Afghanistan

The Disaster That Is U.S. Foreign Policy

Thanks very much, ruling elite.

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Bowe Bergdahl

We live in angry times. For evidence, turn on any news program. An awful lot of people, led by right-wing politicians and radio and TV entertainers, are angry at President Obama for trading five Taliban officials, who have been held for years without charge in Guantánamo, for an American soldier, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who apparently walked away from his post after having a change of heart about the War in Afghanistan. The Right is apoplectic.

To make matters worse for the right wing, Obama had the nerve to embrace the soldier's parents—on the grounds of the White House no less—who themselves are under suspicion by the Right. Bergdahl's father, after all, wears an ominously bushy beard (is the Calvinist really a Muslim?), and spoke to his son in Pashto, the language of his son's captors. Worse yet, he was so desperate to rescue his son that he tweeted to a Taliban spokesman, "I am still working to free all Guantánamo prisoners. God will repay for the death of every Afghan child, ameen." (The tweet was later deleted.)

Before his disappearance, then-PFC Bergdahl emailed disparaging remarks about the U.S. military and America itself after he saw a U.S. Army truck run over an Afghan child.

These people need help, yet what they get is the most conceited country in the world telling them that they are nothing and that they are stupid, that they have no idea how to live.… We don't even care when we hear each other talk about running their children down in the dirt streets with our armored trucks.… We make fun of them in front of their faces, and laugh at them for not understanding we are insulting them.… I am sorry for everything. The horror that is america [sic] is disgusting.

In response to this email, his father wrote, "In matters of life and death, and especially at war, it is never safe to ignore ones' [sic] conscience. Ethics demands obedience to our conscience. It is best to also have a systematic oral defense of what our conscience demands. Stand with like minded men when possible."

For the right wing, the Bergdahl matter confirmed every fear they ever had about Obama. This is where apodictic certainty born of nationalism and interventionism inevitably leads. If you believe in American exceptionalism and indispensability, you'll believe anything.

Obama's defenders were on no firmer ground, defending actions for which they had condemned George W. Bush, such as issuing signing statements announcing that the president would ignore parts of bills he signed into law. Obama's boosters would never have tolerated Bush flouting a requirement that he give Congress 30 days notice of some action (which Obama was supposed to have done before releasing Guantánamo prisoners). As usual, in politics the important thing is not what is done, but who does it. Republicans live by this standard too, of course.

The president's fans defended his POW deal (which I have no problem with), on the grounds that the War in Afghanistan is winding down and this is what happens with prisoners when wars end. Winding down? There will be 9,800 troops through next year, and the last troops won't leave before 2016. Without irony, Sam Stein of the pro-Obama Huffington Post said on MSNBC that the "war will be over in a matter of years." That must be great comfort to the troops and their loved ones.

Those who back Obama still can't bring themselves to say that the War in Afghanistan was stupid and that Obama's 2009 surge—which accelerated the casualties—was stupidity squared.

My head says that I should sit back and watch with satisfaction this fight between conservatives and progressives. Both sides share the same flawed premises, so let them go at it until they fall down from exhaustion.

But my gut tells me that this fight will get even uglier than it already is, and its consequences bode ill for the future, because no one in the mainstream is willing to question the deepest premises of American foreign policy and its inevitable disastrous consequences. In the larger scheme, the Bergdahl exchange is a sideshow.

Mainstream U.S. foreign policy, whether the Wilsonian neoconservative "humanitarian" interventionism or its so-called realist variant, produced the conditions that made Americans the targets of terrorists. It then dictated the response—Bush's "War on Terror"—which made things even worse. If things don't change, we have strong reasons to fear for the future. Al-Qaeda and its offshoots are not on the run. They have gained ground, from Iraq westward to Syria and Lebanon, southward to Yemen, across northern Africa, and again southward to Mali and Nigeria, where Boko Haram conducts its reign of terror. And let's not forget Somalia's al-Shabaab in the Horn of Africa to the east.

Obama boasts that bin Laden is dead. But in practical terms, what does that mean? Not very much, writes Patrick Cockburn, who has reported from the Middle East for years:

Unsurprisingly, governments prefer the fantasy picture of al-Qa'ida because it enables them to claim a series of victories by killing its better-known members and allies. Often, those eliminated are given quasi-military ranks, such as "head of operations," to enhance the significance of their demise. The culmination of this most publicised but largely irrelevant aspect of the "war on terror" was the killing of Bin Laden in Abbottabad in Pakistan in 2011. This enabled President Obama to grandstand before the American public as the man who had presided over the hunting down of al-Qa'ida's leader. In practice, his death had no impact on al-Qa'ida-type jihadi groups, whose greatest expansion has been since 2011.

The resurgence of these jihadis is most striking on the ground in Iraq and Syria, but is evident in Afghanistan, Libya, Somalia and, in recent months, Lebanon and Egypt. In Iraq, it was a final humiliation for the US, after losing 4,500 soldiers, that al-Qa'ida's black flag should once again fly in Fallujah, captured with much self-congratulatory rhetoric by US Marines in 2004. Aside from Fallujah, Isis, the premier jihadi movement in the country, has rapidly expanded its influence in all parts of Sunni Iraq in the past three years.

America is not winning the War on Terror. It was unwinnable from the start, primarily because its origins and nature were viewed through a distorting nationalist and imperialist ideology and thus were badly misunderstood. As a result, the U.S. government has killed countless innocent Muslims, seen the lives of thousands of young Americans snuffed out or ruined, and squandered obscene sums of money.

And what's to show for it? A growing and spreading movement of extremists who want revenge against Americans. Thanks very much, ruling elite.

While reasonable people wouldn't call that success, bin Laden might have. Even in 2004, he pointed to "evidence of the success of the bleed-until-bankruptcy plan." That is, he had succeeded in drawing the United States deeper into the Muslim world, especially Afghanistan (the bane of earlier empires), because that was right where he wanted America. Iraq was icing on the cake, compliments of Bush, since it gave Arab jihadis a place to fight Americans and learn their trade, which they could later use in Libya and Syria—strangely, with American assistance.

Jeff Huber, a retired naval flight officer, realized this several years ago:

Dead or alive, Osama bin Laden is the greatest strategist in the history of human conflict. With no navy or air force or anything that resembles a formal army, he's managed to whip the world's mightiest nation like a rented camel. Our economy is shot, the best-trained, best-equipped military in history has been proven impotent, and our moral standing in the world has gone through the sub-basement.

Michael Scheuer, once head of the CIA's bin Laden unit, said much the same thing in 2004: "I think it is fair to conclude that the United States of America remains bin Laden's only indispensable ally." (He wrote that in his book Imperial Hubris: Why the West is Losing the War on Terror.)

The conventional wisdom is that terrorists struck on 9/11 (and earlier), while we were minding our own business. Since, according to this story, it was unprovoked aggression against our freedom and affluence, the only proper response (we were told), was overwhelming force to eradicate the terrorists. But since that response only aggravated the unacknowledged cause, the result has been the opposite of what was promised.

The conventional wisdom is wrong. "Bin Laden has been precise in telling America the reasons he is waging war on us," Scheuer wrote. "None of the reasons have anything to do with our freedom, liberty, and democracy, but have everything to do with U.S. policies and actions in the Muslim world." He was referring to U.S. support for corrupt oil-rich kings and dictators and the enabling of Israel's injustices against the Palestinians.

When you understand what Scheuer and others have been saying, you realize that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the drone murders and covert actions in so many other countries are self-defeating for the American people, though not for those who profit from war in terms of power and lucre.

The policymakers didn't go into Afghanistan to win—no one could have been that delusional so soon after the Soviet defeat. They went in to show the American empire's power and resolve, and to reestablish political and economic dominance in that part of the world. They failed on all counts.

