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Who Is Afraid of a Terrorist Haven?

Discussion in 'BBS Hangout: Debate & Discussion' started by glynch, Sep 19, 2009.

  1. glynch

    glynch Contributing Member

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    A good article. I recently had an over dinner discusion with a friend who had the typical"we have to remain in Afghanistan indfinitely due to the "terrorist haven" concept. I have seen it mentioned over and over on this forum by even some folks who are fairly moderate on most matters. I believe the article puts to rest the "terrorist haven" argument or certainly does not lead to the conclusion that it is worth the $100 billion per year we now spend in Afghanistan and Iraq.

    BTW interestingly the $100 billion is almost exactly the estimate to provide health care for all Americans.
    ********

    Who's Afraid of A Terrorist Haven?
    By Paul R. Pillar
    Wednesday, September 16, 2009



    Rationales for maintaining the counterinsurgency in Afghanistan are varied and complex, but they all center on one key tenet: that Afghanistan must not be allowed to again become a haven for terrorist groups, especially al-Qaeda. Debate about Afghanistan has raised reasons to question that tenet, one of which is that the top al-Qaeda leadership is not even in Afghanistan, having decamped to Pakistan years ago. Another is that terrorists intent on establishing a haven can choose among several unstable countries besides Afghanistan, and U.S. forces cannot secure them all.

    The debate has largely overlooked a more basic question: How important to terrorist groups is any physical haven? More to the point: How much does a haven affect the danger of terrorist attacks against U.S. interests, especially the U.S. homeland? The answer to the second question is: not nearly as much as unstated assumptions underlying the current debate seem to suppose. When a group has a haven, it will use it for such purposes as basic training of recruits. But the operations most important to future terrorist attacks do not need such a home, and few recruits are required for even very deadly terrorism. Consider: The preparations most important to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks took place not in training camps in Afghanistan but, rather, in apartments in Germany, hotel rooms in Spain and flight schools in the United States.

    In the past couple of decades, international terrorist groups have thrived by exploiting globalization and information technology, which has lessened their dependence on physical havens.

    By utilizing networks such as the Internet, terrorists' organizations have become more network-like, not beholden to any one headquarters. A significant jihadist terrorist threat to the United States persists, but that does not mean it will consist of attacks instigated and commanded from a South Asian haven, or that it will require a haven at all. Al-Qaeda's role in that threat is now less one of commander than of ideological lodestar, and for that role a haven is almost meaningless.

    These trends have been familiar to counterterrorist cognoscenti for years but have gone mostly unmentioned in discussion of Afghanistan. This is probably because the intervention there in late 2001 was unquestionably a response to Sept. 11 -- the "good war," in contrast with the misguided expedition to Iraq, where the only connection to the 2001 attacks was in the Bush administration's contorted selling of that invasion. The U.S. entry into the Afghan civil war succeeded in ousting the Taliban from power and rousting its al-Qaeda allies, and the intervention would have occurred regardless of whether the occupant of the White House was named Bush or Gore.

    The issue today does not concern what was worth disrupting eight years ago. And it is not whether a haven in Afghanistan would be of any use to a terrorist group -- it would.

    Instead, the issue is whether preventing such a haven would reduce the terrorist threat to the United States enough from what it otherwise would be to offset the required expenditure of blood and treasure and the barriers to success in Afghanistan, including an ineffective regime and sagging support from the population. Thwarting the creation of a physical haven also would have to offset any boost to anti-U.S. terrorism stemming from perceptions that the United States had become an occupier rather than a defender of Afghanistan.

    Among the many parallels being offered between Afghanistan and the Vietnam War, one of the most disturbing concerns inadequate examination of core assumptions. The Johnson administration was just as meticulous as the Obama administration is being in examining counterinsurgent strategies and the forces required to execute them. But most American discourse about Vietnam in the early and mid-1960s took for granted the key -- and flawed -- assumptions underlying the whole effort: that a loss of Vietnam would mean that other Asian countries would fall like dominoes to communism, and that a retreat from the commitment to Vietnam would gravely harm U.S. credibility.

