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25 January 2014


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"How Do You Ask a Man to Be the Last Man to Die in [Afghanistan]?"

"In our opinion and from our experience, there is nothing in [Afghanistan] which could happen that realistically threatens the United States of America. And to attempt to justify the loss of one American life in [Afghanistan] by linking such loss to the preservation of freedom, which those misfits supposedly abuse, is to us the height of criminal hypocrisy, and it is that kind of hypocrisy which we feel has torn this country apart." --John Kerry before he became a politician.



And yet
we so want to keep the Keystone in the anti-Iranian arch in place. Maybe our great good allies and BFF the Sauds could contribute enough bakshish to the proper Karzais to make it happen.



The Saudis would not lift a finger to help us in this. We have reached the end of the era in which the delusion that SA is an ally of the US had any force. pl


Cutting development aid seems either to be punishment for the Afghans not keeping US forces unconditionally. That, or it's to punish Obama. I would think that development aid that night help build some residual good will for the US, might be some of the better money spent. Most of it is probably already going directly into the wrong pockets.

Don Bacon

The BSA even it were signed would be a piece of paper signed by an outgoing Afghan president and the US president who has shown no hesitancy in conducting secret operations. It wouldn't be a treaty between two countries, especially on the US side where it would count. The US Senate, its advice and consent constitutionally required for treaties, has been excluded in all the US agreements with Iraq and Afghanistan.

So the BSA kerfuffle is a lot about nothing, in practical terms. Its denial would in fact be a favor to US troops, whose continued ineffective dispersed presence in relatively small numbers in this volatile land-locked country could be a disaster of great magnitude.

It's time for Iran and Russia to increase influence there as they have done recently in the ME, with Pakistan as a main player. In Afghanistan the constitution requires a new president to take office in only four months, May 23 2014. (It may not happen this soon, though.)


We are starting to look foolish. We are not wanted, Karzai has all but told us to get out. Why exactly are we staying?
Col Lang is right "time to go."

Charles I

Perhaps it will be spent in Africa.

http://zeenews.india.com/news/world/us-soldiers-sent-to-south-sudan_898106.html; and then

"Obama warns of further military action, if needed, in South Sudan" in


Here's an article in spiegel about the lack of a deal and German Afghan withdrawal issues, noting French work in Africa and the likelihood of more to come with expectation of German participation in the DOL.


Peace dividend anybody?

Charles I

omg the plot thickens. Who's paying for these ads, Karzai wants to know.



There are plenty of places in the US more deserving of assistance than any part of Afghanistan.



These sure are interesting times. The USA can’t afford Afghanistan any more.

Will the Grand Bargain with Iran be reached? When will the last American troops leave FOB Kuwait?

The Friends of Israel will make the U.S. withdrawal from the Middle East the ultimate stab in the back; the Final Crusade. Military contractors will grab for any free dollar. However, the financial elite must see that their House of Cards is collapsing with current plunge in the stock market over fears about emerging markets. They need every penny for themselves and are calling in their chips with the Obama Administration.

Also, something happened to force a 180 degree policy change in the last six months. Perhaps, it was the confrontation with Russia over the Syria bombing campaign which pointed out the futility of the Forever War.


I could call that good news.

Don Bacon

There are currently about 40,000 US military personnel stationed in the Gulf area, with about 15,000 of them in Kuwait. Plus the Fifth Fleet carrier group. And more are coming, there is more USNavy building going on in tiny Bahrain.

So much for the US shift to Asia-Pacific and a withdrawal from the ME.


How well did it work out, the last time we withdrew from Afghanistan, without any assistance or guidance for our allies? That sure was a genius move. Very cost effective, too.

The issue isn't whether there are things that deserve funding in the US. Of course there are many. I will join you in trying to solve problems in the US with additional, well targeted spending.

The US foreign aid budget is in single digits relative to either the domestic budget or military spending. Remember that most foreign aid is restricted to purchases of US supplies and equipment, so it winds up getting spent domestically.

If the US wants the Afghan government we spent so much effort creating to last, for the Taliban to not entirely dominate the country, and for Afghanistan to not become a haven once again for for al Qaeda, then we have to be willing to do some things which cost money. Development, health and social aid funding is one way to do that, at a cost far less than that of military support or intervention. Can the US afford to disengage entirely from Afghanistan?



