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December 02, 2009

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I support the strategy because the alternatives are much, much worse.

Yeah, my god: the US might have to declare yet another lost war and withdraw, admitting that all the US soldiers and all the money that the US sunk into killing Afghans for the sake of "national security" was a complete waste of US dollars and US lives. How embarrassing that would be for the Bush administration! If anything could embarrass them, that is.

The thousands of uncounted Afghans who died as a result of this strategy, and the thousands more who will be killed as a result of continuing this strategy plainly just don't register on your radar, Von: why would they? What do their lives matter, besides the importance of US domestic politics?

The danger of another attack is too great

Right. But as long as we ensure that al-Qaeda will only have safe havens in Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen, the danger is greatly diminished. Not to mention, Europe.

The danger of another attack is too great; the signal sent is all wrong; the price for 9/11 should be greater.

Well, we can always withdraw and nuke the site from orbit. It's the only way to be sure.

Seriously von, "the price for 9/11 should be greater"? The invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, plus the bombing campaign in Pakistan, kidnapping muslim's off the streets of our allies, torture, Gitmo, secret prisons in Europe, etc. etc. etc., but "the price for 9/11 should be greater"?!!? We've had mass collective punishment already, what more do you want?

Not to mention, Europe.

Absolutely, because the US killing Afghans in Afghanistan ensured no al-Qaeda terrorist attacks in, I don't know, Spain, or the UK, any time in the last eight years.

None at all. I feel so comforted knowing that.

Now, over here, in the reality-based universe...

The speech had some real strong spots, at least IMHO.

The part that particularly comes to mind is how well the President connected the value of a deadline to any hope to success of the mission may have.

ISTM that, with the debate splitting between those who don't think escalation (or the war) worth it, and those who think that even an indefinite stay is worth the cost, the strategic value of timetables was eerily forgotten.

(tbc)

And this:

we lost, then. Completely. Like the Russians before us.

We "lost" in Afghanistan when bin Laden got away at Tora Bora. We "lost" in Iraq the day we invaded. But we didn't really "lose." We won't all be speaking Pashtun, or Arabic, anytime soon, just like we haven't been speaking Vietnamese since the early 1970s. All that will have happened is that the United States would have withdrawn its forces from a mostly foolish (Afghanistan) or completely foolish (Iraq) invasion and occupation of a country it doesn't understand, doesn't speak the language, doesn't share the religion or culture, and doesn't even share the same freaking alphabet. And, in the meantime, vastly increased hatred for the U.S. among the muslim populations of the world.

And you want us to not only continue to shoot ourselves in the foot, but increase the rate of fire.

True, Al Qaeda and the Taliban are unlikely to topple the Afghan government at the moment. But the government is weak.

...and illegitimate, and profoundly corrupt, and utterly unpossessed of any reason to even consider serious reforms as long as we view supporting them as a necessity, even if only of the "necessary evil" sort.

If the leaving Afghanistan now "would leave allies high and dry, prompt domestic cries of surrender, demoralize the military, break a clear campaign pledge, and signal to Pakistan that the Taliban is their problem now," that is not the "sanest option."

Let's take this from the top.

  1. leave allies high and dry: By this, do you mean the other Occidental forces who would like as not follow our example, or the aforementioned corrupt warlords we're propping up and calling the "legitimate" government of Afghanistan?
  2. prompt domestic cries of surrender: Right. Because policy should always be driven by whether or not it'll make you look tough. Viewing this "reasoning" as worth of consideration effectively removes a good deal of options from the table a priori, because such domestic outcries are not strictly raised for reasons a sane person would call, well, sane.
  3. demoralize the military: Because effectively open-ended, ill-defined, and apparently hopeless military commitments that consistently generate relatively high levels of casualties aren't demoralizing in the least.
  4. break a clear campaign pledge: ...since Obama has NEVER done anything like that already, we can easily conclude that his word on the campaign trail is perfectly sacred, and the world must burn before he goes against a single syllable. Indeed, it wouldn't matter if the continental US was facing territorial invasion; if Obama promised not to withdraw from Afghanistan, he doesn't get to withdraw from Afghanistan. Period, full stop. Right?
  5. signal to Pakistan that the Taliban is their problem now: I'll simply concur with Sullivan in suggesting that it's not clear why this should be viewed as a negative.

Also, emphatically, what Jes said.

It seems only permanant war till the end of time or the conversion of all islamists into methodists will be a satisfactory theme in this neo conservative fairiest of tales.

