American Public: Invasion of Afghanistan a Mistake, Speed up Withdrawal

(By Sarah Lazare)

More than twelve years after the initial invasion, U.S. public opinion of the so-called Good War in Afghanistan appears to be souring.

A clear majority of people in the U.S. say the 2001 decision to attack Afghanistan as a response to the events of September 11th was a mistake and that the current withdrawal of U.S. troops is not moving fast enough, according to an Associated Press-Gesellschaft für Konsumforschung poll (pdf) released Wednesday.

"I'm glad to know the majority of Americans now acknowledge what we've been saying all along," said Suraia Sahar of Afghans United for Justice in an interview with Common Dreams. "This war continues to have disastrous consequences. I can only hope this time a lesson has been learned."

The poll finds that 57 percent say the United States did the "wrong thing" by "going to war in Afghanistan."

Based on results from 1,367 adults with a reported margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points, the poll finds that 57 percent say the United States did the "wrong thing" by "going to war in Afghanistan." By contrast, 40 percent said the U.S. did the "right thing."

Fifty-three percent said the withdrawal of troops is moving too slowly, 34 percent said the pace is good, and 10 percent said it is too fast.

A slim 16 percent of respondents said they expect the situation in Afghanistan to improve over the next year, with 32 percent saying they expect it to worsen—numbers that reflect a decline in hope since the same question was asked in 2009.

Six out of 10 respondents in the U.S. also said they approve of an interim deal struck with Iran in late November.

The poll comes as the Obama administration pushes for ratification of a so-called Bilateral Security Agreement with Afghanistan, which would extend U.S. military presence far beyond Obama's 2014 withdrawal deadline, grant U.S. troops and contractors immunity from Afghan law, and allow U.S. troops to continue raiding Afghan homes.

The deal is currently stalled over Afghan President Hamid Karzai's refusal to sign it, citing demands for the U.S. to repatriate Afghan Guantanamo Bay prisoners, launch peace talks with the Taliban, and stop raiding Afghan homes.

"Invading Afghanistan is a national mistake that must be addressed now and into the future," said Maggie Martin of Iraq Veterans Against the War in an interview with Common Dreams. "We cannot ignore the possibility of 10 more years of occupation, the legacy of war that continues to impact the people of Afghanistan, and the lack of care and transitional support for hundreds of thousands of veterans who have served there."

"American history tells us it was wrong. Afghan history tells us it was wrong," said Sahar. "The war was doomed to fail before it began, and I fear we've still learned nothing."

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Mirrored from Commondreams

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Related video:

NDTV Interview: “US can’t be aggressive, intimidatory: Afghanistan president Hamid Karzai”

38 Responses

  1. Xavier Best

    This reminds me of the Chomsky lecture when he made the distinction between elites who thought the invasion of Vietnam was a mistake and the public who found the war fundamentally wrong and immoral, not a mistake. I think the invasion of Afghanistan meets the latter characterization and it’s pretty disturbing that it’s not presented as an option in this poll.

  2. With military bases worldwide, why would anyone imagine that the US wouldn’t retain a base in Afghanistan?

    The deadline for Karzai to sign the BSA was extended three times by Washington. Perhaps this is because the BSA matters much more to the US than it does to Afghanistan.

    By having a secure base in Afghanistan, you keep control of Iran, Pakistan, China and you get access to the overland gateway to Central Asia.

    It’s the continuation of our empire’s hegemony under the helm of military power.

    • “With military bases worldwide, why would anyone imagine that the US wouldn’t retain a base in Afghanistan?”

      Because we didn’t retain one in Iraq.

      The US does have bases all over the world, but they tend to be in more stable countries that are solid allies. Afghanistan, like Iraq, is neither.

      There was a time (Jan 2001-Jan 2009) that US foreign policy was being run by people who thought that having large American combat forces operating out of bases in war-torn countries like Iraq was a good idea, but those people have had a rough few years.

      • Joe – Iraq had no strategic interest for the US. Our objective there was to aggravate the Sunni-Shia divide and to protect Israel (by making Iraq unstable, weak and too involved with internal strife to pose any future threat to it). Mission accomplished.

