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Whats your opinion on Afghanistan?

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Linus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 September 2009 at 3:47pm
I point you towards this, because it tends to be where you end up focusing on my "mistake", even though we're on the same page for it.


Quote Yes, human-impact projects have a place. So do words. And so does violent action. You can't rely on just one or the other




We're on the same page. We need all 3. The only difference between you and I is that I do not think we are doing enough militarily, and instead hoping that the humanitarian impact is enough. I'm not saying it has to be "EXPLOSIONS OR BUST", but I do believe the war aspect of well, war, is being played down, atleast in the wide view.



Yes, making lives better can reduce the amount of Jihidi "idiots", as you say, but there will always be SOMEONE who will want to fight just because they want to, not because their family has outdoor plumbing or their goat stepped on a land mine left by the Soviets. Those are the ones that cannot be reasoned with. Those are the ones that NEED to be eliminated, and ASAP.

Ever hear of the "werewolves" in Germany after WW2? They didn't do insurgent activities because they were disenfranchised or lacked basic necessities of life. They fought because they truly thought what they were doing was right, and no amount of education to the contrary changed that. They had to be met and destroyed.

Or how about our very own "home-grown" terrorist? They weren't raised in a 3rd world country, being taught that America was the devil and it needed to be destroyed. They came up with those thoughts in their own sick minds.

Again, not every enemy can be converted ;/ deterred by us being the better people, and that's when something has to be done.


I'm wondering where you came up with me thinking collateral damage is a good thing, or even acceptable. Yes, it happens, but that doesn't mean I think we should ignore it. Of course I don't want a JDAM dropped on a suspected insurgent munitions cache that's right next to a school, that's stupid.   But I'm sure you as an infantryman felt a lot more secure when you knew you had artillery batteries and friendly fly-boys overhead to back you up at a moments notice when crap hit the fan, correct?

"Speed, surprise, and violence of action" is a maxim for a reason.




Quote
The 'war on terror' is a jingoistic, idiotic misnomer, because terrorism is not a discrete enemy, but instead is merely a tactic. Is a suicide bomber any more 'terrifying' than a hellfire missile out of the night's blackness fired from a helicopter so far away you can't even hear it? Is planting an IED any more 'cowardly' (a term I reject) than firing a cruise missile from a hundred and fifty miles away? Is an artillery shell fired deliberately into a civilian area any less morally ugly than a suicide bomb in a pizza shop?


The difference in all (except the last one about the artillery shell... unless it's one of the guided ones) is that WE don't do it against civilians on purpose. It's not the same type of "terrorizing". Ones a legit tactic, the other is a cowardly act (as much as you hate that word). We tend to do what we can to minimize / eliminate civilian deaths, while they do what they can to increase it.






A military win and a humanitarian win are NOT mutually exclusive. You cannot have one without the other.

Edited by Linus - 21 September 2009 at 3:50pm

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Tolgak Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 September 2009 at 3:44pm
Thank you, brihard.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote brihard Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 September 2009 at 3:19pm
At no point have I suggested that you're out of your depth specifically because of our relative military experiences, but also based on your answers it's clear you haven't done the study into this that I have, nor have you hoisted aboard the lessons learned.

There are two schools on hearts and minds- one is that the traditional concept is vital for winning a war. The other holds that 'two in the heart, one in the mind' is a nice way to drop a target. I buy into both. In most cases, sympathies can be swayed by civil action and aid efforts, but in some cases, some enemies are so implacable as to only be dealt with effectively through PRECISE, DISCRIMINATE force. Aircraft certainly have a role, particularly for close air support, but they've been far too willingly employd to take out point targets based on sketchy information, often resulting in mistargeting of assets at best, or civilian deaths accompanying a legit strike at best.

You're constraining yourself improperly by thinking of this as a military win. I'll put this out there.

WE CANNOT WIN THIS MILITARILY 

If we want to simply keep killing Jihadis, that's fine. Young idiots coming out of the madrassas with dreams of glory and a half magainze of AK rounds are an infinitely renewable resource. We can kill tens or hundreds of thousands of them, but if more keep coming we are at best in a stalemate.

Terrorism and radical islam are sociological phenomena. These kids will strap bombs to themselves because they're disenfranchized, ignorant, indoctrinated and desperate. There's nothing on this earth really worth living for in their worlds; that's the cause. The symptom is a small handful of them are mentally or emotionally vulnerable to being radicalized, and they then explode themselves spectacularly somewhere. More likely than not somewhere in Southwest Asia, but at times it could be New York, or London, or Tel Aviv, or Madrid, or what have you.

