Cutting Through The Crap

Friday, June 25, 2010

Courage



I've thought for a long time that to pull out of Afghanistan would require an act of political courage that we've never seen before, that I can recall, and that we'll never see in such a polarized country. Bob Herbert agrees, it seems:

Ultimately, the public is at fault for this catastrophe in Afghanistan, where more than 1,000 G.I.’s have now lost their lives. If we don’t have the courage as a people to fight and share in the sacrifices when our nation is at war, if we’re unwilling to seriously think about the war and hold our leaders accountable for the way it is conducted, if we’re not even willing to pay for it, then we should at least have the courage to pull our valiant forces out of it.

I think he's right that it's a shared blame. But I think the dynamic is more like this: constant bombardment by the panoply of RWS™ and disgusting inability of liberals to mount an effective response, along with the selfish need of most Americans to equate patriotism with war while avoiding really thinking about it -- much less paying for it -- makes for paralysis. Because overcoming such a charged political climate requires selfless courage; and the screamers know it well, and use it to their advantage.

About this I'm as certain as I am about tomorrow's sunrise: were we to pull out of Afghanistan, there'd be an unprecedented and coördinated barrage of invective from the RWS™, and when the next and inevitable attack on our soil occurs, President Obama would, at minimum be accused of murder. Or worse.

We're wasting lives in Afghanistan, and unending amounts of treasure. In doing so, we're making ourselves less safe, diverting that money from the home front, where it can surely be put to better use. Iraq, on which the jury is still most decidedly out, was, at one time, an actual country. Afghanistan is tribes spread about in the roughest terrain on earth, beholden to no government; and it has been so for centuries. I can't see what would change it; not even were we to send in a million troops and a few more trillions of dollars. If they won't pacify themselves, it'll never happen. They've never been a country.

Nor, were we able magically to turn Afghanistan into a western democracy, or even a pro-western whatever, would we be eliminating terrorist threats. They can come from anywhere, including, as we've seen, within our own borders. Armies can't stop it. Armies fight armies.

It's not worth it. It hasn't been worth it, ever since Bush decided to leave Afghanistan in favor of the debacle known as Iraq. If ever there was a chance to get it right -- and, frankly, I doubt there ever was -- it was then. Now, we're killing ourselves.

I wonder if, deep down somewhere, Barack Obama knows that. In the writings I've read since the McChrystal episode, it seems there's always been a strong contingent in his administration that opposed the "surge" and wanted to find a way out. But, as a war hero once asked, "How do you ask someone to be the last one to die for a mistake?" He's in too deep. Perhaps he thinks of the families of those that have died, those living with deep wounds mental and physical, and hates to tell them it was all for nothing. To tell us what we need to hear, that we lost our chance to prevail in Afghanistan when we left it for Iraq, that we've given them more than nine years to find a way and they haven't, that terrorism knows no country and that our wars have done nothing to lessen the threat but rather has raised it by recruitment and by diversion of resources -- to tell us that, to say it was a mistake by Bush to leave and a mistake by him to go back would take enormous and probably impossible political courage.

If Barack Obama doesn't have that unprecedented courage, no politician does; and, sadly, none likely ever will.

[Update: Here's an article by a person of much more credibility than I, of the same opinion about the outcome.]


24 comments:

Frank Drackman said...

Hmmm, I ate alot of British Beef in the 90's so let me see if I got this straight.
With overwhelming majorites in the House and Senate, a popular President who's played more Golf this year than Tiger Woods...
Its the Republicans Fault that Afghanistans going about as well as the Gulf Oil Spill...
Which is the Republicans fault too...
Just like DADT(imposed by another Democrat)not bein reversed is the Republicans fault
IIRC "W" had deescelated things in A-stan.
Whens Gitmo bein closed again?

Frank

Sid Schwab said...

Yep and yep. DADT, not as much.

Frank Drackman said...

No snappy Latin retort???
No risque Badinage?
No boring 25 minute Youtube Clips???
What have you done with the REAL Sid???
and Eww-Gene, if you post a reply your Gay.

Frank

Anonymous said...

DrekMan...Family Man, Physician, Aviator ,Racist, Sexist, Clueless, TeaBagging-(ClosetGay-Homophobe?) and Plagiarizing Vuvuzelist (PeesBeUponHim)...

You do realize that virtually all of your Vuvuzela-blart posts make some reference to supposed homosexuality in other posters?

In psychology, this is known as projection.

Viz:

"Psychological projection or projection bias (including Freudian Projection) is the unconscious act of denial of a person's own attributes, thoughts, and emotions, which are then ascribed to the outside world"

"Projection, according to Carl Jung...Whenever a person is convinced that the awful qualities seen in another person have nothing to do with him or herself, a projection is mostly likely being engaged."

Physician, heal thyself!

EugeneInSanDiego

egomosperficio said...

