Foreign Policy

Vox Populi, Vox De-What?, or the Powerful Allure of "If We're In It, We're In It to Win It"

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Survey says: most of us (55 percent) "oppose" the U.S. war in Afghanistan. Of that same group of us polled by CNN, 59 percent "favor" Obama's plan to send 30,000 more troops "in an attempt to stabilize the situation there." A sign of the grim political inertia of ongoing war: once it starts, even a lot of the people against it are simultaneously for it.

NEXT: Dirty Old Men and Judicial Deviation

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  1. “Win it or don’t get in it, assholes.”

    1. But doing what it takes to win would offend our modern Western sensibilities (not to mention the fact that the cost almost certainly exceeds the benefit).

      Not getting into it in the first place would have put us at risk for 9/11 Part 2.

      Just going over there, smacking the shit out of them and then getting back out of town, would a) have made too much sense, and b) would also have offended our modern Western sensibilities.

      Too bad the Afghans don’t play by the rules of modern Western sensibilities.

      Afghanistan has proven one thing: that defeating the West may take a while, but it’s not so hard to do. Because the West is all wrapped up in its sensibilities.

      1. Yeah, we need to get over this notion of democratizing Third World barbarians. Ain’t gonna happen.

        Having said that, we did need to fuck the Taliban’s shit up to prevent…9/11 x 1,000!

        1. Yeah, we need to get over this notion of democratizing Third World barbarians.

          I subsumed that under “modern Western sensibilities”.

          I’m afraid that today, you would destroy Western civilization before you changed its sensibilities.

  2. No…what is happening is that Democrat wars are more popular then Republican wars simply because the the left only oppose wars when conservatives run them.

    Anyone here surprised that Joe stopped posting here right when Obama took over as commander and chief.

    1. Not surprised, but certainly relieved. He would probably still be here spinning like a dust devil if it weren’t for the search function.

    2. Not to worry, we still have Tony and shrike to cover for him.

    3. No…what is happening is that Democrat wars are more popular then Republican wars simply because the the left only oppose wars when conservatives run them.

      Yeah. Vietnam had so much support among the left when Johnson was in charge. The difference today is that there is no draft, the upper and middle classes can completely avoid any personal inconveniences (like dying or being crippled) so they don’t see the need to waste a whole weekend to protest ignorant foreign adventures.

      The all volunteer force has had many positive benefits (military readiness and professionalism being foremost) but shielding the general citizen from the ugly consequences of military intervention is not one of them.

      1. Considering that recruitment is up over the past year, I’d say the classes that do pay the human price for war don’t have a problem with it either. Obviously they prefer eating bugs and risking getting blown to bits to whatever other job opportunities they had, so it’s not just a war, it’s a jobs stimulus.

  3. Suppose those 30,000 troops were instrumental in winning the war. I’m not saying they will be. But suppose, for the sake of argument, that they are. In this case, wouldn’t it make sense for someone that is against the war to support deploying the surge troops precisely to bring the war to a close? As everyone here knows damn well, whether you want to admit it or not, in the current political climate we’re not leaving until we win or we get our asses handed to us in a big way, and the former is highly unlikely. If Obama isn’t pulling us out, ain’t nobody pulling us out. If anything, this tells me that the people against the war think that the additional troops will help win the war and bring the troops home. Whether or not this is actually correct is, again, irrelevant. In this way, one could be for the surge and against the war simultaneously without being logically inconsistent. I know there’s a game theory example here somewhere.

    Or we can just talk about how stupid and statist the voters are without giving any type of thought to why a rational person would simultaneously choose both options.

    1. That whole argument presupposes that “winning the war” has already been defined. Nobody for the war, or for additional troops even if they’re against the war has ever defined success in Afghanistan.

      If you’re against the war and in favor of additional troops for the war, you are, by definition, an idiot.

      1. Today, no Western nation can define “success” in war against a non-Western nation.

        It goes back to the end of WWII, when the US went around and helped all our enemies put themselves back together. That’s been our unofficial Standard End of War ever since. But it’s impossible to do when you’re dealing with third world hell holes.

