As Kabul Burns, The President Needs To Speak Up
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  • Kenny

    The president needs to speak up!!!!

    Wrong.

    Everytime that idiot opens his mouth, he makes things worse.

  • Bart Hall (Kansas, USA)

    What the Commander-in-Chief needs to do, very quietly, is to formulate a plan for our operatives to seize the entire Paki nuclear arsenal. Pakistan is simply too chaotic, too corrupt, and too compromised to be allowed retention of nuclear weapons. Their removal is a key aspect of long-term American security.

    If Obama has any class — big IF, I know — he’d have them set the op for mid-November. Not only is it after the election, but its a really good low-lume window in which we would have great tactical advantage.

    Had he won on the 6th it would be seen as classy statesmanship to have delayed. Had he lost it would be seen as a classy gift to his successor and make it clear that despite his flaws domestically he did what counted, when it mattered, in the struggle against militant islam.

  • Mark Michael

    Re: “Ryan Crocker, the US ambassador to Pakistan, warns that the attack highlights the need for the US to stay the course in Afghanistan.”

    Quickie correction: Ryan Crocker is U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, not Pakistan. (I’m sure this was a slip.)

  • Kenny

    Bart Hall writes, “What the Commander-in-Chief needs to do, very quietly, is to formulate a plan for our operatives to seize the entire Paki nuclear arsenal.”

    We have those plans, Bart. What needs to happen is the order to go ahead and execute them.

  • Anthony

    WRM, in another post you wrote: some ignorant, mean spirited and bigoted people use…but hopefully you are not one of that number; can we ascribe similar reason to ad hominem identifiers of President of United States?

  • Brett

    For groups like Al-Qaeda and its gang of assorted siblings and offshoots, anything that can be perceived as a military victory against the US and its allies is oxygen. The prestige of these groups, in steep decline given their miserable military record, will recover. Recruiting will prosper. Donations will flow.

    Al-Qaeda? Al-Qaeda is in ruins. Their titular and operational leader is dead, most of their operational officers are dead (including Awlaki, their guy in Yemen), and they have little to no ability to launch a major terrorist attack in the US. Even if they did use the withdrawal as breathing room to re-build, no one in that organization has the stature that Bin Laden had, and the US is actually wide awake about the potential threat of terrorism (unlike before 9/11).

    It is a vital US interest to hold on in Afghanistan until there is some kind of agreement that stabilizes the country, more or less. Difficult as that is, it is easier than living with the consequences of an ignominious retreat — and those consequences will be felt far more widely than in Afghanistan alone.

    You’re not going to get that type of agreement, not without effectively handing the country over to one of the Taliban factions. Only one of which wants to negotiate with us, and not the most dangerous one (nor the one backed by Pakistan).

    The time-limited surge may not have been the most brilliant war plan ever devised, and US strategy needs to evolve in light of events, but at the most basic level the White House was right to see that it was more expensive to run away from Afghanistan than to hold on, and that the only way out involved a strengthening of the Afghan state as a prerequisite for an acceptable peace.

    What the US has done since 2008 isn’t “strengthening the state”. It’s created a country and government that’s wholly dependent on foreign (47% of the overall economy), with a security apparatus that it will never be able to afford – and which still fails to keep order.

  • “. . . Other governments in the region are increasingly united in their concern that the worst elements in Pakistan’s security structure have plans for postwar Afghanistan that are unacceptable. Russia, India, China and Iran: none of them can tolerate the kind of Afghanistan that the ISI would like to create.”

    Excellent point in a very perceptive and timely post. If Russia, India, China and (a more rational future) Iran CAN’T get together on what is sure one day to prove a matter of life-and-death security for all of them, then Eurasia is in deeper trouble over a longer haul than any of us can imagine. In a marginally sane world, of course, they would all be natural allies, partic. over the disposition and management – perhaps eventually even development? – of their common frontier. What I can’t see is how the alternatives for each of them will prove anything but self-destabilizing in the short term, if not quasi-suicidal in the long. Russia as a country gains nothing by drifting ever closer to Germany over the prospect of some pseudo-joint sphere of influence in eastern Europe; China as a country gains even less by stooging for Saudi-Paki geopolitical designs (on account of – what? – some mad CIVILIZATIONAL rivalry with India?); Iran as a country seeks its own utter marginalization by persisting in meddling with the Arab world, and so neglecting its Central Asian backyard (though that, I fear, may be the price of the present REGIME’s survival); India as a country thoroughly weakens any chances for rapprochement with Pakistan – besides further isolating whatever islands remain of Paki sanity – by drifting ever closer to its “Hinduist” extremists.

