Thursday, June 23, 2011

The war that no one wants must go on

So the President has decided to "declare victory in Afghanistan and get out" except that neither he nor anyone else has a definition of "victory" and we're not actually getting out. By the end of the President's current term in 2012, there will still be more than twice as many U.S. troops in Afghanistan as when he took office.

afghanistan_withdrawal.png

The war that no one wants must go on. Just the other day, the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, made it all too clear he doesn't want us.

"You remember a few years ago I was saying thank you to the foreigners for their help; every minute we were thanking them," he said. “Now I have stopped saying that ... They’re here for their own purposes, for their own goals, and they’re using our soil for that,"

At least 56 percent of us want all U.S troops out NOW. Even Congress is beginning to notice our discontent and they are getting restive. Republican presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman understand the public mood; they want early withdrawal. Democratic stalwart Rep. John Conyers expressed a growing sentiment:

“Our country does not need nearly 100,000 ground troops to hunt down the 50 to 100 al Qaeda who remain in Afghanistan. Our country cannot afford to continue to spend $2 billion a week on a mission that is cumbersome, inefficient, and is not tailored to address the threat terrorism poses to the American people.

Gosh, even the President noted, in announcing his minimal troop pullback, that we need a "pivot" on Afghanistan.

“Over the last decade, we have spent a trillion dollars on war at a time of rising debt and hard economic times,” Mr. Obama said. “Now, we must invest in America’s greatest resource: our people.”

I'm sure those of "our people" who are called upon to die in this purposeless project must wonder who is caring for them.
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The notion of "declaring victory and getting out" has an honorable history of a sort that seems to fit this President. The phrase is attributed (apparently not quite accurately) to Senator George Aiken, referring to the U.S.'s flailing imperial adventure in Vietnam. The idea is not a bad template for an over-extended empire in decline: when you can't "win," spin and cut your losses.

Aiken was a Senator from Vermont from 1941 through 1975. He supported much of the New Deal and was dubious about world-wide military engagement. In fact he was just the sort of liberal Republican (now extinct) that Barack Obama seems to be. Would that Obama had a little bit more of his savvy and enough stuffing to run with it.

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