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October 27, 2009

Comments

I don't see why we have to dice terrorists up into little groups. The fact that they both call themselves "taliban" is all I need to know. The only reason for differentiating that Eric Martin gives is the conspiracy theory that the Pakistani government is backing the Taliban against the U.S. in Afghanistan. I know the ISI supported them against the Soviets, but there's no evidence that's still happening. Why would they do that when they're fighting the Taliban themselves?

The fact that they both call themselves "taliban" is all I need to know.

Not if you want to understand the situation.

The only reason for differentiating that Eric Martin gives is the conspiracy theory that the Pakistani government is backing the Taliban against the U.S. in Afghanistan

Oh dear. Are you aware of the ISI's involvement with the Taliban?

I know the ISI supported them against the Soviets, but there's no evidence that's still happening.

First of all, the Soviets pulled out a long time ago (before there even was a Taliban). The Taliban as an identifiable group is a relatively new phenomenon, and the ISI funded them from the get go and continue to support them.

You want evidence? According to US government officials from the military, intelligence and political apparatuses, the ISI continues to support the Afghan Taliban. It's in the McChrystal report, and similar allegations have been made by officials on the ground. Use the google.

Why would they do that when they're fighting the Taliban themselves?

Um, because the "Taliban" is not the same. Read the post. That was kind of the entire point. Pakistan would want to do that because they are not fighting the same group. Two different groups. One is valuable. The other, less so.

Eric Martin, no offense, but I don't think you know much about the history of the Taliban. The Taliban was formed in 1987. The word means "students." Pakistan only supported them against the Soviets. It's kind of pathetic that you'd cite the McChrystal report. The U.S. military is not a trusted source. These are the same neocons who said Iran was supporting al-Qaeda. The same people who said the insurgency in Iraq was being directed from Syria. Now they say Pakistan controls the Taliban? They're just blaming foreign assistance for their own incompetence. And you're falling for it.

Eric Martin, no offense, but I don't think you know much about the history of the Taliban.

I seem to know more than you. No offense.

The Taliban was formed in 1987.

Actually, 1994 was when the group became active, and most peg that as the date of their origin. It's in the article.

The word means "students."

Yes, it does. Your point being?

These are the same neocons who said Iran was supporting al-Qaeda.

No, they are not. The neocons are not saying that the Pakistanis are supporting the Taliban. Quite the opposite, they are taking the blind approach that you favor.

The same people who said the insurgency in Iraq was being directed from Syria.

No, see above.

Now they say Pakistan controls the Taliban?

No, that's not what anyone is saying. Not "they," nor anyone else.

No, that's not what anyone is saying. Not "they," nor anyone else.

Well, who do you think controls the Taliban?

Well, who do you think controls the Taliban?

Define "controls."

Define "controls."

Dictionary.com gives the following:


–verb (used with object)
1. to exercise restraint or direction over; dominate; command.
2. to hold in check; curb: to control a horse; to control one's emotions.
3. to test or verify (a scientific experiment) by a parallel experiment or other standard of comparison.
4. to eliminate or prevent the flourishing or spread of: to control a forest fire.
5. Obsolete. to check or regulate (transactions), originally by means of a duplicate register.
–noun
6. the act or power of controlling; regulation; domination or command: Who's in control here?
7. the situation of being under the regulation, domination, or command of another: The car is out of control.
8. check or restraint: Her anger is under control.
9. a legal or official means of regulation or restraint: to institute wage and price controls.
10. a standard of comparison in scientific experimentation.
11. a person who acts as a check; controller.
12. a device for regulating and guiding a machine, as a motor or airplane.
13. controls, a coordinated arrangement of such devices.
14. prevention of the flourishing or spread of something undesirable: rodent control.
15. Baseball. the ability of a pitcher to throw the ball into the strike zone consistently: The rookie pitcher has great power but no control.
16. Philately. any device printed on a postage or revenue stamp to authenticate it as a government issue or to identify it for bookkeeping purposes.
17. a spiritual agency believed to assist a medium at a séance.
18. the supervisor to whom an espionage agent reports when in the field.
Origin:
1425–75; late ME co(u)ntrollen (v.) AF contreroller to keep a duplicate account or roll, deriv. of contrerolle (n.). See counter-, roll

Eric: It's your time and you can waste it as you will, but remember what they say about wrestling a pig.

Eric writes a post.

"Brian Peppers" shows up to tell Eric just how wrong he is.

Eric proceeds to set "Brian Peppers" straight.

"Brian Peppers" then, without even a smidgen of acknowledgement for Eric's response, diverts the conversation onto a different path.

Methinks: not worth engaging. Plus, there were the offensive comments from earlier today that are already putting Senior Peppers into bannable territory, so why not just bid him adieu right now?

The Taliban controls the Taliban.

Yeah, I know. It's just that I've been away from the intertubes for a little while, and playing around with a troll actually had some appeal. But I'm done now.

Let's see if we can get back to the subject at hand:

First Eric, you are absolutely right that we shouldn't make the mistake of assuming that in pursuing allies in this fight (like, or perhaps, especially Pakistan) that our interests will line up exactly.

The linked article clears a lot of things up. A few conclusions:

It seems the Pakistani Taliban is currently giving sanctuary to AQ, while the Mullah Omar's faction focuses on retaking Afghanistan.

The current safe haven needs to fall, which makes Pakistan's recent military action against the quasi-regime heartening. At the same time, the old safe haven cannot return, and, unless anybody thinks Omar's turning on OBL*, that means frustrating his faction as well.

The only option left (aside from highly unlikely, albeit oft mentioned, scenarios in Sudan, Somalia, or Yemen**) is that Omar keeps a quasi-state in Pakistan (like he has now) and AQ seeks refuge there.

If it comes to this, the solution will be easier than any task we have now, and are essentially diplomatic in nature, as it essentially means (a) making sure Pakistan understands -- and accepts -- that the Taliban aren't going to retake Afghanistan, and (b) working with Pakistan to, in some fashion, extract AQ from their country, or at the very least, make their international efforts inoperable.

Now of course, I fully understand that the situation is still more complicated than that -- and there may be aspects that would revise this idea, or possibly make it inoperable.

My real point here is that while the situation is complicated -- but though our interests won't always line up exactly with our allies, but that doesn't mean we won't be able to cooperate in the fights where they do, or that we won't be able to pursue other ends where they may not.

*in fact, the evidence is their closer than ever

**this I know I've spoke on recently, as to why

In a sane world, the left-wing response should be: end the occupation and quit trying to impose a puppet government on Afghanistan.

That is, more or less, my view.

Instead of crushing the resistance with more troops, Eric thinks we should use flying robots to conduct extra-judicial executions. Seriously, robot assassinations are what passes for "progressive" opinion.

While our military technology is certainly advanced, we do not yet have flying robots - or at least if we do, we haven't used any yet.

As for using remote piloted drones, I do support their use, but in much rarer circumstances than currently used. I favor using them strictly against al-Qaeda targets, and only when the intel is solid.

I'm not sure if that is progressive or not, but it is my opinion. If the tribal powers in the region would agree to allow our law enforcement personnel in to arrest al-Qaeda operatives, I would much prefer that course to the use of targeted strikes. But until then, I am pragmatic enough to make do with the means available.

