Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
January 28, 2009

Obama Has No Afghanistan Strategy

There was a lot of talk about a new Obama strategy in Afghanistan. But according to War Secretary Gates' yesterday testimony, there is none.

McClatchy:

Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Tuesday outlined a complicated and at times contradictory set of goals for the U.S. presence in Afghanistan, in a Capitol Hill appearance that highlighted the challenges the administration faces in devising a new U.S. strategy there.

Giving his first congressional testimony under his new boss, President Barack Obama, Gates called the Afghan army and police the "exit ticket for all of us," yet he conceded that the Afghan government is too poor to support those forces long term.

The envisioned Afghan army and police force will cost $4 billion a year while the total Afghan GDP is $800 million. That somehow does not look sustainable. 

According to the NYT, Obama's administration now sees Karzai as the main problem:

Mr. Karzai is now seen as a potential impediment to American goals in Afghanistan, the officials said, because corruption has become rampant in his government, contributing to a flourishing drug trade and the resurgence of the Taliban.
...
They said that the Obama administration would work with provincial leaders as an alternative to the central government, and that it would leave economic development and nation-building increasingly to European allies, so that American forces could focus on the fight against insurgents.

It was the U.S. who pressed for a centralized government in Afghanistan, against its tradition. Now the Afghan president constitutionally appoints the governors. How does it now expect to be able to work around Karzai with those governors, when he can fire them any day? Oh - simple - let's install a new puppet ...

Leaving economic development (and the bill for it) to Europeans will not work either. It is impossible to implement development during ongoing uncoordinated military operations.

Asked about more development in Afghanistan Gates said:

“If we set ourselves the objective of creating some sort of Central Asian Valhalla over there, we will lose,” Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, who served under Mr. Bush and is staying on under Mr. Obama, told Congress on Tuesday.

Valhalla is where the dead warriors go to serve Odin. Did Gates really mean that or is he lacking education? Then again sending more soldiers to Afghanistan is certainly a way to create a lot of new Valhalla denizens.

Mr. Obama is preparing to increase the number of American troops in Afghanistan over the next two years, perhaps to more than 60,000 from about 34,000 now. But Mr. Gates indicated Tuesday that the administration would move slowly, at least for now. He outlined plans for an increase of about 12,000 troops by midsummer but cautioned that any decision on more troops beyond that might have to wait until late 2009, given the need for barracks and other infrastructure.

The same NYT piece accuses NATO of not "fulfilling its promises." Imagine then how Gates' backtracking on U.S. commitments will be received in other countries. Those expectations are high. The Globe and Mail writes:

As Canadian troops wait for an influx of as many as 60,000 U.S. soldiers this year, senior military officials have quietly adjusted their goals. In western Kandahar province's Zhari district, the birthplace of the Taliban movement, the key word is "holding" territory.

60,000 (mistakenly) expected, 12,000 to come - somehow those U.S. allies, who are now barely holding ground, may be miffed about that?

Back to the NYT:

Mr. Gates added that the United States should focus on limited goals. “My own personal view is that our primary goal is to prevent Afghanistan from being used as a base for terrorists and extremists to attack the United States and our allies, and whatever else we need to do flows from that objective,” he said.

This is a stupid argument. "Terrorists and extremists" do not need Afghanistan as a base. The 9/11 pilots were trained in the United States, not in Afghanistan. So how is this whole Afghanistan issue supposed to make sense?

What I perceive is that the Obama administration now sees Afghanistan as the 'tar baby' that it is and that Bush left to them. It can not really let it go, but it will also not commit the resources, civil and/or military, to better the situation there. It will simply prolong the quagmire.

The overextended forces there will simply try to hold ground and fight to preserve their lines of communication by bombing civilians. That will certainly not work. The resistance will increase and the retreat will become inevitable. The U.S. commander there demanded 30,000 more troops, Obama/Gates will send 12,000, reduce development commitments and shun the president they installed there.

That is not a strategy, but a mess that will end with lot of dead people and a retreat under fire.

Posted by b on January 28, 2009 at 12:10 UTC | Permalink

Comments

Gates is only there to be sacrificed when an actual plan emerges. Nobody in the administration knows enough to do anything yet. The continued killing I'd interpret as inertial at this point.

Posted by: ...---... | Jan 28 2009 14:22 utc | 1

My take has been that as Karzai has complained more and more about US bombing and raids killing civilians, he has lost more and more support from his puppet masters.

Autonomous puppets are not, to the puppet masters, "good" puppets.

