Monday, June 7, 2010

The Joke That The Afghan War Has Become

The NYT today highlights the confusion around the private Afghan security companies that are hired by the private trucking firms that the United States pay to transport supplies to combat troops.

The story documents what has become painfully obvious. We have no real idea who we are fighting. We claim to be committed to destroying the Taliban, because they are evil and anti-democratic. So instead, we pay money to other groups who on paper oppose the Taliban, even though they are just as violent and repressive. And that's ok, because they aren't called "Taliban", which Americans have been trained to see as the most evil of all people on earth.

So on any given day, we hand out money with no accountability to armed groups who we have no control over, who may or may not be colluding with the Taliban, who are just as repressive as the Taliban, and who may in fact be integrated with, or indistinguishable from the Taliban. We really just have no fucking idea.

Why don't we just guard our own convoys? I was once in the Army back in a different life, and I was a truck driver in a supply company. Do those jobs not exist anymore?

They don't, and the reason is simple. The Obama administration finds it politically impossible to ask for enough troops to actually carry out the mission. So instead, they are literally outsourcing our war. And what's worse, they are outsourcing it to our enemies.

The insanity of this policy is hard to overstate. It is destroying our ability to accomplish the already pointless and impossible mission which we have ludicrously set for ourselves: building a democracy in a strange country whose population doesn't want it. So why do we do it?

There are two reasons, and they stand as an insult to the troops we have who are needlessly sacrificing their lives for a mission which our government is sabotaging daily for political reasons.

The first reason is that politically, our government refuses to tell the people the straight truth, which is that in order for us to waste our time more efficiently in Afghanistan, we need more troops. But Americans won't support more troops, and so our government tries to cover this up by essentially bribing our enemies to allow supplies to go through, so that we can continue to pretend to fight this war.

The second reason is that, while our military could re-supply itself at a far smaller cost, and without handing millions over to people who we call our enemies, we won't do that because these supply and security contracts are bribes in and of themselves. We're bribing American contractors, who lobby Congress daily in order to enrich themselves through our war. And we're bribing members of the Afghan government, who have connections with both the Taliban and warlords who are sympathetic to the government, at least at the moment. (The grim truth is that the loyalties of pretty much anyone with a weapon in Afghanistan lie with whomever can help them out at the moment.)

But don't worry. We have a well-defined goal and a clear path to its accomplishment.

The goal is to destroy our empire in the wilds of Afghanistan. And the path is the one that we are on today.

1 comment:

  1. Machiavelli writes at length about just how nutty it is to outsource war. "The Prince" ch XII, and more in "The Discourses".

    "He who holds his State by means of mercenary troops can never be solidly or securely seated. For such troops are disunited, ambitious, insubordinate, treacherous, insolent among friends, cowardly before foes, and without fear of God or faith with man. Whenever they are attacked defeat follows; so that in peace you are plundered by them, in war by your enemies. And this because they have no tie or motive to keep them in the field beyond their paltry pay."