The debate over the strategy and size of America's military and diplomatic involvement in Afghanistan/Pakistan is in full swing. As we approach a major presidential decision on the future of the military force structure in Afghanistan, the only consensus there seems to be among serious experts on this region is that few "good" options exist for the president -- only a choice between unclear paths to success.
But one thing is obvious in this debate. There is now a blatant and breathtaking attempt underway by conservatives, neoconservatives and the political right in general to obscure the failed history of America's last eight years in Afghanistan -- the one that they are personally responsible for.
Whether it is the public comments of former Vice President Dick Cheney (the most thoroughly discredited high-ranking public official in my lifetime), his now prime-time, neoconservative, neostarlet daughter Liz Cheney (aka, Sarah Palin with credentials), or any other utterly discredited far-right "thinker" like Bill Kristol or Frank Gaffney (a man who I must remind you said that he was "delighted" that 4,000+ American servicemen and women had died in Iraq -- see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wdEtTZk3yCc at the 4:00 minute mark ... ), a harpies' chorus of discredited Bushies have emerged from their bunkers to launch a full frontal assault on reason and history with the goal of pinning blame for "failure" in Afghanistan on President Obama.
Combine this attempt at revisionist history with one part "let's scare the American people," add in a healthy dose of both "Obama is weak" and "torture works" and -- voila -- there you have the new Republican national security strategy.
What is so astonishing about this is not just who is delivering this message -- the very people responsible for our failures in both Iraq and Afghanistan -- but that it is not even a strategy to begin with. Just like their current lack of anything approaching a domestic policy, Republicans and conservatives have made a conscious decision not to find ways to fix their foreign policy blunders of the past. They have no interest in trying to help this country and its new President (its only been 9 months, remember?) stabilize, regroup and win the current overseas disasters that they left us.
Rather, Cheney, his daughter and the entire Conservative band of amateur revisionist historians have arrived at a blatant political calculation that the best strategy is to rewrite history -- to try and hide the fact that since 2001 they grossly mismanaged not one but two wars; that they tortured prisoners and think we still should; that they disregarded the Constitution, civil liberties and the rule of law; that they lied to the American people about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq; that they failed in regards to Iran and North Korea; that practically the entire free world despised our foreign policy; and, worst of all, to obscure their failure to adequately plan for their war of choice in Iraq -- the direct cause of why we find ourselves today losing the war of necessity in Afghanistan.
President Obama is about to make the most important national security decision of his young Presidency. He is weighing a choice that will undoubtedly cost American servicemen and women their lives, as well as cost this nation untold sums of money. He should -- and is -- making this decision slowly, carefully and with as much debate about the right course of action as is humanly possible. He is attempting to put in place a strategy for Afghanistan for the first time since the Russian invasion ended in the 1980s. Those are not my words, they are Secretary of Defense Bob Gates'.
We've seen the rush to war before -- in Iraq in 2003. That cost me 4,351 (and counting) of my fellow brothers and sisters-in-arms, all for a false threat the Bush Administration sold to a fearful country. I will not forget that. We, as informed citizens, must not allow those responsible for the past eight years of failure to re-enter a debate they no longer deserve to be a part of. I hold them accountable for the mess we are in today -- that is the real history.