June 7, 2011

Stop the Presses!

The Washington Post's banner headline is:
Report: Afghan nation-building effort in peril 
Karen DeYoung 4:25 AM ET 
EXCLUSIVE | Hugely expensive U.S. effort has had only limited success and may not survive an American withdrawal, according to the findings of a two-year congressional investigation to be released Wednesday.

I figured that out from watching a movie on VHS in September 2001.

Fun fact:
The report also warns that Afghanistan could slide into a depression with the inevitable decline of the foreign military and development spending that now provides 97 percent of the country’s gross domestic product.

37 comments:

Anonymous said...

I don't agree with the war there, but we can't just pull out after what we've done to them.

Reading about this Afghani girl really humanized the whole situation for me:

http://fastsurgeon.blogspot.com/2010/03/princess-salerno.html

--Le Sigh

War is Peace said...

So Afghanistan is dangerously close to slipping back to being... Afghanistan again?

Can't have that. Of course we should continue to artificially prop up 97% of their economy via military intervention and provide US military as personal bodyguards to the deeply unpopular president in thief!

Is there not a country on God's green earth that is so backwards that our Western elites cannot make worse?

Mark said...

So are we gearing up to leave there or what?

Baraka Osama said...

"I don't agree with the war there, but we can't just pull out after what we've done to them."

YES WE CAN.

none of the above said...

Le Sigh:

You figure we should keep on doing it to them, instead?

Mr. Anon said...

Report: Afghan nation-building effort in peril

"I figured that out from watching a movie on VHS in September 2001."

I figured it out after re-reading this book in 2001:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flashman_(novel)

Perhaps our policy-makers should stay-in more.

Nanonymous said...

Amazing! And all that time I was thinking that we are days from prosperous democratic Afghanistan, a future Switzerland of the Middle East. Damn. There go my lifetime savings in Afghani.

watching a movie on VHS in September 2001.

BTW, The Man Who Would Be King has recently been released on DVD.

Nanonymous said...

Umm, I meant Blu-ray "DVD"

Anonymous said...

@Anon #1

While it's refreshing to see sympathy for PEOPLE on this site, you're not entirely right.

Afghanistan has been dead since the Soviet invasion a few decades ago, seems like everything Russia touched still hasn't recovered yet. This is also when the decline of Pakistan began.

Now Iraq, that is entirely our fault.. We walked into an already stable country and screwed it.

Anonymous said...

We should get out of Afghanistan. And Japan. And South Korea. And Europe. And........

Chicago said...

It took them two years to figure that out? How much did it cost to study this? They could have gotten all they needed to know by coming to this blog, and gotten it for free on top of it.

Whiskey said...

In that case it would have been a stopped clock. This NPR story referencing a Foreign Policy Magazine story, has images of Afghanistan from the 1950s: modern dress (for women!), record stores, nurse training, movie theaters, boy and girl scouts, modern radio stations, and so on. Afghanistan before the coup against the Monarchy actually functioned.

Before Pakistan turned it into "defense in depth" and the entire Muslim world figured "more Jihad! more Islam!" was the solution to competing against the West's modernity. See also: Eric Ambler's "State of Siege" aka "The Night-Comers."

Whiskey said...

Iraq was not stable either last Anon. Saddam killed everyone who threatened his tribal rule. That's not exactly stable. What would have happened had Uday or Qusay gotten power?

Afghanistan was a semi-modernizing place that was relatively stable, but Pakistan's "big power politics" designed to create a Pushtun-istan in place of Pakistan as a "defense in depth" (read: place to retreat to) against India pretty much wrecked that.

All that being said, if you want to be able to continue to whack the AQ/Taliban leadership (and maybe too much Jihadist Pakistani military leaders) then a continued US presence in Afghanistan is a requirement. You cannot launch drone strikes from the Persian Gulf (too much time and distance and functioning Pakistani radar). You literally need to be right next door (also gathering human intel to target that strike, again you need to be right next door).

Its reasonable to ask how much that costs and what other alternatives there are. But its not puppies and rainbows, and WWI trench warfare on either hand. Nearly every alternative sucks, just in different ways.

Anonymous said...

Those "modernity lost" pictures in 1950s/60s Afghanistan are highly misleading. They only applied to a tiny class of Afghani educated middle class types who lived in Kabul. Drive a mile outside of Kabul, and you were back in the 13th century. All the the last 30 years of war has done, is removed that tiny modernist facade. What remains is the real Afghanistan; tribal Afghanistan.

"Iraq was not stable either last Anon."

Yes it was stable. Highly stable compared to what it is like after the US invasion.

"Saddam killed everyone who threatened his tribal rule."

