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This article first appeared in Alternet.

America now has more military personnel in Afghanistan than the Red Army had at the peak of the Soviet invasion and occupation of that country. According to a Congressional Research Service report, as of March of this year, the U.S. had 52,000 uniformed personnel and another 68,000 contractors in Afghanistan — a number that has likely grown given the blank check President Obama has written for what’s now being called “Obama’s War.”

That makes 120,000 American military personnel fighting in Afghanistan, a figure higher than the Soviet peak troop figure of 115,000 during their catastrophic 9-year war. Just this week, General McChrystal, whom Obama appointed to command American forces in Afghanistan, is talking of sending tens of thousands more American troops. At the height of the Soviet occupation,Western intelligence experts estimated that the Soviets had 115,000 troops in Afghanistan — but like America, the more troops and the longer the Soviets stayed, the more doomed their military mission became.


We’re also heading into the same casualty trap as the Soviets did. This summer has been the deadliest in the eight-year war for American troops. While the number of uniformed Americans killed in combat in Afghanistan may seem comparatively low — just over 800, most of those since 2007 — the Soviets also suffered relatively light casualties. Between December 1979 and February 1989, just 13,000 Soviets were killed in Afghanistan, a seemingly paltry figure when you compare it to the 20 million Soviets killed in World War Two, and the millions upon millions who died in the Civil War and Stalin’s Terror. Unlike America, Russians have a reputation for tolerating appalling casualty figures — and yet the war in Afghanistan destroyed the Soviet Empire. Which only proves that crude number comparisons explain nothing at all in warfare today, particularly when that war is an occupation of an alien environment like Afghanistan.

Why hasn’t anyone pointed out that America’s troop commitment now exceeds the Red Army’s? For some inexplicable reason the corporate media has decided to shuffle the figures and exclude the US military contractors from the total figure of US military personnel. It makes no logical sense — we still count the Hessians among the British forces in the War of Independence. It’s as if the only thing left that Americans are capable of is accounting fraud — the only talent we perfected over the past decade was how to move all the bad numbers off the official books, as if it’s become an instinctive reflex.

But just as those accounting tricks didn’t change all those banks’ and funds’ insolvency, so the American media’s troop-counting tricks, in which contractors are “off books,” can’t make the disaster in Afghanistan disappear. We’re already more deeply invested in our Afghanistan war than the Russians were, and as we head into our ninth year — the magic number for when the Soviets pulled out and their empire collapsed — President Obama is dragging the country deeper into that disaster. (Moreover, if you add in all the NATO personnel — useless as they are as a “fighting” force — the number of Western troops already far exceeds the number deployed in the Soviet Union’s “unwinnable” war.)


Kiwi coalition grunts hamming it up next to old abandoned Soviet tank

The Afghanistan War has somehow escaped most of America’s attention. People just assumed that since Obama is a decent guy with a sharper mind than Bush’s, he must know what he’s doing in Afghanistan, and his intentions can’t be bad — so why bother paying attention, when we have all these other problems here at home? Besides, war isn’t a fun topic anymore. Thanks to Bush and Cheney, any talk of war is a total bummer, whether you’re from the right or the left. And Americans don’t like bummers — instead, America is always “moving on” from its bummers. Nothing bums Americans out more than losing wars, which helps explain why Afghanistan is the most we’ve-moved-on subject of our time. The problem is that you can’t move on from something while it’s still a problem — but try telling that to a nation of delusionals.

Remember how long after Vietnam it took for for Americans to “move on” and get their war appetite back on? It took a decade before we could talk about ‘Nam again, and that probably would have gone on longer if it wasn’t for the kick-ass performance by Robert Duvall as Col Kilgore stirring a new generation’s blood lust. (For a taste of just how cinematic this budding tragedy could be, click here to check out these amazing photos.) We suffered then from “Vietnam Syndrome,” which was a strange way of assigning a mental illness to a totally rational aversion to invading far-away countries. This time it’s going to be even worse, though: given our 0-2 war record this decade, and the shameful way that America’s pseudo-imperialists snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in Iraq and Afghanistan, like a nation of Bill Buckners, it’s no wonder no one here wants to talk about Afghanistan.

Since we’ve already long ago “moved on” from Afghanistan, it means that our agony of defeat there will be far more painful than anything we’ve experienced before. The most frustrating thing is how obvious this catastrophe is: Obama is leading America into a predictable sequel of superpower-loses-in-hellish-Third-World-quagmire: he’s doubling down troops in a war fewer people understand, a war that’s growing increasingly unpopular as the casualty count accelerates; investing more into a corrupt regime which just stole elections in a way that would make the hardliners in neighboring Iran blush; suicide bombers are being directed by the Afghan Defense Ministry to blow up American journalists, leading to a dusty version of the ol’ “who’s in charge here?” “I thought you were”; and now, the American right wing — the only thing that approximates a real opposition this country — is having a collective Walter Cronkite moment, with George Will of all people leading the call for the West to pull its forces out now in order to limit the defeat’s damage. George fucking Will as the conscience of our nation?! This must be what Marx meant by tragedy turning to farce.

And through it all, the Russians must be enjoying America’s decline more than anyone, after all the gloating we did over their downfall: in our two nations’ ongoing Tom & Jerry Show, America’s looming defeat is shaping up to be Russia’s revenge on America’s revenge for what Russia did to America in Vietnam.

Which reminds me of an interview a couple of years ago I did with a former top Soviet advisor to the puppet Afghan government’s General Staff, Pyotr Goncharov. I was still in Moscow then, and I was working on a story to counter the then-popular neocon meme that Iraq wasn’t really the disastrous war that its critics said it was because after all, “only” 4,000 Americans died there. A lot of Russian nationalists still argue that they could have won the war in Afghanistan and that it wasn’t going so badly, given the low body count–and yet the empire collapsed there. I was curious why even a police state like the Soviet Union collapsed, and what lesson America could learn from that.

And this is where it got strange, because the first thing Goncharov said to me when I met him was, “I just want to say to you that what the Americans are doing in Afghanistan is perfect. You’re doing everything right that we did wrong over there. You’re not making any of our mistakes, and with my experience there, I can only commend you.” Goncharov told me he was the top Soviet advisor to the Afghan regime’s joint chiefs of staff from 1986-9, the year of the pullout, and today he is a leading military analyst on Afghanistan issues for state RIA-Novosti. He wasn’t interested in my line of questioning about why low body counts are so devastating to superpowers — instead, all he wanted to talk about was what a great man John McCain is. “Everything he proposes for the war in Afghanistan is exactly right. He really knows what he’s talking about,” Goncharov said. Then his otherwise cheerful face took on a confused almost dour expression: “But I have to ask: is it really possible that Americans will elect Barack Obama? Because this would be a disaster for the world. If Obama is president and he withdraws from Afghanistan, the whole world will pay, much worse than we all paid after the Soviet pullout. It can’t really be possible that Obama will win, could it? I can’t believe America would do that.”

Now we know how it really turned out: Barack Obama won the presidency, but in terms of dealing with Bush’s war legacy it may as well have been McCain. Because Obama’s Afghanistan War policy is indistinguishable from McCain’s, which is why McCain has nothing but good things to say about Obama’s conduct of the war. I always wondered after that interview with Goncharov what his reasoning was for supporting another Republican president, given the disaster America suffered under Bush: did he want America to get sucked into Afghanistan and collapse like his country did, out of vengeful spite? Or was Goncharov being sincere, as I think he was? My guess is that Goncharov really wanted McCain and genuinely liked him, because McCain was someone a military man like Goncharov could understand. And anyway, as intelligent and refined as Goncharov was, he proved what Obama is proving today: we never learn from our mistakes, as much as we pretend we do.

