90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
PLEDGE NOW
Getting Out Of Afghanistan

Afghanistan and Pakistan are still brewing up big challenges for the United States. Taliban talks, drone wars, how to stay in, how to get out.

Independent Elections Commission chief Ahmad Yousuf Nuristani, center, speaks during a press conference in Kabul, Afghanistan, Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2013. The top contenders for Afghanistan’s 2014 presidential elections all survived a preliminary disqualification round on Tuesday that eliminated 16 minor candidates for not meeting requirements, officials said. (AP)

Independent Elections Commission chief Ahmad Yousuf Nuristani, center, speaks during a press conference in Kabul, Afghanistan, Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2013. The top contenders for Afghanistan’s 2014 presidential elections all survived a preliminary disqualification round on Tuesday that eliminated 16 minor candidates for not meeting requirements, officials said. (AP)

Pakistan’s prime minister at the White House today.  A tough relationship.  And Amnesty International, raising a “war crimes” flag over American use of drones in the prime minister’s outback.  It all ties in to the big American interest in the region, right across the border in Afghanistan.  After a dozen bloody years of costly sacrifice, the US is now moving rapidly toward its big drawdown in Afghanistan.  Its pullout. The formal suggestion is they’re set, and we can go.  The reality is much tougher.  My guest today says cut a deal with the Taliban, or get out right now.  Up next On Point:  leaving Afghanistan.

– Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Ben Pauker, managing editor of Foreign Policy Magazine. (@BenPauker)

Stephen Biddle, Senior Fellow for Defense Policy at the Council on Foreign Relations, Professor of Political Science and International Affairs at George Washington University.

Sean Carberry, Kabul correspondent for NPR. (@Frankentele)

From Tom’s Reading List

Foreign Affairs: Ending the War in Afghanistan — “Should current trends continue, U.S. combat troops are likely to leave behind a grinding stalemate between the Afghan government and the Taliban. The Afghan National Security Forces can probably sustain this deadlock, but only as long as the U.S. Congress pays the multibillion-dollar annual bills needed to keep them fighting. The war will thus become a contest in stamina between Congress and the Taliban.”

The Atlantic: Why Is It So Hard To Negotiate With The Taliban? – “At the beginning, talks were just seen as a way to peel off local and regional commanders and local insurgents from the broader movement, and it slowly worked its way up the chain from reintegration to reconciliation. But it did so unevenly and it was never properly explained how these negotiations at the lower level would play out at the higher level. We didn’t know whether the purpose of talks was to split the Taliban movement between the hawks and the doves or to try to maintain a coherent movement under [Taliban spiritual leader] Mullah Mohammad Omar and talk directly to the top.”

The Guardian: US drone strikes could be classed as war crimes, says Amnesty International – “Getting to the bottom of individual strikes is exceptionally difficult in the restive areas bordering Afghanistan, where thousands of militants have settled. People are often terrified of speaking out, fearing retribution from both militants and the state, which is widely suspected of colluding with the CIA-led campaign.”

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • X-Christian

    Why not ask Rumsfeld, Cheney, Powell and Bush how to get out of Afghanistan?

    Thousands of dead soldiers and Afghanis
    2 Trillion dollars of war debt

    Responsibility…. What in your wallet?

    • harverdphd

      That none of your business.

    • WorriedfortheCountry

      I love how the ‘blame Bush crowd’ completely ignores the dear leaders actions.

      US deaths in Afghanistan under Bush: 569 (7+ years)

      US deaths in Afghanistan under Obama: 1575 (as of Sep. 2013) (4+ years)

      • Ray in VT

        We probably would have had more deaths there if we hadn’t taken our eye off of the Bin Laden and Taliban balls in order to invade Iraq. Deaths in Afghanistan were also on the rise as Bush was on the way out, and even at the peak those numbers only got up to a little over half of the worst year in Iraq.

        • WorriedfortheCountry

          IMHO X-Christian’s one sided post deserved some sort of response especially when the left always claimed Afghanistan was ‘the good war’. Now it is ‘bush’s fault’.

          • Ray in VT

            I think that it was the better war of the two by far, as at least there was a solid reason and justification for us to go in there, as well as a somewhat viable working opposition on the ground. I think that part of the problem is that we tried to do it on the cheap for years and let the pressure off of the Taliban. Although, given the history of resistance in the region, it may not have produced a better result in the long run, but I think that we badly missed a chance to perhaps to better during those early years, when there was not so much pressure from militants.

        • William

          Bill Clinton felt Iraq needed a new leader and got the Iraq Liberation Act passed. Destroying a mad man in Iraq was more important and the Taliban.

      • X-Christian

        You forgot that Bush’s job was to finish what he started.
        He and the military brass conducted the war with as much ignorance as could possibly be applied.

        Bush was, and remains, a fixture of embarrassment.

        It will take a century to get over the damage of his idiotic policies which we still suffer from.

        • WorriedfortheCountry

          I guess you don’t like Bush-II.

          You probably don’t like W.’s initiatives to stem the aids crisis in Africa. You probably don’t like that he kept us safe from terrorism for 8 years. Or that he gave us the Medicare-Part D prescription plan. You probably don’t like his middle class tax cut that we are still living under too.

          I’m not a big Bush-II fan but I predict that history will treat him much better than your characterization. He popularity is continuing to increase.

          • X-Christian

            The United States is worse off in every way thanks to the first wars ever fought by the US without a tax increase to pay for them.

            The same people who cry about the deficit going up are the same ones who cry about how much they love tax cuts. Shame on them.

            Obama has been frequently awful but he inherited the disgraceful Patriot Act which gave him unconstitutional powers which he has been free to abuse.

            The Bush policy of “Let’s make war and figure out how to get out later without a plan” is disgrace. People were right to worry that he had no exit strategy.

            As for keeping the country safe from terrorism that is just a fallacy. We are still in the constant red alert emergency setting that But put us on and THAT IS NOT without consequences.

            Obama is not good – but he did not put us on this disastrous hamster wheel of needless fear and war!

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            Al Quaeda attacked us. 3000 killed. Not the other way. One argument is we didn’t squash the threat when they attacked us with the USS Cole, embassy bombings and first World Trade Center bombing during Clinton.

            We spent between $1T-$2T on the wars while running up $12T in new debt ($5T in Bush’s 8 years and $7T in Obama’s 4+ years). There are other problems here don’t you think?

            I believe Bush made a mistake going into Iraq and he clearly mismanaged the ‘nation building’ but Iraq was a magnet for Al Qaeda and we ended up killing a lot of terrorists that would have been focused on killing us HERE. Food for thought, eh?

          • William

            If Bush should not have gone into Iraq how can we justify Obama’s war against Libya and his desire to go into Syria?

  • Wm_James_from_Missouri
  • Fiscally_Responsible

    Fox News’ expose last night of Rep. Alan Grayson’s despicable email which contained a visual comparing members of the Tea Party to the Ku Klux Klan demonstrates how low certain people will sink (lying, character assassination) to achieve their political ends. The Democrats in Congress should condemn him in the strongest terms for such deplorable behavior and insist that he resign his office effective immediately. The story was not covered on CBS, NBC, or NPR, proving once again the liberal bias of the mainstream media and the need for fair and balanced news sources such as Fox News to report stories that none of the others have the guts or the integrity to report.

    If someone from a conservative standpoint had made an equally incendiary false statement about an ethnic, racial, or sexually-oriented minority group, it would be the first story covered in the mainstream media for weeks at a time until that person was drummed out of office (remember the congressman from Missouri who made the ridiculous, deplorable comments about women’s bodies having a natural defense against pregnancy when raped and how the media covered that story day after day, week after week to make sure that he would lose his election?). The media should treat all misbehavior of epic proportions equally.

    http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/10/22/rep-grayson-blasted-over-anti-tea-party-email-showing-burning-cross/?intcmp=latestnews

    • northeaster17

      I’ve sat in Tea Party meetings and heard the talk. I was out of there by 2009. The things people say when the camera’s aren’t rolling.

      • Fiscally_Responsible

        You, of course, did not respond to the truths outlined in my email.

      • TFRX

        I don’t like saying “One person’s experience can be extrapolated to general knowledge”, but it sounds like you did what basically every mathematically significant measurement shows:

        The TP scrubbed the “bicuriosity” of moderates and lefties by shortly after Inauguration Day, if not earlier. Now the very very few centrists and lefties who will go to their meetings are the window dressing, the “some of the Tea Party’s Best Friends used to be liberals”.

    • Ray in VT

      Fox News is fair and balanced. Thanks for the early morning laugh.

      • Fiscally_Responsible

        The facts of the case that I cited still stand. The Democrats and liberals are silent on the matter as it does not support their particular viewpoint of the world.

