Why Obama made the right decision on Afghanistan


by Sunny
2nd December, 2009 at 9:21 am    

Obama has finally announced his plans with regards to Afghanistan. His plans are outlined here.

Why I like it:
1. He didn’t blindly heed General McChrystal’s view that chucking troops at Afghanistan will solve the problem.

2. Announced July 2011 as the date when U.S. forces in Afghanistan will begin handing over security responsibilities to Afghan soldiers and policemen. It’s good he recognises the importance of training up Afghanis to deal with the Taliban – but I feel that’s too early. We’ll have to see, as so far it’s only a tentative goal.

3. He recognises that the Hamid Karzai govt has become deeply corrupt and unless that is addressed – chucking money and troops won’t work.

4. It’s enough time for Pakistan to work on and sort out its own Taliban problem – which really is the main issue here. Without Pakistan, the Taliban cannot survive. If Pakistan manages to completely pulverise the Taliban then they won’t be as much of a menace in Afghanistan.

5. Civilian aid to Afghanistan will be restructured to epmhasise agricultural development instead of big reconstruction projects to revitalise its economy.

The criticisms:
1. The problem is Pakistan too. I don’t think they’ve quite given up the idea of controlling Afghanistan, or at least preventing it from having Indian influence. So the tendency to use the Taliban to control Afghanistan continues unless it is offered some incentive not to.

To that extent – my main criticism is that India and Pakistan should have been brought closer into the equation. Unless they both also worth to strengthen the current Afghani government against the Taliban – this surge won’t work for very long.

These documents, which illustrate that the Soviets faced the same problems in the 80s, make the same point: that the Soviets failed because they couldn’t bring in an international coalition. My fear is that Obama will fail at that unless he is planning to actively work that angle once signalling his own commitment.

2. Even then, the commitment still doesn’t go far enough. In 5 years time Afghanistan may revert back into Taliban hands, in which case the whole area will become destabilised again and al-Qaeda will once again use it as a base for activity.

3. There is the danger that by adopting Bush’s war as his own – he ends up owning it and ultimately falling with it. But Obama has made the choice to make a sensiblle, principled decision instead of one that benefits him only politically.

4. It will cost a lot. Around $1million a soldier – money that may have been better off spent somewhere else.

But to the honest, this was probably the best decision out of the bad choices available to him. At this point I’m more hopeful than optimistic.


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Filed in: Current affairs,India,Pakistan,South Asia






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  1. pickles

    Blog post:: Why Obama made the right decision on Afghanistan http://bit.ly/6i77F9


  2. asquith

    On about Afghanistan: http://tinyurl.com/yg8rc6m


  3. Look Left – The Week in Fast Forward | Left Foot Forward

    [...] speech received a mixed reaction among bloggers, and a surprising one at that, with Sunny Hundal of Liberal Conspiracy fame coming out in support of the President’s plans, while MoveOn, one of [...]


  4. Moscow bombings and motivation at Random Variable

    [...] So, to what extent can Doku Umarov’s movement actually represent a genuine nationalist movement? It is possible to justify terrorism which, although based on legitimate grievances, is not in the interest of their wider co-ethnics? I think it would be difficult to make this point. And there’s a close analogy here with the Taliban, whom Sunny does wish Afghanistan and Pakistan were rid of. [...]




  1. kismethardy — on 2nd December, 2009 at 12:45 am  

    Is there anything in there that gives US soldiers any sort of reason to do bugger all about the escalating poppy trade, or are the people upstairs far too high to do anything but reap the rewards?

  2. platinum786 — on 2nd December, 2009 at 1:33 am  

    Winning the war in Afghanistan is not possible. Not unless your looking to deploy 10 times as many troops. 4-500,000 troops may be able to defeat the Taliban an extra 30,000 won't.

    The only real mistake he is making is thinking a minority based government is going to rule over the majority Pukhtun population. Nobody cares that Karzai is a pukhtun, he's not a leader of the larger pukhtun tribes, the real power brokers in Afghanistan. The only chance to peace and stablity is offering them the top role in government, in a political system which protects the minority groups such as the Uzbek, Tajik and Hazara's.

    Right now I think even that would be unaffective. They know within 5-10 years time, American forces will have no choice but to leave, and Afghanistan will be theirs for the taking. they just have to use the “Taliban” to apply pressure and wait it out. There is plenty of maddarsa produced cannon fodder to use against US forces.

    These may be famous last words, but when the Pukhtuns/Taliban takeover Afghanistan again, they won't allow it to be an Al Queda safe haven. I think they realise the price that came at. Anyone who observes Afghanistan knows there is F-all religious about the place and it's politics, otherwise the Taliban wouldn't be taking money to not attack occupying forces. Al queda bought it's way to the top, as long as the Taliban/pukhtuns can get someone else to support/fund them, they don't need Al Queda.

  3. platinum786 — on 2nd December, 2009 at 1:37 am  

    As far is Pakistan is concerned, for all the rhetoric, don't expect any long term support against the Taliban. Al queda was not in Pakistan's interests, they helped defeat Al Queda. The Pakistani version of the Taliban are not in Pakistan's interest they are defeating them.

