Afghanistan: Pentagon Payments to Warlords Undermine Central Government

The Pentagon, to secure supply lines, is effectively making payments to warlords in Afghanistan. Not only is that undermining the central government (as in by reinforcing competing centers of power), but it also appears to be helping to fund the insurgents.

Now before you put that overview in the “You cannot make this stuff up” category, actually, it’s the reverse. This is a completely predictable outcome given the situation in Afghanistan, which is that the US, like the Soviets before us, controls only the cities, and is in completely hostile territory elsewhere.

Remember, for all practical purposes, there is no infrastructure in Afghanistan. As reader Crocodile Chuck pointed out, “The entire military supply chain is flown in: equipment, materiel, food, fuel. It’s like staging a war on the moon.” So if you want to secure passage across the countryside, say to move munitions or troops, you need the cooperation of the not so friendly locals. The warlords aren’t above taking bribes, but the officialdom has somehow managed to harbor the illusion that paying money to people who are hostile to our occupation is likely to result in the funds being used against us. Bloomberg gives an overview:

Contractors on a $2.1 billion job trucking U.S. supplies into Afghanistan are paying millions of dollars in protection money to warlords controlling their routes, according to a congressional report.

Contractors told congressional investigators they believe that, in turn, “the highway warlords make protection payments to insurgents” who are fighting the U.S., though there wasn’t direct evidence backing that claim..

Yves here. That “wasn’t direct evidence” looks like someone desperately trying to find a fig leaf. Back to the piece:

The eight contractors who carry food, fuel, ammunition and other goods under the Afghan Host-Nation Trucking Contract are expected to provide for their own security without U.S. military escorts.

This has led to an ad-hoc system where the principal private security subcontractors are “warlords, strongmen, commanders and militia leaders who compete with the Afghan central government for power and authority,” the report said…

The trucking contracts cover 70 percent of the U.S. overland supply chain that typically starts in Pakistan, moving in convoys of as many as 300 trucks through Pashtun tribal lands to U.S.-controlled distribution hubs near Bagram Airfield and Kandahar Airfield.

Yves here. The Associated Press reported that the Afghan “security firms” could be getting as much as $4 million a week from the trucking contractors for protection.

The part that is a wee bit misleading is the suggestion that military escorts would end the need for payoffs. It is going to be interesting to see what happens if this inquiry does indeed put an end to the bribes, because the result may well be much more serious problems with resupply. An article in the Boston Globe noted:

“While is it important that we continue to do all we can to combat illicit financial flows, setting up an alternative to Afghan private security contracts — such as having US troops escort the goods — would be costly and entail additional dangers,’’ said Jeremy Pam, guest scholar at US Institute of Peace.

As we pointed out in an earlier post, the sudden touting of the presence of a lotta minerals in Afghanistan (which it turns out was not news, except maybe to the chump American public) appeared to be an effort to bolster a military campaign that is going not at all well. We cited our sometimes guest poster Richard Kline, who pointed to an unintentionally damning piece in the Christian Science Monitor and provided this take:

Here are a few points in takeaway, directly from statements of joes in the 12th infantry a few miles outside Kandahar.

1) They absolutely do _not_ control the countryside.

2) The Taliban engage them—when they want to, where they want to, as they want to—not the other way around.

3) The occupiers are engaged in an attritional contest where everywhere they go is now mined and they lose a steady, bloody drip of casualties anytime they move.

4) The Taliban have received heavy reinforcements from outside the region which the occupiers are unable in any meaningful way to interdict.

5) The Taliban can, and do, kill anyone who cooperates in any remote way with the occupation, and neither the occupation nor its regime can do anything about this whatsoever.

6) The operational objective of this particular unit was, in effect, to ‘inconvenience the manueverability’ of the Taliban units.

7) The operational objective of their regional command (in Kandahar) was ‘to control the big cities so that they (the Taliban) would have to come to terms with us.’

And keep in mind, this is all taking place at the height of The Surge II in the region with maximum deployment of assets declared as the primary objective of the present occupation campaigning season.

There is a word for this configuration of conditions: defeat. This is why Stan McChrystal is re-polishing his shiny balls: he and his are completely immobilized, have lost any operational initiative that they may have had, can’t do a damn thing about it, and are now trying to keep the large population centers hostage to some kind of settlement. This looks highly like the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, minus the saturation bombing but with far more boots on the ground. This looks amazingly like the Indochina dumb-a-thon; even the kind of rhetoric used by the guys in the article I mention would be entirely in place, trying to paint a picture of failure as one where the occupation is ‘in control and on plan’ by milspeak fuzziness and omission, much of it the unintentional result of what is left when candor is excluded.

The problem, as Kline pointed out later in comments, is that the US has chosen not to understand the nature of this engagement:

….this is a Pashtun war against a widely detested occupation. We’re not fighting the largely mythical al-Qaida, imperialist talking points nothwithstanding: we’re fighting the people who live on the ground, and their immediate cousins who live over the crestline….

The Taliban has demonstrated, deep support from a plurality of the Pashtuns of Afghanistan on its worst day. That day is behind us. They likely have majority support now, and have backing in areas where one never would have expected that in a generation such as the North Slope. All most as importantly, the Taliban completely dominate the security of the countryside: no one whom they dislike survives, at this point. No one turns them in and survives. No one takes $29 of wampum and an iPod from the occupiers and survives. Sure, the Taliban would rather make nice and have strong support, but the demonstrated fact, in _multiple current reports_ is that the insurgency dominates the locals totally. The US can do nothing about this. Stan McChrystal thought he had a sepoy army and collaborationist bureaucracy read to roll to handle the countryside once he ‘manhandled’ Those People’ out of the way; he has now been disabused of that notion; nothing of the sort exists, OR WILL EXIST…

The war is lost, I said. Now, ‘lost’ is a relative term….The Taliban cannot, yet, eject the occupation; it may be that they never can on their own, as they are now. The occupation cannot defeat the Taliban, and the cost for staying in the Great Game only gets higher as the insurgency gets better and broader. I mentioned several analogous conflicts for the present state of conditions describing the war in the Stans. I left out the best one, though: South Lebanon. Israel had all the air one could ever want, vast ‘technological superiority,’ held every town, had a better force ratio _by far_ than the occupation has or will ever have in the Stans, and operated in terrain generally more favorable to an occupier than that of Afghanistan, and snatch-and-grabbed ‘leaders’ profusely—and left with their tails between their legs. The tactics used by the insurgency in South Lebanon are those exactly being used in Afghanistan, and that is 100% no coincidence, and not simply because they worked there. The Israelis couldn’t win in Lebanon anymore than we can win in Afghanistan, and got tired of the expense of non-losing, not least because the insurgency there were gradually getting better weapons, raising the costs, and had generally outfought the occupiers huddled in their iron coffins…

Strategically,the situation is exactly the same [as the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan]: the Soviets held the cities, but not the countryside, not ever. The present Taliban-led insurgency is far more effective than the mujahideen ever were, and operationally active in more of the countryside, this despite the fact that the US has significantly more ground in place than the Soviets ever did.

