Trump's Not-So-New Afghanistan Strategy

[ Posted Monday, August 21st, 2017 – 19:42 UTC ]

There's a reason why Afghanistan is known as the "graveyard of empires." Ask the Soviets... or Alexander the Great, for that matter. The United States of America's war in Afghanistan has gone on far longer than any other conflict we've ever fought in, and there has been no real end in sight for a long time now.

That's the situation Donald Trump inherited as president, and it is (as he said tonight), "a bad and very complex hand" to play. But tonight's speech -- billed as the unveiling of Trump's new strategy for Afghanistan -- was actually more of a realization of this basic fact by Trump than any new military thinking. He openly admitted, for the first time I can really remember, that he was essentially wrong on the campaign trail when he promised quick victory and quick resolution of Afghanistan. That is momentous, since Trump rarely admits any mistakes whatsoever. This can be placed alongside his statement a few months back that healthcare reform was rather complicated (who knew?), in other words.

But before I get to my reactions of the speech's content, first let's look at the style of Trump's speech. While Trump has indeed been working towards a new Afghanistan strategy for a long time now, for whatever reasons (political, perhaps?) Trump pushed for a resolution late last week and decided to announce his new strategy now. This was (obviously) supposed to allow him to "look presidential" just after a week in which he looked anything but, on several notable occasions.

Part of Trump looking presidential, of course, is sticking to the script someone else writes for him. Now, all presidents have speechwriters, but for most of them it was hard to tell when they were ad-libbing their own remarks and when they were reading a prepared script off the TelePrompTer. With Trump, the difference is pretty easy to identify. Tonight, Trump rarely inserted his own asides, and when he did they were all appropriate and not in any way over-the-top. So Trump did manage to clear the "presidential-looking" bar tonight.

Trump sounded either tired or perhaps out of breath for much of the start of his speech, which lasted 20 or 25 minutes in total. He did get more animated later on, and you could hear some emotion in his voice when he spoke of 9/11 and terrorists. As always when speaking before military audiences, however, Trump seemed to at times be waiting for applause when none was forthcoming (this isn't any negative reflection on Trump, it must be pointed out for fairness' sake, as soldiers in uniform are instructed not to applaud or react while their president is speaking no matter what he says).

Overall, it wasn't the best speech I've ever seen Trump give (even the best in the "TelePrompTer only" category), but then again it wasn't the worst. He probably improved his image a bit after the disastrous previous week he had, and he looked sober and serious while discussing issues of war and America's foreign policy. So, overall, a pretty good speech by Trumpian standards. At no time did he sound petulant or whiny or egotistical or filled with rage, and for Trump that meant it was a solid speech.

In terms of content, well... there just wasn't a lot there. Or not much in the way of a new strategy, at any rate. Trump did spend a few paragraphs near the beginning of his speech attempting once again to revisit his reactions to Charlottesville, and the speechwriter did a particularly fine job of weaving it in on the theme of [I am paraphrasing, here]: "The military doesn't put up with any racism or hatred in its ranks, so they deserve to come home to an America that also rejects such hatred." Trump directly said there should be "no tolerance for hate" and that America needed to "heal our divisions here at home." Of course, it's only Monday. Who knows what he'll say on Tuesday, if last week is any guide.

In terms of the main subject of the speech, Trump began by saying: "The American people are weary of war without victory," which has largely been true since about the middle of George W. Bush's term in office, really. Then Trump made his admission that what he had thought on the campaign trail was overly simplistic, and that (for once) his "original instinct to pull out" was not the best idea. Trump actually admitted that making such decisions as president was different than he had originally thought.

Trump outlined three conclusions he came to after learning about the region from his advisors. The first was that we had to achieve an "honorable and enduring outcome" because the people who fought there deserved "a plan for victory." Next, a rapid exit would be a bad idea. And third, that the security threats "are immense" in not only Afghanistan but also in Pakistan and India.

After some words on how bad terrorists were and how it was bad they had safe havens in the region, Trump moved to his new strategy. Kind of. He began by saying that he would refuse to "talk about numbers of [American] troops" heading to the battlefield. He reiterated this a few times, which was also a theme of his on the campaign trail -- we will not allow our enemies to know what our military is doing, essentially.

This may be taking the concept too far, though, since Trump and the Pentagon aren't the only entities involved in such decisions. Congress, for instance, is quite likely to ask exactly how many more soldiers will be heading over there. And if we're going to ask NATO countries to up their troop involvement (something Trump called for later in his speech), they're going to want to see some hard numbers too. So this insistence by Trump that we won't be talking about troop numbers probably isn't going to hold up for very long. But at least it fit in with his campaign promises.

Trump returned multiple times to the theme of denouncing "nation-building." He promised an integrated effort between the military and the diplomatic corps, but the State Department is so woefully understaffed right now that it's hard to see much diplomatic action taking place. But whatever these efforts wind up achieving, it won't be nation-building, which Trump seems to define as shoehorning democracy upon a country not ready for it (I could be wrong about that, but that's the impression I've gotten).

As for the actual fight in Afghanistan, Trump promised to loosen the rules of engagement and also promised to lean hard on networks supporting the terrorists, but none of that really seems all that different than what we've been doing for over 16 years now. No matter how many soldiers have been over there at one time, the strategies of Bush, Obama, and Trump all seem pretty similar, in other words. To date, none have been anywhere near as successful as we would have liked.

What was new in Trump's speech was a much tougher attitude towards Pakistan. Trump hit Pakistan for allowing safe harbors for the Taliban and others, and for essentially looking the other way. He's right about that, but that's also going to be unbelievably hard to ever change. Trump seemed to be threatening Pakistan with closer U.S. relations with India, although again it's tough to say whether that's going to be very effective or not.

But at least it is a new strategy to try, for which I'll give Trump credit. Once again, I'd feel a lot better about any chance of success if the State Department were fully staffed up, though, since they'll have to be the ones to make any changes happen.

The one surprising thing in Trump's speech (to me) was how little he patted himself on the back for the continuing success in the fight against the Islamic State. He spent (I believe) one sentence on it during the entire speech, in fact. That's an amazing amount of restraint (and selflessness, even) for Trump to show for what is unquestionably a successful military campaign. It has been a long and slow effort, one that started under Barack Obama, but Trump isn't generally known for missing an opportunity to brag about good news, whether he deserves much credit for it or not.

So, overall, the speech Trump gave tonight was serious and presidential. His delivery was also fairly impressive, for him. He tried to address his own shortcomings on the Charlottesville tragedy, he was restrained and didn't mention Obama or Bush by name, and he managed to speak respectfully the entire time.

In terms of content, though, this was definitely not some brand-new plan for victory in the Middle East (as he promised during the campaign "within his first 30 days in office"), and it bears a marked resemblance to what we've been doing all along in Afghanistan. That's good news in one way, after the possibility of just turning the whole war over to mercenaries was floated last week. Trump is going to diplomatically lean on Pakistan much more heavily, which was the only real new proposal Trump made. Some extra soldiers will probably be heading to Afghanistan, but we can't possibly know how many. And we'll have to declare victory and come home at some point because "our patience is not unlimited."

