Author Topic: Afghanistan  (Read 27986 times)

Grant

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Re: Afghanistan
« Reply #150 on: August 24, 2021, 03:11:48 PM »
There's no way Trump would have walked away from yet another blown deal. He'd have continued his "see no evil" approach even after Kabul fell.

We'll never know.  The Great 5th Grade Communicator is not President.  Biden is. 

Granted that it was Cheetoh Jeezus's plan.  Also granted is that L'Orange hated to look bad and was very keen on his public image and "being screwed".  He said a bunch of stupid stuff that eventually got reversed one way or another.  Biden on the other hand, and a certain set, are determined to be that dog on the internet in the middle of a house fire saying "this is fine", and "this was inevitable", and "this was the best outcome".   

https://static01.nyt.com/images/2016/08/05/us/05onfire1_xp/05onfire1_xp-facebookJumbo.jpg?year=2016&h=549&w=1050&s=9811adcfaca81cbaf3ad373b370a6471b7423d6af91c454df85770e7046c8a17&k=ZQJBKqZ0VN




NobleHunter

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Re: Afghanistan
« Reply #151 on: August 24, 2021, 03:15:04 PM »
The truth of American military involvements is that they do not fail due to lack of pecker tensile strength.  They fail due to a lack of testicular mass and fortitude. 

Oh, and American domestic politics.

Right, so the US could have prevailed in Afghanistan if they'd just stuck it out for another twenty years? Nonsense. The US failed not because of a lack of resolve or courage but of a lack of competence. The US, and NATO, are simply bad at nation building or reforming societies. The total mass of all the balls in the world is worse than useless if you don't know what you're doing with them.

Domestic politics come into play only as much as it caused the shift of attention from Afghanistan to Iraq. Though staying focused on Afghanistan may have just made them waste money in Afghanistan rather than Iraq.

Crunch

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Re: Afghanistan
« Reply #152 on: August 24, 2021, 03:25:47 PM »
Brett Baier reporting that our military is now only taking American citizens at the Kabul airport. Afghans with SIVs or other valid documentation are on their own. He adds that our military is expected to be out in 72 hours. At that point, even US citizens are on their own.

I cannot believe that is accurate. I cannot believe Biden will literally abandon US citizens and leave them to the clutches of those 3rd-century barbarians. This is a disaster.

Grant

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Re: Afghanistan
« Reply #153 on: August 24, 2021, 03:35:56 PM »

Right, so the US could have prevailed in Afghanistan if they'd just stuck it out for another twenty years? Nonsense. The US failed not because of a lack of resolve or courage but of a lack of competence. The US, and NATO, are simply bad at nation building or reforming societies. The total mass of all the balls in the world is worse than useless if you don't know what you're doing with them.

I'd like to count competence as simply a form of testicular fortitude.  And I must ask is whether the US and NATO are doomed to be bad at nation building or if it is simply a mistake that can be learned from and corrected.  The US and Western Europe are in fact responsible for quite a deal of successful nation building.  Germany post WWII.  Japan post WWII.  Bosnia, Herzegovina, Kosovo. Iraq seems to be hanging on.  The Philippines.  Cuba.  The Dominican Republic.  Panama.  Grenada.

Granted some of these are bigger successes than others.  Hard to call Cuba a success. 

This leads me to question why some nation building was successful and some were not.  I'm welcome to hear all the wacky cultural reasons why Afghans cannot ever be a democracy.  But if nation building is possible, then it is simply a matter of NATO and the United States doing it correctly, instead of it being a matter of impossibility. 

It's hard to nation build when you're constantly fighting an insurgency.  So the next question is whether or not we could have eliminated to Taliban, and if so, why didn't we? 

My personal opinion is that this came down to American domestic politics, the belief that victory was never possible, and a clear lack of patience, vision, leadership, and yes, courage and perseverance to make hard choices and see the project through for yes, 50 to 100 years.  And I honestly don't think it would take that long to eliminate the Taliban, any more than I think that the VC and NVA were some sort of invincible force that the United States just could not defeat. 

NobleHunter

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Re: Afghanistan
« Reply #154 on: August 24, 2021, 03:50:59 PM »
I've heard that the problem with the Taliban was that they could always go hide in Pakistan. Hard to beat an insurgency if they can always go were you can't hunt them down.

German and Japan rebuilt themselves, I suspect the same is true (more or less) of the Balkans. I'm not sure about The Philippines or central america. I suspect success comes down mostly to pre-existing social structures and intent of the nation builders. It was certainly helpful that the West wanted Germany and Japan to be useful allies against communism.

No amount of vision and patience can compensate for ignorance and incompetence. Being willing to make the hard choices means nothing if you make the wrong choices.

Grant

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Re: Afghanistan
« Reply #155 on: August 24, 2021, 04:05:54 PM »
I've heard that the problem with the Taliban was that they could always go hide in Pakistan. Hard to beat an insurgency if they can always go were you can't hunt them down.

This is correct.  Same as NVA and VC slipping into Cambodia.  The hard choice answer is to go into Pakistan/Cambodia/North Vietnam to hunt them down. 

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German and Japan rebuilt themselves

With American money while under allied or American occupation.  It's not just physical rebuilding.  Their societies and cultures were changed.  The Japanese are better at baseball now than we are.  Their governments were molded.  Give credit where credit is due. 

Quote
No amount of vision and patience can compensate for ignorance and incompetence. Being willing to make the hard choices means nothing if you make the wrong choices.

I have to ask again what these mistakes were and what were their sources.  Are we doomed to make these mistakes, or can we learn from these mistakes and adjust fire?  Is ignorance and incompetence something that the United States is cursed with or cannot shake?  If you make one wrong choice is failure inevitable or can you correct it?  Are we talking about one hand of poker or the world series of poker?  Did we bet EVERYTHING on one hand and then lose? 


NobleHunter

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Re: Afghanistan
« Reply #156 on: August 24, 2021, 04:20:25 PM »
American occupation and money means sfa without engagement on the ground. I think its notable that both Japan and Germany had pre-existing traditions of societal transformation. It could be argued they were primed to do it someone else's way. They also didn't have local armed resistance.

There should be link in this thread to a report on Afghanistan which comprehensively details the assorted failures of the mission. It seems the heart of them was assuming that American occupation and money would be sufficient. That the mistakes were evident from nearly the beginning and still not learned from suggests it's very difficult to implement lessons learned. Not to mention nation building in one region won't be the same as another region. New mistakes are always possible.

rightleft22

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Re: Afghanistan
« Reply #157 on: August 24, 2021, 05:19:04 PM »
American occupation and money means sfa without engagement on the ground. I think its notable that both Japan and Germany had pre-existing traditions of societal transformation. It could be argued they were primed to do it someone else's way. They also didn't have local armed resistance.

There should be link in this thread to a report on Afghanistan which comprehensively details the assorted failures of the mission. It seems the heart of them was assuming that American occupation and money would be sufficient. That the mistakes were evident from nearly the beginning and still not learned from suggests it's very difficult to implement lessons learned. Not to mention nation building in one region won't be the same as another region. New mistakes are always possible.

I think this might be the link which I'm move forward
For those truly interested, here is a report from SIGAR, Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction.  SIGAR has been in existence for 13 years, and interviewed over 700 people in the country.

