Sunday, November 22, 2009

Afghanistan: Hurry Up and Screw Up

Reptilian former presidential candidate Fred Thompson says that President Obama’s delay in making a decision of Afghanistan is “evidence” that the war is already lost. “Our enemies are emboldened,” says Thompson, “our allies are discouraged.” He says Obama’s “heart’s not in it” and that he is too obsessed with an “exit strategy.” Huh?

Our “enemies” are nothing. They don’t have an air force, they don’t have a navy, and they can hardly be said to have an army. We spend more on defense that the rest of the world combined. Our opponents in Afghanistan don’t have a defense budget.

Thompson is part of the right-wing hawk mob that supports the Pentagon’s Long War stratagem that seeks to keep us bogged down in some silly-Simon, low-intensity conflict for the next 50 or so years in order to justify the military budget, which by plausible arguments soaks up the majority of the federal budget.

Thompson associate John McCain, the dimmest bulb to ever serve in both the Navy and the Senate, is also pressing President Obama, who kicked his can a block down the street in the 2008 election, to give Gen. Stanley McChrystal all the troops and resources he wants to make a real nation out of a tinhorn country that has never been more than a spot in the middle of Asia.

McCain’s best girlfriend Lindsey Graham says that, “Obama must decide soon.”

McCain’s side squeeze, Joe Lieberman, says "I think it's time for us to stop beating up on President Karzai and start building up President Karzai and his government to be the government we need, Because they're not the enemy. The enemy is the Taliban." Psst. Joe. The enemy is al Qaeda, and your pal Karzai is a bung buddy of the Taliban and has family ties to drug lords and warlords.

John Boehner, House Minority Leader and the GOP’s leading fake tan product consumer, says that Obama’s decision on troop levels in Afghanistan is “long overdue.” Boehner had nothing to say about Afghanistan troop levels through two terms of the woebegone Bush administration.

Blue dog Democrat Ike Skelton, who sleeps in Joe Lieberman’s tent, exhorts us to show our “commitment to this fight.”

Sen. Mitch McConnell, who couldn’t find his exit ramp with a GPS gizmo, says it’s important that Obama listens to his advisers stationed in Afghanistan now, which means Obama needs to go along with the nation-birthing scheme McChrystal proposes.

McCain, Graham, Lieberman, Skelton, McConnell and the rest of the G.I. Josephine crowd don’t have national security on their agenda. They just like war. President Obama was Bugs Bunny-class maroon for calling Afghanistan a “war of necessity.” We no sooner need to deploy troops to Afghanistan than we need to deploy them to Pluto. Al-Qaeda is all but gone from everywhere, and who gives a rat’s rhetoric about the Taliban? The Taliban just wants us to leave Afghanistan.

We’re funding militias in Afghanistan to fight the Taliban. We’re also funding the Taliban. We’re so screwed up we can’t figure out which way to point our pistols. I’d love it if Obama could un-funk American foreign policy, but fear that he punted the game away when he called Afghanistan a “war of necessity.” Alas.

Obama has made some good moves. Talking to Iran was one of them. Cancelling the Bush administration’s rope-a-dope deal to deploy a missile defense system that didn’t work to Poland and the Czech Republic was another one. Committing to leave Iraq was also good, though I’m not sure the Pentagon and its paramours in Congress and the press are going to let that happen.

I’m hoping Obama has finally realized that Afghanistan is a bad investment, and that he can’t fix a violent, corrupt country by pouring arms and money into it. Unfortunately, I don’t think he’s there yet.

I also don’t think he’s reached the point where he’s ready to stand up to his generals and his Secretary of Defense. The singular failing of the Obama presidency may turn out to be that he kept David Petraeus, Ray Odierno, Mike Mullen, and Robert Gates on the job and that he put Petraeus protégé McChrystal, who was Dick Cheney’s personal assassin, in charge of Afghanistan.

The open warfare between the Pentagon and the White House needs to be stomped, and the White House needs to have won. The egotistical four-stars and their stooge boss Gates got too used to the idea that they ran the country, and that kind of thinking in military circles has to stop. We’re Americans, for heaven’s sake, not Prussians. We don’t exist to support our military. Our military exists to support us, and it’s not doing a very good job of it. It creates more terrorists than it kills or captures.

Our military has turned putrid. We did pretty darn good during the post Desert Storm years when we leaned largely on naval and air forces to show the flag and perform surgical strikes. Boots on the ground have led to quagmires in Iraq and Afghanistan, just as they did in Vietnam.

The last thing we want to do is put tens of thousands more boots in Afghanistan. We’ve already made this mistake in Korea and Vietnam and Iraq. How many more times will we make it?

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.


  1. The answer, sadly, is that we'll keep making the mistake for as long as it delivers wealth and status to the people at the top of the hierarchy (who, oddly enough, don't seem to view invasions and occupations as being mistakes). And all the exhortations to rational thought or appeals to basic morality will make no difference.

    Human beings are strange creatures. We're supposedly endowed with intelligence and foresight that the other species lack, yet all of our discourses and debates on serious issues seem to take place at a very low level, much closer to the glands and gonads than the cerebrum. You can talk to people until you're blue in the face about real threats to their lives and prosperity, such as the imploding economy, decaying environment, resource depletion, etc. and get nothing more in the way of reaction than glazed-over eyes.

    But if you tell the same people that the “threat” is another person or tribe, it's like throwing a switch. Instant concern, instant obedience. As long as you're the person or institution that is going to protect them from the “threat,” you're in clover.

