August 29, 2009

Afghanistan is becoming Mr. Obama's War

From the AP:
An American service member died Friday when his vehicle struck a bomb in eastern Afghanistan, making August the deadliest month for U.S. forces in the nearly eight-year war.

The grim milestone comes as the top U.S. commander prepares to submit his assessment of the conflict — a report expected to trigger intense debate on the Obama administration's strategy in an increasingly unpopular war. ...

That brought to 45 the number of U.S. service members killed this month in the Afghan war — one more than the previous monthly record, set in July.

American casualties have been rising steadily following President Barack Obama's decision to send 21,000 additional troops to Afghanistan to combat a resurgent Taliban and train Afghan security forces to assume a greater role in battling the insurgents.

Obama's decision was part of a strategic shift in the U.S. war against international Islamic extremism — moving resources from Iraq, which had been center stage since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion but where violence has declined sharply from levels of two years ago.

A record 62,000 U.S. troops are now in the country, with 4,000 more due before year's end. That compares with about 130,000 in Iraq, most due to leave next year.

Since the fresh troops began arriving in Afghanistan last spring, U.S. deaths have climbed steadily — from 12 in May to more than 40 for the past two months as American forces have taken the fight to the Taliban in areas of the country which have long been under insurgent control.

At least 732 U.S. service members have died in the Afghan war since the U.S.-led invasion of late 2001. Nearly 60 percent of those deaths occurred since the Taliban insurgency began to rebound in 2007.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

42 comments:

testing99 said...

So what are our choices?

Leave?

That hands the whole country back to the Taliban and AQ. The last time we did that, we lost two skyscrapers, part of the Pentagon, 4 jet planes, and 3,000 Americans. It could have easily been 14,000 as was originally feared.

Kill everyone in Afghanistan? Not politically possible. Kill everyone in nuclear-armed, unstable/factional Pakistan? Not even remotely politically possible.

Like it or not, our choices all suck. Leave Afghanistan now, and pretty much guarantee further attacks. Bin Laden and people like him are not going away. Steve your big blind spot, one you can't intellectually wrap yourself around, is how vulnerable the US is because no one around the world is actually afraid of us. Which makes us a big fat target.

Every Muslim kid knows the story of how Mohammed was kicked out Mecca, went to Medina, raised an exile army by raiding, and took over Mecca with said army. That's Bin Laden's, and Zawhari's playbook for their native lands. America is the biggest, fattest target to get money, men, and support (by attacking us). If Bin Laden and Zawahari (far more dangerous than bin Laden) were dead tomorrow, the problem would not get any better because Pakistan is filled with Jihadis who all figure THEY should be running things -- in Pakistan, or Yemen, or Saudi Arabia, or UAE, or Indonesia, you name it.

In Afghanistan, as long as we don't get too heavy, logistically unsupportable, we have air assets that can reach out and touch people, in unacceptable ways, particularly with UAVs. Plus, we signal to everyone we are staying, the strong horse, the feared tribe.

If we can be pushed out of Afghanistan for a loss of a few thousand men, tribal Jihadis figure we can cough up even more if we lose a city. They certainly won't fear comeback. Why would they? They'll have kicked us out by "fighting spirit" which pretty much guarantees follow on attacks.

Furthermore, we could strike a hundred deals with tribal leaders, and there's always someone who's not on the radar who figures he's not bound by the deal, or won't get any comeback. Whereas a dead American city and millions incinerated, makes him a pretty big deal and force to be reckoned with in Pakistan or elsewhere. Look how the Ayatollah used the hostages to pretty much seize total power in the Revolution.

Obama wants to cut and run so bad he can taste it. But he likely knows (he was probably in Pakistan in the Summer of 88 jihading it up) these guys are not the nice polite and gentle Daleys or Chicago mob. They are the same guys who thought it smart to fly airplanes into the Pentagon and World Trade Center.

l said...

bin Laden said that his plan was to suck us into a war that would leave us bankrupt and demoralized. I suspect that bin Laden was getting a bit discouraged that his plan wasn't coming together fast enough, until the housing bubble popped and Obama got elected. Woo hoo!

l said...

