Swamp Beasts of the Potomac

“You don’t need to be a brilliant geopolitical strategist to understand that the United States should be the best friend –and the worst enemy – any nation could have” — says the president of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies in an August 18, 2021 Washington Times op-ed. Truthfully, I haven’t got a clue who would qualify as a “brilliant geopolitical strategist” – but maintain absolute certainty that Clifford May doesn’t rule himself out as one. The evidence of that will be presented in due course.

He goes on: “Following the events of recent days, the U.S. will be perceived differently: “harmless as an enemy but treacherous as a friend.”” Who is cited inside those quote marks isn’t said. But, since May bragged about dining with Afghan president Ghani in a column a week before that, the lamming ex-chief exec sounds like one source. A sap that gets swindled on schedule for years on end is always called a double-crosser for finally wising up. Afghan grifters probably felt they deserved the take just for putting up with the wind blowing from both ends of American bagmen.

The US has poured money, ordnance and American lives into a country of 40 million — that is up against an army of 80,000 – for 20 years. Leaving aside any credentials the FDD prez proffers in the strategery department – his nose for treachery is sniffing at the hind quarters of the wrong dogs — that pungent Pashtun cuisine must have overwhelmed his fragile senses. Continued funding of tribal chieftains pretending to defend the peasants in their fiefdoms, who use the loot instead on bacha bazi boys and feathering their own nests, is what’s treacherous — to American taxpayers. That’s a kind of betrayal people who feed at the same troughs May does call “patriotism.”

Is there any legit outrage left these days? The billion dollar boondoggle rackets of beltway banditos faded into sideshows while performances of the great oppressed commanded center stage. But tell humanitarian bombers its closing night and they can chew up scenery like wokies who suddenly find out they have to pull their own weight. Americans are constantly browbeaten for falling short of that perfection no other country comes close to…and simultaneously informed of their responsibility to hose the grease off foreign politicians—while policy wonks pump it on them with the other hand. Our betters have been smoldering in think-tank armchairs swilling XO brandies while looking down at us for long enough.

Nobody, with or without any level of clearance, will ever be able to tell us where all those shekels ended up making the world safe for dumb-ocracy. What we all know is that as the buying power of a dollar thins it isn’t the living standards of people selling international integration that take the hit. Does anybody doubt that the dire rhetorical demand for strident US involvement abroad is funded by taxpayers? How much money do you think think-tanks get from guys whose kids enlist? People who make bombs, like any other profit motivated provider, don’t like them sitting idly undetonated in arsenals. So, who do think charitably keeps guys like Clifford May cranking out word barrages?

The Washington Post gave us Condoleeza Rice the same day as May’s Billy Idol like exhortation for “more, more, mooore.” How much more does it take to satiate people whose meal ticket has no relation to their production of measurable value? Here’s the pivotal paragraph:

“No –they didn’t choose the Taliban. They built a fledgling democracy with elected leaders who often failed but didn’t brutalize their people as so many regimes often do. It was a government that never managed to tame corruption and the drug trade. In this, Afghanistan had plenty of company around the globe.”

Who says the unconnected in that long suffering land chose any of the conditions they’ve endured for generations? Noticing that state of affairs doesn’t justify an open ended commitment from a foreign power. If it did the US would take on responsibility for the fate for at least one billion around the globe – at a minimum. Meanwhile, such elite distractions deprive large numbers of choices right here in the United States. Pouring resources into this black hole of an investment never harms its proponents. The people who pay have monthly anxiety attacks about making rent.

The population of Afghanistan outnumbers the Taliban by 500 to 1.  That the leaders we backed chose not to fight them in any competent way is common knowledge to observers published outside the US. They sucked up the gravy while many Americans on the scene — from privates to hoity-toity “experts” – looked on. Those details aren’t classified. It’s never the ones who see daily fire who hog the airtime or column space. Go to a bar frequented by Vets of the conflict. They tend not to be spilling tales of our hierarchy doling out “brilliant geopolitical” strategy. Firsthand accounts are the only ones we can have confidence in.

You can spring around the op-eds and find a variety of opinion. The “Why we failed” essay will be a literary industry well into autumn. It dominated the Sunday opinion columns of nearly every daily newspaper in the US. The Wall Street Journal had 8 pieces on it in the “Review” section of the Weekend issue. The Washington Post “Outlook” ran 6. The New York Times held it down to 3 in its Sunday Review. The cover page had no copy just the image of an American bomber’s shadow over desert sand and the title: “Our Saigon,” followed by the sub: “What we owe the victims of America’s failed war in Afghanistan.” None of these 17 homilies devotes a single sentence to the underwhelming odds the Afghans face. The US has maintained a presence of less than 10,000 troops for the last 5 years — and the country fell in 11 days when the last 2500 withdrew?

