The jobs solution is war?

If it's true that the administration has settled on sending 34,000 more troops to Afghanistan, you have wonder if the disconnect get any more pronounced?

Arianna Huffington:

There's a Category 5 storm about to make landfall, and the president and the officials in charge of preparing for the approaching disaster don't seem to be particularly worried. Sound familiar?

Just as Katrina exposed critical weaknesses in the priorities and competence of the Bush administration, the unfolding unemployment disaster is threatening to do the same for the Obama White House.


And what is the President, who was pretty mostly only nominated because of good judgement on Iraq doing?


He's instead going head-over-heels with the nation and Democratic Party into becoming a War President that has failure inscribed in the mission.


The jobs reality:

Which makes one wonder: what level of unemployment would it take to unmix them? Even 10.2 percent, the highest level in 26 years, after 22 straight months of job losses, doesn't seem to have quickened the pulse of Larry Summers and Tim Geithner.

And it's not like the levees haven't begun to crack, with the real unemployment rate -- factoring in discouraged and partially employed workers -- at 17.5 percent, the unemployment rate for workers aged 16 to 24 at 19 percent, and the unemployment rate for young African-Americans at 30 percent. What's more, the average length of unemployment is at a record high, while the ratio of job seekers to open positions is now 6 to 1.


Just connecting the dots-- the jobs solution is to send them off to war?


This has to get congressional approval for the funding. So, I guess we'll find out if the Democratic congress is as suicidal as the Obama administration is politically inept-- in proposing this escalation of never-ending war.

Next comes all the phoney talk about deficit-reduction, right?

This escalation is not even scheduled to start until June of '10 and shockingly, that's when Obama promised to have removed all of the troops from Iraq by if he won the Presidency. From this point till then, any takers that believe we will have exited more troops from Iraq than will have been inserted into Afghanistan by then? What a bait and switch!

The incomprehensibility of this escalation may be just the poison pill it takes to have the Democratic Congress to revolt against becoming the resident war-funding party. Would that Obama could be so lucky.

Congress already gave Obama the two brigades he campaigned on in the GE for Afghanistan earlier this year. It created much damage to the belief that Democrats were serious about reversing Bush's reckless course in the ME, and besides that, it's failed.

We need a revolt in Congress against this proposal. If the Democratic Congress goes along with funding this, I think there are going to be a lot of progressives that sit on their hands in '10 and believe they deserve to lose.

Rep Peter DeFazio told HuffPost's Sam Stein the other day:  "It is pretty embarrassing for a Democratic administration and a Democratic Congress to be identified with total attention to Wall Street and nothing for Main Street & jobs." 

Just add War to Wall Street there.

Tags: Barack Obama (all tags)

Comments

132 Comments

Re: The jobs solution is war?

I have no clear view on this issue of the war, but when you look at the list of things President Obama said while running for office, and how he's doing the exact opposite- it is staggering. He was against mandates, and now he is for them. He was for the public option, and yet he has done nothing for them. He was going to bring change to DC, and yet he hires on a team that is the status quo personified. The list of the "same you can believe in" - has anyone done a list of flips he's done this year? It seems like he totally sold himself as something he's clearly not. Yes, he was a Rorshach and people projected, but even I remember him selling a  lot of things that he is now flipping on.

by bruh3 2009-11-24 05:08AM | 0 recs
Ironically, this isn't a flip flop at all

he always said he wanted to send more troops to Afghanistan...all the candidates last year did.

It would be a flip-flop if he decided to withdraw troops.

by ND22 2009-11-24 08:44AM | 0 recs
Re: Ironically, this isn't a flip flop at all

 I know up is down, black is white, left is right.

by bruh3 2009-11-24 08:59AM | 0 recs
WTF does this mean? lol

by ND22 2009-11-24 09:05AM | 0 recs
Re: WTF does this mean? lol

That Bruh prefers to make believe to reality?

by vecky 2009-11-24 10:06AM | 0 recs
Silence, O-bot!

An objection to Obama bashing, regardless of how irrational it may be, means you must be an Obamatron :)

by NoFortunateSon 2009-11-24 10:11AM | 0 recs
It means

the words mean just what bruh3 chooses them to mean, neither more nor less.

When you've had a few e-conversations with bruh3, you get some sense of the mental state Lewis Carroll was trying to create for Alice in Through the Looking Glass.

by JJE 2009-11-24 11:15AM | 0 recs
Re: Ironically, this isn't a flip flop at all

maybe, but sometimes wrong is just wrong.

by KLRinLA 2009-11-24 11:30AM | 0 recs
Re: Ironically, this isn't a flip flop at all

OT:  catch the Pac-Man / Cotto fight?

by fogiv 2009-11-24 11:36AM | 0 recs
Re: Ironically, this isn't a flip flop at all

I did, Cotto looked doomed after the second or third round, kind of sad to see in someones eyes the realization that he is overmatched by a long shot.  Paquiao might have the requisite speed and power to contend with FMJr, the only one thus far that I've seen that could give him a run for his money.  That bout better happen, in fact it must, the Gods of Money and Battle demand it.

How u doing?

by KLRinLA 2009-11-24 04:24PM | 0 recs
Re: The jobs solution is war?

he's not real impressive as a leader is he? For someone who 'shot down' Hillary over and over again on her Iraq war stance, he's looking a bit like a ...  Fairy Tale.

by nikkid 2009-11-24 05:14AM | 0 recs
Re: The jobs solution is war?

I think back last year, and I realize the choices were all bad. It seems to me that the hand of the status quo was always on the scale no matter who won.

by bruh3 2009-11-24 05:19AM | 0 recs
Nothing like reliving the primary war

Yeah, nothing like a leader who has taken months to deliberate such a critical action... with Hillary.

by NoFortunateSon 2009-11-24 09:19AM | 0 recs
Re: Nothing like reliving the primary war

This is how I know some of you are nuts. How do you get from my comment that I supported Hillary Clinton? Just plain nuts. Let me make it plain: I did not support Clinton. I supported Edwards until Feb 2008 because of the economic populist message, including his support of a public health insurance component to health reform that both CLinton and Obama later tried to adopt. When I am now discussing shitty candidates, I am also including Edwards in that lot because he couldn't keep it in his pants, and would have been a nightmare. At the time, I thought there would be little difference between CLinton and Obama, but marginally leaned slightly towards Obama when Edwards dropped out. I started later donating to Obama, etc. I should not have to say that in order to voice my view that none of the 3 major candidates in retrospect (you know introspection over past choices is not a bad thing despite your attitude about it) were not good choices because none of the 3 would have challenged the status quo for various reasons. In other words, I am not refighting anything. I am saying they all sucked.

by bruh3 2009-11-24 10:11AM | 0 recs
Very interested to see if you're right

It's not my sense that hard-line opposition to troop increases in Afghanistan extends far beyond some corners of the blogosphere and Congress. Am interested to see the roll-out and how it's perceived in the ensuing months.

My guess is that if Afghanistan is going to hurt Obama politically, it takes at least 12 months.

by Jonmac 2009-11-24 05:23AM | 0 recs
There's not much hard-line opposition to anything

Obama does or doesn't do, from the left. There's little opposition to his do-nothing or deficit-hawk approach to 10.2 unemployment. The only realistic problem the Democrats will have next fall is very low voter turnout, which the currently listless, apathetic public is giving a lot of foreshadowing of. I believe the right-wing nuts and apocalyptic Christians will turn out in numbers, but don't see much counterweight to them.

by fairleft2 2009-11-24 06:34AM | 0 recs
So what about Afghanistan Strategy

No doubt Dems face a turnout issue next year. But would withdrawing from Afghanistan (or deploying fewer new troops) bring the Dem base to the polls?

If it did, I certainly think that any increased turnout in Dems would be far outweighed by the hawks of the Republican base - a thus far unanimated part of the GOP, and distinct from the birther/healthcare crazies that are already frothing to vote for Bachmannites. In other words, Dems would face minimally increased turnout, but the GOP would be able to gin up a huge amount of enthusiasm in a thus-far untapped part of their base.

