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Friday, March 27, 2009

The "Winnable" War

I know Mr. Brooks means well, but he is obviously being given a spectacular inside the wire tour of Afghanistan by a spit and polish diplomat or military officer.

First, Mr. Brooks agrees that Afghanistan has always been "warm and welcoming" to the U.S. during their adventure in Afghanistan. I assume he agrees then that supporting a drug trade that is directly linked to terrorist organizations qualifies as warm and welcoming behavior.

Second, he claims that the "screwing up" is done in Afghanistan. Far from it, Mr. Brooks. President Obama is throwing more weary combat troops, who are already a shadow of the force that invaded Afghanistan and Iraq, at the problem thinking that somehow this will help. Yes, it will, but to what extent? India has maintained over 250,000 counterinsurgent troops in Kashmir for decades... What has this done? Also, with a diplomatic corps that hates to deploy to war zones or conflict areas, how are we going to do the building and friendship repairing that must be done? Perhaps we could hire the thousands of Army Captains that left the Army in the past few years to do diplomatic functions - they, afterall, won't be afraid to go outside the wire and meet with the locals. Here is an excerpt from the article describing the sorry state of aid workers in Afghanistan:

Western aid workers seem to spend most of their time drawing up flow charts for each other. They’re so worried about their inspectors general that they can’t really immerse themselves in the messy world of local reality. They insist on making most of the spending decisions themselves so the “recipients” of their largess end up passive, dependent and resentful.
Every element of my skepticism was reinforced during a six-day tour of the country. Yet the people who work here make an overwhelming case that Afghanistan can become a functional, terror-fighting society and that it is worth sending our sons and daughters into danger to achieve this.

Unfortunately, President Obama still has not taken the steps needed to "win" in Afghanistan, which involves calling the entire nation to make sacrifices (e.g. a draft, forcing anyone working in the State Dept. to do "combat" tours regardless of region of specialty, perhaps legalizing drugs and taxing the shit out of them...). He could also threaten to disband NATO, remember that organization? You know, the second-rate international fraternity we pay a ridiculous amount of dues to every year so that we can prop up our free-loading fraternity brothers' seemingly more extravagant frat homes (also known as quasi-socialist nations)? How can President Obama force the entire nation to make sacrifices with the economy in shambles? Perhaps high paying jobs in Afghanistan for the unemployed?
Well, I think he has the political capital to sound the call to service by arguing that the two main reasons the economy is in shambles are underegulation, which is being taken care of, and two ongoing wars. He can use his massive popularity ratings to say, "I promise this type of thing will never happen again, but we need to fix this mess. Once we fix this mess, it will never happen again." Sadly, this sounds like Woodrow Wilson's plea for a League of Nations, to prevent more wars. Sadly, with armchair generals and diplomats still glorifying war, it probably will happen again. Everyone loves to be the armchair general, or the learned diplomat smoking a pipe while sitting in a leather chair by the fire... nobody wants to put their life on the line to... um... wait what exactly is the desired endstate in Afghanistan?

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