Wednesday, August 30, 2017

A new low.

This is a new low,
This op-ed piece appeared on the New York Times website and, presumably, its print edition.

The Opinion Pages | Op-Ed Contributor

Contractors, Not Troops, Will Save Afghanistan

Now that's not necessarily any worse than the right-wing bullshit that the Times regularly publishes from hacks like David Brooks and Ross Douthat, but what makes this anew nadir in the annals of journalism is the author of this piece. I cut two words out of the original headline, here it is in full:

The Opinion Pages | Op-Ed Contributor

Erik Prince: Contractors, Not Troops, Will Save Afghanistan

Yeah. Eric Prince. Brother of Betsy DeVos and, more germanely, the owner of Blackwater (or Xe, or whatever it is they're called now), the largest mercenary army in the world. Prince has been openly lobbying the tRump administration to let his private army take over operations in Afghanistan, and now the New York Goddamm Times is giving him a platform to promote his own money-making scheme as if it were some sort of objective, considered opinion.

This would be like seeing an editorial entitled "Why Electroc Cars Should be Mandatory" by Elon Musk. Or "Dogs Must be Banned" by Fluffy the Cat.

This spring, as Afghanistan policy was debated in Washington, the president asked for fresh options to end the war honorably. Faced with two choices — pulling out entirely or staying the course —

Yeah, there are more than two choices. I would argue that pulling out entirely is the only option that makes any practical or moral sense, but the possibilities are virtually endless. We could send in more troops, have fewer troops, remove all troops and concentrate on blowing up weddings and birthday parties Al Queda bases with drones and missile strikes. Why are you pretending there are only two options?

Faced with two choices — pulling out entirely or staying the course — I argued strongly for a new approach, a third path that would put in place a light footprint of American Special Forces, as well as contractors to work with Afghans to focus on the goal that Americans really care about: denying America’s enemies the sanctuary they used to plan the Sept. 11 attacks.

Oh my God. Are we still pretending that that is a thing that can happen? That we can blow up enough of Afghanistan that Al Queda or ISIS or whoever will no longer be able to plan attacks against the West? They can plan attacks from their base camps in Syria, in Somalia, in the Philipines. . . They don't even have to have a central gathering place, I'm sure they know how to Skype.

But please, tell us about your new approach.

The third path I’m talking about is not untested, even if it has been forgotten. When the United States first went into Afghanistan in 2001, it devastated the Taliban and Al Qaeda in a matter of weeks using only a few hundred C.I.A. and Special Operations personnel, backed by American air power.

So. . . how is this a "new" approach if it's what we did 16 years ago? Oh, wait. I see the difference. The new plan is we do the same thing we already did but with the added strategem of paying millions of dollars to Eric Fucking Prince! Brilliant!

Later, when the United States transitioned to conventional Pentagon stability operations, this success was reversed. Since then, the Pentagon’s biggest innovation has been to vary American and NATO troop levels from 9,000 to 140,000, and to increase civilian contractors to a peak level of 117,000 during President Obama’s “surge.”

So One Hundred Seventeen Thousand private contractors couldn't get the job done, even fighting alongside 140,000 US troops, but this new idea is . . . wait for it.. . . A smaller number of contractors are you fucking serious?

But history shows clearly that sheer tonnage does not win insurgencies. In all of them, when a foreign “invader” dominates, the weaker indigenous forces wait and learn.

 Oh, fuck you with your bullshit quotation marks around the word "invaders." We are the invaders. We are the dictionary definition of the word "invaders." You can argue whether or not we had a legitimate causus belli to invade, but invade we did. We are the foreign invaders, we need to own that.

The “new” strategy that the president adopted last week would reportedly increase authorized troop levels from 8,400 to around 12,400. This will merely continue the conflict. And no one can seriously argue that this strategy won’t inevitably require more spending, more troops and more casualties. In a war that has already lasted twice as long as Vietnam, is this the “new” strategy we want?

No. No one wants that. But does that mean that we'd rather have a bunch of cowboy mercenaries over there not subject to the Uniform Military Code of Justice or any civilian law, killing with impunity? You think that sounds like a better option to any sane person?

My proposal is for a sustainable footprint of 2,000 American Special Operations and support personnel, as well as a contractor force of less than 6,000 (far less than the 26,000 in country now). This team would provide a support structure for the Afghans, allowing the United States’ conventional forces to return home.

Oh, that sounds great. You know, the San Francisco giants are having a pretty lousy year, maybe if they only field 6 players instead of the 9 they've been using, that new approach just might turn things around for them!

This plan would use former Special Operations veterans as contractors who would live, train and patrol alongside their Afghan counterparts at the lowest company and battalion levels — where it matters most. American veterans, whose extraordinary knowledge and experience could be vital to Afghan success on the ground, would serve as adjuncts to the Afghan Army and would perform in strict conformity with Afghan rules of engagement, eliminating the stigma of a foreign occupying force.

How? How would that stigma not still be attached to US personnel? And how would these Afghani soldiers not be seen as collaborators with the foreign invaders? And has the Afghani military shown any real desire to be a part of this plan? Because it sounds awfully familiar, American "advisors" training the locals, has it ever worked?
I mean, I get that you don't care. You probably would prefer that it did not work so that the taxpayers could keep paying you for this fool's errand in perpetuity, but the rest of us care. And we're sick of this pointless bloodshed. We just want to bring our troops home. And no one is buying the idea that you are some sort of honest broker in this and not a walking conflict of interest. No one is falling for that. Except, apparently America's paper of record, who has hit a new low.