Of course, I don't think that FoPo decisions should be based too much on public opinion. But any analysis of the politics of Obama's Afghan decision is woefully (- irresponsibly?) incomplete if it ignores the repercussions of whatever alternative choices are/are not on the table.

by Jonmac 2009-11-24 08:14AM | 0 recs
Just another disaster

The myopia of the shrill deescalation hounds knows no bounds.

Not only is there political danger to doing the wrong thing, but a real humanitarian danger to that part of the world.

And shame on these isolationists for not once articulating the consequences of our actions.

I'm far more interested in hearing the strategy, whether it is for 1 more troop or OMG!68,000 more troops.

It will be nice to have a strategy for the first time in 8 years.

by NoFortunateSon 2009-11-24 09:52AM | 0 recs
Re: Just another disaster

Hell ya!

by vecky 2009-11-24 10:08AM | 0 recs
Re: Just another disaster

Does this mean you're enlisting?

by orestes 2009-11-24 12:31PM | 0 recs
Re: Very interested to see if you're right

There is no way for Afghanistan to hurt Obama at all.

The Afghanistan war isn't a 'choice' war like Iraq.  I don't think the scar of 9/11 will ever leave the publics psyche.

by Dickie Simpkins 2009-11-24 06:57PM | 0 recs
it depends

there certainly is war fatigue now...the question is if it continues. If there is noticeably success with minimal casualties, it could change.

Getting out of Iraq faster can help too.

by ND22 2009-11-24 08:13PM | 0 recs
Re: Very interested to see if you're right

Well, it certainly could hurt him with anti-war voters who voted for him in 2008.  This group was strongly in support of Obama.  Any loss of support from a key constiituency is not a good thing.

by orestes 2009-11-26 05:05AM | 0 recs
Is there any cliche more vacuous

Than "Wall Street vs. Main Street"?

by JJE 2009-11-24 05:28AM | 0 recs
Re: Is there any cliche more vacuous

Vacuous is whining about phrase choice rather than thinking about the substantive issues behind it.

by bruh3 2009-11-24 05:33AM | 0 recs
Perhaps

you inability to think in any terms other than hackneyed slogans explains why your posts are so superficial and incoherent.

by JJE 2009-11-24 05:49AM | 0 recs
Re: Perhaps

 I think you know next to nothing about economic policy making or why the phrase is used as a short cut. The best you can do is to whine about form or attempt to attack anyone who calls you on your form of substance whining.

by bruh3 2009-11-24 06:09AM | 0 recs
That's nice

But the record shows that you know absolutely nothing about economic policy and just mindlessly repeat the talking point du jour with a smattering of catchphrases you clearly don't understand.

by JJE 2009-11-24 06:49AM | 0 recs
Re: That's nice

 Remember your part in my diary on the antitrust exemption for health insurance companies? I do.

by bruh3 2009-11-24 07:18AM | 0 recs
Yep

You're referring to your nonsensical, barely readable, unsubstantiated diary?  And when I pointed out that you didn't make the case you thought you were making, you got all pouty and whiny and evasive?  I remember your embarrassing performance there quite well.

Since then I've tried to engage you productively, but since you persist in acting like a child and get all emotional over words on the internet, I haven't had much success.

by JJE 2009-11-24 07:45AM | 0 recs
Re: Yep

Keep digging that hole.

by bruh3 2009-11-24 07:54AM | 0 recs
I shall!

But no matter how deep it gets, it will never be deep enough to hold all the tears you shed because your brilliance goes unrecognized.

by JJE 2009-11-24 11:09AM | 0 recs
Re: The jobs solution is war?

You know, I can to look on the site after hearing the news this morning, and I got waht I expected.  Could you be any more predictable?

I know this is cliche, a bit, but I really hate it when people who have never served in the military try to give advice on military affairs.

It is as condescending as me giving advice to the Italians on how to be better Italians.

YOu should be fosusing more on what the military objectives should be, what the diplomatic objectives should be, and what the domestic objectives should.

Sorry guys, but any answer other than troop withdrawl is not the ONLY correct answer.  YOu need more objectivity on this subject or else you look like hacks instead of thoughtfull advisors.

by Hammer1001 2009-11-24 06:35AM | 0 recs
Re: The jobs solution is war?

"I know this is cliche, a bit, but I really hate it when people who have never served in the military try to give advice on military affairs."

Wait, so by your definition, if someone has not served in the military, they should can not discuss whether we should be in a war or not collectively as a country? How can President Obama or any other President who has not served decide to go to war or not - since they too would not have served, etc?

by bruh3 2009-11-24 06:58AM | 0 recs
it would be interesting to check

how Presidents who were generals compare on wars to non-generals. I can't recall a war started by Eisenhower, Washington, Grant, Jackson, etc.

 

by John DE 2009-11-24 07:11AM | 0 recs
Well

Eisenhower started involvement in Vietnam and I don't know if you'd consider it a war, but Jackson and the Native Americans...yeah.

by ND22 2009-11-24 08:06AM | 0 recs
Re: it would be interesting to check

I think as an exercise you are right, but am not sure. However, I do not think many of the people who make the arguments they do here (with the exception of Steve M) are critiquing Jerome due to any good faith analysis. It is the typical let's protect Obama  at all cost brigade by throwing whatever argument that can distract up to block the main thrust of the diary. So, I would not put that much effort into its validity. This is true, if for no other reason, than we have a civilian controlled military for a reason, and it certainly is not that one must have had military service to comment on the U.S. of the military abroad.

by bruh3 2009-11-24 08:08AM | 0 recs
Wow. You really have some axe to grind with Obama

And a warped view.

It's not irrationally protecting Obama -- it's asking for a rational analysis that doesn't resort to Obama bashing.

by NoFortunateSon 2009-11-24 10:04AM | 0 recs
Re: Wow. You really have some axe to grind

I have wondered for a while exactly what his beef is.

by vecky 2009-11-24 10:10AM | 0 recs
Re: Wow. You really have some axe to grind with Ob

What I have is an understand that you are about predictable the sun rising. Above you accuse me out of ignorance of being a Clinton supporter because of the limited repetiore that you call thinking.

by bruh3 2009-11-24 10:13AM | 0 recs
Now that hurt my feelings...

...well, it would have if it made any sense.

In the mean time, explain to me how you're not an Obama basher.

by NoFortunateSon 2009-11-24 10:19AM | 0 recs
Re: Now that hurt my feelings...

it makes a lot more sense than assuming that everyone who disagrees with you and other bots is a CLinton supporter. So you go ahead blissfully acting against your own economic interest.

by bruh3 2009-11-24 10:22AM | 0 recs
Oh it's not about Obama specifically

Like bruh said;

I think back last year, and I realize the choices were all bad. It seems to me that the hand of the status quo was always on the scale no matter who won.

It doesn't matter who got elected, could've been Kucinich, no one is as smart as bruh.

by ND22 2009-11-24 10:22AM | 0 recs
Or Obama...

...although it has only been a year.

I don't believe that it is inappropriate for civilians to comment on military strategy.

I do, however, find it embarrassing, when civilians pontificate but at the same time cannot articulate a military solution.

by NoFortunateSon 2009-11-24 10:02AM | 0 recs
I'm not even going to venture into this debate

civilian vs, military...I have a horse in this race...I'm probably the only one on this board, perhaps the entire blog, who was actually THERE and fairly recently.

and if my opinion means anytihng, it's that the liberals are right; a further escalation and prolonged war will drain our resources, and the neocons are right, leaving would be a disaster and would lead to the Taliban coming back into power and Al-Qaeda finding a home again.

Anyone who thinks their idea is a good one is wrong.

by ND22 2009-11-24 10:38AM | 0 recs
Don't forget

The Code Pink hysterical banshees who believe any continued involvement in Afghanistan is doom for America, er, I mean Obama never ever once articulated the military and political consequences for the region and the world of withdrawal, nor can they.

