October 29, 2009

Why are we still there?

Nicholas Kristof opines in the NYT:
Dispatching more troops to Afghanistan would be a monumental bet and probably a bad one, most likely a waste of lives and resources that might simply empower the Taliban. In particular, one of the most compelling arguments against more troops rests on this stunning trade-off: For the cost of a single additional soldier stationed in Afghanistan for one year, we could build roughly 20 schools there.

It’s hard to do the calculation precisely, but for the cost of 40,000 troops over a few years — well, we could just about turn every Afghan into a Ph.D.

What's the old Heinlein saying?
Never try to teach a Pashtun tribesman to be a Ph.D. It wastes your time and it annoys the Pashtun tribesman.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

77 comments:

Anonymous said...

Those entrepid Libs - gotta love em. From their narrow-minded perspective, a troubled world needs American-style K-12 primary + 4 years undergrad Pee Cee brain-washing and Voila! we'll all get along just fine. It's the fundamental tenet of their 'new' civic religion. Therefore Libs are religious fundamentalists or zealots of the worst sort - to their very cores. Which explains their virulent hostility toward traditional Christians or anybody else embued with a deep and abiding faith in the things beyond this material world.

Anonymous said...

The "war" [i.e. the nation-building exercise] in Afghanistan was lost the day we allowed the Afghan constitution to institute Sharia Law.

By Sharia Law, it was perfectly acceptable and proper for the nation of Afghanistan to demand the execution of the Christian convert, Abdul Rahman, and for the Taliban to murder the Korean missionaries, Bae Hyeong-gyu and Shim Seong-min.

{ISLAM} + {MEAN IQ OF 83 OR 84}
= {PRETTY EFFECTIVE RECIPE FOR DISASTER}

Middletown Girl said...

But without US troops to protect the schools, what's the point?

Bill said...

I wonder whether any CARE aid workers will be assassinated or kidnapped now that Kristof has endorsed them in the NYT as agents of "transformation."

It really wouldn't surprise me, actually.

Anonymous said...

Pigs can't sing at all but a Pashtun Tribsman could have the mental ability to become a Ph.D. You're a racist.

jody said...

for a quarter of the money spent on afghanistan, the US could instead fund and develop it's own fusion reactor program. putting 10 billion per year into this, a snap in fiscal terms for the fedgov, would get the US to a break even reactor in about 8 years, and a modest net gain reactor in 15. this would move the US ahead of where the EU will be with ITER. if you prefer fission reactors, a thorium reactor design could be developed for the 10 billion, avoiding most of the problems with uranium reactors.

or, the US could continue to plan to import 14 million barrels of oil per day for the next 15 years. the price per barrel is only certain to steadily increase over time, so who would want to reduce the amount of oil the US imports? that's probably a silly idea. the federal government should not even work on such a project. department of energy = epic fail since 1977.

you guys don't even want to know how much money the US navy is spending every year on a totally overkill build-out of it's submarine and aircraft carrier force. those boats have so much application to iraq and afghanistan too. not!

l said...

To quote Madeline Albright, "I think this is a very hard choice ... but the price ... we think the price is worth it."

Tom Regan said...

"Schools are not a quick fix or silver bullet any more than troops are. But we have abundant evidence that they can, over time, transform countries."

Do we? Such as?
The utopian cant of the left beggars belief. Someone should remind him of what became of the amphitheatres built during Alexander's time there.

Anonymous said...

I always thought the teaching a pig to sing quote was from Mark Twain.

Edward said...

We are there to unite the resistance so we can generate a problem for Pakistan to justify us being there. It's going to take years before the enemy gets sufficiently organised though so we're in for the long game.

Short list of enemies -

Mullah Omar (Ghilzai Pashtun)

Hekmaytar (Ghilzai Pashtun)

Haqqani network (Jadran Pashtun)

Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (Warzir Pashtun)

Non-Pashtun

Tehrik-e-Taliban Balochistan (Baluchis are an interesting nomadic group - slightly more heirarchical perhaps due to geography)

Punjabi Taliban (originally recruited in NWFP, now in urban areas - Madrasses

Additionally, militias Pakistan trained to operate in Kashmir have now gone over to the AF-PAK border.

Pakistan, like Afghanistan, is the "frontlines" of US security. Does US have a Pakistan policy?

