Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
October 20, 2012

Only Idiots Try To Eat Soup With A Knife ...

... or to occupy Afghanistan.

John A. Nagl is der Führer of the COINdinistas and author of “Learning to Eat Soup With a Knife.” Nagl can not admit that the counterinsurgency campaigns he argued for failed both in Iraq and in Afghanistan to achieve their goals. While everyone acknowledges that war in Afghanistan is already lost and all politicians are looking for a faster way out of there he still claims that the "west" is Not losing in Afghanistan. Nagl starts his OpEd with this false claim:

Americans haven’t lost a war in so long, we’ve forgotten what doing so looks like — and what it costs. The only war that we undeniably lost was the Vietnam War; thrown out of the country literally under fire, we abandoned our allies to a horrific fate and left behind a legacy of terror in the region, breaking our Army in the process.
Hmm - wasn't there, beside Vietnam, this other war where Nagl promoted his ideas? Does he believe that Iraq war was not lost? Wasn't the U.S. kicked out of that country? Doesn't the terror there continue? Are the suicide numbers in the U.S. army not at a record height?
Despite the miasma of discontent with the effort, the United States and its many allies are not losing in Afghanistan. ... We are proceeding with our plan to hand over primary responsibility for security to the Afghans by the end of 2014.

This will allow the United States to accomplish our national security objectives in the region: defeating al-Qaeda; preventing al-Qaeda and its affiliates from establishing permanent bases in Afghanistan and the tribal regions of Pakistan; and maintaining our own bases in the region from which to operate drones, manned aircraft and Special Operations forces. Calls for a more rapid and complete withdrawal ignore the geopolitical realities and threats that first led to U.S. intervention after the Sept. 11 , 2001, attacks — and that will continue to require armed U.S. assistance for decades to come.

Since when were these "national security objectives" Nagl lays out the aim of the war on Afghanistan? Who has ever defined them as the war's aims? The U.S. wants, according to Nagl, keep troops in Afghanistan and continue to wage war there until, well, when? Forever?

Somehow I do not have the impression that the Afghans will agree with that:

President Hamid Karzai has warned there might be no immunity from prosecution for foreign troops after 2014 if the insecurity in Afghanistan does not come to an end and the country's borders are not properly protected.

Karzai discussed the matter with visiting Nato chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen on Thursday, saying that the Afghan people may not allow the government to allow the foreign soldiers this leniency if poor security continues, according to a presidential statement released Saturday.

Afghans might "not permit their government to grant immunity... if the war and insecurities continue in Afghanistan, Afghan borders are not protected, and the immunity for foreign forces comes on top of these issues", the statement said.

Translation: "Unless you are not needed you will not be welcome here anymore. That's because you are the problem."

It has been obvious for a while that Karzai is copying the strategy Maliki used in Iraq to kick the U.S. troops out. Iraq signed some longer term agreements with Bush but the Status Of Force Agreement that would have given U.S. troops immunity in the country was left out of the package to be negotiated later. When the Obama administration tried all it could to keep U.S. troops in Iraq the Iraqis simply rejected to sign the SOFA and the U.S. troops left. The war was lost. The aim of pulling Iraq into the U.S. client camp and to keep it as a fighting base in the Middle East was not achieved. The U.S. left with its tail between its legs.

In May Obama and Karzai signed a Strategic Partnership Agreement. The U.S. had tried to get a SOFA included. But Karzai wanted to keep that card to play it at a later moment. He could for example use that in his own negotiations with the Taliban. They do want the U.S. out and as long as Karzai does not sign the SOFA he has the capability to guarantee that the U.S. will go. He might get something in return for that.

Besides a SOFA there is one other legal move that could give U.S. troops continued immunity in Afghanistan and thereby enable Nagl's dream. A UN Security Council resolution under Chapter 7 could order a new UN peacekeeping mission for Afghanistan and designate U.S. troops as participants or even leaders. But to get that resolution will require to overcome a potential Russian and Chinese veto. They would of course have certain conditions, they would restrict the size, tasks and time of that force and would demand a high political and even financial price. I doubt that the U.S. will be willing to pay such a price for continuing an endless mission under guaranteed continued enemy fire.

Back to Nagl's hogwash:

We will bear the heavy burden of the war in Afghanistan and Pakistan for years. U.S. soldiers will continue to serve in the region, assisting Afghan (and sometimes Pakistani) security forces against threats to the stability of both nations, conducting raids on insurgents and terrorists and preventing a broader war in South Asia. This is what success looks like in such wars.
To continue war for years and without any defined aim or end is what success looks like?

Whoever makes such a statement must be a regular consumer of Afghanistan's premier export product. Or that persona must be a unscrupulous lobbyist for the military industrial complex that makes loads of money by continues war. Then again no sane lobbyist would argue, like Nagl, for an open ended war because lobbyists know that the U.S. tax payer will not agree with such.

I believe that Nagl knows that war in Afghanistan is lost. Just like the war in Iraq was lost. But Nagl is a weak and rather stupid man who can not admit that he is wrong and that he has been wrong for a long time.

This has been evident for quite some time. Only a stupid man could come up with idea of eating soup with a knife and only a real idiot man would attempt to learn it.

Posted by b on October 20, 2012 at 17:05 UTC | Permalink


They also lost the War of 1812.

Posted by: Albertde | Oct 20 2012 18:28 utc | 1

I think the US has lost (or tied) ever war they have been in since WWII.... except for Grenada.

