“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."

Monday, April 12, 2010

Afghan Elders are not Happy. Are You?

Our continued presence in Afghanistan is pointless. There is no worthy and likely outcome worth the time, blood and money. That has been obvious for some time.

It is true that we accomplished much more with Viet Nam when we left Viet Nam, but that is not likely with Afghanistan because it is a country dipped in anarchy and pickled in Islamic fervor and old fashion nuttiness.
It is way past time to leave.

We can fight the drug trade where it should be fought and that is on the demand side. U2 flights, drones and on ground intelligence, paid spies, will allow us to prevent the reconstitution of terrorist training camps.

Too bad for Afghanistan. As it should be, it is their problem to resolve.

__HAT Tip: Rufus_________________________

Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, threatens to block Nato offensive

Stephen Grey in Kandahar Times on Line

The president of Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, has cast doubt over Nato’s planned summer offensive against the Taliban in the southern province of Kandahar, as more than 10,000 American troops pour in for the fight.

Karzai threatened to delay or even cancel the operation — one of the biggest of the nine-year war — after being confronted in Kandahar by elders who said it would bring strife, not security, to his home province.

Visiting last week to rally support for the offensive, the president was instead overwhelmed by a barrage of complaints about corruption and misrule. As he was heckled at a shura of 1,500 tribal leaders and elders, he appeared to offer them a veto over military action. “Are you happy or unhappy for the operation to be carried out?” he asked.

The elders shouted back: “We are not happy.”

“Then until the time you say you are happy, the operation will not happen,” Karzai replied.

General Stanley McChrystal, the Nato commander, who was sitting behind him, looked distinctly apprehensive. The remarks have compounded US anger and bewilderment with Karzai, who has already accused the United States of rigging last year’s presidential elections and even threatened to switch sides to join the Taliban.

For President Barack Obama, the battle to drive the Taliban from their heartland is seen as the main test of his “surge” strategy to send 30,000 extra US troops to Afghanistan. The United States calls Kandahar the “centre of gravity” of the war in Afghanistan.

Senior commanders and diplomats emphasise, however, that success would depend on action by Karzai to eliminate corruption and set up a form of local government.

Nato’s plans envisage political manoeuvres, from a purge of provincial leadership to the creation of precinct councils, to tackle the roots of the Taliban rebellion. The aim is to wrest power from so-called warlords — including the president’s own brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai.

With the Afghan president increasingly regarded as “gone rogue”, hopes of such action were fading. One US official said after the shura that Karzai had proved neither a reliable ally nor popular with his own people: “He can rail against the West all he likes — no one wants him to look like a foreign puppet. The trouble is, his erratic speeches are matched by erratic actions. That’s why this tension is undermining the offensive.”

The latest row began when Karzai decried “huge fraud” in the elections, saying it was “done by the foreigners”. After telephoning Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, the next day to clarify his remarks, Karzai escalated the attack. Witnesses said he told MPs at a private meeting: “If I come under foreign pressure, I might join the Taliban.” His spokesman hastily denied it.

In Kandahar he persisted, deflecting complaints against himself with further criticism of outsiders and saying he had now “rescued myself from foreigners’ orders”.

Few elders at the shura seemed impressed. They pressed for a purge of his officials. “If we speak out and if we tell you the truth of what’s happening here, we will not last the night,” said one elder. “We will be assassinated. Everyone is scared.”

A white-bearded frail man stood up, leaning on a walking stick, and said: “The other day people came with guns and told me to shut my shop and go to my house. I phoned the police. They said, ‘It’s none of our business and we don’t care’.”

Sitting just off the stage at the meeting was the president’s brother. Ahmed Wali Karzai is the head of Kandahar provincial council and is alleged by US officials to profit from drug trafficking and organised crime. The president is reported to have refused US requests to remove him from his post.

On the streets of the city this weekend there appeared to be little or no support for a Nato push in the province. “Look what happened in Marjah,” said one local government official in Kandahar, referring to the last US offensive launched in February in central Helmand province.

“The US controls the place by day but the Taliban control it by night. What is the point? If you help the government, you will be murdered.”

At a popular coffee shop in the city centre, Khaled, a medical student from Kabul, said the influence of the Taliban was creeping back into the area.

“A Nato offensive here will not help,” he added.

“We know what they do. They arrive in great numbers and provide security for two weeks and then they go and the insecurity returns.”

General Karl Eikenberry, the US ambassador to Afghanistan, had warned Clinton about Karzai’s character last year. He said that McChrystal’s proposals for a a troop surge should not be supported unless the president changed.

“President Karzai is not an adequate strategic partner,” he wrote in a telegram that was later leaked.


