Monday, February 02, 2009

Obama in Afghanistan

Some of the wounded lay where they fell, waiting for what they knew would come. For others, a comradely shot to the head was thought humane. Rudyard Kipling captured the essence of the terrible decision:

When you’re wounded and left on Afghanistan’s plains,

And the women come out to cut up what remains,

Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains,

An’ go to your Gawd like a soldier.

That was January 1842. A British army of 5,000 troops and 12,000 civilians left Kabul, Afghanistan in a mad retreat to Jalalabad. As the Afghanis cut them to pieces, chaos prevailed among the British soldiers who, it is reported, knocked down their officers with the butts of their muskets. On the 13th of January, just seven days after the retreat commenced, one man, bloody and torn, mounted on a miserable pony, and pursued by horsemen, was seen riding furiously across the plains. The other 17,000 lay dead on the snowy ground.

Afghanistan is the graveyard of empires. Alexander the Great, Moghuls, the British, and the Soviet Union were all driven from Afghanistan.

The United States now has 30,000 soldiers in Afghanistan. It’s Bush’s war. “We are on the verge of significantly expanding the war in Afghanistan,” Ray Bonner wrote in the New York Times Book Review, “which will inevitably affect Pakistan as well. Unfortunately, there has been little or no debate about President-elect Barack Obama’s plan to send in more troops,” Bonner concluded. When he does that, when Obama escalates the war by sending in 20,000 more troops, on that day it will be Obama’s war.

Why is the United States in Afghanistan? Contrary to the propaganda of the Bush and now Obama administrations, as Bonner points out, “the threat presented by Al Qaeda has been exaggerated.” Al Qaeda’s “importance in the general scheme of things is greatly overstated by the West,” Tariq Ali writes in his new book, The Duel: Pakistan on the Flight Path of American Power. Bruce Riedel, a former C.I.A. analyst and adviser to three presidents, “acknowledges that enlarging the war in Afghanistan is exactly what Al Qaeda wants, just as it wants the conflict in Iraq to continue. ‘In its view,’ Riedal says, the bleeding wars offer the best opportunity to defeat the United States’.”

Have we learned nothing from history? Does no one remember that Osama bin Laden is a creation of the United States? Does no one remember that some of the weapons he now uses on U. S. soldiers were supplied to him through the largess of Congressmen Norm Dicks and Charlie Wilson?

After seven years of war and occupation, Afghanistan is a failed, narco-state. It has a puppet president whose authority does not extend beyond Kabul. He depends for his survival on NATO and U. S. mercenaries. It has, according to Ali, “a corrupt and abusive police force, a nonfunctioning judiciary, a burgeoning criminal layer and a deepening social and economic crisis.”

Sounds to me a lot like Vietnam under U.S. tutelage in the 1950s and 1960s. I hope Obama does not go down this road, to compound the tragedy we have already induced..

When you're wounded and left on Afghanistan's 

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At 10:38 PM, Blogger The Rambling Taoist said...

In order to prop up the incessant military-industrial complex, we've got to be at war with somebody. So, since we're already engaged in Afghanistan, it's an easy call. President O can always lay the blame at Dubya's feet and most liberals will slurp it up.


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