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   PoliticsForeign Affairs Discussion Group

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To: Michael Watkins who wrote (148904)10/25/2004 12:15:44 AM
From: SBHX
   of 281500
the people need to be engaged in a truthful discussion over how/what/why we got to this place and how/what/when are we going to do about it. The people need to become much more aware and involved and not just every four years.

But I think this time your approach is not very practical is it? I mean even corporations operating with smaller logistics than a nation only publishes an annual report once a year.

We elect our government figures to do their jobs, and during their mandate, we can question them and expect answers, but given the complexity of what they have to face, for us to second guess their every move at short intervals would create an unworkable scenario --- an ungovernable country.

If they do make egregious wrongs, we can get rid of them, and this has happened in the past. How can there be so little trust in your institutions of government?

I do agree with you that after Nov 3rd, there is a need to open up the discussion on how this happened, and how it can be improved. If you look at what McCain and other republicans have asked just before CampKerry seized on it as a political advantage, there is every indication that Bush in '05 onwards would have to operate with a lot more humility and circumspection.

So yes, no WMD has hurt Bush significantly. This is really why the polls are so close.

As for your premise that a change in leadership (ie: Kerry) is going to fix it, then you have missed several noteworthy ideas here :

1. The coalition Bush assembled is fragile, these leaders have taken substantial political risk to support the US with a war that is unpopular at home. Your true friends are the ones who will stick with you when the going is tough and outcome uncertain. The ones who turn away at the first sign of danger are not your friends.

2. Kerry has worked very hard to fracture and destroy this coalition. By calling them coerced and corrupt, he had made the positions of these foreign leaders even more difficult, after all, if a presidential contender can be so disdainful of them, then how can they sell being part of this coalition to their own citizens at home?

3. Kerry's sister worked against John Howard in the Australian federal election by warning australians that they must not support the war on terror, that it has made them less safe (Diana Kerry Sep '04). Australia is the only country in the world that has supported the US in every single coalition and conflict, this is an ally no intelligent US leader can afford to turn away. If this had worked and John Howard's party turned back at the polls, the other party would have been indebted to John Kerry, this helps JK politically, but note that the other party has promised to have their troops from Iraq home in 6 months. So, if what Kerry wanted happened, the US coalition in Iraq would have lost a valuable ally. This is where JK's and US's interests are diametrically opposed. Regardless, John Howard won by a landslide and I'm wondering what he thinks of John Kerry now.

4. Remember the corrupt and coerced statement? Well Poland's president didn't take kindly to it and protested publicly, and some have wondered if Michigan's polish minority will think kindly of John Kerry's slight. Again, no intelligent leader versed in even rudimentary foreign policy will insult allies and work against US interests for the sake of a sound bite.

5. Allawi, for all intents and purposes is US's best hope for stability in Iraq. It is hard enough for Allawi and his administration to function with what they are facing --- they can only succeed if they have the trust of the Iraqis and a plurality of ME leaders. Yet, JK's camp pointedly talked about puppetry. This discredits Allawi's legitimacy, which brings forth a bigger problem worthy of debate. I think this is a very strong argument Kerry has decided that Allawi is the equivalent of Nguyen van Thieu, that Iraq in Kerry's mind, is already lost, a second vietnam. Otherwise, why else would he discount his legitimacy so easily?

With the above foreign policy misadventures from Kerry just in the past 6 months, ignoring his senate record (which is somewhat insubstantial), I must conclude that as bad as GWB is, JK is much much worse.

Whether he wants to or not, a JK administration has already sown the seeds for a (1) collapse of the coalition in Iraq, (2) a dishonorable retreat from Iraq. My conclusion : Iraq will become a second vietnam under a Kerry administration.

I just don't know if America can bear the stigma of a second vietnam.

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To: cnyndwllr who wrote (148771)10/25/2004 12:27:13 AM
From: Bilow
   of 281500
Hi cnyndwllr; Yes, I still believe that pretty much no one in power, or likely to be in power, either Republican or Democrat, will order an exit from Iraq before the public starts demanding it. The tendency by government is to keep on doing stupid things because of they cannot stand to see lives lost in a hopeless cause. I have no doubt that if it becomes necessary to pick up (or retain) Republican seats in 2006, Karl Rove will have Bush pull us out. With Kerry, I just don't know what he'd do. Both these guys have issues, this is not a happy election for me either way.

I just finished reading "Steel My Soldier's Hearts", by Hackworth. A fascinating book, it's written from the point of view of a Btn commander. I see so many books written by grunts or generals, that his midlevel view was quite interesting.