Things will look no better in 2016, so they might as well leave now and save the lives that will otherwise be lost.

This article originally appeared at the Future of Freedom Foundation.

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  1. I climb down off my tractor earlier than usual this morning so I could come inside and sit down to a nice, pleasant Sunday morning reason article and I get this? A blame America first post? I’m going back to Parade Magazine.

    1. You know who else read Parade?…

      1. You know who else blamed America…and Fist of Etiquette?

      2. The Homosexual Left?

    2. I don’t know what kind of loopholes the industry-hating family farm fetishists on both sides have created for you but I pay taxes and America’s foreign policy is my wallet’s enemy right along side the bloated entitlement system.

      By your logic criticizing teachers unions and LEOs is also the same as blaming all Americans.

      1. What are you responding to?

        1. The first comment, posted by Fist of Etiquette.

        2. My tractor. Little does he know, I use my tractor not for farming but to drive around my estate yelling at groundskeepers.

          1. Then you’re a masochist who wants to pay more taxes with money that keeps losing its value.

            1. Joke’s on you. I transfer to the government my money, which is worth less every day, and get in return roads, which appreciate in value as time goes by.

          2. Pshhhh, you probably drive a Mahindra! Get on America and get on John Deere!

      2. You should assume that everything posted by FoE is sarcasm.

        1. Yeah. That’s totally all I do.

          1. Now you are just being fascist…or facetious.

            One of those.

  2. Go, Warriors!
    Go, Warriors!
    Rah, rah, ree!
    Kick ’em in the knee!
    Rah, rah, rass!
    Kick ’em in the other knee!

    Go, go, gonads!

  3. Dude doesnt have a single clue man. None.
    http://www.WentAnon.tk

    1. +1 anonbot wisdom

  4. Without irony, Sam Stein of the pro-Obama Huffington Post said on MSNBC that the “war will be over in a matter of years.” That must be great comfort to the troops and their loved ones.

    That’s the issue right there. Sam Stein’s son isn’t in the war. None of his colleagues or friends have kids in the war. Soldiers come from flyover country.

    1. Vir, saw your comment late last night about coffee. I agree it’s not coffee.

      But I disagree with Deignate that it’s not all that expensive. I’d say $3.85 for a cap is. I get a fantastic latte for $2.50 at an Italian bar. In the price of a Starbuck’s coffee, In any event, I like SB. Mind you, I only order cap or latte there. Not into fancy nonsense in my coffee.

      Espresso has four distinct ways to drink it: Corretto, macchiato, cappuccino, latte and of course straight.

      Sorry to hijack just wanted to add my converted 2 cents.

      1. I once drank a cup of coffee. It was gross.

        1. Thank you. That needed to be said. It’s a vile liquid.

            1. Is that a link to poo coffee?

              Ew.

              1. You’re thinking of Sumatran kopi luwak coffee. Where…. ‘civets’ shit the beans. (i think its a lemur/monkey/rodent thing)

                Jamaican Blue Mountain is just one of the few strains of ‘perfect’ beans.

                1. My wife brought some back from Bali last year but I have yet to open it up and grind the beans. I love my coffee but I’m reluctant to suck down a cup of brew that’s been through the intake/output process of a living creature.

                  Have you tried the kopi luwak?

                  1. “Have you tried the kopi luwak?”

                    Yes. I don’t know whether it was the ‘high grade’-ratshit stuff or not, but i didn’t like it that much. it was a free demo, and everyone pretended it was great. Thats what happens at ‘Conferences’.

                    Ive had a variety of the southeast asian versions of “kopi” (coffee), and none were to me anywhere near as good as either Blue Mountain or Kona beans, fresh ground, made w/ a french press.

      2. In my defense I always get tea at SB so I don’t know if the price of a regular black coffee is any more or less expensive then at other places.

        (It’s pretty safe to assume I’m talking out of my ass 8% of the time.)

        1. Don’t summon 8% man. We’re doing just fine on our own.

          I’m not much of a “regular” coffee drinker myself. So the suggestion Gilmore made I have no clue about.

    2. Speaking of apologists, I saw Eugene Robinson on national TV actually say there’s no evidence the released prisoners would go back to being terrorists which absolutely floored me.

      It takes a special kind of derpy and idiotic mind to proclaim that publicly. Anyone who believes this is a useful idiot of the supreme, naive kind and deserves to be ignored full stop.

      The problem is, I think this argument is being used by the government as well. Didn’t Kerry recently say something similar?

      Yes, because there’s such precedence of criminals providing ‘evidence’ that they’ll be good boys once releases. Do mobsters go to the local charity when they leave prison?

      Unbelievable.

      Unbelievable how deep someone will go to defend the stupid actions of a politician.

      1. released.

      2. It takes a special kind of derpy and idiotic mind…

        Which is exactly what you get with any Richman “article.”

        1. If I were a Richman,
          Yerpy derpy derpy derpy derpy derpy derpy duh.
          All day long I’d blubber blubber blah.
          If I were a wealthy man.
          I wouldn’t have to work hard.
          Ya ha derple derple, blubber blubber derple derple duh.
          If I were a derpy derpy rich,
          Idle-diddle-derple-derple man.

          1. You’re a real Zero.

            1. Hey pal, don’t get mostel with me.

          2. Sweet!

            I think this is a gift that will keep on giving.

      3. People are kidnapped never to be seen again just because they have the same skin color as the 9/11 hijackers. Most Gitmo inmates have never done a thing.

        1. Cite?

          1. Why else are there so many innocents in Gitmo?

      4. Well, to play arsehole here.

        How many ‘terrorists’ that we’ve picked up and later released from Gitmo have actually returned to terrorism?

        Given the incredibly small sample, I don’t think we can reliably make a determination either way.

        1. The number is about 1/3 officially from what I’ve heard on the news. Many people think the number is higher (again from the news).

          1. For the record this is from memory, and I could be wrong but it has been mentioned on the news.

        2. Kind of an “experientia stultorum magister” moment.

          It seems extremely unlikely that terrorists are going to give up their terrorist ways as a result of being imprisoned.

        3. Agammamon, sure the ones who were wrongfully arrested perhaps but have you read the bios of the dudes Obama released? That Farzi guy (sp?) is one crazy mofo.

      5. Eugene Robinson also claims that he was with the Congressional Black Caucus when they went by the tea party rally, and swears that they were spit and and called “niggers.” You know, the claim that Breitbart offered $100,000 to anyone who could substantiate, and no one ever did, despite all the press, tv news, radio all being there, and countless cell phones in the vicinity? Yet he continues to refer to it as fact.

        Robinson will lie and make believe to get people on his side and demonize his opponents. It’s stunning that he hasn’t been called out on it and actually gets to be on national TV. If he was politically on the Right he would have long ago been out of a job.

        1. Yes, I remember that. Also racist phone calls that were never produce if memory serves right. Stunning he still has a job and considered a ‘journalist.’

    3. Years=decades=centuries=Gates of Hell

  5. Richman is a terrible writer.

    I say that as though this piece were actually ‘written’, which is probably undeserved, since its mainly a string of quotes from other people’s writing, barely held together by Richman’s tut-tutting about how “always-wrong intervene-y-ness” results in inevitable DOOM; a criticism so broad, bland, and lacking in specific argument that it verges on the metaphysical. It endlessly begs = what, exactly, is the assumed ideal alternative that ‘should have been’?

    So Al Qaeda attacked the US because of US Policy? is this supposed to be shocking news?

    Is the suggestion therefore that the ‘right thing to do in the face of a country attacking and murdering 1000s of civilians’, is to ‘submit to their policy demands forthwith’?

    Its unclear what his revelation is supposed to imply.

    He bizarrely goes from asserting that America was receiving comeuppance on 9/11, to then pointing out how any and all response has been misguided and ineffective, without ever once noting the ‘obvious alternative’ on the table.

