Creating Allies and Enemies

The right wing is not really made up of warmongers, as the radical left and its pals in the entertainment and media fields would have the world believe. Where we advocate for military action without such provocation as makes war unequivocally necessary, it isn’t because we do not value the lives of foreign nationals, but because we see the threat to humanity of inaction as greater. In recent wars, we’ve also noted the benefit of freeing the people whom hostile regimes have oppressed, under the theory that stable democracies are less of a threat to the world than dictatorships. And with the reality of weapons of mass destruction, there isn’t much margin for error.
So it’s disheartening to read that President Obama may be considering the path of short-term ease:

… the debate goes deeper than the question of American troops. Obama has questioned whether the broad U.S. “counterinsurgency” strategy — improving government, combating corruption and economic development — is worth committing the extra troops such approaches require.

Following the chillingly dubbed “Biden Plan,” would actually be worse:

Rather than trying to protect the Afghan population from the Taliban, American forces would concentrate on strikes against al-Qaeda cells, primarily in Pakistan, using special forces, Predator missile attacks and other surgical tactics.

As a strategic matter, promising freedom to the native population was the key to pulling Iraq back from the brink of the dreaded quagmire. Even the infamous terrain of Afghanistan is not an inevitable repellent to foreign forces when they are fighting in harmony, rather than tension, with civilians. Periodic strikes from a distant superpower, even though the intention is to surgically extract an organization of terrorist thugs, will resonate among the people as a species of terrorism.
In balance against the oppressive Taliban regime asserting power domestically, al Qaeda will not appear to Afghans or Pakistanis as worth the regular disruption of American strikes (with the inevitable periodic misfire). Indeed, Islamofascists in the governments and their allies in the terrorist organization will have a propaganda bonanza.

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Warrington Faust
Warrington Faust
11 years ago

It is indeed chilling to find oneself in even partial agreement with Joe Biden. Still, it does appear that he recalls our original mission. That mission, for which our troops are in Afghanistan, is to kill Taliban and al Qaeda.
It is my impression that Afghans have small interest in being a nation, they are presently satisfied with their village structure.
So I think I would favor reducing our forces to a number (15-30,000) of special operations soldiers. That number could be supplied entirely by air, thus eliminating our need to “pacify” large areas of real estate and make it safe for transport. That would free the military to do what it does best, kill the enemy.

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
11 years ago

Bringing “democracy” to Afghanistan is like starting a pork exporting business to Israel.It doesn’t make sense.
The only reason we should be there is to kill as amny Taliban/Al Qaeda as possible.to that end,why did we ever get rid of napalm?It worked really well in Vietnam.And the Vietnamese had no interest in destroying the US.sometimes it seems the worse an enemy is,the more circumspect we are with them.Are we afraid they’ll get pissed off(hint:they already are and staying pissed off)or something?
War is anot a nation building process.We need honesty about what we are doing.That isn’t Barry’s strong suit.I think speechmaking and schmoozing with friendly media is.
So I hope sincerely we will not endlessly feed American and allied troops into a never ending conflict without an end game.
What the hell,it’s not the kids at Brown who will be coming home in Alcoa boxes after all.Too bad.THEN we’d have to fish or cut bait,because THEIR parents count.Some things never change.
if anyone thinks I’m too hard on Barry,please ask me my opinion of draft dodging chickenhawks like Cheney,Perle,and Wolfowitz.Rumsfeld sucked big time also,but he wasn’t a draft dodger.He served in the interwar period.

Justin Katz
11 years ago

Joe,
My point is that we will not succeed in our objectives against al Qaeda if don’t enlist at least tepid support from the Afghan people. We’ll strengthen al Qaeda.
Now, the lengths to which we go to establish democracy during our mission and after its completion represent a distinct question, but being an aloof power that flies through and drops bombs on a regular basis will not fail to exacerbate our long-term problems.

Dan
Dan
11 years ago

“In recent wars, we’ve also noted the benefit of freeing the people whom hostile regimes have oppressed”
Heaven help us when somebody larger than us decides that we are being oppressed by our own government!
From Keene, NH yesterday, epicenter of the Free State Project:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=veffoSf4oW4
A daily gathering of 70-100 people has been congregating in the central park to protest the insane Drug War that the United States government has been waging against its own people for victimless “crimes.”
Maybe a country like China will decide to free us some day?

Justin Katz
11 years ago

And thus do libertarians become relativists… as if all rules must apply equally well to free democracies and unfree tyrannies.
If the American people did not believe an invading Chinese army offered an increase in freedom, they’d present the same problem to the Chinese that I’m suggesting the Afghans will to us, if we disregard their interests.

Dan
Dan
11 years ago

“If the American people did not believe an invading Chinese army offered an increase in freedom, they’d present the same problem to the Chinese that I’m suggesting the Afghans will to us, if we disregard their interests.”
That’s the first time I’ve agreed with you on a non-fiscal matter in a while. With the one caveat that we would not need $10 billion stealth bombers and a standing army of millions of Americans to do it.
Now can we make a small logical step from your statement and agree that people are capable of freeing themselves from their own tyrannical governments without foreign interventionism if there are enough people within a country who feel strongly enough to do so?

