Is Afghanistan "going south?" Liberals are deserting President Obama on Afghanistan, according to Jeff Stein's "Spy talk" at CQ Politics. And I may join them. Now that we are leaving Iraq, things are not going well in President Obama's military or diplomatic efforts in the war that really matters to this administration. It is not yet clear what our true purpose is in the region. Where is NATO? And what happens when contractors outnumber the military?
The State Department was questioned Wednesday by reporters regarding a bizarre report about a contractor scandal in Kabul. It turns out that security at the U.S. embassy in Kabul is a cruel joke played on the State Department by a private contracting firm, ArmorGroup, evidently operating without supervision from anyone. Informed Comment's Juan Cole says it for us with this quote:
I can't understand why the US army isn't assigned to tasks like guarding the embassy; why farm that task out to geriatric frat boys? The cult of private contracting, which is promoted in the name of a free market but is actually a kind of socialism, is bankrupting the US government-- and we aren't even getting our money's worth.
Multiple questions remain about the recent elections in Afghanistan. Was it a fraud? Was it stolen? Who would be the rightful President? What can the United Nations do about it? Who will conrtol the provinces? Is the high level of corruption insurmountable?
A new question about Afghanistan was raised by a Reuters story Thursday from the GlobalPost: "Are U.S. taxpayers funding the Taliban?" To quote the intro, "The United States Agency for International Development has opened an investigation into allegations that its funds for road and bridge construction in Afghanistan are ending up in the hands of the Taliban, through a protection racket for contractors." Congressman Bill Delahunt (D-Mass.) promised to hold hearings in the fall.
Serious questions were raised by a current story in Mother Jones Magazine "A Few Good Kids?" written by David Goodman. Recruitment into the Armed Services is a well organized activity, too organized it seems. In summary: "How the No Child left behind Act allowed military recruiters to collect info on millions of unsuspecting teens." To quote further:
. . . the recruiters [know a student's] email address, Social Security number, or details about his ethnicity, shopping habits, or college plans. Yet they probably knew all that, too. In the past few years, the military has mounted a virtual invasion into the lives of young Americans. Using data mining, stealth websites, career tests, and sophisticated marketing software, the Pentagon is harvesting and analyzing information on everything from high school students' GPAs and SAT scores to which video games they play. Before an Army recruiter even picks up the phone to call a prospect . . . the soldier may know more about the kid's habits than do his own parents.
Questions regarding the future of the war in Afghanistan will not go away. Many of the problems are clearly leftovers from the Bush administrations mishandling of both wars in the Middle East and South Asia. But that is not an excuse that will hold forever. Congress and the President must decide reasonable foreign policy goals that are achievable and over which oversight can be done. The U.S. government does not have very long to answer these mounting questions.[Post date - September 3, 2009]
See also Behind the Links, for further info on this subject.
Blogs: My general purpose/southwest focus blog is at Southwest Progressive. My creative website is at Making Good Mondays. And Carol Gee - Online Universe is the all-in-one home page for all my websites.