McMaster Urges Another Afghan ‘Surge’

Exclusive: The failure to hold the Iraq War perpetrators accountable has led to false narratives about “successful surges” that never really succeeded — and now may allow the Afghan slaughter to escalate, reports James W Carden.

By James W Carden

Over the weekend, the New York Times reported that President Trump’s National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster will soon be proposing yet another troop increase in Afghanistan. According to the Times, “The White House shelved the deliberations over Afghanistan three weeks ago, after an initial Pentagon proposal to deploy up to 5,000 additional American troops ran into fierce resistance” from White House chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon and other advisers.

President Donald Trump announces the selection of Gen. H.R. McMaster as his new National Security Adviser on Feb. 20, 2017. (Screen shot from

But McMaster, reports the Times, is “undeterred” and “plans to bring the debate back to the front burner this coming week,” according to an anonymous U.S. official.

The current debate recalls the early days of the Obama administration when President Obama was basically railroaded by Secretary of Defense Bob Gates, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Generals David Petraeus and Stanley McChrystal into sending over 30,000 U.S. troops in an ill-fated “surge” that was advertised by its supporters as the answer to the Afghan quagmire. But the “surge,” rather than resulting in victory, produced a rash of “green on blue” attacks by our alleged Afghan allies upon U.S. troops.

It is worth recalling that the Afgha “surge” was a policy that was enthusiastically endorsed by the U.S. Establishment. As the editorial board of the New York Times wrote in May 2009: “We hope… that the president and his team have come up with a strategy that will combine aggressive counterinsurgency tactics with economic development.” Washington think tanks, such as the Center for a New American Security and the Brookings Institution, also lined up in support. Yet the results were abysmal: more U.S. troops died in Afghanistan under Obama than under George W. Bush. Overall, the war in Afghanistan, which is now in its 16th year, has taken the lives of over 31,000 Afghani civilians – and by some estimates perhaps10 times over – and over 3,500 members of the U.S.-led coalition at a cost of over $1 trillion.

But never mind this uncomfortable and tragic history. For the Times, what’s important is that Trump’s Defense Secretary James Mattis and H.R. McMaster “are steeped in counterinsurgency doctrine — the strategy that helped lead Mr. Obama to order a deployment of 30,000 troops to Afghanistan in 2009.” And judging by much of the literature and reportage on the decade-and-a-half-long war in Afghanistan, counterinsurgency doctrine (or COIN) has, despite zero success, never lost its luster inside the Beltway.

Bad Habits

When it comes to COIN, old habits die hard. The Brookings Institution’s Michael O’Hanlon, a stalwart supporter of counterinsurgency doctrine in Iraq and a cheerleader for the 2009 Afghan “surge,” is now calling for a “mini-surge” in Afghanistan. According to Hanlon, the war may not end anytime soon, “but maybe that’s okay, given how relatively modest in scale and risk the mission has become, and how modest it will remain even if President Trump adds several thousand more troops to the mix.“ [Emphasis mine].

David Petraeus, a two-star general during the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, with Lt. Gen. William S. Wallace.

“An increase of several thousand U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan,” says O’Hanlon, “has a sound logic behind it.”

The misplaced enthusiasm for sending evermore troops to Afghanistan is predicated in large part by an almost religious faith in counterinsurgency doctrine, which is often cited as the key to General David Petraeus’s (allegedly) “successful surge” in Iraq in 2007.

Yet as the historian and retired Army colonel Andrew Bacevich has pointed out, COIN has “enabled senior civilian and military officials to sustain the pretense of having reasserted a measure of control over a situation in which they have exercised next to none.”  [For why the “successful surge” myth has been so popular in Official Washington, click here.]

Having failed on its own terms, that is, to bring a measure of political stability to Iraq and Afghanistan, COIN’s proponents nevertheless persist. Indeed, counterinsurgency expert and former president of CNAS John Nagl was quoted in the Times asking “what is the alternative?” to McMaster’s proposed troop increase.

Actually, there are alternatives (there always are). It’s just that these tend not to have the institutional backing of Washington’s policy/think tank community which, because it is deeply compromised by its defense industry funders, rarely given them voice or consideration.

For example, Professors Stephen Walt and John J. Mearsheimer have proposed an eminently sensible strategy of “offshore balancing” which would forgo the use of U.S. ground forces and instead rely on an “over the horizon” force that would serve as a deterrent to the rise of potential regional hegemons while “eschewing social engineering and minimizing the United States’ military foot­print.”

According to Walt and Mearsheimer, the U.S. is currently committed to “spreading democracy in unfamiliar places, which sometimes requires military occupation and always involves interfering with local political arrangements.”

Fresh Thinking

The problem with this approach — which, as it happens, is the most serious objection to McMaster’s plan — is that ever greater number of  boots on the ground “invariably foster nationalist resentment.”

Army CH-47 Chinook helicopter pilots fly near Jalalabad, Afghanistan, April 5, 2017. (Army photo by Capt. Brian Harris)

“In addition to inspiring terrorists,” write Walt and Mearsheimer, “using regime change to spread American values undermines local institutions and creates ungoverned spaces where violent extremists can flourish.”

MIT’s Barry Posen has proposed a strategy along similar lines. In his 2014 book Restraint: A New Foundation for US Strategy, Posen correctly observes that U.S. objectives in Afghanistan are “probably unachievable.” After all, “despite much US and NATO instruction” Afghanistan’s “military, and police remain poorly trained, inadequately armed, sometimes corrupt, and only intermittently motivated.”

What to do? Send in more troops, as per Mattis and McMaster? No: the wisest course of action would be for the U.S. to moderate its goals, which, according to Posen, “means ratcheting down the US counterinsurgency, nation-building project in Afghanistan at the earliest possible time.”

As the latest iteration of the counterinsurgency debate kicks off this week, the time to consider serious alternatives to America’s current (and failed) strategy in Afghanistan is now.

James W Carden is a contributing writer for The Nation and editor of The American Committee for East-West Accord’s He previously served as an advisor on Russia to the Special Representative for Global Inter-governmental Affairs at the US State Department.

81 comments for “McMaster Urges Another Afghan ‘Surge’

  1. Bill Goldman
    June 9, 2017 at 12:06

    Another surge equates to Einstein’s definition of insanity. Study the casualty statistics. Then put the McMaster-Mattis doctrine in the coffins.

