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Sat Jan 12, 2013, 12:22 PM

Retreating From Obama's Abject Failure In Afghanistan

Last edited Sun Jan 13, 2013, 11:13 AM - Edit history (3)

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Taking the first clear opportunity past his last campaign, President Obama used his White House meeting with Afghan leader Hamid Karzai to announce a 'speedier' withdrawal of the Afghanistan occupation. Accompanied by both sober and swaggering claims of success and accomplishment, the president's remarks herald the predictable and inevitable end-game of declaring victory and bringing our troops home. It's a mostly vain impulse to care why he says he's leaving Afghanistan -- at this and any point, bringing troops home is always welcome -- but it's also important to keep sight of the tragic reality behind all of the positive and declarative language.

To be fair, this Democratic president's declarations of 'success' and 'progress' are a far cry from Bush's flailing around of the unceasing propaganda from the fugitive 9-11 suspects that Bush regularly echoed in his campaign speeches. Over the Bush term, the NATO mission in Afghanistan was kept afloat by their unceasing fearmongering. This Democratic administration has rejected and abandoned much of the rhetoric of the last bunch's terra talk.

The nonsense crept back into this president's political posturing, though, right after the killing of the 9-11 nemesis. With a mere written statement on the 10th anniversary of the nation's longest military engagement, President Obama acknowledged the human cost of his escalated offensive and the 'challenges' remaining, yet he focused most of his statement on his success and 'progress' in 'defeating al-Qaeda'.

"In delivering justice to Osama bin Laden and many other al Qaeda leaders, we are closer than ever to defeating al Qaeda and its murderous network," Obama said in his written remarks.

In fact, any discussion from the President about Afghanistan these days is certain to include a line about the terror suspects the military has managed to kill and the 'progress' we're making along that line. That's fair enough. Few Americans question the shooting of bin Laden, and few Americans give a wit about the others assassinated in recent weeks other than to wonder how the government can execute American citizens like the cleric with impunity in the course of the ongoing terror offensive.

What anyone who is concerned with the unbridled militarism of the U.S. foreign policy abroad should question is the absence of any position from the President that would satisfy the vast majority of Americans' long-held opinion that his escalated U.S. military commitment in Afghanistan was clear folly. Contrary to public opinion, in which 70% polled say the war has lasted longer than they expected and nearly as many say the troop presence should be reduced, President Obama appeared to be more comfortable advertising his prowess in killing terror suspects than determined to committing to ending his 'pollyandish misadventure'.

Instead, we continued to be gratuitously graced by this administration with swaggering accounts of terra missions and hoo-rah assessments of the self-perpetuating battles there. "Peace through strength" That's a Cold War notion that is belied by the nuclear threats that mushroomed during the arms race as nations jockeyed for military domination. That's the ultimate effect of our military role in Afghanistan as tribes and sects vie for dominance over their rivals in a seemingly unending pattern of attacks and reprisals. The U.S. role in all of that is to keep our finger on the trigger and our foot on the throttle as one NATO shielded faction or the other benefits at the expense of the life and livelihood of their neighbor. Yet, we still pressed on.

As far back as November of 2011, senior officials in the Obama administration have been signaling that the President was exploring a speedier transition of our troops' combat role to the task of training Afghans to provide for their own defense of their dubious government. Even before the signals and the rest from the White House, there were key developments which made it clear that, in order to continue, either the President would need to undergo another ambitious campaign to rally allies away from their almost certain plans to turn away from their part in the U.S. folly, or the administration and Pentagon would have to devise a way to overcome the mounting problems with logistics, getting supplies to the troops, and the apparent outer limits of the President's belief in what the military forces can accomplish on the offensive against a scattered and determined insurgency.

As if to underscore the folly of their escalated military offensive, U.S. troops all but withdrew last year from Kandahar, the Pentagon's self-proclaimed 'center' of their terror war in Afghanistan, in a posture of retreat which began last October. Under the qualifying language of 'transition' and 'handover', the administration hoped to determinately pull the rug out from under whatever goals and ambitions the President had used early in his term to adopt Bush's dubious defense of the Karzai regime, double down on the occupation, and try to effect a knockout blow to the Taliban resistance.