The executive summary per Electoral Vote.com (which is not the same as the reports own executive summary):

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SIGAR was created by Congress to investigate the entire Afghanistan mission. In 2014 it began working on its "lessons learned" program. Here are the main points in the report:

Strategy: The U.S. continuously struggled to define why it was in Afghanistan. Was it because everyone was furious after 9/11 and somebody had to pay? Was it to destroy al-Qaeda? Was it to rebuild Afghanistan like the Marshall Plan rebuilt Germany after World War II? It was also not clear who was in charge of the mission. The Dept. of Defense is great for fighting wars and the State Dept. is great for diplomacy, but no one was really in charge of the overall effort to achieve any mission, assuming someone had specified the mission in the first place.

Timeline: Everyone in the project greatly underestimated how hard it would be and how long it would take. The budget was far too small. It was more like 20 1-year projects instead of one 20-year project. There was far too much emphasis on short-term gains that could be shown to the president and Congress, as in: "Look, they had an election! Mission almost accomplished!"

Sustainability: The U.S. has often done humanitarian aid after natural disasters. They are meant to tide people over with food and tents for a short time. Building a nation where none ever existed before is a whole different ball of wax. Agencies were not prepared for that and were judged by how well they had completed some specific short-term task, not on whether it would be sustainable once the U.S. left. Also, there was a trade-off between letting the Afghans run the programs and having Americans run the programs. Letting the Afghans run them would have embedded them in the country much better, but the Afghan officials were all corrupt. Having the Americans run them gave much better short-term results, but had the danger they would collapse the minute the U.S. pulled out.

Personnel: The Americans who ran the programs in Afghanistan were often the wrong people, with no background in Afghan language, history, or culture. Most were incompetent for the task they were expected to do. DoD police advisors watched American crime shows on TV to learn about policing. No actual American police were there. Civil affairs personnel had PowerPoint presentations for the Afghans. Staff was rotated out before they could learn on the job what was needed. Nobody was watching the spending.

Insecurity: While the reconstruction was going on, the Taliban were not just sitting around waiting for the Americans to leave. They were using violence everywhere to block the U.S. For example, they intimidated voters in ways even Texas Republicans wouldn't dare try. They convinced many people in rural areas that if they cooperated with the government, they would simply be killed, no questions asked. Without security, building a country was basically impossible. In Germany in 1946, there were no heavily armed roving bands of Nazis threatening to kill anyone who cooperated with American officials trying to reboot the country. That made it a piece of cake compared to Afghanistan.

Context: None of the Americans there understood Afghanistan's social, economic, and political dynamics, and if they had, they would probably have rejected them as being obsolete and in need of being updated. There was almost no information about the condition of the country available to U.S. officials. To give one example, the DoD tried training the Afghan security forces in the use of weapons they couldn't even understand, let alone maintain. To give another, there was a big emphasis on writing a constitution and laws in a country that never really had laws and which settled almost all disputes privately and locally. And one more: The Americans never understood the social and cultural barriers to women being treated as equal citizens so the approaches taken (e.g., we'll just pass a law banning X) never worked.

Monitoring and evaluation: There was no serious, accurate monitoring of how well the country was doing. Communication with far-flung mountainous regions was close to impossible, staff turnover was enormous, and the emphasis was on short-term projects that could be measured easily (e.g., X number of school buildings were constructed this year).

It's easy just to mindlessly blame someone or some organization for our failure.  But that won't prevent us failing in the future.  We need to figure out what went wrong and why, not who.

rightleft22

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Re: Afghanistan
« Reply #158 on: August 24, 2021, 05:37:26 PM »
I find it interesting that no one here or else where is talking about the above list
It seems quite evident why the mission was going to fail and that we don't really want to talk about Afghanistan that might prove constructive.

Grant

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Re: Afghanistan
« Reply #159 on: August 24, 2021, 05:57:41 PM »
I find it interesting that no one here or else where is talking about the above list
It seems quite evident why the mission was going to fail and that we don't really want to talk about Afghanistan that might prove constructive.

Because the executive summary above only points out immediate problems, not even direct causes for the overall failure of Afghanistan, and doesn't even touch on root causes.  The title of the report itself is "What We Need to Learn: Lessons".  These were all specific points where the mission in Afghanistan was done poorly, to the point that there is some real stupid *censored* pointed out.  But none of the things were DIRECTLY the causes of overall failure in Afghanistan.  They were perhaps contributing factors, but not direct causes. 

Finally, there is no mention of root causes in the executive summary.  There are plenty of points where things were done stupidly or ineptly.  But there is no mention of why these things were done stupidly or ineptly.  In the case of incompetent or inept personnel, why where they chosen, who chose them, what were the criteria, etc etc etc.  Who was setting the requirements?  Who hired these people?  Who set the mission parameters? 

It's going to come down to either civil or military leadership being incompetent or uninspired.  These individuals are appointed by political leadership.  Political leadership is appointed by guess who?  Us.  We Tha MFn People.  So we're all to blame, depending on which kinds of political leadership you think did the worst job.  Was it 7 years of Bush?  Or was it 13 years of Obama, Trump, and Biden? 

And that's still touching on the indirect causes.  That's still not touching on the direct causes of failure.

The direct causes of failure are:

1. Inability to destroy the Taliban
2. Inability to build up the Afghan government
3. Inability to build up the Afghan military
4. American and NATO departure

Some of those things mentioned in that report might touch on things that were done *censored*ty, and those things may have contributed to those direct causes.  But the final direct cause was departure before any of those jobs were completed.  Either those jobs were impossible, or they were done poorly.  If they were done poorly, is it impossible that they could be done correctly?  The report seems to believe that corrective actions could be taken, hence: lessons to learn.  If they could be done correctly or better, why were they not?  If corrective actions could have been made, why were they not and why did the United States not correct them before departure? 
« Last Edit: August 24, 2021, 06:01:34 PM by Grant »

TheDeamon

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Re: Afghanistan
« Reply #160 on: August 24, 2021, 10:37:24 PM »
Either those jobs were impossible, or they were done poorly.  If they were done poorly, is it impossible that they could be done correctly?  The report seems to believe that corrective actions could be taken, hence: lessons to learn.  If they could be done correctly or better, why were they not?  If corrective actions could have been made, why were they not and why did the United States not correct them before departure?

The options for mission success were untenable for substantial portions of the US Electorate, and thus never going to happen.

US Military preference is a 1:50 ratio if we are going to garrison a nation.(be their police, military, etc)

Afghanistan's population, according to Google, was 38.04 million in 2019.
That works out to 760,800 troops in Afghanistan, we never came anywhere close to that number. But then, that was where our Northern Alliance allies and other assorted warlords were supposed to come into things, I guess.

We also openly ignored that 1:50 ratio with regards to Iraq. In the old Ornery Forums, and even in news archives from 2003, you should find a Chairman of the Joint Chiefs(or was it the head of the Army? I don't remember) saying he felt we should send 600,000 troops in to invade Iraq, because the 1:50 ratio would suggest sending 512 thousand as the minimum(and not all of the involved troops in the invasion would ever actually be on the ground in Iraq, so the +80k was reasonable), we instead opted for half of the 512 thousand number when Operation Iraqi Freedom happened.

Or course, we also went into both nations with a "this is not an occupation, and not going to be an occupation" position from the onset, so the military's guidance of 1:50 was never going to happen.

Which leads to the next set of problems, we didn't want to look like occupiers, so we drastically undermanned what needed to be sent. We also didn't want to look like "colonizers" or any stripe of "imperialist" so we were a "light touch" on a wide range of things. Meaning there was a broad array of things we should have acted on, but didn't, because we didn't want to make it easier for other nations (and people in our own) to accuse us of being imperialists(not that the approach worked in any case).


alai

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Re: Afghanistan
« Reply #161 on: August 24, 2021, 10:47:49 PM »
So we're all to blame, depending on which kinds of political leadership you think did the worst job.  Was it 7 years of Bush?  Or was it 13 years of Obama, Trump, and Biden? 
Certainly all of those guys, for starters.  I think the huge, clear-cut mistakes started during the Bush era.  Especially those in around around combining ignoring the maxims "never start a land war in Asia" and "don't fight a war on two front".  But I don't think they were by any means irretrievable by the 2008, so the clock still runs.

Of the four, I think Obama did the least harm in terms of facts-on-the-ground actions.  But he contributed to the narrative that the others continued and eventually concluded:  'ending the Forever Wars'.  (Which way to the Haldeman forum?)  Right or wrong, it was popular with the US electorate, it's a more principled politician than either Trump or Biden that was ever going to spend political capital on opposing it.  Especially because the partisan impossibility of agreeing on a position on what "ended enough" would mean:  Trump attacked Obama for merely "ending combat operations", would have attacked Biden for reversing his agreement with the Taliban(!) to withdraw, actually in fact attacked him for



Quote
The direct causes of failure are:

1. Inability to destroy the Taliban
2. Inability to build up the Afghan government
3. Inability to build up the Afghan military
4. American and NATO departure

Some of those things mentioned in that report might touch on things that were done *censored*ty, and those things may have contributed to those direct causes.  But the final direct cause was departure before any of those jobs were completed.  Either those jobs were impossible, or they were done poorly.  If they were done poorly, is it impossible that they could be done correctly?  The report seems to believe that corrective actions could be taken, hence: lessons to learn.  If they could be done correctly or better, why were they not?  If corrective actions could have been made, why were they not and why did the United States not correct them before departure?
Could have done more on #1 earlier on -- see above 'more interested in the wrong war' observation above.  But after a certain point, while not quite the War on an Abstract Noun of the Bush prospectus, you can't progress it just by killing people in the field in Afghanistan.  #2 is I think even harder.  Was the error to not remake the country in the Western image hard enough?  Or that was tried too much?  One argument is that is should have been reestablished as a loose tribal federation, and allowed to crack on with it on that basis as long as they didn't go all 'failed state' again.  #3 there seems to be have been definite failures on.  Showtime didn't have to make up the Homeland plot point about phantom battalions existing only to absorb funds into someone else's pockets, it was supplied to them by real events.  And clearly there was a lot of 'flipping' when it came to it.  But it seems to have been designed wrong, too.  Or designed to use US support and US contractors under the assumption those would be there forever, and no transition whatsoever to a plan for them not to be when that was agreed under Trump, executed under Biden, and possibly teed-up during Obama.  #4 is more-or-less the fallout from the politics and operationalisation of the foregoing.  What was the last reasonable chance to avoid the accident?, as I understand MVI investigators ask.  Already very tough by 2021.  Maybe already inevitable by 2017.  Not in an ideal spot by 2009.  Was it even the right decision in 2001?

TheDeamon

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Re: Afghanistan
« Reply #162 on: August 24, 2021, 11:07:02 PM »
OrOf course, we also went into both nations with a "this is not an occupation, and not going to be an occupation" position from the onset, so the military's guidance of 1:50 was never going to happen.

Which leads to the next set of problems, we didn't want to look like occupiers, so we drastically undermanned what needed to be sent. We also didn't want to look like "colonizers" or any stripe of "imperialist" so we were a "light touch" on a wide range of things. Meaning there was a broad array of things we should have acted on, but didn't, because we didn't want to make it easier for other nations (and people in our own) to accuse us of being imperialists(not that the approach worked in any case).

To continue this train a bit further, and to rehash some even earlier statements:
1) The United States should not attempt to "nation build" again unless they're willing to go "all in" (or can establish a coalition that can ensure they collectively do so). This means the 1:50 ratio happens at the onset, and remains for a minimum of six, possibly longer depending on how quickly they establish civil authorities and/or other proxies to ensure that 1:50 ratio is maintained in some form. (soldier, police officer, or some kind of para-military force of local origin)

If you are unwilling to go for the 1:50 ratio, you aren't serious enough about it, and should recognize as much. And in light of what happened with the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan, and with the Iraqi defectors who were promising us the moon in early 2003... "Indigenous forces" are going to be completely and thoroughly vetted to our standards before they are considered as part of the 1:50 ratio. (Exemption: recent hostile occupation -- see WW2 France)

2) If you're going to nation build, be ready and willing to completely own the "Imperial Colonialist" title. You're not going to avoid it in any case, and as demonstrated, seeking to avoid it doesn't make things better.

3) Do not tolerate corruption on the part of the local government officials who assume power while under our watch. Really, Vietnam should have taught us that much, seriously, WTF?

4) Prepare to be there for the long haul if it isn't a case of rescuing a recently invaded/occupied developed nation. It is going to be a generational undertaking, if you're unwilling to make plans for keeping a substantial number of troops stationed there, not to be confused with deployed for the next 20 years, don't send a large number of troops in there in the first place.

Of course, if we adhered to that Afghanistan wouldn't have cost us 2.2 Trillion over 20 years, it likely be a large multiple of it instead, but on the flip side, with a 50:1 ratio rather than what we did use, things would have likely been a lot more stable simply because they wouldn't have been able to do much. So expenses would have been wildly different(and both more and less effective in various ways--less corruption on their end, but some additional costs/resistance due to being openly and unapologetically occupied)... But it would have still been very expensive, far more so than what we did do.
« Last Edit: August 24, 2021, 11:12:17 PM by TheDeamon »

alai

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Re: Afghanistan
« Reply #163 on: August 24, 2021, 11:56:25 PM »
1) The United States should not attempt to "nation build" again unless they're willing to go "all in" (or can establish a coalition that can ensure they collectively do so). This means the 1:50 ratio happens at the onset, and remains for a minimum of six, possibly longer depending on how quickly they establish civil authorities and/or other proxies to ensure that 1:50 ratio is maintained in some form. (soldier, police officer, or some kind of para-military force of local origin)
I certainly believe in the principle that you should accept the advice you're given by the relevant professions regarding executing a particular task, and if they say they're being asked to make bricks without straw, then you should ask them to do some other, differently scoped task instead.  So in theory, if you buy into "we'll be hailed as liberators" that modifies the above in one direction, but if one thinks "there'll be centuries of guerrilla warfare" it shifts it in the other.  But there's professionals to make those assessments too, albeit even harder ones to separate them from political considerations.

We also openly ignored that 1:50 ratio with regards to Iraq. In the old Ornery Forums, and even in news archives from 2003, you should find a Chairman of the Joint Chiefs(or was it the head of the Army? I don't remember) saying he felt we should send 600,000 troops in to invade Iraq, because the 1:50 ratio would suggest sending 512 thousand as the minimum(and not all of the involved troops in the invasion would ever actually be on the ground in Iraq, so the +80k was reasonable), we instead opted for half of the 512 thousand number when Operation Iraqi Freedom happened.
Don't recall whose estimate that was, or I suppose rather who articulated it in public.  (Myers?  Shinseki?  Schoomaker?)  But I do vividly recall Donald "Unknown Unknown" Rumsveld mocking it as old-fashioned thinking and how much better his notions were instead.

