Reject Afghanistan War Escalation

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[Global: Commentary]

President Barack Obama announced he will deploy 30,000 new combat troops to Afghanistan which he described as a terrorist "safe-haven" and "the epicenter of the violent extremism practiced by al-Qaeda."

This new deployment adds to the 71,000 troops already in Afghanistan bloating the total troop level over 100,000. In a time when we’re told there’s no money to revamp America’s lecherous, profit-driven healthcare system, Washington opposition to allocating more money—another $30 billion this year —to this latest misadventure is virtually non-existent.

The president started his speech saying "I want to speak to you tonight about our effort in Afghanistan - the nature of our commitment there, the scope of our interests, and the strategy that my Administration will pursue to bring this war to a successful conclusion." He also declared "I make this decision because I am convinced that our security is at stake in Afghanistan and Pakistan," adding "we will act with the full recognition that our success in Afghanistan is inextricably linked to our partnership with Pakistan."

In outlining his strategy, President Obama stated "I set a goal that was narrowly defined as disrupting, dismantling, and defeating al Qaeda and its extremist allies…" In speaking to the Afghans, he stated: "I want the Afghan people to understand - America seeks an end to this era of war and suffering. We have no interest in occupying your country."

Now, as the president said "this vast and diverse citizenry will not always agree on every issue—nor should we." On that, I agree. Because, although I voted for this president—and still support him—I cannot in good conscience agree with this decision.

One year ago, the American electorate voted in President Obama giving him a sweeping victory and a mandate to "change" America. Several months before that, on Jan. 31, 2008 then Senator Barack Obama said: "I don’t want to just end the war, but I want to end the mindset that got us into war in the first place. That’s the kind of leadership that I think we need from the next president of the United States. That’s what I intend to provide."

How does this decision change Washington’s warmongering "mindset?"

One of the most lucid lines, from the president’s West Point Speech, was when he rightly stated "We cannot capture or kill every violent extremist abroad." That reality lies at the heart of why this military effort will prove, eventually, to be a fruitless waste of time. For the only way "terrorism" can be defeated in Afghanistan and Pakistan is with the help of the Muslim people. And a vast majority of Muslims distrust the West far more than they do the extremists, with good reason.

For example, in the latter stages of the Bush Administration, after no "weapons of mass destruction" materialized, we were told we must bring "democracy" to Iraq.

The hypocritical irony here is that Western foreign policy has often aided and abetted the most despotic, undemocratic elements in the Middle East, like the dictators of Saudi Arabia.

For years average Saudis have been yearning for real democracy. But the Saudi Royal Family has thwarted democratic reforms. After 9-11 we were told 16 of the 19 hijackers, like Osama bin Laden, were from Saudi Arabia our supposed "ally." So, why do so many Saudi citizens hate America?

Didn’t many Saudis pledge to fight against America, while traveling to Iraq to help fuel the insurgency? Although were told that Iraq is stabilized, what future do the Iraqis have, after five years of destruction and death born of America’s imperial foreign policy?

We can’t even be honest about the numbers of Iraqis who’ve been murdered by American weapons, so why should Middle East Muslims believe anything we say? Isn’t it clear Muslims see through the façade and empty, phony rhetoric coming from the lying lips of our politicians?

The president made the mendacious statement that "Unlike the great powers of old, we have not sought world domination." Say what? Why do we fight so many wars? Why do we have so many military bases around the world? He also said we’ve "borne a special burden in global affairs." Wasn’t this "special burden" one of our own making?

Also, at one point in this speech, President Obama was quite emphatic in disagreeing with those who’ve made a comparison between Afghanistan and Vietnam. He stated the comparison is based "upon a false reading of history." In one particular salient point, he noted that "unlike Vietnam the American people were viciously attacked from Afghanistan."

That’s true and seems to be an implicit admission that our involvement in Vietnam was wrong. He also claimed we’re supported by "43 nations" and that "unlike Vietnam we’re not facing a broad-based popular insurgency."

Historical hairsplitting aside, the Afghanistan War is similar to Vietnam in one very important respect: the use of Asymmetric Warfare. That's warfare where unconventional and guerilla fighting methods are used by the weaker military opponent to compensate for that lack of military might. The use of these tactics by the Vietcong is a major reason why there was no "victory," by America, in that conflict.

The American military isn’t equipped to win these types of protracted hit-and-run wars of attrition. That was one lesson of Vietnam. Does anyone really think the Afghan War can be brought to an end in 18 months?

There’s no doubt very powerful forces want this war. War is big business. And the military industrial complex is a large behemoth that requires constant feeding.

This past November 22 was the 46 anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. One school of thought --which has significant following-- says he was killed because he sought to deescalate the mad rush to nuclear war some in the military were agitating for. Are these same forces again at work here?

If the world really wants to stop terrorism, then we should start feeding the poor and healing the sick. In the final analysis, terrorism cannot be defeated by war. War is terrorism.

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