- By Robert Dreyfuss
Iraq had its Haditha. Now, Afghanistan has its Panjwai.
Burning babies—yes, it has come to this.
Following routine bombings of wedding parties, hundreds killed in unchecked “night raids” by US Special Forces, the murders by the scandalous “kill team” in 2010, and, this year, the digitally recorded urination onto dead Afghans by Americans in uniform—not to mention the Koran burnings last month—it’s clear that there’s no hope of success for the “mission.” Whatever that is.
The massacre of sixteen Afghans by a US soldier on Sunday, including many children, is certain to inflame anti-occupation feeling in Afghanistan, send recruits into the Taliban and harden the opposition to a long-term treaty with the United States among politicians. It is also the death knell for President Obama’s plan to organize a dignified, orderly exit from the war. Forget an organized transfer to Afghan security forces in 2014—yes, that would be the selfsame Afghan security forces whose personnel are, more and more, assassinating US officers and enlisted men. If Obama has any sense whatsoever, he’ll accelerate the American pullout from Afghanistan this year, after the drawdown of 30,000 surge forces is complete in September.
Getting out of Afghanistan quickly, which could be announced before the election in November, is a guaranteed winner for Obama.
Even Newt Gingrich has gotten the message. Said Newt:
I think it’s very likely that we have lost—tragically lost the lives and suffered injuries to a considerable number of young Americans on a mission that we’re going to discover is not doable. Look at the things that are going on around the region and then ask yourself, ‘Is this, in fact, a harder, deeper problem that is not going to be susceptible to military force, at least not military forces in the scale we are prepared to do?’
Although only one soldier, a staff sergeant, is in custody, Afghan eyewitnesses say that several troops were involved in the massacre, and that they were “drunk and laughing.”
Reports the National Journal, a centrist, establishment publication:
Recent events in Afghanistan, including Sunday’s horrific shooting of Afghan civilians by a U.S. soldier, are not just going to alter U.S. strategy there. They are very likely to upend it. Even before the latest tragedy, President Obama was trying to expedite his way out of that quagmire, which is already the longest war in American history, as he faced a tough fight at home for re-election. Now Obama is likely to only speed things up further.
The Journal concludes:
All of which illustrates a tragic truth: even after ten years into this war, one that has cost nearly 1,800 U.S. dead, 15,000 wounded, and some $400 billion, forward progress is barely discernible and relations with America’s two chief allies, the Afghanistan and Pakistan governments, are worse than they have ever been. And that is why both administration officials and members of Congress are saying it’s time to go.
John McCain, taking a break from demanding that the United States bomb Syria and Iran, says that Obama shouldn’t give up in Afghanistan:
I understand the frustration, and I understand the anger and the sorrow. I also understand and we should not forget that the attacks on the United States of America on 9/11 originated in Afghanistan.
But of course the United States has killed more people in Afghanistan than died on 9/11 dozens of times over.
The Washington Post reports that even Republicans have turned against the war, finally, and in a new poll it concludes that a large majority of Americans want out:
Overall, 60 percent of Americans believe the war has not been worth the loss in life and expense, according to the Post-ABC News poll, which was conducted Wednesday through Saturday, before Sunday’s attack in Kandahar province. There has been consistent majority opposition to the war for nearly two years.
A war that never should have started in 2001 now must come to a rapid end.