Yes, We Could... Get Out!  

Posted by Big Gav in

TomDispatch has an article on the chances of the US withdrawing from Iraq and Afghanistan - Yes, We Could... Get Out! .

Yes, we could. No kidding. We really could withdraw our massive armies, now close to 200,000 troops combined, from Afghanistan and Iraq (and that’s not even counting our similarly large stealth army of private contractors, which helps keep the true size of our double occupations in the shadows). We could undoubtedly withdraw them all reasonably quickly and reasonably painlessly.

Not that you would know it from listening to the debates in Washington or catching the mainstream news. There, withdrawal, when discussed at all, seems like an undertaking beyond the waking imagination. In Iraq alone, all those bases to dismantle and millions of pieces of equipment to send home in a draw-down operation worthy of years of intensive effort, the sort of thing that makes the desperate British evacuation from Dunkirk in World War II look like a Sunday stroll in the park. And that’s only the technical side of the matter.

Then there’s the conviction that anything but a withdrawal that would make molasses in January look like the hare of Aesopian fable -- at least two years in Iraq, five to ten in Afghanistan -- would endanger the planet itself, or at least its most important country: us. Without our eternally steadying hand, the Iraqis and Afghans, it’s taken for granted, would be lost. Without the help of U.S. forces, for example, would the Maliki government ever have been able to announce the death of the head of al-Qaeda in Iraq? Not likely, whereas the U.S. has knocked off its leadership twice, first in 2006, and again, evidently, last week.

Of course, before our troops entered Baghdad in 2003 and the American occupation of that country began, there was no al-Qaeda in Iraq. But that’s a distant past not worth bringing up. And forget as well the fact that our invasions and wars have proven thunderously destructive, bringing chaos, misery, and death in their wake, and turning, for instance, the health care system of Iraq, once considered an advanced country in the Arab world, into a disaster zone(that -- it goes without saying -- only we Americans are now equipped to properly fix). Similarly, while regularly knocking off Afghan civilians at checkpoints on their roads and in their homes, at their celebrations and at work, we ignore the fact that our invasion and occupation opened the way for the transformation of Afghanistan into the first all-drug-crop agricultural nation and so the planet's premier narco-nation. It’s not just that the country now has an almost total monopoly on growing opium poppies (hence heroin), but according to the latest U.N. report, it’s now cornering the hashish market as well. That’s diversification for you.

It’s a record to stand on and, evidently, to stay on, even to expand on. We’re like the famed guest who came to dinner, broke a leg, wouldn’t leave, and promptly took over the lives of the entire household. Only in our case, we arrived, broke someone else’s leg, and then insisted we had to stay and break many more legs, lest the world become a far more terrible place.

It’s known and accepted in Washington that, if we were to leave Afghanistan precipitously, the Taliban would take over, al-Qaeda would be back big time in no time, and then more of our giant buildings would obviously bite the dust. And yet, the longer we’ve stayed and the more we’ve surged, the more resurgent the Taliban has become, the more territory this minority insurgency has spread into. If we stay long enough, we may, in fact, create the majority insurgency we claim to fear.


I remember that smiling guy. He's the one who made a secret deal with our enemy in order to help him gain the White House.

He's the guy who illegally traded arms for support for an immoral war.

He's the guy who took the solar panels off the White House and set back the transition away from fossil fuels by decades.

He's the guy who took us down the road of too little regulation which has brought us to almost total economic collapse and deaths in mines.

Yep, that's Saint Ronnie. Patron saint of things terrible.


Now for the Tom stuff.

Going into Iraq was wrong. But bugging out would have been just as wrong. We broke it - we are obligated to try to fix it.

Going into Afghanistan was understandable. The Taliban was in control of the government. They supported and aided al Qaeda.

We knocked them out of power and then we failed to finish the job. Now we've got another mess. And we need to put on our big boy Y-fronts and finish the job that another Republican president f*cked up.

It's all about taking personal responsibility. Something that Republicans seem to value until they are called to take their share....

The Ronnie image was a joke (he really did change things though - unlike Obama, who hasn't).

As for Iraq, I agree with Tom - the US should leave Iraq now - the "bugging out" argument is just crap and will be used forevermore as an excuse to stay.

The Taliban are going to end up back in charge of Afghanistan regardless - even if it takes them 40 years to do it - you've got no more chance of winning there long term than the Soviets did.

Obama has changed nothing? Are you friggin' kidding me?

Could we start with him putting scientists back in charge of science? No more twenty-something non-scientist telling government scientists what data they could make public and what they couldn't.

Stem cell research, huge money to green energy, health care legislation, gay and womens rights improvements, major increases in car mileage requirements, and the list goes on.


Yes, going into Iraq was totally wrong. Evil wrong. But once there I think it necessary to try to help get things calmed down.

Afghanistan. Remember the Soviets were trying to conquer. We're trying to allow an independent government to get on its feet.

Furthermore common belief among military analysts is that the Soviets basically had control of Afghanistan but were pulled out for political reasons. Part of Gorbachev's redirection of the Soviet Union.

It's not clear that the Taliban will end up back in control. Lots of the population do no want these "hillbillys" running their country.

Talks are apparently underway with a least a large portion of the Taliban to allow them a role in the final government but not overall control. Basically let them rule the mountainous areas they control much like the Kurds control their part of Iraq.


Reagan. No joke.

When he was governor of CA he decided that the state mental hospitals should be closed (very good idea) and that the patients should be moved to community facilities (also very good idea).

He promised that the money being used to fund the state hospitals would flow to the counties to fund the new needed facilities.

The money was never sent.

Thousands of severely mentally ill people got dumped on the streets, most suffered, many died.

It took years for the counties to scrape money from their other programs and fix the wrongs that Ronnie had wrought.

I honestly don't think Obama has changed much - the spin is completely different but tangible outcomes seem very thin on the ground (yes, he's spent some on clean energy initiatives, but also bankrolled new nuclear, clean coal and offshore drilling).

I really don't see the american presence calming things down in iraq, nor afghanisatn - its their presence which guarantees the taliban will eventually win.

Th Soviets would have made the same sort of arguments about the communist government in Kabul (some neocons have even tried to resurrect their stories as a way to bolster their own plans) but its just crap.

let people sort their own lives out - they don't need foreigners to do it (especially ones with ulterior motives).

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