Afghan Abides

August 7, 2009

This morning the jobs report is better than expected even as AIG posts a second-quarter profit, the media continues to ignore the GOP reality behind the healthcare townhall disruptions and a DOS attack on Twitter, FaceBook and Google leaves techno-life flustered, the news of five US GIs killed in Afghanistan the past couple of days has gone almost un-reported.

The Af-Pak handwriting is on the wall.
(Illustration found here).

Although the Afghan song sang by President Obama seems new, it carries a familiar sound.
Noted writer in US foreign relations, Andrew J. Bacevich, also listens to the beat:

The misguided and mismanaged global war on terror reduced Bush’s presidency to ruin.
The candidate whose run for high office derived its energy from an implicit promise to repudiate all that Bush had wrought now seems intent on salvaging something useful from that failed enterprise — even if that means putting his own presidency at risk.
When it comes to Afghanistan, Obama may be singing in a different key, but to anyone with an ear for music — especially for military marches — the melody remains intact.

What is it about Afghanistan, possessing next to nothing that the United States requires, that justifies such lavish attention?
In Washington, this question goes not only unanswered but unasked.
Among Democrats and Republicans alike, with few exceptions, Afghanistan’s importance is simply assumed — much the way fifty years ago otherwise intelligent people simply assumed that the United States had a vital interest in ensuring the survival of South Vietnam.
As then, so today, the assumption does not stand up to even casual scrutiny.

A much-interesting piece; read Bacevich’s entire post here.

Adding to this shockingly hideous conflict is the report of farmers loading cucumbers into a van were blown away by a US helicopter: Despite police confirming the van it hit was full of cucumbers, NATO maintained that those it killed were militants.
And the night before another mistake, once again the kids pay: The family insists the four were sleeping at the time of the attack, NATO insists they were carrying “plastic jugs” and that it assumes they were planting roadside bombs. NATO maintains the four were “insurgents” despite the young age of three of them.

In return for this mess, the US public is quickly getting tired of the slaughter.
Seventy NATO troops were killed in July — 42 Americans among them, a record, and 22 Brits, also a record — and a new CNN/Opinion Research Corp poll reveals a unintended result: 54 percent of respondents opposed to the ongoing war and 41 percent in favor.
Big change since May: 50 percent in favor of the war and only 48 percent against.

And to the people of Afghanistan?
All the killing is for ignorance:

Fornication, bare flesh and a descent into Western decadence — these are Afghan definitions of democracy that expose how little the foreign concept has permeated the national psyche as elections near.
Afghanistan will vote August 20 in its second “democratic” presidential election but centuries of tribalism, decades of war and the draconian legacy of the Taliban ensure that confusion still reigns over what voting will bring.

How long yet?

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