By Matthew Rothschild on March 29, 2010

President Obama showed courage in going to Afghanistan to talk to the troops, but he’s just getting the U.S. in deeper over there.

The rhetoric he used on Sunday was at times distorting, and the thrust was distressing.

Like Bush, he summoned the 9/11 attack, saying, “We did not choose this war.” And he added: “This is the region where the perpetrators of that crime, al Qaeda, still base their leadership.”

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That’s clever phrasing, to use the word “region” and not “country,” since Al Qaeda’s forces are no longer in Afghanistan. They’re in Pakistan.

So the U.S. is not waging a war against Al Qaeda anymore—and hasn’t been for years. It’s taking sides in a civil war, with the Pashtuns and the Taliban squaring off against warlords from the north and Karzai’s government.

But that’s a harder sell, so Obama didn’t make it.

Instead, he told the soldiers: “Your services are absolutely necessary, absolutely essential to America’s safety and security.” And he said, “The United States of America does not quit once it starts on something. You don’t quit, the American armed services does not quit, we keep at it.”

So how does he square that rhetoric with his previous declaration that we’re going to bring troops home from Afghanistan starting next summer?

It’s all but impossible for the U.S. to “defeat and destroy Al Qaeda and its extremist allies,” though that’s what Obama said our goal is. It will be difficult to root out Al Qaeda’s leadership in Pakistan, and even then, Al Qaeda would still flourish n its offshoots around the world. It will also be very difficult to “defeat and destroy” Al Qaeda’s “extremist allies.” Obama seemed to recognize this in another part of his speech, where he said part of U.S. strategy was to “reverse the Taliban’s momentum”—not vanquish it. Then there are Al Qaeda’s other “extremist allies,” ensconced in Pakistan’s intelligence agency, the ISI. And the United States to this date has not put enough pressure on the Pakistani government to sever this alliance.

Sixteen months from now, the odds are that the civil war in Afghanistan will look much the way it does today. And because Obama asserted that the outcome in Afghanistan is “absolutely necessary, absolutely essential to America’s safety and security,” then there is no way the U.S. will be able to leave.

So prepare for a longer war. Obama’s rhetoric guarantees it.

Matthew Rothschild is the editor of The Progressive magazine. To subscribe for just $14.97 a year, just click here.

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Capitalism is the enemy, and the ideology of growth and dominion over the Earth.

 

South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham recently joined many of his Republican colleagues, declaring that...

John Kerry used two weak arguments to justify President Obama’s war-making.

By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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