The Final Shakedown

-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger

225px-hamid_karzai_2004-06-14As the United States draws down its military presence in Afghanistan, the Afghan government of Hamid Karzai has discovered yet another gimmick to extort money from the Americans. Karzai is demanding that the US pay $1000 for each shipping container that leaves the country. According to Afghan customs officials, the US military has racked up a total of $70 million in fines. The Kabul government has blocked inbound shipments of fuel and equipment in order to extort US compliance. If forced to ship by air, the additional costs could balloon to billions of dollars.

It is past time for the US to stop kowtowing to Karzai’s corruption. The custom “duties” can easily be subtracted from the bags of cash the CIA delivers to Karzai.

Karzai’s corruption is fast coming to an end. An immediate and permanent withdrawal of US military forces from Kabul would help focus Karzai’s attention on his own survival. Without US military protection, Karzai wouldn’t last a year.

Any idea that the US will leave behind a Afghan security force and army that will thwart the Taliban is a fantasy to soothe US political opinion. The Taliban are vicious immoral thugs whose religion allows them to morally justify their actions. That the Afghanistan people will be brutalized by the inevitable Taliban theocracy is a certainty. However abhorrent, it is up to the Afghans to remedy that situation. The US does not have the resources to save Muslims from Islam. The US can show the way by our exemplification of the rights of conscience found in our secular society.

In Syria, Turkey, and, until the recent coup, Egypt, movements promoting the intermingling of religion and state seem to be spreading. The US cannot afford, financially or ethically, to support these movements. The principles of secularism, separation of religion and state, and individuality free from religious prescription, need to be articulated persuasively. Just as Christians claim a right to be free from Islamic prescriptions, in a secular society, any individual can claim a right to be free from any religious prescriptions.

James Madison realized the essentiality of church/state separation when he wrote:

The members of a Govt as such can in no sense, be regarded as possessing an advisory trust from their Constituents in their religious capacities.

In his pinnacle work, Age of Reason, Thomas Paine wrote:

All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit.

H/T: Kevin Drum, Ernesto Londoño and Kevin Sieff.

61 thoughts on “The Final Shakedown”

  1. An old — and apparently quintessential — story regarding the United States and its long succession of tar-baby puppets abroad:

    Cynicism about the war and a lapse into increasing passivity was the result [of treating China like a dependent client]. An attitude of “Let the Allies do it” prevailed in the teahouses of Chungking after the fall of Burma. To use barbarians to fight other barbarians was a traditional principle of Chinese statecraft which now more than ever appeared not only advisable but justified. Chinese opinion, according to a foreign resident, held that not only was China justified in remaining passive after five years of resistance; “it was her right to get as much as possible out of her allies while they fought.” The exercise of this right became the Government’s chief war effort. The long endeavor to shake off the foreigners and emerge from dependence had not succeeded; China’s problems had been too great. With dwindling capacity to cope with its own circumstances, the Kuomintang applied all its energy to making dependence pay.

    Barbara Tuchman, Stilwell and the American Experience in China 1911-1945

    The United States government wanted a dependent puppet in Afghanistan and got its wish. The dependent puppet then proceeded to what dependent puppets have always done: make dependence pay. Now — after twelve years of abject military failure — the United States government doesn’t want to pay its dependent puppet so much (in terms of blood and money) but still thinks it can dominate Afghanistan militarily and at relatively reduced costs through robot drones and special operations night raids, etc. Thus President Obama’s schizophrenic policy of “leaving by staying.”

    But as Rudyard Kipling wrote of the British attempts to retreat from Kabul through the Khyber pass into India:

    When you’re wounded and left on Afghanistan’s plains
    And the women come out to cut up what remains
    Then roll to your rifle and blow out your brains
    And go to your god like a soldier

    The American military, its corporate camp followers, and dogs-of-war mercenaries had better just get the hell out of Afghanistan while they still can. Hanging on longer in dwindling numbers merely for the sake of some equipment — which obviously has proven worthless in accomplishing anything of value — only courts disaster.

    The United States military will have to pay an exit fee to get out of Afghanistan where they blundered into a trap over a decade ago. They will pay in money or they will pay in blood. But they will pay. Surely the United States did not think that the Afghans (and Pakistanis) would suffer so much devastation at the hands of the US military without exacting payment in return? And so another of America’s Great Gatsby wars whimpers to its desultory conclusion:

    “They were careless people, Tom and Daisy—they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.” ― F. Scott Fitzgerald

  2. Gene,
    There was a name out of the past…BIL!
    Karzai is alive today because of the US and was made a very wealthy man by the CIA. It is time he start paying us a fine for every time he opens his yap. I agree with nick that anyone with a cape, (other than Batman!) can’t be trusted.
    Great job David.

