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

The Lost Sergeant Lost Again! (Updated)

If I were Sergeant Bergdahl and  if I were not a deserter, I would ask for a court-martial. Given the public airing of rumors concerning his case, I don’t see how his request could be turned down. He has been damaged by a very public discussion of his case. He is entitled to his day in court to clear his name. For a member of the military, this means a court-martial, a procedure giving good guarantees concerning the presumption of innocence.

The Army is keeping him incommunicado in a military hospital in Germany. It’s as if he had been lost a second time. Some say he has forgotten English. That’s completely absurd. It could be that the Army is merely trying to avoid the accidental spilling of military secrets. It could be that there is another, darker secret involved.

Could it be that he did not particularly wanted to be rescued? Had he cast his lot with the other side who cynically sacrificed him in return for the huge prize that Mr Obama provided?

Usually, I am quick to blame the Obama administration ineptness rather than criminal intent for its actions that look like sabotage of the USA. This time, the debacle is so huge that my judgment vacillates. Really, one lost soldier for five battle-hardened generals of armies who throw acid in school-girls’ faces? We are returning to the struggle people who were only one degree  of separation removed from 9/11?

President Obama, he of the Veterans Administration, suddenly speaks like a military patriot: We don’t leave any of our soldiers behind no matter who they are. Period! What if the Taliban barbarians had asked for a nuclear device in return for delivering Sergeant Bergdahl into our hands?

We don’t leave any of our soldiers behind. Period?

Update: It’s been one week and Sergeant Bergdhal has still  not been allowed to talk to his mother. Maybe he has forgotten how to say “Hi” in English, or “Mom,” or something.

It’s because of concerns for his health, says the administration. It has not told us what the health concern is.

I don’t much like conspiracy explanations as a rule but I can’t help notice that medical doctors are professionally obligated not to talk about their patients. And military officers usually follow orders including orders to keep their mouths shut irrespective of what they think. If this were not true, why in the world was Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat sent to die in a French military hospital?

Libertarian Foreign Policy: A Dialogue on Imperialism

This is starting to feel a lot like shooting fish in a barrel Dr Delacroix. Since we both know exactly how Leftists argue, I think it would be pertinent to over your rebuttals point-by-point.

I am glad we agree on the US intervention in Afghanistan based on the fact that the Taliban hosted and refused to deliver the terrorist Al Qaida.

And it would have been nice if we had focused our resources and our energy on staying there and hunting down al-Qaeda. There is also something amiss here: Osama bin Laden was shot dead in a shootout involving our special forces underneath the nose of Pakistan’s version of West Point. As we both know very well, the Taliban and Islamabad have never been on friendly terms, yet both sides gave refuge to bin Laden.

My suspicion is that both factions harbored bin Laden because of his immense wealth, not because of ideological solidarity. Also, I am not sure that the Taliban would have even been able to retrieve bin Laden if they wanted to. Rule by the Taliban was no doubt cruel, but for the most part they relied heavily on regional strongmen and political alliances to maintain control of the state.

With all this being said, I don’t think we ever declared war on Afghanistan. I may be wrong, but I think we focused our efforts on toppling the Taliban regime and hunting bin laden rather than fighting the Afghan state. This is actually a logical outcome, if you think about it, because al-Qaeda was not sponsored by Kabul, and it most certainly was not sponsored by the impoverished warlords of the Afghan regions, either. I’m willing to bet that the Taliban were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Remember, al-Qaeda, or whatever is left of it after President Obama gets finished with them, is not the same thing as the Taliban. I would even say, with some confidence, that the Taliban knew nothing of the attacks being planned against the United States.

Either way, both factions are finished, and it’s time to bring our troops home after a job well done (thanks to President Obama’s strategy).

The “some press reports” statement regarding the Taliban blinding of little girls with acid shows what might be deliberate ignorance. The assertion was made by several responsible neutral sources, including National Geographic, not exactly a hawkish extremist publication. I suspect the Libertarian pacifist stance cannot be maintained without a broad practice of tactical ignorance such as you just demonstrated: Iran’s nuclear weapons? No problem.

My point wasn’t to discredit the press reports, it was to suggest that going to war with a state because a regime sometimes sponsors the throwing of acid into little schoolgirls’ eyes is a little bit silly. And where did the statement on Iran’s nuclear weapons come from?

Pulling stuff out of thin air to legitimate a point that was used to purposefully misconstrue the argument of your opponent is something only Leftists do, usually.  When are you going to come out of the closet, Dr Delacroix?  We’re all dying to know!

Your disquisition on the French Revolution simply ignores my question: Is the American revolution any the less valid because ti was helped by the intervention of a foreign power, France? When you seem to relate the Terror to this intervention, you are going out on a very thin limb. There is a conventional belief that the French intervention hastened the revolution in France by aggravating the public debt.

Ah. Here I think there is a miscommunication between us. If a revolution happens, it is valid regardless of who is involved and who it affects. Pretending otherwise is a waste of time. I brought in the French angle because today the United States IS France playing the role of interventionist in the Middle East.

How is relating the social, political, and economic upheaval of the Terror – which was aggravated by French intervention in the Anglo-American war – going out on a very thin limb? I did not suggest that we are on a crash course for violent revolution. I only drew some (quite pertinent) parallels between the two situations: supporting revolutions that have nothing to do with national security has never bode well for the states that do the intervening.

If you negative feelings, your apprehensions about the Arab Spring were all well-founded (were) should we then, as a country, continue to favor tyranny in those countries as we did for thirty years?

Ah. I have never said that I do not support the revolutions going on in the Middle East. Ever. What I have done is raise a flag of caution in the face of bellicose calls for more bombing, more involvement, and more intrigue on the part of Washington in the revolutions going on in the Middle East. Given that we have been supporting brutal regimes in that part of the world for the last half century, I don’t think our involvement will be looked upon with graciousness by the peoples we are inevitably trying to help.

Of course I support the revolutions going on in the Middle East, I just don’t support our government getting involved with them. When the dust clears, I think we should be the first state to stick out our hand and offer our friendship to the new governments.  I think the people of the Middle East would be inclined to agree with me.

Humanitarian Wars can be Unjust too

If you hate evils committed by individuals as much as you hates evils committed by institutions, and vice versa, as I think most people who are even remotely libertarian — wait, no! remotely human! — do, does it truly follow that you must condone one in order to combat the other? Maybe it does, at least in the short term, in a place and time where relationships between all these things have been so distorted. In this case, the distortion is caused primarily by the monopolization of not only judicious force, but very nearly all force, initiative and responsive, at every level, by a single institution (with many manifestations and interlocking jurisdictions). If you haven’t guessed already, that institution is the state.

Taking my cue (I swear there was no collusion!) from Brandon and going with the flow. Jacques Delacroix of Facts Matter and Notes on Liberty has this to say:

No one doubts that the Taliban, both in Afghanistan and in Pakistan, and Islamists in general, want to implement barbaric policies and that they do implement them whenever they have a chance. (Remember, their harsh, extremist rule in parts of Iraq contributed to turning the Sunni population against them.) Among other rolling atrocities, the Taliban close, and often firebomb schools, overwhelmingly girls schools. They are overtly working on perpetuating obscurantism and the savage treatment of women that is undeniably common in much (but not all) of the Muslim world.

He then asks: Continue reading