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What Makes America Safer: Fiscal Stability, Or Chasing 100 Terrorists Around Afghanistan?

by on Friday, December 4, 2009 at 4:53 pm EDT in Afghanistan, Politics, World

In Obama’s Afghanistan speech at West Point, he announced he would be escalating our troop levels in Afghanistan by 30,000-35,000 to ensure those who attacked us on 9-11 are resoundingly defeated.  ABC News notes that Obama conveniently left out a very significant fact, when making his case:

A senior U.S. intelligence official told the approximate estimate of 100 al Qaeda members left in Afghanistan reflects the conclusion of American intelligence agencies and the Defense Department. The relatively small number was part of the intelligence passed on to the White House as President Obama conducted his deliberations.

So, Obama is committing 30,000-35,000 new U.S. troops — at $1 million per soldier per year, which comes to $30-35 billion dollars in more U.S. national debt — to defeat 100 Al Qaeda operatives in Afghanistan?  That works out to $300-350 million per Al Qaeda operative! Has he lost his marbles?!

Al Qaeda is a loosely affiliated network with operatives all over the world: Somalia, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Germany, Britain, Spain, United States, etc. and we’re to dig ourselves into an even greater financial ditch chasing after just 100 of these operatives who may very well be somewhere beyond the Pakistani border, or possibly now in Somalia, or Saudi Arabia?

Al Qaeda can nearly claim themselves ‘victors’ in their war against the world’s last superpower.  Not because of anything they did — 9-11 was mostly about inadequate airport security and a Bush Administration unwilling to read their national security memos, like the one entitled “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.” — a memo which sat on Condi Rice’s desk for one month and a week before the planes hit the twin towers.

Rather Al Qaeda is winning, because of our ineffective, money-bleeding, military occupations.  We have effectively self-destructed as the world’s largest financial power.  Essentially, we became so shortsighted — so determined to fix a menacing fly buzzing around our face, we reached for a twelve gauge shotgun, targeted the fly resting upon our forehead — and pulled the trigger.

American al Qaeda figure Adam Gadahn — no, I didn’t say Afghan, I said American — gloated in a recent video about how they were defeating the West:

Gadahn called on Muslims to support jihad with “men and money,” while claiming that the West was now on the verge of collapse under the strikes of the militants.

“The enemy under the leadership of the unbelieving West has began to stagger and falter, and the results of its unabated bleeding has began to show on its economy, which is on the brink of failure,” said Gadahn.

All they have to do is keep some operative alive, in some Muslim country, and America will fiscally come apart looking under every single rock until he’s found.

Is it any wonder that Americans have had enough of this lunacy?  New polls show Americans are turning sharply towards isolationism:

At the very moment when President Barack Obama is looking to thrust the U.S. ever more into global affairs, from Afghanistan to climate change, the American public is turning more isolationist and unilateralist than it has at any time in decades, according to a new poll released Thursday.

The survey by the Pew Research Center found a plurality of Americans — 49 percent — think that the U.S. should “mind its own business internationally” and leave it to other countries to fend for themselves.

It was the first time in more than 40 years of polling that the ranks of Americans with isolationist sentiment outnumbered those with a more international outlook, Pew said. […]

The shift in sentiment comes after more than eight years of war in Afghanistan and almost seven in Iraq, as well as the worst economy since the Great Depression.

Just 32 percent of the public favors increasing U.S. troops in Afghanistan, and only 46 percent say it’s likely that Afghanistan will be able to withstand the threat posed by the Taliban.

The Hill reports that a significant majority of Americans now view overseas war expenditures as a direct threat to fixing a collapsing economic system here at home:

Seventy-three percent told Gallup in its latest measure, released Friday, that they were “very” or “somewhat” fearful the White House’s newly announced troop surge would make it difficult for Congress and the president to tackle such issues as healthcare and the economy in the coming months.

By contrast, only 26 percent signaled they were not concerned the new strategy’s cost — estimated to be about $30 billion — would in any way complicate domestic policymaking.

It would be wise to remember the former U.S.S.R.’s experience in trying to militarily tame Afghanistan:

It was Moscow’s Vietnam, we have come to accept. A bloody quagmire with disastrous consequences that left a million Afghans dead and a generation of Soviet men pulverised by trauma, as had happened to their American counterparts in southeast Asia in the 1960s and 1970s.  The conflict lasted 10 years and the Soviet army retreated only to see its very existence crumble a few years later with the collapse of Communism.

Mr. President, it’s time to bring our troops home, rebuild our economy and our health care system, and get our financial house in order.  I’ve never felt so insecure as an American in my life, and it has absolutely nothing to do with those 100 Al Qaeda cave-dwellers in Afghanistan.  Claim victory, and withdraw already.