        Besides, we’ve already got bases in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE, and Bahrain. I doubt a couple in Iraq would have made a difference anyways.

        • Umwut?

          Iraq, located on the border between Iran and Saudi Arabia, was intended to the new basing country for the troops previously stationed in Saudi Arabia – that is, the main home for the major land forces the US keeps in the region. The Bush administration was quite open about its desire to remove the forces from the KSA, and to use Iraqi bases to “project power throughout the region.”

          You seem to be engaging in a common fallacy people fall into when looking at American actions in the Middle East: to observe what has happened, and then make up a narrative to explain why it was exactly what we intended all along.

        • Our objective there was to aggravate the Sunni-Shia divide

          I see this absurdity surprisingly often. Look at American regional policy over the decades: propping up Mubarak and the House of Saud, backing Saddam as a check on Iran, throwing Iraq out of Kuwait. American policy has always been about promoting stability in the region so the oil will keep flowing. Promoting Sunni-Shiite conflict would run directly contrary to that goal.

          The Bush administration’s close friends in the House of Saud certainly didn’t want to see Shiite-Sunni conflict in the region.

  3. The Taliban are going to start negotiating to gain, not to compromise. They’re already negotiating cease fires at the provincial level.

    In the long term, the Taliban will be allowed to dominate politics in the Pashtun provinces of the south and perhaps east (eastern Pashtuns loathe the Taliban) in exchange for a national cease fire. The Taliban will most likely resemble Hizbollah’s role in Lebanon. The only downside is that Pashtun and non-Pashtun refugees will stream to the north and west of Afghanistan and into Pakistan.

    I don’t believe that the Taliban won’t be able to come back until full power. It took them years to overrun Northern and Western Afghanistan in the 90s (and had their military not been bolstered by Arabs, Chechens and Pakistanis, the Taliban would have withered). It should be noted that in their pre-2001 heyday, the Taliban only ontrolled 95% of Afghanistan.

  4. The initial decision to attack Afghanistan and root out Al-Qaeda, and the Taliban who gave Al-Qaeda a privileged sanctuary and training facilities from which to wage war against the United States and the West, was correct and necessary. We had been attacked in an Act of War, and the perpetrators and their enablers had to be dealt with militarily.

    Our problem in Afghanistan was after we had rooted out Al-Qaeda and the Taliban, and after Karzai in Kabul and other warlords around the country began asserting power in their fiefdoms (much as had always been the case in Afghanistan), we attempted that fool’s errand called “nation-building” in a place that lacked the very concept of, not to mention the critical mass necessary to build, a nation.

    The war on the ground has been “nation-building” under the rubric of counter-insurgency. What we should have been doing all along, and what we should continue doing as necessary, is counter-terrorism. We should put Afghan leaders on notice that the gravy train is ending, and as long as they control anti-US elements that would do us harm, we will stay out. But if anti-US elements gain a foothold again, we will use all means (counter-terrorism, not counter-insurgency), including the continued use of drones and the insertion of Special Operations Forces, to counter such elements. But by all means, let’s get out of the counter-insurgency, ground war business. The sooner the better.

    • You know, Bill, you kvetch about what you call my “rants.” But no matter how long or how often you play your single-note bugle, the whole enterprise has been a fool’s errand. Since when did your people “deal with the perpetrators and their enablers militarily?” The troops killed a few of them, Obama was allowed to escape, thanks to the incompetence and venality of our rulers and their generals and the idiocy of our doctrines and tactics. And it went from that not to “nation building,” but just more of the same Milo Minderbinder stuff that was Vietnam — fool’s-errand patrols, finding IEDs by driving or walking over them, getting our brave troops’ butts kicked because there is no way, including nuclear obliteration, to “win” asymmetric warfare, even with our expensive toys and tools and weapons. The whole notion of the Game is fatally flawed, and the only people who benefit are the SOBs who sell the $400 gasoline and XM-25 “Game Changers” and move those big blocks of greenbacks around, skimming a bit and committing every kind of fraud and corruption. Did you see that 2103 is a bumper-crop year (yet again) for opium production? And what did your Loya Jirga come up with, again? And how does anyone do “counter-terrorism” when the definition of “terrorist” keeps morphing to meet some new doctrine or short-term BS need? You really think that even 100,000 troops and another 100k “contractors” and however many special-ops you want to deploy can stop all the “terrorism,” by kidnap and murder and kicking in doors and playing from “intel” that’s provided by people who laugh at our idiocy and know that we will soon be slapped on the butts by the gates of the Khyber Pass? You sneer at me, all smug in your deep understanding of Conventional Risk Play, but the emperor pretty clearly is lumbering around buck-naked.