    There is never any articulation of exactly how an alternative ‘non’-interventionism theory is supposed to work in context. All we ever hear is about how the the various endless flavors of ‘interventionism’ have costs he finds excessive. That his theorized ‘non-intervention’ might itself have associated costs as well is never discussed.

    1. his theorized ‘non-intervention’ might itself have associated costs as well is never discussed

      Reminds me of leftists who claim that private healthcare is more expensive than government healthcare.

      Your favorite president wouldn’t happen to be Woodrow Wilson would it?

      You are not a fiscal conservative.

      Non-interventionism = fiscal conservatism

      1. You could have just called me ‘poopyhead’ and been just as authoritative about it.

        1. Shithead sounds better.

          1. How is the view from the high-road?

      2. Retarded comparison, ad hom, ad hom, retarded comparison.

    2. Its unclear what his revelation is supposed to imply.

      No it’s not. When you meddle in the affairs of other countries, they tend to get pissed off. So stop meddling.

      1. When you can strictly define what meddling entails, you might be able to actually articulate a policy.

        1. When you can strictly define what meddling entails, you might be able to actually articulate a policy.

          Telling them what to do.

          Engage in mutually voluntary trade between private organizations and leave it at that. This isn’t that hard. Other nations, not interested in ruling the world, do it all the time.

          1. “”Telling them what to do.””

            Sure.

            Were we telling the Saudis ‘what to do’ when they asked us to keep troops in their country post Gulf I? (assuredly as regime protection/insurance against Saddam)

            It was a bad policy from our POV, and I thought so at the time. I was in the minority who thought the Khobar towers incident was a sign we shouldn’t be based there.

            But it was willing/voluntary on the part of both parties. Calling it ‘meddling’? just implies being involved is ‘meddling’.

            1. Yes. Providing military protection to another nation IS meddling/intervention/the opposite of neutrality.

              What’s wrong with:

              We are butting out of everyone else’s affairs.
              We will trade freely.
              We have a state of the art military, which we will use only in self defense…suggest you do the same.

              This ain’t rocket surgery. It’s how we’d like to be treated. Not very religious, but that whole golden rule thing, combined with Teddy’s (also not a fan) speak softly and carry a big stick is some pretty fucking good advice. Yes, you will have to pony up when others start shit, and some will claim they can prevent that shit from happening. They’re wrong.

              Here’s the thing about the “preemptive fix” business… You never know what new problems you’re creating when you attempt to fix the bad shit that may (or may not) happen.

              Better mopping up one mess than making 10 more.

              1. Except you’re wrong. Jihadists have explicitly stated that they hate us for our freedoms.

                America could have crushed the Taliban before 9/11 and thereby prevented it. Instead, we took the ‘peaceful’ approach and got lots of war and security state for it.

                Non-interventionism is religious dogma. There are instances when America absolutely should intervene. America should have given Iran’s 2009 protesters weapons for instance.

                1. If you believe that they hate Americans because of our freedom then I have a nice bridge to sell you. You really loved yourself some of that media/white house propaganda flavored Kool-Aid huh?

              2. I’m not disagreeing with what you wrote, but none of it counters the claim that Richmon is a terrible writer.

                1. “but none of it counters the claim that Richmon is a terrible writer.”

                  I don’t think ANYONE disagrees with that.

                  1. I disagree, if only to say that terrible is an understatement.


              3. – We are butting out of everyone else’s affairs.
                -We will trade freely.”

                Having cake, eating cake.

                you may find that throughout history, that the ‘trading freely’ part tends to result in lots of the ‘butting into each others affairs’ thing

                I’ve pointed this out multiple times. The history of ‘”free” international trade’ is strongly associated with alliances/treaties/guarantees/partnerships that enable each party to deal with one another ‘freely’.

                The idea that you can have ‘trade’ as a neutral, non-meddling aspect of foreign relations is pretty poorly demonstrated throughout history.

                The last time this came up, i pointed out the short history of “US attempting simultaneous neutrality and free trade” = 1776-1812

                i.e. sooner or later, you will be doing business with the enemy of your friend; or when being neutral is tantamount to being an enemy, or some other such combination.

                (e.g. Turkey in the beginning of the Iraq war found itself in this position)

                Which leads to another point i make about foreign relations = there is very often no such thing as ‘neutrality’; one can ‘choose it’, but that by no means requires anyone else to *recognize it*

                just saying

                1. The Swiss don’t seem to have a problem remaining neutral.

                  You don’t need friends or enemies. You need trading partners. If they don’t like the other nations you trade with, fine, they can CHOOSE not to trade with you anymore. It hurts them as much as it hurts you and you trade elsewhere.

                  If they decide to attack you, simply squash them and move on. I’m not in favor of passivism.

                  We are in a unique position. We could spend half of what we spend on our military, and still be able to defeat an alliance of the remainder of the world. We are untouchable militarily. So, leave people alone, and if they don’t leave you alone you can use it.

                  So, Cytoxic, let them “hate us for our freedoms”. Who gives a shit? What are they going to do, take over America? Leave them the fuck alone and don’t give them a reason to attack. They’ve got nothing we need anymore.

                  1. What’s interesting Francisco, is that if America were to put a bubble on top of North America we’d do just fine. Just come out to import stuff we don’t make – like rubber.

                    1. if America were to put a bubble on top of North America we’d do just fine.

                      And that’s an awesome insurance policy. The only reason to trade is to make profit or to obtain goods and services cheaper from those who can produce it more cost-effectively…

                      Libertopia!

                  2. “Francisco d’Anconia|6.8.14 @ 4:27PM|#

                    The Swiss don’t seem to have a problem remaining neutral.”

                    I find that ‘Switzerland’ is to non-interventionists as Canada/Sweden is to UNIVERSAL HEALTHCARE IS TEH AWESOMES!-progs.

                    i.e. ‘not the comparison they think it really is’

                    I think there’s a good reason that “switzerland” is the only example in the world of a country anything like switzerland.

                    Meaning = it is maybe odd that their model has been entirely impossible to replicate elsewhere? or that almost no one (lichtenstien?) has tried? The Swiss-neutrality model is pretty much limited to small states. ergo, my joke about the “Swiss-Superpower” myth.

                    “You don’t need friends or enemies. You need trading partners”

                    Yeah, this is a point of disagreement. This could be a very long discussion. The short of my point would be, ‘economic & military-security’ are not independent of one another. A ‘boycott’ can be as devastating as an invasion, if you take my meaning. Just as ‘diplomacy’ is warfare by other means, ‘economic & trade relations’ are an aspect of diplomacy.

                    I dont disagree with your following comments. Just that these 2 specific things are specific areas where I think the ‘non-interventionist’ theory falls on its face. Imagined ‘neutrality’ is largely a myth. Particularly because it relies on others ‘accepting’ your neutrality/treating you as such. It didn’t much help ‘non-aligned’ countries during the cold war.

      2. When you meddle in the affairs of other countries, they tend to get pissed off. So stop meddling.

        When you seriously propose that America base its foreign policies on the fickle and impossible-to-understand feelings of a foreign population, you only deserve to be laughed at.

    3. “since its mainly a string of quotes from other people’s writing, barely held together by Richman’s tut-tutting”

      I don’t even read his stuff anymore, I just read the comments complaining about it. It’s almost as good as reading a decent writer capable of critical thinking. So thank you.

      1. That should’ve read “decent article from a writer capable of..”

    4. I don’t think Sheldon’s a terrible writer, but he does write some terrible stuff, like this article that leads off with some distraction I hadn’t heard of regarding the “right” going nuts over something about that deserter’s family. Overall I’m afraid this piece would, if anything, convince me to take the interventionist side! But it’s not because Sheldon writes badly, it’s just because lately he’s been taking every excuse to bring up points on the side for which the term “peacenik” was coined, fitting the stereotype that was meant by it.

