Monday, November 30, 2009

Escalation to What End?

Meghan McCain is angry at President Obama, angrier than she has been in a long time apparently.

In Meghan's most recent post at The Daily Beast, she recounts her visit to Camp Pendleton to send off her brother Jimmy before he deployed to Iraq and his recent return home.

But over this Thanksgiving weekend, with my brother home safely, I heard him tell stories of the horrors of fellow soldiers getting injured overseas. When my brother told me these stories, I was more upset than I expected. Something about hearing it straight from my brother’s mouth made it all more real.

Let me be frank—I am angry. I am angry and frustrated, in a way I haven’t been in a long time. During the election, I remember the biggest fear I had about an Obama presidency was his lack of experience in foreign policy and specifically with the military.

Without specifying what these horrific stories that McCain's brother recounted to her entailed, McCain gets angry at the President's perceived "lack of experience" with foreign policy.

As Obama stalls and hesitates to make decisions, these soldiers in Afghanistan are not being given the support they need. General Stanley McChrystal and other military leaders have asked for an additional 40,000 troops to expand the fighting in Afghanistan. And this Tuesday, President Obama will lay out his plans for the region.


...I hope President Obama fully supports our troops in his speech on Tuesday. Because in the meantime people continue to die, or have their legs blown off, or their bodies burned in a war in which they aren’t being given the opportunity to fight with all the required manpower.

As my father used to say during the election, “let them win.” President Obama, I am asking you to give this military full support and the troop numbers they are asking for. And anything less than 40,000 is a failure.

Let them win, Mr. President.

While I am not a proponent of sending more troops into the region, I find it quite interesting for McCain to claim that because Obama has taken time to consider his options in Afghanistan, he is responsible for soldiers dying and getting injured.

McCain apparently thinks that 40,000 is the magic number of troops for victory in this conflict in order for the soldiers to be "fully supported" and for them to avoid injury and death. If only they could be given enough manpower we could win right?

I wonder how Meghan McCain defines "winning" in Afghanistan. That would be more of an interesting article rather than her current naive attempt to simultaneously slam the President for not being a reactionary while trying to advance the Conservative line that these 40,000 troops will be the winning ticket in Afghanistan.

I want to encourage Meghan McCain to listen to the ever growing chorus of voices who are calling for an end to the fighting in the region and an end to the continued spending of war and destruction.

Take today's Editorial from the Capital Times in Wisconsin:

All indications are that Obama will announce on Tuesday plans to surge as many as 34,000 more troops to dramatically extend the U.S. entanglement in Afghanistan, and in the dirty work of defending what is unquestionably one of the most corrupt governments on the planet.

So what will U.S. troops being doing in Afghanistan? The president would have us believe they are on some sort of humanitarian mission.

This is not the case. They have been placed in the awful position of defending the corrupt regime of Hamid Karzai, who secured the presidency of Afghanistan through foreign interventions, intimidation and election fraud.

Karzai is a despicable despot. The notion that one drop of American or Afghan blood would be shed in his defense is not just unsettling. It is grotesque.

I would also recommend that McCain watch "A Tale of Two Quagmires" which Bill Moyers presented on his program a few weeks ago. In this piece, Moyers took a look at the pressure that was put on President Johnson to escalate the Vietnam War in 1968 and how that scenario is comparable to today's decision facing President Obama. Moyers concluded by saying:

Now in a different world, at a different time, and with a different president, we face the prospect of enlarging a different war. But once again we're fighting in remote provinces against an enemy who can bleed us slowly and wait us out, because he will still be there when we are gone.

Once again, we are caught between warring factions in a country where other foreign powers fail before us. Once again, every setback brings a call for more troops, although no one can say how long they will be there or what it means to win. Once again, the government we are trying to help is hopelessly corrupt and incompetent.

And once again, a President pushing for critical change at home is being pressured to stop dithering, be tough, show he's got the guts, by sending young people seven thousand miles from home to fight and die, while their own country is coming apart.

And once again, the loudest case for enlarging the war is being made by those who will not have to fight it, who will be safely in their beds while the war grinds on. And once again, a small circle of advisers debates the course of action, but one man will make the decision.

We will never know what would have happened if Lyndon Johnson had said no to more war. We know what happened because he said yes.

Someone who did say "no" was Matthew Hoh, who became the first U.S. Official to resign over the war in Afghanistan a few months ago. In Hoh's letter he states:

"I have doubts and reservations about our current strategy, but my resignation is based not upon how we are pursuing this war, but why and to what end. To put simply: I fail to see the value or worth in the continued U.S. casualties or expenditures of resources in support of the Afghan Government in what is, truly, a 35-year old Civil War."

I can agree with Meghan McCain that this whole situation can draw up anger for a lot of reasons, but I don't think the answer is to fall back on the Conservative talking points of "supporting the troops" by sending thousands more into this complicated and increasingly dismal scenario. "Let them win Mr. President" is an empty phrase that does nothing to critically address the ever-growing problems that face this region and the escalation in forces that Meghan McCain is calling for, will only result in more horrific stories of death and destruction.

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