America’s Longest War

by: Eric Margolis

Goodbye fire-breathing Gen. Stanley McChrystal, and your Special Forces “Mafia,” who were supposed to crush Afghan resistance to western occupation.

McChrystal was fired after rude remarks he and his staff made about the White House were printed in the American magazine, Rolling Stone. President Barack Obama should have fired McChrystal when the loose-lipped general went public with demands that 40,000 more troops be sent to Afghanistan

McChrystal was the second US commander in a row in Afghanistan to be fired, an ominous sign that the war was going very badly. He will now likely enter the Republican ranks as a martyr and become a Fox TV critic of Barack Obama.

A more cerebral and political general, David Petraeus, quickly replaced McChrystal.

In Iraq, Gen. Petraeus managed to temporarily suppress resistance due to a mixture of deft bribery, good luck, and Iran’s orders to Iraq’s Shia Mahdi Army militia to temporarily end resistance. Washington hopes Petraeus will do the same in Afghanistan, though the two countries are very different.

Last week, the usually cautious Petraeus vowed from Kabul to “win” the Afghan War, which has cost the US nearly $300 billion to date and 1,000 dead Americans (figures for Afghan dead are carefully guarded). The problem: no one can define what winning really means.

Afghanistan has become America’s longest-running conflict.

The escalating war now costs US taxpayers $17 billion monthly. President Obama’s Afghan “surge” of 30,000 more troops will add another $30 billion. Each time the US reinforces, Afghan resistance grows stronger. The Soviets ran into the same problem in the 1980’s.

The Afghan and Iraq wars – total cost to date $1 trillion – are being waged on borrowed money when the US is drowning in $13.1 trillion in debt. History shows that more empires have been brought down by waging ruinously expensive wars on borrowed money than by foreign invasion. Look, for good example, at the swift collapse of the British Empire after 1945.

Today, America has become addicted to debt and war.

The US Congress, which alone can declare and fund war, ducked responsibility and shamefully allowed Presidents Bush and Obama to usurp the power to make war.

Polls show a majority of Americans now oppose the imperial misadventure in Afghanistan. Yet most politicians, save a courageous few, fear opposing the war lest they be accused of “betraying American soldiers.” Americans are so steeped in militaristic propaganda and jingoism that questioning the gargantuan defense budget and foreign wars can be politically suicidal.

Even so, dissent is breaking into the open.

Last week, Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele let the cat out of the bag, admitting the Afghan War was not winnable. Steele also went on to absurdly claim that Obama had initiated the war in Afghanistan, ignoring George W. Bush’s role in plunging the US into this morass.

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