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Obama's Vietnam

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Bob K
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25 posted 09-25-2009 07:50 PM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K




Dear Huan Yi,

                     I believe I'm getting a better understanding not only of your opinion, for which I thank you, but of the situation.  Grinch's explanation of the dual and conflicting policy demands clarifies the situation for me.  I am not entirely clear of the extent to which it parallels the dual and occasionally conflicting lines of command situation that seemed to go on in Iraq with US conventional forces on the one hand under military command and Mercenary Forces under a different governmental chain of command on the other.  The two often seemed to operate at cross purposes and against a single rational US foreign policy, it seemed to me.

     I don't know whether you agree with that or not, but it's the way I've recently come to formulate the contretemps in Iraq for myself.  I don't know what to make of it, myself; I'm very far behind the curve on that one.  And I could be completely off base.  Other theories are welcome.  

     There does seem to be a split in the sense of unified command here, however, in the Afghani adventure.  Grinch makes sense to me so far.  He often does.

quote:

if staying means some Marine NCO would have to live
with the death of Marines under him because they weren’t
given the artillery and or air support that would have saved their lives in any other war I’m all for leaving.

  

     Is this what staying means?

     I am not in favor of any war without a clear and definable goal and a clear strategy for accomplishing that goal already set up.  This plan may not survive first contact, but it is there, and may be modified as the situation unfolds with the ultimate goal in mind.  A set of goals that define winning and losing should be part of this plan, and a clear method of supply along lines  of advance  needs to be laid out.  An exit plan needs to be in place.  There should be a unified command structure and chain of command.

     It is not clear to me that I am saying anything much different than you are here, by the way.  I am simply trying to nail down the details of what that might mean.

     Then I would ask, Are we willing to pay for it?  If not, we need to pack up and go home now.

     Is it morally worth paying for?  and then, do we believe, even if the answer is Yes, that we will be willing to do it?  There are loads of morally worthy things that we don't at the bottom really care about.  

quote:


And if  that means that 3,000 more die later in NYC or DC I can live with it.



     This may be one of the morally worthy things — preventing the death of 3000 US citizens — that you believe you can give up.  I am not so certain myself, and yet I have to admire the certainty with which you make the statement.

     As for me, I believe that there may actually be other options than the two options that you so starkly present, killing marines without necessity (if there is ever a necessity) or allowing US citizens to be killed by random terrorist attack.  Among the possible other options might be a re-analysis of the situation.

     What is the problem we are trying to solve in that area of the world?  What is its cause?  Is the only possible solution a military solution?  If there are other solutions, what might be involved in facilitating them?  Might they be economic and social?  might they involve political changes in the area?  Can we get involved in political changes without stirring up military and religious conflict?
What do these people need from us and what do we need from them?  What are we prepared to offer?

     None of these questions or possible solutions are as straightforward as carpet bombing, but if we can try them first, they'd be considerably cheaper, and might even help our own country as well as other countries involved.  If we still think it's unavoidable, and we absolutely have to kill each other, I suspect, like dessert, there's always room for that later.

     Or maybe we can find something else to try instead.  That wouldn't be so bad either.

quote:
    
     There are some things past word games and for me personally this is one of them.



     When one finds one's self locked into a set of binary choices, the first thing to do is to examine whether the structure of language and thinking itself hasn't jammed you into a word game despite your best efforts to avoid them.  While the structure of thought and language often seems to leave us with sets of binary choices, it should be noted that the structure of reality is not obligated to conform to our way of thinking about it.  

All my best, Bob Kaven
Huan Yi
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26 posted 10-27-2009 08:43 PM       View Profile for Huan Yi   Email Huan Yi   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Huan Yi

.


Eight young men
died today . . .


.
Bob K
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27 posted 10-27-2009 10:04 PM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K


    

     What was it that you'd hoped to communicate beyond the death notice in this thread named "Obama's Vietnam?"   I caught the information in The Washington Post.  I don't want to try to puzzle out the implications here, John; I'm not very good at guessing, and I'd actually rather hear you  say anything beyond the headline — which I'd actually caught earlier — yourself.

     Were you simply offering us information, or was there something more you wanted to communicate?  All I understood was the information.
threadbear
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28 posted 10-29-2009 06:19 AM       View Profile for threadbear   Email threadbear   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for threadbear

No one has EVER won a war by being wishy-washy.

You can, however, waste 1000's of men's lives while waiting till the polls come out on what to do.
Grinch
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29 posted 10-29-2009 02:12 PM       View Profile for Grinch   Email Grinch   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Grinch


quote:
No one has EVER won a war by being wishy-washy.


What about an armed occupation?

.
Local Rebel
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30 posted 10-29-2009 02:39 PM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

quote:

You can, however, waste 1000's of men's lives while waiting till the polls come out on what to do.



So, you're accusing Dick Cheney of waiting for the polls?  Oh right... the election poll of 2008.   Silly me... of course he was.
threadbear
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31 posted 10-29-2009 03:56 PM       View Profile for threadbear   Email threadbear   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for threadbear

You do know, Local Rebel, that at Obama's request, the 2009 troop surge was Bush/Cheney's plan that Obama 'cabbaged onto' as his own.