    Propagandists understand this human reaction very well. It's why Rush Limbaugh never talks about the environment, just environmentalists. It's why he has pet names for all of the politicians and pundits he hates, not because it's funny but because it's a quick way of throwing that emotional switch. That's why the wingnuts are convinced Barack Obama is Satan, not because it's rational but because it's much easier to deal emotionally with a personality than with abstractions like foreign policy or the economy.

    And they're not going to stop. I don't see any way to counter this natural advantage that the warmongers have in selling their message to the people. We, as a species, are just hard-wired for this sort of behavior, and propagandists from Bernays to Beck have had a century of practice in exploiting it.

    Which is not to say that they will have their way forever. Our foreign policy and empire will eventually break on the rocks of things like currency debasement and hyperinflation (or whatever other horrors show up on our doorstep). But it will not end through rational discourse and debate.

  2. Anonymous12:28 PM

    As far as I am concerned this war will not be over when we leave Iraq and Afghanistan. It will be over when the people who lead us there are behind bars. That may be an impossible hope but if someone is not working on it the US will launch an unjust war again getting many people killed for nothing.
    Tell me Jeff, tell me that you will call for the imprisonment of these criminals until the day that you die, until you are put in prison or until they are put in prison, which ever comes first.

  3. Just the idea of Lindsay Graham or Joe Lieberman being anybody's squeeze, main or side, is enough to make my skin crawl.

    (Shudder. Okay. I'm over it.)

    Nick Turse does a little rundown of where all that taxpayer money is going. Can't afford health care? Can't afford university or college tuition, mortgages, food, decent pay for decent jobs?

    Well, here's why.

    Nobody ever questions military expenditure...ever.

    What are these guys planning? Will they just decamp from the U.S. once they've drained it dry and go and live in their outposts, complete with all the amenities?

    Weirdest damn thing I've ever seen.

    Meanwhile, at the meeting in Halifax this weekend, Gates wasn't saying anything much. He just wants the military budget of other NATO countries to bankrupt them as well. Of course, he can't reveal what the Obama decision will be on Afghanistan - probably because it hasn't been made yet. (One can only hope.)

    What these guys have decided is that military expenditure will go on forever and they'll make up the wars as they go along to make sure it does. After all, their jobs are at stake.

    U.S.Afghanistan debate curbs Gates on Canada visit

  4. Anonymous7:25 PM

    Thre US spends 5% of GDP on part of its militarism.

    NATO nations and Japan less than 1% of GDP on militarism.

    That is why we need Afghanistan, so that the militarists can deny patriotic Americans of the fruits of capitalism.


  5. JPWhite, man, you are the master of understatement. Humans are strange creatures. No kidding. We are supremely dumb as a group. Humans are also about the only species that can do stupid. And, we tend to be damn good at stupid.
    Maybe some day we will actually use our supposed superior intelligence. That day can't come soon enough though.
    Fil, yes sir, the military gets first crack at the money bags. I think the more ridiculous and costly the "weapon" is, the sooner it gets funded. Any nut ball "new" weapon seems to get hundreds of millions in funding.
    Well, so you can't afford college or health care. Big deal. The military NEEDS them "new" weapons and weapon systems. In fact, as far as I am concerned, that ONLY thing that is actually made in the old US of A are weapons and weapon systems. We don't really make much else. We used to make computers, TV sets, cars, and many other items. Oh sure, we still assemble cars in America, big deal. Most of the parts are imported!
    I want to see ALL the war criminals in jail for life. Life with no possibility of parole or pardon. AND they have to make little rocks from big rocks every day. If they don't meet the daily quota of little rocks, no supper for them that day. And ALL the war criminals to the HIGHEST levels would be prosecuted. None of them should be above the law.
    America USED to be a nation of laws.
    America, where are you now?
    semper fi,

  6. Anonymous8:06 PM

    "Don't you care about your sons and daughters........."

    And most US made weapons are Edsels.

  7. EdNSted12:58 AM

    Now here's some change we can believe in. Or not.

    Blackwater's Secret War in Pakistan

  8. Well put, Charlie. We are the only species that can truly do stupid. That's because we're the only species with the capacity to know better, and we do it all anyway.

    I shouldn't wear my pessimism on my sleeve like that, but it really does seem like we're in a box from which there is no escape. I'd be overjoyed to see the current batch of war criminals in the dock (hell, I'd even pay for the orange jumpsuits out of my own meager savings), but then again, I'm still waiting for someone from the Bush reign of terror to get what's coming to him (or her, come to think of it).

    I used to think that this Internet deal might lead to a sea change in our thinking, but I've been on here for 15 years and have yet to see any breakthroughs. If anything, it seems to amplify stupid (if the number of Pajamas Media bloggers is anything to go by). I do agree that if the American people knew what all of this is costing them, not just in immediate deprivations like lack of health care and no college for the kiddies, but in intergenerational debt, there probably would be a revolution, if not in politics at least in our thinking.

    But I don't see how that message can get though the bullshit barricade erected by the conservative media (Let's coin a phrase, shall we? And what are they conserving? Not America, that's for sure). I'm not so much of a pessimist that I think that a few hundred more websites like this one wouldn't make a difference, but I don't see them flourishing. What I do see is the idiocrats of the Idiocracy going along mindlessly with the groupthink, and multiplying like bacteria in a Petri dish.

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