Managing the war in Afghanistan to keep it going

special from John Grant, 3/31/10:

The thing about the war in Afghanistan is that it has a momentum of its own. Like a fire, you can throw on more fuel or you can throw water on it. From here in Taxpayer Homeland where secrecy rules when it comes to wars like Afghanistan, the war just seems to keep on going no matter what. More and more this seems due to the fact all the brilliance of the Pentagon and its hottest counter-insurgency war designers is invested in one thing: How to monitor and adjust the particular tactics of warfare to fit the day-to-day changing realities of the war and the unpredictability of Puppet-President Hamid Karzai — all in order to keep the war growing and on-going.

The secret to this kind of counter-insurgency war — exhibited in the brilliance of General Stanley McChrystal — is the highly disciplined management of extreme violence in order to keep the projection of imperial political power on-going and seemingly relentless. The power of the United States should be seen like a cloud over your house; the Americans are very powerful and they are not going away.

And, since we operate in two very distinct modes, friendly and lethal, it’s entirely up to you whether that cloud is seen as positive and helpful or negative and threatening. For those determined to see us in the latter way — known as “irreconcilables” — their choice will be reinforced and we will, in fact, bring the wrath of Hell down upon them in the form of special operations hunter-killer teams or remotely controlled lethal drones. That, in a nutshell, is the war in Afghanistan.

As all honest analysts of counter-insurgency war will tell you, innocent civilians must die in this process. No one knows that better than General Stanley McChrystal. The other day on a video-conference call he frankly told his troops in the field, “We have shot an amazing number of people, but to my knowledge, none has ever proven to be a threat.” Despite his psychopathic coolness, dead innocents are actually very troubling to McChrystal, since he is very aware his mission is made much more difficult with each dead innocent civilian. This constantly challenges his tactical and public relations brilliance.

So despite significant opposition and serious questioning at home, the war goes on and the disciplined management of it gets more and more intricate and sophisticated. Following his health-reform win, a newly empowered Democratic President Obama in a George Bush-like leather bomber jacket flew to the Afghan war zone and fully endorsed the escalating war. Only a fool or someone with a non-partisan moral conscience would even think of questioning him on the matter.

Still, as the Times story below points out, the President was not in Afghanistan to say Hi to the troops; he was there in crisis-management mode to beg, cajole or threaten our recalcitrant Puppet-President Hamid Karzai. The management of the war may be slick, but all is clearly not going well in Afghanistan.

Afghan Leader Is Seen to Flout Influences of U.S.

By Dexter Filkins and Mark Landler
New York Times, March 30, 2010

KABUL, Afghanistan — This month, with President Hamid Karzai looking ahead to a visit to the White House, he received a terse note from aides to President Obama: Your invitation has been revoked.

The reason, according to American officials, was Mr. Karzai’s announcement that he was emasculating an independent panel that had discovered widespread fraud in Mr. Karzai’s re-election last year.

Incensed, Mr. Karzai extended an invitation of his own — to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Iranian president, who flew to Kabul and delivered a fiery anti-American speech inside Afghanistan’s presidential palace.

“Karzai was enraged,” said an Afghan with knowledge of the events, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the delicacy of the issue. “He invited Ahmadinejad to spite the Americans.”…

keep reading at New York Times

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