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Attack on British Council in Kabul
August 19, 2011 1:24 AM   Subscribe

"Today is our independence day from Britain. They recognised our independence 92 years ago; today's attack was marking that day" - 12 dead confirmed thus far as a result of suicide attack on British Council building in Kabul.
posted by numberstation (88 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
"A high hope for a low heaven"

The British Council-supported production of Love's Labour's Lost in 2005 was the first performance of a Shakespeare play in Afghanistan in over 17 years. The play was performed in the Afghan language of Dari and the capacity audience responded enthusiastically to the eternal and universal themes of Shakespeare’s play and to the local references and music.


Love's labours ... lost.
posted by chavenet at 1:51 AM on August 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


10 fucking years of non-stop war. I AM SICK OF THIS.
posted by srboisvert at 2:07 AM on August 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


10 fucking years of non-stop war. I AM SICK OF THIS.

I agree. We are wasting our time, money, and people in Afghanistan.
posted by Jehan at 2:18 AM on August 19, 2011 [10 favorites]


I agree entirely with the sentiments of Craig Murray (ex-British ambassador to Uzbekistan):

'I am very sorry to hear of the attack on the British Council office in Kabul. I do hope that, as details of the dead and injured start to come in, the count does not rise higher, whoever they are, and that the British Council staff are safe. I am a great believer in the contribution of cultural diplomacy in international peace and understanding, even if I do not support every detail of the British Council.

But this attack does represent, yet again, the folly of the occupation of Afghanistan. It has reinforced old anti-British sentiment dating back to our first invasion of 1839 and a series since. It will be generations before we might be forgiven our bombings, and I can guarantee you that the British Council will not be able to maintain any effective operation in Kabul after our troops slink away defeated.

The British Council opening there at all is empty bravado that has now cost lives.'
posted by numberstation at 2:26 AM on August 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


Bombs again? How boring. How unimaginative. They should have dressed up as native Americans, dumped tea into a lake, and complained about taxes.

That would have shown those British!
posted by three blind mice at 2:30 AM on August 19, 2011


Non-violent protests? Civil disobedience? Bah!

It's Ramadan! Let's celebrate with some death!
posted by cleancut at 3:02 AM on August 19, 2011


Sounds like about nine attackers tried to storm the compound, but were repelled primarily by Afghan forces, with the aid of Ghurka. Almost all the dead were either local police or civilians killed by the bombings. At least one terrorist managed to make his way into part of the compound, and is pinned down.

The basic truth here is that the Taliban are killing Afghans, but are failing to achieve their objectives and are being taken out -- primarily and increasingly by the Afghan people -- wherever and whenever they choose to make their presence known.

These attacks may spook some people, but they certainly won't stop the people of Kabul from fighting and dying in an attempt to repel and reject murderous religious totalitarians. The symbolism of the target is lost on a local public that overwhelmingly and increasingly rejects the Taliban and their murderous, indiscriminate tactics.
posted by markkraft at 3:42 AM on August 19, 2011 [5 favorites]


Awful as this is, it makes sense by the perverted logic of the Taliban. For them, institutions like the British Council are far more threatening than any army.
posted by Skeptic at 3:45 AM on August 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


My thoughts are with the families of those affected.
posted by Meatafoecure at 3:46 AM on August 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


"It's funny... when you talk with (Afghan police) they say 'I want to protect my country' . . . 'we're building a police force so strong, just the uniform will scare people.' There is a desire there to see this country succeed. One of the things I was most impressed by was a woman I met . . . who is an MP. She has two daughters. She's a single mom. Her dad was assasinated, her brothers were assasinated . . . She is risking her life. She has been shot at. The Taliban tried to drive her off the road. The Taliban shot at her with her daughters in the car on a roadtrip. But she says "Here's the important thing. I believe my country can succeed and I'm willing to risk my life to see that."

So there is this passion there. We get so caught up on how many dead here and how many dead there and we sometimes don't get to hear so much about these stories of courage and determination... people who really want to see their country advance... progress."

"We kind of go in with a slightly arrogant American perspective and talk about this ten year long war, right? But the Afghans would say 'Ten years? What are you talking about? We've been at war for three decades' . . . For the last thirty years, all they've known is war there. And in some respects, this is relatively peaceful. You talk to a lot of people who had fled the country when the Taliban had taken over and relatively it's peaceful in some parts of the country."

Dan Farber, CBS News, reporting today after returning back from Kandahar.
posted by markkraft at 4:12 AM on August 19, 2011


Markkraft has it right - the only dead are Afghani, and it was mostly Afghani Police who were doing the fighting (tho it really helps to have the Ghurkas around when the balloon goes up.)

On the other hand, Bin Laden is dead, Al Qaeda is broken. Mission accomplished, time to come home.
posted by Slap*Happy at 4:13 AM on August 19, 2011


We fell victim to one of the classic blunders, the most famous of which is 'never get involved in a land war in Asia'.
posted by Hogshead at 4:15 AM on August 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


We get so caught up on how many dead here and how many dead there...

It's important not to get distracted by trivialities.

Christ, what an asshole.
posted by Trurl at 4:18 AM on August 19, 2011


(Correction: Seth Doane was the reporter who just returned from Afghanistan, interviewed by Dan Farber.)
posted by markkraft at 4:20 AM on August 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


On the other hand, Bin Laden is dead, Al Qaeda is broken. Mission accomplished, time to come home.

Wha' chou talking about Willis? Iran is still spinning its centrifuges and saying unneighborly things about Israel. The United States and its erstwhile allies didn't go through all the trouble of invading, occupying, and building massive permanent military bases in two countries that border Iran just to leave without dropping some freedom bombs on that beleaguered nation.
posted by three blind mice at 4:41 AM on August 19, 2011


We get so caught up on how many dead here and how many dead there...

It's important not to get distracted by trivialities.

Christ, what an asshole.


So, he's one anecdote up on you in the scoreboard. Let's hear your anecdote about the Afghani woman who is horrified by the dead here and there as compared to the dead over the last 30 years.
posted by spicynuts at 6:00 AM on August 19, 2011


10 years? July 17, 1973 Daoud Khan takes control in a bloodless coup. In September 20 a plot is uncovered involving the ISI and CIA to overthrow the new regime which is too cosey with the Russians for Washington and Islamabad. A second plot is detected in December of that year. This began the bloodshed. Over the next few years te US would work with Pakistan to radicalize the nation, assassinating moderates, breaking civil society. By 1979 the Russians were in so deep trying to keep their proxies in power they invaded.

I fear we are like some mad surgeon. One who has long since disfigured his patient beyond recognition. Yet we remain standing over her with scaple in hand demanding to make yet another cut to bring some mesaure beauty. It is a great debt we owe these people, but there is nothing we can do to repay it. Perhaps we should seek some penance elsewhere and ask that the grace of God who forgives the penintant wash over us all.
posted by humanfont at 6:21 AM on August 19, 2011 [8 favorites]


The irony, humanfont, is that if you changed some dates slightly and some names you'd have also just described Iran.
posted by spicynuts at 6:26 AM on August 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Damn, the British Council? When I was growing up the British Council Library was THE PLACE to get english-language books. I still remember being blown away by The Lord of the Rings, and how it opened up a whole new genre of literature.
posted by Runes at 6:26 AM on August 19, 2011


My initial thought was that it's an odd target for the Taliban. The Council's work in Afghanistan is focused on teaching English to the population. Then I read the Guardian link:
The Kabul operation has a particular emphasis on the education of girls and the development of female leaders.