        • Ray in VT

          As I also said, let’s not pretend that this is only done by one party. The GOP and their allies are pretty soft when it comes to handling the outrageous statements of their fellows.

    • MadMarkTheCodeWarrior

      I guess you haven’t been listening to the members of your own party… or you’re in some bubble within the T-party bubble…

      I once hoped that we as a society had moved beyond the vitriol and hate I’ve heard from the mouths of T-party people. Racism is alive and well in America. Do I mean to imply that it’s a new arm of the KKK? No, but its got plenty of members who are racist and have and will continue to employ racist fear and hate to heard their frightened little sheep to do their will.

      • fun bobby

        like Herman cain?

        • MadMarkTheCodeWarrior

          … Funny isn’t it? Saw a video of a TParty rally with many black folk in the audience listening to a white guy talking about getting bacteria to our roots and praising the likes of Washington and Jefferson and whoops… Too many white salve owners there… Quickly added MLK or was it Malcom X; can’t remember, but it was quite awkward. I can’t imagine how the non-whites in the audience felt or if they went home reconsidering their affiliation with the TParty.

          • TFRX

            MLK? You’re off sked, MadMark: The Tea Party won’t be into their MLKWouldBeAConservative schtick until after the confetti and noisemakers are thrown out on Jan 2nd.

          • fun bobby

            I don’t understand the bacteria roots reference. do non whites not like Jefferson or Washington? are they taboo when black people are in the audience.? I think the tea party would appreciate malcom x’s tactics and be able to relate to his struggle for civil rights

      • Fiscally_Responsible

        As usual, you liberals do not address the merits of the argument presented or speak to the specifics of the situation. Instead, they simply bloviate their liberal clap trap. As I said in my post, when a conservative congressman/congresswomen makes equally inappropriate comments about a group, liberal excoriate him/her and call for their resignation. But liberal members of congress who make equally false and inflammatory comments get a pass from liberals, whether it is individuals or the media. Then they wonder why so many people think that the media has a liberal bias.

        • Ray in VT

          Remember when the Republicans raked Allen West over the coals for comparing Democrats to Nazis? Let’s not pretend that only one party is guilty of looking the other way when one of their own makes outrageous comments about a political opponent.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            Really? Are you serious.

            West was talking about propaganda and compared the Dems tactics to the most infamous propagandist in history. False equivalence in my opinion.

            Here is the quote:

            “If Joseph Goebbels was around, he’d be very proud of the Democrat Party, because they have an incredible propaganda machine,”

            There is nothing ‘outrageous’ in that statement. Goebbels is often used as the benchmark for excellence in propaganda.

          • Ray in VT

            So, comparing someone or a party to the Nazis is okay when you think that it is right?

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            West was not comparing the Dems to Nazis.

            Goebbels is often used as the benchmark for excellence in propaganda. I bet I could find it used about Republicans by Dems.
            Probably not as much since the GOP stinks at propaganda — not because they don’t try.

            This is classic case of faux outrage.

            EDIT: it took 2 seconds to find many Dems doing it. Here is one.
            Steve Cohen in 2011 comparing the GOP to Goebells. Never heard the left complain about that one.
            http://videocafe.crooksandliars.com/heather/rep-steve-cohen-not-backing-down-comparing

          • Ray in VT

            So, he was just comparing the party’s messaging to Nazi propaganda. Perhaps we could say the same thing regarding much of the messaging from the GOP, and that would also be okay? If the GOP stinks at propaganda, then why don’t they give up on it? They certainly like to employ the idea that you can repeat an untruth over and over again until it becomes the truth.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            West or Cohen?

            “They certainly like to employ the idea that you can repeat an untruth over and over again until it becomes the truth.”

            That statement applies to both parties and most politicians.

          • Ray in VT

            And linking that to the Nazis is totally legitimate and acceptable? If I was to say something like “The GOP has repeatedly pushed and gotten some people to believe so many lies about Benghazi that even Goebbels would be proud”, then that would be an acceptable comment to make?

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            See my latest response above. Context is important. I think it is OK to play the propaganda card if you can make the case. Comparing the propaganda to the Goebbels standard has to stand on the merits. For instance, if you use it to call out a simple stretch of the truth you will just look silly.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            I have to modify my defense of West. Context is important. West was analyzing the success of Obama in blaming Republicans for blaming the GOP for all of DCs woes. In that context it reasonable to play the propaganda card.

            “You have the president, who has an
            incredible megaphone and a platform, and he has people all across this
            country believing that the only people on Capitol Hill are House
            Republicans. He’s not talking anything about his controlled Senate. So,
            it’s a great propaganda machine. And I have to give him kudos for being
            able to leverage that,” he said.

            West also accused some in the media of “enabling” the Democrats to do so.

            “Let’s be honest, you know, some of the
            people in the media are complicit in this, in enabling them to get that
            type of message out,” he said.

            West, whose South Florida district is
            heavily Jewish, predicted his words would be used to “demonize” or
            “demagogue” him and insisted he was only making the comparison to
            propaganda, not comparing the Democratic Party to Naziism as a whole.”

            http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2011/12/16/rep-allen-west-joseph-goebbels-would-be-very-proud-of-the-democratic-party/

        • MadMarkTheCodeWarrior

          As usual…? Okay here’s a quote from your article…
          “There’s no excuse for the hateful words and imagery used “… Okay yes, the imagery was bad… but that statement could be applied to many a press releases, fliers or speeches by TParty’ers, Republicans and shout tv and radio entities like Rush Limbaugh who is one of the most well known vitriolic voices of the far right.

          Funny you should invoke Naziism and Hitler in the same breath as the Democratic Party. Hitler was decidedly not leftist: he was conservative / right wing and employed xenophobia and fear mongering. And without the horrific violent crimes of the Nazis, how is today’s Republican Party any different with its hate-filled anti-immigration, anti-gay, pseudo-religious crusades?

          Pictures are worth a thousand words and as I watched the Republican convention back in 2012, I strained to find non-white faces in stark contrast to the democratic convention which had diversity visible amongst the delegates and not just the speakers.

          http://mobile.businessweek.com/articles/2012-08-30/republicans-dream-of-a-not-so-white-party
          The numbers tell the story. Nearly 87 percent of registered Republican voters are white, according to the Pew Research Center. In contrast, 61 percent of registered Democrats are white, 21 percent are black, and 10 percent are Hispanic….

          Sorry but the TParty and Republican Party is primarily a group of angry white people, some of whom I call my friends.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            Niger Innis, a Tea Party Leader has a petition to end race baiting. You can sign the petition on his website.

            “END RACE-BAITING RACISM

            SIGN THIS PETITION TO END RACE-BAITING

            ONCE AND FOR ALL

            Let this be a clear message to Rev. Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and Rep.
            Alan Grayson that it is not the color of our skin that determines the content of our character. We have come too far in American history to backtrack into the days of Jim Crow Laws and Segregation. Stand with me now to proclaim all men and women equal under the Constitution and the eyes of our Creator.

            END RACE-BAITING RACISM NOW!”

            http://www.nigerinnis.com/

    • William

      “Alan” is just the modern day “Bull Connor” for the Democratic Party.

      • Ray in VT

        Why, has Grayson turned some police dogs loose on some kids in a desperate attempt to keep a bunch of coloreds in their place?

        • WorriedfortheCountry

          No but isn’t Grayson stirring up racial tensions? To raise money. Not good.

          • Ray in VT

            It certainly isn’t, and I dislike such comparisons, but his tactics seem pretty in line with a lot of the more extreme comments and messaging that gets used against the President. I’m sure that the GOP and its allies would never stoop to using racially charged stuff against its opponents.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            ” I’m sure that the GOP and its allies would never stoop to using racially charged stuff against its opponents.”

            Like calling your black opponent “clean and articulate”?

            Where are the comparable outrages used by GOP members of Congress?

            Maybe there are some and they should be called out when they happen. But why use bad behavior by others to defend Grayson? Let’s just call out the bad behavior when it happens.

          • Ray in VT

            How about the birthers, Michele Bachmann’s assertions that the President sides with terrorists or Ted Cruz saying that Obama is worse than HItler. I think that those are pretty offensive sorts of statements, and it is interesting how much birtherism there seems to be in the Tea Party and how much that groups (rather in general) seem to love Bachmann and Cruz.

            Now, again, I am not defending what Grayson said, so please don’t suggest that I am. I am, however, saying that there is plenty of extreme rhetoric coming from the right side of the aisle, and there doesn’t seem to be any sort of consequences similar to what is being demanded of the Democrats and Grayson.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            Oh well. I tried.

