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Can We Succeed in Afghanistan?
Townhall.com ^ | August 21, 2009 | Mona Charen

Posted on 08/21/2009 5:09:41 AM PDT by Kaslin

He was certainly brave, but was he crazy? That's what I wondered when I picked up Rory Stewart's "The Places in Between," an account of the Scotsman's 2002 solo walk across Afghanistan. That's right, he walked. Many Afghans doubted he would survive the journey. Just weeks after the fall of the Taliban, in the dead of winter, in some of the most remote and difficult terrain in the inhabited world, he went from village to village on foot. Relying on the tradition of hospitality, Stewart found welcome, sustenance, and shelter (mostly, but not always) graciously offered by people who had very little to share.

Stewart, a British Foreign Service officer, (he served in southern Iraq after the Iraq War -- the subject of another good book, "The Prince of the Marshes") and a Harvard professor, relied upon his knowledge of Farsi and Urdu, his understanding of Afghan history and culture, and his own hardy constitution to get him through. The portrayal of Afghanistan that resulted was illuminating and honest. He was unsparing about the deception and cruelty he witnessed, as well as the warmth and fellowship. I recall in particular the vignette about local children throwing stones at a dog for fun. For several years, Stewart lived in Kabul, where he established a charitable foundation seeking to promote local crafts.

So when Stewart raises a yellow flag about our escalating commitment to Afghanistan, we should take notice.

The rationale that President Obama has offered for our ramped-up engagement in Afghanistan, Stewart argues in a piece for the London Review of Books, runs as follows: We cannot permit the Taliban to return to power or they will revive the alliance with al-Qaida and will plot more catastrophic attacks on the United States. In order to defeat the Taliban, we must create a functioning state in the country, and in order to create a functioning state, we must defeat the Taliban. Obama seems keen to increase our role in Afghanistan to highlight the contrast with his predecessor. Bush, Obama ceaselessly repeats, fought "a war of choice" whereas Obama will fight only "a war of necessity."

Obama argues that Afghanistan represents such a war. But does it? In order to achieve the goal of a "stable" Afghanistan, President Obama has deployed (for starters) 17,000 more U.S. troops at a preliminary cost of $5.5 billion. His stated goals for this poor, decentralized, and shell-shocked nation match in ambition and grandiosity the claims that George W. Bush made for a revived Iraq -- but with arguably less foundation. "There are no mass political parties in Afghanistan and the Kabul government lacks the base, strength or legitimacy of the Baghdad government," Stewart writes. There is almost no economic activity in the nation aside from international aid and the drug trade. Stewart notes that while Afghanistan is not a hopeless case, it is not at all clear that it is "the most dangerous place on Earth" as advocates of a massively increased U.S. and British role argue. In fact, neighboring Pakistan, sheltering al-Qaida (including, in all likelihood, bin Laden) and possessing nuclear weapons, represents a far graver threat to our national security. Stewart believes that bin Laden operates out of Pakistan precisely because Pakistan, a more robust state than Afghanistan, restricts U.S. operations. Nor is it clear that Afghanistan poses more of a threat than, say, Somalia or Yemen. Obama promises a "comprehensive approach" that will promote "a more capable and accountable Afghan government ... advance security, opportunity and justice ... (and) develop an economy that isn't dominated by illicit drugs."

This is more than we have the knowledge or ability to accomplish, Stewart argues. As for the necessity, he is unconvinced that the Taliban should loom so large as a threat to the West. He thinks it unlikely that the Taliban will regain control of the entire country (though they do control some provincial capitals). Unlike the situation in 1996, the Afghans now have experience of Taliban rule. "Millions of Afghans disliked their brutality, incompetence and primitive attitudes. The Hazara, Tajik and Uzbek populations are wealthier, more established and more powerful than they were in 1996 and would strongly resist any attempt by the Taliban to occupy their areas." In any case, a more circumscribed foreign role should be sufficient to prevent the revival of terrorist training camps -- as it has since 2001.

