Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Thank You George W Bush I Can't Win The Hearts And Minds Anymore

Bob Herbert
Eugene Robinson
Ben Hancock
"A great war leaves the country with three armies - an army of cripples, an army of mourners, and an army of thieves." ~ German Proverb
"The G.I.’s have fought valiantly in Iraq and Afghanistan. Thousands have died and many, many more have suffered. But the wars have been conducted as if their leaders had been reading from a lunatic’s manual." - Bob Herbert
"To be a patriot, one had to say, and keep on saying, " Our country, right or wrong," and urge on the little war. Have you not perceived that that phrase is an insult to the nation?" - Mark Twain, 1906
"In Afghanistan, momentum has become a substitute for logic. We're not fighting because we have a clear set of achievable goals. We're at war, apparently, because we're at war." - Eugene Robinson

I guess I'm getting tired hearing about the damned wars we're in, how counterinsurgency strategy is winning in Afghanistan, but we are losing the war against the Taliban. How the generals who were in charge under George W Bush screwed everything up, and if we spent more money and had a few more years, we could do this war the right way and win it. But there isn't any right way to win a war, it's messy, and there isn't any neat way to tie everything up with a bow when you decide to end it.

We're in this mess in Asia today because George W Bush wanted to prove that he had bigger balls than his father, he could win a war against Saddam Hussein better than his daddy did. His administration made up information and lied to the American people to justify invading Iraq. There wasn't a connection to 9/11, there weren't any WMD's, there was only bullshit. Our Congressmen and women were too chicken to challenge the assumptions, and cowardly went right along with the charade. If I am angry at our government, and cynical over the ethics of Congress, this is the reason why.

What dumb reason led us to invade Afghanistan? To capture Osama bin Laden because he was living in some caves there. We launched a massive military campaign that failed to capture him, and still don't know where he is today. Yet, we are still in Afghanistan, and I haven't yet heard of the reason why we are fighting the Taliban. They are extremist jerks, brutal and unforgiving in the way they ruled, but were no security risk to the US.

If we actually leave Afghanistan, we will leave behind a shaky, puppet government still based on the old, traditional ways of ruling: bribery and brutality. And the Taliban could well take over after we leave, re-establishing a backward and harsh interpretation of their religion, lashing out at all of the women we have helped. Will we take all of the Afghan women with us when we leave?

Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari said yesterday, that NATO has already lost the war in Afghanistan: “The international community, to which Pakistan belongs, is losing the war against the Taliban. This is above all because we have lost the battle to win hearts and minds... Military reinforcements are only a small part of the response.. To win the support of the Afghan people, we must bring them economic development, and prove that we can can not only change their lives, but improve them.”

And Pakistan has its own troubles. It has yet to recover from rule under a military dictatorship, its own ethnic clashes, religious persecutions, and its own brand of terrorism. China and Iran may have executed the most prisoners, but Karachi may be the assassination capitol of the world. With the 37 people killed in retaliation today, Karachi has had over 300 assassination this year, and there are still months for that number to grow.

So, democracy is a bastard child with a tenuous hold in Iraq. Al-Maliki wants to be the next mini-Saddam, as does al-Sadr. The different factions have learned to bomb each, and they now enjoy killing each other. Not a week goes by without several bombings, each time killing more innocent people. We failed to rebuild their infrastructures, their government is still one of the most corrupt in the world, and its population has become so brutalized and shell-shocked that it will be several generations before they recover, much less trust another country ever again.

All of this is the legacy of men like George W Bush, Dick Cheney, and Donald Rumsfeld, along with almost dragging the entire financial world into ruin and depression. Yes, Barack Obama inherited it, and it may be too damned much for his abilities to clean it all up. It will cost the Democrats many seats during this next mid-term election, has cost Obama much of his popularity, and has brought about the tea partys. People who cannot name their anger and alienation, and who are taking solace in their fantasies of a simpler time and place, with our founding fathers and a comic book interpretation of the Constitution.

During George's presidency we witnessed the rise of the right wing wackos. He was supposed to have been a moderate Republican who was going to be a uniter. Instead, he proved to be too weak, who spent one third of his time in office away on vacation, clearing brush, and finding other ways of avoiding responsibility. After Barack Obama won with a resounding margin, the GOP went into a tailspin. But, instead of re-grouping and reaching out for younger blood and a wider range of ideas, it adopted just the opposite strategy, and has taken it to the extreme. Now, instead of helping to solve our problems or share responsibilites, the GOP has taken to mindlessly attacking everything the Obama administration has tried to tackle. It has personally demonized Obama and created an irrational hatred that has ruined the careers of innocent people and tried to link him to Communism and Hitler. Which is weird, because totalitarianism and fascism has been historically associated with right wing philosophy and regimes, despite what Glenn Back is trying to tell you. The right wingers like Newt Gingrich, Dick Armey, Sean Hannity, and a whole bunch of lesser-knowns are driving themselves batshit trying to convince you how much worse and how dangerous this Obama administration is. Obama is a moderate: be very afraid!

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