Get Rethink Afghanistan Updates
Join us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Follow us on Twitter Get E-Mail Updates
You can help
Posted by The Agonist on May 23rd, 2013

From our partners at The Agonist

actor rpgIt may, in fact, not be the Assad government using chemical weapons. It may actually be the rebels:

Carla del Ponte told Swiss TV there were “strong, concrete suspicions but not yet incontrovertible proof”.

However, she said her panel had not yet seen evidence of government forces using chemical weapons.

This all sounds suspiciously, or eerily, depending on your point of view, like the Hans Blik/Scott Ritter warnings that Saddam Hussein possessed no chemical or biological weapons and that there was no evidence he was even trying to obtain them. In the building drumbeat towards committing war with Syria, including Israeli airstrikes over the weekend, a lone dissenter of not unsubstantial authority and credibility steps forward to try to thwart the onset of war.

Which of course puts Democrats and liberals in a quandary: for the past decade or so, we’ve been chiding neo-cons and their fellow travelers about committing what amounts to a war crime, ginning up false charges then invading a sovereign nation that, while her leader may have wished us harm, was in no position to do anything to harm us.

This warning even amps that by one: Blik and Ritter stated Hussein had none. Del Ponte is suggesting the other side is the tyrannical aggressor here.

Long-time readers of my writing know that I stand foursquare against nearly all wars: unless our very existence is threatened or we are under a clear diplomatic mandate (e.g. a pact like NATO – but even then, we ought to be holding back), we should not be committing combat troops anyplace, anytime, anyhow. So it will come as no surprise that I would oppose Barack Obama’s potential deployment of troops to Syria.

And yet, I don’t envy President Obama’s position here between Iraq and a hard case. It’s hard to stand idly by, even as a pacifist liberal as myself, and let citizens of a nation die from attacks by their own government using weapons banned by treaty.

And yet, I’m concerned about where this heads if we do commit troops. After all, there’s an uptick in confrontation in the Middle East, South Asia and Africa, some of it involving rival Islamist factions it seems, that speak to treading very very carefully.

Which makes del Ponte’s report all the more vital for consideration. We clearly should not be treading in a place where both sides “do it.”

And yet, what happens in Syria might not stay in Syria. It certainly will spill over into Lebanon and Israel, and might spread into Jordan and Iraq. And from there? Who knows.

The post Should We Be Taking This Syrias? appeared first on The Agonist.

Share this:
Bookmark and Share
Posted by DownWithTyranny on May 11th, 2013

From our partners at DownWithTyranny!

And what happens if we stay?

I’m sure it’s just a coincidence that the same week the CIA reassured Hamid Karzai that nothing– including the Sequester here– would slow down the cascade of bribes for him and his circle, he assured the Pentagon they could keep 9 bases in Afghanistan after the occupation officially “ends.”

The C.I.A.’s station chief here met with President Hamid Karzai on Saturday, and the Afghan leader said he had been assured that the agency would continue dropping off stacks of cash at his office despite a storm of criticism that has erupted since the payments were disclosed.

The C.I.A. money, Mr. Karzai told reporters, was “an easy source of petty cash,” and some of it was used to pay off members of the political elite, a group dominated by warlords.

The use of the C.I.A. cash for payoffs has prompted criticism from many Afghans and some American and European officials, who complain that the agency, in its quest to maintain access and influence at the presidential palace, financed what is essentially a presidential slush fund. The practice, the officials say, effectively undercut a pillar of the American war strategy: the building of a clean and credible Afghan government to wean popular support from the Taliban.

Instead, corruption at the highest levels seems to have only worsened. The International Monetary Fund recently warned diplomats in Kabul that the Afghan government faced a potentially severe budget shortfall partly because of the increasing theft of customs duties and officially abetted tax evasion.

Fancy that! Well, “we” get the 9 bases (if Karzai isn’t hung by his heels the day the U.S. flies out of Kabul– if he isn’t on that last helicopter or already living comfortably in Dubai or New York).

The U.S. wants to keep nine bases in Afghanistan after American combat troops withdraw in 2014 and the Afghan government will let them as long as it gets “security and economic guarantees,” President Hamid Karzai said Thursday in his first public offer in talks about the future relationship between the two uneasy allies.

Not long ago, I got into a friendly argument with a couple of progressive congresswomen who are unambiguously antiwar. And they both vote that way. But they had mixed feelings about withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan “yet.” Their concern, an understandable– if wrongheaded– one, was that “we” needed to help liberate Afghan women. Don’t get me started. I lived in Afghanistan twice– in 1969 and, for a briefer time in 1972– and not just in Kabul, but in smaller towns and in the countryside in a settlement with two family compounds. Afghan women need help, all right– but it’s not coming at the end of a bayonet… or a drone strike.

I arrived in Delhi last year on the day of the horrific gang rape that shut the city down for a week. On local TV I noticed that everyone was angry about the rape– very angry. But eventually I figured out that there were two distinct camps with anger pointed in very different directions. At first all the man-in-the-street interviews were with folks in Delhi, men and women, and they were outraged that their society was still so primitive and backward and conservative that gang rapes like this happen frequently. Eventually the man-in-the-street interviews started including unpaved streets. In the villages the anger was directed towards the victims of these sexual assaults. “How dare these women dress like that or go out without a brother or father accompanying them?” These women were ruining India. 

India is at least a century ahead of Afghanistan by any measure. So are longtime American allies Morocco and Jordan. Right now I’m in the middle of Rana Husseini’s heartbreaking book, about “honor” killings in Jordan, Murder in the Name of Honor. I’ll be talking at greater length about Husseini’s book in the future but I was started today when I read the reaction to her activism on behalf of women by a Member of Parliament who is the former Justice Minister, Abdul Karim Dughmi: “All women killed in cases of honor are prostitutes. I believe prostitutes deserve to die.” Believe me, if relatively modern, westernized countries like India, Morocco and Jordan have this kind of mindset– watch the video below– the U.S. doesn’t have the attention span or the will to help the women in far more backward, xenophobic and conservative Afghanistan.

Share this:
Bookmark and Share
Posted by DownWithTyranny on May 1st, 2013

From our partners at DownWithTyranny!

What do you know… the same cheerleaders for the disastrous war in Iraq, the endless, draining occupation of Afghanistan and the intervention in Libya are the very same people and special interests urging– demanding– that we attack Syria. Israeli dreams coming true! And believe me, Lindsey Graham and John McCain don’t give a rat’s ass that the new CBS/NY Times poll shows that the majority of Americans– across the political spectrum– don’t want anything to do with the mess in Syria.

