Yes and soon. Recall the lyrics of country Joe and the Fish from the 60’s?-
And it’s one, two, three,
What are we fighting for ?
Don’t ask me, I don’t give a damn,
Next stop is Vietnam;
Well, the next stop was Afghanistan which also rhymes with damn.
Why don’t we ever learn? – that’s another lyric from a war tune.
A guest on the Bill Moyer’s Journal last Friday evening was Andrew Bacevich. He is an army veteran who served 23 years. Today he’s a professor of history and international relations at Boston University. A week ago he was at a US Army War College symposium on the highly pertinent question, “How do we know when a war is over?” His book, “The Limits of Power,” was a best-seller and his latest, “Washington Rules: America’s Path to Permanent War,” comes out this summer.
That intro from the interview with Moyers in itself is a diamond mine ready to be plucked. Topics like a “permanent war” and “when do we know a war is over?” ought to consume the discussion on this blog for the rest of this month.
Here’s a paragraph from President Obama:
“ Our broad mission is clear. We are going to disrupt and dismantle, defeat and destroy al Qaeda and its extremist allies. That is our mission. And to accomplish that goal, our objectives here in Afghanistan are also clear. We’re going to deny al Qaeda safe haven. We’re going to reverse the Taliban’s momentum. We’re going to strengthen the capacity of Afghan security forces and the Afghan government so that they can begin taking responsibility and gain confidence of the Afghan people.”
Change a few proper nouns and this could have been said by Lyndon Johnson or Richard Nixon. And of course, George W. Bush and his phony war in Iraq.
The list of what is termed, ‘our friendly dictators’ grows longer with every new president. Diem in Vietnam, Batista in Cuba, Botha in South Africa, Suharo in Indonesia, Pinochet in Argentina, Marcos in the Philippines, Shah Pahlevi, Iran… And now Karzai, Afghanistan.
Stop the addiction!
Bacevich says, “We don’t learn from history. And there is this persistent, and I think almost inexplicable belief that the use of military force in some godforsaken country on the far side of the planet will not only yield some kind of purposeful result, but by extension, will produce significant benefits for the United States. I mean, one of the obvious things about the Afghanistan war that is so striking and yet so frequently overlooked is that we’re now in the ninth year of this war.
“It is the longest war in American history. And it is a war for which there is no end in sight. And to my mind, it is a war that is utterly devoid of strategic purpose. And the fact that that gets so little attention from our political leaders, from the press or from our fellow citizens, I think is simply appalling, especially when you consider the amount of money we’re spending over there and the lives that are being lost whether American or Afghan.”
What else is there to say?