Other Shit That Should Be Obvious

Read this shit some time.

Read this, as well.

I tried arguing about Afghanistan with people back in 2001; naturally, no one listened.

I understood that, after 9/11, we would be attacking somebody. You don’t outspend the rest of the world militarily and then not use that military when attacked. However, I did not expect an invasion and occupation of Afghanistan. I thought it was a stupid idea then, and I think it’s a stupid idea now.

One of the big justifications for the war was the removal of the Taliban, that group of fundamentalist assholes who imposed their own vision of utopian society in many parts of Afghanistan. Don’t get me wrong–they’re a bunch of fucks. Everyone’s heard the stories about burqas and sex-segregation and women being fourth-class citizens (it was hilarious to watch Republicans trip over themselves to stress how awful and sexist these choad-gobblers were).

I was aware of the Taliban prior to September of 2001. It didn’t take a genius to know about this group of sack wranglers. However, there’s a reason why they were in control of parts of Afghanistan. They provided order. Order is preferable to chaos–it’s why we have government in the first place, and whyLibertarian fantasies will always be just that. When, as happens some times, that order becomes unbearably oppressive, certain groups attempt to replace it. But they never wish to eradicate order altogether. There may be a chaotic interregnum, but no one ever abolishes order in favor of permanent chaos.

Put otherwise: When the people who lived in Afghanistan (and I’m not talking about “Afghanis;” there’s really no such ethnicity) got tired of the Taliban, they would have done something about it. You can provide aid to these groups, and you can encourage less-repressive elements in societies, but you can’t go in and impose an order of your own. It has to be, to use a Hobbesian term, a social contract entered into by the people whose own lives are directly affected–especially in a place like Afghanistan, where interlopers have been frustrated since the days of Alexander the Great.

All that shit about “Freedom is God Almighty’s gift” is just nonsense. Even if it were true, it would be up to the Almighty to dispense it, not to us. Isn’t that fucking presumptuous, to think otherwise?

Not that Hobbes’ view of humanity was perfect. It was, of course, situated in his time–the anarchical years during the English Civil War. However, when in such a state, order–even a harsh order–is something for which people yearn. Corrupt, unpredictable, and abusive governments will always be less popular than repressive yet predictable ones.


13 thoughts on “Other Shit That Should Be Obvious

  1. Please, one space after a period unless you are using a typewriter. Sincerely,
    Mrs. Crabapple

  2. I just did my lecture on fascism last night, much of which I shamelessly crib from Paxton’s Anatomy of Fascism. A lot of what I talked about ties in neatly with your post–one key reason fascism flourished in Europe in the early 20th century was the desire for order and stability in a time when those were in short supply.
    As far as Afghanistan is concerned, I always thought that the Taliban were a secondary target to Al Qaeda. My problem was that it never seemed as though there was a real effort made by the Bush Administration to get the Taliban to hand over Al Qaeda. Would they have been willing to do so given more time? Could they have done it if they were willing? I don’t know, but the rush to war there was unnerving. And, as with Iraq, there was utterly no consideration of the consequences of going to war there.
    Look, I’m a big fan of our version of democracy, and I believe that there are many places around the world that would be better off under such a form of government. But there is no Instant Democracy–just add water! It takes time to build an effective democratic system, and it takes even more time to build the social structures and popular support that are crucial for long-term success. Part of the reason Italy and Germany both ended up with fascist governments is that they were less than 50 years into the democracy gig. We had our own issues a half-century in that culminated in a Civil War.
    I do disagree with you on one point, Jude. Once we invaded Afghanistan, I think we committed ourselves to trying to make the occupation work. We may not be able to impose democracy on Afghanistan, but ideally, we can provide a modicum of stability which might give the people of Afghanistan the room to develop their own system. My greatest frustration with the Iraq war was that it took away our chance to provide that stability–and as a result, many parts of Afghanistan turned back to the Taliban or their local warlords to provide it instead. And as you say, the devil you know… My great hope is that by increasing our presence there in the short run, we can give the people of Afghanistan an opportunity to make choices about their government without those choices blowing up in their faces.