"Can the US afford to disengage entirely from Afghanistan?" I have no objection to the US participating in some sot of international consortium on developmental aid for Afghanistan. This has been tried many times and has always failed because the Afghans are the problem, but I have no objection. There was a possibility of a continuing long term presence for training and CT before the fatal decision to grow the US presence into a country building military presence called "COIN." that decision resulted in fsilure. The opportunity is long gone. pl


Don Bacon

The numbers you cite are declining steadily and will decline further. As for the presence of the "Fifth Fleet," headquarters are merely planning and command and control entities. No combatant forces are permanently attached to them. The navy has only so many ships. they are moved around from command to command as necessary. pl

William R. Cumming

And Quatar?



Qatar? If you mean the CENTCOM forward CP and air base, there will always be some US presence in the region. pl

FB Ali

For an interesting analysis of the US 12-year effort, both warlike and aid-giving, in Afghanistan the following article is worth a read (one doesn't easily find such a perspective in US media):


Don Bacon

Including Qatar with 10,000 military personnel at Al Udeid Air Base.

It is host to a forward headquarters of United States Central Command, headquarters of United States Air Forces Central, No. 83 Expeditionary Air Group RAF, and the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing of the USAF.

--379th Expeditionary Maintenance Group (3 sgdns)
--379th Expeditionary Medical Group (2 sgdns)
--379th Expeditionary Mission Support Group (6 sgdns)
--379th Expeditionary Operations Group (9 sgdns)
--64th Air Expeditionary Group (2 sgdns)


Don Bacon

So what? What do you expect, a decline to zero? pl

Don Bacon

SecDef Hagel, Dec 7, 2013
As we have withdrawn U.S. forces from Iraq, are drawing down our forces in Afghanistan, and rebalancing toward the Asia Pacific, we have honored our commitment to Gulf security by enhancing our military capabilities in the region.

We have a ground, air and naval presence of more than 35,000 military personnel in and immediately around the Gulf.
Two years after our drawdown from Iraq, the U.S. Army continues to maintain more than 10,000 forward-deployed soldiers in the region, along with heavy armor, artillery, and attack helicopters to serve as a theater reserve and a bulwark against aggression.
We've deployed our most advanced fighter aircraft throughout the region, including F-22s, to ensure that we can quickly respond to contingencies. Coupled with our unique munitions, no target is beyond our reach.
We've deployed our most advanced intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets to provide a continuous picture of activities in and around the Gulf.
And we have fielded an array of missile defense capabilities, including ballistic missile defense ships, Patriot batteries, and sophisticated radar.

As part of our efforts to ensure freedom of navigation throughout the Gulf, we routinely maintain a naval presence of over 40 ships in the broader region, including a carrier strike group, and conduct a range of freedom of navigation operations. These operations include approximately 50 transits of the Strait of Hormuz over the past six months.


Don Bacon

We have a ground, air and naval presence of more than 35,000 military personnel in and immediately around the Gulf.
"Two years after our drawdown from Iraq, the U.S. Army continues to maintain more than 10,000 forward-deployed soldiers in the region, along with heavy armor, artillery, and attack helicopters to serve as a theater reserve and a bulwark against aggression.
We've deployed our most advanced fighter aircraft throughout the region, including F-22s, to ensure that we can quickly respond to contingencies. Coupled with our unique munitions, no target is beyond our reach." Bacon, what is it you that you want, unilateral disarmament and abolition of the US armed forces? pl


FB Ali

Saunders appears to share my opinion. Am working on the book. pl

Don Bacon

I expect that the US will retain troops wherever it has them until either (1) It becomes painfully obvious to the most dense that the exercise is fruitless or (2) When it is forced to remove troops. In both cases the US would seek to retain some presence, however fruitless.

In the Gulf, reading Hagel, the US is keeping a large "robust" contingent basically for political purposes, to stay on the good side of the repressive Gulf regimes who share the US dislike for Iran. I believe this is being done while over-riding the military, because the military must know that these forces are untenable in any dust-up with Iran wit its large arsenal of mobile missiles.

Or perhaps the military believes that keeping the military in such an exposed position is a desirable impediment to an unwanted war with Iran. Recall Admiral "Fox" Fallon, canned by Bush for pushing for accommodation with Iran.

It isn't quite what we were told.
*Obama: "After a decade in which we fought two wars that cost us dearly, in blood and treasure, the United States is turning our attention to the vast potential of the Asia Pacific region."
*Clinton: "The future of politics will be decided in Asia, not Afghanistan or Iraq, and the United States will be right at the center of the action."

Don Bacon

I merely want to point out that there is no U.S. withdrawal from the Middle East, especially in the Gulf, and along with that the vaunted "pivot" to Asia-Pacific hasn't amounted to much.

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