This book (he's written others) has to do with his service in the Mekong Delta. It was apparently quite different from earlier time he spent in the highlands. He makes it clear that the locals, as well as the ARVN, was more or less sympathetic to the rebels. He definitely preferred the less populated regions.

The book was written recently enough that he has a note on 9/11, but no mention of the Iraq fiasco. It was about $8 at Half Price Books.

It was well written to the point that I'll look for other books of his. I've sort of avoided Vietnam histories, but I guess it's drifted far enough into the past that I should begin reading them. It's such a sad story. Right now, I'm reading a history of the Falklands conflict.

I was wondering if you knew of Hackworth in Vietnam, or his reputation or whatever. He had pretty much nothing but good things to say about draftee soldiers on the line. Hackworth runs the "Soldiers For the Truth" website:

-- Carl

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To: Nadine Carroll who wrote (148894)10/25/2004 12:38:37 AM
From: Elsewhere
   of 281500
any arms that the US sold him were small beans compared to those sold by France, Germany and Russia, his main sources.

Please show me any source documenting that Germany sold arms to Iraq on a level comparable to France or Russia. According to
Message 18780439
Germany exported less weapons to Iraq than the USA and even Switzerland.

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To: Elsewhere who wrote (143949)10/25/2004 5:49:35 AM
From: Elsewhere
   of 281500
Karzai Is Clear Winner, Afghan Vote Results Show
By Keith B. Richburg
Washington Post Foreign Service
Monday, October 25, 2004; Page A01

HERAT, Afghanistan, Oct. 24 -- President Hamid Karzai has won a majority of votes in Afghanistan's election, clinching a five-year term and becoming the country's first democratically elected president, according to preliminary results released Sunday.

With 94.3 percent of the votes counted, Karzai was winning 55.3 percent, or 4.2 million, of the votes cast, enough to avoid a runoff, the Joint Electoral Management Body reported. Any showing of less than 50 percent would have required a runoff between the top two vote-getters, according to the Afghan constitution. Even if all the votes that are currently uncounted went to his rivals, Karzai would still win a majority. An official announcement may be made later this week.

Karzai's closest rival, his former education and interior minister, Yonus Qanooni, conceded defeat. Qanooni was far behind with 16.2 percent, or 1.2 million, of the votes cast, the results showed.


Rubin: Afghan Elections 'Remarkable and Positive'
Council on Foreign Relations Interview

Barnett Rubin , a well-known expert on Afghanistan, says President Hamid Karzai appears to be on his way to winning more than 60 percent of the vote in the "remarkable and positive" presidential election held October 9. Despite pre-election fears that the Taliban would try to disrupt the vote, it was largely peaceful. The Taliban, Rubin says, "took the measure of the political situation, and realized they would not build support for themselves by attacking the electoral process."

That doesn't mean Afghanistan is out of the woods, however. Rubin, formerly the director of the Center for Preventive Action at the Council on Foreign Relations and now director of studies at New York University's Center on International Cooperation, says the country faces a "huge problem" of drug trafficking. "In Afghanistan, to a very significant extent, drugs are the economy," says Rubin, who has provided advice to John Kerry's campaign. Bush administration proposals to launch an opium-eradication program along the lines of the one employed against Colombian coca would be a major blow to Afghan farmers. Such a program, he says, "would destroy what we are trying to build" and would "make the United States the enemy of the Afghan people."

Rubin was interviewed by Bernard Gwertzman, consulting editor for, on October 18, 2004.

What is your assessment of Afghanistan's presidential election?

When we had our first discussion on Afghanistan, I said there were a tremendous number of positive things happening there, but that we had not yet created the conditions for them to succeed. I think that is still the case. There is some progress on some fronts, but there is a huge problem looming that the United States seems poised to make worse. That is drugs.

As to the elections, there are three things which are remarkable and positive about them. One is that they took place all over the country and in refugee camps in Pakistan and Iran, albeit with a number of irregularities and problems. But nonetheless, they took place. Every Afghan who helped carry out the elections, who voted, who organized it, who counted ballots are all doing it for the first time. Second, there was a very heavy turnout, heavier than in the United States in percentage terms for a presidential election. The voters were both men and women, although in some areas of the country there was a much smaller turnout of women.

Third, there was no significant violence. There was one attempt to stage a major terrorist act. A fuel truck with 40,000 liters of gasoline or diesel packed with rocket launchers and other munitions was smuggled into Kandahar. But that was found by the security services before it could be exploded. Also, it was not done by Afghans. It was carried out by Pakistanis from Punjab who better fit the profile of the new generation of al Qaeda in Pakistan. They were not Taliban. And the Taliban even announced that it had decided not to attack polling sites because they did not want to kill innocent people. That may be a little disingenuous on their part, but I think it shows that they took the measure of the political situation and realized they would not build support for themselves by attacking the electoral process.