There can be no more resounding admission of the failure of the NATO offensive against the Taliban than this speedier exit. Our closest ally in the mission, Britain, must have been thinking the same thing when they decided on an earlier exit for their own beleaguered forces.It's not very likely the U.S.-led NATO 'alliance' will ever be able to emphasize their political aims over the destructive and destabilizing impact on the communities of Afghanistan from the devastating, U.S.-led military offensive. Through the force of our weapons - many times outside the limits that our constitution proscribes for the use of our military defenses - we've been propping up a corrupt regime and imposing it on the Afghan population, especially in regions which were not engaged in elections that we've claimed gives the Afghan central government legitimacy.

Even our would-be puppet, Pres. Karzai, has bristled and balked at the prospect of more destructive NATO conquest in Afghanistan on his behalf. The once-willing accomplice has seen the political writing on the wall and appears to be looking to settle for the assumption of power wherever the Taliban would allow. His reported outburst at the beginning of the Kandahar campaign, threatening to 'join the Taliban', was a open-warning to the U.S. that he recognizes there is no 'political solution' that can be reasonably carved out of the devastating, withering military campaign.

The premise behind President Obama's initial 'surge' of U.S. troops into Bush's Afghanistan quagmire was to 'push back' resisting Afghans enough to allow some sort of political reconciliation. That effort is predictably bogged down by the difficulty in getting the disparate tribes and factions to accept the central authority NATO has set up in Kabul. There's even more difficulty in getting their installed government to accommodate the interests and demands of the resisting rest of the war-split nation.

The military is quietly hoping we don't notice that they didn't actually transform their Afghanistan misadventure from the leveling of homes, the taking of resistors lives, and the destruction of farmland and livestock into the nation-building success that they intended for the mission to highlight. In fact, the UN has reported the civilian death toll in Afghanistan was at its deadliest during this administration's tenure, despite the presence and activity of their would-be protectors. The planned drawdown is not born out of any political success or victory, but out of a certain realization that there will never be a defining end to the resistant violence there which will transform the country politically.

The U.S. military offensive against the Taliban was an abject failure in achieving the goals behind the offensive. What happened to the promised ability of the U.S.-led NATO forces to protect the residents of Afghanistan against Taliban blowback from their invasion? The ability to protect innocent civilians from NATO attacks, or insulate them from the negative consequences and effects of the NATO military advance? The ability of NATO to provide and deliver the services and amenities of the central government to the displaced residents? Nonexistent.

The only course left for a stalemated and faltering U.S. invasion force was to pull back to the capital from their offensive positions in the south of the country and stage a desperate, last-stand defense of their propped-up, yet insolent regime.

An October 2011 Pentagon report to Congress also indicated that Afghan civilians are dying in record numbers. "Civilian casualties -- most caused by the Taliban -- reached an all-time high this summer with approximately 450 civilians killed in July," it said. "Attacks using homemade bombs, or IEDs, also reached an all-time high this past summer, with about 750 IED detonations recorded in July."Predictably, resisting Afghans have avoided the areas where U.S. troops have masses and have scattered their violence around the capital and elsewhere, killing former Afghan president Burhanuddin Rabbani that year.

Over 2000 U.S. troops have been sacrificed in Afghanistan for this offensive occupation, 630 of those deaths occurring in 8 years under George W. Bush. Illustratively, the top three deadliest years of the war -- 2010 (497 deaths), 2011 (362), 2009 (303) -- have occurred under President Obama’s tenure. August 2011 was the deadliest month of the war, by far, with 71 fatalities. Nearly two-thirds of the U.S. fatalities in the war in Afghanistan have occurred during the Obama administration, in a quarter of the war's duration.