When someone postulates a credible alternative, then I'll listen.

by NoFortunateSon 2009-11-24 09:25AM | 0 recs
I thought Code Pink

was busy trying to get Geithner fired, or are they still busy trying to kill the confirmation of that neocon Hillary Clinton?

by ND22 2009-11-24 09:41AM | 0 recs
That same road

I really see Arianna heading down that same road as Cindy Sheehan.

Remember when she used to be on Countdown?

Now she's radioactive.

Arianna jumped the shark with the Biden Resignation. If she's not careful, she will cede the last of her credibility.

by NoFortunateSon 2009-11-24 10:13AM | 0 recs
Re: That same road

Too late.  Nice website though.

by Shaun Appleby 2009-11-24 10:36AM | 0 recs
I won't deny

The cute cat videos are great.

by NoFortunateSon 2009-11-24 02:53PM | 0 recs
Oh, I only go to Huffington Post

to see pictures of Katie Couric boogie down on the dancefloor.

by ND22 2009-11-24 03:20PM | 0 recs
Re: The jobs solution is war?

I had just the same view and post-like content when Bush was going into Iraq. Its not me who's hiding what my feelings, or shrinking from being a truth-teller, or ignoring the disaster-in-making this is already.

The only difference is that if it were McCain making this choice, I'd have more people like you and the other bloggers joining in the criticism.

Oh please, tell me you'd be cheerleading this if it were a decision that Bush had made in '06, or if McCain had won that he was doing, go on, embrace your neocon.

by Jerome Armstrong 2009-11-24 11:37AM | 0 recs
I dunno Jerome

If President McCain was making the decision to send fewer troops that the generals suggested and put them in with a timeline and an exit strategy, I'd be very pleasantly surprised. In fact, I would've supported the Bush surge in Iraq if there was some sort of exit strategy and some sort of organized plan attached to it...but there wasn't.

Of course my expectations aren't high...I suspected a President McCain would completely ignore Afghanistan, bomb the shit out of Tehran, all why cutting our taxes, increasing the deficit, then bitching we spend too much money.

by ND22 2009-11-24 01:36PM | 0 recs
Beg to differ

You're making a false equivalence between Iraq and Afghanistan. It is indeed possible to have supported the invasion of Afghanistan (like many including Bush/McCain/Clinton/Obama) and, two years later, opposed the invasion of Iraq (like many including... er... Obama)

Afghanistan and Iraq are completely different cases.

I recently met a brilliant, young, honest senior British marine officer, Harry Thomsett, who was commanding in Helmand province till a couple of months ago. His take on the situation there is quite shocking (I couldn't believe he was so honest) and while there have been many fuck ups all along since 2001, things are beginning to work.

Problem is: money. Taliban soldiers can be bought for a few hundred dollars a day. They can make an IED that destroys a 200,000 dollar vehicle for about 5 dollars. Until something other than the narco economy develops, they will get their money from those sources. The Taliban are primarily economic, ethnic and tribal on the ground. If wheat can be grown rather than poppy. If police can be trained and paid properly rather than learning to blackmail and take bribes. If the roads can be kept safe, and some power roll out. Then this is winnable.

It's not about 'killing the taliban', or bombing from 10,000 feet, but providing the security in which a recognisable state can function.

The guys in Quetta, the Islamic radicals, are really only exploiting the deficiencies of a failed state. The recent casualties for both British and American troops are actually a sign of success - because they're finally pushing out into areas which have been controlled by the Taliban since 2001. It's working. A lot of the central valley of Helmand (with the biggest irrigation) is now clear and secure. If the Brits, working with the Americans, can join up the dots, and make the whole of Helmand safe for trade and normal business, the taliban will wither.

The only other alternative, an American withdrawal before these objectives are achieved, will only end like the Russian withdrawal. Afghanistan will not only implode, but also take Pakistan with it - a nuclear armed state.

Despite the casaulties, and they've really mounted for the UK this summer, I believe (as do most the soldiers I have met) that

a) This is winnable.
b) The stakes for losing aren't like Vietnam - they are clear and present: Nukes falling into the hands of Taliban radicals.
c) Though bloody, this is nothing like the scale of casualties of Vietnam or other conflicts. The potential violence of premature withdrawal is much more than consistent presence.

I understand why many feel we've been there too long, and it hasn't worked. But perhaps, as other suggest, one should take a military opinion of what's really happening on the ground.

As for a geopolitical take: I really don't see what expenditure on creating a secure Afghanistan has to do with unemployment. It's a fraction of the deficit funding. And in terms of geopolitics, you couldn't get more radioactive.

Abandoning a melting nuclear reactor isn't the smart move. Capping it and cleaning it up is.

by brit 2009-11-24 04:03PM | 0 recs
British elections

I assume there are elections coming up in Britain...what are the odds Cameron will pull British troops out of Afghanistan completely if he's elected PM, or is this not really a big issue there at all?

by ND22 2009-11-24 05:08PM | 0 recs
Re: British elections

It's a huge issue here, but the Conservative Party is (traditionally) more hawkish than the Labour Party. It would suit neither Cameron's core constituency, or his image as a potential leader, to play the 'withdrawal' card.

Instead, he and Brown vie over other things. Last week there was an unseemly scrabble over photo opportunities on Remembrance Day. Before that, acrimonious debates about the PMs letters to, and phone calls with, the wives of soldiers killed in action. And all the time the rumbling about the soldier's kit, and whether this Government has sent them into action with sufficient materiel.

In other words, politics as normal. But (maybe I have missed something) I haven't really heard any significant voices from any of the major parties advocating withdrawal.

I think someone should. Though I don't favour it myself, the last thing we should do is lock down conversations about all options.

by brit 2009-11-24 11:43PM | 0 recs
Re: British elections

Lib Dems could finally make some gains.

by Jerome Armstrong 2009-11-25 05:11AM | 0 recs
Interesting...

I am sure you must have asked him the usual questions.

(a) How does he define winning.  By what metrics will we know we have won, when we have won ?

(b) What are the resources required to win as defined by the above metrics.  Is a win guaranteed at a certain troop level (as Sen. Mc Cain says), or does it merely remain winnable... even at elevated troop levels.

(c) Is there only one losing scenario... one in which nukes fall into Taliban radicals ?  What if nukes remain in the hands of Pakistani generals, but the generals become radicalized...would that be a loss ?

I am curious as to what his answers were.

by Ravi Verma 2009-11-24 08:31PM | 0 recs
Re: Interesting...

Good points. I can't really answer for him, but inferring some answers from the rest of what he said.

a) His metrics of success were basically withdrawal. In other words, once an area was pacified and stable enough to hand over to the Afghan National Army and police, then that was success. The army is getting better and better. Police are still a big problem.

b) Right from the start of his operation to stabilise central Helmand, the greatest problem has been the number of British troops, merely to cover areas and provide a presence. Where they do, the change in ethos is tangible. Where the Taliban reign, the fear and reluctance to engage in any civil Afghan structure is just as visible.

Cheney tried to invade two countries and impose two new states with a minimal number of troops, and understanding of the basics of nation rebuilding (as in Germany or Japan).

c) Of course there are many losing scenarios, some more catastrophic than others, but given the history of Afghanistan, Pakistan and the North West Territories, it would not be imprudent to sketch of the worst cases.

Thomsett himself basically said either back us, or don't put us into this job with no or little resources. He didn't discuss this in terms of Nato 'winning or losing'. He wasn't thinking about nuclear armageddons, or even stopping terrorists attacking the UK or US, but the many people he met day to day in a state that barely functions. To him, it was all about the security of the ordinary Afghan, and their chances to lead a normal life, out of the narco economy, and without being the playthings of local warlords or distant ideologues.

by brit 2009-11-24 11:24PM | 0 recs
Please excuse me,

but these metrics are BS.