It wasn't until this past week's speech that Cheney finally got fed up with Obama:
a) seeking credit for the initial 2009 troop increase
b) and at the same time blaming Bush for not increasing troops and fixing Afghanistan's undermanned situation.
Local Rebel
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32 posted 10-29-2009 08:43 PM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

You mean TB?:

Bush and Cheney planned it all along, while they had carte blanche,  but waited until Obama could implement it so that he could get the credit?

That's really swell of them.

How did they do that exactly?  Did they whisper it into his ear on the campaign trail so that shifting the focus to Afghanistan would be a campaign pledge, he would get elected, and then implement it?

That would mean, gosh, that -- they wanted him to win all along and were secretly against John McCain.  This is making my head spin.  I just love conspiracy theories.

Please!  Tell me more!  With citations!
Bob K
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33 posted 10-30-2009 02:25 AM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K



quote:


a) seeking credit for the initial 2009 troop increase
b) and at the same time blaming Bush for not increasing troops and fixing Afghanistan's undermanned situation.




     If Mr. Cheney or Mr. Bush still wish credit for the Iraqi troop surge, they should feel free to it.  It may have had some effect in dialing down the destruction of that war.  If that's true, I am happy.  I would rather that the war not have started.  I would rather that they not have lied our way into it and not been responsible for the death of 3-4,000 Americans and what may be up to 750,000 Iraqis, however.  That I don't see them taking such credit for, though they certainly deserve credit for that as well.  As to Mr. Obama taking credit for the surge, perhaps you have heard him say things I haven't heard about the matter.

     I was personally against the surge, and to the extent it worked, I was surprised.  I am also happy to be wrong, to whatever extent I was wrong in that case.  Any steps to a more peaceful situation in the area are more than welcome to my mind.

     I also blame Bush for the undermanned situation in Afghanistan and for his support of the situation there.  There have been reports of graft and corruption coming out of that area now for several years on PRI.  There have been reports of growing strength of the Taliban and the loss of support of the government on that radio network that the Government has been ignoring.  The switch from the original emphasis from Afghanistan to Iraq is something that remains to be explained, and is unlikely to be explained to anybody's satisfaction in the near future.
Trying to shift blame onto President Obama for failed Republican policy is understandable, given the upcoming 2010 election cycle and the hopes of regaining some ground that the Republicans have.  They are even likely to achieve some of their ambitions, I suspect, unless the President makes some more clearly defined decisions in the near future as well.

     My thinking remains that the President should probably have a reasonably clear notion of his game plan before he starts in.  Having an exit strategy is also a good idea, as Mr. Bush has demonstrated as well.  Following Mr. Cheney's advice may not be such a good idea.  He tends to give advice that is full of booby traps and diversions and is often more expedient for himself and his buddies than what may prove to be the actual long term American interest.  The truth of this would be simpler to assess if Mr. Cheney and Mr. Bush would get their stories straight.

     Six days, six weeks weeks or — despite Mr. Rumsfeld's doubts and Mr. Cheney's assurances,  six months have long passed us by.  The limits of expenditure have long been surpassed.  The links with Al Qaida in Iraq have all been disproven despite Mr. Cheney's loud and frequent re-assertions.  It is refreshing to hear that somebody suggests that we should retain our faith in the Republican counsel on War.  He has been very very good to his former  employees, who have prospered from Mr. Cheney's time as Vice President.

     If the original mission to Afghanistan had been pushed to its end, I have no idea what the conclusion would have been.  Many of my fellow Democrats feel that it might have resolved the current conflict swiftly and clearly.  I think they are probably wrong.  Twenty-five hundred years of history suggests that they are probably wrong.  It is a miserable part of the world for military adventures.

     I suspect that finishing things in the Tora Bora mountains, though, might have brought things to the point where we might have been able to withdraw from the region with some sense of a limited mission having been completed.  Especially if we'd have been able to capture Osama Binladin.  This may simply be wishful thinking; I'm willing to think the wishful thinking theory as a plausible one, too.

     Instead, it was off to Iraq and to further adventures in futility.

     Threadbear, you're going to have to make some sort of alternative sense of this to me sometime.  The ruminations I have on the matter are dark and unsavory, and are not ones that I feel are fit to share with man nor beast at this point.  

"Everybody's crying peace on earth
when they don't know the meaning of the word. "


Sincerely, Bob Kaven  
Local Rebel
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34 posted 10-30-2009 07:51 AM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

quote:

Sen. John McCain has praised the surge in Iraq for bringing greater stability to the region, and has reminded voters that he long supported it. But while Iraq was stabilizing, the situation in Afghanistan was deteriorating.

So on July 15, 2008, the McCain campaign released "a new comprehensive strategy for victory in Afghanistan" that applies "the tried and true principles of counterinsurgency used in the Iraq surge."

His new policy includes sending at least three additional brigades to Afghanistan. "Our commanders on the ground say they need these troops, and thanks to the success of the surge, these forces are becoming available," states the campaign's strategy outline.

