Tuesday, December 1, 2009

DECISION: AFGHANISTAN -- a live-blog

Blitzer! Brazile! Obama! Axelrod! It's DECISION: AFGHANISTAN, 2009!

Ok, just kidding, that's actually CNN's name for their preview show. (Did anyone think for a second that I was serious about that?) Just trying to bring a little levity to what -- if the advance draft I've seen is correct -- is bound to be a depressing evening.

So instead of LIL! GUNSLINGER! ALMA! MK! In surround-sound and full effect!, you've just got me. The lady of the house is trapped at work (ironically, by the steaming pile of text that the President will deliver in about 14 minutes), and our little team is wracked by flu and overwork. But never fear, I've got my wine glass full of Guinness (and a backup bottle of Jim Beam), a 90-count freezer bag of Totino's pizza rolls, and no one to complain about the volume of the TV, so I'm ready to take this speech strong to the rack. (I guess I have to turn off the Wizards-Raptors game, first.)

1949: I just learned that we've yet to use the label "Barack Obama," or anything like it, in 200 posts and five months of blogging. Weird. You can't accuse us of being starry-eyed!

1951: We need about 500 pageviews in the next 250 minutes to top our all-time busiest day at Ink Spots. I have a good feeling I'll do that just by refreshing my own window, but help us out! Tweet us, or something (whatever that means).

1957: Check out Wings Over Iraq's "The Afghan Troop Surge Drinking Game." Make sure there's someone around who can take you to the emergency room.

2001: Charlie Gibson says the president has been considering this strategy for three months. The part before the March announcement doesn't count?

2002: Stephanopolous: Obama has to convince people in Afghanistan and Pakistan that we're staying, and convince Americans that we're coming home.

Gates, Clinton, Mullen, Petraeus all in the audience along with the Corps of Cadets. (A little surprised not to hear them all yell back "GOOD EVENING!" when the president greeted them.)

2004: "Important to recall why America and our allies were compelled to fight this war." Took under 30 seconds to bring up 9/11.

Al-Qaeda have "distorted and defiled Islam, one of the world's great religions."

President cites 2001 vote on Afghan war -- 0 votes against in the Senate, only one in the House. In other words "remember when you guys thought this was a good idea?"

2006: Interesting to hear reference to the fact that the Taliban were first given the opportunity to turn over AQ leaders, before U.S. invasion.

"Wrenching debate over the Iraq war is well-known, and need not be repeated here. But seriously dudes, it was really dumb." (Ok, he didn't say the last part exactly, but pretty close.)

2008: "Over the last several years, the Taliban has maintained common cause with al-Qaeda, as they both seek an overthrow of the Afghan government."

D/D/D al-Qaeda -- drink, Crispin!

"Afghanistan is not lost, but for several years it has moved backward."

"Our forces lack the full support they need to effectively train and partner with ANSF and better secure the population." Focus on training and partnering is fair enough, but there's gonna be some fighting.

2012: When is it going to be acceptable for presidents to stop wearing the American flag lapel pin? Dude, we know you like America -- you're the President of the United States! Seriously, one day somebody's just gonna have to man up and say "this is ridiculous."

2014: "If I did not think that the security of the United States and the safety of the American people were at stake in Afghanistan, I would gladly order every single one of our troops home tomorrow." Well, great. I mean, I'd hope so, right? But we need a more compelling explanation of the WHY part than just "there be TEERRRRRRORISTS tharrr!"

2015: D/D/D AQ in AF and PK again! Finish that drink!

2017: We're going to break the Taliban's momentum and build the Afghan government's capacity. Sounds like an awesome idea. How? And why haven't we been doing it up until now?

Boom, there it is: help create the conditions to transfer responsibility to ANSF. Because that seems imminent, right?

"Our allies have fought, bled, and died alongside us in Afghanistan." True: more than 600 non-US ISAF KIA in Afghanistan.

