Don’t slavishly follow Obama

The Guardian has just come up with a half-coherent exit strategy from Afghanistan that for once, doesn’t duck the consequence of pull-out. But it does pin an awful lot on the Taliban HQ at Quetta, Pakistan. Why should “regional guarantees” be offered by China, Russia etc. and how would they be enforced? The editorial itself admits there are “many pitfalls” in the case. Still, it challenges the present sloganising from the US and UK governments from Brown and Miliband. Recent pronouncements capture the worst of both worlds, talking of limited expansion and withdrawal at the same time. The Daily Telegraph reveals a strategy with a similar thrust to the Guardian’s but couched in different language, in 423 pages from the Chief of Staff. The bit about tackling the “irreconcilables” is the least convincing. So you could say that the British media left and right and the military are groping towards agreement on how to exit. But will any government follow? First, the present position is torn apart by Simon Jenkins.From Jenkins

“Almostnothing Brown says on Afghanistan makes sense, and he seems painfully aware of it. He must say that soldiers are dying in Helmand to make Britain’s streets safe, even when intelligence reports say the opposite. He must remain obsessed with “training bases”, as if the 9/11 plotters had learned to fly in Tora Bora. He must believe that building an Afghan security force and ridding Hamid Karzai’s regime of corruption can be achieved, and that they hold the keys to a British withdrawal. Pigs will fly.”

Then the more nuanced editorial. Remind you of anything in say 1997 (allowing for a few differences)?

First, it should stop the fighting by offering the Quetta Shura, the Taliban HQ, a ceasefire. Progress should not be contingent on a ceasefire. The Shura have said they will only stop fighting when the foreigners leave. But this is a matter of sequencing, if a ceasefire entails, as it must, a commitment to leave. Second, a Loya Jirga should be called to which the Taliban leadership should be explicitly invited. The obvious question is: will the fundamentalist Taliban leadership bite? Why talk when they are doing so well at fighting? And who exactly would talk, when this religious movement lacks a Sinn Fein, a political arm doing the thinking?

  • Rory Carr

    I did love Milliband’s recent remarks in his keynote speech on Afghanistan that the task was to make the Taliban understand that they were fighting a war which they could not win. It was easy to imagine him looking at his own image in the mirror as he rehearsed, “…yes, fighting a war that cannot be won. That’s it. Fighting a war that cannot be won. That’s what the combatants must be brought to understand…a war that cannot be won.”.

    You gotta admit, it sure does have a certain ring to it.

  • Osama Blair

    “Oh what a tangled web we weave
    When first we practice to deceive”.

    Any sign of shipping Blair and his Cabinet off to The Hague? How about the Pakis who trained AQ? How about China which arms the Pakis and undermines India, which is supporting the Afghan government? How about the Karzai poppy sellers?

    Better to talk about Gerry Adams., Brent Council, the awful NI football team and Brian O’Driscoll. Either that or do your knitting like a good but inoffensive old biddy.

  • 6countyprod

    ‘Don’t slavishly follow Obama’

    I thought this was a joke, at first. The poor guy is lost. He’s scratching his head wondering what he should do next.

    He implemented a new strategy earlier in the year (handed to him by Bush) but has now taken cold feet and is backtracking on his campaign rhetoric.

    If he doesn’t follow the recommendations of those on the ground (McCrystal/Patraeus), the UK needs to get its forces out of there, fast. It obvious that things have gone downhill drastically in Afghanistan since Obama took over, and with the continued dithering it looks like it’s only going to get worse.

  • Brit

    Osama – I think we would all thank you for leaving the P… word out of this. I now you’re referring the the government but it has a pretty long and racist pedigree in the UK.

  • Greenflag

    ‘Then the more nuanced editorial. Remind you of anything in say 1997 (allowing for a few differences)?’

    Why 1997 ? why not 1972 ? an even better parallel with Afghanistan . Now I would not suggest or even hint that Unionist Governments in the period leading up to 1969 were anywhere near as corrupt as Afghanistan has been for the last 30 ? 50 years of it’s existence but then NI was not ‘invaded ‘ by Russians , Americans and British and a host of other ‘allied ‘ nations ! But let’s give credit where credit is due . From the outbreak of civil disobedience and actual shooting against the regime in NI in 1969 it took the British Government all but 3 years to decide that Unionist maladministration and obvious corruption was of such an order that the regional government had to be abolished in 1972 .