Yves here. Other factoids strongly suggest our little adventure (actually, technically a NATO operation, as reader aet pointed out) is not going swimmingly. The UK wants out. A story last week in Der Spiegel (hat tip reader Swedish Lex) similarly indicated that Germany is thinking about exiting:

The belief that things will end well in Afghanistan is dwindling in Germany. An increasing number of security experts recommend an orderly withdrawal and even those who were involved in sending the Bundeswehr on the mission are now voicing doubts about ultimate success….

Asked if everything is going well in Afghanistan, [former Defense Minister Peter] Struck bursts out with, “No!” Asked if the German Armed Forces, the Bundeswehr, are where they had hoped to be, he exclaims, “No, of course not!” He can clearly remember the days following Sept. 11, 2001. Struck was chairman of the SPD’s parliamentary group when then-Chancellor Gerhard Schröder declared Germany’s full solidarity with the United States. This statement effectively meant Germany would be going to Afghanistan. “One year, then we’d be back out, that’s what we thought back then,” Struck says, poking at his fish, before adding, “We thoroughly deceived ourselves.”…

The price is soaring higher and higher, in terms of both human lives and finances. Officially, the mission costs Germany €1 billion ($1.2 billion) per year, but experts place the true costs at three times that amount, which would make it 10 percent of the country’s defense budget. Official data has the war in Afghanistan costing Germany over €6 billion so far.

Yves here. I wonder how long the drip drip drip of lack of progress in Afghanistan, plus continuing budget pressures in the US, will lead us to find a graceful exit. Unfortunately, having put our prestige on the lines, I suspect it will not be soon.

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    1. alex black

      Sometime in the future, when discussing a dumb war, you’ll be able to add Afghanistan? to the top of that list.

      I’m waiting for someone, anyone, to come out and give a decent reason why we shouldn’t declare victory and leave. I’m not hearing anyone.

      1. D. Warbucks

        Here are my top 5

        * Oil pipeline through the country (Unocal)

        * Forward bases for attack of Iran

        * Large transfers of wealth to military-industrial complex

        * Christians vs. Muslims

        * Control of world opium trade

  1. Skippy

    When your antagonist controls the WHERE, WHEN and TIME on the battlefield…offers no home bases to attack…looks like everyone else…has supply lines to the points on a compass…fights for ancestral honor dating before the west was around…is not deluded or questioning as to why they fight…you will lose…

    Skippy…how much blood and money it takes to figure this out, is an indacator to your level of idiocy.

  2. attempter

    One thing I’ll add to the fact of its being a Pashtun insurgency as much as or more than a “Taliban” insurgency is that according to what I’ve read the regime, like the Northern Alliance which constituted it, is Tajik dominated.

    In the army, the police, the civil service, almost all of the higher positions are considered by the Tajiks to be their property, and they have no intention of letting multiethnic meritocracy prevail (even if that weren’t a ridiculous concpet for lots of other reasons). Karzai is therefore the Pashtun face of a basically Tajik regime.

    So if that’s true, that puts in proper perspective the absurdity of thinking you can entice large numbers of Pashtun fighters to stop fighting with the promise of “jobs”, the way McChrystal says is his plan. There are no jobs or power for them in this regime.

    I once tried putting myself in their shoes:

    The likely outcome seems pretty clear.

  3. psychohistorian

    If you have permanent wars, you have to keep killing people. We have been at it about 10 years now and no one really knows the numbers we have killed, do they?

    When does it start becoming genocide?

    Our current wars, our crumbling economy and the ecological disaster unfolding in the Gulf are the fruits of fascism.

    I would like to see the roots of this growth of fascism eliminated from the soil of society.

    1. sgt_doom

      When does it start becoming genocide?

      With the first murder. And there have been many thousands, if not more, by this time, dating back to when National Security Council Director Zbig Brzezinski began and the covert operation of relocating Wahabist Islamic Fundamentalists — with the help of his Saudi Arabian buddies, you know, those guys Bush danced with and smooched on their cheek (and what else behind closed doors??) — to the norther border of Afghanistan back in the late ’70s to destabilize the secular government of Afghanistan.

      Many, many souls ago….

  4. F. Beard

    They hate US cause we’re free?
    (If this would only be!)
    No, they hate US cause we’re there.
    Just how is this unfair?

    And what if some came here
    with troops and battle gear?
    Would we treat them all as friends
    or our native soil defend?

    Does the Golden Rule apply?
    If not, please tell me why?

      1. alex black

        A lot of Brits are starting to feel the same way, especially those pesky “pensioners”.

  5. Expat

    Taliban, Viet Cong, Iraqi insurgents, Sandinistas, Moros. Terrorists and enemies of freedom! Unless of course, by “freedom” you mean the right of self-determination and an end to right-wing dictatorships.

    It would be amusing to look at British press clippings from 1775-1783 and substitute any of the above for American Colonists.

    As far as the cost of the war, let us not forget all the jobs and wealth created. Afghanistan and Iraq employ thousands of soldiers and support a huge military-industrial complex including great American corporations like General Dynamics, GE, Halliburton and Colt. If we keep spending hundreds of billions a year to slaughter (totally expendable) brown people, which includes our heavily minority army, we will harm shareholders and employees.

    Personally, I believe the best solution to ALL our problems would be intra-mural wars. California vs. New York or Louisiana vs Michigan. We would not have to waste money on damned foreigners. We would kill just as many black and brown people (not to mention all the illegal immigrants in California). We would raze empty housing developments, ending the glut.

    Simply call this “A Modest Proposal II”.

  6. Expat

    Should read in third paragraph: “UNLESS we keep spending…”

    But you knew that already.

  7. i on the ball patriot

    Fascist coming out party …

    This post dovetails nicely with the closet fascists; Obama, Kagan and the supreme court, having their coming out party yesterday when they ruled that “human rights advocates, providing training and assistance in the nonviolent resolution of disputes, can be prosecuted as terrorists,”.

    The rationale for the fascist court’s decision is that it “frees up other resources within the organization that may be put to violent ends,” and, “It also importantly helps lend legitimacy to foreign terrorist groups – legitimacy that makes it easier for those groups to persist, to recruit members, and to raise funds – all of which facilitate more terrorist attacks,”.

    Of course here it is not peaceful protest support given to the ‘terrorists’ you report on but rather direct payment to the listed ‘terrorist group’ that not only frees up resources but actually buys them.

    Can we all say in unison now, scam rule of law selectively enforced!

    The common denominator of all terrorist groups world wide is that they have ALL been severely fucked over by global corporate imperialism (the real terrorism).

    I think the read on ‘win’ and ‘lose’ in this post is old box thinking.

