The bottom line is clear: Our vital interests in Afghanistan are limited and military victory is not the key to achieving them. On the contrary, waging a lengthy counterinsurgency war in Afghanistan may well do more to aid Taliban recruiting than to dismantle the group, help spread conflict further into Pakistan, unify radical groups that might otherwise be quarreling amongst themselves, threaten the long-term health of the U.S. economy, and prevent the U.S. government from turning its full attention to other pressing problems. -- Afghanistan Study Group

Sunday, September 11, 2011

News of the Day for Sunday, September 11, 2011

Reported Security Incidents


Four civilians injured by a bomb placed in the Alawi Garage, central Baghdad.

Gunmen attack an army checkpoint on Palestine St., killing 3 soldiers and injuring 2 civilians.

Qalat-Sikar township, on the road between Thi-Qar and Missan Provinces

Three explosions target a U.S. army patrol. No indications of casualties. This somewhat confusingly written report says someone (U.S. soldiers?) found rocket launching facilities, whether they were merely near the site or were the source of the attack is unclear.


One civilian is killed and 8 injured in an explosion in a cafe late Saturday. Other reports place the death toll at 2.

Other News of the Day

Muqtada al-Sadr calls for a suspension of attacks on U.S. forces until their scheduled withdrawal date at the end of the year. He warns, however, that attacks will resume if U.S. forces remain after that time. There is talk in the U.S. of retaining a small force of 3,000 to 4,000 troops as trainers and advisers. Some U.S. commanders want to keep a somewhat larger force as peacekeepers in the region disputed between Arabs and Kurds.

Iraqi journalist Yasir Ghazi recalls seeing the planes hit the World Trade Center on TV. Like most Iraqis he had never heard of al Qaeda. Iraqis realized very quickly that the U.S. was going to use the Sept. 11 incident as an excuse to attack Iraq.

Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad say the U.S. used the Sept. 11 attacks as an excuse to launch the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He doesn't leave it that however, continuing to imply that the story behind the Sept. 11 attacks is other than the official version.

The Freakonomics guys have missed the target more than a few times, but they get this one right. They don't linger much over the cost of the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but the examples they do spend time on are also instructive. The real costs of terrorism:

Terrorism is effective because it imposes costs on everyone, not just its direct victims. The most substantial of these indirect costs is fear of a future attack, even though such fear is grossly misplaced. The probability that an average American will die in a given year from a terrorist attack is roughly 1 in 5 million; he is 575 times more likely to commit suicide.

Consider the less obvious costs, too, like the loss of time and liberty. Think about the last time you went through an airport security line and were forced to remove your shoes, shuffle through the metal detector in stocking feet, and then hobble about while gathering up your belongings.

Filmmaker Michael Moore discusses what it was like to be the Most Hated Man in America. And thanks MM for the shout out to this blog -- C):

Wishes for my early demise seemed to be everywhere. They were certainly on the mind of CNN's Bill Hemmer one sunny July morning in 2004. Holding a microphone in front of my face on the floor of the 2004 Democratic National Convention, live on CNN, he asked me what I thought about how the American people were feeling about Michael Moore: "I've heard people say they wish Michael Moore were dead." Hemmer said it like he was simply stating the obvious, like, "of course they want to kill you!" He just assumed his audience already understood this truism, as surely as they accept that the sun rises in the east and corn comes on a cob. . . .

I remember the moment it all began.

It was the night of 23 March 2003. Four nights earlier, George Bush had invaded Iraq. This was an illegal, immoral, stupid invasion – but that was not how Americans saw it. More than 70% of the public backed the war. And on the fourth night of this very popular war, my film Bowling for Columbine was up for an Academy Award. I went to the ceremony but was not allowed, along with any of the nominees, to talk to the press while walking down the red carpet into Hollywood's Kodak Theatre. There was the fear that someone might say something – and in wartime we need everyone behind the war effort and on the same page.

. . . The envelope was opened, and . . . I had won the Oscar. The main floor, filled with the Oscar-nominated actors, directors and writers, leapt to its feet and gave me a very long standing ovation. I had asked the nominees from the other documentary films to join me on the stage in case I won, and they did. The ovation finally ended, and then I spoke: "I've invited my fellow documentary nominees on the stage with us. They are here in solidarity with me because we like non-fiction. We like non-fiction, yet we live in fictitious times. We live in a time where we have fictitious election results that elect a fictitious president. We live in a time where we have a man sending us to war for fictitious reasons. Whether it's the fiction of duct tape or the fiction of orange alerts: we are against this war, Mr Bush. Shame on you, Mr Bush. Shame on you! And anytime you've got the Pope and the Dixie Chicks against you, your time is up! Thank you very much."

About halfway through these remarks, all hell broke loose. There were boos, very loud boos, from the upper floors and from backstage. (A few – Martin Scorsese, Meryl Streep – tried to cheer me on from their seats, but they were no match.) The producer of the show ordered the orchestra to start playing to drown me out. The microphone started to descend into the floor. A giant screen with huge red letters began flashing in front of me: "YOUR TIME IS UP!" It was pandemonium, to say the least, and I was whisked off the stage. . .

When we got back to our home in northern Michigan, the local beautification committee had dumped three truckloads of horse manure waist-high in our driveway so that we wouldn't be able to enter our property – a property which, by the way, was freshly decorated with a dozen or so signs nailed to our trees: GET OUT! MOVE TO CUBA! COMMIE SCUM! TRAITOR! LEAVE NOW OR ELSE! . . .