2018: And there's the money shot: American troops will start coming home in the summer of 2011. Apparently we need to make it clear to the Afghan government "and more importantly, the Afghan people" that they'll have to be responsible for running their own country. Geez, if we'd done that in the first place, they probably woulda tried harder! (Really, do we think it's just a failure of resolve?)

2019: I'm not gonna lie, I found it a little creepy when the President looked straight into the camera and said we're not interested in occupying Afghanistan. True, obviously, but a little weird in the delivery.

2020: Success in Af "inextricably linked with our partnership with Pakistan." This is consistent with the news stories we've seen today that talk about a new package of incentives for Islamabad, a more expansive relationship, a longer-term outlook, and so on.

This part about the relationship with Pakistan and our long-term, post-war interest in that country is actually pretty strong.

2023: Vietnam comparisons dependent on a "false reading of history," according to the president. Unlike Vietnam, Americans "were viciously attacked from Afghanistan." Fair enough, but if the Soviets had launched an ICBM at us from a platform in Hanoi, then run back to Moscow, we wouldn't have been fighting in the jungle, would we?

2024: Ha, now the president dismisses a nation-building campaign as being too difficult, too long, and too divorced from our interests. (Someone should tell him that building up security forces and governance is nation-building.)

2025: ANV says that the stare-into-the-camera shot was a producer's fault, but I'm not buying that -- it's the only time he's done it in the whole speech!

2026: Life is hard in America, "so we can't simply afford to ignore the price" of the war. Fair enough. But if it's too expensive, then it's too expensive for half-measures. Prez says that this plan is going to cost us "$30 billion this year." Would like to see where he got that number.

2027: "The nation that I'm most interested in building is our own." Good line, but I bet the Republicans will have fun with that one.

2028: Af-Pak a test of our leadership in the world. "America will have to show our strength in the way that we end the wars and prevent conflict." Ok, good. But then: AQ's appearance in other places will have to be confronted by "growing pressure and strong partnership." Er... And dudes in ninja suits and black helicopters, and Tomahawk missiles, and Reaper drones. How about that?

2030: We have to make it clear to people everywhere that America will speak out for their human rights. For at least 18 months.

2031: Man, now he's got to go making me all mushy by talking about how badass America is, and how no one thanks us for being badass, and how we underwrite global security. All true, all awesome. All largely irrelevant to this, but it gives me a semi just the same.

2032: The Prez is rounding into form now. Very good when he gets into the soaring stuff, as expected. A little bit nebulous to the task at hand, but certainly moving.

"Now we must summon all of our might and moral suasion to meet the challenges of a new age." Damnit, we're getting into the goosebumpy stuff.

Anybody expect Dick Cheney to give a damn about how united we were when this war began, or how rancor has poisoned our discourse?

2035: "America, we are passing through a time of great trial. And the message that we send in the midst of these storms must be clear: that our cause is just, our resolve unwavering. We will go forward with the confidence that right make might, and with the commitment to forge an America that is safer, a world that is more secure, and a future that represents not the deepest of fears, but the highest of hopes."

Unfortunately, the highest of hopes ain't gonna square this thing away in 18 months. Not with 30,000 troops, and probably not with 300,000 troops.

What we were missing here was any sort of elucidation of HOW THIS IS GOING TO HAPPEN. Are we going with the McChrystal plan? Some other variant of counterinsurgency? An oil spots approach that concentrates on population centers, as has seemed to be the case over the last several weeks?

We heard some vague noises about training and mentoring Afghan forces, and it sounded a lot like what President Bush and his folks said about Iraq in 2005: Iraqi security forces that are capable of maintaining order in their own country are our exit strategy, as they stand up, we'll stand down, etc etc etc.

But what exactly are they going to stand up to? Getting their asses kicked by insurgents? If 100,000 ISAF troops can't quell the insurgency in 2009, and 130-140,000 can't in 2010, then how will even 200,000 ANA do so in 2011 without American/ISAF enablers? Without American kinetic power?

BOTTOM LINE DOWN BOTTOM (to reverse a military custom): 30,000 additional troops, as if you didn't already know that. They'll start getting there in the late spring or early summer of next year, which the President insists is as quickly as they could possibly have done so even if he'd made this call three months ago. (What he didn't mention is that he's basically giving you everything that's available, there, that there's not a whole lot of slack in the ARFORGEN cycle to ship over another 40K for GEN McChrystal's "low risk" option.)

42 comments:

  1. 2019: Agree, but decided it was the fault of the producer who chose which shot to use. In all seriousness, how many people in Afghanistan are watching this?

    ReplyDelete
  2. '...but if the Soviets had launched an ICBM at us from a platform in Hanoi, then run back to Moscow, we wouldn't have been fighting in the jungle, would we?'

    My friend, you're doing a great job, but that is a ridiculous comparison.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Score one for populism: "the nation I'm most interested in building is our own." I felt like he looked right at me through the screen when he said that one!

    ReplyDelete
  4. 2031: There goes the world, sleeping under the blanket of freedom we provide...love that shit.

    ReplyDelete
  5. So, our guys will be there by mid-2010 and back by mid-2011? Sounds optimistic.

    ReplyDelete
  6. At least he mentioned the allies - that's a pleasant change.

    ReplyDelete
  7. 'Sounds optimistic.'

    That's an understatement.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Notice the wiggle room he left himself on that, though? Where he referenced 'responsible withdrawal' and 'conditions on the ground.'

    ReplyDelete
  9. Jaysus, the supposed expert on CNN is making an ass of himself saying it is currently a 'US war.' Apparently the UK, Canada, and Dutch in the South don't count.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Jaysus, the supposed expert on CNN is making an ass of himself saying it is currently a 'US war.' Apparently the UK, Canada, and Dutch in the South don't count.

    Who's the "expert", Tom Ricks?

    ReplyDelete
  11. But what exactly are they going to stand up to? Getting their asses kicked by insurgents? If 100,000 ISAF troops can't quell the insurgency in 2009, and 130-140,000 can't in 2010, then how will even 200,000 ANA do so in 2011 without American/ISAF enablers? Without American kinetic power?

    Not to sound like a broken record, but while I think you broadly have a point, I don't think your arithmetic captures the whole picture. It's not a linear relationship. As Gates said back in May, it's also about momentum.

    ReplyDelete
  12. No, some Aussie - Mike Weir (sp?) I think.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Interesting that Amanpour is the hawk on the panel, arguing that while difficult, it is possible to make progress even in 18 months.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Hey dude, no one would love it more than me if the ANSF or US forces could get momentum in the next year in a half. Love that. But how? Is momentum gonna come from really training those Afghans up good? From professionalization of their force? From security sector reform?

    Momentum comes from clearing areas of the enemy and establishing a credible presence there. I don't see how that's going to be possible on this kind of timeline, and our operations in Helmand last summer aren't encouraging.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Mike Weir (sp?) I think.

    Well no wonder he sounded dumb -- he's a professional golfer! (Also a Canadian, woot (for you).)

    ReplyDelete
  16. In all seriousness, how many people in Afghanistan are watching this?

    ANV, since it was 5:30AM when it started, I would say zip. I know that was probably rhetorical...

    ReplyDelete
  17. (Someone should tell him that building up security forces and governance is nation-building)

    And that a lot of COIN has to do with nation-building, too. Are we having second thoughts about McChrystal's strategy here? Or just trying to reassure the American people that we will not spend more money rebuilding Kabul than the American economy?

    ReplyDelete
  18. ANV, since it was 5:30AM when it started, I would say zip. I know that was probably rhetorical...

    Yeah, can anyone explain what the hell is up with Afghanistan being a half-hour off everyone else?

    Just to clarify, I am being totally serious here. Kabul is 9.5 hours ahead of DC.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Are we having second thoughts about McChrystal's strategy here?

    I'm not sure anyone's having second thoughts -- I think the second thoughts already done been had. This speech was all about restricting our goals vis-a-vis Afghan government and ANSF to whatever it will take to get us the hell out in the medium term, which is to say Iraq 2005 all over again.

    ReplyDelete
  20. I have to be honest, I have seen little evidence in public that those at the top have a very deep understanding of COIN, or, to be honest, much beyond fairly traditional state-centric conceptions of security. I could be wrong - I certainly hope I am - but from my experience, this is a problem across most national security establishments in the West, and international security institutions in general.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Gulliver,

    Did he restrict the goals from where they were in the past? I didn't hear it, but I only saw it in real time--will have a chance to go over it again tonight/tomorrow.

    Also, I think you are right about how it sounds like Iraq 2005 all over again--down to where sometimes I don't think he sounded any different than President Bush.

    ReplyDelete
  22. I watched it on Fox, natch.

    "Drink Crispin!"

    Does Crispin Hard Apple Cider from Trader Joe's count? Aw, don't be mean Inkspots kidz, I can't ever drink the hard stuff. Plus, on a Tuesday nite? What am I? A loser?

    "Michael Ware"

    Every time I see that guy on CNN, I think: decaf, dude, switch to DECAF!!! He's oddly attractive, though. Er, sorry.


    Okay, more seriouser thoughts:

    1. Dear G-d, those young people at West Point in the audience look, well, SO young! It makes my heart ache just a little, you know? We don't deserve the likes of you! Well, I sure don't.

    2. If I put my "everyday person" hat on, which I can do, easily (because, how did I end up reading COIN-ish blogs again?) I'd actually think it was a good speech. Seriously, he'll stabilize the poll numbers for a day or two; he sounded strong, calm, and empathetic. I'd be all, "well, he's just doing his best in a bad situation." And it would all be new to me and sound reasonable.

    Surprised you with that, didn't I? I can be nice to democrats, progressives.

    3. Now. On to PAKISTAN! What's this new strategy? The one where we give more money to Pakistan to do our proxy-ish bidding? Can you call a sullen client* relationship that's ~50 years old "new" when the same patterns keep repeating? Yes, yes, we need to do this, I understand - we need them to squeeze one side of the border while we squeeze the other; then try and calm down any Pak irritation. I get it. I remain, shall we say, skeptical?

    4. I sent a bunch of COIN books to the COIN library (Afghanquest requested them on the blog a little while back) and now a colleague and I have collected 20 medical books for the medical library out there, too. Me and one other gal are gonna send 'em out as soon as possible. Dunno why I mention this, except that I might as well do my part although my part is microscopically miniscule and I remain, shall we say, skeptical?

    5. More time to talk and blog comment later - I got work to do, now. Either that or hit the gym.

    6. Later, all.

    ReplyDelete
  23. *Stole "sullen client" from zenpundit, I cannot lie....

    ReplyDelete
  24. I have to be honest, I have seen little evidence in public that those at the top have a very deep understanding of COIN, or, to be honest, much beyond fairly traditional state-centric conceptions of security.

    How is that a surprise MK? Maybe in private it's better but in public, they feel compelled to speak as though they're addressing recalcitrant 12 year olds. COIN would be way too complicated to explain.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Okay, I haven't gone to the gym yet, but I have to add one more thing:


    What is this disparaging of the general public? The general public, those guys and gals who vote and work and pay taxes and send their sons and daughters "over there" may not be as knowledgeable as some of you, but they make a decent effort. They work hard, they come home, they listen to the President's speech, they try hard. You can explain COIN to them, just as I might have to explain a difficult biopsy result to a patient that calls and asks about it. For me to look down on that person is absolutely awful - I have years more training, I'm supposed to be the expert, and the patient is not stupid because they don't understand as much as I do.

    It's not directed at you, Lil, just a general feeling I get on some of the mil/COIN blogs I read. This sort of, "oh, people are too stupid to understand." It rubs me the wrong way.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Madhu, I agree with you completely, we could explain this better. I was merely remarking that in a lot of cases, public statements don't provide much meat for anyone.