(a) Let us consider your metrics for success... pacify the area, handover to local Afghan troops, and leave.  By this metric, the Soviet mission in Afghanistan was a resounding success.  Najibullah's government outlasted the Soviets by..what..5 years ?

(b) If it truly is about security for the ordinary Afghans, then the talk would have been about security for the ordinary Afghans.  Instead, all we hear is "Afghanistan is a battleground, if we don't defeat Al Quaeda there, they will get nukes and bomb us".  And lots of use of predator drones with lots of ordinary Afghans dying in the process.

by Ravi Verma 2009-11-25 07:48AM | 0 recs
Re: Please excuse me,

BS? Why? Because you say so?

That won't do.

a) Najibullah's government never controlled Helmand. For five years it was holed up in Kabul and the North. There is no comparison with Karzai's government, however corrupt, nor with the Soviet presence in the countryside, which was largely overfly

b) Sure, there was a bomb from above plus special forces policy from 2003-2005. But you're Al Qaeda quotation comes from that time. You clearly have no understanding or up to date knowledge of what's been going on now.

by brit 2009-11-25 10:30AM | 0 recs
Really, ?

so the criterion for success is control of Helmand province ?  If the Soviets had managed to "pacify" Helmand, then their mission would have been a success.  Perhaps they should have surged in 20k troops into Helmand, controlled it for 3 months, and then left...secure in the knowledge that by pacifying Helmand, they would have succeeded.

In fact, Najibullah wasnt exactly holed up in Kabul and the north.  It is true that most observers expected his government would fall rapidly after the Soviets left in 1987.

But in reality, Najibullah's government won several important victories against the pre-Taliban rebels, including one at Jalalabad that appeared to have surprised everyone.  By 1990, Najibullah's government had reached a stalemate with the rebels... he controlled the cities and the provinces in the north, the rebels controlled the border regions with Pakistan.

As I recall, there was a warlord with shifting allegiances in the west.

His government collapsed mostly because of internal fissures ~ defections of key generals (such as Abdul Rashid Rostum), and coup attempts.

As to the "bomb from above plus special forces", that is very much in place today.  Perhaps you have not read any of the Pakistani press...it is not very popular.  And yeah, I understand the difference between Pakistan and Afghanistan... the people on the ground probably do not care.

by Ravi Verma 2009-11-25 02:10PM | 0 recs
Re: Really, ?

From what I remember, Najibullah only had territorial security in the north and north west. The largely Pashtun areas were, with the exception of regional capitals, largely beyond the writ of Kabul.

And that's the problem today. There is no functioning state in much of the countryside, especially in the irrigated agriculturally rich Helmand valley. That is exactly where the British officer I mentioned operated for the last two years. According to him, and he's an eminently trustworthy, liberal (non neo-con) type soldier, the problem for the majority Afghan population is lawlessness, in which the loose grouping of warlords, radicals and narco traders we call the Taliban, can thrive.

You're completely wrong about the ISAF strategy. There are terrible and notable mistakes, especially from remote missiles and air strikes, but why you're seeing mounting NATO casualties in the last year is that US and British troops have left their bases. They don't prowl around just looking for trouble (like special forces) - they provide convoy protection and basic security for farmers and townspeople against the levies and intimidation of the various affiliated warlords.

Of course, you could frame this all in some neo imperial vision of US aggression, but Afghanistan has, with a brief window in the 60s, never really functioned as a state that provides security for its people. If you want to make a Marxist analysis of this, blame the British, whose post colonial borders don't marry to the ethnic mixes on the ground. We have a history of this, as the few remaining survivors of partition can attest.

by brit 2009-11-26 01:06AM | 0 recs
Re: Beg to differ

"Afghanistan will not only implode, but also take Pakistan with it - a nuclear armed state."

Hyperbolic neocon nonsense.

Can you point me, link, to where you started sounding like Cheney before Obama was your talking point?

by Jerome Armstrong 2009-11-25 05:12AM | 0 recs
Re: Beg to differ

If it's down to erroneous name-calling, I'd like to point out that I've been an ardent opponent of neo-cons before you were supporting candidates who voted for AUMF.

But instead of the ad hominem tactic, let's get to some realities. Pakistan's instability is not a matter of opinion, but of fact. The role of the ISI in the initial funding of Bin Laden and the Taliban, their continued gamesmanship on Aghanistan, is a matter of public record. The instability of the North Western tribal border regions, the collusion between them, the Taliban and radicals in Quetta is obvious to all concerned.

Bin Laden is just one symptom of the problems of the area since the anti soviet funding of Islamic militants since 1979: the stability of Afghanistan and Pakistan are intimately connected.

Until recently, American foreign policy in the area has been incredibly short sighted, and governed by domestic electoral expedients.

If you'd like to return to those traditions, Jerome, then I suggest you and Cheney have more in common than you realise.

by brit 2009-11-25 06:10AM | 0 recs
Re: Beg to differ

he asked for a link. where is it?

by bruh3 2009-11-25 06:57AM | 0 recs
Re: Beg to differ

A link for where Brit started sounding like Cheney?  There is no link.  Nor do I think Brit sounds like Cheney.  

As for Pakistan's precariousness and its nuclear capability, I don't think those require substantiation.  The question regards only the degree of danger that without continued (and escalated) US presence Afghanistan will indeed implode and exactly how profoundly this might affect Pakistan.  I'm waiting to hear the Pres. on this.  Then I might disagree, but I am going to give him a hearing.  I don't think escalation will be easy to justify, and perhaps it's just the least of very bad options.  But just because neo-cons, Cheney chief among them, use scare tactics doesn't mean that there aren't actual scary situations in the world that we need to approach strategically, and sometimes those strategies require military force.  I am hoping that Obama indeed explains how military force functions within a real strategy that goes beyond scare tactics and slogans regarding state building.

In the mean time, Jerome's request for a link was a snarky swipe and not a real engagement of Brit's post, which I read as a thoughtful one, even if I remain skeptical.  Piling on to it as if it were substantive seems like bad faith.  And yes, I know you have been and continue to be addressed by others in bad faith as well.  But you give at least as good as you get.  As I type, I am wondering how you will dismiss me in response.  Dismiss away.  

by Strummerson 2009-11-25 07:44AM | 0 recs
Re: Beg to differ

As someone who is not an expert on these issues, I request  links so that I can know where people are coming from rather than assuming they know what the hell they are talking about.

by bruh3 2009-11-25 07:51AM | 0 recs
Re: Beg to differ

An expert on where Brit started sounding like Cheney?  That's just Jerome's unjustified ad hominem attack.  It doesn't require substantiation because it's just an insult as opposed to an engagement of rationale.  What kind of a link do you want in this situation?  It's as if someone asked me for a link to where I started sounding like a horses ass.  Would you expect me to provide them with a link?

by Strummerson 2009-11-25 08:10AM | 0 recs
Re: Beg to differ

Okay. I am not going to debate you. My point is pretty claim. Brit throughout this diary has made several assertions. None of it backed up by anything. You are once again engage in selectively reading what you want to read. It is kind of pointless for me to debate that.

by bruh3 2009-11-25 08:36AM | 0 recs
Re: Beg to differ

Please explain why you accuse me of reading selectively.  Look at what Jerome demanded and tell me it relates to anything substantive.

by Strummerson 2009-11-25 08:55AM | 0 recs
Re: Beg to differ

Like before you ignore what your "team" is doing in favor of focusing on me. The assertions being made in this diary are what I am asking for a link to demonstrate that the argument is accurate. For instance, claiming that Obama never said he would not increase troops in Afghanistan does not go a) into numbers or b) the spirit of what he was trying to convey when he discussed the issue during the primaries and general elections. Ultimately, this is not even a subject I am expert on other than on the economic front- since it is a waste of 200 bil a year. I may even agree with president Obama now regarding the short term troop issue if he can define the rest of what he is saying regarding an exit strategy, but that idea that this is not playing free and lose with meaning is just false to me. Again, I know the game of leaving in a catch all. I write these sort of loop holes in contracts all the time., and they are meant to provide wiggle room rather than provide elucidation. I imagine in a political context it is even worse.

