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Blindness to history

Whilst Obama still considers what do to in Afghanistan - that is, how many military to commit to the ever-growing disaster there - he might do well to read and reflect on this piece in Harper's Magazine "History Promises Disaster in Afghanistan for Blind America" by John R. MacArthur, publisher of the magazine.

"But first let’s restate the burning question: Why are we in Afghanistan? To start, we can dismiss the preposterous argument advanced by Obama’s most aggressive advisers about defending our country against “terrorism” in Afghanistan. Al Qaeda is nothing if not decentralized, and its adherents are still perfectly capable of attacking the United States from Canada, Boston, Hamburg, or Fort Hood. Anyway, terrorism, as Timothy McVeigh demonstrated in Oklahoma City, can originate with the nice young white man next door who shops at the gun store around the corner. “Fighting terrorism” in Afghanistan “to prevent another 9/11” simply isn’t a serious argument, and I suspect that even the deluded Gen. Stanley McChrystal understands that his men are shooting at indigenous Afghan rebels, not Osama bin Laden or his followers.

No, the more likely reason for killing all those people and wasting nearly $3.4 billion a month is an ugly mixture of vanity, misplaced pride, crass politics, and liberal self-righteousness. The Army still wants to prove it can defeat a guerrilla army and erase the shame of Vietnam. The politicians, Obama included, want to look warlike and tough, so they can’t be accused of being “soft on terror” in 2010. And then there are the civil servants and think-tank denizens known as “humanitarian interventionists”— now led by Hillary Clinton, who think that America’s “civilizing” mission in the world includes not only establishing “democracy” but also “freeing” Afghan women from being required to wear the burqa."


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