Posted by: Susan | Oct 20 2012 19:08 utc | 2

Nagl would appear to be intent on ensuring not only that the war against Afghanistan is lost but that its satrap/allies get their noses rubbed in the blood stained, and expensive, shit.

If the USA continues to lead its allies into disaster it runs the risk of nourishing some patriotic resistance among the hag-ridden citizenries of those countries whose rulers it has convinced to support eternal warfare, plummeting living standards and mass unemployment, as preferable alternatives to the social harmony and international peace which it dreads.

Posted by: bevin | Oct 20 2012 19:37 utc | 3

I do a lot of military blogging and not even the hard-liners believe this crap any longer.

The principal problem with COIN is that its foundation was false. You can’t build a castle on sand, you need to go down to solid rock. It's a charade. What the US military does is not "counterinsurgency."

US Army Field Manual 3-24, Counterinsurgency, describes assistance to an established government beset by insurgents, not a resistance to a US invasion and a US puppet government.

Example: The French resistance in WWII was not an insurgency, it was a resistance to German invasion and Vichy government. The French were not insurgents because the causative problem was foreign.

So call it counter-resistance, not counterinsurgency, and then the situation becomes much clearer. The people don’t want the US military in their country! Simple as that.

FM 3-24 COIN
Legitimacy Is the Main Objective
1-113. The primary objective of any COIN operation is to foster development of effective governance by a legitimate government.

And of course this has not happened in Iraq nor in Afghanistan.

In Afghanistan, in fact, the government will change as the US military pulls out. Karzai must leave. We ain’t seen nuthin’ yet, methinks. more below --

Posted by: Don Bacon | Oct 20 2012 20:22 utc | 4

Crisis Group, Oct 8, 2012
Afghanistan’s Transition Meltdown

Afghanistan: The Long, Hard Road to the 2014 Transition, Crisis Group’s new report, explains how the country is on course for another set of fraudulent elections and how that could undermine what little hope remains for stability after it takes full responsibility for security.
“The Afghan army and police are overwhelmed and underprepared for the transition”, says Rondeaux. “Another botched election and resultant unrest would push them to breaking point”.

The new report details the challenge ahead as the country’s political leaders prepare for political and security transition in eighteen months. The government’s credibility has not recovered since the fraudulent and chaotic presidential and parliamentary polls in 2009 and 2010, and so far, leaders have been unable to reverse the downward spiral.

“President Karzai and parliament have long known what needs to be done to ensure a clean vote, but they have steadfastly refused to take any serious steps in that direction”, says Rondeaux. “Karzai seems more interested in perpetuating his own power by any means rather than ensuring credibility of the political system and long-term stability in the country”.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Oct 20 2012 20:28 utc | 5

Don Bacon, I always had the impression that the Us wanted to oust Karzai, but he "out-maneuvered" them at the elections, and this is why this topic is always brought up; what kind of "fair" elections can people expect to have under foreign occupation? I mean, they don't even have them in the Us ...

Posted by: claudio | Oct 20 2012 21:57 utc | 6

Why we fight.

The Taliban eliminated all opium production in the areas they controlled, but under the US, Afghanistan became world largest opium producer, which produces 93% of world opium. Now the US military protects the poppies.

Wall Street Journal, Oct 12, 2012 (excerpt)

Here around Camp Bastion, Marines take pains not to damage the poppy fields as they drive through, even if this involves a higher chance of being hit by roadside bombs. "The Americans are not here to tell people they can't grow poppies. They have to hear it from the Afghans—who are not here," Lt. Mencik said, referring to the government.

As Marines and coalition troops from Jordan entered a neighborhood of Boldak on a recent day, the white-bearded village elder, Allah Nazar, ran toward the patrol. "The police would come here to destroy our poppy fields. Thanks for protecting our village, and our fields from the police," he told Sgt. Matt Brunnemann, nodding vigorously.

"That's what we're here for," the sergeant said, matter-of-factly. "Looking after their best interests."

The Taliban, the elder assured the Marines, never come to the village, and have no local support. A few minutes later, the Marines picked up a spent AK-47 round among dry poppy pods. "They play both sides," Lt. Mencik said as the troops moved on. "Every single one of them."

Posted by: Don Bacon | Oct 20 2012 21:59 utc | 7

It matters little who sits in Kabul. Most Afghans, being illiterate and tribal, simply want to live their lives without interference from far-away bureaucrats. And who can blame them?

Gertrude Bell, the 'founder of modern Iraq,' 1920:
“In the light of the events of the last two months there's no getting out of the conclusion that we have made an immense failure here. The system must have been far more at fault than anything that I or anyone else suspected. It will have to be fundamentally changed and what that may mean exactly I don't know. I suppose we have underestimated the fact that this country is really an inchoate mass of tribes which can't as yet be reduced to any system."

Posted by: Don Bacon | Oct 20 2012 22:06 utc | 8

@Don Bacon

It matters little who sits in Kabul. Most Afghans, being illiterate and tribal, simply want to live their lives without interference from far-away bureaucrats
did you mean to say that modern literate citizens love to be directed from from far-away bureaucrats? Where you thinking of Europeans under the EU? :-)

anyways, I wouldn't write off Karzai; he has build internal support, and has good cards to play for negotiating with the Taliban, as b says; the Us desperately tried to cut him off from the final deal, but haven't succeeded

Posted by: claudio | Oct 20 2012 22:24 utc | 9

Im not sure the aim of waging war in modern America is victory, I think it may be simply waging war.

Posted by: demize! | Oct 20 2012 22:41 utc | 10

"Im not sure the aim of waging war in modern America is victory, I think it may be simply waging war."

A lot would depend on how one defines "Victory" - for example if one's aim is to defeat (supposed) radical Islamic Jihadi's then the US was been defeated years before it even declared war on "Terrorism", since it is a fact that
that the US is THE major sponsor of supposed radical Islamic Jihadi's

However if one defines "Victory" as "fucking things up in the 3rd World" then the US won that one hands-down.

Remember: your definition of "Victory" may be the polar opposite of the definition employed by those actually waging the war.

Regardless of how logical and rational YOUR definition may be, it's less than worthless if it happens to be different from the definition employed by those actually waging the war.

Here's an excerpt from a rather famous work, on just that subject . . .

by Osama Bin Laden and Ayman al Zarqawi

Winston began reading :

Chapter I. Ignorance is Strength. . . .

War, however, is no longer the desperate, annihilating struggle that it was in the early decades of the twentieth century. It is a warfare of limited aims between combatants who are unable to destroy one another, have no material cause for fighting and are not divided by any genuine ideological difference This is not to say that either the conduct of war, or the prevailing attitude towards it, has become less bloodthirsty or more chivalrous . . .

But in a physical sense war involves very small numbers of people, mostly highly-trained specialists, and causes comparatively few casualties. The fighting, when there is any, takes place on the vague frontiers whose whereabouts the average man can only guess at, or round the Floating Fortresses which guard strategic spots on the sea lanes . . . .

The primary aim of modern warfare (in accordance with the principles of doublethink, this aim is simultaneously recognized and not recognized by the directing brains of the Inner Party) is to use up the products of the machine without raising the general standard of living. Ever since the end of the nineteenth century, the problem of what to do with the surplus of consumption goods has been latent in industrial society. . .

In the early twentieth century, the vision of a future society unbelievably rich, leisured, orderly, and efficient - a glittering antiseptic world of glass and steel and snow-white concrete - was part of the consciousness of nearly every literate person. Science and technology were developing at a prodigious speed, and it seemed natural to assume that they would go on developing. This failed to happen, . . .

From the moment when the machine first made its appearance it was clear to all thinking people that the need for human drudgery, and therefore to a great extent for human inequality, had disappeared. If the machine were used deliberately for that end, hunger, overwork, dirt, illiteracy, and disease could be eliminated within a few generations. . . .

In a world in which everyone worked short hours, had enough to eat, lived in a house with a bathroom and a refrigerator, and possessed a motor-car or even an aeroplane, the most obvious and perhaps the most important form of inequality would already have disappeared. If it once became general, wealth would confer no distinction. It was possible, no doubt, to imagine a society in which wealth, in the sense of personal possessions and luxuries, should be evenly distributed, while power remained in the hands of a small privileged caste. But in practice such a society could not long remain stable. For if leisure and security were enjoyed by all alike, the great mass of human beings who are normally stupefied by poverty would become literate and would learn to think for themselves ; and when once they had done this, they would sooner or later realize that the privileged minority had no function, and they would sweep it away.

Posted by: SF | Oct 20 2012 23:03 utc | 11

@claudio -- "anyways, I wouldn't write off Karzai;"

Karzai has to leave office 2014. There will be elections, and since he has served two terms according to the constitution he can't run. So write him off. He's a lame duck. Civil war is probable, with Russia India and Iran gaining influence as the US draws down.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Oct 20 2012 23:23 utc | 12

"The Americans are not here to tell people they can't grow poppies." But they were there to tell Bolivians they could not grow coca...until Bolivians kicked the American puppet regime out in free and fair elections.

So in Latin America, the US is vigorously pursuing a War on Drugs that has killed around 50,000 Mexicans and is destroying Honduras.

But the Americans are coddling Afghans who grow poppies! Give me a break!!!

There must be more (a lot more) to this story. (Others have said what it likely is, so I don't need to have that explained...)

Posted by: JohnH | Oct 21 2012 0:02 utc | 13


Posted by: Don Bacon | Oct 21 2012 0:17 utc | 14

Gian Gentile is a thoughtful and influential writer on COIN.
COIN is Dead: U.S. Army Must Put Strategy Over Tactics

Posted by: Don Bacon | Oct 21 2012 0:24 utc | 15

"So in Latin America, the US is vigorously pursuing a War on Drugs that has killed around 50,000 Mexicans and is destroying Honduras."

It's only "pursuing a war on drugs" against people that might be considered "competition", while working hand-in-hand with Drug producers tha it considers it's "allies"

The US trained the Mex Death Squads

Apr 25 2012, 4 Tons Of CIA Coke crash-lands in Mexico-

Seventeen months after an American-registered DC9 airliner was busted with 5.5 tons of cocaine, a major international scandal is brewing over a second drug trafficking incident in Mexico’s Yucatan involving an American-registered jet owned by a dummy front company of the kind usually associated with the CIA.

A weekend visit to “Donna Blue Aircraft Inc” of Coconut Beach FL., the company which FAA records show owned the Gulfstream II business jet (N987SA) which crash-landed with 3.7 tons of cocaine aboard in Mexico’s Yucatan two weeks ago, has revealed that the company’s listed address is an empty office suite with a blank sign out front.

There was no sign of Donna Blue Aircraft, Inc., at the address listed at the Florida Dept. of Corporations, 4811 Lyons Technology Parkway #8 in Coconut Beach FL. …….

However, there were, oddly enough, a half-dozen unmarked police cars parked directly in front of the empty suite.

