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Dec. 1 2009 - 2:55 pm | 64 views | 1 recommendation | 14 comments

Dude, Where’s My Anti-War President?

In the words of my favorite legendary ESPN sports anchor (and fellow Buffalo Bills fan) Chris ‘The Swami’ Berman:

“Come on, Man!”

As someone who has been to the region and actually flown directly over the Durand Line (the 1,600-mile-long border between Pakistan and Afghanistan) nearly a dozen or so times in my life thus far, I am still sighing and scratching my head as to why President Barack Obama (who ran on an anti-war platform) would officially announce an additional 30,000 troops in his speech this evening at West Point Academy for the war in Afghanistan; which is known quite well to all knowledgeable global observers simply as the ‘Graveyard of Empires’.

Historically well-known around the world to global observers as the ‘Graveyard of Empires’, the central Asian feudal nation-state of Afghanistan has successfully cast off the historical imperialist likes of Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan (and the Mongol empire), the British Victorian colonial empire and most recently, the USSR Soviet communist empire, who were embarrassingly defeated by the Afghan mujahideen during the entire decade of the 1980s.

“No outside force has, since the Mongol invasion, ever pacified the entire country [of Afghanistan]…Even Alexander the Great only passed through,” once noted former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in an October 2009 article for Newsweek magazine on the historical and regional importance of Afghanistan within our greater geopolitical context.

Dear Mr. President: Welcome to the 'Graveyard of Empires'

Dear Mr. President: Welcome to the 'Graveyard of Empires'

As a strategic geographical crossroads within Central Asia, from its invasion by “Genghis Khan and his two-million strong Mongol hordes to the superpower proxy war [during the 1980s] between the United States and the Soviet Union, Afghanistan’s trade routes and land-locked position in the middle of the region have for centuries rendered it vulnerable to invasion by external powers.”

According to an official 2009 CATO Institute ‘white paper’ policy briefing on Afghanistan: “Although Afghanistan has endured successive waves of Persian, Greek, Arab, Turk, Mongol, British, and Soviet invaders, no occupying power has ever successfully conquered it…There’s a reason why it has been described as the ‘graveyard of empires’, and unless America scales down its objectives, it risks meeting a similar fate…

Moving onto the overly-corrupt Hamid Karzai: “Without a legitimate and credible Afghan partner, that counterinsurgency strategy is fundamentally flawed. The current Afghan government is neither legitimate nor credible,” said Democratic Senator Paul Kirk of Massachusetts on the blatantly-corrupt Afghan government.

He added: “We should not send a single additional dollar in aid or add a single American serviceman or woman to the 68,000 already courageously deployed in Afghanistan until we see a meaningful move by the Karzai regime to root out its corruption.”

Seriously, Mr. President.

If Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, the British and USSR Soviet Communist Empire could not successfully conquer Afghanistan, do we really think that an eight-year-old war started by a dyslexic rodeo clown named George W. Bush and his Darth Vader puppet-master named Dick Cheney could ever be a winning endeavor?

Thus, you do not have to be a rocket scientist to know that placing a ‘double-down’ on a pair of ‘Afghan Eights’ will end up ‘busting’ our bank; both literally and figuratively.

Simply put; just because a ’surge’ worked in Iraq does not mean a ’surge’ will work in Afghanistan. With the only commonality being that these are both Muslim nations, comparing foreign policy strategies between these two countries would be the moral equivalient of saying that what is good for California would automatically be good for Vermont.

Mr. President, just like Dan Quayle was famously told in a 1988 vice-presidential debate that he “was no Jack Kennedy”; I can also assure you tonight, sir, that Afghanistan is no Iraq.

Thus, with two ongoing (and seemingly never-ending) wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan, until we see our new President concretely trying to end these wars started by a pro-war hawkish administration, over 66.8 million Americans who voted for ‘change that we can believe in’ will be left wondering the following simple question:

“Dude…Where’s my anti-war president?”


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  1. collapse expand

    Uhm, he said last September he thought the fight should be found in Afghanistan, and said he would do whatever he can to move troops out of Iraq into that country. He is now moving troops out of Iraq and into that country, which is where the “War on Terror” should have been fought when it started over half a decade ago. As one of those 66.8 million that voted for him, I knew, understood, and support this action. Just give the troops on the ground a better understanding of why they are there, which was supremely lacking in Iraq. Though this should be much easier to direct, because instead of looking for phantom WMDs the goal is to, y’know, find the guy and group responsible for planes being flown into the WTC and stamp them out. Again, what should have been done years ago.

  2. collapse expand

    Mr. Obama made a campaign commitment that as President he would focus more attention on Afghanistan.

    Shall we pull out and let the Taliban and Al Qaida infest the region once more? Do you truly think they’ll stop their terror attacks against the West after that?

    Shall we gear up at the CIA for a new generation of covert operations against Al Qaida? We all know what happened the last time we opened the department of dirty tricks.

    Our government has a duty to protect its constituents. What alternative does Mr. Obama have?

  3. collapse expand

    The surge worked in Iraq? In what way?

  4. collapse expand

    Besides the many differences between Iraq and Afghanistan, the “what worked in Iraq” argument also falls apart once you start looking closely at what’s actually going on Iraq now, and what that country will look like in the future. I don’t know if that’s a model we want to emulate.

  5. collapse expand

    Well, at least karzai has 18 more months to fill his offshore accounts with OUR cash…..which is probably the only plus of Obama’s plan….

  6. collapse expand

    I didn’t vote for, and write checks to support, Barack Obama so that he could pull a Lyndon Johnson.

  7. collapse expand

    When the US kill a simple Afghan local (accident or no), that day they’ll inherit multiple blood-sworn enemies committed to attaining mortal revenge, (legally justified in their law) from out of the plentiful pool of family and community. It’s a runaway-expanding algorithm of opponents with only 1 solution: Abandon the exercise. Even the Afghans themselves have countless local, ever-simmering blood feuds, some stretching back to reasons no even remembers anymore!

  8. collapse expand

    I don’t get you guys. Obama never claimed to be an “anti-war” president. He specifically said he wasn’t against all wars. Just dumb ones. He repeatedly emphasized that Afghanistan was the war he wanted to focus on, that it was a vital American interest and that he would wind down Iraq so he could focus on Afghanistan. He is doing exactly that.

    Did you honestly expect him to just pull out in his first year? If so, you really didn’t pay much attention what he said during his campaign.

  9. collapse expand

    I don’t get you guys. Obama never claimed to be an “anti-war” president. He specifically said he wasn’t against all wars. Just dumb ones. He repeatedly emphasized that Afghanistan was the war he wanted to focus on, that it was a vital American interest and that he would wind down Iraq so he could focus on Afghanistan. He is doing exactly that.

    Did you honestly expect him to just pull out in his first year? If so, you really didn’t pay much attention what he said during his campaign.

    Here’s the speech: http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Barack_Obama’s_Iraq_Speech

    And here’s the quote: “I am not opposed to all wars. I’m opposed to dumb wars.” He said it three times in that one speech.

    • collapse expand

      Chris…Candidate Obama never said he would be a ’surge’ president…All he said was that he would send 2 additional brigades (3000-5000 soldiers)….He already sent in 4 brigades (doubling his campaign promise) in March…

      And NOW…He wants to send 6 MORE brigades (30K troops)…That’s 10 brigades (when he said he would send 2)…That’s not even a double-down…That’s a quintuple-down… :)

      With these numbers…We will have more American troops in Afghanistan than the WHOLE Soviet Empire had in Afghanistan during the mujahideen proxy war of the 1980s…

      We are just sending thousands of more innocent boys and girls into the ‘graveyard of empires’…

      If Alexander the Great, the Mongols, British and Soviet empires could not pacify Afghanistan, sending even MORE troops in would constitute as a ‘dumb war’…And that is not why millions of us voted for Barack…

      In response to another comment. See in context »
      • collapse expand

        This is not an act of conquest.

        Alexander the Great, the Mongols, the British, and the Soviets were all interested in conquest.

        The US is not.

        President Obama is continuing the previous administration’s policies to get us to a safe exit strategy. Our country’s interest is to neutralize of several gangs of thugs who immigrated to the region and used that country as a base to attack us. Other than that, we have no interest in occupation.

        What we’re arguing over is not if we leave, but what it will take, when, and how.

        In response to another comment. See in context »
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    About Me

    Arsalan is an international human rights lawyer and founder of TheMuslimGuy.com

    Additionally, Arsalan is also a regular weekly contributor for the 'Barbershop' segment for the National Public Radio (NPR) Show "Tell Me More with Michel Martin" and he is also a featured contributor for CNN Anderson Cooper 360.

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