2009 November 11 Wednesday
Ambassador Opposes More Troops For Afghanistan

US ambassador Karl W. Eikenberry says make Karzai's government tackle corruption before more US troops get sent to Afghanistan.

The U.S. ambassador in Kabul sent two classified cables to Washington in the past week expressing deep concerns about sending more U.S. troops to Afghanistan until President Hamid Karzai's government demonstrates that it is willing to tackle the corruption and mismanagement that has fueled the Taliban's rise, senior U.S. officials said.

Karl W. Eikenberry's memos, sent as President Obama enters the final stages of his deliberations over a new Afghanistan strategy, illustrated both the difficulty of the decision and the deepening divisions within the administration's national security team.

Think of it from Hamid Karzai's viewpoint. The people in his government really want to be corrupt. They make lots of money and can help their relations. In a country with a really high rate of consanguineous (cousin) marriage, high fertility, and poverty the gains from corruption for in-bred families can be quite high. So if the United States government will spend money propping up his regime and taking the side of his allied tribes in the long running Afghanistan civil war then why not accept the troops, supplies, and money?

Eikenberry's viewpoint is really optimistic. He thinks if we hold back additional US help then perhaps the Afghan government will clean up its act. Endemic corruption will recede. The populace will back the government and the tribes will stop battling it out. A long history of tribal politics will be replaced with nationalism and economic development. But such a development would mark a radical departure from Afghan history.

A former Marine Corps captain who served in Iraq and then worked for the State Department in Afghanistan has resigned arguing that the US presence in Afghanistan fuels the insurgency.

When Matthew Hoh joined the Foreign Service early this year, he was exactly the kind of smart civil-military hybrid the administration was looking for to help expand its development efforts in Afghanistan.

A former Marine Corps captain with combat experience in Iraq, Hoh had also served in uniform at the Pentagon, and as a civilian in Iraq and at the State Department. By July, he was the senior U.S. civilian in Zabul province, a Taliban hotbed.

But last month, in a move that has sent ripples all the way to the White House, Hoh, 36, became the first U.S. official known to resign in protest over the Afghan war, which he had come to believe simply fueled the insurgency.

Hoh says the troops in Afghanistan are not helping to defeat al Qaeda.

MATTHEW HOH: Of course it's impossible to wave a magic wand and be gone from there. However, I do believe we are involved in a 35-year-old civil war.

I believe we are not the lead character in that war, that it's an internal conflict. I believe that 60,000 troops in Afghanistan do not serve to defeat al-Qaida and do not serve to stabilize the Pakistan government....

Hoh thinks most of the Afghans fighting the US and its allies do so because we are seen as occupiers.

Upon arriving in Afghanistan and serving in both the East and the South (and particularly speaking with local Afghans), I found that the majority of those who were fighting us and the Afghan central government were fighting us because they felt occupied. This concurred with history I had read and with what colleagues had told me.

Hoh says Afghans fight for their village or valley.

"In Afghanistan, everything is much more localized," Hoh tells NPR. "Allegiance is to your family, and then to your village or your valley, and that's what they fight for.

"There has not been a traditional central government there and I don't believe a central government is wanted, and actually, I believe, they fight the central government just as much as they fight the foreign occupiers," he adds.

Hoh does not expect the remaining Taliban to create threats to the United States if we leave.

MATTHEW HOH: The Taliban, we chased them out of power in 2001, like we rightfully should have.

However, what you have in Quetta now, I believe, is just the remnants of that. And while the Quetta Shura Taliban, as we refer to them, is a threat, and is a threat to the Karzai government, I don't believe they are a threat to the United States.

And, furthermore, I don't believe that they would be able to retake Kabul, particularly if we ensure that there was no Pakistani support for them if we left Afghanistan.

Imagine we left, the Taliban swept back into power, and then the Taliban let al Qaeda to set up terrorist training camps again. Well, we could always invade again.

What kind of anti-American whack-job would think the US presence would fuel the Afghan insurgency? Defense Secretary Robert Gates, a hold-over from George W. Bush's administration, also floated the idea that the US presence is fueling the insurgency.

