Sunday, June 13, 2010


Bob Herbert is one of the few reporters who "gets it". His op-ed pieces in the NY Times are fiery, intelligent and honorable in intent. 

"Early this year, we were told that at long last the tide had turned in Afghanistan, that the biggest offensive of the war by American, British and Afghan troops was under way in Marja, a town in Helmand Province in the southern part of the country. The goal, as outlined by Gen. Stanley McChrystal, our senior military commander in Afghanistan, was to rout the Taliban and install a splendid new government that would be responsive to the people and beloved by them. 

That triumph would soon be followed by another military initiative in the much larger expanse of neighboring Kandahar Province. The Times’s Rod Nordland explained what was supposed to happen in a front-page article this week:

 “The goal that American planners originally outlined — often in briefings in which reporters agreed not to quote officials by name — emphasized the importance of a military offensive devised to bring all of the populous and Taliban-dominated south under effective control by the end of this summer. That would leave another year to consolidate gains before President Obama’s July 2011 deadline to begin withdrawing combat troops.” 

Forget about it. Commanders can’t even point to a clear-cut success in Marja. As for Kandahar, no one will even use the word “offensive” to describe the military operations there. The talk now is of moving ahead with civilian reconstruction projects, a “civilian surge,” as Mr. Nordland noted. 

What’s happening in Afghanistan is not only tragic, it’s embarrassing. The American troops will fight, but the Afghan troops who are supposed to be their allies are a lost cause. The government of President Hamid is breathtakingly corrupt and incompetent — and widely unpopular to boot. And now, as The Times’s Dexter seems to be giving up hope that the U.S. can prevail in the war and is making nice with the Taliban. 

There is no overall game plan, no real strategy or coherent goals, to guide the fighting of U.S. forces. It’s just a mind-numbing, soul-chilling, body-destroying slog, month after month, year after pointless year. The 18-year-olds fighting (and, increasingly, dying) in Afghanistan now were just 9 or 10 when the World Trade Center and Pentagon were attacked in 2001."

This kind of ineptness has become the way Obama does business. Status quo and lack of courage and vision are the hallmarks of this administration. BRT doesn't often rant about politics save for how tech and science impacts same but after reading Herbert's heart felt article about the lost cause of Afghanistan, I felt it time to say some things about the current state of affairs in this nation.
  • In Nov of 2008, I voted for change, to leave behind the eight years of the worst administration in our history. The things I wanted to see happen were :
  • Really deal with the banks. Protect the depositors, let the banks themselves die. Rome wasn't too big the fail and last time I checked, that empire was far bigger then the Fed, Goldman Sachs or J.P. Morgan Chase in terms of size, power and status at that point in time.
  • Get out of Iraq and Afghanistan as we cannot afford to fight these lost causes. Nam proved why indigenous troops don't have to win, all they have to do is outlast as we will eventually leave while they will remain in their country, forever. I detest the Taliban but it's Afghanistan's problem, not ours.
  • Health care. The plan we got is a giveaway for the drug and insurance companies. Question, why does Obama continue the policy of the government not being able to compete for the cost of drugs just as Canada does? Bush cut that disastrous deal with big pharma with the end result we Americans pay twice as much for drugs then Canada.
  • Surveillance: The Bush policy continues unabated. Nothing has changed regarding 24/7 unwarranted surveillance of Americans. Ditto on incarceration without Habeis Corpus.
  • Balanced budget: The grand illusion continues with defense getting over 700 billion while crushing US debt continues to push us toward sovereign insolvency
  • Vision: There is none. Intelligence is a prerequisite of vision, vision is not a prerequisite of intelligence, something Obama has exhibited with great flair, We hear nothing about light rail or a way toward sustainability while Wall Street continues to siphon money from the middle class.
  • Courage - There is none. As much as I hated Bush, the guy had the wherewithal to "articulate" his twisted vision in simple fashion and was able to get the word out, via an integrated communications system, with great effectiveness.  He also established a fear factor (after 9/11 of course) people respected. Just see how effective W was in perpetrating the lies in pushing this country toward war with Iraq to see why. (War crimes anyone?) No one fears Obama because he doesn't intuitively understand how to pull the levers of his office to make it happen. (FDR was the master on this one.)
  • Leveraging Tech: Why isn't there a cohesive policy to get the nation off of oil? Isn't the Gulf Spill enough reason to do this? As often stated before in BRT, the tech is in the lab able to change how this country does business regarding energy. It's now time to move on this before it's too late. How about a WPA program to to start the ball rolling in the Gulf to get people back to work as the era of cheap oil is gone. You can pay for this by getting out of Iraq and Afghanistan now.
  • Be honest:: Yes, as I.F. Stone said, Governments lie, but not to the extent of trying, at all costs, to hold onto the myth of getting back to "normalcy" (unfettered growth, happy motoring etc., etc.)  even though we lack the money to do it nor do we have the 'cheap" energy needed, at this point in time, to make it happen.
We are squandering what we have left and it saddens me to see how lost our "leaders" are. If Alexander the Great acted this way, he would never have become Great.
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