Musings from George


Random Walk
September 18, 2016, 12:21 am
Filed under: Foreign Policy, Random walk

I just commented on an article in the NY Times, and thought it was time to write more than 140 characters or 1500 words about important topics.

KPFA is a local NPR station that does amazing things on its own small budget. One of their most popular services is interviewing very smart people in town-hall settings in Berkeley, California. Berkeley is one of the most liberal communities in the world, and people who like to be interviewed by KPFA tend to be pretty liberal.

I donated to KPFA this year, as I find their appeals hard to resist (are you listening? have you paid? freeloader!!). One of the gifts for donating was a USB thumb drive with almost four hundred interviews with interesting people, a gift of serendipity for a person with no ability to seek out those interesting people or to read their books.

Two retired CIA employees were interviewed as one of these many informative talks. The man had spent years in the Middle East and Afghanistan, and he was fairly blunt about our (the US government’s) prospect of success there: zero. What we portray as a democratically elected government fighting a terrorist organization is better represented as our decision to support our puppet in power (a Tajik) against the majority of the population (Pashtuns). Together with some additional powerful tribes (Uzbeks, Hazaras), the mix in Afghanistan looks oddly familiar (think Iraq) and equally unsolvable.

We drop bombs, we write checks, and occasionally an American soldier dies doing something that he / she believes is important. In the grand scheme of things, we are NOT helping. We prop up a minority-led government, we kill at times indiscriminately, and we get nothing in return.

Status quo is attractive. Inertia is powerful. But we really should *stop* doing things that do not benefit us. Even one more dollar, one more death is too much. I understand the Pottery Barn rule (you break it, you bought it) but that is capitated at the cost of the item you broke. We clearly did not break $850 BILLION in assets in Afghanistan … let’s cut our losses, bring home the troops, and make friends with the Pashtuns. Let’s stop buying heroin, and see if they plant fewer poppies. Hunting down their leaders, who have no argument with the US, is a waste of time and money.

I’m just saying …

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