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The cost of the operations in Afghanistan

I have my doubts – which grow by the day, to be honest – about what exactly we are achieving by the operations in Afghanistan. This story is picked up by me at random, but of course there are hundreds of deaths that hit home the mesage about what a grim struggle that conflict is proving to be. May this gallant soldier rest in peace, and my condolences to his friends, comrades and family.

34 comments to The cost of the operations in Afghanistan

  • RRS

    You are right, of course, to question the “costs” of these efforts in terms of the lives involved and lost.

    Still, the fundamental issue is the question of the ultimate objectives sought from the involvements. How will we know, and by what measurements or standards, the degree to which they have been achieved?

    Yes, an objective is to deny the hornets that sting us (with tragic venom) a place where they may return to nest. But, are we confusing the traditional, historic course of formation of dominant (though impermanent) coalitions, to assert power in the various territories (The “Natural State” described by Douglas North, et al.) with hostility to western interests in security? Are we determining who is hostile to us, and more importatntly why?

    Is anyone in a policy-making position pursuing the answers to those questions, where are they looking?

  • jdm

    I agree with both points (the post itself and RRS’ comment) and have the same difficulties understanding what the point is when no actual goal has been specified. Or pehaps more correctly now that it seems that the goals enunciated by Steven Den Beste in 2003 do not seem to be viable, we haven’t really found any new ones. Or rather new ones big enough to rally around.

    On the other hand, it seems to me that the real problem is that we (the West) still do not, in general, acknowledge the dangers of Islamism – or, perhaps even, Islam itself. We feed, house, protect, and subsidize adherents of Islamism in large numbers inside our own walls, so to speak. We permit them to freely leave to go to places like Afghanistan to train to kill us and we allow them to freely return after training has been completed.

    In a perfect example of eminently reasonable but ultimately back-assed logic, we have to be in Afghanistan because we won’t do what we need to do at home.

  • michael

    This is a silly war in a silly place. It is also the only sort of war the Afghanis can fight.

  • Siha Sapa

    A questionable war? Possibly. But I would keep in mind that we decimated both Taliban and Al Qaeda by ’02. The larger strategic question that now arises is not so much what are we doing there as what is the objective. If that objective would be to attempt to establish a Western style democracy that governed and controlled the entire country, I think most would have to agree that is unlikely and even if attainable ultimately of questionable cost:success ratio.

    A more realistic view might entail speaking to the Afghans in an honest though ‘local’ voice. That is to say we do not wish to be there and neither hurt them. The US was attacked by their guests who still infest the place. We will kill them and it would be best if the locals stayed out of the way, if not we regret what will certainly be dire consequences for anybody giving even tacit aid to our enemies. Want us to leave? not more than we do, cooperation is the most expeditious route to departure.

    Beyond that, small matter if they ritualistically kill and eat one another. We are there or perhaps ought be to kill Taliban and AL Qaeda, little ones, big ones, and all the middling ones as well. There is a reason that the Geneva Convention mandated that men under arms without uniform in time of war or martial law be shot on sight, as was done to several thousands in post war Germany. It works. Restraint is nice in a polite tiff, but the Islamist must understand that while we ‘would rather not, they would REALLY rather not’.

  • Brad

    I have made a few attempts to offer what I believe to be a valid libertarian view toward the time, place, and measurement of War that isn’t in sync with the average attitude I have discovered after several years of frequenting samizdata. Without a direct retort to cite, I have little doubt these attempts are dismissed as ‘moonbattery’.

    Personally I think the Wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, just like any of the Wars (or Police Actions) that the US (and perhaps UK) have fought in the last 50 years, are much less about protection of our nation(s) (clearly defined as a Federal role in our Constitution) but more about Public Relations moves with muscle. The objectives have been unclear and imperfect, hence why most have either been losses, or at best, draws (though with scintillating clear victories in Grenada and the Falklands). The very fact that it has to be constructed as a War on Terror to be sold in the street is telling in and of itself. Wars on common nouns (e.g. Drugs, Terror) are non-sense at the foundation.