Sixty-two percent of Americans continue to say the United States does not have a responsibility to intervene in the fighting in Syria, while 24 percent of Americans think the United States does have a responsibility to do something about the fighting between government forces and anti-government groups there– a four point increase since last month.

These are the same people who think the only way the GOP can defeat Hillary Clinton in 2016 is by inventing and perpetuating a false narrative called “Benghazi!” when intervention in Syria would, in all likelihood, make the Libya mess look positively utopian in comparison. Exactly two months ago I suggested that Obama call a plebiscite to get direction from the American people– instead of the Military-Industrial Complex special interests, Israel and their shills– on what to do about Syria. At the time, an always disgruntled McCain was bitching to the press (about Kerry’s announcement that the U.S. would send “non-lethal” aid to the Syria insurgents): “It’s a half measure. And I know from my sources that many of those weapons [provided by other countries in] are not getting through… are going to the wrong people, these jihadist outfits. And here we are 23 months into it, 70,000 dead, so it’s a small half-measure.” But Republicans in Congress are a hot mess and pulling in a million directions. Rubio joined Lindsey Graham in demanding the Administration start sending weapons to Syria, while House Armed Services Committee chairman Buck McKeon muttered darkly that arming groups “doesn’t work very well for us. At some point, they start using bullets to shoot back at us.”

Aside from the Likud, AIPAC and a bunch of crackpot evangelicals who want to bring Jesus back, who wants to see Americans fighting in Syria (or against Syria’s ally, Iran)?

Are there any “good guys” in this civil war? I heard Mouaz al-Khatib, head of the Syrian Opposition Coalition, yelling at that time that the U.S. should stop measuring the beards of the fighters and just arm them. That means– stop trying to figure out who’s a terrorist and who isn’t. And he’s right… about that. Ultimately, they’re almost ALL terrorists, at least by the U.S. definition. Any weapons or resources the U.S. gives these people will be eventually used against the U.S. and against Israel, (which is now illegally drilling for gas in the occupied Syrian Golan Heights). That’s a knowable known, to paraphrase one of Chuck Hagel’s recent predecessors even if there is no strategy and the U.S. is riding a tiger.

And in light of the Austerity agenda being imposed on the country by the Republicans and Obama’s conservative wing of the Democratic Party, we have a right to ask for an analysis of how things have gone in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya before we take the plunge into Syria, potentially the most devastating of all. I would love that analysis to be in the form of war crimes trials for Bush, Cheney, McCain, and their cronies. But that’s not going to happen. So why not just look throw one of hundreds of tiny little windows into what have happened over in the Middle East since someone seems to have given the Likud the keys to the family car. At the NY Times< this week, Matthew Rosenberg took a look at the role of bribery in our Afghan “strategy.” Not a very noble endeavor, but one that goes back to ancient times, the CIA has been doling out tens of millions of dollars to our crooked Afghan “allies.”

Former and current advisers of the Afghan leader have said the C.I.A. cash deliveries have totaled tens of millions of dollars over the past decade and have been used to pay off warlords, lawmakers and others whose support the Afghan leader depends upon.

The payments are not universally supported in the United States government. American diplomats and soldiers expressed dismay on Monday about the C.I.A.’s cash deliveries, which some said fueled corruption. They spoke privately because the C.I.A. effort is classified.

Others were not so restrained. “We’ve all suspected it,” said Representative Jason Chaffetz, Republican of Utah and a critic of the war effort in Afghanistan. “But for President Karzai to admit it out loud brings us into a bizarro world.”

…The C.I.A. money continues to flow, Mr. Karzai said Monday. “Yes, the office of national security has been receiving support from the United States for the past 10 years,” he told reporters in response to a question. “Not a big amount. A small amount, which has been used for various purposes.” He said the money was paid monthly.

Afghan officials who described the payments before Monday’s comments from Mr. Karzai said the cash from the C.I.A. was basically used as a slush fund, similarly to the way the Iranian money was. Some went to pay supporters; some went to cover other expenses that officials would prefer to keep off the books, like secret diplomatic trips, officials have said.

…The C.I.A. payments open a window to an element of the war that has often gone unnoticed: the agency’s use of cash to clandestinely buy the loyalty of Afghans. The agency paid powerful warlords to fight against the Taliban during the 2001 invasion. It then continued paying Afghans to keep battling the Taliban and help track down the remnants of Al Qaeda. Mr. Karzai’s brother Ahmed Wali, who was assassinated in 2011, was among those paid by the agency, for instance.

But the cash deliveries to Mr. Karzai’s office are of a different magnitude with a far wider impact, helping the palace finance the vast patronage networks that Mr. Karzai has used to build his power base. The payments appear to run directly counter to American efforts to clean up endemic corruption and encourage the Afghan government to be more responsive to the needs of its constituents.

“I thought we were trying to clean up waste, fraud and abuse in Afghanistan,” said Mr. Chaffetz, whose House subcommittee has investigated corruption in the country. “We have no credibility on this issue when we’re complicit ourselves. I’m sure it was more than a few hundred dollars.”

This is part of the Afghanistan way of life in a way that few Americans who haven’t spent time there will ever fathom. We shouldn’t be there– not in Afghanistan, not in Iraq… and certainly not in Syria. I thought Obama’s legacy would just be how he opened the door to killing Social Security. It looks like it may also be starting a war of choice in Syria as well. Will anyone be able to make a case that there’s still a discernible difference between the Democrats and the Republicans after that?

Share this:
Bookmark and Share
Posted by Peace Action West on February 15th, 2013

From our partners at Peace Action West

Tuesday night, President Obama announced that another 34,000 troops will come home from Afghanistan by this time next year.

This is wonderful news for those 34,000 soldiers and their friends and families. But it’s not enough for the 32,000 troops and the Afghans who will still be mired in this war.

Tell Congress to keep pushing for a quicker end to the war in Afghanistan.

President Obama is moving forward with a withdrawal plan because of the immense pressure you have helped put on the administration over the past few years. We have to remain vigilant, and so does Congress.

Rather than acknowledging the failure of the military strategy and bringing all our troops and tax dollars home, the president is trying to please antiwar voters and the Pentagon at the same time. This halfway strategy means thousands of troops and Afghan civilians will remain in harm’s way for years to come.

Tell Congress the fight to end this war isn’t over.

There are still many decisions to be made, and the Pentagon isn’t going to let up in trying to drag out this war as long as possible. The administration still hasn’t announced what will happen after 2014, but reports indicate they will keep troops on the ground far into the future.  We owe it to the people on the ground in Afghanistan to raise our voices until every soldier comes home.

Take action now.

Share this:
Bookmark and Share
Posted by DownWithTyranny on February 11th, 2013

From our partners at DownWithTyranny!

Saturday we looked at the other nightmare inherent in drone warfare: so-called collateral damage or, less elegantly, technologically indiscriminately slaughtering people’s children and other innocent family members. And so, it turns out, did the L.A. Times in an OpEd by Doyle McManus asking if we’re creating more enemies than we’re killing. He sees the drone policy problem from a perspective more similar– though not identical– to my own:

[P]rotecting the rights of U.S. citizens in Al Qaeda is only part of what is at stake; those cases are unusual. In the long run, a more important question may be whether the drone strikes, which have killed more than 3,000 people, are creating more enemies for the United States than they are eliminating.

Scholars who have studied the political effects of drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen have argued that even well-targeted raids often claim innocent victims, and the result is a backlash against the U.S. Likewise, Hayden and retired Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the former U.S. commander in Afghanistan, have warned that too many drone attacks– in Pakistan, for example, where the CIA uses “signature strikes” against suspected militants without identifying them individually– can be a bad thing.

“What scares me about drone strikes is how they are perceived around the world,” McChrystal told the Reuters news agency last month. “The resentment created by American use of unmanned strikes… is much greater than the average American appreciates. They are hated on a visceral level, even by people who’ve never seen one or seen the effects of one.”

During a hearing that lasted more than three hours, only one senator asked about that critical issue– a senior Republican, Susan Collins of Maine.

“If you looked at a map back in 2001, you would see that Al Qaeda was mainly in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and if you look at a map today, you would see Al Qaeda in all sorts of countries,” Collins said. “If the cancer of Al Qaeda is metastasizing, do we need a new treatment?”

Brennan agreed that the possibility of a backlash against drone strikes was “something we have to be very mindful of,” and that counter-terrorism strategy cannot depend solely on missile strikes. But he insisted that the critics are wrong and that populations terrorized by Al Qaeda “have welcomed the work that the U.S. government has done.”

Congress hasn’t shown much appetite for regulating the U.S. war against terrorism until now. That’s partly because there’s been little public pressure to do so; an ABC News-Washington Post Poll last year found that a whopping 79% of Americans approved of drone strikes, including against U.S. citizens.

The intelligence committees have monitored the drone war and concluded that it’s being conducted with care– although, as Feinstein notes, the evidence has been shrouded in secrecy.

But Collins shined a light on a question that can be debated in public: Are drone strikes effective in the long run, or are they creating more enemies than they kill? That’s a worthy target for Senate and House committees to go after.

The only bone I have to pick with the OpEd is that it doesn’t even bother mentioning the glaring and inherent immorality of murdering thousands of innocent civilians. And to me that’s the number one issue. Call me old fashioned. Call Bill Moyers that too:



This week, the New York Times published a chilling account of how indiscriminate killing remains bad policy even today. This time, it’s done not by young G.I.’s in the field but by anonymous puppeteers guiding drones by remote control against targets thousands of miles away, often killing the innocent and driving their enraged families and friends straight into the arms of the very terrorists we’re trying to eradicate.

The Times told of a Muslim cleric in Yemen named Salem Ahmed bin Ali Jaber, standing in a village mosque denouncing Al Qaeda. It was a brave thing to do– a respected tribal figure, arguing against terrorism. But two days later, when he and a police officer cousin agreed to meet with three Al Qaeda members to continue the argument, all five men– friend and foe– were incinerated by an American drone attack.

The killings infuriated the village and prompted rumors of an upwelling of support in the town for Al Qaeda, because, the Times reported, “such a move is seen as the only way to retaliate against the United States.” Our blind faith in technology combined with a sense of infallible righteousness continues unabated. It brought us to grief in Vietnam and Iraq and may do so again with President Obama’s cold-blooded use of drones and his seeming indifference to so-called “collateral damage,” otherwise known as innocent bystanders. By the standards of slaughter in Vietnam the deaths by drone are hardly a blip on the consciousness of official Washington.

But we have to wonder if each one– a young boy gathering wood at dawn, unsuspecting of his imminent annihilation, the student picking up the wrong hitchhikers, that tribal elder standing up against fanatics– doesn’t give rise to second thoughts by those judges who prematurely handed our president the Nobel Prize for Peace. Better they had kept it on the shelf in hopeful waiting, untarnished.

That said, I’m happy to see that Dianne Feinstein wants to do something– unlike Republican House committee chairs Mike Rogers and, worse, Buck McKeon, who just want to sit around collecting legalistic bribes from drone manufacturers. Feinstein and some of her colleagues on the Senate Intelligence Committee are mulling the idea of establishing new FISA-like courts to oversee the use of armed drone strikes against suspected terror targets. It doesn’t solve the most profound problems of U.S. drone policy, but it scratches the surface… a little.

The effort to open the armed drone program to a  FISA-like court came after the unexpected release of a previously confidential Department of Justice white paper justifying U.S. drone operations– even if those strikes target American citizens.

If approved, the FISA-like authority for drone operations would allow lawmakers to directly address some of the perceived problems with the program, without dealing with the issues of classification surrounding the program.

“Right now it is very hard [to oversee] because it is regarded as a covert activity, so when you see something that is wrong and you ask to be able to address it, you are told no,” due the program being steeped in secrecy.

“We know it exists and I think this [program] has gone as far as it can go, as a covert activity, and I think we really need to address it,” Feinstein said.

…[W]ithin that process, there is an “absence of knowing who is responsible for [those] decisions” inside the White House and intelligence community, she added.

A FISA-like court process could go a long way to clearing up that ambiguity that exists within the administration’s system of checks and balances in the drone strike program.

“I think we need to look at this whole process and try to find a way to make it transparent and verifiable,” she said.

A sleazy political operative like Debbie Wasserman Schultz may claim she never heard of Obama’s “kill list”– after all, she intends on being Speaker one day– but everyone else in America has by now. It’s not that anyone can not care about extrajudicial executions of probable terrorists who have U.S. citizenship. We do– and I suspect we’ll care even more once we wind up with a President Rubio, President Ryan or President Huckabee. You think it’s a nightmare under Obama– it is– just imagine if someone without even a shred of a conscience has that kind of power backed up by the “legal” precedent being set now by a Congress too bloated with Military-Industrial Complex bribes to do their job and prevent this kind of grotesque abuse of authority.

Share this:
Bookmark and Share
Posted by DownWithTyranny on February 5th, 2013

From our partners at DownWithTyranny!

Okay, so we see Algeria and Mali over there on the left of the map (which you can click on to enlarge), and Syria is at the upper right, and Afghanistan is way the heck off the map to the right, and the Soviet Union isn’t on the map at all anymore, and Osama bin Laden is, um, still dead. No way they’re connected, is there?

