Thursday, January 31, 2008

Brace Yourself for the Afghan Tsunami

Wearing our usual blinders, most Americans are missing a coming tsunami. It’s going to be a bit more subtle than the Iraq wave, but it is definitely going to impact all of us and especially our new president.

What am I talking about? – The silent powder keg that’s been growing in Afghanistan and Pakistan while we have had our backs turned and our attention focused on the false threat of Iraq. This won’t be the final blot on our future that BushCo has created for us, but it won’t be any minor blip on the radar either.

The fuse is lit. It may take several months, but when the flame reaches that keg, that country will once again become the focus because our failure there will be silhouetted by the explosion. At that point, we will have not only Iraq’s mess, but also a huge threat from Afghanistan and Pakistan to deal with.

I was not the darling of my progressive friends when, right after 9-11, I sided with George W. Bush in his identification of the problem in Afghanistan and the invasion to rid it of its Al Qaida supporting Taliban government. I had long detested the Taliban and believed that when we accomplished routing them out we would continue to pursue bin Laden and bring him and his band of terrorists to justice.

You see, I hadn’t yet learned about Bush’s towering incompetence or about the dark forces (read Karl Rove and the neo-cons) that so ably maneuvered him into office and so completely dominated the policies he brought to Washington with him.

He began to lose my support when he faltered in Afghanistan and failed to even come close to nabbing bin Laden. When he turned toward Iraq, I did some research, discovered his real motives and hit the streets to protest any and everything he and his henchmen tried to do.

Like everyone else, though, I took my eye off of Afghanistan. Now it only takes a cursory peek to reveal what a mess we have made there. We destroyed their government without helping them to create a meaningful replacement. We completely lost the goodwill of a great many people who initially cheered our removal of the Taliban by ignoring them while we made sure that the corporations we contracted to “rebuild” the country took home over 40% of the money we dedicated to the redevelopment effort. We lost the support of the rest of the people by putting all our eggs in the military basket rather than demonstrating that our way of life and governance has merit they might wish to emulate. They now are firm in their insistence that the war on terror is an American war and an intrusion on their lives.

When the Taliban was in control, the people of Afghanistan felt their freedom threatened. With America in control, they feel their lives and livelihoods threatened. Sentiment is rapidly rising to get us out of their land and to go back to some form of religiously restrictive governance.

On top of that powder keg is the upheaval in Pakistan where Mussharaf has alienated his own people, many of whom believe he had a hand in the assassination of his biggest political rival, Benizir Bhutto, and all of whom believe he has sold out to the U.S.

Thanks largely to the arrogance of America’s refusal to deal realistically with the terrorist situation, the people of both Afghanistan and Pakistan have little reason to consider us of any value to them at all.

They know that we would rather throw bombs at a problem than get our boots dirty solving it. They know that we are much more concerned with who we can get to ally themselves with us in our superficial “war on terror” than to apply ourselves to solving the real day to day problems they must deal with by instituting long range programs to elevate their lifestyles. They know that if a conflict arises between actions that could save a nation and actions that could save a pipeline, we will choose the pipeline every time.

They do not identify with our “war on terror” in any way except by pointing to us as the villain in the piece. As in Iraq, we have disrupted their lives, but, unlike Iraq, we have not put any serious effort into alleviating the problems this has created for them. They have found one way to make a living in the chaos and that is by growing opium poppies, and we are trying to stop them from doing that without providing an alternative.

Some of our politicians now running for office have spoken of reducing our troop strength in Iraq and diverting some of it to Afghanistan, but the reality that will hit the new president will include the BushCo negotiated pact with Iraq to provide military support there in perpetuity. General Patraeus spoke last week of the need to maintain troop strength in Iraq and so is already laying the groundwork that will make it very difficult for us to devote any significant level of military effort to calming the coming storm in Afghanistan.

As predicted at the outset of the Iraq war, the final upshot of all of our efforts since 9-11 is going to be the growth of the ability of Al Qaida and others to attack us. Our flanks – as in Afghanistan – and even our home ground are more vulnerable now than before we stupidly and illegally invaded Iraq.

We will need the help of friends whom our arrogance has alienated to maintain our balance under those circumstances. That’s why I think the explosion that comes when the Afghanistan powder keg explodes could tip the balance of power out of our hands.

Our next president had better be one persuasive son-of-a-gun.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. -- M. K. Gandhi

Individually we have little voice. Collectively we cannot be ignored.
But in silence we surrender our power. Yours in Peace -- BR

The reason for going was to keep the crude flowing and raise a false flag abroad. – from a poem by Jack Evans titled 3500 Souls -

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