Saturday, October 24, 2009

Afghanistan: It's long Past Time To Go

I was reading the newspaper this morning, and came across this opinion piece about Afghanistan.

There have been 60 global neo-jihad (the author’s preferred term projects or “plots” in the West in the last two decades, by 46 terrorist networks or groups connected directly or indirectly with al Qaeda. The first was the original attack on the New York World Trade Center in 1993, and the most recent was a plot to blow up the headquarters of the French General Directorate of Internal Security, the author of which was arrested in December 2008. Of the 60 plots all but one have been completely solved.

Al Qaeda itself was directly linked to 20% of these episodes. Most – 78% -- were the work of “autonomous homegrown groups” with no real connection to al Qaeda, but its admirers, usually inspired by the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Of the 60 “neo-jihad” plots in the West, 9 were actually Algerian terrorist attacks on Paris in the 1990s (for its support of the military government in Algeria), 3 were al Qaeda’s successes (9/11, the London bombings, and indirectly Madrid), 36 were disrupted by police arrests, and 10 failed because of mechanical or organizational failures by the terrorists.

The al Qaeda core organization became active in the West in 1993 (the first Trade Center attack), peaked in 2001 with the 9/11 bombings, and since has been in decline. Only two other al Qaeda-linked attacks were successful (the London transport bombings and the Madrid train-station bombing – which had no active link to al Qaeda, but was copying it.). Some 3 thousand Americans were killed on 9/11, 52 people in London, and 191 died in Madrid.

There has since been no “resurgent al Qaeda” in the West. The overall pattern of international terrorism since 2001 is increasingly that of a “leaderless jihad,” resembling the spontaneous series of terrorist actions and murders of heads of state in Europe and America (including U.S. Presdent William McKinley in 1910), carried out by autonomous utopian anarchists at the turn of the 19th to 20th centuries.

Al Qaeda’s relations with the Taliban today are troubled. According to Sageman, any “Taliban return to power in Afghanistan will not mean an automatic new sanctuary for al Qaeda.” He concludes that “effective counter-terrorism strategy [is] on the brink of completely eliminating al Qaeda.” There will be no organization to return. This is the result of effective international and domestic intelligence cooperation as well as good police work. So why, one asks, is the U.S. expanding its war in Afghanistan?

Why indeed. On the same page in my paper was Ron Paul's op-ed, wherin I found this:

I get quite annoyed at this very narrow line of questioning. I have other questions. We overthrew the Taliban government in 2001 with less than 10,000 American troops. Why does it now seem that the more troops we send, the worse things get? If the Soviets bankrupted themselves in Afghanistan with troop levels of 100,000 and were eventually forced to leave in humiliating defeat, why are we determined to follow their example? Most importantly, what is there to be gained from all this? We’ve invested billions of dollars and thousands of precious lives – for what?

The truth is it is no coincidence that the more troops we send the worse things get. Things are getting worse precisely because we are sending more troops and escalating the violence. We are hoping that good leadership wins out in Afghanistan, but the pool of potential honest leaders from which to draw have been fleeing the violence, leaving a tremendous power vacuum behind. War does not quell bad leaders. It creates them. And the more war we visit on this country, the more bad leaders we will inadvertently create.

Another thing that war does is create anger with its indiscriminate violence and injustice. How many innocent civilians have been harmed from clumsy bombings and mistakes that end up costing lives? People die from simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time in a war zone, but the killers never face consequences. Imagine the resentment and anger survivors must feel when a family member is killed and nothing is done about it. When there are no other jobs available because all the businesses have fled, what else is there to do, but join ranks with the resistance where there is a paycheck and also an opportunity for revenge? This is no justification for our enemies over there, but we have to accept that when we push people, they will push back.

The real question is why are we there at all? What do our efforts now have to do with the original authorization of the use of force? We are no longer dealing with anything or anyone involved in the attacks of 9/11. At this point we are only strengthening the resolve and the ranks of our enemies. We have nothing left to win. We are only there to save face, and in the end we will not even be able to do that.

The former administration went in without thinking, without listening to real experts. They cherry picked info to support their preferred action. They ignored reality because they were intent on creating a reality - however improbable and unworkable - GW Bush as Julius Cesar. They wanted him(the war dodger) to fill the role of conquering hero. They thought we would strike down presidential term limits.

This is a recurring republican theme, when they're in power - remember Guiliani? He wanted to stay on as gov of NY even after the election. Then, Bloomberg did what Guiliani couldn't accomplish even with 9/11 still fresh in everyone's minds.

But these words keep ringing in my mind:

When there are no other jobs available because all the businesses have fled, what else is there to do, but join ranks with the resistance where there is a paycheck and also an opportunity for revenge? This is no justification for our enemies over there, but we have to accept that when we push people, they will push back.

We also need to realize that we are shaping our own society as well as their's. While the job losses continue because we are spending our treasure worshiping death rather than fixing the planet, the people without jobs and health insurance end up going where there are jobs and insurance - into the armed forces.

Right now our economy seems to consist of three major centers of overweening greed, and not much else: The military/industrial complex, the medical/pharma/insurance complex, and the financial/government complex. Everything else seems to have flown the coop, and the only parts of these three that are still here are the parts that don't involve good middle class jobs.

Can Obama dismantle the American Empire, and return us to our republic?

Does he even want to?


Blogger oldwhitelady said...

Those are good questions. I wonder what the answers are, too.

1:03 PM, October 25, 2009  

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