    As for the Taliban in Afghanistan, Pakistan will adopt a wait and see policy. The Pakistani government is saying that India is using Afghanistan as a springboard to carry out terrorist attacks in Pakistan using the TTP. Don't ask me for evidence, ask the Pakistani foreign office, they claim to have it. The current ethnic minority government is not Pro-Pakistan, some even describe it as Anti-Pakistan. They'll wait and see what the next pukhtun/Taliban government is like, before they go about taking sides, as supporting the Karzai government or the Abdullah-Abdullah alternative is not in Pakistan's interest either.

  4. The Common Humanist — on 2nd December, 2009 at 1:44 am  

    Sunny

    I think you are right. Of the long list of bad situations he inherited this could prove his undoing politically but he is making the right, principled decisions and the framework
    that he set out just might concentrate a few minds in Afghanistan to make the ANA and Police work.

    Here's to hoping!

  5. cjcjc — on 2nd December, 2009 at 1:51 am  

    Next week: Why Obama made the right decision on the Portuguese Water Dog

    Actually I agree, other than (1) – why not give the military what they think they need now, given (2) ?

  6. The Common Humanist — on 2nd December, 2009 at 1:54 am  

    Sunny

    I think you are right. Of the long list of bad situations he inherited this could prove his undoing politically but he is making the right, principled decisions and the framework
    that he set out just might concentrate a few minds in Afghanistan to make the ANA and Police work.

    Here's to hoping!

  7. Binky — on 2nd December, 2009 at 3:21 am  

    The One has been hypnotised by the militarists and has bitterly disappointed us.

    The 'right' decision on Afghanistan would be as follows:

    -1- Ensure that every Afghan over the age of three has a serviceable firearm and at least fifty rounds of ammunition.

    -2- Evacuate Afghanistan, pausing only to loot the National Museum on the way out.

    Opium poppies grow in lots of places.

    Other countries export perfectly adequate hashish, crude lapis lazuli carvings and crudely knotted rugs.

  8. Binky — on 2nd December, 2009 at 4:06 am  

    All you need to know is here:

    http://www.thedailymash.co.uk/news/internationa

  9. Dalbir — on 2nd December, 2009 at 6:38 am  

    4. It’s enough time for Pakistan to work on and sort out its own Taliban problem – which really is the main issue here. Without Pakistan, the Taliban cannot survive. If Pakistan manages to completely pulverise the Taliban then they won’t be as much of a menace in Afghanistan.

    I think Pakistan (or elements within) have their own agenda for the Taliban. Once the American debacle is over, whenever that is, and whatever eventual form it takes. You can bet the ISI (or similar forces) will be clamouring to get the remant Taliban types to continue their war against India. Most likely in Kashmir. Or in Mumbai style attacks.

    So I doubt that 'Pakistan' would ever want to totally destroy the Taliban but I am sure some periodical, token attacks will take place to placate the western powers who pump so much money into the country. These will be broadcast for all to see as evidence of committment.

    India, being the world's most retarded democracy will no doubt be caught totally unawares (as ever) in this scenario. If there is anyone that need to be preparing for an eventual show down will the active Taliban types (by this I mean those that want to push the sharia agenda as opposed to Afghan nationalists simply fighting to end an occupation), it's India. But they do seem to be too dense to formulate any proactive strategy in preparation for this possible outcome. Maybe it's just a repetition on the type of 'Hindustani' thinking that had the place 'bent over' for invaders for so many centuries? Who knows?

  10. Fojee Punjabi — on 2nd December, 2009 at 6:49 am  

    I don't think it's in India's interests for us to fight proxy wars.

    No offence, but unlike Pakistan, the Indian government were slower to try playing such elaborate geo-political games so aren't reaping the bad harvest Pakistan is with the likes of the Taliban and there's no appetite for anything like that in the future- we have enough problems domestically speaking as it is.

    We're far more interested in turning the tables and selling computer software back to them ;)

  11. Michael Knight — on 2nd December, 2009 at 10:28 am  

    “……Unless they both also worth to strengthen the current Afghani government against the Taliban – this surge won’t work for very long……”

    Ermm India are already heavily involved strengthening the Afghan government. It is the fifth-largest donor to Afghanistan contributing almost $2 billion to date. India has supported projects in power, medicine, agriculture and education.The Afghan parliament was built by India. Indian engineers built a port-access road in southern Afghanistan, and India has trained Afghan civil servants.

    What else can they do apart from becoming involved militarily? And this would be suicide. India is already a target for Pakistani based Jihadis so why would it want to risk being put on Al-Q's hitlist too.

  12. Dalbir — on 2nd December, 2009 at 11:59 am  

    India is already a target for Pakistani based Jihadis so why would it want to risk being put on Al-Q's hitlist too.

