Biden: US Could be in Afghanistan Past 2014; Bombing Shakes Capital

Vice President Joe Biden said Tuesday in Kabul that the US might keep troops in Afghanistan after 2014 if asked to do so by the Afghanistan government. He thus reversed his earlier pledge that the US would be out of that country by that date, “come hell or high water.” He has been under pressure to qualify his earlier comment (presumably directed at his Democratic Party base domestically) because the Afghan Taliban and other insurgents are expected to attempt simply to wait out the US if they have fair confidence that it is on the way out. On the other hand, consistent policy is more likely to succeed.

Also in Kabul on Tuesday, a suicide bomber on motorbike killed 4 and wounded 31 when he sidled up next to a minibus carrying Afghan National Directory of Security staffers and detonated his payload. The explosion, near the Parliament building, shook the capital. That he was able to target that NDS minibus suggests to me that it was an inside job, and that someone somewhere in the Afghanistan government let the radical know when and where to attack. Such penetration of the Afghan security forces by Taliban or other insurgents is in turn highly disturbing. This bombing was the third in the capital in the past month, a worrisome sign. But even more unnerving was the successful assassination of a high intelligence official.

The Afghanistan government is claiming that the US military operation in Qandahar and its environs has cost $100 mn..

7 Responses

  1. This is a betrayal by President Obama, a way of copntinuing the war in Afghanistan forever or a way of forever colonizing Afghanistan. This is completely shameful.

  2. In Afghanistan we are fighting what is called a “Protracted War” in military theory. If you may not know what this refers to, google “On Protracted War” and read just a bit. But if this is too much trouble, here is a hint. It is the antithesis of what may be called a war of quick decision, where combat results in any particular battle are important.

    Politics are the core element of the conflict, and perseverance. Mao tse-Dung (who wrote “On Protracted War”) believed the theory that “weapons decide everything” constituted a mechanical approach to the question of war and is a subjective and one-sided view in instance of irregular and asymmetric conflicts, especially on the Asian mainland.

    He saw not only weapons and the strength of armies, but also people. Weapons are an important factor in a Protracted War, but not the decisive factor; it is people, not things that are decisive.

    The enemy attacks, we withdraw. The enemy camps, we harass. The enemy withdraws, we pursue.

    And as for the Pashtun (most of whom reside east of the phony Durand Line in Pakistan, where outside of occasional Predator drone strikes with Hellfire missiles they largely have a strategic sanctuary) the more we kill, the more they hate our guts.

    And so it is in Afghanistan. To be sure, there are many differences between China in the 1930’s, or Vietnam, and the Afghanistan conflict today, but it is the similarities that will be of consequence.

    Logistically, it is a battle at the end of the world (landlocked central Asia) that is estimated in direct costs alone to be about one million dollars per man in country per year, and where a single gallon of gasoline, at delivery to one of the FOBs in Afghanistan, costs about $400 per single gallon! All borrowed and added to our deficits, because no American would agree to pay war taxes to cover this massive expense.

    Reason is a weak sister compared to raw and inflamed emotions. I have a favorite quote on this from Edward Gibbon. He wrote: (appropriately from The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire): It is well known that, while reason embraces a cold mediocrity, our passions hurry us with rapid violence over the space, which lies between the most opposite extremes.

  3. ” … the Afghan Taliban and other insurgents are expected to attempt simply to wait out the US if they have fair confidence that it is on the way out.”

    Oh, for crying out loud! Will you please give these tedious, tendentious canards (like “waiting us out”) a rest?

    What, I must ask, has motivated “the Afghan Taliban and other insurgents” for the past ten fucking years when America WAS NOT on the way out? Do you mean to say that the indigenous freedom fighters of Pashtunistan (on both sides of the Durand Line) have fought us American invaders for a decade BECAUSE WE PLANNED TO STAY but now plan to go on fighting us for three more years BECAUSE WE PLAN TO LEAVE? Have you given even a moment’s thought to how stupidly mindless this “waiting us out” bullshit sounds?

    To the best of my knowledge, the Vietnamese still live in Vietnam in 2011 while I left there in early 1972 (followed by the last remaining American military forces in 1975). I guess the Vietnamese “simply waited us out” (from 1945 to 1975) huh? For THIRTY YEARS? Like they ever intended to live anywhere else but where they already live and we don’t!

