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Posts Tagged ‘Afghanistan’

Recently, there has been much discussion of possible attacks on U.S. citizens by drones operated by the U.S. government. This became the “issue of the day” when Attorney General  Eric Holder told Congress that he would not rule out the use of drones to attack American citizens. This of course conjures up images straight out of films like War of the Worlds or Independence Day. Imagine unmanned space ships,or government drones, taking potshots at panicked and unsuspecting U.S. citizens. There would be no place for anyone to hide! And of course, that’s OK with Eric Holder, and presumably President Obama, for whom he works. The media of course loved it because it is a story sure to stir up emotions and then people will watch the television news or buy a newspaper and the sponsors and advertisers will capture a large audience and sell more product. It’s a great story and sure to sell as long as it remains in the minds of the public, which it is certain to do for at least a day two until they are distracted by something else, like maybe the resignation of the Pope, and then the media will have to find a way to turn that story into some sort of advertising or commercial success.

Meanwhile, I’m wondering. What about the drones? Will they be used against U.S. citizens in the future? I think the answer is this: No. There is a good reason for that – it doesn’t make sense. The principal advantage of a drone is that it doesn’t have a pilot, so it can fly into really dangerous skies and if it gets shot down by the enemy, there is no pilot to get killed. In the U.S. it is unlikely that criminals or others who are enemies of the state would be walking around with anti-aircraft weapons. So, the government can easily use a small piloted airplane or helicopter to watch people and launch missiles at them if they want to. However, it is more likely that airborne platforms would be used for surveillance and ground forces, like the FBI or State Police would be guided by the pilot to the location of the bad guys. That’s what happens now and it seems to work pretty well. It’s hard to see why a drone would be be any better.

The real thing people should be afraid of is not whether the government has the right to track down and apprehend criminals, either from the ground or the air, or whether the government has the right to shoot it out with a criminal. This happens all the time. There are even times when the government launches an attack that will likely kill a criminal when it is deemed too dangerous to try to capture the criminal alive. Just recall Bonnie and Clyde.

So, should we be afraid of the U.S. Government? You bet we should be. Should we be afraid of President Obama? You betcha there too. Why? Well, it’s not because of drones; its because of the law and the Constitution. Let me give you an example: the Iraq War. Let me give you another: The Afghanistan War. Let me give you another: Guantanamo. How about one more: locking up American citizens by the U.S. military on U.S. soil without a trial on order of the President. So what is wrong with these? They are all in violation of the U.S. Constitution. Only Congress can declare war according to the Constitution of the United States, yet Congress has not done so since World War II. Instead, Congress has sidestepped its responsibility and delegated authority to the various Presidents to do as they see fit whenever military action might be required.

Similarly, the indefinite imprisonment of people, whether they are U.S. citizens or not, without a trial is also a violation of the U.S. Constitution – something that the President and Congress seem quite comfortable with.

The recent uproar about the use of drones against American citizens is silly. It doesn’t even make tactical sense. If the government wants to come for you via the air, you can bet they will be using manned helicopters or maybe small spotter planes and a whole bunch of people on the ground. The drone thing is fiction. Unfortunately, the gradual dismantling of the Constitution by the current and several former Presidents, with the spineless acquiescence of Congress, is something we should all fear. Yet, the media never mention it at all. Could it be they are too afraid to bring the issue up?

Or is it just not the sort of news that will sell product?

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I never supported the Iraq war. I believe the entire affair was no more than a vendetta instigated by George Bush against Saddam  Hussein. Perhaps it was due to Saddam’s failed assassination attempt against George Bush Senior. Who knows? It certainly wasn’t about weapons of mass destruction. Nor was it about the “War on Terror”. Whatever the reason that Bush/Cheney had for it, they waged a war that caused the loss of many American soldier’s lives. Similarly, the war in Afghanistan is also questionable. After all, nearly all of the Al Qaeda terrorists who commandeered the aircraft on September 11th were from Saudi Arabia. One might think it would have made more sense to retaliate against Saudi Arabia – Osama bin Laden’s homeland. However, in the odd workings of the Bush/Cheney mind – the mind that condoned torture of prisoners, illegal wiretaps on American citizens, and the use of trials by military tribunals for people suspected of supporting terrorists, instead of using the U.S. justice system – America freely attacked two countries without cause. (It doesn’t make sense to say that America attacked Afghanistan because they had trained Osama bin Laden because it was America that had taught the Afghans these same tactics. In essence it was almost as if America had trained Osama bin Laden.

Once the wars began, George Bush/Cheney was anxious to hide the cost of war – American war dead from the American people. Thus the war dead were brought to Dover Air Force base in secret with no news coverage. The American people were not to know the human cost of the war – George Bush had learned that lesson from the Vietnam war. He knew that by managing the news the American people could be kept under control. He didn’t need any demonstrations in the streets.

There was, however, another problem for George Bush/Cheney.  What should be done with unidentified body parts of dead soldiers? For example, suppose a young Army volunteer soldier steps on a land mine and get blown into dozens of pieces? Or what about the soldiers who are flying to a battle and their helicopter crashes and they are burned beyond recognition? Or what should Bush/Cheney do about the soldier who takes a direct hit from a mortar shell and is split into three or four pieces? Should the military hold funerals for these people? It seems that Bush/Cheney decided that wasn’t necessary because by virtue of being dismembered these young men were no longer people – they were “medical waste”. Bush/Cheney apparently decided that the best thing to do with the remaining pieces of the young volunteer soldiers was to just throw them into the dump in Virginia.

So they did. The remains – i.e. arms, legs, fingers – whatever – were simply incinerated and literally dumped into a landfill, along with the garbage. That, apparently, is what hospitals do with “medical waste”, and it seems that is what America’s volunteer soldiers had become – medical waste. A sort of road kill – that’s all. And the government didn’t bother to tell the families of the soldiers what they had done. The complete lack of honor accorded to these soldiers by the U.S. government is horrific. The treating of war dead as garbage is reminiscent of the utter lack of humanity in the Nazi concentration camps. It smacks of the depravity of Pol Pot in Cambodia. It sends a clear message of a government that has lost its soul and humanity – it has simply become a heartless killing machine caring nothing for those on whom it drops its bombs and caring just as little for American soldiers who get shredded into pieces while fighting for…for…I wonder – just what are they fighting for?

So where is the outrage from President Obama? Where are the voices of Congress? Where is the American Legion? It was a news story for a day. OK, everyone. Let’s move on to the next thing. And so it goes in today’s America. No one is accountable. The desecration of the war dead is of little to no interest to the public. Life goes on. I wonder what’s at the movies this weekend…

Bring on the bread and circuses! Ave imperator! Moritori te salutant!

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There is a very old joke that goes something like this: a man is walking along the street at night when he sees another man on his hands and knees crawling around beneath a street light. He walks over and asks the man, “Did you lose something?”

“Yes,” the man replies, “I lost a quarter.”

“Oh. Well, just where did you lose it?” the first man asks.

“Over there,” the other man says, pointing down the street towards the darkness.

“Well then, why in the world are you looking here?” the first man asks.

The man on his hands and knees just looks up impatiently and replies, “Because there’s more light over here!”

Today, the U.S. military in Afghanistan is in the midst of a major battle. The target of the coalition (mostly U.S.) forces is the Taliban in Helmand province – a Taliban stronghold. The U.S. Marines are attacking with full force and driving the Taliban out of the cities and into the hinterlands of Afghanistan. The idea is that this will allow the Afghan government to exert more control over Helmand. It will also help destroy the opium crop, which is said to be a way the Taliban raise money.

I suppose it is easy to forget, in all the turmoil of war, that it wasn’t the Taliban who attacked the U.S. It was Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden.  At least that’s what the NSA says, based upon their communications intercepts that preceded the 9/11 attack.

Apparently the people of the Netherlands have come to the conclusion that this war with the Taliban doesn’t make a lot of sense. They are going home. Their sentiments are not much different from a lot of Europeans, and that has Secretary of Defense Gates worried. He says the European anti-war mentality is a danger to peace.

Dick Cheney was right about only one thing in his entire life. When we first got into the war against Al Qaeda he said it would have to be a different kind of war, a clandestine war. He also said we wouldn’t be hearing much about the war because it would be waged in secret. He was wrong about the second part, we hear about the War on Terror all the time. But he was right about the first part – this kind of war has to be different. It’s not the kind of war an army can win. It has to be more like a police action – a secret police action. Maybe a CIA kind of thing or a job for something like Israel’s Mossad.  It’s simply too easy for a nimble organization like Al Qaeda to evade a slow-moving army or the Marine Corps. That has been effectively demonstrated for the last nine years in Afghanistan.  Pretending that the Taliban is our real 9/11 enemy doesn’t help in countering the true threat from Al Qaeda.