It seems that one of the planes logged on this list of “CIA Prison Planes” has been in a little accident – It crash landed in Mexico after running out of Jet fuel en route to the US. The authorities were more than a little surprised when they found four tons, yes you heard me right, four tons of cocaine on board.

The men flying the plane have disappeared – including one woman, the CIA refuses to comment, and the mainstream press don’t want to touch the story

Posted by: SF | Oct 21 2012 0:42 utc | 16

@ claudio #

Q: did you mean to say that modern literate citizens love to be directed from from far-away bureaucrats? Where you thinking of Europeans under the EU? :-)

R: Do you love your free speech zone or have you been flying lately? Come on, go out there and do your democratic thing. I'll give you a couple of minutes b4 you'll be tasered, pepper-sprayed, harassed, arrested or [worst case scenario]shot.

I like Paul Craig Roberts' opinion @

Posted by: Daniel Rich | Oct 21 2012 1:01 utc | 17

Nagl's name invites comparison with the word finagle, given his reputation for being careless with, and embarrassingly incurious about, the truth.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Oct 21 2012 1:51 utc | 18

NYTimes, Oct 27, 2009
Brother of Afghan Leader Said to Be Paid by C.I.A.

KABUL, Afghanistan — Ahmed Wali Karzai, the [half-]brother of the Afghan president and a suspected player in the country’s booming illegal opium trade, gets regular payments from the Central Intelligence Agency, and has for much of the past eight years, according to current and former American officials.

The agency pays Mr. Karzai for a variety of services, including helping to recruit an Afghan paramilitary force that operates at the C.I.A.’s direction in and around the southern city of Kandahar, Mr. Karzai’s home.

The financial ties and close working relationship between the intelligence agency and Mr. Karzai raise significant questions about America’s war strategy, which is currently under review at the White House.

Ahmed Wali Karzai was assassinated July 12, 2011, in Kandahar.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Oct 21 2012 2:06 utc | 19

#11 so if according to Goldstein the aim was to dispense with surplus wealth as to limit the quality of life for all but the high inner party members, but there are adequate resources to maintain a quality existence for all, then it would seem the iniquitous system was a psychic need of the elite rather than a mechanism to keep the proletariat from revolting? If all could be materially and spiritually satisfied then why would the populace feel the need to revolt? It would go to O'brian's explanation to Winston that there is no ideology in operation, only the will to absolute domination. The boot stamping on the human face in perpetuity.

Posted by: demize! | Oct 21 2012 2:14 utc | 20

The wonderful Kelley Vlahos took John Nagl apart recently.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Oct 21 2012 2:14 utc | 21


Yes - as the book-within-a-book says: ". . . . in the long run, a hierarchical society was only possible on a basis of poverty and ignorance".

Given that large-scale, mechanised production could not be eliminated once invented, the various Gov'ts arrange the periodic destruction of any surplus.

One can see that happening right now with the bailouts for banks using any existent surplus plus destroying the hope of future surplus by heavily borrowing to finance current bank bailouts and current wars.

The lives of the children of the future have already been heavily mortgaged.

Hence perpetual war (the US has been at war, somewhere in the world, almost every day since the end of WW2)

. . . is always so planned as to eat up any surplus that might exist after meeting the bare needs of the population . . . It is a deliberate policy to keep even the favoured groups somewhere near the brink of hardship, because a general state of scarcity increases the importance of small privileges and thus magnifies the distinction between one group and another.

It is only viewing through such a lens that the current wars and the current economic crisis makes any sense.

No other theory that I know of even comes close to explaining recent actions of the Military Industrial Complex - certainly no theory that relies on an acceptance of the notion that the US is at war with "Radical Islamists" because of the supposed "threat" they pose

Posted by: SF | Oct 21 2012 2:46 utc | 22

"The financial ties and close working relationship between the intelligence agency and Mr. Karzai raise significant questions about America’s war strategy"

only if one is actually stupid enough to actually believe anything that comes out of Washington and the MSM.

Posted by: SF | Oct 21 2012 2:49 utc | 23

"Then again no sane lobbyist would argue, like Nagl, for an open ended war because lobbyists know that the U.S. tax payer will not agree with such."

I have seen no evidence of the U.S. taxpayer complaining about paying for wars (except for a very small circle of anti-war people). I wish I had.

Posted by: Linda J | Oct 21 2012 3:54 utc | 24

Americans don't complain about paying for wars because they're not paying for them. War cost is only a fraction of US over-spending. Current US deficits average about three billion dollars DAILY and Afghanistan war cost is only ten percent of that.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Oct 21 2012 4:34 utc | 25

In other words the US now borrows monthly about what the entire Vietnam War cost (in current dollars for each). Bush: Go shopping!

Posted by: Don Bacon | Oct 21 2012 5:08 utc | 26

John A. Nagl's bs has one very socially useful purpose. At the height of the Iraq war I found it so painful to listen to the wives and family members telling the assembled press, during the funerals of their fallen family members, that they died to protect America. It was not possible, for me anyway, to say that they died in vain. We all know that the wars they fought in could not be "won" and their sacrifice were wasted. In order for the US to withdraw from these foolish wars it is probably necessary to convince the American people that we were victorious. Nagl is serving that role -- he will allow many Americans to believe that their loved ones did not die in vain.

To this day many of the American family members who lost sons, brothers and relatives in Vietnam live with the belief that their losses protected the US from foreign invasion. If Nagl helps today's families to accept their losses and end another war then maybe he is serving a useful purpose.