“Today the bulk of attacks in heartland Pakistan are carried out by Pakistanis from Punjab or Sindh, or by Pashtun fighters assisted by heartland Pakistanis”

I'm suspicious that claims of Pakistani instability are deliberately overblown to get more US aid and enable the ruling class to ignore the checklist of doable reforms.

That's just a guess, though.

Anonymous said...

Great idea, educate our enemies. We should just blow up all our bases and get the heck out.

David said...

To make the world safe for democrazy. And to keep the military-industrial complex employed.

In other words, the usual crap.

There's not even any strategy, or any enemy - just a bunch of tribesmen in a desert. (To whom we're supposed to confer Ph.ds, ho ho ho.)

Remember the solemn promises made by the jobholders of an only slightly earlier era? That we'd NEVER get involved in a Vietnam situation again? We were told that we must have an "exit strategy"..."clear goals"...a "commitment to total victory." Gore Vidal calls us "The United States of Amnesia." Gee, I forgot why.

But let's face it. These wars are just too g-damn profitable (for some people) to ever end! It's like a smash Broadway hit: extended to the end of the month...extended yet another month!...Eighteenth fabulous month!...Longest running show ever!...A Broadway tradition!

Hard to keep one's fingers out of the cookie jar, ain't it?

WHOOSH! DUCK! Ha, ha, just kidding evil neocon/t99/whiskey. It wasn't a Pashtun nuke.

Anonymous said...

The point remains that the war in Afganistan takes a lot of money that could be used elsewhere. Bush (and McCain for that matter) did not seem too distressed about the ascendency of Obama. I see why. They're largely the same on everything that matters, excluding some peripheral social policies.

Anonymous said...

It’s hard to do the calculation precisely, but for the cost of 40,000 troops over a few years — well, we could just about turn every Afghan into a Ph.D.





So then they'll be better able to build WMD. Sounds like an inspired move all right.

Luke Lea said...

It just seems to me that Afghanistan (or Pakistan either, for that matter) is of no strategic importance. The mere fact that there were/are terrorist training camps in those places, or that 9/11 were planned there, is of no real significance. There are plenty of other places that would work just as well. More to the point, most of the real planning and training for 9/11 were done in Europe and the US themselves and could have been stopped if we had been on our guard. This is really an intelligence problem, not a military one.

BTW, does anyone besides me doubt that Pakistan has nuclear weapons? Israel seems unconcerned and the way they were demonstrated (all 5 in one day) is suspiciousl

Reactionary said...

Steve - you are way out of your league as usual. We are fighting illiterate Muslim peasants over there so we can fly them over on asylum visas over here. You really don't know what it's like for German-Scots-Irish kickboxers having to compete with Afghan goatherds for blonde, leggy shiksas I mean women. Don't you think Anglo-Celt screenwriters and critical legal theorists have done enough damage to this country without you caving to the terrorists?

Lost Pilgrim said...

This is like the Yale or Jail fallacy. Even if we built the most stunning monuments to education ever seen in Afghanistan, they would never use them. Or they would use them as religious madrasah at best and ammo dumps at worst. Or they could combine the two ammo dumps under schools like Hamas.

The only way to cure the Afghans of their murderous tendencies is to kill it out of them. So, we have to decide whether we want to be the ones to do it.

It appears we can, we're doing better than anyone thought we would, but does that mean we need or want to?

Noah said...

Actually, I have two friends who are Afghani Pashtun doctors. Smart guys, and really nice and fun too. Much less warlike than the folks I grew up with in Texas.

The problem with Afghanistan is not that Pashtuns have some genetic inability to live peaceful, civilized lives. It's that Afghanistan is a landlocked country with no trade routes, poor neighbors, sky-high birth rates, ethnic disunity, constant warfare, etc.

Just another case when explaining nation-level phenomena in terms of ethnic group characteristics is a waste of time.

L said...

Spot on, Steve. This whole idea of building buildings to serve as schools is so foolish - the pigs don't sing and they do get annoyed.

Mark said...

[Schools] are extraordinarily cheap and have a better record at stabilizing societies than military solutions, which, in fact, have a pretty dismal record...Already our troops have created a backlash with Kabul University students this week burning President Obama in effigy until police dispersed them with gunshots.

Schools have a great record...at turning violent religious nuts into whiny AND violent Marxist nuts who think that even Barack Obama is a conservative!

That’s one reason Al Qaeda is holed up in Pakistan, not in Bangladesh, and it’s a reminder that education can transform societies.

Yeah, oh and the fact that Pakistan is right next to Afghanistan. Don't forget to mention that!