    The USA has been in Afghanistan nearly a decade and they have replaced one corrupt regime (although a Godly one :(-i.e the Taliban ) with the poppy pushing corrupt Karzai warlords . Karzais election as President was an unmitigated farce and the USA is spending tens of billions while a quarter of American children are on the verge of hunger .

    America’s national and economic security would be better served by withdrawing from Afghanistan and instead invading Mexico as the corrupt regime in that country sits idly by and allows Mexicans to export drugs to the USA in return for machine guns with which guns the drug lords ‘financed ‘ by American consumers use to kill thousands of Mexican civilians and policemen .

    The added advantage of invading Mexico would be that many Americans particularly those of Hispanic extraction already speak Spanish and being of the same religion as most Mexicans would quickly establish good relations with the citizenry of occupied Mexico . The USA could then
    devote the next 20 years to bringing proper ‘democracy ‘ to Mexico so that Mexicans would enjoy the same lack of health insurance and employment opportunites and low tax small government and skilled financial services sector that the USA does ? .

    I’m sure even Generals McChrystal and Petraeus would approve the logistical advantages of a Mexican occupation to an Afghan one ?

    Then in the fullness of time just as the British Empire did in places like Cyprus , Kenya , Palestine and India by withdrawing at the opportune moment and hurried on by a sufficient amount of gunfire , the USA could withdraw it’s forces and allow Mexico to destroy itself all on it’s ownio?

    The ‘real war’ meanwhile continues in Wall St with the four biggest banks – Goldman Sachs , Citi, Bank of America and Merril Lynch posting their biggest profits ever . Meanwhile on Main St USA small businesses close for lack of credit and millions more are being forced into foreclosure and bankruptcy and unemployment to swell the millions without health care insurance. At some point down the line they should all meet in the overcrowded emergency rooms of American hospitals :(.

    Shure it all makes sense eh :(?

  • Brit

    Comparisions between British imperialism per India and Africa and American neo-imperialism/foreign policy in the post WW2 period are simplistic and misleading. Not that the US has not done some awful things particulalry during the cold war just that it was very different to 19th Centuary imperialism.

    Furthermore, placing all responsibility for the Karzai regime (100% better than the Taliban for the Afghans and the rest of us btw) on the US is to 1) grossly overstate the power of the US to ‘install’ or ‘replace’ regimes at a whim and 2) to grossly downplay the agency and responsibility of the players on the ground in Afghanistan, the allegiances and the popular mood.

    This blaming of the US for all ills and denying or ignoring the responsibility and causal role of third parties – particularly when those third parties are non-white – is almost a form of racism.

    As for Mexico – legalising all drugs is part of the solution, and I think the US has nicked enough of Mexico already!

  • Greenflag

    Brit ,

    ‘grossly overstate the power of the US to ‘install’ or ‘replace’ regimes at a whim ‘

    Go directly to the library shelves do not pass Iran . Take out a tome on how the Shah came to power via British & American whimsical ‘assistance ‘ thus overturning the ‘democratic ‘ will of the Iranian people at the time .

    Try to remember that it’s USA and British troops that are in Afghanistan and not the other way around . It should give you a little more perspective .

  • Greenflag

    Brit

    ‘I think the US has nicked enough of Mexico already!’

    You don’t understand how neo conservative trickle down economics works do you ? The first principle is you can never nick enough . Madoff , Enron , Haliburton, Blackstone , Stanford , and a million others of the ilk should have convinced you by now ?

    First the easy part – you nick from those in the middle. As diminishing margins set in you then you nick from those who have hardly anything worth nicking but as there’s more of them you keep nicking until they have nothing (large tracts of the USA today ). You are aided and abetted in this free enterprise by the banks , legal system , lack of regultion and a compliant thick and greedy self serving political class . Then you move offshore to nick whatever is possible – Iraqi or Angolan oil – government contracts – mercenary protection services – the list is endless . You can call it bringing ‘democracy’ or ‘freedom ‘ if you like to the people , so that they too can grow up to be revenue providers to the masters of the universe .

    The imperialists of course were not interested in bringing popular democracy to the darker hued natives . How could they ? They did’nt want it at home so why should they want it in the colonies ?
    No they focused instead on bringing ‘civilisation’ their civilisation of course .

    The white seaman floating on a raft after his ship sunk in a storm somewhere off the coast of West Africa could not tell where he was as he espied his first glimpse of land in a week .As he floated nearer the coast he saw a strange contraption on the beach with what looked like a man hanging from it .

    As he drew closer he saw it was a gallows on which a native had been hung and left to rot as was the custom in those days .

    Joyfully he exclaimed ‘ ‘Civilisation at last ‘

  • Ellen Ripley

    Nuke them from orbit it’s the only way to be sure.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Greenflag: “You don’t understand how neo conservative trickle down economics works do you ? The first principle is you can never nick enough . Madoff , Enron , Haliburton, Blackstone , Stanford , and a million others of the ilk should have convinced you by now ?”

    Sure, because socialism never produces corruption or theft… Hell, socialism openly steals whole countries, or did you forget? Talk about needing a refresher course in history.

    The difference between socialism and captialism, GF, is that capitalism uses money as a surrogate for power, whilst socialism simply grabs for power, cutting out the middle-man. Sure, they make grand speeches how the looted assets are being held in trust “for the people,” but most of it seems to end up in Swiss and Caribbean bank accounts in the leader’s names.

  • Greenflag

    Dread Cthulhu;

    ‘Sure, because socialism never produces corruption or theft…’

    I don’t recall making that claim but if you think so I’d have to disagree . For every crooked Swedish or Danish or French or German Socialist who is doing time there’s several hundred or thousand of your neo cons . Just look at the UBS foreign bank account scandal .

    ‘ but most of it seems to end up in Swiss and Caribbean bank accounts in the leader’s names.’

    So just like the 14,500 Swiss UBS accounts held by wealthy tax evading Americans who have now owned up to their criminal intent and agreed to now pay the IRS their back taxes and not a one of them socialist or even an African dictator .

    The Swedes and Norwegians so enjoy having their country stolen from them by the ‘socialists ‘ that they keep voting them into government . The Norwegian sovereign wealth fund (the revenue profit from North Sea oil , has invested 50,000 dollars for every child born in Norway which is 50,000 dollars more than any American kid gets from American oil companies .

    You might want to broaden your understanding of the word ‘socialism ‘ Just as there is social market capitalism and authoritarian capitalism and free for all ‘bankrupt ‘ capitalism USA style there are several forms of socialism with the one truly kleptomanic hereditary monarchical communist form still extant in North Korea .

    But nobody I know would refer to North Korea as a socialist state . That would be like calling Goldman Sachs a non selfish and charitable institution .

  • Wilde Rover

    Brit,

    “I think we would all thank you for leaving the P… word out of this. I now you’re referring the the government but it has a pretty long and racist pedigree in the UK.”

    Predator drones may break my bones but names will never hurt me.

    “the Karzai regime (100% better than the Taliban for the Afghans and the rest of us btw)”

    I know, right? Remember how heroin used to be in such short supply? I know I always raise a syringe to the Karzai Brothers when I chase the dragon.

    “This blaming of the US for all ills and denying or ignoring the responsibility and causal role of third parties – particularly when those third parties are non-white – is almost a form of racism.”

    I know, these sand wogs are just as uppity as the bog wogs and just don’t appreciate all the good things they can learn from the White Man.

    “As for Mexico – legalising all drugs is part of the solution,”

    Got to sell all that excess smack somewhere.

  • 6countyprod

    I’m sure Slugger readers will appreciate this enlightened article from The Gray Lady.

    Killer Quote – in relation to Middle East peace: Peacemaking takes strategic skill. But we see no sign that President Obama and Mr. Mitchell were thinking more than one move down the board.

    The fate of the world is in the hands of an amateur!

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