Friday, December 01, 2006

Today, I Have Only Questions

What's Happened to Our Original Mission?
In Riga (Latvia), NATO leaders agreed Wednesday to come to each other's aid in emergencies anywhere in Afghanistan, but their summit failed to muster significant reinforcements for operations in Taliban strongholds.

Only the Poles kicked in sizable additional contribution. President Lech Kaczynski did not mention names when he observed,
The summit did not have the character of a major breakthrough. Not all countries showed the same level of determination.
The critique by David Bercuson, a military analyst at the University of Calgary, was that
The political leadership of NATO clearly does not believe that this mission is important enough to commit the resources necessary for success . . . NATO is failing the test in Afghanistan. And if it fails the test in Afghanistan, I don't think there can be any consideration for NATO doing anything else.
The Canadians feel the brunt of the bloodletting in Afghanistan has fallen on their 2,300 soldiers in Kandahar. The inaction by NATO leaders in Riga mean they will keep fighting and dying without reinforcements in the province that is the Taliban's heartland. A retired Canadian major-general, Lewis MacKenzie, says NATO needs many more soldiers in Afghanistan to keep up the pressure on the Taliban militants.
We've got to dig in and protect the area we've taken from the bad guys. Our guys are kind of pinned to the ground and can't exploit success. . . . I think everyone can deduce an emergency means that those of us in the south are in danger and need help . . . Unless some large number of nations get off their butts … and get down to Southern Afghanistan and augment our troops, then the mission is threatened. 30,000 more are needed.
What about the Afghanistan mission in general? General Joseph Ralston, former Supreme Allied Commander in Europe from 2000-2003, thinks it is in doubt, up for grabs.
Events in Afghanistan are reaching a critical juncture, and European politics and perceptions as well as US commitments in Iraq may prevent NATO from getting the assets necessary to ensure victory. . . As a result, NATO has become an alliance of unclear political purpose and lacking military performance, as currently evident in Afghanistan. It cannot go on much longer in this way.
How did we get to where we are?

The attacks on America of 911 triggered Article V in NATO's Charter:
The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defence recognized by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area.
Recall the mood in 2001 and 2002? When NATO countries were falling over themselves to offer troops to fight with the Americans in Afghanistan? But Bush turned them down, regarding European soldiers as potential nuisances who might complicate the battlefield. We know now, the Neocons were saving NATO for their pet project elsewhere.

When that project was launched - Bush's un-provoked, unnecessary, largely unilateral invasion and unplanned occupation of Iraq (UULUIUOI) - the alliance openly split, and has never really come together since. Because they wouldn't play our football game in the Baghdad Bowl, Rumsfeld dissed them as "Old Europe". Remember that?

Is that why at Riga this week, Germany, Italy and Spain made it clear that their troops would remain in the north, far from the fighting? And France?

NATO is in Afghanistan because the attacks on the USA of 9-11 triggered Article V. (All for one and one for all.) Why has the ardour of NATO members cooled? Could it be that now our USA is using only a fraction of its fighting forces in Afghanistan? Could it be that rest of our military assets are being squandered on a frivolous adventure elsewhere, completely irrelevant to the 9-11 attacks?

It was us Americans who were attacked by Osama bin Laden. I can't believe I've been that inattentive but I have yet to see any European or Canadian openly complain that they have been left to pull American chestnuts out of the fire in Afghanistan.

Why is that?

31 Moderated Comments:

Blogger DB Cooper said...

But Bush and Blair said everything's going swimmingly, right? We have no reason not to take their word for it, right?

12/01/2006 07:41:00 AM  
Blogger Indicted Plagiarist said...

At Riga, in a veiled criticism of 'Old Europe', Bush re-interpreted Art V (the principle that an attack on one member was an attack on all):

'This principle holds true whether the attack is on home soil or on our forces deployed on a mission abroad.'

I take that to mean that he hasn't given up on getting NATO to pull our chestnuts out of Iraquagmire.

12/01/2006 08:01:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A column by someone writting under the name of Spengler for the Asia Times Online has speculated several times that Europe has no real reason to threaten their security at home with respect to their growing Moslem populations by going out on latter-day Crusades. His overall thesis is that Christain Europe is dieing and will be replaced by a Moslem culture no later than the start of the 22nd century.
Is his thesis true? Somepart of it may be but since Bush has completely FUBARed everything else in the Middle East I really would not blame them for not wanting to get tangled up any further in any mess he caused or might create.

12/01/2006 08:51:00 AM  
Blogger Cyberotter said...

We have no desire to do anything in Afghanistan. You might want to read a few things and understand why.

Here

And Here

Just a little background info

12/01/2006 09:15:00 AM  
Anonymous pekka said...

Have we entered to a period of time when all the political/military decisions are made by people that are the least suitable for the job? It is driving me absolutely nuts to see this hair brained excution of wars and conflicts combined with a "diplomacy" that remindns me about what kids do in school yards. Afghanistan is already way down in the tubes and unwinnable. No suprise there.

There are good thing to report from Afghanistan, though. The poppy crop was a record breaker. Add to this, that newly equipped Army and police are doing a heck of a job getting it out of the country with a minimum of delay, and the mayor of Kabul, Kharazi, is staying away from the harms way. The members of the army and police are making a lot of dough with their protection racket and Kabul's "city council" gets their richly deserved cut on top of an occassional raid to the national kitty. Things couldn't be better for Taliban either with all that money coming in and ever-increasing support by the people, harts and minds if you will. As the matter of fact, things haven't looked this good since the Ruskies left. God is great!

12/01/2006 01:14:00 PM  
Blogger skip sievert said...

NO doubt some of the officials have started personel harems. Cash is king and god is great.

Good breakdown of info. Vigilante.

12/01/2006 02:39:00 PM  
Blogger skip sievert said...

Vigilante I have a question.

Your supposed party is now in power. The Democrats, correct.?

You mention Iraq in this post also. Now if I am not mistaken if the Democrats were really interested in getting out of Iraq , they need only vote as a majority to cut off the funds for being there.
Correct.?

Is that not correct.? Could you please tell me when this will become a reality.?
With a majority vote that the Democrats have, isn`t withdrawal from Iraq a simple vote now. ?

If the Democrats are for real, would not the Democrats now do that as the first order of business.?

Or could it be that the Democrats also represent the same power structure of corporate control.?

12/01/2006 03:00:00 PM  
Blogger GetaLife-ReadUrNews said...

BEACHBUM & CYBERTROTTER:

Are you saying our European allies don't want to fight them 'over there' because they're afraid of bombs and drugs showing up in suitcases 'over here'?

What a bunch of pansies!

12/01/2006 05:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No getalife the writer of the SPENGLER column is saying that the Europeans will not get deeply involve themselves because they now have sizable Moslem populations that could bring terrorism to them. I do feel that his point has some merit but I mainly feel that they are not getting deeply involved because Bush has made such a mess of both Afghanistan and Iraq that neither has much of a chance of a happy ending.

12/01/2006 07:08:00 PM  
Blogger HILLBLOGGER & Hillblogger Jr said...

Vigilante,

Thought I'd post a portion of a NATO press communique in mid-November here:

Mr Bert Koenders, a member of the Dutch parliament, told a meeting of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly (NATO-PA) the mission was in trouble but could still be saved.

“The overall security situation has deteriorated significantly. Insurgents’ attacks in the southern and eastern regions that border Pakistan led this summer to be the bloodiest since the fall of the Taliban,” he told a meeting of the NATO-PA’s Political Committee.

“Moreover terrorist activities including suicide bombings which were previously unseen in Afghanistan have increased significantly,” he added. He noted that 3,700 people had been killed since January 2006 and that although many of these were insurgents the “frequency of terrorist attacks had increased four fold”.

Mr Koenders, one of the NATO-PA’s two Vice-Presidents, called for all NATO countries to meet in full all promised force contributions and to make greater efforts to win “hearts and minds” with priority projects in the areas of irrigation, roads and energy supplies....#


Actually, good commentary from the Dutch guy. He says we need to win hearts and minds. He says we need to do more in the areas of irrigation, roads and energy supplies. and I think he is right.
He does not say this needs to be paid for and he does not ask nations to give more aid.

The nations are spending huge amounts on military forces and operations and using the military to build roads etc. I suspect this does not translate, in the eyes of the Afghani people, into nation building. They are probably not sophisticated enough to realise that NGO funding is from government, i.e., nations, and so their overall impression is that there is a military presence doing a little to help the local people and at the same time fighting the Afghan group known as the Taliban, which is not a terrorist organisation in their eyes.

If I was in Afghanistan and I assessed the last 5 years I could easily come to the conclusion that we were being occupied. I would not see enough progress on the alternative economy to give me confidence that this mess of international soldiers that was fighting in my country really had my interests at heart. My history and culture would be making me consider whether we would not be better off on our own.

We need much more emphasis on the non-military issues. It needs to be 10:1 non-military to military.

In my mind as well as building infrastructure, which will make any commercial enterprise easier, including poppy growing, we need to consider creating a genuine alternative agricultural market to give the peasant/farmer population a realistic alternative to growing poppies. We need to invest heavily in GIVING them the wherewithal to maintain their standard of living without the poppy. This means we must consider giving them the seed, trees or other plants to produce suitable alternatives to the poppy. We must give them the tools and fertilisers to ensure these crops grow. We must guarantee a price for produce at least for a certain time (and I mean several years). If we do not they will continue to grow the easy plant, with an easy market.

I know some NGOs are trying to achieve this, but it is not enough and it is too slow. The pace needs to speed up dramatically, and this means a lot more investment aid from nations. Somehow this needs to be given to the Afghan government so that the people see it coming from their own government and this will reinforce their support for their own rulers.

These sorts of issues are not being put on the table (and I doubt they did it in the Riga summit.) We talk of mission failure without any input on how to make it succeed.

All rather depressing really.

12/01/2006 07:42:00 PM  
Blogger HILLBLOGGER & Hillblogger Jr said...

Oops, that was one whack of a post, apologies Vigilante...

12/01/2006 07:43:00 PM  
Anonymous pekka said...

Where are the hillbloggers of the world when they are needed? Excellent analysis of what's needed in Afghanistan. However, nothing like that is going to happen. SIGH!

12/01/2006 08:35:00 PM  
Blogger Vigilante said...

I agree, Pekka!

Thanks for your contribution, Hills. It's been my conviction for some time that we can always talk about the importance of non-military infrastructure building, but when you're on the ground, force preservation becomes pretty important. That means security of nation-builders as well as military. Of course, that's the game insurgents want to play: divert us into fighting them instead of building. It can be very discouraging. That is why the Pakis are trying to get us into negotiating with the Taliban as a political force to acknowledge. Not a path I would like to contemplate, at least until we collect Mullah Omar's head, anyways.

The second thing I would like to say in light of the foregoing discussion is about poppy cultivation. In view of the obstacles we already face pertaining to construction and security in Afghanistan, the last thing we want to add to the burdens of our mission is to overlay it with suppression of the poppy industry. Think about the effects of decades of war and devastation on Afghans before you discount this; we are talking about economic recovery and livelihood, here. I'm sure others will disagree with me on this, especially (probably) Pekka. But I would like to see how receptive people are to this idea.

BTW, I have said this before I follow Cyber's links. (I should probably do that now, so I can delete the forgoing before others comment!)

12/01/2006 10:48:00 PM  
Blogger Vigilante said...

Skip, you are very observant in referring to the Democrats being 'my supposed party' in such tentative terms: the Democrats are my party currently because the last primary I voted in was the Democrats'.

