Tuesday, March 13, 2012

13 March 2012 “Why we’d have to flatten the country”


King Henry marched forth, a sword in his hand,
Two thousand horsemen all at his command;
In a fortnight the rivers ran red through the land,
The year fifteen hundred and twenty.

The year is now nineteen sixty five
It's easier far to stay alive.
Just keep your mouth shut while the planes zoom and dive
Ten thousand miles over the ocean.

Simon was drafted in '63,
In '64, sent over the sea;
Last month this letter he sent to me,
He said, "You won't like what I'm saying"

He said, "We've no friends here, no hardly a one,
We've got a few generals who just want our guns;
But it will take more than them if we're ever to win,
Why, we'll have to flatten the country."

"It's my own troops I have to watch out for," he said
"I sleep with a pistol right under my head;"
He wrote this last month; last week he was dead,
And Simon came home in a casket
Words: Pete Seeger (1965)  Music: Traditional
(c) 1965 (renewed), 1966 by Fall River Music, Inc.

End the Afghan mission now
By Eugene RobinsonPublished: March 12
            “This is supposed to be a period of transition from U.S. occupation to Afghan government control. But what do we expect to accomplish between now and 2014, when our troops are supposed to come home? We can be confident that the Afghan government will still be feckless and corrupt. We can anticipate that the Afghan military will still lack personnel, equipment and training. We can be absolutely certain that the Taliban insurgents will still constitute a threat, because — and this is what gung-ho advocates of the war fail to grasp —they live there. To them, Afghanistan is not a battlefield but a home.
It’s their country, not ours. In increasingly clear language, Afghans are telling us to leave. We should listen and oblige.”
Cassi Creek:
          The former aggregation of warring tribes known as Afghanistan is located in a mountainous region of S.W. Asia.  It is difficult to reach and has little working infrastructure beyond the confines of national and provincial capital cities.  It is comprised of tribes dominated by warlords and mullahs, normally at war with each other, despite the proscription that Moslems should not kill other Moslems.  Many armies have been broken in Afghanistan, done in by the combination of logistics, altitude, and temporary cohesive behavior by the tribes, which temporarily hate the new invader more than they hate each other. 
          After the British left the Indian sub-continent at the end of WWII, divesting the Empire of a military task impossible of execution, and of the burden of their attempt to civilize and modernize tribes that were still content to live in the manner of the Caliphate; Afghanistan managed quite nicely to avoid becoming a modern state.  No other nation really cared very much about the people or the resources of Afghanistan until 1980, when the Soviet Union decided to exercise its next generation of generals on the nearest available target,
           What followed was a brutal invasion as only the Soviets could host, followed by a defeat of the Soviet Union that paralleled our loss in VietNam.  High technology war was beaten back by local forces.  As the Soviets left terrain seeded heavily with land mines, the store of modern infantry weapons in Afghanistan grew rapidly.  Between those stolen from the Soviets and those provided to proxy soldiers by U.S. agents and agencies, every male in the nation who wanted a rifle had one.  Civil war and neglect by the rest of the world bred a situation that allowed for the establishment of a brutal and primitive theocracy.  In such a place, Islamic fundamentalists were free to plot attacks on U.S. interests and soil. 
          Those attacks led to the U.S. becoming the latest nation to try to defeat a tribal enemy by means of modern military technology.  We’ve been at it for10 years now.  We’ve paid a fortune in bribes and baksheesh to various warlords and politicians who want nothing from us but guns and money.  We have tried to build a new nation, improve the social conditions for women, and to provide infrastructure where none existed. 
          The reality of Afghanistan is that it has no collective desire to become a modern state, to elevate the status of women, or to build new infrastructure.  The religious and civil leaders who control the country now are happy to keep it poor and backward as long as someone pays them to stay on top of the heap.  To build a modern nation of current Afghanistan we would literally have to pull it down, from the top down, and scrape it off the face of the planet.  Even then, when the U.S, finally said, “It’s done.” A new crop of warlords and mullahs would immediately begin the return to uncivilized, unsocial zed, tribal warfare. 
          There’s no hope for Afghanistan.  It is time to bring our troops home and watch the inevitable descent of what little infrastructure and civilization remains in Afghanistan into a fractured, hopeless sinkhole that lurks, waiting to take on the next army to venture into the Khyber Pass.
          Seeger wrote King Henry about VietNam.  I saw the truth of it there.  However, with a few date revisions, Simon can be a victim of any of our wars since the Cold War began.  We’ve become quite adept at flattening countries.

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