October 9, 2009

No Good “Options” in Afghanistan

Filed under: Afghanistan, Global War On Terror — Tags: , , , — Russ @ 2:32 am
Earlier this week Obama met with a Congressional delegation to discuss the war in Afghanistan. In spite of rhetorical assurances that the White House team was discussing “all options”, the real point of this meeting with Congressional cadres was to assure them that none of the options being discussed involved devolving the troop presence or the war. (Indeed, the only persons invited to the meeting were varying species of hawk, but no one who is demanding an exit strategy.)
According to reports, the options on the table are the McCrystal plan for a large troop escalation and a broad shift in strategy from search-and-destroy (“terrorist-hunting”) to Vietnamization (counter-insurgency and “nation-building”); a fuzzy middle-of-the-road combination of some of McC’s recommendations with muddling through as we are now; or the Biden proposal to wind down troop activities and focus on the video game war of drone assassinations.
Obama still hasn’t made up his mind what he wants to do here; unlike his all-in policy for domestic corporatism, and unlike his earlier bland jingoism, he seems to be getting squeamish as he has to face this war up close. Clearly the proximate reason for this meeting was to assure the Congressional chickenhawks, and by extension the neocon establishment and MSM, that no matter what happens, even if he broadly accepts Biden’s proposal, there will not be any troop de-escalation. At the very least Obama is committing to “stay the course”.
(It is interesting, though, that he felt the need to do this. It seems to indicate that there was at least the perception that troop reductions were “on the table”, and it definitely means that Biden has gained on McC in the terrorist-hunting vs. COIN (counterinsurgency) sweepstakes.)
Obama declared that the choice between “doubling-down” or “leaving” was a “straw man”. Of course that doesn’t mean he won’t still double down as McC demands, he just won’t call it that.
Everybody’s still sifting through the debris of McC’s alleged power play. His public declarations, his leaking of the policy report, even the personal insult of wearing fatigues to a meeting with Obama on board Air Force One, all are taken to represent a pattern of at least pressuring Obama to enact the proposal, and probably of insubordination as well.
I suppose it is “insubordinate”, and everyone assumes Obama must be furious. There’s plenty of Truman-MacArthur comparisons going around. But we who don’t respect the prerogatives of the imperial presidency and who care about transparency and small-d democracy can be content with McC’s publicity campaign. There are certainly no military secrets involved here, only politics. If the only thing at stake is McC disrespecting Obama, that’s fine.
(And I doubt McC is in much danger of being fired. He’s Obama’s guy after all; O picked him to make exactly the kind of proposal he’s made. If O now is leery of that proposal, it means O changed, not McC. All the evidence indicates that even if he doesn’t really want to escalate any more he’ll cave in anyway. And there’s no evidence that he’d ever have the backbone to fire anyone other than lower-level public interest activists like Van Jones and ACORN.)
So how do we sum up all this? It’s all political nonsense firmly within the policy bounds of continuing the war. Ending it is off the table. But should we end it? What’s the point of it?
National Security Adviser James Jones himself says there are fewer than 100 Al Qaeda cadres in Afghanistan. Meanwhile according to the Pew Research Center Pakistanis support their own government’s efforts to expel Afghan and Arab militants, but do not support doing so in military conjunction with the US or to serve the imperialist purposes of the US. (They give the US a 16% favorable rating, and 76% oppose partnering with the US for drone attacks.)
When you couple this evidence with the administration’s own testimony that there’s only a vestigial Al-Qaeda still active in Afghanistan, it looks like the real war-on-terror aspect of the Global War on Terror has been won. We can wrap it up and go home. But to continue to seek corporatist, imperial goals, which is all the GWOT does by now, can only incite further resistance and militancy. If the real goal is anti-terrorism, by now the return on investment is becoming negative.
We can tolerate the Taliban if they’re unwilling and/or unable to reproduce the terrorist sanctuary they previously offered. Common sense says they’re likely to be unwilling, after what AQ has already put them through. In spite of sympathies, Jordan kicked out the PLO in 1970 when the heat got to be too much.
And now that we know what we’re dealing with and have this counterterrorist infrastructure in place, it should be possible to monitor and target any recidivism of the terrorists in Afghanistan. Contrary to neocon propaganda, it’s not clear why counterterror requires maintenance of current troop levels in Afghanistan. It seems we can garner sufficient intelligence regarding AQ in Pakistan without such troop levels there. Neocons would argue that the troop presence in Afghanistan somehow facilitates intelligence in Pakistan, but this is only asserted, not proved or even evidenced.
We don’t need to combat the broader social movement, which has been gradually and steadily losing support on the Muslim street, just the terrorists’ technical capabilities. The polling in Pakistan is just one piece of evidence that the Muslim people don’t support the jihadists, except where American imperialism drives them to. That’s just as true today as it has always been, right from the start.
As for the costs, we can’t afford them. This war is being fought on credit. Just like every other rathole down which we’re throwing trillions of dollars, this one only accelerates doomsday for the dollar. We could be using what wealth we still have, including what remaining credibility the dollar has as reserve currency, to prepare for the hard times ahead, to help make them somewhat less hard.
But even as Obama draws lines in the sand on health care reform having to be “deficit neutral”, he perpetuates the Bush crime of off-budget debt financing for the war. Meanwhile normal Pentagon and weapons expenses never have to meet any deficit standards at all. All the same Republican and right-wing Democrat scum who are such budget hawks wherever money could be spent to help people don’t care about throwing infinite wealth into this bloody pit.
It’s very simple: You can’t be serious about the debt and still support the war. If you support the war, you forfeit all right to complain about the debt.
From today forward the American imperative must be to roll back every stupid bloated expense – bailouts, war, the existence of the health insurance racket, and everything else which distills to corporatist looting.
Meanwhile the insurgents are getting an excellent return on investment from cheap Kalashnikovs and RPGs. 

1 Comment

  1. […] Terror.   Our arguments:   1. They have no “must”; it’s a war of choice. The real war on terror has already been won.   2. They morally should not. It’s a war of rapacity.   3. They economically and […]

    Pingback by Perspective on the GWOT « Volatility — October 11, 2009 @ 3:53 am

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