You can end our war in Afghanistan

We have reached an important moment in the Afghanistan War, a point where citizen involvement can make a difference.  If we speak out.  And success here might show our strength, and lead to greater victories hereafter.

Hawks usually give two justifications for the war:

  1. to prevent another 9-11, and
  2. to build a stable and “good” Afghanistan (good being defined in many ways — cherishing human rights, prosperous, democratic, etc).

The first of these is the Big Lie.  Afghanistan had little or no role in 9-11.  Whatever we do in Afghanistan does not prevent another 9-11.  The 9-11 attack was planned in Karachi, Kuala Lumpur, and Hamburg.  The most important and relevant training of the 9-11 terrorists took place in the US.

AQ’s Afghanistan camps primarily trained fighters against the Northern Alliance. The training they provided for 9-11 could easily have been done elsewhere. For more on this see “The ‘safe haven’ myth“, Stephen M. Walt, Foreign Policy, 18 August 2009, or “Who’s Afraid of A Terrorist Haven?, Paul R. Pillar, op-ed in the Washington Post, 16 September 2009.tan had little or no role in 9-11.  Whatever we do in Afghanistan does not prevent another 9-11.

The second reason is so absurd that it needs no rebuttal, as most Americans reject it as either impossible or not worth the cost in blood and money.

This big lie is the keystone of the Afghanistan War.  Remove it and public support for the war will collapse.  No war can be waged by America without a high degree of public support.  Start today!  Tell your friends and relatives.  Write your newspapers.  Post comments on blogs.  Speak up!  So far all the passion has been by the pro-war advocates, like Ralph Peters (see here for examples).  When the rest of us speak up with equal passion the war will end.


  1. The 9-11 Commission debunks the big lie about AQ’s bases in Afghanistan
  2. A supporter of the war admits that the “prevent another 9-11” story is bogus
  3. Our geopolitical experts spread the big lie
  4. The big lie lives, repeated to us today by our leaders
  5. For more information about our war in Afghanistan

(1)  The 9-11 Commission debunks the big lie about AQ’s bases in Afghanistan

The most complete public collection of information about these things is The 9-11 Commission’s Report.  For details about the role of the training in Afghanistan, see page 156, Chapter 5, Al Qaeda Aims at the American Homeland:

In the fall of 1999, the four operatives selected by Bin Ladin for the planes operation were chosen to attend an elite training course at al Qaeda’s Mes Aynak camp in Afghanistan. Bin Ladin personally selected the veteran fighters who received this training, and several of them were destined for important operations.

… The Mes Aynak training camp was located in an abandoned Russian copper mine near Kabul. The camp opened in 1999, after the United States had destroyed the training camp near Khowst with cruise missiles in August 1998, and before the Taliban granted al Qaeda permission to open the al Faruq camp in Kandahar. Thus, for a brief period in 1999, Mes Aynak was the only al Qaeda camp operating in Afghanistan. It offered a full range of instruction, including an advanced commando course taught by senior al Qaeda member Sayf al Adl. Bin Ladin paid particular attention to the 1999 training session. When Salah al Din, the trainer for the session, complained about the number of trainees and said that no more than 20 could be handled at once, Bin Ladin insisted that everyone he had selected receive the training.

The special training session at Mes Aynak was rigorous and spared no expense. The course focused on physical fitness, firearms, close quarters combat, shooting from a motorcycle, and night operations. Although the subjects taught differed little from those offered at other camps, the course placed extraordinary physical and mental demands on its participants, who received the best food and other amenities to enhance their strength and morale.

Upon completing the advanced training at Mes Aynak, Hazmi, Khallad, and Abu Bara went to Karachi, Pakistan. There KSM instructed them on Western culture and travel.

See page 332, Chapter 10 — Wartime, and ponder the road not taken:

The State Department proposed delivering an ultimatum to the Taliban: produce Bin Ladin and his deputies and shut down al Qaeda camps within 24 to 48 hours, or the United States will use all necessary means to destroy the terrorist infrastructure. The State Department did not expect the Taliban to comply. Therefore, State and Defense would plan to build an international coalition to go into Afghanistan.

Both departments would consult with NATO and other allies and request intelligence, basing, and other support from countries, according to their capabilities and resources. Finally, the plan detailed a public U.S. stance: America would use all its resources to eliminate terrorism as a threat, punish those responsible for the 9/11 attacks, hold states and other actors responsible for providing sanctuary to terrorists, work with a coalition to eliminate terrorist groups and networks, and avoid malice toward any people, religion, or culture. (State Department memo, “Gameplan for Polmil Strategy for Pakistan and Afghanistan,” 14 Sept 2001)

President Bush recalled that he quickly realized that the administration would have to invade Afghanistan with ground troops.

(2)  A supporter of the war admits that the “prevent another 9-11” story is bogus

Even some supporters of the war admit that the “prevent another 9-11” rationale is bogus.  Such as Stephen Biddle in “Is It Worth It? The Difficult Case for War in Afghanistan“, The American Interest, July/August 2009 — Excerpt:

The United States has two primary national interests in this conflict: that Afghanistan never again become a haven for terrorism against the United States, and that chaos in Afghanistan not destabilize its neighbors, especially Pakistan. Neither interest can be dismissed, but both have limits as casus belli.

The first interest is the most discussed — and the weakest argument for waging the kind of war we are now waging.