    A review of warfare from the US’s Civil war through WWII shows that War is a brutal action – the objective is to kill other people and destroy their infrastructure. War fought trying to win hearts and minds with bombs is how most Wars begin, and when the body count begins to climb and resources begin to run low, the actions stop being about a few jabs and the odd slap and becomes burning down Atlanta and saturation bombing Dresden and giving Hiroshima and Nagisaki an unearthly glow.

    I’m not in any way a pacifist. It is simply a clear understanding that War, in the modern sense, is about massive destruction to remove untenable threats. It should be used when the danger is so clear and present that no alternatives are at hand. And it should be efficient, effective, and brutal. It’s not about some time honored traditions carried on by those with certain proclivities to get buzz cuts and camp out. It’s a people defending themselves to the utmost. We have whole industries decked out that sum up to our standing militaries, consuming huge amounts of resources and budgets, and all we get when the time comes to unleash the dogs are quagmires and unclear objectives.

    At the end of the day I see the Wars of the last 50 years as not a function of a people using legitimate defensive Force but the actions necessary for the ever developing Fascistic States dancing around for their own sub-objectives. Sometimes I agree in principal in an action here or there, but soon I am dismayed at the conduct of the “War” and am assured that it is merely another Statist move to serve it’s own ends, not the goal of protecting the people.

    It is a bad amalgam to have unclear Statist boobery combining itself with the mountainous regions inhabited by iron willed people. Russia has learned twice in about a century what getting into Afghanistan would do. Did it stop us? Dropping bombs here and love notes over there? If Afghanistan presented itself as such a threat we have the technologies and resources to destroy it. Yet we don’t. As we haven’t in the past (e.g. Viet Nam).

    I guess in a nutshell either do it right or don’t do it all. And War as has been fought has been fought by the same boobs who dismay us all with everything else they do. The probabilty that they will do it right is pretty slim.

    That ultimately is where the division between myself and what I detect the prevailing mood at samizdata is. The kernel of the objective is the same for both – it’s just that it is hard for me to support War that benefits the State and its overall objectives and not me. I guess I conclude that most at samizdata simoultaneously deplore 99.7 of what their State does, but when it comes to warfare (as it is being currently executed) it’s somehow different. I don’t see that it is.

  • I guess in a nutshell either do it right or don’t do it all.

    I agree with that 100% Brad. Unlike many libertarians, I am prepared to not care about squeamish concerns over civilian deaths and collateral damage if such things get in the way of actually achieving the essential war aim of destroying a genuine manifested threat. If limited violence can reasonably be expected to do the trick, well then do that… and when facing the actions of a state, that is often the case. If you don’t like the government, maybe you ‘just’ need to blow up the government rather than expunge the entire population.

    But if the threat is truly more intractable, then do what *actually* needs doing no matter how extreme. If the threat lives in the Swat valley, then be prepared to kill everyone, and I do mean everyone, in the Swat valley, if that is what it will take and if the threat is real.

    As you say, either do it right or don’t do it all.

  • Jacob

    “either do it right or don’t do it all”
    Good slogan. Putting it into practice is the hard part.

    As for Afghanistan – I say keep harassing them, keep up the attacks, mostly through the air and spec-op, keep killing (mostly warlords and such). Keep a blockade. Spray their fields, let them hunger. Keep the pressure up until you think there’s a chance they will behave, or some benign warlord takes control. I think it can be done, without sending foot soldiers to chase every individual terrorist or to gain and keep control of territory.
    Let them taste some guerrilla warfare, Western style.
    It’s a hard and risky road, but trying to control the land and impose a “democratic” government is hopeless, especially given the lack of will of the West to fight a long, hard and cruel battle.