Anonymous said...

Phds in mujahadeen studies...wonderful.

Whiskey said...

Kristof is an idiot. Anything the US or anyone else builds in Afghanistan will be rapidly looted and destroyed unless we stand up tribal forces around it to protect it.

It costs little to destroy, a LOT to build.

My view is that BOTH Kristof and Steve live in a fantasy world -- where the unpleasant fact that even failed peoples like Pashtuns can kill millions of Americans unless deterred.

This is the reality: abandoning Afghanistan during Clinton's terms meant only constant attacks from a safe haven, and Afghanistan serving as a radicalization base for nuclear Pakistan.

Kristof (and Steve) ignore the evidence: we got attacked when we were weak, avoiding conflict, and ran away. We ceased having attacks when we engaged conflict full-on.

Pakistan has 100+ nukes and growing, had a suicide bombing last week at a base where nukes are stored, and is shot-through with Islamists who argue that attacking the US is risk-free and a huge payoff. Iran is nuclear already or rapidly approaching it, views nukes as a really big car bomb, has attacked the US for thirty years via Hezbollah with impunity, and has an ambition to raise oil prices by a factor of 4 along with controlling the Persian Gulf by expelling the US. Meanwhile cheap oil and US control of the Gulf has been a strategic US objective since WWII. Nukes from either or both Pakistan and Iran threaten US control there.

Deterrence NOW by fighting Taliban/AQ forces and killing lots of fighters, as well as patronage efforts among locals will NOT make Afghanistan anything other than a "better" governed tribal wasteland. And no it will not make Pashtuns into Phds. That is not the objective anyway (and Steve is being foolish in supposing it is).

The objective is to make unmistakable commitments to deter attacks by Pakistani tribal forces on the US with "borrowed" nukes or dangerous gambles by the Iranians (who will get nukes).

Our objective is to prevent nuking of US cities by tribal forces who simply appropriate nukes, or Iranian aggression.

If we want to simply abandon Afghanistan, the message must be sent in other ways -- such as a surprise and sustained devastating air/ground attack on Iran, to push them back into infrastructure devastation.

Thirty plus years of fantasy, not recognizing the changes that nuclear proliferation make, have raised the costs of "preventive deterrence" since no one really fears the US. No one in Pakistan or Iran really fears any serious US reprisals for attacks, because they all believe we will "run away" from Afghanistan.

Like it or not, the US objective is to provide fear-based deterrence (but reasonable fear) by projecting strength, and on the side "early warning" of local intel and allies. Afghanistan is the least-bad of all alternatives.

Or we could wait for rainbows and unicorns to come out of Obama's magical speaking.

Anonymous said...

Luke Lea -- I too have wondered if Pakistan has nukes. I think they did at one time but Musharraf handed them over to us some time back.

headache said...

I was gonna say "Where is Testy on this", but we got the full treatment. Sheesh.
Babes with nukes again, er sorry, bearded zealots with nukes. I guess they're gonna deliver them with donkeys?

Albright was right but in the wrong way: The US shoulda hammered the Taliban and AQ themselves, instead of getting the NA to do the dirty work, and then hightailed it outa that rathole. That would have sent the right message (don't mess with da cowboys) and prevented the US from getting bogged down like the Soviets.

Mushroom Over Manhattan said...

Stow it, Testy. For a fraction of what these wars cost the US could have an airtight security system. Common sense measures would work just fine. Like making and enforcing some sane immigration laws, rather than importing potential threats wholesale.

Keeping out the people, keeps out the networks and that coupled with sufficient technology and diligence keeps out the nukes.

Given that saving New York, that heartland of the born fighting, Scotts-Irish is a goal of yours, you might consider this option.

David said...

Noah said

> The problem with Afghanistan is not that Pashtuns have some genetic inability to live peaceful, civilized lives. It's that Afghanistan is a landlocked country with no trade routes, poor neighbors, sky-high birth rates, ethnic disunity, constant warfare, etc. Just another case when explaining nation-level phenomena in terms of ethnic group characteristics is a waste of time. < [Emphases added]

Yeah poor neighbors, sky-high birth rates, and ethnic disunity have nothing to do with ethnic group characteristics. [Emphases added] Nothing! It's a waste of time to study that! Move on!

So two guys you know are great. Does this extrapolate to groups? Or may we be permitted to study that question without a priori ridicule from the omniscient Noah?

David said...

