Friday, February 6, 2009

Where empires go to die

Whistling Past the Afghan Graveyard
Tom Dispatch: For all their differences with Bush's first-term neocons, here's what the Obama team still has in common with them -- and it's no small thing: they still think the US won the Cold War. They still haven't accepted that they can't, even if in a subtler fashion than the Busheviks, control how this world spins; they still can't imagine that the United States of America, as an imperial power, could possibly be heading for the exits... 

The US continues to expand its armed forces and to garrison the globe, even as it attempts to bail out an economy and banking system evidently at the edge of collapse. This is a sure-fire formula for further disaster -- unless the new administration took the unlikely decision to downsize the US global mission in a major way. Right now, Washington is whistling past the graveyard. In Afghanistan and Pakistan the question is no longer whether the US is in command, but whether it can get out in time.

MSNBC: According to military officials during last week's meeting with Defense Secretary Gates and the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the Pentagon's 'tank,' the president specifically asked, 'What is the end game?' in the US military's strategy for Afghanistan. When asked what the answer was, one military official told NBC News, 'Frankly, we don't have one.' But they're working on it.

New York Times: 'It seems there's a rush to send in more reinforcements absent the careful analysis that's most needed here,' said [Andrew] Bacevich, author of The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism. 'There's clearly a consensus that things are heading in the wrong direction. What's not clear to me is why sending 30,000 more troops is the essential step to changing that. My understanding of the larger objective of the allied enterprise in Afghanistan is to bring into existence something that looks like a modern cohesive Afghan state. Well, it could be that that's an unrealistic objective. It could be that sending 30,000 more troops is throwing money and lives down a rat hole.'
Image source here.