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Motivation for fighting in Afghanistan?

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Good grief - talk about getting it the wrong way around:

"The Iraq war was different from this war," a US marine in Afghanistan's Helmand province told a BBC reporter recently.

o.gif "That was definitely a war on terrorism. Here I don't know. No-one even mentions 9/11 any more. That's why I went to Iraq."

how screwed up is that? Has the US forgotten who actually launched 9/11, and where they were based??:confused:

(from a BBC article)

Is a bit of a history refresher needed for the troops on the ground?

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One good answer is to be found in this article:

http://www.newsweek.com/id/213625?from=rss

Basically, people who found themselves at war needed to rationalize a good reason for it, without putting too much considered logic or analysis into it ("thinking hurts my head - I'll let Fox tell me what to think!")

So we end up with convoluted perspectives that justify a lot of stupidity.

I don't fault the Marine for wanting to serve and fight for his country, only for not putting a bit of thought into what was behind the fight in the first place.

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You're talking about the product of an educational system that has produced a population in which a significant percentage believes the sun rotates around the earth, that the planet is only a few thousand years old, that Hawaii is not part of the US and that wealth trickles down from the rich to the poor. The American public could just as easily be convinced that New Zealand was responsible for 9/11 and that sheep are really terrifying weapons of mass destruction.

Anyway the US media forgot about both Osama bin Laden and Afghanistan a long time ago - ancient history.

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I don't actualy "fault" the Marine at all - he knows what he knows and doesn't kn...er...no..let's not go there.......the question is why is it that what he knows so screwed up?

So Gunner yes I get your point and Dave sympathise with yours, and still wonder if anyone is going to do anythign about giving the troops a good reason to fight?

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Given that it is an all volunteer force, they already have reasons to fight - their paycheck, their buddies, their patriotism - the real question is, do we have a real reason to put them into harm's way and spend all that money doing it? A reason that will stand the cool eye of history?

Having stepped into the cow patty, one needs only make sure of one's footing and then move forward, out of it. Doing a cucaracha dance in the stuff proves nothing, other than you like being in other people's s__t and perhaps inviting them to dump more upon you while you do it.

Were I Obama, I'd put together a team of the best minds in foreign affairs, Islamic affairs and history and global economics, and let them come up with a way to disengage us with minimum loss and maximum effect - and then plot a course for us that ensures that those people (mainly Islamic fanatics) don't ever have a way to grab us by the short hair ever again.

So, S.O., my answer is, give the troops the best of all possible reasons to serve - the fact that they are part of a logical, clear and well-crafted master plan to ensure their country's ultimate safety. But this time the plan is coolly, calmly and rationally calculated, with an eye down the road to the future and without dogmatic rhetoric and florid political spin and platitudes about bringing freedom to those who want none of our version of it.

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Why lie when you can bull**** your way through? The only people who care about truth objectively are scientists. Besides, finding good reasons for war is just too sentimental; and in addition, you create enemies with your fellow citizens if you call them on their bull**** - it can be very dramatic. Thus, because there is just too much bull**** for justifications on war, it's best to let them play out their fantasies and leave them be, as nothing good can come out of arguing about it.

It really comes down to just being too much bull****.

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The conflict in Afghanistan hasn't been about terrorism for several years. Now it's ... something else? Maybe it's most like a civil war, in which NATO has decided to choose sides. In that respect the Marine isn't wrong. In fact, he's very right. It's not a war on terrorism, at least not in the TWAT sense of the word.

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I think it's about being the difficult, but right, thing to do. That doesn't mean it is difficult or right (more like impossible and wrong), but it's the thought that counts.

Look at it this way - your military, the people who survive and stay in, is keeping it's pool of operational experience through a generational change in personnel.

