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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

"I have lost understanding of and confidence in the strategic purposes of the United States' presence in Afghanistan."

WASHINGTON — A former Marine who fought in Iraq, joined the State Department after leaving the military and was a diplomat in a Taliban stronghold in Afghanistan has become the first U.S. official to resign in protest of the Afghan war, the Washington Post reported early Tuesday.

Matthew Hoh said he believes the war is simply fueling the insurgency.


I scanned this letter from a pdf using OCR and opened it as a document with Apple Pages. I do not have time to clear the errors but you get the idea:

_______________________




September 10,2009
Ambassador Nancy J. Powell
Director General of the Foreign Service and Director of Human Resources
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, D.C. 20520
Dear Ambassador Powell,


It is with great regret and disappointment I submit my resignation from my
appointment as a Political Officer in the Foreign Service and my post as the Senior
Civilian Representative for the US. Government in Zabul Province. I have served
six of the previous ten years in service to our country overseas, to include
deployment as a U.S. Marine officer and Department of Defense civilian in the
Euphrates and Tigris River Valleys of Iraq in 2004-2005 and 2006-2007. I did not
cnler into this position lightly or with any undue expectations nor did I believe my
assignment would be without sacrifice, hardship or difficulty. However, in the
course of my five months of service in Afghanistan, in both Regional Commands
East and South, I have lost understanding of and confidence in the strategic
purposes of the United States' presence in Afghanistan. I have doubts and
reservations about our current strategy and planned future strategy, but my
resignation is based not upon how we are pursuing this war, but why and to what
end. To put simply: I fail to see the value or the worth in continued U.S.
casualties or ell.penditures of resources in sUP)Xlrt of the Afghan government in
what is, truly, a 35-year old civil war.

This fall will mark the eighth year of U.S. combat, governance and
development operations within Afghanistan. Next fall, the United States'
occupation will equal in length the Soviet Union's own physical involvement in
Afghanistan. Like the Soviets, we continue to secure and bolster a failing state,
while encouraging an ideology and system of government unknown and unwanted
by its people.

If the history of Afghanistan is one great stage play, the United States is no
more than a supporting actor, among several previously, in a tragedy that not only
pits tribes, valleys, clans, villages and families against one another, but, from at
least the end of King Zahir Shah's reign, has violently and savagely pitted the

- 2-
urban, secular, educated and modem of Afghanistan against lhe rural, religious,
illiterate and traditional It is this latter group that composes and suppons the
Pashtun insurgency.

The Pashtun insurgency. which is composed of multiple, seemingly infinite, local groups, is fed by what is perceived by the Pashlun people
as a continued and sustained assault., going back centuries, on Pashtun land,
culture,traditions and religion by internal and external enemies. The U.S. and
NATO presence and operations in Pashtun valleys and villages, as well as Afghan
army and police units that are led and composed of non-Pashtun soldiers and
police, provide an occupation foJ'(:c against which the insurgency isjustified. In
both RC East and South, I have observed that the bulk of the insurgency fights not
for the white banner of the Taliban, but rather against the presence of foreign
soldiers and taxes imposed by an unreplcsentative government in Kabul.
The United States military presence in Afghanistan greatly contributes to the
legitimacy and strategic message of the Pashtun insurgency. In a like manner our
backing of the Afghan government in its current fonn continues 10 distance the
government from the people. The Afghan govemment's failings, particularly
when weighed against the sacrifice of American lives and dollars, appear legion
and metastatic:

• Glaring corruption and unabashed graft;
• A President whose confidants and chief advisers comprise drug lords
and war crimes villains, who mock our own rule of law and
countemarcotics efforts;
• A system of provincial and distriClleaders constituted of local power
brokers, opportunists and strongmen allied to the United States solely
for, and limited by, the value of our USAID and CERP contnlctS and
whose own political and economic interests stand nothing to gain
from any positive or genuine attempts at reconciliation; and
• The recent election process dominated by fraud and discredited by
low voter turnout, which has created an enonnous victory for our
enemy who now claims a popular boycott and will call into question
worldwide our government's military, economic and diplomatic
support for an invalid and illegitimate Afghan government.

