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John Drake

Romney v Obama

Who would you vote for?   42 members have voted

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207 posts in this topic

How has Obama fudged the withdrawal from Afghanistan?

I find myself agreeing with NS again (!), the Middle East mess has absolutely nothing to do with Obama and the policy of drone strikes against Al Qaeda operatives has systematically whipped out much of the Al Qaeda leadership leaving them a dispirited, fragmented and smallscale world player. The drone strikes have been a massive success (but controversial of course).

I think the withdrawal is a fudge as it more or less says to al qaeda - keep quiet for a few years, hang in there, then it's all yours. I believe that Obama should have been braver, and offered talks rather than announcing a future withdrawal as a way out of the conflict.

The middle east is the middle east, and I didn't mean to imply that its current state is all Obama's fault. But he seems to have spent less time focussing on brokering talks between Israel and Palestine than most Presidents have done. His somewhat cool relationship with Israel may bring results later down the track, but overall it's not an area his administration has done well in.

You're going to have to work harder to convince me that the drone attacks have been succesful, or are even necessary. It marrs Obama's credibility as a statesman standing against terrorism for him to sanction their use.

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I think the withdrawal is a fudge as it more or less says to al qaeda - keep quiet for a few years, hang in there, then it's all yours. I believe that Obama should have been braver, and offered talks rather than announcing a future withdrawal as a way out of the conflict.

What use are "talks" if the Taliban (not Al Qaeda who have little stake in events in Afghanistan) aren't interested?

Not to mention that since power rests with Karzai, Obama has nothing to negotiate with other than US withdrawal.

The middle east is the middle east, and I didn't mean to imply that its current state is all Obama's fault. But he seems to have spent less time focussing on brokering talks between Israel and Palestine than most Presidents have done. His somewhat cool relationship with Israel may bring results later down the track, but overall it's not an area his administration has done well in.

What have past presidents achieved?

Almost all past negotiations have been abject failures with nothing to show for them.

You're going to have to work harder to convince me that the drone attacks have been succesful, or are even necessary. It marrs Obama's credibility as a statesman standing against terrorism for him to sanction their use.

Dead terrorists are an achievement. And what use is "credibility" anyway?

Would credibility have persuaded Pakistan to stop harbouring bin Laden, would it force them to control their own territory in Waziristan?

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The US don't have a policy of drone bombing civilians. They target terrorists and sometimes civilians get caught up in it, said but the nature of war.

As cynical a statement as I've ever seen

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As cynical a statement as I've ever seen

It's also as true a statement as you will find.

Name me a war where civilians didn't die.

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1. I think the withdrawal is a fudge as it more or less says to al qaeda - keep quiet for a few years, hang in there, then it's all yours. I believe that Obama should have been braver, and offered talks rather than announcing a future withdrawal as a way out of the conflict.

The middle east is the middle east, and I didn't mean to imply that its current state is all Obama's fault. But he seems to have spent less time focussing on brokering talks between Israel and Palestine than most Presidents have done. His somewhat cool relationship with Israel may bring results later down the track, but overall it's not an area his administration has done well in.

You're going to have to work harder to convince me that the drone attacks have been succesful, or are even necessary. It marrs Obama's credibility as a statesman standing against terrorism for him to sanction their use.

1. Al Qaeda in Afghanistan are now a non-entity. The overarching war aim was to remove the threat of Al Qaeda from using Afghanistan as a training safe haven. Not only have we achieved this, we have also largely removed/destroyed the threat of Al Qaeda in the Pakistani tribal regions as well. Yes, Zarhiwi is still hiding in that area but is largely obsolete in the grand scheme of things, a bit like Bin Laden had become. The real threat from Al Qaeda now originates from Al Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula and Al Qaeda in the Maghreb where the Americans have shifted focus in recent years. This is why your statement is wrong.

