Unnecessary escalation 

Afghanistan quagmire now squarely belongs to Obama

Make no mistake, the quagmire in Afghanistan is no longer George W. Bush's war. The new owner of this disastrous experiment to influence the internal affairs of a country that has successfully resisted any and all intrusions by outside forces throughout history now belongs fully and completely to President Barack Obama and the Democrat majorities in Congress. And like the air going out of a balloon, those who once backed both Obama and the Democrats are deflating nationwide as the cruel canard of "change and hope" disintegrates before their very eyes.

The details of Obama's escalation—and there's nothing else to call it—have been known for days. The president will send 30,000 additional American troops to the hell-hole of the Hindu Kush in addition to the 22,000 he has already sent there in the first year of his administration, bringing the primarily American forces to about 100,000.

Following far too closely in the footsteps of his Republican predecessor, President Obama delivered his speech Tuesday night at West Point. It's the same place Bush first announced, more than eight years ago, that America's new foreign policy would include "preemptive actions" against any nation believed to threaten the U.S. As we know, Bush went on to invade Afghanistan and temporarily rout the Taliban, claiming he was "on the hunt" for Osama bin Laden. As we also know, despite all his tough talk, Bush never did find bin Laden despite all the years, the deaths and the hundreds of billions spent on a useless war.

Now comes Obama, who says he will immediately send another 30,000 troops to Afghanistan, while also planning to begin "bringing our troops home" in 2010.

Obama's strategy, if you can call it that, is like the "Hokey-Pokey" dance where "you put your right foot in, you pull your right foot out..." This presidential ploy is little more than a sorry bait-and-switch designed to mislead the American people into escalating a war we neither want nor can afford. Meanwhile, it is American families who will suffer the loss of loved ones while American taxpayers pour even more billions of dollars down the black hole of the Afghanistan.

When the end of 2010 rolls around, however, it is virtually impossible that we will have achieved a "victory" by turning Afghanistan from a wilderness of individual warlords and tribes into a strong centralized government with armed forces capable of controlling 400 individual provinces scattered across some of the most inhospitable terrain on the planet. And then, of course, will pour forth the endless excuses to extend the war, beginning with "conditions on the ground dictate our continued effort."

And for what? Obama now believes that we must expand the war to prop up the incredibly weak government of Hamid Karzai, a ruler who "won" an election in which international voting monitors detailed hundreds of incidents of phony ballots cast by non-existent citizens. Unanswered, too, is the question of why we would want to legitimize a corrupt ruler whose own brother is believed to be deeply involved in the opium trade that is fueling those now fighting and killing American troops.

Nonetheless, Obama has just committed us to a disaster in the making for his presidency, the Democrat Party and the nation. Ironically, the speech to expand the war, the carnage and the astronomical cost comes just before he picks up his Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway. Were the consequences not so tragic, the juxtaposition of Obama's version of war and peace would be hilarious.

For the moment, however, suppose the phony "exit strategy" actually happens. If it does, it won't be because the generals decide to quit, since war is their business. But it could happen if the American people, after a decade of continuous, expensive and senseless wars, finally decide we've had enough and demand that our troops come home.

What will be left behind? Well, let's just take a look at what we're leaving behind in Iraq as a likely example of what will happen in Afghanistan. Just last week a report was issued to the U.N. by British and Iraqi medical experts that detailed conditions in the city of Fallujah, where some of the heaviest fighting took place. According to the report, the birth deformities there are 15 times higher than before the 2003 American invasion. The likely cause, say the doctors, is the use of depleted uranium in artillery by the U.S. military—and the result is horrific. According to the findings, "24 percent of the children born at the city's general hospital in September died within seven days. Three quarters of them had deformities such as two heads, no head, a single eye, or missing limbs." You read it right: "two heads, no head, a single eye or missing limbs." Contrast this post-invasion tragedy with the statistics from 2002, prior to the invasion, and "only one of 530 children born there died, and only one had deformities."

What civilized nation would ever consider causing such monstrosities a justifiable outcome of waging war? How can Obama or Congress ignore the realities of their actions simply by rationalizing them away as necessary to protect our national security—especially when most of the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks came not from Afghanistan or Iraq, but from Saudi Arabia?

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi told the members of Congress that the $100 billion authorized to continue the wars earlier this year would be the last time she would ask for such approval. But now, make no mistake, she will be forced by Obama's decision to ask yet again. If Democrats has a scintilla of conscience or moral fortitude, they would refuse to fund the escalation.

That, however, is unlikely to happen. Instead, under Obama's "Hokey-Pokey" charade, we will continue an unjust, immoral and disastrous war that is virtually guaranteed to create mortal enemies instead of some amorphous victory.

Helena's George Ochenski rattles the cage of the political establishment as a political analyst for the Independent. Contact Ochenski at opinion@missoulanews.com.

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