Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
January 03, 2014

Hopeless For O'Hanlon

War forever promoter Michael O'Hanlon pens another OpEd for the neoconned Washington Post opinion page: Hope For Afghanistan. He suggests that recent pessimistic intelligence estimates about Afghanistan are wrong:

The case for hopefulness on Afghanistan is built largely on what were probably its three most notable developments of 2013 ...

O'Hanlon's track record of predictions about the war on Afghanistan (and on Iraq) is not supporting his case. "Hope" does not win wars. "Hope" does not successfully occupy. Still "hope" is the only thing O'Hanlon ever seems to have to promote further losses in already lost wars.

A casual and incomplete search for "O'Hanlon" "Hope" "Afghanistan" finds the following entries:, November 17 2009: Michael O'Hanlon: A blue line of hope in Afghanistan

LA Times, December 27 2009: A year of war -- and progress

The question is whether it will be too little too late, but there is reason for hope.

Washington Post, June 26 2010: Reasons to be hopeful about U.S. strategy in Afghanistan

Politico, September 28 2010: New reasons for hope in Afghanistan

NYT, May 20 2011: Finally, a Fighting Force

But there is reason to be hopeful. ...

CNN, March 16 2012: O'Hanlon: 7 reasons for hope in Afghanistan

Here are some highlights of the more hopeful indicators in Afghanistan: ...

CNN, May 2 2012: O'Hanlon: Reasons for hope on Afghanistan

Washington Times, June 1 2012: O’HANLON: Rays of hope in Afghanistan

Several hopeful things I saw on a recent trip ...

Politico, March 21 2013: Kandahar and hope

Now, Kandahar gives hope to the war effort. ...

One wonders why the above media feel that they still have to promote the nonsense of such a hopelessly delusional idiot?

Posted by b on January 3, 2014 at 16:10 UTC | Permalink


You've long called for the defeat of groups fighting against Assad for being al-Qaeda affiliated and hardline Islamic fundamentalist. How come then are you supportive of victory for the Taliban, which are comparably fundamentalist and have been allied with al-Qaeda, and the Saudis, in the past?

Posted by: Inkan1969 | Jan 3 2014 16:27 utc | 1

Laughing at @1 al Qaeda or Taliban... is that like Democrat or Republican?

Choose neither.

Posted by: Eureka Springs | Jan 3 2014 16:44 utc | 2


But b does seem to choose the Taliban.

Posted by: Inkan1969 | Jan 3 2014 16:48 utc | 3

Hoffnung for a good 2014 b.

Posted by: cloned_poster | Jan 3 2014 16:50 utc | 4

Inky, you may have confused b with a diode or George W "you're with us or against us" Bush.
I'm pretty confident he's much closer to a normal human being with a functional brain though ^^

Posted by: zingaro | Jan 3 2014 17:13 utc | 5

The world is full of folks getting paid to tell us that water isn't wet. Our corporate overlords need us to stay in Afghanistan, pick a reason. Such complete horseshit.

Posted by: ben | Jan 3 2014 17:23 utc | 6

One wonders why the above media feel that they still have to promote the nonsense of such a hopelessly delusional idiot?

Let me guess:

Because in a hopelessly delusional state of hopelessly delusional idiots the promotion of hopelessly delusional idiocies is what sells.
Partly, of course, too, because that, hopelessly delusional idiocy by hopelessly delusional idiots, is what the hopelessly delusional idiots are used to.

Posted by: Mr. Pragma | Jan 3 2014 17:32 utc | 7

A parallel to the O'Hanlon's Panglossian view of Western power in Afghanistan is the never-ending blame leveled in the Western press against the Syrian government for de-stabilizing the Middle East with its dirty war. The obvious never leads these stories: who is funding all these Salafi groups flying the black flag of Al Qaeda? That's not allowed. American military planning and prowess are always celebrated, and the obvious is routinely ignored.

