Monday, September 27, 2010

Searching For Excuses

Searching For Excuses
By Lorenzo Canizares

Every day something happens in Afghanistan that reminds us that we should be out of there as quickly as we can, one of the latest being the Kabul Bank inability to meet its financial obligations to 250,000 public employees including security officials and the military. To indicate the seriousness of the situation, barbed wire was placed around the Kabul Bank which had been encircled by armed trucks and national security forces from the Afghan Intelligence Agency who had replaced guards from a security company owned by the brother of the Bank’s former chief executive officer.

Dexter Filkins in an excellent article in the New York Times’ Week in Review section of 9/5/10 “Inside Corrupt-istan” let us know that the corruption is so well-established that intricate charts have been drawn up by American officers and their NATO counterparts outlining the criminal syndicates that connect the Afghan business and political elites. They have even given a name to the charts “Malign Actor Networks” aka MAN. Transparency International awards Afghanistan the title of the most corrupt nation in the world.

But, Filkins also let us know that some of the same “Malign Actors” that our officers are railing against are on the payroll of the CIA. One of them being President Hamid Karzai’s brother who has been long suspected of being a key player in the nation’s booming drug trade. No wonder Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, a Republican holdover from the Bush years, has developed a sweeping plan for adjusting downward the nation’s ever-increasing military budget. Our corruption minded contacts have no compunction about taking American taxpayers monies for their own gratification!

In this given scenario, how can we expect to find the necessary stability to be able to defeat the Taliban? As per Filkins, if his reliable Afghan contacts are to be believed, it’s the corruption itself that is the instability’s root cause. As former Afghanistan’s Deputy Attorney General Fazel Ahmad Fargiyar has said “The law in this country is only for the poor.” And the hate for the thieves-in-power is very palpable. Filkins quotes Ahmed Shah Hakim, who runs a Currency Exchange in Kabul, as saying “What the Americans need to do is take these Afghans and put them on a plane and fly them to America – and then crash the plane into a mountain. Kill them all.”

Filkins provides another example of what we are trying to defend. President Karzai made a political appearance to a gathering of tribal elders. He came in, gave a rousing speech and left. Nobody that came in with Karzai including Americans seemed interested in hearing what the elders had to say. As per Filkins the elders had a lot to say. There was no lost love for the Taliban, but they hated their Afghan leaders even more.

Our military seem not too concerned about these corruption problems or political failings. Gen. David Petraeus have been parading through the TV circuit letting the nation know that Obama’s timetable is ultimately subjected to his professional advice. Gen. Petraeus suggested that Obama had left wiggle room in the pullout timetable, by taking in consideration the conditions on the ground.

Amongst Barack Obama’s many projected tasks is to reform the country he took upon himself the responsibility for winning the war in Afghanistan. Afghanistan has now become Obama’s war. The Republicans have been very happy to cooperate with him in this issue. It’s a win-win situation for them. The longer the war prolongs the more money their friends in the military/industrial/security complex continue to make. If the war is lost they could point out to Obama’s inability to lead the nation to victory, unlike the perception that the Surge “won” Iraq. If they are able to mobilize their massive spin machine they will be able to capitalize on Obama’s defeat as they did with LBJ inability to win in Vietnam. Who remember the many programs that were passed during the Johnson presidency?

There is no doubt in my mind that President Obama’s inclination is to leave Afghanistan as soon as possible. Bob Herbert, New York Times columnist, refers to Jonathan Alter’s “The Promise” where Obama is quoted as saying to Gen. Petraeus “If you can’t do the things you say you can in 18 months then no one is going to suggest we stay, right?” And Petraeus is quoted as replying “Yes Sir, in Agreement.”It now seems that Petraeus was just telling Obama what he wanted to hear. The New York Times recently had an article with the headlines “General opposes a rapid pullout in Afghanistan.” Obama, in the other hand, opposes any attempt to engage in nation-building going beyond 18 months. Even though as Jules Witcover states in an article published in Liberal Opinion on 9/1/10 “while not explicitly stated, the timetable was clearly a political sop to antiwar Democrats in Congress and the recognition of growing public impatience with the long war in the face of deep economic distress at home.”

On 9/21/10, it was reported nine of our soldiers perished when a helicopter fell down. The initial impression given was that the helicopter fell down because of mechanical failure. No, I don’t believe so. Michael O’Hanlon, a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, in an excellent article on Foreign Affairs 9-10/10 edition established that the Taliban and other insurgent groups have substantially improved their battlefield tactics. Their capabilities to attack have grown by leaps and bounds. Militarily, they have the upper hand, and we can’t handle that truth.

The logical conclusion is for us to start looking for ways to establish a process of peace talks with the Taliban while adhering to the timetable stated by President Obama. The members of the MIS complex (those that Gen. Eisenhower warned us about) will say that then we will be negotiating from a position of weakness. What do we care from what position do we negotiate from? We are not making any nor we have the wherewithal to make military headway, our allies are speaking out with their feet, our economic distress keeps going deeper (we are talking nation-building in Afghanistan or Corrupt-istan while American people keep losing jobs, homes, health benefits, teachers, and hope). The Taliban is not Al-Qaeda. It is disingenuous to say they are of the same. It will be much cheaper for us to negotiate a ‘Peace Package” than to continue in a war that is bankrupting our nation. As said before, those that want us to remain engaged militarily their main worry is losing the huge subsidy that American taxpayers are providing them. Maybe if we could go to war with Iran?

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