  2. June 8, 2017 at 14:44

    Why does Mr. Garden not mention the real reasons we went into Afghanistan: to control the Taliban who were stopping the construction of the CENTGAS Pipeline project, and the banksters needed to restart opium production. American Conservative website also had issues with the unending war in Afghanistan, but when I gave my opinion and backed up with a link to History Commons Pipeline Politics, the removed it. We live in an era of the neo Inquisition. Heretics are anyone not agreeing with official doctrine. Walt and Meirsheimer also wrote a fantastic book a few years ago called The Israel Lobby, and we’re treated as Heretics and shunned by media.

  3. June 8, 2017 at 09:31

    The notion that the U.S. National Security State is interested in “spreading American values” sounds a lot like “imperialism” doesn’t it? But actions speak louder than words and the actions of the Deep State have nothing to do with democracy but everything to do with feeding the maws of the insatiable National Security/Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex. The sad part of all this is that the Washington-based Empire, because it has unlimited funds, has allowed every form of idiocy and corruption to destroy the bureaucracy. It has become a headless monster without accountability (since the mainstream media is not interwoven with the National Security State) that has developed a virtual emergent intelligence that at least knows where the food is and seems to only have food as its objective, i.e., money to help it grow and reproduce. No one is in in charge and it allows no one to be in charge, no faction, no person, no office, no institution. All it know is how to eat. The “leaders” only point into the direction it must go–attack Iran, attack Russia, attack Syria, attack China, attack anyone–that is the only choice any President can make. Even if a POTUS wants to wind it down the best he can do is drag his feet as Obama did at times but stopping it is impossible because is will kill and destroy anything, including a POTUS that stands in its way. Until we arrive at that analysis there is no way to even begin to stop this monster.

  4. angryspittle
    June 7, 2017 at 19:24

    Jesus H. Christ on a skateboard smoking crack and shooting heroin…… is wrong with these assholes? Who will be the next General to oversee another failure? When will we begin to see that it is all futile? And stupid. and a waste of resources and men.

    • June 7, 2017 at 21:37

      When American generals come back from their obligatory ticket-punching tour in Afghanistan and start committing suicide like 20 enlisted men a day do now, then I’ll believe that the “decorated” assholes have seen and learned something of value from their experiences. Until then, our generals will simply publish one set of statistics showing the terrible condition of the country at the beginning of their tour followed by another set of statistics showing all the “progress” by the end of their tour. Then their replacement generals will repeat the procedure. Fifteen or seventeen generals and counting now. Same two sets of statistics. As they taught us in Economics 101 in college: “There are three kinds of lies: Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics.” In the U.S. military, of course, they may use the word “statistics,” but they really mean “body count,” even as they swear up and down that they don’t actually do that sort of lying anymore. Back in the now-defunct Republic of South Vietnam, military briefings went by the name of “The Five O’Clock Follies,” for no knowledgeable person believed one damn word that our genius generals said about their ability to fight an unnecessary war in an impossible place with two unwilling armies: the largely conscript South Vietnamese Army and the largely conscript American Army. As the enlisted cannon fodder used to say of their awful situation: “We are the unwilling, led by the unqualified, to do the unnecessary for the indifferent.” I see that little, if anything, has changed in all these many decades. American generals can’t even speak meaningfully of a “learning curve” when a flat line usually indicates a comatose patient with not even a trace of consciousness. As I wrote about Deputy Dubya Bush (as Commander-in-Brief) in my poem”Hanoi Haiku,” so too of our so-called military “leadership.”

      Where did we get them?
      How come we can’t do better?
      We look so stupid

      • angryspittle
        June 8, 2017 at 16:36

        It isn’t just a look……..we prove it by our actions.

      • mike k
        June 8, 2017 at 17:18

        Yes. Thank you.

  5. Mild-ly Facetious
    June 7, 2017 at 15:05

    So now the longed for assault on Iran, the punishment of Iran, knocks on the door of 21st century history in the Reshaping of Arab nations in the New American Century’s propagated structure of The New Middle East.

    — Turns out Mr. Trump is just another in the line of Useful Idiots in the drive for “Greater Israel” aka Ersatz Israel.
    Old Testament prophesies of a future Destruction of Arab and Persian Empires coagulate before our eyes under the Divide and Conquer tactic that plays itself out right now in the Middle East.
    Prevarication and Deception rule the day. — Deception and Prevarication Rule the day. “Fake News” reports tickle the ears of the ignorant (those who ignore histories) and the rah rah “patriots” believe everything the gov’t/media tells them.

    While Putin is a target, Assad is a target, Iran is a target, Isis is a target of our hatred and our nightmares — we seriously ought to be searching for the ACTUAL SOURCE of ALL THE DEATH AND DESTRUCTION (& propaganda) that is occurring in the world today.
    It’s certainly not the innocent multitudes of people dispassionately dying in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Yemen, Turkey, Egypt, Palestine — innocent women and children bombed out of peaceful lives into Instant Turmoil/death/relocation.

    All of you who stand by and approve of this 17 year ongoing of mayhem/murder and massacre of Innocents – may God have mercy on your souls.

    If war ensues on Iran, when the smoke clears and all the dead are piled into mass graves — you all will have Trump to thank & praise for the New World Order that you helped to establish.
    mild-ly fercicious
    May 22, 2017

    Simply stated, Trump is a national disaster and the hate Hillary crowd here are the equivalent of Jim Jones’ koolaid swallowers.
    Do they seriously imagine world peace under the dunderhead Trump?

    The Middle East is about to light-up from American made ordinance and Israeli fire power and Turkish military thugs aligned against Iran and other Shia States in the region.

    “The thief comes not but to steal, kill and destroy” —-
    That is essentially Trumps mission in his first (and hopefully last) foreign trip as POTUS.

    Where was the proposal for PEACE IN THE REGION anywhere in his 30 minute proclamation of WEAPONIZATION spoken to these Providing Protectors of Jihadists terrorists?