  1. Obama WANTS failure in Afpak

    It is his TEACHING moment he is setting up...

    It's the NEW Vietnam...

    It's lessons are clear, American hubris will not stand.

    America is ONLY 4% of the world, and better learn it cannot place it's will on others...

    America needs to be humbled

    America is not special, never was never will be...

    America causes the terrorists to hate us..

    America must bow it's head to the world and apologize for it's arrogant ways.

    This is what the Obami is seeking..

    Never seeking to actual WIN anything..

    But rather set up America with a new destiny. The destiny of un-specialness

    I called this a while ago...

  2. BTW, I celebrated Holocaust Remembrance Day...

    I purchased a nice 12 gauge Mossberg Shotgun for 235 bucks...

  3. "Indeed, total household debt is now nine times what it was in 1981 — rising twice as fast as disposable income over the same period..."

    Interest Rates Have Nowhere to Go but Up

  4. "Too bad for Afghanistan."

    I'm not sure what's "too bad for Afghanistan" since we aren't going anywhere.

    AFAIK, the surge in Afghanistan is following the same rough model as the one in Iraq: Clear, hold, and build in pivotal areas; sending out the PRTs after the clear. Same basic command intent.

    Karzai is a problem, as Maliki was (recall the Petraeus good cop/bad cop in Baghdad) but a decision on the surge was delayed in part due to serious questions regarding the wisdom and feasibility of its undertaking given the post-election government in Kabul we were going to have to work with. And around. And against. The civil/political side of it was going to prove as or more daunting, more thorny, than the strictly military side of it.

    I do find it interesting that, judging by the sea-change in weekly commentary between the present and just a few, short months ago, the Afghanistan surge has had an enormous at home. Were it judged simply on domestic IO terms, it has indeed been a BFD.

    How much of that is a general reflection of limited progress over there?

    Like it or not, Kandahar here we come.

  5. That is: Recall the Crocker/Petraeus good cop/bad cop in Baghdad.

    That was painful on those occasions when it lept above the fold. This admin, too, seems torn between discretion and dragging its nominal ally behind the woodshed in full public view.

  6. The difference: Bush believed in what he was doing; Obama doesn't. We're halfway to the door.

  7. You always knew that if you could get it to a certain point the Iraqi army could take over. The Afghani army will Never be able to "take over."

    Add to that the world's worst "ally," and the most difficult logistics imaginable, and a never-defined, if even visualized, "goal," and you're left with a clusterfuck of Biblical magnitude.

    We be goin to "slip out the back, Jack." This mother-lover is getting "old" in a hurry.

  8. "Obama doesn't."

    I think Obama believes very much in what we're doing. He has a remarkably different style from the former President, but I don't think he differs on conviction that this is the Right and Necessary Thing for us to do.

    I keep my ear to the ground just like everyone. And one of the things I DON'T hear is laments regarding his seriousness of purpose.

  9. Add to that the world's worst "ally," and the most difficult logistics imaginable, and a never-defined, if even visualized, "goal," and you're left with a clusterfuck of Biblical magnitude.

    - rufus

    And yet we haven't been left with a clusterfuck of Biblical magnitude.

    Again, that which was being anticipated just a few short months ago, isn't.

    We went through the same dire predictions on Iraq in the ramp-up to the surge. They never materialized.

    If the challenge is a hundred times more daunting in Afghanistan, they're still not going to materialize there.

  10. Trish, what is a reasonable outcome for Afghanistan? What will that cost? How long?

    What is a likely outcome? What will that cost? How long?

    What happens if we just get out?

  11. Afghanistan is nothing more than a place for a General to get his next star, or a Colonel to get his first.

    No one is taking that box of rocks seriously. If they were they would be trying to figure out what to do about the "Poppies;" because the "Poppies" are the key to the power structure, and the hearts and minds of a large proportion of the population.

    There would be huge "Training" projects to try to figure out how in the world you produce a workable military in the world's poorest country, and what the ultimae cost will really be.

    This whole thing is just stupid. Nothing is being accomplished. Even that little old town of Mawhatever is "uncontrolled" at night. It's just a bunch of dick Generals playing cowboys and indians with our dollars, and our sons and daughters' lives.

    You can betcha, Obama has the exit all worked out. He doesn't like the military any better than the Clintons did.

  12. "We'll see."

    : )

    Would you like a semi-official answer, Blue? Or an official one?

  13. The fact is, we're going to war in Africa. That's where the yet-to-be-produced oil is. We don't have enough troops to waste them in Afghanistan.

  14. There's a reason they're pushing ahead with the non-nukes on ICBM deal.

    Kajickistan, if it goes down, will be the final straw.