Do you see any trends in the election results?

I have been looking at the preliminary election results as they are coming in. What they show is, first of all, President Karzai looks like he will get more than 60 percent of the total vote. As expected, the candidate with the next number of votes, the former education minister, Yunus Qanooni, looks like he will get under 20 percent. And then, General Abdul Rashid Dostum, the ethnic Uzbek warlord, will probably get about 10 percent. Haji Mohammad Mohaqiq, the planning minister in Karzai's government and an ethnic Hazara, is doing very poorly. That may reflect where the initial results are coming from, because few Hazaras live in those areas. The other candidates are not significant. In terms of constituencies, Karzai is sweeping the Pashtun areas with over 85 percent.

That was expected because he himself is a Pashtun?

Yes. In addition, he is doing quite reasonably well in the other areas. It looks to me as if he is the only candidate who pulls support from all ethnic groups. For instance, Karzai is significantly in the lead in Herat province, which is predominantly Persian-speaking. Now, there will be a struggle over the interpretation of this result. Some will charge vote fraud because the government recently removed Ismail Khan, a warlord [who was governor of Herat], and put in power people from the central government. My impression is that the government is not really effective enough to pressure people and carry out fraud in a concerted manner. It may also be interpreted as a vote of support in favor of the administrative changes in the province and the removal of Ismail Khan. I don't know. In any event, it shows Karzai having a significant victory in a mainly Persian-speaking area, not only a Pashtun area.

What do the results mean?

We should not over-interpret these results. They do not mean that Afghanistan is on the way to being a democracy. They provide legitimacy for the process of political transformation; the people have confirmed the choice--by the United States and the United Nations and others--of Karzai. They have also affirmed that they do not want to be ruled by warlords, although some warlords do have genuine political constituencies. They will have to be dealt with on that basis.

U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad said today that it will take some 10 years for democracy to be established. What do you make of that?

That's a very optimistic view. It depends on what you mean by democracy. To me, it means that people participate in governing themselves, which means that they participate in the forming of policies that affect their lives. That brings us to the next point, which is about drugs.

Could you spell that out?

The drug economy in Afghanistan is completely out of control. Last year, the opium economy in Afghanistan accounted for an amount equal to an estimated 50 percent of the legal economy the year before. This year, the CIA recently estimated that the amount of land on which opium is grown is now more than 60 percent higher than the previous years. On the northern border with Central Asia, 96 percent of the seizures [of illicit goods] coming out of Afghanistan into Central Asia are of heroin or morphine. That means that there are many more processing labs inside Afghanistan that are providing larger profits to drug traffickers and to warlords.

In Afghanistan, to a very significant extent, drugs are the economy. It is the foreign exchange from drugs that is supporting imports, that is keeping prices stable. Every time Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld goes there, he drives through Kabul and says, "It is great." There is all this construction activity. It is based on drugs. The amount of money coming into Afghanistan from the sale of drugs abroad is nearly twice the amount from international assistance.

Now, as one of the members of the Afghan government said to me, "Cultivators don't produce traffickers; traffickers produce the cultivators." So what you have to do is focus law-enforcement efforts on the traffickers who have gotten people in almost debt bondage to make them grow opium. You have to have a huge effort to renovate the whole economy. You can't talk about some marginal counternarcotics program as an add-on to your overall approach. The narcotics are one-half the value of the legal economy, in one of the poorest and best-armed countries in the world.

What is the Bush administration's policy?

They are talking about aerial crop eradication through spraying, as in Colombia. If they carry out that policy, the administration would destroy what we are trying to build. That would make the United States the enemy of the Afghan people. Everyone who works on drug trafficking internationally will tell you that, in formulating an anti-drug policy, the last thing you do is crop eradication. Bring in crop eradication when you have given people alternative livelihoods. That is the policy in countries where drugs are a marginal part of the economy. At this point, we are not offering the Afghans significant alternative livelihoods. We are aligning with some major traffickers who are allies in our war on terrorism. And meanwhile, we would destroy the livelihood of poor people with aerial spraying.

Is this going on now?

No. There is a policy battle over this right now. There are powerful people in this administration who are pushing for aerial spraying. That would destroy everything positive we are trying to do there. We do have to attack drugs. The Defense Department has been cautious on this. Troops were ordered not to do anything about it. A major commander, one of the main allies in the war on terrorism, was arrested with a truck full of heroin. He was taken to Bagram Air Base for three days and then was let go. He is back as a commander of one of the four major garrisons in the country. It was said then that "this is not our job." Now the United States is saying, "It is our job," but we are going about it in the wrong way.

Has Senator John Kerry come out with a policy paper on Afghanistan?

Both he and John Edwards spoke in the recent debates about the growing drug problem. So far, the campaign has not come out with a statement on what their counternarcotics policy in Afghanistan would be. They have just noted that, while applauding the [Afghan] elections, nonetheless under the Bush administration's watch, narcotics have become a very big problem.

What should we be doing?

You cannot eliminate half of the economy through law enforcement. It is just crazy. It requires a major development effort. There is nothing right now under way that would help the economy grow legally in a significant way.

What is the dollar estimate of the drug economy?

The estimate for 2003 is that the total value of opium in the Afghan economy is about $2.3 billion. The total legal economy was about $4.1 to $4.2 billion. No other country has anything like Afghanistan in the proportion of drugs to the overall economy. Burma is the closest, which is about one-half of Afghanistan.

Summing up, what would you say about Afghanistan today?

They have recently succeeded in removing Ismail Khan and other commander-type governors in a number of provinces in western Afghanistan. They have deployed the Afghan national army there. They are on their way to improving the administrative and security reach over western Afghanistan. I think they are making some progress in a number of the Pashtun areas. I think a number of warlords have transformed themselves into political leaders in this election, and now they will start preparing for the parliamentary elections.

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To: Michael Watkins who wrote (148898)10/25/2004 7:16:09 AM
From: Ish
   of 281500
So the nuclear bomb making materials and equipment were there before the start of the war?

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To: Elsewhere who wrote (148913)10/25/2004 8:26:14 AM
From: Michael Watkins
   of 281500
Nadine sadly seems more interested in perpetuating myths than digging for the truth.

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To: GST who wrote (148759)10/25/2004 9:14:31 AM
From: Sun Tzu
   of 281500
Thanks. It seems that this board has become more balanced compared to when I left. On the other hand, it is also more chaotic. I will post from time to time as opportunity permits. Keep up the good work yourself.


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To: jttmab who wrote (148772)10/25/2004 9:34:00 AM
From: Sun Tzu
   of 281500
Thanks for the welcome and I have enjoyed your recent posts. It is remarkable that despite so much evidence to the contrary, Bush still holds about half the votes. Most of us would agree, to put it mildly, that to make it to the top of food chain in politics, one has to be "morally flexible". Yet the neocons have elevated Bush beyond someone whose policies they mostly agree to some kind of demigod with a pure heart who can do no wrong. In truth few administrations have been as corrupt and as harmful to America as Bush's. I am reading Eric Hoffer's True Believer to help me better understand the Bush camp. It is an interesting book.

I am not so keen on Kerry either. In fact this election is not about Kerry at all, IMO; most people are either voting for Bush or against him. So much for being a "uniter". My top worries with Bush are (1) the environment (2) possible expansion of his military adventurism. and (3) the coming supreme court appointees. If I knew he would not do significant damage in these 3 areas, I'd happily support him just so that he will be in the office to reap a harvest of his own making and proving neoconservetism for the bankrupt ideology that it is...I'd feel sorry for Kerry, should he win the elections.


PS I see what a great idle neocons are making of Reagan. I don't recall them to be so supporting of him when he was in power. Talk about revisionism!

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To: Sun Tzu who wrote (148918)10/25/2004 9:35:56 AM
From: jlallen
   of 281500
Yet the neocons have elevated Bush beyond someone whose policies they mostly agree to some kind of demigod with a pure heart who can do no wrong.

Pure pinheaded silliness.....

In truth few administrations have been as corrupt and as harmful to America as Bush's.

LOL!! Remember BJ Billy Bubba Clinton?


You had me going for a while....I almost took you seriously....

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To: SBHX who wrote (148911)10/25/2004 9:37:51 AM
From: michael97123
   of 281500
"So yes, no WMD has hurt Bush significantly. This is really why the polls are so close."

I think its more the disaster on the ground since victory was declared. If it truly was an easy win, only ideologues on the left would have concentrated on the wmds, especially since everyone at the time believed they were there.
Other than that i agree with what you write. On FP, Kerry is what i would call a left wing pacifist by nature ever since his vietnam/post vn experience. His voting record leads me there in the 80s when he didnt support Reagan's move to tip the soviet empire. But that can be better explained by the prior 20 years of detentish cold war. So i can forgive him on that. But what i cant forgive him for is his opposition to the Gulf war which is what the democrats now use as the template for righteous coalitions. Bush is right when he says that if John Kerry had his way saddam would still be in kuwait. To be honest, saddam would probably be in Saudi Arabia as well. Mike

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