Lately I’ve been reading Oliver Stone’s and Peter Kuznick’s The Untold Story of U.S. History. It’s a terrific read. In fact, I gave hardback copies to all the members of my family for Christmas. The book’s final chapter on the Obama administration devotes lots of space to Afghanistan. In brief, here’s what it says:
There is no way the U.S. can “win” in Afghanistan. In fact, no one knows what “winning” might mean. That’s because the exact purpose of continued presence in Afghanistan is unclear. Originally, it was to dislodge the al Qaeda brain trust and fighters from the country. Now, we’re told, fewer than 100 such “terrorists” remain there. Most al Qaedans are now based in Pakistan. So the mission has morphed into preventing the Taliban from regaining control of the country. Most likely, the real reason for hostilities is Afghanistan’s vast mineral resources which are of supreme interest to multinational mining corporations.
In any case, the U.S. continues its military operations that impoverish not only the Afghan people, but our own country. In other words, the United States is pouring vast sums of money down a rat hole – money that could be better used to address problems at home. It’s amazing that Republicans and Democrats alike are calling for austerity measures here while wasting trillions (!) there on a hopeless cause. If they truly want to balance the budget, STOP THE WARS!
For its part, the Karzai government is hopelessly corrupt. The would-be president was “elected” by a massively fraudulent process recognized as such by practically all observers. Graft constitutes the very purpose of seeking office in Afghanistan. Bribery is a way of life. Banking scandals involving Karzai’s relatives have rocked the country and enriched his family. At one point, Karzai even threatened to join the Taliban.
Meanwhile, President Obama has lacked the courage and integrity to own his position as Commander in Chief and stop the war. Virtually everyone outside his hawkish Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, and Generals Petraeus and McChrystal has advised him to do so. Yet Obama’s obsequiously deferred to the military brass at every turn, and has doubled down on a losing cause with troop surges and waffling on withdrawal deadlines.
All of this reveals the genius and success of Osama bin Laden’s strategy to repay the United States for its crimes against the Muslim world. The day after 9/11 bin Laden enumerated those transgressions quite clearly. They had nothing to do with “hating our freedom.” Instead he pointed to more than eight decades of the West’s exploiting the political economy of the former Ottoman Empire, to unqualified U.S. support of Israel in its oppression of the Palestinians, and to its desecration of Muslim holy places of Mecca and Medina by stationing foreign troops there following the First Gulf War.
Bin Laden wreaked his havoc in New York and in Washington’s Pentagon for a reported cost of $50,000. That’s what preparation and implementation cost to hijack those airplanes and fly them into the World Trade Center and Pentagon. In response, the United States has fought two illegal wars at the cost of more than $4 trillion, bankrupting itself in the process. It has disgraced itself by violating international law in its refusal to prosecute the war criminals responsible for such atrocities.
The U.S. has also shredded its own Constitution by suspending habeas corpus, routinely violating the 4th Amendment’s protections against unlawful search and seizure, and claiming the right to execute even its own citizens without trial. Additionally, the United States has also lost any claim to its alleged “exceptionalism” by its practices of torture and rendition and by routinely employing brutal death squads in Iraq and Afghanistan and their remotely controlled counterparts in its programs of drone assassinations in at least five countries. In the meantime, bin Laden’s strategy has American soldiers killing themselves more efficiently than their al-Qaeda enemies.
In other words, on an investment of $50,000 bin Laden has brought the U.S. economy to its knees, undermined its self-confidence, defeated the U.S. military, and has ruined the reputation of a country once widely admired throughout the world. And the bleeding continues; the returns are still coming in. So much for the protection of “defense” budgets currently shelling out more than a billion dollars each day!
What to do about such suicidal madness? It’s as simple as one, two three: (1) STOP THE WARS. (2) Reinvest in U.S. infrastructure and job programs the millions wasted each day fighting Afghanistan’s heroic people who polls show want the U.S. out of their country. (What we call “terrorists” are defending their own borders from foreign invaders and brutal occupiers. They are the very people our government organized and funded as “freedom fighters” when they were terrorizing the Russians with the same tactics now being used against U.S. troops.) (3) Reconfigure U.S. military policy, cutting the Pentagon’s budget by at least 50% so that its purpose becomes defending our borders rather than the interests of multinational corporations which couldn’t care less about the United States or its people.