Saturday, February 27, 2010

Revisiting Afghanistan: Cooler Heads

Shake it off and stand up.

Dislodge the "talking points" -- permanently.

Hey, Progressives!  Have you found yourself bitching about Obama's Afghanistan policy?  The troop surge?  The casualties?

A Little History

The autocracy, feebly understanding that some response would be necessary after the 911 attack, was probably fairly easily convinced that the country should attack Afghanistan and dislodge the Taliban. Public-opinion-wise, there weren't many other alternatives. The war had to be initiated and then flamboyantly inflamed every moment following 911 to distract the citizens from ever considering the other, dark possibilities of precisely what had "happened" in New York.

The W was stranded without any other target. The autocracy "had no idea" where Bin Laden and the Al Quaeda might be hiding. Although "Daddy Bush" was reportedly watching flaming Americans jumping as the Trade Towers burned in the company of, wait for it, wait for it, one of his close "oil friends" from the Bin Laden family, he neglected to ask him where Osama might be found.

Invading Afghanistan would present a far simpler, less risky and more easily promoted foreign policy than actually chasing after Osama. The semi-literate W had already previously told his "biographer" (ghost writer) that he dreamed of being a "war time" President. For a spoiled, draft dodging aristocrat from Connecticut, even such a meagre, sick, psychotic infatuation passed as something of an ambition.

Of course, now we know that even then the autocrat had already set his eye on the Iraqi Hydrocarbon Treaty. His Congressional cronies -- along with the Vice President -- were licking their chops.

To the Present

Aside from thoroughly looting the economy so his inevitable successor in the White House would be able to do nothing beyond desperate recovery work, the Afghan adventure offered the autocrat yet another, equally tempting opportunity to sabotage the future of the country -- not to mention a painless opening to confiscate Iraqi oil.

Once American troops were bogged down in Afghanistan and Iraq, a well ordered withdrawal became an impossibility. Someone among the autocrat's "inner circle" -- probably Rove -- accurately surmised that more rational Americans, after actually electing the next President, would be anxious to withdraw from both adventures as quickly as possible. Here, in hindsight, we can look a little more closely at the autocracy's grand strategy.

Because impatient supporters of the new administration would insist on a timely withdrawal, criminal elements in the autocracy smelled meat. The inevitable delays would spur turmoil among the new President's supporters. Sitting comfortably in their living rooms while being fed more and more divisive pablum from the media frauds, they would begin to chant "hypocrisy" even though they had just elected a remarkably thoughtful and authentic leader.

What the fraudulent media assiduously avoided mentioning was that this withdrawal being demanded by this most recent flock of "hypocrisy hunters" would demand its own price. The wet dream?

If that the public pressure would build to a point where the new President would recklessly withdraw, the corporate fascist crowd would be back in the "big house" on Pennsylvania Avenue in no time. In Iraq the Baathists would perfect their earlier slaughter of tens of thousands as they ethnically purified. In Afghanistan the medievalists would be decapitating women for owning lipstick.

In the US, all the civilian "activists" who would -- under better circumstances -- be patting themselves on the back for "having ended the wars," would, at a more chilling moment of reflection, also have to pat themselves on the back for engineering a massive genocidal pogrom of hundreds of thousands or millions of our recent Middle East allies.

Hardly a better mousetrap, but, given the unwavering success at manipulating the hill billies, bigots and neo-con criminals raucously emboldened by the continuing inertia of the autocrat's relentless "divide the country at any cost" campaign, even this adolescent tactic largely yielded the results the miscreants sought. The new guy was essentially stranded without all the tasty, delicious alternatives which inhabited the unrealistic minds of the idealists among us. We remained childishly remote, obsessed with very judiciously making choices we did not have.

In went the surge.

We had seen a surge before, one orchestrated by a sobbing dry drunk who had never seen the blood of combat nor felt the rage of war. In fact, we might generously surmise, we had seen our nation attacking enemies we had not yet made, killing civilians -- more than a million of them. Further, this grisly and dishonorable scene lubricated an inebriating cynicism among us -- one with inertia so disquieting that, even aside from the monosyllabic "cut and run" or "stay the course," it tattooed us with distrust, searing our souls.

