February 2nd, 2012
10:59 AM ET

Reality behind the changing Afghan mission

By Nic Robertson

While there are undoubtedly strong political (and financial) reasons for U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to set a firmer timetable for a change in mission of US forces in Afghanistan, they are probably not the whole story behind NATO’s evolving “end-game.”

French President Nicholas Sarkozy has already announced that his country's 3,600 troops deployed in Afghanistan will leave by the end of 2013 - a year early. That may have something to do with the fact that he is trailing badly in the polls ahead of presidential elections in April. But he is not alone. In Washington, London and Paris, Afghanistan is an unpopular war.

Panetta's suggestion that Afghan security forces can be capped now at just over 300,000 rather than the 350,000 target originally set is another indication of the prevailing mood. Money and popular support for the Afghan mission are in short supply. There's also an air of exasperation with Afghan President Hamid Karzai creeping in.

Sarkozy expressed it when he announced his sudden decision to get French troops out early - following the killing by an Afghan soldier of four French servicemen two weeks ago. The United States, too, has plenty of frustrations with Karzai, not least his recent attempts to stifle Washington's efforts to engage the Taliban in talks.

U.S. diplomats have long been criticized for not standing up to what are perceived as Karzai's wrong-headed policies, as well as his tantrums and whims. His latest plan to ignore the U.S. track for talks with the Taliban in Qatar and develop his own Saudi-hosted path is an effective slap in the face for President Barack Obama.

The United States wants many things out of these talks, not least a stable Afghanistan allowing an honorable exit for combat forces. But it also needs to set the conditions for what it was unable to agree to in Iraq - and that is to maintain a strategic regional foothold with large airbases and a troop presence. Iran is on one side of Afghanistan, Pakistan the other; and resource-hungry China also shares a border with Afghanistan.

So talks with the Taliban are not just about ending the war, they are about recognizing the Taliban's future political influence. They are, if the right conditions are set, about accepting the Taliban as political representatives of at least part of Afghanistan's majority Pashtoon population.

When Panetta talks about transitioning from combat to training operations by the end of 2013 he is also signaling to the Taliban U.S. combat forces will leave, and soon. For a long time the Taliban demanded foreign troops leave as a precondition for talks, a goal that is now in sight.

Panetta may be lowering other hurdles to a political settlement - although one at least appears inviolable: that the Taliban must renounce ties to al Qaeda.

Last year after much consideration, Obama signed off on exploring talks with the Taliban. Mullah Omar signed off on his side. A serious commitment had been made although there was (and still is) absolutely no guarantee of the outcome.

Now Karzai appears set to pursue his "alternate" Taliban talks track - at the very least, to muddy the waters and slow the talks process, and at worse scupper it altogether. If he successfully sabotages U.S.-Taliban talks, Washington can forget long-term strategic bases. The Taliban will make them unviable.

When NATO's combat forces pull out, the Taliban will, by talks or by fighting, expand their influence. Without some sort of political understanding, the Taliban will be able to obstruct resupply and every other part of the remaining U.S. and NATO mission.

A recently leaked NATO intelligence estimate that the Taliban are waiting to take power by force begins to look like a well-timed effort to undermine the transition that Panetta is in Brussels to discuss.

A western diplomat who talks directly to the Taliban told me recently "they [the Taliban] haven't made up their mind yet" whether to go for the "grand [political] bargain" or wait and "fight for control of the country." That view is echoed by Sherard Cowper Coles, the former British ambassador to Kabul.

The reason the Taliban may not want to fight for power could be pragmatic. When they took control of 95% of Afghanistan in the 90's they did it as much with Pakistani money - buying off enemy commanders - as they did in battle.

Mullah Omar's Taliban, the largest Taliban group also known as the Quetta Shura, the former Afghan government, the ones talking to the United States will not get that money now because Pakistan's military intelligence service, the ISI, does not trust them.

Sources say the ISI trusts and prefers to fund the much smaller Haqqani Taliban force. The Haqqanis have pledged allegiance to Mullah Omar publicly - but would likely be an adversary were he ever back in government.

Also the Taliban's ethnic foes in the North are far richer, better equipped and trained than the last time they fought, thanks to the North's close ties to the U.S. military. They pose a bigger challenge to Taliban (Pashton) hegemony than before.

So the question for these aging gray haired leaders who have been at war in some cases for up to 30 years is: Can they get better terms at the negotiating table?

Part of that calculation will be based on their assessment of the sincerity of the people sitting across the table from them.

Karzai may have cut across U.S. interests one time too many. Tough love is what some diplomats have advocated for his intransigence. An end to combat missions in 2013 will certainly be that, and the great unanswered question is: Will that be a bone the Taliban prefer to chew or bury?

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Filed under: Afghanistan • Analysis • Diplomacy • ISAF • Kabul • Karzai • Military • NATO • Panetta • Taliban
soundoff (109 Responses)
  1. Arronf Szczepanx

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    July 4, 2012 at 3:06 pm | Reply
  2. scopaypesse

    found your site on del.icio.us today and really liked it.. i bookmarked it and will be back to check it out some more later
    sayupoe astethachacag http://www.sayunope.com – sayoopepe

    June 10, 2012 at 4:48 am | Reply
  3. Free Bradley Manning!

    AMERIKA SUCKS MUSLIM COCK.

    February 5, 2012 at 1:54 am | Reply
  4. 1man

    lol cant make this up, america loses to hand full of men with out dated weapons... ooh we got our man, well 1 man for all of this? I think he's the winner. Oh! and dont forget hes been replaced already so your back where you started.

    February 3, 2012 at 9:11 pm | Reply
  5. aurelius1947

    When all those we protected and who strived under the current regime are confronted with the only two options that are left for them when we leave i.e., fight or join the Talibans, only then will we know if we wasted our time in the country or not. That goes for Afghan women who have gained tremendously in stature under our protective umbrella. "Those who wish to reap the fruits of freedom must travail to support it". Thomas Paine

    February 3, 2012 at 6:14 pm | Reply
    • Philippe Rousset

      Dear aurelius1947, thanks for you comment. I have to be honest and confess that I am abusing you post in order to open a window (i do not yet know how to activate the "soundoff" button). So thanks again for your input. I hope my humble offering will parallel the slant of your article
      .
      From where I stand the gruelling hostilities in Afghanistan are in most part about controlling the poppies farm and subsequent production of opium and heroin. Sure lots of good things have been done by the coalition forces in terms of schools, irrigation, human rights and bio diversity in the farming community. Yet the export of opium has escalated since we liberated the country. For some reason the poppies farm are not being eradicated, save for some little one who are not under the control of the regional cartel. To free the people there and solve 90-95% of the heroin problem in the west, the coalition must purge the country of all poppies fields. Only then will we have achieved permanent change in the region and truly help the population. Thank You.
      Philippe Rousset

      February 3, 2012 at 7:38 pm | Reply
  6. TOWELIE

    Am I to understand there's a towelie-ban in effect here?

    February 3, 2012 at 5:34 pm | Reply
  7. IVAN

    This war and the Taliban will never end as long we are in bed with Israel.
    Why do you think we got attacked ion the 1st place?
    Why do you think that most Jews did not go to work there that morning.

    We need to let the Middle East sort out their own issues.

    February 3, 2012 at 2:14 pm | Reply
    • bobalu

      The Jews not going to work that day story has been debunked for a decade. Get off the conspiracy sites and get an education.

      February 3, 2012 at 3:25 pm | Reply
    • :)

      well when you let the near east sort out its problems, you have the effect of lets say... India for exmple.

      their economy booms and suffocates the economy here, dont believe? ok. Take for instance the medical field, how many doctors are Indian now>? A LOT. You see more and more Indian doctors then you do american now.

      Thats why. just like germany and japan.. America this about cars blah blah blah, Germany and Japan bounced back... how many car factories are closing in this country alone.. wasnt to long ago when the government bailed them out.

      this country needs to wake up there are foreign enemies but there is also domestic enemies.

      February 3, 2012 at 9:08 pm | Reply
    • Josh

      Actually, Ivan... 9/11 was an inside job. Zionist Israel stood the most to benefit from the attacks. But you're right about the U.S. being in bed with Israel. I mean GOSH.... TOTALITARIAN ZIONISTS NEED LEBENSRAUM, TOO!!!

      http://whatreallyhappened.com/WRHARTICLES/fiveisraelis.html

      February 10, 2012 at 4:08 pm | Reply
  8. Geoffrey Hamilton

    This is stupid, Knock it off.

    February 3, 2012 at 8:54 am | Reply
  9. Babooph

    Nixon was right accepting the loss of LBJ s war-Obama should see this...

    February 3, 2012 at 5:49 am | Reply
  10. Tactical Conflict Management Solutions

    We built a 1970's Army, now while the ANSF have a larger force structure, the west was a modern professional army. So the question was how long via attrition can the ANSF hold out before the Talib run over the top of them. At some point it will be too dangerous to maintain a residual force of 25,000 in country, even with the use of shock an awe, so you either decamp or draw up reinforcements..

    Then we need to retask and take whats left of the ANSF and integrate into into the Northern Alliance, for the civil war. It will be rolling offensives one week the Talib have Kabul the next week it is in the hands of the Northern Alliance. The CIA SAD and JSOC will be fighting this war for a long time, but it will not be the heavy foot print and large bases in country. People have to understand that we are never going to leave, that the war will continue until at least 2035. What happens after that can't say. At which point in one form or another the US would have involved in Afghanistan for around 45 years.

    But in my assessment Pakistan will have collapsed by 2035 and be in no position to control Afghanistan, Omar will be dead. There was a reason I had Karzai recruit all those NI killers around him that the west took offense too into the political ranks back in 2009.

    Up until the surge the Taliban had the momentum even with the disproportionate use of air power, remember that.

    February 3, 2012 at 2:52 am | Reply
    • Tactical Conflict Management Solutions

      Once the ISI re-enter Afghanistan which they will once we leave to direct operations on the ground, the special forces will be required to capture and kill them inside Afghanistan.

      February 3, 2012 at 2:59 am | Reply
      • Tactical Conflict Management Solutions

        I see what the Taliban see when they look at the NATO conference in Brussels, a bunch of naive private school boys in uniforms, playing war, that have no idea of what they are dealing with or the reality of the situation. Way out of their depth.

        February 3, 2012 at 3:09 am |
      • Marion

        Persian Gulf, I think there's another dinamyc behind the publication in an AMERICAN newspaper of an article that ridicules Iran by presenting Iran as backward, constraining personal freedoms, etc. In my opinion, it's a mistake to allow oneself to be distracted with whether the haircuts are modern or Islamic (whatever that means) and more with the underlying intent of the article.I would suggest that responses to articles such as this completely ignore the content of the article mention it in an opening sentence then breeze right past it and focus on some positive aspect of Iranian culture and society, some positive step that Iran has taken. I'm particularly interested in the Dialog of Civilizations that Khatami planned in 1998, and that convened at the UN in October 2001 (unfortunate timing).I realize, or suspect, anyway, that Iranians might bristle at the thought of giving credit for good things to a government that they loathe. Hillary Clinton loves when that happens, it gives her a toehold from which to hector the Iranian people. She does not intend to make the Iranian government better for your benefit, so why give her any advantage? On the other hand, if you work very hard to find good things that are done by a government that you otherwise hate, you can reinforce in the government the direction YOU, Iran, want your government to go.Perhaps I'm a pollyanna: I believe the Iranian government makes incremental changes and moderations in its behavior in response to the demands of the people (I don't see that happening in US). Tell the Iranian government what you want by praising what they do that is positive, while simultaneously telling US media to kindly take their caricatures of Iran and stow it.for what it's worth.

