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Monday, February 4, 2019

Twilight of the gods

Silverfiddle Rant!
Imagine fighting a war in a foreign land.  The good guys are there to save the people from the bad men.

The good guys fight the bad men, allow little girls to go to school, build roads, school houses, and basic infrastructure like wells, electrical systems and sanitary facilities.

Here's the crappy thing: The good guys are bunkered in fortified camps to protect themselves from the people, while the bad men live securely in the villages and neighborhoods among the people the good guys are trying to save.

KABUL, Afghanistan - The United States and the Taliban are closing in on a deal to end America's longest war after six days of some of the most serious Afghan peace negotiations to date wrapped up on Saturday. (MSN - NY Times)

As the article states, the devil is in the details. 

The "Experts" in the foreign policy establishment excoriate President Trump as "rushing for the exits" and "surrendering" in Afghanistan. These are the same people who created a flaming arc of tragic conflagrations from Africa to the border of China. These are the people who have gotten absolutely nothing right since the wall fell.

American negotiators want the Taliban to swear they will respect the western-style government and human rights regime we imposed on them.

The US is also extracting a promise from the Taliban that they will not allow foreign terrorists to plot, train and launch attacks from their territory.

It is naïve to believe peace talks will arrive at any agreement that respects anything other than brute force.  This is a managed sham to keep from spooking a massive humanitarian stampede.

We did a horrible thing, and we started it by holding out a promise of hope we had no ability or cultural understanding to fulfil. Until we confront the tragic facts as they stand on the ground, admit we were wrong, catalog and study our manifold mistakes, and blow up the foreign policy wings that supported such hubristic stupidity, we are doomed to create more trillion dollar tragedies that kill people by the tens of thousands.


  1. The eggheads in Washington (including senior flag officers) think that you can negotiate with an insurgency. It didn’t work very well in Vietnam, even despite the good works done by the Combined Action Platoons ... as they were all too far down on the food chain. These would be the same muddle-headed people who think that you beat the insurgency by holding up inside towns and villages, thereby making a target of the local population, and where your ability to engage the enemy is severely restricted. These are the same nitwits who think that you can sit down in good faith with people who are politically illegitimate and “make a deal.” The Taliban have learned (as have most Islamist insurgencies) how to play the waiting game. But if there ever is a right time for negotiating with the disaffected, then it must be an internal initiative, rather than one foisted upon the “host nation” by dim bulbs sitting in the basement at Foggy Bottom. We need to leave Afghanistan; should have done that a long time ago. The problem in Afghanistan is an Afghani problem, not an American one. The Afghani problem pre-dates the United States by several hundred years. Tragically, despite our continuous failures over the past several decades, our political arrogance continues to lead us down the same destructive path. We are the laughing stock of the world, but far worse than that, the goat-herders are playing us like an old violin. Enough is enough.

    1. Sam,
      The problem in Afghanistan is an Afghani problem, not an American one.

      Hear, hear!

      These damn think-tankers in Washington are more useless than teats on a boar hog!

  2. One wonders that if Trump is attempting to break the mold from the CFR cabal, he continues to surround himself with the likes of Bolton and Abrams.

    I remember the 'good old days' when negotiating with the Taliban was seen as tantamount to treason...

    Never mind that we've propped up a series of illegitimate and/or corrupt host governments [violating the premier tenet of COIN].

    At least with Afghanistan, we haven't publicly pronounced that we're keep a "beautiful base" [an Tanf, Syria]....to "protect Israel"; or keeping troops in Iraq to "keep an eye on Iran".....which is decidedly NOT what we're doing, nor chartered to do so.....as pointed out by the Iraqi PM.

    1. CI: You exhibit the problem with discussing such issues in the Age of Trump: You took a Trump-focused detour off the main track. I'm not attacking you, but Trump is not the issue here, although he is the catalyst for angst on all sides.

    2. I didn’t introduce Trump into the discussion, I was responding specifically to your 5th paragraph where you attempt to separate POTUS from the standard group of Neocons.

    3. Bolton and Abrams are indeed, neocon bulldogs. But would Trump convince any foreign governments to "tow the US line" if he surrounded himself with vocal pacifists? Bolton and Abrams are not spokesmen for "domestic" policy consumption.

    4. This comment has been removed by the author.

    5. Shoulda coulda woulda nuked the bastards on 9/12/2001

  3. My cousin served in the USMC -- in Helmand Province for 9 months in 2014 (I hope I have that date correct). When he returned home, I asked him for an observation.

    A man of few words, he stated:

    "Those people don't have sh*t, they don't want sh*t [Western ways], and they're never gonna have sh*t."

