Staying in Afghanistan Is a Recipe for More Terrorism

Barack Obama is daring the terrorists. He’s standing in their front yard. He’s calling them out.

Of course, that’s not how it’s reported. “US troops may stay in Afghanistan until 2024,” was the understated headline in The Telegraph. Under negotiation is an agreement keeping 25,000 American troops in Afghanistan a full decade after the current withdrawal deadline. Also on the table are military bases that the United States doesn’t want to give up…ever.

This is madness. “If the job is not done,” said the Russian ambassador to Kabul, “then several thousand troops…will not be able to do the job that 150,000 troops couldn’t do.”

The only thing worse than the hopelessness of this plan is the backwardness of it. In an effort to prevent terrorism, we are continuing the very thing that creates terrorism: our presence!   Continue reading “Staying in Afghanistan Is a Recipe for More Terrorism”

What to Read on Pakistan

How Dare They Bomb Pakistan, That’s Our Job — Scott A. Hill

According to the Brookings Institution, for every militant that is killed “10 or so civilians” can also consider themselves victims. It is a little known fact that President Obama has drastically increased these attacks since taking office.

For too long now, the West has been murdering innocent Pakistani civilians…whilst criticizing Taliban or al-Qaeda attacks that have killed analogous numbers…

Playing the China Card: Has the Obama Administration Miscalculated in Pakistan? — Dilip Hiro
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To supply the 100,000 American troops now in Afghanistan, as well as 50,000 troops from other NATO nations and more than 100,000 employees of private contractors, the Pentagon must have unfettered access to that country through its neighbors. Among the six countries adjoining Afghanistan, only three have seaports, with those of China far too distant to be of practical use. Of the remaining two, Iran — Washington’s number-one enemy in the region — is out. That places Pakistan in a unique position.

Obama Troop Surge Decision Ignored Pak-Taliban Ties — Gareth Porter

…Pakistan was determined to avoid an Afghan government “led by a Pashtun sympathetic to India” — i.e., Afghan President Hamid Karzai. The conclusion was that the Pakistanis would continue to aid the insurgency the U.S. was trying to defeat.

The NIE on Afghanistan concluded that the United States was unlikely to succeed in Afghanistan unless Pakistan changed its policy to take military action against insurgent sanctuaries in Pakistan. But the estimate on Pakistan made it clear that no such change in Pakistani policy could be expected.

But Obama approved a plan for 30,000 additional troops anyway…

What to Read on the Bin Laden Assassination

The Cost of Bin Laden: $3 Trillion Over 15 Years — Tim Fernholz & Jim Tankersley

What do we have to show for that tab? Two wars that continue to occupy 150,000 troops and tie up a quarter of our defense budget; a bloated homeland-security apparatus that has at times pushed the bounds of civil liberty; soaring oil prices partially attributable to the global war on bin Laden’s terrorist network; and a chunk of our mounting national debt, which threatens to hobble the economy unless lawmakers compromise on an unprecedented deficit-reduction deal.
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All of that has not given us, at least not yet, anything close to the social or economic advancements produced by the battles against America’s costliest past enemies.

What If Bin Laden Had Stood Trial? — Robert Lambert

[The] war on terror lost moral authority and became a gift to al-Qaida propagandists. The fact that the most effective counterterrorism is always closely focused on the prosecution of terrorist conspirators appeared to be of no concern in the Pentagon or Whitehall.

The Osama bin Laden Exception — Glenn Greenwald

The Allied powers could easily have taken every Nazi war criminal they found and summarily executed them without many people caring. But they didn’t do that, and the reason they didn’t is because how the Nazis were punished would determine not only the character of the punishing nations, but more importantly, would set the standards for how future punishment would be doled out.

Surveillance, Not Waterboarding, Led to Bin Laden — Spencer Ackerman

[Waterboarding] and other abusive techniques failed to get the name out of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and Abu Faraj al-Libbi. A New York Times account has both men claiming not to know even the courier’s nom de guerre, which actually may have counted as a kind of confirmation by omission in this case. That says something about the limits of brute force in interrogation.

Torture May Have Slowed Hunt for Bin Laden, Not Hastened It — Dan Froomkin

It now appears likely that several detainees had information about a key al Qaeda courier — information that might have led authorities directly to bin Laden years ago. But subjected to physical and psychological brutality, “they gave us the bare minimum amount of information they could get away with to get the pain to stop, or to mislead us…”

We Know That We’re the Good Guys

by Norman Horowitz

There was a nameless black and white movie I remember from the forties where two inebriated men go the roof of their apartment building to shoot fireworks at each other on the Fourth of July. One of the men says to the other “Okay, you be the bad guys and I’ll be the good guys.” The other man replies, “Why do I always need to be the bad guys?” The response was: “Because I always need to be the good guys.”

Like most Americans, I’m pleased that we have “eliminated” Osama bin Laden. However, it got me to thinking: Why does everyone else “have to be the bad guys”? I answer myself that is because “we need to be the good guys.”   Continue reading “We Know That We’re the Good Guys”

We Do Not Excuse, But We Must Understand

I don’t give Robert Fisk enough praise. No other Western reporter even comes close to him in covering the Middle East.

The fact that Fisk interviewed Osama bin Laden on three separate occasions should be evidence enough that his is a voice to be listened to in the wake of the mass murderer’s death. As usual, he says what we need to hear, though not necessarily what we want to*:

A middle-aged nonentity, a political failure outstripped by history — by the millions of Arabs demanding freedom and democracy in the Middle East — died in Pakistan yesterday. And then the world went mad.   Continue reading “We Do Not Excuse, But We Must Understand”