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July 16, 2008


I never really bought into the claim that Afganistan was more important than Iraq. Just look at the relative size of the countries populations, economies, natural resources etc. If given a choice of turning one or the other into a pro-western modern democracy the choice would have to be for Iraq over Afganistan.

I have always felt that those who want to withdraw from Iraq in order to fight in Afganistan were just looking for a cheap and nearly meaningless conselation prize for giving up the more important chance to establish democracy in Iraq.

If it is not worth winning in Iraq it is absolutely not worth losing a single soldier or spending a single dollar over someplace as small and meaningless as Afganistan.

We need to deal with the situation as it is today, not as someone like Obama may wish it were. Obama cannot turn back the clock and undo the invasion and conquest of Iraq just because he never supported it. What happened, happened. The Bush administration decided to fight in Iraq. If that was a mistake then giving up the battle now would be an even bigger mistake, especially if the reason is to fight in Afganistan instead.

We either stay in Iraq or we get out of the middle east all together.

Ken, your comment is filled with so many false dichotomies and begged questions that I'm not even sure it's worth the effort to respond to substantively. You seem to think the whole matter comes down to a formulaic weighing of which country is the biggest economic prize once it's somehow, magically, turned into a pro-western democracy without even bothering to stop and ask if it's /possible/ to do so.

Completely absent from this ridiculously simplistic analysis is any sign that you understand what factors in Iraq make this unlikely, and which of those factors are absent or lessened in Afghanistan.

The Bush administration decided to fight in Iraq. If that was a mistake then giving up the battle now would be an even bigger mistake

I invite you to lay out the train of logic that makes this so. Because frankly, at this point the dubious link between your if and your then--to say nothing of your notion of winning in Iraq--is on the Underpants Gnomes level.

ken -

There are lots of things in your statement to contest, but I'll just address one.

If we are in either Afghanistan or Iraq for the purpose of converting either to a Western-style democracy, and absent any other reason, then we are guilty of a crime against the peace.

You can't invade other countries for the purpose of trading their political structure for one more to your liking. It's against the law.

Of course, we're the big dog, so who's gonna stop us, right?

Could be. But things like this have a tendency to come back and bite you on the *ss.

We're in Afghanistan because we were attacked by an organization hosted and sponsored by their government, and whom their government refused to surrender.

God knows why we're in Iraq. The most plausible reason I've heard so far is that we're there because George Bush really, really wanted to invade, and nobody had the stones to tell him no.

You tell me which reason makes more sense.

I'll leave the other points for other folks to make.

Thanks -

Russell said... We're in Afghanistan because we were attacked by an organization hosted and sponsored by their government, and whom their government refused to surrender.

Additionally, that organization and the ousted government that supports them are making a resurgence. It is important to prevent them from establishing dominance in Afghanistan as it provides them a safe haven and access to large amounts of cash earned through the growing of opium poppies. That cash can then be used to attack the U.S.

After 7 years and a waste of precious human and material resources, we are back to square one and have to fight properly the war that we were supposed to fight in the first place. For my part, McCain, editors of The "War" Street Journal as well as the rest of the neocon "Get-Iraq-Now Gang" can flip-flop and change their mind anytime as far as they get serious and get down to the business on finishing the job in Afghanistan.

Osama Bin Forgotten and the bastards who attacked us that horrible day were not supposed to have the right to repeatedly make home videos that essentially convey the message 'Get Me If You Can!".

History should be harsh to Bush and Yo! Blair for not fighting the real war on terror. Barack Obama is right: this Iraq thing has been a strategic blunder.

An Angry Brit

We're in Afghanistan because we were attacked by an organization hosted and sponsored by their government, and whom their government refused to surrender.

That's why we went into Afghanistan ... almost 7 years ago. I don't agree with the decision to invade, but regardless of whether we were justified, why the hell are we still there?

I find widespread progressive sign on for the continued debacle in Afghanistan deeply worrying. Just one more reason to vote Green.

Gramps is just adjusting an opinion he doesn't remember having.

Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait..

Are you telling me that in a public forum John McCain successfully identified -- by name -- the two countries in which our nation has been fighting wars for seven years?

Holy shit, I gotta go lie down.

ken - Afganistan is is bigger than Iraq and has a larger population. And your skull must be really small

Obama's position on Aghganistan is as rock solid as his position on the surge, campaign finance, gun control, pastors, et.al..

Has McCain proposed invading Pakistan with ACORN special forces yet?

Let's remember, before Iraq, how our country did not, and would not ever, endorse a pre-emptive war to overthrow another government.

Why have we forgotten that this is the most un-American thing we could possibly ever do-- and why does even one person continue to support such an imperialistic approach to foreign policy usually reserved for dictators and extremists.

tao9, Show me a politician whose positions are completely immovable on principle and I'll show you a moronic ideologue. There is a difference between spineless pandering and adadption to the situation.
As for the Son of Cain...What time is it? His positions (if he can remember them) change faster than any clock can follow.

I'm not sure when it happened but based on the drone attacks in Pakistan, this change in Afghanistan and today's announcement of the start of diplomatic relations with Iran,it's clear that Bush has put Obama in charge of US foreign policy.


You must be forgetting the bonus population factor (see footnote #1) of 100 barrels of oil = 1 person when determining total population. This clearly puts Iraq ahead of Afghanistan in population. In fact it makes Iraq one of the most populous and important countries in the world today.

1 Taken from "The Unabridged Conservative Manifesto Vol 2"

That is classic McCain you know. The taliban will likely be in kabul b4 december

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"False dichotomies?" "Begged questions?" Sounds like elitist arugula-eater talk to me. Catsy, what can those phrases possibly mean to a guy who argues that the reason we should be in Iraq is because we are in Iraq? Ken's just repeating McBush's position, which is very loyal of him. Let's join the rest of America in nodding politely and turning away. Just 110 days to go.

Can you say "turn on a dime"? Only after Obama had left them sitting staring at their navels did McCain's senior foreign policy advisors, Randy Scheunemann and Kori Schake pick their collective heads up from Iraq and look up to see Kabul burning. They never would have changed their original position on Afghanistan if it wasn't for it appearing that Obama was the candidate who actually was listening to the senior military officers. The Generals have been saying for several months that Iraq was looking more and more stable while Afghanistan was going wobbly.
Obama has now taken a commanding lead on foreign policy and national security issues because he's made a common sense assessment of the situation and exercised good judgment. McCain, Scheuenemann and Schake are forced to play catch-up and are reduced to saying essentially "me too but even more than him". I just hope McCain doesn't have a "Jerry Ford" moment in the debates. For someone who was supposed to have the hammer on foreign policy this campaign has become a joke for McCain. McCain may be as bad a candidate as Dole in '96.

This is a niggling little point but that reference in the 7/6/08 Boston Globe piece (by Globe staff writer Bryan Bender) referring to "McCain, [as] a former fighter pilot and Vietnam prisoner of war..." is inaccurate. From what I've read on McCain's war biography, he was not a "fighter pilot" -- he wasn't good enough. (In fact, based on his standing in his Annapolis gradutaing class -- 894 in class of 899 -- McCain wouldn't have been flying at all if it weren't for his Admiral dad and grand dad.) Instead, he was a bomber pilot, low rung on the pretige totem pole for carrier pilots. Top rung belonged to the fighter pilots.


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