Brit is merely the latest person writing something that does  not fully  seem reflective of what I have read about the previous record on the subject. The individual instance of what Jerome said doe snot take away from my pointing out that Brit has made several assertions. If your point is I could have put my comment at a different place- fine. That may be true.  I should may be have done so. But I was agreeing with Jerome, whether Jerome was joking or not, that it would be nice to see links from people making all kinds of assertions here.  Not just quotes that leave out other critical information like what kind of troop level he mentioned at the time.

By the way, rather than addressing my concerns, you try to bait through discussing how I talk to others who previously talked nasty to me, and often, my behavior was a response to their behavior. You never aknowledged this, but instead pretend it is all just me being mean to them. This repeatedly happens with your side. You wills ay something nasty like JJE above, and then someone says something about it, only to be attacked as starting the fight.

Nevermind, here  I have focused solely on my issues with the arguments being made here. You still try to bait me about how I talk to other people as if that's relevant to you. I tend to give back what others put out. If you are nasty to me, I am going to be nasty back.

by bruh3 2009-11-25 09:07AM | 0 recs
Re: Beg to differ

I haven't been nasty to you.  I don't have a team.  And I have a hard time seeing why you think you are addressing issues and I am not.  I opposed your assertion that Obama and others lied to you with regard to his prospective strategic approach to Afghanistan.  I also opposed your participation in an ad hominem attack on Brit's substantive post.  You are wrong on both counts, both substantively and ethically.  You lump Brit in with others instead of addressing his perspective and me in with others when I object on both these accounts.  Then you claim your chronic nastiness is situationally justified.  Every debate with you devolves into this and it's always everyone else's fault.  It undermines everything you offer.

Happy thanksgiving to you and yours.  (and that is meant sincerely, no matter how you imagine my motives and intentions)

by Strummerson 2009-11-25 09:14AM | 0 recs
Re: Beg to differ

Man, I can't respond to denial. I mean- what will you do once I do? Deny again. The proof of the team is in your behavior. If you are unwilling to admit to it, then there is little else I can say other than good luck.  I addressed the perspective of the BIG QUESTION. That question is when and if we are going to get out of this war. Utlimately you and others trust Obama. I don't. So I want timetables and proof that he's going to dow hat say s rather than wiggle out later with more well worded catch all statements.

by bruh3 2009-11-25 11:36AM | 0 recs
Re: Beg to differ

I've posted citations of Obama's primary campaign position on Afghanistan in these threads of Jerome's twice already.  I can only assume that you have seen them.

by Shaun Appleby 2009-11-25 10:07AM | 0 recs
Re: Beg to differ

My issue here with the citations is that they are not the spirit of what Obama wanted people to understand was his policy plans with the 2 wars.  How much did he emphasis the fact that he was like CLinton on these issues? That he would run his presidency as a right of center centrist including with Clinton staffers and economists. Including with Republican staffers? A team of revivals requires liberals too, doesn't it. Yet they seem to be leaving. So, I looking at the quotes is fine, but I question the spirit of whether this what people thought they were geting with him, and whether he well understood and used that confusion over who he is to win by saying he was the anti-Clinton when clearly he's just a continuation of Clintonism.

by bruh3 2009-11-25 11:45AM | 0 recs
Re: Beg to differ

I'm not sure that this invocation of spirits belongs in a policy conversation.

by Strummerson 2009-11-25 11:49AM | 0 recs
Re: Beg to differ

What i am describing is a well understood concept, and I find hard to believe you have never heard of it.  for example in several areas of  tax law, it is not enough to meet technical form of a transaction as required by the letter of IRS regulation. The IRS will often look to whether the transaction reflects the economics of the transaction as well. The same is true here- if Obama were truly  on this issue (and other issues) going to be Clinton II like Hillary Clinton was planning to be, it is not enough to say well he mentioned it in footnotes to the overall narrative he was pushing. The  point is to convey meaning that voters would have understood rather than claiming through campaign style that one is the "anti Clinton" when one knows that this means certain things to the voters. At the very least the manipulation breeds confusion.

by bruh3 2009-11-25 12:22PM | 0 recs
Re: Beg to differ

It sounds a bit like you are attempting to use the belittling narratives of the time, that he was an 'empty suit' and spoke only in lofty platitudes, as an argument undermining what the man actually said.

by Shaun Appleby 2009-11-25 12:29PM | 0 recs
Re: Beg to differ

Please explain why you accuse me of reading selectively.  Look at what Jerome demanded and tell me it relates to anything substantive.

by Strummerson 2009-11-25 08:57AM | 0 recs
Re: Beg to differ

An expert on where Brit started sounding like Cheney?  That's just Jerome's unjustified ad hominem attack.  It doesn't require substantiation because it's just an insult as opposed to an engagement of rationale.  What kind of a link do you want in this situation?  It's as if someone asked me for a link to where I started sounding like a horses ass.  Would you expect me to provide them with a link?

by Strummerson 2009-11-25 08:11AM | 0 recs
Re: Beg to differ

By the way- one good example is that I was believing yesterday the arguments that Obama always said he would increase the troops in Afghanistan, but it turns out he said something more specific- that the numbers were not as high as he has increased it. So the claims that he said he would increase lie through omission as to what else he also said at the time. I did not know this until reading another article on the subject.

Finally, I am ignoring your attempts to bait me.

by bruh3 2009-11-25 07:53AM | 0 recs
Re: Beg to differ

They do not lie through omission.  They raise the fact that Obama always intended to increase.  He also promised to consult with military commanders and diplomatic experts on the region and craft a comprehensive strategy.  The result of that process, apparently, is a larger increase than he anticipated.  I remain skeptical but agnostic as to whether this is an appropriate course to take until he lays out his plan and I read the critiques.  But no one has lied to you here.

And others may attempt to bait you, but I do not.  I simply suggested I will not devolve into the cycles of unpleasantness with you that others have.  I predicted you would respond by dismissing me.  You fulfilled my expectations with:

Finally, I am ignoring your attempts to bait me.

I expect either dismissive or ad hominem response when I disagree with you, as you rarely engage those you disagree with respectfully.  I prefer the dismissal.  But I am certainly not interested in baiting you.  Baiting is, for instance, when someone piles on another's ad hominem attack by seconding the demand for a link substantiating when they started sounding like Dick Cheney.  

by Strummerson 2009-11-25 08:19AM | 0 recs
Re: Beg to differ

You are baiting. And you continue to do so by rationalizing the baiting. When you are ready to be serious, let me know.

by bruh3 2009-11-25 08:36AM | 0 recs
Re: Beg to differ

I'm quite serious here.  And I am not baiting.  Take a little responsibility.

by Strummerson 2009-11-25 08:58AM | 0 recs
Re: Beg to differ

I'm quite serious here.  And I am not baiting.  Take a little responsibility.

by Strummerson 2009-11-25 08:59AM | 0 recs
Re: Beg to differ

 Responsibility?  You see what you want to see.  I say something to someone other than you about their behavior toward me, and some how it is my fault that you bring those things into this conversation between you and I.  I am not responsible for you bringing this up. You are.

by bruh3 2009-11-25 09:27AM | 0 recs
Re: Beg to differ

Easier to reply here, bruh3, than elsewhere.

There is no link where I ever sounded like Cheney so I couldn't provide one.

Perhaps I should ask you to provide a link where you don't sound like a tosser.

by brit 2009-11-25 10:24AM | 0 recs
Re: Beg to differ

The point being made is that, and I think this is my view and am not sure if it is Jerome, your argument rings false regarding the spirit of what Obama was saying, and that what you are arguing is in the spirit of what one would expect of Chenney. Are you literally saying what Chenney has said? I have no idea, and frankly, it's one of those look the "leaves" arguments that many here often make to avoid the overall point about the forrest. Do we or do we not want to end this war? That's the big question. Whether you are staying for whatever reason you think is right is irrelevant because ultimately like Chenney your answer to ending the war is no. You can again justify that, but utlimately the troop levels do not reflect it. I am willing to give Obama some leeway to explain how he plains to exit, but he needs to explain that sooner rather than later, and certainly these arguments "he said this all along" does not help. It hurts the case because it is not about spinning me to convince me that just because he stuck in a catch all this means he meant something other than drawing down these wars.

by bruh3 2009-11-25 11:33AM | 0 recs
Re: Beg to differ

Bruh3. This is like watching a crazy guy arguing with a fire hydrant. Where did a reference what Obama said or didn't say. I made a substantive post based on a conversation I had with a senior British military officer who had spent the last two years in Helmand. I never once mentioned Obama, but provided some details about why withdrawal now might not be a wise idea.

It took Jerome to frame this in some strange neo-con insult, and then you intervene, asking for some kind of spurious impossible link, and involve me in some disappointment fan boy love-hatred syndrome about Obama.

Hopefully your president responds to real information from the ground, rather than the narcissistic daily optics of whether he's a hero or not.

Please feel free to continue with your prolonged ventilations about failed hero worship. But don't expect me to engage with them further.

by brit 2009-11-26 01:11AM | 0 recs
Re: Beg to differ

Cheney would also claim he doesn't sound like Cheney, you neo-con wanker.  You sound like the spirit of what Cheney means in the spirit of your statement.  Gotta trust Bruh3, cause he's apparently conversant with spirits.

As for me, I thought your post a helpful addition to this conversation, despite the neo-con spirit of it all.  I'm reserving judgment until the address next week and the policy analysts get to work.  But I am not hopeful.  Seems like a real possibility that escalating is simply the least atrocious of atrocious options.  If he makes even that case convincingly, I'll give it a listen.  If he describes a strategy that has us whipping the Taliban and leaving a peaceful modernizing multi-ethinic republic in three years, I'll oppose.  As long as it sounds reasonably necessary and leaving truly appears irresponsible, I'll support it cautiously.

Neo-conservatively yours,

Spirit of Cheney Strummerson

by Strummerson 2009-11-25 11:48AM | 0 recs
Re: Beg to differ

if you can substantively tell me the difference in outcome for those in the war regarding whether they are there and the money is being spent, fine. If not, then I don't see the substantive rather than "what they think in their head' difference here. Again, that is the point. Not what they think, but what they do.

by bruh3 2009-11-25 12:25PM | 0 recs
actions versus thought or speeches

if you can substantively tell me the difference in outcome for those in the war regarding whether they are there and the money is being spent, fine. If not, then I don't see the substantive rather than "what they think in their head' difference here. Again, that is the point. Not what they think, but what they do.

by bruh3 2009-11-25 12:25PM | 0 recs
Re: actions versus thought or speeches

I'm very sorry.  But I am having a hard time following both the letter and the spirit of this post.  

It makes a difference to me whether the President makes a case for his strategy.  If I think that case persuasive and the strategy plausible, I will support it.  If not, I won't.  Don't know what your "substantive" objection is to that and I simply can't understand your vague and jumbled syntax (are you really a lawyer?).

As to the people in uniform, I don't know what will make a difference to them in terms of morale.  I trust that they are conscientious service members who will execute the mission to the best of their ability.  That, I think, describes what most normally do.  I would hope that they find the strategy they are commanded to implement a reasonable one and I hope the strategy includes giving them all the resources to successfully prosecute their missions.  But as a civilian member of the electorate, my support will depend on the Commander in Chief making a compelling case for his strategy.  That's what I've written up and down this thread.  You seem to be too busy accusing me of being part of some conspiratorial team dedicated to baiting you to catch that.  I also think that this is what anyone paying attention to Obama's campaign rhetoric should have expected with regard to Afghan policy.  I was ambivalent then and I remain ambivalent.  I hope he presents convincing rationale, clear goals and plausible means.

I have no idea whether this answers what I imagine was some sort of objection.  But again, I had trouble understanding what you were all about here.

by Strummerson 2009-11-25 01:11PM | 0 recs
I do not expect a real answer from you

and feel interacting with you will not further my understanding of the situation. Good luck.

by bruh3 2009-11-25 02:31PM | 0 recs
You wouldn't know a real answer

if it walked up and kissed you on the lips.  And I don't think you are after understanding of any sort.  I think something is terribly wrong in your life that compels you to come on here and address  nearly everyone in a dismissive, combative, superior, or downright pissy manner, even when they address you in good faith, which is becoming rarer by the day.  Then you justify all your pissiness as reactive, as produced by persecution by shadowy blog conspiracy teams.  It smacks of delusion and matches "the spirit" of Palin's rhetoric.  Can you now provide me with a link for when you started sounding like Palin?  It's patently pathetic and seems unlikely to change.

I tried to end this interchange this afternoon by wishing you a happy thanksgiving.  You kept "baiting" away.  I sincerely hope you find the help and healing you clearly need.  Feel better.  

by Strummerson 2009-11-25 02:39PM | 0 recs
Re: Beg to differ

One follow up point, and then I am going to bow out until you can be objective rather than reflect distorted views: I have sense read articles on the subject. I know that certain elements are being left out , and as a lawyer like Obama, I know that catch all statements like "after i am advise by the military" etc are meant to cover one's ass. They allow wiggle room later in just this sort of conservation. It is a catch all statement because you can cite "he said he would be advised" and then justify all later action as if it were a part of what he wanted people to understand when he first said the statements. In context, it's a technicality not meant to get at the spirit of what he meant, but to rationalize it.

by bruh3 2009-11-25 08:41AM | 0 recs
Re: Beg to differ

Of course Obama leaves himself wiggle room.  Any  politician or for that matter executive makes sure not to over-commit to a narrow approach when dealing with a dynamic and complex situation.  But I hardly think in this situation its a general as a "catch all statement" or a sophistical dissimulation.  Would you, as a prospective president, commit to a strategy without allowing for the opportunity to consult experts more comprehensively once in office?  I think that in this specific instance it represents a responsible qualification of a preliminary strategy.  What is happening now is not an essential reversal of position but the application of a strategic principle that has been more fully formulated.  I may still not support it.  But I think that is an objectively valid view and I do not see how your position and interpretation represent anything more objective.

Maybe someday you will respond to someone who doesn't agree with you with a modicum of civility.  

For the record, you have accused me of baiting you, reading selectively, and bias while claiming objectivity and substantiveness.  These do not add up.

Now you can have the last word and I'll leave you to take pot shots at someone else.    

by Strummerson 2009-11-25 09:08AM | 0 recs
Re: Beg to differ

My point is that you can not cite that wiggle room when claiming "people should have known that he would qualitative change policy later." It is technically true, but it is not going to the spirit of what he was saying. People are justified in saying "that's not the spirit of what you meant." People should not have to be lawyers in listening to politicians discuss policies in order to understand what the politician means.

I have not once in our conversation taken a shot at you other than pointing out your behavior of discussing irrelevant topics for the purpose of baiting me.  If you stayed on point of what we were discussing, you would not have me responding to your behavior. This is a simple matter of cause and effect here. Don't attack me, if you don't want me to say something about the attack.

by bruh3 2009-11-25 09:22AM | 0 recs
Re: The jobs solution is war?

Actually, the war in Afghanistan (and Pakistan for that) should have been escalated years ago, more like 2003 and not 2006 as you are suggesting here Jerome.

The fact is that the Taliban are still very active. Their were allowed to rebuild their networks because a bunch of money grabbers convinced a Dufus of a President that it was a calling from the heavens to retake the land of the first civilization that existed between the Tigris and Euphrates river; something about the tower of Babylon, and then probably had Morgan Freeman call the President in the middle of the night telling him that he needed to get into Iraq (MF because he is the voice of God).

