Sunday, August 15, 2010

An "Afghanistan Study Group"?

Congressman Frank Wolf wants to boost public support for Afghanistan War

That's what Congressman Frank Wolf (R-VA), who wrote the bill creating the Iraq Study Group, is proposing. Gareth Porter discusses what that means for the politics of the Afghanistan War in Serial Denial and the Permanent War System Firedoglake Seminal 08/10/2010:

So now Wolf proposes the same kind of bipartisan study group that he says helped rebuild support for the Iraq war to come up with "fresh strategies" for the war in Afghanistan. Wolf makes no effort to hide his hope to "reinvigorate national confidence in how America can be successful" in Afghanistan.

Wolf is the poster child for the deep denial on U.S. wars practiced by a very large segment of the political elite. On one hand, his proposal is the clearest evidence of the desperation that has overtaken Washington about the palpable failure of Obama's war. But on the other hand, Wolf suggests that all we need is a group of "respected" war supporters to offer a new strategy for the Afghan War to be back on the road to victory again.

This refusal to face up to reality that the United States cannot succeed in Afghanistan, despite all the evidence to the contrary, suggests that something much deeper is going on here. Wolf and his fellow deniers in the political elite are not just refusing to give up on the specific war in Afghanistan. They are doing it because they are desperately clinging to the broader system of global military hegemony which impels the U.S. national security state to continue that war. [my emphasis]
Wolf's House office provides the text of his letter (Wolf Urges President Obama to Immediately Establish Afghanistan-Pakistan Study Group 08/04/2010), which includes a none-too-subtle threat of stab-in-the-back accusations that the Obama administration lost Afghanistan (to use an unholy phrase from earlier times):

I have heard it said that Vietnam was not lost in Saigon; rather, it was lost in Washington. While the Vietnam and Afghanistan parallels are imperfect at best, the shadow of history looms large. Eroding political will has consequences--and in the case of Afghanistan, the stakes could not be higher. A year ago, speaking before the Veterans of Foreign War National Convention, you rightly said, "Those who attacked America on 9/11 are plotting to do so again. If left unchecked, the Taliban insurgency will mean an even larger safe haven from which al Qaeda would plot to kill more Americans. So this is not only a war worth fighting...this is fundamental to the defense of our people." Indeed it is fundamental. We must soberly consider the implications of failure in Afghanistan. Those that we know for certain are chilling - namely an emboldened al-Qaeda, a reconstituted Taliban with an open staging ground for future worldwide attacks, and a destabilized, nuclear-armed Pakistan.

Given these realities and wavering public and political support, I urge you to act immediately, through executive order, to convene an Afghanistan-Pakistan Study Group modeled after the Iraq Study Group. The participation of nationally known and respected individuals is of paramount importance. Among the names that surfaced in my discussions with others, all of whom more than meet the criteria described above, are ISG co-chairs Baker and Hamilton; former Senators Chuck Robb, Bob Kerrey and Sam Nunn; former Congressman Duncan Hunter; former U.S. ambassador Ryan Crocker; former Secretary of Defense James Schlesinger, and General Keane. These names are simply suggestions among a cadre of capable men and women, as evidenced by the make-up of the ISG, who would be more than up to the task. [my emphasis]
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