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October 19, 2004

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Strictly speaking, I wouldn't say we "outsourced" Tora Bora. It was more of a "Temp Worker" deal. Special Forces were integrated with the Afghan units and provided a means of coordination, as well as technical and air support. The Afghan participants were used for a specific expertise and knowledge of the terrain and area. Their knowledge of the area was used as a resource, and they were not given discretion as far as running the operation. They were clearly employees rather than independent contractors.

It's not like we had experts with the same knowledge but used the Afghans because they were more cost effective. Your definition of outsourcing would also mean that a general contractor "outsources" the electric and foundation work on a new house. True by the technical definition, perhaps, but you are, IMO, using "outsource" as a smear because of its negative connotations that aren't present in that primary definition you reference.

Of course, since OBLs silence since right about the time of operations in Tora Bora indicates to me that he's likely pushing up poppies, I don't see Tora Bora as a glaring failure. Certainly we got a lot of jihadis there, even if some inevitably escaped. That's my bias, yours may vary.

BTW, there seems to be a problem with TypePad

I'd take Tommy Franks a lot more seriously if he had taken postwar planning for Iraq a lot more seriously.

True by the technical definition, perhaps, but you are, IMO, using "outsource" as a smear because of its negative connotations that aren't present in that primary definition you reference.

I'm sorry, is "technically true" copyrighted by the war's apologists? My bad.

I'd take Tommy Franks a lot more seriously if he had taken postwar planning for Iraq a lot more seriously.

Amen.


OK, on re-reading that "I'm sorry, is "technically true" copyrighted by the war's apologists? My bad." I see it came out more snotty than I intended it to...blame it on the excess mucous gushing from my sinuses.

What I meant was, Franks is suggesting that Kerry distorted what happened in Tora Bora, but doesn't make a very convincing argument.

Edward, I adore you snarky. Really I do.

Nevertheless, and I say this with real feeling: Go lie down and rest! It may feel like blogging isn't really doing anything, but when you have a flu bug, what you really need is to be horizontal, warm, drinking plenty of fluids, and dozing off at frequent intervals. You can have daytime TV on the background, but nothing more intellectually engrossing. Take care of yourself. Good ones are scarce.

Sorry. Obviously the above comment should have gone on the Chicken Soup thread.

"...since OBLs silence since right about the time of operations in Tora Bora indicates to me that he's likely pushing up poppies"

People keep saying this, flying in the face of the several audio tapes he subsequently released, which the CIA authoritatively stated (for whatever that's worth) that they believe were authentically the voice of bin Laden and that they firmly believe (though not provably, apparently, at least in public) he's alive.

Now, I have no metaphysical certainty one way or the other, but I fail to understand why, other than wishful thinking, people keep insisting he's dead, in the face of authoritative statements that he isn't. Maybe he's dead, but the fact that he's not stupid enough to show up on video again doesn't seem particularly indicative.

(I noted Roger Simon yesterday declaring Kerry or someone or other to be "the last person on earth who believes bin Laden is alive" which makes me wonder how Roger can believe the Bush administration is so filled with liars and deludees, and yet be so admirable.)

I think that Zarqawi's statement hints that Bin Laden is probably still alive.

I would be surprised, though not completely shocked, to find that OBL was still alive. If he were a quantum particle, I would put his chance of being in the 'D' state at 78.36% plus or minus 1.42%.

As for Tora Bora, it provides an interesting counterpoint to Iraq. Because of the mountainous nature of Afghanistan, our generals wanted to avoid an all out invasion if we could. They thought we could. It appears they were wrong. Considering the fate of the British and Soviets, it wasn't a crazy thing to think.

Sebastian, I think the last word of yours of 11:40 was supposed to be "want" or "hope" rather than "think."

Nope, actually I would say that the considered opinion of the time was in line with that thought.

You forgot to snort at Franks' use of the phrase "respects them, their families and their sacrifices," Edward - Bush is, after all, the one who called for hazard pay and benefits to families of those serving in Iraq to be cut, as well as cutting funds for VA hospitals.

Then I have no idea what 'Considering the fate of the British and Soviets' means. What about those fates would lead a reasonable planner to think that an effective strategy did not require considerable regulars?

"effective strategy did not require considerable regulars?"

Is this a sincere question about the history of both the Russians and British forces in there?

Do you sincerely want a military strategy that justifies the way we used our forces there?

Edward, no problem on the snottiness. I'm not sure dismissing my point out of hand refutes it, but you're not on your A game right now anyway. Get rest.

