Saturday, 4 April 2009

Afghanistan Becoming Obama's War

Obama has landed in Europe for the first time and as expected, the leaders are falling over themselves to be photographed with him and he must of thought so far so good. Listening to him speak off the cuff answering questions and not speaking from a prepared script has been enlightening, he tends to waffle and erm and err quite a lot which i wasn't expecting but that could be nerves, he did face some awkward questions. Particular favourite was the question from Nick Robinson of the BBC who told him that Gordon Brown placed the cause of the recession firmly on America's shoulders and asked him if he agreed. He wasn't expecting that and flapped around uncomfortably for a few minutes looking for a political answer which was that 'now was a time to look forward for a solution and not backwards at apportioning blame.'
Apart from that Obama was well received by the Europeans and even the Presidential style speech in Strasbourg began well. He received applause for his plans to eliminate nuclear weapons, close the Guantanamo Bay prison and tackle global warming. Where it all went quiet was when he mentioned Afghanistan and how it was not Americas fight alone and Europe should do more. The crowd of young Germans and French stayed silent as Obama went on to explain that winning the battle in Afghanistan was important for all our securities. The stony silence should send out a very important message to Obama, to us, Afghanistan IS very much America's war and a war that was a central plank in George Bush's disasterous War on Terror.
That Obama, who's rise to power was firmly on the back of his opposition to the Iraq War, is keen to continue the Bush foreign policy in Afghanistan and is happy to expand it with extra troops and raids into the Pakistan border areas, risks poisoning his presidency before it gets into its stride.
Afghanistan was, and remains, aggression against a foreign state intended to punish it for refusing to hand over the man behind the Twin Towers attack. It may have been turned into a humanitarian crusade afterwards but at the time America wanted to lash out at someone and the Taliban, who they were on friendly terms with previously, were it.
Eight years on and Bin Laden has managed to evade the full might of America and the few NATO allies on-board, the Taliban are resurgent and Pakistan has been dragged into the mix. As for the humanitarian angle, the weak Afghan Government are considering bringing in a law that rules women cannot leave their house without their husbands permission, can only seek education or visit the doctor if their husband allows it and wives are forbidden from refusing their husbands sex.
President Obama should take note from recent history and a stark example of how his Presidency risks being poisoned by his decision making in Afghanistan by another disastrous American foreign policy, Vietnam.
He may get support from his fellow leaders and a few extra troops from those wanting to pal up to the new President but the crowds silence said everything about how Obama continuing and escalating Americas war in Afghanistan is thought of outside of political circles and his actions threatens Afghanistan becoming Obama's War.


Annie said...

I am appreciating a great deal about Obama these days, but his plan for continued involvement Afghanistan is most disappointing.

Chris said...

Like Annie said below me, i also appreciate most of what Obama is trying to do. His plan to reduce nukes, tackle environmental issues and talk to Iran rather than bomb the shit out of places like Bush did is to be applauded. The two things that stop me from cheering for him from the rafters is the continued support for Israel in Gaza and the continued war in Afghanistan and now Pakistan. You say that he came to power on the back of his critcisms of the Iraq War and he did which makes his willingness to drop bombs on Pakistan even more unbelievable.
It is the fly in the Obama ointment and is what takes the shine off him for me and many.
It is America's war and the few countries like ours that went along poodle fashion to stay in favour with America.

Don said...

Funny, his support for Israel is one of the few things I like about the guy. Also his halt on raiding medicinal marijuana clubs. Probably some other things.

Afghanistan is an odd thing. We didn't go in to punish anyone. We went in because failed states of that sort serve as staging grounds for coordinated attacks such as 9-11. It needed bringing to heel, like a dog that bites children.

Meanwhile, Bin Laden remains at large and I'm not sure if it's because he really could evade us in his Pakistani strongholds or if the Americans decided he served us better as a weak man holed up in a cave than as a prisoner or martyr. The latter would not surprise me.

What makes Afghanistan an odd thing is that it should, as you say, be let alone. By now things have changed, and to try and build a nation there is an impossibility. We might as well just back off and leave it be, medieval Islam and all. It really cannot stage further attacks better than anywhere else, not now.

So I would like Mr. Obama to use his vaunted eloquence and tell me just why we should still be concerned about Afghanistan. If he cannot, then I must conclude another thing that does not at all surprise me: He came in on the steed of hope and change, but was really just another Presidential aspirant cleverly groomed and prepared to do the same job as all the others.

Annie said...

Still, his well-formed sentences are definitely a plus. such a relief, not listening to that last dumb ass!

I will reserve judgment for now, since it's been just sixty days. An incredible double standard is at work here, but I think Obama can take it. And more.

Don said...

I think so too, actually. And he certainly has better information than I ever will. This thing about Turkey and the EU, for ex. Bad impression but there are probably factors he is qualified to weigh differently.

Lucy said...

It seems Don that as he came in screaming change and against the Iraq War, he seems to be closely following the Bush doctrine regarding Israel and Afghanistan.
His plans to reduce nukes, clean the environment and sit down with Iran & Syria are worthy and good causes but i don't much care for his other two decisions.
Maybe he is doing wonderous things in America that we don't get to hear about over here but although he never started the war in Afghanistan, it will slowly poison his achievements if the death toll continues to grow.

Don said...

If he is, Lucy, I'm unaware. But I was always of the opinion that Mr. Obama was merely another politician, albeit one with a talent for motivating starry-eyed masses. To be fair, the American ship of state is a huge cumbersome thing and it cannot be turned on a dime or even a fairly broad channel.

Cheezy said...

This will undoubtedly be far too cynical for many, but reading this post made me think of yet another brilliant Bill Hicks routine (from a few months after Bill Clinton first became President)...

"I have this feeling that whoever is elected president, like Clinton was, no matter what you promise on the campaign trail - blah, blah, blah - when you win, you go into this smoke-filled room with the twelve industrialist capitalist scum-fucks who got you in there. And you're in this smoky room, and this little film screen comes down ... and a big guy with a cigar goes, "Roll the film." And it's a shot of the Kennedy assassination from an angle you've never seen before ... that looks suspiciously like it's from the grassy knoll. And then the screen goes up and the lights come up, and they say to the new president -"Any questions?"
"Er, just what my agenda is."
"First we bomb Baghdad."
"You got it!"

Anyway Lucy, as a member of the 'We Broke It, So We'll Have to Fix It' team, surely you'd approve of Obama's actions in Iraq and Afghanistan so far?

Annie said...

Thanks for the Bill Hicks quote!

Lucy said...

I am very much part of the 'We broke, we have to fix it' brigade. With Iraq, what i understand, is that Obama is drawing down the troop levels slowly but it is fluid and connected to the security of the country. Can't argue with that.
With Afghanistan he seems to be ramping it up and spreading it into Pakistan, therefore breaking it even more. Plenty to argue about with that plan.