According to the Washington Post today, President Barack Obama is going to announce tonight that he is going to send another 34,000 troops to Afghanistan. This means that he is going to follow in the steps of Alexander the Great, the British Empire and the Soviet Union. I don’t feel that I should add that the aforementioned entities were all soundly defeated, but I will. It appears that some in Washington need reminding.
The trouble with Afghanistan, from a military point of view, is that the country is roughly the size of Texas, with naturally occurring bunkers in the mountainous regions which, unfortunately for us, take up most of the country. Another problem in Afghanistan is that the people there will turn a blind eye to anything that the Taliban stands for, as long as they aren’t foreigners. It seems that the people in that country don’t appreciate foreigners. That could explain why the country has never been effectively occupied…ever.
This fact seems to have been lost on the American administration. Maybe it’s because of “American exceptionalism”. It seems that Americans believe that because of our determination and power, we cannot be defeated. To counter that argument, all one has to do is remember our involvement in Vietnam. There we had up to five hundred thousand soldier’s in-country and we still lost, but I’m sure the Commander-in-Chief knows all about that. I imagine that he doesn’t feel that these facts are pertinent to the situation in Afghanistan.
There are other concerns besides the military ones. The cost of this war during a deep recession is daunting, to say the least. There are people in Congress who decry health care reform because it will mean a cost of 350 billion dollars over the next ten years. This argument seems to be lost when you consider that two weeks ago Congress passed a military budget of $680,000,000,000.00 (six hundred and eighty billion dollars) for 2010. This doesn’t include the appropriations of Iraq, Afghanistan, and defense intelligence bureaus which bring the military budget closer to 1.41 Trillion dollars.
The other area that should be considered is the cost of defeating the Taliban and occupying Afghanistan in human lives. Since there will be more U.S. soldiers in the country, this means that there will be more targets for insurgents to shoot at. Besides the military death toll, I believe that the civilian death toll should also be considered. In Iraq, the death toll among civilians according to Lancet is around 1.3 million. Of course most of these people were Muslim so I guess they just don’t count.
Speaking of things that don’t seem to matter to the Pentagon, there is the troubling subject of using depleted uranium on the battlefield. DU, according to many scientists, causes radiation poisoning and mixes with soil and water and it remains practically forever. In Iraq, the proud parents of a newborn child don’t ask if the baby is a boy or a girl, they ask “Is it normal”. Will we repeat the same behavior in Afghanistan? It seems that we will.
Another question that bothers me concerns the Taliban. Before we invaded the country, we asked the Taliban to hand Osama Bin Laden over to us. The Taliban agreed to turn him over if we brought charges against him. We didn’t, for whatever reason, and they refused to give him up. Since Bin Laden was a CIA asset until the day the towers fell, you would figure that we knew where he was. According to some, the U.S. didn’t want to bring him in because they wanted to use him as a pretext for invading Iraq. What a tangled web we have weaved!
The war in Afghanistan and Pakistan will go on forever and we will eventually pull out when the people in the U.S. have had enough. I’m sure that many people who voted for Obama feel betrayed and confused by his actions since he became president. The use of military commissions, the failure to close Guantanamo, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the opening of seven military bases in Columbia and the increasing cost of funding a bloated, over-sized military while supporting a right wing coup in Honduras makes it feel as though Bush is still in power.
More warfare, more military spending, more death is seemingly on the horizon. The countries responsible for the most cocaine and heroin production, Columbia and Afghanistan are client states of the U.S. Is this a coincidence?
The constant warfare that America is engaged in will bring more legislation and presidential directives in order to further an American “security state”. Our civil liberties will continue to deteriorate until we find that they are all but gone. This will enhance “state security”. The war against the Taliban will go on until the U.S. is exhausted. Our freedoms will erode until we have no freedom left. The truth is that we are all targets.
Read Tim Gatto’s new book Complicity to Contempt