One might have thought, listening to the opponents of the Iraq War, that a certain modesty about nation building would be axiomatic among liberals. Instead, we are witnessing something else entirely -- the approach is now brainlessly partisan. Your nation building is a war crime. My nation building is a national security necessity. Stewart's approach is refreshingly impartial and thought provoking.


TOPICS: Editorial; Foreign Affairs; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: afghanistan; bhodod; monacharen; oef

1 posted on 08/21/2009 5:09:41 AM PDT by Kaslin
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To: Kaslin

Can we win in Afghanistan?
Yes, if we turn the job over to our military and get the hell out of their way and just let them do it.
Ya hear me stupid politicians? Obozo?


2 posted on 08/21/2009 5:12:44 AM PDT by Joe Boucher (google; operation garden spot and REX84)
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To: Joe Boucher

.....Can we win in Afghanistan?......
.....if we turn the job over to our military ......

The war began to find and destroy the terrorists operating there and bringing war within our ocean protection. We from the beginning used Afghan friends to carry out the military campaign. That war was won. Al Queda is gone, apparently fled to Pakistan or possibly Somilia or both.

The original enemy is gone but we are now engaged with our original allies to eliminate their enemy, the Taliban. They are the population of the country.

It is not possible to destroy the radical religionist, they can merely be contained. As long as they have the Islamic fanatic leadership they will have the will and some form of war will continue. There will never be a military victory.

There must be a religious victory from within the Afghan mosques


3 posted on 08/21/2009 5:25:07 AM PDT by bert (K.E. N.P. +12 . fasl el-khitab)
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To: Kaslin

....I got my doubts on Afganistan....Iraq at least was a country....Afganistan is just a bunch of tribes.


4 posted on 08/21/2009 5:32:53 AM PDT by STONEWALLS
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To: Kaslin

Can we win in Afghanistan?


As long as we are not willing to depopulate the whole “country” and ensure that no one could ever settle again lets say for the next 100 years (and we know this is not even an option). NO. No one can win anything in Afghanistan. People there will never change. If the tribes don´t fight the allies they will contine to fight each other again. this is all they know and all they have ever done in their life.


5 posted on 08/21/2009 5:44:16 AM PDT by Jonny foreigner
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To: Kaslin

So “victory” is off the table, now we’re talking about “succeeding”, next will be “quagmire” or “Viet Nam”, followed by “retreat with dignity”, finishing up with Barry bowing to the next Jihadi leader of the country. Oh boy......


6 posted on 08/21/2009 5:45:45 AM PDT by SERKIT ("Blazing Saddles" explains it all.....)
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To: Kaslin

I didn’t hear any answers, just questions. If the Tall-e-bon can take over northern Pock-e-ston with little trouble, then it would seem that S. Afghanistan will always be vulnerable. The Tall-e-bon did a good job during the recent elections. So yes, we can win - if, and only if, we let the best military leaders define the strategy, rules of engagement, fund them, use drones, and pressure Pock-e-ston to stop funding the enemy, kick into high gear, and rip their heart out for good.


7 posted on 08/21/2009 5:49:09 AM PDT by uncommonsense (Liberals see what they believe; conservatives believe what they see.)
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To: Kaslin

We should have focused on Afghanistan immediately after 9/11 and done what was necessary then.


8 posted on 08/21/2009 5:53:08 AM PDT by stuartcr (If we are truly made in the image of God, why do we have faults?)
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To: Kaslin
You can hurt the Taliban big time, probably splintering them into self interest factions, by simply destroying the poppy fields.
9 posted on 08/21/2009 6:04:06 AM PDT by hflynn (The One is really the Number Two)
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To: Kaslin

bttt


10 posted on 08/21/2009 6:05:29 AM PDT by silverleaf (If we are astroturf, why are the democrats trying to mow us?)
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To: Joe Boucher
Can we win in Afghanistan? Yes, if we turn the job over to our military and get the hell out of their way and just let them do it. Ya hear me stupid politicians? Obozo?

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

THANK YOU. If we fight like we are in a WAR and stop moaning, groaning, and whining over every misstep or mistake that results in a civilian casualty of COURSE we can win the war.

