Some Simple Questions After Obama's Afghanistan War Speech

by: David Sirota

Tue Dec 01, 2009 at 20:41


Just a few quick questions to ponder after President Obama's speech announcing a massive escalation in Afghanistan - the very first being shouldn't we be able to honestly answer these queries before mindlessly cheering on a deployment of more troops to a Central Asian war zone?

Here they are in no particular order:

- What percentage of those kids in the West Point audience will die because of this decision?

- Would you be OK sending yourself or a loved one over to face combat and potentially death for the mission Obama articulated in Afghanistan? If not, how could you support sending other people?

- Why do so many pundits and pro-Obama activists continue to focus on how "hard" and "difficult" and "trying" this decision is for President Obama, rather than on how "hard" and "difficult" and "trying" this will be for the soldiers who are killed? Doesn't Obama get to make this decision, and then go home to the comfortable confines of a butlered White House, while thousands of Americans will be sent 7,000 miles from home to face their potential deaths? Isn't the latter "harder" than the former?

- Where's the antiwar movement and the marches and the organizing and the protesting? Where's all those well-funded groups that protested George W. Bush's war policy? Or was all that really just about hating George Bush and embracing blind Partisan War Syndrome?

- In the days and weeks after this speech, will the White House's cynical new spin get ever more desperate and become, hey - at least an Afghanistan escalation holds out the possibility of making sure military combat casualties start outpacing military suicides?

- Simple budget question: Should we now believe that escalating the Afghanistan War at the same annual cost of universal health care will save more than 45,000 Americans a year (ie. the number of Americans who die every year for lack of health insurance)?

- Did CNN really turn a move to send thousands of Americans to potentially die in Central Asia into an over-stylized, hyper-marketed television show called "Decision Afghanistan?" Is the media really that soulless, or did my eyes betray me? Because it's really hard for me to believe that even in this cynical age, a television network tried to make a cheap reality-TV show out of life-and-death decision that could affect tens of thousands of people.

- Which is worse - a stupid person like George W. Bush starting a dumb occupation, or a smart person like Barack Obama following the lead of that stupid person, but actually escalating that occupation?

- The "we're going to escalate war to end war" refrain throughout the speech - have we heard that before somewhere? It sounds sorta like "we'll burn down the Vietnam villages to save them." Just curious if that's what we're talking about here - because, ya know, that worked out really well.

- Are we really expected to believe that massively escalating a war is the way to end a war? I mean, really? Like, is the public really looked at like we're that stupid? And a follow-up question: Are we really that stupid?

- If Obama's Afghan War strategy about escalating a war to end a war was a self-help strategy for, say, alcoholics, wouldn't it prescribe drinking more whiskey to stop drinking - and wouldn't we all laugh at that?

- How many pundits will insist that bowing down to the Military-Industrial complex and escalating this missionless war somehow shows "resolve" and "strength" and "toughness" and "leadership" and not embarrassing weakness?

- Would the Obamaphiles now telling us to "give President Obama a chance" with this decision and/or defending Obama's escalation - would these same people be saying we should "give President McCain a chance" and/or defending President McCain's escalation if he was the one in office making this decision?

- I'm confused: Is this hope or change?

David Sirota :: Some Simple Questions After Obama's Afghanistan War Speech

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Hope? Change? Neither. (4.00 / 3)
It's disheartening. And Obama himself gave this speech in the cadence of a defeated man. He marched through half truths, popular bromides, and conventional wisdoms with all the conviction of a wet rag. At times, I had to look away. We now see before us, the ability of the military industrial complex to override the most popular politician of our generation. Where do we go from here?

Save Our Schools! March & National Call to Action, July 28-31, 2011 in Washington, DC: http://www.saveourschoolsmarch...

It's both. (0.00 / 0)
We're hoping for a change.

Still hoping.


[ Parent ]
Hope dies last (0.00 / 0)
However, hope without action is quite useless.

[ Parent ]
"the ability of the military industrial complex to override" Really? (4.00 / 2)
Well, I'm not questioning that the military industrial complex is very powerful, but did they really override anyone? Did Obama at any time really make the decision to withdraw from Afghansitan, and second guess this aftter being pressured by the defense lobby? I don't see any facts supporting this view. Obama has never been determinedly anti-war. Imho nobody did "override" him.

[ Parent ]
Don't get me wrong. (0.00 / 0)
I'm well aware that Obama ran as a "we'll fix Afghanistan" candidate, even though he was opposed to the invasion of Iraq. But you have to admit that his heart was not in that speech last night and that he appeared to be a very reluctant warrior president. As Joan Walsh comments at salon.com:
"At the moment he needed all of his persuasive powers, Obama gave the worst major speech of his presidency. I admit: I expected to be, even wanted to be, carried away a bit by Obama's trademark rhetorical magic. But I wasn't, not even a little. I found the speech rushed, sing-songy and perfunctory, delivered by rote. I despise the right-wing Obama-Teleprompter taunts, but even I wanted to say, Look at your audience, not the damn Teleprompter, Mr. President. Obama looked haggard, his eyes deeper set, and I believe this decision pained him. But I'm not sure even he believes it's the right decision."
It's clear to me -- even though obviously not to you -- that he is doing the military's bidding on this.

Save Our Schools! March & National Call to Action, July 28-31, 2011 in Washington, DC: http://www.saveourschoolsmarch...

[ Parent ]
Judging from the reporting about the speech, I admit that. (0.00 / 0)
And this leaves me wondering: Is Obama hinself not convinced that the current course is correct, and less than satisfied about the lans presented to him? Or where does his lack of enthusiasm come from? Or is it jsut the result of being aware that this is a finickle issue, and that nobody can predict the outcome, so he better guard himself than going all in?

There are lots of possible expalantions, and that he is the puppet of the ilitary is only one for them. And not necessarily the best one. We all know that Obama has many flaws, but that he is a power concious guy. He isn't likely to ced his power to anybody else. Whatever else we may criticize him for, he sure isn't anybody's pawn, that's for certain.


[ Parent ]
No, he's not a pawn (0.00 / 0)
Just some other piece on the chessboard, prone to doing what's been prescribed to him and his role rather than taking the hard course to quit the game.

