No Chance Obama’s War in Afghanistan Will Succeed

Obama’s War in Afghanistan Will Fail

“There isn’t the slightest possibility that the course laid out by Barack Obama in his December 1 speech (at West Point) will halt or even slow the downward spiral toward defeat in Afghanistan,” writes Thomas Johnson in the current Foreign Policy magazine. And for emphasis, he adds the word “None.”

“The U.S. president and his advisors labored for three months and brought forth old wine in bigger bottles,” Johnson goes on to write, noting, “The speech contained not one single new idea or approach, nor offered any hint of new thinking about a conflict that everyone now agrees the United States is losing.”

Author Johnson is no armchair admiral. He is a professor of national security affairs at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, a man who has conducted his own on-site investigation in Afghanistan.

Also referring to the President’s West Point address, The Nation magazine editorialized that Obama failed to explain why his goal to “disrupt, dismantle and defeat” Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan “requires 100,000 troops at a cost of nearly $100 billion. By the military’s own calculation, there are at most 100 Al Qaeda operatives, mostly low-level, in Afghanistan, the leadership having fled to Pakistan years ago.”

Even as the Afghan war bids to become the longest in U.S. history, The Nation adds:

“The undeniable fact is that eight years of US occupation and war have led to a growing insurgency, fueled by anger at one of the world’s most corrupt governments, run mostly by former and not-so-former warlords who were installed by the United States after 9/11. Many of these warlords are deeply involved in the opium trade, among them the brother of Hamid Karzai, the president, who was re-elected only through massive fraud.”

Writing in the Miami Herald of December 20th, Carl Hiaasen says that Johnson believes “Obama knows this war is unwinnable, and that the surge is meant to provide political cover in advance of a full U.S. withdrawal before the 2012 election.”

Hiaasen adds, “Obama wouldn’t be the first U.S. president to let domestic political concerns affect his military moves abroad, but he certainly campaigned as a different kind of leader.”

Does this mean Obama is escalating an unwinnable war for political considerations? Hendrik Hertzberg, writing in the December 14th New Yorker, thinks politics has a lot to do with it. An immediate withdrawal, he writes, would inflict “severe” political and diplomatic damage to Obama and trigger, among other things, “a probable Pentagon revolt.” And the Pentagon has left no doubt about the right course. As General David Petraeus, who commands U.S. Iraq and Afghanistan forces, told The New York Times, “a sustained, substantial commitment” is required.

As the war drags on, the death toll mounts. Writing in the December 21st issue of Foreign Policy, Stephen Walt, professor of international relations at Harvard, says by his conservative count, the war has claimed 30,000 lives. And the CIA’s drone warplane sorties authorized by Obama are boosting that toll.

Obama’s strategy is also spreading the war ever deeper into Pakistan. As Dan Pearson and Kathy Kelly report in the December Catholic Worker, 3,000,000 people were uprooted by violence in the Swat Valley and neighboring districts and those who returned found “that their homes, crops and other means of survival had been damaged or destroyed.”

They quote Dr. Aasim Saijad of Lahore University of Management Sciences as saying the attacks in Pakistan are only swelling the Taliban’s ranks. “The hundreds of thousands languishing in refugee camps talk of the mortar shells that have destroyed their homes and killed their relatives,” Saijad said.

“They seethe with anger and warn the government that most Taliban fighters hail from the local population. The longer the war continues—and it has only just begun in this region—the better the chances that the Taliban will be able to recruit from the refugees,” he said.

If Afghans are dying by the thousands and Pakistanis have become refugees by the millions to ensure Obama’s political survival, the U.S. has lost any vestige of moral authority. Is it thinkable to ask what if the purpose of the war is not “victory” but to keep the engines of the military-industrial complex humming? If so, it is not only primitive peoples’ who sacrificed the flower of their youth to ensure a good harvest.

Sherwood Ross


Published by the LA Progressive on December 26, 2009
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About Sherwood Ross

Sherwood Ross has worked as a publicist for Chicago; as a reporter for the Chicago Daily News and workplace columnist for Reuters. He has also been a media consultant to colleges, law schools, labor unions, and to the editors of more than 100 national magazines. A civil rights activist, he was News Director for the National Urban League, a talk show host at WOL Radio, Washington, D.C., and holds an award for "best spot news coverage" for Chicago radio stations for civil rights reporting. He is the author "Gruening of Alaska,"(Best Books)and several plays about Japan during World War II, including "Baron Jiro," and "Yamamoto's Decision," read at the National Press Club, where he is a member. His favorite quotations are from the Sermon on The Mount.