    I wasn't suggesting joining in the current conflict. I was essentially trying to convey that should the west fail to destroy the 'threat', there is a good chance this will lead to serious 'blowback' towards India. And that India is likely to get caught with its pants down, mainly because they are militarily stupid/cowardly and only seem good for oppressing their own minorities. India's only vision seems to be as some form of sepoy to the west…….again. Albeit in the guise of the ICT industry or anywhere else.

  13. Desi Expat — on 2nd December, 2009 at 12:36 pm  

    Dalbir,

    So the Indians are weak and cowardly ? That's a good way to stereotype a nation of a billion people.. Do you also hold to the old racist stereotype of the “weak and cowardly hindoo” that the Victorians held and which many Pakistani's continue to hold ?

    As to being a sepoy to the west, India spent most of the last 60 yrs outside of the western camp, and even with the now closer ties to the US, would not go along with anything that was not in its interests.

  14. Refresh — on 2nd December, 2009 at 12:49 pm  

    'India spent most of the last 60 yrs outside of the western camp, and even with the now closer ties to the US, would not go along with anything that was not in its interests.'

    This undoubtedly is the fundamental reason for its success today.

  15. Dalbir — on 2nd December, 2009 at 12:50 pm  

    Fair point Desi but for its size, India's military is seriously lacking. But then that is just one of the many pressing problems that India needs to address. Poverty being one of the big ones as well as treatment of minorities. This last one may well come back to haunt when least needed.

    I'm just saying a lot of instability may be the situation on India's doorstep soon. I'm just saying a prudent nation would make some sort of contingency for such an outcome. That being said, to its credit, India hasn't had to go cap in hand to the west to stand on its own two feet like some of its neighbours. At least as far as I am aware.

  16. soru12 — on 2nd December, 2009 at 1:52 pm  

    Winning the war in Afghanistan is not possible.

    True, but not the way you think it. If the Taliban couldn't conquer Afghanistan when they had the support of the CIA, ISI, Saudi Arabia, the cross-border tribes and a full-strength al qaeda, and the rest of Afghanistan had zero foreign support, they are hardly likely to succeed now.

    The only real open question is whether they collapse quietly and soon, or have a bit of a resurgence and manage to get their act together enough to temporarily delay the departure of NATO troops.

    About the only they could get an actual strategic victory is if they could somehow secure the open backing of some other source of funds and weaponry like the Chinese or Russians or something. Which hardly seems likely given how much everyone hates the Taliban…

  17. Michael Knight — on 2nd December, 2009 at 2:12 pm  

    One wonders what happens to the great American plan should the Pakistanis decide they're not playing ball. Zardari is currently living on borrowed time and the next leader of Pakistan may not be as hospitable to the American presence in that region as Zardari was.

  18. Vikrant — on 3rd December, 2009 at 9:37 am  

    2. Announced July 2011 as the date when U.S. forces in Afghanistan will begin handing over security responsibilities to Afghan soldiers and policemen.

    That is actually the main problem with this. Having a concrete timetable when things clearly aren't going our way isn't the smartest of moves. It will only perhaps serve to embolden the Taliban even further. As someone who could be deployed as early as this summer, this is a cause for concern. Afghan army is simply too weak and inept to deal with the Taliban. And anyone who seriously thinks that Pakistani jihadi-military complex is going to stop aiding Taliban, needs to stop kidding themselves.

    The Pakistani government is saying that India is using Afghanistan as a springboard to carry out terrorist attacks in Pakistan using the TTP. Don't ask me for evidence, ask the Pakistani foreign office, they claim to have it.

    Both you and me know platinum, thats pretty much a load of bollocks. It is in Pakistan's interest that its army quits its self-consuming obsession with India. 20 years of “bleeding India by a thousand cuts” hasnt worked well so far has it now?

  19. Ravi Naik — on 3rd December, 2009 at 12:58 pm  

    That is actually the main problem with this. Having a concrete timetable when things clearly aren't going our way isn't the smartest of moves. It will only perhaps serve to embolden the Taliban even further.

    This is what the Republicans claim, but I have yet to understand the logic. I can understand that going to Afghanistan without a plan, without having the right equipment and having a retarded commander-in-chief would embolden the enemy (which eventually did), but I never heard Republicans say that when Bush was in command.

    There are 4 options. (1) Leave now, but as you say the Afghan army is too weak and corrupt, and could fall easily. (2) Stay indefinitely – that clearly hasn't worked out well, and the US cannot afford to keep throwing away money forever. (3) Decide abruptly to leave without telling anyone. Not sure that's feasible or desirable.

    I think setting milestones is the right thing to do. I agree with Sunny that it was the best decision out of the bad choices.

  20. jamestheVIII — on 3rd December, 2009 at 2:39 pm  

    The americans should leave they are facing their veitnam part II the afghans cannot be defeated the russians had 4 times the man power the americans are putting in and they still lost!

  21. Shamit — on 3rd December, 2009 at 3:50 pm  

    Milestones are good – but milestones should be set based on objectives and not because Democratic House Members are worried about their seats in 2011.

    The choice of 2011 – 18 months away sounds a bit like political game play especially since we have been there for 8 years and we don't have much to show for an afghan security force.