As far as voting against further appropriations for Iraq, I think that is a very defensible and patriotic position to take. So far, the only initiative I've seen in Congress along these line is that of Dennis Kucinich's. I hope I'm correct in making this statement.

And I hope he garners additional support.

12/01/2006 10:57:00 PM  
Blogger Vigilante said...

Pekka, I would think others would benefit from hearing your perspective on Canadians' frustrations about being assigned the central front on THE CENTRAL FRONT of the war against world terrorism. They are taking the brunt of the fighting in Afghanistan.

12/01/2006 11:19:00 PM  
Blogger Vigilante said...

Cyberotter's second link will take a single column to address. When I get around to do it, I will remember to draw his attention to it.

12/01/2006 11:34:00 PM  
Blogger Recidivist said...

To everyone, especially Getalife:

I, for one, would feel much better off with al Qaeda after us with heroin and opium in their suitcases instead of C-4!

12/02/2006 07:40:00 AM  
Blogger skip sievert said...

Gee, one lonely Democrat is proposing that the funds for Iraq be cut off.?

Does this tell anyone anything.?

Vigilante what happened to all the hype of getting Democrats into power here.?

Am I not right to say that the Democrats could very simply pull the plug on the war with a simple cut-off of funds now.? If they wanted to.?

So maybe the election was a scam after all.?
Maybe the Democrats are just what is referred to as another part of the Military/Industrial/Congressional complex , and they are really about the same as the Republicans , and just interested in war profiteering.?

Could it be that you all have just been tricked with the old divide and conquer stratagem.?

Maybe it is really big money corporations that rule America , and the election was a farce.?

Please answer these questions for me as I need to be educated.

I am sure that someone on this site can easily tell me good answers to my observations, and if need be point out where I need to be educated.

Where is the responsibility now belonging to our adventure in Iraq?

Vigilante I take it that you are serious about wanting to leave Iraq.?

Why no posts ,and lots of shouting about cutting off the funds.
I mean you are a Democrat right , and your party could simply stop the war now in a simple vote on money to fund it.? Please educate me.

12/02/2006 08:07:00 AM  
Blogger Soros' Proxy said...

Mr. Vigilante, how can you even think of negotiating with the Taliban?

Mohammed Halim was dragged away from his home, in front of his crying children and his wife begging for mercy.

The 46-year-old schoolteacher tried to reassure his family that he would return safely. But his life was over, he was part-disembowelled and then torn apart with his arms and legs tied to motorbikes, the remains put on display as a warning to others against defying Taliban orders to stop educating girls.

The Independent

12/02/2006 03:02:00 PM  
Anonymous pekka said...

Vigil, and anybody who cares, the idea of the NATO and the international peace-keeping was first hatched in Canada. Liberal Prime Minister, Lester Pearson, got the Nobel peace price basically for the latter in the early 50's. Ever since, Canada has been involved with both but her heart has been really with peace-keeping.

You might be aware, that Canadians elected the Conservatives to take the charge of the country earlier this year. This time, however, there is a significant change to the usual because new Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, doesn't follow the normal course by being in the middle of the road but in the extreme right. Consequently, to please his ideological heroes in the White House, Harper started to invigorate the armed forces. He also felt, with many others, that Canada has lost it's credibility and influence in the world affairs by not spilling enough blood to be taken seriously. This is why, Harper made a commitment to stay in Afghanistan for another two years.

His decision was criticised in many quarters but accepted in others in order to improve the relations with the Bush Adminstration and doing something bold and right to help the Afghans to realize a better future. Things were at the time more hopeful than they are now and the boo-birds are comin out now even from the military families.

The most Canadians today are having serious doubts about "the cost/benefit ratio" on staying in Afghanistan. There is a genuine desire among the most here that the affairs in Southern Afghanistan could be stabilized and ever-increasing skeptisism about it's ultimate success. People are really starting to feel that their troops are hopelessly pinned down and that the promised advancements are nowhere to be seen. There is also a huge dissapointment that the heavy lifting is not, in their minds, done more evenly by most of the Nato partners. I personnally don't fully share this view.