I agree that our government is too weak to pull out, and that playing for time with a surge is the only possible path forward.

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Stephen Walt, via LGM:

Americans have come to believe that spending government revenues on U.S. citizens here at home is usually a bad thing and should be viewed wth suspicion, but spending billions on vast social engineering projects overseas is the hallmark of patriotism and should never be questioned. This position makes no sense, but it is hard to think of a prominent U.S. leader who is making an explicit case for doing somewhat less abroad so that we can afford to build a better future here at home. Debates about foreign policy, grand strategy, and military engagement — including the current debate over Obama’s decision to add another 30,000-plus troops in Afghanistan — tend to occur in isolation from a discussion of other priorities, as if there were no tradeoffs between what we do for others and what we are able to do for Americans here at home.

In this case, we're seeking to recoup the sunk cost of Afghanistan in order to get healthcare reform.

(con)

This was the section:

"Finally, there are those who oppose identifying a time frame for our transition to Afghan responsibility. Indeed, some call for a more dramatic and open-ended escalation of our war effort -- one that would commit us to a nation-building project of up to a decade. I reject this course because it sets goals that are beyond what can be achieved at a reasonable cost, and what we need to achieve to secure our interests. Furthermore, the absence of a time frame for transition would deny us any sense of urgency in working with the Afghan government. It must be clear that Afghans will have to take responsibility for their security, and that America has no interest in fighting an endless war in Afghanistan."

(tbc)

The next morning, I found across the web (e.g.) an interesting take on this promise -- interesting, that is, in the unstated implications.

What it seems to come to is a paradox: say we're fighting in a war, where a certain outcome is vital to our national security*, and that this outcome can only come about through the help and good (or at least, decent) behavior of local powers.

Because they are needed for this success, and because we see such success as necessary, we have little leverage in getting them to do what is necessary for said success. Rather, they can leverage our need of them, to the point of doing things that defy the point of asking for their help in the first place.

But that would indicate that we can't achieve anything necessary to our national security where it depends on cooperation of others. And that doesn't seem to be the case, historically or otherwise.

Which is to say, I think concerns that our national security concerns do not actually weaken our position, certainly not to the point that it would make Obama's strategy (at least regarding strategic use of a withdrawal timeline) any less effective.

*as, for example, I do

What constitutes success for continued US involvement in Afghanistan?

What has to change to make that success occur?

How does an increase in US troop levels bring about or support that change?

If there are reasonable answers to these, then perhaps it's worth moving on to:

"Can we afford it?"

and

"How long will it take, and can we sustain the effort that long?"

Questions nobody seems interested in asking are things like:

"What if we took all that freaking money and gave it to indigenous Afghan NGOs?"

I bet we could find some that we could work with, and that would do something constructive with the money.

[MargeSimpson] von turned into Charles Bird so gradually, hardly anybody noticed! [/MargeSimpson]

Lets all remember the real victim in this: the U.S. Military and U.S. sense of pride.

I noticed a touch of this in von's post the other day when he noted that certain Afghan and Pakistani people -- who would prefer to have the military stop killing them -- "don't necessarily have our best interests at heart". Shame on them for ignoring our interests.

Load up the wedding-bombs & remote-control murderbots, the U.S. of A. is going to give it one more shot.

On the upside, there's no real danger of anyone learning any lessons from this. The notion that a good old invasion improves the lives of the natives is just too appealing to give up.

Anyway, I've got the perfect solution: We'll attack Iran (but not the Iranian people). That'll really cheer up the military and let us use those bombs and soldiers in a shiny new war.

@Jesurgiac 3:10: von does too mention the Afghan people. They get 6 words prominently placed in the middle of the 7th paragraph. Right after concerns about the Afghan and Pakistani governments, "key energy pipelines", and "other vital interests". Also immediately before bemoaning the difficulty of killing the locals after "leaving".

I think that Obama made the responsible choice: he's giving it one last shot with a different approach, one that probably won't work but, has more possiblity of working than the previous policy. It was a brave choice since he probably reaslizes that no one will support him, not the Republican who are knee jerk fault finders, nort the Democrats who want out right now and see that as the only morally defensible choice.

He's President, iot's his war. he and his staff spent the last couple of months thinking deeply about it (hey, they read books! Did Bush ever do that?) and they are trying to face a bad situation responsibly.

That said, I don't expect it to work and I do think we will have to declare defeat and left in eighteen months.

