Saturday, July 11, 2009

Talking Peace Not War

America's commanding general in Afghanistan is are already talking about more US troops for that effort which is coming to be known as Obama's Long War, a name first introduced as a replacement for the Global War on a Noun, by Donald Rumsfeld, I think, and unfortunately adopted by the Obama Administration as a reality of American foreign policy. Just in case you weren't paying attention, this means Obama intends to keep American forces in Afghanistan for a while. In a couple of years, the US will have been in-country there for as long as the Soviets, a dubious distinction. It also helps that our adversaries are not financed, armed and trained by a rival superpower.

All of which leads me to ask why the US is insisting on military force when the Taliban has put forth eminently reasonable terms for a cease-fire, transitional government determined by Afghans and withdrawal of foreign forces. I don't see anything objectionable in the terms and while I know that the devil is in the details, somehow working toward a settlement that incorporates non-violence and self-determination makes more sense than military force imposed by foreign forces.

All of which leads me to ask, once more, what the fuck we are accomplishing with our extended occupation of Afghanistan. The Taliban's peace plan addresses our concern about sanctuary for hostile attacks on the United States. What else? Nation building? That won't happen without the consent of the governed, including the Taliban. Womens' rights? That's a very hard sell in a traditional culture, a change that is more likely to come about from within, not at the point of our bayonets. Energy? Surely nothing that crass unless, of course, you understand the logic of military capitalism. So keep that in mind, all those billions of dollars and lives are an investment in this century's Great Game in central Asia.

Actually, a negotiated settlement in Afghanistan will not only spare lives and treasure. A stable government supported by all factions, which only Afghans can create, will go a long way toward whatever resource interests other nations may have in Afghanistan.

On a side note, I am pleased to see that Obama's national security advisor speaks of any additional resources for Afghanistan as an international responsibility. Whatever, concerns the US has in that nation are shared concerns. I hope Obama will remember that.

It's also interesting to note that General McChrystal, a long time special operations officer, wants to replace Navy and Air Force provisional reconstruction teams with Army special operations forces. the Navy and Air Force object to the change. After all, that leaves them out of the biggest national security effort this nation is making and could mean that the Army will get a bigger share of the budget. Can't let that happen.



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