UPDATE (Dec. 6, 2009):

Here’s a good read by Sam Stein / Huffington Post on Senator Russ Feingold’s appearance on ABC’s “This Week” with George Stephanopoulos this morning.  Feingold makes a similar point:

Pakistan, in the border region near Afghanistan, is perhaps the epicenter [of global terrorism], although al Qaida is operating all over the world, in Yemen, in Somalia, in northern Africa, affiliates in Southeast Asia. Why would we build up 100,000 or more troops in parts of Afghanistan included that are not even near the border? You know, this buildup is in Helmand Province. That’s not next door to Waziristan. So I’m wondering, what exactly is this strategy, given the fact that we have seen that there is a minimal presence of Al Qaida in Afghanistan, but a significant presence in Pakistan? It just defies common sense that a huge boots on the ground presence in a place where these people are not is the right strategy. It doesn’t make any sense to me.

Sec. of State Hillary Clinton’s Diplomatic Skills Rival Those Of John Bolton’s

by on Thursday, November 5, 2009 at 8:12 pm EDT in Middle East, Politics, World

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Israel PM Benjamin NetanyahuNice work Hillary!  The fallout from her most recent world tour continues to materialize.

First our nation’s chief diplomat completely offended the country of Pakistan.  Here’s how the Pakistan Daily appraised her visit with their officials and press:

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton went on the offensive during her three-day visit to Pakistan that was concluded yesterday. Her comments were blunt and combative, and the Pakistani press labeled her approach as “aggressive diplomacy.”

The intended purpose of Clinton’s visit was to drum up support for the ongoing war against al Qaeda and to pressure the Pakistani government to do more in fighting insurgents. Apparently she checked whatever diplomatic skills she might have at the door and her remarks to her hosts were anything but diplomatic.

She at one point hinted that Pakistani officials are reluctant to pursue al Qaeda. “I find it hard to believe that nobody in your government knows where they are and couldn’t get them if they really wanted to,” Clinton told her Pakistani interlocutors during an interview with journalists in Lahore.

Clinton’s comments were on the wrong track as they were made at time when the Pakistan’s army was busy fighting tribal insurgents in Waziristan on the heels of its two-month offensive in the Swat valley in Northeast Pakistan. Pakistan has also single-handedly captured the largest number of al Qaeda operatives since 2002. The military involvement in the war on terrorism has started to take a heavy toll on the Pakistani population and threatens to destabilize the country if insurgents continue to bring the fight to Pakistan’s major cities. […]

Next, on to Israel, where she decided to inflict some irreparable damage to the Middle East Peace Process.  First she stands with one of the most right-winged Israeli leaders of our lifetime, Benjamin Netanyahu, and sings him praises for basically telling the United States to go ‘fuck itself’ on its demands that Israel cease its illegal settlement activity.  She gloated about how his agreement to slow down the illegal settlements was ‘unprecedented’.

I blogged earlier on the outcry at the time in the Arab world — a dramatic display of utter shock and bereavement at this sudden shift in policy by the Obama Administration.  So, the following day, in Marrakech, Hillary tried to tamper down the damage by clarifying her statement:

‘This offer falls far short of what our preference would be, but if it is acted upon it will be an unprecedented restriction on settlements and would have a significant and meaningful effect on restraining their growth.

Then in yet another about face (as reported by The Palestinian Chronicle):

… the next day [after Hillary’s clarification] she deployed [yet] another character, mixing a take-it-or-leave-it approach to the Palestinians with praise for the White House.  She told Al Jazeera, ‘I think it is important for your viewers to say to themselves, ‘well, we can continue with what we have now ‘which is a halt to nothing’ or we can halt all new settlement activity’.

The purpose of her mission had been to kick-start the Middle East peace talks, and by the time she left for Cairo, she’d single-handedly sabotaged them for good.  Now The New York Times is reporting that Palestinian President Abbas announced he will not seek re-election:

[Abbas’s] announcement, coming immediately after Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s visit to kick start talks between Israel and the Palestinians, illustrated the rising tensions over the Obama administration’s failure to produce an Israeli settlement freeze or any concessions from Arab leaders.

Mrs. Clinton’s visit to the region, which she characterized as a success, sowed anger and confusion among Palestinians and other Arabs after she praised as “unprecedented” Israel’s compromise offer to slow down, but not stop, construction of settlements. […]

A top aide to Mr. Abbas said a large part of the “despondency and frustration” felt by Mr. Abbas and the entire Palestinian leadership was due to President Obama’s unrealized promises to the region. He said he feared that without a stop to settlements, Islamist rivals in Hamas could triumph and violence could break out.

“There was high expectation when he arrived on the scene,” the aide, Nabil Shaath, who heads the Fatah party’s foreign affairs department, said of Mr. Obama, at a briefing. “He said he would work to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, that it would play a major role in improving the American and Western relationship with the Muslim world. Now there is a total retreat, which has destroyed trust instead of building trust.”