    So, I think it is a tentative date and it has a lot to do with keeping his party happy rather than a strategic objective.
    ******************************************
    Vikrant – if you are activated already you shouldn't be talking here mate unless you are using a pseudo name –

    I am sure you realise why I am saying that.
    *********************************************

  22. dave bones — on 3rd December, 2009 at 4:10 pm  

    Do you not think the US are funding both sides of this? Isn't the tribal region of Afghanistan militarily a satellite state of Saudi Arabia? And Saudi money comes from…

    The Gorbachev stuff is a really good link here- the Russians were being shot with their own bullets too.

    I really can't see Obama doing anything but what he is doing, but I can't see it working with the Northern Alliance- another lesson from the Russian documents.

  23. Vikrant — on 3rd December, 2009 at 8:33 pm  

    Shamit,

    Don't worry, “Vikrant” isnt anything close to my real name.

    :)

  24. Shamit — on 4th December, 2009 at 3:28 am  

    Vikrant -

    I thought so too. Anyways watch you ass when you get to Afghanistan and stay alive dude.

    Good luck.

    S

  25. soniaafroz — on 4th December, 2009 at 5:03 am  

    What is an “international coalition” going to do, that's what I want to know.

    Too many people see war through the eyes of international relations/global geopolitics and frankly that's not the way it works on the ground. The people on the ground – are the only ones – who can decide not to engage in corrupt systems of governance and social organisation. As long as they feel like victims, problematic ways of gaining power – are going to seem attractive to them. Also the only thing they can see – is that military might – pays off.

    In any case, I am fully aware that most people do not understand what I am saying as they think of 'nations' as abstract things. Managing a small scale project is difficult enough never mind a country you have no understanding of! Additionally they are also really only concerned about their own countries' goals at the end of the day when seen through the International relations prism.

    Anyway, what Obama is going for is the best under the circumstances – he is constrained by his position, and can't do much else without being seen to be 'cowardly. for a US president, he's doing well.

  26. Shamit — on 4th December, 2009 at 6:31 am  

    “What is an “international coalition” going to do, that's what I want to know.”

    Sonia -

    Well they should continue doing what they have been doing – building roads, schools, hospitals, infrastructure to support an economy. And over 5,000 miles of roads have been built, numerous schools, hospitals have been developed and women professionals are getting the opportunity to practice their professions such as being doctors, teachers etc etc.

    I do not disagree with you that at the end of the day it matters what the people on the ground think. You make it sound that many people supported Taliban because they love the Taliban – no they are afraid of the force they use. And they kill school children deliberately so that they are not educated – they blow up schools because they dare to teach girls.

    And how is the Afghan population supposed to express their will – either by dying or by accepting Taliban's rule and all the horrific and barbaric impostiions that come with it. The international coalition is using force to able to create a situation where the Afghan population is in a position to express its will.

    The civilian contingent in Afghanistan from Nato and others including India are far more in numbers than their military counterparts helping Afghans build their country.

    Call me idealistic or naive but I do believe that most Afghans do not believe the Taliban's definition of rule of law and neither do they want to serve under feudal lords. And the only way this voice can be heard if those who rule by the gun are either forced to leave the gun or are marginalised by use of superior force. And that is exactly what the International coalition is doing.

    I know you don't like wars and we have argued about this before. But if you look at the Kurds today – they have self governance and violence in kurdisha areas are minimal and they have a far better quality of life despite their political infighting which is sometimes vviolent. Under Saddam Hussein, they did not have any chance — they were being killed for just being Kurds and chemical weapons were used against them. And women and children were killed in hundreds if not thousands while they slept in their homes.

    International community have two choices — 1) either to take action and remove genocidal dictators 20 Sit back and say oh we should not do something – we should leave it to those people on the ground.

    Let me give another example – the Kurds were attacked by Saddam and his army with chemical weapons because they dared to challenge Saddam's rule assuming that we would have their back. Guess what becuase of geo-political reasons the first President Bush and President Clinton decided no we should not.

    Students in Hungary thought US and Nato would back them (and they were so told by CIA) when they rose up against Soviet tanks — guess what we let them down too. And tanks went over bodies of students..And Andropov had the last laugh. All for geopolitical reasons.

    So I guess it would have been appropriate for India to put up a border fence and push back all those who were fleeing Bangladesh in 1970 -71 and said its not our problem just like President Nixon did. And should have told Mujib we are really sorry but we cant interfere in another country's affairs.

    Or we should have just let Milosevic keep on killing Muslims because he wanted to get rid of them and Blair had the balls to say no. Or we could have gone the French, Russian and American way and talk and say we might use some airstrikes blah blah blah.

    Or we could have said we don't understand the complexities of the Bosnia – kosovo conflict and therefore we should just let them deal with it.

    I guess we should have let Hitler carry on doing what he did.

    I know we all like to hate Blair for his liberal intervention concept but it was very recently backed up by Ban Ki Moon calling it the right to protect. And that is exactly what the international community is doing.