Posted by: ToivoS | Oct 21 2012 7:50 utc | 27

"Americans don't complain about paying for wars because they're not paying for them. War cost is only a fraction of US over-spending."

according to the US Gov't Defense spending is at a minimum 20% of the Budget.

However according to this site: defense spending is at least 50% of the US budget.

The discrepancy between the two estimates is explained thusly:

" . . .[US Gov't figures] include Trust Funds (e.g., Social Security), and the expenses of past military spending are not distinguished from nonmilitary spending . . . . . Analysts differ on how much of the debt stems from the military; other groups estimate 50% to 60%.

We use 80% because we believe if there had been no military spending most (if not all) of the national debt would have been eliminated.

Posted by: SF | Oct 21 2012 13:25 utc | 28

the above figures/estimates are for 2009 - and may not include a lot of the Banking Bailouts.

So combine Banking Bailouts (collectivism) and "Defense" spending and you have probably accounted for the majority of US Gov't debt/expenditure

Posted by: SF | Oct 21 2012 13:30 utc | 29

@ ToivoS
John A. Nagl's bs serves no socially useful purpose. Quite the opposite. So the false idea that people in the service of the country are dying to keep us safe must be challenged. One must be careful how and when to do it, is all. Such precautions aren't needed with chickenhawks like Nagl. There are many anti-war veterans -- it's okay.

The problem with people like Nagl is that they have no empathy for people in lands under a brutal military occupation. It's a sort of non-humanity driven by American Exceptionalism. This non-humanity extends to the immature teenage males who are enlisted, attracted by false promises and bright ribbons. But at the end, for many, is not any of the touted security benefits but mutilation and death by others or even by oneself.

Dulce et Decorum Est
final lines

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est

Pro patria mori. == Wilfred Owen
8 October 1917 - March, 1918

Dulce et Decorum est Pro patria mori.
It is sweet and right to die for your country.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Oct 21 2012 14:31 utc | 30

@Don Bacon #12 - if Karzai has no future in Afghanistan, then the SOFA is a done deal, they are just fixing or hiding the details; why should he displease the Us?

Posted by: claudio | Oct 21 2012 17:53 utc | 31

The US-Afghan Strategic Partnership Agreement, like the previous ones done by Bush with Iraq, was done by the president in secret without any debate, as another exercise in executive privilege. Senate approval of treaties according to the constitution is apparently obsolete.

The Agreement is general and non-specific with flowery language such as "protecting and promoting shared democratic values." Then it goes into "advancing long-term security" which include negotiating a Bilateral Security Agreement which would supersede a 2003 agreement. For the past ten years, military relations between the United States and Afghanistan have been governed by a two-page "diplomatic note" giving U.S. forces virtual carte blanche to conduct operations as they see fit.

The Agreement states that "The conduct of ongoing military operations shall continue . . .until supreseded by [a new agreement.]" The Agreement has provisions for continued financial and military support and "It shall remain in force until the end of 2024."

This last part is unpopular.

CSMonitor, May 8, 2012
Majority of Americans reject new US-Afghan security pact: poll

By a margin of 63 percent disapproval to 33 percent approval, respondents rejected a description of the deal that will include a US troop presence and billions of dollars in monetary support for Afghan forces in the decade after 2014, according to a Monitor/TIPP poll conducted April 27 to May 4.

So there may or may not be a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) as b describes above. The US never stations troops in a country without a SOFA which protects their legal rights, so if there is no SOFA -- after some point which hasn't been determined but presumably is Dec 2014 -- all US troops would leave Afghanistan.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Oct 21 2012 18:49 utc | 32

"If Karzai has no future in Afghanistan, then the SOFA is a done deal"



You may be right, but on what do you base this presumption?

Posted by: SF | Oct 21 2012 20:07 utc | 33

Col.Lang has a post up about this book.

Posted by: par4 | Oct 21 2012 20:09 utc | 34

@27 personally I don't give A shit how deluded jingos feel about their "sacrifice" if your teleology is so distorted than A bit of reality might be healthy. You vacillate between liberal idiocy and Trotskyism, why don't you pollute one website at a time with your dispicable nonsense. Stay at Mondoweiss and continue to lead your disgraceful purge.

Posted by: demize! | Oct 21 2012 22:00 utc | 35


Mondoweiss - home of the absolute WORST set of "friends of the Palestinians" . . . evar!

Posted by: FtJ | Oct 21 2012 22:04 utc | 36

@SF #33 - my reasoning is that if Karzai's future lays outside Aghanistan, then he will give the Us what they want in exchange for a rosy future elsewhere; if he wants to continue to play politics in Aghanistan then he must deal directly with the Talibani, build an internal consensus, and a SOFA will be out of the question

my impression is that he is playing for the second hypothesis

Posted by: claudio | Oct 21 2012 22:17 utc | 37


I'll give you a different variable set.

On the SOFA and Karzai, the question depends upon how Karzai calculates his authority and how he then calculates his personal survival. If he takes the SOFA as his personal prerogative to negotiate, as the US presidents do, then he must consider that a SOFA would be unpopular with the Pakistan/Taliban bloc, who killed his father and brother, and also with Iran. Russia, predominate in Central Asia, might like to see the US tied up in Afghanistan forever. (Payback is a bitch.)

