[eDebate] virtually undebated afghan quagmire

Old Strega oldstrega
Sun Oct 26 18:46:57 CDT 2008

obama media free pass good.  we get to replicate the iraq mistakes under a more palatable leader more capable of an american coup d'etat.  anti-war movement neutralized by charisma and leader mesmerization.  pakistan isolation good.   renewed pakistani/indian feud good.   CNN honeymoon allows for afghan debacle.  savor the free pass like the bush supporters did.   y'all are awesome.   iraq war bad.   afghan war good.   use brzezinski, the creator of al-qaeda, to destroy al-qaeda,  my ahistorical children friends.

just like bush's iraq, we can't have a serious mainstream debate of obama's afghanistan until it starts to fail.   thanks, in part, to the idiotic anti-war movement who wanted a leader more than a cessation of war and are now blind as bats.  we're going in a big circle.   there's no change morons.   obama is even scarier than bush because more palatable with further marginalization of dissent.

when a true leader arises, public debate is bad.


The Democratic train for launching a Vietnam-style campaign of gradual escalation of the war in Afghanistan is leaving Mr. Obama's station at warp speed. The knee jerk, lemming-like calls of beltway politicos for redeployment of troops from Iraq to the so-called "good war" in Afghanistan may merely lead our country into another counter-productive quagmire.

In the near term redeployment means more boots on the ground by transferring troops from Iraq. But that increase would have to come out of a military that is now so overburdened and so hollowed out that it is promoting NCOs automatically, rather than on a basis of leadership skills and technical competence...

Individuals interested in thinking more deeply about the vexing question of whether or not Mr. Obama ought to escalate what has become an ugly guerrilla war in Afghanistan can entertain themselves here with a thought experiment I dreamed up using Colonel John R. Boyd's legendary briefing of the philosophy and conduct of war, Patterns of Conflict. It is designed to let you frame the issues at the heart of a successful counter-guerrilla operation and determine for yourself if adding a small number of boots on the ground in Afghanistan will bring light to the end of a tunnel created by an inept President and incompetent neocon henchmen. The danger of allowing sound-bite politics to define military strategy looms large for Obama and our nation. This bullet train for redeployment would do well to assess whether it's on the right track.


Presidential candidate Barak Obama, "The Peace Candidate", supports a stronger commitment to the war in Afghanistan and has proposed "sending at least two additional combat brigades -- or 7,000 to 10,000 troops -- to Afghanistan, while deploying more Special Operations forces to the Afghan-Pakistan border. He has also proposed increasing non-military aid to Afghanistan by at least $1 billion per year." (Wall Street Journal) Obama, backed by Brzezinski and other Clinton foreign policy advisers, has focussed his attention on the "war on terror", that dismal public relations coup which conceals America's desire to become a major player in the Great Game, the battle for supremacy on the Asian continent. Obama appears to be even more eager to repeat history than his opponent, John McCain. 

In November, voters will be asked to pick one of the two pro-war candidates. McCain has made his position clear; his focus is on Iraq. Now it is up to Obama to point out why it's more acceptable to kill a man who is fighting for his country in Afghanistan than it is in Iraq. If he can't answer that question, then he deserves to lose.


So much for the politics of Obama's announcement. As for the policy, it's a nightmare. If the war in Afghanistan is going to be escalated, then the casualties are going to be Afghan civilians, in their thousands. The forces NATO is lined up against are split into several factions, Taliban is a convenient, inaccurate label, and battle-lines, etc are far from clearly marked. With the US having already committed several multiple fatality bombings of civilians this year, any concerted push to deprive the Taliban of territory would have to involve new rules of engagement.

What Obama is planning in Afghanistan is the next quagmire. And an ineffectual one at that. Ten thousand troops wouldn't be enough to subdue the place, and US domestic reaction to a dozen casualties in a week in Iraq shows how little tolerance there is for a sustained combat. Ten thousand new troops might be capable of reclaiming a larger area around Kabul, but what are the long term odds of reconstructing a mountain country whose tribal fiefdoms were not even modernised even under aggressive pro-Soviet modernisers between the 50s and 70s? And then under the Soviets themselves? And what happens to the current lull in Iraq when the draw down of troops begins?

You'd have to say there wasn't much concern for these possibilies being voiced at netroots nation. Grateful as one was that this wasn't another sort of conference with "speakers confirmed: Dave Spart (USACMPLDK-ML), plus representative of the fascist-imperialist Democratic Party" sort of rundown, the relentless desire to be practical and positive -- i.e. to avoid debate and reflection -- was pretty striking.

On Sunday in one room I found volunteers making care packages for US troops, ("netroots for the troops") including not only sox, DVDs etc but also webbing gloves and flashlights -- "because military issue flashlights are too heavy to attach to the end of a rifle during a house search". The possibility that supplying this equipment might be facilitating house searches -- and subsuming netroots to the military -- didn't seem to occur to anyone.

Nor was there any discussion in sessions such as "Iraq -- the strategic context" as to the nature of both Afghanistan and Iraq, the whole idea of the projection of US power -- the assumption was that one war was a disaster, the other worth prosecuting to the full. The only hiccup occurred when a member of Iraq Veterans Against The War got up and quietly informed the panel that the Iraq surge was a lie, that the Maliki government had no control beyond the green zone, and that Afghanistan was much the same -- after which there was silence for a second and then things resumed as normal.

Netroots obviously gathers a fairly practical, electorally focused groups of people -- nevertheless the degree to which much of the discussion was avoiding any sort of reflection on the morals and politics of the Obama platform was either a measure of the times, or of the desperation to keep the formation together and get the guy into the White House, or both.

The haunting fear for anyone thinking about this is that a President Obama, will prove to be not the Bobby Kennedy who never was, but a combination of Woodrow Wilson and Tony Blair -- a persuasive, intelligent military humanitarian who can give intellectual heft to well-managed wars of American interest and alleged noble purpose. Is it possible that a President Obama would take the country where even team Bush refused to go -- a messy, chaotic and compromised intervention in Darfur, for example?

Well, time to think about that later, after the blue margaritas from the afterparties wear off. For the possibility that Obama's tour will wrong-foot McCain on foreign as well as domestic policy is just too, too good not to linger on.
When your life is on the go?take your life with you.

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