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A note to General David Petraeus and Obama: the offensive taking place to push the Taliban out of Helmand Province will fail unless there is a cash component to the economic strategy.  

Rewind.  The audacious, and in some ways brilliant, deployment in Afghanistan of 4000 Marines to "clear, hold, and build" has some merit.  No one likes the Taliban, and this will give the population some breathing room to escape their grip.  But no one is talking to the Americans because they are afraid we will soon leave, and the Taliban will return to settle up scores.  The danger is that the "hold and build" part of the operation will be a repeat of the practice of dropping schools and bridges all over where no one wants them or needs them, when what people really need is enough to eat, and a way to turn down the Taliban's $8 a day wage when they return after the troops are gone.  

Cash is easy to hide and hard to trace.  Anyone who accepts a school, bridge, or or other highly-visible American project is likely to have their village slaughtered before winter.

To my knowledge no kind of cash-for-work projects are planned, and its important because, if this offensive doesn't succeed, we are back to square one and looking at another 10 year quagmire from which we will never pull out.  There will be the real threat of a Taliban takeover, because of a vulnerable population with 40% unemployment and millions of young men who of necessity will take the Taliban's poppy money (they control the trade) to attack government and foreign targets.  Another trillion dollar war. There goes our healthcare.  There goes renewable energy jobs programs for us.  War is the killer of all progress, hopes, and dreams.

I'm going to say something revolutionary here, but carefully considered: of all the conflicts in the world, this may be the only one where if you dropped dollar bills over villages from helicopters (a dollar is often a day's wage for 12 hours of hard labor here), it would have a distinctly positive impact on security.  Those dollars would be squirreled away for food for the brutal upcoming winter, and put a brake on young men rushing to the Taliban just because they need the money.  

The Pentagon knows it.  Col. Tom Collins, the top Pentagon spokesman in Afghanistan, told PBS:

   "There is a low percentage of the total Taliban force who we would call ideologically driven. We refer to them as Tier 1 people who believe their ideology, that what they're doing is right. The vast majority of Taliban fighters are essentially economically disadvantaged young men."

And General Karl Eikenberry, former commander of US forces in Afghanistan, told Congress in 2007:

      "Much of the enemy force is drawn from the ranks of unemployed men looking for wages to support their families"

Why then is USAID, the "hold and build" part of the operation, announcing that

USAID plans to launch a new program in Afghanistan which will implement civilian-run stabilization projects in targeted areas, primarily during the clear and hold phases of counterinsurgency (COIN)...USAID...will manage an operational platform and an in-kind small grants mechanism aimed at promoting the objectives described above.

"in-kind small grants mechanism" means stuff, not money, that the Taliban can ferret out and punish you for.  It would be different if they were talking about paying Afghan crews cash to repair their own roads or dig their own ditches, but that's not how this reconstruction has worked, which is why we are in this fix.  They will bring in Bobcats and bulldozers leased from Halliburton to put it all in place, at a tidy profit, with Afghans standing back looking at their new road, as hungry as ever.  The UN reports that nearly 40% of all Afghans do not meet the minimum daily calorie requirement for prevention of malnutritition.  The upshot?  We're not going to shoot our way out of this.  And we're not going to Halliburton our way out of it either.

War is too important to be left to generals and politicians.  The people whose money it sucks up and whose children it kills have to take charge.  Do something patriotic this 4th of July weekend.  Tell them how to stop a war.  It's not their money they are playing with, it's yours.  Cut and past and forward this to the White House and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.  We will soon find out what kind of Commander-in-Chief Obama is.


The diarist is the co-founder of Jobs for Afghans.

Man begging in street in Kabul

Originally posted to Ralph Lopez on Fri Jul 03, 2009 at 12:45 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Under-Utilized Installed Solar Capacity (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Nightprowlkitty, buhdydharma

    I wrote a diary about the installed solar capacity in Afghanistan just the other day:

    Have tried for years to alert the US and NATO headquarters and our Congresscritters about this existing possibility with little or no success to date.  Sad to say, there is little support here for such practical ideas either.

    Solar is civil defense. Video of my small scale solar experiments at solarray.

    by gmoke on Fri Jul 03, 2009 at 12:51:01 PM PDT

    •  Interesting idea (0+ / 0-)

      Afghanistan has a large area that could be used for solar power. If we can master wireless transmission of electricity, then the Afghans could be an exporter of renewable energy.