If Karzai considers that the SOFA requires approval of parliament, as he did with the SP Agreement, then it becomes more democratic -- unheard of in the U.S. -- and Karzai avoids direct blame, but parliament might not like it.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Oct 21 2012 23:15 utc | 38

Don Bacon - point taken; at the end, the fact remains that there is a fierce clash between the Us, determined to stay in Afghanistan in the long run at all costs (read the links in this article by M K Bhadrakumar), and the Afghanis that want them out; the space for maneuvering for "friendly" politicians is very thin;

I'll bet that both Karzai and the Us will remain in Afghanistan after 2014 without a SOFA, and will do so until the Pashtun will force them out, certainly the Us, maybe Karzai too

Posted by: claudio | Oct 22 2012 0:15 utc | 39

I don't get people's reverence for M K Bhadrakumar - never read anything of any real interest from the man.

for example this whole TAPI thing he's spinning - it's nonsense, it's the same crap that for 10 years the so-called "alternative" press have been saying: that the Afghan invasion was all about pipelines.

As far as I can see that is complete BS. You don't invade a country and spend billions thrashing the place just to ensure the success of ONE measly pipeline project (or even 2 for that matter), especially one that no-one outside of M K Bhadrakumar appears to have any real interest in.

In fact he even contradicts himself, stupidly negating his whole bullshit theory in the process, when he states "This should enhance investor confidence in the TAPI. The security factor has been overplayed. The Taliban were the original sponsors of the TAPI."

Seriously Claudio - that article is a bucket full of hogwash - MK hasn't got a clue

Posted by: SF | Oct 22 2012 0:43 utc | 40

Google: War costs


Afghan War Costs ‘Higher’ Than Iraq

Press TV 13 May 2010
Region: Asia
Theme: US NATO War Agenda
In-depth Report: AFGHANISTAN

A recently released Pentagon spending report indicates that the monthly cost of the US war in Afghanistan has topped the costs in Iraq for the first time since 2003.

According to the report, the cost of war in Afghanistan for February stood at 6.7 billion dollars. The figure is almost 20 percent higher compared against the 5.5 billion dollars spent in Iraq.

It is estimated that the Afghan war will cost nearly 105-billion dollars in the 2010 fiscal year. The figure is expected to rise in 2011 as costs per service member in Afghanistan are almost twice as expensive as they are in Iraq.

The US has about 87,000 troops involved in the Afghan war. With more deployments on the way, the number is expected to reach over 100,000 by next year.

The combined costs for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have surpassed one-trillion dollars.

The 130,000-strong foreign presence in the country has so far failed to stabilize Afghanistan. The 2001 US-led invasion of Afghanistan, involving forces mostly from NATO countries, has so far failed to bring security to the country.

This is while anti-US sentiments are on the rise in the country with Afghans and regional countries condemning US-led operations which claim the lives of civilians on a daily basis.


Figures quoted are just the declared on-the-books figures - these figures only relate to direct military-related spending and then only some of it. If one includes the Black-budget the true figure is likely far, far higher.

Not only that, - the true cost is far higher than even that if one includes the knock-on long-term detrimental effect on the US and world economy of so much resources being used in such an destructive fashion.


No one does that for crappy little TAPI-pipelines

Posted by: SF | Oct 22 2012 0:58 utc | 41

TAPI, and Afghanistan, are just components of US foreign policy in central Asia with its New Silk Road Strategy designed to eclipse Russia hegemony there (good luck on that). That strategy applies to all the countries in central Asia, from Afghanistan right up to Kazakhstan, on Russia's border.

World leadership demands no less.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Oct 22 2012 1:19 utc | 42

Regarding war costs, think of them not as costs but rather in terms of the profits being made. The warmongers do.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Oct 22 2012 1:21 utc | 43

yes don - but MK and claudio are claiming that TAPI (which doesn't even exist) is the reason that the US is in Afghanistan.

It clearly is not the reason - that's all I'm pointing out

I get that a large US military force plonking itself slap bang in the middle of the region is considered beneficial by the psychopaths that run the US gov't.

I'm just pointing out that TAPI is nothing but a bullshit excuse that various people have used for the past 10 years to "explain" it all


"Regarding war costs, think of them not as costs but rather in terms of the profits being made. The warmongers do."

I find it more useful to think of it as US national wealth being deliberately squandered in order to further the cause of Oligarchical Collectivism - you can call that "making profits for warmongers" and you wouldn't necessarily be wrong, but it's only half the story imho

Posted by: SF | Oct 22 2012 1:40 utc | 44

The Warmongers are the Oligarchs, the risk is collectivised, the wealth of nations is privatised, and consequently the citizenry disenfranchised

you see the end-game as being the privatisation of the nations wealth (profits!!), I see the end-game as being the disenfranchisement of the citizenry through the squandering of their national wealth (slavery!)

Posted by: SF | Oct 22 2012 1:46 utc | 45

You've got it. The two are not mutually exclusive. I was simplifying. But our turn is coming! Election Day! /s

Posted by: Don Bacon | Oct 22 2012 2:09 utc | 46

yippee . . Elections!!!!!!

it's so cool to be free and to freely choose to freely vote for any Jewish-financed AIPAC-approved psychopath of your choosing.

We Westerners just love teh freedom!!!!!

I bet them damn un-free chinese, Russian and Iranian plebs are green with envy

Posted by: FtJ | Oct 22 2012 3:06 utc | 47

When did this stop being about encircling Iran?