  15. Blogger rufus said...

    The fact is, we're going to war in Africa.

    ya think? Given the deficits and all I think it might be a bit of a financial stretch to go about war mongering any more.

  16. Deficits don't matter when there's no gas for the car. Africa it is. We'll ease into it. Chasing them Jihadis, donch'a know?

  17. Smedley Butler would understand.

    He would already have his mosquito netting, and quinine water packed.

  18. Blogger rufus said...

    Deficits don't matter when

    They will matter at some point, the question is when.

  19. ...and they will "matter" not as a function of choice but because, ultimately, there is a reality involved in money.

  20. "He doesn't like the military any better than the Clintons did."

    There again, having lived through a few of the angriest, most depressing years for the US military since Viet Nam, I get not remotely the same vibe now.

    As an aside, my dad and I had an interesting conversation last week regarding the insane, miserable personalities further promoted and further inflicted on the military by that administration.

    One perhaps towers above all others: Claudia Kennedy.

  21. Okay, I went a little too far with that statement. 1) it's very unlikely Anyone could dislike the military as much as the Clintons, and 2) I have absolutely no inside knowledge for that statement, whatsoever.

  22. Mar Treas Statement is out:


    The Treasury's deficit totaled $65.4 billion in March, a sizable sum but well under the year-ago March deficit of $191.6 billion. The improvement is reflected in the fiscal year-to-date deficit, which six months into the fiscal year has turned lower, down 8.2 percent from a year ago but at a still enormous total of $717.0 billion.

    Outlays, benefiting from TARP repayments, are showing the most improvement, down a fiscal year-to-date 5.7 percent vs. a year ago. Year-to-date receipts are down 3.6 percent from a year ago vs. a 7.0 percent year-to-date decrease in February.

    Despite March's improvement, the outlook of the budget is uncertain given the still weak jobs market and the fact that individual taxes are a central source of the government's income.

    I can't get on the main page, yet. There must be a lot of people trying to get aboard right now.


  23. They "might" be able to bring this puppy in at -$990 Billion. I'm not betting on it, but it's "possible."

  24. In fact, it might be quite a bit less than that. April is the biggie. Absolutely no idea how April (the month we normally run a pretty good surplus - except last year - will come in.)

  25. Po ol' Rufus. They tol him how stoopid he wuz when he said the Budget Deficit might come in under a Trilyun, insted a that 1.5T they wuz all talkin about.

    Gotch'er $1.5T right'cher young'uns.

  26. Where'd everbody go? Did they all go home? Don' wanna play no more?

  27. Karzai has been thrown under the bus...Google Karzai drug use.

  28. Karzai crawled under the bus, and laid down his damned self.

    We shoulda shot his ass years ago.

  29. Obama still hasnt thrown Abbas or Hamas under the bus...

    Or Assad...

    Or the Saudis

    Or Russia, Iran, North Korea...

    Or Chavez

    but England, Israel, Poland, Honduras, South Korea, Taiwan

    all thrown...

  30. Things are not going so well in Afghanistan and Karzai is attempting to distance himself from NATO and the US.

    Anger mounts as US troops kill Afghans on Bus

    Kandahar, a city of about a half million people, is nominally under government control, but the Taliban have stepped up infiltration, staging attacks and intimidating inhabitants.

    A city of 500K is nominally under government control?

    Should we start a pool how when the first withdrawals will begin?

  31. ...
    but England, Israel, Poland, Honduras, South Korea, Taiwan

    Any of those countries could be invaded and overrun and this administration would only spit and sputter it's indignation.

  32. semi-offiicial Red, they are usually more interesting.

  33. Invaded and over run?

    By whom, pray tell?

  34. You are still living in the 20th century, while the rest of US have moved on, to the 21st.

    Where there is NO ONE, other than US, with the capacity to invade and overrun, anyone of those mention countries.

  35. As for any of those countries being "thrown under the bus", give it a break.

    The monies flowing to each of them, for the stationing of US troops there, just the payrolls spent in-country, is huge.

    We not only have not thrown anyone "under a bus", we've bought buses for all of them, that they drive for themselves.

  36. "...semi-offiicial Red, they are usually more interesting."

    Yeah, I'll try to have that by morning.

    "Karzai has been thrown under the bus..."

    No, he hasn't been thrown under the bus. He HAS been very publicly (and therefor probably very unproductively) chastized. It is deserved, but as with other dubious, duplicitous, corrupt, uncertain, precariously positioned allied leaders in the past, making our most pointed concerns and criticisms open to all usually backfires on us while delivering diddly political defense among the anxious natives back home.

