FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

When the Dead Have No Say

Official Washington is buzzing about “metrics.” Can the war in Afghanistan be successful?

Don’t ask the dead.

Days ago, under the headline “White House Struggles to Gauge Afghan Success,” a New York Times story made a splash. “As the American military comes to full strength in the Afghan buildup, the Obama administration is struggling to come up with a long-promised plan to measure whether the war is being won.”

Don’t ask the dead. They don’t count.

The Times article went on: “Those ‘metrics’ of success, demanded by Congress and eagerly awaited by the military, are seen as crucial if the president is to convince Capitol Hill and the country that his revamped strategy is working.”

Don’t ask the dead. They won’t have a say.

“Without concrete signs of progress, Mr. Obama may lack the political stock — especially among Democrats and his liberal base — to make the case for continuing the military effort or enlarging the American presence.”

Don’t ask the dead. They can’t hear you.

“We all share the president’s goal of succeeding in Afghanistan,” said Senator John Kerry. “The challenge here is how we are going to define success in the medium term, given the difficult security environment we face.”

Don’t ask the dead. You can’t hear them.

The White House “struggles to gauge Afghan success.” People in the middle of the Afghan war struggle to survive.

A new ceiling of 68,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan hasn’t been reached yet, but leaks are now telling us that the Pentagon’s top commander there will soon request 45,000 more. Apparently, escalating the warfare is much more attractive to Washington’s policymakers than actually challenging the main supporters of the Taliban in Afghanistan — the Pakistani government.

“With the U.S. relationship with Pakistan still locked in a cold war embrace that accedes to Pakistani demands at the expense of Afghanistan, establishing a metric for anything is useless without reassessing the underlying assumptions,” Elizabeth Gould and Paul Fitzgerald said last week. They’re authors of the new book “Invisible History: Afghanistan’s Untold Story,” published after nearly 30 years of research.

“With Pakistan’s creation of the Taliban, America’s concept of ‘winning’ entered a complicated phase that continues to haunt American decision-making to its core,” Gould and Fitzgerald added. “Pakistani intelligence knows full well the American political system, its history of compliance with their wishes and the lack of appreciation for Afghan independence. America’s war in Afghanistan is an ongoing bait and switch where the U.S. fights against its own interests and Pakistan plays the Beltway like a violin.”

Gould and Fitzgerald contend: “The only metric that matters is how far Pakistan’s military has moved from supporting Islamic extremism. With the insider relationship the United States has with Pakistan’s military intelligence, that should not be a difficult metric to establish.”

Meanwhile, few Democrats with high profiles can bring themselves to challenge President Obama’s military escalation in Afghanistan. But an important statement has just come from John Burton, chairman of the California Democratic Party.

“Enough is enough,” Burton wrote in an August 11 email blast that went to party activists statewide. “It’s time we learned the lessons of history. The British Empire, the most powerful empire in the world, could not subdue Afghanistan. Neither could the Soviet Union, the second most powerful country at that time and next-door neighbor to Afghanistan. Two of the great militaries in history found Afghanistan easy to conquer but impossible to hold. It’s time the people of Afghanistan assumed full control of their own country. It’s time for American troops to come home — not only from Iraq, but from Afghanistan too. And the first step is an exit strategy.”

Burton made a key connection between the soaring costs of the U.S. war effort in Afghanistan and the domestic economy: “Already, $223 billion that could have gone to things like health care reform has been sunk into this war. . .”

Routinely, the dominant political and media calculus renders the dead as digits and widgets, moved around on spreadsheets and news pages. The victims of war are hardly seen as people by the numbed sophisticates who can measure just about anything but the value of a human life.

The dead can’t speak up. What’s our excuse?

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More articles by:

Norman Solomon is executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy, where he coordinates ExposeFacts. Solomon is a co-founder of RootsAction.org.

Weekend Edition
January 18, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Melvin Goodman
Star Wars Revisited: One More Nightmare From Trump
John Davis
“Weather Terrorism:” a National Emergency
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Sometimes an Establishment Hack is Just What You Need
Louisa Willcox
Sky Bears, Earth Bears: Finding and Losing True North
Robert Fisk
Bernie Sanders, Israel and the Middle East
Robert Fantina
Pompeo, the U.S. and Iran
David Rosen
The Biden Band-Aid: Will Democrats Contain the Insurgency?
Nick Pemberton
Human Trafficking Should Be Illegal
Steve Early - Suzanne Gordon
Did Donald Get The Memo? Trump’s VA Secretary Denounces ‘Veteran as Victim’ Stereotyping
Andrew Levine
The Tulsi Gabbard Factor
John W. Whitehead
The Danger Within: Border Patrol is Turning America into a Constitution-Free Zone
Dana E. Abizaid
Kafka’s Grave: a Pilgrimage in Prague
Rebecca Lee
Punishment Through Humiliation: Justice For Sexual Assault Survivors
Dahr Jamail
A Planet in Crisis: The Heat’s On Us
John Feffer
Trump Punts on Syria: The Forever War is Far From Over
Dave Lindorff
Shut Down the War Machine!
Mark Ashwill
The Metamorphosis of International Students Into Honorary US Nationalists: a View from Viet Nam
Ramzy Baroud
The Moral Travesty of Israel Seeking Arab, Iranian Money for its Alleged Nakba
Ron Jacobs
Allen Ginsberg Takes a Trip
Jake Johnston
Haiti by the Numbers
Binoy Kampmark
No-Confidence Survivor: Theresa May and Brexit
Victor Grossman
Red Flowers for Rosa and Karl
Cesar Chelala
President Donald Trump’s “Magical Realism”
Christopher Brauchli
An Education in Fraud
Paul Bentley
The Death Penalty for Canada’s Foreign Policy?
David Swanson
Top 10 Reasons Not to Love NATO
Louis Proyect
Breaking the Left’s Gay Taboo
Kani Xulam
A Saudi Teen and Freedom’s Shining Moment
Ralph Nader
Bar Barr or Regret this Dictatorial Attorney General
Jessicah Pierre
A Dream Deferred: MLK’s Dream of Economic Justice is Far From Reality
Edward J. Martin
Glossip v. Gross, the Eighth Amendment and the Torture Court of the United States
Chuck Collins
Shutdown Expands the Ranks of the “Underwater Nation”
Paul Edwards
War Whores
Alycee Lane
Trump’s Federal Government Shutdown and Unpaid Dishwashers
Martha Rosenberg
New Questions About Ritual Slaughter as Belgium Bans the Practice
Wim Laven
The Annual Whitewashing of Martin Luther King Jr.
Nicky Reid
Panarchy as Full Spectrum Intersectionality
Jill Richardson
Hollywood’s Fat Shaming is Getting Old
Nyla Ali Khan
A Woman’s Wide Sphere of Influence Within Folklore and Social Practices
Richard Klin
Dial Israel: Amos Oz, 1939-2018
Graham Peebles
A Global Battle of Values and Ideals
David Rovics
Of Triggers and Bullets
Elliot Sperber
Eddie Spaghetti’s Alphabet
January 17, 2019
Stan Cox
That Green Growth at the Heart of the Green New Deal? It’s Malignant
David Schultz
Trump vs the Constitution: Why He Cannot Invoke the Emergencies Act to Build a Wall
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail