Author Topic: Afghanistan  (Read 27987 times)

alai

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Re: Afghanistan
« Reply #200 on: August 27, 2021, 07:22:37 PM »
I had a whole answer and the back button wiped it. I concede that there is a dictionary definition of surrender that applies.
I hate it when that happens.  I keep doing it in Youtube, which seems to have an especially crappy and hair-trigger "you obviously wanted to delete your entire draft irreversibly with one opaque click or keystroke" comment system.  Bring back usenet news!  Or even browsers with "undo", even though they worked sporadically at best.

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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.
Well, Frum wasn't even stopping at 2005 or indeed 2003, his time-machine was set for 2001...  And at this point it's all history, so the distinction between yesterday's dodgy decisions and the ones from two decades ago seems somewhat arbitrary.  It's all post-mortem and hindsight now.

What about the one that was working reasonably well in 2016, and was only really fatally undermined in 2020?  Is that 'ruled out on time' too, or do you have specific criticisms of that?

I'm honestly uncertain what the differential diagnosis between #45 and #46 on this is.  There's a formerguyist snarl at Biden that obviously makes no sense, there's neocon and non-interventionist-style critiques that damns them both (or would if applied with any consistency) for each of their own characteristic reasons, and are fair enough in their own terms.  I don't like Biden's decision (to follow through on Trump's), but the degree to which it was forced on him, the degree to which he thought it was the right thing to do, and the degree to which it was "playing politics" isn't at all clear to me.

TheDrake

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Re: Afghanistan
« Reply #201 on: August 29, 2021, 03:56:31 PM »
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What about the one that was working reasonably well in 2016, and was only really fatally undermined in 2020?  Is that 'ruled out on time' too, or do you have specific criticisms of that?
 

This strategy to me lands in the "fought on endlessly" camp. Now sometimes fight on endlessly can eventually resolve to progressively better. We might consider northern ireland such a model for what that could look like. But I don't see how you get a bunch of corrupt dudes propped up by the US into a power sharing agreement with the taliban with a taliban disarmament. Not when neither side is particularly interested in a western style representative government.

alai

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Re: Afghanistan
« Reply #202 on: August 29, 2021, 07:32:52 PM »
I suppose that's an available criticism -- and a politically winning one, at least until recently.  The "endless" part can obviously argue about more literally without end -- can't prove the counterfactual, hard to make predictions it is, the hypothetical future especially about (I believe that one was Yoda Berra), and there will be strategic whattifferry about this forever.

But that summary is much too broadly lumpist for my splitty tastes as regards the "fight on" part.  Afghans were doing the fighting.  The proposition wasn't that there be "major combat operations" much less another "surge", but that there continue to be a Western presence diplomatically, to provide more training of the Afghan army and police, to allow in-country air support, and to allow Western contractors to continue to be there.  By pulling all of that out -- some of them more premeditatedly than others -- said West has precious few levers left, never mind the largely parked "fight on" one.

The NI comparison I don't see as especially helpful or at all close in either direction.

I don't see you think the Western-style representative government isn't interested in Western-style representative government.  As to their simultaneous interest in corruption -- well, the similarities merely continue!

TheDrake

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Re: Afghanistan
« Reply #203 on: August 30, 2021, 03:16:47 PM »
Afghans were doing the fighting. That makes it sound like we weren't at risk. They weren't doing all of it. From 2016 to 2019, 64 US service members were killed. Not sure how many were just maimed.

Endless fighting also matters on the financial front as well. $45 billion in 2018.

BTW, the kill em all strategy isn't a straw man either. It doesn't even need much of a troop presence. Just drone targets removing civilian deaths and intelligence confidence from the equation. Expensive in terms of reputation and dollars, but doable.

alai

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Re: Afghanistan
« Reply #204 on: August 30, 2021, 05:22:30 PM »
It's a tin man, then:  no brain!  In dollars fairly cheap up-front -- drones cost plenty sure, but less than the alternatives.  But what's the actual strategy part there?  Help the Taliban kill a few thousand IS-K fighters, maybe killing a few tens of thousands of Afghanistan?  Make all-out air war against the Taliban?  Use it to try to enforce some sort of 'red lines' with them, still be be forced out?  As an idea it seems less pros-and-cons, than various downsides strung loosely together.  OTOH it does seem to be where we are.

