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Not tho' the soldiers knew
Some one had blunder'd:
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die,
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred
Update: Into the Hindu Kush rode the 140,000 U.S. and NATO troops.
It is essential that we resist the administration's attempts to infantilize and seduce us by the comfort of soothing illusion.
President Obama's brief address on Dec. 16 about achieving "core goals" in Afghanistan was riddled with a Swiss-cheese patchwork of holes -- a case study in non-sequiturs and empty phrases suitable for a Rhetoric 101 class on specious logic.
If the White House PR people still think that the sonorous alliterations out of a Dr. Seuss stylebook --"disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al-Qaeda"-- will suffice to ensure the support of the American people, they have another think coming.
But the President's form-over-substance speechwriters keep at it nonetheless, adding some "r" alliterations to the earlier "d" sounds. In his speech, Obama said al-Qaeda "remains a ruthless and resilient enemy bent on attacking our country. But make no mistake " we are going to remain relentless in disrupting and dismantling that terrorist organization."
Does this mean that with the 140,000 NATO troops now in Afghanistan, we've been able to kill or capture some of the 50 to 100 al-Qaeda operatives who CIA Director Leon Panetta has said may still be in Afghanistan and maybe some of the few hundred hiding on the other side of the border with Pakistan?
The Taliban Tangent
Alas, we are left to figure out that answer for ourselves, as Obama went off on a familiar tangent, equating al-Qaeda with the Taliban.
(BULLETIN: For those who only think inside the Fox box, please know that the two are not the same.)
This bloody adventure in Afghanistan is made all the easier to continue by the reality that is not "we" who are condemned "but to do and die," but mostly disadvantaged folks from our small towns and inner cities whom we privileged Americans are happy to let do the dying for the rest of us.
Is it that Americans no longer care about this sort of thing? Are we so dumbed down as not to be able to see that there is no justifiable logic behind the killing, maiming and destruction, even assuming the professed goals in Afghanistan are the real ones -- a dubious assumption indeed.
Facades of Empire
Washington's present course in Central Asia can be much more logically understood if the real goals of the violence are to achieve what an empire requires in terms of military bases, natural resources, strategic interests and further enrichment of the super-wealthy.
This is to explain, not to defend. And, in case you're wondering, my view is that these goals are both morally indefensible and unachievable in the longer run.
Combine them, however, with back-home political interests " Democrats fearful of being called out by Republicans and the Right as weak on defense and soft on terror " and you have a better sense of why the Afghan War drags on.
Americans have been generally inclined to give the government and its official explanation for war the benefit of the doubt -- but only for so long. Many are now coming around to the realization they've been had.