Is there corruption that is Karzai's fault? Perhaps, but he does not have much influence beyond a very, very small area controlled, essentially, by US forces. And the powers given to him by the US.

Most likely it's his demanding the killings stop, that he have a say in targeting and authorization of targets, that is irritating to Washington.

Oh, and his talking about the civiians deaths? Getting in the Western media with that? Especially the US MCM*. That's probably the biggest problem, at least as far as the puppet masters are concerned.

Funny that: Had the US and BushCo not made a really big deal out of Karzai, prominently seating him at a State of the Union speech with that great outfit he wears, having him address Congress, most likely the MCM would simply ignore him or Page 18A him. But the US helped make him into a celebrity, so the MCM still pays some attention to him. Heh.

*MCM--Mainstream Corporate Media

Posted by: jawbone | Jan 28 2009 14:25 utc | 2

John Nagl-- COIN "expert" and former Petraeus horse-holder:

“The additional 30,000 American forces on tap for deployment to Afghanistan over the next year are sorely needed, but obviously insufficient.

"The essence of success is counterinsurgency, which requires boots on the ground, and plenty of them — 20 to 25 counterinsurgents for every 1,000 people, or some 600,000 for all of Afghanistan, a country larger and more populous than Iraq. The additional 30,000 American forces on tap for deployment to Afghanistan over the next year are sorely needed, but obviously insufficient to protect all 30 million people in the country."
http://www.cnas.org/node/684

How about the new Afghan Army? Gates says that it is the "exit ticket". Let's look at what the Brookings Institute has reported:

"Out of 85 ANA battalions on paper only one is capable of acting independently, only 30% of ANA forces rank in the top two tiers of combat readiness and 22 battalions are "not yet formed or not reporting".
http://www.brookings.edu/foreign-policy/~/media/Files/Programs/FP/afghanistan%20index/index20080930.pdf

And US general Cone, who's training them, said:

"The Afghans have had a high AWOL rate, absent without leave which "has been under 10 percent and it ran for a good number of months at 5 (percent) to 7 percent and then we had a slight peak as we went into Ramadan and Eid and many of them had problems returning."
http://www.defenselink.mil/transcripts/transcript.aspx?transcriptid=4314

Posted by: Don Bacon | Jan 28 2009 15:07 utc | 3

say waaaa? lol. sorry, it just make me laugh. maybe the ol 'take the war to afghanistan' was just a get tough campaign message. beyond that, afghanis don't really do centralized gov well. the coin crowd has been crowing about a karzi replacement. herding cats, good luck w/that.

primary goal is to prevent Afghanistan from being used as a base for terrorists and extremists

that's easy enough. get out of their back yard. that would take the wind out of their sails.

Gates is only there to be sacrificed when an actual plan emerges.

Gates is only there so obama doesn't take the fall for this fiasco being dead in the water from day 1.

any decision on more troops beyond that might have to wait until late 2009

friedman units? maybe by late 09 we will hear 'any decision on more troops beyond that might have to wait until spring 2010'.

Posted by: annie | Jan 28 2009 15:21 utc | 4

From Tinker to Evers to Chance . . . the old double play.

The war in Afghanistan has nothing to do with Afghanistan. It has only to do with war. Any war. Anywhere. Any reason at all will do.

It's a jobs program.

From Congress to Pentagon to Defense Industry . . . the old double play. The money flows by the hundreds of billions, keeping industry busy, keeping materiel flowing, keeping campaign coffers full, keeping jobs going in every single Congressional District in the nation. This sacred bastion of money and power behind the American government and American nation is the true shadow government. No American President will ever be permitted to shut it down.

A deal has been brokered to back off on the warmongering habits accrued during the Bush years.

What would this great circle of moneymen and makers of war waste do without a war to waste materiel upon, somewhere in the world? Especially after 8 years of unrestrained budget busting special appropriations for the Iraq War, it would be a horrible shock to suddenly settle both of America's lost wars overseas, and scale back on weapons and ammo and the militarization of space, and a new generation of nukes, and crowd control devices, and Star Wars, and . . .

A deal has been brokered to back off. Afghanistan is Obama's way of easing the shadow government off their greenback high from the Bush years, keeping these industries and powerful people intact while they wind down their high flying corporate and military and campaign budgets.

It was getting very seriously out of hand. The Pentagon 'could not account' for a couple trillion dollars. The GOP was working hard on restarting the Cold War. They are even now pushing the concept of setting aside a full 4% of America's GDP up front for the Pentagon's use (the so-called Four Percent for Freedom effort the Republicans are pushing in Congress).

