Category Archives: American Politics

Biden’s Speech (Surrender)


After watching President Biden speak about the reasons for our withdrawal from Afghanistan it has taking me sometime to claim down enough to write. He took a victory lap to extol defeat. He praised the work of many to get out US citizens as well as others that had worked for us. But not all. He started this by declaring the United States has ended 20 years of war. Like the British Evacuation of Dunkirk was the end of the war in Europe. He pointed out the ISIS-K, which supposedly carried out the bombing at the airport, are sworn enemies of the Taliban. This does not make the Taliban good or our friends, they are just different terrorist groups. He said that the made the decision on April 1 to end the war and set the final date as Aug 31. He actually set the date as Sept, 11. He spoke of the 300,000 strong Afghan Army that failed to fight. To begin he has used that number, which is wrong, it was closer to 179,000. And failed to mention that by closing Bagram airbase we removed the air power that we had trained the Afghans to expect. They did have an air force, but we also removed the contractor support that allowed them to continue flying.  He spoke of the government collapse and the president fleeing, amid the corruption and malfeasance “and turning the country over to the Taliban. The building he spoke from was once burnt by the British as President Madison fled. To my knowledge there has been no turnover of government and the Taliban are occupying the capital. When the French government collapsed, and de Gaulle fled to England did that mean everyone must accept the Nazis as the legitimate government of France. As the France resistance rose so we see a resistance movement in Panjshir under the old Northern Alliance. Are there plans to support them? We had been told there where between 10 -15000 Americans in Afghanistan. The President said they had identified early 5000 who wished to stay but now wanted out. He said that more then 5500 out, that leaves, using the lower number almost 5000 left behind. But he went on to say that only about 100 – 200 remain behind. Do the math Joe. He then goes on to say Blinken is continuing diplomatic efforts and cited a UN Security Council resolution that the international community expects the Taliban to deliver on their promises, com’on man are you that stupid, or worse do you think we are.  He claimed the Aug 31 date was not an arbitrary deadline and that he original date Trump gave was May 1st. he changed it, therefore it was arbitrary and fungible. Biden then proceeded to outright lie. He said the agreement “It included no requirement that Taliban work out a cooperative governing arrangement with the Afghan government.” It did. The US Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad has said on more than one occasion the agreement had several escape clauses. But Biden declared that because of the agreement he had no choice, it was either leave or send in more troops. Like President Obama, who said of the Iran Deal it was that deal or war, Biden put everything out as black or white.

Biden said in the beginning of the speech that he took full responsibility then proceeded to blame everyone else. He blamed US citizens for not getting out even through they had been warned as early as March. Bagram Air Base would have been the logical point to remove these citizens but was closed 1 July. The administration continued to declare that the Taliban would not be in charge until the end of the year. He has said in the past that he followed the military commander’s recommendation on leaving to include ending the airlift, “The decision to end the military airlift operations at Kabul airport was based on the unanimous recommendation of my civilian and military advisers.” I find it hard to believe that any decision was unanimous, as Gen Patton once said, “If everyone is thinking the same someone is not thinking.” In the end he asked the same thing he has asked in the past, what was America vital national interest in Afghanistan? The answer will likely become clear in the future. The terrorist problem will not go away because we want it to. We need to stop our current habit of only looking out 5 seconds into the future and saying I don’t see anything.

Why US Foreign Policy Continues to Fail in Afghanistan


Now that lives have been lost and we have withdrawn, this ill-conceived operation once again highlights the lack of US Foreign policy capabilities or our understanding of what is needed to protect American interests. Since the end of the Korean War the US has slowly lost the will to build influence and continue to lead the world. The Cold War was the last hoorah for what was left of US influence mostly based on the nuclear stand off with the Soviet Union. Much of the problem stems from the United States inability to adjust to a different world. Most of US foreign involvement since the cold war has been in Asia and the Middle East, cultures that most in Washington do not understand. This should not be the case as it is not in many other western countries and the US foreign service should be able to accept the different cultures but has always ended up trying to impose US values on the nations we get engaged with. 

In 1648 the Treaty of Westphalia helped establish the countries we know today that make up Europe. There were tweaks along the way, but it established the customs of international relations we know today. It was established within the bounds of European customs and cultures and of course held little sway as countries pushed out of Europe to colonize the world. At the end of the First World War the victorious nations sliced and diced the world up to their economic and political advantage. Ignoring the wants and desires of the indigenous population they put in motion decades of violence.  Many countries put together by colonial powers were countries in name only. Following the Second World War and then the Cold War many of these countries broke apart or fell under ruthless regimes that held them together at gun point.     

After the creation of Israel, the US seems to have locked out any further changes, no new countries. This of course left the made-up countries like Iraq to fend for themselves. We refused to acknowledge the different ethnic, religious, and even linguistic differences. The United States has the distinct advantage/disadvantage of being one of the most heterogeneous nations in the world. Regardless of all our knowledge we refuse to accept that not all countries and people will accept our values or adhere to our customs. We are seeing this play out today in Afghanistan. A tribal nation that many have tried to forge into a single country. It will not work. We needed to arm and train tribal forces not a national army. If it was ever to change it would take generations a century or more to make it whole. The United States unfortunately maintains a five second view of the world and has no idea of second and third order effect of its decisions. We look to deal with problems on a country-by-country basis while the countries we are dealing with are acting in regional or overarching religious aspects. In the case of the Taliban, they see their version of Islam as the only correct interpretation.

Biden said that after 20 years it was time for the Afghans to take charge, but who are the Afghans? As a single entity they do not exist. Our presence did begin to push a lot of the country forward. At a minimum woman were being educated. We are now talking to a group that holds a world view front he 7th century and act as if they have changed in 20 years and are now willing to become a part of the world. But all that will end simple because our foreign policy professional has failed once more.    

Is it time to abandon Afghanistan?


In his January 20th, 1961, inaugural address President Kennedy said, “we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and success of liberty.” Over the years these words have rung hollow for our friends and allies. Vietnam, Lebanon, Somalia, and others, now Afghanistan.  A saying I heard long ago says, “Insurgents don’t have to win they only have to wait.” Today we once again see the truth of this statement. We have been in Afghanistan for 20 years and have in fact done good things. An entire generation of woman have grown up in a society that has allowed for growth. It is not complete, but we had a start. We are now hearing stories of girls being given to Taliban fighters as war prizes. The people know what is coming as evidenced by them hanging on the wheels of departing aircraft and handing their children over to waiting Marines, so they have a chance to escape. People are bring dragged out of their homes and executed. There will be more horror stories, but we will not hear them as we withdraw and there is no information or press coverage.

The new narrative is that most people wanted us out of Afghanistan but are opposed to the way it is being handled. I am willing to bet that most people did not know or care that we were still there. But we were and had set expectations of many Afghans. This went beyond the early mission of defeating Al Qaida and removing the Taliban from power. Was that the end of it? Where we expected to then just pack up and leave, as many have said? The question of whether we should have done nation building is now being asked and the answer is clearly yes. We had a moral obligation to replace what we broke, their government. What happened is, as is often the case with the west, we tried to impose western style democracy in a non-western culture.  

As we have seen in Iraq, tribal and regional loyalties out strip the concept of national identity. We had a good plan in place in Iraq that armed and trained the Sunni tribes call the Sons of Iraq. When the Shia dominated government pulled the plug on that we saw the rise of ISIS. Instead of trying to build a national army in Afghanistan, a country of little to no national identity, we should have trained and armed the tribes and worked on regional ethnic pride.

Was it time to leave Afghanistan, no it was time to reassess and change our tactics. Biden has said there was no longer a national security threat in Afghanistan, he is wrong. The Taliban control will give terrorist a safe area to grow and plot and attack the west. Make no mistake we will have to return in one way or another.  

