What are we doing in Afghanistan?

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    Jun 23, 2010 10:55 PM GMT
    I'm pretty surprised no one has posted on this yet. General McChrystal was fired today over comments he and his entourage made in a Rolling Stone article, http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/17390/119236?RS_show_page=5. I think the comments were egregiously unprofessional and Obama did good in removing the General and I'm interested to hear what others think. More importantly though, this article raises serious questions about the war itself, questions much bigger than any one person. The author seems to think Afghanistan isn't win-able. More over, McChrystal's comments suggest he may very well agree. What do you guys think? Can we "win" in Afghanistan? At this point, what does winning even mean? I've generally supported this war; I think we went over for the right reasons and I thought we could do some good in the country. Now I'm not so sure. Is it time to get the hell out of Afghanistan?
  • Webster666

    Posts: 9217

    Jun 23, 2010 11:50 PM GMT
    McChrystal was correct. He was not given enough troops to win. But, then, there is nothing to win. That said, military men are not allowed to dis the Commander in Chief, in public.

    We should have continued bombing Tora Bora waaaaaaaaay back in (was it) 2001, until Osama bin Laden was dead. Then, we should have turned around and gone home.

    Still, today, that is what we should do: kill Osama bin Laden, and go home.

    Being in Afghanistan, where the government is in bed with the Taliban, is a worthless effort.

    Being in Iraq, where feuding factions will have at each other as soon as we leave, will end up with another dictator or a Taliban run government.

    All this will end just like it ended in Viet Nam, with a whimper.

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    Jun 24, 2010 12:09 AM GMT
    I tend to agree with that. There aren't enough resources in Afghanistan particularly, as McChrystal suggests, on the civilian front. Karzai's regime is a huge problem and the money we keep throwing at him to "win over hearts and minds" will probably continue to backfire until the problem of widespread corruption gets some very serious attention.

    Look at what's happening in Pakistan right now though. There are almost daily drone attacks there, and one effect has been widespread increased support of the Taliban among the Pakistani population. Kinda seems like we're screwed no matter what we do.
  • calibro

    Posts: 8888

    Jun 24, 2010 1:08 AM GMT
    winning in afghanistan is like trying to get a gay guy to sleep with a woman. even if it does happen, what was the point?
  • barriehomeboy

    Posts: 2475

    Jun 24, 2010 1:54 AM GMT
    You started it! Canada is only there, with tons of dead soldiers, because we followed your army in there to go get Osama. Then you fucked off to Iraq to get the oil and left us and the other allies to fight a war no western nation can win. Not that I'm bitter or anything.
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    Jun 24, 2010 2:09 AM GMT
    Our enemies know what to do to win this war: Wait it out. Americans will get tired of the fighting and will go home.

    Many politicians and brassheads have been blinded into thinking that peace can only come with the barrel of a gun. The military can only do so much against fanatical Islam. MUCH more is needed...and perhaps history will show that these military conflicts caused more harm that good....
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    Jun 24, 2010 2:19 AM GMT
    Webster666 saidAll this [the wars in Iraq & Afghanistan) will end just like it ended in Viet Nam, with a whimper.

    I fear you are correct. Which is why we should never have gone there in the first place, or if we did, pursued the real enemy more aggressively from day one.

    What Obama is dealing with today are the consequences of wars badly chosen and poorly managed, which has made their successful termination more difficult, if not impossible. Those of us who were, or are, career military knew at the onset that this was a disaster in the making. The military colleges I attended told us what a folly a war in that region would be, how the former Soviets had been defeated there, what fools they had been, how waging war there was bound to be a losing proposition.

    But still the neo-cons in the Bush Administration dragged us into this mess. It might have been better if at least some of them had military training as senior officers leading troops and formally studying tactics & strategy, rather than merely being students of right-wing political ideology. Such is the legacy that Obama and his administration must deal with today.
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    Jun 24, 2010 2:20 AM GMT
    The first casualty in all war is truth.