  3. What do you expect when 2 demons do business together? More taxpayer money down the rabbit hole.

  4. You have to admire Karzai’s bravado almost as much as you are disgusted by him. He is his own caricature and we’ve been backing this guy and paying him off for yours. Bring the troops home now and tell him to shove his fees.

  5. Thanks for the interesting format example, Michael. The nesting seven deep worked fairly well there and his column width was less than ours. I’ll keep it in mind when exploring the options.

    You should know though that we do have a set of persistent paid professional trolls here. They are from Breitbart’s shop. They even stepped out from behind the curtain at one point to offer a job to a poster, Buddha Is Laughing, who was causing them utter misery by continually exposing their techniques. GTF has made custom answers to specific inquiry before, so I tend to doubt ‘bot, although troll pasting machine generated gibberish is a scenario I’d buy.

  6. It turns out that it was not DogTheMother who sent that comment here under the name GodTheFather. So, it was not a Poodle.

  7. Yeah, we will monitor who uses our computer and which dogs get on our Dogalogue Machine from now on. GodTheFather was mostly Poodle but is part Airdale.

  8. DogTheMother showed up here last night and started barking in some lingo which no dog could understand. I think that she got onto our Dogalogue Machine after we all went to bed and sent in that apCray above under the name GodTheFather. It is a poodle and sometimes they go nuts. We kicked her outta the dogpac this morning.

  9. Michael,

    Sorry! Unless he’s violated one of the rules noted above, I can’t do that. We really do try to keep the speech as free as possible. I say this as someone who would, if left to my own personal preference, do so and consider simply banning him for being disruptive.

  10. Michael,

    I’ll look into the functionality of WordPress and see what our options are on that front. Ultimately though, the choice for such a fundamental structural change would rest with our host. While I do love and respect our host as a friend and scholar, I will say he’s somewhat reluctant when it comes to suggestions to change the blog format that have been made in the past. It’s pretty much the same way it was when we all arrived here. I’ve even offered to do the grunt work myself. 😀

    But I will look into it.

    Proper recursive threading could help, but I think he’d frown upon anything that has an automatic (or very low) threshold for hiding related comments.

    Thanks for the suggestion.

    1. Gene: We can “talk” off line now or ever if you’d like (to keep the thread clean!)

      in the meantime:
      Re threading : see David Simons blog site for an example of how it could work. He uses wordpress as well.

      re god the father : this certainly is not a matter of free speech. Unlike the original provocation that OScribe responded to, – which at least was likely entered by someone – this one is likely just computer generated spam post. I get them all the time on the few blogs I administer.

      You wont be violating any “rules” to kill it. Or, perhaps, you need to add a rule to your rule set that says you must, at a bare minimum at least reference some point, however tangentially, relevant to the main point of the post. At least a segue of some sort.

      Anyway… your call. I’ll not press it any further.


  11. @gene… .and… still, If you have the authority, I’d still advocate for deleting god the father, as horrible as that sounds … This is one of those spam posts it seems to me.

  12. Michael B.,

    We have the technology to make this a fully moderated forum and to deal with problem posters on a case by case basis, but the model our host prefers is essentially self-moderating; the marketplace of ideas as informed by free speech. This means we do have to put up with a certain amount of trollery and nonsense like the purposefully disruptive posts of GOD THE FATHER as in the example above which add nothing to the conversation and only serve to break the eye (and line of thought) to those reading the comments. If we had full moderation, posts like HIS would surely get HIM banned as it does on most sites.

    However, that being said, sometimes a conversation on thread simply wanders without being highjacked or disrupted. In fact, some of the best conversations found on this blog are the result of meandering conversation.

    But in the case of trollery, unless they do something like break persistently break the civility rule by ad hominem attacks, threatens people with violence, incites violence, exposes personal information about other posters (anonymous political free speech is protected both by law and blog policy) or highjack another poster’s identity, then they are left to have their say. It is up to members of the community to corral them and keep the subject on track.

    Thanks for the offer of assistance though and for the note of concern about disruptive posters. It has been noted and we appreciate all such feedback on the readability and utility of the blog.

    1. Gene:
      Thanks for the reply. Ok… I suppose…

      I wonder if you have ever thought of changing the structure of the comment section to a threaded form, where comments and replies are kept together, rather than being simply added in a time sequence linear way?

      It would go some distance to addressing this issue of “cranks”, maintaining the various threads of thought, while keeping the openness you speak of intact.

      Again thanks. Onward and moving on.

      The offer stands as needed.

  13. @Otteray Scribe or @JT

    Here I was about to head out on the day and saw a new post…The one above… As if to make my point.

    Lets delete this crap eh?

    Anyone managing this stuff?

