Michael's Dispatches

Afghan Lunacy


[This dispatch was written by me in December 2008 in southern Afghanistan. It was never published though I recently found it in the unpublished archives. The photos came from the same period.]

Published: from Nepal on 14 October 2009

On May 25, 1961, the President of the United States of America said:

“Finally, if we are to win the battle that is now going on around the world between freedom and tyranny, the dramatic achievements in space which occurred in recent weeks should have made clear to us all, as did the Sputnik in 1957, the impact of this adventure on the minds of men everywhere, who are attempting to make a determination of which road they should take. Since early in my term, our efforts in space have been under review. With the advice of the Vice President, who is Chairman of the National Space Council, we have examined where we are strong and where we are not, where we may succeed and where we may not. Now it is time to take longer strides—time for a great new American enterprise—time for this nation to take a clearly leading role in space achievement, which in many ways may hold the key to our future on earth.”

And thanks to bold and visionary leadership, the collective intelligence, courage and commitment of Americans from coast to coast, America had seemed to achieve little more than a stunning list of public failures on the way to space. Our rockets exploded on the launch pad. In the air. Burned up on reentry. Or disappeared into solar orbit. But our grandparents never allowed us to be defined by our faults or failures; only how we greeted adversity. Failure after failure after failure. We got up and launched again, into failure. Fine astronauts were lost. And yet today, in 2008, after a dozen Americans have walked on the moon, citizens from no other nation have managed to land on the lunar surface. What inspiration kept the people at NASA going, when their early years were marked seemingly only by failure? The scientists, engineers and space pilots were living the American dream, not a dream of mere perfection, but of valiant and worthwhile effort. President Theodore Roosevelt said in 1910:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, and comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”

And so I write these words from Afghanistan, as a grandchild of many great men and women who built “America” and bequeathed it to us. The challenges facing us in Afghanistan, and this region in general, are monumental. We have been failing in Afghanistan. We have been losing the war. But losing does not mean lost. Failing does not mean failed. Yet if we are to succeed in this endeavor, we must be realistic that putting people on the moon was more straightforward than lifting Afghanistan from the stone ages.


“Taming” this land and its human inhabitants into a civilized country will require great investments in time, resources, imagination and intelligence. Bringing Afghanistan out of the Stone Age is not a decade-long project; we are already seven years into the war, and it’s only getting worse. Some people say it will take two generations, but more realistically, a century will be needed. Afghanistan is not Iraq. This is a very primitive, almost lunar place. Yes, cocktail party correspondents can surf their way through meetings in Jalalabad, or Kabul, or Mazar-i-Sharif, and come home with reports of success. But they are wrong. And the counterinsurgency “experts” who come here on short trips, and fly home to America or Britain with poison dripping from their lips, spitting words that we are winning, are doing Great Britain, the United States, and our allies a great disservice. Those who came to Afghanistan with open eyes and open minds, and who are not afraid to jeopardize access or careers by reporting truth, will have clearly reported by early 2006 that we were losing ground here. Who are these “experts” who didn’t see this thing for what it was, early on? And now even in 2008, some people bring home messages that this place is not as bad as it really is. Yes, it’s true that we lost but one U.S. soldier to combat in Afghanistan in November of 2008, but we should not let this number confuse us. The Af-Pak war has great potential to devolve into something far worse than what we saw in Iraq. The “experts” who did not sound the alarm by at least 2006, that Afghanistan by then clearly was slipping through our fingers, are no more useful than a fire alarm with dead batteries. A fire alarm with dead batteries is far worse than merely useless. Let the counterinsurgency “experts” step forward, and show us that they put to writing several years ago what is today obvious. We need to know who to listen to, and who to ignore.


We can succeed in Afghanistan, but we cannot pretend this will ever be the Sea of Tranquility.


Our new President will need to demonstrate wisdom and resolve in dealing with Af-Pak. The peril might not yet be obvious, but the consequences are far too grave to ignore. Enemies of humanity are trying to pull India and Pakistan into war. Ignorance is their primary weapon, and Afghanistan is merely one battlefront. Most of these kids will remain illiterate, and the children of their children likely will not be able to read. Even if they were literate, there are few books available in languages such as Dari or Pashto. This kid in Zabul Province is already lost. Afghanistan will be doing well to get his sons and daughters into a school, but more realistically it will be his grandchildren that might first be reached. We must be realistic. America did not succeed in putting people on the moon by hiring mathematicians who could not expertly use the slide rule or correctly perform the math. America succeeded in part by hiring the best mathematicians, along with the best scientists and engineers of all sorts, who possessed powerful intellects, realistic imaginations, and a volatile intolerance for anything less than pure truth. They didn’t drink anyone’s Kool-Aid.

