War Hawks and President Obama, the COST is much too high

Frank Rich in his op-ed today really nailed the Afghanistan myths and the War Hawks deadly foolish desire to send 40-80,00 more troops into a mission and country they clearly don’t understand:

McChrystal thinks we might even jolly up those Muslims who historically and openly hate America. “I don’t think much of the Taliban are ideologically driven,” he told Dexter Filkins of The Times. “In my view their past is not important. Some people say, ‘Well, they have blood on their hands.’ I’d say, ‘So do a lot of people.’ I think we focus on future behavior.”

Whether we could win those hearts and minds is, arguably, an open question — though it’s an objective that would require a partner other than Hamid Karzai and many more troops than even McChrystal is asking for (or America presently has). But to say that McChrystal’s optimistic — dare one say politically correct? — view of Muslim pliability doesn’t square with that of America’s hawks is the understatement of the decade.

As their Fort Hood rhetoric made clear, McChrystal’s most vehement partisans don’t trust American Muslims, let alone those of the Taliban, no matter how earnestly the general may argue that they can be won over by our troops’ friendliness (or bribes). If, as the right has it, our Army cannot be trusted to recognize a Hasan in its own ranks, then how will it figure out who the “good” Muslims will be as we try to build a “stable” state (whatever “stable” means) in a country that has never had a functioning central government? If our troops can’t be protected from seemingly friendly Muslim American brethren in Killeen, Tex., what are the odds of survival for the 40,000 more troops the hawks want to deploy to Kabul and sinkholes beyond?

Rich points out that Matthew Hoh, a former active duty Marine and, until recently, a State Department official in Afghanistan, and retired three-star Army general and currently our Afghanistan ambassador Karl W. Eikenberry are asking the question of Obama no War Hawk can answer, “Do you want Americans fighting and dying for the Karzai regime? Rich’s final paras say it all:

We don’t know everything in those cables. What we do know is that American intelligence continues to say that fewer than 100 Qaeda operatives can still be found in Afghanistan. We also know that the Taliban, which are currently estimated to number in the tens of thousands, can’t be eliminated. As McChrystal put it to Filkins, there is no “finite number” of Taliban, so there’s no way to vanquish them. Hence his counterinsurgency alternative, which could take decades, costing untold billions and countless lives.

Perhaps those on the right are correct about Hasan, and he is just one cog in an apocalyptic jihadist plot that has infiltrated our armed forces. If so, then they have an obligation to explain how pouring more troops into Afghanistan would have stopped Hasan from plotting in Killeen. Don’t hold your breath. If we have learned anything concrete so far from the massacre at Fort Hood, it’s that our hawks, for all their certitude, are as utterly confused as the rest of us about who it is we’re fighting in Afghanistan and to what end.

All RWCAs (C is for Cowardly) whether in congress or the Serious national security “expert” world or the sick pundits, can counter one simple argument, even if McChrystal’s counterinsurgency proposal would eventually work (whatever work means), America simply can’t afford it. America can’t afford it economically or for the certain continuing loss of standing in the world and morally for what it will cost our brave men and women and their families in our military who will pay far too high a price and “to what end.” The end of America as we know it, not from a military win or defeat, but from an economic debt-ridden collapse and subsequent victory by our economic world competitors.

Neither al-Qaeda or the Taliban come even close to threatening our national security. America is the national security threat. The cost of continuing to go after terrorists, poses a grave threat due to a cost that is there for all to see if our “experts” and political “leaders” would just take off their arrogant, rose colored, we are better than anyone else glasses.

Our world competitors who have a great advantage because of what their workers are paid and what they don’t pay for their defense, are secretly cheering our farcical foolishness of believing we can afford the cost of staying long-term in Afghanistan. If we do, we have no chance economically but to become a failed empire full of suffering citizens who will look back and say, “How could we be so foolish to believe that fearing just thousands of terrorists and exporting American Democracy into a country that was far from ready was more important than our survival?”

In hindsight, think of what we could have accomplished and saved if we had just pumped money and technical assistance into Afghanistan after chasing al-Qaeda into Pakistan and not had political War Hawks, oil baron lovers, lie us into Iraq. Now we better have the foresight to see the utter foolishness of McChrystal’s desires as a competitive military commander to “win” and one who is not charged with considering the economic cost and where our true national security threat lies.