      1. To be completely honest he is not the best writer but the flak he gets for it is way over the top. And that, I believe, is due mostly to the pro-war right wingers on this site (at least in this articles case, I am not very familiar with all of Sheldon’s works). I would guess that they don’t out number the libertarians here but they do out number the leftys so when they hate a writer you can see the whining and they all +1 each other.

    5. Most of American interventionism in the last century was about keeping Stalinism from engulfing the world.

      Seems like a worthwhile effort to me.

      The Pat Buchanan’s of the world would have kept us from “intervening” in the European theater in WWII. I’m glad we did that too.

      And yes, it is true that you can always feed others to the crocodile, hoping it will eat you last. I don’t think that’s a great foreign policy strategy.

  6. “If you believe in American exceptionalism and indispensability, you’ll believe anything.”

    There are so many things wrong here.

    1. Rather strange to have a libertarian mag say that one of the few countries in the world where libertarianism has any purchase isn’t exceptional.

      Then again, it’s not surprising from Richman, Reason’s Huffington Post infiltrator. Exactly what you’d expect from him: America, worse than Hitler!

      Can someone explain what he is doing here? Is he supposed to be the resident Proggie, to pull in Proggie interest?

      Good luck with that.

  7. A taxpayer supporting an interventionist foreign policy is like a Seattle business owner supporting their recent minimum wage hike.

    1. According to richman, all foreign policy is ‘interventionist’.

      He’s even compared ‘trading with ex-soviet states’ with ‘intervening in russian interests’

      “Non-intereventionism” is not a policy; its a theory

      Policy is when you ‘do stuff’. ‘policies’ have intended goals/outcomes.

      Non-intervention only ever defines itself by what it ‘isn’t’. It pretends that inaction is ‘free’ by simply criticizing ALL the costs of ALL action.

      Its a feeble-minded attempt to talk about policy while never having any. Its “policy absence”; like Richman’s non-case here for what the WoT ‘should have looked like’.

      1. “Non-intereventionism” is not a policy; its a theory

        It’s not even that. It’s religious faith.

        1. @ Cytotoxic

          So fiscal responsibility is religious faith? Whatever.

      2. I don’t care about what Richman says.

    2. Don’t kid yourself – all sorts of business owners and propertied interests will benefit, but most of all the Proggies will benefit when all those icky poor working people are cleared from the city.

  8. I saw Eugene Robinson on national TV actually say there’s no evidence the released prisoners would go back to being terrorists which absolutely floored me.

    I am not part of the hysterical OMG TERRAHISTS mob, but I don’t think it takes any special prognosticative ability to think these guys might want retribution against a nation which has held them prisoner for more than a decade.

    I would.

    1. Yeah, but on the other hand, I don’t think many Afghans can point out the location of the USA on a world map.

      1. “You go to where the Jews are, and you take a left”

      2. I don’t think that many Americans could find Afghanistan on a map for that matter either.

        1. To be fair, the “‘Stanistan” region is pretty much “point to central asia and go, ’round there somewhere!'”

          1. Well you’d hope that given we have been engaged in a war for more than a decade with this particular Stan that maybe 35% of Americans would be able to find it by now but somehow I doubt that is the case.

            Kind of speaks to one of the biggest problems, to me, about America’s wars these days. They don’t touch the population at large and people are disinclined from paying too much attention to things that do not directly affect them. There is no rationing, the costs are buried in a mammoth federal budget, a small minority of the population does the fighting, it’s all just ideas to most people allowing them to take on shallow opinions about the matter or just to not think of it at all an let the Top Men do whatever they will.

            It’s a remarkable achievement in terms of national prosperity that this is possible, but it is setting some dangerous precedents and engendering social attitudes that make restraining politicians even harder than it is already.

            1. well said.

              historically, for the majority of the 20th century, it was a ‘big deal’ if US troops went abroad; everyone cared about ‘why’, and up until recently, everyone has some skin in the game more or less.

              now, it seems like very few are engaged beyond the headline details.

      3. So what?

    2. And like I pointed out to Ag, their past certainly suggests there can be blow back.

  9. Tactical nukes. Cost-effective and send one hell of a message.

    1. Afterwards we can pop open a cold one.

    2. They say that the best weapon is the one that you never have to fire. I respectfully disagree! I prefer… the weapon you only have to fire once.

      Tony Stark 2016

  10. Richman is a terrible writer.

    No kidding.

  11. We will, we will nuke you.

  12. Oh, YAY! Melissa Harris Racetroller is on the GUNZ ARE BAD beat, this morning. Babs Boxer sez NINETY PER CENT or MORE want common sense gun confiscation laws.

    Oh, noes! teh money has ruint our pure and noble political process. Oh shame, oh ignominious degradation.

    1. Babs Boxer sez NINETY PER CENT or MORE want common sense gun confiscation laws.

      Except for the guns that guard the msnbc building.

    2. “NINETY PER CENT or MORE want common sense gun confiscation laws”

      They’ve been beating that ‘survey’ from early 2013 to death.

      No one seems to recall that the survey was asking people if they approved of the kinds of laws we already have on the books. “Should we have background checks”? etc. It never provided any distinction between current ‘background checks’ and the fuzzy idea of ‘universal’ ones.

      They have translated this into BANNING THE BARREL SHROUD AND ONLINE AMMO SALES AND MAGAZINES HAVE TO DESTROY THEMSELVES AND TRIGGERS LOCK BETWEEN SHOTS

      Its like saying, “most people support speed limits = therefore, people should only have bicycles”

      1. She’s just a disingenuous cunt.

        Ignore her.

        1. Harris-Perry? No shit.

          And someone called her one of America’s best ‘public intellectuals.’ If that be the case the country is in serious trouble where intellectualism is concerned.

          1. The groovy thing about being an ‘intellectual’ is that no actual intellect is required. In fact, it is often an impediment to the status.

          2. Nothing says “public intellectual” like tampon earrings.

        2. So she and Richman should get along great.

  13. Again I ask, if the jug eared halfwit’s foreign policy is ‘not to do stupid shit’, when will he begin implementing it?

  14. when will he begin implementing it?

    He’s got his best people on it.

    1. That is what scares me.

  15. Republicans are baaad, children. Mmmmkay?

  16. Blowback is a bitch.

    1. Except in the multitudes of place America has intervened without a wisp of blowback.

      Blowback is a boogeyman.

      1. Well, I wouldn’t go quite that far, but that result does seem to be often exaggerated.

      2. American foreign policy is blowback avoidance 101 – attack people too weak to fight back.

  17. No one seems to recall that the survey was asking people if they approved of the kinds of laws we already have on the books.

    I don’t understand why we don’t just cut to the chase, and make it illegal to shoot people for no good reason.

    Presto! No more gun violence.

  18. Speaking of a foreign policy quote:

    “What is best in life?”
    “To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and hear the lamentation of their women.”

    If we don’t, they will (are). But in our case we’re being crushed by the weight of useless public service employees and net-consumers.

    1. The problem, obviously, is that we don’t laminate their women.

      A fine sheet of sealed plastic over the ladies will help end the war!

      1. And keep them looking just as new as the day you bought them.

  19. DOOOOOOM

    On a recent afternoon, Scott McKenzie watched torrential rains and a murky tide swallow the street outside his dog-grooming salon. Within minutes, much of this stretch of chic South Beach was flooded ankle-deep in a fetid mix of rain and sea.

    “Welcome to the new Venice,” McKenzie joked as salt water surged from the sewers.

    There are few places in the nation more vulnerable to rising sea levels than low-lying South Florida, a tourist and retirement mecca built on drained swampland.

    Yet as other coastal states and the Obama administration take aggressive measures to battle the effects of global warming, Florida’s top Republican politicians are challenging the science and balking at government fixes.

    Built on drained swampland, you say?

    What could possibly go wrong?

    1. “Scott McKenzie watched torrential rains and a murky tide swallow the street outside his dog-grooming salon

      Its moments like this when I realize how the Old Testament God felt about Mankind before the flood.

      “Fuck ’em”.

      1. “Scott McKenzie watched torrential rains and a murky tide swallow the street outside his dog-grooming salon”

        I wonder if one of his dogs is named Spuds.

    2. “Built on drained swampland, you say?”

      That would consist of ~75% of Florida… I guess that dog-grooming salon was supposed to be an exception to the rule..

    3. drained swampland

      Is the sea rising or is the ground sinking?

      Funny thing about soil when you take all the water out of it.

      It shrinks.

  20. “America is not winning the War on Terror. It was unwinnable from the start, primarily because its origins and nature were viewed through a distorting nationalist and imperialist ideology and thus were badly misunderstood.”

    Richman states the obvious that America’s foreign policy is a disaster, but these statements reveal flaws in his analysis. America’s “War on Terrorism” started out as a moral action of self-defense. The disaster began when Bush and then Obama failed to define the war in moral terms against a specific enemy: find and destroy the people who support those who flew airplanes into American buildings and killed innocent Americans. That is not a nationalist or imperialist ideology, that is self preservation. It only became unwinnable when it was not a war of self defense.

    An unwinnable? WTF!!! It would take about 2 days for America’s military to destroy the countries that supported those who attacked America: Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and probably Pakistan and maybe Iran.

    For 65 years, Americans have died fighting stupid, immoral, altruist wars–what American self-interest is served in fighting for OTHER people to have the right vote for or vote for tyrannical leaders in Korea, Vietnam, sundry ME countries.

    Richman analysis is flawed and full of bad thinking.

    1. “It would take about 2 days for America’s military to destroy the countries that supported those who attacked America: Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan and probably Pakistan and maybe Iran.”

      My impression is American politics was/is a tepid clash between interventionism and a lack of ruthlessness to execute.

      1. My impression is American politics was/is a tepid clash between interventionism and a lack of ruthlessness to execute.

        The fatal flaw, as it were, is the American obsession with being perceived as the Good Guys, particularly by ourselves. If we had engaged in a punitive expedition in Afghanistan smashing everything in sight and leaving a note behind on the rubble that we’d be back to do it again 10 times worse if this shit happened again would have been far more effective than the Mr. Nice Guy operation that actually occurred.

        1. I can’t disagree with this assessment. Americans beat themselves up in surveys and polls. You don’t see that in other countries.

      2. America’s excuse for a foreign policy is shaped by the same philosophy as its domestic policy–altruism. Anything you do for your own rational self-interest–like defending yourself against those who want to kill you or allowing people to keep the fruits of their own work toward self-preservation or happiness is seen as immoral.

        Altruism is the problem. It is the mother and father of collectivism–the morality based NOT upon living for yourself as an individual (that’s immoral), but living for and being a servant to the needs of other people in your group. It devastated vast societies in the 20th century. It causes wars, destroys economies, and it is now destroying America.

        1. Just who is this Galt character?

    2. THIS.

    3. This is true. We’re damned if we do, damned if we don’t. We sent ground troops into Iraq (Iraq, still not connected to 9/11), ground troops into Afghanistan, and ordered them to serve as local police forces, learn the language, adopt the stray dogs, donate clothes and toys to the children, try to keep different sects of the same worthless 10th-century gawd-botherers from blowing each other up, and basically mollycoddle these stinking “innocent civilian” towelheads while they donate any goats they’re not busy fucking to the Taliban or al Qaeda. Aaaand they hate us anyway.

      We should have just nuked and paved the entire area, seized the oil, and invited any remaining towelheads to walk it off, and try that 9/11 shit again sometime.

      The world hates us just as much anyway. Might as well have done it.

  21. I haven’t read it yet, but does he blame Israel at some point in a total non-sequitor that has nothing to do with the rest of the post?

    Because that’s like Richman’s only move.

    1. The conventional wisdom is wrong. “Bin Laden has been precise in telling America the reasons he is waging war on us,” Scheuer wrote. “None of the reasons have anything to do with our freedom, liberty, and democracy, but have everything to do with U.S. policies and actions in the Muslim world.” He was referring to U.S. support for corrupt oil-rich kings and dictators and the enabling of Israel’s injustices against the Palestinians.

      YES!

      Yeah, Bin Laden would have just minded his own business if it weren’t for America’s policies with Israel.

      1. There is indeed a radical Islamist core that would attack Western targets regardless of what our policies were, just because they don’t like our culture.

        However, their ranks are swelled by stupid, counterproductive foreign policy which you really can’t deny we have had in the ME for a long time. US policies may not have created al Qaeda but they have certainly given it a lot of recruiting material.

        1. I agree to some extent, but Bin Laden’s desire to attack America was not based on our policies towards Israel. Bin Laden would have gladly seen every Palestinian butchered in the streets if it gave him an opportunity to attack the United States.

          There is indeed a radical Islamist core that would attack Western targets regardless of what our policies were, just because they don’t like our culture.

          It’s not that they don’t like our culture, it’s that they believe it is ordained by God that they must spread his will by killing non-believers and spreading Islam through Jihad. If the reason Islamist fundamentalists attack people is because they have policies the Islamists don’t like, then why did Boko Haram capture all of those little girls? Why do Islamists decapitate heretics and hang gay people?

          Richman’s argument is that the driving force behind Jihadist hatred is some sort of rational hatred of American foreign policy. This is nonsense.

          1. If the reason Islamist fundamentalists attack people is because they have policies the Islamists don’t like, then why did Boko Haram capture all of those little girls?

            Boko Haram’s actions in Nigeria are against the policy of educating girls. Do you know what “Boko Haram” means? You chose, like, the #1 example of what I’m talking about today.

            1. By that logic, any attack by Islamists is based on policy and therefore the fault of the attacked.

              “Well, if you didn’t want us to attack you because you don’t hang gay people you should have hung gay people!”

              “If you don’t want me to attack you because you refuse to make Islam your national religion, then you should have made Islam your national religion!”

              Richman’s specific argument was that they attacked us because of our policies towards Israel. They attacked us because they want the planet to be an Islamist caliphate, and we’re an obstacle.

              1. By that logic, any attack by Islamists is based on policy and therefore the fault of the attacked.

                I never said attacks based on policy are the fault of the attacked. Or any attacks for that matter. No wonder you defend the deceivers and misrepresenters among the elite, looks like you’re auditioning for a spot.

                What I am saying is that there are some policies that are inherently stupid, unjustifiable, AND make us targets for attack. Educating girls is a good policy, and if BH doesn’t like it we should tell them to fuck off and slaughter them to the last man if they attempt to coercively interfere.

                Support for the Saud family and Hosni Mubarak, not quite so defensible. You are right that we could drop support for the various oppressive regimes in the ME and the core AQ animus against us wouldn’t change, but it would give them a lot less manpower and a lot less safe havens.

                1. And yet the Jihadists barely give a shit about other countries support for dictators and interference with the possible exception of Russia. France has intervened the hell out of North Africa for decades and ‘blowback’ has yet to show up at its front door. Kind of blows a big hole in that stupid theory. So does the Jihadist’s explicit calls to kill infidels for their freedom.

                  1. France has intervened the hell out of North Africa for decades

                    Is this Cyto’s fantasy world or the real world the rest of us live in? Other than Algeria the French haven’t had any incursions in N Afr recently.

                    And if you’re talking about the Algerian war, the frogs in Algeria got plenty of blowback at the time.

              2. Israel is a strawman. While by no means to be dismissed as part of their grievances, I contend if you remove Israel from the equation you still have this problem.

        2. There is indeed a radical Islamist core that would attack Western targets regardless of what our policies were, just because they don’t like our culture.

          It’s more than that. They want to reform the Caliphate, take back every land ever controlled by Islam, destroy Israel, and eventually take over the entire world. “Non-interventionism” does nothing to stop any of that.

          1. Noninterventionism doesn’t prevent you from defending your own territory. So yeah, at the very least it prevents them from taking over the world.

            Plus, they’ve shown themselves utterly incompetent at managing the few lands they have taken over (Libya, eastern Syria, non-Israel Palestine). Immediately after overthrowing the hated dictator they start fighting each other. I’m really not worried about al Qaeda having any success at world or even regional domination.

            1. Libya is in a chaotic post-dictator-for-life situation. Syria is in the midst of civil war. The Palestinian territories are ruled by secular-ish terrorists (plus Hamas). On the other hand, Iran is sputtering along, and the Saudis are doing OK. (I know, the Saudis aren’t jihadi radicals, but that’s where a lot of the money comes from.)

              The Bolsheviks were pretty incompetent at first, too.

  22. Don’t mention the war Laffer curve.

    The report makes a good case that the city should first address blight in neighborhoods that are on the cusp of losing many or most of their residents and where public intervention has the best chance of raising property values and attracting more investment. It also rightly calls on the city to reform its property tax, which is so high that more than half of property owners don’t pay the tax. Since the 2008 financial crisis, more than 60,000 properties have been foreclosed for delinquent tax payments; the report notes that 118,000 more are subject to foreclosure or on the way to being foreclosed because their owners haven’t paid taxes. Given those bleak numbers, the city might actually collect more revenue by lowering its property tax rate.

    ———

    Dilapidated buildings and vacant lots are symptoms of larger economic and social problems. Reviving urban neighborhoods will take more than wrecking balls and dump trucks.

    NEEDZ MOAR TOP MENZ!

    1. The Laffer curve is for income tax. Property tax is fundamentally different because you can’t choose to lower your property’s value, while you can choose not to earn extra income.

      1. Property tax is fundamentally different because you can’t choose to lower your property’s value, while you can choose not to earn extra income.

        You can choose not to buy more property due to the property tax or you can choose to buy less expensive property because the taxes you pay on it will be lower.

        The Laffer Curve applies to virtually any tax because people can always change their behavior. And, as the article mentions, if people can’t pay property taxes and are being foreclosed on, having lower property taxes could stop those foreclosures, keep the tax base larger, and raise more money as a result.

      2. Yeah, lower you property’s value – and see your property tax get reduced 10ish or so years later. Maybe. Maybe the appraiser just happens to never get around to your lot.

        1. This also impacts people who are buying new property though. If I’m going to buy a house, the cost of property taxes impacts whether I can live in a certain area, and what kind of house I buy.

          Plus, the issue here is that people can’t afford the taxes and are losing their homes. If taxes were lower, more people would be able to afford them and they would probably end up with more tax dollars due to people being able to keep their property.

        2. My family actually lost our home, a nice plantation house in the downtown area. My father was quite proud, he’d managed to get it cheap, and spent a lot of time and effort to make it nice again.

          He had it appraised, and it was worth about 50% more than he’d paid for it when it was all fixed up.

          City appraiser drives by the house one day and decided the goddamn place is worth three times the MARKET VALUE, and raised the property taxes so high my dad couldn’t afford to live there any longer. We ended up living in a rented home, where the sewage backed up.

          Best part of it was, the church across the street bought the house, demolished it, and paved over the yard to make a parking lot. Bye bye property taxes.

          Come to find out, the city council just loooooves doing this to people. Ruining the little peoples lives is what those cunts live for.

          1. That’s some evil shit right there.

          2. This was Detroit? Wow.

            1. I live in Illinois.

      3. The Laffer curve is just a backwards bending supply curve and can be applied to anything where an increase in price eventually leads to a decrease in quantity supplied, which is the opposite of what intuitively would happen.

  23. Listen, I’ve played Risk since I was in diapers, and you never offer a 5:1 prisoner exchange unless you’re totally desperate and stranded on Madagascar. This isn’t normal, Sheldon.

  24. And what’s to show for it? A growing and spreading movement of extremists who want revenge against Americans. Thanks very much, ruling elite.

    This also strikes me as idiotic populism. When we invaded Iraq, the vast majority of people were in favor of it.

    Blaming it on ‘the ruling elite’ strikes me as the same sort of nonsense the left tries to pull when they blame Bush for Iraq while ignoring that Hillary voted for the war. You can’t blame ‘the elite’ when the vast majority of common folk were in favor of the same action.

    1. So the elite has no capability for directing popular opinion via misinformation and demagoguery?

      1. Not enough to be responsible for it, no. Some? Sure, but they’re not mind controlling people.

        1. I agree that ignorance is not innocence, but Richman is right to primarily blame the elites for the stupid policies the elites make and foment popular support for.

          1. That doesn’t seem to be what GILMORE has an issue with.

          2. I agree that ignorance is not innocence, but Richman is right to primarily blame the elites for the stupid policies the elites make and foment popular support for.

            No he’s not. The public is primarily responsible for electing the ‘ruling elite’ and then allowing the people they elected to manipulate them so easily. It’s entirely the fault of the American people, and they deserve no sympathy. They also don’t deserve to have their own sins ignored by blaming the decisions of the bulk of the American public on some shadowy elite that’s secretly utterly to blame.

            The only reason to heap the bulk of the blame on the ruling elite is because telling the American public ‘hey, you guys are fucking morons,’ which would be true, just won’t generally play well with the audience.

            1. The public is primarily responsible for electing the ‘ruling elite’ and then allowing the people they elected to manipulate them so easily.

              I guess they get no credit for drumming out the pro-war people in 2006 and 2008? And you’re blaming them for the restrictive ballot access laws too, presumably.

              blaming the decisions of the bulk of the American public on some shadowy elite that’s secretly utterly to blame.

              There’s nothing shadowy or secret about the elite’s actions in this matter. They’re very public about it. Bush and Obama and scores of other elites have lied and demagogued on national TV. Don’t paint me as some sort of conspiracy theorist.

      2. Sure, and the people who fall for the demagoguery bear equal culpability for their stupidity.

        Obama’s scum, but I’m not going to pretend the morons who were crying at his campaign rallies and making music videos about him were simply benighted victims of his demagoguery. They wanted to believe, they were willing to mindlessly follow anyone who promised them free shit, they were manipulated and deserved to be.

        It’s the same with Iraq. Blaming the ‘ruling elite’ is just a means of exculpating the American people of wrongdoings.

        1. Blaming the ‘ruling elite’ is just a means of exculpating the American people of wrongdoings.

          No it’s a means of blaming the ruling elite. There’s enough blame to go around.

          And of course the ruling elite didn’t change their policy once the war became unpopular.

        2. Sure, and the people who fall for the demagoguery bear equal culpability for their stupidity.

          I wouldn’t consider deceptive malice and gullibility to be equally blameworthy.

          1. I wouldn’t consider deceptive malice by the government as a reason to avoid blaming someone for doing something stupid, barring a very extreme case.

            Other people lying to you can be a cause for you to engage in poor decision making, no doubt, but you are assigning way more efficacy to the government’s efforts than I think actually exists.

            1. Not just the government. The eternally anti-GOP media is a myth; they loved Bush, and denigrated the antiwar movement, from 9/11 to the spring of 2004 when things in IRQ started going to shit.

              1. Ok substitute media, it changes nothing I said.

                1. I think you’re underestimating how powerful the media is at shaping opinion. Christ, look at Obama’s reelection. No way that happens without the media collaborating.