  • RRS

    P ed H –

    You are no doubt aware that Swat is in Pakistan, with which we are not at war; and, our “strikes” there are done with the accomodation of the Pakistani regime.

    So, absent a declaration of war, we cannot and should not, kill everybody in Swat to eliminate the remaining principals of A.Q. (or any similar threat).

    What do you see as a “genuinely manifested threat.”
    Like you, I think there is one, but I am not sure its nature and potential have been identified or analyzed.

    To some extent my sense of the matter may be affected by immediate family, career military, of advanced rank, having served there (and Iraq) with the guys out front. These are just my views though.

  • You are no doubt aware that Swat is in Pakistan

    Indeed, which is why I mentioned it under “doing what is needed”

    … with which we are not at war;

    So what? The enemy is an NGO :D

    That only matters if Pakistan controls the area (and it clearly does not). The enemy must be attacked where they are (which seems obvious, hence the US strikes across the border) and all I am saying is that if limited strikes do not do the job, then the attacks need to escalate (rapidly) until the threat is eliminated. Either fight to win or stay home seems a sensible policy to me.

    If Pakistan will not or cannot deal with the threat that took us to the region, then the whole thing is an exercise in futility. Either do it to win or stay home.

  • Kevin B

    As far as the Brits go, (and indeed the non US parts of NATO) we are not tooled up for this sort of war* and are muddling along as best we can with inadequate training, inadequate equipment and useless political leadership.

    As far as I can tell, we went into Afghanistan in a justified sense of solidarity with the US after 911, but unlike most of the rest who expressed such solidarity, we actually lived up to our commitments for a while.

    So what we, the Brits, are doing there now depends very much on what the US think they are doing and since the election of Obama they change policy every three months.

    The options being debated at the moment appear to be:

    A) Withdraw and standoff, using SpecOps, Predators and Bombers to keep the vermin down.

    B) Surge and Awakening to build a democratic nation and

    C) Go on much the same depending on the political winds blowing at the time to dictate tactics, strategy and manpower and use spin to sell it to the electorate as policy.

    Option D), the Glass Car Park option, will not come into play until a nuke goes off in a Western city.

    Sadly I foresee option C followed eventually by option D as the way our political class will go since they are too gutless to do anything else.

  • K

    I think O has already decided to withdraw and leave both PK and AF to, as Alexander supposedly said, “the strongest.”

    But O won’t leave without some political cover. So we can expect a new plan first, probably for two years. That will get our troops out roughly a year before the 2012 election.

    The scheme will probably something like Nixon’s plan to turn the war over to the S. Vietnamese Army.

    Or O may ask for a conference involving all the big powers. For some price each will sign a impressively worded accord promising peace in AF but really meaning nothing to the people living there. Then we can leave almost immediately.

    Any foreign government such as the UK with troops in AF should tell O to define his program now, and clearly. Otherwise bring your troops out by November.

    How should the war should be fought if it is to be fought. Answer: with about 100,000 more combat troops. And with NATO supplying at least 25% of them. I think we know how likely that is.

  • Kevin B

    As far as the Brits go, (and indeed the non US parts of NATO) we are not tooled up for this sort of war*

    In case any of you are wondering what I meant to add as a footnote it is, as you probably guessed, that we are not tooled up for any sort of war. But that’s another thread, or a comment to the procurement thread.

  • MlR

    Don’t look to anyone in either the military or government for guidance. They’re just as clueless as you are as to our goals and (absent) strategy – it’s a complete clusterfuck.

  • michael

    I go back to my comment about this being a silly war in a silly place. If you asked the Taliban what sort of war they would like to fight – they would say the sort we are fighting now. So we should change tactics and wage a war they won’t like. Personally I favour withdrawal and containment. Afghanis would just have to stay at home and enjoy each others company. The ruling classes in Afghanistan would soon dislike that. Much the same tactic should be used against Pakistan.

  • veryretired

    We have done ourselves a great disservice in regards to the decisions to remove the hostile regimes in Afghanistan and Iraq by not emphasizing the clearly significant geographic locations of the two countries.

