I love this country. I’m as patriotic as any. Anyone who has read my articles, knows that.
Regardless, our elected representatives often disappoint, not just because of differences in politics, but because they manipulate the truth, or lie outright. Those lies have not been unique to one party or the other. So, naturally, we become more cynical and distrusting as the years pass by as we are showered with more lies and misleadings.
Unfortunately, power politics trumps truth.
Many of those lies have resulted in some of the greatest tragedies in the history of mankind. Vietnam comes to mind. Over 58,000 Americans killed, multi-thousands more left with permanent injuries, mental and physical, millions of Vietnamese dead, limbless and/or homeless, not to mentioned the expenditure of a half trillion dollars, in 1975 numbers.
History teaches us that the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, upon which Lyndon B. Johnson launched the war, was based on faulty and untruthful information. The fear of spreading communism in the Southeast, as it turns out, was unwarranted. Vietnam is now a completely communist country with whom the United States is actively engaged in trade.
So, what was gained?
We surely decorated a lot of military heroes. But beyond that…?
Now, the war in Afghanistan is surpassing the tenure of Vietnam to become the longest war in U.S. history. That begs two important questions: Is the war necessary? What will define “victory?”
If folks think the Taliban will be sitting across a table signing surrender documents a la Imperial Japan, don’t hold your breath. That’s not going to happen.
Our government tells us that we must de-corrupt the Afghan government and then help to build their military and police systems so they can suppress al Qaeda and other radical forces from doing harm to the western world. Sadly, that’s just as doubtful — for two reasons:
1) The Afghan culture. An examination of the history, culture and the religious dogma that pervades in that rugged far off country suggests otherwise. Nothing has changed over the centuries, no matter the Soviets or the United States.
2) You can not win a war fighting it half way. You can’t win a war when it’s considered better to lose an American soldier than to lose an Afghan civilian. You can’t win a war when American troops must announce in advance when they coming into a village to seek insurgents. You can’t win a war when you don’t give the generals the amount of resources they say is needed. You can’t win a war when soldier behavior is constantly under the microscope. You can’t win a war when we tip our hand to the enemy, letting them know in advance when we are leaving.
After 9/11, no one questioned the legitimacy of the mission, because al Qaeda — the identified enemy — was based and trained there in 2001. As far as we know, those training camps are gone.
Afghanistan is growing ninety percent of the world’s poppy fields, the proceeds from which go toward the global scourge of terrorism. There are ways to crush the black market for heroin without firing a shot, but such ideas fall on deaf ears.
Meanwhile, al Qaeda and other terror networks are actively training and recruiting in other parts of the world, including Yemen, and the U.S., as evidenced at Ft. Hood. Thus, if we crush al Qaeda in Afghanistan, they pop up elsewhere in the world.
Despite multi-billions in expenditures and lost lives, the U.S. is suffering more casualties this year than in the previous eight years. June was the deadliest month for Americans month since 2001. That’s winning?
Meanwhile, our NATO allies are in process of diminishing their commitment there. That doesn’t sound like a winning part of the plan.
Questions remain: Are the gains worth the sacrifices?
One also wonders why a so-called anti-war president has chosen to escalate, not diminish our commitment there. Ergo, perhaps GOP Chairman Michael Steele wasn’t wrong after all, claiming that this war is now Obama’s war.
Are we there to perpetuate the Bush doctrine by snuffing out al Qaeda and establish a friendly government, ergo, nation building? Hmm. I think we heard some negative rhetoric about that during the 2008 campaign.
Is it to demonstrate strength to the American people by following the advice of military leaders? That’s arguable.
There’s another angle. Pardon my cynicism, but has anyone looked at the history of unemployment indexes during — and following — wars?
Eisenhower said: “Beware of the military industrial complex.” War creates jobs by maintaining troops in the combat theater and building war machinery. That’s good for the party in power. When wars end, jobs end. Unemployment rates soar. The year the Viet Nam war ended, (1975) unemployment rose from 5.6 percent to 8.5 Percent. During WWII, unemployment dropped from 14 percent to 1.9 percent, rising to 5.9 following the war, then dropping again when we entered Korea.
The Obama administration is certainly aware that the current unemployment figures loom as the Democrat Party’s Achilles heel in the upcoming election, and certainly in 2012 if trends continue. Pulling out from Iraq and from Afghanistan would put a halt to the war machine. The abysmal unemployment rate currently at 9.7 percent would rise to even newer heights, spelling a political downfalls for the administration. Rest assured, this has been discussed at length behind closed doors to the Oval Office.
No matter how altruistic we wish to see the picture, it’s all about power politics.
So what’s the answer?
It’s time to get out. Based on the current state of leadership, we shouldn’t lose one more American life in Afghanistan, because the outcome portends bleakness.
General McChrystal was insubordinate, to be sure, but he took a risk to send a message to Washington and the American people, that the professionals within the theater of operations have little or no respect and/or confidence in the civilian leadership.
Our troops are heros, because they’ve risen to the call for duty. Too many, however, are asking the questions: Is this war feasible? Is it really necessary?
After nine years of restrained fighting, and over a thousand Americans dead, I think we know the answer.
Talk show host and columnist Peter Beck wrote a brilliant piece about Mcchrystal’s motives, that he basically fell on his sword for his country:
I don’t always agree with Former NYC Mayor, Ed Koch, but sometimes he’s right on target, particularly in regards to terror, Israel and international affairs.