    And you claim to have some passing acquaintance with the subject of History?

    Take this one to the bank, Professor: American military forces will leave Afghanistan with their tails tucked proudly between their legs — but they WILL leave. All other foreign invaders before them have. The only question involves how much more stupidly the American government will continue to act and for how long and at what enormously ruinous cost to Americans and Afghans alike.

    As W. C. Fields put it: “If at first you don’t succeed, try again. Then quit. No sense being a damn fool about it.”

    As in Southeast Asia four decades ago, so too in Iraq and Afghanistan today: America has a pack of damn fools running America (and a few other impoverished nations) into the ground out of a fear that to acknowledge past stupidity will make our friends cease to respect us and our enemies cease to fear us — as if our continuing stupidity hasn’t already accomplished precisely that result.

    Apparently, you haven’t yet gotten the news that the tipping point has turned the corner and begun connecting the dots on the ink-stained, flypaper dominoes in the tunnel at the end of the light.

    • I agree with all that youy say, but it does not preclude the tactical reality that once the invader isscheduled to leave, everybody including the quislings doies the arithmetic, and it changes how to fight the fight. Active fighting can generally be reduced to a level consistent with keeping the invader from changing his mind, while planningfor the day after. Algeria, 1959-1962, comes to mind.

      • “The invasion of one’s mind by ready-made phrases (lay the foundations, achieve a radical transformation) can only be prevented if one is constantly on guard against them, and every such phrase anesthetizes a portion of one’s brain. …”

        “Political language — and with variations this is true of all political parties, from Conservatives to Anarchists — is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give the appearance of solidity to pure wind. One cannot change this all in a moment, but one can at least change one’s own habits, and from time to time one can even, if one jeers loudly enough, send some worn-out and useless phrase — some jackboot, Achilles’ heel, hotbed, melting pot, acid test, veritable inferno or other lump of verbal refuse — into the dustbin where it belongs.” George Orwell, Politics and the English Language“(1946).

        My comments regarding the useless lump of verbal refuse, “wait them out,” had to do with Orwell’s admonition to think in concrete and meaningful terms and not with whatever marginal tactical decision the quisling Hamid Karzai may make to retire comfortably in either Dubai or Huntington Beach, California alongside the former Premier of South Vietnam, Nguyen Cao Ky. I merely do my part to jeer at the Orwellian misnomers as loudly and often as I can.

  4. What about the soldiers who spelled out 350 in sand bags a couple of years ago before the Climate Summit in Copenhagen. Realistic efforts to stop global warming and keep it below 2C of overall rise require peace and a radical shift of goals. The Earth is well above what is considered a safe level of greenhouse gasses.

  5. ” … consistent policy is more likely to succeed.”

    “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

    “If at first you don’t succeed, try again. Then quit. No sense being a damn fool about it.” — W. C. Fields

    A consistently bad policy — namely, the foreign military occupation of Afghanistan — will not succeed simply by virtue of consistently extending the stupidity in perpetuity. On the other hand, a prompt and complete withdrawal of American military forces from Afghanistan will not fail simply by virtue of its inconsistency vis-a-vis the present disastrous policy of mindlessly “staying the curse.”

    Consistency for its own sake — i.e., “narcissistic solipsism,” has nothing to recommend it in the case of America’s ruinously demented “policy” of continuing the existing “policy” of militarily ravaging Afghanistan (not to mention the U. S. Army, Marines, and National Guard) simply because some other cosmic nitwit once implemented the policy in a fit of historic hubris and national official malfeasance.

    As we used to say back in the Nixon-Kissinger Fig Leaf Contingent (the forerunner of today’s Bush-Obama Buy Time Brigade): “We lost the day we started and we win the day we stop.” Consistent stupidity will continue losing by staying. Inconsistent wisdom (a rarity among America’s official “elite”) would win by stopping. This really does not constitute rocket science.

    And just for the record: upwards of 60% of the American people consider (and have considered for years) America’s policy in Afghanistan “not worth the bloodshed and financial cost.” This level of public resistance to current policy hardly constitutes “the base of the Democratic Party.”

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