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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 6/26/10

Memo To Barack Obama

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Stephen Pizzo
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Barack, Barack, Barack. Don't just change generals,change course.

After changing generals you made a point of "reassuring" everyone that the policy remained the same. Why? All you are doing now is wasting lives, American lives and Afghan lives. And you are wasting wasting money -- trillions of dollars -- money we don't have, money we have to borrow, money desperately needed by your own citizens, your own institutions, schools, hospitals, roads, bridges, jobs.

Damn it man -- END IT. And, like taking a bandage off an old wound, the least painful way to end it is the quickest way.

There will never -- not in our lifetime, or yours, or your children's or their children's -- be anything like a non-sectarian democratic-like government in Afghanistan. And accepting that is not "the bigotry of low expectations," as your predecessor liked to charge. It's history, it's tribal, it's sectarian to its core. It's about what that entire region was centuries before we decided to "straighten it out," and will still be decades, maybe centuries more after we crawl away -- bloodied and defeated -- like every outside power before us.

Now it is not good for the Christian's health to hustle the Aryan brown,
For the Christian riles, and the Aryan smiles and he weareth the Christian down;

And the end of the fight is a tombstone white with the name of the late deceased,
And the epitaph clear:
"A Fool lies here,
who tried to hustle the East."

That's not defeatist talk. It's history -- to which you are now simply adding another sorry chapter. The only thing that will change is this chapter will have your name on it.

Such a smart man. Such a confoundingly stupid policy.

Instead of just rearranging the generals on the deck of this Titanic mistake, seize the moment to start thinking outside that old box. Think what you could do with all that money you're wasting playing Whack-a-Mole halfway around the world against an enemy that fights because it likes fighting, and never gets tired of fighting. Fighting foreigners is to young Afghan males a right of passage. to Afghan adults their religious and patriotic vocation. Oh, and one more thing to remember: unlike NATO troops, the people you are trying to "defeat" LIVE there. They were there before we arrived, and they will be there when we leave. And we will leave.

Instead of doubling down, like the desperate geopolitical gamblers we've become, walk away from the table. History informs us that only more lost lives, wasted resources and failure lays ahead. We will eventually "lose," not because our troops failed to win, but because winning was never in the cards. To "win" any war you have do things we and rest of the civilized world, can no longer bring ourselves to do. Dresden, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, all come to mind. You have to have the stomach to out-brutal your enemy, and be able to live with it. Sixty five years ago we were still able to do that. We no longer are. And thank goodness for it.

I am not dismissive of the argument that, left to it's own, Afghanistan would again become a haven for terrorists bent on causing the US misery. It almost certainly will. And we do need to address such ongoing unconventional threats. But putting nearly a 100,000 US troops and nearly all our military resources to such a task is -- well let's not mince words -- stupid. I cannot believe that there are not smaller, smarter ways to secure America's security and interests, and for a fraction of the scope and cost of the current course.

For example, we didn't defeat the Soviet Union by attacking and trying to force-feed Russians short-courses in democracy. No, we "contained" the Soviets. And we neutered their nuclear threats with a very simple -- if simple minded -- but entirely believable threat,"Back at ya"--Mutually assured destruction -- M.A.D. -- concentrates the mind.The same goes for nuclear armed Pakistan and soon to be nuclear armed Iran. No one wants to play a zero-sum game. When "winning" means losing the game loses 98% its appeal.

So, Barack, get out. Get out now. It will save lives and the resources so desperately needed by your own people here at home.\

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm no bleeding heart, turn-the-other-cheek wimp. If an unoccupied Afghanistan occasionally becomes a problem, please do unleash a few dozen cruise missiles. Target both the usual suspects, but also valued government infrastructure. Eventually who ever is trying to lead Afghanistan (or Somalia, or ________ (fill in the blank) -- will do a cost/benefit analysis and figure out that being a haven for troublesome groups like al Qaida just isn't worth the occasional sense of satisfaction their violent activities produce.

And I'm not naive. I understand surgical strikes will not end the threat once and for all. But we live with all kinds of threats over which we have little to no control: earthquakes, hurricanes, tornados, crime. Life never has been risk free, and it never will be.Terrorism has become just another one of those threats. I'm not asking you to ignore it, or to justify it, or to brush it aside as a non-issue. I'm just asking you to stop compounding terrorist violence by creating tens of thousands of other victims by "going to war" over it.
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Stephen Pizzo has been published everywhere from The New York Times to Mother Jones magazine. His book, Inside Job: The Looting of America's Savings and Loans, was nominated for a Pulitzer.

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