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Given that it was the home of Al Queda and the Taliban who hosted them at the time of 9/11, it certainly was a relevant target and probably the only justifiable invasion by the Bush administration. Once we were in the biar patch, however, there has been no elegant way out; there was the whack-a-mole in the mountains game with OBL to carry on, which at gave some justification for continuing in-country for a while but that petered out as it became clear that he'd gone over the border into Pakistan. Mission creep into nation building was the logical next step, but as a nation-building exercise, we could hardly pick a tougher nut to crack than Afghanistan, which is less a nation than a collection of warlord feifdoms. So, yep, it is a tough one to wiggle our way out of now and the issue of opium will give us a temporary excuse to continue the fight for a while, but what happens after that is anyone's guess. Already there are signs that we are becoming deeply resented by the locals for overstaying our welcome, and that just helps out the bad guys we are supposedly there to beat. We need an exit strategy, and fast.

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We need an exit strategy, and fast.

No, you don't. "Exit strategies" are easy - you get on a plane and you leave. Mission accomplished.

Sucking it up and fixing what you broke, without breaking it even more in the process, is the difficult path.

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No, you don't. "Exit strategies" are easy - you get on a plane and you leave. Mission accomplished.

Sucking it up and fixing what you broke, without breaking it even more in the process, is the difficult path.

Insurance disclaimer sez you can't break sumfink already broke.

The idea of helping the neighbours cope with the the hornet's nest you stirred up is predicated by a wish to help anyone at all, ever. Particularly if you live half a world away. If your populace is denying you the taxes to spend because they selfishly refuse to be employed, well, guess who has landed in the ****? Good thing the Afghanis don't vote in the US elections.

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My idea would be to spend your money supporting a local strong man. You could supply him with plenty of guns and money and use his network of brutal and corrupt cronies to keep everyone too terrified for any opposition. That way you don't risk the people voting in an undesireable government like Islamic fundies or Communists. Then turn a blind eye to the fact that the puppet leaders are borderline criminals who make their money out of growing smack and you have a loyal and essentially stable 'partner'.

Oh wait....

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My suggestion: Get a list of the players - those warlords who count. Make them an offer they can't refuse: so much money every month in a secured, private bank account of their choosing. Conditions: funds can be used personally or to enlarge their fiefdom, but funds can't be transferred to others for use against USA. If this is discovered to be happening, there will be a guaranteed visit from your friendly Predator with Hellfires aboard.

Spread a few hundred million around this way and you'll find you have bought some Afghani "allies", eager to ensure they always have Uncle Sam's tit close by. Cheaper than a war and paying for more American widows and VA care.

I'm only partly kidding, by the way. I think that's how we have the few allies we have over there anyway. Why waste funds on a corrupt central government that no one there wants? And who the hell knows? - it might even work.

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While it seems superficially attractive suchregimes have always ended up making hte US look pretty bad - Chile, Nicaragua, Cuba, etc.....and I'm pretty sure the long term effects need to be looked at alongside teh potential short term gains - for example it would make hte US the supporters of the warlords, adn a target for the inevitable religous extremist opposition - and we all know where that leds to! :(

No - while Afghanistan might not be as closely related to the War on Terror as it once obviously was, the connection there is still clear - Taliban support AQ, AQ are still determined to attack the USA and their leaders have not been bought to justice.

Such a simple connection should be easy for the spin-meisters to pump up IMO.

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The conflict in Afghanistan hasn't been about terrorism for several years. Now it's ... something else? Maybe it's most like a civil war, in which NATO has decided to choose sides. In that respect the Marine isn't wrong. In fact, he's very right. It's not a war on terrorism, at least not in the TWAT sense of the word.

It is a social experiment to change an existing country so that it doesn't allow people we don't like to roam again.

Iraq has more reasons, a major one is probably to have a decent base in the heart of the Middle East to keep all the bad guys around it in check.

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If you look at Zawahiri's movement in the 90's, you will notice that He and Osama failed big time in every Islamic country on the planet, as the masses never did rise up. Thus, Zawahiri and Osama went to the middle of nowhere, which would be the stans, and there too the masses didn't rise up. It doesn't matter if the Taliban magically regain control of Afghanistan when NATO withdraws, as nobody, including the Taliban factions, wants these two yahoos around. Radical Islam, as in reinstating a caliphate to rule over everybody, never was a powerful force; people are just not that into it.

