Afghanistan Slips

Friday, July 4th, 2008

June was the bloodiest month for U.S. troops since the start of the war in Afghanistan. The Taliban (remember them?) is regrouping, and apparently gaining the capacity to conduct new terror attacks. And guess what? There’s nothing we can do about it. Because we’re over-committed to the debacle in Iraq. But don’t take my word for it. As our president is fond of saying, “listen to the generals.”

The nation’s top military officer said yesterday that more U.S. troops are needed in Afghanistan to tamp down an increasingly violent insurgency, but that the Pentagon does not have sufficient forces to send because they are committed to the war in Iraq.

Navy Adm. Michael G. Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said insurgent Taliban and extremist forces in Afghanistan have become “a very complex problem,” one that is tied to the extensive drug trade, a faltering economy and the porous border with Pakistan. Violence in Afghanistan has increased markedly over recent weeks, with June the deadliest month for U.S. troops since the war began in 2001.

“I don’t have troops I can reach for, brigades I can reach, to send into Afghanistan until I have a reduced requirement in Iraq,” Mullen told reporters at the Pentagon. “Afghanistan has been and remains an economy-of-force campaign, which by definition means we need more forces there.”

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25 Responses to “Afghanistan Slips”

  1. #1 |  Observer | 

    What do you think should be done? It seems to me the war has the same strategic problems and tactical challenges as Iraq coupled with a more primitive economy and terrain.

    Should we be building and protecting a semi-democratic government there as in Iraq? Should we just be pursuing al Qaeda and is it possible to do so without creating a viable alternative to them and the Taliban? What should we do when al Qaeda bases in Pakistan? What can we possibly do, even if we succeed in disrupting and killing al Qaeda groups in those two countries about the widespread hatred and enmity stemming from the entire Muslim world towards the West for a great number of reasons? And, should we capture al Qaeda forces on the battlefield in Afghanistan, what should we do? Should we imprison them and if so on what charge and for how long?

  2. #2 |  Dave Krueger | 

    Things will be even worse when the war with Iran begins.

    Wait. Maybe the complaints about lack of troops in Afghanistan is really just an excuse to start sending more troops there so they will be handy when when we need them in Iran…

  3. #3 |  Nando | 

    The two front war was a quagmire to begin with. I don’t remember which generals, but there were plenty who voiced their opinions prior to us going into Iraq about how it would severely hinder our abilities to both fight in Afghanistan and protect our national interests wherever they needed to be protected. Quite simply, that our forces weren’t adequate enough to fight two wars AND defend our interests or protect our country. But did the Administration listen? Of course not! They thought Iraq would be an in and out expedition; the equivalent of a nooner or a quickie, if you will.

    And now they’re caught by saying that “the surge is working” and criticizing Obama and other Dems for wanting to withdraw troops when Bush’s plan is working in Iraq. Yes, violence in Iraq is down, but at what cost? We also know that much of the Taliban is supported with drug money from the opium trade. The conundrum there is that if we destroy the poppy fields then we risk alienating the Afghan public, much of which is dependent on the poppy trade to survive. If we mess with their livelihood, they will just turn against the US and aid the Taliban.

    As many out there, I can see the problems. The problem is, I’m not smart enough to solve them (nor are most of our politicians, apparently).

  4. #4 |  Nando | 

    I don’t know if I made it clear in my last post, but what I was trying to do was explain how the Bushies are caught between “the surge is working, we can’t remove troops from Iraq or we fail,” and “more troops are needed in Afghanistan but we’re too heavily committed in Iraq.”

    Kinda puts them between a Iraq and a hard place.

  5. #5 |  Paddy | 

    Bush haters keep it up. It really sounds like your hoping the good ole USA will lose this war(s). It sounds like Balko is leading the cheers for the bad guys.

    “any call to indict the United States for torture is therefore a lame and diseased attempt to arrive at a moral equivalence between those who defend civilization and those who exploit its freedoms to hollow it out, and ultimately to bring it down. I myself do not trust anybody who does not clearly understand this viewpoint.”

    Know who said this last week??????????????

