Saturday, June 26, 2010

Afghan War Drags On... Pointlessly-- Unless The Point Is To Destroy America Economically


It's not like beating the Algerian soccer team

Yesterday Speaker Pelosi sat down with Arthur Delaney of the Huffington Post for a wide-ranging interview that sheds a great deal of light on subjects of great-- and grave-- interest to the people who participate in DWT. I recommend you read it since there's just one aspect I want to deal with: Afghanistan-- well two, if you count the impact of the waste of money Afghanistan is and how that is destroying our economy and the lives of so many of our people here in America. This week we saw the Republicans (+ unofficial Republican Ben Nelson) torpedo the jobs bill, whining about how we can't afford it-- shorthand for "the rich refuse to pay their fair share of taxes and they bribe us to stand with them so, screw you."

During her HuffPo chat, Pelosi reacted by pointing out the Senate may well have sentenced us to a double-dip recession. "If we really don't address this in a very serious way, we could slip back and have another recession, and if we do it's harder to come back," said Pelosi. She also warned she isn't sure she has the votes for the supplemental war funding for Afghanistan. "I don't know how many votes there are in the caucus, even condition-based, for the war, hands down. I just don't. We'll see what the shape of it is the day of the vote." She told them she had recently "traveled into the country even more remotely than Kandahar, and the corruption issue, it's problematic. And you know what? A lot of it is our money."

The troops on the ground may well be ecstatic that the clueless and reckless asshole of a general, Stanley McCrystal, was fired by Obama this week, but it was Pelosi who vowed on Thursday to pass the war supplemental. From Roll Call on Thursday:
Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she remains committed to passing an emergency war supplemental before the July Fourth recess, despite a plea from liberals to delay a vote on the measure until “serious questions and concerns” about the war in Afghanistan that were raised in an explosive Rolling Stone article have been addressed.

“I believe it would be important for us to pass it before the Fourth of July break,” the California Democrat told reporters Thursday, the same day 25 Democrats and five Republicans wrote Pelosi asking her to delay floor consideration of the supplemental.

Much of their concern stems from excerpts from the infamous Rolling Stone McCrystal story that include "an assertion that Obama will not begin withdrawing troops in July 2011 but instead will ramp up counterinsurgency efforts... [and] that a senior military official stationed in Afghanistan is quoted as suggesting Obama could ask for a second troop surge next summer and that McChrystal’s chief of operations-- Maj. Gen. Bill Mayville-- is quoted as saying the war in Afghanistan is 'not going to look like a win, smell like a win, or taste like a win” but rather would “end in an argument'.” But what's another $33 billion, right?

Glad you asked. It's what Alan Grayson, one of the only Members of the House with a legitimate understanding of the Afghanistan problem, addressed in a video he gave Crooks and Liars yesterday:

I think most Americans would like to know-- in light of the GOP's success in killing the Jobs Bill this week, what does the White House plan to do to stop a wave of layoffs of teachers and other public employees that would probably lead to the double-dip recession Pelosi was warning about. Yes, we all know that the Pentagon boys with the fancy military toys want to play... but they've had enough time for their bullshit. It's time-- past time-- for Obama to get real with them.

Grayson's got all you need, really, but if you want more, let me leave you with a column from the Financial Times by Ahmed Rashid, It's Time To Rethink The West's Afghan Strategy:
The departure of General Stanley McChrystal as commander of the US and Nato mission in Afghanistan must usher in a review of what is a failing military strategy. At the same time, President Barack Obama’s officials must demonstrate greater unity in dealing with America’s allies and developing its approach. The appointment of General David Petraeus comes at a critical moment-- when the crisis in Afghanistan is affecting the west’s ability to project a comprehensive united foreign policy stance.

Much has been made of President Hamid Karzai’s erratic and self-serving style of ruling, especially given last year’s rigged presidential election and the corruption and poor governance of which he is often accused.

What is less well known is the dysfunctional nature of Mr Obama’s team. Since they were appointed, the senior officials who decide US policy in the region have been at loggerheads... The real crisis, however, is that the US-Nato strategy in southern Afghanistan has barely made a dent in the Taliban’s resistance, which is spreading across the country. Nato’s offensive in Marjah, in Helmand, is five months old and still has not secured the area. The anticipated surge to secure Kandahar province has been postponed due to the Taliban’s penetration of the region. Seventy-nine Nato soldiers have been killed in June so far-- the highest monthly figure since the war began.