Posted by: Monolycus | Oct 22 2012 3:42 utc | 48

KABUL, Oct 21 - President Hamid Karzai has warned there might be no immunity from prosecution for foreign troops after 2014 if the insecurity in Afghanistan does not come to an end and the country's borders are not properly protected.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Oct 22 2012 4:20 utc | 49

@SF -

MK and claudio are claiming that TAPI (which doesn't even exist) is the reason that the US is in Afghanistan.
I said: "read the links in this article by M K Bhadrakumar", where he says that a "consensus is emerging that the US simply can not walk out leaving behind all those vast mineral resources of Central Asia";

my point is that the Us won't simply leave Afghanistan as it did with Iraq, if local authorities won't sign a SOFA

as for the specific reasons, in this instance I agree generally with all those provided by you, Don Bacon, Monolycus, and many others; they are all true ... I don't believe rational geopolitical strategies are behind modern colonialism (last 150 years)

but nonetheless I consider Bhadrakumar's analysis generally of high quality

Posted by: claudio | Oct 22 2012 6:41 utc | 50

Don DeBar shared a link.
11 hours ago
This is a detailed discussion of the real, on-the-ground situation in Syria and the machinations going on in and around that country which is the current target of imperial aggression. It features the following:
Ramsey Clark, Former US Attorney General
Counsellor Dr. Mazen Adi and Mr. Asaad Ibrahim, Permanent Mission of the Syrian Arab Republic to the United Nations
Lizzie Phelan, Independent Journalist and broadcaster who has reported from both Libya and Syria during the wars there
Larry Hales, International Action Center

Ardeshir Ommani, American Iranian Friendship Committee (AIFC)
Nellie Bailey, Occupy Harlem
A number of others from groups such as the Vietnam Veterans Against the War also participated, and a Question and Answer discussion period followed the speakers.

Posted by: brian | Oct 22 2012 6:57 utc | 51

A bit off topic..

There's demonstrations last weekend in London against austerity and economic hardship facing the British populace. I watched it on tv and just shook my head, just wondering how stupid these people are.

You see, these same people out there protesting have themselves been wilful/"un-wilful" accomplices to their own economic demise. They always seem to support their government's involvements in endless wars abroad and their elected representatives never oppose any motion that supports these wars in their parliament.

I think it'll take time but eventually, the people will make the connection between their government's financing/support of brutal wars abroad and their economic hardship.

The British government just "donated" several million pounds to the Syrian rebels..This is coming at a time when the very same government is cutting back on a lot of social spending. And the people remain silent.

The worst is yet to come but it will surely come...

Posted by: Zico | Oct 22 2012 7:16 utc | 52

Trade union movements are complex beasts. A well functioning empire can provide very good jobs ...

Posted by: somebody | Oct 22 2012 7:58 utc | 53

@ Don Bacon #14

Q: C.I.A.

R: When you spin it backward it says 'Coke In America.'

Posted by: Daniel Rich | Oct 22 2012 10:50 utc | 54

Mmmmmm-"Oligarchical Collectivism" Think I like that term. SF & Don Bacon,I like your drift. Socialism for the elites, Global plantation, for the serfs. Nice world plan.

Posted by: ben | Oct 22 2012 14:45 utc | 55

"I said: "read the links in this article by M K Bhadrakumar", where he says that a "consensus is emerging that the US simply can not walk out leaving behind all those vast mineral resources of Central Asia";

I not only read the MK article - I also checked out all the links.

You quoted MK above, beginning "a consensus has emerged . . ." - that section is actually linked in MK's original article to a story on a statement by Romney expressing " criticism of President Obama's planned 2014 "transition" of troops out of Afghanistan".

That's it

That apparently is the "consensus" which MK is referring to.

I'm left wondering if you actually read it yourself?

The "consensus", MK refers to is in fact nothing but some words put out by Romney, criticising Obama. To describe that as "a consensus" would involve completely re-defining the meaning of the term "consensus"

Like I said, the MK's article is nonsense.

"my point is that the Us won't simply leave Afghanistan as it did with Iraq, if local authorities won't sign a SOFA"

I happen to suspect that you may be right on that point - but not for the reasons MK has referred to.

"but nonetheless I consider Bhadrakumar's analysis generally of high quality"

on this we'll have to disagree - any author that tries to spin a Romney statement criticising Obama, as "an [emerging] consensus" is stretching, to breaking-point, the bounds of credibility

Posted by: SF | Oct 22 2012 15:20 utc | 56

@SF #11

You ended your quotation from Orwell one sentence too soon:

"In the long run, a hierarchical society was only possible on a basis of poverty and ignorance."
Consider the Establishment's frantic attempts to roll back our social and political systems a hundred years, or more.

Posted by: curdie | Oct 22 2012 18:08 utc | 57


see #22

Posted by: SF | Oct 23 2012 0:24 utc | 58

Exxon yet to inspect Afghanistan's biggest oil project - minister

"Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM.N), the world's biggest non-state oil company, has not yet accepted an offer to look over a new Afghan oil concession in the country's north, possibly indicating a fading appetite to invest in the conflict-wracked country.

As Afghanistan's government finalises new laws designed to attract more foreign mining investment, Mining Minister Wahidullah Shahrani told Reuters that Exxon had not turned up for a site tour which closes on Sunday, despite being shortlisted with eight other firms for the Afghan Tajik tender near Mazar-e-Sharif.

"Hopefully at some point they (Exxon) will visit the area. But that visit is not mandatory," Shahrani said in an interview late on Saturday in his Kabul office. A spokeswoman for U.S.-based Exxon said she could not immediately comment.

Posted by: SF | Oct 23 2012 2:21 utc | 59

Posted by: Don Bacon | Oct 20, 2012 5:59:41 PM | 7

yes the war on drugs is as much a BIG LIE as the war on else can the US regime justify its using US taxpayers money to increase its brutal war machine....the notion that the peasants are happy the US is helping them protect their crop reads like fiction.