Call it “Afghanistan Syndrome”: Twenty years ago, Afghanistan was Russia’s “Vietnam”; today, Afghanistan is becoming America’s “Afghanistan.” Obama is walking into this disaster like one of the doomed victims from the Scream series: everyone, including the protagonists, knows that it’s going to be a disaster, everyone’s seen the script so many times they can recite it from heart. And yet Obama’s leading the nation into the trap all over again. And Obama can’t even be compared to LBJ, who at least managed to give millions of Americans Medicare. What will Obama’s legacy be? The PPIP program? Protecting AIG’s bonuses?

This article first appeared in AlternetMark Ames is the author of Going Postal, and the co-author of The eXile: Sex, Drugs and Libel in the New Russia (Grove).


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  • 1. Realpolitik  |  September 7th, 2009 at 5:30 pm

    We all need to get some perspective on the future of the American Empire. The United States is still the world’s most powerful country by all accounts and it is systemically connected to the global economy in ways far more since the 1970s than in the previous period.

    The United States still uses 1/4 percent of the world’s energy alone, produces 25 to 30 percent of the world’s GDP, and is the third largest country by both geographical size and population. Oh, and it’s military spending is larger than the next twenty countries combined.

    Think about that. If you’re in America you should be proud. You’re literally living in a modern-day Roman Empire. You–yes you, American citizens–are the taxpayers and supporters of this magnificent democratic empire that will be spoken about long after you are gone. You support our ten carrier groups that project our power across the globe. You help maintain our strategic and tactical nuclear arsenal of 10,00 active, inactive and reserved weapons. Hell, thanks to you in 2008 we exported 2/3 of all foreign arms.

    It almost makes you want to cry and such awesome power. The beauty of our strength is not so much fighting, nor conquering, but training indigenous forces to project power on their own, in which they either rightly or falsly believe they are protecting themselves while simultaneously securing our interests. While Afganistan and Iraq are two recent exceptions, take a a good look around the world and you’ll see we’re still utilizing this proven model in numerous countries such as Columbia, Israel, Chile, Egypt, Pakistan, and Jordan just to name a few of our allies.

  • 2. LOLZORG  |  September 7th, 2009 at 7:32 pm

    Wow, Concerned Citizen, you are a moron. I was talking about four of the five Stans, Russia and China, that’s why I specifically mentioned the SCO. Take a look who takes part in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. I wasn’t talking about Afghanistan and Iraq, and, Iraq isn’t even in Central Asia. It’s the Middle East. Learn basic geography, then comeback. And what I said was, and I stand by this, the US has no power in Central Asia, in the SCO countries.

    Now if you are going to bullshit and say that Iraq has moved from the Middle East to Central Asia, then there really is no counter-argument, other than to say that you are a moron who knows nothing about georgraphy.

    As for the base in Kyrgyzstan, I’ve already addressed this: “America is allowed to lease a base for no more than a year, at a huge price tag. The lease has to be renewed every year. So if US Corporations play naughty, base goes bye-bye next year. And US Corporate property gets nationalized. The SCO countries will defend each other in the event of a US attack.” Reading is wonderful, you should try it sometime Concerned Citizen.

    The Color Revolutions? They played right into the hands of Russia. With the Color Revolutions the US discredited its image as a bringer of Democracy, because if an election was to be held today, Saakashvili and Yushenko would lose so badly, that Obama routing McCain would look like a close race by comparison. As for Kyrgyzstan, it’s leader is doing everything Russia wants; if you noticed the “Russian protest” against the US base, you would see that the “protestors” couldn’t keep a straight face. “Silly Yanquis, paying triple the rate, only to get kicked out in a year, unless they behave, and than we’ll get Kyrgyzstan to triple the price again.”

    @51: Israel is more of a pain in the ass, than an ally. Columbia cannot even deal with FARK, and the base deal has been heavily criticized by other Latin American countries. Egypt? What’s Egypt’s war record? They can barely keep the Muslim Brotherhood in check. Pakistan? You mean the people who have Al Qaeda to the North and India to the East? Pakistan, like Israel, is more of a pain in the ass than an ally. Chile and Jordan? That’s the best you can do? With the countries you presented, it’s pretty damn clear who is going to be doing most of the fighting.

