The race for the Presidency has been interesting, not because of what either GOP nominee Mitt Romney or President Barack Obama has said, but because of what has been ignored.
The most notable taboo topic is the Nation’s continued involvement in Afghanistan as well as the progressive deterioration of American strategic goals for the Mideast.
Neither candidate has been candid on a geopolitical blunder in Afghanistan that continues to rack up hundreds of billions of dollars in additional debt and potentially thousands of American deaths.
Phyllis Bennis, a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies and author of Ending the US War in Afghanistan: A Primer, contends that neither candidate has a way for America to extricate itself from Afghanistan.
In an interview, Bennis said:
Candidate Obama has now stopped talking about Afghanistan this time around. Candidate Romney has said that Obama is not tough enough, but what he has called for has not been different in any substantive way. He has said that we should keep troops there, not pull out right away. President Obama is not pulling out right away, so there’s very little substantive difference.
What is inescapable is that this month marks the beginning of the 12th year of war in Afghanistan; it is America’s longest war. What has been ignored by American strategists is that Afghanistan is a desolate, Stone Age nation that refuses to be civilized and has successfully resisted past and present superpowers, a group that includes not only the United States but also the British Empire and the Soviet Union.
Washington has ignored this historical truth and has so far invested nearly $1 trillion in fighting a losing struggle that has cost us more than 2,000 dead.
Obama has promised to end the U.S. combat role in Afghanistan by December 2014, although the United States has pledged to continue some undefined military and economic support well beyond that date. How far the United States will offer support beyond that date is open to speculation. Given the growing conflict with millions of radical followers of Islam, it doesn’t seem impossible that right now America has a future President who is in college and who, decades from now, will be deciding his strategies to defend America from an ever-expanding Muslim mob.
Afghan war strategists in the Obama Administration agree there is little chance of negotiations with the Taliban that would bring a political settlement to the war.
The question is why would the Taliban want to negotiate with the United States? Some 12 years into this war, American soldiers on patrol can’t determine who the biggest threat is: the enemy fighters in the countryside or their Afghan allies who once protected their backs but have increasingly been taking aim at them.
Gareth Porter, a historian and investigative journalist on U.S. foreign and military policy, said: “The Taliban have been able to carry out spectacular attacks on U.S. bases that have gotten much farther and done much more damage than anything the Vietcong and North Vietnamese were ever able to do during the Vietnam War.”
In an interview with The Guardian newspaper, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen admitted the killings of almost 50 allied troops this year by Afghan security forces has damaged the relationship between the international forces and the Afghan police and military.
The Much Bigger War
Unspoken by both Presidential candidates is how America can win the war far beyond Afghanistan, a war without borders against an elusive enemies with unspecific goals united only in their hatred of the United States.
“The enemies we face in the future will look a lot like al Qaeda: transnational, globalized, locally franchised, extensively outsourced–but tied together through a powerful identity that leaps frontiers and continents,” wrote Mark Steyn in America Alone: The End of the World as We Know It.
“All dominant powers are hated–Britain was, and Rome–but they’re usually hated for the right reasons. America is hated for every reason. The fanatical Muslims despise America because it’s all lap-dancing and gay porn; the secular Europeans despise America because it’s all born-again Christians hung up on abortion; the anti-Semites despise America because it’s controlled by Jews. Too Jewish, too Christian, too godless, America is George Orwell’s Room 101: whatever your bugbear you will find it therein; whatever you’re against, America is the prime example of it.”
We no longer face a monolithic enemy like communism. What we do face is an enemy that will persist in its extremism and its hatred of the United States long after the upcoming occupant leaves the Oval Office.
And yet our policymakers continue to be like old generals and persist with fighting the last war. That war was won by outspending the enemy. Eventually, the Soviet Union imploded because that empire simply could not afford the cost of the Cold War. Today, America’s strategists are spending even more money on everything from nuclear aircraft battle groups to ultra-sophisticated fighter-interceptors like the Raptor F-22 which costs $420 million per plane.
Expenditures on these types of weapons put the Pentagon’s budget at $670 billion this year, about 18 percent of total Federal spending. The dollar amount has more than doubled since 2001 when the United States began its wars against Islamic extremists. It is hard for me to see how jet inceptors or nuclear submarines can effectively combat the growing radical contingent within Islam which continues on its jihad.
From Yemen to Libya, revolt rolls forward. Not long ago, nations like Egypt were our vanguards, influencing at least some stability on the region. In the past three years, one regime after another has been toppled, and there is growing radicalization inside the governments of almost each of these former allies. That could, as Steyn suggests, leave America alone.
When I was a kid, there was a joke about the IQ test for dummies. One of the questions was: Who is buried in Grant’s Tomb? Another was: How long did the Hundred Years’ War last? This second question isn’t so easy because it turned out to be a series of conflicts between England and France that lasted from 1337 to 1453.
That is trivia. But there is another question we should all be asking: How long will America’s war with Islam last? Tragically, we are into the second decade of this conflict and there is no end in sight.
Yours in good times and bad,
Editor, Myers’ Energy & Gold Report