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26 June 2010

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J

Off topic -- the Kagan Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) confirmation hearings will begin June 28.

None of us can help the mugs we are born with, but......Why can't Presidents ever pick a good looking Miss/Ms America for SCOTUS , at least once in a while. We the U.S. citizenry have to look at the ugly SCOTUS mugs year after year after year long after Presidents like Mr. Obama are a passing memory, not to mention having to live with their stupid/deranged/incoherent SCOTUS decisions at times. SCOTUS should NOT be a lifetime position. IMO a SCOTUS position should be for 5 year stints only with no chance of re-election to SCOTUS . A one time good thing with no U.S. taxpayer paid for retirement for SCOTUS members.

Why couldn't Obama have picked a mug that wouldn't break a mirror, at least once?

clifford kiracofe

1. To review:
2008 the DC think tanks and outside the Beltway think tanks are doing a land office business on Afghanistan policy projects.
Meanwhile the retired military brass is raking it in consulting to the Beltway Bandits and DOD subcontractors for the Afghan War. I seems to recall I was told a certain former Chief of Staff of the Army (I think it is) has been pretty involved in the Afghan contracts industry with assorted retired types. DP I heard was quite close to this general.

2. 2009 the assorted think tanks, university types (Harvard etal), and all the politically correct types are triumphalist per Afghanistan. As is that "strategist" Biddle at the Council on Foreign Relations. We do recall that Stan the Former Man took an internship/fellowship at the CFR, conveniently no doubt.

3. Isn't the real issue our overall National Strategy, of which Afghanistan is a piece in a region of interest?

4. When I was in India the last time, I had the opportunity to meet with graduate students and professors in the international relations and history fields.
The Ph.D. students wanted to discuss the theme of the US geopolitical imagination and its influence on policy. Specifically, the writings of Brzezinski and T. Barnett (the Naval Academy guru).
The students and faculty were very well read on the matter and had a lot of searching questions to pose to me.

The dominant pro-Israel foreign policy elite suffers from geopolitical narcissism. I think this in an almost incurable disease of the mind. Particularly so when it pays so well at the think tanks, universities, and military contractors.

5. IMO, the mortality thing hardened Cheney, for example. There are plenty who seem to be willing to play the Alcibiades role while on this earth and feather the nest for their progeny...

Fred

CWZ,

You certainly don't live in the real world. Why after the right managed 5 tax cuts (THE most important thing in time of war according to one indicted congressman) the US Economy is just booming. Afterall it has been almost 10 years since they were passed. Everyone viewing Fox or reading a Murdoch paper knows just where all that money went and just how many jobs in the USA it created. THEY all know they are living in the promised land of milk and honey.

Of course it is probably why the mega-churches are full - the members are trying to save thier souls by buying absolution from some leaders running self-segragated prosperity theology based religion businesses - tax expempt ones, of course.

Phil Giraldi

Many of you in this discussion have lost sight of any possible United States national interest in remaining in Afghanistan. If it is purely a matter of denying the country to al-Qaeda then it is necessary to cut a deal with all interested parties - start the discussion right now. Who cares if Petraeus or Obama winds up on top if they are both promoting the same BS? They are flip sides of the same organism, aren't they?

Richard Armstrong

In all this discussion of Afghanistan I'm still waiting for someone to explain what America's strategic interest is in that quagmire.

And I'd like to see them try and do it while keeping a straight face.

I hate to steal lines from former Chief Executives however Eisenhower nailed it when he said, "In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the militaryindustrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist."

Success in Afghanistan will be defined by and decided upon by those who benefit the most from the conflict.

Cui Bono?

I'll wager that we're still gnashing our teeth over Afghanistan for another five years. If there are any takers, I have a few Benjamins I can spare to bet. We could place our bets at COL Pat Lang's OTB to be payed out to the winner (me) sometime in 2015.

PS. Simply moving the conflict from Afghanistan to some other "failed state" will not be seen to be a "victory" in Afghanistan.

Castellio

This is off topic, but interesting. Former US Marine Kevin O'Keefe speaking to the BBC on his experience on the Mavi Marmara.... You can find the first of three parts at:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JI3_veUAcGE&feature=player_embedded

jerseycityjoan

J,

Maybe John Edwards can be nominated for the next vacancy.

