POSTED RESPONSE TO COLUMN IN THE NEW YORK TIMES
I believe Obama is dithering, although their may be some truth to the idea of putting pressure on the Mayor of Kabul.
There is a basic conflict at work here: Obama's decency and humanity versus an American establishment which never hesitates to kill people over pride.
Obama has the weight of the entire military-industrial complex on his back - the half trillion dollar a year industry of professional war-making in the Pentagon, the vast parade of defense contractors who've made countless billions from the war - plus the pressure of the Israel Lobby, always in favor of war against Muslims with talk about being soft on terror.
This mission is pointless. You cannot remake the institutions and customs of a nation of about 30 million in a few years.
Imagine invading seventeenth century Spain and telling people that the Holy Inquisition must end, nuns must give up the habit, Moors and Jews must be admitted as full members of society, and women must have equal rights?
Yet that is a close parallel to what the U.S. at least claims it is doing in Afghanistan.
Americans have failed in Iraq and they failed in Afghanistan, just as they failed in Vietnam and Somalia and a number of other places.
You can't bomb people into democracy or into modernity, but you sure can kill lots of innocent people.
America's only clear-cut victory goes back to WWII and that required sinking to complete barbarism, using the atomic bomb on civilians.
The basic problem is that ideologue Americans seek the wrong victories.
They are always fighting imagined devils, whether communists or Muslims, instead of dealing in practical terms with the world. And the truth is they don't really want to fight if it means they suffer real losses. So they bomb. This is a formula for guaranteed failure.
Dropping dollar bills instead of bombs would have been a more sensible policy.
Now America's Captain Ahabs risk repeating their insane experience of the killing fields of Cambodia, a neutral country that was secretly bombed and invaded for the same lunatic reasons that Pakistan is now being bombed and driven to kill its own people. With the toppling of a neutral government, Cambodia dropped into the hands of true madmen, and America shares full responsibility for what happened.
But the lessons are never learned by America's jingo set.
There's always a new dawn for these ideologues when enough bombing and brutality will get the desired results, even if the poor country on the receiving end is reduced to rubble.
The great irony is, of course, the Taleban never had to America's enemies. They were not international terrorists, and they attacked no one outside their land. They offered to extradite bin Laden and others if the U.S. just provided some evidence for its claims over 9/11, the normal procedure for extraditions everywhere.
But the U.S. just angrily refused, and it prepared to attack.
The assault on Afghanistan was about absolutely nothing but vengeance. The participation of the UN and NATO was just a diplomatic nicety arranged through the cajoling and threats behind the scenes.
What NATO countries really think of Afghanistan is clear from their response to repeated calls from the U.S. for more forces. The psychology of immediately post-9/11 had been right for governments not to refuse, something they did do a little later with the vast war crime of invading Iraq.
They simply do not regard Afghanistan as a serious threat, and it is not.
But the U.S. is stuck there after getting vengeance - at least 50,000 died just in Kabul from America's invasion - with no idea of what to do next, and no idea of how to make a graceful exit, and the American establishment's idea of a graceful exit is what was done to Japan.
Some interesting statistics on Afghanistan were released the other day.
From one Afghanistan's own ministries, it was announced that 12 million people, including 3 million children, out of a total population of 30 million, live in serious poverty. so much so that many of the children are malnourished.
My, what an achievement, America, after 8 years of invasion and occupation and tens and tens of billions spent on killing and destruction.