    The Obama administration and other participants in the debate about expanding the counterinsurgency effort in Afghanistan can still avoid comparable error. But this would require not merely invoking Sept. 11 and taking for granted that a haven in Afghanistan would mean the difference between repeating and not repeating that horror. It would instead mean presenting a convincing case about how such a haven would significantly increase the terrorist danger to the United States. That case has not yet been made.

    The writer was deputy chief of the counterterrorist center at the CIA from 1997 to 1999. He is director of graduate studies at Georgetown University's Security Studies Program.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/09/15/AR2009091502977_pf.html
     
  2. Space Ghost

    Space Ghost Contributing Member

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    Interesting, the stimulus bill and and bailouts could easily pay for healthcare for the next century. Sadly, these wars have been a better stimulus than the bills that were passed earlier this year.

    I don't believe we should have ever gone into Iraq. I initially supported going into Afghanistan, but we are quickly following in the mistakes of the Soviet Union. I don't know if we can ever withdraw from Afghanistan, but we most certainly won't conquer it.
     
  3. Refman

    Refman Contributing Member

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    The preparations immediately prior to 9/11 may have taken place in Europe, but IIRC, all of the participants had gotten training in Afghanistan.

    The financial backing for the attack, bin Laden, was given safe haven in Afghanistan by the Taliban.

    We cannot afford to withdraw only to have it happen again.
     
  4. white lightning

    white lightning Contributing Member

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    What kind of training that helped in the attacks? How to wield a box cutter? They needed Afghanistan for that?
     
  5. yaoluv

    yaoluv Member

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    I think its not so much the skill training, its the meeting of like minded people, the peer pressure, the indoctrination, the bonding.

    A terrorist haven gives lone radicals the chance to migrate there and easily link up with others. Thats when things become dangerous.
     
    1 person likes this.
  6. Refman

    Refman Contributing Member

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    Bingo.

    Think of it as a training ground for a rogue army. If they do not have a place to become indoctrinated and link up with like-minded others, then you have those that are likely to participate spread out over quite a large area with little or no organization.
     
  7. glynch

    glynch Contributing Member

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    The whole idea of a "terrorist haven" makes sense unless you think about it in greater detail. Also, the question is not whether these havens are not a threat, but rather whether instead of spending the $100 billion a year we are now spending under this theory, can it be done less expensively

    You ca't solve all problems, Refman, simply by shoveling huge amounts of tax payer's money at it. :)
     
  8. Refman

    Refman Contributing Member

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    I'll admit it. That was funny. :)

    More than that, it is thought provoking. I am very interested in thinking of ways to promote our safety in a less costly fashion (both in money and human loss). I simply do not know the answer to that, but you have certainly got me thinking.

    This, IMO, is the best post you have ever made. I am not being sarcastic. That was a really good post.
     
  9. ROXRAN

    ROXRAN Contributing Member

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    We need to get out. save money. embrace isolationism for 99.8% of situations...Unless Hitler part 2 shows his face, there is a philosophical anti-sense to war planning as we know it.

    The only way to truly win and conquer is to annihilate and accept massive collateral fatalities (not that it may come directly from our hands, but indirectly moreso)...we want clean and civil wars that are quick...No such thing. Go for the throat. But we want to be "better" than that. Fine. Stop giving other countries money and agree to embrace isolationism moreso than not...

    Don't give in to fear to subvert rights...Don't take away rights because you think it might do good...Don't infringe on rights to "save" lives.

    We need to focus on helping U.S. citizens before anybody else. Give credits for disaster preparedness provisions...

    It's a simple concept I'm embracing more and more:...Focus on taking care of ourselves. Don't ask to borrow, Don't lend...Trim the fat on credit dependency. Embrace rights-don't take away or infringe...Reward and help everyone with disaster prepardness provisions...
     
  10. Red Chocolate

    Red Chocolate Contributing Member

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    This country was not founded upon the principle of meddling in foreign affairs. Furthermore, I am more afraid of being hit by lightning in the Las Vegas desert, since that is statistically more likely than me being harmed by a terrorist attack. Get out of Afghanistan, save lives, save money. Not the most complicated strategy.
     
