AFPAK: The Darkness At The End Of The Tunnel


BY WILLIAM C. HENRY At best, two of our highest-level politicians are loonies. However, it’s the “at worst” (I’ll leave it up to the reader’s imagination) characterization I fear is by far the more befitting. In any event, if you see either of them or know of their whereabouts, DO attempt to contact! Here’s the inescapable reality, Mr. President and Mr. #1 Wannabe: With each passing day it’s becoming more and more evident that the American people are finally fed up — they want us out of there NOW, not next year or the year after — with the incessant lies, obfuscations and excuses that have defined the war in Afghanistan since its inception. If we haven’t reached the point already, I’m betting that within a matter of months the number of unconscionably needless casualties from this criminally duplicitous experiment in nation building will have reached a “degrees of separation” threshold such that every American will be able to closely tie him or herself to a death, severe maiming, or serious mental affliction consequent of that godforsaken abomination, the pivotal political consequences of which I fervently pray will not be lost on any candidate considering its prolongation.

Well, gentlemen, those political stakes may have just been ratcheted up exponentially. Why? Because, 1) An American citizen (I simply can’t bring myself to call this the act of an American “soldier”) recently brutally murdered 9 innocent Afghan children, 3 innocent Afghan women, and 4 innocent Afghan men in a shooting rampage this week; and, 2) after secretly flying to Afghanistan in an attempt to quell the outrage over this despicable act, our inimitable Secretary of Defense somehow summoned the callous indifference to issue forth the following: “We will not allow individual incidents to undermine our resolve to that mission. We will be tested, we will be challenged, we’ll be challenged by our enemy, we’ll be challenged by ourselves, we’ll be challenged by the hell of war itself. But none of that, none of that, must ever deter us from the mission that we must achieve.”

Given that Secretary Panetta could not have uttered those words without the express consent of his boss, here are my questions to Messrs. Obama and Romney: What is our real endgame in this slaughterhouse you tell us is so “vital” to America’s interests? Has Afghanistan become the test case for a “new” American neocolonialism in which our investments of both money and blood have become “to big to fail”? Is it simply to establish yet more permanent American military bases on foreign soil which in this obscene case will serve as the launching pad(s) for strikes against next door neighbor Iran? I mean, that is our next planned foray, is it not? Are we staying there in order to lay claim to its perhaps trillions of dollars worth of untapped mineral resources? Is it to ensure that under no circumstances will the Taliban be allowed to do so (and please don’t think for one minute that we’d be so gullible as to accept al-Qaeda as being part of some kind of threat mix)?  Or, are we remaining there simply to avoid the perceived “embarrassment” and distrust you fear would attach to America internationally in the event of a hasty withdrawal (after all, we’re only into our eleventh year of this despicable charade)? I suspect the true answer lies somewhere in the vicinity of “all of the above,” a justification you seem to feel, albeit speciously, warrants continuing to place the blatantly unethical and immoral actions of a professed “savior” nation above the bourgeois life and limb concerns of a million or so of America’s finest and bravest young men and women.

According to the President there is NOTHING that will deter us from this carnage. Absolutely NOTHING. No number of needless American and Afghan deaths or dismemberments. Not the disgusting but requisite deals with rancid regimes. Not the bankrupting of the nation. Not even the loss of all sense of our national morality. Apparently no manner of reason or unrighteousness will deter us from this appallingly ill-appointed round. What’s taken us to this seeming point of no return? Certainly not patriotism. What nature of leadership is it that’s willing to risk the senseless destruction of their own country over unresolvable and irreconcilable differences within or between others, the effects of which are at best debatable with regard to the long-term welfare of their own? Call it just plain hubris and/or I’ll-do-or-continue-doing-anything-whatsoever-for-the-sake-of-gaining-or-maintaining-political-advantage-or-to-avoid-being-blamed-for-any-measure-of-international-embarrassment-which-might-result-therefrom, but please don’t call it patriotism. There is not, nor has there ever been, anything in, on or about this godforsaken piece of rock and sand that could ever in ANY way justify the astronomical financial and human costs this once great nation’s immediate past and current immoral leadership have expended on it — and I defy ANY foreign policy wonk worth his or her salt to debate me otherwise.

Bottom line? Both of you need to pull your hubristic heads out of the sand and get them into a copy of Halberstam’s “The Best and the Brightest”. No, I’m not being facetious. Read it. Sure, you’ll never admit to having learned anything, but at least America can know that it tried. A near-term withdrawal from this immoral crusade is INEVITABLE! The only ones who really want us to stay are the feckless Karzai and his obscenely corrupt family/high-level bureaucrat cabal who have been gorging on our treasure since the day we arrived. Unfortunately, as is always the case in these righteous-minded liberation excursions of ours, the all-too-suffering Afghan civilian population hasn’t fared nearly as well. And as for the civil-warring Taliban (yes, they’re actually Afghans too), well, it’s no wonder the current crop of ruling thieves fear them so. You see, those fellows really don’t like corruption very much and are chomping at the bit to get their hemp around the necks of those who do. Anyway, now that all’s been said and done (well, obviously not “all”), I think it entirely apt to point out that, although rare, there are noteworthy examples of simplistic solutions to complex problems. For instance, an extremely viable simplistic solution to this complex fiscal and humanitarian nightmare is summed up perfectly in Denis Healey’s famous quip, “Healey’s First Law Of Holes: When in one, stop digging.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Fed up early stage septuagenarian who has actually been most of there and done most of that. Born and raised in the picturesque Pocono Mountains. Quite well educated. Very lucky to have been born into a well-schooled and somewhat prosperous family. Long divorced. One beautiful, brilliant daughter. Two far above average grandsons. Semi-retired (how does anyone manage to do it completely these days?) and fully-tired of bullshit. Uncle of the Editor-In-Chief.

1915 = The number of Americans killed in action in Afghanistan.

100,000 plus = The number of Americans seriously wounded in Afghanistan including those requiring extensive long-term treatment for severe mental trauma.

0 = The number of financial industry kingpins indicted for having committed the most massive FRAUD in American history and wrecking the global economy, plunging untold millions into lives of misery and deprivation.

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