    The war in Afghanistan has nothing to do with 9/11; it was planned in advance of 9/11 and was set to take place in the summer of 2001. In fact, the orders to declare a world wide war against 'al-Qaeda' was drafted and on President Bush's desk two days prior to 9/11
    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/4587368/

    Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Central Asia and the Caspian was opened up for the first time in nearly half a century to economic exploitation. The Caspian region holds the majority of the world's supplies of natural gas, which is expected to surpass oil as a geopolitical necessity in controlling.

    The war on Afghanistan is about exerting a strong military presence in the Caspian region to control the pipeline politics of the region and exert hegemony over its vast resources and transportation routes.

    Throughout history, Afghanistan has been a graveyard of empires; first for the British in the 19th century, and then the Russians in the 80s, who were enticed to go into Russia by the Americans, who were covertly supporting the Mujahideen through Pakistan (and its intelligence agency, the ISI), in an effort to destabilize and replace the progressive socialist Afghan government with one more suited to western interests. Thus, the west subsequently supported and financed the Taliban to create a state of order. When the Taliban failed to do so, the west aimed again at regime change.

    We are not there to liberate or spread democracy, we are there to dominate and subjugate.

    The only rational policy is one of withdrawal.
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    Jun 24, 2010 2:39 AM GMT
    MeOhMy saidThe first casualty in all war is truth.

    The war in Afghanistan has nothing to do with 9/11; it was planned in advance of 9/11 and was set to take place in the summer of 2001. In fact, the orders to declare a world wide war against 'al-Qaeda' was drafted and on President Bush's desk two days prior to 9/11
    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/4587368/


    Now, why would we want to hunt down al-Qaeda?

    Perhaps because of what happened to the USS Cole and the US embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania?
  • wellwell

    Posts: 2265

    Jun 24, 2010 3:00 AM GMT
    MeOhMy saidThe first casualty in all war is truth.


    Truth, among-other-things, is the conformity of cognition to reality. I estimate, the General & his staff were completely truthful; albeit, blunt and unprofessional (and perhaps; utterly heroic)-
    ...That is far more than I expect from this administration.

    Someone mentioned "un-winnable;" I hope the General's message is accepted by whatever's left of the anti-war crowd. He's telling us he is one of us!
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    Jun 24, 2010 3:06 AM GMT
    conscienti1984 said
    MeOhMy saidThe first casualty in all war is truth.

    The war in Afghanistan has nothing to do with 9/11; it was planned in advance of 9/11 and was set to take place in the summer of 2001. In fact, the orders to declare a world wide war against 'al-Qaeda' was drafted and on President Bush's desk two days prior to 9/11
    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/4587368/

    Now, why would we want to hunt down al-Qaeda?

    Perhaps because of what happened to the USS Cole and the US embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania?

    I would agree that al-Qaeda, and their Taliban supporters in Afghanistan. were and are appropriate targets for the US. But how does that explain Iraq? Except as fulfilling a neo-con theory that toppling Saddam, under any pretext, would result in a flowering of democracy that would spread throughout the Middle East?

    'Cept that ain't what happened, did it? The neo-cons were expecting a purely political response to toppling Saddam, and totally discounted cultural forces in Iraq. That's what happens when you believe the rest of the world thinks like Americans do, except that they wear funny clothes and don't speak English. Just give them the opportunity and they'll all turn into Western capitalists overnight, maybe even Christians, and love the US with a passion. So sayeth the neo-cons. icon_rolleyes.gif
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    Jun 24, 2010 3:08 AM GMT
    No, we can't "win". It's time to leave, as people have said, the second we leave it's just going to go back to the way it was before...
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    Jun 24, 2010 4:31 AM GMT
    barriehomeboy saidYou started it! Canada is only there, with tons of dead soldiers, because we followed your army in there to go get Osama. Then you fucked off to Iraq to get the oil and left us and the other allies to fight a war no western nation can win. Not that I'm bitter or anything.


