For the sins of its rulers Egypt was chastised with ten different plagues, but the United States is afflicted with just the one: an ongoing plague of Crooks and Fools. The Crooks run the country for their own benefit and that of their paymasters, both domestic and foreign (in simpler times this latter used to be called treason, but everyone is so sophisticated now). To help them in their work the Crooks need Fools, and there is no shortage of these, both high and low, big and small.
The Crooks of Wall Street recently robbed the country blind with the help of the Fool they had installed, the Delphic oracle Greenspan (he is probably stupid enough to still believe he is a financial wizard). The Crooks who own the mass media, and the hacks who serve them, have reduced the general population into a collective of mindless Fools, so that they don’t have a clue what is being done to them or their country. But the biggest Crooks are the ones in Washington. To succeed fully in their schemes they need a Fool in the White House. An old Russian proverb tells of the Summer Fool and the Winter Fool; Bush was obviously a Summer one, but it is looking increasingly likely that Obama is going to turn out to be a Winter Fool.
One of the aims of the Crooks is to keep the US embroiled in perpetual war. This enables the wealth of the country to be drained into the pockets of the military-industrial complex (and its hangers-on and allies), and also allows suitable enemies to be set up and demolished by the US for the benefit of others. After spending about a trillion dollars on the war in Iraq, and having thousands of its young men and women killed and maimed, what has the US gained there? The outcome is a Shia-ruled country that is the natural ally of Iran, and which shows no particular inclination to favour US political, military or commercial interests. With that war winding down, the Crooks are all set to ensure that the one in Afghanistan heats up and continues for a long, long time.
To make himself look tough Obama let himself be talked into taking ownership of the Afghan war. Now the bills are coming in, and he seems to be feeling buyer’s remorse. To overcome it the Crooks have unleashed a barrage of strategic leaks, specious argument, political posturing, media hype, and fraudulent punditry. To top it all they have now deployed the fanatical Fool they had installed for this very purpose – Stanley McChrystal, who appears set to throw a major tantrum if the strategy he has been sold isn’t accepted (along with his demand for a large increase in troops). The poor fellow probably believes what they have been telling him: that he is a towering military genius, and only he can save the United States; he doesn’t realise that he has been set up to take the fall should the Crooks’ scheme go bust.
In all this noise and confusion the simple questions are being drowned out, the basic realities ignored. The aim of the war is stated to be the defeat of al-Qaeda. But which al-Qaeda? The one that did 9/11 is no more; all that is left of it is just a couple of old men hiding in caves in inaccessible mountains, occasionally issuing an exhortatory tape to show that they are still alive. However, the motivation that led to the (US-supported) jihad against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, to the creation of al-Qaeda, and to 9/11 (to remove Western power and influence from the Muslim world) is still alive, and is espoused by many groups all over the Muslim world, some of whom also call themselves al-Qaeda.
The justification given for fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan is that, if they are allowed to conquer the country, they will allow al-Qaeda to establish bases in it. What is the basis for this argument? That they did it in the past? On the contrary, what happened to them as a consequence of that should be a powerful reason for them not to do it again. Especially if this were made a condition for allowing them to have a share in power under a political settlement. Many other parties, in addition to the US, could monitor and enforce such a condition. This justification is a total crock! That it is being accepted without any question, much less discussion, is evidence of how easily the Crooks seem able to deal with the Fools participating in this debate.
Suppose McChrystal’s counter-insurgency strategy is adopted and he is given the 40,000 additional troops (plus the tens of thousands more that, down the track, he will say he must have in order to reach the “light at the end of the tunnel”!). Suppose he succeeds in “clearing, holding and building” large areas of Afghanistan. At some point the US has to hand over to the Afghans, since it cannot stay indefinitely. There is no Afghan army capable of taking over and holding these areas, and none likely in the foreseeable future. Even if there were, the governance of these areas will be taken over by the same corrupt officials who are now embezzling aid money and patronizing the drug trade. How long will it be before the oppressed, looted peoples of these areas again welcome back the Taliban, as they did in 1994?
In 1979, when the wars began, Afghanistan was quite likely the most primitive and backward country in Asia. For 30 years now it has been in a state of almost continuous warfare. It is a ruined country. Even in its best days it was never more than a loose grouping of autonomous tribes and warlords, who gave merely nominal allegiance to the ruler in Kabul. The US attempt to make it now, despite its past history, into a democratic, centralized, modern state with a national army is the stuff of pure farce. Yet, this is being advanced by the Crooks, and swallowed by the Fools, as the basis for committing the United States to an open-ended war in Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, what will all those other al-Qaedas and Islamists all over the world be doing? Ah, the Crooks murmur into their sleeves, those will be the wars of the future!