    In a reversal of the situation we had in Baghdad, Stan is the Good Cop to the bad cop of Karl Eikenberry and others.

    Which is another way of saying that the Country Team, at least, hasn't gone all Bad Cop.

  37. As for Israel, the US is expanding its' anti-missile defenses in the Region. Adding Patriot batteries in Arab countries, while maintaining the deployments in Saudi Arabia and in Israel, itself.

    That bump you felt, it was not the Israelis, rest assured of that.

    The administration is deploying two Patriot batteries, capable of shooting down incoming missiles, in each of the four Gulf countries. Kuwait already has an older version of the missile, deployed after Iraq's invasion. Saudi Arabia has long had the missiles, as has Israel.

    An unnamed senior administration official told the New York Times: "Our first goal is to deter the Iranians. A second is to reassure the Arab states, so they don't feel they have to go nuclear themselves. But there is certainly an element of calming the Israelis as well."

    The chief of the US central command, General David Petraeus, said in a speech 10 days ago that countries in the region are concerned about Tehran's military ambitions and the prospect of it becoming a dominant power in the Gulf: "Iran is clearly seen as a very serious threat by those on the other side of the Gulf front."

    Petraeus said the US is keeping cruisers equipped with advanced anti-missile systems in the Gulf at all times to act as a buffer between Iran and the Gulf states.

  38. Correction:...while delivering diddly political defense from the anxious natives back home.

    Like, certain Congresscritters.

  39. Petraeus said in a speech in Bahrain last year the UAE air force "could take out the entire Iranian air force, I believe".

    Missile defence

    Patriot missiles are designed to intercept enemy missiles before they reach their target. Since production began in 1980, 9,000 missiles have been delivered to countries including Germany, Greece, Taiwan and Japan.

    During the first Gulf war Patriot success was 70% in Saudi Arabia and 40% in Israel. Since then the US has spent more than $10bn (£6.3bn) improving, among other aspects, the system's radar and computer compatibility for joint forces action. Once in position, the system requires a crew of only three people to operate. Each missile weighs 700kg and has a range of about 100 miles.

    The US navy is in the process of upgrading all its Ticonderoga class cruisers and a number of destroyers to carry the Aegis ballistic missile defence system. It uses a surface-to-air missile that is capable of intercepting ballistic missiles above the atmosphere. It has also been tested on failing satellites as they fall to earth. Each missile is over 6m long and costs more than $9m.

  40. It doesn't matter who they could be invaded and overrun by...the point is nothing is going to happen.

    When I say that Karzai has been thrown under the bus, I mean it only in the sense that he is being deprecated. It will be a whole lot easier to leave if our ally is seen as unworthy. On the other hand, it could all be theatrics designed to take the heat off Karzai.

  41. Anyone that the UAE air force can defeat is no real threat to US.

    The Iranians are not the boogie man they are made out to be.

    Or is it that General Petraeus is betraying US, as the folk from "Move On" told US he was.

  42. Income falls 3.2% during Obama's term

    "'It is proof that the government can't spend its way to prosperity'...

    "...the dropping numbers show that the $862 billion stimulus package has not turned the tide on dropping incomes...

    "c The unemployment rate will stay high for the next two years and still be at 8.4 percent by the end of 2011..."

  43. Apparently there was a NYC bomb plot thwarted.

    Apparently this was significant.

    Apparently some people are getting used to the basic Men In Black premise: If the public only knew their world was about to come to a screeching halt on any given day of the week...and, you know, it's a damn good thing they don't.

  44. No, whit, the real deal is there is no threat worthy of the expenses we are incurring defending the whirled against it.

    As was pointed out in an EB thread, just the other day, the Russians are fucked. They are no threat, except for their nuclear capacity.

    They are already dying like flies, without any further help from US.

    The Islamoids are US allies, all across the Islamic Arc. Except for the Iranians, of course.
    The odd Shia out.

    Imagine that.

  45. How much money should I pay in additional taxes, so as to cut the deficits, or that Mr Obama should borrow from Charlie Chi-com, so that US forces can defend England, Germany and Italy, with troops stationed there?

  46. "It will be a whole lot easier to leave if our ally is seen as unworthy."

    You keep insisting that we're going somewhere. I keep telling you we're not.

    There is deep, genuine unhappiness and frustration with Karzai. The administration has not kept that very private. And in addition, that whole portfolio has been given to Holbrooke rather than Clinton, who may very well have chosen a different tack.

  47. Ad Japan and South Korea, too.

    We left the Philippines, years ago, and a new Pacific War did not break out.