    Well, I give our troops, Canadians in general and our government a little more credit than that. I like to think, naively perhaps, that we are there for better reasons than just sucking up.

    There is a lot of good stuff happening on the ground in Afghanistan - where the allied forces are working with the local people to bring the basics back into their communities, simple things like clean water for drinking and irrigation. In communities where there is nothing the Taliban are free to come in and impose their reign of terror and intimidation. Where communities have hope and see improvement in their lives they turn away from the Taliban. Its not about whupping their ass - well it is - but the key is giving the locals the tools and resources and the will to do that themselves.

    The war can be won! It is going to take more troops, some of whom will not come home. I know it sounds like the Vietnam rhetoric all over again, but I truly believe the notion that Afghanistan is a sort of tipping point. If the west is fine with abandoning the region to radical Islam and imagines that will be contained in the region - then walk away.
  • ATLANTIS7

    Posts: 1213

    Jun 24, 2010 5:15 AM GMT
    l think a General knows more about War than Obama?
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    Jun 24, 2010 5:51 AM GMT
    Wilton said
    conscienti1984 said
    MeOhMy saidThe first casualty in all war is truth.

    The war in Afghanistan has nothing to do with 9/11; it was planned in advance of 9/11 and was set to take place in the summer of 2001. In fact, the orders to declare a world wide war against 'al-Qaeda' was drafted and on President Bush's desk two days prior to 9/11
    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/4587368/

    Now, why would we want to hunt down al-Qaeda?

    Perhaps because of what happened to the USS Cole and the US embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania?

    I would agree that al-Qaeda, and their Taliban supporters in Afghanistan. were and are appropriate targets for the US. But how does that explain Iraq? Except as fulfilling a neo-con theory that toppling Saddam, under any pretext, would result in a flowering of democracy that would spread throughout the Middle East?

    'Cept that ain't what happened, did it? The neo-cons were expecting a purely political response to toppling Saddam, and totally discounted cultural forces in Iraq. That's what happens when you believe the rest of the world thinks like Americans do, except that they wear funny clothes and don't speak English. Just give them the opportunity and they'll all turn into Western capitalists overnight, maybe even Christians, and love the US with a passion. So sayeth the neo-cons. icon_rolleyes.gif


    It doesn't explain Iraq...it doesn't explain a lot of things. My comment was directed towards MeOhMy's misleading statements... the statements I quoted.

    Why were we gonna go after al-Qaeda in 2001? Well the USS Cole was bombed in Oct 2000 and the embassies in Aug 1998. My statements are not met to support the Bush-Cheney wars... nor do I think the war on terror can be won with a gun.
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    Jun 24, 2010 5:57 AM GMT
    BodrumBoy saidl think a General knows more about War than Obama?


    Perhaps... but Obama is getting advice from lots of people (yes, even other generals!) Anyway, history has shown us time and time again that certain military leaders need to be restrained or at least... kept 'in-check.' I wouldn't want a president who allowed brassheads to do whatever they wanted.

    A great example is the Cuban Missile Crisis--who knows what would have happened if JFK would have blindly followed the advice of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
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    Jun 24, 2010 7:46 AM GMT
    I agree with the poster above me, that al-Qaeda and the Taliban are legitimate NATO targets. They were before 9/11 and they still are today. Of course there's a great irony in that - as someone already mentioned, it was the CIA during the 70s and early 80s that covertly gave assistance to the people who eventually formed the al-Qaeda network.

    Unfortunately, that same type of bullshit is going on today. The New York Times broke a story a while back on President Karzai's younger brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai. Apparently the younger one is even more corrupt than the older and, guess what... he's paid off by the CIA, has been since the war began. The Times article, Ahmed Wali Karzai, suggests that some of the money going to fund the corrupt brother freely flows into Taliban coffers. Maybe one lesson we can (finally) take away from Afghanistan: stop propping up corrupt mother fuckers. Just a thought.
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    Jun 24, 2010 8:33 AM GMT
    There is a difference between soldiers on the ground and the Pentagon military high command. Generals are political creatures, and the ones that get ahead are those that play at Washington's political game.

