Open Thread, 7 March, 2009

Princess_whelan I am heartened by the news that President Obama is still considering a policy of minimalist counter-terrorism engagement in Afghanistan rather than full blown COIN with all its manifestations of nation creation and vast expense.

At the same time I am waiting for some indication of the seriousness of the US/Syrian talks.

That being the case I declare an open thread.  pl

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21 Responses to Open Thread, 7 March, 2009

  1. glenstein says:

    Ok a question, that seems so obvious to me that I must be missing something:
    There will still be 30-50k troops in Iraq, after the 19 month time period. Presumably many of them have already been there for 3-4 tours.
    It’s different in degree, but not in kind, from an actual perpetual deployment, and we’ve ransacked republicans repeatedly for holding anything remotely close to this position. I also imagine that, if Bush were trying to sell a 30-50k troop level as “withdrawal”, we wouldn’t buy it.
    So, why is the public at large OK with this?

  2. MTJ says:

    Col – You might have answered this question already but where do you get your artwork for your posts? By the way, Is that John Carter?

  3. Patrick Lang says:

    Warlord of Barsoom. pl

  4. Patrick Lang says:

    You are obviously a provocateur. What part of Dwcember, 2011 did you miss? It was crystal clear. pl

  5. Thomas Ricks, Washington Post Pentagon and military correspondent lectures about the future of Iraq:
    Video: Thomas Ricks On The Future Of Iraq

  6. It definitely ain’t Rothko.

  7. glenstein says:

    my apologies. This was an issue of me being stupid and misinformed.
    I had thoughts like this in mind, namely, the time period in which this was still an open question.
    Well, that settles that.

  8. Farmer Don says:

    Col Lang,
    glenstein might not be a provocateur, just misinformed.
    I also keep hearing in the media (Canadian TV/Radio), that 30,000 troops will be staying. The second part of the pull out never seems to get mentioned.
    What are others on this blog hearing?

  9. roy belmont says:

    Along the same lines as your problems with covert and not-so pressure:
    Journalist Grace Halsell’s first-person account of a similar experience.
    via Joachim Martillo

  10. curious says:

    Interesting random note. I never quite figure out what causes British vs. Russia rivalry until now. They played the central asia “great game”
    Russian military involvement in Afghanistan has a long history, going back to Tsarist expansions in the so-called “Great Game” between Russia and Britain. This began in the 19th century with such events as the Panjdeh Incident, a military skirmish that occurred in 1885 when Russian forces seized Afghan territory south of the Oxus River around an oasis at Panjdeh. This interest in the region continued on through the Soviet era, with billions in economic and military aid sent to Afghanistan between 1955 and 1978.[7]
    From the British perspective, the Russian Empire’s expansion into Central Asia threatened to destroy the “jewel in the crown” of the British Empire, India. As the Tsar’s troops began to subdue one Khanate after another, the British feared that Afghanistan would become a staging post for a Russian invasion of India.
    It was with these thoughts in mind that in 1838 the British launched the First Anglo-Afghan War and attempted to impose a puppet regime under Shuja Shah. The regime was short lived, and unsustainable without British military support. By 1842, mobs were attacking the British on the streets of Kabul and the British garrison was forced to abandon Kabul due to constant civilian attacks.
    The retreating British column consisted of approximately 4,500 regular British troops, 12,000 Hindu soldiers of the British Army, and support staff. During a series of attacks by Afghan warriors, all but one, Dr William Brydon, were killed on the march back to India. Dr Brydon was, with one of his servants, allowed to go free in order to deliver the message of the destruction of the British force in Afghanistan

  11. Hank Foresman says:

    Engagement with Syria is a positive step. If there is going to be a real chance to solve any of the problems in the ME–Syria has to be included; Lebanon, Israel are both linked to Syria for good or ill.
    I am afraid that the US has the wrong leaders in Afghanistan unfortunately they worry more about body counts than providing security–by the way I have to wonder if the West is hoping to create a nation state of its own minds eye rather than a nation which reflects the realities of its history, culture, and society.
    Hank Foresman

  12. jonst says:

    Anybody following the Chas Freeman battle over at Steve Clemons website?

