The World O' Crap Archive

Welcome to the Collected World O' Crap, a comprehensive library of posts from the original Salon Blog, and our successor site, (2006 to 2010).

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Thursday, February 3, 2011

Run Silent, Run Dumb

In his LA Times column today, Max (Das) Boot loads the forward torpedo tubes, takes the range and bearing of a geo-strategic threat to American interests, and fires! He’s wide of the target, but at least those bastards know they’ve been in a fight, once they spot the distinctive calling card Max invariably leaves behind: a yellow dye stain and a couple of floaters.

However, today Das Boot gives it right full rudder and strays from his usual course. Boldly breaking ranks with the other Borden Sunshine Makers, Max confronts certain uncomfortable developments in the Graveyard of Armies:
NOT LONG AGO, Afghanistan appeared to be doing much better than Iraq in spite of getting much less American help. But in the last year, a surge in Taliban activity has endangered the hard-won achievements of the 2001-2004 period. Roadside bombings and suicide attacks are up. Parts of the countryside are in the Taliban’s grip. Opium production is hitting record levels. Already this year coalition forces have suffered more fatalities in Afghanistan (163) than they did in all of 2005 (130) to say nothing of 2004 (58). 
And as it that weren’t enough, Dr. John H. Watson has been shot by a Jezail bullet in either the shoulder or the leg.  Fortunately, Max cinches up his sack and finally places the blame for America’s failed efforts in Afghanistan precisely where it belongs:  It’s Pakistan’s fault. 
After making some efforts to curb Taliban activity, President Pervez Musharraf seems to have thrown in the towel. He has agreed to withdraw troops from Waziristan, turning over a frontier area the size of New Jersey to Taliban supporters. He also released from prison about 2,500 foreign fighters linked to the Taliban and Al Qaeda. Since those actions, U.S. officials report that Taliban attacks in the eastern provinces of Afghanistan have tripled. 
Hm.  Well, when your ally concludes a separate peace, it is not traditionally regarded as a vote of confidence in your prosecution of the war.  Still, that can’t be our fault. 
Pakistan isn’t just turning a blind eye to Taliban activity. Its Inter-Services Intelligence agency seems to be increasing the amount of training and logistical support it provides to Islamist militants — and not just in Afghanistan.
Hmmm.  Okay, when your former ally actually switches sides in the war, that may look bad, but this kind of thing happens all the time – Afghan warlord Abdul Rashid Dostum did it frequently during the war between the Taliban and the Northern Alliance; the Romanians, Bulgarians, and Italians did it in the waning days of World War II; and a girl with nuclear boots and drip dry gloves did it in The Cars 1978 hit, “She’s My Best Friend’s Girl.”  This is just the sort of treachery that historians and tall, cadaverous, shag-capped rock stars have recounted since the dawn of civilization, and it clearly has no connection to our policy of invading Afghanistan with the stated intention of rebuilding the entire society from the ground up, laying the first brick with great ceremony, then getting bored and leaving.  I mean come on, talk about blaming the victim.

But Max isn’t going to let us get off scot-free.  Although it pains him to admit that a man he respects, admires, and unstintingly supports has failed us, still he must swallow the bitter pill of intellectual honesty and bring him to account: 
The fault isn’t all Musharraf’s. Afghan President Hamid Karzai deserves some blame for not doing more to spread good governance to the southern and eastern provinces. 
I sympathize with Max, because I suffered an identical disappointment in the early 1990s with Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley’s feeble efforts to stop the Shining Path guerrillas in Peru. 
What should the U.S. do? Sending more troops isn’t in the cards. 
He’s right.  Much as it pains me to risk the lives of imaginary soldiers, if there’s one place we should be sending those additional troops we don’t have, it’s Iraq. 
Instead of sending more GIs, we should send more greenbacks. 
Gah!  Typical knee jerk Republican response to a problem:  throw money at it. 
We’ve spent more than twice as much per capita in Iraq. U.S. aid briefly soared to $4.3 billion in fiscal year 2005, then dropped to $3 billion in fiscal year 2006. The fiscal year 2007 request is for just $1.1 billion, although there will undoubtedly be a supplemental appropriation. 
Because those are easier to hide from the public.  Anyway, once all the blame has been affixed like so many Post-It notes, Max feels it’s finally safe to bring President Bush out for a bow in the final paragraph: 
President Bush needs to play hardball with Musharraf, telling him that American support for a free Afghanistan will never waver but that support for Musharraf’s regime will be jeopardized if he doesn’t do more to curb the Taliban. Musharraf needs to get the message — as he did after 9/11 — that it’s more important to placate Uncle Sam than the radical Islamic parties. 
Based on the General’s recent actions – surrendering Waziristan to the Taliban, giving Osama bin Laden a hall pass, and telling the world that he only ever pretended to be George’s friend because some of the bigger kids threatened to bomb him back to the Paleolithic era if he didn’t play with him — I have a feeling Musharraf has already concluded that the threat roiling on his own frontier is far more important to placate than a snippy, but easily distracted President of the United States.   And if a revivified opium trade that will mostly inconvenience the DEA is the price he has to pay for running out the clock on the Bush Administration, it’s small wonder our erstwhile ally has opted out of the War on Terror in favor of flogging his book on the Daily Show. 

We know bring you today’s bumper sticker, courtesy of a certain Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.


4 Responses to “Run Silent, Run Dumb”

Hey, where is everybody? This is World O’ Crap, for cryin’ out loud!
It must be technical difficulties. Yeah, that’s it.
Oh well. As long as I’m here…
The only thing I can figure about the LAT’s columnists is that, being on Pacific time, they figure 3/4 of the country will never read ‘em anyway. It’s the late-night programming of political punditry.
C’mon, everybody knew what the story was with Musharraf five years ago. We had to have him and we paid him off (if Dick Armitage threatened anybody, and I doubt it, it was a stone bluff). Musharraf couldn’t have withstood the internal pressure if he’d really gone after the Taliban, so he made a play of cooperation for as long as he could, or until the contract ran out, and then he capitulated. Why was there a two-year string of “#2 Man in al-Qaeda” captures and rub-outs, and why didn’t we get anything out of it except warnings that the Golden Gate bridge and some mall in Bismark were the next Terra Targets? Because he played the same game as our own state and local officials: he saw the opportunity to fleece Uncle Sugar and he took it, and now the US has nothing left to offer or threaten anybody with, and we’re back to normal.
(By the way, Scott, it took a good five minutes for me to get over the Cars bit so I could type this.)
Musharaff’s equation is really simple:
Bush = 2 more years
Osama = ?
Taliban = ?
Al Qaeda = For as long as they can
The math is really easy.
I dunno how you make something that awful that funny, but I appreciate it. My favorite was the Watson bit, but I’m odd that way.

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