Monday, October 19, 2009

David Burchell, and the war in Afghanistan goes swimmingly well

(Above: Doonesbury. More Doonesbury here, and the punchline below).

Thank the lord all is going swimmingly in Afghanistan, and the only way we can lose would be if quisling do gooder turncoats try to swim against the tide of good fortune.

This might come as a shock to some, but only those who fail to turn to The Australian on a Monday to read David Burchell, a privilege which hopefully will shortly be stripped from bludging non-paying content kleptomaniacs by Chairman Rupert.

Meantime, in Leaders' sorry words no excuse for inaction, we can hear the good news:

Now the same logic appears to be eating away at the debate over Afghanistan. In the 2008 election campaign, Obama proposed that the Bush administration was neglecting the much more important struggle in Afghanistan on account of its Iraq obsession. This position rather neatly combined condemnation of Obama's predecessor with an air of democratic purposefulness. Now that the sins of the fathers have been duly apportioned, though, the new administration's sense of moral responsibility toward Afghanistan seems to be ebbing almost by the week. These days Obama's boosters in the US press are repeating every old saw from the war in Iraq (in turn recycled out of the collective memory of the Vietnam War), only now transplanted to Afghanistan instead. The government is corrupt. The war is unwinnable. In any case, as we are ceaselessly told, American public opinion is turning further against the war every month.

Every old saw? Well what tune should be sung? The government isn't corrupt? Yep, right, they did such a handy job organizing the last election, it leads me to think that in bizarro land everything is fine.

The war is unwinnable? In exactly what way is it winnable? Perhaps in the area of rights for women? What was that I read back in April?

President Karzai of Afghanistan provoked international outrage yesterday with draconian Taleban-era restrictions on women and laws that explicitly sanction marital rape.

A leaked copy of the laws obtained by
The Times details new strictures for Afghanistan’s Shia minority. Women are banned from leaving the home without permission. A wife has the absolute duty to provide sexual services to her husband, and child marriage is legalised.
(President Karzai's Taleban-style laws for women put troop surge at risk).

Stop that idle defeatist chatter at once. Remember all is well, or certainly going swimmingly:

None of these claims has the ring of conviction or sincerity. Afghanistan's government is less corrupt than it has been for decades. The election, while tainted, was not manufactured, as in neighbouring Iran; and the run-off election will go ahead. The war is certainly more winnable now than it was a year or two ago, if only because additional troops are now able to be transferred from Iraq. And -- as even a cursory inspection of the relevant CBS news polls will show -- the US public is no more pessimistic about Afghanistan, on balance, now than it was a couple of years ago. (The President's approval rating on Afghanistan is an entirely different matter.)

Less corrupt? A 'tainted' election that wasn't 'manufactured'? Is Burchell running for an appeasement and fact-hiding job in the UN? By golly, perhaps he can take over from UN head of mission Kai Eide, given he's so good at blowing smoke.

As for the poll? Ah that'd be the CBS poll published September 24th 2009 headed Poll: Afghanistan Troop Increase Unpopular, with the sub-header CBS News/New York Times Survey Finds Most Americans Don't Back McChrystal's Call for More Troops; Split Over War's Value.

Silly CBS pollsters don't have a clue about how to read a poll. The percentages in favor of the war are on a real roll:

Americans are split on whether the United States is doing the right thing by fighting the war in Afghanistan. Forty-seven percent, including 67 percent of Republicans, say yes. Forty-two percent, including more than half of Democrats, say no. Independents are nearly evenly divided.

More than half of those surveyed (53 percent) say things are going badly for the United States in Afghanistan, while just 35 percent say they are going well. That negative assessment is nonetheless an improvement from December, when 62 percent said things were going badly and 27 percent said they were going well.

See! It's only over half of all Americans that think things are going badly, much better than the almost two thirds awhile ago. As for that troop surge, the numbers are really picking up:

Fewer than one in three Americans believe the number of troops in Afghanistan should be increased, a new CBS News/New York Times poll finds, despite a leaked memo from General Stanley A. McChrystal, the U.S.'s top military commander in Afghanistan, suggesting that an increase is necessary for the United States to avoid failure there.

Twenty-nine percent of those surveyed say troop levels should be increased, while thirty-two percent say they should be decreased. Another 27 percent say troop levels should be kept at the level they are now.

29% in favor. Why it's almost a lay down misere. Not that we indulge in poll cherry picking of course, but what happens if you look at CNN's 1st September poll?

Opposition to the war in Afghanistan is at an all-time high in a new national poll.

Fifty-seven percent of Americans questioned in a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Tuesday say they oppose the U.S. war in Afghanistan, with 42 percent supporting the military mission. The percentage of those in opposition to the war is up 11 points since April, and is the highest ever in CNN polling since the launch of the U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan soon after the September 11 terrorist attacks in 2001.

The poll indicates that opposition to the war is coming mainly from Democrats and independents.

"Fifty-seven percent of independents and nearly three-quarters of Democrats oppose the war. Seven in 10 Republicans support what the U.S. is doing in Afghanistan," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "Democrats mildly opposed the war in April while independents and Republicans favored it. But opposition has grown 18 points among Democrats and 10 points among independents."
(CNN Poll: Afghanistan War opposition at all-time high).

As for the defeatist leftist cabal at NBC, what else would you expect? Poll: Public pessimistic about Afghanistan:

As President Barack Obama weighs sending more U.S. troops to Afghanistan, the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll finds that Americans are concerned about the progress of the conflict there.