  4. I was against it before I was for it.

    1. But you always were and always will be a douche bag.

  5. But doing what it takes to win would offend our modern Western sensibilities

    Still waiting for a definition of “win”.

    1. Definition of win: Afghanistan is left in a condition where more 9/11’s can’t happen.

      If you went into Afghanistan, and the whole mountain region between it and Pakistan, and spent 10 years shooting anything that fucking moves, you might get there.

      But as I said above, a) the West won’t do that today and b) the cost would almost certainly exceed the benefit.

      Probably the only rational option we’ve got, is to go back in periodically and knock the crap out of them (then get back out), again and again until (hopefully) they get tired of it.

      Or do you have a better idea on how we should have fixed this particularly little turd bowl of a problem? Because I haven’t heard a really good answer yet from any direction.

      1. “”Ebeneezer Scrooge|12.24.09 @ 12:30PM|#

        Definition of win: Afghanistan is left in a condition where more 9/11’s can’t happen.””

        Why is (doing something to?) Afghanistan (as opposed to Somalia, Chechnya, Pakistan, etc) necessary and sufficient for no more “9/11″s?

        It seems idiotic to assume that some sort of better outcome in Afghanistan (e.g. generally less shithole-y) means that we have precluded AlQ or others from ever trying to attack us on our own soil again.

        Why would anyone assume that this area is in any way needed by AL Q for international operations? Because it was used *once* for such a thing?

        The idea was to kill or capture bin laden, and deny them this area…out of many.

        Results? Fail: Fail.

        If you accept this, then people will start to grope around going, “well, they havent attacked us for the last 8 years so…(insert some version of “we must be doing something right”)

        Its a canard. If anything, the next attack will come from Pakistan, and there is nothing we can do about it, other than continue the dance of insanity we’ve been doing with the Pakistanis since 1980.

        1. Why is (doing something to?) Afghanistan (as opposed to Somalia, Chechnya, Pakistan, etc) necessary and sufficient for no more “9/11″s?

          I never said it was sufficient.

          Re-read my post and then try again. You’re putting too many words in my mouth for me.

          1. My comment was on your initial “definition of Win”

            I dont think that definition makes any sense. Anything else that follows is moot.

            1. Glad to see you have so many positive contributions to make. You’ve really spelled out a much better idea here. It’s people like you who help insure the ongoing irrelevance of libertarian thought.

              1. Scrooge: your moniker is timely.

                I was pointing out your posited definition of “win” (if meant in earnest) is/was dead on arrival. I dont see how that has one thing or another to do with “libertarian thought”

                If you were looking for a ‘better idea’, I would offer “kill or capture bin laden” – be that through covert operations in Waziristan, cooperative efforts with ISI (maybe…) and increased focus on other areas where AlQ may find fellow travelers, a la Yemen, Somalia, etc.

                A larger or longer term presence in Afghanistan by itself does little while costing a lot.

                Hope this helps. Merry Xmas

        2. “They haven’t attacked us in eight years.”
          This reminds me of the joke: A woman goes out onto her porch and yells, “let there be no tigers in this house.” She goes back in and a man says, “what are you talking about, there aren’t any tigers anywhere near this area.” “See,” she says, “it works.”

  6. Nobody likes to lose. Not even when there is no prize or even substantial costs associated with winning.

    I’d chalk that up to American stupidity but it is a worldwide, cross cultural phenomenon.

    1. I don’t like to lose, though I have long since stopped identifying with the predatory class in Washington … in general, their loss is my gain. I have no interest in propping up the Karzai government or whatever the goal-du-jour is in the district of criminals.

  7. It is like the auction where everyone who bids has to pay, but only the highest bid gets the prize. It makes it rational to continue to bid even after the price of the bids are more than the prize is worth. At that point people are just trying to mitigate their losses. The only way to win is to not play.

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