I'm not suggesting that we should but we could kill every breathing soul in Afghanistan. The problem with American wars lately (since the 1970's) is that we fight like we are chipping away at a boulder with a 1 oz rock hammer instead of getting out the mechanical 1 ton sledge hammer and crushing the boulder. We shouldn't play.

We should kill the bad guys and leave. If a few innocents get in the way, that's a terrible NECESSITY OF WINNING.

11 posted on 08/21/2009 6:11:04 AM PDT by politicalmerc (If Birthers are so silly, then why not show the BC and put them to shame?)
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To: Kaslin
Sure we can win:

By buzzing the enemy instead of bombing him

By sending more troops but not a whole lot of troops, for domestic political, not military, reasons

By prohibiting troops from attacking the enemy when they hide behind civilians

By releasing or giving Miranda rights to captured terrorists

By having our secretary of state lament that our combat troops are not subject to prosecution by the International Courts

By threatening to prosecute US officials who in 2002 worked as allies with an anti-taliban tribe who mistreated, in traditional cultural fashion, taliban POW’s

By not calling this a war and not calling the enemy terrorists

By the totally cool totally innovative US policy of offering “millions” of dollars to Afghan farmers to stop growing poppies

By continuing to characterize the “challenge” from al Qaeda in Iraq and the “challenge” from al Qaeda in Afghanistan- as two separate conflicts, one legitimate and one illegal

By emphasizing that our president has Hussein as a middle name and shows his muslim savvy by saying Pokky ston and the Tolly bon

By withdrawing the US from confronting al Qaeda in Iraq and stepping up fighting the taliban in Afghanistan.
(PS lefties- we know you like to say Iraq never attacked us so- did the taliban attack us on 9-11?)

12 posted on 08/21/2009 6:22:50 AM PDT by silverleaf (If we are astroturf, why are the democrats trying to mow us?)
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To: Kaslin

The real question is, is it worth the blood and treasure?


13 posted on 08/21/2009 6:36:53 AM PDT by RAO1125 (Neoconservatism:Failed. Socialism:Failing (again). Next up: Libertarianism)
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To: politicalmerc

THANK YOU. If we fight like we are in a WAR and stop moaning, groaning, and whining over every misstep or mistake that results in a civilian casualty of COURSE we can win the war.

I’m not suggesting that we should but we could kill every breathing soul in Afghanistan. The problem with American wars lately (since the 1970’s) is that we fight like we are chipping away at a boulder with a 1 oz rock hammer instead of getting out the mechanical 1 ton sledge hammer and crushing the boulder. We shouldn’t play.

We should kill the bad guys and leave. If a few innocents get in the way, that’s a terrible NECESSITY OF WINNING.


Yeah but even if we would kill every breathing soul in afghanistan it would not fix the “main problem” because after we leave foreign terrorist can use this “land” again to build their training camps. Shure we “could” (in theory) kill every one there but in the end “we” just would have killed millions of people who never have been a dirrect security threat for us. Because neither the Taliban nor the rest of the people who are living in afghanistan (btw. the difference between both isn´t that much) is a dirrect treath to our countries. of course they would never fit in anything like our societies but to kill them “only” because there IS NO WAY to change their way of life, will solve nothing nor will it kill terrorism. this is why no one can or could ever win anything in afghanistan in history.


14 posted on 08/21/2009 6:57:59 AM PDT by Jonny foreigner
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To: Kaslin
Afghan war poll triggers Obama political alarms

The rats, as usual, are feckless.

15 posted on 08/21/2009 11:15:38 AM PDT by neverdem (Xin loi minh oi)
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To: hflynn
You can hurt the Taliban big time, probably splintering them into self interest factions, by simply destroying the poppy fields.

The war on drugs has been such a fantastic success. /s

16 posted on 08/21/2009 1:05:35 PM PDT by neverdem (Xin loi minh oi)
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To: hflynn

As I understand it, that would crush the livelihoods of many villagers, therefore making them enemies. You can’t remove a revenue source without finding a way to replace it.


