Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Flush Twice

Peray (Thailand)

We have left undone those things
which we ought to have done;

and we have done those things which we ought not to have done

--The Book of Common Prayer (1549)


An old Army joke says, "Flush twice -- it's a long way to the Pentagon." Let's paraphrase this: It's even further to the White House and Congress.

So now it is official -- the U.S. will add 32,000 more troops to the fray in Afghanistan. We guess it worked so well in Iraq, we had to try again. But to what useful, justifiable purpose, either military or political?

If one agrees with the new surge (not so much a surge, as a weak prostate drip), let us look at the two assumptions driving this wild optimism.

  • The U.S. military machine might kill or suppress every Taliban and anti-government agent and imprison every supporter of these movements. But ... even if they do -- SO WHAT? How does this benefit the security of the U.S.?
  • Most Afghans might sell us their hearts and minds, with enough provocation and bribes, like maybe the offer of modern townhouses with cable hookups in every mud hut village (at least, that's what our Rush-listening associates tell us might do the trick.) But ... even if every last Afghan citizen signs a pledge of love, SO WHAT?

The Republican talking heads are angry that General McChrystal only gets 3/4th of what he wants, yet the good General recently said there were only perhaps 100 operating Taliban in Afghanistan. So what's the goal?

If the basis of this war was to destroy al-Qaeda'a operational link to the Taliban, than this is all to the good, but at what cost?
What if this projected achievement is simply spittin' in the wind, since al-Qaeda is international and can and will exist separate from Taliban complicity? What then is the point of further fighting in Afghanistan?

If we continue to follow the U.S. policy
vis-a-vis the Phony War on Terror (PWOT ©), then the American people can expect to be in the war-fighting and nation-building business from now to kingdom come.

NPR quoted from a Taliban pronouncement following Obama's speech last night: We will prevail, and you will only become economically poorer. It was sad, almost like a palm reader glad to take your money, but who realizes at the end of the day, you'll not get the thing you most want to hear. As with most hopeful suckers who sit before the crystal ball, it always ends badly. "Does she love me?" "Maybe, maybe . . . No."

The only thing to emphasize to the recipients of our largesse and love is, flush twice -- it's a long way to the White House.
Oh, and here's some hand sanitizer . . .

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Blogger FDChief said...

New post up at MilPub where you can get my $0.02.


Here's something we might want to think about.

Got an e-mail today from a friend of mine who's still in, works at the schoolhouse at Sill. He's about ready to pull the pin but got back from an A'stan deployment about 18 months ago.

His comment (other than his nasty observation "The brass got everything they want; this fucker is a self-licking ice cream cone now...") was that what we're not thinking through is the effect the Afghan corruption is going to have on the Army.

Jim, you remember the Club Scandals, right? I was just a little privvit, but my first SGM still grieved over Bill Wooldridge who had been some kind of mentor when he was a junior sergeant or something and was caught running a scam skimming slots in Germany and bilking clubs in the RVN.

One thing my friend at Sill said was something like "...you can't believe it, Doc; Afghanistan is like Vegas on crack. Dirty. Everybody's dirty, the ANA, the cops, the tribes, the contractors...they're all making fucking bank. Sooner or later some GIs are gonna start thinking "why them and not us?" and we're all gonna SO be reamed out..."

ISTM that the Club Scandals didn't happen in a vacuum. The RVN was the one of the most corrupt armpits in SE Asia. After you spent enough time there making $190/month I'll bet you started wondering whether you could make a little on the side like your little brown brothers..?

And let's not EVEN wonder about the CIA and running dope out of Asia...

And so here we are in another corrupt armpit in Asia...remind me again...what's in this for us?

Oh, yeah. Terrorists bad! Scary! Fear! Death! Kill!

Almost forgot all that for a minute.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009 at 5:48:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous barcalounger said...

FDChief-saw your newest post at MilPub. You make a lot of good points.

God knows I don't mistake myself with Napolean. I'm not a great strategic thinker, I'll leave that to you guys. But I'm thinking this Afghan Surge is going to be a logistics nightmare. Winter is coming on, so all those mountain passes from Pakistan are going to be closed soon. So how are the NATO forces going to be resupplied? By Air? The Russians tried that at Stalingrad and the French at Dien Bien Phu. How did that work out?

Looking further up the road, this optempo caused by the Long War is going to kill the Army. I'm afraid we're going back to the days of the Hollow Force, just like we did after Vietnam.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009 at 6:30:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Check the 1st story here. This is insane it didn't work for the Russians either. Then again O taught Constitution Law not History.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009 at 6:42:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...


Your question carries profound social implications.

On a simple organismal level, we have discovered that most animals possess an innate sense of injustice and inequality (http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2008/12/dogenvy/); how much moreso humans, who already come with a "more-for-me" mentality.

It is not a far stretch to imagine the highly corrupt atmosphere of Afghanistan to be a school for scoundrels. We have already seen it with the contractors. I would imagine to be a deeply demoralizing atmosphere for an idealist.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009 at 6:44:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Serving Patriot said...


You're right, of course. But was there any real doubt how this was going to turn out? The decision has NOTHING to do with the actual mission, reality or Afghanistan. And everything to do with Nov 2012. And like the proverbial monkees with footballs, the current crew gooned the process at least as badly as the 2006-07 handwringing over Iraq that brought a Surge (TM) to ensure W left office with troops "Winning" in Iraq!

From where I sit, the real winners are Russia, China and Iran. And the all consuming greedy bastards of all nationalities profiting on the misery of good soldiers, unlucky civilians/noncombatants and little kids.

@FDC -- your comment and friend at Sill reminds me that Pat Lang also came immediately to the same conclusion - self licking ice cream cone.


Wednesday, December 2, 2009 at 8:52:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous barcalounger said...

Edit: it was the Germans that had to resupply by air at Stalingrad. Since the Russians had them surrounded. Got to engage my brain housing group before I type.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009 at 9:50:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger FDChief said...

SP - "self-licking ice cream cone" - I went and saw that on Lang's site. Is that some sort of 2009 lifer-type humor? I never heard it before today. Cracked me up, as fucked up as the whole business is. I'll have to ask Alfie if he came up with that on his own or got it from Lang first.

Thursday, December 3, 2009 at 1:03:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous tw said...

"a self-lickiing ice cream cone' that says it all !

A friend of mines son did a tour training the Afghan army out of Kabulfor the Canadian forces. Was not too impressed. Said the army moved around so they were fairly safe but the Afghan police usually stayed in their home towns and were regular targets to get whacked by the insurgents. Told me some funny stories about trying to train them to shoot. They had a propensity for holding the AK high, pulling the trigger and it was Allah's will. Allah's will I kill, Allah's will I die.

Looking aback at some of his emails I found this comment interesting.

In the end, the issue in the 'stan will come down to a matter of wills - that of the Afghans to keep up their morale and hope and stick with the program and the Western world to give enough of a crap to stay and keep spending money like it is going out of style.

Thursday, December 3, 2009 at 1:13:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

TW and all,
There is no reason to believe the hype that building an Army and Police from the ground up will LICK the problem.
On what do we base this unverifiable assumption?

Thursday, December 3, 2009 at 10:51:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

I read and commented on your article on milpub. Well done and well discussed. MY comment on your pics. They should at least put a massage parlor on those moonscape environments to make them worth fighting for.

Thursday, December 3, 2009 at 10:53:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

Serving Patriot,
You left out a big winner-Pakistan.
All of our twisted logic always slips them in to ramp up the fear factor.
Whatever is going to happen will happen regardless of what the US does in region.

Thursday, December 3, 2009 at 10:56:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

We at Raw don't sell ourselves as strategic thinkers. We are thrilled when anybody in power even bothers to think at all.
That's all we try to do.
We're simply old soldiers trying to figure out what's happening.

Thursday, December 3, 2009 at 11:19:00 AM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...


Fr. the soldier's letter:

"the issue in the 'stan will come down to a matter of wills - that of the Afghans to keep up their morale and hope and stick with the program..."

So it looks like everyone's on that HOPE train. I hope the Big Arbiter in the sky favors the right side (who DOES he favor, anyway?)

Thursday, December 3, 2009 at 12:48:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger FDChief said...

"They should at least put a massage parlor on those moonscape environments to make them worth fighting for."

That is about the biggest expanse of nothing I've ever seen. A junkyard and a titty bar would be an upgrade.

There's no "there" there.

Thursday, December 3, 2009 at 1:09:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...

Gertrude Stein had it right.

Ranger says (in his own inimitable fashion): "a country with titty bars is a country worth fighting for."

There should be a great pool from which to draw dancers, as the men don't seem to need them. However, any entrepreneurs in the chevre making business with be hurting...

Thursday, December 3, 2009 at 1:19:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, Ranger;
You know that "famous" speech of bush-bama's the other night when he announced in a surprise move to the whole civilized world that he will send 32,000 more troops to the Af-Pak extranaganza only came 2 1/2 weeks after his decision had already been published on one of the godless, islamofascist, infidel websites?
How do these backwoods, igerant guys know this stuff before bush-bama? You suppose they're using some of that white-man debil Magick that costs them nuthin and us as a nation about two billion bucks a month to obtain from ever-so-reliable sources like the c.i.a. or n.s.a. or, better yet, blackwater? Makes a body wonder at them crafty little guys' ingenuity, don't it?

Thursday, December 3, 2009 at 3:13:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Lisa said...

Hey, Anon,

I hear that Bayou St. John™ the Conqueror Bath brings luck, fortune and will make you invisible, too, all at $2 bucks a bottle ...

Don't need no contractors to procure dat kind o' majick.

Thursday, December 3, 2009 at 3:29:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Range, I hope McChrystal and his crew have plenty pairs of handcuffs for the snake.

Thursday, December 3, 2009 at 7:13:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Terrible said...

I'd say al-Qaeda'a real support base, both morale and financial, is in Saudi Arabia. But Saudi Arabian royalty is very friendly with the oil industry so they don't need to ever worry about their support there being attacked.

Thursday, December 3, 2009 at 9:02:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger Terrible said...

Jim, re: "building an Army and Police from the ground up will LICK the problem." Another part of that is WHERE the bodies for that come from and HOW they feel about foreigners. I really doubt in a million years they could come up with enough able bodied military age men that were pro-doing things America's way to ever get the numbers they talk about.

Thursday, December 3, 2009 at 9:14:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous tw said...


re letter he started his tour 2 yrs ago so there might have been a bit more hope then or he could have been experiencing the first stages of the "no they wouldn't screw me would they" syndrome.

Ranger - more than half of the Afghan Army claimed by the US, doesn't exist. It's a paper army. A phantom army. Can't remember the exact figures but what we claim there is and what there really is is not even close. Can we say Propaganda For The Homefront !

Thursday, December 3, 2009 at 10:26:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

FDChief's comment on Afghan corruption and it effects on the army morale, set me thinking about an army of occupation, and the corrosive effects of large amounts aid and military dollars on the local population and the organs of state. Afghans, I believe aren't any more corrupt than people of other countries. Wars tend to destabilise the local economys, moral fabric of traditional cultures, and the local and national goverment.

Vietnam is a classicial example. As dollars poured in all of the above went down the tubes. I don't believe this was any inherent fault of the South Vietnamese or the SV army, but rather the 'roll over let Uncle Sam take over' message, that came through loud and clear to the locals and the army. So the average GI usually had a profound contempt for the fighting qualities of the South Vietnamese Regular Army. If your allies in war hate you, you hate them back,more than you do the enemy. A passive/aggresive mindfuck.

I had the good fortune to run across a book written by Tran Tri Vu called 'Lost Years my 1,632 days in Vietnamese reeducation camps' (Indochina monograph 3). In it the inmates, who were told to pack for a 7 day 'Uncle Ho' orientation after the NVA's victory in 1975. In fact ten to hundreds of thousands former South Vietnamese were imprisoned as slave labor for indeterminate sentences. The inmates had a lot of time to reflect on what went wrong, and what was wrong with the present communist system where the victors ended up being more corrupt than the defeated. What was most striking to me was the discussions about the Americans. But alas, I have much work to do today and little time.


Friday, December 4, 2009 at 12:29:00 PM GMT-5  

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