  6. #6 |  Paddy | 

    Not fat, old, UNCOOL Rush Limbaugh. Not Dick Cheney with that heart of stone that doesn’t work. None other than ultra-smart, ultra-cool, hip, happening, foreign, soccer loving, church hating, Englishman Christopher Hitchens. GASP!!!

  7. #7 |  tim | 

    It has nothing to do with hating or not hating Bush. It has everything to do with taking the appropriate steps to protect our country. And invading Iraq did not do that. Invading Iran does not do that. The simple fact is that Iraq was contained and wasn’t a threat. By invading we’ve made our country less secure.

  8. #8 |  Les | 

    Paddy, you’re thinking simplistically. This has nothing to do with hating Bush. It has to do with terrible strategic thinking (or an utter lack thereof). The fact is, the enemy is winning in Afghanistan precisely because of attitudes that value loyalty to the administration and hatred of Democrats over clear-headed, strategic thinking.

    To suggest that critics of the war want the terrorists to win is to lower yourself to a junior-high school level of discourse. There are plenty of active and retired servicemen who are extremely critical of this administration’s actions in Iraq and Afghanistan. Do you think they want the enemy to win? Really?

  9. #9 |  JJH2 | 

    #5.6 : Paddy

    Your dishonesty is appalling. You have selectively withdrawn a quote from Hitchens’ recent article which he clearly states he is expressing two arguments (in their strongest form) about whether waterboarding constitutes torture, and whether or not the US should engage in it, and represented it as his actual position. It’s telling that you snipped “On this analysis,” from before “any call to indict…”, because then Hitchens expresses a contrary position in the next paragraph.

    The previous part of the snipped out paragraph contrasts waterboarding to “real torture,” and implicitly assumes the justice and morality of certain goals (the US military’s), and the injustice and immoraltuy of other goals (Al Queda’s, the Iraqi insurgents, etc). And then Hitchens takes a crack at the alternative argument.

    For what it’s worth, he comes out agreeing that waterboarding IS torture, AND that the US should not be engaged in it.

    Anyone interested enough should read the whole thing for themselves:

  10. #10 |  Harkonnendog | 

    The war in Iraq is not a debacle. The Taliban IS able to conduct terror attacks… that does not mean they have somehow turned the tables.

    In reality the US is winning both wars, at the same time. When people refuse to acknowledge this simple reality one has to wonder why. It is natural to think it is because people don’t want the US to win. Otherwise why fight reality so hard?

  11. #11 |  Les | 


    Again, this is simplistic and, forgive me, juvenile thinking. There are lots and lots of military folks who believe that we are not winning and CANNOT win in either country. Are you going to tell them that they want the terrorists to win? Is it possible that people who love their country and only want the best for it think that the best thing to do is leave Iraq and focus on Afghanistan or even leave both countries?

    What if someone accused you of wanting more service men and women to die in those countries since you obviously can’t see the “reality” that we can’t win? Well, that would be a rotten thing to say. People who love their country can have differing opinions on the best thing for the country and even on things like military progress in a war-zone.

  12. #12 |  Paddy | 

    I stand by the Hitchens quote, I read the entire article and am glad you posted the link.
    Stop saying there are plenty of military folks that think the we’ve made mistakes in Iraq! Everyone knows we made mistakes in these wars, we make mistakes in every war. The US and England made many stupid mistakes during WWII but we didn’t let them drag us down to the point of wanting the bad guys to win. And don’t forget they are very bad guys.
    If someone would have told me ten years ago we have occupied BOTH IRAQ and AFG. with total losses of 4,000 I would have said it’s a miracle. There is a silent respect for Bush in this country from people that understand what must be done. We understand that life aint no fucking city council meeting.

  13. #13 |  Veteran | 

    Gen. William T. Sherman correctly said “War is Hell.”

    The U.S. problem in both Iraq and Afghanistan is that
    we have not brought that reality to our enemies. We’ve
    become too concerned about ROE and forgot that there
    are no second place winners in combat.

    Bringing the reality of war to our enemies means, as Gen. George Patton said, allowing the other fellow to die for his country. As soon as possible and in as large numbers as needed to totally eliminate his ability to fight.

