Monday, January 26, 2009

Nixon/Vietnam, Bush/Iraq, Obama/Afghanistan?

A site called, while still displaying an "impeach Bush and Cheney" feature, already sounds as though it could be persuaded under certain circumstances to update the names. Writes David Lindorff:
Based upon the ludicrous premise that Afghanistan is the biggest military threat facing the US today, our new president, Barack Obama,is preparing to send another 30,000 US troops to that country,effectively doubling the number of American soldiers already there.Inevitably, this will mean more killing and more anger towards Americaamong the local population.

Al Qaeda members, meanwhile, have largely moved away from the battle to Pakistan, a much larger nation to the east of Afghanistan, whichraises the question: What the hell are we trying to do in Afghanistan?

Let’s get it straight. No Afghan has ever, to my knowledge, harmed the United States. I’m not sure most Afghanis, if they could scrape together the money to go to the US, would even know where this country is. (Okay, most Americans probably couldn’t tell you where Afghanistan is, either, but at least we have libraries, and computers, which the geographically challenged can turn to in order to locate the place.That’s not true for the people of Afghanistan, who have neither.)

For eight years, America has been attacking and destroying a country that is about as dangerous a threat to America as is Mali, or Haiti, or the Comoros Islands. If Obama follows through and doubles the number of troops fighting over there, it will just make this whole policy twice as stupid.
The Afghanistan commitment must be watched carefully. The U.S. military is right to say that more resources are needed to accomplish the mission it has been given by civilian commanders. The question then becomes what Obama's mission will be. Is he acting on his campaign rhetoric, when he accused Sen. McCain of being unwilling to follow Osama bin Laden to his cave? Does he want to keep a hawkish anchor to rightward to cover his big-government moves at home? Is he listening too much to the military's demands for more resources and thus risking letting the tactics drive the strategy?

Lindorff obviously minimizes the remaining dangers to U.S. security interests lurking in those forbidding mountains. Wherever a potent al-Qaeda and its enablers are, there must we be (though the danger of destablizing Pakistan also looms, yet another "another Vietnam" for Obama). But for the sake of the tens of thousands of young Americans preparing to redeploy as well as Afghanistan's people, this is a time for an inexperienced leader to remember how the same dangerous land broke the mighty British and Soviets.

No comments: