Sunday, September 27, 2009

Obama Advisors Split On Afghanistan-- Congress Needs To Act


Ramstein is the site, in southwest Germany, of a huge U.S. airbase and of the world's most catastrophic airshow disaster in which 70 people were killed and almost 400 seriously injured (1988). It's where the hugely successful and fascistically-inclined metal band Rammstein took their name, and it's also where the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Michael Mullen, traveled Friday to meet up with U.S. proconsul for the Afghanistan occupation, General Stanley McChrystal. The general gave the admiral a request for something like-- who really knows for sure?-- 50,000 more U.S. troops for the absolutely unwinnable war in one of the worst hellholes on earth.

With only 29% of Americans favoring an increase in U.S. forces, "Obama and his top national security advisers are locked in a heated debate about the way forward in Afghanistan. The administration announced in March that it had a strategy for Afghanistan, but it's had a difficult time defining the strategy amid declining political and public support, mounting U.S. casualties, evidence that Afghan President Hamid Karzai rigged his re-election last month, pervasive official corruption, a resurgent Taliban and halfhearted assistance from neighboring Pakistan."

The heated debate has trusted Obama advisors divided between hawks like Hillary Clinton and Richard Holbrooke and those advocating or leaning towards disengagement like Colin Powell, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry, Joe Biden, National Security Advisor James Jones, Rahm Emanuel (on the right side of history for the first time in his political career) and Jack Reed who serves on the Senate Armed Service Committee as chair of the Subcommittee on Emerging Threats.

Doug Tudor is the progressive Democrat running for the open Republican seat in FL-12. He's done a lot of thinking about the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan and when I called him yesterday he certainly wasn't on the Clinton-Holbrooke team-- and he doesn't seem in the slightest bit conflicted about what he thinks we should be doing next.
“As a career military man, I appreciated The Powell Doctrine. Simply put, it states America should only go to war when national interests are at stake; the objective is clearly defined; the risks have been fully analyzed; and is there a plausible exit strategy. In other words, is the job the military being asked to do achievable, reasonable, and short-termed? Is it worth it? While there should have been a much more thorough discussion of these criteria in 2001, no reasonable person can now state that our current efforts in Afghanistan meet any of these criteria.

Simply put, there was never supposed to be a war in Afghanistan. Our job was to hunt down and kill or capture members of al Qaida. The Bush Administration perverted and then ignored that mission. It is not too late for us to reclaim that mission, but we can’t do it by furthering our current failed policies. If elected, I will not vote for a single Afghanistan War funding bill that provides monies for anything other than killing or capturing al Qaida. That means no stabilization operations, no occupation forces, and no nation-building. Period.”

Friday at the Blue America chat with Eric Massa, a retired Naval officer and congressman from upstate New York, there was an emphatic emphasis on defining the mission. Massa's position is exactly what Powell is telling Obama. Massa:
[I]s this about fighting the Taliban or fighting al-Qaeda-- two distinctly different groups-- or is it about creating a democracy, or is it about protecting the Afghan people? These are very different missions that require very different resources. And until we know what we're doing, we cannot begin to get it done. The first thing a military officer asks is 'What is the mission?' And as of right now, that is a very legitimate question... [W]e should demand a strategy that turns the destiny of Afghanistan over to the Afghans so we can get out of there as soon as possible. If the condition of our departure is creating a Jeffersonian democracy, then we are on a fool's errand.

Obama has to decide if being bogged down in an Afghan disaster is how he wants to spend his first-- and in all likelihood if he does, only-- term. He can use the crooked election as a way to get out of his boneheaded characterization of this bullshit occupation as a "war of necessity." He needs to do it right away-- part of the reason Blue America started up the No Means No! Act Blue page, which seeks to rally netroots support around the 32 courageous Democrats who voted against the supplemental war funding budget in June. Feel like doin' some rallyin' today?

Someday soon we'll be seeing stuff like this in the American mainstream press, but today's Guardian in England looks at current DC thought on what looks like a budding anti-war protest movement that's starting to show signs of Vietnamization.
As Barack Obama appears likely to increase America's already greatly enlarged troop commitment to the Afghan war, the war itself is becoming increasingly disliked.

The conflict used to be called America's "forgotten war". No longer. As casualties have spiked, so has hatred for the war: a solid 57% of Americans now oppose it. That has seen the anti-war movement in America prepare to turn its attentions from Iraq to Afghanistan, gearing up for an autumn campaign of marches and civil disobedience.

They hope to emulate the anti-Vietnam war protests, using highly visible public campaigns to force the hand of the White House to pull out of the country, not escalate the conflict.

The first major protest will happen next weekend, when anti-war protesters plan to arrange more than 500 empty pairs of boots on a grassy lawn right outside the White House. Each pair will represent an American soldier killed in the war... The honeymoon with Obama is over and the American people are not going to stand for it much longer.

...The movement is certainly tapping into a growing public mood of anger and discontent. For years, Afghanistan was seen as the "good war" as opposed to Iraq's "bad war". It had supposedly been won with relatively little loss of life, deposed a reviled government and been justified by the Taliban's open support of al-Qaida.

But now, there are more US casualties each day in Afghanistan than in Iraq, and American troop numbers will have risen dramatically to 68,000 by the end of the year. Indeed, Washington and the White House are consumed by speculation over whether Obama will accept a request from General Stanley McChrystal for yet more troops to be sent to the combat zone.

Apropos of nothing at all, of course, Rammsteinimages by famous German film-maker Leni Riefenstahl:



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At 4:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rammstein are provocateurs, nothing else... They get their jollies, and much of their following, by inciting those easily provoked by surface appearance into meaningless fervor. A little research into their lyrics and videos quickly reveals their penchant for double-meanings in language, symbolism, and philosophically left-leaning ideals. (Often Anti-imperialistic messages i.e. Amerika, Moskau)

Their use of the Riefenstahl film plays into their hands perfectly. It happens to be called "Olympia", and is meant to document the Olympics in Berlin in 1936(a world-unifying event, before the War). Just because it was made by Riefenstahl is incidental, and gets the goat of anyone who would stop there and look no further.

I applaud your theme of "Down With Tyranny!", but don't let yourself get carried away by judging too quickly. I get it though, I had to do my own research before I was convinced they weren't secretly Nazi. ;)


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