17 posted on 08/21/2009 1:07:09 PM PDT by Future Snake Eater ("Get out of the boat and walk on the water with us!”--Sen. Joe Biden)
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To: neverdem
This would be a strategic war on drugs rather than tactical war that is doomed to failure. Comparable to destroying a factory that produces tanks rather than destroying the tanks after they leave the factory. Works every time.
18 posted on 08/21/2009 1:54:27 PM PDT by hflynn (The One is really the Number Two)
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To: Future Snake Eater

They are already the enemy. Where do you think the heroin produced from their poppy fields ends up? Screw them. I don’t give a crap if they all starve to death after we wipe their poppy fields off the face of the earth.


19 posted on 08/21/2009 1:57:58 PM PDT by hflynn (The One is really the Number Two)
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To: hflynn
They are already the enemy.

No, they aren't.

Where do you think the heroin produced from their poppy fields ends up?

Europe and parts of Asia. It's their problem.

I don’t give a crap if they all starve to death after we wipe their poppy fields off the face of the earth.

That's not really our mission there, is it?

20 posted on 08/21/2009 2:02:00 PM PDT by Future Snake Eater ("Get out of the boat and walk on the water with us!”--Sen. Joe Biden)
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To: Future Snake Eater

You are and idiot.


21 posted on 08/21/2009 2:02:46 PM PDT by hflynn (The One is really the Number Two)
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To: Kaslin

No.


22 posted on 08/21/2009 2:05:22 PM PDT by wtc911 ("How you gonna get back down that hill?")
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To: Future Snake Eater
From the LA Times a ling time ago

Supplies of highly potent Afghan heroin in the United States are growing so fast that the pure white powder is rapidly overtaking lower-quality Mexican heroin, prompting fears of increased addiction and overdoses.

Heroin-related deaths in Los Angeles County soared from 137 in 2002 to 239 in 2005, a jump of nearly 75% in three years, a period when other factors contributing to overdose deaths remained unchanged, experts said. The jump in deaths was especially prevalent among users older than 40, who lack the resilience to recover from an overdose of unexpectedly strong heroin, according to a study by the county's Office of Health Assessment and Epidemiology.

"The rise of heroin from Afghanistan is our biggest rising threat in the fight against narcotics," said Orange County sheriff's spokesman Jim Amormino. "We are seeing more seizures and more overdoses." -----------

23 posted on 08/21/2009 2:07:11 PM PDT by hflynn (The One is really the Number Two)
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To: hflynn
You are and idiot.

lol...

24 posted on 08/21/2009 2:22:39 PM PDT by Future Snake Eater ("Get out of the boat and walk on the water with us!”--Sen. Joe Biden)
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To: hflynn

Think of it as some social Darwinism.

Now, tell me how starving tribes to death is going to solve our problems in Afghanistan?


25 posted on 08/21/2009 2:23:57 PM PDT by Future Snake Eater ("Get out of the boat and walk on the water with us!”--Sen. Joe Biden)
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To: Future Snake Eater
I'm talking about starving the herorin trade. If they happen to starve to death because they couldn't get passed trading heroin that is their doing not ours.
26 posted on 08/21/2009 2:38:34 PM PDT by hflynn (The One is really the Number Two)
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To: Future Snake Eater
Hey, I apologize for that comment. I followed up with an LA Times article, several years old, which clearly stated Afghan heroin is hitting the streets of America big, big time.

I know. it is the LA Times.

27 posted on 08/21/2009 2:42:31 PM PDT by hflynn (The One is really the Number Two)
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To: hflynn

It’s not like those people can just get a job at the local 7-11 if we cut out their current line of work.

So how will starving them to death accomplish our mission in Afghanistan?

The simple truth is it can’t and it won’t. Much as I can’t stand friggin’ hajis or anything about them, it’s their turf, it’s their country, and they’re gonna have to live with what we leave them. If we leave them nothing, it’s only a matter of time until they hit us again, only this time with many more devout followers.

We have to think harder than “just starve them to death.”


28 posted on 08/21/2009 2:42:53 PM PDT by Future Snake Eater ("Get out of the boat and walk on the water with us!”--Sen. Joe Biden)
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To: Future Snake Eater

I don’t think so. When they are death, because they chose to starve to death, they are no longer a problem. Draining the swamp, like tax cuts, works every time.