      The frame you work from is like some kind of Escher pen-and-ink — impossible to build in the real world. But it obviously satisfies some need in your soul. And because it’s backed by the full faith and credit of the Empire, there’s obviously no shaking it. Good on you for at least distinguishing “nation building,” bad on you for trying to draw a principled distinction between “counter-insurgency” and “counter-terrorism,” and it would make no difference if your distinction had even become “doctrine”– the creep from A’stan I to A’stan II was as inevitable as nightfall, given what “we” have for a military/industrial/”security”/policy/imperial Great Ape riding our backs.

      As the hippies asked about “my” war (you snidely discount my own experience and observations, I know), who’s going to be the last GI to die THIS time? Will there be a “Wall” for the troops “long past review” to go and wail at? Way past time, $6 trillion past time (just THIS time), to not just try to get our troops out without too many more dead and dismembered on all sides, and still more compounding of the felonies. Time to change the whole structure of the political military social ecology. But not to worry, of course — the thunderous, ponderous, mortal inertia and momentum and “national interests” are all aligned with your frame and narrative…

      Now pick a phrase out of what I wrote and impeach away. Merry Christmas. Do our troops get cranberry sauce and stuffing with their cooked gooses this year?

      • Actually, Mr. McPhee, there is a very real difference between counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency (i.e., “nation-building”) The bulk of your comment would seem to agree with me that after we rooted out Al-Qaeda, the on-going ground war (counter-insurgency) and millions spent to advance “good governance” and to finance a false economy was a “fools errand.” It was blood and treasure wasted and, in the end will have accomplished nothing because Afghanistan lacks the critical mass necessary to build a “nation.”

        Glad to see we are in basic agreement on this issue.

        • Sure, Bill, JT seems to be in broad agreement with you without realizing it, but on the other hand, he sure did nail you on “your loya jirga.”

          Seriously, Bill, what were you thinking? ;-)

        • “The answer to your question, Mr. Watson, is had it not been for 9/11 we would have had no interest in Afghanistan.”

          Okay, that’s settled. It’s crucial too. Let’s proceed to look at the nature of our interests in Afghanistan created by a terror attack in Manhattan perpetrated by a Saudi. Did that attack make it cost effective to occupy the country and to subject it to a decade of warfare? Neoconservatives with obvious conflicts of interest might think so, but if the American people had fully understood it do you think their love of video games would have trumped their common sense?

          ” After 9/11, however, the U.S. response was not to wreak “vengeance” on Afghanistan;”

          Do you think the Afghans could tell the difference when that is objectively what we did in response to 9/11, what we did to a primitive peasant society in whose land and culture you acknowledge we had no national interest, call it what you will.

          The victims were the entirely innocent Afghan and American and to some extent Pakistani people with the last part of it continuing today. That can’t be said to have been done in our interests, especially long term. It was either vengeance with ‘bring ‘em on’ Bushian macho or the clearly Zionist doctrine of neoconservatism. One can take his pick. I don’t think there is another legitimate explanation.

          We vastly exceeded the doctrine of “hot pursuit” and mounted a general invasion and occupation of the country totally out of proportion with any legitimate beef we may have had with the Afghan statesman, Mullah Omar, and a few of his colleagues.

          As always, no Israeli warriors were included despite what we knew about the motivations of the Saudi, bin Laden, and al Queda ideology in attacking us from Afghanistan.

          “… it was to root out Al-Qaeda and the Taliban leaders who granted him a base of operations for his terrorist activities.”