    The most dangerous, and either actually hostile, Iran, or potentially hostile, Pakistan, are flanked by our forces if they are successful in pacifying the former two countries.

    If we can base our various assets at secure bases in Afghanistan and Iraq without their being required to conduct continuous combat operations, i.e., if the national forces of the two countries can hold their own with our assistence and support, then the strategic position of the other two antagonistic regimes becomes especially precarious.

    Along with India as a natural ally in any confrontation with Pakistan, the threat from that unstable entity becomes much more manageble.

    Significant forces in a pacified Iraq and Afghanistan, and being allied with Kuwait, would tend to give the Iranians pause also.

    However, we have dealt with these conflicts as if they were isolated events, without more significant strategic value, because it is politically incorrect for us to openly acknowledge the existence of a wider conflict, with clearly identifiable foes who need to be threatened with dire consequences if they continue their hostile activities.

    I believe that this timidity in openly stating our objectives and purposes is a holdover from the many decades of tiptoing around any direct confrontation with the Soviet Union or China, with good reason, and, especially after the debacle in Vietnam, causes us to avoid unambiguously identifying the patrons of the surrogates we are engaged with, and also enunciating a broader strategic purpose.

    Iraq and Afghanistan are similar to North Africa or Sicily in the Erupean theater of WW2, or Iwo Jima and Okinawa in the Pacific theater—they are significant because that’s where some of the enemy forces are arrayed, and because of where they are located in the geographic context of the overall conflict.

    It is extremely unfortunate that little of the strategic value of these actions was ever explained clearly to the public, nor was it politically acceptable to point out that there was a broader, identifiable group of antagonists than the vague term “terrorism”, or the amorphous and stateless spector of “Al Quida”.

    Bereft of any overarching strategy, it is difficult to understand the point of thrashing around in the mountains of Afghanistan, or trying to put together some form of stable government in Iraq.

    It became painfully clear long before the recent election that a comprehensive strategic approach to the conflict between militant islamofascism and the west had been abandoned, if it had ever been brought into focus in the first place.

    Now, given the ideological flavor of the new US regime, the tragic events that transpired from 1972 to 1975 in SE Asia are about to be re-enacted in the ME—declare victory with no real meaning or justification and pull out, leaving the fledgling Weimar republics at the mercy of whichever group of fanatics can seize control of them.

    I have long avoided articulating this analysis because I realize how far from the usual right/left debate it is, and that, given the inability of one administration to justify its actions with any coherence, and the following administration’s antagonism towards any comprehensive, strategic use of military power, it is now all moot.

    Please do not respond if all you wish to yell at me is a rehash of the pro/con arguments of the last several years. These are not wars to me, but battles in a larger conflict which exists whether we acknowledge it openly, or continue to pretend that the “religion of peace” really doesn’t advocate and support the continuous violence we have witnessed for several decades.

    I live in the real, very dangerous world, not the fairy tale castle of grandiose speeches at the UN, or the politically correct fantasy land in which everyone would be our friend if we only tried to understand them.

    I understand when someone is trying to kill me very well indeed.

  • VR, I absolutely agree with your analysis vis a vis Iran, although as far as explaining things to the public, to his very limited credit W did declare Iran part of the Axis of Evil, FWIW (not much, unfortunately). But as to Pakistan, I am sure that even the hawks among us realize how different that situation is from the Iranian case.

  • Alisa: Not sure what you mean by how different the situation is. Are you saying that Pakistan is not as dangerous as Iran? Or that they are more restrained?

    If so, I beg to differ. Pakistan is a nuclear power. One that is very hostile to the idea of anything existing that is not Muslim, whether within its borders or without. One that has been walking backwards ever since British India split into two countries; there’s a reason why we’re outsourcing to Bangalore and not Bangladesh (East Pakistan, formerly) or Western Punjab.