A deal has been made. One war, to wind things down gradually, so that the American defense industry does not collapse, or suffer precipitous losses. No cold turkey withdrawal from limitless funding for limitless wars.

One war only. It's a jobs program.

The deal is understood around the world. Russia announced today that they are scrapping plans for a new generation of missile defenses, as recognition that America will back off the war mongering somewhat. Russia has also offered to assist America in keeping supply lines open in Afghanistan, so that it there is not a total disaster when Pakistan closes the Khyber Pass to American convoys.

In short, the war in Afghanistan is pursued to give the Congressional to Military to Defense Industry circle a war. One war only.

It's freaking Afghanistan -- there can be no genuine goals there except to waste funds and materiel, which is the profiteer's only goal in fomenting conflict, terror, fear, and war.

It's a jobs program. It's manufactured waste. If the Pentagon were in charge of America's bridges, instead of its defense, they would go around the country building awesome bridges, and then blowing them up, and then building them again, and then blowing them up, in an endless circle consuming a full 4% of GDP. And in ten years, a full 5%. And so on.

Afghanistan is a jobs program.

Posted by: Antifa | Jan 28 2009 15:27 utc | 5

Interesting post, thanks

I wonder if Gates reference to Afghanistan as being Valhalla, was admitting that there isn't a military solution to the problems in Afghanistan? I'm sure there are several militarist creeps behind the scenes who would love to keep playing war; but Gate's public statement might be trying to start a dialog to yank the U.S. out of Afghanistan rather than let these wannabe Patton types keep killing american troops (I doubt he cares about the locals much).

I don't think there is anything said or done in politics, that gets reported on, that doesn't have larger meaning to the group of insiders playing the game. That said, there have been some interesting "symbolic" moments take place as U.S. administrations changed.

The public "flub" made during the swearing-in of Obama, who was using Lincoln's bible at the time; then during a private ceremony, he was "properly" sworn-in without the bible.

Dickhead Cheney (it turns my gut just to type his name), was pushed around in a wheelchair during the inauguration; a pulled back muscle was the official reason, but it would be hard to find a more symbolic image of a powerless man. This to me seems a biggie!

Maybe Gates is admitting that the only part of Afghanistan worth saving is the parts with the poppies. The rest of the place is still a long-way from building ski lifts and condo associations, hence any real "profit."

The world is a mess and from what I can tell, there doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason to it. The big wars, not just the modern ones, but historic campaigns to conquer lands, have had some kind of military strategy motivating who was attacked and where.

Now corporations are blatantly running the global show with their corporate goals in mind, and trying to use corporate tactics (manipulating international laws, payoffs, ect) fighting hot wars that make no strategic sense and can't be maintained.

I guess I just need to realize wars are simply distractions to keep people from noticing who's stealing what. Most wars can be explained as big countries playing god in small countries at the behest of corporations to steal resources rather than paying for them.

Posted by: David | Jan 28 2009 15:32 utc | 6

annie

it would seem to be an infinite fiasco

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Jan 28 2009 15:37 utc | 7

Post 1-5,

You folks are really good, really good! What a cool, informed bunch of comments, Thanks! (sorry too much coffee maybe)

Posted by: David | Jan 28 2009 15:41 utc | 8

The central problem of American foreign policy is not Afghanistan. The central problem is defining the empire's goals. It was easy enough for them to say that they want to run the world. But that looks increasingly unlikely in today's independent minded world. So what's the fallback position? In the best case, they might temporarily get control of Iraq and Afghanistan. But that would tie the warmongers down to the point where any other hot spot would be tough to deal with.

At another level, it's not clear which half of the energy security complex is ascendant. The merchants of death want to continue thriving off of instability. Big Oil half desperately needs long term stability so that it can maximize returns from its colonial possessions. Bottom line, they don't know what they are doing, because they're working at cross purposes.

Posted by: JohnH | Jan 28 2009 15:58 utc | 9

The administration has to cut through this cacaphony of contradictory briefings and find a way to ward off Dolchstoss attacks from the right, when the war is eventually perceived to be lost. Cause that's the trap, leave the opposing faction a lost cause and blame em for losing it. Even with a graceful exit under a Status of Forces Agreement, they'll still have people hanging off the helicopter skids in the Karzai enclaves when they get overwhelmed. If all goes well for the right, in 2012 they'll be running on two post-occupation bloodbaths and a mild depression.

Posted by: ...---... | Jan 28 2009 16:32 utc | 10

Antifa: you riff like Bob Dylan! Put it to music!