TheDeamon

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Re: Afghanistan
« Reply #164 on: August 25, 2021, 12:32:02 AM »
We also openly ignored that 1:50 ratio with regards to Iraq. In the old Ornery Forums, and even in news archives from 2003, you should find a Chairman of the Joint Chiefs(or was it the head of the Army? I don't remember) saying he felt we should send 600,000 troops in to invade Iraq, because the 1:50 ratio would suggest sending 512 thousand as the minimum(and not all of the involved troops in the invasion would ever actually be on the ground in Iraq, so the +80k was reasonable), we instead opted for half of the 512 thousand number when Operation Iraqi Freedom happened.
Don't recall whose estimate that was, or I suppose rather who articulated it in public.  (Myers?  Shinseki?  Schoomaker?)  But I do vividly recall Donald "Unknown Unknown" Rumsveld mocking it as old-fashioned thinking and how much better his notions were instead.

Shineki sounded right, and that helped me get a hit on google. It wasn't 600 thousand, but still "several hundred thousand" for the occupation of Iraq. But given "a couple hundred thousand" would generally be between 100K and 300K depending on the speaker, and "a few hundred thousand would generally start somewhere between 200 and 300k and likely run into the 400K range... That he specified "several hundred thousand" suggests he was looking at 400 thousand plus troops.

https://www.nytimes.com/2003/02/25/international/middleeast/army-chief-raises-estimate-of-gis-needed-in-postwar.html

Quote
The magnitude of the postwar troop commitment described by the Army's top officer, Gen. Eric K. Shinseki, is much larger than what other American officials have outlined. Pentagon officials have said that about 100,000 American troops may be needed in the post-Saddam phase, along with tens of thousands of additional allied forces.

"Something on the order of several hundred thousand soldiers are probably, you know, a figure that would be required," General Shinseki told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee today. "We're talking about post-hostilities control over a piece of geography that's fairly significant, with the kinds of ethnic tensions that could lead to other problems."
« Last Edit: August 25, 2021, 12:36:25 AM by TheDeamon »

alai

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Re: Afghanistan
« Reply #165 on: August 25, 2021, 12:41:37 AM »
Shineki sounded right, and that helped me get a hit on google. It wasn't 600 thousand, but still "several hundred thousand" for the occupation of Iraq. But given "a couple hundred thousand" would generally be between 100K and 300K depending on the speaker, and "a few hundred thousand would generally start somewhere between 200 and 300k and likely run into the 400K range... That he specified "several hundred thousand" suggests he was looking at 400 thousand plus troops.
Living in Cork has taught me, if nothing else, that I wouldn't want to be arguing the rigorous distinction between "a few", "several", or indeed "a couple".  At least not with locals on the judging panel.

Fenring

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Re: Afghanistan
« Reply #166 on: August 25, 2021, 12:52:20 AM »
Finally, there is no mention of root causes in the executive summary.  There are plenty of points where things were done stupidly or ineptly.  But there is no mention of why these things were done stupidly or ineptly.  In the case of incompetent or inept personnel, why where they chosen, who chose them, what were the criteria, etc etc etc.  Who was setting the requirements?  Who hired these people?  Who set the mission parameters?

You can hire the best people in a company dedicated to selling ice to Eskimos (as the expression goes), but later asking why the company failed, using the questions above, would really be missing the point.

Quote
The direct causes of failure are:

1. Inability to destroy the Taliban
2. Inability to build up the Afghan government
3. Inability to build up the Afghan military
4. American and NATO departure

I find it astonishing that such a list would not at least make honorable mention to:

0. Going there in the first place.

You can debate all day about whether there was a valid goal, a moral justification, and all the rest, but if the operations fails there has to be a conversation about whether the operation was just a bad idea. As I alluded to above, there is really no point looking for a fall guy or a flaw in the execution of a plan that was, from its conception, a failure. I can't prove to you it was to your satisfaction (as evidenced by our other exchange about me apparently making up that Afghanistan was viewed as a no-man's land for decades), but if it were the case all the rest of these questions would be moot.

TheDeamon

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Re: Afghanistan
« Reply #167 on: August 25, 2021, 12:53:42 AM »
Shineki sounded right, and that helped me get a hit on google. It wasn't 600 thousand, but still "several hundred thousand" for the occupation of Iraq. But given "a couple hundred thousand" would generally be between 100K and 300K depending on the speaker, and "a few hundred thousand would generally start somewhere between 200 and 300k and likely run into the 400K range... That he specified "several hundred thousand" suggests he was looking at 400 thousand plus troops.
Living in Cork has taught me, if nothing else, that I wouldn't want to be arguing the rigorous distinction between "a few", "several", or indeed "a couple".  At least not with locals on the judging panel.

It's also why I said "suggests he was looking at 400 thousand plus troops." He might be one of those people where "several" starts at 3. But yeah, the error bars on those terms is bad, especially as the number of digits increase. A "couple" can easily be 200 +/- 100, a "few" could be 300 +/- 200, and "several" can end up being 400 +/- 300 without trying very hard, and in the case of "Several" it could be a lot more than +3 and however many digits are relevant. Although generally speaking most people are not going to use "several" to describe 2 or 3.

alai

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Re: Afghanistan
« Reply #168 on: August 25, 2021, 01:30:39 AM »
It's also why I said "suggests he was looking at 400 thousand plus troops." He might be one of those people where "several" starts at 3. But yeah, the error bars on those terms is bad, especially as the number of digits increase. A "couple" can easily be 200 +/- 100, a "few" could be 300 +/- 200, and "several" can end up being 400 +/- 300 without trying very hard, and in the case of "Several" it could be a lot more than +3 and however many digits are relevant. Although generally speaking most people are not going to use "several" to describe 2 or 3.
There might be more of a localisation factor than I thought here, over and above my jovial -- though true! -- mention of "a couple" being more like 2(+3/-0) here.  Seemingly US dictionaries, and dictionaries splitting out AmEng usage separately, are pretty adamant that several means "more than two".  BrEng entries are much vaguer.  I'd no idea there could be an EngNatVar issue here.

Grant

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Re: Afghanistan
« Reply #169 on: August 25, 2021, 09:26:26 AM »
The options for mission success were untenable for substantial portions of the US Electorate, and thus never going to happen.

If success was possible, but the conditions for success were beyond the tolerances of the US Electorate, this is what I believe qualifies as a shortcoming in testicular mass.  The second part of this though is a complete lack of good political leadership for the majority of the time.  The American people are not always going want the right or best thing.  That should be obvious.  This is where strong political leadership is important, to communicate and sell the importance of the mission in Afghanistan.  This hasn't happened for a very long time.  The administrations have been focused on getting out of Afghanistan for 13 years. 

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US Military preference is a 1:50 ratio if we are going to garrison a nation.(be their police, military, etc)

I'm not sure what the source of this ratio is.  I've never heard of it before and can't find it with a quick search.  I'd say it's a pretty good number on the high end.  I'd suggest that 1:200 would be the very lowest.  The Army doesn't have 600K active duty troops total.  I think that the number of troops necessary to garrison Japan was around 400,000. 

I don't know the exact number of troops that would have been needed.  But I know it would have been much more than we had. 

