Thursday, November 19, 2009
Time to Take an Afghanistand
Want to know what's funny. And I don't mean laugh out loud funny, but like "hmm, that is funny." I've been mulling with the idea of writing this post about Afghanistan for a few weeks now. I'm usually a few days, or even weeks behind current events when I finally write about them here. But my snail's pace is miles ahead of Barack's sloth-on-valium pace.
To be fair, it's a mighty large decision he's faced with in Afghanistan. But at the same time, it doesn't seem, at least on the surface, that he's spending all of his time working on this decision. I understand that it's difficult to weigh all the different factors involved in combat strategy, but it's impossible to weigh them if you spend little time near a scale.
Barack cares more about healthcare reform than Afghanistan. There, I said it.
And what has he done to demonstrate otherwise? He and his Democratic disciples spend more time talking about healthcare, debating healthcare, promoting reform, and writing lengthy bills. How many trees have been killed over healthcare reform.
It's time to review a little history. Like General Patton, I think studying the history of warfare is vital to mastering it in the present. But don't worry, this won't be a long-winded lesson.
Afghanistan has never been a nation-state.
It's been conquered by foreigners, although not lately. It's been a kingdom, but it's never been a true nation. What does that mean? Well, when you leave Boston and go into the sticks of Western Mass. or the rolling hills of Vermont, or the rocky expanses of the Crown of Maine, you don't fear for your life do you? Some tribe of New Hampshirians aren't going to steal your clothes. There's law and order outside of the heavily populated areas. That law and order spreads to and is contained by our national borders.
There's an idea of being an American, and it supersedes ethnic background or accent (usually). But the only thing that has unites people in Afghanistan as "Afghanis" is their hatred of American involvement. Other than that, they're a very loose collection of tribes. And that's what works there.
In the US, different municipalities have different governments. In the square states, county government is a big deal. They don't have towns. In suburban Boston, we have towns, and town meetings. In the cities we have mayors and city councils. People tend to develop ruling systems that can efficiently rule. Afghanis utilize a more tribelike system of government because it works there.
This situation is worse than Iraq. At least down there, there existed a slight framework of nationhood. But to be honest, the only kinds of government that can succeed in these shitty places is your token military strongman.
And should we be surprised by that? We think we're so clever with our Democracy. Yet look at our own history. It took this country about 140 years to have universal suffrage. And then 50 more years to really have civil rights for all. Do you want to spend 190 years helping Afghanistan figure things out?
What is victory in Afghanistan? I hear Bill O'Reilly and other conservative mouths proclaim that withdrawal from Afghanistan now would be defeat. We'd be letting the terrorists win. But don't these people also consider dying to be victory? What the fuck do we care what a bunch of crazy assholes think. If they want to think they're winning, let them.
We can't let Afghanistan be run by the Taliban because the Taliban supports terrorists. If we were to take this logic and apply it to other countries, we'd be involved in many more theatres of war. Iran and North Korea come to mind first and foremost, but also more than half of Africa, and even some of our allies. Are we going to try to install democracy in all of these countries?
To me, Barack's decision seems obvious. Victory remains undefined. It's impossible to fight for a victory when you don't know what it is you're trying to accomplish. Just imagine playing football or baseball if you didn't know the rules. Imagine playing chess without a King to checkmate. You'd just have pieces knocking each other off.
Pull out and monitor. Let the Taliban play in their own backyard. Just make sure they don't have too much fun. Support uprisings against them. But if Afghanis want democracy, we can only give them the tools and the wood, they have to build their own house.
But what the fuck is taking Barack so long? And how come he hasn't asked this one pivitol question: "Why is it taking me so long to figure out how to win this war?" Because you can't figure out what "winning" actually means. And therefore should seriously consider withdrawal.
Every day he mulls, ponders, and spends time talking about healthcare reform; the WRONG STRATEGY is still being used in Afghanistan. Whatever the right strategy is, it isn't being used right now. That much is certain. So every day spent thinking is a day spent fighting a war the wrong way. There are the most serious consequences for such hesitation. You made sure you brought cameras with you so we'd know that you know this.
I know Barack doesn't want to fuck this up. But by spending so much time trying not to fuck up, he is indeed fucking up.
And sadly, all America, liberal, conservative, and inbetween, cares much more about their own health plans than they do about the war.
Posted by rob at 5:20 PM