        March 3, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
      • Band

        Gulf:We are finally tntgieg to the root of our difference!No liberal democracy is not workable! If it has been functioning in a VERY limited number of states, it is not because it is workable or flexible ! Far from it! It has survived in the west at the cost of the likes of operation Ajax , Operation Condor and so on and so forth. It has survived in the West at the cost of over a million dead in Indonesia, at the cost of starvation in Africa, at the cost of hundreds of thousands of dead in mass graves in Korea, at the cost of over a million (if I am not mistaken) in Vietnam, and I have not even included the dead of the two world wars!!Let me put it to you in different words: If you change the laws in Iran, if you scrap the constitution of IR and make a word by word translation of the US constitution to Persian and take that as our new constitution, you will STILL GET THE SAME SYSTEM DE FACTO! IT IS NOT ABOUT THE STRUCTURAL DIFFERENCES BETWEEN IRAN AND US, IT IS ABOUT A HUMANGOUS GAP OF INCOME BETWEEN THE TWO COUNTRIES, IT IS ABOUT IMPERIALISM !!The only way for the liberal democracy to work in Iran or any other 3rd world country, the way it has in the West, is that we start robbing the globe the way US has.Let me quote something from Mahatma Gahndi for you: If it has taken the British with their tiny population robbing half of the globe to develop, how much will it take for India with its hundreds of millions of population to rob and develop?? And again we disagree: THERE IS A THIRD WAY! THERE ALWAYS IS! But the first step to find it, is to start LOOKING for it! Something that some of the Latin American countries have already begun to do.

        March 4, 2012 at 10:42 pm |
    • Josh

      If I am to understand that the U.S. won't leave and that my taxes will go to a governmental institution that's responsible for the majority of the casualties of war being civilians, and that this will somehow last until the year 2035 for some arbitrary reason, then you are to understand that your assessment is ALSO a little boys playing war scenario.

      February 3, 2012 at 3:23 am | Reply
    • stateschool

      Waaaay too much early morning crazy talk on this site.

      February 3, 2012 at 6:25 am | Reply
    • Bill Johnson

      We don't need to send in any more troops; we need to get the ones we have out. There is a problem; we have a solution. We don't need to make more nuclear bombs; we need to use the ones we got. Turn Afghanistan and Pakistan to glass. Let China bellyache and bitch and moan about it. Let the world point the finger at us, but save a few nukes for the ones who bitch the most, and light 'em up. We have all the power we need; we just refuse to use it. We got politicians that want to give our money to Pakistan and China in the name of "foreign aid," but then go borrow our financial reserves and enslave us to the same people. I don't want a President who wants to raise the debt ceiling; I want a President who wants to ELIMINAT ALL DEBT. "The borrower is ALWAYS SERVANT to the LENDER." Get a black man in the white house and he's so used to being a slave he goes and recreates slavery for the rest of the country by enslaving us to debt.

      February 3, 2012 at 10:33 am | Reply
      • Mikey

        @Bill Johnson, man you are all over the place....and wrong. Using any sort of tactical nuclear strike in that region would be stupid. First, we are trying to lessen worries about the US using nuclear weapons not increasing "would-be" enemies fear of that. Our nuclear arsenal has been a great deterent to many organized groups using dirty bombs with tech supplied by governments.

        If Hezbollah or Al-Shabaab were to use nuclear technology against US forces or manage to organize an attack on the homeland. We (the US) would track down the country (in these cases probablyPaki & Iran) responsible for giving them the safety and ability to conduct the attacks and we counter with a full range of strikes to include nuclear weapons on those countries. IF we have already shown willingness to use nuclear weapons as a first strike instead of a contingence these countries would more than likely do this instead of waiting for us to strike first.

        I just love the brilliant people posting like you that apparently never even played checkers as a child.

        February 3, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
      • Mikey

        my bad I meant Somalia not Paki, originally meanted Haqqani but didn't want to get flamed for only knowing Al-Qaeda organizations.

        February 3, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
  11. Josh

    There needs to be a new investigation of 9/11. Accept it.

    February 3, 2012 at 2:07 am | Reply
    • markodavid

      YOU are right!

      February 3, 2012 at 1:18 pm | Reply
  12. John

    Zuckerberg is making Afghan get "Timeline", too?

    February 3, 2012 at 1:56 am | Reply
  13. adam

    Afghanistan is a failure in regards to nation building & liberties for the people of the region. True osama is dead but that is really all the good that has come out of this mess. The new government that was installed is the Taliban light version and is really no better for the people. Until women are given rights & a seat at the table with the rest of society then it will be just another breeding ground for hate and destruction.

    February 3, 2012 at 12:53 am | Reply
    • STBI

      An honorable exit for combat troops is a bit like saying "death with dignity". No person who has ever witnessed a death, or even been there shortly after to see the effects, can believe that death itself can ever hold any dignity. Rather, how the deceased lived defines if they can die with dignity; not how they expire. Likewise, the US military will leave Afghanistan with honor if we have fought with honor. Those who have acted dishonorably are forever tainted by that act. Those who may have tolerated dishonorable acts are likewise tainted. Those of us who have done our duty with honor will leave with honor whatever presidents and politicians will decide. Fortunately for America the overwhelming majority of the multiple milions of service men and women have performed honorably, and there has been even less tolerance for dishonorable conduct.

      February 3, 2012 at 2:03 am | Reply
    • ??

      how is 1 man greater than all this crap?? please, explain? Trillion dollar debt, war continues, and future conflicts on the verge, factories closing left and right here, the country is going down the hole.. and your one man that was killed, He's already been replaced, your back at square 1.

      February 3, 2012 at 9:15 pm | Reply
  14. NauticalMan

    For many years after my tour of duty in Vietnam, I thought at least my time was not wasted, as the United States seemed ot adopt the Powell doctrine, to only get into a military action when there was a clear reason and a timetable to get out. Lo and behold, even its author, Gen. Colin Powell was tricked into Iraq. There is not much hope for those that do not learn from the past. Now we have the usual warmongers trying to push us into Iran. Let their children and grandchildren go first. Read some of the experts on counterterrorism. You cannot win a war such as this militarily. We never lost on the field of battle in Vietnam, we lost because of incompetence of the rulers, corruption of the governments, and no amount of training or money will make up for that. See Iraq, see Afghanistan. Whether we get out next year or 5 years from now, the result will be the same, the only difference being more wasted money and lives.
    Wake up people.

    February 3, 2012 at 12:26 am | Reply
    • Josh

      ^^^You're absolutely right. Not only that, but the U.S. had superior air power and it was totally wasted. Westmoreland was running a war of attrition, trying to kill as many of the enemy as possible when there were more people being born in Vietnam every day than the number of U.S. forces occupying.
      check out 29 minutes and 15 seconds.

      February 3, 2012 at 2:04 am | Reply
  15. Maybe

    Nighty, night.... sweeet dreams...

    February 3, 2012 at 12:04 am | Reply
  16. stacey33

    So we're leaving because France is withdrawing their troops. And the Taliban's ethnic foes in the North are better equipped to deal with the Taliban thanks to ties to the US?? Did you people forget that we TRAINED THE TALIBAN, GAVE THEM WEAPONS AND TAUGHT THEM HOW TO USE THEM to fight communism?? Now we can look forward to some more people trained by the US to terrorize us or others. Thanks.

    February 2, 2012 at 11:57 pm | Reply
    • Pakistani and Muslim.

      Stacy i think u guys don't know. I'll tell u CIA didn't trained Talibans they just gave ISI the money and that is all. It was ISI who trained Talibans. I think u guys love to talk without any knowledge. U attacked Afghanistan and successfully attacked and your troops r living and working actively in Afghanistan cuz of Pakistan. We provide u bases we provide u routes to supply Oils for your vehicles and tanks, Food items and many more. U attacked Iraq with our help we provided u and your forces bases for refuel and stay. Your soldiers were dying in Somalia we saved u there. U r nothing without US. U think Pakistan is stupid u guys guys r saying that reduce Nuclear Arsenal. U think Pakistan will in your dreams it won't. And if u tried to take down Pakistan or Iran India, Israel and France will go down too and i assure u that. So what i suggest being human is that USA should let its citizens and soldiers live a happy and peaceful life and should let others to do the same. We r peace loving country we successfully completed more than 9 UN peacekeeping mission. We r the only country that provided the most troops to UN more than USA, India, China, Russia and France. Which shows our love for peace. So it is my appeal live and let others live. We want peace.

      February 4, 2012 at 5:36 pm | Reply
  17. TexMan

    The CIA sent billions to the Taliban to rid Afghanistan of the USSR and bankrupt it. Now the favor is being returned and the US blindly spends billions which are bankrupting the US in futile efforts in Afghanistan.

    Someone in Washington should read a history book and stop repeating the same failed tactics decade after decade.

    These people have been at war with one another for a thousand years and will be at war as long as the sun shines.

    The US has no business there.

    February 2, 2012 at 11:49 pm | Reply
  18. ALL uh

    The "reality" is, several thousand good men are dead, their kids and wives given a folded flag and $100k. Thank goodness George W's daughters will be millionaires and have very nice lives.

    February 2, 2012 at 10:32 pm | Reply
  19. My name is Jose Jimenez

    Somebody needs to aim a drone at Karzai.

    February 2, 2012 at 10:24 pm | Reply
  20. survivn

    We need to pull out of Afghanistan as soon as possible to avoid wasting more money. Before all of you GOP war mongers freak out, remember we have a HUGE base in Bahrain to reach and touch anyone at anytime!!!!!!!!!!!

    February 2, 2012 at 10:17 pm | Reply
    • stacey33

      This is Obama's war. Don't blame Republicans. Obama is just as much a "war monger" as any Republican.

      February 2, 2012 at 11:59 pm | Reply
      • Andy

        Of course it could be argued that the Afghanistan conflict started a hell of a long time before the current US President came into office under a completely different politician.

        February 3, 2012 at 1:39 am |
      • A-Pissin'-on-the-dead-kinda-guy

        This war was started 8 years before Obama took office, you stupid airhead cunt.

        February 3, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
    • Frreal

      If we leave Afghanistan before the ANA and ANP are fully ready to take over operations, then we will have wasted all of the money we've spent so far. Right now between 1/4 and 1/3 of the 34 provinces in the country have their security led by the Afghan forces, and others and being transitioned as we speak. To leave them flapping in the wind would be irresponsible and repeat history yet again...they and we don't need that. What base are you referring to in Bahrain, btw? Not aware of any "huge" base there, although there is one in Qatar...whole different country. And if your geography is in fact that shaky, a reminder that Afghanistan lies between two of countries with the most potential to be a security risk for the US in the future – Iran and Pakistan.

      February 3, 2012 at 12:44 pm | Reply
  21. AJ

    USA has played enough of the evil worrior role, killed app. 2 million people, created Bin-laden, created 9/11, killed Bin-Laden, created a monster in Sadam, Funded him to fight Iran, Killed sadam, Killed people fighting for democracy in Bahrain but supported those in Libiya and Syria, created military dictators in Pakistan for decades, guarded and strengthened the worst dictators of Saudi arabia and Gulf states but still advocate for democracy, are self declared champions of human rights but have tortured, killed and raped people in custody without allowing them fair trials. WHY A SUPER POWER HAS TO HAVE SUCH BEHAVIOUR? every one in the world loves america for its social, commercial, technical, health, educational and other achievements. People of world admire them for everything they gave to this world for creating better lives for human. Just like every one in the world I love USA too, its a paradise but there are some people in it who have no value for a life outside the west, who dont consider others right to live as righteous as a man of west. Those who operate the war machines..... must be stopped.

    February 2, 2012 at 6:18 pm | Reply
    • Commojoe

      Sure, AJ, throw on some peace beads, sing Kumbayah, think good, kind thoughts and wars will just go away and no one will ever attack the USA or hurt its people ever again. Good luck with that peacenik attitude, guy.

      February 3, 2012 at 1:43 am | Reply
      • Josh

        ^^^Good luck with the warmongering then. When soldiers come to take the "peaceniks" away and strip us of our citizenship with the Expatriation Act for spouting off logical anti-war rhetoric, they can observe how peacefully our guns shine before they embrace the white light.

        February 3, 2012 at 3:55 am |
  22. rad666

    Voting year promises will be in the headlines until Nov.

    February 2, 2012 at 5:01 pm | Reply
    • Steve

      Yeah, like the one we heard from Bush about not being the world police.

      February 3, 2012 at 1:08 pm | Reply
  23. Tom

    Why not give all these taliban and al qaeda the choice of returning or green cards. They can get section 8 housing, welfare if needed and medicaid. After all they will surely vote dumocrat anyway.

    February 2, 2012 at 4:04 pm | Reply
    • Ken

      You must be a politician. Nothing else matters to you except the upcoming presidential elections. Your grammar tells it all.

