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Hurling 4,000 U.S. Troops into a Strategic Void

Last week President Trump delegated to Secretary of Defense James Mattis the authority to determine how many more troops to deploy into Afghanistan. Mattis has reportedly settled on 4,000 [1]. He claims that this will help end the stalemate in that war. He is wrong. This deployment will have no impact on the outcome of the 16-year-old war in Afghanistan, but more importantly, continues a troubling trend in U.S. foreign policy: The military move has no ties to a strategic outcome.  

Astonishingly, the day before the increase in troop strength was announced by the White House, Mattis admitted in testimony [2] before the Senate Armed Services Committee that the United States was in a “strategy-free time and we’re scrambling to put it together.” As should be clear by now, the problem isn’t the number of troops, but in the fact the military is being used, without a strategy, to solve a political problem. Until Washington comes to grips with this fundamental error, it is a virtual certainty that the use of force abroad will continue to fail in its attempt to accomplish strategic objectives. Let me explain why.

Throughout my military career, I fought in high-end tank warfare, served in counterinsurgency operations, and performed duty as a foreign-military trainer. I also served on the staffs at the division level, corps level, and in the Pentagon. Since retirement, I have traveled multiple times to the Middle East as a civilian. In short, I have observed or participated in a broad spectrum of combat operations and observed the formation of policy from the lowest to highest levels.

I can say with a high degree of confidence that Washington’s reliance on the military instrument to solve international problems has served to degrade national security.


Everything Americans see or read reinforces that U.S. troops are the most capable, lethal, and powerful in the world; they succeed everywhere they are sent. The unstated assumption, however, is that tactical success equals strategic success. If our troops accomplish their mission, the thinking goes, then the purpose of their mission must also be a success. But that is an incorrect assumption.

The insurgent enemy we engaged in Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom would often succeed in killing American troops with the ubiquitous roadside bombs (IEDs), but in recorded engagement between U.S. troops and insurgent fighters, American and NATO troops won 100 percent of the time. Every training team that was deployed to train Afghan and Iraqi troops or policemen succeeded in improving the ability of those they trained in all cases. Yet tactical success cannot achieve strategic success because the problems which plague these countries are political and diplomatic, not military.

If we are to solve these problems with military force, every mission—whether a small raid of an enemy outpost or a major deployment of multiple combat brigades—has to specify what the operation is expected to achieve, how the commander plans to accomplish the mission, and what the senior commander or policymaker desires as an end state. In other words, what conditions does he or she want to exist on the ground after force has been used? Without this information, how will either the policymaker or the American people know whether the mission was a success?

For example, the closest Obama came to articulating a stated mission for the military was when he authorized our armed forces to engage ISIS in Syria. In February of 2015, then-President Obama said [3], “I have directed a comprehensive strategy to degrade and defeat ISIS. As part of this strategy, U.S. military forces are conducting a systematic campaign of airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq and Syria.”

The statement did not explain what the “systematic campaign” of airstrikes was intended to accomplish. How did the president define “degrade”? What metric would be used to assess when ISIS was “destroyed”? No criteria were ever presented to the American people. As a result, it was impossible to ever know if the strategic mission was a success or an abject failure.

The vast majority of the resulting airstrikes indeed hit their targets. But to what end?

If even the commander-in-chief does not know what the force is expected to accomplish, the ground commanders’ efforts are literally shots in the dark. They may kill a great many enemy fighters but achieve nothing of strategic value. That is in fact what did happen. Sadly, such obscure outcomes have become the norm.

The Iraq surge succeeded brilliantly on the tactical level, but had no effect on the political dynamics in Iraq. Internal and toxic political actions in Baghdad laid the groundwork for the weakening of the Iraqi Security Forces and the rise of ISIS.

The Afghan surge likewise succeeded in temporarily reducing the level of violence, drove the Taliban out of Helmand and Kandahar provinces, but had no effect on the corrupt level of governance in Kabul, nor the support to insurgents provided across the border by Pakistan—and the Taliban has since recaptured entire swaths of both provinces.

U.S. airpower devastated the regime in Libya in 2011 but could not influence the political strife that followed. All three countries are currently embroiled in vicious civil conflicts with little hope of near-term resolution.