Sen. Barack Obama's campaign pounced on this news. By the end of the week, spokesman Bill Burton had sent out a memo titled, "Obama leading on foreign policy, McCain following."

"This past week, Senator McCain changed his position for political reasons, embracing Obama's call for more troops the day after Obama restated it in a New York Times op-ed, and almost one year after Obama's initial plan," Burton wrote.

We reviewed the candidates' past statements to determine whether McCain has changed position to match Obama.

Back on Aug. 1, 2007, Obama gave a major foreign policy speech at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.

The speech got a lot of attention because Obama said that the United States should aggressively pursue terrorists hiding in the mountains of Pakistan. "If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf won't act, we will," Obama said.

But Obama also talked about the need for the United States to turn its attention to Afghanistan.

"Our troops have fought valiantly there, but Iraq has deprived them of the support they need — and deserve," Obama said. "As a result, parts of Afghanistan are falling into the hands of the Taliban, and a mix of terrorism, drugs and corruption threatens to overwhelm the country. As president, I would deploy at least two additional brigades to Afghanistan to re-enforce our counterterrorism operations and support NATO's efforts against the Taliban."

In the months that followed, Obama repeatedly emphasized his assertion that the United States "had taken our eye off the ball" by invading Iraq instead of concentrating on Afghanistan.
http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/article/2008/jul/22/obama-ballyhoos-afghan-stance/



quote:

President Obama issued an order Feb. 17, 2009, to send two additional brigades to Afghanistan.

"This increase is necessary to stabilize a deteriorating situation in Afghanistan, which has not received the strategic attention, direction and resources it urgently requires," Obama said.

He also recognized "the extraordinary strain that this deployment places on our troops and military families. I honor their service, and will give them the support they need."

Obama often said during the campaign that Afghanistan required more troops and attention than it was receiving from the Bush administration. (Read our previous campaign coverage .) Obama said the United States "had taken our eye off the ball" by invading Iraq instead of concentrating on Afghanistan.

"Our troops have fought valiantly there, but Iraq has deprived them of the support they need — and deserve," Obama said in a speech on Aug. 1, 2007. "As a result, parts of Afghanistan are falling into the hands of the Taliban, and a mix of terrorism, drugs and corruption threatens to overwhelm the country. As president, I would deploy at least two additional brigades to Afghanistan to reinforce our counterterrorism operations and support NATO's efforts against the Taliban."

In his Feb. 17 action, Obama said he would deploy a Marine Expeditionary Brigade during the spring of 2009 and an Army Stryker Brigade with support troops by the summer. That's two, just as he said he would. Promise Kept.

Finally, we want to note that our ruling here only covers Obama's pledge to send two brigades. We'll use Promise No. 148 to rate whether he equips them properly .
http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/promises/promise/134/send-two-additional-brigades-to-afghanistan/



quote:

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs fired back at former Vice President Dick Cheney the day after Cheney said President Barack Obama "seems afraid to make a decision" about a general's public plea for 40,000 more U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

"The White House must stop dithering while America's armed forces are in danger," Cheney said in a speech at the Center for Security Policy on Oct. 21.

In his daily press briefing the next day, Gibbs said Cheney's comments were "curious" given that "the vice president was for seven years not focused on Afghanistan."

And, Gibbs said, the comments were "even more curious given the fact that (a request for) an increase in troops sat on desks in this White House, including the vice president's, for more than eight months, a resource request filled by President Obama in March."

Gibbs is referring here to a request for additional troops made by the previous top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Gen. David McKiernan, during President George W. Bush's final year in office.

McKiernan made his requests public in a press conference in September 2008 in Afghanistan, saying he needed at least three more combat brigades, in addition to the one Bush had promised in January. He said more soldiers and resources were needed to stabilize insurgencies in Afghanistan.

"The danger is that we'll be here longer and we'll expend more resources and experience more human suffering than if we had more resources placed against this campaign sooner," McKiernan told reporters.

"The additional military capabilities that have been asked for are needed as quickly as possible," he said.

McKiernan said then that the Pentagon validated his formal request for additional troops, and that his request dated back to when he replaced his predecessor four months prior.

In a news briefing at the Pentagon on Oct. 1, 2008, McKiernan reiterated his call for more troops — "the level of effort needs to be increased" — and said he was hoping to see a shift of assets from Iraq to Afghanistan.

"I know that's a choice that has to be made here in Washington," he said.

"I think there's a common view that we need to do more; that Afghanistan has been an economy of force for the last several years," McKiernan said.  

On Feb. 17, 2009, Obama ordered the deployment of an additional 17,000 soldiers to Afghanistan.
http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2009/oct/23/robert-gibbs/white-house-spokesman-robert-gibbs-fires-back-chen/



Sorry TB, the facts just don't bear out your assertion.
Bob K
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35 posted 10-30-2009 04:38 PM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K



Dear LR,

          Thanks for the update of facts.  My memory for current history is not as good as I'd thought, and I appreciate the lesson in research as well the the information.

Sincerely, Bob Kaven
Local Rebel
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36 posted 10-31-2009 09:12 PM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

Perhaps it is just my silly notion that people make the best decisions (especially that "I" make the best decisions), when I have the correct information and that if misinformed poor choices are the outcome.

But -- it is possible that this was an opinion based on incorrect information:

quote:

How is it that people can cling to an opinion or view of a person, event, issue of the world, despite being presented with clear or mounting data that contradicts that position? The easy answer, of course, is simply that people are irrational. But a closer look at some of the particular ways and reasons we're irrational offers some interesting food for thought.

In a recently published study, a group of researchers from Northwestern University, UNC Chapel HIll, SUNY Buffalo and Millsaps College found that people often employ an approach the researchers called "motivated reasoning" when sorting through new information or arguments, especially on controversial issues. Motivated reasoning is, as UCLA public policy professor Mark Kleiman put it, the equivalent of policy-driven data, instead of data-driven policy.

In other words, if people start with a particular opinion or view on a subject, any counter-evidence can create "cognitive dissonance"--discomfort caused by the presence of two irreconcilable ideas in the mind at once. One way of resolving the dissonance would be to change or alter the originally held opinion. But the researchers found that many people instead choose to change the conflicting evidence--selectively seeking out information or arguments that support their position while arguing around or ignoring any opposing evidence, even if that means using questionable or contorted logic.

That's not a news flash to anyone who's paid attention to any recent national debate--although the researchers pointed out that this finding, itself, runs counter to the idea that the reason people continue to hold positions counter to all evidence is because of misinformation or lack of access to the correct data. Even when presented with compelling, factual data from sources they trusted, many of the subjects still found ways to dismiss it. But the most interesting (or disturbing) aspect of the Northwestern study was the finding that providing additional counter-evidence, facts, or arguments actually intensified this reaction. Additional countering data, it seems, increases the cognitive dissonance, and therefore the need for subjects to alleviate that discomfort by retreating into more rigidly selective hearing and entrenched positions.

Needless to say, these findings do not bode well for anyone with hopes of changing anyone else's mind with facts or rational discussion, especially on "hot button" issues. But why do we cling so fiercely to positions when they don't even involve us directly? Why do we care who got to the North Pole first? Or whether a particular bill has provision X versus provision Y in it? Why don't we care more about simply finding out the truth--especially in cases where one "right" answer actually exists?

Part of the reason, according to Kleiman, is "the brute fact that people identify their opinions with themselves; to admit having been wrong is to have lost the argument, and (as Vince Lombardi said), every time you lose, you die a little." And, he adds, "there is no more destructive force in human affairs--not greed, not hatred--than the desire to have been right."

So, what do we do about that? If overcoming "the desire to have been right" is half as challenging as overcoming hate or greed, the outlook doesn't seem promising. But Kleiman, who specializes in crime control policy and alternative solutions to very sticky problems (his latest book is "When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment"), thinks all is not lost. He points to the philosopher Karl Popper, who, he says, believed fiercely in the discipline and teaching of critical thinking, because "it allows us to offer up our opinions as a sacrifice, so that they die in our stead."

A liberal education, Kleiman says, "ought, above all, to be an education in non-attachment to one's current opinions. I would define a true intellectual as one who cares terribly about being right, and not at all about having been right." Easy to say, very hard to achieve. For all sorts of reasons. But it's worth thinking about. Even if it came at the cost of sacrificing or altering our most dearly-held opinions ... the truth might set us free.
http://correspondents.theatlantic.com/lane_wallace/2009/09/all_evidence_to_the_contrary.php

Huan Yi
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37 posted 12-01-2009 08:27 PM       View Profile for Huan Yi   Email Huan Yi   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Huan Yi

.


So to whom does this war belong now?
.
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38 posted 12-01-2009 10:38 PM       View Profile for Balladeer   Email Balladeer   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Balladeer's Home Page   View IP for Balladeer

Easy, John. When it goes well, it's Obama's. When it goes bad, it's all Bush's...a no-brainer.

Funny thing is that Obama and others speak about how well things are going in Iraq but somehow none of that goes back to anything Bush did, although Obama hasn't done a thing there.

Interesting how that works, isn't it?
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39 posted 12-01-2009 10:53 PM       View Profile for Balladeer   Email Balladeer   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Balladeer's Home Page   View IP for Balladeer

FACTCHECK checks out Obama's speech...

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama's speech Tuesday night did not always match the reality on the ground in Afghanistan. The president raised expectations that may be hard to meet when he told Americans his troop increase in Afghanistan will accelerate the training of that country's own forces and be accompanied by more help from allies.

A look at some of his claims and how they compare with the facts:

OBAMA: "Because this is an international effort, I have asked that our commitment be joined by contributions from our allies. Some have already provided additional troops, and we are confident that there will be further contributions in the days and weeks ahead."

THE FACTS: When Obama says he is confident that allied countries will provide more troops in the weeks ahead he is setting aside years of mostly empty-handed American efforts to get others, including allies in NATO, to deepen their commitment to combat in Afghanistan.

