Saturday, June 25, 2011

American Troops; Afghanistan, Exodus, and Debate

       In relation to the growing deficit, the amount of U.S. dollars spent funding of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have reached the trillions. On June 23rd, President Obama delivered on his expected speech of the Afghanistan exit strategy, and announced his plan to honor his campaign promise by bringing the troops back home (Not entirely, but 33,000 by fall 2012 and 70,000 by the end of 2012). Of course, being that it is a plan from a generally unpopular government individual; the President’s plan is receiving a heavy share of criticism. The Afghanistan US and NATO commander David Petraeus stated that despite the military’s advisements on the plans for withdrawal, the President decided on a more “aggressive” plan. They want to safeguard whatever security gains they’ve made in recent years and do not want Afghanistan to become a terrorist sanctuary once the U.S. withdrawals. Democrats and Republicans both disagree on the timeframe; Democrats believe the withdrawal is too slow, while Republicans believe it to be too fast. Some believe the plan struck a line in the middle of the timetable, with the plan being not too fast and not too slow. However, it’s hard to say whether the President struck that chord. Many critics are simply holding themselves to party lines, of course. Both parties refuse to see the benefits for both of their interests.
       From a Republican point of view, the war is indeed costing around $120,000,000,000 per year to fund; and with that cost going down quicker, the debt ceiling would not have to rise as dramatically in the next five years. One would think this would be an important factor to consider when deciding to oppose the plan. The Republican platform for most GOP candidates is to “cut all spending”. They attack government programs, however, cutting military spending is seldom brought to the table and now it is considered risky. America’s cost to fund the war pose a greater threat to the collapse of the nation more than the partially crippled Taliban. Republicans need to admit that the war has not been an American success story, and the majority of Americans do desire an efficient exit strategy. Democrat leaders strongly support a much more accelerated withdrawal plan and downplay the President’s middle of the road schedule. They may be pinning their hopes of keeping government run programs from being severely cut on the notion that less spending overseas may soften the deficit. Democrats should be pleased that we have an exit strategy and a timeframe, regardless of the fact that it is not fast enough by a small margin. They should also understand the reasoning behind the plan’s opposition, as many might have America’s best interests in mind. Democrats must understand that the exit strategy cannot simply take our troops out, but we have to leave a stable, self sufficient government and military.
       A counter argument by some individuals point out that Afghan interests are not our own and that it should not matter what condition we leave that country in. However, if we leave the nation unsustainable and not self sufficient, then the Taliban will have a stronger uprising due to a failing government, country and economy. It is unwise to write off the Taliban as a threat, even without Pakistani arms providers. The Taliban must be crippled and kept from gaining more traction. They are already beating our soldiers (200,000 Americans and an estimated 20,000 Taliban), and we have to take into account the risks associated with leaving a poor nation with a weak military up against a terrorist organization. The uprising of the Taliban does pose a threat to our national security. And knowing the U.S. foreign policy, we will not resist intervening and assisting the Middle Eastern nations that are under Taliban attacks. As unwise as it is to pose as the world police, we will likely engage in war with the Taliban again if it poses enough of a threat to the Middle East and U.S.

So, in essence,

Stronger Afghanistan military/government = Taliban does not gain as much strength = Less attacks on other middle eastern nations and the U.S. = Less motivation for the U.S. to intervene.

