Thursday, October 8, 2009

More Bad News from Afghanistan

Courtesy of a Naked Capitalism link, please read American troops in Afghanistan losing heart, say army chaplains, from the London Times Online. The article claims that the chaplains were speaking out because the soldiers could not do so under military rules. Here is one section of the article:

The chaplains said soldiers were seeking their help in unprecedented numbers. “Everyone you meet is just down, and you meet them everywhere — in the weight room, dining facility, getting mail,” said Captain Rico. Even “hard men” were coming to their tent chapel and breaking down.

The men are frustrated by the lack of obvious purpose or progress. “The soldiers’ biggest question is: what can we do to make this war stop. Catch one person? Assault one objective? Soldiers want definite answers, other than to stop the Taleban, because that almost seems impossible. It’s hard to catch someone you can’t see,” said Specialist Mercer.

“It’s a very frustrating mission,” said Lieutenant Hjelmstad. “The average soldier sees a friend blown up and his instinct is to retaliate or believe it’s for something [worthwhile], but it’s not like other wars where your buddy died but they took the hill. There’s no tangible reward for the sacrifice. It’s hard to say Wardak is better than when we got here.”

Captain Masengale, a soldier for 12 years before he became a chaplain, said: “We want to believe in a cause but we don’t know what that cause is.”

Yours truly has a flexible record regarding American wars and military efforts. I participated in several major anti-Vietnam War rallies; supported the Reagan "peace through strength" military build-up to exhaust the USSR (clearly a success), supported Bush I's Gulf War, thought Bush II's Iraq War was highly elective but "OK" assuming that a clear plan for the future had been covertly worked out with the other powers in Iraq (obviously false), strongly supported the Iraq surge on the Colin Powell "Pottery Barn" theory that since we broke Iraq, we owned it and therefore needed to make a real effort to leave the country better than it was pre-surge.

The Afghan adventure looks to have been better thought out by the Bush team than by the Obama team. Candidate and then President Obama need not have "surged" and used strong rhetoric as recently as August 2009 in favor of victory in Afghanistan. But he did it. As a result . . .

President Obama looks like a deer trapped in the headlights on Afghanistan. Al-Qaeda appears to have decamped to Pakistan and points west; the Karzai government is crooked; the actual fighting may be primarily a civil war between rival gangs of narcotics traffickers; the country has no economic value; and the U. S. Government is already spending vastly more than its income on domestic issues and thus will have to restrict that spending to ramp up further in Afghanistan.

Guns and butter. It failed once. Mr. Obama does not want to be an LBJ. Please read the linked article.

Save Afghanistan?

What about California?

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