    And your Imperialist Stats are impressive. But that takes money. As you have addmitted, the US is responsible for a fourth of the World’s GDP and a half of the World’s military expenditure, (roughly rounded off). That means US is overpaying to keep its Empire. You cannot use a widget to produce both guns and butter, you can produce either guns or butter. In other words, money spent on empire-building cannot be spent at home.

    So let me give you some stats on how America is doing at home: Half of America’s schools are failing. There’s an unstoppable flow of immigrants coming in, that don’t want to learn Ingles (English). For those that do, the price for learning Ingles (English) is too high. The US has 40 million people living in poverty, out of 300 million. The US has so much jail population, that rehabilitation programs no longer function. In other words, in jail criminals become hardened and wiser criminals, and are then released.

    A single earthquake can destroy California’s infrastucture that will take at least two weeks to repair, immobilizing the entire state. California is issuing IOUs, because no one will even lend money to California. Look what a single hurricane, Katrina, did to New Orleans!

    Most Americans are overweight. The military is begining to let in recruits that cannot properly fight due to low IQ or low physical capabilities. Criminals are recruited to join the army.

    Here are some more statistics:

    50% of Americans cannot read well enough to find a single fact of evidence in a short publication. I’ve got a feeling that includes Concerned Citizen. 61 percent of Americans believe that Genesis is LITERALLY TRUE!!! (Not that it’s true, but the timeline was used metaphorically, but that it’s literally true!) 50% of high seniors think Soddom and Gomorrah were married. 11% of young Americans cannot find the US on the map of the World. 69% couldn’t find England.

    20% of Americans believe the Sun orbits the Earth. 51% of all professional engineers in the US are foreign born, as are 45% of all professional computer scientists. Only 1 in 4 Americans could name one of the five freedoms list in the First Amendment. One in five thought that one of the freedoms was “the right to own a pet”.

    So while you speak of those fancy carrier groups, keep in mind that you’re sacrificing America’s education, healthcare and well being for them and that countries with an uneducated population, especially empires with an uneducated population, easily collapse: see Russian, Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian Empires for the most recent examples. And remember, empires don’t get conquered, they fall apart from within….

  • 3. Jacob  |  September 7th, 2009 at 8:56 pm

    Indeed, the war in Afghanistan did not kill the Soviet Union. In fact, the collapse of the Soviet Union had little to do with the economic waste coming from the arms race or specific “projects” like the wars like in Afghanistan or the Buran program (Soviet space shuttle program).

    The first reason for collapse was the free speech and nationalism that were unleashed by Gorbachev’s reforms. The second reason is for the Soviet leadership simply did not have the guts to crack down on those centrifugal forces.

    Gorbachev simply did not understand the force of nationalism that could be unleashed with free speech, and once it was unleashed he and the people around him had no guts to put an end to it by sending some troops to crack down on the rebel republics.

  • 4. fajensen  |  September 8th, 2009 at 6:44 am

    I can’t wait for this kind of shit to hit the fan. Americans can sit back, prop up some insurgency where it need be as we did in the good ol’ days of the Cold War and watch them fight like fucking animals over a carcass

    Not for long though:

    You See, when WallMart runs out of Chinese manufactured shit for the ‘merikans to bloat themselves with we will see thousands of desperate A-Merican fatties and stupid security goons killing each other for scraps – haitian style.

    I would soo love it! Imagine them go!!

  • 5. Realist  |  September 8th, 2009 at 8:40 am

    @ 54

    Exactly! And all the gooks have to do is to sell their dollar reserves / no longer finance the US trade deficit. They can wreck the US economy with a keystroke. And Brezinski, Kissinger & Associates would sell tacos to DC tourists.