  14. #14 |  Paddy | 

    “exploit its freedoms to hollow it out”

    That is damning! It must send a chill down your linguini spines to hear Hitch say that. Hitch is cool to you guys because he hates the Pope and Ronald Reagan. Plus he’s a Euro, or close to it, so he’s extra cool.

    This hollowing out freedoms is exactly what the World left has been trying to do for the last 40 years or so. Socialism can not survive unless we take away peoples choice not to participate.

  15. #15 |  Nando | 

    I spent 10 years on Active Duty and just recently separated from the Armed Forces. Bush as Commander in Chief was the primary reason I decided to do so. There is no way I want to serve under the incompetence that he brings to the office.

    And I also think we’re losing in Afghanistan. Do you mean to tell me that because I have this belief that I’m not patriotic or devoted to my country? I dedicated 10 long, hard years to my country, which is much more than most people can say.

  16. #16 |  Fûz | 

    Neither hating nor adoring Pres Bush over here, just hoping to redirect the subject: to what extent is our export of the War of Drugs affecting the situation in Afghanistan?

  17. #17 |  Les | 

    Stop saying there are plenty of military folks that think the we’ve made mistakes in Iraq!

    No need to yell. I didn’t say that. I said that there were plenty of military folks who think we’ll never win in Iraq and/or Afghanistan and that, by your logic, they must want the terrorists to win. So, if you stop saying that having a different opinion of our chances for victory in Iraq means you want the terrorists to win, I’ll stop reminding you of just how stupid that sentiment is.

    There is a silent respect for Bush in this country from people that understand what must be done. We understand that life aint no fucking city council meeting.

    Wow, you are hard core! If they respect Bush, I’d imagine they’re silent because they’re embarrassed. And if it’s “what must be done,” why don’t you go do it?

  18. #18 |  Les | 

    I stand by the Hitchens quote…

    This isn’t surprising.

  19. #19 |  Paddy | 

    I think Hitchens was clear. Read Andrew Sullivan where he trys to argue with Hitchens on the point. Sullivan does not try to twist the words to mean something else, something that is very popular here. (Scalia)
    You liberals are something else. I am disagreeing with you trying to make it appear there is this 97% hatred of the war and you can’t stand it.
    WalMart = Evil
    Bush = Dumb Bad
    Cheney = Mean Grampa
    Homosexual Activity = Good
    White men with haircuts = Evil
    Osama = Troubled Youth
    Obamba = Savior
    Downloading Free Music = Constitutional Right
    Guns = Evil
    Pot = Good

  20. #20 |  Paddy | 

    Read It Again!

    “any call to indict the United States for torture is therefore a lame and diseased attempt to arrive at a moral equivalence between those who defend civilization and those who exploit its freedoms to hollow it out, and ultimately to bring it down. I myself do not trust anybody who does not clearly understand this viewpoint.”

    “I myself do not trust anybody who does not clearly understand this viewpoint.”

    Can we twist those words to mean something else?

  21. #21 |  Les | 

    Paddy, your #19 post is delusional and dishonest. Why not be man enough to either say that members of the military who believe we can’t win in Iraq and/or Afghanistan want terrorists to win or admit that your #5 post was incorrect? One or the other. You can do it!

    If you’re not man enough to admit the flaw in that particular part of your reasoning, why don’t you just go over to Little Green Footballs or Free Republic, where one isn’t judged on the basis of intellectual arguments, but rather ideological loyalty?

  22. #22 |  Les | 

    Holy Crap, Paddy! I DID read it again. You left out the first sentence from your quote…”On this analysis…” meaning, “from this point of view.” He was describing the viewpoint of those in favor of waterboarding. That’s absolutely dishonest of you.

    (Or maybe you’re just fucking stupid. I suppose I could forgive the latter, but judging from your #19 post, you’re also a happily ignorant bigot, so maybe not.)

    Hitchens then goes on to argue AGAINST that “analysis.” The next section after your quote is:

    Against it, however, I call as my main witness Mr. Malcolm Nance. Mr. Nance is not what you call a bleeding heart. In fact, speaking of the coronary area, he has said that, in battlefield conditions, he “would personally cut bin Laden’s heart out with a plastic M.R.E. spoon.” He was to the fore on September 11, 2001, dealing with the burning nightmare in the debris of the Pentagon. He has been involved with the sere program since 1997. He speaks Arabic and has been on al-Qaeda’s tail since the early 1990s. His most recent book, The Terrorists of Iraq, is a highly potent analysis both of the jihadist threat in Mesopotamia and of the ways in which we have made its life easier. I passed one of the most dramatic evenings of my life listening to his cold but enraged denunciation of the adoption of waterboarding by the United States. The argument goes like this:

    1. Waterboarding is a deliberate torture technique and has been prosecuted as such by our judicial arm when perpetrated by others.

    2. If we allow it and justify it, we cannot complain if it is employed in the future by other regimes on captive U.S. citizens. It is a method of putting American prisoners in harm’s way.

    3. It may be a means of extracting information, but it is also a means of extracting junk information. (Mr. Nance told me that he had heard of someone’s being compelled to confess that he was a hermaphrodite. I later had an awful twinge while wondering if I myself could have been “dunked” this far.) To put it briefly, even the C.I.A. sources for the Washington Post story on waterboarding conceded that the information they got out of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was “not all of it reliable.” Just put a pencil line under that last phrase, or commit it to memory.

    4. It opens a door that cannot be closed. Once you have posed the notorious “ticking bomb” question, and once you assume that you are in the right, what will you not do? Waterboarding not getting results fast enough? The terrorist’s clock still ticking? Well, then, bring on the thumbscrews and the pincers and the electrodes and the rack.

    And the last paragraph in the article is:

    Which returns us to my starting point, about the distinction between training for something and training to resist it. One used to be told—and surely with truth—that the lethal fanatics of al-Qaeda were schooled to lie, and instructed to claim that they had been tortured and maltreated whether they had been tortured and maltreated or not. Did we notice what a frontier we had crossed when we admitted and even proclaimed that their stories might in fact be true? I had only a very slight encounter on that frontier, but I still wish that my experience were the only way in which the words “waterboard” and “American” could be mentioned in the same (gasping and sobbing) breath.

    You know, I’m done with you, Paddy. I often enjoy arguing with people I disagree with because I frequently learn something in the process. But with someone as dishonest and bigoted as you are, I might as well argue with a barking dog.

    Adios, Amoeba!

  23. #23 |  Dave Krueger | 

    #20 Paddy

    Read It Again!

    “any call to indict the United States for torture is therefore a lame and diseased attempt to arrive at a moral equivalence between those who defend civilization and those who exploit its freedoms to hollow it out, and ultimately to bring it down. I myself do not trust anybody who does not clearly understand this viewpoint.”

    “I myself do not trust anybody who does not clearly understand this viewpoint.”

    And his very next words are…

    “Against it, however, I call as my main witness…”

    You clearly don’t understand what Hitchins is saying. He’s giving a point of view and then arguing against it. By saying he doesn’t trust anyone who doesn’t understand that viewpoint is not saying he agrees with it. No one can read that article and think that Hitchins is in agreement with the paragraph you quote. No one.

    Except you.

  24. #24 |  Pat Rogers | 

    At the time, prosecuting the Iraq military excursion was and still is an act of treason against the United States of America because it gave “aid and comfort” to the Taliban by diverting limited national security and military resources from the real fight in Afghanistan to the phony war in Iraq.

    So to the support by both the Republicans and Democrats for the war on drugs gives direct “aid and comfort” to the Taliban.

    John A. Glaze
    October 2007
    For the U.S. Army War College

    “ estimated 70 percent of the Taliban’s income now comes from protection money and the sale of opium.”

    Traitors:Bush, Walters, McCain & Obama

  25. #25 |  Steve Verdon | 

    Or in short form:

    Iraq is preventing the U.S. from deploying more troops the the theater of operations where the people who actually brought us 9/11 reside. Thanks to Iraq, we might actually lose in the one theater were we had the legal and moral right to conduct operations.

    Thank you President Bush for being such a complete screw up.