And so President Kennedy said, “First, I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth. No single space project in this period will be more impressive to mankind, or more important for the long-range exploration of space; and none will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish.” And they kept pushing through a painful series of dramatic failures, until, within that same decade, in 1969, the first words spoken from a man on the moon came beamed home to earth:

“Tranquility base here, the Eagle has landed.”

And soon astronaut Neil Armstrong was stepping off the ladder, and he said, “That’s one small step for a man. One giant leap for mankind.”

Hard never meant impossible.


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  • This commment is unpublished.
    Kevlaur · 12 years ago
    Thanks for once again trying to raise awareness of what faces us in Afghanistan. The half-commitment of some of our NATO allies is stunning. However, that doesn't belittle the effort put forth by all of the valiant troops fighting to defeat a brutal enemy.
    The mantra 'hearts and minds' is being taken seriously by Soldiers, Marines, Sailors and Airmen who are deploying to Afghanistan. God willing they can turn this thing around... but it won't be done with the current level of troop commitments. McCain had it right the other day - half measures are not going to work. With troops strength in Iraq 1 5,000 and hopefully declining we can commit more to Afghanistan.
    No one is quite sure if another 'surge' will work without a concurrent 'awakening' as happened in Iraq.

  • This commment is unpublished.
    Paul S. · 12 years ago
    To add to the discussion, I suggest reading "One Tribe At A Time # : The “How” of Tribal Engagment" By Steven Pressfield:

  • This commment is unpublished.
    Brian Pendell · 12 years ago
    Thank you so much for the continued excellent reportage, Michael.

    I must raise the following concern, however: I live in Washington DC, and I just don't see the political will to stay in Afghanistan for a century. The last time we did something like that was in the Phillippines from -- 190 , was it? -- to 1946ish, when the Phillippines gained their independence.

    I believe the phrase for the kind of long-term tutelage you envision is 'colonization'.

    And that's simply a non-starter. I don't see either US party being willing to sink decades worth of blood and treasure into Afghanistan for a benefit which is not easily measurable on a balance sheet.

    Absent US government commitment to a 'century project' -- what other actor or actors could civilize Afghanistan?


    Brian P.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Dave Parkin · 12 years ago
    Michael, I would love to have your view of the history of Afghanistan as shown in the Afghan museum in Kabul. From reports on the BBC I understand that a few hundred years ago Emperors in Afghanistan ruled the Indian sub-continent. All the peoples of the region seem to have lost sight of this.
    And most westerners have no idea of this bit of the nation's history. We (the general populaation) need to be reminded that the troops in Afgahanistan are fighting poverty and ignorance as much as terrorists.
    Much respect for your reporting, and perspective
    Dave P.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Crafty Hunter · 12 years ago
    Hmmm, that's interesting. I'd thought the old Soviets had placed a man on the Moon as well, but apparently all they did successfully was a "loop-around", if Wikipedia is to be trusted on this.


    So, the all-time score is twelve Americans actually having walked on the Moon; the rest of the world, zero.

    As for Afghanistan, I have to say that I am growing more and more convinced that it is a hopeless cesspool of corruption. I do not think this war can be really "won" in anything less than forty years, at immense cost. Yet, what can be done about it? I do not know. The prospect of Pakistan and its nuclear arsenal falling to Islamic radicals gives pause to anyone contemplating a nearly complete NATO withdrawal from Afghanistan.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Traci Wilberger · 12 years ago
    Michael you are absolutely right! But I fear there is not a man or woman in Washington with the wisdom, spirit or strength of Theodore Roosevelt. Sarah Palin threw in the towel. I agree Crafty Hunter about the problem of corruption. It is a hopeless cesspool in Washington as well as Afghanistan. With Pakistan's nuclear capability we cannot afford to packup and go home. Hard is not impossible. My prayers are with Generals Petraeus and McChrystal.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    MW · 12 years ago

    I think (or at least I hope) there is a middle ground between a 100 year colonial project to lift them out of the stone-age and a withdraw or narrowing of the mission.

