Monday, February 19, 2007

Brickbats, glass houses and the wild blue yonder

Rick Moran, the genius who can't take 30 seconds to figure out I'm a woman, calls me a a monumental idiot for this post. I swear the rightwingers have a sixth sense for when you're down. I just put in about 50 hours of work in 4 days on a sum total of 17 hours of sleep and I'm looking at 3 more days just like it. I'm crawling through the hours in complete exhaustion and posting on the fly, so I'll admit it wasn't the most articulate post I've ever put up on the blog. I didn't even have time to proof it and I see that I made a few typos but my summation of the situation and his were essentially the same. In fact, Moran wrote a much better post than mine. His only errors are of omission. He notes well:
Musharraf has also banned air operations against the Taliban (although he has relented on a few occasions when a high value AQ target was sighted) and denied entry even by Special Forces – although there have been hints that he has simply turned the other way with regards to both American and French Special Operations that have been run in the northern Afghan-Pakistani border area.
What he fails to remember is the PR disaster those high value strikes engendered. If memory serves we got a couple more of the proverbial #3 AQ leaders. No actual high value targets were proven to be hit unless you count the US pressure that led to exposing the identity of a double agent, Muhammad Naeem Noor Kahn. But allegations of innocent civilian deaths abounded and only served to exacerbate the prevailing anti-US sentiment. And I bet the on the scene footage made for a helluva AQ - Taliban recruiting tape.

Moran calls the left ignorant and deluded for blaming Bush's failure to follow through in Afghanistan? He asks what our troops could have done except battle livestock once we "drove the Taliban out of the country?" Where to start?

For the record, I wasn't one of those "patriotic lefties" who supported the invasion of Afghanistan. I'm patriotic, but I'm also pragmatic and I've never believed you could fight terrorism with military might. But that aside, let's pretend it was a practical solution. Number one, we were supposed to be invading to get Osama and destroy the AQ. The Taliban were just a convenient aside. Number two we didn't drive either group out of Afghanistan. We drove them out of Kabul and in five years we still haven't secured the country outside of the captial city. Moran rightly points out we couldn't chase them into Pakistan in hot pursuit but what we could have done was commit the same level of force that we instead put into Iraq, to secure the border so they couldn't get back in.

Instead we abandoned that mission to a handful of troops and both the Taliban and AQ enjoyed unfettered access to both countries. The war lords who had been suppressed under Taliban rule arose again, partly with our help, and the drug trade flourished where the Taliban had all but eliminated it. Today fully half of Afghanistan's GDP rests on opium. An unregulated, untaxed and extremely lucrative black market is even now financing the training camps and underwriting the resurgence of our allegedly vanquished enemies. Bush is right now trying to get money to fight an additional war on poppies too. We ought to win a lot of hearts and minds by poisoning the Afghanis' land and water -- but that's another issue.

Back to the point at hand, once we secured the border, we could have commited our resources to rebuilding the already fragile infrastructure we destroyed, as we promised we would, in trying to find Osama in the first place. If the indigenous Afghanis had alternate economic choices, they wouldn't be growing poppies and they wouldn't be vulnerable to recruiting from the terrorist groups. The US misadventure in Afghanistan brought the people death and destruction, hunger and deprivation. The Taliban and the AQ then return with money and protection. Who do you think they're going to side with?

Call me an idiot, and leave aside why we should have trusted that a guy who supported the Taliban right up to 9/11 was really going to do anything to stop them, but I have to think if we had prevented the Taliban and AQ from leaving Pakistan once they were over there, Musharraf would have had more of vested interest in doing something about them.

Moran calls it irrational to point out that every decision Bush has made since 9/11 has only increased the level of the anti-Americanism and fostered international terrorism across the board. I think it's more irrational to excuse Bush's inept foreign policy and deny that it's had that effect. And I find it downright dangerous and irresponsible that he and his cohorts are now effectively encouraging Bush to blunder into the border zone with bombs to try to fix his previous grievous errors, when clearly it can only make things worse.

And yes, I blame Bush for the colassal mess he created. I predicted this moment would come from the day the courts declared him president, but I take no comfort in being right. I only wish I was as wrong as Rick and his fellow diehard White House supporters.
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