“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Who is Rufus Phillips and why does it matter?

Why Rufus Phillips Matters

New Yorker

Hat tip: Trish

Rufus Phillips, raised in rural Virginia and educated at Yale, was a young C.I.A. officer in Saigon in the nineteen-fifties, a protege of the legendary Colonel Edward Lansdale. Over the next decade, Phillips became that rare thing in American foreign policy—an expert in the politics of another country. (Leslie Gelb, the former Times columnist and president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations, once told me, “American foreign-policy experts don’t know anything about countries. That is a fundamental and tragic problem in our policymaking process.”) Phillips got to know South Vietnamese politicians and military officers better than any other American. He ran the U.S. civilian counterinsurgency program in the early sixties and traveled all over rural South Vietnam (he was Richard Holbrooke’s first boss). When the Saigon government started to collapse, in 1963, Phillips returned to Washington and, though he was far down the bureaucratic pecking order, was asked to brief President Kennedy. Phillips was one of the few officials in a position to know how badly the war was going, and he and a blithely optimistic Marine general argued it out in front of Kennedy, in a scene that made Phillips’s reputation as a fearless straight-talker (David Halberstam recorded it in “The Best and the Brightest”).

After 1963, Phillips ended his official work in Vietnam. But he was one of those young men who never got over it, never again found anything else as interesting and important. A couple of decades ago, Phillips started to write a memoir, but he put it aside when publishers told him that no one wanted to read another Vietnam book. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan caused him to take it up again, and last year, at the age of seventy-nine, Phillips published “Why Vietnam Matters.”

It is, among other things, a wonderful read, full of detail and drama. It tells you what it felt like to live and work in Saigon before the Americans arrived by the hundreds of thousands—the Saigon of the French hangover and the American operatives who met their Vietnamese contacts at colonial hotels—where Ngo Dinh Diem seemed for awhile like the best hope of stopping Communism, and Americans had a sunny confidence in their own democratic faith. Phillips might have been the prototype for Graham Greene’s “quiet American,” except that through the lens of Greene’s Catholic-and-Communist loathing for liberalism, Phillips would have been caricatured, his idealism turned to dangerous arrogance, his kindness to naïvete.

Last week, I wrote about two Vietnam books making the rounds of the Obama Administration, one on White House decision-making early in the war, the other on military counterinsurgency near its end. I’d suggest “Why Vietnam Matters” as a third. To my mind, it’s the most useful of the three—the only book that recounts in detail, from the inside, the failure of America’s effort to reform the government of South Vietnam. Today’s Times makes its relevance pretty clear.

Phillips is tall, though not as tall as he used to be, with an open, blue-eyed face, and when I met him over the summer in his condominium in Arlington, Virginia (the side table in his living room came from a Saigon market circa 1955), it wasn’t hard to identify him as the young man in the black-and-white pictures taken half a century ago, towering over Vietnamese counterparts amid banana trees and thatch roofs. About to turn eighty, Phillips was contemplating a trip halfway around the world to Kabul. He was worried about the war in Afghanistan and thought that the presidential election, set for August 20th, would be a critical event. An independent Afghan group, the Free and Fair Election Foundation of Afghanistan, had invited him to come over as an unpaid adviser. Having seen America try and fail to win a war without a political strategy once before, he thought he had something to contribute in Afghanistan. He asked me for advice on what to wear, what kind of cell phone to bring, how to get into the city from the airport. I asked him why he was going to put himself through it, and he replied that he believed in putting your money where your mouth is. “I’ve still got the fire,” he said as he walked me to the elevator.

