Obama and the Afghan Abyss

Why it's time for the U.S. to get out of Afghanistan

As President Barack Obama ponders the moral case against tossing more young American soldiers into the Afghan abyss, he faces several political obstacles, including some of his own making.

In a classic primary gaffe to fix a verbal stumble, Obama opted to sound tough on Afghanistan and Pakistan after asserting he'd talk to dictators. His chief opponent—and current Secretary of State—Hillary Clinton, pounced. So in the next news cycle he sounded tough as nails. Compounding the error early this year, Obama sent more troops and a new commander, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, but left the mission open-ended, thus appearing to fill an implied campaign promise.

Now Republicans are painting the young president as naive for suggesting he might downgrade the mission. And the GOP war hawks are setting McChrystal up for hero status in the same way they elevated David Patraeus in Iraq, implying that control over mission, strategy, and tactics should be in professional military hands, instead of those of the Commander-in-Chief—who has that constitutional obligation.

The second dilemma Obama faces in trying to alter course is a gotcha press corps, especially the talking air heads of cable babble, who are always ready to hold an official to every word he uttered in the silly season of a campaign. As someone who teaches college journalists about politics, I take the watchdog role of the press seriously. But I also worked in electoral politics, including a presidential primary, plus 8 years on Capitol Hill. The heat of a primary race is no place to formulate sound policy.

Candidates are pulled every which way by operatives and consultants, not to mention the press pack, who see no farther than the next news cycle. An often young and inexperienced press corps, especially talking-points babblers on ideologically polarized cable networks, make it excessively difficult for an elected official to change course in office—even when it makes infinite good sense to do.

Third, finally, and most importantly, Obama faces the intra-party impediment of a Democratic foreign policy establishment, which thinks the party still looks like a bunch of Cold War era, national security weaklings compared to the toughness of "Reagan Democrats." Never mind that the Cold War is over, and the Reagan Democrats are mostly dead! Replacing the "good war" (WWII) and Depression era center of the 1980s' electorate are the 21st century sex, drugs, and rock & roll non-interventionist Baby Boomers and Gen X'ers.

The "neo-con lite" wing of the Democratic Party, headquartered at the so-called Democratic Leadership Council, was started by the military-obsessed, Southern wing of the party way back in 1984. These self-styled "Democratic" foreign policy wizards colluded with George W. Bush and the neo-cons in promoting the Iraq tragedy, instead of saving us from it!

You can also find these neo-con lites on the editorial pages of the "liberal" Washington Post, which aggressively supported the Iraq madness and has tried ad nauseam to defend its discredited position. Now, the neo-con lites seek to compound their foolishness by working to maneuver Obama into sending more troops to the Graveyard of Empires.

Mr. President, your decision about Afghanistan is not a political choice. This isn't a highway appropriations bill or even your healthcare reform plan, open to tinkering here and marginally adjusting there.

There are potentially thousands of young lives at stake, individuals who you will send to die and be maimed. And the choice of stepping up this horror—rather than drawing it down—will engender bitter hatred from Afghans caught in the crossfire.

Do not listen to the Washington foreign policy establishment and its brother institution, the never-ceasing military industrial complex, which believe that America, because we have big hard power, has to intervene and use that power for nation-building and the hallucination that geographic entities like Iraq and Afghanistan can develop liberty-loving democracies. There have to be indigenous movements for that to happen, and there are no such movements in the tribal, theocratic cultures of the Middle East—with the possible exception of Iran, unless our war hawks drive the young people there into the nationalist arms of the loonies who now run their country.

Do the right thing, Mr. President. We kicked out the Taliban eight years ago. It is long-since time to hugely scale back our effort and troop commitment.

While many congressional Democrats are still afraid of their Cold War shadows, you have our party's base massively favoring withdrawal, and a majority of independents are solidly with you.  Get us out now.

A former press secretary for the Democratic National Committee and current director of the non-partisan Washington Center for Politics & Journalism, Terry Michael blogs at "thoughts from a libertarian Democrat."

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • jester||

    The War on Terrorism is far to important to fret about individuals. They signed up for it anyway.

  • jester||

    'The heat of a primary race is no place to formulate sound policy'

    Terry, you cynical fuck! That is exactly where you make such declarations and you roll with the punches or else serving as a public servant is not worth serving.

  • jester||

    'The heat of a primary race is no place to formulate sound policy.'

    Interesting, what are you really trying to say?

  • jester||

    rock & roll non-interventionist Baby Boomers and Gen X'ers.

    That is precious what does that mean? They really thwarted military action?

  • jester||

    Finally Mr. Michael your disease is trying to put this on a Republican/Democrat scale. Fucked is fucked. Go ahead and examine shit under a microscope.

    Get the fuck out of Afghanistan. Fuck hubris. Fuck 'who was right'. Fuck George Bush. Fuck Obama. Fuck you. Fuck Lonewacko.

  • jester||

    So Obama can pull all troops out of Afghanistan.

    I'll be happy. Why does he have to make the opposition happy? That is so rich. The politician always compromises for supposed reelection. As if there won't be someone to challege him that is legitimate in any way.

    Same old bullshit.

  • jester||

    ALERT! ALERT! ALERT!

    Mr. Jester

    You have exceeded your input allowance.

    Host Computer

  • ||

    A 7-fer? Jester, a new record!

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    At least he didn't start arguing with himself.

