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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Third Response To "Afghanistan: The Forgotten Nightmare"

SEARCH BLOG: AFGHANISTAN.


This is the content of emails sent earlier this year to my congressman and senators for the state of Michigan:

I wish to express my concern regarding the present military tactics being employed in Afghanistan that place our soldiers at unnecessary risk. 
Please refer to this article:
http://www.businessinsider.com/one-marines-views-on-afghanistan-2012-8 
My concern is more than abstract; I have a niece who will deploy to Afghanistan before the end of the year as a medic.  She will be one of those soldiers who will have to venture into hostile territory unarmed as a result of the politically correct insanity that serves as leadership these days. 
I would like to see funding sharply curtailed for this military fiasco since the CIC has determined that there is no real long term vision, strategy, or goals for our involvement... only that we want to stand our soldiers up before hostile forces in the name of hope and change. 
Forgive my sarcasm. 
Sincerely, 
Bruce Hall
From Sen. Carl Levin in response to my email.
Thank you for contacting me about the drawdown of U.S. troops from Afghanistan.        
On June 22, 2011, President Obama announced the withdrawal of 33,000 U.S. troops from Afghanistan, to be completed by September 2012.  As the first phase of this drawdown, 10,000 U.S. troops left Afghanistan at the end of 2011.  By the end of summer 2012, an additional 23,000 U.S. troops are scheduled to be withdrawn from Afghanistan.  And, in March 2012, President Obama and President Karzai reaffirmed their common commitment to transfer full responsibility for Afghanistan’s security to the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) by the end of 2014.      
It has always been my belief that success in Afghanistan depends on building the capacity of the Afghan Army and police so that Afghans are in the lead in providing security for their own country. [emphasis mine - see link at bottom of post]  The best way to ensure this happens is to continue to reduce our forces.  During my trip to Afghanistan in May 2012, I witnessed firsthand the conditions justifying the drawdown of U.S. surge forces, including the progress U.S. and Afghan troops and our allies have made to improve security in Afghanistan; the growth and improvement of the Afghan security forces; the increasing confidence of the Afghan people in the Afghan security forces; and the decreasing number of al Qaeda fighters in Afghanistan.        
The partnership between the United States and Afghanistan has been critical to this mission at all levels, from NATO training missions, to partnering with units in the field, and on up to advisers in the Ministries of Defense and Interior.  That partnership has been tested by the disturbing events of the last few months, including the violence following the unintentional and regrettable burning of Korans at a U.S. military base and the tragic and incomprehensible killing of 16 Afghan civilians in Kandahar province, apparently by a U.S. soldier.        
These events underscore the importance of transitioning responsibility for Afghanistan’s security to Afghan forces.  That’s what I heard when I met with village elders at a council meeting in Helmand province two and a half years ago.  When I asked how long U.S. forces should stay, one elder said: Only long enough to train our security forces and then leave.  After that you will be welcome to visit us, not as soldiers but as guests.      
Increasing the size and capability of the ANSF, which are scheduled to meet a target of 352,000 by the end of this year, is reaping benefits.  The transition of selected regions to Afghan control is on target.  The proportion of Afghan troops conducting missions has significantly improved, and the Afghans are increasingly in the lead.  The ability of the ANSF to protect the Afghan people is the key to the success of our mission.  The vast majority of the Afghan people detests the Taliban and tolerates their presence out of fear.  In addition, the Afghan Local Police program, where U.S. and coalition special operations forces live among the local population and train the local Afghan people selected by the village elders to defend the village, has demonstrated some important early successes.      
These are signs of progress, but they have come at great cost.  Many brave American troops have been killed or injured.  The strain on our extraordinary troops and their families and on U.S. civilians in Afghanistan is great.  But despite the stress, their morale is high, and regardless of whether one agrees with the mission in Afghanistan, those men and women deserve praise from all Americans.      
There also are significant threats to the Afghan mission, including the threat emanating from Pakistan.  Due to the successful efforts of Coalition and Afghan forces to diminish Taliban havens in southern Afghanistan, the Taliban are increasingly focusing their efforts in eastern Afghanistan.  Consequently, the Pakistan safe havens for the Haqqani Group and the Afghan Taliban Quetta Shura pose a greater threat than ever.  These safe havens allow those insurgents to cross the border to attack U.S., Afghan and coalition forces and then return to their sanctuaries.  While the Pakistani Army takes on terrorist groups within their borders that attack them, often at great cost in Pakistani lives, they have not taken on the Haqqani Group and the Quetta Shura.  To that end, I have told the Pakistanis, including Prime Minister Gilani, President Zardari and Chief of Army Staff General Kayani, that their working to eliminate those safe havens is essential to a closer relationship between the United States and Pakistan.      
In the coming months, I will continue to work with President Obama and General Allen toward further reductions of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, as well as for the continued buildup of the ANSF and the transition of responsibility for Afghanistan’s security to those forces.   
Sincerely, 
Carl Levin 
levin.senate.gov
Note that there was no response to the concerns expressed in my original email to the senator.  Not surprising.  This politically-correct military adventure under President Obama has been an unmitigated disaster and will crumble into dust as the U.S. withdraws.  Apparently, this is the will of the majority of American voters.

