Unless we admit we lost the war, the bad news can only get worse. There are different degrees of defeat. Delaying signing a peace treaty could mean US troops leaving from on top of the US embassy (like in Vietnam) or even a total collapse far worse than the collapse of the Soviet Union after it bankrupted itself partly by the Afghanistan War. General Stanley McChrystal’s grim blunt assessment that we would lose unless he got 40,000 new troops in a hurry in order to starve off a relatively quick defeat, in no way expressed any optimism that we would win in the end even with more troops. I would like to reinterpret his statement as implying that we should leave rather quickly rather than face a possibility of a last minute panicky retreat like in Vietnam.
Actually there is still a window of possibility for a quick hollow victory in Afghanistan where the Taliban agrees in the future to hand over any al Qaeda leaders for trial to any international court that requests, in exchange for a quick US withdraw.
There is very little chance for the divided leadership of the Taliban to actually comply with such an agreement or for an al Qaeda leader to allow himself to be taken into Taliban custody. But this would prevent al Qaeda from cheering that a relatively few al Qaeda suicide bombers chased America out of Afghanistan. However people like Dick Cheney would argue that we really lost to al Qaeda and help al Qaeda crow a little.
A similar scenario actually happened once before, but no Democrat, or Bush-hater, sabotaged not allowing al Qaeda to cheer. Bin Laden originally vowed to drive US troops out of Saudi Arabia, It was his main claim for 9/11. In 2003, George Bush withdrew US troops, from Saudi territory and if 9/11 never happened US troops possibly could be still on Sacred Muslim territory. Western infidels in Mecca, in bin Laden’s mind, was the biggest affront to Islam in what he sees as a 1000-year-old war between Islam and the West. When US troops began leaving Saudi Arabia, private contractors moved in. Al Qaeda smelling what they thought was a trick that US troops would stay in Afghanistan disguised as private businessmen and private contractors. Al Qaeda attacked the private contractors. This scared most Saudis who previously had mixed feelings toward al Qaeda. Saudis rely a lot on non-Muslim servants. Muslim servants are supposed to follow the same customs Saudis do like to pray five times a day. It could be a little awkward for a Muslim servant to watch them do such things as skip prayers, or on the other hand for Saudi’s not to frown a little if a Muslim servant had overlooked them. In many little ways, and some major ones, not being able to hire non-Muslim servants would drastically change the Saudi way of life. Attacking contractors made al Qaeda very unpopular in their country. However, if back then when US troops left Democrats would have yelled, “Bin Laden won!”, like Cheney would do today, al Qaeda could have crowed a little about victory.
Obama preformed close to miracle in Iraq, US troops left the cities under the condition that they wouldn’t return unless ethnic strife or a government request brought them back in. Remember all the warnings during the Bush administration that the bloodbath between Sunnis and Shiites would become extremely intense, unless the US were kept in-between them.
Now, thanks to Obama, the Shiites are ignoring highly provocative al Qaeda suicide attacks because they would rather US troops stay out then to randomly get even with Sunnis in tit-for-tat ethnic strife.
If the US continues to waste vast sums on ever more expensive smart weapons, like drone airplanes, until the dollar collapses, and since most Americans are far away from food sources we will be fighting with each other over food here at home rather than the US fighting a war abroad. The usual way a war ends is that of a signed peace agreement. This is much preferable to a hasty last minute withdrawal. The Taliban doesn’t want to see Afghans continuing to die, they are willing to try to make at least small compromises in exchange for peace.
Sometimes a military defeat is attempted to be covered over by a political event. Hitler didn’t seize southern France during World War II, the Vichy government took power. I contend that if moderates like Arlen Specter continue to be kicked out of the Republican Party until the next US administration is proud of torture and human rights infringement like Cheney and the constant escalation of the war advocates at the Washington Times want, it would be a defeat of the US Republic. Sun Myung Moon who founded the Washington Times believes in what he calls “Godism” not democracy, all major decisions made by a central higher authority. Some of those who work at the Washington Times may also go further than Cheney’s belief that sometimes human rights and Democracy gets in the way of what needs to be done. I contend that many who shrilly advocate sending more troops to Afghanistan aren’t concerned about Afghanistan but in using the war to disrupt the domestic progressive agenda. They far more interested in change in this country than worrying about change in Afghanistan.