However, have you made the mistake of classing the Taliban as Al Qaeda? Two completely different organisations, especially nowadays. The Taliban or other organisations such as the Haqqani Network and HIG (not the same organisations as the Taliban - they will fight each other once NATO have left) are still key players in the region and should ultimately be included in talks with GIRoA but do not underestimate Karzai's government who are backed by a hugely power Tajik-faction who ultimately control the ANA and other security forces. That said, the Taliban have stated that they have turned their back on Al Qaeda and their affiliates...

2. Maybe Obama hasn't focused on the Israel-Palestinian issue as he knows it will never succeed until both parties actually want to sit down at the table and have a real drive to create peace in the area?

3. We'll have to disagree on the drone strikes. I've mentioned slightly earlier in this response that Al Qaeda in the region have largely been neutralised; this is due to the drone strikes. They are continuing this policy to kill as many Taliban, Haqqani and HIG operatives as much as possible before handover to the Afghans take place. You can argue that is the wrong policy but in order to combat Al Qaeda, the drone strikes have been hugely successful with the remaining 'terrorists' being in hiding or already fled to other regions (see the Arab Peninsula/Maghreb).

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3. We'll have to disagree on the drone strikes. I've mentioned slightly earlier in this response that Al Qaeda in the region have largely been neutralised; this is due to the drone strikes. They are continuing this policy to kill as many Taliban, Haqqani and HIG operatives as much as possible before handover to the Afghans take place. You can argue that is the wrong policy but in order to combat Al Qaeda, the drone strikes have been hugely successful with the remaining 'terrorists' being in hiding or already fled to other regions (see the Arab Peninsula/Maghreb).

Indeed and as controversial as the drones may be, they are less bloody than an invasion of Pakistan would be. The Yanks should have used drone strikes against Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and avoiding getting dragged into the civil war.

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The Yanks should have used drone strikes against Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and avoiding getting dragged into the civil war.

They didn't really have too much drone technology in 2001 compared to nowadays. They heavily relied on SF operators and Air Force bombing. The idea of stabilising the country only came once Al Qaeda had largely been defeated. I am guessing it was around the time of 2003 when they thought exporting democracy (see Iraq!) was a good idea?!

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By conservative estimates that's 10 dead completely-innocent civilians for every possible terrorist killed.

*slow hand clap*

The source for this was the BBC this morning but I can't find any reliable data to back that position up. There does seem to also be some confusion as to what a terrorist or militant is in the official definition - quite a few both pro and anti drone commentators refer to Obama's stated position that it includes any male of military age within the target zone whether or not that person is known to have ever been active in a militant organisation.

There seems to be a good analysis of the data and its limitations here.

I do also like the idea that the Taliban have been 'effectively neutralised'. This is the same Taliban that controls pretty much all of rural Afghanistan and is biding its time until the west withdraws from its abject mission to get the rest? The same Taliban that has seen its influence on mainstream Pakistan politics increase as the drone strikes continue - witness a member of the Pakistan government issue a 100k bounty for insulting Mohammed.

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Actually I see from rereading I got muddled as to whether the drones were killing the Taliban or al Qaeda. The point stands with regard to the safety of the area and the objectives of the war - but I'll accept that the always-loose al Qaeda no longer seems to be a threat.

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There does seem to also be some confusion as to what a terrorist or militant is in the official definition - quite a few both pro and anti drone commentators refer to Obama's stated position that it includes any male of military age within the target zone whether or not that person is known to have ever been active in a militant organisation.

This is the same Taliban that controls pretty much all of rural Afghanistan and is biding its time until the west withdraws from its abject mission to get the rest?

To be fair, most men of fighting age in the tribal areas are members of armed militias. It is part of their culture. I can't imagine the Yanks are targetting areas with anti-Taliban/Al Qaeda militias as no targets will be found in these areas. That said, I have no doubts that civilians are sadly killed in such strikes; I find it hard to believe the 0% collateral damage figure quoted by the US in the article.

