Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Here we go again

President Obama has decided to expedite the deployment of 30,000 additional American troops to Afghanistan over the next six months, in an effort to reverse the momentum of Taliban gains and create urgency for the government in Kabul to match the American surge with one using its own forces, according to senior administration officials. New York Times
More soldiers committed suicide this year than in any year for which we have complete records. But the military is now able to meet its recruitment goals because the young men and women who are signing up can’t find jobs in civilian life. The United States is broken — school systems are deteriorating, the economy is in shambles, homelessness and poverty rates are expanding — yet we’re nation-building in Afghanistan, sending economically distressed young people over there by the tens of thousands at an annual cost of a million dollars each. Bob Herbert NYT

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I guess finally this is just who we are and what we do: go around killing people and blowing things up. If it wasn't Afghanistan it would be somewhere else.

"Looking on the Bright Side of Life", as the song puts it, at least while pouring sand endlessly down the Afghan rat hole, the US armed forces will be too overstretched to contemplate a war with Iran and since a war with Iran might send the world economy right over the edge into the pit, I suppose it is just as well to keep them puttering uselessly around Afghanistan and out of any real trouble.

And in keeping with my Pollyanna mood, I suppose that although quite a few human beings will get killed and maimed in this thing, Afghans mostly, but Americans too, there wont be nearly as many humans killed and maimed as there would be in a war with Iran.

In short, if the US armed forces really have to be somewhere, killing somebody, better Afghanistan.

They used to say about the Bourbon royal family that they "learned nothing and forgot nothing", but it looks like the USA is going the Bourbons one better by forgetting everything and learning nothing. 

More than decadent the USA is beginning to look and act senile. DS


Publius said...

Crazy, isn't it?
Maybe Aristotle was right about "democracy" being the worst political system. It self-destructed long-ago, but now the building it was housed in is crumbling.

Kurz said...

You have a point.

Still, I see no need for Zapatero sending more troops other than being pelota.

Great video btw... always makes me smile.

David Seaton's Newslinks said...

I think as the principal of Zapatero's withdrawal from Iraq was that the war had no legal standing and not simply because Spain doesn't want to be involved in any other people's messes, it is coherent for Spain to participate in the Afghan operation which is supported by NATO and the UN. Certainly the Spanish participation is in homeopathic doses. The question was never to attack or not to attack Afghanistan after 9-11, but rather to achieve the objectives and leave... this still doesn't look very plausible, but if the whole thing fails, nobody will blame Spain for it.

Kurz said...

I know but it is still a waste of money and time. We could've said no just like the French and the Germans have done...

David Seaton's Newslinks said...

The French and the Germans already have thousands of troops there. The idea that Spain should have "cards in the game" is not that dumb, really. Spain has interests that the USA, Germany and France can help achieve. You have to be in with them for the bitter and the better, not just a la carte. Iraq was totally illegal: a crime. But, Afghanistan isn't illegal, it's just hopeless.

Anonymous said...

It seems a little unfair to call the policy "pouring sand endlessly down the Afghan rat hole"...

...not least to the Afghans...

...but also because Obama is simultaneously taking flack for selling them out because he has set a date for withdrawal in 2011.

He inherited one of the most toxic legacies ever and is under continuing pressure to act hawkish toward Iran.

A final push before a slow withdrawal - which as you say, keeps Iran off the menu while at least giving the Afghan government a chance to get themselves in order - seems the only realistic policy.

David Seaton's Newslinks said...

"A final push before a slow withdrawal" is more a recipe for love than war.

Anonymous said...

"A final push before a slow withdrawal..."

""A final push before a slow withdrawal" is more a recipe for love than war".

But in both cases, unforseen consequences like resistance and corruption on the one hand, or unplanned pregnancies or STD's on the other, can turn the ever-so-planned, slow and satisfying withdrawal into one very painful and endless nightmare.

Reality has a nasty tendency to rise from the depths only to wreck our carefully cultivated fantasies. The princes (as well as the paupers) of the Earth have learned and relearned this lesson all through the long ages, only to forget with alarming frequency (I think of Barbara Tuchman's March of Folly, as a great illustration of this phenomenon).

Knowledge, it seems, abounds while wisdom withers in the dark. Obama is more driven than driver. Aren't we all? And, in 18 months we will see in Afgahnistan what our special kind of loving produces. What rough beast slouches to be born? One that keeps us in Afgahnistan for another 18 months after that, perhaps?

Sigh. I don't want really to know. Unfortunately, reality doesn't want me not to even more.