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June 14, 2010

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Speaking of which, according to the just released Global Peace Index report, Iraq is the most violent, least peaceful country in the world - edging out both Somalia and Afghanistan.

Success!

I wonder what will last longer, NATO/US troops in Afghanistan, or Pakistanis living in Pakistan. I guess the US troops in Germany, Japan, Italy are all ongoing experiments with no firm conclusion yet.

I hope the recent discovery of a trillion dollars of resources in Afghanistan will help it (re?)claim that coveted top spot.

While this discovery might be good or great for the economic prospects of Agfhanistan, I think it also means that we will never leave.

I'm not sure it's a recent "discovery" as the information was reported in 2007, and was largely known by the Soviets when they were in charge back in the day.

I think the recent "revelation" is strategically timed to prop up sagging public support.

I think the recent "revelation" is strategically timed to prop up sagging public support.

Ding ding ding! See Ambinder.

I certainly concluded the same thing about the timing, Eric, but I didn't know this was such old news. Have we started handing out no-bid mining contracts on these things yet, though?

Not yet. Those will be the decisions of the "free" and "liberated" Afghan people.

See, ie, Iraq.

democracy, whiskey, lithum hydride!

The report itself is here:
http://www.crisisstates.com/Publications/dp/dp18.htm

(you might want to link to it in the post, EM)

done. thanks ajay

The paragraph that struck me the most from the NYT minerals story (which I agree is a fairly pathetic press release posing as news) was this:

"At the same time, American officials fear resource-hungry China will try to dominate the development of Afghanistan’s mineral wealth, which could upset the United States, given its heavy investment in the region. After winning the bid for its Aynak copper mine in Logar Province, China clearly wants more, American officials said."

The United States has made a "heavy investment" in the region which can be used to justify claims of rights to develop mineral resources? That's funny, because I thought NATO was in Afghanistan to punish the Taliban for harboring bin Laden and to help the Afghan people resist them. But now it turns out we're "investing" in rights to exploit mineral resources for US companies. Who could have predicted this strange turn of events!

And yes, who could have predicted that Pakistan would continue to side with the Taliban just because they are longstanding best buddies with the Taliban and are cognizant of the fact that they - unlike us - will be living next door to Afghanistan until the end of time.

With all the lithium the Taliban are of course just one tiny wee little step away from acquiring thermonuclear weapons and would hand them to Osama* before the paint is dry who in turn would blow up Colorado Springs on Good Friday next year. That's not an option.

*and Iran of course. What do you mean, they hate each other? They are all stinking Moose-slims and therefore all in cahoots.

Hartmut, I believe the term is "jihadists."

Just paving the way for Sister Sarah to make a moose/muslim joke about knowing from experience that both are shot best from helicopters.

Not to forget Ben Ito Muslimi.

Let's see
- the US departs Afghanistan
- the Chinese, after raw materials, move in
- the Taliban, et al., start fighting the Chinese (godless communists must be at least as bad as the US, after all)
- the Chinese, being less inhibited that we are, hit back. Hard.
- the Pakistani ISI helps the Taliban
- the Chinese, figuring that resources are more important than history, take exception

And we end up with a rapprochement between China and India. This is a bad thing???

The CNAS report that appeared so alluring to the Obama team when it was crafting its Afghan policy made no secret of the costs, timetable and scope associated with the operation, as well as the dubious odds for success. In addition, that report contained one enormous caveat: unless the US could compel Pakistan's cooperation in, not only ceasing active support for the Afghan Taliban, but in eradicating that group's safehavens in Pakistan as well, the mission would fail.

Given that it was fairly obvious that Pakistan would be unlikely to withhold all aid to the Afghan Taliban, let alone wipe out their sanctuaries in Pakistan, the CNAS plan seemed like a non-starter, destined to fail by its own criteria. And yet it is unclear whether the Obama team came to the same conclusion.

The Obama team was in great need of a plan that would simply kill time with endless U.S. deployments while appearing on the surface to be a "plan". So as not to upset the Pentagon powers-that-be (and the big big slice of the U.S. electorate sensitive to any sign of "weakness") with any actual change.

CNAS met that need from early on.

No other advice needed, wanted, or sought out even for appearance's sake. This crowd, like so many others in their position, thinks they know everything worth knowing.

So as not to upset the Pentagon powers-that-be

What is it that the Pentagon powers-that-be wanted with an extended occupation of Afghanistan? What do/did they get out of it? Serious questions.

(godless communists must be at least as bad as the US, after all)

Yeah, see the USSR's occupation and the birth of the Taliban (at least, when its core got fighting experience).

What is it that the Pentagon powers-that-be wanted with an extended occupation of Afghanistan? What do/did they get out of it? Serious questions.

More money, justified budgets, more lucre for arms makers who are future employers, a testing ground to hone skills, a way to feel relevant.

Bottom line: the Pentagon as an institution likes to be engaged in something, somewhere. The more the merrier, as long as it doesn't break the back of the military.

Ugh: What is it that the Pentagon powers-that-be ... get out of it?

Ask any 8 year old boy in the middle of playing with his toy soldiers if he wants to pack them away so he can come to the table and eat his vegetables.

Then there's the ongoing ability to channel money to particular contractors in exchange for hiring you after you quit your government job.

But I think it's mostly about the toy soldiers.

Eric: Bottom line: the Pentagon as an institution likes to be engaged in something, somewhere. The more the merrier, as long as it doesn't break the back of the military.

Well, what would do the latter, where they got to the point that they couldn't get people to join the military anymore? And they didn't seem to be engaged in much (hot war, at least) post-Vietnam and pre-Iraq War I. I guess the USSR gave the excuse to keep upping the budget, and pre-9/11 they were itching for China as a replacement (and to which they are now returning, it seems).

It's all very depressing, but it just seems that specifically pressing to keep up the Afghanistan, uh, thing, with the Obama administration was not necessarily critical to keep the money flowing, what with Iraq going on, Iran, AL QAEDA (BOO!), etc.

And I would note that all your stated reasons seem to consider the cost in soldiers lives secondary in the eyes of the brass (not yours, of course).

Generals and majors always seem so unhappy unless they got a war.

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