Among the many unanswered questions about President Obama’s approach to the war in Afghanistan, there is at this point one thing about which we can be certain: He does indeed regard this as a war of necessity.
But necessary for what?
Necessary for defeating al Qaeda?
Nah. Much as Americans have been indoctrinated to believe that eradicating terrorism might be akin to eradicating smallpox — an endeavor which if engaged with sufficient thoroughness could actually have an end — it should by now be clear to all but the most simple-minded that the kernel of the episodic terrorist threat to America is contained in dangerous and highly contagious ideas. It is not confined to a particular group of people confined to a particular location. The war in Afghanistan is doing more to cultivate the conditions for a continuation of that threat rather than being an instrument for its removal.
Necessary for ending the war in Iraq?
In part, yes — at least this was the presidential campaign logic. The war in Iraq needed to be wrapped up as quickly as possible because that war was a distraction and the war in Afghanistan was a necessity.
Obama’s opposition to the war in Iraq could only be sold in a campaign against hawkish Republicans if he could prove he was not an opponent of war per se — just an opponent of that particular one. “I am not opposed to all wars. I’m opposed to dumb wars,” Obama said in 2002 when laying out his credentials as an un-antiwar Illinois State Senator.
In the 2008 campaign, Obama’s proof that he possessed an adequate level of war-zest was to pronounce that he was a true believer when it came to the war in Afghanistan — the righteous war; the necessary war; the real war; the war the George Bush had neglected to win.
Necessary for re-election?
Maybe. The answer to that question might well be contained in the genesis of July 2011 as the date US troops will start pulling out of Afghanistan. As CBS News reports, that date is “locked in”. “The president told [press secretary Robert Gibbs, the date — contrary to assertions from US senators] IS locked in — there is no flexibility. Troops WILL start coming home in July 2011. Period. It’s etched in stone. Gibbs said he even had the chisel.”
The Pentagon doesn’t like firm dates. It cleaves firmly to the line that everything is provisional, depending on the current conditions. So it’s hard to believe that General McChrystal or General Petraeus would have volunteered this timetable.
Did it come from David Axelrod? Does July 2011 fit as a “necessity” into a 2012 campaign calender?
Hmmm… flood a faraway country with troops, deliver a knockout blow to an enemy that may not even exist, then claim Mission Accomplished in time for the next election. Where have I heard that before?
What a cynical opportunist this Obama is turning out to be.
Why does America do what it does? Here’s what Bertrand Russell had to say forty-some-odd years ago. Has anything changed?
“In violation of solemn international agreements signed by American presidents and ratified by the American congress, this Johnson government has committed war crimes, crimes against humanity and crimes against the peace. It has committed these crimes because the Johnson government exists to preserve the economic exploitation and the military domination of subject peoples by the United States industrial magnates and their military arm. The Central Intelligence Agency, which has a budget fifteen times larger than all the diplomatic activity of the United States, is involved in the assassination of heads of state and plots against independent governments. This sinister activity is designed to destroy the leadership and the organisation of peoples who are struggling to free themselves from the stranglehold of American economic and political domination. United States militarism is inseparable from that same predatory capitalism which reduced the American people themselves to poverty within the living memory of this generation.”
Commenting on what passes for ‘foreign policy’ in the U.S. is always dysfunctional – as the reasons for those policies usually are arrived at to serve domestic interests – not pressing concerns. ‘Perception is All’ : that, and fitting into the advertising campaign putting a righteous face on naked mass murder.
But expansion into AfPak from Iraq is implicit in the derailing of Saddam’s function as a stabilizing influence in the region : jealous of his authority, with an intimidating military capacity and a pipeline to U.S. tech and intel, he suppressed dissent ruthlessly.
Since that was not allowed to continue, the reasons why must bear some relation to Cheney’s summation – available on YouTube – as to why Iraq was NOT invaded under Bush’s father during the Gulf War. Obviously, those considerations have changed under prodding from Big Oil to destabilize the governments who might interfere with the rape of oil resources and American control of them : also a denial to Russia and China. Another cute idea that has surfaced is that the initiative can be used to supply Israel with strategic energy capacity : something hinted at by the proliferation of American military bases. But it would not be astute to make that the sole reason : multipurpose utility in denying infrastructure of water,oil,energy ,medicine and more underly a policy which evicts people from their homes in droves and cause deaths by the million.
I kept referring to the War Game which Pentagon planners mysteriously were not allowed to replicate under Rumsfeld : Post-Saddam Iraq : Desert Crossing. Years later I heard it referred to as ‘the Bible’ for Iraq. State added its own take a few years later.
http://opitslinkfest.blogspot.com/2009/07/documents.html has them both listed for easy reference.
Is Afghanistan an American “necessary war” or a Chinese “necessary war”?
When Obama was in China he asked for more forbearance from his Chinese bankers. They apparently said yes only if US escalates in Afghanistan because it doesn’t want a Taliban takeover. The Taliban had supported the Uygurs and Muslims in Western China and the narrow Afghan channel to its border is a Muslim revolt supply route. So rather than have to mobilize the Shanghai Cooperative Accord to replace the US in Afghanistan, the Chinese simply accepted the burden of more dollars for our healthcare bill. But that costs $32 billion more that we don’t have. If this is true, as our kids become mercenary troops for Chinese interests our grandkids will be even more indebted paying back with interest our massive Chinese debt. “Necessary” is used kind of vaguely, given its concrete result of more widows and orphans on the home front.