The Lessons of 9/11: Twenty Years Later

I post this every year around 9/11, so here it is again with some revisions.

Today is the twentieth anniversary of 9/11. Here are a few of the lessons I’ve learned from two decades of perpetual warfare. I offer them somewhat dogmatically, as a mere laundry list (mostly) minus examples, but I have a feeling that the lessons will ring true enough for many people, and that most readers can supply appropriate examples of their own.

Continue reading

The JBMDL Afghan Account

I was sitting in my cubicle mid-day when an email with an odd subject line tumbled into my inbox: “JBMDL Afghan.” It was from a bona fide sender, so I opened it and took a look. It turned out to be an email from the director of financial services at a major hospital system, making reference to a new medical services “payor,” as we spell it in the trade. It was, in other words, the Joint Base McGuire Fort Dix Lakehurst Afghan payor, i.e., the payor of medical services for Afghan refugees housed at McGuire Air Force Base/Fort Dix Army facility in Lakehurst, New Jersey. Otherwise known as the US military.

Continue reading

Afghanistan: So Worth It

Frederick Kagan in The New York Times, on the fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban:

Reasonable people can disagree about the wisdom of keeping American military forces in Afghanistan indefinitely, even at very low numbers. I and others have argued that the investment, including the risk to American personnel, is worth it to prevent militant groups from once again overrunning the country.

Maybe, after Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya, it’s time to ask what it means when people say “it’s worth it” to fight wars. What’s worth what, to whom, how and why? Anyone who wants to go and fight for Kabul or Kandahar is free to go and give it another 20 years of their life, on the model of the Lincoln Brigades in the Spanish Civil War. But that doesn’t mean it’s worth another 20 years of ours.

Continue reading

AUMF 2001 and the Militarization of the American Mind

This article mostly chronicles good news, but one sentence in it deserves to be memorialized and savored for expressing the nonsensical essence of American foreign policy in 32 economical words.

“Unlike declarations of a major conflict like World War II, authorizations for use of force are typically intended for limited use for a specific mission or region like Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan.”

Continue reading

9/11 + 19: Lessons

I post this every year around 9/11, so here it is again with some revisions. Though it isn’t up yet, Chris Sciabarra’s annual 9/11 series is always worth reading, and like this post, goes up at midnight on 9/11

Today is the nineteenth anniversary of 9/11. Here are a few of the lessons I’ve learned from nearly two decades of perpetual warfare. I offer them somewhat dogmatically, as a mere laundry list (mostly) minus examples, but I have a feeling that the lessons will ring true enough for many people, and that most readers can supply appropriate examples of their own. Continue reading

Coronavirus Diary (31): The Dark Side of South Jersey

When all this is over–whatever that even means–I hope no one tells me that things like this never happened. I know how tedious it is to see another post on this much-belabored issue. But hard experience with the 9/11 celebration rumors taught me that if you don’t rigorously document something in real time, people will deny its existence after the fact. Actually, some will deny its existence as it’s happening, and others will deny its existence no matter how rigorously it’s documented. Unfortunately, not every disease has a cure. Continue reading

Giving the Devil His Due: Donald Trump and the Afghan War

I’m not a Satanist, but I do believe in fairness, so I don’t mind giving the Devil his due. The Devil in this case is Donald Trump, and his achievement is getting us out of Afghanistan. Or, well: signing a deal that if adhered-to, and if all goes well, will someday get us out of Afghanistan. I ended my 2008 review of Sarah Chayes’s The Punishment of Virtue: Inside Afghanistan After the Taliban like this:

To ‘keep trying’ to occupy and rebuild Afghanistan is to sacrifice lives and money on an ill-defined, increasingly pointless, and probably Sisyphean venture. A thousand lives and billions of dollars into that quest, we’re no closer to its completion than we were when we first started. That is as much a ‘punishment of virtue’ as anything Chayes describes. We’re entitled to ask when it will end.

We now have a better sense than we did a few days ago of “when it will end.” The answer is: some day. To paraphrase Metallica, the good news is that the light at the end of the tunnel may not be a freight train coming our way.  Continue reading

Putting Tulsi on the Ballot in New Jersey

Readers of this blog are well aware of my (some would say quixotic) support for Tulsi Gabbard in the 2020 presidential election. Below the video is an announcement for New Jersey residents from Paul Surovell, a volunteer for the Tulsi 2020 campaign in New Jersey. And yes, I’m going to keep posting Paul’s announcement here every week until we get Tulsi Gabbard on the ballot. Fight me. Or better yet, just sign the petition and you won’t have to.  

Continue reading