          • Ray in VT

            Hey man, I am more than willing to condemn outrageous statements. I just think that if we have are going to talk about one party censuring or forcing out one guy for outrageous statements, then we ought to look at the other party and demand the same there as well.

          • TFRX

            In line?

            He has to ramp things up to get to the right’s base acceptable level.

        • TFRX

          You forgot the firehoses and “hey, that taillight (*CRUNCH*) is broken–I’ll have to write you up”.

        • William

          Words have killed more people in history than police dogs.

          • Ray in VT

            So how many people has Grayson killed with his words?

          • William

            Obama spoke very clearly after the Giffords shooting about political leaders toning down the hate speech. It is not reassuring to see a member of Congress trying to gain a few votes from his radical supporters for a sound bite on CNN or MSNBC.

          • Ray in VT

            I guess that he has just learned from the extremism on the right and the dollars that that brings in.

          • William

            The language of hate directed towards Conservatives has gone way beyond what good people consider normal discourse. Just last night a CNBC journalist made some very racist remarks towards Senator Cruz and Mexican Americans.

          • Ray in VT

            So, the level of discourse is just getting reduced to the baseline that has been established by some on the right over these past few years? Perhaps you have forgotten about all of the Obama birth conspiracies and secret Muslim extremist talk and such that nuts have pushed for years? Is it only bad when it happens to someone with whom you agree?

          • William

            Really? Who is always tossing out the words “terrorists, bomb throwers, hostage takers”, ?….Obama birth certificate on the right vs 9-11 Truthers on the left?… Which side made a movie about killing President Bush?….while he was in office?. …Which side has a long history of bombing, robbing banks?….

          • Ray in VT

            Oh yeah, the right’s track record is pretty sterling. Perhaps you forgot about the campaign to smear Clinton? Perhaps you don’t know about, or merely agree with, all of the baloney that gets spread about Obama. Which side has a history of racially motivated violence, vehement bigotry against minority groups like gays and lesbians, and recently has had some nice things to say about stuff like Russia’s anti-gay legislation?

          • William

            Clinton was guilty!. He lied and got caught. He had his law license revoked. How can anyone want to defend that guy? Yes, which side has stoked the racial problems?..Remember the Travon Martin trial?…which side dreamed up the term “White Hispanic”…how do people dream up these terms?…Who edited a 9-11 tape?…(NBC News) to stoke the racial problems?..Remember…Obama spoke out against gay marriage,….then after he got reelected, he becomes pro-gay marriage…how can the gays go along with that?…..Russia has anti-gay laws…so do most if not all the Middle East .i.e. Muslim nations…and not one word of protest from the media, Obama or the Liberals…

          • Ray in VT

            That’s why we had Whitewater, Travelgate, allegations that the Clintons murdered Vince Foster as well as others back in Arkansas? There were people out to destroy him from day one, and they’d dream up any scandal that they could to do it, sort of like with Obama now. The paranoid faux scandals that get pushed are amazing, especially when they come from the mouths of people who defend or defended Bush’s lies, torture and domestic spying.

            Obama made comments regarding supporting gay marriage before he got re-elected. Would you rather take a guy that’s late to the party or someone who still thinks that discrimination against your group is okay? Bachmann thinks that it’s some sort of mental disease. No wonder the gay vote goes mostly to the Democrats, and even if they are standing on the sidelines on that issue in some places, at least they aren’t cheerleading for it.

            How about those depictions of Obama as some sort of African bushman or the Obama Bucks? Nothing racist about any of that. Nothing dodgy about people or groups who back big conservative shindigs talking about how bad desegregation was, lamenting the decline of the white race in America or candidates with “principled” opposition to civil rights laws.

          • William

            There was dirt with Whitewater and that is why the records were “lost” for two years. Yes, Bush ok the torture but at the time that is what was needed. We got the results and put a serious hurt on the Muslim terrorists. Domestic spying up Bush was nothing compared to what NSA is doing under Obama. Lest we forget how he is spying on Germany, France, UK, Mexico too…and they are not happy about it.

            Obama was not late to the party. He just has not morale character. Don’t forget Clinton got DOMA passed and bragged about it. Just like his welfare reform, which Obama hated and has done everything to overturn it.

            How about the pictures of Bush as Hitler? A movie company in the UK used a fake looking Bush head in one of their movies with little concern from the media.

            Desegregation? When was that an issue?…opposition to what civil rights laws? Obama passed his Obama care and gives big business a break while telling the individuals to pay up. Is that how laws should be applied? Reward the big business donors and tell individuals tough luck?

          • Ray in VT

            Got it. Torture and domestic spying is okay as long as it is good and necessary. Bush circumvented the FISA court, which, at this point Obama does not appear to have done, and we have always spied on our allies, and they have always spied on us. We’re just using new tools and got caught doing it.

            A lot has changed since DOMA passed. What does Clinton have to say about it today? I’ll take a guy who has come around to someone who still says that it’s not okay to be gay.

            I didn’t like Bush as Hitler. Comparing people who are not genocidal dictators to those who are not is a bad idea in my book. I do find some irony in the Obama Hitler images, given the racism of the Third Reich.

            So, my citing conservative opposition to things like desegregation is not valid, but you saying something about the left’s history bombings is somehow current events? As for currently, there have been a few current or recent GOP office holders who have not been big fans of civil rights laws, and there are some white nationalist groups that back CPAC.

          • William

            Bush used the FISA courts and Obama doubled down on NSA spying. Obama and Clinton said “we are going repair our image abroad”. how? by spying on our friends and making nice with our enemies (Russia reset).

            So you forgive Clinton but not Bush. Who turned the economy around after a terrorist attack and recession? Bush. How is Obama’s “turn around” working for us? How many millions of people have disappeared from the work force these past five years? 10 million.

            Who is not a fan of civil rights laws? It was the Republicans that stood up to Obama and said give individuals the same breaks as business community.

            White nationalist groups? Not exactly something I see as a big problem in the USA maybe Germany.

    • nj_v2

      Truth hurts, eh?

    • hennorama

      Fiscally_Responsible — I agree that Rep. Grayson’s email crossed the line, and that criticism of this is justified.

      Regardless of whether Grayson’s characterization of the “_ea Party” is true or not, his usage of this imagery was wrong, and two wrongs don’t make a right.

      As to the balance of your post, I’ll politely refrain from comment.

  • Ray in VT

    I don’t really see how the Afghan government can stand by itself if/when the international forces stop propping it up. If after a dozen years it is not capable of maintaining itself against the internal threats posed by the Taliban, then I don’t know if it even will, and having a neighbor like Pakistan, which is either unwilling or unable to effectively deal with the issue of militants basing themselves within their borders, certainly isn’t helping.

    • Jasoturner

      Perhaps our expectations are the problem. Perhaps Afghanistan is destined to be a confederation of tribes without an effective central government. Perhaps the idea of an effective central government is actually a cultural conceit we are unilaterally imposing on Afghanistan. Perhaps.

      • Ray in VT

        Perhaps. I suppose that one question that should be asked, like with Iraq, is what does “victory” look like? What are some reasonable expectations? I’m not sure, though, that any outcome aside from a hardline Islamic state is acceptable to the Taliban, although they have shown signs of willing to talk I just don’t think that they would, long term, stand by any sort of settlement that doesn’t put them back in the position that they occupied until late 2001. There was some pretty widespread dissatisfaction with that situation, but can those opposed to it hold something else together?

        • Jasoturner

          Another question we might as ourselves is, what does victory look like for Afghans? Our own interests are fairly obvious. Theirs not so much. Certainly they have no love of America or her drone-heavy intervention. Certainly the Taliban can sell a vision (if not necessarily the reality) of a less terrifying day to day existence, with justice meted out in a manner that is at least intelligible. Opposed to, say, having a bomb drop on top of you with no warning.

    • fun bobby

      that’s because the Taliban is the real government there. that part of Pakistan and Afghanistan are really tribal areas and unlikely to be very well controlled by any central authorities and much less likely to be controlled by any foreign occupiers

      • Ray in VT

        One would think that we would have learned that lesson long ago, especially after what the Soviets went through in the 1980s.

        • fun bobby

          not to mention alexander the frickin great

        • http://profiles.google.com/barry.kort Barry Kort

          What we learn from history is that we don’t learn from history.

          • Ray in VT

            Isn’t that the truth. I wonder if a part of it is a particular sort of arrogance that we have developed as a nation.

          • hennorama

            And that common sense isn’t.

  • fun bobby

    I wish the afghans would do what the Iraqis did and say that our troops would be subject to their courts. that got us out in a hurry. it would be great if we could escape the graveyard of empires. there is a lot of great mineral wealth there but its time to go

    • Ray in VT

      Maybe the Chinese can spend a bunch of blood and treasure promoting their interests there.

      • fun bobby

        that would lower the price of ipads

  • Coastghost

    Legalization and regulation of opium production in Afghanistan would do wonders for the local economy, one begins to imagine, and this seems to be one of the very few things that hasn’t been tried in attempting to bring stability to the country. The locals need an economy that works with as little criminal enterprise as possible: legalizing opium markets would begin to undermine the criminal participation that yields local corruption and political disaffection.

    • TELew

      And just what would the opium harvests be used for besides various illegal drugs?

      • Coastghost

        Various legal drugs, subject to proportional taxation.

        • TELew

          Will there be a sufficient market for these products, or will only selling them on the black market (illegal drugs) make them profitable?

          Please understand that I am seeking information rather than trying to refute you. I understand your point, and think it is sad that a country can only produce this kind of thing to make money. This also happens in many South American countries which produce coca leaves; it’s the only thing that really sells and allow them to not live as deeply in poverty. (And yes, such countries probably do have other “industries.” But these do not bring in a lot of money for the workers).

          • Coastghost

            If Afghans were (allowed) to set up their domestic market for opium poppy cultivation, Western democracies could then decide for themselves to accept the squeamishness that comes with legal heroin use if in fact it rather completely averts the squeamishness regularly expressed about warfare and drone strikes. I suspect, though, that domestic opium consumption in Afghanistan rivals domestic opium consumption in next-door Iran, which is on record of having the world’s highest rate of opium addiction (c. 3% of the Iranian population, chiefly in eastern Iran). Some enterprising British historian can probably tell us the history of the licit and illicit opium trade in Afghanistan over the past century or two.

          • TELew

            I’m sorry, but you lost me at “legal heroin use.” That really does not sound like a good idea to me, whether in Iran, Afghanistan, or western countries.

            Don’t get me wrong–I am all for measures helping heroin addicts to get off the stuff, which includes substituting other drugs (morphine–although it is addictive as well), as well as protecting such addicts from HIV transmission. But if producing more opium only leads to more use of something like heroin, it doesn’t sound like a truly viable solution to Afghanistan’s problem.

          • Coastghost

            Opium production can be subject to whatever kind of quarantine the US or UK or the EU or the UN deems: but some portion can legitimately go into a legitimate market through legal, licit regulation and taxation (it could be priced and taxed high as a commodity to discourage too widespread a use, but face facts: we would not have the rock ‘n’ roll culture we have today had it not been for heroin, and also face it: opium and heroin would never serve efficiently as a way to drain off excess human population, ever were we to promote heroin overdosing outright).
            I’m not even arguing necessarily for converting all or most opium into heroin, far from it: I do not advocate opium’s refinement necessarily. But we can begin looking at whether world opium production could possibly keep up (or to what extent it could keep up) with our global population of c. eight billion, I imagine the market would always be comparatively small or narrow even if largely self-regulated..

          • TELew

            Of course the opium dens in historic China and Chinese American communities testify to the wonderful nature of unrefined opium. (When the British forced the Chinese to open its ports to British opium, it largely destroyed China’s population. And it was brought to America by Chinese immigrants, who set up opium dens where people would waste their lives stoned and looking for the next fix. I assume these dens were largely eradicated many years ago, but I don’t know the history here.)

            Opium being used in legitimate drugs is one thing. But I am sure that for the most part there is already an adequate supply for this. I am skeptical that allowing its free production will do anything but flood the market, leaving “recreational” use (or perhaps “wreck” creational?) as the means by which the majority of the crop is consumed.

  • Shag_Wevera

    I just hope that from Vietnam to Afghanistan we’ve learned something. The uproar over Syria was a good start.

    • http://profiles.google.com/barry.kort Barry Kort

      What we’ve learned is that we are profoundly learning disabled.

    • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

      Lesson #1: no war based on lies.

      Lesson #2: no war based on ideology.

      • nj_v2

        Lesson #3: Conduct as much war as possible from a distance, using drones and secrecy to obfuscate killing of innocent people.

        • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

          Well, not really…

          What goes around, comes around. Can you imagine what happens if some country or group starts using drones where ever they want to? What if someone uses a drone to kill someone here in the US?

          Ditto for torture.

          • nj_v2

            I would have thought that the irony was obvious.

          • TFRX

            Tangent: Are we so sure that drones are “antiseptic” for even the pilots in our military who run them from afar?

            Isn’t there is a documented history of PTSD for bomber crews, flying high in the air over Vietnam, and wasn’t that PTSD unforeseen?

      • Roy-in-Boise

        Iraq was based on lies … not Afghanistan. Alas, this is reflective of the problem of basing war on lies …The electorate gets jaded.

  • Ellen Dibble

    Wasn’t it a drone over Iran, the far opposite side of Afghanistan, that was in the news several months ago? Either Iran pretended they had shot one down, perhaps in order to learn something from it, or that it had failed? What is the split between Shi’ia and Sunni in Afghanistan? Isn’t Pakistan more of an ally than Iran, when it comes to Afghanistan? How does that play out? All I’ve been able to glean is that Iran is a patchwork nation, not all Persian, and could fragment, giving over a part of itself to Pakistan. I haven’t heard that any Iranians have been hoping to be ruled from Kabul. But why do we hear about the interests of Delhi and Islamabad but not Tehran?

    • http://profiles.google.com/barry.kort Barry Kort

      Iran reportedly reverse engineered a US drone and build replicas of it, one of which they reportedly just gave to Russia. |

      • Ellen Dibble

        Interesting. The Iranian quest to be a nuclear power may mean that diplomacy runs on a different track than with a nonnuclear power, but in terms of weapons that are actually used, drones might be one. There is a link up top to an article about the report of Human Rights Watch or Amnesty International on drones and international law. If Iran uses drones… Russia, if they can do Sputnick, it seems like a step backward to be buying new technology from Iran.

    • hennorama

      Ellen Dibble — according to a somewhat old (Oct. 2009) Pew Research analysis titled “Mapping the Global Muslim Population”:

      Afghanistan has 3–4 million Shia Muslims, which is about 10 to 15 percent of the Muslim population in Afghanistan.

      And, according to the CIA World Factbook on Afghanistan (PAGE LAST UPDATED ON AUGUST 22, 2013):

      Religions:
      Sunni Muslim 80%, Shia Muslim 19%, other 1%

      http://www.pewforum.org/2009/10/07/mapping-the-global-muslim-population/

      https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/af.html

  • stephenreal

    These cats have been farming dirt for generations. They can go back to farming dirt. Either that or hook up with India.

  • Yar

    Was WWII won with the nuclear bomb or with the Marshall plan?

    • stephenreal

      it was won with a whole lot of murder and killing

      • Fiscally_Responsible

        I believe that Japan bombed Pearl Harbor in an unprovoked attack, which drew us into the war.

        • stephenreal

          You have an uncanny sense for the obvious.

    • Ray in VT

      Well, we would have won the war without the bomb. It just ended it faster, and the Marshall Plan certainly helped to create recovery and stability in post war Europe. The advantage in World War II, of course, is that we were dealing with states that could be fought, occupied and defeated.

      • Fiscally_Responsible

        How naive and uninformed you are on this subject.! We would have lost tens of thousands of additional soldiers trying to take island after island and eventually Japan. Dropping the bomb on Japan was an entirely justified and ultimately life saving step that spared the lives of those who were attempting to end the war by those who started it. Maybe Obama will let you accompany him on his next “Apologize To The World For America” tour.

        • Ray in VT

          Please tell me where I said anything that you said that I did. I would be more than willing to bet that I know more about World War II than you do, at least based upon some of the other idiotic statements you have made. What was Obama apology tour? Acknowledging that our country has had problems in the past that we are still struggling with. If you think that that is outrageous, then naive and uninformed would fit you very well.

          • Fiscally_Responsible

            I read between the lines of you post (“we would have won the war without the bomb”), that dropping the bomb was an unnecessary, unjustified act of belligerence on the part of the U.S. This is not a new argument and it sickens me every time I hear it. Japan started the war, was ruthless in their treatment of people (civilian and prisoners of war), and fought to the death to defend every square inch of land. As in taking other islands, we would have lost tens of thousands of additional soldiers to win the war. Yes, we would eventually have won the war, but at a much higher cost. Dropping the bomb on Japan was clearly justified and saved American lives. The fact that we had to drop two bombs before they surrendered showed how dedicated they were to their cause. The loss of innocent lives is unfortunate, but in this case, I would prefer it to be the aggressors than us.

          • Ray in VT

            There was no subtext to what I wrote, and what I wrote is true. We would have won the war without the bomb, and it is likely that not dropping the bomb would have cost more lives, given the fanaticism that the Japanese military had shown.