The 'war on terror' is a jingoistic, idiotic misnomer, because terrorism is not a discrete enemy, but instead is merely a tactic. Is a suicide bomber any more 'terrifying' than a hellfire missile out of the night's blackness fired from a helicopter so far away you can't even hear it? Is planting an IED any more 'cowardly' (a term I reject) than firing a cruise missile from a hundred and fifty miles away? Is an artillery shell fired deliberately into a civilian area any less morally ugly than a suicide bomb in a pizza shop?

The reason we mustn't 'take the kid gloves off' as you were put it are severalfold. It doesn't work. Sure, they cleared a lot of people out of Fallujah, but Fallujah was a huge urban center. I'm not sure how much time you've spent in Southern Afghanistan, but it isn't exactly an urban society. Iraq also has a historical tradition of relative stability and peace under a central government, even if it was a tyrrany. Afghanistan hasn't seen a stable government with popular support since the 70s. In a power vaccum in Iraq, the winner will rever tthe situation to more or less what it was before- the population united under one strongman leader, with some pigs being more equal than others. Afghanistan's default setting is a highly fragmented tribal society. Fallujah worked because they DESTROYED the insurgent elements there. In Afghanistan, however, they simply melt away and come back later. Like I said, we've tried it already. If Fallujah is the best parallel you can come up with to what you think we should be doing in Afghanistan, well, there's not much I can say.

We could be more active, more brutal in pursuing and destroying legitimate targets, but because of the environment and the weapons of war that result in an unacceptably higher civilian toll. The notion of 'collateral damage' doesn't fly nearly as well in a local community as it does on CNN. What if Canadian police fleed a multiple murderer across the border into Michigan, finally cornered him in a gas station in Detroit, and killed him in a fusilade of gunfire- accidentally killing six civilians while they were at it? Or even if American police did it, to dodge your obvious jurisdictional objection to my example? 'Collateral damage' is one of those nice sanitized terms the government has successfully spoon fed the media to allow it to pretend war isn't about human beings getting mangled. Every looked - really looked at one of those Apache gun camera videos and wondered about the guys coming apart from 30mm? You think every single person ever killed by an apache helicopter was a legitimate bad guy?

We wil 'win' this conflict by helping to establish a recognized, legitimate state with a security apparatus that can control extremist activity on their own territory, and that actively work to improve economic and living conditions such that fewer people are driven to radicalism, or Jihad, or terror, or whatever term you would pick for it. Killing a lot of people will continue to be necessary, but it is NOT the goal of the NATO mission in Afghanistan. It's fortunate that our mission allows us to take out some bad people, but we can't simply shrug and accept the losses of innocent life that have traditionally accompanied it. When we can recognize the Afghan civilians as having the same intrinsic human worth as our own, we'll be making a good start at things, and maybe they'll see that respect and start playing ball with us. The fighting we are doing is not useless in any way, but it is NOT the main effort of our mission there, nor is our end state dependent on how much we can destroy, or how many we can kill.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Linus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 September 2009 at 2:31pm
We also did that in Fallujah, and it had a much better effect on the area. Something can fail horribly once, and work greatly a different time (Hello Hannibal)


Here's where our problem lies: You come off as making it seem that my "13 weeks of military experience" makes me unqualified to discuss anything about military matters with someone that has been in for years and has been deployed, when something such as this is more of an opinion based discussion, and not a hard written education based one, such as debating the proper number of platoons to send to a place, or how to clear a city block correctly. . But you are right about one thing: You have probably gone through counter-insurgency schooling, whilst I have not, which is why I don't get in to specifics.

We have differing views on the matter. You seem to me as one who wants to win their hearts to win the fight, while I have traditionally been one to want to win the fight to work on the heart. I guarantee you have had CO's on both sides of the fence: Some wanting to carpet bomb the whole area, and others wanting to give them indoor plumbing. One is not better then the other, they are just differing views on how to get to the same outcome we all want: Less good people dead.



One of the biggest misconceptions about me is that people think I'm pro-war, pro-death, anti-helping, which is not the case. I don't want war, and I don't want fighting, but I realize it has it's place.


Many (not all) of our enemies, in Iraq AND Afghanistan, are types that cannot be reasoned with. Someone who is willing to blow themselves up and take 100 civilians with them is not someone who we should even ATTEMPT to reason with, in my eyes.

I'm all for giving the people over there better lives, and in the process, hope that they give us actionable intel to help us fight. But I also realize that many of them also play both sides of the fence. I don't blame them, as that is probably what is easiest for them, but doesn't make it any more acceptable.



