Friday, April 22, 2011

A good reason to go to war?

April vacation, 2009, with Martha and Liz -- same problem, higher cost every day.
I am in Washington DC for some citizen lobbying during my week of school vacation. Ok, I'm also here because pea-size hail was falling on my husband in Maine as we spoke on the phone yesterday. I admit, the warmth and cherry blossoms do beckon in April.

To get up to speed on events around town I called Medea, and she pointed me toward a public policy discussion of the current situation in the graveyard of empires, Afghanistan War: Containing or Leveraging U.S. Power? The Afghanistan Study Group has a good report just out and executive director Matthew Hoh was one of the panelists; Ray McGovern was in the audience, and there were also a number of right wing types who hate the war in Afghanistan. That is, they hate it now that it's Obama's war; before that, they loved it.

CODEPINK wants to pressure the president to bring troops home in large numbers in July, like he promised. So I went to see who else wants to do the same.

Ann Coulter might say that's what she wants to do, but I doubt that she's clear on that point.

During the panel discussion previous to hers, wonky types served up the usual hash of conflicting priorities and unintended consequences. Hoh, a former Marine officer who resigned from the State Department in protest of U.S. policy in Afghanistan, was a beacon of clarity, describing the current situation as a "stalemate" and pointing out that the U.S. is neglecting political efforts in favor of just applying force -- which has not, and will not, get the job done.

Georgetown assistant professor C. Christine Fair participating via video link made some good points,  describing what she termed "the certitude surplus," ridiculous in the face of a lack of real intelligence about Al Qaeda or for that matter the Taleban in Afghanistan. She also wondered how apologists for the war could talk about supporting women's rights "when there are basic human rights lacking. And I say this as a full ovulator." LOL
Malalai Joya (with C.J. Minster) April 7, 2011 in Los Angeles: “War will never help Afghan women. If we have the opportunity, I am sure Afghan women will liberate ourselves with the support of progressive Afghan men.”
By the time Ann came on I'd been listening for a couple of hours, so although she was both as vapid and as snarky as the meanest cheerleader at your high school, her performance was good comic relief.

McGovern, a former CIA analyst, had earlier asked the panel if the fact that there are significant natural gas deposits north of Afghanistan might be driving policy. You think? If Ann believed him, she'd probably be all gung-ho for Afghanistan conquest (again) because she did say of the "good" war, Iraq: "Of course we shuld go to war 'just' for oil -- it's like going to war 'just' for oxygen."
Coulter's bewildered main message on Afghanistan (or maybe it was Libya): Could there be any explanation for why the Democratic party supports wars (she used to support) that serve no American interests? Other than that liberals are totally disloyal and hate our country?

I was pretty sure I knew a reasonable explanation so I put my hand up several times and eventually got called on. Did I mention that when I entered wearing a pink Bring Our War $$ Home t-shirt the event hosts became visibly nervous, and a journalist asked me point blank if I planned to create a disturbance?

Me: "In attempting to understand U.S. foreign policy under a succession of administrations, I'm curious why you overlook the role of the immense profits for corporations that build weapons systems, contract security services, and so forth? It seems to be a very large factor, yet I'm not hearing that."

Coulter's snappy comeback: "That would be one of the advantages of the war." Then apparently sensing that she had just dealt Obama a backhanded compliment, she added: "Obama's spending all this money on, on, on stimulus bills -- oh we're providing jobs for public school teachers, if that were true I'd be more in favor of it --  except, alas, it doesn't serve the United States national security interests."

How did she know I was a teacher? Perhaps because mean cheerleader types have a 6th sense for potential areas of vulnerability. Then again, maybe it was my apron.
Joan, Josie, Larry, and my apron March 19. 2011 Wash DC
5/1 NOTE: Amended my blog to more accurately quote myself and Ann Coulter after I was able to view an online video of our exchange here, starting at 49:41.

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