Mr. Shaath added that if the United States vetoed sending a United Nations report critical of Israel’s actions in Gaza to the Security Council, “It really is like telling the Palestinians to go back to violence.”

President Abbas was probably the most peaceful, pro-western leader the Palestinians had ever had.

Talk about a “bull in a china shop,” could Obama have picked a more confrontational and destructive personality to serve as our nation’s ‘chief Diplomat’?  And I had assumed the days of John Bolton were finally behind us.  Apparently not …


Juan Cole (sourcing the BBC) reveals that chief of the Palestine Liberation Organization Steering Committee, Saeb Erekat is calling it a moment of truth for President Abbas.  Erekat goes on to say:

Palestine Authority president Mahmoud Abbas should be frank with the Palestinian people and admit to them that there is no possibility of a two-state solution given continued Israeli colonization of the West Bank.

It is morally and ethically unconscionable to leave millions of Palestinians in a condition of statelessness, in which they have no rights. Therefore, if there isn’t going to be a two-state solution, there will have to be a one-state solution, in which Israel gives citizenship to the Palestinians.

It’s a fascinating, and long overdue realization.  You can read more about it at Salon …

Obama Stops at Cliff, Peeks Over Edge, and Decides to Shift Afghan Strategy

by on Friday, October 9, 2009 at 9:59 am EDT in Afghanistan, Politics, World

Finally, some semblance of rationale is beginning to emerge within U.S. foreign policy!  The New York Times is reporting that:

President Obama’s national security team is moving to reframe its war strategy by emphasizing the campaign against Al Qaeda in Pakistan while arguing that the Taliban in Afghanistan do not pose a direct threat to the United States, officials said Wednesday.

It appears the shift will nullify, at least in part, Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s request for 40,000 additional troops.

The Obama administration is reportedly split over this purported policy shift:

While Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. has argued for months against increasing troops in Afghanistan because Pakistan was the greater priority, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates have both warned that the Taliban remain linked to Al Qaeda and would give their fighters havens again if the Taliban regained control of all or large parts of Afghanistan, making it a mistake to think of them as separate problems.

Fortunately, Obama appears to be listening to his Vice President.

There is one granddaddy of false assumptions reigning amongst the neo-con set — that being that a foreign occupation somehow makes an occupier safer.  This fallacy, when acted upon, financially bankrupts nations — as we are now discovering.  The strongest countries are, and always will be, the ones most financially secure.  Over the last eight years our financial stability has precipitated into a frightening place. THAT threatens America’s security like no other.  How will the United States guarantee its own national security when it eventually defaults on its staggering debt obligations (largely created by an effort to occupy the world), and when China no longer cares to write another blank check?  There is already a concerted effort underway to minimize the world’s dependency on the ever-declining American dollar.  China plans to diversify away from U.S. assets (Treasuries) and into other currencies (including Euros).  That means our cheap and ever-accessible foreign credit line will become a thing of the past.

We, as a country, need to withdraw our troops — stop the fiscal hemorrhaging — and proceed to get our financial house in order.

Apart from the gravity of our financial situation, it is in our country’s foreign strategic interests to cease operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.  When a country militarily occupies another people, its very presence ensures the occupied’s resolve for resistance.  And unless those being occupied happen to have a bald headed, bespectacled leader by the name of Mohandas Gandhi, they will most certainly resort to guerrilla warfare.  How else could a poor resistance movement make a meaningful dint in the armor of a powerful occupier?  This means ‘terrorism’.

We are essentially borrowing hundreds of billions of dollars in what is quickly becoming unmanageable debt trying to occupy a third world country — all to keep a small band of terrorists hiding in the Pakistani hills from returning there and setting up camp.  Well, who ever said they wanted to leave the hills of Pakistan?  Would their return to Afghanistan somehow make them more dangerous to us then their remaining in the hills of Pakistan?

Our attempts at occupying these countries is paramount to building them terrorist factories to churn out new angry, desperate, anti-American extremists who would have likely remained law-abiding civilians, had we not killed their loved ones, and become their occupiers.  It is misguided, thickheaded policy to occupy a country on the grounds of security, because it ensures the very opposite.

The Republican talking points this week will surely emphasize the words ‘winning’ and ‘losing’.  Make no mistake about it, we’re neither winning nor losing a war over there.  We’re fiscally self-destructing, while simultaneously turning generations of people against us.  Osama bin Laden must be sitting up there in the Pakistani hills, toking off his Hookah pipe, laughing himself to sleep at night, thinking about how he — this fanatical, deranged, lunatic and his small band of hoodlums — single-handedly, lured the most powerful country in the world off a financial cliff.

Fortunately, it appears that Obama is beginning to see the futility in our military presence there.  Let us hope that he continues to turn a deaf ear to some of the fear-mongering neo-babble escalating around him, and gets us the hell out of there.