    As far as our national interests are concerned, Afghanistan doesn't have to modernize that much, it just needs to be rid of fanatics like the Taliban and Al Qaeda, and be strong enough to prevent their return, so as not to become a haven for terrorists.
    Still a tall order, but hopefully not on the order of a multi-generation imperialist endeavor.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Brian Pendell · 12 years ago
    "I think (or at least I hope) there is a middle ground between a 100 year colonial project to lift them out of the stone-age and a withdraw or narrowing of the mission."

    I hope you're right. I think the events of the past ten years have demonstrated that anarchy anywhere is a threat to the US -- wherever there's a Somalia or an Afghanistan, there's room for the worst kind of thugs to move in , set up shop, and plan operations to fly airplanes into our buildings.

    Ergo, it is in the interest of the United States to ensure that every 'failed state' has some kind of government.

    But there's no way we can rule those countries directly; the political will isn't there.

    I guess that means finding clients, giving them arms and training, and hope like Hell they don't turn on us.

    Which means we have another couple of decades of complaining about our support of 'right wing death squads' or what not. Perhaps; but what choice is there?
  • This commment is unpublished.
    matt h · 12 years ago
    just as much to the point now is the resurgence of the Jihadis in Pakistan. Taken together, our enemies will only grow stronger if we fail to build some level of stability.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    MountainFox8 · 12 years ago

    It breaks my heart as a warrior to see the jackassery occurring on this side of the Atlantic. The blatant transperancy of incompetence and lack of resolve present can only demoralize fellow warriors who count on their civilian authorities to have their backs and guard the sacred trust here at home.

    I watched in horror today, and I mean that as one not prone to hyperbole, I watched in horror as the CinC reported that he would have a plan in a few weeks. WEEKS? I mean we have to disrupt 1/6th of the US economy NOW, Heaven Forbid that we consider our actions but we cannot make a strategic decision with over a month of time to ponder it?

    We have met the enemy and he is us.

    Michael, remind those joes over there that they must remind themselves daily that the vast portion of the body politic is disgusted at the utter lack of anything resembling leadership in Washington and that we are behind everyone of them and we believe in their mission, whether or not the CinC actually understands what that is or not.

    In my nearly 20 years of service I have never felt that I was close to the circumstances that led to failure in Vietnam. Though Afghanistan and Vietnam have very different operational circumstances, from the standpoint of political leadership and will, I truly fear that we are revisiting 1970 right here, right now...

    ...and I am sickened by the utter lack of knowledge of precedent being displayed by "the smartest people in the room" right now. Surely we have become two very different sorts of Americans.

    Godspeed man, godspeed.

  • This commment is unpublished.
    Kasmir · 12 years ago
    "I understand that a few hundred years ago Emperors in Afghanistan ruled the Indian sub-continent. All the peoples of the region seem to have lost sight of this."

    Ah, the Mughals. The Mongols under Chinggis (Ghengis) Khan not only conquered Afghanistan early in the 1 th century, they ruled it for nearly 500 years. Timur-e Lang claimed descent from Chinggis, and his immediate descendants conquered and ruled India where they were known as the "Mughals". Contrary to the "graveyard of empires" meme, Afghanistan has been conquered many times. Only the Mongols bothered to stay, and they actually *colonized* Afghanistan. Their descendants today remain as the Hazara people, much oppressed by the Taliban during their rule.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Carol · 12 years ago
    Thank you for your sacrifice to bring us the truth. Reading this post brought tears to my eyes ... tears of sadness and frustration. Washington is so corrupt that I find myself pretty depressed lately. Then I close my eyes at night in my beautiful bedroom with my soft, warm bed and see our soldiers sacrificing, sleeping and living in despicable conditions. I am truly blessed that I have a great life but feel sadness every day that our troops are struggling without the support of the one man who has the control of doing something whether it's politically correct or not.

    I have figured out who really gives a damn about our brave men and women in this country. It's those who cry when each and every soldier is brought home to their resting place from the hell that is the Middle East. Every single thug in Washington should be fired (even though we know that will never happen), and if they have any conscience, they should resign. During Bush's presidency every night we heard about soldiers dying yet not a damn thing out of their mouths while our soldiers are being murdered in the Afghan war. Something is trully wrong with that.

    Keep up the good work. I will donate again soon.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Jean Weingartner · 12 years ago
    Thank you for keeping up and informing us of the situation and I pray and pray that GOD will watch over all and to touch hearts and minds in our government to do the right thing.That was my biggest fear that when the man took office our Honorable men and women would be at greater risk now and I pray for their families as I know they are very concerned for their love ones.MAY GOD BLESS AND PROTECT THEM ALL..
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    Jim Delaney · 12 years ago
    I've read your excellent posts with great interest. They're always very well-written, unpretentious, instructive and provocative. While I too see no surefire solutions, a tad more leadership, vision, reallism, and, yes, integrity in D.C. would be a good start. While our current crop of leftist politicians explore strategies to gracefully withdraw, the White House should step off the proverbial dime and timely ACT on Gen. McCrystal's recommendations. Stalling contributes nothing to the effort and merely dooms current military efforts to avoidable failure and more needless expenditures of blood and treasure. I'm afraid Afghanistan elicits a level of White House leadership and seriousness which is simply not there and won't be there for the next three years. Through no fault of our troops on the ground there, without leadership and serious commitment on the homefront, the battle there may already be lost. Very frustrating.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    LadyLiberty · 12 years ago
    Don't think we will lift that one out of its malaise--too much internal effort pulling all downward. It's just not the center of gravity for our freedom or for other people's tyranny. Knowing what fights to fight and where we put our energy is crucial for any win. As you know more than most, this type of warrior mentality has totalitarian designs and does not stick to one locale for honorable and recognizable engagement. I think it's way past time we see this human struggle between good and evil in its actual light.

    We do not have the understanding in our current administration; we do not have the will from our allies; we need to focus and act like the winners we are and be realists. We barely had sufficient focus and strength to pull off what was necessary in Iraq. The pc and 20 century overlay onto a completely different challenge knocked Mr. Bush off course more than once, and he was probably better equipped than anyone else would have been in his place. Certainly John Kerry would have thrown us to the wolves while he and that oligarchy of overlords escaped unscathed.

    Going foward in that God-forsaken neck of the woods, our military will be the continuing sacrifice for cowardice and confusion. We need such people actually protecting our freedoms at home where we have been overtaken. We need such people running for office and leading the charge. Afghanistan is not the right fight, not the right time, not the right way. Pretty much a no win, and I hope the generals pound that home. I would discourage any person from signing up under this trans-national, anti-American leadership. At some point real soon, we will have a realistic strategy for fighting this actual enemy, and we will have the people who will do it because it will be right and circumstances will have forced them all to see the light and to save liberty the right way, starting now at home. It's homecoming time, Michael.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Joseph Bays · 12 years ago
    We have a huge problem; a president who is totally unqualified to lead the nation and unable to make rational decisions about Afghanistan/Pakistan. With our current leadership, we are doomed to failure there.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    David M · 12 years ago
    The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the blog post From the Front: 10/15/2009 News and Personal dispatches from the front and the home front.

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    tedium · 12 years ago
    You've confused what Armstrong meant to say with what he actually said.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Billy Karlinsey · 12 years ago
    Michael, Keep up the excellent reporting. I subscribe to Foreign Policy magazine and one of their latest articles may be of interest to you. http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2009/10/12/go_big_or_go_home?page=full
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Carl T · 12 years ago
    Your comments are even more relavent today than when you wrote them last year. Thanks Michael for your straighforwardness and at times blunt view of the truth.
    I too shuddered when I heard the Pres. say he would get back to Afganistan in a few weeks. Hell, HealthCare isnt even going to be implimented until 2015. We cant wait for the stumbling, mumbling CIC to make a decision. Most of Americans (80%) dont even want HC and we are stuck with a campaign mode President who's inexperience is a danger to ALL freedom loving people.

    Will continue to be in prayer for your efforts and safety. God Bless You and your work!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Joseph Matteini · 12 years ago
    Thanks Michael for everything.My son ,now 1st.Sergeant, recently came back from there. His men had the highest kill of the enemy in his sector.The Taliban are no match for our troops and do not face them in open combat if possible.They prefer roadside bombs,etc.They are poor shots but have tremendous allegiance and dedication to their cause. this makes it tough.This war ,according to him is vital because because of it strategic location it will last a long time.If we fail and pull out we will not be trusted by our allies and the enemies of freedom will again take notice of our weak resolve. We will never be trusted again.We need to pull out ALL the stops and win this,no holding back of war funds and men! Only America can do this, no other Nation can stop the spreading of Terror, hate,and quest for world dominance that the Islamic terrorists want.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Evan Cowart · 12 years ago
    With obama running things I would expect little. He will do as johnson did, get many military members killed because he is way to stupid to figure any of this out. Johnson did it, carter and now obama.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    6x6x4 · 12 years ago
    I'm amazed at the croaking here by people who condemn the president for spending time to make tough decisions about Afghanistan. Have you no criticism for the president who ignored Afghanistan for six years while spending a trillion dollars and nearly 5,000 lives to turn Iraq into a Shia-dominated cripple of a nation? Bush's neglect of Afghanistan may have made any sort of victory there impossible. His incompetence has certainly allowed the Taliban to recover and rebuild and present America with nothing but bad choices. And despite what the generals want, sending more troops may actually make things worse in Afghanistan if we don't change the way we fight that war.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Jack E. Hammond · 12 years ago

    I have read a lot about Afghanistan and have about five bookshelves on the subject and about a hundred magazine articles. A good 1st read about the Pashtuns and Afghanistan tribal affairs is John Masters "Bugles and Tigers" when he was young officer with a Gurkha regiment on the North West Frontier. It is still very relevant today. Back in 2002 I recommended it when I was a Sysop on Compuserve's Military Forum (back then it was the #1 military discussion forum and today is dead due to ultra-right wing take over). Some how or another someone in the US Army read that recommendation and it is now one of the ten books that is recommended by other officers who have been to Afghanistan on the private forum that the US Army runs for Afghanistan.

    But to another subject. I just wish the US could get a break on one of the two tough problems of Afghanistan.

    1> Today our major land logistic route runs through either Pakistan or Uzbekistan or Tajikistan. Both routes are vulnerable to being closed down if the Russians (Uzbekistan or Tajikistan) or Chinese (Pakistan) want to pressure the US over any issue. Those two routes are like the air hose that goes to a diver working on a ships hull and either China or Russia can step on that air line.

    2> That Afghanistan have a government that is considered something as being legit to the majority of the Afghan people.

    Again, I wish Gawd would give us a break on just one of the two items above. If he/she does not, we are in deep sh*t in the future. You can't fight a successful counter-insurgent plan without 1> a half way acceptable government as your partner and 2> A lot of boots on the ground. And we can't have a lot of boots on the ground without a half way secure land logistic route.

    Finally, just my 2 cents worth from an arm chair general.

    Jack E. Hammond

  • This commment is unpublished.
    Ian Bach · 12 years ago
    In 2007 while the MSM news all said Iraq was lost I found hope talking with Iraqis in and out of Iraq. I felt they wanted peace and wanted our help. During the same time I tried to contact and speak with Afghans. I was amazed at their reluctance to speak and felt a lot of tension from them regarding our troops. .

    Many of those who wish to dislodge us from our goal (including al qaeda) and the Taliban site how we left and that we will leave again, to let the wolves kill and control the sheep. Also they made good use of the internet to push their agendas and extreemism.

    COIN does appear to be the only solution that and the new stratgeys. I do believe Taliban and al qaeda are so intertwined and even intermarried that they are almost as one now. This will take generations to change if we can not get Pakistan to do their part and reign in the tribal areas.

    I like what you said about our learning who to listen to and who not to, is indeed best advice. we often get bad info from person with personal agendas who want revenge on a nieghbor over a wedding or a goat. I think we need to look back at how Ahmed Shah Massoud fought the taliban on land and in the local Jirgas. His misttakes and success should be taught throughout our troops. If we can seperate Wahhabi from Pashtuns we can make a big change. Why the Pashtuns have been drawn to believe the wahhabi movement can bring them power and succes is nuts. The Wahhabis brought the house of Saud into power over arabian peninsula. Pakistan and its pashtuns must understand PAK nationalism is a much better vessel than a 400 year old Arab Sunni supremecy movement, that at its base says it is ok to kill any non sunni. As a Iraqi friend said to me we need to go after the wahhabi. The wahhbi first start out life hitting their parents. (the remark points to the wahhabi founder and how he killed his parents or something like that). But also address that most wahhabi recruits come from the disenfranchised and militant extreeems of the muslim populations around the world.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    David · 12 years ago
    Now if only the current White House occupants would read your blog.

    Safe Travels,
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    Bob Croft · 12 years ago
    For those looking for the John Masters bio "Bugles and a Tiger" mentioned by Mr. Hammond, it's available through Amazon, as is Master's second volume, "the Road Past Mandalay", mostly set in India and Burma with Wingate's force in WWII.

    I keep refering back to Masters when looking for background on the region, and occasionally even dip into Kipling. Good information also in Schmidle's "To Live or to Perish Forever", a political history/travel book on Pakistan, with background on the origin of the Taliban, secterian animosity, the irrational international borders in the area (Pathans, Baluchi's and others divided between countries), etc.

    Keep the information flowing, Michael; will send another donation soon.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Robert · 12 years ago
    When we had OBL pinned at Tora Bora do any of you recall the Bush Admin. decided to "outsource" that job to Afghans whose only loyalty was to MONEY? They turned thier guns on a Delta team and that was that. They played us like a piano. Then Iraq. We should be almost DONE here, but we took a detour. As for NATO, some members just are not gonna pull thier weight, and I beleive the money spent protecting W. Europe could be put to better use some other way. NATO=DISGRACE
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Glen · 12 years ago
    Great post again Michael, thank you.

    Boy, some of the commenters in here seem terribly eager to undermine the current democratically elected POTUS. Have they such short memories that they have forgotten who got us into this mess and who failed to kill Osama Bin Laden when we had the chance? Remind me again which president decided to impose regime change in Iraq when we could have put OBL's head on a plate? Which president said "he doesn't think about OBL anymore?"

    I'm afraid some of the folks reading this blog have missed the point that years of consistent mismanagement have caused the current problems. Afghanistan wasn't all puppies and ice cream the day before Obama was elected.

    Thank the gods Sarah Palin isn't calling the shots. What an unmitigated nightmare that would be.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Cathi L. · 12 years ago
    No, nobody is undermining Obama, Glen. IMHO, most on this thread are facing reality and seeing clearly the current situation. When it comes to the military and war, most have very long memories. I don't believe pointing fingers and laying blame will help us either. When putting off decisions to send more troops, plus when diverting monies intended for the troops to pet projects within the US, government cannot say "it's not my fault! It was the other president who caused it." Let's work in the now, please.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Cathi L. · 12 years ago
    Thank you, Michael, for doing what you do so well, which is bringing us true journalism through your eyes. Please keep safe.

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    chris tidman · 12 years ago
    We need a Democratic community Government to exist in each community. So we create a corporation in each community that is owned by the locals, with no more than 1% equity each, to manage a local sustainable businesses which generates energy (solar, biogas, whatever) or produces food (greenhouse, irrigation, whatever) and sells their produce to themselves and to their neighbors. This is an ongoing management/business enterprise that will be defended by the locals because they own it and it provides their needs. The defenders of their people will have no choice but to support the activities that creates this general welfare for the community and input from USA will be an asset to the local welfare rather than an imposition of foreign control.

    It is no different than having a system that treats poor people as poor people, or giving poor people the resources to develop their own positions. Stop 'giving' them things and remove the systematic imposed controls that prevents them from helping themselves.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Prof Bliffle · 12 years ago
    We have NO strategic interest in Afghanistan. Being there is the price we pay for GWBs foolishness. We had every right to barge into Afghanistan, elbow the Taliban aside, and grab OBL. But we failed, because GWB was a foolish person. Now we inherit the bitter fruit of his foolishness.

    Pakistan is, and always was, the most important piece in the crazy middle-east picture, and we only weakened our influence with this non-strategic quagmire in Afghanistan.

    The Afghanistan war is a never-ending diversion created by OBL. He must be amazed that we swallowed it so completely. Now he can continue the real fight: to take over Pakistan at his liesure. It will take us a hundred years to fight thru Afghanistan to get to Pakistan.

    How stupid.

    Get out. Get out now and re-constitute our forces, which have been sorely diminished with this Afghan idiocy, and prepare a real strategy.

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