NOTE: I have submitted this to Huffington Post. My last several blogs there have been subjected to delays of from several days to over a week. This means they are not timely when and if they appear. It also means that they cannot be featured as they would not come up as recent posts. I will remove this if and when the piece is published there.
The self-referential headline is a slap at all the speculative stuff on what the President will say next week when he deals with Afghanistan. As far as I am concerned, the President has said little more than the following:
He will offer “a clear rationale for what we’re doing there and how we intend to achieve our goals.”
Here’s what I think makes sense.
1. The only rationale for being in Afghanistan involves a documented and defensible assessment of the risk involved in NOT being there. For example, the country will be able to launch attacks globally with impunity. The whole region will be prey to the spirit of Al Qaeda whose aim is Islamic hegemony. The fact that we risk creating a genuine global terror movement worse than we have faced thus far cannot be ignored.
2. Achieving our goal lies more in a global push for sanity and a cleansing of ALL national human rights records — aka global penitence — than in an iffy ground war in a particular country. The real enemy is not localized to the extent that success in Afghanistan would protect against terror. Being in Afghanistan would make sense only if we were not seen as occupiers. The only way to achieve this would be by moving from combat save for defensive purposes. The only acceptable aggression would successful efforts to take out actual, known Al Qaeda strongholds. Negotiation would seek to create the basis for a stable governance in the future. Even if all of this took place, the political conditions there and here are hardly likely to spring for such an approach. For this reason, I do not believe the President has made a final decision on the details of his speech.
3. What I think is that we cannot leave immediately, but that the only rationale for increasing troops is a purely political gamble on the viability of 2 above and the likelihood of gaining support for this “hawkish” position here. Sadly though, conservatives may favor what Obama proposes, but they are so oriented to bringing the President down that their praise will be drowned in the bile of their consistent damnation. This GOP hypocrisy will be accompanied by increasing bile from the progressive side. This will create a pincer that will be politically impossible to stanch.
So what I think is exactly what I thought when I brought up these issues a year ago. We are at a watershed in world history. The angels are on the side of the rejection of war and violence as an instrument of politics. We need to go deeper down. This is where the Nobel needs to go. This is why I think the jury is still out. All the leaking may be just that and no more. When all is said and done I hope that Obama assumes the risks involved in being a peacemaker on steroids. That is, paradoxically, the only way to defeat terror.