Yes, human-impact projects have a place. So do words. And so does violent action. You can't rely on just one or the other, but when you lean more towards one, the other suffers, and the problems that it can fix end up growing.





But, I do have a question: Do you think we are doing everything we can militarily to win this, 8 years later? Humanely? Diplomatically?

Or should we improve on all 3 fronts?

Edited by Linus - 21 September 2009 at 2:35pm

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote __sneaky__ Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 September 2009 at 1:45pm
Originally posted by slackerr26 slackerr26 wrote:

I have a feeling FE wont be returning to this thread..
We were shooting for the forum, but baby steps are acceptable I guess.
 
And brihard all i can really say to that is... Clap
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote brihard Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 September 2009 at 1:44pm
But we CAN'T force them to commit to battle. It simply doesn't work.

We CAN tell everyone to 'get out of the area- anyone here after _____ date will be condiered an insurgent'. We did it in Kandahar in 2006, but it didn't work particularly well. we still get blown up regularly in the areas we supposedly 'secured' during Operation Medusa in the Panjwai district.

The enemy is in and of the local population. We cannot sufficiently restrict their freedom of movement and still allow a local pattern of life at the same time. The ability just isn't there. We cannot in every case dictate the terms of the war; sometimes we *must* fight them their own way because that way is minimally invasive to the local population, and because any other means of fighting will just piss the locals off too much and drive more of them from our side.

You're mistaken in thinking we must eliminate an enemy from an area, and then improve that area subsequently. It's more likely to be concurrent, if not, in fact, the other way round. The enemy exist in given areas because of local sympathies to the insurgency, and we cannot eliminate those sympathies except by concrete actions to help the locals. Promises mean nothing- we must go in, build things, create growth, do medical and veterinary outreach, replace the destroyed Opium crops with viable alternative.s Only when such things are done will the locals cease actively supporting the insurgents. Even at that they may play neutral and accept the presence of both forces; the Taliban are fond of 'night letters'; essentially propaganda often in the form of threats delivered to local leaders. We need to demonstrate that through our presence suich threats are not credible, but to do that we must make a concrete impact on the enemy's ability to act and to project influence into areas neighbouring their own.

I'm not sure if you're familiar with the 'inkblot' school of counterinsurgency theory, but essentially it likens our presence to spots of ink spilled on a map, which is actually rather accurate. We need to increase our geographic presence and establish lines of communication and cooperation between ourselves, the government, the NGOs, and the local people. It's a hundred little thigns that all have to happen at once. It's not like you can definitively say one day "OK, they're gone" and the next go in and start building. You have to send in the civil-military cooperation guys, determine the needs of the locals, and then send in the engineers to accomplish quick-impact projects that will have a concrete positive impact on the lives of the locals. *Then* maybe someone will come to you with info about an IED factory.

At the end it's all about perceived credibility. They must see us as having more strength, more power, more willingness to fight than the insurgents. The Afghans traditionally side with whoever is stronger in an area. That's the best way to stay alive.

Sorry Linus, I'm not trying to be a dick here, but from the arguments you're positing it's clear that you're completely out of your depth here.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Linus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 September 2009 at 1:30pm
Ps yes I know I'm over simplifying this whole thing and there are many smaller nuiences... It's just a general overview.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Linus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 September 2009 at 1:26pm
Bri, I'm not debating that we should help/win over the general populace, as that's a major component if any war. But anyone who thinks we're doing everything we can do militarily to win this the way it should be is confusing to me.

Look at the last few major conflicts; Vietnam, Gulf1/2 and Afghanistan. They are being fought, strategically, at a much less aggressive manner. There's total war, there's total compassion, and then there's where we need to be. People smarter than you and I haven't found the perfect mix yet, so I'm not claiming to know.


What I do know is we need to quit fighting them on their terms and force them on our terms. They know they can't possibly fight a straight up fight, which is why they use insurgsjt tactics. We have to force them to face us in a battle, JUST like we dis in Fallujah. They only had 2 option: run or fight. Those who fought, died. It works, amd we need to do it more.

We can't possibly begin to think about making a country better so ling as there are people who will sabotage what we do. Eliminate the opposition, male a city better, then repeat at the next enemy stronghold.



Yes, the Afghani police and military SHOULD play an active role in this. But to think they canhabdle it on their own, let alone trust them to do so on a major scale at this point, is IMO foolish. Yes, train them up. Yes, include them on ever increasing operations. But no, if something is important, don't trust them to go at it alone, or well have another Tora Bora mishap. If it need to get done, leave it to those tgat we KNOW we can trust: Ourselves or other NATO countries.