Save Our Schools! March & National Call to Action, July 28-31, 2011 in Washington, DC: http://www.saveourschoolsmarch...

[ Parent ]
Much like single payer insurance reform (4.00 / 1)
those options were taken off the table before the campaign even began. Why do you think that every single Presidential candidate needs to establish that they are "tough" and ready to unleash the might (what's left of it) of the US military at a moments notice?

They can only play within the lines drawn by the military/industrial complex. No going outside those lines. Not in a campaign. Not in an administration. Certainly not in strategy decisions.

Obama was "overridden" on any truly anti-war stance the moment he decided to be a serious candidate for President.

He is not alone. None of the contenders were any different on this point. The whole concept that Barack Obama was "antiwar" was an illusion from the outset. A carefully constructed illusion. That was obvious from the beginning.

"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
I'm under the impression most Americans love "tough" guys... (0.00 / 0)
..so I wouldn't attribute that to the military industrial complex. Or is the complex funding all those action hero flicks? I wouldn't be totally surprised about this, but I doubt that.

But as for "The whole concept that Barack Obama was "antiwar" was an illusion from the outset", yup, I agree.


[ Parent ]
You ever been to the US? or met any actual Americans? (4.00 / 1)
I'm under the impression most Americans love "tough" guys...

Oh, by the way, all those "action flicks" are some of the most popular OUTSIDE of the US, too. Can we please get past stereotypes?

But, yeah, the prevalence of "entertainment" options that glorify the military life are part and parcel of the pro-military slant of our pop culture. Not just blockbusters, either. I can always tell when some decision has been made to send more soldiers to yet another foreign war because the local and national news starts showing featured stories about military families. All those little kids left behind that need our support, they don't need me to protest in the streets, or ask the President tough questions about what he hopes to accomplish by extending a war that has already dragged on too long, no, they need me to kneel down and pray silently for their parent that abandoned them to fight in a war that has no real goal or purpose. Do you see how it permeates?

 

"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
Yes, And yes. (0.00 / 0)
And I hope yu won't deny that the US is one of the most pro violent nations of all. Just look at the second ammendment and its determined fans in both parties. Now, this doesn'tsay that every American is like that, but the observable preferrance of tough (meaning, by force) solutions to soft (i.e. negotiated) outcomes is more than simply a stereotype.

As for the action blockbusters: There's a reason most of them are produced in the US, and not many by foreign nations. You will have a hard time trying to find action heros in German and French movies, which are dominated by comedy and drama. And imho this isn't a coincidence.


[ Parent ]
Then why do the stereotypes persist? (0.00 / 0)
Typical European elistist BS.

Remind me again, how many world wars started in Europe? Yeah, what a bunch of comedians.


"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
Typical American ignorance, Spitty! (0.00 / 0)
:P
"Remind me again, how many world wars started in Europe?"
How many wars have the US started or supported since the end of WWII?

[ Parent ]
I admit that the US has a role and responsibility (0.00 / 0)
for world affairs, so I'm not trying to ignore the facts.

Will you also admit the culpability of the European nations in the same? Or will you continue to blame all the bad in the world on the US and our violent culture?


"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
Only fair. (0.00 / 0)
Indeed, it's not that our electorate is generally more reasonable or pricipled than the US one. It's just that Europeans act different sometimes. And not necessarily positively different.

Peace.


[ Parent ]
Believe me, Gray (0.00 / 0)
I spend a lot of time with folks from Europe. The medical research field is a very multicultural group. I've had these discussions with many folks over the years. Differences abound. Like most humans, they find it very easy to point their fingers at others and to scold, while it is much harder to look in the mirror and accept the past.

I'm no exception to that rule. My nation has pursued (especially since the end of WW2) some of the most aggregious foreign policy agendas that the world has ever seen. That is beyond doubt. But that culpability does not absolve the rest of the developed nations. I'm willing to take our share of the blame and the cost, but the US did not invent the idea of abandoning for foreign adventures when the costs and politics get dicey. You know we inherited Viet Nam from the French, right?


"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
"we inherited Viet Nam from the French" Kinda inherited. (0.00 / 0)
Fact is, the hereditary giver was still alive and it was very well known why he wanted to get rid of the "property". Not the smartest move by the US to accept that legacy. However, hindsight is 20/20, sure.

[ Parent ]
You're right (0.00 / 0)
The US could have refused to take over the Viet Nam war when the French left and went home without cleaning up their mess. But, somehow, the French don't get blamed for their mistakes, only the US.


"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
Well, the French left the region in a better shape than the US. (0.00 / 0)
They had signed the Geneva acoord, leaving the region into independence, and creating two seperate states. At that time it sure looked like a stable situation. Much more so than 20 years later, when the US ran away. But I don't think this stuff is very relevant in regard to Afghanistan, right?

[ Parent ]
However the US left the region (0.00 / 0)
things are going pretty well there now. eh?

The relevance to the issue in Afghanistan is that it is the same European attitudes - where they blame the US for not cleaning up the messes the retreating European powers left behind- permeate your comments on this topic. It very easy for you to play the "morality" card because you have no skin in this fight. None of your money is being wasted and none of your fellow citizens are being called up to fight. Yet, you cheer-lead like the dickens and get all high and mighty about "responsibility".

You've made a very good case as to why the US has little moral standing on these issues, but have nothing to say as to why the Europeans should have any moral standing on the issue. You have consistently refuse to place blame for the state of the world on any nation other than the US. You take no responsibility for the state of the world, then blame the US for taking up the slack and acting as "world cop".


"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
"things are going pretty well there now". Now. Millions of Southvietnamese... (0.00 / 0)
...certainly are not amused. They certainly didn't have an easy time under the communist regime.

"blame the US for not cleaning up the messes the retreating European powers left behind"
As I wrote somewhere, it were the russians who really drove the car agains tthe wall. And the Us didn't make it any better. That's a fact. Afghanistan was doing ok in the 60s and 70s.

"None of your money is being wasted and none of your fellow citizens are being called up to fight."
Are you nuts? Bundeswehr soldiers are dying in Afghanistan! Just last year, I had a skill enhancement course with a young guy fresh out of service. He was happy as hell for having gotten away from Afghanistan alive and well!