One reason, which Obama did not mention, is that other countries, particularly those in Europe, have viewed the conflict — and its likely solution — much differently than Washington. They have seen it primarily as a humanitarian and reconstruction mission, rather than a counterinsurgency fight. And they have pushed for greater nonmilitary means of addressing Afghanistan's instability.

For a time there also was a European sense of hangover from the U.S. invasion of Iraq and a perceived go-it-alone bent by the Bush administration.

Obama is technically correct in anticipating that some allies will offer more assistance, possibly as early as the coming week during a series of NATO consultations about how the troop requirements of commanders in Afghanistan might be met. But history has shown that these troop contributions often are incremental, sometimes slow in materializing and frequently with conditions attached.

___

OBAMA: The extra U.S. forces for Afghanistan "will increase our ability to train competent Afghan Security Forces, and to partner with them so that more Afghans can get into the fight. And they will help create the conditions for the United States to transfer responsibility to the Afghans. "

THE FACTS: The problem with Afghan forces is not just their lack of numbers. And it's not an unwillingness to fight. The problem too often is their effectiveness, once trained for combat. Too many get into the fight but don't remain or don't perform.

A major change of approach promised by Obama's new chief commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, is to partner entire U.S. and NATO combat units with newly fielded Afghan units — large and small — so the Afghans get more exposure to professional military leadership practices and combat tactics. This is an approach that was used to good effect in recent years in Iraq.

___

OBAMA: "In the past, there have been those in Pakistan who have argued that the struggle against extremism is not their fight and that Pakistan is better off doing little or seeking accommodation with those who use violence. But in recent years, as innocents have been killed from Karachi to Islamabad, it has become clear that it is the Pakistani people who are the most endangered by extremism. Public opinion has turned. The Pakistani army has waged an offensive in Swat and South Waziristan. And there is no doubt that the United States and Pakistan share a common enemy."

THE FACTS: It's true the Pakistani army this year has launched offensives against extremist elements in the areas cited by Obama. What he did not mention, however, is that the groups being targeted by the Pakistanis are those that threaten the Pakistani government — not those, also based in Pakistan, that are focused on attacking U.S. and Afghan forces on the other side of the porous border with Afghanistan.

Obama administration officials have publicly praised Pakistan for taking on the extremists in Swat and South Waziristan. But they also have made clear that they want Pakistan to put more military pressure on the Afghan-focused extremist groups, which have so far not been confronted on the Pakistan side of the border, other than by airstrikes from unmanned U.S. drones.

Among the groups not yet confronted directly by the Pakistani army is al-Qaida, whose top leader, Osama bin Laden, is believed to be hiding on the Pakistan side of the border.

___
Bob K
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40 posted 12-03-2009 01:54 AM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K



quote:
  Huan Yi:

So to whom does this war belong now?




And, in direct response, we have:

quote:

.
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  38 posted 12-01-2009 10:38 PM                        
Inappropriate content?
Easy, John. When it goes well, it's Obama's. When it goes bad, it's all Bush's...a no-brainer.

Funny thing is that Obama and others speak about how well things are going in Iraq but somehow none of that goes back to anything Bush did, although Obama hasn't done a thing there.

Interesting how that works, isn't it?




     I don't know how to answer that question, John.  I wish I did.  It's our war, meaning the war the United States walked into and hasn't gotten out of as yet.  That makes me responsible for it.  I did not want to go in and I don't want to be there now, but I'm responsible for it.  I pay taxes here.  I'm not withholding them.  I feel the guys fighting over there deserve all the support we can give them, and that we should get them out as quickly as possible.

     Is it a Republican war.  Yes it is.

     Is it a Democratic war.  Yes it is.

     Both parties have been voting monies to support it, and we haven't found a way to get out yet.  We own this war.  I think that it's a terrible mistake to be there.  That's a quarrel that I have with most of the Republican party and a good part of the Democratic party as well.  I think it's done bad things to and for this country in any number of ways.  If you'll look over my posts, I haven't been exactly secretive about them.

     Do you want to play a blame game.  I think you can blame everybody, including me for not being more obnoxious and forthright about my opposition and my reasons for opposing the thing.  There are Democrats that are as much to blame for the thing as any Republicans.  The Democrats, by and large, seem to be afraid of being called weak on any sort of military spending, and are afraid of being voted out of office for not being protective enough.  The Republicans seem to be well aware of this and have scheduled votes at times when elections were pending where Democrats had either to show that they were weak on- fill-in-the-threat-of-the-day or be voted out of office.  It's a real Democratic weakness, and it accounts for some of the spectacularly bad votes that Democrats have made over the years.  Like the vote on authorizing use of force in Iraq which Mike is fond of quoting.  This was a brilliant piece of political work, and it caught the Democrats really badly.  That's my party, the Democrats.  We've been paying for it ever since.  It was simply brilliant political work, terrible for the Democrats, and — in my opinion — terrible for the country as a whole.  I still admire the skill of it.