The United States invaded Afghanistan in the first place to destroy the al-Qaeda safe haven there—actions clearly justified by the 9/11 attacks. But al-Qaeda is no longer based in Afghanistan, nor has it been since early 2002. By all accounts, bin Laden and his core operation are now based across the border in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). The Taliban movement in Afghanistan is clearly linked with al-Qaeda and sympathetic to it, but there is little evidence of al-Qaeda infrastructure within Afghanistan today that could directly threaten the U.S. homeland. If the current Afghan government collapsed and were replaced with a neo-Taliban regime, or if the Taliban were able to secure political control over some major contiguous fraction of Afghan territory, then perhaps al-Qaeda could re-establish a real haven there.

But the risk that al-Qaeda might succeed in doing this isn’t much different than the same happening in a wide range of weak states throughout the world, from Yemen to Somalia to Djibouti to Eritrea to Sudan to the Philippines to Uzbekistan, or even parts of Latin America or southern Africa.

(3)  Our geopolitical experts spread the big lie

“We need to do 4 things – what we might call “essential strategic tasks” – to succeed in Afghanistan. We need to prevent the re-emergence of an Al Qaeda sanctuary that could lead to another 9/11.”
Statement of David Kilcullen before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Afghanistan on 5th February 2009

“The mission is to ensure that Afghanistan does not again become a sanctuary for al Qaeda and other transnational extremists. That’s what it had become before the operations conducted in the wake of 9/11. Al Qaeda wants to carry out further attacks on the US and our allies, and we need to deny them safe havens in which they can plan and train for such attacks.”
— From “The Battle Ahead – General Petraeus on US Strategy”, Ralph Peters, op-ed in the New York Post, 19 May 2009

“Failure in Afghanistan would mean not only a possible return of pre-9/11 safe havens, but also a sharp blow to the prestige of the United States and its allies.”
— “Triage: The Next Twelve Months in Afghanistan and Pakistan“, David Kilcullen et al, Center for a New American Security, 10 June 2009

“The war in Afghanistan is in the interests of the United States for four reasons. First, increasing stability in Afghanistan and preventing Taliban control of the country deprives Al Qaeda of an important training ground, making an attack on the American homeland, American forces deployed abroad, and other Americans abroad less likely.”
— Scott Wedman, The Afghanistan Strategy Dialogue: Day One, posted at Abu Muqawama, 8 August 2009

“In my personal view, the United States really has only 2 core national interests – preserving the safety and security of the country and its citizens, and sustaining a stable international system that facilitates commerce, communication, and travel. The conflict in Afghanistan clearly relates to the safety of our country and our people, as it was the haven from which Al Qaeda attacked us on 9/11. We have an obligation to the American people to prevent such a haven from arising anew.”
— from unnamed person, The Afghanistan Strategy Dialogue: Day Three, posted at Abu Muqawama, 10 August 2009

“As President Obama and Prime Minister Brown have both stated clearly in recent speeches, our objective for entering Afghanistan in 2001 – the need to deny Al Qaeda a base from which to launch attacks on the world as it did in 2001, 2003 and 2005 – still holds true in 2009. To do this successfully we must support the Government of Afghanistan in dismantling the insurgency, which still threatens to provide that base, by using the dual approach of military power and political engagement.”
— from unnamed British person, The Afghanistan Strategy Dialogue: Day Six, posted at Abu Muqawama, 13 August 2009

(4)  The big lie lives, repeated to us today by our leaders

Overcoming these lies will not be easy, as our ruling elites repeat them with so far unquestioned assurance.  As does President Obama in his speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars on 17 August:

As I said when I announced this strategy, there will be more difficult days ahead. The insurgency in Afghanistan didn’t just happen overnight and we won’t defeat it overnight. This will not be quick, nor easy. But we must never forget: This is not a war of choice. This is a war of necessity. Those who attacked America on 9/11 are plotting to do so again. If left unchecked, the Taliban insurgency will mean an even larger safe haven from which al Qaeda would plot to kill more Americans. So this is not only a war worth fighting. This is fundamental to the defense of our people.

We must force them to explain the connection between the Afghanistan War and America’s national interests.  We saw in Andrew Exum’s debate (Abu Muqawama, posted at the Center for a New American Security), that when pressed the war’s supporters have little to say in support of the war other than “prevent another 9-11” and the delusional “nation-building”.

The war rests upon our passivity, our reluctance to say that the Emperor is buck-naked.  We can do better.  Our forefathers did do better, and so can we.

(5)  For more information about this topic

To see all posts about our new wars:

Some posts about the war in Afghanistan:

  1. Why are we are fighting in Afghanistan?, 9 April 2008 — A debate with Joshua Foust.
  2. Stratfor: “The Strategic Debate Over Afghanistan”, 13 May 2009
  3. Real experts review a presentation about the War (look here, if you’re looking for well-written analysis!), 21 June 2009
  4. The Big Lie at work in Afghanistan – an open discussion, 23 June 2009
  5. “War without end”, a great article by George Wilson, 27 June 2009
  6. “Strategic Calculus and the Afghan War” by George Friedman of Stratfor, 17 July 2009
  7. Powerful insights about our war in Afghanistan, part 1, 18 July 2009
  8. We are warned about Afghanistan, but choose not to listen (part 2), 19 July 2009
  9. Powerful insights about our war in Afghanistan, part 3, 20 July 2009

48 thoughts on “You can end our war in Afghanistan”

  1. The phrase “big lie” makes it seem deliberate. I think it is more likely just sloppiness in most cases. The problem is that the pro-escalation crowd is so incestuous that no one ever really challenges it. But you’re right, if we make them defend the assertion regularly, ultimately they will either have to stop or cynically embrace it.

