December 2, 2009
There can be no greater gift that you can give your loved ones, or the world, this holiday season than Robert Greenwald’s documentary “Rethink Afghanistan.”
While President Barry Obama was busy resuscitating Lyndon Johnson’s “bright and shiny” Vietnam lies in his national address Tuesday night, the American people should instead have been given a more sober assessment by Greenwald as we forge into the valley of fallen empires.
Obama is President primarily because, as a state senator in Illinois, he made a speech opposing the folly of occupying Iraq after 9/11. During his presidential campaign, famed Afghan hawk Zbignew Brzezinski emerged as a key advisor on central Asia. In his book, The Grand Chessboard (1997), Jimmy Carter’s former national security advisor makes it clear that controlling the oil and gas fields of central Asia and the pipeline that runs through Afghanistan and Pakistan are the keys to dominating the 21st century.
The joke among hardcore peace activists during the Obama campaign was that Obama had an “exit strategy” from Iraq – sending the troops to Afghanistan. Unfortunately, the American empire proves all too predictable. Obama pitched his strategy as “disrupting, dismantling and defeating” the Taliban, al Qaeda, and extremists. The problem is that the 30,000 troops in Afghanistan will embolden, empower, and resurrect the Taliban, al Qaeda, and extremists.
The U.S military will be no more successful in occupying the difficult terrain of Afghanistan than was the once powerful Soviet Red Army. Every new armed American troop will serve as a recruitment poster for the Taliban. The insurgent strategy is quite simple. Go into a village, fire rounds toward U.S. troops, flee, and wait for the inevitable American military response by artillery, planes, or drones.
The devastated villages that we’re destroying in order to save them, then become prime recruiting grounds for the extremists we claim to be fighting. President Obama is absolutely correct when he says that the status quo in Afghanistan is not sustainable. That status quo includes more than 250,000 war refugees, a government that defrauded the people and stole the last election, massive corruption and drug-running.
We’ve spent nearly $200 billion in Afghanistan, and as Greenwald points out, for $4 billion we could hire the 40% of Afghan people who are unemployed to rebuild their own country. Afghanistan is unsustainable because it’s filled with desperate and poor people who are being occupied by a foreign empire from the western hemisphere, whose chief interest is in the country’s geo-strategic importance in the battle over the central Asian oilfields to its north.
So when the Taliban pays $8 a day to fight the infidels, it’s often the best option available for the war-ravaged people.
Obama argues that U.S. security is at stake in Afghanistan. It’s not. The Taliban, originally supported financially by the U.S. and Saudi Arabia and incubated in the madressas of Pakistan, are primarily nationalists who stayed within the borders of Afghanistan. Sure they harbored al Qaeda, but the Taliban is not an international terrorist network. Al Qaeda was, for the most part, because it was U.S. trained and financed to defeat the Soviets in Afghanistan.
Occupying Afghanistan because al Qaeda used to be there makes less sense than bombing Florida, New York, and Oklahoma because al Qaeda operatives who attacked us on 9/11 trained to fly there in the 1980s.
The most bizarre part of Obama’s speech was when he told the Afghan people that the United States has “no interest in occupying your country.” But Afghan people know that the armed American soldiers are not coming over to participate in a “hug-a-thon against hunger” and that the high-tech U.S. tanks are not bookmobiles.
Obama seeks to “isolate” those who are killing innocents. Surely he will be successful, since it is the United States with its massive military presence that will be killing the innocent people of Afghanistan, isolating us from positive world opinion.
Obama claims that those of us who argue that this is his Vietnam misunderstand history and points to the 43 nations that are backing us in Afghanistan, implying we were alone in Vietnam. We weren’t. Some of our NATO allies sent troops to Vietnam as did our SEATO allies: Great Britain, New Zealand, Australia, Thailand, and the Philippines. Also, South Korean troops joined us.
Also, the other similarity is obvious: a corrupt immoral South Vietnamese government that was tied to the drug trade.
Obama once again borrowed from Lincoln and talked about government of the people, by the people, and for the people. In reality, Obama is pitching a war of “volunteers” drawn disproportionately from the ravaged American working class, by a president who was elected in the name of peace, and for a small group of oil oligarchs whose only real concern are the oil and gas deposits in the former Soviet republics just to the north of Afghanistan.
Bob Fitrakis is Editor of https://freepress.org, where this article first appeared.