Afghanistan: Eight Years On & No Direction Home
Washington’s Axis of Confusion
By Paul Fitzgerald and Elizabeth Gould
‘Originally published on www.boilingfrogspost.com
We went to Washington to help launch the Afghan American Women’s Association established in honor of a lifetime of humanitarian achievements by Sima Wali. We came away with a clear picture that the women of Afghanistan will continue to have a strong, clear and uncompromising voice in Washington. In listening to the women of this Afghan/American partnership two things were clear: 1. No matter what happens with American foreign policy, Afghan/American women are not going back to the depredations visited upon them by a political system maddened by greed and its dreams of conquest. 2. Afghan/American women will no longer be fooled by politicians who promise democracy and reconstruction but deliver warlordism and corruption.
Our visit was also a chance to update first hand what was new and different in the administration’s AfPak policy from what had gone before. Washington has spent a lot of money in Afghanistan. American soldiers and civilians are dying there. October of this year has been the worst on record. But the debate, anchored as it is in Washington’s needs and perceptions and not Afghanistan’s, continues to circle the most critical issues without ever landing on solutions that might bring on a satisfactory close.
The U.S. has been at war in Afghanistan for eight years. But 9 months into the new administration Washington continues to plow along with a losing game plan and an absence of understanding about the nature of the war, how to end it, or even how to fight it.
The biggest part of the problem that Washington faces is Washington itself. It is now clearer than ever that Washington’s current policy derives from a military agenda and not a civilian one. In fact it may now be impossible for Washington to return to a government orchestrated strategy of nation-building anywhere after thirty years of privatized foreign policy and military buildup that favored profit driven development schemes at the expense of civil society. An entire industry now exists to lobby against any efforts to reverse the trend, change the status quo or even to make private contractors accountable for the taxpayer money they receive. A new book by Allison Stanger, titled “One Nation Under Contract,” outlines the dimensions of a problem where the private sector has become a “shadow government” operating outside the law with billions of federal dollars, but little to no accountability for how or where the money is spent.
At the Pentagon the problem runs even deeper. The national security state built up during the cold war was designed to protect the US and the west from a Soviet threat. The perceptions created to convey the illusions of strength and invulnerability became a substitute reality to which all others defaulted. Over time, “cold” war became a new normal, rarely challenged by that other normal called reality. But at its core, the new normal was an illusion, based on a phony war and supported by the communal belief that it was better than the cost and terror of a real war that would actually be fought and perhaps lost. Read the rest here:
This is an excellent piece coming from the two most knowledgeable experts on Afghanistan!