29 posted on 08/21/2009 2:45:59 PM PDT by hflynn (The One is really the Number Two)
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To: Kaslin; FARS; Ernest_at_the_Beach
Stewart believes that bin Laden operates out of Pakistan precisely because Pakistan, a more robust state than Afghanistan, restricts U.S. operations.

While Obama restricts operations in Afghanistan.

I submit he is engineering attrition and humiliation of the America he despises.

He is an Islamo-Communist mole.


30 posted on 08/21/2009 2:54:47 PM PDT by PhilDragoo (Hussein: Islamo-Commie from Kenya)
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To: bert
It is not possible to destroy the radical religionist, they can merely be contained. As long as they have the Islamic fanatic leadership they will have the will and some form of war will continue. There will never be a military victory.

There must be a religious victory from within the Afghan mosques


I agree with what you've said, and I do so as the father of a young Marine in Afghanistan. It's truly a 'Hearts and Minds' type of campaign. We can't change their way of thinking overnight, but we can work to ensure that future generations will not follow the radical Islamofascist types. Unfortunately many Americans don't have the patience for such a campaign. Too many think that wars can be easily won and the victors go home.
31 posted on 08/21/2009 3:01:22 PM PDT by af_vet_rr
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To: Jonny foreigner
No one can win anything in Afghanistan.

You should have more faith in our soldiers and our Marines, as well as our NATO allies.
32 posted on 08/21/2009 3:05:01 PM PDT by af_vet_rr
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To: af_vet_rr

......Unfortunately many Americans don’t have the patience for such a campaign.......

I don’t think the majority of Americans really think about the war in Afghanistan. The anti war sentiment is mostly the bogus moonbats who oppose war in general. The heat is gone and
there is not the support to take to the streets in adequate force to prevail.

The effort now is “to ensure that future generations will not follow the radical Islamofascist types” as you said. It is a long process


33 posted on 08/21/2009 4:05:55 PM PDT by bert (K.E. N.P. +12 . fasl el-khitab)
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To: hflynn
This would be a strategic war on drugs rather than tactical war that is doomed to failure.

You might as well have a strategic war on human nature. Look at alcohol prohibition in the USA, or in Muslim countries now. There will always be a black market for human needs, wants and desires.

We should pay them a better price than the Taliban pays for the raw opium. We can sell at cost the raw opium to countries with the ability to make and legitimate need for morphine.

34 posted on 08/21/2009 5:29:43 PM PDT by neverdem (Xin loi minh oi)
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To: Joe Boucher
"Yes, if we turn the job over to our military and get the hell out of their way and just let them do it."

The reverberation of the Viet Nam lesson!

35 posted on 08/21/2009 8:36:26 PM PDT by editor-surveyor (The beginning of the O'Bummer administration looks a lot like the end of the Nixon administration)
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To: editor-surveyor

exactly


36 posted on 08/22/2009 2:41:06 AM PDT by Joe Boucher (google; operation garden spot and REX84)
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To: af_vet_rr

You should have more faith in our soldiers and our Marines, as well as our NATO allies.


Oh i do have faith in the troops.
It´s the overall “mission” i have a problem with.
i mean what is the goal in afghanistan?
Because it´s hard to win anything as long as nobody
knows what the Hell “we” are fighting for.
Is it to fight al quaida? (then it´s now the wrong country because they are allready in pakistan). 99% of the people the soldiers kill in afghanistan have nothing to do with al quaida. is it to fight the opium trade? (i guess not because the troops are not allowed to destroy “or most times even visit” the poppy fields). Is it for democracy? (something they don´t know and most of them even don´t want anyway and btw. will get eroded as soon as “our” troops leave). is it to back up corrupt (and believe me they are corrupt to the core) afghan politicians to sometimes act as western puppy. btw. the very limited “power” of this so called government ends at the city limits of Kabul. and if we would not use “our” troops to protect them their influence would not go even this “far”. i could go on and on. this is why i don´t think we can win in afghanistan. it´s because i think there exists nothing in afghanistan which could be won.


37 posted on 08/22/2009 3:54:02 AM PDT by Jonny foreigner
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