Fenring

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Re: Afghanistan
« Reply #170 on: August 25, 2021, 10:17:01 AM »
If success was possible, but the conditions for success were beyond the tolerances of the US Electorate, this is what I believe qualifies as a shortcoming in testicular mass.  The second part of this though is a complete lack of good political leadership for the majority of the time.  The American people are not always going want the right or best thing.  That should be obvious.  This is where strong political leadership is important, to communicate and sell the importance of the mission in Afghanistan.

Who is the one to state objectively whether the American people are wrong in such a scenario? Maybe a vague discontent or lack of will in regard to a foreign action is a sign of something correct. Although it's possible to sell an idea to someone who doesn't want it, it doesn't follow from this that the ability to do means one should do so.

Grant

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Re: Afghanistan
« Reply #171 on: August 25, 2021, 12:46:43 PM »

I find it astonishing that such a list would not at least make honorable mention to:

0. Going there in the first place.

You can debate all day about whether there was a valid goal, a moral justification, and all the rest, but if the operations fails there has to be a conversation about whether the operation was just a bad idea. As I alluded to above, there is really no point looking for a fall guy or a flaw in the execution of a plan that was, from its conception, a failure.

Fenring, you keep alluding to the concept that the goals were impossible to begin with.  As if the operations in Afghanistan were similar to trying to making 2+2=5.  You havn't given any details or reasoning on why it would be metaphysically or even physically impossible.  You havn't provided any sources for any experts or reasoning at all.  Other than that's what "everybody said".  That's fine if that is what you believe, but at least present a reasoned argument why it would be impossible. 

And I don't think that the allegory of selling ice to Eskimos is going to work.  It's too easy to sell ice to Eskimos.  It's no different than selling water to people in Seattle or Minnesota.  You can sell ice to Eskimos by the block or you can sell entire igloos.  Instead of having to spend time carving their own ice blocks or building their own igloos, they can spend more time hunting seals or whatever else they want to do.  That's the very basis of a specialized economy. 

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I can't prove to you it was to your satisfaction (as evidenced by our other exchange about me apparently making up that Afghanistan was viewed as a no-man's land for decades), but if it were the case all the rest of these questions would be moot.

Sure.  You're right.  If the mission was to divide 69 by zero or create a round square or time travel, the cause of failure would be simply that it was undoable.  But you havn't presented anything to support that intervention in Afghanistan was impossible. 





Grant

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Re: Afghanistan
« Reply #172 on: August 25, 2021, 12:52:34 PM »
Who is the one to state objectively whether the American people are wrong in such a scenario? Maybe a vague discontent or lack of will in regard to a foreign action is a sign of something correct. Although it's possible to sell an idea to someone who doesn't want it, it doesn't follow from this that the ability to do means one should do so.

That's a whole different argument that is separate.  It's the difference between whether something CAN be done versus whether something SHOULD be done. 

I would point out that the majority of Americans and the majority of our allies believed that the invasion of Afghanistan SHOULD have been done.  There has been plenty of people changing their minds since then, but the argument as to why it shouldn't have been done usually comes back around to the idea that it CAN'T or COULDN'T be done. 

Despite the rule of democracy, the idea that the majority of a people think something doesn't necessarily make it right. 

Fenring

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Re: Afghanistan
« Reply #173 on: August 25, 2021, 01:04:32 PM »
That's a whole different argument that is separate.  It's the difference between whether something CAN be done versus whether something SHOULD be done.

Well, yes, but I meant something more than that. I meant that if the public will is against something, there may be merit to listening to them even if there is a more objective 'should' that can be imagined. In other words, there may be merit to listening to what people say (or tacitly say) for its own sake alone, even putting aside some kind of god's-eye-view of the situation.

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I would point out that the majority of Americans and the majority of our allies believed that the invasion of Afghanistan SHOULD have been done.

I don't agree with this statement. There is an enormous gulf between people thinking a thing should be done, versus them supporting something that's been sold to them as the only way to make America safe. Was there public approval to attack Afghanistan? Probably a fair amount. Was that because they wanted that attack specifically, or was it because they were supporting their leadership in a time of crisis and would have likely supported any sort of plan that seemed tangible and 'getting the job done?' Totally different issue then.

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Despite the rule of democracy, the idea that the majority of a people think something doesn't necessarily make it right.

Of course, but it also doesn't make it wrong. So who decides? The point of democracy is supposedly that wrong/wrong ends up being literally defined as being a representation of the will of the people, either directly or through their choice of leaders. This actually absolves such a system from having to define in political terms whether something is right or wrong. It just is. Individuals have to make the decision, but the system is supposed to follow its design dictates (i.e. to represent whatever the individual desires happen to be). It is entirely concordant, for instance, to have a democracy that is 'functioning well' and also disintegrating at the same time, because the will of the people is not capable of supporting a healthy politics.

Fenring

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Re: Afghanistan
« Reply #174 on: August 25, 2021, 01:07:09 PM »
Fenring, you keep alluding to the concept that the goals were impossible to begin with.  As if the operations in Afghanistan were similar to trying to making 2+2=5.

Actually, I never said that. What I said is that it might have been a bad idea. What I neglected to do (by design) was to define "bad". You can talk until you're blue in the face about why a bad idea couldn't be implemented to satisfaction, but sometimes an idea is just bad. There can be various ways in which an idea can be bad, which it's probably not worthwhile to try to enumerate.


alai

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Re: Afghanistan
« Reply #175 on: August 25, 2021, 03:19:47 PM »
If success was possible, but the conditions for success were beyond the tolerances of the US Electorate, this is what I believe qualifies as a shortcoming in testicular mass.  The second part of this though is a complete lack of good political leadership for the majority of the time.  The American people are not always going want the right or best thing.  That should be obvious.  This is where strong political leadership is important, to communicate and sell the importance of the mission in Afghanistan.  This hasn't happened for a very long time.  The administrations have been focused on getting out of Afghanistan for 13 years.

For 13 years?  Not starting, say, in 2003, when Donald "pockets of resistance" Rumsveld announced the end of major combat operations and a significant drawdown in troops, to facilitate invading the next country on their checklist?  Or Paul "wildly off the mark" Wolfowitz snarking back at the Shinseki quote mentioned above, after they's replicated the very same error in that campaign too, saying "It is hard to conceive that it would take more forces to provide stability in a post-Saddam Iraq than it would take to conduct the war itself."

Sometimes, making a balls of it isn't the good or strong thing to do.  Most times, indeed.

Grant

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Re: Afghanistan
« Reply #176 on: August 25, 2021, 03:43:16 PM »
For 13 years?  Not starting, say, in 2003, when Donald "pockets of resistance" Rumsveld announced the end of major combat operations and a significant drawdown in troops, to facilitate invading the next country on their checklist?  Or Paul "wildly off the mark" Wolfowitz snarking back at the Shinseki quote mentioned above, after they's replicated the very same error in that campaign too, saying "It is hard to conceive that it would take more forces to provide stability in a post-Saddam Iraq than it would take to conduct the war itself."

Sometimes, making a balls of it isn't the good or strong thing to do.  Most times, indeed.

I think the cases you are mentioning have more to do with the competence side of the coin rather than the "balls" or will part of the coin. 