"Instead of crushing the resistance with more troops, Eric thinks we should use flying robots to conduct extra-judicial executions. Seriously, robot assassinations are what passes for "progressive" opinion... But pacifist and anti-imperialist viewpoints are beyond the pale."

With all due respect:

I think the reason they are, in this case, is that virtually nobody considers it acceptable to shrug off an organization that murders 3000 people on our soil.

So if your going to say "We shouldn't invade (and/or occupy) Afghanistan" Americans are going expect you to explain, as they should, how we're supposed to neutralize the threat of AQ, when they're based in a failed state giving them sanctuary.

Turning the other cheek as a nation, not responding to this threat, in other words, is not on the table -- nor should it be.

What do you call Predators and Reapers? I guess you could argue they're not really "robots" because there is a human with a remote control.

Well, yeah. They aren't robots, they are controlled by humans. That's kind of an enormous difference.

The show Robot Wars on Spike TV involves remote controlled things killing each other. They call them robots, so I think that's an acceptable use in contemporary American English.

I would suggest not using Spike TV as a citation for such arguments.

"Robots" is a charged term in the present context, and I assume that's why you used it. But because of its impact, we should be careful to use it properly. That is so even if Spike TV also misuses the term - undoubtedly for marketing purposes, and marketing, by its nature, is an exercise in embellishment if not outright deception.

They aren't robots, they are controlled by humans. That's kind of an enormous difference.

As a guy who has some knowledge of both UAVs and robots, I completely agree with this.

The show Robot Wars on Spike TV involves remote controlled things killing each other. They call them robots, so I think that's an acceptable use in contemporary American English.

That show sucks. It's a cool idea. But it would be better if they used actual "robots" not remote control cars with battering rams and crap.

But the main flaw of the show is that people build these things with a huge spike hammer or flamethrower or whatnot, and they always get flipped over by those stupid little wedge things.

How did a thread on the War in Afghanistan get to be about robots and Spike TV?

I was making a point that even the left-wing position favors extrajudicial executions.

What would you do with respect to the al-Qaeda operatives in the region?

Turning the other cheek as a nation, not responding to this threat, in other words, is not on the table -- nor should it be.

While I agree with the sentiment, it's hard to keep it from shading off into "There's no problem imperialism causes that more imperialism can't cure." At some point we need to stop intervening in foreign wars and invading foreign countries using the last effort to resist our wars and invasions as the justification, if only because we're running out of blood and treasure. And the sooner we stop, the better.

Well, the Taliban offered to extradite them

Not exactly.

I don't think there are significant numbers of al-Qaeda left in Afghanistan anymore.

No, there aren't. But we're talking both Afghanistan and Pakistan. And even then, the numbers aren't too great. But the fewer the number of AQ ops, the fewer the number of airstrikes needed. So, to the good.

I don't know what to do know.[sic]

So, you would criticize others' suggestions, but not have a suggestion yourself? Not much help.

The real point was that the lynch mob mentality of 2001 didn't work.

Define "work." al-Qaeda has been severely disrupted, with many top operatives killed and/or captured.

As you said yourself, "I don't think there are significant numbers of al-Qaeda left in Afghanistan anymore."

"using the last effort to resist our wars and invasions as the justification"

The closest thing to an "invasion" that OBL said "provoked" 9/11 was that we had (invited) troops in Saudi Arabia, from when we helped stop the invasion of Kuwait.

As Eric has noted, AQ's beef is that the US gives support to "apostate" regimes that don't adhere to (his organization's vision of) Sharia law.

Yes the US has things to apologize for, with regard to foreign policy* -- but supporting regimes OBL and his fanatical allies isn't one of them, or certainly not anywhere near the top of the list.

*"imperialism", if you like

Well, the Taliban offered to extradite them

Not exactly.

Yes, exactly. Mullah Omar offered to extradite OBL to an international tribunal that would weigh the evidence against him and decide whether to try him itself or send him to the U.S. Pakistan blocked that idea.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/afghanistan/1358464/Pakistan-blocks-bin-Laden-trial.html

Yes the US has things to apologize for, with regard to foreign policy* -- but supporting regimes OBL and his fanatical allies isn't one of them, or certainly not anywhere near the top of the list.

The U.S. props up repressive petrol-dictatorships. How is that not imperialism?

The closest thing to an "invasion" that OBL said "provoked" 9/11 was that we had (invited) troops in Saudi Arabia, from when we helped stop the invasion of Kuwait.

An invasion for which our ambassador to Iraq apparently gave permission, and which grew out of our encouraging Iraq to fight a long, bloody and expensive war with Iran.

An invasion for which our ambassador to Iraq apparently gave permission

In this case, "apparently" requires some interpretive dance to have it make sense.

The Taliban were right not to extradite Bin Laden to the U.S. The U.S. and Afghanistan had no extradition treaty. Normally, when a country asks another country to extradite a criminal suspect, the country requesting extradition must provide evidence of the suspect's guilt. The Taliban asked Bush for such evidence, according to this international norm. Bush refused and made an unconditional demand to look like tough guy.

The U.S. refuses to extradite terrorists to other countries. Luis Posada Carriles blow up a Cuban airliner in Venezuela. Blowing up airplanes is terrorism right? The U.S. refuses to extradite him despite the fact that it does have a treaty with Venezuela. The U.S. hypocritically says it fears he may be tortured. Do you not think Bin Laden would have been tortured?

In this case, "apparently" requires some interpretive dance to have it make sense.

Any reading of what Glaspie said that attributes coherence to it is going to require some interpretive dance.

Yes, exactly. Mullah Omar offered to extradite OBL to an international tribunal that would weigh the evidence against him and decide whether to try him itself or send him to the U.S. Pakistan blocked that idea.

That's kind of different than what you said upthread.

The "extradition" was for Osama bin Laden, not al-Qaeda as a group.

The extradition was to Pakistan, not the US.

The extradition was premised on the condition that bin Laden would be tried according to Sharia law - whatever that means in the current context.

The offer was not made to the United States. As such, the United States did not reject the offer.

The offer was made to Pakistan. Pakistan rejected the offer.

So, when you answer a question about dealing with al-Qaeda operatives as a group and you say: "Well, the Taliban offered to extradite them. The U.S. chose to invade."

My response would be, rightly, "not exactly."

I would add: The United States actually offered the Taliban a deal on extradition as an alternative to invasion. It was the Taliban that refused.

The Taliban were right not to extradite Bin Laden to the U.S.

And, under those circumstances, the US was right to strike militarily at al-Qaeda.

The Taliban asked Bush for such evidence, according to this international norm.

Yes, I'm sure the Taliban were seriously confused. I mean, Bin Laden had only been attacking US targets for years and claiming credit for those attacks. He only vowed to continue attacking the US repeatedly while the Taliban gave his group space to operate paramilitary training camps for which he was using for the stated purpose of training operatives to attack the US. He also took credit for the 9/11 attacks in the aftermath.

So, I mean, how could the Taliban know he was guilty without proof provided by Bush?

Come on.

Though the far superior game Corewar actually involved programming tanks in advance.

I would add: The United States actually offered the Taliban a deal on extradition as an alternative to invasion. It was the Taliban that refused.