A few weeks later, at the end of July, I saw Phillips again, in Kabul. He had just arrived, jetlagged and exhausted; without the right clothes for an embassy dinner, he was wearing a tan safari jacket. Holbrooke introduced him to the guests and alluded to their long-ago connection in “a war that was completely different from and remarkably similar to this one.” Phillips stayed on in Kabul through the election. He worked with an inspiring group of Afghans, including many women, who were risking their lives for a fair vote. And he saw the beginnings of the overwhelming tide of fraud, in evidence gathered by the group’s twenty-four hundred workers from around the country. Phillips spent his eightieth birthday in Kabul and then came home to celebrate it with his wife, distressed that the U.S. had relied so heavily on the U.N. to keep the elections reasonably honest, and that both had clearly failed. International officials seemed prepared to accept that, one way or another, Karzai would remain president, regardless of legitimacy. All the current Washington talk of military strategy and troop numbers missed the main point: wars like this are ultimately won or lost through politics, and there are no short cuts. It was all too familiar.

This past weekend, Phillips wrote me:

I’m afraid the President, who seems like a supremely rational being, is trying to find the most rational policy option on Afghanistan, without thinking about whether it is feasible given political conditions on the ground, as well as who is going to implement it and how. What seems the most rational option here could be likely unworkable over there.

This is part of what happened to President Johnson during Vietnam. He relied exclusively on policy ‘experts’ who understood military and geopolitical strategy in the light of World War II and Korea, but who had no direct experience combating a ‘people’s war,’ while underestimating the North Vietnamese and misunderstanding the importance of the South Vietnamese, who were treated as bystanders. His advisers constructed strategies whose feasibility never got tested by those who knew Vietnam first hand. Pure reliance on the chain-of-command was disastrous in Vietnam because much of the most relevant information, the nuances which counted, could not be fully described in writing and were strained out as information flowed to the top. At a minimum, [General Stanley] McChrystal and [Ambassador Karl] Eikenberry, who have that first-hand knowledge, should be sitting in these strategy sessions.

I don’t see evidence of any real political thinking about how to deal with Karzai and the local political scene, no matter what option is selected. As we swing between counterproductive table pounding and passive non-interference, we must muster the will to interfere quietly but firmly when we are on solid moral ground—standing up for the Afghan people and for principles of honest governance.

My Afghan friends tell me as soon as he is confirmed, Karzai is going to launch a big initiative on talks with the Taliban, which are not likely to go anywhere if he leads them. Are we thinking that if we cede territory to the Taliban because they promise not to let Al Qaeda back, we will be able to hold an imaginary line, including Kabul, with the Afghan and international forces we will have? What will that tell the Afghan people, except to signal ultimate abandonment? And how will that affect their support for the Taliban to avoid being killed or severely punished?

I just have an uneasy feeling that this is too similar to the policy discussions Johnson went through, except those were mainly out of public view and these are not. The whole notion that we can speed up the training of the Afghan armed forces and this will do the job is unrealistic—another numbers game. I guess not being in the meetings puncturing balloons is what is really frustrating me. That and the fact that nobody seems to factor in our moral obligation to the Afghan people. We abandoned them twice. Will this be the third time? What does that say about us? It seems more convenient to equate Karzai with the Afghan people. Maybe it will all come out for the best—but the process, and what I see from the outside being discussed so far, doesn’t pass my gut check.

The outcome of the Afghan struggle is ultimately going to be determined not by our unilateral actions or geopolitical moves, but by whom the Afghan people wind up supporting, even reluctantly. Vietnam—Lesson One


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Well, Mr Phillips thinks that the current version of the Marine General he argued with in the Oval Office with should be briefing the President and be involved with the strategy sessions.

    Wonder who he sees as playing his part, in the current situation?
    Who is speaking the truth of Afpakistan to the institutional powers in DC?

    Who is the young "maverick", not bound by convention or blinded by the seniority and supposed expertise of the military Generals. Mr Phillips does not tell US who fits that role, today.

    Part of "why" Mr Phillips matters is to remind US that even the "Best and the Brightest" get rolled into DC conformity, after an entire career amongst the Federal Socialists.

  3. Becoming, what was the word that Rush used, ahh, yes ...


  4. Rufus is an old fool. It was a "war" that we were Not going to win. Like Afghanistan.

  5. How are Americans going to continue to support an operation to protect the poppy fields, while, at the same time, we're putting kids in jail for using the product.