Mr Karzai wants to talk to the Taliban not fight them. The Europeans have also been urging the Americans to start negotiations, so a political solution can be found before the start of the drawdown. But Mr Obama’s aides insist the Taliban must first be dealt a military blow.

The problem is that Americans are immature and don't want to negotiate with people we hate-- only with people we like. It doesn't make a whit of sense and many of us who voted for Obama thought he was smarter than that. And it isn't just mere voters. Even Democrats in Congress are starting to realize something is amiss-- and Obama is beginning to lose them.

UPDATE: Worse Than A Nightmare

I know I said I'd leave you with the Financial Times column, but, you know, it just wasn't that satisfying. And this morning when I woke up I saw Bob Herbert's NY Times piece and it's way more to the point, the point being that the war in Afghanistan cannot be won and that the country as a whole will not support it.
No one in official Washington is leveling with the public about what is really going on. We hear a lot about counterinsurgency, the latest hot cocktail-hour topic among the BlackBerry-thumbing crowd. But there is no evidence at all that counterinsurgency will work in Afghanistan. It’s not working now. And even if we managed to put all the proper pieces together, the fiercest counterinsurgency advocates in the military will tell you that something on the order of 10 to 15 years of hard effort would be required for this strategy to bear significant fruit.

We’ve been in Afghanistan for nearly a decade already. It’s one of the most corrupt places on the planet and the epicenter of global opium production. Our ostensible ally, President Hamid Karzai, is convinced that the U.S. cannot prevail in the war and is in hot pursuit of his own deal with the enemy Taliban. The American public gave up on the war long ago, and it is not at all clear that President Obama’s heart is really in it.

For us to even consider several more years of fighting and dying in Afghanistan-- at a cost of heaven knows how many more billions of American taxpayer dollars-- is demented.

...In Afghanistan, we are playing a dangerous, half-hearted game in which President Obama tells the America people that this is a war of necessity and that he will do whatever is necessary to succeed. Then, with the very next breath, he soothingly assures us that the withdrawal of U.S. troops will begin on schedule, like a Greyhound leaving the terminal, a year from now.

Both cannot be true.

What is true is that we aren’t even fighting as hard as we can right now. The counterinsurgency crowd doesn’t want to whack the enemy too hard because of an understandable fear that too many civilian casualties will undermine the “hearts and minds” and nation-building components of the strategy. Among the downsides of this battlefield caution is a disturbing unwillingness to give our own combat troops the supportive airstrikes and artillery cover that they feel is needed.

...We are sinking more and more deeply into the fetid quagmire of Afghanistan and neither the president nor General Petraeus nor anyone else has the slightest clue about how to get out. The counterinsurgency zealots in the military want more troops sent to Afghanistan, and they want the president to completely scrap his already shaky July 2011 timetable for the beginning of a withdrawal.

We’re like a compulsive gambler plunging ever more deeply into debt in order to wager on a rigged game. There is no victory to be had in Afghanistan, only grief. We’re bulldozing Detroit while at the same time trying to establish model metropolises in Kabul and Kandahar. We’re spending endless billions on this wretched war but can’t extend the unemployment benefits of Americans suffering from the wretched economy here at home.

The difference between this and a nightmare is that when you wake up from a nightmare it’s over. This is all too tragically real.

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At 6:15 AM, Blogger Serving Patriot said...

Amen guys. I'm glad people are starting to pick up on the MASSIVE disconnect between more $ for the Afghan quagmire and none for states, teachers and unemployed! Its time to make the Pentagon pay for the war with their own money... some of the nearly TRILLION dollars (FY10 appropriation was upwards of $600,000,000,000.00) they got for "normal" spending. And put the 'Pubes and turncoat faux-Democrats right in the public crosshairs. If there ever was a time, this is it.

Maybe some of those ads about to be run in Susan Collins' state should also be run across the country? And especially in the districts of Dem representatives wavering in their support of the next war supplemental? One thing is certain, the supplemental must come from the House and there it can -- and should -- be stopped. And if not stopped, it should be squarely yoked to EVERY member who votes for it (that will surely include every single blue dog).

The war will end when the money does. Why millions for an Afghan warlord "transportation security manager" and not a penny for a teacher, policeman, fireman or road crew?


At 5:18 PM, Anonymous me said...

"Unless The Point Is To Destroy America Economically"

Well, duh. That has been Osama bin Laden's goal all along. He said so himself.

It worked against the USSR and thanks to Bush, the republican party, and dems-in-name-only like Obama, it's working out the same here.


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