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There is always an easy solution to every human problem—neat, plausible, and wrong.
Henry Louis Mencken (1880–1956)
“The Divine Afflatus,” A Mencken Chrestomathy, chapter 25, p. 443 (1949)
... and one could add "not all human problems really are."
It was beautiful and simple, as truly great swindles are.
- O. Henry
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Tracking Interest Rates

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FEDERAL RESERVE & HOUSING

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February 3, 2006
Go back to 1999-2000 and see what the Fed did. They are following the same pattern for 2005-06. If it ain't broke, the Fed will fix it... and good!
August 29, 2006 The Federal Reserve always acts on old information... and is the only cause of U.S. recessions.
December 5, 2006 Last spring I wrote about what I saw to be a sharp downturn in the economy in the "rustbelt" states, particularly Michigan.
March 28, 2007
The Federal Reserve sees no need to cut interest rates in the light of adverse recent economic data, Ben Bernanke said on Wednesday.
The Fed chairman said ”to date, the incoming data have supported the view that the current stance of policy is likely to foster sustainable economic growth and a gradual ebbing in core inflation”.

July 21, 2007 My guess is that if there is an interest rate change, a cut is more likely than an increase. The key variables to be watching at this point are real estate prices and the inventory of unsold homes.
August 11, 2007 I suspect that within 6 months the Federal Reserve will be forced to lower interest rates before housing becomes a black hole.
September 11, 2007 It only means that the overall process has flaws guaranteeing it will be slow in responding to changes in the economy... and tend to over-react as a result.
September 18, 2007 I think a 4% rate is really what is needed to turn the economy back on the right course. The rate may not get there, but more cuts will be needed with employment rates down and foreclosure rates up.
October 25, 2007 How long will it be before I will be able to write: "The Federal Reserve lowered its lending rate to 4% in response to the collapse of the U.S. housing market and massive numbers of foreclosures that threaten the banking and mortgage sectors."
November 28, 2007 FED VICE CHAIRMAN DONALD KOHN
"Should the elevated turbulence persist, it would increase the possibility of further tightening in financial conditions for households and businesses," he said.

"Uncertainties about the economic outlook are unusually high right now," he said. "These uncertainties require flexible and pragmatic policymaking -- nimble is the adjective I used a few weeks ago."
http://www.reuters.com/

December 11, 2007 Somehow the Fed misses the obvious.
fed_rate_moves_425_small.gif
[Image from: CNNMoney.com]
December 13, 2007 [from The Christian Science Monitor]
"The odds of a recession are now above 50 percent," says Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Economy.com. "We are right on the edge of a recession in part because of the Fed's reluctance to reduce interest rates more aggressively." [see my comments of September 11]
January 7, 2008 The real problem now is that consumers can't rescue the economy and manufacturing, which is already weakening, will continue to weaken. We've gutted the forces that could avoid a downturn. The question is not whether there will be a recession, but can it be dampened sufficiently so that it is very short.
January 11, 2008 This is death by a thousand cuts.
January 13, 2008 [N.Y. Times]
“The question is not whether we will have a recession, but how deep and prolonged it will be,” said David Rosenberg, the chief North American economist at Merrill Lynch. “Even if the Fed’s moves are going to work, it will not show up until the later part of 2008 or 2009.
January 17, 2008 A few days ago, Anna Schwartz, nonagenarian economist, implicated the Federal Reserve as the cause of the present lending crisis [from the Telegraph - UK]:
The high priestess of US monetarism - a revered figure at the Fed - says the central bank is itself the chief cause of the credit bubble, and now seems stunned as the consequences of its own actions engulf the financial system. "The new group at the Fed is not equal to the problem that faces it," she says, daring to utter a thought that fellow critics mostly utter sotto voce.
January 22, 2008 The cut has become infected and a limb is in danger. Ben Bernanke is panicking and the Fed has its emergency triage team cutting rates... this time by 3/4%. ...

What should the Federal Reserve do now? Step back... and don't be so anxious to raise rates at the first sign of economic improvement.
Individuals and businesses need stability in their financial cost structures so that they can plan effectively and keep their ships afloat. Wildly fluctuating rates... regardless of what the absolute levels are... create problems. Either too much spending or too much fear. It's just not that difficult to comprehend. Why has it been so difficult for the Fed?

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Michigan, United States
Air Force (SAC) captain 1968-72. Retired after 35 years of business and logistical planning, including running a small business. Two sons with advanced degrees; one with a business and pre-law degree. Beautiful wife who has put up with me for 4 decades. Education: B.A. (Sociology major; minors in philosopy, English literature, and German) M.S. Operations Management (like a mixture of an MBA with logistical planning)