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Why Don’t the Candidates Talk About Afghanistan?


Why Don’t the Candidates Talk About Afghanistan?

Peter Van Buren

Heading into its sixteenth year, with no endpoint in sight, America’s longest war is its least talked about.

Afghanistan has not come up in any Republican or Democratic debate, except perhaps as one of a list of countries where Islamic State must be destroyed (left out is the reality that no Islamic State existed in 2001 when the U.S. invaded Afghanistan to defeat the Taliban, who, by the way, are still not defeated.)


Why don't the candidates talk about Afghanistan?

It's that old third monkey thing.


In a Democratic debate a moderator asked Bernie Sanders what he would do about the 10,000 US troops in Afghanistan. He dodged the question by going back to his economic inequality stump speech. The moderator pointed out that he didn't answer the question but that produced no specific answer. The moderator then asked Hillary Clinton the question and she said that she would have to review the issue after taking office to see where things stand at that time. I doubt if the voters are going to learn much more from either candidate during the primary.


It's all so depressingly predictable. Afghanistan, the graveyard of empires. Even a blind man could see it. Yet Obama believed it the "smart war" and Hillary pushed for the bigger troop surge (while in the throes of her love affair with Petraeus). Even Bernie voted repeatedly for it.

It all comes down to the one thing, I guess. As General Smedley Butler put it, with knowledge born of vast experience, "War is a racket."

.... and we are a nation of racketeers.

We lost a family friend in the Obama surge. He was seduced by the army recruiters in high school, to fight in a land thousands of miles away, for a mysterious, dimly understood cause. He killed for his country and was killed, in his turn, by an IED placed by someone who deeply, understandably resented his presence among the pomegranate groves of Kandahar.



Nothing went wrong. Once, again, the win-lose mindset misses the point. There was never any serious intention of defeating the Taliban, only taking a piece of the country from them for the sake of establishing a military presence. The Taliban just provided a convenient enemy for the sake of propaganda because they gave refuge to Bin Laden. Maintaining a strategic and military presence has always been the objective. Winning and losing battles is a by product, a cost of maintaining a presence and something to sell the folks, back home. As long as this country's foreign policy is war, there will always be a war in Afghanistan. It's the poster child for endless war.


Yes. Another NATO presence on the borders of the old Soviet Union. Brezezinki's grand chessboard.

.... as the demonization of Putin is ramped up (to Hillary he is "a new Hitler") and the nuclear clock ticks relentlessly toward midnight.


How many people even remember the original reason for invading Afghanistan? 9/11, right? The official narrative was that Osama bin Laden was holed up in a cave there directing 19 Arabs armed with box cutters to commandeer 4 passenger jets, two of which brought down three buildings in NYC and one that punched a huge hole in the Pentagon that just happened to kill the investigating team that was looking into what exactly happened to the trillion or so that Rumsfeld said had gone missing from the "defense" budget the day before. Never mind that the invasion was planned months before 9/11. Never mind that the real reason for the invasion had more to do with hegemony over resources, pipelines, etc. than it did Osama bin Laden.

Can any war justified by such lies and false pretexts ever end well?



Do "we," which is to say, the citizenry profit from these foreign wars of naked aggression or do they profit the oil barons, weapons producers, and those industries that supply the military's needs?

With the income gap bigger than it's been since the Robber-Barron era; and with the Page and Gilens Study PROVING that citizens' wishes are NOT on the corporate-congress' "to do" list; and with corporations increasingly gutting what's left of our would-be Democracy, how accurate is it to define what benefits the corporate oligarchs with what speaks to the nation and its people?

Thousands of young people camped out for days to catalyze an awareness that there is a gap between the 1% Decider Caste and the 99%.

Yet daily in this forum, that necessary distinction is blacktopped over as poster after poster conflates we, the citizenry, with the motives, actions, and benefits commandeered exclusively by the 1%.


The War on Drugs created its own prison-plantation system. To process the countless arrests, more lawyers came into the fold, as did lobbyists for prisons, bail bondsmen, and beefed up police departments.

To end the war on drugs would challenge this infrastructure.

In my lifetime, I've had the privilege of meeting a few holistic doctors who knew how to cure Cancer. I SAW it with my own eyes. One of these doctors was forced by the AMA to leave the U.S. He now thrives in Costa Rica.

