America needs immediate treatment for its AA addiction to itself

American Arrogance not only leads us into unnecessary wars and other international disasters it also means our execution of these failed-from-the-start missions is woefully inadequate. That’s because Americans continue to insist that they are superior to everyone else in the world. When you are superior that means you know better than those inferiors you are trying to help. That means you don’t have to bother with understanding their culture and current situation. Just convert them to your culture and they will be forever grateful. See what I mean about arrogance and our addiction?

Even with the most recent horrendous failure examples of Iraq and Afghanistan only minute cracks are developing in the denial wall of those suffering from AA. One NYT article published yesterday shows the consequence of misguided development projects due to AA and another in WaPo hints that there is a slim chance AA can be brought under control. I will leave the question of whether a cure will ever be found for readers to ponder. It will probably come down to living one day at a time.

The Times article says the U.S. fears Iraq development projects to the tune of $53 billion may go to waste. It says that, “there are growing concerns among American officials that Iraq will not be able to adequately maintain the facilities once the Americans have left, potentially wasting hundreds of millions of dollars and jeopardizing Iraq’s ability to provide basic services to its people.” (Not sure how $53 billion may go to waste tracks with wasting hundreds of millions, but that’s the quality of “journalism” we get from our M$M today.)

First we destroy Iraq on lies and a desire to steal their oil, then in our attempts to help Iraqis reconstruct their country our officials who are investigating the failures say American authorities have, “repeatedly failed to ask Iraqis what sort of projects they needed and have not followed up with adequate training.” See why we need immediate treatment for AA?

It’s not as if the addicted weren’t warned as the idiocy progressed. Stuart W. Bowen Jr., inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, said his watchdog agency had “regularly raised concerns about the potential waste of U.S. taxpayer money resulting from reconstruction projects that were poorly planned, badly transferred, or insufficiently sustained by the Iraqi government.”

I know its painful, but I have to continue to build my case for a serious intervention. The Times article reported:

In hundreds of cases during the past two years, the Iraqi government has refused or delayed the transfer of American-built projects because it cannot staff or maintain them, Iraqi and American government officials say. Other facilities, including hospitals, schools and prisons built with American funds, have remained empty long after they were completed because there were not enough Iraqis trained to operate them.

As large-scale construction projects — power plants, water-treatment systems and oil facilities — have been completed, there has been concern regarding the ability of Iraqis to maintain and fund their operations once they are handed over to the Iraqi authorities,” said a recent analysis prepared for Congress by the Congressional Research Service. The Government Accountability Office and the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction have also issued reports in the past several months about the potential failure of American-financed projects once they are transferred to Iraq.

We haven’t done any better in Afghanistan and the waste would be just as bad as Iraq, but Iraq kept only a trickle of money flowing to Afghanistan where civilian economic projects could have been far more successful than enlarged military operations that have mostly made things worse.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton from the moment she started her job has been saying the right things about changing the priorities. Those in the Obama administration who have been fighting a military surge, have been emphasizing projects that will help the Afghanistan government and its people to take charge of their own destiny. Both military and non-military assistance are very long-term projects. If Obama can’t see which of the two would get much longer support from the American voter and cost far less than one million per troop per year during our severe economic crisis then he is not as smart as people, including me, believe he is.

While the 2010 Defense budget for the first time calls for higher expenditures for Afghanistan over Iraq, the State Department has a paltry six billion to spend combined for 2009 and 2010. Ambassador Eikenberry has asked for at least 300 more civilians over the next three years to oversea the execution of non-military projects. The WaPo article I mentioned that hints at doing something about these repeated AA failures involves training of those civilians in Indiana. Training them in how to understand and work with different cultures. How novel.

As proof of how valid this training may be, the article said, “The State Department hopes that this kind of role-playing will prepare hundreds of new “civilian surge” recruits to deal with two foreign cultures — the U.S. military and Afghanistan.” The Post reported:

When President Obama announced what the White House called a “comprehensive new strategy” for the Afghanistan war last March, he called for a “dramatic increase in our civilian effort” that included additional diplomats and experts in agriculture, education, health and rule of law sent to Kabul and to provincial reconstruction teams across the country. Despite early difficulties finding and clearing sufficient numbers of volunteers, Deputy Secretary Jacob L. Lew said during a visit to Indiana on Thursday that the State Department was “on track” to triple the number of civilians, to 974, by early next year.

