I always appreciate it when a candidate opens up to questions online, which Jennifer Brunner did today at DailyKos on the subject of President Obama’s Afghanistan speech tomorrow.? I like it even better when the candidate is responsive, which Jennifer was.? When the issue is Afghanistan, and a couple of questions immediately reveal the Hobson’s choice Barack now faces, you really begin to appreciate just how thoroughly George W. Bush fucked up our country.

Bottom line, Jennifer says it’s “Time to Bring Home the Troops”, “as soon as possible”, but when asked how this would affect our pursuit of Osama Bin Laden, the Hobson’s choice is laid bare.

Not suggesting immediate withdrawal, but rather careful planning on a timetable for gradual withdrawal, such as is occurring in Iraq.

It is unclear to me how such a “timetable for gradual withdrawal” will lead to Osama Bin Laden’s capture or death.? Perhaps Bin Laden is in Pakistan. perhaps he is in Afghanistan, who knows.? I do know that unless we get Bin Laden, there will be no “success” in Afghanistan, either perceived or real.

The only reason Americans supported this war to begin with, and the only reason the deteriorating support even still exists, is because of Osama Bin Laden.? The NANOSECOND that we get Bin Laden, wherever he is, American support for any involvement in Afghanistan will disappear, because it’s the ONLY reason we are there.

That is the definition of success for me. It should be the definition of success for our government, too, and I’d love to hear any candidate or elected official make that case.? If gradual withdrawal from Afghanistan will increase the chances that we get Bin Laden, I’m all for it.? If dancing naked down the streets of Columbus helps us get Bin Laden, I’m all for that, too.

The fact that Bin Laden is still around, more than 8 years after we went after him, is the fault of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, the Republican Party, and every fool who ever voted for them.? When we do get Bin Laden, as I’m certain Barack Obama will eventually accomplish, Afghanistan is over.

  • jeffhess

    Shalom Tim,

    And if we discover that Osama Bin Laden died peacefully, surrounded by his loved ones, of natural causes in say, oh, 2002, what then?

    I suspect that when it is all said and done and Historians have a chance to get some distance on the last nine years, they'll discover that our initial involvement in Afghanistan was outrage over Bin Laden, but that that lasted no more than a few months, and what has fueled our long-term involvement has been the protection of nuclear Pakistan.

    B'shalom,

    Jeff

    B'shalom,

    Jeff

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  • MarkKeating

    Nail. Head.

    If there is a better definition of “success” in Afghanistan, I have yet to hear it.

    (Although I am in favor of whatever serendipitous effects dancing naked in the streets of Columbus may have as well.)

  • jeffhess

    Shalom Mark,

    This is why I mentioned the non-closure of WW II if the goal of the allies had ever been the capture/trial/execution/death of Adolf Hitler.

    Osama Bin Laden is a great bad guy. Osama Bin Laden is a great rallying symbol (just look at how President Bush made use of him in that way). You can even say that Osama Bin Laden is a great evil.

    But Osama Bin Laden is not now, nor has he ever been, the solution to the geopolitical game the United States engages in.

    To think that the capture/trial/execution/death of Osama Bin Laden defines success in even a marginal sense is to misunderstand international politics.

    B'shalom,

    Jeff

  • MarkKeating

    Bah! why you got to go pouring sense all over a perfectly rant?

    Yes, I understand that Osama is just one guy, and the movement that he has created/harnessed/directed/manipulated will go on even if we do capture or kill him. It may even give that movement more appeal, by turning him into a martyr.

    I also understand that “defeating” terrorism is a long game, and a “successful” strategy to marginalize terrorism will not always include military force as a necessary component.

    I also also understand that we have occupied Afghanistan for almost eight years and are about to commit to our highest level of troop strength ever. Having a simple – even overly simple – explanation for that occupation is essential to not alienating the Afghans even more than we already have.

    I also also also understand domestic politics pretty well. The Dems need a simple answer to the question “Why are we still there?” Having a simple – even overly simple – explanation as to why we are committing more troops to an eight-year* long war is necessary to push back against the Republicans' message for this election cycle, to wit: The Dems are in charge. Blame them. For everything.

    I do hope that the President takes this opportunity to lay out a meaningful strategy for Afghanistan beyond “committing enough troops and treasure to get the job done right, the way it should have been from the start.” What “success” means to him. How we'll know when it's time to leave. You know – the same things we demanded from W and the Republicans about Iraq.

    * during much of which, I will grant you, it seemed like the US wasn't serious about any aspect of that conflict

  • The Taliban is independent of Al Queda. The various warring tribes/ethnic cliques/mercenary gangs are independent of Al Queda.

