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  •  The Taliban were a much stronger (1+ / 0-)
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    central government, though evil, and the current guy stole an election wholesale and is apparently a drug kingpin with billions of stolen dollars in aid in Swiss bank accounts. How long do you think he'll last when the last US soldier leaves the country?

    Formerly Pan on Swing State Project

    by MichaelNY on Mon Dec 19, 2011 at 01:28:50 AM PST

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    •  six to eighteen months. (1+ / 0-)
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      Then he'll be drawn & quartered, and some other despot will take his place, or the Taliban will come back in.

      The fact that he is obviously a scumbag himself, is not surprising, and in any case gives us some leverage on him.  

      We missed our chance with Afghanistan by not including women in their security forces, which we could have done by fiat if we had not gone into Iraq.  

      If it was up to me, I would have gone in there full-force and did for them what we did for Germany and Japan after WW2: rebuild the culture from the ground up, starting with equality for women.

      Basically what you have there is a self-perpetuating culture of abuse, by way of the treatment of women and young boys.  That situation requires a complete reformat of the cultural hard drive and a new operating system.  It would probably take two generations to make it work.  And clearly that is not going to happen.  So the best thing we can hope for is something like containment.  

      Frankly sad, given the ongoing human consequences.  

      "Minus one vote for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

      by G2geek on Mon Dec 19, 2011 at 01:59:21 AM PST

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      •  I have to disagree with most of your feelings (3+ / 0-)
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        G2geek, mamamedusa, melo

        The lot of women is very bad in Afghanistan, but also in Pakistan, and the US can't change that by occupying those countries, keeping the troops there as sitting ducks, and killing a lot more civilians in air strikes, etc. The occupation was a mistake in the first place. If it was justified to attack Afghanistan at all (which I'm not sure of), it should have been just a counter-terror operation against Al Qaida, with the Taliban attacked only if they got in the way, Osama killed at Tora Bora, and then the US should have declared victory, withdrawn, and reserved the right to go back again in case of more anti-American terrorism or terrorist bases being reestablished there. The Soviet occupation of Afghanistan was the last straw that destroyed the USSR. We didn't learn that lesson, even though we helped give it to the Soviets - in the process, creating Al Qaida and other extremist terrorist groups through the ISI and Saudi Intelligence.

        Formerly Pan on Swing State Project

        by MichaelNY on Mon Dec 19, 2011 at 03:03:01 AM PST

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        •  yes, agreed on all points. and... (1+ / 0-)
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          The operation in Afghanistan should have been strictly limited to taking out Bin Laden, and then exiting, and reserving the right to go in again in the event of any further similar instances.

          That would have been a well-contained mission with clear definition of success, and we could have succeeded at it early in the game.  It would also have been limited in a manner that gave us no interest in or responsibility for making deeper changes in Afghanistan.  

          But this begs a question:  If Hitler hadn't attacked France, the Netherlands, and England, would we have done anything about the Holocaust if it had occurred only within Germany and Eastern Europe?  (And don't pull out Godwin; I was in on "that conversation" and the common myth was not the reality of it.)

          I believe there is a very real moral obligation when issues of core human rights are at stake on a large scale.  Afghanistan is one of those cases, since the abuse of women and children is so extreme and so thoroughly engrained in the culture.

          For example in these very pages it was reported that Americans on the ground in Afghanistan observed one tribe settle an issue with another thusly:  Someone from one tribe had shot a dog belonging to someone from another tribe.  The second tribe's grievance was settled by the first tribe giving the family in the second tribe three girls, ages 4, 6, and 8, to do with as they chose.  Think about the implications of that for a moment.  And that was reported as being a commonplace example.  And no doubt you have heard of the "dancing boys."  

          What we have there is a culture that treats females of all ages, and male children, with an unspeakable degree of brutality.  And the fact that it is not "organized" on an industrial scale as in Nazi Germany, and doesn't lead to mass graves, does not make it any less compelling.  The same case would go for a hypothetical slave state; and here we see an actual one in Dubai with its treatment of foreign workers lured in under false pretenses and held against their will.  Saudi is "better" only by quantity and not by quality, as a few days ago a woman was beheaded for "witchcraft": the only thing "better" about Saudi being that such events don't occur on a mass scale.    

          But the bottom line is, the entire region is a boiling kettle of human rights outrages on a scale that is difficult for Americans to comprehend.  So on one hand, if we had any capacity to improve the situation, by whatever means economic, diplomatic, or military, we should seek to do so.  We probably could have done in Iraq, but the famous Bush incompetence at all things military caused that situation to degenerate out of control to the point where today it is in fact much worse for women than it was under Saddam.  

          Realistically, there are situations that are beyond our ability to affect to a meaningful degree in a meaningful timeframe.  The Middle East is one of those.  So we stand back and watch the place implode, as the inevitable population/resource equations work their way out over the course of time.  And we wish that it was not so.  

          "Minus one vote for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

          by G2geek on Mon Dec 19, 2011 at 04:01:37 AM PST

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          •  Easy answer (3+ / 0-)
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            mamamedusa, G2geek, melo
            If Hitler hadn't attacked France, the Netherlands, and England, would we have done anything about the Holocaust if it had occurred only within Germany

            Quite obviously not. In fact, next to nothing was done about the Holocaust except for ultimately liberating the death and concentration camps as part of the Allied war effort. But all that really needed to be done was accept refugees, and that wasn't done!

            No, I don't know what "dancing boys" are, but nuclear-armed Pakistan is approximately as bad for women as Afghanistan, and the two countries are essentially artificially partitioned by a porous border. Even a superpower can't effectively colonize a country and force it to change its culture, if that were even ultimately a good thing to do (which I doubt). The fact is, imperialism and overspending on military hardware we don't need to defend our own country are bankrupting our treasury and destroying our own society. I am not an isolationist, but I do think it's vital for us to come to terms with the limits of our power. Military power is best used as little as necessary. You maintain deterrence when you don't fight and lose.

            Formerly Pan on Swing State Project

            by MichaelNY on Mon Dec 19, 2011 at 04:12:29 AM PST

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            •  yes, and.... (1+ / 0-)
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              "Dancing boys:"  Young boys chosen to become sex toys for Afghan men who have status in their tribes, including the leaders.  Apparently this is widespread to the point of nearly universal.  And here we are talking about boys aged 8 - 12.

              This is not "homosexuality" as we understand the term (BTW I'm gay), because these are not consenting adult relationships, and the boys are effectively sexually brutalized.  Apparently the tribals claim a loophole in the Islamic proscriptions against homosexuality by saying that "boys are not men," so that makes it "OK."  Another quote, "women are for making babies, boys are for fun."  

              So here you have a multi-generational pattern of child molestation, whereby the boys who are victimized grow up and victimize other boys in turn, from one generation to the next, meanwhile treating girls and women as tradable commodities in exchange for dead dogs.  

              It's enough to make you want to vomit.

              However as you say, military force is best used sparingly, and ideally used purely as a deterrent of attack.  As well, a limited Afghan mission ending with Bin Laden dead at Tora Bora followed by a US exit (and no Iraq war), would have left us looking absolutely invincible in the eyes of the world, and bolstered our deterrent capability.

              As it is, we took a serious hit in Iraq, and the worst part about that was the development of IED warfare.  I was involved in IED countermeasure design about a year before the subject hit the news, and I fairly quickly concluded that it would be an evolutionary race and a no-win situation.

              What ended up happening there, was the development of a method of warfare that can stop us in our tracks.  And that is one of the most detestable outcomes of the Iraq war, which is IMHO unforgivable.  If there is any good to come out of the development of IED warfare, it's that if any foreign force was somehow to successfully attack, invade, and occupy the US, we now know about a grassroots means of stopping them in their tracks as well.  But the probability of that ever happening is approximately zero.  So it goes.

              Also agreed about refugees from Nazi Germany.

              And agreed about nuclear-armed Pakistan.  About which I predict there will be a limited nuclear war between Pakistan and India, some time in the next 20 years, consisting of an exchange of two nuclear weapons in each direction, before the world steps in with immediate diplomatic pressure and calls a halt.  The aftermath will be broadcast on the world media starting immediately, and the result of that will be sufficient horror to prevent a recurrence for about another 80 years.  

              So far as Af/Pak is concerned, the bottom line is, despite the human rights atrocities, we simply don't have the resources to fix their cultures.  And we should not bankrupt ourselves by attempting to drag a bunch of barbarians into the modern age.  The most important problem we have to deal with right now is the climate crisis, and doing that will require an effort on a WW2 scale or larger.  That's more than enough to keep our hands full for the foreseeable future.

              "Minus one vote for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

              by G2geek on Mon Dec 19, 2011 at 05:04:39 AM PST

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              •  No nuclear war in the Subcontinent (0+ / 0-)

                I don't know why you're predicting a level of insanity from India and Pakistan that was not even approached by Stalin. There will be no nuclear war between those two countries, God forbid.

                And as horrific as the abuses you outline are in Afghanistan, there's a very ugly hubris about claiming a "white man's burden" (not your words, but part of the whole context) to "civilize" "barbaric" countries by occupying and colonizing them. That didn't work out so well in the 19th century. I disapprove of that not only because it's costly, but also because I don't believe it would really turn out as something better being imposed on them, but instead, a lot of people killed, just as is happening now.

                Formerly Pan on Swing State Project

                by MichaelNY on Mon Dec 19, 2011 at 02:19:24 PM PST

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