The Taliban don't control pretty much all of rural Afghanistan. They do control large chunks in the southern and eastern provinces but even in these areas, there are areas controlled by anti-Taliban militias. As for the northern and swathes of the western provinces, these are controlled by Uzkek, Turkmen and Tajik militias who are feverently anti-Taliban. When NATO withdraw, it'll take a massive injection of manpower, lives and money to despose Karzai or whoever the next elected leader is from power, as even in the southern cities, government control/militias are have a firm grip on the security situation. I am not suggesting things are rosy of course; there are obvious real issues but don't underestimate the Afghan resolve and their capabilities.

Actually I see from rereading I got muddled as to whether the drones were killing the Taliban or al Qaeda. The point stands with regard to the safety of the area and the objectives of the war - but I'll accept that the always-loose al Qaeda no longer seems to be a threat.

Glad you re-read it! ;)

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Al Qaeda were seen as arrogant Arab interlopers by the Afghani tribes who were preparing to expel them. It was the western intervention that cemented their alliance, an intervention that was totally unessesary (sp?) given that none of the 9/11 bombers were Afghans.

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Al Qaeda were seen as arrogant Arab interlopers by the Afghani tribes who were preparing to expel them.

The first bit is certainly true, even Mullah Omar. However, the highlighted bit is wrong in my opinion and in plenty of literature I have read. Firstly, the Pashtunwali tribal code and specifically hospitality (Melmastia) would prevent that as the 'Arabs' had asked for the Taliban's hospitality. Secondly, considering Al Qaeda provided large amounts of troops and millions of dollars to the Taliban's war effort against the Northern Alliance plus killed Massoud days before 9/11, the Taliban were never going to give up 'luxury' item, even when the Bush Administration told the Taliban to hand over Bin Laden and his cronies post 9/11. Thirdly, if anything brought Al Qaeda and the Taliban closer together, it was the bombing of Afghanistan in 1998 in retribution for the Kenyan/Tanzanian bombings rather than 9/11.

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These debates are an interesting but flawed concept.

It is heavily weighted against the current president. He has done a job and can be criticised for the job that he has done, especially as his job requires him making predictions about what he would do. It's like being made to re-interview for your job against a new candidate with a good CV. He can make all sorts of claims about what he will do whereas you get judged on what you actually did.

I seriously hope Obama wins. I don't think he's been great by any means, he was elected for a mixture of reasons, one undoubtedly being that he was black and would become the first black President. I think a lot of people (myself included) want him to be a good President and this possibly affects how he is thought of.

He is easily the better of the two though. Romney represents the side of America that should not be admired; any man who wears magic undies and believes that the truth about existence was revealed on golden plates to a 21 year old in the 1840's does not deserve to hold the most powerful position in the world.

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The source for this was the BBC this morning but I can't find any reliable data to back that position up. There does seem to also be some confusion as to what a terrorist or militant is in the official definition - quite a few both pro and anti drone commentators refer to Obama's stated position that it includes any male of military age within the target zone whether or not that person is known to have ever been active in a militant organisation.

There seems to be a good analysis of the data and its limitations here.

So rather than the civilian casualties being 10 times higher than the number of extremists killed, the figure would seem to be a civilian casualty figure of around 10% of the total deaths. So you were out by a factor of 100. Perhaps you shouldn't listen to the bbc if they promote such rubbish.

And I'm aware that the stats are unreliable and that's why I queried your over-confident non-facts.

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So rather than the civilian casualties being 10 times higher than the number of extremists killed, the figure would seem to be a civilian casualty figure of around 10% of the total deaths. So you were out by a factor of 100. Perhaps you shouldn't listen to the bbc if they promote such rubbish.

And I'm aware that the stats are unreliable and that's why I queried your over-confident non-facts.

Yawn.

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Yawn.

You do seem to find facts tedious. You preach about Afghanistan but you don't know the difference between the Taliban and the Al Qaeda.

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What use are "talks" if the Taliban (not Al Qaeda who have little stake in events in Afghanistan) aren't interested?

Not to mention that since power rests with Karzai, Obama has nothing to negotiate with other than US withdrawal.