Eric, you and I both know that offer was bunk. Bush wanted to go to war. The whole country wanted to go to war. That wasn't a serious offer.

Eric, you and I both know that offer was bunk. Bush wanted to go to war. The whole country wanted to go to war. That wasn't a serious offer.

Then they should have called his bluff. And it's not sure that they were really dead set on war with Afghanistan. Rumsfeld didn't want it, he wanted Iraq. Wolfie wanted Iraq. Bush wanted Iraq. Much reporting indicates that Blair had to twist Bush's arm to do Afghanistan before Iraq.

The U.S. refuses to extradite terrorists to other countries. Luis Posada Carriles blow up a Cuban airliner in Venezuela. Blowing up airplanes is terrorism right? The U.S. refuses to extradite him despite the fact that it does have a treaty with Venezuela.

I have written numerous times about this case, and I agree with you that the US should extradite them, and should have years ago. Shameful.

Any reading of what Glaspie said that attributes coherence to it is going to require some interpretive dance.

Eh? What she said was, basically, that the US didn't want to get involved in Arab disputes. She didn't promise that we'd look the other way if Iraq invaded Kuwait, unless as a listener you wanted terribly badly to believe that's just what the US would do, and were prepared to ignore pretty much everything else the US said and did in support of that belief.

Bin Laden had only been attacking US targets for years and claiming credit for those attacks. He only vowed to continue attacking the US repeatedly while the Taliban gave his group space to operate paramilitary training camps for which he was using for the stated purpose of training operatives to attack the US. He also took credit for the 9/11 attacks in the aftermath.

This completely misses the point. Bin Laden did not publicly claim credit for the 11/9 operation. Besides, Carriles works for the CIA. I'm sure the Americans were seriously confused.

The point is there is an internationally agreed protocol for requesting extraditions. The U.S. did not follow it because it was merely seeking a pretext for war.

...not that Wikipedia is definitive, but would Joe Wilson's POV help?

The first draft of the history of that meeting has not been very kind to April Glaspie, and has, in fact, suggested that perhaps by the way that she phrased her talking points, she may have inadvertently given Saddam Hussein a green light, or at least not a red light, for invading Kuwait -- either encouraging or at least not discouraging it.

Well, having spoken to one of the people who was at the meeting from the Iraqi side in New York last year, about two months before he passed away, I asked that very question, because I was not at the meeting. I know what April told me when she came out of the meeting, and I know how the cables she wrote read. He said, "No, absolutely not" -- that in fact, in that meeting what she said was exactly what the Iraqis expected her to say. It was a longstanding policy of the United States and of other global powers or regional powers that we do not take positions on the merits of a particular legal case between two Arab countries, other than to encourage them in the strongest possible terms to mediate their differences either through an internal court of justice or international mediation or bilateral diplomacy.

Bin Laden did not publicly claim credit for the 11/9 operation.

Actually, he did. Several times.

This completely misses the point.

No, that IS the point. Repeated acts of terrorism are acts of war. The normal standards of evidence do not apply to the apprehension of combatants.

The point is there is an internationally agreed protocol for requesting extraditions.

Yes, and there are international protocols for not allowing armed groups to wage war from your soil.

The U.S. did not follow it because it was merely seeking a pretext for war.

Again, the Taliban should have called their bluff. Turned over all al-Qaeda in their territory. That would have been the smart play.

Besides, Carriles works for the CIA. I'm sure the Americans were seriously confused.

No! Not confused at all! As I said, the US is wrong with respect to the Cuban terrorists. Wrong.

"Mullah Omar offered to extradite OBL to an international tribunal..."

... by the UN? By a sharia court? If so, by whose? Did he actually expect one to materialize to try him?

Remember, when Saudi Arabia suggested extradition, for crimes he committed before 9/11, Omar poured water on his head to illustrate how infuriated he was by the mere suggestion of it.

"An invasion for which our ambassador to Iraq apparently gave permission..."

Not relevant -- OBL was mad that (a) our troops were invited to Saudi Arabia by the king, and (b) that he wasn't picked to lead the counter-invasion. Neither of these are things for which the US owes an apology (irregardless of the case which anyone may make for other needed apologies).

"The U.S. props up repressive petrol-dictatorships. How is that not imperialism?"

Okay, aside from the holes in the idea that these regimes only continue to exist from US support -- we weren't accused by AQ of supporting "repressive petrol-dictatorships", we were charged with being an "enemy of Islam".

In other words, it wasn't the repression of these regimes that angers this movement; it's their "decadence". That is to say, our citizens weren'r murdered for our government's hypocrisy.

Slarti: Consider this my unconditional surrender on Glaspie. I will not fight extradition.

@Point:

With all due respect:

I think the reason they are, in this case, is that virtually nobody considers it acceptable to shrug off an organization that murders 3000 people on our soil.

So if your going to say "We shouldn't invade (and/or occupy) Afghanistan" Americans are going expect you to explain, as they should, how we're supposed to neutralize the threat of AQ, when they're based in a failed state giving them sanctuary.

Turning the other cheek as a nation, not responding to this threat, in other words, is not on the table -- nor should it be.

With all due respect, an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.

You've just presented as not only acceptable, but obligatory, a rationale for Afgan (and Iraqi, amongst other nations) efforts to bring down the US government, or at a bare minimum remove all US personnel from their country, including by the expedient means of simply killing them off; US civilian casualties acceptable but not required.

To forestall the obvious rebuttals:

1) Afganistan was in a state of civil war in 2001. I don't think our "collateral damage" has magically only been limited to Taliban backers from then-Taliban-controlled regions. An attempt to paint the whole of the citizenry as bearing culpability for the actions of an organization harbored by a single non-democratic faction within a nation engaged in civil war is highly questionable.

2) The excuse that US-inflicted casualties are foreseen but unintended wears very thin indeed, as with the ambulance driver claiming he didn't mean to hit all those people on the sidewalk, even though he's been hitting people when he drives on the sidewalk for years. (In the interests of full candor, I should perhaps note that I've pretty much always found the doctrine of double effect to be highly unconvincing and morally repellent.) That the organization in question is responsible for positing theories like "Shock and Awe" additionally draws the whole "unintended" assertion into murkier waters, but even if we grant it this is a thin reed to cling to.

3) That the current "legitimate" government accepts the US presence is more legitimatizing of violence to remove the US, by this reasoning. It's unacceptable to "turn the other cheek" and watch the murderous (or if we're generous, "manslaughterous") organization not only remain free and at large in your country (and the world), but continually inflicts new casualties. Your reasoning paints this as grossly unacceptable, and that no government that is accountable to its people should expect to tolerate it.

4) The combination of the above two suggests that violent resistance is the best and possibly only viable means of neutralizing the organization in question, as the diplomatic and political routes appear to be co-opted dead ends which are leading to a mounting body count.

So... do you actually take to heart your claim that efforts must be made to neutralize any organization responsible for the deaths of thousands of a nation's citizens on its own soil, with the consequences to the people of other nations being secondary or tertiary? Or is this in your eyes simply a perfectly reasonable case of American exceptionalism?

Slarti: Consider this my unconditional surrender on Glaspie. I will not fight extradition.

I don't know exactly what this means, but if it's a good-natured capitulation, consider this a good-natured acceptance.