Liberals are agonizing over how to oppose Obama's war without opposing him:

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/30/us/30antiwar.html?_r=2

MoveOn 'activists' want to end the war in Iraq (they don't talk about AfPak).

http://pol.moveon.org/2009/agenda/results/

But even that can wait until after universal health care, a new WPA and free solar panels.

Anonymous said...

Having American troops fight against radical Muslims that support anti-Western terrorism does make sense. They only problem is that they're doing it in Afghanistan instead of Saudi Arabia where it WOULD make a difference. If the real goal of this war is to make heroin cheaper on US streets, so far it's is proving to be a resounding success. No seriously, I think it's just one more episode of the 'forever war' the US is 'hooked on' since the end of WW2. You're canceling F-22s and ASW assets that may be needed as a counter to China in order to afford this pointless adventure.

Barzouf

Anonymous said...

It would be another thing if Afghanastan was developing apace and that the time we are buying there was actually going to have some lasting effect. My guess is that Afghanastan will revert back to the 7th century about 15 minutes after the last American leaves.

Svigor said...

Steve your big blind spot, one you can't intellectually wrap yourself around, is how vulnerable the US is because no one around the world is actually afraid of us. Which makes us a big fat target.

One of your big blind spots is that nothing you advocate will change any of that; it'll just serve someone else's (by that I mean someone other than me) interests in the meantime.

This is analogous to what I constantly have to tell ethnic nationalists (and others with a revolutionary bent); we're going to need massive public support amongst our people to right the ship; if we get that massive support, we won't need a violent revolution because given our system and long term realities, massive support in this country translates into the power to enact change.

In short, we have to close the borders. Anything else and you're asking me to bail out your boat while mine is sinking.

Anonymous said...

In 1978, the New Kabul Times was quoting a prominent member of the then PDPA ruling party :“Privileges which women, by right, must have are equal education, job security, health services, and free time to rear a healthy generation for building the future of the country...”

That period marked the high-water mark of Afghan social development. It is also about the same time as the US started agitating to destabilize what was seen as new Soviet satellite. So much for the US's claim of 'helping the Afghan people' with it's current war.

Barzouf

KingM said...

What was eye-opening to me was how hard some die-hard communists kept fighting after the Soviets pulled out. Communism, for these people, was a huge improvement.

Anonymous said...

There was a point in time when Iran and Afghanistan almost went at it. Maybe we can get that going again. Tell the Frogs and Russians thay can sell all the weapons they want and we'll sell stuff to the Saudis, UAE and Iraq. Win/Win all around... Hey, let's you and him fight!
Too easy I guess. Now US troops are pulling up poppies. That's gonna make us liked. So what if junkies get potent stuff and die? Another win/win. Poppy farmers get paid and we've got less scarecrows.

Truth said...

T99

You made me throw up in my mouth. Please would you read a book by someone literate once...just once.

And please, until you enlist in the U.S. Armed Forced, stop this phony "we" shit.

We are not running around dodging AK-47 bullets and trying not to drive over IED's, "they" are. "We" are sitting at home reading Roissy's columns, and books by "Mystery" 2 hours a night, getting rejected by blondes at Starbucks while "we" pretend to be General George S. Patton over the internet. Get the difference now?

eh said...

Leave?

Absolutely.

That hands the whole country back to the Taliban and AQ.

So fucking what. How the hell is what goes on in that backward dump of such importance to the US that we have send guys over there to get killed and maimed? I don't give a damn how many 'terrorists' there might be now or later in Afghanistan, Iraq, or anywhere else. There can be ten million of them for all I care. We have plenty of weapons to defend ourselves without going over there looking for a fight. The problem arose because we let them in over here.

All this reminds me of the domino theory, which was used to justify bloody interventions not only in SE Asia but elsewhere as well. And it turned out to be a load of crap.

Having American troops fight against radical Muslims that support anti-Western terrorism does make sense.

Go enlist then.

