Latest Defense Joke: The Afghan War Is Worth Fighting

Never mind the nonsense coming from Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates and the Pentagon brass about increasing troop numbers in Afghanistan, and never mind the stupidity of reprising the destructive Bush policy of extending tours of duty.

Focus on the other nonsense, the nonsense that had Gates saying yesterday at a press conference that the war is worth fighting.

“If they [the troops] interact with the Afghans in a way that gives confidence to the Afghans that we’re their partners and their allies, then the risks that I have been concerned about the footprint becoming too big . . . is mitigated.’’ In particular, Gates cited efforts by [General Stanley] McChrystal to distribute US troops to better protect the population and reduce civilian casualties.

Gates and his friends seem to think that the Afghans are simply things about which we have only to worry how big our footprint is on their necks.

The Afghans, for their part, seem to have a more realistic view of the United States presence in their country. We invaded their country. We’ve slaughtered their countrymen and women and children. We support a corrupt government led by Hamid Karzai, seen pretty much as an American puppet. We support rule by warlord and thug.

Our troops don’t speak the language, have nothing in common with the culture, and are rightly more concerned with their own survival than with pretending to be cultural ambassadors. Their job is to kill people wearing funny-looking clothes.

But Gates isn’t done with myopia.

Instead, he said, uprooting terrorist groups requires a more holistic campaign to shore up internal security – the type of effort McChrystal and other top US military leaders envision.

“Even if you want to focus on counterterrorism, you cannot do that successfully without local law enforcement, without internal security, without intelligence,’’ he said.

The idea of internal security run by a corrupt regime is laughable on its face. Afghans want to make a living, want to support their families. In a tribal land ruled by guns, power, greed, and feudal morality, they’ll go where the money is. If the Taliban pay them ten dollars a day to shoot Americans, what the hell, why not, the government only pays five dollars and you have to kick back a couple of those.

Law enforcement? Internal security? Intelligence? Those are opium dreams and you can smell the fumes coming out from under the doors of the Pentagon’s fantasy addicts.

It’s not even clear that Gates and his crew understand that the Taliban is a religious nationalist movement. Thugs, yes. Barbarians, yes. But they’re Afghanistan’s thugs and barbarians, not ours. Their real fight is with other Afghans.

From the physical newspaper, left out of the online version:

Gates cited the continuing threat from Al Qaeda and its Taliban allies as the top reason why the US should stay in Afghanistan. Leaving would allow terrorists to reestablish staging bases in a nation where the political leadership in unable to curb insurgent threats, Gates said in a blunt reference to the Step. 11, 2001 attacks.

“We’re in Afghanistan less for nation-building than we are in giving the Afghan state the capacity to oppose Al Qaeda, to oppose the use of their territory by other violent extremists, and for them to have that capacity that can be sustained over a period of time,” the secretary said.

Sure, Gates, drag out 9/11 again, just like the Republican you are. It’s always good for a scare, as long as you ignore the fact that your former boss in the White House ignored all the intelligence preceding and pointing to that attack.

But never mind that. The Taliban and al Qaeda had at best an arm’s length relationship back in the day. It amounted to two groups of thugs uneasily sharing a neighborhood. Today we’re fighting the Taliban, who are Afghan nationalists. Al Qaeda may have some people in the fight, but mostly they’re snickering at how cleverly they’ve trapped the Great Satan (more accurately the Great Fool) in a quagmire that eats men, machines, blood, and American tax money. Al Qaeda has conned the United States into an illusion worthy of several David Copperfields.

Just how high and how deep into the bone does the delusion go?

By the end of the year, an estimated 68,000 troops will be in Afghanistan, 21,000 of which were ordered there by Obama last spring. Military commanders and State Department officials on the ground, however, say many more are needed to get the job done. [Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike] Mullen described “a sense of urgency” in securing Afghanistan to make sure extremists can no longer hatch terrorist plots against the United States and its allies from within its borders.

So we’re going to throw thousands of more troops into the sausage machine to keep some people from plotting against us? Here’s a flash. There are people in New York City plotting against us. There are people in Washington, D.C. plotting against us. And in Pakistan. And in India. And in Iraq. And in Iran. And in France and England. And in Russia. There are people all over the world plotting against us. What’s the United States going to do? Invade them all? Drop smart bombs in Paris and London and Peoria?  Nutcases in America are bringing loaded guns to President Obama’s public events, and the country’s leaders are fantasizing about crazies in Afghanistan.

The United States is bleeding itself dry in Afghanistan and Iraq because it was attacked by the equivalent of a smart gang of street thugs, none of whom, by the way, were from Iraq, and none of whom were Afghans.

It’s time to get out of Iraq and Afghanistan and start dealing with terrorists as what they are: smart, dedicated, sophisticated   gangs. Go after their money, go after their resources, go after their leaders. Use international police and intelligence resources and financial resources. Use small military teams when necessary. Be relentless, but be smart. Borders and nations mean nothing to terrorists, and it’s way past time the United States leadership understood that fact and changed its ways.


9 Responses

  1. The Bush administration stymied Al Quada in exactly the way that Edward Norton’s character stymied his Boss Richard Cheseborough in the movie “Fight Club” (by beating himself up).

    Apparently the second rule of American Fight Club is that you can talk if you like, but keep beating yourself up afterward.


  2. Bu- but- Real Americans don’t tuck their legs between their legs and skedaddle until they’ve

    a) met their goal (which is usually exploitation), or
    b) gotten bored

    I don’t think we’ve met any noteworthy goals in either Iraq or Afghanistan. Are we bored yet?


  3. Bu- but- Real Americans don’t tuck their tails between their legs and skedaddle until they’ve

    a) met their goal (which is usually exploitation), or
    b) gotten bored

    I don’t think we’ve met any noteworthy goals in either Iraq or Afghanistan. Are we bored yet?


  4. Sorry for the double-post. If you get a chance, Ric, kindly remove the first one, the one with the error.


    • I dunno. I kind of liked the first one for its compellingly curious imagery. Are you sure, really really sure you want me to take it down?


    • I’m with Ric – “Real Americans don’t tuck their legs between their legs” just seems like something GWB would have set as a policy, one Obama would refuse to dismantle until he thoroughly understood it.


      • We’ll have a long wait then. He doesn’t yet understand the people who elected him.


  5. I agree the imagery of the first one is funny, or ridiculous, or, perhaps, pathetic, since it seems to apply equally well to both W. and Barry. What the hell – you might as well leave it up.


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