  • jester||

    If you stupid fucks would get up from bed I wouldn't have to argue with myself. Assholes!

  • jester||

    that's jester with a small j.

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    Seriously, I have days when I want to say something constructive, but my mind, if represented graphically, would consist merely of Sling Blade and Forrest Gump staring at one another.
    I mean, really, I'm one of the few people who's often on the site as early as you.

  • MNG||

    "would consist merely of Sling Blade and Forrest Gump staring at one another"

    heh, that was a funny image indeed (why not pick the guy from the Green Mile instead of Forrest though?)

  • Plant Immigration RIghts Suppo||

    The debate over NAZI-style healthcare has been distracting many people from the two wars we are in. Glenn Beck has lately been saying "Either fight to win or pull out".

  • Plant Immigration RIghts Suppo||

    Is Jester another handle for LoneWacko?

  • MNG||

    PIRS
    Don't you think "Nazi-style health care" is a bit, well, hyperbolic?

    I mean, it can be an incorrect policy choice without being "Nazi-style health care."

    I tend to think of it like the road I pass that has been worked on for years and years without finish. If the government does the same crappy job with my health care it will be like that road. So I wrote my Congressperson and asked them to vote against anything that will screw up my private health care.

    But I don't think Nazism is in the picture.

  • jester||

    Is Jester another handle for LoneWacko?


    Read the thread dipshit! Repent! and BE baptized!

    You are a stupid fuck. (Note to self: PIRS, contrary to previous interaction, is now a stupid fuck.)

  • jester||

    Glenn Beck is a dipshit just like you PIRS.

  • Plant Immigration RIghts Suppo||

    "Don't you think "Nazi-style health care" is a bit, well, hyperbolic?"

    Perhaps, but it is also accurate.

    "I mean, it can be an incorrect policy choice without being "Nazi-style health care.""

    Sometimes I get frustrated that in worrying about Godwin too much insights may be missed. There are simply too many parallels to ignore.

    "I tend to think of it like the road I pass that has been worked on for years and years without finish. If the government does the same crappy job with my health care it will be like that road."

    [Yoda voice] Learning of the ways of the dark side you are. The dark side always inefficient it is. [/Yoda voice]

    "So I wrote my Congressperson and asked them to vote against anything that will screw up my private health care."

    Good for you.

  • Plant Immigration RIghts Suppo||

    I am hurt, now Jester does not like me. I am going to go off in a corner and cry.

  • jester||

    Agreed MNG,
    It's not 'Nazi-styled', that would be hyperbole. Over-the-top socialistic is a fairer terminology. Everyone can understand that.

  • MNG||

    What do you mean it is accurate? First, there are numerous health care reform plans on the table, so I have trouble with any claim that "reform=Nazi care."

    Second, it's clear that the association with Nazism is meant to invoke the horrible parts of Nazism. But Nazis also did things like build roads and schedule trains, and something is not evil simply because the Nazis thought it was a good thing.

    My point was that I don't anticipate many Nazi-type horrors if one of these health reform plans passes. I think rather we'd see something like the inefficient road project I mentioned.

  • jester||

    jester with a small j doesn't like you. Get it straight, whiny freak.

  • MNG||

    I mean, Canada has a far more socialistic health care system than what is being proposed here, and who in their right mind with any familiarity with Canada thinks Canada=Nazi Germany?

  • DJF||

    """"The "neo-con lite" wing of the Democratic Party, headquartered at the so-called Democratic Leadership Council, was started by the military-obsessed, Southern wing of the party way back in 1984. These self-styled "Democratic" foreign policy wizards colluded with George W. Bush and the neo-cons in promoting the Iraq tragedy, instead of saving us from it!""""


    I prefer to call them "Neo-Libs". And in fact many of the Neo-Cons are liberal when it comes to domestic agenda though they are slightly less liberal then the Neo-Libs. Our politics is dominated by the Neo's who control both parties. There is little difference between McCain and Obama, though each uses difference rhetoric and have different party factions they must throw a bone to every once in a while

  • jester||

    MNG,
    Nazi-care is propoganda and you know it. But from your visitation of this site, you certainly understand that most of us favor market solutions.

    Nazi-care emanates from the belief that that ObamaCare would lead to the practices of the Third Reich. Although Obama could possibly rule for a thousand years with a new set of blue eyes and endless organ transplants, most of us see that as idiotic propoganda from the desk of...

  • Plant Immigration RIghts Suppo||

    "My point was that I don't anticipate many Nazi-type horrors if one of these health reform plans passes. I think rather we'd see something like the inefficient road project I mentioned."

    Perhaps you don't. But it enables great horrors. When your life is in the hands of the state the state can take away your life. I would also urge you to look up the controversy over the Indian Health System which has been accused, with a great deal of reliable evidence, of sterilizing women who did not ask to be sterilized. It is something to seriously take into consideration.

  • jester||

    Canada=Compromised Health Services

    Who are you kidding?

  • jester||

    PIRS,
    you started it. Comparing me to Lonewacko. Fuck you. You don't know me. Fucking Fucker of a Fuck.

    Fuck you!

  • jester||

    No!

  • jester||

    Never!

  • jester||

    Nunca!

  • jester||

    jamais!

