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August 12, 2010

Response to the Wikileaks Release as a Litmus Test

President Obama’s immediate response to the Wikileaks release of classified reports from Afghanistan betrayed a troubling misunderstanding of events in that part of the world; even worse, a commitment to the same old beliefs that led us into the 9/11 debacle in the first place.

It’s also difficult for me to understand why the parallel between the Wikileaks event and the Pentagon Papers released by Daniel Ellsberg to the New York Times in 1971 has been missed by so many supposedly well informed observers (but not by all). While the two wars were undertaken for quite different reasons, they also share critical characteristics that would predispose them to failure.

Both were based on dishonest pretexts. Although the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution was based on an outright lie, our entry into Afghanistan might arguably have been plausible as an effort to capture Bin Laden after the crime of 9/11, but that's not how it transpired. We eased up on our efforts to capture Bin Laden in December 2001 and then waited 15 months before invading Iraq on a new pretext. By that time, Bin Laden was inaccessible, an even greater threat to peace, and the situation in both countries even worse. That the current economic debacle may have been triggered by those two wars will be debated by future historians, but the first two international Depressions to afflict the Industrial Revolution were also preceded by wars and triggered by bank failures in Europe and North America.

Beyond that, military history back to Alexander confirms that Afghanistan has successfully resisted efforts at "control" by great powers, particularly when made by armies with different cultures.

These aren't complex issues. They deserve more open discussion and coherent answers in a troubled world.

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at August 12, 2010 05:18 PM