Our support for this kind of government, coupled with a misu~ing
of me insurgency's true nature, reminds me horribly of our involvement with South
Vietnam; an unpopular and corrupt government we backed at the expense of our
Nation's own internal ~ace, against an insurgcncy whose nationalism we
arrogantly and ignorantly mistook as a rival to our own Cold War ideology.

- 3 -
I find specious the reasons we ask for bloodshed and sacrifice from our
young men and women in Afghanistan. If.honest, our slated strategy of securing
Afghanistan to prevent al-Qaeda resurgence or regrouping would require us to
additionally invade and occupy western Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan. Yemen, etc.
OUf prescnce in Afghanistan has only increased destabilization and insurgency in
Pakistan where we rightly fear a toppled or weakened Pakistani government may
lose control of its nuclear weapons. However, again, to follow the logic of our
stated goals we should garrison Pakistan, not Afghanistan. More so, the September
11 th attacks, as well as the Madrid and London bombings, were primarily planned
and organized in Western Europe; a point that highlights the threat is not one tied
to traditional geographic or political boundaries. Finally, if our concern is for a
failed state crippled by cOITUption and poverty and under assault from criminal and
drug lords, then if we bear our military and financial contributions to Afghanistan,
we must reevaluate and increase our commitment to and involvement in Mexico.
Eight years into war, no nation has ever known a more dedicated, well
trained, experienced and disciplined military as the U.S. Anned Forces. I do not
believe any military force has ever been tasked with such a complex, opaque and
Sisyphean mission as the U.S. military has received in Afghanistan. The tactical
proficiency and perfonnance of our Soldiers, Sailors, Ainnen and Marines is
unmatched and unquestioned. However, this is not the European or Pacific
theaters of World War II, but rather is a war for which our leaders, unifonned,
civilian and elected, have inadequately prepared and resourced OUT men and
women. Our forces, devoted and faithful, have been committed to conflict in an
indefinite and unplanned manner that has become a cavalier, politically expedient
and Pollyannaish misadvenrure. Similarly, the United States has a dedicated and
talented cadre of civilians, both U.S. government employees and contractors, who
believe in and sacrifice for their mission, but have been ineffectually trained and
led with guidance and intent shaped more by the political climate in Washington,
D.C. than in Afghan cities, villages, mountains and valleys.
"We are spending ourselves into oblivion" a very talented and intelligent
commander, one of America's best, briefs every visi tor, staff delegation and senior
officer. We are mortgaging our Nation's economy on a war, which., even with
increased commitment, will remain a draw for years to come. Success and victory,
whatever they may be, will be real ized not in years, after billions more spent, but
in decades and generations. The United States does not enjoy a national treasury
for such success and victory.
---. --------------------------------
-4-
I realize the emotion and tone of my letter and ask you excuse any ill
temper. I trust you understand the nature orthis war and the sacrifices made by so
many thousands of families who have been separnted from loved ones deployed in
defense of our Nation and whose homes bear the fractures, upheavals and scars of
mUltiple and compounded deployments. Thousands of our men and women have
returned home with phys ical and mental wounds, some thaI will never heal or will
only worsen with time. The dead retum only in bodily form to be received by
families who must be reassured their dead have sacrificed for 8 purpose worthy of
futures lost, love vanished, and promised dreams unkept. I have lost confidence
such assurances can anymore be made. As such, I submit my resignation.

Matthew P. Hoh
Senior Civilian Representative
Zabul Province, Afghanistan

cc: Mr. Frank Ruggiero
Ms. Dawn Liberi
Ambassador Anthony Wayne
Ambassador Karl Eikenberry









68 comments:

  1. Was just reading that, and was going to make sure Rufus saw it.

    He concluded, he said in his resignation letter, that the war "has violently and savagely pitted the urban, secular, educated and modern of Afghanistan against the rural, religious, illiterate and traditional. It is this latter group that composes and supports the Pashtun insurgency."

    That's my theory, of the little theory that I have of it.

    The 'luxurious' city against the rural, mountainous outback.

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  2. And, as far as I'm aware, those two forces have never fought but what the luxurious city got its ass handed to it.

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  3. Five Thousand Years ago the Mesopotamians were building irrigation systems. The present day Afghanis can't even repair the irrigation systems WE built for them.

    The Afghanis have always been the "scum of the earth." Outlaws, that went to live in the wilderness in order to Rob the Caravans.

