Friday, April 27, 2018

All Wars Are Wars Of Choice

Originally Published August 17, 2009; Last Updated April 27, 2018; Last Republished  April 27, 2018:

Unfortunately our president has signaled his intention to sustain or escalate5 the Afghanistan War, calling it a "war of necessity"1. Our president's justification for calling the Afghanistan War a war of necessity is his expressed objective of denying Al Qaeda (asa al Qaida) a safe haven2.

It's unclear and our president did not articulate how and why the Afghanistan War (or any war) denies Al Qaeda safe havens? Even more fundamentally it's unclear that denying "safe havens" is even necessary or sufficient to prevent an attack on America2.

Our president needs more than simple slogans and summary statements if he plans to do anything but end the Afghanistan War3 with all diligent speed.

UPDATED 09/21/2009 Unclassified (w/o Enclosures) COMISAF Initial Afghanistan Report (aka McChrystal Report, 1.6M pdf). Courtesy of the Washington Post.


UPDATED 04/27/2018 Reuters, U.S. Air Force Says Trains In Vicinity of South China Sea and Reuters, Korean leaders aim for end of war, 'complete denuclearization' after historic summit and Reuters, From Cheerleader to Global Stage, North Korea's First Lady Joins Summit Dinner and Bloomberg, When Kim Met Moon: In Pictures and SCMP, US Air Force Bombers Carry Out Drills In Vicinity’ of South China Sea and VOA, China Cautiously Optimistic About North-South Korea Talks and SCMP, US ‘Will Not Take The Bait and Respond’ To China's Attempt To Intimidate Taiwan, Pentagon Says

UPDATED 02/01/2018 NewYorker, Trump’s Nuclear Threats

UPDATED 01/31/2018 Atlantic, Is Trump Preparing for War With North Korea?

UPDATED 01/29/2018 Economist, North Korea's nuclear threat in 2018

It seems useful to recall what America's leaders said almost 18 years ago, before preëmptively attacking Iraq in May 2003 to kill a tyrant, referred to as the "Butcher of Baghdad".
"...these are Arabs 23 million of the most educated Arabs who are going to welcome us as liberators..." --Paul Wolfowitz, Deputy Defense Secretary--
Oh, did I mention that we are still fighting and paying† for that war and its derivatives? Now, our national leadership is provoking and planning for another preemptive war to eliminate another tyrant! But, unlike the misinformation, disinformation, and propaganda used by the sycophants to support their preemptive attack of Iraq, North Korea really does have nuclear weapons.

If our nation's proposed solutions to today's many global problems is war we are in desperate need of a dramatically different model and national leadership.

† The initial cost estimate for the Iraq War debacle was $60B, which the Iraqis would pay from oil revenues. Today, the cost estimates for the Iraq war debacle may reach $6T, as in trillion! (BI, Initial Cost Estimates For The Iraq War Were Almost Too Low To Believe and NYT, Threats and Responses, The Costs, White House Cuts Estimate of Costs of War with Iraq)

UPDATED 06/09/2012 NYT, Suicides Outpacing War Deaths for Troops

UPDATED 06/03/2012 Reuters, China steps up Afghan role as Western pullout nears China must play a significant, if independent role in stabilizing Afghanistan while Afghanistan develops its raw material resources, economic and cultural independence.

China must provide general education and training for the entire Afghanistan population not just security forces—in fact the military, security forces and general population can all attend school together in the morning and military, security and job training, respectively, in the afternoon.

NATO can handle the military training.

UPDATED 01/22/2012 Reuters, Exclusive: How Pakistan helps the U.S. drone campaign

UPDATED 10/09/2011 UPI, License to kill?

UPDATED 10/08/2011 NYT, Secret U.S. Memo Made Legal Case to Kill a Citizen

The administration must make public the complete unredacted murder memo issued by its Office of Legal Counsel, including all facts supporting its justification for the targeted killing of Americans Awlaki and Kahn et al.

The information leaked in the above NYT article is unpersuasive and inadequate to differentiate the Executive from a mobster syndicate marking its rivals for murder.

UPDATED 10/05/2011 Reuters, Secret panel can put Americans on "kill list'. If the information in this article is complete and accurate a special prosecutor must be appointed to investigate the President, National Security Council Subcommittee officials, and other participating officials for what appears to be the criminal maintenance and usage of an ad hoc murder list.