    As for winning totally or pulling out, I agree. But! The Vietnam War was not militarily lost. The United States military, had it continued to receive the political and popular support of the Americans, would have triumphed in Vietnam. But leftism prevailed there, and we must not allow it to prevail here.

    It is very worrying that the POTUS, arguably the leader of the world’s only superpower, and supposedly the champion of the free nations, steadfastly refuses to listen to his own military and his fellow Americans. Were I of a ‘birther’ mindset, this would cement once and for all the notion that President BHOmbastic is in no shape or form any kind of American – except an American traitor. Hell, I’m not a birther and it appears that way to me!

  • If you asked the Taliban what sort of war they would like to fight – they would say the sort we are fighting now

    Nope. Whatever is being done wrong, it is not wrong to be fighting the Taliban where they come from rather than where we come from. If you wish to kill an enemy, you must kill them where they are. A quick reminder: the Taliban are being attacked because they enabled an attack in New York and Washington DC on 9th September 2001… THAT is the war Islamic fundamentalists *actually* want to fight.

  • michael

    I didn’t say we shouldn’t fight the Taliban in Afghanistan. What I said, or mean’t to say, is that we are fighting them on their terms.

  • Gregory:

    Are you saying that Pakistan is not as dangerous as Iran? Or that they are more restrained?

    I am saying that they are at least as dangerous as Iran and probably much more so, the reason being that their internal situation seems to be much more unstable and volatile than that of Iran. Pakistanhas to be handled more carefully, which is by no means to say that they should not be targeted. As to them being more restrained, that in fact was the case to some very limited extent when Mush…(how the hell is he spelled – I’m sure W would know by now) was in power. Now all bets seem to be off.

  • RRS

    Not to claim expertise, but it seems that no one in these comments has noted the highly generalized use of the term “Taliban,” as if it is a cohesive force, whose combatants have common motivations and objectives on all fronts.

    Such intelligence as we have (or can learn of) indicates we are dealing with numerous factions, but have not yet determined how to turn them upon one another effectively; constantly shifting support and impediments for those various motivations and objectives as the shifts may advance us toward our own objects and “end game” – if in fact there is such.

  • Kim du Toit

    Absent total genocide, Afghanistan is an insoluble problem. (And that includes NW Pakistan, too, by the way — it’s essentially the same country.)

    The problem is that if we leave, we’ll be damaged (yet again) by State-sponsored terrorism of the al-Qa’eda ilk. If we stay, we’re faced with an endless war of attrition. ‘Twas ever thus, in that part of the world.

    There are no good solutions. I don’t think there’s ANY solution. There is no chance that Afghanistan will ever become a civilized nation, even something like modern-day Iraq. There is also no chance that our staying there guarantees any kind of acceptable outcome.

    And there will never be sufficient political will to engage in genocide (euphemistically, the “glass parking lot” or “stone age” option), or even a “Japan”-style pacification (nuke plus total destruction followed by rebuild).

    So there we have it. All the options are bad, and none are even less bad than others.

    The place is irredeemable, and valueless.

  • Paul Marks

    Actually it is a myth that no external power has ever won in Afghanistan – in fact many have.

    Just the other day Mullah Omar was ranting on about how the noble Afgans defeating Alexander the Great – but that is total BS. Not only did Alex win – but Afghanistan became part of a Greek culture Bactian state for many years.

    Of course Alexander the Great would have hung Mullah Omar from a tree – but the West pretends we can not find him (after eight years). In spite of the fact that most Afghans HATE the Taliban.

    The old like is correct – fight to win or get out.

    And (with Mullar Omar left undesturbed and so on) it seems plain that their is no will to fight to win.

  • Alisa: Then we are in complete agreement, and I misread your post. Mea culpa.

    Kim, turning Afghanistan into a something we might recognise as a civilised nation is not something terribly complex. All that is needed is to demonstrate a level of badness even they would cringe from, and say “that was the stick. Would you prefer the carrot?”