      February 2, 2012 at 4:54 pm | Reply
    • LarrySees

      If a needy family needs Section 8 housing or food stamps why would that be troubling to someone like you? As long as those receiving these social benefits are truly needy, there's nothing wrong with it. What is wrong, however, is allowing a 1 %'r like Mittens Romney to pay less then 15% tax on $45M while the rest of us pay 30% on our income.

      February 2, 2012 at 6:36 pm | Reply
      • stacey33

        Larry, I would bet you your annual pay that you don't pay 30% in taxes. And give it up with the "Mittens". It's old and stale. It's amazing how people love to hate the successful people in America. You should be imitating them and maybe you wouldn't be so bitter. Instead, let's put someone in office that wants to provide more handouts at the expense of tax payers, when we are already in debt.

        February 3, 2012 at 12:05 am |
      • TxJack

        There are too many people getting Section 8 and Social Security that truly do not need it.
        They drive in their Benz from the Section 8 housing to the bank to cash the Social Security checks.
        I see it all the time in TX since Hurricane Katarina, and all the rats came from Louisiana and never went back.

        And the older folks who truly need Social Security get cutbacks.

        February 3, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
  24. Leslie Coore

    It's strange that now they can change the time of when they are getting out of Afghanistan, seems to be all political and making Oduma look good. 10 years and all the lives lost for this worthless war. Just like that, "Ok, now we can go home".
    How easy that was.......................Now where can we go next, Iran? Our wonderful government at work.

    February 2, 2012 at 3:49 pm | Reply
    • Ken

      How can 10 years of war be Obama's fault? 10 years ago Bush and the Republicans were on their war mondering strategies.

      February 2, 2012 at 4:58 pm | Reply
      • Buzzer

        You're reading into the statement too much and inferrring things that were not stated...I don't think he favors Bush either.

        February 2, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
    • Bill in Florida

      Leslie Coore: another Faux News nitwit. HELLO! Obama became President in 2009. Bush invaded Afghanistan in 2002. Does that tell you anything? IT'S BUSH'S WAR!

      February 2, 2012 at 9:35 pm | Reply
    • George

      He did the usual "creative" right-wing distortion of Obama's name. He favors Bush.

      February 2, 2012 at 11:56 pm | Reply
  25. Jt_flyer

    Let me help explain the time table: the American people are sick of this useless war, we want our troops home and we want our county's wealth invested in our own country. Now which part of that is confusing our defense contractors?

    February 2, 2012 at 3:03 pm | Reply
    • Shorty

      well Farlops it may be that you think you are preaching to the eonvcrted, but you are not preaching to the choir. That is to say that while I agree in general with your sentiments, I do not think I agree with all of them. I personally do not wish to see an increase in the powers of the FBI and the CIA or any curbing of the freedoms in the west that we still enjoy. However, while I am generally somewhat of a peacenik, I can tell you that yes I do want revenge and I want justice. No of course this does not mean cruise missile diplomacy- this would truly accomplish nothing- it would certainly not punish those responsible nor would it meet the demands of America's people. Nothing short of a major engagement will do this. I think you underestimate the psychological impact that this event has had. And yes I do believe that the genie is out of the bottle- yes the people of America do now have the will, politically and socially to wage an all-out war against the enemy' so who is the enemy- well unfortunately this is obviously not going to be one person, or group of persons.Indeed it is many groups of persons living in many different nations. The world changed yesterday. This War will not be fought only on one front- nor will it be over in a matter of weeks, or even months.. it is likely that it will last for many years and perhaps even for our lifetimes this may sound paranoid but I have many reasons for believing so. Assuming for a moment that it is infact the Al Qaida network of Bin Laden that is responsible, and that officials can gather enough evidence to say so definitely then time is running short for Afghanistan. If they do not hand this asshole over to us VERY soon, you can bet that there will be a MAJOR strike against that country. It has already begun- Pakistan's repeated almost frantic assertions of support for the US and the fight against terror are writing on the wall. All foreign aid workers have been withdrawn from the country. t will begin with bombing of course- but that will definitely not be enough ground troops? definitely in recent conflicts, even the Gulf war there was fear that the American people didnt have the political will to engage in a conflict that would result in body bags well I got news for ya buddy, they are already counting the body bags. They are laid out on a major highway in Washington DC and in the decimated remains of the world's former financial headquarters. Believe me the political will is there and in spades. The War has already begun. An it is likely that the front line will no longer be NYC but central Asia. I think that if necessary the administration will not bat an eye at overthrowing the Taliban government. And before we start hearing this Vietnam shit again remember that this is not the cold war. Of course the states and NATO (if necessary) will not go into Afghanistan without the explicit support of Russia- but you can bet we will get it. The former Soviets (of whom Putin is a scion) have their own score to settle there. There has already been considerable collaberation against Taliban in recent months between Russia and the US. Do you really think that Vietnam could have held out against a sustained attack without Chinese assistance?So the Afghans held off the Soviet empire big deal they did it with our help. Where will the Taliban get such help? From Pakistan? They would not dare.So I have to admit that from that vantage point the thing that scares me most is the possibility of a civil war in Pakistan- indeed that is and will be a real possibility but that is only the beginning of where things get tricky because of course the trail of blood does not and will not begin and end in Afghanistan. There are many players in this game- as many as there are slamic militant groups engaged in terror, from Islamic Jihad to Hezollah. What many people fail to recognize is that we effectively declared war on all these groups yesterday and it was repeated emphatically that we would not rest until we had driven this evil from the world. Bush said it, Blair said it, Powell said it and NATO gave the thumbs up. In effect yesterday a new Crusade has begun. This is where things begin to get really ugly. A line has been drawn in the sand and the west has asked which side are you on?' Pakistan and Saudi Arabia were both quick to claim solidarity and shared desire for an end to terror. Iraq of course was the only country to openly declare their hatred- fools. Why have we not yet heard from Syria, Jordan, Egypt and the other Arab states. Even Qadaffi had the sense to immediately offer support- even he can see the writing on the wall- after all Libya has only just recently been freed from more than a decades worth of nternational sanctions and pariahhood- they know what to expect. But the fact is that we are going to find the heads of the hydra are hiding under rocks in all of the Arab states- and the military and the intelligence community is going to go ruthlessly after these assholes and God help whoever gets in their way or as John McCain said yesterday May God have mercy on them because we will not'. This is a fact- not a threat. The World is at war. The World changed yesterday- irrevocably. It wont be a few angry Arabs and clerics who get convicted and thrown in jail- we are after the whole cow. I really wish all of this were not true honestly I hope that I am wrong.. I hope that they arrest a few people and think better of it and go about their business and nothing like this ever happens again.. but the world doesnt work that way I am afraid. They are going to go after these guys and they are going to use everything they've got. You know I am sure that it is not the majority of Palestinians who were in the streets cheering at the news on worldwide TV- but it was enough. You can bet that the trail will lead to the Palestinian communities- especially to groups like Islamic Jihad, Hamas and Hezbollah. One thing is for sure- there will be no peace in Palestine for a long time to come. I am sure that Arafat was genuinely shocked by all of this as were the vast majority of people- but nevertheless we all saw those assholes dancing in the streets with their guns flaring and their cheering hateful brainwashed children there are hate schools in the Palestinian territories where they teach kids to be suicide bombers- are these places likely targets of western retribution as well?well anyways I could rant on indefinitely about all of this.. as I say I hope that I am wrong about all of this but I dont think so. I think world history changed yesterday and that we are indeed at war. And I believe we do have the political and social will to carry through with our resolve only I dont know how far it will carry and I dont know that we will even find a target solid and stationary enough for our troops to take sight at.But I am sure that Osama Bin Laden in a world court (or more likely and preferably with his head on a pike mounted on the city wall) will be enough to put this chapter of the ongoing conflict between east and west to rest (at least from our perspective) you know the Taliban think they are superheroes for driving out the Russians they are proud of saying noone has ever successfully invaded Afghanistan.. they think they are chosen by God and are inviolate yesterday the Taliban spokesman asserted in their denial of Bin Laden's involvement that any western action against them would result in more of the same this can be perceived as nothing other than a veiled threat. Their recent rebuffs of all normal diplomatic protocol, their obvious didain for civilization as we know it, their fanatic and barbaric abuse of their own people and total diregard for democratic principles, their insistence that there can be no human values which come before their dictatorial religious precepts, their constant limitations of their peoples freedoms and civil rights including a ban on music, dance, kiteflying, literature, arts and education, their shutting down of humanitarian aid projects including hospitals and food distribution in the face of massive starvation and drought- all of these things are reasons enough to overthrow these mediaeval throwbacks- they rule by terror so why should we expect them not to support it especially when it supports their twisted religious beliefs.. in short FUCK the TAL BAN yes there will be casualtiesyes it will be difficultBut we can beat these assholeswe have the willwe have the political resolveand we have the 82nd airborne

