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Obama the War President

December 5, 2009 3:48 PM

On December 1, Obama announced he would support an escalation of the war in Afghanistan, with the deployment of tens of thousands more US troops, in a move reportedly similar to the Bush Iraq "surge" following Bush's replacement of Donald Rumsfeld with William Gates as Secretary of Defense. (Obama has kept Gates in that office.) What's in it for Obama to flout the pacifist Left in order to become a War President?

One answer, beloved by some conservatives, is that he has come to his senses by sticking to the Bush template that appears to have worked in Iraq: garner support of the locals, isolate and damage the militant Islamic "terrorists", train a local national army to keep them in retreat, and gradually pull out. The conservatives who back Obama's "surge" are counting on the Bush Iraq strategy to work in Afghanistan. Perhaps it will.

But perhaps it won't. Afghanistan is very different from Iraq, which was the "cradle of civilization" when it was known under its historical names Babylonia, Chaldea, and Mesopotamia. Afghanistan, on the other hand, is what geopolitical academics call a shatterbelt - a very evocative name of a belt between colliding empires where things fall apart.

It is precisely because Afghanistan is a shatterbelt that it provided a launch pad for the 9/11 assault on several of the 50 United States. The attack was orchestrated not by Afghans, but by the Saudi militants of Al-Qaeda, a private organization, an NGO as it were, funded by Muslims worldwide, but tied to the Saudi brand of militant Islam. Al-Qaeda was allowed to operate in Afghanistan at the pleasure of the Taliban, another militant Islamic jihad organization, but one quite different from Al-Qaeda other than the shared objective of killing infidels and demonizing the West.

The Taliban is at present a quasi-governmental organization primarily of a people called the Pashtuns, otherwise known as the Pathans or the Afghans. Pashtuns are not Arabs like the Saudis. Some even claim to be descendants of the lost tribes of Israel. The language of the Pashtuns and their heritage is much closer to Iranians than to Arabs. A Pashtun tribe once even ruled briefly over the entire nation of Iran. It is an error to lump Pashtuns together with Arabs just because they share the Muslim religion and some of them are advocates of violent jihad.

The territory (that is, the nation that Obama wants to build) of Afghanistan means "the land of the Afghans," which means "the land of the Pashtuns." Now, I will say right here that I have nothing against Pashtuns as Pashtuns. They are merely one more nation in the world family of nations. In Fremont, California, there are many Pashtuns living there, doing well as Americans, and are just as nice as anyone else. But the Pashtuns who are still back in the shatterbelt are having a rough time, and attracting a lot of negative attention.

The Taliban government once ruled all of Afghanistan until George W. Bush mobilized an international force to smash Taliban power in the wake of the 9/11 assault on the USA. One problem is that Pashtuns, who may have originally come from the Pakistan area, are numerous in Pakistan as well as Afghanistan, and they move back and forth in the mountainous terrain. There are strongholds of Taliban Pashtuns in Pakistan, who are being fought, with some difficulty, by the Pakistan army. The name "Taliban," by the way, just means "students" in the language of the Pashtuns: evidently students of those parts of the Quran that push a hard line against infidels and mellow Muslims.

One might therefore summarize the objectives of Generals Petraeus and McChrystal, Secretary Gates, and President Obama, as getting the Taliban, at least the Afghanistan territory Taliban, to soften their line on fighting infidels to the point that they are no longer a threat to the USA. Hey, maybe it'll work.

I do believe that Obama genuinely supports such a goal, because although in his rhetoric Bush is the root of all evil, Bush has been the most successful so far getting militant Iraqi Sunni Muslims to tone it down (somewhat). In the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. I therefore think that Obama, who appears to know little about history (certainly the history of the decline of socialism) has put his trust in the Bush approach to Sunni Islamic militancy, although he doesn't dare come right out and say it. To the contrary, he blames Bush for the Afghanistan mess, without saying that he want to use Bush military strategy to clean in up.

But are there other reasons why Obama has become a War President? I think so. For one thing it bolsters his image as a centrist. "Me? A socialist?" he seems to be saying as he puts the pedal to the metal with his semi-stealth socialist agenda. Gung-ho Taliban-crushing conservatives seem to be impressed.

But there is an even more compelling reason for Obama to become a War President. He considers himself an incarnation of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Just as George W. Bush finished the Iraq war started by his father, Obama wants to finish the war against American capitalism started by FDR and his brain trust.

FDR gave us the mixed economy and extended the Welfare State begun by the Progressives of the Progressive Era, the folks called fascists by Jonah Goldberg in his book "Liberal Fascism." Obama wants to give us full-fledged socialism of the kind that he learned about from his parents and from his professors and colleagues. How, then, did FDR succeed in his mission?

Simple: FDR became a War President. A big-spending War President, as they all must be. The war, of course, was World War II. It wasn't until the war was over that the USA finally recovered from the Great Depression and the post-war boom and Baby Boom began. Of course, the Great Depression began in 1929 and WWII didn't end until 1946, 17 years and many millions of deaths later.

But hey, if you want an omelet, you've got to break a few eggs.

[Keywords: impeach-them-all.org afghanistan bush obama pashtuns president taliban war ]