      "We must fight their falsehood with our truth, but we must also fight falsehood in our truth." Niebuhr

      by Void Indigo on Fri Jul 03, 2009 at 01:13:01 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Nice to see the U.S. is finally on board with... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    clear, hold and build though.

    NATO has been saying this ever since US troops buggered off to Iraq in 2003.  There were not enough boots on the ground to hold the territory cleared and to provide security to build.

    Reason #607 as to why I love Obama.

    You are correct when you say the "build" portion should be done by Afghans getting paid a real wage.  Not only will it keep them out of the hills and stop them becoming bandits, it will give them a reason to defend what has been built.

    All evils are equal when they are extreme. - Pierre Corneille

    by LiberalCanuck on Fri Jul 03, 2009 at 12:55:36 PM PDT

  •  The offensive isn't about uplifting Afghans; (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    it's about maintaining hegemony and the military industrial complex.

    Once actions are viewed in their actual (and not idealized) contexts, they become perfectly logical.

    "All wars end with talking." - CKendall.

    by haruki on Fri Jul 03, 2009 at 01:09:31 PM PDT

    •  you got it (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      but it seems there are many who do not want to give up their illusions.... pity for the civilians on the ground.  They definitely loose.

      The occupation of Iraq will not be disrupted. - Chris Hedges 3/2/09

      by dancewater on Fri Jul 03, 2009 at 01:15:18 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  This is what I am afraid of, does Obama truly (0+ / 0-)

      want to win?  Or is he another creature of the military  industrial complex, in for profitable long-term wars?  I call this a turning point in his presidency.  He certainly has the smarts to win it now if he wants. The question is, will he?

    •  And your basis for that claim is...? (0+ / 0-)

      Let's try to keep the conspiracy theorizing to a minimum, shall we?

      •  reality (0+ / 0-)

        The occupation of Iraq will not be disrupted. - Chris Hedges 3/2/09

        by dancewater on Fri Jul 03, 2009 at 01:18:15 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Hahaha. (0+ / 0-)

          Seriously, evidence please?

          •  seriously, get in touch with reality (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            or watch the movie "Why We Fight" and remember that they left out the corporate media, but besides that, it is pretty good at explaining reality.

            The occupation of Iraq will not be disrupted. - Chris Hedges 3/2/09

            by dancewater on Fri Jul 03, 2009 at 01:21:00 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I wonder what that movie says about (0+ / 0-)

              a Marine commander instructing his Marines this way:

              "We're not going to measure your success by the number of times your ammunition is resupplied. . . . Our success in this environment will be very much predicated on restraint," he told a group of officers from the 2nd Battalion, 8th Marines on Sunday. "You're going to drink lots of tea. You're going to eat lots of goat. Get to know the people. That's the reason why we're here."

              You're interpreting reality through a set of ideological blinders.

              •  the US military said nice things (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                hoplite9, haruki

                like that in Iraq too - like we are there to bring the Iraqi people 'freedom and democracy' - and look how that turned out.

                Iraq has been destroyed by a war of aggression based on a pack of lies that were obtained by torture.

                It was the USA that did it.

                And now we are going to destroy Afghanistan too.

                The occupation of Iraq will not be disrupted. - Chris Hedges 3/2/09

                by dancewater on Fri Jul 03, 2009 at 02:14:39 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Afghanistan is not Iraq (0+ / 0-)

                  and Obama is not Bush.

                  •  Afghanistan is going to end up like Iraq (0+ / 0-)

                    that is - destroyed.

                    And Obama is instituting MANY of Bush's policies.... or worse.  Escalation in Afghanistan is worse.  Allowing the prior war crimes under Bush to go unpunished is worse.

                    The occupation of Iraq will not be disrupted. - Chris Hedges 3/2/09

                    by dancewater on Fri Jul 03, 2009 at 05:58:32 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  No it's not (0+ / 0-)

                      ...Yes it is. No it's not. Yes it is. See how stupid an argument that is?

                      If you actually backed up your assertions with argumentation or evidence, it might be worth continuing this discussion. But I'm really not interested in any more of your unsupported claims.

                      I'm not so sure the Bush-era war crimes will go unpunished. But I think it's wise to save the economy and pass health care first.

                      And Obama's policy in Afghanistan is radically different from Bush's. Which you would understand if you bothered to develop more than the most superficial understanding of the strategy and operations being implemented. (This is not a bad place to start, along with the other links I've posted.)

                      I'm going to be on the road tomorrow, so I'm signing off now.

