Stopping Putin Will Require Military Might From Europe, United States

From the start of the most recent Russian madness, I have taken a straightforward appraisal of the situation. For many of us, the Eastern European theatre has been long considered a potential tinderbox given Russian President Putin’s makeup and stated desires.

As the Russian military massed along the border I thought an invasion of Ukraine would occur, never thinking it would not. The dance of diplomacy had to be undertaken prior to the start of this phase of the violence, as that is an international nicety.

While I champion diplomacy, one has to keep in mind that there is a stark difference in sitting down with those one has disagreements with while hoping to foster dialogue and a working compromise, as opposed to talking with a madman who is wedded to delusional visions of conquest.

The war in Eastern Ukraine has been ongoing for years. Most of the world did not want to know about it. Thousands died prior to the latest invasion two weeks ago. That is the harsh reality.

So Putin has to be viewed in the totality of his past actions and declared threats for the future. As such, Putin can not reverse course and back down. There is nothing in his history to suggest that is an option for him to take. So the following news snippet this morning from Australia is worthy of posting.

Terry Barnes wrote the following for Spectator Australia.

A retired British general, Sir Chris Deverall, is arguing that a no-fly zone over Ukraine might yet be the only rational choice for NATO. Deverall says NATO will have to fight Vladimir Putin eventually, so should be prepared to do it now. Meanwhile, polling indicates 45 percent of Americans support a no-fly zone, 20 percent are against, and the rest presumably are undecided. Rightly or wrongly, the unthinkable is being thought. Putin’s war could yet become a European war.”

I again echo a theme on this blog that strength is what Putin understands, and weakness is what Putin uses for his own ends. If the world community can not accept that fact then Ukraine is doomed. And Europe is further threatened.

This morning Ukraine President Zelenskyy was termed by a news analysis on television as “Churchhill in the digital age”. With that phrasing comes to mind the weight of leadership that Winston Churchill would remind us of if he were here to gauge the current crisis. History will judge the international community harshly if we do not stand up to this test of our time.

Putin must be stopped.

And so it goes.

Russia Onlys Respects Strength, West Needs To Show True Resolve Over Ukraine

What would Winston Churchill do?

Russian President Putin, the madman of Eastern Europe, has shown his true intentions with not only a brazen and deadly invasion of a sovereign nation but also with his openly stated purpose.

Gone are the calm days of the autocrat merely talking about ‘peace keeping’. Now it is all about conquest. His declaration of consuming all of Ukraine is no longer in doubt.

But then what is next for the dictator who makes Kim Jong-un look utterly sane?

This weekend it is reported that Putin’s powerful navy assets have been spotted in the Black Sea port of Odessa. Anyone with a geographical understanding of what that means has to ponder if a larger European conflict is being contemplated in Moscow.

The issue can not be discounted, as the very weakness in world resolve in the past is very much a consideration for Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. When Putin ruthlessly broke international law and took Crimea no one stood up and said “NO”. Instead, there was a collective shaking of the head at ‘the bad little boy in Moscow’ and in so doing ‘Putin learned his lesson’.

The lesson Putin learned, however, was there were no repercussions to audacious and criminal moves. Many on the world stage pretended the sanctions which were applied due to that land grab would result in Putin leaving the rest of Ukraine and Europe alone.

Those with realpolitik as their foundation knew otherwise. Sanctions are a politically-inspired balm, a mere image in place of taking concrete actions. Sanctions will not stop a madman.

With tepid responses from the world community, there was also the Trump Administration which took moves year-after-year to undermine alliances and international organizations. Today it was reported former national security adviser John Bolton believed that Putin was “waiting” for a possible United States withdrawal from NATO. That is the result of Trump tossing aside decades of collective unity for his tawdry displays while in office when dealing with Putin, as outlined in The Hill.

The world community is concerned, and rightfully so about what comes next. While I appreciate the level of dread, as it is real, I do question the actual resolve from the world community to stop Putin. This week, NATO rejected the military move of creating a no-fly zone over Ukraine. They stated it would result in a military confrontation with Moscow. But it is that very type of messaging that Russia understands best.

A bully and killer on the world stage must not get clearance to continue the rampage. Or make additional threats. Up to now, Putin has done both, and promises to continue. The problem is that Russia for too long has thrown punches but does not receive in return an even more devastating counterpunch.