This isn't just an attack against the UK as a nation. It's yet another symbol for the Taliban in their "holy" war to repress and treat women like animals. Where one of the only ways women can free themselves from oppression is to commit suicide by setting themselves on fire. An attack against the Western culture that dares to blaspheme and say women deserve access to adequate eduction, health care and a wide range of civil rights. Free of oppression. Equal to men.

The handful of people who were killed by today's suicide bombing and gunman attack were pretty much all Afghan. This wasn't a blow against the UK. Not really. It was a way for the Taliban to say, "We're still here. You should go home." So they can continue on their vicious, merry way.
posted by zarq at 6:32 AM on August 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


This is something I have never been able to understand. They want to keep women down because it allows them to remain in a position of power, for all the usual reasons that people are into oppression. I get that.

But why are they willing to die with bombs strapped to them in order to maintain that? Surely they realize that they don't get to participate in all "being in power" stuff when they're dead, right?

I guess the suicide bombers must believe in that whole virgins in Heaven thing. Maybe it's because of my Western upbringing, but I can never quite seem to wrap my head around that. Why is God rewarding you for killing yourself? God wants a certain lifestyle maintained down here on Earth, right, with the subservient women and everything, and he'll reward you for killing people who try to defy that lifestyle (Westerners, women, whoever happens to be around) and also people who try to enforce it (yourself)? People can get to believing some pretty crazy things when whipped into a religious fervor, but I just can't see how you can find your way to a place where this makes sense.
posted by IAmUnaware at 6:58 AM on August 19, 2011


I guess the suicide bombers must believe in that whole virgins in Heaven thing.

Maybe they're just depressed.
posted by swift at 7:19 AM on August 19, 2011


So, he's one anecdote up on you in the scoreboard. Let's hear your anecdote about the Afghani woman who is horrified by the dead here and there as compared to the dead over the last 30 years.

---

... more than half of all Afghans — 55 percent — want U.S. forces out of their country, and the sooner the better.

But what the fuck would those savages know?

A majority of likely U.S. voters say U.S. forces should be out of Afghanistan either immediately or within a year...

Well, no one in Washington really gives a shit about what they think either.
posted by Trurl at 7:27 AM on August 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't even think you are comprehending your own links.
posted by spicynuts at 7:45 AM on August 19, 2011


This isn't just an attack against the UK as a nation. It's yet another symbol for the Taliban in their "holy" war to repress and treat women like animals. Where one of the only ways women can free themselves from oppression is to commit suicide by setting themselves on fire. An attack against the Western culture that dares to blaspheme and say women deserve access to adequate eduction, health care and a wide range of civil rights. Free of oppression. Equal to men.

The handful of people who were killed by today's suicide bombing and gunman attack were pretty much all Afghan. This wasn't a blow against the UK. Not really. It was a way for the Taliban to say, "We're still here. You should go home." So they can continue on their vicious, merry way.


I'm tired of this bullshit. American and British soldiers are killing those same women and children on a daily basis with bad intelligence, and then handing out money to apologize. Is this some sort of superior morality to you?

If you want to build a nation, fine. Hold a vote to raise taxes on everyone to pay for the cost. Hold a voluntary draft to recruit 10 times the number of troops you'll think you might need, and then get Congress to authorize the declaration of war. That's not what happened. We got the classic undersell, and pretended once again that any nation of people would greet an invasion with fanfares and parades, and immediately discard their own cultural norms for ours. This isn't like WWII -- we aren't repelling an invading force from another Western nation. We're invading to try and dislodge a local movement that has been in the works for decades, and one we helped train and arm in the 80s. It's just like Vietnam.

We have outspent the entire GDP of Afghanistan for ten years on our war. We haven't made any progress, except for establishing a Green Zone in the capital which is regularly violated. If you look at the history of warfare, this is what is known as a failure.

We're going to leave. We know, the Taliban knows it, and the Afghani people know it. We can't want freedom more for the Afghani people than they want it. I know if there was a revolution in America, I wouldn't want anyone to invade my country, even if I agreed with what they claimed to be there for. Pretending that adding our uninformed violence into the mix will solve the problem is the attitude of an empire.

We had the chance to allow Russia to prop up the secular socialist state of Afghanistan in the late 70s and 80s. We decided instead to arm and train fundamentalist extremists with billions of dollars of weapons, and destroy any notion of socialism or secularism that had a chance to take hold. And who knows, maybe it would have turned into North Korea, but I don't think that would be a problem. It seems that as long as there isn't violence based on fundamentalist Muslim ideologies, Americans could give a shit.

We are the last nation on earth that should be pretending that we know what's best for Afghanistan. Let's at least have the maturity to admit it.
posted by notion at 7:46 AM on August 19, 2011 [12 favorites]


The basic truth here is that the Taliban are killing Afghans, but are failing to achieve their objectives and are being taken out -- primarily and increasingly by the Afghan people -- wherever and whenever they choose to make their presence known.

For those who may have missed it, last month they killed the mayor of Khandahar.
posted by IndigoJones at 7:48 AM on August 19, 2011


These attacks may spook some people, but they certainly won't stop the people of Kabul from fighting and dying in an attempt to repel and reject murderous religious totalitarians.

You know, they weren't exactly welcomed with roses the last time they attempted to take control of the country either.
posted by Hoopo at 7:51 AM on August 19, 2011


We are the last nation on earth that should be pretending that we know what's best for Afghanistan. Let's at least have the maturity to admit it.
posted by notion at 7:46 AM on August 19


/thread
posted by hamandcheese at 8:12 AM on August 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


notion: " I'm tired of this bullshit. American and British soldiers are killing those same women and children on a daily basis with bad intelligence, and then handing out money to apologize. Is this some sort of superior morality to you?"

Excuse me?

Nothing I said is inaccurate.

However, since you asked, I do indeed believe that any group that places women at an equal value with men and does not deny them access to health care, education or a whole host of civil rights on the basis of some extreme fundamentalist religious bullshit would be morally superior, yes. That's neither a justification for nor an approval of the war.

The Taliban bombed an agency whose mission is entirely peaceful. They killed a number of Afghans for supporting said agency's efforts. A comment against the Taliban in support of an peaceful agency's mission is not a gung-ho damn-the-torpedoes support of war in Afghanistan.

But hey, thanks for trying to put words in my mouth and manipulating what I said so you could indulge yourself in a rant.
posted by zarq at 8:20 AM on August 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


Nothing I said is inaccurate.