President Obama decided that, for better or worse (he said better) that his surge was over and he pulled out the 22,000 troops he had committed to carry out his dubious muscle-flexing. After all, his Pentagon and his intelligence agencies killed bin-Laden -- the original terror suspect who claimed responsibility for the 9-11 plane crashes -- and more than a few others they believed threatened their Afghan regime. Their violent spawns -- made witness to the worst of al-Qaeda's warnings about U.S. imperialism, have been more than satisfied to have the bulk of our nation's military forces bogged down and fighting for their lives in Kabul.

For an economically crippled superpower pushing up against the admitted limitations of our military, that's enough for the President to declare 'success' and 'progress' and leave when he says he will -- if not ahead of time. President Obama and his republican Pentagon holdovers led our nation to this retreat. They were prepared to tolerate the self-escalated sacrifices of our our soldiers as our troops eventually hunker down there, tolerating the thousands drastically wounded and waiting for some moment to declare 'victory' out of their desperate defense of their own lives against the Afghans that the President and the Pentagon claim we've been liberating.

We've been in Afghanistan longer than our country fought WWII. No matter to our leaders, though. 'Freedom's' cause for occupation supporters is nothing more than a repression of one group or another within the sovereign nation we invaded into accepting our military forces' false authority over them; and cynical manipulation and control of the Afghan government Karzai lords over by the intimidation of our military occupation.

It's probably too much to ask President Obama to give at least a nod to the anti-war faction of his party supporters and provide some sense that he understands we were correct throughout our years of activism and protest. There's a defensive tone to the administration's political patter that seems worried that any talk of withdrawal must be thoroughly couched in blather about 'defeating' their nebulous al-Qaeda nemesis. It's all too incredible for those of us who are convinced that our military mission in that region is self-perpetuating and counter-productive.

Our nation's possessive militarism in Afghanistan and elsewhere has divided our nation from within, and, from without against our restive allies. The escalated occupation has ignored whatever Afghans might regard as freedom in our insistence that their country be used as a barrier against the terror forces we've aggravated and enhanced in Pakistan. Yet, the soldiers the President insisted on continuing to commit to his inevitable retreat to Kabul mostly fought and died because they're not wanted there by the majority of the Afghan people. Our soldiers are fighting to control the Afghans, and Afghans are busy fighting to get the U.S. to release that control.

"Time is running out before the international community transfers control to Kabul by the end of 2014, and many key objectives are unlikely to be achieved by then," the October 2011 report warned.

"Our bottom line in Afghanistan is ‘in together, out together'." Defense Sec. Panetta told reporters. "As an alliance, we are fully committed to the Lisbon framework and transitioning to Afghan control by 2014 . . . We hope Afghan forces will be ready to take the combat lead in all of Afghanistan sometime in 2013. . . .

"This remains a very difficult mission," Pres. Obama said in his weekly address. "The work ahead will not be easy. Our forces are still in harm’s way. But make no mistake – our path is clear, and we are moving forward. Because after more than a decade of war, the nation we need to rebuild is our own."

Ready or not, as difficult as it may be to extricate our forces, its becoming increasingly clear that President Obama can't leave Afghanistan fast enough to outrun the mission's abject failure.






read/watch President Obama's weekly address: http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2013/01/12/weekly-address-ending-war-afghanistan-and-rebuilding-america

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Arrow 33 replies Author Time Post
Reply Retreating From Obama's Abject Failure In Afghanistan (Original post)
bigtree Jan 2013 OP
LineReply .
bigtree Jan 2013 #1
scarletwoman Jan 2013 #2
Comrade Grumpy Jan 2013 #3
sad-cafe Jan 2013 #4
TheGov97 Jan 2013 #9
Zoeisright Jan 2013 #5
Hekate Jan 2013 #10
bigtree Jan 2013 #12
bigtree Jan 2013 #11
TwilightGardener Jan 2013 #17
Skidmore Jan 2013 #20
TwilightGardener Jan 2013 #24
Lady Freedom Returns Jan 2013 #26
kiranon Jan 2013 #6
RomneyLies Jan 2013 #7
OneTenthofOnePercent Jan 2013 #8
Tierra_y_Libertad Jan 2013 #13
Pretzel_Warrior Jan 2013 #14
TheProgressive Jan 2013 #15
bigtree Jan 2013 #16
TheProgressive Jan 2013 #19
bigtree Jan 2013 #21
TheProgressive Jan 2013 #22
bigtree Jan 2013 #23
lunatica Jan 2013 #18
mfcorey1 Jan 2013 #25
truebluegreen Jan 2013 #30
mfcorey1 Jan 2013 #31
truebluegreen Jan 2013 #32
libdem4life Jan 2013 #27
Skittles Jan 2013 #28
bigtree Jan 2013 #29
Demo_Chris Jan 2013 #33