Let us be perfectly clear. A truly strident message of deterrence is what Russia understands, and respects. History makes the case. If we need to bump chests and eye the Russians down, then that is what we must do.

Putin feels that if he can demean and defeat our nation and Western Europe in the eyes of the world Russia can be akin to the ‘glory days’ of the USSR. To get to that point European nations will need to ponder if they might not have ‘peace keeping’ operations coming their way, too?

Without a more robust and truly diligent response to Putin, that may be the future.

And so it goes.

“False Flag’ Operation Feared In Ukraine, Biden Needs To Find “L” In Leadership

For a couple of weeks, many news analysts and foreign policy experts have warned what Russian President Putin may be planning as his excuse to invade the sovereign nation of Ukraine.

Many people fear that Russia is planning what is known as a ‘false flag’ operation, a contrived and self-generated event to give Putin a pretext to invade Ukraine.

It would be most similar to what the world witnessed, and history better understands in hindsight, when Wehrmacht troops, dressed as Polish soldiers, attacked a German wireless station in September 1939. (David Downing weaved that event into his John Russell series about espionage during WWII.)

It is strongly assumed this week the world will have headlined in every morning newspaper, and featured as the lead to evening news programs, the latest country in the world to have been brutally overtaken by a corrupt and dishonest nation. Russia and Germany have a list of such barbarity.

This weekend Putin’s troops exercised at strategic points surrounding the frontier of Ukraine. It is frighteningly clear that the US government expects that by the end of the week the Russians will be adding Ukraine to Poland, the Baltic States, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia on their list of shame.

This past week the line that jumped off of several news stories and pages of print was simple and direct.

“Moscow is actively trying to create a casus belli,” or a justification for war, a Western official said.

But the other statement that made me pay attention was uttered by President Joe Biden.

The weakness in American messaging and signaling blared when the White House let Russia know it need not fear the prospect of U.S. troops fighting to defend the sovereignty of Ukraine. Biden said, “there is not going to be any American forces moving into Ukraine.”

A BBC analyst read that comment as a means to lower confrontation and not ratchet up tensions into an even larger international crisis. That could very well be the case. And certainly, not a bad point to make in the midst of the gravest threat to international order since WWII.

Here at this desk, however, the rules of order and deliberative process that history proves stabilized Europe are the ones adhered to, and stressed when threats occur. No one should be pleased Russia knows before the first Ukrainian is killed there will be no military attempt to stop their forward motion. It is not a message we should have sent to the world that the United States will not stand up to Russia over Ukraine in a military fashion. In so doing, we have simply conceded a large nation to Russia, and in Cold War parlance enhanced their–sphere of influence–from which further efforts will doubtless be made upon other countries.  

We have set up a future of ever-more Russian meddling and militarism.

It galls me that area of the world is going to be further brutalized–Eastern Ukraine is already a war zone–due to a megalomaniac wishing to construct a map of the USSR. Nostalgia is a putrid reason for a war.

As such, the international order demanded that Biden not show his hand of cards or weaken the NATO alliance by telling Putin the limits of his ‘red line’ in Ukraine. A continuing strident message of deterrence is what Russia understands, and respects. And if we need to bump chests and eye the Russians down, then that is what we must do.

Leadership matters.

And so it goes.

Peace Of Westphalia Still Echoes From Tri-County Classroom As Russia’s Threat To Ukraine Mounts

Mrs. Marge Glad, the most wonderful of history teachers, and the indispensable instructor of my youth, might now say, “Well, I said the Peace of Westphalia was mighty important.”

She should know better than most as her family fled Europe for America during WWII.

What she had to say about that treaty filled lectures with the truism of what was designed after the Thirty Years War. It should be recalled now as the threat of Russia overtaking Ukraine increases. As the crisis now mounts the essential foundations of what was once viewed as a major demarcation in European history deserves a shout-out.

As does the teacher who allowed me to deepen my awareness and love for history.

The treaty is much noted for what seems stunningly simple ideas and concepts we take for granted today. At the top of the list was the concept of a state or nation being sovereign. Each state was allowed to set its own governing process be it kings or parliaments, and pray to its own religious beliefs. Placing officials within other states for ongoing diplomatic talks were seen as a way to bridge differences. What was designed created a system of balance so that power of a new type–accords with one another–could be used to counter military threats.

Much has changed since the 1600s and as we know wars consumed Europe and caused massive reactions worldwide. But there is no denying that the foundation of Westphalia still rings true.

Russian President Putin has designs on reviving a chapter of history that can not be remade. The old Soviet Union and the forced subjugation of peoples and cultures that had no reason, other than brute force, to be joined together will not be allowed again by the international community.

While Ukraine is a central part of the historical narrative for Russia the military moves by Putin to strangle the republic can not be accepted. There are those who will bend to the autocrat and claim the West is to blame for pushing the NATO umbrella.

But, I would argue it is Putin’s vision of grandeur about a region captured from the Ottomans during the reign of Catherin the Great that should not now be relitigated through the use of tanks and missiles. One can assert the West should have been more inclusive of Russia since the fall of the Soviet Union. Or we could just say, as is proper with any madman, that it would be cheaper for Putin to just talk with a psychiatrist.

Putin prides himself on being a student of history. Until, that is, the collapse of the USSR. Then he seems to have stopped reading. It was very evident that all of the ethnic and culturally diverse people clamped down by Moscow for decades wanted their own state, their own government, their own say in their own affairs. When given the chance they bolted with the fall of the USSR.

Almost a modern Peace of Westphalia.

My favorite teacher, Mrs. Glad died many years ago. While she was still teaching I visited her late one afternoon in her classroom. I had worked in radio and then moved on to my time in the statehouse. She sat behind her desk and I was back in one of the desks that are a trademark in such rooms. I thanked her for making a difference in my life. She truly did make a difference.

Tonight, I wish Vladamir could have had her in his formative days as a student, too.

And so it goes.

Nearly 5 Million Worldwide Dead From COVID, Many Americans Still Fight Vaccines

I believe we are our brother’s keeper. It is how I frame my lookout on life, my religious path, and that perspective deeply shapes my perspective also how government should work.

So when I read about the disparity in vaccine availability around the world it not only concerns me from a health point of view, but also from a moral one. Though the football stadiums are crammed full and college students are packed in line to enter their favorite drinking establishments in the United States, the larger world community is facing tough going in certain areas at combatting the virus and obtaining needed vaccine shots.

“With almost 50,000 deaths a week, the pandemic is far from over — and that’s just the reported deaths,” World Health Organization Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at the World Health Summit in Berlin on Oct. 24.

Many have urged that a more concerted effort be made to distribute vaccines to health partners worldwide so to stem the spread of the virus. Recently the UN Secretary General-General Antonio Guterres pointed out a glaring discrepancy with statistics underscoring the problem. Rich nations have spent 28% of annual economic output on pandemic recovery efforts, while the figure is 2% for the poorest nations.

The Economist this week reported a more stark assessment.

Today, in low-income countries, less than 2% of adults are fully vaccinated, compared with 50% in high-income ones. A new analysis from Airfinity, a life-sciences data firm, spells out the startling implications: if rich countries do not redistribute surplus vaccine this year, between 1m and 2.8m lives could be lost as a result.

What is even more troubling to ponder into our thinking is that with the complete availability of the vaccines in the US there is still a most numbing fact.

The United States continues to have the highest cumulative number of confirmed cases and deaths globally. In early October, the U.S. death toll from covid-19, the disease caused by the virus, surpassed 700,000, despite the widespread availability of vaccines in the country.

We have had too many news reports of obstinate people blocking our forward movement in the nation due to selflessness and neanderthal thinking.

More than 26,000 New York City government employees, including firefighters, police officers, and sanitation workers, flouted the deadline for Mayor Bill de Blasio’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate,” Gothamist reported this weekend.

Labor unions continue to balk at the mandate, notably fire unions that have staged numerous rallies opposing the mandate over the past week. Figures show that while 84% of FDNY employees have abided by the mandate, more than 4,000 of them might not be able to come in next Monday. About 8,300 NYPD employees also remain unvaccinated. The police department held a retirement drive Friday and Saturday for employees who didn’t want to take the vaccines.

I do not understand at any level the delusional thinking of those who spit at science and place others in the community, and the health of the economy itself, into harm’s way. More than 200 million Americans are living examples of the remarkably effective and safe nature of vaccines. Those shots have severely stunted severe illness, kept folks out of hospitals, and SAVED LIVES.

What has been proved in the US to be so effective should be far more available to people in other nations, regardless of their income or station in life. We must lean into the issue of producing more shots, shipping them to targeted locations, ensuring their use, and not allowing anything to block the path towards a better outcome for all.