                  1. I think you’re underestimating how powerful the media is at shaping opinion.

                    Yours maybe.

              2. Not just the government. The eternally anti-GOP media is a myth; they loved Bush, and denigrated the antiwar movement, from 9/11 to the spring of 2004 when things in IRQ started going to shit.

                I agree with this. The media isn’t pro-Democrat, they’re pro-state. When Republicans are arguing in favor of some statist solutions, the media is suddenly on their side.

                1. Scads of little people doing little things for their own little purposes do not make an easy story to tell. That’s why journalists, historians, etc always emphasize great men doing great things for great purposes. Cuts way down on the research.

                  1. That’s why journalists, historians, etc always emphasize great men doing great things for great purposes.

                    The irony is that the progressive view of history is that it all would have happened anyway.

                    History just progresses.

                2. The media isn’t just pro-Democrat, they’re pro-state. When Republicans are arguing in favor of some statist solutions that the Democrats do not oppose, the media is suddenly on their side.

                  Maybe a little bit more accurate, generally speaking.

                  1. They were actively making fun of Democrat antiwar protesters in 2002-03.

                    They were also making fun of John Kerry’s flip-flopping in 2003-04.

                3. No, newspeople are overwhelmingly pro-Democrat. When Carter (and Teddy et al.) was pushing deregul’n (which had actually started w Nixon), they thought that was swell. They’re pro- or anti-gambling depending on how their state’s Dems & Reps align at that moment.

    2. I think Richman calls everyone who is NOT ‘some libertarian think-tank academic foreign policy theorist whose ideas are given absolutely zero credence or respect'”, the ‘Elites’

      By “Elites”, he means people who actually work in Foreign Policy (as opposed to obscure intellectuals who write papers that only their fellow think-tankers read) and are taken seriously by policy-makers.

      I find it odd he can writes sentences like this =

      “My head says that I should sit back and watch with satisfaction this fight between conservatives and progressives. Both sides share the same flawed premises, so let them go at it until they fall down from exhaustion.”

      …and still think *he’s* not an ‘elitist’.

      This does not score highly in self-awareness

      I mean, *everyone* every single school of foreign policy EXCEPT his is fundamentally flawed…. but THEY are the elitist ones for failing to recognize it!

      1. Recognizing that most people have flawed premises does not make you an elitist.

        I guess you would have thought anyone who questioned the wisdom of the Holocaust in Nazi Germany was an elitist too.

        1. “Camisard|6.8.14 @ 11:40AM|#

          Recognizing Claiming, sans proof that most people have flawed premises does not makes you an elitist.”

          i think that’s the technical definition.

          Nevermind that the ‘premises’ he’s attributing to his apparent inferiors are “All foreign policy schools in known history other than my novel and half-formed concept of non-intervention, which has neither any practical example in the history of mankind nor any historical intellectual tradition”

          That said…

          “I guess you would have thought anyone who questioned the wisdom of the Holocaust in Nazi Germany was an elitist too.”

          I see.

          People *do* often go straight from, “you know, i think i might disagree with what you say”, to – “Clearly you’re a Nazi”

          Funny how that works.

          1. Your mistakenness is matched only by your smugness. No, that’s not the definition of an elitist. Invest in a dictionary. Nice touch editing someone’s comment for them.

            And I never said you were a Nazi, just that your logic could be used to denigrate anti-Nazis.

            1. .

            2. If you really want to defend Richman, fill in the blanks =

              apparently, according to him, attacking afghanistan was wrong.

              What the hell would be the appropriate policy, then, in response to 9/11?

              he doesnt mention

              1. I’m not here to defend Richman, I’m here to defend the truth.

                1. “Camisard|6.8.14 @ 12:09PM|#

                  I’m here to defend the truth.”

                  Which was what, again? you havent said anything affirmative.

                  Make your ‘statement of truth’, please.

              2. “What the hell would be the appropriate policy, then, in response to 9/11?”

                Targeted assassination? Nah.. not enough meat on that bone..

              3. Fuck up their government, then get the hell home. If they form another government that harbors people trying to attack to US, fuck that one up. If the new government only fucks up Afghanistan, ignore.

                Repeat as needed.

                1. This is universally what fairly sensible people seem to think “OEF” should have been.

                  instead of ‘enduring freedom’ (in fucking *afghanistan*? talk about setting yourself up for failure), they should have called it, ‘operation judicious smackdown’. After tora bora we should have split, and/or convinced Pakistan that NWFP/tribal areas were fair-game for pursuit.

                  I blame Rumsfeld. He complained ‘there weren’t enough targets’ in Afghanistan. He wasnt happy with what SF and air power could do, so needed a more-developed country to destroy-and-prop-back-up. Hence, iraq.

                  There’s more to it than that, but that’s a lot of it.

                  part of the problem with this ‘smackdown and reset’ theory is that despite the idea of a new ‘mobile & flexible’ armed forces, the truth is they are still slow, plodding, take forever to plan and then once they ‘execute’, the ‘stabilize and retreat’ part ends up taking over 2 years+. And then the mission creep slips in. Once you get the military on ‘war’ footing, it is very hard to get it to change direction or pace or focus.

                  1. Targeted assassination is wholly insufficient.

                    100,000 army rangers, nuke Tora Bora, do not take steps to minimize ‘civilian’ casualties, and legalize opium importation on a ‘friendly clan/village’ basis ie if the spy satellite/plane’s image shows no Taliban/AQ, we can trade pomegranate and opium. If you are, rubble time!

                  2. they should have called it, ‘operation judicious smackdown’.

                    I don’t that this would have been quite enough. Just going in to do damage would have been like running over a mud puddle.

                    Putting on my General with-Trolls hat for a moment I would have launched Operation Never-Ending Civil War.

                    Phase 1 is the smash part. Liquidate as many AQ people as we can, totally fuck up the Taliban, focusing on the leadership elements, explain loud and long why we are doing this.

                    Phase 2 is presents. Start dropping food, weapons, medical and building supplies everywhere. 5.56mm bullets become the new Afghan currency and inflation is rampant. Throw money at warlords to recruit mercenaries, throw money at other warlords to hire mercenaries to fight the other mercenaries. Continue to explain that while we have zero interest in who ends up ruling their shithole country and we certainly won’t be trying to do it ourselves were are extremely interested in ventilating anyone who harbors AQ members and the surest way to get a few extra crates of grenades for the ongoing festivities would be to provide us with their scalps.

                    Phase 3 is GTFO, air-dropping additional party favors as required to keep the fun going.

                    Phase 4 is a quiet face to face meeting with the ambassadors of various nations with the message that This Could Be You.

                    1. I say act like the Great Satan they clearly want, and air-drop porn (esp. gay, kiddie, & bestial), booze, & speed.

              4. Legalize pot.

          2. “Claiming, sans proof that most people have flawed premises makes you an elitist.”

            Especially if it’s combined with the smug self-assurance that your premises are immaculate, even though you’ve never done a speck of research outside of finding quotes from other people who share your assumptions.

    3. A growing and spreading movement of extremists who want revenge against Americans.

      Evidence? Richman don’t need no evidence! Being a peacenazi means saying whatever the fuck you want when you want to without a sliver of evidence because anyone who calls you on it is a Neocon poopyhead.

  25. I’m with you about 80%, Sheldon. Good article. One small thing, You should talk with your editor, matt welch, and ask him why he was writing articles supporting the afghan war and being “agnostic” on the War in Iraq, when others on the libertarian right– justin raimondo comes to mind– we’re condemning it. I call that politically convienent, wouldn’t you? Those of us on the Left– and I speak from personal experience– we’re getting tear-gassed and arrested at the RNC protests in 2004 and banded together to elect Barack Obama to end that terrible war.