  6. But what if the current admin want to USE the afpak theatre as a "teaching moment"?

    And that "teaching moment" is another downward click of American power and reach?

    I think this admin has ZERO thoughts to "winning" anything in afpak... America would not LEARN anything but actually succeeding.

  7. And what would "success" entail, in Afpakistan?

    What would it look and feel like?

  8. How will we know when it was achieved?

    What makes the measurable matrix?

  9. A "Monster" Poppy crop every year?

  10. I can't imagine a tougher decision than the one Obama has to make.

  11. rufus said...
    I can't imagine a tougher decision than the one Obama has to make.

    Obama is the ONE that wanted the job and wanted it so bad as to win at all costs...

    So he's the 1st non-American president and HE's going to win lose or draw accordingly..

  12. Rufus, we are not there only to protect Afghan poppy fields, that is right wing propaganda. We are also there to protect Chinese mining interests! Read it right here on the EB.

  13. It's true. I worry about "Chinese" mining interests, constantly.

  14. And what would "success" entail, in Afpakistan?

    What would it look and feel like?


    From the point of view of some little girl out in the provinces, it might look like a safe school.

    What would failure look like?

    Bearded men driving around in pickups with machine guns.

    Schools closed, people hung, etc.

    That safe school, well, it's a dream.

    Success from ou point of view seems to me it would mean preventing the place from being a launching pad for some other attacks against us and the west.

    How you can totally prevent this is a ...hard question.

    I'm trying to find some penetrating remark to make about this dilemma, and failing.

  15. Economic news in the paper this morning--

    "Higher Jobless Rates Could Be New Normal"

    'Many jobs lost in recession won't come back, possibly resulting in lower standard of living'

    The government sector could be growing, however.

    Well, what's left of the taxpaying base is going to be squeezed, squeezed.

  16. Let's see...

    Our counterinsurgency strategy has at its core that we create a secure environment to enable the legitimate government to provide services to its people.

    All indications are that the government is now not legitimate, nor capable of doing much.

    So we put our guys in the position of defending the indefensible.

    Smells like a fucking nightmare.

  17. Didn't the Russkies fall back to Kabul in their strategy?

    That bargaining with the Talibs is working out for the Pakis pretty well too.

  18. Before trying to define victory, an assessment of the situation would be helpful. Among other things, we might ask 1) who is hiding in the mountains, 2) who must wait until nightfall to come out of hiding, 3) who must desperately send suicide murders to attack defenseless soft targets...The list goes on.

    For the time being, we must relentlessly erode TLB/aQ strength. We need not be dramatic (although it wouldn't hurt); instead, like Grant, we wear them down day-in, day-out. And like the VC of that other war, we give them no rest and no safe havens - we hit them routinely and at will, wearing the nerves.

  19. It is. F,ing nitemare. You know those development funds are being ripped off.

    Our Rufus proposed one time, if I recall correctly, that we just use the place for target practice, blasting anything that pops up that might be thought any kind of remote threat to us here.

    Probably not a bad idea, if I recall it right.

    And blast it from the air, if possible.

    I recall those B-52 strikes had a dramatic impact in north Afghanistan at the beginning.

  20. You look like a guy that might go for a B-52 strike, on a regular basis, D-Day


  21. It is a noble sentiment to want to help 'the governed feel they consent to their governors' as Phillips spoke with respect to Vietnam (as opposed to our more lofty goal of apply a Western template of democracy on their society) but we should seriously question our methods of trying to achieve these goals. As I've noted before the military is a poor tool to effect these goals if for no other reason then the use of the tool creates opposition to it. Whatever happened to good old fashioned conservative realpolitik?

  22. Didn't the Russkies fall back to Kabul in their strategy?

    They did, and it was a losing strategy.

    It might be better to carpet bomb Kabul than to fall back to it.

    We are in a difficult position.

  23. Whatever happened to good old fashioned conservative realpolitik?

    That's what we are trying to figure out, Ash.

