Another stupid Fort Hood copycat? http://ping.fm/frBaw
Immediately after Barack Obama’s election, after working for him from Iowa on, I wrote that the nightmare is over. Now I realize it is not. The legacy of the Bush years lives on. We have an obligation to expose it to its evil core.
We need to show forcefully Bush’s role in stealing two presidential elections and leading the country to the very edge of ruin using 9/11, whose advent he ignored, as an excuse. If Hannah Arendt needed a poster child for the banality of evil, Bush is it.
We need to examine all of Cheney’s career. Was he always a danger to democracy? Did he always operate, when he had power, with impunity?
The key to a proper dealing with Bush and Cheney is our President.
He can only end the nightmare by leading the country — as Ike proposed — beyond the demonic hold of the military-industrial complex and the clandestine morality it encouraged. This means saying no to conventional war as an instrument of foreign policy and yes to a concept of proportionality that can operate in the future to deter any who attack us.
I believe Barack Obama’s greatest moments will come when he wills to tackle this biggest of all global conundrums. It is the problem which for a century has engaged the greatest minds of the world and led to their common acknowledgement that we must change.
But we are pouring lives and billions down the drain all over the world and money could accomplish a whole lot more with less expense and fewer (or even no) lost lives.
I’m serious. Dig this.
In Pakistan they figure if they more than double certain sorts of aid (the kind that educates people not to be terrorists) it becomes economically viable for corrupt officials to gravitate to our side. Yes, I am talking bribery. Carrots. The point is, it is cheaper than making weapons and training soldiers to become targets. And I bet it accomplishes more.
I propose a contest.
Try using money for a month to do what you want to get done militarily. Compare the costs. I will bet you that a million spread here and there, say to build a needed bridge or purchase 100 donkeys or buy some seeds, will outperform a bunch of soldiers with guns every time. You get what you want on the cheap.
I am not saying disband the service. I am saying have a fair contest. If money (aka smart bribery, aka targeted help) works better than ammo and soldiers, then turn the soldiers into smart bribers. It’s that simple.
Money has worked forever to buy peace, i just has not penetrated the military mind or, for that matter, the political mind. If we can bail out a bunch of Wall Street good for nothings with billions, we can surely risk this experiment.
Face it, you will do the same thing I am proposing anyway. The only problem is you will combine it with military stuff and that will more than cancel out the positive effects. You will say you are doing the money thing, but you will be cutting off your nose to spite your face.
Get the hell out of AfPak militarily. Stop playing that this is a war. It is a slow suicide mission. Every military thing you do strengthens the will of a proud and stubborn people. How smart do you need to be to figure that out?
Go the cash route. Cash with strings. Cash with observers — soldiers who are learning to function in some other way than as killers and targets. I am not saying do not defend against the Taliban. Sure, set up a perimeter that is clearly not part of an offensive maneuver. Or begin to withdraw to the point that it will be obvious that you do not intend to fight.
President Obama is very wrong on one single point. (I never say such things. You read this and forget it.) He is wrong in saying that the only way we can stop Al Qaeda is by doing what we are doing, wasting millions of dollars and daily lives on a pipe dream. The way to stop Osama and Company is with a combination or ridicule and proportional retaliation for any actual attacks.
For example, if Osama, or whoever is in charge, launches a killing attack somewhere, do something bad enough in the area where the planning is going on so that they will think twice about their strategy. No one is going to fault a proportional response. A teargas in the caves sort of thing.
What we have now is not proportional. It is silly.
We need to unite geeks and soldiers and play this like a non-lethal war game. Money has a value. It can be used to achieve lots of things. We are pouring it down a bottomless drain if we think we can win AfPak without going through a major attitude adjustment.
I do not really agree with my question — assuming it is meant seriously. I think most of us feel we need to be operating in AfPak.
But something is telling me to ask it. Here are my answers:
1. We would take a potential 50,000 US troops and others out of harm’s way. If we use 9/11 as a measure (moral calculus), we would be saving the lives of perhaps as many (or more) as were killed back then.
2. We could say we are not in the business of extending democracy to nations that prove incapable of maintaining it. We might be aware that, even in the US, it is not an easy thing to maintain a democracy.
3. We could say that our intention is to protect our own citizens at home and abroad and that our response to any terrorist acts will be swift and proportional. In other words if someone pulled something off in the US or killed Americans abroad, we would be prepared to make an immediate response, limited by moral calculus.
4. We could argue that it simply has not worked — even with the best will in the world — to try to change a country that has not been able to change itself. And that henceforth we would contribute heavily to create a greater UN capability to assist any country that wishes to grow democratic institutions, have elections, etc.
5. We could argue that the present course in AfPak is so reminiscent of other military failures in the past, that even though we mean well, we have no confidence that this helps.
6. We could suspend drone attacks and use them for proportional responses in the event of further acts of international terrorism. We could internationalize this process to share both costs and responsibility.
In essence we would be doing what I believe we should have done after 9/11. We didn’t and look what happened. Nothing says that eight years from now we might not be saying the same thing about a costly and failed AfPak strategy.
Ht to My Left Wing for pointing to this salient weigh-in on the situation betwixt our military and the options that exist in Afghanistan and Pakistan. You will need several minutes to savor this text and see whether you agree or not. Huber has a way of talking/writing that is both appealing and abrasive. Dig it.
The closest thing we have to legitimate security concerns in the Bananastans is that evildoers might get control of Pakistan’s nukes and the oil pipeline that runs through Afghanistan. There’s a very simple military solution to both of those problems: blow up the nukes and blow up the pipeline. Blowing stuff up is the one thing Obama’s generals know how to do.
In a March 6 interview with the New York Times, Mr. Obama said he is considering a plan to “reach out” to moderate elements of the Taliban. That’s a fantastic idea, and the best possible way to reach out would be to have our troops line up and shake the hand of each and every one of those mother’s sons and then climb on a plane for home.