Perhaps not, but it's completely within the narrative of "we're doing our best to bring freedom to this war torn nation as they fight off evil religious fanatics", and some of us are getting tired of hearing it

How is it that we blow 3 times their GDP a year, that "97 percent of Afghanistan’s gross domestic product comes from spending related to the military and donor community presence", and we're still losing the damn war against these unpopular theocrats?

Some part of this story doesn't add up
posted by crayz at 8:40 AM on August 19, 2011 [5 favorites]


crayz: " Perhaps not, but it's completely within the narrative of "we're doing our best to bring freedom to this war torn nation as they fight off evil religious fanatics", and some of us are getting tired of hearing it"

The British Council is a peaceful organization. They're not at war with anyone. If a Red Cross/Crescent building had been blown up by religious militants, would you also be attacking me for complaining about the Taliban?

I'm not in favor of the war in Afghanistan. I think it was ill conceived and has been continuously executed in the most stupid manner imaginable. And I think it's pretty damned shitty for notion to twist what I said into some sort of patriotic, flag-waving bullshit support of the war when it is clearly, CLEARLY obvious I said nothing of the sort.
posted by zarq at 8:48 AM on August 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


second plot is detected in December of that year. This began the bloodshed. Over the next few years te US would work with Pakistan to radicalize the nation, assassinating moderates, breaking civil society.

yawn, really?

:In 1961, as a result of Daoud's antagonistic policies and support to militias in areas along the Durand Line, Pakistan closed its borders with Afghanistan causing an economic crisis and greater dependence on the USSR. The USSR became Afghanistan's principal trading partner. Within a few months, the USSR had sent jet airplanes, tanks, heavy and light artillery for a heavily discounted price tag of $25 million.

In 1962, Daud sent troops across the international border into the Bajaur region of Pakistan in an attempt to manipulate events in that area and to press the Pashtunistan issue, but the Afghan military forces were routed by Pakistani military. During this period the propaganda war from Afghanistan, carried on by radio, was relentless..."
posted by clavdivs at 8:58 AM on August 19, 2011


TIME TO LEAVE
posted by clavdivs at 8:59 AM on August 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


We're so in the deep gray of what's the right path. 12+ innocent people died in this attack and we are rightly disgusted, but I'm sure more innocent people died the same day at the hands of our own bombs and guns. Even Gen. McChrystal's believes we're killing an 'amazing number' of innocent people at our checkpoints, but those deaths are ignored.

Zarq, I'm sure you are not for war, I don't think many people are, but we are at war with Afghanistan, we have caused so much death, and so much destruction that is seems the majority, at home and abroad wants us out, and we are more then likely creating more enemies then we are removing by murdering innocent people.

It's sadly unrealistic to believe that we can, with one hand, drop bombs and on the other, build these structures and try and help, without them being seem as part of the invading forces, and therefore a target.

It's a muddy, dark hole we are in and I'm not sure what a 'win' would be for Afghanistan now? I would love to hear what people think is a realistic best-case win now, because it seems we are just committed to doing a bad thing, because all other paths are worse.
posted by Static Vagabond at 9:11 AM on August 19, 2011


why are they willing to die with bombs strapped to them in order to maintain that? Surely they realize that they don't get to participate in all "being in power" stuff when they're dead, right?...I guess the suicide bombers must believe in that whole virgins in Heaven thing.

Book: Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism

The claim is that suicide terrorism is a rational response to foreign occupation, rational in the sense of being effective. On this account, the driving force is nationalism, not religion (except to the extent that religion is treated as an indicator of foreign influence). Pape's thought is that suicide bombing is altruistic; they want their country to be free, though they know they will not live to see it.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 9:24 AM on August 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'm not in favor of the war in Afghanistan. I think it was ill conceived and has been continuously executed in the most stupid manner imaginable. And I think it's pretty damned shitty for notion to twist what I said into some sort of patriotic, flag-waving bullshit support of the war when it is clearly, CLEARLY obvious I said nothing of the sort.

Don't plead innocent. You chose to ignore a century and a half of western violence and focus on the Taliban for a reason. After many decades of occupation, you start to see any outsider -- even if they are there for peaceful purposes -- as part of the occupation.

It's easy, and wrong, to lay Afghanistan's problems on the only group that was left after we destroyed it in a proxy war with Russia. The Taliban is evil; that much is obvious. What's the point of pretending that our military occupation will change that? Or pretending that western nations have never continued occupations under the cover of pretending that they are only there for peace?
posted by notion at 9:30 AM on August 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


zarq, both barrels.
posted by clavdivs at 9:36 AM on August 19, 2011


notion: " Don't plead innocent. You chose to ignore a century and a half of western violence and focus on the Taliban for a reason.

No, today I'm focusing on the Taliban because THEY BLEW UP A BUILDING WITH GUNMEN AND SUICIDE BOMBERS. And claimed responsibility. Hence this lovely little FPP.

I'm not picking on them unfairly. My motivations for speculating why they had picked the British Council to attack are transparent. The British Council is not what we would typically think of as a high-value target.

So let's add more context to my original comment: The BC are not military. They're not really supporting the government's goals except vaguely and indirectly. They're not really supporting the NATO forces except very, very indirectly. They're not doing anything the Taliban could possibly really object to except... oh yeah, they're educating women and teaching them leadership skills.

After many decades of occupation, you start to see any outsider -- even if they are there for peaceful purposes -- as part of the occupation."

*chokes*

The Taliban are foreign occupiers.

The Taliban began in Afghan refugee camps in Pakistan. Pakistan!
They were supported and nurtured by the Pakistani ISI, who initially supplied them with weapons and resources, and continue to support them to this day. When Mullah Omar launched his military attacks, he did so thanks to Pakistani state support. Omar didn't step into a power vacuum. He and his students would never have succeeded without the Pakistanis backing him up.

OK, let's go back to the top: Afghanistan was a Buddhist and moderately Islamic country throughout most of the 20th century. They had a history, a legacy of religious tolerance. The country was ruled by a moderate king named Mohammad Zahir Shah from the 1930's until the early 1970's. In the mid-60's Shah attempted to diffuse the government's power by creating a constitutional council of tribal and religious leaders and he directed them to draft a constitution that gave more freedom and democratic rights to his people. This movement resulted in a set of democratic reforms that were slowly being enacted when the King was deposed in a bloodless coup by his brother in law in 1973. The coup resulted in a Republic, which lasted only until 1992. And was reinstated in 2001. In 1996, the Taliban rose to power, and they did so only because they had substantial military support from Pakistan.

The Taliban instituted a draconian religious theocracy, complete with oppressive practices towards women and aggressive intolerance towards any other religion. They destroyed countless Buddhist statues and slaughtered hundred of Buddhist monks.

Now you're saying that that oppressive regressive, repressive occupying force couldn't see the forest for the trees and attacked a peaceful organization because they themselves have been occupied for so long?

Seriously? I can't even begin to try to parse that logic.

It's easy, and wrong, to lay Afghanistan's problems on the only group that was left after we destroyed it in a proxy war with Russia. The Taliban is evil; that much is obvious. What's the point of pretending that our military occupation will change that? Or pretending that western nations have never continued occupations under the cover of pretending that they are only there for peace?

You're pretty much massively misrepresenting history here. By your metric, the Afghani people should not be ruled by the Taliban, either. Because the Taliban were put in place by Pakistan, who could not occupy the country outright during the Cold War without initiating a war with India, Russia and the US. So they did it by proxy.

I don't think we should be occupying Afghanistan. I don't think we should be waging a war there. I am fully aware of the effect our cold war escalation had on that country. But to place the blame solely at our feet is pretty damned ludicrous. It's also a deep, deep derail and deliberate, malicious misinterpretation of my original comment.
posted by zarq at 10:28 AM on August 19, 2011 [8 favorites]


Clavdivs the issue isn't quite so black and white in my opinion. My point is we spent a few billion dollars destroying Afghanistan. That's a big step up from the minor skirmishes that have happened previously.
posted by humanfont at 10:47 AM on August 19, 2011


My apologies zarq, I was cheerleading and feel rather monkish. I know better even in the face of a difficult argument.
posted by clavdivs at 10:47 AM on August 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


and you to HF, I was dismissive of your data, that was rude.
posted by clavdivs at 10:49 AM on August 19, 2011




clavdivs: "My apologies zarq, I was cheerleading and feel rather monkish. I know better even in the face of a difficult argument."

It's okay. I didn't see your comment until I posted mine anyway. And I'm not really the John Woo sort. ;)
posted by zarq at 10:56 AM on August 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


I thought we were teaching these people something! Don't they know that the only, ONLY, way to celebrate Independence Day is to get a fly over with fortunes of fireworks being shot off and a band following every major gathering of people around going DA DADADADA DADADA DADA DAAAAAAAA!?
posted by Slackermagee at 11:03 AM on August 19, 2011


zarq, you managed to discuss the entire history of modern of Afghanistan without mentioning our proxy war with Russia. A war in which we took matched funds from Saudi Arabia, bought weapons from Israel, and funneled them through Pakistan -- including the ISI -- to religious extremists inside of Afghanistan. Pakistan continued to support, as we did, any elements inside of Afghanistan that they felt would be useful. That's the lesson they learned from us, in the same decade we pretended that Pakistan was not developing nuclear capabilities in exchange for their help in arming the proto-Taliban.

To compare Pakistan's support of tribal elements within their neighboring Afghanistan to the US occupation and invasion of a nation thousands of miles a way is interesting on its own merits. I remember feeling the same way when pundits would complain about Iranian interference in Iraq after we invaded.

We have been funding war in Afghanistan for over half of the last 30 years. We had a large part in creating the situation Afghanistan, along with the Russians and the Pakistanis, for our own cynical purposes that had nothing to do with women's rights. They were, and still are, practically irrelevant to our foreign policy makers. Don't dishonor that cause and yourself by pretending that we've been the good guys this whole time, or that gender equality has anything to do with why we invaded Afghanistan, or that we have little to do with the current state of misery there.

You can whinge all you like about my mischaracterizations, but the reasons for your creative omissions are transparent to me.
posted by notion at 12:04 PM on August 19, 2011 [3 favorites]


notion: "zarq, you managed to discuss the entire history of modern of Afghanistan without mentioning our proxy war with Russia.

No, I mentioned it in my last comment, in the last paragraph: "I am fully aware of the effect our cold war escalation had on that country."

I'm simply not giving it the emphasis that you seem to want me to.

This is now the third time you have deliberately misinterpreted or misrepresented my comments in this thread. This is the third time you have declared that you know my motivations for commenting despite my clear explanations of why you are wrong. This is the third time you have accused me of doing something that I am not doing.

I'm tired of having to have a good faith discussion with someone who apparently has no intention of reciprocating. We're done here.
posted by zarq at 12:24 PM on August 19, 2011


One of the things I was most impressed by was a woman I met . . . who is an MP. She has two daughters. She's a single mom. Her dad was assasinated, her brothers were assasinated . . . She is risking her life. She has been shot at. The Taliban tried to drive her off the road. The Taliban shot at her with her daughters in the car on a roadtrip. But she says "Here's the important thing. I believe my country can succeed and I'm willing to risk my life to see that."

That sounds like Fawzia Koofi. Her courage is amazing. Here's a recent news piece about her: Taliban declares open season on politicians
posted by homunculus at 12:37 PM on August 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


zarq, you managed to discuss the entire history of modern of Afghanistan without mentioning our proxy war with Russia.

So notion it I'd your position that after this proxy war concluded, our billions having been spent destroying the Afghan people's capabilities for internal security and governance; we have no obligation, no debt?
posted by humanfont at 12:42 PM on August 19, 2011


Our billions having been spent destroying the Afghan people's capabilities for internal security and governance; we have any credibility as well-wishers, any moral authority?

The Afghans want us out. Yesterday. All other talk is White Man's Burden.
posted by Trurl at 1:21 PM on August 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


zarq, you wrapped up a decade of our funding of religious extremists along with the ISI in the phrase "cold war escalation" while spending a paragraph discussing ISI support of the Taliban as if they magically appeared in 1996. As if we hadn't been doing the same thing a few years earlier. You purposefully tried to hide the connection between the billions of dollars we spent in the 80s and the rise of fundamentalists in the civil wars of the 1990s, like we had no idea there were professionally trained and well armed religious fanatics taking over Afghanistan after we left. This is good faith?

We knew about the refugee situation. We know about the rise of extremism in the power vacuum in Afghanistan, and if 9/11 had been conducted from Somalia instead of Afghanistan, we still wouldn't give a damn. Just like we don't give a damn about Somalia now, unless we're using it as another black site to torture people.

Stop with the theatrics. The fifteen years of bloodshed we've helped perpetuate in Afghanistan have had nothing to do with gender equality, and everything to do with our own cynical geopolitical games. You know it, and I know it, and the Afghani people know it.
posted by notion at 1:52 PM on August 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Non-violent protests? Civil disobedience? Bah!
You need civil society before you can have civil disobedience. What exactly could these poeple 'disobey'?

Non-violent protests don't work if they're ignored.
This isn't just an attack against the UK as a nation. It's yet another symbol for the Taliban in their "holy" war to repress and treat women like animals. Where one of the only ways women can free themselves from oppression is to commit suicide by setting themselves on fire. An attack against the Western culture that dares to blaspheme and say women deserve access to adequate eduction, health care and a wide range of civil rights. Free of oppression. Equal to men.
Man the pro-stay-in-Afghanistan segment is out in force in this thread spewing stuff that could have been written by Bush’s Speechwriters in the past decade. First of all, we went in there to fight Al Quaeda, not transform their society. So why the hell are we still there fighting the 'Taliban'?

Maybe these people just didn't like the British. They want them and us gone, and the reason they don't want us there is because we keep killing people. Of course, the stay forever crowd never bring up that motive, it's always something about how they want to stay barbaric and oppress women and bla bla. Yet, that shit happens all over the world. If we wanted to reform countries we would start with the ones that were most interested in changing and becoming better on their own and help them. But obviously that's not what we do. We sit there fighting this pointless war for no reason.