> Pigs can't sing at all but a Pashtun Tribsman could have the mental ability to become a Ph.D. You're a racist. <

Well, you're an illiterate idiot, so there.

You want to educate a "Tribsman" up to Ph.d level, fine. Do so - yourself. Leave my money out of it.

Wouldn't all that American money be better spent on educating Americans? Or is that "racist"? Maybe if we put more money into America's inner city schools?

(PS: How do you know any or many "Tribsmans" has or have the mental ability to become a Ph.d? Just something you pulled out of your backside?)

Christopher said...

Whiskey,
I could go for a walk right now and beat the hell out of some little kid hanging out in the park. Or maybe destroy some baby in a pram. Is that be the kind of strength projection you're talking about? [Kudos to Martin van Creveld for the analogy.]

Anonymous said...

"Schools are not a quick fix or silver bullet any more than troops are. But we have abundant evidence that they can, over time, transform countries."

Do we? Such as?


Look around you. America has indeed been transformed by schools. Transformation isn't necessarily good.

William B Swift said...

"Pigs can't sing at all but a Pashtun Tribsman could have the mental ability to become a Ph.D. You're a racist."

And you're an idiot. Inclination and discipline are at least as important as IQ to getting a PhD (I have an IQ of 156 and no college degrees).

Anonymous said...

We are still there because:

1) The Scotts-Irish and German Americans like marching off to honor and glory (while their kit is paid for by someone else).
Casualties are low compared to other wars, and their families haven't run out of sons yet.

2. Israel and their U.S. contingent feel that having the American Army occupy Arab states on a permanent basis makes Israel safe. Their writ is pretty much law with respect to foreign policy.

3. No president wants to "lose a war".

4. Making war equipment is one of the few functioning parts of the economy that are still left.

5. The war has little effect on the average American so he complains little about it. This leaves the field to special interests.

6. Losing a war will make America appear weak. Foreign countries will smile and take advantage of this. After we lost Vietnam, the oil states jacked prices out the kazoo. That was not a coincidence.

RKU said...

Is it just me, or do other commenters also get the feeling that 95% of all the big DC/NYC Print+TV pundits in America are the close "Scots-Irish" family relatives of Whiskey a.k.a. Testing99 a.k.a. Evil Neocon?...

They must really have some pretty interesting family gatherings, with endless songs and stories of the moors and crags of Old Scotland...

Anonymous said...

Lotsa aspergers in this thread. Guys, the government didn't spend the money trying to turn Afghanistan into a nation of PhDs. It spent in on weapons, ammunition, fuel, food service contractors...

Whiskey, you've totally convinced me of the benefits of "pre-emptive deterence" when NUKES are involved. It totally got me to rethink the whole "Nazis were bad" thing.

Because now, it all makes sense. The people involved in atomic theory were largely Jews. The Nazis were only pre-emptively deterring NUKES.

Wait, that's as evil, paranoid, and psychotic as wanting to kill random Afghanis like you want to. Get an official diagnosis, there are drugs that will make the crazy quiet.

Be a little honest Whiskey. You want to pre-emptively deter people who you think can't be deterred because they're fanatics. Not to mention, killing people's friends and families usually makes them like you less. Makes them willing to anything to make you stop.

Anonymous said...

"Pigs can't sing at all but a Pashtun Tribsman could have the mental ability to become a Ph.D. You're a racist."

How specie-ist of you to deny that pigs have the ability to sing. Tsk tsk...

Svigor said...

Actually, I have two friends who are Afghani Pashtun doctors. Smart guys, and really nice and fun too. Much less warlike than the folks I grew up with in Texas.

The problem with Afghanistan is not that Pashtuns have some genetic inability to live peaceful, civilized lives. It's that Afghanistan is a landlocked country with no trade routes, poor neighbors, sky-high birth rates, ethnic disunity, constant warfare, etc.

Just another case when explaining nation-level phenomena in terms of ethnic group characteristics is a waste of time.


This is pretty funny. And not in the "it's so true" kind of way.

Middletown Girl said...

For the cost of every US soldier, we could set up 20 dance schools there. Every Afghan can become a ballet dancer.

Middletown Girl said...

For the cost of every US soldier, we could build 100 basketball courts there. Every Afghani can become a professional basketball player.

Middletown Girl said...

For the cost of every US soldier, we could build 50 journalism schools there. Every Afghani can become a NY Times columnist.

sj071 said...

