Thursday, December 10, 2009

Over There, Over There

By Jerome Grossman

President Obama is sending 30,000 more American combat soldiers to Afghanistan to join the 68,000 now there. This formidable force is serviced by an equal number of support troops providing the fighters with the necessary food, clothing, shelter, transportation, medical services, chaplains, intelligence, etc. These support troops are also at risk but were not listed in the president's speech so the public does not know the actual size of the risk and the commitment.

Not to worry about the number of fighting troops; 30,000 is merely a down payment. General Stanley McCrystal, the top US commander in Afghanistan will surely be asking for more troops to meet Obama’s deadline for victory, July 2011, the date that Obama says he will begin to withdraw U.S. troops.

President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan has a different view. At a news conference with the Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Karzai said, “For another 15 to 20 years, Afghanistan will not be able to sustain an adequate defensive force and will need to rely on the United States and other NATO countries for decades to come.”

And who is going to rule Afghanistan when the Taliban insurgents are crushed by US GI’s? The US puppet Karzai and his notoriously corrupt regime? Karzai’s brother, the big-time drug dealer and CIA agent? How many decades of US occupation before Afghanistan becomes a US protectorate?

The notion that the US homeland can be protected by occupying Afghanistan is flawed. None of the 19 criminals who perpetrated September 11 were Afghans. The plot was hatched in Germany and the weapons used were box cutters (to enter the pilot cabin) and credit cards (to pay for flight instruction at American airfields). Let me repeat, the 19 criminals were trained in America and were known by the FBI and CIA to be bad guys. The next attack on the US could originate anywhere, but our improved protection system will be our prime defense. And it has worked since September 11.

President Obama doesn't know how to end the war in Afghanistan so he is trying to pacify his main critics: the troop surge is for the military lobby and the civilian hawks who always find a reason to get into every fight, sometimes to spread US influence, sometimes to support US allies, sometimes to exercise US hegemony, sometimes just to show who is the boss.

The 19 month so-called exit strategy is also a political statement intended to pacify the Democrats who thought they were electing a peace candidate. But Obama says that war can be the road to peace, contrary to the views of his idols, Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King. Obama has gained the support of John McCain and Karl Rove as well as a host of Republicans for his Afghanistan policy while losing many of those who regarded him as a modern-day prophet.

George M. Cohan, singer, dancer, playwright and American jingoist, understood this American tendency toward expansion made stronger by our enormous military power just as it affected previous super-powers. In 1917, he wrote the theme song for World War I, “Over There”, which might well apply to the US military effort in Afghanistan

Over There, Over There
Send the word, send the word,
Over There
That the Yanks are coming,
The Yanks are coming,
The drums rum tumming everywhere
So prepare,
Say a Prayer
Send the word,
Send the word to beware
We'll be over, we're coming over.
And we won't be back till it's over over there!


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