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Hoppe and Afghanistan

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GooPC Posted: Fri, Feb 24 2012 10:00 AM

Hoppe has the theory that the most internally liberal states are paradoxical the most imperialist powers. I was looking at Afghanistan and the US vs. Soviet invasions.

In 9 years the Soviet Union killed 75,000-90,000 Afghan Mujahedeen and 600,000-2,000,000 civilians. In 10 years the US has only killed 36,790-40,966 Afghan fighters and 14,000-34,000 civilians.

Shouldn't the US's much stronger economy and thus military have allowed it to cause much more damage in Afghanistan? Perhaps "natives killed" is the wrong metric to determine how imperialist a country is. Any thoughts?

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Vitor replied on Fri, Feb 24 2012 10:46 AM

Current american forces are much better in a military sense than soviet forces from 25 years ago, and the most bloody wars tend to be the ones where opposite forces are more balanced, see WW1 and WW2. 

Actually your example supports Hoppe's vision, since the less restricted american economy allows a more efficient army that can sustain imperalistic interverions and operations for much longer for not struggling and facing as many casualities as an army of a fully socialist country.

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Marko replied on Fri, Feb 24 2012 11:02 AM

You must broaden your sights. No doubt Soviet occupation of Afghanistan was more lethal than American occupation of Afghanistan. However why take such a limited sample and look at just one country? Since they are easily avaliable there is no reason not to compare longer records, for example the whole Cold War period from 1945 through 1991. In which case it is easily apparent the US has a longer list of interventions and a higher bodycount (just from Vietnam and Korea).

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Kakugo replied on Sat, Feb 25 2012 3:05 AM

One of the reasons is the US are fighting (and being beaten by) a much smaller and less well equipped insurgent force. The Soviets were fighting  a loose coalition of Pashtun tribesmen, Tajik warlords and foreign volunteers (mostly from Saudi Arabia), armed and equipped by Pakistan which acted as a proxy for the US, Saudi Arabia and, possibly, China. Much has been written about the Stinger MANPADS but it was only the tip of the iceberg. The mujaheedin were constantly supplied with light weapons, mortars, anti tank weapons, explosives and ammunition. Wounded mujaheedin and Afghani (foreign fighters) were treated in Pakistan using funds from Saudi "charities". Pakistan also provided sanctuary to the mujaheedin crossing the border: Soviet helicopters and aircraft which violated the Pakistani borders in pursuit were immediately shot down by F16's kept in a 24 hours CAP, no questions asked.

By contrast the modern Afghan resistance is ethnically and culturally much more homogenous (being mostly made up of Pashtun/Pathan) and has far fewer resources. Weapons are a mixture of old models (with the ancient British Lee-Enfield being very prominent and much appreciated for its ability to defeat NATO standard body armor at long distances) and explosives are home made, mostly with nitrate-based fertilizers obtained in neighboring countries. These fertilizers are one of the great misteries of the Afghan war: as one US military officers said "We have no idea how they move literally tons of the stuff across the country without anybody noticing". This in spite of employing aerial surveillance vehicles and CIA operatives on the ground in unprecedented numbers. One of the most disturbing recent development of the war is the apparition of ghazi or "warriors of the faith". While the usual insurgent tactics involve sniping, suicide squads to assassinate foreign military personnel or government figures, roadside bombs etc, ghazi operate differently. They always operate in large numbers (sometimes over 500 men) and they are used to try overrun insolated foreign military outposts. They are somewhat comparable to the dervishes the British met in the Sudan in the fact that, eschewing long range fire, they try to close in fast as they can. Though it may seem suicidal in face of the immense firepower even an infantry platoon has available, these tactics deny the use of air power to provide support. Drones and jet "fast movers" are useless to provide support in close fighting as is the fearsome AC130 Spectre. The risk of friendly fire casualties is too high. I say "disturbing" because, again, in face of drones and operatives on the ground the guerrilla fighters seem to be able to move around larger forces without anybody noticing and with access to limited resources.

Another of the reasons the Soviets were able to do even more damage is the fact they employed completely different tactics from NATO. NATO uses far fewer troops and employs little or no heavy armor (the first tank unit arrived last year: like the ghazi it indicates the conflict is escalating at a very fast pace). The Red Army was trained and geared to operate in very large, unwieldy units which left a path of complete destruction in their wake. Soviets were also notoriously short on "smart" munitions: to do the work of a couple F18's armed with GPS and laser guided bombs they had to call in air strike after air strike of Sukhoi fighter-bombers armed with iron bombs. Finally let's not forget the training: while NATO is deploying the best troops in the area, the Soviets usually deployed second-line units made up of conscripts. As Louis XIV noted back in his days after witnessing the effects of limited conscription firsthand "Peoples' wars tend to be much bloodier than kings' wars".

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Marko replied on Sat, Feb 25 2012 4:29 AM

These were individual crimes, which the 40th Army could try to prevent or punish more or less eff ectively. Others were inherent in the nature of the war against a determined but elusive enemy who could merge almost at will with the civilian population. For the soldiers, this war without fronts was particularly terrifying and confusing. You could be blown up by a mine at any moment. The bearded peasant cultivating his field could next minute be fi ring at you from ambush or laying a bomb; or you might be shot in the back by a woman or even a child. And so the soldiers learned to shoot fi rst regardless of the consequences. They reacted or overreacted savagely, either to defend themselves or to revenge their losses, calling in an air strike or a bombardment by artillery or tanks against villages they suspected of harbouring mujahedin or of firing on their troops, and leaving them in a pile of smoking rubble.

Alexander Rutskoi, an air-force colonel and Hero of the Soviet Union, told the Russian parliament after the war was over, ‘A kishlak fires at us and kills someone. I send up a couple of planes and there is nothing left of the kishlak. After I’ve burned a couple of kishlaks they stop shooting.’ Vitali Krivenko tells how his company of the 12th Guards Motor-rifle Regiment was manning a roadblock outside Herat. There were two kishlaks nearby. One was deserted, but there were thought to be mujahedin lurking there. The population of the other was friendly. Helicopters were brought in, but they attacked the wrong village. By the time the mistake had been sorted out, the friendly village had been destroyed. ‘So what?’ Krivenko commented. ‘How many other villages got wiped out, for good reason or simply for fun?’

Even when soldiers and their commanders had the best intentions, things could go wrong. It is a fundamental weakness of any counterinsurgency campaign that, too often, there comes a moment when a commander’s duty to preserve the lives of his soldiers overrides any wish he may have to spare the lives of civilians. Valeri Shiryaev was involved in just such a case. He was travelling with a convoy of tankers and supply lorries which was half a mile long and moved very slowly. It was preceded by sappers and a few BMPs. The rearguard consisted of more BMPs and four tanks. The convoy came under fire as it was passing through a village. Several tankers were hit and had to be pushed off the road. By the time the shooting had lasted for thirty minutes, four soldiers had been killed and others wounded. In the end the commander of the column ordered the tanks to open fire on the village, even though he knew there must be women and children in it. Each tank fired five salvoes and the village was destroyed. The commander was later reprimanded for not having ordered his tanks to fire sooner.

The result was devastation. ‘The aircraft flew over the “green zone”,’ wrote Alexander Prokhanov in one of his short stories, ‘dropped bombs, flattened the gardens and the walls around them, reached down to destroy the roots of the plants, diverted and blocked up the underground arteries of the irrigation system, smashed the kishlaks to dust, burned up the very oxygen with the heat of their explosions, and turned the valley into a lunar landscape, grey, friable, where the insects, the seeds, the bacteria, the pollen of the flowers were dying in agony. Sterile and dry, like an overheated crucible, the plain lay bathed in sunshine.’

Several attempts were made by outside observers to chronicle the abuses of human rights committed by all sides in the fighting between 1978 and 2001. In 1984 the United Nations appointed Felix Ermacora, an Austrian human rights lawyer, to investigate, and his reports came out regularly over the next ten years.13 The Afghanistan Justice Project (AJP) issued another report covering the period 1978–2001, from the Communist coup in April 1978 until the first year of the US/NATO intervention.

The Afghan and Soviet governments initially refused to cooperate with Ermacora, though he was able to visit Afghanistan several times towards the end of the war and thereafter. His earlier reports were therefore largely based on interviews with refugees. Some four hundred thousand people had already fled to Pakistan before the Russians invaded. By the time Ermacora started his studies, the number had risen to 4 million. By the end of the war, he estimated, there were million Afghan refugees in Iran and Pakistan out of a population of 19.5 million.