  6. Michael Kenny
    June 7, 2017 at 09:57

    The lesson of history is that a state party cannot win a guerilla war. The French learned it in Indo-China and Algeria, the US learned it in Vietnam by repeating the French mistake and has now made the same mistake, several times, in Iraq and Afghanistan. Britain learned it in a whole series of places. Putin is now learning it in Syria (to say nothing of Chechnya!). Once an insurgency gets going, and has a foreign backer to provide arms and money, the only way to stop it is to give in to the political demands of the insurgents. In Northern Ireland, the British were forced to give the IRA everything they wanted short of purely formal sovereignty, which they’re in the process of getting anyway through the ordinary workings of demography. If a insurgency has no foreign backer, the fighting will ultimately peter out, but the resentment will remain and will flare up again later (read the history of Ireland!). Trump needs a war to validate his presidency but a guerilla war will simply dig him deeper into the quagmire. To “win” Trump needs to be the foreign backer of an insurgency against another state party, not the state party trying to fight the insurgents. Syria.

    • BannanaBoat
      June 8, 2017 at 16:56

      Russia diminished Da-esh territory by 50% inside a year. The USA is now bombing regular Syrian troops to assist Da-esh and other terrorists. So Russia is not only fighting terrorists but has to stratigize how to defeat terrorists and USA force military aggression without initiating WW3

  7. TellTheTruth-2
    June 7, 2017 at 09:52

    Bush Jr’s # 1 job after 911 was to get his daddy’s heroin replanted in Afghanistan before winter. Mission accomplished by the CIA who helped the Northern Alliance defeat the Taliban before the regular US Army showed up. And for a while the Bush/Clinton Crime Family controlled things; but, apparently the Clinton Crime Family was getting too strong so the Bush Crime Family is re-asserting itself and McMaster wants to protect the Bush Crime Families’ heroin.

  8. June 7, 2017 at 06:37

    Interesting too that the reported push back against The Surge is coming from Steve Bannon, the populist hated by the Washington elite consensus. As ever, the (neo) “liberal” mainstream propaganda outlets (NYT and WaPo) are gung ho for expanding foreign wars. Sickeningly, these so-called liberals self-righteously wage “Humanitarian(tm) wars,” a kind of updated SJW version of “white man’s burden.” I contend this still amounts to nothing more than hypocritical virtue signaling, with the real motives combinations of profit-seeking combined with ideological ends to be achieved by imperial force. What’s the use of ideologues inheriting the greatest military power the world has ever seen, if it can’t be used to hurry along narcissistic desires for how the world should be remade through violence in your own cracked image?

  9. June 7, 2017 at 06:19

    “According to Walt and Mearsheimer, the U.S. is currently committed to ‘spreading democracy in unfamiliar places, which sometimes requires military occupation and always involves interfering with local political arrangements.’”

    The propaganda narrative to a purposefully distracted and inattentive U.S. public may be the fig leaf of commitment to “spreading democracy” but the reality is the complete opposite – complete severance of accountability to the local people, while propping up a satrapy puppet government which will never be sustained except through permanent occupation and endless violent conflict.

    That benefits some faraway elite U.S. interests, so they may find a status quo like that an acceptable cost to be paid by both the Afghans in lives and the U.S. public through declining living standards. The negative moral calculus is destructive to civil society and undermines community everywhere in favor of narrow corporate financial interests, creating a domestic economy ever more dependent upon the expanding business of war.

  10. Acomfort Smith
    June 6, 2017 at 19:26

    In the old days we had reinforcements, now we have surges.

  11. acomfort
    June 6, 2017 at 19:25

    We how have surges. . . . In the old days we had reinforcements.

  12. June 6, 2017 at 19:06

    Now as the yeart 2017 reaches its halfway point, a third U.S. president takes up the failed and flailing enterprise in Afghanistan (now approachng its sixteenth year) I remember long ago when only four years of cosmic military stupidity seemed like forever. And to think that Deputy Dubya Bush’s invasion of Afghanistan had only one purpose: namely, getting a war started — any war, anywhere — just so that the U.S. military could then switch on the “big prize” war in Iraq. “More targets,” as Secretary of War Donald Rumsfeld indelicately put his case for more chaos and carnage courtesy of his own deranged department. Now Afghanistan and Iraq lie in ruins: not just ungovernable, but uninhabitable. Vietnam II and Vietnam III with even more Vietnams (Libya, Yemen, Somalia, and Syria) on the way.

    With my own experiences in Southeast Asia always fresh in mind, I first wrote this poem in April of 2007 when it became clear that the mal-administration of Chancellor Dick Cheney and Deputy Dubya Bush had concocted a public relations neologism for Vietnam-era “incremental escalation,” or “mission creep,” or “slow ramping,” or “desperate reinforcements,” calling the deliberately designed misnomer: “The Surge.” The supine American corporate media avidly bought the duplicitous linguistic dodge and America proceeded to suffer more dead soldiers in the coming year of “surging” than it had in any of the previous four years of not-surging. “Violence has decreased,” the headlines continued to read. Lies. Nothing but lies.

    Anyway, the updated (2008) and outdated (2017) version of …

    Escalating Sacrifice
    (in the Gaelic Bardic verse style)

    “Slow-ramp,” “peak,” and “spike,” and “surge ”
    Sell the urge to escalate
    Great Success just needs more stuff
    Not enough has worked to date

    Keep repeating what has failed:
    Plan derailed by what it lacks
    Just deny the evidence
    Talk in senseless Duckspeak quacks

    If at first you don’t succeed
    Pay no heed to reasons why
    Keep on doing what you did
    Count on kidding those who die

    Keep on getting what you’ve got
    One more blot of reddish hue
    Like the sunset-staining clouds,
    Bloody shrouds, and corpses, too

    Toss the dice in reckless glee
    Play for free with others’ stash
    Then demand a subsidy
    One last spree to burn some cash

    Someone else will save the day
    You just pray for time to stall
    Later when we all have died
    Your vain pride will seem so small

    Unforced errors in a game
    With no name or published rules
    Made-up reasons for some wars
    Work for whores and pimps and tools

    Focus-group some soothing noise
    Salesmen’s toys to wrap and shrink
    Alice plays the willing chump
    Humpty Dumpty knows to think

    Anything to drag the feet
    Win the treat through tricks enhanced
    Races into journeys morph
    Backwards Orpheus has glanced

    Who is master? Who is slave?
    Whose cold grave contains the price?
    Wooden-headed stumblebum
    Wants more human sacrifice

    Missions into quagmires creep
    Fast asleep, the folks back home:
    Trained to cringe at any slur;
    Mumbling, “sir;” saluting Rome

    Any ruse to dodge the fates
    Dante’s gates inscribed with gloom
    “Enter here! Abandon hope!”
    Learn to cope with your own doom

    Right around the corner you’ll
    Find a fool with time to kill
    Turning one more corner ’round
    Which he’s found another still

    In a circle now we go
    Never noticing the pain
    “Leaders” at us clichés hurl
    As we swirl on down the drain

    Just how stupid do we look?
    Why have lying gamblers scored?
    How can they keep stealing while
    We keep smiling, mute and bored?