  • ||

    Micheal's piece is below retarded. We are not going to end any horrors in Afghanistan. Our choices are stark, we can either stay there and subject the Afghans to the horror of war and prevent them from being subject to the Taliban. Or we can leave and leave them to the living hell that is living under the Taliban.

    When are the peaceniks are reason going to get it through their thick heads that the enemy gets a vote and the US is not responsible for every horror on earth. Maybe the Taliban is responsible for the war by sitting in Pakistan and launching terror attacks against the Afghans. In the end, the idea that the war is entirely the US's responsiblity shows how profoundly racist Terry is. In his eyes, Afghans or Pakistanis are not fully human and subject to moral judgment. That is reserved for the superior Americans. Afghans and Pakistanis, while worthy of sympathy, are just some kind of sub human race that cannot be blamed for engaging in tactics that would be condemed when commmitted by a Westerner. White supremacy still rules in the hals of the West.

    It may be a good idea to cut our losses and leave Afghanistan. But if it is, it won't be because we want to spare the Afghans the horrors of war. It will be because we decide that saving the Afghan people from the Taliban just isn't worth the effort anymore. It will be a cold political and strategic calculation and nothing else.

  • ||

    We seem to be getting a great deal of pointless grafiti now. Could someone please clean this up?

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    why not pick the guy from the Green Mile instead of Forrest though?

    Didn't that guy have magical powers? I don't have anything like that.

  • ||

    There have to be indigenous movements for that [liberal democracy] to happen, and there are no such movements in the tribal, theocratic cultures of the Middle East-with the possible exception of Iran, unless our war hawks drive the young people there into the nationalist arms of the loonies who now run their country.



    I mostly agree with that. Lebanon has a credible chance of creating a stable functioning democracy. Turkey's strides toward liberty should not be discounted either.

    If we don't derail it with heavy handed diplomacy, the people of Iran could very well throw the theocrats out (or display their heads on spikes).

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    That's a metasynecdoche, if you didn't catch it.

  • ||

    Jester is a synonym for fool.

    I wonder why anyone would choose that as a nom de plume other than being self-aware enough to recognize their own mental deficiencies.

  • Plant Immigration RIghts Suppo||

    "I wonder why anyone would choose that as a nom de plume other than being self-aware enough to recognize their own mental deficiencies."

    I just wish that someone would erase posts that have no substance in them whatsoever. It is annoying having to skip over them.

  • ||

    John,

    You may wish to spend terabucks and kilolives over generations, to remake Afghan culture.

    I sure as hell don't.

  • ||

    US is not responsible for every horror on earth.

    Just a little corner called Guantanomo Bay.

  • ||

    Delete the second comma in my previous. Fortunately National Punctuation Day was a couple of days ago.

  • Plant Immigration Rights Suppo||

    troy,

    You may be new here. I do not know. But you will not find very many people here who support torture. We are libertarians (for the most part) and not conservatives.

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    I just wish that someone would erase posts that have no substance in them whatsoever. It is annoying having to skip over them.

    Because you don't appreciate their metacontextual significance. Logorrhea and "spam" are in fact high entropy semiotic analogues to the discarded thoughts, he scrapheap of the noosphere, as it were.

    Sadly, this sort of pseudointellectual bullshit is really easy for me.

  • jester||

    I wonder why anyone would choose that as a nom de plume other than being self-aware enough to recognize their own mental deficiencies.

    That's a small j and the jokes on you dipshit!

  • Plant Immigration RIghts Suppo||

    "Sadly, this sort of pseudointellectual bullshit is really easy for me."

    Are you a college professor?

    [ducks]

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    the* scrapheap of the noosphere.

  • Plant Immigration RIghts Suppo||

    Hey Art-P.O.G.

    I grew up in Reynoldsburg. I lived in a neighborhood just off of Wagonner.

  • jester||

    I just wish that someone would erase posts that have no substance in them whatsoever. It is annoying having to skip over them.

    Wow! You have a really small and/or anal mind. Freak!

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    Are you a college professor?Yikes, that's actually a career I'm considering. My mental acuity for large plans* is sadly lacking, but dithering away on meaningless details is bizarrely fascinating to me.


    *Large-scale plans are often doomed to failure anyway, but I appreciate some people's to implement and coordinate vast quantities of assets. Actually constructing discrete structures such as technology prototypes seems like something I could do, though. In the end, I'm just a pretentious artist with a passing interest in matters technical.


    OK, all that shit to explain why I suck at analysis/discussion of healthcare policy and analagous debates.

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    I grew up in Reynoldsburg. I lived in a neighborhood just off of Wagonner.

    That's just fucking scary. We probably know some of the same people.

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    Well, when I went to H.S., Bob Stamps was the principal.

  • ||

    I just wish that someone would erase posts that have no substance in them whatsoever. It is annoying having to skip over them.



    Eric the .5b's Indisputably Non-Coercive Idiot Filter for Reason Hit & Run may be just what you're looking for.

  • Plant Immigration Rights Suppo||

    Hmm,

    Have you thought about applying to CCAD?
    http://www.ccad.edu

    If you are an artist and want to be a college professor it would not hurt to apply . . .

  • Plant Immigration Rights Suppo||

    "Well, when I went to H.S., Bob Stamps was the principal."

    I lived a stones throw from Licking County so, due to the effed up bounderies I went to Licking Heights High School. Small school - very small. I had a graduating class of 80.

  • ||

    That's a small j and the jokes on you dipshit!