Rocket science is not required to achieve this mission. This is just old-fashioned willpower that needs to be employed. And the understanding that we are our brother’s keeper.

And so it goes.

Reason # (Countless) Why Newspapers Matter To Nation

Sunday morning it was most obvious, again.

Often the Sunday newspapers are the edition when powerful stories are reported on page one, or a series starts that examines a topic that is not possible to thoroughly address in only one day.

The Washington Post blasted its way to the must-read category with the start of their international investigation series of powerful people on the world stage using secretive offshore system financing to hide billions of dollars from tax authorities, creditors, and criminal investigators.

The story is simply devastating to the likes of King Abdullah II of Jordan. It is reported that he secretly spent more than $106 million on lavish homes in the U.S. and Britain. Nearly $70 million was paid for three adjacent properties overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Southern California, forming one of the largest bluff-top complexes in the celebrity enclave of Malibu.

What is the undercurrent to this particular case is that Jordan, a close U.S. ally, has been roiled in recent years by public discontent over alleged government corruption.

I would urge my readers to spend some time with the news story as it is well researched and written.

But the reason for this post comes with a question. Where would a story like this fit into the world of television news? 

With time limits and the way consultants micro-manage content the series would never find its way on the news, with sufficient substance, so to allow viewers any idea of the scope of the financial manipulation involved.

While the facts of the story about international intrigue matter, so does the fact that newspapers, themselves, matter. And we all need to be mindful of what is happening to the newspaper profession.

I have been posting for years about the woes of the newspaper industry in the digital media age. I have written about the revenue from the industry being cut in half between 2008 and 2018 because of a ruinous decline in print advertising. And to the gut of the matter that means during that same time frame newsroom employment declined 25%. (Pew Research)

We are in fact going to suffer tremendously for the loss of accountability that the papers provide to insure our government has journalistic oversight, a loss of a daily record of events that makes for historical documentation, and a sense of commonality that allows us to have some overall reference point as a nation.

I say this because the morning newspapers that ferret out corruption and investigates issues untouchable to the average citizen is an essential component for how we are made aware of the world. 

As the Post made most clear this morning.

But let us consider this from a local perspective.

What would happen if local newspaper reporters were not at their jobs to hold our state leaders accountable. I can only assume that the Speaker of the Wisconsin State Assembly would snicker if a blogger showed up to investigate a legislative scandal.  On the other hand with pen and notepad in hand, a reporter from the Wisconsin State Journal sends a message when entering a room with a question and a barrel of ink. (OK, the ink part is dated, but your blogger came from the nostalgic era when reading a newspaper left a darkness to one’s fingers.)

The point of this post is that there is always a real level of concern about the need to monitor government and policies. That can not be done on the cheap, or by amateurs.  After all, while many like to grouse about the press, let us not forget they are professionals, and do much to keep us free and safe.

Today a national newspaper made that point most clearly.

And so it goes.

Shortages On Madison Store Shelves, Worldwide Economic Concerns

Perhaps it is a coping mechanism, but during the pandemic, I latched onto certain topics and followed them rather closely. (Anything that was not about people on ventilators!) Then again, I might just be a nerd and that explains why I follow up on certain topics. But really, how can anyone not find some desire to better understand the effects of swamping the shipping industry with cargo, as happened in 2020?

Regardless of the reason, I have found interest in the costs of homes, reading today that the median price of one in Californian is $800,000. The stock of available homes for sale, the construction of new ones, along with the housing bubble is a topic I enjoy hearing about from our realtor friends.

I also find my curiosity heightened by the worldwide problems with supply chains concerning a wide swath of products. When masks, disinfectant wipes, and meat products had shortages and distribution problems during the pandemic there was a desire to better understand why. In the middle of 2021, as the shortages continue, and the world is impacted, as with the lack of computer chips for new auto construction, there are many others now trying to understand the reasons, too.

WISC reported on this issue Tuesday.

Tim Metcalfe, owner of Metcalfe’s Market, has seen it too. Paper towels, toilet paper, cleaning supplies, and bottles of water are once again in short supply at his Madison-based stores.

“We might not have Dasani,” Metcalfe said. “But we do have ‘Everyday Essential.’ There’s always product available. It might just be a different brand.”

Part of the problem is increased demand: Grocery sales are up about 14% nationally from this time two years ago. But it’s also the result of a supply chain issue.