    The passage of the 1947 National Security Act created the National Security Council (NSC), an 'independent' agency to provide an 'alternative voice' on foreign policy to that of the State Department. The head of the NSC is the National Security Adviser (NSA), a position of immense influence, and where cabinet appointments must be approved by the Senate, the NSA is exempted. The National Security Act of 1947 also created the CIA, to run clandestine US foreign policy; as well as creating the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the military high command within the Pentagon. The Act effectively created the American National Security State, a nation at a constant state of war.

    Through the Eisenhower administration, the Dulles brothers effectively dictated American foreign policy, with John Foster Dulles as Secretary of State and Allen Dulles as CIA Director. When Kennedy came in, Allen Dulles stayed on, whom Kennedy fired after the failed Bay of Pigs invasion. In 2007, David Talbott published "Brothers: The Hidden History of the Kennedy Years," in which he undertook a detailed examination of how from the beginning of JFK's administration in 1961, he battled the National Security apparatus, particularly the Joint Chiefs and the CIA, who were constantly pushing for war - against Cuba, Vietnam and the Soviet Union. The military and intelligence establishment was in revolt against the JFK administration, who refused to let them run and determine foreign policy. With the assassination of JFK, and later his brother, as well as Martin Luther King - the political lynchings of the 1960s - the message was clear: do not fight the National Security establishment.

    In 1962, the US Joint Chiefs of Staff had even approved of a covert operation aimed at getting the US to go to war against Cuba. The plan, which was in recent years declassified, is known as "Operation Northwoods." ABC News, reporting on the declassified document, wrote that: "In the early 1960s, America's top military leaders reportedly drafted plans to kill innocent people and commit acts of terrorism in U.S. cities to create public support for a war against Cuba."

    The plans "included the possible assassination of Cuban émigrés, sinking boats of Cuban refugees on the high seas, hijacking planes, blowing up a U.S. ship, and even orchestrating violent terrorism in U.S. cities," as they "were developed as ways to trick the American public and the international community into supporting a war to oust Cuba's then new leader, communist Fidel Castro." Further: "America's top military brass even contemplated causing U.S. military casualties, writing: "We could blow up a U.S. ship in Guantanamo Bay and blame Cuba," and, "casualty lists in U.S. newspapers would cause a helpful wave of national indignation."
    http://abcnews.go.com/US/story?id=92662&page=1

    Through Johnson, the generals got their war in Vietnam. In Nixon, they found an old friend (who was central to the National Security apparatus as Eisenhower's Vice President). Henry Kissinger, who held the dual role of Secretary of State and National Security Adviser, was in effective control of US foreign policy, turning the Nixon administration into what Vanity Fair referred to as "The Kissinger Presidency."
    http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2007/05/kissinger200705

    The Ford administration saw the emergence of the neoconservatives, with the entry into White House politics and foreign policy by Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney and George Bush Sr. The Carter administration brought Zbigniew Brzezinski in as National Security Adviser, who became the most prominent voice on foreign policy within the government, and who had directed the initial financing of the mujahideen in Afghanistan to "induce the Soviets to invade" in order to "give them their Vietnam."
    http://www.hartford-hwp.com/archives/27c/467.html

    Both Brzezinski and Kissinger have remained constant powerful voices of the foreign policy establishment in the United States, and always with very close ties to those who hold the positions of official power within the National Security Council.

    The Reagan years saw the exposure of the brutal realities of the complex nature of the National Security State with the Iran-Contra Affair, which involved covert US foreign policy run out of the National Security Council in which America secretly smuggled weapons to the new leaders in Iran, the proceeds of which were then funneled into supporting the contras in Nicaragua, essentially terrorists and death squads who massacred thousands of innocent civilians.