The concern about the U.S. presence fueling the insurgency — not for what the U.S. does, but merely for the fact of its existence — was raised by Defense Secretary Robert Gates in January, but it has not yet seemed to penetrate most discourse about the war. Gates himself backed away from the critique in September, saying that Gen. Stanley McChrystal convinced him that the U.S. military could mitigate the danger by actively providing for the Afghan people’s well-being.

I expect US military misadventures to continue. We will keep wasting lives and money based on myths about the effects of US military interventions.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2009 November 11 10:28 PM  MidEast Afghanistan

MRM said at November 12, 2009 8:06 AM:

this rationale reminds me of the talk that if we just pulled out the Iraqis would stop fighting.

Wolf-Dog said at November 12, 2009 12:40 PM:

It has been argued by some political analysts that the goal of Al Qaeda September 2001 was to provoke the US into overextending itself by invading distant Muslim countries, so that we go bankrupt and get tired. This is exactly what happened and the US walked into the trap of the century. Now if the US pulls out of Afghanistan, it is very likely that there will be another 9/11 type attack somewhere, to force us to waste blood and treasure in a guerrilla war in some unknown and remote place in the world.

THUS MY QUESTION IS: When there is another 9/11 type attack in the future, how should we handle this issue at that time? Whatever we do at the time of the next massive terrorist attack, we should do this without sending soldiers in large numbers. Maybe special operations commandos for sabotage and assassination missions or intelligence collection, but not large numbers of troops.

Remember the Starship Troopers movie. The Alien creatures sent a meteorite to devastate Argentina in order to force the humans to send millions of troops to a distant planet, but this was a trap, and a hungry predator creature was waiting for these troops in order to devour them (their brains.)

Bob Badour said at November 12, 2009 3:42 PM:


My answer is: Next time, the US should go in with even more troops and leave as soon as they accomplish the mission.

Last time, the US failed to send enough troops to really step on the Iraqis, and as a result, anarchy broke out on their watch. Had the US gone in, stepped on them, killed or captured the ruling party and pulled back out again, the world would have learned the lesson it needed to learn. If anarchy, pestilence, famine, and disease followed in the wake of the pull-out, well, tough shit for the Iraqis or whomever it is next time. However, I think the Iraqis would have worked things out on their own. Once the US left, they would have had no reason to go around blowing up their own fucking infrastructure.

Bush was an evil moronic booze-hound. A dry drunk is still a drunk in my books. Waging war by half measures is evil--nothing but evil. The man is stupid and evil.

Wolf-Dog said at November 12, 2009 6:37 PM:


But Saddam Hussein and his ruling socialist party were not responsible for the 9/11 attack, and even their weapons of mass destruction did not exist. All the reasons for invading Iraq were insufficient. Afghanistan was the training ground for the Al Qaeda terrorists, but as soon as we sent troops to Afghanistan, they successfully re-located their training operations to Pakistan. Thus even invading Afghanistan did not fulfill its promise because the new types of people who are resisting the US forces in Afghanistan are not the allies of Al Qaeda (at least not originally.) The Muslim world is big enough to re-locate terrorist armies, which are diffuse, nebulous and very portable.

This is why we need a totally new and futuristic war fighting doctrine to deal with the coming attacks that are likely to involve far more devastating weapons of mass destruction that can easily surpass the 9/11 attack. Now here is the issue: After Pearl Harbor, the FBI started keeping track of all German, Japanese, and even Italian Americans. I do not think every Arab American should then be arrested when the future 9/11 happens (many Arab Americans are Christians, and most Iranian Americans are precisely the anti-Islam secular people who escaped when the Shah was overthrown), but there will certainly be a very advanced computerized system to keep track of everything every Muslim American does or says. This will involve brain scans that will read your thoughts. After the first weapon of mass destruction in the western world, there will be draconian powers given to the police. Immigration interviews will include interrogations assisted with PET scans, hypnotism, and many other very advanced tests to detect lies.