Comments

  1. jason williams says:

    The Obama administration has about 100,000 American personnel in Afghanistan, while there are apparently only 100 Taliban operatives. They carry on a Vietnam-like guerrilla war. What is Obama doing there? Defeating the Taliban is not the cardinal objective. This objective is to set up a puppet regime friendly to the United States, and use Afghanistsn as a base to do the same in Pakistan. Ultimately, Obama, the Pentagon, neo-Cons, and lobbyists concerned with the enemies of Israel aim to make sure no enemy has access to nuclear weapons. Obama has been charged with realizing that mission. He agreed, calculating that his handlers will back him financially in 2012 to endure that he is re-elected. That all there is to Barack Obama’s foreign policy in the Middle East and South West Asia. It’s important to let him know that we see through his transformation–from a game-changer to a Washington game-player.

  2. mwculleton says:

    International Terrorism must be exterminated. Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq ae just the latest version of this post 1968 phenomena. Unless other nations join this cause, you’re right.

  3. Anybody that voted for this man I hope see the error of their ways by now. The speech he gave at West Point not only looked weak to Americans, but looked weak to those at West Point Acadamy & to our enemies. He can not appear stong on anything. The only thing he has appeared stong on is ignoring the Tea Party People, the Townhall people & the rest of the people & Doctors that protested outside the White House. He made fun of the tea baggers & their little tea bags, he has the audacity to go to other countries apologizing for America for being demissive, derrisive & arrogant & let me tell you I do not think we have a darn thing to apologize for to any other country. The one that is demissive, derrisive, & arrogant is Obama. He is so egotistical he will not listen to the American people that do not agree with him, he only listens to those that agree with him & kiss his be-hind all the time. Especially the bias media. He is trying to learn how to be President but is not doing a very good job by ignoring 60% of the American people that do not want rationed,socialized, government run healthcare. What is wrong with people that do not understand government run health care is rationed out, it costs you more money, the government tells the doctors what they can & cannot do & tells them what medicines if any they can prescribe & not prescribe, even if there is a better medication that should be prescribed but the government thinks that is too expensive for you the underdogs you won’t get it. Now the Obama & his administration & the Congressman & the Senators get to keep the best insurance for themselves & their families, & get to keep their paychecks even after they get out of office. What is wrong with you people that think you want the public option? Either you do not know what the public option is or just do not realize that this is government take over & will determine weather you or anyone in your families can live or die. The reality is they cannot cover everybody & even if they could it will still be rationed & this one can get it but the one beside you cannot get that because you are too old or too fat or too skinny or you have to many other medical problems. My Parents & Senior Citizens deserved their Medicare benefits not to be cut by 500B & disrespect & show no compassion especially after they fought in WWll for our freedoms & our Constitutional rights & saved Germany & other countries from Hitler, & Obama & his people want to treat them like 2nd class citizens. Wake up people do you want your parents treated like this, your children & spouse treated like this, do you like loosing all your rights to a socialized government that thinks they can just ignore the Constitution of the United States? Do you want cap & trade to raise your electic bills so high you cannot afford them? Is there any reason that all of a sudden rationed, socialized, government run health care is being pushed down our throats especially since 85% of us have health care that we like? Is their any reason for so called cap & trade being pushed down our throats since their have been years & years of scientists that were lying to us & “chicken little” Gore is smart enough to know this he just wants to keep lying instead of admitting the scientists were lying or maybe he paid them to lie so he can keep padding his pockets. Why should the American people under an economical melt down have a government trying to take every last penny we have for all kinds of bull instead of freezing spending & cutting taxes so we can get to work again. The rich & the corporations that Obama keeps saying how he is going to charge them more taxes to take up the gap knows it doesn’t work like that. The more he charges them the more that gets passed down to us to pay for their products, & some corporations will just move out of the country to other countries to not have to pay high taxes & not have to be told what to do by these Unions that do nothing but take advantage of the people belonging to them.

  4. I think you’ve missed the point of Obama’s characteristic finesse as it applies to his War Plans: he’s not interested in a win – he knows that’s elusive – that’s why he didn’t mention the word in his entire West Point speech, much to the annoyance of the war mongers in the right-wing press.