                      •  you are the one making unsupported claims (0+ / 0-)

                        based on a declaration from the US military on 6/22/09.... and nothing else.

                        If Obama's policies in Afghanistan are radically different, why is the civilian death toll gone up --- WAY UP --- in 2009?  

                        "WHATEVER HAPPENED TO PEACE ON EARTH?" – Willie Nelson
                        And the bewildered herd is still believing
                        Everything we’ve been told from our birth
                        Hell they won’t lie to me
                        Not on my own damn TV
                        But how much is a liar’s word worth
                        And whatever happened to peace on earth

                        The occupation of Iraq will not be disrupted. - Chris Hedges 3/2/09

                        by dancewater on Fri Jul 03, 2009 at 08:43:18 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                      •  go here and (0+ / 0-)

                        take a look at these photos of Iraq.... and know full well that there are photos exactly like these coming out of Afghanistan.

                        The occupation of Iraq will not be disrupted. - Chris Hedges 3/2/09

                        by dancewater on Fri Jul 03, 2009 at 10:22:01 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

              •  I remember one British commander (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                before going into Iraq gave his men a pep talk on how they were there to help Iraqis and free them from the horrible Saddam.  

                A couple of years later, he went on a speaking tour to refute what he had said, because he clearly saw that the Brits/US went in there to destroy the place.

                Sorry, I cannot remember his name.  But the little speech he gave before he invaded Iraq was so very touching!  Truly memorable, actually!!

                And, as he later said, a pack of lies.

                By the way, WTF are we doing sending US troops around the world so that they 'get to know the people'?? What the hell kind of reason is that for being there?  Are they insane???  or just blinded by their ideological beliefs?  

                The occupation of Iraq will not be disrupted. - Chris Hedges 3/2/09

                by dancewater on Fri Jul 03, 2009 at 02:29:14 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Yes, but (0+ / 0-)

                  Again, the curent US operation in Afghanistan is not the Bush administration's invasion of Iraq. We're in Afghanistan for different reasons, doing different things, under a different President and commander in chief.

                  By the way, WTF are we doing sending US troops around the world so that they 'get to know the people'?? What the hell kind of reason is that for being there?  Are they insane???  or just blinded by their ideological beliefs?  

                  The reason for being there is to implement President Obama's new strategy for stabilizing Afghanistan and Pakistan, and preventing them from again becoming terrorist safe havens for attacks on the US.

                  The Afghanistan part of the strategy is based on protecting Afghan civilians from the Taliban so that they can govern themselves. Doing that requires that the Marines "get to know the people." It's neither insane, nor a product of any ideology I've ever heard of. It's pragmatic behavior, based on lessons learned from the failures of the Rumsfeld approach.

                  •  bombing them is STABILIZING them? (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:

                    I guess we can thank MacVeigh for stabilizing Oklahoma City.

                    By the way, the terrorists that attacked us on 9/11 trained in Florida.

                    The occupation of Iraq will not be disrupted. - Chris Hedges 3/2/09

                    by dancewater on Fri Jul 03, 2009 at 03:47:47 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Oy (0+ / 0-)


                      Protecting Afghan civilians is stabilizing them. That's the focus of the new strategy and Operation Khanjar.

                      •  then why are we killing so many of them? (0+ / 0-)

                        One of the worst incidents was in May when dozens of civilians, among them at least 65 women and children, were killed when US forces bombed a village in the Bala Bulok district of Farah Province, southwestern Afghanistan, the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) said on 26 May.

                        The above came from a UN report published this week.

                        The occupation of Iraq will not be disrupted. - Chris Hedges 3/2/09

                        by dancewater on Fri Jul 03, 2009 at 05:50:48 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Accidents (0+ / 0-)

                          The Taliban fight among civilians, and deliberately put them in harm's way. When US ground forces are pinned down and call in airstrikes on Taliban targets, civilians are sometimes inadvertently killed.

                          And as long as we're citing UN reports, the UN has consistently reported that the overwhelming majority of Afghan civilian deaths are caused by the Taliban.

                          The tragedy in May was a major reason for the changes to the rules governing US airstrikes I linked to, which are intended to prevent future tragedies like that.

                      •  and why are (0+ / 0-)

                        we doing this?

                        how is that improving things in Afghanistan?

                        The occupation of Iraq will not be disrupted. - Chris Hedges 3/2/09

                        by dancewater on Fri Jul 03, 2009 at 05:52:28 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  We aren't anymore. (0+ / 0-)

                          But the last administration promoted torture.

