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Are we really at war in Afghanistan?

Or are we playing deadly games? 

When I read crap like this and think about the blood and treasure we're commiting to the fight, I am sickened:

FreedTaliban.jpg
More than 500 suspected Taliban fighters detained by U.S. forces have been released from custody at the urging of Afghan government officials, angering both American troops and some Afghans who oppose the policy on the grounds that many of those released return to the battlefield to kill NATO soldiers and Afghan civilians.

And those numbers understate the problem, military officials say. They do not include suspected Taliban fighters held in small combat outposts or other forward operating bases throughout the region who are released before they ever become part of the official detainee population.

An Afghan official who spoke on condition of anonymity said that President Hamid Karzai's government has personally sought the release of as many as 700 suspected Taliban fighters since July, including some mid-level leaders. "Corruption is not just based on the amount of money that is wasted but wasted lives when Taliban return only to kill more NATO forces and civilians," said the official, who opposes what he considers corruption in the Karzai administration.

U.S. Air Force Maj. Karen Davis, a spokeswoman in Kabul, told The Washington Examiner "nearly 500 detainees held in the [detention facility in Parwan] have been released outright or transferred to the [Afghan government] for disposition under Afghan law" so far this year.

She did not comment on detainees held at other facilities throughout the country, dozens of whom have been released, according to U.S. military officials in Afghanistan. Parwan is the main prison facility located at Bagram Airfield, just north of the capital of Kabul.

Davis added "nearly 200 of those 500 [at Bagram] have been released" since July.

I'm beginning to lean hard in the direction of bringing our men and women home.  There's no way that we can consider ourselves committed to the cause when we're allowing those who kill and maim our troops to be cut loose to kill and maim again.

It sickens me.  If this is indeed what we're doing, if this is the strategy adopted by those who put our people in harm's way, then to hell with the entire thing.  Another lost life simply isn't worth it.

Either fight this thing to end it and fight it ferociously... or get the hell out of there.

This is no longer a war with the objective of winning, it's stupidity we're sending our men and women into to be slaughtered.  Enough is enough.

Fight or get out but don't continue to this idiocy.


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Comments (13)

In retrospect, I think we i... (Below threshold)
James H :

In retrospect, I think we installed sovereign governments in both Iraq and Afghanistan far too soon. Why didn't we keep military proconsuls in place longer? If nothing else, those proconsuls would have preserved unity of effort in the occupation and rebuilding of both nations.

By installing the sovereign governments, we put ourselves into this position.

"Why didn't we keep mili... (Below threshold)
JLawson:

"Why didn't we keep military proconsuls in place longer? If nothing else, those proconsuls would have preserved unity of effort in the occupation and rebuilding of both nations."

Because we didn't want to be seen as occupiers, James. The left was already frothing about Bush's imperial ambitions, screaming about how we shouldn't have done what we did in the first place. It's kind of hard to argue that we need to set up a military-controlled government while we work on a transition when the folks with the media's ear are doing everything they can to otherwise cut off Bush at the knees.

You gotta have priorities, you know? And for too many, the priority was to screw up the effort and make Bush look bad for 2004.

Or so I think - your mileage may, of course, vary. Anyhow it's one of those damnable hindsight things. What's clear ten years down the road isn't at all evident when you've got to make the call at the time.

And let's face it - our own diplomatic corps wasn't exactly a textbook example of effective management either. Seems a lot of them forgot the politics should end where the water beigns...

JLaw: Of course Ir... (Below threshold)
James H :

JLaw:

Of course Iraq and Afghanistan were occupations! You occupy a country after you depose its government in war. And when you occupy a country, you take on certain obligations under the laws of war, including bringing order to the country, building infrastructure, and seeing to the safety of its citizens.

In fact, the whole sovereignty thing was one of the things that bugged me at the outset with these occupations. I honestly think that at the end of the day, we went into Iraq and Afghanistan and deposed two undesirable regimes, only to replace them with regimes that are undesirable for different reasons.

We need to bring the troops... (Below threshold)
hcddbz:

We need to bring the troops home and the increase spending on the Military so we are ready to redeploy our forces when this flairs up again.

The reason for POW is to deny the enemy resources. BHO has with withdrawal date we can release these people 1 week after the last US service member leaves.

"And when you occupy a c... (Below threshold)
JLawson:

"And when you occupy a country, you take on certain obligations under the laws of war, including bringing order to the country, building infrastructure, and seeing to the safety of its citizens."

I should have phrased that differently - 'seen as PERMANENT occupiers'. Oh, well.

