I voted for killing women and children

I never found much point in shouting “Bush’s War”. Maybe i take the whole Constitutional Republic thing too seriously, but i will argue until the end of time that both Afghanistan and Iraq are our wars. We elected the jackass. We reelected the jackass. And the Democratic Party never lifted a finger to stop any of his jackassery. I’ve argued publicly and in private that each and every American of voting age by Oct. 2001 should be indicted for war crimes and crimes against humanity. And i mean it.

Still, i could also make a reasonable argument that what was done in my name was done against my will. I didn’t vote for Bush. I didn’t vote for the vast majority of the asshats in Congress either. Now i have to accept a much more personal responsibility for every drone strike and torture coverup.

I did vote for Obama, against my better judgment but within the confines of the American political game it made some sense. So i voted for the escalation in Afghanistan. I voted for more drone strikes in Pakistan. I voted for expanded covert operations and the assassination of American citizens. I voted for the ever expanding Clusterfuck Empire.

That pisses me off.

Sure, i heard him talk about getting all Kennedy on Afghanistan, but i hoped that it was just tough talk. I hoped that he’d be as smart as advertised and realize that it was a lost cause since before it began. I was wrong. So is he.

Now i called the situation we find ourselves in on the evening of Sept. 11, 2001. It was clear that there’d be an invasion, and if it wasn’t clear to you that it would be an indefinitely long clusterfuck that we’d lose then you’re either an idiot or an imperialist. (No, i’m not sorry if that offends you. No, i don’t care if you saw the light a few years down the road. The light was bright enough to read the writing on the wall back then, and if you bought the whole “chase the terrorists who did this to us meme” then i repeat, you’re an idiot or an imperialist.) Your local public library has lots of history books; it’s not my fault that you choose not to read them.

So i voted for someone who had all the information and still decided to make matters worse. I voted for an imperialist, and a half-assed imperialist at that.

Frankly, i don’t care about his health care reform or his financial reform or any of the other PR feathers he’s been putting in his cap. I want all the amendments in the Bill of Rights back. We’ll talk about Mr. Obama’s greatness…or even his good intentions…when you can show me that. Because all the other stuff doesn’t matter without the civil liberties. When you can show me that he’s serious about drawing down the empire for the sake of the Republic rather than launching imperial adventures, we’ll talk.

Until then you’ve got nothing to prove that Mr. Obama is the greatness. What you do have is your support for all the heinous bullshit that’s going on in our names. All those civilians dying in Afghanistan, the women and children…Mr. Obama did that for you, and you’re cheering him on. The mostly innocent men locked in the American Gulag, Mr. Obama’s keeping them there (and probably still torturing them) for you, and you’re cheering him on.

Just don’t come crying when some president down the line uses Obama’s assassination precedent to start assassinating political enemies here in the US. Don’t complain when your family member is being tortured for politically incorrect thought and the government shrouds it in secrecy. And i certainly don’t want to hear any crying when unaffordable and pointless exercises in imperialism collapse this nation like they’ve collapsed every other empire.

19 replies »

  1. By your definition, I guess I’m an imperialist, because I supported the invasion of Afghanistan. I did then, I do still, and I’m actually glad we’ve got more troops there now. As far as I’m concerned, Obama’s actually done the right thing by escalating in Afghanistan. He’s trying to salvage something that Bush royally fucked up because of his daddy issues (Bush abandoned the country in favor of invading Iraq right as he had the chance to actually make a difference in Afghanistan), and he deserves time to try. I think we have one last chance to get this right before we have to fall back on a policy of containment against the nutjob radicals who control too much of the Middle East, and while we may well fail, I think we should still try. And so I support Obama’s last ditch attempt.

    BTW, your definition of imperialism is a little off of the standard definition. It’s not imperialism if you plan to leave, and while you may choose not to believe Obama, he says he’s planning to leave Afghanistan. He’s well into the process of leaving Iraq. And Iraq’s oil is worth a hell of a lot more to the US than Afghanistan’s metal deposits.