I don't even get Zarq's point. The Taliban is bad? So what? Who said they were good? But the idea that you can excise civilian casualties by NATO as part of their motivation is ridiculous.
posted by delmoi at 2:28 PM on August 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Man the pro-stay-in-Afghanistan segment is out in force in this thread.

They are not and you should feel ridiculous for typing that.
posted by Winnemac at 2:39 PM on August 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Stop the theatrics...

Thespian mind your own craft. You castigate us from a grand stage, but looking closely I see the illusion. I fear you are unaware of were you stand. For your sake I hope you join us in the real world soon. You seem far too clever to be trapped there.
posted by humanfont at 2:47 PM on August 19, 2011 [4 favorites]


humanfont, you are hilarious.
posted by notion at 3:16 PM on August 19, 2011


"American and British soldiers are killing those same women and children on a daily basis with bad intelligence, and then handing out money to apologize. Is this some sort of superior morality to you?"

Take a look at the civilian casualties, and you'd notice that the Taliban are killing Afghan civilians at a rate about 8 times higher than both Afghan and NATO coalition forces combined. This is oftentimes because the Taliban are actively targeting civilians. Usually, when the ANA and NATO accidentally kill a civilian, it's not bad intelligence... it's that armed Taliban are basically hiding amongst the civilians intentionally, and the civilians are in no position to refuse them.

Is it superior morality to not intend to cause civilian casualties, oftentimes incur real risks trying to get wounded civilians out of hostile combat areas to get them medical treatment... or to strongly regret civilian casualties, when they occur, and adhere to local customs regarding the paying of restitution?

Yes, undoubtedly... whether you're Christian, Islamic, or none of the above.
posted by markkraft at 6:08 PM on August 19, 2011


"We have outspent the entire GDP of Afghanistan for ten years on our war. We haven't made any progress, except for..."

Significantly improved roads, schools, governance, and infrastructure. Huge advances for women. An economy that's growing *very* rapidly. Over a trillion dollars worth of valuable mineral resources, finally starting to be developed.

"We're going to leave. We know, the Taliban knows it, and the Afghani people know it."

Of course we are. That is, in fact, the actual plan.

The question is how many troops, how soon, and what will we leave behind, as far as security forces, training, and governance?
posted by markkraft at 6:25 PM on August 19, 2011


The question is how many troops, how soon, and what will we leave behind, as far as security forces, training, and governance?

---
U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said [March 7] that both the U.S. and Afghan governments agree the American military should remain involved in Afghanistan after the planned 2014 end of combat operations to help train and advise Afghan forces.

"Obviously it would be a small fraction of the presence that we have today, but I think we're willing to do that," Gates told a group of U.S. troops at Bagram air field, which is headquarters for U.S. and NATO forces in eastern Afghanistan. "My sense is, they (Afghan officials) are interested in having us do that."
Which reminds me...
On May 4, 2011, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives John Boehner said that American troops should stay in Iraq past the December 31 withdrawal deadline.
posted by Trurl at 6:34 PM on August 19, 2011


I think Obama is going to do everything he can to see to it that Malaki doesn't ask the US to stay past December. It is the easiest path for him. If you listen to the statements the administration has been pretty clear. Absent that agreement there will only be the weird state department / private security contractor thing which we could really do without.
posted by humanfont at 7:05 PM on August 19, 2011


They are not and you should feel ridiculous for typing that.

('that' = 'Man the pro-stay-in-Afghanistan segment is out in force in this thread.')
I'm not sure what else you would call Zarq's and markkraft's posts. Are they just saying "The Taliban is bad"? That's not really a controversial opinion. Zarq did say he opposed the war, but I'm honestly at a loss for what they are arguing for here. Everyone is familiar with the anti-taliban propaganda. The problem is ignoring the reasons why people in Afghanistan aren't happy with the US/NATO occupation. No one likes to have their country occupied. Markkraft seems to want to stay there until we 'get Afghanistan right', or something, that we should stay until we 'win'.

The argument that the Taliban is an external occupation force is an especially weird. They may have an externally developed ideology, but they are clearly they are indigenous, and beyond that the Pashto ethnic group happens to have an arbitrary border running through their land. It doesn't really make sense to say Pashto on one side of the border are 'foreign' to the other.
Is it superior morality to not intend to cause civilian casualties,
This is another weird statement. Why is killing someone through disregard any worse than killing someone deliberately? Both result in their death. Both result in anguish for their families and the people who knew them. This just seems like an excuse to kill civilians to me so long as you don't think you 'intend' to kill them.
posted by delmoi at 8:18 PM on August 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Take a look at the civilian casualties, and you'd notice that the Taliban are killing Afghan civilians at a rate about 8 times higher than both Afghan and NATO coalition forces combined.

Cite? I've got one:
Much in line with Assange’s tragic narrative, the leaked documents depict a disturbing fudging of facts and unreported killing of hundreds of civilians. Two incidents in particular have been highlighted by the Guardian.

One involves a group of US marines, who went on a shooting rampage after coming under attack near Jalalabad in 2007. They recorded false information about the incident, in which they actually killed 19 unarmed civilians and wounded another 50.

In another case the same year, documents detail how US special forces dropped six 2,000lb bombs on a compound where they believed a “high-value individual” was hiding, after “ensuring there were no innocent Afghans in the surrounding area”. A senior US commander reported that 150 Taliban had been killed. Locals, however, reported that up to 300 civilians had died.

But the NYT chose not to run with these stories as their lead, instead they pulled out the ISI card, in their Editorial “Pakistan’s Double Game”...
This is oftentimes because the Taliban are actively targeting civilians. Usually, when the ANA and NATO accidentally kill a civilian, it's not bad intelligence... it's that armed Taliban are basically hiding amongst the civilians intentionally, and the civilians are in no position to refuse them.

Killing innocent people who are possibly near a suspected terrorist is not a moral high ground.

Is it superior morality to not intend to cause civilian casualties, oftentimes incur real risks trying to get wounded civilians out of hostile combat areas to get them medical treatment... or to strongly regret civilian casualties, when they occur, and adhere to local customs regarding the paying of restitution?

We started the war. We refused to pursue traditional methods of extradition and criminal trial, and now Afghani civilians -- who had nothing to do with 9/11 -- are dying by the thousands. Do you think it makes it all better to spend a sliver of that time, effort, and money on not killing some of them?

As David Cross once quipped, "For every member of my family that was killed by the Americans, I have received one pudding cup. I have seven pudding cups! Thank you, Uncle Sam!"
posted by notion at 9:35 PM on August 19, 2011


Take a look at the civilian casualties, and you'd notice that the Taliban are killing Afghan civilians at a rate about 8 times higher than both Afghan and NATO coalition forces combined.

"Cite?"


From the AFGHANISTAN MIDYEAR REPORT 2011
PROTECTION OF CIVILIANS IN ARMED CONFLICT
United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan


"In total, 80 percent of all civilian deaths in the first half of 2011 were attributed to Anti-Government Elements (up 28 percent from the same period in 2010), 14 percent were attributed to Pro-Government Forces (down nine percent from the same period in 2010) and six percent were unattributed.

