The city of Detroit, Michigan is more dangerous than most areas of Afghanistan. Drug gangs control whole neighborhoods and there are reportedly areas of the city where the local police refuse to go. Last year there were 344 murders in Detroit and just in January 2012, there were 38 murders, a further dramatic increase. The cause is an unemployment rate of up to 25% and financial woes, which have led to a reduction in the size of the Detroit Police Department from almost 5,000 officers to about 2,000. Wealthy neighborhoods, such as Sherwood Forest and Boston-Edison, have hired private mercenary groups to patrol their neighborhoods. Vigilante killings are increasing as residents take the law into their own hands. Over a quarter million Detroit residents have fled the city over the past few years. Can any city in Afghanistan boast of greater violence?
The wealthy and privileged within the Obama Administration are as oblivious to the reality within America, as they are oblivious to the realities within foreign countries. This is one of the reasons why America’s foreign policy is in tatters. U.S. officials study maps and aerial photos of Afghanistan and Pakistan, when they should be studying maps of the U.S./Mexican border and gathering intelligence on drug cartels that operate across the United States. Senate and House committees brief each other on the exaggerated a-Qaeda threat, when the real war against American is being waged by the drug cartels, and that war is being ignored. There is a cancer spreading within the United States, but it is one currently limited to poor and minority neighborhood so the Government has been able to push it below the radar.
The U.S. military is needed in the United States more than it is needed in Afghanistan. During the past two weeks the Taliban have launched a series of high profile and very deadly attacks on NATO military bases and foreign interests, resulting in a stunning number of NATO and American casualties. The full number of the killed and wounded and the full extent of injuries suffered have not been revealed. The new NATO and Pentagon plan is to limit the release of negative news. The Taliban clearly has the initiative. It has the option of picking and choosing vulnerable locations to strike, and it is striking those locations with warheads of devastating size, We have seen this in the last two attacks on American bases. In response and in desperation, NATO has begun leaking reports that it plans to begin attacking Pakistan. If this were to occur, it would only broaden the war just as 30,000 U.S. troops begin to withdraw this Summer.
As there is seemingly no one at home at the State Department, a better approach would be to actually create a Pakistan policy for the first time. Step One, which this author has been advocating for years, is to put Kashmir on the front burner and insist that the United Nations plebiscite plan for independence be put to a vote within the contested region. That would be a positive step forward in U.S./Pakistani relations. This new initiative needs to be promoted by a new U.S. Ambassador. That ambassador cannot be a Senior Foreign Service drone with no authority. An aggressive, positive, outspoken diplomat needs to be chosen to headline the effort, even though that will conflict with the State Department’s policy that no one can generate any publicity except the Secretary of State.
In Afghanistan, the State Department’s civilian effort continues to flounder, which is directly harming the war effort. As no one in the Administration is willing to criticize Secretary Clinton, the only prudent U.S. option is to follow France in an accelerated withdrawal. This author opposes that and wants the Afghan Government to prevail against the Taliban, but there is no stomach in Washington, D.C. to correct any of the current problems at the State Department. The focus for 2012 is solely on the President’s re-election. Everything else is on hold and drifting.
A June 2012 Pew Global Attitudes Project poll reveals a dramatic decline in world public opinion about the United States. Pew reports that the drop is due to a loss in confidence in President Obama due to his missteps and failed policies in Afghanistan, Pakistan and elsewhere. What all of this means is that the billions being expended each week in these foreign adventures is not well spent. They are not achieving positive results and they are damaging America’s image, while boosting the image of China, which appears positive in comparison. America’s growing list of perceived negatives also boosts the stock of al-Qaeda and the Taliban. Their propaganda looks more and more credible to a growing world audience, which is a dangerous development.
In conclusion, U.S. troops are needed at home. The war is at home. The enemy has already breached the walls of Fortress America and they are digging in and expanding. The Obama bubble is increasingly difficult to pierce with facts and reality.