    “Just another century!”
    Cheer the senile John McCains
    Where our soldier plants his boot
    There, the loot with us remains

    Pity poor Prince Dubya’s load
    Praise his goad to “Bring ‘em on!”
    Consequences of his jest
    Laid to rest beneath the lawn

    Vast, the vacuum in his head
    Brain cells dead from lack of use
    Sheriff Cheney’s deputy
    Shills his free-lunch-war abuse

    Five long years without a plan
    Still the man-boy says he wants
    More, so he procrastinates
    “No set dates,” he stalls and taunts

    Waiting to unload the mess,
    Ever stressing things not done
    Escalating years and cost:
    Life has lost and Death has won

    Michael Murry, “The Misfortune Teller,” Copyright 2008

    • backwardsevolution
      June 7, 2017 at 00:16

      Michael Murry – that was sure well done! Thank you for posting your excellent work.

      • June 7, 2017 at 06:13

        Thank you for the kind words. I spent over a decade trying to put Vietnam back in its grave after Bush and Cheney (followed by Barack Obama) dug up the undead beast and set it loose in the Middle East to haunt me all over again. Writing verse gave me something to do with the helpless rage. It didn’t change anything, but I feel better now.

        • backwardsevolution
          June 7, 2017 at 15:27

          Michael Murry – writing is one of the best ways to release our pent-up feelings. You spill your guts on the page, get it out. It brings us to an inner understanding of what happened and why. Then if you can share your thoughts on sites like this, all the better. You find like people who feel the same way, it opens your world. Good for you, Michael. Keep writing.

    • Mild-ly Facetious
      June 7, 2017 at 15:38

      Michael Murry,

      I appreciate you. – Thank You for this work.

  13. SteveK9
    June 6, 2017 at 17:56

    Here is an even more radical alternative … make a deal with the Taliban, to not permit any more Arab Salafist terrorists to use its territory, and …. leave. An option we could have exercised 16 years ago.

  14. rosemerry
    June 6, 2017 at 16:33

    How can anyone pretend that the USA is spreading democracy anywhere? It does not even have it in the Homeland,though it blames others for its election results, and does its best to destroy it in any country that dares to be independent. Look at Iran, Syria, Libya, Venezuela, Honduras as examples.

  15. W. R. Knight
    June 6, 2017 at 13:55

    How about a surge up McMaster’s you-know-what? Followed by another up Trump’s.

  16. Michael K Rohde
    June 6, 2017 at 13:51

    Is this the neo-cons at work again? I can’t think of another group of people outside of the CEO’s office where total failure and ineffectiveness are rewarded with more time and recognition to be more wrong. I know, that’s a loaded sentence. The neo-cons are obsessed with that part of the world in general and more particularly, with any country that could possibly at any time in the next century or so become a problem for Israel to manage to their satisfaction. How they gravitated to Afghanistan is unclear except perhaps they perceive any peoples in the Middle East or Western Asia that are at odds with some of her Arab enemies to be potential friends of Israel. Do they want us to maintain a combat presence that can be quickly redeployed for their purposes? Islam in general condemns the occupation so is this just an acknowledgment of Muslim solidarity as potential enemies?

    Any number of reasons could be given and none of them justify more American blood and treasure in that sad place where no invader has ever succeeded in modern times. Of course that did not deter us in Vietnam because there was new combat equipment and doctrine to test and prove to the Joint Chiefs satisfaction and that couldn’t happen without a full fledged deployment and engagement with the enemy. I don’t know where McMaster and his gang sit in this counter-insurgency world of theory and practice. We have never successfully employed the doctrine to a logical victory in any theater yet it is still the heart of our strategy in all of these locales where central authority is weak and difficult to manage. Our projections have been wrong in every engagement and always ended up needing more boots on the ground to effect the strategy for a greater length of time.

    Look at Iraq after we spent over a trillion dollars in that sad state which was a modern sectarian state before we invaded the second time. It is a modern version of a failed state where the central governments’ reach is limited by armed groups which openly oppose it with modern weapons and an almost limitless supply of angry young men who have watched their relatives die in friendly fire incidents or what the generals like to call “collateral damage”, that magical phrase that when muttered exonerates them from the guaranteed killing of innocents that occurs when they deploy these “smart weapons” which always end up hurting more people than we intend to, and not always getting all the “targets” mixed in with the innocents. The 31000 dead estimate is no doubt exponentially low and provided multiple war lords with willing and able bodies to throw at the infidels in their presence who need to be thrown out of sacred Muslim territory. The Afghans have never failed in expelling the invaders eventually. We might choose the date and time to leave but the reality is we will be leaving losers and behind us will be another failed state with multiple militias armed to the teeth with modern weapons we gave them or our “allies” had taken from them or willingly gave to them. We are never sure.

    Given these facts on the ground, we have no sane alternative to attempting to stabilize the areas we find ourselves in right now and try to take as many weapons off the battle field as possible on our way out of the country. Afghanistan is another of our imperial moves that blew up in our face. Nation-building requires time and patience which we do not possess in abundance when it comes to casualties. In effect we failed the day the first boots were on the ground, it was just a matter of how long it would take us to admit it.

