It was such a pleasant weekend. Fall is in the air. Football is on TV, and the Angels sent the Boston Red Sox golfing. It even felt wholesome and normal to listen to the soothing sounds of Republicans and Democrats making fun of each other and playing nerf meme dodge ball. I suppose that we owe the Nobel Committee a thank you note. But all good things must come to an end. Or…. Now that we’ve got that peace prize thing out of the way, let’s get back to the business of war.
Mullah Omar is back with a vengeance, says a story on the front page of The NY Times that’s been echoed in red atop the Huffington Post. The latter patriotically reminds you to let the authorities know if you see a tall, male Afghan with black hair and a shrapnel wound to his right eye.
“This is an amazing story,” said Bruce Riedel, a former Central Intelligence Agency officer who coordinated the Obama administration’s initial review of Afghanistan policy in the spring. “He’s a semiliterate individual who has met with no more than a handful of non-Muslims in his entire life. And he’s staged one of the most remarkable military comebacks in modern history.”
Whether or not Omar is the real brains behind the Taliban resurgence that has D.C. policy makers sweating remains to be determined, but it’s a gripping story that produces a nicely defined villain. It fits well with Secretary Clinton’s recent pronouncements concerning the attack-hostage situation-siege in Pakistan, reminding us “that extremists … are increasingly threatening the authority of the [Pakistani] state….” She also pointed out there is only “strong and clear” resolve in the fight against the Taliban; a fight that the US will work with the new Afghan government to win.
That would be the Afghan government that recently won an election we haven’t seen in many headlines. Thanks to Peter Galbraith, the UN was forced to announce that the election was marred by “widespread fraud“. And she forgot to mention the rumors of the Obama administration entertaining the possibility of allowing the Taliban a stake in governing Afghanistan. That would be unnamed official speak for “pretty much right back where we started from…minus a few hundred billion and stacks of dead bodies.”
There’s a lot to be considered when the mandarins spend this week beneath the Nobel sheen, deciding what to do next. General McChrystal will be arguing for at least 40,000 more boots on the ground. He needs them because “the overall situation is deteriorating” and “the insurgents currently have the initiative.” The doves (stop snickering), like my own Sen. Carl Levin, say that there are other ways to show our resolve.
More hawkish politicians point out that just training Afghans won’t cut it. We need to destroy the Taliban if we can ever hope to defeat Al Qaeda, and if we fail in Afghanistan then Pakistan will surely fall to the sort of extremists that keep Sec. Clinton awake at night. And imagine if the Taliban give Al Qaeda sanctuary again; that would be a grave threat to our national security.
We could consider Mullah Omar’s statement in September: “We assure all countries that the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, as a responsible force, will not extend its hand to cause jeopardy to others.” Mr. Riedel, the CIA officer quoted above, assures us that any such statement from Omar is just “clever propaganda.” Being one of the designers of the current Afghan strategy and a Langley fellow, he’d probably know.
And the Grey Lady would never lie to us *cough* Iraq *cough* Georgian War *cough*…excuse me, i seem to be having a coughing fit that might go on for some time.
Ahem. If you feel like you might be getting the run around South Asia, you’ll want to read Eric Margolis in The Toronto Sun:
Truth is war’s first casualty. The Afghan war’s biggest untruth is, “we’ve got to fight terrorists over there so we don’t have to fight them at home.”
Many North Americans still buy this lie because they believe the 9/11 attacks came directly from the Afghanistan-based al-Qaida and Taliban movements.
False. The 9/11 attacks were planned in Germany and Spain, and conducted mainly by U.S.-based Saudis to punish America for supporting Israel.
It’s well worth reading the whole article, because you are getting the run around. Margolis may not have it 100% correct, but he has less to gain by speaking the truth than men like Riedel and Levin have to lose from it.
We’re sinking in a pointless quagmire, begun on lies that our peace prize winner chooses to perpetuate. Do you really think that Obama will put a stop to it? Can you define victory in South Asia? The only question that remains is whether we’ll make it longer than the Soviets, since it’s pretty clear that the end will be the same.
Thanks to Ian Welsh for pointing out the Margolis piece.