          Anyone can express the Bush/Cheney hasbara political line while disregarding both their behavior and the national interest, but it doesn’t take the larger picture into account. A single example is neoconservative doctrine then ascendant in the Whitehouse.

          “In granting Al-Qaeda this base, Mullah Omar was fully implicated in Bin Laden’s terrorist activities. The attacks on 9/11 were acts of war that fully justified the U.S. response. (Israel, by the way, had nothing to do with our response to the 9/11 attacks.)”

          “Fully implicated, justified, nothing to do, etc.” No offense, Bill, but this is hopelessly superficial and thus gives the wrong impression. When you have no discernable national interest there, you don’t invade and occupy a nation wholesale because you failed to capture a couple of criminals. That’s what the limits in the hot pursuit doctrine are about.

          But more than anything the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan disregarded our obvious national interests. And if on nothing else, that judgement is based on the history of the Afghan response to invasions by outsiders to say nothing of any rational cost/benefit analysis. Our leadership screwed it up, but why?

          Bush and Cheney were acting out neoconservative theory and that go it alone fanaticism had everything to do with Israel and virtually nothing to do with the welfare of the American people.

    • Bill, I don’t understand the logic of your first paragraph.

      9/11 was a result of flying airplanes and training for that which took place in the United States by Saudi nationals at flight schools here. The plan itself could have been concocted in someone’s living room, having nothing to do with weapons training or camps in Afghanistan.

      In the event, bin Laden was not captured, did not stop plotting and communicating with Al-Qaeda, but a whole heck of a lot of people were killed by U.S. forces who would not have been able to locate the United States on a map.

      As we now know, there is no “rooting out” of such indigenous groups as the Taliban who always retain the capacity to bounce back and, in fact, are creating huge headaches for Pakistan, who promoted the movement in its early days.

      The fool’s errand was the whole concept of the “war on terror”, one that cannot be won any more than a war on anger, or dismay or discontent, but that by its conduct produces more who wish to engage in terror. This continues with the counter-productive drone strikes.

      The fact is, 9/11 demanded some serious killing and destruction by popular American demand, so a target was painted on Afghanistan, demands were made of Mullah Omar whose area of control was a tiny part of the country, and off we went. I still recall a large photo in the Chicago Sun-Times of a female fighter pilot smiling broadly in front of her parked plane on an aircraft carrier, with the caption, “She’s bombing the Taliban!” What fun.

      Nobody is smiling now, but a whole lot of people over there have been killed in addition to our own losses and we’ve spent billions upon billions to accomplish…what?

      • You are entitled to your own opinion, Mr. Brown, but not to your own facts. The fact is 9/11 was not “concocted in someone’s living room.” It was Bin Laden’s plan, regardless of where flight training occurred. The terrorist training camps Bin Laden ran in Afghanistan were to established to do just that, train terrorists. And Mullah Omar was instrumental in offering Bin Laden sanctuary to run his enterprise out of Afghanistan. All of that was reason enough to militarily root out Al-Qaeda. That it went badly at Tora Bora does not alter the basic justification for the U.S. response.

        • Bill:

          Criticism is welcome, but it should be directed at what was written. I wrote “the plan COULD HAVE BEEN concocted in someone’s living room.” The training camps were an excuse for our attack. Even if we could have vaporized Afghanistan, and it’s still true today, another terrorist plan could be hatched any time and any where.

      • “Mullah Omar whose area of control was a tiny part of the country,”:

        In point of fact, the Taliban controlled about 90% of the country, with only a small part of the far north/northwest in Northern Alliance hands on 9/11.

        The bases operated by Omar’s funder and son-in-law, Osama bin Laden, were absolutely in the areas controlled by the Taliban government.

        BTW, about those ‘counter-productive drone strikes’ – where, exactly, are all of those increased terrorist attacks that, I’ve been assured for years, are their inevitable result?

    • During the dozen years between the collapse of the Soviet Empire in 1989 and 9/11, what compelling national interest did we have in Afghanistan? The answer, damn it, is none.

      In fact, if one discounts the prospect of Soviet imperialism, did we ever before 9/11 have such an interest in that country? Again, the answer is no.

      Right or wrong the British had an empire to defend in that region. We did not. And the idea that we might nevertheless assume such responsibilities just for the hell of it makes no sense whatever.

      More particularly, after 9/11 what interest did we have in Afghanistan other than the “hot pursuit” of bin Laden, a Saudi? Punishing the Taliban for Al Queda’s crime meant, of course, subduing the entire country and that led to nation building. How, pray tell, was that in our national interest?

      Okay, let’s look.. Was Afghanistan a threat to our access to Persian Gulf oil? As a matter of fact, no.

      What did Bush, Cheney and the neocons think they were doing regarding Afghanistan other than protecting the Gulf region and the interests of Israel against the rest of the Muslim World? I believe it to be fair to reject the crack brain theory that we had to defend “our” oil pool from control by other great powers. And that leaves Israel at the top of the heap of our motivations. We were to deliver an improvement of conditions in the neighborhood, flatten them all and let the Zionists sort ‘em out in terms of hegemony in the region. And in fact that’s exactly what was being talked about inside the Administration regarding both Iraq and Afghanistan, that we were doing it to protect Israel’s position in the region. (It is discussed in ‘The Israel Lobby’ by Mearsheimer and Walt)

      The Muslim World is gigantic and strategically located. Unlike tiny Israel, we Americans do have national and global interests in that immense region as a whole. Israel, a tiny regional power, does not. So, what else is there in the mix except taking vengeance for 9/11 in a fashion which would benefit Israel, our “ally” (cough, choke, gasp) by by visiting destruction and terror on her Islamic neighbors far and near? After all it’s been Iraq I, Afghanistan, Iraq II and now the pressure is to attack Iran and syria. And of course the USA is to do the attacking. In whose interest is all this mayhem? Certainly not ours.

      • The answer to your question, Mr. Watson, is had it not been for 9/11 we would have had no interest in Afghanistan. After 9/11, however, the U.S. response was not to wreak “vengeance” on Afghanistan; it was to root out Al-Qaeda and the Taliban leaders who granted him a base of operations for his terrorist activities. In granting Al-Qaeda this base, Mullah Omar was fully implicated in Bin Laden’s terrorist activities. The attacks on 9/11 were acts of war that fully justified the U.S. response. (Israel, by the way, had nothing to do with our response to the 9/11 attacks.)

        I agree with you about the futility of “nation-building” that followed. Nation-building never works when attempted by outsiders because it requires a certain critical mass consisting of a middle class, a certain standard of living, rule of law, and various other institutions. And most of all, it is accomplished (if it is accomplished at all) once the people themselves engage in it.

    • Our problem in Afghanistan was after we had rooted out Al-Qaeda and the Taliban, and after Karzai in Kabul and other warlords around the country began asserting power in their fiefdoms (much as had always been the case in Afghanistan), we attempted that fool’s errand called “nation-building”

      I think you’re leaving out something when you offer “nation building,” discussed as some sort of altruistic mission, vs. counter-terrorism, as if dispensing with al Qaeda was the only national-interest-based action the Bush administration envisioned there. As the Iraq War, and the low priority they put on al Qaeda both before 9/11 and from 2002 forward, demonstrate, these people believed very strongly in Great Game geopolitics. They believed in toppling hostile governments, installing client regimes, and locating American military forces in those formerly-hostile countries in order to project American power.

      Yes, they wanted to nation-build in Afghanistan, but as a means to the end of establishing a reliable client state to be “an ally in the War on Terror.”

      You’re right about policy going forward, but it’s important to understand what brought us to this position in the first place.

  5. It’s very easy to understand that the US citizenry is tired of our military involvement in Afghanistan after all these years and all the mistakes.that we’ve made and the lack of clear benefit.

    The wisdom of full withdrawal is also unclear.

  6. The focus here is on the American invasion of Afghanistan, a decade-long effort involving tens of thousands of troops in the country.

    It’s worth going back over the timeline and remembering how and when that happened.

