Monday, November 30, 2009

The Afghanistan Decision

I don't know what Obama has decided, but I'm very very worried. Its a terrible decision to have to make, and it will haunt his presidency either way. War is a horrific thing, and I can never really truly support a war, even if I think it is necessary. But I don't know if what is about to happen is necessary. I don't believe its largely about combat missions (though I'm sure its implied), but more about patrolling, providing security, and building a strong army/police force to combat the Taliban. Nonetheless if he increases troop levels, it will become a defining moment of his presidency.

Not only he is going to have a very hard time with the base of his party, but it might taint all the good that he is trying to do (and prevent much of it if - and when - we get mired in a long, violent struggle). The Republicans will continue to lie about him - relying on the stupidly inane memes that Democrats don't support our troops, that he's cutting the military budget, that he hasn't done enough to secure 'victory' (for whatever the fuck that is). They lie about him constantly, will continue to do so, and there is nothing he can do to change that.

I know Obama made the war in Afghanistan a part of his candidacy, I was slightly troubled by it then, but I'm especially troubled by it now. I even admire his resolve to keep to his commitments, but I'm sure this alone is not enough to go to war. No doubt this would be a promise that would be joyful to break if the conditions no longer called for it. I know the mission has changed - and being very explicit about what the mission is is of utmost importance. If its no longer about tracking down the Al-Qaeda terrorists that attacked us - and how can it be since Al-Qaeda has largely moved from the region? - then is it mainly about preventing the Taliban from regaining control (and thereby being a safehaven for terrorists)? Or is it about Pakistan somehow? And if so, wouldn't it just be better to support them directly? Sure its all of the above, but fuck, is expanding the war effort the best way? There are lots of nasty and corrupt regimes out there that don't like us very much - but that doesn't justify sending troops in.

I was very impressed when Obama came out not that long ago and rejected all of the proposals that were presented to him regarding Afghanistan. It was a sign of real leadership to demand something better, and not simply choose from a list of bad options (like Bush the 'decider'). But was a better option really presented? If not, then despite all Cheney's blathering stupidity about 'dithering', he should continue to work to find the best possible option even if it takes longer than his detractors say it should. I will listen closely what he has to say, but I'm already scared by the rhetoric being used - 'finish the job'. I can only interpret this as meaning that we need to secure a truly democratic government (as opposed to a merely corrupt sham) that has both broad appeal to the populace to engage with and also has enough power to sustain itself from incursions of the Taliban. But even when I put it in words it sound idyllic, and have a hard time believing that we can 'finish' this - even if we are there for a lot lot longer. And they know we won't be there for a lot longer. And we shouldn't be. Fuck.

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