Sullivan is simply a knave. Now, he rails against "Neo-Imperialism." What was he saying again in 2002 about the proposal for our truly imperialist adventure? He ought to remind his readers of the position every single time he purports to reject Obama's Neo-Imperialism in Afghanistan that he now claims to hate. He is ridiculous on this and worthy only of ridicule.

we lost, then. Completely. Like the Russians before us.

You know, until recently I would have said we will survive losing a lot better than the Russians did. But today when I consider how the Republicans are apt to behave if they can pin losing a war on Obama (and hey, they've blamed him for everything from the bank bailouts to death panels) I really shudder to imagine what will happen.

Sullivan is simply a knave.

No, Sullivan is simply a bit of fluff, at the mercy of whatever wind current happens be carrying it at the moment.

How else do you explain his recent obsession with Sara Palin's uterus?

Sarah's too.

"What if we took all that freaking money and gave it to indigenous Afghan NGOs?"

I bet we could find some that we could work with, and that would do something constructive with the money.

That is the type of question that occassionally, in brief moments of clarity, goes through my mind. The staggering expenditure of resources that we make in our military efforts could just as easily have been made in some other kind of effort to help the people we're supposed to be helping. I don't know enough to come up with concrete proposals, but I can't help but think that there must be myriad other ways to do better. Opportunity cost, indeed.

""What if we took all that freaking money and gave it to indigenous Afghan NGOs?"

What are you, some type of dirty hippy? Foreign Aid? Don't you know if we cut foreign aid that those goddamned liberals give out we could balance the budget!?!?!

;)

We "lost" in Afghanistan when bin Laden got away at Tora Bora.

Yep. The appropriate response to 9/11 was (failing to get Bin Laden through diplomatic means) a military strike aimed at getting him and punishing the government which had harboured him. Primary objective: fail. Secondary objected: success, if we had left shortly thereafter. Now it doesn't look so successful, because at some point we apparently decided that we were not satisfied with simply chastising the Taliban. Not, they must be "defeated." Nevermind that they are the locals. They, or something very much like them, will be there long after we're gone, whether we leave in 2011 or 2021 (perish the thought).

You know what I think about in MY moments of clarity?

I think that we've done EXACTLY what Bin Laden and his crew wanted us to do. I think we've been played. They figured we'd lose our minds and do stupid, bloody, expensive and things that would make excellent propoganda fodder.

Of course, I've thought that since 2002, during the run-up to Iraq. I just lose sight of it occasionally.

I think that we've done EXACTLY what Bin Laden and his crew wanted us to do. I think we've been played. They figured we'd lose our minds and do stupid, bloody, expensive and things that would make excellent propoganda fodder.

I agree 100%.

"What if we took all that freaking money and gave it to indigenous Afghan NGOs?"

I bet we could find some that we could work with, and that would do something constructive with the money.

If we did these things, the money would go to Afghans, not to our military-industrial complex. That would not be helpful in advancing the actual goal of the war. Try to stick with a reality-based view of the situation next time.

How else do you explain his recent obsession with Sara Palin's uterus?

Actually I'd say that Sullivan's hard, hard blowing on the story is itself a nontrivial part of the explanation for the wind current that carries obsession with Sarah Palin's uterus into the political atmosphere.

Questions nobody seems interested in asking are things like:

"What if we took all that freaking money and gave it to indigenous Afghan NGOs?"

"The International Conference on Reconstruction Assistance to Afghanistan was held, at a ministerial level, on January 21-22 [2002] in Tokyo with the participation of the Chairman of the Afghan Interim Administration, H.E. Mr. Hamid Karzai and other representatives of the Administration. Japan, the US, the EU and Saudi Arabia were the co-chairs of the Conference." - Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Japan

From the summary report:

The AIA identified the following several key priority areas for the reconstruction of their country:

(1) Enhancement of administrative capacity, with emphasis on the payment of salaries and the establishment of the government administration;
(2) Education, especially for girls;
(3) Health and sanitation;
(4) Infrastructure, in particular, roads, electricity and telecommunications;
(5) Reconstruction of the economic system, in particular, the currency system;
(6) Agriculture and rural development, including food security, water management and revitalising the irrigation system.

Along with these priority areas, the AIA stressed its commitment to transparency, efficiency and accountability. It strongly underscored the importance of reviving its tradition of private entrepreneurship as an engine of growth. The AIA also emphasised the importance of community building, which underlies all sectors in Afghanistan. The importance of de-mining and assistance to war victims and the disabled was also stressed. Without secure and active communities where refugees and IDPs wish to return, any reconstruction effort will not reach its goal.

