P.R. Troubles for the Afghanistan War

The Washington Post reports today on a congressional subcommittee document that says, as the Post sums up:

The U.S. military is funding a massive protection racket in Afghanistan, indirectly paying tens of millions of dollars to warlords, corrupt public officials and the Taliban to ensure safe passage of its supply convoys throughout the country, according to congressional investigators.

The security arrangements, part of a $2.16 billion transport contract, violate laws on the use of private contractors, as well as Defense Department regulations, and "dramatically undermine" larger U.S. objectives of curtailing corruption and strengthening effective governance in Afghanistan....

The report comes as the number of U.S. casualties is rising in the Afghan war, and public and congressional support is declining. The administration has been on the defensive in recent weeks, insisting that the slow progress of anti-Taliban offensives in Helmand province and the city of Kandahar does not mean that more time is needed to assess whether President Obama's strategy is working.

Can't we all just agree that the strategy is not only working, but that it has already worked well enough for any realistic affordable national interest (government that coddled Al Qaeda gone, elections that we approve of occurring, vital local industries thriving), and go home?

See the full report the Post was writing about, "Warlord, Inc." from the Majority Staff of the House Subcommittee on National Security and Public Affairs.

Also, portending further Afghanistan war P.R. troubles down the road, Wikileaks announces that it intends to release documents and footage of a battle airstrike incident in the village of Garani that killed over 100 civilians last May.

Jesse Walker wrote about the value of Wikileaks at Reason Online last week. I blogged about the backward-slipping deadline for the U.S. to get out of Afghanistan yesterday.

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  • Legitimate General||

    We refer to this as The Cosrt of Doing War.

  • ||

    The U.S. military is funding a massive protection racket in Afghanistan, indirectly paying tens of millions of dollars to warlords, corrupt public officials and the Taliban to ensure safe passage of its supply convoys throughout the country, according to congressional investigators.

    Who says we havent been successful at establishing a western democracy style of governance?

  • ||

    I vote we just stash a nuke under Kabul, and tell the Afghans if we ever have any trouble from them again, we're just going to reboot the place.

  • Public Servant||

    "...reboot reformat the place."

    Not as catchy, but maybe more accurate.

  • ||

    Can't we just run some anti-terrorist software?

  • ||

    New Tali-Ban from Symantec

  • The Art-P.O.G.||

    Team Win.

  • KenK||

    When you're wounded and left on Afghanistan's plains,
    And the women come out to cut up what remains,
    Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains
    An' go to your Gawd like a soldier.

    ***

    Just leave, but let them know that we have stealth bombers that can get there in no time at all.

  • ||

    In a report released Monday, the United Nations detailed the results of a study to determine the prevalence of drug use and found a jump in the use of every type of drug, with heroin use rising the most sharply, making Afghanistan one of five countries with the highest percentage of drug users.

    “Many Afghans seem to be taking drugs as a kind of self-medication against the hardships of life,” said Antonio Maria Costa, the executive director of the United Nations office on Drugs and Crime.

    NYT

    We're America, and we're here to help.

  • AJs||

    Because every countries problems can be solved with 18-25 year old US men with big guns, tanks predator drones blowing stuff up. I mean, that's how we bring peace, right?

  • TONY||

    Nearly 10 years into this bloody debacle and the spin-merchants are still talking as if they landed last week. Troops out now.

  • ||

    "The U.S. military is funding a massive protection racket in Afghanistan, indirectly paying tens of millions of dollars to warlords, corrupt public officials and the Taliban..."

    That sounds a lot like material support of a terrorist organization.

  • kinnath||

    +1

  • ||

    + another one.

  • ||

    But it's ok if the government does it.

  • kinnath||

    Scientists Confirm that Chimps, Like Humans, Go to War
    By Michael D. Lemonick Tuesday, Jun. 22, 2010

    It's obvious that humans are fundamentally different from every other animal species. It's not so easy, though, to identify the specific traits that make Homo sapiens so special. Scientists realized long ago that other animals make tools, play jokes and even have a sense of justice and altruism — all things we once thought were unique to our species.

    Now a paper in the journal Current Biology has added another behavior to the list of what other animals share with us — and this one isn't quite so charming. After years of field observations in Uganda's Kibale National Park, John Mitani of the University of Michigan and several colleagues have concluded that chimps wage war to conquer new territory.
    (See pictures of animal attacks on humans.)

    "We already knew that chimps kill each other," says Mitani. "We've known this for a long time." What scientists didn't know for sure, at least in cases in which groups of chimps banded together to kill others, was why. One hypothesis, advanced more than a decade ago by anthropologist Richard Wrangham, was the idea of territorial conquest; circumstantial evidence from both Gombe and Mahale National Parks in Tanzania bolstered the theory.