  48. Leave Europe, while doubling down in Afpakistan.

    If there is any real truth to there being an Islamoid threat, to whirled peace, at all.

  49. The Vietnam analogy is keen, here.

    President Diem, he was a victim of regime change, engineered in DC.

    We did not leave, when he did.

  50. " that US forces can defend England, Germany and Italy, with troops stationed there?"

    Except that they don't do that. They're expeditionary forces (or direct air support) just like the guys at Hood and Bragg. Just like most of those in the ROK.

    Unless you occupy a Joint billet, you deploy.

  51. With no need for US to maintain them, there, either.

    As the Founders warned, the greatest threat to liberty is the Standing Army.

    As Ike warned, the greatest threat to liberty was the Military Industrial Complex, the one that it takes to support the Standing Army.

    General Dynamics, it has the President in its' pocket.

    As allen and most other posters acknowledge, the Federals are the greatest threat to our liberties.

    As doug-o so frequently tells US

    Slavery = Freedom.
    Security = Freedom.

    Any Government that easily maintains a Standing Army, spending more on military capacity than the rest of the whirled, combined, is not a defender of personal or domestic liberty.

  52. But is a Government that can easily mandate the purchase of Health Insurance, by residents that feel that they have no current need for it.

  53. "With no need for US to maintain them, there, either."

    In some cases, it's cheaper - and it's almost always less of a headache - to keep them there than to permanently re-station them back here.

  54. It is a Government that can, and will, redistribute the assets of the country, and its' residents, as it sees fit.

  55. Eliminate them, trish, not reassign them.

    Cut the man power 'requirements' by a third, maybe half.

    Close at least 450 of our 700 plus foreign bases.

    Or raise taxes to pay for it.

  56. "it" being the continued foreign deployments, as well as other 'needed' Federal projects, at home and abroad.

  57. Military retirement checks, start a 65 years of age.

    No double dipping at a Federal level. Only one check, retirement or pay, to any Federal worker at a time.

    Or raise taxes to pay for these generous, California style benefits for Federal 'retirees'.

  58. "Eliminate them, trish, not reassign them."

    Not a snowball's chance in hell while we're still looking under the couch cushions and emptying pockets everywhere - and I do mean everywhere - for more deployables.

    And that's with half our float coming from contractors due to the cap on active duty numbers set by Congress.

    Not a snowball's chance in hell of eliminating deployable units and deployable billets.

  59. unless the choice is made to not deploy. The ruskies are an object lesson though...

  60. lest i'm being too cryptic - those unemployed soldiers were a horrible burden for the Russians in general.

  61. for US it would be more a case of lack of profits (to put it mildly) for KBR, General Dynamics, Blackwater ect.

  62. but the deficit picture could improve...

    ... a bit.

  63. How many cooks are there in the Army anyway?

  64. And why retire them at twenty years for half pay, at 38 years of age, for the rest of their lives?

  65. Those tax eaters, ash, they do not make "profits". they are just the beneficiaries of Federal wealth redistribution programs.

  66. As that great American President, Ike, whom everyone liked, warned US would happen.

  67. Oh, I agree trish, there is NO chance that any of the things I suggest will become reality.

    No more than the people of the United States, through their Congressional representatives, will ever get to audit the Federal Reserve.

    Which is why this news watching is all just so much entertainment.

  68. The last time there was fertile ground for substantive debate regarding our military activities and commitments was prior to the surge in Iraq.

    Not surprisingly, the extent of our own success is the extent to which that window has since closed.

    There will come a day when we have killed just enough of the bad guys for that debate to resurface in slightly altered form among Democrats, Republicans, and independents alike.

    Until then, not so much.

  69. This comment has been removed by the author.

  70. The body of Polish President Lech Kaczynski is to lie in state in the capital Warsaw as the nation mourns the victims of the Smolensk air crash.


    An outpouring of grief has been seen in Polish communities across the world and the country is observing a week of public mourning.


    Relatives of some of the air crash victims have been arriving in Moscow in an effort to identify their loved ones.

    Lech Kaczynski

  71. China will chart its own course in reforming the yuan, President Hu Jintao said as U.S. President Barack Obama renewed his call for a more flexible Chinese currency.


    The U.S. Treasury this month delayed publication of a report that politicians had urged Obama to use to name China a currency manipulator, potentially paving the way for punitive trade measures. China had warned repeatedly that foreign criticism of its currency policy would be counter-productive.


    With China's exchange rate policy under intense scrutiny, Hu also used the meeting with Obama to argue that a stronger yuan would not be a panacea for woes afflicting the world's largest economy.

    China's Call on Yuan

  72. Where'd the comments go?

  73. Where'd the comments go?