My guess is he'll be available and still have his boyish looks and charm.

Jackie

J,
You mean you don't find the women judges on the SCOTUS to be hot babes? Try looking at the guys sometime. Alito always looks like he swallowed a combination prune/lemon. Rehnquist wasn't any "looker" either.

I think it's the brains, not the beauty.

R Whitman

J-off topic

I think Obama did pretty good picking Ms Kagan. After all, he could have picked Henry Waxman.

fanto

The News Hour had quite a "Homage to Patraeus" last night, complete with one of the Kagan clan giving what sounded like a stock "He walks on water" PP presentation."
I do not understand why they would not look at DP with suspicion since he was the one who placed the Israel / Palestinian issue publicly on the agenda - this was than picked up by the President. IMO this was a very curageous thing to say. So, why the support for him from Kagans?

J

jerseycityjoan, Jackie,

Ok, I'll demure to you ladies and add allowances for 'pitted prunes' from a Playgirl. I just thought a 'view' of the SCOTUS with a Miss/Ms American crown would be a nice touch. I am a lucky one to have my very own Mrs. America who helps me keep all of my stuff in one sock. Too bad our SCOTUS can't have the same 'comfort', they seem to need somebody to help them keep their feces in the slop jar.

Kagan, has no field experience in meting out the law. Too many librarians and not enough field operators (not that occasional librarians aren't needed on occasions). The Kagan hearings that begin this week, sorry but I can't put my TV's picture tube through that agony.

J

Phil,

With Mr. 'P' wearing the Afghan crown, Afghanistan will become the merry-go-round playground for Mercs. Mercs and Iraq didn't/still don't mix, and I fear the same for Afghan-land. Mr. 'P' had a 'blind eye' to fraud/waste/abuse, including the abuse by Mercs like Blackwater upon the indigenous Iraqi populations.

I can still hear today what Dave Hackworth had to say about Mr. 'P'. Bless Hack's soul.

William R. Cumming

What would the Afghan equivalent of the TET OFFENSIVE look like?

Adam L. Silverman

Mr. Martin: This is generally referred to as The Money Gun or Loading the Money Gun or Firing the Money Gun. Essentially, as far as I could ever tell operationally, this was part of the hearts and minds concept. Basically the idea was to have funding lined up and ready, through a variety of lines - some BCT commanders, some PRT/State Department, in the case of Iraq - some Iraqi government money - so that spending on initiatives could begin as soon as reliable host country population partners could be identified. In some cases these things were big construction, development, redevelopment projects. Other times they were quite small. The belief was that one could often demonstrate (buy?) some good will, which would create further openings, with local populations; from the elites and notables down to the everyday citizen. Some times it worked, some times it didn't. The real problem is being able to identify legitimate partners so you don't build up someone who is just posing (I've seen examples where that happened) and that you're actually doing something that population you're working with finds necessary, important, wants, etc. This brings me to my next comment...

Adam L. Silverman

Thomas: It would need to be a pretty sizable set of modifications. First - despite our using the term tribe, and even with those groups within Afghan society that are functioning as tribes, they're not doing it the way we understand tribe in places such as Iraq or Yemen. As a result MAJ Gant's approach would have to be modified to take into account that the actual socio-cultural identifier in Afghanistan is qawn: contextually based social identification which changes based on the social situation and context. Given the shifting nature of identity for many or most of the Afghan identity groups, the strategy would have to be able to shift and adjust very, very often. This is why trying to use the arbakai, tribal/local militias, has been and will continue to be so hit and miss. In some places their primary qawm is based on strong kinship and organizational ties based on common descent, in others not so much. As such the qawm is either week or because of overlapping context shifts so much that they just aren't a reliable partner.

What MAJ Gant did was exceedingly impressive, but what worked with one part of a khel, because of context driven identity may not work in other parts of Afghanistan. An additional constraint is that while 43% or so of Afghans are Pashtuns not all of them organize the same way. And the other societal elements also have differences in how they organize; from urban to rural and from area to area.

I agree one hundred percent that small team driven initiatives, ODAs, CA CAT-As, things like that are the best way to go. The smallest footprint we leave increases our chances for success.

