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18 August 2009


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Abu Sinan

It's coming from people who have a vested interest in keeping us in the Middle East and wider Islamic world, and not because they want American to be loved by the "ummah".

These people want America invested in these countries to help promote their own issues.

These are the same people who after 9/11 said that their enemies were our enemies when that isnt the case.

Bill Wade, NH



It would be interesting to compare this rhetoric to the rhetoric used against the Navajos and Apache 125 years ago. I'm sure those were not wars of choice, either, but instead wars against savages who threatened the American way of life and settlers who put themselves in harm's way. Of course, we all know now that the wars against Native Americans was simply a land and resource grab.

Are the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan really all that different?

Hannah K. O'Luthon

Thanks to Colonel Lang for
once again making the difference between clear headed analysis and "crackpot realism" evident. Unfortunately the crackpots have strong political support from the usual suspects, both other nations and domestic lobbies, so one can't expect reason to prevail even in the presence of bitter experience of the consequences of moving down such primrose paths in expectation of being greeted by a rejoicing indigenous populace offering flowers and sweets.

Patrick Lang


No problem on the Indian Wars stuff. I had ancestors in both sides of that. (Army, not settlers)

These two little wars are really not subject to a marxist analysis. There is nothing there that we could not have had without all the effort.

There might be an argument to be made that the usual third party were foolish enough to think that they might gain something in that way from a US invasion. pl

William P. Fitzgerald III

Pat Lang,

Having looked at the briefing, I find it hard to believe that it was actually presented to the JCS. How embarrassing! I'd observe that it consists of a collection of out of context facts, purported facts, false statements of fact, and false analogies leading a concoction of of faulty conclusions.

The path being taken by the Obama administration might be conclusive evidence that this country is unable to function without "existential threats", even if we have to make them up. I wonder if our national ethos has such a dominant manichean component that an evil enemy is necessary? We, of course, would, in this perpetual arrangement, always be the force for good. That certainly fits the "long war" program.



Power Point presentations have been written by shady consultants that support the idea that "the Muzlims" want to restore that supposedly theocratic "uber" state under the name of the "Caliphate," (khilafa) and to reduce such existing countries as Pakistan, Egypt, Denmark, etc. to mere commanderies (emirates) of the "Muzlim" world empire. An example of such a briefing for the JCS is at the bottom of this post.

The PPT file was horrifying: Strategic policy presented in a color scheme that gives it the look, feel and substance of a Superman Comic. Tom Ricks mentioned PPT presentations as a substitute for analysis in Fiasco. My guess is that they were in the same league as this.

Please don't tell me that such garbage is still being used to influence the Obama Administration!? What the hell happened to Obama once he got into office? (Shakes head sadly.)



Unlike you, I cannot speak for Virginians though I work in Virginia. But, because humans fight wars, there are observations from the American Civil War that pertain to the current war in Afghanistan.

I have no doubt one reason the Army of Northern Virginia surrendered at Appomattox besides the death and starvation was that there was no more of Virginia left to defend. Only enough boots on the ground to deny Taliban access to their families and tribes will end the Afghanistan War. Killing religious fanatics one by one is pointless as long as the occupied can reproduce new warriors and leaders.

Myths and Legends abound afterwards to explain the defeat and rejoining the Union and how General Robert E Lee prevented a guerrilla war. Except, there was an underground war fought by Nathan Bedord Forrest and the KKK against Yankee Carpetbaggers. Only, with Congressional approval of the 1877 Compromise withdrawing Federal Troops from the South and agreeing to spur industrialization, did the American Civil War really end.

Patrick Lang


"Only enough boots on the ground to deny Taliban access to their families and tribes will end the Afghanistan War."

And how many would that be? pl

Patrick Lang


The resistance of the 1st Klan to military occupation and government was nothing compared to what would have happened across the whole of the former Confederacy if Davis, Lee and Judah Benjamin had called for a general levee en massee. pl


PL, its not a marxist anaysis; its a financial analysis. The wars are costing hundreds and hundreds of billions of dollars. The money is sucked out of the taxpayer and much of it deployed to private industry well connected to government (the revolving door between government and industry). The companies making all the money fund the political campaigns. I believe that money is a huge part of this game.

