Posted tagged ‘concern about benefits of Afghan conflict’

Confused In And About Afghanistan

July 30, 2010

I admit to being stymied on the political front this week, particularly as it relates to the issue of Wikileaks, Julian Assange, and the U.S. war in Afghanistan.

First, I must confess to a knee-jerk dislike of Mr. Assange.  His face bears (to my mind) an unmistakeable imprint of narcissism.  His statement about wanting to crush bastards strikes me as, well, arrogant.  The whole notion of someone being able to leak 92,000 classified documents, and Wikileaks publishing them, is worrisome (and kind of repugnant).  I understand whistle-blowing and uncovering cover-ups, but so far, the documents do not seem to be truly revelatory.  The war is not going well;  the goals are confused;  our “friends” – the Pakistani and Afghani governments – don’t really like or trust us, and we would be stupid to trust them.  Does this actually surprise anyone?

Can there ever be a true handing over of power in this area?  Possibly, hopefully, but it is doubtful that the handees will have the same priorities and goals as we do.  (Any gains in women’s rights, for example, seem unlikely to be safeguarded, and bases for terrorists seem likely to continue in force.)

Putting questions relating specifically to the leaked documents aside – questions of their benefits, the morality of leaking, the mantle of self-aggrandizement of the publishers- they heighten the focus on the Afghan conflict.  So what about it?

For my part, I hate war.  When Bush first announced the invasion, I wept.  But (call me partisan),  I cannot believe that Obama has continued the conflict carelessly.  I just can’t accept that the guy who went to Dover so soberly in the middle of the night reinforced the war effort because he did not want to seem insufficiently macho, or tough on terrorism, or inconsistent.   While I certainly worry that Obama could have been over-influenced by the sanguine hopes (or despairing predictions)  of military advisors, I have to believe that Obama himself (and even most of these advisors) are sincere in thinking something good or, at least, necessary can result from this conflict.

(What really scares me though is that, if push came to shove, I’d probably have to say the same thing about Bush;  that, for all my disagreement with him, he thought something good or necessary was to be gotten from these wars.)

Which means that I’m not willing to accept Assange’s characterization of all those involved as “bastards.”  At the same time I also know that if I had a child killed or injured in Afghanistan (God forbid), I would not be able to understand why.  My grief would not be mitigated by some sense of meaning, my distress would not be comforted.