    Some of the good old fashioned realpolitik got traded away for zero, by zero, with the Poland missile deal.

    We are in a tough position, Ash, they attacked us for some stupid reason, and they got the mountains to hide in.

    We should have used nukes at Tora Bora, that's looking kinda clear in retrospect.

    We might not be where we are today if we had.

  24. Bobal: Success from ou point of view seems to me it would mean preventing the place from being a launching pad for some other attacks against us and the west.

    It's called a no-fly list. You simply expand the list to cover everyone from every Muzzie country and done.

  25. As I've noted before the military is a poor tool to effect these goals if for no other reason then the use of the tool creates opposition to it.

    You can note that, but what other tool are you going to use?

    Community Development Funds?

    While use of a military tool might create opposition to it, done with real intent, it eliminates the opposition to it.

  26. We've also conflated the "they" in the "They attacked us" meme.

  27. I remember when Afghanistan had its first "election." The reporter asked some old power broker what would happen if the wrong guy won in the local election.

    "Then, we'll kill him," the old man answered.

    "It's Afghanistan," Dude.

    240,000 sq miles of "we ain't got a fucking clue."

  28. I'm waiting for your note on the meaning of 'natural born citizen' Ash.

    Historical and contemporary, with notes, addendums and etc. An historical analysis, up to the current day, with court rulings, etc.

  29. Conflate is good word, conflate Tojo with Honolulu, if you wish.

    The Japanese people probably---how in hell do you judge these things--had a more real responsibility for Pearl than the average Afghan folk for 9/11, but, it remains, that is where the attack came from, it is the responsibility of the Commander-in Chief and the military to protect the country, so we can live by our values here.

    You were the guy that wanted to close down the Berkeley Marine recruiting office, if I recall, Ash.

  30. Bobal, I have no desire to try to rid you of your lunatic conspiracy theories. They've got a definition for natural born citizen and Obama was deemed one sufficient to allow him to run for POTUS.

  31. you have inaccurate recollection bobal.

  32. conflate [kənˈfleɪt]
    (tr) to combine or blend (two things, esp two versions of a text) so as to form a whole
    [from Latin conflāre to blow together, from flāre to blow]
    conflation n

    My daughter is taking a class this fall on the history of the English language.

    It is a perfectly worthless course from an economic perspective, she will never raise a dime from it, and I'm paying for it, these professors got to live, but she is really enjoying it.

    The English language is so filled with in-fusions from other sources, it is really amazing, when you start to look into it.

    She gave me some examples the other day, amazing.

    There was a guy long ago, Sir Thomas Browne, a doctor at the time, trying to help people with very primitive tools, and practically no knowledge.

    He was great with language though, knowing about seven or eight lingos, and is fun to read, though some of it is hard, we are not used to this kind of expression.

    I mention this to try to im-press MLD, keep my bona vides up.

  33. An expected out Ash.

    Translated, it means you don't know what the fuck you are talking about.

    There is a real issue here, and you can't come to grips with it.

    Just mumble.

  34. They've got a definition?

    Who is this 'they' kemosabe?

    That's 'got' a definition?

    Where did they get it, and why?

    Ain't this some kind of conflation?

  35. They've got a definition for natural born citizen and Obama was deemed one sufficient to allow him to run for POTUS.

    Honestly, what an absolutey stupid statement, fit for a professor's son.

    Obama was deemed one

    Who the fuck by?


    It is not a matter of 'sufficient', as a wife might say of her husband, he is 'sufficient' as a bread winner.

    It's a matter of law.

    That's what we are trying to talk about.

  36. They've got a definition.

    Holy Shit!

  37. bobal, yes it is a matter of law and they've got 'definitions', 'laws' governing who is eligible to run to be President of the United States. The election commission, I believe, is the body that decides eligibility and he was 'deemed' eligible. He is now POTUS, I hope you enjoy howling at the moon hoping to unseat him in this manner - it isn't going to work.

  38. The definition is something that lies in the recorded writings of the folks that used the term, in their language, and the way the thought and spoke at the time.

