Afghanistan off the front page

Despite riots following the burning of a Koran in a Florida church, the war in Afghanistan has been bumped from the headlines lately.

Libya, Bahrain, Yemen, et.al., and the nuclear crisis and general recovery in Japan, and the looming government shutdown at home, have all made for an extraordinarily busy news month.

But the war in Afghanistan goes on, of course, with Fort Drum playing a central role.

Today, I attended a briefing by General James Terry, Fort Drum’s commander and currently the commander of coalition forces in the southern zone of Afghanistan.  That includes the city of Kandahar, birthplace of the Taliban.  Terry’s wrapping up his two week leave in U.S. and returns tonight.

Terry’s basic message was that U.S. and coalition forces are “playing on home turf” now in the Kandahar area, having pushed out the insurgents.

Monday on The 8 O’Clock Hour, I’ll have a full report.  But for now, your thoughts…

How is the war going in your opinion?  Do you agree with Senator Gillibrand, who wants to pick up the pace of U.S. withdrawl?  How has President Obama’s surge worked so far?  Do you still support the effort?  Did you ever?

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23 Comments on “Afghanistan off the front page”

  1. Bill G says:

    An observation. The Koran burning, the NYC mosque controversy, and the Peter King hearings put some focus on the anti-Islamic undercurrent in the country. For the country, it’s worth debating the fundamental question underlying these sentiments: Is this wave of Muslim immigrants the same as all those who preceded it? Or, are they fundamentally different because of the way their religion informs their values and ultimately their behavior?

    Many Europeans have made that judgment and it’s not a pretty one. Public opinion polling here has indicated that there is a high level of suspicion and distrust when it comes to our Muslim compatriots. As a society, I believe it is important to come to grips with the issue, rather than ignore its existence.

    If, as a society, we belive these folks are different and that a material number of them are unassimilable, it raises serious questions about constitutional rights and, more to the point, foreign adventures. With regard to the latter (and the point of the post), how can one square the dedication of vast resources to create nations that share our values and objectives when we are not convinced that US Muslims, who are constantly exposed to those values and objectives, will embrace them.

    I, for one, am not convinced that these immigrants and their offspring are so terribly different from previous ones, but that’s not my point. If a large segment of the population disagrees, how can they support nation building attempts in hide-bound societies that clearly reject many of our values and institutions?

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  2. Mervel says:

    We assimilate people differently from Europe, which is a good thing, so I think in the long run we will be fine. Also although we have a general bias against Islam since 9/11, we accept religious belief and devotion, unlike Europe, which distrusts all faith and does things like ban basic religion expression of Muslims and Christians.

    For Brains question I supported the first Afghanistan war, not the second. We should have left in 2002.

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  3. Peter Hahn says:

    The Afganistan war is hopeless. There is no conceivable good outcome. If we can make a deal with the Taliban that they wont let Al qaeda set up there, we should take it and declare victory and leave.

    Hot debate. Like/Dislike Thumb up 4 Thumb down 3

  4. tourpro says:

    “Make a deal with the Taliban”….. Really?

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  5. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    I had to go back and re-read this post. This is not a post about immigration; it is a post about the war in Afghanistan, and how it directly affects the area due to the location of Fort Drum.

    Obviously the war has been a failure. That is no reflection on the military effort, but on the failure of leadership on the civilian side.

    Newsflash: We won the war in Afghanistan handily and quickly in 2001-2002.
    Mervel is incorrect. We, in fact, did leave Afghanistan in 2002 for all intents and purposes, in order to invade Iraq.

    Many Americans wish for the great war of liberation where we rout an enemy and are greeted by a native population who throw roses at the feet of our troops. America would stand proud in the world; victorious, beloved! We had that in 2002. Then we blew it.

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  6. Bret4207 says:

    I’ve come to the conclusion that most of the world really doesn’t want freedom. I don’t understand why, maybe it’s just too foreign a concept for them to grasp. For whatever reason they can’t seem make it work. So, call it a loss or draw and leave. American exceptionalism is apparently what gave us our free (or freer) society. Perhaps it’s best we just wall ourselves in so to speak and let the rest of the world destroy itself.

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  7. Paul says:

    “Obviously the war has been a failure.”

    Then…

    “Newsflash: We won the war in Afghanistan handily and quickly in 2001-2002.”