  1. cocktailhag says:

    I’m with you on this, RMP. It won’t happen, but the only thing to do is shut down both wars NOW. The righties will scream, so let’s give them something to scream about that might have actual benefits here at home. Ironically, the collapse of the American Empire may be Bush’s “Legacy” in the end, and the world will thank him for it. Americans, not so much.
    “We can’t afford it. Are you going to pay?” Is the only rejoinder any righty needs from this moment on.
    O/T… Looks like the Moonie Times is about kaput. Well, if you pick up a WaPoo, you can see that it’s no longer needed anyway.

    • dirigo says:

      I have read this week (Financial Times, 11/5) that in October the Iraqi government agreed to its second big oil deal of this year: with Eni of Italy, Kogas of Korea, and Occidental of the US, to develop the Zubair field, Iraq’s largest.

      Earlier this year, according to FT, Britain’s BP and China’s CNPC struck the first drilling deals since the American military invasion.

      Iraqi officials said in the report they hope these contracts will get Iraq pumping 10 to 12 million barrels a day from their oil resource, the third largest in the world.

      I’m not sure how many American troops should remain in the country. Maybe none. At the same time, there appears a lingering argument for continued stability in Iraq since their economy looks to be recovering. Finally.

      Are the Iraqis ready to stand up so we can stand down?


      The right is trying to stampede Obama, just as they did Johnson, and that’s one valid and ugly comparison to Vietnam, even if there are no others.

      These troops are being abused. We don’t have enough of them to sustain rotation after rotation without (dare I say it?) a draft; and all the chicken hawks will go on as if there’s no moral dilemma at work here.

      It’s wrong to keep using these people this way.

      Isn’t our real priority the security of nukes in Pakistan?

      That can be done without two more divisions being sent to Afghanistan.

      • rmp says:

        I wished we could just pull out rapidly from both Iraq and Afghanistan, but in both countries, we have created a legacy that we are responsible for and must hold ourselves accountable to. In Afghanistan, especially for women, it would be unfair to allow the fundamentalists to return the country to the vicious oppression it was under. The less we spend on our military, the more we can help the Afghanistan people educationally and economically. More than anything else, Afghanistan needs jobs just as we do in America. Helping in that area for both countries does far more for less money than paying dearly for very costly military operations.

        • dirigo says:

          Well it’s a thorny patch all right.

          But again, given my own experience in Vietnam, I try to read certain stories about that time and this one with the “what might have been” angle tethered to the former and the “what might be” to the latter.

          It’s very clear that Johnson, in committing to the support of South Vietnam, intended to build not fight. He wanted to alleviate poverty there just as he wanted to alleviate it here. His background as a teacher in Texas, as he witnessed that state’s grinding poverty, had a significant influence on how he perceived the use of military power in that country to support humanitarian goals.

          The Cold War overshadowed that intention and buried it. War is what we got.

          As far as I’m concerned, the right’s clamoring then was not much different then it is now.

          Just pour more resources and people into Afghanistan, with the emphasis on war and some amorphous notion of “victory.”

          This is astounding; and the right thinks everyone should pony up lives and treasure. Except them.

          City on a hill indeed.

        • cocktailhag says:

          Yes, we still need to send money, but we need to pull out our people. They are needlessly prolonging both debacles, and wounds won’t heal until we’re gone. Nor will either government have any legitimacy until they’re free of US puppetry. Things will be bad, and just like Vietnam, it will be a defeat. But it already is. So how much do we want to pay in lives and treasure for inevitable defeat? Afghan people, including women, will suffer either way. Iraq’s vaunted “stability” comes from it turning into a theocratic dictatorship… the broads already lost there, too.
          Meanwhile, American women are subjected to the Stupak Amendment in a watered-down health bill, watered down because “we can’t afford it.” I hate to break it to Laura Bush, but the plight of Afghan women isn’t something I’m willing to sacrifice our own future for. Not gonna happen, RMP.
          I have to pick my battles.

  2. cocktailhag says:

    That was very cute and funny, especially the poo-flinging scene at the end.

  3. rmp says:

    High Costs Weigh on Troop Debate for Afghan War “Even if fewer troops are sent, or their mission is modified, the rough formula used by the White House, of about $1 million per soldier a year, appears almost constant.”