Gary - Authoritative statements that he isn't dead? From who? Zwahiri? The CIA? neither of them would have a motive for disinformation, right? IRC, when the first tapes of OBL with voice over and recycled video were released, the CIA said it was bin Laden, and an independent Swiss lab said it wasn't. So there's evidence for both points of view and precious little proof. But as I said, I think it's likely that he's dead - which also means that I think it's not certain.

"Authoritative statements that he isn't dead? From who? Zwahiri? The CIA?"

The CIA, and a considerable array of other government agencies' pronouncements.

As I indicated, I don't think that's definitive. I merely give them the benefit of the doubt, given that every single solitary contrarian response I've yet seen simply consists of "I think...," and that's all.

I agree, of course, that it would be hard to prove that he's dead absent a corpus delecti, but given that the CIA keeps asserting evidence for his continued existence, I don't see much reason to give credence to an opposing view that consists simply of a wishful opinion conjured out of thin air (a less polite simile exists).

I've always been unhappy with the way the US used proxy troops in Afghanistan. Specific operational details such as Tora Bora aside, here the US had a clear causus belli (forgive my case endings), and we hedged it.

Even as a leftist, I would have been more patriotic in the face of increased sacrifice in Afghanistan. I do, of course, recognize that Afghanistan is famously unfriendly terrain. But the military part of our mission there seems to have accomplished very little: we didn't capture Bin Laden, we allowed lots of Al-Quaida types to escape, we turned a blind eye to war crimes (which poison moderate muslim support), and the best efforts of NATO have only secured Kabul!

I am glad that after so many years they have managed to hold an election, and I do hope that things are on the mend for the Afghan people, but did we really accomplish the goals we had set for ourselves?

"but given that the CIA keeps asserting evidence for his continued existence"

which we should credit based on their great track record the last few years?

Rilkefan: which we should credit based on their great track record the last few years?

Their two great failures were WMD in Iraq and 9/11. But given that it appears the intelligence showing that something like 9/11 might well happen was ignored by the administration, and that the doubtful intelligence on WMD in Iraq was "sexed up" and made to look far less doubtful that it initially appeared by the administration, I think the lesson to be taken from this is that no one should trust what the current administration says the CIA says.

But the last three words of the above paragraph are unnecessary.

JFTR, Belgravia Dispatch has a rather compelling discussion on this, which he discounts heavily by linking to a dissenting opinion that's just as compelling.

I suppose how the term outsourcing is actually used could be open for debate...

But the comforting thing is knowing that Kerry has been consistent in his criticism...

"On Jan. 20, 2002, Kerry said on CNN: "I do think some people have asked some questions about how that particular component of the mission sort of played out. But the fact is that it is a difficult place. He is elusive. I think they are doing the maximum amount right now possible to try to track him down."

Blue, it doesn't seem unreasonable to have believed in January 2002 that Bush & Co were doing "the maximum amount right now possible" to try to track down Osama bin Laden.

In October 2004, it would be plain stupid to believe that, especially after Bush outright said that Osama bin Laden just wasn't that important to him.

"Their two great failures were WMD in Iraq and 9/11."

Their three, their three great failures were WMD in Iraq, 9/11, and a fanatic devottion to the pope.

Er, that is, WMD, 9/11, and the nature of military resistance, paramilitary resistance, and the insurgency in Iraq. Important story.

"Blue, it doesn't seem unreasonable to have believed in January 2002 that Bush & Co were doing "the maximum amount right now possible" to try to track down Osama bin Laden."

Given that it wasn't until Bush chose to pull our best Arabic-speaking Special Forces out of Afghanistan to Iraq, no, it doesn't seem unreasonable at all. It's specifically the withdrawal of many of our most expert terrorist-tracking troops from Afghanistan to Iraq that is the essence of the criticism. Bush was then "not very concerned about bin Laden," in favor of Saddam Hussein.

While I'm linking, how much clearer do people want Kerry to be in "getting it" than this?

Blue:

Sorry to take so long to reply to yours of 10/19. I've been on the road.

My questions are always sincere.

I don't see how the experience of either the Brits or the Russians would lead one to think that we could effect our objectives in Afghanistan without substantial ground forces. If someone can explain this, I'd be interested to hear it.

Of course, I don't think anything about the experience of the Brits -- we're talking about before the invention of the airplane -- has much to do with anything military. Cultural maybe, but really now, I'm not sure that the British experience is any more relevant than Alexander's. Certainly one could look at the Soviet experience and think that going in with a huge force would be a mess. A great reason to want to avoid doing so. That, of course, is not the same as being a basis to conclude that we could achieve all of our objectives without it.

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