      March 3, 2012 at 8:33 am | Reply
  26. MK

    Suddenly, Talibans are not so bad!

    Iraqis and Libyans are good!

    Suddenly, Iranians and Pakistanis are dangerously bad!

    Thank you for telling us who is good and who is bad.

    February 2, 2012 at 2:41 pm | Reply
    • DG

      "We are at war with Oceania. We have always been at war with Oceania."

      February 2, 2012 at 2:56 pm | Reply
      • Andy

        War with Oceania?........Hmmz no one told me and I live in this region.

        February 3, 2012 at 1:41 am |
  27. Hypocrisy

    The enemies of the Muslim and Islamic world are not the hard working, decent caring loving leftwing Americans. No, the enemies are the rightwing red state confedrate racist bigoted trailor trash that invade foreign countries for entartainment. and self gratification. They are the evil ones! They are your enemies!

    February 2, 2012 at 2:22 pm | Reply
    • Sgt. Fury & His Howling Faggots

      Only fitting then that they comprise a high percentage of cannon-fodder.

      February 2, 2012 at 2:55 pm | Reply
    • Muhammad

      agreed, unfortunately too often Muslims see USA as a monolithic entity, fact is there is a small group of war profiteers that is the cause of all the fuss (the right winger war and hate mongers)

      more people to people talk should happen to promote reality

      February 2, 2012 at 3:17 pm | Reply
      • Buzzer

        And you agree with someone who spouts these hatefule stereotypes? Hate mongers?...what comes out of a man's mouth (in this case the keyboard) is a direct reflection of what is in his heart...to include the one's that "concur" with such statements.

        February 2, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
  28. bwana

    It has already been said, "Eventually the Afghans will solve their own problems just like the Vietnamese did". This is true; however, I suspect the outcome will not be another Vietnam. It will be what Afghanistan has always been, a country 600 years behind the rest of the world, poor, backward, corrupt and a beautiful haven for the less savory elements of global society!

    February 2, 2012 at 2:01 pm | Reply
  29. Lateral

    Most of the comments here suggest US people's view on a islamic state. Unfortunately, people living in islamic state have the same views on Westerners....It's the same old strategy to justify a war....make claims that the war was justified...then claim that they are subhumans, savages, etc....then bomb them...any retaliation will be a terrorist activity and most of the people love us when we bomb their children, brothers, father, etc....

    I am from India, lived in Europe and now living in US....the problem with the US people is they are only stuffed with one side story,..abt the condition of afghan women in particular...but the reality is....women in islamic state are living a more honorable lives than women in western world....if you want to justify islam travel through the world and live their life...I would say, the people in US dont know what hardships are...you just cant compare with your lifestyle to them..period...period..period....if u have born in their land and faced those hardships...then you will be a far more savage than them...

    It is like saying All muslims are sub human, savages, barbarians...bcos I read the news that an afghan woman has been forced to marry the rapist, afghan woman are stoned to death, etc...

    Remember, that they aso read the news and made up their mind already...that All women in America are porn stars, and men are paediophills...

    February 2, 2012 at 1:58 pm | Reply
    • The Witness Elijah

      Before my response, please understand that I am an American, born and raised, and never lived outside the United States – and I love my country for better or worse. That said, I agree with you 100%!!!

      February 2, 2012 at 3:20 pm | Reply
    • Ken

      Your post was interesting until you said "women in islamic state are living a more honorable lives than women in western world". After that statement your words hold no value. How is hiding your face and being beaten more honorable? What is honorable to you? The honor you are talking about is what the men see as honor, the women have no say in their destiny, how is that honor?