I don't know what the real truth is regarding April Glaspie. Certainly there are a great many former diplomats that have come to her defense, and if they're right, then she has been unjustly maligned. But even though I'm open to further discussion, I don't see, yet, how her discussion with Hussein could be construed as an offer to sit pat while Iraq invaded Kuwait.

The last sentence above is intended to clarify where I stand, and not to serve as further argument with you, Hogan.

good-natured capitulation

Yes, that.

Ok, then :)

"Or is this in your eyes simply a perfectly reasonable case of American exceptionalism?"

It's a case of the American government, which exists solely as a social contract, first and foremost looking after the security and well being of the American people. Doing what it is supposed to do.

(George Kenan said it better than I did -- will post link when I find it.)

Sad to see a thread so thoroughly trolled.

The U.S. did not follow it because it was merely seeking a pretext for war.

Hard to say what someone would have to do to justify a military response if 9/11 doesn't do it for you.

Maybe we should have invaded, maybe we shouldn't, but I'm not sure any additional "pretext" or justification was necessary.

I think I found the Kennan quote -- it was this part, in particular, from Morality and Foreign Policy":

"Second, let us recognize that the functions, commitments and moral obligations of governments are not the same as those of the individual. Government is an agent, not a principal. Its primary obligation is to the interests of the national society it represents, not to the moral impulses that individual elements of that society may experience."

If Taliban is eradicated, Pakistan would stop receiving over a $1 Bill a year. I believe that is more then Pakistani GDP for last 8 years. It is in their interest for Taliban exist. Afghani Taliban so that US have someone to fight and needs closing of Af-Pak border. And Pakistani Taliban to prevent from taking over nuclear arsenal. More enemies Pakistan has, more aide they will receive as long as they show a progres. US policy with Pakistan is blind faith policy.

I think the question, Point, is whether other governments have the same obligations when the threat to their citizens comes from the US.

If Taliban is eradicated, Pakistan would stop receiving over a $1 Bill a year.

There is much truth to this. Pakistan has a vested interest (to the tune of many billions a year) in maintaining a status quo of conflict.

Yes, Hogan, that's exactly what I was driving at.

Point, your justification by strict recourse to government-as-a-social-contract-for-security only really works if you consider it in a vacuum. Otherwise, the government needs to, ya know, actually consider the consequences of what it does. Adopting the ethos that non-Americans are less important and in fact expendable in the pursuit of security for Americans either requires that you accept that other nations should likewise not care one jot about killing off Americans if it makes them safer (even if only marginally or superficially), or that you assert that American exceptionalism grants the US a dispensation to value its citizens over foreign nationals, while other nations must consider them sacrosanct. The former implies a rejection of human rights and international law (and basically an assertion that on the international level, might makes right, and that that's as it should be); the latter is obviously and banally hypocritical.

As I've said, the argument to leave Afghanistan is a moral one. In fact, it is so deeply moral that one threatens its basis if one tries to wrap a practical justification around it. If you want to embrace the left wing full withdrawal, then do so. But don't claim you are doing it and then sneak in the back way with Raptors and Predators giving your moral sense plausible deniability.

There is obviously an unavoidable confirmation bias here, but I see that the Pakistan Taliban arose from the philosophy of the Afghanistan Taliban. In this case, it's not like a garage band picking up an already copyrighted name, the reason they picked the name is because they subscribe to the same overarching principles. If we exit the region (and again, morally, exit means exit, it doesn't mean take out all our men and leave a force de frappé around) are we to assume that the Afghanistan Taliban isn't going to be interested in helping the Pakistan Taliban? Especially if it could get them a few nukes in the bargain? Would ISI money that the Afghanistan Taliban gets to oppose Indian efforts in the region (see the Shashi Tharoor interview that I cited in the thread with Gary) never find its way into Pakistan Taliban pockets to destabilize that country? On the other hand, if the elements of the Taliban were included in the Afghanistan government, wouldn't we expect the Afghanistan Taliban to be less interested in supporting the Pakistan Taliban than if they were (again) successful in taking over the country?

If the Taliban were eradicated, Pakistan would stop receiving $1 billion in military aid. The ISI and the military have a vested interest in keeping the status quo. Finding a way to make that change is not going to be accomplished by simply washing our hands of the region. Is that interest going to disappear if we ignore the Taliban, and when you agree with 'end the occupation and quit trying to impose a puppet government on Afghanistan', you can't pretend that you are going to support an Austin Long approach of 13,000 Green Beret/SEAL troops. Getting out means getting out.

And on leaving, what are the chances that, like our recently departed troll, the Taliban(s) are the going to resort to bigger things to get our attention? If the pressure were removed from the Pak Taliban (and don't you think that the reason the problems in Pakistan with their Taliban are coming to a head are in some way linked to the US being involved in the region?), what is going to stop the ISI from reverting to the old status quo of supporting the elements that want to target external to Pakistan or targets that the ISI wanted dealt with inside Pakistan. It is quite likely that Baitullah Mehsud, who the Pakistan forces just killed, was responsible, or at least involved in the assasination of Bhutto.

And just because it might not happen to American citizens doesn't put us in the clear. While NV dings Point for American exceptionalism, who is being proposed to keep a lid on things? A dirty bomb in Mumbai or Lahore or even downtown Kabul would be as much a reason as one in Chicago to try and address the problem of the philosophy that the Taliban represents.

I had to type this post twice, so bear with me some:

"I think the question, Point, is whether other governments have the same obligations when the threat to their citizens comes from the US."

Short answer, yes -- when the threat is real, and the deaths would reduce (or eliminate) the threat and were necessary to do so. If, for example, the US starting nuclear missiles into China and/or Russia (likely to kill many of their civilians, mind you), their governments would be fully justified in targeting whatever sites or even cities for nuclear attack which were necessary to reduce or eliminate our capacity to do so to them.*

"the government needs to, ya know, actually consider the consequences of what it does."

I'll just be brief and say this is right. That's why unnecessary deaths, wars, etc. are bad for American security, and why it is the state's responsibility, in protecting us, to avoid them.

It's also why a regime that protects an organization that seeks to murder as many citizens of a nation of much greater military power (for the purpose of making it attack the host country, no less) is putting its own population in unconscionable peril. Same for a nation which commits aggressive wars against a roughly equal or greater power**.

*Incidentally, this is why reducing and, if possible, eliminating nuclear weapons are in both our interests.

**On an interesting note, by this logic, attempting military world conquest is one of the worst things a government could do to its own people. I'm thinking, in particular, of the Axis powers in WWII who tried to conquer the world, only to bring the wrath of the rest of the world to their doorstep. While the War in Iraq also put Americans in greater danger for the fury it created, this effect was much smaller. It's still not nearly as destructive as, say, a war with China or Russia.

"Pakistan has a vested interest (to the tune of many billions a year) in maintaining a status quo of conflict."

They certainly have that incentive, no denying, and it certainly complicates things. But I think the point remains that where our interests coincide we need to continue cooperating, such as keeping pressure on the Taliban faction currently giving AQ sanctuary.

sigh... It's nice to get back to the subject of the article.

Short answer, yes -- when the threat is real, and the deaths would reduce (or eliminate) the threat and were necessary to do so. If, for example, the US starting nuclear missiles into China and/or Russia (likely to kill many of their civilians, mind you), their governments would be fully justified in targeting whatever sites or even cities for nuclear attack which were necessary to reduce or eliminate our capacity to do so to them.