Ahem, dope, oil, gold, copper, other valuable minerals....

Apologies, I totally forgot that those illiterate Pashtun peasants harbor deep hate against their Civilised Western Relatives for being so naive and falling into Bankers' debt trap ..over and over again..

'Like it or not, the US objective is to provide fear-based deterrence (but reasonable fear) by projecting strength...'

Every time I Google 'sandy berger pakistan nukes' I discover yet another layer of prime Tin Foil dross...this Internet thing is inhertently paranoid..

ATBOTL said...

"Just another case when explaining nation-level phenomena in terms of ethnic group characteristics is a waste of time."

Thanks for setting us straight on that one.

Anonymous said...

Noah - Actually, I have two friends who are Afghani Pashtun doctors. Smart guys, and really nice and fun too. Much less warlike than the folks I grew up with in Texas...

...Just another case when explaining nation-level phenomena in terms of ethnic group characteristics is a waste of time
.

Whereas cherry picking two inviduals out of an entire nation can lead to far more robust conconclusions...

Pissed Off Chinaman said...

I have no idea why we even decided to occupy the country with ground troops in the first place. I really could care less if the country has a secular democracy or not, as long as they do not bother us or their neighbors.

I think the Afghans should be left to their religious insanity so long as they don't harbor any more terrorists who attack us. If they continue to do so I say we just terrorize them from the air and kill 10 people for every 1 victim of a terrorist attack.

It would have been a cheaper solution, in money and lives.

Pissed Off Chinaman said...

The equation should be:

{RELIGION} + {MEAN IQ OF 83 OR 84}
= {PRETTY EFFECTIVE RECIPE FOR DISASTER}

From my observations, dumb people are generally more religious and more fanatical about religion whatever religion it is.

RKU said...

Actually, I have two friends who are Afghani Pashtun doctors. Smart guys, and really nice and fun too. Much less warlike than the folks I grew up with in Texas.

The problem with Afghanistan is not that Pashtuns have some genetic inability to live peaceful, civilized lives. It's that Afghanistan is a landlocked country with no trade routes, poor neighbors, sky-high birth rates, ethnic disunity, constant warfare, etc.


Actually, I also know a couple of Afghans living in the U.S. Perfectly normal, reasonable people.

But remember there's a clear "selection bias" involved here...

Which Afghans left over the last 30 years of invasion and civil war, and moved to America? The educated, reasonable ones, who didn't like the constant fighting and disorder.

Which Afghans stayed? The ignorant, violent ones, who either enjoyed all the fighting and endless blood-feuds, or just couldn't imagine there was any other sort of life in the world.

Tanstaafl said...

Pissed Off Chinaman said...

I have no idea why we even decided to occupy the country with ground troops in the first place.

We? How many of the ground troops are chinamen?

Mark said...

I really could care less if the country has a secular democracy or not, as long as they do not bother us or their neighbors.

And ya know, I really don't care much if they bother their neighbors, either. If they bother their neighbors, their neighbors can deal with it (and pay for it).

Mark said...

I have no idea why we even decided to occupy the country with ground troops in the first place.

Because a bunch of people convinced us that mere victory was wrong, that manifest destiny was wrong, and we were too cowardly to question it. It's not enough to kick their asses seven ways to Sunday - we have to rebuild the whole country, like the Marshall Plan!

Remember, this is a country that has forgotten James K Polk, one of the greatest presidents ever, but glorifies Abraham Lincoln - a man who thought it was immoral to grow the country by taking a few unused square miles from Mexico, but who thought that you couldn't shed too many lives "atoning" for the sin of slavery. I had to read his Second Inaugural Address in my college history class, I guess to learn about what a great guy he was. It just taught me that he was batshit crazy.

Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said "the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether."

Anonymous said...

"For the cost of every US soldier, we could build 50 journalism schools there. Every Afghani can become a NY Times columnist."

That would never work. Despite their faults, Afghans still at least maintain a little self respect.

Gene Berman said...

2nd Anonymous:

I'm sympathetic to your general message but don't think the 83/84 IQ liable to hold up to more extensive testing and information development.

My own take is just "regression to the mean" would have resulted in an appreciably higher number unless, for centuries, all those with significantly higher intelligence had either been killed off or had managed to get out to somewhere else. Hmm-thinking about it now, maybe you're right.

Noah said...

Whereas cherry picking two inviduals out of an entire nation can lead to far more robust conconclusions...