No snappy Latin retort???
No risque Badinage?
No boring 25 minute Youtube Clips???
What have you done with the REAL Sid???
and Eww-Gene, if you post a reply your Gay.


your gay?

eugene possesses a gay?

news to me.

i think you're correct, sid. here's hoping my prime minister, harper, doesn't bow to US pressure to keep our troops there.

by the way, i like the revamped look. was it your doing?

Sid Schwab said...

My doing, in the sense of choosing a different template.

Frank Drackman said...

If anyone's counting ( I can't count higher than 20 unless I take off my Pants) there's been 681 American Servicemen/women killed in Iraq/Afghanistan/Ft Hood/Gitmo(Which is still open BTW) since the Muslim in Chief(Sweet Light Crude be upon Him) took over some 520 days, 1 hr, and 44 minutes ago.
681/520, or a little over 1 a day.
And the Afghanistan "Surge"(hmm where did I here that word before??) hasn't even really started yet...

Frank

Ellen Kimball said...

Hi Sid,

I just recommended your blog to a fellow commenting on Boston.com.

Little by little, I'd like to do what I can to build audience for you, if that is at all possible.

It breaks my heart that you write so beautifully and you take all the &*#%* crap from you-know-who. Not that I'm against free speech. BTW, I think that Eugene in San Diego is spot on. I'd guess that Narcissistic Personality Disorder might be a better diagnosis, but who am I to say? I'm sure you know you can control it as I did. I would write it into a TOS (Terms of Service) and we do just that at www.oldelmtree.com forum where I chat with many Democrats in a well-controlled setting. It's wonderful. Warm regards, Ellen

PS. I would give you a link to my photos posted over the past year but I'm afraid they will -- shall we say -- go astray in other hands? That's what happened to me in October 2008 when I dared to post to Vern/Frank's Hideout...

Blue said...

"... diverting that money from the home front, where it can surely be put to better use."

And possibly a better use would be to hire all the skimmers in the world to help out in the gulf. Rather than turning them away...wouldn't you think?

Sid Schwab said...

Boy, Blue, it's just not in your nature to be useful, is it? For one thing, you need to stop believing everything -- debunked -- you see on Fox "news." For another, you might wanna look into the 6000 troops Obama authorized to help with cleanup, and what Bobby Jindal did (or didn't) about it.

By the way, I know what you look like: I looked up "troll" in the dictionary, and there was your picture. You define it, you refine it, you make trolling into a parody of itself.

Dr. John Baldwin said...

I am reticent always, to comment on these pages, as I consider myself a close friend of Sid, although we are probably 180 degrees apart in political and social issues. Nevertheless, let me, as a Vietnam vet, 1968-69, the years of 500 KILLED US soldiers/week... head surgeon at the busiest and largest Evac Hospital..the gallant 24th...weigh in on Sid's current essay, which, in the comments has disintegrated into petty name-calling, and loss of focus. So listen up, please.
Having said that, let me make three points:
1. The first US Soldier's death in Nam was Richard Fitzgibbon, Jr on June 8, 1956. The last KIA was Kelton Turner, a Marine, on May 15, 1975. One could also count Peter Dewey as the first...an advisor, US Army...in 1945.
I write this because Afghanistan is being heralded as "our longest war". But how about Nam 1975 minus even 1956 = 19 years. Spanning Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon and Ford. All "went along". Commander in Chief wars.....
My point is this: who knows when it started, because it was NEVER declared. But if it was your son who died..Peter Dewey, USArmy, in 1945, you might take notice.

2. The US Constitution, Article 1, section 8: "The Congress shall have power to declare war." Do you realize the last time Congress stood up, debated and VOTED to declare war was on December 9, 1941? Korea, Vietnam, Bosnia, Serbia, Grenada, Gulf I and Gulf II and Afg/Pakistan Gulf III...ALL are "Commander in Chief wars". Leaving One man...hanging out to dry. The failure of Congress to do their duties...a NO GO or A GO, with debate, eliminates their HIDING. And enables us to WIN.

3.I agree with Dr. Schwab. As a historian, I read Afghanistan as "A Place", not a country, and only Alexander the Great conquered it...and that for only a year or so. The vaunted Red Army, with NO rules of engagement, except KILL, was defeated, and in the end, parades of Mothers in Red Square, brought the soldiers home.

I agree. Leaving would be a heroic act, leaving to fortify America and it's borders would be more productive, leaving to save trillions of $$$ and perhaps thousands more lives (who knew in 1969 that the Nam toll would be 58,000+)....and leaving now would guarantee, perhaps, a one term presidency.
But it would be RIGHT and prudent and, yes, Heroic.

John N. Baldwin, MD FACS

Cory said...

Sid,

After having shamed myself in an attempt to engage reason and Franky, I have to agree with Doc John on all accounts, especially the petty name calling part. I also enjoyed Ellens ideas on the topic.

Having enjoyed your opinions and writing for some time now, I hesitate with frustration before opening your page- try as I might, I can't find humor, reason, or relevance in Franks comments- however, I do find malicious intent. I think this can limit your readership, and the real value of your comments.

Frank Drackman said...

Ellen!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

How ya been? Hope your not holding any grudges, but I'm a married man.
But hey, I here Larry King's available, might wanta jump on that.
And stop by The Hideout(drackies.blogspot.com) anytime, I changed the locks, so just ring the bell.


Frank

Sid Schwab said...

Cory, I don't much doubt that you're right. On the other hand, I'd hope that the comments on this or any other blog wouldn't deter people who find the posts themselves worthy of reading. There are several political blogs I read regularly, the comments on which can be pretty infuriating. So I generally stick to the central posts and ignore the comments.

I've said before: I don't know why I give Frank a more or less free pass. I've rejected a few of his, and a few of others. Most of Frank's stuff, if offensive, is the same old crap, so it's like background noise. And once in a while, like his counting above twenty comment above, he says something amusing. To that one, I resisted the urge to respond "18, 19, 20, 20.01...

Blue said...

Did I mention the Jones Act? Mmmmm...no. Did I mention Fox News? Mmmmmm...no.

Maybe you can help me make sense of this:

http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/143488.pdf

A lot of help still "under consideration."

Unless you believe everything you read on HuffPo...

Blue said...

PS--a little off-topis, but finally an answer for Frank. The answer is "never."

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/26/us/politics/26gitmo.html?adxnnl=1&adxnnlx=1277568542-4H0zMkFku2qTPRqcCZLV9Q

Sid Schwab said...

Help you make sense? Well, I'm always willing to try the impossible, but in this case I'm not optimistic.

I suppose we could start with the difference between "turning them away" and "under consideration."

Or we could try to work through the idea of "consideration." It means assessing the situation and weighing alternatives. That might require knowing something about what's going on, what the conditions are, what the need for various methods is, and their effectiveness in the extant situation. Do you know that stuff? I don't.

It would also, as usual with your trollage, require falling for the diversion from the point of the original post: the futility of the war in Afghanistan. How many skimmers are or are not in the Gulf, how many more are or are not needed is something about which I don't know; which is one reason why I haven't written about it. You could enlighten me if you'd like. But since this is my blog, and a thread about my post; so if you'd like to, get your own blog, write a post about Belgian skimmers, and come on back and give us all a link.

Sid Schwab said...

"A little off topic." Good one, Blue.

But as long as you bring it up, it's among those things that I find disappointing about Obama, like the topic of this post. Unlike you, I'm able to look at things squarely and criticize "my own" when indicated. You, it would seem, can't. Like your RWS™, having no positive ideas to help out, you can only piss in the pool.

Pointing out the obvious, however, I'd say GITMO might well be closed long since, had the Republicans not, as usual, mounted an entirely disingenuous attempt to destroy Obama no matter the cost to America; namely, their stupid "not in my super-max prison" campaign which, as usual, was taken up by the RWS™, Fox "news" and those of teabagger mentality. To great effect, naturally, because of people like you.

Frank Drackman said...

Psst Sid,
Your Alzheimer's is showing, I mean, the Supermax is in Colorado, a Blue State last time I checked.
And I don't wanta be an "I told ya so" but if a Popular Democrat President with a Democrat Congress can't close Git-Mo, I don't think anyone could, except maybe Spiderman, and he's just a Comic Book Character.
Quick!! Whats the Capitol of Ghana?
Hint: its almost spelled like your Car...


Frank

Sid Schwab said...

Read the NYT article, Frankie: even Lindsay Graham, not exactly a fan of BHO, says the problem is Republican demagoguery.

Blue said...

let's see--the house is on fire and the fire trucks are "under consideration." Good one!

Obama has been more than willing to do unpopular things--like healthcare, for instance. Hard to believe he's afraid of those nasty Republicans on Gitmo. It's almost like he never really meant to close it--just wanted to make himself look tough. Or maybe he wanted something to blame Bush for? And now he's found out it's smater to do what Bush did!

Sid Schwab said...

If a house is on fire, and there are all the fire trucks that are needed, and more would clog the roads.... See, there's the problem with silly analogies.

In my view, like with the rest of the messes Bush left, he found undoing the damage is nearly impossible. In the instance of GITMO, Bush, having shown he doesn't believe either in the rule of law or the ability of American law to deal with terrorism, created an untenable but unsolvable problem.

By incarcerating bad people in extra-legal ways, he made it nearly impossible to bring them into the system. Had he done so in the beginning, as with all the terrorists beforehand, to good effect, there'd not be this legal limbo with no way out.

So, amazing at it may be, once again you're entirely wrong.

Frank Drackman said...

Lindsay Gr-Amnesty???
Lindsay Lohan has better Judgement.
Lindsay Buckingham has more Street Cred,
Stevie Nicks has more Gravitas.
Stevie Wonder has more Vision.

and I only read the NT Times for the Funny Pages, i.e. Never,

Frank

Sid Schwab said...

P.S., Blue: at this point, if you have anything to offer on the wisdom or lack thereof in continuing the war in Afghanistan, feel free. You've already hijacked this thread enough.