            There is some debate, though, in the historical community as to the absolute necessity of dropping the second bomb, and perhaps even the first, given the state of Japanese resources.

            Might they have continued without the first bomb? I think that it is very likely, although considering that we had pretty much eliminated the Japanese navy and air forces as effective fighting forces, continued hostilities need only have been costly in terms of casualties if we had indeed gone through with the plan of invading the home islands. The second may have been unnecessary, given the lack of time that they had to evaluate what had happened and what it meant.

  • James Patrick Dwyer Jr.

    I am a Vietnam vet, ten years in the Navy. Get out NOW.

    • stephenreal

      I bet you’re glad to get off the government dole

      • James Patrick Dwyer Jr.

        I’m still on it. I have service connected disabilities that occurred during the war. I didn’t get a deferment or go to Canada.

  • Coastghost

    Nobel Peace laureate Barack Obama charged with war crimes? Sub-Messiah Obama? Not a chance.

  • stephenreal

    Afghanistan is the escape plan for Pakistan in case of invasion from India. That’s why they support the Taliban. It’s their puppy created largely by them and supported by them and our good friends in the ISI.

  • stephenreal

    You know the ISI? The guys who harboured Bin Laden for more nuclear war brides from the United States.

  • John_in_VT

    Tom – How many US troops are still in Iraq – even after we ‘withdrew?’ What area(s) will continue to be the US base of operations in the region?

    • stephenreal

      the USS Nimitz.

  • stephenreal

    Thank God! We sent our boys up the Mong river to kill Colonel Kurtz. That was a crazy braze decision in my opinion.

  • Roy-in-Boise

    Unfortunately many Americans are out of touch with the war in Afghanistan and the military in general. The reasons for this are complex, including the all-volunteer- military combined with technology like drones. Inevitability due to our own domestic distractions, such as budget issues and the endless GOP hatred of our POTUS we will leave Afghanistan, and we will leave a a power vacuum. What will be will be, and frankly the long term implications of this are way is beyond the comprehension of most low-information American voters.

    • TFRX

      Unfortunately many Americans are out of touch with the war in
      Afghanistan and the military in general. The reasons for this are
      complex

      Col. Bob Bateman described it as “a military at war, not a country at war”.

  • stephenreal

    We have economic leverage over Pakistan like nobody’s business. We should use it.

  • stephenreal

    We fought the American Indians for two hundred years. We can outlast the Taliban.

    • Ellen Dibble

      I seem to be viewing one failed state after another. If failed states erupt with kidnapping, corruption, and various versions of aiming at the World Trade Center, or the Boston Marathon, or maybe the Pentagon, or a theater near you — we may “outlast” failed states, but at what cost? Eventually, a strategy for dealing with that “narrative” that wants to unwind the international world order seems to be required. (I’m not saying that is the Taliban goal, but they have harbored groups with that goal in the past.)

      • stephenreal

        Self destructive behavior whether it’s Columbine, Boston or Newtown is a mental health gun control issue while dealing with a 190 million Pakistanis is a complete different issue that a “narrative” can not encapsulate in one sentence.

        • Ellen Dibble

          Plenty of Pakistanis seem to have pretty much the same attitudes that I have, that many Americans have. Their “narrative” seems to me to be hobbled the same way the American narrative was hobbled by the native Americans. I can’t say I’m proud of the way we integrated (failed to integrate) that part of the American population in the process of coming into being.

          • stephenreal

            60% of Pakistan or so can not read.
            They were ruled by Islamist generals who fought wars against India.
            And even though Pakistan hates our guts.
            They still likes us more then we like our selves in all the polling.

          • Ellen Dibble

            More than we like ourselves? Who takes that poll? How much do I like the USA? I think Americans are well-trained in criticism of our government.
            I hope more Pakistanis can read soon. Let the cellphone and Google and Facebook proliferate, and they will want to be reading stuff right from their pockets. They do already, actually. I think it’s only a matter of time, and not that long.

  • Ellen Dibble

    I think there is a race, between the narratives that are more modern than those Mullah Omar promotes, and the Taliban. There has been an anti-Western undertow, it seems to me, since the Cold War, when the U.S. found it easier to ward off the USSR by propping up dictators than trying to “guide” democracies. But that is half a century old, that narrative. Israel is still part of that sense of outrage against the West. But I’m betting that a narrative will surface that is more effective than Vietnam-era military/diplomatic strategy.

    • stephenreal

      We were the first democracy/republic in thousands of years. Thee first. Remember. We’ve been fighting dictators and tin horns for many a year now.

  • stephenreal

    They are a corrupt society.

    We need to listen to the good people of Afghanistan.
    Find them.
    Let their dreams inspire US.

    And then we’ll finance them.
    We have the knowledge to help.

  • MarkVII88

    The big question re: Afghanistan is which side of the balance will tip the scale; the fiscal and human expense of propping-up and supporting govt. stability and security there or our American values and principles that would have us intervene in that country to help the people and protect our own security interests?

  • Bigtruck

    There is no negotiating with the Taliban. One can’t negotiate with zealots. Sound familiar?

    • brettearle

      The Tea Party is not the Taliban.

      I don’t like the Tea Party, any more than you do.

      But why spread the invective?

      Because the Tea Party spills venom, much more than we do, here, on the Left?

      Save for it for the next campaign.

      • Ray in VT

        Agreed, except for the save if for the next campaign.

        • brettearle

          Meaning?

          • Ray in VT

            That I’d rather not see it at all.

          • brettearle

            Given the Swift Boat malignancy that helped to decimate Kerry’s campaign–not to mention other destructive instances of the “Right Wing Attack Machine”–isn’t it time that the Donkey fights back fire-with-fire, in political campaigns…..as Obama did with his unfair campaign, regarding Romney, displacement, and Cancer?

            I did not like what Obama did. But in this atmosphere of Propaganda, what choice do we have?

            If you don’t shout them down, then the Bill O’Reilley’s will shout you down.

            What choice do we have, at this point?
            The Radical GOP Propaganda Virus–of Tea Partiers, Koch, T Boone Pickens–is relentless.

            They are NOT NOT going to back down.

            After decades of WATCHING THIS CRAP, since Reagan took office and Limbaugh came on the scene–and all of his CLONES, thereafter–I ask again…. what choice DO we have?

            You know I respect your comments. I’m asking you, sincerely.

            All’s Fair–it now seems–in Love and Politics.

          • Ray in VT

            Unfortunately I think that that is precisely the situation that people find themselves in. While I don’t care for it, what is the other option? I’d prefer not to see it, but if someone comes at me with something like that, then I am fairly likely to throw one back. Didn’t the Brown/Warren campaign keep it pretty clean. Maybe it just has to be on a race by race basis. I think that one of the problems is that making big, loud and oftentimes offensive statements gets one attention and contributions, so there is often a benefit to it rather than a detriment.

          • brettearle

            Brown went after Warren for her Affirmative-Action American-Indian Harvard Application maneuver.

            And he was relentless about it–to a FAULT.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            Has she weighed in on the Redskins controversy?

            Sorry it is off topic but I’m curious.

          • brettearle

            That’s why Bill O’Reilley is effective for many unthinking people.

            He’s a major Political Bully.

            It’s quite troubling, is it not, that a person. of his low caliber, can hold a major Media Seat, in front of households, across the country?

            I believe FOX’s ratings aren’t overflowing (I’d have to check). But still……He’s been around for a fairly long time, now.

            What it says about our country is something somewhat sick.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            Do you watch O’Reilly?

            I’m not a big fan and he likes the sound of his own voice but….

            What is your criticism exactly? Other than his existence every weeknight sickens you.

            I’d hate to see what you think of Chris Matthews or Al Sharpton.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            “Obama did with his unfair campaign, regarding Romney, displacement, and Cancer?

            I did not like what Obama did. But in this atmosphere of Propaganda, what choice do we have?”

            Nice to see you acknowledge that the Obama campaign was a smear campaign. But did Romney do anything in kind that deserved that response?

          • brettearle

            “At least I don’t have to present my birth certificate to anyone.”

            That’s not a direct quote. But the GIST is the same. You can look it up.

            The 2012 GOP Presidential Candidate made SUCH A COMMENT on the campaign trail–before a LARGE crowd.

            Of course, if you’re a Birther–and maybe you’re not–than you’re as bad as Koch and Corsi.

            That’s just one instance, off the top of my head.

            I consider that to be an OUTRAGEOUS COMMENT.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            OMG — it was a joke. Obama joked about it numerous times too.

          • brettearle

            Sorry Buster.

            You lose.

            You DON’T do that sort of joking, on the campaign trail when you are running for the highest office in the world.

            The Birther issue, at the time, was FRONT and CENTER, as a political propaganda issue.