What have past presidents achieved?

Almost all past negotiations have been abject failures with nothing to show for them.

Dead terrorists are an achievement. And what use is "credibility" anyway?

Would credibility have persuaded Pakistan to stop harbouring bin Laden, would it force them to control their own territory in Waziristan?

You've no idea whether or not the Taliban would have consented to talks. Nato are of the opinion that post-withdrawal, al-qaeda will re-establish in Afghanistan in short order. What's more certain is that having announced the date by which a withdrawal will be complete, Obama has absolutely nothing to negotiate with.

The Carter and Clinton administrations both made significant contributions in the middle east. I'm surprised Obama hasn't wanted to continue this Democrat tradition. Perhaps more drone bombing could sort it all out, eh?

In your excitement over dead Pakistanis you seem to have forgotten that Obama is an elected politicion. If he loses in November, it won't be because he suffers from an excess of credibility in the eyes of the electorate.

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It won't be because of his foreign policy either. Perhaps you think that the killing of bin Laden is unpopular with the US electorate.

Remind me what Clinton achieved in the Middle East. There haven't been any significant peace deals since the Camp David agreement and that was decades ago.

Whether the Taliban would or would not have agreed to talks, I said that the US had nothing to negotiate with, and you can't name anything that would contradict this.

The Taliban are one organisation and Al Qaeda are another. Fighting the Taliban won't help to defeat Al Qaeda. If Al Qaeda come back then the US can target them with drone attacks which have been very effective elsewhere.

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The idea that we should be fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan in order to combat Al Qaeda (who are not in Afghanistan in significant numbers) but we shouldn't fight Al Qaeda in Pakistan or Yemen is one of the absurd ideas around at the moment.

Still thank God that only drones kill civilians and that the fighting in Afghanistan is completely free of innocent bystanders.

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I would like to know who would vote for Romney. Come on own up.

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1. You've no idea whether or not the Taliban would have consented to talks.

2. Nato are of the opinion that post-withdrawal, al-qaeda will re-establish in Afghanistan in short order.

3. What's more certain is that having announced the date by which a withdrawal will be complete, Obama has absolutely nothing to negotiate with.

1. NATO attempted to start negiotations since 2006-07 and the Taliban refused, just as they did in 2001 when the Americans attempted to get Bin Laden handed over without a fight. Incidentally, the Taliban have now been brought to the table recently due to military pressure from NATO and the drone strikes in Pakistan.

2. Where do you get your information from? I have never read that opinion anywhere or heard it!

3. Obama does have a bargaining chip. The 2014 withdrawal date is for 'conventional' ground troops only operating in a combat role. There will still be plenty of mentors in the country, US air assets in various areas of the country and SF capabilities to hunt down and kill wanted personnel. We aren't simply leaving Afghanistan to fester post-14.

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I would like to know who would vote for Romney. Come on own up.

I actually quite liked John McCain for some reason but would never vote for Romney. Too plastic looking for starters and he insulted us during the Olympics!

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I actually quite liked John McCain for some reason but would never vote for Romney. Too plastic looking for starters and he insulted us during the Olympics!

Tbf to Romney, half his "gaffes" aren't gaffes at all. He only said what everybody was thinking at the time.

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The fact that one candidate is a mormon, and a mormon who has stated that his beliefs will influence his policy making, should discount him entirely from the thoughts of any right minded person. Obama all the way for me.

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For those of the odd belief that Arabs and Israelis fighting each other is Obama's fault. This link might explain why there hasn't been much effort in the MidEast recently. The conditions for state level negotiations just don't exist.

http://www.haaretz.com/blogs/diplomania/netanyahu-told-assad-i-m-ready-to-discuss-golan-withdrawal-if-you-cut-iran-hezbollah-ties.premium-1.469714

tl; dr version

Through indirect talk mediated by the U.S., the PM was ready in 2010 to discuss Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights. The talks were abandoned in 2011, however, with the outbreak of revolt in Syria.

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