Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Obama's War

I had hoped Obama wasn't actually serious about nation-building in Afghanistan, that stony place, because it could serve as a useful diversion for filtering troops out of Iraq, for declaring quick victory, and then bouncing them home. A hemi-surge, if you will, a ready means to cut losses. But all signs indicate he is set to take his babblings about moral obligations seriously, eating foreign policy lotus blossoms in a temple by a bubbling fountain, burning incense while chanting over a copy of the Wall Street Journal. In short, this is the stuff epic disasters are made of, and if his pronouncements are not pure and brilliant sophistries, the war in Afghanistan is already lost. Via his mouth, our stated aims are to:
promote a more capable and accountable Afghan government . . . advance security, opportunity and justice . . . develop an economy that isn’t dominated by illicit drugs.
None of that is going to happen. Those goals are "off the table," Vietnamistan-style, so it's time for us to "move on." Obama can't wave a Hopey Wand and achieve any of those objectives, and in a world where states like Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Niger, Georgia, Lebanon and Alaska are vulnerable to al-Qaeda and unsafe for Wal-marts, it should not take a genius to realize one screamingly obvious fact:

AFGHANISTAN IS NOT IMPORTANT!

Rather, it is a vacuum the US has amply filled after sponsoring both sides in the current conflict. Past proxies are fighting our new proxies. That may be confusing, but it means we have no excuse for getting paranoid-schizo over control, as all within its borders know. Rory Stewart, the modern Lawrence of Arabia for Iraq and Afghanistan, has written a devastating critique of Western policy re: those parts in the London Review of Books, titled 'The Irresistible Illusion.' His advice is to scale back objectives, combat troops, and to emphasize development. He donned hip-waders for examining the official BS, and came back to translate realistic, lower-cost prescriptions into ambassadorial language:
...the presence of NATO special forces, the challenging logistical and political conditions in Afghanistan and lack of technological capacity, are likely to impede al-Qaida in Afghanistan from posing a significant threat to UK or US national security. Instead development in South Asia should remain the key strategic priority for the UK government in the region.
Custer should not have attacked at Little Big Horn, and he would've gotten much further by focusing on the dwindling buffalo herds.

7 comments:

A. Peasant said...

maybe the developing crisis over Major Stefan Frederick Cook will blossom into something useful. as i understand it if he can't accept orders from Obama then who can? another house of cards collapses. there is an inextricable logic to it and yes it seems crazy but the crazies run the show here so you never know.

Vigilante said...

Post 9-11, post 7/7 bombings, post Mumbai attacks, post-Bush failure to get Osama bin Laden, post-Iraguagmire, post-world economy collapse, what looms essential is investment in domestic anti-terrorism security. (We need more anti-suitcase bombing devices.) We will spend our selves down the toilet even faster with anymore $$$ into Iraqistan and Afghanistan. Where we need to take a stand is Pakistan. No boots on the ground. Just $upport.

MarcLord said...

Pez,

that kind of thing will get around the military fast, regardless of veracity or if it was a political stunt. the army would have to take the refusals and suits seriously...

MarcLord said...

Hi Vig,

that's quite a long list of fiascoes when you put it that way...the worst risks by far are domestic.

Zoey and Me said...

Many independents counted on O-man to bring the troops home. Mark my words: if that doesn't happen, neither will Obama get re-elected. You heard it here first.

MarcLord said...

Zoey-phyte,

I did hear it here first! I fear you are right. The cost of the war approximately equals the deficit, and most people don't put that together. As soon as you ask the questions "why are we in Afganistan, anyway," and "do you know how much it costs," they get pissed off.

MadMike said...

The fact is the war in Afghanistan is an absolute necessity. This is not Iraq and it is not Vietnam. One cannot make comparisons between the latter and the former because there is no comparison.

Our reasons for being in Vietnam are completely different than our reasons for being in the Middle East. The culture is different, the terrain is different, and the technology is different.

We should never have invaded Iraq. It was disastrous move. Iraq was never a threat to us. It was a political move by a feckless and irresponsible president. His actions cost the lives of thousands of Americans and hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians.

Afghanistan is a different kind of critter. It was home to the most dangerous terrorist army the world has ever seen and that is al Qaeda. The Taliban, whose goals and objectives are no different from those of al Qaeda, gave them a base from which to operate. After 9/11 we bombed them into virtual oblivion and that was the right thing to do. The wrong thing to do was to open up another front in Iraq and take our eyes off the ball in Afghanistan. Now the president, inheriting another Bush war, must address a most serious problem. He has to keep al Qaeda from seizing Pakistan, with the help of the Taliban of course. If they are allowed to do that the terrorists will have nukes and they will use them without blinking an eye on the United States. Millions will die.

This has nothing to do with money and it should not be a consideration unless someone can tell me how much human life is worth. Like it or not, we must support the war in Afghanistan. If we lose it we will literally lose the "hearts and minds" of Americans.