War Porn

Posted: August 13, 2009 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

Dick Holbrooke took some time on August 12 to let us know that there is no Afghanistan strategy.

The U.S. special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan said on Wednesday that while American forces have been making progress in the region it is still too early to tell what success might look like.

“We’ll know it when we see it,” said Richard Holbrooke, referencing the “Supreme Court test” of how to identify pornographic material.

If one does not have a definition of success, one cannot create a strategy to get there. Thus, if no definition of success exists other than a warm fuzzy feeling in the administration’s collective gut, we don’t have a strategy in Afghanistan. Like Rob says in High Fidelity:

“I’ve been thinking with my guts since I was fourteen years old and, frankly speaking, I’ve come to the conclusion that my guts have shit for brains.”

“We’ll know it when we see it” means we can’t tell you clearly why your tax dollars and your sons and daughters are killing people in your name right now. “We’ll know it when we see it” means that we’re measuring success like we’re measuring pornography–whatever turns you on, man. The difference between ill-defined standards for pornography and a directionless war, of course, is that one of these vagaries leads to a happy ending. The other leads to years, lives and treasure wasted on a pile of corpses for which we have nothing tangible to show–except the missing years, lives and treasure.

Let’s not mince words. We have indulged our policymakers’ expenditure of lives and funds for eight years now because we, a generation of Americans raised to grope wildly for a chance to live up to the example set by the “Greatest Generation”, allowed ourselves to be convinced that the 9-11 attacks were not spectacular criminal attacks, but (finally!) our new Pearl Harbor. We agreed to this adventure in The Graveyardtm because it was sold as the appropriate action to bring justice to Bin Laden and his network, along with their Taliban enablers. There was an implicit deal made between the people and the power-holders: we turn over our loved ones and our funds to you, and you go get the perpetrators of the attacks.

But here we are, eight years later, still indulging policymakers throwing more money and troops at the problem. This latest year, 2009, has seen five different policy reviews, and the best they’ve come up with so far is to (surprise!) send more troops, along with a pitifully small “civilian surge” that has the nice side effect of increasing the number of private military contractors operating in Afghanistan, plus the use of drones in Pakistan that kill ten times as many non-combatants as suspected militants. For all this money and blood, here’s what we get:

Afghan government map showing threat of Taliban attacks

Afghan government map showing threat of Taliban attacks

And now, here is Holbrooke, letting it slip that we can’t tell you what success looks like but we’ll know when we succeed by how amazingly turned on he’ll be when we get there.

Enough is enough. The American people should reject more than the likely request for more troops. We should reject the war in Afghanistan altogether, along with the worst legacy of the Bush era: the idea that war is the appropriate response to terrorism.

Or we could just go with Holbrooke’s gut while more people die. Whatever turns you on.

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Comments
  1. sporkmaster says:

    I was wondering when you might get a chance to reply because I do not want to over load you with replies. Responding to replies should be fun rather then feel like filling your taxes.

    Also I came across a line that is well said;

    “Iraqi forces and American forces operate along cultural lines. The Americans value precision, safety, speed, surprise and information disseminated to all levels. The Iraqis value secrecy at the highest levels, their own Soldiers and Policemen may very well be in Al Qaeda or Jaysh Al Mahdi, so they keep things quiet. They value the power or “Wasta” that comes from being the only one who can supply a unit, or know a secret, or change a schedule, or develop a plan. Americans on the other hand value the fact that no one should be irreplaceable.”

    http://www.armystrongstories.com/blogger/nathan-moore/the-sweep/

    Also just because we know something we do not talk openly about it. I mean I would tell my family that I had no clue when I would get in, when in fact I knew right down to a 72 hour window.

    • dcrowe says:

      Hey sporkmaster:

      Hey man–I should be able to reply more in the coming week. We’re moved in now, but we’re on vacation in my hometown in the panhandle. The house looks great–so happy!

      On the topic of the post: I get what you’re saying, but…this isn’t really about telling people our rules, etc. It’s about whether the U.S. government has an actual goal in mind and an actual plan to get there. You probably saw the stories about Obama’s “performance indicators.” The problem with making trends your guide rather than a strategy is that trends can go in the right direction forever and never get us to the point where we’re ready to leave.

      Theres’ a great book called “Every War Must End” that I’ve written about before. It’s point is that policymakers have a responsibility to plan all the way to the end, know what the acceptable “end” states could look like, or not launch a war to avoid ever-increasing commitments, mission creep and quagmires. I am really afraid that no one’s heeding that guidance in the administration.

      • sporkmaster says:

        Oh nice, hope your having fun. I cannot wait to see photos of the house.

        As far as the overall plan, it is running into the dangers of playing arm chair general. But I think we would have been done with Afghanistan or in a much better position if we had not gone to Iraq. But it does no real good talking about “would have, should have” when it is already happened. But people seemed to be caught up in it. There will be plenty of time to do that later.

        My thought vary on this, but for some reason I cannot put them in a way that I like at the moment. It is that understand how to make the plan work on the lower level but not sure about the higher ones. But does concern me is how this will affect future plans in foreign policy. I am concerned about any failure been seen as weakness that will encourage further attacks.

        Speaking of quotes here is one that applies.

        Never, never, never believe any war will be smooth and easy, or that anyone who embarks on the strange voyage can measure the tides and hurricanes he will encounter. The statesman who yields to war fever must realize that once the signal is given, he is no longer the master of policy but the slave of unforeseeable and uncontrollable events.

        Winston Churchill

  2. […] War Porn posted on August 13th, 2009 at Return Good for Evil […]

  3. sporkmaster says:

    Here is a concern about the area.

    DAHANEH, Afghanistan – The British jet called in by the U.S. Marines had the Taliban position in sight, but the pilot refused to fire, a decision that frustrated Marines on the ground but was in line with new orders by the top U.S. commander to protect civilians.

    The Marines themselves didn’t attack militants shooting at them from a compound Wednesday during the same battle because women and children were there, an approach meant to avoid civilian casualties at all costs.

    “They did that on purpose,” sniper platoon leader 1st Lt. Joseph Cull, 28, of Delafield, Wisconsin, said of the Taliban. “They are trying to bait us.”

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090813/ap_on_re_as/as_afghanistan

    If we actively publish every rule we have, the they will use it to every advantage they can think of.

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