So much for "no skin in this fight". 4400 troops rsoking their lives every day, and the damn Yankees don't even notice it. Grrr...


[ Parent ]
If this was true (0.00 / 0)
he'd be announcing an invasion of Iran tonight, not talking about Afghanistan (and promising to be out of Iraq completely in less than two years)  

[ Parent ]
Please (4.00 / 2)
The Pentagon has never seemed itching to bomb Iran. In fact, they've advised against it, despite the advice from the war hawks from AEI and AIPAC. They like the war they're in right now, thank you very much.  

Save Our Schools! March & National Call to Action, July 28-31, 2011 in Washington, DC: http://www.saveourschoolsmarch...

[ Parent ]
Sorry (0.00 / 0)
Should'a said "wars".

Save Our Schools! March & National Call to Action, July 28-31, 2011 in Washington, DC: http://www.saveourschoolsmarch...

[ Parent ]
Bush would have given the same speech for the same action. (4.00 / 5)
Disgusting. There was no real argument. And the 9/11 reference--truly horrible.

Sadly, I didn't see your comment before I posted mine, below. (4.00 / 1)
We seem to have had the same thought.

Health insurance is not health care.
If you don't fight, you can't win.
Never give up. Never Surrender.
Watch out for flying kabuki.


[ Parent ]
No way GWB could have given that speech (0.00 / 0)
He just doesn't have the chops for it.

I agree that the content of the speech was essentially the same as a GWB speech, but it was not the same speech.


"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
It doesn't matter. (0.00 / 0)
The actions would have been the same.  In fact, they are!

[ Parent ]
1965 is to 2009 (4.00 / 3)
as 1968 is to 2012?


Only if we can find another Eugene McCarthy n/t (4.00 / 2)


[ Parent ]
Enter Dennis Kucinich (4.00 / 2)
What we really need is to hit the streets.  Rumor has it that there is an anti-war rally in NYC at 6pm on Wednesday.  Union Square is a safe bet.

Even though Obama always spoke of Afganistan as the right war there is no reason why he could not change his mind.  After all, he did change his mind about the appropriateness of military tribunals and did not bring the troops home from Iraq.


I live in a true blue state--I will have a choice in November


[ Parent ]
Can we give someone else a chance? (4.00 / 1)
Kucinich just doesn't seem to have the ability to connect on this issue. He's got the heart and the message, but his track record isn't that great in terms of actually getting support.

"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
Real leadership (4.00 / 4)
I see real leadership: from David Sirota.

Will somebody, anybody put a muzzle on the man behind the curtain, David Petraeus?

This country has real, deep problems.  The quicker we get out of both Iraq and Afghanistan the sooner we can deal with them.

Mr. Obama, have you no shame. (Army vs. McCarthy hearings)


Well now Petraeus can (4.00 / 4)
run in 2012 as the GOP nominee and beat Obama on a promise to "win in Afghanistan."

My question: does Obama believe a word of what he just said?


[ Parent ]
Not Obama the candidate (4.00 / 2)
But Obama the President probably believed every word of what he said.

I hated how he acknowledged the great cost of war and in the same breath talked about how we need "nation-building" at home. Does he really think people are going to buy this speech?

In my mind, Obama is thoroughly gone, engulfed by corporate (in this case military-industrial complex) interests.


[ Parent ]
Ah yup. (4.00 / 3)
Some are calling the president's plan to ratchet up the war a betrayal of the Democratic base, which overwhelmingly opposes sending more troops. For example, a recent Gallup poll found that 60% of Democrats want the president to begin reducing troop levels in Afghanistan.

But while the president may be showing disloyalty to his political base, he's remaining faithful to the defense industry interests that so generously funded his campaign.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics' OpenSecrets.org database, the top recipient of defense industry money in the 2008 election cycle was Barack Obama, whose haul of $1,029,997 far surpassed Republican contender Sen. John McCain's $696,948.

During the 2008 cycle, the industry contributed a total of $23.7 million to federal candidates -- far more than the $17.4 million it invested during the 2006 cycle or the $18.1 million in the 2004 cycle.

http://www.southernstudies.org...

"More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly." -Woody Allen, My Speech to the Graduates


[ Parent ]
of course everyone here realizes (0.00 / 0)
that to compare McCain's totals, who could not legally fundraise in the general election, to Obama's, who could, and therefore could raise twice as much money per person, would be misleading.

To be clear, I think tonight's decision is a big mistake.


New Jersey politics at Blue Jersey.


[ Parent ]
not to mention (0.00 / 0)
that the number you mention is less than 1% of Obama's fundraising. Defense does not even make the top twenty industries list.

http://www.opensecrets.org/pre...
 

New Jersey politics at Blue Jersey.


[ Parent ]
True. (4.00 / 1)
But we can also look at the 40% or so from liberals in small donations (not to mention all those 63 million votes) and who would you say he is listening to these days about anything at all?

Judging by his policy positions, it rather seems to me he listens to corporate interests who make up 1% of his fund-raising a lot more than the millions of people who made up 40% of his fund-raising.

Besides, with this escalation, his M-I Complex fundraising will only (excuse the pun) explode, won't it?

"More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly." -Woody Allen, My Speech to the Graduates


[ Parent ]
He's listening to Rahm Emanuel. (0.00 / 0)
That was his downfall.

[ Parent ]
It is. (4.00 / 3)
My intent wasn't to compare McCain's with Obama's numbers, so much. Frankly, if McCain had a real chance at winning that election, he would have raised a lot more. People aren't going to blow too much money on people they think will lose.

The real point is who Obama's real constituency is in all this. It's not us, or the people who will die for the next 3-8 years (or more), until this thing runs it's course. It's the corporations and their major shareholders that are the beneficiaries here and oddly enough, their kids aren't being drafted into 11B slots in the infantry, like they damn well should.

