The staunchest supporters of Obama’s military policies right now are Republicans, and they sure don’t want to come out in favor of this president at this moment. Meanwhile, three-fourths of Congressional Democrats oppose the war, and they’re trying just as adamantly to avoid coming out against him.
But what is going on in Afghanistan? Is it a “war?” Washington would like the American public to think of the bloody chaos over there as a war, because the term is nice and neat. It connotes a unified national enterprise, with a beginning and an end, and two discrete sides: good (Uncle Sam) and bad (whoever we’re fighting). America’s motivation is, by definition, supposedly always some noble goal. Spreading freedom, or something.
You really have to wonder whether the tired old saw about “preparing these people for democracy” is really the best Washington spin-meisters can come up with, six bitter years after that lie was spun about Iraq. And forty years after the fall of the puppet regime in South Vietnam, whose toadies scrambled to flee in that helicopter on the roof of the embassy in Saigon — remember that photograph? Talk about ignoble departures — when the native Vietnamese resistance had at last prevailed.
Just as the native resistance is prevailing now in Afghanistan. Indeed, throughout recorded history the native resistance has prevailed in Afghanistan.
So this issue is especially tricky for the “liberals”. (By this I guess I mean “Obama supporters.” You couldn’t really call this group leftists. Over the past decade the USA has moved so far to the right that the left is where the center used to be.) Way too many of these folks seem to be still cleaving to the clear-cut battle lines that were drawn last November, when you were either Blue-State or Red-State and that was that. Simple as pie. By this logic, if Obama was backing a war, you had to back it, too. (Just look what happened to MoveOn.org.) At least Obama has been consistent on this point. He’s always supported the occupation of Afghanistan. On the campaign trail he used it to try to woo hawks away from Bush.
What a difference a year makes. Surely only the most obtuse Obamamaniacs can believe any longer in their hero’s war program; though their moment of truth is being postponed by the sturm und drang of health care reform which has swept every other topic off the national stage.
For this we can thank the rabid right, who decided that the healthcare hot potato was their best bet to rally the ranks and elbow their way back to the top. This has left the Obamophiles with no option but to circle the wagons. With all their energy being pumped into defending their leader against attacks that grow more vicious and idiotic by the week, Obama’s fans are off the hook, for a little while longer, as regards his foreign policy.
But when this group snaps out of their reverie and starts searching their consciences, they’ll see, staring them in the face, another Viet Nam: a war many Obama supporters doubtless spent their youths earnestly opposing.
The Taliban was assembled by the CIA under Carter and armed under Reagan. The idea was to organize a band of ruthless native fighters to defeat the Russians, whose invasion of Afghanistan was itself partly due to the CIA’s efforts to seduce the Soviets into a protracted military quagmire that would keep them financially drained and geopolitically distracted. That part of the plan worked like a charm.
When the Obama folks wake up, they’ll find it doesn’t work to rationalize Afghanistan along party lines. If they respond at all, people are going to have to respond in a more informed way and from a deeper part of themselves. This is part of the plan, as transit trackers will have noticed. Saturn (responsibility) and Uranus (awakening) have shuffled the deck several times since they first opposed last November.
Then there are the sturdy American citizens whose fury is directed not at their government’s violence, but at its spending. It may be the money angle that rouses this crowd against the war. So far they have been confining their ire to the issue of health care funding, while apparently not giving a thought to the impact on the national debt of the tax-dollar-sucking black hole that is Afghanistan.
This strange conceptual disconnect in the collective mind serves an important role. It supports the financial architecture that unofficially underlies the whole American system: the military-industrial complex (a phrase coined not by some radical theorist but by old Dwight Eisenhower, who knew where the rubber meets the road). The fact that US forces have been fighting somewhere or other ever since any of us can remember is neither temporary nor random. Continuous war is an integral feature of the system.
The US signed weapons agreements valued at $37.8 billion in 2008. This is 68% of all business in the global arms market place, up significantly from the year before. And that’s just the sales end. Uncle Sam was also at the top of the list of buyers.
It would be hard to understand why this gargantuan slice of the American economy gets so little press… if we didn’t know what we know about Pluto. This is the planet that specializes in horrors too ugly to look at. But its opposition to the US Sun Cluster will make this big, nasty piece of the American pie increasingly difficult to conceal. As the entity that is the USA approaches its Pluto Return in the second house of money, the nation’s breakdown is being played out financially.