Brzezinski Warns On Afghanistan

Listen to this man–the day of the Iraq Invasion he warned the US of what was to come and the man was dead on (no pun intended).  An article in Examiner.com by Jay McDonough:

wrote a post a couple weeks ago outlining Juan Cole’s concern over the emerging U.S. strategy to send more troops to Afghanistan in light of the increasing level of violence and a resurgence of Taliban influence.  From that post:

If the Afghanistan gambit is sincere, I don’t think it is good geostrategy. Afghanistan is far more unwinnable even than Iraq. If playing it up is politics, then it is dangerous politics. Presidents can become captive of their own record and end up having to commit to things because they made strong representations about them to the public.

Afghan tribes are fractious. They feud. Their territory is vast and rugged, and they know it like the back of their hands. Afghans are Jeffersonians in the sense that they want a light touch from the central government, and heavy handedness drives them into rebellion. Stand up Karzai’s army and air force and give him some billions to bribe the tribal chiefs, and let him apply carrot and stick himself. We need to get out of there. “Al-Qaeda” was always Bin Laden’s hype. He wanted to get us on the ground there so that the Mujahideen could bleed us the way they did the Soviets. It is a trap.

Beware.

Former National Security Advisor, Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski, is expressing concerns as well:

“I think we’re literally running the risk of unintentionally doing what the Russians did. And that, if it happens, would be a tragedy,” Brzezinski told the Huffington Post on Friday. “When we first went into Afghanistan to overthrow the Taliban, we were actually welcomed by an overwhelming majority of Afghans. They did not see us as invaders, as they saw the Soviets.”

However, Brzezinski noted that just as the Soviets were able to delude themselves that they had a loyal army of communist-sympathizers who would transform the country, the U.S.-led forces may now be making similar mistakes. He said that the conduct of military operations “with little regard for civilian casualties” may accelerate the negative trend in local public opinion regarding the West’s role. “It’s just beginning, but it’s significant,” Brzezinski said.

His own program for improving the state of affairs in Afghanistan — where U.S. casualties have surpassed those in Iraq for two months now — revolves around pragmatism. He believes Europe should bribe Afghan farmers not to produce poppies used for heroin since “it all ends up in Europe.” Moreover, he thinks the tribal warlords can be bought off with bribes, with the endgame being the isolation of Al-Qaeda from a Taliban that is “not a united force, not a world-oriented terrorist movement, but a real Afghan phenomenon.”

Many historians believe the 9 year long Soviet-Afghan War became one of the factors leading to the collapse of the Soviet Union. The resistance from the (U.S. backed) Afghani Mujahadeen forces took the Soviets completely by surprise and was a significant embarrassment to the mighty Soviet army.  From a paper by Rafael Reuveny and Aseem Prakash (The Afghanistan war and the breakdown of the Soviet Union):

The war impacted Soviet politics in four reinforcing ways: (1) Perception effects: it changed the perceptions of leaders about the efficacy of using the military to hold the empire together and to intervene in foreign countries; (2) Military effects: it discredited the Red Army, created cleavage between the party and the military, and demonstrated that the Red Army was not invincible, which emboldened the non Russian republics to push for independence; (3) Legitimacy effects: it provided non-Russians with a common cause to demand independence since they viewed this war as a Russian war fought by non Russians against Afghans; and (4) Participation effects: it created new forms of political participation, started to transform the press/media before glasnost, initiated the first shots of glasnost, and created a significant mass of war veterans (Afghansti) who formed new civil organizations weakening the political hegemony of the communist party.

The Soviets had no idea what they were getting into when they invaded Afghanistan.  Nine years later, they were forced to retreat with the tail between their legs.

I just wish I had more confidence the folks currently running the show are, at least, thinking about these issues.