    The first special forces hit the ground shortly after 9/11 and we’ve been there ever since at some force level now for about 16 years. What do we have for all that effort and dead Army and Marine fighters? A huge debt because we didn’t raise the revenue to pay for it. That would inconvenience the 1% who have seized control of our political parties and thus, our government. Apparently enough of them are making money on it to keep it going. Our American “exceptionalism” keeps us from admitting our error to the electorate and coming home. It would also end some great paying gigs for these extraordinary thinkers in conservative think tanks that philosophize about how we will take over Asia now that the Soviet menace has been vanquished and who we should install as CEO in the Arab and Muslim countries we are going to effect regime change in in the near future. So there’s plenty of energy pushing us to stay longer and almost none to wise up and come home. That means a longer exit, more lives and money. The neo-cons apparently believe we have unlimited supplies of both. I thought McMaster might be different in that he has watched enough Marines die that he would act because Marine generals never lose the urge to take care of their combat forces. D.C. cured him of that duty to his conscience.

    So write your representative and senators and tell them to bring our kids home before they come home in a box. We tried and failed. No shame in that unless you drag out the response to allow more death and injury to your young before you bring them back. It is past time. We owe it to our youth and to the peoples in that part of the world we have abused since WWII to effect our political and military goals without regard to their futures. Every day we don’t come home just creates a bigger stain on our history.

    • June 7, 2017 at 14:06


      As I said previously. Watch the movie War Machine with Brad Pitt.

  17. June 6, 2017 at 12:13

    I advise all to see the Brad Pit movie ” War Machine”. It gives a really good over view of the American Military efforts in Afghanistan. Good for a laugh or two.

  18. June 6, 2017 at 11:43

    In Afghanistan the poppies grow and people make lots of money, don’t you know? 16 years and little progress sounds like a good reason to cut bait and withdraw. Of course people do make fortunes in war. I can’t decide if these men and women are idiots or if they are simply caught in an American Trap” which would be rather ironic. If the Afghanis really are that hard to train after 16 years, how are they to be “democratized”?

    • Joe Tedesky
      June 6, 2017 at 11:58

      The way I see it Charles, is we in the U.S. are always centering our debate around the lame excuses for why we are bogged down in Afghanistan. Wouldn’t you agree Charles, that if our conversations were instead squarely put on those poppy seed growers, and our country’s desire to extract Afghanistan’s wealth of natural resources, then these would be better topics to base our debate on. Instead, via our MSM and our Washington group think frame of mind, we Americans being the good guys and gals that we are, are spreading democracy so as uncivilized people may benefit, don’t ya know? I personally don’t wish to be involved in a scheme such as what our U.S. Government successfully accomplished against stealing land and resources away from the Native-American. This American characteristic is what is most needed to change, and you don’t need to go to Afghanistan to begin the reformation required. Good comment Charles. Joe

  19. Danny Weil
    June 6, 2017 at 11:36

    Afghan is the graveyard for Empires nd America will be no different.

  20. Polly Ester
    June 6, 2017 at 11:34

    “Actually, there are alternatives (there always are). It’s just that these tend not to have the institutional backing of Washington’s policy/think tank community which, because it is deeply compromised by its defense industry funders, rarely given them voice or consideration.”

    Well, that says it all.

  21. exiled off mainstreet
    June 6, 2017 at 10:33

    It looks to me like the new policy is doubling down on a busted flush. The longer it goes on, the worse the end will be.

  22. Brad Owen
    June 6, 2017 at 09:18

    Was a referendum submitted to the citizens to see if we even think we should be “spreading democracy” anywhere but here? In fact, most folks recognize our own democracy is in deep crisis and in “Deep State” hands. This putsch was started under clueless Truman in the post-war forties, and was a sealed deal by the time of Cheney’s administration (nominally under W’s presidency). And all along the way, post-WWII, we’ve shown more interest in setting up dictatorships in service to Wall Street’s investment portfolio interests (whom FDR quite accurately called Economic Royalists, whose hatred of him was welcomed by him); a COMPLETE turn-about from where FDR wanted to go, post-war. Thankfully, China and BRICS have taken up the Baton that fell from FDR’s dead hand, in pursuing the Belt & Road Initiative.

  23. Joe Tedesky
    June 6, 2017 at 08:08

    God rest Michael Hastings soul.

    Jun 18, 2013 – Michael Hastings, the fearless journalist whose reporting brought down the career of General Stanley McChrystal, has died in a car accident in Los Angeles. He was 33.

    • June 6, 2017 at 12:23

      DARPA developed technology controls brakes, speed and steering ( on a self parking Mercedes) plus Michael feared a bomb under his car and unsuccessfully asked to borrow his neighbors Volvo the day before his assassination. Some say bomb explains the sheet over engine compartment rather than driver’s area.

      • Joe Tedesky
        June 6, 2017 at 13:29

        Thanks for joining in. Wasn’t there some information regarding remote driving cars disclosed in the Vault 7 releases? Also I seem to recall Richard Clark saying how our government has this technology. Take care bannanaboat ….Joe

        • BannanaBoat
          June 8, 2017 at 16:46

          YouTube has/had a DARPA phd explain that DARPA can control vehicles through Bluetooth, Cell Phone and even undectablely doctored CD’s.

    • rosemerry
      June 6, 2017 at 16:39

      Notice that there was never an investigation of this “accident” in a new Mercedes which is designed NOT to catch fire.

      • backwardsevolution
        June 6, 2017 at 21:33

        rosemerry – a robbery for Seth Rich, and an accident for Michael Hastings (who friends said never sped).

        • BannanaBoat
          June 8, 2017 at 16:47

          Shawn Lucas the DNC process server.

  24. Sleepless In Mars
    June 6, 2017 at 05:03

    If you don’t spend more on diplomacy, you’ll be spending more on bullets.

    “Imagine – you’re a child again. Filled with innocence, and wonder, and life. Remember how good it felt? That’s what the parasites stole from us. They bled us dry. And like sheep we lined up to give more blood. But we can have back all that they stole, and more. The information age provides a spotlight the parasites can’t squirm away from. Identify them. Negate their evil. Ostracize them. Step with me into a better world.”

    Source: “Metamorphosis” (part four), Anarky (vol.1) #4, August 1997; by Alan Grant.

    They’re stressing us like Edith and Archie. It’s a family affair.

  25. jwc
    June 6, 2017 at 04:51

    And who are you exactly, dear? I’m guessing you’re a frustrated former FSO or Intel officer who wants to be a writer, can’t, but tries awfully hard to crap on other people’s work. Get a life.

    • June 6, 2017 at 10:00

      Afghan is the correct and respectful appellation.

  26. June 5, 2017 at 21:12

    Every time I hear another U.S. general use the word “surge” I think of that old joke about the basketball player who dribbled before he shot.

