Obama's Afghanistan War: Morally Wrong, or Incompetently Waged?
The problem with Obama's Afghanistan war is that it is morally wrong and meant to discipline the American people, not that it is being waged incompetently.*
Writers who investigate the war to expose facts that supposedly demonstrate the incompetence of our generals and president actually reveal facts that tell a very different story. One such writer is Jeff Huber who recently wrote "Obama's Bananastan" on antiwar.com. Huber shows that our military leaders and president have no clear objective or war strategy or exit strategy in Afghanistan, but he implies that the problem is stupidity and incompetence.
Huber's opening paragraph is:
"Sun Tzu maintained that proper planning secures victory before the battle begins. Carl von Clausewitz insisted that war must focus on the political aim. How is it, then, that we are about to put more troops into a war we know is unwinnable and in which we have no coherent objective for them to pursue?"Huber assumes that our leaders have some reason to be worried about the fact that the war is unwinnable and lacks a coherent objective. What Huber doesn't grasp is that American leaders' primary purpose for waging a war is not to "win" it or to achieve some objective on the other side of the world, but rather simply to be at war. George Orwell was right on the mark when, in his novel 1984, he wrote about war saying:
"In our own day they are not fighting against one another at all. The war is waged by each ruling group against its own subjects, and the object of the war is not to make or prevent conquests of territory, but to keep the structure of society intact."For our rulers, the point of a war is to make us Americans feel the way only a war can--determined to prevail over a dangerous foreign enemy by supporting our leaders when we would otherwise oppose them over domestic issues.
Wars are waged for domestic social control and to justify enormous arms expenditures and contracts. Our leaders need wars to drag on so the enemy can be deemed sufficiently dangerous and implacable and thus the war made to seem important or necessary. If a war has an easy "coherent objective" with a clear "exit strategy" then it is minimally useful. Conquering Grenada was quick and easy and a useful public relations antidote to the loss of 241 marines in Lebanon. But a string of Grenadas would be material for late night comedians rather than high drama.
Huber repeatedly identifies examples of what he characterizes as incompetence. He fails to grasp that these examples are explained not by incompetence but by shrewdness from the elite's social-control perspective.
Huber tells us that the generals are incompetent. He writes of General David McKiernan, top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan :
"He thinks we need to keep 60,000 troops in Afghanistan for the next three to four years. 'We've got to put them in the right places,' he says, but he doesn't appear to know where those places are."Huber complains that the military service chiefs are no smarter, writing:
"According to NBC Pentagon correspondent Jim Miklaszewski, Obama asked his service chiefs 'What is the end game?' in Afghanistan. His service chiefs replied, 'Frankly, we don't have one.'"He is angry that:
"Gates, Mullen, Petraeus, and McKiernan...are... pushing for an escalation without knowing what they're escalating to or what to do with the escalators. They don't even know which escalators to send. According to the Washington Post, nobody has even decided what kinds of forces to deploy."And he can't understand the stupidity of Obama spreading the war and getting more people to join the "enemy," writing:
"And Obama should rendition whoever told him it would be a good idea to step up the air strikes in Pakistan. What, we weren't pushing enough locals into the arms of the militants as it was?"But do these important facts that Huber presents really demonstrate the stupidity of our generals and president? The great Chinese military strategist, Sun Tzu, that Huber quotes also said that, "He who...underestimates his enemy will surely be captured by him." It appears that it is Jeff Huber who has understimated the enemy and been captured.
The president and generals wage war the way they do because they are using war for a purpose that has little to do with winning any objective in Afghanistan but everything to do with controlling Americans. Of course the top brass don't care exactly where the troops fight in Afghanistan, or exactly what kind of troops do the fighting. All that really matters is that Americans believe that "our young men and women soldiers are risking their lives fighting in Afghanistan to defend our freedom from terrorists." Of course the service chiefs have no end game. Who wants a good war to end? And what's wrong with pushing more locals into the arms of the militants? After all, if the supply of militants ran out there would be no more war.
Huber sees all of the facts, but interprets them wrongly. He concludes by calling for a purge of the "incompetents":
"Our military's senior officers are either unforgivably ignorant of the basic tenets of their profession or they've pawned their integrity for enduring job security through the 'persistent conflict' of the 'long war.' Whichever is the case, it's time for a Stalinesque purge of the Department of Defense. "But creating a "persistent conflict" with a "long war" is precisely the true aim of the American ruling class. They would no more purge the architects of such a war than purge themselves.
The problem with our rulers is not that they are incompetent people with noble goals, but that they are highly intelligent people with ignoble goals. They use wars of mass murder to strengthen the power of a sociopathic elite.
* The war is also illegal. On this point, see