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10 January 2013


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A two-thousand pound education, dropped by a 200 rupee jezail…


William R. Cumming

IMO accurate assessment! What is understated is that there are few capable of negotiating a SOFA in the US military or foreign policy establishment! Why? Almost total lack of understanding of religion and cultures and politics of Iraq and Afghanistan. Probably one reason that US last impact on these two "nation-states" will be so limited in the sands of time.

By the way US colleges and universities requiring languages in all undergrad curricula now below 20% with NO profit making colleges and universities now with language requirements. Profit making to nonprofit colleges and universities now also 60-40 split.

Am I correct PL that Brennan speaks French and Arabic?



"Am I correct PL that Brennan speaks French and Arabic?" No idea. pl


If there is no SOFA in Afghanistan, the troops will be inserted elsewhere overseas. Mali is looking interesting, Somalia is always in need of remediation, Venezuela after Chavez expires will need American Military Might. There is always somewhere for meddlesome interference. There are always new boogie men lurking in the benighted souls of foreigners.


Episode 1: the phantom menace.

Charles I

I was just wondering a little more sanguinely where the CT forces deemed necessary to apply to this theatre would be stationed.


Where's a Grenada crisis when you need to kick someone around? Perhaps its Cuba Libre! But they would probably still shoot back. Can't say I'd blame them.

The beaver

Last night whilst watching the evening news ( don't know which network since I flipped through different ones) that he is proficient in Arabic.



And I heard he speaks Klingon. Having been a professor of Arabic I know how difficult it is and I would want to listen to him before I made a judgment. pl


This evening's story.

"But given the grim picture presented in the Pentagon's latest assessment of the war, released last month, The Huffington Post asked Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Thursday how the administration could justify continued U.S. involvement in the war.

"We have poured a lot of blood and treasure into this war," Panetta responded at a Pentagon press conference Thursday. "We have made a lot of progress as a result of sacrifice by our people, and we're not gonna walk backward."

Asked whether he saw any prospects for a negotiated settlement, Panetta indicated that further training of Afghan troops and more fighting would have to come first. "The stronger position we are in, the better the chances over time of political reconciliation," he said.

This mode of "thinking" is what someone called stale and smug. Admittedly,to walk backward while in Santa Clara can lead to your being up to your neck in the Pacific Ocean.
Why not turn around? Panetta apparently has not as yet discovered that imaginative alternative.


Assuming SOFA is not approved. The US still needs an airbase of some sort for CT purposes in that region. Does Afghanistan partition to resolve the problem?


Neither with any real utility



It took me a minute or two to decipher "neither with any real utility." I suspected that might be true. Somebody who really does speak Arabic is our friend Basilisk who has clearly spent a lot of time working on it. pl


Apparently Panetta has forgotten what 'sunk costs' mean to decision making. All the blood and treasure spent to date has not achieved any of the stated objectives and the reality is that continued spending of blood and treasure won't either. That's why we're leaving.

Al Arabist

Speaking of divans- and that's a stunner- cultural preferences aside, there's always a way to get to yes if a speck of interest is there. What's the modern day equivalent of capitulations, Blackwater?

"The Turkish Capitulations were grants made by successive Sultans to Christian nations, conferring rights and privileges in favour of their subjects resident or trading in the Ottoman dominions, following the policy towards European states of the Byzantine Empire." etc etc. from Wikipedia entry on Capitulations.


Al Arabist

As I recall, those humiliations encouraged the Ottomans to join the Central Powers in WW I. They also motivated the Young Turks and then Kemal Attaturk. The latter is not at all bad - but the Afghan functional equivalents will the Taliban and their associates, and Islamists among the Uzbeks and Tajiks.



Nothing that was said at the "presser" settled in any way the immunity issue. The press are too stupic to see that. pl


Either the first sentence is a lie - or the second senstence is a lie. A matter of very simple logic.

Obama said in a joint press conference with Karzai in the East Room of the White House.

"By the end of next year — 2014 — the transition will be complete," he continued. "This war will come to a responsible end.”

Obama said he'd be taking recommendations from commanders on the ground to determine how many - or if any - troops would stay in the country after 2014

Babak Makkinejad

I always wonder why so many people - espeically in the West - find Kemalist Turkey so attractive compared to Ottomans.

Kemalist Turkey declined to continue the prosecution of Turkish officials responsible for the murder and displacement of the Armenians in Eastern Turkey, expelled en-mass the ancient Pontic people from their ancestral homes on the Southern Shores of the Black Sea, indulged in a decades-long program of pogroms against Christians (e.g. in Thrace and in Istanbul) not to mention the consistent effort at suppressing Kurdish culture.

I am asking: Is it because Kemalist Turkey has been anti-Islamic? Is that the nub?

Ottoman Empire had its problems but has there emerged any where on its former territories a state that - given the passage of a century - one could say is truly outstanding shining example of the Rule of Law and Representative Democracy?

Babak Makkinejad

Yes, everything Excellent is as difficult as it is rare.

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