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Born at the Crest of the Empire

Thursday, November 12, 2009


I'm a little troubled that so much of the Afghanistan deliberation has been draggied out into the press. Today's entry: US Ambassador to Afghanistan, Karl Eikenberry wrote two internal cables speaking against an Afghan troop increase, and it's been leaked to the press.

What is really catching my eye is how much "leaking" is going on from within the administration and Pentagon to try to shape this debate. This isn't happening on domestic policy, that ship is being run very tightly, but on foreign policy, there seems to be a lot less fear of trying to push Obama around, and this is not a good thing. It signals a lack of fear (possibly leading to a lack of respect) among the foreign policy advisers and the Pentagon which makes the implementation of policy much more problematic and casts Obama as less decisive on the world stage.

They may need to "make an example" out of one of these "leakers" to snap everyone back in line, because the appearance of allowed public dissent gives space to foreign governments, something like the Israelis and the attempts to institute a settlement freeze.

(The length of time on this Afghan decision is probably contributing.)


  • It is leaking but I can't blame Eikenberry for covering himself. If he doesn't think a troop surge will succeed now is the time to say so.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:47 AM  

  • I getcha, but from a governing perspective, it spells very bad news. To me, it echoes the domestic policy leaking of the Clinton administration which froze any progress for several years before they straightened it out.

    And on foreign policy, more than domestic, it's important to have one firm voice.

    By Blogger mikevotes, at 10:28 AM  

  • In foreign policy one firm voice is what the world hears...and they are really not o.k. with that...which is why there's a lot of shooting going on even though everyone else is outgunned by the empire which spends more annually on armaments than the rest of the globe combined.
    Not to mention that the U.S. citizenry is manipulated so much as to be functionally brain dead.
    Best comment I ran into of late :
    ( Can outsiders manage change in an alien culture ?
    Related post from a blog which has much to say about the 'wars' )
    What would your reaction be if Saudi Arabia decided that sharia law is what America needs and proceeded to do everything in it's power(missionaries, economic aid, mosques, financial inducements, let alone withholding oil supplies) to ram it down your throat?

    Prior to that on my weblog post 'Muted Realities' 11 Nov from another milblog citing the NYT
    , Victor Sebestyen had a piece in Thursday's NYT that vividly illustrates the folly of letting chimera such as "not appearing weak" lock orientations into a tar-baby strategy:
    The Soviets saw withdrawal as potentially fatal to their prestige in the cold war, so they became mired deeper and deeper in their failed occupation. For years, the Soviets heavily bombarded towns and villages, killing thousands of civilians and making themselves even more loathed by Afghans. Whatever tactics the Soviets adopted the result was the same: renewed aggression from their opponents. The mujahideen, for example, laid down thousands of anti-tank mines to attack Russian troop convoys, much as the Taliban are now using homemade bombs to strike at American soldiers on patrol, as well as Afghan civilians.
    “About 99 percent of the battles and skirmishes that we fought in Afghanistan were won by our side,” Marshal Akhromeyev told his superiors in November 1986. ]
    But that's right. You're more concerned about the appearance of support than messy democracy.

    By Blogger opit, at 12:49 PM  

  • LEt's split the issue here into objectives and effectiveness. I don't want to argue the "spread of empire." I tend to agree with you, although not as vehemently.

    But on the effectiveness of implementation, it IS detrimental to have many voices saying different things as that's interpreted by friends, partners, rivals, and enemies as wiggling space which makes friends less committal and enemies more testing.

    By Blogger mikevotes, at 1:43 PM  

  • And you're still not 'getting it'. The USA has such a "Us against the world" mentality - which coincidentally means a need to be in charge - that it's like an abusive spouse.
    That has nothing to do with friendship...and everything to do with conning people to let down their guard.
    'As you reap, so shall you sow' is restated in many variations. It still means nobody like or trusts a cheat and a thief.
    Too extreme ?
    Holy Hell. Did you get the part where the Brits were told in their Parliament a few years back that the US reserved the right to kidnap, imprison and torture without regard to nationality ? i.e. Them too.
    Friends ? Chum, you're too dangerous to trust.
    Nor do you have any idea how badly people are misled. Not that the States have a lock on that : it's a global tradition. But we both know where Hollywood is located.

    By Blogger opit, at 9:53 PM  

  • I think you're seriously misreading me, but you seem so certain, I see no point in arguing.

    By Blogger mikevotes, at 5:59 AM  

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