Edited by Linus - 21 September 2009 at 1:35pm

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote rednekk98 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 September 2009 at 11:26am
I think one of the main areas Obama and the media have failed to communicate are the lumping of different factions together as "The Taliban". You have a bunch of different tribes, smuggling interests, poppy cultivation and drug running interests that will occasionally ally with, or indirectly support the Taliban by allowing them to operate in an area they control. During the campaign when Obama suggested that we engage some elements of the Taliban, he got blasted. If the Taliban's latest propaganda peice claiming that they no longer have a problem with women getting an education and will work to end mutilation etc. of non-cooperative civilians and want to limit suicide attacks, we may be able to work with them. Stoping the proliferation of terrorism is our main goal in Afghanistan, and as bad as it looks politically I don't really care if Karzai's government falls flat on its face. It's been currupt and ineffective so far.

Economically they need power and irrigation where possible, it'd be nice for them to be able to export pomegranits again and have some economic diversification beyond opium and IED's. I have a distinct feeling that congress is going to balk at sending more troops, and if the President can't convince them to do so, or to come to some sort of consensus on health care, his presidency has FAIL written all over it. Bush may have dropped the ball by keeping Afghanistan a holding operation [although he did (successfully?) pressure Pakistan to act in Waziristan] but it's Obama's job to comminicate a clear set of prioritized objectives for Afghanistan and to convince congress to grow a pair and give the generals what they need and not freak out about the opinion polls. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Skillet42565 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 September 2009 at 11:12am
Oh snap.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote slackerr26 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 September 2009 at 10:11am
I have a feeling FE wont be returning to this thread..
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Benjichang Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 September 2009 at 9:47am
Brihard ftw.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote brihard Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 September 2009 at 2:51am
Originally posted by FreeEnterprise FreeEnterprise wrote:

When you have a president that doesn't have the guts for a long lasting war, and significant goals in mind. You end up with another vietnam...

 

B.S.

Bush got you guys into Afghanistan, and then diverted the needed troops away, and to Iraq instead, leaving us and other NATO allies hung out to dry, and fighting hard just to maintain our own small AOs without chance of expanding them.

A hundred and thirty one dead Canadians later, Obama has committed a massive increase in troops to the South, and the difference is being seen. Areas that were previously held by a single battalion now have nearly a division present. We can expand our existing areas and project power into new ones. We can pursue insurgent forces where we believe they are, not just waiting for them to come to where we are. HAd we been able to do this in 2004 and 2005, we wouldn't have had the neo-Taliban resurgence of 2006. The enemy saw that the fight wasn't really there from our end, that we didn't have the troops necessary, and they were heartened by it.

Now that America's once again focusing on Afghansitan, I expect the situation to improve. But don't even try to pin this on Obama, or to say it's his lack of fortitude that's leading to our difficulties there.  He's articulated the realities and the goals for Afghanistan far better than Bush ever did, AND he's following through on government plans to commit more resources where needed.


Linus, you're also right out to lunch. The goals in Afghanistan are not militayr, they are civil. Our end state is not the complete destruction of the insurgency- it is the exiestence of an Afghan military and police force that are capable of dealing with it themselves, overseen by a stable Afghan central government.

Going into mosques, and unleashing massive firepower in built up areas just pisses people off. The Soviets tried all that already.

The rules of engagement we have now WORK- and I challenge any member of this forum to show where they have more credibility and subject matter knowledge on this specific subject than I do. We can do what we need to do. At no point did I ever feel trepidation that I would not be able to defend myself if need be, and when our guys need to conduct offensive operations, as long as the intel is there to justify it, they will get the ROE authorizations we need.

Killing people isn't just some abstract thing, it's not just a body count. It's real, and those real people have real families, and real tribes, who will come back on us with a vengeance if we don't do it right and for the right reasons.

We still need more troops, but the ones we have are employed pretty well, and are able to do their job.


Edited by brihard - 21 September 2009 at 2:51am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Linus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 September 2009 at 7:22pm
Originally posted by agentwhale007 agentwhale007 wrote:

Exactly what are we doing where we are using "kid gloves?"†


No shooting at a mosque without prior approval.

No going in to a mosque, as that's the IF's job.

Severly limited firepower around places of civilian population, even though our munitions can strike within meters.

Amd that's just from my "2 weeks" of learning.



Do what we did in Fallujah. Cordon off an area, give an ultimatum, and go in with the full force necessary to inflict maximum damage against the enemy and sustain minimum losses on ourselves.   This is war, not "politically correct conflict" time.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote FreeEnterprise Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 September 2009 at 5:55pm

When you have a president that doesn't have the guts for a long lasting war, and significant goals in mind. You end up with another vietnam...