These people provided many credible accounts of specific abuses by Soviet and government forces: arbitrary arrest, detention without trial, torture, execution, the killing of prisoners, individual and collective rape, the killing of women and children, the bombardment of villages, and the massacre of civilians. Not surprisingly, the witnesses were unable to give details of the units involved or their commanders. It was usually unclear whether the crimes were committed by Afghan or Soviet soldiers, though there is little doubt that Afghan soldiers were as brutal as the Russians in their treatment of Afghan civilians. The AJP report, which accepted that the Soviets had ended the mass slaughter which took place under Taraki and Amin, nevertheless concluded that they bore a general responsibility even for abuses committed by their allies because of their entrenched position in the Afghan government and military.


From: Afghantsy: The Russians in Afghanistan 1979-1989
 

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Very good analysis Kakugo.

What do you see as the future of the Afghan war, especially in light of the recent wave of anti-American protests there? Is this the beginning of a popular revolt against occupation, which will ironically oust the U.S. in the same way as Assad is going to be ousted? It's a funny situation. The U.S. and Co. is no doubt covertly financing and arming the opposition in Syria and Iran right now, as it did in Egypt and Libya...perhaps Iran and Co. (China, Russia) will do the same for the opposition in Afghanistan and/or Iraq? New proxy war?

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Marko replied on Sat, Feb 25 2012 3:05 PM

In reality the Russians are propping up the American war in Afghanistan, were upset when America suggested it would withraw in 2014, and were the only significant backer of the Northern Alliance before 2001. The idea the Russians would supply the Taleban is bizzare.

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Malachi replied on Sat, Feb 25 2012 3:28 PM
There were only about 45,000 estimated taliban in 2001. Its mathematically impossible to equal those totals if the united states only engages combatants. And the operating forces have largely recognized the difference between regular afghans and taliban. The soviets were fighting regular afghans like gulbuddin hekmatyar. Furthermore, ideologically soviets were more open to things like punishment of civilian populations.

the correct metric for imperialism is the counterpart weasel-word, "influence." how much influence does a country's government have?

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In reality the Russians are propping up the American war in Afghanistan, were upset when America suggested it would withraw in 2014, and were the only significant backer of the Northern Alliance before 2001. The idea the Russians would supply the Taleban is bizzare.

The enemy of my enemy is my friend. Depending on the actions of the U.S. (especially viz. Iran), the Russian interest in harming the U.S. in the ME by assisting the Taliban might exceed their interest in opposing the Taliban for other reasons (e.g. suppressing Islamist movements in Russia itself). The same with China. It's participated to some extent with the WOT, for various reasons, but depending on actions by the U.S., China might be willing to risk the spread of Islamist movements in order to harm the U.S.

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Kakugo replied on Sun, Feb 26 2012 3:36 AM

The US has made two fatal mistakes in Afghanistan. First, they had no idea of the situation on the ground. The fact they picked a Tajik warlord from the Northern Alliance as their chief puppet means they understood very little even about the ethnical make-up of the country. Second, they have always lacked long term plans for Afghanistan. For example at the moment nobody knows what will happen after 2014. Over the course of the years we have been told we were in Afghanistan for the pipelines, for the mineral resources, to build military bases to "encircle" China etc. All these may have been valid points at some time but they surely weren't part of a long term plan because there has never been a long term plan. Just like we were in Iraq "for the oil" and now PetroChina and Rosfnet are more deeply entrenched in Iraq than they have ever been while Saddam was in charge.

Right now the only plan has become to somehow proclaim victory and get out of there. The costs of maintaining a single soldier there are simply staggering, both politically and economically. And God only knows how much money has been literally flushed down the drain trying to "build a nation". Again this withdrawal is part of ever changing medium-term plans in Washington: right now the proponents of "limited intervention" are on a meteoric rise after their success in ousting Khadafi in Lybia while the "nation builders" are in full retreat due to their dismal failure in Iraq. With both tight money and the need to keep large garrisons in such places as Germany and Korea "nation building" is becoming less and less fashionable.