    They "Are" the Taliban.

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  4. Here's the way I see it. We're probably screwed in 2012, anyway. We might as well run Palin (either as a Republican, or, for real shits and grins, as an Independent.)

    Just watching the Left (and, the RINO Republicans) froth at the mouth would make it "worth it."

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  5. And, I'm not sure anyone who draws the kind of crowds she can draw can't get elected, anyway.

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  6. I have lost understanding of and confidence in the strategic purposes of the United States....period...

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  7. I'm sticking with Palin until she makes some major screwup, impossible to explain away, like, eats her children or something.

    I agree, she's the only one that can draw the crowds.

    I just like her. People like her.

    I'm not passing up the chance to vote for someone I actually like. Hope she runs. It's pretty obvious she is going to try to.

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  8. The MSM will skewer her. They are afraid of her.

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  9. I agree, Bob. I voted for someone I didn't like in the last election, and it felt like shit.

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  10. Hell, they skewered Bush, Twice, and eight years in between. It didn't matter. Those that are going to vote for you don't pay any attention, and the ones that pay attention weren't going to vote for you, anyhow.

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  11. The GOP might as well forfeight if they decide to run Palin. Like T, I thought she was a moron having watched her in interviews. However, I've been reading her postings of late and have to admit she has a brain (assuming she also doesn't have a ghost writer.)

    Her biggest problem in the last campaign was her lack of foreign policy experience (or knowledge for that matter). Obviously, since the One got elected this is not a mandatory requirement. However, McCain didn't do her any favors dumping her into the fray on short notice.

    Her biggest problem is that over half the country considers her a joke. Saturday Night Live ruined her national political career (at least in the short run). It doesn't take much. The same thing happened to Dan Quail who was supposedly pretty smart. And look what a little over exuberance did to Howard Dean.

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  12. MLD, no picture? I was starting an album.

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  13. I keep forgetting, I'm in witness protection.

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  14. I kinda had to laugh reading that first Eikenberry, then Holbrooke, desperately tried to pick him up.

    Dudes: That just looks bad.

    Reeaally bad.




    At some point the Cult Of Welcome Criticism/My Door Is Always Open/Need A Job? (Yeah. I'm talkin' to you, Holbrooke) has to give way to the grim, take-it-or-leave-it finality of We Know What The Fuck We're Doing - Or At Least We're Doing It Anyway/Handshake Of Sincerity And So Long.

    That's what you're paid for.

    And if you can't do that, don't expect a fucking parade to follow.

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  15. MLD: I keep forgetting, I'm in witness protection.

    Jehovah's Witnesses are welcome here, there is nothing to fear.

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  16. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  17. Russia Balks at Obama's Zero Nuke Talks

    Obama proceeds to take USA to zero anyway as a goodwill guesture

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  18. You can't tell me that no one has commented here since 2:25pm. There has got to be a glitch in my computer...somewhere.

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  19. UN signals delay in climate change treaty

    But Gordon Brown said that we only had 55 days to save the whirled...

    Nothing much is happening in Congress other than health care reform aka insurance company reform and the bailout/takeover. The Executive may be waiting for Congress to wrap it up before he announces his decision on Afghanistan. But more taxes on energy right now would be political suicide for the 2010 elections. So Ban Ki Moon must spin, spin, spin.

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  20. we are slammed...

    shoveling out product fast and furious..

    my eyes are crossed...

    my limbs are exhausted and i still have at least 2 more hours tonight..

    left last night at 930pm....

    not bad with a mild case of the flu...

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  21. Was out at the Casino the other night, ran into ol' Bill, who hangs out there a lot, now his wife is gone. He had been up Highway 12 towards the Montana border, ran into a big rig trucker who had run over two wolves that crossed in front of him, am unusual event to be sure, chasing something. A bloody mess.

    Our Beloved Idaho Fish and Game was on the scene!

    In the process of packing the carcai to Boise for---

    an autopsy!

    to determine the cause of death

    ah, shit

    here's an honest trucker

    here's two wolf bodies, no bullet holes

    here's blood on the highway

    here's blood on the tires

    here's a simple report form

    but no, these wolves are going to Boise, for an autopsy

    he was laughing his head off and I was glad to see it, he's been down in the dumps lately

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  22. They autopsy dead animals that were hit by trucks? Do they do this often?

