Asking for 9/11

Pres. Trump discontinued the on-going talks with the Taliban without indication there will be a resumption.

What took him so long?

A couple of days before the announcement, the Taliban claimed an attack in Kabul that killed a dozen people including an American. (This is important.) Two weeks prior, the Taliban had massacred the guests at a wedding, also in Kabul . They routinely set off bombs in Shia mosques at prayer time. They are so keen to do it that they often rely on suicide bombers to perform this glorious and pious act.

Many forget, many younger people don’t know, that we did not go into Afghanistan to be mean or to engage in state building, or to reform Afghan society. This, although we may have become mired in such an enterprise after a while. It happened only because Americans don’t like to leave a mess behind. They feel a compulsion to clean up after themselves. Many people also don’t know that more than fifty countries participated alongside us.

After 9/11, reasons emerged to believe that Al-Qaeda was the culprit for those several coordinated terrorist attacks on US soil. The leader of that organization, Osama Bin Laden, obligingly confirmed this by video shortly afterwards.

The US officially asked the ruling Afghan government to turn over Bin Laden for trial. The Taliban government declined to do so. Yes, that simple.

A few weeks later the US and several allies invaded Afghanistan to capture Bin Laden and as many Al-Qaeda members as possible. The most important allies were Afghan opponents of the Taliban government gathered under the name “Northern League.” The Taliban had arranged to assassinate the Northern League’s leader on 9/10. Largely thanks to the Northern League, the coalition, mostly in the person of a few hundred CIA agents, achieved victory and routed the Taliban in a couple of short weeks.

The main purpose of this victorious expedition was dual. First, was the objective to stop the Taliban from doing it again, from again giving shelter to those who would murder American civilians. The second objective was to convince terrorists of all breeds, and beyond those, others with nefarious intentions against us, including China, that if you kill Americans, bad things will happen to you, that you will never sleep untroubled sleep.

A few more words about the Taliban: They are an overtly fanatic Muslim group. During their time in power, they banned music altogether. (Can you believe this?) They stopped girls from going to school at the same time as they made it illegal for male doctors to examine female patients. Please, put two and two together: No educated females, no male doctors treating females. If that is not a formula for feminicide, what is it? Another Taliban achievement was the exemplary shooting in the head of adulteresses. (Their definition of adultery was such that at least half the women in my town of Santa Cruz could be convicted, I remarked at the time.) They did it at halftime during a soccer game. I saw the video on television with my own eyes. It’s a blessing when your objective enemies make it easy for you to hate them.

One stupendous thing about the now broken negotiations is that they did not include the elected government of Afghanistan. The people who took the trouble to organize relatively clean elections, the people who managed to achieve a high rate of school attendance for girls, the people whose country it is in the end, were not invited. It looks to me like, one more time America was abandoning its allies. Besides being shabby and immoral, it’s not good for Americans in the short and long run alike. Others are taking notes: Help Americans; die!

Extricating the US from Afghanistan was part of the Trump platform. It looked like an easy call. Leftists hate America and want it to be defeated whenever possible. Many conservatives and all libertarians wanted a US troop withdrawal from that country because they believe (correctly, I think) that every military action extends the reach and the significance of government, especially of the federal government, over American society. Then Mr Trump started listening to the generals, then he learned what the US was doing in that God-forsaken country. Then, little by little the consequences of an American troop withdrawal dawned on him. Then, the Taliban murdered an American soldier as the talks were concluding. Bad form!

Then, for reasons not well understood at the this time, he fired John Bolton, the clear-headed adviser with a powerful moral compass. To my mind, that is easily the worst decision of Mr Trump’s administration. If I end up not voting for him, this will be playing a main part.

Critics say, “We have been there for eighteen years.” So? We have been in South Korea since 1953; it worked. The fat Rocket Boy has not tried much of anything there, neither did his father, or his grandfather. The American military was in Western Europe from about 1948 to 1995, not with 30,000 troops but with hundreds of thousands. That did the job: No attack to speak of; the Soviet side collapsed. The world was finally rid of the pretense of Communism although that was never the goal. Our firmness, our consistency did it. The American military in Europe for all those years was one of my best investments ever.