    • Gregory Herr
      June 6, 2017 at 00:21

      And Afghanistan gets more messed up.

      • June 6, 2017 at 03:11

        As our genius generals said back in Southeast Asia when each mission-creep troop escalation only led to more mission-creep troop escalations: “But our friends won’t respect us and our enemies won’t fear us if we stop acting so bloody stupid and just leave.” This sort of timeless buck-passing by the U.S. military assumes, of course, that our friends respect our stupidity and that our enemies fear it, precisely the opposite of how friends and enemies actually think. But you know the old song: “Military intelligence is to intelligence as military music is to music.” I once repeated this bit of ancient wisdom to a retired U.S. Army colonel who runs his own blog and he banned me from further comments. I thought about asking him: “What do you have against military music?” but then I figured that he probably wouldn’t get the joke.

  27. John Sadler
    June 5, 2017 at 20:51

    Sardonic observation by a French colleague as we endured CNN drivel around Trumps travel ban on Muslims … ” he should put a travel ban on the American army “

  28. June 5, 2017 at 18:50

    Interesting post, F.G., as you always have. Funny, his name is Mc”Master”. The elephants he has are pink, of the same old delusion all neocons entertain in the worms of their brains. Maybe McMaster is doing this in honor of Brzezinski.

    • Taras77
      June 5, 2017 at 21:32

      -or maybe listening to petraeus. My understanding is that mcmaster and petraeus are close and are still working together.

  29. F. G. Sanford
    June 5, 2017 at 18:30

    My ancient Greek history is pretty rusty, but so is the ancient Greek history the historians quote. Probably the most readable account of Alexander the Great’s campaigns was written by Flavius Arrianus Xenophon, better known as “Arrian”. He wrote his account something like three hundred years after Alexander died, so it’s anybody’s guess how accurate his recollections may be.

    I mention this because, as conventional wisdom has it, “Afghanistan is the graveyard of empires”…but Alexander was smart enough to “not get involved”. That isn’t quite true. It isn’t quite true that Russia was defeated there either, but I digress. Alexander did establish Greek cities there which persisted several hundred years.

    It’s difficult to sort out what modern names correspond to historical Greek places, and I frankly lack the motivation to go back and relearn things I studied more than forty years ago. But Alexander did conquer what I believe was then called Bactria, near what is today called the Khyber Pass. It was populated by the Arachotians. When Alexander arrived, it was under the control of a Persian general named Bessus, an underling of King Darius, who was Alexander’s nemesis.

    The Persians were also interlopers, and apparently had only tenuous control over the region. With only a million infantry soldiers and forty thousand cavalry, Alexander determined that Bessus was a formidable – but not an invincible foe. Alexander did eventually defeat him, but apparently only retained strategic control of portions of Afghanistan which were important to commerce.

    Can McMaster retake the initiative with a surge? Well, it’s like that old saying. “With enough horsepower, you can make a barn door fly.” The question is: Where will he get a million infantry and forty thousand cavalry? And, don’t forget. Bessus had some elephants, too.

    • evelync
      June 5, 2017 at 19:37

      Thanks for the history lesson. I am soooo discouraged by these endless wars and the regime change hubris.

      The people in the region and also our soldiers did not deserve this fate (which also makes us and the rest of the world less safe).

      I don;t believe a thing they say wrt why they must continue to follow this course. It’s madness.

      • Danny Weil
        June 6, 2017 at 11:38

        Arms sales and drug sales. 90% of all heroin comes out of Afghanistan. the Taliban almost eradicated the problem, but the profits are just to high and are needed for off the book wars.

        • evelync
          June 6, 2017 at 16:56

          The whistle blowers are all we have to address these secretive underground “official washington” operations.
          And these heroes take the heat for doing the right thing.

    • June 6, 2017 at 06:56

      Crowding more enlisted U.S. targets into the shooting gallery of Afghanisan only results in more enisted targets killed and wounded while on patrol guarding those heroin-producing poppy fields for the boy-buggering Afghan warlords whose “ghost armies” keep showing up on paper for payment by the U.S. taxpayer but not so often on anything resembling a battlefield. But, hey, our U.S. generals need that sorry-ass imperial satrap to guarantee another ticket-punching boost up the career greasy pole to their ultimate level of incompetence — Parkinson’s Law and the Peter Principle personified. As Admiral Lord Nelson said when reading a roster of his officers before a major battle: “I can only hope that when the enemy reads a list of their names, that he trembles as I do.” Petraeus? Mattis? McMaster? Way past time to start trembling, fellow Crimestoppers.

    • June 6, 2017 at 12:17

      Khandahar (Alexander) is one city. Bactria is located also in north and above Afghanistan. There’s a large format book picturing exquisite Bactrian jewelry, rivaling ancient Egyptian jewelry. Soviets excavated three royal burials which yielded a ton or more of gold and they together with the Afghans deceived the world by claiming it was transferred to Russian when it was in fact hidden in a Kabul bank vault throughout much of the so far 50 year war

  30. June 5, 2017 at 18:17

    I was just thinking what jo6pac said, it’s the opium!

    • June 6, 2017 at 12:05

      And TAPI pipeline which CalCo (Rumsfeld associated) wished to build and three weeks after the Taliban gave the contract to Argentina the USA invaded Afghanistan.

  31. Bill Bodden
    June 5, 2017 at 17:59

    I’m very much in favor of a surge in Afghanistan. One with Michael O’Hanlon, Bill Kristol and their neocon friends at the Center for a New American Security and the Brookings Institution leading the charge with their Gucci’s on the ground.

    • Zachary Smith
      June 5, 2017 at 18:43

      We need a commander for the surge. I nominate General H. R. McMaster. He can live in an un-airconditioned tent near the front lines so as to properly keep in touch with his men. He stays in Afghanistan as long as his troops are there.

