It is sad to say that Barack Obama has cowardly allowed himself to be bullied by the military and the hawks in his own party and the Republicans. In choosing to send 30,000 more troops to the endless black hole that is Afghanistan, Obama has shown he has no stomach to fight the establishment when it comes to the expansion of the U.S military empire.
Despite what armchair warriors like David Brooks and Fareed Zakaria say, withdrawing from Afghanistan would have been an immensely brave thing to have done. Instead, Obama has elected to send other people's children to a war he knows cannot be won for the sake of political expediency. Obama gets to thump his chest as a big tough leader, showing Republicans he isn't the latte sipping hipster they portray him as.
The pretext for the continued escalation are all too familiar. As Glenn Greenwald writes:
Ostensible justifications for war are more or less universal, as is the
familiar mix of fear, claims of moral necessity(and superiority), and
appeals to patriotism and military love that are always hauled out to
justify their continuation and escalation. Beyond that, Bush's
escalation was based on many of the same counter-insurgency dogmas in
which Obama's escalation is grounded, designed by many of the same
people. So it's anything but surprising that it all sounds remarkably
similar.And it's possible that once we hear the actual speech, rather
than theWhiteHouse's coordinated depiction of it, that there will be
Team Obama will lay out a three year strategy that will supposedly end with a U.S withdrawal from the region. The problem is, when 2012 comes around and hatred for the U.S occupation has risen alongside sectarian violence, we'll have a whole new set of problems to deal with. And then Obama will probably ask for more troops, and more time. And the cost of all this? In financial terms, it is hard to say, but the bill will no doubt end up in the trillions. And most importantly, the human cost will be enormous. Countless U.S soldiers will lose their lives, and thousands of Afghanis will die.
And for what?
No one really knows why we are there. We've been lied to so many times about our endless wars in the Middle East, it's hard to differentiate them. Afghanistan never attacked the U.S, never threatened its neighbors, and poses about as much risk as Iraq did pre invasion. Nevertheless, it's a war the chattering classes say 'we must win' although of course, their children are never on the front line.