Here We Go Again, by Robert Scheer
Source Dave Anderson
Date 09/12/02/23:28
Here We Go Again
By Robert Scheer

IT IS ALREADY a 30-year war begun by one Democratic president, and
thanks to the political opportunism of the current commander in chief
the Afghanistan war is still without end or logical purpose. President
Barack Obama’s own top national security adviser has stated that there
are fewer than 100 al-Qaida members in Afghanistan and that they are
not capable of launching attacks. What superheroes they must be, then,
to require 100,000 U.S. troops to contain them.

The president handled that absurdity by conflating al-Qaida, which he
admitted is holed up in Pakistan, with the Taliban and denying the
McChrystal report’s basic assumption that the enemy in Afghanistan is
local in both origin and focus. Obama stated Tuesday in a speech
announcing a major escalation of the war, “It’s important to recall
why America and our allies were compelled to fight a war in
Afghanistan in the first place.” But he then cut off any serious
consideration of that question with the bald assertion that “we did
not ask for this fight.”

Of course we did. The Islamic fanatics who seized power in Afghanistan
were previously backed by the U.S. as “freedom fighters” in what was
once marketed as a bold adventure in Cold War one-upmanship against
the Soviets. It was President Jimmy Carter, aided by a young liberal
hawk named Richard Holbrooke, now Obama’s civilian point man on
Afghanistan, who decided to support Muslim fanatics there. Holbrooke
began his government service as one of the “Best and the Brightest” in
Vietnam and was involved with the rural pacification and Phoenix
assassination program in that country, and he is now a big advocate of
the counterinsurgency program proposed by Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal
to once again win the hearts and minds of locals who want none of it.

The current president’s military point man, Defense Secretary Robert
Gates, served in Carter’s National Security Council and knows that
Obama is speaking falsely when he asserts it was the Soviet occupation
that gave rise to the Muslim insurgency that we abetted. Gates wrote a
memoir in 1996 which, as his publisher proclaimed, exposed “Carter’s
never-before-revealed covert support to Afghan mujahedeen—six months
before the Soviets invaded.”

Carter’s national security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, was asked in
a 1998 interview with the French magazine Le Nouvel Observateur if he
regretted “having given arms and advice to future terrorists,” and he
answered, “What is most important to the history of the world? The
Taliban or the collapse of the Soviet empire? Some stirred-up Muslims
or the liberation of Central Europe and the end of the Cold War?”
Brzezinski made that statement three years before the 9/11 attack by
those “stirred-up Muslims.”

So here we go again, selling firewater to the natives and calling it
salvation. We have decided to prop up a hopelessly corrupt Afghan
government because, as Obama argued in one of the more disgraceful
passages of Tuesday’s West Point speech, “although it was marred by
fraud, [the recent] election produced a government that is consistent
with Afghanistan’s laws and constitution.”

To suggest that the Afghan government will be in seriously better
shape 18 months after 30,000 additional U.S. and perhaps 5,000 more
NATO troops are dispatched is bizarrely out of touch with the strategy
of the McChrystal report, which calls for American troops to
restructure life down to the level of the most forlorn village. Surely
the civilian and military supporters of that approach who are cheering
Obama on have been giving assurances that he will not be held to such
an unrealistically short timeline. Evidence of this was offered in the
president’s speech when he said of the planned withdrawal of some
forces by July of 2011: “Just as we have done in Iraq, we will execute
this transition responsibly, taking into account conditions on the
ground. We’ll continue to advise and assist Afghanistan’s security
forces to ensure that they can succeed over the long haul.”

A very long haul indeed, if one checks the experience of Matthew Hoh,
the former Marine captain who was credited with being as successful as
anyone in implementing the counterinsurgency strategy now in vogue. In
his letter of resignation as a foreign service officer in charge of
one of the most hotly contested areas, Hoh wrote: “In the course of my
five months of service in Afghanistan … I have lost understanding and
confidence in the strategic purpose of the United States’ presence in
Afghanistan. … I have observed that the bulk of the insurgency fights
not for the white banner of the Taliban, but rather against the
presence of foreign soldiers and taxes imposed by an unrepresentative
government in Kabul.”

Maybe they should have given Capt. Hoh the Noble Peace Prize.

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