That Afghanistan is a mess today is because of the Iraq war.

The Iraq war is a choice war. The Afghanistan war is necessary.

If we don't fight this war, brace yourself for another terrorist attack in the next few years.

Remember the Taliban ideology: "you're either Muslim, or dead."

by Dickie Simpkins 2009-11-24 07:03PM | 0 recs
Can they ever be defeated?

That's my problem...I don't know if they (terrorists) can ever be defeated. You can't defeat an idea, you can only neutralize it.

by ND22 2009-11-24 07:08PM | 0 recs
Re: Can they ever be defeated?

You're right that this kind of extremist ideology can never truly be fully defeated. The problem is that the Afghan public still live in fear of their local warlords, and the country hasn't really developed much from the Middle Ages. But let us also not forget that at one point, Kabul was a bustling city, and had higher rates of working women (women with status and power) than India and Pakistan did. That set of Afghan elites were quite good for the country up until the Soviet invasion.

I'm not a anthropologist with MD's in my studies. But I would really want to see what Obama has in plan for them.  The fact is that the Taliban need to be neutralized first, and then a political strategy can begin the back drop of a military one.

Though I do know one thing, the Taliban is very dangerous. I've been to Afghanistan before, and I do have some contacts in Kabul till today. A few of my friends also serve in the armed forces, and they feel more focused in Afghanistan then they ever did in Iraq.  The soldiers were never 100% in Iraq, but in Afghanistan, there is still a sense of duty that must be accomplished.

A failure in Afghanistan will embolden the Taliban, and as Brit said above, their next target will be Islamabad, Karachi, and Lahore. The Pakistani elites are already quivering.  This is a monster of their (and our) making. After the Soviet war (and the defeat of the Soviet by the Northern alliance and the Pashtun tribes), the Pakistani elites backed the Pashtun and the Taliban over the Northern tribes because the Pashtun in Pakistan were like their slaves (most of the Pakistan elites are Punjabis, Sindhs, and Kashmiris), and the Pashtun as an ethinicity tended to kowtow to these elites.  So Pakistan backed the Taliban movement in Afghanistan, it gave them a whole country whose resources they could exploit at will, since no other country in the world recognized the Taliban government.

Secondly, the government in Afghanistan prior to the Soviet invasion was more India-friendly, and Pakistan did not want that.  Finally, Afghanistan provided a good training base for Kashmiri terrorists. Pakistan could give 'moral support', but did not have to train the terrorists in their soil, but next door.

They built a big monster. We must help them because their monster threatens us too.

The Taliban are exactly the types of people that will lob a nuclear bomb unprovoked.... kinda like movement locally wherein Palin is the head.

by Dickie Simpkins 2009-11-24 07:25PM | 0 recs
i don't know, I was there

I'd like to think it was an act, but I got the feeling the people of Afghanistan, at least outside the capital, liked living in the 11th century and resented the idea that they should modernize.

But I didn't spend much time outside Kabul.

The thing that bothers me about Afghanistan and Iraq is we're trying to give the people there something they don't really want.

by ND22 2009-11-24 08:10PM | 0 recs
I cant speak for anyone else...

I was opposed to the original Afghanistan war (even as a response to 9-11).  On hindsight, I feel justified, but I remember agonizing over that one.  I probably would have gone on marches (if there had been any), but I could easily have skipped them as well.

I was opposed to the Iraq war...this was an easy one.  Went on several marches.  Even easier on hindsight.

I was opposed to Pres. Bush's surge in Iraq.  I thought this was an easy one, but I now recognize that I was wrong...  Bush did pull that one out.

And so, I am now back to agonizing over Pres. Obama's proposed surge.  I would probably have been agonizing over Pres. McCain's surge as well.

I recognize that you are speaking from your heart, and I do not grudge that one bit.  But I hope you will also recognize that most of your readers feel differently.  I am emotionally in agreement with you, but I want to hear what the President has to say first.

by Ravi Verma 2009-11-24 08:40PM | 0 recs
Re: I cant speak for anyone else...

No, I will take a poll at some point. I would be shocked to find that most of the readers here support a needless war in Afghanistan.

by Jerome Armstrong 2009-11-25 05:14AM | 0 recs
Re: The jobs solution is war?

I don't really understand what the war has to do with the unemployment rate.  They seem like two completely separate issues to me.

by Steve M 2009-11-24 06:53AM | 0 recs
Re: The jobs solution is war?

Money spent elsewhere is money we can't spend at home.

Our priorities do not reflect our needs. War in the long run is but a subsidy for Boeing, Lockheed Martin. They are the winners, everyone else is pretty much a loser.

by Charles Lemos 2009-11-24 07:19AM | 0 recs
Aren't we supposed to be trickled on, though?

I've been waiting for that since the 80's.

Seriously, Afghanistan costs $4 billion a month.

by NoFortunateSon 2009-11-24 09:26AM | 0 recs
Clarification:

When I said seriously, I meant it as a big deal, not to trivialize the cost.

by NoFortunateSon 2009-11-24 02:57PM | 0 recs
Re: The jobs solution is war?

I believe his point is referencing the 200 billion that is spent off the books for the wars abroad at a time when we need the money to rebuild America's economy.

Or, he could be referencing people like in my family who due to a 30 percent unemployment rate amongst young black are forced to go into the military as they only viable chance for economic opportunity.

by bruh3 2009-11-24 08:14AM | 0 recs
Re: The jobs solution is war?

But we don't actually face an either/or choice, thanks to the magic elixir that is deficit spending.  We could end the war tomorrow and I don't think there would be any more political will for a jobs program than there is today.  Pound-foolish people who don't think we should do a jobs program because of the cost aren't suddenly going to be like, "Well, I guess it's okay because now we have all that leftover money we were going to spend on Afghanistan."  In the real world I simply don't think there's a tradeoff even if maybe there should be.

As to your latter point, I think we're talking about a choice between 30,000 troops going to Afghanistan and 30,000 troops continuing to sit on a base in Germany or somesuch.  It's not like we're talking about drafting additional troops or training people from scratch.

I think there is a growing concern among the electorate that the administration is not doing enough on the jobs front, but I don't think the war really intersects with that concern.  I don't think people feel that the war is somehow making the economic situation worse.  My overall sense is that there is a defined segment of the Democratic base that is hyped up on the war issue, but that the average Joe whose primary concern is for the economy and his own job simply doesn't care about the war one way or the other.

by Steve M 2009-11-24 09:17AM | 0 recs
Re: The jobs solution is war?

You make many valid points.

However, I do think that these issues are connected in the sense that they are part of the same overall mindset that repeats itself regarding how our society works.

What do I mean by this? I guess the best way is to provide an example.

While this all is very clear to you regarding the spending going on over in Iraq and the other war, and you are right that there is no guarantee that they would use the money correctly here, it is not always clear to others that we are wasting a lot of money abroad. It is about the things left unsaid that allows conservative narratives to flourish.  I am sure many do not realize that we have wasted a trillion over there. But, it needs to be said, and how penny wise, pound foolish it is. May be they won't buy the argument, but it needs to be made until the meme seeps into the mindset of as many as can be convinced because it has the value of being true. Compare China's ability to invest in green technology versus ours and, at least part of that, arises out of their focus on economic issues rather than military power alone.

I have a couple of family members in the military. Not that it matters because on some level it really does not since we are all Americans. But, what they say to me bluntly is that they do not understand "why we are going over there to take care of all those people when we can not even take care of our people at home. What kind of mess is this that that you can rebuild their economy, but not ours?"

Now, does that mean others will necessarily stop being pound foolish? Probably not. But maybe some of them will listen and stop to link the things that we are discussing if it becomes a narrative.