You keep saying that we would have had access to the oil whether or not we went in to Iraq is false in my view. Its much safer, more secure and lucrative to have pro-American puppets in Iraq than a Saddam who threatened our access.

Sure, Israel has a lot to do with this also. Seems like a perfect storm for right wing Christian and Jewish Zionists for religious reasons and Capitalists for financial reasons.....none of which respected the life or liberty of the Arabs who live there for centuries.


PL wrote: "So, how is this different from the deluded propaganda that the Bush Administration served up about Iraq for years and years?"

Easy. It is not different.

Did anyone watch the Newshour on Monday? The piece about those poor souls at the FOB? Just sad...f'in sad.


I've said this over and over. Neocons want war all the time. They and their cronies at the Pentagon and in the
military/industrial complex, guess that's a redundancy, know that arms manufacturing is a source of huge employment and profits to the companies which contribute large to politicians. Always, it's about following the money trail.

Obama has drunk their Kool Aid, just like all presidents since Ike.

Farmer Don

Col. Lang,

Obama is not doing anything that he did not promise during the election campaign. If you watched the debates you will remember he promised to pull out of Iraq, and put more troops into Afghanistan.

He is doing exactly that.

I found it odd, that he would see the two wars in such a different light.

The people who voted for him, probably chose not to believe his statements about Afghanistan at the time.


Colonel Lang,

General Lee himself gave the reason why the Army of Northern Virginia yielded. They were "compelled to yield to overwhelming numbers and resources". It is impossible to imagine the US fielding a force that the Afghan resistance fighters would find to be overwhelming numbers and resources. Some several dozen of my ancestors rode with the 7th and 12th Virginia Cavalry. They would not have yielded to any sort of COIN blandishments offered by the Northern invaders of the Commonwealth. I anticipate that the Afghan resistance fighters will, for many of the same sentiments, continue fighting till the foreign invaders depart. We know how this war started; we know how it will end. What we don't know is how much more blood and treasure our leaders will waste in between.

USMC 1965-1972
FBI 1972-1996

William R. Cumming

My guess is that it will take a shock from outside to keep the US from being regarded as a dangerous "Joke" as long as speeches are being given by Obama like that described. He clearly is poorl advised and does not get "it"! There is no existential threat to the US from AQ at this point in time.

Duncan Kinder

If Afghanistan is a "war of necessity," then by virtue of the exact same logic, Somalia certainly and Yemen, quite plausibly, should also be.

Meanwhile, any serious calculus of actual threats to the United States right now would highlight the Mexican drug lords.

And here's a new development: Canada: The new global drug lord: Canada is a leading producer, and exporter, of illegal synthetic drugs

Cloned Poster

Nato's announced its forces would halt offensive military operations on election day and would undertake missions only if they were "deemed necessary to protect the population."


This is so obtuse from NATO, they should be doing this all the time.



The diseased, aged, infirmed and white boys were all that were left for the South to fight the Battle of Petersburg. If Blacks were conscripted, Jeff Davis would have to have granted them their Civil Rights, a Century earlier. A million Union troops were required to conquer and occupy the South. The brilliance of the American leaders of the Civil War and WWII is that they recognized what total war requires and how to make peace with the conquered.

Today our leaders’ only concern is where the next re-election dollar comes from. Instead of focus groups and creating their own reality; real leaders would cobble together a million soldiers and policemen (significantly fewer if they are Afghans) and force a political settlement with the Taliban and get the hell out of there. Since Washington DC is not doing what is required to end the war, lining one’s pocket and avoiding being labeled as a Loser have to be the primary motivations for the Long War.

Patrick Lang


Hey, you know that the WB the S is "my thing." A lot of my second novel, DPH is set in the events of which you speak.

