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15 December 2019


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robt willmann

I was just going to put the citation to the interview of H.R. McMaster by Hugh Hewitt in a comment to the previous main post. This should be it--


The discussion about North Korea is unsettling, and Hugh Hewitt, by the content of his questions, is encouraging war--

"Hugh Hewitt: If we were to go into a preemptive strike, General McMaster, of some sort, large, small, whatever, would we tell the Chinese before we did that in order to manage their expectations and to limit the possibility of a replay of the Korean War?

H.R. McMaster: Well, I can– I can’t really talk about any details associated with operational plans or– or strategies. But– but– it would depend on the circumstances I guess—

HH: Have you– have you sat with the president and walked through how China might or might not react to a preemptive strike and how they unpredictably entered the war in the– in the first Korean War?

HRM: Well, as– as a rule, we don’t talk about deliberations with the– with the president, but he’s been very much involved and– and has– has been– deeply briefed, you know, on– on all aspects of the– the strategy– on North Korea.

HH: How concerned should the American people be that we are actually on the brink of a war with North Korea?

HRM: Well, I think– I think it’s– it’s impossible to overstate the danger associated with this. Right, the, so I think it’s impossible to overstate the danger associated with a rogue, brutal regime, I mean, who murdered his own brother with nerve agent in a p– in– in an airport. I mean– I mean, think– think about what he’s done– in terms of his– his own brutal repression of not only members of his regime but his own family.

HH: That’s a prison camp run by the Mafia with nuclear weapons.

HRM: As one author has called it, it’s an 'impossible state.' Right?

HH: Or as the chief of staff said, 'Just because all the choices are terrible doesn’t mean we don’t
have to choose.' Will this administration choose or will it, as some people said about the last
administration, 'lead from behind,' when it comes to North Korea?"


Thanks for the videos, Colonel Lang. Those slick self-dealers you are debating in 2009 are vomit-inducing. I'll bet they all still have well-paid employment and continue to spread their crap without let or accountability.

It seems clear to me that Afghans in most of the countryside want the US army of
occupation out. Why are we trying to impose an occupation that is not working, despite billions of dollars spent and over 14 years of failed efforts?

None of the thalassocratic states tried to control the hinterlands to their foreign entrepots. They controlled what was imnportant to them - their entrepots and trade routes, keeping competitors out and leaving the locals to their own devices in the hinterlands. This was the model for the Phoenician, Greek, and Italian City States, as well as the Portuguese, Dutch, and original British imperial traders. The ROmans had a different approach of Romanization - but they didn't even try to control the Afghans nor the Scots/Picts and other incorrigible tribes.

WHy not control the foreign affairs of Afghanistan and leave the local governance to the Afghans? MAintain a single military base in a key area, work with whatever leadership the Afghans themselves select, and drop this stupid wasteful idiotic occupation?

Afghanistan has become the largest single heroin source in the world during the US occupation- after the Taliban had eliminated it entirely. What the hell are we doing? Stupid is too kind.



Thank you for the link to the NYU debate.

It seems that when it comes to our policy in Afghanistan and South Asia, ME and pretty much the rest of the world it is Groundhog Day every day.

IMO, after these decades being hegemon we should retire. Close our overseas bases, bring our troops home and mind our own business. If the Afghans, Saudis and others want to live in medieval times let them. If they insist their women should be uneducated slaves all wrapped up that is their choice. It makes no sense for us to spend trillions there that we could spend here at home, unless we intend to be a colonist with a commitment to be there for a century. If that is the policy choice, I suggest we send all the neocons and the snowflake SJWs there to remake these places into utopia.

how they unpredictably entered the war in the– in the first Korean War?
The Chinese told Washington that they'd intervene and they did. What is unpredictable about that?

My apologies for raising something not quite directly related to Afghanistan. The Senate has effectively stripped power from Trump by demonstrating they can overturn anything he attempts. This is a green light for the war party. Do you think Putin is going to blink, or do you think he will keep his finger on the button and say: "I dare you". Afghanistan could of course also become part of the bigger game of daring each other.

The Porkchop Express

"Can the US win in Afghanistan?"


Unless the definition of the word "win" is immeasurably altered.


Thank you for posting this.

It is very interesting to review this now, since I chewed dirt there & lost many comrades there. The issues that you highlighted were paramount in the minds of many of the leaders at my level during the years I served there on & off from late 2001 until 2007.

Our efforts had a very lofty morally attractive virtuous (read vague) end state; one only has to listen with closed eyes to the first response to Col Lang.

The reality on the ground was far from this lofty noble virtuous reality. There was a total lack of clarity of direction right at the very lowest levels - right down to the level where we were actually patrolling & clearing routes only in order to ensure that they were clear to ensure we could use them ... they (the routes) were so dangerous that the indigenous population were so afraid that they had long since stopped using them.

We had become the epitome of the self licking ice cream & we were hemorrhaging men to IEDs checking these routes & we were channeled into direct fire ambush points by the nature of the threat of operating what was in effect a medium density minefield sowed with IEDs.

All of our effort in Helmand - by British & then US troops was in vain Helmand is now back under Taliban control. It is interesting that Pakistan is mentioned. In RCSOUTH we had a long contiguous border with Pakistan, it was NEVER secured. We did not have the combat power to do this. As Col Lang implied, the sheer size of the country coupled with the sixe of the military force we deployed made this physically impossible.

I always laugh when I listen to the the scholars with their lofty ideas about creating Govts in our image inside places like Afghanistan, Iraq & Libya. Clearly they have never been there or if they have they walked around with their eyes closed. The ideas they speak of look great on a powerpoint slide but fail on contact with the ground reality of corruption in places like Afghanistan.

Finally the training of the Afghan Army, I also was involved in training them, as part of an OMLT in Helmand. Personally I did not find them brave, or find them willing to fight for their 'country'. My tour with an OMLT was my final operational tour of my 24 year career, the 11th tour of my career, I rank it as the most hazardous of my career, primarily due to working in close proximity to the Officers (if you can call them that) & soldiers of the Afghan Army.

I found them simply 'untrainable' as described by Lt Col Ralp Peters in the video.

Both your words & his are the most truthful & enlightening of all of the speakers.


Per Mare Per Terram



The Congress has no power to command the armed forces. They have no command authority. pl



Thanks for the link. I found the arguments by the "yes we can" people unsettling.

The fact that minor variants of the same arguments seems to be holding sway saddens me.

But, I think that the folks over at Duffelblog ( recommend the site to all the readers here) had the best analysis of the situation.


Babak Makkinejad

We already have seen this movie before, it was called Jackson-Vanik Act. It was in effect for 34 years, before its repacement, the Magnitsky Act became ready.


The population of Afghanistan is slightly less than 35,000,000. In it's ancient past it was home to Buddhists & Hindus. Perhaps it could benefit from a massive inward migration. It seems to function best as a monarchy.

Mohammad Zahir Shah, the last king does have at least 1 male living descendant
who is western educated & fairly open minded. These are just random thoughts best labeled as grasping @ straws.

Sometimes I wonder if we missed the chance to solidify it as a modern state by
arming the muj instead of teaming up with the Russians to pacify/neutralize the jihadis back in the 70's.

Fellow Traveler

The Dark Lord emotes:

The outside world’s war with Isis can serve as an illustration. Most non-Isis powers—including Shia Iran and the leading Sunni states—agree on the need to destroy it. But which entity is supposed to inherit its territory? A coalition of Sunnis? Or a sphere of influence dominated by Iran? The answer is elusive because Russia and the Nato countries support opposing factions. If the Isis territory is occupied by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards or Shia forces trained and directed by it, the result could be a territorial belt reaching from Tehran to Beirut, which could mark the emergence of an Iranian radical empire.


Not the Caliphate he was hoping for? I would have made the span to Tijuana for the affect, but what is he, 99 or 100? I'm waiting for his didactic footnotes on Strauss' footnotes on the Apology.