     I don't think we should be there now, in Iraq or in Afghanistan, but that doesn't mean we're less responsible for what we're doing there.  If you want somebody to blame, look into your mirror, and I'll look into mine.  If you want a party to blame, we can take turns blaming each other, or we can spend time blaming ourselves or do both.  It really doesn't matter.  Here we are, and it's a problem, or series of problems, we have to solve together.

     The war belongs to everybody.  It was stupid to get involved, and more than stupid.  It's horrible to remain there.  Especially without a clear set of policy goals that gives us some sort of justification for putting the lives of American troops and other personnel on the line.  These are guys we've been given a really cynical deal in this business from the beginning.  They didn't need to be there, and real care was not taken in protecting their safety.  Advantage was taken of their willingness to lay everything on the line for us by exaggerating their ability to address the threat to America by going over in the first place.  Nobody has corrected that in the meantime, and it's only gotten worse.

     The guys who are making profits on their wish to help the country and to defend the helpless here and abroad should, in my opinion, be put on trial for treason.

     President Obama worked hard for the right to bear responsibility for ending the war in Iraq.  It's my opinion that he seems to be making a solid effort to do that.  But I understand that both you and Mike see things a lot differently than I do.  If what he does works or doesn't work, the country will make up it's own mind at the polls how and where that responsibility was carried out.  Blame him or not, as you will, and vote your conscience when the time comes.

     Who does it belong to now.  My answer is that it still belongs to everybody.  If you want to blame President Obama, you should go right ahead.  He's the President, for heaven's sake; that's at least part of what he's there for.  If you want to blame President Bush, I think that's a fine idea too.  Certainly he's done his share and more in setting the thing in motion.  If you want to blame me, go ahead.  I'm a tax-payer; if I was courageous enough, I probably should have withheld taxes and gone to jail.  I simply lack the courage to do so.  If you want to blame yourself, I reasonably certain any reasonably searching self-inventory would probably turn up something.  Perhaps not.

     I don't think it really matters.

     I think what matters is a clear policy understanding of what our goals are in that neck of the woods, whether those goals are necessary to our national self interest and are worth the sacrifice in blood and treasure, and  then the formulation of a clear and understandable national strategy for exactly what we are going to do, why we are going to do it, and how we are going to know when we're done, so that we can get out.  Then a plan for doing so that leaves us clean as a broomstick coming out of a finished loaf of bread.

     That's what matters.

     Figuring out who to blame is is a grubby and useless business in comparison.  It only helps you feel good until the other person comes back with their rebuttal, and in the it simply supplies a new series of provocations.

     At least that's what I think.  But then I'm at least partly to blame myself, so what do I know?  
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41 posted 12-03-2009 01:25 PM       View Profile for Balladeer   Email Balladeer   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Balladeer's Home Page   View IP for Balladeer

Figuring out who to blame is is a grubby and useless business in comparison.

Translated, that means that if there's a chance a Democrat is to blame, figuring it out is grubby. On the other hand, should a Republican be at blame, they are fair game to be castrated...like Iraq, the economy, Hurrican Katrina, Abu Ghrab, Gitmo, all of which Democrats (and, yes, you, Bob) showed no hesitation in placing blame. Funny how it works out that way..........
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42 posted 12-03-2009 03:15 PM       View Profile for Grinch   Email Grinch   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Grinch

quote:
So to whom does this war belong now?


The US.

You broke it - you own it.

.
Bob K
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43 posted 12-04-2009 03:38 AM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K



    
Dear Mike,

           I said what I thought, then and now.  I pretty much always make a point of doing that.  If I think Democrats have a role, I say so.  I also try to say how much a role.  If I think the Republicans have a role, I say that as well.  I said, not all that long ago, that I thought President Bush Senior may have sacrificed his chances for re-election by raising taxes during his term in office, but that he also laid the groundwork for much of the prosperity in the 90's.  I said I admired him for that.  I felt when I said that President George Herbert Walker Bush had courage.  I still feel that.  I admire the fact that he knew when to stop in Iraq.

     I have never let somebody's party get in the way of my expression of admiration for them or for my expression of upset for them when I felt that was deserved.  I have criticized and praised Democrats and Republicans in the things I've said in these pages and privately as well.  I've had about enough of you suggesting otherwise.  It demonstrates that you often don't read what I write, and that those times when you bother, you don't pay attention to what I say.  Otherwise, for example, you'd know that I've criticized President Obama for what I see as his lack of action on torture, and for his defense of people who've been responsible for committing it, either now or in the past.  You would know that I don't regard him as being liberal enough, and that I think of him as Republican Lite.  You would know that I think that he hasn't pushed the public option on health care anywhere near hard enough, and that I think the country is getting the short end of things because of that.

quote:


On the other hand, should a Republican be at blame, they are fair game to be castrated...like Iraq, the economy, Hurrican Katrina, Abu Ghrab, Gitmo, all of which Democrats (and, yes, you, Bob) showed no hesitation in placing blame.




