Friday August 19, 2022

Simplistic peace

November 23, 2020

So here’s an odd, mostly overlooked scrap of recent news: Donald Trump wants to end the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq before he leaves office, and is expected to announce a drawdown of troops in both countries.

Currently there are approximately 4,500 troops in Afghanistan and 3,000 in Iraq. The drawdown would leave 2,500 troops in each country.

Even Mitch McConnell is aghast!

In a speech from the Senate floor this week, he said: “We’re playing a limited – limited – but important role in defending American national security and American interests against terrorists who would like nothing more than for the most powerful force for good in the world to simply pick up our ball and go home.”

In case you didn’t know this, McConnell points out that the world is a very simple place. All you need to know is that it’s neatly divided between good and evil, and we – America, America, repository of God’s grace – are the world’s primary source and force of good. For nineteen years in Afghanistan and seventeen years in Iraq (who even remembers Iraq anymore?) we have been doing good, saving those countries, and the world, from terrorists. When we kill, wound and displace – by the thousands, by the millions – it’s absolutely necessary, in the name of our “interests,” and our interests are always good.

So the Trump plan to end these two endless wars is causing consternation throughout the military and political status quo, with the mainstream media doing its best to make sure the American public isn’t forced to understand it at more than a superficial level. My God, if complexity were brought into the news – e.g., bombs kill, people suffer, no one ever wins, wars never end – the trillion-dollar annual military budget would be in danger.

Thus Barbara Starr, reporting at CNN, informed us with terse objectivity: “U.S. commanders have been very concerned about the further drawdown in Afghanistan, believing it would become much harder for them to do their mission. ... Commanders say it’s just not time yet.”

That word – “mission” – is not explored further. It just sits there. It’s all we need to know: Nineteen years and three-quarters of a trillion dollars later, come on! Give the commanders time to accomplish their mission. No need to probe and analyze. A mission is a mission.

Andrew Bacevich and Adam Weinstein put some clarity to U.S accomplishments over the last two decades. They note, for instance, that the Obama administration surges “created the illusion of coalition control over large swaths of Afghanistan, but as soon the surge ended, the Taliban took back these gains.”

Excerpted: ‘Beyond simplistic ‘peace’’