      • Michael K Rohde
        June 6, 2017 at 14:08

        I like your logic. Along that line if you are old enough to remember Vietnam, an amazing thing happened when the draft law was changed to a lottery that the children of the wealthy could no longer avoid. When they started being drafted the shooting stopped shortly thereafter. The treaty didn’t get us out until April 75 as the NVA tanks rolled into Saigon. But the shooting had effectively stopped for us at the end of the Easter invasion in 1972 and I believe it was no coincidence that the well heeled young draftees who had successfully avoided service to that point would have actually been involved because the first batch had completed training and were ready to be deployed. They were willing to sacrifice your or my sons but not their own. So maybe draft a few of these young princes in the making and send them and viola, the shooting stops. I know, that is a foolish argument that happened to be true 50 years ago but not today. I believe it still applies. Draft em and send em. See what happens.

  32. Bill Bodden
    June 5, 2017 at 17:51

    But never mind this uncomfortable and tragic history. For the Times, what’s important is that Trump’s Defense Secretary James Mattis and H.R. McMaster “are steeped in counterinsurgency doctrine — the strategy that helped lead Mr. Obama to order a deployment of 30,000 troops to Afghanistan in 2009.” And judging by much of the literature and reportage on the decade-and-a-half-long war in Afghanistan, counterinsurgency doctrine (or COIN) has, despite zero success, never lost its luster inside the Beltway.

    What was it that Einstein said about doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result?

    • June 6, 2017 at 11:59

      The USA became violently involved in Afghanistan beginning in the 1970’s, when the USA supported the landlords and fundamentalists violently opposing the land reforming and women empowering socialist Afghan government. Karzai and the Taliban repeatedly attempted a peace which the USA consistently refused. This war of freedom has been waged by the Afghans for 50 years.

  33. jo6pac
    June 5, 2017 at 17:29

    More troops to protect the cia poppy fields.

    The above plan should work well because look at how well it worked in Iraqi.

    Pull all troops out and any Amerikan govt. employees out along with ngos.

    • mike k
      June 5, 2017 at 18:14

      How about slashing the military budget, shutting down our overseas bases, withdrawing from NATO, joining The United Nations and working for world peace? Who says there is no alternative to making more war? How long are people going to buy this Orwellian idea that we can wage wars to insure peace? The real answers to our worst problems are in the direction of NOT DOING. Just stop doing the things that are wrecking our world. No new technology or complex breakthroughs required.

      The crazy idea that we can just keep on doing, doing, doing everything wrong, and somehow (luck, divine intervention?) end up getting better results is a patent falsehood. Let go, stop it, drop it, back off. Our problems result from doing so many stupid, wrong things. Things that will never result in better results, no matter how much we tinker with them, upgrade them etc. When you are going in the wrong direction, going faster is not the answer.

      • MA
        June 6, 2017 at 05:04

        They are producing “better results” for those who are actually behind all this mayhem – securing the Realm.

      • chris moffatt
        June 6, 2017 at 09:53

        Well, we’re always told that we have to “fight them over there so we don’t have to fight them over here”. My take on that is forget over there let’s fight them over here where we have all the advantage, including a native population that looks like the troops.

        On the matter of this new surge proposal; one of the attributes of D Trump that was so ballyhooed last year is his great experience as a business man. So let’s see a businesslike approach for a change. How about a plan that covers start to exit with timelines and costs and exit points all the way along in case of unforeseen contingencies. Let’s know what we’re getting into before we get in. Let’s also see what are the other projects competing for these resources and their relative importance and values before deciding on this one..

      • Rob Roy
        June 6, 2017 at 15:06

        Mike k, you are so right.

        It reminds me of a sign on a wall somewhere: “The beatings will continue until morale improves.”

      • Realist
        June 6, 2017 at 18:15

        The madness never ceases. Mike, before they shut the war machine down for lack of funding, resources and personnel, they will be passing the hat in church, rationing raw materials and recruiting your kids on graduation from high school. Your problem is you’ve lived too long, seen too much, and no longer buy into the bullshit of bully-boy control freaks like Mattis. Part of Trump’s problem is he basically chose all these generals to hide behind when the Deep State opposition turned against him.

        These bastards will ultimately destroy human civilisation and all life on the planet simply to exert their will. There are no genuine principles they are defending. They simply seek to expand their own power over the rest of us. The American and European peoples are not going to buck them. Unlike the folks living rough in the Middle East, we have too many creature comforts we do not want to lose by confronting the power of the U.S. military. Your friends and neighbors have no desire to be “rendered” to some prison in Poland run by the CIA because they can see the injustice our government is raining down on hapless Muslims (and many Christians) half a world away. Most Americans will continue looking the other way, and even facilely joining in on the two-minute hates ginned up by the media.

        • Realist
          June 6, 2017 at 18:20

          Whoops! I meant McMaster, not Mattis. But really, little difference between ’em.

      • Eileen Kuch
        June 7, 2017 at 15:03

        Mike, you hit the proverbial nail right on the head, and I second the motion. The military budget must be cut, shutting down all overseas bases, and also, we must quit NATO (which has been an anachronism since 1990) and join Russia and China and their Silk Road project. I agree with your question of how long will people buy this Orwellian idea we can wage wars to insure peace? Truth is, we can never wage aggressive wars to ensure peace. The terrorist acts in London and other European cities is evidence of that.
        The definition of insanity is doing the same stupid things over and over and expecting different results. The two previous administrations proved that right, by repeating the same stupid actions over and over .. And now, H. W. McMaster, Donald Trump’s latest National Security Adviser, wants to repeat the insane actions of the Bush 2 and Obama Administrations, with regard to Afghanistan. None of these people have ever learned from history when it comes to Afghanistan .. which, btw, has NEVER been actually conquered. Its terrain is far too inhospitable and the various tribes who inhabit the region have never been defeated. They’re the best and fiercest guerrilla warriors and have driven out foreign invaders for centuries.
        My advice for President Trump and his delusional National Security Adviser is to pull out of Afghanistan and let the Afghans sort it out.

    • evelync
      June 5, 2017 at 18:49

      yeah, while his sister destroys American Education as the so called secretary of education.

      For profit schools, for profit wars, for profit prisons. Preying on the public purse.

      As they pretend they are for unfettered capitalism when in reality they just suck on the public teat.

      • akech
        June 6, 2017 at 19:11

        Eric Prince’s sister is not destroying education; she is merely paving way for the brainwashing of young Americans and preparing them for future recruitment into her brother’s private army.

        Many charter schools in USA are operated by this controversial Turkish figure, Fethullah Gulen, who was accused of staging an attempted coup in Turkey last July. It is also reported that ISIS fighters are recruited by the Gulen organization, which operates worldwide.

