Please, Mr. Custer, we don't want to go!
By Dr. Robert Owens
When the neo-cons, a group of liberal democrats realized Margaret Thatcher was right in saying, "The trouble with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people's money" they decided liberalism is as Michael Savage contends a mental disorder. In the 1970s and 80s they abandoned the Good Ship Democrat proclaiming themselves Born-Again Republicans. Generally they still carry the baggage of their former psychosis when it comes to social issues but when it comes to foreign affairs and military matters they sound like Errol Flynn playing George Custer in They Died With Their Boots On, "Don't wait for orders from headquarters. Mount up everybody and ride to the sound of the guns."
These neo-cons not only flew high into the circles of on-air talking-heads they swirled through the Bush White House leading us into Iraq. Now they're beating the drums for massive reinforcements in Afghanistan.
The War in Iraq was a preemptive war, meaning we hit them back first. Preemptive war has a long history, the Romans and the Germans used it but this was the first time America climbed on the get-in-the-first-whack bandwagon. The mission of rolling the big rock up that steep hill has not yet been fully accomplished. Due to the tireless and valiant sacrifices of our heroic military the Iraqi theater is winding down into a perpetual garrison to make sure our now friendly ally remains friendly joining the list of American military garrisons in over 63 countries.
The War in Afghanistan is a completely different situation. The Taliban managed to subdue most of the country once the Soviet armies retreated in defeat. These purveyors of religious purity and peace killed tortured and maimed anyone with the chutzpa to disregard any of their religiously inspired rules such as little girls who tried to learn how to read or women who dared to leave the house without a male escort or without wearing a tent. Unable to curb their enthusiasm they didn't forget to kill torture or maim any man who didn't grow a long enough beard, boys who didn't memorize their rule book fast enough and of course any member of the Gay-Lesbian-Bisexual-Transgendered society who happened to be trapped in their society. Under these turbaned and bearded fascists Saturday night soccer games were transformed into ritual be-headings and mutilations. Then for fun they would destroy historic works of art and crush people under walls as they waited for the Sunday stoning.
Stoically we considered all of these barbarous atrocities their own affair and never made a move to clean up this cesspool of 13th century evil until after the 9-11 war crimes. Then we politely asked them to kick the culprits out and we would let them go back to their celebration of depravity but they wouldn't listen. They stood by their man and in retaliation we sent in the Special Ops, bribed anyone who would take a dollar in the hand in place of a bullet in the head and in short order drove Omar, Osama and their disciples of peace into Pakistan to fester and plot an encore performance. A confusing post-invasion coalition eventually morphed into the corrupt but pro-American Karzai regime.
Then our friends the neo-cons expressed their belief that the mistake we'd made after the proto-Taliban Mujahedeen we supported defeated the Soviets was that we didn't stay and do some nation-building. So this time we stayed to do some nation-building. Today the regrouped Taliban are using the surge strategy to overwhelm our scattered troops. We're trying to build a nation where none exists. Afghanistan is a fiction of western minds. We created it as single entity instead of a region. We drew it on a map and piously repeat that it exists like a mantra or a fever dream. To the medieval tribal people who actually inhabit the region their loyalty is to their family, their clan and their tribe.
It is apparent to everyone except seemingly the people American presidents ask for advice that no matter how much we want a nation to be built we don't have the raw material as in identifiable citizens of a nation, the treasure or the patience to invest another decade or two to get electricity outside Kabul or democracy in Kabul. The whole world knows we are going to eventually bail-out, either declaring victory à la Nixon or admitting defeat à la Gorbachev and coming home. Why should one more American lose their life for a cause that has been stretched out way past our initial victory into our present morass?
On the campaign trail Mr. Obama claimed this war for himself. Since his inauguration he has repeated Afghanistan is a war of necessity. He's installed his own commanders and almost immediately sent more troops. Now he hesitates to the point that everyone can see he doesn't have the desire or the will to do what would be necessary to win. Let's hope he has the political courage to withdraw before Afghanistan becomes the Little Big Horn with our brave troops as the Seventh Calvary. Please, Mr. Custer, we don't want to go!
Dr. Robert Owens teaches History, Political Science, and Religion for Southside Virginia Community College and History for the American Public University System. Contact Dr. Owens or follow him on Twitter or his blog.© 2009 Robert R. Owens
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