What’s the Goal?

Obama and Afghanistan:

As the cold and snow gets ready to come, there is a real sense that
it’s the last best time to turn the tide against the militants. We
know from today’s discussion at the White House that there is no plan
to remove troops from Afghanistan, where this year President Obama has
already added 21,000 soldiers. Even Vice-President Biden’s
recommendation of a surgical approach against Al-Qaeda does not involve
a draw down. Perhaps the number will not be 40,000 troops, but I find
it hard to think that there won’t be some escalation. We might have
been there for eight years, but the war for the hearts and minds of
Afghanistan only began this year.

You know, the editors of The Poor Man were the ones who said, about Iraq, that once you fuck the dog, the dog is fucked. It can’t be unfucked. You can not fuck the dog again, you can resolve to never fuck any dog anywhere ever for the rest of your life, but you can’t unfuck that particular dog in that particular instance. I don’t know how you screw up a war, and then un-screw it up. Especially since literally no one including all the Republicans getting ready to hang this war around Obama’s neck can define for America what winning looks like.

No violence? None at all? “Acceptable” levels? How many dead kids are acceptable? No Taliban? We didn’t give a damn about the Taliban and the plight of women in Afghanistan until 9/11 and then we only wanted some shit to get blowed up, so don’t tell me this is about the Taliban. The destruction of Al Qaeda? How on earth … Some kind of sicko math where only X suicide bombings means everybody can come home? If anyone out there has an answer to this I’d love to hear it because right now winning seems to mean … good stuff, and I don’t know what signs we’re looking for.

And from reading about the meeting it’s pretty clear I’m not the only one confused:

were a number of people who spoke out with a lot of caution about
getting in deeper and what the endpoint is,” Mr. Levin said in an
interview. Mr. Levin, who promoted accelerated training of Afghan
forces, then met alone with Mr. Obama to expand on his views.

shared their skepticism in interviews. “Clearly, there is hesitancy
about the prospect of sending 40,000 more troops,” said RepresentativeNita M. Lowey, Democrat of New York.

SenatorJohn Kerry,
chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, said after the meeting
that “it would be irresponsible” to send more troops until it became
clear “what is possible in Afghanistan.”


6 thoughts on “What’s the Goal?

  1. I really feel for the folks making the decision on this.
    Whether to go in or not is one decision. What to do with the current situation while we’re already there is another.

  2. There were lots of indicators before 9/11 that the Bushies intended to attack Afghanistan, which has always inclined me to believe that the war was a matter of mixed motives.
    Now that the war is eight years old and, at best, stagnating, all that’s left are the motives. The first, of course, is the military’s inevitable desire for exercise (which immediately is transmuted by hubris into a quest to “win” equalled only by Ahab’s obsession with the white whale), the second, the multinationals’ desire to siphon off hydrocarbons from the `Stans through Afghanistan, and, last, the CFR types’ bullheaded determination to go on playing the Great Game with Russia and China.
    All this might be why the historical admonishments of Afghanistan being the “graveyard of empires” fall on deaf ears. And, too, the CIA’s institutional shortcomings figure into this, as well. When Gorbachev wanted to work out a coalition government upon Soviet withdrawal, George H.W. Bush and the CIA told him to go fuck himself–the CIA wanted to win on its own terms, and, as usual, gave not one whit of consideration for unintended consequences.
    That’s all the decision-making detritus leading up to now. That said, I have a feeling that this war–and the others–would be over in short order if it were against the law to profit on war. At least some of the roots of these wars can be found in Cheney’s 1991 manipulations of the LOGCAP program to further advance the interests of war profiteers…

  3. The odd part is that us going into Afghanistan increased the world supply of poppy-derived products.
    Local populations see this as a highly profitable crop. But the Taliban frowns on it. We went in supposedly with the aim of getting Bin Laden but instead have worked to dismantle the Taliban in favor of an elected govt (if you can ignore the vote fraud).
    Weaker Taliban = more drugs.

  4. There was never a clear achievable strategic goal for Afghanistan. Various goals, varying from plausible to pipe-dream, were thrown about widely by the media to promote the war. Obama’s now got the fun job of cleaning up the mess and has inherited a no-win situation. More troops won’t win the war, since democracy isn’t going to miraculously spring forth from the bodies of dead Afghanis. Pulling is an acknowledgment of failure and makes America look weak. It’s off the table as an option until it becomes blindingly obvious that success is impossible.
    In 8 years no-one has sat down and questioned what they are trying to do and whether it is possible, which is disgusting. The majority of those in charge are unable to see that pissing away $4billion a month in Afghanistan to raise the next generation of terrorist jihadis is a shitty investment. On this economic basis alone, pulling out should be a no-brainer, although the fucked up state of the economy says otherwise.

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