    The situation in Afghanistan is not so much one of losing as it is more of a SUCCESS in terms of its real intent, provocation and agitation to destroy population, much like in Iraq, where new puppets have been installed and the people now decimate each other instead of living peacefully under Saddam.

    This is not the old vanilla Greed style, profit driven, ‘win the war’ world. This is the new and improved Pernicious Greed style, control driven, ‘perpetual conflict war’ world. It is an ‘enclave’ strategy from the get go, salted with random and sporadic collective punishment, think drones and Fallujah. You see the same ‘enclave’ strategy in scamerican cities now, where portions of the cities are GIVEN over, yes given over, to the gangs but people are stuck/contained in there enclaves to decimate each other and live in fear.

    I think the fascist coming out of Obama, Kagan and the supreme court, is a historically pivotal event.

    1. It is meant to be divisive and feed the perpetual conflict meme.

    2. If it is not challenged in the streets immediately it is game over time. They have in effect banned the politics of Ghandi, MLK, etc., and forced voting is right around the corner in scamerica.

    Consider; does this post and thread, which could be construed as being “in coordination with” all progressive/left sites, which could include those of the ‘terrorist’ groups, give aid and comfort to the enemy?

    Do we all see the chilling of Free Speech and the intentional intimidation and divisiveness?

    Remember; those who vote, and those who constantly tender remedial plans to the corrupt system, only serve to legitimize, validate, and keep in power that corrupt system. You aid, abet, and assist in your own exploitation and the death of your own spirit.

    Election boycotts are in order as a ‘vote of no confidence’ in this crooked government. While you still have the chance.

    No balls! No brains! No freedom!

    Deception is the strongest political force on the planet.

    1. Mickey Marzick in Akron, Ohio

      “Remember; those who vote, and those who constantly tender remedial plans to the corrupt system, only serve to legitimize, validate, and keep in power that corrupt system. You aid, abet, and assist in your own exploitation and the death of your own spirit.”

      Then your proposal for a ‘Universal Facts Label’ on Sunday was a “remedial plan” to… legitimize, validate, and keep in power that corrupt system? Isn’t such a proposal reformist and working within the system to change it? What else could it be? But now today… such a REFORMIST proposal would aid, abet, and assist in …exploitation and death of… spirit? Then why even bother to propose it if it only leads to the latter?

      Think about what you said above today and then what you said on Sunday re: Universal Facts Label. Is it merely a question of day-to-day tactics and/or political expediency?

      Deception IS the greatest force on the planet.

      1. i on the ball patriot

        Errr … the Universal Facts Label was a plan to be created OUTSIDE the system — without permission remember? — to expose the corruption, inequality, exploitation and oppression of spirit WITHIN the system. It was not a plan to submit to some corrupt lawmaker or corrupt government official, rather it was a seed planted that might germinate with kindred spirits on the net who recognize the futility in trying to work within the system that is so TOTALLY non responsive.

        What I said today, and thanks for a reason to repeat it, is;

        “Remember; those who vote, and those who constantly tender remedial plans to the corrupt system, only serve to legitimize, validate, and keep in power that corrupt system. You aid, abet, and assist in your own exploitation and the death of your own spirit.”

        “to the corrupt system” is the operative phrase, followed by advocating system shunning boycotts to effect a new system through, ultimately, a constitutional rewrite.

        Regarding your emphasis on IS in your closing comment;

        “Deception IS the greatest force on the planet.”

        You seem to imply that I am being intentionally deceptive rather than inconsistent, neither of which I am?

        What’s up with that Mickey?

        Deception is the strongest political force on the planet.

  8. Dan Duncan

    The best part about the laughable, Richard Kline analysis is that it is always unsupported. It’s always Yves Smith channeling Richard Kline. And Richard Kline’s analysis is nothing more than opinion-spewing peppered with glittering generalities and empty rhetorical flourishes. [Oh wait, he did manage to interview some “joes in the 12th infantry”…because he paraphrases them to give a sweeping analysis of a complicated war.]

    It’s a joke.

    How does one counter “No one takes $29 of wampum and an iPod from the occupiers and survives.”?

    Richard does state that the Taliban “controls the countryside”. It appears safe to say that the US does NOT control the countryside. Fair enough.

    But Richard goes further: He says its the Taliban that controls the countryside. But from the referenced article in Bloomberg, it appears that it is the “Warlords” that have a disproportionate influence on the countryside. Believe it or not, the Warlords are NOT the Taliban. Now, I’m not saying that this is great news for the US. I’m just saying that distinctions often matter. Richard doesn’t make them. Richard has no idea what he’s stalking about.

    Finally, as to the situation being “strategically exactly the same as the Soviet occupation”….

    What a ridiculous statement.

    So let me see:

    The Soviets tried to set up a civil society, free the women, establish schools, provide for honest elections, professionalize the Afghan Army and police to protect the people, and build infrastructure for a market economy?!?!

    I had no idea.

    Is part of the US initiative setting up mines in the shape of toys and ball point pens? It definitely was part of the Soviet plan to win the hearts and minds and to this day it still suckers children into blowing themselves up.

    Here’s an Swiss journalist’s account to the Soviets in Afghanistan:

    Civilians tied up and used as shields.
    Homes and shops looted.
    Old men forced to carry heavy bags of ammo for long distances and beaten while doing so.
    Purposeful burning of crops and poisoning the food.

    Believe it or not, I’m not defending the war. I hate this war.

    I’m attacking bullshit speculation from “pundits” who don’t know what they are talking about…while spreading incomplete or inaccurate information in the form of “professional analysis”.

    1. Skippy

      Cough…Dan…the Taliban is an engrish nomenclature like the ones from the last news cycle, they prefer jihadists, which translates to_yankee go home_in a airbus or bag if you like, and then we go back to what we were doing before.

      Skippy…is that f*#kn accurate enough for you now…whats a cold war arm chair horse too do, now days?

    2. charcad

      “[Oh wait, he did manage to interview some “joes in the 12th infantry”…”

      The “joes in the 12th infantry” will start talking this way after 12 hours on a peacetime FTX. PFC Snuffy’s sole definition of victory is to get out of the field and back to the ‘vil so he can resume banging momma every hour on the hour. And with a cold case in easy arm’s reach.

        1. charcad

          PFC = “Private First Class”. “PFC Snuffy” is infantry officer slang. This is sometimes used to describe groups of average entry level infantry soldiers. Although among themselves officers often dropped PFC and just used “Snuffy” or even “snuff”.

          “Peacetime FTX” = “field training exercise”.

          ‘vil (“ville”) = Civil housing and market area outside the home base. Sometimes it might mean a nearby red light & market district. These always appear spontaneously in response to the “government stimulus” provided by the adjacent military base.

          Either way, it means an area containing many nubile young women.

          “banging momma every hour on the hour.” Do you really need this part translated? If so, I see absolutely no hope for any part of Europe.