To me nothing makes less sense than the prospect of getting killed in Afghan-i-fucking-stan.

President Barack 'Change' Obama. What a jerk.

daveg said...

Yeah, Afgahistan with a GDP of like zero is going to attack us. Like they pose some sort of serious threat to the US...


... except if you continue to allow huge numbers of Muslims, including Saudis, to enter you country, which we do.

We do this, largely, due to the immigration stance of the members of another tribe, testing99's tribe to be specific.

It would cost virtually nothing to suspend 98% of immigration for the middle east and it would reduce the risk by orders of magnitude if we did.

No money spent. No lives lost.

Isreal built a wall and that has reduced terrorism tremendously. Israel's excursions into Lebanon were not so effective.

But you can rest assured that testing99 values Israeli lives and dollars much more than US ones.

Anonymous said...

The U.S. should get out of Afghanistan. This is a war they are not going to win. The Taliban are not leaving and have nowhere else to go. They don't have to do anything to win, just hang in there.

Anonymous said...

Reply to testing99:

I don't know who you are but you sound like a neocon kook. What you say is wrong, wrong, wrong.

Mr. Anon said...

All the democrats I know, who could talk at great length about the evils of George W. Bush's military adventures, are now silent on matters of war and peace. Now that it's Obama's war, they have nothing to say.

So, testing99, what are our choices? Leave? Damned Straight, leave - with the explicit threat that we'll exterminate them all if they ever f**k with us again. That's what we should have done seven years ago after we first invaded. A quick, brutal campaign to kill every last Taliban and Al Quaida thug (conducted by us without the use of local allies), and then leave. No nation building, no winning hearts and minds - none of that crap. I don't give a f**k about the people of Afghanistan - let them keep their 11th century ways to their hearts' content. Just wreak vengence and then leave. That, and not let them into our country, of course.

We would be far more respected around the world, and far safer too, if that were our policy.

headache said...

testy sez:
So what are our choices?
Leave?



Here's my take: The US has generally chosen its wars so that it could come out on top, usually as a third party taking advantage of 2 deadlocked and weakened foes (WWI and WWII). Wherever the US acted as lone party, it often ended in a stalemate or withdrawal (Korea and Vietnam). Or it chooses ridiculously weak foes such as Iraq and the Taliban.
The problem with the Taliban is that they have managed to wipe both the British Empire’s and the USSR's asses. That does not bode well for the future. Of course you can wack a few towelheads with Hellfires and other ridiculously expensive ammo, but in the long run the US is not going to keep tallying up casualties and just act like its normal. The Taliban have a long-term strategy. They know they cannot win an outright fight, and are toast in the short to medium term. But 10 years is nothing for them, whilst 10 years is a f. long time for any western country with 4-year election cycles, a rebellious MSM and volatile populace (lot's of wimmenz who hate, hate, hate betas and the military). So regardless of any geostrategic rants by the likes of testy, the Taliban's are just going to sit this one out, placing their thumbs in the one sore wound no western power can cover up due to structural reasons (democracy, wimmen, consumerism, anti-war): time

Ronduck said...

I have to agree with T99. IF you want a world where America does not intervene, then we will have to defeat multi-kult here in the US so that we can profile/expel Muslims who cause problems. Otherwise the only real deterrent left is to invade their countries.

To put it another way, since we can't be racist here we have to act like an empire.

Fred said...

testing99,

You're missing the point. We could stay in Afghanistan indefinitely using the de facto later Bush approach: not too many troops (~25k), air power, keep Kabul under control, launch UAV strikes at radicals in Pakistan, and let the rest of the country fester, while minimizing U.S. casualties.

Obama actually bought the lefty talking points about Afghanistan being more important than Iraq and he dramatically increased the number of troops in Afghanistan and had them try to actually control the whole country. Big mistake. Taking 40+ casualties a month in Afghanistan, as we are now, is politically unsustainable. At this point, the smarter option would be to divvy the country up among a loose confederation of friendly warlords and give them the arms and air support to keep the Pashtuns busy for the next few decades.

Sid said...