Posted by: Mike Maloney | Jan 3 2014 18:41 utc | 8

Mike Maloney @ "who is funding all these Salafi groups flying the black flag of Al Qaeda? The Saudis are funding all these sectarian terrorist groups in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon with a view to, as they say themselves, "cut the head off the snake, Iran" It will be interesting to see how the Saudis can wage war against all these powerful countries and yet remain immune from some kind of major blow back. The Saudis command a huge bribing capacity, but money will not save them when those countries under attack realize the Saudis are determined to destroy them all, and will not stop until they themselves are given a taste of their own medicine, the Saudis are a bunch of craven medieval cowards, who would run to its big stupid protector the US, at the first sniff of grape shot.

Posted by: harrylaw | Jan 3 2014 19:41 utc | 9

It's a waste of time, what's happening in Afghanistan. The position is lost. The parties will re-engage their politics as though the US had never been there.

I'd be open as to what changes have occurred over time. The Taliban, having lost in 2001, are now back. What else?

Posted by: alexno | Jan 3 2014 21:35 utc | 10

Hope®. It's like Mr. Hope Obama - now reduced to 'I am not a liar', 'I am not a murderer', 'I am not a war criminal', and 'I care for Americans'. The only time I see the NY Times or Washington Post any more is when someone refers me to a particularly outrageous article. And then ... often ... I don't bother.

Posted by: john francis lee | Jan 3 2014 22:49 utc | 11

Thank you b about this idiot it can't be said any better

Posted by: Kooshy | Jan 3 2014 23:35 utc | 12

It makes you wonder who the Washington Post thinks it is BS-ing. And how they think the perpetual BS will help their nefarious cause.

One would think that they could at the least trot out some ostensibly well qualified, unknown flunky to write such op-eds. Instead, they insist on destroying their credibility by trotting out famously discredited flunkies, like O'Hanlon.

Posted by: JohnH | Jan 3 2014 23:43 utc | 13

There's a delicious symmetry to Michael O'Hanlon and Barry O'Hopey Changey being on the same page.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Jan 4 2014 0:54 utc | 14

afghanistan before the USA/mujahadeen took over some good comments from people also reiminiscing

Posted by: brian | Jan 4 2014 1:11 utc | 15


You hopelessly conflated the Afghan issue, vilified the Taliban and completely missed b's point. Read Herold's "Afghanistan as an Empty (Resource) Space" or Torbay's "Diminution and Development", both are available free online and the best authentic view of the issues.

First of all, AQ is a creation of CIA during the First Afghan War, initiated by Zbigniew Brezinski during the same era the US overthrew the democratically elected government of Iran. The Soviet overthrow of Kabul was entirely predictable, as was the CIA gyning up a 'Northern Alliance', and ISSI-KSA gyning up a Wahhabist 'Taliban' in response.

So to state 'the Taliban ... have been allied with al-Qaeda, and the Saudis' is a complete inversion of the reality, and doesn't help the discourse. It's famous diversion of facts. Taliban are first of all hereditary Afghans, educated in Saudi Wahhabist-funded Pakistani madrassas as cannon fodder in the First Afghan War. They are SWORN ENEMIES of AQ and the Northern Alliance groups.

Taliban were largely routed by the Soviets because of the open unprotected southern Afghan countryside. Post- First Afghan War, Northern Alliance and AQ mercenaries fought over the spoils. Every mile of road had armed bandits demanded tolls, as we experienced on our mission, stopped by bandits with AK47s. NA warlords fought over Kabul. It was the Taliban who overcame both AQ and NA as a populist movement. Anything was better than unchronicled and violently brutal post-war period, similar to what we are seeing today in Iraq.

The Taliban settled Afghan society without imposing a totally alien centralized Federal government. They restored the village strong-men, mullahs, and water-men to authority.
They stopped poppy culture and did what no Western colonist has ever been able to achieve: they rebuilt the Afghan economy and political structure into a sustainable whole.

I met several Taliban on our mission in Kandahar. They are clear-eyed patriots, businessmen, and holy warriors against the Western-Neo-Liberal-Colonialism-of-All-Human-Life-Down-the-Meat-Grinder-of-a-Global-Mafia-Corporatocracy. Everyone here knows what I'm referring to. If not, watch "Argentina's Economic Collapse (Memoria Del Saqueo 2004)" on YouTube, for a preview of America 2016.