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  23. What will they do when they determine the cause of death?

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  24. Calling the pilot's actions a "total dereliction and disregard" for his duty, the Federal Aviation Administration on Tuesday revoked the license of Timothy Cheney and his co-pilot, who overshot their destination by 150 miles.

    That ought to wake up the other 'uns.

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  25. "The Executive may be waiting for Congress to wrap it up before he announces his decision on Afghanistan."

    (Clears throat.)

    We should know by the first of December, at the latest, who we're going to be dictating to and, by January, whether we can cut deals with them.

    Until then, the administration's going to suck it up (not in the intimately painful fashion of those on the ground of course; I'm sure you get my meaning). There's not a whole lot for it.

    Come January, it's fish or cut bait.

    Prediction: Stan Lite.

    Runner-up: Brute force completely detached from and working directly against the Afghan government. Messy and painful in its own way.

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  26. The Rufus option - get out with our skins and let it devolve into what it may - is a distant third. (Though it would be a helluva lot easier than leaving Iraq because we haven't sunk everything into it.)

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  27. If we leave Afghanistan, can we expect the domino theory to play out? Will the Taliban be content with Afghan or will they and their ilk wish to take over Pakistan? Will the Indians get more and more concerned? Will the neighboring Ayatollas wish to counter the Sauds?

    Or will the whole backwater disappear into the background?

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  28. The Stupid Party Bigwigs are going to get their asses creamed in NY-23, Rufus.
    Have faith!
    Why ANYONE still follows Newt Dingwitch, or whoever, is beyond me.
    ...appears with Pelosi on Global Warming, and with Hillary on Healthcare.
    A smooth-talking College Professor Rockefeller Republican.
    Sure Loser.
    Doug Hoffman's gonna win.

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  29. All good questions and I don't wanna wing it. So any intelligent response will have to wait.

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  30. 31. RWE:


    First, I tend to agree with Toad in his #17 comment. As the old saying goes, a Smith and Wesson beats four aces.

    The 8th Air Force now focuses on cyber-warfare. Sitting outside the 8th’s museum near Savannah, GA is a B-47. If the 8th had B-47’s cocked and ready to launch against hackers, scam artists, criminal organizations and foreign governments performing cyber-attacks on us, I think such criminal activity would prove to be far less popular.

    In the attack on Georgia the Russians enlisted the aid of criminal organizations experienced in cyber attacks for robbery purposes as well as individual hackers. There should be both an individual and national price for engaging in such activity.

    Back in the Cold War days of the 70’s and 80’s the USAF created something called the Ground Wave Emergency Network, or GWEN. Scattered around various rural but strategic locations were medium wave transmitter sites that could be used as part of an Internet system to relay information to military bases in the event that normal communications were knocked out. It was a simple and very robust system, but it produced a reaction from some circles as if we were putting ICBM’s in every 7/11 store.

    Something similar to GWEN could serve as a backup Internet for the civilian world.

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  31. Whit,
    Rufus likes to pretend none of this means anything:
    ---
    The Taliban-Al Qaeda merger.

    Nearly every major jihadist plot against Western targets in the last two decades somehow leads back to Afghanistan or Pakistan.

    --- The first World Trade Center bombing in 1993 was masterminded by Ramzi Yousef, who had trained in an Al Qaeda camp on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

    --- Ahmed Ressam, who plotted to blow up LAX airport in 1999, was trained in Al Qaeda's Khaldan camp in Afghanistan.

    --- Key operatives in the suicide attacks on two U.S. embassies in Africa in 1998 and the USS Cole in 2000 trained in Afghanistan;

    --- so did all 19 September 11 hijackers.

    --- The leader of the 2002 Bali attack that killed more than 200 people, mostly Western tourists, was a veteran of the Afghan camps.

    --- The ringleader of the 2005 London subway bombing was trained by Al Qaeda in Pakistan.

    --- The British plotters who planned to blow up passenger planes leaving Heathrow in the summer of 2006 were taking direction from Pakistan; a July 25, 2006, e-mail from their Al Qaeda handler in that country, Rashid Rauf, urged them to "get a move on." If that attack had succeeded, as many as 1,500 would have died.