“[I]ncredibly, one [piece] offers an example of what can go wrong when a government — Algeria — cozies up with a bloodthirsty killer and religious fanatic, while the other tells how the US government is in the process of doing exactly the same thing in Syria.”

by Ken

Dave Lindorff has a terrific piece today on his ThisCan’tBeHappening.net “news collective” blog: “Links? We Don’t Do No Stinkin’ Links: Cognitive Dissonance at the New York Times,” which I saw via Nation of Change. It’s about two articles from Saturday’s NYT which he eventually characterizes as “two disjointed and poorly written pieces that add little to the readers’ understanding of these latest hotspots in the Middle East”:

Algeria Sowed Seeds of Hostage Crisis as It Nurtured Warlord” by Adam Nossiter and Neil MacFarquhar

[which] reports on how the Algerian government essentially enabled and encouraged the crisis in neighboring Mali by backing — even hosting in Algiers — an Islamic militant leader and local warlord, Iyad Ag Ghali, who then tried to take over Mali by force, including taking Algerians and other foreigners hostage at an oil drilling site, leading to a deadly Algerian battle and now a war in Mali that has drawn in the old colonial powers. The article talked at length about the risks of working with such militants. The risks for Algeria, that is; not the risks in general of such a practice.

A Rebel Commander in Syria Holds the Reins of War

[which is] a glowing paen to Abdulkader al-Saleh, aka Hajji Marea, a rebel leader in the Syrian civil war. The article paints the man whose nom de guerre is comfortingly (and incorrectly) translated as meaning “the respectable man from Marea” (it actually means “the man from Marea who has made the pilgrimage to Mecca”), is clearly aligned with a radical Muslim group, the Al Nusra Front, which the article notes, is “blacklisted” by the US as a terrorist organization.

Already in these capsule descriptions of Dave’s, I think we can see him nudging these pieces together in ways that seem clearly not have occurred to either the NYT writers or their editors. Dave is mightily ticked off because the paper “managed to run two closely related stories making opposite points in Saturday’s paper without referencing each other,” either in the print edition or online.

Typically, when two articles that are clearly related run in a newspaper, they are run side-by-side, with one appearing as a kind of side-bar to the other. In this case, though, the first article, on the warlord Iyad Ag Ghali, ran on page one, jumping to page eight, while the second, on Hajji Marea, ran on page 9, separated by several other articles in the intervening columns of both pages. Even in the Times‘ online edition, where it is easy — and standard procedure — to include links to relevant other articles, there is no link between these two stories.

Dave offers as an additional criticism what I imagine he would agree is at least in part an explanation for his original one: “Nor do the reporters on either piece include any historical background or context in their reports.”

Thus Times readers are left blissfully unaware of the many examples of blowback that the US has experienced from its decades of such faustian bargains. The most damaging of these, of course, was the CIA’s setting up of the Al Qaeda organization during the Jimmy Carter presidency, when he and his national security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski came up with the brilliant idea of encouraging, funding and arming local and foreign Islamic fanatics to foment a civil war in Afghanistan with the goal of undermining the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul and “bleeding” the Soviet Union. Of course, the US-funded and armed Mujahadeen became the Taliban, and among those foreign Islamic fanatics that the CIA- trained and armed to fight the Soviets was Osama Bin Laden and his merry band.

And we know how that turned out.

Surely at least a paragraph reference to that debacle would be in order when one is writing about the latest disastrous Algerian experience with blowback, or about America’s latest support for religious fundamentalist fighters in its campaign to oust Syria’s current government.

Of course, once you remove this background, the connections between the Algeria-Mali and Syrian-warlord stories are a good deal less clear, and it’s not all that surprising that we wind up with this pair of “disjointed and poorly written pieces that add little to the readers’ understanding of these latest hotspots in the Middle East.”

And yet, incredibly, one offers an example of what can go wrong when a government — Algeria — cozies up with a bloodthirsty killer and religious fanatic, while the other tells how the US government is in the process of doing exactly the same thing in Syria.

Hmm, there just might be a story there, don’t you think? Or maybe at least a link.

#
Share this:
Bookmark and Share
Posted by DownWithTyranny on January 16th, 2013

From our partners at DownWithTyranny!

Karzai was in Washington last week and suddenly there was all this talk about how U.S. troops, despite his panic, would be leaving Afghanistan sooner rather than later– and perhaps leaving no troops behind to prop up Karzai’s weak government which isn’t seen as legitimate by wide swathes of the population. In fact, Karzai is from the same sub-tribe as Shah Shuja, who was restored, briefly, to the throne by the British in the First Afghan War (1838-’42) and of whom Dost Muhammad told his people, “The Shah is now a servant of the Kafir infidels.” When the British left Afghanistan, Shuja, widely viewed as their puppet and, like Karzai without credibility among the dominant Pashtuns, was assassinated.

Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president, and his US counterpart Barack Obama have agreed to speed up the withdrawal of US combat troops as well as trade security responsibility from NATO to Afghan forces this spring.

After a long and deadly war, Obama announced plans to move US combat troops into an advisory role – slightly ahead of schedule– and also said any agreement on troop withdrawals must include an immunity agreement in which US soldiers are not subjected to Afghan law.

The president said the path of the US military remains clear and the war is moving toward a “responsible end” in 2014.

But the exact date, as well as how many troops are to remain, is still unclear.

U.S. policy is Afghanistan is not just a complete and costly failure, it no longer has any basis of support among Americans– neither on the left nor even on the right. Other than the Military Industrial Complex, which has profited so handsomely from it– and the Members of Congress in their pockets like McCain, Lindsay Graham, Miss McConnell, and Buck McKeon (who have all also profited handsomely)– everyone in America wants the U.S. to get out– and get out sooner rather than later. McConnell just got back from a quickie over there and says we need to keep 10,000 troops there after the 2014 pull-out. Here’s Rachel Maddow’s report on Obama’s announcement of the ending of U.S. involvement:

Her analysis (and Steve Clemons’)– the successful attainment of the benchmarks is pure, unadulterated bullshit– is spot on. But, getting out of that hellhole is a significant development and the completely predictable failure in Afghanistan is long overdue to end.

Recent “reports” from the war front have been of two kinds. Some official or analytical in nature and heavily circulated in Washington portray a war going terribly well. On the other hand, hard news from the ground tell a story of US fatigue, backtracking and tactical withdrawals or redeployments which do not bode well for defeating the Taliban or forcing them to the negotiations’ table.

  For example, while the US military’s decision to withdraw from the Pech valley was justified on tactical need to redeploy troops for the task of “protecting the population”, keen observers saw it as a humiliating retreat from what the Pentagon previously called a very strategic position and sacrificed some hundred soldiers defending it.

