US Mission Afghanistan: To 2024 and Beyond – That’s A-OK ‘Cuz Our Soldiers for 2024 Entered Kindergarten Last Fall

According to news report, the United States is promising to help defend Afghanistan militarily for at least the next decade after Afghan forces formally take full control of the their country’s security in 2014.

Afghan National Security Adviser Rangin Dadfar Spanta said that under the proposed deal, both sides could agree to extend U.S. military assistance past 2024.  The draft agreement was reportedly signed over the weekend by Spanta and U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker during a ceremony in Kabul.

Oddly enough, US Embassy Kabul’s website and social media arms are pretty quiet about this new and important development.  No photos of the ceremony were posted, no draft agreement of the US-Afghan Strategeric Pact posted, not even a Twitter whisper. Just absolutely nothing! Everything and everyone sewed up as quietly as a stuffed mouse.  Although not on the area of condemnation, of which there’s a lot like —

Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker Condemns Actions Depicted in Photos
U.S. Embassy Kabul Condemns Attacks
U.S. Embassy Condemns Attacks in Herat and Helmand Provinces

A related VOA News quotes U.S. Embassy spokesman Gavin Sundwall praising  the draft agreement, saying it supports “an enduring partnership with Afghanistan that strengthens Afghan sovereignty, stability and prosperity” and that contributes to the shared goal of defeating al-Qaida and its extremist affiliates.

Wait, wait a minute – didn’t Leon said something about those Al-Qaida dudes in Afghanistan?

In June 2010, CIA Director Leon Panetta told Jake Tapper on teevee that there were “at most” only 50-100 Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. Remember that?

“I think the estimate on the number of Al Qaeda is actually relatively small,” Panetta said. “At most, we’re looking at 50 to 100, maybe less. It’s in that vicinity. There’s no question that the main location of Al Qaeda is in the tribal areas of Pakistan.”

Well, so what? That’s just the CIA, what do they know?

The same report repeated that news item about President Karzai wanting a written commitment of $2 billion a year from the United States after the withdrawal.

Apparently, our government is happy to give him more.  U.S. officials said they could pay up to about $4 billion a year to fund Afghan forces.

*Ching-wah TSAO duh liou mahng!!!

This is absolutely freakin great news!

There are less that 100 Al Qaida “nationals” in Afghanistan and we’re staying there for ten more years until 2024, and maybe beyond. You know, in case they make a mess of our nation-building project mess over there. But it’s all right because our soldiers for 2024 entered kindergarten last fall.

Also, President Karzai whose control spans Kabul and beyond the city limits (as we all know) wanted $2 billion on paper. And we’re giving him $4 billion and change because we are generous people, never mind that our houses are falling down. Or that many of our kids, who will be fighting this war beyond 2024 go to sleep hungry every night in the United States of America.

As an aside – please, somebody, please tell us which International School of Negotiation did you all go to, because we are definitely going to enroll there for our Ph.D.

Um – about being hungry in America? You think, no way, Jose – not in America. Yes, way – Hunger in America 2010, the  largest study of domestic hunger, providing comprehensive and statistically-valid data on the emergency food distribution system and the people Feeding America serves indicates that: 1) Feeding America is annually providing food to 37 million Americans, including 14 million children (an increase of 46 percent over 2006), 2) Feeding America’s nationwide network of food banks is feeding 1 million more Americans each week than the organization did in 2006; 3) The number of children the Feeding America network serves has increased by 50 percent since 2006.

So, I was eating lunch today and all I could think about is Hamid Karzai’s $4 freakin billion every year for the next ten years for starters.  And I hate to admit that I lost my lunch, all over the place.

After I’ve cleaned up my mess, I heard that Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) was barred by Hamid Karzai from entering Afghanistan.  And while I am not/not a fan of Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), U.S. taxpayers elected that man. And since U.S. taxpayer money is funding Hamid Karzai and the Government of Afghanistan, and will continue to do so until 2024 and on to perpetuity, I say, we should send Congressman Rohrabacher as Pro-Consul to Afghanistan, and make sure our investment is well spent. As our dear, Jerry Bremmer did in Iraq.

Oops! And here is where I’ll make a confession — I’ve just lost all my marbles! It’s that kind of sucky day.

What else is there to say except perhaps remind our government  to better not slash funds for Feeding America, so we’ll have soldiers for Afghanistan for 2024 and beyond.

Domani Spero

*Excuse me for saying – Frog-Humping Son of a Bitch!

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Insider Quote: Support Your Boss … “But my boss is a jerk!” Listen, Dammit!

Via State Magazine April 2012, from What Does it Take to Get Promoted Around Here (pdf)?

“Support your boss. “But my boss is a jerk!” That may be true, but this is about you getting promoted and the “jerk” is still the boss. If your boss lacks charisma, humility, a sense of humor and table manners, that is not so good. Being a jerk, however, is not a federal offense. You do not have to feign affection for your boss, but you do have to support the mission with vigor, which not incidentally makes the boss look good—perhaps in spite of him or herself.”

