Tuesday, June 29

It's "You Broke It You Bought It", Not "You Broke It, So You're Just The Guy To Design An Unbreakable Version For Us".

Ross Douthat, "One Way Out". June 27

OKAY, Stop Me When the Barrel's Out of Fish:
Here is the grim paradox of America’s involvement in Afghanistan: The darker things get and the more setbacks we suffer, the better the odds that we’ll be staying there indefinitely.

Quagmire! Quagmire! Quagmire!

Look, Ross-boy: I don't need the utter failure of your ideas under real-world conditions to score easy political points off you and your ilk, though thanks for all the opportunities. Simple observation, simple motherfucking common sense, and a glance at either of your columnist head shots is enough to tell us neither you nor Brooks has any business advising us on Afghanistan.

Our point, instead, is this: maybe you should shut th' fuck up about grim paradoxes and dark setbacks, since you and more than 80% of your fellow citizens thought the war was such a great idea back in '01 that we didn't need to spoil the rollout by waiting for market research to come in. Maybe that's your column, Ross. For the next nine years. Write about what you know. That's something the next generation could learn from.
Not the way we’re there today, with 90,000 American troops in-theater and an assortment of NATO allies fighting alongside.

Of course not. They know better.
But if the current counterinsurgency campaign collapses, it almost guarantees that some kind of American military presence will be propping up some sort of Afghan state in 2020 and beyond. Failure promises to trap us; success is our only ticket out.

Look, kiddo, the only reason there is an insurgency in Afghanistan is our military presence created it. And, needless to say, we weren't prepared for one, first because we can't imagine anyone else in the world seeing things differently than some cloistered sinecure at The Atlantic. Because, y'know, New York New York. You've made it there. USA! Just the World's Jolly Copper, having an apple on the arm, maybe, but everybody knows he's there for our protection, right? Our Cause, like our Operation, was Just. Right again? Only criminals could oppose us, so everyone who opposes us is a criminal.
Why? Because of

Hold up, Clausewitz. We don't need you to explain why Success is our only chance of winning. We need you to explain what, exactly, we win if we get there.
three considerations. First, the memory of 9/11, which ensures that any American president will be loath to preside over the Taliban’s return to power in Kabul.

Well, y'know, maybe you Official Keepers of The Memory of 9/11 could try to recall that original rationale of the thing was to get bin-Laden and his three-dozen #2 men. And that Your Boy in the White House had seven years and unlimited black budgets to catch him, and failed. (I'm sorry. I know The Memory of 9/11 isn't suppose to evoke anything unpleasant.) In theory, anyway, if The Taliban had just handed over al-Qaeda before sundown, the way we demanded, we wouldn't have given a shit about how they treated their women. Or no more than we give about how our corporations and health care systems treat ours.

Of course The Memory of 9/11 has fuck-all to do with it, anyway; the reason no American president--and particularly a Democratic one--will not simply eliminate a costly and worthless mission in Afghanistan is that people like you would try him for treason.
Second, the continued presence of Al Qaeda’s leadership in Pakistan’s northwest frontier, which makes it difficult for any American president to contemplate giving up the base for counterterrorism operations that Afghanistan affords.

One: you don't know al-Qaeda from Quinoa, the Mayan Grain of Death™. You don't know who's in Waziristan, what they think, what they want, nor what they're capable of. You spout "base of counterterrorism operations" the way a preacher might say "guardians of moral rectitude". Not because it means a goddam thing; because it reflects your Faith. Our counterterrorism methods will be our counterterrorism methods, and they will either work, or they won't. They do not depend on our continued military presence in Afghanistan, or if they do, please explain how.