Likewise, strategic analysts close to the administration speak triumphantly of US surge and hi-tech firepower inflicting terrible cost on the Taliban, killing many insurgents and driving many more from their sanctuaries.

But news from the war front show the Taliban unrelenting, mounting counterattacks and escalating the war especially in areas where the US has “surged” its troops. And while the majority of the 400 Afghan districts are “calmer”, they remain mostly out of Kabul’s control.

Those with relatively long memories recall the then defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s claims that most of Afghanistan was secure in early 2003 and that American forces had changed their strategy from major combat operations to stabilisation and reconstruction project.

But the Taliban continued to carry daily attacks on government buildings, US positions and international organisations. Two years later, the US was to suffer the worst and deadliest year since the war began.

Today’s war pundits are in the same state of denial. For all practical purpose, Washington has given up on its counterinsurgency (COIN) strategy devised under McChrystal and Petreaus.

Instead, it is pursuing a heavy handed and terribly destructive crackdown that includes special operations, assassinations, mass demolitions, air and night raids etc that have led to anything but winning the country, let alone its hearts and minds.

The killing of nine Afghan children last week– all under the age of 12– by US attack helicopters has once again put the spotlight on the US military’s new aggressive methods.

The results are so devastating for the conduct of the war and to Washington’s clients, that President Karzai not only distanced himself from the US methods, but also publicly rejected Washington’s apology for the killings.

Nor is the recruitment and training of the Afghan forces going well. Indeed, many seem to give up on the idea that Afghan security forces could take matters into their hands if the US withdraws in the foreseeable future.

Worse, US strategic co-operation with Pakistan – the central pillar of Obama’s PakAf strategy– has cooled after the arrest of a CIA contractor for the killing of two Pakistanis even though he presumably enjoys diplomatic immunity.

Reportedly, it has also led to a “breakdown” in co-ordination between the two countries intelligence agencies, the CIA and the ISI.

  But the incident is merely a symptom of a bigger problem between the two countries. A reluctant partner, the Pakistani establishment and its military are unhappy with US strategy which they reckon could destabilise their country and strengthen Afghanistan and India at their expense.

That has not deterred Washington from offering ideas and money to repair the damage. However, it has become clear that unlike in recent years, future improvement in their bilateral relations will most probably come as a result of the US edging closer to Pakistan’s position, not the opposite.

All of which makes one wonder why certain Washington circles are rushing to advance the “success story.”

…The mere fact that the world’s mightiest superpower cannot win over the poorly armed Taliban after a long decade of fighting, means it has already failed strategically, regardless of the final outcome.

The escalation of violence and wasting billions more cannot change that. It is history. The quicker the Obama administration recognises its misfortunes, minimises its losses and convenes a regional conference over the future of Afghanistan under UN auspices, the easier it will be to evacuate without humiliation.

Whether the US eventually loses the war and declares victory; negotiates a settlement and withdraw its troops, remains to be seen. What is incontestable is that when you fight the week for too long, you also become weak.

All of which explains the rather blunt comments made in a speech at the end of February, by US Defence Secretary Robert Gates when he said “… any future defense secretary who advises the president to again send a big American land army into Asia or into the Middle East or Africa should ‘have his head examined,’ as General MacArthur so delicately put it.”

Amen.

In the video below, Maddow also explains the issue of immunity for American troops in Afghanistan. No one wants U.S. troops in Afghanistan more than Karzai. If they go, he has to as well– either that or end up like Shah Shuja, dead. Karzai said he would ask the Afghan people about the immunity issue. But most Afghans want the U.S. troops out and consider immunity out of the question. Although that isn’t the way Karzai tells it. He told Christiane Amanpour on CNN that “I can tell you with relatively good confidence that they will say ‘alright, let’s do it. And I’m sure that they will understand.”

At the press conference, President Obama said that he had stressed to Karzai that “the United States already has arrangements like this with countries all around the world, and nowhere does the U.S. have any kind of security agreement with a country without immunity for our troops.”

In the final stages of the U.S. intervention in Iraq, President Obama was unable to obtain a similar agreement, propelling him to withdraw all U.S. forces from that country in December 2011.

Karzai rejected the notion that has been floated that the U.S. might leave “zero troops” in Afghanistan after the pullout is completed at the end of 2014. 

He told Amanpour that Afghans need some type of U.S. presence for “broader security and stability” after the withdrawal. For that reason, Karzai believes Afghans will have to grant the U.S. troops left there immunity.

“The United States will need to have a limited number of forces in Afghanistan,” he said, but was unwilling to give an exact number. “That’s not for us to decide. It is for the United States to decide what number of troops they will be keeping in Afghanistan and what strength of equipment those troops will have.”

The American people don’t want it and neither do most of Afghanistan’s people. When Obama says “unless there was some kind of immunity, it would not be possible for the U.S. to keep troops in Afghanistan after 2014,: that’s his way out– just like it was in Iraq. This morning Karzai announced the issue of immunity for U.S. troops in Afghanistan would be made by the end of the year. “The issue of immunity is under discussion (and) it is going to take eight to nine months before we reach agreement,” he told a news conference back in Kabul. He says it will require acquiescence from a Loya Jirga, a grand council. My guess is that most Afghans outside Karzai’s immediate circle would rather see Karzai and his clique dead than agree to immunity for foreign troops.

Share this:
Bookmark and Share
Posted by Just Foreign Policy on January 7th, 2013

From our partners at Just Foreign Policy

The Obama-hating Neocon Right is trying to “Swift Boat” the expected nomination of Chuck Hagel to be Secretary of Defense by making up a fantasy scare story that Hagel—a former U.S. Senator from Nebraska, long-respected moderate and thoughtful voice on foreign policy, and decorated Vietnam combat veteran—is “anti-Israel.”

The real reason the neocons hate Hagel is that he’s a war-skeptic and a diplomacy advocate. As a Senator, he voted for the Iraq war. But then he became an early and harsh critic of the war and called for it to end. Hagel was an early advocate of diplomatic engagement with Iran, has criticized discussion of a military strike by either the U.S. or Israel against Iran, and has also backed efforts to bring Iran to the table for talks on future peace in Afghanistan. Hagel has described the Pentagon as “bloated” and has said “the Pentagon needs to be pared down.”

We deserve a war-skeptic and diplomacy advocate as Defense Secretary. Americans voted against the foreign policy of the neocons in 2008 and 2012. But the neocons are still using their insider influence and slander tactics to try to dominate policy.