Afghanistan Update

Truck bomb attack on U.S. Combat Outpost Sayed Abad in Wardak province kills two Afghan civilians, injures 77 U.S. soldiers and about 25 Afghans. Impact on U.S. forces is attenuated by the blast wall, most damage is to Afghan property outside the base.

U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker says U.S. is in Afghanistan for the "long haul":

Mr Croker [sic] told the ceremony on the Kabul embassy’s front lawn: “Some back home have asked why we are still here. It’s been a long fight and people are tired. The reason is simple. Al-Qaeda is not here in Afghanistan and that’s because we are. We are here so that there is never again a 9/11 coming from Afghan soil.” . . .

He said: “For me the last ten years have always been about 9/11. I keep in my office in a small frame the boarding pass I have from that flight. “I will never forget what happened on that day and I will never give up on my commitment to do everything I can to ensure 9/11 never happens again.”

Civilian casualties in Afghanistan remain at a record level and much of the country remains beyond the grip of a still weak Kabul regime. Mr Obama has struggled to reassure Americans they are not trapped in a military quagmire, while at the same time telling Afghans and the Taliban that the United States will not abandon the country.

This memory of Pat Tillman is pretty good, except for one thing. They never manage to point out that he opposed the U.S. invasion of Iraq, had his doubts about the Afghanistan adventure, and was reading Noam Chomsky around the time he was killed by friendly fire. That would spoil the patriotic narrative. -- C

Quote of the Day

The decade kicked off by the September 11 attacks has been a nightmare for the United States, from which we strive and fail to awake. The attacks themselves were an exercise in mass terror, and among the more effective such operations in modern history. They were intended to have one of two consequences. One possibility was that they would draw the US into the Middle East, as the Soviets had been drawn into Afghanistan, which would allow al-Qaeda and its allies to mire its troops in a fruitless and enervating guerrilla war. . . .

Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and George W. Bush, however, saw the attacks as “an opportunity.” They were an opportunity to assert American dominance of the oil fields of the Middle East, and therefore, they reasoned, of the energy future of the entire world, ensuring the predominance of the American superpower throughout the twenty-first century. They thus followed a successful overthrow of the Taliban in Afghanistan with a disastrous military occupation of that country. They coddled the military dictatorship of Pervez Musharraf in Pakistan. They threw international law into the trash compactor and invaded and occupied Iraq, kicking off a massive insurgency and then a civil war, and leaving the country a political basket case. They left hundreds of thousands dead and some 4 million displaced. In northern Pakistan and then in Yemen and elsewhere, a covert program of drone strikes was carried out lawlessly and with no oversight; because it is done by the CIA and is classified, our elected officials cannot even confirm that it exists, much less conduct a public debate as to its legality, constitutional validity, or wisdom.

Juan Cole


dancewater said...

Juan Cole supported the invasion of Iraq, just like he has supported the bombing of Libya. He then went on to criticize how the occupation of Iraq was handled, and will one day criticize how the war on Libya was handled.... after it all goes to shit.

I find it hard to believe this is all due to his lack of intelligence.

dancewater said...

Michael Moore was correct all along, and the people who threatened him or attacked him are viscous assholes.

dancewater said...

Pat Tillman was a fantastic guy, and he clearly called the invasion of Iraq what it is/was: a war crime.

I think the story of Pat Tillman is the story of the US war on terror.... a total fucking waste of our best and brightest by the evil assholes of America.

Cervantes said...

D -- Cole absolutely did not support the invasion. He was a prominent, loud and unwavering voice against it -- one of the few early, powerful lonely voices. He called it a war crime and specifically called Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld guilty of crimes against humanity for launching an illegal war of aggression. For his troubles he got death threats and lost a job offer. I don't know what you are thinking.

Later, during the height of the sectarian violence, he did advocate remaining while some were advocating leaving immediately. But you are entirely wrong about him supporting the invasion.

Anonymous said...

I remember it more the way dancewater does. In the run up to the US invasion he was wishy washy and said he couldn't: oppose removing SH from power. After it went to shit he vocally opposed it. By then, though, many people were. I remember getting mocked mercilessly by people in passing cars during our weekly street protests from Apr-Jun 2003. By July 2003 we were getting honks in support. I used to read and recommend Juan Cole until I realized how lame he is.

dancewater said...

Most people remember it like you do, Cervantes, but they are remembering it wrong.

from WikiLeaks:

From the beginning of his blog in 2002, Cole has warned of the difficulties a U.S. invasion of Iraq would present, especially in its aftermath. On the day of the U.S. invasion, however, Cole endorsed the war, writing that "for all the concerns one might have about the aftermath, the removal of Saddam Hussein and the murderous Baath regime from power will be worth the sacrifices that are about to be made on all sides."[50] Later he tried to dissociate himself from either pro-war or anti-war stances, stating that he had "mixed feelings" on the issue. (I.e., he opposed Saddam Hussein's regime, but feared disaster.)[51]


Cole did raise some concerns before the invasion, like the lack of a UN resolution, but he was in general pro-war and pro-military. He just did not think the US government was doing it wrong.

He is/was more enthusiastic about bombing the shit out of Libya. He will criticize that, and then (over time) a large number of Americans will come to believe that he was against the bombing of Libya all along.