Obama Administration Commits America to Troops in Afghanistan Until 2024

America and Afghanistan have reached a “bilateral security agreement” to keep troops in Afghanistan until 2024.

Discussions leading up to the agreement were marked by what at least one article terms “brinksmanship” over whether or not the United States would apologize for actions in the recent Afghan war. We stood tough on that. No apology.

However, our government has committed us — meaning you and me — to continue spending billions of dollars in Afghanistan for at least the next 10 years. If past is prelude, this agreement is actually an agreement in perpetuity. World War II was over in 1945, and the Cold War ended in 1989, but we still have troops in Europe. And Japan. And the Philippines. And … well … everywhere we can have them.

I realize that Afghanistan may be a special case. I do not want it used again as a staging base for further attacks on America. For that reason, it may actually be in the interests of the American people, and in the interests of “keeping us safe,” to extend the time we have a military presence there.

However, the budget deficit is a serious threat to our national security, as well.

If we keep troops in Afghanistan, what are we going to cut elsewhere?

The talk in certain political circles is all about raiding social security and closing down medicare to “balance” the budget. The people are who are doing this are actually engaging in a ruse. The reason for raiding social security (and other retirement plans) is not to balance the budget. It is to drain the last big pool of available money into the coffers of special interests.

There is no way we can even begin to balance our national budget without bringing an end to the real “entitlement” that is draining our public coffers, and that is corporate welfare. The biggest pork barrel out there is military spending. Military spending has gone far beyond what is needed to keep this country safe and has become an economic anvil around our necks that is going to sink us.

It is an endless trough where the corporate hogs feed. Instead of building the roads, public transportation and goods that this country needs to stay strong, our major industry has become endless war.

No one seems to ask the question: If generations of people living off welfare become habituated to the dole and lose ambition and incentive and settle into non-productive mire, what happens to corporations that do the same thing?

Should we keep troops in Afghanistan to stop it from reverting to a staging area for further attacks on America? Perhaps. I honestly don’t know for sure. However, if we do that, we need to cut military expenditures in another area. Either that, or we should all get ready for a future of extreme personal poverty and deprivation.

From the New York Times:

WASHINGTON — Secretary of State John Kerry announced on Wednesday that the United States and Afghanistan had finalized the wording of a bilateral security agreement that would allow for a lasting American troop presence through 2024 and set the stage for billions of dollars of international assistance to keep flowing to the government in Kabul.

The deal, which will now be presented for approval by an Afghan grand council of elders starting on Thursday, came after days of brinkmanship by Afghan officials and two direct calls from Mr. Kerry to President Hamid Karzai, including one on Wednesday before the announcement.

Just the day before, a senior aide to Mr. Karzai had said the Afghan leader would not approve an agreement unless President Obama sent a letter acknowledging American military mistakes during the 12-year war. But on Wednesday, Mr. Kerry emphatically insisted that a deal was reached with no American apology forthcoming.

“President Karzai didn’t ask for an apology. There was no discussion of an apology,” Mr. Kerry said. “I mean, it’s just not even on the table.”

After a war that stands as the longest in American history, the security agreement defines a training and counterterrorism mission in Afghanistan lasting at least 10 more years and involving 8,000 to 12,000 troops, mostly American.

Despite the sometimes harsh criticism from Afghan officials during the negotiations, the agreement includes concessions that the Obama administration could not win from Iraq during a similar process in 2011, leading to the final withdrawal of American troops there.

Now, the United States has at least an initial agreement from Afghan officials that American soldiers will not face Afghan prosecution in the course of their duties. And United States Special Operations forces will retain leeway to conduct antiterrorism raids on private Afghan homes — a central American demand that Afghan officials had resisted and described as the last sticking point in negotiations.

 

9/11: Here’s Something I Don’t Want to Write About

Bin laden

 

9/11.

What a bitter cup.

It appears this nation will drink it to the dregs.

And then lick the cup.

As far as I’m concerned, the best moment of this whole thing was when I heard that Osama bin Laden was dead. Dead and dumped into the ocean to swim with the fishes.

I have no use for murdering monsters.

9/11 cost this country dearly. We have given up so much freedom to these murdering monsters. We are surveilled and patted down and searched; not to mention the lost lives, arms, legs and emotional wholeness of those we sent to fight this evil for us.

I remember the morning of 9/11. I watched the second plane hit the second tower and I knew; this was not random and it was not an accident. I heard that the Pentagon had been hit. I saw the towers fall. I heard there was another plane that had crashed.

And that was the miracle.

Once we saw through their lies, they couldn’t even handle our unarmed civilians. That planeload of people on Flight 93 fought back with boiling water and a food tray and they took those terrorists out on their way to destroy the Capitol.