And I agree - under the laws of warfare we had obligations and (kinda) fulfilled them. But it would have been a lot easier if (A) the political idiots here at home weren't doing their best to sabotage the process because of their hatred of Bush, (B) if the media wasn't doing its best to portray the people killed by the insurgents as victims of Bush's aggression, which simply made it MORE likely that the insurgents would keep doing what they were doing since no blame or criticism fell on THEIR heads, (C) a lot of the people doing the infrastructure improvements saw it as their chance to grab a whole lot of money and material and to hell with actually doing the work when you could sell off the material somewhere else, and (D) if there hadn't been a whole lot of revenge and hate built up between the various sects of Islam in that country.

(And we won't talk about Iran's funding of the insurgency - which neither Germany or Japan had much of after WW2... nobody wanted to keep playing the game. Iran, however, wanted to force the game into overtime - and is still playing.)

Guess we couldn't do much about D, which led to a lot of people killed in B - but A, parts of B, and C could have been handled better. We probably should also have declared that if Iran didn't stop 'helping' in Iraq and Afghanistan that we'd attack them - but it probably wouldn't have gone over well at all.

The troops might well come ... (Below threshold)
GarandFan:

The troops might well come to the conclusion that 'taking no prisoners' might alleviate the problem.

"I'm beginning to lean hard... (Below threshold)
ryan a:

"I'm beginning to lean hard in the direction of bringing our men and women home. There's no way that we can consider ourselves committed to the cause when we're allowing those who kill and maim our troops to be cut loose to kill and maim again."

So we invaded a poverty-stricken, war-torn country that has a long history of conflict. And this country has a loosely organized state system, and multiple competing power interests. Corruption, violence, and repression (often at the hands of the Taliban) are rampant. We end up invading--supposedly--to track down Bin Laden and AQ, right? And 10 years later we're still there, still doing...well, what are we doing? So tell me, Rick, what "cause" are we committed to here? What was the goal? What are we doing there? What, exactly, are we trying to accomplish?

"This is no longer a war with the objective of winning, it's stupidity we're sending our men and women into to be slaughtered. Enough is enough."

What do you even mean by winning? What do you think the US was trying to do in Afghanistan? Return it to where it was in the 1970s before the Soviets invaded? I don't think we EVER had a clear idea of what we were trying to do there--and from the perspective of far too many Afghans, we just look like another occupying force. Why? Because that's obviously what we ARE.

I'm not sure how or why the US felt they were going to "solve" Afghanistan by sending in a bunch of troops. While the military can certainly be used to weed out groups like the Taliban, it can't really alleviate political corruption or rampant poverty. At the end of the day what most people need is pretty basic, and another military occupation isn't going to bring it.

JLawson:"I should ... (Below threshold)
ryan a:

JLawson:

"I should have phrased that differently - 'seen as PERMANENT occupiers'. Oh, well."

The SECOND it looked like the US was an occupying force in Iraq the shit hit the fan. There was certainly no widespread love of Saddam--everyone knows that. And I think plenty of people were glad to see him go. But once it looked like the US was there to occupy the place, the overt resistance really exploded. And to argue that this all came from the outside is ridiculous. Some came from outside, but there were tons of pretty heavily armed groups within Iraq who started battling for power once the regime was toppled. The same Shiite groups that rose up against Saddam after Gulf War I became the backbone for particular key insurgent groups. The same groups that were somewhat "on our side" during GW I ended up fighting us heavily around 2004. And the deposed Baathists--all of the military and civil personnel who were basically put out of work--formed another strong resistance base.

We deposed the corrupt leader, great. But then we also disbanded the military and civil government, fired the police, and occupied the country. What on earth did we expect would happen besides outright chaos? Did we think that lawlessness, looting, and rampant violence would just magically turn into a wonderful democracy?

Now that all of the fear has calmed down a little bit, people are willing to talk about the Iraq war a little more openly without turning this into some huge patriotic discussion. Iraq was NEVER about freedom, democracy, or any of that stuff, IMO. It was about politics from day one--despite all of the nonsense from US media and politicians. It was about invading and establishing control a key region, period. A region that has been plagued by violence for decades. And now, as James H points out, a new US friendly regime is being "set up." Great. Hopefully this isn't yet another autocratic regime that engenders decades of repression. Because history has already told us where that path leads.

"...(D) if there hadn't been a whole lot of revenge and hate built up between the various sects of Islam in that country."

But that was the WHOLE deal in Iraq from day one. And we knew this long before. We knew this during the Iran-Iraq war, and we knew this in 1991. We knew about Saddam's repression of the Shiite majority. We knew about clashed between the Kurds and the Sunnis. None of this was news, and all of it has a deep history in the very formation of Iraq as a nation-state.

Sorry for the long response.

Ryan A -You've got... (Below threshold)
JLawson:

Ryan A -

You've got some good points - but I tend to disagree with you a bit. (Not much - you'll see.)