"More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly." -Woody Allen, My Speech to the Graduates


[ Parent ]
Damn good question. Me, I got nuthin'. (4.00 / 4)
I was asking myself the same thing at the moment he attempted to dispel the Vietnam=Afghanistan parallel. Man, either he believes his own bullshit or he's one helluva good liar. That was some seriously delusional crap he was pedaling.

Indeed, while the first two-thirds of the speech was intended to sound "realistic" and reasonable, the last third was stunning in it's missionary zeal. That stuff really made my skin crawl, it was so creepy.

So I'm interested in knowing the answer to your question as well. If he does believe that shit, we're in for 7 more years of this crap and all that portends for the "little people" that will be thrown into the woodchipper of Manifest Destiny as a result.

Progressives better get ready to run like hell against the White House next year.

"More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly." -Woody Allen, My Speech to the Graduates


[ Parent ]
When ever someone refers to a war that ends wars. (4.00 / 1)
When ever someone refers to a war that ends wars, you know that they really haven't read any history.  This was the clear refrain of the first world war.  

I believe that we have been at war at least every 10 years somewhere since the birth of our nation.  The war in Afghanistan is another chapter in the conflicts of the mideast vs western world.  The pres just doesn't understand our enemy.  This conflict has been going on for the last 1400 yrs.  Pulling out in 18 months means nothing to the ongoing situation.  The advarsaries are very patient.  

Conservative......CNN news:Nopenhagen: US PRES 2 WKS LATE ATTEND 1 DAY, GORE JOURNEY BY TRAIN.


oh please (4.00 / 3)
"We" are not in an endless war with Islam.  

New Jersey politics at Blue Jersey.

[ Parent ]
That's good (0.00 / 0)


Conservative......CNN news:Nopenhagen: US PRES 2 WKS LATE ATTEND 1 DAY, GORE JOURNEY BY TRAIN.

[ Parent ]
Just remember... (4.00 / 2)


Health insurance is not health care.
If you don't fight, you can't win.
Never give up. Never Surrender.
Watch out for flying kabuki.


I was hoping your video would show (0.00 / 0)
Bush saying "tal i ban," with the accent on the i, like Obama said it tonight.

I think Obama and Bush pronounce it the same.  


[ Parent ]
It's a stock reply I have stored (4.00 / 1)
for every time I have to hear someone talk about how much hard work it is to [fill_in_the_blank].  Luckily, I don't see that much here at Open Left.  Obama's speech was pitch perfect for it, though, and his speech was way too much like Bush (not in rhetorical cadence, but in content, or lack thereof) not to make the connection.

Health insurance is not health care.
If you don't fight, you can't win.
Never give up. Never Surrender.
Watch out for flying kabuki.


[ Parent ]
That's actually how it's pronounced (0.00 / 0)
Tal-E-Bahn

not Tal-a-ban


[ Parent ]
"And if these hopes are not realized over 18 months... (0.00 / 0)
...then the Afghan government will have blown its chance, and we'll leave anyway, no matter what kind of shitstorm ensues."

Yes, Obama mentioned a timeframe, but surely it's significant he didn't say anything resembling this.  And yet, things not working out as hoped is quite obviously (at least) a very likely possibility.

Basically, he made clear he sees a vital interest and a need to succeed.  So one has to suppose he will stick it out anyway if his wonderful 18 month plan doesn't bear fruit.  If this analysis is correct, then he owed it to us to say, "Yes, we MIGHT be there for a decade hemorrhaging money and blood...I WILL choose that if..."

But he didn't.  That's why I can't give this policy announcement my full confident support.


What if he did commit to a withdrawal, and then simply drag his feet? (0.00 / 0)
To me, it looks like many of you anti-war folks are very easy to satisfy, it only takes some lip services and all is good. Would you pls notice that there are still 120000 troops in IRAQ, despite the alleged withdrawal? What about them? Shouldn't they leave that country first, before a withdrawal from Afghansistan is started? Isn't it important to see how Iraq fares once it is on its own, without foreign troops securing it? Isn't it undeniable that there will be some lessons to belearned from that, lessons that will be decisive for a withdrawal from Afghansitan?

As I see it, rushing to get out of Aghanistan, without any reasonable, fact and precedent based plan about what shall become of the country and its citizen, is totally irresponsible.


[ Parent ]
Well he didn't use his speech to announce a deliberate (4.00 / 3)
withdrawal that uses due concern for the welfare of Afghans.  Nor did he announce coherently a plan to put the success of his stated objectives over and above all of the timeline and expense considerations.  You can call this prudence, but it seems distressingly dishonest to me.  I'm not one of "you anti-war folks," and I stated clearly that the reason I can't support his announcement is because he did not honestly say what (to the best of my understanding) actually supports and follows from his position, and I believe that a democracy can not fight a war based on half-truths retailed to the public.

[ Parent ]
I have two questions of my own (0.00 / 0)
1) Will public support for more troops in Afghanistan go up, down, or remain the same after this speech?

2) What would FDR do in Obama's place?

Things You Don't Talk About in Polite Company: Religion, Politics, the Occasional Intersection of Both


what good is #2? (4.00 / 1)
FDR either blundered into World War II or tried to get into it. Actually both, in my opinion. In any case, it has nothing to do with the existing occupation of Afghanistan.

New Jersey politics at Blue Jersey.

[ Parent ]
All wars aren't the same (0.00 / 0)
And the population isn't divided into warmongers and pacifists; some people are only against certain wars but not others.  FDR actively sought to get the US in the war and I think he was right to do so; it wasn't just war for the sake of war.

I am legitimately curious as to if someone can make a case that FDR would or wouldn't fight this particular war.  As of now, I have no idea.  I don't think it is wrong to speculate on what someone we consider to be a great president would do if he were in the White House today, and it would at least be something different to talk about.

Things You Don't Talk About in Polite Company: Religion, Politics, the Occasional Intersection of Both


[ Parent ]
In all honesty (4.00 / 1)
Sirota voiced one of my feelings as this being a "missionless" war.  

To me we are in a very ill defined mess and will lose many lives.  We lost 116 members of the military while he was making up his mind about the personnel request.  Does this sound like leadership?

It's time for frank and honest speech about where we are going with this "occupation" and why we are there.

