For those who say that comparing the current war in Afghanistan to the Vietnam War is taking things too far, here's a reality check: It's not taking things far enough. From the origins of these North-South conflicts to the role of insurgents and the pointlessness of this week's Afghan presidential elections, it's impossible to ignore the similarities between these wars. The places and faces may have changed but the enemy is old and familiar. The sooner the United States recognizes this, the sooner it can stop making the same mistakes in Afghanistan.
John Richard Pilger (born 9 October 1939) is an Australianjournalist and documentary maker. He has twice won Britain's Journalist of the Year Award, and his documentaries have received academy awards in Britain and the US. Based in London, he is known for his polemical campaigning style: “Secretive power loathes journalists who do their job, who push back screens, peer behind façades, lift rocks. Opprobrium from on high is their badge of honour.”
Below is a slam on “Brand Obama” as a continuation of Empire as Usual that is being heard around the world. It is rocketing through the YouTube circles, being Twittered, and could well be the first real articulation of the left waking up to the fact that Wall Street owns the White House. The Brzezinski/CIA backdrop is touched upon–we anticipate Bob Gates being “sacrificed” and John Hamry replacing him in January, all as part of Washington “theater for the masses.” John Hamry is of course Zbigniew Brzezinski's caretaker or ward, take your pick. “Junk Politics” and “Empire of Illusion” are touchstone phrases.
After spending a week traveling the frontline of the “war on terrorism” — from the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Ronald Reagan in the seas off Iran, to northern Iraq, to Afghanistan and into northwest Pakistan — I can comfortably report the following: The bad guys are losing.
Yes, the dominos you see falling in the Muslim world today are the extremist Islamist groups and governments. They have failed to persuade people by either their arguments or their performances in power that their puritanical versions of Islam are the answer. Having lost the argument, though, the radicals still hang on thanks to gun barrels and oil barrels — and they can for a while.
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To the extent that the radical Islamists have any energy today, it comes not from the power of their ideas or examples of good governance, but by stoking sectarian feuds. In Afghanistan, the Taliban play on Pashtun nationalist grievances, and in Iraq, the Sunni jihadists draw energy from killing Shiites.
The only way to really dry up their support, though, is for the Arab and Muslim modernists to actually implement better ideas by producing less corrupt and more consensual governance, with better schools, more economic opportunities and a vision of Islam that is perceived as authentic yet embracing of modernity. That is where “our” allies in Egypt, Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan have so consistently failed. Until that happens, the Islamist radicals will be bankrupt, but not out of business.
+++++++Phi Beta Iota Editorial Comment+++++++
Most readers will focus on the beginning of Friedman's story and completely miss the ending. What Friedman does not state that needs stating over and over again is that the U.S. taxpayer is being cheated by a foreign policy that substitutes technology for thinking, military sales for strategy, and convenient dictators for democracy. Until we have an Undersecretary of State for Democracy with one Assistant Secretary for those dictators that agree to a five-year exit strategy, another for those that do not; and a counterpart Undersecretary of Defense for Peace who can move beyond the lip service that Defense continues to give to Operations Other Than War (OOTW), Stabilization & Reconstructions (S&R), Humanitarian Assistance (HA), and the mother of all military strategies, Irregular Warfare properly defined as Waging Peace by All Means Possible, we will continue to betray the public interest at home as well as abroad.
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