throwing out a number, here, but say on the order of 20,000 to 30,000 troops to do training and special ops.

Whether our "allies" in the region would accept that is another matter.

piscivorous 06-27-2011 04:21 PM

Re: Rolling the dice?
 
Hasn't he just proven that it is pure politics driving his decision on troop withdrawals. No mention of conditions based decisions just the 30,000 troops are leaving by the month of what convention?

rfrobison 06-27-2011 06:38 PM

Re: Rolling the dice?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by piscivorous (Post 214336)
Hasn't he just proven that it is pure politics driving his decision on troop withdrawals. No mention of conditions based decisions just the 30,000 troops are leaving by the month of what convention?

I'm afraid you're right.

stephanie 06-27-2011 06:46 PM

Re: Rolling the dice?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by rfrobison (Post 214367)
I'm afraid you're right.

What does it mean to be driven by politics?

It seems to me that there's a large number of people in the US -- both on the left and right -- who have decided that obtaining a greater success than we've managed in Afghanistan is not worth the cost in money and lives. That the promise of successful nation building, say, is slim and the cost of a longterm substantial presence there is something the US is not willing to bear.

This does not mean that we accomplished nothing by going there in the first place or that we could have avoided it. I agree with Jeff above.

It seems like you are going to interpret any choice to acknowledge the views of Americans on these issues as giving in to politics, and sure, I suppose that's fair, but the question is why that's bad. You are assuming that in the absence of these views or this pressure Obama would prefer to spend more money and time and lives than he's giving it, and I'm not so sure. More importantly, I'm not so sure I think that would be good. At the least, he'd have to be able to justify it, and while you seem to think there's a justification, I'm not convinced that Obama would agree with yours. I don't.

piscivorous 06-27-2011 07:28 PM

Re: Rolling the dice?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by stephanie (Post 214372)
What does it mean to be driven by politics?

It seems to me that there's a large number of people in the US -- both on the left and right -- who have decided that obtaining a greater success than we've managed in Afghanistan is not worth the cost in money and lives. That the promise of successful nation building, say, is slim and the cost of a longterm substantial presence there is something the US is not willing to bear.

This does not mean that we accomplished nothing by going there in the first place or that we could have avoided it. I agree with Jeff above.

It seems like you are going to interpret any choice to acknowledge the views of Americans on these issues as giving in to politics, and sure, I suppose that's fair, but the question is why that's bad. You are assuming that in the absence of these views or this pressure Obama would prefer to spend more money and time and lives than he's giving it, and I'm not so sure. More importantly, I'm not so sure I think that would be good. At the least, he'd have to be able to justify it, and while you seem to think there's a justification, I'm not convinced that Obama would agree with yours. I don't.

So you mean the One's good war is useless but the One's evil war in Iraq, which has resulted in the establishment of representative governance in the Arab world is a resounding foreign policy success for the One. I can almost laugh at the irony.

rfrobison 06-27-2011 08:00 PM

Re: Rolling the dice?
 
To be clear, I don't claim to know what should happen in Afghanistan. Obama has a tough choice to make. And of course presidents do and should listen to public opinion.

My fear is, however, as Mr. Cohen said, that President Obama has no clear idea what success should look like--at least he hasn't articulated one--or how he intends to bring it about.

As the election looms larger, he's going to be under increasing pressure to pull the troops out, come what may. And what may come is a reversion to Afghanistan circa Sept. 10, 2001.

I'd hate for that to be the best we can do. Otherwise, all those deaths will indeed have been in vain. Personally, it's hard to imagine a President McCain letting that happen, whatever his other flaws.

I admit I'm biased, though.
Quote:

Originally Posted by stephanie (Post 214372)
What does it mean to be driven by politics?

It seems to me that there's a large number of people in the US -- both on the left and right -- who have decided that obtaining a greater success than we've managed in Afghanistan is not worth the cost in money and lives. That the promise of successful nation building, say, is slim and the cost of a longterm substantial presence there is something the US is not willing to bear.

This does not mean that we accomplished nothing by going there in the first place or that we could have avoided it. I agree with Jeff above.

It seems like you are going to interpret any choice to acknowledge the views of Americans on these issues as giving in to politics, and sure, I suppose that's fair, but the question is why that's bad. You are assuming that in the absence of these views or this pressure Obama would prefer to spend more money and time and lives than he's giving it, and I'm not so sure. More importantly, I'm not so sure I think that would be good. At the least, he'd have to be able to justify it, and while you seem to think there's a justification, I'm not convinced that Obama would agree with yours. I don't.


Wonderment 06-27-2011 08:35 PM

Re: Rolling the dice?
 
Quote:

It seems to me that there's a large number of people in the US -- both on the left and right -- who have decided that obtaining a greater success than we've managed in Afghanistan is not worth the cost in money and lives. That the promise of successful nation building, say, is slim and the cost of a longterm substantial presence there is something the US is not willing to bear.
Obama's mistake was surging in the first place, so now that "war fatigue" has set in and he's de-surging he looks like a politically motivated schmuck. Still, any progress in ending the war and the gagillions we're squandering there is a good thing. The sooner the better.

rfrobison 06-27-2011 08:41 PM

Re: Rolling the dice?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Wonderment (Post 214390)
Obama's mistake was surging in the first place, so now that "war fatigue" has set in and he's de-surging he looks like a politically motivated schmuck. Still, any progress in ending the war and the gagillions we're squandering there is a good thing. The sooner the better.