When "Spoons" Butler landed around City Point and then approached Petersburg there were no "regular" troops" in the town because you can't be everywhere in strength all the time. The A of NV was rather tied up at Spotsylvania just then and it took Beuregard, the department commander (with headquarters in Charleston, SC) a while to assemble a force with which to drive Butler back. Nevertheless, the state militia, convalescents, old boys and a few officers who happened to be there, managed to frighten Butler into pulling back from the town. This provided enough time for Beauregard and company to arrive. What followed was the Battle of Drewry's Bluff and Butler's withdrawal into the Bermuda Hundred lodgement NE of Petersburg. pl

Patrick Lang


Ah. The "Laurel Brigade." a fine outfit.

Jubal Early (my favorite WBS man) used to joke that "The Laurel is a running vine," or that they were "buttermilk rangers."

But then, his dilike of cavalrymen was general.


Patrick Lang


"than a Saddam who threatened our access."

Come now. The old b-----d never did any such thing. WE restricted the export of Iraqi oil endlessly. We did that. They wanted to sell the oil in the world market. They needed the money. It got to be a major shady international business trying to get the UN sanctions committee and the State Department to approve wavers in the sanctions for the sale of the limited oil allotments that were allowed for humanitarian reasons (money to pay for medecine, etc.)

I am sorry to say it, but you are utterly wrong about this. I was in business in the ME at the time working around people who struggled to get some of these oil allocations. pl


I am not a military man but understand intentions and capabilities have to be considered in analyzing threats. Saddam wanted WMD. Bin Laden wants WMD. I want to be young, handsome and rich. I'm old, balding and just getting by. Wishing doesn't make it so.

It is hard to believe nonsense such as the PowerPoint you linked to is shown to adults. Does anyone read anymore or has ADHD infected everyone?

My Confederate people were Georgia yeomen farmers and SC textile mill hands, yes even in 1860. My impression is that Southern white men had voted with their feet. They were used up and ready to get back home. I should read your CW books.


Col Lang,

I never thought I'd see someone give Doug Feith a run for being the dumbest guy in the room....

I have to say that I don't know whether to be shocked, or dumbfounded that such an idiotic analysis could be presented to our military leadership without it being laughed out of the room. How in the hell does someone like this get to influence policy makers?

I mean, c'mon... the expanding green blob signifying Muslim conquest of northern Africa, Turkey, the Middle East, India and Indonesia is just like those old rediculous 1950's flims showing an expanding red menace flowing all over the globe accompanied by creepy music.

The various Shia and Sunni sects can't figure out how to live on the same block, much less govern a country so how are they going to unite to accomplish this regional domination???

The only thing more laughable (and sadder) is that much of America is swallowing this s*** sandwich being served up by pro-Israeli neo-cons and their allies in the defense industry. Didn't we just vote to get rid of this gang who couldn't shoot straight.

Maybe, just maybe there are some rational people at the NSC, State and Defense departments who can steer our policy down the correct path.


Interesting that I get accused of marxist thinking for suggesting that the US occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan have economic motivations.

Hmmm--so what are the motivations? Why won't anyone provide a credible rationale? Are we to believe--as politicians and the media seem to suggest by their silence on the matter--that these are simply Jerry Seinfeld wars--about nothing? Are we to believe that the US government wastes trillions for no reason whatsoever?

Or is it really believable that otherwise sane leaders are simply broadcasting the national treasury, tilting at ideological windmills. I have a really hard time believing that. And I shudder at the thought.

So someone please give me a non-economic justification for piling up the national debt, raiding the Social Security Trust Fund and borrowing from China, Japan and oil producers.

Of course, economic reasons abound, though they are never mentioned. "Control a nation's oil supply and you control the nation," a statement attributed to Henry Kissinger. Controlling the Persian Gulf and Caspian Sea would give the US control of virtually everybody's oil supply and provide a convenient fueling stop for the airplanes policing the oil sources.

And Afghanistan? The historical gateway to South Asia, sitting close to the Silk Route between East and West Asia, as well as an area critical to controlling pipeline routes from West Asia to East and South Asia.

No economics involved here? Maybe first you should try to convince me that oil is not the industrialized world's life blood.

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