Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Both Ends Against the Middle

You can say what you like about President Obama and his efforts to disengage the United States from Afghanistan, but he is at least consistent — consistent in missing the point and not seeing the obvious. In today's Washington Post, it is becoming increasingly evident that Mr. Obama hasn't fully grasped the situation in that part of the world . . . or in this part, for that matter. ("Obama's Wars: The Pakistan Conundrum," The Washington Post, 09/29/10, A1, A13.) He seems to keep insisting that programs and policies based on flawed principles — where there are principles at all — are going to work. We just need to make a greater effort, reach out to more people . . . and spend more money. Unfortunately, proceeding on the basis of flawed principles is indistinguishable from denying reality.

The reality of the situation in Afghanistan is that the war is being fought by elements that can retreat across the border into Pakistan any time Afghanistan gets too hot for them. This is a standard technique in "low intensity conflict," or the sort of war you fight without "set battles" where the two sides line up and slug it out (that's more than a little oversimplified, but we're trying to make a point here). It's like the bully who can run into his house after beating you up when he sees your older brother coming, and then sneer at you from the safety of his (parents') living room. If you take the bait and throw a rock through the picture window, it will not be the bully who suffers, but the bully's parents, your parents . . . and, especially, you, for being so stupid.

Of course, the right thing to do would be to go to your parents and get them to try and get the bully's parents to put a stop to his anti-social activities. (Don't laugh. It could happen.) Failing that, get the police to take action . . . if you don't mind being completely ostracized by the neighborhood for being such a baby and calling in the cops when you should be handling it yourself. (Which begs the question — if you could handle it yourself, why would you call in the cops?) The problem in Afghanistan is that the bully's "parents" — the civil and military authorities giving the bully safe refuge — are either unable or unwilling to do anything about the problem . . . and the "police" (the United States) are themselves the ones being bullied.

Of course, even if the Pakistani authorities could be persuaded to act — and Mr. Obama is working on the ineffectual civil administration rather than the military that would be able to act effectively — there is no long term (or short term) program to deliver justice, both economic and political, the lack of which is at the root of the situation. For its part, of course, the military prefers to blame India for all its problems, thereby avoiding being attacked by the bully themselves.  Only a program that would build ownership into all citizens, including (or especially) the military — such as Capital Homesteading — has any chance at succeeding, if only by giving the military a stake in establishing and maintaining a peaceful and just society.

Capital Homesteading deserves consideration not just because it would bring justice to all Americans, but because it has the potential to extend the real American revolution throughout the globe, establishing peace and justice everywhere.

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