The argument that many other nations do not pull their weight in Afganistan has many weaknesses. Canada has been actually less than a stellar performer in the NATO with it's lowest military spending outside Luxembourg. Also the successes in the North have not been recognized as such but that somehow people there are less fierce. The reconstruction is advancing there quite nicely and less "Ramboism" has been the key element to defuse Kandahar type explosion. Unlike in the South, traing the police and the army is really taking place and working in the North. There are a lot activities in the North that hillblogger was suggesting and it seems to be the way to go. This approach ables them to stick around 10-14 years to see a satisfactory conclusion. Canada has spent not a penny in Kandahar for reconstruction from August, 2005, to August, 2006. Spending in the military for the same period of time was at least $810-million. Any additional monies for developement have been turned down but to send battle tanks to Kandahar, costing $189-million, got an immediate green light. However, the need to be in Afghanistan is not disputed by me or by most Canadians.

Finally, there are rumours that the U.S. is planning to spray defoliant on the poppy fields. I can almost hear the merry boys of Taliban shrieking in delight.

12/02/2006 04:13:00 PM  
Blogger skip sievert said...

While I am being educated could I also ask now why the Democrats don`t impeach Bush.?

They could do that now correct.?

Why isn`t that happening.?

So they could cut the funds for the war off , and impeach Bush.
Could someone educate me now as to why at least one of these things would not be a first act of these Democrats.
I hope this does not sound like bickering. I just want to know .
Or have I already said why.

12/02/2006 05:38:00 PM  
Blogger Vigilante said...

Soros, I'm not suggesting folding up the Afghanistan campaign. Merely, I am expressing concern for it without concerted action by the anti-terrorist coalition. And, I am greatly reassured by Pekka's reassurances, and gratified that he might agree with me that by pressuring Afghans on poppy eradification might be doing the Taliban's work for them. However, I do not know for sure. All I do know, is we don't have enough boots on the ground there, and that points to the lack of unpreoccupied leadership on the part of the POTUS, as well as the lack of additional deployable American troops.

I'm not an optimistic or happy camper on this central front on the war againt terror.

12/03/2006 12:31:00 PM  
Blogger Vigilante said...

Skip, pay attention to my agenda (upper right hand corner). Oversight first, then impeachment. One step at a time. Don't get ahead or you might get tripped unnecessarily by debris in your path.

12/03/2006 12:36:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

O.K. I now understand your agenda. Thank you for educating me.

I have a problem with it though.

Why impeach someone as they are leaving office.? Symbolic reasons.? Showy political reasons, when it does not matter any more.?

What about all the people vigilante that are going to be killed in the meantime , like tomorrow, and what about Bush expanding the war into Iran and other places , as could easily happen directly or indirectly. ?

Or are your real interests in being very passive and getting a so called Democrat into office.?

Does that make you a part of the problem and not a part of the solution, since you view things in a very political way.?
Does that make you yourself a part of the military/industrial/congressional complex , or rather just one of their many foot soldiers.?

Have you given any thought to that aspect of what you are working on, as to your agenda.?

How many innocent people will die Vigilante when if you changed your agenda in the upper right hand corner to impeach Bush NOW , or start the process NOW , and also cut off the funds for the war NOW , you might have a real positive effect.?

Are you afraid to be so bold to do that.? Or are you just thinking that would screw up Hillary`s or Obama`s or someone else`s chances to capture the white house with a different set of political flunky`s ( from my point of view ) to the ones there now.?
Suppose Bush starts world war three in the meantime Vigilante.?
Aren`t you taking kind of a cowards way out to all the pain, death and destruction committed , with more on the way. Does your agenda take all that into account also. ?

What is the debris in the path that you mention.? Political disapprobation.

12/03/2006 01:17:00 PM  
Blogger Vigilante said...

Skip, (and anyone else in doubt as to my position of our Iraqi occupation, re-read A Progressive Ultimatum Part I and A Progressive Ultimatum Part II.

My position is identical with Michael Moore's. What part of

"Bring the troops home now."

Don't you understand?

12/03/2006 06:18:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Iraq war costs 8 billion dollars a month. Interesting . Where is the money going.???? Into the pockets of the military/industrial/congressional complex.

No surprise there. What a great system we have. ?

12/04/2006 07:14:00 AM  
Blogger Messenger said...

Pekka, I don't know that much about Afghanistan but it's supposedly "the good war gone bad". Americans are at a disadvantage, comparably, in both Iraqi and Afghanistan because of cultural and linguistic differences. I sometimes wonder if our failures in both places have been magnified by not taking advantage of indigenous structures we found when we arrived. In Iraq, not using Saddam's army has already been debated. But in Afghanistan, why did we not rely on other militias, warlords, etc., like the Northern Alliance. Maybe I'm just engaging in idle talk here. But Karzai seems like a decent enough chap: maybe we're expecting too much of him. Maybe we shouldn't be so critical of him and his countrymen on account of what we perceive to be "corruption". Maybe that's just an alternative way of doing business. I sometimes think we're too stiff-necked, coming in as foreigners, having all the answers, making the indigenous people conform to our norms. Maybe we're too impatient to take a decent interlude and learn the normal traditions and ways of doing business. I don't know. I admit it. I don't know.

12/06/2006 06:41:00 PM  
Blogger Vigilante said...

As a way of validating my earlier statements (as well as Pekka's - if I read him correctly) about poppy eradication, I give you the comment of General Sir Mike Jackson, who recently retired as head of the British Army. In his Richard Dimbleby Lecture on BBC Onethe general included this criticism of the Ministry of Defence:

"I give you one example of our poor co-ordination. In Afghanistan the United Kingdom volunteered to take the lead for the whole problem of counter-narcotics. Now it is true that the vast majority of heroin consumed in this country originates from the poppy fields of Afghanistan, but now is not the time to put poppy eradication to the forefront: it will appear without doubt to the peasant farmer on the ground to be directed personally at him, and his family. And therefore his wrath will turn not to the British Foreign Office, but to the British soldier on the ground. We ought to be able to do better than that."

TimesOnLine

12/07/2006 08:18:00 AM  
Blogger HILLBLOGGER & Hillblogger Jr said...

Vigilante,

You are absolutely right!

I agree with you ENTIRELY and said in earlier in this post as well as in my own previous post "NATO's Afghanistan Mission Is In Trouble" that if we touch the poppy culture of the Afghans, we've got to have them an alternative, with something to replace those poppies, we got to hand them the tools to do it with, and to create a market for their produce.

We cannot destroy their means of livelihood without providing them with an alternative source.

Unfortunately and based on first hand knowledge, member nations have not come up with an alternative; lots of talks but not much action.

We need a new set of leaders - because the leaders of the more influential nation members in NATO, US, UK, France, Germany are failing NATO's mission in Afghanistan with their personal politics

12/07/2006 11:11:00 AM  
Blogger Vigilante said...

Yeah, Hills! The West is smitten with a whole flock of LAME DUCKS.

12/07/2006 06:59:00 PM  
Blogger Malfrat said...

Another stake in the permanent defeat of the Taliban is the restoration of Bamiyan’s colossal Buddhas. These were once the largest standing Buddha statues in the world and stood in this fabled valley with its 1,500-year-old treasures,

It was in March 2001, when the Taliban and their sponsors in Al Qaeda were at the zenith of their power in Afghanistan, that militiamen, acting on an edict to take down the “gods of the infidels,” laid explosives at the base and the shoulders of the two Buddhas and blew them to pieces.

Even Genghis Khan, who laid waste to this valley’s towns and population in the 13th century, had left the Buddhas standing.
NYT

12/08/2006 11:26:00 PM  

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