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Old 1st December 2018, 11:39 AM   #1
Giordano
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Afghanistan war "disappeared" by USA politicians?

It has struck me that (1) the situation in Afghanistan has continued to relentlessly deteriorate over the past year (2) but it has become less and less an issue ever mentioned by USA politicians and (3) less and less frequently covered by the USA news media and political blogs.

The Taliban ever more rapidly has been regaining territory and power. They now control more territory (~55%!) than at any other time since 2001, civilians deaths are rising quickly, the Afghan Defense Forces are struggling to maintain their numbers and morale, and the Taliban attacks have become more audacious (https://www.cnn.com/2018/11/01/middl...ntl/index.html). One example of the last: the recent attack that killed the powerful police chief of Kandahar province and wounded Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Smiley, the overseer of the NATO military advisory mission in Afghanistan. The commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan. Gen. Scott Miller narrowly escaped without serious injuries. This is quite amazing to me - a successful Taliban strike at the very highest levels of the USA/Afghanistan command structure within what was thought to be a highly secure area.

Although from time to time a "human interest" connection results in an event in Afghanistan making the USA news (such as the killing of Brett Taylor, a popular Utah mayor who deployed to Afghanistan as part of the National Guard), for the most part the events in Afghanistan just are no longer spoken of much, either in the news or by USA politicians.

This is in contrast to prior to and ramping up to the 2016 election, during which there was a relentless use of the bad news coming from Afghanistan by leading Republicans and the right wing media to attack the Obama administration/Democrats as weak and unable to protect the USA from "the Islamic terror threat."

Now that Trump is in power I guess this is no longer a problem and as far as the Republicans as concerned it has all gone away I add that I believe the silence from the Democrats is that they too simply want it to all go away. Neither side has a solution and neither now see this issue as anything but a political nightmare for them, so the best strategy is to not bring it up.

Too bad if you are Afghanistani, right? And how long until the Taliban become powerful and confident enough to directly threaten USA interests again?
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Old 1st December 2018, 01:50 PM   #2
The Shrike
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Originally Posted by Giordano View Post
And how long until the Taliban become powerful and confident enough to directly threaten USA interests again?
Our US interests include our troops so we're already there.

I don't see how the Taliban can be defeated. They just melt into the background and wait you out. You set a timeline for withdrawal and they just wait. You set no timeline and they wait. Meanwhile they pop up when and where they like to cause mayhem, inflict casualties, etc.
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Old 1st December 2018, 02:02 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by The Shrike View Post
I don't see how the Taliban can be defeated. They just melt into the background and wait you out. You set a timeline for withdrawal and they just wait. You set no timeline and they wait. Meanwhile they pop up when and where they like to cause mayhem, inflict casualties, etc.
Like a lot of modern insurgencies, the Taliban are probably reliant upon external sponsors for resources. Topple those sponsors, and they will likely collapse.

But that would require invading Pakistan and possibly even Iran. That's an undertaking at a scale we're probably not willing to do, and not without reason. Short of that, though, you may be right: we may not be able to defeat the Taliban.
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Old 1st December 2018, 06:22 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Ziggurat View Post
Like a lot of modern insurgencies, the Taliban are probably reliant upon external sponsors for resources. Topple those sponsors, and they will likely collapse.

But that would require invading Pakistan and possibly even Iran. That's an undertaking at a scale we're probably not willing to do, and not without reason. Short of that, though, you may be right: we may not be able to defeat the Taliban.
Probably not Iran, the Taliban are Sunni, they came out of the Madrassas created during the Soviet Occupation, sponsored by the Saudis. They have a strong mix of traditional Afghani Islam with that of the more strict Wahhabism from Saudi Arabia.

Iran are Shai. The two sides hate each other more than the Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland.
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Old 1st December 2018, 06:25 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Ziggurat View Post
Like a lot of modern insurgencies, the Taliban are probably reliant upon external sponsors for resources. Topple those sponsors, and they will likely collapse.

But that would require invading Pakistan and possibly even Iran. That's an undertaking at a scale we're probably not willing to do, and not without reason. Short of that, though, you may be right: we may not be able to defeat the Taliban.
Originally Posted by PhantomWolf View Post
Probably not Iran, the Taliban are Sunni, they came out of the Madrassas created during the Soviet Occupation, sponsored by the Saudis. They have a strong mix of traditional Afghani Islam with that of the more strict Wahhabism from Saudi Arabia.

Iran are Shai. The two sides hate each other more than the Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland.
Maybe Pakistan, but most definitely Saudi Arabia. If we don't take out the money source, we can't defeat the Taliban.
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Old 1st December 2018, 06:33 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Silly Green Monkey View Post
Maybe Pakistan, but most definitely Saudi Arabia. If we don't take out the money source, we can't defeat the Taliban.
Pakistan is far more important than Saudi Arabia. Money is the easy part. The harder part is supply lines, and those have to go through a neighboring country. Given that the Taliban's stronghold is southern Afghanistan, that means Pakistan or Iran.
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Old 1st December 2018, 06:35 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by PhantomWolf View Post
Probably not Iran, the Taliban are Sunni, they came out of the Madrassas created during the Soviet Occupation, sponsored by the Saudis. They have a strong mix of traditional Afghani Islam with that of the more strict Wahhabism from Saudi Arabia.

Iran are Shai. The two sides hate each other more than the Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland.
I think you underestimate the cynicism of the Iranians. Sure, they don't like Sunnis. But I think they'd be willing to help them in order to stick it to us. Kind of like how we helped the Soviets in WW2.
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Old 1st December 2018, 06:57 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Ziggurat View Post
I think you underestimate the cynicism of the Iranians. Sure, they don't like Sunnis. But I think they'd be willing to help them in order to stick it to us. Kind of like how we helped the Soviets in WW2.
The West wasn't enemies of the Soviets before or during WW2, it wasn't until they reneged on getting out of the places that they had taken from Germany, and the Warsaw blockade that the US/USSR relations really went south and the Cold War started. Prior to that relations were reasonable between the groups, the British even signed a mutual liason mission over East and West Germany with the Soviets in 1946 prior to the breakdown, which turned out to be quite handy for the Brits in allowing them to see what was going on in East Germany after the Iron Wall came down.

As to the Iranians, the reason they were so willing to go into Syria and fight ISIS was that they really did not want to have a Sunni Caliphate right on their doorstep, do you really think they would turn around and help to create a different Sunni Caliphate on their Northern Border?

Another thing to take into account is that when the Taliban had finished destroying the Resistance in the North, their plans were to turn south and invade Iran to remove the Shai Government there. This was only prevented by the US intervention in Afghanistan. Do you really believe that the Iranian Government would be so stupid as to reinstall a faction that is not only ideologically opposed to them, but was about to active start working towards their destruction? The last thing Iran wants is a Taliban lead Afghanistan.
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Old 1st December 2018, 07:31 PM   #9
theprestige
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Originally Posted by Giordano View Post
And how long until the Taliban become powerful and confident enough to directly threaten USA interests again?
Again?
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Old 1st December 2018, 08:12 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Giordano View Post
It has struck me that (1) the situation in Afghanistan has continued to relentlessly deteriorate over the past year (2) but it has become less and less an issue ever mentioned by USA politicians and (3) less and less frequently covered by the USA news media and political blogs.

-snip-

Several reasons.

Because Afghanistan doesn't fit into any worthwhile agenda or narrative for much of the media. Most Americans, perhaps due to the lack of coverage or perhaps not, don't care enough or don't know enough about it to care.

It's too complicated for us:
Kavanaugh circus - easy to follow.
Russia investigation - who are all these people? I can't keep track!
War in Afghanistan - where? We're still there?

If Trump had started the war I think there would be wall to wall coverage. The problem is that there isn't enough blame towards Trump so <shrug>.

The new "NAFTA" deal got almost zero coverage. What did get covered then was all the Reality Show crap people love to get angry about - Kavanaugh, racist restaurant managers, Civil War statues, and getting rid of Trump.

If it can't be blamed on Trump or white Americans (Trump is white America's fault which is why the "racism" stories are so important) then it isn't important right now.
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Old 1st December 2018, 08:56 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by mgidm86 View Post
Several reasons.

Because Afghanistan doesn't fit into any worthwhile agenda or narrative for much of the media. Most Americans, perhaps due to the lack of coverage or perhaps not, don't care enough or don't know enough about it to care.

It's too complicated for us:
Kavanaugh circus - easy to follow.
Russia investigation - who are all these people? I can't keep track!
War in Afghanistan - where? We're still there?

If Trump had started the war I think there would be wall to wall coverage. The problem is that there isn't enough blame towards Trump so <shrug>.

The new "NAFTA" deal got almost zero coverage. What did get covered then was all the Reality Show crap people love to get angry about - Kavanaugh, racist restaurant managers, Civil War statues, and getting rid of Trump.

If it can't be blamed on Trump or white Americans (Trump is white America's fault which is why the "racism" stories are so important) then it isn't important right now.
Wow, this entire post is dripping with caucasian, Trump and Trumpist victimization narrative. Feeling sad and hurt?
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Old 1st December 2018, 10:36 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by The Shrike View Post
Our US interests include our troops so we're already there.

I don't see how the Taliban can be defeated. They just melt into the background and wait you out. You set a timeline for withdrawal and they just wait. You set no timeline and they wait. Meanwhile they pop up when and where they like to cause mayhem, inflict casualties, etc.
There's a saying in Afghanistan (the so-called "graveyard of empires"): "The invaders have the watches, but we have the time."
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Old 1st December 2018, 11:48 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by PhantomWolf View Post
The West wasn't enemies of the Soviets before or during WW2,
Of course we were. Communist ideology was intrinsically hostile to western democracy and free markets. And Stalin started out as Hitlerís ally.

Quote:
As to the Iranians, the reason they were so willing to go into Syria and fight ISIS was that they really did not want to have a Sunni Caliphate right on their doorstep, do you really think they would turn around and help to create a different Sunni Caliphate on their Northern Border?
Rather than have a US ally there? Yes. And they donít need to get them to win, just help enough to keep us from winning.

Quote:
Another thing to take into account is that when the Taliban had finished destroying the Resistance in the North, their plans were to turn south and invade Iran to remove the Shai Government there.
Then they were delusional. Iran is far stronger than the northern alliance.
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Old 2nd December 2018, 02:35 AM   #14
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The Pentagon has long given up on pacifying Afghanistan and is now only interested in preventing it from becoming a secure haven for Islamic terrorists.
That is why the longest war in US history is likely to continue for much longer.
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Old 2nd December 2018, 03:46 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Ziggurat View Post
Of course we were. Communist ideology was intrinsically hostile to western democracy and free markets. And Stalin started out as Hitler’s ally.
I think you need to recheck your history.

When the Bolshevik revolution occurred, the US had troops stationed in Russia and Siberia help against the Japanese invasion. There was cooperation between the two until Lenin withdrew from WW1 to concentrate on solidifying his control in the new USSR. This and the failure to pay up for nationalizing several US businesses did cause frosty relations between the US and the USSR for some time, but after WW1, Europe would re-cement relations with them and by the late 1920's the US had also re-established trade, with some US companies reopened businesses in the USSR, including the Ford Motor Company. In 1933 the US formally recognised the USSR, and they tried to establish closer ties, though most of it was thwarted by slow progress and what was about to happen in Europe 6 years later.

The USSR was never an Ally of Nazi Germany, what they did have was a Non-Aggression Pact and an agreement to split Poland, with the USSR wanting to expand to take Northern Europe and Scandinavia, and Germany wanting to restore Greater Germany, and then take over the USSR. Germany broke the non-aggression pact shortly after, causing the USSR to ally with the Western Forces.

Quote:
Rather than have a US ally there? Yes. And they don’t need to get them to win, just help enough to keep us from winning.
This is coming from a USA-centric mind. Iran doesn't give a toss about the USA, unless it gets in Iran's business. You know why Iran doesn't like the US? Because in 1953 the US and UK backed a Coup in Iran ousting the legal government and reinstalling the Shah as what many Iranians saw as being their puppet leader.

It didn't help matters when as things started to fall apart in 1978, the Shah turned on the UK and US, blaming them for the unrest and revolution, something that fell on willing ears because of their actions in 1953.

To most Iranians, the US is a boogyman that is constantly trying to interfere in their country, and to some degree that reputation is well deserved, and to some degree it is because it is what their leaders tell them. The truth of the matter is though, that if the US would keep to itself, then they'd have nothing to fear from Iran. The entire mes is nothing but scaremongering over old Cold War issues, most of which the US brought on itself by its own continuous actions against Iran that have never been responded to.

Iran had no issues with the new Iraq Shia Government getting US aid and they even helped the Shia Militants in fighting the Sunni Militants to help Iraqi's secure their own neighbourhoods when the US had left them defenseless. There is no reason that they would not be willing to put up with another neighbour that had relations with the US, just as they do with Pakistan and the new Iraqi Government.

Quote:
Then they were delusional. Iran is far stronger than the northern alliance.
They are a band of religious zealots who think that God is going to provide them victory over all enemies, of course they are delusional!
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Old 2nd December 2018, 09:07 AM   #16
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The simplest proof that you are wrong about Iran is that they have already done what you said they would never do. They have already given aid to the Taliban.
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Old 2nd December 2018, 10:02 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by Ziggurat View Post
I think you underestimate the cynicism of the Iranians. Sure, they don't like Sunnis. But I think they'd be willing to help them in order to stick it to us.Kind of like how we helped the Soviets in WW2.
Well, not willingly.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angl...vasion_of_Iran
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Old 2nd December 2018, 11:03 AM   #18
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Personally I fully agree that there is little or nothing the USA can do to counter the Taliban in Afghanistan. Virtually the entire history of Afghanistan demonstrates the futility of attempts by outside forces to impose themselves on that country and society. Us propping up yet another unpopular, corrupt government has only strengthened the appeal of the Taliban. Interestingly the resurgence of the Taliban has probably been a plus for the USA given that they have routed the even more extreme ISIS from control of northern Afghanistan.

In many ways the equivalent of Nixon's "Vietnamization" strategy is probably the best option for the USA at this point: quietly bugging out - um I mean training the Afghan government forces and then handing over the war to them (even knowing that they are doomed to fail). It will be a horror for many of those in Afghanistan who trusted and supported us (and who are not wealthy enough to escape to their villas in Switzerland), but this is not the first time that USA foreign policy has resulted in such an outcome. It will also mean accepting that there is no hope for the development of a secular, politically and religiously diverse, open society in that country, but such an outcome was probably never possible.

However the reason I began this OP in USA Politics is that I am more interested in how suddenly the meme that was repeatedly sold to the American public, that defeating the Taliban in Afghanistan is absolutely central to the defense of the USA against terrorism, has now largely disappeared from the political discourse after the 2016 election of Trump. For many months and years Afghanistan dominated the headlines. The Taliban were our boggy men. Trump ran on the theme that Obama had failed and he, a "strong" leader would achieve success. Trump repeated those claims immediately after his election and made changes in the DoD, the Cabinet, and the military command that he loudly claimed would achieve that goal. In fact Trump reversed the Obama strategy of decreasing the number of USA troops/advisors in Afghanistan. But now, as the Taliban continues on a roll, there is mostly silence from him, from his Republican and rightwing enablers, from the Democrats too, and even most news media. Even as Americans continue to die there (let alone Afghanistanis).

The politicians are probably correct - let the issue quietly die so we can now bug out. But it still amazes me that once again the American public was sold a huge and expensive bill of goods, many tens of thousands of Americans are sent to war and many die as a result, elections and crucial political decisions are shaped by it, only to have the issue placed on ignore once no longer useful as a political football. It is amazing what this says about the cynicism of the American political system, as well as the short memory and fickle nature of the American public.

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Old 2nd December 2018, 11:08 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
Again?
I presume you mean they already threaten American interests now? Okay, "Threaten American interests even more..."
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Old 2nd December 2018, 01:39 PM   #20
theprestige
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Originally Posted by Giordano View Post
I presume you mean they already threaten American interests now? Okay, "Threaten American interests even more..."
The Taliban are not, and never have been, in a position to directly threaten American interests.
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Old 2nd December 2018, 02:03 PM   #21
Giordano
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
The Taliban are not, and never have been, in a position to directly threaten American interests.
And when they hosted Osama Ben Laden and provided him a protected platform and location to build his organization, to launch the terrorist attacks on Americans, including 9/11, and to escape thereafter? Not to mention an ideologically highly supportive environment and propaganda for recruitment and training, as well as material support. All only indirect threats I guess...
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Old 2nd December 2018, 02:16 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by Giordano View Post
I presume you mean they already threaten American interests now? Okay, "Threaten American interests even more..."
I think what is meant is that the Taliban never threatened US interests. The Taliban were not responsible for 9/11. Bin Laden may have been resident in Afghanistan for a time (including when he operated with the CIA), in addition to Saudi, Sudan and Pakistan; but he was not a Taliban agent. He was a local hero who had been important in driving the communists out of Afghanistan.

The US was understandably in a hurry to take revenge for 9/11, it is possible with a little patience the Taliban government could have been persuaded to expel Bin Laden. The Taliban were the de facto government of Afghanistan, they were overthrown by the US invasion, since that time they have been fighting a war of resistance against the foreign invasion forces and their puppet government (as some would argue). Any future Taliban government would be likely to focus on Afghanistan, and would not have sufficient resources to be an existential thereat to the US. The biggest danger of a future terrorist organisation in Afghanistan will be from the inability of any Afghanistan government to fully police the country, and the Saudi - Pakistan axis.

I suspect in future historians will see the Afghan invasion and the Iraq invasion as poor political decisions. The danger of having military power is the desire to use military power. Whether without the distraction of the Iraq invasion the US and allies could have achieved complete control in Afghanistan is uncertain, but now the best that can be done is a quiet withdrawal. Air supremacy can prevent the Taliban directly taking power but cannot prevent the ideology. Probably the safest option for the US would be a Sadam Hussein style military dictatorship. With exception of Iran and India none of Afghanistan's neighbours could be regarded as stable democracies, and all might prefer a military hard man.
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Old 2nd December 2018, 02:21 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by Giordano View Post
And when they hosted Osama Ben Laden and provided him a protected platform and location to build his organization, to launch the terrorist attacks on Americans, including 9/11, and to escape thereafter? Not to mention an ideologically highly supportive environment and propaganda for recruitment and training, as well as material support. All only indirect threats I guess...
I think most of Osama's recruits were Arab not Afghansitani, his ideology was primarily Saudi inspired, resources were from Saudi, Pakistan etc. Afghanistan did everyone a favour by taking OBL when he was thrown out of Sudan and Saudi and other countries refused to take him.

ETA

His organisation was originally developed in Afghanistan when he worked with the CIA to overthrow the Russians, he then left and he and his organisation went to Sudan, (and Saudi). He offered to fight alongside the Saudis to overthrow Sadam Hussein when he invaded Kuwait. It was only after the US military moved into Saudi Arabia (and failed to leave after the first Iraq war), that he became anti US. His anti-US policy had been developed before he left Sudan and re-entered Afghanistan.

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Old 2nd December 2018, 03:06 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by Ziggurat View Post
I think you underestimate the cynicism of the Iranians. Sure, they don't like Sunnis. But I think they'd be willing to help them in order to stick it to us. Kind of like how we helped the Soviets in WW2.
What kind of garbage is this? Iran may be cynical and the Iranian regime is relentlessly hostile to the US, Israel, and the Sunni Gulf monarchies, but they're not stupid - they don't and won't support people who murder Shiite Muslims en masse, unlike the supposed US "ally" Saudi Arabia, for example.

Last edited by Allen773; 2nd December 2018 at 03:11 PM.
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Old 2nd December 2018, 03:08 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by The Great Zaganza View Post
The Pentagon has long given up on pacifying Afghanistan and is now only interested in preventing it from becoming a secure haven for Islamic terrorists.
That is why the longest war in US history is likely to continue for much longer.
In that case the US should sever relations with Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and other sponsors of the Islamic extremists in Afghanistan (and elsewhere).
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Old 2nd December 2018, 03:40 PM   #26
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Originally Posted by Planigale View Post
I suspect in future historians will see the Afghan invasion and the Iraq invasion as poor political decisions.
Future? Not saying you're doing this, but I'm often amazed by otherwise level-headed people who credit G.W. Bush for his post-9/11 actions. Let's see:
  • He went to Ground Zero and said some unifying, inspirational things. (Okay, well what did you expect a POTUS to do, rock in a corner and wet himself?)
  • He told us to go shopping.
  • He started two wars, one of which might have been a legitimate attempt to rout the buttmunches who attacked on 9/11, but the other was a complete fabrication.
  • Blew a surplus into the greatest recession since the Great Depression by cutting taxes while waging two costly wars.

I'd trade Trump for W in a heartbeat, but make no mistake that this Afghan cluster is his legacy.
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Old 2nd December 2018, 03:48 PM   #27
Ziggurat
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Originally Posted by Allen773 View Post
What kind of garbage is this? Iran may be cynical and the Iranian regime is relentlessly hostile to the US, Israel, and the Sunni Gulf monarchies, but they're not stupid - they don't and won't support people who murder Shiite Muslims en masse, unlike the supposed US "ally" Saudi Arabia, for example.
Iran has already provided support to the Taliban, so this is obviously not a correct understanding of their position.
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Old 2nd December 2018, 05:31 PM   #28
Allen773
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Originally Posted by Ziggurat View Post
Iran has already provided support to the Taliban, so this is obviously not a correct understanding of their position.
Source?

EDIT: Ah, nevermind. Did a Google Search, found some articles. You’re correct: Iran has indeed provided support to the Taliban in Afghanistan- but it looks like a lot of the rationale is that the Taliban are fighting ISIS’s affiliate in Afghanistan (certainly a bigger threat to Iran and its majority Shia population!) combined with the resurgence of the Taliban and its allies in Afghanistan since the mid-2000s, making them unfortunately a now indispensable part of any political settlement in the country (Iran, like any other country, doesn’t want hostile forces on any of its borders; getting along with the governments - or dominant forces, at least - in Iraq, Afghanistan, and even Pakistan would obviously help their regional interests).

Not sure what this has to do with “sticking it to the USA” - at least, necessarily.

Last edited by Allen773; 2nd December 2018 at 05:44 PM.
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