Afghanistan's patience to outwait us, however, was not mentioned. This, after all, is how they earned that "graveyard of empires" title to begin with.

-- Chris Weigant


Cross-posted at The Huffington Post

Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant


112 Comments on “Trump's Not-So-New Afghanistan Strategy”

  1. [1] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    He began by saying that he would refuse to "talk about numbers of [American] troops" heading to the battlefield.

    I'll bet that was the generals' favourite part! They apparently envision a limitless number of troops and length of time they must be there.

    He promised an integrated effort between the military and the diplomatic corps, but the State Department is so woefully understaffed right now that it's hard to see much diplomatic action taking place.

    Didn't the president propose drastic cuts to the State Department?

    So, overall, the speech Trump gave tonight was serious and presidential.

    A serious speech would have recognized that there is and will be no end to American military involvement in Afghanistan if withdrawal is conditions-based. The prerequisite conditions for a US military withdrawal will never be met, in other words.

    A serious speech would have acknowledged that the US in on course to making Afghanistan a full-fledged US territory, for all intents and purposes.

  2. [2] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Does anyone think that the Afghan government can survive without US support, in particular, and foreign aid, in general?

    Graveyard of empires, indeed.

  3. [3] 
    MHorton wrote:

    On course? We've been on that course since we invaded.

    But, you break it, you buy it, and we broke it pretty good.

    Honestly, this is about as serious a speech as you're going to get on Afghanistan, and I'd say it's a reasonable reaction to the current situation.

    Pretending this were a normal administration, 7 months in saying "We're going to keep doing what we've been doing, but we're going to tweak it in some ways" is a perfectly rational and reasoned response.

    And I always kind of agreed with Trump that we don't need to announce all these troop plans and schedules real loudly.

    As much as I'd like to see this war end, it's not going to for quite a while, but we've removed some 90-95% of our troops, and we've already wasted most of the infrastructure money we're going to waste, so this is sort of a situation of diminishing costs to prevent a massive failed terrorist state.

  4. [4] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    "When we open our hearts to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice, no place for bigotry and no tolerance for hate. The young men and women we send to fight our wars abroad deserve to return to a country that is not at war with itself at home. We cannot remain a force for peace in the world if we are not at peace with each other." ... President Trump

    Seriously? What about Trump's tweet about transgender members of the US armed services?

  5. [5] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    On course? We've been on that course since we invaded.

    So, you envision a US military presence in Afghanistan forever?

  6. [6] 
    MHorton wrote:

    "Forever" is a long time; it's an useless term here.

    I foresee a military presence in Afghanistan for the forseeable (short to medium term) yes.

    But I mean we have a military presence in like 50 countries? So it's not that big a surprise.

    We keep/kept far more troops in Japan and Korea than we have in Afghanistan right now, for example. And I think the Taliban/ISIS/War with Pakistan is as big a threat to US interests as NK is.

  7. [7] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Forever is the operative term here.

    Afghanistan is not like any other country and certainly not another South Korea or Japan. This is what successive US administrations have failed to grasp.

    Afghanistan will NEVER be capable of sustaining the prerequisite conditions for US military withdrawal.

  8. [8] 
    MHorton wrote:

    When you use words like "forever" and "never" you undercut the validity of your argument.

    The sun won't be shining "forever" and Afghanistan could be the center of a new world hegemon in 100 years for all you no.

    There's nothing intrinsically different about the people there than anywhere else, afterall.

  9. [9] 
    MHorton wrote:


  10. [10] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


  11. [11] 
    MHorton wrote:

    What is non-serious?

  12. [12] 
    MHorton wrote:

    I mean the US went from a provincial farming country to the singular world power in like 70 years.

    "Never" is a long time.

  13. [13] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Now you are equating Afghanistan with the United States of America.

    It is important to understand the history of a country if comments about it are to be taken seriously.

  14. [14] 
    MHorton wrote:

    Yeah, I am. Because you're speaking about "forever" and predicting the future with claims of knowing what is going to happen.

    If you look at the history of the United States before 1920, we weren't that impressive. A relatively fresh and bloody civil war, political violence with every election, bands of roaming vigilanties murdering people in some parts of the country.

    Afghanistan is not going to become stable in the near to medium term.

    That in no way means they will "never" be capable of anything. Nobody can say that.

    You can not also say we will be there "forever" because nothing lasts forever. Not Afghanistan. Not the United States. Not the Earth. Not the Sun. Not the galaxy, and probably not even the universe.

    So saying "forever" makes it impossible to reply to the statement in a reasonable way.

  15. [15] 
    MHorton wrote:

    Let me put it this way.

    What is intrinsic to Afghanistan that makes it impossible for them to ever, in the next million years, possess a peaceful society?

  16. [16] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    What are the conditions on the ground that will allow for a responsible US military withdrawal?

  17. [17] 
    MHorton wrote:

    I don't know; I've already said there is no foreseeable timeframe for us pulling out of Afghanistan.

    That doesn't mean we will "never" do it, or that we will be there "forever."

    It means that in the reliably predictable future (the next few years) I don't forsee a change, but I acknowledge that you can't know the future.

  18. [18] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    What is intrinsic to Afghanistan that makes it impossible for them to ever, in the next million years, possess a peaceful society?

    Its tribal and religious nature and the fact that it does not have the resources to sustain the kind of military might it must maintain to fend off the Taliban insurgency without US military assistance and foreign aid.

  19. [19] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    It means that in the reliably predictable future (the next few years) I don't forsee a change ...

    I think you need to extend your timeline, somewhat.

  20. [20] 
    MHorton wrote:

    So in a million years, you don't think they can change from a tribal culture? Despite the fact that dozens of countries have done that already?

    And they HAVE the natural resources actually; they possess huge amounts of valuable ores and minerals, but it's too dangerous to effectively harvest them.

    Neither of these are things that can't be changed in 50 years.

    Those are good points for talking about the timeframe I'm talking about (5-20 years) but beyond that, nobody knows.

    There's nothing intrinsically different from other countries about Afghanistan.

  21. [21] 
    MHorton wrote:

    Again. Compare the US in 1915 to the US in 1965.

    Anything can happen.

  22. [22] 
    MHorton wrote:

    Or, compare the US in 1865 to the US in 1965.

    Nobody could ever have predicted that progression. Nobody. Ever.

  23. [23] 
    MHorton wrote:

    My actual point though is that keeping 10k troops there for the next 10-20 years probably doesn't cost that much. I doubt it costs significantly more than it costs us to keep our troops in Japan or Korea, especially because we've already wasted trillions on purchasing property and equipment in Afghanistan.

    Compared to the costs of the Taliban taking over and waging war on Pakistan and India, or ISIS claiming Afghanistan as a new caliphate, they're in line with what we're spending to deal with other threats.

  24. [24] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    US policy cannot be predicated on what might happen. Effective policy must be based on reason and what is practical.

    President Trump and the generals he is relying on are not seeing the big picture when it comes to the path forward in Afghanistan. Which is not dissimilar from the previous two administrations.

  25. [25] 
    MHorton wrote:

    So, what's the big picture? What's the solution? Just pull out, allow it to become a failed terrorist state?

    You haven't presented any facts or counter arguments, so I don't really know what point you're trying to make.

    You think they're wrong, but in what ways exactly? What should they do instead and why? How would it be better than the current plan?

    And even if you disagree with the plan and their take on the situation, it's a serious plan and a serious consideration of the situation, and completely reasonable by the current and recent history of US foreign relations.

  26. [26] 
    MHorton wrote:

    Also, policy is ALWAYS predicated on what "might" happen, because nobody knows what's going to happen.

    And I'm not saying PLAN on Afghanistan becoming a world power. I'm just pointing out that beyond a few years, you can't make any real predictions, because the world is unpredictable.

    Policy is based on reasonable and reasoned extrapolations of facts into conclusions about what is likely to happen.

  27. [27] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Of course, the only way out for the US is by way of a political settlement between the Afghan government and the Taliban.

    If the US government is willing to sit at the table as a partner to a possible peace deal, then that will be a way out of the Afghanistan debacle.

    But, we don't know if the Taliban is willing to go that route. If they are not, then the US will be forced to support the Afghan government for a very, very, very long time.

  28. [28] 
    MHorton wrote:

    Well, the only QUICK way.

    I agree, we'll probably be there for a while, but I think you're overestimating how fixed these sorts of things are.

    I don't consider 20 years "a very very very long time" and I am in no way certain we'll be there in 20 years.

  29. [29] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    What makes you think the US won't be intimately entangled in Afghanistan in 20 years from now?

    Do you think President Trump or his military advisors know how to make that happen?

  30. [30] 
    MHorton wrote:

    I don't think Trump or his advisors know how to make that happen.

    Nothing in particular makes me think that; I never said I think that.

    I said I'm not sure, either way, because 20 years is a long time in the current highly volatile political and economic environment.

    Don't mistake "I don't know" for "I know you're wrong"

    We have no idea what the world will look like in 20 years.

    In 1997 nobody could have predicted a world laid out this way.

  31. [31] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Don't mistake "I don't know" for "I know you're wrong"

    Nice debating tactic.

  32. [32] 
    goode trickle wrote:

    The interesting thing about the tone and tenor of the speech (could only read what a foreign paper had on it...) really seems to paint the picture that the Administration is counting on the continued abdication of congress to perform it's war oversight responsibilities and an aging AUMF.

    I for one would love to see the congress do it's part and revisit the AUMF and determine the "rules" so to speak. Without the congress doing it's role I predict that once we see an increase in the number of troop deaths we will see an increased use of private contractors to help make the human costs seem less than they are.

    Isn't it about time that administration define what winning looks like and congress either agrees or not through it's deliberative process (as corrupt as it is)?

    The other key thing missing from the speech is the recognition that there will be additional human costs to increasing the intensity of the conflict and a good solid promise to take care of our injured troops.

    But then again, perhaps it is the most honest approach, considering no administration since Bush and certainly no Congress since Bush has given two shits about the human cost. Promises given many, shits given none.

    While conflict unavoidably brings human costs, and the nature of the conflict itself may be valid and good, there needs to be regular introspection by both branches of government as to the value of "winning" and ALL of the costs of getting there.

    It is high time that the "human cost" and the funding to pay for it become part of the discussion.

  33. [33] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    It's hard to have a serious discussion about US policy in Afghanistan and regional strategy if we don't know what conditions on the ground will allow for a responsible US military withdrawal.

    President Trump didn't shed any light on that last night. That is why his speech was non-serious.

  34. [34] 
    TheStig wrote:

    The best thing that can be said of this speech is that it was 99.44% Trump free. That's what his Presidency needs at this juncture, so congratulations to whoever, or whoevers, is/are twisting his arms. Trump is effectively, if only temporarily, handing the Commander In Chief role of the Presidency to the Military and washing his hands (which did look small!!) of actual management. Sort of like the Trump University model.

    Moving beyond the Rationale Behind the Speech, what is the Motivation for the Revised War Plan?

    If Trump's strategy is driven by geo-terrorism, than why a we putting so many resources into a country that is a backwater of geo-terrorism? Seriously, are the bombs and automobiles and kitchen implements used in recent American:European attacks built in or routed thru Afghanistan? Are terrorists, who blow-up, knife and run over civilians, from or trained in Afghanistan? NO. The terrorist cells that build and operate the terror machinery are dispersed, as is their leadership as are their finances. Shouldn't our anti terror grand strategy reflect this?

    So, if it's not really geared to terrorism, what is the motive for upping the ante in Afghanistan? Distraction? Tunnel Vision? Tradition? You can address these questions to both Trump and The Military, but The Military may be the more relevant actor, having pondered the problem for much longer than the current POTUS. As a professional soldier, how is Afghan Phase 3 (Trump) going to be more strategically effective(decisive) than Phase 2 (Obama) or Phase 1 (Bush)?

    As any and all military historians will tell you, it is extraordinarily difficult to win a war in Afghanistan. Are we playing to win or are we playing just because we lack the willpower not to play a losers game? Afghan is the Three Card Monte Problem of the USA.

    Donny boy, it's your unwinnable war now! That's how American History works.

  35. [35] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    The motivation for upping the ante in Afghanistan is a simple and familiar one: fear of losing.

  36. [36] 
    MHorton wrote:

    Elizabeth, except that's not the conversation.

    There are NO conditions that I see that would allow us to leave in a short period of time.

    Also, what's with the insulting sarcasm because I admitted I don't know the future?

    You asked a question, I answered with "I don't know, and you don't know either" and you keep wanting to ask me the same question, but the answer is the same.

    Neither of us KNOW anything about the future.

    Also, you keep making assertions without real facts. You say because Trump didn't present a solution to getting us out of Afghanistan it's not a serious speech; that's just disingenuous.

    I dislike Trump as much as the next guy, but I don't expect him to figure out how to solve Afghanistan in 6 months, and neither should you.

  37. [37] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    End of conversation.

  38. [38] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Are you a girl, MHorton? Because you sound like one. :)

  39. [39] 
    MHorton wrote:

    Well, Elizabeth, you're not capable of holding a mature discussion then.

    Personal insults because I... don't know the future?

    Maybe this blog doesn't have as intelligent a following as I thought.

  40. [40] 
    MHorton wrote:

    @Don Well, I mean parts of it were predictable, but I mean which actors would be where, and which countries would be on the ascent and which would be the major threats is hard to predict.

    Lots of broad domestic trends are fairly easy to predict.

  41. [41] 
    MHorton wrote:


    I do feel like if Afghanistan collapses, it will become a trading ground for terrorist cells all over the world.

    I'm also quite concerned that the Taliban might start a war with Pakistan to help their Taliban allies in that country.

    The result could be a nuclear war between India and Pakistan.

    I can't be the only one who sees that as a huge threat, and I bet that's one of the arguments they used for why we can't just pull out and leave.