Oh, so the burden of proof that Pashtuns aren't a bunch of natural-born gun-toting manias is on me, eh? ;-)

Well, if you want some real evidence to support the "conconclusion" that Pashtuns are perfectly capable of being civilized folks, look at the median income of Afhgan-Americans (after controlling for selection effects)...

Gene Berman said...

Mushroom over Manhattan:

I get the gist of your comment but you might really stand to bone up some on just where the "heartland of the born fighting Scotts-Irish" really is. Hint: it's a lot closer to NYC than you imagine (and will be contending against their Yankees in the Series). Recommended source: ALBION'S SEED.

Basque Nationalist said...

Pissed Off Chinaman,

Why are you "Pissed Off?"

And how do we know that you're a Chinaman, and not, say, Scotch-Irish or something?

Anonymous said...

"Pigs can't sing at all but a Pashtun Tribsman could have the mental ability to become a Ph.D. You're a racist. <

"Actually, I have two friends who are Afghani Pashtun doctors. Smart guys, and really nice and fun too. Much less warlike than the folks I grew up with in Texas."


"Well, you're an illiterate idiot, so there."

Right. And since HE's an illiterate idiot, it follows that most all his countrymen are idiots, too, so the school system should be shut down as a lost cause.
Snerk.

none of the above said...

The whole justification for invading Afghanistan was that we were going to clear out the dark corners in which terrorists could breed. But this was basically nonsense--we can't and won't clear out all those dark corners. We've been in Afghanistan eight years, and the dark corners *there* still aren't cleared out. (However, by most reports, Al Qaida seems to be much weaker.)

Our being there now seems to me to do no actual good for our safety. But not going to war with *someone* after 9/11 would have been political suicide, so we invaded them and Iraq, even though neither of those invasions did any good at all for our security. (Flattening Kabul with bombs or helping local forces overthrow the Taliban probably helped our security, by making it clear that hosting people who attack us is correlated with a sudden drop in your life expectancy. But *occupying* the place? For what?)

Yes, Virginia said...

"Virginia" is only slowly grasping the reality of the Deep State in America. In the past few years she has been forced to confront various "tinfoil conspiracies" that have turned out to be the cold hard reality.

The revelation of oligarchal control of the US Congress (the nation's legal system & purse strings) via Goldman Sachs has now gone mainstream and Virginia is becoming very disturbed. The process of shaking off the psy-op programming and waking up to reality is painful.

Yes, Virginia, there is a New World Order dedicated to the dissolution of external "rogue" nation states and internal "rogue" populist movements through a ruthless Divide & Conquer & Consolidate strategy.

Yes, Virginia, the CIA created the Taliban as insurgents against the Soviet invasion.

Yes, Virginia, Osama Bin Laden was at one time a CIA operative (but he couldn't possibly have remained an operative after fill-in-the-blank date).

Yes, Virginia, there are at least 60 United States Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) agents "on the job" in Afghanistan today.

Yes, Virginia, we have always been at war with Eastasia.

dearieme said...

Why not train the Afghans to go and liberate the oppressed muslims of western China?

Anonymous said...

The Soviets actually tried the schools and education thing. The problem was, was that the Taliban are anti-education and school teachers ended up decorating lamp posts and school girls ended up with a face full of acid. Schools emptied out mighty quickly after that.

Laban said...

"The US shoulda hammered the Taliban and AQ themselves, instead of getting the NA to do the dirty work, and then hightailed it outa that rathole. That would have sent the right message (don't mess with da cowboys)"

That's more or less what the Brits did on the NW Frontier in the 19th century. The policy was called 'butcher and bolt'.

Note that in those days the Brits had a huge army, flush with success in many theatres, full of highly-motivated officers, loads of the latest technical kit, a hugely supportive public at home, total self-belief among the political and administrative class, no worries on the diplomatic front or the 'court of world opinion' - yet they still kept out of Afghanistan after the unpleasantnesses of the 1840s.

Trying to make Afghanistan a democracy is IMHO a foolish aim. Read Kipling's Arithmetic on the Frontier.

Anonymous said...

"Why are we still there?"

Pride. Arrogance. Hubris.

Anonymous said...

Noah said:
"The problem with Afghanistan is not that Pashtuns have some genetic inability to live peaceful, civilized lives.It's that Afghanistan is a landlocked country. . ."

. . . like Switzerland ?

Mark said...

Afghanistan and Iraq were always distractions.