Response to bigtree (Original post)

Sat Jan 12, 2013, 01:08 PM

1. .

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Response to bigtree (Original post)

Sat Jan 12, 2013, 01:21 PM

2. Excellent, thoughtful piece, bigtree.

It's more than past time to end this folly. Here's hoping ALL U.S. troops are pulled out as soon as possible.

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Response to bigtree (Original post)

Sat Jan 12, 2013, 01:23 PM

3. Didn't George W. Bush start that war?

Obama dicked around with it for four years trying to clean up Bush's mess.

I'm no fan of the war on terror, but I think it's unfair to blame this on Obama.

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Response to Comrade Grumpy (Reply #3)

Sat Jan 12, 2013, 01:27 PM

4. I agree

 

President Obama is ending what Bush started.

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Response to sad-cafe (Reply #4)


Response to Comrade Grumpy (Reply #3)

Sat Jan 12, 2013, 03:01 PM

5. NO shit.

Stupid article.

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Response to Comrade Grumpy (Reply #3)

Sat Jan 12, 2013, 03:39 PM

10. SAUDI nationals attacked us. George W. Effing BUSH invaded Afghanistan. BUSH left Tora Bora...

... with OBL still alive. BUSH dropped the ball so he could invade Iraq, all the while treating our troops like so many toy soldiers.

I agree with you, Comrade. President Obama has spent all this time cleaning up Bush's messes on multiple fronts and somehow managing to move us forward as well.

He got us out of Iraq. He cleaned up Bush's mess as best he could. WHEN we are out of Afghanistan I am going to do another happy dance. Obama is doing what he promised he would do, and all the pundits of every stripe can do is bitch about it.



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Response to Hekate (Reply #10)

Sat Jan 12, 2013, 04:18 PM

12. all of those troops lost in Pres. Obama'snaive surge of force

. . . all of those innocent Afghans with no ties at all to the 9-11 attacks on our nation who found themselves at the point of our weapons. All of that in defense of the dubious and corrupt Karzai regime. All of that sacrificing of our troops completely removed from whatever they did to find and kill bin-Laden.

And, "all we can do is bitch about it . . . "

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Response to Comrade Grumpy (Reply #3)

Sat Jan 12, 2013, 04:12 PM

11. as I said above, President Obama escalated that occupation

. . . and is responsible for the increase in deaths there.

I believe that 'cleaning up Bush's mess' is better effected leaving Afghanistan; not doubling down on the occupation and escalating the offensive forces and attacks on the Afghan population. I don't blame the occupation on Obama, but he's completely accountable for the way that he escalated that occupation to prop up the Karzai regime. The counterproductive nature of our occupying force outweighed any 'political' benefit that the president said he wanted to achieve. Any claim that they've resolved that political goal or make it more possible is just sophistry and smoke. The Obama 'surge' of force was a folly, a farce, and a tragic rookie sacrifice of American troops which leaves Afghanistan no better than he found it; worse if you consider the escalated lives lost on both sides as a direct and deliberate result of this President's orders. it's no more responsible or correct for Pres. Obama than it was for Bush to keep our forces bogged down there 'claiming that our troops were keeping their OBL boogeyman from 'plotting' against America.