The would-be captured terrorist Najibullah Zazi has said recently that he was close to launching a new attack on the U.S. It’s worth noting that his capture had nothing to do with the U.S. Army or Marine Corps or Air Force or Navy.   Al Qaeda is planning more attacks – not spectacular attacks like 9/11, but smaller ones – deadly but smaller.

One must ask: is our attack on the Taliban really an effective way to fight Al Qaeda? The answer has to be: “No”.  The problem we have is that this is the type of fighting our military is trained to do, but warfare has changed and we have not adapted to the change. We still haven’t learned the lesson of Vietnam. You can’t fight unconventional forces in a conventional way. The tactics of World War II, even though they were gloriously successful, just don’t apply here. But, that’s what our generals are trained to do, so we do it.

We’ve been lucky. Our FBI or CIA or some other quasi-police agency caught Najibullah Zazi. However, there are probably others like him: sleeper agents and spies. Infiltrators.  The question our military should be addressing is how to counter these clandestine agents because that is the real military threat we face. The Taliban do not pose an imminent threat to America. We all know are not nice people, in fact they seem to be really nasty people.  But they are on the other side of the world and their primary concern is Afghanistan. Al Qaeda’s primary concern is America. The Taliban is not Al Qaeda, and that is exactly the problem with our defense against Al Qaeda.

We’re like the guy looking for his lost quarter under the street light.

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If there is one thing that everyone in America seems to be able to agree on, it is this: we are in big economic trouble.  After having a near miss with a second Great Depression, we are unsteadily moving towards a state of continuing economic uncertainty.  It’s not just us; it’s the whole world. Spain, Greece, and Portugal are now in deep economic trouble and if they default on their debts the euro and the entire European economy could be endangered.  China, now the prime manufacturer for the world, and the principal holder of U.S. debt obligations, is mostly concerned with their own economy, not ours; except that their economic fate is inextricably linked to ours. If we go down, they go down.  That is something they would really like to avoid, so they are taking their own self-protective steps to strengthen their currency and prepare for a second round of economic bad news.

Everyone, almost everyone anyway, seems to feel we spent a huge amount of money in forestalling the complete meltdown of our banks. We did this with borrowed money – money that was essentially borrowed from China and will eventually have to be paid back.  The problem is that we are very close to being in a situation where as a nation, we spend more than we earn. And it looks like this imbalance will only get worse in the coming years.  It is a recipe for economic disaster.  We either have to earn more or spend less. The problem with earning more is that our multinational companies have outsourced so much production to China and other countries that it is now really hard to earn more money. We just don’t make enough stuff here anymore. So what’s left? Cut expenses. Spend less.

Immediately, the right wing goes after the entitlement programs, since, philosophically, they have always opposed them. Slash Social Security, cut Medicare and Medicaid, eliminate anything that smacks of helping people – and let’s don’t even talk about universal health care. On the left we hear about different types of cuts. Recently President Obama said he wanted to cancel NASA’s plans to go back to the Moon.  He also wants to tax the banks and the rich folk (makes sense – after all, that’s where the money is).  There is one thing no one talks about. The big 800 pound gorilla in the room, the Emperor’s unmentionables, the biggest ticket in the U.S. budget, the Mother of All Budget Breakers: Defense Spending. There – I’ve said it.  That which must not be said. The ledger which must not be looked at. The sacred amount, the holy of holies which must not ever be questioned: it is this one little item that is bleeding the life blood from our country.

Whoa, pardner. Wait just one cotton pickin’ minute, Glenn Beck might say. How do you figur’ that?  How come I’m not going after that big money waster, Social Security or Medicare? Well, for one thing, I’ve already paid a lot of money into the Social Security/Medicare Ponzi scheme and I want my money back some day. And I’ll get it too, and so will you, just so long as the population keeps growing – the key ingredient to any Ponzi scheme.