Cancer IS big business inside the U.S. I recently met a man who told me that his (now deceased) wife's Cancer treatment cost $800,000. (I had no idea it ran that high!). Multiply that number by the millions of cases of Cancer that now are a staple of this nation's "health care" system.

Here again, to introduce a holistic cure would put a lot of people out of business. In other words, it's a threat to the infrastructure that's already in place.

These two examples bring me to my point as per Afghanistan. The nemesis, that the U.S military's presence constitutes in this region also involves a certain infrastructure. To dismantle it means a forfeiture of predictable War Costs.

Years ago when I lived in Key West I watched the city maintenance workers literally tear up the streets year after year. One day a friend of mine was hanging out with one of these employees and in my typically blunt fashion I told him that it seemed to me that the city was giving itself routine lobotomies... digging up its "brain corral."

He told me that IF the practice wasn't done, there'd be nothing to bill and that city operations relied upon the funds tied to said billing.

In North Florida there's far too much forest clear-cutting going on, and on top of it, on remote country roads crews come out to kill yet more trees. They do this by extending the "open space" on both sides of the road by more footage (apparently) each year.

It hit me that this is all the problem of REDUNDANCY. Instead of coming up with creative new incentives and ways to improve the nation's needy infrastructure, the bureaucratic zombies just reassign the same tasks year after year.

It's this mindset, added to the infrastructures that guarantee workers' jobs and salaries that enable systems that do very little good... and far more harm. These systems become entities that then argue for their own existences.

The War in Afghanistan like all current U.S wars does NOTHING to make the world safer, and NOTHING to end terrorism (to the contrary, they magnify the problem)... but they DO guarantee the Money Chain to the war profiteers, MIC, and all those generals who will one day take their positions on weapons-producing CEO boards.

Blood profits and folly... the only possible outcomes when the nation is led by devotees to either Mammon (the love of $/profit motive) and Mars (the war machine, i.e. The Beast).

Another WAY and World are possible! But they sure as hell won't come from those who only argue FOR their limited world view and enforce it onto the rest of us!


Siouxrose, I don't conflate the "we," or blacktop over the distinction between the 1% and 99%. As a U.S. citizen (who also pays taxes), these things are done in my name, with my unwilling assistance. And if you follow my link you will learn about my young friend who lost his life in Kandahar province, during the Obama/Clinton/Petraeus troop surge in 2010. Chris Moon was very young (20 years old when he died), the son of a full blooded Navajo mother, who adopted the tribal warrior ethos and was seduced by U.S. Army recruiters into his wider nation's corporate war, lacking the deeper insight that may have come with more years on this planet. He made the wrong decisions. He took lives he had no right to take and paid for those crimes with his own life, of only 20 years. I'm not one to decry P.C. censorship or diminish the importance of language, but in this case I think your criticism crosses the line. I support Democracy Spring and all of the brave war resisters. I count myself as one of them. For me the we is all inclusive.


To quote Mary Poppins, "Oh piffle".
Heroin production is up, as are honor killings. Leggs pantyhose and guess jeans have been traded for veils and burkas. Education for women is to learn to be domestics and bear children starting at the time of puberty.
Boys are endowed with ak47's and taught guerilla fighting technique from earliest ages.
In Iraq a foreign state has declared itself the new caliphate and with the help of US weapons (now where did they get those tow missiles and Abrams tanks and ammo from anyway?) and the US, Russia, and EU cannot seem to dislodge them though they have supposedly been trying to do so for several years now.
The Russians learned in 10 years what the US has not learned in 16 years (even with the benefit of the Soviet folly for instruction as well as the the failure of the Greeks, British, and others to conquer this place--which is why it is called the graveyard of empires).
As far as the Afghani and Iraqi people are concerned, things were better under Saddam and the Taliban than they have been since then and that isn't saying very much. In the US, war has become peace, to quote Orwell, and economic stimulus for the transfer of wealth to those who don't need it except to exercise dominion and power over others. That is the defecating elephant in the "big tent" of US political parties that everyone is trying to studiously ignore.


.... while the greater criminals, Hillary Clinton prime among them, continue to profit and thrive within the system which WE have allowed them to create, if only through our relative indifference to the crimes committed in our names.