And should the Taliban come back and start publicly executing "adulterers" and whipping girls who try to go to school, well, "peace" has it's price.

Gandhi would be proud, I'm sure.

stephanie 06-27-2011 10:06 PM

Re: Rolling the dice?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by piscivorous (Post 214383)
So you mean the One's good war is useless but the One's evil war in Iraq, which has resulted in the establishment of representative governance in the Arab world is a resounding foreign policy success for the One. I can almost laugh at the irony.

Perhaps you should translate this from RW-ese into English, so that I can follow and respond to it.

Also, perhaps you should refrain from pretending you know what I think and claiming "what I mean" about things I have not commented on.

Or maybe this is that good faith conservative engagement in the forum that Bob is so hoping for.

stephanie 06-27-2011 10:15 PM

Re: Rolling the dice?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by rfrobison (Post 214386)
My fear is, however, as Mr. Cohen said, that President Obama has no clear idea what success should look like--at least he hasn't articulated one--or how he intends to bring it about.

This has been a problem with the war in Afghanistan from the beginning, probably. It's why we should have had clear objectives that were actually obtainable and sustainable, and that's a criticism of Obama as well as Bush. And not a particularly harsh criticism of either.

Quote:

As the election looms larger, he's going to be under increasing pressure to pull the troops out, come what may. And what may come is a reversion to Afghanistan circa Sept. 10, 2001.
I don't totally agree -- I wouldn't say the same situation as 9/10/2001, especially with regard to US security -- but I think the likelihood that we successfully nation build in Afghanistan is small and has always been small. I don't see this as a justification for us continuing as is with no end, which seems to be the only option you are suggesting.

I don't think the US has the stomach for this, no matter who gets elected in '12 or '16. And I don't see why it's a good policy even if we did.

Wonderment 06-27-2011 10:23 PM

Re: Rolling the dice?
 
Quote:

And should the Taliban come back and start publicly executing "adulterers" and whipping girls who try to go to school, well, "peace" has it's price. Gandhi would be proud, I'm sure.
Gandhi was a pacifist, not an idiot. He wouldn't have bought for a nanosecond the fable that the fate of Afghan girls depends on the US military.

rfrobison 06-27-2011 10:36 PM

Re: Rolling the dice?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by stephanie (Post 214405)
This has been a problem with the war in Afghanistan from the beginning, probably. It's why we should have had clear objectives that were actually obtainable and sustainable, and that's a criticism of Obama as well as Bush. And not a particularly harsh criticism of either.



I don't totally agree -- I wouldn't say the same situation as 9/10/2001, especially with regard to US security -- but I think the likelihood that we successfully nation build in Afghanistan is small and has always been small. I don't see this as a justification for us continuing as is with no end, which seems to be the only option you are suggesting.

I don't think the US has the stomach for this, no matter who gets elected in '12 or '16. And I don't see why it's a good policy even if we did.

It's hard to say, isn't it? And I agree that we don't have the stomach for unending war--and that's no bad thing. The real question is whether we have the stomach for any protracted military campaign.

What I think should happen, in an ideal world, is for the U.S. to sign some sort of long-term security agreement with the government in Kabul under which the U.S. would pledge assistance to Afghanistan and the Afghans, in turn, would commit to political reforms. If people want to call this "reconciliation with the Taliban," that wouldn't bother me too much. I think this could be done, while at the same time drawing down U.S. troop levels significantly, and it may in fact be what Obama has in mind--though I suspect he won't say so.

But we're going to need to remain involved militarily in the region in some form for many, many years. Or we can simply leave and hope for the best. I should hope our memories aren't that short.

Obama would do the American people a favor by laying out those facts.

rfrobison 06-27-2011 10:59 PM

Re: Rolling the dice?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Wonderment (Post 214408)
Gandhi was a pacifist, not an idiot. He wouldn't have bought for a nanosecond the fable that the fate of Afghan girls depends on the US military.

OK, I'll bite. What does it depend on?

badhatharry 06-27-2011 11:32 PM

Re: Rolling the dice?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by rfrobison (Post 214330)
Yes, but for the threat to be credible, you have to have a demonstrated willingness to carry out the threat. Unless you consider Hiroshima and Nagasaki sufficient to make that threat credible, you're not going to persuade anyone.

Nitpicking here, but the USSR never detonated a nuclear bomb and we were afraid of them. We've just never played these cards right. The world should be scared to death of us and what we are capable of inflicting on those who cross us.

Instead...

rfrobison 06-27-2011 11:42 PM

Re: Rolling the dice?
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by badhatharry (Post 214423)
Nitpicking here, but the USSR never detonated a nuclear bomb and we were afraid of them. We've just never played these cards right. The world should be scared to death of us and what we are capable of inflicting on those who cross us.

Instead...


Er, we had good reason to fear the Soviets, and not just for their nukes, as anyone who lived in Eastern Europe during the Cold War will tell you.

I agree that fear will do in a pinch against an implacable foe, but we'd do better to cultivate a healthy respect, trending toward affection and admiration, wherever possible. We do not want simply to be Rome, do we? I don't, anyway.


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