As the AP reports “dozens of civilians” killed in a U.S. airstrike overnight, Defense Secretary Robert Gates is shifting his position–toward that of the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley McChrystal–in being ‘open to increasing the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan’ while reinforcing his support for continued U.S. occupation, adding: “I absolutely do not think it is time to get out of Afghanistan.”
Ann Scott Tyson reports at The Washington Post today:
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates indicated Thursday that he is open to increasing the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan, voicing a shift in his position as the administration ponders a military assessment expected to lead to a formal request for additional forces….
The number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan is already set to roughly double this year, to 68,000, including about 21,000 new troops that Obama ordered to deploy.
In recent months, Gates has warned repeatedly against deploying too many troops, saying the local population would reject them as an occupation force, much as Afghans opposed the 110,000 Soviet troops stationed in Afghanistan in the 1980s.
Now, however, it is widely anticipated that McChrystal will follow up his assessment soon with a request for several thousand more U.S. troops…
Officials said Gen. David H. Petraeus, the head of U.S. Central Command, has endorsed the assessment.
“I’ll tell you what made him”—Alexander the Great—“great,” Ret. C.I.A. senior analyst Ray McGovern told Scott Horton at AntiWar Radio last week. “He went into Afghanistan and guess what happened. All kinds of militants, insurgents—people who, for some strange reason didn’t like invaders coming into Afghanistan—they started widdling away at his armies… Alexander the Great looked up at those mountains and he looked at the casualties and he says, ‘This is probably a bad idea. I’m gonna change my mind.’ And he went back to Asia Minor.”
The rhetoric surrounding the “Af-Pak” War is about nothing more than juvenile “vengeance, not prevention”, as Justin Raimondo wrote a couple of days ago at AntiWar.com: “No one seems to know: or, more accurately, no one dares say what it’s really all about – revenge. It’s a war that has nothing to do with protecting America from another 9/11, and everything to do with institutionalizing an endless war of aggression the aim of which is slaughter for its own sake, as an end in itself.”
Mr. Raimondo continues, when that appeal to emotion falls flat, Chicken Little-esque claims of prevention are made to induce fear of ‘Pakistan being a safe haven for—or worse, falling to—al-Qa’ida’:
This evolving meme—that the Afghan occupation is all about saving Pakistan’s nukes from falling into Osama bin Laden’s hands—is based on fantasy, not reality. Sure, anything could happen, but Pakistan—a modern nation in many respects, with five times the population of Afghanistan and an enormous middle class that isn’t about to live in a feudalistic theocracy—is among the least likely to join OBL’s projected global caliphate….
Bin Laden and his cohorts don’t need any “safe havens” bigger than an apartment in Hamburg, Germany—or Florida—to plan the next 9/11. That’s the essential weakness of the U.S. position in the “war on terror,” a battle in which our very bigness and alleged advantages—the complexity and relative freedom of our modern civilization—work against us. The 9/11 hijackers integrated themselves seamlessly into our society and worked steadily and almost without detection toward their goal. Our position, in short, is necessarily defensive. The Bush administration tried to reverse this by adopting the old aphorism “the best defense is a good offense” as their strategic guiding principle, but it backfired badly—just as it will for the Obamaites, who are guilelessly pursuing the same generals-fighting-the-last-war game plan.
We have less to fear from Pakistan’s nukes—which couldn’t reach the U.S. anyway, in the highly unlikely event they fell into Islamist hands—than we do from a miniaturized nuke finding its way into the U.S. via our virtually open and defenseless ports, or from a “dirty bomb” being constructed right here in the U.S. We spend billions to fight a war to keep al-Qaeda from coming over the Afghan-Pakistani border, but our own border with Mexico is notoriously porous, and only the gods know how many al-Qaeda have made it into America alongside your gardener and the guy who made that nice retaining wall in your backyard.
The Corporate War Party’s efforts to exploit Obama-nia are beginning to fall flat. A CNN poll released on September 1 shows that 57% of Americans, including 75% of Democrats, currently oppose the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan:
“Fifty-seven percent of independents and nearly three-quarters of Democrats oppose the war. Seven in 10 Republicans support what the U.S. is doing in Afghanistan,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. “Democrats mildly opposed the war in April while independents and Republicans favored it. But opposition has grown 18 points among Democrats and 10 points among independents.”…
President Barack Obama has called Afghanistan a “war of necessity” and has placed a great emphasis on defeating the Taliban and al Qaeda militants operating there and in Pakistan.