Zawahiri and his group was finished long before 9/11 happened.

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While it seems superficially attractive suchregimes have always ended up making hte US look pretty bad - Chile, Nicaragua, Cuba, etc.....and I'm pretty sure the long term effects need to be looked at alongside teh potential short term gains - for example it would make hte US the supporters of the warlords, adn a target for the inevitable religous extremist opposition - and we all know where that leds to! :(

No - while Afghanistan might not be as closely related to the War on Terror as it once obviously was, the connection there is still clear - Taliban support AQ, AQ are still determined to attack the USA and their leaders have not been bought to justice.

Such a simple connection should be easy for the spin-meisters to pump up IMO.

Part of the problem at the moment is that US support is for the Warlords and has been since day 1 with the likes of the "Northern Alliance". Or else the warlords are patrons of Karzhai and he has to parcel out the fiefdoms to them in order for their nod. Ironically, it is the hatred of these warlords that actually gives the Taliban its recruitment base. ie. it is easy for them to say 'join us and get rid of the corrupt tyrants'.

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I can't keep myself from wondering how Ahmad Shah Massoud would have done, had he lived. He seems to have been ideal for the job of taking charge. Respected, powerful, and fairly modern, he'd have been the best of the candidates. No wonder AQ took him out just prior to 9/11. Now NATO is stuck with a **** like Karzai.

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I know I can't be the only member of this forum living in the US many months ago started to think it odd that the American anti-war protestors' characterstic cry has been (not a direct quote, obviously) "bring our troops back from Iraq". And one of the foremost anti-war organizations in the US is named Iraq Veterans Against the War, not Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans Against the War (aside from the fact that such is too long and awkward a name for an orgnization, even if abbreviated).

But there are several reasons which could explain why Americans are not so insistent on having US troops return from Afghanistan.

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Good grief - talk about getting it the wrong way around:

how screwed up is that? Has the US forgotten who actually launched 9/11, and where they were based??:confused:

(from a BBC article)

Is a bit of a history refresher needed for the troops on the ground?

Maybe this article can help sort that out for you. Essentially Obama has declared the war on terror to be over by prosecuting CIA interrogators, renaming everything (Overseas contingiency operations), and attempting to close Guantanamo Bay. It's only natural that if the President declares the "War" to be over that the soldiers who are fighting might wonder why the heck they are there.

http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=YWQ5ZGU0ZTczODYzOTUxNDE3MmY4ZDA4NTA3MzU2MTM=

War — What War?

We have public confusion about both wars: Iraq and Afghanistan.

By Victor Davis Hanson

The anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan headed this week to Martha’s Vineyard, where President Obama is vacationing. Once again she is protesting our two wars abroad.

But Sheehan is a media has-been. ABC’s Charlie Gibson used to cover her anti-Bush rallies in Crawford, Tex. Now he says, with a sigh, of her recent anti-Obama efforts, “Enough already.”

The war in Iraq is scarcely in the news any longer, despite the fact that 141,000 American soldiers are still protecting the fragile Iraqi democracy, and 114, as of this writing, have been lost this year in that effort.

But after the success of the surge, there are far fewer American fatalities each month — eight in July, five in August. Former anti-war candidate Barack Obama is now also President and Commander-in-Chief Obama — with Democratic majorities in the Congress.

Public opinion and media attention about Iraq were always based largely on two factors that transcended whether Americans felt the removal of Saddam Hussein was wise and necessary — or misguided and wrong.

First was the perception of costs to benefits. In May 2003, after a quick, successful American invasion, a Gallup poll revealed that 79 percent of the public supported the war — despite our not finding weapons of mass destruction. But by December 2008 — more than 4,000 American fatalities later and at the end of the Bush presidency — only 34 percent, according to an ABC News/Washington Post poll, still felt the war had been worth the effort.

Second was how the changing public mood affected politics. In October 2002, the Republican-controlled House and Senate, with plenty of Democratic support, voted overwhelmingly to authorize the Iraq War.

Congress cited 23 reasons why we should remove Saddam. The majority of these authorizations had nothing to do with weapons of mass destruction.

Yet as the subsequent occupation became messy and costly, prior Democratic support evaporated. In the presidential campaigns of 2004 and 2008, running against what was now George Bush’s war was seen as wise Democratic politics.

From all that, we can draw more conclusions about the present media silence and absence of public protests over the Iraq War. As long as Barack Obama is commander-in-chief, and as long as casualties in Iraq are down, there will be no large public protests nor much news about our sizable Iraq presence. The cost and the attendant politics — not why we went there — always determined how the Iraq War was covered.

Afghanistan is more complicated. So far this year — for the first time since our 2001 removal of the Taliban from power — more Americans have been killed there (172) than in Iraq (114). The Obama administration recently sent more troops into Afghanistan to reach our highest level yet at 32,000.

Yet so far there have been none of the public protests that we used to see in connection with Iraq. Why?

Over the last few years, we have become used to the idea that Afghanistan was “quiet.” Indeed fewer were killed there in most years than in some of the bloodiest single months in Iraq.

Democrats also ran on the notion of Afghanistan as the “good war.” It was the direct payback for the Taliban’s involvement with Osama bin Laden. It garnered United Nations support. And it had been neglected by Iraq-obsessed, neocon George Bush.

Many anti-war candidates also thought the “good” Afghan war was largely over, while the “bad” Iraq one was hopeless — already “lost” — in the words of the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid (D., Nev.).

In addition, Afghanistan — landlocked, backward, with a harsh climate and little natural wealth — was always the harder challenge for fostering constitutional government. Iraq has ports, a central location, oil riches, flat and open terrain, and an educated populace.

So now we have public confusion about both wars. George Bush’s “wrong” war is largely won and Iraq’s democracy fairly stable. But the good war in Afghanistan is becoming Barack Obama’s and heating up — more American troops, more American casualties, and little political stability.

If the past is any guide to media and public reaction, some predictions seem warranted. Obama will enjoy far more patience, since the anti-war Left and a liberal media will go easier on a kindred president.

Yet if casualties peak, the American people will sour on Afghanistan as they did on Iraq. Then even Obama, I think unfairly, will be blamed in the media for a war that Americans used to think — as in the case once of Iraq — was necessary and just.

And even reluctant Charlie Gibson might have to return to covering Cindy Sheehan’s latest pursuit of a beleaguered American president.

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So now we have public confusion about both wars. George Bush’s “wrong” war is largely won and Iraq’s democracy fairly stable

I find that an interesting claim as in I am not sure what "won" refers to. Saddam is removed? Iraq is more westernised - less religious than surrounding countries? Weapons of MD found and neutralised? I am sure that the US military complex and their shareholders have had a definite win but I am not sure that is what the author means.

"Fairly stable democracy " ...... what kind of wussy statement is that? Like its not fallen over yet because we have loads of soldiers there? You have to laugh that after a mere couple years that this guy is prepared to suggest its a stable democracy.

wiki

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democracy_in_Iraq

Post-invasion: Future Prospects for Democracy in Iraq

Main article: Post-invasion Iraq, 2003-2006

“If we think there is a fast solution to changing the governance of Iraq, then we don’t understand history, the nature of the country, the divisions, or the underneath suppressed passions that could rise up. God help us if we think this transition will occur easily. The attempts I’ve seen to install democracy in short periods of time where there is no history and no roots have failed. Take it back to Somalia." (Marine General Anthony Zinni (retired) Head of U.S. Central Command from 1997 to 2000, 10 October 2002).

