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It is in the prosecution of some single object, and in striving to reach its accomplishment by the combined application of his moral and physical energies, that the true happiness of man, in his full vigour and development, consists. Possession, it is true, crowns exertion with repose; but it is only in the illusions of fancy that it has power to charm our eyes. If we consider the position of man in the universe,—if we remember the constant tendency of his energies towards some definite activity, and recognize the influence of surrounding nature, which is ever provoking him to exertion, we shall be ready to acknowledge that repose and possession do not indeed exist but in imagination. - Wilhelm von Humboldt, The Sphere and Duties of Government (The Limits of State Action) (1854 ed.)

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Catching Up with Afghanistan

Chris Floyd
  • Road to Perdition: Yet Another Atrocity in Afghanistan, More to Come
    No doubt the "NATO-led" investigation of the Helmland "incident" will find that yet another magnificent feat of arms has produced an unfortunate by-product: i.e, the corpses of at least 15 innocent children, including a six-month old baby. But as Seamus Milne points out in the Guardian, the mounting death toll of Afghan civilians is the result of deliberate policy, not "regrettable" accident or the mischance of war:
  • The Wounded Shark: 'Good War' Lost, But the Imperial Project Goes On
    Don't tell Obama and McCain, but the war they are both counting on to make their bones as commander-in-chief -- the "good war" in Afghanistan, which both men have pledged to expand -- is already lost. Their joint strategy of pouring more troops, tanks, missiles and planes into the roaring fire -- not to mention their intention to spread the war into Pakistan -- will only lead to disaster.

    Who says so? America's biggest ally in the Afghan adventure: Great Britain. This week, two top figures in the British effort in Afghanistan -- Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles, UK ambassador to Kabul, and Brigadier Mark Carleton-Smith, the senior British military commander in Afghanistan -- both said that the war was "unwinnable," and that continuing the current level of military operations there, much less expanding it, was a strategy "doomed to fail."

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