  • 6. Concerned Citizen  |  September 8th, 2009 at 12:06 pm

    So long as we continue to bomb brown people the US economy will do OK.

    The bombing of brown people would put a myriad Americans back to work and make them happy because they would be serving their country. Americans wouldn’t give a shit about what they’d be doing in a moral or ethical sense, cause “it’s a job, dude,” and that’s all that matters to these peasants. I would argue that instead of two active wars, why not 5 or 6? We don’t have to even really occupy these shitholes, pounding them is good enough for our jobs.

  • 7. Realist  |  September 8th, 2009 at 11:16 pm

    The Keynesian speaks. So bombing wedding parties all over the word is in fact a domestic make-work program by the government to keep the rural trash from endulging their meth habits. After all, it contributes to GDP, just like Katrina did. Evidently, as the narrative goes, the “big one” got us out of the depression.

    So net wealth destruction on both sides somehow, by virtue of the magical multiplicator, produces domestic bliss. Just as the printing of greenbacks does. Got it. So why do living standards stagnate or drop again?

    And to think all those dumb Chinese and Europeans invest in infrastructure…

  • 8. fajensen  |  September 9th, 2009 at 4:38 am

    A brand-spanking new embassy in Iraq which is both the largest and the most expensive in the world constitutes no influence?

    Nope – Blowing trillions on building and re-building the largest target in the world for rocket and mortar fire is at best funny.

  • 9. LOLZORG  |  September 10th, 2009 at 12:43 am

    Concerned Citizen, can you explain to me how burning money is going to make the US treasury work? When you spend money on making the bomb, and than you drop said bomb on an undeserving country, you have, in essence, wasted all the money and labor that went towards the production of that bomb. In essence, you are burning money. How the fuck is burning taxpayer dollars good for the economy?

  • 10. US Contractor  |  September 10th, 2009 at 9:06 am

    Ok this article is just wrong, the total number f US forces is not anywhere near 120,000. US forces is US military period. I lived and worked in Ahghanistan for 2 years, yes some “contractors” are doing covert ops and combat, but that number is relatively low compared to the number of contractors in Afghanistan. Most of us do jobs ranging from cooking to running training facilites(like Myself) I have never once been in combat and i know, just personally, hundereds and hundreds of contractors that won’t see any fighting. So the statement that we have more troops then the soviets is just bogus sorry.

    Now for all the people who sit on their high horse and talk about what they think they know here, have any of you lived worked among the afghan people??? If so that number is very very low. Well i have and yes there is some bad things going on, its a freaking war in case some of you forgot that. I have seen the improvements in infrastructure, schools, housing, roads, and quality of life for a lot of afghans. They are(for the most part) good people who just want a better life who deos’nt?

    As for the dumb fuck who said we (American’s) have always had the appettite to kill brown people, get your head out of fox news and get with it moron, most of us, at least the ones with free thinking brains don’t wanna kill anyone. We wanna protect our interests and help people across the world. Now sometimes its just not pretty to acheive those goals and well thats the world we live in its not all roses and lollipops, i’ve seen awful things here, death, destruction hell kids with their arms blowm off from american bombs. Like i said its war but ideally we are trying to do whats right,and yes along with whats in our best intrests.
    So argue all you want people it only fules the fire of hate. In the end you gotta do what you have to and strive to do the right thing. Which granted the US has not always done,but fuckin a we try! Any other country wanna step up and fill our shoes? I doubt it. Good luck to us all

  • 11. US Contractor  |  September 10th, 2009 at 9:22 am

    Hey LOLZORG,

    Have to admit you have some valid comments there without a doubt. I won’t even beging to start a discussion on those subjects.
    I don’t know where your from and it does not really matter to me, just a point of fact quickly i do not live nor work in the US, although i work for a US company.
    Ok now and i am not arguing i really wanna know your opinion and hell everyones, if all thats true, how are we still the most influential and powerful country on the earth if we are in such bad shape? Why is it, if we are so hated and so stupid and looked down upon, that every country i travel to i see american movies, fashions, hear american music and see heavy western influences and everyone knows whats going on in our country. Explain this to me please. Maybe its not us but humanity that has the faults? Please i want to know. For all of our faults we still have the basic principles that cannot be denied and i feel that the rest of the world, secretly or openly, envys us. Am i wrong?

  • 12. sidekickinthebutt  |  September 13th, 2009 at 10:56 am


    “Am I wrong?”

    You are.

    America isn’t impressive at all in music (by which I assume pops/rock) if you consider Brits. Their country is nowhere near as influential or resource-rich as America anymore, yet their success in that department is pretty much comparable to that of America.

    And English was already the international language when America truly became the super power. Lucky.

    American movies, yeah, that’s the most important thing about America. Hollywood was always even more important than US Navy and Marines combined. But then America != Hollywood. Not anymore anyway. Hollywood is Hollywood, something that even transcends the US. You may not believe it, but Hollywood can survive without the US.

    “Everyone knows what’s going on in our country” – well, you are a tad exaggerating there, but in any event, that’s certainly not because they “envy” you.

    This “envy” stuff to which a certain type of Americans for some reason cling is almost pathological, and I suppose purely psychological: just the other side of a certain type of complex. Or total lack of imagination.

    It’s not “envy.” You probably don’t even know the definition of the word. Sure, many may “envy” those who have good jobs in the US, and that completely depends on the US economy, so if it goes down, those “jobs” will go down with it.

    That’s all everybody else has been saying, dude.

  • 13. US Contractor  |  September 14th, 2009 at 6:03 am

    OK Dude,

    Well i have lived in 7 countries in my life and traveled to many others and your just wrong, american music is out there and way more prevalent than British stuff. Not that i am saying british music is bad, but just not as worldwide. And now i’m not talking about pop/rock, which i’m asssuming you love.
    As far as your attitude, well i’m used to it, i was just asking a question. Of course i expect you to be rude and petty. Its all you got. And yes i know what envy means you prick, you had it written all over your post.

    “Hollywood is more important than our Marines and Navy” Yeah dude, we send in tom cruise, bruce willis, and the like to fight wars. You didn’t know american idol is actually auditions for special forces. Where are you from, dumbshitville? Hollywood can survive without the US, so in that respect Hollywood could be its own sovreign country, brilliant! Will Ferrel for prez.

    “lack of imagination” Yeah thats what your post had, that and a complete lack of any intelligence.

    You know i was just trying to have an honest and open converstation, but leave it to you to turn it into and argument and scowls. It’s lonely at the top and i do expect people to be angry and be haters. So either deal with it or fuck i don’t care what you do, hate us, love us, put up with us, doesn’t really matter. Dude

  • 14. Ganer  |  September 19th, 2009 at 11:19 am

    I do not believe this. If the U.S.A could defeat more than 200 million high IQ Germans and Japanese in WWII. why can they not defeat those low IQ brown savages?

    And India is not superpower material and will never be in the same league as Russia and China.

  • 15. chugs  |  September 20th, 2009 at 7:50 pm

    @49. LOLZORG | September 7th, 2009 at 2:20 pm

    No I don’t watch fox (far from it). I point form because it simplifies the sequencing and progression of a complex argument. Anyway I doubt that anyone who watches Fox would know of of the

    Re my Vietnam quagmire remark. Yes I realise most of the regimes were hardly communist but they, from Burma, Thailand to Philippines were heavily propped by the US.

    What the US stopped was south east asia being under the spehere of influence of communist nations, at great cost of life and resources. I don’t agree with their actions or motivation however its obvious that the USSR would have hardly stopped (just in the same way the US didn’t).

    Regarding the drug comments, yes the United States runs drugs. There is vast quantities of documentary evidence to show from to the Iran Contra affair, to Vietnam itself that the US was implicitly involved in the drug trade. The fact that Afghanstain is responsible for over 90% of the worlds heroin and yet the worlds most modern armies aren’t stopping that says much about the reality of the matter. Those drugs and the liquid cash they produce are critical for the running of the global economy. You could hardly hide $500b under your bed. Its got to keep flowing.

    Regarding the use of oil I think your taking it a little personally. However the very fact that your typing on a plastic computer is indicative of your dependence on oil.

    Sure you might not use it for heating or general house power however you’ll find that the vast majority of our food depends on a transport/logistic system that is completely dependant on oil. In turn the food factories require vast amounts of inorganic fertlisers to allow the earth grow food that has rendered the earth sterile from over use of fungicides and pesticides. The earth in most industrial farms is so sterile there it contains no functional bacteria or fungus (the little microbs that create organic soil for plants to munch on).

    The problem with solar is that to move the rest of middle class to it that you would need access to rare earth metals (i.e. the stuff in your batteries and generators) to make it work. These, being implicit in the name, are rare to the extent that they have already peaked (i.e. read up on peak oil). Hence the vast conflicts in the Congo and Africa to grab the last cheap sources of rare earth minerals. Read a bit at details much of the maths behind this.

    I appreciate that you live in a hippy commune and believe you’re immune from the reality that everything, including bio-fuels, are all based, in way or another, on fossil fuels. No fossil fuels no mining for the minerals that get turned into solar panels and almost everything in your house. No fossil fuels equal no fuel to run the farmers tractor. No fossil fuels equal no servers to run the internet. Think of anything you do and try and preclude the use of oil from somewhere in the chain/life cycle.

    “The Caspian sea oil pipeline” – how does this relate to Afghanistan? Is failing geography a new requirement to join your movement?”

    Well then you haven’t heard of the Trans-Afghanistan Gas Pipeline. yes it never went ahead but it was a seriously deal in the 90s that was considered as an alternate path for the delivery of fossil fuels. Much of what is happening in Afghanistan has much to do with oil.

    “Ever heard of Shaghai Cooperation Organization? US has no influence in Central Asia. America is allowed to lease a base for no more than a year, at a huge price tag. The lease has to be renewed every year. So if US Corporations play naughty, base goes bye-bye next year. And US Corporate property gets nationalized. The SCO countries will defend each other in the event of a US attack. South East Asia wasn’t unified, Central Asia is. I think this graph represents respect towards the US rather well:“.

    Yes i’ve heard of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. However I think you’ll find that USCENTCOM (US Central command responsible for Central Asia) will polity disagree that they have no assets nor power in Central Asia. Hell these days B-52, B-2 and B-1 can fly non-stop around the world (in-flight fuelling), bomb targets in the middle east and land back in the mid-west of the US.

    That said yes you’ll find publicly issues over US base leases and such but in practice you’ll find that the US is extremely flexible.

    For example the supply chain for the Afghan war currently starts in Pakistan (all part of USCENTCOM). Presently hundreds of thousands of tons of munitions, food, and fuel are trucked and flown in from Pakistan. In the 90s when Serbia was being bombed missions were being flown out of Turkey (as was the case with Iraq, Desert Storm).

    Regarding your other comments I totally agree. I believe Gill Scot Heron says it much more elegantly in “B-Movie”.

    The disconnect however is always with the US. On one hand you have a wonderful society and yet on the other you have third-world infrastructure, poverty that should shame all humans, slavery/racism that is ignored and a emotional psyche of a 10 year old. Yet you can still fight wars any where on the planet, at any time. It would seem at the cost of everything dearest the average US citzen is happy to have a kick ass military.

  • 16. AverageCanadianGuy  |  November 9th, 2009 at 4:57 am

    Low IQ savages…Are you kidding .. Look at who is getting educated in US/Canadian universities and taking jobs in High Tech,medical areas….Also much of tech support is piped to India…These are smart people from Indian and Asia ………..

  • 17. CodebreakerV  |  January 9th, 2010 at 12:52 am

    The Afghanistan war has been lost by the US.