      February 2, 2012 at 5:14 pm | Reply
      • stacey33

        You can't judge an entire society by what you read or see in American media. I am an American woman and I completely understand what she is saying. I went out with an Iranian guy for over three years. You don't hear all of the Jerry Springer fighting that you hear from the American households. People were more peaceful and didn't argue for the sake of arguing. Women may have to hide their faces, but at least they aren't ruining their lives by volunteering to be on Girls Gone Wild for not even five minutes of fame.

        February 3, 2012 at 12:13 am |
      • Frreal

        And your stereotype "How is hiding your face and being beaten more honorable?" devalues everything you just said. Been to Afghanistan? Thought not. Women there are joining the Army and police force, going to school in droves now the Taliban is out, and in many cases wearing Western clothes if they so choose. I was in Kabul last year for International Women's Day – the celebration was unbelievable, the whole city was out on the streets, gov't buildings were decorated – honoring women in a way that I've never seen in the US. An do we ridicule Mennonite women for wearing skirts and wearing their hair up? Orthodox Jewish women for their wigs and covering up? If you don't, then you might want to consider your hypocrisy in criticizing Muslim women for following the standards of modesty set out by their faith.

        February 3, 2012 at 12:55 pm |
    • Dave

      101% you are muslim.

      February 3, 2012 at 12:07 pm | Reply
      • Lateral

        The whole point is that one should not make a judgement by hearing one side story.

        Regarding the dress code...people wear different type of dress which is a common practice in their geography/trend/reglious belief, may it be a bikini, a burkha, skirt, sareee or whatever....

        In an interview, 2011 nobel peace prize winner said the below statement when asked about her hijab (be careful, hijab is NOT a face viel, it is a head scarf + an upper garment that protects from revealing her shape) .

        "Man in The early times was almost naked, and as his intellect evolved he started wearing clothes. What I am today and what I’m wearing represents the highest level of thought and civilization that man has achieved, and is not regressive. It’s the removal of clothes again that is regressive back to ancient TIMES"

        Yemeni Nobel Peace Prize Winner in 2011 Tawakkul Karman

        February 3, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
    • ram

      oh please.... don't tell me women in islam are not discriminated.... its OK if women in Islam want to wear a bhurka... that is their choice, I can respect that..... but if u tell me that women are not discriminated in islam, then u r living in a dream world... if u r a muslim u might want to go through sharia law.... like u said, u r from India, that is exactly why u don't know the negatives of islam....i am sure u r from a muslim moderate family.... most of the negatives of sharia are not included in Indian constitution, practicing them is unconstitutional, except for some of the domestic laws and marriage laws... there is a huge difference between Indian islam and afghan islam, atleast in practices if not in the scripture.... it is right to talk about positives of one's religion, but it is equally wrong to ignore negatives.... I am also from India, I am a hindu, now I am in US, i also have muslim friends, I am from hyderabad, i have seen both moderates and right wing nut jobs, both in hindus and muslims...

      February 3, 2012 at 11:24 pm | Reply
  30. Bazoing

    Afghanistan's main industry is producing heroin and other "recreational" drugs. Their tribal culture, which is mistaken for real Islam, is in favor of "honor killings' meaning patriarchs may kill family members who displease them. The complexity is that we have spent so many American lives giving them "freedom". Freedom to do what? They do not need us; they will kill each other over sectarian and family issues without our help.

    February 2, 2012 at 1:46 pm | Reply
  31. John Kantor

    "Honorable" exit. Just the same sick Liberal hypocrisy. If you negotiate with terrorists you are a terrorist – and you need to be treated like one. They need to see their daughters' faces burned off with acid. They could parade them around to show how much honor they have.

    February 2, 2012 at 1:15 pm | Reply
    • Sgt. Fury & His Howling Faggots

      Yeah, who gives a shit about how many aimless, stupid American kids join the Army just so they can die or be horribly mangled for nothing. Just as long as it's not your blood being shed, right?

      February 2, 2012 at 2:59 pm | Reply
  32. Johnny

    u.s.a. Has being beated in Afghanistan

    February 2, 2012 at 1:08 pm | Reply
  33. Portland tony

    Perhaps it's just time to understand just what this Afghan war is all about ....Just nothing that we can do anything about. Time to declare victory and get out.Eventually the Afghans will solve their own problems just like the Vietnamese did. We should have paid attention to the Russians and their ill fated attempts to "occupy ".

    February 2, 2012 at 1:06 pm | Reply
    • Dave in Portland

      Agreed Tony. We will never change their culture and we will never 'win'. We have lost enough lives. Iraq should be an example. We leave and everything goes immediately to he11.

      February 2, 2012 at 7:09 pm | Reply
  34. Chinatown

    THis war was just another Vietnam.......we had a right to be there in 2002, every year after that was stupid and a waste.....We did not need to get involved in a ground war there and try to build a democratic nation to a bunch of tribal heathen, just another ruse for the mega-defense contractors and our politicians to make piles of cash.....Bin Laden was in Pakistan, not Afghanistan....Spec Forces is all we need, couple that with drones and CIA covert ops and we are all good.......we could've done all this without a ground war, what a waste......

    February 2, 2012 at 1:00 pm | Reply
    • OIF/OEF Retired

      I agree 100%

      February 2, 2012 at 1:09 pm | Reply
    • Sgt. Fury & His Howling Faggots

      It was a waste of time, money and lives, sure. But it in no way has matched the brutality or the carnage of the Vietnam War.

      February 2, 2012 at 3:01 pm | Reply
  35. Alex Povolotski

    Taliban is coming back within a year. It's better this way for the country. Otherwise, the country is a mess.

    February 2, 2012 at 12:58 pm | Reply
  36. Taioseach

    A country that forces rape victims to marry their attacker or risk being honor killed, a man who strangles his wife because she gave birth to a daughter, heroin trafficking with Chinese triades, Karzai becoming furious over the destruction of poppy fields then calling for more control over the US military. This place has been a bane to any and all countries who have tried to assist or conquer it.

    It's time for the entire world to turn it's back on Afghanistan and leave it to it's own devices. The entire place hasn't been worth life one of any soldier who has died there.