Practically, it’s difficult to argue that the US should keep a strong military presence in Afghanistan because doing so subjects you to a discreet kind of blackmail. About the endless expenditure there, they say? How about the dead Americans? I have thought about these moral issues at length. Below are my answers.

Have you bothered to calculate your rough share of the expenditure connected to the American military presence in Afghanistan? Is it $1,000 per year, $100? $10? If you don’t know the answer, you really have no right to complain. If you think that any expenditure there is too much, you are either in bad faith or a pacifist fool.

Of course, it’s almost impossible to state openly that we should accept that more American military personnel will die in Afghanistan. Yet, we do it tacitly for cops and firemen at home all the time. American fatal combat casualties in that country are a tiny fraction of those needlessly and uselessly dying on American roads at the hands of drunk drivers. And none of those dead were volunteers. All military personnel is. (I know I am repeating myself. No one has refuted me much on this point.) On the average, about 250 US military personnel and contractors have died of all causes in Afghanistan each year. This is a large and lamentable number, of course, but it makes for an American military death rate in Afghanistan that is frankly low as compared to the death rate of young black men in Chicago. How can one honestly deplore the former and ignore the latter?

The truth is that Afghanistan is going to remain a vipers’ nest for the foreseeable future. It will remain a good place for terrorists to train and regroup. We need a significant military presence there to limit the damage to ourselves and to strike back when necessary. We need to demonstrate to the world, including to the huge mafia state of China that killing Americans, even trying to do so, is costly and dangerous.

To act in any other way is to ask for another 9/11 or worse, possibly much much worse.

SI VIS PACEM, PARA BELLUM

10 thoughts on “Asking for 9/11

  1. Me? I’m glad Trump dumped Bolton. The man is still stuck in the Cold War. He will die there. I still wouldn’t vote for Trump, of course, but if Trump’s firing of Bolton is one of the main causes of the former’s exit from the presidency, it’s a win-win for the whole world!

    Speaking of still being stuck in the Cold War: Leftists hate America? China is a mafia state? People who disagree with you are either in bad faith or fools?

    • People who disagree with me are not in bad faith or fools because they disagree with me. People who disagree with me and can’t take the trouble to examine basic facts are . I have read a hunded times regret expressed about the amount of “treasure” spent in Afghanistan. The figure is expressed in billion of dollars, even trillions. People who use such quanities, in general, have no idea what they mean (Faculty Club experience) . Such quantities have to reduced to their subparts to be meaningful to the average literate person, like this: such and such percentage of Gross Domestic Product, or better, so much per capita. Media opponents of US military presence in Afghanistan never do this (in my presence, that is; maybe they do it while I am asleep).

      China is an amazingly successful mafia state. It’s not a socialist state in any of the many meanings of the word “socialist.” The Chinese Communist Party is not communist. It’s a small hierarchical group ruling over a much larger number by force, with the help of judicious recruitement from below. I mean s very seelctiv co-optation of personnel. It’s run for its members’ benefits. It’s eerily similar to the original Sicilian mafia. It works better than the mafia does because it actually owns the state apparatus. It’s a mafia state except that it shouldn ‘ t be called exactly “mafia.” (Sorry, I don’t know the relevant Chinese character, damn me!)

    • And what about Leftists hating America?

      Reminder: the Cold War ended in 1991, or 1989.

      As Thomas points out below, you and other hawks have had too much trouble with some basic facts of your own to be crusading for more war in Afghanistan (or anywhere else). You’ve been wrong too often, and about too many things (remember when you stated matter-of-factly that the US military was not in Saudi Arabia on 9/11?) for anybody to take you seriously on foreign policy.

      Why not just admit you are wrong, and start over, maybe by rethinking how a libertarian foreign policy might actually work?

  2. —–
    After 9/11, reasons emerged to believe that Al-Qaeda was the culprit for those several coordinated terrorist attacks on US soil. The leader of that organization, Osama Bin Laden, obligingly confirmed this by video shortly afterwards.

    The US officially asked the ruling Afghan government to turn over Bin Laden for trial. The Taliban government declined to do so. Yes, that simple.
    —–

    No, not that simple.

    Afghanistan had no extradition treaty with the US, but nonetheless the Taliban offered to hand over bin Laden if the US cared to offer its evidence that he was behind the 9/11 attacks.

    US president George W. Bush declined to do any such thing. He clearly stated that when the US government makes a demand, it’s every other government’s job to comply with that demand, no questions asked.

  3. To continue:

    If the US had demanded the handover of a criminal suspect from Canada, the UK, or Israel on the same terms as Bush demanded the handover of bin Laden from Saudi Arabia, any one of those governments would have told the US to go pound sand. In fact, Canada (at least) would have declined entirely unless guaranteed that he would not face the death penalty. The Taliban demanded nothing more than any other regime would have. Perhaps they would have declined or stall if given it, but they WEREN’T given it.

    I do take the requisite grain of salt with claims that the US invasion of Afghanistan was planned before 9/11 because of failed pipeline deals, or to reinvigorate the world’s opium supply, or whatever.

    On the other hand, if the focus had been on liquidating al Qaeda and getting bin Laden, the US forces wouldn’t have spent six weeks messing around overthrowing and replacing a regime with a circa WW2 level defense establishment before fully addressing Tora Bora, while bin Laden and al Qaeda re-located themselves out of the country in an orderly manner.

    The US invasion of Afghanistan turned out, whether that was its original motivation or not, to be just another war of aggression centered around providing the children of US “defense” contractors and their employees with new game consoles, sports cars, and college educations.

    • Canada is not presently holding a Chinese suspect accused of a decidedly non-violent crime?

      Conditional extradition (no death penalty) is an old story and it’s a distraction in this case.

      . I am familiar with the opinion you express at the end of your comment, of course although the assertion that it’s partly about procuring new game consoles for children is new to me and original, I think.

      You didn’t say anythign about my closing point: Not fighting back consistently is like asking for more.

    • At no point have the Taliban been credibly accused by the US government or anyone else of actual involvement in the 9/11 attacks. Invading Afghanistan outside a very narrow mission of apprehending bin Laden was not “fighting back.” It was seeking out an unwinnable war which, surprise, still hasn’t been won.

      The Taliban offered to extradite bin Laden, which it was not obligated to do under any existing agreement, given reasonable conditions.

      The US instead demanded his extradition under conditions so unreasonable that no government on Earth would have likely agreed to them.

      Would the Taliban have kept their word if the US had been reasonable? We will never know, because the US went to war rather than be reasonable. And then went to war with another state (Iraq) which has also never been credibly accused of actual involvement in the attacks. And then strengthened its friendly relations with the only government some of whose functionaries HAVE been credibly accused of actual involvement in the attacks (Saudi Arabia), and with another government for which there’s a plausible case for foreknowledge, to one degree or another, of the attacks (Israel).

      Wars of aggression for which the casus belli is either non-existent or not believable aren’t “fighting back.” They’re just wars of aggression.

    • “The Taliban offered to extradite bin Laden, which it was not obligated to do under any existing agreement, given reasonable conditions.” Refresh our memeories, please. Other than this, I am very familiar with your position. I have fought against it for forty years. I need not be reminded of it. I don’t feel like arguing with it. I am too old. and it’s a bit boring, frankly.

  4. “Refresh our memeories, please. Other than this, I am very familiar with your position.”

    US President George W. Bush to the Taliban: “Hand over bin Laden.”

    Taliban to US President George W. Bush: “Even though we have no extradition treaty with the US which would legally obligate us to do such a thing, we’ll be happy to do so once we see some evidence that he committed a crime.”

    US President George W. Bush to the Taliban: “That’s not how this works. How this works is you do what I say or the US invades your country.”

    Taliban to US President George W. Bush: “Oh, OK — go fuck yourself, then.”

    Re: Canada.

    The Canadians are holding a Huawei executive for POSSIBLE extradition to the US.

    They’ve been doing so for months and it seems unlikely the extradition will happen.

    Canada, unlike the Taliban, does have an extradition treaty with the US.

    Trump, unlike Bush, has not threatened to invade Canada if they don’t hand over anyone and everyone he wants handed over.

    And one of the conditions of Canadian extradition is that they will not extradite suspects unless those suspects are exempted from the death penalty. If bin Laden had been hiding out in Saskatchewan, the US would have had to guarantee no death penalty to get the Canadians to hand him over.

    So no, your facts don’t “undermine” my “position.” They’re just facts that complement that “position,” aka “the truth.”

Please keep it civil

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