  42. [42] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    Well, there is that, too. :)

  43. [43] 
    Kick wrote:

    CW: Trump seemed to be threatening Pakistan with closer U.S. relations with India, although again it's tough to say whether that's going to be very effective or not.

    Mere lip service.

    But at least it is a new strategy to try, for which I'll give Trump credit.

    You think so? I don't see anything new here; there really is no strategy in Afghanistan. Trump is simply redefining the can and kicking it down the road... a political reset disguised as military strategy, complete with a speech playing off the statements of our military leaders after Charlottesville.

    Ever noticed how when Trump is reading a teleprompter that he forms his thumb and forefinger into "O's"? Lots of reading yesterday with very little else... so lots and lots of "O's":

    I heard that McMaster showed Trump 1970s photos of Afghan women in miniskirts to convince him not to abandon Afghanistan; you've got to admire Herb for thinking like his opponent. Here's a "real" strategy even Trump could endorse: America "wins" when a Miss Universe pageant is held in Kabul... but don't call it nation-building.

    So much of what this con artist does is reality television and shouldn't be mistaken for anything more; it's simply theater. Trump plays to win the day and nothing beyond that, and today is a completely different day in front of a completely different crowd.

    When you're wounded and left on Afghanistan's plains,
    And the women come out to cut up what remains,
    Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains
    An' go to your Gawd like a soldier.

    ~ Rudyard Kipling

  44. [44] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    afghanistan is a lose-lose situation. if we stay, we lose gradually, and throw away even more lives and money. if we leave we lose bigger and faster, and i agree with MH that the country turns back into terrorism central, possibly even spilling over into a takeover of pakistan.


  45. [45] 
    MHorton wrote:

    @Don Oh, I 100% agree with you on all those points.

    The Executive Branch is not supposed to manage long term conflicts for this very reason; the military exists to fight, and when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

    That's kind of the basis for my claims that we don't know how it's going to go long term.

    One strong Congress taking back control of the War Powers could get us out of Afghanistan in the next 20 years or so.

    Now, whether we'll GET a Congress willing to do their jobs, is a completely different story.

  46. [46] 
    MHorton wrote:

    @Don I actually rather like the idea of Civil Service requirements for all citizens, like Israel does.

    Except we could move the focus away from the military since ours is sufficient to defend ourselves, and we could make a Civil Service Corps, where young people go to work for a few years on charity, infrastructure jobs, and temp jobs like the census that the government needs.

  47. [47] 
    Kick wrote:


    Yes, yes, yes, and exactly right.

  48. [48] 
    TheStig wrote:


    "End of conversation."

    Ehhh, It's just old words out of a new sock puppet.

    Cut, paste...done and done.

    Thanks Tamper Monkey!! (& good ol' ChasBrown for the script)

  49. [49] 
    TheStig wrote:

    Was somebody banned from commenting around these parts? Or just a reset? Either way, crude dodge.

  50. [50] 
    TheStig wrote:


    It seems to me you are discussing only 2/3 of the options. Besides stay and leave, there is an implied option called "escalate." Is that what you are advocating - go back to square Dubya? How do you assess the payoff from a replay of that option?

  51. [51] 
    Kick wrote:


    Ehhh, It's just old words out of a new sock puppet.

    Kind of obvious.

    Thanks Tamper Monkey!! (& good ol' ChasBrown for the script)

    I miss chazzzbrown... a.k.a. Charles Brown, Esq.
    Wonder what he is up to?

  52. [52] 
    MHorton wrote:

    @Stig I think he didn't mention it because it's the worst of all options, and doesn't in any way assist in us actually leaving the country.

    You can't kill your way into breaking religious tribalism.

    I'm unsure about why you feel like he was advocating for something he never mentioned.

    Afghanistan is, and always will be, an all-lose situation. We never should have invaded, and the moment our boots hit that soil we were locked in.

    Obama's escalation only cost us money and left us with virtually no progress, I don't see any reasonable basis for thinking 100k will solve the problem this time.

  53. [53] 
    TheStig wrote:

    The bulk of the Islamic terrorism is occurring in Europe as opposed to the USA (I'm counting Iraq & Syria as full fledged civil wars). Europe doesn't seem to be urging a greater US military presence in Afghanistan, or taking on a greater role in Afghan. themselves. Why not? Could it be because they realize their critical vulnerabilities are mostly local, and that Afghan. contributes very little to their local threat. I happen to agree with them.

  54. [54] 
    nypoet22 wrote:


    afghanistan is not an external threat until it is. see: 9/11


  55. [55] 
    MHorton wrote:

    @Stig that's a good point, and I think we should devote more and more resources at home to prevent radicalism and domestic terrorism.

    Winning "hearts and minds" at home is the #1 key to preventing terrorism. Kids who grow up feeling like they are respected and have healthy opportunities in life do not find terrorism appealing.

    That said, I'm actually not sure about Europe's stance on Afghanistan. I know they don't publicly say anything about it, but I haven't read transcripts of NATO meetings. It could be that the EU's military leaders believe that a stable(ish) Afghanistan is preferable to a failed state, and have been quietly supporting the US policies there.

    I'm not actually saying Afghanistan is relevant to local US safety. I'm saying that if the Taliban takes over Afghanistan we could have a 3 way war with 2 of the partners as theocratic nuclear powers.

    That's not a "local" threat, but it's a serious threat to the US in the medium to long term.

  56. [56] 
    TheStig wrote:

    Kick 55

    Captain Obvious obvious. Wonder why he bothered? Slow day at the office? Maybe just re-branding. Like Electrsol dish washer powder morphing into Cascade.

  57. [57] 
    MHorton wrote:

    A quick search shows the EU spending billions in infrastructure and aid project in Afghanistan, so I can't imagine they would be supportive of the concept of the US just leaving quickly and letting the Taliban take over.

  58. [58] 
    TheStig wrote:


    Oh, I see, those 3 airliners took off from Afghanistan. The hijackers were Afghans. Most of the money to finance the training came from Afghanistan. Pay back time for Afghanistan.

    You've got the wrong perps! Jackass!

    You see 9/11! Saudi all over it. Until people like you rewrote history. Nice try.

  59. [59] 
    John M wrote:

    MHorton wrote:

    "Except we could move the focus away from the military since ours is sufficient to defend ourselves, and we could make a Civil Service Corps, where young people go to work for a few years on charity, infrastructure jobs, and temp jobs like the census that the government needs."

    Haven't we had something like that already since at least the 1960's called "The Peace Corps?"

  60. [60] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    sure bin laden was saudi, but he and his training facility were located in afghanistan. it doesn't matter where they originally came from, afghanistan was where they were based. jackass. ;p

  61. [61] 
    John M wrote:

    1.) All failed states don't necessarily become big terrorist havens. What about Somalia for example?

    2.) We have been in both Germany and Japan for 70 years now. Is this our fate in Afghanistan also?

    3.) If the USA were to withdraw from Afghanistan, wouldn't either Russia or China or both step in? Isn't it more strategically important to either of them then it would ever be to the USA?