Posted by: brian | Oct 23 2012 20:50 utc | 60

Maren Cronsnest 23 October 08:25
Via Николай Сологубовский, via Ahmet Moh
Urgent message addressed to the Office of the Attorney General of the International Criminal Court:
After greeting:
About the events currently circulating in Bani Walid, which is no secret to you it is the under the so-called legitimacy of the state. The Libyan state has issued Resolution No. 7-2012 issued by the National Congress, which calls for the use of force in order to reach the groups belo
nging to the former regime are in Bani Walid. It is no secret to you that the international criminal law does not permit the killing of innocent civilians in large numbers and randomly even if the goal is to reach the very legitimate - the arrest of groups of the former regime - to impose its presence there.
But what we are facing now is the issue of the use of weapons are inherently indiscriminate destructive force lacks precision and that can limit the damage among civilians. Does international criminal law permits the use of indiscriminate weapons in security operations within the state. The Rome Statute is the use of such types of weapons presumption intention of the perpetrator to commit war crimes and crimes against humanity. As provided for in the articles (seventh and eighth) of the Rome Statute.
I saw the city of Bani Walid used for weapons are inherently indiscriminate destructive force as weapons (Grad) and defender Alhauser this news except for using poisonous gas. The use of such weapons put in front of international justice conclusive presumption that the intention of the perpetrators is the intention of committing crimes against humanity and genocide against a particular ethnic group targeted as such (the residents of the city of Bani Walid tribe and Rafla).
What is happening in Bani Walid may amount to genocide of the population of this city as a result of the political positions of some of them. As Article II of the Rome Statute (For the purpose of this statute means "genocide" means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy a national, ethnic, racial or religious group as such holocaust in whole or in part ...)
What is happening in Libya now is targeting to members of the tribe and Rafla as individuals to this tribe The city of Bani Walid are that the population return to the same origin of the tribe and Rafla. As in Rwanda, where the Court considered targeting individuals because of their tribal affiliation genocide must also Aadaltkm, consider that that is what happened to exterminate partial to members of the tribe who are in Bani Walid specifically.
Regarding images of genocide as an international crime in accordance with the Rome Statute, it has been realized in three pictures for sure. The forces loyal to the government of committing:
(... A - Killing members of the group,
B. Causing serious bodily and mental harm to members of the group ...) and through the use of these weapons without distinction. It has also committed (c - deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part ..) and by subjecting the city to crippling blockade which led to the interruption of basic materials, water and electricity for the city's population in general.
Though what is happening in Bani Walid not you see a crime of genocide is tantamount including Aida doubt to the level of crimes against humanity. The bombing of civilians in this way criminals in accordance with Article VI of the Charter. Frckn methodology available to pursue the Government of random methods declared on television shows on the availability of conclusive presumption of intent to target civilians as such. Article VII of the statute states in its first paragraph to (1 - for the purpose of this Statute, means any of the following acts "crime against humanity" when committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack .. .)
He knew the Libyan authorities and its intention to target civilians appear clear and especially that the Libyan authorities represented by the National Congress General has issued a decision to implement this process is Resolution No. 7-2012 which was implemented under the command of General Staff of the Army of Libya and which used armed militias are not eligible for the respect of international conventions and international regulations in regard to the protection of civilians.
The issuance of the Libyan authorities for this decision demonstrates her knowledge of the process. The mandate of the group is eligible to the implementation of this decision suggests the presumption will achieve these results criminal. It confirms for yourselves availability of this intention that the Libyan authorities are supplied by these pro-army militias these indiscriminate weapons of nature with the availability of other alternatives that are less harmful such as light weapons.
As for the pictures of crimes against humanity and one of which achieved crime fully achieved its elements are crimes:
(... A. Murder
B. Genocide
D. Imprisonment or other severe deprivation in any other manner of physical liberty in violation of fundamental rules of international law.
And. Torture.
E. Forced Disappearance of Persons.)
Therefore, we as defenders of justice and the rule of law ask yourselves open an investigation real in these incidents include all happened in this period, as is well known to you, the Security Council referred the Libyan case the whole to justice the ICC under Resolution No. 1970 -2011, and This was to be not for the international community's trust you as the representative of international justice in general. It is no secret to you that the human rights organizations (such as Amnesty International - Human Rights Watch) have warned many times to the presence of serious violations shameful occur inside Libya by the victorious party in the events that followed the demonstrations of February 17, 2011. Will stand justice of the International Criminal Court with the winning side only and close your eyes for the violations committed by this government unforgiving people, or whether they will stick to what it has been established, the Court, namely careful not to impunity for the perpetrators to justice, whether they with Oddha government.
Thank you
Editor message:
A. Fathi Akila
Lawyer and former assistant lecturer criminal department at the Faculty of Law - University of Benghazi.

Posted by: brian | Oct 24 2012 10:18 utc | 61


The men flying the plane have disappeared – including one woman, the CIA refuses to comment, and the mainstream press don’t want to touch the story

The CIA have long had deep cover inside the press, but in addition to that is the game of 'respectability' that is played by the big-name journos who will not risk their access to ask embarrassing questions.

The CIA tell a reporter on the New York Times that they were running some kind of sting operation having national security implications, what is that reporter going to do? Shut up, that's what.

Posted by: ScuzzaMan | Oct 24 2012 14:08 utc | 62

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