    --- The three men who, in 2007, were planning to attack Ramstein Air Base, a U.S. facility in Germany, had trained in Pakistan's tribal regions.

    And yet, as President Obama weighs whether to send more troops to Afghanistan, the connection between the region and Al Qaeda has suddenly become a matter of hot dispute in Washington.
    We are told that September 11 was as much a product of plotting in Hamburg as in Afghanistan; that Al Qaeda and the Taliban are quite distinct groups, and that we can therefore defeat the former while tolerating the latter; that flushing jihadists out of one failing state will merely cause them to pop up in another anarchic corner of the globe; that, in the age of the Internet, denying terrorists a physical safe haven isn't all it's cracked up to be.

    These arguments point toward one conclusion: The effort to secure Afghanistan is not a matter of vital U.S. interest.
    But those who make this case could not be more mistaken.
    ---
    I like to think we're in a better position than a year ago because the Pakis are finally seriously taking it to the MoFos on their side of the border.
    That's gotta be good for us.

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  32. Rufus also leaves out that in the 70's, Afghanistan was a half-assed civilized country.
    ...been through a lot of shit since then, courtesy of us and the Ruskies.

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  33. Bill Clinton, Condi, and W Bush pretended Afghanistan didn't matter, and that brought us 9-11.

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  34. That's gotta be good for us.

    Tue Oct 27, 10:28:00 PM EDT

    It IS good for us. Because we WERE able to cut deals when the new government came in - after having worked somewhat directly against the old one.

    It's not always possible. The opportunities one looks for sometimes do not present themselves. Not every asshole on earth is willing to do business. Were it the case.

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  35. Reagan approved sabotage to wreck Soviet economy

    "The result was the most monumental non-nuclear explosion and fire ever seen from space." US satellites picked up the explosion.

    "While there were no physical casualties from the pipeline explosion, there was significant damage to the Soviet economy."

    Reed said he obtained CIA approval to publish details about the operation. The CIA learned of the full extent of the KGB's pursuit of Western technology in an intelligence operation known as the Farewell Dossier. Portions of the operation were disclosed in a 1996 paper by Gus Weiss, a technology and intelligence expert who was instrumental in devising the plan to send the flawed materials.

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  36. Doug: Bill Clinton, Condi, and W Bush pretended Afghanistan didn't matter, and that brought us 9-11.

    Shit, there's more training camps in Pakistan, what are we doing about those? We hit one every few weeks. Lots of news, "day care centers" hit, etc, but there's 157 of them.

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  37. Horseshit.

    Pakistan isn't fighting back because we "cut deals" with them. They're fighting back because they're Scared to Death. It finally occurred to the worthless assholes that it's them, or the Taliban. And, there won't be any survivors.

    They were in "Civil War" when the Russians got there, Doug.

    We knew where the training camps were. We just didn't take them out. We'll know where they are next year, too. Whether we're there, or not. And, we'll be able to "take them out," whethere we're "there" or not.

    Hope you're right about Hoffman, Doug.

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  38. I'm headed over there next year. Strategy better change.

    http://www.hackwilson.blogspot.com

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  39. "Pakistan isn't fighting back because we "cut deals" with them. They're fighting back because they're Scared to Death. It finally occurred to the worthless assholes that it's them, or the Taliban. And, there won't be any survivors."
    ---
    That's what I thot.
    ...but who knows what Trish knows?

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  40. Trish keeps some things secret from herself.

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  41. They autopsy dead animals that were hit by trucks? Do they do this often?

    MLD, they're idiots, but I love 'em. Have gotten a lifetime of enjoyment, like watching the Keystone Cops.

    Never been done before, as far as I know. Usually you autopsy some animal with a disease or something. These fellows were hit by a truck, most folks could figure what killed them.

    What will they do when they determine the cause of death?

    I'd bury the animals, myself, or burn them.

    IF&G might hold a wake, then have a funeral.

    They will also enter the 'official cause of death' in the wolf records. They do keep that with these reintroduced wolves.

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  42. "We knew where the training camps were. We just didn't take them out. We'll know where they are next year, too. Whether we're there, or not. And, we'll be able to "take them out," whethere we're "there" or not."
    ---
    That assumes DC is still capable of applying appropriate levels of force.
    Not on the horizon, at present.

