Tuesday, July 21, 2009

We Americans Can’t Face the Truth about Afghanistan - Yet

The English, however, are always ahead of the curve.

"Hell is truth seen too late...duty neglected in its season."
- Tryon Edwards
I hate to be negative. It would be quite irresponsible of me to be deliberately negative. Every time I write about foreign lands, far from my quiet central California coast, I say to myself,
"Why me?
What presumptions do I exercise,
that I can sally forth and cast
sarcasm, skepticism and pessimism
against the wind?
Especially now
when the White House is occupied
by arguably its smartest or second
smartest resident in my life time?"

Well, I will tell you. I am seven decades old this month, and I have seen all this shit go down before.I do not think I am shouting against the wind. Denial is a peculiar American trait. We not see geopolitical hurricanes before they arrive - long after they've appeared on others' radar screens.
Lately, I've been looking over the shoulders of some Brits and observing their CRTs'. What I see squares completely with what I've been feeling
for some time in my old bones.

The The U.K.’s conservative Daily Express declares the Afghanistan war lost:
….. After the losses of the past few days, this half-hearted approach has become utterly unsustainable. Britain and indeed the whole of NATO must now decide whether this fiendishly difficult bid to tame a hitherto untamable land is worth all the blood that is being spilt.

This newspaper’s assessment is that the chance of outright victory in Afghanistan vanished the moment US and British forces went into Iraq. The focus on Afghanistan was lost and the coalition against terror broke up. There is now little prospect of the rest of NATO committing wholeheartedly to the fight against the Taliban. In a war of attrition, such as is presently being fought, victory will not be achieved, but heavy losses will certainly be sustained. Our brave soldiers deserve far better than that.

….. when a military entanglement has no plan, no metrics for success and no end in sight. The Tories are just getting out ahead of the curve.

….. renowned British military historian Correlli Barnett ….. that Britain must unilaterally withdraw from Afghanistan.

Why won't an American journalist confront the Obama administration and simply ask them, "How will we know when we've won?" Unless they can answer that in tangible terms, all we're doing is condemning more troops to death…..
The obvious answer is that we do not have a Cronkite to take full measure of this Afghanistan project of Obama's and tell us what the score is.

Correlli Barnet of the Daily Mail asks another question,
Who has the guts to pull out?

We should remember, they say, that thanks to the Western occupation, five million Afghan children now go to primary school, compared with one million in 2001. Surely that makes our servicemen's sacrifice worthwhile?

Yet many of us, especially those who have worn the King's or Queen's uniform, or know about our military history, believe it is not the role of the British Armed Forces to fight and die so that foreign children can go to school. Their proper role is, or ought to be, to safeguard the wealth and security of the British people - in short, to defend the British realm.

…. The toppling of the Taliban regime in 2001 has not prevented a string of Al-Qaeda outrages, including Madrid in 2004 and London in 2005.

….. the London bombings were perpetrated by British-born Muslims with no direct connection either to the Taliban or Al-Qaeda. The truth is that Al-Qaeda is no longer an organization centered on Afghanistan, but a global franchise.

….. The Duke of Wellington once said that the real test of a general was to know when to retreat and dare to do it. A cool-headed and objective examination of the military and political evidence about the state of play in Afghanistan ought to convince HM Government that Britain must retreat from Afghanistan, and that they must now dare to announce a future date for this.

…..It would take more moral courage on the Government's part to distance Britain from President Obama's positively Bushite pursuit of 'victory' in Afghanistan, and announce a firm date for the final evacuation of British forces.

….. But without such a brave decision, British servicemen and women will go on pointlessly dying, while a more and more disillusioned nation simply wants our troops home - - not in coffins draped with the Union Flag, but marching through cheering crowds.
Simon Jenkins of the Guardian, has an answer:
Britain must tell Obama: the alliance of denial has to end.

..... Diplomacy, your hour has come. There is no way soldiers will find an exit from Afghanistan. They can deliver defeat or they can deliver bloody stalemate. They cannot deliver victory and every observer knows it. This conflict will end only when the courage being daily demanded of soldiers is also shown by politicians.

..... Obama made a serious error on coming to power. To honour his pledge to disown Iraq he felt obliged to "adopt" Afghanistan. What had begun as a punitive raid on the Taliban for harbouring Osama bin Laden morphed into a neocon campaign of regime change, counter-insurgency and nation-building. Obama rashly identified himself with this crusade and leapt from the frying pan of Iraq into the fire of the Hindu Kush.

..... Terrorism does not need bases. The 9/11 attacks were planned in Germany. The safety of Britain's streets is secured not by boys dying in poppy fields, but by sound intelligence and domestic policing. We learned last week that MI5's former head, Eliza Manningham-Buller, specifically warned the government that British security would be harmed by intervention abroad. Ministers know this. Why do they lie?

..... as it suited Bush to identify the Taliban with al-Qaida, so it should now suit Obama to do the opposite. The Taliban has never shown any interest in international terrorism, only in ridding their country of foreigners. On this truth should some eventual deal be built.

The idea of establishing a western-style democracy is dead. The dreams of Kabul's NGO groupies, to install technocrats or elevate women or eradicate poppies, have vanished in a morass of corruption and aid extravagance.

..... Only colonialists build nations, and the will for empire was never present.

..... The Canadians, who have suffered terrible losses, have shown their sovereignty by signalling their intention to leave in 2011. Why not Britain?

The denouement will come only from negotiation. For British generals and politicians to talk of fighting in Helmand "for decades" is absurd, not least as neither the British public nor the Taliban believe it. Like the Canadians, they should give a date for withdrawal, to stop wasting British lives and to isolate Obama in his wrong-headed policy.

..... Tony Blair's failure to influence Bush over Iraq was humiliating. The mix of political obsequiousness and diplomatic smugness Washington detected in Britain then is being replicated today over Afghanistan .....
Dear readers, depending on your age, here's the truth without jokes: we are ensnared in the 2nd costly military quagmire in your lifetime, and the 3rd in my lifetime.