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Rethink Afghanistan: Amnesty and Reconciliation for Militarists

2:54 pm in Uncategorized by Josh Mull

I am the Afghanistan Blogging Fellow for The Seminal and Brave New Foundation. You can read my work on The Seminal or at Rethink Afghanistan. The views expressed below are my own.

We’ve entered a new phase in the debate over the war in Afghanistan. Bernard Finel writes:

Conventional wisdom in Afghanistan is changing. Just a few months ago, calling for a smaller footprint approach focused on counter-terrorism was labasted as “half-assed” and worse. And people calling for such an approach were accused of being ignorant and labeled as extreme peaceniks. But times change, I guess because it is becoming increasingly clear that we are moving in the direction of this position.

He’s referring to the fact that the counterinsurgency strategy is now being scaled back to focus more on assassinations, kidnappings, and so forth – what Vice President Biden calls "Counter-terrorism Plus". The problem Finel raises is that the folks who were once so fiercely touting COIN’s nation building are now the same people claiming to be all in favor of CT-Plus and its lighter footprint. He labels them as "vaguely sociopathic" for their apparent change of heart.

I know we get a kick out of ridiculing these people. It’s aways fun to look back and realize you’ve been right about something. Who doesn’t want to preen around declaring how smart they are because of what they said back in two-thousand-and-whatever. I do it. We all do it.

But not this time. Read the rest of this entry →

Feeling The Heat From Afghanistan Part 2: Lame Duck Incumbents

5:00 pm in Uncategorized by Josh Mull

I am the Afghanistan Blogging Fellow for The Seminal and Brave New Foundation. You can read my work on The Seminal or at Rethink Afghanistan. The views expressed below are my own.

Part 1 – 2010 Midterms: Both Parties Feel The Heat From Afghanistan

Last week we talked about politicians on both sides of the aisle suffering for their support of the war. In particular we looked at Democratic staple Jane Harman’s bloody primary battle with a challenger whose position on the war is merely moderate and mainstream. You wouldn’t normally expect a convention fight over a boring centrist compromise like a withdrawal time line and transition to a peace mission, but this is the political climate we’re dealing with right now. Constituents across the country are standing up and demanding to be heard, exactly as our political system is intended to function, and any representative who thinks they can ignore it is in for a terrible year. As I said in part 1, it’s no longer safe to support the war in Afghanistan.

But what about the dreaded lame duck incumbents who won’t be running again, the members of congress who aren’t really under any obligation to listen to their constituents? After all, they don’t have need any more re-election funds, campaign volunteers, none of that. With important votes like the supplemental budget still facing this congress, are these lame ducks able to run out the clock and support the war? Nope. Even the lame ducks are being brutalized by the war in Afghanistan. Read the rest of this entry →

2010 Midterms: Both Parties Feel The Heat From Afghanistan

8:00 am in Uncategorized by Josh Mull

I am the Afghanistan Blogging Fellow for The Seminal and Brave New Foundation. You can read my work on The Seminal or at Rethink Afghanistan. The views expressed below are my own.

Stop the presses, we might have some good news on the war in Afghanistan. Savor it:

Washington, D.C. – In a letter sent to President Barack Obama today, U.S. Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) and U.S. Representatives Jim McGovern (D-MA) and Walter Jones (R-NC) urged him to set a flexible timetable for removing U.S. troops from Afghanistan and transition to a sustainable counterterrorism strategy for the region.  The bipartisan group of legislators suggested that “rather than investing a disproportionate amount of our resources in Afghanistan, we need to shift resources to pursuing al Qaeda’s global network."

What, only a letter urging something? It doesn’t seem like much, but it’s a positive sign that both parties are realizing the futility of Afghanistan. And they’re not turning against the war on their own, they’re listening to the American people. At a time when the CIA is writing memos on the best way to subvert democracies, it’s a good sign that at least our democracy is still working.

Last month, the anti-war movement got its 3 hour debate on H.Con.Res 248, and while the resolution itself ultimately failed, it did serve as a shot across the bow of the House leadership. While some may claim the movement is irrelevant, it proved we could still get even our wildest fantasies, like an immediate and complete withdrawal, all the way to the House floor for debate. Have the Repeal Obamacare folks done anything close to that? Nope, but it helps us keep this in perspective when we talk about which movements actually have real momentum and power, and which ones are just shameless partisan pandering. The movement to end the US conflict in Afghanistan does have momentum, and as we’ll see, it’s affecting both parties. Read the rest of this entry →