"We deposed the corrupt leader, great. But then we also disbanded the military and civil government, fired the police, and occupied the country. What on earth did we expect would happen besides outright chaos? Did we think that lawlessness, looting, and rampant violence would just magically turn into a wonderful democracy?"

The collapse of the German nation-state in '45 didn't lead to that - but there also weren't various sub-tribes looking to grab the reins. I think that the planning for the reconstruction anticipated a lot more active cooperation by the various sects, on a Germanic/Japanese model. They (G&J) were beaten, they knew they were beaten, there was no DOUBT in their minds they'd been well and truely beaten, and they accepted their defeat. (Pretty much.)

In Iraq? We didn't bomb the shit out of the cities, we didn't level their infrastructure more than we had to, we didn't kill off 5 to 10% of the population - we fought as humanely as possible, with as little damage as possible.

They didn't FEEL they were beaten, most of them.

In retrospect - it may be a mistake to be so humane. Instead of killing off the 'troublemakers' - those who would fight to the death for Saddam - we let a lot of them just go.

Well, we always fight the last war - the next one I doubt we'll be so 'kind'.

We end up invading--supp... (Below threshold)
Jay Guevara:

We end up invading--supposedly--to track down Bin Laden and AQ, right?

Nope. The idea was to uproot the Taliban government that was providing staging and training grounds for AQ, such as that little unpleasantness on 9/11.

If we got bin Laden and AQ, great, but we knew they'd scatter like cockroaches when the light is turned on. But without a place to set up shop, to train and organize, they'd be on the run, and hard-pressed to mount another attack on us. Which they haven't been able to do.

(Think about it: how would you like to run a company of a few thousand employees...from a laptop, while you're continuously on the move? Tough, right?)

JLawson:As usual, ... (Below threshold)
ryan a:

JLawson:

As usual, you make good points. And, since I am such a pain in the ass, I see some things differently. But maybe that's just the politburo telling me what to think and say...

"The collapse of the German nation-state in '45 didn't lead to that - but there also weren't various sub-tribes looking to grab the reins."

Exactly. Mostly because the National Socialists pretty much wiped out internal dissent. Or, they clamped down pretty hard. Saddam may have stomped on rival groups pretty violently, but I don't think the cases are really all that comparable.

"I think that the planning for the reconstruction anticipated a lot more active cooperation by the various sects, on a Germanic/Japanese model."

I'd argue that there wasn't a whole lot of forethought about this stage. We just went in and took out Hussein and then didn't really have a plan for what to do after that. That seems to be the general story from what I have read. And when the US looked like they had come to occupy the country, the shitstorm really exploded. I think we ended up fighting the very groups we THOUGHT we were going to collaborate with (Shiites). I mean, with all of the knowledge of the sectarian rivalries, what did we expect would happen when all law and civil society disbanded?

"In Iraq? We didn't bomb the shit out of the cities, we didn't level their infrastructure more than we had to, we didn't kill off 5 to 10% of the population - we fought as humanely as possible, with as little damage as possible."

But here's the problem: we ended up fighting the VERY people we were supposedly there to "liberate". A lot of that resistance was homegrown, and came out of anger and disaffection with the US occupation. Sure, they wanted Hussein out, but that didn't mean they wanted the US to come in and trample the place.

Imagine this: Obama turns into some repressive dictator, and starts violently suppressing all Republicans and Independents. What if some foreign force came to the US, wiped out the Obama admin, disbanded the entire Democratic party, fired ALL police, gutted the legal system, and declared martial law? What would people do within all the chaos? And what if this foreign force started trampling on the rights of the rest of the citizenry? You don't think Americans would take up arms and fight this invading force, even if they wanted Obama out?

The problem, IMO, isn't that we didn't wipe out enough of the "troublemakers," but that we failed to realize we were making enemies out of everyone simply by being an occupying force. People turned against us pretty quick--and we took all the blame since we created the power vacuum.

Jay G:"Nope. The i... (Below threshold)
ryan a:

Jay G:

"Nope. The idea was to uproot the Taliban government that was providing staging and training grounds for AQ, such as that little unpleasantness on 9/11."

Agreed. I think that's a pretty accurate correction of my statement. That was basically the point of the original invasion.

If we're unwilling to press... (Below threshold)
stu:

If we're unwilling to press this war to it's fullest then we shouldn't be there. The left hates our soldiers, they don't care if they are maimed, or killed, believing we shouldn't be there anyway. How can our President send men into harms way with who knows what restrictions on their actions? Releasing enemy combatants so they can kill our troops another day is absolutely unacceptable. Get out now, let the religious psychos kill each other, but don't bring 500.000 of them over here to instill their murderous religion in our communities.




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