In the midst of all this I am hearing some of the most incredulous rhetoric, rhetoric that questions either my own sanity or the sanity of our nation's leaders.
Allow me to begin with an article by Morton Kondracke, executive editor of Roll Call, the newspaper of Capitol Hill, and a highly respected columnist. Kondracke recently stated, "More and more, it looks as though President Barack Obama is going to adopt a 'split the difference' policy on Afghanistan that will basically continue current strategy - and likely lead to catastrophe." He later added, "The problem with this 'counterterrorism' strategy is that, with a few new wrinkles, it's a continuation of what's going on at present - ironically, the policy that he inherited from former President George W. Bush." So far, so good. Kondracke is, after all, entitled to his opinions. Then he reports, "Obama told congressional leadersrecently that he does not intend to reduce U.S. troop levels, but he described his war aims strictly in terms of 'targeting al-Qaida,' not defeating its Taliban allies."
"Targeting al-Qaida" in Afghanistan? The leadership of al-Qaida is no longer in Afghanistan. They are located in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) or the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) of Pakistan. Adding to the confusion regarding al-Qaida, the President's national security advisor, former Marine Gen. James Jones, had this to say recently, "The al-Qaida presence is very diminished. The maximum estimate is less than 100 operating in the country, no bases, no ability to launch attacks on either us or our allies." Since this statement is based on the very best intelligence available to our government, which is it? What is the truth? Since the statement by our President and the statement by Jones are mutually incompatible, they cannot both be true."... not defeating its Taliban allies???" Now how is that going to work? Rest assured the Taliban are doing everything they can to defeat the occupiers of Afghanistan, which would include American forces, but Obama does not want American forcesto defeat the Taliban?
One might easily conclude that the U.S. commanding general in Afghanistan is not overly optimistic.It gets better, or worse, depending on your perspective.
According to Ewen MacAskill, a Washington Correspondent for the Guardian, U.K., "President Barack Obama is quietly deploying an extra 13,000 troops to Afghanistan, an unannounced move that is separate from a request by the US commander in the country for even more reinforcements [emphasis is mine]." Now someone needs to explain something to me. How can even the President quietly move 13,000 troops to a war theater unannounced? Is there a growing pattern here? But, wait, there's more.
According to Melvin A. Goodwin, professor of government at Johns Hopkins University, there is a persistent myth about Afghanistan and Pakistan. He states, "As part of its counterinsurgency strategy, the United States must invest billions of dollars to create more capable, accountable and effective governments in Afghanistan and Pakistan. US nation building will enhance civilian control and stabilize constitutional government in both countries. This myth ignores the fact that Afghanistan and Pakistan are two of the most corrupt nations on the face of the earth. US aid to both countries has been siphoned off to individuals and institutions that do not contribute to US national security. US assistance strategy has been particularly ineffective in Afghanistan, which is 70 percent rural, and there is no indication that the weak Pakistani government is in a position to make the reforms needed to use US assistance effectively."
Afghanistan is 70 percent rural. I turn now to Tom Engelhardt of Tom Dispatch as he describes General McChrystal's redeployment option. Engelhardt stated, "The redeployment option calls for moving troops from sparsely populated and lawless areas of the countryside to urban areas, including Kandahar and Kabul. Many rural areas 'would be better left to Predators,' said an administration official, referring to drone aircraft." That is what was meant when I said earlier that we are losing ground in Afghanistan, 70 percent of the ground to be exact. Is there a growing pattern here?
The United Stateswill now be represented in the Afghan countryside mainly by Predators and their even more powerful cousins, Reapers, unmanned aerial vehicles with names straight out of a sci-fi film about implacable aliens. Since I find myself without words to describe this representation of America in the Afghan countryside, I will relyupon Engelhardt as he continues. "If you happen to be an Afghan villager in some underpopulated part of that country where the U.S. has set up small bases -- two of which were almost overrun recently -- they will be gone and 'America' will instead be soaring overhead. We're talking about planes without human beings in them tirelessly scanning the ground with their cameras for up to 22 hours at a stretch. Launched from Afghanistan but flown by pilots thousands of miles away in the American West, they are armed with two to four Hellfire missiles or the equivalent in 500-pound bombs." By way of explanation, the pilots are located inplaces like Creech Air Force Base outside Las Vegas, and Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Arizona. Engelhardt, "To see Earth from the heavens, that's the classic viewpoint of the superior being or god with the ultimate power of life and death. Seen on screens, they are, to us, distant, grainy figures, hardly larger than ants. This is what implacable means."
I read an article the other day from the A.P. that astonished me. Each sentence assailed me with jackhammer force. The article had the relatively harmless title, "Afghan corruption worrisome," which proves the old adage, don't read the headline, read the article.It is offered here in a consolidated version. Emphasis is mine.
The top military commander in Afghanistan is asking for up to 80,000 more American troops even as he warns that rampant government corruption there may prevent victory against the Taliban and al-Qaida. Even with additional troops, McChrystal concluded that corruption still could let terrorists turn Afghanistan back into a haven, according to officials at the Pentagon and White House. His request outlines three options for additional troops -- from as many as 80,000 to as few as 10,000 -- but favors a compromise of 40,000 more forces, the officials said.
Is the federal government being forthright with the American people? Is their a pattern here?
Meanwhile in Iraq, the US spokesman in Iraq, Brigadier General Stephen Lanza, reported that the goal was to get all combat troops out of Iraq by August, leaving 50,000 troops to advise and support the Iraqis. Put a different way, the most optimistic view in Iraq is we are going to strand 50,000 American troops in Iraq for an indefinite period of time, many of them to guard the largest embassy in the world located in Baghdad's Green Zone along with our new and enormous baseswhile the bulk of our forces will be there for another eleven months.