     Indeed I did not.  In each of these situations I placed blame where I thought it should be placed.  Mostly it was with the administration in charge at the time these things happened, where the blame is customarily placed, but if you'll recall in all or almost all of these situations I had words for the part that various Democrats had to play in the matter as well.  Especially around the issues around torture, I was clear that I thought the Democrats had not stood up as they should have.  Around the war in Iraq, I was upset about the Democrats being afraid to take more of a stand because of being over a barrel around the upcoming elections at the time.  I also gave credit to the Republicans for some very clever political work.  Not simply in the piece just above.  I don't like it, but it's true.

     I was not hesitant about laying blame wherever I thought it should go.  

     I never had the illusion my comments could castrate anybody.  Nor that any laying out of somebody's honest opinion of the truth could do so.  The truth may not always set you free, but it's generally a decent place to start a conversation about what to do about a difficult situation.

     The utility of saying what was going on in the situations you mentioned above was that at least opened the possibility of knowing where and how some sort of solution might be pursued.  That is, in terms of Gitmo and Abu Grahib, for example, stopping the use of torture and getting back to the use of interrogation techniques that have worked well for us in the past, and which don't tend to alienate potential allies.  And which don't lose support at home, by the way.

     Do you want me to say what the Democrats did wrong?  Would that help?  

     A lot of The PATRIOT ACT was off the shelf from stuff thought up from Joe Lieberman and some other rightward leaning Democrats.  So was a lot of the Homeland Security stuff.  And those Democrats got a lot of other Democrats to support it.  And they should all be ashamed of themselves.  And I'm ashamed to have been a Democrat around that stuff.  Does that make you happy?

     I'll bet not.  Because I've never heard you disapprove of any of it, and I've only heard you speak approvingly of all of it.  Perhaps I'm wrong, though.  I hope so.


quote:

Translated, that means that if there's a chance a Democrat is to blame, figuring it out is grubby.




     Remember what I said about you not reading what I wrote?  This would be an example of that.  "Figuring out who to blame is is a grubby and useless business in comparison[. . .]" did not suggest it was useless to figure out who to blame, or that fixing blame wouldn't provide entertainment for those who wish to pursue it.  It does.  It doesn't even suggest that the Democrats are very much to blame or that their culpability should be ignored.  Should you find that sort of things rewarding, by all means, go right ahead.   You may have held back in the past; no need to continue, please go ahead.

     What it does suggest is that there is something that's actually more important for the country.  I am silly enough to go ahead and state what that is, the thing that may actually be more important than scoring points for the Party.


quote:


     I think what matters is a clear policy understanding of what our goals are in that neck of the woods, whether those goals are necessary to our national self interest and are worth the sacrifice in blood and treasure, and  then the formulation of a clear and understandable national strategy for exactly what we are going to do, why we are going to do it, and how we are going to know when we're done, so that we can get out.  Then a plan for doing so that leaves us clean as a broomstick coming out of a finished loaf of bread.




     I don't know which I find more upsetting.  You may have read that and understood it; or that you may have read that and not understood it.  

Yours,  Bob Kaven


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I've had about enough of you suggesting otherwise

Sorry, Bob, your chickens are coming home to roost. You have set a world record in using the phrase "the past eight years". Your blame-laying on Bush has been relentless and constant. I could easily list your accusations and insults here but why bother? You know them. Whenever you have said anything against a democrat, it has been a handslap or with the tone of disappointment, nothing even similar to what you have used in your republican accusations. If you are tired of my suggestions, imagine how tired I am of your constant barrage against Bush AND the military. Now that a situation has come up where Obama just MIGHT be making the wrong decision, your tone is basically like "Let's no waste time laying blame", a complete reversal of your actions of the past. In the previous thread where I listed all of the lies Gore has been caught in, instead of responding to them, you simply ignore them and revert to Bush/Cheney bashing. Your "blame game" goes one direction only and that's the way I call it.
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45 posted 12-04-2009 09:32 PM       View Profile for Bob K   Email Bob K   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Bob K

12/4/09

Dear Mike,

          I see that you almost made it halfway through paragraph two.  Good on you!

     Would you care to come up with things that I've said about the military that haven't been said by the military itself?  I'd like you to show me, in context, five or six things that I've said against the troops, with appropriate references:  I support the troops and feel they've been cynically used by the politicians.  I wanted them to get appropriate weapons and supplies so that they could at least defend themselves well while Rumsfeld was prevaricating on the matter.  That I thought was a betrayal of the troops.  

     Where was your voice on that matter, Mike?  Are you going to cite your comments on that matter for us?  Or did you give that one a pass?

     When the President was giving orders about treatment of prisoners that the JAG was saying weren't in the best interest of the troops, where were you, Mike?  On the side of the troops or on the side of the folks who were making things more difficult for them,  The Pols?  

quote:

Sorry, Bob, your chickens are coming home to roost. You have set a world record in using the phrase "the past eight years". Your blame-laying on Bush has been relentless and constant. I could easily list your accusations and insults here but why bother? You know them. Whenever you have said anything against a democrat, it has been a handslap or with the tone of disappointment, nothing even similar to what you have used in your republican accusations.



     Chickens?  I wasn't asking you to go light on Democrats Mike.  If you'd actually read what I wrote, you'd know that.  If you actually read this, you'll know that.  My hopes aren't high.  I was asking that everybody consider what we should have considered about Iraq when we went in originally.  What we were going to do, why we were going to do it, etc.  In the unlikely even that you want some more details, I laid them out in the previous postings here.  

     I'm not asking for forgiveness.  I said what I thought about Bush and the Republican administration.  There is no difficulty at all in using the phrase “the last eight years” as frequently as I have.  The events that have occurred in that time frame have, from my point of view, not been happy ones, and they’ve had considerable effects on current events.  Work on a parachute makes no sense unless you’re willing to admit that you’re in free fall.  It also helps to understand how you got there in the first place, so you don’t cut the chute cords when the thing’s opened.  

     That’s why I talk about the last eight years.  I’ve spoken about other reasons at other times as well.  They haven’t gone away either.  I’d better be relentless and constant.  There are guys around who are in a hurry to pretend it didn’t happen, and who want people to look other places.  If I shut up, I have no assurances that somebody will take my place.  You won’t.  You don’t even appreciate that I call our last President “President Bush” instead of some dismissive or obscene excuse for a nickname.  You routinely use that sort of language around Presidents Carter and Clinton.

     I don’t feel the need to make you happy with the amount of abuse I heap on my own party members.  I do feel the need to acknowledge responsibility for having done stuff wrong, where and what.  When Rep. Washington was caught with his money in his freezer, I said that he should be tried like anybody else.  I wasn’t in a hurry to see him railroaded, nor did I wish to stick up for him.  Sorry, I figure that justice is okay with me:  Same with Abramoff — trial, the man didn’t need to be crucified, but a trial definitely.  

     I thought that a really active prosecution might well have reached into the White House.  I didn’t need that.
I would have liked to see some actual action on some of the mess around the Vice-President’s office.  I think there was some actual extra-legal stuff going on there.  It might have, though, turned into a case where the guys would have “gotten off on technicalities.”  I think that’s a decent outcome.  I think it’s a constitutional outcome.  If I think that it should be available to people who are poor and underprivileged and who may occasionally be snakes and guilty in addition, then I have to say that it should apply to people who are rich and very privileged and who are occasionally snakes and guilty in addition.  The constitution is a document that should have stuff in it that offends everybody.  It not there to be popular, it’s there to give a set of decent guidelines.

     I think there are as many snakes who are Republicans as there are Democrats.  I simply feel more comfortable with the Democratic snakes.  At least thats the way its been for a lot longer than the last eight years.

     When I say “I’ve had about enough of you suggesting otherwise,” it’s about this assertion of yours —

quote:

Translated, that means that if there's a chance a Democrat is to blame, figuring it out is grubby. On the other hand, should a Republican be at blame, they are fair game to be castrated...like Iraq, the economy, Hurricane Katrina, Abu Ghraib, Gitmo, all of which Democrats (and, yes, you, Bob) showed no hesitation in placing blame.



     Please show me where I’ve said that when a Democrat is to blame that figuring it out is grubby.  I have blamed Democrats and even myself as a Democrat for things here in the past.  And I have praised Republicans.  Nor have you been able to show otherwise.  I have been critical of President Obama on those issues where I have disagreements with him.  I have done that in discussion with you, I believe, in reference to Obama’s position on torture and on his lack of action on the Patriot Act.  I have frequently called the man “Republican Lite.”   This is a criticism of his lack of political liberalism.

     My criticisms of the man and of my party don’t have to meet the Mike Mack political correctness test.  I actually reserve the right to have my own differences with the people of my own party.

     What is grubby for either of us to pursue partisan politics to the exclusion of getting the important questions answered.  Partisan away, Guy, so long as there’s enough time left for discussion of how to protect the troops.  You know, the people you say are important and whom you are now throwing under the bus to score some points?  Those folks.  Unless we get some real answers to these questions, we’re going to get extra troop killed.

     Where do we want our troops?

     What purpose will they serve there?  No feel-good answers allowed.  No “world peace” or “better over there than over here” vagueness.  Unless we have a clear answer that ends in troops can do this and investment can’t or bombing can’t or blockade can’t or tractors can’t, then we need to do the things that don’t involve troops.

     How badly do we want them there?  Are we willing to pay for them to be there, and support them with money, goods, and a supply of fresh soldiers, or are we simply running our mouths until the debt burden and the loss of life gets too high?  Are we really serious?

     How will we know that we’ve done the thing that we said we wanted to do, and that we’re done.  We can’t do that now.  We don’t have any actual clear markers that will tell us that we’re done.  There’s nothing that says, “finished!”  There’s no quitting bell, there’s no time clock with the big hand on 12 and the little hand on six, there’s no specific amount of oil flowing into the tanks of any single country, there are no particular towns that have fallen to any particular set of troops.  We don’t know.

     That means that there are yahoos that can drag this thing out forever so that you can’t change horses in the middle of the stream.

     And there are many more.  Don’t you think that the troops deserve to have those dealt with?

Sincerely, Bob Kaven  

 
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