Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Lyndon Obama? If So, Inflation and Other Bad Things Await . . .

Years after the 9/11 attacks, the U. S. is virtually initiating a new war in Afghanistan as well as forcing its client state Pakistan to attack the Taliban in its strongholds. Here is recent news about the Afghan war, starting with the AP report 7 U.S. Troops Killed Throughout Afghanistan:

Bombs and bullets killed seven American troops on Monday, the deadliest day for U.S. forces in Afghanistan in nearly a year — and a sign that the war being fought in the Taliban heartland of the south and east could now be expanding north. . .

On a visit to Moscow, President Barack Obama said it's too soon to measure the success of his new strategy in Afghanistan. He said the U.S. can take another look at the situation after the country's presidential elections on Aug. 20.

I'll measure the success of his strategy for him. The U. S. has never won a land war in Asia, and the British and French empires lost a few as well. How's that for odds? Plus, he may have noticed that there is quite an economic banana going on at home that could use the services of a few good men and women. And between rebuilding New Orleans, an inner city elsewhere, or a rural home vs. being a Marine in Afghanistan, I'll take the U. S. post. From Military.com in Marines March in Grueling Sun for July 4:

NAWA, Afghanistan - Taliban militants were nowhere in sight as the columns of U.S. Marines walked a third straight day across southern Afghanistan. But the desert heat proved an enemy in its own right, with several troops falling victim Saturday to temperatures topping 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

The Marines carry 50-100 pounds (23-45 kilograms) on their backs. But because they are marching through farmland on foot, they can't carry nearly as much water as their thirst demands. . .

So far, the worst danger facing Bravo is the heat. Temperatures are well above 100 degrees (37.8 Celsius), and medics treated several heat casualties Saturday.

"When (body) temperature goes up past 104 (40 Celsius), your brain starts cooking, and that's what we're trying to prevent," said Simon Trujillo, an HM3 Navy Medic from Dallas.

The high heat, heavy packs, limited water and three straight days of walking through tough farmland terrain were taking a toll, he said. Several Marines threw up or were dry-heaving from the heat. Three passed out, and other Marines rushed to share the weight and pour water on overheated bodies. . .

Sweat pours off faces as Marines shift heavy weapons from one shoulder to the other. Everyone still carries all the ammunition they arrived with in the dark hours of early Thursday, because this unit has not yet exchanged fire.

The Marines walk in columns down dusty dirt roads, and every couple dozen steps they bend over at the waist to give aching shoulders a break. During frequent breaks, medics go up and down the line, looking to see if their men are drinking water.

"It'd be so great if we took contact. We'd lose so much weight," said Lance Corp. Michael Estrada, 20, of Los Angeles.

You know things are not going according to plan when a corporal wishes for the dangers of combat so that they could lighten their load. (Hasn't the military heard of either pack mules or vehicles to carry materiel?)

Here is Military.com's follow-up on the war, in the July 6 article 'The Enemy has Gone to Ground':

A scorching desert littered with bombs, little contact, an invisible enemy: the Marines who descended on Taliban bastions in southern Afghanistan will have to face guerrilla tactics proven against the Soviets, an analyst says.

"Nawa is quiet, too quiet," commanding officer of the operation, Brig. Gen. Larry Nicholson, said of the town where some of the 4,000 Marines involved had deployed Thursday at the start of the assault in Helmand province.

"The enemy has gone to ground," he said.

By Sunday, four days into the first military test of President Barack Obama's new strategy for Afghanistan, the Marines had faced little resistance except in Mian Poshteh where a U.S. officer said 200 battled about 40 Taliban.

This was even though they had pushed into areas where the government in Kabul had little or no control, and where the Taliban had in some cases established a parallel administration.

Dutch Maj. Gen. Mart de Kruif, commander of about 30,000 NATO-led troops in the region, estimates there are 10,000 to 18,000 Taliban fighters in volatile southern Afghanistan.

"When guerrilla fighters see that the enemy is bigger in number and facilities, have an upper hand on the ground and in the air, all they do is let the enemy take over," said Afghan analyst Waheed Mujda.

The U. S. has never had, to my knowledge, a significant price inflation except for wartime. Strategically, tactically and economically, Barack Obama is taking quite a gamble in Afghanistan. The cognitive dissonance of this strenuous opponent even of the "surge" in Iraq doing his own surge against a guerrilla enemy in the Moon-like country of Afghanistan is quite remarkable. Considering that much of the current Afghan conflict is a local one for control of the narcotics trade, perhaps a wiser approach would be to spend the war money at home on the economy and on strategies to prevent drug use.

Everyone including the Taliban knows that if the U. S. truly wants, it can have its way in Afghanistan if another 9/11 emanates from there. We can be like Rome returning to Carthage, where on returning it razed the city and salted it to prevent another city from rising. The moral of Bush II's Iraq War is that the Powell Doctrine was sound: use overwhelming force, or no force at all, in an elective war. This War is being done on the cheap with a military that is still concentrated in Iraq.

The certain winners from the President's Af-Pak war strategy are the Merchants of Death and Merchants of Debt. The likely losers are the long-suffering Afghans. I fear that Americans will join the latter as losers unless they are in the armaments business or prosper by helping the Treasury sell its mountains of debt necessary to sustain foreign wars.

Copyright (C) Long Lake LLC 2009

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