With the supply shortages, comes naturally an uptick in prices.

Kurt Bauer, president of business lobbying group Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce said that the supply chain is also causing issues because production hasn’t rebounded from the downturn caused by COVID-19.

“It takes a while for production to fill that demand, and so there’s more demand than there’s supply,” said Bauer.

Bauer said those issues are feeding into inflationary pressures, which are trickling down to consumers.

“Right now, what we’re seeing is something akin to an accident on a busy highway,” said Bauer. “There’s a bottleneck, and it takes time for traffic to resume normal flow after the accident is cleared.”

Bauer said as shortages ease, some prices could be driven down, but he said inflationary pressures “are here to stay, at least for the time being.”

The New York Times approached this topic from a worldwide perspective this week.

In the face of an enduring shortage of computer chips, Toyota announced this month that it would slash its global production of cars by 40 percent. Factories around the world are limiting operations — despite powerful demand for their wares — because they cannot buy metal parts, plastics and raw materials. Construction companies are paying more for paint, lumber and hardware, while waiting weeks and sometimes months to receive what they need.

In Britain, the National Health Service recently advised that it must delay some blood tests because of a shortage of needed gear. A recent survey by the Confederation of British Industry found the worst shortages of parts in the history of the index, which started in 1977.

The Great Supply Chain Disruption is a central element of the extraordinary uncertainty that continues to frame economic prospects worldwide. If the shortages persist well into next year, that could advance rising prices on a range of commodities. As central banks from the United States to Australia debate the appropriate level of concern about inflation, they must consider a question none can answer with full confidence: Are the shortages and delays merely temporary mishaps accompanying the resumption of business, or something more insidious that could last well into next year?

The economic levers and interworking parts of a global supply network may seem dry and academic. Until the item we wish to buy at the local store or purchase overnight through Amazon is just not available.

And so it goes.

No Black And White About Exit Strategy In Afghanistan

If you listen to the angry politicians who take to the airwaves and pontificate over Afghanistan a listener might be falsely led to believe that there are absolutes at play in the end to the nation’s 20-year war in that nation. Nothing, however, could be further from the truth.

Over the past weeks, I have very much limited my intake of the reactionary Republicans on Capitol Hill who consider a dialogue on par with a fourth grader to be the extent needed when conversing on this topic. Making only inflammatory remarks when an international crisis flares are not my definition of leadership.

In addition, it is not possible to have the sureness the Republicans are pushing without the context of how we arrived at this point in time. That of course does not stop them from talking, nor those who listen from gobbling up the pablum.

I have found the best path to facts and analysis about Afghanistan are the same sources I use continuously. The Economist, Foreign Affairs, The New Yorker, NPR, and BBC.

And of course, The New York Times.

I want a broad-based and intelligent perspective on what is taking place.

Sunday the NYT ran a superb news analysis article written by Peter Baker. If Baker writes it there is no way one should miss it. He is one of our essential reporters in America today.

Baker certainty questions the approach taken by President Biden, but also places the exit from Afghanistan in the larger arena of events.

Under the four-page deal signed in February 2020, Mr. Trump agreed to withdraw all American troops by May 1, 2021, lift sanctions and compel the release of 5,000 prisoners held by the Afghan government, which was cut out of the negotiations. The Taliban committed to not attacking American troops on the way out or letting terrorist groups use Afghanistan as a base to attack the United States.

While the Taliban agreed to talk with the Afghan government, nothing in the publicly released part of the deal prevented it from taking over the country by force as it ultimately did and reimposing its repressive regime of torture, murder and subjugation of women. It was such a one-sided bargain that even Mr. Trump’s former national security adviser H.R. McMaster called it a “surrender agreement.”

Following the deal, Mr. Trump reduced American forces in Afghanistan to 4,500 from 13,000. Eager to be the president to end the warhe signed a memo to the Pentagon instructing it to pull out all remaining forces by Jan. 15 before leaving office, but was talked out of it by advisers. Instead, he ordered the force drawn down to 2,500 troops in his final days, although about 3,500 actually remained.

For Mr. Biden, inheriting such a small force in Afghanistan meant that commanders were already left with too few troops to respond to a renewed Taliban offensive against American forces, which he deemed certain to come if he jettisoned Mr. Trump’s agreement, requiring him to send thousands more troops back in, officials said.

