Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Obama On Afghanistan

Link to the transcript.

Last night the war in Afghanistan became president Obamas war. From this point onwards, whatever decisions that are made in terms of the trajectory of this invasion are solely his responsibility.  When Obama first took office there was much hope that his presidency would bring about an end to to the violence engaged in globally by the U.S.  From renditions to open torture, the Bush administration is guilty of many crimes. 

He began by reminding the populace of the events of 9/11, thereby justifying the start of the war.  To be clear, this was most definitely an act of terrorism, however; the peoples of Afghanistan did not wage war against the U.S. and by invading, Americans held them completely responsible for a man that was a visitor in their country.  There is such a thing as a measured response but this would not have sent the message of an untouchable America to the globe.  This war has never been about justice; it has been solely about vengeance.

The crimes against women to the abject poverty in Afghanistan have all been used to justify this action.   You cannot bring peace at the end of a rifle.  The women of Afghanistan have spoken forcefully regarding this issue and yet their calls have clearly not been heard.

“Stop this war because our people is very tired with this situation.  And if they really want to help our people we don’t need more soldiers.” 

“I don’t believe and I don’t expect any outside power to come and liberate me.  If I cannot liberate myself, no one from outside can liberate me. “

In a complete contradiction of their wishes, Obama is planning to send more troops.  Through the florid rhetoric of last evenings speech came the clear and undeniable message that the purpose is to nation build.  How can the U.S which is marred by so many internal issues possibly hope to create a cohesive state from a  country that is wracked with tribalism and superstition?  Whether or not Afghanistan decides to follow the model of democracy set out by the western world is an issue for its people.

In this fools mission, the Obama administration is specifically ignoring all of the lessons of history; Afghanistan is not like Europe or even North America.  It has a long history of repelling invaders and despite its message of hope and freedom, the U.S. will be interpreted in just such a fashion.  They do not respect Karzai because to them he represents little more than the mayor of Kabul; at best he is a U.S puppet beholden to his benefactors.

Withdrawing troops from Iraq only to redouble efforts in Afghanistan will not make the U.S. any safer, unless it plans to stay for decades as an occupying force.  Change has to be inspired from within.  It must be a true drive by the people and not at the behest of some foreign country seeking geo-political objectives. 

Couched in patriotism comes the message that the U.S. has the moral authority to make decisions for another nation.  If the U.S were a perfect democracy, Bush never would have been president.  While it stands in judgement of the election process of other nations, a criminal was allowed to sit in the white house without being impeached for his actions. 

Afghanistan is supposedly the moral war and yet its pursuit while American children go without healthcare, proper education, and housing is criminal. It is these same children who will be saddled with the debt that will be created to fight this war.  America may see itself as a beacon of light and hope, yet its behaviour is far more reminiscent of a crumbling empire desperate to remain relevant.  One nation cannot police the globe no matter its intent.