Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Specter of Defeat Haunts Lisbon

Eric Margolis,, Nov 23, 2010
According to the US government, 41.8 million Americans now receive food stamps. Meanwhile, Washington is spending $7 billion monthly on its nine-year old occupation of Afghanistan, not to mention billions more on trying to build an obedient Afghan army and to pay of Pakistani politicians and general.

Last weekend, the US and its NATO allies met in Lisbon to try to hammer out a contradictory strategy that will keep western troops in Afghanistan indefinitely while assuaging public opinion in North America and Europe that wants the war to end. Most observers failed to note the historical irony that in the 1960’s and 70’s, Portugal had waged a long, debilitating colonial war to preserve its crumbling African empire that ended up nearly bankrupting the mother nation and ending for good its imperial pretensions. 

All the platitudes, doubletalk, synthetic optimism and fudging at the NATO summit could not conceal the fact that for all their soldiers, fighter aircraft, heavy bombers, tanks, helicopter gunships, armies of mercenaries, and wizardly electronic gear, the western powers are being slowly beaten by a bunch of lightly-armed Afghan farmers and mountain tribesmen. 

President Barack Obama again painfully showed he is not fully in charge of US foreign policy. His pledge to begin withdrawing some US troops from Afghanistan next July has been scornfully contradicted by US generals and resurgent Congressional Republicans. 

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