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Commentary Last Updated: Feb 23rd, 2007 - 01:01:13

More, he wants more!
By Jerry Mazza
Online Journal Associate Editor

Feb 23, 2007, 00:58

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No, it�s not Oliver Twist asking fat master Bumble for another bowl of gruel. It�s President Bush asking his well-fed NATO allies for more troops. This time they�re to combat �fierce fighting� which may flare in Afghanistan this spring.

The New York Times said Bush �pressed NATO allies to provide a bigger and more aggressive force to guard against a resurgence by the Taliban and Al Qaeda that could threaten the fragile Afghan state.�

Yet is it likely that NATO or the Congress will react with the indignity of Dickens� Bumble or his superiors, Mr. Limbkins and Mr. Flinders, who suggested that one day �That boy will be hung. I know that boy will be hung.� Yet Mr. Bush seems constantly starved for more troops, more billions of dollars to support them, more need to cover his thinning flanks, more wars to start in more countries, his power-hungry ideologues prodding him to ask for �more� and �more� each day.

American and NATO commanders are also hungry for more troops, as �experts� foresee further gains by the Taliban could put the Afghan government of puppet President Hamid Karzai, former Unocal consultant, in danger. Supposedly the progress made there in 2001 is threatened. Nevertheless Afghanistan�s opium production is at an all-time high. Business is booming at least for the CIA, who taught the Afghans the business.

As usual, President Bush preached to the bobble-heads at the conservative American Enterprise Institute. But even Republicans said Bush�s strategy would not do enough to keep down the irrepressible dope trade, etc. Some even accused Bush of painting too rosy a picture. What, our Bush, rosy pictures? But Democrats were not so rosy, reminding Bush if we weren�t tied down in Iraq, well, perhaps Afghanistan wouldn�t be so, er, problematic.

The �More� speech, which followed the �Surge� preach, was another pitch to stir Congress as they bang heads over withdrawing troops from Iraq, and others question whether Iran forces really supplied Shiites in Iraq with low-tech roadside bombs that hardly needed Iranian rocket scientists to create or supply.

Yet, Bush said that �across Afghanistan last year, the number of roadside bomb attacks almost doubled, direct fire attacks on international forces almost tripled, and suicide bombings grew nearly fivefold. These escalating attacks were part of a Taliban offensive that made 2006 the most violent year in Afghanistan since the liberation of the country.� 2006 was also one of the US�s most violent years in Iraq. Is there any correlation?

Waving his barbed-wire olive branch, Bush asked was the question to �just kind of let this young democracy wither and fade away� or kick some more butt. Is there anybody in the room who still can possibly consider Iraq a �young democracy� rather than an old puppet government whose arms, legs, torso and private parts are being pulled apart by ethnic factions and US economic interests, i.e. Big Oil, private contractors and defense companies, most with a money trail back to the White House?

Predicting the political weather, Bush said, �The snow is going to melt in the Hindu Kush mountains, and when it does we can expect fierce fighting to continue. The Taliban and Al Qaeda are preparing to launch new attacks. Our strategy is not to be on the defense, but to be on the offense.� Wow, does anybody remember who organized �Al Qaeda� in Afghanistan -- the Mujihadeen to fight the Russians from 1979-89? The CIA, I believe is the consensus, with millions if not billions of US bucks and weapons.

And the Taliban, those bearded banditos who had managed to cut the opium crop down to nearly zero in the late 1990s, were also invited around that time to Texas to meet Unocal, to participate in the construction of pipelines from the various �Stan-nations of the Caspian Sea region down through Afghanistan to Pakistan and to the Indian Ocean for export. Unfortunately, the bearded brothers made their would-be Texas Oil partners chafe under their starched white collars and were unfortunately ushered out of the mega-billions deal. The builder, Bridas of Argentina, was forsaken for Bechtel, Unocal and various American and allied oil companies, and the road began being paved for US arrival.

All that was needed was an inciting incident to send our troops to Afghanistan. That tragically. though conveniently, came on 9/11/2001 with the knee-jerk declaration of the War on Terror (TWOT) before any investigation of who the culprits really were. The War on Terror�s first act was the invasion of Afghanistan to find our American Tragedy�s patsy, Osama bin Laden, who hasn�t been seen since. Of course, for the informed this is old history. But those who forget history, and the president is notably oblivious, are doomed to live the circumstances over and over, as in �More, please, may I have some more� and risk, as Oliver Twist did, a hanging.

Bush said that he�s already prolonged the tour of a 3,200-soldier American brigade. And with his licked-clean bowl thrust in Congress� face, he asked for $11.8 billion more to pay for ops in Afghanistan over the next TWO YEARS, until he�s gone but never forgotten. Again, he seems to have missed the point that he lost the Congress in an election mandate to stop the war, first in Iraq, and if possible, Afghanistan, or suffer the slow bleeding of resources as beset the Russians there for a decade.

Parenthetically, as the New York Times points out the Army has stumbled also into the pit of �Moral Waivers� to increase diminishing numbers. That is, extended tours of duty have drained morale and wrecked recruiting. So, to keep the numbers coming, the Army is further lowering �educational, aptitude and medical standards,� along with upping �enlistment bonuses� and also welcoming �entrants convicted of serious misdemeanors and even felonies into its ranks.� This is a story unto itself (feel free to read it), and impacts morally on the �More� disaster.

Returning to President Bush, he and his hungry administration would like to gobble up 38,000 more troops while digesting the present 32,000, for a meal of 70,000 by the end of next year. And for desert, they�ll roll in additional allied troops to support the �fledgling army.� As Bush said, �When there is a need, when the commanders on the ground say to our respective countries, �We need additional help,� our NATO countries most provide it in order to be successful in the mission.�

What about the half-trillion dollars, and hundreds of thousands of troops Bush & Company have already been given, and the incredible sump hole they�re made of the Middle East so far? And not an Osama caught. In fact, he�s been declared irrelevant. Why do Mr. Flinders words echo in my ears, �Ah but one day that boy will be hung. I know that boy will be hung�?

Could it be that in addition to promising new roads, spurred economic development, battling the increased opium trade to forge better ties with Afghanistan, Bush wants �more� help for its neighbor, Pakistan? Yes �more� help/aid for President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan to root out Taliban and Qaeda fighters holed up in the country�s forsaken mountainous regions, a place described as �wilder than the wild west,� and the notion a stranger-than-fiction fantasy.

Critics point out the Afghanistan War (deceptive in its purpose as it was) was �underfinanced, undermanned and under-resourced.� Now the Taliban is back in our face with a vengeance. Karzai is tap-dancing on eggshells; we�re threatening to invade Iran; and Bush can only say, �More, sirs, please.� The �more� is coming from the copper pot of our Treasury, which itself is running $9 trillion in national debt, thanks to �more� war expenditures and �more� tax cuts to the rich, not to mention �more� corporate welfare, more corporate pork-barreling.

So, where is the �more� going to come from? Cashing in on the opium trade? Laundering the profits into the stock market? Printing more fiat money with which we�ll soon be papering our walls? Our so called �remarkable progress� in Afghanistan is claimed to be a parliament that includes 91 women, supposedly 5 million kids in school (I don�t know who�s counting) instead of 900,000 under the Taliban, and the return of more than 4.6 million refugees. Then why is it every photo, movie, article or book I�ve seen or read about Afghanistan presents a ruin, a total ruin, devoid of infrastructure, in large part due to our massive bombings to free it for democracy?

Of course, President Bush�s �More� speech was delivered after Defense Secretary Robert �Iran-Contra� Graves attended his first conference of NATO defense ministers last week in sunny Seville, Spain, where the rain falls mainly on the plain. Mr. Gates pressed at that meeting for guess what, �more.� That is, his counterparts meet their troop commitments in time for a spring �offensive� against the Taliban, somewhere over the rainbow.

NATO now has about 35,000 troops in Afghanistan, about 13,000 of them US. The US has 9,000 more troops in Afghanistan working outside the NATO mission, dealing with �specialized tasks� like counterterrorism and helping to shape up Afghan forces. British General, David J. Richards, outgoing NATO/Afghanistan commander, said last month that NATO was 4 to 5 thousand short.

But NATO commanders also have certain� caveats,� restrictions member nations lay down on how and where their troops can be used and sent. The Bush administrations hungers for �more� ways and places to use and send those soldiers, saying NATO commanders �must have the flexibility they need to defeat the enemy wherever the enemy may make a stand.�

Yet, in the middle of all thisl, I would like to introduce the concept of �fewer� and �less,� in fact, �fewer and less� troops, money, blood, arms, lies, power-mania, new world disorder, profiteering military contractors, oil addiction (for here is where they want to suck it from). Yes �less and less� opium production, less production of �enemies,� �insurgencies,� �terror organizations� like Al Qaeda, weapons, bombs, and sucking up of defective individuals to be handed arms to maim and kill others. In fact, let�s starve the military-industrial-intelligence beast and see who salutes it.

Then we take all that�s left over in the huge copper pot and invest it back in the infrastructure, educational systems, small businesses, tax relief for middle and lower income families, assistance to the poor, disabled and aged, and put America�s pieces back together again. As to that boy crying �more, more, more,� perhaps Mr. Dickens� character, Mr. Flinders, may have had it right: �One day that boy will have to be hung. I know that boy will be hung.�

Now where is it we keep the rope of Impeachment? Or the constitutional rope that is wound from the premise that an illegally begun war allows Congress to refuse any further support for it. Yes, think less. Think less, America. For �less is more� as architects Mies van der Rohe and Buckminster Fuller both said, prompted by Robert Browning�s poem Andrea Del Sarto, in which Del Sarto the painter said. . . .

I could count twenty such . . .
Who strive . . .
To paint a little thing like that you smeared
Carelessly passing with your robes afloat --
Yet do much less . . . --so much less!
Well, less is more, Lucrezia: I am judged.

Judged, yes, and �less is more� is also an enviable design and picture for our human future.

Jerry Mazza is a freelance writer living in New York City. Reach him at

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