In other words, the Taliban are adopting strategies intended to maximize civilian deaths and destruction -- IEDs, suicide bombers, increasing focus on less-defended civilian targets, executing civilians, reprisal attacks, targeting of schools for girls, etc. -- while the Pro-Government forces, despite having a *much* larger footprint in Afghanistan right now, have adopted methods that have reduced their share of responsibility for civilian deaths.

If you look at NATO's share of those "Pro-Government forces" deaths, it's actually considerably lower than 14%, as an increasing amount of those "Pro-Government forces" deaths are caused by Afghan police and army troops. Literally, every time a police officer kills a civilian by mistake in the course of his work, in a country where drug and terrorism-fueled crime is rife, it's counted as a "Pro-Government forces" death.

Frankly, my contacts working for NGOs in Afghanistan have pointed out that the UN actually underestimates Taliban responsibility for civilian deaths, in that they have increasingly taken to criminal acts, such as hostage-taking and armed drug smuggling, in order to finance their organization. EVERYONE knows the Taliban does this, but, not surprisingly, the Taliban do not admit to it or take credit for the huge increases in such criminality, or the deaths that happen as a result.

"Man the pro-stay-in-Afghanistan segment is out in force in this thread."

As someone who is supposedly "pro-stay-in-Afghanistan", all I have to say is that this is a gross oversimplification of the issue.

I was actually opposed to sending *any* troops into Afghanistan. I marched in protests against going into Iraq, too. Ground wars are messy and divisive in ways that air wars like Bosnia and Libya simply don't compare to.

But the problem is, once you're in a country like this, how do you get out in a way that is safest for those who live there, supports stable institutions, and minimizes longterm civilian deaths? Because, literally, *we* toppled their government. And even the worst governments -- which the Taliban certainly deserved to be counted amongst -- usually offer more security for civilians than the lawless anarchy, factionalism, and civil war that invariably takes its place.

From a civilian's safety perspective, there need to be winners and losers... or at least some sort of power-sharing situation in place where all sides involved realize that the cost of trying to have their way 100% is too high.

In short, the Afghan government needs to have a sustainable army and police force capable of providing adequate security for economic growth. That has *always* been the exit strategy, but unfortunately, the Bush administration was so focused on Iraq that it failed to commit enough resources to training and sustaining a large, capable force. Their failure reflected not only in failing to achieve recruitment goals, but also in the widespread desertion rates in both forces, which were so high that they nearly wiped out years of half-hearted efforts entirely.

I also believe that the Afghan people will be far better off having NATO forces in country until the next Afghan presidential election, which is in 2014.

I don't trust Karzai and his desire to step down, but I *will* trust him far more if NATO troops -- and foreign election monitors -- are in country, able to see to it that the Afghan people get the kind of leadership they choose for themselves. This will literally the most important election for the people of Afghanistan.

Stable elections with term limits, a stable police force and army... we're talking about priceless things here. If Afghanistan can pull that off with our help, shortly before all our ground troops are withdrawn, it will be a huge coup for them and go a long way to justify the deaths of so many.

I am most certainly not a member of a "pro-stay-in-Afghanistan segment". I just happen to believe that the question is really, when do we leave, and how do we do so in a way that is most beneficial to the Afghan people.

Really, it was an unwise decision to send ground troops into Afghanistan in the first place... but I do believe we owe it to the Afghan people to pay, with our blood and our treasure, for *some* semblance of a future for their nation. That means having ground forces there until after the 2014 elections, possibly with some highly secured non-combat training assistance after that point.

It's a horrible thing to lose thousands of lives and spend billions of dollars on an avoidable war, thousands of miles from home. But that doesn't mean I want to see all of those horrible losses go to waste, if it's completely avoidable.
posted by markkraft at 3:27 AM on August 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


From the report cited above:

"IEDs and suicide attacks, tactics used by Anti-Government Elements, accounted for nearly half (49 percent) of all civilian deaths and injuries. Civilian deaths from IEDs increased 17 percent from the same period in 2010, making IEDs the single largest killer of civilians in the first half of 2011. . .

Suicide attacks in the first six months of 2011 killed 276 civilians, causing 19 percent of all civilian deaths (24 percent of civilian deaths attributed to Anti-Government Elements). While the number of suicide attacks was similar to the same period in 2010, civilian deaths from suicide attacks increased by 52 percent, the largest increase of any tactic killing Afghan civilians. Suicide attacks in 2011 have become more complex, often using multiple bombers in spectacular attacks that kill many Afghan civilians. . .

In addition to changes in tactics, new locations were targeted by Anti-Government Elements in the first half of 2011. UNAMA documented the first confirmed cases of attacks against two hospitals, which are in principle protected places under international humanitarian law. The Taliban claimed responsibility for a suicide attack on a military hospital in Kabul on May 21 that killed six students from the medical faculty and wounded 23 others. UNAMA documented a second attack on a hospital on June 25, when a suicide attacker detonated explosives at a civilian hospital in Azra district, Logar province, killing 20 including 13 children lined up to receive vaccinations and injuring 43, many of whom were women and children."


These are horrible, bloody, inhumane, indiscriminate tactics.

But what they *aren't* are the tactics of a side that is winning. Rather, they are tactics of increasing desperation, by an insurgency increasingly incapable of launching attacks against those who they originally considered "the enemy".

Instead, they've changed the rules and their targets. Now the civilians are their enemy... and, increasingly, the Afghan people know this and see it for what it is.

Meanwhile, pro-government forces, which killed 312 civilians in the first 6 months of 2009, were responsible for 207 in the first six months of 2011, while trying to stop those responsible for these indiscriminate attacks. That's about a 50% decrease in just two years.

The truth is, we saw the same pattern in Iraq around 2006, when the insurgents shifted from large-scale, costly attacks on hardened military targets to the widescale use of IEDs against soft targets, many of which were civilian.

Civilian deaths went up sharply, but improved countermeasures became widespread, greatly reducing the risk to coalition forces, even as support for the insurgency plummeted.

This tactic, quite literally, is no way for the Taliban to win the conflict, as it's turning the civilian population sharply against them... unless, of course, it is used as justification by NATO countries to cut-and-run before the Afghan army, police, and government are capable of dealing with the problem by themselves.

The Taliban are desperate, but are quite literally willing to gamble the lives of thousands of innocent civilians, in order to hopefully persuade us to abandon the mission, even as we're finally turning large parts of Afghanistan over to local control, seeing the Afghan police and military fighting for their country's future, and in reach of achieving our most important, lasting goals.
posted by markkraft at 4:08 AM on August 20, 2011


UNAMA takes the position that the armed conflict in Afghanistan is a non-international armed conflict between the Government of Afghanistan supported by international military forces (also referred to in this report and within Afghanistan as “Pro-Government Forces”) and various non-State armed groups (also referred to in this report and within Afghanistan as “Anti-Government Elements”)
In other words, they consider the US military the de facto government of Afghanistan, and anyone else as an "Anti-Government Element."