FDR defined the enemy and what we needed to do.  He turned it over to the general staff of the military and stepped aside.  Hitler on the other hand took personal control of his end of the war.  "Nuff said"

Conservative......CNN news:Nopenhagen: US PRES 2 WKS LATE ATTEND 1 DAY, GORE JOURNEY BY TRAIN.


[ Parent ]
I feel that the mission might be defined (0.00 / 0)
But Obama just can't come out and say it.  Bush used Afghanistan as a staging ground for Iraq.  I'm wondering if Obama's intent is to use Afghanistan as a possible staging ground for action in Pakistan.

I'm not sure if that is what Obama is thinking, but it is one possible direction he could be going in.

Things You Don't Talk About in Polite Company: Religion, Politics, the Occasional Intersection of Both


[ Parent ]
Oh goody. (0.00 / 0)
If there's anything better than losing two wars it's losing three of them. Yes We Can!

Montani semper liberi

[ Parent ]
I was sitting in a beer tent (0.00 / 0)
It was 1969 and I was sitting in a beer tent across from my roomate.  At the time we were stationed in Ramstein AFB, West Germany.

I asked my roomate, "Murph, what are we doing here?"  Without a pause from a big swig, Murph replied, "Because we are sitting on these Germans to prevent them from marching down the autobahn into France."  

Is this a similar situation in Afghanistan?  We aren't fighting Afghanies are we?  I feel that we will be there 24 years from now just like I was in Germany.  

Conservative......CNN news:Nopenhagen: US PRES 2 WKS LATE ATTEND 1 DAY, GORE JOURNEY BY TRAIN.


[ Parent ]
I think there have been definate signs for a very long time (4.00 / 1)
that many of the neocons have moved into Obama corner. Just look at Little Green Footballs, and TNR.  So I suspect they would cheer on the war even if Bush were doing it and they did.  Also what are Rahm Emmanuel and Hillary Clinton if not Iraq war supporters?

My blog  

Opportunists (0.00 / 0)
Also what are Rahm Emmanuel and Hillary Clinton if not Iraq war supporters?


"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
An attempt to answer 1 question (4.00 / 2)
- Where's the antiwar movement and the marches and the organizing and the protesting? Where's all those well-funded groups that protested George W. Bush's war policy? Or was all that really just about hating George Bush and embracing blind Partisan War Syndrome?

This is mainly speculation, but we all must have noticed that all the huge marches that we all attended over literally years during the Bush Administration did nothing to stop the momentum of either war (at least directly, in terms of government policy).  Bush did whatever he felt like doing.  

Many saw the 2006 election as the chance to erode Bush's power and defund the War in Iraq.  Finally, we could back those protests up with real, electoral and political power!  We could succeed where we'd failed in '04!  So folks mobilized and voted, and gave majorities to the Dems in Congress.  The Dems, naturally, proceeded to dutifully fund whatever Bush asked for, and passed the Military Commissions Act, only complaining that too little was being spent in Afghanistan.

So that brought us to 2008, which many people, again, saw as the big chance to put someone in power who'd end the War.  And it turns out we should have listened to what Obama said in the campaign about Afghanistan, because he told us he wanted to escalate there, and he has.

It's definitely easier to get people to fight against someone who's already screwed them over than to get them to fight against someone who's been good to them.  I was at the founding meeting in Chicago of US Labor Against the War, and there's no doubt that a lot of labor leaders found themselves there partly because Bush was such a disaster for workers.  But I don't think that's "Bush derangement syndrome" -- it's a perfectly natural and logical decision to attack someone who's declared himself to be your enemy, and gone on to prove it.

So part of the reason why there aren't huge protests now is that people are more positively inclined towards Obama.  But I think most of the reason is that people generally feel like we've played our last card.  We protested like hell when Bush was the president and the GOP controlled Congress.  The media mostly ignored the protests, no one felt particularly threatened by them, and the wars went on anyway.  We voted the GOP out of power in Congress, and kept protesting, and nothing changed.  We nominated the least pro-war of the Big 3 candidates in the 2008 primaries, and got him in the White House with even bigger Dem majorities...and nothing's changed.

In other words, people aren't protesting because, under President Obama, we've given up hope.  


the other answer (4.00 / 1)
is that Sirota is conflating Iraq protests and Aghanistant protests. There were few of the latter.

Anyway, there is an anti-war rally in Princeton, NJ, tomorrow. Info here:

http://www.peacecoalition.org/...
 

New Jersey politics at Blue Jersey.


[ Parent ]
Maybe if we protest Obama's war (4.00 / 3)
the media will pay attention.

The media mostly ignored the protests [during Bush], no one felt particularly threatened by them, and the wars went on anyway.

He's a one-term president.


[ Parent ]
The anti-war movement (0.00 / 0)
grew out of Iraq, not Afghanistan. I specifically remember a lot of protestors in 2003 protesting the Iraq would take resources AWAY from Afghanistan.  

[ Parent ]
They were never "well-funded", (0.00 / 0)
well-organized, or given any consideration by the mainstream.

Moreover, they were primarily aimed at the invasion of Iraq. Afghanistan, not so much. I respect Sirota alot, but he's getting a bit mixed up on this issue. He's using the anti-Iraq War marches to complain about the Afghan War. Doesn't really chnage his point, however. Or mine. The "antiwar" movement/protest has gotten slight recognition, even from the blogs. I suspect even Sirota has written more about "tea-baggers" than the antiwar left.

It amazes me that couple hundred tea-baggers show up and all of the sudden EVERYBODY is paying attention - the M$M and the blogosphere - sad. Really sad.



"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
A pack of lies (4.00 / 8)
It doesn't matter who stands atop the Kremlin to review the May Day parades, it seems, the policies remain the same. President Obama's painfully traditional mendacity may buy the swine who run our government two more years of hopeful, upturned faces, or it may not, but it doesn't take a genius to note that anyone who's currently building an embassy four miles on a side in Kabul has no real intention of going anywhere. Ever.

Fortunately, the folks in Washington are likely to prove as vulnerable to hubris as the late inhabitants of the Kremlin. No matter what David Broder says, I doubt that the gods are as accustomed to being mocked as Democratic voters appear to be, or that the eloquence of the President's lying is enough to keep the judgments of history at bay forever.