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Response to bigtree (Reply #11)

Sat Jan 12, 2013, 05:41 PM

17. This was a difficult decision for him--and his advisors were pulling him in different

directions. And there were leaks and generals' public comments that suggested the Pentagon was trying to put him on the spot or box him in. For what it's worth, he was a skeptic of a bigger troop buildup that Gates and Clinton and McChrystal wanted, but he obviously was not able to consider withdrawing, for whatever reason. It's a mistake to compare him to Bush. Obama, from the accounts I'd read, really agonized over the troop surge and looked at it from every angle.

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Response to TwilightGardener (Reply #17)

Sat Jan 12, 2013, 06:05 PM

20. I think the exiting of Petraeus and McCrystal from the stage has opened up

some space for a different military and foreign policy strategy. Frankly, both were neo-con dead-enders and the whole "listen to the generals" stick the nation has been beaten with by the Bush people made it difficult to just extricate. I think both of these generals were basically self-serving and dishonest partisans.

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Response to Skidmore (Reply #20)

Sat Jan 12, 2013, 06:21 PM

24. I do think Obama is now more confident than he was in 2009 to follow his own gut--

rather than the "listen to the generals" approach you describe. I think that's why there's talk now of leaving NO troops there, even over the objections of some military commanders. That may have been simply a bargaining position for Karzai's visit, but I hope it was a genuine consideration.

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Response to Comrade Grumpy (Reply #3)

Sat Jan 12, 2013, 06:28 PM

26. +1 n/t

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Response to bigtree (Original post)

Sat Jan 12, 2013, 03:11 PM

6. Words "success" and "Afghanistan" are rarely

found in the same sentence regarding invaders/external armies/nation builders. U.S. should never have tried the surge but hindsight is 20/20. It all started when Bush went into the wrong country - Iraq. No bad deed goes unpunished may be the corollary to its opposite form.

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Response to bigtree (Original post)

Sat Jan 12, 2013, 03:13 PM

7. Unrec for the title alone. n/t

 

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Response to bigtree (Original post)

Sat Jan 12, 2013, 03:21 PM

8. So when is the new pullout date?

 

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Response to bigtree (Original post)

Sat Jan 12, 2013, 04:24 PM

13. Saying "We lost again and are getting out" is a politician's nightmare.

I didn't vote for Obama because of his campaign promise to escalate the fiasco but, at least, he's finally showing some sense.

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Response to bigtree (Original post)

Sat Jan 12, 2013, 04:28 PM

14. Hey, corporatist right wing fuckers!

 

This is Bush's deal. Obama has tried to work with what was handed to him. I'm glad he's speeding up troop withdrawal, but expect to see a lot more drone attacks in Afghanistan after that.

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Response to bigtree (Original post)

Sat Jan 12, 2013, 04:34 PM

15. The biggest point about the invasion of Afghanistan is...

...it should never had happened.

911 as horrendous as it was, was a police issue. You don't
invade a country because you think the 'bad guys' trained there.

You cannot 'win' an un-winable war. It is impossible that Obama
had/caused/responsible for the abject failure in Afghanistan. It started
with Bush's quest for war profits.

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Response to TheProgressive (Reply #15)

Sat Jan 12, 2013, 04:54 PM

16. I do think that a president should be held to account for his own stated goals

. . . especially those that he sacrifices so many of our nation's defenders to accomplish. Pres. Obama's goals were dubious and the effect of his 'surge' of force was counter-productive to even his own prescription for success. That's both tragic and instructive to those who still believe in the efficacy of such a naive escalation of war.

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Response to bigtree (Reply #16)

Sat Jan 12, 2013, 05:58 PM

19. Well...

I must admit I do believe in taking responsibility if you are in charge...

But, I must also say that the only abject failure is to *remain* in Afghanistan.

If you want to condemn Obama on this, go ahead. In my book, this is only a
minor failure of Obama considering the genesis of this disgusting 'war'.

I would rather rally around medicare for all, ending drone strikes, ending the NDAA
lock up Americans, and assassinating Americans, and others...