That's what I meant when I responded to brian about jihadists. Taliban have been demonized and conflated with the monstrous number of mercenaries that State-CIA-IL-KSA have created. Neither the Taliban, nor the Afghan People, had ANYTHING WHATSOEVER to do with Sep11, and they have EVERY INTERNATIONAL RIGHT to throw off their occupiers.

If not for Ken Lay - Enron's catastrophically failed India power plant project, where they desperately needed a TAPI pipeline through Afghanistan, a pipeline that the Taliban then refused to sell out their country for silver shekels for, we would still be DOING BUSINESS WITH THE TALIBAN TODAY instead of making resource war on the Afghan State.

It's an illegal colonial war, face it. And Karzai was and is a US puppet, bought and paid for, especially by Hillary-Milliband after his 2009 reselection, bribed with $5B stolen from US Humanitarian Aid fund, bribed for AF resources, which are world-class. To his credit, Karzai took the bribes, he took the Chinese bribes, he took the Indian bribes, then awarded ALL THE RESOURCES to China and India. America got NOTHING. Ha,ha. Who wants to be the last US soldier to die defending the foreign lease holds of Chindians. Cripes!

And now it's 'over', the headlines bray, although Karzai never signed the 'Get Out of Jail' document, and DoD never followed through with their plan to peremptorily 'pull out'.
The AF 2014 elections are up for grabs at this point, with more than a dozen candidates. A cynically sardonic point of view would be that PNAC co-founder slash State-CIA enabled Afghan-American dual-citizen Zalmay Khalilzhad will ascend the throne, then Afghanistan as a State will collapse into another 3W neo-colonial American resource extraction asset.

I can tell you through my AF contacts everyone in their 'intelligentsia' has already fled the country, and there will be no serious opposition to Khalilzhad, who nominated himself, if you can imagine the full effrontery to the Afghan People, and especially the Taliban, that an End of History US-citizen PNAC hegemonist self-selects as their King. Just .. wow.

So if you were a betting person, your best bet is that the Third Afghan War will be one of deepest deceit, a Colombian-style US hegemony, the Final Solution to eliminate any and all strong-men, mullahs, water-men, local or district authority figures, then simply crush the still smoldering rebellion with ANA-ANP killing and looting as Khalilzhad directs, while US predators circle overhead like vultures over the Corpse of the Damned, as the Globalist drag-shovels strip-mine 'The Garden of Central Asia' into a moonscape.

Don't ever denigrate Taliban. They have more sack in their little fingernail than any of us will ever have, as we roll over for WADC-NOVAs $15 TRILLION PERPETUAL INTEREST-ONLY DEBT FOREVER Slow Motion Apocalypse, while letting our wives become strippers and pole-dancers and crack whores, and our daughters disappear by the 10,000s every year, without a trace or care, in this every-man-for-himself 'Last Great Hope' Gog-Magog.

Now get to work, bitch.

Posted by: Chip Nihk | Jan 4 2014 1:35 utc | 16

Slightly off topic...
I blame Karl Rove and his crystal ball for a lot of the crap which misdirects us into the "all of you, being left to just examine what we do (next)" situation.
We really should be devoting more time to peeling away the onion of protection around the Axis of Evil which has the world's 1%'s cowardly vampires at its core. Imo, they must be getting 'unsettled' by what Putin is doing to Russia's 1% - and he probably knows more about who and where UK, France & America's 1% are than we do.
In theory, it should be just as easy to 'destabilise' the 1% as it has been for their minions to destabilise/wreck/destroy entire countries - not to mention making 'traditional' lifestyles in the West disappear without a trace.
Even self interest should be subject to strict legal limits.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Jan 4 2014 1:40 utc | 17

"One wonders why the above media feel that they still have to promote the nonsense of such a hopelessly delusional idiot?"

They wouldn't want to showcase a merely averagely delusional idiot, lest they find themselves hopelessly outclassed.

