Bob Herbert observes that:“President Obama will face hard realities if he continues the war in Afghanistan.”
Yes, hard realities. A French documentary on the Second World War just came out on French public TV in a 6 hour series (now out on Blue Ray DVD). It’s called: Apocalypse”. It’s completely made of original documents (many from amateurs), refurbished. Quite a bit of it about Hitler, shot by his mistress and future wife, Eva Braun. The makers of the documentary observed how human Hitler looked as he got increasingly penetrated by the horror of the war, and made worried so sick he became completely broken from it, by the time of the battle of Kursk.
At Kursk, 600,000 Nazi soldiers, with the super Nazi tiger tanks, each worth ten times the best Allied tanks, led by the formidable general Manstein, tried a pincer battle that ought to have worked. But Stalin knew the exact detail of Nazi attack plan, day by day. That allowed him to concentrate his forces, and ambush Nazi advances, day after day.
The British has broken the Nazi code machines, the enigmas, and the Soviet spy network in the UK was first class. It is as if Stalin stood in the same room as the genius mathematicians, the colleagues of the logician Alan Turing.
General Manstein, the creator of the scythe move during the Battle of France (200,000 killed), thought there was still a chance at Kursk, because the Soviet losses had been enormous. He thought he could finish the encirclement, put the Red Army in the proverbial “kettle”.
But Hitler was broken, he had given up. Manstein found him “weak”. Hitler did not give Manstein the reserves he needed. The Red Army survived this very bad strategic posture it had been in, and soon was advancing with a vengeance. The moment had passed.
Soon enough Hitler, and many top Nazis became completely insane. They had been driven completely mad by the horror of it all, but they reacted by persevering in their error, becoming ever more evil. As Magda Goebbels poisoned her 6 small children she said that following Hitler in death was more than she could ever hope to get from life (Goebbels, the propaganda minister had succeeded Hitler as “Kanzler”). The banality of evil, Arendt would point out, if she saw those haunting sequences. The banality of evil, and the simplicity of madness.
The entire Nazi madness can be tracked from its origin in a number of completely erroneous, deeply held ideas. One of them, well entrenched in Nazi minds, was that the fate of civilization was to be defended by the moral position they took, whatever the cost. So doing they created the very fall of civilization they claimed to want to avoid at any cost.
In 1939, Hitler had grandly stated that the world was not going to die for Dantzig. But the French stood in the way. And the British were in the fine print. So Hitler had allied himself with Stalin, hoping to scare France. It had not worked. It was ever more downhill from this queer and inauspicious beginning.
All proportions kept, there is a bit of the same sort of hysterical rhetoric about Afghanistan. Sarkozy, Obama, have come out to say that civilization was in play there. But all I can see now is that Afghanistan is a colonial war, without the colons. Crazy stuff, but hardly what civilization dies from, except if fed by way too many lies for too long.
In Afghanistan Obama has zero understanding of the situation. He is completely at sea.
He quotes the Qur’an, as if he had studied it really deeply, while occasionally acting all surprised, about the same Qur’an, showing that, after all, he did not. Worse: nevertheless, he seems persuaded that he does have some sort of understanding. But, once again, he seems to be just doing what his plutocratic handlers told him was the serious thing to do. At this point, there is no Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. And it is not the Afghans who brought the Wahhabist fundamentalists from Arabia to Afghanistan. Nor is it the Afghans who armed bin Laden and his warriors: the CIA and the US Congress brought them there, and armed them.
To contradict bin Laden at this point is easy: just contradict his reading of sacred texts from Islam. More and more young people who would have followed bin Laden a few years ago are now having second thoughts, as they discover that bin Laden strategy, of Islamic fundamentalism, is leading them to sure defeat. be it only from lost opportunity.
At this point (not 7 years ago) the war in Afghanistan, and the way it is conducted, contradict the fundaments of Western civilization. The fact is that Western soldiers from countries with secular constitutions are dying for the Islamist constitution of Afghanistan. Obama says there are bad Muslims (the ones he views as “extremists”, and who, according to Obama, do not understand Islam) and good Muslims (those who live according to the parts of the Qur’an/Koran that Obama’s speech writers have selected for him). Obama wants to kill those he calls the “extremists”. Well, that’s a bit extreme.
In a side show, Obama wants to interdict farmers in Afghanistan to grow what he views as illicit plants. Never mind that he used to consume such plants himself (as everybody who went to Punahou and knew him will testify, I know more than a dozen of such people, and some extremely well). Well, that’s a bit more than hypocritical.
The whole bloody, hopeless conflict reeks of hypocrisy, and murder, because, after all, it’s a war. What for? Already? Bin Laden? Who employed bin Laden, historically speaking? Not the Taliban.
Mediocre minds say the war will be won, because Obama uses flying robots, and other high tech. Did they not watch the “Terminator” series of movies. Don’t they know the side of the robots is the side of those who have no morality? Don’t they know that the robots are on the side of those who are all about profits, and the easy certainty of those with very little spirituality and intelligence?
So why to keep on wasting moral and intellectual capital in Afghanistan? To have an excuse to make cuts in Medicare, because all the money went to kill Afghans that Obama found to be “extremist”? Is that not a bit extreme?
What about Afghans invading Washington with guns, helicopters, and bombing robots? Would that bring some “extremism” out too? Who is extreme?
P/S: The French had won militarily in Algeria, but they had hundreds of thousands (at least 450,000) men, millions of fanatical, secular supporters, out of a total population of 6 millions. Moreover a majority of the population had voted for the new constitution. Besides Algeria was France, etc. Still, France had to give up Algeria.
Afghanistan was never America, the population is around 35 millions, and there was never a fair election. Superiority of mechanical power is not how to win a war. For that, one needs superior moral power.