Occasional blogging, mostly of the long-form variety.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Scratch That Victory Itch

Fafblog is always worth checking out, but "Victory Science" is especially timely:

Let us never forget just what's at stake in the war in Afghanistan: nothing less than the success of the war in Afghanistan. This war may be a mistake, a blood-soaked blunder, an unholy charnel house mindlessly consuming the bodies and souls of untold thousands, an open sore on the pockmarked face of history and an abomination before the sight of God and men, but it is first and foremost a war, and wars must be won. If the United States doesn't win this war, then will it not lose it? And if the United States loses this war, then won't the Unites States have lost it? And if the United States has lost this war, will that not then make the United States a kind of thing that loses wars? And then where would we be?

And just as America can't afford to abandon this war, surely it can't afford to abandon the Afghan people, who without the American military would be left to the savage whims of their hated enemy, the Afghan people...

Go over and read the rest. I'll try to cover Afghanistan more in the weeks and months to come, although several other blogs do that very well. Still, an older post, "Iraq and Vietnam: Selling the Stab-in-the-Back Myth," comes to mind...


Cirze said...

Oh, Bat!

Your title is sooooooo droll.

And you are so right.

Thanks for the link, sweetie.


Noni Mausa said...

If we believe we in the west ought to meddle in Afghan affairs, which I don't entirely dismiss, then the real question ought to be "In what way can the west deploy their considerable power and influence to shift Afghan culture in more equitable and reasonable directions?"

Somehow, "By shooting them and dropping bombs" has seemed kind of counterintuitive.

It seems to me that consistently applied, apparently misdirected but carefully targeted strategies might be the way to approach such a cruel, inaccessible and ancient land.

I vaguely grasp that I am clueless as to what these strategies might be. I tried to delineate a couple for inclusion in this comment, but saw they were awfully condescending. Others, familiar with Afghanistan, could do much better.


Batocchio said...

Noni, I'm not sure either - although pretty much everyone knowledgeable I've heard has urged that America get out. I'll post links to their stuff in the coming weeks. I think humanitarian aid and the like definitely has its place, which I think is what you're getting at. However, that probably needs to go through non-governmental organizations (NGOs) or other foreign groups versus the Afghan government, where apparently 75% of funds are wasted to corruption. (NPR had an interview on that last night – the Bushies basically did no auditing, and just pissed away money without oversight or accountability. Shocking, I know.) Those NGOs would probably need some protection, and then there are the questions – are they only located in cities? Are they protected by a joint U.N. force, or mostly Americans? At what point does a defensive force become an occupying power? Will Afghans view them any differently regardless? Even that's thorny.

As you note, the bombing has made the situation worse (a general basically said the same earlier this year), because while they've killed a few enemies, by killing so many civilians, they've radicalized a far greater number of people. Anecdotally, I've heard from a friend with a family member over there that many troops are happy for more troops, because currently, they feel they're undermanned. I don't know how widespread that feeling is.

Here in the U.S., my concern is that the majority of Americans want us out, the majority of Afghans want us out, and most everyone smart that I've heard says the same. Why is it that then, that most Beltway opinion is completely the opposite? There's a small percentage of politicians and pundits who I think acknowledge the risks and are still urging us to stay/escalate, and can explain why. But to me, the vast majority seem to want us to stay for partisan, ideological or psychological reasons. I think Fafblog nails the last two. It's not as if Joe Lieberman or most of the other hawks are speaking to Americans as adults; it's just the same old bullshit about an ill-defined (and perhaps unobtainable) victory. That's even before we get into their corrupt and/or nonsensical position of "no social services or domestic spending, but deficits be damned when it's war!" I wrote a series of posts for 11/11 Armistice Day, and have the same questions – if we should stay, okay, make the case and do it honestly – but why are the popular view, and (to my mind) the position of basic sanity and wisdom, slimly represented and often outright derided in Beltway Conventional Wisdom?

Anonymous said...

Why are politicians unable to say that the war was a stupid thing to get into so we are going to quit being stupid and get out? America's machismo will not be harmed in the minds of the evil drooling dictators lurking in the shadows. The evil doers will be shocked that the U.S. was smart enough to drop a bad strategy for one that makes sense rather than the one that only profits a segment of the economy. It is time that segment of the business community learns to respect life more than money and finds an alternative means of making profit.

A similar argument was made about Vietnam. If the U.S. quit the war in Vietnam its leaders would appear weak. The devil is in the details. The weakness U.S. leaders were afraid of exposing to the world was their inability to make Americans blindly follow bad foreign policy.

If our leaders order soldiers to ambush a few South American nuns on an outing with a group of orphans, "it is not theirs to reason why; it is theirs to do or die." When did that concept become an "American" value? If ordered to torture a restrained unarmed human being it is a soldier's duty to refuse to commit the immoral, criminally insane act. In modern America doctors, (do no harm,) and psychiatrists, (professional educated class,) participated in developing torture techniques and helped devise rules of torture. Those professionals should also known as sick bastards. "I was following orders," and "I objectively applied my scientific knowledge for national security," is an acceptable justification only to other sick bastards.

At one time in American history it was believed that American soldiers had a duty to disobey an unlawful order, but that thought existed when Americans were proud of being independent thinkers and had the right to decide if they would participate in belligerent invasions of foreign countries. The American people are free agents capable of making moral and rational decisions not to participate in illegal mass murder and torture.

The military's mission is to protect the Constitution from foreign and domestic enemies. It is not a professional hit squad at the disposal of the executive branch. It was that idea that made Bush's attempt to create a military czar subordinate to the executive branch a threat to the Constitution and all Americans.