harambee, as I see it, the problem in Afghanistan is that the 'talks' for peace had consisted of almost nothing but concessions to the Taliban, including releasing hundreds or thousands of violent terrorist prisoners for nothing in return; ceding vast swaths of territory; giving up all societal and educational advances made by women and girls; and willfully endangering Afghan politicians, civil servants, and soldiers, and not least, the residents of Kabul, who have all been subjected to increasing bombs and violent attacks, in a situation that looks more and more like abject capitulation, which is not remotely the same as 'peace.'
If the US and allied forces had wanted to weaken themselves and the causes of human rights and democracy as much as possible before declaring 'peace,' i.e., defeat, there was surely hardly any more craven way to do it.
Of course Trump himself failed to honor any number of treaties or international agreements, from the Iran deal to the Paris climate accords to participation in NATO and the W.H.O.
But the Afghan 'peace' 'deal' did include some claims of cooperation by the Taliban, which they almost certainly have not carried out. It seems only prudent to examine their 'compliance' before proceeding any further down a shameful, ignominious path. And it seems reasonable to consider, again, whether past treaties were in fact good or bad for the parties involved, and the world at large, based on some principles higher than mere self-interest.
It seems highly unlikely that the US can get out of this 20-year debacle without deep, serious losses, like Russia and Britain before them. But if the Biden team can do anything at all to limit the lasting damage, surely they should at least be allowed to try.
On a totally different, more prosaic front ...
This article about the role that advertising may have played in the narrow Democratic win in Georgia was surprising and dismaying to me. I wish we didn't have to think that entire elections might turn on such cynical calculations. /-: But nevertheless, if this one did, I'm glad it at least turned out right in the end.
__________________How Alvin the Beagle Helped Usher In a Democratic Senate
Senator Raphael Warnock was sworn in this week as Georgia’s first Black senator, and he arrived with a canny canine assist. ...
The dog had a lot of work to do.
He was co-starring in a political ad that had to showcase the candidate’s good-natured warmth. But the ad also needed to deflect an onslaught of racialized attacks without engaging them directly, and to convey to white voters in Georgia that the Black pastor who led Ebenezer Baptist Church could represent them, too.
Of course, Alvin the beagle couldn’t have known any of that when he went for a walk with the Rev. Raphael Warnock last fall as a film crew captured their time together in a neighborhood outside Atlanta.
Tugging a puffer-vest-clad Mr. Warnock for an idealized suburban stroll — bright sunshine, picket fencing, an American flag — Alvin would appear in several of Mr. Warnock’s commercials pushing back against his Republican opponent in the recent Georgia Senate runoffs.
In perhaps the best known spot, Mr. Warnock, a Democrat, deposits a plastic baggie of Alvin’s droppings in the trash, likening it to his rival’s increasingly caustic ads. The beagle barks in agreement, and as Mr. Warnock declares that “we” — he and Alvin — approve of the message, the dog takes a healthy lick of his goatee. ...
While there is no singular factor responsible for victories this narrow — Mr. Warnock won by less than 100,000 votes out of roughly 4.5 million and the other new Democratic senator, Jon Ossoff, won by even less — there is bipartisan agreement that the beagle played an outsized role in cutting through the clutter in two contests that broke every Senate spending record.
“The puppy ad got people talking,” said Brian C. Robinson, a Georgia-based Republican strategist. “It made it harder to caricature him because they humanized him.”
By the end of the campaign, Warnock aides saw dog references popping up in their internal polling, supporters hoisting up their own puppies at campaign rallies in solidarity and beagle-themed homemade signs staked into front yards. They even started selling “Puppies 4 Warnock” merchandise.
All of which would probably come as a surprise to Alvin. After all, he wasn’t even Mr. Warnock’s dog. ...
There has been some discussion that the beagle — the kind of breed “we psychologically associate with white people,” as Dr. Jefferson put it — was another subtle yet intentional effort to explode racial stereotypes. Mr. Magnus said the reality was more mundane: “The dog needed to be very cute, somewhat relatable and he needed to be able to hold the dog.”
A shot of Alvin in Mr. Warnock’s arms would be the punchline.
“Get ready Georgia, the negative attacks are coming,” the candidate said, predicting smears about everything from eating pizza with a fork-and-knife to hating puppies.
“And by the way, I love puppies,” he added, cradling Alvin.
It was Mr. Warnock’s opening ad of the runoffs, and it immediately went viral online.
Mr. Warnock is not the first candidate to proclaim a love of puppies in a pre-emptive act of political self-defense. Back in 2006, another Black candidate running for Senate in Maryland, Michael Steele, a Republican, featured an ad of his own saying, essentially, the exact same thing. ...
There is a rough rule of thumb for Georgia Democrats to win: they need 30 percent of the electorate to be Black and to carry about 30 percent of the white vote.
“If you’re trying to make history in the South, and you’re trying to elect an African-American pastor in an election which you know you’re going to need white voters, then you need to do everything you can with your ad strategy to make white voters comfortable,” said Chip Lake, a Republican strategist in Georgia ...
They put the ad out right before Thanksgiving, reserving, among other programs, the annual National Dog Show.
Online, the beagle spot surged to three million views within hours, and five million in a day. ...
When the campaign commissioned its next poll after that ad, it included an open-ended question to gauge what voters thought about Mr. Warnock. Mike Bocian, the pollster, made a word cloud of the responses and could hardly believe the results.
“I saw ‘puppy’ and I saw ‘dog’ and I saw ‘poop,’” he said. “This is crazy.”
In the middle of the two most expensive Senate races in American history, Alvin had broken through.
The race remained knotted in internal polls until the end. But Mr. Bocian couldn’t help note that Mr. Warnock had taken a two-point lead after being tied in their previous survey. “You can never be sure of causality,” his voice trailed off.
On Jan. 5, Mr. Warnock won by exactly two percentage points.https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/23/us/politic...