    It has also been spoken about in some court cases.

    If we want to change the Constitution, and all affirm that, say, Osama bin Laden's son born from some American muzzie twit, one of thirty wives, can be President, we can do so.

    But I don't see that we have.

    It is an important issue, at least to some of us.

    Maybe the most important of our time, I think.

  39. He is now POTUS, I hope you enjoy howling at the moon hoping to unseat him in this manner - it isn't going to work.

    Yes he currently sits in the seat of power...

    IF he has violated the rules of our nation, such as actually lying about where and how he was born he will be thrown out..

    If he is exposed after he leaves office? he will be disgraced forever and trust me, he will have set back civil rights PERSONALLY by 50 years...

  40. yes, it would be pretty darn funny if, in the future, they look back upon that last election and determined that both candidates weren't actually natural born citizens. OHMIGOD, nobody ran for President - oh wait, that means, RALPH NADAR should be in the hot seat - he actually was the third candidate wasn't he? Was Ron Paul actually a candidate as well? I fergit. Maybe we should have an Afghani style run-off between those two!

  41. Here's the actual article, kids.

    Wead it vewy carefuwy.

  42. WiO, love ya, but this is where I must post a disagreement.

    The matter of where he was born may in time be found out.

    This might get him.

    But even if he passes this test, the deeper question is, what is the definition of a 'natural born citizen'?

    The tradition has been, you got to have two American citizens to be NBC.

    He fails on this as he has admitted.

    Ash is arguing that's not a correct understanding of NBC.

    Personally, I think there is a cover up going on in Hawii.

    But, maybe not.

    The deeper issue remains.

    If I were running for President, WiO, and if you asked me to show you everything in my background, I'd do it. I know you would do the same, vice versa.

    We've got two issues here, where, and the definition of NBC.

    He fails on the second, in my mind, and my be covering on the first.

    I've asked Ash to show exactly where the traditional understanding of NBC has been changed, and by what proper authority.

    I've got practically no faith in the government anymore, this didn't start with Obama.

    Except in my local government.

    I have faith they will do the most they can to raise the taxes and fees, everytime I turn around.

  43. it would be pretty darn funny if

    But it isn't 'pretty darn funny'.

    Some people take these things seriously.

  44. Natural Born CitizenMoving Forward…

    Posted in Uncategorized on October 19, 2009 by naturalborncitizen

    I am speaking with various parties who I may provide legal counsel to in the near future. This will require a period of silence from me. The time for legal talk is now over. The time for legal action has begun. Talk is cheap. I’m tired of it. Either litigation will commence or you won’t hear from me again via this blog.

    This blog contains all the tools necessary for people to gain access to information from Hawaii. The UIPA is a very good law providing standing and expedited calendar service to “any person”. Study that law and use it. Request the media and legislature use it as well. They won’t. You know that. But put it in their face anyway.

    I will report back here when I have something of significance to say regarding litigation.

    For now, I will leave you with one salient point made by the DOJ in the hearing before Judge Carter:

    “It’s the way the founding fathers intended.”

    Page 15 of the transcript.

    Since the DOJ is stipulating that the intention of the founding fathers is the proper guideline for this issue, then we ought to hold them to that position all the way down the line. The definition of “natural born citizen” as understood by the founding fathers is certainly the only definition which is legal under Article 2 Section 1 Clause 5. Barney Frank can’t change that and neither can law professors like Tribe and Dershowitz, etc.

    As the DOJ has correctly indicated, the only definition of natural born citizen that matters is the one held by the founding fathers.

    And that’s why everyone needs to read pages 43-44 of the transcript where Judge Carter indicates that even if Obama were born in Kenya, the Judge would not be comfortable in holding that Obama was not eligible to be POTUS.

    Somebody needs to tell this Judge that the law in the US at the time of Obama’s birth stated quite clearly that Obama would not have qualified for US citizenship in 1961 if born in Kenya to Stanley Ann Dunham and Barack Hussein Obama Sr. That’s very clear according federal law in 1961. If he wasn’t a citizen, how could he be a “natural born citizen”?