    4.) Isn't if funny how we can find hundreds of billions of dollars, even a trillion dollars, for a military operation in Afghanistan or Iraq, with not a peep from anyone BUT, when it comes to finding Federal money to spend on healthcare here at home for Americans, suddenly it becomes way too expensive, and budget busting and adding too much to the deficit?

    5. Isn't the stability of countries like Colombia and Mexico, and the outcome of the Mexican government's war against Narco terrorists, of far more importance to America, our future, and America's long term strategic position, than what happens half way around the world to a land locked country in the middle of Asia? Why is all our money and focus poured into there and not closer to home on our own doorstep? Can you imagine what we could accomplish if the money poured into Afghanistan were put into say, Mexico, Central America and Venezuela instead?

    6.) Even in the 1860's, once American survived the Civil War, you could have predicted America's great power rise and domination based on geography alone, once our cohesion as a nation was assured. Do you know that from the East Coast to the Gulf Coast, America has the greatest amount and concentration of deep water ports of any nation in the world? Not to mention those on the west coast as well. Mexico, by contrast, for example, has just ONE, Vera Cruz. Or that we have the largest interior navigable river system in the world as well, in the Mississippi, Missouri, and Ohio river systems that also lies in the heart of the largest most productive agricultural land mass in the world? Water transport is incredibly cheap. The only other areas that come close, are Germany, and the Northern Argentine / Southern Brazilian areas. Is it no coincidence that Germany came close to dominating the world also? China might also be the only other example.

  62. [62] 
    MHorton wrote:


    1. That's true. But Afghanistan was already a terrorist haven. And the Taliban, who are actively trying to reconquer the country, affiliate themselves with terrorists. In addition, it's not terrorist I'm afraid of, but of the Afghani Taliban taking the country, allying with the Pakistani Taliban, and starting a war with Pakistan, destabilizing it. A destabilized Pakistan would greatly increase the risk of war with India, particularly considering current Indian politics. This leaves you with a situation of two ancient, nuclear armed enemies in a full fledged armed confrontation.

    2. It's possible; hopefully not, but it is possible. I don't THINK anyone here is actually advocating for that, but I'm unsure of what the superior options are, as outlined in point 1.

    3. I'm not sure why Russia would particularly care about Afghanistan. They also don't have the military or support resources to take over. China could take over, in an attempt to bring Afghani resources under their control. This would likely lead to renewed outright conflict between the Taliban, the Afghani Government, and China. And a 3 way conflict isn't a superior situation, so China might be hesitant to put many forces in place. It's certainly not something you can count on.

    4. You're right, but I think almost everyone here would agree with you.

    5. How are we supposed to put the resources from Afghanistan into Mexico? Invade Mexico? Military resources will never defeat the drug cartels. Legalization is the only real option for ending drug violence.

    6. In the 1860's we were not assured of cohesion. Even directly after the Civil War, there was unrest, and violence, and the threat of further insurrections. The US had actually faced numerous internal insurrections over most of it's history before the Civil War, and nobody was sure. Also, the West wasn't known to be rich in resources yet, nobody knew about the value of the ports there, and we have virtually no ships, no trading, and no international presence to speak of. There was definitely nothing to indicate that we would be the dominant world power in a century.

  63. [63] 
    MHorton wrote:

    John [63] Right, but you're ignoring the first part of the statement.

    The Peace Corps is a volunteer group. For the scale I'm talking about, it would probably be easier to create a whole new organization than to try and increase their size by orders of magnitude.

  64. [64] 
    John M wrote:

    MHorton [66]

    1.) That's a very valid concern for sure. But I don't think there is any political solution for a stable Afghanistan without bringing the Taliban into the government or political process, as they do represent a large portion of the population.

    2.) I don't see what the alternative is. We either withdraw, or we stay. if we stay, it will be at least for another 20 to 30 years. There is just no way around that.

    3.) Russia would care for at least two reasons. One, to strategically counter China in its own backyard, or forever be in an inferior power position. Two, Afghanistan is right on the border of the former Soviet Central Asian Republics, which are still important to Russia, contain Russian minorities, bases, and Cosmonaut facilities, etc.

    5.) No. Neither Mexico or the USA would stand for that. But we could put a lot more resources into joint task forces, helping the Mexican police with training and resources, etc. Also infrastructure spending. If we can spend billions building roads in Afghanistan, why not in Mexico instead? It would keep the Mexican unemployed at home, out of the drug gangs, and remove the need for crossing the border to find work.

    6.) The Civil War has been the only real threat to American cohesion. Nothing else has come close. Even before the Civil War, the push to span the continent was in full steam. in fact, the question of expanding slavery to the western territories was one of the major causes of the Civil War to begin with. All the signs that we would be the dominant power in the world WERE already there, the resolution of the Civil War in the North's favor just intensified and accelerated them. The explosive growth in shipping, trade, railroad construction, industry fueled by war production, immigration, territorial expansion, land grants, massive farming increases and food export, etc. ALL were there.

  65. [65] 
    TheStig wrote:


    You imply that Afghanistan was the key factor behind 911. That simply is not so, the key player of 911 was Bin Laden, a Saudi expat who planned and largely financed the operation with Saudi money obtained thru Saudi connections. Afghanistan was an enabler that gave him refuge. Had it been refused, or had a better offer appeared, Bin Laden he would have moved the franchise elsewhere, which he had a history of doing after the Soviets were booted from Afghanistan. See Maktab al

  66. [66] 
    John M wrote:

    MHorton [67]

    Oh I am not ignoring it. I only meant to point out that the seed of an example has already been there for a very long time, if we were willing and wanting to greatly expand its scope and run with it. We don't have to reinvent the wheel so to speak.

  67. [67] 
    John M wrote:

    TheStig [69]

    I agree with you here also. Let's also not forget another key point. The Saudi political and religious philosophy of Wahhabism is the KEY underpinning of what many people call Radical (Sunni) Islamic Terrorism, and is exported through and supported by Saudi funding of Madrassas, or centers of Islamic teaching, through out the world, that specifically indoctrinate this particular form of theology.

  68. [68] 
    MHorton wrote:

    @John Sure sure. I was using that as a distinction from the Israeli's system, I wasn't really thinking about what we already have so I misunderstood your point.

    I mainly just meant by that "Hey, Israel has mandatory military service, let's just do that but non-military instead"

    I do think that it'd be better to leave the Peace Corps a separate thing, and then people who enjoy their service and transition into longer term professional positions within the Peace Corps or use them as a vehicle for maintaining civil contact with people in the years after the leave the service.

  69. [69] 
    TheStig wrote:

    What is it about the internet and conspiracy theorists ? Oh yeah, too cheap to meter.

  70. [70] 
    TheStig wrote:

    And a post of mine is stuck is stuck in the filter. CW?

  71. [71] 
    Paula wrote:

    So, Elizabeth [39]: "Are you a girl..." What is that?

    I won't argue military strategy since I don't know enough about it, but Elizabeth's reaction to MHorton seemed pretty weird.

    Then nypoet [64] calls MHorton a jackass? Or someone else?

    I HAVE wondered who might be Michale sock puppets around here. Altohone has crossed my mind. Elizabeth seems to hate other women and nyPoet is a passive-aggressive case, but are they Michale?

    Kick? [55] TheStig? [51] Is that what you think?

  72. [72] 
    John From Censornati wrote:


    I think you may have misinterpreted [39] & [64] and I don't think that chatbots have sockpuppets. That'd just be another chatbot.

  73. [73] 
    altohone wrote:

    Hey CW and gang

    Random thoughts on the column and comments in an out of order fashion-

    The Afghan government/US/coalition currently only controls about half of Afghanistan.

    The current and previous Afghan governments were installed through fraud with US participation, not elected... and it is likely the most corrupt on the planet.

    The Powell Doctrine was yet again exhumed in the dark of night for desecration and reburied to the chagrin of many experts.

    Honoring the sacrifices made in the past is literally the worst reason to sacrifice more blood and treasure.

    We are escalating. Again.

    There are still roughly four US paid contractors for every US service member in Afghanistan... the war was mostly privatized long ago.

    Denying other economic powers (China) access to the resources in Afghanistan has been raised as a factor for staying, and yet, we can't benefit from those resources due to the lack of security, and even if we could in the future, fewer than 1% of Americans will see any of those benefits.

    Pressuring Pakistan is not a new tactic.

    Elements within Pakistan have been aiding the Taliban from the beginning to this day, so raising concerns about Afghanistan attacking Pakistan as a reason for us to stay is, um, uninformed. Pakistan can handle itself.

    A state hostile to US interests in the region is not the same as a "failed state".

    The vast majority of the Taliban are Afghani, so we are fighting residents, not really terrorists... or at least not those responsible for international terrorism beyond Pakistan.

    Anybody who raises the issue of the Taliban harboring al Qaida or ISIS gaining a foothold there better be on record screaming bloody murder while Obama's CIA trained, funded and armed "rebels" who promptly joined al Qaida and ISIS in Syria AND while we "looked the other way" while our "allies" funded and armed them directly.

    We've spent more on reconstruction in Afghanistan than inflation adjusted dollars were spent on the Marshal Plan... and according to the IG, most of it was wasted.

    Comparisons of staying in Afghanistan to our 70 years in Germany or Japan are just stupid.
    They weren't fighting us.

    The future is indeed unknown, but the probability of our being able to deal with any potential negative consequences from our withdrawal is high, and will likely require a fraction of the resources.

    And for those who may argue the humanitarian angle, more Afghanis will suffer and die if we continue the longest war in US history than if we leave.

    The only way to win is not to play the game.
    If we stay, we lose.


  74. [74] 
    altohone wrote:


    I was silently enjoying your comments yesterday, but you really haven't been paying attention if you've missed my comments calling out the troll starting my first day back here.

    That was a very low blow.
    Everybody here has issues, but nobody comes close to the trumpling.

    I believe several apologies are in order.


  75. [75] 
    Paula wrote:

    [76] John: Eh? Don't mean to be dense but am dense. Can you elaborate?

  76. [76] 
    altohone wrote:


    Regarding your comment about posting poetry yesterday...

    ... I guess that means I am required to retract my judgmental compliment?


  77. [77] 
    Paula wrote:

    [78] Altohone: Now you sound like nyPoet. However, I'll apologize to you, since you asked. I apologize.

    But there are times when the structure of your arguments are Michale-like, ditto the ferocity of your hatred for Democrats. And, although you can assert you aren't his sock-puppet I can't, of course, know for sure. That's one of the drawbacks of our "anonymous" posting.

    As for Elizabeth and nyPoet, I do, quite sincerely, wonder. It's their evasion, and weird outbreaks of aggression. And their bizarre love of Michale. I can't wrap my head around that.

    Michale HAS employed sock-puppets in the past.

  78. [78] 
    nypoet22 wrote:


    absolutely take it back, i have none of the good sense required to keep my lyrics to myself.


  79. [79] 
    nypoet22 wrote:


    i rarely "lol" hard enough to feel the need to type it, but that was exceptional. i believe you've gone well beyond a busted gasket here, and there may even be a crack or two in the engine block. perhaps it is you who is really michale. if so, that would be brilliant!

    Is Tyler my bad dream? Or am I Tyler's?
    ~fight club

  80. [80] 
    Paula wrote:

    [83] I was waiting for someone to say that and it would, indeed, be brilliant if it was true.

    What's interesting to me is how you are growing progressively more insulting. I can understand it because I'm not letting up, but that's because I think you are evading, evading, evading. I don't evade. Michale does. You are.

    And you have evaded a couple of times now through ad hominems. I thought you didn't approve of them.

  81. [81] 
    nypoet22 wrote:


    ad hominem is the fallacious claim that an argument is invalid due to some bad characteristic of the speaker. the claim that michale's right-wing speech, illogical though it may be, is being "enabled" as if it were alcoholism or codependency, is absurd enough on its face that there's no need for any counter-argument. it's true that i tend to shy away from insulting individuals, and encourage others not to, but it's not every day i get called a jackass, a sock puppet, passive-aggressive, evasive, enabling, abusive and michale in disguise all in the same day.

    so yes paula, your arguments are wrong and your insults are boring. i guess i've been successfully trolled.


  82. [82] 
    MHorton wrote:

    It's not right wing speech that's being enabled.

    It's lies and attacks that are being enabled. The subject being spoken about is irrelevant. If someone consistently lies, you should call them out on those lies. That's a requirement of maintaining an honest and fair society. The law has no place censoring such speech; but individuals have every right to call out, challenge and ostracize those who lie consistently.

    I agree though, that she's being a bit paranoid and accusatory; this thread was 100% policy up until just now. We should keep it that way.

  83. [83] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:
  84. [84] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Here is a much better link, Paula ...

  85. [85] 
    Paula wrote:

    [85] JL: I didn't call you a jackass: YOU DID. I was wondering WHY YOU called MHorton (or whoever you were referencing) a jackass in comment [64]. Go look it at. It's in YOUR comment, not mine.

    I DID call you passive-aggressive though, and evasive and speculated you might be a Michale sock-puppet. I used the words "abusive" because I think Michale IS abusive and you enable him.

    Meanwhile you have impugned my sense of humor and mental health AND speculated I might be a Michale sock-puppet. And our exchanges started because you felt compelled to lecture me about my "inhumanity".

    You assert my comparison between enabling Michale with other codependent behaviors is "absurd on its face" -- which is yet another evasion. It is the first time you've actually referenced the point, however.

    WHY is it absurd? That is what I want to know. If you're so confident in your dismissal then surely you can muster a paragraph to enlighten me.

    I'll help you. Here's my premise: Enabling, just to be clear, means assisting someone in continuing unhealthy/bad behaviors by protecting them from consequences. Why does that NOT apply to your treatment of Michale? How is it "absurd"?

    [86] MHorton: I AM being accusatory. I don't think I'm paranoid however. But no doubt I'm biased.

    This: The subject being spoken about is irrelevant. If someone consistently lies, you should call them out on those lies. That's a requirement of maintaining an honest and fair society. is spot on.

  86. [86] 
    Paula wrote:

    Elizabeth: I've never really been an Eagles Fan, but ok. Take it Easy, aye?

    I would like your response to the same question I have been relentlessly posing to Joshua.

    Here's my premise: Enabling, just to be clear, means assisting someone in continuing unhealthy/bad behaviors by protecting them from consequences. Why does that NOT apply to your treatment of Michale?

    I don't really expect you to answer, but if you actually thought about the question and provided a genuine response, it might be interesting. Even persuasive.

  87. [87] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    I've never really been an Eagles Fan

    Shocking. Positively shocking.

  88. [88] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    A few points, if I may, before I get to your questions ...

    Obsessive behavior can be very unhealthy, number one; and, number two, this is just a blog - the very best blog there is, to be clear - but, just a blog, nevertheless and it doesn't make any sense whatsoever to get all hyper over individual commenters who are a part of this blog and have been for a lot longer than most who contribute here.

    There are so many pressing and critical issues to comment on to be spending any time at all in the pettiness of condemning and accusing fellow commenters. There is nothing more boring than that.

    So, take it easy, girl, and try not to find insults in every single comment like they're going out of style. It is quite unbecoming.

    Which reminds me ... I wanted to enlighten you as to what's up with my occasional and ironic 'Are you a girl?' refrain.

    That is simply my way of calling out the constant habit of flippantly accusing others of ad hominem attacks and of feeling personally insulted at the drop of a hat. This is a political blog, you know ... not exactly a contact sport but not for the feint of heart, either.

    It really harkens back to a time when Bill Maher blamed the 'feminization of America' for many of the truly idiotic things people say and do. While I wholeheartedly agreed with the sentiment behind that phrase I had a real problem (well, not really ... heh) with his use of the term 'feminization' because the female sex wasn't the cause of ALL of the sensitivity or even most of it ... and so I suggested a different phrase might be more appropriate: the hypersensitization of America. Nowadays, just to be funny, I ask if an anonymous poster is a girl when they demonstrate an inordinate level of hypersensitivity in, of all places, a political blog. Ahem.

    So, no, I don't hate other women. I don't hate anyone. That just isn't in my nature. I do, however, reserve some ridicule for little girls masquerading as women - in a reality-based political blog, no less!

  89. [89] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    MHorton [22] -

    I get what you're saying, but it reminded me of the best geopolitical prophesy I've ever read, from the 1830s:

    There are now two great nations in the world which, starting from different points, seem to be advancing toward the same goal: the Russians and the Anglo-Americans.

    Both have grown in obscurity, and while the world’s attention was occupied elsewhere, they have suddenly taken their place among the leading nations, making the world take note of their birth and of their greatness almost at the same instant.

    All other peoples seem to have nearly reached their natural limits and to need nothing but to preserve them; but these two are growing. All the others have halted or advanced only through great exertions; they alone march easily and quickly forward along a path whose end no eye can yet see.

    The American fights against natural obstacles; the Russian is at grips with men. The former combats the wilderness and barbarism; the latter, civilization with all its arms. America’s conquests are made with the plowshare, Russia’s with the sword.

    To attain their aims, the former relies on personal interest and gives free scope to the unguided strength and common sense of individuals.

    The latter in a sense concentrates the whole power of society in one man.

    One has freedom as the principal means of action; the other has servitude.

    Their point of departure is different and their paths diverse; nevertheless, each seems called by some secret design of Providence one day to hold in its hands the destinies of half the world.

    From "Democracy In America" by Alexis de Tocqueville. That's pretty good, predicting the Cold War before the US Civil War was even fought, you have to admit...


  90. [90] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    TheStig [34] -

    The best thing that can be said of this speech is that it was 99.44% Trump free. That's what his Presidency needs at this juncture, so congratulations to whoever, or whoevers, is/are twisting his arms.

    Yeah, amen to that.

    I think the biggest motivation behind Trump's speech (and particularly its timing) was political. It was time for Trump to appear presidential, so they sent him up there to attempt it. There was no real new policy, but that has never stopped him from giving a speech, has it?

    Kick [45] -

    Yeah, I heard that about the miniskirts, and thought almost the same thing.

    Nice Kipling quote, too, BTW!


    DonHarris [46] -

    Sounds similar to Kucinich's idea for a Department of Peace, which would essentially be a "rebuild a country after we go to war with it, or after other disasters." I always thought that was a sane idea that had no actual chance of becoming reality. We do these things on an ad hoc basis, every single time. What a waste...

    John M [65] -

    Your point #6 is an interesting one that I've never heard before. It certainly is food for thought.

    MHorton [72] -

    France also had (when I lived there, back in the early 90s) mandatory service for all, but not necessarily military. Seemed to work OK, but there were a lot of waivers given, as I recall. But the inherent idea is an interesting one, as long as non-military service options are provided. But I'd agree with keeping the Peace Corps volunteer, too.

    TheStig... OK, lemme go check the filter, sorry...


  91. [91] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Now, as to my "treatment of Michale", as you put it ...

    Actually, I truly do not understand what you mean by that and what it is that you are implying about my interactions with Michale.

    Anyone who has read any of my exchanges with him will tell you that I can get extremely frustrated with his tactics and that frustration has boiled over on more than one occasion of late.

    But, this is a political blog, for God's sake. We should all be adult enough to deal with each other's antics and not let those antics obsessively become the center of attention.

    If you don't like the way a conversation is heading, change it! Or, alternatively, end it and move on.

  92. [92] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    TheStig [72] -

    OK, I couldn't find it. If I haven't already freed it, I think it got eaten, sorry...

    As for the Eagles, my favorite Eagles song isn't even an Eagles song (just Don Henley)... "Dirty Laundry".

    Looked for a YouTube link but couldn't find a decent one...

    As for everyone else, please take a deep breath and look deeply into today's world map for the answer to life, the universe, and everything (spoiler: it's not "42").



  93. [93] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    Re. My 'end of conversation' quip.

    I'm in retail (low level) management and that little conversation ending quip goes back about 10 years or so when I was having a conversation with a customer that started going sideways.

    There came a point when I needed to, well, end the conversation and so I just said to the chatty customer, "End of conversation!" My assistant and I still to this day share a chuckle - make that hysterical laughter - about my great attitude in how to handle raucous visitors to our friendly boutique. Heh.

  94. [94] 
    altohone wrote:


    An apology comes across as more sincere if you don't reiterate the silly insult as a lingering possibility.

    The structure of my arguments?
    I'd need an example to know what you mean exactly.
    But if anything, you've got it backwards.
    The trumpling has a strong tendency to mimic those who attack him effectively... I think he thinks he's being clever.

    You may also be thinking about the litany of attacks on the woman who was so horrible at politics that she lost to Trump... attacks which were honed by the left and usurped by the right because Repubs are seriously lacking in imagination, and they were the only supportable arguments in a playbook otherwise filled with nonsense.

    It's cause and effect, but you're pointing the finger in the wrong direction.

    I also like to use movie quotes from time to time, but that's a habit I picked up before the internet existed, and mine are relevant and non-repetitive.

    As for Democrats, I can understand why you might think that, but my ferocity is consistently and solely directed at the subset who have dragged the party to the right and those who support, defend or deny that move.
    And at times, you're one of them, so it only makes sense that you react negatively.
    I didn't leave the party, the party left me.
    But on most issues and policies, most Dems have more in common with me than with the party leadership, so it is a gross mischaracterization to claim that I hate Democrats.

    If you want my vote and help in winning elections again, all you need to do is stop treating FDR Democrats as the enemy, and abandon the corrupt politicians and their neoliberalism that has failed both the people and the party.

    As far as I can tell, you're still hung up on attacking the mythical Bernie bros, and still in denial about the lies the neoliberals peddle... which, btw, provides an interesting context for your current rant about the resident trumpling liar and those who enable him...

    ... yes, I'm comparing you to Liz and nypoet and laughing at your inability to "wrap your head around it".


  95. [95] 
    MHorton wrote:


    Ha! To think you and I used to be the standards of partisanship.

    Eisenhower Republican here!

  96. [96] 
    MHorton wrote:



    And now we're closer to eachother than to either party really.

    Says alot about the state of partisanship.

  97. [97] 
    MHorton wrote:

    [93] Well, hell. I hate being that wrong.

    Okay, it was VIRTUALLY impossible for anyone to predict things from the state of affairs back then.

  98. [98] 
    ListenWhenYouHear wrote:


    [62] the Stig called nypoet22 a jackass. [64] nypoet22 returns the compliment.


  99. [99] 
    Kick wrote:


    What did I miss? :)

  100. [100] 
    nypoet22 wrote:


    just the usual silliness, with a hefty dose of personal insult.


  101. [101] 
    Michale wrote:

    Jeessus H Christ....

    Almost TWENTY mentions of me!!

    Paula herself has like 15 of them...

    How can I move on if you people won't let me go!??

  102. [102] 
    Kick wrote:


    just the usual silliness, with a hefty dose of personal insult.

    Y'all do know a "jackass" is a male donkey, right? I saw it being bandied about, but I just figured it was a discussion about Party ideology. ;)

  103. [103] 
    Paula wrote:

    [95] Elizabeth: Actually, I truly do not understand what you mean by that and what it is that you are implying about my interactions with Michale.

    Ok, you at least touched on the question I posed, although you don't "understand it". Certainly you give Michale a hard time occasionally -- I absolutely give you that. But you also consistently treat his entries as though they are legitimate and worth discussion, even though you know by now that they are, or will inevitably devolve into, rote rightwing trolling. And none of your admonishments or attempts to reason with him ever change that. It's like thinking because 45 read a speech without active drooling on Monday means he's pivoted. By Tuesday night he's back in full horrible form, because that's who he is.

    So I am making the comparison between your encouragement of this unrepentant and incorrigible troll to enabling. Enabling: assisting someone in continuing unhealthy/bad behaviors by protecting them from consequences.

    When you act like Michale isn't serious about his nonsense, or that his continual dishonesty is trivial or amusing, you are telling him lying is fine, spreading misinformation is an acceptable activity, etc. You are encouraging him to continue his bad behavior by legitimizing it. You are protecting him from consequences by telling everyone else THEY should overlook/minimize, etc. WE should "suffer" (yes, its hyperbole) so that Michale can feel accepted. And BY protecting him, by trying to soften or limit the pushback to him you extend the amount of time he will continue to serve up lies and misinformation. He enjoys doing it and you help him enjoy it, so he has no incentive to question his behavior.

    Its not a hard concept.

    And the reason I am continuing to make the point is because you and Joshua are so bent on avoiding it. That in itself is interesting.

  104. [104] 
    Paula wrote:

    [102] Listen: thanks for clearing that up for me.

  105. [105] 
    Paula wrote:

    I am also pushing the concept because I think its a question many Americans are struggling with, which is how to deal with the people around them who have become like Michale: so steeped in propaganda they literally can't tell fact from fiction anymore.

    And that is NOT hyperbole.

    Numerous studies have shown FOX News people believe a number of objectively false things. They elected a pathological liar. There are consequences to legitimizing dishonesty.

    How do you cease legitimizing dishonesty? For one thing you recognize when you're doing it and stop.

  106. [106] 
    Paula wrote:

    [98] Altohone: If you want my vote and help in winning elections again, all you need to do is stop treating FDR Democrats as the enemy, and abandon the corrupt politicians and their neoliberalism that has failed both the people and the party.

    I will not be blackmailed.

    I don't treat FDR Dems as the enemy and I challenge you to find a single example of my doing so.

    What you do is up to you, not me. Its not my job to "entice" you. If you are stupid enough or self-righteous enough or nihilistic enough to vote to keep 45/GOP and nazis in power, shame on you.

    You can work to promote "FDR Democratic" values in a positive way or you can sit around dissing every Dem you think fails to meet your standards now or sometime in the last 50 years. If the former, good for you. If the latter, I'm not interested.

  107. [107] 
    Paula wrote:

    I AM an FDR Dem.

  108. [108] 
    John M wrote:

    altohone [77]

    "Comparisons of staying in Afghanistan to our 70 years in Germany or Japan are just stupid.
    They weren't fighting us."

    I don't think it was stupid at all. I think the comparison is very apt. In fact, it was a VERY CLOSE thing.

    If it were not for very specific instructions from the Emperor on how to behave, Americans could have faced a low level insurgency against the occupation forces in Japan for many, many years that would have been little different from what we see in Afghanistan today.

    My point was also, who would have foreseen that in 1945 that 70 years later that what amounted to our original occupation forces would still be in both Germany and Japan?

    The appellation of "you broke it you own it for however long it takes to fix it" is still apt also.

    Or as Subcommander T’Pol told Captain Archer on Enterprise: “The Vulcans stayed to help Earth ninety years ago. We’re still there.”

  109. [109] 
    John M wrote:

    Chris Weigant [94]

    "John M [65] -

    Your point #6 is an interesting one that I've never heard before. It certainly is food for thought."

    If you are interested, you might want to specifically consider looking at and reading the following:

    "The Revenge of Geography" by Robert D. Kaplan

    Also pretty interesting is:

    "Prisoners of Geography" by Tim Marshall

  110. [110] 
    Paula wrote:

    [115] Don: And stating that we do not find a Big Money candidate acceptable and will not vote for them is not blackmail.

    Altohone is saying: "If you don't say every Democrat YOU support is shit because I don't like him/her/them I will withhold my vote, even if it means giving the Trumps of the world another term --" which is a threat.

    I'm not going to play that game on any level.

    To be clear: I didn't call Altohone stupid, self-righteous or nihilistic. I characterized the action of voting to benefit Trump/GOP out of spite against Dems to be self-righteous, stupid or nihilistic. And it would be.

    BTW, play around with pargraph spacing -- the preview now shows paragraphs. Do 2 returns!

  111. [111] 
    Paula wrote:


  112. [112] 
    nypoet22 wrote:


    not only do i know it, i know why the jackass became the democratic mascot.


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