Despite Mr. Obama’s baseless assertion to insult 57% of the American population in the effort to continue his campaign of mass murder, Republican Rep. Chuck Hagel (R-NE)—and well-chronicled Iraq War opponent—wrote in a op-ed at The Washington Post that watching The Deer Hunter (1978) brought memories of Vietnam “tumbling back—the tragedy, the innocent victims, the waste”. Mr. Hagel directly relates the seemingly endless “tragedy” of the Vietnam War—though, the “global architecture” around “today’s wars” are “quite different”—to the Afghan War:
The U.S. response, engaging in two wars, was a 20th-century reaction to 21st-century realities. These wars have cost more than 5,100 American lives; more than 35,000 have been wounded; a trillion dollars has been spent, with billions more departing our Treasury each month. We forgot all the lessons of Vietnam and the preceding history….
Accordingly, we cannot view U.S. involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan through a lens that sees only “winning” or “losing.” Iraq and Afghanistan are not America’s to win or lose. Win what? We can help them buy time or develop, but we cannot control their fates. There are too many cultural, ethnic and religious dynamics at play in these regions for any one nation to control. For example, the future of Afghanistan is linked directly to Pakistan and what happens in the mountains along their border….
Bogging down large armies in historically complex, dangerous areas ends in disaster. In Vietnam, we kept feeding more men, material and money into a corrupt Vietnamese government as our own leaders continued to deceive themselves and the American people….
The president and his national security team should listen to recordings of conversations that President Lyndon B. Johnson had with Sen. Richard Russell about Vietnam, especially those in which LBJ told Russell that we could not win in Vietnam but that he did not want to pull out and be the first American president to lose a war. Difficult decisions with historic consequences are coming soon for President Obama.
Long-time mainstream Beltway “Conservative” columnist at The Washington Post, George Will, wrote an op-ed September 1 titled, “Time to Get Out of Afghanistan“.
“Nation-building would be impossible even if we knew how, and even if Afghanistan were not the second-worst place to try,” Mr. Will wrote. “Afghanistan would need hundreds of thousands of coalition troops, perhaps for a decade or more. That is inconceivable.”
This week, James Dao at The New York Times reported of the troubles antiwar organizations have faced early on in the warmongering Obama Administration writing that “they face a starkly changed political climate from just a year ago, when President George W. Bush provided a lightning rod for protests” as “many liberals continue to support Mr. Obama, or at least are hesitant about openly criticizing him”:
“People do not want to take on the administration,” said Jon Soltz, chairman of VoteVets.org. “Generating the kind of money that would be required to challenge the president’s policies just isn’t going to happen.”
Tom Andrews, national director for an antiwar coalition, Win Without War, said most liberals “want this guy to succeed.” But he said the antiwar movement would try to convince liberals that a prolonged war would undermine Mr. Obama’s domestic agenda. Afghanistan, he said, “could be a devastating albatross around the president’s neck.”
Despite the ‘hesitation to openly criticize’ Mr. Obama, antiwar groups are prepared to bomb the public eye with increased demonstrations this fall:
Anticipating a Pentagon request for more troops [in Afghanistan], antiwar leaders have engaged in a flurry of meetings to discuss a month of demonstrations, lobbying, teach-ins and memorials in October to publicize the casualty count, raise concerns about the cost of the war and pressure Congress to demand an exit strategy….
The October protest schedule is expected to include marches in Washington and elsewhere. But organizers acknowledge that it may be difficult to recruit large numbers of demonstrators. So groups like United for Peace and Justice are also planning smaller events in communities around the country, including teach-ins with veterans and families of deployed troops, lobbying sessions with members of Congress, film screenings and ad hoc memorials featuring the boots of deceased soldiers and Marines….
“In the next year, it will more and more become Obama’s war,” said Perry O’Brien, president of the New York chapter of Iraq Veterans Against the War. “He’ll be held responsible for the bloodshed.”
Constitutional lawyer Glenn Greenwald voiced the sad—yet, always true—Truth of the corporate State at Salon, yesterday:
The “mere” fact that a large majority of Americans oppose a war has little effect–none, actually—on whether the war will continue. Like so much of what happens in Washington, the National Security State and machinery of Endless War doesn’t need citizen support. It continues and strengthens itself without it. That’s because the most powerful factions in Washington—the permanent military and intelligence class, both public and private—would not permit an end to, or even a serious reduction of, America’s militarized character. It’s what they feed on. It’s the source of their wealth and power.