Posted by: guest77 | Jan 4 2014 3:24 utc | 18

This article is very similar in form to an amusing item I saw three days ago by Max Blumenthal, or the chinless wonder as I like to call him:

Now, as to the Taliban. I can't speak for bernhard, but I can offer some simple priorities, not for the first time. We are not here to bring heaven, or even peace, upon earth. we are hear to defeat the USraeli empire, which is plainly enough the nastiest thing ever conceived by men and/or wommin, nastier than Nazism and Stalinism rolled into one because incomparably subtler and more totalitarian in its ambitions. I shan't trot out comparative atrocity propaganda to prove my point; you can take it or leave it. So, the question is not, do the Taliban eat babies for breakfast? but, are they a US asset? Sad realism suggests that they would be a US asset if the option was open, as would Iran, Russia and China. There are few if any political entities that would not sell their souls to the US with great pleasure if the chance was offered, but fortunately for the rest of us, this is not enough for the US, which nowadays wants them not only abject but extinct. Does Pakistan serve the US? Does Iraq? Yes, they do, to the extent of being prepared to destroy themselves as viable states when told to do so, and they will do so. Bizarre but true. The political echelon will not stop the secret service echelon from destroying these states by means of continuous and omnipresent terror attacks on civilians, because this is what Washington wants. It's the old "better dead than red" thing. The US would rather see them all reduced to savagery than becoming Chinese assets. But the Taliban is too decentralised to be able to be destroyed upon the command of any one chief.

Posted by: Rowan Berkeley | Jan 4 2014 5:06 utc | 19

Sounds like O'Hanlon's high on Afghan (h)opium.

Posted by: saddiq | Jan 4 2014 5:34 utc | 20

$ 3 billion for Majid
What a deal

Posted by: loyal | Jan 4 2014 10:05 utc | 21

floggings begin on the dc mall at noon.

1st in line is bernardo the levy followed by cubicle warrior o'hanlon then wolfowitz the spitter.

the line is long and the worthies will bleed.

not to worry about the grass enviros. the mall pool will catch the blood to be recycled into bovine and porcine food stuff.

Posted by: joe anon 1 | Jan 4 2014 19:12 utc | 22

Agree, Rowan@19, few people realize that US is willing to destroy the world rather than give up their drive to world hegemony.

Posted by: okie farmer | Jan 4 2014 20:52 utc | 23

But who is the US?
I see very little evidence that this asylum is professionally staffed at the upper levels. Washington is full of factions fighting each other. Sure, everyone in the ruling class wants to rule the world, but there is nothing approaching unanimity as to how this can be done.
Since the Soviet Union was destroyed, the USA has been totally unable to adjust to a new role. Hegemony ought to have been close to automatic, but, instead of just cashing in on its "victory' the US went nuts.
One problem was the MIC, which simply refused to allow itself to be reduced in size and influence. That isn't surprising but it is surprising that among the leadership of the US nobody was able to put forward the case to scale back the ruinous "Defense" spending, buy goodwill internationally when it was cheap and obtainable and reassure the world that all those bases were not designed to dominate but really were for defending them against Communism.
Instead the wars were simply cranked up so that today, for no perceptible reason, the US is sponsoring wars (civil wars, AQ style jihads, pirate raids, as in Congo, coups, regime changes etc) in dozens of countries. Wherever peace breaks out the Empire or its catspaws step in. Anyone can make a list-there are wars everywhere, and everywhere else armed men, bombers and drones are lurking in the wings waiting for the tiniest excuse.

This is why, quite evidently, US influence in the world is shrinking rapidly. And the hegemony project becoming less and less realistic.

So long as the Soviet Union was there, the US had to act with the restraint of self discipline. If it didn't, if it lost sight of its real position, as it did in Indo-China and Africa (where Cuba beat the shit out of its best auxiliaries) it came a cropper.
Without any rival all focus was lost. The US still had immense power but, for the first time since MAD had come in, now it had no excuse for not using it. It had a clear field for its military and the result was that it was shown to be a paper tiger, with the paper being watermarked and cut up into $100 bills, by the skid load, shrink wrapped and sequentially numbered.
The US won wars but only because the enemy excused itself to fight another day. And the wars it won brought it nothing but debt and the blood debt of hatred and revenge postponed.
But nobody was allowed to say so: as the triumphs piled up- the Grenadan leaders killed, the Panamanian President jailed, the Sandinistas driven onto the opposition benches, for a few years, Saddam humbled then toppled, Ghaddafi, Milosevic etc etc murdered or otherwise killed- the media went wild about the Greatest Military Machine Ever, the Ever Victorious American Army, the irresistible force wielded by the greatest strategists in history, the Caesar-Bonapartes from West Point. Men like Petraeus and McChrystal.
But where was the hegemony?
Part of the problem was that it was so inevitable that US power would dominate forever that everyone in Washington wanted to use it for their own purposes. Most notably the zionists felt that it should be used to get them the Jordan Valley and anything else that looked tasty. The euro-fascists wanted to use it to expand NATO to the very borders of Russia, to complete the Cold War project of encircling the country with missile sites, bases and a renewed Gladio force armed to the teeth. Others wanted to use the power to surround China with bases in Afghanistan, for example, and The Philippines, Indonesia, Japan, Australia and even Vietnam. Then there were the “Africa is a pushover” mob.
There were and are dozens of pet projects: Somalia, looting the Congo (for Uganda and Rwanda), Yemen (for the Saudis), splitting the Sudan (for Israel and George Clooney) Colombia, Honduras, Venezuela. Perhaps Cuba. Bolivia certainly and Paraguay.
Everyone gets a wish and all wishes come true: you want war in Mexico, using gangsters armed by the DEA and trained at Fort Bragg? Sure, be Washington's guest. Have a ball! Who cares what the Mexicans think?
You want to push Honduran campesinos aside for Palm Oil plantations? Sounds like a plan. If you need drones call us and we'll see what we can do.
You've got a band leader who used to be a fan of Papa Doc who wants to introduce fascism to Haiti? Why not. Nothing simpler than to instruct the Election Commission to count him in. And when you need tear gas give us a call.
Smash Hezbollah? Why not? we're with you 100%.
Smash Hamas? If you want to, by all means do. And sell tickets if you like: here are the bombs.
The US might be ready to destroy the world to achieve hegemony, but it is incapable of it.
It can destroy the world, maybe, but hegemony isn't in the cards any longer.
It's the old story: given enough rope it hangs itself. Given the freedom to do just about anything it tries to do everything, all at once.
In the end the world will have to go one step further than telling opinion pollsters that it feels the US is the biggest threat to world peace, and do something about it. Money is no longer enough: as a matter of fact the money is no longer looking as solid as it once was, it may just be paper backed by a forked tongue.
The idea that elites everywhere are ready to sell out to the US no longer applies, because the US can no longer be trusted to deliver, because, and this is the bottom line, the US ruling class no longer inspires confidence. Washington is run by election obsessed losers who offer bribes so readily only because they are all, themselves, bought, paid for and, yet, always available to a higher bidder.

Hegemony sounds nice but Hedge Funds pay better. And they offer good jobs when a guy gets tired of politics and just wants to chill with a billion in the bank.

Posted by: bevin | Jan 4 2014 22:57 utc | 24

Great essay, bevin, as usual. You're right about the US losing respect and being considered by more and more folks as the greatest threat to world peace. However, the US with the greatest military machine in the history of the world has only blinked once in my lifetime (O not bombing Syria last fall) and I don't expect that 'example' will hold elsewhere on the planet. Indeed, as you point out, US is in more and more places by the day. The US has not even slightly considered giving up its military hegemony - as Madeline defined it, "What use is this great military if you don't use it?"

Your fine piece seems to me to support my contention that US will destroy any country as it seeks world hegemony, meaning US would rather leave failed states in its wake than do any of the reasonable things you list. That's how insane US foreign policy is, and I don't see any movement whatsoever among TPTB to change it.

Posted by: okie farmer | Jan 5 2014 16:29 utc | 25

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