Arms and influence, Trump and Biden


1 THE DIPLOMACY OF VIOLENCE

The usual distinction between diplomacy and force is not merely in the instruments, words or bullets, but in the relation between adversaries—in the interplay of motives and the role of communication, understandings, compromise, and restraint. Diplomacy is bargaining; it seeks outcomes that, though not ideal for either party, are better for both than some of the alternatives. In diplomacy each party somewhat controls what the other wants, and can get more by compromise, exchange, or collaboration than by taking things in his own hands and ignoring the other’s wishes. The bargaining can be polite or rude, entail threats as well as offers, assume a status quo or ignore all rights and privileges, and assume mistrust rather than trust. But whether polite or impolite, constructive or aggressive, respectful or vicious, whether it occurs among friends or antagonists and whether or not there is a basis for trust and goodwill, there must be some common interest, if only in the avoidance of mutual damage, and an awareness of the need to make the other party prefer an outcome acceptable to oneself. With enough military force a country may not need to bargain. Some things a country wants it can take, and some things it has it can keep, by sheer strength, skill and ingenuity. It can do this forcibly, accommodating only to opposing strength, skill, and ingenuity and without trying to appeal to an enemy’s wishes. Forcibly a country can repel and expel, penetrate and occupy, seize, exterminate, disarm and disable, confine, deny access, and directly frustrate intrusion or attack. It can, that is, if it has enough strength. “Enough” depends on how much an opponent has. There is something else, though, that force can do. It is less military, less heroic, less impersonal, and less unilateral; it is uglier, and has received less attention in Western military strategy. In addition to seizing and holding, disarming and confining, penetrating and obstructing, and all that, military force can be used to hurt. In addition to taking and protecting things of value it can destroy value. In addition to weakening an enemy militarily it can cause an enemy plain suffering.

Schelling, Thomas C.. Arms and Influence (The Henry L. Stimson Lectures Series) (pp. 1-2). Yale University Press.

It has been asked many times in the last few days, weeks, and months, why are we in Afghanistan and what is the American National Interest. The Presidents last news conference touched on this as have some of his last announcements on his decision to withdrew and news outlets have stated that polls on the American people stated that they wanted to get out of Afghanistan. Biden has also on several occasions said that our goals have been met and we should not continue to put US forces in harm’s way. I started off with the opening paragraph from Thomas Shelling’s book “Arms and Influence.” It is interesting to note that the first chapter is titled “The Diplomacy of Violence.”  I could have as easily quoted George Santayana “Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.” Afghanistan is a wild and virtually ungovernable country. It was used by Al Qaeda to plan and launch the 9/11 attacks. Would we ever be able to work with the Taliban to bring them into the government, no. President Biden seemed to think so, as did President Trump. Both were determined to end US military presence in Afghanistan. Trump understood how difficult it would be to corral the Taliban so he placed conditions on our exit and while using diplomacy added the threat of military intervention should the Taliban not meet the conditions. Biden on the other hand Using the deal Trump hammed out as the excuse that we had to get out, regardless of conditions. As we have learned from Schelling, diplomacy with out the threat of force is useless. Carl von Clausewitz in his work “On War” declared that “war is a continuation of policy by other means.” Does all this mean that the US or any other country must engage in “Forever Wars’ of course not. What we need to understand is that when dealing with foreign adversaries diplomatically there is always going to be the knowledge of a military in the background. This is not a horrible, brutal, bulling way of existence, but a matter of human nature. Without such a threat Hitler went on a rampage that nearly destroyed the world. With the threat of “Mutually Assured Destruction” the US and the Soviet Union existed side by side in peace. Biden and his government are living in a world of Ideology not reality. With Afghanistan in the hands of the Taliban terrorist once again have a base of operations. Why did this not happen before as we wound down our force commitment? Trumps threats were believed. Currently Biden is seen as weak and ineffectual. Why is Afghanistan important? To keep the knowledge alive that the US will support its allies. What now will keep Turkey from attacking Iraq and eliminating the Kurds. What will keep Israel safe? What is going to keep China from attacking Taiwan. Second and Third order of effect must be considered in any decision that is made, not just feel good ideological rea

Afghanistain lesson not learned


There will be much finger pointing and recriminations following the fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban. There will be Congressional hearings and white papers from think tanks, and none will address the root cause of this and other problems that face the government and the people. The culture within the decision-making process sucks.  

Much of what I am going to say can be summed up by a saying attributed to Sam Rayburn, Speaker of the House in the mid 1950s to early ‘60s. When speaking to young congressmen who told him of their ambitions his reply was, “to get along you have to go along.” This is the basic philosophy that drives career government and military leaders as they advance, don’t rock the boat.