  4. Most of Great Evils in this world are the result of trying to mind OTHER People's Business.

    It's impossible, unless you have a thorough understanding of the "Other People" you are trying to "help" or "reform" –– or more likely to DOMINATE.

    Particularly foolish –– and ultimately WICKED –– are AGGRESSION and ACQUISITION masked as ALTRUISM.

    In any case trying to "negotiate" with a boa constrictor, a poisonous serpent, a rampaging lion, tiger, bear, hippopotamus, or great white shark is an ultimate Fool's Errand.

    That we have spent trillions upon trillions of OUR dollars playing variations on that basic theme ever since Woodrow Wilson hoodwinked us into participating in the First World War speaks poorly for OUR Judgment as a People and as a Nation.

    Yes, we "won" World War Two, but at what cost?

    Yes our treatment of Japan after VJ day should only be called "noble." However, after that terrible conflict was finally over, "we" took it upon ourselves –– or maybe it simply fell to us, because we had the Atomic Bomb? –– to become The Police Force of the Globe.

    The cynic in me wants to say the "REAL" reason for this is that the users, makers and suppliers of war materiel (Eisenhower's Military-Industrial Complex) stood to make untold BILLIONS –– probably TRILLIONS –– in perpetuating our status as Boss Man.

    We are today reaping a bitter harvest for the immorality and idiocy in trying to manage Other People's Cultures and Countries –– ostensibly "for their own good."

    Please don't call me an Isolationist. Instead, if you must label me, call me an Anti-Interventionist and an Anti-Internationalist.

    If WE can't keep our OWN house clean, how DARE be so arrogant as to imagine we could sanitize the homes of OTHERS?

    1. Franco,
      In any case trying to "negotiate" with a boa constrictor, a poisonous serpent, a rampaging lion, tiger, bear, hippopotamus, or great white shark is an ultimate Fool's Errand.

      My view, too.

    2. The quoted statement when the hyper rhetoric is peeled away is simply saying trying to negotiate with anyone who disagrees with my premise is the errand of a fool .

      We have many in the USA that subscribe to the take no prisoner attitude. Good in some situations. However, sometimes compromise and the win-win is more effective and therefore most appropriate.

      Key... Recognizing which choice is the right one in each situation.

    3. There is an evil hypocrite who dogs my every move
      I 'd love to rid myself him by giving him a shove
      From atop a tall skyscraper of jagged rocky cliff
      But all that's left to me to do is think and act "as if."
      If ill will were material as knife blades or hot lead
      I can assure the multitudes this bastard would be dead!

      ~ La Contessa Vendetta Sanguini della Borgia

  5. Our military is not conducive to pacifying regions, as the mercantilist British system. We do not live amongst the people (quartering). We do not encourage intermarriage and assimilation. If we wanted to "colonize" Afghanistan, we should have encouraged every soldier serving their to take 4 wives, raise families, and supply them "exclusively" with American arms and weapons as "tribal warlords". If we had, there would be a 7-11 and Starbucks on every corner of a pacivated Afghanistan today.

  6. Our military system should be used for the ONLY thing its' good for, defending America. It cannot help other people.

    1. I MADE my song a coat
      Covered with embroideries
      Out of old mythologies
      From heel to throat;
      But the fools caught it,
      Wore it in the world's eyes
      As though they'd wrought it.
      Song, let them take it,
      For there's more enterprise
      In walking naked.

      - William Butler Yeats, "A Coat"

    2. I appreciate this, apparent, softening of Yeats' usual hard-edged dismissal of the value of faith.

      HERE he is at least partially right. It has been my contention for several decades that in essence we ARE what we THINK or CHOOSE to

      ... And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: - Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, THE KINGDOM OF GOD IS WITHIN YOU."

      ~ Luke 17:20-21 - KJV

  7. As I read the introduction, I wished it were the opening lines in an historical novel. :)
    I appreciate your informed perspective and I agree that negotiating with the Taliban seems especially futile, but I do wonder if the upheaval in the middle east was on its way regardless of American action over there. The stability of the early '00s was perhaps an illusion, accomplished by local dictators willing to forcibly subdue their subjects.

    1. Any attempt to shape, help, or interfere in the affairs of an essentially barbaric culture are tantamount to plunging one's bare hnds into a proverbial HORNET'S NEST.

      It's long past time we should have left these people to their own devices.

      The most tragic error of all, of course, has been the West's foolhardy decision to encourage ignorant fools and vicius barbarians to EMIGRATE to Western countries where ultimate RUINATION and OBLITERATION of the effete native culture –– and native PEOPLE –– is all-but-certain to be the primary result.