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  43. "They're fighting back because they're Scared to Death. It finally occurred to the worthless assholes that it's them, or the Taliban. And, there won't be any survivors."

    The Taliban and their friends don't have the ability to take Islamabad, much less the whole of Pakistan. The Pakistanis know that. They aren't scared to death; they had to be wheedled, incentivized, and cajoled into sticking their arm down the garbage disposal for what they understood - still understand - as OUR purposes.

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  44. Doug Hoffman's gonna win.

    ahem, I point out Hoffman's star rose when Palin backed him.

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  45. Guess that answers one of whit's questions.

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  46. MlD, IF&G, before the wolves were introduced, had a study that predicted that the wolves would go after the deer, first. It doesn't take much brains to figure that a wolf is really just another lazy bastard, the name of the game is protein, and save your energy, so of course the wolves went after the elk first, an elk giving about 4 times as much boom for the wolf buck as a deer.

    They have decimated the elk herds, hence the special hunts this year.

    Those on the cutting edge of this issue have had a saying, shoot, shovel, and shutup.

    It's an independent way of helping the elk. Never done it myself, but kinda admire those that have.

    Situational ethics, I quess. If the government won't act, act yourself.

    Finally, the Obama ad. took the wolves off the Endangered Species List, only thing I give him credit for, opening up the possibility of this year's hunt.

    Say, would you like go wolf hunting with me sometime?

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  47. They came within, what, 70 miles of Islamabad? Guarantee you, the fundies are more popular there than the government. As in most places.

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  48. My the Lord keep you safe, Hack.

    I see from your poll that Sarah Palin, for whom I just cast my vote, is winning hands down.

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  49. "They came within, what, 70 miles of Islamabad?"

    Closer. But it's long-established True Believer territory.

    So is 70 miles from DC.

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  50. And I'm not making light of OUR purposes. They're legitimate and the extent to which we can get the Pakistanis to see a little overlap: All the better.

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  51. They hate taking out their Special Force Reserves they save up for the Injuns.

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  52. Dittos to the sentiments of Anon @
    Tue Oct 27, 11:52:00 PM EDT
    ...and for Trish's hubby, wherever he is.

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  53. "Trish's hubby"

    In a time and galaxy now seemingly light years away known as "Qalat."

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  54. Ditto on the ditto for Trish's husband.

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  55. You'd like him very much. Both of you. For the same reason most everyone does.

    You can put whatever rank on his shoulder. He'll always be An Ordinary Guy. In the Most Extraordinary Way.

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  56. Trish,
    Did you see Sara's description of her Husband?
    ...wondered if some of his sterling qualities remind you of your man.

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  57. I think he's a little more (and I do mean a little) intellectual than that. Were he not, he could not have survived our marriage. Nor could I.

    It's a hard thing to put one's finger on: An ordinary guy.

    And at the end of the day I'm an ordinary gal.

    When he was leaving Iraq he noted, self-deprecatingly, "Well, at least I wasn't an asshole."

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  58. Sometimes, that's all it takes.

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  59. How in the world did you remember that post, Doug? I recall it now you brought it up, thought it was real good.

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  60. Mystical Powers, Bob.

    ...actually, I remembered that I had recommended it to Starling, and looked in up in my "Sent Mail" at gmail.

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  61. Doug wrote:

    "I like to think we're in a better position than a year ago because the Pakis are finally seriously taking it to the MoFos on their side of the border.
    That's gotta be good for us."

    I think it is good that the Pakistanis are stepping up the fight but the downside to it from my perspective is that it provides the carrot for our own escalation - 'gee we can't let the pakis do it themselves now, we can't leave them in the lurch, send more troops!'

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  62. Bob, my father was a hunter. He passed away when, I was 28, and all the years leading up to his death, he's only brought home one killing, a rabbit. He was damn proud of that thing, too. He skinned it and left it alone for a second and my dog ate it. I thought at that moment we were going to have dog stew instead of rabbit stew.

    At that moment, I knew, I didn't want to be a hunter. I was just a young kid and every year after that, I greeted him, on his homecoming, hoping there wasn't anything tagging along.

    I still sat next to him, in his gun room, packing and pressing the ammunition for his next trip. I even went to the gun range a few times to watch and learn how to shoot a rifle. But, today they scare me a little.

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