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08 May 2011

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Basilisk

I'm afraid few have put it more succinctly than Maj. Jim Gant, US Army, Special Forces:

"Time is on their side. In an insurgency, all the insurgents have to do is not lose."

Good to see PL get mainstream recognition, It's been long enough. Now why is he not back in the Gov?

The Twisted Genius

Yup! Deader than Kelsey's nuts. Although you couldn't tell by the spoutings of that Lisa Curtis in the CNN interview. She sounded like Tom Tuttle of Tacoma, Washington after he was brainwashed in "Volunteers."

I second Basilisk's motion to see Colonel Lang get more mainstream recognition and, more importantly, influence in the right circles. I can't think of a better spokesman for the cause.

Redhand

I'm not surprised that Paul Mulshine noticed Pat. He's one of the best and most thoughtful columnists here in NJ, and runs rings around the "Villagers" at the NYT and WaPo.

Charles

Oh c'mon. COIN includes a large amount of "killin' bad people that need it" so a successful raid no more proves one approach over another than snow in Apr disproves global warming. The question is can we kill enough to keep the barbarians from the gates, or do we prevent their production in the first place. One side says we can't kill fast enough no matter how good our intel is and how many SOF we have, the other says we don't have the resources (incl time) to drain the swamp. At least let's have an honest debate on the alternatives and not try to spin a single event into a campaign.

Charles I

Whatever to do with all the money and political energy invested in the old ways? What is the constituency that would compel/procure change?

Patrick Lang

Charles1
In '64 in the lecture hall at the Special Warfare School on Smoke Bomb Hill I watched Bernard Fall write on a blackboard that: "COIN = Counterguerrilla ops+political action+Economic development." It's the last two terms that are bleeding us to death in Afghanistan. pl

Patrick Lang

Redhand

Mulshine and I have been talking for a long time. pl

fasteddiez

Charles:

"....keep the barbarians from the gates."

Which gates would those be, Vienna's, Fort Lauderdale's, Pismo Beach's? Kabul's Gates will be breached, sooner or later. This will be done by some horde (to be named later), when the US leaves, sooner or later

Charles I

Pat, I get it, hence my ?, Who/what can drive change, last night I heard reporting on Obama's lack of fervour re American Exceptionalism, a pernicious concept w/r/t foreign policy, and apparent justification for all manner of hare-brained forays abroad.

VietnamVet


Colonel,

You are correct. Supporting COIN are the Ticket Punchers, ‘wasn't much of a war, but it was the only war we had', and Defense Contractors. Afghanistan is the perfect endless war for them. The Afghans will never give up.

The British tried to build a railroad into Afghanistan with 8 Blockhouses for protection. It never made it into Afghanistan. It is as if the USA was fighting the Apache in the Sierra Madre Mountains who for generations since Alexander the Great had being subjected to repeated invasions by the great civilizations.

One day American troops will leave Iraq and Afghanistan.

Empires expand and reach a point when they can no longer defeat the barbarians. The contraction is always difficult. If the fiscal corruption is ended and alliances formed, the barbarians can be kept from the gates of America. We still have two great Oceans on each Coast.

Highlander

At least let's have an honest debate on the alternatives and not try to spin a single event into a campaign.: Charles

Charles,

Thanks for the intelligent comment.

As for the barbarians at the gates. Well the perfumed,corpulent,silk attired, grandees of Imperial Rome probably didn't think, the far away events of Aug 9,378 AD, would have any real effect on their lives. But a few years later, the Goths were in Rome itself taking the Roman's grapes, and their women.

As a Southerner, I assure you losing your wars, can and does have lasting consequences. One should be very prudent about getting into them, but if you do. You damn well, better win them,one way or the other.

Sometimes a draw,is as good as a win. Maybe a draw is what we get out of Afgan. with.

Anna-Marina

Drone attacks, their legality and moral implications.

"Where is your democracy?” he asked me.
http://www.counterpunch.org/kelly05092011.html

Fred

"COIN = Counterguerrilla ops+political action+Economic development."

American money should first be spent on American economic development. There are plenty of poor and homeless in America. A decade of tax cuts has rasied neither government revenue nor wages. There is no pressure on WallStreet to raise wages, other than their own; Less than 24months ago the president of the Dominos pizza chain was quoted in the Ann Arbor News asking that customers give a bigger tip since their drivers were having a hard time making ends meet. Raising their wages? Ha, ha, ha. Rest assured he didn't take a pay cut, either. How do you think those drivers are doing with $4 gas?

Fred

Highlander, you said:

"Well the perfumed,corpulent,silk attired, grandees of Imperial Rome probably didn't think, the far away events of Aug 9,378 AD, would have any real effect on their lives."

Do you mean to imply by your comment that the US Army will loss half its combat strength in a rout as happened at the Battle of Adrianople? Or do you mean to imply that the rich men of America are as corrupt and self centered as those of Imperial Rome?

highlander

Fred,

Well I think one can make a case that the top 1/2% of our population, is now busily engaged in looting the system. With the help of our wonderful, Washington DC, elites. Who sell themseves to the highest bidder, for pennies on the dollar.

As for a military debacle of the porportions of Adrianople occuring, a possible scenario might be, a coordinated Chinese and Iranian ballistic missle, and super torpedo attack on 4 US carrier battle groups. If they took out 20 to 40% of America's carriers in 30 minutes, that would be an modern day Adrianople.