Many countries pledged hundreds of millions of dollars to reconstruction, including the US, but (from Project Censored:
A report issued in June 2005 by the non-profit organization Action Aid reveals that much of the US tax money earmarked to rebuild Afghanistan actually ends up going no further than the pockets of wealthy US corporations. “Phantom aid” that never shows up in the recipient country is a scam in which paychecks for overpriced, and often incompetent, American “experts” under contract to USAID go directly from the Agency to American bank accounts. Additionally, 70 percent of the aid that does make it to a recipient country is carefully “tied” to the donor nation, requiring that the recipient use the donated money to buy products and services from the donor country, often at drastically inflated prices. The US far outstrips other nations in these schemes, as Action Aid calculates that 86 cents of every dollar of American aid is phantom.
For example:
USAID’s website, for example, boasts of its only infrastructure accomplishment in Afghanistan—the Kabul-Kandahar Highway—a narrow and already crumbling highway costing Afghanis $1 million a mile. The highway was featured in the Kabul Weekly newspaper in March 2005 under the headline, “Millions Wasted on Second-Rate Roads.” The article notes that while other bids from more competent construction firms came in at one-third the cost, the contract went to the Louis Berger Group, a firm with tight connections to the Bush administration—as well as a notorious track record of other failed and abandoned construction projects in Afghanistan.

Afghan NGOs can't have control over how aid money is spent, because Afghans are too corrupt and too inefficient to spend the money wisely. Your tax dollars are better spent on paying US corporations to do the work, as outlined in Afghanistan, Inc.

There's another site: Integrity Watch Afghanistan.

No one in power is interested in asking where the aid money went, because the odds are, it mostly went to a corporation which has strong feelings about politicians not asking inconvenient questions like that, and about news media not reporting that these questions exist.

My suggestion:

Take a billion dollars.

Distribute it to Afghans as microloans, with individual payments not to exceed, say, $5K.

Do that for 10 years.

I'm sure about half of that would end up getting pissed away via some form of corruption or inefficiency. So what? Half wouldn't.

If Sarah Death Palin's uterus could talk, Sean Hannity and the rest of the bloviating zombies would interview it.

Twenty-eight percent of the electorate would consider it fit to be President, based on its statements regarding the freaky-type-thingy Constitution.

Michelle Bachmann's uterus would be nominated and confirmed as Supreme Court Justice.

An assortment of smallish penises in the right-wing media would stand up and endorse both, maybe even Sullivan's, if Palin and Bachmann's uteruses cut the effing budget enough, but then over time, Sullivan's thingy can't seem to make up its mind.

Nombrilisme Vide, those are Sullivan's concerns. I think you dismiss them too easily, but what of my concerns.

To others:

Do you recognize my concerns regarding regional instability and the return of al Qaeda? Do you really think that a power vacuum in Afghanistan will remain unfilled? Or that Pakistan will be able to manage the situation? They're having trouble keeping their own country in one piece.

I appreciate the comments and criticisms, but I don't see any appreciation of the kinds of choices that face us.

For example, Russell's suggestion:

Take a billion dollars.

Distribute it to Afghans as microloans, with individual payments not to exceed, say, $5K.

Do that for 10 years.

I'm sure about half of that would end up getting pissed away via some form of corruption or inefficiency. So what? Half wouldn't.

That may be a great idea, but none of your money will do any good without some infrastructure and security. Both of which are dependent on our troops remaining. Otherwise, your 1 billion a year will exclusively fund a few warlords, some of whom are likely to use it to buy off (or, possibly, support) Taliban and al Qaeda. Absent our troops, your plan will end up funding instability -- and probably another civil war -- and our enemies.

von: That may be a great idea, but none of your money will do any good without some infrastructure and security. Both of which are dependent on our troops remaining.

Von, US troops have been in Afghanistan now for eight years, providing neither infrastructure nor security. What magical change are you thinking is going to happen sometime real soon now so that for some reason Afghanistan infrastructure and Afghan security will become dependent on US troops remaining?

And how do you justify demanding Afghans endure a foreign military occupation for the sake of this magical change you envision is going to happen that will make Afghans dependent on a foreign military occupation remaining?

none of your money will do any good without some infrastructure and security.

Agreed about the security. I'm less clear about the need for substantial modern infrastructure to be in place for the kind of small-bore credit I'm talking about to be useful.

You don't need a superhighway to make good use of five goats. Or a pedal powered sewing machine. Or a year's worth of seed stock.

And if you get your five goats, and you need water for them, you and your buddies will dig a well. Maybe you'll apply for a $2K loan to fund it.

Stuff like that goes a long way. IMVHO.

If they get into things that require more sophisticated administrative or technical skills, then they'll have to start investing in education and training. Maybe we can help them with that, too, although it would probably be better if they drove the bus to the greatest degree possible.

I don't think the warlords will get that much out of it, because we'd be distributing funds in pretty tiny amounts. Maybe they'd find a way to turn goats and sewing machines into AK47's, but it will be a hell of a lot harder than turning military aid into AK47's.

Security wise, sooner or later the Afghans will have to create a secure environment for themselves. Period. They'll look to their government, whatever form that might take, for that. If it doesn't provide it, they'll kick their government out and develop one that does a better job.

If the net result of that is that the Taliban run the country, then that's what will happen. If the Afghans don't like it, they'll have to change it. If that means some kind of division on Pashtun / non-Pashtun lines, or a civil war, that's their hash to settle. Not ours.

We tried putting our guy in. Nobody likes him, or trusts him. He has no credibility.

We tried running a western style election. It was total crap.

We've had a significant military presence there for over eight years. The place is a shambles, security-wise and any other way you want to mention.

First, do no harm, right? Give them their freaking country back.

Will it all turn out exactly as we'd like it to? Probably not.

Are there risks involved? Yes, there are.

But we have no freaking idea what we're doing there. The Afghan people know what they want. We do not.

I absolutely recognize the issues you're raising here. What I'm suggesting is that my approach is far more likely to bring about a good result than yours is.

In any case, in real life, it's gonna go your way, so we'll have to leave it as an open question.

After the surge, we'll be spending 100 billion dollars per year, almost 10X the GDP of the country.

If we just took that money and gave it out to the 33 million people in Afghanistan, it'd be $3000 per year. Maybe they'd like us more if we simply put them all on the dole and left.

"And how do you justify demanding Afghans endure a foreign military occupation for the sake of this magical change you envision is going to happen that will make Afghans dependent on a foreign military occupation remaining?"

I don't completely trust the polls in Afghanistan, but I think the above statement represents a dimmer view of our occupation than what many of the Afghan people have. Although the support for U.S. presence has been diminishing, it's not as though all of the Afghan people are "enduring" foreign occupation against their will. A substantial portion of the population has wanted us there, and still do.

I am very ambivalent about Obama's plan. We can't afford to be there, and I'm not sure that being there is accomplishing anything toward our security of that of the people there. But it's overstating it to say that we are the ones causing the suffering in Afghanistan, and that the Afghan people as a whole are "enduring" our presence. We can't bring stability, democracy or general happiness to Afghanistan, but neither do I think "the Afghan people" will find a solution that "the Afghan people" (even a majority of them) agree is a satisfactory one. (In other words, I don't agree with Russell that "The Afghan people [collectively] know what they want" even if I agree, for the most part, that they should be the ones to duke it out.)

The only reason I have some hope that the decision to stay there temporarily might be right is that I do believe we need to have an intelligence presence in Afghanistan. Their status as a failed state, and a heroin manufacturing center affects us. We certainly have reason to attempt to influence what happens in nuclear Pakistan. These are issues that make the parallels with Vietnam and Iraq fall apart. Whether a military presence is the strategy for addressing real interests that we have there is the question, not whether we have an interest.

I would be happier if Obama had announced that we were getting out, but since he didn't I am left hoping that his actions are based on his intelligent and informed assessment of our security requirements. I certainly don't think it's fair to talk about our occupation as necessarily being oppressive, when a large number of people there apparently support it.

Sapient: I don't completely trust the polls in Afghanistan, but I think the above statement represents a dimmer view of our occupation than what many of the Afghan people have.

And what part of Afghanistan do you live in, Sapient, that you report this so surely? If you don't trust the polls, on what are you basing this idea?

The default presumption about literally any foreign military occupation is that it is unwelcome. (You need only think how you would react to one in your own country...) It can be more or less unwelcome, to individuals in that country depending how they and their families and neighbors have been treated, or to countries as a whole. But the notion that people ever want foreign soldiers occupying their country, and like to see them there, is a fantasy, common to many Americans.

Look, in Northern Ireland, in principle, the British soldiers stationed there during the Troubles ought to have been welcome to the Protestants, and in principle I'm sure there were Protestant Irish who were OK with having the army in their cities. In practice, the British Army was less unpopular with Protestants than with Catholics - but in no case was it welcome.

And while the British were guilty of torture and of unjust imprisonment, and there were shootings that shouldn't have happened and outright murders that were never penalized - as happens whenever soldiers are stationed among hostile civilians - there were never any military airstrikes, never cluster bombs dropped to mine a city street: and this despite the fact that the IRA was more of a threat to your ordinary UK citizen going about her daily business, than any Afghan army has ever been to the United States.

"If you don't trust the polls, on what are you basing this idea?"

I should have said that I don't trust the polls to be completely accurate, but I also don't think they're totally made up. I don't live in Afghanistan, and I've confessed my ambivalence about Obama's policies, and own preference for leaving. But I don't think it's "helpful" to oversimplify the situation as one of: "Imperialist Americans continue to plague Afghanistan with their totally unwelcome occupation". And to answer your question how I would feel: if the Taliban, or even certain elements of the religious right, gained power in the United States and imposed some religious based legal regime prohibiting people from conducting their life generally as they wanted and beating up women who didn't cover themselves, and stoning women to death who committed adultery, and imposing the death penalty on gay people, I would welcome the Brits (for example) to come in and help me and my like-minded fellow citizens to fight them. Even if it were a war, and even if people were killed. Obviously, there might be a limit to the amount of bloodshed I could bear if it became obvious that the cause was lost.

if the Taliban, or even certain elements of the religious right, gained power in the United States and imposed some religious based legal regime prohibiting people from conducting their life generally as they wanted and beating up women who didn't cover themselves, and stoning women to death who committed adultery, and imposing the death penalty on gay people, I would welcome the Brits (for example) to come in and help me and my like-minded fellow citizens to fight them.

That's a very nice story you've been told about Afghanistan, but that's not what's happening. Not even close.

Your better analogy would be: supposing that the other NATO countries decided, after the invasion of Iraq, that it was time to put an end to the Republican Party interfering in global affairs and running corrupt elections at home, and invaded the US. You might be someone who hated Bush and loathed Republican policies and wanted the Republican Party cleaned out of the US like a MRSA infection out of a hospital. How far would you welcome the bombers that killed your neighbors, the cluster bombs that killed your children?

The US has killed thousands of civilians in Afghanistan. There is no real possibility of doing a proper survey as was done in Iraq to establish how many the US has killed, nor how many more Afghans have been killed fighting against the US occupation.

The split between the people who believe in land reform and women's rights and the people who believe in enforcing Shari'a law and keeping women far more abject and isolated than Shari'a law requires, is not today's split. It's the split between the modernising reforming Communists who were in power thirty years ago, and the Islamists who were being funded by the US to fight them. And the US's side - the Islamists - won. The fight now is on between warring Islamists: the US has never been on the side of peasant's rights or women's rights in Afghanistan.

Thanks, Jesurgislac - I'm aware of the history of American intervention in Afghanistan, and our support for the mujahideen. I wasn't "told" of Afghan support for American presence; any available evidence shows that a substantial portion of Afghans support our presence there. I didn't say a majority; I didn't say unqualified support; I didn't say that anyone was happy that civilians have been killed; and I didn't even say that I believe my evidence is flawless. But it's true that all polls say that a majority supports our presence there.

Your logic and assumptions are persuasive; trouble is, there's just as little evidence for your view as for a correlation between "what would Sapient think if ..." and what the Afghan people think. You don't speak for "the Afghan people" any more than I do, and any evidence that purports to be independently gathered supports me, not you. So your rhetoric that America is an unmitigated evil in the opinion of "the Afghan people" is simply baseless.

and any evidence that purports to be independently gathered supports me, not you.

Quite. My problem is, I've been listening to, and reading information from, way too many whiny Afghans who don't like the US occupation for mindlessly trivial reasons like they don't care for being raped, for example. Or sitting each night listening to the bombers fly overheard and hoping that your home is not in their target area.

But, hey: why pay attention to those kind of people? Or think about what they're saying? They can't be nearly as important as the people who say they want the US to stay...

"I've been listening to, and reading information from, way too many whiny Afghans who don't like the US occupation for mindlessly trivial reasons like they don't care for being raped, for example."

I know the feeling, Jes. I hear similar annoying bigots who hate gay people because some priests molest little boys. And as for rape, it seems to be generally okay there, if the victim is married to the rapist.

I don't think we should stay there, and don't defend crimes and civilian deaths - certainly that's the reason for waning support. But it still stands that many (maybe most) Afghans, from all available evidence, actually want us there, and that your rhetoric doesn't represent their views.


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