    In Mahale, for example, male members of one group mysteriously vanished, and another group then expanded into what had been their land — suggestive but not conclusive. In Gomba, an existing group dissolved into civil war, resulting in killing and land takeovers. But it's hard to say what the casus belli was and thus impossible to know if territorial combat was a key motivator.

    Mitani, for the first time, has gathered direct evidence of deliberate warfare. From 1999 to 2008, he and his colleagues actually observed 18 chimp-on-chimp killings, 13 of which took place in the homeland of a single neighboring group. Then, says Mitani, "last year, all of a sudden, [the aggressors] made this big land grab," moving into the territory where the 13 victims had lived. "It isn't rocket science," he says. "We put two and two together and got four."

  • ||

    Interesting.

    One caveat: amongst your pre-technological humans, what passes for warfare is very rarely done for territorial conquest, and indeed has a very low casualty rate. These chimps seems to have skipped the whole ritualized warfare thing and gone right up to what Clausewitz would call real war.

  • ||

    Are you talking about modern day pre technological humans? If so, weren't they much more warlike when first contacted by the so-called outside world? The ritualization of war happening as a result of that contact?

  • ||

    Nope. As far as anyone can tell, pre-technological humans were big on ritualized, very-low-intensity warfare all along, for the most part. For one thing, its hard to inflict serious damage with sticks and stones, and the notion of coming to face-to-face handstrokes is almost entirely a post-techological occurrence.

    I'm just finishing up John Keegan's "History of Warfare" for the second time. Very interesting stuff.

  • Alejandro||

    The pointy end goes into the other man.

  • ||

    don't ask. don't tell.

  • Tony||

    Ask and ye shall receive.

  • Mark Twain||

    When we remember we are all mad, the mysteries disappear and life stands explained.

  • Taylor||

    Damn dirty apes!

  • ||

    """It isn't rocket science," he says. "We put two and two together and got four."""

    Ok, so 2+2=4, but what about the monkeys?

    Real war is about taking resources by force, usually land. It takes a human to screw that concept up.

  • ||

    Real war is about taking resources by force, usually land.

    Clausewitz talked about "real" war and "true" war. Not sure I could adequately explain the difference.

    War for territorial expansion is actually only one category of war, historically. Wars are fought over women (mostly your pre-techs), and, for lack of a better term, rights (Greek hoplite warfare, much medieval warfare).

  • ||

    Yeah, it's not rocket science at all. Lots of animals fight for lots of reasons (food and mating mostly), just because social, territorial animals have expanded it to be for societal and territorial reasons isn't a stretch at all. If they just watched Discovery Channel they would know this.

    We are animals. Only people who think we're made in God's image are shocked by the idea that we're not special. Even the belief in God is not unique to us. Every dog owner should recognize this. The only difference is a dog's god is real.

  • Atanarjuat||

    It's my understanding that a properly trained pet dog views his or her owner as the "alpha" of the pack, which seems a bit different than God-like worship. I agree that we ain't nothin but mammals, though.

  • qwerty||

    Insects to go to war all the time. Amazon ants will attack another group, kill the adults, and bring back the "kids" who will end of slaves of the invaders.

    I saw a TV show that showed a group of about 20 hornets attack a beehive, kill the bees and bring the meat back to their hive.

    Of course, there were probably a few bees that asked, "What did we do to make the hornets hate us?"

  • ||

    After years of field observations in Uganda's Kibale National Park, John Mitani of the University of Michigan and several colleagues have concluded that chimps wage war to conquer new territory.

    We still own revenge killing, though, don't we?

  • kinnath||

    Honor killing for sure.

  • Rich||

    And drive-bys.

  • J sub D||

    The Pan genus generally just does swing-bys.

  • ||

    IMHO, Homo is just a sub-genus of Pan

  • AJs||

    Actually I have been at the zoo when a gorilla did a drive-by toss of feces. The dude had an arm.

  • ||

    Huh, perhaps that's where politicians learned to fling crap so well.

  • ||

    From the movie "Bananas"
    Woody Allen (as a paratrooper) I forget, are we fighting for the government or against the government?
    Grizzled old Sarge: As everybody we fight for loses, we decided that half of us will be fighting for the government, and half will be fighting against the government.

  • ||

    Perhaps all this brew ha ha about the General's comments is an attempt to keep the talking points away from this.

  • Les||

    Well, as long as the civilians being killed aren't American, why can't we just stay forever?

  • IceTrey||

    Haven't you heard? Afghanistan has 3 trillion in mineral wealth. Can't let the Chinks get their hands on it.

  • ||

    Whether the Chinese get it first hand our as payment for our debt, they're gonna end up with it.

  • ||

    OR as payment or would it be ORE as payment. engrish hald!

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