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President Obama and the Hundred-Year War

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The Nation, in this week’s issue, gives us a terrifying analysis of Obama’s over-arching Afghan war plan, as told by one of his top advisers. Entitled “Kilcullen’s Long War”, the article is extremely valuable; first, for bringing Dr. Kilcullen’s frightening ideology to light, and also for its emphasis on strategy, in contrast to our daily media’s infatuation with tactics. By focusing only on short-term goals in Afghanistan, we have completely missed the real discussion in the Pentagon, which has centered for some time on what they call “The Long War”. If more of the public knew what ideas were being batted around the Pentagon, I truly believe the reaction would be horror and outrage.

Dr. Kilcullen is a senior Pentagon analyst, an aide to General McChrystal, and a fervent proponent of what is coming to be known in the military community as the “Long War” model. As its name would suggest, the Long War paradigm considers Iraq and Afghanistan as the opening salvos in an extended effort for complete hegemony of Persian-Arabian landscape. Much of our strategy is now being constructed under the assumption that US involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan will last at least another decade, with a significant US presence in those countries (also, hopefully, Iran and Pakistan) for the foreseeable future.

As Tom Hayden writes:

Kilcullen’s recent book, The Accidental Guerrilla, presents the case for a Long War of fifty or even 100 years’ duration, with chapters on Iraq (a mistake he believes was salvaged by the military surge he promoted in 2007-08), Afghanistan (where he recommends at least a five-to-ten-year campaign), Pakistan (whose tribal areas he sees as the center of the terrorist threat) and even Europe (where, he says, human rights laws create legislative “safe havens” for urban Muslim undergrounds).

And regarding transparency:

The world counterterrorism community that is planning the Long War, Kilcullen has said, is “small and tightly knit.

Also persistent is the belief in what Dr. Kilcullen refers to as the “accidental guerrilla”. The idea, which has come to be known under many names, is that of a crazed, sadistic impulse to terrorism, which “spreads like a contagion”, and whose goals are none other than the utter destruction of “Western Civilization” and a return to an “Islamic Caliphate”. Needless to say this caricature, aside from its open racism, completely fails to take US support of terrorism into account. “Al Qaeda” and the “Taliban”, two convenient names we use to cover a disparate group of malcontents, would not exist if the US had not heavily funded their current leaders in the ’90s. Likewise, much of our aid to Pakistan this decade has ended up in the hands of so-called “extremist elements”, and their foreign intelligence makes no secret of its ties to these extremists.  Such unintended consequences are a natural byproduct of our dishonest “aid”.

The significant point here is that this “accidental guerrilla” narrative is specifically designed to justify a “Long War”. If terrorism is thought of as some mass delusion with which you cannot reason, but at the same time, our efforts to destroy it have the effect of producing more, then we have a self-reinforcing cycle. The refusal to attribute human causes to terrorism (i.e. dissatisfaction with US-sponsored dictatorships, anger over US military strikes, etc.) allows us nearly infinite options for dealing with it.

And as aggressive war happens to be a lucrative business for our various arms manufacturers (Blackwater, General Electric, Westinghouse, Lockheed, Boeing, etc. etc. etc.), it looks as though war will be the preferred option.


Written by pavanvan

October 17, 2009 at 6:59 pm

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