Sigh.... (0.00 / 0)
Make that ...stands atop Lenin's tomb..., if you don't mind. I need an editor.

[ Parent ]
Speaking Only For Myself (4.00 / 3)
Re: "Where's the antiwar movement and the marches and the organizing and the protesting? Where's all those well-funded groups that protested George W. Bush's war policy? Or was all that really just about hating George Bush and embracing blind Partisan War Syndrome?"

Rambling answer: Afghanistan is the Good War.  Iraq was (clearly, from the beginning) a Stupid War of Choice.  The anti-Iraq War protests had an "easier" time getting people involved.  It's a lot easier to get motivated about opposing a war that's obviously a big mistake before it even started, then to oppose a war on more complex strategic, tactical, and logistical grounds (obviously, there are moral reasons to oppose war, but only DFHs think killing people is Bad).  At this point most of the active opposition is from the anti-war core that, sadly, is a minute force in politics, both in their numbers and even more so in how the Village ostracizes them.

Some of us who opposed Iraq from the get-go did so because "um guys, job's not done in afghanistan!  Come on, let's go, get back there before it's too late".  So, to be honest, I'm less sure of what I think should be done.  I don't know if it is too late to fix things.  I hope it's not, but hope isn't a strategy.  From where I sit, our presence in Afghanistan is well-summed-up by The Clash's Should I Stay Or Should I Go Now: If we go there will be trouble / if we stay it will be double.

Shorter Me: Uncertainty about what to do about Afghanistan vs certainty about the wrongness of Iraq explains the difference in antiwar activities, or lack thereof.


The answer is go (4.00 / 1)
Contribute to U.N. efforts at nation-building (or whoever does this sort of thing).

There is no war there. If there is a war, it's a civil war. In sum, it's nation-building. The people and the government there have to do it.

I'm not an isolationist, but damn, we've got our own problems!


[ Parent ]
"whoever does this sort of thing"? Nobody. It's the US' responsibility. (0.00 / 0)
Or, it can be said, NATO's. The UN doesn't have the means to do nationbuilding, afaik it has never done this. And such an enterprise in a war striken country would necessitate troops, which the UN doesn't have, either. Really, I'm shocked that you so easily (and obviously cluelessly) are willing to abandon the Afghans who don't want another Taliban reign for their nation, without any idea about who should step in to provide the (limited) level of security the US ensures now. Seems like you are hoping for a fairy who would repair all that's wrong in that nation with a magic wink of her eye. Anybody, as long as it ain't the US. This is not a realistic plan, this is just an illusion, and it's totally irresponsible towards the Afghan people.

Is it too much to ask the supporters of an withdrawal for a plan of their own? How to to stabilize a nation where the Taliban will use any vacuum of power to overthrow the government and replace it with an extremist regime of their own, with violent means? To come up with a clear explanation why the people of Afghanistan would be better off without foreign troops in their country, based not on wishful thinking, but on facts and precedents? In short, to make a compelling case why the bloodtoll wouldn't get HIGHER without the NATO presence?


[ Parent ]
Look, Afghanistan is in a better situation now (0.00 / 0)
than before the US invaded. The Taliban are out of power, there is a more functional central government than the Talib ever even planned to construct.

How did it get to be the responsibility of the US to build up all the broken nations in the world?

Who drew the fucking borders in central asia, anyway? Which crumbling colonial networks gave rise to the messes in the first place?  

"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
But that situation isn't stable. Without NATO, the Taliban will be back. (0.00 / 0)
And I don't think the centralized government is more functional than that of Mullah Omar. Quite to the contrary. Omar could enforce his laws in all of Afghanistan, except the northern provinces. Karzai can't do that.

As for "Which crumbling colonial networks gave rise to the messes in the first place?", this were the USSR, by the 1977 coup against president Daod, who certainly wasn't the most democratic guy aqround, but still a reasonable and capable leader who had managed to play cat and mouse with the superpowers for a long time. After the Soviets rushing in, the country became a mess. And in hindsight it has to be said that the US fueling the insurgency didn't improve the situation in any way.  


[ Parent ]
The Taliban did not have a stable country either (0.00 / 0)
Afghanistan was essentially a failed state before the US invasion. The only laws Mullah Omar was interested in enforcing were religious purity laws. And the most organized endeavor they undertook was blowing up ancient Buddhist statues.

Which colonial powers drew the borders in Central Asia? Not The Soviet Union. It was the Europeans - French, Britsh, Italians. Not so much the Germans because they have a tendency to be on the losing side of world wars. They did the same thing in Africa. Draw borders that divide major ethnic groups and leave the government and military in the hands of the minority group that is made dependent upon the European nation for support and aid. It was a way to let the coutries become "independent" and remain dependent at the same time. Alot of the problems in the developing world can be traced to the way the receding colonial powers left their empires.

But, of course, that's just so much old history. So need to talk about any responsibility on the European's part. None at all. They can't be bothered with any nation building, because after all, they have social safety nets to protect. But, where did all that European wealth come from? Did it fall from Heaven, or was it taken from their colonies before the empires crashed? Do you know where most of the gold and silver that the Spanish plundered from South America ended up? Hint: not the US.


"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
Quite right, SpitBall (0.00 / 0)
Thanks for sticking up for me.

But, of course, that's just so much old history. So [no] need to talk about any responsibility on the European's part. None at all. They can't be bothered with any nation building, because after all, they have social safety nets to protect. But, where did all that European wealth come from? Did it fall from Heaven, or was it taken from their colonies before the empires crashed?

Afghanistan has a long and storied history, thank you wikipedia..
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/H...
and
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A...

No, I don't see how it falls to the U.S. to solve their problems.

The U.S. can contribute it's share to NATO, but that's not happening -- oh, yeah, Great Britian, the global colonizer before us, will do its part, but where are the rest of the countries of the world.

Change means change.  


[ Parent ]
This is a real defining moment in Obama's Presidency. (4.00 / 2)
Sure, the policies have been consistently status quo, but this is the first major speech that felt like propaganda. I don't like the administration's policies, but I was with him for most of the major speeches. This one is different. The canned narratives were brought out and paraded.

