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Thread: Victory at last! Monty Python in Afghanistan

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    Elite Member witchcurlgirl's Avatar
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    Default Victory at last! Monty Python in Afghanistan

    Let others deal with the details of President Obama’s Afghan speech, with the on-ramps and off-ramps, those 30,000 US troops going in and just where they will be deployed, the benchmarks for what’s called “good governance” in Afghanistan, the corruption of the Karzai regime, the viability of counterinsurgency warfare, the reliability of NATO allies, and so on. Let’s just skip to the most essential point which, in a nutshell, is this: Victory at Last!

    It’s been a long time coming, but finally American war commanders have effectively marshaled their forces, netcentrically outmaneuvering and outflanking the enemy. They have shocked-and-awed their opponents, won the necessary hearts-and-minds, and so, for the first time in at least two decades, stand at the heights of success, triumphant at last.

    And no, I’m not talking about post-surge Iraq and certainly not about devolving Afghanistan. I’m talking about what’s happening in Washington.

    A Symbolic Surrender of Civilian Authority

    You may not think so, but on Tuesday night from the US Military Academy at West Point, in his first prime-time presidential address to the nation, Barack Obama surrendered. It may not have looked like that: there were no surrender documents; he wasn’t on the deck of the USS Missouri; he never bowed his head. Still, from today on, think of him not as the commander-in-chief, but as the commanded-in-chief.

    And give credit to the victors. Their campaign was nothing short of brilliant. Like the policy brigands they were, they ambushed the president, held him up with their threats, brought to bear key media players and Republican honchos, and in the end made off with the loot. The campaign began in late September with a strategic leak of Afghan War commander General Stanley McChrystal’s grim review of the situation in that country, including demands for sizeable troop escalations and a commitment to a counterinsurgency war. It came to include rumors of potential retirements in protest if the president didn’t deliver, as well as clearly insubordinate policy remarks by General McChrystal, not to speak of an impressive citizen-mobilization of inside-the-Beltway former neocon or fighting liberal think-tank experts, and a helping hand from an admiring media. In the process, the US military succeeded in boxing in a president who had already locked himself into a conflict he had termed both “the right war” and a “necessary” one. After more than two months of painfully over-reported deliberations, President Obama has now ended up essentially where General McChrystal began.

    Counterinsurgency (COIN) doctrine was dusted off from the moldy Vietnam archives and made spanking new by General David Petraeus in 2006, applied in Iraq (and Washington) in 2007, and put forward for Afghanistan in late 2008. It has now been largely endorsed, and a major escalation of the war--a new kind of military-led nation building (or, as they like to say, “good governance”) is to be cranked up and set in motion. COIN is being billed as a “population-centric,” not “enemy-centric” approach in which US troops are distinctly to be "nation-builders as well as warriors."

    And as for those 30,000 troops, most expected to arrive in the Afghan combat zone within the next six months, the numbers are even more impressive when you realize that, as late as the summer of 2008, the US only had about 28,000 troops in Afghanistan. In other words, in less than two years, US troop strength in that country will have more than tripled to approximately 100,000 troops. So we’re talking near-Vietnam-level escalation rates. If you include the 38,000 NATO forces also there (and a possible 5,000 more to come), total allied troop strength will be significantly above what the Soviets deployed during their devastating Afghan War of the 1980s in which they fought some of the same insurgents now arrayed against us.

    Think of this as Barack Obama’s anti-MacArthur moment. In April 1951, in the midst of the Korean War, President Harry Truman relieved Douglas MacArthur of command of American forces. He did so because the general, a far grander public figure than either McChrystal or Centcom commander Petraeus (and with dreams of his own about a possible presidential run), had publicly disagreed with, and interfered with, Truman’s plans to “limit” the war after the Chinese intervened.

