Last week, the U.S. Ambassador in Kabul, Ryan Crocker, issued an unusual press statement. He said, “Rumors that the United States has a plan to divide Afghanistan or to change its form of government are, frankly speaking, lies.” This comment was carefully crafted and only addressed whether the Obama Administration had a “formal plan” for these actions. The rumors are that U.S. officials are actively discussing these issues with the Taliban, the Haqqani network and others, a fact which Ambassador Crocker did not deny. The position of the U.S. Embassy is that its negotiations with the Taliban are protected under the American secrecy laws and cannot be divulged. This is absurd because the purpose of the secrecy laws is to conceal important national security information from America’s adversaries. In this instance the U.S. Government is briefing America’s enemies and concealing the truth from the American public.
Also last week, at a conference in Seoul, President Barack Obama told Russian President Dmetri Medvedev that after the November 6, 2012 election, he would have “more flexibility” to make a deal with Russia on missile defense. This is the same deal that President Obama reportedly made in early March with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (i.e., we will support an Israeli attack on Iran but only after the U.S. elections in November). President Obama’s secret disclosures that he will only act when he is no longer facing the voters and when all accountability has been removed, is disturbingly calculating. Unsaid is the fact at the end of this year President Obama will likewise be in a position to make an unsavory deal with the Taliban, one which he would not be able to explain or sell to the American people at election time.
November 6, 2012, is not simply election day in the United States, it may well be the jumping off point for regional and even global instability and conflict. It is the date when a lack of accountability may embolden betrayal and conflict. The American and Afghan people deserve to know what the Obama Administration is currently offering the Taliban behind closed doors?
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton continues to claim that the American negotiating position is that the Taliban must surrender. They must agree to put down their arms, endorse the Afghan constitution, renounce violence and condemn al-Qaeda. These “conditions” are of course nonsense. By all credible accounts the Taliban is winning the war, therefore it is in no mood to surrender. In private discussions, the U.S. is unlikely to be insisting on any of the phony positions that Secretary Clinton has tried to sell to the American public.
Informed reports suggest that the Obama Administration may be proposing that President Karzai will appoint sympathetic pro-Taliban Provincial Governors in all eastern and southern provinces where the Taliban and their allies have influence. This would maintain the fig leaf that the Afghan Constitution is being followed. The Taliban would then merge their forces in with the regional police and military, permitting the Taliban to slowly take over those provinces. This interim period of peace and transformation would allow the U.S. to exit with the appearance of victory. The idea is to allow the Obama Administration to claim that it withdrew from a peaceful Afghanistan. It would be a temporary “Potempkin Village” situation in which everything appears fine and happy for a short period. When the violence and fighting begin anew, President Obama and Secretary Clinton could then blame the Taliban for violating the peace agreement that they “so carefully worked out.” They would both of course express shock and surprise at such a development. This is how people and whole countries are sold out. At least British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain acted transparently in 1938. He publicly gave away much of what is now the Czech republic and gave his reasons for doing so. Due to the harsh place in history that Prime Minister Chamberlain occupies, all betrayals of this type have since been concluded in secret.
The philosophy used by those who want to rationalize their betrayal is called pragmatism and it stands for nothing. To pragmatics, there is no right or wrong, all that matters is obtaining temporary benefits that provide short-term political headlines. Afghan women, children flying kites, Afghan minorities and democracy are simply collateral damage that can properly be sacrificed for the larger good (which is short-term political gain in the U.S.). As with the tactics of all repressive regimes, all betrayals tend to be packaged in bright deceptive colors and are accompanied by patriotic slogans, with inconvenient facts ignored. For the Afghan war, anticipate slogans such as: “We are bringing the boys home” “We have achieved victory with honor” “Afghanistan is at peace for the first time in 50 years” “We did what we said we would do” and “Americans can hold their heads high.”
The Obama Administration will be helped by a subservient liberal news media which will focus on the Iraq and Afghan wars being “over” (or at least U.S. involvement being over) and they will praise President Obama (facts notwithstanding). If Afghanistan later collapses, the Republicans will blame President Obama and the Democrats will blame President George W. Bush. Neither party will be willing to address the real reasons for the American defeat, therefore there will be no accountability and no lessons learned. The systemic problems that led to the Afghan defeat will remain uncorrected. When failure is unrecognized and its causes undiagnosed, the failures tend to repeat.
The next American target will likely be Iran, but with no lessons learned from the debacles in Iraq and Afghanistan, a new failure looms on the horizon. The difference with Iran is that the Obama Administration is facing a situation that the United States has not witnessed since the Japanese defeated U.S. forces in early 1942 in the Philippines. American could lose to Iran. The American people are once again not being provided with an accurate and honest assessment of the risks and dangers. There are rumors circulating that Iran has been provided with sophisticated Chinese hunter-mines, which will actually trail and attack U.S. warships. There are rumors that Iran has been provided by Russia with some enhanced electronic countermeasure systems that can block U.S. communications and navigation equipment. The full extent of Russian and Chinese military support to Iran continues to be withheld from the American people by the Obama Administration.
Iran has cruise missiles and drones, but the Pentagon will not comment on their quality and the danger they pose. Iran has a nascent space program and may have the ability to strike U.S. satellites. Iran is believed to have perhaps a half-dozen tactical nuclear warheads purchased from former Soviet block countries. It is also believed that Iranian scientists have equipped their ballistic missile fleet with countermeasures to foil U.S. and Israeli ABM systems.
Several years ago in a classified CENTCOM war game U.S. military officials, assigned to play as Iranians, defeated U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf. The reality is that Iranian forces are far stronger today than in that war game. The American public is not prepared for defeat on the battlefield, nor is the U.S. economy prepared to pay $10 for a gallon of gasoline, both clearly foreseeable situations if the U.S. or Israel attacks Iran.
America withdrew from Iraq late last year exhausted, with the final troops slipping across the border in darkness into Kuwait. The U.S. found no weapons of mass destruction, Israel is no safer, al-Qaeda is reportedly surging, and a pro-Iranian regime remains in power. That did not have the feel of victory.
America cannot withdraw from Afghanistan and move onto its next war until it has competently and honorably concluded its Afghan war. While the U.S., in its press releases, continues to defeat the Taliban, the reality outside of the Pentagon and State Department press rooms is starkly different.
American news anchors such as Rachel Maddow, Chris Matthews and Wolf Blitzer talk in hazy generalities about U.S. wars, always avoiding the key, central problems which are (1) the unwillingness of Pentagon and State Department officials to ever tell the whole truth about how the war effort is progressing or not, and (2) the complete collapse of any accountability in Washington, D.C. for mediocre strategies, tactics and programs.
In summary, American servicemen and women die in wartime, many times they die for nothing, their families are not told the whole truth, mediocre performance by senior officials is covered up, the public treasury is always drained, U.S. companies get rich, those responsible get rewarded; no one cares and the cycle then repeats.