UPDATED 09/30/2011 NYT, American Strike on American Target Revives Contentious Constitutional Issue and WP, Secret U.S. memo sanctioned killing of Aulaqi

Our President is pursuing a personal presidency on steroids with the the recent extra judicial killing of Americans Awlaki and Kahn—both were reportedly killed in a single drone attack launched over Yemen on the basis of unknown authority.

Additionally, it appears the capture component of the so called secret "capture or kill list" is little more than mental salve for those engaged in the hunting and killing of human beings.

UPDATED 04/15/2011 Newsweek, Inside the Killing Machine.

It's unclear what evidence, if any, the administration is relying on to support its assertion that drone strikes are reducing the chances of another terrorist attack (just the opposite may in fact be true)? Moreover, anonymous, unsupported, and opaque assertions that

"CT [counterterrorism] operations are conducted in strict accordance with American law and are governed by legal guidance provided by the Department of Justice."--Newsweek--

is unlikely to be persuasive. Assuming the quoted unidentified U.S. official is using "CT" to include targeted drone killing? One certainly sympathizes with Rizzo's precarious circumstances, but we should not conflate targeted killing with death warrants. However nefarious each may be.

UPDATED 07/30/2010 BBC, Obama confirms plan for US troop withdrawal from Iraq.

Mr. President, stop the speeches and follow the Dutch!

UPDATED 07/30/2010 CSM, Pakistan likes Al Qaeda more than America. Perhaps, a few more billion dollars in Pakistan aid will drop the favorable perception of America below 10%, while Pakistani intelligence (ISI) aids our latest ostensible enemy, the Taliban? Eventually we'll figure out that you cannot deal with the twin scourges of ignorance and government-religion with force. It's only a question of how many billions we'll waste figuring it out?

UPDATED 07/25/2010 NYT, The War Logs and Guardian, Afghanistan, The War Logs and Der Spiegel, Explosive Leaks Provide Image of War from Those Fighting It.

"The Pentagon is spending billions to train the Afghan forces to secure the country. But the police have proved to be an especially risky investment and are often described as distrusted, even loathed, by Afghan civilians. The reports recount episodes of police brutality, corruption petty and large, extortion and kidnapping. Some police officers defect to the Taliban. Others are accused of collaborating with insurgents, arms smugglers and highway bandits. Afghan police officers defect with trucks or weapons, items captured during successful ambushes or raids."--NYT quoting 1 of 92,000 U.S. military documents leaked by WikiLeaks--

"The people of Afghanistan keep loosing their trust in the government because of the high amount of corrupted government officials,...The general view of the Afghans is that the current government is worst than the Taliban."--NYT quoting 1 of 92,000 U.S. military documents leaked by WikiLeaks--

These are the individuals our president is staking his Afghanistan exit strategy on...of course this is a simple continuation (or worse, expansion) of King Bush the Idiot's drivel, "when they stand up, we'll stand down".

UPDATED 07/24/2010 Newsweek, We’re Not Winning. It’s Not Worth It by Richard Haas.

"...The [thoroughly corrupt] Afghan government shows little sign of being prepared to deliver either clean administration or effective security at the local level...."--Newsweek

If the Afghanis are to eliminate the dual scourge of ignorance and government religion that bind them (and other nations) in dire and life threatening poverty (Afghanistan is ranked 181 of 182) it will be because the Afghanis determine, regardless of the costs (and the costs will be great in terms of Afghani lives) to eradicate both ignorance and government religion.

It will not occur under the thoroughly corrupt Karzai government, a government that has demonstrated a determined effort to exploit both ignorance and government religion for personal gain. It will not occur under the guns or occupation of American troops, both simply reinforce entrenchment of ignorance and government religion.

UPDATED 07/21/2010 NYT, Ex-Official Says Afghan and Iraq Wars Increased Threats to Britain.

A reminder, as if one were needed, that the Iraq and Afghanistan debacles were and are unnecessary self-inflicted disasters. Both disastrous debacles must be ended immediately.

UPDATED 07/01/2010 NYT, New Estimate of Strength of Al Qaeda Is Offered

For the first time our nation is disclosing what our trillions of dollars has been chasing—calculate the dollars per terrorist spent, not including the lives of our soldiers (NYT, Names of the Dead)! It makes you sick to your stomach to think that these self-inflicted wounds to our great nation are the result of decisions by an idiot king (King Bush the Idiot); a small group of intellectual neoconservatives that incorrectly concluded you can conqueror instead of cooperate; and a misinformed and obsequious Congress.

UPDATED 05/28/2010 ChinaPost, U.S. reaches 1,000 death marker in Afghan war.

The is reporting current cumulative Afghanistan US fatalities at 1086 of 1788.

UPDATED 05/13/2010 WP, Obama meets with Afghan President Hamid Karzai at the White House

Our President seems determined to continue the Afghanistan debacle, including propping up its corrupt leader Hamid Karzai. Instead of propping up the corrupt leader of Afghanistan, because that's all there is, let's immediate withdraw from the Afghanistan debacle. Notwithstanding the President's perpetual pronouncements "we're gaining momentum" (whatever that means), Congress must immediately stop all funding unrelated to immediate withdrawal of our troops from the Afghanistan debacle.

UPDATED 04/14/2010 WashTimes, Bill seeks Afghan pullout timetable In addition to a short time table for immediate troop withdrawal from the Afghanistan Debacle Congress must cut-off all funding that is unrelated to such withdrawal.

UPDATED 03/29/2010 Telegraph, CIA 'suggests' Europe should understand suffering of women under Taliban.

A newly leaked (Wikileaks) CIA "Red Cell" report dated March 11, 2010 anticipates European (French and German) backlash over the expected increases in Afghanistan coalition casualties. Solution, give our president some talking points to try and persuade the Europeans to stick with our Afghanistan debacle notwithstanding the increased casualties. In the first three months of 2010 the Afghanistan debacle casualties have been reported at 137 verses 78 for the same period in 2009.

UPDATED 02/20/2010 BBC, Nato reassures Afghans after Dutch government collapse.

Our troops must join the Dutch in leaving Afghanistan, preferably before August 2010. We must unambiguously say to all of our politicians, if you start an undeclared offensive war or conflict your public career is finished—if you fail to immediately stop an undeclared offensive war or conflict your public career is finished.

UPDATED 02/01/2010 Reuters, Obama seeks $33 billion for Afghanistan troop rise.

More wasted dollars for the Afghanistan Debacle—this is $33 billion more for FY 2010, not the recently released FY 2011 where, there's more wasted Afghanistan Debacle dollars...

UPDATED 01/08/2010 UPI, Karzai strikes defiant and sovereign tone.

Right message; Wrong messenger:

"...they [West] must respect Afghanistan and its government, and understand that we are a people, we are a country, we have a history, we have interests, we have pride, we have dignity,..."--Warlord Karzai--

UPDATED 12/01/2009 NYT, Obama Sets Faster Troop Deployment to Afghanistan.

UPDATED 11/30/2009 Reuters, Obama sets new Afghan strategy, briefs allies.

Our president is not setting a "new strategy" he's simply confirming an age-old adage that starting wars are easy and stopping them a little harder—but, stop we must. Our congress must immediately cease all funding for the president's "new strategy" and demand an immediate stoppage to the most unfortunate Afghanistan debacle. Funding only activity directly related to the immediate withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan. More after our president’s speech sincerely informing us that he has no choice but to continue the Afghanistan debacle in order to stop it!

UPDATED 11/29/2009 UPI, Sen. Lugar says Obama in need of support.

Senator Lugar is incorrect—our president needs our strongest opposition to any decision to escalate the Afghanistan debacle. Our president must immediately begin removing our troops from Afghanistan.

UPDATED 11/25/2009 Reuters, U.S. will be out of Afghanistan by 2017: White House.

The White House spokesman is incorrect—we are NOT asking why we are in the Afghanistan War debacle—we are demanding that it end now, not within eight years from now. Perhaps the White House spokesman misspoke and after seeking clarification will announce we will be out of Afghanistan within EIGHT MONTHS.

UPDATED 11/18/2009 WP, Clinton visits Afghanistan with message on corruption.

UPDATED 11/18/2009 UPI, Afghan minister hit with bribe allegations.

"Afghanistan's mining minister [, Mohammad Ibrahim Adel] allegedly accepted a $30 million bribe to award a major [copper mining] development to a Chinese company [, China Metallurgical Group Corp]"--UPI quoting U.S. Official--

UPDATED 11/12/2009 NYT, Analysis: US Low on Options in Afghanistan.

Is there a punch line to the White House statement telling the thoroughly corrupt warlord Hamid Karza to fight corruption or risk additional American troops? (see Afghanistan sinks in new corruption ranking and Corruption Perceptions Index 2009; Afghanistan is next to last at 179 of 180 on the 2009 corruption perception index; only Somalia is ranked more corrupt.) Suggested Punch Line: Time is of the essence; additional American troops will not be coming and existing American troops will begin withdrawal or accelerated training programs of an all Afghanistan security force beginning Christmas 2009. Reportedly, our ambassador in Kabul, retired Lieutenant General and former Afganistan Commander of the Combined Forces Command, Karl Eikenberry, has urged Barack Obama not to send more troops.

UPDATED 11/11/2009 WP, Obama to receive proposals for Afghan campaign.

UPDATED 11/10/2009 UPI, White House: Obama Afghan strategy not set.

UPDATED 11/09/2009 UPI, Report: Obama sets Afghan strategy.

If the reports are correct that President Obama will escalate the Afghanistan debacle it will be a disastrous decision for America and our young president. Eventually our leadership will stop trying to "save face" and leave Afghanistan in pretty much the same state they and predecessor attackers have found it for centuries. It's only a question of how many American lives and dollars Generals Petraeus and McChrystal will waste leaving. Unfortunately, our president appears to be pursing by stealth what King Bush the Idiot created and pursued with ignorant arrogance. The primary purpose of Afghanistan’s escalation is likely to augment the delicate diplomatic dance aimed at ensuring Iran’s religious leadership conform Iran’s nuclear program to IAEA standards. Our military has a saying that seem particularly applicable to any impending decision to escalate President Obama's Afghanistan debacle or attack Iran: "an ah shit wipes out all prior atta boys".

UPDATED 10/27/2009 CSM, Matthew Hoh: new poster boy for critics of Afghanistan war.

Nice to read that some refuse to participate and resign in opposition to perpetuating the Afghanistan debacle. Those criticizing Hoh's youth, implying lack of experience to judge the Afghanistan debacle, are wise to remember that "experience" can be the problem that creates or continues a problem. Hearing our Secretary of Defense assert as justification for continuing the Afghanistan debacle the face saving of a super power should send lightening bolts down your spine. When did "saving face" become justification for beginning, continuing, or ending wars?

UPDATED 10/22/2009 NewYorker, Jane Mayer on Predator Drones and Pakistan.

Jane Mayer probes for the strategic implications of a worldwide opaque predator drone targeted and collateral killing program run by the secretive CIA and their cowboy prone private contractors (e.g. Ze aka Blackwater). The Obama administration is kickin' continuous space controlled [as opposed to based] warfare up a notch, without any public debate. Our very recent experience informs us that this is not a recipe likely to result in success. The predator drone targeted and collateral killing program must be transparent—the policy, procedure, and guidelines for controlling and using these modern mechanical hounds.

UPDATED 07/25/2010 View Is Bleaker Than Official Portrayal of War in Afghanistan

"Flying over southern Afghanistan on a combat mission, one of the Air Force’s premier armed drones, a Reaper, went rogue. Equipped with advanced radar and sophisticated cameras, as well as Hellfire missiles and 500-pound bombs, the Reaper had lost its satellite link to a pilot who was remotely steering the drone from a base in the United States. Again and again, the pilot struggled to regain control of the drone. Again and again, no response. The reports reveal that the military in Afghanistan lost many of the tiny five-pound surveillance drones with names like Raven and Desert Hawk that troops tossed out like model airplanes to peer around the next hill. But they had never before lost one of the Reapers, with its 66-foot wingspan. As a last resort, commanders ordered an Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle fighter jet to shoot down the $13 million aircraft before it soared unguided into neighboring Tajikistan. Ground controllers picked an unpopulated area over northern Afghanistan and the jet fired a Sidewinder missile, destroying the Reaper’s turbo-prop engine. Suddenly, the satellite link was restored, but it was too late to salvage the flight. At 5:30 a.m., controllers steered it into a remote mountainside for a final fiery landing."--NYT quoting 1 of 92,000 U.S. military documents leaked by WikiLeaks--

UPDATED 05/28/2010 NYT, U.N. Official Set to Ask U.S. to End C.I.A. Drone Strikes.

UPDATED 10/27/2009 NYT, Brother of Afghan Leader Is Said to Be on C.I.A. Payroll.

Deja Vu..., so we put the Afghan drug lords on predator assassination list and the CIA payroll—wonder if they're paid before assassinated?

UPDATED 10/09/2009 UPI, Obama said firm on deciding war policy.

Our president must listen veryclosely to our congressional leadership cautioning him against deploying additional troops. We tired of the war shortly after al Qaida fled Tora Bora for the remote regions in Pakistan, almost eight years ago.

UPDATED 09/15/2009 Reuters, Afghan war likely needs more U.S. troops: Mullen.

While this is undoubtedly true the Afghanis must resource their own counter-insurgency. The Afghanis alone must choose whether to continue living under corrupt warlords or connect their nation to the global development grid (hint: you'll want to stop killing your girls and start sending them to school with the boys).

"There is no longer any appetite in Washington for the Iraq war. The Obama administration is preoccupied with the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan and rallying fading support among Americans and skeptical Democrats who control the U.S. Congress for the eight-year-old war there."--Reuters, Mortars hit Baghdad Green Zone during Biden visit--

UPDATED 09/11/2009 NYT, Obama Faces Doubts From Democrats on Afghanistan.

Let's not wait for anything but the immediate order from our president to redeploy our Afghanistan and Iraq troops home. Our president need not wait for any Afghanistan and Iraq troops to receive additional training.

UPDATED 09/12/2009 Neither the Afghanistan nor Iraq War is necessary for us to pursue, apprehend, or kill Al Qaeda (asa al Qaida) members ( see Reuters, Obama says U.S. must renew fight against al Qaeda).

UPDATED 08/31/2009 Reuters, U.S. commander: Afghanistan situation serious.

Army General Stanley McChrystal is expected to report today that King Bush the Idiot's4 Afghanistan disaster is aSNAFU, but not FUBAR. Yeah but, that doesn't mean we must or should repair it—let's immediatelysend the corrupt warlord Karzai notice that we're packing up and leaving for home. On a different aspect of Afghanistan fortunately the administration has fired the PR firm previously used to screen reporters who had the correct "tone and style" on Afghanistan. (see UPI, Military drops Afghan reporter assessors) This and other subtle forms of "pay-to-play" must be entirely eliminated from our government—we shouldn't have to wait eight to learn of a FUBAR SNAFU because "incorrect" reporters were screened out!

UPDATED 08/30/2009 Reuters, Serious fraud complaints double in Afghan vote

No amount of American, Russian, and British troops can change Afghanistan until the Afghanis decide to get rid of their thoroughly corrupt warlords, including Karzai. And only the Afghanis can decide this or whether they want to remain a perpetually contained corrupt country—no troops are required to make this decision.

UPDATED 10/29/2009 U.N. Can’t Account for Millions Sent to Afghan Election Board.

What American is surprised by this report—it's easy to think that corrupt officials of corrupt nations perpetuate conflict within their nation for gain. How about if we bypass the corrupt officials and deal directly with the people? One can image the Karzai bothers' conversation as they work to fleece the American taxpayer.

UPDATED 08/26/2009 UPI, Mullen offers dim view of Afghanistan

"This is the eighth year, but there is a newness here,...There is a starting again, or starting over. Iraq

has been the focus. It hasn't been Afghanistan."--Admiral Mullen-- Sounds like a perfect opportunity to execute a troop draw down and exit strategy.

UPDATED 08/24/2009 NYT, In Afghanistan, the Choice Is Ours.

Richard Haass applies a traditional two pronged test for determining "wars of necessity" and concludes Afghanistan is not a war of necessity.

"If Afghanistan were a war of necessity, it would justify any level of effort. It is not and does not. It is not certain that doing more will achieve more."--Richard Haass--

NYT, Obama Defends Strategy in Afghanistan.


1. Leaders of every nation will always state their nation will not war unless "absolutely necessary" and those same leaders and nations when they do war will always say their war is "absolutely necessary"—it's nothing more than meaningless circular logic—all wars are wars of choice.

2. A very strong case can be made that the Afghanistan War like its sister Iraq War is in fact counter productive to denying Al Qaeda safe havens (assuming safe havens result in attacks) or preventing another attack on America.

3. Ending wars should never be confused with ending the pursuit of those causing harm or plotting to cause harm to America or other nations. In this regard the recent Pakistan - United States mutual cooperation has been instructive.

4. UPDATED 08/31/2009 King Bush the Idiot and jesters et al. were busy creating and sustaining the Iraq debacle and provoking an Iran debacle to focus on Afghanistan.

5. UPDATED 09/21/2009 Our president has since made clear that the troop escalation was for purposes of providing security during the Afghani elections. He further clarified that no decisions concerning Afghanistan will be taken until the Afghanistan election outcome is clear.

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