          “cold case” = 24 very cold cans of beer. Preferably at 1 degree Celsius or so.

      1. Skippy

        Ahh the jacuzzi phase of R & R, SSS, pogie, grog, girl named candy and pillow talk…hope RK wasn’t under cover (ouch bad pun).

        Skippy…cracked me up charcad…remind me which one is the real world please.

        1. charcad


          The unreal world is the one Richard Kline cites hopefully as indicating imminent defeat. I think this is the outcome he wants so he grasps at any indicator that looks like it.

          What Kline doesn’t grok is that Snuffy always tells visiting strangers exactly what he thinks they want to hear, subject to Snuffy’s own grand strategy of getting back in momma’s bed with a cold case under his arm, and ‘mos tic.

          When I want to check the troops collective morale I pull the following dipsticks:

          1. AWOL Rate. (deserters for Swedish Lex)
          2. Reenlistment rate.
          3. Incidence of fraggings. Fraggings are attempted and actual assassinations of superior officers by their own troops in combat theaters.

          These metrics say the current campaign can be sustained indefinitely.

          1. Anonymous Jones

            Who, in the post or at any point in the thread, doubted the indefinite sustainability of the campaign?

            Is it possible that your vast knowledge of jargon and your dipstick analysis actually conceals a more complex process going on underneath the surface? Surely not…

            By the way, your vast knowledge of jargon really *is* impressive. I shrink in fear when you haughtily humiliate someone who can’t keep up with your patois. Sweet human beings…they’ll never let you down…evil to the core…

          2. Skippy

            Troop morale you say.

            WASHINGTON, Jan 13, 2010 (IPS) – Suicides among United States military veterans ballooned by 26 percent from 2005 to 2007, according to new statistics released by the Veterans Affairs (VA) department.

            “Of the more than 30,000 suicides in this country each year, fully 20 percent of them are acts by veterans,” said VA Secretary Eric Shinseki at a VA-sponsored suicide prevention conference on Monday. “That means on average 18 veterans commit suicide each day. Five of those veterans are under our care at VA.”

            The spike in the suicide rate can most clearly be attributed to the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the high number of veterans returning to the U.S. with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

            ”We have now nearly two million vets of Iraq and Afghanistan and we still haven’t seen the type of mobilisation of resources necessary to handle an epidemic of veteran suicides,” Aaron Glantz, an editor at New America Media editor and author of “The War Comes Home”, told IPS.



            Over the next few days, we can expect to see more reports about the strain of repeat deployments and the rise in military suicides. But it’s also worth pointing out that these soldier-on-soldier (“fragging”) incidents have been extremely — extremely — rare. Why is this the case? In a statement, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America founder Paul Rieckhoff said: “Unlike during the Vietnam War, today’s military is a professional, all-volunteer force. There have been only five cases of intentional fratricide by U.S. service members in Iraq.”

            This is a very important point to tease out. A professional, all-volunteer military is more than just a selective (and self-selecting) group. Service comes with a social compact: Deployed troops should have access to first-rate medical care; they will receive psychological screening; and their families should have access to a support network. While those ideals do not always translate to practice, the American public generally will spare no expense to make sure its volunteer military is properly trained, extremely well equipped and well protected. Deploying as a unit, rather than sending individual replacements, also bolsters morale. All of those factors — the support network, the screening, the good care, the willingness to be there – help cut down on tensions which could eventually lead to fratricide.

            But Rieckhoff’s statement also underscores a subtle prejudice within the professional military that, by their very nature, draft armies are packed with disgruntled troops, ready to disobey or kill incompetent commanders. That point, however, is open to debate. Yes, America’s last big draftee force — in Vietnam — saw many G.I.-on-G.I. deaths; Texas A&M history professor Terry Anderson cites 450 cases of the killing of an officer with a fragmentation grenade. (I would also refer to this memoir by a Naval Investigative Service officer who had the unhappy duty of investigating these crimes.) But many predominately draftee units fought with great bravery, despite what reservations they may have had about their leadership or the war. And the conscription=fragging formula doesn’t necessarily work when we look at other wars: The United States had a massive conscript army in World War II, but few reported cases of violence toward superiors. In World War I, French units mutinied on the Western Front; British troops did not.

            Read More

            Recrutment rates,


            In violation of its pledge to the United Nations not to recruit children into the military, the Pentagon “regularly target(s) children under 17,” the American Civil Liberties Union(ACLU) says.

            The Pentagon “heavily recruits on high school campuses, targeting students for recruitment as early as possible and generally without limits on the age of students they contact,” the ACLU states in a 46-page report titled “Soldiers of Misfortune.”

            This is in violation of the U.S. Senate’s 2002 ratification of the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

            Pentagon recruiters are enrolling children as young as 14 in the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps(JROTC) in 3,000 middle-, junior-, and high schools nationwide, causing about 45 percent of the quarter of million students so enrolled to enlist, a rate much higher than in the general student population. Clearly, this is the outcome of underage exposure.

            In some cities, such as Los Angeles, high school administrators have been enrolling reluctant students involuntarily in JROTC as an alternative to overcrowded gym classes! In Lincoln high school, enrollees were not told JROTC was involuntary. In Buffalo, N.Y., the entire incoming freshman class at Hutchinson Central Technical High School, (average age 14), was involuntarily enrolled in JROTC. In Chicago, graduating eighth graders (average age 13) are allowed to join any of 45 JROTC programs.

            “Wartime enlistment quotas (for Iraq and Afghanistan) have placed increased pressure on military recruiters to fill the ranks of the armed services,” an ACLU report says. Trying to fill its quotas without reinstituting a draft “has contributed to a rise in…allegations of misconduct and abuse by recruiters” that “often goes unchecked.”

            The Pentagon also spends about $6 million a year to flog an online video game called “America’s Army” to attract children as young as 13, “train them to use weapons, and engage in virtual combat and other military missions…learn how to fire realistic Army weapons such as automatic rifles and grenade launchers and learn how to jump from airplanes,” the ACLU reports. As of Sept., 2006, 7.5 million users were registered on the game’s website, which is linked to the Army’s main recruiting website.


            Skippy…Cohort did do alot to deal with fragging eh…next. expand search.

          3. charcad


            After my own 7 months on the 11th floor at Eisenhower AMC I’d be the last to deny the physical, mental and emotional cost of war.


            “Recruiting. All four active services met or exceeded their accession goals for May 2010.”

            “Retention. Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force retention is at or above the fiscal year-to-date goals for the first eight months of the year.” (i.e. fiscal year).

            Similar results were reported for the reserves. These numbers are what they are. Coming nine years into the Zionist Neocons Forever War, they indicate a capacity for sustained campaigns well into the next decade. There is no shortage of troops from exhaustion.