Syria is the proving ground for the "limited intervention" people. It's a much tougher nut to crack than Lybia. While President Assad is a tyrant, he is far more moderate than Khadafi, his father or Mubarak ever were. While not exactly beloved by most of his people he's seen as a much better alternative than a Saudi-backed religious extremist or a US-installed military strongman. There are disturbing reports the "Syrian resistance" is actually made up of foreign mercenaries and CIA hirelings with the British military providing C3I. While it was easy to find disaffected people in Lybia (after all Khadafi favored his own clan and allied tribes at everybody else's expenses) apparently President Assad is a better equilibrist and managed to find a way to balance his power. Much more critically Assad has pampered his army while Khadafi allowed it to become rife with dissent. The Syrian military isn't defecting in droves as we were led to believe. I also find myself wondering at the need of all the propaganda and truth-building about Syria... after all there is no peace movement to speak of anymore and nobody asked my consent when it was time send troops to Lebanon, Iraq, Somalia etc.

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Marko replied on Sun, Feb 26 2012 5:09 AM

Depending on the actions of the U.S. (especially viz. Iran), the Russian interest in harming the U.S. in the ME by assisting the Taliban might exceed their interest in opposing the Taliban for other reasons (e.g. suppressing Islamist movements in Russia itself).

Sure, but it is not going to actually happen. As surprising as this may sound the world does not revolve around the US. Russia has other, more long-term, concerns that are always going to weight higher.

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Marko replied on Sun, Feb 26 2012 5:14 AM

And the operating forces have largely recognized the difference between regular afghans and taliban. The soviets were fighting regular afghans like gulbuddin hekmatyar.

So your "regular Afghan" is a militant Islamist ideologue? Hekmatyar is in fact exactly like the Taleban only rather than an irreparable hillbilly he is university-educated (which actually makes him less of a regular Afghan).

Also you do know Gulbuddin is active in the Afghan resistance this time as well? So what now, he stopped being a "regular Afghan"?

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Malachi replied on Sun, Feb 26 2012 9:40 AM
So your "regular Afghan" is a militant Islamist ideologue?
by regular afghan I mean he is a product of afghanistan and representative of its people in his social role. I do not suggest that a warlord is the same as a farmer. The taliban are refugees from pakistani madrasas. They are not representative of afghanistan or its people.
Hekmatyar is in fact exactly like the Taleban only rather than an irreparable hillbilly he is university-educated (which actually makes him less of a regular Afghan).
I see why you would lump the two together but there are plenty of people like hekmatyar in afgh that the us military are not at war with and who go about their business largely unmolested. That same can not be said of afghan warlords (like hekmatyar) during the soviet occuppation.
Also you do know Gulbuddin is active in the Afghan resistance this time as well? So what now, he stopped being a "regular Afghan"?
like newt gingrich, he is in it for the money. He isnt going to "win" any wars, he is acting to strengthen his own position and add to his wealth. Notice the us is largely ignoring him.
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Marko replied on Sun, Feb 26 2012 10:02 AM

You're just adding more nonsense.

The taliban are refugees from pakistani madrasas.

A characterization that would have been valid circa 1996. Not in 2012 however.

They are not representative of afghanistan or its people.

Actually the Afghan Taleban of today are extemely representative of Afghan Pashtuns. Or better who the Americans deem the Taleban.

...there are plenty of people like hekmatyar in afgh that the us military are not at war with and who go about their business largely unmolested. That same can not be said of afghan warlords (like hekmatyar) during the soviet occuppation.

Nonsense. There were warlords who worked for the Soviets as well, Rashid Dostum rings a bell? Also the Soviets made far more of an effort to talk with the resistance and were able to establish meaningful truces with parts of it, particularly the element led by Shad Massoud.

like newt gingrich, he is in it for the money. He isnt going to "win" any wars, he is acting to strengthen his own position and add to his wealth. Notice the us is largely ignoring him.

I'm noticing that you keep contradicting yourself. You actually took as an example of a "regular Afghan" who the Americans allegedly were not at war with, but the Soviets were, a highly ideological militant, who is explicitly at war with the Americans just as he was with the Soviets.

And they're not ignoring him, LOL. Understandalby however they aren't exactly bragging about the fact the leader of Hezb-e-Islami Gulbuddin, the Mujahedeen faction that received the most American aid during the Soviet War in Afghanistan (not because it was the largest, but because it was the most radically Islamist and therefore the most uncompromisingly anti-Communist) is now fighting them. It's "a little bit" unconvenient.