    As I mentioned in my critique of Biddle’s essay, “At best, listing this as the first of our “stakes” in the country is a bit of pandering to conventional wisdom. The 9/11 connection still drives a reflexive commitment to Afghanistan. At worst, this is an effort at waving the “bloody shirt” and generating an emotional appeal to support a weak argument.” (see The Incoherence of COIN Advocates: Stephen Biddle Edition)
    Fabius Maximus replies: I too believed that for a long time. But no longer. The rebuttal evidence is too clear, and has been discussed by too many people, for the repetition to be other than lies. These are experts in this area, who should be held to higher standards than regular people in these things.

    Waving the bloody shirt” is in some ways an apt metaphor. I believe “big lie” better captures the essence, as the presumed relationship is false rather than emotionally exaggeraged.

    There is another dimension to this. I have written scores of mild, analytical posts about the war. As have prominent journalists, experts (like yourself), and many others. The reply is always “never again 9-11”. The lie has to be attacked directly.

    We’re beyond the point where quiet logic will suffice. Or is even appropriate.

  2. I appreciate and agree with your stand on this issue. I’ve sent my comments to the President and my two Senators. Unfortunately my Congressman is a hopeless case. I hope your posting generates a serious push.
    Fabius Maximus replies: We all do what we can. Write the newspaper. Talk to friends. These things move from the grassroots up the social pyramid.

  3. FM, You identify Ralph Peters are pro-war for the Afghan conflict, but I have seen writing by him questioning our involvement there, and also heard him say as much in interviews. I do have links, but I believe the written story appeared in his regular column in the NY Post. What have you heard? Has he flipped on the issue? Peters has come out strongly in the past in favor of the Iraq War, but unsure of his stand on Afghanistan now. Can you clarify this for me?
    Fabius Maximus replies: Peters has been clear that he favors our war in Afghanistan. He has (I believe, but might be wrong on this) varied in his recommendations as to how to wage the war. Iin addition to the long pro-war article cited in the post, here are excerpts from his articles in the New York Post.

    * “OUR AFGHAN ERROR“, 2 July 2009 — “Our current nonstrategy is neither fish nor fowl. To secure the Afghan population, we’d need at least as many troops as we had in Iraq at the peak of the surge, more than 170,000. We’ll soon have 70,000. That’s plenty to annoy the Afghans, but not to provide comprehensive security. A more effective strategy would allow Afghans to be Afghans — getting us out of the aid-as-bribery business — while reducing troop numbers and concentrating on killing our enemies: al Qaeda terrorists and their protectors.”

    * “VIETNAM-ISTAN“, 3 August 2009 — “We shouldn’t evacuate Afghanistan entirely. It remains an excellent mother ship for a smaller, hyper-lethal US force that would continue to hunt and kill al Qaeda-affiliated terrorists in the back-country that straddles the border with Pakistan.”

    * “THE WRONG WAR“, 14 August 2009 — Excerpt:

    As a tough-minded veteran commented, “Our government needs to level with the people and portray radical Islam for what it really is . . . Compartmentalizing this fight into boxes like Afghanistan and Iraq simply cuts off our arms.” Instead, our nervous leaders insist that “Islam is a religion of peace,” pretend that Afghanistan has a responsible government, invest $40 billion in aid to line the pockets of thieving Afghan officials — and fight tactically against enemies with a powerful strategic vision. Should we squander blood and billions in a mad attempt to make Afghanistan a model state? Or should we concentrate on destroying our enemies, wherever we find them? Here’s what one warrior thinks: “Our business is finding, capturing and killing radicals who, left alone, would conspire and attack our interests and homeland . . . The problem is global.”

    A very few of his articles strike a different tone.

    * “UNTRUSTWORTHY TRIBES“, 9 July 2009 — “In Afghanistan, the Taliban shouldn’t be our top concern. We can beat the Taliban every time. The crucial question is: How many times will we need to beat the Taliban before Afghans themselves stand up and fight? At present, the Afghans aren’t helping us out — they’re waiting us out. After 7½ years, our troops are still the only real Afghan army. We aren’t training Afghan troops, we’re empowering scavengers. The Afghans don’t really know what we’re doing in their country. Neither do we.”

  4. One addition comment about our involvement in Afghanistan: President Obama, who campaigned as an antiwar candidate, now knows that his name will attach to any failure or perceived failure in Afghanistan, should he order a withdrawl. The same holds true with Iraq, another war he inherited. My thinking is that Obama will “kick the can down the road” long enough to get to the 2010 elections, if not the run-up to 2012. Absent any dramatic changes in the war which force his hand, I do not see Obama making radical changes that imperil either his party or its chances for success in the coming election cycles. By deferring to his senior military people, Secretary Gates, and the like, he can also pin the blame on them should things go south in a hurry in the Hindu Kush.

    Ending either war will take political and moral courage, something I see precious little of coming from either party these days. The bottom line is that both wars are political footballs at this point, sadly for those in the field taking fire and losing their people a car bomb at a time.

    IMO, the best hope for ending either war quickly is fiscal, if the economy gets worse, or remains as bad as it is now, sooner or later, the voters will turn their eyes to military expenditures.
    Fabius Maximus replies: Obama did not campaign as an antiwar candidate. He explicitly supported the Afghanistan War, the “good war.” See How long will all American Presidents be War Presidents?, 21 March 2008 — The 7th year since 9/11, with the only debate about the Long War being what nations America should fight. We see this even the speeches of the most “liberal” candidate, Senator Obama.

