Monday, November 30, 2009

Babbling About Afghanistan


By Alan Caruba

The President is going to address the nation about his plans for Afghanistan and if ever there was an exercise in futility, this is it.

Obama’s spent, we’re told, a goodly amount of time deciding what to do about this “war of necessity”, but he has never really explained why it’s necessary. Presumably it is because the Taliban want to take over Afghanistan. They did that before and, following the 9/11 attack, George Bush decided to kill as many as possible while doing the same to whatever members of al Qaeda were around.

Bush had a fairly simple approach to Afghanistan and it worked in the short term, but everything about the Middle East involves the long term whether you are looking back at history or trying to influence its future.

If you look back, you discover that the former Soviet Union had 100,000 troops there and spent ten years in Afghanistan. Like all occupying powers before them, they lost out to the tribes that function throughout the nation. Covert U.S. assistance expedited their losses, but that help was predicated on the long Cold War between the U.S. and the Soviet Union.

One day in 1989 they just packed up and went home to Russia. Shortly thereafter the Berlin Wall fell followed by the entire Soviet government in 1991. If you look further back, you will find that the formerly great British Empire achieved little more than getting large numbers of their troops killed there.

Most military and other historians would draw the conclusion that invading and occupying Afghanistan is a really bad idea.

We have been listening to a lot of babble about its importance for eight years, but it was not important enough for the Bush administration to invest much effort. Iraq was far more than a war of necessity. It was a major oil producer, centrally located, and not incidentally, bordered Iran, a nation that has been in a state of belligerency with the United States since 1979. Beyond that, Saddam Hussein threatened any hope of stability in the Middle East.

As far as I can tell, Afghanistan’s major export is opium. The average life expectancy there is age 44 for men and women. The whole place is tribal with the Pashtuns being the largest one. Complaining about “corruption” in Afghanistan’s government or in any other aspect of life there is idiotic. What we call corruption is an ancient, established way of life for the whole of the Middle East.

Having fled from the Sudan, Al Qaeda set up shop there pre-9/11 because it is one of the most inaccessible places on Earth. He is believed to be in one of the frontier areas of Pakistan, bordering Afghanistan.

The problem of Afghanistan will not be solved until the problem of Pakistan is solved. And Pakistan does not like Afghanistan, but then Pakistan really hates India and one wonders who it considers a friend. It’s certainly not America, even though we have thrown billions down the Pakistani rat hole and only lately, when the Taliban were a short drive from downtown Islamabad, did the Pakis decide they were a problem.

One has to ask (1) why, after eight years, we haven’t found and killed Osama bin Laden and (2) why, after eight years, we are still militarily engaged there? Are we nation-building? If so, Afghanistan has passed through various stages of nationhood with not much to show for it. The present administration’s governing power extends to the city limits of Kabul.

If we can learn anything from the Soviet Russian experience, what are we doing there? The short answer is that we are getting our troops killed just as we did in Vietnam. NATO generals have openly questioned their nation’s participation. Meanwhile, a war-weary America is now drawing down our troops in Iraq.

President Lyndon Johnson wrestled with the Vietnam quandary in just the same way President Obama has had to do with Afghanistan and both came up with the same bad answer: more troops.

The American Empire is shrinking. The American economy is so bad that it is on life support from China, Japan and other lenders. Meanwhile, the Obama administration is pushing two pieces of legislation, Obamacare and Cap-and-Trade that would destroy the economy

A little bit of humility would be useful at this point, starting with some concentration on how to get Americans back to work and to find ways to keep American industry from leaving for places where the government doesn’t outlaw their products or some obscure specie is not the reason for denying irrigation water to farmers.

It is the habit of empires to never want to be seen abandoning the field of battle and right now we’re told that is in Afghanistan.

Hubris will prevent this President from defying history while, at the same time, shepherding a malevolent program to destroy America through Congress.

Afghanistan is the least of our problems.

6 comments:

TexasFred said...

Throw more troops and money at it, that'll get it done boys...

That was LBJ's solution and yeah, I am afraid that's going to be the *Obama strategy* as well...

We are not going to WIN anything in Afghanistan, we can't.. We're not going to be allowed to WIN...

Our poser of a president is far too politically correct and too much of a Muslim sympathizer for us to ever have anything even remotely resembling a win...

We worry about collateral damage, we fight by the rules issued by Hamid Karzai, we worry about *offending* our enemy, that is NOT how you win a war...

Alan Caruba said...

Fred, we are in complete agreement!

Guy said...

I can't wait for Obama's speech tomorrow night. He's really painted himself into a corner on this one. First, he's going to piss off his faithful leftist followers by announcing an escalation of our involvement in Afghanistan, instead of bringing all our troops home as he promised. Then, he's going to piss the rest of us off by telling us there isn't enough money left to pay for it after his rampant spending spree, so we'll all need to pay more taxes. Meanwhile, he continues to barge ahead with his ridiculous health care plan, which we all know means even more taxes...

MoveOn, Code Pink, Michael Moore, and all the usual liberal suspects have already weighed in on his plan, and they are NOT happy campers. I hate to say we told them so, but .... we told them so. Wake up and smell the coffee folks ...

Frank Tamel said...

Alan ... I believe that Bin Laden is dead and has been for white a while. But he is the excuse for our intervention so the illusion that he is alive must be kept up. He is the modern day boogie man.

Alan Caruba said...

Interesting theory, Frank, but he keeps issuing audiotape speeches, etc and the CIA's voice analysis confirms it's him. Like yourself, however, I find it odd that he has not be captured or killed by now.

bobredpath said...

I read (Jack Wheeler's newsletter)that Bin Laden died years ago, in Iran, where he was being treated for kidney problems. He is buried there. I believe the Moslems want to keep the myth going that he is alive, in order to show their "invincibility," and we want to keep the myth going to justify our presence in that part of the world. I think the CIA is playing along by saying the voice analysis confirms that the tapes are legitimate. Remember how both Obama and McCain vowed during the campaign that they would get Bin Laden, but Obama went silent about it ever since he was briefed after the election?