Today In Labor History

26 July

n Chicago, 30 workers killed by federal troops, more than 100 wounded at the “Battle of the Viaduct” during the Great Railroad Strike – 1877

President Grover Cleveland appoints a United States Strike Committee to investigate the causes of the Pullman strike and the subsequent strike by the American Railway Union. Later that year the commission issues its report, absolving the strikers and blaming Pullman and the railroads for the conflict – 1894

Battle of Mucklow, W.Va. in coal strike – 1912

President Truman issues Executive Order 9981, directing equality of opportunity in armed forces – 1948

The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) took effect today. It requires employers to offer reasonable accommodations to qualified disabled employees and bans discrimination against such workers – 1992

To Impeach Or Not To Impeach

Oh, The games they play in Washington.

House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers of Detroit expressed “grave concerns” about “excesses” of President Bush and his administration Friday in an all-day hearing at which lawmakers and constitutional experts sparred over whether Bush should be impeached.

“We are not done yet, and we do not intend to go away until we achieve the accountability that Congress is entitled to and the American people deserve,” Conyers said.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has repeatedly said impeachment is off the table — a position endorsed by Conyers. So it wasn’t clear what the hearing would actually accomplish.

“To the regret of many, this is not an impeachment hearing,” Conyers said, adding that the House has to vote to hold an impeachment hearing.

Rep. Dan Lungren, R-Calif., quipped the hearing should have been called “Impeachment-lite” because it allowed Bush critics to make serious charges about the president without actually launching a real impeachment inquiry.

The lead witness was Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, the author of 35 articles of impeachment against the president, largely over his contention that Bush intentionally misled the public and the Congress to launch an unjustifiable war.

“The decision before us is whether to demand accountability for one of the gravest injustices imaginable,” Kucinich said.

But several Republicans on the committee and their expert witnesses accused Bush’s critics of simply wanting to criminalize policies they don’t like, adding that the charges against Bush over his handling of the war could as easily be made against other wartime presidents, such as Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman and Lyndon Johnson.

The hearing was sprinkled with dramatic moments.

Cindy Sheehan — the anti-war activist whose son was killed in Iraq and became famous for her protest outside Bush’s Texas ranch — shouted out from the audience at one point. Conyers ordered her to leave. “Shame, shame, shame,” activists chanted.

Banks Are Failing

Federal regulators shut down two national banks late Friday in the latest chapter of the credit crisis, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. successfully protected all depositors by selling the accounts to Mutual of Omaha Bank.

First National Bank of Nevada had $3.4 billion in assets and $3.0 billion of deposits, making it a relatively large failure by historical standards — but much smaller than the $32 billion of assets that IndyMac Bank of Pasadena, Calif., had when it failed earlier this month. First National Bank of Nevada had 25 branches, some of which came from its June 30 merger with the First National Bank of Arizona.

First National Bank of Nevada had spent months trying to dig out of trouble. James Claffee, who recently joined the company as president and chief executive officer, told the Arizona Republic less than two weeks ago that he was hopeful the bank would be able to raise capital.

The number of failed banks this year has already surpassed the total from 2004 through 2007, but it is nowhere near the pace set during the savings and loan crisis in the 1980s and early 1990s, when several thousand banks failed.

Regulators have been preparing for more bank failures by adding staff, bringing on contractors, and intensifying training. The FDIC, which was created in 1933, has made a concerted push in recent months to educate bank customers about the deposit insurance rules. The FDIC insures accounts up to $100,000 per depositor, or $250,000 for some qualified retirement accounts.

Cost Of American Axel Strike

The impact of a nearly three-month-long strike that crippled production was blamed by American Axle & Manufacturing Holdings Inc. for the $644.3 million second-quarter loss it reported today.

Another contributor, the company said, were charges related to the contract agreement that ended the dispute with the United Auto Workers.

The loss, which amounted to $12.49 per share, compared with a profit of $34.6 million, or 66 cents per share, for the same quarter in 2007, the Detroit-based auto parts supplier said.

The results included charges of $575.6 million related to worker buyouts, plant closures and other moves designed to realign the company’s production.

Among the sites being closed were American Axle’s Buffalo plant, which ceased production in December 2007 and was officially closed in June, and the in-process phase-out of the Town of Tonawanda forge plant, which will be closed next year.