Tuesday, December 29, 2009

New home for the New Decade

I have been very busy with the move and getting out of here so there has been little action on the writing front. The cleaning has been difficult physically and There has been almost zero help. I hope to take some time this weekend to reflect and hit the beach one last time before heading south. Looking forward to starting another new adventure. In the meantime check out some Robins in the rain.
video

Thursday, December 3, 2009

My post speech analysis

I gave my prespeech perspective here is my post speech wrap up. Needless to say by my last line you will be sure that I remain unconvinced.

My analysis of the program. The President is planning to increase troop strength by approximately 1/3 in the hopes of reversing the trend in return to Taliban control. 18 months from now having stabilized the situation we will begin to pull out in Jul 2011. We will have trained the Afghan security forces to replace us at providing protection for the local population from said Taliban. We will increase our efforts at creating an economy based on something other than narcotics and root out the corruption in the central government. We will then get completely out of Afghanistan in terms of combat operations at some future date dependent on conditions on the ground.
This I am sure in his opinion is the best of a bad lot of options. He used the usual fear tactics and military props to sell it and he gave a pretty lackluster speech to roll it out. I will leave it for the Daily Show and Jon Stewart to put together the side by side comparison of Bush selling us the Iraq surge with the same rhetoric. He tried to tell us this wasn’t the next Vietnam while trying to fight it like Iraq, another place it is not. Always fighting the last war isn’t that the problem?
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I will begin with point 1. Afghanistan and its’ citizens did not attack us on 9/11. The hijackers were from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates. The mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohamed was born in Kuwaiti of Pakistani refugee parents. Osama bin Laden the leader of this criminal band was another Saudi. In case you are not seeing the pattern here there are no Afghans on that list.
The history of The United States drawing all these criminal men to Afghanistan to fight against the Russians and then leaving them trained and heavily armed to prey on the populace should be well known Perhaps that is why the President left it out of his history narrative. I am only bringing it up to give the proper time horizon. Afghanistan has not had a functioning educational system in all that time. They have a 20% literacy rate, very bad but the bulk of the reading is taught at religious schools that instill fundamentalism, even worse.
Looking at the president's claim that a false reading of history leads to the Vietnam analogy. I contend that all analogies to past wars are pointless as no two situations are ever the same but the lessons learned still apply. Then he sets out points that are themselves a false reading of history. We had the entire west bloc from the cold war with us on the Vietnam war when it came to votes in the UN and world opinion. Our partners in the Vietnam war contributed huge numbers of troops. South Korea provided 320,000 troops to the war effort, more than all the contribution of the coalition of the willing in Afghanistan. We are sending 30,000 troops at a cost of roughly 60 billion dollars total, assuming you meet your withdrawal target. The Brits are sending an additional 500 while the Canadians are doing the smart thing and leaving. Half truths when it comes to war are inexcusable. The belief that soviet style communism posed a threat to the world unparalleled in the history of civilization prevailed in the world at the time so again the distinction does not exist.
The South Vietnamese government was deemed illegitimate by the world after the murder of Diem. Who did what isn’t the point so much as now the whole world knows that The current Afghan government is illegitimate. They stole the election and we went along with the Vietnam Coup.
Waving the bloody shirt of 9/11 rings false to me for the reasons I have already stated above but there is again an untruth in the Presidents statement. We had been viciously attacked in the Gulf of Tonkin. Of course that turned out not to be factually accurate as well.
The war lords and the Taliban have been fighting over the area for 30 plus years so the home grown insurgency argument may hold up the best of any of his points. The hero status of Ho Chi Minh among his followers remained intact throughout the war. The terrorism took much of the luster off the freedom fighter image of bin Laden. The war lords were horrible when they were in charge. The Taliban was religious horrible leading to the degradation of women and unbelievers. After 9/11 we hired the warlords as mercenaries and put them back into power. Now we have the war lords losing power once again because they are horribly corrupt and the people hate them again. The possibility exists that can win the people in Afghanistan there was no way in Vietnam.
Now as to why it isn’t like Iraq and Surge 2.0 Af/Pak is the last war. Iraq was a fully functioning nation with lots of educated urban people. The level of entrepreneurship and innovation was much higher even though they operated under a pretty brutal dictatorship. The countries economy weakened by years of sanctions was still much stronger than Afghanistan and with the oil fields able to raise cash rapidly after they were stabilized. The parts of Afghanistan we need to recruit the police forces and security forces from are the least educated portions of a horribly uneducated land. In 8 years we have still been unable to build an effective security force in Iraq, We still do not have all of our combat troops out. How can you expect to have anything like a functioning force in 18 months?
The myth that the Surge worked. The violence that occurred in Iraq post, "mission accomplished" was mostly ethnic cleansing. The once integrated sections segregated over time through violence against a foreground of terrorist Al Qaeda types fighting our troops. They unleashed the pent up hatred of the suppressed majority on the oppressors and unlike South Africa in Iraq we got Liberia.
The violence had already begun to decline before the new troops arrived in Iraq so the idea that they caused the reduction is in question. We have been paying off vast numbers of the players all along in the Afghan operation. In Iraq we began paying them to not fight as a change in strategy. At first we made every effort to ensure that no American monies went to anyone that had fought against our troops. It was not until that policy was changed that we began to have some success. The promise of jobs with the police and security forces. We are running out of patience for paying them off and they are not getting the promised jobs in the Iraq government and violence is ticking back up. In Afghanistan we have been paying bribes to build bases bribes to drive on roads, bribes for information and bribes for safe conduct of our supplies since the very beginning. The development money has been sucked up by corruption much the same as in Iraq but as it was a significantly smaller number the amount that trickled down to the population was correspondingly small.
I have no way to verify all of the rumors about The CIA and their paying off of President Karzai’s brother and how much of the 15 billion we bribed the Pakistani’s with went to the other side so we have no non corrupt partner in the region.
I Give the President some credit for at least trying to put forth arguments and justifications for his plan as opposed to The Bush pattern of the lies about babies being thrown from incubators as Bush 41 did or Lies about Uranium yellow cake and mushroom clouds as Bush 43 did.
He failed to answer what went wrong with his last escalation. He has deployed 31,000 troops to Afghanistan already in his short presidency. Why did that escalation fail and what changed that that makes you think doubling down will work now?
It is important at this point to look at the goal of the other side here. They want to cause us to spend so much money that our system collapses. They believe that this is what they did to the Soviet Empire. I would submit another misreading of history.
There were vague statements about paying for the war. No commitment to pay for it. With this President if it is not explicitly spelled out he will not honor his pledge. Even when it is explicit he will not necessarily honor it as in the case of FISA immunity. The General in charge has been proven to lie to the nation as a propagandist so he cannot be trusted, Google Pat Tillman cover up. It was Gates that was Secretary of Defense when the requested troops were not sent. Rumsfeld had been replaced with the man you kept when McKiernan's requests were denied. You cannot use half truths to lie us further into war you must tell the whole truth.
As in Vietnam we will get more people killed and the end result will be the same failed stalemate we could have gotten 3 years earlier. The other alternative is that we continue to fail at securing the country and three years from now we are force to throw more blood and treasure into a failed enterprise. I will leave you with this question. Hey, Hey LBJ How many Kids will Obama Kill Today?