Posted by: seneca | Jan 28 2009 17:30 utc | 11

@5 It's a jobs program. It's manufactured waste. If the Pentagon were in charge of America's bridges, instead of its defense, they would go around the country building awesome bridges, and then blowing them up, and then building them again, and then blowing them up, in an endless circle consuming a full 4% of GDP. And in ten years, a full 5%. And so on.

Reminds me of Grumman buses and Teledyne Titan(ium) bicycles. Self-destruction, it's built right in!

Afghanistan is just the relatively cheaper version of Iraq- Intentional quagmire in order to maintain an outpost in the area. No quantifiable definition of success.

Posted by: biklett | Jan 28 2009 18:02 utc | 12

Antifa your post is really excellent wrapping the whole sordid mess up rather succinctly without pulling any punches, nor throwing any unnecessarily.

Posted by: James Crow | Jan 28 2009 18:41 utc | 13

Antifa, I actually came to the same conclusion. Not just a jobs programme - other military projects could be used for that - but a political front to keep warmongers happy. To keep up the imperialist pretense. To be seen to do something against "terrorists", where Osama bin Laden is supposed to be near by. Not to be put into the anti-war corner.
Obama has started to run for the second term. No matter what happens he has to look good.

Posted by: outsider | Jan 28 2009 19:02 utc | 14

http://www.spiegel.de/politik/ausland/0,1518,604137,00.html

what is this? translation German Afghanistan commander refuses US-commander's order to attack the drug business as part of the fight against the insurgency?

Posted by: outsider | Jan 28 2009 19:29 utc | 15

Facts on the ground make it plain that the Afghanistan War is really a War on the Pashtuns, a cross border war upon Waziristan, Baluchistan, and by default upon Pakistan in general. That black ink border between Afghanistan and Pakistan exists only on maps originally drawn by mustached men of Rudyard Kipling's era. It does not exist on the ground.

And, due to unforeseen circumstances worldwide, the war in Afghanistan is on a budget from here on out, forcing even America to draw lines around just what, and how much is possible. Which is why Obama has let it be known that America will double its troop count in country, but will only concentrate on military missions while strongly encouraging the international community to come in and rebuild Afghanistan. Obama phoned Australia's Prime Minister Rudd this week, after which Australia announced that they were open to sending more troops to Afghanistan to help.

Nation building help is being arranged from all sides. America's Joint Defense Chief Admiral Mullen announced this morning that "India has a key role to play" in this "regional conflict".

"And certainly Iran, as a bordering state, plays a role as well," says Mullen.

This morning, Japan and Iran announced a joint effort for the reconstruction of Afghanistan. NATO has long since gotten involved in rebuilding Afghanistan. The EU citizens who fund ultimately fund NATO need to hear that they are painting schools and building roads to go along with the adventure.

Alas, not everyone has the shekels to share in this open-ended effort. Holland, Canada, and England are pulling out, period, no matter what Obama is offering. Apparently they want to spend on their own citizens for a while.

Imagine that.

Posted by: Antifa | Jan 28 2009 19:47 utc | 16

http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,604183,00.html

that is the English translation

Posted by: outsider | Jan 28 2009 20:03 utc | 17

Speaking of the homefront...

Obama lawyers set to defend Yoo

Obama lawyers set to defend Yoo
By: Josh Gerstein
January 28, 2009 09:49 AM EST

In Democratic legal circles, no attorney has been more pilloried than former Bush Justice Department official John Yoo, chief author of the so-called torture memos that Barack Obama last week sought to nullify.

But now President Obama’s incoming crew of lawyers has a new and somewhat awkward job: defending Yoo in federal court.

What's that about? Does he not have full control of the military or the D.O.J?

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Jan 28 2009 20:17 utc | 18

So Craddock has decided he wants to control the opium trade? That is the only conclusion to be drawn from the article outsider linked to. Craddock must have served in Colombia, this is standard Latin American strategy. If he declares war on all drug traders as he plans to do, without requiring that their links to the insurgency be shown or even known, that can only mean he wants to control the trade himself.
He can't stop the farmers growing O since that is the only thing that keeps em from starving. There is no viable alternative crop, so whether Craddock intends it or not the result of this 'war against O' will be amerikan control of the global opiate market for the first time since the 1960's.
It looks like humanity's period of 'over stimulation' is coming to an end, Coke and Meth which have dominated the culture from the mid 70's, will be replaced by smack and other downers once more.

Posted by: Debs is dead | Jan 28 2009 20:29 utc | 19

Nice set of comments here.


