Afghanistan in Disarray
By Staff News & Analysis - July 05, 2010

Jon Fleischman Is Latest GOP Official To Criticize Afghan War … In a private email provided to the Huffington Post, a vice chairman of the California Republican Party questioned the value of continuing the 9-year war in Afghanistan in light of its heavy costs to American taxpayers. Jon Fleischman, a political consultant and veteran GOP official in California, was writing in response to an op-ed calling on Michael Steele to resign as chairman of the Republican National Committee over his criticism of the war last week. "For what it is worth, I'm an officer with the CA Republican Party and I can't figure out what we are achieving in Afghanistan, at least not for the economic cost to US Taxpayers," Fleischman wrote on Friday. "Since I am not particularly isolationist, it means my government is failing to communicate well." It is the latest evidence that the U.S. mission in Afghanistan, which once garnered near-universal support from Republicans, has now become a source of ideological dissension at the highest ranks of the party. – Huffington Post

Dominant Social Theme: Much confusion, but it is necessary to fight on.

Free-market Analysis: We have written many articles about the Afghan war recently because it has turned into something of a defining moment for Western hegemony. During the Cold War, the Anglo-American version of Western regulatory democracy could not be spread around the whole world. But with the collapse of the Soviet Union, this political system began to be promulgated everywhere. Even Russia and China partake of it to some degree.

The system is so attractive for elites because it has immeasurable benefits for the small handful pulling the levers of the state. It has been worked and reworked to the Nth degree, until it is rightly (what one American general recently called) "government in a box" a portmanteau of regulatory endeavor. But let us explain this box. In fact, what is inside is regulatory democracy, a well-thought yet viciously anti-democratic political system that relies on fraud to maintain legitimacy.

The system, in fact, claims to be legitimate through the ruse of popular voting; but such voting is eventually so controlled and the candidates so homogenized that the results are ineffective at best. The upshot is a system that generally and continually eviscerates the free-market by producing public services that degrade living conditions; it initiates taxes that rise to unbearable proportions; its money inflates into economic ruin. Meanwhile, over time, power is concentrated into fewer and fewer hands while more and more, in desperation, are subject to military and penal authoritarianism.

The system increasingly is held in place by media propaganda, domestic spying, a prison-industrial complex and endless amounts of central-bank initiated inflation. Nonetheless, because none of this is made overtly apparent to people who live within its grasp, many do not fully seem to understand the ramifications of regulatory democracy or its inevitable authoritarian destination.

Within the Muslim world, there has been one warrior tribe of significant size that has proven entirely resistant to the blandishment of elite corruption and Western-style regulatory democracy. This tribe is the Pashtuns of Afghanistan and Pakistan. It has roots that seem to go back thousands of years. It is to some degree a warrior tribe that resists central government, has its own traditions and has maintained its independence from Western-style "government in a box."

The Anglo-American axis has rightly perceived of the Pashtuns as a great stumbling block to worldwide acceptance of regulatory democracy. The British apparently fought them for 50 years in the 1800s. With the fall of the USSR and the subsequent adaption of the Chinese Communist government to certain aspects of Western regulatory democracy, the Pashtuns remain perhaps the single unpacified global entity.

The rationales for why the West is waging a war in Afghanistan have varied over time. Initially, the attack was launched on the Taliban in Afghanistan for harboring Osama bin Laden who supposedly blew up the World Trade Towers. However, there has never emerged any substantive, fully proven information that bin Laden was responsible for taking down the towers, and he himself denied it.

The Taliban reportedly were willing to hand over bin Laden if proof was provided by the US, but such proof was apparently not forthcoming. Meanwhile, members of the 9/11 Commission have serially accused the Bush administration and its various instrumentalities including the FBI, CIA and Pentagon of lying about a what went on during 9/11. The entire narrative seems in some sense compromised and lacking cohesiveness as an honest rationale for attacking Afghanistan.

There are yet more problems with the narrative. Donald Rumsfeld, then Secretary of Defense, claimed that bin Laden operated out of massively fortified caves, but these caves were never found, nor were many Al Qaeda soldiers. A fairly recent BBC television program even claimed both the Taliban and Al Qaeda were in some sense facilitated by Western intelligence agencies.

Since that time in the early 2000s, the rationale for waging war in Afghanistan has morphed in many ways. The Bush administration let the war wind down to a degree while it fought in Iraq. But under President Barack Obama, the war has heated back up again. Why is the US continually willing to spend so much additional blood and treasure to remain in Afghanistan?

With the recent American changing of the guard in Afghanistan, the pronouncements of various American leaders have become more resolute as regards prosecuting the war. The AP, for instance, reports the following, "'We are in this to win,' Gen. David Petraeus said as he took the reins of an Afghan war effort troubled by waning support, an emboldened enemy, government corruption and a looming commitment to withdraw troops — even with no sign of violence easing." Meanwhile, the UK Telegraph just yesterday reported similar sentiments from a British perspective:

Afghanistan: British commander in Helmand believes troops need to stay 10 years … The British officer commanding operations in the most dangerous part of Helmand has warned that Nato may need to stay militarily engaged in Afghanistan for a full 10 years. … The British Army's view since the start of their deployment in Helmand has been that defeating the Taliban, and building up Afghan forces, will be a long-term undertaking, perhaps lasting many years. "We are here to create time and space for governance to take hold," said Lt Col James. "That's much more decisive than fighting Taliban. It just takes hellishly long unless you have the right force density – that's my concern, that we might be here 10 years rather than five years. But we need to see this through."

As we have written before, the war is important to the Anglo-American elite not because of commodities or because of a pipeline or even because the CIA has access to poppies and resultant drug money. Such rationales are besides the point. The stakes are much higher and have to do with eventual, successful implementation of regulatory democracy around the world. If the Anglo-American/NATO axis can stay the course, the payoff will be extraordinary.

But we have questions. The war in Afghanistan, more even then other wars of the recent past, is an elite war, not a war that Western citizens are much engaged in. The elite in our view is attempting to build global governance at an inopportune time. The global economic crisis (see other article) is likely worse than expected. Meanwhile, the tools of total war and media control are conspicuously lacking. Nuclear weapons and the Internet have seen to that.

There should be no doubt that we are not big fans of the direction that the West is headed. The regulatory democracy that has evolved out of the West's far more palatable classical liberalism is increasingly authoritarian and destructive. People have neither jobs nor hope, and there are no solutions that can likely be extracted from the current system. It is in fact, increasingly, a profoundly immoral system and for this reason we question whether the West will have the ethical, economic and sociopolitical capital to fight on for as long as it takes to pacify the Pashtuns and bring regulatory democracy to Afghanistan.

After Thoughts

We have mentioned in the past that one option the Western elite has is to radically expand the war, perhaps by attacking Iran. But we are not sure this fundamentally changes the difficulties of prosecuting either the hot war in Afghanistan or the increasingly warm one in Iraq. In any event, these are important issues. The Afghan war is about far more than terrorism. It is a fight that may define the soul and substance of an increasingly degraded Western culture for decades to come. It will also, likely have an impact on the credibility of the current Western system of governance.

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