Randall Parker said at November 12, 2009 7:15 PM:


In both Iraq and Afghanistan the fighting would continue in our absence. In Iraq the fighting would lead to some group being in charge and some other groups submitting to the top dogs in exchange for slices of oil money. In Afghanistan the place would remain balkanized. In fact, the Balkans are advanced by comparison. We really should say that Afghanistan would remain Afghanized.

Bob Badour said at November 12, 2009 7:17 PM:


Sorry, I misread your question. My answer remains the same though: Go in with more than enough firepower and troops to defeat the enemy (in the Afghan case the enemy was the Taliban) and then leave. We don't owe those niece-fucking inbred bastards a damned thing. Schools? Fuck'em! Hospitals? Fuck'em! Roads? Double-Fuck'em! What do afghani roads get us but IEDs? Religious oppression of their internal populations? Fuck'em! The enemies of our enemies are not necessarily our friends.

We should be in a position right now to go in, destroy all the poppies, kill all the drug lords we can find and leave the place again. We cannot do that right now because supposedly those lying, thieving vermin are our allies. How the fuck does that make any sense?

If we had left shortly after arriving and blowing shit up, some of the folks now in Pakistan would be in Afghanistan instead and who-ever would have won the civil war would think twice or three times before letting Al Quaeda set up training camps again. And if they were stupid enough to allow it, we could go in, overthrow the bastards and leave again. We might go decades between invasions before any inbred pervert or another gets enough of an upper hand to have to care about.

Instead, we have them penned up in the fringes of a mostly ungovernable nuclear state.

averros said at November 13, 2009 7:44 PM:

Bob Badour,

> We don't owe those niece-fucking inbred bastards a damned thing.

Well, from their point of view YOU are a niece-fucking inbred bastard.

And, fairly considered, they have a much better supporting evidence: namely, your own obviously deranged morality and moron-level IQ, as witnessed by your own words:

"Schools? Fuck'em! Hospitals? Fuck'em! Roads? Double-Fuck'em!" (talking about morality)

"What do afghani roads get us but IEDs?" (talking about your intelligence... as anybody with IQ above that of a head of cabbage would think that the best way to avoid IEDs on roads in some country where people don't like you is to stay off these roads, and, better yet, out of that country altogether).

You know, you sound exactly like a stone drunk Soviet "hegemon" (aka "proletariy" aka lumpen-proletariat aka "bydlo" - all euphemisms for somebody from a borderline criminal lower class) defending Soviet Afgan war.

averros said at November 13, 2009 7:54 PM:

"In both Iraq and Afghanistan the fighting would continue in our absence."

Yes, that seems to be the case. However, while their aggressive idiots are preoccupied with killing each other, the West would be much safer.

It's also good to remember that West actually financed and supported many of these aggressive idiots. Simply stopping doing that would calm things down, eventually.

Bob Badour said at November 14, 2009 6:30 AM:
Well, from their point of view YOU are a niece-fucking inbred bastard.

Well, you might be... I don't know. But I am not a niece-fucking inbred anything from any perspective. The Afghanis, on the other hand, are from every perspective.

stay off these roads, and, better yet, out of that country altogether

Exactly! Which is why we should have pulled out of that stone-aged shit-hole the moment we accomplished the mission, which we did almost before we even got there. If we had sent adequate troops, we might have cut off the escape routes many of the Taliban took to get to Pakistan.

Averros, from what I have seen of you in the past, I know you have severe challenges when it comes to comprehension of written english. Perhaps it was unfair of me to use a compound sentence, implied subject, prepositional phrases AND a parenthetical hint all in one sentence. Just for you, I will break it up into bits you might comprehend:

Go big. Kick ass. Come home.

It will help things if your future responses to my post have some relevance to that central message. Given your limitations, I know it will be hard for you, but it will be worth the effort. For inspiration and practice, try this.

MaryJ said at November 15, 2009 2:54 PM:

The Muslim 9/11 hijackers shouldn't have been in the US in the first place; then we wouldn't have had 9/11. No 9/11, no reason to invade either Afghanistan or Iraq. Diversity kills. The Western world and Islam were separate for 1400 years for a reason; it worked. We should go back to that policy. It's no skin off our noses if the Afghans prefer their stone-age lifestyle to ours, as long as they don't try to export it to our country.

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