    Knuck, which is it? Success or failure?

    Personally I think it has probably gone about as well as could be expected under the circumstances. And the military has done it without much support from the American people. It is essential to have that if you want to win a war. You cannot go in halfheartedly. We have won previous wars because we had no mercy and the military and the American people gave it all they had. Unfortunately it is essential to do things like completely vilify the enemy and that includes the civilian population. You didn’t see Americans crying foul when we destroyed entire German or Japanese villages in world war two. War is hell, and it is a lot faster and more successful if you don’t pull any punches. The destruction in Germany and Japan broke the spirit of the people and allowed us to be victorious. This is an essential element that is missing from these conflicts.

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  8. oa says:

    Q: “Is this wave of Muslim immigrants the same as all those who preceded it?”
    A: Yes.
    Q: “Or, are they fundamentally different because of the way their religion informs their values and ultimately their behavior?”
    A: No.
    Thanks for joing us this week on simple answers to simple questions.

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  9. oa says:

    “”Make a deal with the Taliban”….. Really?”
    Exactly. That would be like making a deal with the Viet Cong, and thinking that 20 years later, they’d be making the underwear we buy in Wal-Mart.

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  10. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Paul, winning and success are not equivalent terms here. We won handily in 2001-2002.
    Then we did not consolidate the gain and make sure there was a proper security force to maintain the victory. Then we lost because we have an Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder foreign policy.
    So both are true; we won and we failed.

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  11. Peter Hahn says:

    Realistically there is no way to end the war in Afghanistan that doesnt involve some form of arrangement with the Taliban. They – the Taliban – arent going to give up their religious fundamentalism which involves values most of us find abhorrent – especially the way they treat their women. The secular political institutions there are at the top of the scale for corruption. They (the government – all levels) will steal most of the money we are pouring in there, and still siphon off as much opium money as they can. We are not going to nation build in Afghanistan in any meaningful sense. We need to think through, very carefully, what are objectives are.

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  12. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    If anyone wants to know what really happened in Afghanistan I highly recommend
    “Descent into Chaos” by Ahmed Rashid. It is a couple of years old by now but you can read about exactly how we won and then we failed.

    For instance, in 2002 our forces had thousands of Taliban and al-qaeda trapped near Kunduz. Then Bush got a call from Mushareff saying that Pakistan had some advisers trapped among the insurgents and could he send a plane to withdraw his forces? The Bush administration gave the order to let Pakistan withdraw troops and our military stood by and watched as Pakistan flew planeload after planeload of our enemy to safety in Pakistan. I think the technical term is “we were hornswaggled”.

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  13. Bill G says:

    Perhaps I didn’t make the link as clearly as I should have. My point was that we are fighting these wars for a purpose, presumably to leave the countries involved more aligned with US interests. Underlying that effort is the assumption that to some reasonable extent they will embrace something resembling democratic government that recognizes the fundamental rights we take for granted. The disconnect is that many Americans are distrustful of the Islamic community here. If that sentiment is widespread (which I believe it is), then how can supporters of the wars make the leap that makes them believe we can be successful in societies that are built on Islamic beliefs?

    AO’s yes/no response reflects his beliefs but I suspect it does not reflect the views of many if not most Americans.

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  14. If Clapton is God, Warren Haynes is Jesus says:

    The war in Afghanistan should have ended years ago. As in right after Bin Laden escaped from Tora Bora. Since then it’s been nothing but a huge victory for war profiteers such as private security personnel, the gang at Halliburton, arms dealers (American and others) drug lords, Karzi’s corrupt gov’t officials, the list goes on and on.

    We broke the number one rule of armed engagement, never get involved in a protracted land war in Asia. The sad part of all this is we know there’s no victory to be had but the perpetual war machine that is entrenched in Congress, the White House, etc. just marches on. All this makes the current play acting in Washington over $60 Billion dollars seem all the more absurd given that sum is chump change compared to what we’ve wasted in Afghanistan and Iraq. While here at home we can’t employ teachers, build a bridge, update our 60 year old electrical grid, but at the drop of a hat we’ll do all those things and more in the Middle East if it’ll make the war profiteers a few more bucks. It’s insane…..And all during the current drama unfolding in Washington, no one person, organization, or media outlet that I’m aware of has even mentioned this craziness.