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Malachi replied on Sun, Feb 26 2012 10:14 AM
How exactly are the taliban representative of the pashtuns?

furthermore what about the 18 years span of time renders taliban history irrelevant?

my point about the warlords was that the soviets spent a lot more time and effort attacking normal afghans whereas the us military is actually directing their efforts towards the taliban. But now we seem to be debating the nature of what these words mean and truth be told there is no such thing as afghanistan so I guess I shouldnt consider any person to be representative.

I am starting to think that our whole dispute is due to my reference to hekmatyar, whose political career is actually representative of afghan politicians in general (which actually do exist).

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Marko replied on Sun, Feb 26 2012 10:52 AM

No, we're debating because you're making bold pronouncements on a matter you are ignorant off. Who the Taleban were in 1996 is irrelevant, because that is no longer who the US is fighting. The Americans are in fact battling a people's war little different from that faced by the Soviets. It is a fact the Americans referr to the resistance as the Taleban (though they themselves are as likely to deem themselves the Mujahedeen), but that does not mean that is who the resistance is composed off. In reality resistance by now is much wider than former regime elements and alleged semi-aliens from Pakistan, consisting of both people who do not think of themselves as the Taleban as well as people who may be ultimately led and directed by Taleban but joined only after 2001 and never saw an inch of Pakistan. Americans are in fact battling a Pashtun tribal insurrection, not refugees from Pakistan, the fact they will call any Pashtun who resists them a "Taleban" does not change that.

The difference in casualty levels comes from the fact the war is less intense, this primarily on the account of the fact Americans being even more weary of casualties and even less invested in winning (as opposed to just not losing) the war than the Soviets were, are much less pro-active than the Soviets were so you naturally have less battles and less destruction (that destruction which there is, however, is just as indiscriminate). Additional factors that make the war less intensive is the resistance this time around having much less foreign backing is less capable, that it has found a way to profit from the occupation (extortion for passage of supply convoys), that the resistance does not doubt the Americans will be gone eventually, that occupation does not mean the imposition of godless Communism but something a little bit more bearable, and that Tajiks after the harsh rule of the Pashtun-based Taleban are weary of repetition of a similar scenario and largely uninterested in active resistance.

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Malachi replied on Sun, Feb 26 2012 1:29 PM
Who the Taleban were in 1996 is irrelevant, because that is no longer who the US is fighting. The Americans are in fact battling a people's war little different from that faced by the Soviets. It is a fact the Americans referr to the resistance as the Taleban (though they themselves are as likely to deem themselves the Mujahedeen), but that does not mean that is who the resistance is composed off. In reality resistance by now is much wider than former regime elements and alleged semi-aliens from Pakistan, consisting of both people who do not think of themselves as the Taleban as well as people who may be ultimately led and directed by Taleban but joined only after 2001 and never saw an inch of Pakistan. Americans are in fact battling a Pashtun tribal insurrection, not refugees from Pakistan, the fact they will call any Pashtun who resists them a "Taleban" does not change that.
so we have been arguing about definitions this whole time. Awesome.
The difference in casualty levels comes from the fact the war is less intense, this primarily on the account of the fact Americans being even more weary of casualties and even less invested in winning (as opposed to just not losing) the war than the Soviets were, are much less pro-active than the Soviets were so you naturally have less battles and less destruction (that destruction which there is, however, is just as indiscriminate).
in order to have battles, you have to have someone to fight. My claim is that the us military is focusing their combat power on fewer people which results in fewer casualties. Naturally, this would appear to make the war "less intense" from the perspective of someone who reads newspapers and history books. In reality, it means there is less fighting.
Additional factors that make the war less intensive is the resistance this time around having much less foreign backing is less capable, that it has found a way to profit from the occupation (extortion for passage of supply convoys), that the resistance does not doubt the Americans will be gone eventually, that occupation does not mean the imposition of godless Communism but something a little bit more bearable, and that Tajiks after the harsh rule of the Pashtun-based Taleban are weary of repetition of a similar scenario and largely uninterested in active resistance.
and you appear to have defined away one of the distinguishing effects of the resistance, which is that it seeks to impose its own islamic government on the afghan territory, but thats ok, I dont feel like arguing with you about the motives of illiterate radical muslims that you say dont exist.
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Marko replied on Sun, Feb 26 2012 6:49 PM

You're ignorant, full of it, moving the goalposts and trying to wiggle out of it. You make me sick. No we don't have different definitions, we were talking about the same thing, the resistance the Americans are fighting. It is only that you don't have the least bit of clue who they are but I do. What you claim means jack shit because you don't know anything. You're talking out of your arse. Don't you comprehend that when it comes to reality you don't get to just make shit up? Reality is what reality is and has nothing to do with arbitrary, uninformed, imbecilic figments of your imagination.

