Thursday, December 3, 2009

No One Should Be Surprised
by Dee Newman

No one should be surprised or shocked by President Obama’s speech Tuesday night, least of all those of us who voted for him. This is precisely the policy we voted for last year. This is the pragmatic president for whom we voted . . . who never once spoke of drawing down our forces in Afghanistan during the campaign, nor has he ever suggested doing so since he took office. In fact, he promised to carefully deliberate the war in Afghanistan, to make decisions based upon reason and reality. Tuesday night we heard the same determination we heard on his stump speeches last year – to repair the Bush Administration’s historic blunders and mistakes in the Afghanistan/Pakistan region and, once accomplished, to withdraw our troops.

Yes, I voted for President Obama. But, like many others, I am extremely reluctant to support his decision to escalate this war, to send 30 thousand more American troops into harm's way in a war that has cost so much already and only promises to keep dragging on indefinitely. History tells me that it could easily cascade into a catastrophe. Nevertheless, to be completely honest, his options were limited, to say the least, between bad and awful.

And besides, morally, can we, once again, abandon the Afghan people, especially their women and children, as we did back in the 80s and allow the Taliban and their fundamentalism to govern and control their lives? Strategically, can we afford to turn our backs on Pakistan, a nuclear state, where al Qaeda and most of the Taliban now reside?

Look, the man wakes up every morning confronted with a dozen or so Cornelian dilemmas, where all his options and choices have equally negative outcomes, and the cost in treasure and lives is enormous.

His predecessor left him, left us, caught between Iraq and a hard place, with a military in shambles, an economy bankrupt, our international reputation in ruin, an environment that is collapsing around us . . . and while the list continues to grow, Obama is left to make decisions that will have negative ramification whatever he does for all of us, the entire world, for generations to come.

Now don’t get me wrong, these unprecedented choices and challenges should not be seen as excuses or a defense to protect him from criticism of the difficult decisions he must make and their consequences. Hell, he wanted the damn job and he got it. But, it is important for all us to remember what he inherited and that any decision he makes will have extraordinarily negative consequences.

With that said, we don’t have the resources for nation building, not even for our own, let a lone, a country on the other side of the world . . . a country with a corrupt and failing government that continues to rely on cruel and repressive warlords.

To believe we can transform Afghanistan into a modern functioning state is ludicrous. A year ago we were teetering on the brink of an economic melt down, another Great Depression. Though we may no longer be teetering, we are still too damn close to the edge to try to transform any failing government but our own.

In November of 2004 al Qaeda’s leader, Osama bin Laden, told us that his goal was to “bleed America to the point of bankruptcy.” He went on to say that he had found it easy “to provoke and bait” the Bush administration and that America would suffer major human and economic losses while Bush’s buddies would rake in enormous profits.

“ The real loser is you," he said. "It is the American people and their economy."

As I have said numerous times over the last six years, Osama bin Laden must be laughing his ass off. How sad and depressing it is that the man Bush said he would capture "dead or alive" back in 2002 is still at large, and that it is Osama bin Laden’s words, not Bush's, that ring true, today.

Please, Mr. President, stop the “bleeding!“ It cannot continue unabated, if this nation is to survive. Think about the jobs that will not be created here in the US, think about the money that will be squandered on an un-winnable war and that will never be invested in health care, our children's educations, and rebuilding the infrastructure we need to compete economically in the world.

Your approach will not work. It cannot possibly succeed. Ask the Russians. Ask Genghis Khan. Societies are not changed in two years or even in a single generation. The corruption of the Afghan government, the deaths and suffering of civilians caused by US and NATO forces is too great for us to ever win the hearts and minds of the Afghan people. They will never rally behind the Karzai government or the occupation of their country by our armed forces.

As I said to President Bush – if the war against al Qaeda is truly vital to our national interests and security, then damn-it, implement a draft, and force us all to sacrifice. Stop allowing less than 2 percent of those eligible for military service to do the fighting for us – again and again and again. And for the sake and well being of us all, have the courage to increase our taxes in order to pay for it. Make us all sacrifice. Then and only then, will we truly know what is at stake.

Otherwise, get the hell out!

1 comment:

Debbie said...

Great, Dee! I just saw the new movie, Brothers tonight. Check it out. Though fiction, it will make you weep for what is happening in this, Deb