    The Taliban was driven out of Kabul not by Americans but by the Northern Alliance. This took place on November 12, 2001. There were fewer than 1000 American troops in the entire country.

    The battle of Tora Bora, which could have been and should have been the end of the action, took place from December 12-17 2001. The total number of western ground troops involved in the action was in the dozens.

    The invasion of Afghanistan took place in 2002, after the Taliban had fallen, and after al Qaeda had been routed from their home bases and all but annihilated.

    People talk, rightly, about the invasion of Iraq being an effort to achieve geo-political goals, with the connection to terrorism being merely an overlay for public consumption, but this point is made much less frequently about Afghanistan.

    The Bush administration carried out a response to the 9/11 attacks, and then it carried out the invasion of Afghanistan.

    • “The Taliban was driven out of Kabul not by Americans but by the Northern Alliance.”

      The Northern Alliance drove the Taliban out of Kabul with the critical assistance of the CIA’s Special Activities Division (SAD) units and U.S. military Special Operations Forces, with the U.S. Air Force providing tactical air support.

      John Lehman, Secretary of the Navy in the Reagan Administration, wrote the following in an Op-Ed in the “Washington Post” regarding the defeat of the Taliban.

      “What made the Afghan campaign [the defeat of the Taliban] a landmark in the U.S. Military’s history is that it was prosecuted by Special Operations forces from all the services, along with Navy and Air Force tactical power. Operations by the Afghan Northern Alliance and the CIA were equally important and fully integrated.”

      • No question, Bill, American air support and organizing on the ground was a necessary component to the Norther Alliance’s victory.

        My point was not to claim that US action played no role in the fall of the Taliban, but to point out that there were two different actions taken: toppling the Taliban/routing al Qaeda took place in 2001. The invasion of Afghanistan took place after that.

        • “My point was not to claim that US action played no role in the fall of the Taliban, but to point out that there were two different actions taken: toppling the Taliban/routing al Qaeda took place in 2001. The invasion of Afghanistan took place after that.”

          The Devil’s in the details. Thanks for pointing this out. So, the full-blown attack and occupation occurred after the justifications for it according to Bill’s analysis were no longer applicable.

          So at that point in time the U.S. no longer had an interest in the invasion of the country but did it anyway.

          At that point, why did we do it? Surely not our need for oil. What else was there unrelated our obsessional connection with Israel?

        • What else was there?

          Iran. China. Central Asia. The Indian subcontinent. Pakistan.

          I think you define American geopolitical interests too narrowly when you insist that everything comes down to Israel.

        • “At that point, why did we do it? Surely not our need for oil. What else was there unrelated our obsessional connection with Israel?”

          The answer is easy, Mr. Watson, we engaged in the war, counter-insurgency, and “nation-building” because we thought we could establish a bulwark and a presence, as well as prevent Afghanistan from slipping back into a backwater sanctuary for terrorists. As I mentioned earlier, I think it was a “fools errand” for reasons I have already stated.

          Nevertheless, the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan had nothing to do with Israel. Your obsession with Israel as the reason we invaded Afghanistan is ludicrous. Israel has never considered Afghanistan a threat, existential or otherwise. And with good reason, because it isn’t. And, no, our purpose was not to establish a pivot from which to launch attacks against any other perceived Israeli threats that might exist in the area. This is fiction made up out of whole cloth.

  7. People who would like a more detailed if slightly suspect depiction of the whole A’ghan I thing ought to read a book by Gary Schroen, one of the vaunted Special Activities Division people Bill brags on. It’s called
    “First In: An Insider’s Account of How the CIA Spearheaded the War on Terror in Afghanistan,” link to cia.gov

    And follow that with Jon Krakauer’s biography of Pat Tillman, who was macho and sucker enough to want to go “Where Men Win Glory: The Odyssey of Pat Tillman,” link to nytimes.com.

    As to those great integrated commands and participation by various services, a cynical observation might be that that was where the money and advancement were flowing — it’s not like the joint operations were actually militarily efficient, let alone “victorious” or “successful,” except when it came to advancing careers and setting the stage for a whole lot of subsequent idiocy to follow.

