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Friday, December 04, 2009  

Out here in the perimeter there are no stars. Out here we is stoned, immaculate. Please see this absolutely crazy video dispatch from a British news program regarding the in-combat drug habits of the Afghan Army. I was speaking with a friend about Afghanistan yesterday, and I said that there is really no end state, just a variation between two options; we stay and keep al Qaeda and the Taliban at a handsbreadth bay, or we leave, and al Qaeda reestablishes bases out in the trackless wastes between population centers, that we can perhaps keep an eye on by keyhole satellite and occasionally bomb. My friend, who voted Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush, Kerry, Obama, said “well, why can’t we just start the second option now, because the first will turn into the second eventually anyway, in the long run. We can’t and won’t stay there forever. Why don’t we just start the future now, and stop the active war? Every close action we fight, every bomb we drop in a populated area, we just lose track of the narrative and let the worst people in the world characterize us as murderers. We bomb a base, and all they have to do is put up a sign that says 'hospital,' shoot a picture, and post it on the web.”

To which I replied that he was right, but the problem was, of course, that the worst people in the world had already been given so, so many images that anything they get now is just a bonus. When you’ve given the world this, what else is needed? I don’t disagree with his point, but the whole thing is just such a desperately sad, fucked-up disaster (witness the video linked above, with the teenage soldier, blind high, chuckling and wandering unsteadily out on the veranda to empty his clip at the sky, while the professional Brit soldiers crouch behind the covering stone wall) that it’s hard for me to really be “for” or “against” any option.

I know that's a cop-out, but in a lot of ways, so is sending in another 30,000 troops and crossing your fingers. Not that I don't hope it works, because I do, I really, really do. Just as I felt about the surge in Iraq - I thought that was going to be an abject failure, but hoped for the best. I was wrong about that - while the Iraq escalation may not have been the legendary success some say, it certainly was not an abject failure. So here's hopng I'm wrong about this one, too.


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