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
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
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
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.