On Edit: I have no idea how that other stuff got into my reply title..now removed

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Response to TheProgressive (Reply #19)

Sat Jan 12, 2013, 06:07 PM

21. I'm not so blithe about the loss of American (and innocent Afghan) lives

Pres. Obama did, in fact, 'remain' in Afghanistan. No 'genesis' compelled that deliberate and ultimately tragic, escalated aggression outside of a flawed and dubious set of goals and (his stated, mostly political) expectations.

. . . lol at the 'progressive/liberal typo . . . had my head spinning.

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Response to bigtree (Reply #21)

Sat Jan 12, 2013, 06:16 PM

22. Ok, you have made your point...

And I do not find any fault in your post...

Let's just hope and let us insure that we get out of Afghanistan. I am
sure I will see your positive posts on 'getting out of Afghanistan'. I will
support these threads....

Regards.

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Response to TheProgressive (Reply #22)

Sat Jan 12, 2013, 06:18 PM

23. this is as 'positive' as I'll get about this term of war

peace

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Response to bigtree (Original post)

Sat Jan 12, 2013, 05:54 PM

18. I find it very easy to be against all wars

Period. But I'll never be President and have to walk on eggs.

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Response to bigtree (Original post)

Sat Jan 12, 2013, 06:25 PM

25. It is successful because he knows when it is time to bring the troops home. There is

no shame and never should be.

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Response to mfcorey1 (Reply #25)

Sun Jan 13, 2013, 10:40 AM

30. I agree with Bigtree

It was time 4 years ago to bring the troops home.

Sure, I'll give Obama credit for figuring it out now, but some--many--of us spotted a losing game far earlier.

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Response to truebluegreen (Reply #30)

Sun Jan 13, 2013, 10:57 AM

31. And sometimes we don't know all that is involved in safely removing our troops from these volatile

countries.

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Response to mfcorey1 (Reply #31)

Sun Jan 13, 2013, 11:06 AM

32. Sometimes WE don't; presumably the military commanders WOULD know those sorts of things

But I don't think you can argue that it is safer now than it was 4 years ago. The situation has deteriorated since then.

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Response to bigtree (Original post)

Sat Jan 12, 2013, 06:56 PM

27. American presidents must draw blood...somewhere, somehow...and show that they are

men...patriarchs...worthy of cultural/sociological/political leadership.

Women are not cursed with that millennial urge...as having borne and nurtured the young who turn into adult men and women in their physical bodies. There are exceptions...to be sure...but the primary evidentiary truth exists.

Obama had no choice but to do what he did to follow the cultural imperatives...even in Afghanistan, the historical graveyard of conquerors. I doubt he was even aware of the extent of the warrior-cult pressure until he was actually elected. I fully believe he thought he could deliver on his promises...especialy as related to war policies. Turns out, he couldn't. And I believe it is why a woman has not been seriously considered...who knows, she might go weak at the last moment...given her gender predilection.

He would have been crucified as not only weak and spineless and mercilessly accused of allowing innocent Afghans to die under the dreaded and hated Taliban...but, even worse, a black coward. (Some of us realized that as soon as we leave with our pipelines intact, whenever and however that happens, their ancient culture will remain/return, unfazed and some tribal leaders perhaps enriched by our technological knowledge.)

Our military-industrial complex requires, in order to thrive, the blood of Empire. Yet they won't even vote to employ these sacrificed veterans...even when they manage to return...often maimed physically, spiritually and/or psychologically. In fact, obtaining work skills and getting jobs, is often the reason for enlisting in our wars of convenience. Not far removed from the Feudal Lords sending their peasants to fight their wars of real estate possession and power.



..

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Response to bigtree (Original post)

Sat Jan 12, 2013, 07:25 PM

28. ultimately it is bush's failure

but yes, its continuance is an Obama failure - he should have pulled the plug on that carnage IMMEDIATELY

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Response to Skittles (Reply #28)

Sun Jan 13, 2013, 09:35 AM

29. +1

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Response to bigtree (Original post)

Sun Jan 13, 2013, 11:08 AM

33. Bush started it, but it's been Obama's war for the last four years

 

He has never had a plan to win. There is no shame in this as winning there is impossible, but then why in the hell are we still there?

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