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Afghanistan: A Lost Cause

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“Afghanization. Vietnamization. Surge. Gradual escalation. Corrupt dictators. Internal dissension. The war follows a familiar script.” POLITICO

Despite proclamations of victory by the Administration of President Barack Obama, the death of Osama bin Laden is not like the fall of Berlin in 1945. In itself, killing bin Laden brings no peace. It does ask many unsettling questions about America’s No. 1 ally in the War on Terror, Pakistan. It also puts into question America’s ability to even win the war in Afghanistan.

When Obama took office, he got this advice from Vice President Joe Biden: “If you don’t get Pakistan right, you can’t win.”[1]

The reason was and remains simple. The enemy, the Taliban, are using Pakistan as a base to operate hit-and-run missions against American troops the way North Vietnam used Cambodia to strike GIs four decades ago. The key difference is former President Richard Nixon launched attacks into Cambodia. Obama’s Cambodia is Pakistan, a Muslim nation with 100 nuclear weapons in its inventory.

If you think the nearly decade-long war in Afghanistan has a lot of similarities with Vietnam, you are not alone. The New York Times reports the recently deceased Ambassador Richard Holbrooke had to shut up regarding how badly the war in Afghanistan was going.

“There are structural similarities between Afghanistan and Vietnam,” Holbrooke noted, in ruminations now in the hands of his widow, Kati Marton.

“He thought that this could become Obama’s Vietnam,” Marton recalled. “Some of the conversations in the Situation Room reminded him of conversations in the (Lyndon B.) Johnson White House. When he raised that, Obama didn’t want to hear it.”

The Times indicated if Holbrooke were still alive, he would be shuttling frantically between Islamabad, Pakistan, and Kabul, Afghanistan, trying to take advantage of bin Laden’s killing to lay the groundwork for a peace process.

The Ghost of LBJ

Johnson was a guns-and-butter Democrat who sat in the Oval Office during the Vietnam War. The undoing of the nation was not solely over his vision of the Great Society, but rather America’s defeat in Vietnam.

Even LBJ finally understood that Vietnam was a lost cause, but not before tens of thousands of Americans died.

Johnson drawled: “Light at the end of the tunnel? We don’t even have a tunnel; we don’t even know where the tunnel is.”

This truth applies to Obama, who still won’t admit it. Without Pakistan as a reliable partner, the United States cannot win peace in Afghanistan. And Pakistan is moving away from the U.S. faster than a bootlegger from the cops.

Last week, the Toronto Sun wrote: “The Pakistani government is embarrassed that bin Laden was found living in relative comfort, but there’s little in their reaction that indicates shame. Rather, they are miffed that the American SEAL team went in without telling them. Parliamentarians even cheered Prime Minister Yousuf Gilani when he warned of dire consequences if the U.S. ever again sent troops into Pakistan without permission.”

Gilani declared that Pakistani intelligence services were neither complicit nor incompetent and that the discovery of bin Laden living in plain sight of Pakistan’s military academy was not Pakistan’s fault. He insisted China is Pakistan’s “all-weather friend” and implied the U.S. is an unfaithful ally.

Can you imagine Winston Churchill warning America about coming on British soil to hunt Nazis during World War II? Of course not, but Pakistan is not a real ally. It is a Muslim nation in which key members of the government and its intelligence service (Inter-Services Intelligence) covertly plan American deaths in Afghanistan while cheering on a war that is exhausting both America’s financial resources and the nation’s psyche.

But there are no Churchills in Pakistan or Afghanistan.

The President of Pakistan is Asif Ali Zardari. His own people call him “Mr. 10 Percent” because of all the kickbacks he took during the premiership of his late wife, Benazir Bhutto, who was assassinated when she again ran for office in 2007. Not only is Zardari corrupt, but he is weak against the Muslim mob which grows angrier each month.

The other key ally in America’s war on terror is Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai, who is also corrupt, perhaps delusional and, most likely, a drug addict. The U.N. envoy to Afghanistan even questioned the “mental stability” of Karzai and suggested the Afghan president may be using drugs.

In an interview on MSNBC, Peter Galbraith described Karzai as “off-balance” and “emotional.” Galbraith went so far as to call for Obama to limit Karzai’s power to appoint officials within Afghanistan until he proves himself a reliable partner.

“He’s prone to tirades. He can be very emotional, act impulsively. In fact, some of the palace insiders say that he has a certain fondness for some of Afghanistan’s most profitable exports,” said Galbraith, in reference to heroin.

When asked straight out if Karzai is a drug addict, Galbraith responded: “There are reports to that effect. But whatever the cause is, he can be very emotional.”

You can see where this is going. In World War II America had Churchill and Charles de Gaulle on our side. In this war we have Zardari and Karzai, two leaders that make South Vietnam’s dictator Ngô Đình Diệm look like Thomas Jefferson.

A Steep Price of Peace

There is a lot of money being made in these Arab wars, at least for U.S. military contractors. Fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq has cost more than$1 trillion. Yet some neoconservatives just can’t get enough, as was evident earlier this year when Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) wanted to put boots on the ground in Libya. McCain declared the Libyan “rebels” are true heroes and represent American democracy. Either the Senator has seen Star Wars one too many times, or he has forgotten that Americans are still dying because Washington armed the mujahideen in Afghanistan in the 1980s.

It is true that Presidents and generals never get credit for battles they never fought. In this way President George H.W. Bush never got credit for not invading Iraq in 1991 and for letting the Communist bloc determine their destiny without American interference.

Furthermore, the success in killing bin Laden shows that surgical operations, whether lead by SEAL teams or pinpoint bombing, can knock out America’s enemies and not at the cost of hundreds of billions of dollars per year.

But I don’t expect Obama to declare victory and bring the troops home anytime soon. There is still an election to win, so I expect the President to give his “Peace with Honor” speech just before Americans go to the polls.

Yours in good times and bad,

–John Myers
Editor, Myers’ Energy & Gold Report

[1] From the book, Obama’s War, Bob Woodward, Simon & Shuster, New York, NY, 2010

John Myers

is editor of Myers’ Energy and Gold Report. The son of C.V. Myers, the original publisher of Oilweek Magazine, John has worked with two of the world’s largest investment publishers, Phillips and Agora. He was the original editor for Outstanding Investments and has more than 20 years experience as an investment writer. John is a graduate of the University of Calgary. He has worked for Prudential Securities in Spokane, Wash., as a registered investment advisor. His office location in Calgary, Alberta, is just minutes away from the headquarters of some of the biggest players in today’s energy markets. This gives him personal access to everyone from oil CEOs to roughnecks, where he learns secrets from oil insiders he passes on to his subscribers. Plus, during his years in Spokane he cultivated a network of relationships with mining insiders in Idaho, Oregon and Washington.