— Advice from the State Department Office of Civil Rights

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Photo of the Day: Ambassador “Volunteers” as Orange Member of The Wiggles

Below is Jeffrey L. Bleich, our Ambassador to Australia on his recent encounter at the Canberra Theater (via US Mission Australia/FB). If you got kids of a certain age, you will remember The Wiggles, and Dorothy, the purple dinosaur:

Ambassador Bleich with The Wiggles
(Photo from US Embassy Canberra/FB)

Ambassador Bleich: Today i got a brilliant opportunity to meet the Wiggles before their concert in Canberra. They are an amazing group and wonderful ambassadors both here and around the world. I noticed they didn’t have an orange member so i volunteered myself for that role! Fingers crossed.

Richard Hoskins Did you sing or dance?     April 4 at 11:25pm

Stephen Devine Dont give up the day job in the hope they call……     April 5 at 12:08am

Ambassador Bleich The Wiggles are brave, but they aren’t crazy. No parent wants to subject their child to my dancing.     April 10 at 5:08pm

Looks like they’re all having fun!

Domani Spero

 

 

Afghanistan SmackDown: El Snarkistani v. O’Hanlon, Unfuzzy Math and Creative No More Problemo

So we were watching Brooking’s Michael O’Hanlon on teevee one night talking about Afghanistan. These network folks should really invite our blog pal, El Snarkistani to talk about our pretend 51st state, because he talks more sense. But we were not disappointed because El Snarkistani later blogged about. Excerpt below:

I admit that I don’t know a whole lot about Michael E. O’Hanlon or Ian Livingston, but they wrote a piece for the New York Times: basically, things in Afghanistan are going just fine (By the way, Stephen Saideman did a short post on this. He raises some interesting questions.):

Here is what we know: Afghans are wealthier, healthier and better educated than ever before. Unquestionably, Afghan security forces are bigger and better. Despite the occasional spectacular attack, Kabul is relatively safe, accounting for less than 1 percent of violent episodes nationwide, thanks largely to the efforts of these troops. The security situation in the more dangerous south is also much improved, after two years of efforts by foreign and Afghan forces. The north and west are at least no longer deteriorating and collectively account for less than 10 percent of violence nationwide.

And now I know all I need to know about O’Hanlon/Livingston.

Oh, for those of you following along? This post is the one I talked about yesterday.

Allow me to retort, and I’m only going to limit myself to one line in that paragraph, as much as it physically pains me to do so.

Unquestionably, Afghan security forces are bigger and better.

That’s a great word: unquestionably. That means you have “facts” that are likely “irrefutable” which is another big word for “we are experts,” and can therefore “do math.”

That last shot across the bow will make sense shortly.

I’m not going to debate the quantity of ANSF. The force is definitely bigger: every year, there are more of them.

Better? No.

Then he went down the bottom of that dark bucket and looked at the bigger and better Afghan security forces. It turns out that “after nearly 10 years of ISAF intervention, and nearly two years of concerted effort by NATO Training Mission – Afghanistan (NTM-A) personnel, no unit at any level had achieved an “independent rating.” And he got the numbers and can do unfuzzy maths, too.

“So they changed the definition,” El Snarkistani writes.

They changed the definition of … Holy Mother of God and All Her Wacky Nephews! 

Via It’s All Sunny in Kabul: From page 43 of the 1230 report in October of 2011:

Prior to the spring campaign, IJC reviewed the definition of an Independent unit and concluded that the definition was too restrictive and would be difficult for any ANSF element to attain. As a result, IJC rewrote the definition of an Independent unit to reflect the reality that most ANSF force enablers will likely require long-term coalition assistance.

[…]

In a war that offers relatively few metrics by which to measure success, being run by an organization that shifts those metrics randomly to fit their message, it’s unusual to find solid numbers to demonstrate anything. In this case, it’s simple math.

The interwebs is hard.

I’m off to break the news to my wife: in honor of the genius that walks among us mere mortals, we’re naming our first child “O’Hanlon.” And he shall be great. And able to do the maths.

O’Hanlon El Snarkistani, tee-hee!  You really should read El Snarkistani’s stuff here and reader comment round 2 is here.

This reminds us of the large staffing gap at the State Department once, must have been during the tenure of Warren Christopher in the last century. (Yeah, I’m ancient, but no Botox!) Anyway, since it became a really bad problem, somebody decided to solve it surgically and quickly — by eliminating all the positions with a dash of a pen. So, no more staffing gap problem although the work still had to be done.

Eliminating the gap  and  redefinition are just a couple of tricks in your creative problem solving toolbox.  In some places, I bet that creative problem solving can get you a Superior Honor Award or if you are really, really lucky, even a Presidential Rank Award.

Anyway, El Snarkistani is not the only one who has issues with the notion that Afghanistan is fine.  “Mobutu Sese Seko”, the founder of the blog Et tu, Mr. Destructo has this piece, Winning the War Against Yesterday: Mike O’Hanlon’s Afghan Mad Libs with the following quip:

“What’s frustrating is how expected this all is. The Brookings Institution—still billed as the “left-wing” think tank by conservative media—is just as much a corporatized centrist disappointment as every other major Washington institution. It’s in the imperialism business: selling it, cheerleading it and then excusing it. (Just look at that donor list flush with arms contractors.)”

Now that’s enough to ruin your midnight snacks, isn’t it?

Domani Spero