    One thing… “Obama’s boosters would never have tolerated Bush flouting a requirement that he give Congress 30 days notice of some action (which Obama was supposed to have done before releasing Guant?namo prisoners). ”

    i’m in Obama booster. I would’ve supported Bush closing Guant?namo back in 2005 even if he didn’t seek approval from a single congressman. A gulag is a gulag. I don’t quibble over how we reduce the number of political prisoners in the Land of the Free .

    1. banded together to elect Barack Obama to end that terrible war.

      AHAHHAHAHAHAHHA

      1. The difference between promising to end a war and actually doing it is lost on libertarians. Do you want to count the number of time George bush promised to end the Iraq war? How many u.s. Troops are in Iraq again?

        1. Why is George Bush the standard for anything? I don’t see better than Bush as a thing to strive for.

          1. Especially when it’s apparently difficult for you (i.e. Obama).

        2. Your Team had six years to end it. Your team for two years had control of the house, the senate, and the Presidency. You people cannot end a war in two years of complete popular control ? What good are you ?

      2. The difference between promising to end a war and actually doing it is lost on libertarians. Do you want to count the number of time George bush promised to end the Iraq war? How many u.s. Troops are in Iraq again?

        1. american socialist|6.8.14 @ 1:54PM|#
          …”Do you want to count the number of time George bush promised to end the Iraq war?”

          Nope. Are you a supporter of Bush? How slimy are you?

        2. Apparently the reality that we would still have troops in Iraq had Biden not been such an incompetent negotiator escapes you.

    2. “A gulag is a gulag.”

      The irony of a socialist using that phrase is delicious.

    3. I’m for non-interventionism. What that means, though, is different from what people like you believe. I am for NOT sticking our noses where they do not belong.

      We do NOT get into drawn our land wars for the sake of bringing democracy to other countries.

      We do NOT use police actions to destroy despotic regimes, simply because we do not like them very much.

      We do NOT make up false information and raid oil-rich countries because we’re getting a raw deal on goods and services.

      What it DOES mean is that we keep our troops at home until we are attacked. And then we retaliate with extreme, overwhelming force. We demolish the people responsible, and we pack our fucking bags and go home.

      What’s so complicated about that?

      1. “And then we retaliate with extreme, overwhelming force. We demolish the people responsible, and we pack our fucking bags and go home.” Never heard of proportionality and distinction between combatants and non-combatants (“the people”).

        “What’s so complicated about that?” Nothing complicated, just criminal.

        1. So, what? You assume when I say “The People Responsible” that I meant their entire civilization? Kill Everyone everywhere?

          Sorry, but you took that entirely out of context.

          The people responsible would be the ones who planned, aided, abetted, and actually took part in the process of the crime.

          If it’s an attack by another nation, then we do it to their government*. If it’s a terrorist plot, we find the individuals responsible to the best of our ability and then brutally murder them.

          We don’t do this whole “imperialistic takeover” bullshit like in Iraq and Afghanistan. We do not change their way of life. We do not kill innocent civilians (to the best of our ability).

          Clear enough for you?

          *Government as in ruling body. President. Senate. Parliament. Fanatical Religious Cult. Council of Doom. Whatever that country happens to have.

          1. I’m with you, but it’s the sorting them into “innocent civilians” and “terrorists/terrorist sympathizers” that is so time-consuming. Few Afghan villagers actually truthfully admit their involvement or level of support for the Taliban. I mean, mysteriously, this organization seems to be well-funded and gaining territory, but nobody supports it. Yeah. Hmm. Odd how that works.

            They don’t bother sorting us into “innocent civilians” and “combatants” when they attack the U.S. Why do we need to so carefully sort them when we retaliate?

    4. What’s your take on over 1500 American dead soldiers in Afghanistan since your anti-war hero has been in charge?

    5. …”banded together to elect Barack Obama to end that terrible war.”

      Shame you wasted your time on that lying piece of shit.

    6. “I don’t quibble over how we reduce the number of political prisoners in the Land of the Free .”

      Especially if that involves bullets in the back of the head, right Comrade?

  26. Whenever you make a policy you need to give it at least 50 years to work. If it doesn’t work after 50 years then the obvious thing to do is to double down on that policy because there is no way it could be wrong. The real problem is that you didn’t spend enough trillions and you just weren’t zealous enough. What America needs to do right now id to invade another country to get the bad taste out of our mouth from all our previous invasions.

    1. What was America’s policy 50-years ago? Because I think ‘defeat the Soviet Union’ was part of it and I think that part was highly successful.

      1. Ah yes, the good old days of Lyndon Johnson and the highly successful Vietnam war

        1. A LOT of people in SE Asia thought so. (Thailand for one). But the were gooks. They are still gooks And no American boy should die for their kind.

  27. City appraiser drives by the house one day and decided the goddamn place is worth three times the MARKET VALUE, and raised the property taxes so high my dad couldn’t afford to live there any longer. We ended up living in a rented home, where the sewage backed up.

    Best part of it was, the church across the street bought the house, demolished it, and paved over the yard to make a parking lot. Bye bye property taxes.

    You cannot put a price tag on Social Justice.

  28. The thing I love about Derpmen articles (either Chap or Rich) is that I can without a doubt just skip the article and go to the comments to see it get torn apart and then serve as the daily links page. That’s all it’s good for.

  29. I am so tired of reading this Ron Paul nonsense about how they hate us only because of what we’ve done in the Middle East. While many of them may despise of because of our actions, they also hate us for who we are and what we represent. All the author has to do is read their commentary. We are the infidels, the apostates, who according to the Islamists must either convert, pay tribute, or die. This is not Islamophobia, it is fact.

    1. Are you a professor of grazing?

      So they don’t hate us because we are invading their countries and bombing them (they’re cool with that). And they don’t care that we unconditionally support Israel’s real estate theft and thuggish treatment of the Palestinians. And they are fine with our support of corrupt dictatorships. But they are angry at us because American women are allowed to vote?

    2. Ever hear of suicide bombings in Brazil because of those racy Rio carnivals, or perhaps attacking Japan because of those tentacle cartoons (not a theologian but I doubt it adheres to Islamic morals) ? Neither have I.

      The fact is that America is engaging in an imperial foreign policy in the middle east, Brazil and Japan are not. What America represents in the middle east is a boorish bully, it has killed people and has supported killer regimes, it is only logical what the consequences of the actions are.

  30. Ignoring the role of jihad as a motive for terrorism is just a dumb as ignoring the role of blow back. They are equally important.

    There is a reason why jihadis attack the US and the UK but Japan or Brazil. There is also a reason why jihadis will riot over cartoons and murder people over a novel.

    You can’t make friends with killer bees, but you can avoid trouble by not throwing rocks at their hive.

    The problem is the US govt is filled with people who believe the killer bees are just misunderstood butterflies in need of tough love.

    1. Nice, derp.

    2. you can avoid trouble by not throwing rocks at their hive.

      Then what accounts for Islamic terror attacks in Argentina, Spain, India, Indonesia, Sweden, Egypt, Pakistan, and Kenya?

      1. The Argentina attack was on the Israeli embassy.

        The one in Spain was due to Spain’s participation in the current Iraq war.

        The ones in India were in retaliation to attacks on mosques & Muslims.

        The one in Indonesia (Bali) targeted Americans & Australians.

        The one in Sweden was because Sweden has troops in Afghanistan and because a Swede drew a cartoon of Mohamed.

        Egypt has been cracking down on Islamist groups for decades.

        Pakistan is about the only example where the bee hive rule does not apply.

        Kenya sent troops to fight Al Shabaab in Somalia. The 1998 bombing was on the US embassy.

        1. What did we do to cause 9/11?

  31. When those Taliban boys restart their war on the US (as promised) it will be interesting to see S. Richman’s reaction.

  32. If only Jefferson had settled his differences with the Barbary Pirates peacefully none of this would be happening.

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