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  15. Paul says:

    If Clapton…. helps make my point from earlier. All of what he (or she?) says may be true, or not, it doesn’t matter. If we were in this to win you have to put all that logic in a box and get behind the cause. American’s just don’t have that in them these days. Personally I feel that these “wars” are better fought as covert operations. Israel understands how to deal with terrorist threats much better than we do. If we had not had this ground offensive we probably would already have Bin Laden and anyone else that was a real threat. When you try and do this in the open like Bush started then you have people who know about places like Guantanamo Bay and then you can’t deal effectively when you have to keep diverting attention to protesters and pundits. Covert operations are much cheaper and more effective for this kind of enemy.

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  16. Mervel says:

    Some quotes from General Sherman;

    “War is cruelty. There’s no use trying to reform it. The crueler it is, the sooner it will be over.”

    Every attempt to make war easy and safe will result in humiliation and disaster”

    War is hell.”

    “War is at its best barbarism.”

    You can’t clean war up, it’s not a police action it’s not salvation, it is hell and its intention is cruelty and death and if that is what we want for our enemies in Afghanistan fine, but if we don’t really even know if we have any enemies in Afghanistan that we want to utterly destroy, murder and wipe out, then we have no reason waging war in Afghanistan or Libya or anywhere else.

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  17. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Let me point out that hind-sight makes Jimmy Carter out a genius. The Soviets invaded Afghanistan and Carter kept us out of the Olympics in protest. That should have been the end of it but no, Ronald Reagan and that idiot Wilson fellow had to get involved.

    Paul, covert operations have turned into some of the worst and most expensive foreign policy adventures ever. If we truly believed in democracy, freedom and all that stuff we would have the most transparent government and foreign policy in the world. Secrecy is a danger to democracy and there is no better example than the last 30 years of US/Afghan/Pakistan/USSR-Russia/Iran/India/Saudi/blah blah blah history.

    And that is just Afghanistan. Does anyone remember Iran Contra/ Iran-Iraq war/ Saddam Hussein friend-foe/ Gulf war 1 and Gulf War 2?

    Or maybe the adventure in Libya, the Gulf of Sidra and Ronnie Reagan/Pan Am 103/ Condi & Mohamar sitting in a tree/ whatever is going on now?

    I believe we should have some secrets, but they should be very few.

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  18. Mervel says:

    We have no vested interest in Libya yet we are killing people in Libya. It is the worst thing in the world to try to pretend that what we are doing is humane IF we don’t really have to do it to protect our country. Now it’s killing for feel good reasons?

    Even Bush felt the need to claim that Saddam Hussain had weapons of mass destruction which he intended to use against us. True or false there was a national security reason given; I don’t think it was nearly enough of a reason to justify a full scale invasion. But now we just invade countries for the fun of it, no weapons of mass destruction, no real threat, just because there is a civil war and we want look like we back the good guys, its nuts.

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  19. knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Um, oil. Really, really sweet crude…

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  20. Bret4207 says:

    There was no vested interest in the Spanish American War, WW1, any theater other than the Pacific in WW2, Korea, VN, the Balkans, Somalia, Haiti,or any other war I can think of beyond the Revolution, 1812, Barbary Wars, Indian Wars, chasing Pancho Villa into Mexico, the Japanese in WW2, Afghanistan and MAYBE Iraq if you believe Bush really believed his intel, and the Cold War. So if a vested interest is required for war actions then what have we been doing? For that matter, how do you all feel about the lack of a Declaration of War?

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  21. Mervel says:

    I would disagree with your list Bret.

    Although I fundamentally disagree with the way the US has chosen to enter many wars.

    Yes the lack of a declaration of war is very troublesome to me. In my opinion it is essentially dishonest, lets be honest our goal is to kill people in a war, it is to humiliate them to utterly crush them, that is what war is you can’t have war lite. As Sherman says if you try you will end in humiliation and disaster.

    With a lack of a draft and extremely advanced technology war becomes an intellectual video game exercise fought by career professionals. But its not. In Afghanistan who are we supposed to crush? If we can’t answer that we need to leave.

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  22. Peter Hahn says:

    A vested interest is needed for any war otherwise there is no point. Doesnt mean that it cant be a miscalculation (Iraq) or to sell newspapers (Spanish American war).

    Like/Dislike this comment: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  23. Alan Gregory says:

    Bring home the U.S. women and men; right now.

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