    It may become politically expedient for America to wash its hands of Afghanistan when Osama Bin Laden is captured. but it will not put an end to the troubles in Afghanistan.

    In addition, our Allies Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Dubai, and the UAE will continue cranking out Al Queda type terrorists.

  • the Ba'ath party of Iraq and Syria is the ideological and political enemy of Osama Bin Laden and Al Queda.

    That distinction was not enough to prevent the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

    The U.S. invasion of Iraq shifted U.S. resources from Afghanistan to Iraq. It also cost America an extreme amount of good will. The “coalition” gradually wound down their aid to the mission in Afghanistan. Turkey's got a million man army. you'd think they could spare a few hundred thousand troops for Afghanistan. but not when a poorly planned invasion of Iraq destabilizes the entire middle east.

    George Bush and Cheney had nearly 8 years to “save” afghanistan. they've sent a strong precedent for how things will continue for the next 8 years. the worst fucked up neighborhoods of Detroit and Los Angeles are the ultimate product in American policy and ideology. maybe we've managed to extend that to Afghanistan.

  • MarkKeating

    Nail. Head.

    If there is a better definition of “success” in Afghanistan, I have yet to hear it.

    (Although I am in favor of whatever serendipitous effects dancing naked in the streets of Columbus may have as well.)

  • Shalom Mark,

    This is why I mentioned the non-closure of WW II if the goal of the allies had ever been the capture/trial/execution/death of Adolf Hitler.

    Osama Bin Laden is a great bad guy. Osama Bin Laden is a great rallying symbol (just look at how President Bush made use of him in that way). You can even say that Osama Bin Laden is a great evil.

    But Osama Bin Laden is not now, nor has he ever been, the solution to the geopolitical game the United States engages in.

    To think that the capture/trial/execution/death of Osama Bin Laden defines success in even a marginal sense is to misunderstand international politics.

    B'shalom,

    Jeff

  • MarkKeating

    Bah! why you got to go pouring sense all over a perfectly rant?

    First of all, I don't think anyone has ever claimed that “The War on Terror” or the Afghan “conflict” is in any way similar to WWII (except perhaps how they both started). No nation-state on the other side, for instance. No formal declaration of war. No call to national service. No “war bonds” to pay for it. But I digress.

    Yes, I understand that Osama is just one guy, and the movement that he has created/harnessed/directed/manipulated will go on even if we do capture or kill him. It may even give that movement more appeal, by turning him into a martyr.

    I also understand that “defeating” terrorism is a long game, and a “successful” strategy to marginalize terrorism will not always include military force as a necessary component.

    I also also understand that we have occupied Afghanistan for almost eight years and are about to commit to our highest level of troop strength ever. Having a simple – even overly simple – explanation for that occupation is essential to not alienating the Afghans. Well, no more than we already have.

    I also also also understand domestic politics pretty well. The Dems need a simple answer to the question “Why are we still there?” Having a simple – even overly simple – explanation as to why we are committing more troops to an eight-year* long war is necessary to push back against the Republicans' message for this election cycle, to wit: The Dems are in charge. Blame them. For everything.

    I do hope that the President takes this opportunity to lay out a meaningful strategy for Afghanistan beyond “committing enough troops and treasure to get the job done right, the way it should have been from the start.” What “success” means to him. How we'll know when it's time to leave. You know – the same things we demanded from W and the Republicans about Iraq.

    * during much of which, I will grant you, it seemed like the US wasn't serious about any aspect of that conflict

  • The Taliban is independent of Al Queda. The various warring tribes/ethnic cliques/mercenary gangs are independent of Al Queda.

    It may become politically expedient for America to wash its hands of Afghanistan when Osama Bin Laden is captured. but it will not put an end to the troubles in Afghanistan.

    In addition, our Allies Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Dubai, and the UAE will continue cranking out Al Queda type terrorists.

  • the Ba'ath party of Iraq and Syria is the ideological and political enemy of Osama Bin Laden and Al Queda.

    That distinction was not enough to prevent the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

    The U.S. invasion of Iraq shifted U.S. resources from Afghanistan to Iraq. It also cost America an extreme amount of good will. The “coalition” gradually wound down their aid to the mission in Afghanistan. Turkey's got a million man army. you'd think they could spare a few hundred thousand troops for Afghanistan. but not when a poorly planned invasion of Iraq destabilizes the entire middle east.

    George Bush and Cheney had nearly 8 years to “save” afghanistan. they've sent a strong precedent for how things will continue for the next 8 years. the worst fucked up neighborhoods of Detroit and Los Angeles are the ultimate product in American policy and ideology. maybe we've managed to extend that to Afghanistan.

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