Friday, December 11, 2009

Obama's 9 Surges



At Westpoint last week, President Barack Obama announced a much awaited troop surge in the Afghan war he has inherited, and now expanded. Some 30,000 troops, and an untold number of contractors/support staff, would be sent to Afghanistan in the hopes of stabilizing the shattered country. What was lost to the many media pundits who discussed the speech later, is that this is hardly the first "surge" President Obama has implemented. A previous unremarked surge happened in March, when 21,000 U.S. troops were sent to Afghanistan. There have been previous increases in intelligence members and private contractors steadily since November 2008.

In the following article Tom Engelhardt recounts what he calls the "9 Surges of Barack Obama." Time will tell if we'll see a 10th....



The Nine Surges of Obama’s War

How to Escalate in Afghanistan

By Tom Engelhardt

In his Afghan “surge” speech at West Point last week, President Obama offered Americans some specifics to back up his new “way forward in Afghanistan.” He spoke of the “additional 30,000 U.S. troops” he was sending into that country over the next six months. He brought up the “roughly $30 billion” it would cost us to get them there and support them for a year. And finally, he spoke of beginning to bring them home by July 2011. Those were striking enough numbers, even if larger and, in terms of time, longer than many in the Democratic Party would have cared for. Nonetheless, they don’t faintly cover just how fully the president has committed us to an expanding war and just how wide it is likely to become.

Despite the seeming specificity of the speech, it gave little sense of just how big and how expensive this surge will be. In fact, what is being portrayed in the media as the surge of November 2009 is but a modest part of an ongoing expansion of the U.S. war effort in many areas. Looked at another way, the media's focus on the president’s speech as the crucial moment of decision, and on those 30,000 new troops as the crucial piece of information, has distorted what’s actually underway.

In reality, the U.S. military, along with its civilian and intelligence counterparts, has been in an almost constant state of surge since the last days of the Bush administration. Unfortunately, while information on this is available, and often well reported, it’s scattered in innumerable news stories on specific aspects of the war. You have to be a media jockey to catch it all, no less put it together.

What follows, then, is my own attempt to make sense of the nine fronts on which the U.S. has been surging, and continues to do so, as 2009 ends. Think of this as an effort to widen our view of Obama’s widening war.

Full article here.

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