The Miserable Lives of Afghans

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Sephiroth9611
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The Miserable Lives of Afghans

Post#1 » Tue Feb 28, 2012 3:08 pm

So let's start this off right with a topic that is a bit serious and involves both religion and politics.

The other day, the Afghans went crazy when it came out that some US soldiers burned some copies of the Quran. It hasn't been widely reported in the media, but I've read that prisoners were using their copies to pass secret messages in jail and that the copies were confiscated by the guards. These copies were then inadvertently included in waste to be burned and that when the second group of soldiers realized/were told what they were burning, they did their best to save the copies from being completely burned up.

Now of course such fine distinctions are unimportant. A slight against Allah and His Word must be met with revenge. So now all hell has broken loose over there. Obama has apologized, but this has done nothing to rectify the situation. In fact, it is so bad that Afghan soldiers partnered with NATO troops have fragged their western partners. NATO advisers have been withdrawn from the Afghan ministries in Kabul lest some Afghan walk up and shoot the NATO in the back of the head at his desk.

Yesterday it was suggested by Newt Gingrich that the US should pull out of Afghanistan (I paraphrase here), we should leave them to live their miserable lives if they insist on not wanting us around to help them be unmiserable.

The US has been in Afghanistan for ten years along with its NATO allies. Afghanistan is /still/ the hind end of the earth, about as civilized now as it was ten years ago, meaning it's about as civilized now as it was a thousand years ago.

What should the US do? Pull out completely? Hole up at one of the major air bases like Bagram and let the Afghans do whatever?
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Keefy
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Re: The Miserable Lives of Afghans

Post#2 » Wed Feb 29, 2012 4:41 pm

I don't know, to be honest.

If the "mission" in Afghanistan was/is to build a country that will not breed extremists, and bring western culture and education to the area, this was never going to be accomplished in a period of ten years. Even within internally adjusted dictatorships (Singapore, Libya spring to mind) it takes generationsm of iron-fist rule to make small changes on the mindset. If the present funding continues, it is possible that it will be accomplished, but it may take a hundred years before the change is noticeable.

On the other hand, if the "mission" is to capture the leaders of the Taliban, and everything else is an obstacle in the way, then it seems like a pointless endeavour. Even if the heads are in Afghanistan, and there seems great suspicion that they are not, if you capture them there will be others to take their place. A man hunt for an international religious organisation doesn't strike me as a terribly productive concept at the best of times, given that perceived aggression tends to militarize otherwise non-militant members anyway.

Again, and I'm sure some will disagree, I feel that the entire conflict in Afghanistan was more a piece of electioneering than coherent foreign policy. It may well come down to US public perception of whether the Obama administration would be heroes for pulling out, or cowards/incompetant for not staying in.

I also suspect that if the US does pull out, within 10 years Russia will move in, and we'll see the whole situation occur again.

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SOLDIERofficer81
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Re: The Miserable Lives of Afghans

Post#3 » Thu Mar 01, 2012 4:50 am

We've touched on this before and I am still in favor of the US putting itself behind a few heavily fortified perimeters from where it can strike anywhere in Afghanistan if necessary. From there, the US needs to stop the foolish quest of nationbuilding (which might have been possible after the Sov adventure in Afghan) and take a page from the British. Time for the US to dominate Afghanistan by dividing the Afghans, playing them off each other and being the biggest kid on the block.
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Sephiroth9611
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Re: The Miserable Lives of Afghans

Post#4 » Thu Mar 01, 2012 4:35 pm

Keefy, I don't think you can call the invasion of Afghanistan electioneering except insofar as Bush obviously had to do something to deal with AQ and its sponsors the Taliban or else face the wrath of the US public as a do-nothing president. It's hard to remember what all was going on before 9/11, but Bush had already taken a hit to his rep due to the whole Red Chinese/Spy Plane fiasco.

I totally agree that the only way Afghanistan is ever going to get its act together is through a dictatorship that lasts a hundred years, at least two generations. I agree with SOLDIER that if it was ever going to happen peacefully, it should have happened back just after the Soviets pulled out. Of course, part of the reason AQ formed was because after the Sovs were ousted, the US left Afghanistan to rot. Totally a missed opportunity.
Since October 3rd, 2000 | "Quite a thing to live in fear, isn't it? That's what it is to be a slave."

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Keefy
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Re: The Miserable Lives of Afghans

Post#5 » Sun Mar 04, 2012 4:56 pm

That is exactly what I mean though, Seph. Had Bush not gone to war with someone over it, it seems highly unlikely that he would have been re-elected. The war with Afghanistan did more to win approval ratings in an electoral campaign than provide any long-term foreign policy benefits. The morality of using a military conflict to win an election aside, it seems peculiar that the US have elected to remain there for so long. Frankly, after the election was won, I would've expected them to pull out then - and if not then certainly following the death of Osama.

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Sephiroth9611
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Re: The Miserable Lives of Afghans

Post#6 » Sun Mar 04, 2012 11:16 pm

So what would have been the path that wouldn't have been electioneering? The Taliban wasn't about to give up Osama.
Since October 3rd, 2000 | "Quite a thing to live in fear, isn't it? That's what it is to be a slave."

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Keefy
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Re: The Miserable Lives of Afghans

Post#7 » Mon Mar 05, 2012 5:27 pm

Osama became a figurehead for the event, and the conquering of that figurehead became an electoral issue. Given what Al Qaeeda and the Taliban are, the conquest of Osama was not, to my mind, coherent foreign policy.

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SOLDIERofficer81
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Re: The Miserable Lives of Afghans

Post#8 » Mon Mar 05, 2012 5:33 pm

Keefy wrote:That is exactly what I mean though, Seph. Had Bush not gone to war with someone over it, it seems highly unlikely that he would have been re-elected. The war with Afghanistan did more to win approval ratings in an electoral campaign than provide any long-term foreign policy benefits. The morality of using a military conflict to win an election aside, it seems peculiar that the US have elected to remain there for so long. Frankly, after the election was won, I would've expected them to pull out then - and if not then certainly following the death of Osama.
The Vietnam Syndrome is alive and well in the United States. An outright withdrawal without something to point to as a victory or success would be demonized as total failure. You are correct about Osama. Unfortunately, by the time the SEALs got to him on Obama's watch, he was long past his shelf-life as a 'victory kill.' If Bush had done it in the first few years, I think it would have been a good point to say 'mission accomplished.' But after ten+ years, the US is in too deep for one kill to make that much of a difference.
Last edited by SOLDIERofficer81 on Wed Mar 14, 2012 4:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Ambigore
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Re: The Miserable Lives of Afghans

Post#9 » Fri Mar 09, 2012 5:26 pm

SOLDIERofficer81 wrote:We've touched on this before and I am still in favor of the US putting itself behind a few heavily fortified perimeters from where it can strike anywhere in Afghanistan if necessary. From there, the US needs to stop the foolish quest of nationbuilding (which might have been possible after the Sov adventure in Afghan) and take a page from the British. Time for the US to dominate Afghanistan by dividing the Afghans, playing them off each other and being the biggest kid on the block.


+1

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Sephiroth9611
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Re: The Miserable Lives of Afghans

Post#10 » Wed Mar 14, 2012 4:27 pm

A few days ago, a US soldier went off the grid and started fragging Afghan civilians, women and children. The death toll is at 16 last I saw.

Does this put a final nail in the coffin?
Since October 3rd, 2000 | "Quite a thing to live in fear, isn't it? That's what it is to be a slave."

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