Nearly six in 10 say they’re less confident the war will come to a successful conclusion, and a narrow majority of respondents (51 percent) oppose sending more troops to Afghanistan.

However, a majority of Americans (55 percent) also oppose an immediate and orderly withdrawal from that war zone, and the public is split over whether the conflict there has been worth the costs and casualties.

“We are witnessing a divided country, but one that is less optimistic,” said Republican pollster Bill McInturff, who conducted this survey with Democratic pollster Peter D. Hart.

Well I dare say that there's been more polls since, and they all say that the American public thinks the war is going tremendously well.

But wait, there's something stirring in the wood pile. Who could it be, beavering away with a singular energy that will - if unleashed - defeat the forces for good in Afghanistan and the will of the American people?

If Obama does indeed reverse direction on Afghanistan, effectively conceding defeat in the eight-year campaign to build a viable democratic national state there, the laurels of victory will go to the administration's self-styled foreign policy expert, Vice-President Joe Biden. And, given our freshly-coined axiom about bad conscience and bad faith, this seems only appropriate.

Yes! Joe Biden!! Single handedly the fiend will snatch defeat from the jaws of victory! In much the same way as Al Gore single handedly invented the intertubes!

Biden has spent a lifetime impersonating a liberal Democrat of the Kennedy-Johnson era, albeit one shorn of any of the liberal internationalist instincts that weighed down the deliberations of that generation. Instead, he has confected a reputation for foreign policy nous out of an endless series of policy pirouettes and retracings of steps. Biden's major contribution to Iraq policy was the notorious proposal to partition Iraq into ethno-religiously defined enclaves, on the broad model of the post-Tito Balkans -- although even there Biden swung, first this way and then that, like a windsock in a policy gale. It's hard to tie down his substantive view.

Well never mind that the Kurds in Iraq now exist in an ethno-religious enclave. That's a matter of some notoriety. What else has Biden got to offer?

Alongside his imitations of a foreign-policy buff, Biden delights in impersonating the man of political gravitas. Indeed, he's been faking it since his college freshman days. Back in the late 1980s, Biden was so taken by a high-flown oration by then British Labour leader Neil Kinnock that he repeated significant portions of the speech under his own name, right down to Kinnock's emotional recollections of his coalminer father. Yet while the words stayed more or less the same, in Biden's hands the moral weight of the original speeches disappeared.

Fake gravitas! Well that's sure to end a war the wrong way quicker than you might manage to blurt out the words pompous gherkin when thinking of David Burchell. Neil Kinnock? Say no more, me Welsh old labor lackeys.

On the weekend The Washington Post published a final interview with the architects of America's tragic Vietnam policy, Robert McNamara and McGeorge Bundy. The two men spoke feelingly of the moral burden they carried with them to their deaths. For wartime presidents and advisers, McNamara observed, "there ought to be anguish", because the solutions are often so dismal. Why then do I sense so little anguish in Washington right now? And, once Vietnam and Iraq have been consigned to history for the umpteenth time, what burden might Obama be absolved of next?

Ah good old Robert McNamara. Who better to conjure up when writing about people who were wrong, terribly wrong, and have continued to attract relentless attention at the wrong point in history by self-confessing in a way that would make a Maoist show trial judge proud.

But heck, the United States never lost in Vietnam, it was white anted by defeatists and lick spittle lefties. I blame John Kerry for a start, and quite possibly Joe Biden, but Kerry will suffice. He's everything that was wrong with the war, going there, fighting, then waving the white feather. And it was all going so swimmingly well, before it went a little wrong, and then there was panic and choppers in the sea and a nest of traitors ...

Phew, well enough of that, time to toddle off to my leather chair for an early morning sherry - a little heart starter, as the week's off to a good start, and the war will shortly be won. In a year or two, or maybe ten. After all, we've only been there for eight years, and it's going so swimmingly ...

An exit strategy? Well after I've left my leather chair, I thought about heading down to the restaurant for a bite to eat. A bit of verbal fisticuffs always leaves me famished.

And the people who died? Never mind, there's always a little collateral damage.

And lessons to be learned. Well if you insist, here's Robert McNamara's eleven lessons of war:

1. Empathize with your enemy
2. Rationality will not save us
3. There's something beyond one's self
4. Maximize efficiency
5. Proportionality should be a guideline in war
6. Get the data
7. Belief and seeing are often both wrong
8. Be prepared to reexamine your reasoning
9. In order to do good, you may have to engage in evil
10. Never say never
11. You can't change human nature

Could it be that Burchell failed at point 6, and getting the data? And perhaps now he might just jump to point 8? Or perhaps we might move on to McNamara's ten additional lessons, including:

5. We, the richest nation in the world, have failed in our responsibility to our own poor and to the disadvantaged across the world to help them advance their welfare in the most fundamental terms of nutrition, literacy, health and employment. (You can get the rest of McNamara's principles, as defined in the film The Fog of War, here).

And if Burchell can't see any anguish in Washington right now, surely that's because the war in Afghanistan is going swimmingly well, and victory is just around the corner. After all, David Burchell tells me so, and he couldn't be a prize pumpkin standing by to win a prize for largest free standing pumpkin blather in a rural show, could he?

(More Doonsebury here. The most consistent cartoonist at work in America over the decades?)

(And a bonus cynical Doonsebury from a week ago).

1 comment:

  1. ABC radio reporting today police claims that Afghanistan is now an even better source of heroin for the local market.

    At last we can get a genuine import export business going. We export democracy, and import drugs, they export drugs and import ways to stuff up democracy.

    That's why it's going so well!


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