This is not to say that there are not those who do indeed rock the boat, but they are few and do not last long. Those in the Intelligence Community are known as Cassandras, from the Greek woman in mythology who was given the gift of prophecy and the curse of never being believed.  While there should be a place for different analysis, and in fact has doctrinal support, it is seldom if ever used. Those who go the route of “Red Team,” or Devils Advocate,” rarely survive, it’s a career ender.   

While this mentality is less evident in the military it begins to rear its ugly head as people advance. To that end those that reach the higher command levels tend to be more politician than warrior. This was not always the case. There is an old story about a Soviet officer saying that the difficulty in planning against the Americans is that they rarely read their regulations or feel an obligation to follow it. Today strict adherence to doctrine is the road to success. George Patton would likely not have made it past captain.

I am not sure this problem will be, or can be, address. Those who write reports for the decision makers have their own form and language. If they are certain of the results, their superior wants they can structure the report to fit the desire. If not, which is more often the case, they can structure the report to be interpreted as needed. An absurd example would be a report that should read, “it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and sounds like a duck, we conclude it is a duck” would conclude more like “… we conclude with a high degree of probability that it is some form of waterfowl.”

Many have touted the results of a recent final report to congress from the Afghanistan Study Group that had listed several courses of action and the resulting consequences. Today most zero in on courses of action from the chapter of Alternative Pathways. The recommended pathway was to maximize existing US leverage to achieve an acceptable negotiated peace agreement. The most risky pathway was called a Washing of Hands and warned of the results, which we have now seen. The conclusion of the report stated that

“With the launch of peace negotiations, the conflict in Afghanistan has entered a new phase. This new phase requires a new understanding. Afghans must take primary responsibility for their own future. The United States must orient its efforts and resources toward shaping the conditions around the peace process—resetting and reframing it in ways recommended in this report—in order to give it the best chance to succeed. It should be reiterated, however, that our troop presence is a key point of leverage. U.S. troops play a vital role in ensuring the continuity of state structures, and thus their presence is essential to brokering a lasting peace. Success, it should be acknowledged, is not guaranteed. But there is a clear path forward. There is now a real possibility of the conflict winding down and Afghanistan becoming a country that needs far less help from the United States. If this happens, the United States can bring its troops home and both countries can move forward as sovereign nations with friendly relations based on shared values and sacrifices.”

 The answers were given to the decision makers, not from the IC or DoD but a select group empowered by Congress. This groups membership consisted of retired politicians and retired military as well as former diplomats and academics. In other words, this group consisted of people who could speak their minds without fear of professional recriminations, and they got it right.  This also shows that the information was out there for anyone willing to see it and think.

This failure of allowing the unpopular analysis to get through to the decision makers needs to be corrected and the culture of fear over being out of step with the mainstream needs to end. This needs to be a major lesson leaned or this problem will just continue.

The fall of afghanisistan


There will be much debate in the halls of power and at cocktail parties as to the reason the Taliban were able to sweep through the Afghan National Army so quickly and why it caught the US military and the intelligence community so off guard. Having worked this problem in my years at the Pentagon I can assure you that it did not, at least not at the level of initial assessments.  No one I worked with on our task force had any illusions about what Afghanistan was, a backward tribal conglomeration, not a nation in any way. As you got higher up the food chain assessments were changed to meet the desires of the decision makers, or at least the perceived desires. For what ever reason the United States spent 20 years trying to make Afghanistan a mirror image of the west. This was impossible. Afghanistan is a made-up country designed by the British to keep the Russian Empire from touching the British Empire. Even the shape of the Badakhshan province was created so that Russian did not touch India.

For a multiethnic country the United States has a hard time understanding the existence of other multiethnic countries. While the ethnic diversity in the US has grown to accept a national identity, the Afghans have not. While the Pashtun make up a plurality of the population, between 38% and 42%, they have been accepted as representative of the total population by the US. The rest of Afghanistan: Hazara, Uzbek, Baloch, Nuristani, Tajik, Hani and Kasi have different cultures and languages. There is no national identity or loyalty to a central government and for 20 years the US continued to treat the entire country as Pashtun. Afghans are tribal and adhere to their tribal cultures. The US leaders could never quite grasp this and tried to form a central government and national army.  There was an attempt to make an ethnically diverse Army. Unless we were willing to accept Afghanistan for what it was, we were doomed.