    • “As to those great integrated commands and participation by various services, a cynical observation might be that that was where the money and advancement were flowing — it’s not like the joint operations were actually militarily efficient, let alone “victorious” or “successful,”

      Umm, is this Orwellion double-speak? Or Lewis Carrol’s Rabbit Hole, Mr. McPhee? The successful operation that drove the Taliban from Kabul was actually not a “success”? Given that the goal of the operation with the Northern Alliance was to drive the Taliban out of Kabul, and given that the goal was accomplished, are you suggesting that it was a “failure”? Clearly we are now in the realm of Alice down the Rabbit Hole!

    • ‘it’s not like the joint operations were actually militarily efficient, let alone “victorious” or “successful,”’

      So…that Taliban wasn’t toppled as the government of Afghanistan? Al Qaeda wasn’t routed?

      You have an odd definition of “victorious” and “successful.”

      • Mr. McPhee is giving us a guided tour of Lewis Carrol’s “Through the Looking Glass,” Joe.

        “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.”
        “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”

      • Joe, and Bill:

        Taking territory and cities and claiming victory as a result is applicable to WW2 with standing armies. It’s not applicable to guerrilla warfare. Vietnam was the perfect example of territory being meaningless. Nothing worked, not saturation bombing, not “strategic hamlets”, not complete defoliation of the environment. Only the complete elimination of the people of the area, destroying the village in order to save it, could work, but only temporarily.

        Indigenous groups have the ability to spring back, as the Taliban has done, because they never disappear, they only fade into the populace, take off anything the identifies them (like the black turban of the Taliban) and wait for their chance. Patience is everything.

        This is why “Mission Accomplished” was such a farce and the Taliban are back. No outside power, regardless of power and wealth, wants to be bled endlessly by a native force that has nowhere to go and every incentive to keep grinding away at the foreign force, disliked no matter how highly that foreign force views its own motive.

        When I read about how Desert Storm of 1991 had cured the Vietnam syndrome that had placed doubt in the minds of the U.S. military, I knew that lessons learned in Vietnam would have to be relearned, and so it has proved to be with Afghanistan and Iraq.

        For a terrific history of Afghanistan, during which many forces have claimed areas large and small only to see their hold collapse, read “The Wars of Afghanistan” by Peter Tomsen.

  8. The War in Afghanistan proved a beneficial cash cow to alot of our contracting companies, some of whom offshored themselves to other countries to shirk paying taxes to the very government that bestowed them such profitable contracts. In addition to a dreadful human cost, including what happened to Afghanis, this war and the Iraq war bankrupted our economy. Too many people in the system kept quiet for fear of their jobs. Anyone who excercised speaking out, was retaliated against. How many times we were told we ‘went in’ to defend ‘freedoms’ for Afghanis and Iraqis, meanwhile many of us could not excercise our own Constitutional rights. What a tragic irony

  9. joe from Lowell said:

    “I think you define American geopolitical interests too narrowly when you insist that everything comes down to Israel.”

    It doesn’t and that’s inherent to the problem. It’s quite the opposite. American geopolitical interests and responsibilities are probably more broad than those of any other country. That’s precisely why they frequently conflict with those of Israel which is a tiny regional power.

    The nature of the relationship, which oddly enough is grossly humiliating, has cost us much of our potential for leadership at the global level and earned us the contempt of the entire Muslim world, and justly so. That’s quite an accomplishment for a country of six million people. It boils down to the fact that we have no choice but to enable enable her in her oppression of Muslim peoples, and at the same time can neither influence nor part from her. Her Lobby has our political class in a state of abject paralysis. There has never been anything like it in our entire history.

  10. Regarding the invasion of Afghanistan Hunter said:

    “At that point (when both the Taliban and al Queda had been routed) why did we do it? Surely not our need for oil. What else was there unrelated to our obsessional connection with Israel?

    And Joe said:

    Iran. China. Central Asia. The Indian subcontinent. Pakistan.

    I’m sorry, my friend, but you have the burden on that one. At a point when America had no interests in Afghanistan how did our interests in these other countries mandate the invasion? Without an explanation we have no idea what you mean.

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