The candidates should talk about Afghanistan. The war there has been going on longer than the other wars in which we are involved. Obama promised to end it this year & broke his promise. The West has been there longer than the Russians. We have killed more people in the ME & South Asia than there were people that died in the 9/11 attacks in New York.


By an order of 500 fold. Well over 1 million lives have been sacrificed to the U.S. war machine since the neocon project for regime change (in the name of American Exceptionalism) was first launched in 2002 with the invasion of Afghanistan. Not to mention the several millions of refugees from the war zones which have led to the immigrant crisis in Europe. Hillary Clinton is a hard core, Kissinger admiring, Albright hugging, Kagan loving, Nuland hiring, Netanyahu blowing, card carrying neocon. Masquerading as the only viable "progressive" in the game, her election will be a disaster for this country and planet earth. And no, I'm not a Bernie Bro, although I do hold a slim hope for his candidacy.


I find this sentiment disconcerting... and dishonest.

The WE characterized by American imperialism as engineered by shadow elites with pro-military objectives is NOT indicative of the true sentiments or morality of a sizable component of the nation.

Similarly, what is true of white males is NOT true of everyone else although from the dominators' perspective, the distinction is immaterial.

It worked the same way when the dominant culture (run by anglo-European males) subsumed Native Americans into itself to the point where cultural customs became taboo and children were actually removed from Indigenous families to be conditioned by the church-state to adapt the values and behaviors of that same dominant culture.

When policies are implemented by muscle and forced onto persons, it is disingenuous to claim that they represent all persons or that all persons came into agreement with these muscular agendas naturally.

The emphasis on ONE all-encompassing WE works to foreclose alternatives. It sets up ONE norm and suggests that anything that challenges it is irrelevant.

It's easy to see how this construct works within the political arena. Only 2 teams which both play for the same owners are set up as legitimate. In that way the ILLUSION of choice is promulgated. But any threat to the status quo candidate (Cruz/Clinton) is treated not just with hostility, the entire press corps., fake voting shenanigans, and other trickery is utilized to ensure an already established outcome.

There are MANY views that reflect OTHER than war and the primacy granted to the MIC.

Many people have rightly come to the conclusions that:

  1. The U.S. is no longer a functioning Democracy
  2. A Deep State sets foreign policy into motion
  3. The MIC has become the beast that Eisenhower warned against
  4. A virtual coup inverted the nation's government around the time of the JFK assassination and since that time, mechanisms have been gradually established that preempt democratic checks and balances

When a government becomes tainted by covert agencies, it loses its legitimacy and at that point--it is no longer a fair, balanced, and honest representation of that great ocean of WE, The People.

In many ways, those that continue to identify with the WE lend cover to very dangerous entities and operations.

I will continue to challenge the point.

Just as Christians don't necessarily speak for Jews or Muslims, and far too few men speak for women or women's rights, nor do many Caucasians act as honest brokers for Black Lives (mattering), the term WE typically codifies the will, acts, and intentions of a particular DOMINANT group (empowered white males--which doesn't mean that all white males are empowered) and blankets the results over everyone else.


Your "We" does not speak for me.

I dissent... and so do millions of others.


Oh... another new name to push the "Blame the People meme."

How you clones test my patience!

This is the SAME rationale that might be used to blame the Black community for crack cocaine; or for blaming slaves for slavery; or blaming Palestine for its "aggression."

Whenever there are asymmetric arrangements of power... and posters like you feign a level playing field that doesn't exist, I must conclude that you're either a soldier who can ONLY identify with the premise of force/winning/top dog/dominance/personal responsibility, or incredibly naive.

Where is the agency...

The Supreme Court has given torture a pass along with the rights of corporations to pollute as they wish AND purchase the lawmakers who will grant their indecencies endless clemency.

Where is there an open mass media that can properly inform the body politic about what's going on?

Posters like you (and I call you a clone because I have countered the points you made--and they've been made in pretty much the same way repeatedly over the last few years by all sorts of screen names, ALL of which sound alike) work to set up an either-or paradigm.

Either citizens are responsible (and to blame) or they are not.

No shade of gray--allowing for levels of power within a hierarchical system--dare come into play or under analysis.

What seems to be the logical conclusion of these species of commentary is the call to BLOODY in the street revolution.