       Another prudent subject matter is our own progression; can we continue to fund such a operation of inefficiency? According to a recent poll done by the Pew Research Center, the majority of Americans believe that American forces should be removed from Afghanistan. Our nation is in times of which we cannot risk any more of our American soldiers or dollars in an attempt to bring democracy to a land of which operates as a theocracy and accustomed to dictatorships. The Taliban is not receiving any arms from Pakistan at this time, and the last thing Pakistanis or the Taliban are going to do is antagonize U.S. forces during a time of withdrawal negotiation. The Taliban plan to seek and take Kabul but do not possess the resources to do so at this time. If we are going to leave Afghanistan, we have to ensure that the nation is self sustaining and capable of building on itself; if it is not stable, then the Taliban will take over again. It is a fair argument that the withdrawal plan is a half year too fast, however, but the progress made in ten years despite the raid and killing of Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden, it is also fair to say the progress made in Afghanistan has been nil. Would six months make a difference? Not entirely, as some supporters of a faster withdrawal say. There is enough flexibility in the plan to take conditions on the ground into consideration. Many fail to see that, and those of strong opposition may be pleased to see the timeframe change due to these conditions. Military advisors will be involved in the withdrawal of U.S. troops.
        If the U.S. funding of the War on Terrorism is draining our economy (or at least is a large portion of it) then why is the GOP opposing a quicker timeframe of withdrawal and why are some members supporting the bombing of more foreign nations (Libya). We do not need another war and we do not need more enemies to fight. Too many U.S. soldiers have died fighting a war that has crippled our economy and cannot be won. One would believe that something that is heavily draining an economy would likely be evaluated and cut. War usually stimulates an economy; this one has created surging deficit issues and a shameful body count. Democrats should be more supportive of the President, as he did propose a feasible and flexible plan, and they should consider ground conditions and keeping our safeguards intact. If the conditions we leave Afghanistan are poor and unsustainable then we will likely have to fear a higher uprising of the Taliban. We must embrace this plan and exercise whatever flexibility it offers. If we leave Afghanistan an unsustainable army and political machine, then the Taliban will likely feed off of rural areas, grow larger and push the Afghan armies away from those areas to fall back to their cities and lose stability. Stability of the Afghan military is the key to Afghanistan’s resistance to the Taliban and their key to political stability. Once the nation falls to the hands of an expanding Taliban (expanding due to areas being rural and economically destroyed) then the military will die down, and terrorism will become a larger threat due to the country being run by a terrorist organization and there being no military of government opposition. We have to assure ourselves that we leave the nation stable and self sufficient, and the timeframe the President proposed is beneficial to this notion as it gives enough room for ground info-based modification and gives the American people a proper timeframe to satisfy their desire for an exit strategy (also the less money spent in Afghanistan, the more money that gets pumped back into the economy).
        The President conceded near the end of his speech that it is time to focus on nation building in our domestic lands. Our people serve as America’s greatest resource, and we need to invest in them. Taking war funds and investing them in nation building is an idea worth giving credence. We’ve let our nation’s economy and class structure collapse under its own weight due to poor spending, decline in the value of the dollar, and a myriad of other irresponsible decisions and actions by Wall Street, Government, American people, and the military. We need to break out of party lines and form solutions to this debt crisis, and one can hardly argue that the wars we cannot win and the wars that take billions away from the pocket of the American tax payer is not a good place to start. But in order to break free of party loyalty, bias, laziness and unwillingness to compromise, our citizens and representatives need to grow up. And if we judge by the attitudes and attitudes that divide us as a people, that conceit is appearing less likely as the days pass.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Reign of Retrogression; Greed, Convenience, and Coattails

“Partisanship is our great curse. We too readily assume that everything has two sides and that it is our duty to be on one or the other.”

