At times I think they have to be doing it on purpose. It’s simply not possible that such density of stupidity exists on such a high level. Take Afghanistan, for example. Like a hellfire and brimstone preacher who cannot prize his eye off the pouting dolly bird in the front row, Obama seems mesmerized by his chief political advisor Rahm Emanuel, who, Iago-like, is whispering in his ear that more troops and more money can win it for the good guys in the land that has humiliated both the British and Soviet empires, and is saving its best for poor old Uncle Sam.
Emanuel has an agenda of his own—Israel’s safety and all that—but that doesn’t mean that the rest of us should take this folly lying down. What on earth is the aim of this futile, mad exercise? More troops in Afghanistan will not lead to the capture of Osama bin Laden; on the contrary, they will just kill more innocent Afghan people. The United States has no hope of subjugating the Afghanis. The only certainty is that some future American president will withdraw from that distant land.
Hamid Karzai has presided over an anemic and semilegitimate central government whose twin signatures have been corruption and ineptitude. Warlords predominate in the provinces, while opium production is flourishing. The Taliban is resurgent in Pakistan, and staggering reconstruction funds have been misspent or have fled the country because of the rampant lawlessness and unstable political climate.
These are the facts. The rest is just whistling Dixie, as they used to say in the good old days. Since the Afghanistan conflict has now lasted longer than World War II and shows no sign of resolution, it is reasonable for the American people to demand clarification from our venal leaders in Washington, D.C. The government fires back with the standard cliché, that we are there for “nation building.” This is a crock. And patronizing as hell. And shows the arrogant ignorance of those who represent us. Afghanistan, more than most countries in the region, regards democracy as an alien and foolish cult. The country’s basis is tribal, and the key figures are tribal leaders. If one was dumb enough to suggest to an Afghan that the vote of an 18-year-old should count as much as that of a 65-year-old tribal elder, he’d be told to visit a witch doctor in deep Africa. And if one was foolish enough to suggest that the vote of an 18-year-old girl should be of equal value with that of a tribal elder, decapitation would follow as surely as night follows day.
This, then, is the true situation on the ground. It is now too dangerous for aid workers to operate in half the country. The Taliban can commit assaults in Kabul itself at will. Civilian deaths are on the rise after seven years of “nation building.” And while this is going on, Obama and his gang are talking about universal suffrage and democracy, both alien concepts to Afghans.
But let’s go back a bit. Twenty years ago the Soviet legions left Afghanistan after a nine-year intervention that cost 15,000 young Soviet lives. We have been there almost as long, but instead of pulling out as the Soviets wisely decided to do, we are pouring more troops and money into that black hole. Like the Russkies, we are mostly occupying the cities, while the Taliban, Pashtun nationalists, and local tribal chiefs and mullahs control the countryside. Twenty years ago the Taliban did not exist, nor did suicide bombing in Afghanistan. The Afghan army and police were more effective, and Kabul was an oasis of calm. Today Western offices are hidden behind high walls and sandbags, and armored convoys are the only way nonlocals can get around. Yet the powers that be are telling us that more troops, more money, and more blood will bring eventual victory. This is not only a pipe dream, it is criminal—worse even than the Iraq debacle. The neocon ideology persists in Obama-land, the slimy ones having spread their poisoned tentacles throughout the nation’s institutions.
When Moscow decided to invade, it was not looking for regime change. It was trying to prop up a regime under threat from a mounting civil war. This was shortly after the United States was expelled from Iran, and the Kremlin feared Washington wanted Afghanistan as a replacement. Getting out was easier for Moscow than it will be for Uncle Sam and NATO. The government that Moscow had installed lasted another three years after the Soviet withdrawal. Karzai will not last a day, if that.
So what is to be done? There are no ifs, ands, or buts about it. Karzai and his brood should be given safe conduct—they have tens of millions through the drug trade to keep them in style in, say, Las Vegas or the Bahamas. Then we should let the Afghanis figure it out for themselves. The Taliban are not popular, and if they try to rule, our present problem will become theirs. Pakistan will finally have to play a straight hand. We will be saving $70 billion per year, and thousands of American lives. The war is unwinnable. But is there one elected official in our midst who will get up in those disgraced houses in what we call the Capitol and say so? Is there no shame left in these United States?
The answer is very simple. There is no shame.