    I have a feeling that with 85000 jobs lost in December and more to be lost hereon, Americans will start migrating to Afghanistan in large numbers. We all know that that the soil & weather conditions are conducive for Poppy farming in Afghanistan.
    Hence, the American army can now be joined by their brethren and together they can cultivate poppy. The pure heroin could then be exported worldwide just like Oil and gas. I hope some American diplomat is reading this so that they can use this idea.

    Since they frame most world policies, clandestine drug trade can also be legitimate.

    Thoughts please?? I am already feeling thrilled by this idea..

  • 18. porkers-at-the-trough  |  January 19th, 2010 at 8:23 pm

    uhh… hello, folks? (Ames, Concerned Citizen, et al)…
    What killed the SovUnion was NOT Afghanistan, nor Chernobyl, nor even the cost of keeping pace with Reagan’s defense buildup (although they of course were contributing factors)…
    …and the answer to “What DID kill the Sov Union, and got the mighty, nuclear-armed Warsaw Pact to disband without a shot?” is right there in “The War Nerd” (book), TRIBAL RIVALRIES, ambitions, and passions can ONLY be eliminated by the ol’ Stalinist/BIBLICAL method… something HARD to do in the late 20th century! (And even Stalin let the Chechans survive, etc.)
    Just as, 2,500 years ago the bible gloated over the extermination of Jericho, but today the descendents of those victorious, bloodthirsty (Israelite) armies are STILL complaining about the damn locals (still descendents of… the Phoenicians, aka “Philistines”! Talk about “the more things change, the more they stay the same”!)
    (Which, btw, the Hebrew alphabet is a spin-off of the Phoenician alphabet… talk about “learning from your masters”… and then eliminating ’em!)
    For example, “Hunt for Red October” may be Hollywood (and Tom Clancey) movie fantasy, but it did portray a TYPICAL problem in a multi-nation FORCED empire: you never know when (Vercingetorix or Arminius fashion) your hired, foreign mercenaries might take what they have learned,(and YOUR Weapons) and REVOLT against your empire… you know, George Washington fashion, too!

    With the Holomodor (Stalin’s Ukraine famine/genocide, millions perished), Chechan evictions, Polish (Lithuanian, Estonian, Latvian, etc.) OCCUPATIONS, etc. – ALL creating resentments decades later (as, for example, portrayed in the movie “Lawrence of Arabia,” when Lawrence’s Arabs massacre a Turkish troop train), and demanding a RUTHLESS dedication on the part of the Russians that can only be called “Stalinist,” the civilized and cultured Gorbachev just didn’t want to keep that level of violence and terror going.
    Looking back, it really was a miracle that the restrained and peace-mongering Gorbachev came to power – three of his Hard-Line predecessors perished in a short time before his ascent… and Reagan, miraculously as well, survived an assassin’s bullet, had he died, it is highly unlikely that Bush-I & Gorbachev would have come to that INF treaty, without which Gorbachev could never have gone to his Politburo & military chiefs and sold them on “glasnost” & “perestroika,”….

  • 19. "Timzinsky"  |  February 16th, 2010 at 5:12 am

    My friend “Les” invaded Afghanistan in 1980 with the soviet army,,,[he was in polish army],
    he could make vodka out of anything..
    one imam loved it and would cover his eyes,, take a swig, and say, Allah is Great!
    on plane-ride to invasion,, they took the paratroopers watches so they coulden’t tell where they where going,, then opened the door..
    “where the hell are we?”
    give that imam my regards,, i know there is at least one afghani like me,,, vodka- great!!!

  • 20. Azrael  |  December 10th, 2011 at 5:54 am

    food for thought…
    at no time in recorded history has any invading army ever managed to conquer Afghanistan… Not one!…EVER!!
    The Soviets failed to do it… and the Americans / coalition are making all the same mistakes, but of course we expect the outcome to be different. The old Phrase “those who fail to learn from history are condemed to repeat it” springs to mind.

    My 2 cents worth.

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