Obama terror drones: CIA tactics in Pakistan include targeting rescuers and funerals Not targeting the people, eh? God damn, you have no shame! How can you lie through your teeth like that?

ISAF Data: Night Raids Killed Over 1,500 Afghan Civilians

"Noor Behram, who had been on the ground in Pakistan tallying the dead, estimating that “for every 10 to 15 people killed, maybe they get one militant"."

Go cover yourself in shame.

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Groucho replied on Sun, Feb 26 2012 7:24 PM

GooPC:
In 9 years the Soviet Union killed 75,000-90,000 Afghan Mujahedeen and 600,000-2,000,000 civilians. In 10 years the US has only killed 36,790-40,966 Afghan fighters and 14,000-34,000 civilians.

Shouldn't the US's much stronger economy and thus military have allowed it to cause much more damage in Afghanistan?

The Soviet war in Afghanistan was a proxy war made all the more bloody by foreign governments (like the United States - see Charlie Wilson's War for the propagandized version) providing the Mujahideen with financial and military support, while Russia and India did likewise for the Afghan government side. Throw money and materiel at it and watch from afar as they kill each other by the tens of thousands while we cheer for "our side" and politicians polish their goodguy badge, boasting of our benevolent foreign policy that helps the poor Afghans.

Also, for the US to fight in Afghanistan the troops and everything else must be transported and stationed halfway around the world. I believe I read that it costs us over a million dollars per year for each soldier stationed over there. The Russians are right next door to it. And like you said, "natives killed" (or damage caused) may not be a particularly useful metric here.

Of course another way to look at it is our government had no plan or intention to get in / out as fast as possible. After all, defense budgets and contractors benefit greatly from the increased demand that results from long drawn-out conflicts.

An idealist is one who, on noticing that roses smell better than a cabbage, concludes that it will also make better soup. -H.L. Mencken
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Malachi replied on Sun, Feb 26 2012 7:31 PM
Afghanistan isnt pakistan, the cia isnt the militaRy, and you have made several incorrect assumptions about me. I am sorry we couldnt have a reasonable discussion despite my willingness to learn from you. Raa raaa the us is the great satan bla la bla. Youre probably sick because you realize the taliban are even more statist than the us, and so us propaganda is half true.
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The taliban pre 2001 do not exist anymore. Its not a contest of "who's more statist"- the point is the US is fighting Afghan civilians- and those are the only people they are really fighting in Afghanistan. I don't buy this argument that "Well they're really focusing on the 'bad guys' and not the innocent civilians".

Lol like its funny to hear how "They blend in so easily with the civilian population"- that's because they are the civilian population. Everyone has arms in afghanistan- that's a normal part of their culture(hard not to when you're constantly being invaded)- and the US labels everyone with arms a terrorist- a word that's become synonymous with Taliban for some odd reason. 

Its not like they wear uniforms or have a big sign on them that says "Taliban member here". The word taliban also means "students"- so some Pashutn people can certainly say "We're Taliban" and that is still a meanginless term when it comes to labeling the different groups fighting in the region. The biggest joke in the world is that the US is fighting people in Afghanistan that are hellbent on some sort of world dominance- probably the silliest thing in the world. 

Why aren't the bloods and crips labeled a terrorist organization and hellbent on world dominance? Because that's also a silly idea. 

 

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Malachi replied on Sun, Feb 26 2012 9:33 PM
The taliban pre 2001 do not exist anymore.
Thanks for playing.
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Groucho replied on Sun, Feb 26 2012 9:35 PM

auctionguy10:
Why aren't the bloods and crips labeled a terrorist organization and hellbent on world dominance? Because that's also a silly idea.

The problem with politics is it's never about what they say it's about. 9/11 was just an exploitable opportunity to ram through the fascist policies and schemes they've been trying to pass for years. I recall watching poor halfwitted Dubya sitting up there boasting that every boogeyman the government has been antagonizing for years just happen to be the very same ones they need to go after again. Heck, he even babbled that drugs (but of course not the War on drugs) supports terrorism. Perhaps a more progressive neocon would blame trans-fat or a lack of climate change regulations.

