Sunday, July 04, 2010

The Rockets Red Glare

How many years? What percent of Americans could tell you how many years their country has been involved in a conflict they initiated by invading Afghanistan? Or, sadly, even where is Afghanistan.... It's been 8, making it the longest continous conflict our country has ever engaged in.
For the record, strictly speaking, Michael Steele is a total ass. Barack Obama did not initiate or choose to invade Afghanistan. But, in a sense, Steele raised a point, in the classic sense of thow a truth can be revealed by a gaffe in the worst way possible.
When he said that Afghanistan was "the graveyard of empires" he was correct in that Afghanistan went rather badly for the Russians. Of course, he didn't make any reference to the assistance of the American CIA in financing the Mujahidine Resistance with the brilliant opium poppy heroin export finance scheme, but historically, he was correct. Afghanistan was a disaster for the British as well and could very well another nail in the coffin  of the decline of the American Empire.
So, the nascent Peacenik, Steele, in referring to Obama could be considered correct because, Obama has chosen to remain in Afghanistan. Early on, Obama could have done a review of the situation and realized that there is almost no Al Qaeda left in Afghanistan, so we won...our presence in Afghanistan is seriously destabilizing Pakistan, which is far more important to US strategic interests than Afghanistan. If Al Qaeda has some camps set up in Afghanistan, we can bomb them. They will start camps in any failed state in the region and we can't occupy them all, so let's go home."
But he didn't. My point is that staying in Afghanistan was choice and Obama chose to stay. Not staying in Afghanistan will not create an existential threat to the US. But Steele is the leader of the republican Party, so he isn't allowed to say things that make sense and contradict Republican warmongering. He made a gaffe which might finally cost him his job. 
Now here's another truth that Steele didn't tell. Obama has to stay in Afghanistan because war spending is one of the only reliable forms of stimulus he has. The economy is in bad shape, and it needs that stimulus. Since he can't get a new large stimulus through Congress that means he MUST keep the Afghan war going if he doesn't want an economic disaster, which would then lead to an electoral disaster.
This is the sad truth of America: the only acceptable form of Keynesian spending is military Keynesianism. Instead of hiring tens of thousands of teachers, building a high speed rail network across the country, refitting every building to be energy efficient and doing a massive solar and wind build-out to reduce dependence on oil, well, the US would rather destroy Afghans and Pakistanis with their rockets red glare.
The Rockets Red Glare is what's keeping the American economy from going under entirely. And so, even if it's the wrong thing to do, we are blinded by it, even if it's the graveyard of America's Empire, we are blinded by it, the war will continue.


mud_rake said...

The idiocy of the GOP and the nuts who 'believe' them is mind-boggling! We can only hope that there are enough sensible people in America to mute this far-right idiocy as well as the blatantly stupid wars!!

Best wishes on The Fourth of July!

steve said...

I think Obama wants to get out of Afghanistan.. The guy is smarter than all of us put together.. he knows the score. He just wants to do it with a semblance of order and honor. I don't think he realized what a corrupt bunch of scalawags the Karzai gov turned out to be.. I had no idea.. none of us did. It is true that Afghanistan is the graveyard of empires, but we weren't in Afghanistan to expand our empire (ok, the pipeline conspiracy).. but.. I believe we had Afghanistan whipped. We had Osama cornered, we had the people on our side. We outsourced the job of capturing public enemy number 1, which would have allowed us to exit with honor. The war was lost the first year when we failed at the primary mission. Lost the war.. went and started another one.. Just genius.

We bomb Pakistanis with drones.. but most foreign fighters are Saudi and most Wahhabi madrasas are Saudi financed. But we need Saudi Arabia to be on board with our Iran dealio. Conversely, maybe we should be using Iran to put pressure on Saudi Arabia.. since that is the American way.. to treat the rest of the world like we are the grand puppet master.

Engineer of Knowledge said...

Hello Microdot,
Even as far back as Alexander the Great, even after he had conquered the known civilized world, he was stopped in Afghanistan and never recovered.

Boy did you hit the nail on the head with the statement of destabilizing Pakistan, which is far more important to US strategic interests than Afghanistan is today. Pakistan has nuclear weapons and if it goes down the tubes, who knows who will end up with those!!

I heard this morning how Liz Cheney is calling for Steele’s job after he spoke the truth or in Republican talk, “The Gaffe of not keeping with the Republican line of bullshit.”

On a side note; the former one term Maryland Republican Governor Ehrlich who Steele was the Lt. Governor under, is now mounting a challenge to the current Maryland Governor O’Malley who defeated Ehrlich to one term in the first place.

Just what Maryland needs, Ehrlich’s failed policies that eliminated him to one term, enacted once again.

Jolly Roger said...

Our time is almost up, and Afghanistan will figure into it. Not to the extent Iraq did, but some.

microdot said...

You know, the United States was not the first long running attempt at a nation in the Western Hemisphere. It's not an easy place to live in. Extremely variable climate, the fact that very little of the natural landscape is "natural"...
It creates an unique mental landscape where ideas mutate and adapt and take on an alien life.
Take Central America for example.
There were 3 distinct empires before the Aztecs. The Toltecs, the Olmecs, The Mayas...all disappeared and became legends in the mythology of the next.
The culmination was the Aztecs, who believed the universe had been created and destroyed three times already and the only way to keep the gods appeased was to keep feeding the gods live, fresh, still beating human hearts. On a good day, the Aztec priests ripped out 14,000 hearts to keep the gods happy.....
It made perfect sense to them.