December 02, 2009

The Obama Speech, or: Huh?

Well, that was different. Now I really don't get what we're doing in Afghanistan. I think the idea is that we will fight a war against the Taliban and the 100 or so remaining members of al-Qaeda in Afghanistan in order to encourage the Pakistani government to keep the same miscreants away from the nuclear weapons in and around Islamabad. We will keep doing this until about July, 2011, at which point the problem will have been solved, in perpetuity. The cost of the 100,000 troops, based on our new consensus-accepted calculation ($1 million per soldier per year), through July, 2011 will be somewhere in the neighborhood of $150 billion and however many lives are lost.

Something occurred to me as I watched our President go through the motions of this speech. One of Barack's main problems is that Bush left such a disheveled mess of a country in his wake that practically everything Obama does is simply an echo of Bush's agenda, either in furtherance or in contradiction thereof. The wars, the economy, the bailouts, the budget deficit, everything he spends his time doing is in reaction to the colossal catastrophe of the Bush years. The lone exception is health care reform, and let's face it: Congress is simply unequal to the task. It was a mistake for Rahm Emanuel to assign such a monumental undertaking to this group of clowns. They'll never come close to putting anything coherent together.

So the outlines of Rahm's reelection strategy for Barack are now plain. Barack's initiatives are done, because we're out of money, especially with these new war costs. The decision to focus on deficit reduction means that we're barely going to scrape by holding the federal government's core operations together. So Rahm's idea is that Barack, as of the fall of 2011 (one year before the election), will at least be able to say that the country is at relative peace. As for prosperity, maybe things will be somewhat better. One can hope. If so, then the reelection campaign will be based on the concept that Obama brought us peace & prosperity.

If Barack had simply announced a withdrawal from Afghanistan, he would have exposed his Right flank (the only one he cares about) to the criticism that while the redoubtable, pugnacious Bush had the courage of his convictions and ordered a Surge, thus "winning the war" (just before the Ungrateful Nuri told us to leave), Obama didn't have the tenacity to Stay the Course, put Boots on the Ground, and Prevail; that is, to do a Surge of his own. In the fall of 2012, the argument would never have worked that Obama did what he did (pulled the troops) because it was fiscally necessary and the war made no sense anyway. Too complicated - no one can follow that. The reasoning is in two parts, whereas "we stayed and won" is easy to remember. The timing is perfect: the Status of Forces Agreement with the Ungrateful Nuri requires us to have all combat troops out of Iraq by August, 2011, coinciding with the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan in July of the same year.

Everyone comes home, and wins across the board! All we have to do in Afghanistan at that point is declare our victory. No one will be able to tell one way or the other. Does anyone know whether we've "won" in Iraq? Nuri is widely regarded by the Iraqi people as a Shiite version of Saddam, running a police state complete with torture chambers, political prisoners, repression and probably the suspension of scheduled elections. He has close ties to fellow Axis of Evil member Iran.

But it's a Win, because it's too complicated to figure out that it isn't. Similarly, any Republican who says that we left Afghanistan (or Pakistan?) before the job was done will be criticized for being a spoil sport and whiner. Of course we won!

So there you have it, the "thinking" behind the Afghanistan Surge. As nearly always the case with Washington, D.C., the non-correlation with reality is just about a perfect 100%. But that's not the business they're in, not anymore. It's the projection of Images of Reality. Those are all that matter, and since there is no chance that a permanent solution to turmoil in Afghanistan and Pakistan will be in place 19 months from now, the Image is all we're going to get.

1 comment:

  1. Machipongo John8:36 AM

    All Obama has to do to get re-elected is to catch Osama bin Laden. Nothing else will be a clear victory that he can brag about. Hopefully, catching OBL will be job no. 1 of the troops he is sending to Afghanistan.