    I’m not even sure he wants us out of Iraq. He just wants us to keep our bases without the messy fighting: A look at the next phase of the Iraq War: 2009-2012, 1 March 2008.

  5. Pingback: You can end our war in Afghanistan « Fabius Maximus | Afghanistan Today

  6. Pete avers: if the economy gets worse, or remains as bad as it is now, sooner or later, the voters will turn their eyes to military expenditures.

    Most unlikely. The U.S. military with its associated contractors is now by far the largest employer in America. As the economy worsens, the clamor will rise for more military expenditures, creating more jobs in this chronically jobless economy.

    The military-industrial parasite has now become so intertwined that removing it would kill the host.

    The most probable result of America’s increasing impoverishment will be the convergence of the military-industrial and police-prison complexes into a giant domestic-military-police-prison system. This helps explain why the Pentagon wants authority to station 400,000 troops in America. Fortunately, scientists have announced that DNA evidence can now be falsified. Good news indeed for the police-prison-complex. No more of those peksy innocent people getting acquitted and threatening the livelihoods of our friends in law enforcement.

    Faced with a financial meltdown and a collapsing overcrowded prison system, California has acted swiftly and decisively to put more non-violent drug offenders in prison.

    “The insurgency in Afghanistan didn’t just happen overnight. And we won’t defeat it overnight. This will not be quick nor easy,’’ Obama said. But, he added, “This is not a war of choice. This is a war of necessity. Those who attacked America on 9/11 are plotting to do so again. If left unchecked, the Taliban insurgency will mean an even larger safe haven from which Al Qaeda would plot to kill more Americans. This is not only a war worth fighting. This is fundamental to the defense of our people.’’

    Substitute “crime” for “9/11” and “drug dealers” for “Taliban insurgency” and “criminals” for “Al Qaeda” and you’ve got a winning platform for 2012.

  7. Fabius,

    We must spread this post. We are involved in a war that will cost us spirit, blood and treasure beyond our means. But it seems the media only listens to the beltway think tanks, not to the truthful heretics such as yourself, Chet Richards, Chuck Spinney, GI Wilson, Winslow Wheeler and Doug MacGregor. When are we going to start using our brains and stop listening to the short term evil influence of big, blind money?


  8. Another thing you can do: Go to this website: (the website showcases “Rethink Afghanistan”, a movie by Robert Greenwald). Buy the movie & preview it (it’s got credible sources giving mostly non-ideological, but fascinating, info, including folks from the Straus Military Reform Project).

    Sign up on the website to host a “House Party”. Invite freinds, folks from your neighborhood, family, whoever. Watch the movie, eat popcorn & drink beer, and maybe discuss afterward?

  9. Comment #1: “The phrase “big lie” makes it seem deliberate.”

    It was deliberate. The first act was a bombing campaign for several weeks of “Al Quaeda camps” that had zero effect because it was well known that the camps had be evacuated by Al Queada 5 months before. The whole thing has been one big PR campaign.

    The second point is not only ridiculous because of the cost and political will required but simply because running a war in a country destroys it – it corrupts and destroys the institutions and the very morality of the people. The first step in development is always peace. The plans to be fighting there for the next 40 or 100 years should be considered a crime against humanity.

    Oblat HCMC 2009

  10. Oh for God’s sake FM. “Government will listen to us if we speak up!” Bullshit. The Iraq invasion, TARP, GM takeovers, and healthcare reform just to name a few off the top of my head, were and are passionately opposed by overwhelming majorities of USans. To what demonstrable effect? Provide a single shred of evidence that the US government responds to the will of the people. I dare you. Not hollow justifications or claims that that’s how democracy works. I agree, that is how democracy works. The US just demonstrably isn’t one.
    Fabius Maximus replies: You might be correct about the current state of the Republic. I have faith, but not much evidence. Still, you miss a vital piece of the game.

    “Iraq invasion, TARP, GM takeovers, and healthcare reform just to name a few off the top of my head, were and are passionately opposed by overwhelming majorities of USans”

    First, were the invasion and TARP unpopular at the time? The Afghan War has broad public support even now (see the latest poll in comment #13). And the unpopular aspects of the healthcare bill have mostly been eliminated from the bill. Many aspects of healthcare reform, such as expanding coverage, are popular.

    Second, and more important, it does not matter what sheep think. Whining on the couch does not disturb our ruling elites. None of the things you mention provoked widespread citizen action. That’s the missing element if there is to be change.

  11. Do you think we should end all involvement? I agree with you that it appears to be a quagmire, but how do we bring involvement to an end? Train up and arm the ANA, or just scram?

    I have read some theorists pitch a solution that is essentially a big bribery scheme: Attempt to restore the old pre-Soviet era tribal structures and bribe the chieftains with arms and money to keep strangers out. We would be the leviathan lurking just over the border, ready to punish violations or help the tribes as need be. I’m not a military strategist, so it sounds good to me, but I’m sure a critic could shoot holes in it.

    Finally, what does this say to the world about the US? We go in all gangbusters, get local people to risk life and family to join us, then get frustrated and leave our friends of convenience swinging in the wind. I realize this has already largely happened in the Middle East, now we repeat it in Central Asia.
    Fabius Maximus replies: Don’t exaggerate; it does not help you case. Nobody is saying to end all involvement. As I (and many others have said), limit it short of war. Developmental and military aid are powerful tools, esp when supplemented by training (esp by our Special Forces).

