Thank God for the Whistle-Blowers

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What WikiLeaks
did was brilliant journalism, and the bleating critics from the
president on down are revealing just how low a regard they have
for the truth. As with Richard Nixon’s rage against the publication
of the Pentagon Papers, our leaders are troubled not by the prospect
of these revelations endangering troops but rather endangering their
own political careers. It is our president who unnecessarily sacrifices
the lives of our soldiers and not those in the press who let the
public in on the folly of the mission itself.

What the documents
exposed is the depth of chicanery that surrounds the Afghanistan
occupation at every turn because we have stumbled into a regional
quagmire of such dark and immense proportions that any attempt to
connect this failed misadventure with a recognizable U.S. national
security interest is doomed. What is revealed on page after page
is that none of the local actors, be they labeled friend or foe,
give a whit about our president’s agenda. They are focused
on prizes, passions and causes that are obsessively homegrown.

Our fixation
on al-Qaida has nothing to do with them. President Barack Obama’s
top national security adviser admitted as much when he said last
December that there were fewer than 100 of those foreign fighters
left in Afghanistan. Those who do remain in the region are hunkered
down in Pakistan, and as the leaked documents reveal, that nation
is just toying with us by pretending to cooperate while its intelligence
service continues to support our proclaimed enemies. As Gen. Stanley
McChrystal made clear in his famous report, the battles in Afghanistan
are tribal in nature and the agendas are local – be they about
drugs, religion or the economic power of military blackmail. The
documents contain a steady drumbeat of local hustles that are certainly
deadly but rise to the level of a national security threat against
the U.S. only when we insist on making their history our own.

It has ever
been so with the Afghans, and our continued attempt to bend their
passions to our purposes will always lead to horrid results. That
is, in fact, just how their nation came to be the launching pad
for the 9/11 attacks, which is the ostensible purpose of our occupation.
We meddled in their history in a grand Cold War adventure to humble
the Soviets by attacking the secular government in Kabul with which
Moscow sided.

When presidential
press secretary Robert Gibbs intones, “We are in this region
of the world because of what happened on 9/11,” he is mouthing
a dangerous half-truth. The opposite is the case: 9/11 happened
because the U.S. was in the region, and not the other way around.
Entanglement with Afghanistan has been based on a tissue of lies
since day one, when Jimmy Carter first decided to throw in with
the religious fanatics there, as current Secretary of Defense Robert
Gates revealed in his 1996 memoir. Gates had served on Carter’s
National Security Council and in his book exposed what the publisher
touted as “Carter’s never-before revealed covert support
to Afghan mujahedeen – six months before the Soviets invaded.”

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the rest of the article

July
31, 2010

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