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Town Square

Afghanistan, Taliban, Al Qaeda

Original post made by Paul Losch, a resident of Palo Alto, on Aug 1, 2010

If I were sitting in that egg shaped office along PA Avenue, I think I would be telling our folks that we are going to shut down the current effort after the November elections.

We are experiencing the sort of failure there that others have before us. It is not at all clear that dealing with Al Qaeda is getting done--witness the training and related terrorist activities coming out of Yemen, a supposed ally. Ft. Hood, XMas airplane bomber, to name but two.

This stuff is very difficult and complex, but I think that we just have to let go of Afghanistan and deal with these challenges another way. Since it appears that what there is of Al Qaeda in that part of the world is actually on our supposed ally Pakistan's side of the border, it calls into question just why we are putting so much effort next door.

There are many dysfunctional countries in this world.

Terrorists are a threat, and need to be shut down to the extent that is humanly possible.

More and more, I do not see US military initiatives as the means to protect this country from the types of terrorists who threaten our safety.

Comments

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Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 1, 2010 at 10:31 am

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

Because the US is reluctant to use those instruments of persuasion short of war, possibly to avoid looking the bully, we allow some grievances to fester until lancing is the only answer. Citizens of Saudi are allowed unfettered access to our country, and yet our visit to their country is severely restricted.
As a first step I would deny Saudi driving privileges in the US, requiring them to hire female chauffeurs instead.


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Posted by Gary
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 1, 2010 at 10:36 am

"I do not see US military initiatives as the means to protect this country from the types of terrorists who threaten our safety."

The CIA and waterboarding and Guantanamo and rendering were effective. Should we go back to those methods?


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Posted by Lost war
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Aug 1, 2010 at 1:50 pm

My guess is that Obama just wants to get through the November elections without rocking the boat over Afghanistan.

Congress has just passed a one year appropriation bill for Afghanistan. Many Dems and a few Republicans voted against it. Next year it could very well fail. My guess is Obama senses this and will start getting out next July as he originally said. He knows it will be hard to get money year after year to fight a losing war.

He doesn't want McCain and the Republicans labeling him with a lost war before the mid-term elections. Obama knows his limitation, he may well be a one term President because ultimately he will have to pull out of Afghanistan without a win and the Republicans will label him a loser. Right now he is giving the military everything they want.


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Posted by Gary
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 1, 2010 at 2:15 pm

"Right now he is giving the military everything they want."

Not quite, but close enough for a leftist prez. I support him in his endeavor to win a war that is, as he said, essential to the security of our nation. I don't support nation building in Afghanistan, but if the prez wants it, it is his call. I would think that regular bombing of Taliban positions, wherever they hide, should be enough to do the job.

The critical game-changing recent war was Iraq, and GWB will have his name burned in bronze for having the political guts to win it, despite BHO's best efforts to prevent a victory there. History is not kind to those presidents who make the wrong judgement call. Ever notice how quiet the lefties in Palo Alto have become since Bush prevailed in Iraq?



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Posted by VoxPop
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 1, 2010 at 3:18 pm

Prevailed, Gary, surely you jest.


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Posted by Gary
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 1, 2010 at 8:58 pm

"Prevailed, Gary, surely you jest."

Please explain your protest. Iraq is now free to have an election where the outcome is not certain. First time in Arab history.


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Posted by Seth
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Aug 1, 2010 at 11:37 pm

I find Paul Losch's blogs to be both shallow and specifically designed to antagonize. Does he even have an original opinion other than the standard heard-all-this-before lines? Get life folks.


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Posted by Sharon
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 2, 2010 at 12:04 am


The way out of both Iraq and Afghanistan is through Iran.
After 911 Iran collaborated with us in hunting down AQ.
We need to put a stop to domestic lobbies of alien nations that run counter to our best interest.

We need to follow our own best interests and reach out to Iran as an ally, our long term NATO partner, Turkey, who is fighting along side us in AfPak, can help fix our relationship with Iran--- as can Brazil.
We need to put American interests first in our Foreign Policy and end our dysfunctional relationships in the Mid East, as Petraeus said we should.
American troops lives are at stake, as is our treasure.


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Posted by Outside Observer
a resident of another community
on Aug 2, 2010 at 12:09 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 2, 2010 at 12:27 pm

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

My big gripe with Reagan was his failure to publicly excoriate whomever was responsible for posting sentries at the Marine Barracks with unloaded guns. In Afghanistan, the rules of engagement are increasingly putting both our troops and the civilian population at risk with suicidal rules of engagement.


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Posted by Paul Losch
a resident of Palo Alto
on Aug 2, 2010 at 1:17 pm

Paul Losch is a registered user.

Hey Seth,

Thanks for the kind words. I am glad that you take the time to read my blogs.

Here is my suggestion to you: weigh in on my blogs around the content of the topic, not about your opinion of me or what I write as my opinion.

Opt in as you see fit.


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Posted by Paul
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 2, 2010 at 4:39 pm

"I don't support nation building in Afghanistan..."

Neither did Reagan or Bush 41, after the Soviets trashed the place. But, since nobody else bothered to build a nation there, the Taliban stepped right up, and weren't the results lovely?

Obama is making the best of this Bush turkey he inherited. It was a great show at first, with lots of chest beating and B52s making curving contrails in the sky above the CNN cameras to delight the Barcalounger Brigade here at home. But it was all show; Bush completely failed to exterminate either the Taliban or al Qaida, or to set up a strong government.

If Obama doesn't finish the job and build a nation there, somebody else will have to try again in a few years, after more American civilians die in the next Al Qaida caper, amde in Afghanistan. We might as well buckle down and do it right this time.

"Iraq is now free to have an election where the outcome is not certain."

Well now, ain't that just ducky? Take the uncertain election we had over here about a decade ago, which five activist judges resolved by giving us W, who in turn gave us two quagmire wars, a huge deficit, a world-class recession, bailouts for CEOS, and the opportunity to cheer uncertain elections worldwide.

Don't fret. The Iraq election will get resolved. Eventually the next Saddam Hussein will get impatient and untangle the process.


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Posted by Sharon
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 2, 2010 at 5:09 pm

Currently AQ is operating from Yemen, in Saudi Arabia's back yard, they need to step up and crush it, the NSA and Echelon should be able to target and identify all electronic communications comming from that-- or any other part of the world.
We can declare victory in Iraq, leave a few US fortresses and go home, if Iraq falls into civil war then we will do a deal with the victors.
We have no need to stay in AfPak, we can retain some fortresses and deal with threats through drones, Special Forces and air-power.
India has more of a national interest in pacifying Afghanistan than we do-- let them deal with it.

We need to reorient our whole Mid East policy as Petraeus recommended, we need to disengage from the Holy Land Apartheid/Colonial quagmire-- it is doomed.
Our allies in the region are Turkey, Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia and in the larger Muslim world-- Indonesia.
We need a realistic approach to our foreign policy with the Muslim world --- one in four of the world population--1.7 Billion people--Algeria put a stop to the fundamentalist rebels, so did Tunisia and Morocco, we persuaded Libya to give up their WMDs and should use the same approach with Iran.
We need to give up the Wilsonian dream of imposing Democracy in the region--- there is no true democratic state in the Mid East-- Turkey is the closest to one that we can recognize.
We hand out $3 Billion a year to Israel and another $2 Billion to Egypt-- what do we get in return?-- nothing, we can use that money in the US much more productively.
It is time to get serious, realistic, decisive and put American interests first.


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Posted by Jaime
a resident of Adobe-Meadows
on Aug 2, 2010 at 11:11 pm

Sharon: I'm glad you will be right there with rifle in hand as part of those Special Forces teams. I'd hate to think you were all talk, calling all the shots from a cozy little spot in Palo Alto while some one else takes all the risk.