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Thanks for playing.

Do you know the differences and simliarities between the tribes in afghanistan and pakistan?  Have you actually been to one of the tribal regions in Pakistan and talked to anyone there? Most of the "Taliban" as they were- were killed during the US's initial invasion removing them from power. Its no longer that same group of people. The only thing that you could use to tie the people who are fighting against the US now to the taliban is that they're probably Muslim. The US is absolutely fighting Afghanis- not some foreign aliens. 

 

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Malachi replied on Mon, Feb 27 2012 7:28 PM
Its hard to "know the differences" because of the language barrier, the chain of custody of information, the mutiple tribes and the fact that its hasnt been relevant to the conduct of my profession in almost three years. And I have never been to pakistan. Not that it will make any difference to you but th us military from 2001 doesnt exist anymore either, yet somehow we can still talk about their institutional pursuit of ideological goals. Across services, approximately 80 percent of first term enlisted personnel leave at their first opportunity, so the united states army in 2001 is not the united states army in 2005 is not the united states army in 2009. Furthermore the political leadership has changed multiple times, so I guess its not the us military anymore either.

the afghans I spoke to (through an interpreter) were able to make the distinction (between normal "afghan" tribe and taliban) as well, so I dont think I made it up.

actually I thought that you guys might have a more nuanced view of afghanistan, because it seems like they have done nothing but try and live in anarchy for thousands of years, but states and governments keep trying to impose a government on them. I suspect the whole reason for the taliban was that pakistan felt threatened by a stateless region and saw an opportunity to fix that problem. So its highly disconcerting to see supposed libertarians holding up totalitarian theocrats as "freedom fighters" just because they happen to be at war with totalitarian democrats.

as I alluded to above, I have been to afghanistan and I am superficially familiar with some of the history and situation. And I am certainly willing to be proven wrong. I would like to discuss the issue without being called all sorts of names because I appear to be misinformed.

as for your assertion that most of the refugees from madrassas were killed in the initial invasion, thats very interesting and I would like to see your source. I tried to find current taliban ideology but I think the only safe and reliable way would be to ask one of their ombudsmen in an isaf controlled area. But he would most likely tell you what he wanted you to hear.

Keep the faith, Strannix. -Casey Ryback, Under Siege (Steven Seagal)
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Malachi replied on Mon, Feb 27 2012 9:45 PM
And while we can debate the validity of my claims for weeks, I dont think I was out of line for thinking that the us military werent fighting hekmatyar when, guess what, while I was in afghanistan they werent fighting him.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/11/04/AR2008110403604_pf.html

of course I shouldnt have used him as an example without doing some research on recent activities. So lets get back to topic.

Keep the faith, Strannix. -Casey Ryback, Under Siege (Steven Seagal)
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Minarchist replied on Mon, Feb 27 2012 11:46 PM

The US has made two fatal mistakes in Afghanistan. First, they had no idea of the situation on the ground. The fact they picked a Tajik warlord from the Northern Alliance as their chief puppet means they understood very little even about the ethnical make-up of the country. Second, they have always lacked long term plans for Afghanistan. For example at the moment nobody knows what will happen after 2014. Over the course of the years we have been told we were in Afghanistan for the pipelines, for the mineral resources, to build military bases to "encircle" China etc. All these may have been valid points at some time but they surely weren't part of a long term plan because there has never been a long term plan. Just like we were in Iraq "for the oil" and now PetroChina and Rosfnet are more deeply entrenched in Iraq than they have ever been while Saddam was in charge.

Right now the only plan has become to somehow proclaim victory and get out of there. The costs of maintaining a single soldier there are simply staggering, both politically and economically. And God only knows how much money has been literally flushed down the drain trying to "build a nation". Again this withdrawal is part of ever changing medium-term plans in Washington: right now the proponents of "limited intervention" are on a meteoric rise after their success in ousting Khadafi in Lybia while the "nation builders" are in full retreat due to their dismal failure in Iraq. With both tight money and the need to keep large garrisons in such places as Germany and Korea "nation building" is becoming less and less fashionable.