I'm not going to argue that those people up there screwed the pooch.  There was a major competence problem there.  But I mentioned the lack of political leadership in communicating the importance of the mission in Afghanistan.  I think there was plenty of communication and selling of the mission for Afghanistan back then, dispite 2003 being the beginning of the Democratic party's disenchantment with Afghanistan, in an attempt to win the Presidency in 2004.  Obama and Clinton admitted in front of Robert Gates that their opposition in some cases was political.  Obama himself conducted a surge in Afghanistan in 2010. Democrats were playing politics by trying to get the anti-war vote.  So as far back as 2003, there was mixed messaging coming from American political leaders.  But the Bush administration was the last one to actually sell Afghanistan and not to be looking for the door. 

TheDrake

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Re: Afghanistan
« Reply #177 on: August 25, 2021, 04:31:47 PM »
5% of people polled by CBS think the withdrawal from Afghanistan went "very well".

🤔😢

rightleft22

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Re: Afghanistan
« Reply #178 on: August 25, 2021, 05:20:54 PM »
Fenring, you keep alluding to the concept that the goals were impossible to begin with.  As if the operations in Afghanistan were similar to trying to making 2+2=5.

Actually, I never said that. What I said is that it might have been a bad idea. What I neglected to do (by design) was to define "bad". You can talk until you're blue in the face about why a bad idea couldn't be implemented to satisfaction, but sometimes an idea is just bad. There can be various ways in which an idea can be bad, which it's probably not worthwhile to try to enumerate.

I've read your posts over a few times and again I get the impression that your reasoning, though balanced, ends up holding no person or agency accountable... with little room to learn anything from the situation that might prove helpful in the future.

Its probably me. 
« Last Edit: August 25, 2021, 05:24:23 PM by rightleft22 »

alai

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Re: Afghanistan
« Reply #179 on: August 25, 2021, 06:55:32 PM »
I think the cases you are mentioning have more to do with the competence side of the coin rather than the "balls" or will part of the coin. 
Which in return casts a great deal of doubt on "balls" being the key factor in the success of the endeavour overall.  If it's even applicable to badly planned and poorly run belligerence when its other people entirely doing the fighting and dying.

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I'm not going to argue that those people up there screwed the pooch.  There was a major competence problem there.
I'd argue more like major reckless disregard problems.  Started a war against Osama bin Laden and Al-Qaeda, decided that they were more interested in other Fronts on the War on an Abstract Noun, and didn't even try to prosecute it fully.

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But I mentioned the lack of political leadership in communicating the importance of the mission in Afghanistan.  I think there was plenty of communication and selling of the mission for Afghanistan back then, dispite 2003 being the beginning of the Democratic party's disenchantment with Afghanistan, in an attempt to win the Presidency in 2004.  Obama and Clinton admitted in front of Robert Gates that their opposition in some cases was political.  Obama himself conducted a surge in Afghanistan in 2010. Democrats were playing politics by trying to get the anti-war vote.  So as far back as 2003, there was mixed messaging coming from American political leaders.  But the Bush administration was the last one to actually sell Afghanistan and not to be looking for the door.
First one to use the door, as I just pointed out.

I'm all in favour of "blame enough to go around".  Not so much because I'd seek, like OSC, to portray myself as the Golden Mean between the "Insane Far Left and the Lunatic Far Right", as from outside they look more like two loose coalitions of factions within the the Breathtakingly Ruthlessly Self-Interested Party.  But your blame specificity seems very patchy here.  Trump very much "played politics by trying to get the anti-war vote" -- he ran on surrendering to the Taliban, negotiated directly to surrender to them over the heads of the US-backed and supposedly legitimate and democratically elected government, largely implemented the surrender to them, and might well have completed surrendering during his first (and only -- so far!) term had the military professionals and few remaining adults in the room.  Biden you can accuse of being Continuity Trump in that respect, or as having been given a complete hospital pass, politically, strategically, and in terms of signed agreements.  Or some of both.

Obama opposed the invasion of Iraq in 2003.  Not clear what opposition to Afghanistan -- much less "playing politics" -- you're suggesting either he then or the 2004 campaign were guilty of.  Here's the DNC platform from that year:  "We must expand NATO forces outside Kabul. We must accelerate training for the Afghan army and police. The program to disarm and reintegrate warlord militias into society must be expedited and expanded into a mainstream strategy. We will attack the exploding opium trade ignored by the Bush Administration by doubling our counter-narcotics assistance to the Karzai Government and reinvigorating the regional drug control program."  Buncha peacenik hippies, huh?  Even moreso with (I assume you mean HR) Clinton. What did they do in office -- or say out of it, indeed -- that can remotely be bracketed with Trump's actions and rhetoric?  The one concrete fact you cite is the surge, which happened on their watch, and is entirely contrary to the rest of the narrative.

alai

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Re: Afghanistan
« Reply #180 on: August 25, 2021, 06:58:25 PM »
5% of people polled by CBS think the withdrawal from Afghanistan went "very well".

🤔😢
Trump will be saying what terrible poll numbers those are, and that if he'd done exactly the same thing -- or did it earlier, as he wanted to -- he'd have 85% of Republican voters saying it went better than any other treacherous headlong retreat in history.

alai

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Re: Afghanistan
« Reply #181 on: August 25, 2021, 07:42:40 PM »
First one to use the door, as I just pointed out.
Would edit this addition into my own post, but can't, apologies.  (Parameter you can tweak in the Promised Land, Ornery Joshua?)  From the same David Frum article in The Atlantic that I quoted the Kerry election-losing platform from:  "A strange dichotomy split the U.S. foreign-policy elite. Prominent figures in the Bush administration—Vice President Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld—wished fiercely to escape Afghanistan. This wish was partly because of their determination to finish off Saddam Hussein, but it was also a policy preference in its own right. (For what little it’s worth, that’s how I personally felt at the time: However steep the odds against a stable future for Iraq, that urbanized and literate country was a more promising terrain for U.S. strategic goals than hopeless Afghanistan.)"

https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2021/08/bin-laden-2001-end-war-afghanistan/619767/

Fenring

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Re: Afghanistan
« Reply #182 on: August 25, 2021, 09:42:48 PM »
I've read your posts over a few times and again I get the impression that your reasoning, though balanced, ends up holding no person or agency accountable... with little room to learn anything from the situation that might prove helpful in the future.

Its probably me.

It is you, definitely. You routinely read pessimistic things into posts that aren't there. Most likely a projection.

You are in fact so far off in your summary that it almost could not be more incorrect. But if you want to go back to the old forum you can find my thread about the Bush admin to see an example of why.

alai

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Re: Afghanistan
« Reply #183 on: August 25, 2021, 10:34:57 PM »
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The direct causes of failure are:

1. Inability to destroy the Taliban
2. Inability to build up the Afghan government
3. Inability to build up the Afghan military
4. American and NATO departure

I find it astonishing that such a list would not at least make honorable mention to:

0. Going there in the first place.
Logically that'd be on a different list.  If you don't even start, then those other factors of failure don't ever arise.  The sole item on the list initially indeed, as it assures not success whatsoever, but with plenty of scope for lots of followup blunders in coming up with alternative means of addressing the problems of bin Laden, al Qaeda, and so on.

Model answer for Iraq, though.

Grant

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Re: Afghanistan
« Reply #184 on: August 26, 2021, 09:55:07 AM »
Ok.  Can argue about the past for the rest of time.  But the August 31 deadline for ending evacuations and for all troops out is fast approaching.  All signs seem to point to the idea that there is no way to get all the Afghans who want out in that amount of time.  Maybe we could get the Americans out that want to leave, but a bunch of them are staying to get more refugees out. 