    I don’t buy the war crimes thing, though, and I think that you’ve let your anger and frustration get away with you on that one. Civilians die in war. Period. That we’re trying so damn hard to minimize “collateral damage” is part of the reason Iraq and Afghanistan have taken so long, cost so much, and killed so many. We would have been better off with a more aggressive approach that actually got serious about fighting both wars and controlling both nations after we invaded, and that would have meant more civilian casualties, not fewer. It also would have required instituting the draft, asking the taxpayers to (gasp!) sacrifice by coughing up their young men and women, their hard earned cash, drive less, and so on. I blame Bush for that too, although Obama’s not made me thrilled by his continued unwillingness to ask us to sacrifice for our occupations.

    I get you’re mad, Lex, but I think you’re shooting at the wrong target for some of these things. And for all the badness you’re bitching about, can you honestly tell me that you think McCain would have better? It sucks that those were our choices, and that our system has steered this far right, but we’ve got to start steering it back with someone. And Obama, for all his many flaws, was that someone.

    • On a related note, what’s your opinion of FDR, Lex? Where do you think he falls along the continuum between great and terrible president?

  2. Let’s remember that the Taliban is mostly a local insurgency and that few Islamists with a global agenda are fighting in Afghanistan. Though I’ve read that the longer we’re in Afghanistan, the more responsive Taliban fighters become to al Qaeda’s message.

  3. I guess I’m in-between. I supported invading Afghanistan for most of the obvious reasons. Now … well, hell, I favor getting the hell out, I guess, because I’m playing hell seeing how we leave it better than we found it. It’s much easier to imagine that we’re going to make it worse.

    Part of this, of course, stems not from the principle but from the pragmatics – there’s no point in trying to do the right thing if you’re not going to be able to pull it off.

    On the whole, I’d rather wave the magic wand and reset the world so that we never invaded Iraq or Afghanistan and instead we invested all that money in healthcare, infrastructure and education.

    Because I’ve about had it with asshats talking about how we HAVE to cut entitlements because there’s just no other way to pay for anything. Tax cuts and entitlements, and not a brain cell alive to ask hey, wait, what about that thing that’s 70% of the budget, or whatever the number is.

    Fortunately, I’m not upset or anything….

  4. As I said on Facebook today:

    “Oooh, lost my first Facebook “friend” for noting that Obama constantly embraces blatantly unconstitutional stands. That truth is apparently exagerated Obama bashing. Poor little moral imbecile, defending a president who doesn’t even believe in the magna carta, let alone the constitution.

    Anyone else who feels that a president who doesn’t believe in the right to a trial, to see the evidence against you, to not have evidence obtained by torture, to have a judge approve a warrant before being spied on, to a trial before assassinating American citizens doesn’t make Obama violently unconstitutional, please de-friend me.”

    • IIRC, you’re a Canadian, right Ian? So you didn’t have an opportunity to vote for or against Obama. But if you had, would you have voted for McCain, given that it’s almost impossible to imagine how he would have been better on any one of those issues than Obama is?

      I can certainly appreciate disappointment. Obama has disappointed me on a lot of things too, and some of those disappointments are things on your list. But frankly, I think I had more realistic expectations than most of Obama’s supporters did. Presidential power isn’t going to be reduced until Congress reclaims what they gave to the Presidency, and that requires people who actually engage and try to push Congress to the place where it will do that.

  5. No Afghan attacked the United States. End. Of. Story.

    And peace, freedom and democracy do not come from Hellfire missiles. Sorry, Brian, it wouldn’t have been won if Bush had concentrated on Afghanistan instead of invading Iraq. It couldn’t be won because there’s no definition of victory. All this is is the capping of 30+ years of the US destabilizing Afghanistan.

    FDR had a few imperialist tendencies, but that anyone would equate the action in Afghanistan with WWII is laughable. How many divisions does Osama have? What’s his steel output? How many countries has he overrun with his armies?

    Being more violent wouldn’t have changed a damned thing. How many tons of high explosives fell on Vietnam and did they change anything? How many free fire zones and napalm strikes?

    More importantly, local populations are not going to say, “Why, the Americans have elected that Obama fellow and we should just forget the last 7+ years (they, of course, probably don’t pretend like the 23 before that never happened) of American behavior and give this Obama a chance.” All they see is more troops, more violence, more disappeared family members, more dead women and children.

    Finally, nobody puts more troops into a fight in order to withdraw them. Well, shit, maybe Obama does, but considering he hadn’t even left the G20 meetings when he was backing off the withdraw timetable he had just agreed to with our allies…i doubt it.

    I’m not against all wars, just dumb wars. And unlike President Obama, i can actually tell the difference.

    • First off, I’m not comparing Afghanistan to WW2 – I’m trying to understand how you can be disgusted with Obama over constitutional issues when FDR interred Japanese-Americans in camps, threatened to increase the number of SCOTUS justices in order to shove his projects through, suspended habeus corpus, and a whole slew of potentially other unconstitutional things over the course of his three terms in office. FDR did a lot more than fight WWII, after all, and most of what I was thinking about was his other stuff.

      You’re right, no Afghan attacked the US, but when you’re fighting an enemy, you go after the head first, and the head was in Afghanistan. So no, your gross oversimplification isn’t the end of the story. And you haven’t addressed the point that Obama is withdrawing from Iraq. True, he wasn’t the one to put the troops in there, but he’s sure as heck taking them out.

      I think upping the violence would have actually sped up both Iraq and Afghanistan, actually. Because we would have got in, smashed the places to the ground, and got out again fast. That wouldn’t have bled our treasury near as dry, or killed as many of our soldiers. And then we could have sent in the real experts to rebuild both nations from the ground up, or preferably taught the locals to do it themselves, instead of relying on the military to do the reconstruction. It’s not something that militaries are designed for, really.

      Now, while we’re going to disagree vehemently on a lot of your stuff, we do have a point or two of agreement. This is not a standard war, and so standard military tactics won’t work. I’m all for nation building, actually, and I think that there was a pretty good chance that it would have worked (for a reasonable definition of worked, like “stable non-Taliban government presiding over something that wasn’t a failed state,” not for some pie-in-the-sky democratic ideal) had Bush not shifted focus. But he did. And now Obama is trying to fix what Bush broke.

      Afghanistan is broke because of us, so we have a responsibility to fix it. Maybe we can’t, but I think that we’ve got to at least try. The fact that the US has such a long history of screwing over Afghanistan just makes this moral imperative that much greater. At least, it does for me.

      I’m willing to give Obama time to see if he can salvage something out of the Afghanistan mess before I start kicking him in the balls over it. But if I become convinced that it’s a lost cause, I’ll start agitating for a withdrawl as well. At this point, I’m already trying to figure out how to manage a containment strategy because Afghanistan is the last one I’m willing to give on – when the next terrorist attack hits and comes from Yemen or Somalia, I’m not going to support yet another invasion and occupation. Our country is too fucked by these last two already to afford another one.

  6. Ah yes, you have a responsibility to “fix” Afghanistan even though the Afghans don’t want you there. “No no, Mr. Elephant, it’s ok, we’ll fix our own china shop. Please!” I stopped supporting the Afghan war the moment the majority of Afghans said they wanted NATO out. As for Iraq, Obama is withdrawing on the schedule Bush negotiated, and I’ll bet you that he doesn’t pull all troops out by the so-called deadline.

    OBL hasn’t been in Afghanistan for years (if he’s even alive). The military’s own estimates are than less than 100 AQ members are in Afghanistan. The head of AQ appears to be in Pakistan. Gonna invade them? And the planning for 9/11 did not take place in Afghanistan either.

    OBL won. He got America to do exactly what he wanted, and bled it white. Thanks to the stupidity of Bush, he got the bonus Iraq invasion. And if he hates America for its freedoms (not really, but whatever) well, he won on that too, didn’t he?

    OBL out thought the US. The US did everything he wanted them to and even more than he wanted them to. If it cost him his life, so what? That was never the point.

    100 years from now when people are capable of thinking sanely about this time without overly emotionalizing it, OBL’s success will be noted. Bush and Obama will be considered amongst the fools who presided over the end of the Pax Americana by falling into his trap and refusing to get out.