So are the continued deaths in Afghanistan actually necessary? Your prior comment, the one that I used as an initial springboard, suggested that even marginally (or apparently) increasing American security would justify indefinite occupation with attendant casualties. I find this highly questionable, and I find the logic that seems to be backing it up to be dubious.

Also, given what you're justifying, I don't see how this precludes e.g. Afghan actors, concluding that the removal of American indefinitely-occupying forces would honestly and significantly improve the security situation for the average Afghan, deciding that the best way to force the US out would be to carry out large-scale terrorist attacks against American civilian targets. Political action appears wholly incapable of removing them, and conventional military balance tilts in American favor. So if they want them gone, why shouldn't they attack the civilians of the power that shows itself to be so indifferent to their civilians? The one who, to their eye, engaged in an aggressive war and imperialist occupation? If they in good faith conclude it's necessary, well, you couldn't fault them, eh? They're doing it to increase the security of the people of their nation, after all.

Also: jus ad bellum does not translate to jus in bello, and jus ad bellum doesn't self-extend indefinitely. There comes a time to evaluate if a war should be continued, even if justly started (I'll concede this for the sake of argument, though I'd say traditional just war theory might suggest otherwise) and waged (which, ya know, I'm not overmuch inclined to concede even for the sake of argument). You seem to be arguing for a "Pottery Barn" just war theory: "you" (for some fungible value of you) broke it, you're gonna "buy it" (in the idiomatic sense). IOW, you seem inclined to place not just all culpability for initiating a war on the initial instigating actor (even if the instigating act was not necessarily an act of war (yeah, yeah, agree to disagree)), but also place all culpability for the conduct of all actors on said actor. Again, there is such a thing as jus in bello.

Finally, to snipe back at your invocation of Kennan... that's all well and good, but if your justification for invasion and indefinite occupation is an implicit "social contract" on the part of the government... you do not get to ignore explicit government contracts (i.e., treaties) limiting the government's freedom. Your 13:03 comment all but states that the government cannot be limited in responding as it deems necessary to what it perceives as security threats. Um. Agree to disagree, I guess. 'Cause there ain't no way I'm gonna even think of conceding rule of law to the military industrial complex in exchange for its assurances that it'll keep us "safe". There exist circumstances under which "turning the other cheek" should not only be on the table, but should be all alone there, and no amount of fear that some Americans might be questioning our government's inactivity in neutralizing the threat should change that. With all due respect.

I posted a link here, which seems to have disappeared and not posted. It's this: Brother of Afghan Leader Is Said to Be on C.I.A. Payroll.

"Also, given what you're justifying, I don't see how this precludes e.g. Afghan actors... deciding that the best way to force the US out would be to carry out large-scale terrorist attacks against American civilian targets."

This idea, that killing American civilians is a sensible (and thus acceptable) way to get their country to remove troops, to say nothing of the error that this is what motivates terrorists who target it -- this is too ridiculous to even deserve an answer.

I'm done here; whatever reasonable points you've made are dried up, and I don't intend to stick around feeding another troll.

The government is following my advice, which, of course, worries me: U.S. to Protect Populous Afghan Areas, Officials Say.

As you please, Point. We don't see eye-to-eye on this, certainly, and you've shown no inclination to try to directly address the points I was trying to drive at rather than sticking to your unrelated narrative (as the first paragraph in your response here makes abundantly clear). This conversation is certainly fruitless.

My "trolling" is no worse than yours, from a different point of view (i.e., Not Yours). As repeatedly pointed out above, your 13:03 post yesterday (the one that irked me enough to jump in) looked very much like it had some fairly repugnant exceptionalism underlying it, and you used it to self-righteously dismiss out of hand the very idea that foreign policy options you disagreed with might have the least merit. I'd personally not call such behavior trollish, myself. I'd go with churlish. But it's not exactly reasonable, whatever name you put on it.

As a true, honest last statement in the thread: Point, Hogan completely had your number more succinctly and to the point than I could ever hope to with his 13:42. That you then turned around and quibbled that OBL's beef with the US in re: troops in the Kingdom shouldn't be considered as a meaningful example of imperialism inviting blowback because they were invited* by one of the aforementioned apostate regimes pretty much says everything needing said regarding your ideological blinders, and the futility of discussing certain points with you.

*Very possibly under false pretenses, and in any case lingering for a decade or so after the nominal threat had been utterly neutralized... but who's counting?

"even if the instigating act was not necessarily an act of war (yeah, yeah, agree to disagree)"

That's a good rhetorical device you got there; I'll try to remember it.

"even if my s**t doesn't always stink (yeah, yeah, agree to disagree)"

"even if the pope isn't necessarily catholic (yeah, yeah, agree to disagree)"

"even if I'm the sane one, and the rest of you are bats**t insane"

FWIW

I'm revisiting this, and find that I have some regrets -- specifically calling NV a "troll", but something more general as well.

There were four points in his preceding post (each paragraph being roughly one point). The first one -- "why is this war necessary" -- was actually a good one; it is the question that drives me to this site again and again to discuss. The fourth point, regarding the larger social contract we make vis-a-vie international institutions was worthy as well*. The third, overall, was good too. And I ignored them all, for my ire at the second.

For these transgression, I express my regret. If NV is reading, I offer my apologies for them.

While I stand by my characterization of the second point as "ridiculous", I could probably have taken the time to be more clear -- attacking the US population is not a "sensible" way of getting the US to remove troops from a given theater, esp. if said attackers have a base in said theater.

The US, and others, have invaded and occupied countless nations; none were defeated by attacking the civilians of the invading country. AQ knew this full well when they carried out 9/11; as Eric noted, it was kind of the whole point. And if it wasn't common knowledge before, it certainly is now, especially, I would think, in Afghanistan. And since such a strategy isn't sensible, it can't be acceptable -- if killing American civilians does absolutely nothing to get them to remove troops from your nation, and actually has the opposite affect, it cannot be invoked as justifying said murders.

(This doesn't even get into the question of who is making decisions on their behalf -- it is, at the very least, impractical for non-state actors to claim to be bound to make such a decision.)

This is what makes the point ridiculous and what made me feel at the time that NV was not worth talking to -- in retrospect, I will say I was wrong.

*If I had responded, I might have given an academic answer on when actors in a social contract (be they people or nations) are permitted to renege on it. But, more briefly, I can say the US should, in this war, adhere to international law.

attacking the US population is not a "sensible" way of getting the US to remove troops from a given theater

What would be a "sensible" way to do that?

And to get back to one of NV's larger points, if we get to (try to) assassinate Castro, do the Cubans get to (try to) assassinate Kennedy?

Point: The US, and others, have invaded and occupied countless nations; none were defeated by attacking the civilians of the invading country.

Attacking civilians is never a good way to win wars, but the US - like any other nation - has nonetheless attacked civilians as a part of waging war. The killing of Afghan civilians is in fact a major part of the reason the US will lose the war in Afghanistan: defeated, in a sense, by its own evil, though at horrible human cost.

But, more briefly, I can say the US should, in this war, adhere to international law.