"Terrorists want to kill you," they say - then they point to the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, Madrid, London, Glasgow.

And what do all those terrorist acts have in common? Yes, they were committed by crazy Muslims - crazy Muslims who had been allowed into our countries. Crazy Muslims who had to be in our countries to commit these acts. Terrorism is the explicit rejection of the Multicultural God. That god is dead.

We're still there because neither the Marxist left nor the neofeudalist right wants to admit that the best way to stop terrorism is to keep this country European and (at least nominally) Christian - and to keep those murderous loons away from us.

How much terrorism has Japan seen? How many gang rapes, other than the ones committed by black American servicemen?

Pissed Off Chinaman said...

Tanstaafl,

Well I am an American citizen (born and bred, third generation)...hence the "we"

And FYI there are more than a handful of officers and enlisted in the US Army and Marine Corp serving in Afghanistan and Iraq who are "chinamen." I personally know a JAG who have served in Afghanistan who is a "chinaman" in fact.

Basque Nationalist,

Well people like Tanstaafl sort of piss me off but I chose my sn just because. I'm actually not that "pissed off" in my day to day life.

Mark,

I admire both Lincoln and Polk. While the Mexican War was a complicated situation, I admire Lincoln for his courage in delivering such a speech arising from his position that the war was morally wrong and the US was the aggressor...but then I am sort of a bleeding heart liberal...;)

Svigor said...

Keeping out the people, keeps out the networks and that coupled with sufficient technology and diligence keeps out the nukes.

Mr. Polypseudonymous is playing a fairly smart game here. He constantly posts these neocon adventurist comments, and once in a blue moon, if pressed, he acknowledges that his adventurism hinges on the fact that the U.S. won't enact a sane immigration/border security policy. But if he were really interested in solving the problem, wouldn't he constantly post comments that advocate a sane immigration/border security policy? Or wouldn't he at least roll that into his neocon adventurism comments? It isn't as if he can't be bothered...

I think it's safe to say he likes neocon adventurism, and that his once-in-a-blue-moon one-liner admissions that immigration/border security would solve the problem are fig leaves.

Anonymous said...

How do we really know you're a Basque nationalist and not a Mexican, or an Egyptian, or Ukrainian, or Korean?

Limey Oik said...

That’s one reason Al Qaeda is holed up in Pakistan, not in Bangladesh, and it’s a reminder that education can transform societies.

Yes indeedydoody

Mr Kristof may not be aware that The political leadership of Hamas is probably the most highly qualified in the world. Boasting more than 500 PhDs in its ranks

http://preview.tinyurl.com/9o3e3b

I get the impression that having more than 500 PhDs in the ranks of Hamas has not led to a virtuous spiral of development, jobs, lower birth rates, education and stability.

I cannot imagine why this didn't happen in the case of Hamas.

I personally don't have any strong opinions about Hamas, or care any more or less for them than I do for the state of Israel.

Still, I suspect that a lot of Americans of a certain type have quite a low opinion of Hamas, and to them, the example of Hamas, might contradict Mr Kristol's argument.

------------

Hi Laban

From one of your regular readers and occasional commentator.

Basque Nationalist said...

How do we really know you're a Basque nationalist and not a Mexican, or an Egyptian, or Ukrainian, or Korean?

Who are you? A jagoff Spaniard or something?

Mushroom Over Manhattan said...

"Mr. Polypseudonymous is playing a fairly smart game here."

It is clear you are out of your depth here, Svigor. Seriously though, I think your giving this buffoon too much credit. I imagine a TestyBot could be launched that would hone in on key words and phrases and generate replies much as we read here.

A gift for generating repetitive, grinding, anti-factual discourse is no sign of intellectual achievement. Sometimes I wonder if the absurd lengths that EvilTestyCon goes to are a back-handed rejection of the points he purports to support.

Anonymous said...

Schools are not a quick fix or silver bullet any more than troops are. But we have abundant evidence that they can, over time, transform countries.

Especially countries such as Afghanistan.

But ordinary schools won't do it. What Afghanistan needs is thousands of Born Again Christian-run reform schools.

What those wogs need is to be chained to their desks for 6 hours a day of Bible study plus 4 hours of Dick and Jane. And plenty of corporal punishment - much cheaper than Ritalin. And plenty of physical education in digging ditches and mining coal and salt. No drugs, no booze, no chocolate, no porn, no jacking off, no Ouija boards, no wearing of dresses, nosireee.