Andrew
Editor
11 years ago

Dan,
Defining the liberty that an individual is entitled to in terms of how much liberty his neighbors want and how much liberty his government says he can have undercuts the basis for objecting to any government’s suppression of basic rights. If it’s OK for the Chinese government to suppress basic rights, then it is similarly OK for a “democratic” government to do the same, so long as it can say that not many people seriously objected to a repressive law that was passed or action that was taken.
Quietly accepting that any government — even foreign governments — should be allowed to restrict the scope of individual rights inevitably betrays and weakens the foundation of libertarianism.

Dan
Dan
11 years ago

The distinction is that being unwilling to violently intervene into another country’s internal affairs through military interventionism is not the same as condoning how that country decides to treat its own citizens.
Surely you do not grab your gun and break down the door of your neighbor’s house or apartment every time you hear them having an abusive argument. Individuals cannot function that way for long, and neither can countries, because it’s only a matter of time before the interventionees begin to rally together against the strong-arming busy body interventionist who asserts moral superiority and that he can run their households better than they can.
It is not moral or wise to police the world. Nobody elected us to do so, and we do not have nearly enough money, men, or resources. Especially during the worst recession in 70 years.

Warrington Faust
Warrington Faust
11 years ago

“If the American people did not believe an invading Chinese army offered an increase in freedom, they’d present the same problem to the Chinese that I’m suggesting the Afghans will to us, if we disregard their interests.”
One of the seldom discussed revelations from the end of the “cold war” is that Russia never seriously considered invading the U.S., a country of armed citizens with Jeeps.
“That’s the first time I’ve agreed with you on a non-fiscal matter in a while. With the one caveat that we would not need $10 billion stealth bombers and a standing army of millions of Americans to do it.”
That is true, have you ever seen a test of a fuel-air bomb?
“My point is that we will not succeed in our objectives against al Qaeda if don’t enlist at least tepid support from the Afghan people. We’ll strengthen al Qaeda.”
Although I am not certain about al Queda, it is not my impression that the Afghans are too happy with the Taliban.

Justin Katz
11 years ago

Dan,
Your analogy doesn’t address the point that I’m making. Try this:
The neighbor has a boarder who has attacked us and whom we’ve every reason to believe will do so again, given the chance. The “Biden Plan” calls for us to remain outside (while the boarder’s pals damage the house from the inside) and throw rocks through the window, trying to hit the villain. At some point, our neighbor is going to turn against us, especially because such boarders tend to be very agile at deflecting blame onto those outside.
I’m suggesting that we have to knock on the neighbor’s door and do what we can to help him maintain his household while we pummel the boarder.

Andrew
Editor
11 years ago

The analogy breaks down for an even more important reason — unless you would also deny individuals the right to intervene in assaults they see occurring in a public.
For there to be a difference in the two situations, you have to equate a country to being the personal property of its government. There is nothing libertarian in that parallel. It is, in fact, about as statist as you can get.

Dan
Dan
11 years ago

“For there to be a difference in the two situations, you have to equate a country to being the personal property of its government. There is nothing libertarian in that parallel. It is, in fact, about as statist as you can get.” That’s ridiculous. Just because libertarians don’t advocate warring against other nations as a nation unless we have been attacked doesn’t mean we condone everything other nations do or consider those other governments to be owners of their people. It’s not hypocrisy to acknowledge that our violent actions have severe repercussions even when they are well-intentioned, and that we do not have the money, men, or resources to police the world. That is simply a recognition of reality. We also recognize that the people within those countries have a self-defense right that they have chosen not to exercise for whatever reason. “The neighbor has a boarder who has attacked us and whom we’ve every reason to believe will do so again, given the chance. The “Biden Plan” calls for us to remain outside (while the boarder’s pals damage the house from the inside) and throw rocks through the window, trying to hit the villain. At some point, our neighbor is going to turn against us, especially because such boarders tend to be very agile at deflecting blame onto those outside.” We were attacked once, Justin, once. Yes, it was horrible and a lot of people died. But it took the attackers years of planning and massive intelligence and internal policing failures on our part. How all of that translates into invading and occupying two countries for a decade, one of which had nothing to do with the attack whatsoever, I cannot comprehend, and neither can most of the American people apparently. I have read reports and studies to the… Read more »

EMT
EMT
11 years ago

they’d present the same problem to the Chinese that I’m suggesting the Afghans will to us
Nope. Not enough Americans own weapons (don’t laugh), and even less would have the will or ability to resist. America haven’t had 4 generations living in a warzone.

OldTimeLefty
11 years ago

Justin says

Where we advocate for military action without such provocation as makes war unequivocally necessary, it isn’t because we do not value the lives of foreign nationals, but because we see the threat to humanity of inaction as greater.

My comment

So we kill people in order to keep from destroying people. Sounds a lot like “We had to destroy the village in order to save it.”

Justin continues

In recent wars, we’ve also noted the benefit of freeing the people whom hostile regimes have oppressed, under the theory that stable democracies are less of a threat to the world than dictatorships.

My comment

That’s why we shake hands with the Saudis?

Justin goes on, and on, and on

And with the reality of weapons of mass destruction, there isn’t much margin for error.

My comment

After all, we’ve never used atomic weapons. We’re the good guys.

OldTimeLefty

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