Political discourse – of course!

Archive for April, 2009

Tell me again. Just what are we doing in Afghanistan?

steve_kleur3April 19, 2009

I had a great conversation with some friends last night about Afghanistan. It was the kind of conversation where you wished that some of the players involved in this debacle were in the room to answer some of the more pressing questions. The most obvious of which is, what are we doing there in the first place?

Now don’t get me wrong, I understood the need way back when. We had just been hit by terrorists and we knew where they were. So we go in to get them and rid the world of a menace. But somewhere along the way we lost track of that objective and the mission morphed into getting rid of the Taliban. It was almost as if, upon arriving , we “discovered” a terrible local government and a subject population that needed saving.

So we fell into the trap.

It’s the same trap that the West has been falling into for the last 100 years. Pick a country, any country that has tried to take Afghanistan and what do you see? An implacable enemy in an intractable landscape. The Taliban, or whatever the current land barons call themselves at the time, simply head up into the mountains to wait us out – thinking, quite rightly, that we will get tired of trying to fight an enemy we can’t see.

And so it goes. And the justifications for why we are there get more and more elaborate and confusing; We are there to find Osama Bin Ladin. We are there to get rid of the Taliban. We are there to stop the opium trade. We are there to spread Democracy (my personal favorite.) We are there to gain a strategic military foothold so when Pakistan eventually, inevitably blows itself up we can put a lid on the chaos.

And yet, none of these explanations are even remotely satisfying. All the more so because there isn’t one shred of evidence to date that any of these objectives is working. And now we want to send even more troops and risk even more American/Canadian soldiers lives. And for what? No, really. What exactly do we gain? This is the question that needs answering. This is the piece of the puzzle that is missing. And I would hazard a guess that the politician that can answer that question would receive not only gratitude from a weary populace but also gain some much needed time to figure it all out.


Blue Dogs.

steve_kleur3April 4, 2009

You really do have to wonder sometimes…

Here we are barely 80 days into a new Democratic administration after years in the political wilderness and we’ve already got dissension in the ranks. I’m talking about this new coalition of Democratic Senators who are trying to make political hay by questioning the new President’s agenda. What are they thinking? They finally win the White House and all they can do is whine and worry that President Obama’s policies aren’t fiscally conservative enough? So, I guess by difference they were happy with the old administration’s fiscal policies? Bush ran up record deficits and didn’t even bother to find out what was happening to the economy. Everyone, every single one of the appointees , from the Fed. chair on down, dropped the fiscal ball but these Senators are now all of the sudden worried about the new guy? Please. There is obviously something else at work here.

These elected officials are commonly known as “Blue Dogs”. Basically this term is used to describe a Democrat who thinks and votes like a Republican. And, if history is any indication, they are usually from the Southern states where they would elect a ‘Yellow Dog” before they would elect a Republican. (This is a throwback to the Civil War days when being a Republican was tantamount to treason against your country. Or, at least, the new country you were trying to create by seceding from the union.) In Ronald Reagan’s time they formed a group bizarrely named “Democrats for Reagan.”

I think the Party Whip ought to remind these Senators that you “dance with the one that brung ya” and that the Civil War has been over for 144 years.  You can’t have it both ways. Either get on board with the new commander in chief’s policies and stop whining or else declare yourselves unfit for public service and go where all self serving politicians go – the Republican Party.

President Obama has inherited enough problems without having to persuade members of his own party which way to vote on policy. Dontcha think?