Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth


with 4 comments

Maddow: Barack Obama, war president. Taking all of Rachel’s points, especially what she has to say about the CIA and Pakistan, I think we do need to recognize that our invasion radically destabilized Afghanistan’s political structure and that accordingly we owe an obligation to the Afghans not to leave their country in shambles as we withdraw. That and that alone should be our sole strategic concern.

I remain fundamentally unpersuaded that additional escalation is the best course of action towards fulfilling this obligation, and deeply hope Obama’s proclaimed 2011 timeline will prove to be sincere—but regardless of what I think the die is cast.

Let’s hope tonight’s announcement truly demarcates an end, and not a new beginning.

4 Responses

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  1. Has anyone seen any commentary that suggests the escalation is a good idea? I can’t find anyone who likes this.


    December 2, 2009 at 1:22 am

  2. is the die really cast? i’m just as uncertain as you are that the timeline will actually be kept. if antiwar sentiment wanes due to apathy/fatalism/whatever then there really will be no reason to keep to it.

    basically obama seems to be committing to the same counterinsurgency ‘surge’ strategy that worked so well in Iraq, while compromising with the (carefully hedged) timetable. but i think the right-wing and military commentators are correct that if the stated goal is counterinsurgency then politically and strategically you can’t expect to just pull out at some arbitrary date if the objectives haven’t been achieved. they’re correct because counterinsurgency is in their playbook. the whole thing is in response to a request from McChrystal (to answer your comment, the right likes it). i can’t imagine the timetable is anything more than a whip-cracking tactic.

    this is what we have to work with, and why i think a firm and repeated antiwar position is the only one that has any hope of traction.

    i’m more or less convinced by chomsky’s analysis of the overall afghanistan strategy, that we have to look at it in the context of resource war:

    And in particular, we have to dominate energy resources. That goes way back. You know, after the Second World War, it’s been maybe the prime factor in US [inaudible] —

    AMY GOODMAN: And the energy resources in Afghanistan?

    NOAM CHOMSKY: No, they’re not in Afghanistan. They’re in — mostly in the Gulf, secondarily in Central Asia. But Afghanistan is right in the middle of this system. I mean, there is a pipeline question. How powerful it is, you can speculate. But there have been longstanding plans for a pipeline from Turkmenistan in Central Asia to India, which would go — TAPI, it’s called: Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India.

    Now, that’s of significance to the United States for a number of reasons. For one thing, if it — it would run right through Afghanistan and through Kandahar province, one of the most conflicted areas. If it was established, it would, for one thing, reduce the reliance of the Central Asian states on Russia. So it would weaken their role. But more significant, it would bypass Iran. I mean, India needs energy, and the natural source is Iran. And, in fact, they’re discussing an Iran-to-India pipeline. But if you could get natural gas flowing from Central Asia to India, avoiding Iran, that would support the US policy, which is now very clear — in Obama’s case, it’s been made more concrete — of forming an alliance of regional states to oppose Iran.

    In fact, that’s — John Kerry, the head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, recently made an important speech about that with regard to Israel-Palestine. He said we have to reconceptualize the issue so it’s not an Israel-Palestine problem, but rather, we’ll sort of put that to the side, and what we have to do is create an alliance of Israel and what are called the moderate Arab states. And “moderate” is a technical term, means they do what we say. And so, the moderate Arab states include the brutal Egyptian dictatorship, the radical fundamentalist dictatorship in Saudi Arabia, and so on. They are the moderates, and they have to join with Israel and us in an anti-Iranian alliance. And we have to, of course, break ongoing connections between Iran and India to the extent that we can and elsewhere. And that puts the Israel-Palestine problem — issue to the side.

    so anyway, i don’t think obama’s stance on afghanistan represents either a beginning or an end — it’s just continuity.


    December 2, 2009 at 2:03 am

  3. […] What national interest or security objective is served by prolonging our occupation of Afghanistan? Maddow is surely right that “preemption,” as a strategy, is nonsense. In the post last night, […]

  4. There isn’t a way that Obama can cut off the conflict in Afghanistan, but who is the one who got us there? Bush, but now it is on Obama’s shoulders. It is a pretty unwinable issue. The republicans will be out for blood.

    sue chant

    December 2, 2009 at 4:24 pm

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