    2. I’d have to say that upheaval in the Middle East has been with us for as long as humanoids roamed the pre-desert savannah plain. What’s changed is that Western European elites have begun sticking its nose where it doesn’t belong. The Arabs have always operated on the basis of dictatorship, usually in the structure of tribes who quite regularly warred with one another. We westerners might have learned a lesson from the Mamluk-Ilkhanid War —a time when the Mongol armies tried, for more than fifty years, to subdue Syria. We might have learned a bit of history before going off to rabble-rouse with other folks. Failing any depth in our historical analysis, we could always go back and read the Old Testament. And by the way, since most State Department employees are educated within some of America’s most prestigious universities, this should tell us something about the quality of education within these high-cost institutions.

    3. Jez, Thanks! I stand by my last paragraph. We have no business going in and redecorating other nations and disrespecting their cultures and societal norms.

      Now, I think an argument could be made for some paternalistic imperialism in some cases (Haiti, for example, which is filled with nice, intelligent and industrious people, but rotted through with rampant crime and corruption). Haiti has the basis to be made into a functioning and successful western nation.

      No way in hell anybody in the world could pull that off in Afghanistan, and I argue no one should try. So long as they don't invite in terrorists, who cares how they live? They like it that way.

      Unrelated but terrifyingly interesting to contemplate: In a scenario of mass global EMP events, at least 90% of advanced society would die, but primitive societies would carry on unperturbed.

    4. Seeing today’s society, some days I hope for an EMP.....it’d almost be a shame to be prepping for nothing

    5. I agree that negotiating with the Taliban seems especially futile...

      I actually don’t view it as futile. The Talibam aren’t to be trusted for sure, but it’s not in our national security interest to necessarily see them eradicated. They as an entity, don’t pose a threat to the homeland.......only the Kabul regime.

      And I care less what happens to them.....

    6. CI: You know way more about this than I do, what do you think of my idea:

      We address the Taliban and the top 400 (or however many there are) warlords and tribal chiefs and offer them annual bribes and goodies in exchange for not hosting foreign terrorists. They do that, stay in their own boxes, and the goodies keep coming. They let troublemakers in or let their territory be used to launch terror attack, we bring the swarm of B's.

      We could even try to carve out zones like Kabul, Mazar e Sharif and Heart, but essentially guarantee we (and the Afghan government) leave the Pashtun belt alone if they leave those zones alone. If they detect a foreign presence, we will give them the material to repel them.

      I'm pitching it in a simplistic manner, but what do you think?

    7. "I stand by my last paragraph"
      I like it too, although I'd place a greater share of the blame at the feet of W Bush individually. I'm not certain Bill Clinton would have acted the same way had 9/11 fallen a couple of years earlier.

      I think that Taliban warlords would abuse any protections, bribes or threats we make to pursue their own in-fighting. My very limited understanding is that this is what happened back in the '00s -- is there anything in that?

    8. Actually, you may have more AFG time than I; I’ve spent so much time in Iraq/Syria that I should buy real estate. You have an interesting proposal….my cautions would be that internecine tribal conflicts in the area are so historic and so pervasive…that I think we would only be arming a multitude of factions to war against one another. I also don’t believe that we would be able to groom, manage and trust HUMINT assets in that type of environment….at least any better than we currently are [which is with better access

      Zones of quasi-government control already exist, largely isolated from one another sans air and the danger fraught Ring Road.

      The scenario I’d envision, would be that we’d be fighting a proxy war against China, with a bit of Indian shenanigans for added flavor.

    9. Jez and CI, I agree we should not arm them. Material assistance like money, wells, etc that they can lavish the people with.

      I don't care about their in-fighting. They have been fighting one another for time immemorial.

      Diplomats don't call it that, but bribery in one form or another makes the world go 'round.

      Europeans paid Khadaffi billions to keep Africans from setting sail for Europe.

  8. This sonnet was penned twenty-two years ago in reference to the Clintons‘ Whitewater woes, but I see now that the basic sentiments apply to the way politics is conducted all the time. Proof once more that "The more things change, the more they remain the same.” - FT

    _____ Sail On, O Ship of State ______

    What the truth might be no one can find.
    Hopeless is the quest on either side
    Invested as they are in staying blind
    To anything that points to Power denied.
    Entrenched in battle lines made to endure,
    Weapons drawn and ready to attack.
    A motivating force that’s quite impure
    Twists logic into seeing white as black.
    Examining our leaders’ feet of clay
    Removes us from confronting our own flaws,
    While they decisive action can delay
    On how to rid the Nation’s Face of yaws.
    Electing pugilists who throw the fight
    Scorches angels’ wings, yet sheds no light.

    ~ FreeThinke - The Sandpiper, Summer 1997


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