Obama's decision to amp up the war in Afghanistan is basically going unchallenged by the mainstream media, and a travesty given the awful mess they failed to prevent back in 2003. While Obama painted himself as the anti war candidate during the election, his record suggests otherwise. An ardent supporter of the original attack on Afghanistan, Obama is as pro war as any other American President, (just not the insanely stupid ones), an inconvenient fact his supporters and media likes to ignore.
The debate is again being constructed around the technicality of the war, rather than the morality. As Joe Klein wrote after listening to Obama lay out the detail: "Taken together, this is a sober, well-reasoned policy. I hope it works."
And that about sums up the criticism we're hearing from the beltway journalists.
The plan itself appears to be a mix of carrots and sticks, devoid of any long term exit strategy and awfully expensive. While Obama promised that "We will not blindly stay the course," and that he, "Will not, and cannot, provide a blank check," the open ended nature of the plan of course allows for increased spending at the Presidents discretion. As Fred Kaplan states:
At a press conference after Obama's speech, Bruce Riedel, who led the White House strategic review on the new policy, admitted that specific benchmarks haven't yet been defined. Holbrooke added that the strategy itself is "a framework within which there's plenty of flexibility to bring in ideas which are not in this report."
Obama is attempting to differentiate himself from the last administration by making serious efforts to build an international coalition and promising to let the public see how much it costs, but the major expenditure and man power will be covered by America. And we don't really know how much money, and how much time this mammoth task will take.
While the rhetoric surrounding the 'surge' in Afghanistan is far more sophisticated and intelligent in comparison to Bush's simplistic slogans, the premise is basically the same. It is an open ended 'War on Terror', designed to protect American by fighting abroad.
As we have seen, any troop presence in their countries will be deeply resented by the population and causes a great deal more hatred towards the United States. While individual goals may be reached, the overall strategy is self defeating and enormously damaging. It is a continuation of a war on an idea, not a nation, and can therefore never be won.
The war in Afghanistan was illegally waged in the first place, a fact the MSM failed to report on, and liberals have largely ignored as well. Afghanistan did not attack the United States and had nothing to do with 9/11. The strike was pre-emptive and regarded by international law a the 'supreme' war crime. Any surge is simply a continuation of this crime. The United States essentially owns the Afghani government, giving it little to no credibility in the region. Hamid Karzhai has little control over the country, and is widely viewed as a U.S stooge. The hatred resides amongst the general population, and any efforts to work with the government will simply make the matters worse.
While Obama will seek to build an international consensus around his plans, the fact is that the war will become another endless pit that will consume more and more money that no one actually has. It is a war leveraged against our children's future, and one that will cost them dearly when they have to pick up the tab.
It will be left to the blogosphere to challenge Obama on his foolhardy mission to 'defeat Al Qaeda' in the region, a difficult task given his popularity. But it is a task we must take on if Obama's otherwise promising Presidency is to succeed. Obama was largely elected through the power of the internet, and it is the internet that must keep him honest.
Ben Cohen is the Editor of The Daily Banter
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