Retired Marine General Anthony Zinni is not alone in believing that the creation of democracy in Iraq does not call for short-term solutions. As a matter of fact, political philosopher Chantal Mouffe develops Zinni’s ideas by arguing that ‘democracy is never going to be completely realized, but it is something which will always need to be a project which we are going to fight for…be aware that there is no final goal – democracy is a process which we are continually working towards. So we are clearly facing a difficulty in terms of the way passion can be mobilized.”[11] To Adam Garfinkle, another Middle East scholar, experiencing difficulty in establishing democracy in Iraq is an understatement. Adam M. Garfinkle argues that attempting to promote democracy in Iraq and the rest of the Arab World will fail and only exaggerate feelings of anti-Americanism within the Arab world.[12]

However, poles apart from Garfinkle, scholar James Fallows envisions the future Iraq as a “City on the Hill” for the Arab World – an Iraq, Fallows believes, which will instigate democracy throughout the Middle East.[13]

Others argue as Thomas Jefferson would have done that ‘democracy must [first and foremost] be rooted… in the “soil” of Iraq if it is to grow. Very few plants and certainly not democracy grow from the top down.’[14] Thus the opinions of the future for democracy in Iraq are quite varied.

However a very much more positive gloss on democracy in Iraq is here:

http://www.hudsonny.org/2009/05/dodging-democracy-in-iraq.php

but it does suggest that those who believe in democracy is in existence but feel threatened by "realists"

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I find that an interesting claim as in I am not sure what "won" refers to. Saddam is removed? Iraq is more westernised - less religious than surrounding countries? Weapons of MD found and neutralised? I am sure that the US military complex and their shareholders have had a definite win but I am not sure that is what the author means.

The author stated "largely" won - the usage of "largely" in that context is normally used as a qualifier. I think it's a safe assumption to make though given the US body count has decreased significantly. If your soldiers aren't being killed then it's not much of a leap to say that a war has "largely" been won. Besides, the OP was referring to the confusion of a certain Marine if Afghanistan so whether you agree or not with that opinion that the war in Iraq is largely won is really beside the point. If this is how that Marine sees things then his confusion is understandable. The case for saying Iraq is "largely" won is much better than the case for saying that it's "largely" lost - surely you can agree with that?

"Fairly stable democracy " ...... what kind of wussy statement is that? Like its not fallen over yet because we have loads of soldiers there? You have to laugh that after a mere couple years that this guy is prepared to suggest its a stable democracy.

"Fairly" is once again being used as a qualifier in his article so no, he didn't suggest that it's a "rock solid stable democracy." However, after several successful elections it's probably a fair statement to make. Once again though your agreement or disagreement with that is really irrelevant since it is an explanation of how the Marine might see things. I didn't introduce the article to this discussion to refight the arguments about the Iraq war. I introduced it to show that the current political situation and public attitude is such that your average soldier in Afghanistan could be forgiven for wondering why he was there. Especially since I doubt the President wants to be there anyway and will pull up stakes and leave as soon as the opportunity arises. There isn't much pressure from the democratic base at the moment but give it a few more months and we'll see.

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Hanson's piece was not referring to a Marine in Iraq unless I have missed something but was all his own opinion. I appreciate that there is a modifier but won is still the expression I am trying to grasp. You do make the point that US casualties are down:

If your soldiers aren't being killed then it's not much of a leap to say that a war has "largely" been won.

I assume therefore that leaving South Vietnam was a win also on that logic. This is a piece from the BBC item quoted early in the thread:

What is more, although many Americans may want to call it a success, few Iraqis use that term to describe the state of their country two years after the Bush surge.

There may be less bloodshed than before, but there are still attacks in Iraq every day.

In the first six months of this year, more than 2,000 Iraqi civilians died in violence, over double the number in Afghanistan in the same period.

And the casualty rate in Iraq has risen again in recent weeks because of an increase in attacks since the US pullout from the cities.

More than 100 people were killed in mass bombings in central Baghdad last week.

So "won" depends very much on what you say were the objectives were in the first place. And "largely won" suggests perhaps some aims achieved and some not, or, a single aim that is still not resolved satisfactorily. I can very much understand that the military are confused by what is happening. For them there is no "win" ever in this situation where they are embroiled in politics. There only clean win would have to have been capture the Sadaam family and leave the BAathist to organise elctions etc or whatever.

As for "fairly stable democracy" I think it is wussy as without any explanation of why it it is qualified with "fairly" it is pretty useless to the reader.

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