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Hello. Come on in. The daddy writes about current events, literature, music and, once in a while, drops something on you from back in the day to make you pause and ponder, stop and stare, and begin to wonder. Who knows? You may start to pace the floor, shake your head from side to side, then fall down on bended knees in a praying position and cry, "Lawd, have mercy! What is this world coming to?" Check yourself! But this blog is NOT about the daddy. It's about you: your boos, your fam, your hood, your country...our hopes and dreams of a better tomorrow. So let's make a pact: the daddy will put it on the track if you'll chase it down and hit him back. Together, we can definitely take it to another level. Shall we?"

Saturday, September 12, 2009

WE'RE HEADED FOR ANOTHER VIETNAM IN AFGHANISTAN

Listen up. Talk to three different people, and they'll give you three different reasons as to why we're in Afghanistan: to deny a haven to Al Queda; or to build a political structure so the people will no longer need to support themselves by opium and have its own democratic and government institutions; or to defend the human rights and honor of women.

First, Al Queda is already free to move around in many countries, especially between Pakistan and Afghanistan. It can readily use different roads to slip in and out of Afghanistan at will.

Second, the people of Afghanistan already have their own unique political structure via its tribal system and see no need for another.

Third, if concern for women is our chief reason for being there, why are we not in Darfur where our own governmental officials and emissaries (including General Colin Powell), have already admitted the government is practicing genocide and is using the daily rape of women as a weapon?

The real deal

What we Americans don't want to concede is that our war in Afghanistan is turning into another Vietnam at the same time that the situation in Pakistan is becoming more critical. We're steadily increasing the number of American troops and becoming bogged down in a land far away from home. Increasingly, we're occupying a land of a people whom we don't know and who don't want us there. Like Vietnam, not only do we not know its people; we don't know their language or even how to pronounce their names. Like Vietnam, we not only don't know the terrain; the terrain itself (in this case, the mountainous terrain) is so difficult to negotiate that our enemy can utilize it to hold off our troops indefinitely.

Some real journalism

Ready to cut through the CNN/MSNBC nonsense and get to some real journalism?

Robert Sheer, a superb, independent journalist, wrote an excellent story about our war there for a progressive online magazine called Truthdig. Now, The Daddy knows this is not the most exciting subject to read on a weekend, but given the fact that Americans are dying there in increasingly higher numbers, don't you think the read is worth it?

Here's the article:

Obama's Quagmire Looks a Lot like Vietnam

By Robert Scheer, Truthdig. Posted September 11, 2009.


The way he's headed on Afghanistan, Barack Obama is threatened with a quagmire that could bog down his presidency.

True, he doesn't seem a bit like Lyndon Johnson, but the way he's headed on Afghanistan, Barack Obama is threatened with a quagmire that could bog down his presidency. LBJ also had a progressive agenda in mind, beginning with his war on poverty, but it was soon overwhelmed by the cost and divisiveness engendered by a meaningless, and seemingly endless, war in Vietnam.

Meaningless is the right term for the Afghanistan war, too, because our bloody attempt to conquer this foreign land has nothing to do with its stated purpose of enhancing our national security. Just as the government of Vietnam was never a puppet of communist China or the Soviet Union, the Taliban is not a surrogate for al Qaeda. Involved in both instances was an American intrusion into a civil war whose passions and parameters we never fully have grasped and will always fail to control militarily.

The Vietnamese communists were not an extension of an inevitably hostile, unified international communist enemy, as evidenced by the fact that communist Vietnam and communist China are both our close trading partners today. Nor should the Taliban be considered simply an extension of a Mideast-based al Qaeda movement, whose operatives the United States recruited in the first place to go to Afghanistan to fight the Soviets.

Those recruits included Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the 9-11 attack, and financier Osama bin Laden, who met in Afghanistan as part of a force that Ronald Reagan glorified as "freedom fighters." As blowback from that bizarre, mismanaged CIA intervention, the Taliban came to power and formed a temporary alliance with the better-financed foreign Arab fighters still on the scene.

There is no serious evidence that the Taliban instigated the 9-11 attacks or even knew about them in advance. Taliban members were not agents of al Qaeda; on the contrary, the only three governments that financed and diplomatically recognized the Taliban - Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Pakistan - all were targets of bin Laden's group.

To insist that the Taliban be vanquished militarily as a prerequisite for thwarting al Qaeda is a denial of the international fluidity of that terrorist movement. Al Qaeda, according to U.S. intelligence sources, has operated effectively in countries as disparate as Somalia, Indonesia, England and Pakistan, to name just a few. What is required to stymie such a movement is effective police and intelligence work, as opposed to deploying vast conventional military forces in the hope of finding, or creating, a conventional war to win. This last wan hope is what the effort in Afghanistan - in the last two months at its most costly point in terms of American deaths - is all about: marshaling enormous firepower to fight shadows.

The Taliban is a traditional guerrilla force that can easily elude conventional armies. Once again the generals on the ground are insisting that a desperate situation can be turned around if only more troops are committed, as Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal did in a report leaked this week. Even with U.S. forces being increased to 68,000 as part of an 110,000-strong allied army, the general states, "The situation in Afghanistan is serious." In the same sentence, however, he goes on to say that "success is achievable."

Fortunately, Defense Secretary Robert Gates is given to some somber doubts on this point, arguing that the size of the U.S. force breeds its own discontents: "I have expressed some concerns in the past about the size of the American footprint, the size of the foreign military footprint in Afghanistan," he said. "And, clearly, I want to address those issues. And we will have to look at the availability of forces, we'll have to look at costs."

I write the word fortunately because just such wisdom on the part of Robert McNamara, another defense secretary, during the buildup to Vietnam would have led him to oppose rather than abet what he ruefully admitted decades after the fact was a disastrous waste of life and treasure: 59,000 Americans dead, along with 3.4 million Indochinese, mostly innocent civilians.

I was reporting from Vietnam when that buildup began, and then as now there was an optimism not supported by the facts on the ground. Then as now there were references to elections and supporting local politicians to win the hearts and minds of people we were bombing. Then as now the local leaders on our side turned out to be hopelessly corrupt, a condition easily exploited by those we term the enemy.

Those who favor an escalation of the Afghanistan war ought to own up to its likely costs. If 110,000 troops have failed, will we need the half million committed at one point to Vietnam, which had a far less intractable terrain? And can you have that increase in forces without reinstituting the draft?

It is time for Democrats to remember that it was their party that brought America its most disastrous overseas adventure and to act forthrightly to pull their chosen president back from the abyss before it is too late.

This article originally appeared on TruthDig.

10 comments:

Vigilante said...

Daddy, I have read your column and Scheer's through twice. And I find nothing with which to quarrel. I cringed during the campaign when Obama made commitments to surge in Afghanistan. Now that the rubber is hitting the road, it is obviously more of a splurge; and one we can ill afford with the economy poised on the edge of the toilet. Where were Mr. O's foreign policy advisors when he really, really needed them?

MacDaddy said...

Corve: Welcome and thanks for becoming a follower of daddyBstrong. I'm looking to you sharing your comments. I'm going to check out your blog shortly.

MacDaddy said...

Vigilante: I think President Obama is listening too much to Gates and the military people on the ground. Of course, they're going to say they need more troops and equipment. But I think Sen. Levin has a better idea: 1: Keep the same level of troops you have; 2: Train Afghanistan troops to fight their own war; and 3: Place a timetable for our being there; and 4: Work with other allies to contain the Taliban there. What do you think?

Vigilante said...

What do I think, Daddy? I think it's time for triage and circling the wagons around pitiful Pakistan. That's in a word. I have more words here...

Christopher said...

President Obama is obsessed with the Afghanistan war.

For a smart, learned man like Mr. Obama, I simply don't understand who he's listening to on the subject because all the intel reporting says the center of al Qaeda activity isn't in Afghanistan -- it's in the northwest corner of Pakistan.

If the administration wants to act militarily against al Qaeda then it can be accomplished with the use of unmanned aerial drones launched from U.S. bases in either Iraq or Uzbekistan.

At least Democrats in the House and the Senate are holding firm and swatting Obama's hand on the subject and thus far, refuse to give him the money to expand our troop presence in Afghanistan.

I'd certainly hate to think Mr. Obama is listening to Poppy Bush and his son, former president George W. Bush, both of whom subscribe to the notion that all significant presidencies must include a war to matter to history.

nicki nicki tembo said...

All that I have to add is this centuries old adage that speaks of Afghanistan: "It is the graveyard of empires". For a current example we see that the mighty USSR crumbled to pieces and what remains today is a shell of it's former self.

SagaciousHillbilly said...

Years ago it was predicted that the USA would get involved in a long drawn out war over oil and Islamic fundamantalism. It was predicted that it would not end successfully and thousands of Americans would die.
That was in the mid 70s. I remembering hearing it in commentaries and reading it in "news" magazines.
If we can predict such fucked up messes, why can't we just avoid them?

MacDaddy said...

Sagacious: You speak truth. I don't understand why the U.S. didn't learn from the lesson of the USSR, as Nicki alluded to: which is that you win neither a military or political war. Militarily, the terrain is too bad and, politically, the people hate us and don't want us there. There is no such thing as "winning the hearts and minds" of a people who view us as evil. I don't get it.

Christopher: After he became president, I believe Obama bent over backward to try to prove to warmongering Republicans in the senate like McCain and McConnell that he will not be a soft president in foreign policy. I still think he's trying to do this. I hope I'm wrong.

Kit (Keep It Trill) said...

Hey Mac,

I'm back! How you be? Email me if you want.

About this post: I don't think it'll stop at Afghanistan unless/until we run out of money to fund these wars.

~ Kit

MacDaddy said...

Kit: I be fine. Miss you; and I'm looking forward to communicating with you again.