Today’s active military missions against ISIS in Mosul and Raqqa are virtually guaranteed to suffer the same fate. We have the ability to employ military power to affect the removal of ISIS from both cities. The successful accomplishment of those tactical missions, however, will have no effect on what happens politically in the aftermath.

Washington will have little to no influence on who rules in Raqqa after ISIS is eventually driven out. The U.S. will not be able to direct power-sharing agreements among the various militias participating in the fight—or prevent Turkey, Iran, the Syrian regime, al-Nusra, or any of a dozen other radical Islamic groups from battling for control of Raqqa. It is very possible that after the successful accomplishment of our tactical objectives of routing ISIS from those cities, a new round of violence will engulf both.

Changes are clearly required in American foreign policy. The first opportunity to begin correcting past deficiencies is cancelling the increase in troops the administration is considering sending to Afghanistan. The White House must do more than announce what tactical missions the troops are expected to execute. They must articulate what strategic outcome these troops are expected to attain. There is little doubt every combat mission will succeed, but the president must explain what end-state he desires in Afghanistan. Before asking more U.S. soldiers to put their lives on the line, the president must explain what success will look like.

If no one can articulate to the American people and our service men and women what military force is expected to achieve, the sword must remain sheathed. We must end the bad habit of using lethal military power that routinely fails to improve American national security.

Daniel L. Davis is a senior fellow for Defense Priorities and a former Lt. Col. in the U.S. Army who retired in 2015 after 21 years, including four combat deployments. Follow him @DanielLDavis1

37 Comments (Open | Close)

37 Comments To "Hurling 4,000 U.S. Troops into a Strategic Void"

#1 Comment By Fran Macadam On June 18, 2017 @ 10:09 pm

Quite frankly, the objective of military escalation, is de facto growing military industrial revenue streams that the economy now has outsized dependency on. The business of America, is become more and more, war profiteering. That is why there is such a cognitive dissonance between the reasons we are told we must increase overseas warmaking costs, and that those objectives never are and never will be achieved. To the war business sector, defeat is not smelling napalm in the morning.

#2 Comment By Novelist On June 18, 2017 @ 10:20 pm

Dear Mr. Davis: Your piece is logical, and it is precisely for this reason that it fails. The United Sates cannot maintain its place in the world without war. Denied war, the country’s manufacturing industries would shrink and its inner cities–from where a significant number of recruits are drawn–would boil over.

An Old Asia Hand

#3 Comment By Gayland Machala On June 18, 2017 @ 10:30 pm

A light colonel after 21 years who is giving advice after 2 years of retirement. Well thank you so much. So informative.

#4 Comment By anon On June 18, 2017 @ 10:31 pm

4000 more troops. Hmmmm….just in time to protect the upcoming record opium poppy crop.

#5 Comment By MEOW On June 18, 2017 @ 11:06 pm

Who is running the show? More troops to Afghanistan in an unwinnable war. CNN just announced we shot down a Syrian plane. This after we have bombed their military. Are we afraid they might win the civil war and establish a viable and independent government that does not dance to Netanyahu’s music? The last election was between two avowed neocons that want to burn our national resources and destroy our military in endless wars with unmistakable theocratic undertones. This is sad. Iraq continually revisited. No human learning in the halls of government.

#6 Comment By ranger school On June 18, 2017 @ 11:14 pm

Why is it that eminently sensible commentary like this, from an experienced officer, is ignored by policy makers while a reckless jackass like Mattis is toasted as the “adult in the room”.

I see we’re now shooting down Syrian aircraft. Trump having unilaterally abdicating his responsibility to control the military, Mattis is now ratcheting up Afghanistan and making us a belligerent in the Syrian civil war. Pity he didn’t bother to inform the American people before dragging us into yet another war.

I voted for Trump, but by God I’ll never do it again. What he and the high-ranking military f***-ups he hired are now doing to us and the Middle East is unforgivable.

#7 Comment By Lee On June 19, 2017 @ 12:11 am

You know Afganistan left the Soviet Union behind? Not sure why the stupid Americans would expect any differently…

#8 Comment By bacon On June 19, 2017 @ 1:37 am

One suposes there are many possible reasons Trump has delegated to Secretary Mattis and the pentagon the authority to manage the Afghan war, including adjusting troop levels. Here is my idea – Trump isn’t smart or well educated, but he is devious and clever. We’re not going to win in Afghanistan or have an outcome that looks anything like a draw, much less a win, and he’s arranging in advance a scenario in which he can say he had all the right ideas but his nutcase SECDEF and the generals screwed it up.

#9 Comment By John K Sharpe On June 19, 2017 @ 1:49 am

It was interesting hearing retired Gen. David Petraeus on the PBS newshour say this proposed afghan surge was “heartening”. He talked about a “sustainable commitment for the long haul” comparing it to the US military presence in post-WWII Europe. Quote: “We are not going to permanently win this”. So we are leasing a status quo Afghanistan? The cost of which is the lives of a few hundred American military personnel and a few hundred million dollars a year?

#10 Comment By CAPT S On June 19, 2017 @ 9:07 am

Excellent piece. It should not require military experience to recognize the difference between tactical victory and strategic defeat, yet as veteran membership in Congress and the Executive has waned, that understanding has completely slipped away. Politicians get elected with 30-sec ads, and govern with similarly short-term objectives. In other words, one shouldn’t have to be a Sun-Tzu devotee or go to War College to grasp these truths. I’m disappointed that a highly intelligent warrior like Mattis is pursuing this non-policy. If the objective is to purchase time for the politicians to develop a strategy, then that’s more of the same piss-poor “strategery.”

I pine for the likes of Ike and George C. Marshall, but it’s highly unlikely that even these titans could win against today’s military/industrial/surveillance complex.

#11 Comment By FalconJet On June 19, 2017 @ 9:41 am

Excellent, level-headed analysis.

#12 Comment By Bush I Republican On June 19, 2017 @ 9:51 am

Mattis is a fool. Only a fool would commit US troops to a foreign war absent any strategy. Then again he’s a fool adored by the foreign policy establishment that allowed foreign parasites to drag us into these Middle East messes in the first place.

This just isn’t working, people. We need a clean sweep in Washington, a President and Congress with the gumption to chase off the lobbyists, burn off the leeches, and define US strategy in terms of narrow, sanely construed US interests. I thought Trump’s election might mark the beginning of that. Instead, he’s recommitting or even doubling down on the worst elite and Establishment mistakes.

#13 Comment By Fred Bowman On June 19, 2017 @ 10:13 am

Another General who being task to win “an unwinnable war”. Where in Hell is the next General Marshall? Of course to tell the truth the last thing the MIC wants is for a war to “Won” as that stops the “Gravy Train”. And the American Public in general doesn’t give a damn one way or the other as their sons and daughters aren’t being call up to serve. Of course the sad thing is that people aren’t thinking of the “long-term effect” on the American Republic that these “Wars without end” are having. America rots from within simply because the “War Machine” wants to perpetuate the notion of an America Empire. Of course all empires fails and when they do they generally take the republic from they were birthed down with them. And thus the Great American Experiment ends.

#14 Comment By pwm02176 On June 19, 2017 @ 10:19 am

As much as I am an admirer of Mattis (USMC 62-68) I’m inclined to agree with this point. I also view this less as how many more warriors we push into this sewer, I view it more as how many more of our young war-fighters are destined to perish, and for what purpose?

#15 Comment By Cheryl Benard On June 19, 2017 @ 10:29 am

Thank you for this valuable article, I hope someone is listening.

#16 Comment By TG On June 19, 2017 @ 10:37 am

Yes, well said, many excellent points here.

I do suggest that you are missing one big piece of the picture. Contrary to current big-lie propaganda, Malthus (and Keynes and Mills and Ma Yinchu and Franklin etc). were right. When there is no open frontier, when people who could maybe support two kids each, instead have six, this produces not wealth but grinding crushing misery.

It is an iron law of development that no society became rich until AFTER the fertility rates moderated. Think about how Americans, in the great depression, had few children. Rich countries are like this.

Places like Syria, Afghanistan etc., with sustained high fertility rates, simply cannot ‘develop’, it is impossible for them to become stable. You can shovel foreign aid in by the truckload, it will all be eaten up and the people will be hungry for more. These places are traps, there is neither a military nor a political solution.

But I really blame us, and our corrupt pundits, for refusing to acknowledge the brutal truth that demographics is the foundation of all economics.

#17 Comment By Jim Mulry On June 19, 2017 @ 10:38 am

This article accurately states the reality that the surge in Afghanistan will not achieve peace. The administration should set a goal and conduct a feasibility analysis to determine in financing the surge will result in a substantial return on investment.

#18 Comment By Allen On June 19, 2017 @ 10:45 am

I was one of those people training Iraqi police officers to keep the streets safe when the US forces left. When ISIS came in, those same police officers dropped their guns and ran away. I wouldn’t exactly call that a success.

#19 Comment By Kurt Gayle On June 19, 2017 @ 10:47 am

Last week the Associated Press quoted an unnamed Trump administration official as saying the Pentagon would send 4,000 additional American forces to Afghanistan.

However, on Friday afternoon (June 16) the Pentagon pushed back against that story. Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White wrote that Defense Secretary Mattis “has made no decisions on a troop increase for Afghanistan…As he said throughout the week in testimony, the revised Afghanistan strategy will be presented to the president for his approval in the coming weeks.”


The debate over Afghanistan continues within the Trump administration. A New York Times report (June 18) accurately referred to “a coterie of political advisers who bitterly oppose deeper American engagement in [Afghanistan…Mr. Trump’s aides, including his chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon…[have] warned that sending more troops [is] a slippery slope toward nation building, anathema to nationalists like him who reject both the interventionist neoconservatives of the George W. Bush administration and the limited war fought by Mr. Obama.”


Another point open to question is whether President Trump has actually delegated any real authority to set Afghanistan troop levels to Secretary Mattis. It may well be the case that President Trump – who has a history of opposition to continued US war in Afghanistan – may be giving the appearance of delegating such authority only in order to buy political time until the Administration has arrived at a new Afghanistan policy, a policy to which the President wants to attach his name.

#20 Comment By Will Saunders On June 19, 2017 @ 11:44 am

I’m reading “The Best and The Brightest”. This
article is deja vu. I think the author is
right on target.

#21 Comment By Liam On June 19, 2017 @ 2:49 pm

As best I can tell from reading between the lines in recent years, Obama’s strategy in Syria was a negative (and Machiavellian) one whose very purpose could not be openly proclaimed: it was to keep the Levant from being a region where Russia or China could profitably exploit popular American unwillingness to sustain a significant presence over decades.

#22 Comment By Michael Fumento On June 19, 2017 @ 3:07 pm

I was there as a reporter and know my military history. This is just so self-evident. The Taliban will win. We have to salvage from that what we can.

#23 Comment By Fran Macadam On June 19, 2017 @ 4:38 pm

SO… if we could wage war safely, by remote control here in America from video game bunkers well supplied with pizza and burgers, without any loss of American life, would that be acceptable, even if it killed a million Afghan human beings in our offshored war profit center that is their own country?

#24 Comment By Rossbach On June 19, 2017 @ 4:46 pm

The strategic goal of waging war in Afghanistan, Iraq, etc. is to demonstrate to the American public that we are “doing something” about a perceived crisis. The fact that our nation gains nothing from what is done is considered an unimportant detail.

#25 Comment By Chris in Appalachia On June 19, 2017 @ 6:45 pm

Let me tell you what I think that the American military is: An entity controlled by the American-Saudi-Israeli axis of evil that steals my tax dollars and exploits my fellow Americans (soldiers) to rule the world for their own selfish interests. That’s my definition. No malice meant toward American servicemen.

#26 Comment By J Harlan On June 19, 2017 @ 8:18 pm

“American and NATO troops won 100 percent of the time. Every training team that was deployed to train Afghan and Iraqi troops or policemen succeeded in improving the ability of those they trained in all cases.”

This is sarcasm I hope.

#27 Comment By Winston On June 20, 2017 @ 12:07 am

Sheer madness. Especially considering US has forgiven Al Qaeda for 9/11! Proof? See what is happening in Syria.
Oh and check this out:


More Damning Evidence That the U.S. Is Directly Backing Al Qaeda-Linked Groups
Qatar’s former prime minister admits the U.S. and its Gulf allies backed Salafi jihadists in Syria.


Qatar-Saudi Catfight Unveils “Western” Terrorist Propaganda Outlets

#28 Comment By Winston On June 20, 2017 @ 12:15 am

Afghanistan has been broken without repair. It has a greedy incompetent ( government in power see Nasir Shansab’s many articles at Newsmax);and a clueless Opposition. Meanwhile population due to balloon to around 70 million; while a study revealed main reason fighters join Taliban is for a regular paycheck.
highlighted a study which found that 70 percent of young Taliban fighters had joined the group because it offered a rare steady job. Malik was careful to point out that job insecurity does not always lead to a rise in violent extremism, but is often a common feature of regions experiencing it.

You may also like to this book:
The British army doesn’t want you to read this book
The UK authorities are trying to block their own report on Afghanistan.
Fury over MoD bid to ban soldier’s book about Afghanistan: Officials embarrassed by study they asked for
Former UNDP Director Khalid Malik Exposes Roots of Violent Extremism


Afghanistan: Population Boom Threatens Stabilization Chances

Discussesown experience:
Afghanistan’s Government: One of Plunder and Heartlessness
Afghanistan’s Failed Economy

#29 Comment By Danny On June 20, 2017 @ 7:09 am

Gee, not a single mention of US Imperialism as the root cause of violence and instability in the Middle East(and around the world)? What kind of alternative universe does the author live in? The use of the Iron Fist of Militarism, in the service of the Imperial goal of maintaining global dominance of a Clunkered Capitalist world order, is simply UNSUSTAINABLE! It’s quite elementary, my dear Dr. Davis.
Peace & Imua!

#30 Comment By Davejoe On June 20, 2017 @ 8:02 am

“The war is not meant to be won, it is meant to be continuous. Hierarchical society is only possible on the basis of poverty and ignorance. This new version is the past and no different past can ever have existed. In principle the war effort is always planned to keep society on the brink of starvation. The war is waged by the ruling group against its own subjects and its object is not the victory over either Eurasia or East Asia, but to keep the very structure of society intact.” ― George Orwell

And don’t forget, unending wars are also meant to enrich the military-indistrial-congressional complex, disguised as our government.

#31 Comment By EliteCommInc. On June 20, 2017 @ 8:38 am

“If no one can articulate to the American people and our service men and women what military force is expected to achieve, the sword must remain sheathed. We must end the bad habit of using lethal military power that routinely fails to improve American national security.”

When I saw this article this morning. I wasn’t sure what i could add that has not been said . . . and said . . . and . . .

But more importantly what has been the evidence for the last twenty years. Unless we have the stomach to remake that society from the ground up it’s dubious enterprise. Since the invasion was a bad idea to begin with strategically certainly, ethically barely, it’s a needless situation of our making. The amount of resources and force required to remake the society from the ground up I doubt we’d invest, even we weren’t 21 plus trillion in debt.

The dilemma that isn’t discussed is how to protect that portion of society that would likely face retribution from our presence. The argument that it would be a base of operations doesn’t have much weight. The Afghanistinians had no such intentions before and doubtful they would be so inclined now. Furthermore, protecting our borders is best achieved within manageable spaces — Afghanistan is hardly manageable. And our presence will ultimately fuel, the desire to align themselves with those who could and would strike a blow here.

The crisis of 9/11 passed ages ago. We did what were going to do and did it badly constantly compounding the problem with each subsequent move on the board because the mission was wrong headed from the start.

It’s the same foolish mess in Syria, violate another state’s sovereignty develop friends their entire regions and make a claim of an inability and the “great moral wrong” should we leave. Never mind the great moral wrong of having engaged in the endeavor in the first place.

But this admin. seems more than willing to squander its election win on continued dubious enterprises overseas. What we should be doing and doing immediately is seeking an out. Gracefully if possible, but out. We should cease making mayhem in Syria And look to the mayhem here.

But there is no way to wage a campaign of this nature — democracy indoctrination without boots on the ground.

Side note: creating jobs via government contracts is a not a sign of a healthy economy unless it yields private sector returns.

#32 Comment By JOHN CHUCKMAN On June 20, 2017 @ 3:12 pm

Sending any troops to Afghanistan has never been an answer to anything.

The original invasion was a brainless response to something the country had nothing to do with. It was misdirected vengeance at best.

Yes, as devout Muslims, the then-government of the country, the Taliban, had permitted bin Laden to reside there.

But when the US high-handedly demanded his extradition without providing a shred of evidence against him – quite simply, the normal procedure in all international extraditions – the Taliban refused, making it clear that they would extradite if provided evidence.

Well, the US never provided any evidence. And you know what? It has never provided any evidence to Americans either of bin Laden’s responsibility for 9/11. None. All we have is the corporate press making the same assertions that it made all those years ago without any real evidence.

So they invaded, and in truth achieved nothing.

American troops have behaved brutally there for years, creating many atrocities.

Their early approach involved going from village to village, using stun grenades, knocking down people’s doors, holding whole families at gunpoint, and taking away the men almost the way Stalin’s secret police did in the USSR. Can you imagine the fears and bad feelings this generated in an old-fashioned rural society?

That horrible behavior was compounded by a whole series of slaughters in villages as trigger-happy, nervous American kids who didn’t understand the language or the customs and who hated the heat and dust they were consigned to, kids with big guns decided they did not like something and simply blasted away. It happened dozens of times. The same for air attacks on some perfectly innocent villages by trigger-happy American pilots.

When you treat people horribly, you make enemies.

Another “benefit” of America’s shabby invasion was to release poor Afghanistan farmers from the strict prohibition the Taliban had imposed on growing poppies. Before long a flood of opium-based drugs was back on international markets. Prices fell, consumption increased, and local American street-gang violence grew. Truly wonderful result, don’t you think?

The Taliban is not and never has been a terrorist organization as it is widely misunderstood in the US.

It is simply one of the basic divisions of that society, as it were, Catholics versus Protestants. It is extremely old-fashioned and fundamentalist and unenlightened, but then so are a small host of clans or religious groups of every description in the world in many lands. You don’t invade people for that.

It is impossible to make them go away, unless of course you are prepared to slaughter people en masse.

The Northern Alliance – representing another basic tribal division in the society, it was an alliance formed long ago within the country to vie for power with the Taliban – that the US allied itself with in the original invasion, has always itself been an unattractive grouping too. It had some genuine monsters in it, including mass-murderer, General Dostum.

It never was the good guys versus the bad guys, a false idea that America’s government promoted. It always resembled a gigantic national feud between the Hatfields and McCoys in West Virginia and had nothing to do with issues Americans care about.

The Pentagon and CIA always like to promote simplistic explanations, providing sound-bite summaries for the nightly corporate news broadcasts, stuff for the soccer moms and others back home to accept readily.

In this case, it was the repression of women, something that in fact goes on still in Afghanistan as it does in every poor, rural place on earth, including Mexico, Brazil, India, Kuwait, Bangladesh, Indonesia, the Philippines, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman, Turkey, and scores of other places.

No, the reality of the great swirling mass of humanity in no way resembles, or relates to, life in Celebration, Florida, or in Ozzie and Harriet’s fantasy suburb of the 1950s. The very essence of propaganda is to fix on a truth and treat it as though it were only a truth for the place you are discussing.

America’s phony efforts even on that front achieved nothing – the Burka is still worn widely and little girls are still not educated and people remain dirt-poor – but, while all the bloody stuff was going on, talk about it put America on the side of the angels in the eyes of the uninformed. The many, many killings of women and children by Americans received little press.

But the US didn’t care, just so that it could defeat the Taliban without sending in vast numbers of its own troops. Using air power with massive bombing above with local forces doing most of the fighting below, followed by a limited number of Americans to occupy, to torture, and to terrorize into submission

This is a poor, backward country, and its customs and social structures do not resemble Celebration, Florida, and they will not do so for centuries.

To expect that bombing and occupation would alter that is the very essence of arrogance and the blind brutality we see from America’s establishment today, working away in a half-dozen places to achieve nothing beyond death and dominance. It is a one-way trip to nowhere.

Afghanistan’s people pretty much mind their business, so why on earth the US thinks it must dominate and decide who governs is beyond me, and it is beyond reason.

It’s just part of a rather sick tendency we see in America’s Deep State, the need to control everyone.

#33 Comment By Kurt Gayle On June 20, 2017 @ 8:32 pm

Thanks to John Chuckman for reminding those who care to look at the basis for the US invasion of Afghanistan:

“… When the US high-handedly demanded [Bin Laden’s] extradition without providing a shred of evidence against him – quite simply, the normal procedure in all international extraditions – the Taliban refused, making it clear that they would extradite if provided evidence. Well, the US never provided any evidence. And you know what? It has never provided any evidence to Americans either of bin Laden’s responsibility for 9/11. None.”

How many Americans realize that what John Chuckman says is true?

#34 Comment By EliteCommInc. On June 20, 2017 @ 10:31 pm

“To expect that bombing and occupation would alter that is the very essence of arrogance and the blind brutality we see from America’s establishment today, working away in a half-dozen places to achieve nothing beyond death and dominance. It is a one-way trip to nowhere.”

I am in agreement here with our gambit in the country. Democracy creation is huge gamble.
A bit drastic about the plight of women, etc. I think taking extreme examples about a population misidentifies its social realities. Backwards by our standards is not necessarily a reflection of what ought to exist in Afghanistan.

And while we should not condone crimes against the population by US military personnel, we have placed the dogs of war in a very bizarre scenario.

#35 Comment By Backwoods Bob On June 20, 2017 @ 10:58 pm

A child can understand, but most Americans are not paying attention.

The founders restricted the power to declare war to the Congress for exactly this reason: to debate the objectives and strategy before going to war.

But congress has abdicated that role. The President has even delegated the power he was not permitted in the first place to generals beneath him. Our over-arching philosophy is war on a noun. “Terror”.

So hey, let’s just go all the way and let the buck privates in all 150 countries where they are stationed decide for themselves what to make war upon. I want more than war on nouns. That leaves us totally defenseless against verbs and adjectives.

#36 Comment By Epiphany On June 21, 2017 @ 4:51 am

Noam Chomsky wrote a great book and gives many lectures on this theme. His research indicates that in many instances the actual goal of the United States isn’t always to win some military victory, but to create as much chaos as possible, while also preventing countries from “succeeding”. Vietnam was one example where the intended outcome, if we didn’t win outright, was to make Vietnam a failure as a state so as to deter other countries in Southeast Asia from wanting to emulate Vietnam. A great part of our “mission” in the Middle East is simply to decimate the nations around Israel so those nations pose no real threat to them. Syria is the big link-up between Iran and Lebanon- and to some degree now, due to Iraq becoming more and more Shiite whereas under Saddam they were secular- Iraq is also moving closer to Iran- and by destroying Syria, even if Assad is allowed to stay, Syria is effectively too weak to provide much of anything in whatever front they pose towards Israel. Afghanistan was also partially about making Caspian Sea oil unavailable to China and ensuring a return to opium production which had stopped under the Taliban. Nobody with any sense of history could possibly think Afghanistan was somehow going to emerge as a democracy representing ever little tribe there. Afghanistan has always been about Kabul. The Soviets understood this too. Libya likewise was a mission intended to prevent Libyan oil from being available to China. And Libya was going to switch to a gold-backed Dinar which poses a direct threat to US Dollar hegemony. Right now our key mission seems to be to prevent competitor nations from obtaining oil, whether we can secure it for ourselves or not. Terrorism seems to be an excuse to convince the public that we have a different mission; that of killing terrorists. But the terrorists all seem to go to the very places we want to invade.

#37 Comment By EliteCommInc. On June 23, 2017 @ 6:12 am

” . . . the Taliban refused, making it clear that they would extradite if provided evidence. Well, the US never provided any evidence. And you know what? It has never provided any evidence to Americans either of bin Laden’s responsibility for 9/11. None.”

I certainly opposed invading Iraq. However, I think the evidence was on the table.

As I recall, Osama Bin Laden said he did it. Announced his surprise that they pulled it off. think its safe say that there was plenty of out of the horses mouth that he was involved, beyond providing the cash.

And I think the larger issue was who and what agency would be responsible. There was no clear central overriding authority. Afghanistan was a coupling of various groups, many of whom had nothing in common. The Taliban was undecided about what to do about Osama Ben Laden. in other words plenty of them were none too happy about the trouble he had brought to their shores. Osama bin Laden was a hero to them during and after the Soviet Occupation. But I doubt that the lack of evidence was the real issue. Though I have no doubt they demanded proof from the US, Osama’s word was sufficient warrant.

This discussion below is not new:


I am not prepared to dismiss Osama bin Laden’s own word. If there is evidence that some other part was responsible, including our own government, I would entertain the case. Because many who believe there ere other parties involved have accurately demonstrated there are plenty of legitimate troubling and puzzling questions.

But if anything is clear since 9/11 those in leadership engage in a ton of troubling, puzzling downright bizarre endeavours.