    Instead, all we’ve been doing is putzing around showing off the carrot and saying “Pretty please take the carrot with cherries on top, we don’t wanna show you the stick”.

  • Jacob

    Very,
    Your vision about a mortal military struggle between civilization and darkness and the grand strategy of American bases in Iraq and Afghanistan – is somewhat disconnected from reality, or at least not shared universally.
    In my view, Islam is indeed a danger, but more a nuisance danger, a harassing danger not a mortal one or a major military threat. The main danger is in Europe, and is the immigration, demographic and cultural danger, not an old fashioned, conventional military threat of invasion to be confronted via a grand strategy plan of geographically strategic strongholds.

    The West is declining, clearly, unmistakably, but it’s not Islam that is rising, it’s China. And the West’s decline is not caused by Islam, but by it’s own decadence and mental illness (socialism, collectivism).
    Though I strongly supported, and still support, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, I think that the question whether they were strictly necessary, and whether they are an excessive burden on the weakened back of the US and Britain – are legitimate. The West is weak, economically, militarily and mentally. Get used to it.

  • Jacob

    To conclude: the days when the sun never set on the British Empire, and the West was willing and capable of ruling the world are gone.
    Think about the notion of, say, Brazil, or Mexico acquiring strategic military bases in Iraq and Afghanistan – why don’t they? Because they are weak, economically and mentally. The US isn’t yet so weak, but that’s where it’s headed.

  • Unfortunately what Jacob said.

  • michael

    I agree with Jacob. The danger to us is China, not Islam. Islam is currently a problem because it is a weak religion and as it integrates into the West it will become weaker. It will also weaken the West. We are not helping ourselves by expending blood and treasure on silly wars in silly places.

  • Jacob

    I didn’t say China was a danger. I only said it was a rising power. Maybe it will turn dangerous, but probably not. Anyway – there is nothing “we” (the West) can (or should) do about it.

  • cjf

    British retreat from Kabul, 1800’s. Second war there?
    Seldom is the purpose or cause of war found at the place it is fought.

    With Western leadership, they can join us in decline?

  • veryretired

    Jacob, Thank you for your calmly phrased response. One of the reasons I hesitate to post on these matters is the hysterical invective that often follows any stated view on military matters that departs from the progressive CW.

    At any rate, I stated clearly that my view was not widely shared, and certainly never claimed it was universal. I was making a comment on the strategic aspects of Afghanistan and Iraq, not the policy pursued by either the former or current US administrations.

    It is clear you discount the potential of the threat from radical Islam. I believe that you are mistaken in that estimation. The recently released intelligience that Iran has two nuclear development sites is an obvious example of their continuing effort to develop a nuclear weapons capability, and the recent lunatic appearence of Amatuxedo at the UN a reminder of their deep seated malevolence.

    The threat posed by nuclear weapons in the hands of such delusional characters as Tux, or Kim in NK, or a Taliban led Pakistan, should be obvious and worrisome to anyone in the west, regardless of the currently amorphous nature of many of the shadowy groups that the poorly described “war on terror” has allegedly been fighting these last several years.

    The threat is real whether it is recognized by you, me, or anyone else.

    China is a growing economic power, yes, and wishes to be a big player on the world stage, yes, but neither of these two points is sufficient for it to be the kind of danger once posed by the former Soviet Union.

    China still is a fragile house of political and cultural cards, a fearful and thus repressive regime, beset by endemic corruption and cronyism on a massive scale, and facing demographic and social isues far beyond the capacity of its inbred leadership to control.

    Its economic future is tied to the US, and, if the political system that now only handicaps it, although not in as crippling a manner as the previous Maoist lunacy, were to be replaced with some form of more rational, representative system, the natural elements that would make us allies in any confrontation with either the islamic theocrazies or Russia would come to the forefront.