And that brings me to Mr. Giraldi's comment. And the only thing I have to say is that I'd like to know too just what the end state is supposed to be. Because the default COIN end state is simply not achievable in Afghanistan, especially at the national level.

arbogast

Kurt Godel believed that we should use our minds to discover new a priori truths/axioms that permit us to create new theorems that help us in understanding our world. He did not even remotely oppose this view to the inductive process of the great majority of science, but correctly identified it as the basis of all science.

I offer as an axiom, "Obama has no spine whatsoever."

That axiom would explain the hiring of Emmanuel as a kind of prosthetic spine, and it would explain Obama's extreme lordotic posture in response to the thieves raping the American economy.

It is said that Emmanuel ran the McChrystal show. I believe it.

The "deadline"? Colonel Lang is right. No spine, no deadline.

clifford kiracofe

1. "Afghanistan war is mission impossible, says British MP
LONDON, June 26 (APP)-The war in Afghanistan is “mission impossible’ and Britain and other NATO allies should heavily reduce their presence next summer or risk a Vietnam-style defeat, according to a new Conservative MP Rory Stewart, reports “The Times” Stewart, a former soldier and diplomat, believes that a radical rethink is the only option if the NATO-led surge of 40,000 extra troops fails to achieve results by next July.

The MP who spent months in villages across Afghanistan before turning to politics, told the paper: “I do not believe we can win a counterinsurgency campaign. We are never going to have the time or the troop numbers. Even if you put 600,000 troops on the ground I can’t see a credible, effective, legitimate Afghan Government emerging”.
“If you keep going like this the backlash that will build up, the spectres of Vietnam that will emerge in the minds of the British public will mean that we will end up leaving entirely and the country will be much worse off.”
His message to President Obama and Prime Minister David Cameron is:
“OK, you have sent your 40,000 extra troops. You are going to be in there until July of next year. But enough already, no more, let this be the last. Let’s start now talking about a plan “B’ not exit but reduction.”
As newly elected member of Parliament’s influential Foreign Affairs Select Committee, he believes that only a few thousand troops perhaps 1,000 of them British should remain in Afghanistan after next summer.
“ You would have a few planes around but you would no longer do counter-insurgency. You would no longer be in the game of trying to hold huge swathes of rural Afghanistan.”
He conceded that a partial withdrawal would throw up dangers particularly for those Afghans who sided with the British as they would be likely to suffer under a resurgent Taleban.
“ But there are no good options. Our obligations and our interests in Afghanistan are not sufficient to justify the deployment of 100,000 American troops and the expenditure of $100 billion nor the deployment beyond July of next year of this number of British troops and this amount of British money,” he said.
www.app.com.pk/en_/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=107503&Itemid=39

..the right of center Brit politician sounds like a left of center anti-war US "liberal"...or a an old fashioned "conservative" Republican long since gone from the party...

2. I recall a Brit parliamentary group visiting the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee for a closed door meeting some years back. I was present. Given our "special relationhsip" such delegations are well received.

At any rate, discussion was held on foreign affairs issues of the day and of mutual concern.

The Brit delegation had selected a Labour member to raise the Israel issue. After a frank comment from the member about US policy and the lack of progress in the peace process, there was a rather stunned silence on the part of a number of Senators. The pro-Israel type Senators were most uncomfortable with the MPs frank remarks and analysis.

Chairman Pell (D-RI) had a broad smile (as did I).

Stephanie

"This is a box of the President's own making. As far back as 2007, he's consistently called for resourcing and "winning" the war in Afghanistan. He hasn't wavered from that basic position for over three years now. Petraeus or no Petraeus I don't think he will back down now - at least until his second term, should he win. The political cost would be too great."

Very true. Obama's martial rhetoric on Afghanistan often outdid that of his rivals Clinton and McCain, but then Afghanistan is the war that liberals consistently supported regardless of strategy and history. Obama ramped up the war just as he said he would and he will not back down before his second term, if then. Of course he's now taken full responsibility and any failure in Afghanistan will be on his shoulders and not those of any general. Obama has got himself into a position where he's going to take the fall if that becomes necessary.


Jake

At what point does the body count or the financing of the "continued success" campaign begin to either move the goal post closer or change the ineffective strategy?

