Sunday, January 08, 2012

Jack returns to his roots (not that it works well)

(edit point: this post has a timestamp of Sunday at 5:30 because I started it then; I finished it Monday at lunchtime, which is when it appeared on my blog)

A funny thing happened this morning around 7:00 am when I went to post my weekly screed about Jack Kelly's column. When I went to my blog's address, a screen came up that said my blog had been deleted. To back up a little, yesterday afternoon I was surfing the web while doing other things, and went to check my gmail or something. I got a message blocking me at that point (I might have type in a wrong password, I do that all the time). The message said something about suspicious activity on my account.

So to go back to this morning, I tried to figure out what the deal was about deleting my account. But I had to go help with training for new VITA volunteer tax payers, so I couldn't pursue it in any depth. I did use Google's message system to ask a question of their help people. When I came home after training (around 5:30), my blog was back. But I have to say this is making me think I might have to look at Word Press or some other blogging software.

Anyway, I want to say something about Jack Kelly's column this week. He returns to his national security roots, although he is still slanting his columns to carry water for the Tea Party.

Kelly basically accuses Obama and his administration of trying to get out of Afghanistan before the war has been won (hence the title of the column "Surrender in Afghanistan"). His "proof" boils down to three ideas, two of which I researched slightly.

First Jack quotes Joe Biden saying ""The Taliban per se is not our enemy,"" and then immediately says "We went to war in Afghanistan to oust the Taliban regime because it had sheltered al-Qaida. Perhaps Mr. Biden forgot." Really? I think it is Jack Kelly who is showing a selective memory. We went to war, as I remember it, to demolish al qaeda, particularly Osama bin Laden. Now, to the extent the Taliban got in the way of that goal, we were happy enough to oust them from power. But I think if you asked most Americans whether it was/is a good idea to get involved in a ten year war in Afghanistan at I have no idea what cost in dollars, and 1864 dead Americans, I think most Americans would say no.

And there is the point that the 800 pound gorilla in the corner might want to draw attention to. To repeat myself, we have been involved in Afghanistan for ten years or so, roughly the fist seven of which under President Bush. Apparently holding President's responsible for military success only applies to Democrats. Of course, even then, Kelly should but chooses not to grant that Obama was in office when bin Laden was killed, the thing that was essentially our ultimate motivation for invading Afghanistan.

The second issue Kelly raises is to comment on a story in an Indian newspaper about how the Obama administration is using someone named "Yusuf al-Qaradawi" to negotiate with the Taliban for the US to withdraw from Afghanistan. Interesting story, so I googled this guys name and the word Afghanistan to see what the Washington Post or Chicago Tribune thinks of it. Well, the story was there on google, but the sites that carried were all conservative sites, like the National Review or (one of my favorite site names) "Hot Air". When a story is carried only by conservatives, that immediately makes me doubt it's legitimacy.

The third issue Kelly brings up is a Reuters story that the administration is considering turning over from Guantanamo to Afghanistan someone named Mohammed Fazl, a senior Taliban official, and four other people. He's been held since 2001, and in Guantanamo since 2002. Afghanistan was requesting him since 2005 apparently. The man is accused of particularly brutal behavior (not a surprise to anyone who knows anything about the Taliban), but we are talking about turning ah Afghan national over the the Afghan government for them to decide what to do with. Seems totally unreasonable to me.

Kelly goes on about how Afghans who don't want to live under a brutal Taliban dictatorship would be the losers if the US withdrew. I certainly agree that life under the Taliban would be miserable (in my opinion), but I have to wonder how much the Afghans prefer whatever it is we are trying to accomplish there. After all,
we have been in Afghanistan since 2001, and we are apparently no closer to total victory than we were in 2001. How much are the civilians and Afghan government trying to help us? Perhaps the air strikes that hit civilians, often using drones rather than manned aircraft, has something to do with why the Afghans are no better than suspicious of us.

In addition, I do firmly believe the Afghans are worth helping, but how is it that they are the beneficiaries of soaring rhetoric while the citizens of, say, Zimbabwe are not. The hypocrisy of Republicans during the Bush administration and still today is staggering. To talk about bringing Democracy to Afghanistan or Iraq and then slaughter Afghani's or Iragi's with airstrikes (either poorly aimed, based on faulty intelligence or both) requires an incredibly selective view of the world (not to say cognitive dissonance).

What is most ludicrous about Kelly's column is that he is accusing Obama of wanting to slink away from Afghanistan and I believe he is implying (at the very least) that Obama has no stomach for winning the war in Afghanistan or fighting the war on terror. For anyone actually paying attention, Obama has been very aggressive about Afghanistan and in trampling on civil liberties. How does he compare to George W Bush? I have to say that in my opinion the comparison is too complicated, but Obama and much of the Democrat party (elected and voters) have been astounding in simultaneously pursuing aggressive action in Afghanistan and elsewhere in the world against "terrorists" (too often innocent civilians), trampling on civil rights (such as due process, habeous corpus, actually granting detainees trials and attacking whistle blowers and more), and yet pretending that nothing that is being done is contrary to the values of the US. Much the same can be said about the Obama administration's policy towards Wall Street, by the way. Glenn Greenwald has documented much of this, most recently here, but all through his Salon columns going back.

It's staggering that Kelly (in a manner that is typical of conservatives/Republicans/Tea Party people)asserts Obama is either somehow a wuss who doesn't want to fight a war to victory or perhaps in league with al Qaeda, when in fact Obama is ordering the killing of people in Afghanistan and elsewhere at least as aggressively as Bush did, and trampling civil rights at least as aggressively as Bush did. Kelly not only fails to elevate the debate, he actually makes it worse by concocting this fairy tale. Of course, very little of the rest of the media is doing anything to hold Obama accountable for those things he is doing.

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