  14. dam-it, benny, if i were to tell any one sports game in advance, that would be a script to include every move that one would do, think or do other wise and if the player made one mistake. not to mention those who would say some thing from the fans cathing it and how he scered up his move, thus changing-ing the game, not to mention the fact that the person(s) should be home or at work, and all the whatif’s when they get home and what would happen just from the game… thus changing all the new the news, and having to go the different courses, and bringing it back to the game -explained over, and over, again, again, and agian and getting older trying to expain a game that never gets corrected. things change in their lives from one attempt to the next to become perfect, and the game will always fail do to outside intervention of all the exterenal things such as temperture, wind, sun, sun angoles, the score is now different, the fans attitudes have chainjed and are now ups(AGAIN THE COMPUTER ISN’T FUNCTION PROPERLY TO POST. SOME TIMES IT TAKES HOURSA TO DO WHAT CAN BE DONEIN MINUTES. even when I use the mouse and keys. sio benny theire is the truth you won the script but not thte prophecies. so what have you learned. that “I” can still post some thing and the people now know that something verystrange is happening like you wanted BENNY HINN. benny hinn in caps so they know his name like he wanted to show off his abilitease and wants to lead jesus in a war against the antichrist and jesus to worship benny hinn after the war …) so I’ll try the enter button again.)et, or for something else. a different day the fans have changed seats, and so on, and on, and… so they are always looking to the prediction, and fail because you add more, and more confusion to the prcess the te
    much like the story about the pilgram, and the turkey that was trans gender and ended up with THE NAME of tom. ben franklin lost the arguement about the name of the national birds name( ) and it became the national bird today. so have have fun trying to find it in nostradamus.
    (I just hit the return button to right this and the computer wull not go back to the bottom of the page so : you should hear the pleas from every one that can hear us talking because this goes on the button signoff, because benny does not know how to control himself and will never learn…) (thatis why this is such mess again)
    … I wanted to be out sunning my buns today. so lets talk about yours and how the crew said, they will watch their weight when they get older.
    …knowing that benny can’t explain where the cameras are, that are not in his rooms, bedroom, shower, or when he is walking down the street from any of the various angles. like right now you are interupting my medatations to talk to the computer so it functions on it’s own and the crews still functionnormally. so benny what is your awesome power that you want me to explain to the wolrd when you have not told them that you say: God i know that this food isnt very good but at least your eating something.
    : and Satan was waiting decades for me to go to a place and get my favorite seafood dish, which he can taste what i eat…
    , he sees what I see and sometimes says that’s her. then mom will say tell Him more satan, satan will say she has a tatoo that you can’t see and you don’t like it.

    you do anything to interupt me… like when satan says thankyou… when jesu says some thing you say jesus, jesus its’s me
    …it says that I would have to learn everything in meditation so I walk into a room and accidentaly short out all the computers, or walk through a parking lot and move and see the flash my self and every one looking at me I just turned around and looked to see where I went and they all went about there business on a bright sunny day notknowing that I did some that I did not want to. so benn yt this isd going up with the errors knowing that the proper things are recorded earlier on the crews computers ( and benny just said shit) in what was orinally planned on whatwas to be posted on how he interfears to scare GOD.
    for those that are wondering if there are notes kept on spellings the answer is yes, but they are very few

  15. ps. to make a clarification: I don’t feel this thread is an example (yet?) of having been co-opted. Just this one discordant post you picked up on. The posts thus far seem to be on point, or/and have some good wit about them.

  16. @Otteray Scribe 1, July 20, 2013 at 12:33 pm

    supersonic747, could you possibly be any more off topic with your repeated threadjacking?
    I agree. And I was going to post some pushback along the lines you did here. But then was overcome with the futility of it having tried in other threads. Like punching tar baby.
    In some contradiction to some exchanges you and I shared when I first found this board, it seems the threads are easily co-opted by various degrees of irrelevance, and sometimes, as in this case, and on other threads like the “Carter” one earlier in the week it simply careens into near complete non sequitur nonsense.

    Glad to see you pop up again. Is there anything to be done about this? You seem to be something of a leader on this blog…Maybe you have some influence?

    I can see how this could be so much better a “town hall”, and even more important voice contending with the salient issues of the day. But it is getting increasingly hard to weed thru the comments like sonic747 to get to the good stuff.

    ps. I’d lend some technical assistance to the process if that would be of use/value.


  17. The US pulls out and karzai is overthrown…

    Sic semper saccularius

  18. We need more scenes like this one. Bring them home. It is time. It is way past time.

  19. would it be surprising if the corporation gave asylum to karzai while labeling snowden a traitor and terrorist ?

    we are talking about the corporation that instigated every war and terrorist attack for their own benefit of either forcing a country to bow to the corporations demands or to rip a countries natural resources out. karzais usefulness is over and so is his life. had he been smart he would have done some deep research into LINCOLN, RFK,JFK, MLK, and all others who were determined to stand in the way of the elites. and put a end to their so called world domination…

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