The total US defence budget is $715 billion.  (I know I've been trying to generalise this to the Western Coalition, in the spirit of spreading the blame and the responsibility around, but I'll freely acknowledge that it's very much been the US's project from the beginning, it make the strategic decision to start it, and the one to end it, and besides, I'm too lazy to add up the Long Tail of the other participants much lower (both absolutely and famously even relatively) military spending levels.)  Now having watched almost all of the famous "Critical Race Theory" Congressional hearing, I appreciate that Representatives would very happily spend all of that, and more, without troubling to wonder if they were actually defending anything.  Just as long as they each get (at least) their share of the pork.  Western-style democracy at its finest!  But I don't think it's wildly unreasonable to consider spending some of it on propping up countries that have a track record of turning into outright failed states and both actively and passively hosting anti-US and anti-Western terrorism.  Call me a closet neocon pawn of the military-industrial complex, I guess.

There was of course the "Trump surge", modest though it was compared to past such.  I'm not familiar with every last operational detail in each of those years, but there's naturally a rough correlational between "conducting combat operations" and casualty rates.  The "train the army, protect the embassy and the contractor" model in itself isn't a high risk.  Relatively speaking.  There were no US troop fatalities at all for 18 months, 2020-1, until the very recent bombing attacks, though presumably that's also partly due to the Trumiban withdrawal agreement.

Fenring

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Re: Afghanistan
« Reply #205 on: August 30, 2021, 06:55:27 PM »
But I don't think it's wildly unreasonable to consider spending some of it on propping up countries that have a track record of turning into outright failed states and both actively and passively hosting anti-US and anti-Western terrorism.  Call me a closet neocon pawn of the military-industrial complex, I guess.

If you're going to think in terms of the corporate welfare state, then war spending is just redistribution of wealth, and any operation has a bottom line. It's not so much "are they happy to spend that amount for defense" but whether there's a direct monetary incentive. If there's no money in propping up a nation-state in the Afghan border then it wouldn't happen, it's just bad business.

alai

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Re: Afghanistan
« Reply #206 on: August 30, 2021, 07:34:06 PM »
And you're not seeing a "downside risk", financial and otherwise, in having an entity within said borders that actively and passively hosts terrorist groups, and that will actively inculcate an exceptionally hardline version of Islam, leading to more of more such in the future?

Fenring

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Re: Afghanistan
« Reply #207 on: August 30, 2021, 09:10:09 PM »
And you're not seeing a "downside risk", financial and otherwise, in having an entity within said borders that actively and passively hosts terrorist groups, and that will actively inculcate an exceptionally hardline version of Islam, leading to more of more such in the future?

Not really. Where's the cost? Maybe to the Russians. That's how it was for decades.

alai

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Re: Afghanistan
« Reply #208 on: August 30, 2021, 09:41:30 PM »
To the Russians?  They're not even the Assistant Lesser Satan for those groups.  Interesting take though.

TheDrake

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Re: Afghanistan
« Reply #209 on: August 31, 2021, 12:28:12 AM »
We seem to be much better at creating failed states that are havens for terror than propping up their alternatives. Like trying to prop up the shah, and creating the Islamic revolution, or trying to prop up the Mujahideen and creating the taliban. Our removing Sadam and paving the way for isil.

Maybe we should sit on our f-ing hands for a decade or two.

Maybe we

alai

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Re: Afghanistan
« Reply #210 on: August 31, 2021, 04:28:44 PM »
I'll agree with you on all three of those.  I feel obliged to make that clear, especially as John Bolton is on UK's Channel 4 News right now, and feeling rather unclean that I might happen to agree with him to any extent whatsoever on Afghanistan.