-James Harvey Robinson

           It is difficult for even the most stubborn of wills to retain any sense of optimism. Refraining from adopting any form of cynicism is difficult when our nation is staring economic and social collapse in the face and refusing to take on the issues at their core. Nowadays, we'd rather become enveloped in petty partisan politics and sensationalist based journalism. Any state of mind, pre-conceived notion or ideal can serve as a hallucinogen and distorts a person’s ability to view a situation or issue from an objective standpoint, and that is one of the most prominent issues we, as Americans, have today. Our lack of ability to objectively tackle the problems we face in our nation is bringing us to further collapse, while we simply get caught up in the non-issues and flavors of the week. America; once a nation of progression, innovation, world class leaders and self proclaimed crusaders of democracy, have now been disgraced with an image of laziness, impertinence and imperialistic attitudes. We’ve become a sideshow of incompetence to developed nations in the western world, and now the countries we helped foster, have learned of ways to better their American mentors. We’ve truly been left behind.
        We’re quick to label our fellow Americans as “socialists” or “Anti-Americans”, and we speak of each other’s political parties as if they’re akin to football teams and to compromise is treason. We put no emphasis on discipline, sacrifice and education; we fail to educate our youth and in turn, give them the ability to vote on issues that even the educated adults fail to address, let alone reach a compromise that benefits the constituents they are elected to represent. We are selfish enough to think that we must always inflict our personal beliefs, convictions, feelings and misconstrued ideals on each other, hindering the freedoms of who was supposed to be our American brethren, simply so our slumber may be a bit more sound, knowing those we disagree with will have less options and freedoms to do what they feel in their hearts (as strongly as we feel about our ideals) is the most just and beneficial for them. We are narcissists with delusions of grandeur. As Americans, we were not always humble at heart, and we have often been seen as brash and daring, but we came out victors, despite how divided we may have been at the time. However, gone like the snows of yesteryear, is our ability to innovate, flourish, create and improve. Due to our post-modern state of mind, based on the decisions and actions of American citizens and politicians, we’ve come to the conclusion that progression is not the wisest policy, but retrogression is the most moral and correct path to travel. We’ve become a nostalgic nation; yearning for days of former glory and gloating about achievements made by men and women who are now dead, and we are leaving nothing for our grandchildren to be proud of aside from oppressive legislation, a failed economic market, and a narcissistic population that resists the input and application of useful knowledge.
            Gone are the days of American factories, single income households, worker benefits, affordable health care, and atomic families. One of our most prominent issues that is a source of infrastructural decay, is greed. Not to say this hasn’t always been an issue, but now that corporations are larger and have learned a myriad of ways to turn a profit, we seem to be finding ourselves suffering for decisions based only on the dollar (whose value is dropping by the day). Greed has forced our former American workers’ jobs overseas to nations that have both higher educated workers, but also ones that accept less pay for more work. Greed has destroyed our privately owned stores, farms and restaurants and replaced them with large corporations that have made become our only option for acquiring life essentials. Health care has become a luxury of the financially gifted population, and insurance companies have complete legal grounds to use any and all excuses to find ways out of paying for your ailments or injuries. Most households cannot survive on a single income parent, but rather require a dual income, taking away a parent’s option to choose to remain at home raising our next generation properly. One cannot argue against the notion that corruption is fueled by greed, and that greed driven corruption drives our legislation and we have a tendency to turn a blind eye towards the faulty dealings on Wall Street. Americans fail to identify the double standards that permeate the nations streets; if an everyday American citizen of whom is living paycheck to paycheck fails to pay taxes, the IRS immediately takes that individual’s property and acquires what the government is owed. However, if this irresponsibility and tax evasion is performed whilst wearing a suit, tie and a businessman’s grin, the penalties are nonexistent. Prosecutors turn the other cheek. This nation has been robbed and pillaged by investors and corrupt individuals. Americans have been robbed of the currency that was rightfully theirs.
        However, looking into such monetary crimes and patterns of corruption is not entirely in the priorities of our proud patriotic people. We retain a strong affection for a Constitution that we don’t even understand, largely due to the fact that it is not featured on any reality shows that we Americans love so much. Americans have adopted an itinerary of buzzwords that they associate with what is American and just; two terms they forget can be mutually exclusive. These buzzwords (capitalism, free market, unconstitutional, democracy, ect…) are words of which most do not know the meaning of, however, they toss them into an argument, debate, anecdote or exclamation of opinion in order to sound like they’re literate in what is American or what has happened in our past. They equate the forefathers and framers to the twelve apostles; they raise them up onto God-like pedestals, buying into American hype which fuels American arrogance, and they proceed to bury their heads in the sand upon hearing anything to the contrary, no matter how factual. However, opening a textbook is something of an inconvenience and difficult thing for many Americans, and if we Americans were not so addicted to what is easiest, then we likely would be a more productive and intelligent nation. Instead, we’re plastered to our electronic devices, lifeless leeches of consumerism shuffling through a shiny shopping center. 
         We avoid instilling any ideals and morality into our children, as it is too much of an arduous affair to raise proper persons of potential. We ignore any source of information unless it comes from a representative of what political team we apply to (Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Keith Olbermann, ect…) and we buy into the searing sensationalist statements made by individuals like these, or even by our own politicians. Our politicians have learned how to play us, and will sell themselves and their agendas using whatever tactics necessary. If it wasn’t too inconvenient to take the time to peer through the murky visage of corrupt conceit, this nation may have improved by this point. Americans desire quick fixes and don’t grasp the concept of patience, and our addiction to convenience is a hindrance to our progression as a nation.
        Our nation is under a strong influence of post-modern patrons; bent on taking the United States back to times of which many of our fellow countrymen and women would be under persecution and denied the basic freedoms that we take advantage of and let be taken everyday. Many of our own fellow Americans desire a new nation that is reconceived in the liberty that they believe some should have as opposed to all. Our nation’s ideals, principles, practices, beliefs and legislation reflects how we’re taking steps back; our retrogression is becoming our downfall. No rights are easier to take then the ones that we’re willingly ridding ourselves of. We’ve stopped attacking the higher up aggressor and those that destroy freedoms and attack each other; asking the higher up aggressors to take away their freedoms as well, instead of fighting for it for ourselves and our fellow Americans. America  is not progressing; our economy no longer has traction, foundation and does not prosper. Our legislation is becoming more oppressive, we are still engaging in wars that are draining our monetary sources and causing us to rack up debt, and our politicians play politics whilst avoiding making any changes in both legislation, government and management that would benefit the country instead of crippling it. Our citizens are unmotivated and are products of poor education, our youngest generation (even the oldest generations) have become parasites of privilege, we avoid looking at issues in an objective/constructive manner and we’re turned against the men and women that are supposed to be one of us. 
        If America  does not find a way out of this pattern of non-progression, we may find ourselves being a debtor nation to even the poorest of countries and becoming nothing but mere property and our great grandchildren will be writing checks to buy our individualism and monetary independence back. And we will leave those great-grandchildren a poor environment to live in as well. We must rid the nation of the corporatism that lengthens the class gap in order to re-establish feasible capitalism and free-market. We must abandon the prejudices of our parents and politicians and embrace each others’ race, color, creed, sexuality, religion, and ideals rather than spit in the face of our different countryman by passing legislation that denies them basic rights. And lastly, we need to abandon the bigotry that masquerades as morality. America needs to refrain from riding the coattails of the achievements of past generations and understand that each generation's achievements are theirs to gloat about and theirs alone, and to be proud Americans we need to take the reigns of the nation's direction and do something that we can take pride in. This is our calling in these times of tentative turbulence.

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