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1 jvic  Mon, Dec 30, 2013 12:06:21pm

IMHO American exceptionalism, to the extent that it exists, is a byproduct, not a goal.

When our zeitgeist is focused on providing opportunity and fairness to the ordinary public, the US is indeed exceptional, as people have demonstrated throughout our history by voting with their feet to come here. When American society starts preening—-moving past patriotism to nationalism and chauvinism—-, it’s a bad sign. When American society views its position in the world—-partly its doing, partly the result of good fortune—-as God-given, an entitlement, or a state of nature, that’s a very ominous sign. As you say, hubris invites nemesis

2 Political Atheist  Mon, Dec 30, 2013 4:45:32pm

I disagree with a lot of the premise of the article. Afghanistan was never ours to win or lose. We smashed Al Qaeda and the Taliban there. We can again if needed, heaven forbid. The fact the Taliban found places to hide and recover among the Afghan and Pakistani tribes people says far and away more about them than it does us.

The fact we tried to nation build (among many others) is an example of exceptional behavior. Positive actions that may prevail or fail. Should we not have tried? Perhaps if that defines our hubris. To provide an opportunity for self determination for a developing nation.

What we lost was our own exceptionally high goals. Build another democracy in the region. That is what failed. But we have partners in that loss. The UN. The Afghan government. NGO’s. This loss is no orphan.

3 Dark_Falcon  Mon, Dec 30, 2013 7:16:47pm

re: #2 Political Atheist

I disagree with a lot of the premise of the article. Afghanistan was never ours to win or lose. We smashed Al Qaeda and the Taliban there. We can again if needed, heaven forbid. The fact the Taliban found places to hide and recover among the Afghan and Pakistani tribes people says far and away more about them than it does us.

The fact we tried to nation build (among many others) is an example of exceptional behavior. Positive actions that may prevail or fail. Should we not have tried? Perhaps if that defines our hubris. To provide an opportunity for self determination for a developing nation.

What we lost was our own exceptionally high goals. Build another democracy in the region. That is what failed. But we have partners in that loss. The UN. The Afghan government. NGO’s. This loss is no orphan.

Exactly. We’ve given Afghanistan as good a chance as it can be given. If that chance ends up being squandered because of cultural and political problems in Afghanistan, then that’s not mostly on us.

Moreover, I’d ask the author: “Should we have just killed Taliban members wholesale and left?” We couldn’t do nothing after 9/11, we had to act. What does the author think we should have done.

4 EiMitch  Tue, Dec 31, 2013 2:52:15pm
5 EiMitch  Tue, Dec 31, 2013 4:41:23pm

re: #2 Political Atheist

re: #3 Dark_Falcon

I was in a hurry before, but I’ve got time now to point out how we screwed-up big in Afghanistan.

After we removed the Taliban from power, we promised to help Afghanistan rebuild. But those resources didn’t come, because long-story-short: Iraq. We spent our resources on nation-building in Iraq while Afghanistan got squat. The drug crops that financed insurgents were pretty much the economic basis for many Afghan communities. Our troops wouldn’t torch the drug fields for fear of starving the farmers.

We had a chance to help them build an economy not dependent on our enemies nor drugs. Now its too late. We returned our attention to Afghanistan after we no longer had enough credibility there to get things done.

We had the chance, we knew what to do back then, and we blew it. Therefore, Afghanistan’s problems are mostly on us.

6 Dark_Falcon  Tue, Dec 31, 2013 6:15:10pm

re: #5 EiMitch

I was in a hurry before, but I’ve got time now to point out how we screwed-up big in Afghanistan.

After we removed the Taliban from power, we promised to help Afghanistan rebuild. But those resources didn’t come, because long-story-short: Iraq. We spent our resources on nation-building in Iraq while Afghanistan got squat. The drug crops that financed insurgents were pretty much the economic basis for many Afghan communities. Our troops wouldn’t torch the drug fields for fear of starving the farmers.

We had a chance to help them build an economy not dependent on our enemies nor drugs. Now its too late. We returned our attention to Afghanistan after we no longer had enough credibility there to get things done.

We had the chance, we knew what to do back then, and we blew it. Therefore, Afghanistan’s problems are mostly on us.

Afghanistan got quite a good bit of reconstruction resources, but Iraq got the lion’s share for a number of reasons:

1. Iraq has a more urban, more concentrated population. it also has better-developed infrastructure and its own seaport. That made it much easier for equipment and supplies to reach Iraqis than Afghans.

2. Iraq has a larger population than Afghanistan. More people means more money needed.

3. Iraq’s population is more educated than Afghanistan’s and thus could make better use of aid when it was sent.

4. Iraq’s oil reserves give it economic importance that Afghanistan does not have. A functional Iraq is more important for the US than a functional Afghanistan.

Points 3 and 4 tie into famous Milton Friedman saying; “Them what has, gets.”

7 EiMitch  Wed, Jan 1, 2014 7:54:12am

re: #6 Dark_Falcon

Afghanistan got quite a good bit of reconstruction resources,

I will repeat that many Afghans took to growing drug crops for our enemies because they had no other options. So what exactly constitutes “a good bit” if not “enough to avoid being a narco state”?

1 - Iraq has better economic and trade infrastructure, yet you argue that they needed the money more than Afghanistan.

3 - So its Afghanistan’s own fault that we didn’t help them?

4 - Again, Iraq has more valuable resources, so they needed the money more than Afghanistan?

That its harder to economically develop Afghanistan is precisely why they needed far more help than they were given. Thats the point you seem to be missing. You’re practically saying “Afghanistan was already in squalor, so they didn’t matter to us. So we just didn’t bother for a decade because we preferred to go into Iraq and get that sommabitch Saddam instead. But that’s not our fault.”

Its that last part which compels me to call BS! Of course its our fault. We had a choice to make, and we made it. Its BS to just wash our hands and blame the victim.

8 Dark_Falcon  Wed, Jan 1, 2014 12:11:46pm

re: #7 EiMitch

No, I’m saying that sending to Iraq was easier, quicker, and is more likely to make a difference long-term. and even that’s iffy. Both nations true problem is not poverty, it’s corruption. Neither will truly move into modernity until they have relatively honest government.

9 EiMitch  Wed, Jan 1, 2014 1:50:33pm

re: #8 Dark_Falcon

Neither will truly move into modernity until they have relatively honest government.

And how are poor people forced to depend on warlords and their drugs supposed to do that?

We could’ve, and we should’ve, given those farmers some other crop to make ends meet. Such as wheat or some other food that’s typically in demand. And help build the infrastructure to make it economically viable. That would’ve gone a long way to stabilize the country.

Not to mention, we didn’t have to go into Iraq in the first place.

10 Dark_Falcon  Wed, Jan 1, 2014 3:19:16pm

re: #9 EiMitch

And how are poor people forced to depend on warlords and their drugs supposed to do that?

We could’ve, and we should’ve, given those farmers some other crop to make ends meet. Such as wheat or some other food that’s typically in demand. And help build the infrastructure to make it economically viable. That would’ve gone a long way to stabilize the country.

Not to mention, we didn’t have to go into Iraq in the first place.

We’ve tried that, we’ve been sending agriculture teams into Afghanistan for a decade. But the farmers in the south of that country get more money growing opium poppies than they do growing wheat.

It’s not the we’re indifferent, its that drug cartels are very hard to get rid of and the money from drugs has a powerful appeal.

11 theye1  Wed, Jan 1, 2014 4:13:38pm

re: #6 Dark_Falcon

Afghanistan got quite a good bit of reconstruction resources, but Iraq got the lion’s share for a number of reasons:

Afghanistan was deliberately shafted in terms of resources and attention by the US armed forces. Seriously, the USA almost won the war in Afghanistan during 2003/04 period, but at time when Afghanistan needed more soldiers and resources the US withdrew resources. The US allowed the Taliban to regroup and restablish themselves.

We’ve tried that, we’ve been sending agriculture teams into Afghanistan for a decade. But the farmers in the south of that country get more money growing opium poppies than they do growing wheat.

It’s a lot more complicated than just “they want more money,” if you listened to the Afghan Farmers themselves most of them want to grow wheat or other crops, however most are actually in debt too the drug lords (they buy everything on credit) or are threatened into producing opium by the drug lords.

12 EiMitch  Thu, Jan 2, 2014 8:29:54am

re: #10 Dark_Falcon

I’m getting tired of this conversation. So here’s a parting shot that’s a year old.

Link

The full report offered a darker picture than this euphemistic summary, documenting a near-total failure. It also showed that USAID had handed the project over to a contractor and then paid little attention. Unfortunately, the same can be said for almost every foreign-aid project undertaken in Afghanistan since the war began eleven years ago.

(emphasis added)


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