Failed Empire

Chronicling the collapse of a failed society

Obama’s Non-Promise to End the War is a Promise to Prolong the Status Quo

I know I’m a couple of days late in commenting on this tasty morsel of a news item, but it certainly needs to be addressed:

“At a landmark NATO summit in Lisbon on Saturday, Western allies agreed to call an end to their troops’ combat mission in Afghanistan by 2014.

The 48 countries of the NATO-led force in Afghanistan struck a deal with Karzai to begin transferring parts of the battlefield to his control in early 2011 and move Western troops to a support role by 2014.

While all the allies agreed to set the target date to end their offensive operations in Afghanistan, the United States warned that hard fighting remained ahead and did not rule out combat continuing after 2014.”

Our supposed ultra-left president, after sending an additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan earlier this year, is now promising to continue this unwinnable war for at least another four years.  And given the ruthless stranglehold that the corporate media has on our national dialogue, this promise of four more years of needless bloodshed is actually presented in a positive light.  “Obama the leftist is ending the war!” is the obviously intended message.  One wonders if the pledged withdrawal of combat troops will resemble the “end” of the Iraq War we observed earlier this year:

“‘I would describe it much like what we just went through in Iraq, where clearly they have the lead for their own security,” Mullen told ABC News.'”

Well that’s reassuring, isn’t it?  When Obama boasts about the cessation of combat operations in Afghanistan in 2014, what he is actually referring to is a symbolic gesture, similar to the Iraq War which supposedly ended months ago yet continues to rage on unabated.  But at least we have verbal confirmation that the U.S. will begin to withdraw troops by 2014, right?

“Pressed on Fox News Sunday on whether US combat troops would remain in Afghanistan beyond 2014, Clinton suggested they could be, but that fighting the Taliban directly would not be their main mission.

‘If you are going to continue in a supportive role, whether it’s American troops or one of our other contributing nations, you’re not there for the primary duty of security or combat, you’re there to support the Afghans,’ she said.

Does that mean you’re going to defend yourself? Does that mean you’ll come to the aid of one of your Afghan colleagues in trouble? Of course. But that is not the primary goal. The goal is to transition the security to an Afghan lead.'”

So in reality, this announcement and all of the hype that surrounds it signify nothing.  We might symbolically re-label the role of our troops in Afghanistan in 2014, but then again, we might not.  We might withdraw a significant percentage of our troops, but it depends on external factors that are beyond our ability to predict or control.  And yet in today’s corporate-media induced ADHD society, this utterly meaningless proclamation will help shift the cultural narrative enough that most Americans will simply buy the lie, as they seem to have done with Iraq.

It is highly telling that, as Bill Maher and others have pointed out, the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars were never mentioned during the 2010 campaign.  It is quite possibly the only time in our nation’s history that a current war – let alone two wars – has been wholly ignored during a political campaign.  And it’s interesting to note that this bold pseudo-promise to maybe end one of the wars four years down the road was not proffered until well after election day – and, in this case, the Republican massacre of Democrats nationwide.

Some will argue that the current deplorable state of the economy trumped all other concerns in the most recent election cycle – including our two deadly wars.  But such an assertion is missing the point altogether, and unknowingly buys into the conservative narrative of the corporate media.  The wars and the economy are intimately and irrevocably linked.  Our current misadventures in Iraq and Afghanistan, in addition to the dreadful human toll of 5,800+ US soldiers, are costing us hundreds of billions of dollars.  And that’s a relatively conservative estimate, since it fails to take into consideration the hundreds of billions of dollars that are already funneled to the Pentagon each year, under the Orwellian guise of “defense spending.”

So let’s take an ultra-conservative estimate of $1 trillion.  Just so we really understand how much money we’re actually talking about, here it is again:  $1,000,000,000,000.  Now just imagine what could be done with that money if it were spent wisely, constructively, rather than being wasted on an endless string of purposeless wars.  This money could be used to introduce genuine universal health care, reform our broken education system, fund scientific research of all kinds and fuel the much-needed green revolution.  And this unthinkable trust fund for the betterment of society would be refilled nearly every single year, because that is literally how much this nation throws away each year on wars and “defense spending.”

What effect would this wholesale restructuring of health care, education, science and technology have on the economy?  How would a healthy, well-educated and technologically-aided workforce fare in today’s intractably globalized world?  The question answers itself.  The tragedy is that most people fail to ask it.

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