Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Afghan slam bam, thank you mam

"I can't sing and I can't dance, but I can lick any SOB in the house.".
Jack Dempsey - AKA reality
"He is a very smart fighter; when he's fighting he is thinking all the time. But, all the time he was thinking I was hitting him." Jack Dempsey

David Seaton's News Links 
At this point in time the media are full of talk about the agonizingly thorough  decision making process underway in the White House as President Obama analyzes his options in Afghanistan and decides whether or not to send the 40,000 extra troops that General McChrystal has requested.

A lot of people are waiting for his decision:

Those Afghans who have thrown in their lot with the United States are waiting for his decision.

All of the NATO allies who are keeping troops there against the public opinion of their voters are waiting for his decision.

The men and women of the United States armed forces who are already there or may be on their way there soon and their families are waiting for his decision.

This decision should be  easy, because no decision the president takes will magically pull America's chestnuts out of the South Asian fire or provide anything like a happy ending.

Why do such miserable alternatives simplify things?

Because, sometimes the more screwed up things become the simpler they are to deal with.

When no solution is really any good, getting to "less bad" is often not rocket science.

The solution is to send the troops.

The bottom line is that this war is no longer about oil pipelines or democracy or Afghan women's right to wear miniskirts and to learn how to read or supporting "moderates" or about defeating terrorism or catching Osama... it certainly is no longer about winning.

OK, so what is the war in Afghanistan now all about?

The war in Afghanistan is now about salvaging what little is left of America's "bella figura".

"Bella figura" (beautiful face) is Italian for looking good as opposed to "brutta figura" (ugly face) which is Italian for looking like a "schmuck", which is Yiddish for "dumb asshole".

After eight years of Bush the United States has been left with a bruttissma figura. Absurd, ugly, sinister, incompetent... mad, bad and dangerous to know.

Terrible for business.

Restoring America's bella figura was what electing Barack Obama was all about and, as I have already pointed out, that was the reason that the Nobel Committee, at the risk of universal ridicule, awarded him the Nobel Peace Prize.

America's bella figura is what is known as a "public good", it represents a factor of stability in a turbulent world. It is going to diminish, but it should do so in an orderly fashion, not with people trampling each other on the way out the door.

My "inner Lenin" may be tickled to see this stability crumble, but my "inner poor slob just trying to make it to the end of the month" is horrified.

America will have to withdraw from Afghanistan, it is a hopeless cause, but the withdrawal must maintain some scrap of dignity and the troops that are already serving there must not be seen to be hung out to dry, to be exposed to uneccesary danger, because there are not enough of them to hold the ground.

No matter what is done, it is going to be ugly and cruel... it is too late for it to be any other way. Less ugly and less cruel are better than more ugly and more cruel... that is as good as it gets.

This is where intuition, "zen" or the sixth sense of one who is called to lead comes in.

To be perceived to be indecisive is the death knell of a leader.

Leaders are chosen for their ability to decide.

Much criticism was leveled at George W. Bush AKA "the decider", for his taking decisions "from the gut", but the problem wasn't that Bush acted on impulse, the problem was that he had such stupid intestines.

Mr. president, you have done your homework.

All the options stink.

Just hold your nose and do it. DS

1 comment:

bailey said...

No, it is not about winning, they will never want what we want.

Who are 'we' and 'they', indeed.

Sending in more troops, prego, but I'm with Gore Vidal; Afghanistan will present a srong metaphor for America's latest chapter