Two: if we--that is, the administration you backed without reservation--hadn't been in such a goddam hurry to exercise cowboy diplomacy and win the dick contest with its daddy administration, we could have exerted real pressure on Pakistan (and the Taliban, for that matter) instead of threatening to come in and kick everyone's ass. Would the Taliban have given up bin-Laden once we peeled off enough million-dollar bills? Would Musharraf had been willing to exert real pressure on the Badlands? We'll never know. What we do know is that your fucking method didn't work, had about zero chance of working, and was only a pretext for sending in the bombers. It's not like we could have known the region was volatile ahead of time, right? And what th' hell's a few metric tons of fissionable material and technological upgrades handed over to a non-NPT signatory like India because we had to even things out? It's not like increasing the amount of nuclear fuel in the region could ever come back to haunt us.

Finally: y'know, Ross, I don't particularly care for the Taliban. In fact, I was making my objections known back when they were just subjugating women and destroying world heritage sites, the sort of shit you couldn't care less about. But then, I'm not really partial to Pakistan, either. Or India, or China, Myanmar, Russia, France, the British Royal Family, or the New England Patriots. Hell, that Dalai Lama guy's on my last nerve. I just don't imagine--since I pretty much see it close up everyday--that the United States has the fucking answers, the capability of finding the answers, the political will to put those answers in place over the objections of Mitch McConnell or Glenn Beck, nor the ability to do so even if it did. And I think the record going back sixty years now is pretty clearly on my side.

You wanna prove me wrong, go ahead. But take my advice. Sneak up on it slowly. Try being right about one thing first.


Unknown said...

weren't the Talibans requirements for turning over pretty well known before we invaded?

1. Stop bombing them
2. Show them evidence of bin Laden's involvement
3. Agree on a third country to send bin Laden to.

nanute said...

This part stuck out for me: This grim possibility is implicit in the Rolling Stone profile that undid Gen. Stanley McChrystal last week. Ostensibly a left-wing, antiwar critique of counterinsurgency, Michael Hastings’s article relied heavily on complaints that the current strategy places too much value on ... innocent Afghan lives. “In a weird way,” the Center for a New American Security’s Andrew Exum pointed out, Hastings ended up criticizing counterinsurgency strategy “because it doesn’t allow our soldiers to kill enough people.”
A left wing critique of counterinsurgency? WTF. Notice the attempt to de-legitimize Hastings with the quote from Andrew Exum? Hasting's didn't criticize counterinsurgency. He merely reported the criticism expressed by soldiers on the ground that are complaining about the rules of engagement. A shameful piece of hackery.

Narya said...

Hey! leave the Dalai Lama alone!

Sator Arepo said...

"It's not like we could have known the region was volatile ahead of time, right?"

And, anyway, even if we had, there was NO way of knowing that creating two power vacuums in said potentially-volatile region would have the effect of further destabilizing...

Anonymous said...

I was amused how Powell et al. would phrase the "Pottery Barn" rule as "you break it, you own it" ! Only a bunch of rich idiots would not realize the issue was paying for the broken item, not trying to repair it with some magic formula of superglue and cat hair !

scripto said...

"We need you to explain what, exactly, we win if we get there."

Tie dye burqas? I say declare victory and leave. That'll teach 'em to mess with us.

D. Sidhe said...

That part that pisses me off is the cynical "But the Taliban's mean to women!" crap. Yes, you know, some of us were aware of that long before 9/11, back when you fuckers didn't give a shit. Now that you've screwed the pooch this badly, all of a sudden you need a more acceptable reason to have done this fucking stupid thing, and it's "Hey, why don't you liberals care about TEH WIMMENS!" Not including, apparently, the ones we've accidentally killed.

How much do you have to hate women to use that so fucking cheaply? It's pretty well established that these people don't think the Afghani women are, you know, people, just as they don't apparently think even the men there are actual people. But this shit's just insult to injury, and even when the injury is so fucking bad the insult is almost nothing in comparison, you're still a prick for throwing it on their graves.

And this fucker gets PAID for this. Jesus Christ.

desertscope said...

Try being right about one thing first.

If Ross ever manages to pull that off, it will be much like getting lucky at Junior Prom. The results will be awkward, messy, and humiliating for everyone involved.