Hamid Karzai ran on an anti-America platform. Let us say to him and all of the warlords who actually rule things, "We'll leave once you hand us Osama Bin Laden's head. After that, we're gone."

Bob said...

"Kill everyone in Afghanistan? Not politically possible."

Fess up nutcase, you clearly wish this were otherwise, don't you?

Richard Hoste said...

"testing 99 said..."

Oh God, why did I click on the comments?

albertosaurus said...

Today on Fox News there are pundits calling for "more boots on the ground". I suspect that the Obama administration will go the other way.

Clinton fought a war which no one now remembers from 30,000 feet. He didn't want to risk his popularity with a high body count of American boys.

As Obama's popularity declines I think he will be attracted to the new systems that allow soldiers to stay in America and fly unmanned planes on the other side of the world.

Some of these unmanned planes are pretty cheap as twenty first century military aircraft go. Their air frames are not much more than a Piper Cub with a Subaru engine. The electronics are where all the value is and those parts are subject to Moore's Law. They will get cheaper yet.

Fill the skies with Predators and shoot everything that moves. We can do that indefinitely. No CNN film at 11, no body bags, no Cindy Sheehan.

corvinus said...

A quandary, all right.

Iraq is actually a civilized country, and has been for thousands of years (when it is not being devastated by war).

Afghanistan, on the other hand, is the West Virginia of the Middle East. Nothing could get those Pashtun hicks from shootin' their neighbors over a stolen goat and growin' meth -- er, heroin -- not to mention marrying their cousins.

John Seiler said...

Hey, hey, Obam-A,
How many kids did you kill today?

Two Million Murdered Cambodians said...

All this reminds me of the domino theory, which was used to justify bloody interventions not only in SE Asia but elsewhere as well. And it turned out to be a load of crap.

Please forgive us for overloading your sewer system.

Reactionary said...

Fill the skies with Predators and shoot everything that moves. We can do that indefinitely. No CNN film at 11, no body bags, no Cindy Sheehan.

Only fly in that ointment is Al Jazeera showing footage of Afghan wedding parties all shot up because some 25-year old back at base thought they looked like Al Qaida ready to storm the ramparts. Doesn't matter if he guessed right or guessed wrong; in either event, some Muslim engineering student somewhere is planning payback.

If you're going to invade the world, you can't invite the world. Curiously, I never, ever see whiskey/t99 advocating for repeal of the open borders and civil rights laws that are the real source of our doom.

headache said...

I can already see European liberals fretting over all the refugees from Afghanistan when the Taliban take over again. And how we need to embrace them and accommodate them and build more mosques. Argghhh!

Mr. Anon said...

"Two Million Murdered Cambodians said...

Please forgive us for overloading your sewer system."

Cambodia wasn't our problem until we made it our problem.

And anyway, who righted THAT domino? Communist Vietnam, as I recall.

David said...

>Please forgive us for overloading your sewer system.<

Not your fault; we opened that system to you ourselves.

PRCalDude said...

grim milestone

The reporters are back to using "grim milestone" like during the Bush years in Iraq. The consistency is actually somewhat refreshing.

PRCalDude said...

That period marked the high-water mark of Afghan social development.

No, the high water mark was achieved during the pre-Islamic days of Afghanistan when they were still Buddhists or Hindus.

Anonymous said...

To put it another way, since we can't be racist here we have to act like an empire.

How's that working out? We've got the worst of both.

Anonymous said...

Nice to see Truth and Svigor shoulder to shoulder here...

Ronduck said...

How's that working out? We've got the worst of both.

I can agree to that. But imagine America as a fortress. If we wanted to make the fortress safe we could simply close the gate, but unfortunately America has large numbers of morons who think that gates are evil and must be destroyed. If we could close the gate our oceans would very much be an effective defense.

However, since we cannot close the gate we have to close the gate we have to go out into the surrounding countryside to police it in order to make sure we don't hav problems ourselves.

The real tragedy of our predicament is that the libtards are opposed to both closing the gate to foriegners *and* they are opposed to effective Empire as well. So instead we get to whack the hornet's nest overseas with very little way of keeping the angry foreigners out who wish to harm us.

