Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Shattered McCrystal: The paragraph quoting Rolling Stone Magazine's article "The Runaway General" (link below) sums up a great deal of Obama's Afghanistan strategy and even his presidency:

"Today, as McChrystal gears up for an offensive in southern Afghanistan, the prospects for any kind of success look bleak. In June, the death toll for U.S. troops passed 1,000, and the number of IEDs has doubled. Spending hundreds of billions of dollars on the fifth-poorest country on earth has failed to win over the civilian population, whose attitude toward U.S. troops ranges from intensely wary to openly hostile. The biggest military operation of the year – a ferocious offensive that began in February to retake the southern town of Marja – continues to drag on, prompting McChrystal himself to refer to it as a "bleeding ulcer." In June, Afghanistan officially outpaced Vietnam as the longest war in American history – and Obama has quietly begun to back away from the deadline he set for withdrawing U.S. troops in July of next year. The president finds himself stuck in something even more insane than a quagmire: a quagmire he knowingly walked into, even though it's precisely the kind of gigantic, mind-numbing, multi-generational nation-building project he explicitly said he didn't want."

The things the President says he does not want like meaningless inadequate off shore ecologically catastrophic oil drilling, an expanded Vietnamesque Middle East war and its consequential civilian collateral damage death he gives a thumbs up. The things he said he DOES want like a public option health care, civil libertarian priorities like habeus corpus, support for Main Street against Wall Street with wholly revamped regulatory economic policy he, so far, folds. Mr. Obama stirs the pot of a soup he made. Can YOU figure him out? I'm STUMPED!

As for McCrystal's motives for what he said and Obama's response to it, the president is damned if he fires him and damned if he doesn't. The psychological etiology of McCrystal's verbal fire only he knows. Was his goal to embarrass the administration, voice dismay for its war strategy thereby hurting the US war effort or to get himself off the hook for its failure? I need to crawl into McCrystal's brain to figure that one out. One thing is clear he succeeded in doing most all of those things and both his military career and Obama's policy(ies), so far, are shattered glass.

Something or nothing: I have written much through the Obama campaign and during his first year as president. I was feverishly but enthusiastically writing. The emphasis was on the word enthusiasm and I felt it.

I have been stopped dead in my tracks. I write occasionally when the mood overcomes but as I sit here this morning and read the news I have become UNMOTIVATED. I was part of Obama's base and now I sit here with no enthusiasm. I'm STUCK. I'm stuck in a country that is STUCK right along with me. The oil monstrosity is a metaphor for a stuck nation. The problems are huge with their etiology in administrations past but the country has an extraordinarily short memory and our country's ills too immense for anyone to contemplate radical solutions. The country is poised in 2010 to possibly overturn Democratic majorities to do more of what – more of the same?

What this country can do VERY well is bomb the enemy de jour even if that nation is not really our enemy. Who cares? Show them how strong we CAN be. We are a can do nation after all – aren’t we? Heck some even want to nuke the oil leak. That’ll show it! Who cares about radiation from a nuke. We can take anything. While we are at it, let’s begin another risky drill but this time in the Arctic. I can hardly wait to view the fun and see how BP, of all companies, will drill thousands of miles down in rough seas, temperatures of below zero with 50 mph winds and drill it horizontally to boot! Wow what a blast (pardon the pun.)

Have we gone nationally mad? Tearing down is easy, building up oh so difficult and we, I believe, have lost our will. I diagnose this case as a case of severe national depression. We as a country and those in power are lost and do not know what to do. Worse we are utterly divided as to how to do anything. It is sad. Franklin and even Teddy Roosevelt may not have always done the right thing but they did SOME thing. A few of the electorate kicked and screamed but even they, it appeared, wanted the best for the nation and supported it despite disagreement. With the 24/7 news media talking heads talking at each other not with each other and rabid radio talk, it seems we cannot do even that now.

Either we raise our arms in hapless surrender, ineffective compromise, or we get out our "Don't Tread on Me" silly flag and threaten gun-toting nationalist revolution while dragging out old Jeffersonian quotes of a revolution every 20 years as if an eighteenth century Jefferson could envision a twenty first century nation of 300 million with many diverse and competing national and international interests.

Okay so someone begins this revolution then what? What will they build then? Who will they help -- NOTHING and NOBODY. We are in quick sand and we cannot get out. I understand the feeling. I feel it myself. It is a sad thing to watch, because this country usually at times of peril elects leadership with the ability to dig us out.
Mr. Obama, if you do not have the enthusiasm of your base what and who do you have -- Nothing and nobody. Nothing and not something is the operative word of the day!