Ishmael Zechariah

Listening to this debate from ~8 years ago, I am reminded of a quote attributed to William Lamb, 2nd Viscount Melbourne (1779-1846): " What all the wise men promised has not happened, and what all the damned fools said would happen has come to pass.".

Ishmael Zechariah (Dissident, Deplorable and happy to be counted among the damned fools.)


As long as the US is in Afghanistan, it is reliant on Pakistan. So, you have the ludicrous situation where the US government is paying Pakistan to kill American soldiers.

I don't see how this serves anyone's interests. Even the most neocon Project for a New American Century type agenda isn't advanced by this.

The sensible option would be to patch things up with Russia and provide enough aid via Central Asia to the erstwhile Northern Alliance to stop Kabul falling. That would also allow the US to threaten Pakistan with economic sanctions.


"Hugh Hewitt, by the content of his questions, is encouraging war"

And doing so with dishonest terminology, as well as content. Note the repeated and profoundly dishonest use of "preemptive" to describe a US attack on Korea which would (arguably) be preventive, not preemptive. This is typical of how elites abuse terminology to shape discussions of foreign policy.

English Outsider

Could such a debate take place today? I don't mean the subject matter - that is fully as relevant now as then - but the way in which it was conducted.

No doubt I missed the undercurrents but it seemed to be civil and the participants seemed to be listening to each other. It seemed a world away from the debates of the present day. Same difference between old debates and today's debates in this country.

Was this a one-off, or have we really gone downhill so much over the last few years when it comes to the level and style of debate?


Trump can give in on sanctions and still have his way on geopolitics regarding Russia.


No, it is not winnable.

First, because Pakistan is a sanctuary. Anytime the enemy gets defeated they can retreat into Pakistan and resupply, reconstitute, and reorganize. They can then come back at a time and place of their choice and do it again, and again, and again.......[remember Viet Nam?]

Second, thanks to the State Department/CIA we lack a host nation partner capable of generating and sustaining a capable military force. The underlying reasons for this are too numerous to list. After billions of dollars, and after virtually unlimited arms and supplies, and after a decade of advising/training the Afghans fighting for the government are worthless and will not and can not stand up to armed peasants.

Third, the money, supplies, and ideology behind the insurgency (Saudi) is still there, although recently reduced due to the lower price of oil. As long as Saudi Arabia keeps promoting wahhabism some level of insurgency will exist.

None of these problems are "military". The US Army has had military success. All the problems above are political and were caused by State Department and CIA incompetence.

Just an opinion.


Babak Makkinejad

Trump's public musings and hints about abrogating JCPOA as well as the prior history of the demise of the Agreed Frameworks make both bilateral as well as multilateral negogiations with North Korea impossible. They will remain a nuclear armed state and a threat to US.

Babak Makkinejad


Babak Makkinejad

But US Congress can declare war. Can US President decline to fight it?

Babak Makkinejad

Afghanistan was unified, like UK, in the person of her Monarch. That perhaps could have worked on 2002 when Zahir Shah was alive and there were still many people who remembered his reign fondly. Furthermore, Iran and Russia were, for a number of overlapping reasons, willing to cooperate with US. None of that obtains any longer; US has burnt her bridges with Iran and with Russia.

Babak Makkinejad

Corruption is not the obstacle; tribes are - neither in the Land of Lamentation nor in Libya there exist a nation. And no one can build it now that the Monarchy is gone.

FB Ali

I find most of the comments on this topic to be strange.

There was some sense and logic behind the original (2001) US invasion of Afghanistan.

There is absolutely none in the US's continued presence there.

All the arguments for how to make it work now are ridiculous. The most that the US can do is prop up (for a while) a friendly President in Kabul (while the rest of the country is overrun by the Taliban).

Ultimately, there will be nothing left for the US but the rooftop of the US embassy!



The substance of the debate aside, it was interesting to see you argue your case without deploying much of your biting wit. You sounded mellow, almost disinterested in discussing the obvious (The earth is not flat) with folks you didn't think were up to the snuff.

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