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. so what else can we expect from our so called ally who is a rotten corrupt drug dealer. Let us hope that when we finally leave Pakistan this miserable scum gets the same treatment as Khadafi.

  2. From A People’s History of the United States, 1492-Present, by Howard Zinn (2005):

    “From 1964 to 1972, the wealthiest and most powerful nation in the history of the world made a maximum military effort, with everything short of atomic bombs, to defeat a nationalist revolutionary movement in a tiny, peasant country – and failed. When the United States fought in Vietnam, it was organized modern technology versus organized human beings, and the human beings won.”

    “In fact, the United States lost the war in both the Mekong Valley and the Mississippi Valley. It was the first defeat to the global American empire formed after World War II. It was administered by revolutionary peasants abroad, and by an astonishing movement of protest at home.”

    Actually, the American empire had already experienced defeat in its failed attempt to intervene in China and its stalemated cease-fire in Korea and in the First Indochina War (supporting the French attempted reconquest of their former colonies). What Americans prefer to call the Vietnam War, represented to the Vietnamese only their Second Indochina War, or their second post-WWII struggle for national independence, while for the American empire, it represented the fourth in a series of defeats – until Iraq and Afghanistan which mark at least the fifth and sixth such defeats.

    If insanity means doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results, then the “Defeat is Victory” military/corporate government of the United States qualifies as certifiably insane.

  3. David Drumm, if 1,000 dollars is the final is the final shakedown, I will pay double taxes and pay 2,000 dollars. This is and has been senseless.
    How much is sense worth. ????

    I will cynically say, sense is priceless, /, … unless somebody can make HUGE bucks off senselessness. .. OOPs,… lots of people do.


  4. gene, an apt musical comment. 🙂

    Raf, lol, no. H.R. haldeman, who was it he was related to?…..

  5. Michael Murry,

    One of the most heartbreaking books I ever read was “The Forever War” by Joe Haldeman, a Vietnam vet. I am of that generation so a book like The Forever War was as much a comment on current events as science fiction. One of the small but historically resonant details brought out in the book was that due to time dilation, when the earth forces engaged the alien forces the alien forces had advanced weapons but the earth forces had not. The earth forces were always fighting the previous battles while the aliens were always fighting from the future of weapons and tactics.

    I think of that often now as we adapt ourselves to shoe bombers when shoe bombers are a past that the aliens/others shall not revisit. So much lost to fight past battles while time and ‘the enemy’ has moved on. Such stupidity and waste. We have seemingly not learned a thing.

    I didn’t read “The Fire in the Lake” but did read “The Jewel in the Lotus”. We were lost as we stepped of the planes, as were the French. Jesus! will we never learn?

  6. Next up we have a long distance dedication. From Hill in D.C. to her buddy Hammy in Pakistan. She writes, “Hammy, you know I love you, but if you want to sail that ship by yourself, you’re welcome to try.” It’s Jay Feguson with his hit “Shakedown Cruise” here on Turley Tunes . . .

  7. “[W]e occasionally have had posters that have ‘scattered’ or oblique thought and writing patterns.”

    I see your ability for understatement is alive and flourishing, LK. :mrgreen:

  8. OS at 10:30am- Right, good posting. BS unless he wants to push the matter.

    Michael B, we occasionally have had posters that have ‘scattered’ or oblique thought and writing patterns. They’re not all trolls. Deleting a posting that doesn’t break the rules is generally verboten. That’s what the scroll wheel is for.

    Helen Thomas, RIP.

  9. From the blackest of despair and with blame to be spread to all parties I recall the line from a popular play and movie: “Will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest?”

  10. MM,
    Fire in the Lake was a great read. I read that in college or shortly thereafter. It is amazing how little we have learned from our own mistakes in countless “police actions” overseas.

  11. From something we had to read back at Counter Insurgency School in 1969, before enduring eight months of Vietnamese language training and then shipping out to the butt end of an already lost war in Southeast Asia.

    Street Without Joy: the French Debacle in Indochina (1961)

    Chapter 15: The Future of Revolutionary War

    “Why is it that we must use top-notch elite forces, the cream of the crop of American, British, French, or Australian commando and special warfare schools; armed with the very best that advanced technology can provide; to defeat the Viet-Minh, Algerians, or Malay “CT’s” [Chinese Terrorists], almost none of whom can lay claim to similar expert training and only in the rarest of cases to equality in fire power?

    The answer is very simple: It takes all the technical proficiency our system can provide to make up for the woeful lack of popular support and political savvy of most of the regimes that the West has thus far sought to prop up. The Americans who are now fighting in South Vietnam have come to appreciate this fact out of first-hand experience.”