    So, if you think Judge Carter is going to decide the British birth issue in favor of holding Obama ineligible if born in Hawaii, then you are really kidding yourselves. This case has no chance at all.

    I don’t believe Obama was born in Kenya. I believe he was born in Hawaii. But I also believe that the state of Hawaii has been playing fast and loose with their own public disclosure laws and that they should not be trusted, especially since they haven’t been put under oath.

    I also don’t believe it would have mattered to the founding fathers if Obama was born in Hawaii since he was a British citizen at birth, and the founding fathers had just fought a bloody war to rid themselves of British influence. To assume they would have allowed a British citizen at birth to become Commander In Chief of the US armed forces is to disgrace the blood of the patriots who earned this nation’s freedoms and liberties by their very lives.

    For all intents and purposes, the “natural born citizen” safeguard given to this nation by the founding fathers is dead. And the entire Constitution is also dying by a cancer attacking all organs. It will only survive a certain death by miracle. Pray for such a miracle. It is truly your only hope.

    Leo C. Donofrio

    Comments are now closed.

  45. ...we hit them routinely and at will, wearing the nerves.

    Tue Oct 20, 10:38:00 AM EDT

    I'nt gonna work that way, allen.

    As late as '03/'04 you could call in the B52 to lay down a little love for you and seven other guys - watching it bank sharply right. on. the border.

    Those were the QUIET days. The GOOD days. The days that led our NATO counterparts to believe they'd gotten a pretty good deal.

    Needless to say, those days are gone.

  46. What I can't stand about Ash is his goddamned flippant attitude--

    flippant Also found in: Legal, Wikipedia 0.02 sec.
    Ads by GoogleFree Dictionary
    Define Any Word With The Click Of A Button. Free, Fast, and Simple.
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    flip·pant (flpnt)
    1. Marked by disrespectful levity or casualness; pert.
    2. Archaic Talkative; voluble.


    [Probably from flip.]


    flippan·cy n.
    flippant·ly adv.

    The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2009. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

    flippant [ˈflɪpənt]
    1. marked by inappropriate levity; frivolous or offhand
    2. impertinent; saucy
    3. Obsolete talkative or nimble
    [perhaps from flip]
    flippancy n
    flippantly adv
    Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged 6th Edition 2003. © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003

    ThesaurusLegend: Synonyms Related Words Antonyms
    Adj. 1. flippant - showing inappropriate levity

  47. Someday, in this life or the next, this attitude is going to come back and bite him in the ass, real real hard.

  48. Those were the days, already swiftly waning, that you could impress the hell out of friends and enemies alike with any shit falling from the sky.

    They're not impressed anymore.

  49. with any shit falling from the sky

    Which reminds one of the story of Sodom and Gemorrah, which wasn't about sex, but a due respect for one's fellow people.

    and the smell of it rose like smoke from a kiln

    or something like that, the memory is bad

  50. Those were the days you could hand your "friend" a red M&M and tell him it's a GPS tracker and send him on his way.

  51. That's a lovely story about Sodom and Gemorrah.

    Don't look back.

    Sodom and Gomorrah Destroyed

  52. What I'm getting at is that there was a window of perceived omnipotence. Not really (insert heavy sigh) taken advantage of the way it could have been. And that window is now closed. There's no opening it back up. Gonna have to find another.

  53. Raining down hellfire from the sky didn't help enamor the locals to US presence much either.

  54. And because none of you layabouts is going to read that eighteen pages, I'll give you what, to me, is the money quote: The bad guys don't stay in their lanes.

    All those years during which AfPak was the SpecialOps big game preserve (as Yon so memorably put it) they didn't. And they're not going to now.

  55. I affirm, the United States has been a real great country in the world.

    Other nations, given our power, would have acted very diffently.

    I think it comes from our Judeo/Christian heritage, and the spirit of the frontier.