    I do not share your pessimism regarding the US, although it is unlikely that Europe can survive the coming decades without major internal conflict. The demographic realities are simply too stark, and the current elite class has moved much too far beyond any connection with the general public.

    We are facing problems, of course, as we always have, but none of them, or their totality, approaches the greater threats, internal and external, that we have surmounted over the last two centuries.

    The elite class here also has dtrifted into a delusional form of reacting to slogans and personalities instead of facts, but the simmering discontent with their continuing leadership is clearly reflected in numerous polls, and the evolving Tea Party movement, which reminds me very strongly of the abolitionist movement leading up to the Civil War.

    And, no, I don’t think we are heading for another civil war, just a period of volatile politics and political re-alignment, something that has happened a few times in the past, and is a feature of a reasonably open and democratic society.

    Is there much work to be done? Absolutely. Will the various challenges be daunting, and involve a great deal of courage and sacrifice to achieve a resolution that preserves individual freedom and liberty?

    Of course, that is the cause that energizes and gives deep meaning to anyone committed to human freedom.

    We are both an historical and cultural anomaly. We were born free men and women, and born into a powerful and wealthy civilization that would be as a dream world to anyone transported into it from the past.

    Rent a little movie called “Quest for Fire”. It beautifully depicts the dawn of human civilization at a time when men and women were living on the precarious edge of daily disaster, the prey of marauding bands, cannibals, and wild animals. Armed only with sharpened sticks, humans survived and populated the earth.

    There are those among us, and in the world at large, that would like to put the fire out, and plunge humanity back into the darkened existence of the cave. They must be defeated, now and in the future, just as they sometimes were in the past, by those whose iron determination is to preserve the light, and use it to guide the way for themselves and their children.

    I do not despair, but am bouyed by the daily reminders, large and small, that the courage and willingness to prevail runs deeply and powerfully among my fellow citizens, and among our many friends in the world.

    Do not allow yourself to be discouraged by the power of the dark side. The greater the dragon to be slain, the greater the honor to those who have the courage to face it.

  • Jacob

    Oh, the nuclear threat is real enough, but it is mainly to Israel, and maybe other Mid East nations, not so much or so immediate to the US.
    The war “on terror” in Iraq and Afghanistan does little toward facing this threat. There’s no use in building strategic bases when you have no intention or ability to use them when needed.
    And this threat clearly proves my point: the West is too weak, and lacking the will to face it and do anything besides empty talking. Every one knows this, and Bin Laded, Iran and NK called the bluff. The West’s reaction, and it’s general attitudes and preparedness (see the missile deployment pull-back) – do not inspire any optimism.

    Thanks for your inspiring words about the Human spirit and it’s struggle for freedom. This spirit might yet win, in Teheran, NK, Beijing, but with no help from Europe or the US.

  • veryretired

    Jacob, thank you for a pleasant discussion. Regardless of any disagreements, I’m afraid I am in complete agreement with your last sentence.

  • Paul Marks

    Islam is not a “weak religion” – it is a very strong one, that has been on the rise for a long time.

    Nor is Islam “intergrating into the West” – if anything young Muslims tend to be more hardline than their immigrant parents (including in the United States), as the West offers little real alternative to Muslim ideas in schools, colleges and in the mainstream media.

    It is the official ideolgy of much of the West – Welfare State “liberalism” (i.e. multiculturalism and other absurdities) that is weak. Not just in relation to Islam – but in relation to China also.

    As for rigged elections in Afghanistan.

    The United States could have prevented the elections being rigged – or demanded a second round in the face of the rigging.

    If the rigged elections stand it will because the Obama Administration wants them to stand – as an excuse to stab the American military in the back.

    Going into Afghanistan may have been a mistake – but defeat in Afghanistan (which is what pulling out would mean) would be a massive loss of face for the West – which would be celebrated by radical Islamists from Quetta in Pakistan to Birmingham in England.

    And from Birmingham in England to Minneapolis in the United States.