    • What happens if we pull out, Ian? Can you imagine, today, any outcome other than another civil war? I can’t, but maybe that’s a limitation on my imagination. Now, maybe a civil war is inevitable and the only thing we’re doing in Afghanistan is delaying it and costing ourselves lives and money. But maybe a civil war isn’t inevitable if we stay a while longer and can actually stabilize the country enough. I’m willing to take the risk, for now, that we might be able to prevent a civil war with our presence in Afghanistan.

      You’ve passed your point of no return on this one, and so as Lex. It sounds like Sam has too. I haven’t. I don’t know exactly where that point is for me, but while I haven’t hit it yet, I’m sure I will eventually.

  7. Again, the majority of Afghans don’t want us there Brian. Do not want us there.

    When the majority of the population doesn’t want you there, you are occupying the country.

    There may be a civil war, yes. And someone will win it. The US can’t win. All it does is keep the bleeding going, and the civilian casualty rates are going up, not down. Looks like there’s already a war. A war the US can’t win, and neither can anyone else as long as NATO is there.

    • I agree that we’re occupying Afghanistan. I never said we weren’t. But I do reject the implication that I think you’re making, which is that all occupations are inherently bad. The allies occupied Germany, Italy, and Japan after WWII, and two of the three of them have done really well for themselves over the last 55 years. Of course, we poured huge amounts of money into helping them recover and rebuild, and that’s didn’t happen in this case (due to Bush’s stupidity), so the parallel isn’t exact by any stretch.

      Occupations done half-assed are bad, and until recently, I’d agree that this one is being done half-assed. But in my opinion, we might be able to recover if we actually get serious about it. It remains to be seen if Obama will get serious enough about the occupation (and rebuilding) of Afghanistan, but again, I’m willing to accept the risks that go along with that wait and see approach.

  8. What enemy? A handful of guys pissed off at us for very good reasons? Which isn’t to say i condone their behavior, but Obama’s unterbussen preacher was right: if anything 9/11 was America’s chickens coming home to roost. 700+ bases worldwide, a history of quashing actual democratic movements and supporting some of the world’s most brutal dictators…ya know, like Saddam Hussein. Everything has a price.

    This choice is simple. We can have an empire or we can have a republic. We cannot have both. If Afghanistan wasn’t an imperial operation, it wouldn’t have been a military invasion.

    And the “just smash everything and let God sort em out…we’ll rebuild it in our own fashion after the fact” is an incredibly enlightened foreign policy view. For a handful of guys you want to carpet bomb a nation?!

    Fucking hell…

  9. Are you willing to provide an actual government for Afghanistan? That’s what it will take. Real, actual colonialism. The Karzai government is not capable of running its own country and I see no indications that that is changing. Are you willing to occupy the place for another 20 years?

    The idea that you can compare Afghanistan to Germany and Japan, countries which had been major industrial powers, and who had killed millions, to Afghanistan, is kind of sad.

  10. Not comparable occupations. For one, they all occurred after the defeat of standing armies with a formal surrender. For two, there were no insurgencies. And for three, the massive rebuilding effort was motivated by fear of the Soviets rather than any magnanimous behavior on the part of the US. (And in the case of Japan, we built a one-party state and pretty much still occupy it…when the first none LDP leadership since the end of WWII said something about the US leaving Okinawa, they were browbeaten and a PM was forced to resign.)

    Sorry, Brian, you need to find a more applicable comparison.

  11. I hate to try to rank or compare abuse, but you’re certainly right about that desperate need… and then the legions of “child soldiers” who’ve been systematically turned into sociopaths. It just never ends.

    I wish, in a pathetically naive way, that instead of sending troops to start or enable internal wars, we could spend the same vast resources to bring anyone from those countries here, or anywhere they could pursue an education and experience the possibilities of freedom, because I truly believe that many, many of those people would then go back, empowered and connected to support systems, and fight like hell to change their own countries for the better, and do it more effectively than any occupying force ever could.

    Like I said, hopelessly naive.