On Afghanistan

Phil in the mountains of Kyushu

Yes as to the uncertainty all around on staying fighting in Afghanistan.

Please consider, however, one certainty: that the machinery of Corporate America relentlessly moves on – that it inspired the original 9-11 attacks, and that it yet rules in all its madness, leaving all helpless to it as to the wars it also causes.

To see the real dynamics, of which we may be certain, look back to last week when on same day this online NYT posted an odd pair of stories. One described the large numbers of Pakistani youth who now take their rock music in their rapping, angry versions more favorable to the Taliban than to anything in the West. The other chronicled a 100-million-dollar boon for himself in Kurdistan by one Peter Galbraith. As a former ambassador, member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and writer for the “New York Review of Books,” Galbraith had all the cred he needed to help in reconstructing Kurdistan – but he also parlayed that into his own sweet carpetbagger $100m.

What can we say about American culture now, when corporate “ethics” so rule that one as otherwise decent as Galbraith shows the same underside we all know across Wall St. , D.C. lobbyists, CEOs, infotainment media, arms dealers, higher ed admin, and the Ivy cordon insulating Barack?

The world can see through Corporate America. Afghan and Pakistani youth can see through it. Palestinians can. All global versions of the Iroquois, Cherokee, and Sioux can see what’s happening to them now in their turn, too.

How to change it? First let’s admit that the rot isn’t just from the rabid right – Galbraith is not that, nor Obama, Daschle, Corzine or any number of others in and out of public service from the lefty side. Then let’s admit how well-educated souls also sing to the numeracy tune running the U.S. and the world. This isn’t news. Halberstam told the story in “The Best and the Brightest.” But maybe now things have gotten so bad – so rutted in idiotic wars, too, as you note today – that some will figure yes, we need change – huge change – at the source of corporate imagination. Never mind its genteel gilding: we need to change corporate academe. And we have one federal program, the Fulbright, as first lever to touch all the others.

P.B., Proprietor, www.EssayingDifferences.com

David K. McClurkin
Beachwood, Ohio

It is not the corruptness of the Karzai regime that invalidates our military presence in Afghanistan; it is the fundamental flaw in our reading of history and the present realities of the region. Voices now being heard make it plain that our military role in the region should not be increased or even continued. Centuries of tribal domination in Afghanistan have thwarted any nation that has attempted to control or even have a significant influence there. The United States and others may have the reach, but none have the grasp needed to shape Afghanistan into something it can never be – a cohesive nation capable of governing its millions of people.

We need to quit fantasizing about Afghanistan and make nation-building at home our first priority. Whatever our “interests” are there cannot nearly measure up to what our needs right here at home are.

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