My hope is that when Obama announces his military decisions on the mission and exit strategy, he will also ask for a realistic amount of civilian resources and personnel to allow our military to exit ASAP. Even though this makes simple common sense, to wonder if it will happen shows the degree of AA addiction America must overcome.


  1. dirigo says:

    One important point raised over the last few days (and this is not something that can be blithely ping-ponged about as if it’s just another ideological volley) is that if Obama accepts Gen. Mc Chrystal’s troop request of some 40,000 more troops for Afghanistan, there will be, at the time of the order, virtually no ready stateside force of any consequence for use in any other sudden crisis, should one occur.

    It’s been reported that, after the order is issued, the ready troops left stateside would amount to only two or three brigades (say 8 – 12,000). Nearly all other active troops currently stateside are in the “dwell” mode – resting, training, not at ready status.

    Assuming no other sudden crisis requiring more combat troops, the only way pressure on the Army can be relieved is by sliding the schedule of the assignments of brigades to Afghanistan (stretching it out) while hoping that enough troops now assigned to Iraq can leave during the same schedule. Also, the hope would be that, along the way, some units now resting stateside will be deemed ready to deploy; and many of them will be heading for their second, third, or even fourth combat tours since 2003.

    This kind of in-out manpower pipeline to the two fronts assumes Iraq will be stable enough in the short term for the Iraqis to “stand up while we stand down.”

    Good luck with that.

    • rmp says:

      Very good points. One of the reasons that the Iraqis have not done as much as they could on reconstruction and are now upping the visibility on the problem is to keep Uncle Sugar pouring money into Iraq and even delaying some of the pull out. No doubt a lot of billions has gone to corruption. I don’t see Obama buying into any delay.

      The troop stress by delaying the Iraq pull out would be too severe if he is going to send another 25-40,000 into Afghanistan. If Obama makes the wise decision to only increase by 10-20,000 to save face for himself and the generals and has a true exit strategy and plans to not get into the same bind that Lyndon Johnson did, he will need to really beef up the civilian surge.

      I sure wish Obama would take the time to watch Moyers Journal airing last night and listen carefully to the discussion Johnson had with his staff and congress critters.

      Moyers considers a President’s decision to escalate troop levels in a military conflict. (Part 1) (Part 2)

      • dirigo says:

        It was extremely difficult, and painful, to listen to Moyers’ coda in the review of Johnson and Vietnam.

        Simply unbelievable – after all these years.

      • Moyers’ recap of LBJ’s arduous decisions regarding the buildup in Vietnam is very important in light of Obama’s similar circumstances. If you listen to Johnson and his advisors, you’ll note that no one was saying, “How are we going to win this thing?”

        All the talk early on (1964) was, “How do we keep this under the radar until after the election.” After that it moved to “What troop level do we need, and how much infrastructure support can we afford, to maintain the situation until the South Vietnamese can support themselves?”

        The similarities to today’s situation in Afghanistan are frightening. Obama is facing one of the toughest decisions in his administration in regard to the Afghanistan buildup. I personally feel that we have already won this war (we eliminated the Al Qaeda threat in Afghanistan) and it’s time to come home. Getting out of there with the minimum amount of harm to our troops should be our primary objective at this point.

        • rmp says:

          I want to get out as fast as we can. However, just as in Iraq, our invasions gives us responsibility to try and fix what we have messed up. Unfortunately, most of our generals only see war as a competition and the messes are to be cleaned up by others later. That kind of mindset needs to change. In today’s world, the big picture has to be constantly in mind when executing the parts especially when in a country with entirely different cultures and needs.

          One problem with going with an all volunteer force after Nam and developing a very professional force with very sophisticated weapons is military leaders believe even more than in Nam that they are capable of almost anything. Even though all our foreign wars and operations since then should have developed humility and better sense in our military leaders, it obviously hasn’t. Four-stars who have gone through the very rigorous challenge of rising through the very competitive ranks often get a big head that makes it hard for them to keep humble.