        Is it merely a coincidence that these US government funded charters school are operating in poor neighborhoods where public education have failed the young people? Additionally, one of General Mike Flynn problems is associated with some discussion of the extradition of Gulen (who lives in Pennsylvania) back to Turkey to face the attempted coup charges!

        It is hard to understand the rationale behind allowing an organization associate with a guy like this to have an input in educating American kids!

        • Irene
          June 7, 2017 at 05:47

          We seriously considered Harmony schools for our kid and we don’t live in a poor neighborhood. The fact of the matter is, they are well respected schools that provide much needed discipline. The teachers are kind, dedicated and intelligent, unlike what my kid experienced in public school. We decided against Harmony schools because they didn’t have much of a playground or phys ed program, something they have since amended. They have a long waitlist of mostly Asian families and have a lottery to determine which lucky kids gain admission. Treat the smear campaign of Gulen with the same scepticism as the Russia interfered with our election story. Turkey, like ISIS, US, Israel and Saudi Arabia is trying to destroy Syria. Turkey was likely behind the 2013 gas attacks. Why would you believe anything the Turkish government had to say?

    • June 6, 2017 at 07:29

      Thats right how do you think they fund all this stuff. Vietnam was the same heroin and more heroin and during the Reagan years it was cocaine. Gee people have short term memory. Iran Contra affair . Oliver North took the bullet for the deep state. Then again their is always plausible deniability. Which I might add was a great invention by pax-amaericana and all their vessels from Uk to France. Malawi Frances plausible deniability.

    • Brad Owen
      June 6, 2017 at 07:57

      The CIA was contracted by MI6 to tend the poppies for the Queen…the Crown, via East India Company, has been in the opium trade since the 1790’s. Been so lucrative that they farmed out their slave trade to Spain and Portugal, allowing them to save face by banning slavery. They fought their Opium Wars against China because China tried to say “no thanks” to their opium products. So now, since Cecil Rhodes RoundTable Group succeeded in their long-term objective to re-take the American colony and make it serve the Empire (now a joint project of the Trans-Atlantic Community); yeah, the CIA (set up by MI6 in the post-war forties, with the help of American Tory Royalists infesting Wall Street) tends the poppy fields.

      • Danny Weil
        June 6, 2017 at 11:42

        Americans must understand that the US has been one of the biggest traffickers of drugs if not the biggest. During the late 1700’s and through the 1800’s the wealthy families of America, like the Forbes family which John Kerry was birthed from, engaged in sales of Opium to the Chinese on behalf of England who at times could not tend to the trafficking due to wars or politics. These American families became insanely rich off the drug dealing.

        In Vietnam, Santo Trafficante, the Florida Don for the Mafia, controlled all the heroin processing plants in Vietnam. 33% of the US troops came back hooked.

        Heroin lined streets in the US are a result of the current ‘drug enabling war’ whereby the US protects poppy fields under the auspice of the ‘war on terror’. This and the oil pipeline are why we still remain and a surge means a surge in deaths, drug trafficking, drug use and of course death.

        • Brad Owen
          June 6, 2017 at 12:43

          American Tories never went away. They just “retired to private life” and carried on whoring for Empire and the Crown, getting even wealthier in the process. Ever hear of the Essex County Junto?…Tory bastards. Check it out on the EIR search box.

        • Brad Owen
          June 6, 2017 at 13:32

          Also, on Executive Intelligence Review (EIR), type into their search box “helmand province” and “al-yamamah” for some interesting reading. This where MI6 and their “five eyes” partners get their funds for World-wide terrorist operations; probably more accurate to call it “asymetrical warfare”, in service to the Synarchist Empire project. Check out “return of the Monarchs” too, in EIR’s search box.

        • Brad Owen
          June 6, 2017 at 13:47

          Finally, to complete the picture; type into EIR’s search box “synarchism against America”, and then google “Pence and Dominionism”. I suspect Pence will be all down and jiggy with the Synarchists’ Holy Roman Empire project, as talked about in “Return of the Monarchs”. Pence may be a dark horse candidate for getting shoe-horned into the White House without bothering to stand for election. All hail President Pence, let Armageddon now commence.

        • June 8, 2017 at 14:56

          All true, almost every community in the USA is being devastated by heroin use, if not direct overdose deaths, then all the crimes and lack of production and civility that comes with fatal addictions. This heroin is coming into USA via US CIA and military flights just like Air America in the Vietnam years and the Barry Seals Iran/Contra drug smuggling scandal, only then it was cocaine.

    • Sam F
      June 6, 2017 at 13:17

      The US of course set the trap for the USSR in Afghanistan by building up AlQaeda under OBL to destroy the secular government there, and give the USSR its own Vietnam. Afghanistan would have made far more social and economic progress under a secular ideology of progress, and would have shed the communism restrictions soon enough if not in 1989. So it was a mass murder by the Brezinski tyrants, intended to destabilize the region and plague Iran, which the US had already subjected to decades of tyranny before their 1979 revolution.

      The US militarists showed their extreme folly in walking into their own insurgency trap after 9/11, and their complete ignorance of the graveyard of empires where Britain had lost three wars in the 19th century, each larger and longer than the last. The idea of another “surge” there is worse than the most extreme folly: it is plainly a front for ulterior motives. Those include harassing Iran for politician bribes from Israel/KSA, and allowing US tyrants to pose falsely as protectors and accuse their moral superiors of disloyalty. Very likely the poppy business is intended to fund more secret wars by the US dark state.

      The “surge” in Iraq was not successful: the decline in violence was due to a concurrent ethnic purge of Sunnis from Baghdad. The US had no realistic plan to “promote democracy” there; the new government was a failed democracy from the start. The foolish US plan was to surround Shiite Iran, but instead caused Iraq to be led by its Shiite plurality influenced by Iran. The ensuing Sunni insurgency of AlQaeda and IS in Iraq was caused by:
      1. US invasion and dismissal of Baathists (largely Sunnis) from the military;
      2. Refusal of the US-aligned Maliki administration to give Sunnis government jobs;
      3. Brutality of the US and Maliki government toward the Sunnis;
      4. Refusal of the Maliki government to give Sunnis an autonomous province in Anbar like the Kurds to the north.

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