    And the Constitution.

    We have had some very, truly wonderful people.

    I feel it slipping away.

    And that window is now closed. There's no opening it back up. Gonna have to find another.

    Spirituality, and another, truer understanding of death.

  56. Handing your friends a sleazy and incompetent government is a good way to end a friendship.

  57. Ash said...
    Raining down hellfire from the sky didn't help enamor the locals to US presence much either.

    For Christ's sake, you shithead, we weren't even there, until we got attacked.

  58. "I feel it slipping away."

    I don't. I just think we've got our work cut out for us. And when, ever, has that not been the case?

  59. Blogger trish said...

    Handing your friends a sleazy and incompetent government is a good way to end a friendship.

    Sure doesn't help though this morning I heard an Afghani quoted as saying "that's the way it has always been in Afghanistan".

  60. They expected better from us, Ash. They expected better.

  61. Before we were attacked from Aghanistan, we had very little presence there.

    What we had was some presence that had to do with 'liberating' the Afghans from a Russian presence.

    Maybe they were better off with the Russian presence.

    Thinking about some little school child in a province, one wonders.

    Maybe even communism, maybe even Marxism, in it's twisted way, is better than Islam.

    This may have been a mistake, getting involved, but it did help to free much of eastern Europe from the Soviet non sense.

    These things are hard to figure out, but to always and forever ctitisize the US military, honestly, as Ash is always doing, I just can't barely stand it.

  62. And I haven't even been in the military.

    Well, I've blogged enough today.

  63. "to always and forever criticize the US military"

    No one criticizes the US military, yer one-armed global paper hanger, quite like those in it. Even I sometimes forget that.

    Glad you stopped in today. Have a lovely afternoon.

  64. "that's the way it has always been in Afghanistan".

    Ah, G-d, Ash, you go over there and figure it all out for all of us.

    What were we, what are we, supposed to do?

    Where is your answer to anything?

    I'm with our Rufus, I'm for using the US Air Force to just bomb them back to the stone age, which is pretty much where many there are now anyway, and just,


    An alternative stragedy is to send Ash with some Community Development Funds.

  65. First off, They were Never "Our Friends."

    Second, we Do have our work cut out, but to what Avail?

    As Rat asked, "What, exactly, will success look like?" My hunch is, "Switzerland is out." Mexico? In Burkhas?

    Woebegone, 24,000 Sq. Miles box of rocks. 25 Million People with an average income of $2.00/day. No water. Uneducated. Don't want to be "Educated." Hateful Religion.

    Landlocked. Major industry (such as it is:) Narcotics.

    Yeah, booby. This is gonna end really well.

  66. You, too, rufus.

    Have a lovely afternoon.

  67. heh, I don't know what this--

    trish said...
    "to always and forever criticize the US military"

    No one criticizes the US military, yer one-armed global paper hanger, quite like those in it. Even I sometimes forget that.

    Glad you stopped in today. Have a lovely afternoon.

    but I wish your a lovely afternoon as well.

    I've got to get some sleep.

    (sometimes Trish is hard to figure out)

    Have you had this problem?

    Like the Nissan, when it didn't fire right, and I finally found it was in the electronics.

  68. Just change the electonics in the last post, at your will.

    (that is proper spelling)

    I'm tired.

    Good afternoon, Trish.

  69. Yeah, booby.

    I hope this doesn't refer to me, Ruf, but rather a 'booby trap'.

    I haven't a clue what to do in Afghanistan.

    I wish I'd never heard of the damned place.

  70. (sometimes Trish is hard to figure out)

    Hey. Talk to her husband. : )

  71. NO, no Bob. I've never called you anything like that.

    I'm always saying "Bubbah." I wanted to change it around a little.

    Remember, when we were younger? It was "Booby, this," and "Booby, that?"

    Like, "You can bet your sweet booby?"

    Jes chattering, Bob.

  72. very useful article. I would love to follow you on twitter. By the way, did you hear that some chinese hacker had hacked twitter yesterday again.