As for the 30,000 troops, you may be right. I am not an expert on the subject or claim to even be well informed other than on the cost element that is off the books versus people bitching about 90 billion to save them a trillion a year.

by bruh3 2009-11-24 10:03AM | 0 recs
while criticism is fine

Basically this is anti-Obama propaganda, probably meant to help the right wing. The stimulus program was the largest in history, how could Jerome write it out of existence? Did it increase the deficit? Was it meant to create jobs? Yes and yes, yet he complains that Obama is a deficit hawk who has done nothing.

I do hope the Democrats revolt on the war. I doubt it.

by John DE 2009-11-24 07:08AM | 0 recs
I don't really understand this diary at all

you go from the war, to unemployment, to the deficit. This sounds like a bitter rant.

by ND22 2009-11-24 07:44AM | 0 recs
Re: I don't really understand this diary at all

How did you ignore the multitudes of solutions for these problems, right there at the end... maybe your monitor's margins are screwed up.

by KLRinLA 2009-11-24 11:42AM | 0 recs
There are solutions in this diary?

I guess you consider a Congressional revolt and/or progressives sitting on their hands in 2010 a "solution"

by ND22 2009-11-24 05:10PM | 0 recs
Reminder to ND22

that your snark-detector 1000 may need adjustment ;)

by KLRinLA 2009-11-24 05:32PM | 0 recs
I was being countersnarky

ah well inflection doesn't work well in written form.

by ND22 2009-11-24 06:20PM | 0 recs
Re: I was being countersnarky

D'Oh!

by KLRinLA 2009-11-24 07:26PM | 0 recs
I am disappointed

Jerome, I am a huge fan of yours. I always have been a fan since I read your book. However, I do find this diary a little (and I say this with all due respect)... unsettling.

I understand you are worried about escalation in Afghanistan, both for Obama, Democrats, and this country. The $4 billion we spend there each month could be better spent elsewhere.

However, there is no confirmation of that troop number, and I think there is a little bit of journalistic malpractice in touting it as official. You were in an uproar over 68,000 just weeks ago.

Even then, one has to admit that the ultimate strategy is far more important than any specific deployment numbers, and that has yet to be released.

Arianna has debased herself for page clicks these past few months. She deserves great credit for helping defeat Hillary and then McCain, but the journalistic quality of the site has stooped to new lows with misleading headlines, the famous unnamed sources, and now sensational essays on Joe Biden's resignation. Arianna is worried that unemployment could spell doom for the Democrats. Fair enough, and spending money on Afghanistan is not helping. But to equate George Bush's callousness and obtuseness as (poor, brown) citizens drown while Obama has painstakingly deliberated a way out of this hole he didn't start for months is reprehensible.

Lastly, anyone advocating an alternative must spell out the long-term political consequences for the region. It's easy to sit in our pajamas and write about how Obama is teh evil for sending more troops, but we don't have the blood on our hands from civilian massacres, destabilization of a nuclear region, etc. today, tomorrow, or years down the road.

by NoFortunateSon 2009-11-24 09:45AM | 0 recs
Re: I am disappointed

Thanks.

Agreed that this is a bit jumping the gun, I acknowledge that in the beginning of the post.

As posted above, there is a direct correlation between money spent one place and money not available to be spent on another places (unless you think money is like dirt and that the deficit does not matter this is pretty simple imho).

I've posted about alternatives, and as one who considers being a globalist part of being a progressive, I don't shun our involvement overseas. However, there is not a military-led solution in Afghanistan, plain and simple.

Besides, this was a post mostly about the optics and the electoral costs up ahead of going down this path for the Democrats-- a huge historical mistake.

by Jerome Armstrong 2009-11-24 11:11AM | 0 recs
Re: I am disappointed

The military strategy is part of a grander political strategy aimed at finishing off the Taliban once and for all.

It's just that the military part has to be at the forefront in the start.  It would have been over if Bush didn't go to Iraq.

Does this matter for the local economy?

Yes and no.

I think its better not to say much till we know exactly what the Obama strategy entails in the Northwest Asian frontier.  Hopefully it will marginalize the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan.  As is, the Pakistan elites know now the monster they helped create by funneling weaponry and Islamic schooling for the masses.  This mess is their fault as much as the US for blindly listening to them.

The local economy needs major help.  A second stimulus will be needed; but it should be smaller and short term.  I would be very interested if Obama would bring out some sort of "jobs program" wherein people who want to work will find work. I don't know how or what this would entail, but I do believe that people who want to work should be able to.

by Dickie Simpkins 2009-11-24 07:09PM | 0 recs
Re: I am disappointed

So Arianna was great when she huckstered for Obama, but now that she has turned her sights on him, she is reprehensible?  If you had been more objective during the campaign you might have noted that this is her style.  But it appears that then you were consumed with the desire for Obama to win and she was part of the crowd.  Remember the old saying, lie down with dogs...  I wish people exercised more foresight.

by orestes 2009-11-24 12:42PM | 0 recs
Re: I am disappointed

You are not suppose to notice that they talk out of both side of their mouths.

by bruh3 2009-11-24 04:35PM | 0 recs
Re: I am disappointed

And of course the "expert" on the such brit gives me a zero for pointing out that they are doing so while bitching to Jerome above about name calling. Sad.

by bruh3 2009-11-25 06:59AM | 0 recs
Re: I am disappointed

I gave you a zero for an off thread ad hominem attack. Read the guidelines.

by brit 2009-11-26 01:50AM | 0 recs
Re: The jobs solution is war?

Arianna Huffington is not exactly known for her good judgment.

by vecky 2009-11-24 10:05AM | 0 recs
How many times has she switched sides?

5 now?

by NoFortunateSon 2009-11-24 10:08AM | 0 recs
Re: How many times has she switched sides?

Well, I stopped listening to her when she sold out Gray Davis simply to get her buddy the Terminator elected.

by vecky 2009-11-24 10:13AM | 0 recs
Re: The jobs solution is war?

Obama's given a LOT of thought to this decision.  He's talked to dozens of world leaders, military experts, scholars, politicians, cultural experts, etc.  He's certainly given it a lot more thought than our former joke of a commander-in-chief did.  Moreover, his thought and choice is a lot better informed than any of us are.

I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt on this one.  I know I haven't gotten as much input, advice, lessons, and intelligence as he has, and if this is the conclusion he reaches (which, as several people pointed out, is also how he campaigned), then I'm ready to support it.  If it doesn't work, then I'll know not to give it to him again, but considering how much more thought he's put in than Bush, I feel like he'll actually know what he's talking about.

I'm glad to have a President who does what he thinks is right regardless of the political pressures from either end of the spectrum.

by bannana873 2009-11-24 01:51PM | 0 recs
Re: The jobs solution is war?

Are you a young adult?  I ask sincerely, because I find the use of GWB as the measure of good/bad presidents an extremely low one and I don't understand how he could be the yardstick.  Those of us who have lived through many presidents, mostly bad, generally don't apply this kind of standard.  I would encourage you not to do so as well.  We should expect our president to use reason and resources to reach decisions, as most do (even Reagan, although he picked some winners as advisors).  Furthermore, I think the problem with Bush is that he had a different agenda than the one presented.  I think he achieved his goals through the wars, they just weren't publicly stated.

by orestes 2009-11-26 05:34AM | 0 recs
The Cost of Freedom

It looks like the President is going to get this one right. One passage in your diary indicates that you haven't really thought this issue through, and that you have a feeble grasp of the geopolitical landscape:

"This escalation is not even scheduled to start until June of '10 and shockingly, that's when Obama promised to have removed all of the troops from Iraq by if he won the Presidency. From this point till then, any takers that believe we will have exited more troops from Iraq than will have been inserted into Afghanistan by then? What a bait and switch!"

You are comparing apples and oranges.....Iraq and Afghanistan are two entirely different conflicts. As the President said, Afghanistan is a war of necessity....there are people there who want to do us harm. Winning the conflict there is truly the cost of freedom.

by BJJ Fighter 2009-11-24 07:03PM | 0 recs

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