 
I personally would like to see us leave that area of the world. If we see terrorists having training camps bomb them with drones from the air, and get our guys off the dirt.
 
We don't want to take over the country, so why are we there?
 
War means one side wins, and the other side loses... Unless you are trying to do something politically.
 
And when you combine politics and war, the winner ends up losing.
 
How much did we spend on Iraq? and for what? Did we take enough oil to pay for the cost of the war. Nope, we spent billions more to rebuild what we destroyed...
 
Stupid imo.
 
Leave that sand pit to the vipers. Put our soldiers on our boarders and protect them. Put in missle defence to protect our airspace, and let the rest of the world police itself. We can't afford to be the world policeman. We have lost way too many of our soldiers lives already and for what?...
 
politics and war don't combine. Its like oil and water.
 
 
They tremble at my name...
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote brihard Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 September 2009 at 2:47pm
Sorry OS, but you're a couple decades out of date.

We're not hurting because we can't shoot armed people. We're hindered because they retain enough support amongst some segments of the local population to be able to carry out IED attacks. Not with impunity, but successfully enough to kill our guys.

The issue is identifying who is *actually* an enemy- and at times who is *actually* a friend. Shifting tribal allegiances don't make this any easier.

We are not facing so much difficulty due to a lack of military might or from failures in our ROEs. It's instead hard because the central government has little perceived legitimacy, and little ability to project power. It's taken us too long to accomplish much, and consequently the optimism that had pushed many locals into our arms from the start is eroding.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote oldsoldier Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 September 2009 at 12:49pm
Limited warfare as we practice it has a serious flaw. The Rules of Engagement vary too much for the individual soldier to understand the concept of the operation he/she is on. As I understand it from son, he and his unit can not fire unless fired upon and only after positively identifying the hostiles. Now in a land where every male carries a weapon amd in a ville with these locals walking around armed and you take incoming, what are your options? By the ROE you only can fire on the individual that fired on you, and any threat you percieve. But with every male in sight carrying a weapon Mr. Murphy will ensure you shoot at the wrong individual(s) with the media right there filming the "attrocity" as the wrong target(s) is hit. That is the purpose of the insurgent/guerilla to get the more powerfull force to commit these acts, and lose in the living rooms of that forces home country.

Initially we grabbed all the weapons we could from these villes. Now in the infighting among the warlords, the villes are rearmed with more modern weaponry, as the drug trade and warlords arm the villes. So like my boy states, he drives into a ville and everyone is armed, now who is the true "g" in this mass of humanity, and when he shoots one of my boys people how does he retaliate, and not commit an "attrocity" in front of the media.

My boy states his Hummer has at least 20 bullet scars on the body and gun shield, and he could not return fire because of the inability to locate the individual(s) responsible in the mass of armed people now running around after hearing the inbound rounds.

What a way to run a war.

"Kid Gloves" is the ROE's we are forced to operat under. We put the word out, you are armed you are considered a hostile. Give it 2-3 weeks to sink into the populace, and resume operations. You see an individual with a weapon you warn them to drop weapon, if they do not they are now a hostile and a threat and you engage. Problem will soon sort itself on its own as locals will no longer be armed, some sort of civl control can be installed, and a more controled combat enviornment installed. For those of you who have no concept of combat operations with limiting ROE's just imagine you are playing baseball, and your coach states you can not swing at any pitch other than a fastball or you will be fined. How can you tell its a fastball as it leaves the pitchers hand, and if you swing are you wrong in the eyes of the coach and the fans.

Edited by oldsoldier - 20 September 2009 at 12:55pm
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agentwhale007 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote agentwhale007 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 September 2009 at 12:38pm
Exactly what are we doing where we are using "kid gloves?" 
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This Ma**edited**hine Kills **edited**as**edited**ists.




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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Linus Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 September 2009 at 12:06pm
You can be brutal in your fight against enemies and still be just and right in your dealings with the innocent.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote brihard Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 September 2009 at 7:14am
The second we 'take the kid gloves off', we lose the moral high ground, and our legitimacy for being there.

Rednekk hit on a good point vis a vis the overcentralization of power. Afghanistan would work better as a somewhat loose republic (your mom, LOL) then as a tight federal state. There's also a problem with Pashto hegemony in government- yet the Pashtuns in the south will never tolerate a president who's a Hazara, or a Tajik, or an Uzbek, or really any other ethnicity that isn't Pashto. Unfortunately the Pashtuns tend to treat anyone else like crap.
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Yup, he actually said that.
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