  11. Agent94

    Agent94 Member

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    Agreed that we should not be in Iraq or Afghanistan. However ..

    I don't buy that number. That is only $3000 per person.
     
  12. justtxyank

    justtxyank Contributing Member

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    Perhaps not, but it is has been meddling since the time it was able to.
     
  13. Agent94

    Agent94 Member

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    The cost a new world trade center is $3 billion.
    The cost of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq is over $900 billion.
    The war has cost 300 times the attack.

    2,740 American died on 9/11.
    4,259 Americans have died in the war.

    We can't afford more war.
     
  14. glynch

    glynch Contributing Member

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    wrt to the $3000 per person. That is the additional spending needed to cover everyone who is not coverred now or is undercovered by health insurance.

    The better way to go is to have Medicare for all. It is estimated that an additional $5 to $10 Medicare tax per paycheck for all wage earners would be enough to do it and then we could do away with all the co-pays, checks to insurance companies, drug bills etc. Much cheaper for nearly all. Big pharma, big insurance and the ideological blinders of many, including those who would be much better off, do not presently allow this.
     
  15. Refman

    Refman Contributing Member

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    This is the real concern that I have. Without big pharma, you can kiss goodbye new drugs to combat disease, etc.

    If we were to go Medicare for all, we would have to find a way to encourage serious investment in new treatments and cures for disease.
     
  16. Red Chocolate

    Red Chocolate Contributing Member

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    Big Pharma does very little to 'cure' diseases. That is how they stay in business.
     
  17. STIX

    STIX Member

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    Remember after 9/11/01 and how the corporatist s man, George W., got up to the podium time after time and presented those infomercials?
    He stood up there claiming that “terrorists” hate our freedoms & “rights”. I guess this was supposed to get our minds to thinking that our ‘way of life’ was gonna change and we would lose jobs, lose investments and lose homes. We would lose those freedoms & rights and things we were accustomed to all because “terrorists” would make sure of it somehow. I guess the message included too that we were all gonna possibly die.

    Wow.. Its all come to be it seems; not because of those overseas “terrorists” that the corporatist s spokesperson told us about hell, there hasn’t been a so-called terrorist attack since yet.. here it all is…..all those dreadful things George told us about, but thing is… it wasn’t because of “terrorist attacks” was it?

    Seems like the corporatist s that funded George W to get him in the White House and lie about the Florida ballots were to get more power to the corporatist s. They milked everything for all they could get.

    Now we have Obama. Obama is front man to milk it all from the other side; from the Democrats.

    Its all such a game that so many Americans subscribe to.

    The Republican right milk it for all its worth and then when the tit is nearly dry, in comes one that wears a Democrat leftist label…as if he is here to save the day and undo what those Republicans did..

    Its nothing but a damn staged sham.
     
  18. mc mark

    mc mark Contributing Member

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    please post more!
     
  19. Red Chocolate

    Red Chocolate Contributing Member

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    STIX,

    How long did it take for you to figure out that the Democratic/Republican parties are basically the same and that it's all staged and funded by banks and corporations? I'm hoping America will wake up to this fact before things get out of hand.
     
  20. Deckard

    Deckard Blade Runner
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    So now this is a thread about creating another Fortress America and using the "money saved" to get us national healthcare, while saying that President Obama is just a leftist version of George W. Bush and a shill for Corporate American? I don't think glynch buys all of that. The idea of using means other than occupying Afghanistan to defeat radical muslims intent on attacking the US and our allies is, of course, a worthy goal. I just don't see how, at this point, we can do that. You need bases to house the drones that are doing most of the damage right now to the top radicals in the region. They can't be based on Diego Garcia. You need boots on the ground to assault hard targets of the same guys. That might be possible with special forces, whether we had permission or not, but things could get hairy if our people got in trouble without bases in theatre to back them up. Where would we have such bases, absent a presence in Afghanistan and/or Pakistan?

    Nothing about this is "simple."
     

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