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Posted by Sharon
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 2, 2010 at 11:26 pm


We have the capability to know who is talking to whom any where in the World through Blackberry, Google, Cisco etc.
We can track all financial transactions and identify the bad guys.

We need to keep US best interest in mind and target the existential threats to the US, we can do that-- we just need the right focus, commitment, loyalty and will.


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Posted by Paul
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 3, 2010 at 10:21 am

Sharon

Your prescription makes eminent sense. We'd be in a far better position over there if Bush/Cheney/Condi/Rummy had followed it in 2001-03. Let's hope Obama is now, mysterious as his methods may be.

How do we get India engaged?


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Posted by Sharon
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 3, 2010 at 2:14 pm


We get India engaged by inviting them---they have a strategic interest in a stable Afghanistan as does China and Iran, neither of whom want crazed Taliban spreading their influence across their borders.
Pakistan is an unreliable ally, as the UK PM stated on his visit to India last week.
We have wasted a lot of time and money on Pakistan and it is time for a change in policy.
The recent leak documents on AfPak support this case.

We should walk away for the quagmire in the Holy Land-- it is heading towards a one state solution with apartheid for a number of years followed by a South African solution imposed by world and UN boycotts.


India is the worlds largest democracy with whom we have many strategic and economic interests---Pakistan is on the verge of becoming the first failed state with nuclear weapons--India is most threatened by that scenario and has a motivation do do something about it by putting boots on the ground in Afghanistan and containing Pakistan.


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Posted by The Real Sharon
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 3, 2010 at 2:41 pm

"We should walk away for the quagmire in the Holy Land-- it is heading towards a one state solution with apartheid for a number of years followed by a South African solution imposed by world and UN boycotts."

Sharon, once again, making statements that are no borne out by the facts. Obviously the US will not "walk away for the quagmire in the Holy Land" and, Sharon, instead of making the bogus claim that Israel is an apartheid nation, should instead challenge Hamas to recognize Israel's right to exist and proceed with a real peace settlement. As most of us realize, you cannot have a one-sided peace agreement with someone who is calling for your destruction


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Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 3, 2010 at 5:42 pm

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

Remember "Millions for defense but not one cent for tribute"?
Sharon, the 3 Bil we give to Israel and the matching amount we give Egypt is a tribute we pay to purchase peace in the Middle
East. After the Eight Day War, we coerced Israel into giving back lands they had won [and Arab countries lost] that Israel had every right to keep, both as restitution for Arab aggression and as a needed buffer zone. You want to cut the tribute? Restore to Israel the right to self defense.


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Posted by Sharon
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 3, 2010 at 5:59 pm


If Israel and Egypt cannot get along then it is their problem, not our problem.
During the Cold War we had different priorities and interests because the Soviet Union had interests in the region--- that died 20yrs ago.
General Petraeus made the case crystal clear-- our biased and misguided policy in the Holy Land endangers the lives of American troops and is not in Americas best interests-- enough is enough-- time to end the dole to Egypt and Israel-- we get nothing in return.
There are 1.7 billion Muslims in the world, they are potential customers and allies-- as they say in the Marines-- " It is what it is"


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Posted by The real sharon
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 3, 2010 at 9:14 pm

"General Petraeus made the case crystal clear-- our biased and misguided policy in the Holy Land endangers the lives of American troops and is not in Americas best interests-- enough is enough-- time to end the dole to Egypt and Israel-- we get nothing in return."
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.] Petraeus never made those statments--he has clearly come out and stated as such. Sharon is basing her claim on the reporting of a former advidor to Hamas and Hezbollah. Sharon has yet to post a link actually showing that Petraeus made those statements. In the meantime, by repeating that lie, Sharon is besmerching the reputation of a highly decorated soldier.

