Lt. General Stanley A. McChrystal, our top man in Afghanistan, has asked for more troops to feed into the meat grinder, warning that if he doesn't get them, we will lose the war in that God-forsaken land of peaks and gorges where most of the population still resides in the eighth century.
There is a faint whiff of Verdun about the whole Afghanistan mess except for the fact that unlike that ghastly World War I conflict when there were two sides involved — France and Germany — both endlessly feeding their men into the meat grinder over one objective, there is only one — us — in Afghanistan feeding humans into the carnage. The other side doesn't linger. They hit and run, leaving increasing numbers of Americans sons, husbands, and fathers lying dead.
History teaches us that great empires have been humiliated by a rag-tag collection of guerilla warriors who live to kill unwelcome armies seeking to subjugate them and drive them into modern times where they do not want to live. Their will is indomitable. They will fight to the last man — an outcome from which their invaders shrink away.
We are told that those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it, and that truth is never more urgent than it is in our latest adventure in nation building. As I have written previously, we have neither the will nor the resources to prevail in the elongated struggle our war in Afghanistan demands.
The question is not whether we can ultimately win in Afghanistan, but instead, whether it is worth the ultimate cost. And clearly it is not.
There is blame to be assessed for our present dilemma but it does not ultimately lie with whichever administration got us into this ungodly mess. To pinpoint that blame, we have to consider why we have allowed ourselves to get so deeply involved in an area of the world where the customs and conditions are the exact opposite of our own. We are strangers in a strange land, often stumbling blindly into hostile geography. How hostile? Google Earth to see the place and gasp.
Aside from our concern for the safety of Israel, our only real ally in the region, the real reason we are there — the reason nobody wants to admit — is oil. We wouldn't give a hoot in hell about what happens in the Middle East if it wasn't for all that crude petroleum atop which our turban-wearing neighbors sit.
Stop and ask yourself if our involvement in the Middle East is worth the cost because the lands of Araby are the only source of crude. Do we not have a smidgen or two of the slimy liquid beneath our hemispheres? Or maybe a whole host of smidgens? And if we do, why the hell must we endlessly sacrifice our sons and fathers and our national treasure to the point of bankruptcy to go abroad and buy somebody else's petroleum?
Let me admit that I don't have any idea of how much crude — discovered and undiscovered — lies beneath our soil or waters, but I'm told by people who know that there are vast amounts in the continental United States and in Alaska, much of which is being exploited by our friends and our foes but kept off limits to us to protect such critters as caribou or snail darters, whatever the hell they are, or somebody's ocean or landscape views.
Looking at it from that standpoint, we are forced to conclude that our real foes in the battle for oil, vital to our national well-being, are those elites who fancy themselves as the guardians of our sacred environment over which they alone presume to preside.
We had better ask ourselves if we are willing to sacrifice our sons and fathers and husbands to ensure the safety and well-being of a host of snail darters and other such critters, or somebody's seascape view.
I'm not. Like the kid in the classic New Yorker cartoon who responds to his mother's demand that he eat his asparagus by saying "I say it's spinach and I say the hell with it," I say it's insane to stay in Afghanistan and I say the hell with it.
Let's get out while the getting out is good. And drill, baby, drill!
Phil Brennan writes for Newsmax.Com. He is editor and publisher of Wednesday on the Web and was Washington columnist (Cato) for National Review magazine in the 1960s. He is a trustee of the Lincoln Heritage Institute and a member of the Association For Intelligence Officers.
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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