Syria is the proving ground for the "limited intervention" people. It's a much tougher nut to crack than Lybia. While President Assad is a tyrant, he is far more moderate than Khadafi, his father or Mubarak ever were. While not exactly beloved by most of his people he's seen as a much better alternative than a Saudi-backed religious extremist or a US-installed military strongman. There are disturbing reports the "Syrian resistance" is actually made up of foreign mercenaries and CIA hirelings with the British military providing C3I. While it was easy to find disaffected people in Lybia (after all Khadafi favored his own clan and allied tribes at everybody else's expenses) apparently President Assad is a better equilibrist and managed to find a way to balance his power. Much more critically Assad has pampered his army while Khadafi allowed it to become rife with dissent. The Syrian military isn't defecting in droves as we were led to believe. I also find myself wondering at the need of all the propaganda and truth-building about Syria... after all there is no peace movement to speak of anymore and nobody asked my consent when it was time send troops to Lebanon, Iraq, Somalia etc.

Concerning the two underlined passages:

1) Depending on the extent to which you think "nations" at this point in world history are an illusion, and that ruling class is international, the fact that Americans have gotten little if anything in exchange for the cost of the Afghan War might not be a sign of incompetence. Generally speaking, imperialism is a losing proposition for the imperial nation as a whole, but the State and its cronies reap all of the benefits while the people pay all the costs, and so it's not a losing proposition for the former. Likewise, it could be that the purpose of American involvement in Afghanistan is to benefit various non-American interests, if we suppose that those non-American interests and the American government are controlled by the same international ruling class, and so the Afghan war might not be a losing proposition for them. Worth considering. At times it's incredibly obvious that conflicts between nations are as much a farce as conflicts between Republicans and Democrats; other times, they put on a good show and it's hard to say whether it's a farce or not.

2) You can say that again! Call me crazy, but the "Arab Spring" reminds me of the "color revolutions" in the former Soviet Republics, for which American "pro-democracy" NGOs were instrumental. Matter of fact, don't we have some American employees of one of these wonderful philanthropic organizations (rolls eyes) being held prisoner in Egypt on espionage charges or some such as we speak?

Altogether, 43 people face trials over illegally operating in Egypt and receiving funds from abroad without permission from Egyptian authorities for their human rights and pro-democracy groups. Egypt charges that they fund and support anti-government protests. The groups deny that.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/06/egypt-ngo-trial-sam-lahood_n_1257432.html

...O wait, never mind, they denied it. LOL

apiarius delendus est, ursus esuriens continendus est
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Marko replied on Sat, Mar 10 2012 9:22 AM

The taliban pre 2001 do not exist anymore.

Thanks for playing.


Shows that alleged thirst for knowledge of yours.

 

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Marko replied on Sat, Mar 10 2012 9:28 AM

In 10 years the US has only killed 36,790-40,966 Afghan fighters and 14,000-34,000 civilians.

According to the English language Wikipedia. According to a recent Post article the Afghan death toll is 100,000, though I don't know how much of that would have been caused by the US.

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Malachi replied on Sat, Mar 10 2012 5:16 PM
Marko:

The taliban pre 2001 do not exist anymore.

Thanks for playing.


Shows that alleged thirst for knowledge of yours.

 

I am pretty sure I handled that above, but the US Military Dictatorship pre 2001 doesnt exist anymore, the Dallas Cowboys pre 2001 dont exist anymore, the Boston Celtics pre 2001 dont exist anymore, Guns n Roses pre2001 dont even exist anymore...how is any of this relevant? Maybe since we feel like making snarky comments, I should just unload a few more...who was the idiot who said "taliban" meant "students"? It is the dual form (not singular, not plural) of the word talib, and actually only refers to the actual taliban theocratic militia organization, not any random set consisting of exactly two talibs. However I always envisioned them as the guys in that famous picture with the rpk and the rpg, except in silhouette form, running away right as I was asking the questions. So who is going to explain how deobandi is the same as pushtunwali? I think that was an equivocation that I was being insulted for rejecting. Blah blah bla, war on civilians, its funny because I was infantry and I spent a ridiculous amount of time rehearsing rules of engagement that, if you dismiss the notion of trespassing, bear a pretty close resemblance to the non-aggression principle. We also gave away a crap ton of stuff, and as a philosopher, I am aware that unconditional charity can do more harm than good...lets just say the intent was not to do harm. Whatever, believe what you want, we shouldnt be there, goodnight.
Keep the faith, Strannix. -Casey Ryback, Under Siege (Steven Seagal)
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