    Read the sentence again, moron. An average third grader would understand that I was clearly referring to the noun jester. They would also be aware that the first word in a sentence is capitalized.

    So explain the joke to me, fool.

  • jester||

    'Are you a college professor?'

    'Yikes! that's actually a career I'm considering.'

    'Well, when I went to H.S., Bob Stamps was the principal.'


    Please, boys, take your relationship off-line. I haven't had butt sex with a man in a long time and you are making me jealous.

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    If you are an artist and want to be a college professor it would not hurt to apply . . .

    That's my alma mater and I wouldn't mind going back. I have friends who still attend or work there (not as faculty, AFAIK). Student loans boned me so bad I ended up in the Army. Hence...

    Anyway, jester, you might need to sleep this one off...

  • jester||

    J sub D,
    I don't take myself seriously. So I am a moron. Good enough for me. You win. Genius.

    I actually thought you were cool, before. My bad.

    Note to self: J sub D is always wrong even if he says something I agree with.

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    Small school - very small. I had a graduating class of 80

    That would explain why I'm only vaguely aware of the school...

  • JohnD||

    Is Jester actually Tony? They both sound like the same fool.

  • jester||

    'They would also be aware that the first word in a sentence is capitalized.'

    You condescending fuck. You read it again and if you don't get my meaning you are retarded. Does baked penguin capitalize his handle? You stupid nitpicking fuck? no he does not. Fuck you, asshole.

  • Plant Immigration Rights Suppo||

    "Student loans boned me so bad I ended up in the Army. Hence..."

    So did you ever go to Afghanistan? Maybe you can provide personal insight to this topic ....

  • jester||

    JohnD: Where can I sign up for stupid asshole?

    JohnD, if you've ever read a thing I've said, you wouldn't have said that. But you did.

    That makes you an asshole.

  • ||

    jester,
    If I bruised your tender feelings with my less than diplomatic comments, get over it.

    I'd apologize but for the fact that I yam what I yam.

  • ||

    "John,

    You may wish to spend terabucks and kilolives over generations, to remake Afghan culture.

    I sure as hell don't."

    And you may be right about that. I am not sure to be honest. But, if we do chose to leave, we should at least be honest and admit that is the reason instead of putting out bullshit that we are "inflicting the horrors of war on Afghanistan and making them hate us".

    Your position, while perhaps wrong, is at least honest and while depressing at least reasonable. Terry's position is just self loathing western liberal bullshit.

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    Damn, ya'll, I think jester's having a bad day.

  • Art-P.O.G.||


    So did you ever go to Afghanistan?

    Nah, Iraq.

  • Plant Immigration Rights Suppo||

    I wonder if that Poppeye cartoon inspired the Eminem song "The Way I am"

  • Bingo||

    jester:

    you suck.

  • Eminem||

    Cause I am
    Whatever you say I am
    If I wasn't, then why would I say I am?
    In the papers, the news, everyday I am
    I don't know it's just the way I am

    Sometimes I just feel like my father, I hate to be bothered
    With all of this nonsense it's constant
    And "oh it's just lyrical content!"
    The song "Guilty Conscience" has gotten such rotten responses
    And all of this controversy circles me
    And it seems like the media immediately points a finger at me
    So I point one back at 'em
    But not the index or the pinky or the ring or the thumb
    It's the one you put up when you don't give a fuck
    When you won't just put up with the bullshit they pull
    Cause they full of shit too
    When a dude's gettin bullied and shoots up your school
    And they blame it on Marilyn - and the heroin
    Where were the parents at?
    And look at where it's at middle America
    Now it's a tragedy
    Now it's so sad to see
    An upper class city having this happening
    Then attack Eminem cause I rap this way
    But I'm glad cause they feed me the fuel
    That I need for the fire to burn and it's burnin' and I have returned

  • BakedPenguin||

    Hate to un-jack the thread, but anyway...

    I agree with much of it but this:

    ...implying that control over mission, strategy, and tactics should be in professional military hands, instead of those of the Commander-in-Chief



    ...is wrong. The C-in-C should be in charge of the mission (e.g., whether we go in or not). Leave strategy and tactics to professionals. There's a reason why we have West Point, Annapolis, Colorado Springs. It's so we can turn out a bunch of assholes who think they know everything. Along with them, we'll produce the occasional competent officer who understands how to fight wars. The C-in-C should go to the military and say "I want to do X". The military should then say "we will need X number of men, Y number of tanks, etc. etc." to get that done. We expect X casualties."

    The main point - that there is no longer a compelling reason to be in Afghanistan - is entirely true.

    jester: I take these once in a while. Good stuff, ask your doctor about them.

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    The question is at what exact moment did this thread nuke the fridge?

  • ||

    Popeye cartoons are proof that some of our ancestors were pretty cool MoFos. That was released 76 years ago when my parents were children.

  • Warty||

    HAY GISE WATS GOIN ON IN THIS THREAD

  • BakedPenguin||

    John, while I agree with Terry, I am more than willing to add that the lives of our soldiers and the money we'll have to pay are reason enough to make me want to leave.

    J sub D: I always knew Popeye was a sailor, I didn't know he was a fire control officer.

  • Plant Immigration Rights Suppo||

    "The main point - that there is no longer a compelling reason to be in Afghanistan - is entirely true."

