creators.com opinion web
Liberal Opinion Conservative Opinion
Jim Hightower
Jim Hightower
27 Aug 2014
Rick Perry's Clown Show

Trial lawyers will tell you that any good prosecutor could convince a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich. Well,… Read More.

20 Aug 2014
What we've Paid for War and Afghanistan and Iraq

War is Hell. Major General Harold Greene could certainly tell you all about that — but, sadly, he's dead.… Read More.

13 Aug 2014
What's Wrong With the GOP's "Hell no" Faction

Ah, August — that time of year when the going gets tough ... and Congress gets going. On vacation that is.… Read More.

Obama's Triple Surge Into Afghanistan

Comment

Hi-ho, hi-ho, it's off to war we go!

As President Barack Obama begins winding down the Bush war in Iraq, he is building up his own war farther east. We're told that it will be a new, expanded, extra-special American adventure in Afghanistan, involving a vigorous surge strategy to "stabilize" this perpetually unstable land.

The initial surge will add 17,000 troops to the 36,000 already there. Then, later this year, there is to be a second troop surge of another 17,000 or so. This mass of soldiers is expected to be deployed to a series of new garrisons to be built in far-flung regions of this impoverished, rural, mostly illiterate warlord state that is ruled by hundreds of fractious, heavily armed tribal leaders. We're not told how much this escalation will cost, but it will at least double the $2 billion a month that American taxpayers are already shelling out for the Afghan war.

The extra-special part of this effort is to come from a simultaneous "civilian surge" of hundreds of U.S. economic development experts. "What we can't do," said Obama in an interview last Sunday, "is think that just a military approach in Afghanistan is going to be able to solve our problems." To win the hearts (and cooperation) of the Afghan people, this development leg of the operation will try to build infrastructure (roads, schools, etc.), create new crop alternatives to lure hardscrabble farmers out of poppy production and generally lift the country's bare-subsistence living standard.

What Obama has not mentioned is that, in addition to soldiers and civilians, there is a third surge in his plan: private military contractors. Yes, another privatized army, such as the one in Iraq. There, the Halliburtons, Blackwaters and other war profiteers ran rampant, shortchanging our troops, ripping off taxpayers, killing civilians and doing deep damage to America's good name.

Already, there are 71,000 private contractors operating in Afghanistan, and many more are preparing to deploy as Pentagon spending ramps up for Obama's war. The military is now offering new contracts to security firms to provide armed employees (aka, mercenaries) to guard U.S.

bases and convoys. Despite the widespread contractor abuses in Iraq, Pentagon chief Robert Gates defends the ongoing privatization push: "The use of contractor security personnel is vital to supporting the forward-operating bases in certain parts of the country," he declared in a February letter to the Senate Armed Services Committee.

What the gentle war secretary is really saying is this: "We don't have a draft, and I don't see a lot of senators' kinfolks volunteering to put their butts on the line in Afghanistan, so I've gotta pay through the nose to find enough privateers to guard America's Army in this forbidding place."

Meanwhile, here's an interesting twist to Obama's contractor surge: the for-hire guards protecting our bases and convoys will not likely be Americans. The Associated Press has reported that of the 3,847 security contractors in Afghanistan, only nine are U.S. firms.

Actually, being an American contractor is not a plus in the eyes of the Afghan people, for they've had bitter experiences with them. They point to DynCorp, a Virginia-based contractor that got nearly a billion dollars in 2006 to train Afghan police. The bumbling "Inspector Clouseau" of comic fame could've done a better job. At least he might have amused the people.

What they got from DynCorp was a bunch of highly paid American "advisors" who were unqualified and knew nothing about the country. Some 70,000 police were to be trained, but less than half that number actually went through the ridiculous eight-week program, which included no field training.

A 2006 U.S. report on the DynCorp trainees deemed them to be "incapable of carrying out routine law enforcement work." Meanwhile, no one knows how many of the trainees ever reported for duty, or what happened to thousands of missing trucks and other pieces of police equipment that had been issued for the training.

The punch line of this joke is that DynCorp got another contract ($317 million) last August to "continue training civilian police forces in Afghanistan."

Excuse me for saying it, but Obama is about to sink us — and his presidency — into a mess.

To find out more about Jim Hightower, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2009 CREATORS SYNDICATE INC.



Comments

4 Comments | Post Comment
some people get paid to sit on ther butt and write things they know little about. some people get paid to go to hostile environments and try to establish some sort of justice in a out-law atmosphere. not every thing is working properly, but the story is much deeper that this article. the evolution of america didnt just happen overnight..
Comment: #1
Posted by: ares
Wed Mar 25, 2009 10:13 PM
Time to get Pete Seeger back to the National Mall, and everybody sing along:
(to the chorus of This Land is Your Land)
These are the good wars, Obama's good wars
Those dead Afghanis, they had it coming
And if Iran won't do like we tell them...
These wars were made for you and me!
Comment: #2
Posted by: Thomas O. Anderson
Thu Mar 26, 2009 9:02 AM
Would somebody please explain why ONLY WE are the ones who keep doing this stuff all over the world? We just got rid of w after 8 long years of digging ourselves in deeper and deeper while the rest of the world sat back in shock and awe, and here we are DOING IT AGAIN. Whatever happened to that work-with-the-rest-of-the-world philosophy President Obama did such a fantastic job of selling to the American electorate?
Comment: #3
Posted by: Masako
Sun Mar 29, 2009 1:29 PM
Since the days of the Russian author Lermontov, that part of the world in AFghanistan as well as the area around the Black Sea have been perilous, precarious, unsafe and unhalthy for interlopers, which
Americans as were the Russians, probably considered to be. Kennedy interloped into Viet Nam and Johnson stuck it out to his bad political fortrune and ours too. Why can't these guys see just one time to stay the hell out and to hell with those who are going to bitch anyway about their timidity? The "blood-dimmed tide is loosed" again, if I understand the words of Yeats. "The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of pasionate intensity." I was hoping for better from Obama. Still he is not Dubya, I'm happy to say.
Comment: #4
Posted by: nicktoyeas
Mon Mar 30, 2009 2:17 PM
Already have an account? Log in.
New Account  
Your Name:
Your E-mail:
Your Password:
Confirm Your Password:

Please allow a few minutes for your comment to be posted.

Enter the numbers to the right:  
Creators.com comments policy
More
Jim Hightower
Aug. `14
Su Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa
27 28 29 30 31 1 2
3 4 5 6 7 8 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30
31 1 2 3 4 5 6
About the author About the author
Write the author Write the author
Printer friendly format Printer friendly format
Email to friend Email to friend
View by Month
Walter Williams
Walter E. WilliamsUpdated 3 Sep 2014
Froma Harrop
Froma HarropUpdated 2 Sep 2014
Marc Dion
Marc DionUpdated 1 Sep 2014

15 Aug 2012 Black Liquor Moonshine

6 Nov 2013 Can Wall Street Buy Redemption?

9 Jan 2013 Why Does a University Need a CMO?