    “get local people to risk life and family to join us”

    This is the worst indictment possible for the war, if you believe the Afghanistan government and people are fighting the Taliban only because we incited them to! If so, we should leave ASAP — as success is impossible. However, I believe your description has no relation to actual events. Its’ a fable.

  12. Reply to #10: “Oh for God’s sake FM. “Government will listen to us if we speak up!” Bullshit.”

    Pode, you’re right that the US public can be pretty sheepish, prety lame. But the fact remains that public support is “Strategy for Ending the Iraq War“, Tom Hayden, Foreign Policy in Focus, 13 July 2005 — just as applicable to Afghanistan IMO.

    The Pillars of War

    1. public opinion. Goal: to achieve a solid majority who believe the costs have outrun any benefits. Primary method: targeted education and outreach. Issues: casualties, budgetary cost, prison torture, contractor corruption, unilateralism, country becoming less safe.
    2. Military recruitment. Goal: to limit the troops available to fight. Primary methods: increase pressure against military recruiters by parents and young people, support dissenting soldiers, oppose diversion of reserves and guard.
    3. Congressional opposition. Goal: to increase bipartisan questioning of war and amendments to limit or end taxpayer funding. Primary methods: build anti-war coalitions in targeted congressional districts, demand hearings and accountability, pressure for withdrawal timetable and funding cuts. Issues: go to for information on the war’s costs.
    4. Left-Right Alliance. Goal: encourage Republican and “red state” opposition to while building up progressive anti-war forces among Democrats, independents and Greens. Primary methods: stress costs in blood, taxes and reputation, expose fabrications that led to American deaths, work closely with military families. For Democrats build grass-roots opposition through groups like Progressive Democats of America.
    5. Coalition of Willing. Goal: reduce allied troops in Iraq, increase military isolation of US. Primary methods: publicly defend countries that pull troops, support global peace and justice movement pressure on UK, Italy, etc., condemn coalition with known human rights abusers like Uzbekistan, Pakistan.

  13. Some interesting new articles about the Afghanistan War

    (1) “The Bundeswehr’s Afghan Nightmare – How the Taliban Are Taking Control of Kunduz“, Der Spiegel, 19 August 2008

    (2) “The Incoherence of COIN Advocates: Stephen Biddle Edition“, Bernard Finel (bio), The American Security Project, 19 August 2009

    (3) Washington Post-ABC News Poll, 19 August 2009 — Excerpt:

    Do you approve or disapprove of the way Obama is handling the situation in Afghanistan”
    — 60% Approve (down from 63% on 24 April)
    — 33% Disapprove (up from 26% on 24 April)

    All in all, considering the costs to the United States versus the benefits to the United States, do you think the war in Afghanistan was worth fighting, or not? Do you feel that way strongly or somewhat?
    — 47% Worth fighting (down from 56% on 29 March)
    — 51% Not worth fighting (up from 41% on 29 March)

  14. Instead of ending an unjustifiable war in Vietnam, Johnson/Nixon/Kissinger pursued Great Power fantasies for almost eight years while America learned amnesia. Finally defeated by North Vietnam, our crimes vs. humanity were ignored by the Vietnamese who cultivated American support vs. traditional enemy, China. The propaganda machine that created our war was exposed for the stupid lie it was and remains. Now as Iraq moves toward civil war will we resume our effort to deny AlQ, i.e. Saudi Sunna, its effort to regain control of that place? We have some dangerous enemies in the world, but the most dangerous are in Washington, D.C. We need to end our military presence in Asia, including South Korea TODAY. We need to take back our country by overthrowing the Congress and the National Treasury Party. This is not a call for Isolationism, but a demand that we put America First, clean our house. We have been lied to for decades and bought it. Bravo FM for taking a stand. If I knew the name of my Congressperson I would call it.

  15. Thanks FM for posting not just to inform but to get people to act, so we can go from couch whiners to phone call and letter writing whiners.

    If you don’t know your rep, you can use this site (the post office website can help you find the +4 of the zip code).

    The only thing that troubles me about the prospect of ending the war is that there is no strong movement that’s really made the push for it. Yes, people are dissatisfied, but politicians aren’t really interested in ending the war. For the GOP, defense is one of the few issues they have better approval on across the board and I doubt their keen to repudiate one of Bush’s cornerstones of foreign policy. The Democrats, on the other hand, don’t want to be the party that admits defeat and leave themselves open to criticisms suggesting that if they were better patriots they could’ve won the war. And most unfortunately, the better mobilized anti-war groups like have let themselves be co-opted by the Obama administration and have moved from an issue focus to a partisan focus. Letter writing is important, but there doesn’t seem to be an organizational champion for ending the Afghanistan war.

  16. I think it’s not quite a “big lie,” but more like a medium-size lie at best. Taliban Afghanistan was a bona fide “state sponsor” giving sanctuary to the al-Qaeda leadership, making it easier for the organization to act worldwide and coordinate things. Ousting the Taliban from Kabul along with with its nasty fundamentalist-authoritarian practices was a nice side benefit, particularly since a more or less viable alternative was present. It was the tragedy of the young century that Masood was assassinated before the Northern Alliance could take over.
    Fabius Maximus replies: What evidence do you have that bases in Afghanistan made it significantly easier to “coordinate things.” No cell phones or apartments in Hamburg? Did it help them buy airline tickets to Florida?

    Nice try, however.

  17. “None of the things you mention provoked widespread citizen action. That’s the missing element if there is to be change.”

    And my contention is that even in the presence of widespread citizen action (hundreds of thousands in the streets protesting the looming invasion of Iraq, so much anti-bailout email the House servers crashed, etc.) not a damn thing will change. Government does not now and never has acted in the interests of citizens, only in the interests of the elite that own it. Been true since the first warlord took grain from the first farmer to pay the first soldier. The location of whining, on the couch, in the mailbox, or even in the sacred voting booth, will not and cannot alter the nature of government.
    Fabius Maximus replies: Your “contention” is otherwise known as a wild-ass guess. Cheap pessimism. It’s not worth discussing. After we try, then we will have information to determine what next to try.

  18. instead of widespread citizen action to stop a war, why not a widespread citizen action to stop terrorism by getting serious about fighting the right war? are we now going to have a neo-hippy movement? why punish ourselves by restricting our liberties? we have yet to name our proper enemies. that would be a good start.
    Fabius Maximus replies: I agree (and have often written) that threat identification is the key first step. We’ve skipped it, instead choosing wild guessing. For more on this see America takes another step towards the “Long War” (24 July 2007).

    After we have a clear understanding of the threat, then widespread citizen action can help.

  19. From #18: “why punish ourselves by restricting our liberties?”

    Who’s calling for restrictions of liberties, Major Scarlet?

  20. i don’t know what the right war is or if we need a neo-hippy movement, but i think the point is that if most people oppose the war in afghanistan, then most people ought to get out there and start writing and organizing an opposition to it. if most people are ok with the war and think its a “right” war, well fine, go ahead and organize too. the point is that nothing changes if you don’t actually try and get it to.

    i understand the cynicism that says letter writing and voting doesn’t change anything. i think if you go back to the first stimulus package vote, when the house voted it down because they had constituent calls telling them to, you can see that yes, citizen power works. then you can look at the next day, where they got twice as many constituent calls asking them to bailout the economy. calling works if enough people do it. maybe your individual opinion doesn’t amount to much in the grand scheme of things, but no movement is built off anything other than a lot of individual actions.

  21. From #20

    Major Scarlet, Oh, I see what you mean. I thought you were accusing people who want to end wars of also wanting to stop liberties, or something like that.

  22. Agree with #10 ,public opinion is officially called public ignorance .
    Evidence suggests collective violence towards glass the only way to get taken seriously .
    Open the can of worms to the public.
    Report and report not just Karzai’s legalising of marital rape ( ignore caveats ), but details of officials’ corruption , previous war crimes , unIslamic behavior , decadence , hypocracy ,betrayal , etc. And the state of womens prisons.
    How to get out
    1. Declare the winner of the elections , a person of such suitability , popularity and strength that all troops , NGOs and contractors can congregate at their bases and queue up to be flown home . Where they need to be found something exciting to do . 2. Give the ( much reduced )military / aid budget , to any still-alive women politicians , to spend as they wish within Afg. 3. Set up secret , dedicated training camps for Afghan youths in Pakistan , Dewsbury UK , Thailand etc teaching not special forces tecniques , or IED -from -fertiliser production , but civil engineering and Wind Turbine -from-wrecked-vehicle manufacture .
    5.Set up a collection point in each province ( Chinese would proably administer , if asked ) offering money bounty for each used cartridge or kilo of spent uranium brought in .

  23. MacLaren (#6): If you are right in your analysis – and may very well be – we’re in for a rough ride ahead.

  24. Ok, maybe I’m an idiot, and maybe the Professor is going to have to explain it all to me. Things generally happen, situations evolve, because that’s the way pepole want it. The middle east, is the way it is, because that’s the way Muslims and Jews like it, if they didn’t like it, they’s change it, but they don’t.

    Same goes for America. You made your own bed, now lie there and shut up !

  25. If the vitriol and outrage of U.S. citizens against the bailout of the large investment houses and banks (99% against the bailout – calling, writing, emailing and faxing in large numbers) was ignored by the Congress and the Executive Branch, why should any voter believe that any opinions we express to our “leaders” on the Af-Pak conflict would be considered?
    Fabius Maximus replies: Do you have any evidence for this wave of popular protest? I saw little of it. The “99% against the bailout” seems esp unlikely.

  26. If you believe Ralph Peters supports the A. caper read his column today — “BLOOD INVESTMENTS“, New York Post, 21 August 2009. Fun, funny and slams the Pentagon, the White House and even manages to get a shot at the so-called stimulus and economic rescue plans currently looting us.
    Fabius Maximus replies: Your first sentence is not quite right. As the excepts shown in comment #3 above prove, his opinion on the Afghanistan War is shifting. Excerpt from today’s NY Post column:

    Well, some fights work out, some don’t. What’s wrong with stating publicly that Afghanistan just ain’t worth it? We shouldn’t leave Afghanistan entirely. But we need to balance our investment with the potential return, maintaining a compact, lethal force to continue killing our enemies. But let’s not sacrifice more soldiers because our leaders decline to think things through.

    How much of this shift reflects events in Afghanistan, how much dislike of Obama and Democrats? He loved it when it was Bush’s war. It is being run by the same people. Bush’s SecDef. Bush’s generals. Same plans. Same methods. Now hes a critic, but never mentions or explains why his thinking has changed.

  27. Comment #16: “I think it’s not quite a “big lie,” but more like a medium-size lie at best.”

    Taliban Afghanistan was a bona fide “state sponsor” giving sanctuary to the al-Qaeda leadership, making it easier for the organization to act worldwide and coordinate things. Ousting the Taliban from Kabul along with with its nasty fundamentalist-authoritarian practices was a nice side benefit, particularly since a more or less viable alternative was present. It was the tragedy of the young century that Masood was assassinated before the Northern Alliance could take over.

    No serious effort was made to negotiate with the Taliban over Al Queada. It was quite feasible that some deal could have been struck, but demands were deliberately given a short timeline and couched in insulting and belligerent language by the US to preempt any Taliban agreement.

    As for the nasty fundamentalist-authoritarian practices, the Taliban came to power not because a bunch of religious students make a superb army, they don’t, but because the people supported them against the corrupt and despotic warlords. Those same warlords where put back into power by the US hen they overthrew the Taliban.

    Before you make any case for US actions in moral terms remember that the US supported Pol Pots return to power after the genocide.

    It’s too late for citizen action now. US withdrawal will only be accomplished with large US casualties and a realization by the US elite that they are back in Vietnam only worse.
    The US military can already see where this is headed.

    Americans always support the wars until they go bad. Then they whine about how they were “betrayed” by their government and how the government never listens to them. It’s a pattern repeated in every war and it shows moral immaturity.

    The time to protest the war was 2001 now is too late.
    Fabius Maximus replies: Why is it too late?

    If excuses for doing nothing made a nation great, America would make Rome look like a sideshow at a country carnival.

  28. Fabius Maximus replies: “Why is it too late?”

    Because, looking at the really big picture, wars, bailouts, inane politics and decisions, corruption, economics, internal division, immoral decay, the USA has metaphoricaly jumped off the roof a of a 75 story building, without a parachute, and changing your mind, or writing congress, as you sail on past the 30th floor on the way down, won’t change a thing. What the USA really needs is a miracle.

  29. Waiting for a miracle is ridiculous, that’s just waiting for someone to fix it for you. No amount of civic activism can erase the mistakes of the past, but there is no reason why we can’t take control of our present and future by actively petitioning for the end of the war. There is no set outcome we cannot avoid.

  30. From FM in #28 “If excuses for doing nothing made a nation great, America would make Rome look like a sideshow at a country carnival.

    Why Nothing Can Be Done, a quiz. (Choose at least one answer. Scoring is at the bottom)
    A. Because all politicians are corrupt.
    B. Because the corporations own our asses.
    C. Because the people are too stupid.
    D. Because there’s not a dime’s worth of difference between the parties. Nader/Alex Jones/Lyndon LaRouche was right!
    E. Because of CREAM (Cash Rules Everything Around Me).
    F. Because it’s like Victor D. Hanson said: Americas are a bunch of decadent wusses.
    G. Because of Israel, that’s why!
    H. Because I can’t bear the pain of trying to talk to these idiots called my fellow citizens anymore!
    I. Because of Global Warming.
    J. Because according to biology, Humans are inherently violent.
    K. Because objectively considering the depth of our actual problems makes me suffer deeply, so I avoid it by drinking Vodka & Tonics.
    L. Because ( ) other

    For each item chosen, give yourself one point.
    1-3: It’s hopeless.
    4-7: It’s so hopeless we might as well jump off a building right now.
    8-10: It’s so hopeless we should nuke Earth so that the roaches can start evolving into a better species.
    11+: Leave the planet immediately.
    Fabius Maximus replies: People with high scores confuse Earth and Heaven. Such cynicism is an easy excuse for couch potatoes, dead weight. America was built and sustained — and will be reformed — by people who think differently.

  31. God helps those who help themselves. Have we forgotten this simple wisdom already? Support candidates in the next primary that oppose the current level of involvement in Afghanistan.

  32. FM: “We all do what we can. Write the newspaper. Talk to friends. These things move from the grassroots up the social pyramid.

    I agree that writing Congressmen is futile. I suspect effective grassroots action is possible, but not if it involves Congress in any way. Conversely, consider the power of communication with open-minded American citizens. They might be unaware that Xe was keeping morale high with underaged prostitutes.

    I have found that if I say, “War is immoral,” everyone yawns, but if I say, “Underage hooker rampage by steroid-crazed American commandos,” everyone wants to know, “Just how underaged? Like, thirteen, or five?”

    The USA is the country of P.T.Barnum. It isn’t so difficult to wave a wicker cane and a straw hat and say, “Hurr-ay hurr-ay hurr-ay step right up to see the amputated Iraqi toddler!”
    Fabius Maximus replies: I am constantly astonished at these comments about reform of America. Has nobody noticed that we hold elections every 2 years?

  33. FM: “America was built and sustained — and will be reformed — by people who think differently.

    Thank you for the opportunity to participate and respond, this is a good time to clear the air, on my part. To that I say, that sadly, you are living in the past, (no personel insult intended, on the contrary I hold you personely in high regard) compounded by a highly mythologised practicaly self hypnotic version of US national history.

    Beyond little forums such as this, DNI, and my own, and a meager handful of topcial websites, (lew Rockwell, I see no evidence what so ever for even the aknowlagement, and basic recognition of the current malaise, much less the will to change. As Chalmers Johnson puts it when he characterises the situation overall, “I see no evidence to the contrary.” “No where is it written that the USA continues forever.” I hear that Vermont wants out ! I’m really begging to wonder if that might be a whole lot easier, and faster.
    Fabius Maximus replies: More whines that how reform is too difficult so you will not even try. Your assertions that we cannot win have zero evidence, and are just wild-ass-guesses. Just get out of the way and let the rest of us proceed with this work.

    “I hear that Vermont wants out !”