    There is no reason to be there if we are not willing to actually - you know - win. But if we could create an environment where people could live in freedom that would be - long term - to our advantage.

  • ||

    Damn I admire the comaraderie here.

  • jester||

    Art-P.O.G.,

    Truce. I started the whole down with jester with my own self-depreciative post. Several posters took it it further and my owmn egotistical self misinterpreted it as other than praise. I am God again, and I love everyone.

    Bless you, brother

  • MNG||

    "Didn't that guy have magical powers?"

    Yeah, but he was simple is as simple does.

    Or something like that ;)

  • BakedPenguin||

    PIRS - An army is a poor tool to achieve cultural change.

    J sub - sorry, misread your post, hence my incoherent reply.

  • ||

    J sub D: I always knew Popeye was a sailor, I didn't know he was a fire control officer.

    The whole navy only exists for two reasons. Putting marines on the beach and the art/science of fire control.

  • jester||

    Baked Peguin,

    I know I need valium, but I just can't make the step. J sub D, yes you bruised me real bad, but I am already over it. You're still an asshole, but then so am I.

  • Plant Immigration RIghts Suppo||

    "An army is a poor tool to achieve cultural change."

    Under normal circumstances I agree. These are far from normal circumstances. I certainly much prefer to use free trade, cultural exchange etc. etc. etc. I also oppose el bloqueo contra Cuba for this very reason. Radical Islamic terrorism is unique. Afghanistan is unique. The Taliban is not open to cultural exchange of any sort. Hell, they killed little girls for flying kites. Force sometimes can only be met with force.

  • BakedPenguin||

    The Taliban are scum like few others on this planet are scum. They forced women out of the workplace, meaning they had to either starve or prostitute themselves if their husbands died. Naturally, if they were caught prostituting themselves, they were then stoned to death. I have no problem killing Taliban.

    However, if the non-Taliban portion of the Afghan population isn't willing or able to fight them on their own, it's not our job to save them, as it wasn't our job to save the South Vietnamese from the brutality of the NVA.

    The whole navy only exists for two reasons. Putting marines on the beach and the art/science of fire control.



    Both of which, I'm sure, are extremely satisfying to anyone in the Navy.

  • hmm||

    Anyone think Obama's presidency looks a lot like Hoover's so far.

  • ||

    People need to accept reality, that it doesn't matter if we pull out these assholes are going to find us. Check this out

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/pakistan/6226935/Pakistan-discovers-village-of-white-German-al-Qaeda-insurgents.html

    Fine, pull out of Aghanistan. But, do that knowing that 1) it will be a huge propeganda coupe for our enemies and they will use it to recruit and to boost moral (the beat us in Afghanistan why can't the beat us everywhere?) and 2) leaving Afghanistan will not end the war with radical Islam we will just end up fighting it somewhere else.

    You people need to face reality, there are a lot of people in the world who hate our guts and want to kill us they are not going to quit anytime soon. No amount of liberal self loathing and questioning why they hate us so much is going to change that.

  • ||

    Because you don't appreciate their metacontextual significance. Logorrhea and "spam" are in fact high entropy semiotic analogues to the discarded thoughts, he scrapheap of the noosphere, as it were.

    Sadly, this sort of pseudointellectual bullshit is really easy for me.


    You have a great future in politics, my friend.

  • Plant Immigration Rights Suppo||

    "However, if the non-Taliban portion of the Afghan population isn't willing or able to fight them on their own, it's not our job to save them, as it wasn't our job to save the South Vietnamese from the brutality of the NVA."

    The NVA did not shelter terrorists who attacked the United States. Did they? But the Talliban did.

  • ||

    BP, about a year ago, the U.S. Navy blew up a satellite in low earth orbit using Aegis and a modified SM III missile. It was the first time I felt "Damn! I wish I was still in so I could have been a part of that".

  • ||

    The C-in-C should go to the military and say "I want to do X". The military should then say "we will need X number of men, Y number of tanks, etc. etc." to get that done. We expect X casualties."

    The military should also be prepared to ask, "Why? What do you expect to gain by this?"

  • ||

    The military should also be prepared to ask, "Why? What do you expect to gain by this?"

    No. The only question the military needs to ask (themselves) is "Is this a legal order?"

  • ||

    This crappy effort starts out a relatively reasoned argument about the wisdom of withdrawing from Afghanistan in 2009 or 2010, and becomes a caterwaul against neocons. Waste of time.

  • کارخانه مهاجرت حامی حقوق بشر||

    "No. The only question the military needs to ask (themselves) is "Is this a legal order?""

    بنابراین اخلاق و کار عملی بودن را به تصویر را برای شما وارد کنید؟

  • jester||

    John, for all the effort we expend on Afghanistan we could monitor every plane that leaves the country and monitor every fuck that leaves that plane on a mano a mano level.

    I think that would be cheaper than our present plan. What do you think?

  • jester||

    به تصویر را برای

    Fuck off! No I don't think sex with camels is cool.

  • ||

    JsubD-

    I meant that "Why?" more in the practical, operational, sense than in the political sense.
    There isn't much point in having a career professional military officer corps if you ignore their expertise for political considerations.

    Is there a clearly defined goal in Afghanistan?

  • ||

    Is there a clearly defined goal in Afghanistan?

    No.

  • Suki||

    Just a little corner called Guantanomo Bay.

    Oh yea, the libertarian position is against government owned resorts. On that level I can agree with you.