Well, yes, but the US has not adhered to international law in the war in Afghanistan. Very publicly not, since January 2002, and witness reports from victims and survivors of crimes committed by the US military suggest that the criminal behavior began almost at the same time as the war.

Certainly, though the war was begun with international approval, it would have been hard to justify in terms of international law: Afghanistan had not attacked the US and was no threat to the US, and making war on Afghanistan made the US no safer.

"What would be a "sensible" way to do that?"

Guerilla warfare has a decent track record; the Vietcong (and, tbf, the North Vietnamese) certainly managed without taking the fight to the enemy's civilians. And even if other options weren't available, that doesn't make senseless ones acceptable.

"And to get back to one of NV's larger points, if we get to (try to) assassinate Castro, do the Cubans get to (try to) assassinate Kennedy?"

OK, I'm just going to have to assume I was being incredibly unclear in what I was saying in this thread. So let me set the record straight: I am not saying any nation, including the US, has the right to vengeance. I am saying they have a right to protect the rights of their people.

So, if Kennedy posed a threat to the lives of the Cuban people, and if it was both helpful and necessary to protect them vis a vis assassination, and if such acts would not put the people of Cuba in even greater danger (including vis a vis the threat of violating international law with regard to political assassinations) -- then the hypothetical assassination would be justified.

the Vietcong (and, tbf, the North Vietnamese) certainly managed without taking the fight to the enemy's civilians.

The VietCong might have triumphed earlier, of course, if as well as the comparitively-minor numbers of US military casualties (214 000 dead, seriously wounded, or MIA, according to Wikipedia) the US had suffered equally to Vietnam, with around 4 million civilian casualties, even spread over 16 years. Though two hundred fifty thousand US civilians every year is a tiny fraction of the population of the US, compared with what Vietnam suffered.

But then, supposing the Viet Cong had been as routinely attacking US cities and killing US civilians as the US military attacked villages in Vietnam and killed Vietnamese civilians, I don't suppose for a minute that this would have led to a faster surrender, any more than it did in Vietnam.

The US military kills civilians in faraway countries, and American civilians expect not to be killed by the wars bred faraway.

But you have no power whatsoever to stop people in other countries who have seen their own people slaughtered by the US military reacting to this in similiar ways to which you would react if you saw your child blown apart by a landmine and heard the government which had ordered that mine dropped justifying your child's death in terms of keeping foreign soldiers safe as they invade your country.

You do, to a limited extent, have the power of the citizen in a democracy, even a beta one, to stop your government doing these outrageous things to other people. And that will, actually, keep you safer in the long run, if safety is what you care for first.

(Yes, yes - I have no willpower. But it's okay, I was invited back! =p)

While I stand by my characterization of the second point as "ridiculous", I could probably have taken the time to be more clear -- attacking the US population is not a "sensible" way of getting the US to remove troops from a given theater, esp. if said attackers have a base in said theater.

And I perhaps should have taken the time to add the caveat that I personally think it would be counterproductive, to say the least. However, even having said so, it is not hard to reach a conclusion that it'd be useful and effective, especially if the individual in question has been trying other methods in vain. Why? Well... consider the US forces stationed in the Kingdom. What got rid of them finally? Why, 9-11, of course! Yes, yes, you say post hoc ergo propter hoc, and I say post hoc ergo propter hoc (albeit with a twinge of uncertainty creeping into the edge of my voice), but our hypothetical frustrated Afghan patriot says "P -> Q; P, therefore Q".

AQ knew this full well when they carried out 9/11; as Eric noted, it was kind of the whole point. And if it wasn't common knowledge before, it certainly is now, especially, I would think, in Afghanistan.

Falling back to the prior point, citing AQ here seems troublesome. The chain of events following the 2001 attacks don't suggest that AQ would believe they failed to advance their aim. Recall their aim is not the destruction of the US; it's the removal of the US as a strategic actor in the Middle East. The US is the far enemy; the Gulf states are the near enemy. The far enemy must be prevented from stopping the overthrow of the near enemy, but it needn't be defeated for that to happen. It need only be demoralized and bleed out (financially or otherwise) to the point where it'll spend neither blood nor treasure to prop up or intervene on the behalf of AQ's real targets. Given that point of view, the attacks largely achieved their goal: the US withdrew its troops from the Kingdom (near enemy #1), massively reduced its regional popularity, and got bogged down in Afghanistan (as well as overthrowing a disliked secular regime, although its replacement can't be all that pleasing to OBL).

Now, from an Afghan point of view, this was bad, but the take-home message needn't be "attacks on civilians are ineffective". It's not hard at all to see the take-home message as being that they're quite effective, but shouldn't be carried out from your home country...

Sorry about the delay there:

"The killing of Afghan civilians is in fact a major part of the reason the US will lose the war in Afghanistan"

It's certainly not helping, I'll give you that. If the US is to have any hope of securing a decent outcome, the military will have to remain vigilant to both minimize civilian casualties and make sure that those who are tragically killed are handled humanely (apologies, etc.).

From where I sit, Sec. Gates deserves some credit for efforts in this direction, but these efforts always need to be further developed.

"Afghanistan had not attacked the US and was no threat to the US..."

The Taliban was giving sanctuary to AQ, refusing any sort of serious extradition; AQ had attacked and posed a direct threat to the US. In doing so, the Taliban, which was the government of Afghanistan* at the time, posed a threat to the US.

I understand you do not agree with me, so let's agree to disagree for now.

*more or less

the threat of violating international law with regard to political assassinations

For the US? Not really a threat. We can and do leverage our military and other power to allow ourselves to play by different rules than everyone else. I'm not OK with that.

Again, Hogan has more clearly and concisely summed in a line or two what my ponderous, verbose posts sought to convey.

"Yes, yes, you say post hoc ergo propter hoc, and I say post hoc ergo propter hoc... but our hypothetical frustrated Afghan patriot says "P -> Q; P, therefore Q"

Point taken; maybe I'm giving the people of Afghanistan too much credit, but I would think, at the very least, that if they had the capacity to carry out such an attack, this would be more apparent.

"Now, from an Afghan point of view, this was bad, but the take-home message needn't be "attacks on civilians are ineffective". It's not hard at all to see the take-home message as being that they're quite effective, but shouldn't be carried out from your home country..."

Well, from there it's just a matter of making sure no other countries want to be their base; that, as I've argued at least, is far from impossible.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record player:

An important thing to remember is where those who did attack us came from -- not from a refugee camp, or a smoldering ghetto, but from the wealthiest families of petro states.

And their beef wasn't that the US supported states which were oppressive; it's that the supported governments were "apostate", insufficiently "Islamic". OBL wasn't mad US troops stationed in Saudi Arabia were oppressing the Saudis; he was mad they weren't muslim.

This is what motivated the only major attack on the US by a non-state actor; speculating that victims of war in Afghanistan could or would seek to imitate it strikes me as unlikely.

he was mad they weren't muslim

That, in combination with our presence in SA.

Possibly our unbeliever status wouldn't have been quite so offensive if we'd stayed far away from the holy cities.

"We can and do leverage our military and other power to allow ourselves to play by different rules than everyone else. I'm not OK with that."

We may have to agree to disagree, here; since flouting international law tends to weakens it, and since this weakening, in the long term, threatens our security, we shouldn't be making such exceptionalism the rule.