    ReplyDelete
  27. "What we were missing here was any sort of elucidation of HOW THIS IS GOING TO HAPPEN. Are we going with the McChrystal plan? Some other variant of counterinsurgency? An oil spots approach that concentrates on population centers, as has seemed to be the case over the last several weeks?"

    I was left wondering this, too. How will the details be elucidated? In the congressional hearings?

    ReplyDelete
  28. Madhu, I think your comment is fair, but I think it's less about capacity and more about willingness. People in general prefer easy answers that fit with their existing understanding of the world. Concepts that demand a reevaluation of that basic understanding are often rejected out of hand, rather than evaluated on their merits.

    To be clear, this is by no means limited to the general public. Most of us on this blog have had the dubious privilege of trying to get mid- to high-level decision makers to engage with unfamiliar concepts and information that doesn't fit their expectations. It ain't pretty.

    ReplyDelete
  29. I was left wondering this, too. How will the details be elucidated? In the congressional hearings?

    Let's hope so. I would expect that to be the case, but I'm not sure how much meat we'll have there, either.

    Madhu -- I've got no truck with the "general public's" lack of understanding, considering the pathetically simplistic explanations they're given by political leaders and the media. Not everyone can be an expert on everything, of course, but when your so-called "experts" speak in platitudes and oversimplifications, it doesn't help, either.

    ReplyDelete
  30. But Gulliver, we have you, Lil, MK, Gunslinger,Alma and well, the whole COIN/contra crowd who write on the net, n'est-ce pas?

    It is precisely that speaking in platitudes and oversimplifications that drives we of the general public to those who can explain in more detail. So thanks for your blog!

    ReplyDelete
  31. This was an email a DC-based cynic sent me today on Obama's speech:

    The speech begins with a link, now with a shelf life eight years old, of al Qaeda planning and training in Afghanistan to the 9/11 attacks. Al Qaeda, of course, is no longer in Afghanistan, but safely ensconced in Pakistan.


    He’s lying about the “attention of our friends” being turned elsewhere. Our friends included Pakistan and Saudi Arabia. They most certainly continued to play a role in Afghanistan, just as our enemies, the Iranians, did. It won’t be the president’s first lie.



    He lies when he claims the Karzai kleptocracy was a “legitimate government.” To most Afghans, it was. But to those then in rebellion, it wasn’t, and the dwindling legitimacy of the central government has allowed the Taliban and other militias to form shadow governments in areas once leaning toward Kabul. As for being “hampered” by the drug trade, key government leaders benefit directly from the trafficking in opium, perhaps the most developed part of their “under-developed economy.”



    He lies by suggesting that he will resource the fight in Afghanistan with the same level of troops we brought to Iraq. He won’t do that. It will still be tens of thousands of troops less than we stuck into Iraq. If Afghanistan really proved as important as Iraq, wouldn’t he match the troop count by 2011?



    He lies by implying that the Pakistan military has gone to war with the “Taliban.” He should have specified for the American people that the Taliban they’re fighting isn’t the same one being helped by ISI for Islamabad’s own cynical reasons.



    He lies when he implies al Qaeda “safe havens” are along the border. He should’ve told the American people that they’re on the wrong side of the border and that we’re not going to go get them. He apparently wants to deny al Qaeda a safe harbor in Afghanistan by allowing them plenty of the same across the fictional border in Pakistan.



    He lies when he says that he sees “first hand” the ravages of war on the families of troops overseas. To see this first hand, one must experience it first hand. Even I haven’t experienced that because I was overseas, not bearing witness to the pain of loss back home as a spouse or child of the dead.



    He lies when he proclaims that Afghanistan is a point for “common security” on this globe. If it truly proved to be so, the world would be flocking to secure it, just as Pakistan wouldn’t mind us bulldozing Islamabad’s own territory to get to al Qaeda.



    He lies when he asserts that al Qaeda that attacked Amman was the same Qaeda that attacked London.

    ReplyDelete
  32. CONTINUED:



    He lies when he implies that the Taliban that are getting Islamabad fits are in the same militias out to get Karzai.