    Obama’s only interested in getting us out. He was handed the dirty end of the stick and he’s given the half of the Nation who wants war, a ‘one last try’. He’s then handed the rest of us a timeline to begin leaving. It’s the only way he could get us out without political suicide that would hand the GnOP a 2012 win with their guaranteed ramp-up of this failed conflict.

    IMO Progressives and other Liberals who condemn Obama over this and Single Payer and all the other things, just don’t see how he’s doing the best he can given he’s governing the entire Nation, not just us on the Left side.

    We Progressives and other Liberals ought to stop ragging on how imperfect Obama’s presidency is, and instead start a movement that brings in more Democrat Senators in 2010 — the more Dems Obama has in the Senate, then the more-Liberal his legislation can end up.

    But, instead everyone’s sitting around griping.

    • Great comment Tim !! Thank you

    • Man you are so delusional but of course all Progressives & Liberals I disagree with simply because they are mostly radicals, socialists, communists, & Maxist. You want American turned into a socialist country & you want to see the Constitution of the United States destroyed along with the Bill of Rights. I hope I am wrong. But the way I see it if the do not agree with the Constitution & freedoms for all Americans to choose then you need to move to one of the Banana Republics or any country that does not believe in democracy. Please tell me that is not what you want to see happen.

    • Sherwood Ross says:

      December 26, 2009

      Dear Tim, thanks for your views; others have told me as much, that Obama should not be condemned because he wants to get us out of Afghanistan. The difficulty is that each day he delays is a victory for the military-industrial complex, as it perpetuates expenditures to fatten its take. Five thousand of the latest bomb-proof all-terrain troop conveyances are being delivered in Afghanistan that cost up to $1-million each. Each! You could hire 20 teachers for a million bucks who would spend their paychecks locally and pump up the economy and educate our kids. The greater horror is that each day Obama delays more Afghan civilians are going to die, as they have been getting killed, in a war they never made and want nothing to do with. The horror is that extending the war into Pakistan has dehoused two million people, forcing them out of their homes and into camps where they are living hardly better than animals. Not a way to win hearts and minds. Upon taking office, Obama could have said, truthfully, “I was elected because the American people want peace, and thus I am going to withdraw our forces and give peace a chance.” He could have said that but he didn’t. Instead, he made a political calculation that will cost the lives of many innocent people. Had he ordered our forces out, respect for America would have received an enormous boost in the Middle East and globally. It is apparent that this brilliant man in the White House, once an employee of the CIA, is not with mainstream Americans who have nothing to gain from this war and much to lose. He appears to be a spokesman for the intelligence community that is part of the neoconservative coalition that believes America should be running the planet—alone, as a kind of Master Race. Instead of initiating Obama’s Peace he’s now fighting Obama’s War. In this time of rejoicing over the observance of the birth of the Prince of Peace, god help us in our hypocrisy. Sherwood Ross

    • D Matthews says:

      Yes OBAMA HAS A realistic PLAN
      No one has a better one.

      too bad so many were still concentrating on BUSHES WAR and single payer not on the table
      THAT Obama has such limited support for the Public Option
      THE current item ON THE TABLE.
      polls showed progressives against him because those who wanted more faster better voted/polled displeasure without explanation.

      IS IT NOW TOO LATE TO RALLY AND GET THE PUBLIC OPTION BACK?

      Middle East and Beyond-
      Cut and Run would make sure we

      1. lose all control of the middle east to terrorism forever
      2. set many supporters of democracy up for torture and death there
      3. turn tail in the middle of repairing a bad job we lose all world respect, more than even the architects of GITMO and torture could manage.
      4. turn afghanistan over to corruption and extremists
      4. forget Iran or
      5. Iran/ Israel negotiations.
      6. forget China and Korea
      They’d all laugh at our phone calls and hang up !
      7. the extremists would laugh harder and pass out flyers about how USA doesn’t care about you.

      Dems are best known for shooting themselves in the foot politically.

      We are in rare form.

      A majority in the Congress and Senate and all we can do is sad attempts to make OBAMA look unable and in other ways as bad as BUSH and the CHENEY GANG?

      When did Dems become completely unable to compromise and when we disagree
      do it among ourselves
      keep it under wraps like GOP does?

      Even with the GOP falling apart at the seams
      they are inspiring more voter cohesion and confidence and appearance of a winning front among their ranks than
      WE -THE SUPPOSED- WINNING – the supposed- TEAM.

      DID WE JUST WIN the opportunity to die of friendly fire and never be in a position of power for the people again?

      I WORRY.

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