    Pakistan is fighting for its survival where school children are going to school thinking they just might die that very day. And for the first time, Pakistan is doing what we wanted them to do for a long time and we must have their back. And our presence in Afghanistan is very important for that too.

    Or we could just sit around and let Al-Qaeda take over the nuclear arsenal of pakistan – and try to attack India and Israel – what do you think is going to happen? President Obama would have to order a nuclear strike – because India and China would do so if he doesn't.

    Well may be the international coalition is there to prevent that scenario. Call me paranoid but I don't think its that off the radar anymore.

  27. Ravi Naik — on 4th December, 2009 at 7:52 am  

    Milestones are good – but milestones should be set based on objectives and not because Democratic House Members are worried about their seats in 2011.

    Shamit, in any serious project there are always deadlines/milestones and objectives, because otherwise how would you allocate resources (30 thousand+ troops)? And in this case, I would assume that Obama has set the objectives in accordance to the timeline. Yes, the timeline is obviously a political play for Obama who is up for election in 2012, but quite frankly, the whole point of going to Afghanistan was to get rid of Al Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden (which I supported), and not the War on Terror ™.

  28. Dalbir — on 4th December, 2009 at 9:40 am  

    I know we all like to hate Blair for his liberal intervention concept but it was very recently backed up by Ban Ki Moon calling it the right to protect. And that is exactly what the international community is doing.

    I think that's a slippery road myself. Like powerful nations (or more accurately a small group within these) usually intervene for purely altruistic reasons in the first place. Although some instances may have occured, I'm sure the vast majority of such interventions had their own motives/agenda which were widely divergent of the official 'explanation'. Let's not be naive.

    I can't see 'the right to protect' being exercised in any fair/consistent manner. So give it up, or else all you wiil end up doing is creating a platform for the next Chacha Bush. Let's face it, we are all praying his cock up doesn't turn into a massive nightmare for all of us now. The big question we have to ask is what type of moron (and their must be a fair few of them) actually think its a good idea to put such a jackass on the throne? I remember when all this was beginning and how many cocky strutting twats I would see around London. You could tell they thought that the empire was about to be resurrected……glory days were about to come.

    In the end white man stirred a nasty hornet's nest which was inherited by a black man. The situation is so f**ked, that surely no one can expect Obama to rustle up some magic 'superplan' to fix everything?

    This is one of those situations when you just know the reprecussions are going to be around for a long, long time in the region (and beyond), no matter what happens.

    This is no different to what has happened before when certain white people got excited and started to try and carve up the world in their preferred shape. They should stay at home more. It's better for the world as a whole. Any chance whitey may actually rehabilitate himself after this experience? Has he been traumatised enough yet or do more people have to get sent back here for that to happen?

  29. Shamit — on 4th December, 2009 at 9:47 am  

    “….but quite frankly, the whole point of going to Afghanistan was to get rid of Al Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden (which I supported), and not the War on Terror ™.”

    I don't know why you brought this up. That was not my point and I support President Obama's plan and my long comment about what the international coalition would do speaks for itself.

    However, on the war on terror, I do not subscribe to Faux News view of the War on Terror and I do not subscribe to overly simplistic argument made by our insensitive Foreign Secretary in Mumbai that there is no war on terror.

    Have you seen the news today.

    Today, in Rawalpindi a General of the Pakistani Army along with 36 others were killed by terrorists – it happened in a Pakistani Army Mosque

    In Kashmir, a senior leader of the Hurriyat was attacked by militants – and he is in critical condition. His fault he favours Kashmiri independence but calls for peace.

    The FBI released documents today which claim that Al-qaeda is funding LeT to provoke conflicts between India and Pakistan. And over the past weeks, if anyone watches news or reads would have read about the James Headley case.

    The money trail shows there is a terror network that is committed to doing everything in its power globally to kill people indiscriminately. And they are against people expressing their will and it is our responsibility to fight in every possible way we can.

    War on Terror is not against a religion – it is not against followers of a particular religion but against those who indiscriminately terrorise people to achieve their gains. Its a war that is being waged by legitimate governments against groups that ar

    Whether its Ulfa (whioch is primarily a Hindu outfit), or the Real IRA (mostly Catholics) are all fucking terrorists and most terrorist groups have gotten funding based on the concept of ” my enemy's enemy is my friend” –

    And in my book Taliban are terrorists – anyone who goes after burning schools. And there is a war on terror irrespective of what Miliband says.

  30. douglas clark — on 4th December, 2009 at 9:54 am  

    Ravi,

    I'm not sure I agree with what you have to say here. There are argueably open-ended conflicts are there not? WW2 comes to mind……

  31. Shamit — on 4th December, 2009 at 10:00 am  

    Dalbir

    I am no empire builder and I am not naive to say that there have been fuck ups. While I may agree Bush/Chenney were not going to Iraq for altruistic reasons, I don't think tony blair was. We would disagree on that and there's no point arguing about that.

