In all fairness to the President, he campaigned for months explaining to us that Afghanistan was "the war of necessity" and Iraq was not. The problem for all of us now is that most Americans do not share his view, if they ever did.
Barack Obama is a good man. That is obvious to even his most ardent detractors. He is sincere, hard working, very intelligent, accomplished, energetic and possesses a good moral compass. However on the issue of continuing a senseless war in Afghanistan with no obvious national defense purpose he is simply wrong. That is basically the bottom line here. I cannot support him personally in his desire to spend tens of billions of dollars that we do not have on a far off war with no obvious national defense purpose for so much as another day. He is simply off course.
The President and the majority of the American people diverge at this point regarding the good sense of continuing a "war" against "the Taliban" whoever they might be and whatever that phrase may mean, a group that had nothing to do with the attacks on 9/11. It is pretty much that simple.
Where do I start? Lets start with an email that Congressman Lloyd Dogget (D-TX) sent out to his constituents last night after the speech from the President. I recieved a copy early this morning from a friend in Texas.
Here is the transcript:
You too have probably just listened to President Obama’s remarks announcing orders to substantially increase American troops in Afghanistan.
I agree with so much of what he said but little of what he would do. I share with you the statement that I have just issued in response to what is a request for 30,000 more combat personnel at an annual cost of $1 million each on top of the billions we are already spending there:
"I respectfully disagree that the path to peace and security can be found through a wider war that can be largely completed in a mere 18 months. The better exit strategy is to have fewer troops who need to exit. With some allies already preparing to depart as we expand, most of the blood spilt will remain American. We should honor the sacrifice of those courageously serving by putting fewer of them in harm’s way. It shouldn’t take 100,000 Americans to overcome 100 al Qaeda. All this effort props up a corrupt Karzai government that just stole over a million votes to stay in power but controls only a fourth of the country. Afghanistan can consume as many lives and as many dollars as we are willing to expend there, and leave our families no safer."
Certainly, it is the tragic mistakes of the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld Administration that have lengthened this conflict and strengthened our enemies, but I do not believe that this decision is the best way forward.
I have never claimed a monopoly on truth and certainly welcome your views on this issue or other federal matters on which I can be of service……"
To what the Congressman has said, I add "ditto".
Now lets move on to an article in the news.
The Associated Press this morning has released an article carried on Yahoo.News that is entitled Military families brace for Obama’s Afghan surge .
To state this simply, military and naval families are as confused and divided and mixed up about the basic issues here as the rest of us are. The problem for them is that they are carrying the heaviest weight. This is totally a mess.
In the Sphere Blog today in an article by Joseph Schuman entitled Obama Makes the Case for a Wider War we read about the confusion that the President’s speech has placed into people’s minds.
Here is the last two paragraphs of that blog. It is telling.
"Indeed, the few key details in the long-awaited address — the numbers, dates, scant logistical facts — were mostly released or leaked by the White House well before Obama took the stage at the U.S. Military Academy. And the broader strategy was little changed from the mission defined by the administration’s strategic review of the Afghan war last March.
Rather, Obama sought to win over Democratic opponents of the conflict, Republican critics of his leadership and war-weary Americans with an argument he has repeatedly struck since taking office: that a new, post-Bush America, with greater international legitimacy, is refocusing on the enemy that attacked on 9/11."
I would like to point out to Mr. Schuman that the Taliban, which by the way is a phrase used in Af-Pak and elsewhere which loosely means a religiously motivated patriot, did not attack us on 9/11. Al Qaeda did that and our own intelligence agencies tell us that there are fewer than 100 of these people left in Afghanistan at this point.
There must no be no confusion on this point. There are roughly 100 Al Qaeda left in Afghanistan according to our own people.
The Taliban claimed to be giving OBL and his Al Qaeda followers refuge after 9/11 and demanded that the Bush Administration provide proof that OBL attacked along with Al Qaeda. We never did that, we simply invaded Afghanistan and so OBL allegedly moved off to the mountains of Pakistan.