"There are 1.7 billion Muslims in the world, they are potential customers and allies"
I find it interesting that Sharon is willing to ignore the lack of democracy and freedom, as well as equal rights for all religions, women and gays in most of these muslim countries, in her quest to attract "potential" customers. Does Sharon's largess extend to Al Qeida, hamas, Hezbollah and other terrorist organizations.

"-- as they say in the Marines-- " It is what it is"
Where do they say that in the Marines, Sharon? are you speaking from personal experience in the Marines.
[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 4, 2010 at 5:18 am

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

60 years ago this coming Saturday, USNS H. B. Freeman docked in Pusan harbor, debarking the 23rd Infantry Regiment, my unit. Today my unit is still in Korea because Ike committed himself to ending, rather than winning the war. It is because another president wanted a quick fix that we committed to Israel to compensate them for surrendering an honest won strategic advantage. We disarmed Israel before her foes. Only a poltroon would now walk away from the consequences of that action.


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Posted by Paul
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 4, 2010 at 11:55 am

"Remember "Millions for defense but not one cent for tribute"?"

Oh, yeah, that quaint little anachronism from a braver age. Bush 43 scrapped it when he had Petraeus buy off the Sunni militias to dress up the 2007 surge. Presented as a quick easy victory (the so-called "Anbar Awakening"), ostensibly macho Bushies dutifully bought into it.


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Posted by Paul
a resident of Downtown North
on Aug 4, 2010 at 11:57 am

It's all about harmony, TRS, or the appearance thereof.


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Posted by Ed
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 4, 2010 at 12:05 pm

These are ridiculous threads on a ridiculous blog. Paul Losch posts bare bones argument, and the same three or four people beat their drums back and forth. I question the appropriateness on a community forum.


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Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 4, 2010 at 5:57 pm

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

Paul, you seem to think that any policy is defensible as long as you can point to an equivalent republican policy. My first named offender was Ike, a republican. I support or oppose policies depending on their effect on my safety and that of my line. I long ago stopped loving politicians of any ilk. I was a republican only long enough to vote for Shirley Temple Black against Pete McCloskey, the Red Marine.


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Posted by Marine
a resident of Meadow Park
on Aug 4, 2010 at 8:04 pm

Walter, these guys are all talk. If you had to share a foxhole with them on a crew-served weapon during an enemy assault, they would be the ones who would not come back after sending them for more ammo. Your references to your service just bounce right off of them


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Posted by Sharon
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 4, 2010 at 8:18 pm

Walter was drafted, we have a different quality of troops these days.


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Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 7, 2010 at 3:28 am

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

Sharon, you are wrong again, as usual. My serial number was RA 1932****. Draftees were US ********.


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Posted by Kudos to Obama
a resident of Greendell/Walnut Grove
on Aug 10, 2010 at 5:54 am

Well, gotta give Obama credit for failing to keep his promise to get all the troops out of Iraq in 2009, and instead keeping Bush's promise to draw down once the Iraqis can moniter their own security, with the "last down" date being this month.

Bush's agreement, made in 2008 and called the Iraq Status of Forces Agreement Web Link,
was made after it was clear to all in Iraq and almost all here that the Surge ("the surge is not working" per Obama's original campaign for POTUS page) was working.

Probably not coincidentally, the Iraqis signed teh SOFA after it was clear that their last defender was leaving office, and the next POTUS was someone who had been against freeing them from tyranny, was against the surge which finished the job, didn't think it possible for those silly Iraqis to be able to have a central, constitutional democracy and was against any funding for the help they got throughout their set-up.....

I think the Iraqis figured it was time to ..um.....do something or get off the pot...and that if they signed something with the Office of the President of the United States, the next POTUS might honor it..

Luckily, Obama honored THIS contract, our finest military forces were able to finish teaching the Iraqi forces to the best of their ability, and we were able to continue the original plan in an orderly fashion.

I hope the whole "timetable well publicized for 18 months" doesn't blow up in our faces, but given the reality of life, I am glad that Obama has kept Bush's plan.

Good job Obama! ( I am not being sarcastic!).

Now, if only Obama can follow good advice in Afghanistan.


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Posted by Mike
a resident of College Terrace
on Aug 11, 2010 at 3:07 am

Paul, how about espousing more housing along transit lines, as suburban sprawl is more responsible for our dependence on oil - and thus our involvement in that part of the world - than anything else. Politics starts at the doorstep, my friend.

We, in Palo Alto and across America can do our part by disengaging from habits and expectations that ultimately reap horror for those in the oil-producing nations that are too poor and helpless to defend themselves. From that we end up with blowback. They are us, in a very real way.

That said, looking at a recent issue of Time, showing a young woman whose nose and ears were cut off by her husband, because she escaped from his prior beatings and abuse, makes me think that we should be doing *something* to end that kind of sheer ignorance and horror. I don't know what the answer is, but when one sees what the most evil of leaders are capable of - Mugabe, the Sudanese thugs, etc. etc. It just seems that something needs to be done. I don't think that military action is necessarily the answer. Why, for instance, isn't Apple and other cell phone companies looking for substitute materials for cell phones, instead of depending on minerals from the Congo that are at the heart of the senseless violence, there.

Again, no pat answers here, but there ARE things that we can do - RIGHT NOW - to help engender more humanity, and end terror. At base, we are the victims of our own desires. Anyone looking into the root causes of our involvement in the Middle East has to consider the manipulations of our own politicians and business leaders as they walked the oily road. Remember, Iran had a democratically elected leader, just prior to the the CIA-sponsored overthrow that led to the Shah. The Shah was brought in to stop the threat of Iran nationalizing oil fields. Sick, huh?

In sum, human beings are wired to remember "wins". Americans - and especially upper-middle-class Americans like most tin Palo Alto have been winning for a long time. We need to do some hard thinking about deploying local solutions that *mean* something, all the way across the world. Setting examples.

All this begins with leadership. Where are the leaders? Ask a kid to name one politician that s/he thinks of as a hero, and why. I think you'll be surprised at the relative non-answers that come across. Obama is one example of what I'm talking about. He talked like a leader, but the walk just isn't there, yet (jury still out).

Keep on keeping on, Paul, but do start thinking about how we can impact politics at our front door. Musing about whether we should be here or there with military presence is only provocative; it generates discussion, but it doesn't get us solving local problems that have worldwide impact, downstream.


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Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 13, 2010 at 12:00 am

Walter_E_Wallis is a registered user.

I believe LRT was approved based on the agreement to have high density housing at the South end. That agreement was abandoned, and so another Tunerville Trolley.


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Posted by Perspective
a resident of Meadow Park
on Aug 13, 2010 at 5:37 am

Mike, when we try to use non-military solutions to help bring down vicious dicatatorships, the left oppose us every time.

I agree 100%. I would absolutely love to stop importing ALL oil from any country that is not a Constitutional Republic ( or at least a democracy...)

But...

Drill more at home so that we can use less abroad? NO

Build nuclear so we can use less oil? NO

Sanctions against Tyrannies? NO..cruel to the people!! ( witness Cuba, where gays are STILL imprisoned simply for being gay, yet our left insists that they are a great country because of its "Universal Health Crap") And when we manage to get it in place in any case...France, Russia and China will be sure to always undercut it.

Try to get Voice of America in to teach the people? NO..imperialist and arrogant fiddling with the peoples!

Try to covertly support the anti-tyrant? NO...imperialist arrogance, sending in our CIA to help the people rise up against the tyrant!

So, nice talking, but our left boxes into corners in all areas, and leaves us with no choices but to wait until something blows up in our faces (literally and figuratively), then go in militarily..and with any luck have enough will to go in, get the job done, set 'em on their way, and get out.

Then pray they have the wherewithal to keep on truckin' ( like they seem to be doing in Iraq so far...will Afghanistan be able to overthrow its neighbor's harboring of Taliban? Its dependence on Opium? Don't know...)