The average Afghan — and, indeed, the average American — may be deriving very little benefit from the United States’ continued occupation of Afghanistan and the billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars that continue to be poured into that country, but in both countries the well-connected make out quite handsomely. In Afghanistan, the key to prosperity and power, it seems, is having the surname of Karzai, as in President Hamid Karzai.
President Barack Obama may have publicly stated that U.S. troops will begin withdrawing from Afghanistan in July 2011, but according to reporter Bob Woodward, both Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Gen. David Petraeus have other ideas. The Huffington Post reports that Woodward’s new book, Obama’s Wars, portrays Gates and Petraeus as anticipating — in Gates’s case, perhaps even desiring — a long-term U.S. presence in the “graveyard of empires.”
During his run for the presidency, Barack Obama promised Americans change we could believe in. Little, however, has changed in domestic policy from the George W. Bush era, except to accelerate the already breakneck pace of government growth. And in foreign policy, the one area where Obama seemed to offer some significant contrast to his predecessor, there has been even greater continuity.
Suppose you’re the President of the United States at a time when your country is facing a $1.3 trillion annual budget deficit and a $13 trillion national debt. Meanwhile, a country on the other side of the world is running a budget surplus but could potentially end up slightly in debt if it pays for its own security instead of depending on U.S. taxpayers to do so. What would you do?
President Barack Obama set a date of July 2011 to begin withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan. This does not, however, mean that the United States will cease pouring billions of taxpayer dollars into the country at the same time.
On August 31 President Barack Obama announced that “the American combat mission in Iraq has ended.”
Your tax dollars at work, as reported by the Associated Press: “As the U.S. draws down in Iraq, it is leaving behind hundreds of abandoned or incomplete projects. More than $5 billion in American taxpayer funds has been wasted — more than 10 percent of the some $50 billion the U.S. has spent on reconstruction in Iraq, according to audits from a U.S. watchdog agency.”
Two days after taking the oath of office, President Barack Obama signed an executive order stating that “the detention facilities at Guantanamo … shall be closed as soon as practicable, and no later than 1 year from the date of this order.”
“If George W. Bush is remembered by getting America stuck in Afghanistan and Iraq, it’s looking like Obama wants to be remembered as the president who got America stuck in Yemen.” These words, from a March Internet address by Anwar al-Awlaki, an American-born cleric and al-Qaeda leader now hiding in Yemen, sum up well the August 14 New York Times report in which they appear.
The federal government loves corporate whistleblowers; they get paraded before congressional committees and treated as selfless heroes out to protect the little guy from big, bad business. Let someone blow the whistle on the government, however, and Uncle Sam’s long knives come out.