But that doesn't mean that following such rules takes precedence over our security; actors in a social contract, whether they are individuals or states, are allowed to renege on it when the bond's purpose is defeated.

But like I said; we will probably have to agree to disagree.

"That, in combination with our presence in SA."

That's what I meant -- he was mad that non-muslim army was present (even if just that) in SA. Another way of putting it is that AQ's beef wasn't in American human rights violations, but in religious ones.

"Possibly our unbeliever status wouldn't have been quite so offensive if we'd stayed far away from the holy cities."

I may be mistaken, but I'm pretty sure we did; US forces stayed in the north.

Jes, I'm just going to try and avoid the mistake I made with NV and avoid your speculations regarding Vietnam alone altogether.

"But you have no power whatsoever to stop people in other countries... reacting..."

I can't tell them how the feel; I don't have to. But that doesn't mean those who try to take what they see as vengeance or justice shouldn't be stopped.

Anti-abortionist activists* think that doctors who perform the procedure are mass murderers. Let's say if I saw a somebody murder somebody time and time again, who the law, for some reason or other, would not bring to justice, that I would take the law into my own hands and kill him.

Does it follow that, if I see someone reach the conclusion that they're doing just that, that neither I nor my government have "power to stop" them?

Moreover, does it follow that only true safety can come when women are forbidden to have abortions? And what sort of "safety" is this?

*some of them, anyway

That's what I meant -- he was mad that non-muslim army was present (even if just that) in SA. Another way of putting it is that AQ's beef wasn't in American human rights violations, but in religious ones.

That doesn't really change the charge that it was our desire to project force from Saudi Arabia that earned AQ's pique. Having a sizable foreign military contingent friendly to a detested regime can easily (and not perforce wrongly) be construed as providing support for it.

A foreign ("apostate") Muslim army would likely have been offensive as well, albeit less so.

"Possibly our unbeliever status wouldn't have been quite so offensive if we'd stayed far away from the holy cities."

I may be mistaken, but I'm pretty sure we did; US forces stayed in the north.

Perhaps during the first Gulf War. The persisting bases were (are) more broadly distributed.

The biggest AF base, Prince Sultan Airbase was (technically is, though it's strictly RSAF now) at roughly the same latitude as Madinah, and about 3° north of Makkah, both of which are relatively centrally located. It was fairly far in the east of the country, though - roughly 800km away from either. The largest remaining (as in, "to this day") US base is pretty much right on top of Madinah, though. There's a joint AF training base right next to Makkah, as well.

Point: If the US is to have any hope of securing a decent outcome, the military will have to remain vigilant to both minimize civilian casualties and make sure that those who are tragically killed are handled humanely (apologies, etc.).

Which is not happening and has never happened. Hell, the US isn't even bothering to count how many Afghans are being killed, and what you are not bothering to count, you cannot try to minimize, let alone apologize for.

That's why the US is bound to lose the Afghan war - though I suppose it could happen that at some point a US government will just declare whatever the current situation is in Afghanistan constitutes "victory" and withdraw.

But that doesn't mean those who try to take what they see as vengeance or justice shouldn't be stopped.

Quite. And what are you doing about stopping your country from trying to take "vengeance or justice"? What did you do when the US attacked Afghanistan? Did you try to stop your country from starting an aggressive war out of revenge for 9/11? If not, how can you now sanctimoniously say that people of other countries should be "stopped"?

Incidentally:

Brian Peppers: Eric Martin, no offense, but I don't think you know much about the history of the Taliban. The Taliban was formed in 1987. The word means "students."

Eric Martin: Actually, 1994 was when the group became active, and most peg that as the date of their origin.

Actually, Dervla Murphy mentions the Taliban in Full Tilt: Ireland to India with a Bicycle, published 1965, from the part of her journey through Afghanistan in 1963. Negatively: she characterized them as a black-clad, joyless kind of Afghan, unfriendly and unwelcoming.

N.B. Ignore Point's attempt to start an abortion threadjack.

Actually, Dervla Murphy mentions the Taliban in Full Tilt: Ireland to India with a Bicycle, published 1965, from the part of her journey through Afghanistan in 1963. Negatively: she characterized them as a black-clad, joyless kind of Afghan, unfriendly and unwelcoming.

Jes: having no exposure to that work, does she mean Taliban, or THE Taliban? One assumes there have been joyless, unfriendly, unwelcoming Muslim religious students (who would by nature glom together) in most of the Muslim world for many centuries.

(Just as one could find joyless, unfriendly, unwelcoming students of most other religions elsewhere, natch.)

"N.B. Ignore Point's attempt to start an abortion threadjack"

I assure you that was not my intention -- I strongly considered, in fact, offering an advance apology for any offense it might cause; I decided against it, since I decided it was more likely to change the subject than to steer clear of it.

"The persisting bases were (are) more broadly distributed."

Thanks NV.

"Quite. And what are you doing about stopping your country from trying to take "vengeance or justice"? "

I'm just going to leave this alone, since there's likely nothing I can say that can convince you that the war in Afghanistan is fundamentally about national security, and not a war of pure vengeance.

NV: Jes: having no exposure to that work, does she mean Taliban, or THE Taliban? One assumes there have been joyless, unfriendly, unwelcoming Muslim religious students (who would by nature glom together) in most of the Muslim world for many centuries.

Murphy refers to them as "the Taliban" - as a known and identifiable group. She spoke no Pashto, so whoever named them to her as "the Taliban" spoke English. Full Tilt is a book written after her return, based on her journals. My point is that while we know roughly when Mullah Mohammed Omar decided it was necessary that the Taliban should become the government of Afghanistan (1987-1994 - I don't think it much matters) - it would be ridiculous to suppose that foreign invaders could somehow eradicate or defeat the Taliban.

Point: since there's likely nothing I can say that can convince you that the war in Afghanistan is fundamentally about national security, and not a war of pure vengeance.

Of course you couldn't convince me, Point: the facts are the facts, and that you have swallowed the lie that the US is killing Afghans for your "national security" is not something that you can then transmit to me. Your fear that Afghanistan is somehow some kind of threat to the US is doubtless something real to you, but it is in practical terms nonsense.

In plain and practical fact, the US attacked Afghanistan in October 2001 not out of any concern for "national security" - Afghanistan was no threat to the US, and never had been - but because it was easiest way to satisfy American bloodlust over 9/11. Vengeance, disguised as justice, lied about as "national security".

Murphy refers to them as "the Taliban" - as a known and identifiable group. She spoke no Pashto, so whoever named them to her as "the Taliban" spoke English. Full Tilt is a book written after her return, based on her journals.

This is interesting, because I believe that Gary has iirc pointed out that people who use the term Taliban in referring to the CIAs funding of Afghanistan insurgents as being mistaken. My readings are hopelessly unfocussed, so I'm not making any claims here, but a useful discussion might be had with trying to pin down the historical facts about the Taliban, especially given that we are discussing evidence of splits and schisms as evidence for courses of action.

"Of course you couldn't convince me, Point: the facts are the facts..."

Thanks for confirming that.

"In plain and practical fact, the US attacked Afghanistan in October 2001 not out of any concern for "national security" - Afghanistan was no threat to the US, and never had been - but because it was easiest way to satisfy American bloodlust over 9/11."

Well, while we're repeating ourselves:

"The Taliban was giving sanctuary to AQ, refusing any sort of serious extradition; AQ had attacked and posed a direct threat to the US. In doing so, the Taliban, which was the government of Afghanistan* at the time, posed a threat to the US.

I understand you do not agree with me, so let's agree to disagree for now.

*more or less"

"The Taliban was giving sanctuary to AQ, refusing any sort of serious extradition; AQ had attacked and posed a direct threat to the US. In doing so, the Taliban, which was the government of Afghanistan* at the time, posed a threat to the US.

Yeah, I figured that was your rationale for supporting killing Afghans. We are repeating ourselves, since I believe I 7pointed out to you back then that the Taliban made several attempts to negotiate a handover of Osama bin Laden in the weeks between 9/11 and the first bombing of Afghanistan, which the US government rejected, preferring to make war on a country that had not attacked the US rather than negotiate for the arrest of the leader of a terrorist group that had attacked the US.

But, rather than repeat that argument again: I recognize that your idea that the Afghans killed because the US attacked Afghanistan died to make you feel safer is real to you: you believe that your government had a right to kill Afghans for the purpose of making you safe.

Surely you can see that Afghans won't feel the same way about them and their families and friends and neighbors being killed to make Americans feel safe? It's their safety that Afghans are justly concerned about, not yours: and from the perspective of a resident of Kabul, I would guess the idea that a native of Chicago is made safer by children being killed by US bombs seven thousand miles away sounds frankly absurd.

(I don't know that you're in Chicago, of course: think of it as "random US city".)

"I recognize that your idea that the Afghans killed because the US attacked Afghanistan died to make you feel safer is real to you: you believe that your government had a right to kill Afghans for the purpose of making you safe."

It's probably ridiculous for me to point this out, but: Those that are in AQ or the Taliban, yes; no doubt most of the deaths are tragic, and more likely than not the result of negilgence*. If you've really convinced yourself that I support these civilian deaths, then there's nothing else for this conversation.

*criminal negligence, if you like

If you've really convinced yourself that I support these civilian deaths

Had you really convinced yourself, when the US attacked Afghanistan, that somehow no civilians would be killed?

no doubt most of the deaths are tragic, and more likely than not the result of negilgence

Criminal negligence? That's a very nice way to put it. Kind and forgiving of you to decide that when the US military kills Afghan civilians, that must be "negligence".

My point remains: you are willing to kindly forgive the US military for killing Afghans who presented no threat to you - whether soldiers or civilians - because of some idea that doing so "kept you safe". But can you seriously suppose that the relatives, friends, and neighbors of the Afghans killed thought it either logical or acceptable that Afghans should die to make Americans feel safer?

"Had you really convinced yourself, when the US attacked Afghanistan, that somehow no civilians would be killed?... "

No. That does not mean I "forgive" my nation's military for the times they're careless in a way that causes civilian deaths.

I don't know if there has been any war in history that you believed one side's engagement to be necessary or just, so I won't bother with examples.

The point is, if a war is just (jus ad bellum) because it is necessary, and, in fighting the war, civilian deaths are, in practice, inevitable, it does not follow that said civilian deaths are just (jus in bello). It does not mean that there is no onus on said side to avoid these deaths; but nor does it follow that the jus ad bellum no longer holds.

It is less just for a state to abdicate on the responsibility it has to its citizens, for fear of causing other injustices, than it is for a state to perform its central function, even if it does so treating those outside its social contract unjustly.

But I expect we disagree about that.

"But can you seriously suppose that the relatives, friends, and neighbors of the Afghans killed thought it either logical or acceptable that Afghans should die to make Americans feel safer?"

Again, in the spirit of repeating ourselves:

"I can't tell them how the feel; I don't have to."

That does not mean I "forgive" my nation's military for the times they're careless in a way that causes civilian deaths.

Yet you're forgiving enough to put civilian deaths caused by the US military down to negligence or carelessness "in most cases".

"I can't tell them how the feel; I don't have to."

You certainly don't have to tell them how you feel: your country is killing them; their country is not able even to threaten you. Under those circumstances, how they feel about your willingness to have them die to make you feel safer is not something you have to care about.

Until there's another 9/11, but how often does that happen?

For example: some few of the Afghans who died before February 2002 to make you feel safer.

They died not through US military "negligence or carelessness" but because the US decided to drop bombs on "soft targets" - "On December 7th, in Sakhsalmun, a village about four kilometers outside Herat, it was a family's visit to a relative's home. The kids didn't want to stay inside listening to grown-up talk and raced outside. Abdul Nasir, 14, and others scrambled up the hillside next to the hamlet. They came across the little yellow soda can with a parachute attached to it. One boy picked it up and it went off. His body was shredded. Abdul Nasir was comparatively lucky: his jaw was badly broken and one of his hands sliced between his two middle fingers." You knew - if you paid attention to the news - that your military was dropping cluster bombs on Afghanistan. That children - and adult civilians - were being shredded, about 10 a day, by the weapons your military used that are dropped on cities and on arable land and are designed to kill anyone who picks them up and kill or maim anyone nearby. Mostly, that will be civilians.

That made you feel safer, to know this was being done for your "national security"? Or do you tell yourself that "negligence or carelessness" causes the dropping of cluster bombs on cities or farmland and so it's not really a problem and nothing you have to think about?

Point: The point is, if a war is just (jus ad bellum) because it is necessary

Add to the fact of course: the war on Afghanistan was not necessary, it was a war begun in the spirit of vengeance disguised as justice.

A "just war" happens when a country is acting in self-defence. For the US to argue that it was only defending itself when it attacked Afghanistan was ugly and absurd.

One argument which could have been made in defense of the attack would have been, of course, if the US had been willing, from October 2001 onwards, to invest the massive amounts of money required to rebuild Afghanistan, and without trying the usual American scam of making sure US corporations get the bulk of US "foreign aid", as we saw in Iraq. It was calculated in early 2002 that Afghanistan needed five billion US dollars for reconstruction: the US could also - had Bush been a different kind of President - attempted to set a lead on human rights in the region.

I have to admit, that while the US's attack on Afghanistan could not be justified as a just war, the US could in principle have made it one on the basis of rescue, rather than self-defence.

But there was no interest then, and there is none now, in giving away the massive amount of aid needed, no strings attached - and there was no interest then, and there is none now, in the US being a leader on human rights in the region.

So the assertion that the US military killed and is killing Afghans for "national security" rests on the bizarre and unproved idea that if the US can just manage to kill enough hostile Afghans, eventually the country will accept a government of the US's choice which will be loyal to American interests.

Actually, I said "unproved", but in fact as a strategy it's long ago been shown not to work. Over and over again. Kill the locals, the survivors aren't your friends or your allies.

"A "just war" happens when a country is acting in self-defence. For the US to argue that it was only defending itself when it attacked Afghanistan was ugly and absurd."

As long as we have no common ground on this point this conversation is just going to keep going around in circles. I'm just going to step out now.

I'm just going to step out now.

Good plan. Until you can show that Afghanistan was a threat to the US, which you cannot, you are better not trying to argue it, but keeping it as a matter of your personal faith that Afghanistan is scary and so Afghans must die.

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