Why can’t we remember the past?

Looking into the pastAfghan-US War 101:
The US military “is redeploying troops to towns and cities to better protect the Afghan population. The decision effectively leaves large stretches of territory to the Taliban, made up of a variety of groups united by an opposition to the international military presence.”

What a mess…
Since the US (and other) troops are, correct or not, perceived as an invading army, many of the Afghan population support the insurgents that the army has been sent to protect. Who is the military protecting the population from? The Taliban? Al-Qaeda? AND, if the President admits that the Taliban cannot be defeated but “weakened” what are the goals of the military troops on the ground? What are their objectives? Why are these troops and Afghan civilians being put in harms way?

How does the military win the “hearts and minds” of the population when they are up to their necks in insurgency, when experienced foreign policy advisors warn the President that the war is not winnable, when the US President contradicts himself and on the one hand he says the US military is in a ditch and should get out and on the other he says the US troops are there to fight al-Qaeda, when populations which are to be “protected” give popular (or forced) support to the insurgents, and a fanatical religious group makes deals with the allegedly corrupt Afghan President to make all Afghan women slaves? When is enough, enough?

If you REALLY support the troops fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq, tell your elected representatives and the US President to bring them home now! These wars are unwinnable, fighting terrorism is a police, clandestine, and political activity combined, NOT a military war. As in Vietnam, who really is the enemy?

Look to our past…George Santayana (1863-1952) wrote in Reasons and Places I:
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. A man’s memory may almost become the art of continually varying and misrepresenting his past, according to his interests in the present.” Obama should look over his shoulder.

October 8, 2009, 12:57 pm
In a Ditch or Off a Cliff in Afghanistan? By Robert Mackey

“During a television interview last month, Rory Stewart, a foreign policy expert who has argued strenuously that President Obama should cut rather than increase the size of the American force in Afghanistan, used an arresting metaphor to describe what it was like to advise the American government on Afghan policy…the analogy that one of my colleagues used recently is this: It’s as though they come to you and they say, ‘We’re planning to drive our car off a cliff. Do we wear a seatbelt or not?’ And we say, ‘Don’t drive your car off the cliff.’ And they say, ‘No, no, no. That decision’s already made. The question is should we wear our seat belts?’ And you say, ‘Why by all means wear a seat belt.’ And they say, ‘O.K., we consulted with policy expert, Rory Stewart’…”

US President Obama said at a campaign rally in August 2008 and which emphasizes Mr. Stewart’s point. “But listen, if you drive a bus into a ditch and then after five years and a trillion dollars and 4,000 lives lost, you are getting the bus halfway out of the ditch, it doesn’t mean you made a good decision driving the bus off the road in the first place.”

Mr. Stewart’s argument is, unfortunately, that, despite what you may have heard, “failure in Afghanistan is indeed an option.”

He goes on to say, “…focus on what we can do. People can get very fixed by saying, ‘But surely you’re not saying we ought to do nothing? Surely you’re not saying we ought to allow the Taliban to do this or that?” And I just keep saying “ought” implies “can” — you don’t have a moral obligation to do what you can’t do…”

October 6, 2009, 5:21 pm
Fighting Uphill in Afghanistan By Robert Mackey

“Video shot this summer in Afghanistan by a British television crew near an American military base that was attacked on Saturday — in a battle that left eight Americans and four Afghan security officers dead — illustrates quite dramatically how tough the fight there is for soldiers trying to secure villages nestled in high mountains.”

At the end of this video is Obama speaking to the VFW, giving his justification for continuing the war in Afghanistan…“this is not a war of choice this is a war of necessity, those who attacked America on 9/11 are plotting to do so again and if left unchecked the Taliban insurgency will mean an even greater safe haven for al-Qaeda who are plotting to kill Americans”

If you believe that this “war of necessity” will stop al-Qaeda, then I have a bridge to sell you which spans the Bosphorus strait in Istanbul.

August 17, 2009, 12:39 pm
Afghan Husbands Win Right to Starve Wives By Robert Mackey

“…a revised version of the Shiite Personal Status Law had been quietly put into effect at the end of July — meaning that Shiite men in Afghanistan now have the legal right to starve their wives if their sexual demands are not met and that Shiite women must obtain permission from their husbands to even leave their houses…”

The new law was signed by President Hamid Karzai, the guy the United States brought in to bring democracy to Afghanistan and whose authority is undermined by widespread allegations of electoral fraud. Karzai depends on support from Sheik Muhammad Asif Mohseni, the country’s most powerful Shiite cleric.

Is this REALLY what the United States should be fighting for?

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