The Biden team considered other options, including keeping a small presence of troops for counterterrorism operations or to support Afghan security forces, but reasoned that was just “magical thinking” and would take more troops than was sustainable. They discussed whether to renegotiate the Trump agreement to extract more concessions but the Taliban made clear it would not return to the bargaining table and considered the Trump deal binding.

Mr. Biden’s advisers also considered extending the withdrawal deadline until the winter, after the traditional fighting season was over, to make the transition less dangerous for the Afghan government. The Afghanistan Study Group, a bipartisan congressionally chartered panel that was led by Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., a retired Joint Chiefs chairman and that included Ms. O’Sullivan, in February recommended extending the May 1 deadline and seeking better conditions before pulling out.

But Mr. Biden was warned by security specialists that the longer it took to withdraw after a decision was announced, the more dangerous it would become, aides said, so he extended it only until Aug. 31.

Particularly influential on Mr. Biden, aides said, were a series of intelligence assessments he requested about Afghanistan’s neighbors and near neighbors, which found that Russia and China wanted the United States to remain bogged down in Afghanistan.

“Biden basically faced the same issue that Trump faced,” said Vali Nasr, who was a senior adviser to Richard C. Holbrooke, Mr. Obama’s special representative on Afghanistan and Pakistan, “and his answer was the same — we’re not going to go back in, we have to get out.”

Republican criticism now, he added, was brazenly hypocritical. “They’re the ones who released all these Taliban commanders, they’re the ones who signed this deal,” he said.

Mark T. Esper, a defense secretary under Mr. Trump, agreed that the deal was flawed and in fact argued against drawing down further in the final months of the last administration before being fired in November. In recent days, he said, “there were more options available to President Biden” than simply continuing Mr. Trump’s withdrawal.

“He could have tried to go back to the table with the Taliban and renegotiate,” Mr. Esper said on CNN. “He could have demanded, as I argued, that they agree to the conditions they established or they agreed to in the agreement and that we use military power to compel them to do that.”

How we arrived at this stage of the Afghanistan war must be viewed from the start of the mission. Republicans will not tell their constituents that , but Foreign Affairs presses the point continuously.

‘’In the aftermath of 9/11, intervention in Afghanistan took on enormous importance for the Bush administration, which was determined to prevent another catastrophic attack on American soil. But the administration had no desire to garrison Afghanistan indefinitely, so it chose to help build a successor regime to the Taliban that could presumably govern the country on its own one day—and ensure that it didn’t again become a safe haven for terrorists. The invasion of Afghanistan and the ousting of the Taliban went surprisingly smoothly, producing a quick, low-cost victory. In the flush of this initial success, the Bush administration was led to believe that the follow-up nation-building mission could be similarly easy.

The Bush administration’s first mistake was a failure to fully appreciate the geographic obstacles in the way of an Afghan reconstruction effort. Afghanistan is on the other side of the world from the United States, and in addition to being landlocked and inaccessible, it is surrounded by several powerful and predatory neighbors, including Iran, Pakistan, and nearby Russia. The only way the United States could get most of its forces and their supplies into or out of Afghanistan was through or over Pakistan—a country that did not share American objectives there and actively sought to subvert them.

Moreover, the population of Afghanistan was considerably larger than that of any other country involved in a post–World War II U.S. intervention: in 2001, Afghanistan had almost twice as many people as wartime South Vietnam. Typically, the troop-to-population ratio is an important determinant of the success of a stabilization operation. Two years before the invasion of Afghanistan, in 1999, the United States and its NATO allies had deployed 50,000 troops to stabilize Kosovo, a country of 1.9 million. Afghanistan’s population in 2001 was 21.6 million—yet by the end of 2002, there were only around 8,000 U.S. troops in a country that was more than ten times Kosovo’s size and had no army or police force of its own. There simply weren’t enough U.S. boots on the ground to secure the country the United States had captured.

One reason for the relatively small deployment was that the Bush administration did not intend for U.S. forces to assume peacekeeping or public security responsibilities—rather, they focused exclusively on tracking down residual al Qaeda elements, at the expense of the foundational security required to build a functioning state. The Bush administration also neglected to commit the necessary financial resources to the Afghan stabilization effort. In Bosnia, the United States and other donors had provided economic assistance amounting to $1,600 per inhabitant per year for the first several years after that war. The comparable figure in Afghanistan amounted to $50 per person—a paltry sum.’’