When this program is finished, Afghanistan will be a nation of 30 million engine-lathe operators, who will become terrorists anyway due to unemployment.

Anonymous said...

Mark:
We're still there because neither the Marxist left nor the neofeudalist right wants to admit that the best way to stop terrorism is to keep this country European and (at least nominally) Christian - and to keep those murderous loons away from us.

How much terrorism has Japan seen? How many gang rapes, other than the ones committed by black American servicemen?

How European and Christian is Japan anyway?

I know that's not what you meant; you probably meant stick to one's ancestral culture and religion, and keep out foreign ideas.

David said...

Anon. said

> Right. And since HE's an illiterate idiot, it follows that most all his countrymen are idiots, too, so the school system should be shut down as a lost cause. <

No, that doesn't follow.

Any more than it follows that the US Armed Forces should be engaged wholesale in an Afghanistan "Tribsmen" Ph.d project because his two friends are smart.

David said...

Noah said

> Oh, so the burden of proof that Pashtuns aren't a bunch of natural-born gun-toting manias is on me, eh? <

The burden of proof is on he who asserts the positive claim. You advocate (or agree with those who advocate) using the United States Armed Forces and others to implement a mass educational project to turn Afghanistinian "Tribsmen" into Ph.ds (with or without their consent, or ours). This means you are asserting it's worth it (to whom?). So far, the backup you give for your proposal is that two of your friends are smart. That is not a strong argument. A demand for more argumentation from you is the opposite of shifting the burden of proof.

Mark said...

How European and Christian is Japan anyway? I know that's not what you meant; you probably meant stick to one's ancestral culture and religion, and keep out foreign ideas.

Foreign ideas are fine. Foreign people who hate you, or who come to your country voluntariily and then complain about how oppressed they are, then demand that you let their cousin come, too? Not so much.

Mark said...

I admire both Lincoln and Polk. While the Mexican War was a complicated situation, I admire Lincoln for his courage in delivering such a speech arising from his position that the war was morally wrong and the US was the aggressor

Have you ever heard the phrase "discretion is the better part of valor"? His so-called courage, employed on behalf of a stupid cause, was pointless. God forbid the United States take 525,000 square miles of essentially unused land claimed by Mexico for its own purposes. But sacrifice the lives of 500,000 men for a moral cause? Hey, if God wills it, why not!!?

Anonymous said...

"Why not train the Afghans to go and liberate the oppressed muslims of western China?"

They become oppressed just because they are under Chinese rule?

Anonymous said...

"No, that doesn't follow.

Any more than it follows that the US Armed Forces should be engaged wholesale in an Afghanistan "Tribsmen" Ph.d project because his two friends are smart."

Agreed, David. Sorry. I was trying to be sarcastic.

Curvaceous Carbon-based Life Form said...

" Anonymous said...
Schools are not a quick fix or silver bullet any more than troops are. But we have abundant evidence that they can, over time, transform countries.

Especially countries such as Afghanistan.

But ordinary schools won't do it. What Afghanistan needs is thousands of Born Again Christian-run reform schools.

What those wogs need is to be chained to their desks for 6 hours a day of Bible study plus 4 hours of Dick and Jane. And plenty of corporal punishment - much cheaper than Ritalin. And plenty of physical education in digging ditches and mining coal and salt. No drugs, no booze, no chocolate, no porn, no jacking off, no Ouija boards, no wearing of dresses, nosireee.

When this program is finished, Afghanistan will be a nation of 30 million engine-lathe operators, who will become terrorists anyway due to unemployment."

I nominate the above for Best Post of the Week.

Pissed Off Chinaman said...

Mark,

I don't think Lincoln's was making the argument that half a million deaths was justified so long as God was on our side, more that these deaths were a product of divine providence and punishment. See religious fanaticism is not a chracteristic exclusive to Muslims, then or now.

As for the Mexican War, it is an arguable point whether or not the war had a proper casus belli. However it is factually erroneous to claim that the disputed territories were unpopulated or that they were only "claimed" by Mexico. As to the first point, there were plenty of Mestizos and Indians living in the Southwestern United States in densities not lower than American territories in the Great Plains states. Furthermore American settlers implicitly recognized Mexican sovereignty over CA and TX since they did issue a declaration of independence from Mexico City.

Let me reiterate, am not arguing who was right or wrong during the Mexican War or whether engaging in a war for territory is proper. But let's not pretend the war was some defensive engagement on our part.