We read further:
UNAMA documented tactics used by the Taliban to coerce civilians to support them. For example, in addition to the fear created through IED attacks, targeted killings and other deliberate attacks against civilians, the Taliban continued to use intimidation tactics such as night letters, verbal threats, abduction and illegal check points to force communities to support them.
Now they're just upset that they are stealing ISAF tactics.

Look, even the Taliban pay lip service to avoiding civilian casualties. I wouldn't take either party at their word, because both organizations benefit from lying, and as we have learned from WikiLeaks, the ISAF has a very difficult time telling the truth.

And finally:

The Taliban are desperate, but are quite literally willing to gamble the lives of thousands of innocent civilians, in order to hopefully persuade us to abandon the mission, even as we're finally turning large parts of Afghanistan over to local control, seeing the Afghan police and military fighting for their country's future, and in reach of achieving our most important, lasting goals.

Turning over to "local control" means they are packing up and leaving. You seem to swallow government propaganda without much consideration.

For contrast, let's look at the response cheerfully provided in the UNAMA report:
The political wing of the United Nations, UNAMA) has said in its report that the casualties inflicted to civilian in May 2011 were incomparable in the last four years. The report states that 368 civilians were killed and 593 were wounded in this month, and 82 per cent of those killed (301 persons) are attributed to the Mujahedeen and only 12 per cent (45 people) is attributed to the invaders and their puppet regime's operations, while only 3 per cent of that is attributed to the attacks of the so called peace keeping forces air raids. At the end, UNAMA has called on the Mujahedeen and their opposing parties to pay due attention to prevention of civilian casualties.

It is a matter of regret that despite repeated claims of impartiality, the UN implements a one sided policy, and not only on civilian casualties but in connection with political, cultural, economical, ethical and military aspects of the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan, they have sided with the colonialists in the past ten years and unfortunately they are continuing doing it and this statement on civilian casualties is a clear evidence of that. It seems that similar to American Generals and Commanders, the officials of UNAMA have become incapable of analyzing the current situation of Afghanistan, and in particular the assessment of the armed conflict, just like the leading American commander, Gen. Petraeus, who had said upon his incorrect judgment on Ghaziabad bloody event which led to 70 civilians death where most of them were children that: “The Afghans intentionally have killed and cremated their children in order to show the number of civilian casualties higher in the American bombardment”.

The UNAMA officials here again have forgotten the blind bombardment of the invaders on Doab district of Nuristan province that led to affecting 300 people, most of them civilians, particularly women and children, as stated by eye-witnesses and parliamentarians of that province. In addition to the Doab event, the number of civilian Afghans martyred and wounded by the invaders in the month of May in every corner of the country would number many fold of what is mentioned by UNAMA. We want to present in the following lines an exemplar picture that will not be similar to UNAMA and Kabul administration‟s baseless, imaginary and dictated numbers, but will be based on evidence with details of specific place, date, time and other relevant information.

On 1st May, in Fandi area of Baraki Bark district of Logar province, two children were martyred by American‟s firing and three women were wounded...

... At the end, it is necessary to mention that we identified and presented the figures and relevant details on civilian casualties committed by the invaders in the month of May, which are documented and show exactly the time and place, then UNAMA should do a favor and prove and publish what, where and how have inflicted the over 80 per cent of the civilian casualties in order to make it clear that whether they are saying the truth or they just air propaganda in favor of their funders.
One of these groups has actually been outside of Kabul this year. I'll let you guess which one it is.
posted by notion at 8:27 AM on August 20, 2011


Notion what's your field experience in conflict zones? I'm just curious how you reacht hear conclusions about what the UN should do or how te Taliban or other groups operate?
posted by humanfont at 8:40 AM on August 20, 2011


I read everything, and discard the obvious bullshit.

But let's puff up a pillow, and sit back, and wait for your treatise on how only Western organizations know how to fix problems in conflict zones. With some historical evidence to support your case, of course.

Give us your best success stories for:

1) UN intervention with weapons.
2) US intervention with weapons.
3) NATO intervention with weapons.

and we'll see how it compares to their colossal failures over the same time period.
posted by notion at 2:02 PM on August 20, 2011


Meh. Why bother when you'll just hand wave away any arguments or examples? Thus far you've not shown yourself able to do anything but google up counter examples to confirm your own biases. You show no particular expertise. You have no personal experience to share. You have an opinion, but you've given me no reason to listen to it, nor have you shown any ability to listen to those here who bring personal experience and professional expertise. Any effort I would make into adding information to the thread would simply provide a platform for you to voice more nonsense. Frankly that is too much work.
posted by humanfont at 5:50 PM on August 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Pig Picture: Afghanistan, August 2011
posted by homunculus at 6:10 PM on August 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Er, Big Picture, that is.
posted by homunculus at 6:17 PM on August 20, 2011


The Pig Picture is something completely different.
posted by homunculus at 6:21 PM on August 20, 2011


"(IOW), they consider the US military the de facto government of Afghanistan..."

In case you didn't notice, Afghanistan has had two elections so far, as well as several local ones. Every nation in the world with the possible exception of North Korea recognizes the current government of Afghanistan as legitimate. In many ways, Afghanistan would be an easier mission to conduct if the US military didn't have to go through the Afghan government for a ton of different things... but they do. It's unfortunate that the Bush administration didn't more seriously tackle the training, reconstruction, and security missions early on, but their attention had already moved on to Iraq.

"Turning over to "local control" means they are packing up and leaving."

...leaving Afghan government forces in charge. Their officials, their police, and their army. Not the Taliban. Perhaps you missed that part of the equation?!

"One of these groups has actually been outside of Kabul this year. I'll let you guess which one it is."

Just making it clear here... you're saying we should pay more attention and grant more credibility to Taliban extremists based out of Pakistan, because they aren't based out of central and northern Afghanistan?

Perhaps you failed to read the UN's response to the extremists in question, where they point-by-point, either refuted most of the Taliban's claims, or pointed out that the casualties they mentioned had previously been mentioned and tallied by the UN?!

"I read everything, and discard the obvious bullshit."

We do too, notion.
posted by markkraft at 6:26 PM on August 20, 2011


You have an opinion, but you've given me no reason to listen to it, nor have you shown any ability to listen to those here who bring personal experience and professional expertise. Any effort I would make into adding information to the thread would simply provide a platform for you to voice more nonsense. Frankly that is too much work.

What sort of professional expertise are you talking about?
posted by notion at 7:12 PM on August 20, 2011


...leaving Afghan government forces in charge. Their officials, their police, and their army. Not the Taliban. Perhaps you missed that part of the equation?!

This is the same group of people who paid cash to talk to man who claimed to be a Taliban leader, and announced they had begun peace talks with the Taliban late last year. Unfortunately they later found out he was a shop keeper from Quetta.

Now they have entered into real peace negotiations with the Taliban this summer, who have so far not turned out to be civilians from different countries. Karzai has already announced the start of reconciliation, so, you're wrong: the Taliban will be back in power in many parts of Afghanistan. Hilary laid the groundwork for the inevitability of our withdrawal when she stated in 2009 that not every member of Taliban is a member of al Qaeda. That truth unfortunately didn't make a damn bit of difference in 2001 before we started the war, but I guess it just takes a decade or so to figure little things like that out.