Let’s back up a moment. Why is it the US’s responsibility to stop al Qaeda when al Qaeda also made horrible attacks in Spain and Britain? To discombobulate Bush’s plans for a coalition government in Iraq, al Qaeda blew up Shiite sacred sites which got many thousands of Shiites and Sunnis to kill each other in tit-for-tat violence. This is something many Shiite Muslims in Iran and other Muslims hate him for. If the US wasn’t so egocentric we would realize that purposely creating widespread ethnic strife was a greater crime than 9/11.
Even Saudi Arabia would fight to keep al Qaeda from becoming in charge. The Soviet Union fought militant Muslims in Afghanistan and Chechnya. Unfortunately for them at the time, they did manage to inadvertently convince Muslims around the world that Russia was their enemy, much more that George Bush who constantly insisted that moderates like the King of Jordan was US’s friend. Russia would never allow a militant like bin Laden to take charge of much of the world, especially Muslim areas near Russia, or take charge of Pakistani nukes. Also, al Qaeda made it clear that if the US actually withdrew from Afghanistan they would be attacking China in a big way, already looking for a fight with China over suppression of Muslim separatists in Uighur. Time Magazine referred to an Oct 7th al Qaeda statement threatening China that I think is urgent for both US doves and hawks to contemplate,
Unfortunately the information covered by Time Magazine didn’t get central coverage elsewhere in the media.
During both world wars the US government’s only central purpose was to win. This held true in Korea as well. But Lyndon Johnson also wanted his Great Society programs, and Obama wants health care reform. US soldiers want to protect their buddies much more than any burning desire to win. If the central purpose of US foreign policy was to defeat al Qaeda, we would let Iran get the weapons it wants in return for attacking al Qaeda, something due to their hate of what al Qaeda did to Shiite holy sites they already would have done if not tension between the US and Iran and Israel and Iran hadn’t gotten in the way. This is the kind of policy that the US had during World War two when even Stalin was considered US’s friend.
There is no way we can win against an enemy that envisions a permanent warring class, without making stopping al Qaeda the overwhelming focus of US foreign and domestic policy. No American believes that al Qaeda would be in charge of the world if we don’t take leadership like most did against Hitler and the Soviet Union. Al Qaeda attacked on 9/11 because it wanted US troops out of Saudi Arabia and feared the then slow march toward victory of the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan would have been both a psychological and physical blow to extremism, while temporary control of Afghanistan by the US would only be a physical, not psychological, setback.
Actually like everyone else I really don’t have the answers, but let’s lobby Obama in the spirit of trying to get him to do a better job, rather than join those who think criticizing Obama on war is a good way to sabotage Obama and the general progressive agenda.
During Vietnam the theme of the antiwar movement was that “Vietnam was not our enemy” which fit in with the fact that Vietnam never had any plans for the US. Today the theme should be we have no business deciding to be in charge of fighting al Qaeda while paying little attention to what they are all about. I wish I could convey the danger I see in belittling the al Qaeda threat by not only the antiwar movement but ordinary Americans tired of a far away conflict.
Bin Laden’s dream of a permanent Muslim warring class is grim news for the world, including much of the Muslim World. But unlike with Hitler stopping al Qaeda is in no way dependent on US resolve. The antiwar movement should stop risking being a tool of those who are investing their future political clout in the hope that al Qaeda will have another 9/11 some day. Remember Al Qaeda attacked Spain when the antiwar movement there was strong and Britain when Tony Blair was in danger of losing his party’s support, and could only threaten to attack the German Beer fest when Germans wanted to leave Afghanistan, but just the threat had an effect of the German election outcome. But unless we are willing to give up all other domestic and foreign policy in an effort to stop al Qaeda, such as arming Iran who was hurt the most by an al Qaeda attack of Shiite holy sites, we have no business trying to be in charge while are eyes and ears are focused elsewhere. Where there is emotional commitment some want to use anger against bin Laden to spread to anger at Hamas and Hezbollah, others to anger at all religious people who oppose womans rights or gay rights, or anyone who is more than a Sunday Christian. Others just hoping the war ends the progressive social agenda.
I don’t like the way today’s antiwar movement is copying the Vietnam precedent by claiming that al Qaeda is not a problem for us. Let’s reinterpreted General Stanley McChrystal’s grim assessment as meaning that it is likely that any kind of US policy toward sustained change in Afghanistan might not work almost no matter what we do. Reinterpreting General McChrystal’s statements as reason to get out might actually bring and earlier end to the war.