Napoleon claimed: “There is a moment in every battle at which the least maneuver is decisive and gives superiority, as one drop of water causes overflow.” Uncle Sam’s war industry has rendered the little corporal obsolete. Napoleon’s “drop of water” doesn’t flow with American tacticians manning the tap. They’ll take interminable ooze over a coup de grace.

The New York Times really finds a parallel to Viet Nam in order? North and South had populations of roughly equal size throughout the conflict. Both sides were sustained by the world’s mightiest martial forces. The lack of popular will was a factor in Viet Nam and Afghanistan, yes; but the magnitude of degrees does not remotely compare. Saving Afghanistan, with the feeble levels of local commitment evinced, would have required turning the place into a colonized territory of the US.

Overestimating the ineptitude of generals, spooks, PhD’s, elder statesmen, elected officials and DC’s ubiquitous “experts” presents a challenge to a world-class hyperbolist. But for a country that’s been fed greenbacks and ordnance by the C-5 Super Galaxy load 20 years straight to collapse under the weight of a criminal element comprising .2% of its population…even the US establishments’ conclave of klutzes needs help.

The truth is equally clear to any interested layman or international relations guru dragging letters behind his name. We started down this road under Carter helping mujahedeen give Soviets the heave-ho. They didn’t “invade” they were invited in by an elected government—however sketchy poll details may have been. Americans, from common laborers all the way up to Wall Street boardrooms, could not witness a Russky in uniform outside its borders without seeing red in those days. Guilt spread thick across the political spectrum. Even shocking pink Hollywood shied from the facts making “Charlie Wilson’s War” 20 some years later. The clash of nationalistic propagandas has consequences.

Still – after 20 more years – the elite parasites who continue selling out their own country must be called to account. Clifford May, Condi Rice and the Washington DC international “conscience” society won’t make them do it. They had plenty of chances. According to the ultra-righteous, who get paid for demanding foreign intervention, somehow the perfidious Americans’ supposed “unwillingness to stay the course” always outweighs any lack of motivation from foreigners delivering themselves into the clutches of fiends.

In any case, our debt is paid. Afghans might not have chosen the Taliban but they also didn’t go far enough not choosing them. If we had any “brilliant geopolitical strategists” on the job they’d have crammed a little Rush down tribal throats…”If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.”

The clearest lesson to be learned from this debacle is the danger of political and academic Brahmins hoarding the microphones. The idea that only people with invites to the Vineyard or the Hamptons every August can be trusted with a mass audience is what’s treacherous. It’s a much more serious threat than who rules a remote mountain theocracy 7,000 miles from here.

Silicon Valley loathes Archie Bunkers but will gladly stifle dissenters with a vengeance Edith never knew. Who else, except elites in media, international policy, the military brass, academic apologists and ordnance manufacturers, bears any responsibility for what went awry –and not just in this case? But it’s podcasters, social media posters and officially unsanctioned voices generally who must be muzzled? The very ones responsible for this deadly pratfall and the perpetual US foreign policy mudslide won’t lose access to the pulpit. It’s a license that comes with the elitist participation trophy.

In 2002 the power-point presentation of an odd ex-Larouchie named Laurent Murawiec, then employed by the Rand Corporation, to the Defense Policy Board Advisory Committee made a short lived stir across US media. The advice offered at this board’s meet ups is generated by defense contractors. Hence, it should never be confused with new improved schemes to shakedown taxpayers. Mssr. Murawiec wasn’t subtle. The West, he propounded, was suicidally slipshod dealing with the Islamic world. Our more heavy-handed presence was imperative to Occidental survival. Sparing readers all the grisly details the punch line went like this: “Iraq is the tactical pivot, Saudi Arabia is the strategic pivot, Egypt is the prize.” It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to fill in what’s between those lines. Rand soon fired Murawiec, whether it was for his actual views or the fact that they reached the public remains speculative.

Mr. May made no secret of being a fervent acolyte of the Murawiec church at a conference I attended in Mclean, Va. in the Spring of 2006. He went further than what was reported about the power-point presentation ever did. His participation in the several panels that came before us occurred a few hours in. What was suggested entailed a WWII scale military, intelligence and foreign policy operation that would transform most of North Africa and all of the Arabian Peninsula into something far more pliant to Western whims. The crowd, of around 200, was too stunned and too polite to laugh out loud. But it was immediately clear to the speaker he wasn’t winning a soul.

“You have to understand,” we then heard, “that I am an expert. I am an expert!”

We rubes, most of whom spent the better part of a lifetime inside the beltway, were not expected to have come across an “expert” before. Now, try to imagine, after developments in Afghanistan, where the world would be today if US policy makers had adopted any fraction of this advice.

The webs of scryers, tea leaf readers, oracles, astrologers and other snake oil vendors choking the District of Columbia is a perpetual scandal the media perpetuates. We know they drive up the cost of living, get people killed, cause neglect at home and continual catastrophe abroad. Collusion with the Defense Department often renders it a criminal act to report their crimes. Can anything in this country be riper for careful and hostile examination than the think-tank racket?

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