Friday, October 16, 2009

More Madness from General McChrystal

While reading through the news this morning, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of horror when coming across an AP story that began:

The top military commander in Afghanistan is asking for up to 80,000 more American troops even as he warns that rampant government corruption there may prevent victory against the Taliban and al-Qaida.

What I found horrifying was not just that General McChrystal’s asking for 80,000 more troops but that he’s asking for these troops while, at the same time, admitting that his plan “carries a high risk of failing.” Yes, you heard me right. Citing officials at the Pentagon and White House, the AP story noted that McChrystal has prepared a document which admits that, even with these additional troops, the counterinsurgency “carries a high risk of failing.”

Now I’m personally not against taking chances. Whenever I’m playing a game of Risk, for instance, I’ll often try my luck. If I have ten pieces on Alaska and my buddy has twenty on Kamchatka, I might roll the dice a few times, see what happens.

But McChrystal’s not playing a fucking board game. He’s not sacrificing plastic game pieces but actual human beings. Now I’m not saying that I’d support the escalation if it had “a high risk of succeeding.” Of course I wouldn’t. I’m absolutely against this war. Period. I’m just astounded by the general’s brazen disregard for human life, for American life no less.

If President Peace Prize approves McChrystal’s plan, then many more American soldiers will be killed and injured and maimed. Many more soldiers will come home with brain damage and PTSD. Many of these returning soldiers, after being denied proper care from the VA, will turn to drugs and alcohol. Many will ultimately commit suicide.

Even those of you who think the war is justified would be hesitant to sacrifice your son or daughter or niece or nephew for a plan that “carries a high risk of failing.”

But, of course, the war isn’t justified. It has nothing to do with keeping America safe from terror. We’re no longer even fighting al Qaeda. We killed most of those guys back in 2001, and even Obama’s National Security Advisor admits that there are currently less than one hundred al Qaeda operatives in the country. Rather, we’re fighting a homegrown insurgency, one being lead by a nationalist organization that has never even attacked the United States.

Don’t get the wrong idea, I definitely don’t want these Taliban scumbags returning to power. But, as it is, the US is just propping up Hamid Karzai, a truly despicable man, one who’s aligned himself with warlords, one who stole the August presidential election and recently signed a bill into law which effectively legalizes rape within marriage.

Of course, McChrystal insists that, if the Taliban comes back into power, they will again provide a safe haven for al Qaeda. Oh give me a break. “Protecting al Qaeda back in 2001 brought no end of trouble to Mullah Omar and his associates,” Harvard’s Stephen Walt has written, “and if they were lucky enough to regain power, it is hard to believe they would give us a reason to come back in force.”

And even if the Taliban allowed al Qaeda to return, Walt continues, “the United States isn’t going to sit around and allow them to go about their business undisturbed. The Clinton administration wasn’t sure it was a good idea to go after al Qaeda’s training camps back in the 1990s (though they eventually did, albeit somewhat half-heartedly), but that was before 9/11. We know more now and the U.S. government is hardly going to be bashful about attacking such camps in the future.”

I don’t exactly know why this war is being fought. I don’t know why McChrystal and the politicians so desperately want to rule Afghanistan. I just know that they’re lying. By now, anyone with half a brain should know that they’re lying. And I know that more people—many, many more people—are going to die as a result. And, in the end, we might never know what it was all really about.


  1. The war in Afghanistan about different things to different people.

    To Obama, it's his opportunity to not seem weak, even though he was elected as a peace candidate. Maybe standing up to Republicans would do this without killing American soldiers and Afghans...

    McChrystal is another matter, and it is very simple: a general's job is to ask for more firepower and to use it in combat. It's really not up to military personel to decide whether to be in a war or not; they're just "following orders," and trying their best to attain some level of "victory."

    Once military personel aren't in the chain of command, most have admitted both wars in the Middle East are pointless and that we should leave. While they're in it, their only concern is (and perhaps should be) protecting those around them. To McChrystal, this means sending more troops.

    It's a general's job to throw increasingly more and more troops at an enemy. It's the president's job to decide when to unleash the dogs of the military... or when to chain them up and resume other forms of diplomacy.

    I don't blame McChrystal; I blame Obama. McChrystal is doing his job just as I would expect, Obama is not.

  2. I read some of this yesterday:

    It's Vietnamistan.

  3. You make some good points, Ginx.

    Obama's a smart guy and he has to know that this war isn't furthering American interests, just the interests of the military industrial complex. So he's definitely to blame.

    But I also blame McChrystal. I see your point. He's military guy, and we should expect military guys to do whatever it takes to win wars. That's what the military's there for -- to kill people and destroy things. But none of this justifies mass-murder. The Nuremberg judges concluded that Nazi soldiers had a moral obligation not to follow orders -- and McChrystal, too, has a moral obligation to stop enabling mass-murder.

    So f**k them both.

  4. Thanks for the link, Adam. I'll definitely check it out.

  5. I think it would be interesting if soldiers started going AWOL over ethical objections to the war. However, from the soldiers I've talked to, it doesn't sound likely at all.

    People go into the military first for financial reasons, second because their family has a tradition of it, and third because they think they'll like it. People in it for the first reason can't afford to leave, and those in for the second and third reasons won't leave.


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