That crash into the Pennsylvania countryside was the beginning of our resistance. It was the first time they faced Americans who knew the truth of who they were. It was the indicator of how badly they had miscalculated who we are and what we will do if war is forced upon us.

I was in the mood to do whatever after 9/11. I would have been willing, in the first rush of rage, to melt down the mountains of the Middle East to glass. But our president reacted like a president and not an enraged citizen. His initial response, to go into Afghanistan, was not only appropriate, it was controlled, considering what had happened.

This is America. Step on this soil to do harm and take the consequences.

That is my feeling.

Do not attempt, as Lincoln said, “to take a drink from the Ohio by force.”

We welcome people from all over the world. We help people all over the world.

But do not — ever — think that our kindness and our hospitality betokens an unwillingness to defend this country. That would be a mistake.

Today, on this anniversary of that day when someone dared to come onto American soil and kill 3,000 Americans, we are considering whether or not we should advance what has become an unending bleed of random military actions into yet another country. This time we are talking about military action in Syria.

We could, if we wanted, kill everything, everywhere. This country has that kind of power.

But the question is, should we? Not, should we kill everything, everywhere, which I think we all agree is not a good plan, but should we constantly and without much thought zap this little problem and that little problem and go here, there, and everywhere, firing off missiles and sending in troops for various, decidedly random, reasons?

Touch this homeland, defile America itself with your ancient hatreds and tribal feuds, and you will face us. That much is certain and non debatable. 

But we need lines — bright, shiny lines — about when enough is enough to our endless military engagements overseas. We need to understand, for ourselves and not for anyone else, what we are doing and why we are doing it when we use our military force.

Random wars are an inexcusable misuse of the lives and treasure that the American people have invested in their military and entrusted to their elected officials.

If I will not sacrifice one of my children to your random war — and I will not — then I do not have the right to sacrifice other people’s children to it, either. So long as the board of directors of General Dynamics and Raytheon and Halliburton and all their almost numberless cohorts do not have their children wearing those “boots on the ground” we keep talking about, then any war we engage in is unjust at the outset.

Take their kids out of their expensive private schools, take away the keys to their cars that cost more than my house and send them to Syria alongside the inner city kids and working-class kids who fight these wars. Insist that the newscasters who are pushing so hard for war, war, any war with anybody anytime, send their children to fight.

That might change the rhetoric a bit. If the people who are benefitting from these wars actually started paying part of the cost of them, it might adjust their thinking.

9/11 still makes me angry. Sadly, that anger is mixed now with a sense of betrayal by my own government.

I pray that this changes.

 

Murder in the UK: Reflections on Terror

Jessica Hoff, who blogs at nebraskaenergyobserver, gives us the British-eye-view of what she described as “the atrocity” in her post Reflections on Terror.

The “atrocity” Jessica refers to is the cold-blooded murder of a British soldier by Islamic radicals. Jessica raises a number of questions in her blog post that I think deserve thoughtful discussion. I hope that Public Catholic readers can contribute to it in an equally thoughtful way.

Here, reprinted with permission, is what she has to say:

Reflections on Terror

MAY 28, 2013 BY JESSICAHOF

The media in the UK has been dominated these past few days by the atrocity in Woolwich. Thanks to the ubiquity of what we call mobile phones and you call cell phones, we know precisely why the murderers did what they did. They wanted to take revenge for the deaths of Muslims in Syria,Iraq and Afghanistan. As the main cause of death among Muslims in these places is the action of other Muslims, one might stop and wonder who educated these kids; and then, when one knows, it makes sense. They were educated by hate-preachers who batten like parasites on some mosques, and who preach a message which has nothing to do with love and everything to do with hate. They have a version of what has happened since 9/11 (and earlier) and they feed these impressionable kids with it. The questions which occur to me is why that version is so easily swallowed?

Part of the answer to that is our own MSM. It took against the wars of Afghanistan and Iraq and has preferred to peddle a narrative of blaming Bush and Blair rather than one of asking what those regimes were like and why their overthrow has been a good thing; let’s play politics, people, it isn’t as though there is anything bigger at stake.

Here, let it be said, Bush and Blair have not been helpful to their own cause. Whatever the truth of the WMD claim, it turned out to be wrong, and it may well have been an excuse to do something they thought needed doing; if so, they have both paid a heavy price for any misleading statements which may, or may not, have been made. Interesting that neither of them was prepared to make the real case – that these regimes were barbarous and needed taking down. Perhaps if they had left it with Afghanistan, where the Taliban were utterly repulsive and when Bib Laden was being sheltered, it would have been better. But what happened, happened, and the narrative in our MSM is manna from heaven to the fundamentalist Imams everywhere. They have no trouble pointing out that our own media does not believe our own Governments, which feeds into their own narrative – that there is a Crusade going on.