                          •  wrong - torture is still going on (0+ / 0-)

                            at least in Guantanamo it is..... to believe otherwise is to believe in a fantasy.

                            I would be willing to bet that the people transported to Bagram are still being tortured too.  One thing we know for sure - they are not getting due process and fair trials at all.  And since they were TAKEN to Bagram, they are not POWs.

                            Obama is not abiding by the Geneva Conventions.  Obama is not prosecuting those who have tortured, which means he is also in violation of the UN treaty against torture.

                            The occupation of Iraq will not be disrupted. - Chris Hedges 3/2/09

                            by dancewater on Fri Jul 03, 2009 at 08:53:42 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  by the way - the last administration (0+ / 0-)

                            clearly said "we do not torture".

                            Keep that in mind along with Obama's statement that "we will not torture" -- even while reports of torture and abuse keep coming out of Guantanamo.  Several Guantanamo prisoners have said that it has gotten worse since Obama was elected.

                            The occupation of Iraq will not be disrupted. - Chris Hedges 3/2/09

                            by dancewater on Fri Jul 03, 2009 at 08:55:18 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                      •  in your link (0+ / 0-)

                        they said they were 'tightening' air bombing policy just TEN DAYS AGO?

                        At this point, it is pure speculation as to whether that will make a difference or not.

                        Of course, we all know OUR MILITARY NEVER EVER TELLS A LIE.  Nope, that never happened.

                        The occupation of Iraq will not be disrupted. - Chris Hedges 3/2/09

                        by dancewater on Fri Jul 03, 2009 at 05:54:10 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  Yes, they should have done it much sooner (0+ / 0-)

                          But even despite the too lax use of airpower until now, the Afghan population still supports the US military presence (see my above post titled "Actually") -- because the alternative is much worse.

                          •  Oops (0+ / 0-)

                            The "Actually" post is below, not above.

                          •  not all of them do (0+ / 0-)

                            I've seen dozens of pictures of protests against the US in Afghanistan.  And what alternative is worse?  The whole country is getting worse and worse, so having the US military there is not helping things at all.

                            You do realize that you are making the SAME arguments that supporters of the Iraq occupation have made, don't you?  They also believed that Iraqis wanted the US troops there (and some did).... but the vast majority wanted the US to GO OUT (as they put it).

                            And, of course, this was the exact same arguments made about the occupation of Vietnam..... they wanted us there, if we left it would be "worse" and the communists (radical Islamists today) would take over the world.....

                            it is all horse shit.

                            The occupation of Iraq will not be disrupted. - Chris Hedges 3/2/09

                            by dancewater on Fri Jul 03, 2009 at 08:48:32 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  "much sooner" like in (0+ / 0-)

                            seven and 3/4 years ago?  before we killed off thousands of innocents?  

                            or don't you see the killing of innocent civilians as a major, major, major problem?

                            The occupation of Iraq will not be disrupted. - Chris Hedges 3/2/09

                            by dancewater on Fri Jul 03, 2009 at 08:49:41 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

  •  Obama's people appear to "get it." (0+ / 0-)

    Kudos for your work in Afghanistan. But I don't think you're giving enough credit where credit is due.

    You write that people are reluctant to cooperate with US forces because they're afraid we'll leave them to the Taliban.

    The 2 MEB Commander:

    The brigade's commander, Brig. Gen. Lawrence D. Nicholson, said his Marines will focus their efforts on protecting civilians from the Taliban and on restoring Afghan government services, instead of mounting a series of hunt-and-kill missions against the insurgents.

    "We're doing this very differently," Nicholson said to his senior officers a few hours before the mission began. "We're going to be with the people. We're not going to drive to work. We're going to walk to work."


    "A key to establishing security is getting the local population to understand that we're going to be staying here to help them -- that we're not driving in and driving out," said Col. Eric Mellenger, the brigade's operations officer.

    You also write that jobs and economic improvement are the key.

    WaPo's Rajiv Chandrasekaran:

    Once basic governance structures are restored, civilian reconstruction personnel plan to focus on  economic development programs, including programs to help Afghans grow legal crops in the area. Senior Obama administration officials say creating jobs and improving the livelihoods of rural Afghans is the key to defeating the Taliban, which has been able to recruit fighters for as little as $5 a day in Helmand.

    (The USAID quote above explicitly refers to the "clear and hold," not "build" phases. The clear implication is that other projects will be implemented in the build phase.)

    A more urgent concern is the lack of immediate backup from State and USAID.