    In short, let me be first to insist that AS COUNTRIES these various states have every chance of peace with each other, and that over a common frontier, simply by pursuing their own RATIONAL, existential self-interests. It is chiefly AS CIVILIZATIONS that they clash. And not one of them has anything to gain by playing with Islamist fire.

    As for the rest of what they’ve been doing, or failing to do, up till now? THAT, the best I can make out, is about all that remains of the creaky, fire-prone House that Dave and Zbig Built. Trilateralism has had a fairly long run, though not a good one. Time perhaps for a new house?

  • A) Afghans are going to continue to blow each other up in the millennia-long Sunni-Shia split. There is nothing the West, or America, can or should do about this. Until and unless islam has an Enlightenment and Restoration, this will continue – not my problem or that of my kids.

    B) There is exactly NOTHING in any muslim nation worth the life of ONE post-Enlightenment Westerner. And certainly not worth the non-existence of the never-born children of our dead soldiers.

    C) If we’d had the guts to deal with Tora Bora correctly over a decade ago – by removing the entire top of the mountain – we could have been outta there with far fewer lives lost on either side of this conflict, at a far lower cost a decade ago and would have painted a very bright line: Don’t mess with us.

    D) The correct way to deal with this problem is here: http://www.amazon.com/China-Rising-ebook/dp/B006JGFB2G/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1334593975&sr=1-1

  • @JR Yankovic. Not sure, but you may be projecting Western cultural and civilizational attitudes onto a distinctly non-Western, indeed anti-Western (i.e. West is post-Enlightenment) world.

  • “It is a vital US interest to hold on in Afghanistan until there is some kind of agreement that stabilizes the country, more or less.”

    Vital? The American people beg to disagree: it is a luxury we cannot afford.

  • “@JR Yankovic. Not sure, but you may be projecting Western cultural and civilizational attitudes onto a distinctly non-Western, indeed anti-Western (i.e. West is post-Enlightenment) world.”

    You certainly may be right.

    My aim, though, was not to suggest that Russians, Chinese, Indians, Persians are either Western or Westernizable. My apologies if I did. My point is that they’re all human, and each people identifies with a distinct non-Wahhabi or non-Muslim society in the preservation of which it has some stake. They are also confronted with one of the most self-dehumanizing ideologies man has devised. While evidently it can be contained, it is not evident that it can both continue to spread AND be controlled in ways that preserve civil liberties as we presently know them. My sense is that if these four societies intend to remain more or less the entities they are, and not become something drastically different owing to the destabilization of their frontiers, they need to take concerted measures to counteract this ideology’s appeal.

    If you’ll permit me the use of some rather strange metaphors: Historically Islam – whether Shia or Sunni – seems to be a tolerable enough mantle in many parts of the world when worn LIGHTLY (particularly, one notices, in non-Arab countries). It’s when the wearer starts pulling it closer to the body that it begins to press harder and dig deeper, in time becoming, I suppose, brutally uncomfortable – rather like a hair-shirt – if not humanly unbearable. I don’t know how far this inhuman uncomfortableness is of the essence of Islam, and how much is the fruit of interchange with hostile cultures. A certain element of raw, harsh, combative puritanism does seem to go back to the beginnings; yet in the faith that’s come down to us over the centuries it seems very neatly to have become just one element among many. And by no means the dominant strain – at least not until recently. I’m sure many modern forces have helped to give impetus to today’s rather aggressively philistine, “Life is Business when it’s not Religion” strand of Sunni Islam. But can anyone doubt the part played in its re-politicization – and arguably re-militarization – by the Western need to confront Communism? (Which in lengthened hindsight – mine anyway – is beginning to look more and more like a US-Saudi “need” to destabilize and neutralize Russia; speaking of which, is it only me who notices a replay here of the whole Ottoman vs Byzantine showdown?)

    Now I’m sure it would be a rewarding line of inquiry to explore how far post-Enlightenment Western ingredients have gone into the witches’ brew that is modern jihadism. Far less speculative, though, is the part that US geopolitical or investment agendas may have played in homogenizing and radicalizing Islam in countries like not only Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bosnia, but Egypt and Saudi Arabia, perhaps even Turkey. That is, their role in encouraging – perhaps even provoking? – even hitherto “mildly” or syncretically Islamic countries, as well as the stricter ones like Saudi, to wrap the Muslim cloak more tightly.

    And so we come to roughly the past 18 years, and jihadism as we know it. Just what is distinctive, if not unique, about jihadism’s effect on its followers, as compared with that of other nihilistic ideologies of the 20th century? Essentially jihadism empowers its adherent to countenance the limitless slaughter and destruction, not just of the Other, but of His Own. And not just of the Other’s country but of his own country, assuming he still has one (so God help us when we’re ALL countryless). And not – as one might hope – the better to serve Satan, in order to expedite his own entry into hell, but as an act of service and worship to God and Heaven: the very God, in fact, who made the human creatures the jihadist is now slaughtering. Now I make no claim to a gifted imagination. And so I can’t imagine anything more literally Satanic even if it were done by a Satanist. I also don’t know how far such an ideology has existed prior to the 20th century. But it was never before, so far as I’m aware, a prominent part of the political landscape anywhere outside the Middle East. Today it is so quasi-respectable everywhere that, while I notice the nameless phenomenon of “terror” being combated by every military, economic and technical means at our disposal, I don’t observe anyone in the West anathematizing – making shameful and reprehensible – the open profession of the jihadist faith. Certainly not in anything like the ways respectable Westerners have anathematized racism, sexism and homophobia. And frankly I can’t for the life of me see why not. To argue that to do so would risk offending against the canon of what it means to be Muslim is, to me, a little like saying that criticizing racism offends against the canon of what it means to be Southern. Jihadism, along with the toxic soils in which it grows – Wahhabism, Salafism, Deobandism, etc – is as much the “enemy of the human race” as Barbary Coast piracy was. And probably most of all to other Muslims: first, because under this sort of scrutiny you can never be righteously Muslim enough, or, if you’re a member of the diaspora, hostile enough to your surrounding society; second, because if you (or your daughter) aren’t measuring up, you can never trust one of your righteouser-than-thou co-religionists to be humble enough NOT to take God’s discipline, chastisement, vengeance, etc, into his own hands. Imagine whole moderate congregations – I’m thinking partic. of the diaspora – being slowly pressured in the direction of crazily zealous minorities. Worst of all, of course, what guarantee is there – in this most patient and kindly of all religious ages – of the infection not spreading to other faiths? And if it does, what are the odds of whole cities, districts, regions, in the case of Africa whole countries, remaining territorially – i.e., democratically – governable?

    Last of all, I’m not nearly as pessimistic – or even as much of a worrier – as Prof Mead concerning certain issues he seems to hold very close to his heart. And so I have no problem imagining the most passionate entrepreneurialism taking hold everywhere in both developed and emerging economies – including certain parts of the Muslim world even now closed to infidels. But assuming we also continue in our present ways of (de)valuing human decency – i.e, discounting clemency for the weak, the slow, the stupid, the naturally meek and unaggressive, etc – I don’t see how entrepreneurial values ALONE are going to be much of an inoculation against even the softer forms of jihadism. In ANY religion.

    God save democracy.

  • “I don’t observe anyone in the West anathematizing – making shameful and reprehensible – the open profession of the jihadist faith . . . And frankly I can’t for the life of me see why not.”

    Sorry – that was cheap and disingenuous of me. I DO have an idea why this hasn’t been done properly. And it isn’t just out of our Western love for fair-mindedness, or “balance,” or political correctness. Let’s face it, we’re scared @#%$. (In which case, just what kind of monster have we helped spawn?)

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