This is not just mendacious, it is the opposite of the truth. From Kuwait and Bosnia in the 1990s, and through to Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, the West has actually tried to save Muslims from being slaughtered by other Muslims. If there is a criticism of the West, it is that there is no crusade; there is an attempt to bring peace.

But here there may be a failure in geopolitical vision, albeit one which is understandable. Muslims are fighting each other because they unhappy with the way things are in their own countries. Their leaders, at least in the Middle East, have tended to be brutal tyrants who rule with a rod of iron – in that sense Assad in Syria is typical.  We assume that these people want what we want – peace and stability and democracy. But where, in the history of that region is there warrant for such a belief?  Take the Palestinian problem. The Arab world is plenty rich enough to have provided each displaced Palestinian with another home and money – it has chosen not to because it wishes to keep a grievance against Israel.  It is plenty rich enough to spend its money on development and not guns, but it chooses the latter.

I wonder if it has occurred to anyone in power in our countries that these people do not want what we want, and that far from thanking us for our help, they don’t want it. Not sure where that reflection leads, but thought it ought to be articulated. (For more great posts by Jessica Hof, go here.)

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Book Review: All Missionary Work is Relational

For a link to buy Making Friends With the Taliban or to join in the discussion about it, go here

 

Making Friends With the Taliban is the story of one Christian missionary’s work in Afghanistan.

Dan Terry built his work in this war-ravaged country through what I have been told by other missionaries to the Middle East is the only way to do it. He did it by building relationships.

This can be difficult for Westerners because our internal clock is set differently than that of people in other parts of the world. We are accustomed to running by the clock. We want meetings with focus and clear-cut agendas which we follow check, check, check down the list, then set a time for another meeting and adjourn.

This not only doesn’t work in other parts of the world, it is highly offensive and rude. The successful missionaries I’ve known, the ones who actually accomplish things in other cultures, are either able to re-set their internal clocks to run on local time, or they are made that way to begin with.

I think usually it’s the latter. From what I’ve seen, God calls special people for this work. They look the same as the rest of us, but they are not. To begin with, there’s the question of fear. The missionaries I’ve known have been quiet, gentle people who wait on God rather than storming heaven. But they are also surprisingly nerveless in situations that would send me right over the top of the wall.

Getting lost doesn’t faze them. Rocky boats on high seas don’t ruffle them. Falling out of trees and getting bashed hundreds of miles from medical care is all in a day’s work. I once had a missionary friend describe getting stabbed at a roadblock with the gentle comment, “we ran into some rascals.”

They are also gifted with great hearts for the welfare and well being of other people that the rest of us might just want to run away from. Their ability to not even see the external trappings of people and look straight through to the person has never ceased to amaze me.

Dan Terry evidently had all these abilities in large quantities. He was one of those special people God calls for this special work of nurturing, raising up and equipping people who are trapped in centuries of living as the downtrodden and the forgotten.

A woman missionary friend of mine who had spent years in Egypt told me, “Everything in the Middle East is relational.” Based on this book, it would appear to be the same in Afghanistan, only perhaps more so.

Dan Terry had the gift of relationship mission building. It allowed him to do things few other Westerners could. But it also alienated his more clock-and-agenda-bound colleagues in his missions sending organization. This conflict of ways reached the point that the organization eventually severed their relationship with Dan.

I’ve seen this same sort of thing with missionary friends of mine who were affiliated with other agencies and who worked in other parts of the world. Based on what I’ve seen with my friends, I think it may have been more than a misunderstanding between Dan Terry and his missions organization.

Professional jealousy of a type that might surprise the more idealistic was the primary motivator for troubles between my friends and their colleagues. They could, as Dan Terry could, work with and convert people who the rule-bound missionaries could not even really talk to.

In their field of Papua New Guinea they successfully converted hundreds of people to Christ while their co-workers stayed isolated with their books and their grudges. All this was intensified by the fact that they were the only Americans there, which evidently made them crude and rude in their colleagues’ eyes.

God calls special people to do this work. There is a place for the academicians and bean counters in missions work. But a lot of times that place is not in the field. People being what they are, this can create hostility and jealousy.

Making Friends Among the Taliban is the story of the work of Dan Terry, a missionary who had “it.” He had the ability to do the kind of relational work that any successful missionary must have. He was punished for this ability by this missions society and ultimately let go by them. That is their disgrace, not his.

This book does not have the clear narrative style of a page-turner, and it also doesn’t have the heavily-footnoted scholarship of an academic study. But if you want to read an outline of the work of a man who knew how to do relational missionary work, I can’t think of a better source.