Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Episode 77: P.S. We’re In a War

If you take a look at the news programs and blogs of late, the topic du jour is healthcare, and rightly so, as we are nearing a vote that could have a profound impact on the lives of Americans for several generations to come. Diving deeper into the subject, we find a lot of hyperbole from both sides of the isle, using buzzwords like “death panels” and “if we don’t reform healthcare, you’ll die faster” etc. Taking a glance at the blogosphere I took a hiatus from for a bit, it seems no one is talking about the fact we’re in a war. And generals want MORE troops!

I’m having a lot of trouble understanding what a victory in Afghanistan looks like. Does it mean we establish a free democracy there that the people don’t want? Do we secure an oil interest that doesn’t exist in that country? Do we capture a rugged, mountainous region, with awful weather (really, really hot or really, really cold), and surrounded by enemies in each direction to gain some kind of tactical advantage?

I’m of the opinion that we need to cut our losses and just bring our troops home. After eight years, a few blown opportunities to catch the true enemy Osama bin Laden, and the non-existent support from home and abroad, there is no victory to be had in Iraq. Let’s say we found Osama tomorrow and he caught him, hung him, and put his head on a rusty iron platter (because silver would be too good for him), then what? Is the War on Terror, sorry, the War on Al Qaeda, over at that point? Did we really spend $10 Billion to capture and kill one man? As far as I’m concerned, bin Laden is a target of opportunity at this point.

I have good news however. I know how to win the war on whatever you want to call it. The answer is so simple, you may kick yourself for not thinking of it sooner. The answer is to flat out leave Iraq. This is what happens when we do: The Taliban will declare our withdrawal as a victory. From an article from the NY TIMES, Mullah Omar, leader of the Taliban was recently reported saying “Today we have strong determination, military training and effective weapons,” the message said. “Still more, we have preparedness for a long war, and the regional situation is in our favor. Therefore, we will continue to wage jihad until we gain independence and force the invaders to pull out.” Given Afghanistan’s nearly perfect track record of thwarting all forces that have invaded them for the past 2000 something years, I’m inclined to agree with him.

In response to our leaving, most of the “alliance” will also pull out. The Taliban will not attack America because they got what they want – the removal of western influence from their land. The Taliban will complete take over Afghanistan. Then one of two things will happen, their regime will be so suppressive, the world will have to rejoin the war effort under the banner of human rights (ie. WWII and Kosovo) or Afghans will spent about 5 years being miserable. If scenario 1 happens, the world will be dragged into another unwinnable war until a smart guy like me concludes we need to leave, and the process starts again and moves to scenario 2 – the Afghans will engage in a civil war against the Taliban. The people will rebel the oppression, and crush the Taliban forever. Then a coalition led by the U.S. will come back in a humanitarian mission to rebuild Afghanistan, establish a working democracy, and other nations in the region, empowered by Afghanistan’s success will follow suit.

The main point is, victory from oppressors have never been achieved from outside forces extinguishing the problem for the oppressed. From the Battle of Thermopylae, to the storming of the Bastille, to War of 1812, or from The American Revolution, Civil War, and Civil Rights movement, no struggle has been solved from the help of external powers. The same is true for Afghanistan. It has been said there’s no such thing as good wars, but there is such a thing as necessary ones. I think the only way to truly secure American security interests is to leave and let them fight their own battle. They will win, because the oppressor always loses in the end. We will win because we’ll have an ally and will be safer from terrorist attacks. The world will win because young people want to blog and twitter, and new governments in the region will rise that will allow their people to do those things.

Let’s refocus our lens back to the present day. We talk about how much money healthcare is going to cost, but I don’t hear those detractors talking about the budgetary black hole of the war in Afghanistan. The generals there want more troops which mean more money. We’re fighting an enemy that is damn near unbeatable with no real understanding of what victory means. It makes very little sense with respect to our domestic interests to continue to invest in a war with no end and no exit strategy. Wars cannot be fought unless the economy is in war mode. This means domestic production of tanks, armor, guns, bullets, etc. Wars shouldn’t be a part of the budget ledger like Medicare, Cash for Clunkers and office supplies. If we are unwilling to commit this economy into a war economy, then we should be equally unwilling to participate in this fruitless campaign. This doesn’t negate the tremendous work our soldiers do each and every day. It doesn’t make their deaths and injuries in vain. On the contrary, our missions have given us greater clarity on how to proceed. Perhaps this endless war in the Middle East may have a light at the end of the tunnel in our lifetime.
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11 comments: on "Episode 77: P.S. We’re In a War"

Nick said...

We have spent less on the entire Iraq war than Obama's proposed opening salvo for socializing our health-care system, which is (by his own admission) only a down-payment on the complete unmitigated disaster. The entire bill for the last eight years of overseas military operations is also less than the deficit spending in Obama's first year in office.

There's a debate to be had about whether pursuing military objectives in foreign countries in the name/goal of stifling terrorism (and promoting freedom) is worth it, or the right thing for the US to be doing. However, it would be unwise for liberals to bring up costs, as the unmitigated financial disaster of Obama and the liberal Congress makes the Bush years look lean, and the Iraq war cost seem like a budget addendum scribbled in the margin. Just my opinion...

The Law said...

We have spent less on the entire Iraq war than Obama's proposed opening salvo for socializing our health-care system

While I'm not trying to rehash history here, the healthcare bill certainly doesn't cost more than the money Bush wasted in 8 years with absolutely nothing to show for it. At least if Obama is wasting money, it's going towards Americans and not overseas to people who are not very fond of us.

TRUTH 101 said...

Pardon my colorful language TL, but the wars, if that's what anyone wants to call them. I call them occupations, have been as half assed fought as could be. Eight years later and are we any better off in Afghanistan? Are the Afgahns any better off? I don't think so. If a war and occupation are truly necessary then we should have been willing to do what was necessary to be successful. Institute the draft and raise the taxes enough to pay for it. We did neither. Nor do any of our politicians today have the courage to tell us this.

Leaving is the best option. And what may well happen is the world seeing that we will not be footing the bill, may well decide to contribute.

And if I could respectfully answer Nick. Health insurance reform is to benefit the citizens of our Nation. To argue that it costs more than invading and occupying countries that don't want us there is more of an argument for leaving those countries Nick.

Call me a heartless liberal if you want. but quality, affordable health care for Americans is far more important to me than sending our Troops to fight and die for people in other countries that weren't willing to overthrow their dictators and oppressors. And still aren't.

Carl Wicklander said...

I think you've pretty much got it. We just need to leave. Capturing and killing bin Laden should not have to involve invasions of countries and benevolently imposing democracies they did not ask for. If we realized that it was our sustained presence in the region that causes terrorism, we would not have to worry about whether we're fighting in the right countries or not.

I don't usually listen to Rush Limbaugh, but I caught some of his show this afternoon. He was whining that Obama wasn't sending enough troops to Afghanistan and that we are imperiled because of it. He said that al Qaeda took root in Afghanistan because they had no real government so they could hide and plan 9/11 and that's the reason why we should be there now.

If I understand that correctly, then we should be in Afghanistan assuring that they have a government that penetrates every corner of the country so al Qaeda can't be there. OK. Rush says he believes we should have less government in the U.S. but Afghanistan should have one that should be effectively totalitarian, but okay.

Well, if that actually happened in Afghanistan, doesn't it make sense for al Qaeda to run off to some other highly isolated country? What that boils down to is that we reserve the right to invade any country in the world because there's a chance terrorists might meet in that country to plan an attack, regardless of whether they actually remain there.

It's reasoning like that that makes this a war that cannot have an end.

The Law said...

If a war and occupation are truly necessary then we should have been willing to do what was necessary to be successful. Institute the draft and raise the taxes enough to pay for it. We did neither. Nor do any of our politicians today have the courage to tell us this.

Exactly. Worst off all, Bush pulled an LBJ by spending money on two wars without actually adding it to the budget! Part of the deficits the right clamor so much about deal with Obama actually adding ALL the war costs Bush didn't to out budget. It is a pretty significant number.

@Carl, lol Rush has a habit of contradicting himself. Small gov't at home, big gov't abroad. I'd bet any amount of money if Obama said I'm sending 5 million troops to Afghanistan, Rush would say "WE NEED TO GET ALL OUR TROOPS OUT NOW!" Nothing Obama does, or doesn't do is good enough for Rush.

Carl Wicklander said...

It's true. I don't normally listen to Rush unless I'm looking to get my blood boiling. The contradictions can be so great that I sometimes wonder if my fellow conservatives realize that the military is a government organization.

To reference myself, in "Unassertive Conservatism," my review of Mark Levin's book, I made this observation in "The Great One"'s endless mantra of the necessity for all of our military expenditures:

"To satirize, the routine goes something like this, 'Government is bad. Government intrudes into our lives. Government intervention into the private sector is Statist. Oh, but the government has the right to intervene into other nations' affairs.' . . .

"And there you have it: Conservatives say they want small government at home, big government abroad, and seem surprised to discover that they have gotten big government in both."


CJ said...

As long as huge portions of the population have no basic education and only extremist religion, the problem will persist. I’m loath just to throw my hands up and let the Taliban run a larger area than they do now. I have no idea how to deliver education and teach people to view their religion in the context of history and other religions.

One thought is to provide a New- Deal-style jobs and education program. US and other donors could probably only afford to do this for one country, not both Afghanistan and Iraq.

Whatever solution we find, it must give people alternative jobs to illegal activities and violence, and it must provide alternative ideologies to religious extremism.

The Law said...

@CJ I do agree with you, but I feel your course of action couldn't even work in the smallest of degrees without the Afghani people first rebelling against the Taliban. US and world support in my view enables them to not take the reigns of their own destiny. The Taliban will exploit and oppress their own people to the point where Afghanis will rebel. That rebellion is crucial - nomatter how much we want to, we can't interfere. Because when the Afghanis win, they will emerge a stronger, more empowered people, and that's when we coudl start a New Deal type program with them.

TRUTH 101 said...

Off track a bit here but I have to add this TL. In the 90's while we had forces in the Balkins, Rush Limbaugh railed against it. He slammed his hand in his desk and said "we can't afford it!"

I wonder why he thinks we can afford this type of policy now? Oh yeah. Because a Republican though of it.

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