It's been broached here before often enough, but the Arrakis analogy is feeling particularly apt today. It's a war for the opium / the fossil fuels and the power that goes with them ... but the Sardaukar-Marines are only invincible until they are beaten, and CHOAM follows profits and will not always side with the current Ruling House.

One problem: if the Fremen-Taliban ever did get something like a Muad'dib -- well, consider that the taboo against atomics is not nearly as strong for the real-life Imperium.

Posted by: Cloud | Jan 28 2009 20:49 utc | 20

Well put Antifa, because the hallmark characteristic of a jobs program is it's (pointless) make work orientation - or in other words, it's detachment of means from ends, or the means become the ends. Once again classic vicious circle reasoning, where the means end up working at counter purpose to ends, and eventually destroy the ends. Ask any crack head, wife beater, or imperial fascist gambler.
Of course, all his talk of surge in Afghanistan is to re-inflate the ruse born in Iraq, that the drop in violence was directly related to the escalation in troop numbers - presented as bait for Obama to amplify the crises in Afghanistan, to esacerbate the problems of occupation in order to gin up renewed domestic support for the WOT.
I'm not so convinced he'll take the bait, in spite of the evidence so far, to do so. There's a reason for Gates to be where he is, doing what he's doing.

Posted by: anna missed | Jan 28 2009 20:50 utc | 21

Debs is dead, you are right!

http://www.military.com/NewsContent/0,13319,117024,00.html

Posted by: outsider | Jan 28 2009 21:02 utc | 22

The war in Afghanistan has nothing to do with Afghanistan. It has only to do with war. Any war. Anywhere. Any reason at all will do.

Indeed, brilliantly boiled down (to it's essence) analysis as always Antifa!

However, I'm an emic/etic kinda thinker, in other words, overt and covert what you have so pithily described is indeed the overt, but lets go underneath for a moment. Of course this is high speculation, because we aren't allowed to know.

Debs is dead, hit's the other head in that of the black ops drug trade... and which I add, the sex trade...

The covert reason for staying and murdering as many noncompliant locals as possible is the resurrection of the multi-billion dollar opium trade and its massive benefits and nuances that come with it , for terror organizations like the CIA (and other American terror generating entities) funding of their black ops globally with their heroin slush funds.

Of course all of their ill gotten opium booty is filtered through the hands of crooked neoliberal bankers. Just like their South American black money creation schemes.

The overt has to do with the octopus of the Bush/Cheney crime families. Of which Sec of War, Gates, is very much a part of. The reason I keep incessantly bringing these thing home is because it is a bifurcation, of one modality, at home so abroad, above so below.

For instance, the John Yoo, link above, I suspect is the result of the clash of one old time veteran power broker verses another, the new breed, what's the saying, when elephants fight it's the grass that suffers? ;the Bushco team has embedded their influence so deep, and their dark alliance is so entrenched that the Obama team is going to play hell (prolly the whole of his term) prying the tentacles away from the goods.

As for Yoo, Obama and his team can't afford to expose to much of the Bush game. What we are seeing, as I have said before are two different mafia families, i.e., gang's competing for the metropolis and international booty.


Posted by: Uncle $cam | Jan 28 2009 22:42 utc | 23

These things can't be compartmentalized, into Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, at home, etc... there is a meta-narrative, a synthesis, however, I will post my thoughts on Yoo, further on the open thread, if anyone is interested.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Jan 28 2009 22:51 utc | 24

Agree with Antifa. And I think the shadow government (the MIC, who else?) will be Obama's biggest problem. Military Keynesianism all over again. I hope it doesn't all end in tears. Our NATO allies should be beating a path out of Afghanistan, while they still can. Any pressure to help diminish military temptations to escalate in country, will not be wasted effort.

Posted by: Copeland | Jan 28 2009 23:28 utc | 25

Agreed. Any war is a deadly jobs program. What excess males are good for. Even better if the males are volunteers.

Afghanistan illustrates that each generation has to learn its own lessons all over. “It don’t mean nothing” is the attitude that got one through the big Green Machine in Vietnam. But what hurts worse than it was all for nothing was that not a god damn thing was learned from that war.

Sooner or later, if America is really lucky, after Pakistan had cut off access to Afghanistan due to a fundamentalist coup due to the Predator bombing campaign; the last troopers will retreat across the Friendship Bridge into Uzbekistan. And just like the Soviet Union, the American Empire will fade into history.

Posted by: VietnamVet | Jan 29 2009 2:28 utc | 26

I'm with Antifa. It's a jobs program. War's a dependable capital source.

Opium is also a great source of financial liquidity. The Amerikan banks need a capital flow from somewhere.

Posted by: kelley b. | Jan 29 2009 2:55 utc | 27

Irony alert....

Be sure to check out the first two comments, too...lol

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Jan 29 2009 3:31 utc | 28

reminds me of a conversation i overheard last week. found myself sitting in a waiting room & the only other souls in there were a couple of middle-aged ladies of rural origins. one picked up a copy of the local fishwrap

there's our new president

yup

says he's gonna bring the boys back home from eye-raq

well, i guess that's a good thing. but what's he gonna do with them?

Posted by: b real | Jan 29 2009 3:47 utc | 29

Maybe he's just trying to hide some really bad trackmarks from CIA inauguration parties overflowing with heroin and 12-year-olds... Or is it a simple case of bong arm?

Posted by: David | Jan 29 2009 4:02 utc | 30

For VietnamVet @#27 and our other vets...

doppelganger

I read in the paper that another Vietnam Veteran
in this two block town took a shotgun blast to the head

he survived by wife & two teenage children
services for immediate family only

I checked the address twice
it wasn't mine
---

The wail of anonymity
Stripped to the waist

he slammed a brookstick against the ceiling, screaming as he went,"Turn that goddamn television down!"&the old lady upstairs never heard him. Every night the same-an incredibly loud tv turned to games shows&local news-&the numerous flushes of the toilet. He knew her habits as well as she-he just hated her more.

They never saw each others face.

But they lived together

bed bug style.


-Bill Shields, The Southeast Asian Book Of The Dead. Nam Poems (1987)

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Jan 29 2009 4:44 utc | 31

All the praisers of Antifa's first comment ("it's a jobs program") miss an important point: the war in AFghanistan is supposed to be a gentle landing for the defense industry, a slow winding down from the lavish excesses of the neocon era.

I hope this is true; but it may also be more of a "bridge", a temporary pause, until we can figure out where else to profitably waste some lives and treasure.

Posted by: seneca | Jan 29 2009 4:57 utc | 32

Great post, B, and great comments to follow it.

I've been trying to read thru the Gates dissing of Obama, cuz our MSM/MCM is leaving out a lot of relevant details (like the 4 Star Craddock's memo to take out drug dealers, ect).

Now I see Gates IS dissing Omama, cuz he's the fall guy for this whole affair, and Obama set him up nicely.

Only Gates can't tell HIS truth, cuz that exposes HIS complicity and work with BushCo in being a part of this royal scam all along. So all Gates can do is diss Obama, and hope his legacy survives with dignity.

Again, incredible and insightful comments up above, war as a jobs program, CIA/USA looking to take over the opium trade, etc.

Sooner we are out, the better off we will be, our economy is trashed, and no amount of war can help the middle and lower classes in USA. It's time to rebuild at home, and I hope Obama is gonna begin the rebuilding. Be it for altruistic purposes, or as suggested above, just to tone down the looting on the planet, it's a start in the right direction.

We must hold feet to fire. And even then, I'm not sure this war machine is stoppable. It's too well entrenched into every facet of our existence. Like Milo and his ops in Catch 22.

Thanks to all for a GREAT read.

Posted by: Laure | Jan 29 2009 6:24 utc | 33

China Hand offers some comments on Obama's predicament in Afghanistan.


America’s stated strategic posture under both Bush and the new Obama administration is, of course, unchanged: turning around Afghanistan, cleaning up the tribal areas of western Pakistan/eastern Afghanistan, and tilting toward India.

And, given the welter of conflicting, inconvenient, and politically explosive interests surrounding any major policy change, the temptation will be great to stay the course with the same murderous muddling that has characterized America’s South Asia policy over the last years.

However, I would say that the most practical objective for Mr. Obama would be to keep the Afghan turd swirling aimlessly in the foreign policy commode for the rest of his administration, but chunk enough troops in there to make sure that, in 2012, the Republicans are not running campaign ads showing triumphant Taliban reoccupying the presidential palace in Kabul on his watch…

…while focusing some of America’s attention and energy on protecting and preserving Pakistan’s democratic government and society.

Posted by: Hannah K. O'Luthon | Jan 29 2009 6:39 utc | 34

Keeping in the spirit of this thread, http://www.thewashingtonnote.com/archives/2009/01/no_team_of_riva/#comments>Steve Clemens takes note of Obama's economic team - essentially the same casino-capitalist scumbags that created this mess we're in.

Posted by: anna missed | Jan 29 2009 7:29 utc | 35

Did anyone else catch the Boeing tribute to Dr. King?


Boeing Donates $1 Million to Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial

hahahaha... it's not the hysterical laughter that bothers me, it's my inability to stop...


History, Hypocrisy, and Empire

By Larry Pinkney


The so-called democracy of the powerful U.S. elite continues to live up to its legacy of hypocrisy and deceit.

Now that the spectacle of the Barack Obama coronation as the “American” Empire’s first African-American emperor has run its course, and many, many millions of dollars have been spent on self-adulation by the power elite of this nation, the huddled masses will necessarily be compelled to return to a system of no universal, single-payer health care, increasing joblessness, insatiable corporate / military greed, homelessness, de facto racial disparity & discord, police brutality, a burgeoning U.S. prison population, and endless U.S. wars abroad. For yet again, this nation will have done what it all too often does: perverted its promise, including the dream of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., into a hypocritical nightmare of gigantic and historic proportions.[*]

For the majority of Black, Brown, White, Red, and Yellow peoples, the “dream” to which the late Langston Hughes referred [in the poem A Dream Deferred] has not only been “deferred,” it has been obscenely and grotesquely disfigured and distorted into something almost beyond recognition. Barack Obama’s presidency is not a step forward nor is it a step towards the fulfillment of the struggles by Nat Turner, John Brown, Harriet Tubman, Malcolm X, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and so very many others. Rather, he is the slick pro-apartheid Zionist antithesis and perversion of the fulfillment of these struggles.

Barack Obama has already begun to repeatedly and shamelessly call upon the people of this nation to make “sacrifice[s],” as if the everyday people of this country have not already made enormous, heart rendering sacrifices. How about having Obama’s elite corporate backers in Lockheed, Goldman Saks, and the insurance and banking industries make some meaningful, ongoing, and painful sacrifices?! How about reversing the government’s criminal financial bail out of the big corporations [which government bail-out Obama enthusiastically supported], and passing those billions upon billions of dollars back directly to the everyday people of this nation - no strings attached?! How about immediately stopping all U.S. wars of aggression, and bringing our men and women in uniform home right NOW - no strings attached?! So many of these men and women have made the ultimate sacrifice in the name of so-called U.S. “national security,” which false “security” has meant their being the perpetual working-class cannon fodder for Halliburton and other avaricious corporate components of the U.S. “military / industrial complex.”

Barack Obama, though the first African-American “presidential” figurehead of the U.S. Empire, is actually the last best hope of continuing U.S. international hegemony under the fake cloak of democracy and justice at home and abroad.

read the rest at the link...

* Note: to bad typepad's three link policy keeps me from linking to all the examples in the second paragraph above, (Pinkney's article) because it would be easy..

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Jan 29 2009 8:52 utc | 36

Afghan presidential election delayed until August

KABUL — Afghanistan's election commission said Thursday that the country's presidential election will be held Aug. 20, when voters around the country will decide whether to keep President Hamid Karzai on the job.

The election falls due this year in the spring, according to the Afghan constitution, but Azizullah Loden, the head of the country's Independent Election Commission, said the security situation is not strong enough to hold elections then.
...
The delay in the vote — which effectively will give Mr. Karzai several more months in office than the five-year term he was elected to — is allowed by a clause in the constitution addressing a lack of security for a peaceful vote, Mr. Loden said.

What is this? Karzai to Biden (who wants him gone). "Screw you!"?

Posted by: b | Jan 29 2009 8:53 utc | 37

b. When you say: "The 9/11 pilots were trained in the United States, not in Afghanistan."

Could you tell us about your take on 911..? :-)

I suppose you know about the works of a Webster Tarpley or a David Griffin..

Posted by: Stephane | Jan 29 2009 8:56 utc | 38

Webster Tarpley or a David Griffin are ignorant at best, dis info agents at worst...

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Jan 29 2009 9:04 utc | 39

"I have a dreamsicle"!

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Jan 29 2009 9:18 utc | 40

good one Uncle LOL, followed by I suppose, "got any spare change?"

Posted by: anna missed | Jan 29 2009 10:30 utc | 41

This Afghan remembrance by B. Rubin is probably not "politically correct" by MOA standards, but is worth reading, and expecially when enriched by the accompanying comments.

Posted by: Hannah K. O'Luthon | Jan 29 2009 10:47 utc | 42

@Stephane @38 - Could you tell us about your take on 911..? :-)

My take: LIH(OP) They Let It Happen (the U.S. authorities knew roughly what was coming - and maybe) On Purpose.

Some have either neglected to react on their knowledge or made a conscious decision to not react.