    February 2, 2012 at 12:54 pm | Reply
    • Dave in Portland

      Agreed, it's a cesspit. We should cut our losses and get out. We will never change things there. It will never get "better".

      February 2, 2012 at 7:10 pm | Reply
  37. Pliny

    Get out of the toilet that is afghanistan.
    Let the Taliban have them.
    And if the Taliban invite the arab/muslim/terrorists back in again....turn every man/woman/child in afghanistan into a thin layer of radioactive dust in the stratosphere.

    February 2, 2012 at 12:52 pm | Reply
    • brad

      That is the most absurd logic i have ever heard

      February 2, 2012 at 1:05 pm | Reply
  38. brad

    To the people who say the Afghans are savages: you're retarded!!!

    Let me start off by saying: Yes, I am American. Yes, I supported the war to find Bin Laden and KILL that mf'ker and his accomplices. I was 50/50 on the war in Iraq. For one, Saddam was killng his own people and whether he had WMDs or not, he needed to be stopped. But my rebuttal is that Saddam kept Iran in check, which now can't happen because the Iraqi government is in line with Iran.

    But once Bin Laden was killed, we should have pulled our troops out then. The muslims are angry that the western civilizations are corrupting their way of life, which is corrupt anyways. They just don't want us there. Can you blame them though. I can guarantee this: If China were to occupy the USofA, I'd pick up a rifle and go to arms against them. I like China right now, but not if they want to press their weight on me. And this is exactly how the Afghans feel.

    February 2, 2012 at 12:41 pm | Reply
    • Hasan

      It's the typical ignorant American sitting behind a computer calling someone a savage. Afghanistan was a peaceful place until America used it as a battleground against the Soviets. Iraq was a dictatorship, but people weren't being murdered left and right until the U.S. invasion. Pakistan had very little political gang violence in the 90's, and most of it was sponsored by the U.S. backed parties (such as Benezir Bhutto). America is the country that overthrew a democracy in Iran in the late 50's, brought to power a "leader" who killed 200,000 Iranians, and then wondered why the Iranian youth held our people captive. This is the same country that gave Saddam chemical weapons he used to kill 1 million Iranian scouts between 16-22, and now we call Iran an "axis of evil" because they are guts and think we're nazis for our actions. Long live america. Land of the brainwashed. Home of the slaves.

      February 2, 2012 at 12:51 pm | Reply
      • Bazoing

        To Hasan: "our actions"? You mean you are really an American criticizing the rest of us? You are the one who is ignorant of what the rest of the world is like.

        February 2, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
      • brad

        Ignorance is everywhere! In all countries

        February 2, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
      • Sgt. Fury & His Howling Faggots

        Land of the freak

        Home of depraved.

        February 2, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
    • The Witness Elijah

      Bravo!

      February 2, 2012 at 3:25 pm | Reply
  39. Chinatown

    Why are we wasting precious web page space for articles about war in Afghanistan?? Facebook just went public and made BILLIONS!!!!! Wooohoooo! I wonder what the Kardashians have to say about it??!! /end sarcasm.

    February 2, 2012 at 12:29 pm | Reply
  40. bobby

    We have an opiate epidemic in America.. Afganastan is the world's largest opium grower in the world.. We have thousands becoming addicted and dying each year.. Our healthcare system is overloaded and our drug treatment programs are archaic.. Time the miilitary does it's job and protects America by destroying the opium crops.. Than teach the farmers to grow FOOD instead..

    February 2, 2012 at 12:18 pm | Reply
  41. Hiruu

    As a general rule of thumb, these people are savages, as DeeNYC stated. They need to be left alone to kill each other, but with a very clear and firm message that open support fr Al Queda will result is unilateral military action by the USA!

    February 2, 2012 at 11:55 am | Reply
  42. Needz

    "Fighters who left the Taliban to join government forces in western Afghanistan" will do suicide in our camps...i can bet, they just came for this ....

    February 2, 2012 at 11:44 am | Reply
  43. Hasan

    The war will never end as long as Americans remain in Afghanistan. These are not Islamic radicals that are fighting America but the ordinary, native Pushtoon population. Put down your weapons and go home. As long as you stay on our soil, you are a legitimate target. Your bombings have killed over 50,000 people here. 9/11 has been avenged, Bin Laden is dead. Staying in Afghanistan is only proof that America is after the rich resources of this land, which includes precious industry metals for cellphones, computers, etc. which America itself has said is worth $10+ trillion.

    February 2, 2012 at 11:43 am | Reply
    • Martoon

      I think most Americans agree. We don't want our soldiers in Afghanistan. Now that Bin Laden is dead and Al Queda is on the run, there is no further reason to be there. War is the way of life for Afghans. The USA should leave so they can continue fighting each other.

      February 2, 2012 at 12:06 pm | Reply
      • Sam

        'War is the way of life for Afghans...'

        ...just as it is for americans.

        February 2, 2012 at 1:53 pm |
    • Sgt. Fury & His Howling Faggots

      The Pashtun's have long been regarded as a martial race, a warrior culture. They take shit from no one. No one. Something that rednecks and chickenhawks have problems comprehending.

      February 2, 2012 at 3:10 pm | Reply
  44. DeeNYC

    It's not complex, they're savages.. simple.

    February 2, 2012 at 11:33 am | Reply
    • Ronald Hussein Reagan

      YOu're simple. and , like I always say, "THere's a simple answer for eveything; unforunately, it's usually wrong.

      February 2, 2012 at 12:25 pm | Reply
    • GRNBRAY

      QUESTIONS FOR THREE PAST PRESIDENTS AND ALL THE GENERALS WHO HAVE MANIPULATED (ADVISED) THEM:

      ! 1. WHAT HAVE WE ACCOMPLISHED WHICH WILL NOT CHANGE IN LESS THAN A MONTH AFTER WE ARE GONE?

      2. WHY DID YOU SACRIFICE THE LIVES OF THOSE WE LEAVE THERE?-IN LOGICAL AND INTELLIGENT NO BS TERMS?–

      IN YOUR RESPONSE, PLEASE TAKE INTO ACCOUNT THE SEVERAL THOUSAND WIDOWS AND ORPHANS YOU CREATED

      FORMER GREEN BERET

      February 2, 2012 at 12:41 pm | Reply

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