    Obama, too, has faced what Robert Dreyfuss in Rolling Stone calls a “generals’ revolt”--amid fears that his Republican opposition would line up behind the insubordinate field commanders and make hay in the 2010 and 2012 election campaigns. Obama, too, has faced a general, Petraeus, who might well have presidential ambitions, and who has played a far subtler game than MacArthur ever did. After more than two months of what right-wing critics termed “dithering” and supporters called “thorough deliberations,” Obama dealt with the problem quite differently. He essentially agreed to subordinate himself to the publicly stated wishes of his field commanders. (Not that his Republican critics will give him much credit for doing so, of course.) This is called “politics” in our country and, for a Democratic president in our era, Tuesday night’s end result was remarkably predictable.

    When Obama bowed to the Japanese emperor on his recent Asian tour, there was a media uproar in this country. Even though the speech Tuesday night should be thought of as bowing to the American military, there is likely to be little complaint on that score. Similarly, despite the significance of symbolism in Washington, there has been surprisingly little discussion about the president’s decision to address the American people not from the Oval Office, but from the US Military Academy at West Point.

    It was there that, in 2002, George W. Bush gave a speech before the assembled cadets in which he laid out his aggressive strategy of preventive war, which would become the cornerstone of “the Bush Doctrine.” (“If we wait for threats to fully materialize, we will have waited too long--Our security will require transforming the military you will lead--a military that must be ready to strike at a moment's notice in any dark corner of the world. And our security will require all Americans to be forward-looking and resolute, to be ready for preemptive action when necessary to defend our liberty and to defend our lives.”) But keep in mind that this was still a graduation speech and presidents have traditionally addressed one of the military academies at graduation time.

    Obama is not a man who appears in prop military jackets with “commander-in-chief” hand-stitched across his heart before hoo-aahing crowds of soldiers, as our last president loved to do, and yet in his first months in office he has increasingly appeared at military events and associated himself with things military. This speech represents another step in that direction. Has a president ever, in fact, given a non-graduation speech at West Point, no less a major address to the American people? Certainly, the choice of venue, and so the decision to address a military audience first and other Americans second, not only emphasized the escalatory military path chosen in Afghanistan, but represented a kind of symbolic surrender of civilian authority.

    For his American audience, and undoubtedly his skittish NATO allies as well, the president did put a significant emphasis on an exit strategy from the war. That off-ramp strategy was, however, placed in the context of the training of the woeful Afghan security forces to take control of the struggle themselves and the woeful government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai to turn over a new nation-building leaf. Like the choice of West Point, this, too, seemed to resonate with eerie echoes of the years in which George W. Bush regularly intoned the mantra: “As Iraqis stand-up, we will stand down.”

    In his address, Obama offered July 2011 as the date to begin a withdrawing the first US troops from Afghanistan. (“After 18 months, our troops will begin to come home.”) However, according to the Washington-insider Nelson Report, a White House “on background” press briefing Tuesday afternoon made it far clearer that the president was talking about a “conditions based withdrawal.” It would, in other words, depend “on objective conditions on the ground,” on whether the Afghans had met the necessary “benchmarks.” When asked about the “scaling back” of the American war effort, General McChrystal recently suggested a more conservative timeline--“sometime before 2013”--seconded hazily by Said Jawad, the Afghan ambassador to Washington. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates refers to this as a "thinning out" of US forces.

    In fact, there’s no reason to put faith in any of these hazy deadlines. After all, this is the administration that came into office announcing a firm one-year closing date for the US prison in Guantanamo (now officially missed), a firm sunshine policy for an end-of-2009 release of millions of pages of historical documents from the archives of the CIA and other intelligence and military services (now officially delayed, possibly for years), and of course a firm date for the withdrawal of US combat troops, followed by all US forces from Iraq (now possibly slipping).

    Finish the job in Afghanistan? Based on the plans of the field commanders to whom the president has bowed, on the administration’s record of escalation in the war so far, and on the quiet reassurances to the Pakistanis that we aren’t leaving Afghanistan in any imaginable future, this war looks to be all job and no finish. Whatever the flourishes, that was the essence of Tuesday night’s surrender speech.

    Monty Python in Afghanistan

    Honestly, if it weren’t so grim, despite all the upbeat benchmarks and encouraging words in the president’s speech, this would certainly qualify as Monty Python in Afghanistan. After all, three cabinet ministers and twelve former ministers are under investigation in Afghanistan itself on corruption charges. And that barely scratches the surface of the problems in a country that one Russian expert recently referred to as an “international drug firm,” where at least one-third of the gross national product comes from the drug trade.

    In addition, as Juan Cole wrote at his Informed Comment blog:
    “Months after the controversial presidential election that many Afghans consider stolen, there is no cabinet, and parliament is threatening to go on recess before confirming a new one because the president is unconstitutionally late in presenting the names. There are grave suspicions that some past and present cabinet members have engaged in the embezzlement of substantial sums of money.

    There is little parliamentary oversight. Almost no one bothers to attend the parliamentary sessions. The cabinet ministries are unable to spend the money allocated to them on things like education and rural development, and actually spent less in absolute terms last year than they did in the previous two years.”

    In addition, the Taliban now reportedly take a cut of the billions of dollars in US development aid flowing into the country, much of which is otherwise squandered, and of the American money that goes into “protecting& rdquo; the convoys that bring supplies to US troops throughout the country. One out of every four Afghan soldiers has quit or deserted the Afghan National Army in the last year, while the ill-paid, largely illiterate, hapless Afghan police with their “well-deserved reputation for stealing and extorting bribes,” not to speak of a drug abuse rate estimated at 15 percent, are, as its politely put, “years away from functioning independently”; and the insurgency is spreading to new areas of the country and reviving in others.
    Good governance? Good grief!

    Not that Washington, which obviously feels that it has much to impart to the Afghan people about good governance and how to deal with corruption, has particularly firm ground to stand on. After all, the United States has just completed its first billion-dollar presidential election in a $5 billion election season, and two administrations just propped up some of the worst financial scofflaws in the history of the world and got nothing back in return.

    Meanwhile, the money flowing into Washington political coffers from Wall Street, the military-industrial complex, the pharmaceutical and health care industries, real estate, legal firms, and the like might be thought of as a kind of drug in itself. At the same time, according to USA Today, at least 158 retired generals and admirals, many already pulling in military pensions in the range of $100,000-$200,000, have been hired as “senior mentors” by the Pentagon “to offer advice under an unusual arrangement”: they also work for companies seeking Defense Department contracts.

    In Congress, a Senate maneuver which only a few years ago was so rare that the response to it was nicknamed “the nuclear option”--needing a 60-vote majority to pass anything of significance--has, almost without comment, become a commonplace for the passage of just about anything. This means Congress is eternally in a state of gridlock. And that’s just for starters when it comes to ways in which the US government, so ready to surge its military and its civilian employees into Afghanistan in the name of good governance, is in need of repair, if not nation-building itself.

    Airless in Washington

    It’s nonetheless the wisdom of this Washington and of this military that Obama has not found wanting, at least when it comes to Afghanistan.

    So here’s a question: Why did he listen to them? And under such circumstances, why should we take the results seriously?

    Stop for a moment and consider the cast of characters who offered the president the full range of advice available in Washington--all of which, as far as we can tell, from Joe Biden’s “counterterrorism-plus” strategy to McChrystal’s COIN and beyond, was escalatory in nature. These are, of course, the wise men (and woman) of our era. But just a cursory glance at their collective record should at least make you wonder:

    Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is now said to be the official with the best ties to Afghan President Hamid Karzai and so the one in charge of “coaxing& rdquo; him into a round of reasonable nation-building, of making “a new compact" with the Afghan people by “improving governance and cracking down on corruption”; and yet, in the early 1990s, in her single significant nation-building experience at home, she botched the possibility of getting a universal health-care bill through Congress. She also had the “wisdom” to vote in 2003 to authorize the invasion of Iraq.

    Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, reputedly deeply trusted by the president and in charge of planning out our military future in Afghanistan, was in the 1980s a supposed expert on the Soviet Union as well as deputy CIA director and later deputy to National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft. Yet, in those years, he couldn’t bring himself to believe that the Soviets were done for even as that empire was disappearing from the face of the Earth. In the words of former National Security Council official Roger Morris, Gates “waged a final battle against the Soviets, denying at every turn that the old enemy was actually dying.” As former CIA official Melvin Goodman has put the matter: “Gates was wrong about every key intelligence question of the 1980s... A Kremlinologist by training, Gates was one of the last American hardliners to comprehend the changes taking place in the Soviet Union. He was wrong about Mikhail Gorbachev, wrong about the importance of reform, wrong about Moscow's pursuit of arms control and détente with the United States. He was wrong about the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan...”

    Vice-President Joe Biden, recently described as potentially “the second-most-powerful vice president in history” as well as “the president’s all-purpose adviser and sage” on foreign policy, was during the Bush years a believer in nation-building in Afghanistan, voted to authorize the invasion of Iraq, and later promoted the idea--like Caesar re: Gaul--of dividing that country into three parts (without, of course, bothering to ask the Iraqis), while leaving 25,000-30,000 American troops based there in perpetuity, while “these regions build up their state police forces.”

    General Stanley McChrystal, our war commander in Afghanistan and now the poster boy for counterinsurgency warfare, had his skills honed purely in the field of counterterrorism. He was a Special Ops guy. The man who is now to “protect” the Afghan people previously won his spurs as the head of the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) in Iraq and Afghanistan. He ran the “manhunters” – essentially, that is, he was the leader of a team of assassins and evidently part of what reporter Seymour Hersh has termed an "executive assassination wing" of that command, possibly taking orders directly from Vice President Dick Cheney. His skills involved guns to the head, not protective boots on the ground.

    General David Petraeus, the general leading everything, who has been practically deified in the US media, is perhaps the savviest and most accomplished of this crew. He surged into Iraq in 2007 and, with the help of fortuitous indigenous developments, staunched the worst of the bleeding, leaving behind a big question mark. His greatest skill, however, has been in fostering the career of David Petraeus. He is undoubtedly an advisor with an agenda and in his wake come a whole crew of military and think-tank experts, with almost unblemished records of being wrong in the Bush years, whom the surge in Iraq recredentialized.

    Karl Eikenberry, our ambassador to Kabul, in his previous career in the US military served two tours of duty in Afghanistan, and as the commander of Combined Forces Command Afghanistan was the general responsible for building up the Afghan army and “reforming” that country’s police force. On both counts, we know how effective that attempt proved.

    And when it comes to key figures with well-padded Washington CVs like Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, or James Jones, present national security advisor and former commandant of the Marine Corps, as well as the Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, a close friend of Senator John McCain, and a former revolving-door board member of Chevron and Boeing, remind me just what sticks in your mind about their accomplishments?

    So, when you think about Barack Obama’s Afghan decisions, imagine first that the man considered the smartest, most thoughtful president of our era chose to surround himself with these people. He chose, that is, not fresh air, or fresh thought in the field of foreign and war policy, but the airless precincts where the combined wisdom of Washington and the Pentagon now exists, and the remarkable lack of accomplishment that goes with it. In short, these are people whose credentials largely consist of not having been right about much over the years.

    Admittedly, this administration has called in practically every Afghan expert in sight. Everyone involved could now undoubtedly expound on relatively abstruse questions of Afghan tribal politics, locate Paktia Province on a map in a flash, and tell you just which of Hamid Karzai’s ministers are under investigation for corruption.

    Unfortunately, the most essential problem isn’t in Afghanistan; it’s here in the United States, in Washington, where knowledge is slim, egos large, and national security wisdom is deeply imprinted on a system bleeding money and breaking down. The president campaigned on the slogan, “Change we can believe in.” He then chose as advisors--in the economic sphere as well, where a similar record of gross error, narrow and unimaginative thinking, and over-identification with the powerful could easily be compiled--a crew who had never seen a significant change, or an out-of-the-ordinary thought it could live with--and still can’t.