The bottom line here is that you don't take an army into another country and tell them what to do if you're serious about improving a situation. You first determine if they want you there, and then you ask them how you can help. We are in Afghanistan only because of 9/11, and our occupation of their country is about geopolitical games and not about the Afghanis. As soon as the American public feels like terrorism isn't a problem, we'll go back to not knowing where it is on a map.

The repeated invasion of foreign lands to see our interests maintained, and then to impose our values and our culture as well, is pure colonialism. Nothing less, and certainly nothing more.
posted by notion at 7:54 PM on August 20, 2011


"so, you're wrong: the Taliban will be back in power in many parts of Afghanistan."

You say many? I say a few. Predominantly in religious, rural areas near the border, but not in charge of the largest cities, including places like Kandahar. And in exchange for those leaders having local power, they will be required to defer to the central government.

This, frankly, is not the same as being Taliban-controlled... which is why the Taliban has tried to kill those amongst them who have changed sides.

But each year, another 50,000 Afghan soldiers and 50,000 Afghan police are trained and ready to serve, while the rest of the force gets more seasoned and experienced... and they are increasingly being hunted down, or having their leaders killed. It's no surprise that they're starting to get serious about negotiating. Just because foreign troops are going to be going home after training up a huge local police and army, that doesn't really mean that time is on their side. In many ways, the local police and army -- and the increasingly effective Afghan special forces -- are able to root out the Taliban and deal with culturally sensitive issues more effectively than the US ever could.

Here's the crux of your problem, notion: You think that just because you are ideologically opposed to an unnecessary war, that many of the core goals of that conflict can't succeed.

I'm sorry to disappoint you, but that's not how reality works.

You might feel ideologically honorbound to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory -- and, yes, in war of occupation, there is *plenty* of defeat to go around -- but at the end of the day, new local schools are getting built. Police are getting trained. Many are finally learning how to read. Merchants are able to bring goods to sell in the nearest major city, which is now a five hour trip thanks to improved roads and security, rather than a two day one.

To suggest that NATO troops, the people working at local NGOs, or especially the Afghans themselves aren't serious about improving the situation in Afghanistan is ludicrous, and criminally unfair. I have interacted with dozens of soldiers and NGO workers over there, and if there's any shared sentiment that gets them through many a hard day away from family and friends, it's been that they have felt empowered enough to make the best of a bad situation.

You can be ultimately responsible to the decisions of people like GWB or Karzai, and still get important things done at a local level, despite them.

And they do. And if you look at the *huge* increases in schools and literacy and infrastructure and the local economy, its obvious they've made a difference.

Are US and NATO troops going to leave? Yes, gradually... though I suspect there will be a core group of trainers and pilots operating out of Kabul for many years. Are some of those we leave behind running Afghanistan going to be corrupt, or even amongst our former enemies? Certainly. Many already are. And yet, progress is still being made... and despite all the civilians that they are killing with their tactics, or the bombing of schools, hospitals, etc... the Taliban have shown no sign of being capable of stopping it.
posted by markkraft at 7:11 AM on August 21, 2011


What sort of professional expertise are you talking about?

Work in international development, crisis management, disaster releif, or refugee issues outside the United States. What is your actual experience working with refugees and displaced persons. Have you ever worked in a conflict area.
posted by humanfont at 10:14 AM on August 21, 2011


You first determine if they want you there, and then you ask them how you can help.

Want, heck no, use reason: "do i want troops here"? who does.
NEED is another matter. Do they need us there, I'm not sure, I would like to think Karzi would tell us so if this is the reality...has he asked the "us" to leave?

The CIA asked massoud what he needed to take out OBL for example. grant you, he was not leader of all Afghans, but he held tremendous clout and respect.

Washington said no.
Later, OBL/Taliban killed him, two days later 9/11 happened.

I think we have given all the help we can stand.
posted by clavdivs at 12:43 PM on August 21, 2011


You might feel ideologically honorbound to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory -- and, yes, in war of occupation, there is *plenty* of defeat to go around -- but at the end of the day, new local schools are getting built. Police are getting trained. Many are finally learning how to read. Merchants are able to bring goods to sell in the nearest major city, which is now a five hour trip thanks to improved roads and security, rather than a two day one.

After 6 million people have fled Afghanistan, a couple million or so have died from civil war and related infrastructure destruction, with several million more permanently disabled, a literacy rate that has not improved since 1980, infant mortality which has not improved since 1980, and life expectancy which has not improved since 1980s, I would hardly call the uptick from 2006 to 2010 a success for Western interventionism in Afghanistan.
posted by notion at 9:52 AM on August 22, 2011


Why not? As compared to Pakistani intervention on Afghanistan? Or Soviet intervention? Or British imperial? What about Islamic Intervention? Mongolian? Hellenistic?
posted by humanfont at 3:15 PM on August 22, 2011


America: The Least Horrible Empire?

I could agree with that on many levels.
posted by notion at 9:21 AM on August 23, 2011


The CIA asked massoud what he needed to take out OBL for example. grant you, he was not leader of all Afghans, but he held tremendous clout and respect.

The problem is the precedent. Say a religious nutcase who is high up in the Air Force manages to bomb a part of China and kill a few thousand people. Should the Chinese threaten invasion if he isn't immediately handed over without due process?

And if they invade, will you just watch them take over your country because you think they had a valid reason?
posted by notion at 2:59 PM on August 23, 2011


The problem is the precedent. Say a religious nutcase who is high up in the Air Force manages to bomb a part of China and kill a few thousand people. Should the Chinese threaten invasion if he isn't immediately handed over without due process?

That hypothetical doesn't even make sense. It is like you are writing for 24.
posted by humanfont at 8:42 PM on August 23, 2011




Then remove that part of the hypothetical. If China wanted to prosecute someone from the US for crimes committed in China that were planned in the US, should terroristic threats of invasion and a full-scale invasion be an option for them?

And would you roll over like a puppy while they accidentally kill your fellow citizens, or fight back?
posted by notion at 6:22 AM on August 25, 2011


you make no sense and are reaching for fragments of data to craft into your lop-sided arguments. Numerous folk have pointed your methods out...it's a sport now.


And if they invade, will you just watch them take over your country because you think they had a valid reason?

see, the one-two punch pulling humanfont, quite effective trolling.
posted by clavdivs at 7:06 AM on August 25, 2011


In the hypothetical scenario where the United States falls under the murderous rule of warlords and hyper religious nutters who forbid my wife to walk in public, cast my chidden out of school for their gender and beat me for shaving. If in addition to that my fellow citizens are denied all due process and summarily executed in the local football stadium in weekend rallies. Also if during that bleak future moment the brutal dictator lording over us decides to harbor a group of alien allied fanatics who proceed to launch a terrorist attack on the Shanghai Financial Center. Then under this circumstance I will welcome our new Chinese installed government with open arms.
posted by humanfont at 9:14 AM on August 25, 2011










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