Thus bringing stability.

"That's not exactly stable."

You're not very bright, Whiskey.

What would have happened had Uday or Qusay gotten power?

More stability? Who knows. The point is, the US invasion destabilized Iraq and turned it into a failed state. It still is. Saddam knew who to kill in order to bring about stability. The US just kills randomly and without sense, not understanding who is who and what is what, and the result is simply chaos. We will pull out eventually, and either chaos will continue or some new strongman will emerge. But it won't be stable while we are there, because we literally don't know what we are doing - and Whiskey's stupidity is Exhibit A in why the USA is incompetent at the Empire game.

eh said...

Good post. Succinct.

jody said...

"Iraq was not stable either"

yes it was, then G-dub went in and destabilized it. i still laugh when i think about all the retards during the GW years telling me how iraq was "just like" germany. remember the TOTALL BS they were slinging about "werewolves" and post world war 2, occupied germany? it brought teh lulz. condi rice and her funny jokes. well guess what. it's 8 years later and iraqis are still blowing each other up on the reg, player. werewolves my ass.

before world war 2, germany was perhaps the preeminent nation ON EARTH. germans were writing symphonies. karl benz developed the automobile, wehrner von braun was developing the missile, hans von ohain was developing the jet engine. german germans as well as german jews were winning nobel science prizes.

after surrendering, germans just wanted to get back to manufacturing machines, inventing stuff, and rebuilding the best infrastructure in the world. when dwight eisenhower was the allied commander in europe, he saw the autobahn, then came back to the US and copied it. which is what the US interstate highway system is based on. hence the "dwight eisenhower highway system". after world war 2 the americans even took wehrner von braun home, and used him to help win the space race against the soviets. all the soviets got was a few german scientists who developed the uranium centrifuge the soviets used to enter the atomic age, plus some other germans who helped develop fission bombs for them.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zippe_centrifuge

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Max_Steenbeck

jody said...

so the americans copied tons of stuff from WW2 germany (the list is a lot longer than what i posted), but did the US copy ANYTHING it saw in iraq? did any iraqi geniuses come out of G-dub's war? which iraqi is gonna help the US compete with china?

what were iraqis doing before GW invaded? they were dirt farmers riding around on camels. what, exactly, did anybody think they would do AFTER being invaded? would iraqis suddenly turn into docile, brilliant lutheran germans? after being invaded, iraq would suddenly develop a massive industrial manufacturing operation out of thin air?

in 2011, germany exports more stuff than even the united states, and has the highest trade surplus in the world, higher than even china. meanwhile iraq is still producing the same 2 million barrels of oil per day it did 20 years ago. no improvement at all even after being occupied for years and having access to engineers from exxon, shell, et cetera.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_exports

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_net_exports

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-12-27/iraq-s-crude-oil-production-reaches-highest-in-20-years-oil-minister-says.html

dearieme said...

I have always assumed that O was keeping the Afghan war going just so that he could close it down during his re-election campaign. Am I being not cynical enough?

Polistra said...

The 97% figure is sort of tautological, and only shows the self-blinding ability of economists.

It means 97% of the legal and 'cashable' economy, in other words 97% of the income within the class that depends on American military and contractor support.

Outside the government, most of the people are getting along on subsistence farming, barter, and opium poppies. Not cash or not legal, so doesn't count.

Hapalong Cassidy said...

One thing you can always count on is Whiskey taking the side of the issue that will result in the most war for the U.S. This time, he's blaming Pakistan for the mess that is Afghanistan (following this to it's logical conclusion means the U.S. going to war with Pakistan). I admit, I haven't heard that one before. Silly me - I thought Afghanistan was always backwards and tribal.

Svigor said...

Iraq was not stable either

I think the years between Iraq Attaq I and II pretty well proved the stability of Saddam's regime.

Kaz said...

Okay wait what.. Are people blaming the downfall of Afghanistan on Pakistan?

What happened to the Soviet invasion? That's what really caused the downfall of Afghanistan (and one could argue by proxy the degeneration of Pakistan), all the good people fled. America funded Al-Qaeda/Taliban at this point to counter the Soviet threat, which I believe was at least somewhat done with good intentions.

Now you all know the results of that..

europeasant said...

"Is there not a country on God's green earth that is so backwards that our Western elites cannot make worse?"

How about Zimbabwe,Botswana,Zambia,Angola, Conga,Tanzania,Kenya,Somalia,Sudan,Gabon,
Nigeria,Ghana,IvoryCoast,
Liberia,SierraLeone,Mali,Niger,
Chad,Gambia,etc,etc

We've got our work cut out for us,especially with the projected population expected to exceed 1 billion. The do gooders never sleep unless the money runs out.