I wonder what's going to happen moving forward. I think there are a lot of people out there with some historical knowledge and perspective who just don't believe these narratives anymore. The Karzai regime is a puppet regime, and exists only because we allow it to. To call them "partners" is not believable, and neither is calling an occupation the restoration of "order." We WISH we were nation building. I don't even think we'll get to that point. Mostly, we'll be killing.

I can't vote for this guy. There was always the specter of a Palin or a Romney to make me consider voting for Obama again. But no longer--third party here we come!


Most Deceitful Statement of the Night: (4.00 / 3)
"For unlike the great powers of old, we have not sought world domination."

Then why, Mr. Commander-In-Chief, is Joint Vision 2020 still the official policy of the US?

For the joint force of the future, this goal will be achieved through full spectrum dominance - the ability of US forces, operating unilaterally or in
combination with multinational and interagency partners, to defeat any adversary and control any situation across the full range of military operations...The label full spectrum dominance implies that US forces are able to conduct prompt, sustained, and synchronized operations with combinations of forces tailored to specific situations and with access to and freedom to operate in all domains - space, sea, land, air, and information. Additionally, given the global nature of our interests and obligations, the United States must maintain its overseas presence forces and the ability to rapidly project power worldwide in order to achieve full spectrum dominance.

http://www.fs.fed.us/fire/doct...

Don't bullshit us, Mr. President!  You are now the face of the American Empire.

Decarbonize, Deglobalize, Demilitarize


"For unlike the great powers of old, we have not sought world domination." (4.00 / 1)
Yeah, that was strange. I guess he hasn't read Empire. We dominate through military bases now, no need to takeover countries.  

[ Parent ]
The Reluctant Empire (0.00 / 0)
It was all just an accident. One day - poof - America was an Empire. Pretty amazing, stuff. Especially considering how hard all those other nations had to work when building their empires.  

"It sounds wrong...
     ...but its right."


[ Parent ]
Good question (0.00 / 0)
- Which is worse - a stupid person like George W. Bush starting a dumb occupation, or a smart person like Barack Obama following the lead of that stupid person, but actually escalating that occupation?

Which is worse - an unelected president taking a nation to war against its will, or an elected president doing the same thing?

Who is actually running this country? Ok, rhetorical question.


Another day, another great speech (4.00 / 3)
I agree with all of Sirota's questions and I'll raise him three:

Is there also a "moral dimension" to this war or is it just a pure cold political calculation of what America needs to do to preserve the reach of it's empire?

What about the Afgan people? the ones we are fighting - just as we fought AGAINST the Iraqi people. Do their lives matter? do they have even a right to life if we have designs on their territory? Afganis are turning to the taliban because they were used as canon fodder by american invaders. Why are we killing them and why do we never talk about THIER dead?

Why are we really there? surely not for "victory", surely not for "security", probably not for "revenge" and obviously not for "resources". Is it all just domestic politics or is there another deeper reason we are not seeing because no one will tell us?

We've so far had lots of these great speeches it seems. We had one in march for the first surge (which led to today's surge, and will lead to more next year), we had health care speeches, economic speeches, and the Guantanamo closing speech and we had the cairo speech. All leading to - nothing much. better wrapping, same result. So what is really going on here? has Obama, the nice guy we wanted to trust gotten bought or threatened into the same positions as Bush by the forces that dare not speak their name - the ones we know as the "establishment" or Versailles?

I think a pattern is developing and it could well be that what we have is an exercise in co-opting the democrats into supporting whatever it is that's running the show. Whatever it is it ain't us, the people. I just wonder when the pattern will become too obvious for anyone to ignore.

Maybe things do need to get a lot worse - before the people wake up. Of course that's easy to say. Worse would be an unmitigated disaster, but how else can people be made angry enough?


it is about resources (0.00 / 0)
The thing is the resources are just to be transported through Afganistan, not originating there. There was conflict regarding the proposed gas and oil pipelines from the caspian sea basin prior to Bush seizing power in the U.S.- A U.S. representative offered the taliban "a carpet of gold or a carpet of bombs before the 2000 election, iirc.

Everything else is a lie imo. Really, think about it, where have we used our military for humanitarian needs compaired to where we have used it for financial gain for the wealthy?....See Smedley Butler-"War is a racket".


Government by organized money is just as dangerous as government by organized mob..... FDR


[ Parent ]
obama (4.00 / 2)
is just another right of center politician, he was to the left of mccain but is certainly right of center as are almost all the politicians in america today with very few exceptions, too few to be sure.

quest (4.00 / 3)
The question I have is why now is the "he campaigned on it" thing coming out of the wood work. He campaigned on a lot of things that he hasn't delivered on, and Obama supporters are like "wait, wait" but on this crappy escalation? They are just saying "why complain, he campaigned on it".

Some other questions: (4.00 / 2)
1) When did this stop being the Good War?  The one that was justified, the one that we were diverted from by the disastrous Iraqi invasion?  

2) Why are we so sure that bailing on Afghanistan is the right thing to do?  There seems to be absolute certainty around these parts that us staying there -- regardless of what we do -- causes more Afghani deaths, but that seems far less than a certainty to me.

3) Why is anyone surprised by Obama's decision?  It's not like he's been unclear about his opinion on Afghanistan and it being where we need to focus.

4) This is a politically unpopular decision on pretty much all fronts.  Doesn't that indicate that Obama isn't pandering, that he truly believes that this is the right thing to do, regardless of the political consequences?

I'm devils-advocating a bit, but I'm a bit shocked at how uniform the condemnation is.


I'll wait for the polling (4.00 / 1)
I'm pretty confident that there's a simple answer for "how uniform the condemnation is".  It's a little something called the vocal minority.

I'm not saying this will be a popular decision, only that as is common-place these days, the current discussion within the MSM and blogs isn't reality-based.


[ Parent ]
. (0.00 / 0)
1) This was never a Good War. This was just "good" compared to Iraq. Mainly a political move to win the election.

2) Because, there's no goal, no real plan for success, and no legitimate governmate. Just a money sink when we're already drowning in debt.