    “… just about anybody can start a “little war” (which the Spanish word guerrilla literally means), even a New York street gang. Almost anybody can raid somebody else’s territory, even American territory, as Pancho Villa did in 1916 or the Nazi saboteurs in 1942. No dictator has ever been totally safe from an assassin’s bullet. But all this has only rarely produced the kind of revolutionary ground swell which simply swept away the existing system of government.

    Conversely, once such a revolutionary movement exists, whether fanned from the outside or created out of internal pressures alone, it is difficult to suppress with the help of military specialists alone – particularly foreign specialists.”

    “… guerrilla warfare is nothing but a tactical appendage of a far vaster political contest and that, no matter how expertly it is fought by competent and dedicated professionals, it cannot possibly make up for the absence of a political rationale. A dead Special Forces sergeant is not spontaneously replaced by his own social environment. A dead revolutionary usually is.”

    The United States political and military “leadership” will never get this because their pointless, ticket punching careers depend on them not ever getting it. But in the end, this always comes to pass.

  12. The (desperately hopeful) adjective “final” before the noun in the thread subject heading reminds me of that movie Final Destination — now in its sixth sequel. To the best of my knowledge, Afghan President Hamid Karzai has never promised that he will not reprise this shakedown thing any number of times in the future, since it has obviously worked so predictably well in the past. Personally, I would have used the adjective “latest” as more reliably based on past experience and more likely to predict the immediate future.

  13. Michael B. & Gene,
    For a couple of days, I have suspected the commenter to which I responded upthread was either a bot, a deliberate thread hijacker, or somebody off their meds. Flights of ideas, non sequiturs, and general nonsensical comments unrelated to anything logical. Unlike some others, that one tends to be brief–so far. There are some discussion topics to which trolls seem more attracted to than others. Makes one go hmmmm…..

  14. it’s 27 minutes after the hour and benny still wants to be made famous beyound his knowledge. from when he did someting that he does not want to say. with some things between the others.

    benny, why do you interupt with the people playing slot machines in a place that i had to hitchhike to, and (not meant to be posted. but, benny just started his game to prove that he can save a world that has been dead and claims to control god so I have to make him look good for those he is about to preach to. when benny and patty said, dea
    rn in delta88),( the g.t.f. title this is the only place that I get the curser. benny I hope it suits your ego,and what was not done today. benny does not want Me to post a prophecy so he can leawd) and now the time that this is posted for few words that is a prophecy in The Bible, and nostradamus both.) and off to the button that benny is trying to learn how to interupt and say no deal to god)
    rn and you make them loose. when,”i, have no money, you want me to beg you for pennies!” (which I never do,”)some of those people are losing their life savings “today” when, all I was doing was try to get back in touch the universe, and the gospel says don’t ever bet against God. and these people were people were playing and started to interferrrr when they pushed the buttons. Benny what is your goal for your personal life, other than to tell the world how good you r,at screwing people, and then want it posted, you wanted and toyota. but to question what was written earlier today and say God iwant you to post more about satan hinn is extremely redone- did-it, while satan himself says,

  15. “In an interview with Pham Van Dong, one American asked the North Vietnamese foreign minister how he could call the Saigon government an “American puppet” when it acted with such consistency against American interests. “Ah,” replied the minister, “it’s a puppet, all right. It’s just a bad puppet.” — Frances Fitzgerald, Fire in the Lake: the Vietnamese and the Americans in Vietnam

    From Ngo Dinh Diem to Nguyen Van Thieu (and Chiang Kai Shek before them), with every lesson learned explicitly purged from the public memory, we now confront the humiliating spectacle of another of our bad puppets pulling our strings instead of us pulling his. As the F. Scott Fitzgerald put it in The Great Gatsby:

    “Can’t repeat the past?…Why of course you can!”

  16. “… war-linked leaders continue to exert enormous influence on the American people precisely by helping them avoid confronting the war’s unpleasant truths. … And the difficulty of that psychic task is further aggravated by the strange American situation of being able to annihilate but not defeat a tiny enemy.”

    — Robert J. Lifton, Home from the War: Vietnam Veterans, Neither Victims nor Executioners

    Lots of annihilating. Not so much defeating. Looks like another tiny enemy has given us the boot again.

    Another Catastrophic Success

    With their tails tucked proudly ‘tween their legs
    Advancing towards the exit march the dregs
    Of empire, whose retreat this question begs:
    No promised omelet, just the broken eggs?

    Michael Murry, “The Misfortune Teller,” Copyright 2011

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