Sunday, September 27, 2009

Obama: Pentagon Patsy

You see what's going with this Afghanistan thing, don't you? The president is being maneuvered by the Pentagon into an inescapable corner. This piece from "Tom Dispatch" is worth your time. It spells out in wonderful detail how the military is working to force Obama's hand with the war. And in the process setting up him up to take the blame for failure no matter what he does on the question of beefing up the number of US troops there.

The big news on the Afghanistan front lately is that the new wonder boy there, General Stan McChrystal--essentially a mouthpiece for his boss David Patreaus, the true golden boy of counter-insurgency, who, let it be remembered was virtually put in charge of US military policy in the Middle East by George W. Bush-- has prepared his assessment of the situation in that wretched country. Basically what he says is that the war will be lost if he doesn't get more troops. And even then, there ain't no guarantees. The war could still be lost. This, recall, is after about $220 billion and 8 years. Eight years! Over a thousand US lives lost, thousands more maimed. And the war is a disaster after all this? And what's required is God knows how many more troops? Oh, you don't think the rumored 40,000 is all that's going to be required, do you? Come now. We've been here before. The military, you may have noticed, has one prescription for everything: more, more, more. More troops, more billions, more trust-us-we-know-what-we're-doing.

For its part, the administration is beginning to have second thoughts about this stinking mess in Afghanistan, in light of the rising death toll among US troops,  and especially since the so-called election there, which was seriously sullied by widespread corruption that reinstalled the current Afghanistan president, Hamid Karzai, a prince of corruption himself. Not only that, but support for the war in the US is waning and, more importantly, among the Democrats in Congress.

All good, of course--not the casualties, but the waning support. But I'll be surprised if Obama doesn't go along with what's being proposed by the generals. He looks less like a fool if he does, given all the previous rhetoric about how Afghanistan is "the necessary war." And let's not forget the relentless pressure from the Pentagon. What we've got is a full court press from there. And these guys want permission to escalate yesterday. According to the Washington Post,  "Obama's deliberative pace -- he has held only one meeting of his top national security advisers to discuss McChrystal's report so far -- is a source of growing consternation within the military. 'Either accept the assessment or correct it, or let's have a discussion,' one Pentagon official said. 'Will you read it and tell us what you think?' Within the military, this official said, 'there is a frustration. A significant frustration. A serious frustration.'"

You know what? To hell with the whole lot of these generals. They're not going to be blamed for anything. No matter what Obama does, he gets blamed for the coming  failure in Afghanistan. And we will fail there. It's only our overweening hubris and ignorance that leads anybody to think that the US is going to succeed in subduing a country that's never been subdued by anybody, starting with Alexander the Great.

Update I: Another one worth your time. Bruce Jackson on the "McChrystal Infomercial"--the "60 Minutes" piece that ran last Sunday. He says exactly what I thought at the time. I told my wife while we were watching that it was a "kiss ass" performance from beginning to end.
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