    As a result, the Iraq War has yet to begin to go away, the Afghan War is being escalated in a major way, the Middle East is in some turmoil, Guantanamo remains open, black sites are still operating in Afghanistan, the Pentagon’s budget has grown yet larger, and supplemental demands on Congress for yet more money to pay for George W. Bush’s wars will, despite promises otherwise, soon enough be made.

    A stale crew breathing stale air has ensured that Afghanistan, the first of Bush’s disastrous wars, is now truly Obama’s War; and the news came directly from West Point where the president surrendered to his militarized fate.

    Victory at Last! Monty Python in Afghanistan
    It's no longer a dog whistle, it's a fucking trombone


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  2. #2
    Elite Member Grimmlok's Avatar
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    hope! change!
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    Friend of Gossip Rocks! buttmunch's Avatar
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    Christ, their trying a modified version of COIN, something that is backed by and was suggested by the top military leaders heading up the effort in Afghanistan. They have to do something because after all these years of nothing happening there, combined with the resurgent Taliban in some key areas, it's getting pretty desperate. It's not nation building as such, because there is an end game, it's simple good sense to sort things out and override a somewhat corrupt government by going directly to local leaders.
    'Those who sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither.' Ben Franklin

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    Elite Member McJag's Avatar
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    I think this could help the plight of women there,at least making some strides. I hope so-I can hardly bear to think of how they are treated ...
    I didn't start out to collect diamonds, but somehow they just kept piling up.-Mae West

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    Elite Member darksithbunny's Avatar
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    And now for something completely different...

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    Elite Member Chilly Willy's Avatar
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    The war will be over soon!
    Hello mother fucker! when you ask a question read also the answer instead of asking another question on an answer who already contain the answer of your next question!
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  7. #7
    Elite Member witchcurlgirl's Avatar
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    Obama's War


    At a time when the continuing economic crisis is creating ever more hardship for the vast majority of Americans and placing ever greater demands on the federal budget, we need clearheaded leadership that is able to strip away myth and dogma and define afresh our most pressing problems and the right strategy for dealing with them. Sadly, in announcing his administration's decision to send 30,000 more American troops to Afghanistan on top of the 68,000 already there, President Obama has fallen short of this test of leadership.

    Not only did the president and his national security team reject far less costly options that would have allowed us to disengage militarily from the conflict in a responsible way; they have decided on a strategy that is so full of muddled thinking and so wasteful of lives and resources that it must be opposed as contrary to the best interests of the American people. And his vow to begin withdrawing troops in July 2011 seems not so much part of a carefully considered stabilization strategy for Afghanistan as a way to placate growing Congressional and popular opposition to a war entering its ninth year.

    As Obama argued in his West Point speech, the principal purpose of our involvement is "to disrupt, dismantle and defeat Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and to prevent its capacity to threaten America and our allies in the future." But he failed to explain why that goal requires 100,000 troops at a cost of nearly $100 billion. By the military's own calculation, there are at most 100 Al Qaeda operatives, mostly low-level, in Afghanistan, the leadership having fled to Pakistan years ago.

    In making this war the key to America's national security strategy against terrorism, Obama has chosen to perpetuate some damaging myths. The first of these is the notion that the greatest danger to American security is a terrorist attack from Afghanistan. This ignores the fact that 9/11 was not launched from Afghanistan and that Al Qaeda can operate relatively freely not only in parts of Pakistan but in Somalia, Yemen and other countries. The best way to keep Americans safe from terrorism is through effective intelligence, expert police work and judicious homeland defense. These practical measures cost far less than war and occupation in Muslim lands, which arouse hatred of the United States--and give strength to Islamist extremists.

    The president nonetheless suggested that there is a larger US interest in stabilizing Afghanistan. But if that is so, he did not explain how a strategy that has so far failed will be successful in the future. He seems to be buying into the counterinsurgency myth: namely, that by deploying more forces to protect the Afghan population in urban centers, by laying down more benchmarks for the government, by mixing in more economic assistance and by training more army and police, we can transform Afghanistan into a coherent nation-state with a functioning government.

    The undeniable fact is that eight years of US occupation and war have led to a growing insurgency, fueled by anger at one of the world's most corrupt governments, run mostly by former and not-so-former warlords who were installed by the United States after 9/11. Many of these warlords are deeply involved in the opium trade, among them the brother of Hamid Karzai, the president, who was re-elected only through massive fraud. Obama was not very convincing when he acknowledged this fraud even as he declared that the resulting government was consistent with Afghanistan's laws and Constitution. And he did not inspire confidence that we will improve our ability to train the Afghan army and police, given current desertion rates.

    Although Obama declared that success in Afghanistan is "inextricably linked" to our "partnership" with Pakistan, he has turned reality on its head by embracing the Pakistan myth: that stabilizing Afghanistan is the key to stabilizing Pakistan. But US pressure on the Taliban in Afghanistan is pushing more militants into Pakistan, with the potential for upsetting the delicate political balance there and spreading the Pakistani insurgency beyond the border regions. As many experts argue, elements within Pakistan's military and intelligence services support the Taliban not because they are afraid we're going to leave but because they worry we are going to stay and further open up their backyard to Indian influence. As we should have learned from the past few years, Pakistanis will confront Islamist extremists only when they feel threatened by them, not because a very unpopular Washington wants them to. The Obama administration is deluding itself and the American people if it believes its counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan is going to change that reality in any appreciable way. And America's covert counterinsurgency in Pakistan itself (see Jeremy Scahill's investigation on page 11) is all too likely to deepen what is already widespread anti-American sentiment among Pakistanis.

    This is a tragic moment for the nation and for Obama's presidency. It is true that it would have taken great courage for Obama to do the right thing and end his predecessor's war. He would have faced harsh blowback from the right, the military and the media establishment. But in a war-weary and economically distressed nation, Obama could have used his impressive oratorical and political skills to marshal the public to his side. Instead, with this escalation, we see the continuing grip of the national security state, whose premises have been shared by conservative and liberal hawks for close to sixty years, and which essentially remain unchallenged among the establishment and the mainstream media. Obama is now at risk of being held hostage to this mindset, as a war bequeathed to him by a reckless and destructive administration becomes his own.

    The failure to explore alternatives to military escalation reveals a deeper structural problem: the fact that there are too few countervailing voices or centers of power and authority to challenge the liberal hawks and interventionists, and rarely are they allowed to enter the halls of power.

    Our work now as progressives is to expose the premises of this failed national security state as no longer capable of addressing the challenges of our time, from global pandemics and global warming to economic inequality and instability to nuclear proliferation and, yes, decentralized networks of terrorists. We must be strong advocates for diplomacy and security rather than military ventures that cost American lives and legitimacy. Toward the end of his speech, Obama said, "Our security and leadership does not come solely from the strength of our arms. It derives from our people." Let's hold him to his word and channel the widespread disappointment over this misguided escalation into a broad-based movement--working with Congress, activists and concerned citizens everywhere--to bring our soldiers home.


    Obama's War
    It's no longer a dog whistle, it's a fucking trombone


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    Elite Member witchcurlgirl's Avatar
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    Afghanistan: Here We Go Again

    It is already a thirty-year war begun by one Democratic president, and thanks to the political opportunism of the current Commander-in-Chief the Afghanistan war is still without end or logical purpose. President Barack Obama's own top national security adviser has stated that there are fewer than 100 Al Qaeda members in Afghanistan and that they are not capable of launching attacks. What superheroes they must be, then, to require 100,000 US troops to contain them.