I've watched this before. Posters discredit the organized approaches of people like Bill McKibben and make light of people like Amy Goodman in their committed efforts to raise consciousness. Nothing is ever enough or good enough.

By countering the action that IS going on while insisting that the malevolence of leadership is really The People's Fault, the only allowable (to these posters) response is to remove them.

The simplicity of the construct screams ignorance.

As if it's possible to just remove them.

As if the flaws in the now fully entrenched systems are not systemic.

As if there isn't a mass media, gigantic military apparatus, and all sorts of deep state operators who wouldn't act to maintain the existing status quo.

I don't buy your arguments and I've certainly heard them (ad nauseum) before... possibly by YOU under another screen name.

If someone on my street murders a child I am not going to say that it was my fault or that I am responsible.

If leaders betray citizens by making illegal wars on the basis of false flag operations and send Deep State operators out to assassinate other world leaders, I am not going to say it's my fault or my responsibility.

This planet's history (since the onset of patriarchy about 5000 years ago) has been little more than bloody power struggles that typically pitted elite families (and their church-state counterparts) against the world's Peoples.

Those who would blame the Natives for being conquered and suggest that what the conquerors then did is the responsibility of the natives either are blind to actual power relationships or wish to make them invisible... in order to prop up cases for Freedom and Democracy which are as hollow (and false) as the stories we were told as children... such as "Columbus discovered America" and that "George Washington chopped down a cherry tree, but couldn't tell a lie" (about his deed), etc.


So many people are working for justice in so many ways, but like the MSM that bends over backwards to make this week's Democracy Protest invisible, YOU do likewise.

You are transposing the EVIL done by people in power onto The People as if it wasn't the actions of those with power, but the purported ignorance of the innocent that bears responsibility.

That's a moral sleight of hand... and it also strikes me as a major component in the tool chest of trained disinformation specialists.

Your brain needs an enema.

There are no avenues of address within an inverted totalitarian system.

The people might want redress but those they must approach to see justice's scales balanced... are committed to anything but.

How could someone like Chelsea Manning--reporting on the ghastly crimes of the MIC--experience genuine justice when she had to go before a kangaroo court made up of those who authored the crimes?

I've watched amazing Black women roughed up by police talk about the problem of having to go through channels--connected to those same police--in their search for justice.

That brings me to the point of my earlier post--that when the systems of redress are as clogged as bad city toilet pipes, and there IS no redress... the only option would SEEM to be bloody revolution.

That's what I think you're trying to foment. And it strikes me as the pose of an agent provocateur.

I happen to see the "raising consciousness" component as wiser and the path to more lasting changes. But it's difficult to raise consciousness in a national pool of more than 300 million people when the mass media infuses their minds (not to mention the atmosphere and air waves) with disinformation, 24/7.

Sometimes I wonder if I met some of you (clones), if hitting you over the heads with a hard vase might open up obviously closed mental channels.

In my view, that would be the merciful thing to do.

(Seems like "Wereflea" is off today, so you're taking his place. That is always the protocol. One "blame the people" clone not posting, but another pops up to take his place... down to posting lots of comments. All day.)


Good lord, Siouxrose.... talk about needing a brain enema! Well, I guess you don't need an enema when you have explosive diarrhea :wink:

I am no clone of anybody nor do I have an agenda (as if!), let alone the one YOU suggest. I am one person, trying to express myself about the nightmare of the imperial project which has destroyed OUR democracy and taken the lives of countless innocent people, and specifically, the war in Afghanistan, the progenitor of the neocon project in which I also lost a young family friend, Chris Moon, the son of a full blooded Navajo, who was seduced by the all pervasive state propaganda into enlisting in its cause. I am well aware of the existence of shadowy elites and the Deep State which controls the imperial agenda. I have protested and taken part in numerous direct actions against this leviathan. I have been beaten up by police and arrested a half dozen times. What have you done besides mindlessly attack others and spew your self righteous narcissistic diarrhea on these pages? Lordy, I've tried to like you but you make it damn near impossible, what with your precious purity and deeply offended self righteousness.


They were people like you who destroyed the Anti War movement of the 1960's and 70's, with your precious purity of language and stunted ideology.


Step away from the keyboard... take a pill.... lomotil?.... smoke a joint.... whatever.