Obama’s “new thinking” in Afghanistan

27 Jun

Defense Secretary Gates is asking the Afghanistan Commander David McKiernan to step down, and recommending Army-Lieutenant Stanley McChrystal as his replacement to President Obama. McKieman had only been in charge for about a year, and this change signals the Obama Administrations’ supposed “new thinking” on the war in Afghanistan.

“Today we have a new policy set by our new president. We have a new strategy, a new mission, and a new ambassador,” Gates said at a press conference today. “I believe that new military leadership also is needed.”

President Obama’s “new thinking” in Afghanistan also includes sending more than 20,000 new troops into Afghanistan with the possibility of a decade-long occupation, drone missile strikes across the Pakistani border, and a possible invasion and occupation of Pakistan if the Taliban continues to gain ground and get closer and closer to Islamabad, the capital. And, of course, there is also Iraq (here’s Obama praising U.S. accomplishments in Iraq).

The President’s war ambitions dwarf the Bush Administration’s Iraq adventure in scope, intensity, and money (by 2010, the Afghan war costs will begin to surpass Iraq’s) while this war in “the graveyard of empires” approaches its eighth year.  This number is getting dangerously close to the nine years the Soviet Union spent trying to tame the Afghan countryside with helicopters, air strikes, and overwhelming force. The war drained their resources, the Soviets were defeated, and the Kremlin Empire crumbled to its knees.

But that wouldn’t happen to the mighty United States, would it? Our 2-trillion-dollar debt and counterfeit economy can’t last forever.

So where is the “anti-war” Left now that Obama is in control of the U.S. war machine? They are shamefully silent and have in fact already begin to defend his imperial chess-games, as antiwar.com’s Justin Raimondo explains:

“That’s where the pro-war progressive think-tanks come in: their role is to forge a new pro-war consensus, one that commits us to a long-range ‘nation-building’ strategy in Afghanistan and Pakistan. These are the Center for a New American Security, explicitly set up as home base for the ‘national security Democrats’ who make up the party’s hawkish faction; Brookings; and, last but not least, the Center for American Progress, which was an oasis of skepticism when Team Bush was ‘liberating’ Iraq, and a major critic of the occupation…Not only that, but they are moving to the front lines in a battle against Obama’s antiwar opponents…”

The liberals are defending Obama’s war plans in the same way the conservatives defended Bush’s policies, and critics are to be purged and silenced.

The war in Afghanistan, and the Obama Administration’s plan to attack terrorist “safe havens” and “training grounds” ignores the lessons of 9/11. The attacks on New York and the Pentagon were plotted in Germany, Malaysia and in Florida, right under the negligent nose of the FBI, the CIA, and the “anti-terror” forces created by President Clinton and later expanded by President Bush.

Increasing the war in Afghanistan will not stop terrorism; it will only increase the likelihood of another 9/11-esque retaliation. As more and more Afghan civilians become the victims of soulless and crushing air strikes on weddings and villages (the U.S. calls this “collateral damage”), it is difficult to see Obama’s escalation as anything but dangerously counterproductive.

I have heard some argue that we should be patient with our new President; give him some time, and see what happens. Time is not a luxury, however, since more time only increases American and Arab casualties and further drains our Treasury. Obama ran on a somewhat anti-war platform, but has fallen under the spell of imperial ambition, power, and corruption. The “peace” candidate is now leaving Afghanistan in pieces.

As SF Libertarian Examiner Justin Clarke has pointed out, nothing good can come from us staying in Afghanistan, and we should come home. I agree, and we should come home as soon as possible. That’s the kind of “new thinking” we need in Afghanistan.


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