  2. cocktailhag says:

    Iraq is probably the best example of AA…. We went in, and under “de-Baathification,” got rid of the whole Iraqi administrative class in one fell swoop, and sent in thieves, charlatans, and Jesus freaks to run the place, American-style. And of course, we showed the Iraqis how corrupt, incompetent, and indifferent about their future we were in the process. Predictable and expensive disaster ensued. We should be out of there, and I mean OUT. All aid should be channeled into microloans for Iraqi businesses that employ Iraqis, and spending decisions can no longer be made in Washington, and if I hear we plan to “train” somebody as though they were a slow child or dog one more time…… Talk about AA.
    Great piece, RMP.

    • rmp says:

      Right on article and so is this six minute audio from NPR’s On The Media of James Fallows accurate criticism of our pathetic M$M and their coverage of Obama’s China visit.

      On the Media: Obama in China- The President returned from his first trip to China on Thursday. The Atlantic’s James Fallows talks about the trip, and the mostly negative U.S. press coverage it received. (This really nails the incompetence of the M$M by a real expert on China who has recently lived in China for several years.)

  3. consuela says:

    Same ol’, same ol’.
    Who are we kidding? Cure? Get over it.

    Sometime in the 60′s I think it was George Wallace who said:
    “Why does the Air Force need expensive new bombers? Have the people we’ve been bombing over the years been complaining?”

    I was born during the Korean War and grew up during the Vietnam War. Nothing is changing boys and girls, nothing.

    Protested, demonstrated, gassed, hand cuffed, hell, I even voted.

    I’ve just never understood why we can’t even take a smidgen (like a cool couple billion from whatever trillions) of that money we use on killing people in other countries and use it like say, on health care in this country.
    (Oh wait, we’re afraid of terrorists. Oh wait, we’re not afraid to be sick, without a home, a job and/or all in excruciating cancerous pain. But…
    Oh wait, God Forbid, that’s socialism. A cure worse than slow death.)

    Anyway, if we’re so God Almighty Powerful and Arrogant why do these wars take so long? How long does it take to destroy a little picayune country and it’s people?

    And then, I really don’t get this: we stay in this ‘other’ country and help them put it all back together? Even Humpty Dumpty had trouble with that one.
    I thought we went there to screw ‘em (with AA)?
    For crying out loud, let’s put on our “big boy pants” or take them off as the case may be and “screw ‘em” already.

    Get all our children, the sacks of cash, a humvee or two and come the hell home.
    Come build that hospital here, we have staff that can run it. Come build that water treatment plant here, we have knowledgeable staff to run it. Small projects, large projects bring them here. Plenty of people out of work here that can operate it, build it, staff it, whatever you need.

    But no, same stupid ass shit.

    (Sorry CH, maybe I haven’t had enough coffee this AM or maybe too much)

    But wait, just one more quote, love this, it works for people and countries:

    Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
    —Albert Einstein

  4. mikeinportc says:

    “….there are growing concerns among American officials that Iraq will not be able to adequately maintain the facilities once the Americans have left…”

    Such as the oil-fired power plant, that had a gas pipeline built (almost) to it, before anyone realized that anything was amiss?

    Afghan MP Malalai Joya says that we, and all the other foreign troops should get out now .—liberation-was-just-a-big-lie

    And, she says, U.S. President Barack Obama, who is considering a surge in troop levels to battle Al Qaeda and the Taliban, should think again.

    “The United States should go, too. As long as foreign troops are in the country we will be fighting two enemies instead of one.”

    Yes, she says, there is a risk of civil war, as happened when the Soviet Union gave up the fight against U.S.-backed Afghan Islamists 20 years ago. But it would still be better than “night raids, torture and aerial bombardment” that killed hundreds of Afghan civilians while the Taliban made steady gains.

    “Liberation was just a big lie.” Joya believes Afghans are now better prepared to battle the Taliban alone – if the warlords are disarmed, and the international community helps build a society that can push back against extremism.

    It is a tall order, she admits. But “resistance has increased, and people are becoming more aware of democracy and human rights. They need humanitarian and educational support.”

    But not, she adds, at the point of a gun.

    (She was in Toronto to plug her book, A Woman Among Warlords. )

    I noticed another article also. Seems that Harper, who has made a point of pinting out human rights abuses by China, is expecting to get an earful in China. Some allegations have surfaced that Canadians turned prisoners over to our freedom-loving Afghan friends, for the purpose of torturing confessions out of them. The current ambassador to China is supposed to have authorized it. Oops!

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