Black Death said...

"The Man Who Would Be King" is one of my favorite movies. I've also read the book, and it may be one of those rarities, a movie that is even better than the book upon which it is based. Perhaps it's time for a remake. How about Obama and Bush II as Peachey and Daniel? I know it will be tough to top the original, with Sean Connery and Michael Caine, but, hey, who would be better nowadays?

Maybe we could also do a series of Flashman movies. And who better to play the lead role than Bill Clinton - type-cast as a womanizing, avaricious, cowardly scoundrel.

Mark said...

I've always considered a country's inhabitants life expectancy as a good basic measure of its stability and success. According to World Health Organization statistics, average Iraqi life expectancy dropped from 68 in 2000 to 66 in 2009. This was during a period where world life expectancies were increasing by two years during the same time period. Getting rid of Saddam may have made Bush and the neocons happy but it didn't improve the life of the average Iraqi.

David said...

Good point, Polistra.

And that real, native, or "underground" economy is precisely what we're destabilizing.

Anonymous said...

"We should get out of Afghanistan. And Japan. And South Korea. And Europe. And........"

Be careful what you wish for. You may not like what will come after your last "and".

Anonymous said...

To those clowns who think that Iraq was stable before US invasion: just because you weren't paying attention, doesn't mean it was. In reality, if anything it's more stable now.

Anonymous said...

"Reading about this Afghani girl really humanized the whole situation for me"

what about the men coming back in body bags?
sexist.

"has images of Afghanistan from the 1950s: modern dress (for women!"

nor do we see Amish women in mini-skirts.


"Outside the government, most of the people are getting along on subsistence farming, barter, and opium poppies. "

don't forget the contribution of women in kitchens.
sexist and misogynist.

Truth said...

'Afghanistan was a semi-modernizing place that was relatively stable,'

Once again, my friend, you've exceeded all expectations.

Anonymous said...

It's all about the lithium.

War is Peace said...

average Iraqi life expectancy dropped from 68 in 2000 to 66 in 2009. This was during a period where world life expectancies were increasing by two years during the same time period. Getting rid of Saddam may have made Bush and the neocons happy but it didn't improve the life of the average Iraqi.

One more factor show how bad the post Iraqi invasion has been besides the -4yrs Iraqi life span measured against rising global averages:

Recall, Iraq was under harsh international sanctions 1990-2003 that directly more than doubled the infant mortality from 47 to 108 per 1,000 while child mortality rate (1-5yo) rose from 56 to 131 per 1,000 (these figures should've normally fallen like in the rest of the world).

With sanctions lifted and US/Western aid and experts pouring in, for Iraqi life spans to have shrunk even below those of 13 yrs of heavy sanction shows how bad the after affects of Iraqi invasion must've been.

Mr. Anon said...

"Anonymous said...

It's all about the lithium."

And "Whiskey" could certainly use a dose or two of lithium.

AmericanGoy said...

"development spending that now provides 97 percent of the country’s gross domestic product."

Is opium included in that figure?

Anonymous said...

A touching faith in the Saddam-era statistics. Or the post-Saddam for that matter.

War is Peace said...

A touching faith in the Saddam-era statistics. Or the post-Saddam for that matter.

Yes, who could possibly trust crackpot research by shady outfits like the British Medical Journal Lancet or the World Health Organization during the Saddam era? Even worse, all those Western health agencies in US occupied and controlled Iraq are probably even more the puppets of Saddamn who was hung half a decade ago.

Of course I don't recall even the neocons fundamentally disputing the enhanced mortality rates of Iraqi infants and young children due to sanctions. Rather, they just try shifting the blame of such sanction consequences to Saddam.

NOTA said...

War is peace:

I'm no fan of politically-motivated denial of reality either, but I also have some skepticism about the precision of these numbers. In particular, the life expectancy numbers just have to be hard to collect in a country in the middle of a civil war, and my uninformed guess is that a two year change in life expectancy could easily fall into the error bar of such statistics.

It's pretty damned clear that the invasion was a disaster for a lot of Iraqis, since millions fled their homes and, by the best estimates, some number in the hundreds of thousands died in the war.

Whether Iraq is stable or not is ultimately a question to ask people in another decade or two. I doubt anyone could give you a really definitive answer now. (And most of the pundits offering a definitive answer don't speak or read Arabic, and could no more explain the difference between Shia and Sunni than they could perform an appendectomy.) One indication that clued-in people don't think it's stable is that the US still has a large presence there, and there's some recent talk of the Iraqi government asking us to keep troops there. (We officially pulled out awhile back, but we still have about 45,000 troops there.)