  • Suki||

    The NVA did not shelter terrorists who attacked the United States. Did they? But the Talliban did.

    They provided haven for American Communists to meet with their Soviet handlers. The same ones who were blowing stuff up in the Pentagon, burning down ROTC buildings and that stuff.

  • Suki||

    Is there a clearly defined goal in Afghanistan?

    There used to be, but then we had an election in the USA and now it is just a tool to ping-pong around for support from opposite sides of the issue.

  • Plant Immigration Rights Suppo||

    "They provided haven for American Communists to meet with their Soviet handlers. The same ones who were blowing stuff up in the Pentagon, burning down ROTC buildings and that stuff."

    Like Chairman Obama's friends?

  • Suki||

    Like Chairman Obama's friends?

    Pretty much. I think Ramparts magazine was one that gave a bunch of them press credentials to go to Hanoi to meet with the Russians.

  • Plant Immigration Rights Suppo||

    "Oh yea, the libertarian position is against government owned resorts. On that level I can agree with you."

    I was, at first, very skeptical of the claims of harsh treatment. Very skeptical. I simply could not believe that Americans in the 21st Century would do such things. But the more I looked into it the more clear it was that actual torture was occurring. There is a military training organization known as SERE. Part of the training was resisting torture. Unfortunately the program was reverse engineered so that people were taught how to INFLICT torture. Sorry but I must respectfully disagree with you here.

  • Suki||

    PIRS,

    I think we disagree on what torture is.

  • Suki||

    Someone just pointed out to me that with all the new terrorist arrests the MSM is not crying that Obama is just trying to scare people and look tough. I noticed that Reason decided to take up their slack.

  • Plant Immigration Rights Suppo||

    Suki,

    How do you define turture?

  • Plant Immigration Rights Suppo||

    Spelling error - torture

  • Suki||

    PIRS,

    Letting of blood, permanent damage, pieces coming off, etc., all of that is torture.

    Showing someone a bug is certainly not in my range of torture.

    There is a good demonstration of "walling" in the 'blog, as demonstrated by Nina Hartley. NSFW.

  • Plant Immigration Rights Suppo||

    Physical harm is not necessarily the worst part of torture. Physical wounds after all, can be healed over time. It is the psychological harm that is more lasting. The human brain is the most powerful, most important and most sensitive of human organs.

    http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn11313-psychological-torture-as-bad-as-physical-torture.html

  • Suki||

    PIRS,

    Yea, yea, take the crybaby side. It's a free country you know.

  • Plant Immigration Rights Suppo||

    "Yea, yea, take the crybaby side."

    Are you going to deny that psychological torture can exist? Do you know why some people have phobias in the first place? Do you know why brainwashing can exist? Do you know why some people never engage in a fullfilling relationship? Psychology is a powerfull thing.

    "It's a free country you know."

    I am not so sure. Not if Congress can bully Humanna into not speaking out against Obamacare.

  • Suki||

    You convinced me. Let's offer these new terrorists some green tea or a nice hot latte for their interrogation and see what they know.

  • Plant Immigration Rights Suppo||

    "You convinced me. Let's offer these new terrorists some green tea or a nice hot latte for their interrogation and see what they know."

    Actually, early on a great deal of information was gathered by offering them McDonald's Happy Meals in exchange for information.

  • Suki||

    Actually, early on a great deal of information was gathered by offering them McDonald's Happy Meals in exchange for information.

    Under Bloomberg in NYC that is torture. Why aren't you condemning it?

  • Rich||

    Showing someone a bug is certainly not in my range of torture.

    Confess!

  • Suki||

    Are you going to deny that psychological torture can exist? Do you know why some people have phobias in the first place? Do you know why brainwashing can exist? Do you know why some people never engage in a fullfilling relationship? Psychology is a powerfull thing.

    Shouldn't you be getting ready for karaoke or to perform in a drag show?*

    *I did not invent that, I am totally ripping someone off.

  • Suki||

    Rich! Don't you dare pass that to my beloved boyfriend! He already controls me enough ;)

  • Plant Immigration Rights Suppo||

    "Under Bloomberg in NYC that is torture. Why aren't you condemning it?"

    Bloomberg is the one torturing innocent New Yorkers and I DO condemn that.

  • Plant Immigration Rights Suppo||

    "Shouldn't you be getting ready for karaoke or to perform in a drag show?"

    No Friday night is over and the drag show already ended.

  • ||

    Apparently the "heat of a primary race" is where one is supposed to lie about what they'll do in office?

  • The Appalachianist||

    You mean there is a such thing as a "libertarian democrat"? I personally find that hard to believe.

  • Rich||

    @ Suki

    Don't you dare pass that to my beloved boyfriend!

    Wellll, ..... OK.

  • Suki||

    Rich,

    t/y

  • </||

    You mean there is a such thing as a "libertarian democrat"? I personally find that hard to believe.

    There are a lot more unicorns than "libertarian democrats".

  • ||

    But if we could create an environment where people could live in freedom that would be - long term - to our advantage.

    Right, and if my aunt had balls she'd be my uncle.

    and 2) leaving Afghanistan will not end the war with radical Islam we will just end up fighting it somewhere else.

    And staying in Afghanistan is going to contain that same "war"? I had the silly idea that radical Islam was not national in character.