    Despite commitments from the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development that they would send additional personnel to help the new forces in southern Afghanistan with reconstruction and governance development, State has added only two officers in Helmand since the Marines arrived. State has promised to have a dozen more diplomats and reconstruction experts working with the Marines, but only by the end of the summer.

    Meanwhile, the Marines are having to fill in. Adequately resourcing the State Department's Office of the Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization (S/CRS) could help with this.

  •  American's not well loved in this country... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dancewater, Ralph Lopez, haruki

    or in Pakistan.

    I can't understand why?  Could it be they resent those bombs that land in the midst of wedding parties, and other social events.

    I mean it is possible that there were some Taliban who were there.   Are we expected to check out each event to be sure.

    I mean come on you guys, we aren't on site, and we don't even have real people who fly the planes that drop the bombs.  We use something called drones, but that's a little too advanced for you folks.

    Instead of being angry at us, you should appreciate our introducing you to 21st century technology.

    So there!

    •  yeah, we aren't going to get (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      arodb, haruki

      any appreciation from Afghanis, Pakistanis, or Iraqis.

      But I am certain if someone did all this to ordinary Americans, they would be appreciative as hell.

      The occupation of Iraq will not be disrupted. - Chris Hedges 3/2/09

      by dancewater on Fri Jul 03, 2009 at 01:19:50 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Actually (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      The most recent polling I've seen of Afghans show clear majority support among Afghans for the presence of US and NATO forces. (see questions 17 and 18 in these poll results [PDF]).

      Also see page 8 of this survey by aid organizations.

      They want steps taken to reduce civilian casualties, and we're finally doing that.

      •  Correction (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Should have said p. 12 of the aid organization survey:

        During the survey, the international military forces (IMF) garnered a generally positive response with 86% of respondents claiming they have improved security in Afghanistan. Similarly, in focus groups and qualitative interviews alike, there was almost universal support for the international military forces' presence in Afghanistan.resources to the training of Afghan forces.


  •  Hatred is hatred, it's stronger than anything (0+ / 0-)

    Once one has mistreated people, and threatened them bad, it's all over. The only way out is to negotiate humbly, and accept to serve them. Or then crush them all, Mongol style. In between will not work.

    Patrice Ayme Tyranosopher

    by patriceayme on Fri Jul 03, 2009 at 01:21:07 PM PDT

  •  Channel 4 TV did a report on the surge (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    in Afghanistan here.

    By September 2009, Obama will have more troops in combat roles than Bush ever did.

    The occupation of Iraq will not be disrupted. - Chris Hedges 3/2/09

    by dancewater on Fri Jul 03, 2009 at 02:32:13 PM PDT

    •  The more things change... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      ...the more they most remain the same.

      At least until we run out of the resources necessary to keep the machine running.

      "All wars end with talking." - CKendall.

      by haruki on Fri Jul 03, 2009 at 02:40:18 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'm hoping that when we go totally broke (0+ / 0-)

        we stop with all these wars, occupations, kidnappings, torture, murder, rapes, illegal detentions, drone bombings of other countries, and the 737 US bases in other countries.

        But I am afraid that the MIC will let Americans starve in mass numbers before any of the above are stopped.

        The occupation of Iraq will not be disrupted. - Chris Hedges 3/2/09

        by dancewater on Fri Jul 03, 2009 at 03:44:44 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Yes, and (0+ / 0-)

      he'll finally be sending them to the right place (the country we were actually attacked from) and for the right reasons.

      •  actually, the 19 men with box cutters (0+ / 0-)

        were mainly from Saudi Arabia and they trained in Florida.

        Some of the people in the organization (they were affiliated with) WERE in Afghanistan, are currently in Pakistan, and next week might go somewhere else.

        But I am sure you agree that we should have bombed Murphy NC to catch Eric Rudolph and his helpers faster!  After all, we had the RIGHT reasons!!

        The occupation of Iraq will not be disrupted. - Chris Hedges 3/2/09

        by dancewater on Fri Jul 03, 2009 at 03:40:12 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I am so tired of this BS (0+ / 0-)

          9/11 was planned and carried out from Afghanistan. What made it possible to bring together jihadis from Saudi Arabia and elsewhere, select them, train them, send them off to Hamburg and Florida and elsewhere, and have them come together in a well organized, precise operation was the safe haven and training camps in Afghanistan. 9/11 was impossible without Afghanistan. On 9/12, there were still active terrorist training camps in Afghanistan preparing further attacks on the US and its allies, and the regime governing Afghanistan was still providing them with sanctuary and base of operations. That's unambiguously an act of war, and the leadership of our country had an obligation to remove that threat.

          The government of North Carolina and its state police were not providing sanctuary and support to Eric Rudolph. (If they had been, sending the National Guard would have been warranted.)

          Please don't waste my time or embarrass yourself further with any more of this silliness.

          •  what is really silly (0+ / 0-)

            is the idea that terrorists cannot move to another location (after they have done that repeatedly) and even sillier is the idea that bombing other countries and destroying them will stop some rogue terrorists.

            The occupation of Iraq will not be disrupted. - Chris Hedges 3/2/09

            by dancewater on Fri Jul 03, 2009 at 05:56:33 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Who ever said any of those things? (0+ / 0-)

              Stop arguing with imaginary strawmen, please.

              I never said terrorists couldn't move to "another location." The point is that we need to prevent them from moving to a location where they would have a safe haven from which they could prepare 9/11-scale attacks. Such attacks are much harder to prepare without a safe haven like pre-9/11 Afghanistan, if they can be prepared at all without one. And there are very few locations in the world that could provide such a safe haven. Al Qaeda had been in Sudan before Afghanistan, but the Clinton administration got them kicked out. The other candidates are Pakistan, Somalia, and maybe Yemen.

              The drone strikes and Pakistani military operations in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas in Pakistan have denied Al Qaeda a functional safe haven there, and make it very difficult for AQ's core personnel to organize a wholesale move to another location without exposing themselves to capture or assassination.

              As for "bombing other countries and destroying them," I'm not sure if you're referring to Iraq, Afghanistan, or both. You seem bizarrely unable or unwilling to distinguish the two, though they have little in common. The invasion of Iraq was beyond stupid, and you are correct that the idea that it would stop terrorism was silly. But then terrorists didn't attack us from Iraq. They did from Afghanistan. We are certainly not "destroying" Afghanistan, especially considering the 30 years of warfare there before 9/11.

              And the idea that bombing Al Qaeda and Pakistani Taliban camps in Pakistan, and Taliban fighters in Afghanistan will interfere with their ability to commit further terrorism is, well...obvious.

      •  and most of those troops in combat roles (0+ / 0-)

        will still be in Iraq.

        Afghanistan will have 70K.

        Iraq will have about 110K.

        So, they won't be in the "right place" and they certainly are not there for the "right reasons".... they are there (apparently, see above) to get to know the people in Afghanistan..... for future pen pals or something.

        The occupation of Iraq will not be disrupted. - Chris Hedges 3/2/09

        by dancewater on Fri Jul 03, 2009 at 03:42:09 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  What are you calling combat roles? (0+ / 0-)

          Your figures are wrong.

          As best I can determine, fewer than 60,000 or so of the US troops in Iraq are combat brigades. And all of the troops in combat roles will be withdrawn by August 2010.

          I'd say preventing terrorist attacks on the US from Afghanistan and Pakistan is the right reason. See above for my rebuttal of your pen pal nonsense.

  •  here's a clue: (0+ / 0-)

    the US military will have been in Afghanistan for 8 years come this fall, along with several other countries.

    second clue:  

    It's getting worse, not better.

    The occupation of Iraq will not be disrupted. - Chris Hedges 3/2/09

    by dancewater on Fri Jul 03, 2009 at 08:57:41 PM PDT

  •  Dutch forces set a rare example for the Americans (0+ / 0-)

    While the first years of dutch presence in Afghanistan where about patrolling the area's, the dutch hardly came around to the initial mission they where send on; Increasing security and building roads, schools,etc. Things have changed now, and the dutch forces have found a way to appeal to the local afghan population.

    A bright spot - Dutch forces setting an example

    Uruzgan is a bright spot in an otherwise depressing region for America and its allies.

    Almost everywhere else in southern Afghanistan insurgent attacks have risen rapidly.

    'Unique approach'

    In Uruzgan attacks are falling, and areas under Taliban control are shrinking.

    The Dutch say this progress is, in part, down to their unique approach.

    In everything they do the Dutch stress restraint, not warfare, trying to understand and befriend local people and make fighting the last resort

    The Dutch place less emphasis on finding and killing Taliban, more on winning over local Afghans to leave the insurgents isolated and irrelevant.

    They call it a "population-centric" approach, and say it's the best way to defeat an insurgency.
    While we were in Uruzgan the first treatment centre for drug addicts in the province opened up, as did a training school for street children.

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