We cannot stand idly by as the neocons stage a coup of our foreign policy. All of us opposed to these tactics, including the President’s support base of liberal Democrats, must make our voices heard. That’s why we’ve set up a petition on MoveOn’s community petition site, SignOn, against the Swift Boat campaign on Chuck Hagel. Will you help us move this petition forward, so more MoveOn members will see it? You can sign and share the petition here:

http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/hagel-nomination

Just Foreign Policy’s Policy Director Robert Naiman explained what’s at stake in this fight in his blog on Huffington Post. You can read and share that here:

J Street Pushes Back on Neocon Bid to “Swift Boat” Chuck Hagel Nomination as Defense Secretary
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-naiman/j-street-chuck-hagel_b_23329…

read more

Share this:
Bookmark and Share
Posted by DownWithTyranny on January 5th, 2013

From our partners at DownWithTyranny!

Unfortunately your browser does not support IFrames.

“The contradictions in his character and career are a reminder that no one, however powerful, is free of human frailty or immune to reversals of fortune. And that for us makes Gen. David Petraeus the most fascinating person of 2012.”

– Barbara Walters, at the end of the segment

by Ken

Huh? That’s what made General Petraeus “the most fascinating person of the year”? Seriously? ”No one is free of human frailty or immune to reversals of fortune”? Oh, for goodness’ sakes!

As it happens, I was already thinking about Gen. Normal Schwarzkopf, the commanding genius of Desert Storm. A man who came pretty much out of nowhere as far as most of us were concerned, did what he had to do (as the Guardian’s Michael Carlson put it, “[his] design proved as effective as he had convinced his superiors in Washington it would be”), and yes, did get the celebrity-makeover treatment in the aftermath.

Unfortunately your browser does not support IFrames.

Does anyone else have this feeling that there is some kind of sea change in the “aura,” or the image projected, or something, as between “Stormin’ Norman” (a nickname I gather he hated, as well who in his right mind wouldn’t?) and this whole race of generals that has followed, whose careers seem, if not entirely “about,” then at least heavily concerned with, creating cults of personality built aroud — ta-da! — their very own personal generalissimo selves?

I trust I don’t have to call the roll. One by one they’ve been caught with their uniform pants down as it were, playing the public-relations card in a campaign of self-glorification that reminds me of nothing so much as the imperial hi-jinks of I, Claudius.

AWHILE BACK I MEANT TO RETURN TO THE
QUESTION OF HOW GOOD PETRAEUS WAS

Specifically, I intended to return to Dexter Filkins’s December 17 New Yorker piece “General Principles: How good was David Petraeus?

Filkins is looking at Petraeus’s performance in Iraq in the first place through the eyes of Thomas Ricks’s view (as expressed in his new book The Generals) of the disastrous failures of his predecessors running the show for us there.

In many ways, the biggest problem that the American military faced in Iraq was itself. When Petraeus and other officers tried to change the approach in Iraq, they hit a wall of entrenched resistance. After the war in Vietnam, American generals banished the idea of counter-insurgency, perhaps figuring that if they didn’t plan for such a war they wouldn’t have to fight one. Military academies were dominated by such notions as the “Powell doctrine,” which held that future wars should be fought with maximum force and brought to an end as quickly as possible. In Ricks’s telling, the American military, by the time of the attacks of September 11, 2001, was a sclerotic institution that rewarded mediocrity and punished innovative thinking. In recent years, eighty-four per cent of the Army’s majors have been promoted to lieutenant colonel—hardly a fine filter. Becoming a general was like gaining admission to an all-men’s golf club, where back-slapping conformity is prized above all else. When the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq began, the top U.S. field commander was General Tommy Franks, a shortsighted tactician who didn’t bother to plan for the occupation of either country. Franks had the good sense to step down in the summer of 2003, just as Iraq began to come apart.

Ricks argues, convincingly, that what changed in the military was the practice of firing commanders who failed to deliver results. His starting point is General George Marshall, the Army chief of staff during the Second World War, who culled underperforming generals and promoted the better ones, constructing a ruthlessly efficient fighting force. The practice withered during the Vietnam War, replaced with micromanagement by civilian leaders. (Recall photographs of Lyndon Johnson choosing bombing targets.) With even the most mediocre generals moving upward, the Army ossified at the top. Sanchez was not the exception; he was the rule. “Like the worst generals of the Vietnam era, he tended to descend into the weeds, where he was comfortable, ignoring the larger situation—which, after all, was his job,’’ Ricks writes. Yet Sanchez paid no price for his failures, Ricks notes: “The vocabulary of accountability had been lost.”

In Iraq, the generals, and increasingly their troops, trapped themselves inside their bases, cut off from the country they were trying to occupy. When their strategy didn’t work, they tended to redouble their efforts—capture more insurgents, turn over more neighborhoods to the Iraqi Army—and justify their actions in the impenetrable jargon that modern officers use with one another. Iraqi insurgents became “A.I.F.” (anti-Iraqi forces), Al Qaeda in Iraq was “A.Q.I.,” and a car bomb was an “S.V.B.I.E.D.” (suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device). Petraeus revelled in the jargon—among junior officers, his PowerPoint presentations were spoken of in reverent tones—but, at least in his case, the fancy terms were suggestive of his knowledge, and not the end of it. My own snap test for measuring an American general’s perceptiveness was how he pronounced Iraqi names. In 2006, I heard General J. D. Thurman, the commander presiding over Baghdad, pronounce the name of the Iraqi Prime Minister three different ways in a single interview, all of them incorrect. General Thurman apparently wasn’t talking to Iraqis—or, if he was, he wasn’t listening.

Petraeus was smarter and quicker than most of his colleagues. He wasn’t a rebel, at least on the surface. He loved the Army and relished its history, and the trappings and the medals, and, in talking to reporters, he was careful never to go too far. He didn’t have much combat experience, but that seemed to make it easier for him to see beyond the daily slog of killing insurgents. He had a Ph.D. from Princeton—dissertation title, “The American Military and the Lessons of Vietnam.” (This did not necessarily help his career, Kaplan writes: “He was aware of his reputation in certain circles as a schemer, a self-promoter, and, worst of all, an intellectual.”) He was preternaturally, pathologically competitive. Once, inside a building in Baghdad, Petraeus, then in his early fifties, challenged me to race him up the stairs. (He won.) Another time, he dared me to join him on a morning run in the Green Zone, accompanied by an armed guard. When the run was over, Petraeus initiated a pull-up contest, and did seventeen, an astounding number. “You can write that off on your income tax as education,’’ he said.

His emphasis on physical fitness sometimes seemed like a postmodern version of Hood’s courage: if our generals were not going to face physical danger, they could at least do more pushups than the men who would. Reporters loved it, and so did Petraeus’s fellow-soldiers. Being physically strong still matters in the U.S. Army. . . .

Which brings us straight back to the cult-of-personality and military-politics bullshit. And I don’t think we can have any illusion about the politics involved throughtout the ranks of the military. After all, has there ever been any sort of human hierarchical system that functioned without politics?

Clearly some that personal-fitness stuff has military applications. But we hear endless tales of the supreme fitness of our fighters in Afghanistan, the suggestion being that they are super-fitness cultists, and that seems to have very little to do with achieving success at whatever the heck our military objectives have been in Afghanistan — one obvious problem being that we don’t ever seem to have figured out just what our military objectives are in Afghanistan.

I’m not even sure I’m being fair to this modern run of generals and their obsessive personality cultism. More than anything it seems to express the kind of Type A personality we would probably all agree is quite a useful thing in a high-stakes, high-tension occupation like military command in a theater of war. And so it seems silly to set up criteria for manners and decorum in generals, just as it would be as applied to say, NFL linebackers.

That said, it also seems clear that all of General Petraeus’s prattling on about the paramount of discipline was kind of nonsense. Or maybe he himself once had it and then somewhere along the way decided to chuck it in favor of gratifying his immense manliness.

BUT TO RETURN ONCE AGAIN TO THE
QUESTION OF HOW GOOD PETRAEUS WAS . . .

I’m offering only some of Dexter Filkins’s evaluation, and even the part I’m offering is long, because the question turns out to be quite complex, having so much to do with surrounding circumstances — the people who preceded him in command, the people he commanded, the circumstances on the ground in the theater of war he commanded, and so on. You’ll note at the end Filkins’s clear suggestions that very little of what made Petraeus successful in Iraq (successful, that is, within very carefully defined terms), proved to have virtually no application to Afghanistan, again in consideration of that same range of factors that made the strategy workable in Iraq.

In the weeks since Petraeus’s resignation, some of his detractors have argued that his accomplishment in Iraq was merely to put an acceptable face on defeat. This is absurd. Petraeus was asked to shepherd a disastrous war; his achievements are real and substantial, and shouldn’t be obscured by something as irrelevant as an extramarital affair. By 2006, Iraqi society was disintegrating, and there were growing signs that the country’s neighbors—Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Syria—were preparing to intervene more forcefully. It seemed possible that Iraq would implode and take the whole region down with it. If Petraeus and his band had not got their chance—and, reading Kaplan’s book, it seems a miracle that they did—things could have gone terribly worse.

So how much of Petraeus’s success was due to Petraeus? He was smart, and he was diligent, but was that enough? “I have plenty of clever generals,’’ Napoleon purportedly said. “Just give me a lucky one.” Indeed, the crucial lesson of the surge is that it succeeded only because other things in Iraq were changing at exactly the right time. The most important of these was the Awakening, the name given to the cascading series of truces made by Sunni tribal leaders with their American occupiers. Many Sunnis were appalled by the sectarian attacks—and were also fearful of genocide at the hands of the Shiite death squads. They asked the Americans for help, and U.S. officers, sensing a chance to turn the tide against Al Qaeda, seized the opportunity.

By the time Petraeus arrived, the Awakening had already begun. Still, he made the decisive choice not just to make peace with the former insurgents but to pay them not to fight us. The program, called the Sons of Iraq, put a hundred thousand gunmen, most of them Sunni former insurgents, on the payroll, for three hundred dollars a month each. The idea strongly echoes the Army’s counter-insurgency field manual, drafted under Petraeus’s supervision: “Offering amnesty or a seemingly generous compromise can also cause divisions within an insurgency.” In this case, at least, it was a genteel way of describing old-fashioned baksheesh. By the end of 2007, the Americans were holding bicycle races with their former enemies.

Could the surge have worked without the Awakening? Almost certainly not. With the Sunni insurgency neutralized, the Americans were free to turn their firepower on the Shiite militias. After a series of assaults by the American and—surprise—Iraqi militaries, the Mahdi Army was on the run. Petraeus said to me in 2008, “As the Al Qaeda threat is gradually degraded, the reason for the militia is no longer there.” He was preparing to depart Iraq, and his experience there had aged him visibly. When I told him how dramatically Baghdad had improved, he seemed relieved but also surprised, as if he’d had no time to notice.

One more factor helped the surge: the Sunni and Shiite gunmen had made their neighborhoods confessionally pure; Baghdad was no longer the mixed city it had been for centuries. The civil war was a bloodbath, but it had the unintended effect of making it easier for the respective groups to protect themselves.

What does all this mean? For one thing, it made Petraeus’s success in Iraq very Iraqi; that is, hard to export. In 2009, on assuming office, President Obama pursued a fairly strict strategy of counter-insurgency in Afghanistan; Stanley McChrystal, who served as the presiding general until he was fired after he and his aides spoke too frankly to a reporter from Rolling Stone, shared many of Petraeus’s precepts. The idea was that if the Americans and their protégés in the Afghan Army could establish themselves in the villages, the Taliban would wither away. Obama sent in more than fifty thousand additional troops, and, for thirteen months, Petraeus himself led the effort.

[Paula] Broadwell’s book [All In: The Education of General David Petraeus] focusses almost exclusively on Petraeus’s time in Afghanistan; she dutifully records his movements, utterances, and hopes, and, to a lesser extent, those of the American forces. She spent almost no time thinking about, or talking to, the Afghans, whose allegiance we are presumably fighting for. “Petraeus believed that abandoning Afghanistan again would have disastrous consequences for America and for the region,’’ Broadwell writes. “It was vital that Afghanistan not once again be a sanctuary for Al-Qaeda. He would never give up.” But so what? The crucial question is whether his ideas—the ones enshrined in the counter-insurgency field manual—will carry the day in Afghanistan.

Increasingly, it seems that they will not. . . .

JUST ONE LAST NOTE . . .

Did anyone ever feel the impulse to glorify, or even evaluate, Norman Schwarzkopf’s personal philosophies and fitness and discipline and other gurulike attributes?

#
Share this:
Bookmark and Share
Posted by DownWithTyranny on December 29th, 2012

From our partners at DownWithTyranny!


“The size of the withdrawal is mind-boggling. But with the ‘fiscal cliff’ approaching fast, it’s worth taking a moment to realize that the costly Afghan operation is going on a credit card, along with the $1 trillion or more spent in Iraq.”

Washington Post ”Fine Print” columnist Walter Pincus,
in
The high cost of disengagement

by Ken

Just two or three weeks ago I wrote (“Walter Pincus wonders how Americans lost the will to pay for our wars“) about this astonishing break with previous American practice, by which the Bush regime broke with all precedent by “paying” for its pernicious adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan by running a tab — a practice candidate Barack Obama roundly deplored but once in office was either unable or unwilling to change.

