Saturday, September 26, 2009

Afghanistan and reality

How come we can take an 18 year old American, induct him into the army, train him for 12 to 24 months and consider him ready to fight in Iraq or Afghanistan, but we can’t take an Afghan or Iraqi, who live in a culture of violence (note all the civilians with AK 47’s) and do the same?

We’ve been fighting in these two countries for 8 years and yet they don’t seem able to recruit enough of their own citizens to create an military to defend themselves.

If a key policy point for us is not to leave a government until it is able to defend itself, the fact that they haven’t accomplished this in 8 years leads to the conclusion that we’re never going to leave or that we’ll unilaterally pull out and watch all our efforts to create a stable government collapse.

The other impact of this is that recent discussions in Washington D.C. indicate the option of leaving Afghanistan precipitously is on the table, is that the Afghan civilians have no incentive to choose sides in their situation. If we leave they’ll be at the mercy of the Taliban. And, that’s not much mercy.

You can argue about all the training the Afghans need, everything from flying helicopters to maintaining a supply system, but that washes out when you see in both Iraq and Afghanistan their opponents don’t have these skills either. It’s an even match except that the insurgents may care more about winning than the government troops might.

It’s time to cut our losses and leave. It will be humiliating and another example of how we don’t stand behind out allies, but the same results will be experienced if we do it a number of years from now.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Afghanistan, let's get out now

Let’s get out of Afghanistan now before we shame ourselves again.

After the insurgents we funded drove the Russians out in 1989, we rapidly abandoned the Afghans. Our contest was with our cold war enemy, the Russians. With their defeat, we could declare victory and go home. And we did.

Unfortunately, by leaving the Afghans on their own, the freedom fighters we supported against the Russians became the Taliban who sheltered Al Qeida. This group then oppressed the Afghan people and helped Al Queida carry our their attack on New York.

So we went in again in 2002, this time with our troops to get some vengeance, hopefully find Bin Laden and clean things up. Unfortunately, we again substantially abandoned Afghanistan and its people after Iraq became our number one enemy.

This allowed the Taliban to reform so that they are now our latest number one enemy. Our strategy now is to clean out the Taliban and again restore security to the Afghan people. This takes their cooperation in working with us and informing on the Taliban insurgents. We say we’ll stay around to protect them.

Fat chance!

We’re already talking about exiting Afghanistan. Why should any of these people stick their necks out helping us when the Taliban will be there, whenever we leave, to wreak vengeance on them?

It’s a nation sized version of the police asking a neighborhood to help clean out drug dealers but then leaving and leaving the people who helped the police to suffer retaliation from the criminal element. We did it in Vietnam when we declared victory and left, leaving the South Vietnamese to suffer at the hands of the North.

We’ll do it in Afghanistan when our public and politicians get tired of the whole mess. Let’s leave now and minimize our shame at abandoning them again.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Mad as hell

An old movie, I think it was titled Network, had the principal actor so frustrated that he (a TV anchor man) urges his viewers to open their windows, lean out and shout, “I’m mad as hell and I won’t take it anymore.”

I think this level of frustration is happening nation wide in relation to all the major government initiatives which have happened or are happening. This is culminating in the uproar about the proposed health insurance plan.

Somewhere in the 60’s we began to stop trusting government to be straight with us. It’s taken many years and several presidents but it’s now reached the point where more than half of us don’t believe or have any faith that government is looking out for our interest.

During the present financial upheaval we’ve seen the banks being bailed out while the little guy loses his home. Exorbitant bonuses are still being given to those already earning millions. Government seems to have no backbone to confront power.

On the health insurance fiasco, we’ve been asked to support it without any details being given out about it’s impact on various segments of the population. I’m tired of being asked to “just trust us”. It’s time for us to be talked to like equal partners or to stick our heads out the window and shout.

Between the conservatives lying about everything and the liberals pouting that if they don’t get everything they want, they’ll vote against it, we’ve been reduced to spectators watching an ideological food fight.

The one saving grace might be a plan to adopt a “public” option if the private health insurance industry can’t come up with a private sector solution within three to five years. This should partially satisfy the conservatives for now by postponing that public option. It might satisfy the liberals in that they’re sure the private sector won’t be able to do enough to solve the problem.

Let’s go back to 1993/94 when the Clinton health plan was introduced and defeated. One of the cries from the conservatives then was that the subject was so important and the plan so detailed that they needed more time to work on it. Fast forward 15 years and, even after having 15 years to develop a plan they could live with, they’re still asking for more time.

I think time has run out for both sides. If nothing comes of this effort this time, both sides should be punished. Neither the liberals with their insistence on perfection nor the conservatives as, “The Party of No” are representing the vast majority in the middle.

If this is accepted, perhaps, as they don’t represent us, we shouldn’t vote for them. Think about that, not necessarily voting for the opposite party but just not voting for anyone.