Foreign Policy

Afghanistan, More or Less

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With Obama sliding in another 13,000 troops (please note in that link to a Washington Post story the always-objective paper's permanent "AfPak War" story hed and subhed, with subhed reading "combating extremism in Afghanistan and Pakistan"–that's speaking approved euphemisms to power, Post!) and Gen. McChrystal thinking that another 80,000 might be needed to really do the job, whatever that is, right, a good moment to read Andrew Bachevich's Boston Globe op-ed on the stakes for America's future in the decision Obama has to make on the future of our, er, endeavors in Afghanistan:

Implementing the McChrystal plan will perpetuate the longstanding fundamentals of US national security policy: maintaining a global military presence, configuring US forces for global power projection, and employing those forces to intervene on a global basis….at its core, the McChrystal plan aims to avert change. Its purpose—despite 9/11 and despite the failures of Iraq—is to preserve the status quo.

Hawks understand this. That's why they are intent on framing the debate so narrowly—it's either give McChrystal what he wants or accept abject defeat. It's also why they insist that Obama needs to decide immediately….

If the president assents to McChrystal's request, he will void his promise of change at least so far as national security policy is concerned. The Afghanistan war will continue until the end of his first term and probably beyond. It will consume hundreds of billions of dollars. It will result in hundreds or perhaps thousands more American combat deaths—costs that the hawks are loath to acknowledge.

As the fighting drags on from one year to the next, the engagement of US forces in armed nation-building projects in distant lands will become the new normalcy. Americans of all ages will come to accept war as a perpetual condition, as young Americans already do. That "keeping Americans safe" obliges the United States to seek, maintain, and exploit unambiguous military supremacy will become utterly uncontroversial.

A piece I wrote back in the dawn of the Iraq war on "how being a hawk means never having to say you're sorry."

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  1. I will once again say that I would love to see the President do the right thing in Afghanistan, and I predict that he will do the exact opposite.

  2. Once, just once, I’d like to hear “this is imperative to our national security because . . .” that actually is true in explaining our nation-building exercise du jour.

    Powell sure said a mouthful back when: you break it, you own it.

  3. That subtitle about “combating extremism in Afghanistan and Pakistan” is a new one on me. What a bunch of whores.

  4. “It will result in hundreds or perhaps thousands more American combat deaths”

    Yeah, and screw the thousands of innocent Afghan and Pakistani civilian deaths!

  5. Ah, anti-state.com…good times…good times….

  6. But who doesn’t want to prove to that the United States can do another something that the Soviets couldn’t?

  7. So when does the Nobel Effect kick in…?

  8. When you’re wounded and left on Afghanistan’s plains,
    And the women come out to cut up what remains,
    Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains
    An’ go to your Gawd like a soldier.

  9. If the president assents to McChrystal’s request, he will void his promise of change at least so far as national security policy is concerned.

    Why should this promise be any different.

  10. If the president assents to McChrystal’s request, he will void his promise of change at least so far as national security policy is concerned.

    This is complete and utter bullshit. Obama campaigned on making the Afghanistan mission a priority and putting more resources into it, both military and civilian.

  11. Yes, Kolohe – though I am a fan of him. He’s still seeing things insofar as promises of change abroad are concerned.

    His hallucinations on this point were the reason he voted for Obama.

  12. If anyone really beleived Obama meant half of what he said in the campaign, I have a slightly used bridge I’ll see you cheap. or some swamp land… er… fertile farm land.

    The man is a lying POS that will sell us out in a heartbeat to improve his populatiry with the Europeans and Muslims.

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  15. “””If anyone really beleived Obama meant half of what he said in the campaign, I have a slightly used bridge I’ll see you cheap. or some swamp land… er… fertile farm land. “””

    Why would anyone believe half of what any of the candidates said. But in all fairness, many people believed Bush would be a limited government, fiscal conservative president after he was elected in 2000.

    It would be hard to be worse than Bush, Obama’s award may be for making it look easy.

  16. Wow, that left out my name.

  17. As did that. I have remember name checked too. Go figure

    TrickyVic

    1. Open H&R again in a new browser window. That’s what I do when the names start disappearing.

  18. Wow, my name is there now.

    This new board is buggy.

  19. NO SERIOUS person thinks that Afghanistan – remote, impoverished, barely qualifying as a nation-state – seriously matters to the United States.

    Right, because it’s not like it didn’t prove to be a decisive theater in the Cold War or that the most severe attack against America proper was launched from their. It’s not like we followed a policy of ignoring Afghanistan and other backwater places for the decade leading up to 9/11.

    First, sentence and he reveals himself to be an idiot.

    The rest of the article is based on the premise that he has amazing psychic powers that let him see in the dark recesses of the minds of “hawks” which in turn allows him to see what they’re “really” and what their “true” goals are. No doubt to his great surprise, his psychic powers discoverer that arguments of hawks have nothing to do with defeating an immediate enemy but are instead just excuses to maintain a decades long evil plan to maintain America on a a permanent war footing.

    Marx could have written that post. It’s nothing but a collection of bigoted stereotypes that one subculture holds about another. Nothing in the editorial talks about objective history, facts or military opinion. It just another leftwing/romantic rant based on the premise that only the author and people think just like him have any brains or moral impulses. Hawks are evil people seeking to exploit tragedy for their schemes.

    Hawks aren’t supporting increased troop levels out of some capitalist conspiracy. They’re supporting it because they’ve learned (and everyone else should have) that counter-insurgency is labor intensive warfare. We can’t leverage our technological advantage in this kind of warfare the way would could fighting nation state armies. When your trying to provide security for isolated villages against attacks by numbnuts with AK-47 and RPG’s you needs troops on the ground, not F-22’s and Aircraft carriers. Bush tried the low numbers, high-tech strategy in Iraq and largely failed. Now Obama wants to repeat it in Afghanistan.

    It is Bacivich et al that have the secret agenda and who the war in context of far sweeping unrelated goals. He’s just projecting his warped world view onto everyone else.

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