How many readers feel the outrage I do when I read the headlines – “Pakistan: Clinton Unveils Details of $2 Billion Military Aid Package” and “Afghanistan: Taliban Attack NATO Fuel Convoy, Killing Three” – of two recent New York Times articles?
First of all, the New York Times relegates so little attention to these rather huge issues. Secondly, the first article buys into our government’s euphemism of labeling dollars to other countries as “aid.”
To begin with, these U.S. taxpayer’ dollars go to American defense-industry private corporations. They are the ones that get the aid – it is bold-faced corporate welfare. We give $2 billion to Pakistan; then they buy “American-made arms, ammunition, and accessories” from U.S. private companies. Are the arms then used by Pakistan to protect American and NATO forces from Taliban attacks? See the second article to find out.
It is truly bizarre that the New York Times and the public don’t see the connections. Or perhaps I sell the Times short; maybe they juxtaposed these two articles to show the absurdity of fighting in one country while giving aid to a neighboring country, which in turn gives sanctuary to the very enemies you are fighting in the first country.
In Bob Woodward’s recent book “Obama’s Wars,” this theme comes up over and over as he reports on President Obama’s teams of CIA, Pentagon, State Department, et al., trying to determine what the hell we are doing in Afghanistan and what success might look like. Again and again they are frustrated by the corruption and double-dealings of a Pakistani government that makes cosmetic attempts at controlling the Taliban yet gives them huge latitude to operate in Pakistan, and to go back and forth between Afghanistan and Pakistan, but with minimal attempts to limit their safe havens.
So, here we are trying to defeat the Taliban, a goal that has now been watered down to disrupt and degrade by the Obama team, all the while trying to get Pakistan to play ball with us. So the two articles mentioned above are just another scene from the absurdist play we are carrying out in the Middle East. It is a play worthy of Beckett or Ionesco, or a novel by Vonnegut, except that our goings on in Afghanistan and Pakistan are real. People are dying, and billions of U.S. dollars during a domestic depression are being tossed away in the Middle East.
Reading Woodward’s account of how Obama is seemingly trapped in a war he inherited, a military that has no end to its appetites, an American public that is profoundly ill-informed, and a Congress that itself is not much more informed, one sympathizes with Obama and his knowledgeable consultants who see the complexities of the wars but can’t seem to find a politically viable way out. So with the military gnawing away at his feet demanding more troops to get the job done, Obama keeps struggling to define what “the job” is.
However, it finally becomes clear to this writer that President Obama must get us out of the Bush inheritance. Bring the troops home, rein the military in, and stop providing aid to those who give us little in return.
The U.S. can help the world in so many ways, but not if we squander our own economic resources in unwinnable, unpopular, and unwise wars. Time after time the U.S. and other nations wage wars and at the end of them realize they were losing propositions for all involved –including the victors. Yet we do not learn. I voted for Barack Obama because I thought he had more sense than to become mired down in yet another futile war. Perhaps he will come to his senses, soon.