            I never said I supported these wars. And I have stated elsewhere, repeatedly, that I and my family publicly opposed them in our locale at a time when flag waving was at its most intense. And when virtually all of the self-annointed self-righteous progressives were either in hiding or waving their own flags.

            But this thread, starting with Yves’ original post, has featured errors of fact, non-stop disinformation and the endless confusion of inner desires for objective facts.

          4. Skippy

            I totally agree with your statement, they will find the bodies (GFC will take care of that), with the caveat that the age and maturity of said bodies will be counter productive after serving in moving goal post conflict, society will suffer their return in more ways than one.

            Skippy…McChrystal’s actions said it all for me, do you see hand washing, request to get fired…get as far away from his civi bosses——>as he can.

          5. DownSouth


            You’ve obviously made up your mind what you want to believe, and you are going to filter out any evidence that doesn’t square with your beliefs.

            The Rolling Stone article also addresses the issue of poor troop morale, but by observing the strained interaction of the troops with McCrystal.

            Oh, but you invent some rationale to completely dismiss anything and everything the guys out there on the front lines are saying. The troops always complain, according to charcad, so this evidence doesn’t count.

            Then there’s your flight from reality, taking refuge in an excessive use of jargon. You seem to believe that embues you with some sort of superior knowledge, or conveys some special status or exclusivity. But the effect is just the opposite: that makes you look like one of those Startrekkies, living in your own little insular world, cut off from reality. People who want to convince and persuade bring the discussion down to the level of their audience, putting it in terms they can easily understand.

            Your excessive use of jargon is just more evidence of the fantasy world you live in.

          6. Richard Kline

            So charcad . . . let’s talk. I’ll let this stand in for responses to other comments of similar stamp as well.

            Your comments imply that I am concerned with morale of the US troops in my remarks: I’m not, in any way. You accuse me directly of being unable to distinguish between grunts bitching and the operational situation of their engagement and campaign despite the fact that no conclusion I advanced was in any way dependent upon the the impression of result as opposed to the fact of posture of those doing the fighting. Further, you appear to have concluded, erroneously, that my view is that US ground might or will be ‘attrited out’ as a result of combat and unable to sustain an occupation at the strategic level, that is that they would be ‘defeated in an attritional struggle.’ Re-read what Yves has summarized of my analysis. You state first but finally, in effect, that I have a preconceived view of the worth of the enterprise which, putatively, leads me to fit facts to that perspective. Since you don’t read what I write here or give evidence that you engaged with or understood it if so, I think that last conclusion far better fits your head than mine. Your views on the soundness of my analysis are vacuuous, then, to say the least.

            As you appear to be, by your remarks, a former field level officer, those issues of morale and replacement levels are, or were, a matter of concern to you. They are not insignificant, but they are not relevant (and in the end irrelevant, a point to which I’ll return), because I’m speaking to the operational situation, and to a lesser extent the tactical situation, on the ground in the Stans. You see, I’m not interested in how the troops feel about what they’re doing, I’m interested in what they are _actually doing_ and what the Other Guys are actually doing. And as described in the details of multiple reports from the region—direct observation of embedded reporters peppered with interviews with grunts, field officers, civilian occupation flacks, Afghan villagers, Afghan local officials, Afghan higher officials, and reading between the lines on remarks from senior US leadership—the operational situation is rather shockingly bad for US ground in southern Afghanistan. Not as in ‘they’re being wiped out’ but as in ‘they don’t control shit’ and further ‘they aren’t accomplishing even the most basic part of their operation, and don’t have any plan that would allow them to change that.’ If you simply read what I read in these current reports, and are honest with yourself about the facts on the ground presented (a matter for you to decide), you won’t come to any other conclusion, either.

            In a conventional war, now, you come back and try again another day; rotate out those units, bring in different assets, make another/better plan. But this is an insurgency/counterinsurgency against the inhabitants of the country. That is the significance of the ‘it is now a war of attrition’ conclusion. Reducing the occupiers to an attritional grind is a win so long as the insurgency can sustain that, and there is every indication that not only can they sustain that but that they have consistently raised their level of activity and the level of cost to the occupation in the very teeth of an increased effort by the occupation. Operationally, the insurgency has defeated the present campaign of the occupation. Moreover, the insurgency is fighting the way they want to fight and imposing that on the occupiers, not the other way around. In an insurgency, the only real objective is the control of the population: that is Fact One. It is manifest that the insurgency has far better control of the population overall, and complete control of the rural population in much of southern Afghanistan where they choose to operate. This isn’t just something that they US troops ‘feel,’ although if you read their remarks the situation is evident, but something that the Afghans make quite plain in their own remarks, both to reporters and to occupation officials. That is a win for the insurgents, period. It is irrelevant, then, that the occupaton can sustain their present posture for the immediate future in terms of troop morale and replacement levels: the occupation is operationally repulsed from meaningful gain, and is inflicting no unacceptable costs on the insurgency into the bargain.

            Skippy accurately condensed the situation in remarks above which I’ll cite here: “When your antagonist controls the WHERE, WHEN and TIME on the battlefield…offers no home bases to attack…looks like everyone else…has supply lines to the points on a compass…fights for ancestral honor dating before the west was around…is not deluded or questioning as to why they fight . . . .” These are the facts on the ground, as indicated from multiple sources in multiple current reports. This fact set is _diagnostic_ of practically every vanquished counter-insurgency I can think of. If you haven’t done the homework, charcad, I suggest you go back and look at the track record.

            Strategically, the occupiers of Afghanistan were defeated the day they decided to impose their will by military force on the resident population. There was no winning military policy, ever: that is the delusion that keeps on eating blowback. The occupation was always a political equation, and the US has never put together a political strategy that would net a win, largely because we are far too arrogant to do what was necessary to get a good outcome (a much longer subject I’ll not take up this night.) But having decided on a military pursuit, the occupation had a great deal of political resource, deep military pockets, and great occupational flexibility. At this point, the occupation is operationally neutralized, and the political resource in the region is going down the toilet fast where not already expended. So all we have, charcad, is just what you described though I did not: deep military pockets from which to keep drawing blood and treasure to cast into the dust and away so long as we’re satisfied with doing that. For the insurgency, that’s a win. When you can tell me, charcad, how the occupation gets a ‘win’ from the present configuration of circumstances, then we can have a discussion. Staying in the game has a half-life, but no better outcome. I can think of conceivable political strategies, none of them at all probable, now, and none of them remotely on the agenda, as reported, of those directing the occupation and its war. That smells like the loss it is.

            The French didn’t leave Algeria because they were defeated: the left because they had lost, and there was no possible strategy that would get them anything that looked more like a win than they had on the day. So a bastard with balls said, “Fuck it,” and they left. And the situation of the occupation in Afghanistan isn’t even that good. Too bad for us, then, because though we’ve got plenty of bastards, but they haven’t a ball amongst them, so they’re willing to keep throwing good men after dead to no purpose.

    3. anonymous

      You say you are not defending the war, yet you are clearly defending the war.

      Truly Orwellian.

  9. gigi

    Afghanistan has a history of being “un-occupiable”. This goes back to the British empire and even earlier.

    The terrain is not conducive to pacification of the locals. Modern weapons may allow invaders to win targeted battles but not the war and definitely not the “hearts and minds”. The only way to “win” militarily in Afghanistan would be to flatten the country with Nukes (and I am NOT suggesting such an abomination).

    The US created the Taliban to fight the Soviets. After the Soviets left, Afghanistan was abandoned. That was the time to influence and re-engage.

    The only way to resolve the Afghan problem is time. Leave Afghanistan, make peace with Iran, set up social and cultural ties after a few years, invite some Afghans to the west, educate them, provide aid to the country, raise the education level of the country, etc. Act like friends and maybe in two generation there will be friendship.

  10. machinehead

    ‘There is a word for this configuration of conditions: defeat.’

    Vanquished in Vietghanistan. Not to mention the way permanent war erodes civil liberties (the Patriot Act is de facto martial law.)

    The troops will come home when their paychex bounce. Maybe sooner than anyone thinks.

    We coulda been a contendah …

    1. Richard Kline

      So bro’ head: “The troops will come home when their paychex bounce.” I said _exactly that_ in the back half of 2007. The Guvmint’s been printing pixels ever since, so I have less hope of that now than then. But still . . . !

  11. anonymous

    Obama’s War of Necessity is turning out the way everything else he touches has. You don’t run a government or an economy or a war by sound bites and speeches.

    Yves hit the nail right on the head when she mentioned ‘our prestige’ is the real issue. The dead-enders who continue to stand by this train wreck of a presidency aren’t about to admit they made a mistake. And no matter how much real damage this president and his gang of witless incompetents inflict on the rest of us, the dead-enders return again and again to the imaginary damage a ‘maniac’ like McCain would have done.

    So, even in the face of a collapsing job market, TARP money that goes to too big to fail banksters and public service unions, environmental mayhem, and the quagmire of Obama’s Necessary War, the dead-enders tell each other that deep down this really is the best America can do.

    How sad is that?

  12. Valissa

    Maybe I’ve been reading too much history of empire and history of war… but based on what I have learned, this strategy seems perfectly sensible to me given the situation in Afghanistan. Not that I think this will turn out well, as history shows that is unlikely too.

    I find it fascinating that liberals hold on to their fantasies about peace while conservatives hold on to their fantasies about smaller gov’t… when you are an empire you do not have much peace and you do not behave “nicely” to others except to manipulate… and when you have an empire you need a large bureaucracy to manage it… the size of gov’t tend to increase all empires.

    “clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right… stuck in the middle with you” – Stealers Wheel

  13. LeeAnne

    It looks like Iceland has a good plan for FREE speech –someone somewhere had to provide an escape valve for the oppressor America has become.

    From this morning’s Guardian: “WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange breaks cover but will avoid America”

    “…The film was edited and produced in Iceland where Assange spends a lot of his time and which last week prepared the most radical and liberal freedom of information legislation anywhere in the world.”

    Americans, particularly those in charge, need this lesson in the meaning of basic principles; that FREEDOM, for instance isn’t just another corporate/military slogan.

    –a good lesson on how real free markets work.

  14. Peripheral Visionary

    Well, the Taliban do admittedly have one thing going for them: pro bono propaganda work from American defeatists.

    I would be very interested to see the track record of predictions with respect to the Iraq War. My simple observation is that casual observers in the Western world are utterly clueless when it comes to insurgencies, which is why they’re routinely caught by surprise by developments, particularly the collapse of insurgent movements. Heedless of mounting evidence to the contrary, the Myth of the Invincible Guerrilla is alive and well and continues to be perpetuated in the amateur analytical circles of the West.

    Since so much of the analysis above is based on flawed premises (e.g., that the war is based in Afghanistan–it is not, the main front is in Pakistan, with Afghanistan being a secondary front), I will simply point out that confident predictions of valiant insurgents waging endless warfare have proven to be baseless in any number of recent conflicts. One reason for that may be that this type of analysis almost invariably falls back on conflicts with radically different circumstances from completely different eras, specifically Vietnam and Afghanistan during the Cold War–both situations where insurgencies had the unlimited support of a world superpower, hardly the situation at present.

    More relevant comparisons would include such recent conflicts as Algeria, where the insurgency is all but dead; Sri Lanka, where the insurgency is officially dead; Peru, where ranks of the various insurgencies have been reduced to a handful of prisoners and one deranged American journalist; and last but not least, Chechnya, where all prior predictions to the contrary, the Russian government and its local allies are now firmly in control. The war in Afghanistan has proven to be just as lengthy as many of those conflicts, but I see no indication that the outcome will be any different.

    1. anonymous

      You’re completely wrong. Not about the defeatism. It’s there, all right, but the US never set out to win in Afghanistan. There is no metric for victory, just the absurd notion that thirty-six months of murder and mayhem might be enough to make Afghans love Uncle Sam.

      The entire project has a been a pr exercise to make Obama look tough. The US military understands that the rules of engagement allow the locals to do pretty much what they want, where they want and to whomever they want.

      The US isn’t about deploy its forces to win, because that would mean staying for fifty to one hundred years. There has never been any support for that kind of enterprise. You can’t betray a mission that doesn’t exist.

      I’m personally a fan of limited imperialism, but I’m well aware that’s a minority view.

    2. DownSouth

      American defeatists?

      More like American realists.

      We’re going on nine years now.

      Obama doubled down. And then he doubled down again. And we just keep moving farther and farther away from the goal posts.

      No reality and no common sense can penetrate the minds of the armchair generals and chicken hawks.

    3. Doug Terpstra

      Peripheral, your grasp of reality is tenuous, and your view of history shows tunnel vision.

      You write: “I would be very interested to see the track record of predictions with respect to the Iraq War.”

      Well, given that we haven’t left yet (at least $1 trillion and counting), it may be a while to assess them. But so far there a few notable failed predictions: that we would be “welcomed as liberators”; that it would be “weeks, months at most”; just a few dead-enders (Rummy); it would cost “$1.7 billion tops” (Wofie); we will find WMD (Bush); that al Queda is in Iraq (oh wait, that one is true, NOW); this will create a new paradigm for peace in the Middle East (just as soon as we vanquish a newly-empowered, emboldened Iran, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia…)

      “The war in Afghanistan has proven to be just as lengthy as many of those conflicts, but I see no indication that the outcome will be any different.”

      Afghanistan is known known as the “graveyard of empires” for many reasons, periphal, but maybe history has finally ended and “this time is different”:

      The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics: 1979-1989
      The British Empire: 1837-1919
      The Mughal Empire: 1525-1709
      The Timurid Empire: 1370-1506
      The Il-Khanate: 1245-1332
      The Mongol Empire: 1221-1245
      The Khwarezmid Empire: 1215-1221
      The Delhi Sultanate: 1206-1221
      The Ghurid Empire: 1186-1202
      The Ghaznavid Empire: 970-1186
      The Abbasid Caliphate: 750-970
      The Umayyad Empire of Arabia: 637-750
      The Tang Dynasty of China: 620-637
      The Hepthalite Kingdom: ca. 400-580
      The Sassanian Empire: 224-561
      The Kushan Empire: 135-240
      The Kingdom of the Western Satraps: 020-405
      The Indo-Scythian Kingdom: BC140-AD020
      The Greco-Bactrian Kingdom: BC250-BC048
      The Mauryan Empire: BC305-BC232
      The Seleucid Empire: BC323-BC250
      The Empire of Alexander the Great: BC328-BC323
      The Archaemenid Empire: BC550-BC328

      1. tyaresun


        Do you know how the ethnicity of “Afghanistan” has changed during all the empires that you mention?

        1. Doug Terpstra

          Quite a bit no doubt, as have national borders considerably and of course the name ‘Afghanistan’, but it is within that general geographic crossroads vortex on the Silk Road that those and even older empires (pre-coinage) have met their Waterloo.

    4. emca

      yah, I’ve been a defeatist since day one. Saw entry into Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam as defeat of America (American government) in terms of entry, not military outcome.

      Never saw though criticism of American foreign policy as a criticism of its Constitution, which I may add allows for free expression of dissent. Don’t see any mention of denigrating dissenters as un-American or “defeatist” there.

      One of the terms of defeatist is: “someone who is resigned to defeat without offering positive suggestions”

      I have a positive suggestion, “get the hell out”

      And lastly, an army shouldn’t go, if it doesn’t know when to stop, another tidbit for all those armchair generals.

      On another topic, I cannot help but marvel at the irony of Obama, whose claim to fame among supporters was his early singular prescience(?) on the error of entering into war in the Middle East, a favorite talking point on many a left-leaning blog. Not only has Iraq been ordain an open-ended proposition, but Afghanistan has been added to the mix. Go figure.

      Next president time I’ll vote for General Stan (the Man).

      Better chance of recognizing futility if you don’t have to appear tough.

    5. Richard Kline

      So Peripheral, you don’t see the reasons because you don’t do the comparisons. None of those you present are accurate comparables for the situation the occupation faces in Afghanistan. The details _matter_. Those are what I’ve discussed, here and in prior comments in prior threads, the relevant details. —But then I’ve never found that those who call others defeatists are concerned a damn with anything other than the self-serving fantasies they prefer to believe.

      There are reasons why some insurgencies are defeated and others succeed. Just as in looking at, say, financial bubbles, you can see a failure bloating in the sun in this matter too if you’ve bothered to do the history and acquire the situational analysis. When you choose to engage with something other than your own ideology, we might have a real discussion. I’ve seen nothing over time to suggest you have any interest in that, nor perhaps the capacity, so I won’t wait around in drawing my conclusions for your participation, shall we say.

  15. Doug Terpstra

    YVES: “This is a completely predictable outcome given the situation in Afghanistan, which is that the US, like the Soviets before us, controls only the cities, and is in completely hostile territory elsewhere.”

    As Michael Moore wrote to Obama about his “surge” in November 2009, “There’s a reason they don’t call Afghanistan the “Garden State” (though they probably should, seeing how the corrupt President Karzai, whom we back, has his brother in the heroin trade raising poppies). Afghanistan’s nickname is the “Graveyard of Empires.” If you don’t believe it, give the British a call. I’d have you call Genghis Khan but I lost his number. I do have Gorbachev’s number though. It’s + 41 22 789 1662. I’m sure he could give you an earful about the historic blunder you’re about to commit.”

    This graveyard has broken no fewer than 23 empires before us, dating back to before Alexander the Great in BC323. We will be the 24th, but of course this time it’s different.

    Richard Kline: “There is a word for this configuration of conditions: defeat. This is why Stan McChrystal is re-polishing his shiny balls: he and his are completely immobilized, have lost any operational initiative that they may have had, can’t do a damn thing about it, and are now trying to keep the large population centers hostage to some kind of settlement. This looks highly like the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, minus the saturation bombing but with far more boots on the ground.”

    This tracks with today’s Rolling Stone article “Runaway General”, airing dirty laundry and throwing people under the bus—clear evidence that the wheels are coming off the wagon.

  16. charcad

    There is no central Afghan government. There never has been one. Even the strongest rulers of Kabul were more akin to constitutional than absolute monarchs.

    As reader Crocodile Chuck pointed out, “The entire military supply chain is flown in: equipment, materiel, food, fuel. It’s like staging a war on the moon.”

    The bulk of supplies are coming overland as they always and only could. There are two ground routes and both are in use.

    1. Route 1 is through Pakistan and up the Khyber Pass. And what sort of overpowering enemy is this that can’t even stop civilian semi-truck convoys filled with supplies from running through their home territory?

    Please drop all “Vietnam” comparisons immediately. No way, shape or form. It’s just partisan agit-prop designed to induce particular emotions and activate pre-programmed reflexes in the reader. It’s not connected with conveying objective facts.

    2. Routes 2a & 2b are rail routes through Russia, Kazakhstan and down through Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan & Tajikistan into northern Afghanistan. These rail heads originally built by the Soviets to support their effort. A large proportion of the fuel – purchased in Russia and Kazakhstan – has always come from the north.

    In my view a principle reason for maintaining the Khyber Pass route is to prevent Putin from collecting excessive “tolls” for using his transport system.


    An increasing tonnage of “NATO” supplies in plain brown shipping containers are now transiting the northern route as well.

    Air Transport Routes (plural).

    The prime US air transport route is through Manas Air Base in Kyrgyzstan. Pull up Google Earth and look at the KC-135 refueler tankers based out of Manas. A secondary NATO base is located at Termez in Turkmenistan and supports German and other NATO European air transport.

    Another comparison failure point are unit sizes and intensity of engagement. Starting in late 1964 the Vietnam War often featured division and corps size battles.

    In this war getting the Pashtuns to assemble in battalion and brigade size formations has to be McChrystal’s wet dream. At that point he could bring massive air power to bear and that’ll be all she wrote. Afghanistan is not Vietnam or the Ho Chi Minh Trail with triple canopy jungle covering almost everything. And today’s night vision equipment is not the 1st generation gear of 1969.

    Nor do the Pashtuns possess (possessed by?) a unified and hierarchical command and control system like the Vietnamese Communists did. Jihadi combat leadership is pretty market oriented actually. Success attracts followers while failure disperses them.

    The one point of valid comparison with Vietnam is probably where and how the Pashtun consider they can win. That’s in Washington DC.

    1. anonymous

      “The one point of valid comparison with Vietnam is probably where and how the Pashtun consider they can win. That’s in Washington DC.”


      (catches breath)

      Only revisionist idiots still think the Vietnam War was lost on “will” terms.

      1. DownSouth

        I agree.

        One can only marvel at these acts of willful blindness that denote armchair generals and chicken hawks, and Obama.

        And for what purpose? War has become the thing that Clausewitz had once feared: “a complete, senseless thing, absolute manifestation of violence” that would “drive policy out of office and rule by the laws of its own nature.”

    2. Yves Smith Post author


      You are quite deliberately taking remarks out of context, and making groundless accusations. The post NOWHERE mentions Vietnam, yet you falsely assert that it does.

      This ENTIRE PIECE is about TRUCKING operations. Ergo, supplies and equipment are FLOWN, then trucked. The fact that one of the points from which they are trucked happens to be Kyrgyzstan and Turkmenistan is moot as far as the overall situation is concerned. Think our munitions or other combat supplies are purchased in either of those places? Even replacement uniforms would not come from Kyrgyzstan and Turkmenistan.

      Similarly, the “central government” is the notion being pushed in the US. Afghanistan had elections, right? Karzai is being presented as a ruler, right? I agree this is a fiction, but it is a fiction the officialdom is seeking to present.

      And when did you become omniscient? “And when virtually all of the self-annointed self-righteous progressives were either in hiding or waving their own flags.” You have absolutely NO idea where the writers I cited or the people who comment here stood on Iraq in the runup to the war. I was firmly opposed and demonstrated against it. So keep your unfounded opinions to yourself.

      This is nitpicking at best and arguably intellectually dishonest.

    3. Richard Kline

      Yes, yes, yes man *sigh*. The US has made a significant effort to re-lay its logistics out of Pakistan, with some success. . . . So what? The military struggle pursued by the occupation is not one that can be won in any way by logistics. We could equip every Murrican in the stans with a personal, portable toilet too if we so chose, and it wouldn’t matter a damn to the final outcome because the final outcome is political. ‘Afghan political’ not ‘Beltway political,’ unlike the perspective of ‘stabbed in the back’ loonies who don’t understand why or how we were defeated in Vietnam, for example.

      The Stans are not Vietnam; not at the fine grain anyway, although altogether too like it at the large grain. You raise some relevant fine grain distinctions; well and good, you actually have a few facts up your sleeve, that’s nice. At the large grain, there’s little difference because that conflict was never one that could be won operationally by all those divisions moving hither and yon. I notice that you don’t take up the South Lebanon parallel actually included in the post. Yes: I thought you wouldn’t like _that_ one.

      The occupation in Afghanistan won’t be lost because of ‘defeatists,’ charcad. It’ll be lost by the strategic idiots who in their grotesque arrogance started it, prosecute it, excusify their failures by inventing the putative faults of others, and by nitwits who think we accomplish anything constructive, moral, or sustainable in continuing it. I’ll file your monicker in the last pigeonhole until I have reason to think otherwise.

  17. Blurtman

    Presidential ranking system

    1.) Nice guy, effective
    2.) Scumbag, effective
    3.) Nice guy, ineffective
    4.) Scumbag, ineffective

    Obama is number 3. Bush was number 4.

    It was obvious that Stanley McChrystal, a bona fide war criminal, was a horrible choice for commander of Afghanistan.

    It is also unfortnately obvious that Obama does not have the experience for the job, and is taking poor advice from others.

    1. war pig

      I couldn’t disagree more. Obama got the Nobel peace prize. They awarded it prospectively knowing that he’d meet his kill quota. By contrast, Kissinger had to spend years having millions of people killed in order to get his.

  18. Blurtman

    Further, McChrystal is an effective killer who has been asked to do a ridiculous assignment, within ridiculous parameters.

  19. Sundog

    The title of this post is quite ironic. “Pentagon Payments to Warlords Undermine Central Government” could equally have been written in late 2001 when CIA agents were being dropped into Northern Alliance territory with little more than sat phones and enormous quantities of hundred-dollar bills.

    Then, the warlords receiving payment were fighting the Taliban. Now, the people who get our money are killing Americans and our allies and have added suicide bombing and IEDs to their repertoire. Meanwhile more US military now die of suicide than as a result of combat.

  20. Blurtman

    Obama’s judgement is absolutely flawed. Obama needs to resign. He is at best a fraud, and at worst extremely incompetent.

    McChrystal Lied About Tillman’s Death: Krakauer
    (Newser) – A new book is dredging up some uncomfortable history for Stanley McChrystal at an inconvenient time. Just as the general’s credibility is on the line in Afghanistan, Jon Krakauer’s paints McChrystal as the central figure in the cover-up of Pat Tillman’s friendly fire death. McChrystal says he made an honest mistake in writing Tillman’s Silver Star recommendation, but in a preview of his book yesterday on Meet the Press, Krakauer called that “preposterous.”

    “McChrystal was told within 24 hours it was friendly fire,” Krakauer said. Shown a video of McChrystal’s testimony, in which he said he “didn’t review….

  21. Blurtman

    Obama’s man McChrystal is a torturer and assassin. Just the man you’d want for a dirty job. But let’s be clear, the USA tortures and kills women, children and the elderly.

    In Secret Unit’s ‘Black Room,’ a Grim Portrait of U.S. Abuse

    As the Iraqi insurgency intensified in early 2004, an elite Special Operations forces unit converted one of Saddam Hussein’s former military bases near Baghdad into a top-secret detention center. There, American soldiers made one of the former Iraqi government’s torture chambers into their own interrogation cell. They named it the Black Room.

    In the windowless, jet-black garage-size room, some soldiers beat prisoners with rifle butts, yelled and spit in their faces and, in a nearby area, used detainees for target practice in a game of jailer paintball. Their intention was to extract information to help hunt down Iraq’s most-wanted terrorist, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, according to Defense Department personnel who served with the unit or were briefed on its operations.

    The Black Room was part of a temporary detention site at Camp Nama, the secret headquarters of a shadowy military unit known as Task Force 6-26. Located at Baghdad International Airport, the camp was the first stop for many insurgents on their way to the Abu Ghraib prison a few miles away.

  22. Starchild

    NATO probably *could* win the war in Afghanistan by decisively defeating the Taliban if it and its Afghan government allies were willing to take one key step — legalize opium and heroin, the products of Afghan poppy cultivation and mainstay of the country’s agriculture.

    As it is, the Taliban can both finance their operations and keep the loyalty of much of the populace by leaving poppy farmers alone in exchange for a cut of the inflated black market prices the crop brings.

    Unfortunately for the causes of democracy and women’s rights in Afghanistan, the governments of countries like the United States and Germany appear to prefer losing the war there to giving up their futile morality crusade against some drugs. Especially when, as noted above, Afghan president Hamid Karzai’s own brother is profiting from the drug trade.

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