Wednesday, March 17, 2010

War? What War? Oh Yeah... THAT War!

Meanwhile, the war continues.

As Richard Brautigan once wrote:

Someplace in the World a Man is Screaming in Pain

Someplace in the world
a woman is sitting
under a beautiful green tree,
and she is shelling peas,
and she is thinking only
of beautiful things,
like waterfalls or rainbows
or peas.

We need to stop shelling peas, and refocus. Although Obama promised a quick end to the war, we continue to do battle in Afghanistan. We cannot afford to be The World's Policemen right now. In fact, we never could afford it.

Bring our troops back to the USA, but keep them on payroll. Have them patrol the borders, instead. At least if they're in the USA, they can spend their money here and perhaps contribute some to our own economy.

And, there will be less soldiers screaming in pain.


Ed said...

Iraq was a mistake and we never should have gone in there. But I've always felt that we should have been in Afghanistan way more than we are now. I think it would be a mistake to give up now especially when we've lately been so successful with the Pakistanis to give up some of the top Al Queda leaders. But unlike the previous administration, I do feel we need a definite plan, goals and timelines to accomplish said task. If we don't, we might as well pull out now.

Ed said...

Number One Goal: Take out Osama bin Laden.

Gary Baker said...

I haven't heard a lot about what kind of chances our military has of winning in Afghanistan. As a former service man, I would like all of them out of harm's way, but not in such a way that would even give the appearance of defeat, retreat, or appeasement. That would kill morale. Hopefully there is a clearly defined mission and goals out there.

No matter what else happens though, I definitely would not like to see the military on border patrol. Law enforcement is a far different mission than defense, and one that most military people have little to no training in. (I used to be terrified in service school when I was assigned on base shore patrol. I was given a wooden nightstick and told not to use it unless I absolutely had to. That was it. )Every service member who got within fifty feet of an illegal would be up to their ears in lawsuits, and that would kill the rest of morale. I also believe in the policy of specifically prohibiting the military from law enforcement within the bounds of the US. Now, if congress were officially to declare us being "invaded" and established border defense as a war theater operation, that would make some difference, but I don't see it happening.

Three Score and Ten or more said...

Thank Heaven for Posse Comitatus (sp) which prohibits our armed forces from acting with the boundaries of the US (except in case of all out war) The National Guard is still suffering from it's assignment on the borders. Hurrah for Border Patrol (undrmanned and underfinanced but where they belong.

Scott said...

Canada too is in Afghanistan and I believe that an appropriate exit strategy needs to be developed to get out of there.

We did not participate in the Iraq war and I do not understand why the soldiers have yet to be pulled out. I also never understood why they were there in the first place, but I suspect that what Gary is saying is right, you have to leave in such a way that you have 'won' the war for morale purposes. I don't know if I agree with that idea, but i certainly understand it.
At some point the Iraqis and Afghans need to rebuild their countries on their own.
Make no mistake though, the US has CHOSEN to be the World's police, and it is not something that the rest of the world always wants. They are protecting economic interests abroad. That is pretty clear. I hope that diplomacy wins the day in the end, but I have my doubts.

Saur♥Kraut said...

Excellent points, everyone! I certainly agree with so much of what is said here, and I do see both sides. A few thoughts:

1. Why is staying in Afghanistan good for morale? Whose morale? And wouldn't it be more morale-boosting to get to come home and know you're not going to be cannon fodder?

2. If there are any true objectives in Afghanistan, other than "kill the bad guys", I don't know what they are. Are there bad guys? Yup! But there are bad guys everywhere. I fail to see how killing them there will help our cause here. Yes - I've heard the arguments that this is what's keeping them from going to Mexico, crossing the border into the states, and bombing the crap out of us. But the easier solution is to batten down the hatches, which brings me to...

3. Border Patrol. The Minuteman Project is a group of citizens who banded together because Border Patrol sux. Whether they're bribed to look the other way, or they're understaffed, or afraid to do much (since doing much at all has landed some of them in prison), Border Patrol is virtually impotent.

But even citizens aren't enough to patrol all the borders. And are we at war? Well... Congress said we were! And a great deal of our coastline is almost completely unguarded.

If we just bring the military home, we add to an already burgeoning unemployment rate. We can't afford to do that. On the other hand, we can't afford to make war anymore. So let's put them to use, and beef up the borders. They're not trained to do it? Then let's train them.

It will have the extra benefit of allowing our soldiers to see their families, keep them alive (barring any illegals attacking them), and give them a chance to spend money and put it back into the economy.

Let's truly stop illegal immigration, because there are many verified reports which indicate that terrorists are easily crossing the Mexican border along with your average law-breaking Mexican. And let's face it: Illegals are adding to our costs here - they cost us much more than they put into the system.

Ed said...

Scott - Just to clarify, I believe it is the US Government, namely the last half dozen presidents, who have deemed our country a global police force. All polls that I have seen on the beliefs of the American people, including mine, are quite to the contrary.

Saur - As I said in my second post, killing/capturing Osama bin Laden should be our top goal in Afghanistan. It is the initial reason we went into that country and without that, I don't believe we can claim any sort of victory or withdraw honorably.

Saur said...

Ed, But at what point do we say it's not feasible? I'm not saying Bin Laden is some godlike creature but, as my grandmother always said "The Devil takes care of his own."

That is, if Bin Laden is even still alive. Let's remember that there are some people who profit from the war and they certainly wouldn't want us to know that Bin Laden is dead.

Gary Baker said...


"Make no mistake though, the US has CHOSEN to be the World's police, and it is not something that the rest of the world always wants."

I agree completely. Mostly they want us to be the world's piggy bank. They only want us to be the world's police when there is a real chance of someone (other than Israelis) getting hurt. Then they send "support" which is a fancy word for a token force while they try to agree on one useless UN proclamation after another (not too stern, though).


Trust me on this - If you bring most of the troops home and things go back to the way they were with Afghanistan being a terrorist haven and training camp, morale will be worse. All the people who lost family and friends will consider it a sacrifice for nothing. I enlisted in the Navy in 1979 and the service still hadn't gotten over Vietnam and Korea. If you give the soldiers the idea that they are turning tail, you'll be sending a lot of angry, frustrated people home to spouses and children.

I guess we'll disagree on the soldiers on the border front, and that's fine. However it happens, I hope that somebody comes up with a realistic way to secure the borders. On the other hand, with our current great leadership in Washington, the problem may solve itself. By this time next year, the job prospects might be better in Mexico!

Ed said...

Saur - I don't think we can say it is not feasible to capture or kill Osama. I think that is one of the hazards of declaring war and pledging to not stop until he has been killed. If we do stop without him, I just can't see it being anything other than a retreat if not defeat.

Don't get me wrong, I think we are mired down over there and spending billions of dollars for the pleasure not to mention the over thousand lives of young soldiers who will never get to see their loved ones again. I think this is an excellent lesson that modern warfare is probably just not winnable. Even if we meet a stated objective, we still end up mired up to our necks in getting the country back on its feet in a correct manner.

Saur♥Kraut said...

Gary, You wrote All the people who lost family and friends will consider it a sacrifice for nothing.

I've heard the argument before and I understand what you're saying, but look at it from another perspective. If they're wrong, do we really need to have more troops die overseas to justify their feelings of loss? Perhaps some troops DID die for nothing, as horrible as that is to admit.

But surely you've heard the term "throwing good money after bad". It means that you don't keep re-investing in a bad investment.

But do feel free to disagree with me. I wouldn't want everyone to agree with me all the time, and I appreciate your honesty.

Ed, Thanks for the clarification. ;o)

Gary Baker said...


I think we are a lot more in agreement than not on this subject. The major point of contention is when does it become "throwing good money after bad." I am certainly not in favor of throwing more service people into a hopeless situation. Ideally, we wouldn't get into that kind of situation to begin with, but those decisions are made politically. It really is a tough call. I'm sure that there were people on both sides of every major conflict that said the situation was hopeless. I guess what it comes down to is who you believe when they say it can or cannot turn out well.