    “This is no different to what has happened before when certain white people got excited and started to try and carve up the world in their preferred shape. They should stay at home more. It's better for the world as a whole. Any chance whitey may actually rehabilitate himself after this experience? Has he been traumatised enough yet or do more people have to get sent back here for that to happen?”

    And I detest that statement. For that matter, was it the white man that killed so many Sikhs in Delhi after Indira Gandhi's death? Or was it the white man who decided to rape and murder Bangladeshi's because they had the audacity to win an election

    Or was it the white man who killed so many in recent years in Rwanda or Congo?

    Wasn't Abraham Lincoln a white man?

    That comment is purely racist and in today's world has no basis at all. Do you think the President of the US took the decision based on the colour of his skin – or his half white part told him to put troops on the ground.

  32. Dalbir — on 4th December, 2009 at 10:41 am  

    For that matter, was it the white man that killed so many Sikhs in Delhi after Indira Gandhi's death?

    I squarely believe that British meddling with the Khalsa to subvert them solely for colonial interests, i.e. disarming and disenpowering the independent Sikh army laid the foundation for all of the subsequent attacks experienced by Sikhs, be this at partition or what you mentioned. They are to blame for introducing the notions that caused Pakistan at the expense of so many. They can try and lie and make excuses, but that doesn't change the truth.

    Your whole argument argument that because nonwhites kill each other, white people are okay to stick their nose around the globe doesn't have any logic for me. Whatever problems are experienced around the globe aren't help by poorly conceived interference, usually with a hidden selfish motive that leaves people in turmoil for decades/centuries in those regions long after the interferers are gone. Highlighting a few 'success' stories isn't going to detract from this truth.

    And yes, of late, this mainly seems to come from a quarter that just can't seem to stop it (western Europeans). These people sent boys half way across the world to fight in wars when they should be focusing on what is going on in their own backyard.

    I'm not going to blame Obama for anything yet by the way. He is just dealing with a situation that any would challenge any world leader.

    Don't even try and deny that the antecedents of this whole scenario doesn't smack of old fashioned white imperialism. Whoever has ended up at the helm to today.

  33. The Queen of Fiddlesticks — on 4th December, 2009 at 1:31 pm  

    why does my comment need approval?

  34. Binky — on 5th December, 2009 at 6:20 am  

    Simply open American prisons and send armed batallions of Crips, Bloods and Gangsta Disciples to Helmand.

    Two problems solved at once, right?

    By the way, some Black Leadewrs in the USA seem upset with the political setup in Cuba, a mere 50 years after Castr's gang came to power:

    http://www.amren.com/mtnews/archives/2009/12/af

    Interesting, O Sunny?

  35. Binky — on 5th December, 2009 at 6:34 am  

    Izzat the same Vikrant once scheduled to be Hercules or a non-Hurculean Vikrant?

  36. Binky — on 5th December, 2009 at 7:15 am  

    ALERT:
    Doubleplusungoodthinkful site!

    Road Warrior Ainsworth ain't so sure about Grinning Tony no more …

    http://bnp.org.uk/2009/12/tony-blair-lied-over-

  37. The Queen of Fiddlesticks — on 6th December, 2009 at 7:08 pm  

    But would you still support it if this if you yourself were American?
    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/column

    I know you mentioned cost in the criticisms … but seriously, what are we gonna do?
    There was talk of a “war tax” …. Has our economy fully recovered?
    How will this effect us at home? Way TOOOO much to think about

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/ar

    I read alot today ….2004 army link
    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/4489450/

    60% of our military is overseas already in 2004 … where are they getting more troops? There will be backlash in other countries as long as this is seen as an “American” or “western” fight etc
    somolia
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125983594130174
    Iran
    http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=112754&sec
    jordan
    http://www.earthtimes.org/articles/show/297745,…

    and what of the troops that have been fighting for how many years ..
    suicide
    http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2009/11/us_mil
    and are you aware of the stop loss process….
    I did support this war in the begining … BUT how do you change something that may not want to change …
    culture
    http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=

    a movement like in Libera maybe – http://www.pbs.org/wnet/wideangle/video/women-w

    political history http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Afghani… for reference – Afganistan was building a democracy and the people over threw it after a year? Do they want to be “moderized”? What are the ground views on their economy? I know the poppy industry has been brought up .. but what of things like chinas bid for the copper mines and other outside indusrty? I fear all this will just keep getting attacked as part of some “american capitalist empire” … …