The Twisted Genius

Charles I,

You asked, " Who/what can drive change?" I think the ever louder call for cutting government spending will eventually force change. Many who call for greater fiscal discipline may not have this in mind, but the political action+economic development money pit just screams for attention. When push comes to shove, we'll cancel out that part of the COIN equation before we touch our Social Security or Medicare.

confusedponderer

TTG,

I think the ever louder call for cutting government spending will eventually force change.
As a bystander I watch the current Republican enthusiasm for cutting government spending with some amazement. Republicans appear persuaded that tax cuts are good for and against everything.

Have economic crisis? Reduce taxes to stimulate the economy! Have a boom? Reduce taxes to stimulate the economy even more!

For one, there is no doubt that the US as a nation spend more than they earn, and that includes in particular US military spending, the Republican holy cow.

Under Bush Republicans made a point of cutting taxes, and thereby reducing tax revenue while increasing spending, because, as the famous dictum then held it, deficits don't matter. Underlying the Republican view on spending and taxes, then as now, is still the old, discredited idea of Starve the Beast (STB).

To sum it up boldly, it is about the mistaken if fervent belief in US conservative circles that systematically cutting taxes while maintaining spending will lead to a desirable reduction in government. By that logic, perversely, increasing spending, will only accelerate the process. Win-win! Lower taxes and the increased government spending will stimulate the economy, and the benefits will trickle down, golden-shower-like to all of society while government will be, since it has to be, reduced in size, and everybody lived happily ever after. Except for that it didn't work out like that, ever.

Only with their electoral defeat Republicans became born again fiscal conservatives and deficit hawks, mandating utmost spending restraint. That is laudable only in principle, since they are also unwilling to let tax cuts expire, let alone raise new taxes, which suggests to me that they aren't serious.

As I understand it, that dogma of STB isn't dead. Democrats in power have just make it expedient to bash Obama for spending.

IMO America doesn't have a budget crisis, it has a revenue crisis. My take is that on spending, taxes and the deficit Republicans by and large engage in fraud, since it is utterly implausible to me that the US is going to get out of debt just by cutting this or that. Spending cuts (naturally only in education, medical and social fields) and inflation alone won't do. It is fraud, because they promise that it can be achieved without the painful steps of increasing taxes. I don't buy it.

fasteddiez

Herr Confused-P:

You describe the conservatives' mantra of trickle down as a "golden shower." To be sure, the word "trickle" triggers a liquid drizzle or leak picture in one's mind.

In certain circles, however, (not mine) this signifies a S&M ritual performed by an oppressor and a victim (equipped with or without the optional rubber orange balls in one's mouth).

The effect on the populace, victimized by these long discredited ruling class, voodoo policies, are more realistically aligned with my aforementioned rituals.

There is a hint of sunshine in all of this continuous cloudy doom; Tis' better to be pissed on than shit on.

omen

Reagan bled the Soviets dry in Afghanistan

yes. but it was carter who lured the soviets to enter afghanistan to begin with.

William R. Cumming

Highlander! Just one carrier lost to either another nation-state or non-state actor could be the equivalent of Adrianople. What is the best summary of that battle published? Wikiepedia?

confusedponderer

fasteddiez,
I was in a mischievous mood, and I chose the metaphor deliberately. And yes, voodoo economics has always been an apt term to describe it.

In effect, the republican economic concept for how to create tax revenue boils down to 'We'll be cheap and attract a lot of business, and the resulting boom will do the rest and sweep revenue into our coffers' (throw in a Hail Mary for good measure). It has been compellingly refuted in Ireland. Curiously, they have a debt and revenue problem in Ireland now. But they had such low taxes!

Which brings me to Texas. Texas has been held up as an example of a successful state that is doing well. I wouldn't be too sure about that: Texas: The Huge State Budget Crisis Nobody Is Talking About

But there's one state, which is fairly high up on the list of troubled states that nobody is talking about, and there's a reason for it.

The state is Texas.

This month the state's part-time legislature goes back into session, and the state is starting at potentially a $25 billion deficit on a two-year budget of around $95 billion. That's enormous. And there's not much fat to cut. The whole budget is basically education and healthcare spending. Cutting everything else wouldn't do the trick. And though raising this kind of money would be easy on an economy of $1.2 trillion, the new GOP mega-majority in Congress is firmly against raising any revenue.

So the biennial legislature, which convenes this month, faces some hard cuts. Some in the Texas GDP have advocated dropping Medicade altogether to save money.

So why haven't we heard more about Texas, one of the most important economy's in America? Well, it's because it doesn't fit the script. It's a pro-business, lean-spending, no-union state. You can't fit it into a nice storyline, so it's ignored.

But if you want to make comparisons between U.S. states and ailing European countries, think of Texas as being like America's Ireland. Ireland was once praised as a model for economic growth: conservatives loved it for its pro-business, anti-tax, low-spending strategy, and hailed it as the way forward for all of Europe. Then it blew up.

This is the sleeper state budget crisis of 2011, and it will be praised for doing great, right up until the moment before it blows up.

As I said, the root of the problem IMO is the revenue crisis, largely driven by the refusal to maintain a reasonable level of taxation. Irresponsible. Probably one can't seriously expect good governance from people who believe that the institution they run, the government, is the problem. Speak about a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Ryan

And Mulshine mentions you frequently in his writings. He is one of the few columnist worth reading today.

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