Tag Archives: Afghanistan

Obama’s Napoleon Complex

16 Aug

Since the bombs started falling in Central Asia in October 2001, critics of the American Empire warned that the initial “success” in Afghanistan was an illusion. The country was no match for massive US firepower, but the lessons of history would make this war unwinnable. It would drain our resources, create exponentially more enemies, and further destabilize a region that had absolutely nothing to do with 9/11.

Eight years later, as both civilian and US military death counts are surging, even the US’s top torturer/executioner in Afghanistan is admitting this. General Stanley McChrystal is witnessing firsthand the rising casualties and warning that the Taliban are winning:

The Taliban have gained the upper hand in Afghanistan, the top American commander there said, forcing the U.S. to change its strategy in the eight-year-old conflict by increasing the number of troops in heavily populated areas like the volatile southern city of Kandahar, the insurgency’s spiritual home.

This startling admission coming from Obama’s handpicked Afghan ethnic cleanser is just another sign of a undefined and ever changing imperial strategy, all of them with no conceivable chance of success. First, the goal was to tame the Taliban, a ragtag group of poor Muslim fighters who did want war with the US but got it anyway. Now, McChrystal is admitting that the Taliban can’t be defeated, and the job of the US military is now to “defend and protect the Afghan population.” Rather than cut our losses and come home, Obama and his war machine are putting new slogans and rhetoric to justify this imperial overstretch.

At the same time McChrystal is giving these warnings from Central Asia, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates is claiming that it is a “mystery” how long US troops will be fighting and dying in Afghanistan:

Defeating the Taliban and al-Qaida will take “a few years,” Defense Secretary Robert Gates said, with success on a larger scale in the desperately poor country a much longer proposition. He acknowledged that the Taliban has a firm hold on parts of the country President Barack Obama has called vital to U.S. security.

Gates’ testimony represents the complete absence of logic behind the “war on terror” and Obama’s proclamation that the war in Afghanistan is “the good war.” Obama excited a war-weary American public with campaign talks of peace and pullouts, but now that the emperor’s torch of power has been handed to him, he sees no reason why this pointless and counterproductive war should end.

More than anything Obama attempts to do domestically, nothing has the chance to bring Obama’s presidency down like this expensive and bloody quagmire in Afghanistan. Critics of Obamacare like to point out the high costs of his healthcare policy and the likelihood that taxes will be raised. But the costs of government healthcare will be minuscule compared to the costs of fighting in Afghanistan: trillions of dollars, thousands of more troops killed or forever maimed, and the continuing growth of Taliban popularity in response to massive US air raids.

Obama did not create this Mesopotamian madness, but he has the power to put an end to it, to seek diplomacy, and to work towards something American foreign policy hasn’t witnessed in decades: genuine peace. President Eisenhower ended the disastrous Korean War, President Coolidge withdrew troops from the Dominican Republic, and President Reagan cut-and-ran from Lebanon; all of these actions secured peace and US security. Obama’s wise engagement with Israel is beginning to extinguish some fires in that trouble region, yet he insists on throwing more and more gasoline on the Afghan flames.

This war will be Obama’s Waterloo, and with its continuing costs and burdens, time is not on his side.


Imitating the Soviets in Afghanistan

10 Aug

Obama’s healthcare plans have been dominating the media for the last month, so it’s no surprise that this little piece of news went nearly unnoticed here in the US. According to the UK Times Online, 45,000 more US Marines will be sent to Afghanistan. Anthony Cordesman, “an influential American academic,” says

The United States should send up to 45,000 extra troops to Afghanistan…

If Mr Cordesman’s recommendation reflects the view of General McChrystal, who recently presented the findings of a 60-day review of Afghanistan strategy to Washington, it would mean sending another nine combat brigades, comprising 45,000 American troops, in addition to the 21,000 already approved by President Obama. This would bring the total American military presence in Afghanistan to about 100,000, considerably closer to the force that was deployed for the counter-insurgency campaign in Iraq.

Not a word in the American press about this possible “surge” in Afghanistan, a war that ia costing the US $200 million every day, destablizing the entire region, strengthening the Taliban, and killing hundreds of civilians a day. Obama may be drawing down troop strength in Iraq, but his offensives in Afghanistan are dangerously counterproductive, creating and an endless list of new enemies with every bomb and drone missile.

100,000 Soviets and thousands of helicopters couldn’t tame the Afghan countryside. Two decades later, the sons of those Afghans who whipped the Soviets have been bleeding the US since since October 2001. What makes these war planners think that they ignore history and keep digging hole after hole in Central Asia?

If Cordesman and McChrystal are going to be giving orders in Afghanistan, then it is very likely that the US won’t be leaving anytime soon. General McChrystal was the top torturer in Iraq before Obama promoted him; Cordesman criticized Bush for not escalating the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan enough and publicly praised Israel’s air and ground bombardment of the Gaza Strip last December.

These are some of the top minds running the US Empire, and they all have Obama’ ear.

There is also another possible war on the horizon as Israeli hawks continue to pressure the US to pre-emptively strike the Iranians. In the midst of a crippling depression, inflation, and debt, how long can the US maintain these desert killing-fields?

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.