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Open Thread for Night Owls
Tom Engelhardt and Nick Turse write:
Is it all over but the (anti-American) shouting—and the killing? Are the exits finally coming into view?

Sometimes, in a moment, the fog lifts, the clouds shift, and you can finally see the landscape ahead with startling clarity. In Afghanistan, Washington may be reaching that moment in a state of panic, horror, and confusion. Even as an anxious U.S. commander withdrew American and NATO advisors from Afghan ministries around Kabul last weekend—approximately 300, military spokesman James Williams tells TomDispatch—the ability of American soldiers to remain on giant fortified bases eating pizza and fried chicken into the distant future is not in doubt.

82nd Airborne in Ghazni, Afghanistan
(Petty Officer First Class David M. Votroubek/
U.S. Navy Photo)
No set of Taliban guerrillas, suicide bombers, or armed Afghan “allies” turning their guns on their American “brothers” can alter that—not as long as Washington is ready to bring the necessary supplies into semi-blockaded Afghanistan at staggering cost. But sometimes that’s the least of the matter, not the essence of it. So if you’re in a mood to mark your calendars, late February 2012 may be the moment when the end game for America’s second Afghan War, launched in October 2001, was initially glimpsed.

Amid the reportage about the recent explosion of Afghan anger over the torching of Korans in a burn pit at Bagram Air Base, there was a tiny news item that caught the spirit of the moment. As anti-American protests (and the deaths of protestors) mounted across Afghanistan, the German military made a sudden decision to immediately abandon a 50-man outpost in the north of the country.

True, they had planned to leave it a few weeks later, but consider the move a tiny sign of the increasing itchiness of Washington’s NATO allies. The French have shown a similar inclination to leave town since, earlier this year, four of their troops were blown away (and 16 wounded) by an Afghan army soldier, as three others had been shot down several weeks before by another Afghan in uniform. Both the French and the Germans have also withdrawn their civilian advisors from Afghan government institutions in the wake of the latest unrest.

Now, it's clear enough: the Europeans are ready to go.  And that shouldn’t be surprising. [...]


Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2006:

Her name is Pauline Hickey, and she has joined the ill-fated group of parents who have had thrust upon them the unnatural and heartwrenching act of burying their own children. Sergeant Hickey was not supposed to be outlived by his mother, it's just not natural you see, for parents to outlive their children, it's just not fair. But when he was killed in Iraq four months ago, Pauline Hickey found herself watching in disbelief as her son's body was lowered into the ground.

It's a scene that has played out 2,296 times in the United States, but it's also played out 103 times in Great Britain. The pond that separates our two nations seems more like a reflecting pond in the context of the Iraq War. Both Tony Blair and George Bush misled their nations into the war. Both plotted to push a flawed WMD story, and both have come under fire for their post-invasion actions. Neither Bush nor Blair has attended a single funeral for a slain soldier. And now, both are feeling the stinging rage radiating from families who have suffered the ultimate sacrifice.


Tweet of the Day:

Arpaio's birther investigation shows that it's a great idea to have cops in AZ demanding proof of citizenship from Latino residents.
@AdamSerwer via web


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