    A military/political realist once proclaimed that all of the Balkans weren't worth a single Pomeranian soldier. How is that we don't have the same insight into Afghanistan?

  • ||

    ""No. The only question the military needs to ask (themselves) is "Is this a legal order?"""

    The military should learn to say nation building and international cop isn't our job.

  • Michael Ejercito||

    Get the fuck out of Afghanistan. Fuck hubris. Fuck 'who was right'. Fuck George Bush. Fuck Obama. Fuck you. Fuck Lonewacko.


    And then what? Have you forgotten why Afghanistan was invaded in the first place?

  • Michael Ejercito||

    A military/political realist once proclaimed that all of the Balkans weren't worth a single Pomeranian soldier. How is that we don't have the same insight into Afghanistan?


    Who in the Balkans sheltered Al Qaeda?

  • TallDave||

    So, we won the bad war, therefore the good war is now the new bad war.

    Amusingly, no one was asking in 2005 what our Afghan exit strategy looked like, even as critics insisted we had no way out in Iraq. Meaawhile, we successfully trained an Iraqi military to the point they handle security there with very litle help. Everyone has always known this was going to be impossible in Afghanistan, which can't sustain a strong central government. but no one talked much about it.

    Ironically, because AQ got suckered into a losing battle in Iraq, our casualties in Afghanistan were so low no one bothered to ask the long-term questions which are now arising since they've mostly given up in Mesopotamia.

    Meanwhile, our drug policies not only create a huge incentive to be on the other side, they guarantee a huge revenue stream to our enemies.

    We will never win in Afghanistan as long as Prohibition stands.

  • Suki||

    The military should learn to say nation building and international cop isn't our job.

    The USA military is under civilian management. What country are you complaining about?

  • ||

    "White supremacy still rules in the hals of the West."

    Who'd a thunk Al Sharpton would be trolling Reason?

  • jester||

    Have you forgotten why Afghanistan was invaded in the first place?

    Not at all. If it was to take out the Taliban, I disagreed but it was done. It has morphed into nation-building. Surprise-surprise.

    motives are bullshit, because they morph into bullshit.

  • Suki||

    Have you forgotten why Afghanistan was invaded in the first place?

    Because GWB had the USA attacked on 9/11/01 so that he could leave an embarrassing quagmire for the second black president eight years later? I think there may be a Rove connection too, but I never followed that one well.

  • ||

    Tall Dave is exactly right. Liberals never engaged in an honest debate about Afghanistan. They were too busy screaming about Iraq and lying about supporting the Afghanistan war to do that. Fuck Obama. It will serve him right if he ends up being Johnsonized over Afghanistan. He should have thought about that when he was lying about Iraq.

  • ||

    Interesting but not surprising that Reason hasn't posted one thing about the newly discovered Iranian uranium plant. I recall Reason pushing the hell out of the 2007 Inteligence Assessment that said Iran stopped trying to make a bomb in 2003. Now that that has been proven to be a complete lie, we get crickets on Hit and Run.

  • ||

    Have you forgotten why Afghanistan was invaded in the first place?

    Not at all. If it was to take out the Taliban, I disagreed but it was done. It has morphed into nation-building. Surprise-surprise.

    motives are bullshit, because they morph into bullshit.


    1 - The US and its allies were fully justified in going to war in Afghanistan to take out the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. This is because the Taliban regime (which, incidentally, happened to be a theocratic totalitarian regime and therefore illegitimate by any rational standard of legitimacy) harbored the Al-Qaeda terrorist hub for years thereby enabling them to plan violent acts of aggression against the US. The most notable of these were of course the September 11 attacks (after which the Taliban still insisted on harboring the Al-Qaeda terrorists), but there were also earlier attacks including the 1998 embassy bombings in Africa.

    2 - A natural extension of taking out the Taliban is making sure they don't regain power. This only involves "nation-building" to a very limited extent - such as building up the Afghan National Army so they can take on a larger long term role in the fight against the Taliban. Also it is useful to win over the hearts and minds of the Afghan public which is sometimes accomplished by constructing infrastructure or other anti-poverty initiatives (this is also why TallDave's point about drug prohibition fucking things up for us in Afghanistan is exactly right). But for the most part the US and NATO have let Afghans take the lead in building their own country.

    The US should not let the Taliban regain power. How they should prevent this (more troops, building up the Afghan military more, increased humanitarian aid, negotiating with former Taliban factions who defect and want to reintegrate into Afghan society, etc.) is an open question. But a Taliban comeback must be prevented somehow. The message should be "If you harbor Al-Qaeda or similar terrorist groups, you lose power and you don't get it back - ever". The US should also reward those anti-Taliban Afghans who have been our allies this whole time by - at a minimum - not abandoning them to the Taliban barbarians.

    To abandon anti-Taliban Afghans would be, as John mentions, a propaganda victory for jihadists and Muslim extremists. It would also send a message to potential allies in future counterterrorism campaigns that the US might abandon them when it becomes politically convenient to do so. This is exactly the wrong incentive system to establish.

  • ||

    I would not pull out of Afghanistan completely.

    But I would pull a lot of the conventional forces out, and leave a lot more Special Forces that work with the local. Even resuscitate the program that Ruthless used to be in.

    I would not worry about propping up centralized rule from Kabul, but instead support more decentralized regional authority.

    Most importantly I would steer clear of the drug war. Anything that makes that war unwinnable it is the drug war.