I would like some resolution to this problem, but America seems to have crossed the threshhold of having too many coloreds and liberals who wish this country harm.

Ronduck said...

Uggh. There are so many spelling errors in my previous post, it really is embarrassing.

Parsi said...

Those who comment on iSteve mostly take it for granted that Afghanistan is the way it is because the Afghans are the way they are. But that isn't something right-thinking persons are permitted to think, much less say. So I was a bit surprised to read a Michael Yon post which expresses contempt for a society in which every house is a mini-Alamo, which has never mastered the art of road-building, which has no architecture to speak of, and no written history. He draws an unfavorable comparison with Switzerland and Austria (similar terrain, landlocked). He concludes that "the people are backwards". That's pretty strong stuff for someone who has written columns for National Review.

jody said...

how much trouble did the US have with muslims in 1809? what about in 1909?

yeah.

it's all about letting the other ethnic groups come to the US. period. keep them out, keep their population at 0, do not physically allow them to even get close to US soil. then, HOW CAN THEY POSSIBLY DO ANYTHING?

the united states has ALL of the power here. the muslims have none. NONE! if the US federal government wanted 100% of them gone, and not a single one to ever set foot in the US again, they could make it happen EASILY.

how people cannot see this is far beyond me. if japan could not physically approach hawaii, how could they have attacked it? anybody who can't understand these extremely, EXTREMELY simple ideas is either

1) a moron
2) a neocon
3) a white or jewish liberal

Svigor said...

But you can rest assured that testing99 values Israeli lives and dollars much more than US ones.

This is a hard conclusion to avoid; anyone as invested in the issue as he, and as ostensibly patriotic (toward America), should be crapping Semtex over the fact that Israel gets to have a border, and we don't.

Anonymous said...

"Here's my take: The US has generally chosen its wars so that it could come out on top, usually as a third party taking advantage of 2 deadlocked and weakened foes (WWI and WWII). "

A totally wrong view (at least of those two).

"Wherever the US acted as lone party, it often ended in a stalemate or withdrawal (Korea and Vietnam)."

The US was not acting unilaterally in either of those conflicts. In the first it was as part of a United Nations force and in the second I believe there was an organization called SEATO.

"Or it chooses ridiculously weak foes such as Iraq and the Taliban. The problem with the Taliban is that they have managed to wipe both the British Empire’s and the USSR's asses."

The Taleban were not around at the time of the Anglo-Afghan wars and we only lost the First of those. The Second was a victory and in the third we just bombed them with our new RAF until they creamed in.

Nontheless it should be noted that as far as I am aware we never intended to conquer or civilize Afghanistan, it was simply a buffer between the Raj and the Russians, who turned up late anyway.

I hope that ISAF does not have a serious intent to civilize Afghanistan and that the aim of supporting democracy is just media ops.
An old fashioned 'pacification' campaign needs to be conducted before we can even think about democracy and women's rights and all that. Better off to crush the taleban and put well defended physical infrastructure first.

David said...

>He concludes that "the people are backwards". That's pretty strong stuff<

Nah, he's just smuggling in the old, old idea that it's our job to go civilize 'em - educate 'em about democrazy and such. Save the Afghans!

Silver said...



That hands the whole country back to the Taliban and AQ. The last time we did that, we lost two skyscrapers, part of the Pentagon, 4 jet planes, and 3,000 Americans. It could have easily been 14,000 as was originally feared.

Kill everyone in Afghanistan? Not politically possible. Kill everyone in nuclear-armed, unstable/factional Pakistan? Not even remotely politically possible.


Absolutely right. Steve, leaving might save Americans' money, spare Americans' lives, redeem America's political standing with the muslim world, but think man, think of the costs. You can't leave now. Come on Steve, that's six kinds of stupid.

After all, there's still one more idea you can try: settlements. They're proven to placate restive populations.

Silver said...

how much trouble did the US have with muslims in 1809?

Not zero. You're forgetting the Barbary Wars.