  3. BuggyQ, we never had enough people in Afghanistan to begin to provide stability. That was a war fought in large part to prove that our imbecilic Secretary of Defense knew what he was doing, which was to reduce the size of any military unit doing any job. He convinced himself that the world was aching to adopt anything American, and all we had to do was nudge aside anyone who might interfere with their doing that. Of course the theory was incorrect, and it failed utterly in Afghanistan.
    I was opposed to invading Afghanistan from the beginning. The only slight justification for doing so was that the Taliban began to call bin Laden their “defense minister”. It will always be a mistake to wage a war on any entity other than a nation. Only a nation can surrender, negotiate a armistice, or otherwise end a war. When you wage a war on a band of criminals in a foreign country, you are destined to fail. And, we will fail in Afghanistan just as we did in Iraq.
    The proper response to bands of criminals operating in a foreign country is to use the United Nations. Only that body is equipped to help the “host” nation to establish a strong enough government to be able to stop such criminal activity. We have allowed the impasse that developed when the USSR was the all-purpose “bad guy” to interfere with developing the capabilities of the UN to handle situations like in Afghanistan.
    Behind all of this US misadventure is the drive to accumulate wealth by a few very wealthy people both in the US and in European countries. But, that’s another subject.

  4. There were so many social falacies involved from the onset (and I’m an engineer – so I imagine the sociologists are going ape about this).
    We tried to impose our yardsticks on their society. e.g. – things such as govt stability may not have a whole lot of meaning in their society.
    They aren’t a unified society. As I understand it, the “country” is divided among tribal lords. And a
    tribe is further divided among essentially independent subgroups. And as you pointed out, they aren’t a unified ethnicity with a unified history.
    We totally ignored the way they made mincemeat out of Russia when it tried to impose stability.
    We couldn’t understand that areas of the country are so isolated they can do whatever they want.
    However, as hoppy almost says, Halliburton **did** get their new pipeline.

  5. Arabs (their governments, in particular) are a funny lot, though. Kuwait and other OPEC countries didn’t want western interference when they set exorbitant prices back in the 80s and 90s, and the US was accused of butting in where it didn’t belong during the Iran-Iraq war (when we oh-so-ironically gave Iraq all the weapons they later fought us with). The US was also asked to stay the hell out during the Iraqi invasion (although I have it on good account that it was agreed upon between Iraq and the US to “shake up Kuwait a bit”). Then, when things got too hot to handle in late 1990, the Kuwaitis kissed American behind, stood on a chair like girls and asked us to save them. A few years later, they summarily retreated to the intellectual caves whence they came and we were re-relegated to chopped-liver status. So, we are in our military-outspending glory also required to go HELP the rest of the world, but how and when they want it (which is irritating, but, in the case of the recent Iran furor, is not totally unjustified).
    We gave Japan a bunch of resources after WWII and they did good with it. We give Pakistan a bunch of money to improve their military in order to eradicate terrorists (real terrorists, not terrists) and they swallow the money and laugh at us while the multi-faceted, hundred-headed creature that is Islamic terrorism still menaces the world.
    You don’t outspend the rest of the world militarily and then not use that military when attacked. I agree. Frankly, we should kick Pakistan to the curb and beat the crap out of the AQ-supporting military officials, but what about its people who want democracy and can stand some help from us? However, like Buggy says, there’s no such thing as Democracy MREs that can be dropped into the cultural war zone. So, what is our solemn American duty during a nation’s cultural civil war? Do we just give help where needed (and make strange bedfellows in the process, as we are so fond of repeatedly doing) or invade with our notions of democracy and hope something sticks? I’m not a fan of either, especially not the latter, because it introduces things like unnecessary deaths, really shady business deals and proselytism (yeah, let’s add another confused religion to the mix when these people are trying to sort their own religious shit out for themselves). Yet, we can’t stand idly by. And don’t feed me the UN as an answer – another corrupt bunch of pansies, if I’ve ever seen any. (but, who knows, the answer may be a stronger UN, not influenced by Allied interests in the Middle East, yeah right).
    P.S. I love how I use the words “us” and “them” when I lived in Kuwait until 1990. Even then I was “us,” as in American, though.