Somehow, I don't see the US sitting on its hands geopolitically for 20 minutes, never mind 20 years.  The trouble is there's a big Glass Hammer mentality.  Huge strike capability, absolutely no staying power whatsoever.  Doesn't bode well for the broader political struggles, say with China.  If you think a bunch of hairy-arsed Hillfolk in the Afghan mountains take a long-term view, try a five-millennia-old empire for size.

Doesn't bode well for Europe either, that can't even be bothered to buy the hammer in the first place, has just had arguably its premier military power (France would disagree, obvs) withdraw from its main multinational organisation, and has no common foreign or defence policy.  And is hardly likely to get one, while its members remain split between "ride shotgun with the US" and "tsk loudly at the US"

Fenring

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Re: Afghanistan
« Reply #211 on: August 31, 2021, 04:53:39 PM »
feeling rather unclean that I might happen to agree with [John Bolton] to any extent whatsoever on Afghanistan.

Probably a good moment to rethink your life...I can't help but think of Ramsey Bolton when I hear his name.

alai

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Re: Afghanistan
« Reply #212 on: August 31, 2021, 08:14:47 PM »
Presumably a third cousin.  But one still has to apply the "if John Bolton told you not to jump off a cliff" test.

Mind you, he shares your cynicism about any sort of "nation building", and sees it entirely as "forward defence".  Now, how you do the one in a sustained manner without also doing the other, sadly the interviewer didn't have the gumption to ask.

alai

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Re: Afghanistan
« Reply #213 on: September 01, 2021, 10:42:14 PM »
The attempt to hang this partially or fully on Trump is underway, as if Trump is currently in charge.
"As if" Trump signed a withdrawal agreement with the Taliban.

I'm idly curious whether you'll pitch yourself as being on the "great agreement" wing of the Trumps, or the "one of the most disgraceful diplomatic bargains on record" Bush-neocon, though I think the likeliest bet is some sort of hyperpartisan contortion that fails to address the matter entirely.

cherrypoptart

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Re: Afghanistan
« Reply #214 on: September 10, 2021, 08:38:38 AM »
I guess it's too late for this now but one option for Afghanistan that we could have brought up for them is the draft.

What do we have now, hundreds of thousands of able-bodied men and women running for their lives as refugees?

I remember during the Korean War how South Korean men would be picked up off the street and abducted into the South Korean Army, given a few days of training, and then sent to the front to fight for their country. Okay, I don't remember it personally but from watching M*A*S*H, but the point is that's what the Afghan government could have done.

Sure some of them might be cowards and traitors but if you've got hundreds of thousands the numbers will work on your side. Many countries have mandatory military service. Singapore, Israel, South Korea with the first two drafting women along with men. It's strange that Afghanistan wouldn't especially in a time like this. Almost like they'd rather get a nice two-fer, a new Islamist country along with the perfect excuse for a nice little hijrah. And Biden fell right into it.

LetterRip

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Re: Afghanistan
« Reply #215 on: September 10, 2021, 10:16:09 AM »
I guess it's too late for this now but one option for Afghanistan that we could have brought up for them is the draft.

We now know why the 'collapse' happened so fast,

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The deals, initially offered early last year, were often described by Afghan officials as cease-fires, but Taliban leaders were in fact offering money in exchange for government forces to hand over their weapons, according to an Afghan officer and a U.S. official.

Over the next year and a half, the meetings advanced to the district level and then rapidly on to provincial capitals, culminating in a breathtaking series of negotiated surrenders by government forces, according to interviews with more than a dozen Afghan officers, police, special operations troops and other soldiers.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2021/08/15/afghanistan-military-collapse-taliban/

We quit paying them to be in the military and the Taliban paid them to surrender.  Mercenary forces don't fight if they don't get paid.  I'm curious how you think a draft would help if the officers are willing to be paid to surrender, and are perfectly ok with desertion?

You still have the mindset that the Taliban are 'invaders' but it is more like a civil war. - most of the people only have tribal loyalty not nationalism.  People not fighting the Taliban aren't due to 'cowardice' etc. - it is that they have no motivation to fight them

LetterRip

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Re: Afghanistan
« Reply #216 on: September 10, 2021, 10:23:13 AM »
Honestly it is quite clever,

the US could probably save hundreds of billions by just buying off officers to surrender whenever we want to conquer a country.

cherrypoptart

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Re: Afghanistan
« Reply #217 on: September 10, 2021, 10:56:16 AM »
So maybe it was as hopeless as Biden in private was saying. I still like my draft idea though. If these people hate the idea of living under the Taliban so much that they are going to flee their country then they should have hated the idea of their country being under Taliban control enough to fight for it. If they are getting betrayed from within by their own government then they need to root out those traitors too. The people fleeing had years to step up and take control of their country. They didn't.

LetterRip

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Re: Afghanistan
« Reply #218 on: September 10, 2021, 01:40:20 PM »
So maybe it was as hopeless as Biden in private was saying. I still like my draft idea though. If these people hate the idea of living under the Taliban so much that they are going to flee their country then they should have hated the idea of their country being under Taliban control enough to fight for it. If they are getting betrayed from within by their own government then they need to root out those traitors too. The people fleeing had years to step up and take control of their country. They didn't.

The 'flee the country' are mostly the wealthier individuals who already have foreign ties and their dependents, the individuals that helped the US, and more 'liberal' women.  Military age men aren't generally the group leaving.  They don't really allow women in their military (there were a bit less than 5,000 women in procurement and administration roles).

"Traitor" doesn't really apply, most loyalties are tribal there isn't a shared national identity.  If Canada, the US, and Mexico were declared as "North Americastan" and a government set up in Mexico, would you consider yourself a 'traitor' for not supporting the government of "North Americastan".

https://thediplomat.com/2020/04/who-is-an-afghan/

https://culturalatlas.sbs.com.au/afghan-culture/afghan-culture-core-concepts

Crunch

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Re: Afghanistan
« Reply #219 on: September 20, 2021, 08:48:10 AM »
So 13 service members were killed in a terrorist attack. One that the Biden administration was aware of but failed to warn the team on the ground. He left them hanging out to die.

But, he was gonna get even! Took out a terrorist target in response. Except:
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Gen. McKenzie, head of U.S. Central Command, to announce no ISIS-K fighters killed in U.S. drone strike in Kabul Aug 29. 10 civilians killed, including 7 children in Toyota. No disciplinary action expected, officials say. US military stands by intel leading to strike.
That's just great, seven kids were killed so Biden could look tough. Just great.

Fenring

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Re: Afghanistan
« Reply #220 on: September 20, 2021, 09:37:20 AM »
That's just great, seven kids were killed so Biden could look tough. Just great.

To be fair this is typical of drone strikes through multiple administrations, both the casual neglect of care, and the lying about the results.

rightleft22

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Re: Afghanistan
« Reply #221 on: September 20, 2021, 01:21:25 PM »
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That's just great, seven kids were killed so Biden could look tough. Just great.

The buck stops at the leader however as a policy and in general its one the people demand or not pay to much attention to.   Kick the US once and we the US will kick you 10X fold... Seven Kids were kills so that America could look tough. As a people we don't get to wash our hands of it just by pointing to the individual "in charge" at the time.

Fenring

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Re: Afghanistan
« Reply #222 on: September 20, 2021, 03:16:59 PM »
The buck stops at the leader however as a policy and in general its one the people demand or not pay to much attention to.

I think it's safe to say that it's not a policy anyone ever demanded, and it's probably more accurate to say that most people are either leery of it or outright freaked out by it. It's one of those things that you hear about, and go "uh...I guess this is something they do now?" And there's nothing you can do about it because Presidents of both parties will do the same.

rightleft22

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Re: Afghanistan
« Reply #223 on: September 20, 2021, 03:40:05 PM »
The buck stops at the leader however as a policy and in general its one the people demand or not pay to much attention to.