@Hannah - This Afghan remembrance by B. Rubin is probably not "politically correct" by MOA standards what is "politically correct" by MOA standards?

I have read that a few days ago and found it written like by a confused colonial officer a hundred years ago who has his favorite puppets and dislikes other puppets.
Said shorter - little information within a long tale.

Posted by: b | Jan 29 2009 12:01 utc | 43

b@43-you're funny :)

Posted by: David | Jan 29 2009 14:02 utc | 44

So, we'll soon see the Zenith Group, I mean the US Rangers, "liberate" Afghans's from Hafizullah Amin's, I mean Hamid Karzai's, rule. All these seem very familiar, no?

Posted by: kao_hsien_chih | Jan 29 2009 14:52 utc | 45

b @ 43

Kipling-esque local color doesn't seem to be a popular genre here.
Rubin, of course, is not Kipling's literary peer, but he very likely has an influential circle of admirerers, so his memories may merit some attention.

Posted by: Hannah K. O'Luthon | Jan 29 2009 15:48 utc | 46

Since America is no longer in the business of winning wars, then the only kind of war strategy that Obama must have is one where wars are kept in a perpetual state of motion...

But about the only reason why this is so is because Americans who are profiting heavily from the business of making wars are doing so, not by winning wars, but by keeping them in a perpetual state of motion...

So about the only way for America to get back into the business of winning wars is to enact legislation which is geared towards taking the profit out the business of making wars...

And about the only way to do this is to impose heavy taxes on Americans who are profiting heavily from war profiteering.

Posted by: Cynthia | Jan 29 2009 16:01 utc | 47

Various moves by the Afgh. Gvmgt and Karzai put mustard up the US’ nose. ‘Those ppl’ are supposed to put up silently with bombing, Aids, extreme poverty, lack of development, schooling, corruption (international monies going into the pockets of the usual suspects), and general uncoordinated BS. They are also supposed to let the drug trade be, and work in it for a pittance. And bow down and pray and serve their international masters, or the local potentates who get rich - villa with walls, wire, sat dish, 2 mercedes, 3 wives, 2 chauffeurs, and an entry way with guard, lotsa cash and a hand written ledger...

Not very seemly of them really, even if manifested thru their elected ‘democratic’ (s-elected) representatives. What a pain. Those miserable bastards have to be shown what for. The Taliban, Karzai, teachers, the poor in the mountains, the lot of them...who can figure it out anyway...are they Arabs? etc. etc.

Remind me, what are the US’s (Nato is a poodle) wanting to accomplish? Ah, see Antifa at 5.

To maintain hegemony it is necessary to subjugate others, both the enemy and allies, and to fight..to be seen to be active. Best to pick weak enemies, who can’t fight back ever, and have the ‘war’ last as long as possible. (See also Gaza.) Find a tiny return along the way..drugs, arms, deals, jobs, part of the elites make out like bandits. Like, no - as.

Posted by: Tangerine | Jan 29 2009 19:44 utc | 48

In my openion there is no quick and easy solution to Afghanistan's problem. The biggest problem is and has always been is the fact that washington wants a quick and easy solution to a hard and difficult problem if not an impossible one. Afghanistan has many issues and problems that need to be addressed separately. The international community has been looking for a single formulla to fix many afghanistan's sided problems. If we look back at afghanistan's history at least for the past 15 years we will be able to diagnose some of the main problems then we will be able to come up with solutions. With the fall of Dr Najeeb's communist regime, we witnessed what the so called mujahideen did to the country and the poor people of Afghanistan. There was no peace and security, the country sank in a total chaos and lawessness. It seemed as if some sort of barbarians have invaded the country, they killed 1000s of innocent civilians plundered the national treasures, commited crimes that we can not find their examples in recent history. These criminals and their reign of terror was the very reason for Taliban to rise up and do something about it. Where was the international community at that time?? when the poor people of Afghanistan were giong through all these barbaric and ruthless killings of Dustom, Hazaras, Punjsheries, Zardad and son. What the international community did instead was to over through the Taliban govt. because of a few Arab terrorists and impower the same criminals who had no mercy on poor afghans, once the international community leaves these criminals will be much stronger and once again will start their gangster like rule in different parts of afghanistan. I believe when the Taliban were ousted the US should have asked these criminals to stay away from afghanistan. there wouldn't have been a resergent Taliban, who are these Taliban? they are the majority Pashtoons who are margenalised and pushed to a corner and their arch enemies are armed and supported. The US and international community is fighting northren alliance's war against pushtoons.
continued....

Posted by: sher shah | Feb 1 2009 22:07 utc | 49

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