Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

Wednesday Morning News Roundup

Posted by Phoenix Woman on November 18, 2009

Obama’s plans for Afghanistan include an “end game”. In other words, it sounds like he’s not buying the arguments of McChrystal or McChrystal’s Australian guru, Dr. David Kilcullen, that we need to stay in Afghanistan for fifty or a hundred years.

Frank Schaeffer discusses with Rachel Maddow how all those “Pray for Obama: Psalm 109:8” are actually calls for him to be murdered — “trawling for assassins” is how he puts it. As the Christian Science Monitor explains:

The psalm reads, “Let his days be few; and let another take his office.”

Presidential criticism through witty slogans is nothing new. Bumper stickers, t-shirts, and hats with “1/20/09” commemorated President Bush’s last day in office.

But the verse immediately following the psalm referenced is a bit more ominous: “Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow.”

As a commenter on Daily Kos mentions in a diary on this subject:

It’s important to note that in Hebrew poetic language (of which the Psalms is a part) repetition was a major form. A writer would say something and repeat it once or more times with slightly different wording to bring out a fully-fledged meaning. So it is not only possible that Psalm 109:9 makes 109:8 seem more ominous, 109:9 clearly shows that the author wants someone dead in order that their office will come to someone else. There is no other good interpretation. So don’t let anyone get away with some “that’s out of context” non-sense.

— Speaking of conservative efforts to misuse religion, the conservatives in the Catholic Church are not happy to hear this news that preliminary phase of the $2 million study commissioned by the bishops at the height of the Church’s sexual abuse scandal has so far found no connection between sexual orientation and abuse of children by clergy.

3 Responses to “Wednesday Morning News Roundup”

  1. Stormcrow said

    Hate to rain on your parade, but Kilcullen’s take on the strategic course in Afghanistan is not clear: Where Does Kilcullen Stand?.

    Given the assumption that we stay in, his advice is to pursue a “long war”. Pat Lang, who is sometimes critical of Kilcullen, tends to agree. Read his statements carefully and I think you’ll agree with me.

    If you’ve been keeping up with Pat Lang’s blog, you also know what he thinks of the overall advisability of staying in Afghanistan. He’s made it clear as crystal. He thinks we should leave, soonest.

    So it’s clear that support of a class of methods does NOT imply support of objectives that require these methods.

    This is a serious logic issue. People are normally prone to confuse means with ends, and therefore prone to confuse support for the necessary means with support for the ends.

    Kilcullen’s support for the means does not imply he supports the ends.

    • The problem is that Kilcullen, not Pat Lang, is the guy who is McChrystal’s favored advisor, and he doesn’t seem to be reining in McChrystal — quite the opposite, in fact:

      Kilcullen’s recent book, The Accidental Guerrilla, presents the case for a Long War of fifty or even 100 years’ duration, with chapters on Iraq (a mistake he believes was salvaged by the military surge he promoted in 2007-08), Afghanistan (where he recommends at least a five-to-ten-year campaign), Pakistan (whose tribal areas he sees as the center of the terrorist threat) and even Europe (where, he says, human rights laws create legislative “safe havens” for urban Muslim undergrounds).

      Kilcullen testified recently before the Senate that Afghanistan and Pakistan will require two more years of “significant combat,” plus another decade of nation building at an additional cost of $2 billion per month. Given the current military cost of $4 billion per month, that could mean more than $80 billion annually for Afghanistan alone, or $1 trillion if Obama serves two terms, not counting long-term costs like veterans’ healthcare.

      […]

      There has been little public discussion of the Long War. The term is attributed to Gen. John Abizaid, head of Central Command from 2003 to 2007; it is endorsed by counterinsurgency theorist John Nagl, who heads the Center for a New American Security; and it has been critically reviewed only in a collection, The Long War, edited by Andrew Bacevich.

      The world counterterrorism community that is planning the Long War, Kilcullen has said, is “small and tightly knit.” This is precisely Bacevich’s complaint. In the preface to his book he writes, “National security policy has long been the province of a small, self-perpetuating, self-anointed group of specialists…dedicated to the proposition of excluding democratic influences from the making of national security policy. To the extent that members of the national security apparatus have taken public opinion into consideration, they have viewed it as something to manipulate.” The fraternity of counterinsurgency specialists is an even smaller bubble insulated from civic society. They bear a distinct resemblance to the Vietnam-era elite described by David Halberstam as “the best and the brightest,” the New Frontiersmen who were propelled to the “dizzying heights of antiguerrilla activity and discussion,” revived the Green Berets and ultimately crashed in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.

      • Stormcrow said

        PW, you cited the relevant passage yourself.

        Kilcullen testified recently before the Senate that Afghanistan and Pakistan will require two more years of “significant combat,” plus another decade of nation building at an additional cost of $2 billion per month. Given the current military cost of $4 billion per month, that could mean more than $80 billion annually for Afghanistan alone, or $1 trillion if Obama serves two terms, not counting long-term costs like veterans’ healthcare.

        Kilcullen is nobody’s fool.

        Read over those numbers for yourself and tell me what that looks like to you. Pretend you’ve never seen them before. What’s your reaction going to be?

        Yeah, I thought so. Pretty much the same as mine.

        Kilcullen certainly isn’t fool enough to think we can afford this. Or that we’d tolerate a “foreign war” of that long a duration and that high an expense even if we could afford it.

        What he did do, was tell Congress what the minimum table stakes were. What the ante was.

        I’m here to tell you that no rational actor is going to shell out that kind of expenditure for anything short of an existential war, which this most manifestly is not.

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