I think it's safe to say that it's not a policy anyone ever demanded, and it's probably more accurate to say that most people are either leery of it or outright freaked out by it. It's one of those things that you hear about, and go "uh...I guess this is something they do now?" And there's nothing you can do about it because Presidents of both parties will do the same.

I might agree with you if over the last 20+ years this unfortunate happenings didn't keep happening. At some level the people are ok with it even if 'leery' and or 'freaked' out out, Its not enough to demand a different response.

I'm thinking more generally when I use the word policy, its not explicit but based on the repeated happenings could be implied.

3000 people died in 2001 and vengeance was a key motivator for the 'justice' sought and the 100X + price inflicted which included a lot of civilians directly and indirectly. The demand for vengeance may have been dressed up as 'justice' but we all know what the motivation behind the 'justice' was.
I may be freaked out by such numbers but that does not mean I get to look away and pretend innocence of the methods of which the country reacted.

After the attack on the airfield Biden's words, were words of vengeance, if not explicitly, in tone and I didn't hear to many voices speaking out against such vengeance. I can pretend that the collateral killings were unexpected. But I would be lying.   
« Last Edit: September 20, 2021, 03:49:56 PM by rightleft22 »

cherrypoptart

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Re: Afghanistan
« Reply #224 on: September 20, 2021, 05:04:36 PM »
"Seven Kids were kills so that America could look tough."

They were also killed because of the reliance on over the horizon warfare tactics. It's a tragic irony and quickly fatal repudiation of Biden's assurances too because we were promised that we could still strike effectively at terrorists even after we pulled out using such means and the very first time it results in this type of tragic mistake, one that could have been avoided with ground intel. Unfortunately those ground assets were all sent underground and into hiding or fleeing for their lives when we unleashed the Taliban on them.

TheDrake

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Re: Afghanistan
« Reply #225 on: September 20, 2021, 05:18:14 PM »
I talked before about the kill em all strategy. Twenty years of collaboration "on the ground" only gave us handfuls of dubious strikes in the first place. Just fire away on poor intelligence, we're bound to hit some terrorists.

TheDeamon

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Re: Afghanistan
« Reply #226 on: September 21, 2021, 02:23:27 PM »
"Seven Kids were kills so that America could look tough."

They were also killed because of the reliance on over the horizon warfare tactics. It's a tragic irony and quickly fatal repudiation of Biden's assurances too because we were promised that we could still strike effectively at terrorists even after we pulled out using such means and the very first time it results in this type of tragic mistake, one that could have been avoided with ground intel. Unfortunately those ground assets were all sent underground and into hiding or fleeing for their lives when we unleashed the Taliban on them.

The ongoing battle between the Air Force(and other proxies/equivalents) and every other organization still continues. Technology and air power alone are not, and never will be, adequate to the task of assuring America's military objectives on their own.

Unless we're willing to become a completely callous society as it relates to both how we wage war, and how we view the lives of others in that context.

You're never going to avoid the need for "boots on the ground" the best you can do is limit the number of them you need.

TheDrake

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Re: Afghanistan
« Reply #227 on: September 21, 2021, 06:34:58 PM »
"Seven Kids were kills so that America could look tough."

They were also killed because of the reliance on over the horizon warfare tactics. It's a tragic irony and quickly fatal repudiation of Biden's assurances too because we were promised that we could still strike effectively at terrorists even after we pulled out using such means and the very first time it results in this type of tragic mistake, one that could have been avoided with ground intel. Unfortunately those ground assets were all sent underground and into hiding or fleeing for their lives when we unleashed the Taliban on them.

The ongoing battle between the Air Force(and other proxies/equivalents) and every other organization still continues. Technology and air power alone are not, and never will be, adequate to the task of assuring America's military objectives on their own.

Unless we're willing to become a completely callous society as it relates to both how we wage war, and how we view the lives of others in that context.

You're never going to avoid the need for "boots on the ground" the best you can do is limit the number of them you need.

Tell that to Ender Wiggin. :)