Denial and Evasion on Afghanistan

by NORMAN SOLOMON

Is your representative speaking out against escalation of the Afghanistan war?

Last week, some members of Congress sent President Obama a letter that urged him to “reconsider” his order deploying 17,000 additional U.S. troops to Afghanistan.

Everyone in the House of Representatives had ample opportunity to sign onto the letter. Beginning in late February, it circulated on Capitol Hill for more than two weeks. The letter was the most organized congressional move so far to challenge escalation of the war in Afghanistan.

But the list of signers was awfully short.

* California: Bob Filner, Michael Honda
* Hawaii: Neil Abercrombie
* Kentucky: Ed Whitfield
* Maryland: Roscoe Bartlett
* Massachusetts: Jim McGovern
* Michigan: John Conyers
* North Carolina: Howard Coble, Walter Jones
* Ohio: Marcy Kaptur, Dennis Kucinich
* Tennessee: John Duncan
* Texas: Ron Paul
* Wisconsin: Steve Kagen

We desperately need a substantive national debate on U.S. military intervention in Afghanistan and Pakistan. While the Obama administration says that the problems of the region cannot be solved by military means, the basic approach is reliance on heightened military means.

One of several journalists in Afghanistan on a tour “organized by the staff of commanding Gen. David D. McKiernan,” the Washington Post’s Jackson Diehl, wrote a March 23 op-ed in support of an invigorated “counterinsurgency strategy.” With journalistic resolve, he explained: “Everyone expects a surge of violence and American casualties this year; no one expects a decisive improvement in the situation for at least several years beyond that.”

The commanding general, Diehl added, does not anticipate that the Afghan army “can defend the country on its own” until 2016. In effect, the message is to stay the course for another seven years: “The thousands of American soldiers and civilians pouring into the country deserve that strategic patience; without it, the sacrifices we will soon hear of will be wasted.”

And so, with chillingly familiar echoes, goes the perverse logic of escalating the war in Afghanistan. “Strategic patience” — more and more war — will be necessary so that those who must die will not have died in vain.

In contrast, the letter from the 14 members of the House (eight Democrats, six Republicans) lays down a clear line of opposition to the rationales for stepping up the warfare.

“If the intent is to leave behind a stable Afghanistan capable of governing itself, this military escalation may well be counterproductive,” the letter says. And it warns that “any perceived military success in Afghanistan might create pressure to increase military activity in Pakistan. This could very well lead to dangerous destabilization in the region and would increase hostility toward the United States.”

More than 400 members of the House declined to sign the letter. In effect, they failed to join in a historic challenge to a prevailing assumption — that the U.S. government must use massive violence for many more years to try to work Washington’s will on Afghanistan.

An old red-white-and-blue bumper sticker says: “These colors don’t run.”

A newer one says: “These colors don’t run… the world.”

Now, it’s time for another twist: “These colors won’t run… Afghanistan.”

But denial and evasion are in the political air.

NORMAN SOLOMON is the author of Made Love, Got War.

 

Norman Solomon is executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy, where he coordinates ExposeFacts. Solomon is a co-founder of RootsAction.org, which has encouraged donations to the Sterling Family Fund. Disclosure: After the guilty verdict five months ago, Solomon used his frequent-flyer miles to get plane tickets for Holly and Jeffrey Sterling so they would be able to go home to St. Louis.

Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
July 27, 2015
Susan Babbitt
Thawing Relations: Cuba’s Deeper (More Challenging) Significance
Howard Lisnoff
Bernie Sanders: Savior or Seducer of the Anti-War Left?
Martha Rosenberg
Big Pharma’s Profiteers: You Want Us to Pay What for These Meds?
John Halle
On Berniebots and Hillary Hacks, Dean Screams, Swiftboating and Smears
Stephen Lendman
Cleveland Police Attack Black Activists
Patrick Cockburn
Only Iraq’s Clerics Can Defeat ISIS
Ralph Nader
Sending a ‘Citizens Summons’ to Members of Congress
Clancy Sigal
Scratch That Itch: Hillary and The Donald
Colin Todhunter
Working Class War Fodder
Gareth Porter
Obama’s Version of Iran Nuke Deal: a Second False Narrative
Joshua Sperber
What is a President? The CEO of Capitalism
Zoe Konstantopoulou
The Politics of Coercion in Greece
Vacy Vlanza
Without BDS, Palestine is Alone
Laura Finley
Adjunct Professors and Worker’s Rights
Jon Langford
Mekons Tour Diary, Episode Three, Where We Thrill Everyone by Playing Like “Utter Bloody Garbage”
Weekend Edition
July 24-26, 2015
Mike Whitney
Picked Out a Coffin Yet? Take Ibuprofen and Die
Henry Giroux
America’s New Brutalism: the Death of Sandra Bland
Rob Urie
Capitalism, Engineered Dependencies and the Eurozone
Michael Lanigan
Lynn’s Story: an Irish Woman in Search of an Abortion
Paul Street
Deleting Crimes at the New York Times: Airbrushing History at the Paper of Record
ISMAEL HOSSEIN-ZADEH
Making Sense of the Iran Nuclear Deal: Geopolitical Implications
Andrew Levine
After the Iran Deal: Israel is Down But Far From Out
Uri Avnery
Sheldon’s Stooges: Netanyahu and the King of Vegas
David Swanson
George Clooney Paid by War Profiteers
ANDRE VLTCHEK
They Say Paraguay is in Africa: Mosaic of Horror
Horace G. Campbell
Obama in Kenya: Will He Cater to the Barons or the People?
Michael Welton
Surviving Together: Canadian Public Tradition Under Threat
Rev. William Alberts
American Imperialism’s Military Chaplains
Yorgos Mitralias
Black Days: August 4th,1914 Germany and July 13th, 2015 Greece
Jeffrey R. Wilson
“It Started Like a Guilty Thing”: the Beginning of Hamlet and the Beginning of Modern Politics
Jeffrey St. Clair
Star Whores: John McCain, the Apache and the Battle to Save Mt. Graham
Pepe Escobar
The Eurasian Big Bang: How China and Russia Are Running Rings Around Washington
Charles Larson
The USA as a Failed State: Ta-Nehisi Coates’s “Between the World and Me”
Robert Fantina
Israel and “Self-Defense”
John W. Whitehead
The American Nightmare: the Tyranny of the Criminal Justice System
Leonidas Vatikiotis
Rupture With the EU: a Return to the Cave Age or a New Golden Age for Greece?
Murray Dobbin
Harper is Finally Right: the Canadian Election is About Security Versus Risk
Brian Cloughley
Meet General Joseph Dunford: a Real Threat to World Peace
Manuel García, Jr.
The Trump Surge and the American Psyche
Pete Dolack
We May Have Already Committed Ourselves to 6-Meter Sea-Level Rise
Eric Draitser
US Targets Venezuela Using Border Dispute as Pretext
Michael Barker
The Challenge to Labour and Tory Extremism
Robert Hunziker
America’s Purple Politics
Ishmael Bishop
Decentering Whiteness in the Wake of a North Carolina Tragedy
Chad Nelson
Something About Carly: Fiorina and the Professional Political Class