How is it that a United States president who just won the Nobel Peace Prize is having such a tough time telling one of his generals that he doesn’t want to escalate a war that doesn’t enhance America’s national security?
Pouring more blood and national treasure into Afghanistan won’t do a thing for us, and it won’t do a thing for Afghans either. The Hamad Karzai regime we continue to prop up is more malevolent than the Taliban regime we replaced it with. Now, our war mafia argues, if we don’t stay the course in Afghanistan, things might get worse. Or they might not. Even Gen. David Petraeus weasel-worded his recommendation of Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s request for additional troops. "I don't think anyone can guarantee that it will work out even if we apply a lot more resources. But it won't work out if we don't," Petraeus said.
Nothing we do in Afghanistan will work out. The more troops we stick in there the harder it will be to leave. U.S. Army logisticians are waxing woebegone about how difficult it is getting 20,000 troops out of Iraq. How are they going to get the other 110,000 out of there, with 110,000 expensive crowbars?
The numbers of additional troops being called for in Iraq exceeds 60,000. This supposedly will keep us safer from an al-Qaeda that National Security Adviser James Jones admits has fewer than 100 core fighters. They’re not exactly Hitler’s Wehrmacht.
They’re not exactly in Afghanistan, either. Even the Taliban—who are really a just a sideshow in this carnival—aren’t in Afghanistan either. They’re pulling their latest deadly shenanigans in Pakistan, where they’re proving that Pakistan’s security apparatus is as feckless as the Afghan forces are.
Obama’s Nobel Prize may not be enough leverage to keep him from going slut mutt for his generals’ demands. Lindsay Graham, whose comprehension of foreign policy and the art of war under-cedes that of his hawkish bedfellows John McCain, John Boehner, Mitch McConnell, Ike Skelton and Joe Lieberman, says anything short of the acceding to McChrystal’s demands will lead to failure. That gives you a perfect idea of the mentality of the war mob. “Failure” was a buzzword in McChrystal’s leaked analysis of the Afghanistan situation, crafted by the likes of neocon Fred Kagan, who brought us our insensible quagmire in Iraq.
Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell says, “the smart thing to do here is to listen to Gen. Petraeus and Gen. McChrystal.” That’s the dumbest thing Obama and the rest of us could possibly do. Petraeus and McChrystal are Douglas MacArthur-class military careerist who, like MacArthur, couldn’t win a war to save their dugouts, and whose sense of theater far surpasses their understanding of the art of war. Clausewitz and Sun Tzu must be kicking at their coffin lids at the way we continue to squander the might we have accumulated. Thanks to the malignant influence of the neoconservative mob, we have managed to tinkle away in the New American Century we have managed to build up in the American centuries that came before it.
As Professor Andrew Bacevich accurately asserts in an Oct. 11 op-ed piece for the Boston Globe, “No serious person thinks that Afghanistan—remote, impoverished, barely qualifying as a nation-state—seriously matters to the United States.”
Bacevich, a retired Army colonel who served in the Vietnam War, also notes: “If the president assents to McChrystal’s request, he will void his promise of change at least so far as national security policy is concerned. The Afghanistan war will continue until the end of his first term and probably beyond. It will consume hundreds of billions of dollars. It will result in hundreds or perhaps thousands more American combat deaths—costs that the hawks are loath to acknowledge.”
Probably America’s leading anti-war conservative, Bacevich also notes that “As the fighting drags on from one year to the next, the engagement of US forces in armed nation-building projects in distant lands will become the new normalcy.”
That’s precisely the paradigm the long war mafia wants to create, an eternal Orwellian global conflict that doesn’t directly affect day-to-day life in America but keeps the economy from focusing on internal issues like health care, infrastructure and education. As Bacevich puts it, “That ‘keeping Americans safe’ obliges the United States to seek, maintain, and exploit unambiguous military supremacy will become utterly uncontroversial.”
Bacevich is right. If Obama, the merchant of change, can’t stand up to the military-industrial-congressional complex, nobody will ever be able to.
Obama needs to ashcan his foreign policy team, starting with Bob Gates and Hillary Clinton and his four-stars Petraeus, McChrystal, Mike Mullen and Ray Odierno.
Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) writes at Pen and Sword. Jeff's novel Bathtub Admirals (Kunati Books), a lampoon on America's rise to global dominance, is on sale now.