It has never been easy to pay for wars, but until now successive U.S. governments took it that there was no way around it. Of course there still isn’t. Eventually the bills have to be paid. But when you use the sleight of hand of essentially putting it all on credit cards, you may be able to avoid embarrassing public discussion of the size and monstrousness of these expenditures.

Now Walter Pincus, following the mandate of his “Fine Print” column, has taken a close look at a new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report that says “it’s going to cost an additional $5.7 billion over the next year or two just to transfer or return most of the troops and equipment we shipped into that country.” That’s on top of the “nearly $600 billion [spent] over the past 10 years putting combat forces into Afganistan.”

“The size of the withdrawal is mind-boggling,” says Walter. “But with the ‘fiscal cliff’ approaching fast, it’s worth taking a moment to realize that the costly Afghan operation is going on a credit card, along with the $1 trillion or more spent in Iraq.” And he reminds us: “Iraq and Afghanistan are the first U.S. wars in which the American public was not asked to pay a cent in additional taxes.”

For those who are curious, Walter provides a detailed sketch of how this withdrawal budget breaks down, and also explains some basic facts of life that explain why Afghanistan-withdrawal costs will be substantially higher even than Iraq-withdrawal costs were. Considering how difficult (and how expensive) it has been to get personnel and equipment into land-locked and barely accessible Afghanistan, it will be at least as difficult (and as expensive) to get them out — unlike Iraq, where we had easy road access to safe seaports for relatively easy and cheap maritime transport. In both cases, however, even the sky-high costs of withdrawal were only possible thanks to long, detailed planning.

The Iraq drawdown showed the importance of early planning. Withdrawal plans began in 2008, three years before the December 2011 final departure of U.S. combat troops. In Afghanistan, the Marine Corps and Navy began withdrawal preparations in 2009, the Army in 2010.

An obvious question, I suppose, is whether we should be put off by the drawdown price tag. And the answer, it seems to me, is of course not! Does it make more sense to continue pouring those staggering piles of cash (or charge slips) down those ratholes?

At some point we really do have to have to face up to the implications (I’m restraining myself from using the word consequences) of disastrous policy choices. Otherwise we have an adjunct to the concept of “too big to fail”: too expensive to pull the plug on.

The militarists — and, come to think of it, advocates of generally doody-brained right-wing boondoggles — like to play this as an “aha!” card. It was extraordinary enough that the subject of cuts in military expenditures even came up at the time they were written into the now-infamous sequester (and they probably wouldn’t have found their way in if anyone believed at the time that the sequester might actually happen) and right-wing ideologues suddenly warn of the economic consequences: Jobs will be lost!

Of course when it comes to making other kinds of spending cuts, cuts of programs that actual provide useful human services, the Righties never worry about that. Screw all those effing public-service workers! And never mind if our cities — and our rural precincts too — go to hell! It’s wasteful government spending. But then, as we know, when it comes to truly wasteful government spending, notably the sacred boondoggles of “national security” profligacy, even the hardest of die-hard “fiscal conservatives” become blooming Keynesians. It’s the phenomenon of “military Keynesianism.” Perhaps “economic stimulus” becomes real to them -because so many of them are pocketing sizable chunks of the megabucks poured down those drains?

And did you notice how our beloved munitions industry, faced with sudden talk about even the possibility of tightening gun restrictions, started threatening to pull the plug on the economy of Connecticut, and by extension any other state that has sold its soul to the Devil of the armaments industry? As the old saying goes, lie down with dogs and you’ll wake up with fleas.

We don’t like to talk about it much, but one of the few things we still produce for which there’s a robust world market is arms. How much suffering and death around the world takes place to satiate the greed of the arms merchants? The obvious consequence is that it’s unlikely that there’s any country less enthusiastic about arms reduction than ours — with this lovely new wrinkle that we better shut up about it if we know what’s good for us. Otherwise the arms makers will make us sorry.

Walter Pincus ends his new piece: “[I]t’s worth paying attention to the monetary and human costs of getting into and out of military ventures so that perhaps the country will be better prepared next time.” Which seems to me a serious understatement. A pair of pointless and doomed, indeed pernicious, military involvements of staggering dimenson were undertaken with essentially no concern for the cost. Of course if they had been evaluated simply in terms of desirability and feasibility of goals they would never have been undertaken in the first place. As our colleague Ian Welsh points out, “In policy terms, the kind thing to do is usually the right thing to do.”

I know that this kind of thinking is regarded as “naive,” as “pie in the sky.” But if Ian’s thinking had been applied seriously to the decisions to embrace the Iraq and Afghanistan boondoggles, having as their result not improving but compromising our national security, creating new, more determined and long-lived enemies, might we not have thought better? If any consideration had been given to the consequences of turning over such a large segment of our economy to the Merchants of Death, might we not have arrived at different thoughts about the kinds of subsidies we wished to apply, or not?

I sincerely hope that Walter is right, that if Americans scrutinize the costs of extricating ourselves from these holes we dig ourselves, we’ll think better about it the next time the subject comes up. But I think that lesson might be learned better if we were getting occasional reports from the cells where “Big Dick” Cheney, “Chimpy the Prez” Bush, and Donnie Rumsfeld are serving their life-without-possibility-of-parole sentences.

#
Share this:
Bookmark and Share
Peacemakers take action to lead the charge to end the war. Join forces with the over 100,000 people who make a difference.
FACT SHEETS

FROM DERRICK CROWE'S BLOG
RECENT POSTS

SEARCH THE BLOG
Subscribe via RSS
Become a Peacemaker



Bronze Telly Award
QUESTIONS
For general questions, email us here.
For technical issues regarding this site, contact us here.

PRESS

For Press inquiries, please contact Kim at: bravenewfoundation.press@gmail.com



CREDITS
Director: Robert Greenwald - Executive Director: Jim Miller - Producer: Jason Zaro - Associate Producer: Dallas Dunn, Jonathan Kim, and Kim Huynh - Researcher: Greg Wishnev - Editor: Phillip Cruess - Political Director: Leighton Woodhouse - VP Marketing & Distribution: Laura Beatty - Production Assistant: Monique Hairston

LEGAL
Anyone is allowed to post content on this site, but Brave New Foundation 501(c)(3) is not responsible for that content. We will, however, remove anything unlawful, threatening, libelous, defamatory, obscene, racist, or that contains other material that would violate the law. By posting you agree to this.





Brave New Foundation | 10510 Culver Blvd., Culver City, CA 90232