1.  Should the United States break the Aug 31 deadline for ending evacuations and stay as long as necessary to get everyone out that wants out?  What are the pros?  What are the cons? 

2.  Will the United States break the August 31 deadline for ending evacuations and stay longer? 

3.  What will Germany, France, and the UK do?  Will they try and stay longer if the US pulls out on the 31st? 





rightleft22

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Re: Afghanistan
« Reply #185 on: August 26, 2021, 10:48:10 AM »
I've read your posts over a few times and again I get the impression that your reasoning, though balanced, ends up holding no person or agency accountable... with little room to learn anything from the situation that might prove helpful in the future.

Its probably me.

It is you, definitely. You routinely read pessimistic things into posts that aren't there. Most likely a projection.

You are in fact so far off in your summary that it almost could not be more incorrect. But if you want to go back to the old forum you can find my thread about the Bush admin to see an example of why.

I actually pay attention to your posts for the possibility of projection though I'm not sure I'd call it a pessimistic reading. You tend to present a reasoned middle ground that I mostly agree with but then leaves me feeling defeated...and asking myself if Fenring is correct who is accountable, what can be done... which I guess could be pessimistic.

Also possible its the limitation of the medium. 
« Last Edit: August 26, 2021, 10:53:12 AM by rightleft22 »

Fenring

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Re: Afghanistan
« Reply #186 on: August 26, 2021, 12:10:57 PM »
You tend to present a reasoned middle ground that I mostly agree with but then leaves me feeling defeated

Well, ok, so this is why I was suggesting it was projection. Not projection of a point of argumentation, but more that your own disposition is reflected when you say that it leaves you feeling defeated. That is entirely a matter of how you engage with the world, no? For instance, a person who is in the mode of getting depressed when hearing bad news might react very differently to the same information as someone who has come to a sort of peace that the world is broken and that it can't just be fixed mechanically...at least not at present. Same message, different reaction, depending on the reader; so does it say more about the post, or about you? I don't mean this as an insult. Some things are bad and there's nothing you can do about it. I used to find that depressing; actually it made me angry. Now I think of it more as keeping aware of reality while allowing progress to attend to itself (with our participation, but not through brute force). I'm a lot less stressed about the world now.

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...and asking myself if Fenring is correct who is accountable, what can be done... which I guess could be pessimistic.

Not that I expect everyone to have read every thread I ever participated in, but I felt like I had already said my piece about who's to blame for the 9/11 era invasions. Also there's a distinction between what I suspect, and what I know. I know that the Bush admin was obviously the pusher behind Afghanistan and Iraq 2.0, and in both cases (in different ways) it was on their own initiative even to the point of overruling intelligence briefings telling them otherwise. What I suspect has more to do with the affiliations Cheney and his crew kept, which is more in the think tank/private society vein of looking at things.

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Also possible its the limitation of the medium.

Maybe. But I can see how it can be depressing to not find a bad guy you can go and smite. But reality isn't really like that. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately!) things done in the past can't be fixed, undone, or made account for. You can only improve things for going forward. That is a huge relief if you find a way to see it like that. My post was a bit reactionary, in part because it feels like you're vaguely accusing me of something when you've on occasion written that to me.

alai

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Re: Afghanistan
« Reply #187 on: August 26, 2021, 01:16:04 PM »
D'oh, I did the quote-misnesting thing, and didn't catch it on non-preview in a timely manner.  I hate it when that happens.

1.  Should the United States break the Aug 31 deadline for ending evacuations and stay as long as necessary to get everyone out that wants out?  What are the pros?  What are the cons? 
The pros are obviously a regard for common humanity and a "you broke it, you fix it" duty of care.  The cons are the possibility that it all goes horrifically wrong, either at the hands of the Taliban, or a third party.  There's not a great deal of stick that the US is able to use right now, and offering too much of an additional carrot to the very theocrats you've just surrendered an entire country to isn't a good look.  Even if they seemed inclined to nibble on one, which they don't.

To which add, the sadly inevitable xenophobic pushback on refugees pretty much wherever they end up these days.  (Not clear to me if the Nato evacuations are to the various home countries, or just out of the theatre of operations in the first instance.) 

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3.  What will Germany, France, and the UK do?  Will they try and stay longer if the US pulls out on the 31st?
Very unlikely, I think.  The UK has characterised their deployment as having been done 'though' the US one, and not operationally independent.  It's been briefed there that the UK floated a 'coalition of the willing' proposal to the other in-country allies to extend it without the US, didn't get any takers, and then said it couldn't possibly do it alone.  (That's a handy formula they all could use separately, if one is even a moderate cynic about government briefings.)

Meanwhile, amid much fanfare here, a tiny number of Irish 'special forces' (about half a platoon of the Army Ranger Wing) were deployed to Kabul...  on what doesn't even sound like a special forces mission, and is apparently already been unwound.  I think because a larger number would have needed parliamentary debate and perhaps more, so if you're only going to send a dozen, send the hardest nuts you can find.

Another question is 'normal' flights out of Kabul, if and when those resume.  Who will the Taliban allow to leave, and on what basis?  And which countries are willing to take how many of them in?

cherrypoptart

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Re: Afghanistan
« Reply #188 on: August 26, 2021, 02:41:53 PM »
Now several Marines have been killed during the evacuation by ISIS, apparently. Does that change anything?

I think it does. Maybe we still leave but now it doesn't just look like we're surrendering to the Taliban but to ISIS as well.

alai

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Re: Afghanistan
« Reply #189 on: August 26, 2021, 02:47:41 PM »
You say "maybe", but is there any scenario in which this makes not leaving more likely?  To say nothing of, more possible.  It's not like the Taliban are going to say, "no, we changed our minds -- stay and we'll shoot up some ISIL-K guys together, it'll be a real bonding moment for us!"

As to the domestic politics of it, likely correct that this will increase the Trump Party howls that it's a national disgrace that Biden failed to reverse Trump's Taliban-surrender (and impossible strategic and political hangover).

rightleft22

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Re: Afghanistan
« Reply #190 on: August 26, 2021, 03:49:08 PM »
Quote
Maybe. But I can see how it can be depressing to not find a bad guy you can go and smite. But reality isn't really like that. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately!) things done in the past can't be fixed, undone, or made account for. You can only improve things for going forward. That is a huge relief if you find a way to see it like that. My post was a bit reactionary, in part because it feels like you're vaguely accusing me of something when you've on occasion written that to me.

Not depressing because their is no one to smite but without accountability things tend to stay the same or worse regress. Without accountability the task of determining what when wrong becomes more difficult as does any possible solution to correct. 

Side note I view accountably and responsibility as attributes of love. Without getting to be accountable or responsible the experience of meaning and purpose and so I imagine being loved become difficult IMO.  If nothing I say or do matters to anyone I doubt I would experience being loved

Fenring

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Re: Afghanistan
« Reply #191 on: August 26, 2021, 03:58:05 PM »
Not depressing because their is no one to smite but without accountability things tend to stay the same or worse regress. Without accountability the task of determining what when wrong becomes more difficult as does any possible solution to correct.

It sounds like by accountability you mean naming the names of who is responsible. What I am trying to say is that one can fix a system without (sometimes) needing to do that. Having a tribunal where the miscreant is exposed may not even appreciably change things, although it could. I think the system is most often the thing needing changing, so that bad behavior of people in it is almost incidental to the fact that they could do that in the first place. It's like, if a video game has a bug and people are exploiting it, it would be beyond ridiculous for the devs to try to track down the bad actors and ban them. You just fix the bug and move on. Accountability in this sense just means identifying a problem.

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Side note I view accountably and responsibility as attributes of love. Without getting to be accountable or responsible the experience of meaning and purpose and so I imagine being loved become difficult IMO.  If nothing I say or do matters to anyone I doubt I would experience being loved

I think this is one of those areas which is applicable only in the flesh and blood reality of individual interactions. I don't think it makes sense to speak of holding people to their responsibilities in the abstract. I don't have the ability, and maybe not even any business, trying to make waves at people I've never met and 'hold them responsible' in the sense of caring for their own sense of responsibility. I can do that (out of caring) for the people around me, and who I encounter in my goings on (which includes direct interactions like this one), but I can't 'help' Dick Cheney take responsibility for his actions. I don't have any standing or relationship with him, access to him, or ability to affect his level of caring or information.

rightleft22

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Re: Afghanistan
« Reply #192 on: August 26, 2021, 03:58:13 PM »
Now several Marines have been killed during the evacuation by ISIS, apparently. Does that change anything?

I think it does. Maybe we still leave but now it doesn't just look like we're surrendering to the Taliban but to ISIS as well.

Confusing as the Taliban and ISIS are revivals not allies. At least that is what is being reported.
If they really are revival's ISIS gains by making the withdraw as difficult as possible - if such attacks push the US to extend forcing the Taliban to keep face... I can't see the situation improving
The longer we stay past the deadline the more likely a reaction to the situation on both sides (vice a response)

I didn't think the word surrender is helpful or accurate though it may feel like a surrender. I suspect the fight against the Taliban and ISIS will continue if via a less then direct method.

rightleft22

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Re: Afghanistan
« Reply #193 on: August 26, 2021, 04:00:44 PM »
Thanks for replying Fenring
I was trying to work something out for myself that wasn't clear to me or easy to express.

alai

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Re: Afghanistan
« Reply #194 on: August 26, 2021, 04:12:49 PM »
I didn't think the word surrender is helpful or accurate though it may feel like a surrender.
The US (under The Former Guy) formally signed an agreement to withdraw, in return for...  not a lot.  That's a bilateral agreement, with the Taliban -- not involving the Afghan government or Nato allies, and indeed over their objections at a range of volume levels.  Seems pretty darn-gosh surrendery to me.

TheDrake

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Re: Afghanistan
« Reply #195 on: August 26, 2021, 05:04:18 PM »
Surrender has a very specific meaning, we didn't disarm ourselves and show up on one of the talibans battleships and agree to their terms. Retreat would be more appropriate, in the proper parlance, or withdrawal.

You could certainly say we lost. Had we allowed the Afghan government to participate, that wouldn't even be surrender.

Even when Cornwallis surrendered his army at Yorktown, England did not surrender to the United States.

The term is clearly employed here to suggest we should feel shamefully emasculated and that we should have instead fought on endlessly or to employ a "kill em all" strategy like the successful conclusion to ww2 conflicts. Where Germany and Japan most definitely did surrender.

alai

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Re: Afghanistan
« Reply #196 on: August 26, 2021, 07:21:38 PM »
I should try and do an "Austrian Navy" joke, but I'm afraid I'm all out.

It's not being "clearly employed here to suggest we should feel shamefully emasculated" (and I'm including myself in "we" here, with my UK hat on for starters) at all, and framing your point that way is surely straying well into "don't make me tap the sign again" territory regarding the mission statement about how "Ornernies" conduct debates.  (More honored in the breach than in the observance, to be sure.)  I'll remind you I was the poster objecting to the "more balls needed" diagnosis of US/Nato involvement over the years, indeed.  I have a pretty systematic preference for more neurotransmitters over more androgenic anabolic steroids.  Don't be waving it around for the sake of it; be getting better results with (or without) it.

Yes, it's true to say that the neither US or allied forces in the field, nor the US as a country or any of the allies, have surrendered to the Taliban in the narrow sense of the law of war.  (Not that war was ever declared, of course.)  Just in every (other) English-language sense of the word "surrendered".  Surrendered Afghanistan to its fate.  "Stopped resisting an enemy or opponent and submitted to their authority."  Not that I think dicdeffing is an especially productive exercise, but neither is trying to police perfectly reasonable choices of word.  "Retreat" is an overly generous characterisation, given that it was planned for for a year (the strategic-surrender part), and still ended up as a rout (the operational end of it).

The "allowing"(!) the Afghan government to participate part is key, though.  About the fate of their own country, how magnanimous of us! ... had we but done done so.  I don't know precisely why they were excluded, but the appearance is certainly that the intent was to predetermine a timetable, and neither facts nor consent of the parties were to be allowed to get in the way of that.  Even if t had involved some arm-twisting, better than just doing a deal over their head.  With the Taliban.  (The "shameful" part would properly apply there, all right.)

"Fought on endlessly" is also a straw man.  (If forget it's on the OA boilerplate too.  Personally I think Paul Graham's "Disagreement Hierarchy" pyramid is much more to the point and much more operable, too.  But OSC's dime, OSC's preference, fair enough.)  Perhaps not an intentional one, who knows.  At any rate, combat operations were wound down between 2014 and 2016.  Trying to maintain the status quo at that point isn't that, much less "kill 'em all".  But I suppose "ending the Forever Support-and-training-missions" isn't quite as snappy a political slogan.  And not so much "endlessly", as until there's a political agreement, a request to withdraw, or at least a better-considered arrangement to do so unilaterally (or internally to Nato, preferably).

cherrypoptart

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Re: Afghanistan
« Reply #197 on: August 27, 2021, 09:48:46 AM »
Whatever you want to call it, everyone else is calling it surrender.

https://www.militarytimes.com/opinion/commentary/2021/08/24/breaking-hearts-and-minds-the-strategy-of-surrender/

Breaking hearts and minds: The strategy of surrender

By Joan Barker

"...For the past two decades, “winning hearts and minds” was the fundamental strategy of triumph in the war on terror. Today, it is clear that breaking hearts and minds is the strategy of surrender in that fight.

Mo and Hamid feel like they have been abandoned, thrown to the wolves, their harrowing experiences reflecting those of thousands of interpreters who are desperately trying to get out of Afghanistan before they end up on a Taliban hit list.

Multiply each of those terrified interpreters by the number of people in their extended family. Do the math. That is hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people who are about to witness the U.S.turn its back on them while hiding behind neatly prepared talking points from public relations teams at the White House. I think it goes without saying that this is more than just an issue of international credibility, it is also one of national security.

When all of these abandoned people, along with their friends and families, see the American flag in the future, will they feel a fullness in their hearts…or a sickness in their stomachs?..."

Fenring

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Re: Afghanistan
« Reply #198 on: August 27, 2021, 09:55:33 AM »
"...For the past two decades, “winning hearts and minds” was the fundamental strategy of triumph in the war on terror.

When serious commentary and satire become identical...

TheDrake

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Re: Afghanistan
« Reply #199 on: August 27, 2021, 11:13:57 AM »
I had a whole answer and the back button wiped it. I concede that there is a dictionary definition of surrender that applies.

I truly don't see much room for anything that isn't fantasy other than the two options that I listed. You can call them straw men if you want, or you can give me the elevator speech that shows me my error and a functional strategy that would work in 2021. Not one that might have worked in 2005.