    The president handled that absurdity by conflating Al Qaeda, which he admitted is holed up in Pakistan, with the Taliban and denying the McChrystal report's basic assumption that the enemy in Afghanistan is local in both origin and focus. Obama stated Tuesday in a speech announcing a major escalation of the war, "It's important to recall why America and our allies were compelled to fight a war in Afghanistan in the first place." But he then cut off any serious consideration of that question with the bald assertion that "we did not ask for this fight."

    Of course we did. The Islamic fanatics who seized power in Afghanistan were previously backed by the US as "freedom fighters" in what was once marketed as a bold adventure in Cold War one-upmanship against the Soviets. It was President Jimmy Carter, aided by a young liberal hawk named Richard Holbrooke, now Obama's civilian point man on Afghanistan, who decided to support Muslim fanatics there. Holbrooke began his government service as one of the "Best and the Brightest" in Vietnam and was involved with the rural pacification and Phoenix assassination program in that country, and he is now a big advocate of the counterinsurgency program proposed by Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal to once again win the hearts and minds of locals who want none of it. The current president's military point man, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, served in Carter's National Security Council and knows that Obama is speaking falsely when he asserts it was the Soviet occupation that gave rise to the Muslim insurgency that we abetted. Gates wrote a memoir in 1996 which, as his publisher proclaimed, exposed "Carter's never-before-revealed covert support to Afghan mujahedeen--six months before the Soviets invaded."

    Carter's national security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, was asked in a 1998 interview with the French magazine Le Nouvel Observateur if he regretted "having given arms and advice to future terrorists," and he answered, "What is most important to the history of the world? The Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-up Muslims or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the Cold War?" Brzezinski made that statement three years before the 9/11 attack by those "stirred-up Muslims."

    So here we go again, selling firewater to the natives and calling it salvation. We have decided to prop up a hopelessly corrupt Afghan government because, as Obama argued in one of the more disgraceful passages of Tuesday's West Point speech, "although it was marred by fraud, [the recent] election produced a government that is consistent with Afghanistan's laws and constitution."

    To suggest that the Afghan government will be in seriously better shape 18 months after 30,000 additional US and perhaps 5,000 more NATO troops are dispatched is bizarrely out of touch with the strategy of the McChrystal report, which calls for American troops to restructure life down to the level of the most forlorn village. Surely the civilian and military supporters of that approach who are cheering Obama on have been giving assurances that he will not be held to such an unrealistically short timeline. Evidence of this was offered in the president's speech when he said of the planned withdrawal of some forces by July of 2011: "Just as we have done in Iraq, we will execute this transition responsibly, taking into account conditions on the ground. We'll continue to advise and assist Afghanistan's security forces to ensure that they can succeed over the long haul."

    A very long haul indeed, if one checks the experience of Matthew Hoh, the former Marine captain who was credited with being as successful as anyone in implementing the counterinsurgency strategy now in vogue. In his letter of resignation as a foreign service officer in charge of one of the most hotly contested areas, Hoh wrote: "In the course of my five months of service in Afghanistan...I have lost understanding and confidence in the strategic purpose of the United States' presence in Afghanistan. ... I have observed that the bulk of the insurgency fights not for the white banner of the Taliban, but rather against the presence of foreign soldiers and taxes imposed by an unrepresentative government in Kabul."

    Maybe they should have given Capt. Hoh the Noble Peace Prize.


    Robert Scheer is the editor of Truthdig, where this article originally appeared. His latest book is The Pornography of Power: How Defense Hawks Hijacked 9/11 and Weakened America (Twelve).

    Afghanistan: Here We Go Again
    It's no longer a dog whistle, it's a fucking trombone


    All of God's children are not beautiful. Most of God's children are, in fact, barely presentable.


    If I wanted the government in my womb I'd fuck a Senator

  9. #9
    Elite Member sluce's Avatar
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    If only we had kept our focus on Afghanistan the first time instead of invading Iraq......
    You don't engage with crazies. Because they're, you know, fucking crazy. - WitchCurlGirl

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    Last Post: October 13th, 2005, 01:50 AM
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