  • ||

    A military/political realist once proclaimed that all of the Balkans weren't worth a single Pomeranian soldier.

    They make those little dogs into soldiers?

    I guess they would be way to valuable to waste in the Balkans.

  • ||

    Micheal's piece is below retarded. We are not going to end any horrors in Afghanistan. Our choices are stark, we can either stay there and subject the Afghans to the horror of war and prevent them from being subject to the Taliban. Or we can leave and leave them to the living hell that is living under the Taliban.

    When are the peaceniks are reason going to get it through their thick heads that the enemy gets a vote and the US is not responsible for every horror on earth.


    You're right about the last bit -- "the US is not responsible for every horror on earth." Not the problems in the Middle East, not the problems in Africa, not anywhere but here in the US. Since we're NOT responsible for what goes on there in Afghanistan, why the fuck should we sacrifice hundreds of billions of dollars and thousands of Americans killed or wounded for those strangers?

    It should not be any of our business what any of the many, many awful repressive governments on earth do, so long as they leave us alone.

  • JohnMc||

    "An army is a poor tool to achieve cultural change."

    Send in ACORN!!

  • JohnMc||

    You're right about the last bit -- "the US is not responsible for every horror on earth." Not the problems in the Middle East, not the problems in Africa, not anywhere but here in the US. Since we're NOT responsible for what goes on there in Afghanistan, why the fuck should we sacrifice hundreds of billions of dollars and thousands of Americans killed or wounded for those strangers?

    Because Sir, the US Military learned during the Civil War conflict that War is best played as an away game. There is no Home Team advantage fighting a war on your own soil. But I guess that does not register with your minuscule geo-strategic thinking.

  • ||

    Apparently the "heat of a primary race" is where one is supposed to lie about what they'll do in office?

    Professional politicians at the national level do not confine lying to just primaries. They will, as Obama has amply proven, lie about what they'll do in office even when they are IN office.

    You mean there is a such thing as a "libertarian democrat"? I personally find that hard to believe.

    It is a euphemism for "less authoritarian democrat", and sound bites MUCH better.

  • ||

    Because Sir, the US Military learned during the Civil War conflict that War is best played as an away game. There is no Home Team advantage fighting a war on your own soil. But I guess that does not register with your minuscule geo-strategic thinking.

    Not fighting every tinpot dictator and authoritarian around the world =/= fighting a war on your own soil.

    A strong, well-trained US military based on US soil, with a proven track record of retaliating against anyone who fucks with us, tends to discourage domestic attacks.

    But, hey, nice attempt at strawmanning. I'll give it a 6.

  • JohnMc||

    A strong, well-trained US military based on US soil, with a proven track record of retaliating against anyone who fucks with us, tends to discourage domestic attacks.

    I could respond that this tripe two ways.

    A) 9/11 tends to prove you wrong on that score. Or,
    B) Having been attacked we did respond by attacking the Taliban. So which is it? The current state of affairs, and your 'solution' do not fit your proposed prescription.

    As to strawmanning, go read a history book.

    And since we are keeping score I see the line ref rates you a 2.

  • ||

    JohnMC,

    What is the strategy to win over there? How do you figure if this is being accomplished or not?

    I mean I agree, we need to win. Now, lets define "winning" over there.

  • JohnMc||

    To win in Afganistan requires we win in Pakistan. If we don't then the Taliban will continue to have logistical support cross border.

    Hillary said she was ready for the 3am phone call. I hear it ringing.

  • ||

    A) 9/11 tends to prove you wrong on that score. Or,
    B) Having been attacked we did respond by attacking the Taliban.


    Let's see, the 9/11 perps were mostly Saudis, and the ONE Islamic country we have most conspicuously avoided in retaliation for 9/11 is???

  • Michael Ejercito||

    Let's see, the 9/11 perps were mostly Saudis, and the ONE Islamic country we have most conspicuously avoided in retaliation for 9/11 is???


    The Taliban was sheltering Al Qaeda.

    The House of Saud was not sheltering Al Qaeda.

  • johnmc||

    Let's see, the 9/11 perps were mostly Saudis, and the ONE Islamic country we have most conspicuously avoided in retaliation for 9/11 is???

    Those Saudis trained where? I'll give you a hint, it was not in Saudi Arabia.

  • ||

    To win in Afganistan requires we win in Pakistan.

    Win what in Pakistan?

  • ||

    A big stuffed Snoopy dog?

  • ||

    ""Those Saudis trained where? I'll give you a hint, it was not in Saudi Arabia."""

    Much of their training was here in the US.

  • abercrombie milano||

    A big stuffed Snoopy dog?

  • ||

    Wake up people, i know it isn't the 70's but can't you see how history repeats itself, we are smothered by political spin and apathy. There is know good damn reason to be fighting a war over seas for a country we care nothing about really. While our own people are losing out here in our own country. They are keeping the big corporations and banks in power to keep us under there grip and keep us under control through debt and man made laws according to their whim. They stole from the Native American Indians and now they are stealing from us. It is time to be heard.

  • nike shox||

    is good

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Progressive Puritans: From e-cigs to sex classifieds, the once transgressive left wants to criminalize fun.
  • Port Authoritarians: Chris Christie’s Bridgegate scandal
  • The Menace of Secret Government: Obama’s proposed intelligence reforms don’t safeguard civil liberties

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement