Actually we are at war with two countries, possibly three, depending on your viewpoint. We are at war with Afghanistan, and we are at war with Iraq, a nation that never threatened us. Recognizing that the Afghan Taliban has moved its leadership into northwest Pakistan along with the Al-Qa'ida leadership, recognizing that we have covert troops in Pakistan, and recognizing that we are attacking portions of Pakistan, it can be argued that we are at war with Pakistan for the simple reason that we are attacking Pakistan .Considering the impotence of the MSN, there are some who tend to think the fact that we are at war is rather important ,being rather tedious thinkers always mindful of "small" details.
Yet, the MSN rarely mentions our two undeclared wars, and, if they do, it's a ten to 20 second segment followed quickly by a dynamic new drug for ulcers or a skin medication to prevent sunburn. Our newspapers are no better. If they even mention events in Iraq and Afghanistan/Pakistan, generally it is relegated to a sidebar, a short report that creates more questions than it answers. To MSN executives our wars are boring. Afghanistan has been going on for 8 1/2 years, Iraq - over seven years. To them it is no longer news. As a consequence, to the American viewer the wars are all but over. They are not. Tom Engelhardt writes, "As a people -- with the exception of relatively small numbers of Americans directly connected to the hundreds of thousands of American troops abroad -- we couldn't be more detached from 'our' wars. Repetition, schmepetition. The real news is that Conan O'Brien 'got very depressed at times' after ceding 'The Tonight Show' to Jay Leno (again) and that the interview drove CBS's '60 Minutes' to a ratings success."
This is inexcusable. I recall the words of my President a few years back, words that made my skin crawl. This confrontation is willed by God, who wants to use this conflict to erase his people's enemies before a New Age begins. -- U.S. President George W. Bush (in a 2003 conversation with French President Jacques Chirac). What was he thinking???
From history I then recalled the words of another President so long ago. Preventive war was an invention of [Adolf] Hitler. Frankly, I would not even listen to anyone seriously that came and talked about such a thing. -- Dwight D. Eisenhower
Our current President has breathless optimism that the wars will "soon" be over. "Soon" is a relative term. Obama's current optimistic vision is that the two wars will end for the U.S. by the end of 2011.
I recently read the words of Camillo "Mac" Bica, a Marine Corps officer [ret.] and a Vietnam veteran. "Mac" knows war. Reverently, he states, "... war cannot be understood, rationally or intellectually, by watching a film or by reading a book. To 'know' war, you have to experience it, live it, feel it in your gut - the anxiety, fear, frustration, boredom, hopelessness, despair, anger, rage, etc. In truth, warriors exist in a world totally incomprehensible to those who have never had the misfortune of experiencing the horrors of the battlefield."
In other words, war is serious business, and glory with bugles blaring accompanied by thundering drums is elusive, if not illusory. So, how bad is it? What is the MSN failing to address because it is boring? First, these wars will continue for a very long time with or without U.S. forces, wars we caused. Second, victory is an illusion, and it is not even in the lexicon of our current leaders. Imagine that, for the second time in our brief history as a dominant nation, Vietnam being the first, our leaders are talking about an optimal time to withdraw to avoid embarrassment, not victory, which is pretty much impossible in the guerilla environments in Iraq and Afghanistan. Third, we have no chance of winning "hearts and minds," which has always been the most ludicrous military doctrine ever devised. Imagine this, Iraqis and Afghanis embracing American occupiers. Imagine this, a foreign occupier of U.S. soil being embraced by Americans. There really is no difference and there never will be.
So, how bad is it? Afghanistan, our longest war, will be addressed first. The Stars and Stripes recorded under the headline, "Report: Still not enough troops for Afghanistan operations." It stated,"The Pentagon had just released its latest predictable assessment of the Afghan War, which included the information that, of the 121 districts in the country that the U.S. military identifies as critical to the war effort, NATO only has enough forces to operate in 48." This, despite the fact that U.S. troop strength in Afghanistan has risen by 56,000 since President Obama took office. This comes as no shock. Months ago I wrote that "Obama's surge" was a mere pittance compared to other invaders of Afghanistan from Alexander, the Great, to the British Empire (twice) to the Soviet Union in the 1980's. Engelhardt concludes, "The news is grim: The Taliban remains on the rise, controlling ever larger swaths of the countryside, and the government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai is increasingly unpopular. What you can already feel here is the rise of something else hideously predictable -- the 'need' for, and lobbying for, more American troops -- even though the latest polling data indicate that Afghan anger and opposition may be rising in areas U.S. troops are moving into."
With all this happening, Engelhardt continues, "In case you hadn't noticed, our Afghan War, like some oil-slicked bird in the Gulf of Mexico, has been dragged under the waves. It's largely off front pages and out of the TV spotlight. As a result, most Americans undoubtedly have little idea just how large the American war effort there has grown. The president's massive surge-- not just of troops, but of State Department civilians,CIA agents, drones, contractors, base building, and who knows what else -- is actually going (if you'll excuse the phrase) great guns."
The war in Afghanistan will get worse before it gets better, President Barack Obama warned recently, but he declared his plan to begin withdrawing U.S. forces next year remains on track. "What I've tried to emphasize is the fact that there is going to be some hard fighting over the next several months."
Gareth Porter of Inter Press Service reports, "The Pentagon was still trying to spin its report on the war in Afghanistan issued this week as holding out hope because the instability had leveled off, even as some news outlets were noting that it documents the continued expansion of Taliban capabilities and operations.The most significant revelation in the report, however, is that Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal and the U.S.-NATO International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) joint command now acknowledge officially that the Taliban insurgents dominate a vast contiguous zone of heavily populated territory across southern Afghanistan that McChrystal regards as the most critical area in the country. The report admits that the population in key districts across most southern provinces is sympathetic to or supportive of the insurgents.The contiguous zone of Taliban political power stretches all the way across the 13 provinces from Farah province in the far west of the country through Helmand and Kandahar to Wardak, Logar, Paktia and Khost provinces west and south of Kabul."
According to a campaign plan document, to which McChrystal concurs, "Key groups have become nostalgic for the security and justice Taliban rule provided." Despite this, McChrystal wishes to establish a "contiguous security zone" which would include the bulk of the population of Helmand and Kandahar provinces.Porter concludes, "Given recent evidence that foreign troops have been unable to clear insurgents from Marja, and that local leaders and elders in Kandahar are opposing U.S. military operations in and around the city, that objective now appears to be well beyond the reach of U.S. and NATO troops [emphasis is mine]." An A.P. report concluded that only a quarter of the key regions in Afghanistan support or sympathize with the government in Kabul. Meanwhile, the Pentagon is beginning to have doubts about McChrystal's war plan. Congress is actually considering not giving Obama his $33B for the continuation of the two wars, although that is a remote possibility.
It only gets worse. According to the White House, the Pakistani Taliban is now capable of launching attacks on American soil, albeit ineffectively ... so far. Saying they obtained new evidence, senior White House officials said recently that the Pakistani Taliban were behind the failed Times Square bombing. U.S. officials went even further, connecting the Christmas Day airline bomber to the Pakistani Taliban as well. In a frightening sort of way, Hakimullah Mehsud, a Pakistan Taliban leader, warned of more lethal visitors, "Our fighters are already in the United States," the Wall Street Journal, May 6th. Whether that is true or not is another matter.
As the MSN continues its outstanding coverage of "Dancing With the Stars," blissfully ignoring all of this, we leave Afghanistan and turn our attention to Iraq.
The devastating Iraq war was a war that never should been fought. The causes of this war, presence of WMDs, a relationship with Al-Qa'ida, and a party to 9/11, were pure fabrications. The real reason for this war was to create hegemony of Middle Eastern oil, put a different way, pure and unmitigated aggression. The cost is staggering in terms of human life, treasure, and infrastructure (both Iraqi and American). Many are ruthless in their condemnation of Bush, an anger that has not waned since March 19, 2003, the launch date of our invasion.
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