  38. soniaafroz — on 9th December, 2009 at 8:26 am  

    Shamit i appreciate your comments and I'm not suggesting I don't appreciate the scale of the problems, or that i deny the problems exist. Perhaps I should explain a bit more about my level of analysis and what I am always hoping for – a bit of clear-thinking and honesty. Fight by all means if you must but be clear about what you’re doing. (*(in my next comment I will take issue about whose right it is to decide military action – particularly in the global context when some stakeholders will be more affected than others. This is about decision-making and cannot be dismissed by ‘War – yes/no. simple sides. Whose war, whose decision?Whose future is at stake anyway?)
    For me – its about thinking about long-term sustainability and the problems of human society and looking at systemic impact and cycles. so for instance – war perpetuates directly the problems that are up for solution in the first place. If society rewards aggression, then no one is going to spend hard time and graft coming to peaceful solutions. One only has to look at a society like Bangladesh where politics is settled too often by violence, and any corrupt system anywhere in the world. What kind of norms are we building? Where are the incentives for social peaceful organisation? (and this is what the international community should be focusing on right now with respects to Afghanistan. ) I think most people instinctively realise this – and whilst governments may realise this too, they have short-term organisational goals to 'deliver' – which takes precedence on the long-term goals. This is a common organisational problem that crops up everywhere, and one we don’t really know how to get past. THis is part of the problem that any global long-term societal thinking – needs to take into account, if we are to come up with any sustainable form of society. Here we all are agitating for sustainability on the one hand and planning wars on the other hand.
    (Assuming people think that is where we need to get to: of course a lot of people don’t so fair enough to them). But to those who talk about sustainable societies and progressive visions – and social change – this is very important. Short-term thinking has got us all into the current messes that we see. This has been the case throughout history. Whilst some people have the un-enviable job of implementing activity on the ground – and have to make decisions which fit the moment – that is no reason why some of us in society cannot critique this. (and I think it is silly that we have a situation where our Leaders have to have ‘answers’ down pat as if there are any answers formulated so far!) We are not even asking the right questions yet or have a sense of what is happening now, where is it going wrong, never mind, how to fix it. And this is something we need to take collective responsibility for –not fob off at the feet of our leaders (and also thinkers).
    Collectively we need to formulate honest questions without being blocked by having to defend bad decision X taken in 1985 when one was representing Organisation Y. ¬¬¬¬¬¬
    And also – if they are going to be honest, no reason why someone can't be in favour of war now and also realise the consequences of that military action. Reflexive action. It's not about being 'right' or 'wrong' – if you have to take action take it, at least be informed about what might happen as a result. If we had that kind of public discourse, at least a generation or two down, people might not be so confused. (imagine – if we go back in history, we were a bit clearer about our unsustainable financial system : we might have made a balanced decision – ok its great for now – for some of us folks, but sooner or later, it will be fucked up!) then at least, we wouldn’t all be woefully looking around and dragging Alan Greenspan out of retirement to ask him how he could have fooled us like he did. Anyway I digress.
    SO all I ask is for a bit of honesty is what we need if we are long-term going to go anywhere. I don’t kneed Authority or Leaders sugar-coat reality and pretend ‘its all going to be OK’. SO, for me, this is going beyond the 'should we fight/should we not fight' simple polarisation where each 'side' can't see the other side’s point of view. Anyone who's ever been in a war/military conflict – knows that we then find ourselves on one side or another – but its never clear-cut morally that ‘we are in the right’. I think – if you have to fight, big shame, consider it carefully if you can, but if you gotta, you gotta.
    But fundamentally – conceptually – I don't see why nations should be subject to any different rules than citizens within a nation. In that context -there are problem elements all over the place -and we have the right to defend ourselves – but it is a last resort. Of course the wider point is that it works as long as everyone agrees to it. (Which is why some societies are internally peaceful- and some just aren't – its getting that wider social agreement that's so bloody hard). If one lot have guns, everyone else will as well. This is why the referendum on guns failed in Brazil – because everyone was worried about what everyone else was going to do! if you don't have critical mass, it ain't going to work. And implementing something like this would take a lot of time, a lot of change, but again – we have seen this in history – when warring tribes have cemented their alliance (against an external entity) and not fought ‘within’. Perhaps we need to go to war with Aliens before we actually co-operate on the human level – but in any case, why can we not aspire to this? (poor aliens – apologies in advance) How are we ever going to get to critical mass -if we don't talk about it? IF we don't start with a vision, we're never going to move on from the current petty politicking we are stuck in. These are the issues we need to consistently be reminded of.
    So – to go back to discrete conflict situations. Whilst I don't think each and every conflict is going to be the same, and obviously people will take up arms if they feel threatened, and in that short-term period – conflict may well arise, nevertheless – we as a global collective need to realise that war is fundamentally – not sustainable. We can surely be reflexive of this along the way as we fight our fights.
    A bit of systems and long-term thinking – is what my comments are about. Competitive geo-politics – has got to change sometime somewhere. Otherwise each war is going to spin-off another war some 10, 20 years down the line. All history shows us this! Where does it end? Aggressed people turn into aggressors.
    Yes –we are stuck with our legacy systems, and we need to bootstrap change organically (I don’t believe in revolutions – or rather, with a revolution – you end up right back where we started  ) – but we’re not going to know how to do that if we don’t think there is a problem with the way we do things currently, the accompanying mind-sets and belief and ideology systems. We have to recognise conceptually where there is a problem – before we can act to overcome it.

  39. soniaafroz — on 9th December, 2009 at 8:30 am  

    OK this new comments thing isn't working for me very well! that was probably too long a comment in one box

  40. The Queen of Fiddlesticks — on 9th December, 2009 at 11:58 am  

    I am all ready for lots of clear-thinking and honesty.
    and agree with what you have asked about society rewarding agressive behavior.
    Really your entire comment is full of balanced and well thought out points.
    There seems to be very large cultural differences inside afganistan – and by cultural I mean between rural and developed areas. How to bridge that gap? Education will have to play a very big role in that, and it may take baby steps to get started. I know of a program being used in africa called a computer for every child. I think the future of afganistan lies in the hands of the children and the woman, what is actually being done to support them where they are?
    I remember not long ago a soft war approach was on the agenda .. how did it become a surge?
    Like you I understand a time to fight and a time to reflect ..etc
    I sometimes wonder if right now less military action would have a greater benift …. no matter what lives will be lost, but if more of a fight to build an afganistan was the major agenda and the taliban were kind of left to their own stupidity as destroyers of it ….. which side would get more support in the long run?
    And what of the people who argue we all should just let others decide how they live? Is “no choice” really to be concidered a “decision” ?

  41. shamit — on 10th December, 2009 at 2:08 pm  

    sonia – I don't disagree with much of what you said on that long post. It resonates with me. And I think Obama was spot on with his speech today as he accepted the Nobel Peace prize- I was just reading it. He was at his eloquent best and I thought spot on.

    Have a read:

    http://www.egovmonitor.com/node/31925

  42. Shamit — on 10th December, 2009 at 5:04 pm  

    There is a series of programmes focusing on women and children in Afghanistan and many countries beyond the 42 that are in combat are actually doing their best to build infrastructure, schools and hospitals. Girls are going to school once again and women doctors are able to practice their profession. So yes there is a lot going on to help develop Afghanistan and many UN agencies despite the complete lack of Infrastrcuture are trying to build an ICT future for development.

    Unfortunately, to continue doing so we need to be there with force as Taliban is hell bent on wrecking all of it once again.

    With reagrd to your point about
    I sometimes wonder if right now less military action would have a greater benift …. no matter what lives will be lost, but if more of a fight to build an afganistan was the major agenda and the taliban were kind of left to their own stupidity as destroyers of it ….. which side would get more support in the long run?

    First I do not agree the international community should just stand by and let the Taliban take over again along with its imposition of how one should live and literally take Afghan society to the dark ages. And, for the international community to do anything positive we need the force of weapons – without that everyone would be at the mercy of the Taliban which is not and should not be welcome in anyway.

    Second, there is a bigger picture – today Pakistan is fighting for its survival and school children are afraid to go to school thinking that might be the last time they see their parents, loved ones. And Pakistan needs our support. Some like Imran Khan believe that if the coalition forces leave Afghanistan then all would be good in Pakistan.

    I do not share that line of thought especially since the terrorists are now coming and killing in Rawalpindi including the Army bases and an Army Masjid. That was unthinkable even a couple of years ago.

    Let us not forget they took over places as close as 100km from Islamabad. Now this is a nuclear weapon state — and there are parts of the Armed forces which clearly buy the extremist ideology. Imagine what would happen if nuclear weapons fall in the hands of the Pak Taliban and or its sympathisers in the armed forces.

    India and china both have nuclear weapons and sadly the truth is if it becomes clear that the weaponry might fall in the hands of the terrorists – either or both states might go for a preemptive strike or the US would have to. I am sure President Obama would not want to be the second leader in the world who has to order nuclear strikes.

    Whichever way you look at it, that would mean millions losing their lives – and significant impact on India and China. And all the challenges that come with it. Billions of people would be affected including agriculture and the recent recession would look like party days compared to what would happen to the world economy then.

    No one wants the situation to evolve to that stage and our presence in Afghanistan does reduce the chances of that significantly. Hence leaving now would be wrong both moral and for strategic reasons.

  43. halima — on 31st December, 2009 at 5:02 am  

    http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/cb49b92a-f4af-11de-9cba-00144feab49a.html?nclick_check=1

    Another article from Yale Professer Paul Kennedy urging Obama to pull out of Afghanistan. Why? Rome offers Obama lessons on limits. History offers some good insights.

    “The question is this: are there military operations that Great Powers, even the greatest of the Great Powers at any given time, should not undertake? Are there campaigns that are just not worth fighting, because the terrain makes conquest impossible – or commitment of so many troops to handle such a treacherous operation would weaken obligations elsewhere? Does the number one power have to man every boundary, to be strong everywhere? Are there no limits?”

  44. halima — on 31st December, 2009 at 5:10 am  

    Another quote from the same article:

    “My (admittedly, outsider’s) guess is that mountain combat in winter time will turn this war into a soldier against soldier conflict. When helicopters can’t fly through blizzards, and Humvees get stuck in 15ft snowdrifts, there will be an equaliser effect. Our own American, British and other allied troops know that all too well. It is not a question of troop morale, it is a question of practicality, of fighting a slippery foe who chooses when to stand and fight, and when to slip away. A US Marine Corps junior officer told me recently of the latest mordant joke in Afghanistan: “The Americans have the watches, but we have the time.” That’s a creepy thought.”

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