I feel so foolish because I should have seen through this shill long before now because the goals given are ludicrous and the obstacles confronting them are insurmountable. Consequently, one was left to conclude that the White House and the Joint Chiefs of Staff were simply wrong in wasting American lives and treasure, not to mention the lives and treasure of other NATO countries, and uncountable innocent civilians in Afghanistan.
Crown my head with a dunce cap as we survey the
public goals of this war and the total inability of the U.S. to achieve them,
upon which I and others have concentrated their energies to my ever lasting
embarrassment. The presenter of these faux goals is no less than the President
of the United States, Barack Obama.
After a December review of Af/Pak war policies, on Dec. 16 Obama outlined for us common folk the three reasons why we are still fighting this war that began over nine years ago. Each will be examined.
"To break the Taliban's momentum and train Afghan forces so they can take the lead." After nine years of war, taking into consideration their Pakistan counterparts, the Taliban's momentum is far from broken and serious questions can be asked if it ever will be. Moreover, they are stronger now than ever before. Afghan security forces are a joke, always have been, and no general in his right mind is even considering this as a possibility. Why should Afghans fight for the invader against his own people?
"To promote effective governance and development." Mr. President, do you mean effective governance under the corrupt Karzai, his corrupt family, and his corrupt cohorts in government? Surely, you cannot be serious. Development in one of the poorest nations on Earth will be enormously expensive, assuming it can be done in the first place, and for what exactly? Should there not be serious discussion of development at home, considering we are currently in a nascent recovery from the greatest economic disaster since the Great Depression. With over 9% unemployment, over 12% unemployment or worse in some states is it not more important to encourage development here at home?
"[Create] regional cooperation, especially with Pakistan, because our strategy has to succeed on both sides of the border [emphasis is mine]." If anything that goal is even more unrealistic than the first two, and that is saying something. We currently are launching missiles via drones at targets in parts of western Pakistan. That is not exactly going to endear the hearts of Pakistanis to our strategy in Central Asia. More than likely it accomplishes the very opposite. Pakistani Army chief Gen. Ashfaqq Kayani has more say on military matters than any civilian authority in Islamabad. Pakistan's powerful intelligence service, the ISI, created the Taliban in the "90's as a buffer against the Afghan mujahedeen regime in Kabul that had ties to India, Pakistan's avowed enemy on her eastern border. Today, Pakistan has enormous concerns about the encroachment of India in Afghanistan. Kayani could not have made it any clearer when he stated, "The Pakistani establishment will dramatically increase support for Taliban groups in Pakistan and Afghanistan " as an important counterweight." Yet, Pakistan continues to receive American money and some sophisticated American weaponry. Ray McGovern put it this way. "Understandably, Pakistan's leaders are pleased to take their sizable share of U.S. taxpayer money, but among the painful lessons learned in Washington is that this does not translate into influence -- and especially not in regard to Pakistani strategic priorities and objectives."
Knowing all this, when Obama finished his little speech I sat dumbfounded and severely disappointed. Following a December review of our Af/Pak strategies, I expected more cognizant reasons why we should continue to fight this war after nine years of abject futility, not unrealistic ones. I then asked myself some questions. Have the President, Secretary of Defense, Admiral Mullen and the JCS, and the CIA and other intelligence agencies lost their collective minds? That seems a bit preposterous. So, then I asked myself, does our President live in his own little world? Is he so cloistered from reality that he must invent his own reality? Is he just plain stupid?
A positive answer to any of these questions is about as unrealistic as Obama's speech, so, I dug deeper for answers. I researched experts on the region. There was something missing. There have to be deeper reasons why we continue to be involved in this extended and costly conflict. The reasons were discovered, and one can only conclude that our political, military, and intelligence leaders have not lost their collective minds, which is of some relief. The alternative is not one I wish to contemplate. Nor is Obama living in a dream world, sheltered from reality. Nor is he stupid. He knows exactly what is happening in the region, and the reasons for this war.
Therein, however, lies his problem. If he stated the real reasons for our continued involvement in this extended war they would be quite similar to the Project for the New American Century, the PNAC charter and the goals of the neoconservatives who ran this country during the previous Bush administration. So, they must go unstated for political reasons.
Let us begin at the beginning. Ray McGovern, a retired veteran of the CIA with over 30 years as a CIA analyst, provides us with this insight, "[A] recent analysis by the U.S. intelligence community combine to make it clear that the stated objectives of the U.S. either are unachievable or are facades for other unstated goals." Now if McGovern read that, it certainly makes sense that the President did " or should have.
The Washington Post's Walter Pincus reported on Dec. 21 that Bagram airfield in Afghanistan continues to grow. In mid-December, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers put out a "pre-solicitation notice" for a contractor to build the eighth of nine planned increments for troop housing at Bagram "to replace expeditionary housing facilities." In 2008, the Army explained the need for supplemental funding for an ammunition storage facility at Bagram, where 12 "igloos" were planned to support Army and Air Force needs. The Army wrote, "As a forward operating site, Bagram must be able to provide for a long-term, steady state presence which is able to surge to meet theater contingency requirements." A year earlier, CENTCOM commander Adm. William Fallon, in testimony to Congress, described Bagram as "the centerpiece for the CENTCOM Master Plan for future access to and operations in Central Asia." Clearly, U.S. strategic interests in Central Asia appear to be an enduring U.S. presence in Afghanistan long after 2014.
Equally clearly, that is not what the American people want to hear, but why? The answer is rather simple, really. The American people want no part of global hegemony. It is a foolish policy that angers other members of the international community, even our traditional allies. Besides, we cannot afford the policy in terms of lives and treasure. A far more lucrative policy would be to work with other nations not try to dominate them.
What has happened since Sept. 11, 2001, other than fulfilling Osama Bin Laden's dream of bringing down America through wars without end? A keen observer of world events on Sept. 10, 2001, could not have envisioned the chaotic and cataclysmic decade that would follow. Making matters worse, there is no end in sight. We were closer to victory in Afghanistan in Nov. and Dec. 2001, then we are now. Unfortunately, our political and military leaders snatched defeat from the jaws of victory at the Battle of Tora Bora. Today our political and military leaders have provided Americans with a tentative end to the fighting in Afghanistan " in 2014.
Don't bet on it.