    He lies when he tries to spook everyone with the prospect of the Taliban seizing nuclear weapons, something no one in Pakistan’s military believes is remotely possible.



    He lies when he says that agricultural programs sponsored by the US will pay quick dividends for the Afghan people.



    He lies when he says the US has “no interest in occupying” Afghanistan. If we have no interest, then why have we committed ourselves to occupying through 2011 or thereabouts?



    He lies when he suggests that the US won’t be a future patron to the weak rentier state of Afghanistan.



    He lies when he says that only the US surgeon can cut out the cancer that’s spread to Pakistan, as if the Pakistanis were shooting Taliban there on Sept. 10, 2001. He lies when he says the US and Pakistan share a “common enemy.” If this were so, ISI wouldn’t be dealing with our enemy.



    He lies about Vietnam by making facile comparisons and by suggesting that only through his course of action can we keep sufficient pressure on al Qaeda.



    He lies about the costs of the war, leaving the American people with the notion that it’s $30 billion. That’s the cost of the new troops. He already had asked for $68 billion to fund the war in 2010 and he will need to seek supplemental spending to cover the rest. With other aid to Pakistan and regional allies and other VA expenditures associated with the war (not counting interest on the debt to afford them), we’re well over $100 billion per year in OEF.



    He lies by saying America shows “strength” by umpiring endemic civil wars far from our shores.



    He lies about speaking out about tyranny. If it were not so, then he would hold speeches about our allies in the region such as Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.



    Other than all of that, his candor and sincerity deserved the applause that he received.




    SNLII

    ReplyDelete
  33. CONTINUED (didn't seem to post):


    He lies when he implies that the Taliban that are getting Islamabad fits are in the same militias out to get Karzai.



    He lies when he tries to spook everyone with the prospect of the Taliban seizing nuclear weapons, something no one in Pakistan’s military believes is remotely possible.



    He lies when he says that agricultural programs sponsored by the US will pay quick dividends for the Afghan people.



    He lies when he says the US has “no interest in occupying” Afghanistan. If we have no interest, then why have we committed ourselves to occupying through 2011 or thereabouts?



    He lies when he suggests that the US won’t be a future patron to the weak rentier state of Afghanistan.



    He lies when he says that only the US surgeon can cut out the cancer that’s spread to Pakistan, as if the Pakistanis were shooting Taliban there on Sept. 10, 2001. He lies when he says the US and Pakistan share a “common enemy.” If this were so, ISI wouldn’t be dealing with our enemy.



    He lies about Vietnam by making facile comparisons and by suggesting that only through his course of action can we keep sufficient pressure on al Qaeda.



    He lies about the costs of the war, leaving the American people with the notion that it’s $30 billion. That’s the cost of the new troops. He already had asked for $68 billion to fund the war in 2010 and he will need to seek supplemental spending to cover the rest. With other aid to Pakistan and regional allies and other VA expenditures associated with the war (not counting interest on the debt to afford them), we’re well over $100 billion per year in OEF.



    He lies by saying America shows “strength” by umpiring endemic civil wars far from our shores.



    He lies about speaking out about tyranny. If it were not so, then he would hold speeches about our allies in the region such as Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.



    Other than all of that, his candor and sincerity deserved the applause that he received.




    SNLII

    ReplyDelete
  34. I'm too busy at the moment to respond properly, but a few quick points:

    -I wish I hadn't been quite to jokey in my comments, but you know, when you live blog and mention drinking games....

    -MK: you are correct. It's a classic two-way street, isn't it? The officials should do a better job of educating the public (how well to they understand the concepts, themselves? This may be part of the problem as you stated) and the general public needs to make an effort. This is all about us governing ourselves, right? If you have time to read about Tiger Woods, you could fit in an article or two about Iraq or Afghanistan.

    - Antoinette: indeed. We are lucky to have people like this crew (I'm also particularly fond of karakapend and schmedlap's blogs. I think they help me understand things a bit better).