What am I missing here? We stuck in Vietnam syndrome egos?

Redhand

"Obama is stubborn" says Col. Lang.

"Obama has no spine whatsoever" opines arbogast.

It is interesting that qualities at polar extremes are used to describe the same man.

I think the problem is more fundamental: Obama's actions do not match his promises, because he really doesn't have any principles, save preserving his own power and maintaining the illusion of reform.

The chasm between his campaign promises, to respect civil rights and restore the rule of law in the Presidency, is a great as the Grand Canyon. I won't even begin to list the areas where his words don't match the reality, but a trip through Glenn Greenwald or Scott Horton's blog archives provides more than sufficient proof.

Obama promised sweeping economic reform in the wake of the Wall Street rape of our economy. His selection of Larry Summers and his retention of Tim Geithner as the architects of "reform" shows how hollow that promise was, and what is Obama's biggest lie to date: that the new "financal reform bill" ends the era of "too big to fail." I'm with Dylan Ratigan on this one: "Actually, it is nothing more than window dressing."

Finally, we get to the most important issue in human terms, war and Presidential power to send American to die in conflicts overseas.

I am convinced that this "most sacred responsibility" of a President (my words, but we've all heard the rhetoric) is just another political chess piece on Obama's board. Political considerations will trump ending a meaningless war until the political backlash from the waste of blood and treasure makes withdrawal the expedient thing to do. In this area I rather like Andrew J. Bacevich's warnings about the Pentagon's "long war" COIN infatuation in today's WAPO.

My bottom line is that Obama is not a "wimp" or "spineless," but a politician who will jettison real reform every single time for power-preserving compromises with America's political, financial, and military elites. Obama's advisers - Rham Emmanuel, Larry Summers, Geithner, Gates and Petraeus - are a far greater reflection of our President than any of us would like to think.

Yesterday's "change you can believe in" has become today's "lipstick on a pig."

Sidney O. Smith III

Why is the US in Afghanistan?

That’s an easy one. Neoconservatives want US blood and treasure to the west of Iran (Iraq) and to the east of Iran (Afghanistant) before Israel launches a pre-emptive attack on Iran. Just takes one Jericho III and suddenly US soldiers are fighting Muslims and US soldiers are dying, all on behalf of the Likud mindset.

And what is going to happen to the US body politic when such a war starts?

BTW, Sullivan is getting there on our Middle East policy, but it took him forever and a day to reach the point he now is at. War Eagle Raimondo has taken Sullivan to task, time and time again, over the years.

Patrick Lang

Adam

You don't think it is possible to work with village based populations to create self-defense forces?

What the ethnic unit is CALLED is irrelevant.

I don't care if the "national" government is weak as a result of creating these forces. pl

JohnH

According to the Independent, "Sacked US General Stanley McChrystal issued a devastatingly critical assessment of the war against a "resilient and growing insurgency" just days before being forced out...It was this briefing, according to informed sources, as much as the Rolling Stone article, which convinced Mr Obama to move against the former head of US Special Forces..."
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/the-last-post-mcchrystals-bleak-outlook-2011730.html

It would appear that speaking truth to power is as dangerous as making fun of it. (But we already knew that.)

Pangloss

In reply to Leanderthal:

You import about 10% of you crude from Saudi Arabia but about 48% from your neighbours here in North, Central & South America, the Bahamas and the Caribbean. But we thank you for borrowing from China converting the Yuan and giving us your dollars. Keep up the good work.

jonst

J,

I think less, much less, it of a case of "brains or beauty" to get on the judiciary. Any level. Rather, the key to the SC or any other court is understanding how to insure that one never goes beyond L-P on the legal continuum. Venture beyond that (especially to the 'left')...and if you are not above age 80, and therefore dismissed (albeit feared)like a grandfather who can't program the latest gadget; you will find yourself out of bounds. Go beyond that norm in the legal community and you mind as well announce you are a cannibal.

Col,

If O does not stick with his July 11th pledge (and I think he will not)I strongly believe he will be challenged in the primaries by a run from what the MSM will deem the "left". And the Dems, short of Palin being nominated, will do down to defeat. And the GOP will stop the war. Ala Nixon going to China.

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