3) I don't think anyone is surprised, just angry that we're pouring money and lives away.

4) Its unpopular, but I have a feeling that pulling out or not sending more troops will screw him up. He owns this war by the way he talked it up. If he loses the war either by withdrawl or stagnating, he's a goner. When you own a war, you can't lose. America doesn't like losers. There's really only two ways out: win or have the next president come in pull out on the premise the previous president lost the war.

When you own a war like Iraq, Afghanistan, or Vietnam, could be bad if victory is not imminent.


[ Parent ]
He should be a "goner!" (0.00 / 0)
We are still being spyed upon on our computers, in our homes, and all over the place.  He has done NOTHING to eliminate domestic spying, nor has he ended torture or anything else that Bush started.  He is just another Bush tyrant, and he lied to us.  He gave us "False Hope," and for that, he cannot win another term.  Instead of "Hope," I now have nothing but "Hate." I expected to be kicked in the gut by Bush, but not by Obama.

[ Parent ]
"I'm confused: Is this hope or change?" Neither (4.00 / 1)
It's actually something the vocal minority aren't able to grasp: Reality.

Situations like these aren't fixed overnight.  Stop living in fantasy land and come back to reality.  You can't just pull the band-aid off with one tug.


Ditto (0.00 / 0)
And here's a thing: let's imagine Obama instead of his strategy announced a withdrawal of the troupes, along the lines of "This war is going nowhere, it costs too much and we have other priorities at home." and then that some time in 2011 or 2012 an islamist terrorist attack succeeds on American soil, killing hundreds. You know what? There would be no more Democrat POTUS for decades.

That's just how it works. I may be stupid but that's how it works.


[ Parent ]
sorry, (0.00 / 0)
I meant "It may be stupid..."
As far as me being stupid it's probably factual but not so relevant for the debate.

[ Parent ]
Not an endorsement, but... (4.00 / 1)
Yeah, sometimes escalation to end a war works... For instance, dropping 2 atomic bombs on Japan was somewhat of an escalation I'd say, and that ended things fairly quickly.  I'm sure there are plenty of other examples in history where we can find "overwhelming force" basically ending a war pretty quickly (and no, I don't think that's really the case here, but just making a point).

And no,  I'm not saying that I agree with the decision, or that we should drop nukes or something ridiculous like that, but I also don't think you're necessarily making sense when you call everyone stupid, or saying that Obama must think we're all stupid.  Actually, I wonder whether Obama would've made much of a speech at all if he though we were stupid.

In any case, this is basically what Obama advertised all throughout his campaign, so whether you think it's not "hope" or "change" as promised, he pretty much telegraphed this last year throughout the campaign.


All along the way Obama lies (2.00 / 2)
No surprise to those of us who paid attention before and during the last (s)election cycle. But boy were we shouted down by the creepiest cult of personality I've ever seen.

Those of you who supported O-Man are also responsible for the policies he promulgates and have ardently or tacitly condoned his actions as you have elevated him to office.

Barack Obama is a war criminal. He is nothing more than an errand boy for big business and the US war machine that serves as the mob boss which protects the profits of big business.

Now let's turn to a little reality and actual history for those who are still unaware of how grotesque were the fabrications of O-Man last night:

In 1978 the Afghan government of Mohammed Daoud Khan moved against the leading Afghan opposition political party, the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA). A leader of the party, Mir Akbar Khyber, was murdered and most of the leadership of the party were arrested during his funeral (reportedly at the instigation of the CIA). In response, the remainder of the PDPA staged an uprising which won power in April of 1978. The party immediately published a series of reforms which echoed the failed attempts at reform in Afghanistan going all the way back to the overthrow of the "reformist King", Amanullah Khan, in 1929.

Within days, the CIA began to organize and fund the reactionary and Islamist "opposition forces" in the countryside of Afghanistan, who had already been the fundamental barriers to reform for over a century. This was 2 years BEFORE the Soviets intervened in Afghanistan. Zbigniew Brzezinski has openly bragged that the purpose of the U.S. operations was to FORCE Soviet intervention.

The issues on which the CIA organized were the PDPA's Land Reform and the elimination of debts in the countryside (both of which attacked the power of the rural "warlords"), religious freedom (or the elimination of Sharia Law), and, most important of all, the granting of equal rights for women (which had also been central to the overthrow of Amanullah in 1929).

For the first time in Afghan history, a woman - Dr. Anahita Ratebzad, had become a member of the ruling Revolutionary Council. Less than one month after the uprising, Ratebzad wrote a famous May 28, 1978 New Kabul Times editorial which declared: "Privileges which women, by right, must have are equal education, job security, health services, and free time to rear a healthy generation for building the future of the country ... Educating and enlightening women is now the subject of close government attention."

In response, the CIA distributed leaflets throughout Afghanistan with Dr. Ratebzhad's face displayed prominently on them.

_______

Carter adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski stated: "According to the official version of history, CIA aid to the mujahideen began during 1980, that is to say, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan, December 24, 1979. But the reality, secretly guarded until now, is completely otherwise." Brzezinski himself played a fundamental role in crafting US policy, which, unbeknownst even to the mujahideen, was part of a larger strategy "to induce a Soviet military intervention." In a 1998 interview with Le Nouvel Observateur, Brzezinski recalled: "We didn't push the Russians to intervene, but we knowingly increased the probability that they would...That secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Soviets into the Afghan trap...The day that the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter. We now have the opportunity of giving to the Soviet Union its Vietnam War."

And who might you ask was Obama's favorite foreign adviser?

Answer: Z Biggy himself.



[ Parent ]
I do wish (4.00 / 1)
Leshrac55, that you would refrain from troll-rating people simply because they disagree with you. Although chlamor's tone is one I try not to use myself, what he has to say about President Obama, while debatable, is based on facts which are very much in evidence.

[ Parent ]
Totally! (0.00 / 0)
I wonder if it hurt chlamor's feelings when he was "shouted down by the creepiest cult of personality".  

Also, do you think he'll try to take action against President Obama because he's a "war criminal" and an "errand boy for big business and the US mar machine"?


[ Parent ]
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