Something New -- Pay Attention

Unlike the gnawing, unmanaged meat grinder of Iraq, relentlessly celebrated and stridently conducted by a man who had never yet so much as seen a coffin, we suddenly had a President who, although a genteel stranger to the horrors of war, went to Dover. Instead of chanting a confounding cacophony of justifications for the nightmare, he considered it and adopted what he concluded to be the best course of action to possibly transform himself -- in any possible avenue available to him -- into less of a stranger to the horrors of war.

He saw it as part of his job.

Aside from his formidable idealism, Obama is a pragmatist. He accurately assessed what he would think of himself should he withdraw from Afghanistan, precipitating a mass ethnic cleansing at the hands of the religionist Taliban. Then he acted in conscience -- something new after the autocracy's relentless plummet into one "little boy game" after another.

He had already been forced to guide his administration through all sorts of heavily soiled, distasteful residue left by the autocracy. The government, no matter how little Obama was interested in such a course, bought auto companies reeling under the same horrible management has had been indulged in most of the rest of the economy. No friend of Wall Street bankers, he sent them out tax money, not because he wanted to do so, but because the alternatives, just as was the case in Afghanistan surge, were even less acceptable.

Those of us who were allegedly supporting his efforts at change, immediately pounced on an opportunity to be grieving, desolated victims of not having everything the way we wanted. We cried out "Broken Promises." "Hypocrisy." "Lies." We entered into the same single issue paralysis and illiterate tantrums that the hill billies and bigots enjoyed so much. We continued to insist on making choices which we did not have then criticizing Obama for being realistic.

He faced the facts. Neither he nor we would sleep well if our nation's role in the W's adventures came to nothing more than a massive crime against humanity. The world is as imperfect as are we. Debates of good and evil are a valid use of our time. However, after that, we must make the best, although imperfect, solution to facts as best we can know them.

The Last Cob Web -- Just Walk Away

Our cultural psychology has been hammered. We have grown accustomed to a "talking point" reality where the United States never wins. We have come to assume that any new strategy, no matter the nature of it, will -- at best -- become indeterminate. We have been conceptually cushioned by endlessly repeated absolutes that "there is no victory for us", always introduced accompanied with some reason. The situation is too complicated. The Congress is losing resolve. The enemy is too ruthless. Whatever.

Perhaps we have been blinded by all this codependent negativity. Yes, we are a superpower, but not a unified one. The country has been ripped into two parts for the very cheapest of all possible political motives. Americans from both sides have now been effectively groomed into a state where success has become suspicious. We have been made so cynical that any anticipation that the President is actually acting in conscience is considered fool hardy and distasteful.

However, what we see now, finally, is a new strategy in Afghanistan which might actually work! It's worth the time to examine such a proposition a little more closely.

The reckless orders for yet another mad charge, whimpered in the voice of a detached Prince Pretender, yielded predictable results. No amount of bombing seemed to be enough. The problem morphed itself into quite a different, non-tactical light.

Although undeniably ruthless and savage, as is usually the case when religionists are fired with any sort of transformative ambition -- social, political, military or otherwise -- the jihadists had been waging a highly effective war of social inertia. They had worked the villages and farms, the mosques and the madrases. We had flown over them.

However, as observed in the light of this new day, we have discharged that old, blind, frightened Prince who tried so desperately to rectify the insults of his childhood with the blood of our armies all the while imaging that it would cleanse the demons from within him. We have replaced him with a community organizer.

It is clear now that Obama will confront this seemingly intractable enemy of ours on his own playing field. The new strategy, although unavoidably still military, has set its goal as one of increasing our influence in the communities the Taliban has always owned exclusively in the past. Without a challenge at the community level, not amount of military muscle could have dislodged them.

So, why not stand with the President for a while? Although his military experience may be rather theoretical, his community organizing experience is manifold and robust. After all, we chose him over a competing candidate with little more than a shoddy, bombastic pretension of being a Republican "war expert." Further, although the military arsenal provided to our troops is essentially without limit, success in Afghanistan depends even more on Obama's support here. From us.

Dare to be different. Take a vacation from the old "in the box thinking." We now have a plan which might actually work if we can think straight, dislodging all the old, unexamined criticisms and fears, and support our nation's efforts there.

Meanmesa's compliments to the President.

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