            AND WHAT ROMNEY DID WAS TO ADD FULL, AND UTTER, FUEL TO THE FIRE.

            The problem with guys like you, IS THAT WHEN WE ADMIT FAULTS ON THE LEFT YOU ARE UNABLE TO RECIPROCATE AND ADMIT YOUR OWN FAULTS.

            YOU WILL DO NOTHING BUT COME UP WITH RATIONALES.

            BUT I DIDN’T.

            I SAID THAT OBAMA’S POLITICAL AD WAS WRONG.

            BUT YOU LACK THE POLITICAL CHARACTER TO POINT OUT YOUR OWN FAULTS.

            THAT IS WHAT IS AT FAULT WITH MANY IN THE RIGHT AND RADICAL RIGHT TODAY.

            THAT IS PRECISELY THE SICKENING PROBLEM.

            Do have the GUTS to admit it now?

            I doubt it………

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            Read my lips. It was a joke.

            There are plenty of things to complain about with the right and GOP but this isn’t a good example.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            I have a completely different take on the birther controversy. It exposed that we have NO process to check if a candidate meets the requirements for President.

            The controversy was created because of that lack of process AND that Obama withheld his birth documents for an incredibly long time. This still hasn’t been explained.

            There is more rigor involved in signing up for little league than checking the eligibility of President.

            This has nothing to do with Obama. It would apply to Ted Cruz, John McCain, George Romney, etc. Because the wagons were circled with Obama nothing was resolved regarding clarity on the ‘rules’.

          • Ray in VT

            How’s Cruz doing with the birthers? They’re all over him, right? That Freedom Watch guy at the DC rally said that Obama can’t be President because:

            “If born in Kenya or somewhere else outside of American territory, Obama would be ineligible to run for and serve as president. And, even if born in America, Obama does not qualify as a “natural born citizen” under our Constitution, since he was not, as also required under our law to be president”

            http://www.wnd.com/2012/12/how-to-stop-an-ineligible-president/

            Given that, I wonder how he feels about having shared the stage (rather figuratively) with Cruz, who seems to have Presidential ambitions.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            I’m confused. WND is the arbiter for Presidential qualifications?

            My question still stands.

            What is the process to verify eligibility? Courts? Which one? I heard about law suits brought before Obama released his birth certificate — they were rejected because of no standing? No standing? Really? Every citizen has standing to make sure the Constitution is upheld.

            It seems that despite the wasted ink on the birther nonsense that no clarity was gained.

          • Ray in VT

            No, but it a home space for cranks and nutjobs in my opinion. I just wonder if the birthers are going after Cruz, who was clearly born in Canada, and if not, then why not.

            Part of the problem may be that there is no solid definition of natural born citizen. The primary problem with the lawsuit would seem to be that Obama was born in America, and is, by the pretty widely accepted standard, a natural born citizen. I think that there is a problem if any crackpot could potentially tie up the results for our highest office.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            I think you are making my point. There is no process like there is in little league.

            Why can’t we have a simple process where candidates turn in their birth certificates to the FEC when they declare their candidacy? Checking eligibility AFTER a large percentage of citizens are invested in (or against) the candidate is not a good idea. It makes us look like a banana republic.

            Let me postulate a hypothetical using Obama. What IF Obama could not produce his birth certificate AND we later discover that his mother had renounced her citizenship before he was born. It could create big problems. I’m just suggesting having a process could avoid potential problems.

            I can’t believe calling for a process could be considered controversial.

          • Ray in VT

            I’m not opposed to a process, I just think that it is highly suspicious as to when this has reared its head, especially considering who is still flying that banner.

          • Ray in VT

            How about lining himself up with a bunch of idiots who questioned the President’s place of birth, his eligibility to be President, his religion?

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            Silly. None of these unnamed people were close associates like Bill Ayers or Reverend Wright. Or marrying someone who was “never proud of her country” until her husband was nominated.

            And Romney never held any of those positions.

            And Obama picked as a running mate someone who blessed Obama as a legitimate candidate because he was “clean and articulate”. No one blinked.

            As far as I could tell Romney ran an honorable campaign. Obama didn’t. Obama’s campaign was effective but I believe it damaged the country. Romney’s campaign was not effective and SHOULD have been much better. There was no need to be nasty to beat Obama. All they needed to do was clone the guy who showed up at Debate #1 and run as a DC outsider to clean up the corruption in Washington.

          • Ray in VT

            Romney ran out people like Trump and Sununu who said some fairly offensive stuff. Ah, Wright and Ayers. One former radical who never got charged with anything, and another guy who made some pretty radical comments, including many about how America has long shafted minorities. Are you referring to this quote from the First Lady: “For the first time in my adult lifetime, I’m really proud of my
            country, and not just because Barack has done well, but because I think
            people are hungry for change.” I don’t have a problem with that. I can think of plenty of things that my country has done, some in my adult lifetime, that have made me fairly unproud.

            Of course Romney did himself a big disservice by having derided a huge portion of the American public. It’s just good that someone recorded it an let it see the light of day so that voters could see what he thought of them.

            Imagine if Obama spoke in a dialect or didn’t know how to write in cursive. I’m sure that he would have gotten a really warm reception from certain segments of the population.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            For the record: I think we should cut spouses wide slack in remarks so I don’t really hold her to that comment.

            Sometimes campaign surrogates say things they regret. This is true on both sides but that is different than a ‘smear’ campaign.

            Trump did campaign for Romney but wasn’t part of the campaign. Sunnunu was part of the campaign but I believe his most controversial comment was when he quoted Obama that he said his biggest fault is that he is ‘lazy’.

          • Ray in VT

            I also think that spouses should be cut some slack. Perhaps they should stick to some prepared remarks and not go off topic.

            As for Sunnunu, the thing that I found most offensive was his “Obama needs to learn how to be American” comment:

            http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2012/10/26/1094491/john-sununus-history-of-racial-remarks-about-obama/

            That’s pretty funny coming from a guy who was born in Havana. I took it as part of the sort of “real America” stuff that I dislike so much.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            Never knew Sununu was born in Cuba. But his father was born in Boston.

            Well we know that Obama is a socialist and that isn’t being a “real American” ;)

            I can see how you could find that offensive just as I find the 1% class divide comments against Romney offensive.

            Notice how the thinkprogress author assumed Sununu’s comments were racist. Sununu’s comments were about ideology and character not race.

          • Ray in VT

            Considering how much conservative economic policies have favored the accumulation of wealth in that particular part of the population, as well as the ridicule that many poor people have faced from the that party, I don’t think that it is unfair. Just take a look at the 47% comments. If you’re going to use that sort of language against people while, rather generally as a party, seeking to pare back the social safety net and give a tax cut to the rich, then you ought to get criticized.

            I think that race could be an issue. Look how much Obama gets described as being lazy by people, despite vacationing far less than his predecessor. I think that that in part plays on the stereotype of black people being lazy.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            Do you really believe Sununu was playing to racial stereotypes? Does Sununu have any history of racial prejudice? He was attacking Obama’s character and he pointed to evidence like skipping out on a large number of security briefings.

            Did anyone call Obama lazy before he called himself lazy to Diane Sawyer? I’m not sure.

            You can dispute the merits of Sununu’s character attacks but there is scant evidence they were racial.

          • Ray in VT

            Perhaps, but perhaps not. The main thrust of my original point, at least on this particular issue, was that a Romney campaign spokesman said some pretty charged/offensive things about Obama. I merely cited what he said. I was not seeking to attribute a motivation to them.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            The ThinkProgress dude did assert that they were all racial. Not you. I get it.

            And I can’t believe you neglected to bring up when Sununu continually said that Obama had “no core”. And he did it very early in the race… sort of the first shot.

            So I guess you do have a point after all.

          • Ray in VT

            I pasted the thinkprogress link because it was the first thing that came up when I googled Sunnune Obama. I am curious. If you do that same google search, do you see that as the first result? Anyways, I just wanted a link to a few of the things that he said.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            I understand you aren’t making the same racial charges as the TP dude.. Not everyone can be as nutty as Chris Matthews.

            Yes, that link came up first. Of course, I had recently clicked on it so I’m not sure if that changes the ‘experiment’.

            btw – I blame the media for not calling out Axelrod for the ‘no core’ nonsense. They have something of an obligation to call him out especially when they are giving him free airtime. The certainly called out Sununu.

          • Ray in VT

            That might have changed it. I was just wondering because of how Google can show different results based upon search/click history. Thanks for checking.

            Wasn’t that sort of “no core” thing an issue for some in the GOP/Tea Party, though? There were some pretty sharp knives in the GOP primary regarding Governor Romney and some of the positions that he had previously taken? Maybe not those exact words, but questions about where he really stood.

          • WorriedfortheCountry

            Yeah, it was a rough primary. It should have been a cake walk. He was running on Tea Party principles but appeared to ignore the Tea Party. Content with always being in second place he galvanized a majority opposition and walked right into the predictable circular firing squad. He should ‘sue’ his political advisers for malpractice.

        • brettearle

          What I’m getting at, here, Ray–although I guess you already know–is that I’m trying to eliminate the radical demonization of public officials and political parties, in the US, by having them compared to political concepts, political groups and public officials that are stereotypical pariahs:

          Stalin
          socialists
          communists
          Hitler
          Islamic fundamentalists
          Al Qaeda
          Taliban
          Mussolini
          Milosevic
          Nazis

          etc.

          • TFRX

            If you took that away from Newt and his disciples, wouldn’t they be just about mute?

          • brettearle

            Just think…Newt would be Mute.

          • Ray in VT

            That’s sort of what I figured. I find that one of the rather nice things about the politics here in Vermont is that there isn’t too much of that sort of thing. By and large the candidates seem to get together and talk about things in a pretty civil way.

          • J__o__h__n

            Religious extremists are very similar. Comparing them is not demonization.

          • brettearle

            I disagree.

            It’s denotations, that I am referring to. The suggestions of irrationality.

            The Tea Partiers will not become suicide bombers, for example. They don’t believe in a Tea Party caliphate for the world.

            And for you to suggest, otherwise, is for you to portray a satire or a parody, without

            realizing it.

            This kind of demonization spews nothing but Propaganda crap.

          • J__o__h__n

            I didn’t say the Tea Party or terrorists but most religious extremists do want to impose their extreme religious views on others.

          • Ray in VT

            I think that that is pretty generally true.

          • brettearle

            Many Islamic religious extremists support terrorism or seek a world-wide caliphate domination.

            The Tea Party does not approve of terrorism nor do they seek world wide domination.

            Is the point.

          • Ray in VT

            Well, I think that there is a difference between our brand of religious extremists and the Taliban types. We do hear talk about wanting the government or its policies to be biblically based and all of that, and as much as I find such positions to be distasteful, they’re not exactly calling for people to be stoned to death for being gay or for being a non-believer or something.

          • J__o__h__n

            Not yet. Secular society keeps them in check.

          • TELew

            Actually Ray, they are not openly calling for a gay person or non-believers to be put to death. But there is a movement within the Religious Right inspired by R.J. Rushdoony that does just that. And even though most RR people would not claim (and probably don’t even know who RJR is) to be influenced by RJR, in fact his ideas have filtered through more “respectable” RR “thinkers” to be integrated into the mainstream RR.

            Of course, not all or perhaps even a majority of RR accept the idea of a death penalty for such people. But a significant group would enact the Levitical codes if in power. Fortunately, that is highly unlikely, but it is not impossible.

            RJR’s ideas include homeschooling and gaining power by first getting elected to various local positions, then to state offices, and eventually to national offices. Pat Robertson appropriated this strategy in the 1990s. To a large part this is why the Republican Party is so far to the right these days.

          • J__o__h__n

            And don’t forget the anti-gay laws American Christian extremists are working to enact in Africa.

          • TELew

            Absolutely. Thanks to Rachel Maddow for exposing this.

          • Ray in VT

            Didn’t Jeff Sharlot talk about that in The Family?

          • J__o__h__n

            yes

          • Ray in VT

            I’m not saying that such lunatics don’t exist in our country. Heck I met a guy once who thought that race-based slavery wasn’t such a bad idea. My rather general point, though, was that such extremism isn’t really a prominent factor in American religious fundamentalism, and I must admit that I have not heard of R.J. Rushdoony.

          • TELew

            Ray (nice to chat with you again, by the way), I would not characterize these people as lunatics. They are a strong, active, and influential political force within the Religious Right and the Republican Party. Sarah Palin and Ted Cruz have strong connections to them.

            As for Rushdoony, he was an emigrant from Armenia who wrote in the 1960s-1980s. His son-in-law Gary North also contributed heavily, and took over the movement after his death. I believe they were fundamentalist Presbyterians, but I don’t know how much influence they had on other fundamentalist Presbyterians. They are most closely associated with the concept of Dominionism, which basically seeks to gain control over the American government with the goal of establishing a Christian nation, which would reinstitute the laws found in Leviticus. Today the New Apostolic Reform movement is heavily based on their ideas. But like I said, members of the more “mainstream” Religious Right have been influenced by these ideas, even though they don’t know the original source of these ideas.

            And don’t forget, all fundamentalist Christians believe that the events in the book of Revelation will come true not in a figurative sense but a literal sense. Rushdoony outlines one strategy to accomplish this.

          • Ray in VT

            It’s good to talk to you again, TELew. Lunatic may be an improper term. I’d have to look to see if the full moon is unduly affecting them. ;)

            I’m sort of familiar with the idea of dominionism. By and large, though, it does seem that that sort of position is still fairly fringe within that arena, and I think that to promote such a position might win one some local election or votes, but one would get eviscerated in a large scale race. I don’t want to suggest that one should not merely dismiss such talk. I don’t think that the skinheads could pass a political agenda friendly to them, but they’re real, and they’re not going away. Holocaust deniers seem to persist no matter how many facts are aligned against them. I guess that it is just a matter of combating extremism, especially if it tends towards violence.

          • TELew

            Ray, I think you underestimate the extent of this movement within the Religious Right.

            A man on the corner who is mocked for shouting outrageous things is a lunatic. A man who writes the same things with thousands of readers is the leader of a movement. Men who read his stuff and recycle it as their own ideas makes that man an influential thinker.

            I think a better analogy for the more radical members of the Religious Right than holocaust deniers or skinheads is the Tea Party, many (most?) of whom are Religious Right people.

            And while the Religious Right will probably never be able to capture the presidency (unless they utilize a stealth candidate), they are quite capable of capturing control of a state in which most of the population is conservative Christian. Look at Texas and Virginia.

          • Ray in VT

            I do find it interesting where there is an overlap between the Tea Party, which espouses personal liberty, and religious conservatives. I think that Ken Cuccinelli is a example. How does one say that one wants government out of our lives but support the criminalization of consensual sex acts between adults?

          • TELew

            I think the key here is that religious conservatives do not define concepts such as personal liberty in the same way others do. For them, personal liberty is more akin to being free to worship God (not just any deity, but specifically the conservative Christian God) as well as engage in free enterprise. Anything that violates “God’s law” (such as consensual sex acts between anyone besides a married man and woman) is not a matter of personal liberty. It is an issue of enslavement to Satan.

            Now in reality many conservative Christians do not necessarily hold such a narrow position. But I think they would acknowledge it as the “truth.”

          • TFRX

            It’s all about the mediascape. There’s just something messed up about how the coverage is all “the right has such energy” and when that “yard dog” poops on the carpet, there are no ends of stories that “well, they really don’t mean that“.

            See Virginia, where Cooch wants to outlaw oral gratification. He’s the “normal” R in a swing state.

          • TELew

            Yes, Virginia is an excellent example of where the Religious Right managed to get its candidates into power.

            I am a Southerner who grew up as a member of an evangelical denomination, as well as in a largely fundamentalist environment (not my church or family, but society at large). I believe everything they say, because they mean it.

            I think the media, which is predominantly northeastern/beltway in perspective, has problems understanding these people because they do not have real experience with them. Members of the RR often say such outrageous things that people cannot believe it. So they attribute their motives to making money, etc.

            No, they are true believers. What they want most in the world is for Jesus to return to wage the Battle of Armageddon. And they view anything contradicting or not agreeing with their faith as a Satanic attempt to undermine their faith. Indeed, they see world events as evidence of a Satanic conspiracy, of good versus evil, of Christ versus Satan.

            Really. These are their true beliefs.

      • Bigtruck

        The Taliban wasn’t the Taliban till the good people stayed quiet and it fester.

        • brettearle

          Sir, I think that you have ignored the political polls in our country, in recent weeks.

          • Bigtruck

            No I did not ignore the polls. I also did not ignore the fact that Senator Cruz got an 8 minute standing ovation in Texas for shutting down the government and costing the American taxpayers billions of dollars.
            Tell the Afghans not to worry about the Talibs because the polls show that the majority of Afghans do not support the Taliban

          • brettearle

            You are equating Afghanistan’s political system with our own.

            If that isn’t Irrational, then it’s tragically Naive.

            When you blow things FAR out of proportion, like you are doing, then you become part of the problem–instead of being part of the solution.

          • Bigtruck

            No of course I am not equating our political systems. I’m using your polling logic and equating human beings.

          • brettearle

            The Tea Party may become History–even as early as 2016. Is the Point about the POLLS.

            The government shut down, as far as public opinion is concerned, is about to do the Tea Party in.

            Is the point, Sir.

            There’s no need to “rein the TP in,” via alarmist worries, such as your own.

            It’s already a fait accomplis, that they are through or, at least, as marginalized as they’ve ever been.

        • brettearle

          The Tea Party may become History–even as early as 2016. Is the Point about the POLLS, Sir.

          The government shut down, as far as public opinion is concerned, is about to do the Tea Party in.

          Is the point, Sir.

  • stephenreal

    Does not the word “taliban” mean student in Pashtu?

  • stephenreal

    Does not the Afghan civil war go back for forty years?

  • stephenreal

    Afghanistan (CIA Worldfactbook)

    Pashtun 42%, Tajik 27%, Hazara 9%, Uzbek 9%, Aimak 4%, Turkmen 3%, Baloch 2%, other 4%

    0-14 years: 42.6% (male 6,733,097/female 6,520,116)
    15-24 years: 21.9% (male 3,479,696/female 3,346,154)
    25-54 years: 29.1% (male 4,623,203/female 4,440,635)
    55-64 years: 3.8% (male 585,629/female 605,018)
    65 years and over: 2.5% (male 360,395/female 414,134) (2013 est.)

    Median age:total: 17.9 years

  • James Patrick Dwyer Jr.

    I hope we have learned that you cannot fight wars on the cheap. When you commit military forces it must be with overwhelming force, or do NOT commit them. Period.

    • stephenreal

      Or as MacArthur said of “classic military blunders” in a testimony to the US Congress “never get involved in a land war in Asia”.

      • James Patrick Dwyer Jr.

        I totally agree. Our army is about half the size as it was during Vietnam, I am a veteran of that conflict. We do not have the forces to fight a land war anymore. Stay out of them.

    • TFRX

      I’m genuinely asking, seeing as you’re a veteran, do you get the sense that there is anyone in Afghanistan with the authority to surrender to a Western military force?

      • James Patrick Dwyer Jr.

        I don’t think there is.

    • harverdphd

      Well said, chief…we should have toasted Hanoi, Baghdad, and Afghan’s food and water….too late now…..

  • http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/ Neil Blanchard

    Stephen Biddle sounds like he is a level headed guy, and he he seems to have a realistic assessment of the situation in Afghanistan.

    I hope those making decisions about our troops are listening.

  • Ellen Dibble

    With one minute left, Stephen Biddle left us with several repetitions that we need to do our homework, in preparation for any kind of possible negotiated departure, that homework being diminishing the corruption in the Afghan government, the level of predation upon the vulnerable by the patron class (those in power and their hangers-on/clients/supporters). If that level of predation is not reduced, eventually the population will vote for the only other choice, the only choice that is persistently honest, which is the Taliban, in spite of persistently rating 10 to 15 percent in the polls. What Biddle did not say was how that homework of America somehow ridding the Afghan government of corruption might work. Who did he think needs to handle that homework assignment? Who did he think was listening?

  • MadMarkTheCodeWarrior

    Bush indeed has a lot to answer for . He squandered the good will and liberation of Afghanistan by 1) diverting resources from Afghanistan to Iraq, giving the Taliban a lot of time to regroup and 2) supported a corrupt government which over time has stolen so much land and disenfranchised so many people that it galvanized resistance to and fostered hatred of US, helping Taliban recruit more fighters.

    Now we are seeing the results of a long game playing out. Shortsighted gains in exchange for long term failure. Bush, Rumsfeld & Cheney… Geniuses of military strategy and nation building!

    • WorriedfortheCountry

      Does Obama have anything to answer for during his 4 years 9 months as commander in chief?

      • fun bobby

        are you suggesting people have died on Obamas watch besides when he killed bin laden?

        • WorriedfortheCountry

          Where’s code pink when you really need them?

          • thequietkid10

            They’re still around, it’s just that suddenly for some unknown reason (can’t quite put my finger on it)……people have stopped covering them.

      • MadMarkTheCodeWarrior

        Just sayin’ Obama didn’t take us into Afghanistan or Iraq. And he certainly didn’t screw it up. Can we complain that he hasn’t extricated us as fast as we would like? Certainly a valid position. But Bush broke it and left us one hell of a mess to clean up and now based upon concerns about the long term effects of pulling out quickly versus slowly our troops are supporting a protracted exit.

        Don’t go blaming the fire fighters for the consequences of the fire started by the pyromaniac…

        And lest we forget that Bush could have simply bidded his time and hunted down bin laden with the drones that we had back in’03 and saved countless lives, pain and suffering and trillions of dollars.

        • WorriedfortheCountry

          It was curious that your original post didn’t hold Obama to account for ANYTHING.

          There is plenty to complain about Bush. However, blatantly partisan attacks aren’t helpful — especial when critiquing the war effort.

          Why not concentrate on decisions the current commander in chief made in the recent past and plans to make in the near future? A tad more relevant — wouldn’t you say?

          Despite my dislike for Obama’s domestic policies I try to analyze his decisions as commander in chief without a partisan lens. Granted, it isn’t easy. The situation in Afghanistan is difficult and I feel for all the troops and would hate to see their sacrifice squandered.

          “Green-On-Blue, Fade To Black: Are Insider Attacks Drawing Down In Afghanistan?”

          http://www.ibtimes.com/green-blue-fade-black-are-insider-attacks-drawing-down-afghanistan-1120935

    • Markus6

      This is one reason why we’re in the mess we’re in. How long has Bush been out of office? And how many billions are we still spending there?

      My guess is you’re right about Bush, but nothing, absolutely nothing about the current commander in chief.

      We really are dopes.

    • William

      The huge number of civilians killed by Obama via his drones has turned the people in Afghanistan and Pakistan against us.

  • WorriedfortheCountry

    Corruption and waste in Afghanistan….

    “Inspector General: Gov’t Partner Paid $500 Per Gallon of Gas in Afghanistan”

    http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/inspector-general-govt-partner-paid-500-gallon-gas-afghanistan_764594.html

    • ExcellentNews

      It’s ok Worried… that money ends in the offshore accounts of crony contractors and oil despots who support mostly the Republicans. Eventually, some of it will trickle down to their loyal shills…

  • ExcellentNews

    “How the Taliban with 20% of support can overthrow the Afghan government?” That’s a naive question, Mr. Ashbrook. How can our own Tea Party (funded by a handful of billionaires and supported by 15% of fundamentalist nuts) undermine and sabotage the American government?

ONPOINT
TODAY
Apr 24, 2014
Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, left, talks with Sen. Ed Hernandez, D-Covina at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif., Monday, April 21, 2014. Hernandez proposed a constitutional amendment that would ask voters to again allow public colleges to use race and ethnicity when considering college applicants. The proposal stalled this year after backlash from Asian Americans. (AP)

California as Exhibit A for what happens when a state bans affirmative action in college admissions. We’ll look at race, college and California.

Apr 24, 2014
A Buddhist monk lights the funeral pyre of Nepalese mountaineer Ang Kaji Sherpa, killed in an avalanche on Mount Everest, during his funeral ceremony in Katmandu, Nepal, Monday, April 21, 2014.  (AP)

A Sherpa boycott on Everest after a deadly avalanche. We’ll look at climbing, culture, life, death and money at the top of the world.

RECENT
SHOWS
Apr 23, 2014
Attendees of the 2013 Argentina International Coaching Federation meet for networking and coaching training. (ICF)

The booming business of life coaches. Everybody seems to have one these days. Therapists are feeling the pinch. We look at the life coach craze.

 
Apr 23, 2014
In this Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012, file photo, Chet Kanojia, founder and CEO of Aereo, Inc., shows a tablet displaying his company's technology, in New York. Aereo is one of several startups created to deliver traditional media over the Internet without licensing agreements. (AP)

The Supreme Court looks at Aereo, the little startup that could cut your cable cord and up-end TV as we’ve known it. We look at the battle. Plus: a state ban on affirmative action in college admissions is upheld. We’ll examine the implications.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
The Week In Seven Soundbites: April 18, 2014
Friday, Apr 18, 2014

Holy week with an unholy shooter. South Koreans scramble to save hundreds. Putin plays to the crowd in questioning. Seven days gave us seven sounds.

More »
Comment
 
Our Week In The Web: April 18, 2014
Friday, Apr 18, 2014

Space moon oceans, Gabriel García Márquez and the problems with depressing weeks in the news. Also: important / unnecessary infographics that help explain everyone’s favorite 1980′s power ballad.

More »
Comment
 
Some Tools And Tricks For College Financial Aid
Thursday, Apr 17, 2014

Some helpful links and tools for navigating FAFSA and other college financial aid tools.

More »
Comment