Most Islamists now believe he is dead and was killed at Tora Bora by our troops. It is important that at this point we understand this also.
We have to get the basic facts straight. As far as we know, Al Qaeda is not in Afghanistan in significant numbers and the Taliban, a word which means different things in different parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan, pose no immediate national security threat to the USA.
So why are we extending this war?
According to David Wood in Politics Daily the character of our war in Afghanistan now changes. The article is entitled New U.S. Strategy in Afghanistan: War With the Pashtun .
There are even odds here that these mountain fighters will hand us our lunch. All at once. In the face.
You have to understand, now we are pursuing people directly into their tribal homelands in order to …..in order to…..do what? Decimate their families? Kill their sheep and their goat herds and their kids? Why? Because they don’t agree with us theologically and politically?
The same is true with the Indonesians. Are we going to invade Indonesia next?
The Washington Post this morning in a lead-off article entitled Obama: U.S. security is still at stake, again reiterates what the President had said all along in his campaign, that the war in Afghanistan is worth fighting. No it is not.
In another article in the Post entitled The puzzle for Congress: How to pay for plan , we learn that the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will now exceed $1 trillion dollars. This breaks my heart.
We have so many needs in this country for that money that I cannot list them all. Yet we are spending this mountain of money overseas so that perhaps twenty thousand war industry captains, emerging market speculators and energy cartel hucksters can turn their tens of millions into hundreds of millions.
Please do not insult me with the "trickle down" economics nonsense. We are simply making unbelievably powerful economic gods out of already too-rich Patricians at the public expense. Why?
From the Opinion section of the Post, here is Eugene Robinson’s view entitled A long haul — continued — in Afghanistan . He does not see this beginning to end in 18 months and neither do I.
In another Opinion piece Roger Cohen has written A novel way to argue for war in which he states that Obama probably has done the right thing by sticking to his guns, yet Cohen does not believe this will work. Neither do I.
We will be there ten years from now and by that time over 30,000 plebian kids will have been killed for patrician gold and influence in world markets. This is simply outrageous.
Harold Meyerson has an Opinion piece entitled In and out with Groucho in which he states that the theme song for this nonsensical war should probably be taken from the Old Marx Brothers movie Animal Crackers and that song is "Hello I must be going!".
Here is the last two paragraphs of his piece.
""Hello, I Must Be Going" is also the song of a skeptic, of a president who – again, unlike his predecessor – knows that one shouldn’t speak of victory in a conflict that is as resistant to solution as the one in Afghanistan; who knows enough not to mistake the Afghan government for a committed, competent or even honest champion of the Afghan people. Jingoism and fustian are not in Obama’s rhetorical or mental toolbox. He knows he has set the nation on a compromise course in a miserable conflict that he believes cannot be abandoned but also cannot, in a definitive sense, be won. For that reason, he is hedging this war, limiting the downside, and one way to do that is not to talk of an illusory upside.
Hedging this bet makes perfect sense. The question is whether the bet itself makes sense – whether we can do enough nation-building in a nation that has long resisted being built that we can help establish a legitimate order that Afghans will opt to defend against the Taliban. Put me down as skeptical, and filled with doubts about Obama’s course. Then again, Obama himself is skeptical even while embarking on that course. "Hello, I Must Be Going" is the right anthem for this war."
I do not know what else to say except that I fear for the future of our Republic. If this is the best option available to us, we need to completely rethink what the phrase "national defense" is all about.
Does anyone seriously think that the Taliban represent immediate danger to the USA? Then why are we breaking our national treasury and killing and maiming our young people and the Afghan people in order to wage war with them?
This is ultimately about money. Money talks and b.s. walks. Oil and natural gas money, weapons industry money, emerging market money, and who-knows-what-else money is demanding a wider war in Afghanistan and Pakistan for reasons that those of us who are mere Plebes are not privy to understand. But it is obvious, even to us.
This is a sad day in our Republic.
Once again, Big Money gets what it wants and once again, working class kids pay for it with their lives.
CWO3 Tom Barnes, USCG (Ret.)