Defense spending, on the other hand is different. A lot of it goes to defense contractors who get their contracts via lobbyists and cozy relationships with our Senators and Congressmen.  They build all sorts of useless things like B-1 bombers and nuclear powered aircraft carriers.  They spend a lot of money on their own version of entitlement programs like huge pensions for retired admirals and generals, free medical care, free or low cost housing, food, clothing, schooling, transportation, recreation, you name it. Talk about Socialism, talk about entitlement programs, this is the King of Entitlement programs. We all know this, but it’s unpatriotic to say so, so we keep quiet.  For a great many people, the military is a jobs program, except for those unlucky few who wind up in actual combat, of course. The thing is that vast numbers of military people never come within a thousand miles of combat. The truth is that most of our weapons are never used. The truth is that the military is the largest old boy network in the country.  It is a system where you make alliances for life.  These alliances are used to get jobs in industry after people leave the military or in the government itself where you can find groups of people working in the same office who “just happened” to know each other in the service. We all know that – we just don’t talk about it.  It’s not patriotic to say that.  The thing is this: having a nice and safe, cushy career in the military and then retiring to a fat job in government or industry while collecting a fat pension is not the same thing as dying for your country in the rocks and sand of Afghanistan. But we act like it is.

The simple fact is this: our military budget is horrendously bloated.  Our military spending is way out of line. We buy the wrong weapons.  We have the wrong strategies.  We have the wrong number of people.  We are wasting enormous amounts of money on our military budget, and like a drug addict or an alcoholic, we can’t stop.  Defense spending is our sacred cow. It must not be questioned.  It must not be cut. It is killing us financially, but we won’t and we can’t admit it.

Here’s something to think about: how many years has it been since 9/11? It’s getting close to nine years. So how is our military doing fighting this war against terror? Well, let’s see….we bombed Afghanistan and toppled the Taliban, but we didn’t get Bin Laden. We invaded Iraq and killed Saddam Hussein, but we didn’t get Bin Laden.  We’re back in Afghanistan but we can’t seem to locate Bin Laden. Nine years our military has been fighting yet still we face possible terrorist attacks from Al Qaeda every day. Does this mean our military isn’t up to the job? No.  It means that this is not a job for the military.  Remember when Cheney said that the war against terror was going to be a clandestine war and we wouldn’t hear much about it? Well, that was about as close as Cheney ever got to the truth. We are not going to defeat Al Qaeda with armored columns or stealth bombers or aircraft carriers or 20,000 Marines. We don’t even know where they’re hiding.

After World War II Europe pretty much disarmed. We didn’t. Neither did the Soviets. President Reagan drove the Soviet Union into bankruptcy by accelerating the arms race. Massive military spending didn’t help the Soviet economy, it killed it. Even so, we don’t learn.  We continue on, preparing to fight multiple simultaneous wars on different fronts, like the Cold War never ended.  We’re spending enormous amounts on the War on Terror at the same time.  More than anything else it is this unconstrained defense spending that is destroying our economy.  Why? Because the military does not create a product. Money goes in but no consumer products come out. It isn’t a business. Money spent on defense is not an economic stimulus, it is a burden on the taxpayer – a burden we have to acknowledge and sensibly reduce. This doesn’t mean we stop fighting Al Qaeda, it means we have to fight in a more productive, intelligent, and clandestine way – but not the way of the military.

Our problem is that we cannot even talk about this. Our problem is that we have a corrupt system that continually increases defense spending in ways that are not useful or effective. Our problem is that, more than anything else, defense spending is killing our economy and we won’t admit it; we are afraid to admit it.  Our problem is that defense spending has become our sacred cow and it has become unpatriotic to question anything about it. Even so this will end, either when we get up enough courage to honestly debate defense spending or when our economy simply collapses and defense spending, like everything else, simply withers away.

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If there is any country whose political, economic, and religious entanglements resemble the mythical Gordian knot, it has to be Afghanistan.  For centuries that tortured land has been the pathway for conquering hordes entering or leaving what is now called Pakistan and India.  The people who inhabit that land are a genetic stew of European and Asian bloodstreams and they have learned over millenia that it is best to stay out of the way of invading armies, and it is also best to not take sides if you want to survive.  Survival is hard enough in Afghanistan, one of the world’s poorest – if not the poorest – countries.  Today Afghanistan is in chaos, a situation that is entirely understandable given its recent history.

It wasn’t so long ago that Afghanistan was a Marxist country and  an ally of the Soviet Union. A group of Muslims were not happy with the Afghan government and began an insurrection in 1975.  The Soviet Army was sent to Afghanistan in 1979 to put down the insurrection (which was supported by the U.S.), but after many years of warfare, the Soviets conceded, and they departed from Afghanistan in 1989.  It is quite likely that some of the military aid the U.S. gave to the insurgents went to a group known as the Taliban and to Osama bin Laden as well.

In the years since the Soviets left Afghanistan the Taliban seized power and created a strict form of an Islamic government.  It was during this time that Osama bin Laden also seems to have lost his liking for America.  We all know the result of Osama bin Laden’s attack on the U.S. on September 11, 2001.  It appears that he was able to find support and assistance from the Taliban in the years leading up to 9/11 and it is for this reason that the U.S. in now engaged in a new Afghan War.

This very brief look at Afghan history points out a serious problem with Afghanistan – the key players keep changing sides – including us.  Who is on whose side and why and for how long?  There is ample room in Afghanistan for finger-pointing.  There is plenty of justification for everyone involved to say that they do not trust each other.  To make the situation even more complex, the enemy we say we are fighting in Afghanistan – the Taliban – is not in control of Afghanistan. To make it even more complicated, a lot of the Taliban aren’t even in Afghanistan and never have been – they are in Pakistan.  The problem with the war is that we say we are at war in Afghanistan, but we are not at war with Afghanistan – we are at war with a shadowy group of Pashtun people who call themselves Taliban and a man named Osama bin Laden who is likely to spend the rest of his life living in a cave, waiting for the day when a Predator-launched missile will incinerate him.

At the present time President Obama and his advisors are trying to come up with a strategy that keeps us safe from the Taliban and Osama bin Laden.  The problem is the shadowy nature of both the Taliban and bin Laden.  It is a mistake to say that the problem is the country of Afghanistan or the people of Afghanistan – like poor people everywhere they are mostly concerned with where their next meal will come from.  Most of them couldn’t find the U.S. on a map.  As for the Taliban, it appears that they are very anxious to avoid a protracted shooting war with the U.S. So what do we do?  Do we keep sending in more and more troops?  Can we really expect to defeat the Taliban by sending in another 50,000 or so soldiers?  Can anyone spell Vietnam?  The simple fact, learned from World War II, is that if you really want to take over a country and put down any possible resistance you need a ton of troops – hundreds and hundreds of thousands – maybe even a million.  That’s what works – overwhelming force.  You can’t fine tune the solution – Secretary of Defense McNamara proved that in Vietnam.

We need to remember that our real enemy is Osama bin Laden and his small band of religious perverts.  The solution then is to come to an understanding with the Taliban.  The understanding is this: we are aware that they are protecting Osama bin Laden and we therefore hold the Taliban responsible for any and all actions of bin Laden and his followers – unless they turn him over to us.  We should tell the Taliban that we don’t give a hoot who controls Afghanistan, but we will not rest until bin Laden is brought to justice.  If they don’t want to turn him over, we’ll just continue our Predator attacks forever.  Furthermore, if bin Laden strikes again, it is the Taliban who we will hold responsible, but it is the Taliban who will meet complete and utter destruction the next time. The next time we won’t hold back.  That’s how agreements are made.

It’s called deterrence.  It worked with the Soviets for many, many years.  It worked with China too in the days of Chairman Mao.  Ultimately, we will have to leave Afghanistan, and we will have to have some sort of agreement with the people who inhabit that country – even if they are the Taliban.  It will have to be something like this.  We know we aren’t going to create a mini-USA there. We aren’t going to make a democracy out of Afghanistan. The Afghan people will be whatever they want to be, and they will have whatever religion and values they choose.  We don’t care.

They just need to remember one thing: any future attack on the U.S. by Al Qaeda will result in truly massive retaliation against the Taliban whether they are in charge of the Afghan government or hiding out in the mountains between Afghanistan and Pakistan. As Ronald Reagan said, “You can run, but you can’t hide”.

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It has been well known for many years that the tobacco plant is the direct cause of disease and death for hundreds of thousands of Americans every year. Everybody knows that; it’s hardly news.  Let’s suppose Al Qaeda was killing 400,000 Americans every year by blowing up buildings and airplanes.  Would we sit back and do nothing?  I don’t think so.  Everyone knows that smoking tobacco is addictive because it contains the drug nicotine. Yet, even though nicotine is a drug that drives people to smoke the cigarettes that kill them, we don’t ban it.  What if a half a million Americans were dying of heroin or cocaine use every year? Our attitude towards tobacco doesn’t make much sense.

On the other hand, neither does our attitude about opium. Opium is a highly addictive drug that is refined into heroin.  The U.S. is a big market for heroin.  The largest producer of opium in the world is Afghanistan. It is the basis of the Afghan economy and its cultivation has prospered ever since the U.S. drove out the Taliban. We have an army in Afghanistan. Why don’t we completely incinerate the opium crop? Why do we let the peasants of Afghanistan essentially sell heroin to Americans?

Why do we pretend to be against the use of narcotics and then we allow their cultivation and use right under our noses and yet do nothing to stop it?  Is our government for or against the use of addictive drugs by the American public?  Yes or no, just answer the question.  I say it is in favor of the use of addictive drugs.  Why do I say that? Because it is obvious. If the U.S. government was against the use of these drugs and the hundreds of thousands or even millions of deaths they cause each year, the government would simply put a stop to their use – and it doesn’t.

Why?  Money.  Big money. Tobacco is a major industry in the U.S. and our government has simply made the decision to favor the tobacco farmers and the cigarette manufacturers over the health of the tobacco addicts in America.   Same thing with opium.  We could easily destroy the opium crop in Afghanistan, but we won’t. We feel sorry for the opium farmers who grow this stuff and export it to our drug addicts. It is these drug addicts who rob and kill our citizens just to buy a packet of heroin who we severely punish, if we can catch them.  But the producers and manufacturers? No.  We look the other way.

Why?  Because we are not a nation of ideals. We are a nation of pragmatists, always willing to sacrifice our ideals if we can make a buck.  And drugs are big bucks.  And a lot of Americans make big bucks from the legal trade in nicotine (tobacco).  And our government has no intention of stopping it.  It’s not hard to understand. Our government is not concerned with the health or welfare of the people. Our government is primarily concerned with the welfare of the rich and powerful people who deal in these drugs.  There is no excuse for this. It is wrong, it is corrupt, it is evil, but it is the American way – business first, people last.

And we call this a democracy.

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The U.S. military is now saying that they don’t have enough troops in Afghanistan to win the war.  This is despite the fact that President Obama has recently made a major increase in the number of troops in Afghanistan, even as we withdraw from Iraq.  The question we need to be asking ourselves about Afghanistan is this: how will we know when we’ve won?  Do we just plan to keep on fighting the Taliban until they get tired and just give up?  Or, do we plan on fighting the Taliban until they have been completely eliminated from the Earth?  Or, do we just want to take and hold the entire country of Afghanistan and make it completely free of any Taliban activity forever?

The reason I ask is that the situation sounds a little familiar – sort of a deja vu sort of feeling.  Now where have I felt like this before.  Hmmm, let me think…  Oh, that’s right.  Vietnam.  (Didn’t they used to spell it Viet Nam?)  Anyway, as I recall, we were fighting worldwide communist domination then, and we had to stop them there because of the Domino Theory.  As it turned out, we didn’t really have a clear idea of how we were going to win that war – and we were playing by a set of rules  that didn’t allow us to invade North Vietnam (despite the fact that North Vietnam was invading South Vietnam via the Viet Cong).  Well, to make a long story short – we lost.  Actually, I think President Nixon more or less declared victory, handed the war over to South Veitnam, and we headed for the helicopters.

They say that those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.  Albert Einstein similarly said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.  Now, I understand that the Taliban gave aid and comfort to Osama bin Laden and his Al Qaeda buddies.  As I recall, it was 9/11 that got us into this whole thing.  The problem we have in the U.S. is that we sort of continually take our eye off the ball.  Granted that the Taliban  were friends with Osama, does it really make sense for us to expend so much energy trying to establish a democratic government in Afghanistan? Do we really believe that democracy is some sort of cure-all medication for all the ills of the world?

We are in the process of fighting a guerilla war against a group of tribesmen with our uniformed servicemen while we have an undefined final goal.  Past experience has shown that we are not very good at that kind of war.  Maybe we need to take a different approach.  Here’s what I would suggest:

1. Let’s remember the original goal: find the perpetrators of 9/11 and deal out justice to them.

2. Create an approach to accomplish item #1.  This approach may not be conventional warfare.  Think out of the box.  If you want to catch a small group of people who are hiding out in the hills, maybe it would be better to give up the conventional methods.  Maybe it takes a guerilla to catch a guerilla.

3. Learn a lesson from Vietnam: you can’t prop up a government forever that the local people don’t want.  The local people will ultimately always have the government they want.  For some time it was the Taliban who ruled Afghanistan – this wouldn’t be the case unless the people permitted it.  If they really want the Taliban to govern them, let the Taliban came back. Just let the Taliban know that in the future that they, and the people of Afghanistan, will face truly massive destruction if they sponsor any more attacks against us.  Sort of a “Don’t Tread On Me” message.

4. Use our vast resources to find Osama bin Laden.  If we find him we have won.  If we don’t, we didn’t.

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