“Bush’s Brain” opined as follows in the Murdoch Street Journal yesterday…
In an interview with CNN’s John King on Sunday, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel said President Obama is now asking tough questions about Afghanistan “that have never been asked on the civilian side, the political side, the military side and the strategic side.” It was a not so subtle dig at Mr. Obama’s predecessor and was meant to distract from the White House’s mishandling of the war.
The Bush administration did in fact conduct a top-to-bottom strategic review of Afghanistan in 2008. That review was provoked by two developments.
The first was that Pakistan’s government wobbled starting in 2006. It cut deals with tribes that created safe havens for the Taliban and al Qaeda and then became distracted from fighting terrorism as President Pervez Musharraf was pressured to leave office and replaced by a new democratic government. The second was al Qaeda’s decision to refocus its efforts on Afghanistan after having been driven from Iraq.
In response, I’d like to provide this link that tells us that, while the threat of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in Iraq was quite real, to say nothing of the suicide attacks, “Pentagon documents leaked to the Washington Post (around April 2006) regarding Zarqawi have revealed that Al Qaeda in Iraq is fabricated.” And just to refresh our memories, this McClatchy story tells us the pains the Bushco regime went through to try and fabricate a link between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein.
And as far as the Obama White House’s supposed “mishandling of the war,” Cenk Uygur “keeps his eye on the ball,” so to speak, by telling us the following (here)…
Right now, there is a debate as to what President Obama should do in Afghanistan. As there should be. Should he send in more troops? Does it make sense to escalate the war without a viable partner in the Afghan government? Will this be his Vietnam? Woh, woh, woh … whose Vietnam?
What is not being talked about enough is the disastrous situation George Bush left for Obama in Afghanistan (as he did in just about every aspect of government). What the hell did Bush do in Afghanistan for over seven years? Apparently, not a damn thing.
Do you know how many troops Bush had in Afghanistan in early 2008? He had an unbelievably small contingent of 26,000 troops in the whole country. At the same time, he had 160,000 troops in Iraq. I don’t know if you know this, but Iraq did not attack us. The people who did attack us on 9/11 lived in … Afghanistan.
So Bush had 26K troops in Afghanistan, and we’re debating about whether or not we should have almost four times that amount now.
And before any of this occurred, Afghanistan had been our radar, as it were, since the Soviets were driven out of the country, mainly for the following reason (as noted here)…
The strategic location of Afghanistan can scarcely be overstated. The Caspian Basin contains up to $16 trillion worth of oil and gas resources, and the most direct pipeline route to the richest markets is through Afghanistan.
The Alternet article discusses in length how the American company Unocal (aided by an Arabian company, Delta Oil) fought Bridas, an Argentine energy company, who had leases to drill for oil in the region…
…and by November of 1996 (Bridas) had signed an agreement with General Dostum of the Northern Alliance and with the Taliban to build a pipeline across Afghanistan.
Unocal wanted exclusive control of the trans-Afghan pipeline and hired a number of consultants in its conflict with Bridas: Henry Kissinger, Richard Armitage (now Deputy Secretary of State in the Bush Administration), Zalmay Khalilzad (a signer of the PNAC letter to President Clinton) and Hamid Karzai.
Unocal wooed Taliban leaders at its headquarters in Texas, and hosted them in meetings with federal officials in Washington, D.C.
Unocal and the Clinton Administration hoped to have the Taliban cancel the Bridas contract, but were getting nowhere. Finally, Mr. John J. Maresca, a Unocal Vice President, testified to a House Committee of International Relations on February 12, 1998, asking politely to have the Taliban removed and a stable government inserted. His discomfort was well placed.
Six months later terrorists linked to Osama bin Laden bombed the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, and two weeks after that President Clinton launched a cruise missile attack into Afghanistan. Clinton issued an executive order on July 4, 1999, freezing the Taliban’s U.S.-held assets and prohibiting further trade transactions with the Taliban.
Mr. Maresca could count that as progress. More would follow.
Immediately upon taking office, the new Bush Administration actively took up negotiating with the Taliban once more, seeking still to have the Bridas contract vacated, in exchange for a tidy package of foreign aid. The parties met three times, in Washington, Berlin, and Islamablad, but the Taliban wouldn’t budge.
Behind the negotiations, however, planning was underway to take military action if necessary. In the spring of 2001 the State Department sought and gained concurrence from both India and Pakistan to do so, and in July of 2001, American officials met with Pakistani and Russian intelligence agents to inform them of planned military strikes against Afghanistan the following October. A British newspaper told of the U.S. threatening both the Taliban and Osama bin Laden — two months before 9/11 — with military strikes.
According to an article in the UK Guardian, State Department official Christina Rocca told the Taliban at their last pipeline negotiation in August of 2001, just five weeks before 9/11, “Accept our offer of a carpet of gold, or we bury you under a carpet of bombs.”
And Think Progress tells us of the following from here, as the Iraq war and the neglected Afghanistan war dragged on…
JANUARY 24, 2006: Army has become “thin green line”
Stretched by frequent troop rotations to Iraq and Afghanistan, the Army has become a “thin green line” that could snap unless relief comes soon, according to a study for the Pentagon. [AP, 1/24/06]
OCTOBER 4, 2006: Iraq and Afghanistan war vets say military is overstretched, underequipped. 63 percent of all Iraq and Afghanistan veterans believe the Army and Marine Corps are overextended. 67 percent of Army and Marine veterans believe their forces are overextended. [VoteVets Action Fund, 10/4/2006]
OCTOBER 19, 2006: Staff on the House Veterans Affairs Committee report that the “number of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans who have sought help for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) doubled — from nearly 4,500 to more than 9,000 — from October 2005 through June 2006.” [McClatchy, 10/18/2006]
And Bush’s “boy genius” tells us more…
There is also the heavy whiff of politics in the administration’s war deliberations. The president’s senior political adviser, David Axelrod, apparently attends war cabinet meetings—something I did not do as President Bush’s senior political adviser.
For Rove to imply that he separated the wars from politics is laughable in the extreme; here is another reminder…
Implying that Democratic Party liberals were little better than traitors, Rove continued, “Conservatives saw what happened to us on 9/11 and said: we will defeat our enemies. Liberals saw what happened to us and said: we must understand our enemies. Conservatives see the United States as a great nation engaged in a noble cause; liberals see the United States and they see … Nazi concentration camps, Soviet gulags, and the killing fields of Cambodia.”
Yep, I would call that an example of the “heavy whiff” of something, but not politics (certainly befitting of Rove’s nickname, though).
“Decisive support” of a new Afghan strategy is certainly required, though (one to help remedy the failures of the old strategy, or what passed for one, by Rove and the rest of the disreputable Bushco bunch).
Update 10/25/09: I guess it shouldn’t at this point any more, but it continually astonishes me how much our lapdog press seems to crave pro-Bushco BS like this (a “secret plan,” huh?).
Update 10/27/09: And silly me for thinking that Rove was telling the truth about supposedly not participating in “war cabinet meetings”; maybe he didn’t, but he’s a liar for saying that he never participated in high-level national security meetings, as noted here.