    Nonsense. You mean to say “Some in Vermont want out.” Some whackos always want out. It’s the perennial dream of whackos, left and right, to form thier own world. It’s their way of avoiding the burden of citizenship, like a child dreaming “if I ran the world.”

  34. HammerAndSickle

    FM: “The Afghanistan camps primarily trained fighters against the Northern Alliance.

    According to “em>Inside the Jihad by Omar Nasri, during the early ’90s, when the author was a student, the camps in Afghanistan explicitly did NOT train fighters for the war in Afghanistan. They worked out an arrangement with all sides of the war in Afghanistan to be left alone in exchange for not taking sides with their fighters. According to him, the training was mostly for the Algerian Civil War, Chechnya, and the Balkan conflict.
    Fabius Maximus replies: Thank you for mentioning this interesting and valuable book. Your point is correct. However, my comment referred to the time during which the 9-11 team was training. The book describes events before there was a Northern Alliance. Excerpt from the Introduction:

    Nasiri’s time at the camp, between 1995 and 1996, coincided with the Taliban’s rapid rise. As he recalls, relations were extremely tense between the Arabs who ran the camp and Afghans in general, and particularly the Taliban. The Taliban were suspected of wanting to shut down the camps and seize their weapons. They were also viewed as dangerous religious innovators. The alliance of convenience between the two sides would only come later.

  35. “More whines that how reform is too difficult so you will not even try.”

    No sale, scores dedicated and even gave thier lives, (Kent State & Elsewhere) the 1960s in protest of US forgien and military policy, in an attempt to reform. Serious reforms geared towards the US military and procurement practices started around the sametime.
    Where are we today ? (retorical) Pretty much right back where it started, and potentialy worse off. As you well know, ideas are the foundationof 4GW. I wouldn’t be quite so cavalier in dismisal either, there’s empherical precidence for seperatisim right here in N. America.
    Fabius Maximus replies: I doubt many of those at Kent State in May 1960 — now about 60 years old — agree with this nonsense. Please provide evidence.

    No more rants, please. This is not that kind of site. There are hundreds others on the Internet where such stuff is welcomed.

  36. Fabius Maximus: “I am constantly astonished at these comments about reform of America. Has nobody noticed that we hold elections every 2 years?”

    Wow ! Oh well, that settles that, elections every 2 years. If i’m not mistaken, even the Soviet Union held elections regularly. Be reminded there’s a burgeoning crisis of legitimacy, (a good departure point for 4GW) or have you not been paying any attention ?
    Fabius Maximus replies: Please adjust your meds. The elections in the USSR were nothing like those in the US. Nor is their evidence of “burgeoning crisis of legitimacy”.

  37. From #38, “Wow ! Oh well, that settles that, elections every 2 years. If i’m not mistaken, even the Soviet Union held elections regularly.”

    Maximillian, the fact is that there are actually differences between the two parties in this nation, and between individual candidates as well. Electoral work is boring, cynical, labor-intensive, and disappointing. But it works, in the long run. Read about the “The Southern Strategy” (Wikipedia link) for an example of a conservative US electoral strategy that used racial fears of whites as a center of gravity. This strategy was used by Nixon and later Reagan to great effect. Or, Howard Dean’s “Fifty State Strategy”, which instead of having Democrats consider certain states ‘unwinnable’ and therefore concentrating their efforts elsewhere, instead attempts to fight absolutely everywhere at the same time. This strategy arguably was an important factor in Barack Obama winning the presidentcy in 2008.

    (@Anna in #33, sorry, I have never read it, but have heard it is excellent.)
    Fabius Maximus replies: A simplier answer — look at the Square Deal, the New Deal and the Great Society. None were successes if you use Heaven as your minimum standard. All made major reforms, the latter a conclusion to reforms begun at Fort Sumter in April 1961.

  38. Now, Maximillian, it is true that with an issue like the war in Afghanistan, electoral politics may not be the best method because neither party is mostly against the war at this time, except for certain individuals (like George McGovern (link: his editorial “Obama is Wrong on Afghanistan”) in the Democratic party, or Ron Paul in the Republicans.) But that doesn’t mean that there’s nothing that can be done. Cindy Sheehan just carried out an action where she protested Obama on the Afghanistan war at Martha’s Vinyard, and then got on MSNBC and talked about it (video link: Cindy Sheehan speaking on MSNBC 8/21/09).

    Of if you don’t think that her brand of civil disobedience is for you, then here is a document with 198 seed ideas for how to protest something: “198 Methods of Nonviolent Action”, the Albert Einstein Institution. Or, if that’s too exhaustative, check out David Swanson’s antiwar strategy document at “Lets Try Democracy”. Whatever you do or don’t do, realize that all kinds of movements can possibly be successful, but there is no magic bullet, you just have to keep going (if you decide you want to try.)
    Fabius Maximus replies: While I agree with all of the above, there is a more fundamental point. One about which many of the above comments seem unaware.

    A majority of the American people approved of the Afghanistan until recently. See this poll showing that as late as February 2007, when asked “All in all, considering the costs to the United States versus the benefits to the United States, do you think the war in Afghanistan was worth fighting, or not?” the result was 56% approved and 41% disapproved, with 3% undecided (source). Even today the public is only slightly opposed 47-51-3. Obama promised to aggressively fight in Afghanistan, and this is one promise he has kept.

    So the primary task is educating our fellow citizens about the war. Getting our leaders to oppose the war will either happen as public opinion changes — or soon afterwards.

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