    - In that spirit, I'll try and be a bit more serious about my reading and comments here, but be warned! It's pretty hard for me to be too fuddy-duddy. Diagnosing things for a living can be like that; you make jokes, because, what else are you going to do? It's bad business, sometimes.

    ReplyDelete
  35. I don't like that email, even as I agree with some of its criticisms. Surely, there can be some disagreement without calling everything a lie? There is political speech and it serves a different purpose from the speech around here. Also, two people can look at the same data and come to different conclusions.

    ReplyDelete
  36. I don't like that email, even as I agree with some of its criticisms. Surely, there can be some disagreement without calling everything a lie? There is political speech and it serves a different purpose from the speech around here. Also, two people can look at the same data and come to different conclusions.

    Madhu took the words right out of my mouth. While I agree with a great deal of what your anonymous "DC-based cynic" has written -- the characterization of the president as a "liar" doesn't strike me as entirely accurate or particularly productive.

    ReplyDelete
  37. But it does reflect the sentiment of the progressive but hawkish wing of the Congress, from which the email arrived (and which he gave me permission to affix here, albeit without his name attached).

    I, too, disagree with aspects of it.

    SNLII

    ReplyDelete
  38. Hawkish progressive in what sense? Exclusively punitive applications of US military force? The "umpiring endemic civil wars" comment in particular would have suggested an isolationist/pacifist position to me.

    ReplyDelete
  39. How you met Bernie Finel or Michael Cohen, MK?

    SNLII

    ReplyDelete
  40. "He lies when he proclaims that Afghanistan is a point for “common security” on this globe. If it truly proved to be so, the world would be flocking to secure it, just as Pakistan wouldn’t mind us bulldozing Islamabad’s own territory to get to al Qaeda." A lot of countries are flocking to it. 44,000 troops now, likely 51,000 after the surge. Russian offers of help have been turned down by the Afghans. We Americans refused to allow Iran and India to help. The only large power that could do a lot more is China; and Obama isn't asking them too. Obama appears satisfied with Chinese aid to Pakistan, and Chinese pressure on Pakistan.

    "He lies when he asserts that al Qaeda that attacked Amman was the same Qaeda that attacked London." Umm. I question if your friend knows what AQ is SNLII.

    "He lies when he implies that the Taliban that are getting Islamabad fits are in the same militias out to get Karzai." TTP, Iyas Kashmiri's brigade 313, and Lashkar al Zil are attacking on both sides of the Durand line.

    "He lies when he tries to spook everyone with the prospect of the Taliban seizing nuclear weapons, something no one in Pakistan’s military believes is remotely possible." SNLII, no offense, but your friend is supremely naive and ill informed.

    "He lies when he says that agricultural programs sponsored by the US will pay quick dividends for the Afghan people." True. They will likely pay large longer term dividends.

    "He lies when he suggests that the US won’t be a future patron to the weak rentier state of Afghanistan." True. GIRoA long term steady state expenditure is ten times current GIRoA annual revenue. But the GIRoA will be a rentier state of many countries; America will be just one of them.

    "He lies when he says that only the US surgeon can cut out the cancer that’s spread to Pakistan," When did Obama say this? Only the Pakistanis and the entire international community working jointly can cut out the cancer.

    "as if the Pakistanis were shooting Taliban there on Sept. 10, 2001." Umm, the Taliban and AQ were mass murdering Shiite and Sufi Pakistanis before 9/11.

    "He lies when he says the US and Pakistan share a “common enemy.” If this were so, ISI wouldn’t be dealing with our enemy." Come again? That doesn't make any sense? In what universe do the Takfiri extremists not pose an existential threat to Pakistan? Yes many ISI regularly help people who mass murder other ISI and Pakistani army. That is why Pakistan is fighting a civil war.

    SNLII, no offense, but your friend has been partly brainwashed by parts of the Pakistani and Saudi security establishments. {Note that large parts of the Pakistani establishment are now fighting the same extremists that other part of the establishment are supporting} Too many CIA members suffer from this affliction; Michael Scheur being top of the list.

    Global extremists are more closely linked than we realize.

    ReplyDelete