Without this basic understanding of the people and culture we were never going to succeed. The only way for any success was to first let the military do what they are best at, killing people and braking things. Once that was done, we needed to accept that it would take generations to convert the people and during this time the military needed to stay in place. I feel for the people we left behind, especially for the female population. It would be interesting to read the After Action Reports and the Lessons Learned papers that will come out of this, but I doubt this will ever happen.

How to stop the vote


The news is abuzz over the heroic action of the Texas Democratic Caucus that left the state to go to DC so the Texas government could not vote on a new election law. The left is all aflutter over the bravery of these elected officials in denying the Texas legislature the quorum it needs to vote on a bill. In the meanwhile back in DC the left is up in arms over a Senate rule that that allows the minority to hold up a vote, called the filibuster.

If one is wrong the other is wrong and if one is right the other is right. Regardless of political position one of the mainstays of American governance is the right of the minority to have its say. Are the Texas Democrats playing a political game, of course they are. Will they pay a price, that remains to be seen. Are they Hero’s or tools. your call.

Gun Control, border control and mind control


Enough is enough, every time there is a shooting in this country the first thing out of the mouth of the left is gun control. The problem with gun control laws is that they do not work. This country has had guns in the hands of the people since it began. There are many who say the reason we have a country is that the people were armed and took up arms against tyranny. Does this translate to the people able to take up arms to defend their freedom today, likely not. Regardless of the left calling what the people possess as “Assault Rifles,” or military grade weapons it would be impossible for citizens to fight a modern military. That having been said it is unlikely, today, that they would have to. With an increase in violence, however, they may have to defend themselves and their community.  The problem is not with guns but with the increase in violence which is a threat to our communities.

The problem to be address then, is why have we become a more violent society? What has happened to remove the restrictions on violence that have held us together. There have been violent episodes in the past, the Jim Crow south or during prohibition. There were in fact understood reasons for these, not good or justifiable reasons, but reasons none the less. Today the violence seems to be mindless such as Atlanta or Denver.

So, the question to be asked of the political leadership is why are you not trying to address the rea; problem. Its because it is so much easier to scream gun control then then to address a problem that you may in fact be a contributor.

This now goes to the question of border control. This is a country of immigrants. Including my grandparents and my mother-in-law. The question is not how to close the border but how to effectively allow people to immigrate. While the left seems to think that we must allow anyone to enter who reaches the border they do not consider the ramifications of doing so. This is especially true in a time of pandemic when we have enough trouble controlling the spread of covid-19. By allowing anyone who can reach he border to enter and then jamming those who we catch into confinement facilities we are only helping spread the virus among those who can least afford to fight it physically we then release them into the general population. We must control access while being compassionate to those who need protection and will add to the common good of America.

The constant drum beat of simplistic solutions that come from the left and picked up as truth by the mass media feed a continued downward spiral of the American culture and society. This is not a new phenomenon it is what must be called a standard technique of dictators who not only control all aspects of a country but the minds of most of the population. This must stop and the only way is for all of us to question everything that comes out of the mouths of our political leadership, both left and right. I ask that everyone PLEASETHINK when you hear something that sounds wrong, because it likely is.

By the way I will be starting a VLOG soon and hope to see you signing in.

Atlanta


The Murders in Atlanta are a horror and an abomination, as they would be anywhere. The horror of what the left is making of them is even worse for our society. The suspect Robert Aaron Long, is a troubled young man with a history of mental illness. Two stories in the Washington Post highlight the problems the left has with dealing with reality. The first, headlined in at the beginning of the online and print versions spoke of the troubles Aaron faced in his life, starting the article with “The war within Robert Arron Long was evident for years.” Long is portrayed as a quiet young man who was raised in a strict religious family and community. He was seen changing after graduation from High School when he became obsessed with sex. He found relief through pornography and visits to massage parlors where the women would help him masturbate. He was in rehabilitation programs that centered on religious therapy. He eventually succumbed to guilt and decided that killing the sex workers at the Spas would reduce his guilt. He was captured on the way to Florida where he intended to attack the Porn industry.    

Six of the eight people he killed were Asian. The media immediately declared this a hate crime and decried the rise in hate crimes against Asians, blaming it on President Trump calling the Covid-19 virus the Chinese virus. Statistically a case can be made for an increase. According to reports the number of hate crime against Asians rose 150% between 2019 and 2020. The number of hate crimes recorded against Asians in 2020 was 122. Society should never tolerate hate crime and one is too many, yet 122 is hardly at crisis level.  To be clear these are reported hate crimes and the number does not cover anti-Asian racist incidents.

The second article in the WP was about President Biden and Vice-President Harris on a trip to Atlanta speaking out on the crime and declaring it a racist act. This is reminiscent of President Obama’s visit to Ferguson Missouri following the death of Michael Brown. Browns death at the hands of a police officer was called police brutality perpetrated by a white officer. This launched the Black Lives Matter movement as well as several deadly riots across the country. Obama and his AG, Eric Holder, met with the community and spoke of the horror of racism and the need for police reform. In the end, after all the evidence was collected, it was determined that Brown had attacked the officer and that the shooting was justified.  

As the evidence is being collected in Atlanta it is becoming clear that this is not a hate crime against Asians, but murder committed by a deranged individual who targeted sex workers who he felt were guilty of his problems. What the takeaway should be is to look at the potential of sex trafficking in this case, the use of massage parlors to conduct prostitution, and the need to pay attention to the mentally ill in need of help. The response should bot be an instant cry of racism and protests and calls for more laws. We need to look at the reality and evidence and wait and see were that leads us. In other words, Pleasethink before just reacting.

We need to remember the story of the boy who cried wolf. When will the cry of racism become ignored? A military axiom from Frederick the Great of Prussia states, He who defends everything defends nothing. We can extend that today and say when everything becomes racist, then nothing is racist. There is racism in the world, always has been and always will be. The objective is to blunt its impact on society. Today however we reward its activities and when there is not enough, we make it up. The people that gain from this are not the few racist/white supremacist/black activist, but the politicians who use it to increase their hold on power at the expense of the people. I for one am tired of them trying to manipulate me.   

What happened Atlanta was a crime, it was murder, it was mass murder, but it was not racially motivated and to insist that it was is to deny the facts and ignore the true nature of the crime which means that crimes like this will continue while society looks the other way.   

Why we need to fight wokeness


I have been asked why it bothers me that such things as removing Disney’s Peter Pan, Dumbo, or the cartoon Pepe La Pew, when they are meaningless to someone of my age. My response has been that it is not the specific action that bothers me it is the stupidity of it. Emotional reactions are more destructive to society than discussing things logically. Returning to Pepe Le Pew, it is now suggested that his affection for Penelope Pussycat is symbolic of a “rape-revenge narrative” in many cases it was Penelope who became the aggressor. In the end, it is a cartoon. The Indians/Native Americans, characterization is viewed as degrading.  The degrading imagery of the crows in Dumbo, with one named Jim Crow is the closest thing that needs to be removed, yet again it is a cartoon, and the crows could be revoiced and renamed without effecting the story. The story lines are either educational or just comical there is no reason to deny them to future generations

Recently in North Carolina a class of 4th graders was given an assignment to write tweets as if they were in the Civil War era. In an article in the Washington Post the assignment was made to look like a white supremacist workbook. Some of the students wrote, to quote the article, “You may not agree with slavery but I do and I’m honest about it. #SlaveryforLife,” read one, above the made-up account name @dontStopSlavery. Said another, using the handle @Confederate4life: “Why do we need to leave the country? We can stay and our slaves! #SLAVERYFOREVER.” It is important to remember this was an assignment to teach the thinking of a bygone era. There was nowhere in the story about the any after discussion, what was the lesson learned. Was it possible that afterward there was a discussion about how the view of race has changed over the years and what we need to know today, that would be education, not political correctness. Even a member of the local NAACP and former member of the Board of education said: “that the lack of context made it appear as if the students were espousing racist messages themselves rather than showing what they believed people might have written during the Civil War.”, but then continued “It should be deeply disturbing to anyone,” 

We are losing connection with our past and attempting to rewrite history to the current narrative. To disconnect from our history, warts, and all, makes it impossible to move forward in an orderly fashion and leads to emotional and reactionary laws. We cannot govern this way and expect our society to progress. To forget the past or worse to rewrite it, is the sure and certain road to losing everything we hold dear as a nation.