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    Jun 24, 2010 8:34 AM GMT
    Through Bush, Clinton and Bush, the National Security apparatus grew in influence and power. With the Obama administration, it was reported that the National Security Adviser would be given the position of influence within the administration akin to that held by Henry Kissinger in the Nixon administration, as Obama was selecting General James L. Jones to be National Security Adviser, and "is considering expanding the scope of the job to give the adviser the kind of authority once wielded by powerful figures such as Henry A. Kissinger."
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/11/21/AR2008112103981.html

    This would be a change from the Bush jr. years, where the National Security Adviser lost out in influence to the Pentagon (under Rumsfeld) and Vice President Cheney, until 2006, when Rumsfeld was replaced with Robert Gates as Secretary of Defense, who aligned himself with Rice as Secretary of State to roll back the influence of Cheney. Gates was kept on as Secretary of Defense in the Obama administration.
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/11/18/AR2008111803422.html

    Henry Kissinger wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post where he praised Obama's National Security team, and in particular, General James Jones.
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/12/04/AR2008120402863.html

    General James Jones, within weeks of the Obama administration taking power, spoke at a Security Conference in Munich, and said, "As the most recent National Security Advisor of the United States, I take my daily orders from Dr. Kissinger, filtered down through Generaal Brent Scowcroft and Sandy Berger, who is also here. We have a chain of command in the National Security Council that exists today."
    http://www.cfr.org/publication/18515/remarks_by_national_security_adviser_jones_at_45th_munich_conference_on_security_policy.html

    Obama even merged the Homeland Security Council into the National Security Council, giving it an incredibly powerful influence over not only foreign, but domestic policy.
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/05/26/AR2009052603148.html

    The National Security Council (NSC) under Obama is "a very powerful NSC" and General "Jones declared that Obama's NSC would be "dramatically different" from its predecessors, in terms of enhanced power and government-wide coordinating authority across a larger group of federal agencies involved in the modern national security project."
    http://thecable.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2009/02/10/james_l_jones_and_the_committee_to_run_the_world
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/02/07/AR2009020702076.html?hpid=topnews

    According to the State Department's Special Envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke, General Jones "has served as an important filter between the president and the military," especially in regards to Afghan policy.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/07/us/07jones.html

    General Stanley McChrystal, on the other hand, while FAR from being "one of us" (as one forum posted postulated), is rather of a different breed of foreign policy thinkers, and is a hold-over from the Bush years. During the Bush administration, McChrystal ran the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), which "is the military's most secretive branch (many of its components are still not officially acknowledged to exist), charged with its most secretive missions — identifying, tracking, killing, or capturing and interrogating the highest-level members of Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups. That it does so in conjunction with the CIA, DIA, FBI, and other intelligence agencies only makes JSOC's task more sensitive."

    Read more: http://www.esquire.com/the-side/feature/who-is-stanley-mcchrystal-051909#ixzz0rkxv2W97

    Pulitzer Prize winning investigative journalist Seymour Hersh gave a speech in which he revealed that, "former US vice-president Dick Cheney headed a secret assassination wing that targeted America's enemies abroad." That unit was JSOC, then under the command of General Stanley McChrystal. This "assassination squad" was "not just in Iraq and Afghanistan, it's in a lot of other countries, in the Middle East and in South Asia and North Africa and even central America."
    http://gulfnews.com/news/region/palestinian-territories/you-can-t-authorise-murder-hersh-1.68504

    Near the end of the first year of the Obama administration, the Special Operations Chiefs in the Pentagon were gaining increased influence with Obama on foreign policy, and they were intricately connected with General Stanley McChrystal.
    http://washingtonindependent.com/67136/special-operations-chiefs-quietly-sway-afghanistan-policy

    Jones himself, is closely allied in foreign policy with Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert Gates.
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/02/07/AR2009020702076_2.html?hpid=topnews

    What likely took place, was a rift between the National Security Council as the principle source for foreign policy decision making, and other "back channels" that were so prominent in the Bush administration, such as those between Cheney and McChrystal. As McChrystal was gaining influence, he became arrogant and took the internal divisions within the White House and exposed them to the public. For this, McChrystal is being hung out to dry.

    So, like in all administrations, there are great divisions and power struggles for who will control foreign policy. It seems that in the Obama administration, that position is taken by the National Security Council.
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    Jun 24, 2010 8:45 AM GMT
    conscienti1984 said
    BodrumBoy saidl think a General knows more about War than Obama?


    Perhaps... but Obama is getting advice from lots of people (yes, even other generals!) Anyway, history has shown us time and time again that certain military leaders need to be restrained or at least... kept 'in-check.' I wouldn't want a president who allowed brassheads to do whatever they wanted.

    A great example is the Cuban Missile Crisis--who knows what would have happened if JFK would have blindly followed the advice of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.



    Taking a step back and looking at the grand scheme of things - pulling out of Afghanistan entirely is like leaving the construction of a building with a weak foundation; it'll eventually collapse. Yes, I agree taking McChrystal's resignation was a good thing but that's because as a general, breaking regulation and showing little discipline is why several soldiers are incompetent and unprofessional - officers make the standards, set the standards, and live the standards. No exceptions should be made, even for a general. And since when did Rolling Stone start doing hard-hitting political journalism? I think it's crazy.

    Back to the U.S. stance on the war in the middle east, globally - we (as in the U.S. military) are still in several countries providing humanitarian services. We are still in South Korea, although combat in Korea ended over 50 years ago. The United States, by default, has had a reputation of committing to stay in countries where American forces have fought in order to re-stabilize governments, establish peace and maintain order. Why? Because no other country wants to get their hands dirty. The U.S. was staying out of WWII until the attacks at Pearl Harbor. As a country, we've learned that we have to take care of our interests in order to be able to take care of ourselves. We have little support from our allies because they feel it is our problem - but let's say the UK was attacked, who would most likely be their strongest ally - providing the most support and resources? Does each country have to wait to be attacked on their own soil before they realize it's a global problem and not an American one? We are there for everyone - if Canada were to be attacked (which is frankly unfathomable), U.S. forces would be there with full support and military resources. But when we ask for support... we've learned that since we are the ones who started it, we are the ones who must finish it? Got it.

    Although some people are quick to come up with the reasons why the United States decided to invade Iraq and Afghanistan and that our true intentions were that to control valuable resources, and install a "western regime" to allow for easier regulation of the oil ALL at the ultimate cost of innocent blood shed, is by-far the most irrational explanation I've heard yet. Terrorism has been a problem for centuries but was only a concern for the world when 9/11 occurred. It showed the world that no one is free from this threat - that it can happen even to you.

    Frankly, that should be reason enough to take military action against a known problem that has been relatively put on the back burner for years. No one thought it was worth our time and resources, no one thought it was important enough. Once we committed to engaging in combat operations, we committed in keeping a presence in the middle east for years to come. You cannot just leave a country like Afghanistan or Iraq at this stage - it is reckless and irresponsible. American commanders are taking care of the situation as best as they can, this is unlike a war any country has fought before - there are no more "front lines" where the good guys are on one side and the bad guys on the opposite. The enemy is no longer clearly marked with red coats. How do you fight an enemy with no face? Road side bombs and random killings - innocent blood shed all at the cost of oil? Sounds ridiculous to me.

    It all comes down to doing what is just - how is justice accomplished in a situation like the one we're in now? Since there are several experts out there, you honestly believe that if things were that simple to solve... that these military masterminds wouldn't have already tried these proposed quick fix solutions?

    How do you define justice when the people you fight don't play by the same rules?
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    Jun 24, 2010 10:04 AM GMT
    We must leave that place immediately.

    That's all.