  13. PL! Question? Have you read Robert Kaplan’s “Imperial Grunts” and if so what did you think? Thanks!

  14. Margaret Steinfels says:

    U.S.-Syria: I have the impression that when no one expects movement on the Israeli-Palestinian front, Israel and the U.S. take up talks (or the idea of talks) with Syria. The Asad’s oblige by lifting an eyebrow of interest, but eventually reject what’s on offer.
    Question: is it all a sham? The U.S. looks involved. Syria looks approachable. Israel gets to keep the Golan Heights.

  15. jonst says:

    I was pretty impressed that Obama stuck to the Dec 2011 deadline. There had to be, and has to be, hard push back from some, but only “some” in the military on that. He seems to have stood his ground.

  16. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Margaret Steinfels:
    Yes, it is a sham.
    But it is not uncommon – in diplomacy you talk when no progress is possible and you talk when progress is possible.
    Check the CFR site and read what Mr. Abrams has to say; he says as much.

  17. steve says:

    Any recommendations on who to read on how the world economic downturn will affect what we do in the Middle East? On how or if it will affect the actors there.
    Secondly, I have had little luck finding a good source on China’s role, or potential role, in the Middle East and Afghanistan. Are they interested? Do we want them to be? I still think China has many internal problems to resolve before becoming a true superpower, but if they do resolve those, what will they do?

  18. Bobo says:

    Now, this Chas Freeman appointment is one this country needs. He seems to be a straight shooter thinking only of identifying the problem and providing some avenues to a solution without thinking of his own personal or religious views. The witchhunt going on by these American Citizens who love Israel first needs to be put into perspective. They are scared out of their minds that Obama will not fall in line with past views of Israel and do something different. Well something different is what is needed in our relationship with Israel. I’m not saying we should throw them off the bus but they certainly need to be put in the back of the bus till they learn to live with others.
    As to the FARA posting possibly Mr. Freeman should of registered in regard to his dealings with Saudi Arabia & China but then so should all them Witchhunters…Time will tell on that one.
    As to Iraq and the 2011 doubters. Come on Iraq is in the past as we are in a clean up phase. We will play in Afghanistan for awhile but our economy will get us out of there quickly, say 2012.
    Sure would like to know where our economy is gonna be in 2011???

  19. Charles I says:

    Ricks has been on tv for at least a week saying civil war awaits withdrawal.
    There must be some tiny number of soldiers who will still be in Iraq after withdrawal, for whatever purpose, needed or nefarious, but surely it’ll occur on schedule for economic and electoral reasons, never mind the chain of command, the rule of law and and foreign policy.
    I’m sure the USAF will obey any order about withdrawal from the whole embroglio. We have had a taste of how fraught that exercise can be for the honourably compliant soldier from Pat and some other vets. It will be felicitous to turn the public mind to those considerations. There’s heartening reporting I see of increased spending on veteran’s affairs.
    Once again the matter of post withdrawal contractors and collaborators comes to mind and I’ve encountered no reporting on it.
    “Talks” of Israeli peace with Anybody have, in a testament to resolve of each and every sponsor thereof, have gone on now for many cycles of war, through decades of wanton colonialism, the forum currently awash in Palestinian blood.
    A trip to the back of the bus won’t cure that. You have to take away the bully’s weapons and credit card before you can make him play nice.
    That would be SERIOUS engagement. I’m optimistic there’s going to be some sensible and fruitful engagement here and there, but SERIOUS, I’m doubtful.

  20. curious says:

    The chinese thing is escalating.
    China expressed anger Thursday over a resolution passed by the US Congress that condemned Beijing’s handling of the Tibet issue, saying that its policy in the region was supported by Tibetans.
    The family of missing Chinese rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng, who has been tipped for a Nobel Peace Prize, has defected to the United States, rights activists said Thursday.
    New York-based Human Rights in China and Radio Free Asia said Gao’s wife and children arrived in the United States on Wednesday and were seeking asylum.
    China `Worried’ Over Safety of U.S. Debt, Wen Says
    March 13 (Bloomberg) — China, the U.S. government’s largest creditor, is “worried” about its holdings of Treasuries and wants assurances that the investment is safe, Premier Wen Jiabao said.

  21. curious says:
    Destroyer to Protect Ship Near China
    The U.S. Navy has dispatched a guided-missile destroyer to the South China Sea after Chinese ships allegedly harassed an American ship operating there last weekend, a Pentagon official said yesterday.

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