  6. Ultimately, we cannot be at war with Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan (or even Terror), but certain, specific entities within these nations, and be extremely clear about this. When you go around shell-shocking a nation wholesale, you at once have the mullahs yelling “The Americans Hate Us” and have set the whole purpose of your ostensibly democratic mission back by about twenty years. The trick is in defining your enemy in these nations. We will never succeed at this because a) we are culturally deaf and b) our interestts aretoo entwined with all of the right and wrong parties in these countries. Not to say we haven’t broken off relationships before, but …

  7. It doesn’t help that Afghanistan (and hence the Taliban) have opium to back them financially, andKarzai’s brother is the Pablo Escobar of the heroin trade.
    We’ve done nothing in Afghanistan but kill civilians, increase the country’s dependence on the poppy trade and elevate a bunch of drug lords with weapons and a motivation to keep things violent and unstable.

  8. sadly, georgee was in charge. the taliban did need to go, but of course, saddam was georgee’s white whale. and he left afghanistan before it was done. and now we are 2 steps back. and now we have to avoid the charge of the obama brigade.

  9. I have an idea.
    Put the women in charge in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, and Iran.

  10. Major Al Steele, commander of Bravo Company of3 SCOTS, the Black Watch, who met elders in Pankela, acknowledged their concerns but said foreign forces were working on it.
    “We have heard a lot of complaints about the ANP, but the Coalition Forces and the ANA are working together well, and the ANP are getting better,” he told Gul Mohammad, squatting outside the elder’s mud-walled compound.

    Oh, for the sake of furry fuck! That’s who will quell the violence and thuggish behavior by law-enforcement? The Black Watch? Because that worked so well in Northern Ireland.
    You know, if my military wanted to ameliorate the actions of corrupt local police in one of my former colonies, I think I’d send in someone besides the British equivalent to Negroponte’s boys.

  11. I lived in Afghanistan for 2 years and worked there in humanitarian aid. I had friends kidnapped, my office burned down, my colleagues’ brothers and fathers blown up by IEDs. I have seen refugees, amputees, and desperate widows with several children. While it might be alright for us to say enough is enough, I agree that we started this mess and we need to finish it. However, what y’all don’t see and understand that progress has been made. Although a lot of the billions of aid money we have spent goes to fat, old, white men who use it to party in Dubai every three months, some of that money and the military effort has made a difference.
    For example, we talk a lot about civil society and nation building. There is a program called the National Solidarity Program (World Bank) that mobilized communities throughout Afghanistan to come together, elect representatives and collectively decide what was important for their local stability and growth. Women were included and I saw first-hand how small block grants given to the Community Development Councils changed lives by providing electricity and basic inputs for small businesses. I saw how projects like accelerated learning allowed girls who had been refugees to catch up in their schooling so they could attend age appropriate classes. I remember visiting one of these schools, and the girls telling me about how they wanted to learn so that they could become doctors and teachers. I remember one girl who had spent most of her life as a refugee in Iran explaining that she had come back to her country because she loved Afghanistan so much.
    I met a lot of Afghans who wanted stability and peace, but many realized that it was not worth the sacrifice of their rights and their ability to dance at weddings and educate their daughters. Most Afghans did not and still do not like the Taliban.
    In sum, the US needs to be in Afghanistan to provide the stability necessary so that the fundamentals of development–economic growth, basic education, public health, and good governance–can take place.

  12. We are only there because of the dope. I have neither seen nor read ANYTHING that has convinced me otherwise.
    Afghanistan is, once again, the top narco-state in the world and it will stay that way as long as we are there.

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